Indian uprising of 1857

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Indian uprising of 1857
Map of the Indian subcontinent black: rebellious princely states.  Blue: Princely states that remained loyal to the British, but in which there were military clashes with insurgent troops.  Light blue: Princely states that support the British side.  Ocher: British areas affected by the uprising.  Green: states behaving neutrally.
Map of the Indian subcontinent

Black: rebellious princely states.
Blue: Princely states that remained loyal to the British, but in which there were military clashes with insurgent troops.
Light blue: Princely states that support the British side.
Ocher: British areas affected by the uprising.

Green: states behaving neutrally.
date May 10, 1857 to 1859
place Indian subcontinent
Casus Belli Revolt against the colonial rule of the British East India Company
output The British colonial powers put down the uprising
consequences Dissolution of the East India Company; British India becomes a crown colony
Parties to the conflict

British East India CompanyBritish East India Company India Company insurgent troops

Indian civilians

Seven Indian princely states:

British East India CompanyBritish East India Company East India Company troops

United Kingdom 1801United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland British Army

21 Indian princely states who supported the British side:


Among other:

Commander-in-Chiefs in India :


cannot be determined, but significantly higher than that of the British side

can not be determined

The Indian Uprising of 1857 , also known as the Sepoy Uprising , was directed against the colonial rule of the British East India Company over the Indian subcontinent . The uprising was mostly confined to the upper Gangestal and central India. The centers of the uprising were Uttar Pradesh , Bihar , the north of Madhya Pradesh and the region around Delhi .

The beginning of the Indian uprising of 1857 is usually dated May 10, 1857. On that day there was an open uprising of Hindu and Muslim soldiers against their British commanders in Merath . The mutinous troops withdrew to Delhi, which was already in the hands of the rebels on May 11th. In Delhi, as in Merath, there were murders of British and Eurasians as well as of Indians who had converted to Christianity . Not only sepoys but also parts of the Indian civilian population were involved in these massacres . In the weeks and months that followed, the uprising spread across northern India. Individual British garrisons such as Lakhnau and Kanpur defended themselves - sometimes with the help of loyal sepoys - for several weeks against a superior force of insurgent troops. The murder of British civilians was taken by British forces as a justification for a warfare that contemporaries already viewed as inappropriately cruel and ethically dubious. Lakshmibai , Rani von Jhansi, plays a special role in Indian historiography . The princess was reluctant to join the uprising and only decided to actively support it when she saw it as the only way to secure her family's claim to power. It fell on June 17, 1858 in combat at Khota-ki-Serai near Gwalior . The uprising had largely been decided in favor of the British in the course of 1858. In 1859 there were still individual disputes; the Indian uprising did not end until this year according to common understanding. After the crackdown, the East India Company was dissolved by the Government of India Act 1858 and British India became a formal crown colony .

The uprising was usually triggered by the introduction of the Enfield rifle , whose paper cartridges, according to a rumor widespread among the British-Indian armed forces, were treated with a mixture of beef tallow and lard. Since the cartridges had to be bitten open before use, their use for devout Hindus and Muslims was a violation of their religious rules. The real causes are the social and economic policy pursued by the British East India Company, by large parts of the Indian population Land rights, employment opportunities and influence lost, the increasing efforts of the 19th century to Christianize India, as well as the annexation of Indian princely states through the application of the Doctrine of Lapse . There is no consensus in historiography as to which of these factors is of particular importance. Historians have weighted the causes of the uprising very differently depending on their own cultural, religious and political standpoint.


In English literature, the events in North India from 1857 to 1859 are mostly referred to as Indian Mutiny or Sepoy Mutiny ( English mutiny "mutiny, refusal to obey "). The term sepoy (from Pers. Sipahi "soldier") relates in a narrower sense only to Indian infantrymen who served in the armies of the British East India Company. In the context of the Indian uprising, the term sepoy is also used for the Indian cavalrymen, actually called sawaren .

Contemporaries of the uprising already criticized the fact that the term "mutiny" does not adequately reflect the extent of the events, as large parts of the Indian population had quickly joined the mutinous soldiers. The majority of contemporary British historians agreed that the events in India were more than a mutiny of a few regiments, but less than a national revolt. The contemporary British historian John William Kaye gave his three-volume history of the uprising, which was decisive for the 19th century, the title History of the Sepoy War in India . The dominance of the term mutiny in the British collective understanding of history is due to the prevailing political interpretation of the uprising at the time. An empire shaken by events in its self-image could better maintain the appearance of impeccable integrity by speaking of a mutiny rather than a national revolt. In British historiography, the term mutiny is still widely used.

