The Battle of Lucknow and the end of the Mutiny

By January 1858 the region was clear of rebels. Sir Colin had wanted to return to Lucknow only when cooler weather had come, but political considerations required an earlier liberation of the town. So plans were made for another march from Cawnpore on 27 February.

On 2 March Coffey’s regiment marched in the 2nd Division under Sir Edward Lugard to occupy the Dilkusha (‘Heart’s Delight’), the royal hunting lodge three miles or so to the south-east of the city itself. The Dilkusha they found filled with the corpses of mutineers killed in a previous engagement, and its roof gave a view of the vast array of palaces, golden domes and fine buildings that the army would now take one by one in hand-to-hand fighting. The 2nd Division was engaged from 9 to 13 March, and Coffey’s Indian Mutiny Medal is fitted with the Lucknow clasp, indicating his participation in the last major battle of the conflict.

The army was now broken up to pacify the surrounding country. Coffey’s regiment was part of a force that dispersed some rebels at Sultanpur on 10 April and at Azimghur on 12 September, before settling at Fyzabad. On 1 November, it was announced that British authority in India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown. The Queen’s ‘Proclamation’ guaranteed religious freedom for all, and offered pardon to all mutineers, except those who had taken part in the murder of British subjects, harboured their murderers, or led or instigated the rebellion.

An amnesty then lasted until January 1859, after which remaining rebels were driven towards Nepal, where they died in the fever-infested forests if they were not captured by the Nepalese and handed over. On 14 February Coffey’s regiment was dispatched to help prevent the return of some of them out of Nepal. During this time, in deference to Nepalese custom, no animals were slaughtered and Coffey and his comrades fed on salt provisions. On 26 and 28 March the 34th was successful in driving back their enemy, capturing seven guns, six elephants, thirty camels and over 300 horses. Then they made their way back to Fyzabad.

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