Return to Home Page


The Memoirs of David Dinwiddie

 These memoirs, by my great-great-grandfather, David DINWIDDIE (1818-1883), were originally written as a letter written to his brother Alexander, begun in 1864 and finished in 1878. They were then privately printed. I’m indebted to Ruth Croft, who typed them in electronic form, enabling me to post them to my website, where I hope they will be of interest. When editing and annotating I’ve tried to leave the memoirs as close the original as possible, while explaining relationships (for the benefit of family members), and some terms that puzzled me when I first read them

(Brian Duncan, 5 October 2002).


PALAVARUM, near MADRAS,                                                                                                                                                                                                    4th February 1864.

My Dear Brother Alexander,

        The Dinwiddies are not exempt you see from the consequences of the disobedience of our first parents; troubles in the flesh and spirit grow up with us from our cradle; and as we pass on from youth to manhood, prime of life to old age, we are hourly admonished that “time shall be no more”, that “the longest life is but a span,” and all, even temporary joy, is vanity and vexation of spirit in this transitory world.

        On the 4th of August 1818, your humble servant was found amongst the cabbages in the kitchen garden, exactly in the centre of the renowned clachan of Penpont[1]; the Turnpike road to Glasgow and the Wee Burnie ran together close by the west gable-end of the dwelling; the barn and thrashing-mill, byre, stables, stack-yard, and cart-shed closed in the north and east, and the high road to Galloway led past the front of the Auld Biggin – a right pleasant place to live in, in youth, and to die in, in old age. May this be the case with the “Soldier Laddie”.

            You were born sometime in 1803[2], at the Eccles-mains, when our father was acting steward over the estate of the late Mr. Maitland[3]; consequently you must be about sixty-one years old, and saw the light fifteen years before I did. I think you and brother James were both at home with our worthy parents on the farm in Penpont just before we removed to Woodhead[4]; and you both left to join Uncle James[5], in Manchester, about the year 1824. If I am wrong in my calculations, I will thank you to put me right. It grieves me to have to record the death of so many of my own flesh and blood in the prime of life, and at the time, too, when most required to provide for their own offspring. I cannot feel sufficiently thankful to Providence for His goodness to me from my youth. I have been an “unprofitable servant,” and have done nothing for the kingdom of Christ; but still I am enjoying the comforts of life, and have enjoyed them more, much more than the majority of my fellowmen.

How thankful I ought to be, and how earnest in prayer to God for forgiveness, for the day will soon come when I will know the value of a Redeemer and the consequence of having neglected His admonitions. It is a hard struggle to overcome the evil one, but I know well, in spite of the doctrine of Predestination, that we can all go to heaven if we only try (believe).

Prayer, earnest prayer, is the only remedy to keep us from the “broad path;” “the flesh is continually warring against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.”  This world and its cares are always ready to step in and tempt us to offend our Creator. O! how long-suffering God is to let sinners such as I am to live so long on the face of this beautiful world; the longer I live the more I feel how unprofitable I have been, how little I have done for God, myself, and my fellow creatures.

            I believe it is nothing else but a cold, careless heart, in the interests of others, that makes myself, for one, so backward in keeping up a constant correspondence. It is not for want of time, but a something which I know will be shewn to me some day, when my conscience lays bare all the sins of ‘omission and commission’. Much good may be done by letter-writing. I have not forgotten the kind and sisterly advice of sister Margaret[6] in her letters to me during the first few years of my exile in India, the good effects of which are still fresh in my memory. This may be my last letter: what a shame it is only my second, so I shall begin at the beginning and give you an outline of my life.

            Until I was about fifteen years old, I never was absent one day from home. To Sanquhar for a cart load of coals, to the Mile end Dumfries with the same for the use of grandmother[7], and once as far as New Galloway, were the furthest points reached, but always at home the same evening. Shortly before I left my home and “my country for my country’s good,” I had a few narrow escapes. One winter morning at break of day I was jogging along the road to Sanquhar in charge of father’s two cart horses, when suddenly they took fright at something on the side of the road, which led across the face of a mountain through a deep cutting in the hard rock, which hung high overhead. In a few seconds the horses with the carts were rolling and crashing, over and down, to the rocky, foaming river below. I had just time to save myself. The story is a long one, the driver lived to go the same road again another day, but not down the precipice.

            About this time of “home life” I had occasion to cut daily a few stones of hay from the bottom part of a stack, which rose high overhead; while cutting away one day with a large two-handled hay-knife I heard a rustling, then I saw the stack slowly move. Before I could run clear of the great, solid mountain of hay above and on both sides of me I was caught and knocked down;  my head and hands only could be seen. Half a second later, in running for my life, would have been fatal, as I would have been smothered. I could breathe; that was enough. Providence saved me.

            In 1834 (I was then about 16 years old), you had me with you as an apprentice in the “Scotch Trade”, and you know best how I did my duty. Previous to my leaving Penpont I saw some soldiers at one of the fairs on recruiting service, and one of them seeing me rather interested about their gay dress and ribbons, observed that I would be a soldier someday. This, with the stories told by old John Ross, Mr. Maitland’s game-keeper, about the Peninsular War, Waterloo, &c., became impressed on my mind, and from that time I thought of doing mighty deeds some day in the “deadly breach,” “playing Shaw, the Life Guardsman”[8] or bearing away the colors of some regiment, like Ewart[9] of the Scotch Greys at Waterloo.

            From the above you can gather how likely I was to be successful in the peaceful pursuits of trade. I did believe that if you had ventured to set me up in business, after asking you to do so that morning at breakfast in the “Bull’s-Head” Burslem[10], in 1838, I should have carried all before me and made a fortune; but after a second trial with Anderson at Stony-Stratford and Robert Fergusson[11] at Manchester again, I lost all hope of doing well as a tradesman, and I had already proved my inability for handling the plough, scythe, or reaping-hook. On looking at the fingers of my left hand this moment, I can see the cuts and scars of the reaping-hook, which I must carry to my grave; with the scythe I could not keep abreast with my brother Robert[12], and it was always blunt; the pain in my back invariably being sharper than the edge of my working tools, and a straight furrow with the plough was out of the question. You must remember I was a weak, delicate boy. My mother told me I was the genteelest of the family: and so I was, and am still. I measured five feet ten and a quarter when I enlisted; I seldom weighed above eleven stone; and it is only lately that I weigh thirteen stone.

            If I had waited until you were able to set me up in business, it would have been much more satisfactory to have had the power and pleasure of helping those of my own kin who may have been in need from time to time; but such was not to be, and many a heavy sigh has it cost me. There was, is, and shall be, a mixture of good, bad, and indifferent qualities comprising my nature – a something I cannot explain, a sort of willing spirit; but the flesh generally got the upper hand. A strong resolution to do right in thought, word, and deed, but a stronger one would have the mastery, and make me act contrary to my good resolutions:  when I would do good, evil is ever present: a melancholy foreboding used to possess me of what was to be gone through in this life and that which is to come, a peculiarity I have often heard more common to the Scotch than any other nation. This I believe is the consequence of the Scotch method of instilling into the minds of youth the awful punishment of sin; even whistling a hymn on a Sunday was a “breaking of the Law,” and guilty of one sin guilty of all.

            You will remember when I left Manchester in 1838, you kindly filled my box with all sorts of clothing for the use of our family at Woodhead. The box arrived safe at home with its contents, but I sailed over to Dublin. You are well aware how I returned to Manchester soon afterwards a Heavy Dragoon, instead of going home to Woodhead.

            How hardened must have been my heart then, and how obdurate it is still; how little mercy I had for the feelings of others, even those near and dear to me, then let me reflect how merciful God has been through a life of frequent danger, by flood and field, in war and in peace.

            From Manchester the 2nd Dragoon Guards or “Queen’s Bays,” were ordered to Glasgow in the beginning of 1839. I enjoyed the march very much, as I had always loved to see life (as I called it). Even to this day I should like nothing better than to wander over the world, both by sea and land. Mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, ravines, cascades, caves, dense jungles, and sandy deserts, different tribes of the human race, beasts of the earth, the fish of the sea, the fowls of the air (wild and tame); in fact the wonderful and beautiful works of creation, in such an endless variety, have a peculiar charm for me, a Scotch man, who, they say, “is never home, but when abroad.”  I love a storm when “awfully grand” on sea or shore, but at sea I always felt that there was no “back door” to run out of should the sails and masts be blown away, or the ship be on fire or drifting towards a Lee Shore. These dangers I have been in my day exposed to, but let me go back to Glasgow and continue my story from there.

            One cold, wet morning found me walking “Sentry go” in Hamilton Barracks, the depot for recruits and young horses of the head quarters of the regiment which was then doing garrison duty near the Brooinlaw, Glasgow, eleven miles distant. Here I was taking care of the Glasgow “Weaver bodies”. It was on the 11th May 1839, and strange to say, a few inches of snow had fallen a day or two previously, and was now melting away with the rain. Wet feet and neglecting to change my shoes and socks, brought on a severe cold, followed by rheumatic pains, which commenced at my thumb, and travelling through every joint of my body, left me by making its exit at my extremities. For six weeks I suffered with this complaint, and then went home to Penpont on sick furlough. I had then been five long years away from the place of my nativity, and on the first sight of the valley of the Nith my heart fainted within me, for instead of the mountains of Queens-Berry, Tynrondoon, Galloway, Closeburn, and Keirhills being high and steep, the rivers Nith and Scar being broad and deep, they all seemed to my imagination just the reverse; mere pigmies of mountains and rivers when compared with the Wicklow Hills in Ireland, and the mountains of Westmoreland in England, the Liffey at Dublin, and the Mersey at Liverpool. This, with the change of neighbours, my school-fellows grown up to be men and women, and my old sweethearts married, took all the conceit out of me, and made me feel as “a stranger in a strange land.”  However, a few weeks living on porridge and peas-brose[13] at Woodhead, and in the company of brother James[14] and sister Ann[15] at Dumfries, brought me round, and I returned to my Regiment well and hearty, with £30 sterling in my pocket to purchase my discharge. This done, I returned on foot, (from Glasgow, via Douglass-Mill, Crawford-John, and Sanquhar, paying my father’s relation, Mr. Thorburn[16] a visit in Douglass-Dale) to Penpont.

            I tried Farming again, for I was now in good humour for another change of life, and had dreams of settling down, and being an honest “citizen of the world.”  When in hospital at Hamilton I recollect making all sorts of good resolutions about this world and the next, but all vanished in due course of time. Brother Robert, and sisters Jane[17] and Nancy[18] were at home on my return. I think brother John[19] was then in Manchester, and all went well for about a year, when one evening, while I was mowing (cutting) barley in the Eccles-Wood, with my brother Robert, a letter came from Mr. Anderson, of Stony-Stratford, Buckinghamshire, offering me another chance to “push my fortune” in Merry England. The sun was setting when this letter came. I laid the scythe quietly on the ground, straightened my aching back, looked south over the Portrack Hills like a true Scot, and said  “well, I will! I shall try my fortune again;” and in a few days I bid my dear father farewell, the tears streaming down his furrowed cheeks as he shook me by the hand saying, ‘Davy, I fear we shall never meet again in this world.’  This was just after dinner, 1P.M.; he then went off to the harvest field with his band of reapers, while my dear mother accompanied me a little distance towards Burnhead, where I was bound (as I purposed within myself) for a moral character, from the Minister, (Mr. Smith.) My mother seemed to have better hopes of me than my father, and left me pretty cheerful. Mr. Smith gave me a good character; he could not do otherwise as far as my outward walk in life went, for no-one could ever accuse me of being what we commonly call “ a wild scamp and a rake” in Scotland. I walked to Uncle James that night, 11 miles; he was then, with his wife Aunt Mary, at Kill-Craft, three or four miles north of Dumfries. Next day I continued my journey southward, via Glencaple Quay, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Peeping-Tom of Coventry. I found my way to Stony-Stratford, and commenced business.

