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 £1,500

Estimate: £900 - £1,200

The Nepaul War medal to Major-General H. F. Caley, 1st Grenadier Battalion

Army of India 1799-1826, 1 clasp, Nepaul (Lieut. H. F. Caley, 1st Grenr. Bn.) short hyphen reverse, officially engraved naming, fitted with silver ribbon brooch, edge bruise at 6 o’clock, otherwise nearly extremely fine £900-1200


Henry Francis Caley, a surgeon’s son, was born at Doncaster, Co. York, in 1792, and on arrival in India on 25 November 1807 was sent to the Cadet College at Baraset (founded 1803) a few miles outside Calcutta, where the Cadets, left to their own devices for much of the time, were invariably in a state of ‘continual uproar, blowing coach-horns and bugles, baiting jackals with pariah-dogs, fighting cocks, shooting kites and crows’. On 26 December 1807, Caley was posted to the 1/1st Bengal Native Infantry, but was retained at Barasat until 1 December 1808, when he was finally permitted to join his battalion at Tara Mizapur. Baraset College, ‘after the ruin of many promising young men and the premature death of not a few’, was broken up on the orders of the Court of Directors in 1811.

Promoted Lieutenant in 1814, Caley received his baptism of fire against the Gurkhas in the Nepaul War in the spring of 1815, when proceeding by forced marches from Meerut, with picked men of the newly formed 1st Grenadier Battalion, he joined the troops operating in the Kumaon Hills under Colonel Jasper Nicolls at Almora and participated in the pursuit of a body of the enemy across the Kotila at Jhulaghat. After briefly commanding Nicolls’ personal escort, Caley became Adjutant of the 2/1st N.I., an appointment which he held until 1824. He was employed in the operations in the Aligarh District in early 1817 which saw the siege and capture of Hathras, and following the outbreak of the Third Mahratta (Pindarry) War was present during the operations in the Saugor District; at the surrender of Dhamoni; the siege and capture of Mandala; and the final operation of the war, the fall of the celebrated fortress of Asseerghur in March 1819.

Following the reorganisation of the Bengal Army in 1824, Caley was posted to the 4th N.I. (late 2/1st N.I.), and later that year took part in operations against the Bhils. He was placed in command of his regiment as Major in the spring of 1842. In 1844, he incurred the censure of the C-in-C, Sir Hugh Gough, for ‘having, without authority, granted the discharge to nearly two hundred men’ including the ring leaders of a mutiny who refused to proceed to Sind, and of whom the C-in-C intended to have made an example. On attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in mid 1844, he was removed to the command of the 64th N.I. In September 1854 he was appointed Brigadier and posted to the Sind-Sagar District, Rawalpindi, and was transferred successively to the rolls of the 74th N.I., 50th N.I. and 1st Bengal European Fusiliers within the space of five months. Thereafter he held the regimental colonelcy of 64th N.I. until it was blotted out of the list of the Bengal Army during the Great Mutiny. He was made Major-General in 1856 and obtained permission to reside at Rawalpindi, where he died on 21 December 1866.

Refs: Hodson Index (NAM); Officers of the Bengal Army 1758-1834; Modern English Biography (Boase); Soldiers of the Raj (De Rhé-Philipe); IOL L/MIL/10/22.