Media Illustrations

Check out the Media for illustrations about John Nicholson. I am uploading them slowly but I hope you will enjoy them all! Check out the Victorian blogs of John Nicholson of India, John Nicholson Political Officer, and John Nicholson and the Great Mutiny!

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blog 324: dar ul harb means war on us. they started it! we will finish it

July 11th
The Savior of Delhi, Brigadier General Bakht Khan, side by side his hoity-toity holy man, spent the day in Delhi in a big Wahhabi powwow. There are continuous cries of ‘Deen! Deen!’ and also ‘Islam ka bolbala’ ie ‘Islam Triumphant!’ The upshoot is that the Wahhabists order Emperor [?] Zafar to appoint Brigadier General Bakht Khan Commander in Chief instead of Prince Mirza Mughal. All Muslims are ordered to report for Jihad Duty to Maulvis Sarfaraz Ali. Every mullah and cleric and imam and hoity-toity holy man falls into line behind the incarnation of Muslim Victory despite the fact their authority to wage war is based on a rigid command structure and we have the jawbone of their big turban Mr Yak Head.

The radical Wahhabi Ulema of Delhi, the oldest bastion of Wahhabism in India was founded by the importer of Wahhabism into India: Shah Waliullah. It is now run by Maulana Sayyid Nazir Hussain of Delhi. This day Maulana Sayyid Nazir Hussain of Delhi affixed his stamp to a fatwa and declaration of Holy War calling for armed Jihad for all Muslims to violently attack and overthrow the status quo and forcibly return India to Dar ul Islam. In all 37 ulema hoity-toity mullahs declared Armed Jihad to make religious War on Great Britain, India, and anyone who defied Wahhabism’s stated goal of rendering India into a model Wahhabi Dar ul Islam.

Wahhabi Dar ul Islam utopia is a Muslim Arabic dictator boasting an Arabic Wahhabi pedigree (no Mughals allowed), Shaira Law as defined by Wahhabists (including stoning to death, amputation, beheading, flogging, flaying, torture, and other forms of diverse ways to die painfully), a Muslim Army of Ghazi Jihadists who could attack anyone who defied Wahhabism, Nawabs only – (no Hindu Rajahs) – as long as they enforced Wahhabism as commanded by the Ulema, the dictatorial command structure of Vice Regents of Allah who were the Wahhabists, Jizya and Pilgrim Taxes, slavery, second class sub human existence for anyone who refuses to convert to Wahhabism, death for any Muslim who is not a Wahhabi (which meant they were heretics), the imposing of the Arabic language only, and the total eradication of anything Wahhabism declared evil: chess, music, art, singing, dancing, Indian religions and temples and languages or history or culture, women, dogs, anything Western, any and all technology and science and world knowledge, and even the teaching that the earth is round and that the earth orbits the sun! To create their brave new utopia of Dar ul Islam Wahhabists were given religious card blanche to torture, rape, enslave, and kill absolutely anyone. Oh yes! Also, world conquest to create a world caliphate! And forget about democracy, human rights, freedom of religion, or mixed sex society! Women were to be locked away! But sodomizing babies and animals was ok! And Baccha dancing boys are the cat’s meow! Besides the head of the Delhi branch of Wahhabists there were signers from Patna, Bareilly, and Tonk. However, the Wahhabists again insisted that Delhi was too defiled by Indian influences and the heresy of the weak Mughals and weaker Sufi in general and Akbar the Great in particular so a new holy capital had to be situated in Sitana.

The wags in Delhi ask ‘So when are you sister fuckers actually going to attack the fucking kafirs on the fucking ridge?’ Other Hindu, scared, worry about the escalating fanaticism. ‘Islam ka bolbala’ is the traditional cry of Jihad — just before Hindu blood is spilt. Still other Hindu stole copies of the fatwa and read it and realized for the first time what Wahhabism really meant and what the future of India was really going to be!

Last telegraphic chatter of the day. The Wahhabi Powwow is finishing apparently — climaxed by a big parade of howling ghazi holy warriors holding spears impaling human heads. As the parade marches passed the Shadow of Allah on Earth, Emperor Zafar hands each murderer is handed five rupees. By now apparently the ‘gentle Sufi’ has become harden to the sight apparently. He does not even flinch at the sight of severed heads crawling with maggots of men and women and children. So much for being a ‘gentle Sufi’! Or else he is drugged on so much opium and hashish mixed with his hootch tobacco he does not know up from down. One or the other.
There have been complaints why the vast majority of the martial law trials of agent provocateurs, co-conspirators, sedation to rebellion or violent crimes with special circumstances, accessories after the fact to violent crimes or treason, and civilian crimes with special circumstances are Muslims. I say if the religion is causing it to happen then that is that! I am not tempting them into murdering people! Wahhabism is a Terror Sect. But there it is! Muslims have embraced a Sect of Terror! I am not entrapping fine young boys and men and even women into blowing up police stations or governmental buildings or schools or hospitals or military bazaars! Now the fanatics are blowing up irrigation canals! Any infrastructure designed or built with Westerners or Western inventions or Western money! Do the crime? Pay the price!


