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In spite of this, armed bands were gathering from every direction, and it was necessary to strike boldly before the hostile army could assemble. The genius of the soldier was equal to the occasion. Hs marched rapidly to the edge of the desert, and having posted his troops in positions to cut off the escape of the Ameers, resolved upon and executed the most daring feat of his career.
Seven days' march in the desert, in a position considered inaccessible to any but the hardiest natives, lay the powerful fortress of Emaun-Thur, the stronghold of the Ameers. Here, the native princes believed, that in the event of their defeat in the open field, they would be able to rally their forces, and collect a fresh army, safe from the attacks of the English. Great was their dismay, however, when they learned that the English commander was advancing through the desert upon their stronghold. It was a bold move upon which Charles Napier resolved. With five hundred men, natives and Europeans, mounted on camels, and with a battery of nine pounders drawn by the same means, the old soldier pushed on for seven days, and at last the impregnable fortress stood before him ; but silent and deserted. The Ameers had fled in dismay before the daring band.
A brief halt was made. Emaun-Thur was blown up and destroyed with ten thousand pounds of gunpowder, and the return march was begun. For seven days more the men pushed onward through the sea of sand, and at last reached their comrades whom they had left on the edge of the desert. The march and the destruction of the fortress had produced a powerful impression upon the natives. They had shown them that they were contending with a foe for whom nothing was too difficult, and whose arm could reach them any where. Still they resolved to make a determined effort to destroy him. They continued to collect their forces. Efforts to treat with them were made by the British Commissioners, but Charles Napier distrusted them, and continued to advance.
The march into the desert took place early in 1843, and by July of the same year Napier was at Mutaree, within a day's march of the capital. There he learned of the failure of the negotiations with the princes who had been treating simply to gain time, an advantage, however, of which his steady advance had deprived them. He learned also that the Ameers were strongly posted at Meeanee, six miles from Hydrabad, with about eighteen thousand men, plentifully supplied with artillery. Other troops were hurrying on to join them. His own force consisted of twenty-eight hundred men, of whom only four hundred were English, and twelve guns, but he resolved to attack the enemy at once before their combinations were completed. It was a desperate throw, but the game required unflinching nerve.
Accordingly on the 17th of July, 1843, he made a fierce attack upon the native army, and forced it to abandon the field. He lost two hundred and fifty-six men, and the enemy five thousand.
Scarcely had the field been won when General Napier was informed that Shere Mohammed, the Lion of Meerpoor, was only a few miles off with ten thousand men, hastening to join the defeated army. In spite of this, however, he summoned Hydrabad to surrender. The authorities asked for terms. "Life, and nothing else,” was the reply. "Decide before midday, for the dead will then be buried, and my men will have had their breakfast." Hydrabad was a strong city, and might have defied every effort of the English, but the terror of Meeanee was too great, and three days after the battle the red cross waved over the towers of the romantic old capital. Shere Mohammed professed submission, and retired to his stronghold at Meerpoor.
Charles Napier was convinced that the lull was only temporary. His keen eye detected fresh dangers. Shere Mohammed was collecting forces for another stand; but time was as important to the English as to him. So Napier held Hydrabad, and hurried reinforcements to him. Soon he was at the head of five thousand men, and advanced at once upon the Lion whom he found with twenty thousand men, occupying a magnificent position at Dubba, six miles south of Hydrabad. Here, as at Meeanee, the battle was a desperate hand-to-hand struggle, and, as in the former engagement, the enemy withdrew slowly and sullenly. The Lion retreated to the desert. Napier followed him. Meerpoor was occupied, and the desert fort of Omercote secured. Mohammed emerged from the desert to make one
more stand, but his communications were seized, his forces surrounded and dispersed, and he himself forced to escape across the Indus, a fugitive.
