The Brian Ritchie Collection of H.E.I.C. and British India Medals

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Date of Auction: 23rd September 2005

Sold for £25,000

Estimate: £20,000 - £25,000

The unique Seringapatam and Second Mahratta War group to Lieutenant-General Sir John Rose, K.C.B., Bengal Army, severely wounded at the capture of Agra and Hero of the Defence of Delhi, one of only five recipients of this clasp

(a) The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Military) K.C.B., a superb breast star by Storr & Mortimer, silver with appliqé centre in gold and enamels, circa 1820, the reverse centre plate inscribed Storr & Mortimer, London, fitted with gold pin for wearing

(b) Honourable East India Company Medal for the Capture of Seringapatam 1799, silver-gilt, fitted with silver clip and straight bar suspension, unnamed as issued

(c) Army of India 1799-1826, 3 clasps, Allighur, Battle of Delhi, Defence of Delhi (Lieut. J. Rose, Adjt. 14th N.I.) short hyphen reverse, officially impressed naming, nearly extremely fine £20000-25000

Footnote

Ex Glendining April 1978 (£5,400) and Christies April 1984 (£16,000).

Only 5 clasps for Defence of Delhi were issued to European recipients, all with unique combinations of clasps.

John Rose, the veteran of eight campaigns, was the fourth and youngest son of John Rose of Holme Rose, Inverness, and was born on 23 July 1777, at Croy, Nairn. He was admitted to the Bengal Establishment in 1795 and arrived in India on 6 March 1797. Appointed Ensign in the 5th Native Infantry on 5 October, he was promoted Lieutenant on the 30th, and transferred to the 14th N.I. in 1798. The following year he took part in Lord Harris’s laborious march through mountain and jungle to Seringapatam, and on 27 March 1799 was present at Mallavely when Tippoo’s cavalry attempted to cut up the column. The enemy were beaten off by a bayonet charge of the 33rd Foot and the steady musketry of the Sepoys commanded by the Governor-General’s brother, Arthur Wellesley. Seringapatam was invested on 17 April and taken by storm on 4 May.

Rose next served with the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, 14th Native Infantry, in the Indian Contingent sent against the French on the Egyptian Expedition of 1801. During the latter part of that year and in 1802 he served with the Bombay Army in Gujerat. In 1803, he was appointed Adjutant and Quartermaster of the 14th N.I., and subsequently served through the whole of Lord Lake’s Hindustan Campaign against the Mahrattas. On 4 September he was present at the bloody capture of Allighur and that eveining fell in with his friend Lieutenant John Pester who recorded in his journal, ‘Rode a horse of Rose’s this evening; we went down to the fort, where our Pioneers were draining the ditch, and burying the dead. At sunset we returned, and attended the funeral of those gallant and much lamented officers who fell in the morning.’

A week later on 11 September Rose took part in the Battle of Delhi which resulted in the defeat of Scindia’s army under the French General Bourquien. Next morning he rode out with Pester. ‘Rose and myself did not wait for the line, but mounted our horses and rode on to the General’s camp and prepared the lines for our wing, after which we mounted the horses which our grooms had carried on in the morning with the right wing, and galloped down to the banks of the river [Jumna] to reconnoitre, but with our glasses we could not discover the smallest appearance of an enemy anywhere along the opposite banks. Returned and took some refreshment with Captain Martin, and conducted the wing, which had by this time come up to the ground. Our grooms each carried a leathern bottle of water strapped over their shoulder, to the sides, and shifting Rose’s pistols one of them by some accident went off, and the ball passed through the bottle, which his groom was carrying; the servant was not hurt.’ Rose crossed the Jumna with Pester on the 18th and having carried out their duty of marking out the ground for their brigade, rode on ‘to take a look at the famed city of Delhi’, where Rose was destined to distinguish himself a year later. ‘Very many of the inhabitants had left it; of the city itself every street almost bore the traces of its former grandeur and magnificence, and presented something unusually superb to arrest the attention.’

The advance of Lake’s Grand Army continued and on 10 October Rose was severely wounded at Agra during the fierce fighting that preceded the capture of the fort on the 17th. On the evening of the 10th Pester was under fire in a forward trench when ‘Rose was brought into our post, badly wounded ... we sent him immediately to camp’.


Next day Pester wrote, ‘In the attack of yesterday we had seven officers killed and wounded. I went to Rose this morning; found him in tolerable sprits, considering that his wound was a very dangerous one. I passed the great part of the morning with him, and it was with difficulty that I got away.’ In consequence of his wound Rose was specially mentioned in Lake’s despatch, dated ‘Camp before Agra, 13th October 1803’ (
London Gazette 21 October 1803): ‘The Com.-in-Chief is happy to notice the warm terms of approbation in which L.-Col. McCulloch has reported the behaviour of Maj. Thomas and Lieut. John Rose; and His Excellency laments the temporary loss of their services, in consequence of the severe wounds they received on that occasion.’

Rose was sufficiently recovered to resume his duties by 30 January 1804, on which day he was out with Pester and Brigadier White marking out a new position before Gwalior in order to deal with a threatening move by one Ambojee from his camp near Narwar. Peace had just been concluded with Scindia, but there was doubt as to the intentions of Holkar of Indore. Later in the year Rose was appointed Brigade Major to Colonel William Burn’s mixed regular and irregular native force at Saharunpore. On 2 September Burn learnt of Monson’s disastrous retreat in the face of Holkar’s forces, and he quickly determined to hold Delhi against the enemy. He arrived there on the 5th, ‘having experienced considerable molestation from the villagers who sculked in his rear, and with impunity cut off the baggage, which could not keep up, as the fatigue of the troops (marching nearly 30 miles a day) and the importance of the object in view would not allow him to punish the marauders.’

