Page images

the numberless expenses resulting from this incessant frontier service, the charges for Imperial Service troops fall heavier on Kashmir than on any other State. The loyalty of the Maharajah, who has lately received a timely acknowledgment of the services of his troops by being given the rank of Major-General in the army, and the military zeal of his brother Rajah Sir Ram Singh, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the Kashmir forces, have both been averse to any reductions of those forces hitherto, but it is certain that some diminution of military expenditure in Kashmir is urgently needed. The fact remains, however, that the Imperial Service troops of this State have been tried in more or less prominent positions in three campaigns, and have shown themselves to be of undoubted value.

Next in point of numbers to Kashmir come the Imperial Service troops of the Maharajah of Patiala, the leading Sikh ruler in the Punjab, and the son of a prince who was conspicuous for the firmness of his support of the British Government during the critical period of the Indian Mutiny. In Patiala there are one regiment of lancers and two of infantry, each six hundred strong, and composed mostly of the best classes of Sikhs, whose reputation as soldiers is worldwide. This brigade formed part of the force assembled at Lahore in December 1894, on the occasion of the durbar held there by the Governor-General, and it marched past before him at the review of the troops. Both cavalry and infantry were conspicuous for their steadiness and smartness. The lancers have also attended several camps of exercise, and have always earned very high

praise for their efficiency. The Maharajah has always taken great personal interest in his troops; and this, coupled with the exertions of his officers, has resulted in the formation of a valuable brigade, as keen and eager for active service as it is smart on the paradeground.

The remaining Imperial Service troops of the Punjab are supplied by the States of Kaputhala, Bakawalpur, Jind, Nabha, Faridkot, Sirmur, and Maler Kotla, and include four and a half squadrons of cavalry, three battalions and four companies of infantry, and two double companies of Sappers, or a total of 3200 men. Some amongst these are particularly useful troops, especially the squadron of cavalry and battalion of infantry supplied by the Rajah of Jind, which are second to none in efficiency. Another corps which calls for special notice on account of its very great value is the double company of Sappers furnished by the little hill State of Sirmur. Nothing can exceed the excellence of these troops, both in efficiency on parade and in the special details of their profession. Maler Kotla has lately started a similar corps, and the example so furnished is an excellent one.

All the above-named corps are composed of those stalwart races of the Punjab which have done such yeoman service for the British in the last half-century, and which have made the regiments of our Punjab army famous amongst the finest troops of the empire.

We now come to the contingents furnished by Rajputana, the ancient home of all that was brave and chivalrous in war, but whose races we have never yet succeeded in attracting in any

large numbers to our service. Imperial Service corps are maintained by Ulwar, Jodhpur, Jeypur, and Bikanir, each of which requires special description.

The eagerness of the late Maharajah of Ulwar to prove the sincerity of his offers of assistance in 1887 was so great that, before the scheme now under review was definitely decided upon, he took the initiative in forming a special regiment of cavalry on these lines, and secured at his own expense the services of a British officer to superintend its instruction. The result was that, when the other Imperial Service regiments were yet untrained, the Ulwar Lancers was already an efficient regiment; nor has it ever yielded this supremacy, but still remains acknowledged to be the best drilled and smartest corps amongst the Imperial Service cavalry, and one which is fit and ready for any service. Nor is the regiment of Ulwar infantry far behind this standard. The young Maharajah takes the same enthusiastic interest as did his father in his Imperial Service troops, and the only disappointment which he and they have felt is that no opportunity has yet arrived for their employment on active service.

Were it not for this enthusiasm in Ulwar, one would be tempted to think that the very extraordinary ardour in the neighbouring State of Marwar was altogether exceptional. At Jodhpur, the capital, there have been formed two regiments of lancers, composed entirely of those Rhator Rajputs who for centuries contested the supremacy of Central India with their kinsmen of Mewar, and who seem to have lost nothing of their martial enthusiasm, Brilliant horsemen, the finest swordsmen in India, the

material of these regiments is an ideal one for light cavalry; but in addition to this the corps have been infected with the spirit of a very exceptional man, Colonel Maharajah Sir Partab Singh, K.C.S.I., brother of the late and uncle of the present ruling Maharajah, a nobleman of more than ordinary enlightenment, a keen soldier and an accomplished gentleman, whose greatest and most genuine ambition is to bare his sword in the service of the Queen. Under such circumstances, and with such leadership and guidance, the Jodhpur Lancers have earned a distinguished name for dashing horsemanship and military ardour; they only need the steadying influence of occasional brigade work with regiments of our own service to become some of the best drilled as well as the most brilliant cavalry in India.

