HL Deb 24 April 1849 vol 104 cc707-33

I rise, my Lords, in pursuance of the notice I have given, to move that the Thanks of the House be presented to the Governor General of India, the Commander-in-Chief, and the Officers and Soldiers of the Army of India, for their services in the late operations; and if in the few observations with which I think it necessary to preface this Motion, I feel conscious that I labour under some deficiency arising from professional ignorance on the one hand, and from local ignorance of the scenes of these great events on the other, I have still the satisfaction of knowing that I am speaking in the presence of those who are well able to supply that deficiency, who have had their own share of the laurels to be gathered in those scenes, and who are familiar with the soil in which those laurels have been ripened to maturity. Being sure, I say, that such deficiency on my part will be ably supplied by other of your Lordships, I have only to call your attention very shortly to the events which have recently occurred in the Punjab, and which have led to a brilliant and glorious termination of the war in that country. Your Lordships are all aware that this war, which has agitated and convulsed so considerable a portion of our Indian territories, originated in an act of rebellion—and more than rebellion—in an act of treachery perpetrated at Mooltan. Mooltan is, as I need not state to those of your Lordships who are acquainted with the circumstances of India, not only one of the most considerable commercial towns in that country, but is also one of its most formidable strongholds in a military point of view. Over the garrison of Mooltan a native chief, by name Moolraj, had been appointed to rule, under the control and command of the East India Company. Previously, however, to the events which I am going to detail to your Lordships, that chieftain, in consequence of certain reforms which had been introduced under the authority of the Company, had voluntarily resigned his command. Subsequently to that resignation, two officers in the service of the East India Company, Mr. Vans Agnew and Lieutenant Anderson, well fitted for the object on which they were employed, were sent to Mooltan to assist the successor of Moolraj in the government of the territory to which he was appointed. Soon afterwards, owing to the dissatisfaction of a number of persons who had been guilty of much malversation and oppression, and whose interests were likely to be greatly affected by the change of government, an insurrection broke out at Mooltan, of which the object was to replace Moolraj in the authority which he had resigned; and then an atrocity which could not be too deeply deplored was committed, and the two gentlemen whose names I have already mentioned were cruelly and barbarously murdered. After that insurrection and that murder, Moolraj—of whom I am now un-willing to say more, because he is on his trial, and it is not at present known how far he was cognisant of the atrocities committed by those who professed themselves to be his followers—Moolraj again became possessed of the fortress of Mooltan, and by the power at his command, and the numbers who joined in the insurrection, came into possession of all the neighbouring country surrounding Mooltan—a possession, however, which, as I shall show your Lordships hereafter, was not unresisted, but which nevertheless existed and continued to exist to such an extent, that in a short time the insurrection commenced at Mooltan was followed by an insurrection extending all over the country; and, before many weeks elapsed, from every part of that frontier there sallied forth, in arms, hordes of men of the most formidable character, prepared for a desperate and murderous struggle with the forces of this empire and of the East India Company, composed of fanatics of every sect and denomination, united by their common hatred of European power—a hatred founded on their common perception that that power would be exercised to restrain the arbitrary despotism by which their lawless chiefs governed their territories, and leading those chiefs to believe, that as their power would be controlled, and their resources and their fortunes would be diminished by the superior influence of the East India Company, an opportunity had arisen in which they could at length obtain retribution and revenge; and hence every vindictive and disappointed passion was excited and united against us for the purpose of invading, and, if possible, of conquering, all the northern territory of India. Under these circumstances, every effort was made by the Governor General and by the Commander-in-Chief of the army to defend that territory, to repeal the invasion, and to revenge the rebellion, which bad originated in treachery, and had been consummated in murder. No time was lost in preparing an army for these purposes; and in a short time, by the zealous exertions of all parties, an army as formidable as any that India has ever seen, was brought to bear upon the scene of action. These events rapidly succeeded each other during the summer and autumn which last year followed the month of April in which the insurrection broke out; and during that summer and that autumn several murderous conflicts and battles were fought, with whose names I shall not trouble your Lordships now, and into the circumstances and details of which I shall not enter now. Enough it is for me to say, that there was not one in which the greatest ability, discipline, and valour, were not displayed by that portion of the British army which was engaged. But here I ought also to say, that if I were to go minutely into the history of those actions, that history would not only sustain the high character for courage which the British army has always displayed in every region of the globe, but it would also exhibit in a striking point of view—for it is right that justice should be done even to our enemy—the distinguished courage and valour of its opponents, engaged, as they conceived themselves to be, in a desperate conflict for their highest interests, and their hitherto uncontrolled independence. But I pass, my Lords, from the events which occurred in the summer and autumn of last year, to those operations which now more immediately call for your attention, and to that Vote of Thanks which I think that you are all anxious to grant unanimously to those gallant men who were engaged in them. In the month of February in the present year, after various actions had taken place, there arrived a period in which Lord Gough felt himself able to attack the united forces of the enemy. I say, my Lords, the united forces of the enemy; for it is one of the singular characteristics of the late conflict that it brought into action and concert together two of the most warlike races which are to be found from one end of India to the other. It brought into action and concert the Sikhs and the Affghans—races professing different faiths, but both remarkable, particularly the Sikhs, for having attained a degree of discipline far beyond any previously acquired by any native troops, and which was obtained by the instruction derived for many years from the assistance of European officers. Against that array, so combined and so disciplined, consisting of 60,000 men, and supported by 59 