9. THE JOURNEY HOME
Being now on the eve of leaving India for home to join my new Corps I engaged
a Dak to take me to Runeegunge, a distance between 1200 to 1300 miles, the
price being for so doing 200 rupees or £20 my agreement being as such
to be provided with a Dak to Agra, then from Allahabad to Runeegunge as I should
travel from Agra to Allahabad by rail as well from Runeegunge to Calcutta. So
having made all preparations secure, I left Meean Meer on the 27 May 1862 for
the country that I had longed to visit again and if possible so to remain in
On the 28 May 1862 at dawn I reached the river Beeas and had to pay a toll of 8 annas to pass the temporary bridge and by 8 o' clock drove into Jullunder where I put up at the Dak Bungalow till 12 noon when I again started on my journey tho' overtaken by a heavy storm and obliged to stay all through it in the middle of the high way my poor horse being unable to make head against it till the storm had abated. At 5 pm I passed Philour.
29 May 1862. At 9 am this day I arrived at Umballa and left at 5 pm.
30 May 1862. Reached Delhi at 12 noon where had it not been for a breakdown at Burkee Chooker last night I should have arrived earlier, having as I did to exchange Gharries.
5 June 1862. Arrived at Burkee at 12 noon and left again at 6 pm
8 June 1862. Arrived at Runeegunge before daylight, and took train for Calcutta in the evening where I arrived in the night and put up at Wilson's Hotel otherwise designated Hall of All Nations.
Having engaged a passage for 550 Rupees without extras on board the King Arthur iron sailing vessel bound for London, Captain Grigs, Commander, I embarked on the 17 June 1862 as the ship sailed the next day for home.
Captain Manley H.M. 27th Regt
Lieut Bacon H.M. 23rd "
Ensign Picking H.M. 97th "
Mr Sampson, a Jew
Mrs Blake in charge of 3 children named Smolt
Mr (?) the doctor
The ships' Officers being
Mr Tylmouth Chief Mate
Mr Boles 2nd "
Mr Noyes 3rd "
Mr S W Hodding, 9 Gloster terrace, Campden Hill, Kensington, 4th Mate
After grounding once or twice down the Hoogly which detained us a few hours the ship eventually reached the sandheads, where our towing tug loosed away and we freed the canvas with a fair wind the pilot leaving us the next day.
Sailing in the direction of Sumatra through the Nicobar Group we soon sighted that Island as also we did one or two of the group and which was the last land we saw before reaching the Cape.
7 July 1862. By today's ship reckoning we are in Latitude 5 - 41 South, Long 96 - 22 East, with a calm day tho' under a burning sun whose scorching rays tell upon all hands.
During this month Mr Sampson the Jew, died of intermittent fever and his body was cast into the sea after the Protestant form of service had been read over it.
1 Aug 1862. Calm but hot day and at 2.30 pm had a slight shower of rain in Lat 21 - 36 South - Long 61- 27 East.
1 Aug 1862. Today we find that we are in Lat 24-48 South Long ~2 East, where for the first we were visited by a few whale birds of a brownish colour flying about the ship but at a respectable distance.
At 6 am we had rain and which cooled the air throughout the day.
7 Aug 1862. Again as on the 4th welcomed showers of rain descended and which became heavier in the evening attended with lightning and thunder tho' they caused no change in the breeze there being scarcely sufficient to blow us along during the whole night.
8 Aug 1862 To make up for yesterday we had a fine day and steady breeze. Sighted two vessels one of which we spoke proving to be the "Antonio" from Nangpoo for Rotterdam, this being in Lat 27.9 South. - Long 47, 10 East and near the coast of Madagascar.
9 Aug 1862. Nothing occurring today worth noticing excepting that in the early part of the day the sea was exceedingly calm.
16 Aug 1862. Passed very close to the "Janet Mitchell" bound from Shanghai for London in Lat 32 - 12 South - Long 32 - 30 East.