            After giving Mr. Anderson and the round of customers a fair trial, I saw that I could not succeed because I had not the will. I could not, and would not take the advice  given by my father many years previously, viz., “set a stout heart to a steep hill and you will get to the top of it,”  So down to smoky Manchester I felt my way, where I was kindly invited to try my luck a third time. After a turn or two to Runcorn on Robert Fergusson’s account, melancholy forebodings, hypochondria, or some such thing worse took possession of me not for the first time in my life, and giving way to the peculiar bent of my nature, I quietly went down to Liverpool by the Railway on the 14th December 1840, and the following day (after breakfast at a hotel, where I also slept) I took the shilling[20] as an Artilleryman in the Honorable East Indian Company’s Service, perfectly sober, for I seldom went to excess in liquor, and am a teetotaller for a number of years past. I soon found myself under some control and in my proper element; but soon went a “sight-seeing,” viz., to the docks, shipping, buildings, churches, theatres, &c, the churches from without, and the theatres from within; in one of the latter Vanamburgh[21] was then sporting his lions.

            All these “past-times” were gone through with a wonderfully cheerful heart which I cannot account for. After Christmas I found my self seated in a Railway carriage with a free passage to London. It was a bitter cold day; the second class carriages being open, every one of the passengers (I recollect we had an assortment, viz., recruits and their wives, sailors, rogues and vagabonds,) felt the cold in proportion to the rate the engine forced us along over the iron rails and the depth of clothing which covered the body; some of them were, in spite of the cold, in the highest glee, and others just the reverse. Your brother David played his part between the two extremes. At Stony-Stratford station, within a mile or two of Mr. Anderson’s house a few minutes were spent in taking in coal, water &c., when I ventured from my seat and spent a shilling in the purchase of a shallow plate of weak English broth; it was hot enough, the skin came off the roof of my mouth, which, however did not give me the least concern having felt so cold, although I had on a warm suit of clothes, viz., a pair of thick Kersey trowsers[22], drab waistcoat, a green swallow-tail coat, and a Four-and-nine hat.

            The train arrived in London half an hour after dark. Under the guidance of an experienced veteran Sergeant, who took charge of us, recruits from Liverpool, we found our way to the “City-road Inn,” where we received our billets for the night, my lot (with a Canny Cumberland lad) was at some distance from the rendezvous, there not being sufficient accommodation for all the recruits and their wives. So off we trudged, (but not before we had witnessed a fight with half a dozen Lancashire men at the Inn in true Lancashire fashion) to our billet, a public house, which was then undergoing repair. With all the spare beds engaged, we had the choice of sleeping on the floor or of receiving a shilling to go somewhere else for the night; this was no sooner said than a handsome young girl jumped up and kindly offered me a part of her bed.  Very respectfully declining her kind offer, off went again myself and comrades to look for another billet, and after several unsuccessful attempts at several public houses, on account of Christmas, we had at last the good fortune of an offer of a bed at a respectable hotel, provided we agreed to sleep two in one bed, and pay half a crown for it. No sooner said than the bargain was struck, as it was then about 11 o’clock and a cold, frosty night. After giving our shoes to the “Boots”, we were led upstairs by a handsome young Chambermaid, found the room and bed clean and neat, with towels, wash-hand basin, &c., so bidding our guide a polite good night, we were soon in the arms of Morpheous.

            The next morning we were up early and paid the bill of fare, which included more than the price of our bed, for we did not forget to nourish the inner man the previous night; receiving a hot cup of coffee, we set off to join the old Sergeant at the rendezvous where we were just in time to save ourselves from being put in the “hue and cry” as deserters. On passing through the streets on our way to the steamer below London Bridge, en route to Gravesend, I continued to keep at a distance from my comrades by taking the opposite side of the street, where I was making the best use of my time, by staring about me at the wonders to be seen in the great city. We had not gone far, when I had the pleasure of meeting a countryman with a pack on his back and from which burden I had only a few days previously “cut and run,” but was glad he did not know me. I also came in contact with a real Cockney, who had a basket of bread under his arm, and who had the assurance to lay hold of me by the arm, and with a smile on his countenance, pointed to my comrades on the opposite side of the street saying, “I say young man look, there goes a fine lot of cock sparrows to be shot at, eh!”  No doubt the baker suspected me to be a fresh import from some provincial town, if not a recruit, for he would not have dared to take such liberty with a true cockney; I smiled, answered in the affirmative and passed on, but thought on the remark, wondering why the material composing the Army and Navy should be so thought little of, and what would England be as the civilizer of the world only for such brave men as that sickly-looking baker saw, made a jest on and laughed at; some of whose number were destined to rise and rank in the society of the aristocracy of the land, and be entitled to appear clad with honor in the presence of the greatest sovereign on earth.

            I hope you are not going to question me with reference to the being entitled to appear before “The Sovereign Lord of all,” and whether the soldier and sailor ever think of striving to deserve the same honor before Him; if so, then I can cheerfully give you an answer, and say by experience that there is as much hope for the soldier in the barrack-room or sailor in the fore-castle as for those in civil ranks of life which contain such Christians as a racing, poisoning Palmer[23], a double-faced merchant prince Paul; a murdering Townley[24], whose neck was saved by his aristocratic friends making a madman of him and themselves liars. But go no further than the circle of a gunshot from your door in Manchester, and you will find enough of the works of the devil to deserve a second deluge; crowd all the places of worship in Great Britain to the full, and you will nearly have accounted for all regular church goers; and even the most sincere dare not “throw the first stone” and say he is innocent. How many never go to church, how many more spend their time from Sunday morning until Saturday night in the haunts of the wicked one. But hold! The above is enough; and I hope you will have some charity and allow the possibility of soldiers and sailors being found true to other colors besides those they have sworn to defend while on earth.

            Stepping on shore at Gravesend, we marched to Brompton Barracks, near Chatham and Rochester, nine or ten miles; arriving in time to be told off to our respective companies before it was dark. I soon felt quite at home in a room in which there was a roaring coal fire and made acquaintance with the Artillerymen, who had been there for a few weeks before me, some of whom are still alive, hale and hearty, and doing well in different parts of India. Many have gone to their “long home,” and a few have returned to their native land with a liberal pension. A particular friend of mine, named Robert Knox, a Scotsman from Edinburgh, is now Quarter-Master of a Brigade of Royal Horse Artillery at Bangalore. He enlisted at Manchester; and his brother, a stone-mason, used to attend your church under the Rev. Dr. Munro at the time I left Manchester; and very likely he is still there.

            Sister Marian was the first to astonish me by writing a very affectionate letter soon after my arrival in Brompton. No doubt she remembers the correspondence which took place between us.

            During the time I remained at the Depot (as the barracks for the East Indian Company’s Troops were called) I had a second attack of rheumatic fever: being well taken care of by the Doctor, I was quite well when we embarked at Gravesend for Madras, which was about the same time that brother Robert went to America, viz., in the spring of 1841.




            All the accidents and incidents common during a three month’s voyage to India occurred on our way out, round the Cape of Good Hope, in the good ship Larkens, of 900 tons burden; and on the 19th August we dashed through the dangerous surf of Madras in country Masula-boats[25], which said surf I have crossed many a time since in the service of my country. By nine o’clock the same evening I found myself at Saint Thomas’s Mount, eight miles distant and four miles from Pallavaram[26], the pleasant and clean cantonment in which I now (1864) reside. After a few days rest, and ruminating over the peculiarities of the people and things in India, and having gone through the terrible ordeal of drinking a strong dose of salts and senna every alternate day for six days, formed up in line in the presence of the doctor. We marched to the Mount River, 2 miles distant, for a swim and a bath on the days we did not face the doctor and his gallipot[27]: thus we were informed that the salt junk eaten on board ship for 3 months was washed clean out of us, and that we were now fit for our exile in India for 21 years, when we would be entitled to a pension and allowed to go back to our mother. At Madras, myself and about sixty more men were picked out and sent to join the [Madras] Horse Artillery at Bangalore, two hundred miles distant; where we arrived on the 2nd November and commenced drill.

            In the six months after our arrival at Bangalore, some of the recruits, including myself, were on our way back to Madras with the ‘C’ Troop Horse Artillery en route for China, where we arrived safe and sound after a three month’s voyage. I shall not attempt to describe what passed during the time spent in the Celestial Empire, further than “we came, we saw, we conquered”[28]. The Angel of Death did his work during the war in many shapes and forms. We had land marches and sea voyages; the fleet of seventy ships sailed 200 miles up to the city of Nankeen[29] on the right bank of the river Yansekang[30], when peace was proclaimed.

            It was on this river, after the storming of Ching-Kiang-Foo[31], I had occasion to go in a boat with other men of my Troop, to a large transport vessel of 1200 tons, on duty. The sailors in charge of the boat had an extra dram and could not manage it when at the ship’s side. The river was running at the rate of 5 miles an hour, and before the sailor told off for the purpose, could make proper use of the boat-hook, the boat left the ship’s side, and myself, leaving me hanging by my hands with my feet nearly touching the strong current below. I had got hold of the Mainstays below the broad foot-board, with a view to keep the boat close to the side of the vessel, but was not strong enough to do this even with the aid of 2 other men; so the boat left the side of the vessel without me; the other two men threw themselves back into the boat. In a few seconds I felt my hands and arms begin to tremble with the heavy weight of my body; and looking down at the current below with certain knowledge of drowning, I had to act while I had strength sufficient to do so, and with a desperate spring from the side of the ship, I had the good fortune to hook my heels in the Main-stay above my head. It was an effort to save my life, and in another second I had a firmer grip with my hands, and was quickly on the main deck, thanking God.

            The boat with my companions went adrift, but they ultimately found their way to their own vessel, and I joined them the same evening. They had given me up for lost, for even a good swimmer would have been forced down with the current of the mighty river, to rise no more alive.

            It was at the storming of Ching-Kiang-Foo, where the wives and children of the Tartar soldiers threw themselves into deep wells to be drowned rather than run the risk of falling into the hands of the Barbarians as the Chinese called us, it was also during the China war that I had to go sentry-duty fully accoutred with sword, pistol and carbine bare-footed: the mosquitoes having stung my feet to such a degree that I could not put on my boots.

            During one of our marches in China a dozen of us Artillerymen had a miraculous escape from being destroyed, several of the men with lighted pipes in their mouths having quietly laid down to sleep on straw with the floor beneath covered with powder.

