The Sikhs rode toward Delhi to burn it in a prophecy one of their dead gurus spoke of. The Brahmin sepoys had their 100 years of Plassey prophecy and the Sikhs had their guru prophecy. Two Sikh regiments were caught in a crossfire at Benares and ‘defected’ to Rebel Delhi but there are questions if the defection was genuine or if Military Intelligence was embedding spies inside Delhi. The Sikhs were 99% Loyalist so it seems odd and there is no record of Sikhs actively fighting Loyalist Sikhs inside Delhi during the siege. John Nicholson’s plot for a lighting attack on the first day implied a super rapid taking of several key city bastions which implied internal support or spies acting from within. The attack failed and Nicholson was wounded fatally. There are no records of Sikhs being arrested or shot as Rebels during the entire siege so they might have been embedded to aid the Nicholson plan and perished on that first day fighting as special operation commandos. This was typical of Corp of Guides and MI and Nicholson was very much this school of complex warfare. There is also a record of Nicholson climbing up the city walls and surveying for the artillery barrage while chatting with the soldiers there —- rebels —- Sikhs —- who blandly chatted with Nicholson. Sikhs had a nickname: Nikal Seyn for Nicholson. It meant a lot of things: second sight, in the nick of time, ibqad crazy luck, crazy as a fox, and right royal prick. The Sikhs and Nicholson got along well. And Nicholson was a famous master planner and logistical genius. So he would have wanted Sikhs implanted inside Delhi.
The Sikhs were highly professional so they naturally were used as an elite backbone in the Corp of Guides and Punjabis Regiments. Their literacy was as valued as their discipline. The Brahmins of the Bengal Army behaved badly both on the battlefield and off during the Second Sikh War which discredited the sepoys and only valued the Sikhs all the more in the eyes of the military of India. Brahmin sepoys demanded total segregation and apartheid against the Sikhs, Gurkhas, dubious and ‘degraded’ castes, and uppity people they deemed inferior to their Aryan Bhat Bahimin godhood and historic role of most popular mercenary soldier used by the British to wage war in India against their fellow Indians. But by the Second Sikh War the Bengal Army was seen as an emperor wearing no clothes. Poorbia.. They were seen as obsolete ballast carried along by other better soldiers, elite slackards who hung back from battle but shamelessly looted, demanded batta combat pay but refused to redepoy away from Oudh, demanded endless perks not even the British soldiers enjoyed, could not be punished or jailed, and required endless hours to spend in religious taboos and rituals of Brahminic purity including chasing holy cows to get splashed by holy urine. A Brahmin had a thousand some protocols of rites to maintain. His entire life was spent in ritual terror avoiding endless taboos that surrounded him and filled his life with terror. That the sepoys were also illiterate and poor only increased the terror.
The Sikh on the other hand boasted a ‘protestant’ like reformed religion that was streamlined, stressed literacy and self discipline, and rationalism. So the Sikh along with the Gurkha was now the elite soldier every officer wanted. The Brahmins insulted the Sikhs as they realized the Sikhs were upstaging them and making them redundant.
Sikhs in the Corp of Guides. The Moveable Column that marched post haste across the Punjab west to east featured Sikhs, Pathans, Punjabis, Gurkhas, and a few ‘imports’ ie Brits. Nowadays Marxist history books in India damn the Sikhs for entirely defeating the Rebel freedom fighters. But 1947 was not 1857 and in 1857 the Sikhs were fighting a common sense war against their historic enemy: Islam.. For centuries Islam engaged in ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Sikhs so why would Sikhs fight for a rebellion they clearly saw was being manipulated, manufactured, and highjacked by Wahhabi Islamists? The 1831 Jihad had particuarily targeted the Sikhs to renewed extermination. Why fight the enemy who had time and again tried to exterminate them? The Sikh War Machine was one of the finest in India because like Israel, the Sikhs had to become a War Machine to survive. During peacetime John Nicholson employed Sikhs as police and military police because of their religious ethics for protecting persecuted minorities and high literacy rate. The Sikhs were the beau corp. But scapegoating Sikhs today is historically unfair and reflect continuing prejudice against this ‘protestant’ like minority.