The conquest of Scinde was now complete, and Napier was made its Governor. Richly did he deserve the honor. It was his genius, his energy that had destroyed the power of the Ameers; but he had a more trying task before him now. Scinde was to be quieted. A nation of robbers, feudal chiefs, and predatory bands, was to be brought under the reign of law and order. It was a difficult undertaking, but the old soldier went manfully to work at it, and succeeded well. “The Beloochee was submissive, and ceased to be a robber, though he did not readily become a trader or agriculturist. The sword and shield were the appurtances only of the chief. Gibbets, with murderers hanging on them, stood throughout the land. Robbers were chased into remote districts and taken. Small bodies of police moved hither and thither, where armed bands had scarcely dared to go before. The lowest appealed for justice and had it; before the tribunals a man was a man,
whether Ameer or Ryot. The tide of emigration flowed in on the country.” On the northwestern border, however, was the domain of a powerful robber-chief, Beja Khan. This outlaw caused such great annoyance that Charles Napier resolved to destroy his power, Collecting his forces, he moved swiftly across the desert, and entered the robber's country. The whole march was scarcely less wonderful than that upon Emaun-Thur, and its effects were more decisive. The robbers abandoned their homes and retired to their stronghold at Twikkie, whose immense strength would have baffled a less determined man than their stern foe. Napier cared little for rocks and hills, however. He had driven his enemies into one band, and shut them up within their lair. His troops were closing around them. They had an abundance of provisions, while the robbers were starving. At last they surrendered. The robbers were subdued, and planted as colonists.
The stern, implacable conqueror, having forced his enemies into submission, became their friend. Justice, fair and even-banded, was meted out to all, and he was looked up to as a protector, and hate was turned to reverence.
When the Sheik war broke out in 1845, General Napier, by
extraordinary efforts, collected and put in the field in forty days a completely organized and equipped army of fifteen thousand
It was his promptness and vigor that caused the result of the campaign to favor the English, although he was not actually in command until after the battles.
In the autumn of 1847, he resigned and left Scinde to save the life of his wife, and returned to England. He was not to stay there long, however. A great disaster befel the British arms, and their entire power in the East was seriously threatencd.
So great was the danger that the Duke of Wellington sent for General Napier, and begged him to go out and take command. “Either you or I must go," were his words. Napier consented, and the Directors, though. hostile to him, were forced to accept him.
He reached India after the battle of Goojerat had been fought, and the danger averted. He at once set to work to reform the army. The work was difficult, and he had to encounter the hostility of the Governor General and Council, who exerted all their energies to thwart him. Being his superiors in rank they succeeded in many instances : but, undaunted, he persevered, and in spite of the jealousy and hostility which surrounded him, succeeded in rendering the Indian army more efficient than it had ever been before.
In January, 1851, he left India for England again. His journey was an ovation. Crowds of natives whom he had conquered, and then ruled so wisely that they learned to love him, surrounded him with every mark of honor and affection. In Scinde he was presented with a sword, and his reception at Bombay was a triumph.
The remainder of his life was passed in tranquility. His last appearance in public was as one of the pall bearers at the funeral of the Duke of Wellington.
On the 29th of August, 1853, he expired peacefully. He lay on his old camp bedstead, surrounded by trophics of his Indian campaigns. At his feet was the chief Ameer's white marble chair of state, on which lay his service sword, which he had inherited from his father, and over his head Aapped in the morning breeze the colors of the 22d Regiment that had led
the fight at Meeanee and Dubba. Amid these, and surrounded by his weeping family, the spirit of the great soldier went back to the God who gave it. Here we must lay down our pen.
Our task has been a pleasant one, but we feel that we have not done justice to the theme. We have endeavored to tell simply and briefly the story of one to whom, though great in his manhood and his prime, it was reserved to become in his old age, a period of life when most men are content to live upon the past, one of those privileged beings who appear in history from time to time like luminous beacons, dissipating the darkness of their epoch, and throwing light into the future.”
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him ; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”—Isa. lv. 6, 7.
In almost every earthly pursuit there is a favorable time for accomplishing human purposes, a time adapted to success. And the larger part of man's achievement is to be accounted for by the aptness with which this favorable time is discerned, and the facility with which it
" Strike while the iron is hot.” The same principle applies to things spiritual and eternal. All times are suitable for seeking the Lord; and yet there are times which are more especially so, times which hold out stronger encouragement, and afford greater facilities, times when it is peculiarly true that the Lord is near, and may be found.
The text is an exhortation to men to improve these seasons of God's especial nearness in their search for Him.
I. It is implied here that men must seek the Lord would they find Him; that they have lost Him, that they are without Him in the world. The word “seek” in the text, originally signifies to “tread a VOL. YI.—NO. XXXII.