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Battle Field at Cawnpore 08th December 1857

 

                                        Celtic Lodge Edinburgh and Leith No 291

A Diploma from the Celtic Lodge was found on the Battle Field of Cawnpore in 1857.  The Diploma was found by Captain Robert Thompson on the 6th December 1857 after the engagement with the 53rd Regiment the Gwalior Contingent.  The Celtic Lodge Masonic Diploma was issued to Brother William Hyde, Colour Sergeant 82nd Regiment. Brother William was Proposed by Bro Davies and seconded by Bro Thomas Maxwell William was Initiated Passed and Raised on the 26th December 1854.  On the morning of the 6th December 1857 the main attack and after the non-combatants were safely away from Cawnpore the Regiments as follows:- Feint from entrenchment and artillery fire in order to convince the rebels into believing that the main British attack would come from the north or the British Right, Brigadier Greathed to attack the rebel Centre based in General Ganj area. The main attack on the sepoy right by Brigadier Inglis’s and Brigadier Adrian Hope’s Brigades

Cavalry Brigade to threaten the rebel communication with Kalpi.

Order of Battle

Cavalry Brigade (600 Sabres) HM 9th Lancers

1st Punjab Cavalry (Parts) (Authors unit)

2nd   “           “              “

5th    “           “              “

Hodson’s Horse

Greathed’s Brigade-HM 8 Foot- HM 64 Foot -2nd Punjab Infantry

4th Infantry Brigade HM 42 Foot -HM 53 Foot -HM 93 Highlanders -4th Punjab Rifles 5th Infantry Brigade HM 23 Foot -HM 32 Foot -HM 82 Foot

6th Infantry Brigade Parts of Rifle Brigade

Detachment of HM 38 Foot

In all the British had about 5,000 infantry, six hundred cavalry and thirty five guns, The Enfield Rifles which automatically reduced the rebel potential to one fourth and multiplied the British hitting power by four times. It may be noted that the main British attack was going south of the built up area where the advantage of close quarter battle and thereby reduced engagement ranges which benefited the Sepoy was nullified. In addition the tremendous British artillery superiority must not be under estimated. The British victory was a foregone conclusion and Tantia’s defeat as inevitable as that of Russians in the Crimean War.

The British casualties were nominal, i.e. just 98 killed or wounded the Pursuit continued until 08 December 1857. Tantia escaped towards Kalpi while his centre and left escaped towards Bithur. From here some of them withdrew towards Farrukhabad whereas some crossed the Ganges and withdrew into Oudh. Brother William Hyde fell in this conflict his Masonic Diploma was found in the field by Colonel Robert Thompson of the 53rd Regiment and we thank Brother Thompson for his diligence under what would have been a very difficult and dangerous time. When Captain Thompson returned to Britain he sent Brother William’s Diploma to the Celtic Lodge 15th December 1866.We at the Celtic Lodge still have Brother William’s Diploma framed and although slightly faded by time its Masonic lustre shines bright in our hearts and we at the Celtic Lodge had many Brethren from other Regiments who fought in these campaigns now passed to that Mystic Battlefield above and if we were at harmony in our Lodge we would drink a bumper toast to absent Brethren. Some items above were taken from Chapter Twelve Battle of Cawnpore –December 1857.

If anyone would like to add or enlighten us with other information on any other Brother from this time or time in our history we at the Celtic Lodge would be very grateful.

Please contact us at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  Brother William JR Boland Lodge Historian for the Celtic Lodge E & L 291. 18th September 2010. WJRB.