[Footnote 1: Lieutenant Boileau, 61st Regiment, served in the batteries till the end of the siege.]
[Footnote 2: Are not the names of the Engineers Home and Salkeld and of Bugler Hawthorne (H.M. 52nd Regiment) household words?]
[Footnote 3: Captain Deacon and Lieutenants Moore and Young were wounded in this engagement.]
[Footnote 4: Colonel Deacon, Her Majesty’s 61st Regiment, commanded on this occasion.]
OCCUPATION OF THE CITY
The renown won by our troops in 1857 is now wellnigh forgotten, and, in fact, their deeds in that distant quarter of our Empire faded into oblivion within a very short period subsequent to the capture of Delhi. When the regiments engaged at that place came home to England after a long course of service in India, scarcely any notice was taken of their arrival. There were no marchings past before Her Majesty at Windsor or elsewhere, no public distribution of medals and rewards, no banquets given to the leading officers of the force, and no record published of the arduous duties in which they had been engaged. Those times are changed, and the country has now rushed into the opposite extreme of fulsome adulation, making a laughing-stock of the army and covering with glory the conquerors in a ten days’ war waged against the wretched fellaheen soldiers of Egypt.
Five years passed away after 1857 (and how many poor fellows had died in the meantime!) before a mean and niggardly Government distributed to the remnant of the Delhi army the first instalment of prize-money, and three years more elapsed before the second was paid.
In September, 1861, exactly four years after the storm of Delhi, my regiment paraded at the Plymouth citadel to receive medals for the campaign of 1857. The distribution took place in the quietest manner possible, none but the officers and men of the regiment being present. Borne on a large tray into the midst of a square, the medals were handed by a sergeant to each one entitled to the long-withheld decoration, the Adjutant meanwhile reading out the names of the recipients. There was no fuss or ceremony, but I recollect that those present could not help contrasting the scene with the grand parade and the presence of the Queen when some of the Crimean officers and men received the numerous decorations so lavishly bestowed for that campaign.
The city was entirely in our possession by noon of September 20, and shortly after that hour I proceeded on horseback, with orders from the Colonel, to withdraw all the advanced pickets of my regiment to headquarters at Ahmed Ali Khan’s house. These were stationed in different parts of the city, and it was with no small difficulty that I threaded my way through the streets and interminable narrow lanes, which were all blocked up with heaps of broken furniture and rubbish that had been thrown out of the houses by our troops, and formed in places an almost impassable barrier. Not a soul was to be seen; all was still as death, save now and then the sound of a musket-shot in the far-off quarters of the town.