Indian historiography predominantly rejects the British term mutiny as judgmental and emphasizes that the events had the character of a popular uprising. In 1909 Vinayak Damodar Savarkar called it the "first Indian war of independence". A number of Hindu nationalists still use this term today. Both part of modern Indian and British historiography reject the interpretation of the events as a war of independence as too broad, since the uprisings were confined to the northern areas of India and the remaining Indian territories remained loyal to the East India Company.

Historical background and causes of the uprising

Dominance of the British East India Companies in India

In the 17th century, the Mughal Empire was the dominant power on the Indian subcontinent. The Mughal Empire, which was not a firmly established state, but a conglomerate of imperial provinces, subordinate princely states and semi-autonomous cities and villages, was already in decline at this time. In the course of this development, many European powers began to set up trading posts in India in order to satisfy the demand for products such as cotton , chintz , porcelain , tea and silk that had arisen in Europe . The most successful was the British East India Company, which succeeded in ousting its European competitors with a few exceptions. In 1693 it had trading posts in Madras , Bombay and Calcutta .

By the middle of the 18th century, the Mughal Empire had split up into several states, some of which were at war. In order to protect their trade in this political upheaval, the company increasingly began to recruit local soldiers or "sepoys". The company increasingly changed from a commercial to a political power. In 1773 and 1784 the British Parliament passed laws allowing the Company to intervene directly in the internal affairs of India. By 1857 the company had conquered large parts of the subcontinent by military means or annexed them bloodlessly. The latter mostly happened through the Doctrine of Lapse , which was introduced by Lord Dalhousie , Governor General of British India from 1847 to 1856 . The Doctrine of Lapse stipulated that every princely state whose ruler showed himself to be incompetent or died without an heir ("manifestly incompetent or died without a direct heir") was to be annexed by the company. Satara (1848), Jaitpur , Sambalpur (1849), Nagpur , Jhansi (1854) and Oudh (1856) fell to the company. At the beginning of the uprising, two thirds of the subcontinent were under direct British rule, although in many places local power and the regulation of internal affairs remained largely in the hands of ancestral noble families. The annexation of Oudh is one of the causes of the uprising of 1857. The British East India Company followed a very strict tax policy in this part of India, as a result of which many landowners lost large parts of their property. More than 60 percent of the Indian sepoys came from this Indian province.

Role of the Grand Mogul

Although the Mughals had lost their dominant influence on the Indian subcontinent as early as the 18th century, the Mughal resident in the Red Fort in Delhi was considered a nominal sovereign by both the Indian population and the Indian provinces and states. For this reason, at the beginning of the 19th century, the British East India Company identified itself on official papers and coins as the vassal of the Grand Mogul and gave the Delhi-based company representatives strict instructions to treat the Mogul with the respect that the supreme ruler would have from Hindustan state. From the 1830s, British policy began to change on this point. By 1857, a series of measures and events demonstrated to the Mughal and his court the increasing insignificance that the British attributed to them. From 1832 onwards, the British East India Company no longer presented the ceremonial gift (referred to as "nazr"), which would have publicly underscored the company's obligations to the Great Mughal. High-ranking representatives of the company refrained from visiting the Mughals when they were in Delhi.

The name of the Grand Mogul was removed from the rupees issued by the British East India Company, and from 1850 all British subjects were prohibited from accepting titles or honors conferred by the Grand Mogul. The sphere of influence of Bahadur Shah Zafar II , the last of the Mughals, was limited to his palace, the Red Fort. No Indian nobleman was allowed to visit him without the permission of Thomas Metcalfes , the company's highest-ranking representative. Metcalfe also tried to influence the line of succession. It was customary for the Mughal Mughal to choose the one among his sons who, in his opinion, was the most suitable successor. Metcalfe first tried to enforce the primogeniture and refused recognition to the son Bahadur Shah Zafar had chosen. Shortly before the outbreak of the uprising, however, the representatives of the British East India Company increasingly pursued the strategy of extinguishing the line of rule by applying the Doctrine of Lapse with the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar. As a result, a number of dignitaries at the court of the Grand Mughal were ready to support the insurgents.

Military forces

The British East India Company maintained an army each in its three presidencies of Bombay , Madras and Bengal at the beginning of the uprising . The total head strength of these three armies was 246,000 men; only 14,000 of these men were Europeans. At the same time, various regiments of the British Army were stationed in India , so that a further 31,000 British soldiers served on the Indian subcontinent. In Bengal, one of the centers of the uprising, a total of 23,000 British and 136,000 Indian soldiers were stationed at the time the uprising broke out. Most of the British soldiers did their service in the Punjab region, which had been conquered by military force a short time before.

