Indian Rebellion of 1857

Indian Rebellion of 1857

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The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny
Mutiny
Mutiny is a conspiracy among members of a group of similarly situated individuals to openly oppose, change or overthrow an authority to which they are subject...

 of sepoy
Sepoy
A sepoy was formerly the designation given to an Indian soldier in the service of a European power. In the modern Indian Army, Pakistan Army and Bangladesh Army it remains in use for the rank of private soldier.-Etymology and Historical usage:...

s of the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

's army on 10 May 1857, in the town of Meerut, and soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain
Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests
The Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests is a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of northern India. It lies on the alluvial plain of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, with an area of , covering most of the state of Uttar Pradesh and adjacent portions of Uttarakhand, Haryana, Madhya...

 and central India, with the major hostilities confined to present-day Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

, Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

, northern Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh , often called the Heart of India, is a state in central India. Its capital is Bhopal and Indore is the largest city....

, and the Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 region. The rebellion posed a considerable threat to Company power in that region, and it was contained only with the fall of Gwalior
Gwalior state
Gwalior State was an Indian kingdom and princely state ruled by the Maratha dynasty. The state took its name from the old town of Gwalior, which, although never the actual capital, was an important place because of its strategic location and the strength of its fort. The state was founded in the...

 on 20 June 1858. The rebellion is also known as the 1857 War of Independence, India's First War of Independence
India's First War of Independence (term)
The First War of Indian Independence is a term that is sometimes used, predominantly in India, to describe the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which has been described variously outside of India as "uprising", "revolt" and "mutiny".- History :...

, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Mutiny, the Revolt of 1857, the Uprising of 1857, the Sepoy Rebellion, and the Sepoy Mutiny.

Other regions of Company-controlled India – such as Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, the Bombay Presidency
Bombay Presidency
The Bombay Presidency was a province of British India. It was established in the 17th century as a trading post for the English East India Company, but later grew to encompass much of western and central India, as well as parts of post-partition Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula.At its greatest...

, and the Madras Presidency
Madras Presidency
The Madras Presidency , officially the Presidency of Fort St. George and also known as Madras Province, was an administrative subdivision of British India...

 – remained largely calm. In Punjab, the Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 princes backed the Company by providing both soldiers and support. The large princely states of Hyderabad
Hyderabad State
-After Indian independence :When India gained independence in 1947 and Pakistan came into existence in 1947, the British left the local rulers of the princely states the choice of whether to join one of the new dominions or to remain independent...

, Mysore
Kingdom of Mysore
The Kingdom of Mysore was a kingdom of southern India, traditionally believed to have been founded in 1399 in the vicinity of the modern city of Mysore. The kingdom, which was ruled by the Wodeyar family, initially served as a vassal state of the Vijayanagara Empire...

, Travancore
Travancore
Kingdom of Travancore was a former Hindu feudal kingdom and Indian Princely State with its capital at Padmanabhapuram or Trivandrum ruled by the Travancore Royal Family. The Kingdom of Travancore comprised most of modern day southern Kerala, Kanyakumari district, and the southernmost parts of...

, and Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, as well as the smaller ones of Rajputana
Rajputana
Rājputāna was the pre-1949 name of the present-day Indian state of Rājasthān, the largest state of the Republic of India in terms of area. George Thomas was the first in 1800 A.D., to term this region as Rajputana...

, did not join the rebellion. In some regions, such as Oudh
Awadh
Awadh , also known in various British historical texts as Oudh or Oude derived from Ayodhya, is a region in the centre of the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh...

, the rebellion took on the attributes of a patriotic revolt against European presence. Rebel leaders, such as the Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi
Rani Lakshmibai
Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi was the queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi, situated in the northern part of India...

, became folk heroes in the nationalist movement in India
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...

 half a century later; however, they themselves "generated no coherent ideology" for a new order. The rebellion led to the dissolution of the East India Company in 1858. It also led the British to reorganise the army, the financial system and the administration in India. India was thereafter directly governed by the crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

 as the new British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

.

East India Company expansion in India



Although the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 had earlier administered the factory areas established for trading purposes, its victory in the Battle of Plassey
Battle of Plassey
The Battle of Plassey , 23 June 1757, was a decisive British East India Company victory over the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies, establishing Company rule in South Asia which expanded over much of the Indies for the next hundred years...

 in 1757 marked the beginning of its firm foothold in Eastern India. The victory was consolidated in 1764 at the Battle of Buxar
Battle of Buxar
The Battle of Buxar was fought on 22 October 1764 between the forces under the command of the British East India Company, and the combined armies of Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal; Shuja-ud-Daula Nawab of Awadh; and Shah Alam II, the Mughal Emperor...

 (in Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

), when the defeated Mughal
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 emperor, Shah Alam II
Shah Alam II
Shah Alam II , also known as Ali Gauhar, was a Mughal emperor of India. A son of Alamgir II, he was exiled to Allahabad in December 1759 by Ghazi-ud-Din, who appointed Shah Jahan III as the emperor. Later, he was nominated as the emperor by Ahmad Shah.Shah Alam II was considered the only and...

, granted the Company the right for "collection of Revenue" in the provinces of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, Bihar, and Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

. The Company soon expanded its territories around its bases in Bombay and Madras; the Anglo-Mysore Wars
Anglo-Mysore Wars
The Anglo-Mysore Wars were a series of wars fought in India over the last three decades of the 18th century between the Kingdom of Mysore and the British East India Company, represented chiefly by the Madras Presidency...

 (1766–1799) and the Anglo-Maratha Wars
Anglo-Maratha Wars
The Anglo-Maratha Wars were three wars fought in India between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company:* First Anglo-Maratha War * Second Anglo-Maratha War...

 (1772–1818) led to control of the vast region of India south of the Narmada River
Narmada River
The Narmada , also called Rewa is a river in central India and the fifth largest river in the Indian subcontinent. It is the third largest river that completely flows within India after Ganges and Godavari...

.

The expansion did not occur without resistance. In 1806 the Vellore Mutiny
Vellore Mutiny
The Vellore Mutiny on 10 July 1806 was the first instance of a large-scale and violent mutiny by Indian sepoys against the British East India Company, predating the Indian Rebellion of 1857 by half a century...

 was sparked due to new uniform regulations that created resentment amongst both Hindu and Muslim sepoys.

After the turn of the 19th century, Governor-General Wellesley
Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley
Richard Colley Wesley, later Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, KG, PC, PC , styled Viscount Wellesley from birth until 1781, was an Anglo-Irish politician and colonial administrator....

 began what became two decades of accelerated expansion of Company territories. This was achieved either by subsidiary alliance
Subsidiary alliance
A subsidiary alliance is an alliance between a dominant nation and a nation that it dominates.-British policy in India:The doctrine of subsidiary alliance was introduced by Marquess Wellesley, British Governor-General of India from 1798 to 1805...

s between the Company and local rulers or by direct military annexation. The subsidiary alliances created the princely states (or native states) of the Hindu maharaja
Maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

s and the Muslim nawab
Nawab
A Nawab or Nawaab is an honorific title given to Muslim rulers of princely states in South Asia. It is the Muslim equivalent of the term "maharaja" that was granted to Hindu rulers....

s. Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

, North-West Frontier Province
North-West Frontier Province
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province and various other names, is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the north-west of the country...

, and Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 were annexed after the Second Anglo-Sikh War
Second Anglo-Sikh War
The Second Anglo-Sikh War took place in 1848 and 1849, between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company. It resulted in the subjugation of the Sikh Empire, and the annexation of the Punjab and what subsequently became the North-West Frontier Province by the East India Company.-Background...

 in 1849; however, Kashmir was immediately sold under the Treaty of Amritsar
Treaty of Amritsar
The Treaty of Amritsar was signed on March 16, 1846, to settle a dispute over territory in Kashmir after the First Sikh War with the United Kingdom, ceding some land to Maharaja Gulab Singh Dogra...

 (1850) to the Dogra Dynasty of Jammu
Jammu
Jammu , also known as Duggar, is one of the three administrative divisions within Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state in India.Jammu city is the largest city in Jammu and the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir...

 and thereby became a princely state. The border dispute between Nepal and British India, which sharpened after 1801, had caused the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–16 and brought the Gurkhas under British influence. In 1854, Berar
Berar Province
Berar Province, known also as the Hyderabad Assigned Districts, was a province of British India. The province, formerly ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, was administered by the British after 1853, although the Nizam retained formal sovereignty over the province...

 was annexed, and the state of Oudh was added two years later. For practical purposes, the Company was the government of much of India.

Causes of the rebellion



The Indian Rebellion of 1857 occurred as the result of an accumulation of factors over time, rather than any single event.

The sepoy
Sepoy
A sepoy was formerly the designation given to an Indian soldier in the service of a European power. In the modern Indian Army, Pakistan Army and Bangladesh Army it remains in use for the rank of private soldier.-Etymology and Historical usage:...

s
were Indian soldiers, both Hindu and Muslim, that were recruited into the Company's army. Just before the Rebellion there were over 200,000 Indians in the army, compared to about 50,000 British. The forces were divided into three presidency armies
Presidency armies
The presidency armies were the armies of the three presidencies of the East India Company's rule in India, later the forces of the British Crown in India...

: Bombay
Bombay Presidency
The Bombay Presidency was a province of British India. It was established in the 17th century as a trading post for the English East India Company, but later grew to encompass much of western and central India, as well as parts of post-partition Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula.At its greatest...

, Madras
Madras Presidency
The Madras Presidency , officially the Presidency of Fort St. George and also known as Madras Province, was an administrative subdivision of British India...

, and Bengal
Bengal Presidency
The Bengal Presidency originally comprising east and west Bengal, was a colonial region of the British Empire in South-Asia and beyond it. It comprised areas which are now within Bangladesh, and the present day Indian States of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Orissa and Tripura.Penang and...

. The Bengal Army
Bengal Army
The Bengal Army was the army of the Presidency of Bengal, one of the three Presidencies of British India, in South Asia. Although based in Bengal in eastern India, the presidency stretched across northern India and the Himalayas all the way to the North West Frontier Province...

 recruited higher castes
Caste system in India
The Indian caste system is a system of social stratification and social restriction in India in which communities are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called Jātis....

, such as "Rajput
Rajput
A Rajput is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of western, central, northern India and in some parts of Pakistan. Rajputs are descendants of one of the major ruling warrior classes in the Indian subcontinent, particularly North India...

s and Brahmins", mostly from the Awadh
Awadh
Awadh , also known in various British historical texts as Oudh or Oude derived from Ayodhya, is a region in the centre of the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh...

 (near Lucknow
Lucknow
Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh in India. Lucknow is the administrative headquarters of Lucknow District and Lucknow Division....

) and Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

 regions and even restricted the enlistment of lower castes in 1855. In contrast, the Madras Army
Madras Army
The Madras Army was the army of the Presidency of Madras, one of the three presidencies of the British India within the British Empire.The presidency armies, like the presidencies themselves, belonged to the East India Company until the Government of India Act 1858 transferred all three...

 and Bombay Army
Bombay Army
The Bombay Army was the army of the Bombay Presidency, one of the three Presidencies of British India, in South Asia.The Presidency armies, like the presidencies themselves, belonged to the East India Company until the Government of India Act 1858 transferred all three presidencies to the direct...

 were "more localized, caste-neutral armies" that "did not prefer high-caste men." The domination of higher castes in the Bengal Army has been blamed in part for initial mutinies that led to the rebellion. In fact, the role of castes had become so important that men were no longer “selected on account of the most important qualities in a soldier, i.e., physical fitness, willingness and strength, docility and courage, but because he belonged to a certain caste or sect”.

In 1772, when Warren Hastings
Warren Hastings
Warren Hastings PC was the first Governor-General of India, from 1773 to 1785. He was famously accused of corruption in an impeachment in 1787, but was acquitted in 1795. He was made a Privy Councillor in 1814.-Early life:...

 was appointed India's first Governor-General
Governor-General of India
The Governor-General of India was the head of the British administration in India, and later, after Indian independence, the representative of the monarch and de facto head of state. The office was created in 1773, with the title of Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William...

, one of his first undertakings was the rapid expansion of the Company’s army. Since the sepoys from Bengal – many of whom had fought against the Company in the Battles of Plassey and Buxar – were now suspect in British eyes, Hastings recruited farther west from the high-caste rural Rajputs and Brahmins of Awadh and Bihar, a practice that continued for the next 75 years. However, in order to forestall any social friction, the Company also took pains to adapt its military practices to the requirements of their religious rituals. Consequently, these soldiers dined in separate facilities; in addition, overseas service, considered polluting to their caste, was not required of them, and the army soon came officially to recognize Hindu festivals. “This encouragement of high caste ritual status, however, left the government vulnerable to protest, even mutiny, whenever the sepoys detected infringement of their prerogatives.”

It has been suggested that after the annexation of Oudh by the East India Company in 1856, many sepoys were disquieted both from losing their perquisites, as landed gentry, in the Oudh courts and from the anticipation of any increased land-revenue payments that the annexation might bring about. Others have stressed that by 1857, some Indian soldiers, reading the presence of missionaries as a sign of official intent, were convinced that the Company was masterminding mass conversions of Hindus and Muslims to Christianity. Although earlier in the 1830s, evangelists such as William Carey and William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire...

 had successfully clamored for the passage of social reform such as the abolition of sati
Sati (practice)
For other uses, see Sati .Satī was a religious funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowed woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre...

and allowing the remarriage of Hindu widows, there is little evidence that the sepoys' allegiance was affected by this.

However, changes in the terms of their professional service may have created resentment. As the extent of the East India Company's jurisdiction expanded with victories in wars or with annexation, the soldiers were now not only expected to serve in less familiar regions (such as in Burma in the Anglo-Burmese Wars in 1856), but also make do without the "foreign service" remuneration that had previously been their due. Another financial grievance stemmed from the general service act, which denied retired sepoys a pension; whilst this only applied to new recruits, it was suspected that it would also apply to those already in service. In addition, the Bengal Army was paid less than the Madras and Bombay Armies, which compounded the fears over pensions.

