Due to information received, I have had to act quickly and could wait for further orders no longer.
After the battle fought against the Indostani brigands we set camp to await further orders, tend to our wounded and bury the dead. Early the following morning I was awoken by Lieutenant Smallgoods who informed me the pickets had found two British officers, one of which was none other than the missing Lieutenant Sutton, who was in a very bad way. Dressing, I quickly made my way to the surgeon’s tent where I found Lieutenant Sutton being tended to, and another officer who introduced himself as Lieutenant Fiddlesworth. He had been visiting the gentlefolk at a farm and having just sat down to dinner, came under attack and had been taken prisoner. With the help of Sutton, Fiddlesworth had formulated an escape and both slipped out during the night.
As Fiddlesworth is of portly proportions and complains constantly of the quality and sparseness of proper dining facilities, I am wondering if the Indostanis in fact just let him go. Between the pair of them I learned that the Indostanis had holed up in a small village not far away. Sutton, being in no condition to fight, was dispatched with the other wounded to the blockhouse, where he can receive better care. Fiddleswoth also volunteered to return to the rear, however as I was short an officer, ordered him to remain with us. The good sergeant Snodgrass was also hoisted onto a wagon and sent back, while Chosen Man Rank, was hastily promoted to sergeant, to try and fill his boots. A skinny fellow, Rank is cursed with a terrible skin complaint and odors seem to follow the man around, however, I had little choice but to appoint a field promotion.
We struck camp at dawn and headed deeper into enemy territory, relying heavily on my guide, Runoff, and the directions that Fiddlesworth could provide. We still had a goodly compliment of men, forty four men of the 69th line infantry and twenty one of the Grenadiers. Enough I thought to press the Indostanis. We soon came to a road which we proceeded down. After marching along it for an hour, Runoff came hurrying back to the column with news, which through my translator, Imshae, I managed to deduce (after much head wobbling and nodding) that the brigands were up ahead in the small village of Shii'ole.
I ordered the men of the 69th into line and the Grenadiers to remain in column and head down the road. No sooner had I dispatched my orders when a group under a flag of truce headed out of the village towards us. Again, what followed was a lot more head wobbling, heathen jabber and much pointing. Imshae translated that they would hand over the captives and retreat peacefully, for they had many wounded and had no stomach to fight the "Devils in Red" this day. Agreeing, I told them they had till midday , or they would not only suffer from the red coated devils but also from the pointy hats. Hesitantly they agreed and gave the Grenadiers many worrying glances.
My men rested and cleaned their weapons as we awaited the hottest hour. Midday came and went and no sign of the hostages or in fact of the Indostanis, for the village looked deserted. I finally had had enough and ordered the men into line and to advance, the infantry through the fields and the Grenadiers to the village on the road. Quickly we crossed the open space when musket fire erupted from a small fence connecting two outlaying buildings. The Indostanis had holed up inside both houses and secured the fence. I brought the line up to the edge of a freshly ploughed (and later discovered , well manured) field which offered us a little protection. The men performed brilliantly! Volley after crashing volley were fired into the huts. Poor construction quickly reduced the walls to Swiss cheese and the Indostanis behind the fence were decimated by our three rounds a minute. At one point an Indostani chief stuck his head up to gauge our position and was quickly brought low, his helmet flying off his head as the ball struck his forehead. The Indos in the bigger of the two huts were faring better and slowed our advance, however we kept up the fire and they began to waver. I did suffer a wound from the sporadic Indostani fire. A stray musket ball grazed my left cheek, not a serious wound, but one that will leave a mark for the rest of my days, or so the surgeon says. Personally I think it makes me look more distinguished.
It was at this point two of my men decided to charge the enemy on their own, They ran off to the hut still occupied by the Indostanis yelling “GE’ DA LOOT!!” Which Sergeant Nobbs reliably informs me is a Scottish war cry. Odd I didn’t think Nobbs was Scottish. The Indostanis seeing this bravery quickly retreated from both huts. And they told me our troopers were scum of the earth, petty criminals and thieves; don’t believe a word of it! Such brave lads! Both men, I am happy to say survived and seem to have more stuff in their haversacks then I seem to recall. Sergeant Nobbs tells me he will personally insure the men are rewarded for their heroism.
Meanwhile the Grenadiers had also encountered an Indostani force hiding behind a fence on the other side of the road. Captain Smallgoods dispatched Sergeant Braune Steynes with eleven grenadiers to cover his flank as he moved up the road. The Indostanis seeing the feared “pointy hats” advance , literally soiled themselves. I saw two Indos bolt for some rocks where they seemed to be having a very painful and messy time of it. Sergeant Steynes doggedly moved his men up and I could clearly hear the EIN , ZWEI, EIN, ZWEI as the strapping Prussian urged his men on. They quickly moved up to the fence (bayoneting the two squatting Indos as they went) and entered the village . Smallgoods Moved up the road and was making good time when the bane of our existence came into view, cavalry! Two groups of riders, no less! The Indos had been playing for time so they could bring up their horsemen. Oh for a good unit of Dragoons! As you know we have little to no cavalry while these Indos seem to sleep with their horses.
It was at this time, Fiddlesworth and I disbanded the line and tried to navigate our way through the field, which proved bothersome to say the least. I don’t know what they use as fertiliser in these parts but the ground was boggy and rank! Sergeant Nobbs though managed to get through quickly with a small detachment and headed for the bigger of the two huts, muttering something about “Those two had better have left something for me”. Fiddlesworth very slowly managed to get though the field. I fear he is more used to riding than walking, as he had to stop many times to wipe the sweat from his face and complained bitterly about the muck on his boots.
I quickly saw that the Grenadiers facing off with the horsemen would be in a lot of bother and steered my men towards a wall that ran along the road. Smallgoods and his men knowing they would be cut down whatever they did, decided to charge and try and take some of the buggers with them. A very gallant and brave act, but they could only bring down two riders before being forced to flee. Many brave Grenadiers fell and their bodies littered the road. Smallgoods, with the remaining Grenadiers, turned and took to their heels running back up the road. The Indostani riders seeing the much feared and hated "pointy hats" fleeing, took heart and fire glittered in their eyes for more blood. They charged after the Grenadiers, but either through bad horsemanship or the corpses littering the road they failed to close the distance. Smallgoods vaulted over the stonewall and joined us as we waited for the cavalry to get closer. Hopeing for an easy kill the Indostanis rode on, my men though had other ideas. Attacking over and leaping from the stone walls we took the riders in the flank and after a heated exchange of blows both infantry and riders both fell back. The Indostanis came off worse, leaving their chieftain dead at my feet, and were soon riding for their lives. Meanwhile, Steynes and the other Grenadiers, ignoring the small unit of Indos he had been pursuing (and who mysteriously hadn’t fired on him), opened fire on the second unit of horsemen, keeping them in check until we could reform.
It was at this point that Sergeant Nobbs and Lieutenant Fiddlesworth entered the village proper. The remaining Indos we’re holed up in a large, well fortified building and we had serious concerns attacking it, for the civilians were also being held there. Before Fiddlesworth and Nobbs could get the men into line , the Indos seemed to have had enough and started pouring from the building and “legging it” as Sergeant Nobbs would colourfully say. On all flanks the Indostanis turned and ran, leaving us the victors of the field and in possession of Shii'ole. The prisoners we’re quickly liberated and thankful to be amongst Englishmen again. The lady seemed relieved to be free, but oddly enough a little disappointed. What those savages must have done to her is beyond thinking. I’m sure she will put this distressing affair behind her once she is reunited with her husband, a man of the cloth supposedly.