First war of independence: 1857 - Printable Version

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First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

<b>1857 A Mutiny</b>

<b>The Revolutionary Upheaval of 1857 </b>
Although dismissed by some as merely a sepoy's mutiny or revolt, or as a protest against the violation of religious rights by the British, the great uprising of 1857 is slowly gaining recognition as India's first war of independance. And in it's broad sweep it was the greatest armed challenge to colonial rule during the entire course of the nineteenth century. Attracting people from all walks of life - both Hindus and Muslims, it triggered demands for radical social and economic reforms, calling for a new society that would be more democratic and more representative of popular demands.
<b>Early Precedents</b>

Neither was it a bolt out of the blue. Although not very well known, the period between 1763 and 1856 was not a period during which Indians accepted alien rule passively. Numerous uprisings by peasants, tribal communities and princely states confronted the British. Some were sustained - others sporadic - a few were isolated acts of revolutionary resistance - but nevertheless they all challenged colonial rule. Precipitated by the policy of unchecked colonial extraction of agricultural and forest wealth from the region - the period saw tremendous growth in rural poverty, the masses being reduced to a state of utter deprivation.

Even as official taxation was back-breaking enough, British officers routinely used their powers to coerce additional money, produce, and free services from the Indian peasants and artisans. And courts routinely dismissed their pleas for justice. In the first report of the Torture Commission at Madras presented to the British House of Commons in 1856, this was acknowledged along with the admission that officers of the East India Company did not abstain from torture, nor did they discourage its use. That this was a practice not confined to the Madras presidency alone is confirmed by a letter from Lord Dalhousie to the Court of Directors of the East India Company in September , 1855 where he admits that the practice of torture was in use in every British province. Click for more details

Desperate communities had often no choice but to resist to the bitter end. Armed revolts broke out practically every year - only to be brutally suppressed by the British. Lacking the fire power of the British arsenal - they were invariably outgunned. And lacking the means of communication available to the British - individual revolts were also unable to trigger sympathetic rebellions elsewhere. Disadvantageous timing led to crushing defeats. Yet, some of these struggles raged for many years. Click for more details

Amongst the most significant were the Kol Uprising of 1831, the Santhal Uprising of 1855, and the Kutch Rebellion which lasted from 1816 until 1832. There was also a precedence for a soldiers mutiny when Indian soldiers in Vellore (Tamil Nadu, Southern India) mutinied in 1806. Although unsuccessful, it led to the growth of unofficial political committees of soldiers who had several grievances against their British overlords

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

<b>Military History-1857 Mutiny with reference to Meerut </b>- British view


Indian soldiers in the Empire uniform
<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

<b>Mangal Pandey : First Freedom Fighter</b>

The first freedom fighter and martyr Shree Mangal Pandey was born in village Nagwa District Ballia. He was famous for bravery amongst his colleagues.An english scholar "Fisher" has written that Shri Mangal Pandey was having all qualities of a good soldier. He was so brave and capable to embrace his death peacefully.

It began at Barrackpore at the end of March 1857. British introduced new Enfield rifle, cartridge was heavily greased - with animal fat. Sepoys heard and quickly passed on the rumour that the grease was a mixture of cow (sacred to Hindus) and pig (abhorrent to Moslems) fat. Biting such a cartridge would break the caste of the Hindu sepoys and defile the Moslems.

Mangal Pandey,a young sepoy of the 34th Native Infantry, shot at his sergeant-major on the parade ground and shouted to other sepoys, "Come on and save our religion!"

When the British adjutant rode over, Pande shot the horse out from under him and as the officer tried to extricate himself Pande severely wounded him with a sword.
In the meantime higher military authorities came rushing and overpowered Pandey, who shot himself seriously, but did not die.

Another news added to the unrest. It was that powdered bones of cows were mixed with the wheat flour supplied to the Jawans. Meerut was an important military station. There was a strong unit of British soldiers.

When the native sepoys of this place heard all the news, 85 of them refused to touch the cartridge supplied to them.

The sepoys who were thus dismissed returned to their homes and spread the news about the cartridges.

Soon this news spread to other places where armies were kept and similar mutinies took place at Ambala, Lucknow, Meerut.

Pandey was executed for his mutiny. His infantry was also disbanded.

According to the records available in Jabalpur museum( general order books). Shri Mangal Pandey was due to be executed on 18th April but he was hanged ten days before i.e. 8th April and it was kept secret. Because english rules were well aware of the fact that if Mangal Pandey remains alive it will endanger British rule.

Thus Mangal Pandey became the first freedom fighter & and martyr of 1857. The name of Mangal Pandey became an emblem of revolt against British rule.

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

<b>An Execution in British India---November 17, 1888</b>
<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

But dont forget Mudy, the guy giving the orders was a white skinned European. and even though he ordered the sepoy to be tied to othe muzzle of the cannon to be blown to bits (save the cost of burial or funeral) how bad can he be. And after all he had a white skin, he must be better than the Indians he executed. In fact we deserve to be ruled by him. what harm can the rule of a white skinned foreigner do ? After all he cannnot create a british empire in India (jyoti Basu's great grand father in 1857)

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

<b>The Background, 1857</b>
British presence in India stretched all the way from the seventeenth century when the East India Company, EIC, acquired its first territory in Bombay to 1947 when India and Pakistan were granted self rule. Over the years the EIC expanded by both direct (force) and indirect (economic) means eventually, chasing the French out (after the War of Plassey, 1757) and dominating the whole of the Indian sub-continent.