A major cause of resentment that arose ten months prior to the outbreak of the Rebellion was the General Service Enlistment Act of 25 July 1856. As noted above, men of the Bengal Army had been exempted from overseas service. Specifically they were enlisted only for service in territories to which they could march. Governor-General Lord Dalhousie
James Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie
James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie KT, PC was a Scottish statesman, and a colonial administrator in British India....

 saw this as an anomaly, since all sepoys of the Madras and Bombay Armies (plus six "General Service" battalions of the Bengal Army) had accepted an obligation to serve overseas if required. As a result the burden of providing contingents for active service in Burma (readily accessible only by sea) and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 had fallen disproportionately on the two smaller Presidency Armies. As signed into effect by Lord Canning
Charles Canning, 1st Earl Canning
Charles John Canning, 1st Earl Canning KG, GCB, PC , known as The Viscount Canning from 1837 to 1859, was an English statesman and Governor-General of India during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.-Background and education:...

, Dalhousie's successor as Governor-General, the Act required only new recruits to the Bengal Army to accept a commitment for general (that is overseas) service. However, serving high-caste sepoys were fearful that it would be eventually extended to them, as well as preventing sons following fathers into an Army with a strong tradition of family service.

There were also grievances over the issue of promotions, based on seniority. This, as well as the increasing number of European officers in the battalions, made promotion a slow progress, and many Indian officers did not reach commissioned rank until they were too old to be effective.

Tallow-greased cartridges


The final spark was provided by the ammunition for new Pattern 1853 Enfield
Pattern 1853 Enfield
The Enfield Pattern 1853 Rifle-Musket was a .577 calibre Minié-type muzzle-loading rifle-musket, used by the British Empire from 1853 to 1867, after which many Enfield 1853 Rifle-Muskets were converted to the cartridge-loaded Snider-Enfield rifle.-History &...

 Rifle. These rifles had a tighter fit, and used paper cartridge
Paper cartridge
Paper cartridge refers to one of various types of small arms ammunition used before the advent of the metallic cartridge. These cartridges consisted of a paper cylinder or cone containing the bullet, gunpowder, and, in some cases, a primer or a lubricating and anti-fouling agent...

s that came pre-greased. To load the rifle, sepoys had to bite the cartridge
Bite the cartridge
Refusing to "bite the cartridge" was a turn of phrase used by the British in India of Native Indian soldiers who had mutinied in 1857.It derives from the act of biting open a paper cartridge containing gunpowder in order to load contemporary rifles....

 open to release the powder. Now, the grease used on these cartridges included tallow
Tallow
Tallow is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, processed from suet. It is solid at room temperature. Unlike suet, tallow can be stored for extended periods without the need for refrigeration to prevent decomposition, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.In industry,...

, which if derived from pork would be offensive to Muslims, and if derived from beef would be offensive to Hindus. At least one British official pointed out the difficulties this may cause:
unless it be proven that the grease employed in these cartridges is not of a nature to offend or interfere with the prejudices of caste, it will be expedient not to issue them for test to Native corps...

However, in August 1856, greased cartridge production was initiated at Fort William
Fort William, India
Fort William is a fort built in Calcutta on the Eastern banks of the River Hooghly, the major distributary of the River Ganges, during the early years of the Bengal Presidency of British India. It was named after King William III of England...

, Calcutta, following British design. The grease used included tallow supplied by the Indian firm of Gangadarh Banerji & Co. By January, the rumours were abroad that the Enfield cartridges were greased with animal fat.
Company officers became aware of the rumours through reports of an altercation between a high-caste sepoy and a low-caste labourer at Dum Dum
Dum Dum
Dum Dum is a city and a municipality in North 24 Parganas district in the state of West Bengal, India. It is a neighbourhood in North-west Kolkata and the location of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, formerly Dum Dum Airport.Dum Dum is a well known place in greater Kolkata...

. The labourer had taunted the sepoy that by biting the cartridge, he had himself lost caste, although at this time such cartridges had been issued only at Meerut and not at Dum Dum.

On 27 January, Colonel Richard Birch, the Military Secretary, ordered that all cartridges issued from depots were to be free from grease, and that sepoys could grease them themselves using whatever mixture "they may prefer". A modification was also made to the drill for loading so that the cartridge was torn with the hands and not bitten. This however, merely caused many sepoys to be convinced that the rumours were true and that their fears were justified. Additional rumours started that the paper in the new cartridges, which was glazed and stiffer than the previously used paper, was impregnated with grease.

Civilian disquiet


The civilian rebellion was more multifarious in origin. The rebels consisted of three groups: the feudal nobility, rural landlords called taluqdars, and the peasants. The nobility, many of whom had lost titles and domains under the Doctrine of Lapse
Doctrine of lapse
The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy purportedly devised by Lord Dalhousie, who was the Governor General for the British in India between 1848 and 1856...

, which refused to recognize the adopted children of princes as legal heirs, felt that the Company had interfered with a traditional system of inheritance. Rebel leaders such as Nana Sahib and the Rani of Jhansi belonged to this group; the latter, for example, was prepared to accept East India Company supremacy if her adopted son was recognized as her late husband's heir. In other areas of central India, such as Indore
Indore
Indore is one of the major city in India, the largest city and commercial center of the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Indore is located 190 km west of the state capital Bhopal. According to the 2011 Indian census, Indore city has a population of 1,960,631...

 and Saugar, where such loss of privilege had not occurred, the princes remained loyal to the Company even in areas where the sepoys had rebelled. The second group, the taluqdars, had lost half their landed estates to peasant farmers as a result of the land reforms that came in the wake of annexation of Oudh. As the rebellion gained ground, the taluqdars quickly reoccupied the lands they had lost, and paradoxically, in part due to ties of kinship and feudal loyalty, did not experience significant opposition from the peasant farmers, many of whom joined the rebellion, to the great dismay of the British. It has also been suggested that heavy land-revenue assessment in some areas by the British resulted in many landowning families either losing their land or going into great debt with money lenders, and providing ultimately a reason to rebel; money lenders, in addition to the Company, were particular objects of the rebels' animosity. The civilian rebellion was also highly uneven in its geographic distribution, even in areas of north-central India that were no longer under British control. For example, the relatively prosperous Muzaffarnagar
Muzaffarnagar
Muzaffarnagar is a major city and a municipal board in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The city was established in Mughal period by a Sayyid Jagirdar, Munawar Lashkar Ali, and so named in honour of his father, Muzaffar Ali Khan. It is the headquarters of the Muzaffarnagar district. It is a...

 district, a beneficiary of a Company irrigation scheme, and next door to Meerut, where the upheaval began, stayed mostly calm throughout.



Image:Charles Canning, 1st Earl Canning - Project Gutenberg eText 16528.jpg|Charles Canning
Charles Canning, 1st Earl Canning
Charles John Canning, 1st Earl Canning KG, GCB, PC , known as The Viscount Canning from 1837 to 1859, was an English statesman and Governor-General of India during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.-Background and education:...

, the Governor-General of India
Governor-General of India
The Governor-General of India was the head of the British administration in India, and later, after Indian independence, the representative of the monarch and de facto head of state. The office was created in 1773, with the title of Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William...

 during the rebellion.
Image:Dalhousie.jpg|Lord Dalhousie
James Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie
James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie KT, PC was a Scottish statesman, and a colonial administrator in British India....

, the Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856, who devised the Doctrine of Lapse
Doctrine of lapse
The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy purportedly devised by Lord Dalhousie, who was the Governor General for the British in India between 1848 and 1856...

.
File:Rani of jhansi.jpg|Lakshmibai, The Rani of Jhansi
Rani Lakshmibai
Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi was the queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi, situated in the northern part of India...

, one of the principal leaders of the rebellion who earlier had lost her kingdom as a result of the Doctrine of Lapse
Doctrine of lapse
The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy purportedly devised by Lord Dalhousie, who was the Governor General for the British in India between 1848 and 1856...

.
Image:Bahadur Shah II - aka Zafar - Project Gutenberg eText 17711.jpg|Bahadur Shah Zafar the last Mughal Emperor, crowned Emperor of India, by the Indian troops, he was deposed by the British, and died in exile in Burma



Much of the resistance to the Company came from the old aristocracy, who were seeing their power steadily eroded. The company had annexed several states under the Doctrine of Lapse, according to which land belonging to a feudal ruler became the property of the East India Company if on his death, the ruler did not leave a male heir through natural process. It had long been the custom for a childless landowner to adopt an heir, but the East India Company ignored this tradition. Nobility, feudal landholders, and royal armies found themselves unemployed and humiliated due to Company expansionism. Even the jewels of the royal family of Nagpur
Nagpur
Nāgpur is a city and winter capital of the state of Maharashtra, the largest city in central India and third largest city in Maharashtra after Mumbai and Pune...

 were publicly auctioned in Calcutta, a move that was seen as a sign of abject disrespect by the remnants of the Indian aristocracy. Lord Dalhousie
James Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie
James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie KT, PC was a Scottish statesman, and a colonial administrator in British India....

, the Governor-General of India, had asked the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and his successors to leave the Red Fort, the palace in Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

. Later, Lord Canning, the next Governor-General of India, announced in 1856 that Bahadur Shah's successors would not even be allowed to use the title of 'king'. Such discourtesies were resented by the deposed Indian rulers.



"Utilitarian and evangelical
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

-inspired social reform", including the abolition of sati and the legalisation of widow remarriage were considered by many—especially the British themselves—to have caused suspicion that Indian religious traditions were being "interfered with", with the ultimate aim of conversion. Recent historians, including Chris Bayly, have preferred to frame this as a "clash of knowledges", with proclamations from religious authorities before the revolt and testimony after it including on such issues as the "insults to women", the rise of "low persons
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 under British tutelage", the "pollution" caused by Western medicine and the persecuting and ignoring of traditional astrological authorities. European-run schools were also a problem: according to recorded testimonies, anger had spread because of stories that mathematics was replacing religious instruction, stories were chosen that would "bring contempt" upon Indian religions, and because girl children were exposed to "moral danger" by education.

The justice system was considered to be inherently unfair to the Indians. The official Blue Books, East India (Torture) 1855–1857, laid before the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 during the sessions of 1856 and 1857 revealed that Company officers were allowed an extended series of appeals if convicted or accused of brutality or crimes against Indians.

The economic policies of the East India Company were also resented by many Indians..

The Bengal Army


Each of the three "Presidencies" into which the East India Company divided India for administrative purposes maintained their own armies. Of these, the Army of the Bengal Presidency was the largest. Unlike the other two, it recruited heavily from among high-caste Hindus (and comparatively wealthy Muslims). The Muslims formed a larger percentage of the Irregular units within the Bengal army, whilst Hindus were mainly to be found in the regular units. The sepoy
Sepoy
A sepoy was formerly the designation given to an Indian soldier in the service of a European power. In the modern Indian Army, Pakistan Army and Bangladesh Army it remains in use for the rank of private soldier.-Etymology and Historical usage:...

s (the native Indian soldiers) were therefore affected to a large degree by the concerns of the landholding and traditional members of Indian society. In the early years of the Company rule, they tolerated and even encouraged the caste privileges and customs within the Bengal Army, which recruited its regular soldiers almost exclusively amongst the landowning Bhumihar
Bhumihar
Bhumihar or Babhan or Bhuin-har is a Brahmin Hindu community mainly found in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh.- Varna status :...

 Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

s and Rajput
Rajput
A Rajput is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of western, central, northern India and in some parts of Pakistan. Rajputs are descendants of one of the major ruling warrior classes in the Indian subcontinent, particularly North India...

s of the Ganges Valley. By the time these customs and privileges came to be threatened by modernizing regimes in Calcutta from the 1840s onwards, the sepoys had become accustomed to very high ritual status, and were extremely sensitive to suggestions that their caste might be polluted.

The sepoys also gradually became dissatisfied with various other aspects of army life. Their pay was relatively low and after Awadh
Awadh
Awadh , also known in various British historical texts as Oudh or Oude derived from Ayodhya, is a region in the centre of the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh...

 and the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 were annexed, the soldiers no longer received extra pay (batta or bhatta) for service there, because they were no longer considered "foreign missions". The junior European officers were increasingly estranged from their soldiers, in many cases treating them as their racial inferiors. Officers of an evangelical persuasion in the Company's Army (such as Herbert Edwardes and Colonel S.G. Wheler of the 34th Bengal Infantry) had taken to preaching to their sepoys in the hope of converting them to Christianity. In 1856, a new Enlistment Act was introduced by the Company, which in theory made every unit in the Bengal Army liable to service overseas. (Although it was intended to apply to new recruits only, the sepoys feared that the Act might be applied retrospectively to them as well. It was argued that a high-caste Hindu who traveled in the cramped, squalid conditions of a troop ship would find it impossible to avoid losing caste through ritual pollution.)

Onset of the Rebellion


Several months of increasing tensions coupled with various incidents preceded the actual rebellion. On 26 February 1857 the 19th Bengal Native Infantry
Bengal Native Infantry
The Bengal Native Infantry was part of the organisation of the East India Company's Bengal Army before the Indian rebellion of 1857.The infantry regiments underwent frequent changes of numbering during their period of existence...

 (BNI) regiment became concerned that new cartridges they had been issued were wrapped in paper greased with cow and pig fat, which had to be opened by mouth thus affecting their religious sensibilities. Their Colonel confronted them supported by artillery and cavalry on the parade ground, but after some negotiation withdrew the artillery, and cancel the next morning's parade.

Mangal Pandey




On 29 March 1857 at the Barrackpore (now Barrackpur) parade ground, near Calcutta (now Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata , formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it was the commercial capital of East India...

), 29-year-old Mangal Pandey
Mangal Pandey
Mangal Pandey was a sepoy in the 34th Regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry of the English East India Company. He is widely known in India as one of its first freedom fighters...

 of the 34th BNI, angered by the recent actions by the East India Company, declared that he would rebel against his commanders. Informed about Pandey's apparently drug induced behaviour Sergeant-Major James Hewson went to investigate only to have Pandey shoot at him. Hewson raised the alarm. When his adjutant
Adjutant
Adjutant is a military rank or appointment. In some armies, including most English-speaking ones, it is an officer who assists a more senior officer, while in other armies, especially Francophone ones, it is an NCO , normally corresponding roughly to a Staff Sergeant or Warrant Officer.An Adjutant...

 Lt. Henry Baugh came out to investigate the unrest, Pandey opened fire but hit his horse instead.

General John Hearsey came out to see him on the parade ground, and claimed later that Mangal Pandey was in some kind of "religious frenzy". He ordered the Indian commander of the quarter guard
Quarter guard
The quarter guard is a military depot in an Indian Army unit. The quarter guard is the main point of security arrangements for the army camp/garrison. The regimental colours, the armoury and the treasury would be kept in this building...