Gordon Scots held the thin red line at the Crimea and then were hurriedly redeployed to India to save the day again. Note the bluish tropic shirt. Bluing was used to keep ‘whites’ looking white but often resulted on odd colors so soldiers often had bluish or steel blue or blue grey white tropic tunics. Local regiments in India dyed their tropic white with cold tea for ‘khaki’ which was camouflage for India’s sunning climate and baked brown landscape. Redeploying from one front to another front was hell on the soldiers just as today. Azimullah Khan thought the Crimea War would overlap resulting in Britain facing two battle fronts at the same time or else the Crimea would be a total disaster for the British. He left the Crimea before the Enfields or the Scots could save the day. It would be one of many fatal miscalculations one of the architects of 1857 would make.
Probyn was the most flashy example of the Corp of Guides. He created the celebrated look from the formal red kurta tunic to the field dress of khaki to the turban to the newfangled tropic helmet of canvas and wicker wrapped with turban lungis. He set up his regiment in tandem with a Frontier Indian and fought wars in the newfangled way instead of HM’s Army way which suited him just fine. The Corp of Guides loathed the regular army who loathed them. Probyn won a VC in 1857 and today lead toy soldiers are dedicated to his glory. Ironically, the Rebel ‘generals’ continued to wear Western designed uniforms based on Napoleonic styles. Rebel regiments often continued to use British commands, British colors, British band music, and British protocols. This led to confusion when both armies looked alike. But as the war progressed the khaki and raggedy dirt adored the Loyalists while the Rebels increasingly stripped off their uniforms for dhoti or jihad regalia.
The elite Skinners, also known as the Yellow Devils, was founded by James Sikander (Alexander in the native tongue) Skinner. The Anglo Indian regiment marched toward Delhi to exact revenge for the attacks on the Skinner clan and the defilement of their founder’s resting place in Skinner Church (he was buried there because he liked the dome but he was not Christan). Skinners was integrated and operated in a tandem of British to native Indian. There was no question of Skinners fighting for the Rebels. Why? That is an interesting question….
Skinners was the elite regiment until the Corp of Guides so the Rebels should have wanted them. Instead they immediately attacked any and all Skinners and lynched a Skinner in Delhi. Why alienate such an elite regiment? Because the Skinners had an eternal oath to never attack the Scindias of Gwalior (their original patron). Scindia of Gwalior spent 1857 claiming to be neutral. Why attack Skinners? Because the Rebels always planned to attack Scindia of Gwalior and indeed Scindia of Gwalior was attacked off and on throughout 1857 into 1858. Gwalior was the keystone of the Decca Shieldwall that protected the Maratha Decca and Surat Port and Bombay. And Scindia had thrown the disgraced Baji Rao II the last legal Peshwa out of the Decca for treason against the Maratha War Machine. Brahmins do not like being thrown out of a place by mere shudra and they considered Scindia to be mere shudra promoted illegally to a 21 gun salute Peer of the Realm when the Brahmin Peshwa was sold in disgrace to the British for safe exile. Nana Sahib, Raosahib, and Tope all openly cursed Scindia as that ‘slipper bearer’ and ‘horse keeper’ Shudra they meant to bring down.
The Loyalists boasted Scots in many regiments. Sir Colin Campbell climaxed every battle with Scots leading the attack. When Lucknow fell a Scottish bonnet topped the Islamic crescent. Many Scots marched up the Ganges in tropic white turned brown by dirt after being hastily redeployed from Burma. Rebels heard the cat wail of their pipes and thought they were indeed ‘Ladies from Hell’ come back to avenge their death in massacres.
The contrary Pathans of the Northwest Punjab fought for the Loyalist while the Pathans of the Northeast Punjab fought for the Rebels. This was a civil war bar none. Pathan blood feuds dating from the 1831 jihad decided who was fighting on what side. The Northwest Pathans were also angry at losing gold in the Mr Yak Head Con and during the 1831 Jihad resented the Wahhabi attacks on their clan elders, the heavy handed demands for mullahs ruling instead of their clan elders, the heavy handed Wahhabi Sharia Law and taxes that infringed on their looser sense of freedom, the Wahhabi arrogance and prejudice of their Pathan culture, language, dancing, music, epic bards, and Persian pedigree which Arabic prejudiced Wahhabists considered jahiliyyah pollution defiling the purity of Islam. Wahhabists consider Islam all devouring.. The Pathans of the Northwest considered Islam far down a list of values they valued. Freedom and personal nang topped their list. Islam was a cloak put on for mosque one day a week. To Wahahbists that was heresy.
