EDWARD CHRISTOPHER CODRINGTON
1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry
Edward Christopher Codrington was born the 11th of October, 1837, at Neemuch, India,
the son of Lieutenant Christopher Codrington, of the 49th Bengal Native Infantry, and his
wife Julia Isabella. A member of an old India military family, his grandfather on his
mother’s side was Colonel Mark Carter Webber, Colonel of the 55th Bengal Native
Infantry. His father, a Brevet-Captain in the 49th Bengal Native Infantry was killed in
action in during the 1st Afghan War while commanding the 4th (Gurkha) Infantry at the
defense of Charikar, Kohistan, Afghanistan.
Edward received a classical and mathematical education at Cheltenham College and under
private tutors, probably so-called “crammers” for the HEIC examination. At the
recommendation of his mother, he was nominated a Cadet for the East India Company's
Bengal Infantry for the 1855/6 season by EIC Director Sir James Weir Hogg, Bart.
Edward was certified as qualified for admission to the HEIC service on the 4th of
December, 1855. He passed the Military Committee at East India House on the 12th of
December and embarked for India by the “overland” route on the 4th of January, 1856,
and was commissioned an Ensign the same day.
Ensign Codrington arrived at Calcutta on the 26th of February, 1856. Ordered to do
duty with the 11th Bengal Native Infantry, he joined the regiment at Allahabad on the
28th of March, 1856. He was subsequently posted to the 57th Bengal Native Infantry
in April of 1856 at Ferozepore, a city on the Sutlej River in the Punjab which had the
largest arsenal in Upper India.
On the 10th of May, 1857, the troopers of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry and the sepoys
of the 20th Bengal Native Infantry, which were then stationed at the large military
cantonment at Meerut in Northern India, broke into open revolt against their officers,
starting what was to become the great Indian Mutiny.
The mutiny soon spread to most of the other cantonments in the Bengal Presidency. Ferozepore was no different, and three
days later, on the 13th of May, the native troops, lead by the 45th B.N.I., broke into open Mutiny and attempted to seize
the large arsenal but fortunately, H.M. 61st Regiment was able to hold the arsenal against the attack. The sepoys of the
57th BNI, Ensign Codrington’s regiment, with only a few exceptions, did not participate in the attack on the arsenal.
The following morning a decision was made to blow up the arsenal in order to keep it from falling into the hands of the
mutineers. Ensign Codrington’s regiment, the 57th Bengal Native Infantry, was then paraded and disarmed. Three hundred
of the native troopers immediately deserted and a decision was made on the spot to disband the regiment. The remaining
native soldiers of the regiment were sent home and the number of the regiment was effaced from the Bengal Army List.
His regiment no longer in existence, Ensign Codrington was ordered to assist in superintending the repairs to the fort
at Ferozepore. He was appointed Officiating Deputy Commissary of Ordnance at the Ferozepore Arsenal on the 20th of
June, serving in that capacity until the 19th of September, 1857. No doubt anxious for active duty in the ongoing conflict,
Ensign Codrington was probably quite pleased when in September he was promoted to Lieutenant and ordered to do duty
with the newly-raised 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry, then commonly referred to as Wale’s Horse after its commander (later
to be known as the 11th Bengal Cavalry or Probyn’s Horse).
In his own words, Lieutenant Codrington’s war services during the Indian Mutiny were as follows:
Services in the Field
“Served in the Campaign of 1857-58-59 in Hindustan with the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry.”
“Present during the occupation of the entrenched position at the “Allum Bagh”, in the vicinity of Lucknow, by the force
under Sir J. Outram from 16 January 1858 to 10 March 1858 - During which (was) present at the following-
Repulse of three separate attacks on 16 January.
Affair of 15 February.
Repulse of night attack on 16 February.
Repulse of attack on 17 February.
Repulse of attack on 21 February.
Repulse of night attack on 25 February.
Affair of the 9th March.