British officer (5th from right) with Gurkha soldiers, photo from 1857

The starting point of the uprising were the infantry units of the Army of Bengal. The infantry units of this army sat down - unlike the armies of Madras and Bombay - largely of members of the higher Hindu - box ( Brahmin and Kshatriya ) together. Cavalry and artillery had a significantly higher percentage of Muslims . Since the British feared that the Hindu soldiers would take caste issues more important than their duty, the trading company saw this concentration as a threat to military discipline. To ensure that it had modern, powerful troops that it could deploy across Asia, the British East India Company became increasingly less considerate of caste issues and expanded its recruiting base to include Gurkhas and Sikhs . The latter met with strong rejection, especially among Brahmin sepoys. In 1856, the General Service Enlistment Act required new Indian recruits to serve outside of India. Out of consideration for sepoys of the higher Hindu castes, service abroad was voluntary up to this point, since it was traditionally believed that they lost their caste membership when they crossed the open sea.

For both brahmins and kshatriyas, military service was one of the few remaining earning opportunities that were considered honorable. Many of the sepoys came from families who could no longer earn their living from the income from their land holdings. The worsening economic situation of the Brahmins and Kshatriyasa had given the British East India Company the opportunity not to adjust its wages, which were around seven to nine rupees per month, since the turn of the century. The cost of living had nearly doubled since then. During the campaigns of conquest, sepoys were able to supplement their wages by looting . However, the military conquest was largely complete by the 1850s. At the same time, the sepoys had very few opportunities for advancement in the Army of Bengal and these were awarded on the basis of seniority rather than performance. The historian Saul David points out that dissatisfaction with pay and promotion opportunities is characteristic of many armies. However, the Army of Bengal was a professional army , commanded by men of a different culture and religion. Loyalty between subordinates and commanders in such armies exists only as long as the advantages of loyal service outweigh the disadvantages. In the opinion of Saul David in 1857 this was no longer the case for the sepoys. Even so, around 30,000 sepoys served loyally in the British armed forces during the uprising.

Tried Christianization

By the beginning of the 19th century, the British East India Company had largely been able to prevent attempts at Christianization in its Indian sphere of influence. This was primarily because the British East India Company was aware that attempted Christianization in India could harm its economic interests. A fundamental tolerance in religious questions and openness to the other culture was also shown by the fact that, towards the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, numerous British people adopted a lifestyle inspired by their Indian neighbors and occasionally adopted their beliefs. Marital ties between British and Indians were common.

The burning of widows was one of the rituals, against which override British in the course of the 19th century energetic.

In Christian circles criticism of certain forms of Hinduism (caste system, widow burning) developed. In a total of 837 petitions, signed by almost half a million British people, Christian groups led by William Wilberforce called on the British Parliament to make proselytizing in India possible:

“The inhabitants of the densely populated regions of India, which make up a large part of the British Empire, are in a most deplorable state of moral ruin and are exposed to the influence of hideous and humiliating superstitions. You are entitled to the compassion and charitable service of British Christians. "

That was one of the petition texts. The British Parliament passed a new East India Act in 1813 , which basically permitted proselytizing in India and for the first time appointed a bishop for India. The Christianization campaign in India started slowly. In 1832 there were only 58 missionaries in India. It was not until the 1840s and 1850s that an increasing number of British came to India alongside the missionaries, who not only wanted to administer the country, but also wanted to reform the Indian lifestyle and convert the Indian population to the Christian faith. According to historians Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund , these Brits were characterized by a Christian sense of mission, enormous self-righteousness and arrogance towards Indian culture: Lord Macaulay , who was sent to India as Minister of Justice, was convinced that all of the literature of the Orient was not as valuable as it is what is "in the books that can be found on a single shelf in a European library". The Reverend Midgley John Jennings, who has been proselytizing in Delhi since 1852, preached to the Hindu pilgrims gathered on the banks of the Ganges during the largest Hindu festival, Kumbh Mela , and described their beliefs as "satanic paganism". His inept missionary zeal not only sparked criticism in the Indian press, but also met with displeasure from many Europeans. The Reverend Jennings, however, found numerous imitators among both British civilians and the military. The Fatehpur British District Judge erected stone pillars with the Ten Commandments carved on them in English, Urdu , Hindi and Persian , and took the time to read the Bible to locals in Hindi two or three times a week. Individual British officers used their authority to give their subordinates similar religious instruction in order to convert them to the Christian faith. There were attempts at reform against the caste system , and Indian families were prohibited from excluding relatives who had converted to the Christian faith from the line of succession. The ritual burning of widows was forbidden by law in 1829; by the early 1850s, widows were legally allowed to remarry. The British administration reversed land donations to temples and mosques when the occasion arose, although a large number of mosques, Koran schools and Sufi shrines relied on leases from these land donations to finance themselves. In Delhi alone, the British expropriated a total of nine mosques. A special affront for devout Indians were the individual cases in which temples or mosques were destroyed because they stood in the way of road projects, expropriated land was given to missionaries so that they could build churches there, or confiscated mosques were given to Christian groups to house them in To transform churches.