Irish regiments from the Crimea fought in the civil war in 1857, mostly under Rose. The British were forced to redeploy too few regiments too quickly from one battle to another resulting in excessive stress and exhaustion. The British Army was actually one of the smaller armies in the West so Rose found himself with marines and sailors (another broadside for General Rose please!) resulting in both burnout and a shabby bunch of soldiers. The Hyderabad Regiments were famously dressed and the Gwalior Contingent of the Bengal Army muntined but continued to fight in pristine uniforms, French Grey Cavalry no less, and NCO’s using British commands while flying glorious regimental colors and band music including ‘God Save The Queen’. The shabby ‘imports’ boasted raggedy clothes, sailor smocks, bare feet, dirty tropic white in diverse shades of khaki, pale blue from blueing on white cloth, and dirt, plus dirt, and still more dirt. Sometimes the shabbiest and dirtiest bunch of soldiers in the battle were the Loyalist ‘imports’.
General Hugh Rose was probably the most brilliant general the Loyalists possessed in 1857. His army was scarcely over two thousand odds and sods of Loyalists from Bombay Army, Hyderabad, Bhopal, including a large chunk of Maratha plus burned out Crimea veterans but he waged a battle a week and a siege of a rebel held fort a month and won while manipulating the war to win the hearts of minds of the civilian population of the Maratha of the Decca. So he was tragically surprised when Jhansi did not surrender to him. He had presented his Loyalist Army as the Rescuer of the Maratha and the Rebels holding Jhansi were entirely Muslims, Pathans, Afghans, Arabs, and mutineers of the Oudh recruited Bengal Army (not Maratha and not of the Decca). Rose believed that winning the war did not mean winning battles but winning the population. Jhansi’s siege and therefore sacking (a city that does not surrender can and will be sacked) was a tragic failure to Rose despite the fact he won Jhansi (at one point holding the city siege with only 700 men). Rose knew propaganda. Today propaganda tars Rose as the Butcher of Jhansi despite the fact he did not want to siege and sack Jhansi.
‘Remember the Ladies’ was a byword among the Loyalists trapped on the Ridge. Delhi’s Rebels were in an informational black hole because they cut the telegraph wires (which the Loyalists quickly fixed) which cut only the Rebels off from information. They severed roads which the Loyalists quickly reconnected but which left the Muslim bastions increasingly islands in informational black holes. The telegraph kept the Loyalists and the world on real time so the massacres of Cawnpore were reported all over India and the world (excluding the Rebel bastions) . The massacres acted much like 9/11 (New York) or 7/17 (London) or 11/26 (Mumbai) (USA date usage) as the British manipulated the horrors without the rebels able or willing to explain the use of terror, massacres of civilians, and attacks on women and children which naturally terrified the world. So the Rebels in Delhi probably failed to even understand the shout ‘ Remember the Ladies!’ as the Loyalists trapped on the Ridge fought off their attacks with such fury.
Freddy Roberts was only 16 years old when 1857 started. He was one of John Nicholson’s only white staff members. He displayed sabit jang – poise in battle, often taking fast and clever advantage of moments of chance. He later became of the most beloved of senior commanders of the British Army.
Canning was the Governor General of India during 1857. His coup of receiving the plum position in the plum colony was overshadowed by the knowledge that every single governor general came with assurances that everything was fine quickly followed by war. Dalhousie was leaving sick in his mind as well as his body, his beloved wife dead. He did not even bother with assurances. Everyone knew something was going to happen in 1857. The question was hard bad? Canning was remarkably cool during the civil war and worked in tandem with General Hearsay who was an old pro and commanded Barrackpore, Dum Dum Munitions & camp; Armory, Fort William, and Calcutta. They made a brisk and aggressive team unlike General Anison who commanded the Punjab where everyone feared the crisis would hit — and did — as he blundered his way to his death by cholera to the relief of one and all. Hearsay was so masterful a pro (having 2 bibi native wives in the bungalow besides) it is likely Pandey was probably being groomed by Nakki Khan the Wahhabi drug dealer and agent provocateur to murder the one man Wahhabists knew about and needed to see killed to see their plots for rebellion succeed. After the civil war Canning earned the nickname ‘Clemency Canning’ for his aggressive orders to stop the carnage, stop the executions, and his proposal for a general amnesty. Ex-Slave snipers killing at Lucknow and top rebels like Rao Tula Ram brazenly appealed for amnesty. The Brahmin sepoys were desperate for it and quietly re-enlisted in the modern army they once swore to fight to the death to prevent. Canning preferred to’ turn’ Wahhabi mullahs and clerics and imams who stamped the 1857 Declaration of Jihad Holy War to force them to recant rather than hold them for trial. He rigged the trial of Zafar to insure he would not face death but simply genteel poverty of exile in Burma. Canning saw the end of ‘John Company’ ie the EIC in India and the start of the British Raj.
