INDEX

Letter From John Buckley September 1857

Letter From James Ramsdale February 1858

Letter From Corporal Higgins March 1858

A Letter From Richard Gaskell July 1858

Undated Letter From Thomas Ratcliffe

Letter From James Ramsdale July 1858

Undated Letter From Thomas Edwards

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The writer of this letter has gone through many hardships at the scene of the mutinies in India and has displayed a bravery that elicited special mention from his superior officers and a commendation from the Governor General of India himself. The letter is addressed to his sister, who resides at Bradshawleach near Leigh,

Sept 8th 1857

My Dear Sister - I have been looking out this last four months for a letter from you, acknowledging the last money I sent; but nothing has come to me as yet, and so I have been left to think that it has been miscarried by the troublesome times, which we have had for the last four months, and which no doubt you must have heard of long before this must reach you. These are indeed troublesome times for me; for when I am penning these last few lines my poor old heart is almost breaking for the loss of the whole of my dear family, namely wife and three fine children. I left them all happy and comfortable at home on the morning of the 11th May when I went to my duty at the magazine about a mile and a quarter from my house and I have not seen or heard from them since that fatal day. The mutineers from Meerut arrived about 8 o'clock on that morning and attacked our magazine so that I was quite unable to fly to the help of my dear family, as there was only 9 of us Europeans to defend the magazine against thousands of the rebels, which we manfully did until 4 o'clock of the afternoon and then - finding it was impossible to hold it any longer and no prospect of any relief, or of any assistance - we blew up all our powder and ammunition and made our escape under the cover of the explosion; but previous to this I received a musket ball in my left arm, which I carried for 12 days in the jungle, where on crossing the river, I fell into the hands of a gang of ruffians who stripped me naked but for my shirt, and left me bleeding for dead, with five more wounds from clubs and bayonets. I then suffered for 12 days wandering in the jungle naked, without shoes and no food but what I was obliged to beg from the natives. I was three days and four nights without putting a morsel of food in my mouth, but I got safe to Meerut on the twelfth day and was immediately sent into the hospital for the cure of my wounds, which thanks be to God are all well; but I received an injury to the spine which I am afraid will trouble me as long as I live. I was only 9 days in hospital when I again marched into the field of battle before Delhi. But there the sun, that powerful enemy of Europeans in this country, at this season of the year, struck me three different times, so that my life was despaired of for some time, so that I was sent back to Meerut sick and I have been here ever since.. I am now thank God in good health again, but you cannot for a moment think of the anguish of my mind which I endure on account of the loss of my poor dear family which I never expect to see again in this world, as it is now four months and I can get no tidings of them, so I am afraid that they have all been murdered with thousands of others, as the wretches spared neither man, woman or child who fell into their hands. I enclose a printed account of the deafens of our magazine. I have no ties now to keep me in this country, and shall therefore leave it as soon as peace has been restored, should it please God to spare me that long, and return to lay my bones in my native land. Trusting that this hurried scrawl will find you with the rest of my brothers and sisters, with all your families in the enjoyment of good health. When you write direct Mr. John Buckley, conductor of Ordnance, Meerut or elsewhere.

  1. I am at present acting Provost Marshall of the Station and some of my fellow officers say I will be commissioned - Your ever affectionate brother

John Buckley Meerut

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 A Leigh son's letter to his mother from India:-

