« PreviousContinue »
that he had not that extensive and almost intuitive knowledge of the art of war, which some historians would lead us to suppose. Had Clive apportioned three European companies of artillery to each brigade, instead of one, or raised a distinct body of native artillery-men on superior pay to that of the sepoy, the guns could have been efficiently served, as each man would have been properly instructed in his duties : but when he continued the custom of allotting battalion guns to each native battalion, to be served by the men of the battalion, who had received little or no instruction in the art of "shooting with great guns," he committed, for a man of his supposed military skill, a great and unpardonable error.
The error, which he then committed of neglecting this, the most important branch of all modern armies; has continued 10 this day, and still goes on increasing: for it is an important fact, that the total number of European artillery-men in the Bengal army is now actually less than it was twenty years ago! It might have been supposed that the great loss at the action of Chilianwalla, and the protraction of the siege at Múltan, in consequence of the inability of the State to furnish a sufficient force of artillery for the army in the field, when compared with the brilliant results obtained in the subsequent action at Guzerat, where the proportion of artillery was more in accordance with the true theory of the art of war, would have sufficed to have opened the eyes of the Home authorities to the importance of this branch of the profession : yet, strange to say, it has not, The Punjab has been annexed, and various branches of the army have been increased : but that force, which is most required in time of war, and which requires the longest time to raise, drill, and instruct, bas not been increased by even one man. Indeed, as we have said before, the number of both European and native gunners is now actually less than it was, ere our banners had been advanced to the station of Ferozepore. Facts and figures are powerful to convince even the most incredulous ; and we therefore give the actual numbers. Five-and twenty years ago, the permanent establishment of native artillery-men was 1,664 privates : it is now 1,584. At that time, we had also three brigades of horse artillery ; and the complement of European foot artillery was then 1,600 gunners : it is now 1,440.. Nor in point of officers, although the number has been slightly increased, is it even yet in any proportion to the actual wants of the service. The spirit of the corps may have hitherto contended manfully in the hour of danger, to perform the full extent of duty required by the exigency of the occasion; but is this just to either men or officers ? Is it prudent? Or is it oven a safe position for the Government to maintain ?
It is possible that Clive was fettered by orders from home, in the organization which be made : but such an opinion does not agree with the full powers which, from the records of those days, it is said that he received. He may indeed be partly held excused on other grounds; for, except at sea, the full importance of artillery was then almost unknown. Few Generals, till the time of Napoleon, understood the full value of artillery : and the records of the war and sieges in Spain show thāt the English Government, even long after, in their continental warfare, would scarcely permit their favourite General, the Duke, to show what English artillery could do. The reason is plain. There is no royal road to knowledge, and it takes time to make even an artillery-man; nor could the officers in that corps be readily recruited from the ranks of the aristocracy. Could the fiat of the Horse Guards have at once converted the Life Guardsman, or the Captain of Dragoons, into a Captain of Horse Artillery, the scientific branch would have been popular enough; but as this could not quite be done with safety to the army, the artillery was comparatively neglected till modern days, when the more numerous armaments of neighbouring powers compelled us to pay more attention to so formidable a weapon. Clive therefore did but follow the usual custom of those days, in proportioning the strength of the different branches in the Bengal army; but, if he had the power to act otherwise, the organiza. tion, he made, proves little, either for bis knowledge of the art of war, or for the merits of the system which he established. With this exception, however, we cordially agree with Captain Broome, as to the skill, firmness, and wisdom, displayed by Lord Clive, in the re-organization of the army, and the reform of the military servicesmone great point of which was, in both services, causing all officers to sign a covenant not to receive presents. The following extract shows how beneficial the reforms then introduced into the army were, and also how extensively they were required:
The army, by the new regulations, was thus placed upon a much more efficient footing. Each brigade was in itself a complete force, capable of encountering any native army, that was likely to be brought against it. The proportion of officers was considerably increased, especially, as regarded the higher grades and the staff ; the division of staff officers was also better arranged; a more efficient check upon abuses was established; and the good effects of the change were soon rendered generally apparent. In an extensive reform of this nature, it was to be expected that some errors
and omissions would occur; but the more important of these were certain to force themselves into notice before long, and were capable of being cor rected in detail. In the very first month it became apparent that some separate arrangements were necessary for the payment of the brigades, and Lord Clive, immediately after his return to Calcutta, laid before the Council a minute upon this subject, in consequence of which, a pay-master and a commissary of musters were appointed to each brigade. These duties were performed by civil servants, partly from an idea that a greater check would be established, and less inducement to connivance at fraud would result; but, in all probability, chiefly from the circumstance of the appointments being particularly lucrative, and consequently too valuable prizes to fall to the lot of the army.
