Camp at Kotree, in Cutch Gundava,
December 8th, 1839.
MY DEAR FATHER--As I am now tolerably recovered and my wounds nearly healed, I take the first opportunity (as my arm is losing its stiffness) of writing to you, as I have no doubt you will be very anxious to hear how I am going on. I desired Stisted, the day after the taking of Kelat, to write, as I was myself then unable. I have no doubt but that he did so; yet I know you must have been anxious before you heard the final result; and I am now happy to inform you that I am getting rapidly well, and expect in a short time to be out of the "sick list." My wound was esteemed a rather ugly one at first; and I must consider it one of the most fortunate cases of Providence that the bullet took the direction it did, as had it swerved in the least degree it must have gone through my lungs, or downward through my liver; and in either case would most likely have done my business completely. As the man who fired at me was so very close, the ball went clear through, and so saved me from the unpleasant process of having it extracted by the doctor, &c. I had my right flank exposed to the man who pinked me, and so the ball passed through my right arm into my right side, and passing downwards to the rear, came out at my back, about an inch from the back-bone. Had it passed to the front instead of to the rear, I should have most assuredly left my bones at Kelat: as it was, from my coughing up a tolerable quantity of blood when I was first hit, the doctor imagined that my lungs had been affected, and for a couple of days, as I have since heard, was very doubtful as to my eventual recovery. However I may now, I believe, consider myself completely out of the wood.
I find I have not written since the last day I was at Cabool; and I have had few opportunities of doing so, as we have been on the move ever since, and until we reached Kelat there was very little to write about. We broke ground and marched to the other side of Cabool on Monday, the 16th of September, and halted on the 17th for a grand tomasha at the Bala Hissar, or Shah's Palace, being no less than the investiture of the order of the Doorannee Pearl, which was conferred by Shah Shooja on the big-wigs of the army. Sir John Keane, Sir Willoughby Cotton, and Mr. Macnaghten get the first order; generals of divisions and brigadiers, the second; and all field officers engaged at Ghuzni and heads of departments, the third; for the rest, all officers engaged at Ghuzni get a gold medal, and the soldiers a silver one: however, all this depends on the will and sanction of Queen Victoria.
On Wednesday, the 18th, we took our final leave of Cabool and its beautiful environs, and reached Ghuzni on the 26th, where we halted two days, and then struck off in a new direction, straight across country to Quettah, by a new road, and very little known, leaving Candahar to our right, and thereby cutting off a considerable angle. Our object in doing this was, besides saving distance, to afford assistance, if required, to Captain Outram, who had preceded us by about a week, and was gone with some of the Shah's force into the Ghiljee country, and was employed in destroying the forts, &c., of some of the refractory Ghiljee chiefs. He captured one fort in which were found forty or fifty fellows who were identified as being the same men who had murdered so many camp followers and some of our officers during our march through the country. I saw them at Ghuzni, where they were under confinement, and about to be executed in a few days, as I was told. About eight marches from Ghuzni, Outram sent to General Willshire for assistance, as his force was not sufficient; he was then before the largest of these hill forts, belonging to one of the most influential and refractory of the chiefs, and who had given us a great deal of annoyance in our way up. A wing of the 19th Native Infantry, some Artillery, and the Light Companies were therefore sent to his assistance; but they made a miserable failure as the chief, putting himself at the head of about a hundred faithful followers, dashed through their pickets at night, and made his escape with all his valuables, and without losing a man. We marched at an easy pace, detaching a force now and then to take a fort, which was invariably found, deserted on our approach. Nevertheless, we had hard work of it, as our route lay through and over high and barren mountains with scarcely an inhabitant or village to be seen, and nothing to be got for our cattle. For three days my horse, and those of most of us, lived on bushes and rank grass that we found occasionally. We had to depend on our commissariat for everything; and they found it difficult to supply grain for the staff and field officers' horses, so, of course, ours were quite left out of the question. Guns, powder, and shot were in great requisition; and, luckily, hares and Khorassan partridges were tolerably abundant. At times, even our guides confessed themselves at fault, so difficult was it to make our way through such a country. However, one thing was greatly in our favour--we had a splendid, bracing climate the whole way, the nights and mornings being "rayther" too cold, the thermometer ranging at that time between 20 and 30 degrees. The poor Sepoys and camp-followers, however, suffered severely. We experienced scarcely the slightest annoyance from the inhabitants although we passed through the most disaffected part of the country--viz., the Ghiljee country, and latterly through the heart of the Kauker country, whose chief, Hadjee Khan Kauker, is a prisoner at Cabool, as I told you in my former letter.
