The Escape Letters
How I fled the Indian Mutiny
By Mary Louisa Goldney
From LG (Mrs. Goldney) To Her Daughters (Mrs Sherer and Mrs Hall).
PART 1.. MAY 1857 RUMOURS AND FEARS.
I have had neither time nor indeed been collected enough to give you an account of our flight from Sultanpur. I will now try to do so.
On Thursday evening the 14th May, your poor dear Papa left by Dak, for Fyzabad, to attend a committee of Examination held the following day.
After the examination he wrote me that the trial of the Moulvie (who was taken if you remember, Charlotte, at Fyzabad, when you were with us, marching through the Division;) he was taken up for having seditious papers in his possession calling upon all The Faithful to rise up and murder the English, was to take place.
However, as many of the Sepoy witnesses were absent on furlough, the trial could not come on, and he was forced to remain in Fyzabad. Your dear Papa had been so poorly before that the doctor forbade his going at all; but a letter from Mr.Cooper, the secretary, saying that Sir H.Lawrence requested he would make every exertion to go, decided him sick as he was. The Delhi Mutiny he heard of when at Fyzabad, and the increasing disturbances all over the North-West; he thought it more advisable his remaining at the above named place; indeed, in answer to a letter of mine where I urged him to come back or let me join him there, he begged and entreated me not to unnerve him,- that he was at his post, and happen what might, he must stand by it!
You can fancy the state of mind I was in all this time, particularly when every day I heard stories from all the Oomlah, and my own servants that there was something very bad about to happen, but when no one could say.
They one and all urged me to leave and place myself and children under the protection of one of the Rajahs. Many of these men offered to take charge of me, and I was to have been taken away quietly in disguise. I wreote to your dear Papa and told him all this but he, dear good man, tried to comfort me by giving me evey day good accounts of the Sepoys of the 22nd although he said, “I do not tell you have no cause for fear, but try and be courageous.”
I also had letters every day from one or other of the 22nd-. Poor Mr Ritchie, 22nd, and Mr Parsons were spending a fortnight with us. They very soon were ordered back promising to write to me which they did, giving me every assurance of their men; Mr Ritchie, English and Anderson all wrote.
I heard, about this time, from natives, that the 22nd were outwardly staunch, but there was great dissatisfaction amongst them that the townspeople were determined to rise and murder the Europeans on the “Eed” (25th I think). Howerver, that day passed off quietly and when I got a letter from your Papa, saying that he had expected a rising, but that he was not so foolish as to tell me beforehand, and that he might easily have escaped had he wished it, but as things were turning out should he have not looked so foolish? “Foolish! But what has it caused me!- Dreary and miserable future!” This note was dated the 6th of June and I received it on Sunday the 7th-. On the Friday evening before I was sitting in the dining room alone: the old washerwoman and Mungoo’s wife came in and after a while begged me with tears, to hide myself and children. They said-”It is all very foolish of Colonel Fisher and Mr Block to keep on saying there is nothing to fear; danger is near and nearer than you or they think!”
You know Mungoo’s wife used to collect the money at the ferry under our house; she said-”The Bazaar people have taken away all their goods and families from the English Cantonments and Bazaars and an attack is to be made on the Station but the exact was uncertain.”
I sat down and wrote a note to Mr.Block and told him all this; he came over to me and sat, had a long talk with me saying how foolish it was to listen to all those tales, and that I was causing the natives to talk, as in his own office his native officers had told him something that must be wrong that the Commissioners Lady was in low spirits, that I sent my meals away untouched etc.- He kept on saying I had nothing to fear, I was listening to foolish tales and that he had enquired of his native officers and that no one had sent his family away and that all the troops were staunch at Sultanpur. He then went away and I tried to rest awhile; but sleep I could not. I had my poor brown rupee box ,as it used to be called, near my bed with my shoes and shawls so that in case of an attack we might hide somewhere. I know not how it was but I never feared that they would murder me or the children, I knew they would ‘loot’ everything we had.
Well this night, the same as your Papa alludes to have passed off quietly. Next morning (Saturday) Mr Block came over had had tea early with me, and began laughing at my fears. I asked Mrs.Stroyan to come and spend the day with me. After tiffin we both laid down and fell asleep. I was after a while woke up by old Ayah, who put a note into my hand; whispering it was of importance; the note was from Mr.Block.
“Immediately, and as quietly as possible, order your carriage. Give my wife and child a seat and drive down to Colonel Fisher’s.
You have no time to lose, but do it quietly.
TO BE CONTINUED……
Part 2. Time to flee.
Just fancy, woke out of one’s sleep and receiving such a note; my head swam. I could hardly walk.
I went and awoke Mrs Stroyan. I told her to dress quickly and go over with Mr Block’s note to her husband- (they had a carriage of their own) and that they had better go down to Col Fisher’s. I then told the Ayah to order the carriage; that Mrs Corbyn was ill, and I should most likely not come back till morning and that she must put up with the children’s nights etc.
As I passed through the bedroom I dragged out my two pieces of ”Puttoo” that were under the pillow and that striped shawl thinking that if there was rain these would be useful. A storm had just come on. However we walked down the avenue to meeet the carriage and poor Nettle jumped in. We then went to Mr Block’s, he was very busy and excited. I asked him what was the matter. He replied, ”Very bad news indeed and you ladies had better go down to Col Fisher’s where you are quite safe.” The Tussedder of Chana 40 miles off, had written in a report- that 30,000 mutineers were there and that evening they would march on Sultanpur, loot and murder, and proceed to Lucknow!
