The Indian Mutiny 1857-58

13 Feb

Hello everybody I thought this might interest you about an incident that happened during the Indian mutiny
Early in the spring of 1857 there was discontent among many of the Indian troops that were in the Bengal army. The ring leaders of these troops believed the time had come to drive the British out of India and to set up their own leadership. Rumours spread rapidly amongst the troops exciting them to mutiny. One of the main stories being circulated to upset the troops was that the cartridges issued out to them, had been greased with pig and cows fat. The pig, being an unclean animal to both Hindus and Muslims and the cow being sacred to the Hindus. For the reader when a rifle was loaded in the years of 1857. The rifleman had to bite the end of the cartridge before putting it in the breech. This is why the rumour was circulated. The first mutinous action started at Meerut on the 10th May 1857. The Indian troops murdered their officers and many Europeans they could find, including women and children. Gathering in momentum and numbers the mutineers marched on the undefended Delhi and murdered the whole of the European population in absolute cruelty. Hearing the news from Meerut, the troops in the Bengal army also rose up and murdered their officers and all the European men, women and children they could find from the Punjab down to Calcutta. This can only be termed as complete mayhem and was spreading fast. The garrisons at Cawnpore and Lucknow were now heavily under siege.
At Cawnpore, the officer in command was Sir Hugh Wheeler who had 240 officers, soldiers and civilians many who had sought safety at Cawnpore along with 870 women and children. At the time they hoped they would be free from danger, because of the British friendship with the local Prince Nana Sahib. How wrong they were Nan Sahib joined the rebel forces and combining with his army of men it totalled 12000. During the course of the battle, the small British force repulsed everything the Mutineers could throw at them. After 21 days of fighting Nana Sahib offered free passage to the defenders if they would surrender. Sir Hugh Wheeler knew it was futile to carry on and the terms were accepted. The Nana and his Hindu followers taking the Hindu oath and the Muslims swearing on the Koran, that the conditions be observed. As soon as the Defenders of Cawnpore embarked on the boats down the Ganges. The mutineers opened up with terrific barrage of musket fire and cannon from the river bank. All the boats were sunk and all the men barring four, who escaped to tell the tale, were shot. The women and children, some with bad injuries were taken prisoner and marched back into Cawnpore.
On hearing the dreadful news a British force of 1400 men under General Havelock fought their way up from Allahabad defeating all opposition, including Nana Sahib’s force. The relieving force retook Cawnpore and rejoiced that the women and children would be free. When they entered the town they were too late. Everything was quiet, with scattered dresses and shoes were all around. The British troops knew something terrible had happened and it didn’t take long before their suspicions were realised. The great well near to the house where the women and children were imprisoned was choked to the brim with bodies, all had been massacred. The very tough soldiers, who had fought their way up, enduring heat and exhaustion to reach Cawnpore, broke down and cried at the terrible sight before their eyes.
There were many more battles before the final defeat of the mutineers at Lucknow in 1858, which brought the rebellion to an end. India at the time was run by the East Indian Company; this was now transferred from them, to the British Crown and India became a British Dominion.
In 1876 Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. Seventy one years later, India and Pakistan became Independent of Great Britain in August 1947.

No doubt you the reader will understand that they were turbulent years in the history of India. The seeds for independence for the Hindu and Muslim religion were sown over those turbulent years. During the war against the Japanese both Hindu and Muslims bravely fought side by side with the British forces in Burma, to eventual victory. At this present time both India and Pakistan are strong Independent nations. For the future of both cultures, let’s hope they can live together in peace
Alan

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