Reciprocal Teaching Sepoy Rebellion


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A reading selection from ABC-Clio to be used in Mr. Lehr's class over Anti-Colonial Revolutions.

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Reciprocal Teaching Sepoy Rebellion

  1. 1. Sepoy Rebellion – Sepoy Mutiny - Indian Rebellion of 1857 The Indian Rebellion began in 1857 and soon turned into a full-scale Anglo-Indian war. Several decades of rule by the British East India Company and the persistence of Christian missionaries had created deep concern among many Indians that the British intended to completely undermine traditional social systems. In this context of unease, the East India Company's betrayal of its princely allies and the insensitivity of British Army commanders to Indian religious and social conventions were the immediate causes of the uprising. The rebellion began as a mutiny among the sepoys. The British Indian Army had 40,000 British soldiers and 232,000 Indian sepoys who maintained order in the empire. When the army command introduced the new Enfield rifle, it required the soldiers to bite off the end of cartridges that were lubricated with a mixture of beef and pork lard. Having oral contact with this substance was offensive to both Hindu and Muslim, but the British showed remarkable insensitivity in severely punishing those sepoys who refused to violate religious restrictions and bite the cartridges, thereby infuriating the remaining troops. Beginning with a mutiny at Meerut on May 10, 1857, the rebellion spread to Delhi, which was liberated from the British on May 11. The greatest centers of revolt were in the Gangetic Plain at Delhi, Lucknow, and Cawnpore, with portions of Deccan and Punjab joining the rebellion. Though the military mutiny was accompanied by widespread rural rebellion, the British government strongholds of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras were not threatened. Delhi was recaptured by the British in September 1857, but war raged over northern and central India until 1858. Unbelievable atrocities were committed by both sides, and British racism became much more pronounced. Peace was proclaimed in July 1858, though Lakshmi Bai and Nana Sahib held out longer than that. The Indian Rebellion destroyed the rule of the East India Company; the British Crown assumed direct control of the colony and eventually entertained certain reforms that gave greater voice to Indians in the government. The rebellion also convinced most Indians that the past could not be restored nor the British easily ejected from the subcontinent. FURTHER READING Chattopadhyaya, Haraprasad, The Sepoy Mutiny, 1857: A Social Study and Analysis, 1957; Hibbert, Christopher, The Great Mutiny: India, 1857, 1978; Pemble, John, The Raj, the Indian Mutiny and the Kingdom of Oudh 1801-1859, 1977; Robinson, Jane, Angels of Albion: Women of the Indian Mutiny, 1997; Watson, Bruce, The Great Indian Mutiny: Colin Campbell and the Campaign at Lucknow, 1991. CITATION: MLA STYLE "Indian Rebellion of 1857." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2010. Web. 9 Feb. 2010. <>.