Chitral was now relieved ; communication with the British officers so long shut up in it was once more established, and letters were at last received giving an account of the desperate defence and of all that had occurred since the Chitralis had risen in revolt.

I take up the narrative from the point at which I left it at the close of the first chapter. The Chitralis had then suddenly given up their opposition to Umra Khan and, joining Sher Afzul, who had now allied himself with Umra Khan, advanced against the British officers established in Chitral fort.

On the 3rd of March, at about 4.30 p.m.,: news was received by the British officers in Chitral fort that Sher Afzul, with a large force, was approaching. Captain Colin Campbell, of the Central India Horse, and, for the time. Inspecting Officer of the Kashmir Imperial Service Troops, was in command of the troops now in Chitral ; and, late in the afternoon though it was, he thought it necessary to go out with a strong reconnoitring force to ascertain the Strength and intentions of the Chitrali force. Hostilities between the British and the Chitralis had not yet commenced, and with a large armed force advancing towards the fort it was necessary for the British garrison to take every precaution against being caught unawares by them. Two hundred Kashmir Infantry under Captains Campbell, Townshend, and Baird, and accompanied by the British Agent, Surgeon-Major Robertson, Lieutenant Gur- don, and Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch, therefore set out from the fort to reconnoitre the Chitrali dispositions. There is no regular town of Chitral, but round the fort, which is merely the residence of the M eh tars, there are scattered over the valley a num- ber of little hamlets and detached houses, dotted over the cultivated lands which stretch for a distance of about three miles down the valley. These cultivated lands are on some gently sloping ground, from a mile to a mile and a half in width, which runs down from the high, steep hill-sides on the right bank to the river.

Leaving fifty men in the serai a quarter of a mile from the fort, and detaching a section under Captain Baird, and which Lieutenant Gurdon accompanied, to ascend the hill-sides on the right. Captains Camp- bell and Townshend advanced for a mile and a half down the valley, towards a house in which it was stated that Sher Afzul had established himself. On arrival at the house it was found that Sher Afzul was not in it, and Captain Townshend then advanced still further down the valley, while Captain Baird’s flanking party was strengthened by an additional twenty-five men. Captain Townshend could see a number of men moving about among the trees and houses of a hamlet 500 yards beyond the house which it had been supposed Sher Afzul was occupying ; and on the hill-sides which Baird s party were ascending there were some hundreds of the Chitralis. On these hill slopes firing now commenced, and Captain Townshend concluding that the men he could see in the front moving about in the hamlet were the enemy, opened fire with a section volley. The fire was immediately returned by the enemy, who, being armed with Martini- Henry and Snider rifles made, says Captain Townshend, most excellent shooting. Among the enemy were several hundred of Umra Khan's men, drilled and trained by pensioners from our own Indian Army; and there were, indeed, many of these pensioners themselves in the force which was now advancing upon Chitral.

Captain Townshend kept his men under cover as much as possible, and, taking advantage for the purpose of the boulders and low walls which surround the fields, advanced to within 200 yards or so of the hamlet. There was now no more cover in his front, many of his men were hit, and he could see the hamlet towards which he was advancing now crowded with men who were keeping up a well- sustained fire from the walls and loopholes. To advance with the hundred men he had with him, and these not veteran troops of our own army, but untried Kashmir troops armed with worn-out Snider rifles, against superior numbers of a better armed and more experienced force posted behind walls was an impossibility, and Captain Townshend decided therefore to hold his ground until Captain Baird should move along the hill-slopes to the westward, and so turn the hamlet, and when Baird had done this Townshend would then advance to attack it in front.

But time went on, and Townshend could see no signs of Baird advancing on his flank. On the other hand small parties of the enemy began to overlap him on both flanks and to enfilade him with their fire. His position was now becoming untenable ; it was half-past six and would soon be dark, so decisive action of some sort — either an advance or a retirement — must be carried out at once. At this juncture Captain Campbell arrived, and directed that the hamlet should be stormed. The order to reinforce was given, but the support of men in rear did not come up, though the order was continually repeated. Captain Campbell then went back to himself bring up the support, while Captain Townshend fixed bayonets preparatory to a charge, and kept up a heavy independent fire. The support all this time was lying behind some low walls 1 50 yards to the rear. Captain Campbell succeeded in bringing on about a dozen men from among them, and then fell shot through the knee just as he was rejoining the advance party. Colonel Jagat Singh, of the Kashmir troops, then went back to try and get more men on, but he could only bring on one or two. So Captain Townshend, finding that to await for further support was useless, went round his men telling them they must rush straight in and take the houses, and he then sounded the charge.

