Frederick Engels in the New-York Tribune 1857

The Fall of Lucknow

Source: New-York Daily Tribune, April 30, 1858;
Transcribed: by Tony Brown.

The second critical period of the Indian insurrection has been brought to a close. The first found its center in Delhi, and was ended by the storming of that city; the second centered in Lucknow, and that place, too, has now fallen. Unless fresh insurrections break out in places hitherto quiet, the revolt must now gradually subside into its concluding, chronic period, during which the insurgents will finally take the character of dacoits or robbers, and find the inhabitants of the country as much their enemies as the British themselves.

The details of the storming of Lucknow are not yet received, but the preliminary operations and the outlines of the final engagements are known. Our readers recollect a that after the relief of the residency of Lucknow, Gen. Campbell blew up that post, but left Gen. Outram with about 5,000 men in the Alumbagh, an intrenched position a few miles from the city. He, himself, with the remainder of his troops, marched back to Cawnpore, where Gen. Windham had been defeated by a body of rebels; these he completely beat, and drove them across the Jumma at Calpee. He then awaited at Cawnpore the arrival of re-enforcements and the heavy guns, arranged his plans of attack, gave orders for the concentration of the various columns destined to advance into Oude, and especially turned Cawnpore into an intrenched camp of strength and proportions requisite for the immediate and principal base of operations against Lucknow. When all this was completed, he had another task to perform before he thought it safe to move – a task the attempting of which at once distinguishes him from almost all preceding Indian commanders. He would have no women loitering about the camp. He had had quite enough of the “heroines” at Lucknow, and on the march to Cawnpore; they had considered it quite natural that the movements of the army, as had always been the case in India, should be subordinate to their fancies and their comfort. No sooner had Campbell reached Cawnpore than he sent the whole interesting and troublesome community to Allahabad, out of his way; and immediately sent for the second batch of ladies, then at Agra. Not before they had reached Cawnpore, and not before he had seen them safely off to Allahabad, did he follow his advancing troops toward Lucknow.

The arrangements made for this campaign of Oude were on a scale hitherto unprecedented in India. In the greatest expedition ever undertaken by the British there, the invasion of Afghanistan, 534 the troops employed never exceeded 20,000 at a time, and of these the great majority were natives. In this campaign of Oude, the number of Europeans alone exceeded that of all the troops sent into Afghanistan. The main army, led by Sir Colin Campbell personally, consisted of three divisions of infantry, one of cavalry, and one of artillery and engineers. The first division of infantry, under Outram, held the Alumbagh. It consisted of five European and one native regiment. The second (four European and one native regiment) and third (five European and one native regiment), the cavalry division under Sir Hope Grant (three European and four or five native regiments) and the mass of the artillery (forty-eight field-guns, siege trains and engineers), formed Campbell’s active force, with which he advanced on the road from Cawnpore. A brigade concentrated under Brigadier Franks at Juanpore and Azimghur, between the Goomtee and the Ganges, was to advance along the course of the former river to Lucknow. This brigade numbered three European regiments and two batteries, beside native troops, and was to form Campbell’s right wing. Including it, Campbell’s force in all amounted to —

 Infantry.Cavalry.Artillery and Eng’rs.Total.

or in all 30,000 men; to whom must be added the 10,000 Nepaulese Ghoorkas advancing under Jung Bahadoor from Goruckpore on Sultanpore, making the total of the invading army 40,000 men, almost all regular troops. But this is not all. On the south of Cawnpore, Sir H. Rose was advancing with a strong column from Saugor upon Calpee and the lower Jumna, there to intercept any fugitives that might escape between the two columns of Franks and Campbell. On the north-west, Brigadier Chamberlain crossed toward the end of February the upper Ganges, entering the Rohilcund, situated north-north-west of Oude, and, as was correctly anticipated, the chief point of retreat of the insurgent army. The garrisons of the towns surrounding Oude must also be included in the force directly or indirectly employed against that kingdom, so that the whole of this force is certainly from 70,000 to 80,000 combatants, of which, according to the official statements, at least 28,000 are British. In this is not included the mass of Sir John Lawrence’s force, which occupies at Delhi a sort of flank position, and which consists of 5,500 Europeans at Meerut and Delhi, and some 20,000 or 30,000 natives of the Punjaub.

The concentration of this immense force is the result partly of Gen. Campbell’s combinations, but partly also of the suppression of the revolt in various parts of Hindostan, in consequence of which the troops naturally concentrated toward the scene of action. No doubt Campbell would have ventured to act with a smaller force; but while he was waiting for this, fresh resources were thrown, by circumstances, on his hands; and he was not the man to refuse to avail himself of them, even against so contemptible an enemy as he knew he would meet at Lucknow. And it must not be forgotten that, imposing as these numbers look, they still were spread over a space as large as France; and that at the decisive point at Lucknow he could only appear with about 20,000 Europeans, 10,000 Hindoos, and 10,000 Ghoorkas — the value of the last, under native command, being at least doubtful. This force, in its European components alone, was certainly more than enough to insure a speedy victory, but still its strength was not out of proportion to its task; and very likely Campbell desired to show the Oudians, for once, a more formidable army of white faces than any people in India had ever seen before, as a sequal to an insurrection which had been based on the small number and wide dispersion of the Europeans over the country.

