Iron Duke Miniatures

Iron Duke Miniatures

'Hard pounding, gentlemen!'


GLOSSARY 1857 INDIA 


badmash - blackguard, riff-raff, bully boy, opportunist plunderer.

bhisti (also bheestie)- Indian water carrier. As many of the EIC troops would not carry their own water for reasons of caste, bhistsi were indispensable to a Company army. They were assigned in two and threes to companies. The junior man or men would dash around with a water skin, while the senior bhisti tended the bullock on which a number of water skins were carried. Skins needed to be replenished daily.   

company - a sub-unit, usually commanded by captains, of an infantry battalion or a battalion of foot artillery. At full strength a company  would be more than 100 strong. In practice they were often reduced by various kinds of attrition to around the 50 mark.

division - a. internal 2-gun subdivision of a battery of artillery.  b. Large all arms tactical grouping under a general officer.  c. Also used more loosely to mean pretty much any ad hoc tactical subdivision of a force.

duffadar - an Indian NCO in the cavalry arm, equating to sergeant.

ghat - quayside or landing place on a river.

golundauz (various renderings) - Indian artilleryman. 

hackeries - bullock carts.

havildar - an Indian NCO in the infantry arm, equating to sergeant

jemadar - Indian commissioned rank, equating to lieutenant.

mahout - elephant driver.

naick - Indian NCO in the infantry arm, equating to corporal. 

poorbeah - literally an 'easterner', but used derisively by the Sikhs of the Hindu sepoys with whom they had so lately crossed swords in the 1st and 2nd Anglo-Sikh Wars.

pagri/pugri/pugarie - the roll of cloth used as Hindustani headdress; and which most westerners would think of as a 'turban'. It was also used to mean the roll of cloth which British officers and soldiers might swathe around their forage cap or helmet for added protection against the sun. A pugri could also be tied with trailing ends, so as to provide protection against sunburn of the neck.

poshteen - a sheepskin coat, with the fleece on the inside, widely worn on the North-West frontier in winter. Many such items were manufactured in Kabul. 

pucka - proper, good quality, well made. 

risaldar - Indian commissioned rank in the EIC cavalry arm, equating to captain.

risaldar-major - the senior Indian officer in an EIC cavalry regiment, equating to major.

sahib-logue - the British.

sepoy - Indian infantry soldier. 

serai (from caravanserai ) - a square or rectangular compound, not uncommonly with small round watch towers at the corners, intended to function as a roadside traveller's halt. There was usually a well in the centre of the compound. The four ranges arrayed around the compound were flat roofed and made up of many small bedrooms. The back wall of the ranges functioned as the perimeter wall. Each room had a small porthole type window, intended to admit light and keep intruders out, but which in wartime made ideal loopholes. As there was only ever one gate opening to the outside, a serai was in effect a small fort. They were intended as overnight protection against roving marauders and were not strongly enough constructed to resist artillery. 

sirdar - chief or headman. 

sowar - a horseman, typically used of the rank and file in an Indian cavalry regiment.

subedar/subadar - Indian commissioned rank in the EIC infantry arm, equating to captain.  

subedar-major - the senior Indian officer in an EIC infantry regiment, equating to major.

tiffin - lunch. 

tope - grove of trees.

tulwar - Indian sword, typically with a curved blade.designed for the cut rather than the point,  

vakeel - headman of a district.

wing - a half-battalion of infantry, commanded by a major or, in his absence, by the senior company commander in the wing. Theoretically a wing consisted of five companies, but in practice it might be 3, 4 or 5 companies, depending on detachments from the parent regiment or battalion.  

zemindar - Land owner to whom many peasants owed a feudal style obligation. Some zemindars might demand military service of their people.