The little party of a hundred men then scrambled over the bank behind which they had been lying and advanced to the attack of the strongly-held village to their front. It was a desperate venture, for the enemy were not only in superior numbers and better armed, but they were firing from behind cover, while the troops which the British had now to lead to the attack had to advance across 200 yards of open ground, exposed to fire for the whole distance, and they were men who had never been in action before. Captain Townshend had served in the expedition sent to relieve Khartoum, and had been pre- sent in the battles of Gubat and Abu Klea, where Sir Herbert Stewart and Burnaby lost their lives, and he had taken part in the sharp little Hunza campaign in 1 89 1, but he told me that he had never before been under so hot a fire as that which now met his party as they scrambled over the bank. The Kashmir General Baj Singh, a fine old soldier and gentleman, who was always keen to be in the thickest of a fight, and whose keenness had now led him to the front when by rights he should have been more in rear, was shot down on one side of Captain Townshend, while Major Bhikam Singh, another brave old Kashmir officer, was mortally wounded on the other side. Their leaders fallen, the finest troops in the world would have found it hard to face SO terrible a fire, and the raw Kashmir infantry could no longer stand before it. Insensibly they shrank down under the fire, then crouched down behind stones, till Captain Townshend finding it impossible to carry the charge home in spite of all his endeavours to get the men on, abandoned the attempt, and ordered his men back behind the wall from which they had started.

Events had now^ taken a very serious turn. The British officers were nearly two miles distant from the fort with a handful of disheartened troops in the face of vastly superior numbers of an elated enemy, who were now commencing to overlap them on all sides. The retirement to the fort how commenced, and Captain Campbell, even though he was very severely wounded in the knee, mounted a pony and helped to keep the troops in order and steady during the trying retirement. This retirement was effected by alternate parties, the men dribbling off to the rear by word of command while the remainder kept up a heavy fire to keep off the enemy. Captain Townshend always remained with the last party in order to prevent any panic or disorder arising, and in this way the party reached a house about a mile from the fort, where Mr. Robertson was found rallying men who had retired before, and here a short stand was made, while Mr. Robertson, at great risk and exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy now lining the garden walls and houses on every side, rode back to the fort to bring out fifty of Lieutenant Harley s Sikhs to cover the retirement.

It was now quite dark, and the enemy were firing into Captain Townshend s troops from front, flank, and rear, from every hamlet and wall. The Chitralis and Pathans were wild with excitement at the unexpected success of their first encounter with the British, and, carried away in the whirl of enthusiasm, even women hurled down stones upon the retiring troops. Groping their way, and unable at a short distance to distinguish friend from foe. Captain Townshend brought his men along between walls flashing out fire in the darkness till he reached the serai near the fort, where he found fifty Sikhs under Lieutenant Harley come out to cover his retreat. Steady as on parade, and calm and un- moved amidst all the excitement around them, Harley and his veterans headed back the storm while the Kashmir troops retired to the fort. Then he and his men slowly retired within the walls also while the enemy closed thickly around, and the in- vestment which was to last forty-seven long days and weary nights commenced.

But when the officers arrived within the walls it was found that two of their number were missing. Neither Dr. Whitchurch nor Captain Baird had yet arrived. It was known that Baird had been desperately wounded, and deep anxiety regarding the fate of him and Whitchurch was felt, when at about eight o'clock Whitchurch was seen from the walls staggering along towards the gateway, sup- porting and half carrying Baird along. At the beginning of the action Baird, with about fifty men. had been sent away on the right to work round the enemy s flank. With his handful of men, and with Lieutenant Gurdon by his side, he ascended the steep rocky mountain slopes which overlook the valley. It is a generally accepted principle of war- fare that an attacking party should be divided into an advance party and a support, and this principle was now acted upon ; but Captain Baird, with his characteristic zeal, would not remain with the support, but determined on leading the advance himself, and Lieutenant Gurdon, who, though as Political Officer was not present in the reconnaissance in a strictly military capacity, was as anxious as Baird to be in front, so the two British officers agreed to go on together with the advance. But the enemy were now in hundreds on the mountain side firing and hurling down stones upon the little straggling party, who painfully worked their way upward. Captain Baird was mortally wounded in the stomach, many other of his men were also hit, and the party had to be drawn off. Lieutenant Gurdon could not remain long to look after his wounded comrade, for he had to collect the men and conduct their retirement upon the main body. But news was given to Dr. Whitchurch of the misfortune to poor Baird, and a small escort was left to help him home, as no general retirement had yet taken place. All that he could do Dr. Whitchurch did for Baird ; but now, as darkness was closing in, it was seen that our troops were retiring — that the enemy were swarming round on all sides, and that even the retreat to the fort was threatened. Whitchurch collected together about a dozen sepoys, and then set off to carry the wounded officer back to the fort. The enemy had penetrated in between him and the main body, and were firing from the houses and garden walls on the way to the fort. The direct road back was therefore quite blocked to him, and Dr. Whitchurch had to take a circuitous route of three miles round. They were exposed to fire for almost the entire way, and had it not been for the darkness nothing could have saved them. On more than one occasion Whitchurch had to lay down his burden, and, at the head of the men he had collected, charge the enemy to drive them from a wall and make a way. Then he would go back, pick Baird up again, and carry him through. Several of the party were killed — how many cannot be correctly ascertained, for in the darkness and confusion it was impossible to ascertain the exact number of his party — and just as they reached the fort, and when in a few minutes more they would have been in safety, Captain Baird was hit for the third time, and wounded in the face. Dr. Whit- church and the brave Kashmir troops who had remained by him had by his devotion and gallantry brought back to the other British officers their wounded comrade, only to die, indeed, on the following morning, but to die with his brother officers by his side, and where he could be buried by them with the last solemn rites. “ It is difficult to write temperately about Whit- church," wrote Mr. Robertson in reporting this action to Government, and men who have them- selves gained the Victoria Cross have said that never has it been more gallantly earned than on this occasion by Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch.