At length, on the 31st of October, we reached Quettah, where we were delighted to find a few Parsee merchants, who had come up from Bombay, and from whom we were enabled to get a few European comforts, in the shape of brandy, gin, wine, tea, pickles, &c., which we had long been without; even milk and butter were luxuries to us.
General Willshire now ordered the 31st Bengal Native Infantry, which had been left here in our march up, together with H.M. 17th, and a small detail of Artillery, to proceed to Kelat, under Colonel Baumgardt, our Brigadier. The 31st were to garrison it; and the 17th were sent because Mehrab Khan, the Kelat chief, had declared that "he would not surrender to any but European troops, and see the Sepoys d--d first, if they came alone." However, no resistance was expected, as Mehrab had been offered very liberal terms, which he had apparently accepted. The rest of the force was to go down by the Bolan Pass, and wait at Bukkur, or somewhere in Upper Sinde, till joined by the 17th. However, the next day a new order came out, and the Queen's, together with a stronger detail of Artillery, were ordered to reinforce the detachment to Kelat.
Well; we marched on the 5th of November; and the next day, after we had readied our ground, when we had just sat down to breakfast, great was our surprise to see General Willshire himself ride into camp with a few of his staff. All we could learn on the subject was, that on that morning, which was the day fixed for the rest of the division to begin their march down the Bolan Pass, and just as they were about to start, the General sent for his Adjutant and Quarter-master-general, and, taking them and his Aides with him, started for our camp. Things now looked a little more warlike; still we experienced no annoyance during the whole march; few of us but thought that on our approach Mehrab Khan would give in.
We halted a day at Mostrong, which was about half way, and here General Willshire and the political agent communicated with the Khan, who replied, that "as to the terms, he was willing to meet General Willshire half way, with a small escort, and there talk them over; but that if we advanced against him with an army, he should shut his gates, and we should find him at the door of his citadel with his drawn sword." There was "no mistake about that 'ere," as Sam Weller would say. However, most of us thought it was merely bravado, as our progress was not molested at all; this, however, was afterwards accounted for by the Khan's having called in all his fighting-men to his standard.
The last three days before arriving at Kelat we marched in order of battle, and had strong pickets at night, the whole force sleeping on their arms, and ready to fall in at a moment's notice.
