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1826. Ava.


Thanks were voted by Parliament and by the EastIndia Company, to the joint forces, naval and military, both King's and Company's, which had been engaged.* The Court of Directors confirmed the grant of batta to the army by the Bengal government, and authorized an addition thereto, making the total sum granted nearly half a million sterling.

It has already been noticed that the fortress of Bhurtpore surrendered unconditionally on the 18th January 1826. Its reduction became an object of great importance, with reference to the generally received impression by the natives that it was invulnerable, owing to the celebrated and successful defence which it made when besieged by Lord Lake in 1805. The late Bishop Heber, in a letter to Mr. Williams Wynn, dated in the Carnatic in March 1826, wrote as follows: “It “ is really strange how much importance has been at“ tached to the fortress of Bhurtpore. Even in the “ Carnatic, Sir Thomas Munro tells me, the native “ princes would not believe that it ever could be taken, “ or that the Jâts were not destined to be the rally“ ing point of India.”+ It was 'a town of great extent, and everywhere strongly fortified, being surrounded by a mud wall of great height and thickness, with a very wide and deep ditch. The circumference of both town and fort was above eight miles, and the walls in all that extent were flanked with bastions at short distances, on which was mounted numerous artillery.

The preparations for the attack were made on a large and complete scale, calculated to insure ultimate success.

On the 10th December Lord Combermere appeared before it with an army of upwards of 20,000 men, and a field of more than a hundred pieces of

artillery. * Vide Appendix.

+ Bishop Heber's Journal, vol. ii, p. 457.

1826. Bhurtpore.

artillery. During the night the enemy had cut the bund or embankment of a lake to the northward, for the purpose of filling the board and deep ditch; a most essential means of defence, which had contributed largely to the successful resistance of the place in 1805. But they had been too tardy with this operation: the British troops arrived in time to make themselves masters of the embankment, and repair the breach before a sufficient quantity of water had flowed into the fosse to render it impracticable. The following days were occupied in reconnoitring the works and determining the points of attack, until the battering train and its appurtenances should have come up, the fortress occasionally firing upon the reconnoitring parties, and skirmishes taking place between small detachments and the enemy'scavalry encamped under the walls.

Lord Combermere, desirous to save the women and children from the horrors of a siege and of a bombardment, like that which must follow from such a battering train as he was about to employ, addressed a letter to Doorjun Sal on the 21st, calling upon him to send them out of the fort, promising them a safe conduct through the British camp, and allowing four and twenty hours for that purpose before he should open his fire upon the town.

Having received an evasive answer, his Lordship again sent to him allowing a further extension of the time for twelve hours, but the humane offer was not accepted. On the 23d therefore, every thing being in readiness to commence operations, and the north-east angle of the works having been fixed upon as the point of attack, the besiegers under a heavy fire took possession of a ruined village called Kuddum Kundee and of Buldeo Singh's garden, and completed their first


1826. parallel at the distance of about eight hundred yards Bhurtpore.

from the fort. On the morning of the 24th two batteries erected at these two points opened upon the town, and on the 25th another more advanced battery between them having likewise begun its fire within two hundred and fifty yards of the north-east angle, the defences of the east side of that part of the works were in a great measure destroyed. A battery was then constructed bearing on the north face of the same angle, at a distance of about two hundred and fifty yards. The rest of December was employed in a similar manner in strengthening the old batteries, erecting new ones, and pushing forward the works, a constant fire which left scarcely a roof uninjured being kept up against the town, while the enemy seemed to be reserving his resources to the last, and the operations of the besiegers were exposed to no material interruption. On the 3d January 1826 the artillery began to breach the curtains; the ditches in front were found to be dry, and from the ruggedness of the counterscarp, offered fewer obstacles than had been expected. Such, however, was the tenacity of the tough mud walls, that they resisted the effects of shot better than masonry would have done ; it was found that the batteries were insufficient to breach them, and recourse was had to mining. On the evening of the 6th, a mine was commenced in the scarp of the ditch on the northern face of the work, with the purpose of improving the breach: but the engineers fearing that they would be discovered if they continued their operations during the day, sprung it at day-light on the following morning, when it was not sufficiently advanced to have any material effect upon the wall. In making a second attempt the miners


1826. Bhurtpore.

were driven away, having been countermined from the interior before they had entered many feet; and the gallery was subsequently blown up, it being discovered that the enemy were keeping watch in it. On the 14th another mine under one of the bastions was exploded too precipitately, and failed of its effect. Two more mines were immediately driven into the same work, which were sprung on the 16th so successfully, that with the aid of a day's battering they effected an excellent breach, which was reported to be practicable. On the 17th the mine under the north-east angle was completed, and the following day was fixed for the storm.

Early in the morning of the 18th, the troops destined for the assault established themselves in the advanced trenches, unperceived by the enemy. The left breach was to be mounted by the brigade of General Nicolls, headed by the 59th regiment; that on the right by General Reynell's brigade, headed by the 14th regiment: the explosion of the mine under the north-east angle was to be the signal for the attack. At eight o'clock the mine was exploded with terrific effect; the whole of the salient angle, and part of the stone cavalier in the rear, were lifted into the air, which for some time was in total darkness; but from the mine having exploded in an unexpected direction, or from the troops having been stationed in consequence of miscalculation too near it, the ejected stones and masses of earth killed in their fall several men of the regiment at the head of the column of attack, and severely wounded three officers. They fell so thick about Lord Combermere himself, that Brigadier-General M‘Combe, who was standing next to him, was knocked down, and two Sepoys, who were within a


1826. few feet of him, were killed on the spot. The troops Bhurtpore.

immediately mounted to the assault with the greatest order and steadiness, and notwithstanding a determined opposition, carried the breaches. The left breach was the more difficult of the two; the áscent was very steep, but the troops pressed on, and quickly surmounted it, the grenadiers moving up it slowly and resolutely, without yet drawing a trigger in return for the vollies of round shot, grape, and musketry, which were fired upon them. Some of the foremost of the enemy defended the breach for a few minutes with great resolution, but as the explosion of the mine had blown up three hundred of their companions they were soon compelled to give way, and were pursued along the ramparts. Whenever they came to a gun which they could move, they turned it upon their pursuers, but they were immediately killed by the grenadiers and the gun upset. In two hours the whole rampart surrounding the town, although bravely defended at every gateway and bastion, along with the command of the gates of the citadel, were in possession of the besiegers, and early in the afternoon the citadel itself surrendered. Brigadier-General Sleigh, commanding the cavalry, having been intrusted with preventing the escape of the enemy's troops after the assault, made such a disposition of his forces, that he succeeded in securing Doorjun Sal, who with his wife, two sons, and a hundred and sixty chosen horse, attempted to force a passage through the 8th Light Cavalry.

The loss of the enemy could not be computed at less than four thousand killed; and owing to the disposition of the cavalry, hardly a man bearing arms escaped. Thus, as by the surrender of the town, all


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