British rule in India rested on its military might and as long as the British army in India was invincible, British rule was assured. This of course depended on the Indian army, which consisted of Indian troops under British officers.

British rule inevitable brought western influences into India. <b>The spread of Christianity was to cause great unease among the Indians. Evangelical Christian missionaries had little understanding and respect for India's ancient faiths, and their efforts to convert many natives brought clashes with the local religious establishments</b>. As the missionaries were often British citizens, the Colonial administration often had to intervene to protect them, which naturally gave an impression of official support for Christianity.

<b>Map of India showing the areas affected by rebellion in 1857</b>
<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

The first war of independence in 1857 was a reaction to encroachment and insults by the white christian imperialists on the Hindus.

The British historians are dishonest rogues who try to mock hinduism by saying it was a revolt against the fact that cow fat was used in cartridges.

Actually the real reason was the christian missionaries insulting the Hindu soldiers of the army. The cow fat issue was simply the last straw.

First war of independence: 1857 - acharya - 05-19-2004

This is right.
The new book Neil Fergussen - EMPIRE
talks about the attempt to convert the natives

THis is the single biggest reason for the first war of independence.

THis has been camfoulaged in the history books so that this memory does
mot survive in the future generations and conversion can take place
in future.

They have succeded for most part.

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

The star in the east: <b>the controversy over Christian missions to India, 1805-1813</b>. - by Britsh Historian

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>After spending some years in language study, the missionaries settled in the Danish town of Serampore in 1800. There they began translating and printing the Bible, circulating religious pamphlets, and preaching, often in Calcutta</b>. Their activities soon brought them to the attention of Claudius Buchanan, an evangelical chaplain employed by the Company.

Buchanan strongly approved of the missionaries' efforts, especially their translation work. Years earlier, while studying at Queen's College, Cambridge, he had asserted that "nothing but ... the constant perusal of the New Testament seems capable of delivering men from unnecessary prejudices and prepossessions. Grace does not necessarily do it.... Grace converts the heart, but it does not teach the understanding."(9) Soon after meeting the Serampore Baptists, who had modestly augmented their numbers, <b>Buchanan commented that "instead of thirty missionaries, I wish they could transport three hundred</b>. They can do little harm, and may do some good."(10)

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->After spending some years in language study, the missionaries settled in the Danish town of Serampore in 1800. There they began translating and printing the Bible, circulating religious pamphlets, and preaching, often in Calcutta. Their activities soon brought them to the attention of Claudius Buchanan, an evangelical chaplain employed by the Company.

Buchanan strongly approved of the missionaries' efforts, especially their translation work. Years earlier, while studying at Queen's College, Cambridge, he had asserted that "nothing but ... the constant perusal of the New Testament seems capable of delivering men from unnecessary prejudices and prepossessions. Grace does not necessarily do it.... Grace converts the heart, but it does not teach the understanding."(9) Soon after meeting the Serampore Baptists, who had modestly augmented their numbers, Buchanan commented that "instead of thirty missionaries, I wish they could transport three hundred. They can do little harm, and may do some good."(10)
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Providence hath been pleased to grant to us this great empire, on a continent where, a few years ago, we had not a foot of land. From it we export annually an immense wealth to enrich our own country. What do we give in return? Is it said that we give protection to the inhabitants and administer equal laws? This is necessary for obtaining our wealth. But what do we give in return</b>?(<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-19-2004

<b>Religion - 1857</b>

Historians like J.A.B. Palmer and John Kaye trace the origins of the soldiers' rebellion at Meerut, in which South Asian soldiers rose up against their colonial officers, to the Lee-Enfield Rifle. It was developed at the Enfield arsenal by James P. Lee and fired a .303 caliber ammunition that had to manually loaded before firing. Loading involved biting the end of the cartridge, which was greased in pig fat and beef tallow. This presented a problem for native soldiers, as pig fat is a haraam, or forbidden, substance to Muslims, and beef fat is, likewise, deemed inauspicious for certain Hindus. Thus, the revolt occurred as a reaction to this particular intrusion into Hindu and Muslim culture, and then caught on as a national rebellion. Palmer dramatically relates this discovery, according to Captain Wright, commanding the Rifle Instruction Depot:

<b>Somewhere about the end of the third week in January 1857, a khalasi, that is to say a labourer, accosted a high Brahmin sepoy and asked for a drink of water from his lotah (water-pot). The Brahmin refused on the score of caste. The khalasi then said, "You will soon lose your caste, as ere long you will have to bite catridges covered with the fat of pigs and cows," or, it is added, "words to that effect." (Palmer 15)</b>

Furthermore, historians taking similar positions argue <b>that British legislation that interfered with traditional Hindu or Muslim religious practices were a source of antagonism.</b> Palmer and Kaye also argue throughout their respective work that the prohibition practices such as saathi (often transliterated "sati"), or the ritual suicide of widows on their husbands' funeral pyres, became a source of outrage. In other words, the growing intrusion of western culture became the impetus for rebellious soldiers, fearful that their culture was being annihilated.