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blog 373: editor’s note

Editor’s Note:
John Nicholson was wounded  in the first hours of the Battle of Delhi. He was cut off from his men but discovering that the Corp of Guides, Henry’s Boys, were pinned down in the killing zone, tried to reach the Lahore Gate to blow it. To reach the Lahore Gate he had to pass through the Burn Bastion by way of a narrow street that lined one city wall. He commandeered a company of men, not Henry’s Boys, and tried to lead them into the blistering fire. They balked. For some obscure reason he spun around, either hearing a voice outside or inside his head, and thus a bullet shot from behind instead pierced him from the side, through his armpit. Doctors later said if he had not spun around he might have survived. The bullet tore though his lungs delivering a mortal wound. Freddy Roberts found Nicholson abandoned, bleeding, and slipping into shock.

Later, people asked Hay, who was there when Nicholson was shot, what happened. Hay was confused as to the details and said he did not know what Nicholson meant when Nicholson said : “I will make up my difference with you Hay. I will let you take me back.” There is no record of Nicholson having a run-in with Hay prior to this .

It took the John Nicholson nine days to die. He lingered in great pain, heavily sedated by morphine. He barely realized when his brother Charles Nicholson was carried in, his arm shot off. He did managed to show some of his badgering temper when told Wilson wanted to retreat. He swore he would shot Wilson if he did. Toward the end he said “Tell Edwardes that if at this moment a good fairy were to grant me a wish, my wish would be to be sleeping next to my love Edwardes.” When this was telegraphed to Mr and Mrs Edwardes then Edwardes hastily insisted Nicholson misspoke because of the morphine and meant “If at this moment a good fairy were to grant me a wish, my wish would be to have Edwardes here next to my mother.” Historians promptly corrected their accounts hastily.

In another rare moment of semi lucidness between shots of morphine Nicholson said “Tell my mother I do not think she will be too unhappy in the next world where she is going and tell her that she must not try to give way to too much grief when my will is read out.” Historians later edited this as well.

On September 20 Muhammad Hayat Khan held Nicholson in his arms and whispered to the dying man that the city was finally and at last taken. Nicholson nodded. “My desire was that Delhi should be taken before I die.”

Muhammad Hayat Khan then ordered everyone else out of the tent except the immediate family — which did not include the badly wounded Charles Nicholson. He held John Nicholson in his arms until he died early on September 23. John Nicholson was buried in September 24th at sunrise. He was 34 years old.

John Nicholson’s mother, discovering her son left her no funds, and unwilling to accept charity from her estranged kindred the Hoggs, petitioned the British Government for a pension of a mother of a war hero. She sued and got some of his papers and journals and spoke of a profitable book to inspire little boys to follow in the footsteps of her son — having sent her badly wounded last son Charles back to India to die of his wounds before he could score lootmaar — the dream of a great looting that would have restored the Nicholson Fortune to her at last.

But the editor assigned to study the pile of paperwork promptly had an ‘accidental’ fire and claimed everything John Nicholson ever wrote burned to ash and cinder. A century later some of the debris was found locked away in a forgotten vault and has now been posted for posterity to read at last. Other missing journals have yet to be located or decoded. None of his personal possessions, tunics, shoulder and waist belts with silver prick and boss and embroidered pouch, lieutenant or captain pins, few metals, expensive pin rifles and revolvers, ensigns, famous tiger or lion skin poshteens, famous swords, regency gear, or even his silver toiletry kit has ever surfaced. Nor has his art collection.

Today, Nicholson’s grave lays in a derelict graveyard littered with weeds, trash, used condoms, and drug paraphernalia. There has been some talk of restoring the defaced grave but that was met with great hostility by Indians who considered John Nicholson to be the ‘Butcher of Delhi’.

J E F Rose

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blog 372: perhaps my last words

September 14th
3:00 AM

No response from Delhi.

I dress and drink some hot chai and then pack my ammo and water and emergency rations. I embrace my Indian Family. “Brothers! If the Military Police do not contact the persons we promised Bill Sikes to save then I hope and pray that you can and will contact them and save them from carnage. We gave Bill Sikes our word.” They nodded. Then I smiled at everyone as I picked up my tulwar sword and slipped it into the leather sheath. I checked my Adams revolver and then draped the lanyard cord around my neck and placed the revolver in it’s holster. I picked up my pin rifle. Then I smoothed my wild hair down with a sweaty hand and put on my forage cap. Brother # 2 and Khan Son # 1 prepare likewise. Then I saluted my Indian Family. Then Khan Son # 1 picked up the green banner and we left my family’s hill tent. Freddy Roberts is outside with the Commander of Wah! In Exile Plus. My Pathans line up and cry out a savage cry. They salute me. I salute them. I did not know what to say so I tried to make a joke.

