I apologise for the delay in my letter writing, our wallahs have been celebrating some holy day, something to do with elephants, and our couriers have been slow to get through. I am happy to report, at long last, a victory!
The 69th attacked in force the low lying ridge surrounding the fortress town of Noghul. Noghul, you may recall, is where that rascal Harshit has holed up after retreating with the majority of his men after our last meeting. My orders were simple, take the ridge on the left flank and disable the guns. I was given command of a company of line infantry and a half company of Grenadiers to get the job done. This time I spread the men out, allowing my subordinates a free reign. A not all successful stratagem, as I discovered later, but not a total disaster. Lieutenant Uppem and Sergeant McDoodle took charge of the Grenadiers and Lieutenant Sutton and Sergeant Nobbs took charge of the line infantry.
With my orders clear and under the cover of the pre dawn, we started to make our way up to the ridge. The Grenadiers were very keen from the offing to come to grips with the enemy and on the left flank were making good time, however on my right flank where Nobbs and his men were, the men were less eager and hung back. Meanwhile in the middle Lieutenant Sutton slowly crept forward. I moved to the right to try and get the men moving and in all fairness the ground they had to cover was terrible. Rocks and boulders covered the slope going up to the wall. It was at this point I was struck by a cunning idea. I offered the men an extra grog ration to any unit that breached the ridge and took the Indostanis in the rear. Nobbs was off in a cloud of dust as was his men and I had a hard time trying to keep up.
The Grenadiers, were meanwhile, running into their own troubles. The advance had slowed in the middle, while the left flank charged on, only to be halted by the appearance of a tiger! The brute leapt out of the bushes causing my men to recoil and move away at great haste. “The wee beastie put the fear of god in me men and I canna get them to move forward” Sergeant McDoodle reported later. The great cat growled a few times and then slunk back into the bushes; however the damage had been done. Alerted the Indostanis started raining my Grenadiers with a withering fire of volley after volley. Safe behind their wall, my men were impotent and retaliatory fire pointless. With great courage they held before the defences, ignoring the shot, but unable to advance.
It was at this time that Sergeant Nobbs on the right flank did the unthinkable. He had wound his men through the rocks and boulders and breached a small undefended gap on the ridge. Waving his musket over his head, he yelled down, “WHERES MY GROG CAPTAIN CHASE!?” Thankfully he had the wit to organise his men and start firing onto the side and rear of the enemy. Meanwhile I was scrambling through the boulders behind trying to keep pace with the second platoon of line infantry. They too were having an easy time, however I was not. First I lost footing on some ground and skidded to my knees and then I lost my hat, shot off when I stuck my head over the top of a boulder. Ordering my men on and upwards to Sergeant Nobbs I scrambled back down to reclaim my hat. An officer going into battle without his hat? Outrageous! One must look his best when fighting the enemy.
I was not the only one to have his hat knocked off. Lieutenant Sutton, whom I have been informed, is being called “Chinstrap” in the officer’s mess, once again lost his hat. Poor chap had just received a replacement for his last hat, which was trampled flat by
the 69th in our last engagement, is now out of pocket once again. Advancing in the middle with two units of line infantry was making steady time when a gust of wind ripped his hat off his head and landed in front of his men, just as they were advancing. I have it on good authority that his order to advance was quickly followed by screams of “Halt!! STOP!! NO NOT THE HAT!! NO!!....oh no... Not again....”
He has since had chinstraps attached to all his hats. If this proves to be successful or not, waits to be seen.
Lieutenant Uppem on the other hand had a very fortuitous battle. His grenadiers were slowly moving up on the left trying to rejoin with McDoodle and his men, who were still under fire in front of the ridge, when his Grenadiers also ran into a tiger. If it was the same one or not we cannot tell, this country is full of the damn beasts. He took one look at it as it growled, spat at his men, then calm as a cucumber he gave the order to fire. A volley of ten shots hit the beast and it fell down dead. Uppem now has a tiger skin adorning the floor of his tent. Good old "Willy", always erect and firm under pressure.
Finally I reached the wall and there before me was Harshit! “Come down and fight me you blaggard!” I roared out. However when the horse and rider jumped over the wall charging down on me I realised two things. One, it wasn’t Harshit and two, more importantly; he wasn’t going to get off his horse to fight me!! Taken aback at this sign of cowardice, I however stood my ground, drew my sword and stuck out my chin. It was a short duel and in fairness the wallah chap gave as good as he got, even if he was on a damn horse, but in the end I fought him off and as my troops nearby gave up a cheer, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
All along the ridge the Indostanis begun to turn and run for the inner fortress and my men cheered and fired as they ran. We quickly took up positions along the wall and prepared for a counter attack however it seemed the Indostanis had had enough for the day. It was then at the edge of the village, Harshit appeared. All he could do however was sit on his horse and watch as his men ran around him in fear and panic.
The 69th now have dug in and reinforced the ridge and have brought up our own guns. We have set siege to Noghul and are itching to finish the business, without possibly the aid of Nobbs and his men, who are happily enjoying their extra grog ration.
One day Harshit and I will meet and what a meeting it will be! I have a large elephant picked aside just for the occasion....and I will make sure the elephant has eaten well and has not been allowed to exercise!