The superb India Gwalior Campaign 1843, Second Sikh War Punjab Campaign, and Indian Mutiny group awarded to General J.R. McMullin, Bengal Staff Corps, Indian Army, formerly Honourable East Company Forces, who as a Lieutenant and Adjutant with the 8th Irregular Cavalry during the Gwalior Campaign was present in action at the Battle of Punniar on 29th December 1843. The irregular cavalry appealed to men of free spirit and attracted British officers of like mind. Subsequently in command of the 3rd Company of Pioneers during the Punjab campaign, he was engaged in the action of Saroojhkoond, the siege and capture of Mooltan from 7th September 1848 to 22nd January 1849, and the Battle of Goojerat on 21st February 1849. In the aftermath of Goojerat, he operated with his Company in conjunction with the operations of the 4th Troop 1st Brigade Horse Artillery, and also led his company of pioneers to effect the demolition of the principal batteries of the enemy. McMullin served as a Captain with the 2nd Sikh Police Corps during the Indian Mutiny, his unit being extremely rare to find on a medal, and was present at the capture of Calpes, and in the operations in the Goruckpore district. He was at some stage the commandant of the 1st Bengal Native Infantry, and was promoted to full General in 1889.
Group of 3: Punniar Star 1843, retaining hook removed and fitted with modified silver wire suspension; (LTT: J.R. McMULLIN ADJTT: 8TH: IRREGULAR CAVY:); Punjab Medal 1848-1849, 2 Clasps: Goojerat, Mooltan, naming officially corrected and engraved in correct Indian running script of the period; (LIEUT. J.R. McMULLIN SAP & PIONEIR); Indian Mutiny Medal 1857-1859, no clasp; (CAPTAIN J.R. McMULLIN COMG 2ND: SIKH POLICE CORPS), this fitted with a period tailor made ‘Central India’ clasp, the naming with first two letters of rank obscured by suspension pin as issued. All three are fitted with Victorian pronged brooch buckles.
Condition: second with naming officially corrected as issued, light contact wear, Good Very Fine.
Provenance: purchased directly from the family by the London Medal Company.
John Robert McMullin was born on 9th July 1817 in Fort William, Calcutta, India, the son of Robert and Caroline McMullin. Commissioned into the Honourable East India Company Forces as an Ensign on 1st March 1838. McMullin married Julia van Sandau at The Cathedral, Calcutta on 16th January 1839, with whom he would go on to have eight children. Promoted to Lieutenant on 7th July 1841, McMullin first saw active service as a Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 8th Irregular Cavalry during the Gwalior Campaign and present in action at the Battle of Punniar on 29th December 1843.
The Irregular Cavalry units of the Bengal Army were called at first Local Horse, and were raised by Europeans from volunteers who owned their own horse and equipment and were prepared to provide for themselves in the field. This was called the sillidar system. Sometimes a local leader called a sirdar would bring a whole group of horsemen and act as their officer within the regiment. The firearms and ammunition would be provided by the regiment. In the early days, uniform were not very military but the colour of the alkalak or kurta was regulated as was the colour of the turban and kummerbund to make members of each regiment recognisable, especially necessary in the heat of battle. The difference between regular and irregular cavalry was very obvious. There was much stricter discipline in the regular cavalry and the standard of intelligence generally lower. The irregular cavalry appealed to men of free spirit and attracted British officers of like mind.
At Punniar, the men of the 8th Irregular Cavalry, consisting of two squadrons under Captain Christie, formed part of the force under Brigadier Stubbs who was ordered by Major General John Grey, Commanding the left wing of the army of Gwalior, to take the Sippree Contingent under his command, and to move out of his camp near Punniar in the evening, in order to occupy the heights at the scene of the action, in order to enable Grey to withdraw his forces that had been engaged with the enemy for two hours some four miles from camp, after a fatiguing march of sixteen miles. The 8th Irregular Cavalry together with the men of the Sappers and Miners, had only joined up with the main force that morning of the battle. This force under Brigadier Stubbs was then fired upon by the enemy, however a few shots were fired from the contingent artillery, which silenced the enemy’s only gun, and enable Captain Christie and the 8th Irregular Cavalry to follow the broken enemy.
McMullin was next present in action during the Punjab Campaign in the Second Sikh War of 1848 to 1849, and saw action as a Lieutenant in command of the 3rd Company of Pioneers, being engaged in the action of Saroojhkoond, the siege and capture of Mooltan from 7th September 1848 to 22nd January 1849, and the Battle of Goojerat on 21st February 1849, and the subsequent pursuit and surrender of the Sikh army.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Goojerat, McMullin whose company had been held in reserve during the battle, is then noted as having led his company of pioneers to effect the demolition of the principal batteries of the enemy, he being mentioned favourably in the despatch of 22nd February 1849 written by Major General Whish, Commanding the 1st Infantry Division of the Army of the Punjab, and written for the attention of the Adjutant General. Whish wrote that: ‘Lieutenant McMullin and his Company of Pioneers deserve much credit, having continued with the 4th Troop 1st Brigade Horse Artillery, and rendered useful service whenever called upon.
McMullin was awarded the rank of Brevet Captain on 1st March 1853, and promoted to Captain on 15th November 1853, and as a Captain with the 2nd Sikh Police Corps, a very small unit that featured in the period, McMullin ultimately saw service during the Indian Mutiny, and was present at the capture of Calpes, and in the operations in the Goruckpore district. Despite the claim to his being entitled to the clasp to the Indian Mutiny Medal in his Obituary in 1900, it would appear from all accounts that he is only entitled to the medal without clasp.
Promoted to Major on 18th February 1863, and having been transitioned into the newly formed Indian Army in the aftermath of the Mutiny, he found himself with the Bengal Staff Corps was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 1st March 1864, and a some stage commanded the 1st Bengal Native Infantry, being promoted to Brevet Colonel on 1st March 1869. Having been promoted to Major General, McMullin was then promoted to Lieutenant General and Unemployed Supernumerary List on 7th September 1884. He was ultimately promoted to General on the Retired List in 1889, and died in Upper Norwood, London, on 17th July 1900, being buried in Upper Norwood All Saint’s Churchyard.