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THE INDIAN IMPERIAL SERVICE TROOPS.
A YEAR ago all thoughts were the whole of these corps disapturned towards the gallant gar-peared after the great Mutiny, in rison beleaguered in Chitral fort, which most of them joined. The and the determined little force system on which they were formed which brought them relief over the was a mistaken one: instead of snows of the Shandur pass. A being used to foster such military very large share of both the hard spirit as might exist in the States fighting and the arduous work, to which they severally belonged, which rendered those events con- they were composed almost enspicuous, was borne by the Im- tirely of mercenaries, drawn from perial Service regiments of his the recruiting grounds of British Highness the Maharajah of Kash- India, which already supplied the mir, and thus for the first time fighting material for the native the attention of the general public army of the Company. They were in England was drawn to a new thus no more intimately attached element in our Indian armies, the to their States than were the rise and development of which trained brigades of De Boigne and have been the object of much in- Perron devoted to the cause of terest and discussion in military Scindia or Holkar in the Mahcircles in India during the last ratta wars of fifty years earlier. eight years.
The Hyderabad contingent alone It has always been recognised was, by reason of its long standing as desirable that the great feuda- and material, more particularly tory States of India should bear identified with the Government by some part in the defence of the which it was paid ; and it alone, as empire, in return for the advan- has been said, continued to exist tages of tranquillity and prosperity after the Indian Mutiny. The secured to them by the strength other great States, however, conof the British rule. To this end, tinued as heretofore to keep up in the first half of the present cen- standing armies of their own, in tury, several of the largest States, numbers proportionate to their notably Hyderabad, Oudh, and size and wealth.
In many cases Gwalior, were moved to raise con- the material composing these forces siderable bodies of men at their was excellent; but want of disciown expense, which were con- pline, instruction, and proper organsidered as forming integral parts isation reduced them for the most of the British forces, and which part to a mere disorderly rabble, were commanded by British offi- far more dangerous to the public
These contingents rapidly safety than ever they would be attained such efficiency as to be to a foreign foe.
. They were regarded as amongst the corps generally divided into regulars d'élite of India; service with them and irregulars, of whom the forwas eagerly sought after by officers, mer remained at or near the capand those who obtained such ap- ital and in attendance on the pointments were selected for their ruling prince, while the irregulars special military proficiency and were employed in the country smartness. But, with the excep- districts as police, collectors of tion of the Hyderabad contingent, revenue, &c. These native armies
reached, in 1887, to a total of and nationalities, and almost all some 80,000 regular and 100,000 more or less useless. Some years irregular troops, of which 18,000 ago a brigade of cavalry was orregulars and 7000 irregulars were ganised under a British commander, maintained by the Maharajah of and its regiments were termed "the Kashmir, 8000 regulars and 22,000 reformed troops," a name by which irregulars by the Nizam of Hyder- they are still known. They have, abad, 9500 regulars and the same however, ere this been left behind number of irregulars by the Ma- in the advance towards efficiency harajah of Gwalior, 4500 regulars by another force of cavalry formed and 4000 irregulars by the Gaik- more recently, and called the war of Baroda, and 3500 regulars "Golconda Brigade.” This force by the Maharajah of Mysore. is commanded by Major Afsur
In the leading States above Dowlah, a Hyderabad gentleman named efforts were made from of distinguished ability, and it has time to time to make the stand- been trained by him to a high ing armies really efficient, but standard of excellence. With the such attempts were generally at- exception of these two brigades, tended with but indifferent suc- the army of the Nizam is of no cess. The large regular force of practical value. The Hyderabad Kashmir was for the most part contingent need not be further composed of Dogras, Sikhs, and described here. Although the Gurkhas, the flower of the fighting cost of its up-keep is borne inraces of India; the Maharajah and directly by the Hyderabad State, his Government entertained a very yet it in no way forms part of the high opinion of its efficiency, and standing army of the Nizam. It is large sums were annually drawn in all respects under the orders of from an impoverished exchequer the Government of India; it is to pay for its maintenance. Its commanded by British officers, and discipline and organisation, how- there is no practical dissimilarity ever, left much to be desired; nor between its regiments and those was it in reality very superior to of the British Indian army. the ill-armed, undrilled rabbles In Southern India Mysore has which represented the military for some years been conspicuous force of other States of the Punjab. as possessing a force of moderate
In Central India the army of the dimensions, but of more value Maharajah Scindia of Gwalior was than the hordes existing elsewhere. trained and organised with care During the long minority of the which placed it in the front rank late Maharajah the army, in comof the native forces of India, and mon with all the affairs of the far above any of its immediate State, was under British control, neighbours; but notwithstanding and on his attaining his majority the fact that good fighting mate- the prince continued to administer rial exists within the confines of this, as well as other departments, the State, no effort was made to with the good sense and moderatake advantage of it, and the tion which have caused his early army was composed entirely of death to be universally deplored. mercenaries.
