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HOME > Short Stories > In Times of Peril A Tale of India > CHAPTER XIII. LUCKNOW.
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 Lucknow, although the capital of Oude, the center of a warlike people smarting under recent annexation, had for a long time remained tranquil after insurrection and massacre were raging unchecked in the northwest. Sir Henry Lawrence, a man of great decision and firmness united to pleasant and conciliating manners, had, when the Sepoys began to hold nightly meetings and to exhibit signs of recklessness, toward the end of April, telegraphed to government for full power to act; and having obtained the required authorization, he awaited with calmness the first sign of insubordination. This was exhibited by the men of the Seventh Oude Irregular Infantry, who on the 3d of May endeavored to seduce the men of the Forty-eighth Native Regiment from its allegiance, and broke out into acts of open mutiny. Sir Henry Lawrence the same evening marched the Thirty-second Foot and and a battery of European artillery, with some native regiments to their lines, three miles from the city, surrounded and disarmed them, and arrested their ringleaders. After this act of decision and energy, Lucknow had peace for some time. The native troops, awed and subdued, remained tranquil, and on the 27th of May Lucknow still remained quiet, whereas every other station in Oude, except Cawnpore, was in the hands of the rebels.  
At the same time every preparation had been made for the struggle which all regarded as inevitable. The houses which formed two sides of the large irregular square in the center of which stood the Residency were connected by earthworks, and a breastwork, composed of sandbags and fascines, surrounded the other sides. Stores of provisions were collected, cattle driven in, and every preparation made for a lengthened defense. The cantonments were three miles distant from the Residency, and were occupied by the Thirteenth, Forty-eighth, and Seventy-first Native Infantry and Seventh Native Cavalry. Her majesty's Twenty-second Regiment, a battery of European artillery, and a small force of native horse.
On the evening of the 30th of May the revolt broke out. It began in the lines of the Seventy-first, and spread at once to the other native regiments, who took up arms, fired the bungalows, and killed all the officers upon whom they could lay hands. Happily all was in readiness, and a company of European troops, with two guns, took up their post on the road leading to the city, so as to bar the movement of the mutineers in that direction. Nothing could be done till morning, when Sir Henry Lawrence, with a portion of the Thirty-second, and the guns, moved to attack the mutineers. The British were joined by seven hundred men of the various regiments, who remained true to their colors, and the mutineers at once fled, with such rapidity that, although pursued for seven miles, only thirty prisoners were taken.
The troops then marched quickly back to the Residency, where their presence was much needed, as there was great excitement in the town, and a good deal of fighting between the police and the roughs of the city, who endeavored to get up a general rising and an indiscriminate plunder of the town. Sir Henry Lawrence upon his return restored order, erected a large gallows outside the fort and hung some of the rioters, executed a dozen of the mutinous Sepoys, rewarded those who had remained faithful, and for a time restored order. All the European residents in Lucknow were called into the lines of the Residency, the small European force being divided between that post and the Mutchee Bawn, a strong fort three-quarters of a mile distant, and the remnant of the native infantry regiments who had so far remained true, but who might at any moment turn traitors, were offered three months' leave to go home to their friends. Many accepted the offer and left, but a portion remained behind, and fought heroically through the siege by the side of the whites. Thus one source of anxiety for the garrison was removed; and safe now from treachery within, they had only to prepare to resist force from without.
So determined was the front shown by the little body of British that Lucknow, with its unruly population of over a quarter of a million, remained quiet all through the month of June. It was not until the last day of the month that the storm was to burst. On the 30th a body of insurgent Sepoys, some seven or eight thousand strong, having approached to Chinhut, within a few miles of the town, Sir Henry Lawrence, with two companies of the Thirty-second, eleven guns, some of them manned by natives, and eighty native cavalry, went out to give them battle.
The affair was disastrous; the native cavalry bolted, the native gunners fled, and after a loss of sixty men, three officers, and six guns, the British troops with difficulty fought their way back to the Residency. The rebels entered the town in triumph, and the city at once rose, the respectable inhabitants were killed, the bazaar looted, and then, assured of success, the enemy prepared to overwhelm the little British garrison.
Immediately upon the return of the defeated column, it became evident that the weakened force could not hold the two positions. Accordingly the Mutchee Bawn was evacuated, its great magazine, containing two hundred and forty barrels of powder and six hundred thousand rounds of ammunition, was blown up, and the British force was reunited in the Residency.
