The Cashmere Bastion, Delhi. September 15, 1857 by John Henry Foley (1818-74), R. A. Source: 1865 Art Journal. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

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Commentary by Art Journal

Over the pages that record the dark history of the Indian mutiny, there shines a glory which throws lustre on the narrative itself, while intensifying the depths of its shadows. In the roll of noble soldiers conspicuous for their achievements during this crisis stands the name of Brigadier-General Nicholson, who fell, mortally wounded, in the streets of Delhi, after the storming and capture of the Cashmere bastion. He was an Irishman by birth, and at the period of his death had only reached the age of thirty-five years, after having, by his great ability and gallantry, risen rapidly to the rank he then held. On the 8th of June, 1857, Sir Henry Barnard arrived before the city, and besieged it with a comparatively small British force; on the 5th of July following he died, and was succeeded in the command by Sir Archdale Wilson. On the 8th of August Nicholson joined the besiegers with a reinforcement, consisting of the advanced guard of a brigade, organised under his command in the Funjaub, and which had rendered important services in that region. After intercepting, on the 25th of the month, and completely defeating, ten miles from Delhi, a large force of rebels, Nicholson was placed at the head of the first assaulting column on the memorable 14th of September; the orders given to him were " to assault the main breach and scale the face of the Cashmere bastion." Having accomplished this, Nicholson led his men along a narrow lane against the Lahore gate, which had defied all the efforts of the besiegers; the lane was swept by the grape and musketry of the enemy, and the brave young officer fell desperately wounded. "The grief and rage of his soldiers," says an historian of the war, "were unbounded." He died soon after.

Such is a brief outline of the history connected with the engraving from Foley's masterly bas-reliof, which forms part of the monument erected in Lisburn Cathedral, county of Antrim, in memory of the dead warrior. In compliance with the expressed wish of some of Nicholson's relatives, the sculptor has excluded from his design all representation of the general's appearance on the scene. The spectator must imagine him behind the parapet, leading tho troops under his command. Of the three foremost men in the composition, two belong to the Fusilier Guards, and the other to tho 75th Regiment, of which Nicholson was colonel. The group of slain is composed of a Brahmin, a Hindoo, a Mussulman, and a British officer. To the extreme left is a private of the 75th, who has struck down a Sepoy, but being himself wounded and unable to join his comrades in the attack, is cheering them on to victory, already signalised by the British flag planted on tho wall. On tho scaling ladder below that by which Nicholson entered the breach, is one of the men belonging to tho reinforcements. The church in the background is the English church of St. Paul. Tho mass of smoke on the left is supposed to arise from guns fired behind the fortifications.

A sculptured work so necessarily naturalistic as this, offers many great difficulties to the artist; but Foley here shows himself able to treat it as successfully as he has treated those ideal and portrait statues which have placed him among the first sculptors of the age.

Bibliography

“The Cashmere Bastion, Delhi. September 15, 1857 .” Art Journal (1865): 124-25. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. August 15, 2013.


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Last modified 15 August 2013