The long-belabored significance of the Lee-Enfield cartridge is challenged by the work of historians like Marx, Collier, Majumdar, Chaudhuri, and Malleson (see citations below). <b>These historians argue that the actions of soldiers at Meerut was the "last straw" for South Asians who had been victims of British cultural and class based oppression and antagonism, and discard the notion that religion played an overwhelmingly vital role in fomenting revolt. For them, the root causes of the insurgency cannot be traced to a single, well-defined set of events and causes, but rather stemmed from an on-going set of conflicts.</b>

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-20-2004

<b>The Sepoy Mutiny, 1857:</b> The Indian View
Ron Peters (but written by british)

The following two articles, Ron Peters on the Indian perspective of the Sepoy Mutiny and Greg Aydt on the Cuban perspective of the Spanish-American War, are written by two M.A. in History Graduate students at Eastern Illinois. Both first wrote the essays in Dr. Roger Beck's seminar in European Imperialism. Both are presented here as historical responses to consideration of the "Other" in history.

We're marchin' on relief over Injia's sunny plains,
A little front o' Christmas time an' just be'ind the Rains,
Ho! get away, you bullock-man, you've 'eard the bugle blowed,
There's a regiment a-comin' down the Grand Trunk Road.
Rudyard Kipling, "Route Marchin"

An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the living Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
Rudyard Kipling, "Gunga Din"

European conflicts embroiled indigenous peoples and foreign trading companies into eighteenth-century wars of imperial conquest. In 1746, Marquis de Joseph Dupleix captured Madras during the War of Austrian Succession and augmented French forces with native Indian soldiers (Sepoys). The French Compagnie des Indes and the English East India Company actively recruited native alliances for the next fifteen years in their struggle to control the Coast and the adjacent Carnatic province. The French capture of Madras showed the English the military necessity for an East India Company Sepoy army. In 1756, Clive marched 1,200 Madras Sepoys and 800 East India Company soldiers and secured Bengal for the company. The Seven Years War produced two changes for the East India Company: the French Compagnie des Indes surrendered its holdings in India and the East India Company assumed political and military control of India.(1) Ninety-six years after the Treaty of Paris (1761), the East India Company's Sepoy army turned against its masters.

The revolt of 1857 was not the first mutiny. British regular and European East India Company troops revolted in 1766: the Sepoys remained steadfast and entertained no equivocation of duty.(2) When the British violated the Sepoys' enlistment promises, the Sepoys reacted and mutinied. At Vellor in 1806, at Barrackpur in 1824 and 1852, in the North-West Provinces in 1844, and in the Punjab in 1849-50, the Sepoy solders mutinied in order to right military grievances.(3) A long grievance list produced the tumultuous, violent results of 1857.

Individuals had widely differing motivations for enlisting in the army. European and Indian ranks and files evolved from distinct military cultures. European troops entered military service as a last resort: to escape from poverty, domestic crisis, or to evade criminal or civil justice.(4) Indians, despite caste or religion, entered the East India Company's regiments for mercenary reasons and status.(5) Peers who examined government records concluded that Indian soldiers committed less crime, were rarely arrested on drunk and disorderly charges, and displayed higher moral standards than English Commonwealth soldiers.(6) were the reasons for mutiny as multifarious as those for enlisting?

What reasons provoked the Sepoys to mutiny? The Illustrated London News, of August 22, 1857, stated:

The public begin to perceive that not two or three, but a thousand, causes have been at work, and that if we are to retain India a radical reform, not only of our military and administrative systems, must be introduced, but our social and political relations with the Indian tribes, peoples, races, and nations, must undergo a change large and thorough enough to merit the name of a Revolution.

The Illustrated London News voiced many of the mutiny's root causes within the framework of the East India Company's military and administrative departments, but naively missed the main cause-reform. East India Company employees and officers, both military and administrative, introduced many reforms. Social reforms produced animosities and distrust among the native people. The English outlawed "Thuggee" and "Dakoiti" cults as a method to control lawless and dangerous behavior. Familial reforms targeted Sati, infanticide, and the husband's right to execute his wife. Company directors abolished slavery. Missionaries implemented education (in English language and writing), and established orphanages. Both Hindus and Muslims viewed these "improvements" as methods to convert the people to Christianity. But, the people viewed the British anti-caste behavior and attitude as the greatest threat to the native religion and culture.(7)

Some social reforms directly destabilized local political hegemony. Local land reform, European settlement, tax farming, and the East India Company's policies of annexation outwardly appear as social reforms, but represented political agendas. Early in the nineteenth century, the English began land reforms in the North-West provinces. Feudal landlords watched in horror as the Company gave land to the peasantry and collected taxes from them. The landlords lost their lands and tax revenue. During the 1857 Mutiny, the Bundelkhand thakurs (landlords) also rebelled against the English. These landlords operated independently from the actions of the Sepoy mutineers and the local rebelling potentates.(8) European settlement and tax farming produced animosities from the local elite, local merchants, and the local peasantry. The policy of annexation, especially the Oudh situation, created bitter hatred toward the Company and formed major military problems.