I went into Mrs Block’s room, where she was packing up her things hoping she might ake one box. We hurried and got into the carriage and drove down to Col Fisher’s. Poor Col! He was always telling me I was too great an alrmist. I met him and said ”Well Col. This is a terrible business.”
”My men are staunch, Mrs Goldney, you have nothing to fear; you are as safe here as you are in London!” Dr Corbyn, who lived in these lines, also ran over from his house to see what was going on, not having heard the reason of all our coming down. He then proposed that we should all go to his house where Mrs Corbyn would make us comfortable as she could. So she went over, and every room was turned into a bedroom. The party comprised- Mrs Goldney and three children, Mrs Block and baby, Mrs Stroyan, Mrs Jenkins and miss O’Donnell: and all women and children, writers and serjeants,; all these were lodged in Mrs Tucker’s house. Some had ordered their beds and bedding down. I was too much alarmed. Col Fisher sent scouts of his regiment (staunch)to enquire and report if all was true that had been reported to Mr Block from Chanda.
We were, as you may imagine, in a dreadful state of mind. Mrs O’Connell and I sat up a whole night, waiting for the return of the scouts. The whole night there was heavy firing but strange to say we could never make out what it was. At three in the mroning the scouts returned, saying it was a false alarm: that there had been a large crowd, but it was the wedding of the Rajah Benee Modhoo Sing. A party had passed near Sultanpur a few days before, some 700 men.
Sunday morning came, such a lovely day, yet thre was a most extraordinary, quiet, solemn feeling. A soon as Mrs Corbyn could have breakfast for so large a party, we had it, and we all began laughing at our fears. The ladies wished to go back to their homes and their husbands. Mrs Corbyn said, ”You are very nervous and alone, why not stay with us for a few days? You are safe here.” So I decided to run up to the house and get a few suits of clothes for ourselves, leaving the children with the servants.
I drove and just as I had packed a box, a note came from Mr Block. Oh how I dreaded to see them! This was to say that Col Fisher thought it advisable for all the ladies to be sent off to Allahabad, and telling me we could not take more than a bundle each and arranging about our horses to be laid for us on the road, halfway to Petaburgh*(*pretapgarh) to wait our arrival. Mrs Stroyan was to be with me. Her carriage was lighter than ours so I proposed to taker hers and leave mine. Kessen Sing-that fat old pensioned Jemadar of the 4th had been at the house since your Papa left, by his orders had 50 of his men on duty. I called him in and told him we were going to Allahabad. He said, ”I thik you are right: women and children had better go to some place of safety!”
He turned round and went through the house with me and asked me what I wanted him to do. What he could do: I told him that my two carts were standing in the compound and if he could save any of my things to do so. He took twenty boxes so it was reported to me. The children gave over charge of their canaries ‘Lallo’ and ‘Mina’ to him. Poor Tommy! He asked me what would become of his pigeons; and Freddy asked if his rocking horse would be saved. You know dear Papa had given them the rocking horse only a short time before.
The Khansama Jungo came and asked me for orders. I told him I was going away, and that he and the rest of the servants must do the best they could. He, of his own accord, sent our plate chest to Luchman Hersaud, the Kotwal, to take charge of. I had sent him, some days before, my two large Bareilly trunks, and three leather boxes. I have since heard that he has these safely hidden, but the plate chest I heard was ”looted” by the Kotwal Chapprasees. You remember that dandy looking fellow our Jemader Chapprasee ”Deenah”. He came up and reported that Kessun had taken charge of 20 boxes.
I went over to Mr Stroyan’s before going on to Mrs Stroyan’s, where we were all to congregate, and start this evening at dusk. Poor Mrs Stroyan had fever and was on a sofa. I went to bid him goodbye. With tears in his eyes he said, ”Take care of my wife, Mrs Goldney, whatever fate befalls, you must be hers. Do not leave her; and if you arrive safely in Calcutta, make her over to my uncle Mr Hurne.
As we drove down that pretty shady road, I heard myself wishing all goodbye forever! Before I left home, I put up in all your pictures in a box. I had a piece of work, a very handsome cushion I was filling in for a present to poor Mary Troup on her wedding; there it was, standing on the table, and I did think at one time, shall I take it with me?
Part 3: On the road
We arrived at Petraburgh about half an hour after sunrise. We were met by poor Mr Grant and a Mr Glynn.: these gentlemen told us that Allahabad was gone. The report they had (of course Native), was that the whole of the European inhabitants had been murder
My drawing room looked so nice; such flowers I had in my vases; they smelt so sweet. When I arrived at Mrs Corbyn’s all was confusion and bustle. Dr Corbyn was to escort us. At about four o’clock Captain Bunbury came riding up very fast from his police lines. He was looking so anxious. I asked what was the matter. He would not tell me for some time, at last he said, “I have just heard from my men that two of Fisher’s cavalry have been tampering with my men and instigating them to rise.” He said he did not like the idea that these men were to take charge of us to Pertaburgh (sic: Pratapgarh), as they were very dissatisfied.
Col Fisher had picked out a nice guard of sixty men. They were reduced to fourteen in one hour’s time. Dr Corbyn seeing me looking so wretched, tried to reassure me by saying there was no fear, and said, “To convince you, we will go and have a talk wtih these fellows”. There they were, looking so nice, so clean, so well-dressed, leaning on their horses’ necks. They made their salaam when we came up.How bravely and cheerfully I tried to talk with them. How they abused and swore at their own brethren; saying they were not men to injure poor women and children etc. The Doctor turned round and said, “I know you are to be trusted to your charge”, and to which they all swore.
When we were all collected, we made ready for a start. We were now joined by the writers and clerks of the Commission, and we numbered 49 in all. Mr Jenkins joined us that day; he had been to Lucknow on escort duty, with treasure, with two companies of his corp, (8th Irregular Locals).
