1849 - John Pearman, Sergeant
After the Battle
We had very good times at Gujrat. In the afternoon after the battle of February 21st, 1849, myself, Privates Makepiece, Ike Stagg, William Penfold and one or two others went into the town, where were many more soldiers of other regiments, to look at the place. We came across an old money changer, and made him tell us where he had put his money, but he would not say, until we showed him our pistols, when he gave us a bag of gold, about one quart, with silver. Stagg put it on his shoulder, and we were marching off with our loot, when we were met by one of the officers belonging to our prize agents. He said: “What have you got there, soldiers, in that bag?” So Stagg dropped it on the ground and said, “Look, sir.” The officer marked a broad arrow on it and said: “Bring it along,” but we walked off and left him to do what he liked with it. We heard no more about it. He could not tell to what regiment we belonged as we were in white shirts and draws and pugerrie cap.
We went down a street to the bazaar, where we saw a fine Arab horse tied down with head and heel ropes, with a pink mane and tail, and a white body: a beauty. Makepiece said, “You can't ride him, Sergeant.” I said I could. The black syce or groom said, “Nay, nay, sahib, nay puckerroe (steal),” but I got on his back for a ride, and the rascal ran away with me, but I managed to get him to our camp. Captains Draper and Ouvry of C and H Troops saw me ride him in, and said “Spearman, where did you get the Arab?” I told them: “We found it on the edge of the jungle.” Ouvry said, “What do you want for it?” I said, “Two flasks of grog and a hundred rupees (£10).” After some time he gave us one flask of grog and the one hundred rupees, and I am sorry to say we spent the money in more grog, which did us much harm.
On February 24th, my birthday, I had been out mounted to reconnoitre, which we did when on picquet, when we saw a man with a two-bullock hackery [cart], and two chests of rupees. Johnny Grady asked him where it came from. He said he was sent from the town, so we took it, and filled our holster pipes on the saddle, and collected some gunpowder that was laying about, left by the enemy in lumps when in retreat, and blew the rest up. The bullocks and the man went away.
We heard no more of him. This was the only way to get prize money, for the Company only gave us six months' batta [allowance]: £3 16s. 0d. in all. We made what we could and did very well, that is if we had not spent it in a very foolish way, I mean drink, which takes away the reason. After a few days the Prize Agents had got all that was worth having, but nevertheless the division of the army that came down from Multan Fort had plenty of money, round their body, and the waist of their trowsers lined with gold, and braces lined up and over the shoulders, and although the 10th Foot and 32nd and 60th Regiments had been searched many times by the Prize Agents and their officers, still they had plenty of money. The men robbed one another when drunk very much, which continued some weeks even after the army had been removed to Meen Mear, the great parade ground and barracks at Lahore belonging to Ranjit Singh and about two miles from the city.
The 3rd Company of the 4th Battalion of Foot Artillery, Bengal Troop, had to bring down the treasure, and they buried a quantity of it near unto Lahore, and began to sell some. When it came to the General's ears and a search was made, a woman of the 14th Light Dragoons split counsel, and the 3rd Company of Artillery were all placed under arrest, officers and all, as all had a finger in the pie. The 14th Dragoons and some sepoys had to do duty over them for some time; but they never found the treasure, and I have no doubt it is there to this day, as we were taken away from Lahore and no one was left, and the men of the 3rd Company never split.
The 10th Regiment of Foot had the most money. Armourer Sergeant Williams of the 10th was supposed to have got the gold-hilted sword belonging to the Maharajah of Multan, set with diamonds. They searched for it, but never found it. They tried him for plunder, reduced him to a private soldier, and they tried him again and sentenced him to 100 lashes which he, poor fellow, got every one of. The gold hilt and diamonds were thrown into a well at Lahore by a private. I knew the man well. He was afraid to keep it for fear of being flogged. So there they remain.
Sergeant Pearman’s Memoirs
Edited by the Marquess of Anglesey