In the State of Jeypur a corps has been formed to which must unhesitatingly be awarded the palm of being the most practically useful of all the Imperial Service troops this is a transport train of 400 carts, 1000 ponies, and 650 men, perfectly equipped and brought to a wonderful finish of organisation and discipline by the liberality of the Maharajah, and the energy of its superintendent, Dhanpat Rai, coupled with the able supervision of brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel Tate, the inspecting officer. Those who followed the history of the late Chitral expedition are well aware of the great difficulty experienced in collecting sufficient transport for General Low's relief force within a reasonable time. The maintenance of a sufficient reserve of transport during peace-time to supply the demands of a force in the field has always been the most difficult military and economical problem

in India. It can therefore be readily understood how invaluable are such corps as the Jeypur transport train and the similar corps at Gwalior, and how willing the Government of India would ever be to accept the services of such, when offered for active work as readily as were the Jeypur and Gwalior corps last year.

Finally, the Bikanir Camel Corps of 500 men and camels is an item of the Imperial Service scheme no less valuable than the transport trains just described. Our campaign in the Soudan proved the value of such a corps for service in the East, and this is the first corps of the kind formed in India since the days (fifty years ago) when the present 6th Punjab Infantry was raised as the Sind Camel Corps. The experiment has been amply justified by the result. The corps is a regiment of mounted infantry, 500 strong, fully equipped with camel transport, and capable of carrying with them, on the back seats of the camel saddles, another body of men of equal strength. It has reached a high state of efficiency, and is animated by the same forward spirit which exists in all the Rajput corps, and indeed in almost all the Imperial Service troops throughout India.

Other States of Central or Western India which maintain such troops are Gwalior, Rampur, Bhurtpore, Indore, Bhopal, Bhavnagar, Navnagar, and Junagad, of which the first alone need be specially described. The Gwalior transport corps has been already mentioned; it remains only to relate that, like the Jeypur transport corps, it started with enthusiasm for the Chitral expedition in April last, the Maharajah himself attending its entrainment; that it served throughout the summer, and that its work and conduct were univer

sally excellent. The Maharajah of Gwalior also maintains two regiments of lancers, in which he takes great personal interest, and which are both fine bodies of men.

The troops of Mysore and Hyderabad alone remain to be noticed.

It has already been related that a small force of regular soldiers has been for many years maintained in Mysore, under the superintendence of British officers. From the cavalry of this force were formed the four squadrons of lancers which represent the Imperial Service movement in the State. The excellent administration of the late Maharajah, which has been mentioned, was an element of success in the scheme in Mysore. Now, unfortunately, that assistance has been removed; but it is probable that the able men who are conducting the government during the minority of the young Maharajah will be no less favourable to the work. The troops are commanded by Sardar Desaraj Urs, a cousin of the Maharajah, and a keen soldier, whose military ambition was sufficient to induce him to serve for some years in one of our own native regiments, with which he saw active service in the Burma campaign. The regiment is composed of good material, is well horsed and equipped, and showed to considerable advantage when it was reviewed by the Viceroy at Bangalore in November last.

It is noticeable that Hyderabad, whose prince was the first to offer assistance to the Government of India, was the last of the principal States from which such assistance has been accepted. The reasons for this were numerous. The territories of the Nizam are situated in a part of India whose inhabitants are not a fighting race; almost the whole of his existing large force is composed of

mercenaries: it was felt that Imperial Service troops, if composed of natives of the State, would not be valuable, and mercenaries could not be accepted. The Nizam, however, renewed his offer on more than one occasion, and at length, in 1892, orders were issued for the formation of two regiments of Imperial Service lancers, 800 men in all. They were to be selected from the "reformed troops" and the "Golconda Brigade," which " which have been already mentioned, and the whole were placed under the orders of Major Afsur Dowlah, the commander of the Golconda Brigade. All that depends on Major Afsur Dowlah and his officers has been done to make these troops efficient; but the material is inferior, and the regiments have not the same advantages, in many respects, as are enjoyed by Imperial Service troops in other States.