On the 12th we were within eight miles of the fort; and on our arriving on our ground a few horsemen were observed reconnoitring us, who fired on our advance, but retired leisurely on the approach of the column. By that hour the next day "Kelat was prize money." We strongly expected to be attacked that night, and were all ready for a shindy; the artillery loaded with grape, and port-fires lighted, &c. However, it passed over very quietly; but we had hardly marched a mile from our encampment the next morning, when, in an opening through the hill to our right, we observed a large cloud of dust, which we soon discovered to be raised by a strong body of horsemen. They were about a mile and a half from our flank, and kept moving on in a parallel line with our column. However, at a point where the road took a turn towards the hills they halted, at about 150 yards from the advance guard, and deliberately fired into them with their matchlocks, but at too great a distance to do much harm. One company from the advance was sent to dislodge them; upon which they moved quickly down towards the main body, and taking up a position at about the same distance from us as before from the advance, gave us the same salute as they had before treated those in front to. Their balls came whistling in upon us on all sides, and knocked up the dust like drops of rain, but no damage was done; they then galloped off. It was a great pity we had no more cavalry with us; only fifty Bengal, or Irregular Horse, and their cattle were so done up that they were perfectly useless. The enemy laughed at the advance companies that were now sent out to skirmish with them. The ground consisted of undulating hills, and rather rough, over which our skirmishers, encumbered as they were with knapsacks and other absurdities, "selon les regles," found it very difficult to move quickly, and the enemy, riding their sure-footed horses to the top of one of those hills, would fire down, and wheel round, and be under cover of the other side of the hill before our men could return the compliment effectually. If we had had a squadron of Dragoons with us, lightly equipped, the result would have been very different. But, unfortunately, the only time during nearly the whole campaign when cavalry would have been of important service to us we were without them. However, very little blood is ever shed in desultory affairs of this sort, and they only wounded about three or four of our men; and at one place, a party of them coming unexpectedly upon the reserve of the skirmishers, two sections opened a fire upon them, emptied a few saddles, and sent the rest flying. We with the main body had a very good view of the whole affair, and a very animating scene it was. Our road had hitherto lain through a valley, about four miles broad; but when within about three miles and a half from Kelat, it takes a sudden turn to the right, and leads, for the next mile and a half, through a narrow and straight pass, after penetrating which, and arriving at the debouche, the fortress of Kelat appeared before us, frowning defiance. The first sight of it had certainly a very pretty effect: the sun had just burst out, and was lighting the half-cultivated valley beneath us, interspersed with fields, gardens, ruinous mosques, houses, &c.; while Kelat, being under the lee of some high hills, was still in the shade; so that, while all around presented a smiling and inviting appearance, as if hailing our approach with gladness, the fortress above seemed to maintain a dark and gloomy reserve, in high contrast with the rest of the picture; nor was the effect diminished when a thin cloud of smoke was seen spouting forth and curling over its battlements, followed, in a short interval, by the report of a large gun, which came booming over the hills towards us. "Hurrah! they have fired the first shot," was the exclamation of some of us, "and Kelat is prize-money!" On looking more minutely at it, however, it had rather an ugly appearance, and seemed, at that distance, much more formidable than Ghuzni did at the first view. We could only see the citadel, which was much more commanding and difficult of access than that of Ghuzni. The outworks, however, as we afterwards found, were not half so strong; these were, however, hidden from our view by two hills, rather formidable in appearance, covering the approach to the fortress, on each of which a redoubt was erected, and which we could perceive covered with men. Beneath us in the valley the advance companies were seen pushing on to occupy the gardens and other inclosures, while nearer the fort we could observe the body of cavalry we had been before engaged with drawn up, as if waiting our approach, under cover of the redoubts on the hills. Half way down the road leading into the valley was our Artillery, consisting of four six-pounders, field-pieces belonging to the Shah, and two nine-inch howitzers, with our Horse Artillery. Here, also, was General Willshire and staff, who now ordered one of the guns to open on the horsemen, in order to cover the movements of the advance companies, who were driving the enemy's matchlock men before them out of the inclosures in good style. The first shot struck wide of them, the second kicked up a dust rather too close to be pleasant, and the third went slap in among them, knocking over a horse or two, when these gallant cavaliers cut their sticks, and we saw no more of them. We soon moved into the valley, and halted for a considerable time at the foot of the hill. We were here within three-quarters of a mile of the nearest redoubt, and about a mile and half from Kelat itself. General Willshire now made a reconnaissance, and the men from the different baggage guards came in and joined their respective regiments. After halting here about an hour, (the guns from the nearest redoubt every now and then pitching a shot rather close to us,) the brigade-major made his appearance with orders for the three regiments to form in quarter distance column of companies, to attack the two redoubts, each leaving one company with the colours to form the reserve. The 17th were to attack the nearest redoubt, and the 31st Bengal Native Infantry to turn its right, while we were to push on and carry the other, which was the nearest to the fort. At the same time, our artillery were brought into position, and covered our advance.