India was famous for cannon after the Mughals slaughtered the Rajputs with it to conquer the Punjab. But by 1857 the British Horse Artillery was the best in the world. It could gallop across the battlefield, pivot, wheel about, load, aim, and shoot in two minutes and then keep shooting hour after hour relentlessly. And unlike the huge Indian cannon, they could hit what they aimed at. The British used their artillery per Napoleon’s rule of war, to control the battle. The horse artillery could even leap over small streams or sedate small rivers. It was lethally mobile. The Rebels in Delhi lost the majority of their older cannon before the Battle of Delhi and the loss of field artillery left them badly savaged by the nimble and lethal horse artillery of the Loyalists. The Horse Artillery was controlled by British companies and after the civil war the artillery was always controlled by the British. The Rebels in 1857 who ran the Bengal Army Artillery were all Muslim and they all rebelled.
Hobson, like many officers of the Corp of Guides, was a protegee of Henry Lawrence, a master of the frontier, bilingual, a scout and spy as well as a brave front line soldier. He loved dueling in battle and dispatching his enemy ‘on point’. His regiment was co-founded with a native pundit and was named ‘Flamingos’ because of their red cashmere shawl cummberbund belts and silk scarves. On the trial run half of the nags fell down dead. The name changed to ‘Plungers’. Hobson only laughed incandescent. He waited all of his life to marry his sweetheart who married an old nabob. He ruined his career by rushing off to marry his black widow bride. She regretted the marriage because Hobson was not rich. He ruined his reputation to maintain her expensive needs. He wrote love letters to her every single day he was apart from her. When he died she was left with some 160 pounds.
William Hobson was a ruined man in 1856. Courtmartialed for financial incompetence. By 1857 he was the darling of the Ridge. He was appointed the liaison officer with Military Intelligence because no respectable officer wanted the dirty job working with spies. He was brilliant at it. That only further tainted his questionable reputation. Nothing was ever proved to explain why he always started out as darling and ended up as suspected but not proved. A sufferer of migraines, he wore goggles on the advice of a doctor. They did not work but today he would be the height of fashion. He was probably bi-polar as well.
The Gurkhas believe in death before dishonor and better a dead hero than a living coward. They would suffer one of the highest death rates in the civil war. Most of the army in India was mercenary. The Gurkhas were no less mercenary than the Bengal Army. But mercenaries have a honor without which the entire mercenary concept falls apart. They must honor their ‘salt’ of their oath to their employer and their regimental izzat honor. The Gurkhas encouraged firing squads so they could execute mutineers and deliberately fired ‘low’ so the British officers had to use their pistols to finish off the slowly dying men. To the Gurkhas, the rebels betrayed their salt-oath and their izzat -regimental honor and therefore had no nang- personal honor.
The Gurkhas valued their regimental izzat (honor) above all. They held the single most dangerous part of the Ridge and suffered 50% casualties. The few Enfield rifles of the 60th, the Gurkhas, and the few horse artillery set up to create a crossfire, all stopped almost daily assaults of rebels which turned the Ridge into a island in a sea of blood and death. Ironically, the Brahmins had mutinied over the threat of military integration of religious deviants, racial inferiors, and degraded shudra castes. That translated into Sikhs, Gurkhas, and soldiers of the Punjabis, Bombay, and Madras Armies. Integration and apartheid were key elements of the Bengal Army. The British plan to integrate was no less than what President Truman faced when he ordered the integration of the U S Army. Truman also faced down a threat of mutiny.
