|Description: A transcript of a letter dated Nov. 7 from T. Hodgetts to Capt. Harris. Hodgetts forwards a letter dated 15th January, 1849 containing a military report from A.G. Blatchford to the Assist. To Adjt. Genl. Of the Army, Punjab. The letter describes military actions of January 13, 1849. The letter states that Capt. Harris (Major of Brigade) was killed at the guns. Handwritten at the top right in blue ink is the number "101". There are also some corrections and clarifications. The reverse is letterhead for Geoffrey H. Sayers, Insurance, 112 King Street West, Toronto. Attached is a note referring to information about the death of Capt. Harris. The reverse of this page is form F.409. |
Henry William Harris (c. 1804-1849) was a younger brother of Captain James Harris of Benares. After attending military college, Henry rose through the ranks and served in India, Ireland and Canada in both the 54th and 24th Regiments of Foot. Henry spent ten years in Canada returning to England in 1841. In 1846 he was promoted to Major and almost immediately after left with his regiment for India. With the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1848, Henry joined the Punjab Army and commanded the Regiment at the Battle of Sadullapur on December 3rd, 1848. During this battle, Henry had his horse shot out from underneath him. On January 13, 1849, he was part of the Infantry force ordered to attack the Sikh guns at Chillianwala. Ordered not to fire their muskets but to charge the enemy with only bayonets fixed, Henry was one of 515 fatal casualties suffered by the Regiment. He was first wounded and then cut down and killed by a Sikh horseman as he tried to make his way to the rear. The Battle of Chillianwala was one of the most fierce and bloodiest encounters of the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849), with enough casualties on both sides to cause an outcry in England once British death tolls were made public.
Captain Charles Robinson Harris (1820-1849) was the youngest son of John and Harriet Harris born in 1820. He joined the 24th Regiment of Foot as an Ensign in February of 1837. He moved with his regiment to Canada in 1838, returning back to England in 1841, which was the same year he was promoted to Lieutenant. For the next five years he served in England and Ireland. In April 1846, Charles was promoted to Captain and in May he embarked with his regiment for India. He was appointed Brigade Major (an appointment, not a rank) of the 6th Brigade on October 28th, 1848, just after the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Sikh War. Charles was promoted to Captain soon after and fought at the Battle of Sadallapur. Charles died at the Battle of Chillianwala along with his uncle.
Both Henry and Charles Harris were buried in the same grave #752. A stone obelisk records the names of all who fell at Chillianwala and the tattered Regimental colours carried in to that battle hang in Brecon Cathedral in Wales. Over 500 British soldiers died at Chillianwala. REF: "The 15 Decisive Battles of the World from Marathon to Waterloo" by Edward Shepherd Creasy.
These transcripts were typed by Kathleen Sayers, wife of Geoffrey Sayers, whose interest in family history led her to transcribe original papers, letters, newspaper clippings, transcripts and research notes relating to Geoffrey's lineage. Geoffrey was the great grandson of James Beveridge Harris and Elizabeth Molony Harris.