“If any of you dare to try to hold a traditional Irish wake outside my tent I will take my pistol and shoot you all!” I try to laugh because the joke falls flat. “I have always been honored to be considered by you, such fine men, to be your Warlord!” At that poor Freddy Roberts bursts into utter tears!

I send a runner to Hobson. “Last night I remembered something Hogg # 2 said. ‘Don’t let Henry’s Boys be stranded in Kashmiri’. I never understand why he said that. He said it was his Hogg Second Sight. Hobson! I know a lot of Henry’s Boys today will be queuing up before Kashmiri and Lahore Gates under Grant to gallop through the gates when they are blown. For God’s sake do not let the cavalry and Henry’s Boys be stranded in the killing zone! One or the other of us must get to the gates and blow them! For Henry’s Sake. Whom we both love.”
I checked for any last telegraphs. Still, no response from Delhi. I telegraph the Royal Princes of India that Delhi will be destroyed. I scribble this on a notepad in the office. The telegraphic operator watches me. I pause. Then I decide to write one last thing:

“Tell Edwardes that if at this moment a good fairy were to grant me a wish, my wish would be to be sleeping next to my love Edwardes. J Nicholson. PS. If anyone wonders who gave me my umbrella engraved ‘Nicholson From Nicholson’ it was my sister Mary. And I love her very much.”

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blog 371: hawa khana the magical moment of twilight

It was twilight. People in Delhi called it the magic hour. Hawa Khana. The ‘Breathing of the Air’ when hot Delhi suddenly turned cool. Once, old Sir Ochterlony would ride out on his elephant with a parade of 13 elephants carrying his 13 wives to view the Hawa Khana. But now only his ghost parades through Delhi. I helped carry Chamberlain to the roof of the high point of the Ridge, the Hindu Rao’s House, where I set him up to watch the battle and take command if need be. Daly, his useless arm in a sling was there along with Risaidar Khan Singh Rosa of the Corp of Guides. Then we shook hands. Daly laughed and Khan Singh Rosa suddenly produced that empty peaches tin on a boot knife. He gave it to Daly and Daly mischievously raddled it one last time. I glowered most fiercely and then hugged everyone.

“Come back my fantastical Irish Giant!” Chamberlain said. “How many people actually know a fantastical Irish Giant? No one will believe me when I am 90 when I tell them that one of my best friends in India was a fantastical Irish Giant!”

Risaidar Khan Singh Rosa and I bowed formally to each other. “Let Shiva stay by your side Sahib. “You lived here as Shiva’s avatar.”

“Then if I fall on the battlefield Kali must come and dance on my chest as she did Shiva!” I replied. “Or else simply come and stay by me as she does everyone who falls in violent battle.”

Then I went and shook hands one last time with Baird-Smith and Taylor and the rest of the engineers. Plucky engineers had slithered right up and confirmed the two breaches were viable. Then we discussed how engineers planned to blow the Kashmiri Gate which was crucial but terribly dangerous for the engineers. In effect it was the most dangerous forlorn hope of all! Then I returned to the telegraphic office one last time.

I telegraph Gwalior and all of the Princes of India that the Emperor of Delhi has declined to negociate any surrender to save Delhi. I telegraph that I am bound to by the Ancient Laws of War to protect Delhi if it lawfully surrendered before the guns fall silent signaling the start of the forlorn hope. But if no offer of surrender came before the guns went silent then Delhi would be destroyed.

I went to my tent. I had done everything humanely possible. Now I sat with my Indian Family. Father has tomorrow’s outfit. It is the khaki tunic and trousers cut Western style and the Western Forage Cap.

“I know you do not like the outfit but Hobson says even Probyn is wearing Western tomorrow. So the sillier soldiers won’t mistake men of the Corp of Guides of being the enemy and shoot them by accident….”

“The rebels wear old red tunics or else only dhoti and white caps” I said. Father flinched. “No” I said. “Let it be. I will wear it. After all, I would look damn foolish being shot in the back because sillier soldiers did not know who I was.” Of course everyone in the tent knew what Hobson had really said. “Sillier ie greedy soldiers eager to loot would shoot me in the back to make sure I did not vigorously police them and install military law quickly and aggressively. Looters wanted and needed anarchy to steal. I had put a target on my back and everyone knew it. “Let us talk about something else” I said. “Brother # 2! Why not play your organ?”

