| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
THE SIEGE OF BHURTPORE
 MEANWHILE the news of the losses and disasters in Burma
had been brought to India. Many of the Indian chiefs
and princes, who had not yet quite settled down under
the over-lordship of Britain, began to be restless. As
the war dragged on month after month they began to
believe, and to hope, that the Burmese would overthrow
the power of the British. They began to look forward
to the time when the Company should no longer be
over-lord in India, and when each prince should be free
to fill the land with lawlessness and bloodshed as
When things were at their worst in Burma the Raja of
Bhurtpore died. He was succeeded by his son, a child
of seven, with his uncle as regent. But a cousin, who
wished the throne for himself, murdered the uncle, and
put the little Raja in prison. Thus he defied the
British, who had accepted the little boy as Raja.
But Lord Amherst wanted no more fighting, so he made up
his mind not to interfere. When the usurper saw this
he became very bold and haughty. All the chieftains of
Central India openly cheered him on, and men of every
conquered tribe gathered to him, until he had an army
of twenty-five thousand men.
The fort of Bhurtpore was the strongest in India. The
Indians, indeed, believed that it could never be
 taken by mortal man. It was surrounded with five miles
of enormous sun-dried, mud walls sixty feet thick. It
had nine gates and thirty-five strong mud towers.
Outside the wall was a broad ditch fifty-five feet
deep, and one hundred and fifty feet wide. This ditch,
in time of war, was filled with water from a lake near
Lord Amherst soon saw that he had made a mistake. He
saw that if the usurper of Bhurtpore was not punished
there would be war all over Central India. So he sent
an army against the fort. Fortunately it arrived in
time to stop the bank of the lake being cut, and water
let into the moat, and it was still dry.
The siege began. For days the British battered the mud
walls with their heaviest guns. The roar and thud of
cannon, the shriek of shells, filled the air for weeks,
and still the brown walls stood solid and unbroken.
Then it was resolved to blow them up. Three mines were
dug, the biggest being filled with ten thousand pounds
of gunpowder. The train was lighted, and the army
waited ready to rush in the moment there was a breach.
In a few minutes the earth seemed to shake, a low
rumble as of distant thunder was heard, the great wall
trembled. Then huge masses of mud rose in the air
carrying with them the shattered bodies of many of the
defenders. The sky grew dark with smoke and dust, and
lurid with flames. The air was filled with shrieks of
pain, yells of triumph, the thud and crash of falling
masses, as the British rushed through the yawning
breach in the mighty wall.
Yet, before the fort was taken, there was terrible
slaughter, six thousand or more of the defenders
falling in the fight. But at last it was over, and the
British were masters of the place.
 Next day the little Raja was brought from prison, and
again set upon the throne, and the usurper, in his
turn, became a prisoner. The war was at an end and the
Rajas or princes, who had been ready to make war, but
who had been waiting to see what would happen, settled
down in peace again. The famous walls of Bhurtpore
were levelled to the ground, and with them the last
rampart against British rule in India seemed to vanish.
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