 Jemadar
Jemadar
Jemadar was a rank used in the British Indian Army, where it was the lowest rank for a Viceroy's Commissioned Officer . Jemadars either commanded platoons or troops themselves or assisted their British commander...

 Ishwari Prasad to arrest Mangal Pandey, but the Jemadar refused. The quarter guard and other sepoys present, with the single exception of a soldier called Shaikh Paltu
Shaikh Paltu
Shaikh Paltu was a soldier with the British East India Company, serving in the 34th Bengal Native Infantry in March 1857, shortly before widespread discontent broke out in the Bengal Army. When on March 29, Sepoy Mangal Pandey of the same regiment revolted and attacked his British officers, it...

, drew back from restraining or arresting Mangal Pandey. Shaikh Paltu restrained Pandey from continuing his attack.

After failing to incite his comrades into an open and active rebellion, Mangal Pandey tried to take his own life by placing his musket to his chest, and pulling the trigger with his toe. He only managed to wound himself, and was court-martialled on 6 April. He was hanged on 8 April.

The Jemadar Ishwari Prasad was sentenced to death and hanged on 22 April. The regiment was disbanded and stripped of their uniforms because it was felt that they harboured ill-feelings towards their superiors, particularly after this incident. Shaikh Paltu was promoted to the rank of Jemadar
Jemadar
Jemadar was a rank used in the British Indian Army, where it was the lowest rank for a Viceroy's Commissioned Officer . Jemadars either commanded platoons or troops themselves or assisted their British commander...

 in the Bengal Army.

Sepoys in other regiments thought this as a very harsh punishment. The show of disgrace while disbanding contributed to the extent of the rebellion in view of some historians, as disgruntled ex-sepoys returned home to Awadh with a desire to inflict revenge, as and when the opportunity arose.

April 1857


During April, there was unrest and fires at Agra
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

, Allahabad
Allahabad
Allahabad , or Settled by God in Persian, is a major city of India and is one of the main holy cities of Hinduism. It was renamed by the Mughals from the ancient name of Prayaga , and is by some accounts the second-oldest city in India. It is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,...

 and Ambala
Ambala
Ambala is a city and a municipal corporation in Ambala district in the state of Haryana, India, located on the border of the states of Haryana and Punjab in India. Politically; Ambala has two sub-areas: Ambala Cantt and Ambala City, approximately 3 kilometers apart from each other...

. At Ambala in particular, which was a large military cantonment where several units had been collected for their annual musketry practice, it was clear to General Anson, Commander-in-Chief of the Bengal Army, that some sort of riot over the cartridges was imminent. Despite the objections of the civilian Governor-General's staff, he agreed to postpone the musketry practice, and allow a new drill by which the soldiers tore the cartridges with their fingers rather than their teeth. However, he issued no general orders making this standard practice throughout the Bengal Army and, rather than remain at Ambala to defuse or overawe potential trouble, he then proceeded to Simla
Shimla
Shimla , formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British...

, the cool "hill station" where many high officials spent the summer.

Although there was no open revolt at Ambala, there was widespread arson during late April. Barrack buildings (especially those belonging to soldiers who had used the Enfield cartridges) and European officers' bungalows were set on fire.

Meerut



At Meerut was another large military cantonment. 2,357 Indian sepoys and 2,038 British troops with 12 British-manned guns were stationed there. Meerut was the station for one of the largest concentrations of British troops in India and this was later to be cited as evidence that the original rising was a spontaneous outbreak rather than a pre-planned plot.

Although the state of unrest within the Bengal Army was well known, on 24 April Lieutenant Colonel George Carmichael-Smyth, the unsympathetic commanding officer of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry, ordered 90 of his men to parade and perform firing drills. All except five of the men on parade refused to accept their cartridges. On 9 May, the remaining 85 men were court martialled, and most were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment with hard labour. Eleven comparatively young soldiers were given five years' imprisonment. The entire garrison was paraded and watched as the condemned men were stripped of their uniforms and placed in shackles. As they were marched off to jail, the condemned soldiers berated their comrades for failing to support them.

The next day was Sunday, the Christian day of rest and worship. Some Indian soldiers warned off-duty junior European officers (including Hugh Gough
Hugh Henry Gough
General Sir Hugh Henry Gough VC, GCB was born in Calcutta, India and was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:He was 23 years old, and a lieutenant in the...

, then a lieutenant of horse) that plans were afoot to release the imprisoned soldiers by force, but the senior officers to whom this was reported in turn took no action. There was also unrest in the city of Meerut itself, with angry protests in the bazaar and some buildings being set on fire. In the evening, most European officers were preparing to attend church, while many of the European soldiers were off duty and had gone into canteens or into the bazaar in Meerut. The Indian troops, led by the 3rd Cavalry, broke into revolt. European junior officers who attempted to quell the first outbreaks were killed by their own men. European officers' and civilians' quarters were attacked, and four civilian men, eight women and eight children were killed. Crowds in the bazaar attacked the off-duty soldiers there. About 50 Indian civilians (some of whom were officers' servants who tried to defend or conceal their employers) were also killed by the sepoys.
Within the city of Meerut, the Kotwal
Kotwal
Kotwal was a title used in medieval India for the leader of a Kot or fort. Kotwals often controlled the fort of a major town or an area of smaller towns on behalf of another ruler. It was similar in function to a British India Zaildar From Mughal times the title was given to the local ruler of a...

 (holder of the fort) Dhan Singh Gurjar
Kotwal Dhan Singh Gurjar
Kotwal Dhan Singh Gurjar was one of the freedom fighters of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.-Revolt of 1857 in Meerut:The freedom movement, which started in 1822 from Kunja Bahadurpur, came to shape in 1857. In the Indian mutiny of 1857, the mutineers had the support of the army...

 opened the gate of the jail. A total of about 50 European men (including soldiers), women and children were killed in Meerut by sepoys and crowds. on the evening of 10 May. The sepoys freed their 85 imprisoned comrades from the jail, along with 800 other prisoners (debtors and criminals).

Some sepoys (especially from the 11th Bengal Native Infantry) escorted trusted British officers and women and children to safety before joining the revolt. Some officers and their families escaped to Rampur
Rampur, Uttar Pradesh
Rampur is a city and a municipality located in Rampur District in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Rampur district is located at Longitude 78-0-54 to 69-0-28 East and Latitude 28-25 to 29-10 North and spans an area of 2,367 km².It also gave its name to a former princely state of British...

, where they found refuge with the Nawab.

The senior Company officers, in particular Major General Hewitt, the commander of the division (who was nearly 70 years old and in poor health), were slow to react. The British troops (mainly the 1st Battalion of the 60th Rifles
King's Royal Rifle Corps
The King's Royal Rifle Corps was a British Army infantry regiment, originally raised in colonial North America as the Royal Americans, and recruited from American colonists. Later ranked as the 60th Regiment of Foot, the regiment served for more than 200 years throughout the British Empire...

, the 6th Dragoon Guards and two European-manned batteries of the Bengal Artillery) rallied, but received no orders to engage the rebellious sepoys and could only guard their own headquarters and armouries. On the following morning when they prepared to attack, they found Meerut was quiet and that the rebels had marched off to Delhi.

The British historian Philip Mason notes that it was inevitable that most of the sepoys and sowars from Meerut should have made for Delhi on the night of 10 May. It was a strong walled city located only forty miles away, it was the ancient capital and present seat of the Mughal Emperor and finally there were no British troops in garrison there (by contrast with the relatively strong concentration at Meerut). What no-one could have anticipated was that no effort was made to pursue them.

Delhi


Early on 11 May, the first parties of the 3rd Cavalry reached Delhi. From beneath the windows of the King's apartments in the palace, they called on him to acknowledge and lead them. Bahadur Shah did nothing at this point (apparently treating the sepoys as ordinary petitioners), but others in the palace were quick to join the revolt. During the day, the revolt spread. Gujjar
Gujjar
The Gurjar are an ethnic group in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Alternative spellings include Gurjara, Gujar, Gurjjara and Gūrjara. The spelling Gurjara or Gurjar is preferable to the rest....

s from Chandrawal
Shahdara
Shahdara , is an area in Delhi, named so because of being established by Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan, is a part of Delhi region in India, situated at the bank of Yamuna river.It is one of the oldest established regions of Delhi and one of the important part of what is known as Purani Dilli...

, led by Chaudhry Daya Ram, destroyed the house of Chief Magistrate Theophilus Metcalfe. European officials and dependents, Indian Christians and shop keepers within the city were killed, some by sepoys and others by crowds of rioters.


There were three battalions of Bengal Native Infantry stationed in or near the city. Some detachments quickly joined the rebellion, while others held back but also refused to obey orders to take action against the rebels. In the afternoon, a violent explosion in the city was heard for several miles. Fearing that the arsenal, which contained large stocks of arms and ammunition, would fall intact into rebel hands, the nine British Ordnance officers there had opened fire on the sepoys, including the men of their own guard. When resistance appeared hopeless, they blew up the arsenal. Although six of the nine officers survived, the blast killed many in the streets and nearby houses and other buildings. The news of these events finally tipped the sepoys stationed around Delhi into open rebellion. The sepoys were later able to salvage at least some arms from the arsenal, and a magazine two miles (3 km) outside Delhi, containing up to 3,000 barrels of gunpowder, was captured without resistance.

Many fugitive European officers and civilians had congregated at the Flagstaff Tower on the ridge north of Delhi, where telegraph operators were sending news of the events to other British stations. When it became clear that the help expected from Meerut was not coming, they made their way in carriages to Karnal
Karnal
Karnal is an important city and the headquarters of Karnal District in the Indian state of Haryana.Karnal is said to have been founded by the Kauravas in the Mahabharata era for the king Karna, a mythological hero and a key figure in the epic tale...

. Those who became separated from the main body or who could not reach the Flagstaff Tower also set out for Karnal on foot. Some were helped by villagers on the way, others were robbed or murdered.

The next day, Bahadur Shah held his first formal court for many years. It was attended by many excited or unruly sepoys. The King was alarmed by the turn events had taken, but eventually accepted the sepoys' allegiance and agreed to give his countenance to the rebellion. On 16 May, up to 50 Europeans who had been held prisoner in the palace or had been discovered hiding in the city were said to have been killed by some of the King's servants under a peepul tree in a courtyard outside the palace.

Support and opposition



The news of the events at Delhi spread rapidly, provoking uprisings among sepoys and disturbances in many districts. In many cases, it was the behaviour of British military and civilian authorities themselves which precipitated disorder. Learning of the fall of Delhi by telegraph, many Company administrators hastened to remove themselves, their families and servants to places of safety. At Agra
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

, 160 miles (257.5 km) from Delhi, no less than 6,000 assorted non-combatants converged on the Fort
Agra Fort
Agra Fort, is a monument situated at Agra, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal...

. The haste with which many civilians left their posts encouraged rebellions in the areas they left, although others remained at their posts until it was clearly impossible to maintain any sort of order. Several were murdered by rebels or lawless gangs.

The military authorities also reacted in disjointed manner. Some officers trusted their sepoys, but others tried to disarm them to forestall potential uprisings. At Benares
Varanasi
-Etymology:The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi, for the old city lies in the north shores of the Ganga bounded by its two tributaries, the Varuna and the Asi, with the Ganges being to its south...

 and Allahabad
Allahabad
Allahabad , or Settled by God in Persian, is a major city of India and is one of the main holy cities of Hinduism. It was renamed by the Mughals from the ancient name of Prayaga , and is by some accounts the second-oldest city in India. It is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,...

, the disarmings were bungled, also leading to local revolts.

Although rebellion became widespread, there was little unity among the rebels. While Bahadur Shah Zafar was restored to the imperial throne there was a faction that wanted the Maratha
Maratha Empire
The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. At its peak, the empire covered much of South Asia, encompassing a territory of over 2.8 million km²....

 rulers to be enthroned also, and the Awadh
Awadh
Awadh , also known in various British historical texts as Oudh or Oude derived from Ayodhya, is a region in the centre of the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh...

is wanted to retain the powers that their Nawab used to have.

There were calls for jihad
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

 by Muslim leaders like Maulana Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi
Maulana Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi
Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi was one of the main figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He was a philosopher, a poet, a religious scholar, but is most remembered for his role as a freedom fighter. It was he who issued the fatwa in favour of Jihad against the English in 1857.-Life:Khairabadi had been a...

 and the millenarian Ahmedullah Shah, which were taken up by Muslims, particularly artisans, which caused the British to think that the Muslims were the main force behind this event. The Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah, resisted these calls for jihad because, it has been suggested, he feared outbreaks of communal violence. In Awadh
Awadh
Awadh , also known in various British historical texts as Oudh or Oude derived from Ayodhya, is a region in the centre of the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh...

, Sunni Muslims did not want to see a return to Shiite rule, so they often refused to join what they perceived to be a Shia rebellion. However, some Muslims like the Aga Khan
Aga Khan
Aga Khan is the hereditary title of the Imam of the largest branch of the Ismā'īlī followers of the Shī‘a faith. They affirm the Imamat of the descendants of Ismail ibn Jafar, eldest son of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, while the larger Twelver branch of Shi`ism follows Ismail's younger brother Musa...

 supported the British. The British rewarded him by formally recognizing his title.

Although most of the rebellious sepoys in Delhi were Hindus, a significant proportion of the insurgents were Muslims. The proportion of ghazis grew to be about a quarter of the local fighting force by the end of the siege, and included a regiment of suicide ghazis from Gwalior who had vowed never to eat again and to fight until they met certain death at the hands of British troops.

In Thana Bhawan
Thana Bhawan
Thana Bhawan is a small town in Muzaffarnagar District in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is the birthplace of the famous Islamic scholar Ashraf Ali Thanvi...

, the Sunnis declared Haji Imdadullah their Ameer
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

. In May 1857 the Battle of Shamli took place between the forces of Haji Imdadullah and the British.

