Interesting insights are offered by a reading of the ‘Secret Letters’ that formed a part of the ‘Papers regarding the Administration of the Marquiz of Hastings in India’ that were tabled at a General Court of the ‘United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies’ on 3rd March 1824.
A secret letter by Mr. Rutherford dated 27 Dec 1814 describes in detail the information gathered about the strength of the defences at Morni Fort that was under Gurkha occupation. A similar letter by Captain Hearsey similarly desribes the vulnerability of the hill forts, including the Morni Fort. A secret letter from Lord Moira dated 1st June 1815 describes the ‘Agreement entered into between Kajee Ummer Sing Thapa and Major-General Ochterlony, on 15th May 1815. Morni Fort and all forts between Jamuna and Satluj, that were under Gurkha occupation were to be evacuated and be handed over to the British. The letters are reproduced below:
|Secret Letter from Capt. Hearsey, 27 Dec. 1814:“Mornee, Tucks-aul, and all the hill-forts, are built on the summits of the hills: they are built of slabs of stone without any cement, and are not above thirty paces square, above twelve feet high, and the stockade which surrounds them is easily destroyed. These forts, in general, have no springs or tanks of water within them, but the garrison is obliged to fetch it from some distance below. By cutting off this necessary article of life the goorkas got possession of them. I presume, a shell from a four and a half inch howitzer would cause the immediate evacuation of them. They can easily be approached by infantry under cover to within less than musket-shot. The garrison, which seldom exceeds one hundred and fifty men, are ill-supplied with stores or ammunition.”|
|Secret Letter from Mr. Rutherfurd, 27 Dec. 1814“The following notices of Forts, &c. have been lately obtained from Individuals employed by me to procure information: Forts of Dhornee and Mornee- The first of these is stated to be about four coss from Nahun to the south-west, in the first range of hills, but seven months ago was in ruins. The latter is in good repair and occupied. Its gateway is to the east. Its walls are of stone and rise about fifteen feet high to the east, north, and west; but to the south it is raised to a considerable height, in order to form apartments for the accommodation of the Rajah of Sirmoor, who used to reside here, and after his expulsion from Nahun defended himself in it for some time. It is provided with one gun. Water is brought from a spring about a coss off, and kept in a reservoir. There are two roads to it from the plains, which wind round to the right and left, and advance along the hills on a level with the fort.”|
|Secret Letter from Lord Moira, 1 June 1815
‘Agreement entered into between Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa and Major-General Ochterlony, on the 15th May, 1815
In consideration of the high rank and character of Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa, and of the skill, bravery, and fidelity with which he has defended the country committed to his charge, it is agreed :
1. That Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa, with the troops now in Raujgurh, shall march out and retain their arms and accoutrements, the colours of their respective corps, two guns and all private property, which shall be duly respected and preserved, and every attention and delicacy observed in respect to the zenana of the Kajee, and every person under his authority.
2. In consideration, also of the gallant conduct of Kajee Runjore SingThappa, it is agreed that he shall likewise march out of the fort of Jeytuck with two hundred men, who are to retain their arms, colours and one gun, with the Bharadars (chief officers) and their followers, about three hundred more in number, unarmed, with his own and their private property, which shall be respected, and the sanctity of the Zenana preserved.
3. Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa and Kajee Runjore Sing Thappa, with their property and followers, are at liberty to proceed by the route of Thaneisur, Hurdwar, and Nujeebabad, to join the troops eastward of the river Sarjoo, or by whichever route they determine to proceed to that destination. Conveyance shall be provided for the transportation of their property to the confines of the Nepaul territory.
4. Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa and Kajee Runjore Sing Thappa, shall be at liberty to meet wherever they please.
5. All the troops, in the service of Nepaul, with the exception of those granted to the personal honour of the Kajees, Ummer Sing and Ranjore Sing, will be at liberty to enter into the service of the British Government, if it is agreeable to themselves and the British Government choose to accept their services, and those who are not employed will be maintained on a specific allowance by the British Government, till peace is concluded between the two States.
6. Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa, on his part, agrees to leave the fort of Malown, whenever bearers and other conveyance are prepared for his private property.
7. Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa also agrees to send immediate orders for the evacuation and delivery, to persons properly authorized, of the forts of Bhylee (Irkee), Subbatoo, Mornee, Jeytuck, Juggutgurh, Rowsheen, and all other forts and fortresses now held by the Nepaul troops between the Jumna and Sutleje rivers. The garrisons of all which forts, strong holds &e. shall enjoy their private property unmolested, and the arms and warlike stores in each shall be left in deposit, for the future decision of the Right Honourable the Governor-General; with exception to such among them as are related to Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa by kindred, about eighty-three men, who shall be at liberty to retain their arms and accoutrements.
8. Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa also agrees to send immediate orders to Kajee Bukhtour Sing for the evacuation of the territory of Ghurwall, to deliver over the forts, &c, in that district to the officers of the British Government, and to proceed to Nepaul by the Kamaon route, with their garrisons, all public and property including warlike stores, accompanied by a Chuprassie with a pass, on the part of the British Government.
Separate Article – Kajee Ummer Sing Thappa wishes it to be understood, that he shall give immediate orders for the instant surrender of the distant forts, in the hope that it may lead to an early renewal of the relations of amity which have subsisted between the two states for these sixty years, and by the advice of Bum Sah and the Baradars of Kamaon.’
Filed in: History of Morni