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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Havelock left Allahabad for Cawnpore with 2


and invalids. He accepted from

the Nana, who professed great friendship, 200 Mahrattas and two guns. On the night of June 4, the Sepoy regiment at Cawnpore broke out in mutiny. The Nana overtook them on the road to Delhi and soon returned with them to Cawnpore. Sir Hugh was taken by surprise on the morning of the 6th, when he received a message from the Nana, announcing that his men were about to attack the Englishmen. Sir Hugh prepared for the defence of the barracks. The mutineers first rifled the city and cantonment, and murdered all the English who came in their way. At noon they opened fire on the intrenchments. From the 6th to the 25th of June, the inmates struggled against fearful odds. Though starving, they resisted successfully. On June 25, Wheeler received a proposal that safe passage would be given to Allahabad to those who were willing to lay down their arms. An armistice was proclaimed, and next morning terms were negotiated. The English were to capitulate and march out with their arms and sixty rounds of ammunition for each man, to the river a mile away, where boats would be furnished for all. The next morning they marched down to the boats--the men on foot, the wounded and non-combatants on elephants and bullocks. They were all huddled together on board the boats. Suddenly, at the sound of a bugle, a murderous fire was opened on them. The women and children, one hundred and twenty-five in number, were hurried off to prison, and the men were ordered to immediate execution. All was soon over. Nana
was proclaimed Peishwa. English reinforcements were coming from Allahabad. Nana hastened back to Cawnpore. There, within a few days, more than two hundred English were taken prisoners. The men were all butchered, and eighty women and children were sent to join those in a house near the Nana. Great excitement prevailed in England, where it was believed that these women were subjected to all manner of outrage and made to long for death as an escape from shame. As a matter of fact the royal widows of the Nana's adoptive father did their utmost to protect the captive Englishwomen. They threatened to throw themselves and their children from the palace windows should any harm befall the English ladies. Thanks to them no worse indignity than the compulsory grinding of corn was inflicted on the white women. Meanwhile, Colonel Mill was pushing up from Calcutta. In July, he was joined at Allahabad by a column under General Havelock.

[Sidenote: Havelock to the relief]

[Sidenote: Englishwomen slaughtered]

[Sidenote: Capture of Cawnpore]

In July, Havelock left Allahabad for Cawnpore with 2,000 men, Europeans and Sikhs. He burned to avenge the massacre of Cawnpore. On the 12th and 15th of July he inflicted three defeats on the enemy. When within twenty miles of Cawnpore, having halted for the night, he heard that the women and children at Cawnpore were still alive, and that the Nana had taken the field to oppose him. He broke camp and marched fifteen miles that night. In the meantime, the crowning atrocity was committed at Cawnpore. The defeated rebels had returned to the Nana. On receiving the tidings of their repulse, he ordered the slaughter of the 200 women and children. They were hacked to death with swords, bayonets, knives and axes. Their remains were thrown into a well. At 2 p.m. Havelock toiled on with a thousand Europeans and three hundred Sikhs, and without cavalry and artillery, to meet the 5,000 rebels. Failing to silence the enemy's batteries, Havelock ordered a bayonet charge. Nana Sahib with his followers took flight. He was never heard from again. The next morning Havelock marched into the station at Cawnpore, and there found the well filled with mangled human remains. On July 20, having been reinforced by General Neill, whom he left in charge at Cawnpore, Havelock set out for the relief of Lucknow.


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