Futtaghur 2nd February 1858

Dear Father

You will no doubt be surprised at my long silence, but I have been so much engaged marching since my arrival in India, that I Have not had the opportunity of addressing you a few lines. I left Calcutta on the 19th October for Zangugar, where we remained for a few days, after which we proceeded up country. We had a very fatiguing march through the jungle of 31 miles, after which we routed the inhabitants and destroyed the property of the Rajah. We continued our march through the country burning and destroying villages, hanging rebels and blowing up forts, and destroying the property of all who refused to pay tribute. Next we proceeded towards Futtaghur, where we joined Sir Colin Campbell's Division. We had a slight engagement at a bridge, a few miles before reaching Futtaghur, and routed the enemy. Again we proceeded to a river, one days march from hence, where we again met the enemy, but a river was between us. On the 20th January the enemy opened fire on the piquet of Rifles, my division got orders to book-on, and under a very heavy fire, we charged, to the rescue of the Rifles, a distance of four miles and in three quarters of an hour from receiving our orders, we were in action. After a few rounds of shells we routed the enemy. We kept up a fire across the river for three weeks, then we returned to Futtaghur, where we are now waiting orders, expecting to proceed to the capture of Lucknow, where we shall have a tight fight, as the main body of the rebels are there. We have marched 800 miles since we left Calcutta, mostly by night, as it is too hot by day. Please let me know by your next if you received my letters, which I wrote to you and my brother from Ceylon, as I have not received an answer. I have had many hardships to contend with, but it cannot be expected otherwise from the nature of the campaign we have to go through: but I trust it will soon be over with when I can return home. Please show this to my brother, and write as soon as possibly, and let me know how trade is getting on, as I expect it is very dull because of the war. Give my love to all enquiring friends brothers and sisters, meantime I remain your affectionate son.

James  Ramsdale

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 The following letter has been addressed to his mother in Leigh

Corporal Higgins, Mooltan, Bengal, East Indies, Light Infantry 31 March 1858

My dear mother, once more I sit down to write to you, in hope that these few lines will find you and all at home quite well as they leave me at present. Thank God for it. I am sorry to make my usual complaint - I cannot receive any letters from home - surely you do not think me dead? no dear mother I am well and hearty, yet for which I feel truly thankful to the Almighty God. No doubt that you must have heard of the dreadful war in India, but I am happy to say it is nearly all over. I sent you the whole account in my last letter. Mooltan is still quiet, but dreadful have been the doings here. I will not attempt to describe them; the thoughts even are painful. There is still war going on in Lucknow, but I hope it will soon be all over. British steel and British hearts have beaten seven times their number, but dearly has the victory been bought. Many a brave heart lies cold in death that once beat high in battle. But it is of no use me telling you this, for the home papers are full of nothing else, I see. So now I will tell you of my own luck amidst all the tumult and war. I have left the 4th Company 3rd Battalion and Joined a troop of the Horse Artillery just what I have longed for a many years; but I am sorry to tell you that I have lost my chum Dick Field; we both joined together, but poor Dick could not ride so he was sent back to his Company. The parting was hard but it is the soldier's lot to obey, so we made up our minds to look at it as a matter of course. We expect to move to Lahore in a couple of days, and as soon as arrive I will write again. So for the present, farewell. And God bless you all.   

