The Campbells Are Coming - British Empire 1815-1914

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The Campbells Are Coming

by Frederick Goodall
The Campbells are coming was a bagpipe tune popular in the 1850s and became the title of Frederick Goodall's painting depicting a scene from the Lucknow siege of 1857 during the Indian Rebellion.

The outbreak of the Indian Rebellion in May 1857 was regarded as the betrayal of a people, and native ingratitude for what the British had done in India. By mid c19th century, the British began to see themselves as in India to bring civilisation and to rid India of its barbaric practices. The British began to adopt a more authoritarian and superior attitude towards the Indian people and began slowly to try to change Indian customs. The culmination of this change in policy was the Indian Rebellion of 1857 which broke out in Meerut, north of Delhi and spread throughout north central India. British garrisons at Cawnpore, Lucknow, Agra and Delhi were overrun with British families and soldiers having to gather together within fortified positions or flee.

In Lucknow the British population gathered at the Residency which was fortified whilst Indian soldiers who had rejected British autonomy laid siege to the poorly defended British positions. The men, women and children who were besieged managed to hold  out until reinforcements arrived. In this painting by Frederick Goodall, originally called Jessie’s Dream, Goodall depicts a scene when a corporal’s wife called Jessie Brown, had heard the bagpipes of the approaching Highlanders . In the painting Jesse can be seen pointing in the direction of the bagpipes she has heard. The story of Jesse may well be fiction but the story of General Havelock leading the relief column on September 1857  after having failed in his first attempt on 29th July.

There had been three attempts to relieve Lucknow and its body of 855 British officers and soldiers, 712 Indians, 153 civilian volunteers, with 1,280 non-combatants, including hundreds of women and children. In July 1857 a force under Major General Havelock had attempted to lift the siege but had been weakened by fighting several hard battles and had to turn back. Havelock was replaced by Outram however he allowed Havelock to command the relieving fore until they got to the approaches of Lucknow from where Outram took over. This time the relief was successful in getting into the Residency where the soldiers and civilians were  holding out but Outram decided that he did not have the force to get back through the rebel lines. It took a third attempt made in November 1857, led by the new Commander-in-Chief of the army General Campbell, before those who had survived were safe.
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