pieces of cannon, brought from every part of the country, and taken from its very fortresses, the Governor General of India was enabled to produce a well-appointed army of 25,000 men, supported by 100 pieces of cannon. That army, in the month of February this year, met the enemy in the field on the plains of Goojerat, and the result was the total dispersion of that dark cloud which threatened, a few months ago, the peace of India. The victory then achieved was achieved by the joint exertions of the generals, officers, and soldiers of that army, made zealously, unremittingly, and unflinchingly; many of them acting under the severe hardships and difficulties of forced marches, rapidly made to reach in time the field of battle. In affording the just tribute of praise to the whole army, I cannot omit particular mention of the exertions of that portion of it which came from Bombay under the command of General Dundas, and which arrived by forced marches, without a halt, at the scene of action the very day before the battle took place. Those forced marches were so well conducted that scarcely a single man was lost upon the road; and in such a condition did they arrive that the brigade took, as I before stated, a distinguished part in the battle; and not only so, but the day afterwards it formed part of the force which, under General Gilbert, was actively engaged in pursuit of the flying enemy. I mention this fact to your Lordships with pride and with pleasure, as a most striking instance of the zeal exhibited by the officers of the Bombay army. I have now stated to your Lordships the magnitude of the services performed. I believe that those noble Lords who are greater authorities than I can pretend to be on the affairs of India, will state to you that these services were performed under circumstances of great difficulty, arising from the strength of the position of the enemy, who had shown great zeal, ability, and knowledge in availing themselves of the advantages of the country, of the difficulties of the fords, and of the proximity of the jungles near which they fought. Here, then, is a brilliant termination to the war which has been attended with so much anxiety, and, I am sorry to say, with so much bloodshed, but which has also been crowned with success at its close as complete as it is glorious to the British arms. I am happy, my Lords, to be able to inform you that that success was not confined to the field of Goojerat; for the fortress of Mooltan—a place strong in position, strong by nature and by art, and under the com- mand of a most resolute chief—was submitted to a siege, which likewise terminated with great glory and high honour to the British Army, and particularly to the artillery branch of it, which exhibited in the capture of it an ability and skill almost unparalleled in the annals of war. Some idea of the efficiency of the services of that branch of our force may be formed from the fact which I now announce to your Lordships, that not less than 26,000 shells were thrown into Mooltan during the continuance of the siege; and the result was, that it surrendered at discretion to Major General Whish, who commanded the besiegers, and to whom I propose to give your Lordships' thanks for the services which he rendered. I must not forget to mention that within eight or nine months from the period at which these transactions commenced in a most barbarous murder, that fortress, hitherto deemed impregnable, beheld the bodies of those two gentlemen, who had been so foully bereft of life, carried in honour from the place into which they had been thrown ignominiously, to receive the final honours of Christian burial, their funeral procession marching through the breach which the gallantry of the British army had formed in the walls, followed by those gallant soldiers who had so well avenged the injury inflicted upon British honour in the persons of Mr. Vans Agnew and Lieutenant Anderson. I hope that the punishment thus inflicted on the Sikhs for their atrocious perfidy will not be forgotten in the district in which it was inflicted, and that it will long remain on record as an instance of the power and valour of the British in India. I have now alluded, my Lords, to the origin of the war, and to the successful termination to which it was brought under the auspices of Lord Gough. I have also alluded to the manner in which the successes of Lord Gough were followed up by Sir W. Gilbert; but I cannot, my Lords, altogether stop here. It is incumbent upon your Lordships to recollect, that, although you are now about to give honour by name to those distinguished officers who held high command in the late operations, it is not in your power, by any vote which you may pass, to do justice to all the meritorious individuals effectually and usefully employed in obtaining these valuable results; and I cannot but think, and I am sure there is not one of your Lordships who has been in the habit of contemplating the course of events in India, and the wars in which you have been engaged, with interest, and even with anxiety, who will fail to have been struck, as I always have been, with the peculiar character of that warfare, and its effects in eliciting—not only in commanders, in generals, and in leaders, but in subaltern officers—qualities of the greatest possible value—qualities not called forth in the same amount or in the same degree, perhaps, in any other service. These subalterns are sent out of this country at a very early age, and are not unfrequently called upon to exercise their judgments and abilities when detached from the authority of others, and compelled to act in a great degree for themselves—compelled to use their own discretion, not merely in exposins: their lives and those of their followers—not merely in the exercise of that military discipline and authority which it is to be hoped every British officer has learned to exercise—but also in dealing with the passions, the prejudices, and the feelings of populations with whom they cannot have before been familiar; and yet upon their success in gaining the confidence and goodwill of these people must depend mainly their being enabled to render useful and efficient service to their country. My Lords, I must, therefore, recall to your recollection that one of the distinguishing features of this campaign has been, that many young officers have been enabled, under the most difficult and trying circumstances, without assistance and without instructions, to obtain most considerable and advantageous success in the prosecution of this warfare. I stated to your Lordships, in referring to the siege of Mooltan—or rather to the defection of the garrison and population of Mooltan—that Moolraj, the chief of that place, had endeavoured, immediately upon this defection making its appearance, to occupy all the surrounding country. No sooner was it known in the country that the defection had taken place, and that Moolraj and the town of Mooltan and the country surrounding it were in open insurrection, than an officer, stationed at some days' march from that place, finding himself with a single regiment at his disposal—I am now alluding to a name which I trust is already familiar to your Lordships—I mean Major Edwardes, at that time Lieutenant Edwardes, who, I must state to your Lordships, was about