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Indian Mutiny 1857 - Captain Gough winning the Victoria Cross
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Indian Mutiny 1857 - Captain Gough winning the Victoria Cross

Measurements: Overall: 33.5cm (13in) x 38.5cm (15in)



Oil sketch on board, after Louis William Desanges depicting Captain Charles Gough performing one of the four acts of valour for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The depicted particular incident  took place on 15 August 1857, and involved saving the life of his brother Hugh Henry Gough at the village of Khurkowdah near Rhotuck where a party of rebels had taken refuge in a dwelling house. Led by Hodson of Hodson’s Horse, the Gough brothers were among the small party that flushed out and slew the mutineers. Hugh Gough recalled the episode in his memoirs:

An episode occurred during this little fight which I must relate with a feeling of deepest gratitude to the gallantry of my brother Charles, who fortunately was so near at hand.  When the enemy made their desperate rush I was rather in the forefront of the party awaiting them, and in the melee which took place I was forced backwards, and, suddenly making a false step from the roof on to a lower roof about a foot down, fell or was forced on my knees.  While thus half falling, one man made a cut at me with his heavy sword, which cut right down my riding boot.  Another was aiming a better-directed blow, when my brother, seeing my danger, rushed forward and attacked the two, killing both, and thus undoubtedly saved my life.  As it was, the hilt of my sword was forced into my wrist by a sword-cut, inflicting a slight wound.

Having disposed of our enemy in this short but rather smart little skirmish on the top of a house - a kind of fighting I have since carefully avoided - we returned to our bivouac; and nothing further occurred except the trial by a drum-head court-martial of the native officer and other prisoners.  They were sentenced to be shot under Hodson's orders.  Neither I nor my brother took part in  these proceedings, as I was lying down on a charpoy (native bed), feeling rather faint and exhausted and my brother was sitting by me.  There has been considerable condemnation of Hodson for his action towards this native officer; but, as there was no doubt of his disloyalty, rendered more open and declared by the resistance of his men, who were all of his own regiment, Hodson was quite justified in his action, and the native officer and those with him fully deserved their fate.

The original painting by the British artist Louis Desanges is one of a series of fifty-five depicting Victoria Cross actions executed between 1859 and 1862, and displayed at the Crystal Palace during the 1860s and 1870s.