Sita Ram’s splendidly evocative chronicle of his forty-eight years in the service of the English is a piece of first-hand military history to stand beside Sergeant Bourgogne’s memoir of the retreat from Moscow.
It is apt that the year of that tragic imperial retreat was the year 1812, the same year that Sita Ram, a Brahmin and son of a yeoman farmer of Oudh, enlisted as a sepoy in the infantry of the Bengal Native Army. He served the colours with a blend of loyalty and ’grumble and go’ through to 1860, when he retired with a pension and the rank of subedar. Through those years, he saw action against the Gurkhas and the Pindaris, fought in both Sikh Wars and in the ill-fated First Afghan War. He was wounded seven times and decorated with six medals. He was taken prisoner in the retreat from Kabul and later in that ’wind of madness’, the Mutiny of 1857, when Sita Ram remained characteristically ’true to his salt’.
First published in 1873, in translation from the original Hindi, From Sepoy to Subedar eventually became a standard textbook for British officers.
This new edition – re-edited and annotated by Major-General James Lunt – offers today’s reader a unique account of the native soldiery who helped the British to conquer India and to hold it thereafter.
- Title: From Sepoy to Subedar
- Period: British Raj, 1812–1860
- Type: Biography
- Author: Subedar Sita Ram
- Illustrator: Frank Wilson
- Format: 186-page Paperback
- Language: English
- Publisher: Papermac, London, England
- ISBN: 0333456726
- Published: 1873
List of Maps
Preface by Translator
Foreword by Sita Ram
- The Beginning
- Joining the Regiment
- The Gurkha War: 1814–1816
- The Pindari War
- Return to the Village
- The Lovely Thakurin
- The Bulwark of Hindustan
- The March into Afghanistan: 1838-1939
- Ghazni and Kabul
- The Retreat from Kabul: January 1842
- Escape from Slavery
- The First Sikh War: 1845-1846
- The Second Sikh War: 1848-1849
- The Wind of Madness
- The Pensioner
Military historians, Wargamers, role-players, and miniature collectors interested in the British colonial period of warfare will find Sita Ram’s first-hand account of active service in the Bengal Army very interesting. Subedar Ram’s adventures with 2nd Battalion 26th Bengal Infantry, which later became the 52nd Bengal Infantry, as well as 2/15 Bengal Native Infantry, 63rd BNI, Shah Shujah’s levy, and the 12th Punjab Infantry, may serve as the historic background for different miniature wargame scenarios of the period.