Slit HUGH ROSE.*
MAJOR MALLRSON, the able Anglo-Indian whose lectures, full at once of spiritand of special and minute knowledge, have frequently
• been quoted in our columns, has published a short life of his late Commander-in-Chief, Sir Hugh Rose. As was natural, it is an eulogistic life, perhaps too eulogistic for those who think that in biographies the true alternatives are silence or the whole truth. certainly too eulogistic for those who believe, in the teeth of facts, that Sir Hugh is a mere soldier of the bureau. He is undoubtedly able with his pen, undoubtedly also a man who believes that he can organize by written orders—a feat no man on earth ever suc- ceeded in accomplishing—but he is a considerable man nevertheless, and has done considerable things. Sir Hugh Rose is the son of a man in the diplomatic service, who just as his son approached manhood was Envoy at Berlin, with interest at home rather in advance of his diplomatic position. The lad in 1820 entered the 93rd or Sutherland Highlanders, and ought, like other ensigns, to have lounged on the bridges of county towns in the regulation manner, but his father having interest as aforesaid, he was allowed to act as aide-de-camp, or private secretary, or in some such capacity, to the Envoy at Berlin, then the first military school in Europe. He received some permanent impressions there, and acquired a knowledge of the chief Continental languages, Continental ways, and Continental men which afterwards stood him in good stead. He was next promoted to the 19th, in which regiment, with only eight men behind him, he beat off a mass attack of Leitrim pea- santry, indignant because he had captured their favourite smug- gler, but did nothing else worth record. After little more than six years' service he obtained, having interest, an unattached majority, and was appointed to the 92nd Highlanders, in which regiment he served eleven years, and among other things put down mass meetings in Ireland, which at the time were considered ex- ceedingly formidable. He had an idea, it appears, which has adhered to him through life, that with respect to movjng objects momentum increases power, and used to move his men at a speed which irri- tated his adversaries beyond all measure. It is very trying when you have arranged a mass meeting for ten o'clock, fully believing that troops cannot arrive before four, to find them drawn up on the ground at half-past nine, and mass meetings used when Major Rose approached somehow to melt away. He worked on as Major till 1840; when he was appointed Deputy Adjutant-General to the force, or rather skeleton of a force, ordered to act in Syria on behalf of the Porte against Mohammed Ali. A skrimmage with some Egyptians brought him into notice with the public, hie own Government, always disposed to notice him, were more than satis- fied with his conduct, and on the departure of the force he was appointed Consul-General in Syria, with very extensive powers. He contrived to keep peace in the Lebanon, which was his prin- cipal duty, and was promoted to the highest post under Lord Stratford de Redelyffe, becoming on his Lordship's departure in 1853 Chargé d'Affaires in Constantinople.
He had a good deal to do there. It was during the absence of
• Sir Hue, Rose. Calcutta: LepaEe awl Co.
his chief that Prince lifenschikoff presented his ultimatum to the Porte, and the Turks, afraid that Nicholas of Russia had more brains than fortunately for the world he really possessed, believed that if the ultimatum were rejected he would at once transport an army from Sebastopol to Constantinople. They therefore demanded as their condition for refusing the Russian demands— which nevertheless we believe they would in the last resort have refused without it—that England should give them some pledge of her readiness to lend material assistance. Colonel Rose, though aware of the extreme antipathy entertained by a powerful English party to any war, and of the dislike felt by a section of the Cabinet towards this war, still accepted the responsibility, and ordered the fleet then stationed at Malta into the Dardanelles. Admiral Dundas refused to obey a mere chargé d'affaires, but that made little difference. The Turks, convinced at last that England meant action, grew bold, the Measchikoff propositions were re- pelled, time was given for Lord Stratford's arrival, and Constanti- nople was saved at the cost of a great war. The result may be condemned by men who reason after the event, and cannot see how completely the Crimean War changed the face of Europe ; but it was the result desired by the British Government and people, and the use of a diplomatist is so far as possible to execute the national will while informing the national mind, not to initiate a special policy of his own. In the war which followed Colonel Ross was appointed Queen's Commissioner to the French. Army, that is in fact Envoy from the British General to the French Camp, or rather to that French Council of War, composed of great officers and imperial agents, which the moment a French army is in movement begins to hold its sittings. Outsiders always assert and imagine that a French army is a despotism, but those within its lines know well that no army in the world is so completely under the guidance of profes- sional opinion, that in none is it so difficult for an incompetent man to keep his place—witness the Canrobert resignation—in none so easy for the really able, when not politically distrusted, to come rapidly to the front, It suffices to describe Colonel Rose's services with this Council, five-sixths of which were not of a character to be recorded in despatches or publicly honoured, that he was invested by the Emperor with the Cross of the Legion of Honour, that he was three times named by Marshal Caurobert for the Victoria Cross, which was only refused him on the wise principle that it is not the business of a general officer to gat himself shot, and that he was created by his own Government Lieutenant- General and K.C.B. "for his services in the field.."