The total losses in this day's engagement were twenty-three men killed and thirty-three wounded out of 200, of whom only 1 50 were actually engaged ; and it was with this newly-raised Kashmir regiment depressed by these severe losses, and with their own hearts saddened by the death on the following morning of their brave comrade that the British officers commenced the defence of the Chitral fort against an enemy correspondingly elated at their success.

The Chitral fort is eighty yards square with walls twenty-five feet high and about eight feet thick. At each corner there is a tower some twenty feet higher than the wall, and outside the north face on the edge of the river is a fifth tower to guard the waterway. On the east face a garden runs out for a distance of 140 yards, and forty yards of the south-east tower is a summer-house. On the north and west faces were stables and other outhouses.

The fort is built of rude masonry kept together, not by cement or mortar of any description, but by cradle-work of beams of wood placed longitudinally and transversely so as to keep the masonry together. Without this framework of wood the walls would fall to pieces.

The fort is situated on the right bank of the Chitral river, some forty or fifty yards from the waters edge. It is commanded from nearly all sides for Martini- Henry or Snider rifle fire, for mountains close by the river rise above the valley bottom. The fort is so situated for the purpose of maintaining water, and at the time of its construction breech-loading rifles were not in possession of the people of the country so that the fort could not then be fired into.

The strength of the garrison of the beleaguered fort was — 99 men of the 14th Sikhs, 301 men of the Kashmir Infantry, with the following British officers : Surgeon-Major Robertson, British Agent ; Captain C. V. F. Townshend, Central India Horse, commanding British Agent's Escort, and Commandant of the fort ; Lieutenant Gurdon, Assistant to the British Agent ; Lieutenant H. K. Harley, 14th Sikhs; Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch, 24th Punjab Infantry ; Captain Campbell, Central India Horse (badly wounded).

There were 11 followers and 27 servants i6th Punyali levies, 12 native clerks and messengers, 7 commissariat and transport followers, and 52 Chitralis, bringing up the total number within the fort to 543 persons. For these there were supplies which, putting every one in the fort on half rations, would last about two and a half months. There were 300 rounds of ammunition per man for the Martini-Henry rifles of the Sikhs, and 280 rounds per man for the Snider rifles of the Kashmir Infantry.

On the 4th March the enemy commenced offen- sive action against the British in earnest by firing the whole day long into the fort. On this day, Captain Townshend, who, now that Captain Campbell was wounded and unable to leave his bed, commanded the fort, commenced taking measures for its proper defence. It was a most unfortunate circumstance that affairs had come to a head so quickly, that he was unable to carry out any demolitions of the out- houses, &c., which surrounded the fort. His first care, however, was to do what he could towards carrying out this necessary operation ; even though much of the work had to be done under fire, it was necessary to knock down all the garden walls and houses he could, so as to prevent the enemy occupying them and effecting a lodgment, as they thus would be close up to the very walls of the fort. As it was, the besiegers succeeded in occupying the summer-house at the south-east angle of the fort, which was only forty yards distant from the corner tower.

The fort is also surrounded by numbers of trees of great height, which not only afforded cover to the enemy, but up which it might have been possible for them to climb, and from their higher branches fire into the very interior of the fort. Captain Townshend had also to take efficient measures for protecting the way down to the river, for as there was no serviceable well inside the fort it was necessary to obtain every drop of water required by the garrison from the river. The river flowed along the north face of the fort and a tower covered the way down to it, but in this wintry season the river was low and there was still the space of some thirty yards between the door of this tower and the river s edge. It was necessary therefore to construct a covered way from the gate of the tower to the water. To neutralise the effect of the fire from the hill sides which, during the whole of the day came pouring down into the fort. Captain Townshend had also to devise some arrangement. Planks, and beams of wood, doors, mule saddles, boxes, and sacks filled with earth, were piled up as parados to protect the men's backs as they fired from the parapets. There was not, however, sufficient material of a solid description to protect the whole of the interior from the enemy's fire, and where perfect protection could not be made, cover from sight was arranged for, that is to say, cut up tents, carpets, and curtains were hung across passages and doorways so that the enemy might not be able to see men passing along. If they fired upon these tents and carpets the bullets would of course go through them, but they would be unable to know when anybody was passing along behind them, and it would therefore be scarcely worth their while to keep firing upon these screens on the mere chance of hitting a passer-by. For the parapets, where the besiegers would know that men for certain would be stationed. Captain Townshend arranged sufficient protection of beams of wood, &c. ; for the remainder, screens to serve as protection from sight were provided. These first measures occupied the attention of the British officers for the few days following the commencement of the siege.

