Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria, to include the Brian Ritchie Collection (Part II) (2 March 2005)

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Date of Auction: 2nd March 2005

Sold for £9,500

Estimate: £10,000 - £12,000

The outstanding K.C.B. group to Lieutenant-General Sir John Bennet Hearsey, 6th Bengal Light Cavalry, dangerously wounded at Seetabuldee and again at Bhurtpoor, who later commanded a cavalry division at Goojerat, and was in command at Barrackpore when the Mangal Pandy incident signalled the beginning of the mutiny in 1857

(a) The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Military) K.C.B., Knight Commander’s set of insignia, comprising neck badge, 22 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1814 though date letter a little indistinct, maker’s mark IE; and breast star, silver, gold and enamels, the reverse plate inscribed Widdowson & Veale, Goldsmiths, 73 Strand, London, fitted with gold pin for wearing, the badge with a few chips and flakes to enamels

(b) Army of India 1799-1826, 3 clasps, Nepaul, Seetabuldee & Nagpore, Bhurtpoor (Captn. J. B. Hearsey, 6th Cavy.) short hyphen reverse, officially engraved naming

(c) Punjab 1848-49, 2 clasps, Chilianwala, Goojerat (Brigr. J. B. Hearsey, 4th Cavy. Brig. Bengal Army) both medals cleaned and lacquered, edge nicks and bruises, generally nearly very fine (4) £10000-12000

Ex Glendining, March 1951 (Army of India only) and subsequently reunited with the Punjab medal. The K.C.B. set has since been added for display purposes.


Only 19 clasps for Seetabuldee & Nagpore issued to European recipients, although it is hard to understand why Hearsey did not have the clasp for Seetabuldee alone given that he was dangerously wounded there and took no part in the action at Nagpore. This combination of clasps is unique.

John Bennet Hearsey, the scion of a colourful Anglo-Indian family, was born on 21 September 1793, at Midnapore, Orissa, where his father, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Wilson Hearsey, commanded the Gullasir Ka Pulton (the 9th Bengal Native Infantry). John Hearsey was steeled by the vicissitudes of fate early in life. At the age of three he was sent to England to board in Kennington with his grandmother and aunt who showed him neither ‘kindness or protection’. His father died penniless in 1798, having paid heavy sums to release a relation from the debtors jail in Calcutta, with the result that his mother was left with a paltry income of £80 a year from the Lord Clive Fund. From the age of five Hearsey was educated at the Old Manor House School for Boys in Kennington and there was abused under the harsh regime of a sadistic principal and his maladjusted assistants. However, when in his twilight years Hearsey dictated his memoirs to his daughter, he reflected, ‘Perhaps the hardships I underwent did me a good turn, for undeniably I became very hardy’. At the age of nine Hearsey played truant to attend the execution at Horsemonger Lane Jail of one Colonel Despard who was to be hanged, drawn and quartered for treason. Hearsey recalled, ‘I was there early, but was soon surrounded by a crowd, knocked and pushed about. I lost my cap, my clothes were all torn, and, with many bruises, I was thankful to find my way back to school.’

His mother’s arrival from India after a long and perilous voyage set his upbringing upon a more conventional course, and in late 1803 he moved with her to Portman Place where his education was directed by a succession of private tutors. In 1806 a family connection procured for Hearsey a civil appointment in the Bengal Presidency, but as his mother could not afford to send him to Haileybury, she was obliged to decline the offer. A cavalry Cadetship was accepted instead and Hearsey sailed in the Indiaman Sovereign with a convoy under Royal Navy protection. He so enjoyed the voyage that he could not be kept from climbing the masts. The captain, fearing an accident, ordered his sailors to tie him to the yards but this failed to deter him, for next day he was seen capping the main-royal.

Hearsey was met at Fort William by an old friend of his father’s, Surgeon Phillips, and remained three weeks his guest until joining the infamous Cadet College at Baraset in October 1807. He spent his days at sport and his evenings with rare diligence studying Urdu. ‘I was often disturbed by the young men who saw me thus employed. They threw clods into my room, which frequently hit me or my moonshi, or broke the shade of my lamp and put out the light ... One night being disturbed in this manner, I ran hastily to the open Venetian window and caught a glimpse of one of the cadets endeavouring to hide himself ... About two minutes later ... a young man came smiling in, saying, “So, as usual, you are studying at night.” In him I recognised the offender, and seizing the thick quarto volume of W. Gilchrist’s Dictionary, I rose from my chair and struck him down with it, telling him to quit my room, and that I should be ready to give him satisfaction due from one gentleman to another on the morrow. He never called upon me ...’

