Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 40.djvu/54

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time of considerable disaffection, and the crisis passed.

In April 1841 he accepted an Indian command offered to him by Lord Hill, and in October left for India. He assumed command at Poona at the end of December. On the arrival in India of Lord Ellenborough as governor-general in 1842, he applied to Napier for a statement of his view on the military situation. Napier sent him a memorandum on 4 March, recommending as the first step the prompt relief of Sale, who was holding Jalalabad, and the formation of two strong columns to move on Kabul—one from Peshawar, the other from Kandahar by Ghazni.

In August he was ordered to take command in Upper and Lower Sind. He sailed from Bombay on 3 Sept. Cholera broke out on the voyage, and fifty-four lives were lost before Karachi was reached. A few days after landing, at a review of the troops, he was severely injured in the leg by the bursting of a rocket. On his recovery he sailed up the Indus to Haidarabad and Sakhar. Here he found himself chief agent in Sind of the governor-general, as well as general officer commanding the troops. Sind was divided under three distinct sets of rulers—the amirs of Khairpur or Upper Sind, the amirs of Haidarabad or Lower Sind, and the amir of Mirpur. The British occupied Shikarpur, Bakhar, and Karachi by treaty. The amirs were in a state of excitement, due to the recent British reverses in Afghanistan, while the return to India of General England's force through the Bolan pass, when both advanced on Kandahar, was interpreted as a retreat. The situation was critical. The governor-general had instructed Captain (afterwards General Sir) James Outram [q. v.], who was chief political officer before the arrival of Napier, in case any of the amirs proved faithless, to confiscate their dominions; and Napier, after reading Lord Ellenborough's instructions, and receiving reports from Outram and others of the disaffection of the amirs, made up his mind that the practical annexation of Sind was inevitable, and could not be long delayed. The chief complaint against the amirs was the continued levying of tolls in violation of the treaty, notwithstanding frequent protests. Then came the discovery that negotiations were going on with neighbouring tribes for an offensive alliance against the British. Napier was impressed with the natural wealth of the country, and the oppression of the Pindis and Hindus by the governing class. ‘They’ (the poor people), he says, ‘live in a larder and yet starve … The ameers rob by taxes, the hill-tribes by matchlocks.’

Napier moved at the end of November to Shikarpur. A fresh treaty, based on Napier's reports, was ordered by the governor-general to be offered as an ultimatum. The proposal produced strong remonstrances from both Khairpur and Haidarabad. On 15 Dec. the British troops commenced the passage of the Indus, in order to occupy the territories mentioned in the treaty. Napier fixed his headquarters at Rohri, where, with his right resting on the river and his left on the desert, he barred the amirs from Sūbzalkot and Bhang-Bara, which were taken possession of by Bengal troops. On 31 Dec. 1842 Napier determined to seize the fortress of Imamghar, the impregnable refuge of the amirs, in the midst of the great desert in the east of Sind. He mounted 350 men of the Queen's 22nd regiment on camels, two soldiers on each, and, taking two 24-pound howitzers and two hundred Sind horse, started on 5 Jan. 1843. On arriving on 12 Jan. at Imamghar, it was found to have been evacuated only a few hours by a garrison of two thousand men. After three days' rest the fortress was blown up, and Napier made for the Indus at Pir Abu Bakar, where he halted on 21 Jan. for the main body of his troops, and whence he could fall, if necessary, either upon the amirs of Haidarabad or those of Khairpur. The masterly stroke by which Napier seized Imamghar before hostilities had actually commenced, and deprived the amirs of their last retreat in case of danger, elicited the warm praise of the Duke of Wellington.

Napier at this time had the governor-general's authority to compel the amirs to accept the new treaty. Outram thought that its acceptance could be obtained by negotiations, while Napier knew that every day's delay would bring him nearer to the hot weather, when operations in the field would be difficult. He nevertheless was so far influenced by Outram that he decided to try what peaceable measures would do, and sent Outram to Khairpur as his commissioner to issue a proclamation calling on the amirs of both provinces to appear on 20 Jan. to complete the treaty. The time was extended to 25 Jan. and then to 1 Feb., and again to 6 Feb. Meanwhile Napier sent Outram, at his own request, to Haidarabad, and himself moved with his army slowly southward. He reached Nowshera on 30 Jan. Outram was still sanguine of a peaceful issue, and, reporting that not a man in arms was at Haidarabad, suggested that the only thing wanting was that Napier should leave his army and go in person to Haidarabad. But Napier had intelligence that some twenty-five thousand