Indian Rebellion of 1857
A 1912 map of 'Northern India
The Revolt of 1857-59' showing
the centres of rebellion
including the principal ones:
Meerut, Delhi, Cawnpore
(Kanpur), Lucknow, Jhansi, and
10 May 1857 - 1859
India (cf. 1857)
Final collapse of the Mughal Empire;
end of Company rule in India
Control taken by the British Crown
British Indian Empire created out of
former-East India Company territory,
some land returned to native rulers,
other land confiscated by the Crown.
The Revolt of 1857
We could subdue the mutiny of 1857,
formidable as it was, because it spread
through only a part of the army, because
people did not actively sympathize with it,
and because it was possible to find native
Indian races who would fight on our side.
But the moment a mutiny is but
threatened, which shall be no mere
mutiny, but the expression of a universal
feeling of nationality, at that moment all
hope is at an end, as all desire should be at
an end, of our preserving our Empire -- Sir
John Seeley (quoted by Tarling)
India's First War of
India's First War of Independence, termed
Sepoy Riots by the British was an attempt to
unite India against the invading British and to
restore power to the Mogul emperor Bahadur
Shah. The resistance disintegrated primarily due
to lack of leadership and unity on the part of
Indians, as also to cruel suppression by the
British Army. It was a remarkable event in Indian
history and marked the end of the Mughal
empire and sealed India's fate as a British colony
for the next 100 years.
Causes for the Revolt
There were many causes that ultimately lead
to this revolt. For the sake of convenience
they can divided into the following
1.Social and Religious Causes
A. Change in pattern of trade and commerce
During the first two hundred years of its rule , the British East India Company
confined its activities to trade and commerce. But in the 18th century the pattern of
trade underwent a drastic change. With the onset of the the industrial revolution in
England, many new industries came up and the dependance on Indian textiles came
to an end. India became a raw material producing country and raw material which
was purchased from India at very low costs was processed into finished goods in the
factories in England and then exported back to India. British traders made enormous
profits in this two way trade.
B. Ruination of Artisans and Craftsmen
C. Disgruntled Zamindars and Taluqdars
The estates of many landlords were taken over by the East India Company when the
native provinces came under the company's dominion. The estates of 21,000
Taluqdars were confiscated when Oudh was annexed. The dispossesed landlords
found themselves without a source on income, ashamed to beg,unable to work and
thus condemned to penury.
D. Disbanded soldiers were seething with anger and were determined to revenge.
E. Activities Of Missionaries
The Indians had a lurking suspicion in their minds that they
would be converted to Christianity under the new regime.
Churches and chaplains were established at Govt.
expenses , even civil and military officers propogated the
F. New Laws
The introduction of certain laws unsettled the mind of the
Indians. Some of them were :
Sati Ban Act
Widow Remarriage Act
They even looked upon the reforming zeal of British officials with
suspicion. They were against introduction of railways as all the
castes would have to travel in the same compartment. They
were shocked when a law was passed allowing Hindu converts to
Christianity to inherit their ancestral property.
A. Lord Dalhousies Policy Of Annexation (Doctrine of Lapse)
According to this policy the rulers of native princes could not install
their adopted son on the throne. This was opposed to Nana Sahib the adopted son of PeshwaBajiRao II as he was refused the pension
his father had been getting. Rani LaxmiBai was also not allowed to
install her adopted son on the throne. The house of the Mughals
was humbled when it was announced that the successors of
Bahadur Shah Zafar would not be allowed to use the title of King
and would not be allowed to use the Historc Red Fort as thier
palace and had to move to a place near the QutbMinar.
B. British disregard of treaties and pledges
C. Exposure of myth of British Invincibilty
The British had suffered very heavy losses in the 1st Afghan War , the rebellion of
the Santhal tribes of Bihar and Orissa and the Crimean War. Moreover the people
believed that the British rule had started after the battle of Plassey in 1757 and
would end after the completion of a century
A. Ill-Treatment of Indian Soldiers in The East India Company
B. Deprivation of foreign service allowance (Bhatta)
C. General Services Enlistment Act
According to this act the Indian soldiers in the EI Company had the
obligation to serve wherever required. The extension of British frontiers
involved their presence in strange, different lands. They dreaded sea voyage
and considered it against their customs
D. Enfield Rifles
This was perhaps the immediate cause of the revolt. The British
introduced new rifles which had cartridges greased with the fat of
cows and pigs. The cover had to be plucked out by the teet before
using. The Hindu and Muslim sepoys refused tot ouch these
Events Of The Revolt
Feb 19, 1857 - Chupatties, little cakes which are the common food of the people, were sent from
town to town as a signal of revolt , and on February 19,1857, the first troops mutinied. This was
only the beginning; the message of the chupatties spread further and further, but ...General
Hearsey, the commander of the Bengal division, instantly took what steps he could to prove to
the sepoys that the government had no intention of making them break their caste, but it was
too late. Chupatties, little cakes which are the common food of the people, were sent from town
to town as a signal of revolt , and on February 19,1857, the first troops mutinied. This was only
the beginning; the message of the chupatties spread further and further, but even now the ...