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To Peter and Mary Gaskell

Upholland Moor near Wigan

Roorkee, India 1st July 1858

Dear father and Mother I now write these few lines to you hoping to find you all in good health, as it leaves me at present, thank God for it. Dear father and mother I beg to be excused for not writing before, for, since I wrote to you last, I have been marching about the country and could not find time. I left Allahabad on the 20th October, en route for Cawnpore, where I remained for two or three days. I left there on the 8th November and marched for Lucknow. I joined the Commander in Chief in front of Lucknow on 12th November and was fighting on the 14th, which continued for 9 days, during which time I had very little rest, and very little food, and nothing to cover me from the night air except my coat. On the 21st we relieved the garrison, which contained soldiers, women and children. They had been confined there for two months with very little food. On the 23rd we retired form Lucknow for Cawnpore, there were 15000 of the rebels there. We commenced operations on the 30th November, which lasted until 6th December. On that day we made a charge upon them, and cut them up in hundreds, likewise captured all the baggage and a great quantity of ammunition and arms. I remained in Cawnpore until the 24 December, marched one day, then halted to enjoy our Christmas dinner which I enjoyed very much. We had plenty of plum pudding and roast beef and mutton and potatoes and rum also. On the 26th I started for Futtenghur, and continued our march unmolested until the 2nd January when we had another engagement within 14 miles of Futtenghur, the rebels suffered severely in there retreat; they were lying dead for 7 or 8 miles along the road. We reached Futtenghur on the morning of the 3rd January and remained there working every day until 1 February. I again started for Cawnpore, got there on the 8th February where we halted until the 11 February. Again marched for the siege of Lucknow, which commenced on the 2nd March and lasted until the 22nd. During this time I was at work sometimes night sometimes day. On the 17th March we had a sad accident in our Company, the Captain and 14 men were killed by an explosion of gunpowder, which the enemy left in their retreat. I remained in Lucknow until the 5th April when we started for Baritelli. We went across the country and had an engagement on the 15th April and again on the 22nd. We then continued our march to Baritelli, got there on the 4th May where we met at the borders of the town the rebels. There we had some sharp fighting for four hours in the heat of the sun. We had two men killed by sunstroke. We marched on about two miles further and took possession of the town, made the rebels retire with heavy loss, capturing 12 guns. We remained there till the 10th June when we marched for Roorkee which is 100 miles from Baritelli. We are now in the barracks for the rainy season, which lasts about three months. This is a very health part of the country. We are about 15 or 16 miles away from the Emilar Mountains. They are the highest mountains in the world. They are 12000 feet above the sea. We can see them quite plain from our barracks. Our Company left England 96 strong, and out of them we lost 36,19 of them killed in action, the remainder died of sunstroke and fever. There are 10 men gone home invalided, two of them lost their right arms and one his right eye; two men lying wounded in hospital at Lucknow. Dear father and mother I have enjoyed the best of health since I came into the country, and escaped all dangers. The most horrid sight I ever saw was 21 rebels hanging out of a tree in a place called Maw. Since that I have seen them hanging daily. I  must now conclude with my kindest love and respect from all of you - I remain your affectionate Richard Gaskell

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The following letter is from Sergeant Thomas Ratcliffe a young man born in Astley to his father

I now take the opportunity of writing to you, with which the blessing of God, I am once more able to do after all the dangers that have happened; but I have not escaped without a scratch. We marched from Meerut two squadrons strong under the command of Major General Penny, the whole of the 64th Regiment, 12 guns of the Artillery and ours made the column. We started on the 12th January and had no engagement until the 31st of March at 5 am at a place called Kurrowlee. We kept on, unsuspecting that the enemy was near, until we were completely under the muzzles of their guns; they commenced firing and our guns responded in admirable style. We were soon ordered to charge (it was now dark) and while at a charge we were caught in an entrenchment; two of our officers were first in it, and our men immediately after with their horses, all in confusion together. While in this dilemma the "Pandies" surrounded us completely. I must tell you that the infantry were at that time about four miles in our rear. Luckily we all managed to scramble out, with only some tulwar or sabre cuts, and some broken limbs and shoulders. We formed up after clearing this, and then the Sepoys charged our guns - they were black men at our guns, and deserted them, being overpowered by the enemy - we then made for them determined that the black wretches should not have them while a European arm could prevent them, which eventually they did. At this time I was engaged with a fellow on my left, and while protecting myself on this side, another came on my right and aimed at my leg. I just had time to bring my guard round; to save my leg from being taken off, but the end of the tulwar caught me and cut one of the sinews of my thigh, which is now I think, getting alright. I leave you to guess what kind of work it might be; Major General Penny was the first man killed in this affair. We lost two men of our regiment; two officers and twenty five men injured and all progressing favourably. I have written several letters and am feeling very uneasy at not having received answers. We have marched into Barielly, joined the Commander in Chief, taken that place with hard fighting and have come in here with the sick and wounded.

