Sepoy Mutiny – a revolt that shook the foundations of British Empire in India and end the rule of British East India Company – is one of the most famous and important events in India’s modern history. In this article, we are going to learn 20 interesting Sepoy Mutiny facts and try to get a brief understanding of what happened and how it all started.
Interesting Sepoy Mutiny Facts: 1-5
1. Though it is considered as the first war of independence by some scholars and this is certainly the first revolt taught to a History or for that matter any student, the fact is – it is the not the first revolt. Revolts in Bengal (1764), Vellore (1805), Barrakpore (1825), Santhal Rebellion (1855-’56) are just few examples which took place even before this revolt started.
2. The defeat of British in the wars like First Afghan War (1838-’42), Punjab Wars (1845-’49), Crimean Wars (1854-’56) etc., served as an inspiration to Indians that British can be defeated if they tried properly.
3. There are many causes for the revolt to take place. Lord Dalhousie’s “Doctrine of Lapse” stands as the major cause. According to Doctrine of Lapse, the British would annex any state if the ruler passes away without leaving a male heir to rule. Jhansi Laxmi Bai and Nana Saheb became the victims of Doctrine of Lapse.
4. The other reasons were abject poverty, unemployment, hopeless administration. British’s attempts to Christianize the whole nation was taken way too seriously and British made it compulsory that if necessary, the sepoys had to cross the rivers and fight for British, which meant loss of caste for Indians and shaving daily was considered with suspicion by Hindus and Muslims alike. These factors triggered a revolt which shook the very roots of British empire in India.
5. Indian soldiers were called as sepoys. They were temporary and no matter how loyal and efficient Indian soldiers were, they were never given a promotion and British didn’t leave any opportunity to demean and humiliate Indian sepoys. Needless to say, they were paid negligible amount of money as salary.
Interesting Sepoy Mutiny Facts: 6-10
6. The introduction of Enfield Rifle supplied the occasion for a revolt. It was rumored that the greased cartridges of Enfield Rifles were made of beef and pig’s fat and the cartridges were to be bitten off before loading. Hindus considered cattle as mother and Muslims hated pig so when asked to use the rifle, a series of refusals from Indian army and disbandment from the British started.
7. Before Meerut other places where Indian sepoys went against British orders were Berhampur, Barrackpore (where an Indian sepoy named Mangal Pandey opened fire and killed his British officer and then he was executed) and Awadh.
8. In Meerut, on April 24, 90 sepoys didn’t obey the orders and on 9th of May, 85 of 90 were dismissed and were sentenced for 10 years of imprisonment. The other sepoys released them the next day that is on 10th of May 1857 and killed the British officials and marched to Delhi. (The revolt officially started off on 10 May 1857).
9. Once they reached Delhi, they proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar as the emperor of India and Delhi as the empire’s capital. After some hesitation, Bahadur Shah sent letters to every other king to support this revolt and soon it spread to Northern part till Punjab and east side of India till Bihar and some western parts of the subcontinent till Rajputana. Awadh, Lucknow, Jhansi, Kanpur and Delhi were the storm centres of this revolt. Just a tiny portion of South India was involved in this revolt.
10. The major heroes of this revolt were General Bhakt Khan from Delhi, Nana Saheb from Kanpur and his associate Tantia Tope, Rani Jhansi Laxmi Bai from Jhansi, Begum Hazrat Mahal from Lucknow etc.