4. STATIONED IN BENARES
20 Feb 1860 A change of quarters having been determined upon for the
l9th Foot, orders were given for the Corps to be in readiness to move but where
to was a piece of information that could not up to the very day of marching
be ascertained. The orders given were so vague and inconsistent that
they created confusion and unnecessary labor (the wording being limited and
its meaning no one knew what). It ran as follows: (the l9th Regt to
march towards Benares). However after much official letter writing
on the subject it was at last made known what was intended and that was for
the 19th Foot to remain at Benares, such then being the case the Regiment moved
first to Bankipore where it encamped one night and proceeded on its march by
daily stages via Gya and Shergholty arriving at Benares on the 12th March 1860
and occupied the Barracks vacated by the 1st Bn 6th Foot, which included the
Mint and the Fort of Raj Ghant, the Head Qtrs of the 77th Foot being at this
time located at the latter besides a detachment of Artillery.
During this march and after leaving Gya a tiger was observed by a number of the native servants attached to the Regt one afternoon prowling near to the High Road whilst I and they were proceeding to the new encamping ground, but it did not molest us, tho' it scattered them in all directions by his appearance only.
Previous to our leaving Dinapore in the month of February 1860 Lieut Thompson proceeded home on sick leave, Lieut. Evans acting as Adjutant in his stead.
Benares ever held up by the natives as a seat of learning and trade is in itself one of India's Chief Cities ranking equal to many, and superior to others, being as it is a commercial place it is not encircled by walls of defences but open to the import and export of trade. Within the city there are many beautiful buildings and minarets towering high above the habitable houses, but the worst feature in the whole Hindus Metropolis is that the streets are absurdly constructed being so narrow as not to admit more than three persons abreast to walk them, while the houses on each side almost form a canopy cutting over them at their uppermost and the reverse at their base.
Here between the cantonments and the City is a well constructed college for the natives and is a handsome building the Head Master being a European. Also within the lines of the European portion of Benares or what is more properly called (...........) there is a Post Office and adjacent thereto a goodly church besides three other places of worship, for Roman Catholics, Baptists etc.; away also in the direction of what is termed Monkey town (from the number of these animals allowed to roam about in their natural state) there is a church and where missionaries reside but of what denomination I never ascertained but it is a building well worthy of note from its structure and grounds attached thereto.
When the rebellion broke out in 1857 Benares as well with other cities, shared a portion tho' not to any serious extent and was soon put down by the dashing ability of the late Colonel Neil tho' some lives were lost on the occasion ending as it did in the total dispersion of the mutinous Regiments and destruction of their lines whereon were built or at least near to the present barracks for Europeans. To describe these buildings it will suffice to remark that they each contain about 85 men, are only one storey high, long and narrow, with an enclosed verandah and an open one, the enclosed being for the men to have their meals in, and the open one shelter from the sun and rain. The buildings contain no windows but many doors and when the hot season sets in these are fitted with frames of lath called tatties and tufted with a description of scented grass which by being kept saturated with water cools the interior of the building and in addition to them there are punkahs moved to and fro in order to keep the air circulating and causing a draught, these latter being generally suspended over the beds of the men.
Were it not for these appliances during the monsoons or hot seasons of the year, many men would die of apoplexy or what is more generally termed sun stroke, hence their indispensability at such times in a country like India, tho' it is not carried out unless at great expense for at these barracks alone no less then from 4 to 500 native coolies are employed during the hot months in attending to the tatties and in working the punkahs averaging per month an expenditure of from 12 to 1300 rupees per mensem, the pay of these servants being as follows:
|Bheesties or Water Carriers||5||0|
|Tattie Coolies for throwing water upon their tatties||3||8|
|Punkah coolies, three reliefs, working from 8 am till 5 pm and from 9 pm till rouse sounding||4||0|
Latterly by a self acting machine invented by a Government servant (a European)
through the appliance of which much of the expense attending the watering of
tatties would be saved as well too in the working of the punkahs, the working
of both being equally beneficial to the soldier, as by the former invention
a continual stream of water would keep the tatties continuously wet and by
the latter arrangement the punkahs would be moved easier and would give a long
and steadier swing thereby regulating the current of air in accordance to the
wishes of the men.
In India the soldier cannot do the ordinary duties which devolve upon him elsewhere such as cooking, and other menial work on account of the climate, therefore a staff of followers under private and Government pay find a good home in the various corps serving in that country. Those on private accounts being paid out of the soldier's income and are designated as under:
Cooks, and their assistants
Dobies (or washermen) as the males generally wash tho' the females do a little.
Those on Government account and who are under the control of the Quarter Master being
4 Bheesties (or Water Carriers) or in lieu two Puckallies with two bullocks per company.
2 sweepers per company
the above to attend more upon the men of the Companies to which they are attached, the pay of the Bheesties being 5 rupees, the Puckallies 9 rupees 8 annas and the sweepers 4 rupees per mensem.
In addition to the above and for conservancy purposes Government allowed per Company 1 Bheestie and 1 sweeper at 5 and 4 rupees respectively and on ordinary times when in cantonments 1 Lascar at 5 rupees 12 annas per month, for each Company at Headquarters or those on detachment under charge of one Tindal at 9 rupees 8 annas per mensem whose duties are to attend to the camp equippage etc and as orderlies as well, 4 of whom with the Tindal being permanent servants and supplied every 2 years with a jacket, besides which they are eligible for pensions, but in extraordinary times such as a Corps removing to another station, or upon active service these natives are augmented the Lascars to the number so as to correspond with the number of tents in use, their pay while marching being 6 rupees 12 annas per month and the Bheesties to 6 men at 6 rupees per month per company, the sweepers to 4 per company at the rate of 5 rupees in addition to which are also attached one Bildar per company at 4 rupees 8 annas per month whose duties are to make latrines etc etc.
Tho' all these servants are allowed for the benefit of the men, yet not one man doth Government allow to an officer, nor even doth it find camp equippage, carriage, equipment, provisions or in fact anything whatever be the officers on active service or no. In truth an allowance is made but greatly under the real value when a claim for loss of camp equippage is made but In order to recover this loss, time, patience, and an Immense deal of trouble must be put up with. Very much inconvenience especially among the junior and poorer officers Is felt by them in having to provide themselves with these equipments but such was the system of the old Company and at present is not remodelled.
Anothr most unfair and ungenerous system prevails as it hath done for many years and which is that Governments allow nothing for the transit of the families of soldiers when moving to a new cantonment be the distance long or short. This is indeed irksome to these poor creatures as they are bound to pay the driver of their goods and chattels whether they have food for themselves or not. In moving the women and children who always follow in the rear of the baggage column a good plan is generally adopted by them which acts for a sleeping place as well a shelter from the sun. Before the march commences and when the carriage has been collected and distributed by the Quarter Master of the Corps to which these families belong they employ native workers at a small remuneration to make them an arched coverlid the length and breadth of the native carts formed of arched branches and covered with matting, leaving at the side sufficient room as a doorway to admit the occupants. This they fasten with rope over the top of the cart (and which are drawn by bullocks in number according to the size). Having previously placed their goods at the bottom of the cart (or Hackery as they are called) and their bedding on the top of them beneath the coverlid, in this style they move and are generally comfortable provided they are lucky enough to obtain a cart large enough with only two bullocks to draw it and the driver with his cattle being worthy of employment which is not always the case with Regiments marching.
With regard to the payment that these drivers are entitled to per diem this is regulated according to the number of bullocks they employ, receiving also return fare at so many miles each day, but as these creatures are crafty even in this respect reference is made often to the size of the cart as they will hang on a third broken down animal when two are sufficient, the latter perhaps being purchased for the occasion at a mere trifle.
Returning again to the description of Benares and its vicinity, there is on the right hand side of the trunk road leading to Allahabad a good race course whereon at the latter part of the year some good races are run, and in addition to this resort for amusement there is a small well built theatre situated near to the Military Hospital and in which amateurs figure upon Its stage, professionals being quite out of the way in a country like this. With the theatre and attached thereto stands a fine racket court where during the cooler part of the afternoon 'ere twilight dims the heated day can be seen the white faces of old England glorying in the sport of rackets and as an antidote for their sweltering body they may trace their steps to the bath that rests prominently near to the road on the way to Jaunpore, this bath sufficiently large for the few that attend it is well worth notice and is kept generally in very good order erected and maintained by subscription among the resident gentlemen.
15 Nov 1860. Today his Excellency Sir Hugh Rose, Commander in Chief paid us a visit preparatory to the coming of the Viceroy to Benares, and held a levee at the house of Major General Campbell, Commanding the Station & Division at which I with my brother officers were presented to his Excellency, when afterwards on that evening he dined with Major General Campbell at our Mess, a select number of other officers of various Corps as well the Civil Officials being invited.
7 Dec 1860. For some days past the Governor General's camp has been pitched upon the maidan which is used as parade ground by the Bengal Horse Artillery and 19 Foot stationed here and today His Lordship Earl Canning the Viceroy of India held his levee at which a good number of native Princes and Chiefs were presented, the European portion being honoured first as is the custom. At this levee I was also present and introduced to his Lordship after Lieut F .W Evans.
12 Dec 1860. Today the Governor General visited our small camp on the Jaunpore road where a party of our men were going through their annual course of target practice.
Jan 1861. In this month I bought from Asst Surjeon Heifferman 19 Foot his buggy and mare for £30 tho' it cost me £10 more to have it done up. At this time I had two horses and the following servants:
Etwah, bearer, or housekeeper
Benjamin, Kitmutgar or Cook
Bheestie or Water carrier
Syce or Groom
Dobie or washerman
Their pay being respectively Bearer 8 rupees, Kitmutgar 7 Rupees, Bheestie 6 Rupees, Grasscuts the two each 3 Rupees, and the Dobie 5 rupees making a total for servants wages monthly Rupees 41 or £4.2.0 being an annual expenditure of £49.40 which with house rent per year amounted to £79.4.0 my house rent being £30 per annum out of an allowance of £365 per year which was my ordinary pay excepting when on active service or when marching when it amounted to £395.