The Indian Mutiny


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Eating cows, of course, is forbidden by Hinduism , while consumption of pork is forbidden by Islam. Thus, by making one small change to its munitions, the British managed to greatly offend both Hindu and Muslim soldiers. The sepoys' revolt began in Meerut, the first area to receive the new weapons.

Indian Mutiny Medal Roll

British manufacturers soon changed the cartridges in an attempt to calm the spreading anger among the soldiers, but this move backfired. The switch only confirmed, in the minds of the sepoys, that the original cartridges had indeed been greased with cow and pig fat. As the Indian revolt gained energy, people found additional reasons to protest British rule. Princely families joined the uprising due to changes to the inheritance law which made adopted children ineligible to assume the throne. This was an attempt by the British to control royal succession in the princely states that were nominally independent from the British.

Large landholders in northern India also rose up, since the British East India Company had confiscated land and redistributed it to the peasantry. Peasants were none too happy either, though—they joined the revolt to protest heavy land taxes imposed by the British. Religion also prompted some Indians to join the mutiny. The East India Company forbade certain religious practices and traditions, including sati —the practice of killing widows on the death of their husbands—to the outrage of many Hindus. The company also tried to undermine the caste system , which seemed inherently unfair to post-Enlightenment British sensibilities.

In addition, British officers and missionaries began to preach Christianity to the Hindu and Muslim sepoys. The Cawnpore massacre inflamed British feelings. News of the atrocity, and others like it elsewhere, installed a desire for revenge. In the early months of the British recovery few mutineers were captured alive.

Thousands were indiscriminately hanged and many innocent civilians killed. When trials were held, those convicted of mutiny were blown from cannon. It was a cruel punishment with a religious dimension. By blowing the body to pieces the victim lost hope of entering paradise.

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When news of the rising reached Sir Henry Lawrence, the Chief Commissioner of Oudh, he fortified his Lucknow Residency, and stockpiled supplies, ready for a siege. Lucknow was the capital of Oudh, a state annexed the year before in a move that caused great resentment. The sepoys rebelled on 30 May and this was followed by riots in the city. The rebels now besieged the Residency.

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Lawrence had about 1, troops, half of them loyal sepoys, to defend the compound, and a similar number of civilians to protect. Lawrence was killed when a shell exploded in his room. Command passed to Colonel John Inglis of the 32nd Regiment. A relief force of 2, soldiers under Major-General Sir Henry Havelock left Cawnpore and fought its way into Lucknow, but after sustaining heavy casualties it was too weak to evacuate the defenders. They stormed the Secundra Bagh, a walled enclosure that barred the way to the Residency.

The British artillery opened a breach and the infantry stormed inside. In fierce fighting, they killed around 2, rebels. Campbell was finally able to evacuate the Residency.


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He left behind a small garrison under Sir James Outram at the Alumbagh, a large enclosure outside the city, to stop the rebels undertaking offensive operations. Campbell attacked Lucknow in set-piece fashion, moving forward from position to position, after his engineers had constructed bridges across the River Gumti. The Nawab of Oudh's palace was captured and looted, but many of its defenders escaped into the countryside to fight on. Two days later the Residency was secured and Campbell beat off counter-attacks on the Alumbagh and his positions north of the Gumti.

Sir Henry Havelock carried this telescope when his relief force fought its way into the Lucknow Residency in September Opposition to British control of central India centered on Jhansi, where Rani Lakshmi Bai opposed the annexation of her state. In June the Bengal Army regiments stationed in central India mutinied.

Rose relieved Saugor, where a small European garrison was besieged, and then advanced on Jhansi. Jhansi was stormed and looted. At least 5, defenders died, but, after personally leading a counter-attack, the Rani escaped. The rebels took their remaining forces into Gwalior, hoping to defeat its pro-British ruler.

On 1 June at Morar, east of Gwalior, Sindia's troops defected to the rebels. Leaving Kalpi, Rose marched through the summer heat to Gwalior.

The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857

He recaptured Morar and then defeated the rebels at Kotah-ke-Serai on 17 June. The Rani was killed in this action. Two days later the British recaptured Gwalior. Most rebels surrendered or went into hiding, but Tantya managed to dodge the British until April when he was betrayed and then hanged. The rebel defeat in Gwalior effectively ended the rising. The Company was abolished and the government of India transferred to the British Crown. A secretary of state for India was appointed and the Crown's viceroy became head of the government. Bahadur Shah was tried for treason and sentenced to exile in Burma.

He died there in , bringing the Mughal dynasty to an end.

In Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India in his place. The British also began to employ higher caste Indians and rulers in the government.

Indian Mutiny Medal Roll | Dix Noonan Webb

More Indians were recruited to the Civil Service. To safeguard British rule, the ratio of British to Indian soldiers was increased.


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  5. The army was reorganised so that it needed its British components to function effectively. Yet beneath the trappings of conservatism, Indian society changed much more rapidly in the second half of the 19th century than it had done in the first. The British had much more to offer Indians.

    Imports of Western technology had been limited before the s. Thereafter a great railway system was constructed - 28, miles of track being laid by - and major canal schemes were instituted that more than doubled the area under irrigation in the last 20 years of the century. The railways, the vastly increased capacity of steamships, and the opening of the Suez Canal linked Indian farmers with world markets to a much greater degree. A small, but significant, minority of them could profit from such opportunities to sell surplus crops and acquire additional land.

    Some industries developed, notably Indian-owned textile manufacturing in western India. The horrific scale of the famines of the s and s showed how limited any economic growth had been, but the stagnation of the early 19th century had been broken. Universities, colleges and schools proliferated in the towns and cities, most of them opened by Indian initiative. They did not produce replica English men and women, as Macaulay had hoped, but Indians who were able to use English in addition to their own languages, to master imported technologies and methods of organisation and who were willing to adopt what they found attractive in British culture.

    The dominant intellectual movements cannot be called Westernisation. They were revival or reform movements in Hinduism and Islam, and were the development of cultures that found expression in Indian languages. Within the constraints of a colonial order, a modern India was emerging by the end of the 19th century. British rule of course had an important role in this process, but the country that was emerging fulfilled the aspirations of Indians, rather than colonial designs of what a modern India ought to be. Washbrook, published in Andrew Porter, ed. Bayly Cambridge, The Oriental and India Office Collections in the British Library provides access to material relating to all the cultures of Asia and North Africa and the European interaction with them.

    There will be a temporary exhibition, called 'India: Pioneering Photographs, ' during Meanwhile, inquiries to see the collections of photographs and documentary archives or to use the oral history archive are welcome telephone: He was President of the Royal Historical Society, Search term:. Read more. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets CSS enabled.

    While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving. On this page Imperial authority examined A history in two halves Before the rebellion Disaffection A new royal government Find out more Page options Print this page.

    Imperial authority examined In May soldiers of the Bengal army shot their British officers, and marched on Delhi.

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