            We again sailed down the river, and on the 15th January 1843 were once more on terra firma in Madras, then on the 18th March went on to our old station, Bangalore, where being finished off by the drill department as a horseman, swordsman, gunner, &c., I was made acting corporal.




            About the end of 1844 the C. Troop Horse Artillery (to which I had been posted in 1840) was ordered to join an army then employed in quelling a rebellion in the Kolapur district, between Bangalore and Bombay; but before the troop reached the scene of the action, the rebellion was crushed; so we struck out across country via Bellary and Sholapore, to Jaulnah, which is about seven hundred miles north-west of Madras, arriving on the 6th January 1845. On the march to Jaulnah I was made full corporal and drill corporal, and considered myself a smart young fellow no doubt, drilling recruits and breaking-in young horses.

            Soldiers must go to church whether they like it or not, and it was here in 1845 I first saw and loved the lassie, who in 1847 I took unto myself as a wife. One of the conditions of the marriage contract was that I should go to school first and fit myself for something higher in the army than drill corporal; of course I was not going to lose the lass with the “bonny blue e’en whose smiles were the sweetest as ever was seen &c.,” and the chance of a little more learning to boot. So to school I went, and soon knew the difference between the singular and plural number, thus fulfilling my promise to those concerned. You will be able to judge from the orthography, etymology, syntax, and prosody of this letter what progress I have made since I saw you last in the classics; and whether I would be able to take “the shine out of Dominie Kellock of Penpont or not in “teaching the young idea how to shoot.”

            On the 15th February 1847 I married Mary Mackenzie[32] aged nineteen. Her father, Hugh Mackenzie[33], was from Glasgow, and died a warrant officer in the Ordnance department in Bangalore in May 1832. Her mother’s name was Mary Pritchard[34], whose father was from the county Mayo, Ireland, and whose mother was from Dublin; her maiden names was Doyle. Thomas Pritchard senior[35] also died a warrant officer, viz., a rank below that of a Commission. He died at Madras; date not known[36]. Thomas Pritchard Junior[37], my late wife’s uncle by the mother’s side, is still alive in Madras, and living twelve miles from where I am now writing. I believe you saw him when he was in England in 1849 or 1850. He went to Edinburgh and passed his degrees for Veterinary Surgeon there in two years, being well up as a judge in horse flesh. Since his return to India he has held the situation of Veterinary Surgeon to the Governor’s Body Guard, Madras.

            I have no end of relations by marriage in India, some are in good circumstances, some just the reverse, and similar to those of our own relatives on your side of the world. With the powerful help of Mr. Thomas Pritchard and a few other officers in India, (one of whom was the late Colonel Sheriff, an uncle to Mrs. Lauderdale Maitland,) and a little exertion on my own part, I have got pretty well up the ladder of promotion, and have no reason to complain; but I live in hopes of getting higher up still. I might have been worth a little hard cash, but somehow or other I never knew the knack, although from the North of the Tweed to make hay even “while the sun did shine.”  Well, now to proceed. Six months after marriage I was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. This, however, did not give me so much pay by about ten pence or a shilling as drill corporal did; but it gave me a better position for pension should I have risen no higher. Five months after I was made Sergeant, my daughter Mary Jane[38] was born. I always call her Jane, and then commenced troubles in the flesh which I am not going to tell you about. Six more followed the first in regular succession; four are still alive and are with me now hearty and well. The mother and three are gone to a better land I trust. Jane is now nineteen years of age, a fine sprightly young queen, and as good as she is bonny. She can play the piano, and has learned a good deal; but I have been too long living in he jungle far from good schools; on long marches from place to place, or on sea voyages from port to port, to have given her a first-rate education. Let us be thankful for what we have received. Thomas David[39], Robert[40], and Alexander[41] are fine-looking, healthy, strong, boys, good tempered, obedient and anxious to learn, and by the blessing of God I will try to make them good scholars, the only fortune I expect to leave them.

            I lived in Jaulnah doing duty with my troop from the beginning of 1845 until the end of 1851 (which was the longest stay I ever made at one place since I left Woodhead in 1834) when the troop was ordered to St. Thomas’s Mount, a 700 miles march over bad roads, and often no roads at all. I accompanied on horseback the troop, which was composed of six guns, 165 horses and 115 men, one-third of which I had charge as Serjeant of a division, under the command of an European Officer. The troops were well trained to gallop over hill and dale, when necessary, ford a river, march through bogs and mires, leap a fence or ditch, when such obstacles came in the way en route. Such must be the Horse Artillery in India, and such material saved the country in the mutiny of 1857 and 1858.

            Mrs. Dinwiddie and two children, viz., Jane and James[42] (Robert[43] the first having died a short time previous to our leaving Jaulnah), with the other families, about fifty, belonging to the troop, found their way in covered carts in rear of the troop, picking out the best track across the country; each cart being dragged by a pair of bullocks marched at a slow pace, always arriving some hours after the troop at the encamping ground. The troop and families invariably commenced the march from camp to camp about 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning: the distance travelled over being from ten to twenty miles. Such was our mode of travelling in days of yore, but now railways or good roads have, of course supplanted these.

            Arriving at Saint Thomas’s Mount on the 22nd February 1852, we were settling ourselves down expecting a few years rest in our new station; however, such was not to be. On the 31st August of the same year the troop embarked at Madras in three vessels for Burmah, and arrived in Rangoon on the 10th September, the strength of the troop having been increased to 160 men and 204 horses. Except myself and thirteen men, the troop was never engaged with the enemy during the war.

            In the beginning of 1853 the troop was removed from Rangoon to Prome, a large town about 200 miles up the river Irrawaddy, where it remained until the beginning of 1854, when the Burmese came to terms. Garrisons were placed along the frontiers of Burmah Proper and our newly acquired province, viz., Pegu[44] or Lower Burmah, which was formerly an independent kingdom rich in timber and rice. The troop was then ordered down to Rangoon en route back to Madras. We accordingly embarked in July in one vessel which was more than sufficient to carry back all that remained of the troop after two years of service in Burmah. The climate did not agree with the horses especially; and those alive, about thirty, when the men embarked were left behind for the use of the Foot Artillery. These soon died also, besides forty more sent over from Madras, which had joined the troop while at Prome. Exposure to the heavy and constant rain, in the open night and day during the monsoon was the principal cause of such heavy losses in horse flesh. About thirty of the men also died of dysentery, fever, and cholera; many more were sent home to Madras, being unable to do their duty suffering from various forms of disease.

            During the two years in Burmah, the married men had to remit a part of their pay to support their families who were left behind at Saint Thomas’s. While at Prome I was sent in command of a detachment of about a dozen gunners of the troop, to assist in manning the rockets, guns, mortars and act as cavalry, or drive a couple of teams of gun horses in an expedition against a noted Burmese leader[45] in the Province of Donabew[46], on the river Irrawaddy, between Rangoon and Prome. I gained much credit for the manner I conducted the duties of my little band. The force had very hard marching and severe fighting in the midst of dense jungles, losing about two hundred officers and men killed, including those who fell victims to disease, out of a small army of 1,500 Europeans and Sepoys of India, besides two hundred camp followers who died of cholera and hardship. The ground was, in this campaign, our bed, and the canopy of heaven our covering; hard biscuit and bad water often our only food and drink for many a long day and weary night.

            During this time I had excellent health, and although engaged a dozen times with the enemy and in close quarters too, I escaped without being wounded, being only once slightly touched on the leg, although the bullets of the enemy flew thick and fast, often whizzing close past my head, between my legs, under my arms, striking the ground at my feet, throwing the dust about in clouds, smashing the timber and bruising the iron work of the guns while in action. Imagine about 5,000 half-naked savages yelling and cheering in fancied security behind their strong and high breastworks of felled trees, laid horizontal with upright supports: frightened and wounded horses plunging and neighing in harness, draft bullocks and buffaloes bellowing and running about, wild uncontrolled, through the midst of the turmoil and uproar of battle; imagine a dense jungle in the rear and left flanks of our position covered by marshes or deep creeks of water, groans and shrieks of the wounded and dying men heard on all sides, many of them unseen through the heavy smoke of powder between the contending armies. Lastly, the British cheer on advancing to storm the position, hand-to-hand fighting, death and victory, and the final retreat of a brave enemy. Then picture to yourself the fun of all this kept up for several consecutive hours, and so often repeated in a short campaign of a little less than two months.

             As I kept notes of this campaign, I may on some future day send you a fuller account; but my exploits in China and during the mutiny will, I fear, remain a dead letter, as I unfortunately kept no daily journal. If I had done this since I left home I might have had enough of interesting matter to make a book.

            The vessel which carried the troop back to Madras made slow progress, having stormy weather, with a head-wind all the way. We were obliged to make repeated tacks to gain ground to windward. This had to be done night and day, the soldiers of the troop assisting the sailors who were natives of India.

            The distance, as the crow flies is about 1,000 miles from Madras, and instead of being only a ten-days voyage, as it was when we sailed over with a fair wind in 1852, we were just forty days crossing the Bay of Bengal on our return in 1854, with a foul wind. The consequence was we were half starved during the latter part of the voyage, being placed on short rations and water.

            Sighting the light-house of Madras on the night of the 12th August, we crossed the surf (in the usual country-boats without a tack in them) the following day, where those dear to us were ready to give us a hearty welcome. On stepping on shore the survivors of the troop had reason to be thankful for their safe return to Madras once more. We marched up to the original Saint Thomas’s Mount, a little hill, on which a Portuguese chapel has stood (eight miles distant from Madras) for centuries, and where people, even Bishop Heber, says St. Thomas the evangelist, died a martyr.

            At the base of this Hill, the Barracks have been built, and the beautiful bungalows, with gardens attached, of the officers, civil servants of Government writers, pensioners &c., occupy the plain below in a half circle. At the distance of ¾ of a mile beyond this is cultivated soil, and the open sea again 6 miles off. On the opposite side of the Hill an immense plain extends, and at 70 miles a lofty range of mountains meet the eye. In this direction, which is nearly due north, you may reach Calais opposite the cliffs of Dover by land (merely turning to the left of the Hymalian Mountains, the Northern boundary of India 28,000 feet high), walking through a few shallow rivers, and swimming through a few deep ones to effect this journey. Many other difficulties would have to be encountered, and which I am not disposed to tell you of. You can ascertain this for yourself by looking at the map.

            Barring a few casualties amongst some of the families, we had a happy meeting, and “Richard was himself again.”  I regret to say my little boy James died twenty days after I left him in 1852, about one year old; on the other hand, Thomas David was born during my absence, about seven months after I left, so I lost one and gained another.

            On account of my good conduct in Burmah I was promoted to Serjeant-Major a few weeks before leaving Rangoon, and in about a month after our arrival in Madras I was ordered to Bangalore with my family in two bullock carts, and joined my new trop, viz., the ‘E’ Troop Horse Artillery (then under command of Captain Grant) in the month of October 1854. This same Captain Grant was the officer who had command of the Horse Artillery recruits, (of which I was one) on the march from the Mount to Bangalore in 1841. He was then only a recruit himself; a fine-looking, smooth faced, delicate lad, fresh from the highlands of Scotland. At this time, viz., 1854, he had the appearance of a man of forty, being much pitted with small-pox, which he had suffered from since I last met him in 1841 his hair as grey as a badger.