This system continued in force for many years, although there is little reasou to believe that it was found an efficient one-the complaints of fraud and collusion between the pay-master, the commissary of musters, and officers commanding corps, being frequent and loud, The duties both these departmeuts being declared be very heavy, deputies were subsequently added to each brigade. A military storekeeper, a commissary of boats, and a storekeeper of building stores, were also appointed in Calcutta, which situations were likewise held by civilians. The deputy Commissaries of the artillery companies had the charge of the brigade magazines. No army commissariat at this time existed, but all supplies of provisions, cattle, &c., were furnished by contractors, who, in their own per. sons, or those of their agents, were present with the brigades.-Pp. 543-544.
The operations of the army in the field, after Sir R. Fletcher succeeded Major Munro in the command of the troops on the frontier, including bis pursuit of the enemy, the final dispersion of the army of Sujah-ud-dowlah, and the surrender of Allahabad to the British, are all clearly detailed by our author ; but we must refer our readers to the work itself for details. We give in full the short account of the surrender of Chupar, which, under its brave old Killadar, so long held out, after the tide of conquest had swept past its gates :
Major Stibbert lost no time in investing the place; and, having more extensive means than were available on the former occasion, the operations were carried on with great energy, and a much better prospect of success. More caution also was exbibited, of which dear bought experience had taught the necessity. Under the able superintendance of Captain Win. wood, who commanded the 2nd company of artillery, and conducted the attack, three good practicable breaches were effected before any preparations were made for assault; and, when all was at length ready, the Killadar offered to surrender. This gallant old soldier, who had so ably resisted the former attack, would not readily have given up now without a struggle, not. withstanding the desperate state of affairs, had he not been compelled to do 80 by the mutinous conduct of the garrison, who, being greatly in arrears of pay and in extreme distress for provisions, refused to hold out any longer, or to serve a master, who had fled, and left them to perish by famine or the sword. On the 8th of February, the Killadar surrendered the keys of the fort to Major Stibbert, at the same me saying, with tears in bis eyes, “ I have endeavoured to act like a soldier ; but, deserted by my prince and with a mutinous garrison, what could I do? God and you (laying his hand on the Koran and pointing to his soldiers,) are witnesses, that to the faith of the English ] now trust my life and fortune.”—P.506.
Let those who think that native troops have no spirit, or may be insulted with impunity, weigb well the conduct of this brave old man, and reflect also on the following narrative of another officer in command of a small post near the site of the present cantonment of Cawnpore:
At a little distance from the camp, was a small ghurri, or mud fort, with a ditch and a strong wooden palisade. This was occupied by a small party of the Vizier's troops, amounting altogether to only 14 men, under a native officer. This post was so insignificant as for sometime to escape notice ; but, when its existence was discovered, Capt. Swinton was sent with a detachment to take possession of it. On arrival before the place, he sent for the native officer in command, and insisted upon an immediate surrender ; to which the latter objected, except upon honourable terms. A discussion ensued, in which Captain Swinton appears to have lost his temper, and, in the most culpable manner, to bave struck the native commandant, who was thus shamefully driven back to his post. Stung by this insult, the little party determined to sell their lives dearly, and made a desperate defence. The detachment under Captain Swinton was repulsed, and he was obliged to send for a reinforcement, with a couple of 6-pounders. The guns were now brought up to the gateway, which they blew open ; but the entrance was barricaded within. Major Fletcher, hearing the firing, now came up, with Captains Goddard and Duffield's battalions and a party of bildars, who forced å passage across the ditch and over the walls; when, the defenders having nearly all llen, the place was take but with a in killed alone, amounting to more than double the number of the garrison.—P,514.