The plot now began to thicken, and altogether the whole affair was the most exciting thing I ever experienced, and beat Ghuzni out of the pit. We moved steadily on, the guns from the redoubts blazing at us as fast as they could load them; but they were very inferior workmen, and only two shots struck near us, one knocking up the dust close to us, and bounding over our heads, and the other whizzing close over our leading company; however, they kept their ground till we arrived at the foot of the hills, when our artillery having unshipped one of their guns, and otherwise deranged their redoubts, they exploded their powder, and retired, some leisurely, but most in the greatest disorder. Here, again, we had occasion to regret having no cavalry, as a troop or two would have effectually cut off or dispersed them. On reaching the top of the hill which they had abandoned, we found ourselves within a quarter of a mile of the lower end of the town, with the Beloochees making the best of their way towards the gate, which was open to admit them. Captain Outram here rode up to us, and cried out, "On men, and take the gate before they can all get in." This acted like magic on the men. All order was lost, and we rushed madly down the hill on the flying enemy, more like hounds with the chase in view than disciplined soldiers. The consequence was, we were exposed to a most galling fire from the ramparts, by which several of our best men were put hors de combat; the fugitives were too quick for us, and suddenly the cry was raised by our leading men, "The gate is shut." All was now the greatest confusion, and shelter was sought for wherever it could be found. Unluckily a rush was made by the greatest part of the regiment to an old shell of a house, which could scarcely afford cover to twenty men, much less to the numbers who thronged into it, and who were so closely jammed that they could not move; and so the outside portion were exposed to the fire from the left bastion of the town, which completely out-flanked them, and from which the matchlock-men kept pouring in a cool and most destructive fire upon this dense mass with the utmost impunity; while a wide, broken-down doorway in the centre exposed them to a fire from another bastion in their front, if ever they shewed their nose for an instant to see how matters were going on, or to return their fire. Poor fellows! you may guess their situation was anything but pleasant. The consequences soon began to shew themselves--eight men and one officer (poor Gravatt) were shot dead, and several more were severely wounded, and had the artillery been less expeditious in knocking down the gate, the greatest part of them would have been annihilated. The other part of the regiment (myself among the rest) were more fortunate. Seeing so many rushing to one place, I made for another shelter, about twenty paces to the rear, which consisted of a long wall, about five feet high, and which afforded ample cover to us all. It was within seventy yards of the bastion that proved so fatal to the other party, and from which they kept up a pretty good fire upon us whenever we exposed ourselves. However, I was so excited that nothing would do but I must see the whole affair; this, however, was rather foolish, as every now and then they would direct their attention to us, and send in a volley, which would sing over us and knock up the dust and the old wall about us in good style. Simmons's horse (the Adjutant's) was foolishly brought down, and had not been a second there when it was shot slap through the hind-leg. The ground behind us was raised a little, so that the horse's leg was in a line with and nearly touching my head as I stood looking over the wall; on reaching the cover we found four or five poor fellows who had been wounded in the rush down the hill, and who had crawled in here as well as they could.
I had an excellent view of the further proceedings from this place. Right above us on the redoubt, from which we had driven the enemy, our artillery had now established themselves, and were slapping away as hard as they could at the gate. I could see every shot as it struck: they made some very clever shots, sending the balls all about the gate, and sometimes knocking down a portion of the bastion over it, considerably deranging the operations of the matchlock-men who were in it; but still the old gate would not fall. In the mean time, the advance companies, which had been in quiet possession of the gardens, inclosures, &c., since the beginning of the affair, were now ordered up to a wall about thirty yards in front of the doorway. They had to run over about three hundred yards of open country before they could get to it, exposed to a fire from the bastion over the door. I saw them make a splendid rush, but three poor fellows and a native water-bearer fell, whom I saw crawl under cover afterwards. All this time the artillery were banging away, but as they made so slight an impression on the gate, two guns of the Shah's were moved down the hill a little to our left, and within about one hundred and fifty yards of the gate. They fired two shots; the first made the old gate shake; the second was more fortunate, and took it about the middle, and brought it completely down. Our men gave a general hurrah; and Outram galloping down the hill at full speed, gave the word, "Forward;" and General Willshire came up to us at his best pace, waving his hat, "Forward, Queen's," he sung out, "or the 17th will be in before you." On we rushed again for the gate as hard as we could; the enemy treated us to one more volley, by which they did some execution, and Dickenson was wounded in his leg, and then abandoning the lower defences of the town, retreated to the citadel.