eight or nine years ago a mere boy in India: it is only, I believe, eight years since he received his appointment; he was in the year after appointed aide-de-camp to Lord Gough, whom he assisted in every action since his appointment in India, and in one of which he was wounded—that officer having, then, been recently appointed assistant in the management of the country in the neighbourhood of Mooltan, and finding himself at the head of a single native regiment, conceived the design of driving Moolraj into his fortress, and rescuing the whole of the country round Mooltan from his grasp. He effected it; and he effected it without the assistance of a single European soldier. Such was his character, such was the confidence which he had inspired among the natives, such was the means that he used, and such was the revenue that he raised at the moment in this very country that he was rescuing from the grasp of the treacherous Moolraj, that he was enabled to unite a very considerable force—that force entirely native—composed entirely of new levies—he was enabled to pay those levies, to arm them, and to drive hack that chief within the very walls of that fortress from which he had issued to obtain possession of the surrounding country. He did so, after defeating him in two pitched battles, in every one of which Lieutenant Edwardes was himself personally engaged, inspiring confidence among the troops by his exertions, in more than one instance actually seizing the enemies' gun with his own hand, and by his uniform good conduct and ability commanding the affections and the respect of the natives who followed in his army. This was conduct deserving the warmest approbation of the country. But, I am glad to say, this is not a solitary example. There were others also deserving of similar approbation. There is the case of Lieutenant Abbott, the case of Lieutenant Lake, the case of Lieutenant Herbert—and I mention the case of this last officer the more prominently, because he was left in the fortress of At-tock without a single European soldier, and maintained himself in it successfully for many months against a very superior force of the enemy. Services such as these are deserving of the highest praise of your Lordships; and it is important to call attention to them, not only in justice to those officers themselves, but as characterising the general spirit of that service of which they form a part; for we may depend upon it, that in stamping such services with the meed of our approbation, we are providing not only for the present, but also for the future interests of the country. It is on the formation of such characters as Major Edwardes and his gallant associates, sent out as they are from this country at an early age, that the future hopes of this country must rest for the existence and continuance of that magnificent dominion in the East, which Providence, in its bounty, has conferred upon us; but on terms which bind us not only to defend it by our arms, but also to improve it by the introduction of good laws, sound morality, and benevolent and wise institutions. My Lords, I have nothing more now to say. I hope that you will confer on Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of India, a Member of your House, your thanks for the zealous care and ability with which he provided an army to take the field. I hope that you will also confer them on Lord Gough, the Commander-in-Chief in India, for his indomitable courage in the hour of battle. I hope that you will also confer them on the other eminent officers whose names are contained in the vote which I shall have the honour to propose to you; and in conferring those thanks, I hope that your Lorships will consider yourselves as representing the Country at large, and expressing its gratitude for the great and eminent services which these brave men, officers as well as soldiers, have been rendering it during the last nine months on the distinguished scene of their late triumphs. The noble Marquess then moved, amid loud cheers, the following resolutions:— That the Thanks of this House be given to the Right Hon. the Earl of Dalhousie, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Governor General of India, for the Zeal and Ability with which the Resources of the British Empire in the East Indies have been applied to the Support of the Military Operations in the Punjab. That the Thanks of this House be given to General the Right hon. Lord Gough, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in India, for the conspicuous Intrepidity displayed by him during the recent Operations in the Punjab, and especially for his Conduct on the 21st of February, 1849, in the Battle of Goojerat, when the British Army obtained a brilliant and decisive Victory. That the Thanks of this House be given to Major-General Sir Joseph Thackwell, Knight-Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; to Major-General Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert, Knight-Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; to Major General William Samson Whish, Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; and to Brigadier-Generals the Hon. Henry Dundas, Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; Colin Campbell, Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; Hugh Massey Wheeler, Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; and James Tennant; and to the several Officers, European and Native, under their Command, for the indefatigable Zeal and Exertions exhibited by them throughout the recent Campaign. That the Thanks of this House be given to the Non-Commissioned Officers, and Private Soldiers, European and Native, for the service rendered to the British Empire by the signal Overthrow of the numerous Enemies combined in Arms against them; and that the Opinion of this House be signified to them by the Commanders of the several Corps. That the Thanks of this House be given to Major-General William Samson Whish, Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, for his eminent Services in conducting to a successful issue the Siege of the Fort and City of Mooltan. That the Thanks of this House be given to the several Officers, European and Native, under the Command of Major-General Whish, and to the Officers of the Indian Navy employed upon that Occasion, for their gallant Conduct during the Siege of Mooltan. That the Thanks of this House be given to the Non-Commissioned Officers and Private Soldiers and Seamen, European and Native, for the Bravery and Fortitude manifested by them during the Siege of Mooltan; and that the same be signified to them by their several Commanders. Ordered—That these Resolutions be transmitted by The Right Hon. The Lord Chancellor to The Governor-General of India, and that he be requested to communicate the same to the several Officers referred to therein. After his Lordship had read them to an end, he added:—Perhaps I may be permitted to add that the scene of this extraordinary victory has not witnessed a severer struggle between steady and well-disciplined valour on the one side, and numbers and courage on the other, since the day when the greatest conqueror of ancient times, Alexander, brought the Macedonian phalanx to bear on the self-same spot upon one of the bravest and greatest Sovereigns of the East at that time.