The British reform enthusiasm severely disrupted the unstable balance between supremacy and non-interference and created an environment in which Indians increasingly had to believe rumors that the British were aiming for a complete Christianization of the Indian subcontinent. The rumor that the paper cartridges of the new Enfield rifle were specifically impregnated with beef suet so that soldiers would lose their membership of the Hindu community had to appear credible against this background.



Indian soldiers mutinied several times before 1857 when British orders resulted in them violating their religious obligations: Before the mutiny in Velur in 1806, British officers ordered Indian soldiers, among other things, to wear a uniform made of leather were. However, wearing cowhide was sacrilege for Hindus. You should also do without the forehead point while on duty . In the mutiny that followed, 129 people died on the British side. 350 of the mutinous soldiers were killed. Another 19 were executed after the uprising was put down . In 1824, a similar ignoring of the religious obligations of Indian soldiers led to a mutiny that again resulted in the death of British soldiers, Indian soldiers sentenced to death and an Indian regiment disbanded. In addition to these two well-known refusals of orders, several mutinies had occurred on a smaller scale, some of which remained unknown to the public.


Lock of the 3-band Enfield from 1853

The start of the uprising is in close temporal association with the abolition of the Brown Bess - musket , by the modern Enfield rifle should be replaced. This muzzle loader - rifle missed paper cartridges whose folded end under UK drill regulations are bitten before loading with the teeth had. The cartridges with black powder to protect from moisture and achieve less contamination of the weapon when shooting, had paper cartridges with grease impregnated be. From January 1857 at the latest, the rumor had spread within the British-Indian armed forces that the cartridges had been treated with a mixture of beef tallow and lard . Faithful Hindus and Muslims had to appear as a serious affront so alike. In fact, there seems to have been isolated use of lard and beef tallow at the beginning. The British East India Company eliminated this error as soon as it became aware of it. A mixture of beeswax and clarified butter (" ghee ") or mutton fat was then used for the cartridges and the sepoys were allowed to grease the cartridges themselves. All confidence-building measures had no effect. As the questioning of Indian soldiers who refused to give orders in Barakpur in February 1857 showed, the Indian soldiers meanwhile also distrusted the paper cartridge casing, whose unaccustomed smoothness and shimmer they also attributed to a treatment with fat.

As early as January, when the rumor first appeared, there had been isolated cases of small arson attacks against British facilities in various garrisons in North and East India. In February, the sepoys of the 19th Regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) in Baharampur refused to give orders to use the new cartridges. The first acts of violence occurred on March 29, 1857 when the Sepoy Mangal Pandey of the 34th Regiment of the BNI attacked and seriously wounded an adjutant and the British sergeant of his regiment in Barrackpur north of Kolkata . The two British soldiers probably only survived because an Indian soldier of Muslim faith intervened and temporarily incapacitated Mangal Pandey. Indian soldiers of Hindu faith, on the other hand, remained inactive during their comrade's attack on their British superiors. Pandey was sentenced to death and hanged on April 8th. On March 30th the 19th and on May 6th the 34th regiment was disarmed.

Mutiny of the garrison in Merath

On May 7, 1857, 85 of 90 ordered sepoys of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry of the Merath garrison refused to use the newly issued Enfield rifles. They justified this with the fact that otherwise they would lose their caste membership and would no longer be able to return to their families. Those who refused to obey were sentenced to 10 years of forced labor the next day. On May 9, the commanding officer had all Indian and European troops present in Merath line up on the parade field. In the presence of their comrades, the 85 condemned Indian soldiers were stripped of their uniforms and shackled. Both the verdict and the public demotion have also been deemed unnecessarily harsh by some British officers.

The uprising broke out in the late afternoon of May 10th. Indian civilians were involved in these first acts of violence, in the course of which fifty European soldiers, civil servants, women and children were massacred. The European troops stationed in Merath could neither prevent the condemned sepoys from being freed by the insurgents, nor could the mutinous troops withdraw towards Delhi, 60 kilometers away.

Outbreak of the uprising in Delhi

Bahadur Shah II on a painting around 1854

The sphere of influence of the 82-year-old Bahadur Shah Zafar II , the last of the Mughals, was limited to his palace, the Red Fort in Delhi . Despite this little influence, he was considered a nominal sovereign by both the Indian population and the Indian provinces and states. Delhi was therefore the place where the insurgent troops gathered.