Whilst our preparations were being made, Rajah Modoo Singh’s Vakeel came and requested to speak to me. That the Rajah had sent for me and the children and the conveyances were waiting for me.
The Loodiana jail Deroga, who had but lately joined, begged me not to go with this party, as mischief would befall us. However, I said I must take my chance and do as the rest did; so about at eight o’ clock we started, a regular funeral party, – so slowly, quietly we went along,- every now and then stopping to allow some of the back carriages to come up. Dr Corbyn with his wife and child and Ayah, Mrs Block and her baby were in the first carriage. I came next, Mrs Stroyan, and three children, and poor “Nettle”. Poor old Afghan was left in the stables. I had the little mare with my side saddle, and the large horse “Bucha” that Duffadar used to ride near the elephant. The children’s ponies, four Chapprasees came with my coachmen and Syces. I gave the Kitmagars the two horses to ride, and the Chapprasees had the three ponies.
We got to place called “Damah” at about midnight, where we changed horses; here we were told by the Cavalry that about a mile and a half off a large body of mutineers were halting part of the 37th Native Infantry, from Benares, and some of the 12th Irregular Cavalry. (Afterwards these men told us that these fellows asked who we were, how many etc. and what was the use of taking us. To turn their backs for Sultanpur, and they, the mutineers, would soon polish us off. Dr Corbyn told me this after we got to Pertaburgh).
Our guard of fourteen was now reduced to twelve, two having left us on the march; one of these men Dr Corbyn had warned to be careful of, as he had sworn to take his life. The Doctor knew all this before we left but of course we had no alternative, it was quite a case of stay and be murdered, or go and be murdered. We reached Balaghat, three miles from Petraburgh, at sunrise. The Doctor who was leading, called out to me: “The prisoners from Allahabad are set loose; here they are!” And so they were. Some of these prisoners had been in the Sultanpur jail, so they recognised Dr Corbyn, and called out: “Salaam, Doctor Sahib!”ed;- at all events, there was an end of our attempting to go Allahabad.
We then got out of our carriages, and were to have breakfast, and then consult as to where we were to go. Mr Grant went away to his office and at about one o’ clock he returned. We were just going to have breakfast. I saw Mr Grant looking very anxious. I walked up and down the verandah, and after some time I found that reports were current that the mutineers from Allahabad were on the road to Sultanpur via Pertaburgh; that they would be there that evening,- would loot and murder us all, and then go on. I asked Mr Grant what he advised us to do. He said, “Put ourselves wholly under the protection of the Baboo of Pertaburgh”. Dr. Corbyn had at this time I think about eight men remaining of his staunch men and before three o’ clock they, the eight, had all disappeared.
Part 4: Peril on the road at Petraburgh
He was, I think, vexed that I wanted to trust the Baboo, and said the reason his men had all gone, was on account of me wishing to have the Baboo’s protection.; they said they would take care of us alone. They wanted no doubt the glory of murdering such a number of Europeans to themselves. Mr Grant now told me we had not time to lose, as what we did must be done at once. There was a guard of Bunbury’s Police and also one of 8th Irreuglar Locals in the verandah. A whispering ran throught he house, of some crowd coming. These guards, without any orders from the gentlemen of the party, directly got ready, which attrracted our notice. Mr Grant then urged us to leave immediately; but where we were to go was another question. At last I said, “I go to Baboo Golab Sing; those who like can do the same.” I ordered the carriage, elephant and horses; and so we all started.
There was an immense crowd of the New Levy, (many of them were the discharged Sepoys of the 19th and 34th, who had been re-enlisted by order of the Government). They attacked the buggy which was further behind us, containing a serjeant’s wife and two children; but Mr Grant and Mr Glynn managed to release them, and they came on with the rest, to the little town of Pertaburgh. When we arrived, Baboo Golab Sing met us and was very civil, and he brought me a plate full of sugar. He sat for half an hour talking to me; I was asking him what he proposed to do- that we wished to go to Allahabad, or to the river, where we might get boats and go down it, or go across land to Benares. He was called away suddenly; he returned soon and came up to me, and begged me to leave that place as we could only manage to go on another fort of his “Tillee” or some such name, about six coss off (which was nearly twelve English miles), we should be safe. He said Allahabad mutineers were on the road, and he could not protect us. This new fort of his lay on the road to Allahabad; so we were actually going to walk into the lion’s mouth.
But help, there was none, so we proceeded to make a start. My own servants came to me and entreated me to stay where I was, for the moment I got outside of the Baboo’s enclosure I should be attacked. What could I do? All the carriages were gone on, mine and Mr Berrill’s were the only one’s left. I told the Chapprasee I must take my chance, and off we started; we had not gone half through the town when the carriage stopped, a great crowed in the street. The New Levy lined each side of the road, with their spears and their swords. I saw four or five Irregular Cavalry on horseback, accoutred, giving orders to these men. “This carriage is not to go on.” I tried to speak, and address the horsemen; he would not answer till the third time; he then stuck his arms akimbo and looked me in the face, and impudently said.”we want pay for two and a half months.” I asked him to take us to the end of our journey, and I would be answerable for four months pay. He laughed and called out “Don’t let this carriage move!”
Mr Glynn then came up and said-”Unless we give these fellows one we shall not get away!” I had a hudnred rupees; Mrs Stroyan had a bag in the carriage of 400 rupees. I put my hand to give this bag; she said “They will think you have more, don’t give it!” I told Mr Glynn that I thought Mr Berrill might have some. His carriage was behind ours; he asked him, and he gave him a bag of 300 rupees. Mr Glynn then called out to the rabble, “Here is money, come and divide it!” I too called, and told them the same. A great number immediatly left; Mr Glynn walked away a little distance and began dealing out the money. I made a sign to my coachman, and away we went.
