From Brigadier M. W. SMITH, Commanding Brigade, Rajpootana Field Force No. 25, dated Camp before Gwalior, 25th June 1858.
I have the honor to report, for the information of Major-General Roberts, Commanding Rajpootana Field Force, that on the morning of the 17th instant, I marched by Major-General Sir H. Rose's order from Antree through the pass to Kotah-ka-Serai, which lies between three and four miles South-east of Gwalior.
I had reconnoitred the pass the evening before, and occupied the difficult points by strong pickets and posts, so that had there been any enemy I should have been prepared.
I met with no opposition whatever, and reached Kotah-ka-Serai at 7 1/2 a.m. Upon my arrival I saw the enemy occupying the heights in front, and between me and Gwalior.
I had orders from Sir Hugh Rose to halt at Kotah-ka-Serai and communicate with him, but as the enemy appeared determined to attack me, and being also hampered with a large quantity of baggage and Kotah-ka-Serai not being a secure position, I thought it best to take the initiative. I therefore collected my baggage in and near the fort of Kotah-ka-Serai, placing it under a Troop of Her Majesty's 8th Hussars, and a squadron of Lancers, and as strong a guard of Infantry as I could afford. I reconnoitred the ground in front, and found it to be most difficult, intersected with nullahs and impracticable for Cavalry. About 1,500 yards from Kotah-ka-Serai, their guns were in position, and their line ran all under the hills across the road to Gwalior.
This I ascertained by advancing with - my reconnoitring party to within about 4 or 500 yards, when they opened so heavy a fire upon us that we were obliged to retire, not however before I had made myself acquainted with the nature of the ground, and thus enabled myself to avoid being intangled in the nullahs above mentioned.
I advanced the Horse Artillery and soon silenced their guns; after three or four rounds they began to retire, and I sent my Infantry across the broken ground giving the command of that branch to Lieutenant Colonel Raines, Commanding Her Majesty's 95th (the senior Infantry Officer present), with orders to follow up the enemy as far as he thought advisable. I have called upon Lieutenant-Colonel Raines to furnish me with a report, which I enclose, as. I consider it gives a detailed and accurate account of the proceedings of the Infantry part of the Force from the time I gave him the order to advance up to the time of occupying the heights above Gwalior. I have only to add that I cannot speak too highly of the steady and Soldier-like conduct of both Officers and men of the 10th Native Infantry, who have given me the most prompt and ready assistance upon all occasions and of Officers and men of the 95th Regiment, who though exhausted from fatigue and want of food, stormed the heights under a burning sun and a heavy fire.
In consequence of threatening movements of the enemy, as well as the unprotected position of the baggage, I was obliged to send back (to reinforce the Troops already left at Kotah-ka-Serai) one. Troop, of Her Majesty's 8th Hussars, one Division Horse Artillery and two Companies 10th Native Infantry.
From the nature of the ground already described, I was unable for some time to bring my Cavalry into action, and merely retained them as support and escort to the Troop Horse Artillery under Lieutenant-Colonel Blake, but having advanced to the head of the pass, partially occupied the heights above the plain near the Phool Bagh and placed Infantry to guard the entrance of the defile, and protect a retreat, I thought I might venture to advance with a Squadron of the 8th Hussars, and the two divisions of Horse Artillery remaining at my disposal1 and one troop of the 1st Lancers, sending back for the remaining troop of the 1st Lancers as a support.
I then ordered the Squadron of Hussars to charge to the front which they did most gallantly, passing right through the enemy's Camp, carrying everything before them.
[It is this action by the Hussars during which it is believed that the Rani was fatally wounded. AC]
Upon the return of the Squadron both Officers and men were so completely exhausted and prostrated from heat, fatigue, and great exertion they could scarcely sit on their saddles and were for the moment incapable of further exertion. This was a critical moment, as the, enemy were collecting both on the front and flanks, but the 95th had arrived, near the guns, and the 8th Hussars, in spite of their fatigue, formed to their front in line, and in order to show a greater front I formed them in single ranks. In the mean time the remaining Troop of the 1st Lancers had arrived to support, as second line, I then retired the Cavalry by alternative Troops, protected by the Artillery, during which movement both arms showed the greatest steadiness and entered the ravines, under the protection of the Infantry posted there. I then took up a position for the night on the heights, sending for my baggage and placing it in tolerable security, in a sort of amphitheatre formed by a portion of the hills we occupied. I guarded both ends of the defile with strong pickets of Infantry, in strong positions formed by the ground, and also threw out strong pickets, both Cavalry and infantry, towards the heights on our right; the left of our position was defended against any sudden assaults by a steep bank and a canal.
Having now finished my first day's proceedings, I have only to add the names of some Officers, who gave me most valuable assistance
Lieutenant-Colonel Hicks, Commanding details, who was most energetic and always in the front, both in reconnoitring and in the charge, and it was at his suggestion that I ordered the charge of the Squadron of the 8th Hussars through the enemy's Camp, which although venturous, succeeded well with the enemy we had to deal with.
Captain Sir John Hill, acting as my Brigade Major who, in spite of the intense heat and great fatigue, was always at my side, ready to give me assistance and carry out my instructions: also Captain Bolton, Acting Quarter-Master General to the Brigade, who in addition to the performance of his own peculiar duties, which, under the circumstances, were arduous and trying in the extreme, gave me most efficient assistance. Lieutenant Williams, Sub-Assistant Commissary General attached to the Brigade, who is always most active, energetic and indefatigable in the discharge of his duties, but on this occasion, when the obtaining of any supplies were most difficult, in fact, next to impossible, he never spared himself in endeavouring to overcome difficulties.
Captain Mac Mullen, 23rd Bengal Infantry, who volunteered to act as my Aide-de-Camp and gave me most valuable and efficient assistance.
Comet Goldsworthy, Her Majesty's 8th Hussars, who also acted as my Aide-de-Camp, gave me most valuable assistance in carrying my orders under -a burning sun, and over very difficult ground, and once at a most critical moment, viz., when I required Cavalry support upon the return of the Squadron of Her Majesty's 8th Hussars from their charge.
p.s. I am much indebted to Officers Commanding Regiments, for their services to me during the day.