On the night of the 7th March the enemy made a determined attack on the water-way. The besiegers were well versed in every art of the attack on such forts as Chitral, for among the numbers were several hundreds of Umra Khan*s Jandulis, whose entire lives are occupied in besieging and defending similar forts to that of Chitral. They well knew therefore the importance of cutting off the garrison from its water supply, and this is always the first measure which they attempt. Under cover of darkness therefore they commenced a heavy and well sustained fire from the trees on the north-west front of the fort, and sent a party of men to effect an entrance to the water tower. This they actually succeeded in doing, and a small number of them carrying faggots of wood placed these in the interior of the tower, and set fire to them with the object of burning down the entire structure. The garrison, however, were well on the alert, the men always slept on their alarm posts, and every one was quickly in his place. A well-controlled fire was then commenced on the attacking party. Captain Townshend had given instructions that no independent firing was to be allowed at night, and only section volleys were employed. The enemy s attack was driven off, and water-carriers having been sent out to the water- tower, the fire there was quickly put out.

At the end of the first week of the siege, owing to the admirable arrangements for the protection of the men, there . had only been five casualties, but there were now only eighty rifles of the 14th Sikhs and 200 rifles of the Kashmir Infantry fit for duty. These latter, too, were much shaken by their severe losses in the reconnaissance of the 4th March. They were a new regiment, and that action was the first occasion on which they had been under fire, and they had then lost their general and major, and fifty-six killed and wounded out of the total of 250 actually engaged. It was hardly to be wondered at, therefore, that these men should be depressed at the prospects before them. The siege was likely to be a long one, only half rations could be served to the men, and Captain Townshend saw clearly that under the circumstances he must husband the re- sources and energy of his men, and watch them and encourage them as much as possible.

The following arrangements besides those already detailed, were now made. First a fort police was established to watch the Chitralis in the fort and prevent them communicating with the besiegers. Amongst these Chitralis were many who were anything but loyal to the British, and who, above everything, desired not to be found on the losing side when the crisis came. They had therefore to be carefully watched to see that they did not attempt communication with their friends outside the fort. Secondly, a system for extinguishing fires was organised. The water-carriers were ordered to sleep with their mussucks (skins) filled with water, and ammunition boxes and any vessels which could be found were also filled with water and placed ready to hand. Patrols were sent round day and night to watch accidents from fire. These precautions were especially necessary on account of the large amount of wood-work inside the fort, and because the walls and towers were built almost as much of wood as of stone. Thirdly, what sanitary arrangements were possible were made. Fourthly, followers, officers' servants, and other non-combatants were organised into parties for carrying water, put- ting out fire, carrying out demolitions, building up cover from fire, and for every other kind of work for which they could be employed, and so save the regular soldiers. Fifthly, hand mills for grinding were made and men told off for this work. Lastly, Captain Townshend instilled into the minds of all the men that a relieving force would soon come, and then they would be able to sally out and drive back the enemy.

The work of the defence practically devolved upon three officers only — Captain Townshend, Lieutenant Gurdon, and Lieutenant Harley — Surgeon- Major Robertson was engaged in his political duties under flags of truce and so forth in treating and corresponding with the enemy. Captain Campbell was wounded, and Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch was fully occupied with his medical duties. The three officers for the de- fence therefore took their turn of duty in watches of four hours each, as on board ship. Each, separately, would come on duty for his four hours, rest for eight, and then come on duty again for another four hours, and so on. Theoretically they had eight hours* rest, but in practice it was found that with alarms of attack and with various extra work about the fort to be done, they were more often at rest for four hours and at work for eight, than at work for four and at rest for eight hours, and the work was now all the more trying that they were only on half rations, and that they were never able to sleep undressed. What sleep they got was mostly in the daytime, and even then with all their clothes on and generally even their belts on. It was a remarkable fact, however, that in spite of the work they had to go through and the anxieties they must necessarily have had, the sepoys told me when I reached the fort a week after the siege was over, that they never saw on the faces of the officers any sign of their anxiety. Captain Townshend and his officers in fact made a point of, whatever they might feel inwardly, always appearing cheery and in good heart before their men, and upon this depended in no small degree the success of the defence. The Sikhs had sufficient backbone in themselves to keep up heart ; they had suffered no loss in the engagement previous to the siege, they were many of them veterans who had fought in many frontier fights, and their native officer had been engaged in the fierce battle at McNeils Zareba in the Soudan campaign ; but the Kashmir troops were young and untried, they were now placed in a position which required all the finest qualities of a soldier, and it was for these especially that it was necessary that the British officers should be able to inspire confidence and hope.