The force in Oude consisted of the remnants of most of the mutinous Bengal regiments and of native levies from the country itself. Of the former, there cannot have been more than 35,000 or 40,000 at the very outside. The sword, desertion and demoralization must have reduced this force, originally 80,060 strong, at least one half; and what was left was disorganized, disheartened, badly appointed, and totally unfit to take the field. The new levies are variously stated at from 100,000 to 150,000 men; but what their numbers may have been is unimportant. Their arms were but in part firearms, of inferior construction; most of them carried arms for close encounter only – the kind of fighting they were least likely to meet with. The greater part of this force was at Lucknow, engaging Sir J. Outram’s troops; but two columns were acting in the direction of Allahabad and Juanpore.

The concentric movement upon Lucknow began about the middle of February. From the 15th to the 26th the main army and its immense train (60,000 camp followers alone) marched from Cawnpore upon the capital of Oude, meeting with no resistance. The enemy, in the mean time, attacked Outram’s position, without a chance of success. on February 21 and 24. On the 19th Franks advanced upon Sultanpore, defeated both columns of the insurgents in one day, and pursued them as well as the want of cavalry permitted. The two defeated columns having united, he beat them again on the 23d, with the loss of 20 guns and all their camp and baggage. Gen. Hope Grant, commanding the advanced guard of the main army, had also, during its forced march, detached himself from it, and making a point to the left had, on the 23d and 24th, destroyed two forts on the road from Lucknow to Rohilcund.

On March 2 the main army was concentrated before the southern side of Lucknow. This side is protected by the canal, which had to be passed by Campbell in his previous attack on the city; behind this canal strong intrenchments had been thrown up. On the 3d, the British occupied the Dilkhoosha Park, with the storming of which the first attack also had commenced. On the 4th, Brig. Franks joined the main army, and now formed its right flank, his right supported by the River Goomtee. Meantime, batteries against the enemy’s intrenchments were erected, and two floating bridges were constructed, below the town, across the Goomtee; and as soon as these were ready. Sir J. Outram, with his division of infantry, 1,400 horse, and 30 guns, moved across to take position on the left or north-eastern bank. From here he could enfilade a great part of the enemy’s line along the canal, and many of the intrenched palaces to its rear; he also cut off the enemy’s communications with the whole north-eastern part of Oude. He met with considerable resistance on the 6th and 7th, but drove the enemy before him. On the 8th, he was again attacked, but with no better success. In the mean time, the batteries on the right bank had opened their fire; Outram’s batteries, along the river-bank, took the position of the insurgents in flank and rear; and on the 9th the 2d division, under Sir E. Lugard, stormed the Martinière, which, as our readers may recollect, is a college and park situated on the south side of the canal, at its junction with the Goomtee, and opposite the Dilkhoosha. On the 10th, the Bank-House was breached and stormed, Outram advancing further up the river, and enfilading with his guns every successive position of the insurgents. On the 11th, two Highland regiments (42d and 93d) stormed the Queen’s Palace, and Outram attacked and carried the stone-bridges leading from the left bank of the river into the town. He then passed his troops across and joined in the attack against the next building in front. On March 13, another fortified building, the Imambarrah, was attacked, a sap being resorted to in order to construct the batteries under shelter; and on the following day, the breach being completed, this building was stormed. The enemy, flying to the Kaiserbagh or King’s Palace, was so hotly pursued that the British entered the place at the heels of the fugitives. A violent struggle ensued, but by 3 o’clock in the afternoon the palace was in the possession of the British. This seems to have brought matters to a crisis; at least, all spirit of resistance seems to have ceased, and Campbell at once took measures for the pursuit and interception of the fugitives. Brigadier Campbell, with one brigade of cavalry and some horse artillery, was sent to pursue them, while Grant took the other brigade round to Seetapore, on the road from Lucknow to Rohilcund, in order to intercept them. While thus the portion of the garrison which took to flight was provided for, the infantry and artillery advanced further into the city, to clear it from those who still held out. From the 15th to the 19th, the fighting must have been mainly in the narrow streets of the town, the line of palaces and parks along the river having been previously carried; but on the 19th, the whole of the town was in Campbell’s possession. About 50,000 insurgents are said to have fled, partly to Rohilcund, partly toward the Doab and Bundelcund. In this latter direction they had a chance of escaping, as Gen. Rose, with his column, was still sixty miles at least from the Jumna, and was said to have 30,000 insurgents in front of him. In the direction of Rohilcund there was also a chance of their being able to concentrate again; Campbell would not be in a position to follow them very fast, while of the whereabouts of Chamberl ain we know nothing, and the province is large enough to afford them shelter for a short time. The next feature of the insurrection, therefore, will most likely be the formation of two insurgent armies in Bundelcund and Rohilcund, the latter of which, however, may soon be destroyed by concentric marches of the Lucknow and Delhi armies.

The operations of Sir C. Campbell in this campaign, as far as we can now judge, were characterized by his usual prudence and vigor. The dispositions for his concentric march on Lucknow were excellent, and the arrangements for the attack appear to have taken advantage of every circumstance. The conduct of the insurgents, on the other hand, was as contemptible, if not more so, than before. The sight of the redcoats struck them everywhere with panic. Franks’s column defeated twenty times its numbers, with scarcely a man lost; and though the telegrams talk of “stout resistance” and “hard fighting,” as usual, the losses of the British appear, where they are mentioned, so ridiculously small that we fear there was no more heroism needed and no more laurels to be gathered this time at Lucknow than when the British got there before.