My Lords, if I rise to support the Motion now made by the noble Marquess opposite, it is not because I have the presumption to think that I can add anything to that eulogium which, with so much justice, truth and ability, he has bestowed upon those gallant men to whose combined efforts we owe the late brilliant successes of our arms; nor that I have the slightest ambition to speak upon such a subject in the presence of the highest living authority, that of my noble and gallant Friend at the table (the Duke of Wellington)—the highest of all military authorities—from whom it would be hardly too much to say that a few words of discriminating commendation will be as highly valued by military men as any vote which your Lordships are now called upon to give; nor in the presence of the noble Earl behind me, who possesses so much local experience, the late Governor General of India (the Earl of Ellenborough); nor in the presence of another noble and gallant Friend near me, who possesses so much military knowledge and local experience combined (Viscount Hardinge). They are able to speak positively and with authority upon these matters. The only excuse that I can have for venturing to offer myself to your Lordships, oven for a single moment, is, that I think it not undesirable to mark, in the most emphatic manner, that upon questions of this kind no party differences among us can be permitted for a single moment to prevail—that, widely as we may differ upon questions of domestic colonial and foreign policy, the auger of party strife and all those considerations are silent when the honour of our country and the glory of our arms are under discussion—that we feel a united and common interest in the welfare of our country and the advancement of our military glories—and that we also feel a pride and an honour in tendering the united tribute of our gratitude to those brave and gallant men by whom those great objects are maintained, advanced, and promoted. Upon the present occasion, I believe I may congratulate your Lordships and the country, and those gallant men who have achieved these successes, that as their cause was among the justest—as their successes have been of the most signal character, so, also, the results of these signal successes are likely to be of the most decisive and permanent character. It is not alone that we have added to the present military glories of the country, but, in addition to that additional glory and honour, we have laid the foundation of a long and permanent peace, to the permanent glory and advantage of the great interests of this country; and, I will add, I trust and believe also to the permanent welfare and prosperity of our enemies themselves. My Lords, I look upon these victories with the more importance, because, while I feel, what I am sure your Lordships must feel, that our empire in India must, to a certain extent, rest upon the prestige of our power, and the absolute belief, by the people of India, of our military superiority, still, on the other hand, it can only be maintained, and still more, that magnificent empire can only be made a really valuable addition to the wealth, strength, and power of this country, by laying deeply in times of peace, in the sense not only of power exercised over them, but of power exercised for their benefit, the foundation of a lasting and valuable peace, and advancement with peace of those arts and those improvements which, under the blessings of peace, can alone be expected to flourish and prevail in that empire. I am quite confident that it will be a subject of satisfaction, worthy of the generous nature of the profession, and the high feeling of the gallant officer who has recently gone out to take the command in India, to whom, at a moment when Indian affairs were certainly the subject of considerable anxiety in this country, the eyes of all men at once turned as the man in whom the army of this country and of India would have the greatest confidence, and whoso efforts would be the most likely to contribute to success—I say, I know that that gallant officer will share the satisfaction which is felt by your Lordships, when, upon his arrival in India, he shall find that that crisis which led to calling forth his services has passed—that his old companion in arms, without his assistance, and without his interposition, has successfully weathered that crisis, and added fresh laurels to those which he had already achieved in the field—that he has shown that there was no cause for the alarm which prevailed as to the ultimate results of this conflict, and has obtained for himself by this brilliant victory and signal success the honour which he shares together with the whole of the army engaged upon this occasion. My Lords, I know it will be a source of gratification to the gallant officer, who at once responded to the call of the country, and at a very short notice, and at considerable personal inconvenience, undertook what was then deemed an enterprise of no small risk and responsibility—I know it will be a subject of satisfaction to him that that Indian army with which he was so familiar has so well maintained its character as to deserve to be associated with Her Majesty's English troops. He will rejoice to find more especially that the corps partly raised under his own eye—the Scindian Irregular Horse—has signally distinguished itself upon the recent occasion, and even had the honour of leading into action one of Her Majesty's most distinguished regiments. My Lords, when all have performed their part so signally to their own credit, and to the advantage of the country, it would be invidious in any one, indeed it would be hardly decent in one so ill competent as myself, to single out for comment any particular branch of the service; yet I can scarcely refrain from expressing the tribute of my admiration, which, I believe, is shared by very high authorities, of the manner in which their duties have been performed by that unrivalled artillery which, by its terrible execution, rendered it impossible for any enemy long to stand before it, even though that enemy were, as upon the present occasion, no mean proficients in that branch of the service—an enemy whose signal bravery fully entitles him to the comments which the noble Marquess has bestowed upon him, and whose valour rendered him no unworthy opponent even of the British army. Perhaps, my Lords, I may be permitted to express my satisfaction that one gallant and well-known regiment which, with hardly less of surprise than regret, upon a recent occasion, the world heard of having yielded to one of those momentary panics to which the best and the bravest of regiments are at times liable—has had the opportunity upon this more recent occasion of showing that its true courage remains unbroken, and that it still retains its ancient spirit and valour—that it has had the opportunity of vindicating for itself the noble claim to participate in all its former honours, unblemished by the temporary cloud which for a moment might appear to have passed over its head. I feel that I ought almost to apologise for having offered a single observation upon the subject, and I will not so far presume upon your patience as to enter into the details of these transactions, which will come better from some one more conversant with the subject than myself. I am sure that if it will be any additional satisfaction to those gallant men for whose services we are now called upon to express our thanks to know that the vote has been agreed to without even a shadow of opposition—on the contrary, concurred in by every one of your Lordships—that that satisfaction will be conceded to them, and that those gallant men who have so nobly earned the gratitude of their country will have the satisfaction of knowing that that which they have so nobly earned, your Lordships frankly, freely, cordially, gratefully, and without a dissentient voice, have conferred upon them to-night, as the unanimous approbation and thanks of the Peers of their native land in Parliament assembled. I would suggest, therefore, that the words nemine contradicente be added to the Vote of Thanks.


said, that he concurred in the Motion before the House, and heartily assented to the general arguments by which, from one side and the other, it had been recommended to their Lordships' adoption. But he felt that, while as British subjects and British Peers, it well became them to express their obligations to the distinguished individuals who had exerted their best energies in council, and who had, with the gallant army under their command, perilled their lives in the field in defence of the British empire in India—that while they were properly called to render the tribute of their thanks and praise to the instruments by which such important results had been accomplished, yet that it was their still higher duty as a Christian Legislature not to forget the Divine interposition in our behalf. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the glory, for Thy mercy and Thy truth's sake." These were the words of the greatest of warriors in ancient times; and, in our own day, the present Governor General of India, and the noble and gallant Viscount, and the noble Earl who had preceded him in office, and also the noble and gallant Lord the Commander-in-Chief in India, had, all of them, in their public despatches, acknowledged the providence of God in the victorious transactions which they narrated. This was, in his belief, the secret and strength of their success in occasional circumstances of almost unparalleled difficulty. Now he (the Earl of Galloway) feeling the importance of unanimity on the present occasion, would not, if such should not be the wish of the House, propose any—even the slightest verbal amendment, for the purpose of embodying such a sentiment in the Motion. But he was forcibly reminded by this Vote of Thanks to his fellow-men—speaking as a Christian man to a Christian assembly—of what was due, not only by the Parliament, but also by the country, to the only Source of all mercy and all power; and it appeared to him, that if ever there was a time in our history when national thanksgiving to the Almighty was demanded, it was the present time. For while these events and this struggle had been going on in the East, Europe had been convulsed, and amid the turmoil and the wreck of surrounding nations it had pleased God to permit us to preserve our institutions in Church and State inviolate. We had certainly had our trials, but we had not been driven as other nations had been driven by-despair to resort to remedies infinitely worse than the evils complained of; and while at the same time the pulse of the country beat high with the alternations of hope and fear for what was passing in India—not under the influence of doubts as to the ultimate issue of the struggle there, but under much apprehension as to the amount of loss which we might yet be called to sustain in the course of it—at this moment of suspense intelligence had been received which had relieved all our anxieties, and we had been informed of the total discomfiture of the enemy, with an amount of loss bearing no proportion to the advantages which had been obtained, and to the beneficial results which might be expected to follow. Under these circumstances, while cordially joining in the proposed Vote of Thanks to the Governor General and to the Officers and Army, to whom they were so much indebted, he called upon their Lordships, and especially on the right rev. Prelates who were present, to second his appeal to Her Majesty's Ministers, that they would take these matters into consideration, with the view of advising the Sovereign to appoint a day of general thanksgiving for the signal mercies which had been vouchsafed to the country, accompanied by a national acknowledgment of our unworthiness of them.