About 20 Indian cavalrymen arrived in front of the palace at around 7 a.m. on May 11 and called on the Mughal to support the uprising. The Mughal left their request unanswered and sent for the British commander of his bodyguard, who asked the insurgent soldiers to gather outside the city walls while their case was being investigated. A little later the first fighting broke out at the city gates, which quickly spread to the entire city area. An incident at the Kaschmirtor shows how quickly the uprising spread. In response to reports that cavalrymen from Merath were causing unrest in Delhi, the 54th Indian regiment was commanded on the morning of May 11 from the military camp to Delhi, about 3 kilometers to the north. When the regiment marched through the Kashmiri Gate into the city, insurgent cavalrymen shot four of the British officers. When the surviving officers ordered the Indian soldiers under their command to return fire, they merely shot into the air and then attacked the officers together with the Sawars.

During the afternoon, the Mughal headed the uprising. According to the later accounts of court officials and the Indian nobles present, this was done to calm the several hundred armed and agitated soldiers who had gathered in the Red Fort in front of the private chambers of the Grand Mughal. The support of the insurgents was not shared by all members of the Mughal court. The British side was supported, among other things, by Zafar's favorite wife Zinat Mahal , who may also have linked the hope that the British would secure the succession of their son Jawan Bakht to the throne . Jawan Bakht, unlike his older half-brother Mirza Mughal, never took an active role during the uprising.

By the evening of May 11th, Delhi was completely in the hands of the insurgents. Indian soldiers and civilians had targeted the houses of the Europeans, Eurasians and Christianized Indians living in Delhi throughout the day, plundered and pillaged them and killed the residents. Those who survived the first assaults fled the insurgent city in small isolated groups. Most of them tried to reach British military bases in the Delhi area. During their escape, they occasionally found protection and help from Indians, and they were often exposed to attacks by Indian civilians as well as troops roaming around. The brutality of the attacks later served the British as a justification for their no less cruel reprisals. In a frequently cited incident, a group of around 52 unarmed men, women and children initially found shelter in the Red Fort for a few days. On May 16, however, despite the protests of the Great Mogul in a courtyard of the Red Fort, they were joined by Muslim servants of the court executed by the sword.

Expansion of the uprising

The uprising spread from Delhi to most of northern and large parts of central India. Among the insurgent centers included not only Delhi Lucknow , Kanpur , Jhansi , Bareilly , Arrah and Jagdishpur . The rebels often found support from Indian princes; However, many of the Indian princes supported the British in the clashes, as a revolution in the social order endangered their power base.

In the power vacuum that arose after the collapse of British supremacy, there were also unrest and attacks within the Indian population. Moneylenders and merchants who were accused of profiting from British rule were particularly affected. The civilians who joined the insurgent soldiers were, according to contemporary British reports, “badmashes” or petty criminals; Often, however, those involved are likely to have been members of the poorest Indian classes who tried to achieve relative prosperity through the looting.

In the first weeks of the uprising, the local British forces were often insufficiently informed about the events in Delhi and other types of garrison: Telegraph connections were partially interrupted and messengers often did not reach the other garrison towns. Many of the British officers were convinced of the loyalty of the Indian troops subordinate to them and doubted that they would join the uprising, or were convinced that decisive action could nip any mutiny in the bud. Others assumed that mutinous troops would quickly move to Delhi, the center of the uprising. Despite differences in the details, the course of the uprising is similar to that in Delhi: Indian soldiers initially turned against their own officers, Indian civilians joined the insurgent soldiers, and as a result British military personnel and European and Eurasian civilians were murdered.

Three events are particularly significant to British and Indian historiography. The Kanpur massacre of defenseless British women and children was considered by contemporaries such as the respected historian Sir George Trevelyan as " the most terrible tragedy of our age " or " the greatest disaster for our race ". The resistance of the besieged in Lucknow is revered as heroic in British historiography to this day. In India, on the other hand, the Rani von Jhansi, who headed rebellious troops, are revered as a popular heroine. The course of these three events is shown in more detail below because of their significance.

Kanpur massacre

Nana Sahib and his escort approach the rebellious Indian troops

The uprising in Kanpur was led by the 35-year-old Brahmin Nana Sahib , an adopted son of Baji Rao II , the last Peshwa of Pune . Pune was one of the more important Marathas principalities, its ruler Baji Rao had been dethroned by the British and exiled in Bithur . He received a generous annual pension from the British until his death in 1851, which his adopted son and heir Nana Sahib was refused. After the outbreak of the uprising, insurgents asked Nana Sahib to take a leading role in the uprising. After initial hesitation, he wanted to lead the Sepoy troops on their way to Delhi. However, members of his court dissuaded him from submitting himself as a high-ranking Hindu to the Muslim mogul in Delhi. Papers found after the end of the uprising suggest that Nana Sahib was considering not only retaking the throne of his adoptive father, but also making neighboring principalities his vassals. The conquest of Kanpur, on the Grand Trunk Road between Delhi and Benares , should be the first step in this direction.

