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Letter II

Perminacote, five miles from Vicur,
right bank of the Hujamree,
one of the branches of the Indus,
December 8th, 1838.

MY DEAR KITTY,--I wrote to my father, about ten days ago, from the ship in which we came here, stating what I then knew about this expedition; but having since received your letter, and my father's, dated Sept. 4th, I cannot think of going on this bloody campaign without first answering yours. Things look now a little more warlike. The Ameers have endeavoured to cut off everything like a supply from this part of the country, and we have to depend in a great measure, at present, on the supplies brought by the shipping. We have nothing in the shape of conveyance for our baggage. We expected two thousand camels and five hundred horses here for sale; but they are not to be seen at present, and where they are, or when they will arrive, no one knows. News has been received, it is said, from Pottinger, the Company's political agent at Hydrabad, the principal town of the Ameers, that they have called in their army, consisting of 20,000 Beloochees, as they tell Pottinger, "for the purpose of paying them off;" but he says it looks very suspicious, and that they are also fortifying the various towns on the Indus. He has been expected here for the last two or three days, but has not yet arrived. Report also says that he has been fired at in his way down.

We are kept in the most strict discipline, and have a great deal to do. Out-lying and in-lying pickets every night, the same as if we were in the presence of an enemy. This is a very pleasant climate at present, though excessively cold at night-time, as we feel to our cost when on picket, sleeping in the open air, with nothing but our cloaks to cover us; and some nights the dew is excessively heavy, which is very unhealthy, and has laid me up for the last few days with an attack of rheumatism. However, I hope to be out of the sick list to-day. There is such a sharp, cutting, easterly wind, that I can hardly hold my pen. It averages from 80 to 84 in the shade during the hottest part of the day, but that is only for about two hours. However, in the hot season it is worse than India; and we have proof here, even at this time, of the power of the sun occasionally; so I hope that we shall push on for Shikarpoor, and join the Bengal army, under Sir H. Fane, as quickly as possible, as we shall then have some chance of getting to Cabool, which is said to be a delightful climate.

We are still totally ignorant of our future proceedings, except what I have stated above. We are in great hopes that we have not been brought here for nothing, and that we may have a chance of seeing a few hard blows given and taken ere long. Hydrabad and lootè is what is most talked about at present. It will, however, be a most harassing kind of warfare, I expect, as the force of the Ameers consists of Arabs and Beloochees; a regular predatory sort of boys, capital horsemen, but not able, I should think, to engage in a regular stand-up fight. I think their warfare will consist in trying to cut off a picket at night, breaking through the chain of sentries, and endeavouring to put the camp in confusion, &c. &c.; so that the poor subalterns on picket will have anything but a sinecure there; however, it will be a capital way of learning one's duty in the field. By-the-bye, I forgot to tell you, amongst other rumours of war, that an Ameer was down here a few days ago to obtain an interview with Sir J. Keane, who refused to see the Ameer, or to have anything to do with him, and told him that he would soon talk to him at Hydrabad.

Our force is now nearly all arrived, all except the Bombay grenadier regiment, which is to form part of ours, (i.e., the first brigade,) and not the 19th regiment, as I told my father. We have now here two squadrons of H.M. 4th Light Dragoons, the Queen's, and the 17th regiment. The native regiments are, the Grenadiers, the 5th, the 19th, and the 24th; there is also a due proportion of horse and foot artillery, together with some native cavalry, making in all 5500 fighting men. We are now about fifteen miles from the sea, and we got up quite safe, although there is a very dangerous bar to cross, and all the boats were not so lucky as ours, as the horse artillery lost fifteen horses; and a boat belonging to a merchant of Bombay went down, in which goods to the amount of one thousand rupees (100l.) were lost.

Our camp presents a very gay appearance--so many regiments collected together; and altogether I like this sort of campaigning work very well, although I expect that we shall be very hard put to it when we march, if we do not get more means of conveyance. The wind is blowing such intolerable dust into the tent that I can hardly write. The captain of the vessel which brought us from Bombay came up here last night, and returns to-day about eleven o'clock, and sails this evening for Bombay; I shall give him this letter to take, so that you and my father will receive my letters at the same time. As long as I keep my health I do not care where we go or what we do. The doctor has just come in and put me off the sick list. It is getting very near eleven o'clock, and the captain will be off directly, so that I must conclude my letter, hoping you will, for this reason, excuse its shortness; and with best love, &c., to all at home, believe me ever your most affectionate brother,


P.S. I have not any horse at present, which I find a great inconvenience. I sold what I had at Belgaum, before I left it, at a dead loss, as I expected to get plenty here on my arrival, but have been wofully disappointed. There were some splendid creatures for sale at Bombay, which was very tempting, but they asked enormous sums for them. I wonder where I shall eat my Christmas dinner! This is the first European army that has been on the Indus since the time of Alexander the Great.