Present with the Brigade under Brigadier General Campbell, forming part of Lord Clyde’s army, at the siege and capture
of Lucknow in March 1858, including the affairs of the 19th and 21st March in the vicinity of the Moosa Bagh –
Present with the Moveable Column under Sir Hope Grant during the subsequent operations in Oudh, including the actions
of “Baree” (13th April 1858) and “Sirsee” (12th May 1858).”
The Alum Bagh was a large building in the outskirts of Lucknow. After evacuating the Residency at Lucknow in November
of 1857, Sir Colin Campbell, knowing he could not hold the city against the rebels with the small force he then had, left Sir
James Outram with a force of 4000 men to hold the Alumbagh while Campbell retired to Cawnpore.
Although attacked on almost a daily basis, the force holding the Alumbagh defended it against a major attack on the 25th
of February, 1858, when the rebels made a last ditch effort to seize the position before Sir Colin’s column could return
for the final reduction of the city. The attacking rebel forces included twenty-four regiments of infantry and 1,000
cavalry troopers. A desperate battle ensued in which the cavalry, including the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry, played a
decisive role in the British victory.
Sir Colin’s column returned to the Alumbagh on the 1st of March 1858, and operations against the city of Lucknow
began without delay. On the 6th of March, the forces under General Outram were ordered to cross the River Gumti
and to engage the defending rebel army on the 9th of March. After intense fighting, Outram’s forces ultimately succeeded
in enfilading the enemy’s works, rendering the rebel’s first line of defense untenable which they quickly abandoned.
Wale’s Horse was actively involved in this engagement, placing Lieutenant Codrington in the thick of the fighting for the
final capture of the city of Lucknow.
Lieutenant Codrington continued to serve with the 1st Sikh Cavalry in the various actions the regiment was involved in
during the final capture of the city, including the attack on the Musabagh on the 19th of March, a palace defended by an
estimated eight to nine thousand rebels.
After the fall of Lucknow, the 1st Sikh Cavalry joined Sir Colin Campbell’s forces in attempting to prevent the rebels
from fleeing from the captured city. On the 21st of March, the cavalry force caught up with some of the fleeing rebels.
Captain Wales, the commander of the Regiment, was shot dead and two other officers of the regiment wounded. While the
engagement was ultimately a victory against the rebels, it was a victory won at a high cost. (For some reason, numerous
sources incorrectly report the date of Captain Wales’ death as the 1st of March, 1858.)
The 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry were ordered to serve with the forces under the command of Sir Hope Grant and for more
than a year participated in the campaign to clear Oude and then Rohilkund of rebel forces. Several major battles were
fought, including the action at the village of Baree (or Bari) in which the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry charged an attacking
body of rebel cavalry which was attempting to outflank the column, engaging in desperate hand-to-hand combat with a
superior force. With support finally coming to their aid with the effect of driving off the rebel cavalry, the charge by
the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry alerted Hope Grant’s force to the presence of the main rebel force and ruined the surprise
flank attack planned by the rebel leader, the Fyzabad Moulvi. The disheartened rebels then abandoned their strong
defensive position near Baree without the necessity of the attack which had been planned by Sir Hope Grant. The cavalry
charge by the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry thus had an effect far beyond a relatively small encounter with the rebel cavalry,
saving the column from a surprise flank attack and from having to launch a frontal attack against a heavily fortified rebel
position. Lieutenant Codrington’s Statement of Services places him with the Regiment at the battle of Baree.
Hope Grant’s forces, reinforced by the Nepalese contingent under Maharaja Jung Bahadur, then moved southward to protect
the Cawnpore-Lucknow Road from the rebels. After clearing the area, the column returned to Jellalabad, where in
May, the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry was joined by its new commander, the famed cavalry commander Major Dighton
Probyn. Lieutenant Codrington continued to serve with the Regiment throughout the remainder of Sir Hope Grant’s
campaign, a campaign which finally devolved into what can best be described as mopping up operations which coincided
with the official end of the Mutiny.