Having qualified in Urdu in just eight months, in June 1808, Hearsey received 120 rupees from the Government and was presented with a sword. Commissioned on 14 September 1808, he put money towards the cost of his Cornet’s uniform and the hire of servants and the budgerow in which he would to travel up the Ganges to join the 8th Bengal Light Cavalry at Muttra. Surgeon Phillips, however, prevailed on him to defray the expense of the journey by sharing it with a young Scotsman of his acquaintance. Hearsey felt ‘he could not say nay’ though disliked the man forced upon him whom he knew to be ‘of morose and unhappy temper’ and who having spent a year and a half at Baraset (the maximum time allowed) was joining his regiment on a ‘stupid certificate’. The journey was a catalogue of disasters. Hearsey rescued the native crew of another vessel which sank in the river during a storm and received nothing but insults for his troubles. The dullard Scotsman showed his bad temper by beating up the servants, and at length they absconded with Hearsey’s watch and money. After further travails, Hearsey finally reached Lucknow where he stayed with his eldest sister and her husband, Captain Paris Bradshaw, before continuing to Muttra.

When crossing the Jumna at Agra he met by chance the Khanum Zuhur-ul-Nissa, Princess of Cambay, his future mother-in-law and the wife of his kinsman, Major Hyder Young (Jung) Hearsey. Despite his unusual name, Hyder was ‘a loyal and devoted servant of King George’ though he spent much of his early career in native service and had several disagreements with British officials. He had been the ward of Hearsey’s father, and through his influence begun his military career as an A.D.C. to Saadur Ali Khan, the last Nawab Vizier of Oudh, and later entered the Mahratta service under the French adventurer General Perron. John and Hyder became fast friends and spent several sick leaves together, shooting big game whilst nursing one or other back to full health.

Shortly after Hearsey’s arrival at Muttra the 8th Cavalry were ordered on the triennial relief to Cawnpore, but soon after their arrival at the latter place Hearsey was posted to the 6th Light Cavalry who were under orders to join a force under General Martindale which was to act against the Pindarry chief Amir Khan who, supported by Holkar and Scindia, was plundering the Nagpore territory around the Bhonsla’s capital. Promoted Lieutenant on 1 November 1809, Hearsey joined the latter corps in December 1809, but any hopes of active service were quickly dashed when at the approach of Martindale’s force Amir Khan retreated into Rajputana and the Bengal regiments of his force went into a standing camp at Tehree in Bundelkhund, where the 6th Light Cavalry remained until May 1811.

The 6th L.C. spent the next few years at Muttra where Hearsey fought a duel with an officer generally regarded to be a ‘bully’ and ‘a dangerous man’. Hearsey shot him in the thigh and in turn received congratulations and, for form’s sake, a mild reprimand. In 1813 Hearsey was employed by his brother-in-law, Bradshaw, surveying the malaria country of the Terai. After a bout of illness contracted in those parts, Hearsey received permission to rejoin Bradshaw and the force under his command which consisted of one regiment of Native Infantry, a company of the 14th N.I. and 150 men of Gardner’s Police Horse (later 2nd Lancers (Gardner’s Horse)), which had been raised by Hyder Hearsey’s brother-in-law, Colonel William Linnaeus Gardner) on the Nepal Frontier at Gora-Saran, which with his customary misfortune he reached having been robbed of his clothes and having been ‘very much hurt’ when his horse fell down a well. Once recovered, Hearsey took command of the detachment of Gardner’s Horse and was thus employed when Lord Moira declared war on the Gurkhas.

On 16 October 1814 Hearsey, under Bradshaw’s orders, took part in a successful dawn attack on a body of Gurkhas at Barharwa on the Baramatti River, and afterwards led the pursuit of the garrison of Crotsar-Bhonga fort who were charged on the far bank of river and taken prisoner. Detachments were left as outposts and Hearsey returned with Bradshaw to meet the 4th (Dinapore) Division under Major-General Bennet Marley. Bradshaw explained all that had passed and that the outposts must be reinforced or withdrawn. Unfortunately Marley’s main concern was throwing up an entrenchment around his camp, and Gurkhas, swiftly recovering, swept down on the outposts and wiped them out on 1 January 1815, ‘beginning the new year’, as Hearsey put it, ‘rather badly’.

He continued: ‘The moment I heard of these disasters I got permission from Major Bradshaw to go myself, with forty men of my Police Horse, to Goor Pershad in order to look for and rescue any of the wounded or runaways who might have hidden themselves and bring them into camp. I felt my way there and found the enemy had retired with our captured guns and such as they had been able to collect, together with the tents and baggage. I did manage to bring some severely wounded men into camp, and to cover the retreat of those who had escaped ... I also brought in the bodies of Major Sibley and others who had fallen ...