The Indian troops stationed in Kanpur comprised three infantry regiments and a cavalry as well as a company of artillery and thus around 3,000 men in 1857. About 300 British soldiers served in Kanpur. Convinced that insurgent troops would withdraw to Delhi very quickly, Major General Hugh Wheeler in command had made little effort to prepare his garrison for a possible siege. When the signs of an uprising increased, the Europeans and Eurasians living in the city withdrew behind the entrenchments of the garrison. Then on the night of June 5th there was a riot; he quickly captured all Indian troops in Kanpur. At that time, almost 1,000 people were gathered in the garrison. In addition to the 300 European soldiers, there were about another 100 European men, 80 loyal sepoys, 400 women and children and a number of Indian servants. The defenders had sufficient muskets and ammunition, but little artillery.

The well in Kanpur, into which the body parts of the slain British women and children were thrown

The bombardment of the garrison by the insurgent troops quickly led to high losses among those barricaded there. None of the garrison buildings were built strong enough to withstand artillery fire, so that the besieged found nowhere protection from the bombardment. There was a lack of water and food. In the hope of reinforcement from Lucknow, the besieged held out until June 25th. They then accepted Nana Sahib's offer of surrender, which offered them the prospect of an unhindered withdrawal by boat to Allahabad . While the British were boarding the boats at Sati Chowra aisle harbor , Indian troops opened fire. The British men who survived the firefight were nearly all killed on the spot. In contrast, around 125 women and children survived. They were brought back to Kanpur as prisoners, where they were locked up in Bibighar with other women and children, mostly refugees from the Fatehgarh siege .

As British troops approached Kanpur under the command of Henry Havelock , Nana Sahib had the women and children brought to Kanpur executed on July 16. Since his troops refused to do this, butchers were requisitioned in the Kanpur bazaar, who killed the 73 women and 124 children who were still alive with swords, axes and hatchets. Most of the body parts were thrown into a well. The British troops arrived in Kanpur the day after this incident and found bits of clothing, hair and parts of the body at the site of the mass execution. The incident was the reason for the British troops to conduct the already very cruel retaliatory campaign with even greater severity.

Siege of Lucknow

In contrast to Kanpur, the commander-in-chief of Lucknow, Sir Henry Lawrence , assumed very early on that this city would also be affected by the uprising. The 32nd regiment of the British Army and four regiments of the British East India Company were stationed in Lucknow; However, Lawrence did not dare to disarm these four regiments, fearing that this would be the spark that would spark the outbreak of the uprising. As early as May 23, he had food stored. His own residence and 16 adjoining buildings offered better defenses than the actual garrison, so he had it prepared for a siege by building bastions and ditching defensive trenches. 855 British and 712 Indian officers and soldiers and a total of 1,433 British civilians holed up there. There were hundreds of women and children among the civilians.

Soldiers from Madras who retook Lucknow under Colin Campbell in November 1857

Most of the Indian troops stationed in Lucknow mutinied from May 30, the Muslim festival of breaking the fast . The intense siege of the residence by about 8,000 sepoys and several hundred Indian civilians did not begin until June 30, 1857. Henry Lawrence had previously tried to face the insurgent troops in an open battle. This decision turned out to be a mistake. 172 Europeans and 193 Indians fell on the British side before they could retreat back into the garrison. Due to the poor hygienic conditions, cholera and dysentery soon broke out in the residence , claiming as many victims as the shelling by the rebellious Indian troops. On average, more than 20 of the besieged died every day; many of the victims were children. Henry Lawrence died of a gunshot wound at the beginning of the siege. At the end of August only 650 men were defending the garrison; another 120 were too sick or injured to join the defense. Only 450 of the women and children were still alive.

On September 25th, troops led by Sir Henry Havelock and Sir James Outram strengthened the besieged residence. The original goal of Havelock and Outram was to relieve the besieged residence. However, the troops suffered so high losses on approaching the besieged residence that this project had to be abandoned. From the point of view of Sir Colin Campbell , the new Commander-in-Chief in India, the liberation of Lucknow was of such strategic and symbolic value that he concentrated his military forces on it. British civil servant Thomas Henry Kavanagh managed to sneak through the Indian lines on the night of November 9th and bring Campbell a map showing the positions of the Indian troops. On the basis of this information, Campbell initially bypassed Lucknow in a wide arc and then attacked from the east, where the rebel troops were less concentrated. The capture of Lucknow was successful, so that on November 18 the besieged could be evacuated from Lucknow. However, the British forces were too weak to hold the city and Lucknow was again left to the insurgents.

The defense of the residence, in which British soldiers and civilians alike participated, is honored in British historiography as exemplary courageous and heroic. The fact that a Union Jack fluttered over the residence without interruption contributed to the creation of the legend . Several of the defenders were later awarded the Victoria Cross , the highest British honor for bravery, because they tried in various failures to eliminate parts of the besiegers' artillery.


