Letter of T.A. Martin to Damodar Rao dated August 20th 1889 published in Maharani Lakshmi Bai Saheb Hyanche Charlta (Parasnis, 1894). The letter itself is lost, and the identity of Martin is unknown to me. There was a Captain Martin stationed in Jhansi in 1853 and mentioned by Lakshmibai in one of her letters. but he is not necessarily the author of this letter. There are also other letters written by a Mr Martin to a John Venables Sturt a few years later in 1897 expressing similar sentiments.
I have two versions of this letter presumably due to differing translations since there are no substantive differences. The first is but the initial two paragraphs of the second:-
Your poor mother was very unjustly and cruelly dealt with - and no one knows her true case as well as I do. The poor thing took no part whatsoever in the massacre of the European residents of Jhansi in June 1857.
On the contrary she supplied them with food for 2 days after they had gone into the Fort, got one hundred matchlock men from Kurrura, and sent them to assist us. But after being kept a day in the fort they were sent away in the evening. She then advised Major Skene and Captain Gordon to fly at once to Duttia ad place themselves under the Raja's protection - but even this would not do - and finally, they were all massacred by our own troops--the police, jail and customs, etc. How could the poor Rani have succoured them?
The second and longer version is from Devi:-
We have treated your unfortunate mother with extreme injustice and cruelty. Nobody knows the truth as much as I do. That innocent woman of a noble character was not in the least involved with the massacre of June 4, 1857.
Furthermore, she supplied food for two consecutive days to the English under siege inside the fort. She bought in a hundred armed soldiers from Karhera to help the English but they were sent back on request of Captain Skene. She had repeatedly requested Captain Skene and Gordon to flee to the Kingdom of Datia for safe shelter. Skene rejected her appeal of goodwill and consequently everyone was killed. A single survivor of the massacre could have helped determine the truth.
As the rebel soldiers left Jhansi, she took over the affairs of state because she knew the English had no real friend but her. Datia and Tehri Orchha could have easily helped us because the limits of Orchha were only a mile and a half [2.4 km] away from the parade grounds of Jhansi and Datia's border was six miles [9.5 km] away. They had no dearth of well-equipped, armed soldiers. Yet, these rulers never came to the rescue of the English in danger. Besides they had no qualms about attacking Jhansi time and again, imagining the Queen to be weak and unprotected. From their attitude at the time, it seems that for a while they almost forgot about English rule in India. Thankfully they were defeated by the Queen's unwavering bravery each time. It is regrettable that the Queen was held responsible for the mutual strife between Jhansi-Orchha and Jhansi-Datia, and the other two Rajput states were thought of as friends of the English. I had personally handed Major Erskine of Jabalpur and Colonel Fraser, Chief Commisioner of Northwestern Provinces in Agra, the kharita [letter in Persian] written by the Queen explaining everything - but Fraser never even glanced at it. Jhansi has been held guilty without a trial and penalized.