The Revolt of 1857

  •  A mutiny due to the use of greased cartridges — British historians
  •  A national revolt rooted in deep mistrust — Disraeli (Opposition Leader)
  •  First war of independence — VD Savarkar
  •  Civil rebellion — SB Choudhary
  •  Neither ‘first’ nor ‘national’ nor ‘a war of independence’ — R.C. Majumdar
  •  An effort by the conservative element to turn the clock back — SN Sen
  •  A soldier-peasant struggle against foreign and feudal bondage — Marxists
  •  Sepoy mutiny — Malleson

Religious discrimination

  •  British social reforms (widow remarriage, abolition of Sati, school for girls, Christian missionaries)
  •  Rumours that Enfield rifles used greased catridges (greased with pork or beef)

Military discrimination

  •  Indian soldiers were paid low salaries; they could not rise above the rank of subedar and were racially insulted.
  •  The soldiers were also distressed by the fact that their cherished Awadh state had been annexed by the British.

Political reasons

  •  Nana Sahib was refused pension, as he was the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II.
  •  Lucknow was annexed i n 1856 on charges of maladministration and Jhansi was annexed under the Doctrine of Lapse.

Economic grievances

  •  Heavy taxation, summary eviction, discriminatory tariff policy against India products and destruction of traditional handicrafts that hit peasants, artisans and small zamindars
  •  The earliest incident was the revolt in the 19th Native infantry in Berhampur.
  •  29th March 1857: First spark of revolt at Barrackpore in Bengal where Mangal Pandey killed the British adjutant and was later hanged for firing on senior officers.
  •  10th May 1857: Ninety sepoys of 3rd  Native Regiment at Meerut revolted on the issue of the greased cartridges. After their trial and execution, the entire garrison in Meerut revolted and raised the battle cry of ‘Delhi Chalo’.
  •  Kanpur :       Nana Sahib, Tantia Tope, Azimullah Khan
  •  Delhi :           Bahadur Shah II, Bakht Khan
  •  Lucknow :    Begum Hazrat Mahal (Awadh), Maulvi Ahmadullah of Faizabad
  •  Jhansi :         Rani Laxmi Bai
  •  Bareilly :       Khan Bahadur Khan
  •  Arrah (Bihar) : Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur

Delhi: The British captured Delhi on September 20, 1857 after prolonged and bitter fighting. John Nicholson, the leader of the siege, was badly wounded and later succumbed to his injuries. Bahadur Shah was taken prisoner. The royal princes were captured and butchered on the spot, publicly shot at point-blank range by Lieutenant Hudson himself. The emperor was exiled to Rangoon, where he died in 1862.
Kanpur: Sir Colin Campbell occupied Kanpur on December 6, 1857. Nana Saheb defeated at Kanpur, escaped to Nepal with Begum Hazrat Mahal.
Lucknow: It was recaptured on 21 March 1858 by Colin Campbell.
Jhansi: The Rani of Jhansi died in the battlefield in June 1858. Jhansi was recaptured through assault by Sir Hugh Rose.
Arrah: William Taylor and Eyre suppressed the revolt. By 1859, Kunwar Singh, Bakht Khan, Khan Bahadur Khan of Bareilly, Rao Sahib (brother of Nana Saheb) and Maulvi Ahmadullah were all dead.