Following the end of the Mutiny, when preparations were being made for the issuance of a medal to be issued for service
during the Mutiny, it appeared to be a foregone conclusion that an “Alumbagh” clasp would be authorized for men who
served there under General Outram. Many of the original Mutiny medal rolls complied for different regiments specifically
recorded where or not members of the regiment had been present at the Alumbagh in anticipation of the issuance of such
a clasp. However, an Alumbagh clasp was not to be, and for his services during the Indian Mutiny, Lieutenant Codrington
received the Indian Mutiny medal with the clasp for Lucknow, officially impressed to him as a Lieutenant in the 1st Sikh
Irregular Cavalry. Only 13 European Officers received the Indian Mutiny medal named to the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry.
Following the conclusion of the Mutiny, Lieutenant Codrington was ordered to do duty with the 4th Sikh Infantry, part of
the famed Punjab Irregular Force. He joined that regiment at Abbottabad on the 15th of April, 1859, and on the 22nd of
September was appointed Officiating Adjutant.
In December of 1859, still serving with the 4th Sikh Infantry, Lieutenant Codrington served with the Kurrum Field Force
in the expedition against the Kabul Khel Waziris. The campaign was a punitive expedition mounted in response to the brutal
murder of Captain Meecham of the No.3 Punjab Light Field Battery by an unknown group of Waziris, a Pashtun tribe living
on the North West Frontier. Lieutenant Codrington was present with the 4th Sikh Infantry in the fighting in the range of
hills known as the “Maidani” in which the 4th Sikhs and the Corps of Guides bore the brunt of the heaviest fighting of the
campaign. For his participation in the campaign, Codrington received his second campaign medal, the India General Service
Medal 1854-1895, with clasp for the North West Frontier. (Unfortunately, the location of this medal is unknown.)
On the 28th of February, 1860, Lieutenant Codrington, along with several other officers of the 4th Sikh Infantry,
transferred to the Hazara Goorkha Battalion, another regiment of the Punjab Frontier Force. Lieutenant was admitted to
the Bengal Staff Corps in November of 1861, the same year his regiment was re-designated the 5th Goorkha Regiment. In
April of 1862, Lieutenant Codrington was appointed Adjutant of the Regiment.
From the 19th of October to the 24th of December 1863, Lieutenant Codrington served with 5th Goorkha Regiment in the
First Brigade of the Eusufzai Field Force during the occupation of the Umbeyla Pass. Umbeyla was the fiercest of all the
campaigns which qualified for the IGS 1854 medal and following the conclusion of the hostilities, for a considerable period
of time there was strong sentiment that a separate medal should be issued to those who had taken part in such hard
fighting , rather than a mere clasp,. However, almost six years after the end of the fighting, a clasp to the IGS 1854
medal was issued for the campaign.
In October of 1863, a Field Force under the command of Major-General Sir Neville Chamberlain was sent to destroy a
“nest” of seditious Hindostani religious fanatics on the Northwest Frontier of India. These fanatics had been the subject
of several earlier punitive actions and, having greatly expanded their sphere of influence, had regrouped with their
followers at Malka, where they had begun making raids on neighboring villages and trade caravans traveling through the area.
For Chamberlain’s column to reach the rebellious tribesmen’s stronghold at Malka, it was necessary for it to travel through
one of two main passes through the high mountain range. Major-General Chamberlain choose what he was convinced would be
the quickest route, through the Umbeyla Pass, believing that the Bunerwals (a tribe of the Yusafzais Pathans) living there
would remain neutral, an assumption that was to prove very costly.
The column advanced into the Umbeyla Pass on the 19th of October and almost immediately became bogged down in heavy
fighting with the local tribesmen. It soon became apparent that it was going to be necessary for the column to establish a
base camp within the Pass; however, the geography did not provide any area ideal for a defensive position. Although there
was some low, relatively flat ground in the center of the Pass, it was vulnerable to rifle fire from two rocky peaks
approximately 1,000 feet higher than the camp, one on either side of the Pass. The one on the left was given the name the
Eagle’s Nest (or Eagle’s Rest in some accounts) and the slightly higher one on the right with a pointed summit was dubbed
The key to controlling the Pass was Crag Piquet, which was to be the site of the fiercest fighting of the entire campaign and
a geographical feature that was to become a household name in England for decades to come. Three times “The Crag” was
to change hands, with heavy casualties being sustained on both sides on each occasion, and with two Victoria Crosses being
awarded for outstanding gallantry by two young British officers on this relatively tiny rocky outcropping.