At first, Burn was reluctant to defend Delhi from within, due to the delapidated state of the walls, and he took up several positions before the city, but at length was directed by the C-in-C that ‘the defence of the King [of Delhi]’s person, and, if possible the city was to be the grand point.’ Accordingly, he entered Delhi on 7 October and prepared to defend its ten mile perimeter, giving over two irregular battalions of his meagre force of 2,000 men to the protection of the Emperor. On the 8th, the 18,000 strong enemy opened his bombardment with over 100 guns, and, by the evening of the 10th, succeeded in punching three practible breaches in the city walls, ‘in spite of the unremitting exertions of both officers and men in repairing the damage.’

In order to pre-empt the inevitable assault, Burn selected Rose to lead a sortie of two hundred bayonets against the enemy’s principal works of a ‘very fine battery for 24 guns, and trenches for two battalions.’ With Rose at their head, ‘The whole’, wrote Burn, ‘were speedily and well conducted to the Enemy’s battery and soon got possession of their guns and spiked them. The party returned under a heavy discharge of shot and grape. The alarm and confusion occasioned by such an attack caused considerable slaughter among their own people who after their flight from our small party, were taken for our own troops and fired upon in every direction. Lieut. Rose headed the detachment and with the whole of the officers exerted himself in executing the service to my entire satisfaction’ (Calcutta Gazette 31 October 1804).

Lord Lake commented: ‘Lieut. Rose who commanded the party which stormed the enemy’s battery with such spirit and success is likewise entitled to my praise and gratitude. By a prompt execution of his orders he completely surprised the enemy, and having rendered their guns unserviceable returned into the town with order and regularity’ (Calcutta Gazette 8 November 1804). The Siege of Delhi was raised on the 15th with the approach of Lake and the Grand Army, and a few days later Burn was detached to Saharunpore, then besieged by the Sikhs. En route his detachment was overtaken at Shamli by 20,000 cavalry under the personal command of Jaswant Rao Holkar, and was attacked for several days without respite. With stores running low, Burn, on 31 October, appointed ‘Lieut. Rose to command a foraging party, when his conduct was such as again to procure him the thanks of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief; who finally relieved the detachment from their extreme distress.’ Towards the end of that eventful month Rose discovered that Pester had been struck down with fever. ‘My friend Rose’, he wrote, ‘who was stationed at Delhi, and who had behaved most gallantly during the siege, as I had often witnessed his doing on former occasions, particularly in the battle of Delhi and at the siege of Gwalior, heard of my illness, and sent an orderly to my tent to conduct me to his quarters in the city [Delhi], in which I was as comfortably lodged as the unpleasant state in which I was would admit.’

In further prosecution of the war, Rose continued to serve with Burn in the pursuit of Holkar and against the Sikhs in the upper Doab, and, having defeated the latter, was next employed in Rohilkand against Ameer Khan who had ‘long infested and plundered that country.’ On 10 March 1805, Burn’s detachment, exhausted by a twenty-eight mile forced march, suddenly came upon a strong force of the Khan’s troops and succeeded in putting them to flight. Next day, Burn detached Rose and, placing him in command of the irregular cavalry at his disposal, sent him in pursuit of the enemy: ‘The Lieutenant came up with their bazars, baggage, &c. under a convoy of 2,000 horse and foot, and succeeded in capturing the principal part of the bazars and cattle, and in killing and wounding a great number of the enemy.’

Thereafter, Burn carried out further operations in the Sikh country and ‘conquered a considerable part of it, and made peace with all the chiefs on the left bank of the Sutlej, and in performing this duty he had many opportunities of noticing Lieut. Rose’s services.’ On completion of his duty with Colonel Burn, Rose was promoted Captain and was appointed Major of Brigade at the Presidency in 1806. In 1808, he went on furlough, returning to do regimental duty in 1811 with the 2/14th N.I. He was advanced to the rank of Major on 1 May 1813 and in August of that year was appointed to the command of the newly-raised Mirzapur Local Battalion with whom he served during the Nepal War in 1815. He relinquished the command of the latter unit in 1816 and was posted Lieutenant-Colonel to his regiment’s 1st Battalion in 1817. He served during the Third Mahratta War in Major-General Sir Dyson Marshall’s Division in the Deccan and was responsible for taking possession of Peetoreeah and Dauohee. In 1817, he succeeded to the command of the 1/14th N.I. and held that appointment until 1823 when he went on permanent furlough. On the reorganisation of the Army he was transferred to the rolls of the 63rd N.I. as Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant and was advanced to Colonel Commandant in 1829. In 1831, Rose was created a C.B., and six years later was made Major-General. On the Coronation of Queen Victoria, he became a Knight Commander of the Bath and in November 1846 he was advanced to the rank of Lieutenant-General. Sir John Rose died at his family seat, Holme Rose, in Scotland on 9 September 1852.

Refs: Hodson Index (NAM); Officers of the Bengal Army, 1758-1834; Modern English Biography (Boase); East India Military Calendar, Vols II & III; Dictionary of Indian Biography; IOL L/MIL/10/20; War and Sport in India, 1802-1806, An Officer’s Diary (Pester).