The 1857 rebellion centered on the Company's annexation of Oudh. In 1818, Sir John Malcolm had exiled the Mahratta Peshwa, Baji Rao, on an £80,000 annual pension to the kingdom of Oudh. Baji Rao sired two sons, both of which died as infants. Hindu law required a son to officiate at the funeral and release the father's soul. The custom with the Hindu allowed an adopted son to fulfill this sacred duty. Raji Rao adopted Nana Sahib (Nana Govina Dhondu Pant), a son of friend, an affinial relative and of the same caste as the Peshwa. After the Peshwa's death, Nana Sahib petitioned the East India Company for the annual pension of his adopted father. The East India Company refused to grant the annuity and Nana Sahib sent emissaries to England on his behalf. Nana Sahib's emissaries failed and complained that all India's gold could not out-bribe the East India Company's power over the Crown and Parliament.(9)

Sixty-year old William Sleeman toured the Oudh countryside and drafted evidence of misrule. Governor-General Dalhousie composed an ultimatum to Wajid Ali Shah: turn over the Kingdom of Oudh or the British would use military force. Wajid Ali Shah refused to sign the document in the name of his son, Birjis Qadr. In response, the Company annexed Oudh.(10)

The key link to these two ousted dynasties rested in the Nana Sahib's Muslim secretary, Azimullah. Azimullah, highly educated in English and diplomacy, petitioned the British Crown in Nana Sahib's behalf. Azimullah utterly hated the British. Azimullah's intrigues linked not only two dynasties but two religions, Hindu and Muslim. Azimullah printed pamphlets that called for a Jihad against the infidel. Azimullah gathered disaffected Indian officers (Hindu and Muslim) and presented seditious ideas. Azimullah expressed the extent of his intrigues and seditious plans to the Turkish general Umar Pasha in 1856, to garner Turkish support. It was Azimullah who formed an infrastructure of Indian agents to distribute seditious anti-British propaganda and not Russian agents, as the British believed. In July 1857 The Illustrated London News wrote:

we have the strongest reasons to suspect, that Russian emissaries are, and have long been, at work, not only at the outposts and frontiers of our Indian Empire, but in the very heart of the country, in exciting disatisfaction against British rule, and in stirring up the native population against us.... [T]hose who know Russia best, and India most, do not treat this supposition with scorn; but, on the contrary, find too many reasons for believing that every act of hostility against us more or less connected with Russian intrigues and Russian money.(11)

British arrogance refused to accept the idea that the Company produced the anti-British sentiments and that the Indians themselves could mastermind a rebellion.

Sepoy disaffection reflected a long list of varied grievances and a long history of errors. In 1796 the British forced "all sorts of novelties" upon the Sepoy army.

[The Sepoy] was to be drilled after a new English fashion..., dressed after a new English fashion..., shaved after a new English fashion.... They were stripping him, indeed, of his distinctive Oriental character.(12)

Before the 1796 Sepoy reorganization, British officers commanding Sepoy troops knew the language and respected the culture of the Sepoy troops. Officers and enlisted Sepoys dressed in oriental style. The Company utilized the "irregular system" principle: Sepoy officers commanded the companies and British officers commanded the regiments and brigades. Reorganization regulated the Sepoy officers into inferior positions and introduced British line officers into the Sepoy companies. Promotions of Sepoy officers followed the English establishment-seniority over merit-consequently, few able young Sepoy officers received promotions. English officers also failed to inspire the native troops, nor found the needed respect of the Sepoys.(13) Even the British press and public recognized the failings of the Company's officers.

The East India Company recruited young individuals to fill vacancies within the regimental officer corps. These English officers had no prior military experience nor did these officers know the language, customs, or even the faces of the men under their command.(14) The majority of the officers were ignorant of the military drills, looked down upon the enlisted natives, and refused to associate with the native soldiers.(15) Consequently, British sergeants and native Indian officers commanded the regiments. "The average regimental officer was 'a youngster who makes curry, drinks champagne and avoids the sun.' Leaving their Indian troops to the care of Indian officers and British sergeants, European officers became increasingly remote and disdainful ...carried the moods of schoolboys into the work of men."(16) Failing to gain respect from the individual native soldier, regimental officers faltered in preventing mutiny and rebellion.

In 1838 the British Indian army invaded Afghanistan. This invasion resulted from British fears of Russian and Persian plots with Dost Mohamed, the Afghanistan Amir. Governor-General Lord Auckland decided to replace the Amir of Afghanistan. Kabul fell and the mission seemed accomplished, but the Afghanistan people did not want their Amir replaced. The British Indian army at Kabul, now found themselves besieged by the Afghanistan people and retreated back to India. India no longer viewed the British military as an invincible power. Britain lost the respect of the Indian people and especially the Sepoys.(17)

As respect and military discipline for the British dimmed after the Afghanistan affair, reform movements targeted the military. The British maintained military discipline by stern corporal punishments for even minor infractions of military protocol. Reformers viewed military justice as unusually cruel and thought the use of the lash as unnecessary in the Bengal army. The East India Company recruited high caste Bengal individuals for the Sepoy army and discouraged low caste members of society.

The eighteenth-century Bengal army took into its ranks what were available, and these tended to be the traditional military peasantries of North India which comprised dominant land-owning and land-controlling groups who combined with seasonal military employment. Membership in these societies was consolidated through the adoption (or invention in some cases) of ritual and practices intended to mark them out as exclusive and elevated above the rest of rural society. Such customs, in British eyes, subsequently came to define these recruits as being from the higher castes. British officers were convinced that the sense of honour they identified as pervading these groups made for a superior recruit, one who would be impelled to obey and perform well by his own sense of self-respect, and not by the draconian discipline believed necessary in regiments of European soldiers.(18)

Bengal military courts had never emphasized the "lash" for infractions of military duty. In 1835 Governor-General Lord William Bentinck outlawed corporal punishment in all the Sepoy armies. In 1845 Governor-General Lord Hardinge rescinded Bentinck's order and reestablished flogging.(19) Reinstatement of flogging insulted the Sepoy soldiers and especially the Bengals.