However, on entering the gate, we found matters not so easy as we expected. The streets were very narrow and so intricate that they formed a perfect labyrinth, and it was very difficult to make any progress through them. The men, therefore, soon got scattered about and broken into small parties; and some, I am afraid, thought of loot, or plunder, more than of endeavouring to find their way to the citadel. I forgot to mention that during the time we were under cover, the 17th and 31st Native Infantry had moved round the hill and taken up a position on our right. These two regiments were ordered forward and into the town and at the same time and the same gate as we were. The whole force, therefore, entered the town nearly together. I followed with a party of our men, and we pushed along as well as we could through streets, by-ways, &c. This was rather nervous work, as we never could tell what we had to expect before us; there was no open enemy to be seen, but whenever we came to an opening exposed to the citadel, a few bullets invariably came whizzing in about us, and knocked over a man or two; moreover, having the recollection of Ghuzni fresh in our minds, we expected every moment a rush of some desperate fellows from the narrow holes we passed through. After groping my way through narrow passages and all sorts of agreeable places, I found myself in the exact spot I had started from--viz., the gate by which we had entered. Here a man of our Light Company came and told me that he had discovered a way to the citadel, and begged me to put myself at the head of a few men there collected. Of course I did so, and in a short time we found ourselves in a large courtyard, with stables, &c., full of horses and Beloochees; right under the windows of the citadel. These men cried out for "aman," or "mercy;" but the soldiers recollecting the treachery that had been practised at Ghuzni in a similar case were going to shoot the whole kit of them. Not liking to see this done, I stopped their fire, and endeavoured to make the Beloochees come out of their holes and give themselves up. I was standing at this time in the centre of the court, and had heard a few shots whizzing rather close over my head, when I suddenly received a shock, which made me think at the moment I was smashed to bits, by a ball from a ginjall, or native wall piece. I was knocked senseless to the ground, in which state I suppose I lay for a few minutes, and when I came to myself I found myself kicking away, and coughing up globules of clotted blood at a great pace. I thought at first I was as good as done for; however, on regaining a little strength, I looked around, and seeing none of our men in the place, and thinking it more than probable, from what I knew of their character, that the very men whom I had been endeavouring to save might take it into their heads to give me the "coup de grace" now I was left alone, I made a desperate effort, got on my legs, and managed to hobble out, when I soon found some of our men, who supported me until a dooly could be brought, into which I was placed, and was soon on my way to the doctor.
You may imagine my feelings all this time to be anything but pleasant. I still continued coughing up blood, which was flowing also pretty freely from my side. The idea that you may probably have only a few hours longer to exist, with the many recollections that crowd into your mind at such a time, is anything but a delightful one; and the being so suddenly reduced from a state of vigorous activity to the sick, faintish feeling that came over me, by no means added to the agremens of my situation.
I well recollect being carried through the gate, where General Willshire with his staff and the officers who had been left with the reserve companies were, and who all pressed forward to see who the unfortunate fellow in the dooly was, when the low exclamation of "Poor Holdsworth!" and the mysterious and mournful shaking of heads which passed among them, by no means tended to enliven my spirits. I soon reached the place where the doctors, with their understrappers, were busily employed among the wounded, dying, and dead. I was immediately stripped and examined, and then, for the first time, heard that the ball had passed through and out of my body. I also now discovered that it had struck and gone through my arm as well. Being very anxious, I begged Hunter, the doctor, to let me know the worst. He shook his head, and told me "he thought it a rather dangerous case, principally from my having spit so much blood." He had not time, however, to waste many words with me, as he had plenty of others to attend. Dickenson, also, I found here; having been wounded, as I before told you. He did all he could to keep my spirits up, but, as you may suppose, I felt still very far from being comfortable. Nor were the various objects that met my eye of a consolatory nature: men lying, some dead, others at their last gasp, while the agonizing groans of those who were undergoing operations at the hands of the hospital assistants, added to the horror of the scene. I may now say that I have seen, on a small scale, every different feature of a fight.