So Brother # 2 played his hand organ as we drank tea and said nothing about tomorrow. Later, I did some last mediation and prayed to Shiva the Destroyer. Then I contacted the telegraphic office one last time. Bill Sikes still has not contacted me. Nor has anyone else representing the Rebels.

I telegraph the Royal Princes of India that Delhi will be destroyed. I send three special telegraphic messages to three special Royals. Then the Nizam telegraphed back and offered to negociate in person if the Rebels suspend all warfare, including the siege of Gwalior, and offer a ‘good faith gesture’ for us to suspend the Battle. I explain that ‘good faith gesture’ had better be fucking good. We send the offer into the city by a very brave liaison, a Sufi priest.

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blog 370: no word from anyone

September 13th

Church services on the Ridge for the devout. Ditto Sikh services. Ditto Hindu services. Ditto Sufi services. I attend a Sikh service and a tiny Shiva Lingayat Service. Freddy says the Christian services are all kirk doom and gloom. 50% of the British just got drunk. Everyone tidies up their doomsday outfits and clean their guns. Everyone must carry 200 rounds of ammo as well as at least 48 hours worth of water and emergency rations. Hobson’s last spy to escape says Bakht Khan is going to command the Kabul Gate. Prince Mirza Mughal again sent town criers to draft every male in the city to join the defenses — but only Muslims are appearing. The Hindus are voting with their feet. Monitors report that the Bridge of Boats and other Gates see over 10,000 more sepoys and civilians fleeing despite attempts by gate guards to either stop them or loot them. For once the mobs all but trample the bullies in their terror of fleeing the doomed city. Now even their fear of dacoits pale to fear of us.

Our guns continue to blast the city, ‘softening up’ routes and targets, widening mazes into possibly wider corridors for us to invade through. There are more and more explosions and fires erupting throughout the city. Freddy slips in after one of my contentious briefings of officers to report that a man I told him to watch, a suspicious digger, died of the cholera. I asked Freddy to pass the man’s whore a hundred rupees I gathered up when Mother was not looking. I shoved the money into Freddy’s pocket. “Don’t talk to anyone about it. I don’t want Mother to know. And another servant of mine died. Sadat Khan. He also has a wife up country. He had a falling out with the Commander of Wah! In Exile Plus over a dancing boy but…..” I shoved another 200 rupees in Freddy’s pockets. “And here is a letter to Hogg # 2 in Calcutta for you. Hogg # 2 will be a good contact for you Freddy. Ditto a letter here to Hogg # 1 London at India House. It does not hurt a soldier to know people at India House. Nothing wrong with that! I wrote to my Hogg Uncles so they know your name.” Freddy stuffed the letters into his now stuffed pocket and shuffled. “No emotions!” I said gruffly. “You know what a badger of a man I am! Final briefing! Come on! Detour by telegraph office!”
I get telegraphic messages from the Princes of Rajasthan. I have been keeping them all abreast of the operation. ‘Has the siege on Gwalior been lifted? I telegraph back no. Scindia is in deadly danger and facing thousands of mutineers from all sides. Jhansi has utterly betrayed him and is allowing rebels, Muslims, to attack Scindia using Jhansi as a launching pad. Scindia keeps a brave front. My Shining Prince! But his last telegraphic message referred to the Russian Gambit. That was the chess ploy he was holding up his sleeve. A chess ‘sacrifice’ means luring the opponent into taking the bait of a key piece that would lead to fatal check mate. But to work the ‘sacrifice’ must be a big. Very big. In this case the sacrifice would be Gwalior Fort. Hence the name: Russian Gambit. As in the Russian sacrifice of Moscow to defeat Napoleon and save Russia at the cost of it’s capital.

I told them I telegraphed Scindia when I first got the letter from Zafar offering to surrender to the Princes of Rajasthan if if if. But since then Zafar has not done a tinker’s damn as far as Scindia’s peril. Nor has he offered any sort of real gesture of surrender. Nor contacted me directly or indirectly. Prince Mirza Mughal and Bakht Khan have proceeded with their preparations to turn Delhi into the ultimate battlefield which will destroy Delhi utterly.

Then one by one the Rajput Princes telegraph back. “If the Mughal Emperor of the Rebels is sincere he must order the siege of Gwalior off and encourage the poor citizens of Delhi to flee. Only then can we believe he is sincere. Then we can offer to be telegraphic liaisons and negotiators for his formal surrender to save Delhi. But if his offer to us, the Royal Princes of India, is sincere he must stop the siege of Gwalior to prove his sincerity.”