Lieutenant Codrington was present with the 5th Goorkhas during the entire bloody episode in the Umbeyla Pass. The 5th
Goorkha Regiment played an important part during the October and November, but it was on the 20th of November, after
the Crag had been retaken by the tribesman for the third and final time that the 5th Goorkha Regiment would be engaged in
its toughest fighting of the campaign. The regimental history picks up the story:
“…On November 20th, the Crag piquet was lost for the third time, and the entire regiment played a prominent part in
its recapture. It had been held by 200 men, half of them provided by the 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers. Beginning their
effort at 9 a.m. and continuing until 3 p.m. the tribesmen had assailed the piquet, but in vain. Then, as the result,
apparently, of some deplorable misunderstanding, the north side of the Crag was left without defenders, and despite
the utmost endeavours of the rest of the garrison the enemy gained possession. From its position in relation to the
new camp it had assumed even greater importance than before. General Chambelain at once ordered up the 71st
Highland Light Infantry and the 5th Gurkhas, arranged for artillery covering fire, added the 5th Punjab Infantry to
the strength of the attacking column, and himself lead the way towards the hill.
Major Campbell was wounded while the Regiment was formed up preparatory to advancing, and Captain Close being on
piquet duty elsewhere, it fell to Lieutenant Codrington to command on this occasion. The Highlanders took the direct
line, the 5th Gurkhas and 5th Punjab Infantry moved round the exposed flank, and the enemy were routed. The General
himself was wounded during the advance, but remained with the attackers until the summit was won. The casualties in
the Regiment numbered three killed and nine wounded.”
Having retaken the Crag, it was determined to continue the advance against the tribesmen. The regimental history
General Garvock therefore decided on a general advance, choosing as successive objectives the village of Lalu beyond
the conical hill, Ambela Village near the head of the Chamla Valley on the left bank of the stream, and the pass into
Buner. Reinforcements had continued to arrive from India, with the result that after leaving a garrison of three
thousand for the camp he was still in a position to dispose of a force of nearly five thousand for his offensive. These
he divided into two columns, the right under Colonel Turner, the left under Colonel Wilde. The Regiment formed part
of the left column, and with it played a very distinguished part.
On the morning of December 15th the advance began. Turner’s column moved off in the direction of Lalu, but, its
further progress checked by large bodies of the enemy to its left front in occupation of the conical hill which had been
the scene of the action of October 25th, it secured the ridges to the south and east of that feature and awaited the
arrival of the left column. The Regiment leading, Wilde’s force prepared to attack the enemy’s formidable position.
When it arrived on the alignment of the right column a general assault was launched, both columns advancing with great
dash and sending the enemy flying into the valley beyond. The conical hill itself and the ground to the west of it fell
to Wilde’s men. There they consolidated, what time Turner went forward and destroyed Lalu. On the left the enemy
came again, giving the Regiment more than one fine chance of showing its qualities of speed and initiative. Three times
the 5th Gurkhas charged, inflicting heavy loss on the enemy and giving him no opportunity to remove his dead and
wounded. So swift and unexpected was the Regiment’s action on one of these occasions that they captured one of the
tribesmen’s jealously guarded standards…”
Lieutenant Codrington was mentioned “for forwardness in action on the 15th of December” in the despatch of Lt-Colonel
A.Wilde. His name was also brought to notice of the Punjab Government by the Commander-in-Chief for services at the
Umbeyla Pass. For his services during the campaign, Lieutenant Codrington received the Umbeyla clasp, his second, to his
India General Service Medal.