Monument in honor of the Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmibai in Agra
The fortress of Jhansi, photo from 1882

Lakshmibai was married to the much older Raja of Jhansi Gangadhar Rao when he was fourteen . The connection resulted in a son who died very young. Shortly before his death, Gangadhar Rao adopted a son who would succeed him to the throne. Until he came of age, Lakshmibai was to rule for him. According to the Doctrine of Lapse , however, Lord Dalhousie also annexed this princely state after the Raja's death . The dethroned Rani was allowed to continue to reside in the palace and received a generous pension . The Rani protested against this treatment in London; their objection was not granted. The Rani was held in high esteem among the British living in Jhansi. When the Indian soldiers stationed outside Jhansi joined the uprising in June 1857, the Europeans and Eurasians living there placed themselves under their protection. However, the Rani could not prevent most of them from being murdered by insurgent Indian soldiers in June 1857. To the British, the Rani denied any role in the massacre and emphasized their loyalty.

In the months that followed, troops from neighboring princely states invaded their territory. After her appeals for British aid were unsuccessful, she successfully defended her princely state against the invaders with the help of insurgent troops. When British troops marched on Jhansi in March 1858 to take revenge there for the massacres committed against Europeans and Eurasians, she decided to defend the fortress of Jhansi at the head of the rebels. The Indian rebel leader Tantya Tope came to her aid with a force of 22,000 men. Due to tactical errors, the troops under the leadership of Tantya Tope were defeated in the Battle of Betwa on April 1st by a significantly outnumbered British force under Hugh Rose, 1st Baron Strathnairn . Jhansi was captured by the British on October 3rd. More than 3,000 Indians were killed. Most of the victims were unarmed civilians. The Rani von Jhansi managed to leave the city with her adopted son and fifty followers before the British could arrest them. On May 22nd, British troops attacked Kalpi fortress. The Rani von Jhansi personally led the counterattack by Indian troops, who were also defeated in this battle. Once again the Rani managed to escape together with other leaders of the uprising such as Tantya Tope, Banda's nawab and Rao Sahib, Nana Sahib's nephew. In Gwalior they were able to persuade the Indian troops stationed there to join the uprising. Maharaja Sindhia, who remained loyal to the British, fled the district. Sir Hugh Rose and his troops had followed the fugitives. On June 16, he reached the outskirts of the city of Gwalior. On June 17th, the Rani von Jhansi was killed in a cavalry battle. According to an eyewitness report, she was wearing the uniform of a sowar and attacked one of the British riders. She was thrown from her horse herself and injured, presumably by a sword blow by the British cavalryman. She shot her attacker with a pistol. However, this killed her with a rifle shot.

British counterattack

British troop strength

Many Indians behaved neutrally in the first few weeks of the uprising, expecting a swift and aggressive British military reaction. This did not happen because in the first few weeks after the outbreak of the uprising, the entire available British military strength consisted of five regiments, all of which were needed to protect the most important British military bases. A retaking of Delhi by the British did not take place at first because there was a lack of troops and artillery. The few mobile task forces that the British were able to form consisted of regular British troops, some volunteers from Benares and Allahabad, some Sikh regiments, young Eurasians from the military orphanages in Madras and soldiers from Calcutta who had been transferred to prison. Their ability to fight was seriously impaired by illness and the heat. During the Battle of Kanpur on July 16, during which the British soldiers had to march through the greatest midday heat, more than 100 of them passed out because of the unbearable heat. The first attempt to retake Lucknow had to be canceled because Henry Havelock had only 700 operational men left shortly before Lucknow.

The first British victory since the beginning of the uprising was achieved by Henry Havelock on the advance on Kanpur on July 12, 1857. By August 1857, when the new Commander-in-Chief Canning arrived in Calcutta, the British had won several important tactical victories. The insurgent troops had won other battles, such as in Chinug and Sasia. Delhi, Agra and Lucknow were still besieged by insurgent troops. There had been riots in Jhansi , Nowgong , Banda , Gwalior , Indore , Mhow , Sagar and Sehore . Large parts of Bundelkhand , Bhopal and Sagar as well as Nerbudda were in the hands of insurgents. In parts of central India, the British only got the upper hand thanks to a quick withdrawal of insurgent troops to Delhi. On the Indian side, there was a lack of concerted and coordinated action against the British during the first few months when they could have won the uprising. For the Indian side, it had a negative effect that it had no officers who had experience in leading larger troops or who were trained in battle tactics. The British therefore often succeeded in defeating insurgent troops that were far superior in numbers. The British troops were also better equipped. On the British side, the Enfield rifle was mainly used, which was clearly superior to the older Bess Brown musket in terms of range and accuracy. It took the British several months to muster enough troops to effectively suppress the uprising. Several Scottish regiments, actually sent on a military mission to China, were diverted to Calcutta. Other troops were transferred from Burma and the loyal provinces to the insurgent regions of India. Nepal sent Gurkha -Soldaten to support the British, and especially in the Punjab were Sikhs recruited. Quite a few princes either remained neutral or became allies of the British in the fight against the rebels, as they did not want the Mughals to return. The so-called Bombay and Madras armies of the British East India Company ultimately remained loyal. In 1858, the British in Bengal had a total of 46,400 British and 58,000 Indian soldiers and thus sufficient strength.

