Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/229

This page needs to be proofread.


CAWNPUR. 225 usually without warning, sometimes after protestations of fidelity — protestations in some cases perhaps true at the moment. The Europeans, or persons of Christian faith, were often mas- sacred ; occasionally, also, the women and children. The jail was broken open, the treasury plundered, and the mutineers marched off to some centre of revolt, to join in what had now become a national war. Only in the Punjab were the sepoys anticipated by stern measures of repression and disarmament, carried out by Sir John Lawrence and his lieutenants, among whom Edwardes and Nicholson stand conspicuous. The Sikh population never wavered. Crowds of willing Muhammadan recruits joined us from the Afghan hills. And thus the Punjab, instead of being itself a source of danger, was able to furnish a portion of its own garrison for the siege of Delhi. In Lower Bengal most of the sepoys mutinied, and then dispersed in different directions. The Native armies of Madras and Bom- bay remained, on the whole, true to their colours. In Central India, the contingents of some of the great Chiefs sooner or later threw in their lot with the rebels, but the Muhammadan State of Haidarabad was kept loyal by the authority of its able minister, Sir Salar Jang. Cawnpur. — The main interest of the Sepoy War gathers round the three cities of Cawnpur, Lucknow and Delhi. The cantonments at Cawnpur contained one of the great Native garrisons of India. At Bithiir, not far off, was the palace of Dundhu Panth, the heir of the last Peshwa, whose more familiar name of Nana Sahib will ever be handed down to infamy. At first the Nana was profuse in his professions of loyalty; but when the sepoys mutinied at Cawnpur on the 6th June, be put himself at their head, and was proclaimed Peshwa of the Marathas. The Europeans at Cawnpur, numbering more women and children than fighting men, shut themselves up in an ill-chosen hasty entrenchment, where they heroically bore a siege for nineteen days under the sun of a tropical June. Every one had courage and endurance to suffer or to die ; but the directing mind was again absent. On the 27th June, trusting to a safe-conduct from the Nana — a safe-conduct supposed to hold good as far as Allahabad — they surrendered ; and to the