The infantry of the standing army In Hyderabad there was (and has never, however, been of much still exists), besides the contingent value as fighting material; but the already mentioned, a miscellaneous cavalry, which was for many years assortment of troops of all kinds commanded by the late Colonel Hay, was recruited from the hastened to follow the lead set classes which furnished the troops them by the Nizam, and offers of of Tippu Sultan in the last cen- contributions both of men and of tury, and was officered by mem- money poured in in rapid succession bers of some of the best families to the Governor-General. It was of the State, and it certainly evident that the time had arrived equalled any similar force in for carrying out those projects of India previous to 1887.
securing co-operation and aid from The whole of the forces described the princes of India which had so above, as well as the standing often been put forward, and the armies of other native States of Government of India forth with less importance, were entirely proceeded to consider how best the under the control of their respec- loyal offers of the native States tive Governments; they were might be accepted. officered entirely by native gentle- It was at once decided that conmen, nor had they any connection tributions of money should not be whatever with the army of British accepted, and that such assistance India. How to moderate the ex- as might be given by each State travagant expenditure by native must be very carefully proporStates on troops worse than useless, tioned to its resources, while at how to train this idle and undisci- the same time its offer must be plined material, so that in case of absolutely spontaneous. The esneed it might aid in the defence of sence of the scheme finally adopted the empire on which it is depen- was the employment of the actual dent, have been problems which resources of each State both in have more than once occupied the men and officers, and the formation serious attention of the Govern- therefrom of serviceable corps, ment of India. The strained re- which, while available for Imperial lations between Great Britain and defence in case of need, should be Russia in the spring of 1885, and otherwise as much identified with the consequent increased attention the State which raised them as to the internal as well as the were the old, disorderly, and usefrontier defences of India, were less standing armies. Such "Imthe causes of a renewed considera- perial Service" corps, as they were tion of the question of inviting the termed, were to be liable to inspecprincipal native rulers to bear a tions by selected British officers, share in those schemes of defence. but were otherwise to be in no No definite decision had, however, way connected with the British been arrived at when, in August army; they were not even to be 1887, the Nizam of Hyderabad under the orders of the Com- . intimated to the Viceroy that he mander-in-Chief, except in the wished to do honour to the year
of event of their mobilisation, but her Majesty's jubilee by contribu- were to be controlled by the ting a very large sum of money Foreign Department of the Govtowards the cost of the frontier ernment of India. Finally, it was defence works then in progress,
decided that the formation of a and by placing such a force as his corps for Imperial service by any State could afford at the disposal State should be accompanied by a of her Majesty in case of need. proportionate reduction of those This loyal offer met with a ready rabble forces the expense of which echo in other parts of India ; the had hitherto been so great as well native States both great and small as useless.
It was not until the latter part the main lines of our own native of 1888 that the scheme for the regiments, and though the advice formation of Imperial Service of an inspecting officer or the taste Corps was put into definite shape. for novelty of the native chief ocIt was then decided that the ex- casionally introduced innovations periment should first he tried with in colour, &c., yet all corps were some of the principal States of the equipped with an eye to utility Punjab, and with the Rajput State and to avoidance of wasteful exof Ulwar. A chief inspecting travagance. In this matter, howofficer (Colonel H. Melliss) was ever, the inspecting officers had appointed, with two inspecting sometimes a good deal of difficulty officers under him. These officers, to restrain the enthusiasm of the under the orders of the Foreign princes, eager to show their apDepartment, were in the first in- proval of the scheme by dressing stance to superintend the organisa- the rank and file of their new tion of the new corps, the selection regiments in broadcloth and gold, of recruits, the supply of their or by housing their cavalry horses equipment; they were to advise in palatial stables. This very enthe States' Governments on all thusiasm it is which indicates one military matters, and when the of the greatest dangers to the corps were in working order they future of the Imperial Service were to inspect them constantly Corps. The ardour of an oriental and report on their progress and ruler for any novelty is apt to efficiency.