While assisting to furl the main staysail one of the boys fell and hurt himself very much.
22 Aug 1862. Land visible on the starboard side being the first that we have observed since passing Sumatra. Cape pigeons now following our course in numbers, some of which were caught with small hooks and thread, in the similar way as to catching fishes tho' when we hauled them on the dock let them go again.
24 Aug 1862. Early this morning we sighted a great way off a steam frigate as well a French sailing vessel, and at midday found ourselves in Lat 34 - 56 South - Long 22- 54½ East- making for the Cape.
At 5 pm saw land distinctly and were sailing at the time about 3 knots per hour under a fine but chilly atmosphere.
25 Aug 1862. At 9 am this day the ship had arrived off Cape Lagullus close to which we sailed the land being high and the breeze steady. Here the water was a pale green differing much to the ocean blue and the day was as fine as could be wished for.
By 5 minutes to 8 pm the light from the lighthouse off Cape of Good Hope became distinct at about 10 miles distance.
26 Aug l862. As the passengers rose this morning they were greeted by the longed for view of Cape Town and by 12 noon had the pleasure of anchoring in the beautiful bay in full view of the town with Table Mount in its rear and the lion's rump to its left front.
Being anxious to go on shore and to know what kind of a place Cape Town was went there in the afternoon as did also the other passengers and stayed for the night at Parkes Hotel intending and which I subsequently did to visit the following public places:
Museum, the public gardens near Table Mountain, the Fort, the breakwater, and the Parade - Cape of Good Hope is similarly built to an ordinary English town and the main street is full of shops, hotels etc. The street is wide and runs straight from the pier almost to the Museum upon a gentle acclevity. Here may be seen still the old fashioned waggons with their teams of oxen and long whip passing along the various streets while numbers of Handsomes ranged in long cab-line waiting for fares or else rattling up and down the uneven streets to the danger of being pitched out, are in abundance together with buses with from 4 to 12 spirited yokes in each.
Near the parade, a stoney and dusty piece of ground bare of grass, stands the railway terminus whose small carriages and locomotives correspond certainly for the present with the Colony while in the distance are seen towering mountains.
The prettiest part of Cape Town is where the better class of people reside (or as may be termed aristocracy) this being at a short distance from the town and near the Lionts Rump where the ground is always covered with a beautiful and lovely green verdure, the name being Green point. Here the various families have their own villas so erected as to be each in the middle of a square plot, beautifully arranged according to individual taste and having the sea shore for a promenade. Cape Town is often annoyed with dust and which is of a dirty brown and is a great plague to any one who prides himself with clean hands and face as well of well brushed clothes.
27 Aug 1862. Meeting this morning the Commander of the vessel in the street who desired us to make haste on board as he would sail out at noon we of course could stay no longer so bidding goodbye to the chief town of Cape Colony we went on board and at one o'clock the vessel steered her course for St. Helena. In the night had lightning and thunder.
28 Aug 1862. This morning when we appeared on deck no land was visible and the day was cold.
7 Sep 1862. Sunday. Early this morning we sighted the Island of St Helena and by 8 am anchored in the bay off James Town where there were also a number of other vessels of various nations as well the hulls of several slave brigs that had been captured and condemned.
Of course now that I had a fair opportunity of visiting this noted Island I availed the time and in company with the surgeon of the ship went on shore and engaged two ponies to take us out for the day the roads being too steep and the distance too long to admit of our seeing much without their assistance.
Our first jaunt was to the tomb of Napoleon and to the house where he died, with which we were exceedingly gratified, tho' there's nothing about the scenery to attract the visitor's attention excepting as being the place where so great a man had been compelled to live and die. Leaving ourselves entirely to the will of our horses who took us up the steep and narrow ridges (called there roads) then along the various up and down hill causeways with a certain degree of spirit entirely unexpected by us, we found ourselves passing a fingerpost or signboard at the side of the road pointing down a descent cut from the side of the sloping heights with this insignificant notice "Road to Napoleon's tomb'" - one of the most unlikely paths that would be thought of by the enquiring visitor.