Mar 29, 1857 - The revolt was sparked off on March 29, 1857. • MangalPandey, a Brahmin
Sepoy , fired at the AdjucantSurgeant Bath. • The 3rd cavalry regiment at Meerut refused to
touch the greased cartridges and broke out in open rebellion.
Apr 5, 1857 - After the death of MangalPandey on April 5, 1857, the revolt spread all over the
nation. During the days of the revolt, Kunwar was already 80 years of age. But deep within, he
was as energetic as a lion. The thirst for liberation of the country seemed to ...After the death of
Mangal Pandey on April 5, 1857, the revolt spread all over the nation. During the days of the
revolt, Kunwar was already 80 years of age. But deep within, he was as energetic as a lion. The
thirst for liberation of the country seemed to rejuvenate his ageing. body. Under his
instructions, there was revolt in the cantonment of Danapur. He urged a gang of rebels to attack
Agra and in no time, he looted the treasury and established kingship over the Agra ...
May 1857 - Fixed date for revolt May 1857. 13. Bahadur Shah (the Mughal emperor) was exiled to
Rangoon and died there Prince Feroz Shah excaped in the Jungles of Sironj. 14 . Lord Canning was the
Governor General of India at the time of Mutiny.
Jun 1857 - 71. 1857. Cawnpore, India. This place garrisoned by native troops who broke into revolt
June, 1857. An adopted son of Nana Sahib, a leader of the revolt, offered to assist the English, but
treacherously turned against them, and notwithstanding a treaty that ...71. 1857. Cawnpore, India.
This place garrisoned by native troops who broke into revolt June, 1857. An adopted son of Nana
Sahib, a leader of the revolt, offered to assist the English, but treacherously turned against them, and
notwithstanding a treaty that Europeans should be sent down the Ganges in safety on surrender of
their treasury and war material, massacred great numbers, without regard to age or sex.
Jul 1857 - Fig. 7. The Angel of Resurrection statue stands in the middle of the memorial well monument
in Kanpur and commemorates those who were killed in the Sepoyrevolt in July 1857. being erected by
the Government. We passed the earthworks thrown up by Havelock when ...Fig. 7. The Angel of
Resurrection statue stands in the middle of the memorial well monument in Kanpur and
commemorates those who were killed in the Sepoy revolt in July 1857. being erected by the
Government. We passed the earthworks thrown up by Havelock when he retook the city, and in which
he was for a time besieged. Then we returned to the eating house, had our dinner, and drove to the old
intrenchment of General Wheeler where the church is being built. The ceremony was ...
Aug 9, 1857 - When Sir Hope Grant, on whose personal staff at Aldershot I had the honour of serving for two and a
half years, allowed me to read the private journals which he had kept during the Indian Revolt of 1857-8-9, I felt at
once that others besides myself would ...When Sir Hope Grant, on whose personal staff at Aldershot I had the honour
of serving for two and a half years, allowed me to read the private journals which he had kept during the Indian
Revolt of 1857-8-9, I felt at once that others besides myself would gladly peruse a narrative of which so much was
new, so much interesting, and wherein all was derived from a source indisputably authentic. The military literature
relating to this period is, on the whole, scanty in quantity ...
Sep 1857 - General Jorge Cordova succeeded him, but had not been long in office when a new revolt in September
1857, originating with the garrison of Oruro, spread over the land, and compelled him to quit the country. His place
was taken by Dr Jos6 Maria Linares, the ...General Jorge Cordova succeeded him, but had not been long in office
when a new revolt in September 1857, originating with the garrison of Oruro, spread over the land, and compelled
him to quit the country. His place was taken by Dr Jos6 Maria Linares, the originator of the revolution, who, taking
into his own hands all the powers of government, and acting with the greatest severity, caused himself to be
proclaimed dictator in March 185S.