resemble the delight of a child The corps were raised entirely with a new toy, or the unthinking from amongst the subjects of the excitement of the London public States, and were in like manner over a new lion, quite irrespective officered for the most part by of the real value of its object. gentlemen of position in the State, But in native States much depends often by relations and connections on the sunshine of royal favour, of the ruling chief.
and should the enthusiasm of the The work of organisation was ruler abate, or should he be sucassisted by the services of non- ceeded by one of a different way commissioned officers from native of thinking, the former object of regiments of the British service, so much solicitude and attention who were attached as instructors would soon feel the result of the to the various corps ; while their change. labours were further supplemented Meanwhile, however, the Imby the deputation of classes from perial Service Corps have been Imperial Service regiments to un- firmly established, and are daily dergo courses of instruction with securing a more certain footing. some of the best native regiments. But a very few months sufficed to
Both these methods of obtaining show that the scheme was in the efficient instructors proved emin- main a success. Fresh corps were ently satisfactory, the classes sent accordingly organised, those of the to our regiments showing especial Rajput States of Marwar, Bikanir, eagerness to learn their work, and and Jeypur, and the Central India rapidly acquiring great proficiency principality of Gwalior, being folin the duties of regimental instruc- lowed by Indore, Bhurtpore, Ramtors.
pur, and others, and in the south In equipment, as in drill, the by Mysore (where, as has been Imperial Service Corps followed mentioned, a cavalry force on the
lines of the present scheme already gras and Gurkhas, hardy mounexisted), and finally by Hyderabad. taineers, and accounted the best As the corps have gained increased infantry soldiers in India : they efficiency, many of them have been are commanded by officers of abilexercised at camps of instruction, ity, intelligence, and position ; ; where they have been brigaded their discipline and smartness with regiments of the British leave nothing to be desired; and forces. Some few have been em- their performances in the arduous ployed on active service, and have mountain warfare in which they amply proved their value. The have borne so prominent a part
a military authorities have come to are sufficient indication of their regard these regiments as some- value in the field. Nor is less to thing more than the creation of be said of the mountain batteries, faddists, or the outcome of a the first of which also shared in passing fancy amongst the princes the Chitral campaign, while the of India : they are acknowledged second is composed of equally good to be in many cases fit to take material, and may be trusted to their places in the front line of do equally good work when called defence against any foe, and to be All the above corps have had a really serviceable auxiliary to assigned to them a more active
a the forces of the Crown.
rôle than falls to the lot of other What the strength and effici- Imperial Service troops, or than ency of the Imperial Service was contemplated when the scheme troops are at this moment may best was first formulated. Events of be gathered from a few details the last five years on the northabout some of the more important ern and north-western confines of of them.
Kashmir, the establishment of the Foremost among these are the Gilgit Agency, and the assertion forces of Kashmir, which consist of a real control over the dependent of two ressalahs or squadrons of States of Hunza-Nagar, Chilas, and cavalry, each 300 strong, six regi- Chitral, have necessitated the emments of infantry of about 600 ployment of larger bodies of troops men each, and two batteries of on those frontiers than could be mountain artillery, each of 150 conveniently spared for a length men (the only artillery corps of time from India ; moreover, the which have been raised by a native work has been all to the advantage State). The greater part of this of Kashmir, whose territories have force of some 4500 men has already been secured from depredation and done good service in the field : in her frontiers respected. The troops the expedition against Hunza- of that State have therefore been Nagar in 1891-92 the 2d Regiment employed for the purpose, and the of Kashmir Rifles, then only lately Imperial Service regiments were raised, served with distinction; naturally pushed to the front as and the gallant conduct of the 4th being the best organised and Rifles throughout the defence of drilled. At the same time, it Chitral, as well as the share taken must be admitted that the cost by the 5th and 6th Regiments in of keeping a considerable body of Colonel Kelly's march to the relief men constantly employed in the of the fort, have been already al- inaccessible outposts of the Gilgit luded to, and are still fresh in all district is more than the State of men's minds. These regiments are Kashmir, which is by no means composed for the most part of Do- wealthy, can afford. Owing to