In the meantime, there had been sharp fighting in the citadel. Our men, after forcing their way through numerous dark passages, in sonic places so narrow and low that they were forced to crawl singly on their hands and knees, at length arrived there; but as there were a great number of approaches to this their last place of refuge, our men got broken up into small detached parties, and entered it at different places. One party reached the place where Mehrab Khan, at the head of the chiefs who had joined his standard, was sitting with his sword drawn, &c. The others seemed inclined to surrender themselves, and raised the cry of "Aman!" but the Khan, springing on his feel, cried, "Aman, nag!" equivalent to "Mercy be d--d," and blew his match; but all in vain, as he immediately received about three shots, which completely did his business; the one that gave him the "coup de grace," and which went through his breast, being fired by a man of our regiment, named Maxwell. So fell Mehrab Khan, having fulfilled his promise to General Willshire, and died game, with his sword in his hand, in his own citadel.
Other parties, however, were not so fortunate, as each being too weak, the enemy generally offered a determined resistance, and several, after giving themselves up, finding the numbers to whom they had surrendered smaller than they had at first appeared, turned upon them suddenly; for which, however, they suffered in the long-run, as the soldiers, at last, maddened by this conduct, refused quarter, and fired at once into whatever party they met, without asking any questions.
At length the few survivors, being driven to their last stronghold at the very top of the citadel, surrendered on condition of their lives being granted to them; when one loud and general "hurrah!" proclaimed around that Kelat was ours. The greatest part of the garrison had, however, before this managed to make their escape over the hills. Dickenson, while he was lying wounded by my side, saw quantities of them letting themselves down the walls of the citadel by means of ropes, shawls, &c.
Dooly, the most faithful of his chiefs and followers, remained by Mehrab Khan to the last. These were all either taken prisoners or killed. Besides the Khan himself, the Dadur chief, who had been the cause of great annoyance to us in our way up, and the Governor of the Shawl district, were among the slain. The only two men of his council of any note among the survivors are at present prisoners in our camp, on their way to Bengal.
Thus ended this short, but decisive affair, which I consider to be a much more gallant one than that of Ghuzni, both in regard to the numbers engaged on each side and the manner in which it was taken. We merely halted for an hour, and then went slap at it, as if it was merely a continuation of our morning's march. General Willshire was exceedingly pleased with the result, as well he might be, and issued a very complimentary address to the force engaged, the next day. I hope and conclude his fortune will be made by it.
The loss on our side at Kelat was, in proportion, a great deal greater than at Ghuzni. We had altogether about 1100 bayonets engaged, and the loss was 140, being about one in seven; of this loss, the Queen's bear a proportion equal to that of the other two regiments together, having returned about seventy in the butcher's bill out of 280, which was the number we brought into the field, being about one in four. Out of thirteen officers, we had one killed, four severely, and one slightly, wounded; twenty-three men were killed, and forty-one wounded, of whom some have died since, and most will feel the effect of their wounds till their dying day, as the greatest portion are body wounds.
With regard to prize-money, I have no doubt that had things been even tolerably well managed, there would have been plenty of it, but we did not stay there long enough to search the place thoroughly. I hear also that the other part of the force that went down by the Bolan Pass claim to share with us, which we do not allow; so that, perhaps, it may get into the lawyers' hands, and then good-bye to it altogether, I do not expect, under any circumstances, more than 100l. Some of the rooms of the citadel were very handsomely fitted up, particularly one in the old fellow's harem, which was one entire mirror, both sides and ceiling.