Mewar telegraphed to offer to ride post haste if the siege can be suspended by all sides to personally negociate the surrender of the Emperor Zafar to deliver Delhi to the Loyalist Cause —- but only if the siege of Gwalior is called off and all civilians were allowed to flee Delhi now. All civilians. And Emperor Zafar must deliver two royal hostages to prove his sincerity: Mirza Mughal and his youngest son by the Red Queen.

I deliver the message to Hobson’s final spy to deliver to his agent inside the Red Fort. The spy said he would also try to find out what happened to Bill Sikes and Ghalib the Poet. If Sikes had been among the hordes desperately fleeing during the night he surely would have contacted me on the Ridge. We owed him safe passage. Why hasn’t he come to the Ridge with his loot to reap his reward: safe passage to Calcutta and home? And Sikes said he told Ghalib to contact me because I was his biggest fan. And right now having a major quasi general of the Loyalists as his biggest fan counted for something — if the aging poet could just escape from a doom city already on fire.

Final Briefing of the officers in Wilson’s tent. Four columns through the breaches with a fifth column in reserve. The first two columns would attack the Kashmiri Bastion breach and the Water Bastion breach. The third column would attack the Kashmiri Gate which was to be blown by engineers. The fourth column would try to take the Kabul Gate by blowing it. Mostly it was a diversion to tie down Bakht Khan. Each column would be between 500 and a thousand men. We were facing 30,000 trained sepoys and 30,000 raving Muslim fanatics. Each column leader would carry a different color flag. I would lead Column # 1. My banner would be green. Khan Son # 1 would carry it. Among my column would be Wah! In Exile Plus and Brother # 2 who was my aide de camp.

I led the briefing as I run down the agenda, standing as I always did with one foot on a chair as I use my black ruler to point out each key position on the map. Son # 1 long ago told me, when speaking in public, because I tended to stutter being shy, to speak abnormally slow. I did so now. But it actually worked. I don’t know why. But it kept me sounding calm and not like some god damn berserker which I come off sounding like! I use my agenda so I did not get flustered and swear at all. Then I looked at Wilson. That was his cue.

Wilson then said “For the sake of humanity and the honor of our country women and children are not to be hurt” and I nod curtly.

“After three days we should be in control and my Military Police will commence law and order. Here are the targets for immediate law and order. Anyone caught looting without permission or attacking women and children will personally get their fingers broken by me. Pro rata official looting will be pooled into a supervised fund to be ladled out in three months. So no one can fucking whine about not being allowed to fucking loot!” I took a deep breath and slowed down my breathing. Then I finished the briefing. “Remember! Each man is to carry 200 rounds of ammo and 48 hours worth of water and emergency rations! Leave the wounded! No prisoners! No looting! Follow the plan! Aim for the footholds we have marked! Get to the footholds and then consolidate your positions Sirs!”
After the final briefing I checked the telegraphs. Bill Sikes has not appeared. Nor has any official representative from the Red Fort. But Hobson produces the final edition of the Muslim rag.

“Although the kafirs are advancing toward us and dig a new front almost every night. The important thing is to admire the spirit and bravery of our victorious army! If Allah has placed us in this situation then there is some divine design in it. We should pray to Allah for forgiveness and enlightenment and we should make it a point to refrain from committing any excesses on our fellow human beings or exploiting or injuring them in any way. It is said the people of the city are in dire straits. It is time to provide succor and pray. Remember that when the time is right Allah will instantaneously bring us miraculous victory!”

“Bullshit!” I howled! He is suppose to be telling the people the situation is hopeless and they must flee tonight!” I all but tore it to ribbons.

Hobson snorted. “A little late to advise the zealots to stop terror tactics and atrocities!”

“And not one fucking word about the fact that if the city does not surrender before the guns fall silent then we can and will sack the city! Fuck it! Fuck it! Even now god damn it! If they would just send a god damn agent out to offer to negociate surrender we can hold off the battle! The Royal Princes have offered to mediate!”

“Yes. Well. This saves them an useless trip then!” Hobson said waving the trash. “I will consider this as not earning Baqar any gold stars toward eluding a hanging!”

“Are the gates open allowing people to flee?” I asked.

“People are fleeing but a lot are being harassed by rebel guards looting them and some gates are being closed to stop people fleeing. The rebels are hemorrhaging sepoys! Raving fanatics are one thing but trained soldiers fighting with their backs against the wall is another! The rebel leaders are trying to stop the trained soldiers from deserting to force them to fight to the death!”

“Damn!” I shouted.

“Tomorrow the citizens of Delhi will be in ‘dire straits’ indeed! Human shields! Caught right in the middle of a damnable battle to the death in the middle of the city of Delhi! It will be a deliberate blood bath!” Hobson pulled off his sun goggles and rubbed his baby blue eyes.