The Sikhs and Pathans of the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 and North-West Frontier Province
North-West Frontier Province
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province and various other names, is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the north-west of the country...

 supported the British and helped in the recapture of Delhi. Historian John Harris has asserted that the Sikhs wanted to avenge the annexation of the Sikh Empire eight years earlier by the Company with the help of Purabias ('Easterners'); Biharis and those from the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh
United Provinces of Agra and Oudh
The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh was a province of India under the British Raj, which existed from 1902 to 1947; the official name was shortened by the Government of India Act 1935 to United Provinces, by which the province had been commonly known, and by which name it was also a province of...

 who had formed part of the East India Company's armies in the First
First Anglo-Sikh War
The First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company between 1845 and 1846. It resulted in partial subjugation of the Sikh kingdom.-Background and causes of the war:...

 and Second
Second Anglo-Sikh War
The Second Anglo-Sikh War took place in 1848 and 1849, between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company. It resulted in the subjugation of the Sikh Empire, and the annexation of the Punjab and what subsequently became the North-West Frontier Province by the East India Company.-Background...

 Anglo-Sikh Wars. He has also suggested that Sikhs felt insulted by the attitude of sepoys who (in their view) had only beaten the Khalsa
Khalsa
+YouWebImagesVideosMapsNewsMailMoreTranslateFrom: ArabicTo: EnglishEnglishHindiEnglishAllow phonetic typingHindiEnglishArabicAssumptionGoogle Translate for Business:Translator ToolkitWebsite TranslatorGlobal Market Finder...

 with British help; they resented and despised them far more than they did the British.

According to Hugh K. Trevaskis, Sikh support for the British resulted from grievances surrounding Sepoys' perceived conduct during and after the Anglo-Sikh Wars. Firstly, many Sikhs resented that Hindustanis in service of the Sikh state had been foremost in urging the wars which lost them their independence. Sikh soldiers also recalled that the bloodiest battles of the war, Chillianwala
Battle of Chillianwala
The Battle of Chillianwala was fought during the Second Anglo-Sikh War in the Chillianwala region of Punjab, now part of modern-day Pakistan. The battle was one of the bloodiest fought by the British East India Company. Both armies held their positions at the end of the battle and both sides...

 and Ferozeshah
Battle of Ferozeshah
The Battle of Ferozeshah was fought on 21 December and 22 December 1845 between the British and the Sikhs, at the village of Ferozeshah in Punjab. The British were led by Sir Hugh Gough and Governor-General Sir Henry Hardinge, while the Sikhs were led by Lal Singh.The British emerged victorious,...

, were won by British troops, and they believed that the Hindustani sepoys had refused to meet them in battle. These feelings were compounded when Hindustani Sepoys were assigned a very visible role as garrison troops in Punjab and awarded profit-making civil posts in Punjab.

In 1857, the Bengal Army had 86,000 men of which 12,000 were European, 16,000 Sikh and 1,500 Gurkha soldiers, out of a total of (for the three Indian armies) 311,000 native troops, and 40,160 European troops as well as 5,362 officers. Fifty-four of the Bengal Army's 75 regular Native Infantry Regiments rebelled, although some were immediately destroyed or broke up with their sepoys drifting away to their homes. A number of the remaining 21 regiments were disarmed or disbanded to prevent or forestall rebellion. In total only twelve of the original Bengal Native Infantry regiments survived to pass into the new Indian Army All ten of the Bengal Light Cavalry regiments rebelled.

The Bengal Army also included 29 Irregular Cavalry and 42 Irregular Infantry regiments. These included a substantial contingent from the recently annexed state of Awadh, which rebelled en masse. Another large contingent from Gwalior also rebelled, even though that state's ruler remained allied to the British. The remainder of the Irregular units were raised from a wide variety of sources and were less affected by the concerns of mainstream Indian society. Three bodies in particular actively supported the Company; three Gurkha and five of six Sikh infantry units, and the six infantry and six cavalry units of the recently raised Punjab Irregular Force.

On 1 April 1858, the number of Indian soldiers in the Bengal army loyal to the Company was 80,053. This total included a large number of soldiers hastily raised in the Punjab and North-West Frontier after the outbreak of the Rebellion. The Bombay army had three mutinies in its 29 regiments whilst the Madras army had no mutinies, though elements of one of its 52 regiments refused to volunteer for service in Bengal. Most of southern India remained passive with only sporadic and haphazard outbreaks of violence. Most of the states did not take part in the war as many parts of the region were ruled by the Nizam
Nizam
Nizam-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad popularly known as Nizams of Hyderabad was a former monarchy of the Hyderabad State, now in the states of Andhra Pradesh , Karnataka , and Maharashtra in India...

s or the Mysore royalty and were thus not directly under British rule.

Initial stages


Bahadur Shah Zafar
Bahadur Shah II
His Royal Highness Abu Zafar Sirajuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah Zafar , also known as Bahadur Shah or Bahadur Shah II was the last of the Mughal emperors in India, as well as the last ruler of the Timurid Dynasty.He was the son of Akbar Shah II and Lalbai, who was a Hindu Rajput...

 was proclaimed the Emperor of the whole of India. Most contemporary and modern accounts suggest that he was coerced by the sepoys and his courtiers to sign the proclamation against his will. In spite of the significant loss of power that the Mughal dynasty had suffered in the preceding centuries, their name still carried great prestige across northern India. The civilians, nobility and other dignitaries took the oath of allegiance to the Emperor. The British, who had long ceased to take the authority of the Mughal Emperor seriously were astonished at how the ordinary people responded to Zafar's call for war. The Emperor issued coins in his name, one of the oldest ways of asserting Imperial status, and his name was added to the acceptance by Muslims that he is their King. This proclamation, however, turned the Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s of Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 away from the rebellion, as they did not want to return to Islamic rule, having fought many wars against the Mughal
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 rulers. The province of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 was largely quiet throughout the entire period.

Initially, the Indian soldiers were able to significantly push back Company forces, and captured several important towns in Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

, Bihar, Central Provinces
Central Provinces
The Central Provinces was a province of British India. It comprised British conquests from the Mughals and Marathas in central India, and covered parts of present-day Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra states. Its capital was Nagpur....

 and the United Provinces
United Provinces of Agra and Oudh
The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh was a province of India under the British Raj, which existed from 1902 to 1947; the official name was shortened by the Government of India Act 1935 to United Provinces, by which the province had been commonly known, and by which name it was also a province of...

. When the European troops were reinforced and began to counterattack, the sepoys who mutinied were especially handicapped by their lack of a centralised command and control system. Although they produced some natural leaders such as Bakht Khan
Bakht Khan
Bakht Khan Rohilla was nominal commander-in-chief of Indian rebel forces in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the East India Company.-Background:...

 (whom the Emperor later nominated as commander-in-chief after his son Mirza Mughal
Mirza Mughal
HH Prince Mirza Mughal was an Imperial Prince of the Royal Family of India; the fifth son of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, the 12th and last Mughal emperor. His mother, Sharif-ul-Mahal Sayyidini, came from an Aristocratic Sayyid family that claimed descent from The Prophet Muhammad...

 proved ineffectual), for the most part they were forced to look for leadership to rajahs and princes. Some of these were to prove dedicated leaders, but others were self-interested or inept.

In the countryside around Meerut, a general Gurjar uprising posed the largest threat to the British. In Parikshitgarh
Parikshitgarh
Parikshitgarh is a town and a nagar panchayat in Meerut district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.-Demographics: India census, Parikshitgarh had a population of 17,399. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Parikshitgarh has an average literacy rate of 59%, lower than the...

 near Meerut, Gurjars declared Choudhari Kadam Singh (Kuddum Singh) their leader, and expelled Company police. Kadam Singh Gurjar led a large army of men, estimates varying from 2,000 to 10,000. Bulandshahr and Bijnor
Bijnor
Bijnor variously spelt as Bijnaur and Bijnour, is a city and a municipal board in Bijnor district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India...

 also came under the control of Gurjars under the leaders Walidad Khan and Maho Singh respectively. Contemporary sources report that nearly all the Gurjar villages in the area between Meerut and Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 participated in the revolt, in some cases accompanied by mutinying sepoys from Jullundur
Jalandhar
Jalandhar is a city in Jalandhar District in the state of Punjab, India. It is located 144 km northwest of the state capital, Chandigarh...

, and it was not until late July that, with the help of the Jats of the area, the British managed to regain control of the area.

The Imperial Gazetteer of India
The Imperial Gazetteer of India
The Imperial Gazetteer of India was a gazetteer of the British Indian Empire, and is now a historical reference work. It was first published in 1881...

 states that throughout the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Gurjars and Ranghars (Muslim rajpoots) proved the "most irreconcilable enemies" of the British in the Bulandshahr
Bulandshahr District
Bulandshahar District is a district of Uttar Pradesh state in northern India. Bulandshahr city is the district headquarters.-Geography:...

 area.

Mufti
Mufti
A mufti is a Sunni Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law . In religious administrative terms, a mufti is roughly equivalent to a deacon to a Sunni population...

 Nizamuddin, a renowned scholar of Rewari
Rewari
Rewari is a city and a municipal council in Rewari district in the Indian state of Haryana. It is located in south-west Haryana around from Delhi and from Gurgaon.- Etymology :...

, issued a Fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 against the British forces and called upon the local population to support the forces of Rao Tula Ram
Rao Tula Ram
Rao Tula Ram was one of the key leaders of the Indian rebellion of 1857, in Haryana, where he is considered a state hero....

. Many people were killed in the fight at Narnaul (Nasibpur). After the defeat of Rao Tula Ram on 16 November 1857, Mufti Nizamuddin was arrested, and his brother Mufti Yaqinuddin and brother-in-law Abdur Rahman (alias Nabi Baksh) were arrested in Tijara
Tijara
Tijara is a city and a municipality in Alwar district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Tijara is situated 48 km to the north east of Alwar, the nearest Railwau station is Khairthal. It was founded by Tajpala, Raja of Sarahata, 6 km from Tijara. A scion of Yadav family, he built palaces at...

. They were taken to Delhi and hanged. Having lost the fight at Nasibpur, Rao Tula Ram and Pran Sukh Yadav
Pran Sukh Yadav
Pran Sukh Yadav in Hindi प्राण सुख यादव was an extraordinary military commander of his time. He was a close friend of Hari Singh Nalwa and famous Punjab ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh.In his early career he trained Sikh Khalsa army...

 went to obtain arms from Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 which had just been engaged against Britain in the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

.

Delhi



The British were slow to strike back at first. It took time for troops stationed in Britain to make their way to India by sea, although some regiments moved overland through Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 from the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, and some regiments already en route for China were diverted to India.

It took time to organize the European troops already in India into field forces, but eventually two columns left Meerut and Simla
Shimla
Shimla , formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British...

. They proceeded slowly towards Delhi and fought, killed, and hanged numerous Indians along the way. Two months after the first outbreak of rebellion at Meerut, the two forces met near Karnal
Karnal
Karnal is an important city and the headquarters of Karnal District in the Indian state of Haryana.Karnal is said to have been founded by the Kauravas in the Mahabharata era for the king Karna, a mythological hero and a key figure in the epic tale...

. The combined force (which included two Gurkha
Gurkha
Gurkha are people from Nepal who take their name from the Gorkha District. Gurkhas are best known for their history in the Indian Army's Gorkha regiments, the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas and the Nepalese Army. Gurkha units are closely associated with the kukri, a forward-curving Nepalese knife...

 units serving in the Bengal Army under contract from the Kingdom of Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

), fought the main army of the rebels at Badli-ke-Serai
Battle of Badli-ki-Serai
The Battle of Badli-ki-Serai was fought early in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, or First War of Indian Independence as it has since been termed in Indian histories of the events. A British and Gurkha force defeated a force of sepoys who had rebelled against the British East India Company...

 and drove them back to Delhi.

The Company established a base on the Delhi ridge to the north of the city and the Siege of Delhi
Siege of Delhi
The Siege of Delhi was one of the decisive conflicts of the Indian rebellion of 1857.The rebellion against the authority of the British East India Company was widespread through much of Northern India, but essentially it was sparked by the mass uprising by the sepoys of the units of the Army which...

 began. The siege lasted roughly from 1 July to 21 September. However, the encirclement was hardly complete, and for much of the siege the Company forces were outnumbered and it often seemed that it was the Company forces and not Delhi that was under siege, as the rebels could easily receive resources and reinforcements. For several weeks, it seemed that disease, exhaustion and continuous sorties by rebels from Delhi would force the Company forces to withdraw, but the outbreaks of rebellion in the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 were forestalled or suppressed, allowing the Punjab Movable Column of British, Sikh and Pakhtun soldiers under John Nicholson
John Nicholson (general)
Brigadier-General John Nicholson was a Victorian era military officer known for his role in British India. A charismatic and authoritarian figure, Nicholson created a legend for himself as a political officer under Henry Lawrence in the frontier provinces of the British Empire in India...

 to reinforce the besiegers on the Ridge on 14 August. On 30 August the rebels offered terms, which were refused.


Image:1857 ruins jantar mantar observatory2.jpg|The Jantar Mantar observatory in Delhi in 1858, damaged in the fighting
Image:1857 cashmeri gate delhi2.jpg|Mortar damage to Kashmiri Gate
Kashmiri Gate (Delhi)
The Kashmiri Gate is a gate located in Delhi, it is the northern gate to the historic walled city of Delhi...

, Delhi, 1858
Image:1857 hindu raos house2.jpg|Hindu Rao
Hindu Rao
Raja Hindu Rao was the brother of the female regent of the Indian princely state of Gwalior. Following the Revolt of 1857, he shifted to Delhi where he was on friendly terms with the British Resident...

's house in Delhi, now a hospital, was extensively damaged in the fighting
Image:1857 bank of delhi2.jpg|Bank of Delhi was attacked by mortar and gunfire



An eagerly awaited heavy siege train joined the besieging force, and from 7 September, the siege guns battered breaches in the walls and silenced the rebels' artillery. An attempt to storm the city through the breaches and the Kashmiri Gate
Kashmiri Gate (Delhi)
The Kashmiri Gate is a gate located in Delhi, it is the northern gate to the historic walled city of Delhi...

 was launched on 14 September. The attackers gained a foothold within the city but suffered heavy casualties, including John Nicholson. The British commander wished to withdraw, but was persuaded to hold on by his junior officers. After a week of street fighting, the British reached the Red Fort. Bahadur Shah Zafar had already fled to Humayun's tomb
Humayun's Tomb
Humayun's tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun's wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 AD, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect...

. The British had retaken the city.


The troops of the besieging force proceeded to loot and pillage the city. A large number of the citizens were killed in retaliation for the Europeans and Indian civilians that had been killed by the rebel sepoys. During the street fighting, artillery had been set up in the main mosque in the city and the neighbourhoods within range were bombarded. These included the homes of the Muslim nobility from all over India, and contained innumerable cultural, artistic, literary and monetary riches.