Captain Townshend still continued, whenever opportunity occurred, and he had time to spare, the work of demolishing the outer walls beyond the main wall of the fort. He used the Punyalis for this, and they did it, he says, marvellously quickly. They crept along on their stomachs outside the walls, and with beams of wood pushed down the light outer walls which ran out round the fort. The enemy fired incessantly upon them while the work was being carried out, but nobody was hit. Thirty rounds a day were also fired at the house in which Sher Afzul lived, in order to cause him annoyance, and let him see that the garrison were awake. When an attack was made at night, and there was no firing, the average amount of ammunition ex- pended during the first two or three weeks of the siege was between forty and fifty rounds of Martini- Henry, and twenty or thirty rounds of Snider ammunition daily. To guard against attack by night, arrangements had to be made for lighting up the ground immediately outside the walls of the fort. At first, light balls made up of chips of wood and resinous pine, and soaked in kerosene oil, were lighted and thrown over the walls. But there were not sufficient materials to carry on this method nightly ; and the defenders adopted the better plan of building out platforms from the walls, and lighting fires on these, which would keep the ground in the vicinity of the fort lighted up for the entire night.

On the night of the 13th- 14th of March the enemy made an attack on the east face, outside which is a garden with a number of large trees. They sounded the advance on a bugle, and with much shouting and beating of tom-toms, and keeping up a straggling fire they advanced to the attack. The garrison received them with a brisk fire, and though men had been heard by the defenders shouting to them repeatedly to come and attack the water-way, they gradually slunk off in the dark back to their own lines. Finding the enemy still had an intention of attacking the water-way. Captain Townshend further strengthened the way to the river, loopholing and occupying the stables just by the gate. On the 15th of March a letter was received from Sher Afzul, in which the would-be M eh tar said that a party of troops escorting an ammunition convoy had been surrounded and defeated at Reshun ; and further, that a British officer, who had come down from Mastuj had also been taken prisoner, and that he had written a letter to Dr. Robertson, which Sher Afzul would deliver if the British agent would send some one to receive it. This was the news of the disaster to Captain Ross, and Lieutenants Edwardes' and Fowlers parties. But the officers in Chitral refused to believe it. On the following day, however, a letter written by Lieu- tenant Edwardes from Reshun on the 1 3th of March was received, and in it he gave the news of the attack upon his party, and of his being shut up in the post which he had fortified. On the 19th af March Abdul Majid Khan, Umra Khan's lieu- tenant, who, with three hundred Jandulis, had been with Sher Afzul during the siege, sent a letter to Dr. Robertson saying that he much regretted that although he had sent off messengers to Reshun to say that peace had been made, a fight had taken place, and that two British officers and nine Mohammedan sepoys had been taken prisoners, and would arrive in Chitral on the following day. On the 20th of March, Lieutenants Edwardes and Fowler reached Chitral, and on the same day a native, clerk from the garrison was allowed to come and see them, that he might be able to assure the defenders that there was no mistake about the disasters having occurred. The news of this unfortunate occurrence much depressed the garrison. They knew that it would not only greatly elate the Chitralis, but would also give into their hands a large quantity of ammunition and engineering- stores which might be used against them. Captain Townshend, however, in no way relaxed his efforts in conducting a successful defence, and even during; the few days’ truce which followed, he worked incessantly at his defences, strengthening the cover to the water-way and constructing a semi-circular loop-holed fleche outside the water door. On the 22nd of March, the officers had to commence eating horse-flesh, and they killed and salted their ponies. For the next few days and nights the rain poured in torrents, doing much damage to the walls of the fort, a large piece of the parapet on the west front subsiding, and giving the garrison much work in rebuilding it again with beams in the evening. On the 29th of March, a Union Jack, made up from the red cloth of the sepoys' turbans and other material, was hoisted on the top of the highest tower, the south-west, and the garrison considered that from that time onward their luck began to turn. Improved head-cover was made on all the towers, and beams were put up in the stables to protect men going out of the water-gate down to the covered water-way. The top of the water-tower was also strengthened, and its lowest story pierced with loop-holes. An attempt was made to send a messenger to Mr. Udny at Asmar, but the enemy was watching so closely, that the man was compelled to return, and not once . during the siege were the garrison able to communicate with the outside world. On the 30th of March, the amount of ammunition in hand was 29,224 rounds of Martini- Henry ammunition — i.e. 356 rounds per rifle for eighty-two effective sepoys and fourteen Sikhs. Besides this. there were 68,587 rounds of Snider ammunition in hand for 261 effective men of the Kashmir Infantry, that is to say, 262 rounds per rifle for these. There were now fit for duty 343 rifles in all. By these the following guards and pickets had to be furnished : —
Maingate 10
Parapet 40 (10 on each parapet)
Water picket 20
tower 25
Stable picket 20
Water-gate guard 10
Guard over Amir-ul-Mulk ... 6
Chitralis at night 4
on ammunition 6
garden gate 6
four towers 24
Total 171