Oct 7, 1857 - TWO SERMONS, preached on the Day of Humiliation on account of the INDIAN REVOLT, Wednesday,
October 7, 1857, in the Parish Church of Taunton Saint Mart Magdalene ; by Robert Ernest Wallis, Curate. Published
Dec 17, 1857 - The War of Reform broke out on December 17, 1857, with none other at the head of the revolt than
President Comonfort himself. The conservatives, under the leadership of Don FelixZuloaga, had won over the chief
executive by the notorious plan of Tacubaya...The War of Reform broke out on December 17, 1857, with none other
at the head of the revolt than President Comonfort himself. The conservatives, under the leadership of Don Felix
Zuloaga, had won over the chief executive by the notorious plan of Tacubaya, which called for a restoration of Church
prerogatives, and the maintenance of Comonfort in power. Comonfort's treason, together with the wealth that
backed the coup of Tacubaya and the careful propaganda that had preceded ...
Events Of The Revolt
The violence started on May 10, 1857 in Meerut, when Pandey, a
soldier in the Army shot his commander for forcing the Indian troops
to use the controversial rifles. Indians constituted 96% of the
300,000 British Army and the violence against British quickly spread
(Hence the name Sepoy Mutiny). The local chiefs encouraged
scattered revolts in hopes of regaining their lost privileges.
Siege of Delhi
Bahadur Shah II, pensioned descendant of the Mugal dynasty, was
popularly acclaimed emperor. On June 8 a British relief force
defeated an army of mutineers at Badli Sari and took up a position
on the famous ridge, overlooking the city of Delhi. Nominally the
besieging force, they were themselves besieged by the mutineers,
who made a daring attempt to intercept their train. The arrival of
more British reinforcements finally led to the defeat of the mutineers
by John Nicholson, commander of the relief force. After six days of
street fighting, Delhi was recaptured. This action was the turning
point in the campaign and is known as Siege of Delhi. Bahadur Shah
was captured and was exiled to Burma.
British Take Control
In spite of the loyalty of the Sikh troops, conquered only eight years before, and of
the Gurkhas, the British commander, Sir Colin Campbell, had a difficult task. In
addition to quelling the disturbance, he also had to protect the Ganges Valley and all
of Hindustan against possible attacks from central India, to the south. Forces were
dispatched from Madras and Bombay. However, the revolt had quickly spread to
Kanpur and Lucknow. Kanpur, on the Ganges 250 miles southeast of Delhi,
surrendered to the mutineers on June 28, 1857, and was the scene of a massacre
before it was recaptured by the British on July 16. Lucknow, 45 miles to the
northeast, had been immediately besieged by the mutineers and was relieved by
Henry Havelock's troops on September 25, five days after the final reoccupation of
Delhi, the other chief center of the mutiny. However, Havelock's forces, even when
joined by those of James Outram, were not strong enough to disarm and remove the
enemy garrison, and they had to be relieved on November 16 by troops under Colin
Campbell. The civilians of Lucknow were evacuated, but not until the siege of Mar. 916, 1858, had enough British troops massed to defeat the rebel army.
The final stage of the mutiny took place in central India, which was aroused by a
roving band of rebels under the Maratha General Tatya Tope. After his capture and
execution in April 1859, the leaderless mutineers were soon pacified.
Why It Failed?
* Native Indian states, influenced by the
example of powerful Hyderabad, did not join
* Sikh soldiers of the Punjab area remained
loyal to the British throughout. The Sikhs
were a strong, well trained army, who the
British had conquered using Indian soldiers.
* The aging Bahadur Shah was neither a
brave general, nor an astute leader of the
In England, the mutiny proved the last straw on the heavy
load of criticism and opposition which the East India
Company had carried for some time. In August 1858, by the
Act for the Better Government of India, its political
authority was entrusted to a secretary of state. In August
1858 the British crown assumed control of India from the
East India Company and in 1877 Queen Victoria was
crowned empress of India. The mutiny played a pivotal role
in Anglo-Indian history. The British afterward became
cautious and defensive about their empire, while many
Indians remained bitter and would never trust their rulers
again. It was not until the emergence of Indian National
Congress and Mahatma Gandhi that Indians re-gathered
their momentum for home rule
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan founder of the
Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College,
later the Aligarh Muslim University,
wrote one of the early critiques, The
Causes of the Indian Mutiny, in 1859.
Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, one
of the principal leaders of the
Great Uprising of 1857, who
earlier had lost her kingdom as
a result of Lord Dalhousie's
Doctrine of Lapse
Charles Canning, the Governor-General of
India during the rebellion.
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
Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General
of India from 1848 to 1856, who
devised the Doctrine of Lapse.
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