We remained at Kelat till the 21st of November, and then marched by the Gundava Pass on this place. During the week that we remained there, my wounds continued doing very well, and I had very little fever; and on the third and fourth days after I was hit, the doctor considered me "all right." On the two first days of our march, however, I caught a low fever, which left me on the third, and I have continued to grow gradually better ever since. We found the Gundava a much longer and more difficult pass than that of the Bolan, and could get very little grain or supplies either for ourselves or our cattle. Our march was perfectly unmolested, as by that time the new Khan had arrived at Kelat, and most of the principal chiefs had acknowledged him. I do not know, however, what has become of Mehrab Khan's eldest son, a lad of fifteen years old, who was bringing up a reinforcement to his father in our rear, while we were marching on Kelat, but did not arrive in the neighbourhood until after the place was taken. He, however, threatened us with a night attack while we were lying in front of it, so that we were on the alert, every one sleeping on his arms during the whole time we were there.
"We laid not by our harness bright,
Neither by day nor yet by night."
During the whole of this time the weather set in dreadfully cold, colder than I ever experienced it anywhere in my life; sharp frosts, &c.
Well; to cut the matter short, yesterday, the 7th of December, we arrived at this place, which is the same that we halted at for a week in our march up. Here, at length, we are in the land of plenty, and enjoy such luxuries as fresh eggs, butter, milk, vegetables, &c., with a goût that those only can feel who have been so long without them as we have. We find the climate, however, very hot, and I am sorry to say that we are losing many fine fellows from the effect of the change. It is very painful to witness these poor fellows going off in this miserable manner, after surviving the chances of fire and steel, and all the harassing duties they have had to perform during the campaign, now when they have arrived at nearly the very end of it.
Larkhanu, Dec. 24th.--I have delayed sending this till our arrival here, as the communication between this and Bombay is perfectly open, which might not have been the case at Kotra. We have been here about a week, and report says that we are to finish our marching here, and drop down the river to Curachee in boats. I hope this may prove the case, as I am sure we have had marching enough for one campaign. Another report, however, says, that there is a kick-up in the Punjab, and that we shall be detained in this country in consequence; but I do not think it likely.
That part of our force which was not employed at Kelat went down by the Bolan Pass, and have suffered considerably from cholera, which luckily we have as yet escaped. The men that we have lost since our arrival in this low country have all died from complaints of the lungs, from which they were perfectly free in the cold country above the hills. Since writing the former part of this letter, I have received a letter from Kate, dated September 10th, which I will answer as soon I have finished this letter to you.
December 25th, Christmas day.--I hope to spend this evening more comfortably than I did last year, when I was on out-lying picket, the night before we commenced our first march. Now, I trust, we have finished our last. We have luckily met all our mess supplies here, which have been waiting for us about six months, having never managed to get further than Bukkur. So now it is a regular case of--
"Who so merry as we in camp?
Live in clover," &c.
I have just heard that the order is out for our marching the day after to-morrow to the banks of the river, there to remain till the boats are ready. Now the campaign is so near its close, I feel very glad that I have been on it, as it is a thing that a man does not see every day of his life in these times; and I consider it to be more lucky than otherwise that I have four holes in my body as a remembrance of it; but I cannot say that I relish a longer sojourn in India, unless we have the luck to be sent to China, which I should like very much, (fancy sacking Pekin, and kicking the Celestial Emperor from his throne,) as I do not think the climate has done me any good, but on the contrary.
I do not know whether these wounds of mine will give me any claim;--and, talking about that, I would wish you to inquire whether or not I am entitled to any gratuity for them. I hear that officers returned "wounded" on the list in the Peninsular Campaign, no matter how slight the wound might have been, received a gratuity of one year's pay as a compensation; and this, I think, was called "blood-money." I do not know how far this may be the case at present, but I do not think that 120l. ought to be lost sight of for want of a little inquiry.
By-the-bye, I had nearly forgotten to say that I have received two letters from Eliza, which I will answer as soon as possible; but I do not think it safe to keep this open any longer, as I may lose the mail to Bombay; so must conclude, with best love to all at home,
Your very affectionate son,