Thus only 172 rifles were available with which to make a sortie. The strength of the guards had been reduced to the lowest number compatible with safety, and out of 172, at least thirty-five would be required for an inlying picket. The garrison now had supplies to the amount of 45,000 pounds of grain, which would last the number of persons in the fort seventy-four days, or up to the 1 3th of June, at the rate of 540 pounds a day. Some allowance for wastage would necessarily have to be made. There were now only left thirty-six pounds of the clarified butter which native soldiers require so much. That was kept for the sick and wounded, and for lights at guards in the fort, and even then would only- last another twelve days, after which it was known that the already heavy sick-list would be greatly increased as soon as the clarified butter gave out, for the men were all the time on half rations, and were getting little else. Stenches in the stables, too, in which were situated the latrines, were terrible, and a picket of twenty-five men had to be placed there every night, as it lay on the water-way. There was still a little rum left, and some tea, and the Sikhs were given one dram of rum every four days, and the Kashmir Infantry were given a tea ration every third day.

On the 31st of March, the enemy made a new sangar on the opposite bank of the river, at a distance of only 175 yards from the place where the garrison had to take the water from the river. The enemy here showed the greatest skill in the construction and defence of their sangars, making regular zigzag approaches after the manner of our own engineers, excavating trenches, and building up breast- works of fascines, stones, and earth. The defenders replied by placing screens of tents to conceal the men going down to the water, so that the enemy should not be able to see when any one was on the way to the river's edge. More beams were also put outside the water- gate, to protect the doorway from the fire of the riflemen on the opposite bank of the river. But the enemy were not only advancing their trenches towards the water-way from the opposite bank of the river, they also now commenced the construction of a covered way to the water from their lower sangar on the north-west front of the fort, close down to the river. This sangar was only about eighty yards from the defenders' covered way to the water. Captain Townshend now commenced further protection for men going to the water, by sinking a trench in the stables. On the 5 th and 6th of April, the enemy showed great activity on the south-east corner of the fort, occupying the summer-house only forty yards distant, and they also constructed a large fascine sangar in front of the main gate, at a distance of only forty yards. The garrison commenced loopholing the lower story of this tower to command the east end of the stables, and more loopholes were also made in the stable buildings at the west end. From their proximity, the enemy were able to cause great annoyance to the besiegers, and it was with great difficulty that the defenders were able to keep a proper watch over their proceedings. On the 7 th of April, at about 5 A.M., a large number of the enemy opened a heavy matchlock fire from the trees in front of the north tower, and an attack was made on the covered way to the water. The defenders were instantly on the alert, and steady volleys were fired upon the enemy by the Sikhs, which caused them to decamp towards the bazaar.

But while this firing was taking place on the western face, the enemy managed with great pluck to place huge faggots and blocks of wood in a pile against the corner of the gun tower on the south-east, and setting alight to it, the tower was soon set on fire, and began blazing up. This was a most serious matter. Captain Townshend immediately sent up the whole of the inlying picket with their greatcoats full of earth, and as much water as could be obtained was brought up to throw down upon the fire. A strong wind was blowing at the time, and though for a moment the fire was got under, it soon blazed up again, the flames mounting up in spaces be- tween the beams and the tower. Dr. Robertson, who was in the tower superintending the putting out of the fire, was wounded at a hole in the wall, and a Sikh shot there the next minute. A sentry of the Kashmir Infantry was also shot. Altogether nine men were wounded, and as the enemy were only forty yards distant, no one could appear above the wall, or at any hole, for the purpose of throwing down earth or water upon the fire raging below, without the risk of being shot. It. seemed at one time, therefore, as if it would be impossible to keep down the flames, which were now working right into the tower, and which^ if they could not be subdued, would quickly burn down the whole of the wood- work of which so much of the tower is composed, and so cause the whole tower to fall a mass of ruins, and make a great gap in the walls of the fort. Eventually, however, the defenders devised the plan of making a water-spout, which they pushed out through a hole in the corner of the tower, and then pouring in water from the inside, allowed it to pour down on the flames below. In this way, after working for about five hours, the fire was got under, but water was kept pouring down inside the walls all day long, and holes were picked inside the tower to thoroughly damp it out. To guard against this happening again Captain Townshend made more strict arrangements for watching the ground under the walls, and the better disciplined Sikhs were put as sentries in place of the men of the Kashmir Infantry.