Never, never shall I forget that gallop through Pertaburgh. Two of Goolab Sing’s Chpprasees had volunteered their services to take care of me. They laid hold of the carriage and ran too. In turning a sharp corner one poor man was knocked down, and the wheel passed over his legs, luckily only grazing them; I of course, stopped to pick him up, and made him jump on the coach box. My coachman got angry, adn abused him for being slow. You should have seen the wretch’s face; he looked like a demon, and laid hold of his sword tomy coachman. I begged the latter to be quiet and let the man up. Poor Mr Grant then came up looking so ill and so anxious. “We are lost Mrs Goldney; for God’s sake do not stop; drive coachman, drive; we are late as it is.”
The moment the crowd saw I was off they rushed after the carriage; and such a wild, savage shout they raised, and ran; one devil threw his spear with good aim; it touched the edge of the carriage, and fell; had it been a barleycorn higher, one of the three poor children would have received it on the chest. We drove on at this rate for about two miles, and overtook the rest of the party, who were quite unconcious of our delay. We then tried to get a little into order and march on- we hardly knew where; but of course we knew the further we went, the nearer we were to the mutineers, who were reported by everyone we met on the road to be a couple of miles off. You cannot fancy the horrible sensation we had the whole time. Every now and then the carriages stopped, when those behind enquired the cause,- they were told, “Oh, a great cloud of dust on the road before us; it must be the mutineers.”
Part 5: In the fort of Unjeet Sing.
In this manner we went on till sunset. when we arrived at a tope of mango trees. (I forgot to tell you a very narrow escape Mr Glynn had. Whilst he was dividing the money, he heard someone pull his sword out of the scabbard; when he raised his head there was the naked sword over it. I believe, if I remember right, he took the bag of rupees and flung it to a distance, and turned round and mounted his horse, which was rather an impetuous animal, and frightened the crowd, and by that means escaped. )
Just before we reached the grove our poor mares were done up; the road was very sandy, the carriage could not move. We all got out, and Mrs Stroyan and I tried to turn the wheels round. We were obliged to leave it, and one of the Baboo’s Chapprasees, and walk on the grove, where the rest were collected. I got a few villagers and bribed them with a couple of rupees to assist in pulling the carriage up, which they did and then we all got out together and consulted where we were to go. For going on to Allahabad at that hour of the evening was impossible. Whilst we were talking some of the party called out, “There is a crowd coming”, and sure enough a party of armed men came up to where we were, however we were told not to fear,- that the man who came was friendly; his name was Unjeet Sing.
He came forward and made his salaam, and told me not to fear, but trust myself to his care; and that we could not stay where we then were, but must go to his “Killah” (fort), and about half a mile distant; so again we made a move, and arrived at his village, and to his fort,-such a place of security. It was a place sixty yards square (it might have been a hundred), with a low mud wall, four feet high; in many places there were thorns and brambles put there to prevent the cattle going out; there were two gateways, but no gates. Here we were told we would be safe. I must tell you that at Pertaburgh, everything we had was looted. On the elephant I had my bundle of clothes, some tea, sugar and bread; everything was taken from us; the servants knocked off the horses, and the horses carried off.
Mrs Stroyan had her bundle in the carriage so we saved it. We had nothing but the clothes on our backs. Mrs Corbyn saved a little tea, so as soon as ever I could collect a few sticks, I made a fire-place and put water on in a “Ghurrah” (an earthen pot.) We got a little milk from the Baboo, and sugar and all had a cup of tea, very refreshing after having been out nearly all day in the month of June (8th), and drinking a lot of muddy water. The men got us some chapoys (native bedsteads) five by two and a half. Those who could sleep, lay down and slept; I with Mrs O Donnell kept walking up and down listening to the challenging all night long, hearing firing in every direction and seeing the glare of the burning villages around.
In this way we passed five days and five nights. We had a large earthen pan that we used to wash in by turns. I took off the children’s clothes and shook them and then on they were again. One day Mrs Stroyan gave me a sheet, and we made up some Hindoostanee trousers for the children. And then we (Mrs O Donnell and I)had a washing of the children’s clothes; the bright sun soon dried them. We had no knives, spoons or forks, a cup or two and a tumberland but no plates. The Baboo used to send us dal and chapatees, and milk. Once or twice Dr Corbyn got his syce to cook some kedgeree, but the rice dall were of the coarsest kind, and what, if we had eaten two months before, we should have thought of cholera and all kinds of complaints; indeed, under any other cirucmstances we might have laughed at the queer sight we cut in, in the dirty place the man called his “fort.”
We heard afterwards that had we ventured out and continued our journey, everyone should have been murdered. The villagers round about us, wanted Unjeet Sing to give us up, but he said, “If I can prevent them going, I will; I will not let them proceed; but if they choose to go, be it at their own risk.”
I was asked by the writers to get them some lambs (I speak rather egotistically, but you of course know that these people looked upon me as the prinicple person) and whatever I asked for, as far as food went, we got such as could be had. So I asked for two lambs, and they were brough; one of the writers offered to make an Australian dish; we were very glad to have anything cooked. It was not very nice but we ate it almost all with relish. Fingers were in great use.
Part 6: The two ladies strike out disguised as a wedding party.
We wanted very much to send in from this place (Millepore) to Allahabad, this was 28 miles, but no one dared to go with a letter from a European. Two of the writers offered to ride throught he country as hard as their horses would take them; they started at about eight at night, and at about eleven we heard galloping as if for their lives; back they came; to say the whole country was in arms, and they durst not proceed. Dr Corbyn did send in a small scrap of a note after we left for Amethie, and his syce, the man who volunteered to take it, went as a feckir, and pushed this note in his long hair.