My Lords, I shall not oppose the proposition of the noble Lord who has just addressed you; but I do not think it exactly a subject for your Lordships' consideration at the present moment. The noble Lord, if he thinks proper, may make such a proposition, and I think the House will willingly take it into their consideration; but that which is the object of the Motion before your Lordships this day is to take into consideration the propriety of voting your thanks to the army which has fought during the recent military operations in the Punjab. My Lords, I entirely concur in the observations expressed by the noble Marquess in making this Motion, and by my Friend (Lord Stanley) in seconding the Motion made by the noble Marquess. My Lords, it has fallen to my lot to know, and to have to consider, the great difficulties under which this war has been conducted. And, my Lords, I must say, that in no case have I seen stronger instances of good conduct than in carrying on the operations of which it is now proposed to your Lordships to pronounce your approbation. My Lords, this war originated in the dishonour, perfidy, and faithlessness of the servants and officers of the native Government of Lahore. The Governor General being, under the articles of treaty, the guardian of the infant Maharajah of the Punjab, was bound by this treaty to control the acts of his Government, and to give his assistance in carrying on its operations. My Lords, all the servants of the Lahore Government betrayed their trust. As the noble Lord has stated, Dewan Moolraj—the governor of Mooltan, and of the country under the subjection of that fortress—betrayed his trust, and refused to deliver the command to the officers sent to relieve him, and murdered the two gentlemen sent by the British Resident in order to superintend the delivery of the fortress to the officers selected by the Maharajah, under the superintendence of the British Resident, to take the command. This act of treachery and insubordination was followed by the revolt of the whole country in the neighbourhood of Mooltan; and, my Lords, it was followed by degrees, one after another, by the treacherous revolt and insurrection of all parts of that country; by the revolt of no less than three other fortresses, all of which refused to obey the orders of this Government; the troops being in a state of mutiny and insurrection; all of which had to be got the better of at the same moment. And all this, my Lords, occurred at a season of the year during which it was utterly impossible to put in the field any European troops: it was, indeed, scarcely possible to keep the native troops in the field; but the European officers and troops could not take the field at that season of the year. But, my Lords, by the care and attention of the Governor General and the officers of the British Government, and of the Commander-in-Chief and officers of the army, a body of men was by degrees collected, and that force was attended and assisted by a body of artillery, and sent to Mooltan, which place had been previously invested. Another force was sent to the Punjab, to aid and support the garrisoned places of Lahore, and the other places within the Sikh territory under the treaty. My Lords, the siege of Mooltan could not be commenced until the month of September, notwithstanding that the original atrocities of the murder of the two officers mentioned by the noble Marquess occurred on the 19th of April. But the ground was broken on the 7th of September. On the 14th of September, after a good deal of progress had been made in the siege, after a gallant attack made in order to lodge the troops in a certain portion of the town which it was necessary for them to occupy in order to carry on the siege with advantage, it was found necessary to raise the siege and withdraw the army a certain distance until reinforcements could be received, because the Sikh army, under the chief who has been since combating with the Indian army, had revolted and gone over to the enemy. It was the 14th of September when the siege was raised; but the care of the Governor General, and the generals and officers in command of the troops in different portions of the country, had provided measures for bringing troops from all parts to the great undertaking of pacifying the country under these circumstances. A force was sent up from Bombay, and arrived at Mooltan on the 26th of September. On the very next day the city of Mooltan was attacked by General Whish and the troops who had arrived under the command of General Dundas, and these Bombay troops carried some of the works that defended the city, and took possession of parts of that town. I mention these circumstances in order that you may vote to General Dundas your thanks for the part he took in the capture of Mooltan, and to the troops under his command, who were brought into that attack and to that siege after such a march as it is from the Indus to Mooltan in the very worst season of the year, and who arrived in time and in such a state as to be put in line and make the attack on the following morning. I mention these circumstances to the credit of General Dundas, because it is one of the remarkable circumstances of these operations. While this siege was going on, the Governor General and the Commander-in-Chief had formed a force to cover the be-sieging army and keep the country in tranquillity, which was generally in a state of insurrection, and also to observe the movements of those large bodies of troops which were collected on the frontier, and prevent them from disturbing the operations of the siege. The Commander-in-Chief, my Lord Gough, put himself at the head of the covering army, and had to fight those actions to which the noble Marquess has adverted, and which he did with uniform success in each of them, though, no doubt, loss was sustained in some of those actions. But with regard to Mooltan, when it is recollected that this strong place was provided with arms, and that without conditions it surrendered on capitulation when the breaches were opened, and the storming parties were preparing to attack those breaches, and that this place fell into the bands of our army without loss, I think that it may he set down that, on the whole, the service was effected with smaller loss than could have been expected under any circumstances. My Lords, after the siege of Mooltan, the army that had besieged and taken it was put in march, to form part of the army under the command of my Lord Gough, which had been covering the operations of the siege. It made a forced march, and joined Lord Gough's army at the very moment at which the junction became of most importance. It joined on the very day previous to that on which the battle was to be fought, and again, as it has been stated by the noble Marquess, and on the very following morning, the troops were in a state to be able to take their station in line against the enemy, and to take their place in the battle which was fought on the 21st of February. My Lords, I can-not but think that General Whish and the officers of that army are deserving of your Lordships' commendation for these services. My Lords, I have already stated to you the course of the operations carried on with a view to cover the siege and keep the country in a state of tranquillity during that great operation. Several actions were fought, and my noble Friend has adverted to a circumstance which took place in one of these (the retreat of the 14th Dragoons), My Lords, it is impossible to describe to you the variety of circumstances which may occasion mistake or disarrangement during an engagement in the operations of any particular force at any particular moment. An inquiry into these circumstances has been instituted, and I have seen the report of that inquiry. It happens that these cavalry had to conduct their operations over a country much broken by ravines and by rough jungles, which rendered it impossible for the troops to move in