The Greased Cartridge: The Heroes and Villains of 1857-58
116 pages
English

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116 pages
English

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Description

In most accounts of the revolt, the greased cartridge has been referred to as the spark and tinder that lit the flames of rebellion. The greased cartridge - what was it all about? The army so far had been quipped with the smooth-barrelled musket, which had a protracted loading procedure and was not accurate over long ranges. The new Enfield rifles, which were now being issued, had grooved or rifled barrels. This made them more accurate and gave them a longer range. The powder and bullet for the new rifle were put together in a paper cartridge. To load the rifle, the end of the cartridge containing the powder had to be bitten off so that the charge would ignite. The cartridge was then rammed down the muzzle of the rifle.. The grease used was tallow, probably containing both cow and pig fat. To "the cow reverencing Hindu and the pig paranoid Muslims" having to bite this was repellent, defiling and deadly to their religious prospects. The Revolt of 1857-58 was the biggest and bloodiest conflict against any European colonial power during the nineteenth century. This book is essentially about the heroes - Tatya Tope, Nana Saheb, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur - and not to forget, a few villains. Though the revolt failed in its objective, even in failure it served a grand purpose. It was a source of inspiration for the national liberation movement, which later achieved what the revolt could not.

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Publié par
Date de parution 01 août 2011
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9789351940104
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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About the Book
In most accounts of the revolt, the greased cartridge has been referred to as the spark and tinder that lit the flames of rebellion. .The greased cartridge - what was it all about? The army so far had been equipped with the smooth-barrelled musket, which had a protracted loading procedure and was not accurate over long ranges. The new Enfield rifles, which were now being issued, had grooved or rifled barrels. This made them more accurate and gave them a longer range. The powder and bullet for the new rifle were put together in a paper cartridge. To load the rifle, the end of the cartridge containing the powder had to be bitten off so that the charge would ignite. The cartridge was then rammed down the muzzle of the rifle. The grease used was tallow, probably containing both cow and pig fat. To "the cow reverencing Hindu and the pig paranoid Muslims" having to bite this was repellent, defiling and deadly to their religious prospects. The Revolt of 1857-58 was the biggest and bloodiest conflict against any European colonial power during the nineteenth century. This book is essentially about the heroes - Tatya Tope, Nana Saheb, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur - and not to forget, a few villains. Though the revolt failed in its objective, even in failure it served a grand purpose. It was a source of inspiration for the national liberation movement, which later achieved what the revolt could not.

