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0105_001E The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter II: Allyghur And Laswaree

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As long as these heroes were battling among themselves, or as long rather as it appeared that they had any strength to fight a battle, the British Government, ever anxious to see its enemies by the ears, by no means interfered in the contest. But the French Revolution broke out, and a host of starving sans-culottes appeared among the various Indian States, seeking for military service, and inflaming the minds of the various native princes against the British East India Company. A number of these entered into Scindiah's ranks: one of them, Perron, was commander of his army; and though that chief was as yet quite engaged in his hereditary quarrel with Jeswunt Row Holkar, and never thought of an invasion of the British territory, the Company all of a sudden discovered that Shah Allum, his sovereign, was shamefully ill-used, and determined to re-establish the ancient splendour of his throne.

Of course it was sheer benevolence for poor Shah Allum that prompted our governors to take these kindly measures in his favour. I don't know how it happened that, at the end of the war, the poor Shah was not a whit better off than at the beginning; and that though Holkar was beaten, and Scindiah annihilated, Shah Allum was much such a puppet as before. Somehow, in the hurry and confusion of this struggle, the oyster remained with the British Government, who had so kindly offered to dress it for the Emperor, while His Majesty was obliged to be contented with the shell.

The force encamped at Kanouge bore the title of the Grand Army of the Ganges and the Jumna; it consisted of eleven regiments of cavalry and twelve battalions of infantry, and was commanded by General Lake in person.

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Well, on the 1st of September we stormed Perron's camp at Allyghur; on the fourth we took that fortress by assault; and as my name was mentioned in general orders, I may as well quote the Commander-in-Chief's words regarding me--they will spare me the trouble of composing my own eulogium:-

"The Commander-in-Chief is proud thus publicly to declare his high sense of the gallantry of Lieutenant Gahagan, of the -- Cavalry. In the storming of the fortress, although unprovided with a single ladder, and accompanied but by a few brave men, Lieutenant Gahagan succeeded in escalading the inner and fourteenth wall of the place. Fourteen ditches lined with sword-blades and poisoned chevaux-de-frise, fourteen walls bristling with innumerable artillery and as smooth as looking-glasses, were in turn triumphantly passed by that enterprising officer. His course was to be traced by the heaps of slaughtered enemies lying thick upon the platforms; and alas! by the corpses of most of the gallant men who followed him! When at length he effected his lodgment, and the dastardly enemy, who dared not to confront him with arms, let loose upon him the tigers and lions of Scindiah's menagerie, this meritorious officer destroyed, with his own hand, four of the largest and most ferocious animals, and the rest, awed by the indomitable majesty of BRITISH VALOUR, shrank back to their dens. Thomas Higgory, a private, and Runty Goss, havildar, were the only two who remained out of the nine hundred who followed Lieutenant Gahagan. Honour to them! Honour and tears for the brave men who perished on that awful day!"

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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