In 1857 Sir Hugh Rose was ordered to India, to take part in the suppression of the mutiny, and on his arrival in Bombay was placed in command of what was subsequently known as the Central India Field Force, a minute army of all arms. The duty assigned to this force was a peculiar and excessively arduous one. It was to march across India as rapidly as possible, by a route never tra- versed by British troops, overawing the Marhatta powers on each side, and after a march of a thousand miles executed at speed to join Sir Colin Campbell, then embarrassed with all Oude and the unbroken sepoy army of Rohilcund. Sir Hugh did it. On his road he had to capture Rathgarh, a fort as strong as Moultan, to defeat the Rajah of Banpore, with an army far outnumbering his own, and to recapture Jhausee and defeat the terrible girl- Messalina and Zenobia united in a Hindoo woman of twenty-five— who ruled in that fortress, and ruled it so that, after defeating the army which Tenth Topee sent for its relief, Sir Hugh Rose had still to conquer the fortress in this style :—
" They marched forward at the signal, but on debouching into the plain in front of the city wall, they were met by a heavy fire from artillery, and the discharge of rockets, stinkpots, stones, blocks of wood, and other missiles. Moving straight on, however, they planted their ladders against the wall, but some of these were too short, some broke down under the weight of the stormers, and the officers who succeeded in gaining the wall on the others were cut to pieces before they could receive assistance. Still our men pushed on, and very opportunely, the shout from the main column, showing that the breach had been stormed, came to assist them. The opposition in their front then slackened, and the rampart was gained. The attempt at escalading on the left had been successful, and the three columns, uniting, poured into the towa. But resistance was not yet over. Covered by the fire from the fort, th3 enemy showed a determined front, and each house and street wore c3ntested with a fierce obstinacy. Colonel Turnbull, commanding our artillery, was shot in this street battle. Nevertheless our troops pressing steadily onwards made way; and drove the enemy into the palace, the place he had fixed upon for his most resolute resistance. Here the conflict was desperate. Every room was defended with the most determined fury. But it was of no avail. From room to room were the rebels driven with great slaughter, until at last the palace was our own. Even then the contest was not over. The Ranee's Body Guard, some fifty in number, still held the stables. Rushing into the stable-yard to attack them, exposed as it was to the fire of the fort guns, several of our men were in the first instance cut down. The rebel troopers, after firing their carbines from behind their horses, mounted, and charged sword in hand. Some of their comrades at the same time fired the stables. A terrible confusion followed. The glare and heat of the dames, the fury of the excited combatants, the fire of the fort plunging amid friends and foes, the small space for the contest, all combined to make a scene such as has been seldom witnessed. It vim not till every man of that body guard had been cut down that order was in some degree restored."
Sir Hugh Rose, after a short rest, rendered absolutely essential by the condition of his force, which had for seventeen days never put off its clothes, and which had half its officers sick, marched on Tantia Topee's second army, then collected at Calpee, defeated them, and after a second desperate battle, in which for the first time he was in danger of losing his army, and, as Lord Clyde's im- mediate staff still affirm, made a terrible mistake by attacking on the wrong side of the town, he drove the rebels headlong from Calpee. So utterly exhausted was the force when this feat had been ac- complished that, says an officer on his staff, "The General was very ill ; his chief of the Staff, Colonel Wetherall, C.B., was in a raging fever ; his quartermaster-general, Captain Mac- donald, worn out ; the chaplain of the force had lost his reason, and was apparently sinking fast." For be it remembered Sir Hugh Rose is one of those men whom the tropics do not suit, who under excessive heat get symptoms of apoplexy, and have to sit under trees, and have water thrown over their heads, and suffer as only fat civilians are ever supposed to suffer, yet have energy to go on to the end. Such a march, concluded successfully under such cir- cumstances, and in the teeth of such frightful obstacles, has always appeared to us conclusive as to the abilities of the man who per- formed it. There are those, we know, who deny these abilities, who declare that Sir Hugh Rose is the best despatch-writer in Europe, who attribute to him the escape of Tantia Topee and the subse- quent Gwalior campaign, but criticisms of this kind abound in all wars, and there remain the broad facts unquestioned by any one. Sir Hugh Rose did in the midst of a hostile population march a very small army a thousand miles through three considerable native armies, and over three first-class native fortresses, to reach the point he was ordered to reach, and did reach it in good time.