their usual regular order. It happened that the officer commanding the brigade of which this corps formed a part, was wounded in the head during the advance, and was obliged to quit the field. The officer next in command being at a distance from the spot, was not aware that his commanding officer was obliged to withdraw from the field. Under these circumstances, the word of command was given by some person not authorised, and of whom no trace can he found; and some confusion took place, which, from the crowd and the circumstances of the moment, could not easily be remedied. But it was removed at last, and all were got in order, and the corps successfully performed its duty, as I and noble Lords around me have seen them perform it on other occasions. My Lords, these things may happen to any troops; but we, whoso fortune it has been to see similar engagements in the field, feel what must be felt by all your Lordships—that the character of a corps must not he taken from them from scraps in the newspapers; but the facts must be sought in the report of the Commander-in-Chief, and in the inquiry made by the proper parties—an inquiry very different from that made by the publishers of newspapers. The order was made, and no one needs to be informed that a movement in retreat is not a movement in advance; but your Lordships must be convinced, as I myself am, that the movement in retreat was one of those accidents which must happen occasionally, and that the corps to which it happened were as worthy of confidence then as they have been since, as they were before, and as I hope they always will be. I entirely concur in the approbation which the noble Marquess has expressed of the conduct of Major Edwardes, and other officers, in the course of those transactions. My Lords, those officers were employed under the Resident at Lahore and his officers in the levying of certain inhabitants of the country, and certain disbanded soldiers of the late Sikh army, in order to aid in the defence of the Rajah's government, and to prevent the tranquillity of the country from being disturbed. I am happy to say that these officers well performed that duty, and they have immortalised themselves by their conduct. It is impossible to speak too highly of Major Edwardes and the other gentlemen who have been engaged in these services. My Lords, I also beg to draw your attention to that corps of Scinde Horse raised under the superintendence of my gallant Friend who has been lately selected by the East India Company to command the army in that country. These corps had been raised not more than a few years: and yet in this great battle, in a conflict with an enemy by no means to be despised, they distinguished themselves highly. My Lords, those are the circumstances under which the officers are placed in that country. They are under the necessity of training the natives to arms, to discipline them in the European mode, contrary to the manners, the customs, and the practices of the natives; and they do this in such a manner as to make them feel such confidence in their officers that they are ready to follow them anywhere, even to the cannon's month, against these Sikh warriors. It is a remarkable circumstance that the Scinde Horse were formed not more than two or three years since, under Sir C. Napier; and I was not aware of it until I saw it in the reports of these actions, that this body of horse could be put in line to meet the formidable cavalry of the Sikhs and Affghans. My Lords, I am certain that this Motion will be agreed to heartily, and that the unanimous vote of this House will be most gratefully felt by the array that has fought these actions, and which I concur with the noble Lord in thinking is highly deserving of your Lordships' approbation.


My Lords, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of giving expression to the feelings of gratification with which I have heard my noble and illustrious Friend who has just resumed his seat vindicate the high reputation of the 14th Regiment of Dragoons, which in the Peninsular war were second to none in the heroic intrepidity with which they conducted themselves—who had invariably discharged their duties both at homo and abroad to the eminent satisfaction of their country and their Sovereign—but to whom, in the late action, some accident unfortunately occurred which prevented their gallantry from being exhibited to as good advantage as on all former occasions. I well remember the character and achievements of the 14th Light Dragoons, and I also preserve a grateful recollection of the name of the gallant officer who led them in the late campaign, and fell gloriously on the field of battle—Colonel Cureton. That distinguished officer entered the Army as a private soldier in the 14th Light Dragoons. I knew him in the Peninsular war as a non-commissioned officer; I watched his progress with the deepest interest, and admired and respected him as one who by his zeal, intelligence, and steadiness, had raised himself to one of the highest staff positions in the Indian army. I pay this tribute to him not only out of regard for his memory, but because I think it is right that the example of Colonel Cureton should be held up to the private soldiers of the British Army as a subject for imitation and encouragement—to show them that, if they will only do their duty, the highest dignities of their profession will be thrown open to them, and they may hope to he eventually advanced to positions of the highest authority. Connected with the 14th Dragoons, there is a name to which I cannot forbear from alluding—that of the gallant officer who died in leading them to the charge—Col. Havelock—whom I remember well in the Peninsular war as an officer adorned with the most remarkable abilities, and one who was destined and qualified for the command of men of the most consummate bravery. I do not recollect to have ever met a man who had higher qualifications for command, or one who knew better how to ingratiate himself with his men in the field of action. My Lords, I need not say how cordially I approve of the vote now under discussion. I think it a very great compliment to the Indian army, but one of which they are well deserving, that there should be so numerous an attendance of Peers on the present occasion, when we have assembled to testify the gratitude we feel towards those men who have so splendidly and so nobly vindicated the honour and maintained the glory of the British arms. Not only have the European forces discharged their duty in the most exemplary manner, but the Native Infantry of the Indian army, the sepoys, have distinguished themselves pre-eminently by their skill and discipline. Most cordially do I concur in the hope expressed by the noble Marquess, that the result of these brilliant engagements may be to prevent the occurrence of future wars in India. I believe that the prestige of our military exploits in that country will do much to realise that desirable object; but I do most earnestly hope and trust that we shall never see a Government in this country which will be disposed to imperil the advantages we have achieved, by reducing our army in India so as to impair the promptitude and efficiency of its operations. If there had not been in readiness so largo a force as was moved to Lord Gough, it is probable that this vexatious war would not have terminated for many years to come. I hope that the war is now over; I trust that we have at length heard the last of it; but however that may be, of this I am confidently persuaded, that the British Army, whenever they are called into the field of battle, will do their duty in the same glorious manner in which they have invariably done it. They care not for forced marches. Give them good officers, in whom they can confide—take care that their discipline is right, and I will have no fears for the British Army, it matters not how powerful or how well organised may be the force that is arrayed against them.


