blog 303: there is more red rebel pox than true blue loyalist dots

June 4th
The Tribe of Nicholson force marches. I pity the Singhs and Rosh Sahib and Rai Memsahib. I suggested they stay in Peshawar but at the same time I needed a Military Court just as I need my Military Police. Rosh Sahib says he won’t miss this for a world of briefs. It is important that I deliver hard but absolutely fair military justice. Unless we stand for law and order and justice then we are no better than the rebels. Anarchy thrives when law and order collapses. Anarchy is thriving now. I have to deliver law and order and justice just as much a brute strength.

And I know the Moveable Column is lacking. Military court-martials by soldiers rotating on duty with no experience with military law is risky. And they are concentrating on mutineers. The reality is before long they will be trying some of their own. Where there are armies there is crime. Therefore, I have to bring Military Police and Military Courts to the Moveable Column. The Singhs were hired exactly for this function. But only Rosh Sahib have the moral authority to police me. So an aging man is on a force march. And I need him. My notorious temper and berserker inclinations need him. Rosh Sahib is my conscience and the counterweight to myself — and my aide de camp, second in command, and spy master: Brother # 2. And after that ugly display of berserker behavior I know I can not trust myself.

We use our modified carts that Brother # 1 invented that can transport the Camp of Nicholson across the landscape and set up or strike down in one hour. Hill tents for living, durbar tent, courtroom durbar tent, command headquarters tent, commissariat tent, Wah! In Exile tents. Police tents. Mobile jail. Servant tents. We are actually moving briskly courtesy of Brother # 1 and 3 who are handling logistics being a genius with animals and roads while Brother # 1 works infrastructure. I say we have become Irish Gypsies! The Irish Gypsies returned home to India the land of their origins!

My daily telegraphic conference revealed a brouhaha over my title. Captain Nicholson is outranked by damn near everyone except newly minted Lieutenant Freddy Roberts! Of course I am just Captain Commissariat and ex-Lieutenant Logistics. My job is to move the Moveable Column briskly and intact cross country to Delhi as fast as possible while stabilizing destabilizing situations along the road. End of job. Chamberlain will resume command in Delhi. So I don’t see why a captain and a policeman and a political officer can’t run the logistical operation. Political Officers do everything except command the front lines. But apparently the straight HM’s Army officers and pig sticking pricks and assorted military morons are grumbling that they cannot salute me or invite me to mess if they outrank me. Sir Colin Campbell, the Commander in Chief, said a captain in command was a nonsuch. Lawrence has therefore authorized me to enjoy a temporary appointment of Brigadier General until I reach Delhi. Then I am busted back to Captain and Political Officer Nicholson. He was very clear on that point. I am sure John Lawrence will always be very clear on that point er I get delusions of grandeur!


Late telegraph. Cawnpore has mutinied. Nana Sahib promised to guard Wheeler’s back. He joined the mutineers and looted the municipal treasury, armory, and then talked the mutineers eager to ride off to Delhi to stay in Cawnpore to help him destroy Wheeler who has almost no soldiers, guns, cannon, or supplies. Last telegraph from Cawnpore says the city is in a ‘orgy of looting, rioting, and murder’.
Telegraph from Benares. Garbled. Soldiers shooting soldiers shooting soldiers. Everyone shooting everyone. Sikhs caught in crossfire. Civilians dead. Utter chaos.
Late telegraph from Gwalior. Rumbles of mutiny by Bengal Army units. Scindia reports they threatened and insulted his Prime Minister. Scindia is rounding up Foreigners to safety because they will be lighting rods –targets for attack. The cantonment is crumbling into mutiny as officers are being pulled into safety. Scindia would rather see the Bengal Army regiments mutiny without the usual massacre of officers because they are going to mutiny anyway. The British offices keep insisting their men were loyal. Sure!

I cannot sleep and stare at the map of the Punjab as it disintegrates before my eyes. Brother # 2 just calmly cleans and oils gunnery.


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