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Bilúchis cried aloud for conflict. It was on the promulgation of the result of their conference with the British representative that the infuriated Bilúchis determined to murder him and those who accompanied him on their return from the Hyderabad durbar; and the lives of these gentlemen were saved only by the Amirs themselves directing a strong escort of the noblemen of their court and their own followers to provide for the safety of the party as far as the British residency. On the same day, a formal deputation, and subsequently up to the 14th, repeated messages were sent by the Amirs to the British representative, entreating him to give them the means of dispersing their intractable followers by a slight promise, or failing it, to provide for the safety of himself and party, as they could not prevent the Bilúchis from attacking him. Of course no promise could be given, though the British representative still deferred to depart, as his doing so would close the door against accommodation, and at once bring on hostilities, which he was most anxious to avoid. At the latter date confidential servants were sent from the chiefs individually to warn Major Outram of his danger in delaying his departure, as they would be forced by their followers to accompany them in an attack on the agency. On the 15th this event took place. The published official document, describing the brilliant defence of the agency, an enclosed building on the eastern bank of the river, by the British repre
sentative and his small band, against immense odds, will be found elsewhere. Major Outram not being reinforced, and having performed all the task assigned him, effected an honourable retreat, and rejoined the force under Sir Charles Napier; and on the 17th of February, the General, who by this time had arrived near the capital, finding the Amirs of Sindh posted at Miani, six miles from Hyderabad, in the dry bed of the Fullali branch of the river, and in numbers about twenty-seven thousand men, with fifteen pieces of artillery, resolved to attack them, notwithstanding their overwhelming numbers of nearly ten to one, and a position of such strength and difficulty, that only British troops, headed by such a soldier as Sir Charles Napier, could have
ROUGH SKETCH OF OPPOSING FORCES AT THE BATTLE OF MIANI.
ventured to assail it. It would be the height of presumption to attempt any description of this action beyond the admirable official despatch of the General*; and it only remains to observe, that since Clive's glorious victory at Plassey there has been nothing achieved by native or European troops in India at all to compare to it.
Subsequent to the action, the leading Amirs of Khyrpúr and Hyderabad surrendered unconditionally as prisoners of war, and the fort of Hyderabad was taken possession of by the British troops. In it were found all the treasures in specie and jewels of the Amirs, said variously to amount to about a million sterling. The Amirs, Mir Mahomed and Mir Sobhdar, who were not in action, but whose followers were present, were afterwards included in the general treatment, and became prisoners of war, though they claimed protection as refusing to act personally.
The noble conduct of these chiefs individually towards the British representative, whom they had long known intimately, and appreciated as he deserved, merits particular mention: they saved his life at the expense of their own interests, and were never ceasing in their assurances, that happen what would, they personally were only the instruments in the hands of an infuriated people clamouring against what they considered a direct infringement of their sacred rights.
* See Appendix.
In other parts of the country attacks were made on small parties of our detached troops, but in every case were bravely repulsed. The unflinching courage of a small party of the 15th regiment, N. I., under a native officer, deserves to be noticed. Finding it impossible to sustain their position on the bank of the river against the large bodies of the enemy, the sepoys betook themselves to a boat, and thus for three days sustained the continued attacks of the enemy in a narrow channel, making their way as tide and wind permitted, until the whole reached camp in safety, without the loss of a man, but inflicting severe punishment on the Bilúchis. The native officer, for his noble conduct, was deservedly promoted. A European officer and a Parsi merchant were captured on the river, and murdered; but the perpetrators of the deed suffered the punishment due to their crime.
There can scarcely be a greater proof of the Amirs themselves not intending to proceed to extremities, and being driven by their Bilúchis to opposition, than the fact of their leaving all their property at Hyderabad, as also their families, which they would otherwise have certainly removed to their places of refuge, in the fastnesses of the Bilúchi mountains to the westward, had their faith in the desert strongholds been weakened by the destruction of Imamgur, and also surrendering themselves to the British General the moment their troops were defeated.
War being now declared in Sindh, the British detachment which had achieved the overthrow of the Amirs' forces was yet too weak to hold the city and fort of Hyderabad, and also to sustain the whole force of the country, which would be directed against its position at the capital; a reinforcement was consequently called for from the troops stationed in the upper country at Sukkur; and on the 3d of March a regiment of native cavalry, one of native infantry, and a troop of European horse artillery, marched by the eastern bank of the river towards Hyderabad, which the force reached on the 22d of that month, after having checked an attack made by the enemy at a place called Mattari. A junction being thus formed with the General, he determined to pursue the enemy, who were reported to be in great numbers in his neighbourhood, under the command of Shir Mahomed of Mirpúr, a branch of the Talpúr family previously noticed. Having at length fixed upon a formidable position at a village called Duppa, near the Falláli, Sir Charles Napier gave the reinforcing detachment one day's rest, and then informed his troops that the next day, the 24th of March, he should go in quest of the enemy, and attack him wherever he found him.* This was at the place above named, where 20,000 Bilúchis were in position behind two deep trenches, consisting of a larger and smaller watercourse, running at nearly right angles from the river (Falláli),
*For further particulars, see Appendix.