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Letter V

Camp Kotree, four miles from Hydrabad,
February 6th, 1839.

MY DEAR FATHER,--I wrote to you a few days ago from Jarruk, informing you of the melancholy fate of three of my brother officers; but having received your letter since, dated Nov. 20th, containing the bill for 670 rupees (or 70l.), and informing me of the news of Kate's intended marriage, I could not let slip an opportunity which has just occurred, by our having got possession of Curachee, of writing to Kitty, and also, at the same time, of informing you of what has occurred since. You will receive this at the same time as you do the other, since it will arrive at Bombay in time to go by the same overland mail.

I wrote to you on the 31st; and on Sunday, the 3rd of February, we marched out of Jarruk for this place; we made a two days' march of it, both very disgusting; horrible, or rather no roads at all; nothing but dust and sand under our feet, which the wind blew into our eyes every minute; add to which, small halts every five minutes, on account of the artillery in our front, who could not get on through the badness of the way: this perpetual halting is the most wearisome thing possible to a soldier when once fairly under weigh. Well; we arrived here on the day before yes-day; our front is now completely changed, being towards the river, and not turned from it, or with our right resting on it, as it has been before; our brigade is on the extreme right. Of course, you know that we are on the western bank, and that Hydrabad is on the eastern, and therefore the opposite one. Since we have been here, we have a little relaxed in our discipline, being no longer under arms before daylight; but reports are still very various as to whether we are to have peace or war with the Ameers, and whether we shall eventually have to sack Hydrabad or not. A deputation from thence came over yesterday to Sir J. Keane. It appears that the Ameers will agree to our treaty, but demur about the money which that treaty obliges them to pay. As far as I can learn, though I do not advise you to put much reliance on it, as I may very likely be wrong, this seems to be the case. It appears that the Ameers have long owed our ally, whom we are going to place on the throne of Cabool, Shah Shooja, twenty lacs of rupees; that on our declaring war they agreed to pay this sum, with Shah Shooja's consent, to our government to meet the expenses of the war, and to give us a passage through their country to Shikarpoor. However, from our first landing in their country they have played a most underhand game, and endeavoured to throw every indirect obstacle in our way, behaving friendly to our faces, but behind our backs giving very different directions to their satellites: this was found out by means of intercepted letters, particularly at our last halt at Jarruk. The conduct of our party may not be considered of quite the fairest nature, as we are establishing posts in their country by way of communication, and reserves at three or four different places. This was, no doubt, part of the original plan that sent us here, as these posts are to be strongly fortified, consisting, it is supposed, of Shikarpoor, Schwun, Tatta, and Curachee, and are to be the posts of defence on our north-west frontiers against any incursions from our northern neighbours, particularly Russia. The Ameers are particularly indignant at this, as I am told it did not form part of the original treaty, and they see in it, no doubt with justice, a prelude to our final possession of their country. Pottinger, the political agent, had collected, before he left Hydrabad, grain for the army to the value of three lacs of rupees; this, it is now found out, has either been taken away or destroyed, and Sir J. Keane immediately added it to the other twenty lacs contained in the treaty. The Ameers say they will pay half the whole sum demanded here, and the remaining half on our arrival at Shikarpoor. This Sir J. Keane has refused, and told them he will not leave this or Hydrabad till he gets every fraction.

We yesterday received news which must, I should think, have an effect on the Ameers one way or the other. The admiral on this station, Sir F. Maitland, brought up in his 74 (I think the Wellesley) H.M. 40th regiment, from Mandivie, in Cutch, to Curachee, a fort on the westernmost branch of the Indus. On approaching the fort, the Beloochees who garrisoned it, taking it for a common free-trader, had the foolish presumption to fire into her; the admiral wore his vessel round, just gave one broadside, down came their fort in one second about their ears,--you may guess how it astonished them: they sent word to say that the English fire a lac of shot in one second. They say the Ameers were one year in taking this place, which cost the English one second. I think myself that we shall not have any fighting here, and that Hydrabad will still remain in the hands of the Ameers.

The report to-day is, that we cross the river to-morrow; if so, I suppose with hostile intentions, or at least for intimidation; but this I hardly believe. Sir J. Keane, they say, refused to receive the deputation from the Ameers yesterday. Should the thing be settled peaceably, we shall immediately march for Shikarpoor, and thence most likely on Candahar, a new climate. It has been getting gradually hotter here; and in the hot season Sinde is dreadful. At Shikarpoor we meet a part, if not the whole, of the Bengal force, and Shah Shooja, with his and Runjet Sing's contingent, is also there. Runjet himself is very ill: part of the agreement between him and us was, that we should preserve the throne to his son on his demise. He was excessively civil to Lord Auckland, and all the English who have been at Lahore. Sir H. Fane, they say, still proceeds with the Bengal army. The drummer is here waiting for my letter, as it is very late for the post, so, in haste, good bye. Love, &c., and believe me ever,

Your most affectionate son,

P.S. Jephson is post-master to the force.