            On this march which I refer to, the recruits young and wild, like unbroked colts, did as they chose; the consequence was a cart load of leg-irons and hand-cuffs were sent down from Bangalore to meet us, under the charge of an experienced officer, named MacIntyre, of the Horse Artillery, and a sergeant of the same corps, with orders from the Officer Commanding the Horse Brigade to put us all in fetters if necessary. When they arrived and enquired into our conduct, they found that the recruits were more sinned against than sinning, and that it was through the misconduct and mismanagement of half a dozen old soldiers of the Foot Artillery returning from sick leave, and who had the management of the young recruits under the young officer, who were the cause of all our mishaps.

            The story of this march alone would fill a volume, relating the fun and frolick, fighting singlehanded ourselves, and in pitched battles with the native villagers on our route.

            With my wife and two little ones, Jane and Thomas David, I found myself very comfortable with the increased pay of Serjeant-Major in my new troop. On the 5th August 1855 another son was born, whom I called Robert, after my father, instead of Robert who died in Jaulnah, on the 28th August 1851.



            The Crimean War had at this time been going on with heavy loss to the British, and more help was called for from India. The 12th Lancers, a fine body of men, then in Bangalore, were ordered to join Lord Raglan’s Army, via the Red Sea, the desert, and Egypt, under the command of Colonel Pole. They had to embark at Mangalore on the Western Coast, on the Peninsula of India, to which Port they had to travel over hills and mountains, 230 miles from Bangalore.

            I, having been used to lift horses in and out of ships and boats during my term of service, was selected to assist in embarking the 600 and odd horses of the Lancers. Within twenty-four hours notice, I once more bid my family farewell. Off I went preceding the regiment 2 days’ march, with two men, faithful and true, of my former ‘C’ Troop, which had been ordered to garrison at Bangalore soon after I left the Mount the previous year.

            This happened in January 1855, and after accomplishing my task with my usual good luck, and all the skin off my hands, pulling and dragging the horses with ropes, I returned with my two men the road I went, having had a narrow escape falling a victim to cholera; and once more joined my family. I did duty, as usual, with my new troop of Native Horse Artillery.

            On the 2nd July 1857 Janet[47] was born, and at this period came the Indian mutiny. I was at this time acting Regimental Serjeant-Major as well as Riding Master of the Horse Brigade. At this time also half of my troop was ordered off on field service with other Forces to watch the Rajah of Kurnool about 200 miles north of Bangalore, who was expected to revolt; the other half of the troop was ordered to Bengal, via Madras, where it embarked. A regiment of Native Cavalry of the Madras Presidency was also ordered to embark at the same time, but refused to go on foreign service by sea, and they were in consequence, unhorsed, disarmed, and left to follow the bent of their inclinations, i.e., to rob, to work, or to beg; while my half-troop obeyed like Europeans, disembarked at Calcutta, marched up the country close in the rear of Havelock and Neil, with the 1st Madras Fusiliers and the 78th Highlanders, gaining glory and renown, under Sir Colin Campbell at Lucknow and Cawnpore, besides having many other engagements with the enemy.

            Having the important duties of Serjeant-Major and Riding-Master to perform, I was prevented from accompanying either detachment of my troop. In a few weeks, however, I was relieved of my acting appointments, by those who were legitimately entitled to hold them, and was ordered off to join my half-troop, by this time encamped at Secunderabad in the Nizam’s Territories, and near the great city of Hyderabad, crowded by Mussulmans watching an opportunity to break out, murder the Europeans, and take possession, if possible, of the whole Peninsula of India, between the river Krishna and Cape Comorin. Secunderabad is 350 miles north of Bangalore, and the half-troop was sent there as soon as the danger was over at Kurnool.

            Taking my family with me, I marched from Bangalore in company with the Head-Quarters and Right Wing of Her Majesty’s 12th Royal Lancers, which regiment had just returned from the Crimea via the Cape of Good Hope. This was the same regiment I assisted in embarking at Bangalore in 1855.

            Marching in company with the Lancers, I had the command of about thirty Europeans (Horse Artillerymen) and forty-six horses, with a corresponding number of Native horse-keepers and grass-cutters destined to join the European A. Troop of Horse Artillery at Secunderabad, where an army was being organized for a campaign against the mutineers in Bengal. On the march from Bangalore with the Lancers, and on arrival on the banks of the river Tumboodra, near Kurnool, a telegraph message was received from the General commanding the troops at Secunderabad, ordering Serjeant-Major Dinwiddie to quit company with the Lancers, who were to follow by regular marches, and push on by forced marches to Secunderabad with the detachment of European Horse Artillery, horses only.

            I started the same night, leaving my family to follow in company with the families of the Lancers, and by making four marches every twenty-four hours, I reached Secunderabad (distance 150 miles) in four days, when I delivered over my charge, and joined my own half-troop then commanded by Captain Nuttall at Secunderabad. In nineteen days after this my family joined me, and we commenced house-keeping again.

This was on the 19th January 1858, having left Bangalore on the 25th November 1857. On the 30th of the same month, viz., January 1858, another telegraph message came from the Horse Artillery Head-Quarters, Bangalore, ordering me to join another Native troop of Horse Artillery, the ‘F’ troop, under the command of Major Brice, then en route to join Major-General Whitlock’s Army destined to quell the mutiny in Central India and which was at this time assembling at Kampti [Kamthi].

            So, leaving my family behind, I was off the next day having a good horse to ride, a groom to look after him and my accoutrements, and who also acted as cook and grass-cutter as we marched along, and a strong bullock with driver, to carry my baggage, cooking utensils &c., all of which I was entitled to free of expense from the Government; I had only to add a few rupees to my servant’s wages for any extra help, and purchase my own food on the way from day to day. Fortunately Mrs. Dinwiddie had provided me with a good stock of cooking requisites, such as flour, ghee (melted butter), salt-fish, and dried meat, commonly called Ding-Ding. Had this forethought and provision not been made, my fare on the way would have been spare indeed, as I found the villagers near the road had no poultry, or anything else convertible into food, which would be the equivalent of a soldier’s rations to me, except their lean cattle, which they had in abundance, and half-starved dogs and cats. Rice was the only article of food I could procure. All other edibles had been used up by the different regiments, which had recently passed through the same country on account of the mutiny in Bengal.

            For eight days and nights I pushed along three or four marches daily, all alone through a dangerous country, when I overtook the ‘A’ Troop European Horse Artillery, under the command of Major Maine, at a town called Unkree, on the north side of the Neermul mountains, between Secunderabad and Kampti, one of the ten thousand spots on the map of India infested by tigers, &c. I forget the distance I travelled over in this fashion before joining the European troop, but I well recollect myself, horse, pack-bullocks, and servants were all knocked up with the over-marching and want of sleep; so much so, that the servants begged earnestly for only one hour’s rest, and would have gladly laid down in the middle of the road. We at this moment of distress from want of sleep and rest, met a native villager, and on enquiry, learned that the camp was not far distant. This villager had been sent out to look for a horse that had gone astray, having broken loose from his picket the previous evening and disappeared in the jungle. On topping the highest peak of the mountains in half an hour after I met the native villager, I had the pleasure of beholding the watch-fires of the encamping ground and reached the tents of my countrymen (some of whom I knew) at about two o’clock in the morning. In consequence of the escape of the horse above-mentioned, the European troop did not march till next morning, which was fortunate for myself and my small party, as we had time to recoup our strength, and started quite refreshed at three o’clock the following morning with the ‘A’ Troop, Madras Horse Artillery.

            Besides native villagers being sent out by the headman of the village of Unkree, a party of Europeans had likewise gone out to look for the stray horse, when one of the men was similarly lost in the jungle. Our anxiety was redoubled now, and after a fruitless search during daylight and the firing of signal guns with a view to let him know the direction of the camp, he was left to his fate in the dense jungles. The lost horse, however, was found. The troop now marched on, not daring to delay any longer, such was the importance of time during the Indian mutiny.

            It was supposed the lost man, named Thomas had been devoured by tigers, but fortunately he found his way to the town of Neermul, fifteen miles in our rear, and in about a week he joined his comrades well and hearty, bringing his horse which he rode from camp, with him. He stated that he merely lost his way in the dense jungles and was now glad to see his friends again. Having no duty to perform with this troop, I jogged along comfortably, arriving with it at Kamptee in due course, where we halted for repairs &c., for about five days; the rough uneven roads uphill and down-dale, crossing stony ravines and rocky beds of rivers, shattered the wheels of the guns and wagons so much as to make them almost unfit for field service. This was remedied by the assistance received from the Arsenal of Nagpore [Nagpur], 10 miles from Kamptee. Our next point towards the country of the mutineers was Jubbulpore [Jabalpur], about 170 miles north of Kamptee. Here we were joined by more troops, including a siege train drawn by elephants. We could lose no time, so pushed on to join General Whitlock’s army, waiting for us at Dumoh [Damoh], eighty miles to the westward of Jubbulpore.

            Here I first took up my proper appointment, as Serjeant-Major of the ‘F’ Troop, Native horse Artillery, on the 13th March 1858. I was now 1,100 miles from Bangalore, my starting point, on the 25th November of the previous year. This ‘F’ Troop had been doing duty as part of the peaceful Garrison of Hyderabad, some years previously to the braking out of the Mutiny, and had now been pushed on before other troops which had a long march to perform from the coast, and arrived a few weeks previous to the other divisions of the Force, which had now joined it, viz., Infantry and Cavalry, the 12th Lancers and Major Mackentyr’s Native Horse, or Hyderabad Contingent, had also arrived at this place about a month previously to check the mutineers in their depredations on the frontier of Bundelcund, adjoining Bengal.

            Major Brice, now Major-General, was, as I mentioned above, in command of the ‘F’ Troop of which I had now the honor to be Serjeant-Major. The Serjeant-Major of a Regiment, Troop, or Company, of whatever branch of the Military Service, of a Nation or Kingdom to which he may belong, is the mainstay of discipline and order. He stands between his Commanding Officer and those under him as a guiding agent in the matter of discipline; a good Sergeant-Major is therefore an invaluable officer, and knowing Major Brice as Lieutenant and Adjutant of the Horse Brigade at Bangalore in 1844, I felt quite at home in my new troop, and exerted myself accordingly to conduct the duties of my station, in the office; or the more important duties, on the march in the camp, or in the Field of Battle, to the honor of all concerned and to my own credit.

            To show you that all native troops during this time were not in open mutiny, I may mention that this very ‘F’ Troop when under the Command of Major Brice, in Secunderabad, was the means, under his well ordered plans, of keeping the large city of Hyderabad in awe and order, and under Providence, saved also the southern part of India from the fate of Bengal. For this important service, I believe, Major Brice received his military honors, and now, 1864, holds a good situation as Inspector of Artillery. Just think of the respect the native Musselmen[48] of this Troop must have held their Commanding Officer in, when they fired at and killed a number of their own caste and countrymen at a moment when the whole city of fanatics were ready to break out at the slightest success of their leaders, and murder every man, woman, and child of European descent belonging to the garrison of Secunderabad, which is situated a few miles from the Residence of their King or Rajah, the Nizam. If the Sepoys in Hyderabad city had not been held in check by this native troop at this critical moment, the entire people of the country from Cape Comorin to the river Nurbuddah [Nerbudda], might have committed themselves, under the example of the Madras Native Army, which had been hourly expected to break out in open rebellion as had been the case in Bengal, in May and June the preceding year, viz., 1857.