These unhappy events, when reported to Lord Moira, roused his anger, and he directed General Marley to be superseded, and General George Wood [see Lot 7], commonly known by the sobriquet of the Royal Bengal Tiger, took command.’

Early on the morning of 19 February, Captain Pickersgill was out patrolling with a small escort not far from Marley’s camp when he came upon the village of Pirazee which was occupied by the enemy’s infantry. The Gurkhas immediately moved out to attack him, and, while at breakfast, Hearsey, Bradshaw and others, suddenly heard the sound of firing. Marley was sought but could not be found as he had absconded during the night. Colonel Dick ordered the picquets to move to the front and sent Hearsey with the Police to Pickersgill’s immediate support. Hearsey, on arriving at the scene of the fight, found that his horses were sinking up to their knees in marshy ground and was forced to retire under flights of arrows and musketry. He reformed his line on more suitable ground and charged, breaking the Gurkhas and driving them into the village. He then decided to withdraw his men to a new position with the idea of cutting off the Gurkhas’ retreat if they bolted or were driven out by the approaching infantry. Hearsey ordered his kettledrummer to make the appropriate noises to reform but was rejoined by only some thirty or forty men out of 120, the rest being detained by staff officers who had just ridden up.

In his new position: ‘The enemy seemed about 500 in number and I advanced and attacked them. I and my standard-bearer, Dilower Khan, dashed in amongst them. The remainder of my men pulled up and went to the flank of the retreating enemy, leaving us two amongst them; but we, pushing on, rode down many and used our swords with some effect. In parrying a bayonet thrust the blade of my sword fell out of the handle, the rivet having given way. At this moment one of the enemy was in the act of giving me a severe blow with his sword. I threw the
handle of my sword straight in his face, which saved me. Another man stepped aside and shot me with an arrow: the point of it stuck into the wooden knob of my silk sash and split it in two, wounding me slightly in the abdomen. A third man placed the muzzle of his musket close to my ribs and pulled the trigger. Luckily for me, in those days percussion caps had not been invented. The musket had a flint lock, the powder in the pan was moist, and instead of immediately exploding, it burnt like wildfire. This startled my horse, and it shied. The bullet and powder blew the point of the arrow out of my side and set fire to my sash and clothes. The muzzle of the musket had been turned slightly through the movement of my horse; in this way both the standard-bearer and myself forced our way through the retreating mass. We each received three slight wounds, and our horses were also slightly wounded.’

For his services in this affair Hearsey received the thanks of Colonel Dick in Army Orders, and Dilower Khan was promoted by Hearsey to Duffadar-Major. On the advent of Wood, who arrived next day, the force fully expected to advance direct on Khatmandu but fear of fever resulted in a movement south east along the borders of the Terai to the frontier of Purneah. Several stockades were destroyed and the Gurkhas retreated into the hills. There was no road so one had to be cut for the guns and carts by the pioneers through high grass and jungle, and laid over bogs and the steep banks of mountain streams. Hearsey was given the tiresome job of keeping it clear of camp followers and their numerous elephants, camels and bullocks, and for several days he was never out of uniform. Progress was dreadfully slow. In March the column came upon a defended stockade but Wood refused to attack it despite Hearsey’s pleas to do so. He said of this period, ‘I had all the arduous duties of baggage master to perform, and this disagreeable and incapable old General would not even enter my name in orders as “baggage-master” to increase my Cornet’s allowance of pay.’

At the end of this most unsatisfactory campaign, Hearsey, finding himself superfluous to Bradshaw who had a new assistant, rejoined his regiment at Keeta in Bundelkhund in June 1815. The following month he was appointed Adjutant of his corps ‘in consideration of his recent and gallant services on Nepal Frontier’; his predecessor having been ‘seized with fever and died raving mad in three days’. Having raised a fourth squadron of his regiment, Hearsey himself suffered a severe bout of fever and nearly died, but after a lengthy convalescence shooting big game with Hyder Hearsey, he rejoined his corps on the Nagpore frontier where Pindarry bands were laying waste the country. ‘The cruelties these wretches perpetrated on the inhabitants were indeed most barbarous:’ Hearsey recalled, ‘men were tarred, had cotton wound round their fingers, and the hand dipped in oil, and then set alight, to make them disclose where they had hidden their money or valuables. One finger was ignited at a time ... The women and girls were maltreated, and many of them threw themselves down into wells to avoid being dishonoured.’

