INDIAN MUTINY. A contemporary manuscript journal kept by an officer of the 2nd Bn. The Rifle Brigade.


Journal of the Movements and Actions of the 2d Battn Rifle Brigade During The Indian Mutiny. Kept By Frederick Edward Sotheby, Rifle Brigade. An Original Manuscript Journal      apr8/1

25 pages of diary written in black ink covering the period November 20th 1857 to March 4th 1860. 14 of the facing pages have route details with the dates and number of miles marched each day. 6 of these pages include small neat maps. There is a manuscript title page, the following blank with Sotheby’s signature. The last text page is followed by a summary of the Battalion’s achievement showing proudly that it marched 1745 miles between Dec 11 1857 & June 27 1859…All Regt Officers walked the whole distance, except one who was lame. All Officers of other Regts I met rode ponies. This is followed by a fold out hand drawn map backed with linen. The journal is written in a contemporary commercial note book bound in stiff card with stamped black paper covers, all edges red, a quantity of unused blanks follwing the map, very minor rubbing and wear, old shelf numbers in red and blue pencil at top margin of title page, internally the paper is clean and fresh. We can find no evidence that this diary has ever been fully researched or copied, let alone printed. Sotheby’s medals were sold in December 2002 at DNW in London and most of his papers are in a public collection. This journal has aan armorial bookplate on the front pastedown of the family of Cope [Lt Col Sir Anthony Cope, 13th Baronet, was a colleague of Sotheby in the Rifle Brigade during the Ashantee campaign later in his career. Sotheby had served in the Crimea and was to serve later in China and Ashanti, retiring with the rank of Major General. During the Mutiny he was a company commander in the 2nd Rifle Brigade. Numerous other officers of the regiment are mentioned in the journal, including company commanders Glyn, Thynne, Fremantle, Dillon, Baillie, Fyers, and Nixon. The journal entries are written in the brief and at times perfunctory way one might expect of a serving officer under pressure but they give a very immediate view of events from his position and sometimes provide more information than is printed in standard histories. He shows a high regard for his colleagues in the 7th Hussars who were alongside his battalion for most of the time. Of some of the Irregulars, especially the Sikh Cavalry he holds more disparaging views. He is often frustrated by the failure of the enemy to stand and fight even though they often seem to have bolted  leaving behind their guns. Numerous officers and some ncos and soldiers are mentioned from his own battalion, the 3rd Rifles, 7th Hussars, Bays, Punjab Rifles, Bengal Fusiliers, 38th Foot, and others. Occasionally there is quite a detailed account of an encounter as is the case of a battle near Chinhute a few miles from Lucknow on June 1st 1858. Here he was serving with a large force under Grant and came upon a force of some 2,000 enemy with 17 guns… some of them [the enemy] fought right well. We afterwards counted 900 killed, our own loss about 60 killed. The 3rd Batt did capitally, also the 7 Hussars. I can’t say as much for some of the Seikh Cavalry as they refused to charge when led up by some officers [of] 7 Huss; their own Chief being killed. It was an awfully hot day & a great many sunstrokes.

 A unique survival

Hart’s Army List 1874 notes his service: Major Sotheby served with the Rifle Brigade in the Crimea from the 11th Aug. 1855, including the siege and fall of Sebastopol and storming of the Redan on the 8th September (Medal with Clasp and Turkish Medal). served with the 2nd Battalion throughout the whole of its service in the suppression of the Indian mutiny, including the capture of Lucknow, and numerous affairs during the Oude campaign (Medal with Clasp). Served throughout the  campaign of 1860 in China, terminating with the surrender of Pekin (Medal with two Clasps). 

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