There can be no doubt that the source whence Imperial Service troops can be drawn with most advantage, or indeed with any real advantage, is from those manly races of northern India whose traditions and religion make them soldiers, and whose swords have already been drawn in our cause.

The total strength of the Imperial Service troops, of which some details have been given above, amounts to rather over 19,000 men. This represents the contributions of twenty-three diferent States, Kashmir supplying 4350, the rest of the Punjab 4950, Rajputana 4000, other States of Central or Western India 4500, southern India 1400.

It will thus be seen at a glance that a very large majority of these troops do belong to the best races of India; and not only do

such races supply the best soldiers, but their rulers are men of undoubted loyalty: they are the sons and the grandsons of those men who supported the British cause when its peril was most deadly, and when the danger which threatened us came from a quarter with which they might have been expected to feel some sympathy. Much more may we count on the loyal support of these princes against any external foe. How far the troops which they might then bring to our aid will be of value in the field depends on the manner in which they may be trained and instructed in peace. If they continue as they have begun, they will in many cases be fit to be placed alongside the best of our own native soldiers; nor is there any reason why their present efficiency should not be maintained and increased, provided that they are treated judiciously. Any danger which may exist of their deteriorating is likely to come from excess of zeal, rather than from carelessness or want of ardour. We have already alluded to the fear that the enthusiasm of some of the chiefs might be but evanescent; there is also a fear lest the British officers who are appointed to inspect these troops may exceed the limits set to what is required of them. A considerable increase of efficiency has been obtained of late years in our native army by a corresponding increase of hard work. This has been particularly the case in the native cavalry, which, from being a very irregular force, has been "dragooned" to a pitch of smartness often equalling that of any British cavalry corps. However much this system may be advantageous in our own regiments (and proofs are not wanting that it may be carried too far), it can

occasion nothing but harm if it be applied to the troops of native States, which after all belong to their own rulers and not to us. It may be safely predicted that the Imperial Service troops will maintain their efficiency so long as the interest of the rulers in them is maintained; and that that interest will not disappear (unless in exceptional circumstances) provided that the princes continue to feel that the troops are their own to do with as they like. Meanwhile it is well known that almost all the States which maintain these troops are eager for their employment on service. Several of them were bitterly disappointed at not being employed in the Chitral expedition, and even if Great Britain were engaged in a war outside the limits of India there is little doubt but that many loyal offers of assistance would be made from this source. Many difficult questions are connected with the possible employment of Imperial Service troops in conjunction with a British force in the field questions connected with their discipline, with the duties which might be assigned to them, and above all, with the proportion of British officers which should be attached to them. These matters will no doubt be duly dealt with by the Government of India when the necessity arises: for the present it is inadvisable to discuss them here.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

scope for its use: much less then can these Imperial Service squadrons look to be employed, as they desire to be, in our frontier expeditions. To those who wish for active service an easy answer would be that they should reduce their cavalry and form transport corps; there would then be no difficulty about finding employment for them. But this solution is not feasible: the men who will serve in a cavalry regiment will not drive transport carts; more than that, they will not even become infantry soldiers. Nothing would induce a Rhator Rajput to serve on foot, and even in the Sikh corps of the Punjab it is difficult to get gentlemen of position to officer the infantry regiments. The dislike of the native of India for any work or exercise necessitating humdrum drudgery is well known, and a coincident prejudice is that which regards foot - soldiering as fit only for servants.

It is evident, therefore, that the large proportion of cavalry can only be lessened by reduction; and this step does not seem advisable, at any rate at present. It might, however, be insisted that the maintenance of a corps of cavalry should be accompanied with rather more than the ordinary regimental transport, and should invariably be followed by a reduction of cavalry from the old standing army, coinciding not in numbers but in expense with the new corps.

The maintenance of these new regiments, equipped with serviceable transport and mobilisation stores, is a far more expensive business than the upkeep of the disorganised, ill paid, and illequipped forces which preceded them; and the reduction of the latter should be consequently large.

This reduction of the useless

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »