William Topaz McGonagall
The Capture Of Lucknow - Poem by William Topaz McGonagall
'Twas near the Begum Kothie the battle began,
Where innocent blood as plentiful as water ran;
The Begum Kothie was a place of honour given to the 93rd,
Which heroically to a man they soon did begird.
And the 4th Punjaub Rifles were their companions in glory,
And are worthy of their names enrolled in story,
Because they performed prodigious wonders in the fight,
By killing and scattering the Sepoys left and right.
The 93rd Highlanders bivouacked in a garden surrounded by mud walls,
Determined to capture the Begum Kothie no matter what befalls--,
A place strongly fortified and of enormous strength,
And protected by strong earthworks of very great length.
And added to these obstacles was the most formidable of all--
A broad deep ditch that ran along the wall,
Which the storming party not even guessed at before;
But this barrier the British soon did climb o'er.
But early the next morning two batteries of Artillery were pounding away,
And the fight went on for the whole day;
And the defenders of the building kept up rattling musketry fire,
And when night fell the British had to retire.
Next day the contest was renewed with better success,
And the 93rd in all their beauty forward did press,
And moved on toward the position without firing a shot,
And under cover of some ruined buildings they instantly got.
And here for a few minutes they kept themselves under cover,
While each man felt more anxious than another
To attack the merciless rebels while it was day,
Because their blood was up and eager for the fray.
Still the enemy kept up a blazing fire at them pell-mell,
But they fired too high and not a man of them fell;
And the bullets whistled around them again and again,
Still on went the unwavering Highlanders with might and main.
But when they reached the ditch they were taken by surprise,
By the unexpected obstacle right before their eyes;
But Captain Middleton leapt into the ditch and showed them the way,
And immediately the whole of the men were after him without delay.
Leith Hay himself was among the first across,
And gained a footing on the other side without any personal loss;
And he assisted in helping the rest out of the ditch,
While the din of war was at the highest pitch.
'Twas then the struggle commenced in terrible earnest:
While every man was resolved to do his best;
And the enemy barricaded every entrance so as a single man could only pass,
Determined to make a strong resistance, and the British to harass.
But barrier after barrier soon was passed;
And the brave men no doubt felt a little harassed,
But they fought desperately and overturned their foes at every point,
And put the rebels to flight by shot and bayonet conjoint.
The Sheiks and the Horse Guards behaved right well--
Because beneath their swords, by the score, the Sepoys fell;
And their beautiful war steeds did loudly neigh and roar,
While beneath their hoofs they trampled them all o'er.
And as for John McLeod-- the pipe-major of the 93rd,
He kept sounding his bagpipes and couldn't be stirred--
Because he remembered his duty in the turmoil,
And in the battlefield he was never known to recoil.
And as for Major General McBain-- he was the hero in the fight;
He fought heroically-- like a lion-- with all his might;
And again and again he was met by desperate odds,
But he scattered them around him and made them kiss the sods.
And he killed eleven of the enemy with sword in hand,
Which secured for him the proudest of all honours in the land,
Namely, that coveted honour called the Victoria Cross,
Of which many a deserving hero has known the loss.
And as for brave Hodson-- he was a warrior born,
And military uniform did his body adorn;
And his voice could be heard in the battle afar,
Crying-- "Come on my boys there is nothing like war!"
But, in a moment, a volley was discharged at him,
And he fell mortally wounded, while the Sepoys did grin;
Then the Highlanders closed with their foes and made them retreat,
And left them not till every rebel lay dead at their feet.
Then Sir Colin Campbell to his men did say,--
"Men, I feel proud that we have captured Lucknow this day;
Therefore strike up the bagpipes and give one hearty cheer,
And enjoy yourselves, my heroes, while ye are here."
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