When a Sepoy enlisted, the East India Company granted him certain privileges. One of these privileges existed in the enlistment's geographical extent. Six Sepoy regiments enlisted with the provision calling for foreign service, and the other regiments would serve in India only. The Barrackpur mutinies (1824 and 1852) resulted when Bengal regiments received orders to fight in Burma. According to one historian, if the British had used enlisted foreign service regiments, or the high command had called forth volunteers for the Burma expedition, the Sepoys would not have revolted.(20)

The kingdom of Oudh constituted the centerpiece for the 1857 Mutiny. On February 7, 1856 the East India Company annexed Oudh and over ninety percent of the Bengal army (and a large portion of the Bombay army), the Company recruited had come from Oudh villages. Sepoys employed by the Company enjoyed a unique privilege. Prior to annexation, Oudh Sepoys possessed the right of petition to the British Resident at the Court of Lucknow (Lakhnoa). Malleson writes that, "this right of petition was a privilege the value of which can be realised by those who have any knowledge of the working of courts of justice in a native state. The Resident of Lakhnao was, in the eyes of the native judge, the advocate of the petitioning Sepoys."(21) This produced prestige and benefits for the Sepoy. Villagers regarded this privilege highly and, consequently, almost every family had a representative to the court in the form of a Sepoy. Oudh's annexation deprived this immemorial privilege and destroyed the Sepoy's position of importance and influence in his own country. When the Mutiny broke-out in May 1857, Oudh's Sepoys displayed great hatred toward the British.(22)

<b>Religion played a significant part in the Mutiny. The Indian people, whether Hindu or Muslim, viewed Christianity with suspicion and loathing. Indian people viewed missionary schools and orphanages as institutions that only benefitted the British by making Christian converts. British officers and/or their wives distributed bibles and religious tracts to Sepoys. The native people viewed reform of Sati and infanticide as methods to destroy indigenous beliefs. Hindus felt extreme bitterness and hatred about British attempts at caste dismantlement. Religion isolated the British from the native people, who viewed the English as hypocritical practitioners of Christianity. The Indian people and Sepoys especially targeted missionaries and proselytizing military officers during the Mutiny.(23) Indian religious retribution required an atonement with the lives of British men, women, and children</b>.

<b>Using religion, conspirators spread anti-British propaganda. This propaganda addressed both Hindu and Muslim. Azimullah printed seditious material against the British, but an Oudh thakur (the Maulaví of Faizábád, named Ahmad-ullah, or Ahmad Shah) promoted and fomented the most extensive network of propaganda. The Maulaví recruited many other learned men and priests to pass information across the countryside. Ahmad-ullah manufactured and disseminated rumors, both personally and through this network. One rumor claimed that the British intended to marry Crimean War army widows to Sepoy troops. The marriage of a Sepoy to a white women would have destroyed the Sepoy's caste and force the Sepoy to accept Christianity. Another rumor circulated about money, currency made from leather and not paper or specie. Accepting this currency would have destroyed the Hindus' caste. The British inadvertently issued the best propaganda tool of Ahmad-ullah: the 1853 Pattern Enfield rifle and the new .577 Metford-Pritchitt cartridge. The cartridge produced the spark to inflame the Sepoys into mutiny.(24) Kaye explains that</b>

there was one thing wanting to the conspirators-the means, the instrument-with which to kindle to action the great body of their countrymen.... [W]hen they heard of the new cartridge-a cartridge smeared with animal fat and which they were told was bitten, [they had] the weapon they wanted.... To tell a body of Hindus, already suspicious of their foreign master, that they would be required to bite a cartridge smeared with the fat of their sacred animal, and to tell Muhammadans that they would be required to bite a cartridge smeared with the fat of an animal whose flesh was forbidden to them, was tantamount to tell them that their foreign master intended to make them break with their religion.... In this lesser sense, then, and in this only, did the cartridges produce mutiny. They were the instruments used by conspirators; and those conspirators were successful in their use of the instruments only because ...the minds of the Sipáhis and of certain sections of the population had been prepared to believe every act testifying to bad faith on the part of their foreign masters.(25)

The anti-British rumor/propaganda implementation epitomized the skill and daring of the rebellion's leaders.

The 1857 India Mutiny resulted from changing British attitudes. Initially, Britain maintained a conservative attitude towards India. Edmund Burke and Adam Smith argued for control over the East India Company's affairs in India. Pitt's India Act (1784) established reorganization and regulation of the East India Company's Indian administration, and placed the company under Parliament's responsibility. The thrust of Pitt's India Act rested in principles to preserve and promote India's practices, institutions and traditions.(26) George Bearce writes, "Burke understood that the right ordering of society depended on 'a limited state and a prescribed use of powers' and that the political order existed to free not to oppress men."(27) British attitudes toward India eroded from Burke's enlightened approach. When Parliament chose Lord Cornwallis as Governor-General of India (1786-93, 1805-28), Cornwallis implemented imperial policies instead of limited or conservative policies and introduced British principles and institutions. Whig governmental theory dominated Cornwallis's administrative aims to prevent corruption in India. Cornwallis lacked faith and trust in the Indian governmental institutions and Anglicized the Indian political administration. Administration changes produced the first reforms and led the way for further reforms.(28)