In May 1817 Hearsey was sent with three troops of his regiment under Colonel Gahan to the temporary cantonment at Telingkeri, about four miles from the British Residency at Nagpore, where they joined an infantry brigade from Madras, under Colonel Hopetoun Scott, and a small detachment of Madras Artillery. Soon after their arrival the monsoon began and fever became rife. At the end of September Gahan was ordered to take command of a brigade at Hoshangabad, leaving Captain Charles Fitzgerald (Ritchie 1-36) in command of the 6th Light Cavalry. The men by this time were in such a poor state of health that Scott ordered a change of ground to a new camp near the gardens of the Bhonsla. At the end of October orders were received that the garrison would move out and encamp at different places on the Nagpore frontier to prevent further Pindarry incursions. But when Scott’s force returned to Telingkeri with this intention, the British Resident, Richard Jenkins (see Lot 13), became aware of the anti-British intrigues being carried on between the Bhonsla and the Peshwa of Poona. The latter attacked Mounstuart Elphinstone at Poona, but was defeated at Kirkee, and on 25 November Jenkins deemed it necessary for the infantry and guns to take post on the Seetabuldee hills over looking the Residency. The 6th Light Cavalry meanwhile relieved the Resident’s Escort under Captain William Lloyd (qv) and took post at the gateway of the Residency. At Hearsey’s suggestion he and FitzGerald made a swift reconnaissance of the surrounding area which was covered with Indian corn eight or nine feet high towards a rivulet called the Nag-nudee. That night and the next day passed quietly, but then at sunset on the 26th the Bhonsla’s army of 20,000 came on and attacked Scott.

As the infantry on the hills struggled to hold the Marhattas at bay, the 6th Light Cavalry were fired upon by the Bhonsla’s artillery, several men and horses being bowled over. The 6th L.C. moved position into the surrounding fields and from here Hearsey, with four men ‘whose horses would not neigh’, reconnoitred the enemy camp from which the Mahratta infantry issued to attack the positions on hills. When he returned it was found that parties of the enemy were pushing towards the undefended Residency. These were swiftly charged and driven away. In the distance flames could be seen against the night sky leaping from the Telingkeri cantonment where a small body of the 1/20th Madras N.I. and thirty troopers of the 6th L.C. had been left under Captain Pew. Six troopers, sent in pairs by different routes, were despatched to recall Pew who duly moved out to join the main body of his regiment on the hills.

Previously, FitzGerald had been told by Scott that if firing was heard between the hills and Telingkeri he was to send of a portion of his men to assist Pew. Firing now broke out in that quarter and Hearsey was sent to investigate with thirty men. He met bodies of Mahratta horse attempting to dispute Pew’s passage and charged them. Then, hastening to Pew’s detachment, he found it deployed in a square, the 6th L.C. troopers within, and defending themselves against yet more enemy horse. Hearsey charged the Mahrattas, who, unable to tell in the dark what strength he had with him, were quickly driven away. He halted his party at a safe distance from the musketry of Pew’s men and taking advantage of a lull in the firing rode forward, shouting “Pew! Friends!” The troopers from the square joined Hearsey and acting as skirmishers led Pew’s detachment to the Seetabuldee position.

At about midnight the Mahrattas sent rocket parties into the fields of high crops and fired into the Residency compound where various officers’ ladies were sheltering. Hearsey at considerable risk to himself posted marksmen in the broken ground who after a short while saw off the rocketeers. Hearsey was by this time pretty well all in having been constantly in the saddle for several days, ‘ ... this was the third night I had not slept, and I told my commanding officer that if I could not get one or two hours sleep I should not be fit for anything in the morning.’

His slumber, however, was shortlived for after about an hour a 12-pounder shot carried away the lower part of his bedding. Meanwhile, Cornet Smith of the 6th, at Lloyd’s request, charged a body of enemy infantry on the slopes of the lower of the two hills that formed Seetabuldee, driving them into the small buildings thereabouts from which they would not come out until he retired.

The first streak of dawn revealed the Mahratta cavalry massing near the Nag-nuddee. The enemy horse were soon joined by infantry and camels with swivel-guns on the saddles, and a battery of 12-pounders which began to enfilade the left flank of the 6th L.C. FitzGerald sent Hearsey to inform Scott of this development and he arrived on the larger hill just as the Bhonsla’s Arab infantry made its determined attack on the party under Captain Lloyd behind a small breast work of corn bags at the summit of the smaller hill. The Arabs drove Lloyd’s men out and took possession of two guns which were then turned on the summit of the larger hill. Hearsey recalled: ‘All this occurred whilst I was awaiting Colonel Scott’s orders, so I witnessed this disaster. There were four of us ... Captain Elliot, Lieutenant Clark of the 24th Madras Native Infantry, Dr. Nixon of the same corps, and myself. We were standing opposite each other talking when the very first cannon shot from the small hill struck off the heads of Clark and Nixon, splashing Elliot and myself with their brains.’ Colonel Scott ordered Hearsey to tell FitzGerald to take the first favourable opportunity to charge the Mahrattas on his flank, but FitzGerald, on being told this, said ‘that to charge such an innumerable body of all arms with three troops of cavalry, with any chance of success, would not be feasible.’ According to Hearsey, FitzGerald further said, ‘the only chance of saving our lives was to cut our way through the enemy and endeavour to join a force that was hastening from Hoshangabad under Colonel Gahan’.

