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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69


In May, 1858, the remainder of the regiment came on from Malta, and as they put in at Aden, some changes were effected. Some of them were landed, and others went on board to rejoin headquarters and proceed on to Bombay. As this force was marching down to Steamer Point for embarkation, between 5 and 6 p.m., five men dropped with sunstroke, three of whom died, and as a matter of course the other two could not be taken on board. Through this sad affair they were doomed for a pretty long spell on the rock. John Cosgrove, our champion runner, was one of those that recovered; the other, John Woods, was last seen by me in Rangitikei about twelve years ago.

In order to conclude my remarks concerning Cosgrove, I will here refer to a great victory achieved after our arrival in Poonah in 1860. The 56th Regiment came there shortly after us, and they had a man who had never met a defeat all over India, and hearing that we had a man who could run a little, a challenge was duly sent over, and cheerfully accepted.

There was immense interest taken in both regiments. Each was quite sure of victory, and every man raked all the rupees together that he could and was determined to lay them on their man. In due time the day fixed for the great event came. Nothing else was talked about. Officers as well as men displayed the utmost interest in it. The spot chosen was on the Racecourse, and about midway between the quarters of the two regiments. I question whether anybody page 26 had ever witnessed a race between two men which caused so much excitement as this. Long before the appointed hour both corps mustered every available man and rupee. The ground was marked off—200 yards. The betting was going on in earnest. 56th men were going about roaring—

"One hundred rupees on Glouster" (their man's name), fifty, and all other numbers. Our men were dodging round taking them up as soon as they opened their mouths with "Here ye are me boy. Any more? Come along. I have a few more left. Come on." This went on until all the rupees were used up. Officers and all were betting. Indeed it was stated that some very tall sums were staked on this race by them.

"Come along," one of our men said, "bring out all the rupees you have. We will not leave as much in your regiment as will pay for a tot of arrack this blessed night."

Betting ceased, and the men toed the mark. Glouster was an immense get up—more like a circus clown, less the painted mug. Cosgrove was just as he would be seen idling about his bungalow, except that he pulled off his boots. Glouster had on very fancy pumps. A pistol was fired and off they went, our man leading. He was generally good at the start, and he made a particularly good one on this occasion. He got in about 3½ yards ahead.

Then the excitement was tremendous. Cosgrove was lifted on a few strong shoulders and carried all the way to our lines, with the band nearly bursting themselves with the "Conquering Hero."

The canteen did a roaring trade that night. The Savings Bank account at the end of that month was greater than before the withdrawals for the race. Yet there were hundreds of rupees spent, but they had come from the 56th.

This great victory caused a coolness between the two regiments from that day, and a few evenings after a man of ours, one of my own company, named Stimson, was found dead in the lines of the 56th. It could never be traced home. Stimson was one of the most inoffensive men I ever knew—no more harm in him than in a worm—and I believe he would avoid stepping on one. He had been over seeing a friend who belonged to the same part of the Old Country as himself.

The 56th got the cholera soon after this and had to be removed some miles away under canvas. I don't say this was page 27 a judgment on them, but this I can say, that not one of our men died of grief over it.

From the death of Stimson no man of the 56th was permitted to enter our lines, not within cooey of them, and matters would have been very much worse but for a major of that regiment who once belonged to the "Die Hards" throwing oil on the troubled waters.