The Machicoulis galleries were gradually im- proved and loopholed inside, in a way that all the ground immediately under the tower could be well watched, and a sentry always lay in each of these galleries. Captain Townshend also had heaps of earth collected, and sent up on the parapets, and vessels and ammunition boxes filled with water, placed in every story in each of the towers. The waterproof sheets of the 14th Sikhs were also utilised for the purpose of holding water, and all the servants and followers were formed into a fire picket under Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch. Heaps of stones were also placed at the top of the towers for the sentries to throw down from time to time in the dark. On the evening of the 8th of April, some red-hot embers and a bundle of faggots were observed quite close to the tower, and it was evident that the enemy had succeeded in rushing up and placing these there while the sentries were being relieved. Captain Townshend accordingly arranged that the sentries should be relieved at a different time from day to day, so that the enemy should be unaware when the relief was taking place. On that day, Captain Townshend demolished some remaining walls left outside the main gate, and he also built a stone loopholed tambour in front of the main gate. This would hold ten men, and from it it was possible to flank the whole of the west front with its two towers.

And the Machicoulis gallery in the gun tower was still further improved, and good loop-holes were made in the lower story. A hole was also dug inside the tower in the floor to the depth of about four feet, and then a shutter-like loophole was made which commanded the ground at the foot of the south face of the tower. Sentries were placed in all of these. Fourteen men were now permanently in this gun tower, and an officer also lived in it. The number of men in hospital now were 11 Sikhs, 19 Kashmir Infantry, and 6 others, and there were 49 out-patients besides, making the total number of sick 85.

On the night of the 10th-11th of April, the enemy made an attack upon the water-way. They came rushing in with a tremendous din, yelling, and beating tom-toms, but the defenders immediately sprang to their stations, and fired section-volleys from the parapets. These volleys caused them, as on other attacks, to retreat towards the bazaar, and with a loss of only one man wounded on the part of the defenders, this last assault of the enemy was beaten. On the following day it was noticed that the enemy began playing tom-toms and Pathan pipes, in the summer-house at night, and shouting abuse at intervals. At this time large parties of the enemy were seen moving away towards Mastuj, and the garrison began speculating upon the approach of a force from Gilgit to their relief The enemy were indeed moving off to oppose Colonel Kelly, who had now crossed the Shandur Pass, and reached Mastuj on his way to Chitral.

On the evening of the i6th of April, it having struck the defenders that the tom-toming, which was so constantly kept up in the summer-house, was intended to drown the sound of the picking of a mine, sentries in the gun tower were warned to be on the alert, and to listen intently. It was thought quite possible that the enemy might have the intention of digging a mine from the summer-house in towards the tower, and right under it, so as to be able to blow it up, and effect an entrance to the fort. At midnight one of the sentries in the lower story of the gun tower, reported that he heard the noise of picking. Captain Townshend himself went up, but could hear nothing. But about 1 1 a.m. on the morning of the 17 th, the native officer in the gun tower re- ported to him that he could hear the noise of picking quite distinctly. Captain Townshend accordingly again went up, and there could now be no mistake that a mine was being made, and that it had reached to within twelve feet of the walls of the fort. Dr. Robertson came up and listened too ; and both officers agreed that the only thing to be done was to rush the summer-house, and destroy the mine, for there was no time to construct a counter-mine, and the enemy's plan must be frustrated at once.

Lieutenant Harley was accordingly told off to command a party of forty Sikhs, and sixty of the Kashmir Infantry, and he was given the following instructions : — " He was not to fire a shot in rushing to the assault, but to use the bayonet only. He was, however, to take forty rounds of ammunition for the purpose of firing upon the enemy after he had captured the summer-house. He was to take with him three powder bags with no pounds of powder, and forty feet of powder-hose, and picks and spades. He was to go straight for a gap in the wall of the house with his whole party without any support. Having rushed the place, he was to hold it with part of his men, while with the remainder he was to destroy the mine by pulling down the upright and wooden supports, if any, or by blowing it in if he saw fit. If possible he was to take a prisoner or two."

