Cambridge Historical Reader: Primary - Cambridge Press

The Story of Havelock, and How the Pipers Came to Lucknow

You will remember the story of Robert Clive, and how his skill and daring added India to our empire. Just a hundred years later, in 1857, we were in great danger of losing India. In this story you will read how it happened.

For many years, British officers had trained the natives of India to be soldiers. Some of them were known as sepoys, and, in the year just mentioned, they rose against their rulers, and did many cruel deeds. At one place, they killed a number of British women and children, and threw their bodies down a well.

They also surrounded the town of Lucknow, which was defended by a little band of British, under a good and brave soldier named Sir Henry Lawrence. He was killed by a shell, which crashed into the room where he was sitting.

We are told that, as he lay dying, he asked that these words might be put on his tomb, "Here lies Henry Lawrence, who tried to do his duty."

Although they had lost their leader, the British in Lucknow held out bravely against their cruel foes. A brave general, Sir Henry Havelock, was soon marching at the head of a little army, to save the town.

Havelock's men fought many battles before they reached Lucknow, and marched as quickly as the hot Indian sun would allow them. In every fight, they beat the sepoys; so there is no wonder they were called "Havelock's Ironsides."

What a joyful scene it was, when these brave men reached the town! Great, bearded Highlanders grasped the hands of the women, and snatched the babies from their arms to kiss them.

They were filled with joy, at finding them safe; for, during their wonderful march, this thought was always in their minds, "Shall we get there in time to save them?" Now, Havelock's little army was not strong enough to drive away the many thousands of sepoys who were still around Lucknow: so the siege went on for some time longer.

Food now began to grow scarce, and it became hard for the men to keep up their strength. At this trying time, the women did all they could to cheer up the men, bringing them food and coffee both by day and night.

One of these women was Jessie Brown, the wife of a corporal. As the weary days dragged slowly along, Jessie fell ill, and was soon in a high fever.

Henry Havelock


One day, as she was lying in the hospital, she started wildly from the ground, with a loud cry, A look of delight broke over her face, as she cried: "Dinna ye hear it? I'm no' dreaming, 'tis the slogan of the Highlanders! We're saved, saved!"

Those around her could hear nothing but the crack of rifles and the roar of the cannon, and they thought that poor Jessie was raving.

She then darted out to the batteries, where the gunners were, and cried "Courage! courage! Hear ye not the slogan? Here's help at last."

The gunners stopped firing and listened, but they could not hear anything. Like the others, they thought that the poor woman did not know what she was talking about.

For a few minutes, she sank to the ground; and then, in a voice so clear that it could be heard all along the line, she cried: "Will ye no' believe it now? They are playing, 'The Campbells are coming, ho, ho! ho, ho!' Do ye hear? Do ye hear?"

By this time, all could tell that Jessie Brown was right, for there was no mistaking the sound of the pipers. Sir Colin Campbell, a fine old warrior, had come to their help; and, stern soldier that he was, he must have been touched by the wild joy of all around him.

Colin Cambell


From the lips of the men and women, ay! and the children, too, rang out a great shout of joy. Never before, or since, has "God save the Queen" been sung as they sang it; and when they tried to sing "Auld Lang Syne" the tears of joy streamed down their worn faces.

In a short time, Sir Colin Campbell was able to remove them all to a place of safety; and before long the sepoys were beaten everywhere, and the Indian mutiny was at an end.