Up to the nineteenth century, nothing had ever seriously threatened British rule in the Indian Sub-continent the way the happenings of 1857 did. In fact, the East India Company officials there were caught unawares and unprepared for such an unexpected ordeal. The revolution which broke out against the British rule, for some times gave a feeling that the British Empire would disappear from India. First time the people of India raised their strong voice against the mighty British. So the year 1857 is a defining period in Indian History. But the character of the great uprising of 1857 is controversial. The Scholars of England called the famous event of 1857 as the sepoy Mutiny. On the other hand some Indian historians have preferred to portray it as the “First war of Independence.” It is not justified to say that the great event was simply a sepoy mutiny. The problem of naming the events of 1857-59 is almost a commonplace in historical writings and not without reason, for the choice of a name implied an explanation of those events, and explanations were usually tied to political positions. By the early twentieth century, the debate has taken a form that endures to this day, as radical nationalists discovered a general state of ‘war’ in the events of 1857-59, while the apologists of empire preferred the suggestion of a local disturbance that the term ‘mutiny’ evoked. In this book we narrate the same history on the basis of some unpublished archival documents.
Bhujang R. Bobade (Born 1982) from last Nine years, Bobade is in the consulting world to take the helm in Archival and Museum field at a time of crisis and change. He went through a dramatic turnaround. He started bootstrapping
growth. Now, he is on the doorstep of a major expansion. It's exciting and tiring and rewarding as ever building a rigorous strategic framework under his creative, community-based work. In his all last years, it was all about getting the programming moving, experimenting, and exploring the possibilities with
spreading historical research in our community- History for Society Research. He is also working on different historical and educational Museums committees.
Dr. Omshiva Ligade (Born 1968) is an eminent Indian historian of medieval and Modem India, following the approach of Cultural historiography. He has a great experience of Under Graduate and Post Graduate teaching also. He is well
known for his strong stance about Numismatic and research orientation work. He has authored a number of books, including Syllabus books chapters. He is head of History Dept., Shivjagruti Mahavidhyalaya, Nalegaon Dist. Latur from last 14 years. He was Chairman of State and National conferences, workshops about
History and Gandhian thoughts. He is executive editor of different National and international research journals. He is said to be the first historian to use inscriptions and pictorial sources for the
teaching of history which is what current days students of history do. He is said to be a pioneer in throwing light on judicial system in late medieval period.
Many of the landmark events in the history of Indo-Pakistan
Subcontinent during the British rule have remained subject to grave
disagreements and dissents. The Uprising of 1857 is among the biggest of these landmarks marred by a number of controversies. This paper is only an attempt at analyzing the events that transpired during the Mutiny /war. From its naming ('Sepoy Munity' or at best 'The Indian Mutiny' or simply war of Independence) to the lessons that can be learnt from it, the subject has been divided into units which are further explained in chapters.
A brief Introduction in the first unit and a historical background
in the second try to paint the picture of the occurrence of events as
they did happen at the time. Unit three analyzes the old debate of
naming the event, causes and the main centers of the revolt. Unit
four to eight analyses the actual uprising, the partakers and victims
- famous or otherwise. In the last unit, an analysis of the lessons
that can be drawn from the uprising and concluding remarks to
sum up this book has been documented.
First War of Independence of India- 1857 (A critical Anyalsis)
has been exhaustively researched and written in the plain most
possible way in the hope of contributing an analytical view to the
Up to the nineteenth century, nothing had ever seriously
threatened British rule in the Indian Sub-continent the way the
happenings of 1857 did. In fact, the East India Company officials
there were caught unawares and unprepared for such an unexpected
ordeal. The revolution which broke out against the British rule, for
some times gave a feeling that the British Empire would disappear
from India. First time the people of India raised their strong voice
against the mighty British. So the year 1857 is a defining period in
Indian History. But the character of the great uprising of 1857 is
controversial. The scholars of England called the famous event of
1857 as the Sepoy Mutiny. On the other hand some Indian historians
have preferred to portray it as the "First war of Independence." It
is not justified to say that the great event was simply a sepoy mutiny.
The problem of naming the events of 1857-59 is almost a commonplace in historical writings and not without reason, for the choice of a name implied an explanation of those events, and explanations were usually tied to political positions. By the early twentieth century, the debate had taken a form that endures to this day, as radical nationalists discovered a general state of 'war' in the events of 1857-59, while the apologists of empire preferred the suggestion of a local disturbance that the term 'mutiny'
The 'mutiny or war' question has tended to isolate the events of
1857-59 from other instances of the nineteenth-century colonial 'small war', whether in China, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Jamaica or
North Africa, all of which were moments of resistance against colonial domination, and shared certain tactical and strategic similarities. Theories of the 'small war', which have appeared in recent decades in several guises, may perhaps yield some new tools for reviewing the rebellion.
This book is an attempt to present a pragmatic analysis to all
these questions and controversies regarding the nature and character of the Uprising of 1857 in the light of information available about its events and the different players and forces who shaped and
influenced this epoch making landmark in the history of Indian Subcontinent.
1857 is an important landmark in the history of Indian
subcontinent. This landmark event has been called mutiny, rebellion,
war, uprising and war of independence depending on who described
the event. Several different factors were at play long before the
rebellion but the sudden outburst of violence and its rapid spread
gave the movement a transient unity of purpose despite stark
differences and diversity of India. Various individuals and different
groups joined the rebellion for different reasons. The presence of so
many different factors makes the task of comprehensive analysis of
1857 in any single work impossible.