“Migraine?” I asked. Hobson nodded and put his sun goggles back on. “Well for once it is not me causing your stress headache Hobson!” I added. He snorted.

“Who wants to go down in history as the ‘Butcher of Delhi’?” he said. “But the rebels are leaving us no choice!” We looked at each other for a moment. Then like silly prats we formally shook hands.

“Oh fuck this!” I snarled and then I hugged the smaller man in my bony arms. “Remember back in Calcutta! So long ago! You were this brash, dashing, young cavalryman and I was this red neck greenhorn of a griffin! Remember!”

“I sold you my lease on a falling down bungalow!” Hobson laughed.

“And you told me on the 6 month ride up the Great Trunk Road to sleep with my god damn horse in my tent!”

“I still do when I have expensive polo ponies!” Hobson replied laughing. “Oh John! How did we come to this mess?”

“I don’t know. But you know I will always be your biggest fan Hobson!” I replied.

“Thanks!” Hobson said. “I seem to always somehow mess things up. I don’t know… people…. lose their respect for me. And my wife…..well….. one last love letter tonight in my tent eh!”

“Yes” I said. “You are the only man in all of India who writes love letters every single day to his wife! And actually is faithful to her!”

“And you should write to Edwardes John. I know his wife is back and being very ….memsahiby but….. you would regret not writing Edwardes ……now…..”

We hugged. Then Hobson swaggered off like the clown prince he was. I waved. But I did not write to Edwardes. His last letter to be dropped with religious hypocrisy. ‘We will pray for your soul John.’ That sort of kirk crap. And Edwardes was not even a kirk boy! I went and cooked Rose Delight with my Indian Sister and Mother instead. Then Mother surprised me with Bombay Fizzers!

“I had my first Bombay Fizzer with sailing to India age 16!” I said. I studied the seltzer water with the ball of sherbet bobbing as it melted into bubbly mess of delight. “I thought it was the cat’s meow! Still do!”

Bill Sikes has not contacted me. Hobson’s spy has not come back from Delhi.

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blog 369: no surrender — god help us!

September 12th
The guns of the batteries have formally commenced full volume assault on the city of Delhi. I set up a continuous delivery of munitions as the artillery commanders time their volleys for maximum destruction. The railroad tracks created a wonderful trolley! One officer explained it as a musical pitching fork. The vibration has to be just right to create a great cascading roll along the entire length of the walls from the Water Bastion to the Mori Bastion. I guess that bible story of the trumpet bring down Jericho was not that nutty after all.

By midday we could see the walls trembling as dust filled the air like a blackening cloud. The rebel artillery crumbled with the volleys. By mid afternoon we could see breaches developing both by the Water Bastion and by Kashmiri Bastion. However, the rebels brought out infantry to keep up a continuous fire on our position. Two parts of two of our batteries actually caught fire from rebel firing. By evening our casualties reached 400. 60 guns firing continuously consumed over 30,000 rounds nonstop every two hours. As the walls started to shudder as if quivering silk the very ground started to heave as if a continuous rolling earthquake. I make it a point to shake the hand of every engineer and artillery officer. “I must shake hands with you fellows. You have done your best to make my work easy….” I left unsaid what that would be entail.

This evening Hobson and I reported to Chamberlain in his tent. “The tenacity of the rebels is disturbing” I said. “I got telegraph reports at even as far as away as Meerut people could hear the artillery fire and feel the ground shaking.

“If the rebels are fighting this hard now then wait until we get inside the walls” Hobson said “They are laying ambushes in the mazes and moving cannon from the other side of the walls to aim at us. We I have been studying the maps of the city. If we attack through the breaches which are developing we will hit god damn mazes that could become killers. Chokeholds. Chandni Chauk by the Kabul Gate could be a good target to attack and then consolidate. A foothold. Also the Skinner Church which is by the Water Bastion breach that is developing. The Jama Masjid Mosque is on the other side of the city but would facilitate the attack on the Red Fort. But the maze of streets is ghastly. If the rebels use each townhouse to shoot at us, using civilians as shields, it will be ghastly. It could turn into a blood bath.”

Chamberlain studied the city maps. “Delhi was always this semi ruin place of mazes instead of broad boulevards. The only way to fight our way to the Red Fort is going to be by bashing our way straight through from room through room. And floor through floor and house through house and block by block. Basically we have to bash our way through and establish footholds. Consolidation points. Then we will simply have to bludgeon our way through as if clearing out an infestation. Systematically flatten the city room by room and house by house and block by block. Literally bulldoze our way through and flatten the city. Create small battering rams that squads of men can carry to bash holes in each adobe wall, duck back for the fanatics to instinctively fire, blindly rake the interiors with return fire, pause, rake the interior with fire, then rush in firing away at anything and everything, take the room, then move on to the next and the next and the next. Civilians? Human shields? We cannot try to save them! As it is — the process will take weeks! And leave the city flattened!”