Imperial sentiments emerged during the era of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, and the Industrial Revolution. Evangelical Christian missionary zeal introduced controversial elements for both advocates and opponents of imperialism. Initially, Indian missionary work evoked opposition from both the imperialists and the anti-imperialists as detrimental to the welfare of India.(29) By the 1830s, imperial sentiments altered. New intellectual attitudes replaced conservative Burkean ones. Adam Smith expounded on the economic theory of laissez-faire, Jeremy Bentham's theories spawned the Utilitarian movement, and John Wesley inspired various British religious sects with missionary zeal. Consequently, from the 1830s to the 1857 Mutiny, humanitarian reformers and Christian missionaries flooded India and incensed the Indian people.(30)

The Mutiny and the aftermath produced British public opinion changes. Initial reports of the massacre of English women, children and soldiers galvanized the British public. Britain wanted revenge for the deaths of British white subjects. On July 18, 1857, The Illustrated London News wrote, "after the suppression of the revolt, and the punishment of the ringleaders ...there must be no smouldering discontent left unnoticed and unsuspected.... [W]hat the Sword of Might has gained, the Sword of Right must preserve." But, the British public also questioned revenge as a method of policy from the rebellion's outbreak.

We owe the people of India much. We owe them peace, we owe them security, we owe them good government; and if we pay them these debts many blessings will follow. By these means we may be enabled to make amends for the arbitrariness of our rule by its justice and its beneficence. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that we owe them Christianity, and of endeavouring to force it upon them before they are ripe to receive it. Christianity was never yet successfully inculcated by the sword, and never will be. Soldiers and railroads are what are needed in India; and, if the savage outbreak of Meerut and Delhi prove of providing both, that Mutiny, distressing as it is, will have, in all probability, the great merit of being the last, and of preparing the way for the permanent pacification and real prosperity of India.(31)

Contemporary newspapers challenged the East India Company's administrative methods: "what shall be said of the fitness of the East India Company to rule, or of the efficacy of the Board of Control to keep the Company right when, from motives of economy, sheer apathy, carelessness, or ignorance, it manifests an inclination to go wrong?"(32) After the brutal suppression of the Mutiny, British opinion against the East India Company's administration policies produced direct Crown rule and administration. The Mutiny shattered Company rule over India and, ironically, the suppressed Mutiny achieved one of its goals. After the Mutiny, while

[s]tanding guard over Green [probably, Jamie Green, native cook of a Mutinied regiment, condemned for treason and spying] and Sarvur Khan as they awaited execution, Forbes-Mitchell prevented his fellow Highlanders from procuring "pork from the bazaar to break their castes" and provided the condemned men with a last meal and a hookah. Out of gratitude, Green confessed to Forbes-Mitchell that he was no native Christian but Mohamed Ali Khan, the Rohilkhand nobleman who had accompanied Azimullah to London and Constantinople, where together they had "formed the resolution of attempting to over throw the Company's Government. "Thank God," Mohamed Ali said, "we have succeeded in doing that, for from the newspapers which you lent me, I see that the Company's rule has gone, and that their charter for robbery and confiscation will not be renewed." He and Sarvur Khan were hanged the next morning.(33)

From the eighteenth century, the East India Company set in motion the causes for the 1857 Mutiny. Religion played a central role in shaping Indian animosity. Reform measures, well intentioned, alienated both Sepoys and the populace. British defeat in the Afghanistan campaign, destroyed Sepoy confidence in British invincibility. Company annexation of Oudh produced loathing and hatred for English policies. Into this volatile brew, add two individuals-Azimullah and the Maulavi of Oudh-both masters of propaganda and the end result equals rebellion. The East India Company generated the seeds of the 1857 rebellion-as the Company exchanged its role as trader/merchant to imperial/trader/nation administrator, the Mutiny grew.

1. John Keay, The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company (New York, 1991), 273-330; G. B. Malleson, The Indian Mutiny of 1857 (London, 1898), 2-7; and Julian S. Corbett, England in the Seven Year's War, vol. I, 1756-59 (Novato, 1992), 336-50.

2. Malleson, The Indian Mutiny (London, 1898), 7.

3. Ibid., 8; Sir John Kaye, Kaye's and Malleson's History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8 (London, 1897-8), I: 149-50. Kaye presents evidence that the Sepoys in the Bengal army mutinied after their European counterparts. Both the English troops and the Sepoys mutinied over pay. The English revolted when promised pay failed to arrive-the Sepoys revolted over lower pay scale and denial of bonus.

4. Douglas M. Peers, "Sepoys, Soldiers and the Lash: Race, Caste and Army Discipline in India, 1820-50," The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 23 (May 1995): 213-4, points out that though British regular soldiers resembled the Victorian image as the scum of the earth, the East India Company regiments contained a higher class of individuals (craftsmen, artisans, and clerks) and enlisted as a means to better their position.

5. Kaye, History of the Indian Mutiny, 185-6. See also, Michael H. Fisher, review of "British and Indian Interactions before the British Raj in India, 1730s-1857," Journal of British Studies 36 (July 1997): 368; and Christopher Hibbert, The Great Mutiny: India 1857 (New York, 1978), 40-58.