            The abovementioned timely check kept the rebellious men within the city walls, and Major Brice for his successful tact in due time received as I have mentioned, his reward viz., a C.B[49].

            I had at this time acquired a little knowledge of the Hindustanee language, and was able to make myself understood, when coming in contact with the Sepoys of my troop; hence I had no difficulty in doing my duty to the satisfaction of the Commanding-Officer, the 115 men which composed the troop, and myself.

            When the Army under General Whitlock was complete in men and material, it moved forward on the 20th March, and, although a small army compared to those of Napoleon and Wellington, yet we felt confident in our leader and marched cheerfully on, sanguinely to meet the foe.

            At Jubbulpore we first beheld the depredations of the mutineers, who had burnt down and destroyed all that they thought useful to the Government and, marching towards the centre of Bengal en route to Delhi, had laid waste and burned down as much of Government property as they had time to do to on their line of march. I have referred to one Bengal Regiment only, the one which garrisoned Jubbulpore a few months previous to our arrival there. We passed through villages en route, but no living soul was to be seen in the villages near our line of march; except a few old men and women who were unable to leave their houses, all others who could shift for themselves unaided had, together with their cattle &c., hid themselves in the distant jungles, and hills in the neighbourhood, in the same way as did the Covenanters in the days of Charles the First, and Claverhouse[50] in persecuted Scotland. These poor innocent inhabitants not knowing whether we were marching through their country as friends or foes.

            General Whitlock left Dumoh on the 20th March 1858, and after harassing and long marches day and night, we arrived at the scene of the action, engaged with, and defeated the enemy three times by the 19th of the following month, in spite of our hardships and fatigue, having travelled over about 200 miles of rough roads, through extensive plains, and over rocky mountains in Bundelcund.

            The Battle of Bandah was fought on the 19th April, one only of the hundreds fought during the Indian Mutiny, by the different divisions of the British Forces, separated from each other at varying distances from 20 to 1500 miles, and located at all points of the compass, from Barrackpore, near Calcutta where the mutiny first commenced, to Lucknow, Delhi, Guylore, and the frontiers of the Punjab.

            The enemy, at the battle of Bandah numbered about 12,000, having numerous guns, well manned by old Artillerymen of the late E.I. Company’s army, also mutineer Sepoys acting as Infantry and Cavalry, well mounted, armed with swords and fusils, taken from the magazines and barracks, without the lawful permission of their owners, viz., “John Company” as the Europeans and Natives irreverently called our first Governing Constitution in India. General Whitlock’s force numbered under 4,000, half of whom were Natives of the Madras Presidency, and the other half Europeans. Expecting a night attack on the 18th, we were under arms at sun-set, and moved a few miles out of Camp, where we formed up in “battle array” and remained so till near daylight the following morning, when we advanced upon, and engaged with the enemy, completely routing them by noon of the same day.

            You must excuse for obvious reasons, my not going into the details of the carnage. Suffice it to say, I escaped unhurt, and right or wrong, laid seven mutineers low in the dust that day with my sword and pistol alone. Major Brice, early in the morning had given me the command of a Brigade of guns, hence how many more I had been instrumental in killing at long range that day with shot and shell I cannot tell. God forgive me if I did more than my duty. It must be recollected the foe we engaged with here, were many of them the same who spared not the men, women, and children of the Europeans who fell into their hands at the massacre at Cawnpore. No doubt you have heard of the circumstances connected with the death of so many helpless men, women, and children I allude to. We were now within a short distance of that town, (40 miles) as the crow flies.

            The day after the battle we entered the city of Bandah, took possession of the palace of the Rajah, who had made his escape the previous day. The British colours were hoisted in due form, and the usual search for treasure made by the prize agents. A great quantity of money, jewels and valuable property was found, a small portion of which I hope to receive as prize-money, perhaps some years hence.

            Our army encamped in the open country round the city, and were obliged to wait for some weeks to allow reinforcements to join us from the low country, as much work in the destruction of human life had to be done. In the meanwhile, prisoners and suspected persons from the surrounding country were brought into camp, tried, and if found guilty, hanged at once.

            I have seen nine native officers and Sepoys (rebels) hanging by the neck at the same time from the branches of a single tree in the centre of our camp, who on their trial had apparently felt little concern about their fate. Those blown away from guns and shot by musketry by hundreds, after due trial by the Military authorities in different parts of India, met their death, as seemed to us, as true Musselmans or Brahmins, and considered their fate, no doubt, as the fate of true martyrs. So sanguine were they in this matter that even the women have been known to volunteer to share the same fate as their husbands, their fathers, or brothers.

            The hot season of the year had now set in, and many of our men, Europeans and Natives, died in camp from the effects of sun-stroke. Cholera, Dysentry and Fever also did their work. Strange to say our sufferings should be enhanced now, while during the excitement on the line of march and hard work, comparatively few casualties from the same cause occurred.

            Bandah (when the Mutiny broke out) had a garrison, composed principally of Native troops, commanded by European officers. It also contained civil residents comprising Government employees, who lived in peace and comfort previous to the mutiny in Bandah. Now all was desolation, the withering blast of the Mutiny was stamped on every thing; officers’ bungalows, once like little palaces with their neat inclosures and gardens, were now a mass of burnt ruins, the ghostly walls alone standing, to denote the place where so and so, with his wife and little ones once lived in peace and comfort; believing the Sepoys “true to their allegiance.”  They only proved, however, faithful in every point to-day; and treacherous demons the next, who took delight in imbruing their hands in the blood of the infidel dogs or Fringhees, as the natives call the Europeans. The church of Bandah, once a beautiful building had not a door or window left, all had been destroyed or carried away; and the grave-stones and monuments in the burial ground were broken to pieced, or turned upside down.

             On the 13th March, the same day I joined the army at Domah, I had been unexpectedly and without previous knowledge (at the time being above 1,000 miles distant) appointed Adjutant of a Native Regiment, to be formed at Palavarum, near Madras: and which was to be called the “1st Pegu Police Battalion” after the name of the province annexed from Burmah in 1853, and to number 1,227 bayonets, viz., 64 havildars, 63 naigues [naiks], 1,100 privates, besides 10 Europeans, non-commissioned officers (Sergeant-Majors) one for each company, the same number of native officers, 22 buglers, 22 water-carriers, 10 lascars, 3 artificers, and 2 chucklers; besides, recruit and pension boys, to be added as casualties occurred, that is, when the father of a family having a son, died while in the service, his eldest son received as pay Rs. 3-8. The whole force to be commanded by an officer of the Line, he having only two subordinate officers to assist him, viz., an Adjutant and a Quarter-Master, who were to be taken from the non-commissioned or Warrant Grade of the European portion of the Madras Army, and on whom would fall all the official and heavy duties, drill, &c., of the regiment.

            The news of this “good fortune” came to me while I lay stretched at full length one hot day in the beginning of May (I forget the exact date) on my narrow, hard bed in my tent, covered over with at least one-sixteenth of an inch of hot sand. The wind had been blowing hot and strong, as usual, in this part of India at this time of year, and the tents were hot and not sand-proof. When we found that a little rest was necessary, we laid down shutting our eyes, and letting the dust fall where it thought proper, (for some part of the tent must be kept open for light and air) which had no respect of persons, officers and men being served alike. As soon as the sun declined daily, all this misery ceased also, and we slept sound at night if we had nothing else to attend to.

            The above appointment, I may mention, had been conferred on me as a reward for my previous good conduct and services in China in 1842-43, in Burmah 1852-53, and in performing my duties properly in peaceful Garrison routine in India during 17 years. For my being brought to the notice of the Government, in the first instance, I have to thank our dear late father, through Colonel Sheriff, whose wife was related to Lauderdale Maitland, our father’s landlord, secondly, my good friend Mr. Pritchard (uncle to my late wife), backed by my former recommendations from several officers, and last but not least, Colonel F. Burgoyne, at this time (1865) in command of the Madras Horse Artillery, of which splendid corps (equal to any Horse Artillery in the world) I was then one of the six troop Sergeant-Majors, the Madras Horse Brigade of Artillery being then composed of four European and two Native troops, forming a regiment of about 800 officers and men and 1,000 horses.

            Mrs. Dinwiddie, being at this time in Secunderabad, was the first to write and tell me of the good tidings of my appointment as Adjutant, which at once placed me on an equality with the officers of the Commissioned ranks. The following mail brought the Government Gazette, and then I saw my appointment in print. In a day or two, subsequent to the arrival of the Gazette in camp, I was put in orders to proceed   forthwith and take up my appointment at Pallavaram, marching via Futtypore [Fatehpur], Allahabad, Benares, Calcutta, and by the mail steamer from the latter city to Madras.

            Previous to finally quitting my troop; it was ordered out one morning, with a few of the 12th Lancers to reconnoitre the surrounding country, and to let the villagers know that they would be protected from the rebels, provided they would stay at home and cultivate the soil as heretofore. This being done, after a few hours fast riding, with the guns and Cavalry across country, we were on our way home, when an accident occurred, which proved more dangerous than the field of battle, viz., the blowing up of a gun-limber full of shot, shell and powder.

            On the leading gun-limber two unfortunate natives sat, whom we had taken with us from Bandah as guides to show the way from village to village. The ground was rough over which we passed at a quick pace, this shook the limber boxes in which was packed the ammunition, which ignited through friction, a rather uncommon occurrence, but it should be remembered the weather was very hot. The ammunition had been carefully packed a few days previously. First a single loud report was heard, when we looked over our shoulders to see what was the cause; quick as thought three shells burst in succession. The next moment, the guides before-mentioned were blown up in the air, torn into pieces, their clothing on fire, portions of their bodies, being afterwards found half-roasted; the guns and cavalry, which were all in the rear had timely seen the danger, and halted. The six horses, yoked to the doomed limber, two of them within a yard of it, on the first report rushed to the front in terror, the drivers having no control over them, and they were only brought to a stand, when the pole horses sank exhausted, having been burnt by the explosion and wounded by the splinters of the carriage and limber, which were blown to a thousand pieces.

            Major Brice who commanded the party, and who was selected for this duty, on account of his knowledge of the language, Lieutenant Sewel, one of the subalterns of the Native troops, the Quarter-Master Sergeant and myself were riding close in front of the leading horses. On the report of the explosion, our horses also stretched out at a full gallop in terror, but were closely followed by the exploding limber. We expected to have our bodies riddled by balls or splinters of wood and iron. In this case the strongest resistance to the force of the powder was from below, viz., from the strong frame of the carriage and axle-tree-bed on which the two ammunition boxes were fixed, the consequence was, all the missiles of danger flew, sloping upwards over our heads, so we in front escaped uninjured: but the leading driver at the moment he was looking over his shoulder was struck on the mouth by a stray foot of one of the unfortunate guides, his lips were swollen for a few days; the centre driver, next in the rear, died of wounds received in his skull and neck; the pole driver, recovered of his wounds, which were (wonderful to say) very slight, he being next to the guides at a distance of two yards. One pole horse was shot to put him out of misery, the other five were soon fit for duty, a new limber was supplied from the large Park of Artillery, packed as its predecessor with ammunition, and the gun was again ready for action in a few hours after the accident. I shall always remember the blowing up of the limber, and thank God I escape. The families of the guides were paid a certain sum of money as compensation, and the widow of the unfortunate driver pensioned for life.