Going through the small wicket gate we passed down the grass grown over pathway and when arrived at the bottom came upon a small wooden box in which a French soldier was stationed and who upon our approach invited us to see the sacred spot.
Going through a small gateway we entered the enclosure or small square plot of grass grown over ground, wherein are two tall and aged looking willows to touch which was strictly prohibited, upon one of them there being transfixed a brass plate bearing an inscription to commemorate the visit of a number of French soldiers on their way home from the war in China, and near to this the tomb itself lies surrounded in a square form, by iroin palisade. The tomb has no attraction for beauty being similar to a common vault that decorate our churchyards constructed or brick and plaster.
Having satisfied ourselves with all we saw of this revered corner and depositing our names in a book kept for the purpose of visitors, we were then permitted to drink a glass of water from Napoleon's spring and bidding goodbye to the Frenchman mounted our horses with the intention of proceeding to where Napoleon died, where we arrived in about half an hour.
Dismounting we tied our horses to some posts nearby in the little park of Longwood house and being accompanied by the wife of a French soldier were shown over the premises. The house is built of wood and of only one storey high; in it there are several rooms such as the dining room, bedchamber, ante room and so on, none of which are furnished, but kept clean and orderly. In the dining room a bust of Napoleon on a pedestal shows the spot where Napoleon died and this is enclosed by a square railing. Outside is the garden which tho' small is well laid out, while at a small distance is the house built intentionally for him but which he would never occupy.
Of the situation there could not he a better in the whole Island as it lies high and commands a full view of a greater portion of it, tho' there is a keen breeze when the weather is at its coldest.
Mounting again our hacks we proceeded along the same road we came till arriving at cross-roads near a small Roman Catholic Chapel and directing to the left went through several of the valleys round to the position where the barracks are located, the scenery all the way being delightful. Ascending the Fort we had a full view of the whole with the sea encompassing and there could observe by means of a powerful telescope everything movable at Longwood even to small animals. Leaving this place we descended a winding and very steep road till abutting into the little capital where we dismounted and paid our hire.
8 Sep 1862. This evening we drew up anchor and set sail and soon lost sight of St Helena.
27 Sep 1862. Today we found ourselves out of sight of land and in Lat l3, 42 North, Long 29-40 West with a rain and sunshiny day on the face of a calm sea the beneiters amusing us much by chasing the flying fishes who would bound out of the water to secure their prey.
In the evening a steady and welcomed breeze sprung up and continued till morning.
28 Sep 1862. Have the same breeze today as yesterday and so equally fine day. Our Lat today being 15 - 25 North. Sunday.
7th Oct 1862. Today we sighted one of the Western islands and sailed through the group.
11 Oct 1862. Rain descending and wind blowing hard and the sea lifting the vessel as if it were a cork, one of who waves carried a good proportion of the bulwarks completely away. In Lat 48, 13 North - Long 20 - 13 West.
12 Oct 1862. The sea has become very rough and with it the day cold (Sunday). In Lat 49 - 18 North - Long 16 - 2 West.
14 Oct 1862. Being foggy during the morning. Saw the Lizzards at 1 o'clock pm.
15 Oct 1862. This morning by 8 o'clock the vessel was off the Isle of Wight.
16 Oct 1862. In the afternoon of today we entered the Thames towed by a steamer who a short time before had fastened to, and on the same evening entered Gravesend.
17 Oct 1862. This morning the vessel entered Victoria Docks and I landed for good, stayed in London and Birmingham till 23 Oct 1862, when I proceeded to Sheffield there to join my new Corps 1st Bn 8th King's Regt, and which I did on the next day the 24 Oct 1862.
20 May 1864. Retired from the Service on half pay and settled down as a Civilian. Thus ends my career as a soldier.
C W Usherwood.