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150 yards, when, at 10 o'clock, the enemy opened a fierce cannonade from his whole line. At first his balls fell short, but quickly reached us. Thus upon him, and capable of better ascertaining his position, I was compelled to halt the line, though under fire, for a few moments, until 1 ascertained that, by bringing up my right, and carrying the village of Aliwal, I could with great effect precipitate myself upon his left and centre. I therefore quickly brought up Brigadier Godby's Brigade; and, with it, and the 1st Brigade under Brigadier Hicks, made a rapid and noble charge, carried the village, and two guns of large calibre. The line I ordered to advance,—H. M.'s 31st Foot and the Native Regiments contending for the front; and the battle became general. The enemy had a numerous body of cavalry on the heights to his left, and I ordered Brigadier Cureton to bring up the right Brigade of Cavalry, who, in the most gallant manner dashed in among them, and drove them back upon their Infantry. Meanwhile a second gallant charge to my right was made by the Light Cavalry and the Body Guard. The Shekawattee Brigade was moved well to the right, in support of Brigadier Cureton, when 1 observed the enemy's encampment, and saw it" was full of Infantry: I immediately brought upon it Brigadier Godby's Brigade, by changing front, and taking the enemy's Infantry "en-reverse." They drove them before them, and took some guns without a check.
While these operations were going on upon the right; and the enemy's left flank was thus driven back, I occasionally observed the Brigade under Brigadier Wheeler, an officer in whom I have the greatest confidence, charging and carrying guns and everything before it, again connecting his line, and moving on, in a manner which ably displayed the coolness of the Brigadier and the gallantry of his irresistible brigade,—H. M's 50th Foot, the 48th N. I., and the Simoor Battalion,—although the loss was, I regret to say, severe in the 50th. Upon the left, Brigadier Wilson, with H. M's. 53rd and the 30th N. I. equalled in celerity and regularity their comrades on the right; and this Brigade was opposed to the "Aieen" troops, called Avitable's, when the fight was fiercely raging.
The enemy, well driven back on his left and centre, endeavoured to hold his right to cover the passage of the river, and he strongly occupied the village of Bhoondree—I directed a squadron of the 16th Lancers, under Major Smyth and Captain Pearson, to charge a body to the right of a village, which they did in the most gallant and determined style, bearing everything before them, as a squadron under Capt. Bere had previously done, going right through a square in the most intrepid manner with the deadly lance.—This charge was accompanied by the 3rd Light Cavalry under Major Angelo, and as gallantly sustained. The largest gun upon the field, and seven others, were then captured, while the 53rd Regiment carried the village by the bayonet, and the 30th Native Infantry wheeled round to the rear in a most spirited manner. Lieut.-Col, Alexander's and Capt. Turton's troops of Horse Artillery, under Major Lawrenson, dashed among the flying infantry, committing great havoc, until about 800 or 1,000 men rallied under the high bank of a nullah, and opened a heavy but ineffectual fire from below the bank. I immediately directed the 30th Native Infantry to charge them, which they were able to do upon their left flank, while in a line in rear of the village. This native corps nobly obeyed my orders, and rushed among the Avitabile troops, driving them from under the bank, and exposing them once more to a deadly fire of twelve guns within 300 yards. The destruction was very great, as may be supposed, from guns served as these were. Her Majesty's 53rd Regiment moved forward in support of the 30th Native Infantry, by the right of the village. The battle was won; our troops advancing with the most perfect order to the common focus—the passage of the river. The enemy, completely hemmed in, were flying ffom our fire, and precipitating themselves in disordered masses into the ford and boats, in the utmost confusion and consternation; our 8-inch howitzers soon began to play upon their boats, when the "debris" of the Sikh army appeared upon the opposite and high bank of the river, flying in every direction, although a sort of line was attempted to countenance their retreat, until all our guns commenced a furious cannonade, when they quickly receded. Nine guns were on the
river by the ford. It appears as if they had been unlimbered to cover the ford. These being loaded, were fired once upon our advance; two others were sticking in the river, one of them we got out; two were seen to sink in the quicksands; two were dragged to the opposite bank and abandoned. These, and the one in the middle of the river, were gallantly spiked by Lieutenant Holmes, of the 11th Irregular Cavalry, and Gunner Scott, of the 1st troop 2nd Brigade Horse Artillery, who rode into the stream, and crossed for the purpose, covered by our guns and light infantry.