On Friday the 12th, I know not how it was, but we one and all felt (though we did not till afterwards say a word) that that day was to be our last; a feeling unexplainable came over us. In the afternoon a party arrived, and a very respectable man was talking to Mr Grant. I went up to them; Mr Grant turned round and said: “Mrs Goldney, Rajah Madhoosing has sent an escort for you and your children, you are to go to fort Amethie.” This place is 40 miles inland. I cannot say I much liked the idea of being the only one sent for, besides some of our party alarmed me by saying there was treachery in this business, and they would not go.
I saw Mr Berrill talking to this man, and asked him who he was. He said. “Rajah Madhoosing’s Vakeel”. My mind was easier, and I determined to put myself under his protection; but I said to the Vakeel, “If I come, will you take care of the rest and bring them too?” He promised me that he would; but I have my doubts if he would have saved any others. I asked Mrs Stroyan what she would do. She said, “Go with you!” Mrs Block’s Chapprasee, with the baby in his arms, came up to me and said, “You are not going to leave my Lady are you?”
I asked her what she would do- “Come,” she said, “with you.”
Dr Corbyn then came up and said, “Now remember ,Mrs Goldney, that you are on your own free-will.”
His own opinion was he told me afterwards, that as soon as we were out of the fort, we were to be murdered! The Vakeel said two elephants were ready for us, and that we must be ready by eight o’ clock. Mrs Stroyan was going to take two bundels, but we found we should have no room on the elephants, so she left them; the Rajah’s man said he would have fetched it the next day. We tore up some petticoats of Mrs Stroyan’s, as we wanted sheets to cover our heads with (we were to travel as a native wedding party), and our hats and bonnets were left behind.
We started; but had no ladder to get up the elephant, and how I scrambled up its back, by the tail, I cannot think (it was a small elephant), Mrs Stroyan, Tommy, Missie, and I , and on the other, Mrs Block, her baby, Freddy, and the Chapprasee. I left my coachman with the mares (one of them was very ill), and “Nettle”, telling the man he was to come on to Amethie the next day.
Such a night we had: we were so tired; I wonder we did not fall off the elephant for we had no howdah, nothing but a pad, not even a rope stirrup to keep us up. When it was towards morning the pad had turned round, so we were obliged to make the man stop to put it straight. We were so tired that we threw ourselves on the bare ground and fell asleep. We did not sleep minutes, yet it seemed to us hours. We then went on more comfortably, but we could not travel by daylight, at night it was bad enough: we were being challenged so often, and the anwer was: ” We were Baboo’s family, who were returning from bathing”.
We got to a village of the Rajah’s, and here we stopped all day. Mrs Block was very ill. I did know (sic/not?) what was going to happen; she was in very delicate health at the time, and how she stood, that to me is extraodrinary. We had no medicine, not even a glass of wine or brandy. I got some ginger, and made her some tea. Towards night she was better. As soon as we arrived in the morning I begged the Vakeel to send on a message to the Rajah, to send two palkees and a howdah elephant for us to finish the journey on. They came by 12 o’ clock that night, and we were awoke by the Vakeel and told to make haste and be off. Mrs Block and her baby were in one plakee, and three children in another, and Mrs Stroyan and I on an elephant.
We had about four hours journey to make. When we had proceeded about four or five miles, the Vakeel, who was riding behind us on the elephant, kept urging the driver to go on as fast as he could; he would stop for a few minutes; then there was great whisperings; and at last I asked the man to tell me what was the matter. After some demur he said, “What can I tell you but that I am fearful for you all; the mutineers from Pursuddepoor are encamped under the walls of the Amethie fort;- their road lays on the one we must cross before we can get in. If they have broken up their camp and gone on, good;- but if not then Gold alone can help you, for we are powerless.”
Picture, if possible, our state of mind. All I thought of was to have the children with me on the elephant, so that if we were attacked, we might all be killed together. The man said, “If you like to have them with you do so; but keep quiet and we may be able to cross over.”
All of a sudden the whole cavalcade stood still, and there was such challenging; for some time no one spoke; at last the man behind us cried, “God be praised we are safe!” One of the Rajah’s men then came up and said, “The mutineers have just rounded the corner; indeed if you listen attentively, you will hear the buzz of voices!” Thankful, you m ay fancy, we were to proceed, and in anothe hour we were in the fort. We were conducted to the Rajah’s house, (the large one that you, Charlotte went to), but to a long building; one part was covered in, the other open, with very high walls, so that we could look over, in fact we were not allowed to. There we found four nice clean charpoys, or native bedsteads, and right glad we were to lie down.
The Rajah sent word to say that he wished to come and see me. He came, and after some talk he begged us to keep quiet; that he would take care of us; and when the coutnry was quiet he would conduct us safely to wherever we wished to go. He ordered us tea, which was most acceptable. We rested for a few hours. The next day he ordered us some cloth and we cut out a petticoat each and underline; we could not afford more;- to the children I gave a cople of muslin ‘Cardias’ ( native jackets) and native drawers. We had the Rahaj’s tailors who worked for us. As soon as the new clothes were ready, we had the luxury of a bath and clean clothes;- we had not flannels, and I was afraid to leave off the ones the children had in Sultanpur, so we gave them a shaking and put them in the sun for a short time.