The British soon arrested Bahadur Shah, and the next day British officer William Hodson
William Stephen Raikes Hodson
Brevet Major William Stephen Raikes Hodson was a British leader of irregular light cavalry during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 . He was known as "Hodson of Hodson's Horse."His most notable action was to apprehend the Emperor of India...

 shot his sons Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khazir Sultan, and grandson Mirza Abu Bakr under his own authority at the Khooni Darwaza
Khooni Darwaza
Khooni Darwaza , also referred to as Lal Darwaza , is located near Delhi Gate, on the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in Delhi, India. It is one of the 13 surviving gates in Delhi...

 (the bloody gate) near Delhi Gate. On hearing the news Zafar reacted with shocked silence while his wife Zinat Mahal was happy as she believed her son was now Zafar's heir.

Shortly after the fall of Delhi, the victorious attackers organised a column which relieved another besieged Company force in Agra
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

, and then pressed on to Cawnpore, which had also recently been recaptured. This gave the Company forces a continuous, although still tenuous, line of communication from the east to west of India.

Cawnpore (Kanpur)



In June, sepoys under General Wheeler
Hugh Wheeler (British Army Officer)
Sir Hugh Massy Wheeler KCB was a Major General in the British Army stationed in India, who successfully commanded a military force of 4,500 British and Indian soldiers , in the First Anglo-Sikh War, as well as the battles of Mudki , Ferozeshah, and Aliwal.In 1850, Wheeler took command of Cawnpore ...

 in Cawnpore (present day Kanpur) rebelled and besieged the European entrenchment. Wheeler was not only a veteran and respected soldier, but also married to a high-caste Indian lady. He had relied on his own prestige, and his cordial relations with the Nana Sahib to thwart rebellion, and took comparatively few measures to prepare fortifications and lay in supplies and ammunition.

The besieged endured three weeks of the Siege of Cawnpore
Siege of Cawnpore
The Siege of Cawnpore was a key episode in the Indian rebellion of 1857. The besieged British in Cawnpore were unprepared for an extended siege and surrendered to rebel Indian forces under Nana Sahib, in return for a safe passage to Allahabad. However, under ambiguous circumstances, their...

 with little water or food, suffering continuous casualties to men, women and children. On 25 June Nana Sahib made an offer of safe passage to Allahabad. With barely three days' food rations remaining, the British agreed provided they could keep their small arms and that the evacuation should take place in daylight on the morning of the 27th (the Nana Sahib wanted the evacuation to take place on the night of the 26th). Early in the morning of 27 June, the European party left their entrenchment and made their way to the river where boats provided by the Nana Sahib were waiting to take them to Allahabad
Allahabad
Allahabad , or Settled by God in Persian, is a major city of India and is one of the main holy cities of Hinduism. It was renamed by the Mughals from the ancient name of Prayaga , and is by some accounts the second-oldest city in India. It is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,...

. Several sepoys who had stayed loyal to the Company were removed by the mutineers and killed, either because of their loyalty or because "they had become Christian." A few injured British officers trailing the column were also apparently hacked to death by angry sepoys. After the European party had largely arrived at the dock, which was surrounded by sepoys positioned on both banks of the Ganges, with clear lines of fire, firing broke out and the boats were abandoned by their crew, and caught or were set on fire using pieces of red hot charcoal. The British party tried to push the boats off but all except three remained stuck. One boat with over a dozen wounded men initially escaped, but later grounded, was caught by mutineers and pushed back down the river towards the carnage at Cawnpore. Towards the end rebel cavalry rode into the water to finish off any survivors. After the firing ceased the survivors were rounded up and the men shot. By the time the massacre was over, most of the male members of the party were dead while the surviving women and children were removed and held hostage (and later killed in The Bibigarh massacre). Only four men eventually escaped alive from Cawnpore on one of the boats: two private soldiers (both of whom died later during the Rebellion), a lieutenant, and Captain Mowbray Thomson
Mowbray Thomson
General Sir Mowbray Thomson was a British Army officer.He was born in 1832, and travelled to India at an early age. In 1853 he joined the 53rd Bengal Native Infantry – a regiment with Indian troops and white officers - as a subaltern, and in early 1857 moved with the regiment to Cawnpore...

, who wrote a first-hand account of his experiences entitled The Story of Cawnpore (London, 1859).

Whether the firing was planned or accidental remains unresolved. Most early histories assume it was planned either by the Nana Sahib (Kaye and Malleson) or that Tantia Tope and Brigadier Jwala Pershad planned it without the Nana Sahib's knowledge (G W Forrest). The stated reasons for the planned nature are: the speed with which the Nana Sahib agreed to the British conditions (Mowbray Thomson); and the firepower arranged around the ghat which was far in excess of what was necessary to guard the European troops (most histories agree on this). During his trial, Tatya Tope
Tatya Tope
Ramachandra Pandurang Tope , popularly known as Tatya Tope , was an Indian leader in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and one of its finest generals. He was a personal adherent of Nana Sahib of Kanpur. He progressed with the Gwalior contingent after the British reoccupation of Kanpur and forced...

 denied the existence of any such plan and described the incident in the following terms: the Europeans had already boarded the boats and he (Tatya Tope) raised his right hand to signal their departure. That very moment someone from the crowd blew a loud bugle which created disorder and in the ongoing bewilderment, the boatmen jumped off the boats. The rebels started shooting indiscriminately. Nana Sahib, who was staying in Savada Kothi (Bungalow
Bungalow
A bungalow is a type of house, with varying meanings across the world. Common features to many of these definitions include being detached, low-rise , and the use of verandahs...

) nearby, was informed about what was happening and immediately came to stop it. Some British histories allow that it might well have been the result of accident or error; someone accidentally or maliciously fired a shot, the panic-stricken British opened fire, and it became impossible to stop the massacre.

The surviving women and children were taken to the Nana Sahib and then confined first to the Savada Kothi and then to the home of the local magistrate's clerk (The Bibigarh) where they were joined by refugees from Fatehgarh. Overall five men and two hundred and six women and children were confined in The Bibigarh for about two weeks. In one week 25 were brought out dead, due to dysentery and cholera. Meanwhile a Company relief force that had advanced from Allahabad defeated the Indians and by 15 July it was clear that the Nana Sahib would not be able to hold Cawnpore and a decision was made by the Nana Sahib and other leading rebels that the hostages must be killed. After the sepoys refused to carry out this order, two Muslim butchers, two Hindu peasants and one of Nana's bodyguards went into The Bibigarh. Armed with knives and hatchets they murdered the women and children. After the massacre the walls were covered in bloody hand prints, and the floor littered with fragments of human limbs. The dead and the dying were thrown down a nearby well, when the well was full, the 50 feet (15.2 m) deep well was filled with remains to within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the top, the remainder were thrown into the Ganges.

Historians have given many reasons for this act of cruelty. With Company forces approaching Cawnpore and some believing that they would not advance if there were no hostages to save, their murders were ordered. Or perhaps it was to ensure that no information was leaked after the fall of Cawnpore. Other historians have suggested that the killings were an attempt to undermine Nana Sahib's relationship with the British. Perhaps it was due to fear, the fear of being recognized by some of the prisoners for having taken part in the earlier firings.


Image:1857_hospital_wheeler_cawnpore2.jpg|Photograph entitled, "The Hospital in General Wheeler's entrenchment, Cawnpore." (1858) The hospital was the site of the first major loss of European lives in Cawnpore (Kanpur)
Image:1857_sutter_ghat_cawnpore2.jpg|1858 picture of Sati Chaura Ghat on the banks of the Ganges River, where on 27 June 1857 many British men lost their lives and the surviving women and children were taken prisoner by the rebels.
File:1858 Kanpur well monument.jpg|Bibigurh house where European women and children were killed and the well where their bodies were found, 1858.
Image:1857_outside_well_cawnpore2.jpg|The Bibigurh Well site where a memorial had been built. Samuel Bourne
Samuel Bourne
Samuel Bourne was a British photographer known for his prolific seven years' work in India, from 1863 to 1870...

, 1860.


The killing of the women and children proved to be a mistake. The British public was aghast and the anti Imperial and pro-Indian proponents lost all their support. Cawnpore became a war cry for the British and their allies for the rest of the conflict. The Nana Sahib disappeared near the end of the Rebellion and it is not known what happened to him.

Other British accounts state that indiscriminate punitive measures were taken in early June, two weeks before the murders at the Bibi-Ghar (but after those at both Meerut and Delhi), specifically by Lieutenant Colonel James George Smith Neill
James George Smith Neill
Brigadier-General James George Smith Neill was a British soldier.Neill was born near Ayr, Scotland and educated at the University of Glasgow. Entering the service of the British East India Company in 1827, he received his lieutenant's commission a year later...

 of the Madras Fusiliers (a European unit), commanding at Allahabad
Allahabad
Allahabad , or Settled by God in Persian, is a major city of India and is one of the main holy cities of Hinduism. It was renamed by the Mughals from the ancient name of Prayaga , and is by some accounts the second-oldest city in India. It is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,...

 while moving towards Cawnpore. At the nearby town of Fatehpur, a mob had attacked and murdered the local European population. On this pretext, Neill ordered all villages beside the Grand Trunk Road to be burned and their inhabitants to be hanged. Neill's methods were "ruthless and horrible" and far from intimidating the population, may well have induced previously undecided sepoys and communities to revolt.

Neill was killed in action at Lucknow on 26 September and was never called to account for his punitive measures, though contemporary British sources lionised him and his "gallant blue caps". By contrast with the actions of soldiers under Neill, the behaviour of most rebel soldiers was creditable. "Our creed does not permit us to kill a bound prisoner", one of the matchlockmen explained, "though we can slay our enemy in battle."

When the British retook Cawnpore, the soldiers took their sepoy prisoners to The Bibigarh and forced them to lick the bloodstains from the walls and floor. They then hanged or "blew from the cannon" (the traditional Mughal punishment for mutiny) the majority of the sepoy prisoners. Although some claimed the sepoys took no actual part in the killings themselves, they did not act to stop it and this was acknowledged by Captain Thompson after the British departed Cawnpore for a second time.

Lucknow





Very soon after the events in Meerut, rebellion erupted in the state of Awadh
Awadh
Awadh , also known in various British historical texts as Oudh or Oude derived from Ayodhya, is a region in the centre of the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh...

 (also known as Oudh, in modern-day Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

), which had been annexed barely a year before. The British Commissioner resident at Lucknow
Lucknow
Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh in India. Lucknow is the administrative headquarters of Lucknow District and Lucknow Division....

, Sir Henry Lawrence
Henry Montgomery Lawrence
Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence was a British soldier and statesman in India, who died defending Lucknow during the Indian Mutiny.-Career:Lawrence was the brother of John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence and was born at Matara, Ceylon...

, had enough time to fortify his position inside the Residency compound. The Company forces numbered some 1700 men, including loyal sepoys. The rebels' assaults were unsuccessful, and so they began a barrage of artillery and musket fire into the compound. Lawrence was one of the first casualties. The rebels tried to breach the walls with explosives and bypass them via underground tunnels that led to underground close combat. After 90 days of siege, numbers of Company forces were reduced to 300 loyal sepoys, 350 British soldiers and 550 non-combatants.

On 25 September a relief column under the command of Sir Henry Havelock and accompanied by Sir James Outram
Sir James Outram, 1st Baronet
Lieutenant General Sir James Outram, 1st Baronet GCB KSI was an English general who fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and is considered a British hero.-Early life:...

 (who in theory was his superior) fought its way from Cawnpore to Lucknow in a brief campaign in which the numerically small column defeated rebel forces in a series of increasingly large battles. This became known as 'The First Relief of Lucknow', as this force was not strong enough to break the siege or extricate themselves, and so was forced to join the garrison. In October another, larger, army under the new Commander-in-Chief, Sir Colin Campbell
Colin Campbell, 1st Baron Clyde
Field Marshal Colin Campbell, 1st Baron Clyde GCB, KSI was a British Army officer from Scotland who led the Highland Brigade in the Crimea and was in command of the ‘Thin red line’ at the battle of Balaclava...

, was finally able to relieve the garrison and on 18 November, they evacuated the defended enclave within the city, the women and children leaving first. They then conducted an orderly withdrawal to Cawnpore, where they defeated an attempt by Tantya Tope to recapture the city in the Second Battle of Cawnpore
Second Battle of Cawnpore
The Second Battle of Cawnpore was a battle of Indian rebellion of 1857. It was decisive as it thwarted the rebels' last chance to regain the initiative and recapture the cities of Kanpur and Lucknow.-Background:...

.

Early in 1858, Campbell once again advanced on Lucknow with a large army, this time seeking to suppress the rebellion in Awadh. He was aided by a large Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

ese contingent advancing from the north under Jang Bahadur
Jang Bahadur
Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana was a ruler of Nepal and founder of the Rana dynasty of Nepal...

, who decided to side with the Company in December 1857. Campbell's advance was slow and methodical, and drove the large but disorganised rebel army from Lucknow with few casualties to his own troops. This nevertheless allowed large numbers of the rebels to disperse into Awadh, and Campbell was forced to spend the summer and autumn dealing with scattered pockets of resistance while losing men to heat, disease and guerrilla actions.

Jhansi



Jhansi
Jhansi
Jhansi Hindi:झाँसी, , Marathi: झाशी, is a historical city of India. Jhansi is the administrative headquarters of Jhansi District and Jhansi Division. The original walled city grew up around its stone fort, which crowns a neighboring rock. This district is on the bank of river Betwa.The National...

 was a Maratha
Maratha
The Maratha are an Indian caste, predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. The term Marāthā has three related usages: within the Marathi speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste; outside Maharashtra it can refer to the entire regional population of Marathi-speaking people;...

-ruled princely state
Princely state
A Princely State was a nominally sovereign entitity of British rule in India that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by an Indian ruler under a form of indirect rule such as suzerainty or paramountcy.-British relationship with the Princely States:India under the British Raj ...

 in Bundelkhand
Bundelkhand
Bundelkhand anciently known as Chedi Kingdom is a geographic region of central India...

. When the Raja of Jhansi died without a biological male heir in 1853, it was annexed to the British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 by the Governor-General of India
Governor-General of India
The Governor-General of India was the head of the British administration in India, and later, after Indian independence, the representative of the monarch and de facto head of state. The office was created in 1773, with the title of Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William...

 under the doctrine of lapse
Doctrine of lapse
The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy purportedly devised by Lord Dalhousie, who was the Governor General for the British in India between 1848 and 1856...