             Major Brice had, previous to the accident of the limber, been suffering from his chest and the extreme heat; he was now unable to do effective duty, so his Medical man recommended a change of climate. Doctor Ford doing duty with the force, was also seriously ill at the same time, thus they both left the Army a few days after the limber affair on sick leave to Madras, to enjoy the cool and bracing breeze of the Neilgherry [Nilgiri] Hills; I was likewise ordered to accompany the two sick officers, and have an eye to their wants as far as Madras, and then join my new appointment at Palavaram. Accordingly I bid farewell to camp life for a time, and made the best of my way down the valley of the Ganges to Calcutta.

            On the 13th May 1858, I mounted my horse, which was kindly lent me from the troop, till I reached the railway station at Futtypore, 50 miles distant from Bandah. The officers were too weak to ride, and had to be carried by bearers in hospital doolies, in which they could lie down at full stretch and go to sleep when so inclined. The country we had to travel over was far from being safe, so we were escorted by some Native Cavalry belonging to a regiment in our camp. Of course they could be depended upon.

            Marching at sun-set we arrived on the banks of the river Jumna by daylight the following morning, hurrying on, during the darkness of the night, and passing over 32 miles of good road. The officers crossed in boats kept ready for the purpose; the escort returned to Bandah, and leading my horse on to a raft, I was afloat on deep water. By the time we crossed the river the sun had risen, and the officers must seek shelter during the heat of the day, and wait till fresh dooly bearers could be sent from Futteypore, 18 miles further on. We felt pretty safe on this side of the river, as detachments of our army, under Lord Clyde, were not far off. Half of the ‘E’ Native Troop, Madras Horse Artillery, of which I was Serjeant-Major when the mutiny broke out, was watching one of the fords of the Jumna, only 8 miles from where I crossed it, but I had no time to go and see my old comrades.

            Major Brice and Doctor Ford waited close to a village, on the banks of the river, till I joined them, my raft being slower in crossing than the boats. On coming to the doolies Major Brice informed me that the dooly bearers were knocked up and could proceed no further, and requested me to push on to Futteypore, present his compliments to General Carthew, commanding the station, and ask him to send fresh dooly bearers.

            The Major gave me a bottle of ale from under his pillow and some biscuits. This was very acceptable after a night’s ride of 32 miles. A good drink of the Jumna water put metal in the heels of my Bay charger, and he carried me 18 miles further with ease, the greater part of the distance at a gallop. General Carthew gave me a smart trotting horse, and a light buggy or gig instead of dooly bearers to bring the sick officers up from the river; so leaving my hungry horse in car of the General’s grooms, I was in a few minutes far away on my return to the river, and by noon found the two invalids cool and comfortable in a Native bungalow in a small village, close on the side of the high road, and about one mile from the river.

            The arrangements now made were very satisfactory to all parties. Major Brice and Doctor Ford would drive to the General’s quarters in the cool of the afternoon in the buggy. I was to be carried there in a dooly, the bearers having had a long rest during the heat of the day. By sunset on the evening of the 14th we were all safe in General Carthew’s compound with a well-furnished table to refresh the “inner man,” and from this day forth the convalescents I had charge of on the way, gradually recovered. The following day the doolies, the bearers, and my charger were sent back to camp at Bandah, and we prepared to start by the lately finished Railway, for the great city of Allahabad, distant 88 miles from Futteypore, and which we reached on the afternoon of the 16th May. The railway runs close to the Grand Trunk Road, leading all the way from Calcutta to Delhi, but at this time it was incomplete in many parts, railways and telegraph wires having only been commenced by the exertions of the Governor-General, the great Dalhousie, a year or two before the mutiny broke out.

            Arriving at Allahabad we took lodgings at a hotel for the night, and early on the following morning, 17th, were on our way to Calcutta in horse daks, 4-wheeled carriages drawn at a gallop by two screws of half-horse, half-pony, which were changed every 5 or 6 miles. On leaving Allahabad, we crossed the Ganges (at this time) by means of a bridge-of-boats. Just below the bridge the Jumna adds its waters to that of the Ganges, the city being built close to the junction of the two sacred rivers, which unitedly flow on to the Bay of Bengal, a mighty stream, enriching an immense extent of soil, and giving depth and breadth of water to float the hundreds of merchant vessels then on the port of Calcutta waiting for cargo.

            At Allahabad reports reached us that Maun Sing, a native rebel chief, had crossed the Grand Trunk Road with a large force of our late faithful Sepoys, and had taken up a position among the hills and jungles, about 40 miles from Allahabad, or half way between that city and Benares. This news was not at all pleasant, as we might be caught by some of his scouts, and then woe be to us. “Fortune favours the brave,” however; so on we went, and on arrival at the part of the road crossed by Maun Sing, we found he had burnt down the Government travellers bungalow, carried off all the dak horses that he could lay hands on, and made the best of his way out of danger, as a division of the British Army who had witnessed his proceedings was on his track at no great distance.

            Immediately after Maun Sing had left the district, no time was lost by the authorities in fitting up a temporary shelter for travellers, and fresh horses and ponies supplied for the dak carriages, so by the time we reached the spot, we were able to get a hot meal, a couple of hours rest, and start off again at a gallop to the sacred city of Benares, about 50 miles further on.

            On our arrival at Benares, we had no time to stay and have a look at the famed city, but pushed on night and day, 479 miles to Raneegunge, 120 miles from Calcutta, where we again met the railway, and slept for the night near the station. The log journey was over in a few hours the following morning, and glad were we and thankful we had had such a prosperous time of it, threading our way so far down the country, which was even then so much in the power of the mutineers.

            The only accident which happened to us on the way was the breaking of the tyre of one of the wheels of the carriage in which the sick officers were conveyed. This happened late in the evening the same day we left Benares, the 17th. I happened to be close in rear with my conveyance, having one for my own use paid for by the Government.

            On the break down of their coach, seeing the desponding state of the officers, my gallant heart soon thought of a remedy, and I gave up my own sound coach for their use. The exchange of carriages enabled the officers to run off at a high speed without 5 minutes loss of time, leaving me in the heart of the jungle all night, keeping guard over the broken-down coach single-handed. The driver and horse-keeper had to go back 5 miles with the broken wheel, before they could get a blacksmith to weld the tyre on again, so it was long after daylight on the following morning, the 18th, when I started to overtake my sick charge; this, however, I could not manage to do, for although we had fully 400 miles to travel over, they reached Raneegunge on the 20th, some hours before I did after a 3-days hard chase.

            I felt rather proud in having an opportunity of seeing Calcutta, the far-famed “city of palaces,” and as the mail steamer had left the river a day or two before we arrived, we had about 13 days to spare, as we must needs remain in Calcutta till the next bi-monthly mail steamer was ready to start with the English mail, calling at Madras on her way to Suez. Major Brice and Dr. Ford during the time they remained in Calcutta put up at a 2nd class hotel, and I at a 3rd class, where I had a clean bed, and two good meals a day. For this accommodation £4.10 per mensem was charged. This I considered a very low rate for so much comfort.

            Being settled down at the hotel, I lost no time in going “to and fro” sight-seeing. Fourteen miles to Barrackpore, where the Indian mutiny first shewed itself in 1857 was the furthest point I reached by rail, and water; then Dum-Dum, the headquarters of the Bengal Artillery. At this time, May 1858, the barracks at Dum-Dum, 14 miles from Calcutta, were fully occupied by the wives and children of the Artillerymen, who were then manning the guns at Delhi, Lucknow, and other important places of attack and defence far up in the interior of the North-Western Provinces. Hundreds of these poor women, alas!, were destined to be widows, and the children orphans before the mutiny was put down.

            I paid a visit to Serampore, the head-quarters of the Baptist Missionaries; also Howrah, where the great E.I. Railway station is erected, both on the opposite side of the river; then I must needs see the place where the Black Hole of Calcutta was once upon a time. The numerous ships in the river were a sight to see after I had been so long up-country. Many of the ships had no cargo at this time, and hundreds of the sailors had left their vessels and had proceeded hundreds of miles up the country, to fight against the murderous Sepoys. They were allowed to volunteer their services, and were well paid by Government.

            Fort William and Garden Reach next had the honour of my presence, and finally venturing up to the top of Ochtaloney’s pillar or monument, erected on the spacious maiden, by a spiral staircase, I had the whole of the “city at my feet” as it were, in one grand view. The palace of the Governor-General (then Lord Canning) not far distant, was unoccupied at the time, so I walked through the “ pictured and carpeted rooms and trod the marbled halls.”   European soldier and his wife had charge of the interior of this great building, and a few faithful Sepoys walked “sentry-go” at the several gates, armed with the ram-rod of their fusil, which latter had been taken from them to save them from committing themselves, as their comrades had done up the country. A few long walks through the principal streets to see the churches, hospitals, colleges, schools, shops, mosques, temples, &c., &c., and a few longer drives here and there, in a two-pony carriage, also a few pleasant rides in a palanqueen, carried by 8 coolies on their shoulders, made the time of our stay pass quickly away, till the mail steamer was ready to take us to Madras.

            Having secured a Pass-ticket to Madras on the steamer Bentink of the P. and O. Company, went on board on the evening of the 5th June 1858, and on the 6th we were in charge of a pilot to take us down the Hoogly [Hooghly] delta of the river Ganges, into the Bay of Bengal. Six pleasant days’ voyage brought me once more within view of the horrid Surf, which I had now to cross in the usual Muscular [Macula] boat, for the sixth time during my service in India.

            Safe on shore once more I made my way to the house of my wife’s cousin, Quarter-Master Serjeant Dela Hoyde[51], Governor’s bodyguard, paid a visit to my wife’s uncle Mr Pritchard, Veterinary Surgeon of the bodyguard, who was preparing to embark for England, and who in half an hour after my visit, left his house to go on board the same steamer I had just left. I now found my way to a European shop on the Madras “Pall Mall” to procure a suitable our-fit for myself to give me the appearance of a gentleman and officer in the gallant Madras Army.

            This done, in the company of Captain Jessie Mitchell of the Madras Mounted Police, my former Serjeant-Major in the ‘C’ Troop, Horse Artillery, I was ready to start on the following morning, the 13th June, to drive up to Palavarum, 12 miles, and report myself to Major H. W. Blake of the 36th Regiment N.I., who had been appointed Commandant of the 1st. Pegu Police Battalion, to be organized for service in British Burmah.

            On the 13th at my final destination, I had the pleasure to meet the Major, and I believe I made a good impression on him by my plain soldier-like way of conversation, and we continued fast friends from that date. I had now to forget my duties as an artilleryman, and study Infantry drill and manoeuvres in real interest.

            Previous to my commencing my duties as Adjutant I had to go and meet my wife and family, then on their way to join me from Secunderabad, 360 miles distant, where I had left them when I started for Bengal at the beginning of the year.

