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View Full Version : Batman or Orderly during the Sepoy Rebellion, 1857?



Sapphire135
10-07-2016, 02:41 AM
Hi everyone. I have a story set in 1857 which features a Colonel in the British Indian Army. Up until now, I've referred to another character in the novel as having been the hero's batman during the war. However, I've just seen some conflicting information that makes me think the term batman might be outdated and that, instead, the soldiers assigned to officers as servants were called orderlies. Does anyone know anything more about this? Also, instead of referring to it as a war, should I say that the character had been his batman or orderly during the uprising? I'm not confident about how those back on the British home front would have addressed this.

King Neptune
10-07-2016, 05:21 AM
I'd have to look it up, but I believe the Sepoy Rebellion was called something like that in th epopular press and by people generally, so I would call it the rebellion or maybe revolt.

blacbird
10-07-2016, 05:29 AM
I don't know about it in India, but the term "batman" was still in use in World War I. There was a famous popular song called "I was Kaiser Bill's Batman" that was reprised into a minor pop hit in the 1960s by a guy named Whistling Jack Smith, I believe. And in the famous satirical novel about WWI, The Good Soldier Svejk, by Czech writer Jaroslav Hasek, the eponymous hero is a batman.

caw

Marlys
10-07-2016, 06:10 AM
I'd check 19th-century books and newspapers for references.

Calder
10-07-2016, 01:03 PM
In the nineteenth century the terms'orderly' and 'batman' could be interchangeable, but, to be more accurate, a batman was purely an officer's personal servant, while an orderly could be used for more 'military' purposes - e.g. carrying messages / orders, doing clerical work for officer(s) etc. The Sepoy Rebellion was, I believe, most commonly referred to as either 'the Uprising' or 'the Rebellion,' not 'the Sepoy War.'

WeaselFire
10-07-2016, 09:44 PM
... soldiers assigned to officers as servants were called orderlies.

This. In general, a "batman" was a personal servant, rarely in the military and didn't perform military functions. Soldiers assigned as personal assistants were orderlies. In the mid-1800's, orderlies often performed personal chores for the officers, as a servant would, but could be called to arms if needed, or perform other military functions.

Though in reality, it's what your story needs that counts. And you could call him by either name and the story would likely work fine.

Jeff

blacbird
10-07-2016, 09:49 PM
Now that I think about it, Robin was Batman's batman, wasn't he?

caw

waylander
10-07-2016, 11:45 PM
Have a look at either 'Flashman' or 'Flashman in the Great Game'. Both d#mn good reads.

King Neptune
10-08-2016, 12:00 AM
Have a look at either 'Flashman' or 'Flashman in the Great Game'. Both d#mn good reads.

As I recall it, Flashman, disguised as an Afghan, was an orderly, rather than a batman, but Fraser may have also used another term sometimes.

waylander
10-08-2016, 12:03 AM
I believe you are correct, sir.

Sapphire135
10-08-2016, 03:48 AM
I'd have to look it up, but I believe the Sepoy Rebellion was called something like that in th epopular press and by people generally, so I would call it the rebellion or maybe revolt.

Thanks for the advice!

- - - Updated - - -


In the nineteenth century the terms'orderly' and 'batman' could be interchangeable, but, to be more accurate, a batman was purely an officer's personal servant, while an orderly could be used for more 'military' purposes - e.g. carrying messages / orders, doing clerical work for officer(s) etc. The Sepoy Rebellion was, I believe, most commonly referred to as either 'the Uprising' or 'the Rebellion,' not 'the Sepoy War.'

Thanks so much for this. It was this distinction that I didn't fully understand, so your response is really helpful.

Sapphire135
10-08-2016, 03:50 AM
This. In general, a "batman" was a personal servant, rarely in the military and didn't perform military functions. Soldiers assigned as personal assistants were orderlies. In the mid-1800's, orderlies often performed personal chores for the officers, as a servant would, but could be called to arms if needed, or perform other military functions.

Though in reality, it's what your story needs that counts. And you could call him by either name and the story would likely work fine.

Jeff

Thanks Jeff! I think you are right about either one working fine--at least, I think they will in the context I am using the word.

Sapphire135
10-08-2016, 03:52 AM
Thanks for the replies, advice, and information everyone! It has been tremendously helpful.

WeaselFire
10-11-2016, 03:40 AM
Now that I think about it, Robin was Batman's batman, wasn't he?

Nope. Alfred was. )

Jeff

blacbird
10-11-2016, 08:30 AM
Nope. Alfred was. )

Jeff

Ah! Good point. How about "lackey"? There's another good term.

caw