THE END OF THE MUTINY
 ON the 27th December the column started from Lucknow to go to the relief of Cawnpore.
Roberts had no light work before him in arranging the transport for such an unwieldy army as the force had now
become. The column, with all its train, extended from ten to twelve miles in length, and frequently its head
had reached the end of the day's journey before its tail was ready to start. The next day heavy firing was
heard in the direction of Cawnpore, and a native met the force with a note, written in Greek characters,
addressed to Sir Colin, "or any officer commanding troops on the Lucknow road." This letter told of the sore
straits the troops at Cawnpore were in, and urgently begged that help might be sent as soon as possible.
 The news acted like magic on the tired, straggling troops. To use the words of an eye-witness, who published
the account shortly afterwards, "the impatience and anxiety of all became extreme. Louder and louder grew the
roar; faster and faster became the march; long and weary was the way; tired and footsore grew the infantry;
death fell on the exhausted wounded with terrible rapidity; the travel-worn bearers could hardly stagger along
under their loads; the sick men groaned and died—but still on, on, on was the cry." Sir Colin was in a
fever of impatience, and anxious lest the bridge of boats which led to the city had been destroyed. Roberts
was sent on ahead to find whether this was the case or not, and great was the rejoicing when he returned,
bearing the news that the bridge was still undestroyed. The passage over the boats was, however, a long and
tedious job, and it took from 3 p.m. on the 29th till about 9 p.m. the next day before the last of the troops
had safely crossed.
The time had now come to read the mutineers in Cawnpore a lesson.
Lord Roberts writes: "Sunday, the 6th
 December, was one of those glorious days in which the European in Northern India revels for a great part of
the winter—clear and cool, with a cloudless sky. I awoke refreshed, after a good night's rest, and in
high spirits at the prospect before us of a satisfactory day's work; for we hoped to drive the enemy from
Cawnpore, and to convince those who had witnessed—if not taken part in—the horrible brutalities
there, that England's hour had come at last."
Sir Colin, whose little army had been lately reinforced by the arrival of the 42nd, the famous Black Watch,
had now a force of about 5000 infantry, 600 cavalry, and 35 guns.
The rebel army consisted of 25,000 men, with 40 guns, so the odds against the British were very great. But a
desperate courage ran through the whole of Sir Colin's force, and weight of numbers mattered little to the
spirit of daring, and the just desire for vengeance, which possessed our men.
Roberts describes the advance as a "sight to be remembered." Across a grassy plain the British moved steadily
onwards, marching as though on parade, despite the storm
 of shot which plunged through them, or ricocheted over their heads.
The loyal 4th Punjabis, supported by the 53rd Foot, were the first to charge the rebels. Native soldier and
British fought side by side with fierce valour, and soon the Sepoys broke, and fled across the canal.
Soon after the attack, Sir Colin Campbell and Sir Hope Grant (Roberts, of course, accompanying them), with
their respective staffs, hurried up and joined in the fight. The rebel camp was soon broken up, and orders
were given for a pursuit. By some accident the mounted troops were not yet up. The rebels must not be allowed
to escape without further punishment. Sir Colin was not long in doubt. Supported by Bourchier's battery, he
determined to follow them up himself, with only his escort.
"What a chase we had!" says Roberts. "We went at a gallop, only pulling up occasionally for the battery to
come into action, to clear our front and flanks."
For two miles did the chase continue without a check, when a halt was called. While the horses were having a
breather, the cavalry came up, and off they all started again,
 Sir Colin taking the lead, the mutineers bolting in all directions.
"The pursuit is continued to the fourteenth milestone, assuming all the character of a fox-hunt. Strange to
say, not many miles beyond the enemy's camp, a fox broke right in front of the enemy, and a view-halloa told
Reynard that the heavy crops would be his safest refuge. At the fourteenth mile-stone, on the banks of the
Pandoo river, the pursuit ceased, not a trace either of an enemy or a cart of any kind being in sight."
The defeat of the enemy was complete, and when Roberts rode his weary steed back, in order to select a
camping-ground in front of Cawnpore, the rebel army had ceased to exist. Such as had not been cut down in the
chase had thrown away their arms, and were for the future as harmless as the innocent peasants they pretended
Part of the Cawnpore force, indeed—those who had been within the city—had escaped, and to Roberts
the duty fell of finding out where they had gone. This, with the help of a trusty native guide, he was soon
able to do, and the rebels were overtaken and
 speedily routed, with the loss of all their guns.