            The leave I had asked for being cheerfully granted, back to Madras I came again the same day, and by midnight I had the good fortune to greet my dear wife and four children at a town called Nellore, 100 miles from madras, having travelled that distance cramped up on the top of the Government mail cart. Previous to my mounting the mail cart I had been well supplied with a stock of provisions for the journey by Mrs. Dela Hoyde, destined to be my second wife as time revealed, for in 1860 I became a widower, and she a widow, her husband having died in Madras and my wife in Burmah. However, it was not until the 30th of March 1864, we joined the two orphan families together, viz., 1 daughter and 3 sons each, still alive at the time I am writing, 1878, and doing well, thank God for all His mercies.

            We remained at Nellore in the traveller’s bungalow till the 15th, and made the best of our way in two bullock carts in 10 days to our new home in a snug little dwelling in the Cantonment of Palavaram, a clean, healthy, pleasant place, where we passed our time very comfortably till the month of September of the same year, when our domestic happiness was again interrupted.




            Having raised about 550 men by enlistment, and volunteers from 40 different regiments of the Madras Native Army, the Government thought our regiment strong enough to take up the duties allotted to it in Burmah, and we accordingly prepared to embark at Madras in three transport ships chartered for the purpose, viz., the Blue Rock, Statesman, and India, all sailing vessels.

            The bugles sounded loud and long at 10 o’clock at night on the 15th September 1858, and by midnight the first Pegu Police Battalion (afterwards changed to the first Pegu Sapper Battalion) was on the march with knapsack on back and haversack by the side of each sepoy. Major Blake led the van, and his Adjutant brought up the rear, both mounted on horses lent to us by our friends for the occasion, for we had to look for “horse flesh” on our arrival at our destination in Burmah. Soon after the last of the long column of four deep cleared the Cantonment of Saint Thomas’ Mount, 8 miles from Madras, a black cloud broke over our heads, and rain poured down in torrents, our path became dark as pitch, the thunder rolled and pealed over our devoted heads, and except when the lightening flashed, we could not see an inch in front, all was darkness, rain and tempest.

            Fortunately Major Blake had a lantern to guide the leading Section, so we found our way to Madras at break of day, cold, wet and hungry, much in want of a strong “peg” or a cup of hot coffee. Having fortified the “inner man” on our arrival here, we commenced to embark. Every man was safe on board in a few hours, except one Native officer, whose carelessness to be present in time forfeited him his commission and was dismissed the service. We set sail, and I bid good-bye to Madras for 5 years. In ten days, the three transports arrived safe at the Irrawaddy river, opposite Rangoon city, 25 miles from the sea. I have to remark that for the first time, in this instance, Sepoys were allowed to take their families with them when ordered on foreign service. This was done with a view to encourage the men to remain in Burmah, after they were entitled to pension, and settle there for life, colonizing the country as much as possible, where there is so much spare rich soil to cultivate.

            As soon as the ships had cast anchor on the 16th, a fleet of Burmese boats was along side, into which the Sepoys, 550, with their wives, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and other relations, too, more distantly connected, making 518 – in all 1,068, were in a few minutes closely packed, and on the following day, the 17th, our fleet of boats set sail for Shoaygheen[52], a town on the banks of the Sittang river, about 200 miles from Rangoon.

            During our short stay in Rangoon, the Commissariat Department had to supply each boat (numbering over 100) with sea rations to last 20 days; on arrival in Rangoon not one man, woman, or child was allowed to set foot on shore. The boats were told off into three divisions, Major Blake had the first, the Adjutant the second, and the Quarter-Master, (Mr Clarke) the third, and all went on as “merry as a marriage bell” on our voyage; plenty to eat, fresh water to drink, nothing to do but catch fish in the rivers and creeks of water which led across the country, or shoot wild ducks and other waterfowls found in abundance all the way up to our future home in the interior of the old kingdom of Pegu, where we arrived on the 1st October 1858 during the heavy rains.

            The first important act on my arrival at Shoaygheen, which signifies “the country of gold” was the purchase of a respectable dwelling-house which cost me £150 or Rs. 1500. This was about the middle of October 1858, the first and last time I ever could say I owned household property. Settling down with my family very comfortably, I enjoyed my own house for about 3 years. Again I was compelled to forego domestic bliss in my own little dwelling. The head-quarters of the Regiment was ordered down the country to Moulmien to relieve the 32nd Madras N.I., commanded by Colonel Gordon, which regiment had been ordered back to the Coromandel Coast, Madras. So I had to abandon my beautiful dwelling. The two companies of European Artillery and also the detachment of European Artillery had also been withdrawn from garrisoning the station, so that I could not obtain supervision, and my property went to the bad. I was lucky getting Rs. 500 for it in 1866; those who lived in it always managing to withhold the rent to pay for repairs.

            I had a great deal to contend with during my three years’ stay in Shoaygheen; all the hard work and most of the responsibility fell on me as Adjutant. The Regiment had to be drilled, clothed, and disciplined; pay had to be drawn, muster rolls and acquittance books had to be kept, and all the different records, just the same as a regular regiment with 24 officers. No less than 7 detachments were stationed out in the jungles from head-quarters; all these had to be fed, so much pay had to be recovered, for each man for extra food, guards had to be sent out in all directions, escorting the pay and rations; the sick had to be brought home, healthy men sent out to those numerous panchayats[53], to try prisoners, and a host of other duties to attend to; besides parades, drills and guard-mounting every morning.

            The Commanding Officer was seldom at home at the head-quarters, as his time was taken up almost continually visiting his out-posts. The Quarter-Master fell sick, went on leave, and only returned to die!  Poor fellow. Another Quarter-Master was ordered all the way from Madras, but in the meantime I had to do all his duties and did them too “with a heart and will”, month after month in succession. While, on the march in the dense jungles many Sepoys died, some were carried away by tigers, even the Cantonment was not safe; as one night soon after I had retired to bed, a favourite dog of mine was carried off from the verandah. We heard the rush and noise, a yelp or two from the poor creature: in a few seconds all was over; but we dared not open the door that night.  Tigers were killed by the Burmese in the jungle and brought into Cantonments for exhibition, stretched out on a bullock cart. I paid half a rupee one day to let the children have a look at a dead tiger.

            Then our Doctor, Munro, died, my Serjeant-Major, McDermot died, our Quarter-Master’s wife and son died; and last, my own wife died, 13th March 1860, and left me with five children, and to add to my embarrassment, a baby 3 months old.

            In about a year after this calamity, the station was ordered to be abandoned altogether, leaving only a few companies of sepoys to garrison Shoaygheen, so it fell to my task to dismantle the fort and drag the long, heavy guns down the hill, a long mile to the river Sittang; and then from a low jetty I managed with the assistance of the sepoys alone, and bales of sepoys’ clothing, to lower those heavy guns into the bottom of Burmese boats without any accident. This work was done in July and August 1861. (I may here mention my promotion to a Lieutenancy on the 28th June of this year 1861.)  The gun carriages were all taken to pieces, and packed with the guns for the arsenal at Rangoon. The ammunition in barrels, shot, shells, canister, tents, and every imaginable thing, loading 40 large sized boats. I had to make out indents on the commissariat department for those boats, and an agent had been sent down from Tonghoo to pay the boatmen and otherwise assist me. The above would have been the work of the Quarter-Master, but the new one had also fallen sick soon after he joined us from Madras, and had left on sick leave to Moulmein. Hence the task fell upon me. They say, “the more duty the more honour,” and as I had health and strength to do it, I felt proud of the thanks I received for doing my duty.  

            On the 20th August, the head-quarters and 7 companies embarked in boats for Moulmein. In September I settled down in Moulmein, in a rented bungalow, and sent my five children to a boarding school where they were well-cared for. Moulmein is a pleasant spot to live in, 25 miles from the open sea at Amherst. Here, there is beautiful scenery of wood, hill and dale, approaching the town, and extending as far as the eye can reach.

            The Salween river is here a broad, deep stream, and since the first Burmese war in 1824, has been a British seaport, utilised for floating down Teak timber from the forests in the interior, far away up among the Karrien [Karen] and Shan mountains. Through these rivers force their way with the timber rafts for the numerous shipping waiting for it at Moulmein.

            In former years, there were one European regiment of Infantry, two of Native Infantry, and two companies or batteries of Artillery. In 1861 the garrison had been reduced to one regiment of Native Infantry, and this had now been relieved by my regiment, the Sappers, which at once commenced to make itself useful, not only as soldiers, but as brick and tile makers, road-makers, well-diggers, blacksmiths, carpenters, tailors, gardeners, boat-men winnowers, the women and children as servants; in fact, the regiment made itself generally useful till 1863, when the Government thought fit to disband four Native Regiments of the Madras Army and the Pegu Sapper Battalion in addition, as the 5th. This was done in consequence of the mutiny still causing a heavy strain on the Indian treasury; Bengal and Bombay had also to reduce their expenditure. When retrenchment is thought to be necessary, the Army suffers first, the Civil Service last. The men of the Sappers had the offer of a pension if entitled to it, or the alternative of a gratuity or present, according to length of service. Those fit for further duty, had the choice of transfer to the other Line Regiments, and so the poor fellows were all disposed of in a few weeks: the greater number we had to bring over to Palavaram near Madras again, in a steamer and sailing vessel, before they were paid off and settled with. The steamer towed the sailing vessel over the Bay of Bengal in 8 days, leaving Moulmein on the 19th March 1868, and arriving at Madras on the 27th.

            The whole of the hard work and responsibility in connection with disbanding the 1,200 men devolved upon me as Adjutant, and it was not till 1866 that I could say I was clear of all demands my official position entailed on me, between the Pay Department and the relatives of dead men claiming something or other; for instance the Pay Examiner, Fort Saint George, Madras, repeatedly called upon me to refund money that had been properly paid to the men. In one instance I had to make a lengthy explanation on paper as to how I had disposed of Rs. 80,000, and if I had not been able to prove from my books how the money had been disbursed, I would have found myself in jail. At last, I satisfied the Madras Government that the Pay Department had no further claims on the officers of the late Pegu Sapper Battalion, so I returned all the books and records, (a couple of cart loads) into the underground stores of Fort Saint George to wait there the doom of all waste paper.


            Before I bid farewell to Burmah and the Pegu Sapper Battalion, I wish to say that after my wife gave birth to her seventh child Alexander, on the 28th November 1859, she gradually sank. This melancholy event occurred when away from me at the town of Sittang on the left bank of the river of the same name, 30 miles below Shoaygheen. She was under the kind care of Dr. John Alcock and his wife, and departed in peace in the presence of her children on the 13th March 1860.

            It was impossible for me to be present when my wife died, as I could not leave Shoaygheen, being the only officer present with the Regiment. In a few days after her burial, my 5 children were brought home by a European nurse, Mrs Jordan, whose husband was then doing duty with the detachment of artillery in the Shoaygheen Fort.

            A tomb was built over the grave to mark the spot, and on my way to Moulmein the following year, I paid a visit to the last resting place accompanied by my eldest child, now (1878), Mrs. Duncan, leaving the little children in the boat till our return, when we set sail and hurried away to our new home, resigning myself to the text “Thy will O Lord be done.”