6. Peers, "Army Discipline in India," 213-33. Keay, The Honourable Company, 205, notes that the East India Company always had a serious alcohol abuse problem: "Fort Marlborough's quite astronomical liquor bills which in one month alone came to more than the value of all the pepper exported that year. 'The monstrous month' in question was July 1716 ...during which the nineteen covenanted servants entitled to the Company's table appeared to have consumed '74 dozen and half of wine [mostly very expensive Claret], 24 dozen and a half of Burton Ale and Pale beer, 2 pipes (240 gal. !) and 42 gallon of Madeira wine, 6 flasks of Shiraz [Persian wine], 274 bottles of toddy, 3 Leaguers and 3 Quarters of Batavia arrack, and 164 gallons of Goa [toddy].' "

7. Dan M. Hockman, "The Sepoy Rebellion" (M.S. thesis, Eastern Illinois University, 1963), 63-71. "Thuggee was an organized system of murder and robbery directed by professionals who accomplished their tasks systematically and artistically.... Dakoiti was similar to thuggee in that it had a hereditary caste and religious rites.... Dakoits went in bands of thirty or forty.... [M]urder was merely incidental to the main purpose of robbery.... Sati was a populary respected institution of divine self-sacrifice, but what made the crime such an abhorrence was that the wife was unwilling to sacrifice herself."

8. Tapti Roy, "Visions of the Rebels: A Study of 1857 in Bundelkhand," Modern Asian Studies 27, 1 (1993): 217-26.
9. Andrew Ward, Our Bones are Scattered: TheCownpore Massacres and the Indian Mutiny of 1857 (New York, 1996), 34-49.
10. Ibid., 64-6.
11. "The Mutiny in India," The Illustrated London News, July 4, 1857, 1.
12. Kaye, History of the Indian Mutiny, I, 158.
13. Malleson, Indian Mutiny, 8-9, 11-3, accuses the British army of "Horse Guards" mentality: officers cared more for tradition, appearance and style than actual useable knowledge of his Sepoy troops. See also, Hibbert, The Great Mutiny, 48.
14. "Errors of Indian Policy," The Illustrated London News, Aug. 22, 1857, 1.
15. "The Debate on India," The Illustrated London News, Aug. 1, 1857,106.
16. Ward, Our Bones are Scattered, 10-1.

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 05-21-2004

More background...
The first war of Indian independence," as it is called by some, was the first step in a long struggle for independence by the people of India. The reasons for war in India started many years before it began. There were three key events that triggered the war. The first event occurred when the leaders of the "John Company" or, East India Trade Co., began to loose touch with the native soldiers who were called Sepoys. <b>The Second event was religion. The crusaders from God, out to save the "savage" Indian people, built missions and tried to spread Christianity but created turmoil instead</b>. Thirdly the war needed a spark. It came in the form of a new rifle cartridge issued by the East India Trade Co. The war began in mid 1857 with the 3rd light Calvary refusing to take orders. In this essay these key events will be laid out in the events of the war more commonly known as "The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857."

Some historians have blamed the British officers lose of touch with the Sepoys on the invention of the steam ship. The steam ship could go to and from India much faster thus making it possible for the British officers to go home on leave during their tour of duty in India without being gone too long. It also made it possible for the officer’s family to come and stay with him on visits or live in India permanently. These were significant changes. Before the steam ship was invented the officers, by default, would spend most of their time with the Sepoys or their Indian mistresses. As the British officers and the natives grew further apart, there was less trust and more tension between them. This tension frequently escalated into anger with many of the natives.<b> As tension mounted, the less sensitive British started letting missionaries in whose only goal was to save the savage people from themselves through Christianity. This angered many of the religious leaders and their followers. This created even more tension and anger between the British and the natives.</b>

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 07-07-2004

<b>'Build a memorial for Mangal Pandey at Ayodhya'</b>

First war of independence: 1857 - Hauma Hamiddha - 07-10-2004

A largely erroneous view of 1857 with a few elements of truth sprinkled in

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 07-11-2004

Interesting thread... but should'nt we change the name or the thread to say something like: "Indian war for independence - 1857".

First war of independence: 1857 - G.Subramaniam - 07-12-2004

Sita Ram Goel etc have the opposite view
It was a muslim effort to reestablish the Mughal empire with the help of foolish hindus

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 07-12-2004

I really needed to ask that question.

This I War of Independence / Mutiny/whatever...was it carried out for the sake of liberalising "India" ? Or was is just an aprising which did not know where to head from there ?

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 07-12-2004

It was not a first war of independence for Hindus but first combined well organized Hindus and Muslims war against British.
They had clear objective to kick out British and Christian missionary from India.
It was initiated by Sadhus and started in villages.

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 07-12-2004

<b>Champion of Indian Nationalism</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->A few days later five revolutionary leaders arrived at Neel Parbat looking for “the mahatma from Abu Shail.” ( Maharishi Dayanand had for many years practised yoga at Shail).

