[Footnote 2: Major Redmond.]
[Footnote 3: Colonel William Jones, C.B.]
ON THE MARCH
After the excitement of the late executions we were prepared to relapse into our usual state of inaction and monotony, when, on the morning of June 13, a courier arrived from Lahore, the headquarters of the Executive Government of the Punjab. He brought instructions and orders from Sir John Lawrence to the Brigadier commanding at Ferozepore to the effect that a wing of Her Majesty’s 61st Regiment was to proceed at once to reinforce the army under Sir Henry Barnard, now besieging the city of Delhi.
That force, on June 8, had fought an action with the mutineers at Badli-ki-Serai, four miles from Delhi, driving them from their entrenched position and capturing thirteen guns. The siege of the Mohammedan stronghold had begun on the next day, but the small band of English, Sikhs, and Goorkhas which composed the force was quite inadequate to the task entrusted to it, and, in truth, could do nothing but act on the defensive against the horde of rebellious sepoys, who outnumbered them by four to one.
It may be conceived with what joy the order to advance was received by the officers and men of my regiment. We had at length a prospect of entering upon a regular campaign, and the hearts of all of us beat high at the chance of seeing active service against the enemy.
To the Colonel commanding it was left to select the five companies composing a wing of the corps to march to Delhi. All, of course, were eager to go, and we knew there would be heart-burnings and regrets amongst those left behind.
The following companies were chosen out of the ten: Grenadiers, Nos. 2, 3, 7, and the Light Company. They were the strongest in point of numbers in the regiment, and with the fewest men in hospital, so that it could not be said that any favouritism in selection was shown by the Colonel. The wing numbered, all told, including officers and the band, 450 men—a timely reinforcement, which, together with the same number of Her Majesty’s 8th Foot from Jullundur, would increase materially the army before Delhi.
No time was lost in making preparations for the march. Our camp equipage was ready at hand, a sufficient number of elephants, camels, and oxen were easily procured from the commissariat authorities, and by eight o’clock that evening we were on our way.
In those days a European regiment on the line of march in India presented a striking scene. Each corps had its own quota of camp-followers, numbering in every instance more than the regiment itself, so that transport was required for fully 2,000 souls, and often when moving along the road the baggage-train extended a mile in length. The camp, when pitched, covered a large area of ground. Everything was regulated with the utmost order, and the positions of the motley group were defined to a nicety.