The Rebellion of 1857 was by far the largest, most widespread,
and dangerous threat to British rule in India in the nineteenth
century. One of its most obvious repercussions was the elimination
of the ruling East India Company and the transfer of control of
India to the British Crown. As a military crisis of truly massive
proportions, the Rebellion also inspired the structural transformation
of both the British and Indian armies. In Britain, the crisis resulted
in the amalgamation of the East India Company's European forces
into the line, and the commitment of a permanent, 80,OOO-man
garrison on the subcontinent.? In India, the mutiny or disbandment
of sixty-nine out of the seventy-four regiments of the Bengal army
necessitated its entire reconstruction with men as different in origin
as possible from those who had so recently rebelled.
The Rebellion, however, was much more than a military crisis.
In north-central India-especially around Awadh (Oudh)-mass
peasant uprisings accompanied the military rebellions, thus
demonstrating the existence of broad-based antipathy to British
administrative and economic policies there. In addition, the Rebellion generated unprecedented interest in Britain, where ordinary citizens followed its events with fascinated horror-a phenomenon that has prompted some historians to call it Britain's 'first 'national-popular' war.
Ideologically, the Rebellion dramatically increased racial
antagonisms between Britons and Indians. On the British side, this
was in large part due to the fact that English-language accounts of
the Rebellion framed it in terms of a savage attack on British women
and children, who were allegedly being raped and murdered by
fanatic soldiers in alarming numbers. Thus, public outrage over the
violation of 'innocent' Britons fuelled an emotive and vengeful response to the Rebellion. On the Indian side, widespread British atrocities against both mutinous soldiers and Indian civilians left little doubt that British notions of justice and due process did not always apply to colonial subjects. Indeed, the violence of colonial rule in India was at its most exposed during the Rebellion.
Especially since Indian Independence in 1947, the Rebellion has
been a highly contested area of historical inquiry, and controversies
over interpretation, significance, and even about what to call the
conflict remain unresolved today. Conventionally, British historians
depicted the conflict as a purely military mutiny and, often, as a
heroic fight against depraved sepoys intent on rape and murder. In
the last fifty years, scholars in the postcolonial era have challenged
such interpretations, and have emphasized previously silenced themes in the conflict, including the scale of British atrocities and the peasant aspect of the uprisings. 6 This essay engages some of these historical controversies at the same time as it seeks to provide an introductory overview to the origins, chronology, consequences, and themes of the Rebellion.
In 1857, the British East India Company controlled more than
1.6 million square miles of territory on the subcontinent, including
the newly annexed states of Sind (1843) and Punjab (1849). This
vast area was controlled and protected by an equally vast military
force, composed of three distinct armies centered on the presidencies of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal. In 1856 its combined native troops alone numbered 280,000 men, making it the largest all-volunteer mercenary army in the world and a powerful strategic tool for British world dominance. 7 Yet just one year later its strongest military arm-the Bengal Army-looked as though it might also prove to be the downfall of British rule in India.
Although the East India Company had begun as a trading
company in the seventeenth century, its transition to a territorial
empire in the eighteenth century required that it place military
concerns at the heart of its policy. Foremost among these concerns
was to ensure the stability of Company rule through the suppression
of internal unrest and the security of its borders and alliances. The
very structure of Company rule reflected these concerns. Due initially
to difficulties in transport and communication and later to a strategic
desire to 'forestall dangerous pan-Indian combinations,' each of the
three centers of Company control at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta
maintained separate military establishments, commanders-in-chief,
and military staffs as well as civil governments. 8 Loosely coordinating policy between the presidencies were the Governor-General in Council and the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army (also CIC of the Bengal Army), both based in Bengal. Between them they controlled policy on war, diplomacy, and revenue collection for the whole of India.
The combined forces of the Indian Army were composed of a
multitude of peoples and traditions. 9 Europeans served in each of
the Company's three presidency armies, and British regulars served
on a rotating basis as imperial garrison troops. In 1857, the total
number of European forces in India was about 40,000, though
Company and Crown troops were kept quite separate and regarded
one another with mutual distaste.
Small and divided as the European forces in India were, they were nevertheless regarded as a vital security against domination and revolt by the far larger numbers of indigenous mercenary volunteers that made up the bulk of the troops in the Indian army.
Some of these forces stood outside the command structure of the
presidencies as irregular troops. Units like the Frontier Scouts were
commanded independently by British officers. Others, such as the
Punjab Irregular Force, were commanded directly by Lieutenant
Governors and were answerable to the Government of India in the
Foreign Department rather than the Commander-in-Chief in Bengal.
Still others came from the standing armies of the Princely States,
nominally independent areas that received British agents at court
and offered friendly military alliances in return for financial and
Most native troops, however, served in the three presidency armies
of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal, of which by 1857 the Bengal army
was by far the largest. Native volunteers were recruited in large
numbers partly because of the vast span of British territory that
needed protecting, partly because of the large resources of manpower various Indian populations offered, and partly because native soldiers were less expensive, better disciplined, and healthier than their European counterparts. 13 Also, native troops of diverse areas were relatively easy to recruit into the Indian army. This was true for several reasons.
First, the British tended to recruit from populations, like the
Rajputs of northern India, who came from long traditions of pre-
colonial military service, and who perceived military service as both
a respectable and honorable means of employment. This focus on
areas of traditional military service meant that only seldom did the
British have to resort to direct recruitment, relying instead on family
and village connections to supply fresh recruits. Second, unlike the
British regular army the salaries offered by the Company were
respectable and steady, although by 1857 pay had not kept pace
with the cost of living and was increasingly less attractive. 15 Third,
military service in the Company offered added benefits-in the form
of special pay or land grants-for those willing to serve in foreign
stations, and for those with long service, good conduct, or conspicuous acts of bravery in battle.
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