Hearsey continues: ‘The shot from the batteries and camel swivel-guns were falling fast and thick amongst us. I told Captain FitzGerald that I would not desert the infantry, that we must do or die, pointing to the enemy on the plain. The native officers near, hearing us converse together, and partly understanding that a charge upon the battery and enemy was intended, gave cheer, the Mohammedans calling out “Deen! Deen!” meaning “Our Faith! Our Faith!” and the Hindoos getting dust and throwing it on their heads, thus expressing that they were ready to be sacrificed. This showed that our material was good, and that our men were determined to do their best or die.’ Given Hearsey’s zeal, FitzGerald had little choice but to charge, and he decided to attack the mass of horse across the Nag-nuddee and so get away from the artillery fire. The three troops formed into a column of threes and rode towards the watercourse. The portion of the enemy on their flank thought that they were quitting the field and sent a party of horse under a chieftain to intercept them. The chieftain took one look at Hearsey riding at the head of the column with a double-barrelled shotgun in one hand and a pistol in the other and turned and fled. But he was too slow. Hearsey, catching up with him, thrust his pistol into the small of his back blew his guts out. One of the chieftain’s followers attempted to cut him down, but Hearsey waving his empty shotgun in the attacker’s face made him shy away and thus avoided certain decapitation. By the time Hearsey had disengaged, all but thirty men were up with FitzGerald and Smith in the midst of the enemy horse.

Subadar-Major Bhagwan Singh shouted to Hearsey, “Adjutant Sahib, there is a battery of 12-pounder guns on our left!” Hearsey drew up his men and ordered them to charge the swivel gun camels and a number of horsemen who were driven into the 12-pounder battery and the Mahratta infantry beyond. Hearsey continues: ‘I was not long in following them [and] it fortunately happened that the troopers that were with me were mostly trained as horse artillerymen’. The guns were duly turned on the shattered infantry who fled down the Nag-nuddee towards Nagpore, and then turned on the mass of horsemen amongst whom FitzGerald and his party were fighting. The commander of the Mahratta artillery stood alone and resolute near the Nag-nuddee wielding a four-foot long sword. Hearsey charged him but made the error of not riding over him. Instead he leant out to the right and made such a low swoop that his sword point sliced into the ground. As he struggled to regain his saddle, the artillery commander delivered a fearful sword blow across Hearsey’s head and neck, but was himself felled by Hearsey’s young Rajput orderly with a sword cut, which, though delivered with force, failed to slice the whole way through his huge turban. Seeing that the blow had not been entirely successful, the Rajput, drawing his pistol, screamed, “You have killed my master, my commander, my officer, my father, and I’ll put you to death!” With this, he shot the Mahratta through the body, setting fire to his cotton jacket, which igniting his powder horn, ‘blew his body to atoms’.

The effect of the cavalry charge on the course of the battle was as dramatic as the action itself, The infantry on the hill redoubled their efforts and Lloyd led his successful counter-attack on the summit of the smaller hill. Hearsey, with blood streaming down his face reported the success of the charge to Scott and received the reply from Jenkins, “We have witnessed it, and most nobly have you behaved.” Acting on Hearsey’s advice to keep up a steady fire on the hovering bodies of enemy horse, FitzGerald eventually cleared the field and at length the captured guns were brought into the Residency and victory secured. Exhausted by the fatigue of battle, and the effects of his wounds, Hearsey succumbed to fever and was incapacitated for a week, during which time FitzGerald penned a shameful report playing down Hearsey’s key role in the battle, and reinforcements arrived under Gahan and Doveton. Thus strengthened the fight was taken to the Bhonsla who was defeated in the Battle of Nagpore on 16 December and the latter gave himself up to Jenkins. Hearsey himself did not actually take part in the Battle of Nagpore, being told that he would be put under arrest on account of the dangerous state of his wound if he attempted to mount his horse. He watched it however from the larger hill of Seetabuldee.