We had our meals sent in to us, plenty of chappatees and dall, rice, beautifully clean and nicely cooked, and delicious buffalo’s milk. We fared very well indeed. We had no spoons, knives nor plates,- but that was a mere trifle. Our tea was all finished; so the Rajah sent word to say, he was going to send his Scooter-soar camel rider to Lucknow, with some letters to Mr Gubbins, and if I had a note he would send it. I wrote to Mr Gubbins, telling him we ewere at Amethie, and asking him to send us tea, pens, ink and paper, soap, a comb and brush, a little brandy, some medicine and four yards of flannel. Well, these things arrived, and we made the children up some flannel wasitcoats, and then had a good washing of flannels. Fancy, wearing all our clothes for twelve days.
Part 7. Refuge in Amethie with Rajah Madhoosing
Mr Gubbins wrote to me telling me to stay where we were, that attempting to go anywhere was out of the question; he added that your dear Papa, he heard, had escaped across the Gogga, and gone towards Gayndah; and that both Mr Block and Mr Stroyan had left Sultanpur. I had left ‘Nettle’ with the coachman at Millepore; so I sent a messenger to bring her, and also the coachman. A party had gone off to, to bring in the rest of the people, but was a day too late, they having gone off to Allahabad. The Rajah’s people were very slow in their movements, and I fear they never intended to save, certainly not more than the ladies and gentlemen. The writers and sergeants’ families I believe they never would have saved.
The coachman arrived, and with him ‘Nettle’ whose back was blistered from the scorching heat of the s un. One of the Kitmagars too, showed himself; he was riding in the little mare, with my side-saddle; and I had given him your poor father’s double-barrel gun. When I asked him for the horse and gun, he replied, “I have escaped with my life; I was knocked off the horse and everyting taken from me.” I beleived him; but it turned out some days afterwards that the coachman and he had words, and ot came the gun from the creature’s bedding. I scolded the man (you recollect him, he was with us at Delhi and Sultanpur; Meeahjan, a great dandy, and like Mrs Leigh’s brother, Mr McMullen).
One day, at Amethie, when the coachman joined us, I thought, as we were so near to Sultanpur, I would send him to see what was happening there. He went and returned the third day. He said the houses were all destroyed, everything taken away, and that he had seen (describing the very ground) poor Colonel Fisher, Messrs Lewis, and Smith, of the 8th Locals, Dr O’ Donnell, and Captain Bunbury, and a very tall gentleman, whom he could not recognise; (as Captain Gibbons had arrived the day after we left, I thought htis must be him, though I heard afterwards that he was short). I asked the fellow two or three times, if he was sure. He got quite vexed and said, “Have I not beein in your service more than two years, and do I know these gentlemen?” Of course we were much horrified. What object the man could have in telling us such lies, I cannot tell. After we left Amethie, on our road to Allahabad, at Millepore, we received a note from Mr Lewis saying, he and two sergeants had escaped from Sultanpur; they were hiding, and wanted to know if Unjeet Sing could be trusted. They came on to Allahabad some days after.
The rooms at Amethie were very low and tiled, so you can guess how hot it was. I really used to think we should have brain fever. During the day it was terrific, hot winds blowing. No doors in some parts and no windows, but round holes in the wall, through which the wind used to blow, oh, so hot! We used to sleep outside, that is in the same range, but roofless; night dew, and a bright moon over us; I. who used to be so alarmed at night air. I could not sleep, I was up several times during the night to screen the children from the moon. We used to dread the day, it was so hot; our beds were taken in soon after sunrise; we used to get the Bhestee to sprinkle a musak of water from the floor, and then spread a coarse cloth over and lay ourselves down for the day.
We had no work, no books. Mrs Stroyan had saved her Prayer Book, which her poor husband had given her, and we used to read out of that. I once or twice proposed to the Rajah his sending us on; but he said that he would not, till I got a letter from Mr Grant, and then he said no time should be lost.
Part 8. The River.
After we had been there about eight or nine days, I heard from Mr Grant, telling me to come on, and so the Rajah prepared for our journey. I was foolish enough to ask for a Bhylee; these natives generally have such good carts and bullocks, that I thought we should go on fast. The bullocks were tolerable, but the road was so bad, that Mrs Stroyan, I, and Missie were jolted to death nearly; the boys had a dhoolee, and so had Mrs Block.
We started at about eight o’ clock; very dark it was, so we could go on at only a very slow pace. We arrived at a fort of the Rajah’s about ten miles from Amethie. We only made ten miles out of forty; it was just an hour before daylight. The Jemadar who was of our guard, was very good and attentive; he proposed we should stop at this fort, as we would not possibly travel during the day, and he could try and get us dholees. The whole place was full of armed men, and only three or four old women. They screened off a place with their kummer bands, and brought us some charpoys, and we laid down till some time past sunrise, when we went into the hut, Meeahjar got us some tea ready. He asked the Jemadar to get us a kid, which he did, andsuch a delicious one it was too. Meeahjar roasted it on a modern splint, (a stick run through) and on the stick it was brought in; we had but one knife, so I had to use my fingers and cut a piece for each.
There we were all seated on the ground, in our extraordinary half-English, half-Hindoostanee dresses. Whilst we were sitting in this fashion, the Jemadar said a Subadar of the 4th wished to make his salaam. I admitted him. I told him to see what his bretheren had reduced us to. Of course he was all loyalty, and said, “Put yourself under my protection, and see if I can take care of you or not!” He brought us some chappatees and onions: these we fried, and thought them so delicious!
When evening came, we were ready to start, and we proceeded on our journey. You know the native dhoolies. We had only these things, with a loose cover over them; we were obliged not to show ourselves, and travelled as some Baboo’s wedding party. We had to go through Pertaburgh, the place we were attacked in. Goolab Sing had a letter sent to him by Rajah Modoo Sing to say we were coming, and as he was supposed to have behaved so ill (and indeed, at his instigation the row took place). the Rajah told him to try and retrieve his character by paying us attention.