. His widow, Rani Lakshmi Bai, protested against the denial of rights of their adopted son.

When war broke out, Jhansi quickly became a centre of the rebellion. A small group of Company officials and their families took refuge in Jhansi
Jhansi
Jhansi Hindi:झाँसी, , Marathi: झाशी, is a historical city of India. Jhansi is the administrative headquarters of Jhansi District and Jhansi Division. The original walled city grew up around its stone fort, which crowns a neighboring rock. This district is on the bank of river Betwa.The National...

's fort, and the Rani negotiated their evacuation. However, when they left the fort they were massacred by the rebels over whom the Rani had no control; the Europeans suspected the Rani of complicity, despite her repeated denials.

By the end of June 1857, the Company had lost control of much of Bundelkhand
Bundelkhand
Bundelkhand anciently known as Chedi Kingdom is a geographic region of central India...

 and eastern Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

. The Bengal Army units in the area, having rebelled, marched to take part in the battles for Delhi and Cawnpore. The many princely states which made up this area began warring amongst themselves. In September and October 1857, the Rani led the successful defence of Jhansi against the invading armies of the neighbouring rajas of Datia
Datia
Datia is a small rural town and a municipality in Datia district in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is the administrative center of Datia District. It was formerly the seat of the eponymous princely state in the British Raj. Datia is situated near Gwalior and on the border with Uttar...

 and Orchha
Orchha
Orchha is a town in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh state, India. The town was established by Maharaja Rudra Pratap Singh in 1501, as the seat of an eponymous former princely state of central India, in the Bundelkhand region. Orchha lies on the Betwa River , 80 km from Tikamgarh &...

.

On 3 February Rose broke the 3-month siege of Saugor. Thousands of local villagers welcomed him as a liberator, freeing them from rebel occupation.

In March 1858, the Central India Field Force, led by Sir Hugh Rose
Hugh Rose, 1st Baron Strathnairn
Field Marshal Hugh Henry Rose, 1st Baron Strathnairn GCB, GCSI, PC was a British Army field-marshal.-Early life:...

, advanced on and laid siege to Jhansi. The Company forces captured the city, but the Rani fled in disguise.

After being driven from Jhansi and Kalpi
Kalpi
Kalpi is a city and a municipal board in Jalaun district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is on the right bank of the Yamuna.-History:...

, on 1 June 1858 Rani Lakshmi Bai and a group of Maratha rebels captured the fortress city of Gwalior from the Scindia rulers, who were British allies. This might have reinvigorated the rebellion but the Central India Field Force very quickly advanced against the city. The Rani died on 17 June, the second day of the Battle of Gwalior probably killed by a carbine shot from the 8th Hussars, according to the account of three independent Indian representatives. The Company forces recaptured Gwalior within the next three days. In descriptions of the scene of her last battle, she was compared to Joan Of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

 by some commentators.

Indore

Colonel Henry Durand
Henry Durand
Henry Durand is credited having songwritten Bright College Years, the Yale University alma mater with Carl Wilhelm. Durand was born in Cincinnati, OH and prepared for Yale at the Hopkins School...

, the then Company resident at Indore
Indore
Indore is one of the major city in India, the largest city and commercial center of the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Indore is located 190 km west of the state capital Bhopal. According to the 2011 Indian census, Indore city has a population of 1,960,631...

 had brushed away any possibility of uprising in Indore. However, on 1 July, sepoys in Holkar's army revolted and opened fire on the pickets of Bhopal Cavalry. When Colonel Travers rode forward to charge, Bhopal Cavalry refused to follow. The Bhopal Infantry also refused orders and instead leveled their guns at European sergeants and officers. Since all possibility of mounting an effective deterrent was lost, Durand decided to gather up all the European residents and escape, although 39 European residents of Indore were killed.

Punjab


What was then referred to by the British as the Punjab was a very large administrative division, centred on Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

. It included not only the present-day Indian and Pakistani Punjabi regions but also the North West Frontier districts bordering Afghanistan.

Much of the region had been the Sikh Empire, ruled by Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

 until his death in 1839. The kingdom had then fallen into disorder, with court factions and the Khalsa
Khalsa
+YouWebImagesVideosMapsNewsMailMoreTranslateFrom: ArabicTo: EnglishEnglishHindiEnglishAllow phonetic typingHindiEnglishArabicAssumptionGoogle Translate for Business:Translator ToolkitWebsite TranslatorGlobal Market Finder...

 (the Sikh army) contending for power at the Lahore Durbar (court). After two Anglo-Sikh Wars, the entire region was annexed by the East India Company in 1849. In 1857, the region still contained the highest numbers of both European and Indian troops.

The inhabitants of the Punjab were not as sympathetic to the sepoys as they were elsewhere in India, which limited many of the outbreaks in the Punjab to disjointed uprisings by regiments of sepoys isolated from each other. In some garrisons, notably Ferozepore, indecision on the part of the senior European officers allowed the sepoys to rebel, but the sepoys then left the area, mostly heading for Delhi. At the most important garrison, that of Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 close to the Afghan frontier, many comparatively junior officers ignored their nominal commander (the elderly General Reed) and took decisive action. They intercepted the sepoys' mail, thus preventing their coordinating an uprising, and formed a force known as the "Punjab Movable Column" to move rapidly to suppress any revolts as they occurred. When it became clear from the intercepted correspondence that some of the sepoys at Peshawar were on the point of open revolt, the four most disaffected Bengal Native regiments were disarmed by the two British infantry regiments in the cantonment, backed by artillery, on 22 May. This decisive act induced many local chieftains to side with the British.


Jhelum in Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 was also a centre of resistance against the British. Here 35 British soldiers of HM XXIV regiment (South Wales Borderers), died on 7 July 1857. To commemorate this victory St. John's Church Jhelum
St. John's Church Jhelum
St. John's Church is located in Jhelum cantonment, Pakistan, beside the river Jhelum. It was built in 1860 and is a landmark of the city. It is a Protestant church and was in use during the British colonial period...

 was built and the names of those 35 British soldiers are carved on a marble lectern
Lectern
A lectern is a reading desk with a slanted top, usually placed on a stand or affixed to some other form of support, on which documents or books are placed as support for reading aloud, as in a scripture reading, lecture, or sermon...

 present in that church.

The final large-scale military uprising in the Punjab took place on 9 July, when most of a brigade of sepoys at Sialkot
Sialkot
Sialkot is a city in Pakistan situated in the north-east of the Punjab province at the foothills of snow-covered peaks of Kashmir near the Chenab river. It is the capital of Sialkot District. The city is about north-west of Lahore and only a few kilometers from Indian-controlled Jammu.The...

 rebelled and began to move to Delhi. They were intercepted by John Nicholson
John Nicholson (general)
Brigadier-General John Nicholson was a Victorian era military officer known for his role in British India. A charismatic and authoritarian figure, Nicholson created a legend for himself as a political officer under Henry Lawrence in the frontier provinces of the British Empire in India...

 with an equal British force as they tried to cross the Ravi River
Ravi River
The Ravi is a trans-boundary river flowing through Northwestern India and eastern Pakistan. It is one of the six rivers of the Indus System in Punjab region ....

. After fighting steadily but unsuccessfully for several hours, the sepoys tried to fall back across the river but became trapped on an island. Three days later, Nicholson annihilated the 1,100 trapped sepoys in the Battle of Trimmu Ghat.

Some regiments in frontier garrisons subsequently rebelled, but became isolated among hostile Pakhtun villages and tribes. There were several mass executions, amounting to several hundred, of sepoys from units which rebelled or who deserted in the Punjab and North West Frontier provinces during June and July . The British had been recruiting irregular units from Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 and Pakhtun communities even before the first unrest among the Bengal units, and the numbers of these were greatly increased during the Rebellion, 34,000 fresh levies eventually being raised.

At one stage, faced with the need to send troops to reinforce the besiegers of Delhi, the Commissioner of the Punjab (Sir John Lawrence) suggested handing the coveted prize of Peshawar to Dost Mohammed Khan of Afghanistan in return for a pledge of friendship. The British Agents in Peshawar and the adjacent districts were horrified. Referring to the massacre of a retreating British army in 1840, Herbert Edwardes
Herbert Benjamin Edwardes
Major-General Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes DCL KCSI KCB was an English administrator, soldier, and statesman active in the Punjab, India. He is best known as the "Hero of Multan" for his pivotal role in securing the British victory in the Second Anglo-Sikh War.-Early life:Edwardes was born at...

 wrote, "Dost Mahomed would not be a mortal Afghan ... if he did not assume our day to be gone in India and follow after us as an enemy. Europeans cannot retreat – Kabul would come again." In the event Lord Canning insisted on Peshawar being held, and Dost Mohammed, whose relations with Britain had been equivocal for over 20 years, remained neutral.

In September 1858 Rae Ahmed Nawaz Khan Kharal
Rae Ahmed Nawaz Khan Kharal
Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal was one of the greatest freedom fighters in the Indian rebellion of 1857.He was a resident of Neeli Bar's famous town Gogera, District Sahiwal. He started his rebellion in a wide area of Punjab, Pakistan covering Ganji Bar, Neeli Bar and Sandal Bar area...

, head of the Khurrul tribe, led an insurrection in the Neeli Bar
Neeli Bar
Neeli Bar is a geographical region in Punjab, Pakistan. It is between the rivers Ravi and Satluj. "Bar" is the name given to areas in Punjab which were thick forests before the arrival of the modern canal irrigation system. Its soil is very fertile, as this plain is formed by the mud that has been...

 district, between the Sutlej, Ravi
Ravi River
The Ravi is a trans-boundary river flowing through Northwestern India and eastern Pakistan. It is one of the six rivers of the Indus System in Punjab region ....

 and Chenab
Chenab River
The Chenab River چنRiver' آب) is a major river of Jammu and Kashmir and the Punjab in Pakistan. It forms in the upper Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows through the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir into the plains of the Punjab, Pakistan...

 rivers. The rebels held the jungles of Gogaira and had some initial successes against the British forces in the area, besieging Major Crawford Chamberlain at Chichawatni
Chichawatni
Chichawatni is a town in the Sahiwal District of the Pakistani province of Punjab. Situated near the Grand Trunk Road, it lies approximately from Sahiwal, the district capital.-Etymology:...

. A squadron of Punjabi cavalry sent by Sir John Lawrence raised the siege. Ahmed Khan was killed but the insurgents found a new leader in Mir Bahawal Fatwanah, who maintained the uprising for three months until Government forces penetrated the jungle and scattered the rebel tribesmen.

Jaunpur


Landlords of the Raghuvamsha clan of Rajputs; Taluqa-Dobhi, District – Jaunpur
Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh
Jaunpur is a city and a municipal board in Jaunpur district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.Jaunpur district is located to the northwest of the district of Varanasi in the eastern part of the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. According to the 2001 census, Jaunpur district had a population...

; played a prominent part in the Rebellion. On hearing of the uprisings against British rule in the surrounding districts of Ghazipur, Azamgarh and Banaras, the Rajputs of Dobhi organised themselves into an armed force and attacked the Company all over the region. They also cut the Company communications along the Banaras-Azamgarh road and advanced towards the former Banaras State.

In the first encounter with the British regular troops, the Rajputs suffered heavy losses, but withdrew in order. Regrouping themselves, they made a bid to capture Banaras. In the meantime, Azamgarh had been besieged by another large force of rebels. The Company was unable to send reinforcement to Azamgarh due to the challenge posed by the Dobhi Rajputs. A clash became inevitable and the Company attacked the Rajputs with the help of the Sikhs and the Hindustani cavalry at the end of June 1857. The Rajputs were handicapped as the torrential monsoon rains soaked their supplies of gun-powder. The Rajputs, however, bitterly opposed the Company advance with swords and spears and the few serviceable guns and muskets that they had. The battle took place about 5 miles North of Banaras at a place called Pisnaharia-ka-Inar. The Rajputs were driven back with heavy losses across the Gomti river. The British army crossed the river and sacked every Rajput village in the area.

A few months later, Kunwar Singh of Jagdispur
Jagdispur
Jagdispur is a sub division of the district Bhojpur of the state of Bihar state in eastern India. Having a golden historical background, this great historical place is related to the Babu Veer Kunwar Singh, the great freedom fighter of 1857...

 (District Arrah
Arrah
Arrah is a city and a municipal corporation in Bhojpur district in the state of Bihar, India. The actual name of Arrah is Ara but it was misspelt by the British and now corrected to Ara but still known as Arrah in many records. It is the district headquarters of Bhojpur district, located near the...

, Bihar), advanced and occupied Azamgarh
Azamgarh
Azamgarh is a town in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is headquarters of Azamgarh district and Azamgarh Division.-History:Azamgarh, one of the easternmost districts of the State, once formed a part of the ancient Kosala kingdom, except the north-eastern part of it which was included in the...

. The Banaras Army sent against him was defeated outside Azamgarh. The Company rushed reinforcements and there was a furious battle in which the Rajputs of Dobhi helped Kunwar Singh, their distant relative. Kunwar Singh had to withdraw and the Rajputs became the subject of cruel reprisals by the Company. The leaders of the Dobhi Rajputs were invited to a conference and treacherously arrested by the Company troops which had surrounded the place in Senapur village in May 1858. All were summarily executed by hanging from a mango tree, along with nine of their other followers. The dead bodies were further shot with muskets and left hanging from the trees. After few days, the bodies were taken down by the villagers and cremated.

Arrah


Kunwar Singh, the 75 year old Rajput Raja of Jagdispur
Jagdispur
Jagdispur is a sub division of the district Bhojpur of the state of Bihar state in eastern India. Having a golden historical background, this great historical place is related to the Babu Veer Kunwar Singh, the great freedom fighter of 1857...

, whose estate was in the process of being sequestrated by the Revenue Board, instigated and assumed the leadership of revolt in Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

.

On 25 July, rebellion erupted in the garrisons of Dinapur. The rebels quickly moved towards the cities of Arrah
Arrah
Arrah is a city and a municipal corporation in Bhojpur district in the state of Bihar, India. The actual name of Arrah is Ara but it was misspelt by the British and now corrected to Ara but still known as Arrah in many records. It is the district headquarters of Bhojpur district, located near the...

 and were joined by Kunwar Singh and his men. Mr. Boyle, a British railway engineer in Arrah, had already prepared his house for defense against such attacks-particular because he was a railway engineer. As the rebels approached Arrah, all European residents took refuge at Mr. Boyle's house. A siege soon ensued and 50 loyal sepoys defended the house against artillery and musketry fire from the rebels.

