Unit History: 5th Regiment of Northumberland Fusiliers

5th Regiment of Northumberland Fusiliers
Merged wih other Fusilier Regiments in 1968 to form Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Have traced Great, Great Grandfather to Berwick on Tweed Barracks in 1881, aged 22

Battles / Campaigns

Relief of Lucknow (1857) Indian Mutiny 1857-1858

The defenders of Lucknow included men from the 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers), 32nd (Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry), 64th (North Staffordshire), 78th, 84th, and 90th infantry, plus the 1st Madras European Fusiliers. The 9th Lancers made quite a name for themselves, many members winning four clasps on their Mutiny medal.

Much of the British Army fought in the Mutiny, and all of the loyal Indian units. The Indian Mutiny Medal has a white ribbon with two red stripes; five clasps were issued: Delhi, Lucknow, Defence of Lucknow, Relief of Lucknow, and Central India (which actually covers much of the war).

Relief of Looknow (Indian Mutiny)
The Mutiny started in Meerut, with the news reaching the British at Simla on the 12th of May 1857, Troops were moved to re-take the city of Delhi which was in the hands of the Mutineers, After a three month siege the City was taken on the 14th of September 1857. Lucknow was more of a succession of operations starting the defence of the residency. The reinforcement of the garrison, withdrawal of women and children from the Garrison and finally the siege and capture of Lucknow (May 1857 to March 1858).

In the annals of war there are few achievements more heroic than the defence and relief of Lucknow. For nearly six months the garrison withstood repeated attacks of an overwhelming force and suffered hunger and sickness with a courage that won them an imperishable name. In the summer of 1857 the country between Delhi and Allahabad was in the hands of the rebels, and Lucknow and Cawnpore were besieged by men whom we had armed and trained for war. Betrayed by native gunners the defenders of Lucknow had to abandon the fort in the city and to seek the refuge of the Residency. Here they were invested from the 1st of July until the 23rd of September, when the guns of Havelock thundered at the gates of the city. Through the enemy's country he had marched with fourteen hundred men and a few Sikhs. Fierce heat and torrential rains barred his progress, while clouds of rebel horse and foot harassed him at every turn. But Havelock's was an avenging force and it swept through the land with a sword of flame until the massacre of Cawnpore was wiped out in blood. For a moment it appeared as though vengeance must halt at the hecatomb of Nana Sahib. Exhausted by long marches and continuous engagements the devoted little band was compelled to re-cross the Ganges, and to rest for one month at Cawnpore. Here cholera was added to the number of their enemies and the "prop and stay of British India in the hour of her severest trial" seemed ready to fall. Then came the final advance and Lucknow was reached. But the task had only begun. One third of the gallant infantry fell at the taking of the bridge, and even after that two miles of streets had to be traversed, and every street was entrenched and barricaded and every house was loop holed and defended by riflemen. Progress in that direction was impossible and a detour had to be made. The Highlanders formed the rear guard and suffered heavily. Led by Outram and Havelock they left the main body and pushed on with desperate gallantry through the houses, out of which poured a deadly stream of bullets. Covered with wounds and blood they reached the Residency. Step by step the wounded were brought in and the reinforced garrison prepared to continue their resistance, for the enemy were still too numerous to attempt a sortie, hampered with women and children and sick. Rations already scarce were still further reduced and for two months the struggle went on with unabated fury on the one side and with dauntless bravery on the other. Again and again the rebels sought to capture the fort by mining. Never were men pressed more desperately and never were endurance and courage more manifest. Sharpshooters crept within fifty yards of the defences and kept up a galling fire, while disease and death wrought havoc in the ranks. But their troubles were nearly over. Colin Campbell with three thousand five hundred men were on the march. When the news came of his approach the bugle sounded and the garrison dashed out upon the enemy scattering them like chaff and the siege ever memorable in our history was raised. Unfortunately the gallant and dauntless Havelock did not live to reap the reward of his daring march to Lucknow.
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