While Subadar-Major Bhagwan Singh received a gold medal for conspicuous gallantry, 300 bighas of land and a pension of 100 rupees a month, Hearsey received neither a pension nor gratuity for his near mortal wound which left him with a legacy of pain for the rest of his life. In the prosecution of the Third Mahratta War, Hearsey next served in General Marshall’s column and was present at the surrender of Dhamoni and the storm and capture of Mandala. He then participated in the pursuit of Gunput Rao, the Nagpore Mahratta Chief of Horse, and took part in the action of Seoni against the Peshwa’s forces which preceeded the capture of Chanda. In the hot weather of 1818, Appa Sahib escaped from the cutody of Jenkins and took to the Mahadeo Hills where the Gonds rose in his support. But in early 1819 Appa Sahib came to the end of his resources and was given temporary refuge in the fortress of Asseerguhr, which was reduced in the final act of the war in March 1819, Hearsey being present. Appa Sahib escaped to the Punjab where he was afforded the protection of Ranjit Singh. On 31 August of that year Hearsey was promoted Captain.

In April 1820 Hearsey was employed as Major of Brigade with the troops sent to keep order at the great festival celebrated at Hardwar on the Ganges, and was an eye-witness when hundreds of pilgrims were trampled to death as they raced en masse to enter the water at the propitious moment. In 1824-25 Hearsey temporararily commanded his regiment and took part in the punishment of the Mahratta chief of Parapur. At Muttra Colonel Beecher took the command, and at the end of 1825 the corps joined the force assembling under the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Combermere, for the purpose of laying siege to the fortress of Bhurtpoor (10 December 1825 - 18 January 1826).

‘On the day of the assault’, Hearsey recorded, ‘I got permission to throw my squadron into a belt of jungle close to the walls, and there I saw a body of horsemen enter. These proved to be the Raja Durjan Sal and his youthful son, Jagmohan Singh. They had hoped to lie concealed in this extensive jungle till night set in, and then escape. I drove them out, and the Raja and his son, with a number of chosen followers, were obliged to bolt, and were intercepted and captured by a picquet of the 8th Regiment of Native Light Cavalry, under the command of Captain Barbor [qv]. Thus was my hope of being the officer to seize the Raja disappointed. If I had been allowed by my commanding officer to proceed into the jungle with my squadron an hour sooner which I implored him to let me do - the Raja and his son would have been my prisoners, and their capture would have been a happy thing for me.’

Following the siege of Bhurtpoor, during which he received a minor wound, Hearsey was detached with his squadron and personally took the surrender of the fortress of Deig. While encamped at that place he received a surprising letter from FitzGerald stating that it was his intention to return to Europe on furlough and expressing his wish that he should succeed him in command of the 6th Local Horse.

In September 1829 Hearsey was appointed to the command of the 2nd Irregular Cavalry (Gardner’s Horse) at Bareilly. Gardner’s was a silladar regiment, which is to say that the men in the regiment or sometimes those outside it, a retired soldier, his widow, or even a money-lender, owned the places in the corps for which he or she was paid a fixed sum every month by the Government; frequently the native officers owned several places and mounted and armed their sons or nephews as bagirs. Those owners of berths outside the regiment paid bagirs to fill their places and kept a small profit for themselves. The arrangement cost the Government less than half of what it would have to fork out for a trooper in a regular regiment. Hearsey found Gardener’s in ‘a state of internal feud, most of the native officers at deadly emnity with each other, the men badly mounted and worse clothed and armed’, but within a year he completely reformed the corps and saved it from disbandment.

Hearsey married on 7 January 1832 at Nusserabad, Harriet, daughter of Major Hyder Hearsey and the Princess of Cambay. By this union he had four sons and three daughters. He was promoted Major in November 1835 and was advanced to Lieutenant-Colonel on 28 December 1838. In 1839 he commanded the 7th Light Cavalry but the next year transferred at his own request to the command of his old corps the 6th L.C. While travelling down the Ganges to join the regiment at Sultanpore-Benares he rescued Major (later Major-General Sir) Henry Havelock and his family whose boat ran into difficulties and sank in the middle of the river. ‘Thus commenced a friendship with that renowned officer that only ended with his life.’

In 1841 on the occasion of his departure to England on leave for the first time in thirty-four years, Hearsey was presented with a silver vase inscribed with the names of the battles in which the Bengal Cavalry had distinguished itself by the officers of that arm. His furlough, however, was cut short in 1842 in consequence of the disasters in Afghanistan and he rejoined his regiment in October of that year. In 1844 he was ordered with his corps to Nusseerabad where he came under the command of Major-General Sir John Littler (see Lot 33), and the next year marched on the relief of regiments to Ludhiana where Sir Hugh Wheeler commanded.