Lieutenant Codrington was appointed Officiating Second-in-Command of the 5th Goorkha Regiment in December of 1863,
and a Wing Officer on the 22nd of February, 1864. He was appointed Officiating Staff Officer, Punjab Frontier Force,
on the 13th of October 1865, until March of 1866. Codrington was promoted in Captain on the 4th of January 1868.
In 1868, Captain Codrington served with 5th Goorkha Regiment in the Agrore Valley (Hazara) in the force under Colonel
Rothney. He commanded four companies of the Regiment in the affair of the 12th of August, 1868, when the enemy were
driven out of the valley.
Captain Codrington also served with 5th Goorkha Regiment in the 1st Brigade Hazara Field Force under Major General
A. T. Wilde, C.B., C.S.I., during the operations on the Black Mountain in October 1868. He commanded the Regiment in
this campaign from the 8th until the 20th of October.
Captain Codrington served as Staff Officer to a detachment of troops in Agrore from the 30th of September, 1869, to
January, 1870. He officiated as Second-in-Command of the Regiment from the 19th of November, 1869, till the 5th of
Captain Codrington was ordered to do duty with, and appointed Second-in-Command of, the 2nd Punjab Infantry on the
8th of July, 1872. He was promoted Major on the 4th of January, 1876.
Following the outbreak of the 2nd Afghan War, Major Codrington served with the 2nd Punjab Infantry in the 1st Brigade
under General F. S. Roberts. The 1st Brigade crossed the Kuram River into Afghanistan on the 21st of November, 1878.
The 2nd Punjab Infantry served in Afghanistan from November, 1878, until April of 1879, including the attack on the
Peiwar Kotal on the 1st of December, 1878, and the subsequent picquet of the Peiwar Kotal over the extremely harsh
Afghan winter. The Regiment was ultimately ordered back to India by the Medical Committee in April of 1879, mainly
due to the effect of the Afghan winter on the men of the regiment. For his services in the Afghan campaign, Major
Codrington received the 2nd Afghan War medal with clasp for the Peiwar Kotal. (The location of this medal is also
Edward Codrington was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel on the 4th of January, 1882. He was furloughed to England on
medical certificate for one year in March of 1883, and while still in England, on the 1st of April, 1883, Codrington was
appointed Commandant of the 2nd Punjab Infantry. However, he was never to return to India and he retired on the
4th of January, 1885. As was customary, Codrington was promoted full Colonel the same day.
Colonel Edward Christian Codrington died on the 1st of July, 1888, at Exmouth, England. He was fifty years old.
Colonel Codrington’s early death was probably in no small part due to his decades of arduous campaigning in the Indian
sub-continent. His complete medal entitlement consisted of the Indian Mutiny medal with clasp for Lucknow, the India
General Service medal with clasps for Umbeyla and the North West Frontier, and the 2nd Afghan War medal with clasp
for Peiwar Kotal.
India Office Records: L/MIL/10/85 no. 195 & 94 no.125, Bengal Services; L/MIL/9/236 no. 47, Cadet Papers.
Government of India, General Order 76, 29 January 1864.
E.L. Maxwell, A History of the XI King Edward’s Own Lancers, (1914).
|Above:Codrington pictured above in group photo of officers of the 5th Goorkha Regiment. He is in the front row on the right.|
Below:An outdoor picture of the officers of the 5th Gurkha Rifles. Codrington is seated 2nd on the right.
Edward Christopher Codrington
Late 2nd Punjab Infantry
Bengal Staff Corps
OB July 1st 1888 AT 51
AND SO AFTER HE HAS PATIENTLY
ENDURED HE OBTAINED THE PROMISE
ONLY SON OF THE LATE
CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER CODRINGTON
COMMANDANT OF THE GURKHA REGT
OF SHAH SUJAN’S CONTINGENT
WHO WAS MORTALLY WOUNDED
NOV 5TH 1841
|Colonel Edward Codrington is buried|
in what is called
St. Margaret and St. Andrew
Special thanks to Paul Hellier who
took the photos of the Headstone.
The passage of time has made the inscription
a little difficult to read and it is set out below.