We arrived at his fort at three o’ clock. I was determined to go into his house, as I was told that all our property (all he had taken from us 12 days ago) was collected there, and I thought I might meet with some things of our own. All I found of mine or the children’s was a pair of shoes of my own; they were on the ground and one of the brutes who was with us kicked it across the room, asking if that anything of mine. Mrs Stroyan accompanied me to search; we then returned to our dhoolies. I found here the Jemedar of the place and some of the chapprasees; he told us of the certainty of the fate of both Mr Block and Mr Stroyan, and no doubt was aware too fo the awful bereavement I had received, but did not say so.
This man begged us to proceed, as he said, the rabble were still enraged, and would do us some harm, if they thought we were still there. So we went on to Millepore, Baboo Unjeet Sing’s place. It was eight o’ clock before we reached, and very hot. As we neared his fort, a voice called out, “Memesahib!” I did not answer till it was repeated by the Jemedar; he then said a messenger had a letter from Mr Grant for me, telling me that we had retaken Allahabad, and the rebels were driven off, and for us to push on as hard as we could towards Allahabad. The runner too said the coutnry was all pretty quiet.
When we arrived at Millepore, Unjeet Sing came to meet me. He got us some charpoys, and milk, and sugar, and we had tea, and he ordered us dinner. I forgot to tell you, when we were at Petraburgh, I asked Baboo Goolab Sing, as he had all the stores belonging to the Irregular Cavarly corps (Captain Harding’s) if I might send for six pints of beer. He said, “By all means; take whatever you like.” I then told Meeajhan to stay behind and bring me some beer. (Mind you we had nothing but muddy water for a drink for a fortnight). Well, it arrived rather late, and we had a bottle, but it was so sour we could drink no more. Meeahjan brought away a bottle of port, sherry, and two pots of jam, as he said for the “Babas”. We expected, as the Baboo said, to start that evening at sunset, for Allahabad. I sent several times to him toknow if our dhoolies were ready. He kept on saying, “Yes, all was ready.” I then asked to have them brought. Then the old wretch, (with “one eye”)- told me he did notlike our going on that evening; that he had heard there was great disturbances between Millepore and Allahabad. Mr Grant’s messenger declared to the contrary, when he made two or three excuses.
At last I got angry, and told him he was telling me stories, and that I would send a letter to Mr Grant and ask him to send help for us. Poor Mrs Block begged me not be be angry with the wretch, for she was sure that he would revenge himself on us. He offered to take us on, so we waited till next day. Early in the morning back comes Mr Grant’s messenger. (We were twenty-four miles forom Allahabad). He seemed so surprised to see me, and said, “Mr Grant is waiting for you at the Ghat.” I told the man I was helpless, and what Unjeet Sing did not wish Madhoo Sing’s Jemedar to go in with us, and I had said I would not stir without him.
Another hot day; and when evening came we started with great difficulty. The old wretch was so slow and so wavering, I know not what he intended doing. We were obliged to travel in disguise. We had a large guard with us, about 250 armed men. At one place we halted to drink water, when Mrs Stroyan called out to me to pull down the Purdah (I had put it up to get a little air) as there was strange voices. Some men had set fire to a village close by. We heard bamboos crackling and then seeing a party who called out, and said “Here comes a Buniah’s wedding; let us attack it!” The Jemedar ordered all his men to stand ready. He went forward to meet these men and said. “We are all armed men, and we belong to Rajah Modhoo Sing; if you like to come on do so.” “No, Maharaj, we are only wayfarers, and we will go on.” We proceeded too, and at about ten o’ clock arrived at Papermou Ghat.
When we came to the side, there were some boatmen plying the ferry; but the moment they saw our armed men, they ran off, leaving the boats on the Allahabad side. Here we were walking on the bank waving our hankerchiefs to let someone catch a sight of us. After some two hours waiting, one of our people got over, and then told those on the other side who we were. An old grey headed man, a mussulmann was sitting on the bank when we arrived; I was in my dhoolie, with little Missie, and as I passed this wretch, he uttered most frightful abuse about me; I was so engrossed at the moment with my own thoughts that I never took notice of him, and not till afterwards think of his brutal words.
Part 9. The Cantonments.
You know we had some three miles to get to the cantonments. Mr Grant had written to me either to go to Mr Court’s house, or to the fort, (in the latter, Cholera had broken out, and we were losing thirty or forty men per diem).
As we neared the cantonments you never saw such utter desolation; the Sepoy lines, houses, public buildings, shops, all destroyed – thatched roofs of course all burnt. I believe three houses stood and the church; one of the former was Mr Court’s. When we arrived at Mr Court’s house, we found all the Purseedupoor party, Captain and Mrs Barrow, Messrs. Thompson, Chalmers, Swanston, and Doctor Gayer, Mr Grant, and Carengie, and a number of others, (I suppose the remainder of the 6th regiment).
They were all on rations; we came so late that none was issued to us. However, all kindly gave us a little. The whole of the compound was strewn with property of all kinds, public and private. I never saw, nor may never see such a sight, ladies’ and children’ clothes in heaps, papers, letters, books and music. Here too sat a string of wretched natives, they had been taken up for having stolen property, which was found in their houses, tied with ropes round their waists, in a string, quietly waiting their doom. They were aware that they were to be hung, but they cared not, but they kept on talking and eating their tobacco, and staring at us as we came in, no doubt exulting to think how they had punished us.