The Gurkhas were the elite special forces of the Loyalist Army. Despite being Hindu the Brahmins of the Bengal Army despised them. So did Muslims. Gurkhas never surrendered or withdrew. They might redeploy but they never surrender or withdraw. They stopped the Islamic invasion and conquest of Nepal in it’s tracks. The Gurkhas were masters of the Baker Rifle which the Enfield was slowly replacing. The Baker was introduced in the Napoleonic Wars. The rifle was slower to load and required specialized skill but boasted a longer distance and accuracy. The rifle allowed soldiers to NOT stand in long lines of men to shoot power volleys but rather scout, slink, creep, and sniper shoot. Hence the rifle meant special forces. While the Bengal Army waxed hysteric about the Enfield the Gurkhas were already welding it despite rationing to placate religious sensibilities. The Gurkhas considered the sepoys to be cowardly prima donnas who betrayed their regimental izzat (honor) by mutinying and they executed the rebels without mercy.
The British were a tiny minority and the Loyalist Army was 95% native. They were often hopelessly outnumbered by the Rebels. At one point the entire Bengal Army, 100,000 men, was expected to mutiny. The Loyalist Army was only a fraction of that. But for 200 years the British led native armies usually won and they won despite the odds in the 1857 civil war. Why? The British believed in leading from the front. Junior officers always took the brunt of the carnage in battle. But even generals often led charges. General Rose lead two charges during 1857, one being a camel charge, the other a horse charge. Nicholson led two charges. Hobson led charges. Chamberlain led charges. Even aged General Havelock led from the front. It was crazy and indeed it had a name: iqbad or crazy luck. But it also had another name: sabit jang or coolness in battle. Clive won in 1757 because he displayed both iqbad and sabit jang at Plassey when the enemy panicked in the pouring rain as their gunnery misfiled when sodden. The Rebels were hindered by the inability or unwillingness of their newly minted officers to lead from the front.
The Corp of Guides boasted the best NCOs. The native NCOs were part union representative, part pundit, part muscle and sinew providing the strength and toughness, the resiliency, and the discipline a company or regiment needed. A commander, British, would consider his senior native NCO his left hand and his senior British NCO his right hand. Both would be equally needful. But often a regiment might only have native NCO’s and one British aide de camp to the commander plus possibly one other white : the doctor. Over all, the Corp of Guides was 95% native. Originally a company or regiment might be exclusive but after the civil war it became the policy to spread martial races throughout the regiments so no company or regiment would have any one race or religion or locality predominate.
A regiment of the Corp of Guides shows how the British reconfigured to the needs of serving on the Northwest Frontier of India. The companies and regiments of the Corp of Guides wore khaki Indian tunics in the field as well as turbans and spoke the languages of the frontier. They were expected to know the culture and the best modern weapons, be good at the telegraph, scout, spy, whatever was required. Many of the most famous regiments like Probyn or Daly were set up in tandem with senior native pundits and valued native NCO’s. Even this regiment, the Hussairs, went out of their way to conform. Several of the junior officers wore Mughal style beards. This cluster of junior officers would see a high mortality rate in the civil war because the British believed in ‘leading from the front’ resulting in high death rates of junior officers and NCO’s
Maulvi Rajab Ali was another spy for MI. At one point he was the newswriter (spymaster) for Henry Lawrence. When he was not spying he wore fantastic glass eyes boasting colors for Holi, or war, or peace, as the moment demanded. He was a masterful spy being Muslim so he had the run of the Red Fort and was all but the open liaison for the Red Queen of the Red Fort and later Emperor Zafar desperate to surrender. This was a civil war and Muslims fought Muslims, Pathans fought Pathans, Hindus fought Hindus, and Punjabis fought Punjabis. Ali felt the Pax Britannia was needful for this moment in time and the Wahahbi agenda would be a disaster. He was an expert in the failed 1831 jihads the Wahhabists launched which bloodied India and considered Syed Ahmad of Bareilly’s jihad in 1831 to be a blueprint for the 1857 jihad. The 1831 jihad was violently Wahhabist, was aimed at exterminating the Sikhs, alienated the Pathans and Punjabis, and scared the Hindus who found themselves violently attacked. Syed Ahmad’s pretense for declaring jihad was ‘Islam is in danger’ when the Sikhs outlawed repressive sharia law, jyzia taxes, the midnight call, and cow slaughter which Muslims used to threaten and defile Hindus. They also dumped cow offal and butchered muck into the holy lake of the Golden Temple of the Sikhs to offend them. Ahmad’s agenda was to create the Dar ul Islam Pure Land of Islam in modern day Pakistan with Sittana as the capital, install Wahhabism along the lines of the Taliban today, and force everyone to convert or die or be ethnically cleansed. The Taliban and other terror organizations of today have direct links to 1857 Indian Wahhabists via the Deoband. Ali was a moderate Muslim and considered all of the above to be a grotesque distortion of True Islam.