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A letter sent to Mr. William Ramsdale of Welsh Hill Pennington from his son James who was serving with the 14th Battalion Royal Infantry

Agra Fort Bengal 4th July 1858

14th Battalion Royal Infantry

My Dear Father - I received your letter on the 1st of this month, but owing to the way I was knocked about I could not answer it before. There is no use telling you about the work which we have been doing here, as you know more at home than we do here. Suffice to say after a long march up the country, we entered the jungle and marched 40 mines in 20 hours and then the rascals made off before we got near. We then marched into Cawnpore and joined the main army, and marched with them against Futtenghar. The rebels here again decamped. We then followed them 10 miles, and found them entrenched on the other side of an unfordable river. We remained there giving them the odd shot for a few days; then marched (en route) for Lucknow. There we had our work to do in the heat of the Indian sun which has been as high as 140 or 150 degrees; after the rebels stronghold was taken we expected rest - but no, in 48 hours we were ordered to Cawnpore where we got a siege train. With that we proceeded to Barielly, and after having a pretty sharp go-in for two days we got possession of the city. After remaining there for a few days, till all were settled, our poor Company was ordered to Shahjhunpore,  as the enemies cavalry were gathering there. On arriving there we found them in a small fort. We, with three heavy guns advanced to within 500 yards amidst showers of grape which took no effect - We then unlimbered and gave them a few round shot, then followed it up with a few rounds of shell when the cowards began to fly. Our cavalry then followed them up, and the columns then marched on, leaving some engineers to blow up the fort. The sun was so hot that 51 men dropped dead with sunstroke on that day. My own Company lost 16 men from the time we left Cawnpore till that night. We then marched for Futtenghar, expecting to get quarters, which we did, but not long to enjoy them, for in two days we were ordered to leave the siege train there and proceed to Agra, which we did. We again got into quarters, but in four days we were again ordered Dholpore (en route) for, the Gwalion country. We there got some siege guns, but it was ascertained that heavy guns could not cross a river, which lay between us and Gwalior , so we are returned to Agra and are now quite comfortable, after marching about 1500 miles after the rascals - We have black men to pull fans over us day and night, also cooks, washer men, in fact we have nothing to do

James Ramsdale

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A letter from Thomas Edwards a soldier serving in India to his brother and sister in Golborne

My Dear Brother and Sister - My regiment has had nothing to do with the Pandees as yet since we came to the country, but as soon as the Monsoons are over we are going to have a go-in with them. We are 1500 strong so that is a pretty strong regiment. At present we are guarding 7000 Pandees in the Punjab that has had their arms taken from them. They happened to drop on them in time before they could join the rebel army. These Coons are not to be trusted; we have to sleep with our rifles in bed with us, besides having two Companies of ours on sentry over them, loaded, and one Company of Seiks, and eight guns loaded up to the muzzles with grape and canister, and they are pointed right slap on their tents, so that if two rifles were to go off from our sentries they would all be blown to the devil or somewhere else. We have had two or three false alarms during the land storms which came with great violence, and last two or four hours, and you cannot see anything; in fact if you went out in one of them you would sure to get blinded: so we expected John Pandee would try his lick then, but no go. There was one Regiment in Peshawar tried it on with the 87th and 27th of ours, when they thought all the men were laid up with sickness, but they were taken in, for in less than two hours there was not one left to tell the tale; what were not killed in the town were hunted through the jungle like foxes, and bayoneted without saying "by your leave" or anything else. Dear brother you will hardly believe me when I tell you I have turned hangman, but I have- When we came to Lahore at first. I was appointed Proverst Sergeant to take charge of the prisoners, being a good lump of a chap. Since I have taken charge I have strung up 37 Pandees, and I expect by the time you get this letter I shall have had as many more for they are bringing them in every day, for the wet season has set in and they are forced to come out of the bush, and as soon as they do they are grabbed by the police, and they are brought to me. There is a kind of a trial on them, but it is a matter of form; for they are all sentenced to be hung. They would rather die any other way than be hung, for a piece of pork is rubbed across their muzzles to break their caste. The rope is likewise greased with the same. I will give you a bit of a description of the gallows. There is three stout poles put up at angles; at the top there is three more across from the uprights, so that 12 can swing at one time; underneath is a table split through the centre, there are two ropes to the legs of the table and a Darkey stationed at each rope. When I give the signal, the ropes are pulled, the table comes in half, and down come the Pandees. The noose is put round their necks by men who have lost their caste. There is no such thing as covering their faces as in England. Although there is more money here, you have no pleasure in it

Thomas Edwards