On 29 July 400 men were sent out from Dinapore to relieve Arrah, but this force was ambushed by the rebels around a mile away from the siege house, severely defeated, and driven back. On 30 July, Major Vincent Eyre, who was going up the river with his troops and guns, reached Buxar and heard about the siege. He immediately disembarked his guns and troops (the 5th Fusiliers) and started marching towards Arrah. On 2 August, some 16 miles (25.7 km) short of Arrah, the Major was ambushed by the rebels. After an intense fight, the 5th Fusiliers charged and stormed the rebel positions successfully. On 3 August, Major Eyre and his men reached the siege house and successfully ended the siege.

British Empire


The authorities in British colonies with an Indian population, sepoy or civilian, took measures to secure themselves against copycat uprisings. In the Straits Settlements
Straits Settlements
The Straits Settlements were a group of British territories located in Southeast Asia.Originally established in 1826 as part of the territories controlled by the British East India Company, the Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a crown colony on 1 April 1867...

, and Trinidad
Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

 the annual Hosay processions were banned, riots broke out in penal settlements in Burma, and the Settlements, in Penang the loss of a musket provoked a near riot, and security was boosted especially in locations with an Indian convict population.

Aftermath



From the end of 1857, the British had begun to gain ground again. Lucknow was retaken in March 1858. On 8 July 1858, a peace treaty was signed and the rebellion ended. The last rebels were defeated in Gwalior on 20 June 1858. By 1859, rebel leaders Bakht Khan
Bakht Khan
Bakht Khan Rohilla was nominal commander-in-chief of Indian rebel forces in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the East India Company.-Background:...

 and Nana Sahib
Nana Sahib
Nana Sahib , born as Dhondu Pant, was an Indian leader during the Rebellion of 1857. As the adopted son of the exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II, he sought to restore the Maratha confederacy and the Peshwa tradition....

 had either been slain or had fled.

The rebels murder of women, children and wounded British soldiers at Cawnpore
Siege of Cawnpore
The Siege of Cawnpore was a key episode in the Indian rebellion of 1857. The besieged British in Cawnpore were unprepared for an extended siege and surrendered to rebel Indian forces under Nana Sahib, in return for a safe passage to Allahabad. However, under ambiguous circumstances, their...

, and the subsequent printing of the events in the British papers, left many British soldiers seeking revenge. As well as hanging mutineers, the British had some "blown from cannon
Blowing from a gun
Blowing from a gun is a method of execution in which the victim is tied to the mouth of a cannon and the cannon is fired. This method of execution was used by British troops during the Indian Rebellion of 1857...

" (an old Mughal punishment adopted many years before in India). Sentenced rebels were tied over the mouths of cannons and blown to pieces when the gun was fired.

Most of the British press, outraged by the reports of rape and the killings of civilians and wounded British soldiers, did not advocate clemency of any kind. Governor General Canning
Charles Canning, 1st Earl Canning
Charles John Canning, 1st Earl Canning KG, GCB, PC , known as The Viscount Canning from 1837 to 1859, was an English statesman and Governor-General of India during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.-Background and education:...

 ordered moderation in dealing with native sensibilities and earned the scornful sobriquet "Clemency Canning" from the public.

In terms of sheer numbers, the casualties were much higher on the Indian side. A letter published after the fall of Delhi in the "Bombay Telegraph" and reproduced in the British press testified to the scale of the Indian casualties:

.... All the city's people found within the walls of the city of Delhi when our troops entered were bayoneted on the spot, and the number was considerable, as you may suppose, when I tell you that in some houses forty and fifty people were hiding. These were not mutineers but residents of the city, who trusted to our well-known mild rule for pardon. I am glad to say they were disappointed.


Edward Vibart, a 19-year-old officer, recorded his experience:

Some British troops adopted a policy of "no prisoners". One officer, Thomas Lowe, remembered how on one occasion his unit had taken 76 prisoners – they were just too tired to carry on killing and needed a rest, he recalled. Later, after a quick trial, the prisoners were lined up with a British soldier standing a couple of yards in front of them. On the order "fire", they were all simultaneously shot, "swept... from their earthly existence".


The aftermath of the rebellion has been the focus of new work using Indian sources and population studies. In The Last Mughal
The Last Mughal
The Last Mughal, The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 is a 2006 historical book by William Dalrymple.-Summary:The book, Dalrymple's sixth, won praise for its use of "The Mutiny Papers", which included previously ignored Indian accounts of the events of 1857...

, historian William Dalrymple examines the effects on the Muslim population of Delhi after the city was retaken by the British and finds that intellectual and economic control of the city shifted from Muslim to Hindu hands because the British, at that time, saw an Islamic hand behind the mutiny.

Reaction in Britain



The scale of the punishments handed out by the British "Army of Retribution" were considered largely appropriate and justified in a Britain shocked by reports of atrocities carried out on British and European civilians, and local Christians by the rebels Accounts of the time frequently reach the "hyperbolic register", according to Christopher Herbert, especially in the often-repeated claim that the "Red Year" of 1857 marked "a terrible break" in British experience. Such was the atmosphere – a national "mood of retribution and despair" that led to "almost universal approval" of the measures taken to pacify the revolt.

The incidents of rape committed by Indian rebels against European women and girls appalled the British public. These atrocities were often used to justify the British reaction to the rebellion. British newspapers
History of British newspapers
During the 17th century, there were many kinds of publications, that told both news and rumours. Among these were pamphlets, posters, ballads etc. Even when the news periodicals emerged, many of these co-existed with them. A news periodical differs from these mainly because of its periodicity...

 printed various eyewitness accounts of the rape of English women and girls. One such account published by The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, regarding an incident where 48 English girls as young as 10 had been raped by Indian rebels in Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

. Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 later claimed that this was propaganda stating that the account was written by a clergyman in Bangalore
Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

, far from the events of the rebellion, though he produced no evidence to support this. Individual incidents captured the public's interest and were heavily reported by the press. One such incident was that of General Wheeler's daughter Margaret being forced to live as her captor's concubine, though this was reported to the Victorian public as Margaret killing her rapist then herself. Another version of the story suggested that Margaret had been killed after her abductor had argued with his wife over her.

The poet Martin Tupper – "in a ferment of indignation" – played a major part in shaping the public's response. His poems, filled with calls for the razing of Delhi and the erection of "groves of gibbets" are telling:
"And England, now avenge their wrongs by vengeance deep and dire,/ Cut out their canker
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 with the sword, and burn it out with fire;/ Destroy those traitor regions, hang every pariah hound,/ And hunt them down to death, in all hills and cities ‘round."


Punch
Punch (magazine)
Punch, or the London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration...

, normally cynical and dispassionate where other periodicals were jingoistic, in August published a two-page cartoon depicting the British Lion attacking a Bengal Tiger that had attacked an English woman and child; the cartoon received considerable attention at the time, with the New York Times writing a piece about it in September as emblematic of a near-universal British desire for revenge. It was re-issued as a print, and made the career of John Tenniel
John Tenniel
Sir John Tenniel was a British illustrator, graphic humorist and political cartoonist whose work was prominent during the second half of England’s 19th century. Tenniel is considered important to the study of that period’s social, literary, and art histories...

, later famous as the illustrator of Alice in Wonderland.
According to Victorianist Patrick Brantlinger, no event raised national hysteria in Britain to a higher pitch, and no event in the 19th century took a greater hold on the British imagination, so much so that "Victorian writing about the Mutiny expresses in concentrated form the racist ideology that Edward Said
Edward Said
Edward Wadie Saïd was a Palestinian-American literary theorist and advocate for Palestinian rights. He was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a founding figure in postcolonialism...

 calls Orientalism
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

". Others note that this was just one of a number of colonial rebellions which had a cumulative effect on British public opinion

The term 'Sepoy' or 'Sepoyism' became a derogatory term for nationalists especially in Ireland.

Reorganization



Bahadur Shah was tried for treason by a military commission assembled at Delhi, and exiled to Rangoon where he died in 1862, bringing the Mughal dynasty to an end. In 1877 Queen Victoria took the title of Empress of India on the advice of Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli
Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield
Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS, was a British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure. Starting from comparatively humble origins, he served in government for three decades, twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom...

.

The rebellion saw the end of the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

's rule in India. In August, by the Government of India Act 1858
Government of India Act 1858
The Government of India Act 1858 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed on August 2, 1858. Its provisions called for the liquidation of the British East India Company and the transference of its functions to the British Crown...

, the company was formally dissolved and its ruling powers over India were transferred to the British Crown. A new British government department, the India Office
India Office
The India Office was a British government department created in 1858 to oversee the colonial administration of India, i.e. the modern-day nations of Bangladesh, Burma, India, and Pakistan, as well as territories in South-east and Central Asia, the Middle East, and parts of the east coast of Africa...

, was created to handle the governance of India, and its head, the Secretary of State for India
Secretary of State for India
The Secretary of State for India, or India Secretary, was the British Cabinet minister responsible for the government of India and the political head of the India Office...

, was entrusted with formulating Indian policy. The Governor-General of India gained a new title (Viceroy of India), and implemented the policies devised by the India Office. The British colonial administration embarked on a program of reform, trying to integrate Indian higher castes and rulers into the government and abolishing attempts at Westernization
Westernization
Westernization or Westernisation , also occidentalization or occidentalisation , is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in such matters as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, language, alphabet,...

. The Viceroy stopped land grabs, decreed religious tolerance and admitted Indians into civil service, albeit mainly as subordinates.

Essentially the old East India Company bureaucracy remained, though there was a major shift in attitudes. In looking for the causes of the Mutiny the authorities alighted on two things: religion and the economy. On religion it was felt that there had been too much interference with indigenous traditions, both Hindu and Muslim. On the economy it was now believed that the previous attempts by the Company to introduce free market competition had undermined traditional power structures and bonds of loyalty placing the peasantry at the mercy of merchants and money-lenders. In consequence the new British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 was constructed in part around a conservative agenda, based on a preservation of tradition and hierarchy.

On a political level it was also felt that the previous lack of consultation between rulers and ruled had been yet another significant factor in contributing to the uprising. In consequence, Indians were drawn into government at a local level. Though this was on a limited scale a crucial precedent had been set, with the creation of a new 'white collar' Indian elite, further stimulated by the opening of universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, a result of the Indian Universities Act. So, alongside the values of traditional and ancient India, a new professional middle class was starting to arise, in no way bound by the values of the past. Their ambition can only have been stimulated by Victoria's Proclamation of November 1858, in which it is expressly stated that "We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to our other subjects...it is our further will that... our subjects of whatever race or creed, be freely and impartially admitted to offices in our service, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability and integrity, duly to discharge."

Acting on these sentiments, Lord Ripon
George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon
George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon KG, GCSI, CIE, PC , known as Viscount Goderich from 1833 to 1859 and as the Earl de Grey and Ripon from 1859 to 1871, was a British politician who served in every Liberal cabinet from 1861 until his death forty-eight years later.-Background...

, viceroy from 1880 to 1885, extended the powers of local self-government and sought to remove racial practices in the law courts by the Ilbert Bill
Ilbert Bill
The Ilbert Bill was a bill introduced in 1883 for British India by Viceroy Ripon that proposed an amendment for existing laws in the country at the time to allow Indian judges and magistrates the jurisdiction to try British offenders in criminal cases at the District level, something that was...

. But a policy at once liberal and progressive at one turn was reactionary and backward at the next, creating new elites and confirming old attitudes. The Ilbert Bill only had the effect of causing a White mutiny
White mutiny
The term White Mutiny may refer to one of three things:* A form of nonviolent protest, usually military, where personnel who object to stupid or ridiculous orders follow them exactly, pointing out the ineptitude of their commander by doing precisely what he ordered...

, and the end of the prospect of perfect equality before the law. In 1886 measures were adopted to restrict Indian entry into the civil service.

Military reorganization


The Bengal army dominated the Indian army before 1857 and a direct result after the rebellion was the scaling back of the size of the Bengali contingent in the army. The Brahmin presence in the Bengal Army was reduced in the late nineteenth century because of their perceived primary role as mutineers. The British looked for increased recruitment in the Punjab for the Bengal army as a result of the apparent discontent that resulted in the Sepoy conflict.

The rebellion transformed both the "native" and European armies of British India. Of the 74 regular Bengal Native Infantry regiments in existence at the beginning of 1857 only twelve escaped mutiny or disbandment. All ten of the Bengal Light Cavalry regiments were lost. The old Bengal Army had accordingly almost completely vanished from the order of battle. These troops were replaced by new units recruited from castes hitherto under-utilised by the British and from the minority so-called "Martial Races", such as the Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s and the Gurkha
Gurkha
Gurkha are people from Nepal who take their name from the Gorkha District. Gurkhas are best known for their history in the Indian Army's Gorkha regiments, the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas and the Nepalese Army. Gurkha units are closely associated with the kukri, a forward-curving Nepalese knife...

s.

The inefficiencies of the old organisation, which had estranged sepoys from their British officers, were addressed, and the post-1857 units were mainly organised on the "irregular" system. Before the rebellion each Bengal Native Infantry regiment had 26 British officers, who held every position of authority down to the second-in-command of each company. In irregular units there were few European officers who associated themselves far more closely with their soldiers, while more responsibility was given to the Indian officers.

The British increased the ratio of British to Indian soldiers within India. From 1861 Indian artillery was replaced by British units, except for a few mountain batteries. The post-rebellion changes formed the basis of the military organisation of British India until the early 20th century.

Nomenclature


There is no universally agreed name for the events of this period.

In India and Pakistan it has been termed as the "War of Independence of 1857" or "First War of Indian Independence" but it is not uncommon to use terms such as the "Revolt of 1857". The concept of the Rebellion being "First War of Independence" is not without its critics in India.
The use of the term "Indian Mutiny" is considered by some Indian politicians as belittling what they see as a "First War of Independence" and therefore reflecting a imperialistic attitude. Others dispute this interpretation.