Jiwan Lal was a Delhi bureaucrat and economist at the Red Fort, a sort of Alan Greenspan but he looked more like Sidney Greenstreet. Lal wanted to solve the shockingly regressive land taxes set up by the Mughals with the Progressive Income Tax. It says something that such a man volunteered to spy despite being absolutely no one’s idea of a spy. MI finally said they could use his house as a safe house. At one point he was beaten and jailed. He never received money for spying and did not ask for money to spy. He considered the Rebel Cause to be economic suicide and the Wahhabi utopia to be Nuttersylvania. Today he is called a traitor for considering the Great Divergence the enemy of India which meant chopping scapegoats into radishes was a bloody feel good that would ultimately do no good. His income tax was introduced by the British but is today so corrupted few pay taxes except of course the poor farmers who still suffer regressive taxes.
Bruce’ was the newswriter ie spymaster during the Delhi siege. Bruce was probably not his his real name. He probably was born and raised in India and wore Brahmin dress and could pass for Brahmin in voice, languages, and manners. Ludhiana was the clearinghouse for MI in the Punjab which routed the information to Calcutta which routed the information to London. MI used to call itself the Royal Geographic Society. During 1857 MI called itself ‘The Topographic and Statistical Dept which was run by Lord Panmure and T B Jervis. Bruce set up over 30 spies in Delhi plus observers at every gate and the bridge of boats. The telegraph report of the mutiny allowed MI to ‘roll up the carpet’ of the Rebel spy organization all over India before they knew the rebellion started prematurely. So few agent provocateurs were left to cripple the Loyalist Army while the Loyalist Army could cripple the Rebel Cause. Much of the apparent inability of the Rebels to wage war beyond the Muslim Bastions and their ‘bad luck’ was probably caused by MI. MI used agents in tandem, British and Native working together. Rebel infiltration of the Loyalist Cause was nil.
‘Khan Son # 1’ was the adopted son of John Nicholson. When his father a Pathan khan of Wah! died saving Nicholson during the 2nd Sikh War then Nicholson adopted the orphan and allowed half of Wah! to go into exile as his bodyguard. It later led to Nicholson being embroiled in an infamous Pathan blood feud. Khan Son # 1 was a minor sports hero and commanded the ‘Eyes and Ears Net’ of advance scouts for Nicholson as well as camp security. After the war Khan Son # 1 became a famous pundit for the Corp of Guides and the tandem to Sir Pierre Cavagnari who perished in Kabul because his partner was left in India too ill to serve by his side. Minus his tandem, Cavagnari misjudged the situation and died in a massacre. Khan Son # 1 lived to be a senior governmental official of the Punjab Civil Service. He never returned to Wah!
Mabub Khan of the Corp of Guides was a Pathan officer turned spy in Delhi. The Corp of Guides always exploited scouting, spying, and military intelligence to win battles. Delhi had over 30 Loyalist spies crawling all over the place. Hobson boasted he knew what Bakht Khan was eating…. .probably because he was trying to poison the general and could not because of food tasters. Rebels later snarled that the British were contemptible to win by way of spying but the British were historically very good at spying and over half of Ludhiana military intelligence were native pundits and spies. They could not stop 1857 from happening but they meant to end 1857 their way. Please note the map. The tiny black dots are the actual ‘hot’ sites of rebellion in 1857. Blues mean Loyalist. Greenish means neutral or unaffected. The brown was the total site of some ‘hot’ Rebel activity in areas were the British still kept overall control. Today MI uses the same techniques used in 1857 fighting Al Qaeda which is an offshoot of the Deoband which is an offshoot of the Wahhabist bastion in Delhi that manufactured 1857 Jihad.