The five revolutionary leaders were-

 Nana Sahib, and his brother Bala Sahib

 Ajimullah Khan

 Tantaya Tope

 Vir Kuar Singh of Jagdishpur

These five leaders discussed in great detail the motives for the liberation of India, thus resolving many of their doubts and misgivings. In reply to one question from Nana Sahib Dayanand Ji had this to say- <b>“ No foreign power has the right to rule another country. The English are foreigners. Their prosperity depends on exploiting India… They are like killer animals forcibly ruling over India. India doesn’t want this. To rob India of its love for honesty, goodness, and its ancient tradition is a sin of the worst order and to tolerate it an even greater sin. When the soul of India will cry out “We don’t want the English.” only then the English will be compelled to give up their hold on India. In a similar manner his fore- vision to a reply to one question from Ajimullah proved cent % correct.</b> He said-

“Once again, in future, the result of national revolution cannot but be auspicious. This revolution will come a hundred years from the Battle of Plassey. Then the revolution will continue for a further hundred years. Victory is inevitable. A lot of sacrifices are yet to be made.”

Ajimullah Khan asked another question, “In what manner can we, with secrecy, spread the word of people revolt among the civilian population and the military. We seek your counsel on this matter.”

Advising on the mode of spreading the message of revolution among the civilians and the military, Dayanand explained,<b> “I have already stated of the very ancient Sanatan tradition. To spread the message among the military and civilians the symbols of lotus flower and chapati (thin unleavened bread) are to be used

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->It is very evident from the above that Maharishi Dayanand had, for the 1857 revolution, started an organisation of the clerics (Sadhus). The focal point of the organisation was the yoga Maya Mandir in Delhi. This organisation roused national consciousness in all of India, rural and urban. But its most important contribution was the dissemination of the message of the impending revolution planned for the 31st. May to all the military cantonments. Under the pretext of prayer meetings, the priests of various orders would arrive at a military cantonment with flowers, incense etc. and in the course of prayer meetings, explain to the soldiers that the cartridges they were using had been polished with a mixture of cows’ and pigs’ fat with a view to destroying Hindu and Moslem religions and culture. <b>Having given this information, a lotus flower was passed from hand to hand, under the pretext that it was Prasad. With the lotus flower in hand the soldiers took their vow for the revolution. </b>Maharishi Dayanand was in constant touch with these groups of clerics and would himself personally journey from place to place. On one occasion, seated under a banyan tree in front of a military camp at Berakhpur, Maharishi Dayanand was doing yogic resonance. <b>When the Indian soldiers at the camp learnt of his presence, they came out and met him and asked him many questions on the use of cow and pig fat on cartridges. This was the time when Mangal Pandey first established contact with Dayanand Ji and received his blessings</b>.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

First war of independence: 1857 - Guest - 08-26-2004

Some interesting background info on the soldiers of the East India Company in this book:

<b>Last of the Mughals</b>

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Purbia story :
The favored soldiers in this new age were the Purbias and some other classes proficient in infantry warfare. They were employed in the armies of all major powers of the Indian continent and the largest portions went to the English army of Bengal and to the campoo established by De Boigne. In the second decade of the nineteenth century English ascendancy over the Indian continent was established beyond doubt and the Purbias had only one employer to look up to.
A conscious feeling of power had grown up in this community from the central role they had played in the succession of victories over the other Indian powers, and also from the fact of their holding several important cities and forts of Hindustan in independent command. This feeling was not helped by the carelessness of the English who could not spare troops from the wars in the Crimean peninsula and China to balance the power held by the Purbias. This carelessness extended to certain blunt and insensitive administrative decisions like the order commanding the Indian troops to be ready for service anywhere in India and abroad, and the famously callous introduction of cartridges greased with the fat of certain animals.
These incidents provided the spark to the inflated sense of importance that the Purbias had formed of themselves, even as far back as the days when they were hired by all major Indian powers. Those same Indian powers, like the Maratha Peshwa, the Delhi Emperor, the Avadh aristocracy, and some other Chiefs now looked to the Purbias for the restoration of their own power. In addition the Purbias had the unstinted support of their brethren in the provinces of Avadh and Bihar. In the light of these facts, Indians of later generations have termed the events of 1857 as a general revolt by the Indian Princes and peoples against the British rule over India.
For the English, the activities of the various Princes and Chiefs were of less importance in modern warfare than the movements and plans of the Purbia battalions. The defeat and disbandment of these units and the ruthless pacification of their provincial homes were the prime aims of the shell-shocked British power. Thus for their historians these events were nothing more than a ‘sepoy mutiny’.
Several drastic changes were made to the policy and organization of the British administration in India after 1857, and the one change that decided the future of the Purbias was the trend of recruitment into the battalions. Preference was now given to communities from the extreme north like the Dogras, Sikhs, Gurkhas and Punjabi Muslims, whiler the Purbias vanished into oblivion from the English fauj. These communities were mostly ignorant rustics like the Purbias and their provinces generally were under direct British rule.
But most importantly these communities had no experience of service under the Marathas, no consciousness of their own greatness in the recent military history of Hindustan, and lastly no sympathy to the important powers anywhere else in India. The growth of political consciousness and the importance of education became a factor in these out-of-the-way provinces only in the early twentieth century and even then these groups were fed with false stories of their ‘martial greatness’ and of their superiority to other Indian races by the British rulers so that their loyalty could be ensured forevermore.
It was only in independent India that the recruitment of the army was extended to cover all Indian states, and the performance of this new army has vindicated that decision. Because in professional armies any group of men can be trained into first class soldiers---- notwithstanding the legacy of the military classes from the last eight hundred years of Indian history.