Thus ended the battle of Aliwal, one of the most glorious victories ever achieved in India, by the united efforts of Her Majesty's and the Honourable Company's troops. Every gun the enemy had fell into our hands, as I infer from his never opening one upon us from the opposite bank of the river, which is high and favourable for the purpose—52 guns are now in the Ordnance Park; two sank in the bed of the Sutlej; and 2 were spiked on the opposite bank; making a total of 56 pieces of cannon captured or destroyed.* Many jingalls which were attached to Avitabiles's Corps, and which aided in the defence of the village of Bhoondree, have also been taken. The whole army of the enemy has been driven headlong over the difficult ford of a broad river; his camp, baggage, stores of ammunition and of grain,—his all, in fact, wrested from him, by the repeated charges of cavalry and infantry, aided by the guns of Alexander, Turton, Lane, Mill, Boileau, and of the Shekawattee Brigade, and by the 8-inch howitzers;—our guns literally being constantly ahead of everything. The determined bravery of all was as conspicuous as noble. I am unwont to praise when praise is not merited; and I here most unavowedly express my firm opinion and conviction, that no troops in any battle on record ever behaved more nobly;—British and Native, no distinction; Cavalry, all vying with H. M.'s 16th Lancers, and striving to head in the repeated charges. Our guns and gunners, officers and men, may be equalled, but cannot be excelled, by any artillery in the world. Throughout the day no hesitation—a bold and intrepid advance;—and thus it is
• Eleven guns, since ascertained to be sunk in the river, total 67; 30 odd jingalls fell into our hands.
that our loss is comparatively small, though I deeply regret to say, severe. The enemy fought with much resolution; they maintained frequent rencontres with our cavalry hand to hand. In one charge, upon infantry, of H. M.'s 16th Lancers, they threw away their muskets and came on with their swords and targets against the lance.
Having thus done justice, and justice alone, to the gallant troops his Excellency entrusted to my command, I would gladly, if the limits of a despatch (already too much lengthened, I fear,) permitted me, do that justice to individuals all deserve. This cannot be; therefore must I confine myself to mention those officers, whose continued services, experience, and standing, placed them in conspicuous commands. In Brigadier Wheeler, my second in command, I had a support I could rely on with every confidence, and most gallantly did he lead his brigade. From Brigadiers Wilson, Godby, and Hicks, I had also every support, and every cause to be gratified with their exertions. In Brigadier Cureton, Her Majesty has one of those officers rarely met with; the cool experience of the veteran soldier is combined with youthful activity—his knowledge of outpost duty, and the able manner he handles his cavalry under the heaviest fire, rank him among the first cavalry officers of the age; and I beg to draw his Excellency's marked attention to this honest encomium. In Major Lawrenson, commanding the Artillery, Lieut.-Col. Alexander, Captain Turton, and Lieut.-Col. Lane, the service has officers of the very first order; and I am equally satisfied with Captain Boileau, in command of the nine-pounder battery, and with Lieutenant Mill, in charge of four light guns. The two 8-inch howitzers did right good service, organized, equipped, and brought into the field by the exertions, and determination to overcome all difficulties, of Lieut.-Col. Lane, equally well served, and brought forward always with the Infantry, by Lieutenant Austin.
To Brigadiers Mac Dowell and Stedman, commanding their gallant brigades of cavalry, the fortune of the day is greatly indebted; and to all Commanding Officers of Cavalry and Infantry, my warmest thanks are due. To Major Smyth, commanding H.M.'s 16th Lancers, who was wounded; to Major Bradford, of the 1st Light Cavalry; to Major Angelo, of the 3rd Light Cavalry; to Major Alexander, of the 5th Light Cavalry; to Captain Hill, of the 4th Irregular Cavalry; to Major Forster, of the Shekawattee Brigade; and to Captain Quin, of the Body Guard; to Lieut.-Col. Spence, commanding H.M.'s 31st Foot; to Major Bird of the 24th N.I.; to Captain Corfield of the 47th N.I.; to Lieut-Col. Ryan, K.H., of H.M.'s 50th Regt.; to Captain Troup, of the 48th N.I.; to Captain Fisher, of the Sirmoor Battalion; to Lieut.-Col. Phillips, of H.M.'s 53rd Foot; to Captain Jack of the 38th N.I.; to Captain Fleming of the 36th N.I.; and to Brigadier Penny of the Nusseree Battalion.
His Excellency having witnessed the glorious services of H.M.s' 31st and 50th regiments, and of the 24th, 47th, and 48th Native Infantry, I have only to report upon H. M.'s 53rd, a young regiment, but veterans in daring gallantry and regularity; and LietenantColonel Phillips's bravery and coolness attracted the attention of myself and every staff officer I sent to him. The 30th and 36th regiments N. I. are an honour to any service; and the intrepid little Goorkhas of the Nusseeree and Sirmoor Battalions in bravery and obedience can be exceeded by none. I much regretted I had no Brigade to give Brigadier Penny, who is in orders for one, as his Excellency is aware. I can only say, therefore, that when he gets his Brigade, if he leads it as he did his gallant band of Goorkhas, it will be inferior to none.
The service of H. M.'s 16th Lancers his Excellency has witnessed on a former occasion; and the exalted character of this regiment is equally before him. The 1st and 3rd Light Cavalry and the 8th Irregulars I believe he has not seen in action; and it is my duty, therefore, joyfully to report the manner they contended for the glorious prize of victory, in the many charges they this day delivered; and it will be equally gratifying when I assure his Excellency the Body Guard under Captain Quin, and the 5th Light Cavalry well did their duty. The Shekawattee Brigade under Major Forster, is steady, obedient, and well-appointed, artillery, horse, and infantry, each arm striving to distinguish itself in the field.