“And Delhi has been burning all of this time anyway” Hobson said. “Our shelling is starting yet more fires. The battle to come will start more fires. Delhi is like tinder! Delhi will be on fire before we can half way flatten it to the ground! What scares me is the civilians will probably try to ride out the shelling by cowering in their deep cool rooms! But when the fires really get going Delhi will erupt into a fiery holocaust and people cowering in cool rooms will —well— suffocate! Or burn alive!”

“But we could start targeting key parts of the city now with our artillery” I said. “The Red Fort. The mosques are all loaded to the gills with gunpowder. I could try to shell routes through the city, flattening routes through the city. And I will commence rehearsals with the forlorn hope columns. Siege ladders. Memorizing maps in their heads. If they can recite map directions with their eyes closed then maybe they will not get disorientated. I could have teams testing each other. One holding a compass and shouting out directions and the other forced to instantly recite streets and obstacles.”

“Good. Good! And we have to continue to organize the prize agents” Chamberlain said.

“That is your department” I said. “I totally oppose looting.”

“John. It is legal looting! The city refuses to surrender! If a city refuses to surrender then if it falls it can be sacked! Legal looting is at least not total free fall anarchy. We have assigned prize agents. Your military police will monitor to stop outright thuggery. We are not attacking civilian women and children or the extremely aged or banks or temples or churches. Rape will not be an option. Considering the rebel’s use of mass terror, torture, and murder of civilians we are trying to keep to the moral high ground. Edward Campbell, the prize agent, is a fine man isn’t he?”

“Yes” I replied grudgingly.

“Guilty rebels and rebel supporters must be punished but innocent civilians will not be looted” Chamberlain said.

“What about the bazaars?” I said. “The merchants of Delhi have been raped and looted by the rebels and now we are coming!”

“Hindus probably are not supporters and increasingly became the victims so I will talk to the prize agents” Chamberlain replied. “But after all of the rumors of people dancing in the streets as people were massacred and leaving corpses to rot ….unburied……” Chamberlain gestured.

“And the prize agents, being greedy buggers, should aim where the loot already is!” I snarled. “The rebels looted Delhi to the bone and dragged their loot into semi ruined townhouses of the rich who fled and set up criminal gang strongholds! Why not target that! They are the guilty!”

“I will point that out to the prize agents!” Chamberlain replied. “And Muslims lived in different parts of the town from the Hindus and a Muslim house is very different from a Hindu house! I will try persuade the prize agents to target Muslims. Not Hindus. The Hindus were ultimately the victims. Everyone knows it now. The Hindu civilians are not the same as the Hindu sepoys. Canning is saying we should try to shield the Hindus from the reprisals that the Muslims justly deserve with their infamy and treasonable conduct. Hindus were victims of the rebels and must not be victims of us.”

“My monitors say a lot of sepoys are tearing off their tunics and dressing in civilian clothes, even —burkhas — would you believe it!” Hobson said. “To flee! And hauling civilians alongside them and claiming they are families! To escape!”

“And what about the golden bridge?” I said. “We have to get that bastard Maulvi Muhammad Baqar to use one last edition of that Muslim newspaper of his! The Delhi Urdu Akbhar! Announcing that we are leaving the bridge of boats wide open for people to flee! No questions asked! Anyone! Everyone! Even sepoys! Even sepoys in burkhas! We must not press the enemy too hard. Let them have a golden bridge to retire by!

All right! When angry, and when I heard Henry Lawrence was murdered by them, — all right! I went berserk! Raving about flaying mutineers alive and boiling rebels in oil! But everyone knows I go berserk! But right now we need to offer the golden bridge to escape! For anyone except that African ex-slave nigger in Lucknow who shot Henry Lawrence while sniping on the roof! All right! That nigger I would flay with my own hands but otherwise……” I gestured in angry frustration.

“John is right” Chamberlain said. “The more people who leave Delhi now the easier the battle will be! And Clemency Canning has already said he will be authorizing amnesty so we might as well grit our teeth and let the population and even rebels escape with out without burkhas!”

“I have given Baqar an ultimatum” Hobson said. “He has diddled us for amnesty because of his support of the rebellion yet his rag has never once published the truth! I told him he had to issue one last edition advising everyone to flee Delhi NOW and that we would hold our fire and let everyone flee who wants to flee. And he has to at least challenge the fanatics by pointing out the obvious: if Delhi does not surrender it will be sacked and destroyed! But if Delhi formally surrenders then Delhi can be saved from destruction and it’s people saved! Saved! Guarantee! Saved! If he does that I have promised him amnesty. But if he does not deliver that edition then I will seen him strung up as a convicted war criminal. But will he do it? The weasel has not done it yet!”
“What about Zafar?” I asked. “The Royals? Half of those buggers were and are beggars! Beggars! I have a list of the royal brats who used the rebellion to enrich themselves but others were victims of Zafar. I mean for years! People starving! Begging Sir Metcalfe to feed them! Zafar partying and squandering his stipend as aged Royals starved! In rags! They should not be punished at least!”

