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The Indian Mutiny

Posted in Anniversary, Famous battles, History on Friday, 29 April 2011

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10 May marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Indian Mutiny in 1857. The mutiny began as a rebellion of sepoys (Indian soldiers) in the East India Company’s army in the town of Meerut in the north of India and soon spread to other areas.

picture, Indian Mutiny, East India Company, sepoy, soldiers, Bengal, Delhi

Soldiers at Delhi attack the rebels. Illustration by C. L. Doughty

The East India Company had expanded greatly in its influence in India in the 18th and early 19th centuries by forming alliances with local rulers or direct military annexation and was, in effect, the government of much of India. The causes of the rebellion were many: fears over payment, pensions, overseas service, the introduction of the new Enfield Rifle which used cartridges rumoured to be greased with tallow (pork or beef fat), offensive to Hindus and Muslims.

At Meerut, 85 sepoys of the Bengal Army were court martialled on 9 May for refusing to carry out firing drills. A revolt broke out the next day amongst the remaining troops and citizens and over 800 prisoners were freed along with the soldiers. The revolt quickly spread to Delhi and the Great Rebellion, which lasted over a year, had begun.

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