said, that after the very able manner in which the noble Marquess had moved the vote of thanks that evening, which had been seconded with his usual eloquence by his noble Friend near him, and also after hearing the observations made by the noble Duke, who had expressed his approbation of the operations of the army of the Punjab, he felt he was almost taking an unnecessary step in troubling their Lordships; but, at the same time, he was anxious on this occasion to offter his hearty congratulations to his noble Friend Lord Gough, and to his brave companions of the Indian army, for their glorious services in the late campaign—the triumphant issue of which he had never for a moment doubted. The result had been most complete; and Lord Gough had stated in his despatches, with that liberality which always distinguished him when speaking of the services of others, that the artillery were the chief means of obtaining that victory. It was, it appeared, to the skilful employment of that force that they were indebted for this victory; and great as the result had been, with so small a loss of men, he (Viscount Hardinge) felt that that arm of the service was most admirably conducted on that occasion. This argued most admirable conduct on the part of the artillery; and it would appear, by most of the accounts received, that so effectually had this arm of the service been employed, that the Sikh artillery, though managed as usual with great bravery, was, notwithstanding all their efforts, perfectly silenced; so that it was not necessary for the British infantry to fire in line, with the exception of two regiments of Europeans and four regiments of Native Infantry. With the exception of those regiments, not a regiment of their infantry fired a musket shot, so considerable was the service rendered by the Indian artillery. That force was certainly a most splendid one, and second, he would say, to none; and it had been mainly instrumental in obtaining for Lord Gough one of his best and most splendid triumphs. The statement made by his Lordship, in his despatch, was that the heavy artillery—eighteen-pounders—were actually ma- nœuvred and handled with the facility of field guns. He (Viscount Hardinge) had seen, the same thing done with those eighteen-pounders during the campaign of the Sutlej. Two elephants were harnessed to each eighteen-pounder, and they carried the guns with the greatest facility over every sort of ground without any assistance, and without causing any delay or impediment to the infantry. That practice was first resorted to in the campaign of 1846, when the heavy guns were brought up from Delhi, a distance of 300 miles, and were carried on every occasion without any trouble; and he believed that had never before been seen in India. The able officer who commanded the artillery in the late battle had been mentioned—he referred to Brigadier General Tennant, who had been so much praised by Lord Gough: and he (Viscount Hardinge) wished to say that he had the honour of knowing him, and he was ably seconded by another excellent officer. Seeing the great importance of artillery in modern warfare, and seeing, also, that its value had been so signally manifested in India, he would remind their Lordships at the same time that a Committee was sitting elsewhere to investigate the state of the Ordnance Department; and he trusted that their Lordships would not allow that valuable arm of the service, which took so much time to create, and which, when created, was so valuable, to be reduced below a scale of proper strength and efficiency. In Bengal alone the regular army had 200 pieces of artillery ready to be moved, comprising 120 nine pounders and the remainder three and six-pounders, and that was exclusive of all the artillery that belonged to local and irregular corps. Besides that, there was during this campaign more than 100 pieces of heavy artillery, of eighteen and twenty-four pounders actually on the Sutlej, with 1,000 rounds of ammunition per gun. They were all complete and ready for action, and all that was required was the actual necessity for their movement. That was a state of readiness that was very much to be admired; and he hoped they would never consent to cripple that noble arm of their service. The advice of his noble Friend the Master General of the Ordnance was entitled to much respect, from his great experience and military ability, and the Government should consult him, and take care that that invaluable arm was not interfered with. He (Viscount Hardinge) also agreed in what had been said by the noble Marquess with regard to Major Edwardes. He had been in communication with him while in India, and had found him to be a most sensible, intelligent, and clever young man. His services, which had been referred to by the noble Marquess and by the noble Duke, were most important. He had been, during the period referred to, in the command of 10,000 or 11,000 irregular men, who by Ids ability were kept together; and in a letter which he (Viscount Hardinge) had received from him, he stated he was most anxious that the comrades who participated with him in his services should also be associated with him in his praise, particularly Lieutenant Lake and Lieutenant Pollard, late a student in the King's College, and Lieutenant Nicholson and other officers who had distinguished themselves. He could say there was no service in the world possessed of officers more able and active than the young men who had been sent out by the East India Company. With regard to what had been said by his noble Friend near him with respect to the 14th Dragoons, he (Viscount Hardinge) must say, that he had great pleasure in hearing the noble Duke's just vindication of that gallant corps. His noble Friend and he (Viscount Hardinge) had seen that corps engaged on several occasions in the Peninsula, where they ever held the highest reputation for courage; but he must say, that on this occasion they were placed in difficult circumstances. These had already been sufficiently explained, and he was sure there was nothing to hurt the reputation of that corps when that explanation was known. His noble friend. Lord Gough, on the occasion on which he had distinguished the different officers that were acting under him, had stated that the corps under the command of Major General Gilbert had been ordered to cross the Jhelum, to watch and impede the operations of the remainder of the Sikh army; and he must say he was happy to hear that, for he was a most able and efficient officer, and from the cool judgment and great intrepidity he had shown on various occasions, he was convinced that under his management nothing would be omitted by which that operation could be properly and successfully conducted. They had also heard what the noble Marquess had stated with respect to the extraordinary circumstance, that there should be a conjunction between the Affghans and Sikhs on this occasion. It was, as the noble Lord had said, one of the most ex- traordinary circumstances of that insurrection. The Sikhs and Affghans were not only of different religions, but they were rival races; they had also for centuries entertained an inveterate hatred towards each other. It would be of the greatest interest to see the result, and he had no doubt that Major General Gilbert would drive the Affghans from Peshawur, beyond the Kyber Pass. He had no doubt that the late victories of Lord Gough had put an end to and broken the neck of this insurrection. As to the conduct of Lord Gough, he (Viscount Hardinge) would not trouble their Lordships with any observations. He felt, after the observations made by the noble Duke, whose opinion on military affairs was of such great importance, that it was unnecessary for him to do so, and, therefore, he should only say that during a long military life, commencing in the Peninsula, where he commanded the 87th Regiment, Lord Gough had eminently distinguished himself. This was the fourth time that Lord Gough had received the thanks of Parliament for his distinguished services as a general officer commanding Her Majesty's Army and commanding the troops in the field; and when he returned home, and took his seat in that House, he would have the satisfaction of feeling that he had by this, his last and most brilliant victory, rendered great and invaluable service to his Sovereign and to his country.


