Heights of Truckee


Daniel Cunliffe's painting of the action at Truckee is inaccurate on many points. There is an officer in forge cap and shell jacket behind the infantrymen, directing operations, but the 16-man section was led by Sergeant Powers. The men are dressed in parade uniforms with shakos; this smartness would have been difficult to maintain on the long camel-ride to Baluchistan and subsequent climb to the enemy stronghold. None of the men are wearing medals although they are mentioned in all the reports. The Baluchi robbers have chosen a bad place for their hideout; it is overlooked by a grassy slope which seems to be an easy place to haul artillery. The hillmen have probably been on the hill top for several months but have not built proper defences for themselves. The men of the 13th look very calm in the face of riflemen firing from point-blank range. In fact there is little to indicate the sense of a desperate struggle that must have taken place on the heights. For instance, Private Anthony Burke shot one Baluchi, bayoneted another and broke his musket on the head of a third. Private John Maloney bayoneted two of the enemy, saved Burke's life and that of another man, and was severely wounded.


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by Stephen Luscombe