To Hearsey’s regret the 6th L.C. was ordered to Scinde on the eve of the First Sikh War to protect that territory against attack from Mooltan. At the cessation of hostilities he returned to England on six months furlough but was forced to cut short his stay when his Calcutta agents, Cockerell & Co., failed. On the orders of his close friend Sir Hugh Wheeler, Hearsey was summoned up country with all possible speed to take command of the 7th Light Cavalry who were showing signs of discontent under their then commanding officer. He travelled by ‘carriage-dawk propelled’ (or express), and soon soothed the situation within the corps. At the start of the Second Sikh war Hearsey marched under Wheeler and crossed the Beas to reduce the forts of Runger Nungal and Moraree. On reaching the latter place Hearsey heard that he was appointed Brigadier of Irregular Cavalry with Lord Gough’s army assembling at Lahore. His brigade consisted of the 2nd, 9th and 12th Irregular Cavalry, and he joined the latter in advance of the main force at Ramnugger on the Chenab where he witnessed the deaths of Cureton and Will Havelock.

On the first day of Chilianwala Hearsey’s brigade guarded the army’s baggage which covered an area of no less than four square miles, and twice repulsed the Sikh horse with loss. On moving forward with the baggage to a new camping ground on the 14th, Lord Gough in the presence of his Staff, thanked Hearsey, saying “You have been protecting a moving world.” At Gujerat Hearsey, commanding two cavalry brigades on the right of the line, foiled an attempt to turn that flank. He afterwards took part in his brigades’ seventeen mile pursuit that immediately followed the battle, and captured nine guns, he himself being twenty-three hours in the saddle. He then took part in the prolonged pursuit of the enemy to the Afghan frontier. For these services he was promoted Brevet Colonel on 19 March 1849 and made a Companion of the Bath.

Appointed Brigadier on the permanent staff, he was given command of the troops at Wazirabad where a change in allowances, by accident rather than intent, so offended the Sepoys of the 32nd N.I. that they refused their pay, an act amounting to mutiny. Hearsey immediately arrested the first man to refuse from each company, and then delivered an address that made many ‘hang down their heads in shame’. At a second parade four Sepoys again refused. They were clapped in irons in front of the whole brigade and later sentenced in General Orders ‘to linger out their miserable lives’ in exile. On 28 November 1854 Hearsey was promoted Major-General and given command of the Presidency Division at Barrackpore near Calcutta. He was then sixty-one years of age and was acknowledged as possessing an unrivalled knowledge of the native soldier and of native thought. His first wife having died in 1847, Hearsey remarried in May 1854, Emma, daughter of Thomas Rumball of Friday Hall, Woodford, Essex, by whom he had, with other issue, a son, Charles John Rumball Hearsey (see Lot 94). Of his sons by his first marriage, the eldest, John, and the second, Andrew, became officers in the Bengal Infantry and served their father as Aide-de-Camps in 1857.

On 22 January 1857, Lieutenant Wright commanding a detachment of the 70th N.I. at the Dum-Dum Musketry Depot, near, Calcutta reported that his men were seriously upset by the rumour that the cartridges for the new Enfield rifle were greased with cow and pig fat. Hearsey was informed next day and immediately wrote to headquarters in Calcutta. He knew that the Commander-in-Chief, the Hon. George Anson (qv), and the Adjutant-General were away, and so addressed himself to the Military Secretary to the Government, suggesting that the Sepoys should be allowed to grease their cartridges with oil and beeswax as was the practice of light companies throughout the Army with the bullet and patch for the old pattern rifle. The Military Secretary received Hearsey’s letter on the 27th and acted on it with promptitude giving Hearsey the orders he wanted, and telegraphing the Adjutant-General at Meerut asking him to send out the same instructions to the whole Army. But the Adjutant-General hesitated arguing that the issue of General Orders would raise doubts in the minds of the Sepoys. Unfortunately, doubt already existed not only about the new Enfield cartridges but also the old lubricant used with the old rifle and even the glaze on the cartridge paper of the Brown Bess musket.

Hearsey’s command at Barrackpore included the 2nd Grenadiers, the 34th N.I., 43rd N.I., and 70th N.I., and he was fully aware that the Sepoys’ suspicions had not been allayed. On 8 February he wrote to Calcutta warning of the mutinous spirit that seemed to have ‘taken deep root’, and which in his opinion was a ‘mine ready for explosion’. He declared his intention to parade the troops on the morrow and ‘explain the absurdity of the notion that the Government entertains the most distant intention of interfering with their religion or caste’, which he duly did in his fluent Hindustani. Meanwhile the 19th N.I. refused cartridges at Berhampore and the 34th N.I., who had a detachment recently arrived at that station, were paraded at Barrackpore for another speech by Hearsey. The 19th, in the meantime were ordered back to Barrrackpore to receive punishment for their misconduct.