“But Prince Mirza Mughal must be executed by the Sikhs” Hobson said. “Their pay off!”

“No” I said. “They will regret their revenge later!”

“Ok. I will execute Mirza Mughal in the presence of the Sikhs” Hobson said as he pulled off his blue glasses to rub his eyes. You could tell when Hobson had a stress migraine. He was having one now! I was giving him one!

“Formal treason trial” I said.

“No!” Hobson shouted as he pulled out a lavender poultice and held it to his forehead. “It is a prediction! A Sikh prediction! Tied to a brutal murder of some of their gurus! At a particular gate where gurus died horribly! Mirza Mughal and any other princes with him must die exactly the same way! To fulfill the Sikh prediction! Eye for an eye! Death for a death! This is their payback John! And Mirza Mughal is the only royal prince who was worth anything! Half way honest! Half way rational! Half way competent! The rest are either, as you say, beggars, royal beggars, or quiet nonentities, or else hated and reviled parasites! And believe me everyone violently hates the Royals now! The inbred parasite of the Red Queen is so hated and reviled it will be an achievement for me to save him!”

“What?” I stuttered.

“Propaganda!” Hobson said groaning. “If he is left and everyone hates his guts then the dynasty is totally discredited once I circulate the letters the Red Queen wrote to us during this siege! Offering to betray anyone and everyone! The dynasty will be totally discredited! Zafar handed out five rupees per severed head! And refused to surrender Delhi! But we know he will flee! The craven coward that he is! We will catch him! Then we will parade him through the city he allowed to be destroyed while he ran away to save his miserable neck! Then a show trial! Everyone will hate him! Hate them! Then we will let them live as abject and humiliating symbols of the corruption and depravity of the LAST MUGHALS!”

“Dethroned of course!” I said.

“Dethroned and hated forever!” Hobson snapped back as he rubbed the lavender on his aching migraine.

“Then why kill Mirza Mughal?” I asked.

“Because I need to discredit the LAST MUGHAL utterly! So I cannot deny the Sikhs their lust for vengeance to allow the only half way noble son to live! To become a rallying point! The Indian Bonnie Prince Charlie! For Indian Jacobites! Or even a noble martyr! I have to manufacture a death that is degrading, humiliating, that vindicates the Sikhs, and appears to be karma in action! Death for death! Him for the gurus his ancestors tortured and murdered without pity! Aurangzeb the Terrible’s IOU of brutality and insanity and gut wrenching evil delivered to his ancestor Mirza Mughal to pay in full with the very last drop of his life!”

I gritted my teeth. “One guarantee then!”

“Who?” Hobson all but shouted.

“Ghalib The Poet!” I said.

Hobson groaned as he rubbed the lavender over his aching brain. “John. I did not want to tell you because I know you admire his poetry but the last info my spies are telling me is that apparently there was a huge fight — gun battle — whatever. At the criminal hangout of a violent thug of a mutineer and his band of violent thugs. Holding a courtesan….”

“Manglo?” I gasped.

Hobson nodded. “Apparently Sikes and Ghalib and some few, very few , too few, brave souls tried to rescue her. And apparently …..well….”

“Who is dead?” I asked quietly.

“Unclear! The townhouse was filled with whores and loot and drugs and alcohol and weapons and ammo and it blew up — in the middle of a raging gun battle! No one knows who — or if — anyone — survived.”

“John” Chamberlain said as he gripped my arm. “If Ghalib the Poet lived we will of course protect him! After all, he was just about the very last person in Delhi who would join the Wahhabi cause! I am frankly surprised the Wahhabists did not murder him before now! His satires and sly wit and ridicule of them is notorious! He had fatwas slapped on his demanding his life for the sin of ridiculing Islam. I am sorry John.”

I nodded. “I liked his poetry” I said. “Sikes said he was helping the old man to try to survive the siege. Ride his coattails he said. “So no sign of Sikes either?”

Hobson shook his head. “I thought you hated him anyway?” he added as he rubbed his aching head.

“I do!” I retorted. “But …….I hate everyone! Being a grumpy badger!”

“John. Go home. Hug your family” Chamberlain said patting my arm. So I did. And now as I write this entry in my journal I wonder why I have such mixed feelings about Sikes’ possible death. After all, I utterly loathed the man.


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