The Heroic Garrison

Written by V.A. Stuart
Review by John R. Vallely

The Indian Mutiny of 1857-1858 is a watershed event in the history of British India. A rebellion by regiments of the British-officered units of the East India Company Army resulted in a brief, but tumultuous, period of desperate fighting between elements of the Indian population and small British forces. The British victory in the face of overwhelming odds remains a staple of Imperial legend. V. A. Stuart has told the story of the Mutiny in a series first published more than thirty years ago. Her Cannons of Lucknow and Heroic Garrison are the fourth and fifth in the series. While Colonel Alex Sheridan occupies center stage, the Mutiny’s real-life characters (Henry Havelock, John Lawrence, Colin Campbell, Nana Sahib, James Neill, and James Outram, among others) are critical to the actions covered. Stuart’s topic is war and the scenes are as blood-drenched as it is possible to find. She pays such strict attention to the facts of the campaigns to retake Cawnpore and relieve Lucknow that even the most critical military historians will applaud her research. The writing is crisp and pays scant attention to subplots. She charges straight on to the action, and readers who enjoy a whiff of gunpowder will be grateful.