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Old-time Echoes

A FAMOUS IRISH REGIMENT. On the eve of the memorable battle of Meanee in 1843, the Commander, the late Sir Charles Napier, described the unequal numerical strength of his position thus ; “To-morrow I march towards Meanee, where reports say the Amir have 30,000 men, but have not the pluck to lead them in person. I march at midnight, and may begin with the battle sooner than the tribes, who have sworn on the Kuran to destroy us, expect. I can take .into action about 2,800 men and twelve guns. They have about the same number of guns, but their cavalry is called 20,000 —20,000, and on a smooth plain. Mine are about 800—■ long odds—but to-morrow or the day after we shall know each other's value. I have one British ?egiment, the 22nd—Magnificent Tipperary !” THE ADVANCE. Here it will be observed (writes T.P.’s Weekly) that even the most chivalrous of Irish commanders, and one who has proved himself a true friend of his country during the terrible famine of 1846-7, finds it necessary—perhaps unavoidable—to describe an exclusively Irish regiment as “British” soldiers. Pray, listen to what this famous Irish regiment achieved in 1843, the same year in which Thackery describing strong men lying'in bed with the hunger in Ireland, owing to shameful mismanagement and oppression. Giving the signal to advance, Napier rode forward with his staff under r rapid fire. The Baluchi right proved to be covered by the village of Kaltri, which was filled with fighting men, and virtually impregnable. But on the left his ( 'swift, keen glance detected a weakness, by which he immediately profited. The Shikargah on this side was enclosed by a wall, through which the Baluchis evidently intended to pour forth their thous-

iiiicis on the British flank mid rear. On examining this wall it appeared to he about nine or ten feet high, and to have no loopholes through which the enemy could fire. _ Napier therefore posted the Grenadier company of the 22nd in the gap, informing- their brave captain. Law, that he was to block it up ; to die there if need be, but neter to give way. [DIED IN THE GAP. Law was faithful to the charge committed to him, he died there ; the opening was heroically defended and thus the unassuming chivalry of eighty men paralysed the action of 6,000. Both sides were keeping up a heavy cannonade when the 22nd reached the Fullaili with a run, and, encouraged by their general, they clambered up the slope and stood upon its summit. They had brought to bear down all before them, but they hesitated for a moment before the forest of swords that waved in their front. Thick as standing corn >and gorgeous as a field of flowers, stood the Baluchis in their many coloured garments and turbans. They filled the broad deep bed of the Fullaili, they clustered on both banks and covered the plain beyond. Guarding their heads with their large, dark shields, they shook their sharp swords, beaming in the sun ; their shouts rolled like a peal of thunder, as with frantic gestures they rushed forward, and, full against the front of the 22nd, dashed with demoniac strength and ferocity. But with shouts as loud and shrieks as wild and fierce as theirs, and heart as big and arms as strong, the Irish soldiers met them with that queen of weapons, the muskets, and sent their foremost masses rolling back in blood. WATER ! WATER ! Afterwards Napier put to flight Shir Mohammed with his army _of 25,000 ; pursuing his forces behind their entrenchments in like manner. The vanquished are said to have lost in this battle 5000 men in killed alone. The victors’ loss amounted to 270 men and officers, of whom no less than 170 belonged to the gallant Irish regiment, alre'ady decimated in the fearful struggle at Meanee. Sir William Napier, in his “Conquest of Scinde” gives a finishing touch to the story .of those antique heroes as , follows : •‘On one. of those long marches, which were almost continual '(in pursuit of Shir Mohammed), the 25th Sepoys, being nearly maddened by thirst and heat, saw one of their water-carriers approaching with full skins of water. They rushed towards him in crowds, tearing, away the skins and struggling together, with loud cries of ‘Water ! Water !’ At that moment some half-dozen struggling soldiers came up, apparently exhausted, and asked for some. At once the geueroias Indians withheld their hands from the skins, forgot their own sufferings, and gave the fainting Europeans to drink. Then they all moved on, the Sepoys carrying the 22nd men’s muskets for them, patting them on the shoulders and encouraging them to hold out. It was in vain ; they did so for a short time, but soon fell.. It was then discovered that these noble felllows were all wounded. But, thinking there was to be another fight, they had concealed their hurts, and forced nature to sustain the loss of blood, the pain of wounds, the burning sun, the long marches), and the sandy desert, that their last moments mig-ht be given to their country on another field of battle.’’

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Old-time Echoes, Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 21, 7 September 1907

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Old-time Echoes Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 21, 7 September 1907

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