In the UK and parts of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 it is commonly called the "Indian Mutiny", but terms such as "Great Indian Mutiny", the "Sepoy Mutiny", the "Sepoy Rebellion", the "Sepoy War", the "Great Mutiny", the "Rebellion of 1857", "the Uprising", the "Mahomedan Rebellion",and the "Revolt of 1857" have also been used. "The Indian Insurrection" was a name used in the press of the UK and British colonies at the time.

Historiography


Adas (1971) examines the historiography with emphasis on the four major approaches: the Indian nationalist view; the Marxist analysis; the view of the Mutiny as a traditionalist rebellion; and intensive studies of local uprisings.

Almost from the moment the first sepoys mutinied in Meerut, the nature and the scope of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 has been contested and argued over. Speaking in the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 in July 1857, Benjamin Disraeli labeled it a 'national revolt' while Lord Palmerston, the Prime Minister, tried to downplay the scope and the significance of the event as a 'mere military mutiny'. Reflecting this debate, the early historian of the rebellion, Charles Ball, sided with the mutiny in his title (using mutiny and sepoy insurrection) but labeled it a 'struggle for liberty and independence as a people' in the text. Historians remain divided on whether the rebellion can properly be considered a war of Indian independence or not, although it is popularly considered to be one in India. Arguments against include:
  • A united India did not exist at that time in political, cultural, or ethnic terms
  • The rebellion was put down with the help of other Indian soldiers drawn from the Madras Army, the Bombay Army and the Sikh regiments, 80% of the East India Company forces were Indian;
  • Many of the local rulers fought amongst themselves rather than uniting against the British.
  • Many rebel Sepoy regiments disbanded and went home rather than fight.
  • Not all of the rebels accepted the return of the Moghuls.
  • The King of Delhi had no real control over the mutineers.
  • The revolt was largely limited to north and central India. Whilst risings occurred elsewhere they had little impact due to their limited nature.
  • A number of revolts occurred in areas not under British rule, and against native rulers, often as a result of local internal politics.
  • The revolt was fractured along religious, ethnic and regional lines.


A second school of thought while acknowledging the validity of the above-mentioned arguments opines that this rebellion may indeed be called a war of India's independence. The reasons advanced are:
  • Even though the rebellion had various causes (e.g. Sepoy grievances, British high-handedness, the Doctrine of Lapse
    Doctrine of lapse
    The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy purportedly devised by Lord Dalhousie, who was the Governor General for the British in India between 1848 and 1856...

     etc.), most of the rebel sepoys who were able to do so, made their way to Delhi to revive the old Mughal empire
    Mughal Empire
    The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

     that signified a national symbol for even the Hindus amongst them.

  • There was a widespread popular revolt in many areas such as Awadh
    Awadh
    Awadh , also known in various British historical texts as Oudh or Oude derived from Ayodhya, is a region in the centre of the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh...

    , Bundelkhand
    Bundelkhand
    Bundelkhand anciently known as Chedi Kingdom is a geographic region of central India...

     and Rohilkhand
    Rohilkhand
    Rohilkhand is a region of northwestern Uttar Pradesh state of India.Rohilkhand lies on the upper Ganges alluvial plain and has an area of about 25,000 km²/10,000 square miles...

    . The rebellion was therefore more than just a military rebellion, and it spanned more than one region;
  • The sepoys did not seek to revive small kingdoms in their regions, instead they repeatedly proclaimed a "country-wide rule" of the Moghuls and vowed to drive out the British from "India", as they knew it then. (The sepoys ignored local princes and proclaimed in cities they took over: Khalq Khuda Ki, Mulk Badshah Ka, Hukm Subahdar Sipahi Bahadur Ka – i.e. the people belong to God, the country to the Emperor and authority to the Sepoy Commandant). The objective of driving out "foreigners" from not only one's own area but from their conception of the entirety of "India", signifies a nationalist sentiment;
  • The mutineers, although some were recruited from outside Oudah, displayed a common purpose.

The 150th anniversary


The Government of India celebrated the year 2007 as the 150th anniversary of "India's First War of Independence". Several books written by Indian authors were released in the anniversary year including Amresh Mishra's "War of Civilizations" a controversial history of the Rebellion of 1857, and "Recalcitrance" by Anurag Kumar, one of the few novels written in English by an Indian based on the events of 1857.

In 2007, a group of retired British soldiers and civilians, some of them descendants of British soldiers who died in the conflict, attempted to visit the site of the Siege of Lucknow. However, fears of violence by Indian demonstrators, supported by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
The Bharatiya Janata Party ,; translation: Indian People's Party) is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Indian National Congress. Established in 1980, it is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in the parliament...

, prevented the British visitors from visiting the site. Despite the protests, Sir Mark Havelock was able to make his way past police in order to visit the grave of his ancestor, General Henry Havelock.

In popular culture


Ketan Mehta
Ketan Mehta
Ketan Mehta is an Indian film director, who has also directed documentaries and television serials.-Early life and education:Born in Navsari in Gujarat, Ketan Mehta did his schooling from Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Delhi and later graduated in film direction from Film and Television Institute of...

's Hindi film, Mangal Pandey: The Rising
Mangal Pandey: The Rising
Mangal Pandey: The Rising or The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey is an Indian movie based on the life of Mangal Pandey, an Indian soldier who is known for his role in the Indian Mutiny of 1857. It is directed by Ketan Mehta, produced by Bobby Bedi, and with a screenplay by Farrukh Dhondy...

(2005) is about the life of Mangal Pandey
Mangal Pandey
Mangal Pandey was a sepoy in the 34th Regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry of the English East India Company. He is widely known in India as one of its first freedom fighters...

, an Indian soldier who is known for his role in rebellion. The historical play 1857: Ek Safarnama by Javed Siddiqui
Javed Siddiqui
Javed Siddiqui is a Hindi and Urdu screenwriter, dialogue writer and playwright from India. He has written over 50 storylines, screenplays and dialogues....

 is set Rebellion of 1857, which was also stage at Purana Qila, Delhi ramparts by Nadira Babbar
Nadira Babbar
Nadira Babbar is an Indian theatre actress, director and an actress in Hindi cinema, who is the recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2001. A leading name in Indian theatre, Nadira founded a Mumbai-based theatre group called Ekjute, a known name in Hindi theatre in 1981...

 and National School of Drama
National School of Drama
National School of Drama is a theatre training institute situated at New Delhi, India, established . It is an autonomous organization under Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It was set up in 1959 by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, and became an independent school in 1975...

 Repertory company, in 2008.

See also


:Category:Places of Indian Rebellion of 1857
  • :Raja Nahar Singh
  • George Richardson (VC)
    George Richardson (VC)
    George Richardson VC was born in Derrylane, Killeshandra, County Cavan and was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:He was 27 years old, and a private...


Other histories

  • Mishra, Amaresh. 2007. War of Civilisations: The Long Revolution (India AD 1857, 2 Vols.), ISBN 9788129112828
  • Ward, Andrew. Our Bones Are Scattered. New York: Holt & Co., 1996.

First person accounts and classic histories

  • Barter, Captain Richard The Siege of Delhi. Mutiny memories of an old officer, London, The Folio Society
    Folio Society
    The Folio Society is a book club based in London that produces new editions of classic books. Their books are notable for their high quality bindings and original illustrations...

    , 1984.
  • Campbell, Sir Colin. Narrative of the Indian Revolt. London: George Vickers, 1858.
  • Collier, Richard. The Great Indian Mutiny. New York: Dutton, 1964.
  • Forrest, George W. A History of the Indian Mutiny, William Blackwood and Sons, London, 1904. (4 vols).
  • Fitchett, W.H., B.A.,LL.D., A Tale of the Great Mutiny, Smith, Elder & Co., London, 1911.
  • Inglis, Julia Selina, Lady, 1833–1904, The Siege of Lucknow: a Diary, London: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., 1892. Online at A Celebration of Women Writers.
  • Innes, Lt. General McLeod
    James John McLeod Innes
    Lieutenant General James John McLeod Innes VC CB was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.Born in British India to Scottish parents Innes was educated...

    : The Sepoy Revolt, A.D. Innes & Co., London, 1897.
  • Kaye, John William. A History of the Sepoy War In India (3 vols). London: W.H. Allen & Co., 1878.
  • Kaye, Sir John & Malleson, G.B.: The Indian Mutiny of 1857, Rupa & Co., Delhi, (1st edition 1890) reprint 2005.
  • Malleson, Colonel G.B. The Indian Mutiny of 1857. New York: Scribner & Sons, 1891.
  • Marx, Karl & Freidrich Engels. The First Indian War of Independence 1857–1859. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1959.
  • Pandey, Sita Ram, From Sepoy to Subedar, Being the Life and Adventures of Subedar Sita Ram, a Native Officer of the Bengal Native Army, Written and Related by Himself, trans. Lt. Col. Norgate, (Lahore: Bengal Staff Corps, 1873), ed. James Lunt, (Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1970).
  • Raikes, Charles: Notes on the Revolt in the North-Western Provinces of India, Longman
    Longman
    Longman was a publishing company founded in London, England in 1724. It is now an imprint of Pearson Education.-Beginnings:The Longman company was founded by Thomas Longman , the son of Ezekiel Longman , a gentleman of Bristol. Thomas was apprenticed in 1716 to John Osborn, a London bookseller, and...

    , London, 1858.
  • Roberts, Field Marshal Lord
    Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts
    Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Bt, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, KStJ, PC was a distinguished Indian born British soldier who regarded himself as Anglo-Irish and one of the most successful British commanders of the 19th century.-Early life:Born at Cawnpore, India, on...

    , Forty-one Years in India, Richard Bentley, London, 1897
  • Russell, William Howard, My Diary in India in the years 1858-9, Routledge
    Routledge
    Routledge is a British publishing house which has operated under a succession of company names and latterly as an academic imprint. Its origins may be traced back to the 19th-century London bookseller George Routledge...

    , London, 1860, (2 vols.)
  • Sen, Surendra Nath, Eighteen fifty-seven, (with a foreword by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad), Indian Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Delhi, 1957.
  • Thomson, Mowbray
    Mowbray Thomson
    General Sir Mowbray Thomson was a British Army officer.He was born in 1832, and travelled to India at an early age. In 1853 he joined the 53rd Bengal Native Infantry – a regiment with Indian troops and white officers - as a subaltern, and in early 1857 moved with the regiment to Cawnpore...

     (Capt.), The Story of Cawnpore, Richard Bentley, London, 1859.
  • Trevelyan, Sir George Otto, Cawnpore, Indus, Delhi, (first edition 1865), reprint 2002.
  • Wilberforce, Reginald G, An Unrecorded Chapter of the Indian Mutiny, Being the Personal Reminiscences of Reginald G. WIlberforce, Late 52nd Infantry, Compiled from a Diary and Letters Written on the Spot London: John Murray 1884, facsimile reprint: Gurgaon: The Academic Press, 1976.

Tertiary sources

  • "Indian Mutiny." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Online. http://www.eb.com:180/cgi-bin/g?DocF=micro/342/91.html. 23 March 1998.
  • "Lee-Enfield Rifle." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 March 1998.

Fictional and narrative literature

  • Conan Doyle, Arthur
    Arthur Conan Doyle
    Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

    . The Sign of the Four, featuring Sherlock Holmes, originally appearing in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine
    Lippincott's Monthly Magazine
    Lippincott's Monthly Magazine was a 19th century literary magazine published in Philadelphia from 1868 to 1915, when it relocated to New York to become McBride's Magazine. It merged with Scribner's Magazine in 1916....

    1890.
  • Farrell, J.G. The Siege of Krishnapur
    The Siege of Krishnapur
    The Siege of Krishnapur is a novel by the author J. G. Farrell, published in 1973.Inspired by events such as the sieges of Cawnpore and Lucknow, the book details the siege of a fictional Indian town during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 from the perspective of the British residents...

    . New York: Carroll & Graf, 1985 (orig. 1973; Booker Prize winner).
  • Fenn, Clive Robert. For the Old Flag: A Tale of the Mutiny. London: Sampson Low, 1899.
  • Fraser, George MacDonald
    George MacDonald Fraser
    George MacDonald Fraser, OBE was an English-born author of Scottish descent, who wrote both historical novels and non-fiction books, as well as several screenplays.-Early life and military career:...

    . Flashman in the Great Game. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1975.
  • Grant, James
    James Grant (newspaper editor)
    James Grant was a British newspaper editorGrant helped to found the Elgin Courier in 1827, editing it until 1833. Moving to London, he worked on the Standard, the Morning Chronicle and the Morning Advertiser. He also edited the London Saturday Journal and Grant's London Journal...

    . First Love and Last Love: A Tale of the Mutiny. New York: G. Routledge & Sons, 1869.
  • Kaye, Mary Margaret. Shadow of the Moon. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979.
  • Kilworth, Garry Douglas. Brothers of the Blade: Constable & Robinson, 2004.
  • Leasor, James
    James Leasor
    James Leasor was a prolific British author, who wrote historical books and thrillers. Leasor's 1978 book, Boarding Party, about an incident that took place in the Second World War, was turned into a film, The Sea Wolves, starring Gregory Peck, Roger Moore and David Niven.-Biography:Leasor was born...

    . the Drum. London: Heinemann, 1972, reissued James Leasor Ltd, 2011.
  • Masters, John
    John Masters
    Lieutenant Colonel John Masters, DSO was an English officer in the British Indian Army and novelist. His works are noted for their treatment of the British Empire in India.-Life:...

    . Nightrunners of Bengal. New York: Viking Press, 1951.
  • Raikes, William Stephen. 12 Years of a Soldier's Life In India. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1860.
  • Rossetti, Christina Georgina. "In the Round Tower at Jhansi, 8 June 1857." Goblin Market and Other Poems. 1862.
  • Anurag Kumar
    Anurag Kumar
    Prof. Anurag Kumar is currently a professor at the Department of Electrical Communication and the chairman of Electrical Sciences Division at Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India. He holds a PhD from Cornell University, obtained after graduating from Dhirubhai Ambani International School....

    . Recalcitrance: a novel based on events of 1857–58 in Lucknow. Lucknow: AIP Books, Lucknow 2008.
  • Stuart, V.A. The Alexander Sheridan Series: # 2: 1964. The Sepoy Mutiny; # 3: 1974. Massacre at Cawnpore; # 4: 1974. The Cannons of Lucknow; 1975. # 5: The Heroic Garrison. Reprinted 2003 by McBooks Press. (Note: # 1 – Victors & Lords deals with the Crimean War.)



External links