Iron Duke Miniatures

Iron Duke Miniatures

'Hard pounding, gentlemen!'

  A picture paints a thousand words!

                                           1st Bengal Fusiliers marching down from the hills, bound for Delhi, at the start of the Mutiny. 
Here we see the regiment, right at the start of hostilities, in its summer clothing which it has yet to adapt for active service. Note that shirts are white and loose fitting. Shortly after the point at which this scene is set, the regiment dyed its summer shell jackets and trousers 'khaki', which in its case produced a shade of grey, as suggested by many of the Atkinson works below. Neck curtains were also fitted to the forage cap to provide protection from the sun. Contrary to popular myth, the nickname 'Dirtyshirts', used of 1st Bengal Fusiliers at Delhi, had actually been acquired some decades earlier in the century. Their fighting in shirtsleeves was frowned upon by many officers on Delhi Ridge. When Brigadier Archdale Wilson took command, he issued a general order which insisted that regiments paraded for combat properly dressed. As a result the regiment would have worn shell jackets from that point on, including during the Storming of Delhi. 

                                                                                   EIC European infantry bound for Delhi. 

Usually the best course of action with Atkinson-based lithographs is to treat the colouring of the plate with a pinch of salt and look past the colour for what Atkinson himself, (an officer of the Bengal Engineers), would have drawn in pencil. In this instance the burning grenade motif on the front of the pouch belt suggests that this is another portrayal of 1st Bengal Fusiliers. The first adaptations to campaign dress, including the dying of white summer clothing, had already taken place by the time the regiment reached Delhi.

                                                     The Battle of Badli-ke-Serai, an action fought in the British approach to Delhi. 
Another of the excellent series of Atkinson prints from the Delhi campaign. This is said to show HM 75th Regiment, which mounted a costly frontal attack on an emplaced heavy battery. The 75th was supported on its flank by 1st Bengal Fusiliers. 

                                                                   Bengal Horse Artillery flying into action with the 9th Lancers. 
As everybody else at Delhi dyed their white summer clothing 'khaki' to produce hugely variable results from grey to dark sand, and every shade in between, the 9th Lancers and their supporting troop of horse artillery remained staunchly pristine in their whites. The lithograph probably errs in showing airpipe helmets, rather than the so-called Roman helmet - the crested brass helmet worn in full dress by the Bengal Horse Artillery. In full dress it was worn uncovered with a red horsehair plume attached. There is at least one surviving example of a white wadded cover for the helmet, suggesting that it was perfectly normal for it to be worn in an undress guise too.  Certainly Major Harry Tombs' troop set out for Delhi wearing brass helmets and its dark blue winter uniform. The troop is unlikely to have been wearing its glorious (and gloriously expensive!) full dress uniform, but rather the much more plain undress version.  It is doubtful that it remained in blue for very long, but nonetheless conceivable that the troop's baggage and summer uniforms did not come up the lines of communication in time for the Battle of Badli-ke-Serai, one of the earliest general actions in the uprising. In the Bengal Horse Artillery all six horses in a team were ridden. The numbers six and seven of the crew were Indian golundauz and rode the axle-tree seats either side of the gun barrel. 
                                                                                                                               Mutineers at Delhi. 
Few of the sepoys who fought at Delhi turned out in their uniforms. The beads featured here were a popular accessory and had even been worn in uniform before the Mutiny. The styles of facial hair are an authentic portrayal of the prevailing fashions in the Bengal Army. 

Sepoys of a Bengal Native Infantry Regiment at musketry practice.

It is sometimes forgotten that the sepoys were also issued with a white lightweight uniform for the summer months.

                                                                                1st Bengal Fusiliers defending Delhi Ridge.
The British were not at first numerically strong enough to press the siege and had to content themselves with defending their positions on Delhi Ridge, until such time as reinforcements and siege artillery could be redeployed from the Punjab. The mutineers regularly sallied out of the city to attack the British and many general actions were fought in the broken landscape within sight of the city walls. It was expected amongst the mutineers that a newly arrived brigade would make a major attack on the British within a few days of reaching the city. Some of the heaviest fighting took place around a position known as Hindu Rao's house, where Major Chalres Reid, the commandant of the Sirmoor Gurkha battalion had his headquarters. Reid defended his position with his own regiment, picket companies of the 1st Bn. 60th (King's Royal Rifle Corps) and, when pressed, support from 1st Bengal Fusiliers and other regiments. 

                                                                                       1st Bengal Fusiliers bringing in captured guns.  
This incident is recorded in the primary sources. In the foreground are members of the regiment as they would have appeared prior to Wilson's general order clamping down on fighting in shirtsleeves.

                                                                              1st Bengal Fusiliers on picket duty at Delhi. 

This Atkinson scene would appear to post-date Wilson's general order on dress, as the 'Dirtyshirts' are now properly turned out in shell jackets. It needs to be borne in mind that whilst Atkinson might have provided notes for colouring the finished lithograph, there is an ever present possibility that something will have been lost in translation. One primary source talks, for example, of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers wearing blue dungri  trousers on Delhi Ridge. That said, this print, like others in the series, does give a good idea of the 'slate grey' shade of khaki worn by much of the Delhi Field Force. The vignette also confirms the popularity of the airpipe helmet amongst the regimental officers. By contrast an officer of the 2nd Bengal Fusiliers mentions that he and his colleagues had no access to helmets and wore forage caps accordingly.