The explosion which Hearsey feared took place on 29 March 1857. It was the affair of Mangal Pande, an event reckonned to be the first incident of the Indian Mutiny. Mangle Pande, whose name became the contemptuous term for all mutineers, appeared in front of the quarter-guard of his regiment, the 34th, dressed in his regimental jacket but barefoot and wearing a dhoti instead of trousers. He brandished a musket and under the influence of bhang - an infusion of hemp - rampaged up and down, ordering the bugler to sound the asembly and calling on his comrades to resist forcible conversion. The bugler did not comply but the quarter-guard, under Jemadar Ishwari Pande, made no attempt to arrest him. Hewson, the European Sergeant-Major appeared. Mangal Pande fired at him and missed, but again no one made any attempt to arrest him. One man rushed to the house of Lieutenant Baugh, the Adjutant, who rode to the quarter-guard, where his horse was brought down by Pande’s second shot. Baugh and Hewson went at Mangle Pande with their swords but the latter stood his ground and drawing his tulwar cut Baugh across the shoulder and neck. Hewson meanwhile was felled from behind with a blow from a Sepoy’s musket. Both Europeans would have been killed had it not been for a Muslim Sepoy, Shaikh Paltu, who held Mangle Pande around the waist while, belaboured by the butt ends of the guards’ muskets, Baugh and Hewson made good their escape. Shaikh Paltu, pelted by stones and shoes, was obliged to retire also.

At this point Colonel S. G. Wheeler, commanding the 34th, arrived on the scene. He ordered the guard to arrest Mangal Pande, but they refused and he left the ground to report to the Brigadier Grant who was equally incapable of dealing with the situation when at length he appeared. Such was the situation when Baugh staggered into Hearsey’s quarters and told him there was a riot in the native lines. Hearsey, calling out for his two sons, John and Andrew, and Major Ross of his Staff, left at once. When the Hearseys came galloping up to the guard, someone shouted to the General, “Take care, his musket is loaded.” At which Hearsey bellowed his famous response, “Damn his musket!” Lieutenant John Hearsey then called out, “Father, he is taking aim at you!” The General replied “If I fall. John, rush upon him and put him to death.” Having given this order, Hearsey rode up to the guard and shaking his pistol at Ishwari Pande, said “Listen to me. The first man who refuses to march when I give the word is a dead man. Quick march!” The guard obeyed, whereupon Mangle Pande attempted suicide with his musket but only managed to wound himself. He was tried a week later and hanged on 8 April. Ishwari Pande met a similar fate on the 21st of the same month.

Two days after the Mangle Pande affair, the 19th N.I. were paraded before Hearsey and in the presence of H.M’s 84th Regiment and two batteries of field artillery, an order of disbandment was read out. The Sepoys obediently piled their arms and equipment, and, in recognition of their good behaviour since the incident at Berhampore, were allowed to take their uniforms with them to their homes, as well as the last instalment of their pay. Furthermore they were provided with transport to their homes at the public expense and encouraged to visit places of pilgrimage on the way. Many of the Sepoys showed penitence. They blamed their troubles on agitators in the 34th, and even wished they might have been allowed to fight it out with them. When the 19th left the parade ground they cheered Hearsey and wished him a long and happy life. The 34th on the other hand who were disbanded at a later parade took it less quietly than the 19th and marched off in sullen mood indicating that they would cause trouble at the first opportunity. By his well-judged and prompt action in disbanding these regiments Hearsey prevented the ‘unimaginable’ calamity of murder and insurrection at the heart of the British presence in India. Of the other regiments at Barrackpore Hearsey was subsequently obliged to disarm the 2nd Grenadiers and the 34th N.I. The 70th N.I. were also disarmed but remained loyal and volunteered for service in China.

In August 1857 Hearsey was advanced to a K.C.B., but his not insignificant contribution to the history of the ‘Great Mutiny’ did not qualify him for the subsequent issue of the medal for that campaign. He returned to England in 1861 and the next year was appointed Colonel of the 21st Hussars (later 21st (Empress of India’s) Lancers). Promoted Lieutenant-General in 1863, he did not live long to enjoy his hard earned retirement, dying of bronchitis just two years later at 24 Rue Marquetta, Boulogne-sur-Mer, on 23 October 1865.

Refs: The Hearseys, Five Generations of an Anglo-Indian Family (Pearse); Modern English Biography (Boase); The Great Mutiny (Hibbert).