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Siege of Lucknow
Lucknow was the headquarters of Sir Henry Lawrence, who was well aware of the mutinous state of the native army. On the 18th of April he warned Lord Canning of some manifestations of discontent, and asked permission to transfer certain mutinous corps to another province. On the 1st of May the 7th Oudh Infantry refused to bite the cartridge, but on the 3rd they were disarmed by other regiments. When the news of the outbreak at Meerut reached Lucknow, Sir Henry Lawrence recognized the gravity of the crisis and summoned from their homes two bodies of pensioners, one of sepoys and one of artillerymen, to whose loyalty, and to that of the Sikh sepoys, the successful defence of the residency was largely due. This position was immediately fortified. On the 30th of May the native troops broke into mutiny. On the 4th of June there was a mutiny at Sitapur , a large and important station 51 miles from Lucknow. This was followed by another at Fyzabad, one of the most important cities in the province, and outbreaks at Daryabad , Sultanpur and Salon. Thus in the course of ten days English authority in Oudh practically vanished. On the 30th of June Sir Henry Lawrence ordered a reconnaissance in force from Lucknow, which met the enemy at Chinhat ; but the native sepoys and artillerymen turned traitors, and Sir Henry was forced to retreat to the residency, where the siege now began. The first attack was repulsed on the 1st of July, when the separate position of the Machchhi Bhawan was evacuated, and all the troops concentrated in the residency. The entrenchments surrounding this building covered some 60 acres of ground, and included a number of detached houses and buildings, knitted together by ditches and stockades. In a military sense the position was indefensible. The garrison consisted of 1720 fighting men, of whom 712 were native troops, 153 civilian volunteers, and the remainder were British officers and men. This small force had to defend 1280 non-combatants. At the very beginning of the siege Sir Henry Lawrence was fatally wounded by a shell, and died on the 4th of July, thus depriving the defence of its guiding spirit. The command then developed upon General Inglis, who met the incessant attacks of the enemy with counter-sorties. On the 21st of July news was received that General Havelock was advancing, had defeated the Nana, and was master of Cawnpore; but it was still more than two months before even the first relief of Lucknow was achieved.
During those two months every device was employed, by direct assault and by mining operations, to reduce the garrison, who held out nobly, meeting assault with sortie and mine with counter-mine. But the loyalty of the native troops began to waver. On the 23rd of September, however, the sound of distant guns in the direction of Cawnpore was heard, and on the 25th General Havelock's relieving force entered Lucknow. During the 87 days of the siege the strength of the garrison had diminished to 982, and many of these were sick and wounded. Against these were arrayed six thousand trained soldiers and a vast host of undisciplined rabble. For nearly three months their heavy guns and musketry had poured an unceasing fire into the residency entrenchment from a distance of only 50 yards (40 metres). During the whole time the British flag flew defiantly on the roof of the residency.
On the 5th of June the troops at Benares mutinied, but were disarmed by General Neill ; and on the 6th of June the 6th Native Infantry at Allahabad mutinied and shot down their officers, but the fort was held until the arrival of Neill, who promptly restored order.
On the 30th of June Sir Henry Havelock, who had been appointed to the command of the relieving column, arrived at Allahabad from Calcutta, and on the 7th of July he set out for the relief of Lucknow. His force consisted of some two thousand men all told, of whom three-quarters were British. On the 12th of July he fought the action of Fatehpur, and gained his first victory, though the irregular cavalry misbehaved and were subsequently disarmed. On the 15th the village of Aong was captured, and on the 16th the Nana's force was utterly shattered in the battle of Cawnpore. In nine days Havelock had marched 126 miles and fought three general actions under a broiling sun in the hottest season of the year; but the women and children whom it had been his object to save had already been massacred. Leaving Neill in command at Cawnpore, Havelock started out again on the 29th of July with ten light guns and 1500 men in the desperate attempt to relieve Lucknow, which was 53 miles away. On the 29th he gained two victories at Unao and Busherutgunge , but considering himself too weak to advance, he fell back two marches upon Mangalwar . This decision was badly received by his troops, who were burning to avenge their country-women, and by General Neill, whom Havelock was obliged to reprimand for insubordination. Being slightly reinforced, he advanced on the 5th of August, and again turned the enemy out of Busherutgunge, but was again obliged by cholera to retreat to Mangalwar; and on receipt of news from Neill that the enemy were assembling at Bithur , he returned to Cawnpore, and abandoned for the time the attempt to relieve Lucknow. On the 16th of August he defeated the mutineers at Bithur. At this point General Havelock was joined by Sir James Outram, who would have superseded him in the command had not Outram himself, with unequalled generosity, proposed to accompany Havelock only in his civil capacity as chief commissioner of Oudh and to serve under him as a volunteer. On the 21st of September Havelock started on his second attempt to relieve Lucknow, and, won the victory of Mangalwar. On the 23rd another victory was gained at Alam Bagh , and news reached the force of the fall of Delhi. From Alam Bagh there were four possible routes of advance to the residency, and Outram considered that the route chosen by Havelock, lying through the streets of Lucknow, involved unnecessary losses to the troops. Neill was killed in the streets, and the little force lost in all 535 officers and men; but on the 26th of September it entered the residency, and the first relief of Lucknow was accomplished.
But the two thousand men who had thus entered the residency entrenchment under Havelock and Outram, though sufficient to reinforce the garrison and save it from destruction, were not strong enough to cut their way back to safety, hampered with the women and children and wounded amounting to 1500 souls, and the siege now recommenced upon a larger scale. Havelock's task, however, was accomplished, and Outram now took command of the residency. A detachment had been left in the Alam Bagh, which was short of provisions; some attempts were made to open up communication with it, but without success. Subsequently it was reinforced from Cawnpore. Upon the fall of Delhi the troops before that city were freed for the operations in Oudh, and on the 24th of September a column of 2790 men under Colonel Greathed left Delhi. On the 29th a successful action was fought at Bulandshahr, and on the 10th of October the column reached Agra. Here they were surprised by the enemy, but drove them off with considerable loss. On the 14th of October the column left Agra under Colonel Hope Grant , and on the 26th reached Cawnpore, where news was received that the commander-in-chief was coming to take command of the operations. Sir Colin Campbell had been sent out from England to suppress the Mutiny, and had assumed command of the Indian army on the 17th of August, but could not immediately proceed to the front. It was his first task to reorganize the administrative and transport departments; only on the 27th of October did he leave Calcutta. On the 3rd of November he reached Cawnpore, and on the 12th marched upon Lucknow under the guidance of Thomas Henry Kavanagh, who had made his way from the residency disguised as a native for that purpose. Campbell had with him 4500 men with whom to raise a siege maintained by 60,000 trained soldiers occupying strong positions. On the 12th of November the force reached the Alam Bagh, and on the 14th advanced upon Lucknow, proceeding on this occasion across the open plain by the Dilkusha and Martiniere instead of through the narrow and tortuous streets of Lucknow. On the 16th the Sikandra Bagh was stormed; on the following day Campbell joined hands with Outram and Havelock, and the relief of Lucknow was finally accomplished.
Sir Colin Campbell now decided to withdraw the garrison and women and children from the residency, and to hold Lucknow by a strong division operating outside the city. The residency was evacuated on the night of the 22nd November; but the success of the operation was marred by the death of Havelock.
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