Clive landed on the 3rd May, by which time the war was almost over, as on the 16th, Sujah-ud-dowlah sent a letter to Major Carnac, tendering his submission. Early in June, the army returned to cantonments; where Clive soon after proceeded to inspect them, and to have the covenants signed ; and where he also arranged the treaty with the Nawab of Oude and the Emperor.
Captain Broome does not generally profess to give more than a passing notice of civil affairs, so as to connect the narrative ; but we fully agree with him in the following remarks, which he makes, regarding Clive's treaty with the Emperor, whereby the Company acquired the Dewani of Bengal :
The receipt of the Dewani, which completely changed the position of the Company in India, has been brought forward as matter of accusation against Lord Clive-more particularly, as he is stated to have determined upon it on his arrival at Madras, during his passage out. That he did so is not only probable, but very natural, and may be considered highly creditable to his judgment. It must not be forgotten, that the offer was by no means unexpected; or unprecedented. It had been formerly tendered by the Emperor as far back as 1761, and again in 1764, on several occassions. It is true that, in the first instance, the Court of Directors had approved of its refusal by the local Government; but circumstances bad greatly changed since that time. The whole actual controul of the provinces had devolved upon the British. It had become evi. dent, that by their large military force, it could alone be maintained. The Nawab Nazim bad gradually sunk into a cipher in the great account; and it was only subjecting the inhabitants to a double set of receivers and increased oppression, to leave the revenues to be col ted by the durbar, for the use of the Company. On an impartial review of the whole transaction, it may safely be pronounced the most prudent, just, and-as regarded the inhabitants of the country -the most humane measure, that could have been adopted. It has also been urged against the illustrious noblemun, in whom the measure originated, that having decided upon it, he sent orders to invest the whole of bis property in the Company's stock; but this only proves bis strong conviction of the wisdom and advantages of the proceeding; and, as the Company's stock was open to all the world, there was no reason that he should debar himself from sharing in the expected benefits to accrue to it.—Pp. 531-532.
When Clive compelled the members of the civil service to give up their private trade, he reserved a monopoly in salt, betelnut, and tobacco-the traffic in which articles was to be carried on under the orders of Government by a committee, for the benefit of the civil and military services. Out of the profits, £120,000 was to go to the Company annually; and the balance was to be divided in certain proportions amongst the senior civil and military officers : but no portion of these allowances found its way into the pockets of the captains, or other junior officers. When, therefore, in the following year, the long debated reduction of the double batta was ordered, the senior officers, many of whom were friends of Clive, and had only lately joined the Bengal service, on the re-organization of the army on an augmented scale, did not so much feel the loss of the allowances, as their juniors in the service. Their situations, in fact, were already sufficiently lucrative, and their shares in the Inland Trade Society tended to remove all cause of discontent. This was, however, not the case with the captains and subalterns, who now suffered severely in their allowances, as compared with those of the former period. These men had been in the receipt of large allowances, and had, many of them, previous to the execution of the covenant, received at times from the native princes valuable presents. They had witnessed the retirement of some of their comrades with fortunes, drawn from those perennial streams of wealth, which were now to cease to flow. Some of them had, perhaps, hoped to retire themselves in a few years. All had in common aided in the conquest of the country, whence all this wealth was derived. All had hoped to partake in turn of the spoil; and, as few of them were personally friends of Clive, they looked upon his orders against the receipt of presents and the reduction of batta, as tyrannical and unjust. Hence arose the mutiny of the officers in the Bengal army, and their determination to combine, and oppose a passive resistance.