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Friday, 4 March 2016

A Duel in India (1828)
Topic: Officers

A Duel in India (1828)

The Public Ledger and Newfoundland General Advertiser, 29 July, 1828 (New Monthly Magazine.)

The ___ Regiment of Foot, was quartered at Vellore, when the tragical occurrence took place which deprived poor captain Bull of his existence. He was yet only in his early manhood, beloved by all who knew him, and much respected in the hussar regiment, which he quitted in exchange for a company in the regiment in India, which he had joined only a few months. At Vellore, he found a set of officers chiefly Irish, and by no means favourable specimens of that country, either in its virtues or its failings. He felt therefore, as was natural, little or no inclination to associate with them farther than military duty required. The mess of the regiment was convivial and expensive; and Capt. Bull having been affianced to a young lady who was coming to India, had the strongest and most laudable motives for living economically. He therefore intimated, but in terms of politeness his disinclination to join the mess, stating his expectations of being shortly married, and the consequent expense which he was so soon to incur. But the majority of the mess, the Irish part of it in particular, with the confusion of head incident to those who are resolved to quarrel, interpreted his refusal as a personal affront. It was then unanimously agreed amongst nine officers present, that they should draw lots which of them was to call Captain Bull out. The lot fell to Lieut. Sandays, who in the name of himself and his brother officers, sent the challenge which Bull had too much spirit to decline, though determined, as he told his second, not to fire, having no personal injury to redress. They went out, Sandays fired, and Captain Bull fell. The systematic cowardice of the plot, and the untimely fate of so excellent a young man, strongly agitated the feelings of all. Sandays, and Yeaman, his second, were brought down to the presidency, and tried at the ensuing sessions for wilfull murder. The grass-cutters and the horse-keepers, who had observed them going out together, and returning, and a water-bearer, who had actually seen the duel, were somewhat at a loss to identify Sandays, and Yeaman; and the prisoners had moreover the advantage of a jury of Madras shop-keepers, who serving the different regiments with stores, had on former occasions acquitted officers under similar charges; and, aggravated sd the present case was, probably felt a like indisposition to convict. They were acquitted, therefore, but against the strong and pointed direction of the judge, Sir henry Gwillin, who told the jury that it would be trifling with hos oath not to tell them that is was a case of foul and deliberate murder. The deliberated or pretended to deliberate, for half an hour; and during this time, the judge who could not imagine that any other verdict could be brought in than that of "Guilty" had already laid his black cap upon his note book, prepared to pass the sentence of the law upon them, and which as he told the prisoners, it was his intention to have carried into effect. "You have had," said he, addressing them with great solemnity, "a narrow escape and too merciful a jury, If they ca, let them reconcile their verdict to God and the consciences. For my part, I assure you, had the verdict been what the facts of the case so fully warranted, that in 24 hours you should have been cold and unconscious corpses—as cold and unconscious as that of the poor young man whom, by a wicked conspiracy and a wicked deed you drove out of existence. Begone! Repent of your sins. You are men of blood, and that blood cried up to heaven against you." Sandays and Yeamen were afterward tried by a court martial, found guilty of the conspiracy against the life of Capt. Bull, and broke. The sentence was confirmed by the King, with an additional clause, declaring them "incapable for ever of again serving his Majesty."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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