                                                              Sikh infantry and irregular horse escorting the siege train to Delhi. 
The principal siege gun was the 24-pounder, seen here. Note how the barrel is fitted in the second trunnion mount for travelling. In action the forward mount would used, with the result that the barrel would overhang the carriage much more than is suggested here. In front of the 24-pdr is the much shorter-barrelled 8-inch howitzer. Elephants were not commonly used to tow guns into action, substantially because they are far too intelligent to remain unconcerned at being shot at. Instead, it was the usual practice to transfer heavy guns to bullock-draught before moving onto a battlefield. 

      A heavy battery on Delhi Ridge.
Here we see the 24-pounder emplaced in a siege battery. 

                                                               Hodson executes the sons of Bahadur Shah in the aftermath of the fall of Delhi. 
Note the red turbans and sashes worn as a field sign by the officers and men of Hodson's Horse.  Below  is a portrayal of Hodson's charge at Rhotuck, an action which took place during the Siege of Delhi. While the print is specifically captioned as showing Hodson's Horse, the absence of the red sashes suggests a strong possibility that the caption is erroneous. Primary source evidence pre-dating Rhotuck establishes that Hodson's regiment was certainly wearing sashes by the time the action shown here occurred. It was actually two troops of the Guides Cavalry which played the central role in the charge, with Hodson's men attacking in close support. The Guides did not wear sashes. Against that background, the notion that Atkinson might actually have portrayed the Guides in this scene is compelling. 

Close quarter fighting around the guns. 

General Sir Colin Campbell, C-in-C India, in his campaigning gear.

                                            The much enlarged foreground of a Felix Beato photograph, from Lucknow,  dated late 1858.
Whilst this photograph is not conventionally attributed to a regiment, the officer recently returned from the laundry is clearly Jeremiah Brasyer, an ex-ranker, who famously adopted Sikh dress during the crisis at Allahabad and commanded the devotion of his men for the rest of the war. These men, then, are members of the Ferezopore Regiment (Brasyer's Sikhs). Their kurtas and drainpipe-style trousers are originally white items dyed 'khaki', though whether to produce a grey shade or a variant of  buff-brown it is difficult to say. It is also unclear at what point they dyed their outfits, but it would not be surprising to find that it was in the late Aug/early Sep 57 period, at which point it would appear to be the case that the rest of the regiments in Brigadier-General Havelock's force received smock-frocks. Contrary to popular myth, the regiment's turbans are plainly not red, but rather are dyed to the same shades of 'khaki' as the rest of the uniform: note how closely individuals' turbans match their kurtas. There is one primary source reference to Brasyer himself wearing a red turban on one particular occasion - the probable source of the myth - though the combination of this photograph and the portrait below demonstrate that it was by no means his inveterate practice to do so. Belts: white with black 60-round ammunition pouch. The cap pouch may be brown or black.  Weapons: P1842 percussion musket.
                                          Captain Jeremiah Brasyer: Commandant of the Regiment of Ferezopore (Brasyer's Sikhs). 
A determined and extraordinarily courageous officer who, at the outbreak of the Mutiny, was single-handedly responsible for saving the fort at Allahabad, a key logistic installation vital to any prospect of an effective British military fightback. Brasyer stood at the door of the magazine with a burning torch and threatened to blow the place to kingdom come, unless his men stood by him and disarmed the company on guard, a sub-unit from the disaffected 6th Bengal Native Infantry. This they did, devotedly following their commandant through to the end of a long war, in which the regiment repeatedly distinguished itself. Brasyer rose to Colonel and was awarded a CB for his services.  The Iron Duke tribute to Brasyer, a personality figure sculpted in his likeness by Paul Hicks, is to be found at code IMBC 7.  

Major General Sir James Outram. 

                                          The Felix Beato photograph of officers and men of 1st Madras Fusiliers in Lucknow  (late 1858). 
By this time the smock-frocks worn by the regiment in 1857 had evidently been replaced with a more formal style of frock. The picture would suggest a great variety of shades in the blue cap covers favoured by the regiment. We have shown our 1857 fusiliers in the Madras Europeans forage cap, as sported by the two officers on the left, and open necked smock-frocks like the ones in the picture below. 

                                        British infantrymen, typically identified as HEIC Europeans, at Cawnpore (after its recapture). 
They are wearing smock-frocks. The man on the right has a covered P1855 shako. The blue cap cover on the man on the left suggests that he at least may be from the 1st Madras Fusiliers, although the picture is not uncommonly associated with the Bengal Fusiliers.   

                                                                  HM 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders at the second relief of Lucknow. 
The dress worn by the 93rd at Lucknow  in November 1857 is portrayed with a tolerably high degree of authenticity here, although it should be noted that only officers and SNCOs had a badger's head sporran. The frock is a China Expedition 'boat-coat', in brown 'holland' cloth, with red facings at collar and cuffs. In reality the purportedly 'brown' holland was much closer to a dark sand colour. The 93rd was one of a number of regiments which had been bound for China when the Mutiny broke out and which, on rounding the Cape, received orders to divert to Calcutta. It was a numerically strong and experienced battalion: the very men, indeed, who three years earlier had been involved in the renowned 'Thin Red Line' episode at Balaclava. Their brigadier that day was Sir Colin Campbell who, perhaps unsurprisingly, demonstrated barely disguised favoritism of the regiment in India. The 93rd played a central role in Campbell's Second Relief of Lucknow.