begged to express the entire gratification with which he had witnessed the unanimity of their Lordships' House on this occasion. He had likewise to assure their Lordships of the great interest with which he had followed all the movements made by the different bodies employed during this campaign. It had not been a campaign of ordinary duration and severity—it had not been a campaign consisting of marches, ending in successful battles—it had been a campaign extending over nine months, during which a large portion of the army was for six or seven months in the daily presence of the enemy, and frequently under fire. In the course of this campaign the troops had experienced almost every variety of military service. A great siege had been carried on with complete success; it had been necessary to protect convoys, and to do the duty of outposts in the presence of the enemy, and all this had to be done in addition to the more important services which had been performed in several fields of battle. During this cam- paign the troops had acquired all the instruction that was necessary to qualify them on future occasions for all the great operations of war. It was to him most satisfactory that success, so brilliant and complete as that which had been achieved on the field of Goojerat, should come to gild the last concluding services of his friend. Lord Gough. He had the gratification of being acquainted with that noble Lord; and though it was not for him to say anything with respect to the ability he had manifested in the conduct of campaigns, and upon the field of battle, he might express his admiration of many of those high military qualities which even a civilian could appreciate. He admired him for that courage which on all occasions had made him the first soldier in the Army; and above all, for that quality which he (the Earl of Ellenborough) had often and often seen him display, namely, his attention to the sick and wounded in the hospital, and the constant care and attention which he had at all times paid to the comfort and health of his troops. It was most just to associate with Lord Gough, the Commander-in-Chief, the Earl of Dalhousie, the Governor General. It was for the Commander-in-Chief to direct the operations of the army in the presence of the enemy, but it was for the Governor General to prepare, from all parts of the empire, the means by which victory was to be achieved. It was his duty to concentrate their military force, and to provide the army in the field with all the munitions of war; and it was impossible not to see that that duty of the Governor General had been most perfectly performed. His noble Friend who seconded the Motion, as well as other noble Lords, had expressed a hope that this might be the last occasion on which they would have to thank their generals, and officers, and soldiers for great victories in the field. He the (Earl of Ellenborough) entertained the same anxious wish. He would say nothing of the past. He would not inquire how far, under the last treaty of Lahore, it might have been possible for them to prevent the growing up of a numerous, well-appointed, well-disciplined, well-provided army of Sikhs, capable of contending with us upon the fields of the Punjab, in doubtful contest, and without ignominious defeat. But he would say with confidence, that after the experience they had, it would be the most utter and shameless fatuity to place trust hereafter in Sikh troops or in Sikh chiefs; and he trusted the Government would never again permit the consolidation of hostile strength to an extent capable of contending with us. Let those who had lost relatives in those engagements have at least this consolation, that the blood of their relatives had not been shed in vain—that they had fallen not only for their own and their country's glory, but for the consolidation and stability of our empire in India. Our position in India was by this victory altogether changed. We had for many years been undoubtedly the predominant Power in Hindostan; but we had had a very numerous and powerful enemy, with a numerous and well-served artillery, capable of contending with us. That enemy's army was now no more—we now stood in India, in all the countries watered by the tributary streams of the Indus and the Ganges, the sole military power capable of controlling all things by our own single strength. We had grave responsibilities attached to us in consequence of our power—responsibilities not without dangers, different in character, perhaps, but nevertheless quite as great as those which had attended us in our long progress towards this pre-eminent position. But let us not add to those dangers by blindly permitting the reconstruction of the army we have had twice to subdue—let us not, by pusillanimity in our counsels, deprive ourselves of the result of our victories in the field—let us not again have to contend for that dominion which we had twice won—and in that contest let us not again risk, as we had done, our present position and empire in India.


explained that the reason why the name of Brigadier General Dundas, who had held the command of a brigade at the siege of Moultan, had not been specifically included in the vote of thanks, was because that gallant officer held the rank of a colonel, and it was contrary to the usual practice to mention the name of a party who was only a colonel in votes of this character. On that ground only, and from no disrespect whatever towards the gallant officer, the omission had taken place.

After a remark from the DUKE of WELLINGTON, which was not heard,

Resolved in the affirmative, nemine dissentiente.

House adjourned to Thursday next.

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