I was in hopes, and indeed we fully expected to stop at Allahabad for a few days, to enable us to get some things made up; but Mr Court brought me a letter from the government, desiring all fugitives, ladies and children, to be sent down country by the steamers, so we had no help, nor any clothes. Captain Thompson and I then went to see if we could pick up a few things. I contrived to get a few underline and some dresses; we had no hats or bonnets. We then got rady for the steamer; and at four o’clock went on board.
Mr Court told me I might make a present to the men who had brought us in, as Unjeet Sing had been handsomely paid for brining in Mr Grant and his party (2000 rupees). I thought 200 rupees for us was sufficient. To Jemadur Seetul Sing who had taken us from Millepore to Amethie 40 miles; and for bringing us back to Millepore, another 40; and then to Allhahabad, 24 miles, we gave 500 rupees.
I gave Unjeet Sing great dissatisfaction; but I disliked the man, fo rhe told such fearful stories. He had the face colly to ask for your dear Papa’s gun, almost the only thing I had of his . I did indeed carry on my arm his dressing gown.
You recollect the shawl one he used to wear; it was hanging up in his dressing room, and as I passed through, I took it up and brought it safe home.
Part 10: Safety and Sorrow.
We got on board the steamer. Capt. Harwood whom I had known at Fyzabad, came with Capt. Hicks (22) to see me. They offered to do all they could for me. They had, like us, lost everything.’
Mrs Hicks, just married and came out, sent us down a few things, dresses etc. We left that evening, (23rd June). I think we had a strong head wind and with the strong stream, we made no way. We were obliged to come to, at a village that was just below Allahabad. The captain of the steamer told us, that on their way to Allahabad a few days before, they had burnt this village and punished the villagers. I believe they had a quantity of loot.
Mrs Barrow and I sat up nearly all the night, and were , you may fancy, very uneasy. There were very few cabins, and all so small; Mrs Block, Mrs Stroyan and I had one between us; so we were obliged to dress and wash by turns. We all slept on deck. Every evening we made our beds on deck. We, the Amethie party, had luckily brought away our “Kurta” bedding which the Rajah had given us, and I had my two putoos.
We went down the river but slowly. Chuna we reached where alas, I left a letter for your poor, dear Papa, having heard from a native that he had said Chuna or Benares he would try to reach.
Benares we came to next. Here we heard that several of the parties from Fyzabad had come in. Oh, how eager I was to hear something of your poor Papa; but, alas. No such mercy was for me!
Here we met Mr Catina: Mrs Stroyan’s brother; he came and told me that Captain Bunbury and Dr O’ Donnell, (the coachman had seen dead) were coming to see us.
At two o’ clockthat night they came. Bunbury told me there was no doubt as to the murder of poor Mr Block and Mr Stroyan. Me, he buoyed up with the hope that poor Papa had escaped (indeed no authentic information had been up to that date received) and that he had heard that he was at Ghazepoor or Dinapoor.
I asked Captain Bunbury to get me a few things at Smythe’s shop. Poor Missie had lost her only shoes so I was glad of the opportunity of getting her some.
Mr Tucker wrote and told Mrs Block that her husband, with Mr Stroyan, had both been killed. I wrote and asked him about poor Papa. His reply was- “That nothing authentic had been heard of him; he was last seen with a party of the 17th.” Some reports said he was in the keeping of Maun; fears were entertained that he had been foully dealt with.
Ghazerpoor was our next station. Here we asked too, and heard of some few, (Colonel and Mrs. and Miss Lennox and Mr and Mrs Bradford).
Mr Bradford has several times written about your dear Papa, but his accounts were only what he had heard from natives, and not two of them tallied.
We proceeded and arrived at Dinapoor. Captains Orr and Reid came on board. I could glean nothing from them.
Captain urged your Papa to leave and come with them (Captain Reid, Thorburn and himself) that it was now (9th of June) too late; that all was lost. But your Papa’s answer was “He had been thrity-six years serving the government and that he must take his chance now”; he had heard, that his wife and children were safe and that he must take his chance.
Had he only listened to Orr’s advice. But no, a fatality attended him. He was entreated Maun Sing who sent two of his servants but would not go. A Sergeant who was one of the party, said, as they were standing in a group on the banks of the river, two armed men came up and asked for Colonel Goldney. Major Mills, thinking threre was treachery, would not answer these men. At last they said, “We come from Rajah Maun Sing and have a message for the commissioner.”
On this, poor Papa was pointed out. He was walking up and down- no one but God to help him- and alas! Though wicked of me to say- He too deserted him in the hour of danger.
As soon as your Papa saw these men he made signs to them not to come near him armed. They laid their weapons down and salaamed, and delivered their message. “No!” Papa said “I take my chance with my fellow sufferers!” How many escaped and what was his miserable fate?
Captain Orr put his wife and children and Miss Troup on board to go down to Calcutta; and Mrs Thurburn came too. We stayed a few hours at Dinapoor; the ladies were very kind and brought us clothes. The Birches found me out and took me to their house, where we made up a brown holland blouse for each child. Mrs Birch gave me a bonnet and some clothes for which I was very grateful I assure you.
We had a pretty fair pasage down the Sunderbund and arrived in Calcutta on the 9th July, one month and two days since I left my too happy home at Sultanpur. Mr Wood came on board the steamer the moment she was telegraphed, and took me to his house, where he and his brother were as kind as they could be and made us comfortable. Six months ago only Charlotte and I had met you in that very house and room.
How happy was I then and what was I on the 9th July?
Colonel Philip Goldney, my great great grandfather slain at Fyzabad June 1857 http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=Mutiny_at_Fyzabad
Mary Louisa Goldney returned to England on a pension and died aged 76 in St Leonards on Sea