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Map of Badli-ki-Serai During Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857

Mirza Firuz Shah
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
Stacked Wooden Logs


The Indian Battle selected Delhi as their capital, but, despite their attempts to drive the British off the nearby ridge, they failed to take the initiative. British reinforcements counterattacked the city and captured it after a desperate struggle.

In 1855 John Lawrence asked Reynell Taylor, the temporary Commandant of the Guides, to undertake a thorough review of the charges against Hodson relating to financial wrongdoing. The subsequent report, presented in March 1856, exonerated the former commandant. Taylor had gone through the accounts with a fine-tooth comb and considered them to be ‘an honest and correct record from beginning to end’. He had examined every claim of alleged irregularity and had found ‘Lieutenant Hodson’s statements borne out by the facts of the case’. Though the accounts had been ‘irregularly kept’, Hodson had inherited a highly unorthodox system from his predecessor. In a covering letter Taylor recommended a second court of inquiry to consider his own findings. John Lawrence’s response was that neither the Commander-in-Chief nor the new Governor-General, Lord Canning, saw the need for a new inquiry. They were, however, prepared to grant Hodson a ‘full acquittance’ on matters relating to the Corps’ accounts and thereby hoped to put an end to ‘this harassing and painful business’.

Hodson saw his ‘full acquittance’ for what it was — an attempt to sweep the matter under the carpet — and continued to demand a public inquiry. In April 1857 he travelled to Simla to lobby Anson in person and received a sympathetic hearing. ‘He would write himself to Lord Canning and try to get justice done me,’ wrote a delighted Hodson to his brother. ‘I do trust the light is breaking through the darkness and that before long I may have good news to send you.’ Anson never did write to Canning. News of the mutinies at Meerut and Delhi reached Simla a few days after his meeting with Hodson and thereafter he had more urgent business to attend to. But he had been impressed by the forthright subaltern and, after reaching Ambala, appointed him assistant quartermaster-general with special responsibility for intelligence. Hodson’s first task was to re-establish contact with Meerut, from which place only ‘very imperfect’ information had been received. He set off on 21 May, paused for a time at Karnal, where he was joined by an escort of the Raja of Jhind’s cavalry, and finally reached Meerut at daybreak on the 22nd. ‘He had left Karnal (76 miles off) at nine the night before,’ wrote an officer at Meerut, ‘with one led horse and an escort of Sikh cavalry and, as I had anticipated, here he was with despatches for Wilson! . . . Hodson rode straight to Wilson, had his interview, a bath, breakfast, and two hours’ sleep, and then rode back the seventy-six miles, and had to fight his way back for about thirty miles of the distance.’ He rested for a few more hours at Karnal and then continued on to Ambala, arriving in the early hours of 23 May. He had covered more than 250 miles in two days.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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Shah Sharaf Barlas


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