            In Moulmein, Church of England burial-ground I also buried my dear little Janet, aged 5 years; she died of measles on the 2nd June 1862, and over her grave I erected a respectable tomb with two marble slabs, one white and the other black, with gold letters guarded with plate glass. Those two slabs of marble shew my late wife’s name and three of her children, - Robert died in Jaulnah, 28th August 1851, James died in St. Thomas’ Mount, 2nd June 1862.

            The last I heard of that tomb was from General Blake in 1872, who informed me that he had been to Moulmein and had the tomb over his wife in the same graveyard, repaired; and also had the same done to the one that I had erected to the memory of my late wife and children. This was very kind of General Blake, but he is always doing a good turn to somebody.




            Having got relieved of the Pegu Sapper Battalion, I was given command of the European Artillery Veteran Company at Palavaram. This, with my pay as Lieutenant, made me quite easy as regards subsistence, although it was not such high pay as when doing the duties as Adjutant in my late corps.

            From 1863 till 1867 I continued to reside in Palavaram, and during that time I had managed to send my daughter to a Ladies’ Seminary on the blue Mountains, or as they are commonly called Neilgherry Hills, 8,000 feet high and about 300 miles from madras, towards the Western Coast. The 3 boys had to be schooled at Doveton College, Madras, and during the time my children were away from me as above, I laid out my future plans and prepared for house keeping again with a second wife, and just doubled the number of children, viz., from 4 to 8. This was a bold undertaking, but it was the best thing I could do under present circumstances, and so it has turned out so far a good speculation with the blessing of God. At the time I write, March 1878, these 8 children are all alive and doing well; my second wife has had six children by me, her second husband, but they all died in infancy, so we are since September 1877 left childless. All are gone, some out into the world to seek a livelihood, or down in the cold grave to which we who are alive now, are fast hastening.

            Passing our time quietly and I hope profitably at Palavaram till 1866, a chance for a change of life for me sprang up in the shape of four Barrack-Masterships, vacant, viz., at Bangalore, Secunderabad, Kamptee, and Bellary. My past services ain China, Burmah and the mutiny stood me in good stead, so after a little consideration, I was offered Kamptee, provided I could pass an examination in Hindustani. This being only a colloquial examination it was merely a matter of form to me. On the 10th of April 1867, I was in orders as 1st class Barrack-Master, Kamptee.

            I had again to break up house for a short time and suffer all its miseries and loss. For instance, I had to send all my furniture 12 miles to Madras on carts, to be sold by a Furniture Agent there, which after paying 5 per cent commission, realized Rs. 800, not one-fourth the value.

            To Kamptee I must go by rail, by road, and by water; the travelling expenses must be paid by myself, as the Government would not, or could not assist me according to regulations – my appointment being a promotion with an increase of pay.


            On the 26th April 1867 with my “pockets well lined,” like Will Watch the bold smuggler, I bid farewell to my Madras friends again, and was soon out of sight on my way to Beypore on the Malabar Coast, 40 miles by the “iron horse.” This required one night and the greater part of two days to accomplish. On the 28th, we had to prepare for a sea voyage from Beypore to Bombay, and from early morn we were on the watch for the smoke of the steamer Sir John Lawrence, expected to call at the port or open roadstead of Beypore for any passengers or merchandise she could pick up on her way up the coast from Cochin to Bombay. After six days and six nights of misery on the deck of this steamer, we landed safe in Bombay on the 4th May 1867. A cabin passage was out of the question, as I would have had to pay for 10 cabins at Rs. 100 each, to accommodate my large, partially grown up family. Only one bed in each little crib of a hot cabin – for all that Rs. 100 was the established charge. It so happened we had good health, although exposed to the weather night and day all the way.

            Once more on shore I hoped never to set my foot on board a ship again. I have always been a good soldier, but very bad sailor. Gathering our baggage together, we soon had it packed on carts, and hiring 5 buggies or gigs with single horse and driver, we jumped into them two and two, the little baby making three in the 5th buggy.

            Formed in procession in single file with the baggage carts in the rear, we made a very imposing appearance, going through the streets of the city for fully two miles to the railway station at the Boree Bunder. Booking the heavy baggage for Nagpore, 500 miles further on, we counter-marched the procession, minus the carts, and made our way at a rapid pace to the English hotel, where we had a good bath, drank, ate, and rested, till we felt fit for the next part of the journey.

            Bombay is a very expensive place to live in, especially for travellers, and as one meal (dinner) and the use of a couple of rooms for a few hours cost me about Rs. 50 or £5, I thought the best thing we could do, would be to be off by the first Bombay train, and leave sight-seeing for some future year. By 8 o’clock the same night, (viz., 4th May,) we were seated in a railway carriage with one large compartment all to ourselves and off we went right merrily in the dark night, glad to get clear of the noisy, busy city, and the heavy charges made for every little trifle we wanted.

            A safe journey of two nights and one day by rail brought us to the city of Nagpore in the Central Provinces of India, and a further drive in bullock carts brought us to Kamptee on the afternoon of the 6th May 1867, where I am now writing on the 4th March 1878. The total cost of our journey from Palavaram to Kamptee amounted to about Rs. 800 or £80, and the distance travelled over by land and water was fully 1,500 miles.

            On the 7th May 1867, I reported my arrival to the Assistant Quarter-Master General, Nagpore Force, and on the 8th took charge of my duties, with three European Barrack Serjeants to assist me in looking after the Barracks and other Public buildings; they also do nearly all the office work, so I have little more to do than sign my name and give rough drafts of letters. The Government also allows me two natives, (orderlies, or peons) to carry the letters to the Post Office, and officers commanding regiments, and heads of departments, with all of whom I have dealings or correspondence from time to time. This is a daily duty, and between looking after the buildings and furniture for the soldiers and office work, my time is fairly occupied.

            In a few days after our arrival, we settled down in a good sized bungalow, at a rent of Rs. 35, and in this house we remained till 1870, when we had the chance of a better dwelling for Rs. 30, and in this we still live, that is, my wife and I only, for the eight children are all gone out into the “wide, wide world” to fight their own battle of life.

            On the 28th June 1873 I was promoted to the rank of Captain, so all we have to do now is to watch over our children and continue to pray for their welfare here and hereafter. They are all very good, sober, quiet children and likely to do well.

            For ten years I acted as secretary to the Kamptee Friend-in-Need Society, and since 1875 I have been in charge of the European and Native Pensioners, between five and six hundred of them. This keeps me well employed, and that is a blessing. I shall leave the remainder of my story to be told by one of my children after I am gone the way of all living. I have indeed great reason to be grateful to my Creator for all He has done for me.

            My very dear brother Alexander died on the 7th September 1872. The above letter to his address, had not then been closed, the perusal of it may be of interest to his surviving children and my numerous relatives.

KAMPTEE                                                                                                        8th March, 1878                                  


[1] Penpont, Dumfriesshire, in the Nith Valley, W of Thornhill.

[2] Alexander DINWIDDIE (1803-1872) was born on 26 May 1803.

[3] Lauderdale MAITLAND was a relative of the Earl of Lauderdale and owned large estates near Penpont Parish.

[4] A farm N of Penpont.

[5] James Patterson DINWIDDIE (1791-1866).

[6] Margaret DINWIDDIE (1808-1878).

[7] DD’s paternal grandmother, Marion DINWIDDIE (nee THORBURN) (c.1756-aft.1825).

[8] Corporal John SHAW, of Cossal, Notts., who killed 9-10 Frenchmen single-handed at the Battle of Waterloo, and died of his wounds that night.

[9] Sgt. Charles EWART (1769-1846) of the Royal North British Dragoons (The Scots Greys), who at Waterloo single-handed captured the standard of the 45th French Regiment (The Invincibles).

[10] The pub still operates in St Paul’s Square.

[11] Robert FERGUSSON (? –1809) husband of DD’s sister Marion DINWIDDIE (1808-1873).

[12] Robert DINWIDDIE (1812-aft.1874) who emigrated to the USA.

[13] Porridge made from finely-ground roast peas.

[14] James DINWIDDIE (1804-1859) who became a hosiery manufacturer.

[15] Ann DINWIDDIE (1810-c.1850) who married Alexander LATTIMER.

[16] DD’s father had married Marion THORBURN.

[17] Jane DINWIDDIE (1816-1887) emigrated to the USA with her husband George MUNSIE.

[18] Agnes DINWIDDIE, known as ‘Nancy’, married Robert CRAWFORD.

[19] John DINWIDDIE (1823-1856) married Agnes HUTTON and took over the family farm.

[20] “taking the shilling” meant taking the financial inducement for new recruits to join the army.

[21] Vanamburgh had a famous menagerie that included performing lions.

[22] Trousers specially worn by soldiers, made from 22 oz Kersey (twill weave).

[23] William PALMER, a surgeon, hanged on 14 June 1856 for poisoning with strychnine.

[24] Victor TOWNLEY, was convicted in 1863 for stabbing to death his former fiancée; he was reprieved but committed suicide in prison.

[25] Non-rigid boats, up to 30 ft long, constructed with planks sewn together with coir rope, with no frames or ribs, mainly used on the East coast of India.

[26] Palaveram, about 11 miles SW of Madras.

[27] A small ceramic pot for medicine.

[28] The so-called First Opium War (1839-1842).

[29] Nanking.

[30] Yangtze Kiang.

[31] Town at the junction of the Grand Canal and the Yangtze Kiang River, about 40 miles East of Nanking, now ‘Chin Kiang’.

[32] Mary MACKENZIE (1828-1860) my 2nd great-grandmother.

[33] Hugh MACKENZIE (c.1801-1832) my 3rd great-grandfather, came to India in 1818.

[34] Mary PRITCHARD (1806-1829) my 3rd great-grandmother, came to England in 1808, aged 2 years.

[35] Thomas PRITCHARD (1780-1818) my 4th great-grandfather, came to India in 1808.

[36] 18 October 1818.

[37] Thomas PRITCHARD II (1814-aft.1878).

[38] Mary Jane DINWIDDIE (1848-1918) my great-grandmother, married George Roan DUNCAN II.

[39] Thomas David DINWIDDIE (1853-1904) married (1886) Margaret Alice NASH.

[40] Robert DINWIDDIE (1855-1922) became Deputy Chief Auditor, Bengal Nagpur Railway, and married (1898) Louisa RHIND.

[41] Alexander DINWIDDIE (1859-c.1900) died in India, unmarried, as far as I know.

[42] James DINWIDDIE (1851-1852).

[43] Robert DINWIDDIE (1849-1851).

[44] Pegu was formally annexed to British India on 20 January 1853.

[45] Probably Myat-Toon.

[46] Donabyu, near where Myat-Toon had his stronghold.

[47] Janet DINWIDDIE (1857-1862).

[48] Muslims.

[49] Companion of the Order of the Bath.

[50] John Graham of Claverhouse, ‘Bonnie Dundee’ (1649-1689) was employed by King Charles II to enforce episcopy in Scotland, and persecuted the Covenanters.

[51] Christopher Read DE LA HOYDE (1828-1860) married (1850) Emily HONEY (1835-1879), who in 1864 became David DINWIDDIE’s 2nd wife.

[52] Shwegyin, possibly now called ‘Madauk’.

[53] Local governing body.

Return to Home Page