If he had erred in allowing the escape of Tantia Topee towards Gwalior he amply redeemed his error. Moving rapidly from Cal- pee under a burning sun,—thermometer 130 degs. in the shade,— hh overthrew the last army of the Ranee of Jhansee, slew the haughty virago, who used to give herself every night to the soldier who had shown himself bravest in the morning's exploits, captured Gwalior by a coup de main of unexampled boldness, and wrote a despatch of which the following is one paragraph :—" ' As commander of the troops engaged,' wrote Sir Hugh in his despatch, 'it is my duty to say, that though a most arduous campaign had impaired the health and strength of every man of my force, their discipline, devotion, and strength remained un- varying and unshaken, enabling them to make a very rapid march in summer heat to Gwalior, fight and gain two actions on the road, one at Morar cantonments, the other at Kotah-ka-semi ; arrive at their posts, from great distances, and by bad roads, before Gwalior before the day appointed, the 19th June ; and, on that same day, carry by assault all the enemy's positions on strong heights, and in most difficult ground, taking one battery after another, twenty-seven pieces of artillery in the action ; twenty-five in the pursuit ; besides the guns in the fort ; the old city ; the new city ; and finally the Rock of Gwalior, held to be one of the most important and strongest fortresses in India."
For these services, services whichlost nothing, but also gained no- thing by his skill in despatch-writing, askill which used to worry his enemies at home almost as much as his victories did his enemies in the field, Sir Hugh Rose was appointed first Commander-in-Chief in Bombay, and then Commander-in-Chief of the armies throughout India. In the latter position his services are and will be matters of dispute, but we believe these three points are certain. As an ad- ministrator he made the best of a very bad job, that is, he really organized the details of "amalgamation," so far as with his very restricted powers they were capable of organization, which we are bound to add is net saying a very great deal. In the course of this work, which was a most disheartening one, he contrived in almost every case to push the best men to the front, but also contrived to create in the mass of officers an impression that length of service had ceased to be a claim, that all security was gone, and that nothing remained but to extort from Parliament the Means of retiring quietly. Secondly, belonging as Sir Hugh Rose does to a society which is not that of 1865, he made some social mistakes which created for him in India an amount of opposition he would not have encountered at home for similar errors; and thirdly, he was incomparably the best Commander-in-Chief the private soldier ever had. Major Malleson gives some remarkable facts on
this point, but we prefer to quote the testimony of a perfectly dis- interested witness, an old aud singularly able missionary, better acquainted perhaps with the condition of the soldier in India than any officer alive. "Well,' Well,' he said, 'Sir Hugh Rose has his faults, no doubt. I am not going to defend him or them. But for seventeen years I have been trying to get justice done to the men, and the only chief I have ever known who really did it was Sir Hugh Rose. Get a grievance clearly before him which affected the men, and it disappeared. Red tape made no difference, for he understood red tape, and if the barrackmasters proved that sick soldiers ought not to have lights at night, he proved that some order or other authorized the expense, and the soldiers got them. They always got things they ought to have had twenty years ago." That is the direct evidence of a man whose word would be instantly accepted as final by every Anglo-Indian, and we do not see what clearer testimony can be given to a man who, while thus caring for his armies, has in a career of forty-five years never been defeated, never been out of favour, never made a determined enemy, and never, we must add, written a despatch which had not the effect of putting his services in the very clearest light without appearing to touch on them. Why in the world should successful generals be required to writebad English? andyet they are required; and believing him to be one of the ablest administrators in the British army, we should believe in him still more if his general orders and despatches did not bear such deep traces of deliberate literary care.