Captain Townshend summoned the native officers going with Lieutenant Harley, and explained to them the object of the sortie, that they might be able to make it thoroughly clear to their non-commissioned officers and men. All officers carried matches, and one officer was told off to bring up the rear, and see that no man hung back. At four o'clock in the afternoon of the 17th April, the gate of the east face of the fort was quietly opened, and Lieutenant Harley rushed out at the head of his party. A man was shot on either side of him, even in the short space of eighty yards which they had to cover before reaching the walls of the summer-house. But the enemy had been taken by surprise, and were only able to get off a few hurried shots before Lieutenant Harley and his men were up to the walls, over them, and into their midst. At the time of this unexpected assault there were about thirty Pathans in the house, and they bolted down the garden wall, and stopped at the far end, threw out fascines from behind it, and from under cover of these, poured a heavy fire into the house. Lieutenant Harley told off' a certain number of his men to reply to these, and then sought for the main shaft of the mine. This was found outside the summer-house, behind the garden wall, and thirty-five Chitralis were bayoneted in the mouth of the mine as they came out. While Harley was employed in clearing the mine and holding the summer-house, the enemy, now thoroughly on the alert, began moving in large numbers down to the river-bank and along behind the garden wall towards the water-way, with the intention of making a counter-attack upon it. Captain Townshend having considerable anxiety that an attack made now while a hundred of his men were outside might be successful, lined the parapets and- kept an incessant steady fire upon the assailants, while he sent three successive messengers to Lieutenant Harley to hurry up in his work, and warning him that the enemy were gathering round the garden with the intention of either cutting him off, or striking at the waterway. In about an hours time Lieutenant Harley cleared the mine of the men inside it, and taking down the powder bags placed them in the mine. These were exploded, and the work being completed. Lieutenant Harley rushed back to the fort again, the enemy from the end of the garden keeping up a furious fusillade as they retired. The party lost, altogether, 8 men killed and 13 wounded, i.e. 21 killed and wounded out of a total of 100 men. But the work had been accomplished, the mine had been success- fully blown up, until it now lay exposed as a trench running up to the fort to a distance of only ten feet from it, and the besiegers had been shown that now, after forty-six days of the siege, the defenders still had pluck and spirits enough left in them to assume a vigorous offensive.

Yet the defenders were not to be carried away by their success, or led into slackening their precautions in any way, and they immediately began to run a subterranean gallery round the tower, to ensure that if the enemy again attempted mining, they must run into this. But now relief was close at hand, and the labours and anxieties of the garrison were soon to cease. On the night of the i8th of April, a man was heard outside the walls shouting to those inside that he had important news to tell. With great precautions he was let into the fort, and he was then recognised as a man known to the officers. He told them that Sher Afzul and the Janduli chiefs, with all their men, had fled in the night, and that a British force from Gilgit was only two marches distant. The officers at first refused to believe this story, for the news seemed all too good to be true, and they feared that the enemy were merely trying to entrap them into leaving the fort or slackening their watching, and so catching them at a disadvantage. But as no signs of the enemy could be observed, patrols were sent out, and then,. as it became apparent that the enemy had really drawn off, the famished British officers, in the first place, showed their satisfaction at their release by sitting down to eat a good square meal. They had so far been only able to eat sparingly even of their horse-flesh, but now, as the siege was over, they could eat as they wished. Then they tried to sleep, but being so excited they found it impossible to do so ; so they got up and ate again, calling their first meal "supper," and the second meal ** early breakfast." At day- light the next morning, patrols were sent out at some distance from the fort, and the whole place was then found to be deserted, and on the following day Colonel Kelly s little force marched in from Gilgit.

So ended this memorable siege. " The quite exemplary coolness, intrepidity, and energy ex- hibited by Captain Townshend, and the valour and endurance displayed by all ranks in the defence of the fort at Chitral," says the Commander-in-Chief in India, “ have added greatly to the prestige of the British arms, and will elicit the admiration of all who read this account of the gallant defence made by a small party of Her Majesty s forces, and combined with the troops of His Highness the Maharajah of Kashmir, against heavy odds when shut up in a fort in the heart of an enemy's country, many miles from succour and support." And the Viceroy and Governor-General of India in Council, in endorsing the Commander-in-Chiefs remarks, says : “ That his words will, he feels assured, be deeply felt by «very subject of Her Majesty throughout the British Empire. The steady front shown to the enemy, the military skill displayed in the conducting of the defence, the cheerful endurance of all the hardships of the siege, the gallant demeanour of the troops, and the conspicuous example of heroism and intrepidity recorded, will ever be remembered as forming a glorious episode in the history of the Indian Empire and its army." The Viceroy joined with the Commander-in-Chief in deploring the loss of Captain Baird, General Baj Singh, and Major Bhikan Singh, and of so many other brave soldiers who fell in the discharge of their duty. Her Majesty the Queen was pleased to express her gracious approbation of the successful efforts of the troops, and His Excellency the Viceroy in Council tendered to Surgeon-Major Robertson, Captain Townshend, and to the whole garrison, his heartfelt congratulations on their gallant defence of the position entrusted to them, while it was an especial pleasure, His Excellency said, to recognise the devoted aid given by the loyal troops of His Highness the Maharajah of Kashmir.

All ranks in the garrison were granted six months' pay, which reward also fell to the heirs of those killed, in addition to the pensions to which they might be entitled. Surgeon-Major Robertson was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India ; Captain Townshend was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath, and promoted to a Brevet majority ; Captain Campbell was given the Decoration of the Distinguished Service Order, and promoted to a Brevet majority ; and Lieutenant Gurdon and Lieutenant Harley were both also given the Decoration of the Distinguished Service Order ; and, lastly, Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch was awarded that most coveted of all rewards, the Victoria Cross.

We now turn to the account of the brilliant march of Colonel Kelly's troops to the relief of their comrades in Chitral.