In order that the position of affairs in this, perhaps the most remarkable siege that ever took place, should be understood, it is as well to give a full description of the defenses. The Residency and its surroundings formed an irregular, lozenge-shaped inclosure, having its acute angles nearly north and south, the southern extremity being contiguous to the Cawnpore Road, and the northern point approaching near to the iron bridge over the river Goomtee. Near the south point of the inclosure was the house of Major Anderson, standing in the middle of a garden or open court, and surrounded by a wall; the house was defended by barricades, and loopholed for musketry, while the garden was strengthened by a trench and rows of palisades. Next to this house, and communicating with it by a hole in the wall, was a newly constructed defense work called the Cawnpore Battery, mounted with guns, and intended to command the houses and streets adjacent to the Cawnpore Road. The house next to this, occupied by a Mr. Deprat, had a mud wall, six feet high and two and a half thick, built along in front of its veranda, and this was continued to the next house, being raised to the height of nine feet between the houses, and loopholed for musketry. This next house was inhabited by the boys from the Martinière School. It was defended by a stockade and trench, both of which were continued across a road which divided this house from the next, which stood near the western angle, and was the brigade messhouse. This house had a lofty and well-protected terrace, commanding the houses outside the inclosure. In its rear were a number of small buildings, occupied by officers and their families.
Next to the brigade messhouse were two groups of low buildings, called the Sikh Squares, and on the flat roofs of these buildings sandbag parapets were raised. Next to this, at the extreme western point, stood the house of Mr. Gubbins, the commissioner, a strong building, defended with stockades, and having at the angle a battery, called Gubbins' Battery. Along the northwestern side were a number of yards and buildings, the racket-court, the sheep-pens, the slaughter-house, the cattle-yard, a storehouse for the food for the cattle, and a guardhouse; and behind them stood a strong building known as Ommaney's house, guarded by a deep ditch and cactus hedge, and defended with two pieces of artillery. A mortar battery was planted north of the slaughter-house. Next along the line was the church, converted now into a granary, and in the churchyard was a mortar battery. Next came the house of Lieutenant Innis, a weak and difficult post to hold, commanded as it was by several houses outside the inclosure. Commanding the extreme north point, which was in itself very weak, was the Redan Battery, a well-constructed work. From this point, facing the river, was a strong earthwork, and outside the sloping garden served as a glacis, and rendered attack on this side difficult. Near the eastern angle stood the hospital, a very large stone building, formerly the banqueting-hall of the British residents at the court of Oude. Near the hospital, but on lower ground, was the Bailey Guard. Dr. Fayrer's house, south of the hospital, was strongly built, and from its terraced roof an effective musketry fire could be kept up on an enemy approaching on this side. Next to it came the civil dispensary, and then the post office, a strong position, defended by a battery. Between this and the south corner came the financial office, Sago's house, the judicial office, and the jail. The Residency, a spacious and handsome building, stood in the center of the northern portion of the inclosure, surrounded by gardens. It was on elevated ground, and from its terraced roof a splendid view of the city and surrounding country could be obtained. The begum's khotee, or ladies' house, stood near the center of the inclosure; it was a large building, and was used as a commissariat store and for the dwellings of many officers' families. Thus it will be seen that the Residency at Lucknow, as defended against the insurgents, comprised a little town grouped round the dwelling of the Resident.
In this little circle of intrenchments were gathered, on the 1st of July, when the siege began, over a thousand women and children, defended by a few hundred British troops and civilians, and about a hundred and fifty men remaining faithful from the Sepoy regiments. Upon that day the enemy opened fire from several batteries. A shell penetrated the small room in the Residency in which Sir Henry Lawrence was sitting, and passed between him and his private secretary, Mr. Cowper. His officers begged him to change his room, but he declined to do so, saying laughingly that the room was so small that there was no chance of another shell finding its way in. He was, however, mistaken, for the very next day a shell entered, and burst in the room, the fragments inflicting a mortal wound upon Sir Henry, who died a few hours afterward. The loss was a heavy one indeed, both to the garrison, to whom his energy, calmness, and authority were invaluable, and to England, who lost in him one of her noblest and most worthy sons. On his death the command of the defense devolved upon Colonel Inglis, of the Thirty-second Regiment, a most gallant and skillful officer. After this, day after day the fighting had continued, the enemy ever gaining in numbers and in strength, erecting fresh batteries, and keeping up a ceaseless fire night and day upon the garrison.
The Warreners with their guide experienced the difficulties which this increased activity of the attack caused to emissaries trying to enter or leave the Residency. After it had become dark they swam the Goomtee, and made a wide circuit, and then tried to approach the river again opposite the Residency. Several batteries, however, had been erected on this side since the guide had left, five days before, a............
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