Two days before Christmas, the British again moved forward, in order to restore order, and open up the roads
between Bengal and the Punjab. On New Year's Day (1858) the troops were halted near Futtehghur, as the enemy
had turned, and seemed determined to make a stand. Their courage was, however, gone. Our men, flushed with
victory, charged the Sepoys with a will. "Then despair seized upon the rebel mass; breaking their ranks,
throwing aside their arms, they fled in wild confusion; but the horsemen were upon them and amongst them. The
slaughter was terrible; for several miles they rode along, spearing and cutting down at every step."
The chase continued till daylight began to fall: the fugitives seemed all to have been dispersed, and our men
were ordered to form up in the road. To describe the ensuing incident we shall use Roberts' own words:—
"Before, however, this movement could be carried out, we overtook a batch of mutineers, who faced about and
fired into the squadron at close quarters. I saw Younghusband fall, but I could not go to his assistance, as
 moment one of his 'sowers' was in dire peril from a Sepoy who was attacking him with his fixed
bayonet, and had I not helped the man and disposed of his opponent, he must have been killed. The next moment
I descried in the distance two Sepoys making off with a standard, which I determined must be captured, so I
rode after the rebels and overtook them, and, while wrenching the staff out of the hands of one of them, whom
I cut down, the other put his musket close to my body and fired; fortunately for me it missed fire, and I
carried off the standard."
In such simple language does our great soldier tell the story of a deed of bravery and courage which bore with
it its reward—a reward more valued than any other our soldiers can attain.
"For these two acts I was awarded the Victoria Cross," is how Lord Roberts modestly puts it in a
footnote to his book, "Forty-one Years in India."
ROBERTS WINNING THE VICTORIA CROSS.
Nearly a month was spent at Futtehghur, after which the force was kept busy clearing the country and keeping
the roads open. While engaged in this duty, Roberts was one day out for a ride with a brother officer. He was
 followed by a greyhound, which always accompanied its master. Suddenly a "nilghai," or antelope, got up in
front of them, so close that Roberts' brother officer aimed a blow at it with his sword and gashed its
quarter. Off started the greyhound after the quarry, and the two eager riders were soon galloping in the chase
as hard as their horses could go.
Suddenly they saw moving towards them a large body of the enemy's cavalry. Their horses were blown after their
long gallop, and escape seemed impossible. Thinking their last hour had come, the two young Englishmen shook
hands and said "good-bye," determined at the worst to sell their lives dearly. "When lo! as suddenly as they
appeared, the horsemen vanished, as though the ground had opened and swallowed them; there was nothing to be
seen but the open plain, where a second before there had been a crowd of mounted men." The whole thing was in
reality an illusion, or mirage, so well known to travellers in the desert.
There now remained the last act in the Mutiny. This was the siege and final capture of Lucknow, and here, from
the 2nd to the 21st of March, when the city fell, Roberts was
 actively engaged. The rebels fought with the courage of despair, and offered a splendid resistance, in which
numbers of the Highlanders and Punjabis fell. Hodson, of Hodson's Horse, was killed, to the sorrow of the
whole British force. He had shot with his own hand the rebel sons of the King of Delhi, for which act he has
been blamed. But his unflinching courage and personal bravery won him the respect and admiration of all
soldiers; and loyal natives and British alike mourned the early death of their daring leader.
The hard work and all he had gone through had told on Roberts, but, with the fall of Lucknow, the fighting was
On the 1st of April 1858, six years after his arrival in India, he handed over the office of
Deputy-Assistant-Quarter-Master-General to another soldier, who has become likewise famous as Viscount
Wolseley, and towards the middle of the month he left Lucknow.
Before leaving, Sir Colin Campbell thanked him for his services, and promised at the earliest opportunity to
give him the rank of brevet-major.
Thus, having won golden opinions from his superior officers, and "having during his first
 half-dozen years in India seen more of fighting than many soldiers see in lifetime," Lieutenant Roberts, on
May 4th, embarked on the Nubia on his way to England and home.