ROLI BOOKS
This digital edition published in 2014
First published in 2011 by The Lotus Collection An Imprint of Roli Books Pvt. Ltd M-75, Greater Kailash- II Market New Delhi 110 048 Phone: ++91 (011) 40682000 Email: info@rolibooks.com Website: www.rolibooks.com
Copyright © E. Jaiwant Paul 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, print reproduction, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Roli Books. Any unauthorized distribution of this e-book may be considered a direct infringement of copyright and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
Cover: Kanchon Mitra
eISBN: 978-93-5194-010-4
All rights reserved. This e-book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated, without the publisher’s prior consent, in any form or cover other than that in which it is published.
Storm Centres Barrackpore Meerut Delhi Lucknow Kanpur Jhansi Jagdishpur
Dedicated to Shubh, Nisha, Viveka, Karan and Subroto
The Greased Cartridge
E. Jaiwant Paul is a man of varied interests, having authored eight other books, including Rani of Jhansi , The Story of Tea , Baji Rao , The Unforgettable Maharajas , Har Dayal: The Great Revolutionary (co-author Mrs Shubh Paul), Arms and Armour: Traditional Weapons of India , and Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan . He is on the expert panel on weapons for several museums of Rajasthan.
A hardcore corporate, he initially worked for Hindustan Unilever and was later Director of Brooke Bond, India. Thereafter he headed the National Mineral Water Company in Muscat, Oman. A keen cricketer and tennis player, he now lives in Delhi and serves as director of a few companies.
CONTENTS
Introduction
Nana Saheb
Tatya Tope
... And Some Villains
Kunwar Singh
Rani of Jhansi
INTRODUCTION
I t is not often realized that the Revolt of 1857-58 was the biggest and bloodiest conflict against any European colonial power during the nineteenth century. It involved over two hundred thousand soldiers on both sides, as well as innumerable Indian civilians and peasants who picked up their talwar s and muskets and fought the British. The fighting went on for almost two years and mutual hatred led to unbelievable atrocities.
This story is essentially about the heroes – Tatya Tope, Nana Saheb, Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur – and not to forget, a few villains. As the great revolt forms the backdrop to their stories, let’s start with a brief account of it.
It started as a one-man rebellion on 29 March 1857. Lieutenant B.H. Baugh arrived at the lines in Barrackpore near Kolkata, and saw a single sipahi (anglicized to ‘sepoy’) marching up and down in front of the guard comprising twenty men, exhorting them to join him and strike a blow for their religion. ‘Come out you behnchud s (seducers of sisters) why are you not joining me? You are the ones who incited me to do this. Get ready you behnchud s.’ The sipahi also threatened to shoot the first white man he saw. It was no idle threat, for as soon as the sipahi saw Lt Baugh, he fired. The shot missed Baugh but brought his horse down. The lieutenant also fired, but missed. Then began a desperate hand-to-hand encounter. The sipahi drew his talwar , there was an arcing flash of steel and Baugh was desperately clutching his bloodied arm. Sergeant- Major James Thornton Hewson rushed to his help, but the sipahi was a better swordsman than either of them and wounded not only Baugh but also the sergeant. The guard of twenty sipahi s stood stock still and watched the firanghee s (foreigners) fighting for their lives. The sergeant shouted for help; only one man from the guard, Sheikh Paltu came forward. He crept up behind the fighting sipahi and held him from the back. The two white soldiers ran for their lives. The sipahi then taunted his comrades for letting him fight alone. Meanwhile, other European officers rushed to the scene. Brigadier Grant drew his revolver and told the guard, ‘The first man who refuses to obey the order is a dead man.’ Sullenly the guard moved forward. When the lone rebel saw the day was lost, he turned the musket upon himself. He was wounded but unfortunately could not save himself from a felon’s death. The sipahi , Mangal Pandey, was twenty-six years old. Soon, the cry ‘Remember Mangal Pandey’ was to become a signal of revolt.
The Mutiny, the Great Revolt or Rebellion, the National Uprising or the War of Independence – call it what you will, scholars are still arguing about it. By 1857, the strength of white soldiers in India had fallen to 45,000. The rest had been dispatched by the British government to Crimea and Persia. Indian sipahi s of the Bengal army who rebelled numbered about 100,000. Two-thirds of the Bengal army was made up of ‘Purabia’ Hindus from the area around Avadh. It contained 35 per cent Rajputs, 31 per cent Brahmins, and 15 per cent Muslims, while low-caste Hindus and others formed the rest. The dominance of the upper caste becomes an important factor, as we see later.
It is also relevant to note that Hindus and Muslims fought as one during the revolt. Their common aim was to liberate themselves from the British yoke. This feeling of unity was found not only in the army, but also in the civil population. Hindus and Muslims had developed friendly relations as a result of sharing centuries of common life. It was after the 1857 revolt that the British thought it was important to breach this unity. Steps were then taken by them so that common action by the two communities would be impossible in the future.
Maharaja Scindia of Gwalior, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the states of the Punjab, the Sikh sipahis as well as some Punjabi Muslims and Pathans came to the assistance of the beleaguered British. The Sikhs in particular, long hostile to Mughal rule and lately worsted by the now mutinous ‘Purabias’ of the Bengal army, promptly gravitated to the British. The Raja of Jind even offered to personally lead his troops against the rebels. Had it not been for them, the story of 1857-58 might well have been different.
George Bruce Malleson, a noted historian of the mutiny, says, ‘For four months, Scindia had probably the fate of India in his hands. Had he revolted in June, the siege of Delhi must have been raised; Agra and Lucknow would have fallen. It is more than probable that the Punjab would have risen.’ Innes, another historian, says, ‘Scindia’s loyalty saved India for the British.’ Thomas Rice Holmes, well known for his history of the mutiny, has described Salar Jung, the minister of Hyderabad as ‘a man whose name deserves to be ever mentioned by Englishmen with gratitude and admiration.’
In addition to the above, the Begum of Bhopal, Gulab Singh of Kashmir, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, and importantly, Jang Bahadur of Nepal, with a strong Gurkha army, rendered invaluable help to the British enemy. The people mentioned in the last few paragraphs consigned us to ninety years more of slavery.
Interestingly, while the Maharaja of Gwalior stuck with the British, his well-trained army joined Tatya Tope and the Rani of Jhansi and fought against the imperialists at a later stage. In the case of Jodhpur too, while the Maharaja immediately offered to help his masters, the Jodhpur legion deserted to the rebels.
The areas south of the Narmada river did not join the revolt. The armies of the Madras and Bombay presidencies remained loyal to their foreign masters and helped restore order at a later stage.
Avadh was the main recruiting ground of the ‘Purabias’ for the Bengal army. It had also been recently and most unjustifiably annexed by the British. In Avadh and several other areas of Uttar Pradesh, the landed aristocracy and talukdar s had been deprived of their lands. There was a traditional bond between them and their retainers and peasants. Thus when the revolt broke out, the rural population swelled the ranks of the rebels and Avadh became the main arena of war. Indeed, here it was clearly a national uprising with armed civilians outnumbering the mutineers in the insurrection.
The causes of the uprising have been discussed in depth by academicians. Here I will only mention that there were a host of social, economic, religious, and political grievances, tangible and intangible, responsible for the revolt. Lord Dalhousie’s ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ had en

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