Form of British warfare

Drawing from the Illustrated London News of the same year. Execution by cannon and hanging
Hanged Indian rebels

The fact that British civilians were murdered in the course of the uprising turned British military action into a campaign of revenge. As " the killing of British women and children was not enough ", contemporary reports had detailed the rape and torture of British women and children during the Indian uprising. They indulged in such bloodthirsty details that Christopher Herbert describes the form of representation as explicitly and semi-pornographic, which is unusual for Victorian conditions. The alleged torture and rape were found to be almost completely unfounded in the subsequent investigations after the suppression of the uprising, but the alleged incidents prompted brutal reprisals. The lion hearts of our soldiers lust for revenge on these bloodthirsty criminals is one of the characteristic sentences that British soldiers wrote home to their families. Indians were “ punished ” regardless of gender or age and their participation in the uprising. British officers allowed the British and Indian troops they led to raped and tortured, and in some cases encouraged this practice and exploited rivalries between individual Indian ethnic groups. Sikhs in particular often took cruel revenge on insurgent sepoys who had fought for the British against them a few years earlier during the Sikh war . However, most of the war crimes were committed either directly by the British or at their orders. The example of Kanpur is typical, where the morning after the city was retaken, discipline within the British troops largely collapsed. Spurred on by alcohol, the sight of the bloodied Bibighar and rumors of the desecration of British women, British soldiers attacked the Indian part of the city to rape and rape. Henry Havelock, horrified by the crimes, had all alcohol bought up in Kanpur and his troops' camp built a little further outside the city. He threatened to hang British soldiers who participated in looting. However, this sentence was imposed on only one British soldier.

Villages were burned down during the Reconquest, with British troops accepting the deaths of the elderly and children, and mass hangings and shootings ensued . In their letters home, many Brits reported the stoic calm with which sepoys went to their execution , and ascribed this to the sepoys' certainty that as Muslims they would be admitted to Paradise after death or, as Hindus, expected to be rebirthed. Increasingly, British soldiers wanted those convicted to be humiliated before their execution and to be forced into acts contrary to the religious duties of their respective religions. Muslims were forced to eat pork or smeared with pork fat before they were executed . Hindus were buried instead of cremated , as their religion required, and had to dig their own graves before they were executed. The use of a traditional method of execution by the Mughals, in which those sentenced to death were tied in front of cannons and torn apart with one shot, was also aimed at offending the religious feelings of the convicts. Officers such as James Neill , whom the contemporary politician George Trevelyan described as a "monster" responsible for murderous retaliation, forced Hindus to lick parts of the blood-smeared Bibighar with their tongues. When Sir Colin Campbell reached Kanpur on November 3, 1857, one of his first acts was to outlaw this form of punishment as " unworthy of an English name and Christian government ."

Recapture of Delhi

The capture of the Great Mughal on September 19, 1857

The crackdown on the rebels by the British was essentially concentrated in three places: the main road that led through Kanpur and Lucknow to the south of Oudh , central India and the region around Delhi. Delhi had a special symbolic meaning as the center of the uprising, as Bahadur Shah Zafar II. The nominal head of the uprising resided here and most of the rebellious troops had gathered here. At the beginning of August 1857 there were between 30,000 and 40,000 insurgent sepoys in the city. The British Delhi Field Force had entrenched itself on the ridge opposite the north-western city wall. Although it only had 7,000 men, over a quarter of whom were unable to operate due to illness, injuries and exhaustion, the British managed to maintain their position. The insurgent sepoys had worn down their opponents with artillery fire and a series of courageous attacks, inflicting heavy losses on them. However, the British position was never conquered - according to many modern historians only because the Indian rebels lacked suitable and universally accepted military leaders. The perseverance of the British caused increasing unrest in the rebellious Delhi, as it was foreseeable that British troops would soon reinforce those entrenched on the ridge. More than 10,000 of the insurgent troops left the city between August 21 and 25. British reinforcements arrived on September 4th and on September 14th the retaking of Delhi began, which continued until September 20th. The hiding place of Bahadur Shah Zafar II on the area of ​​the Humayun mausoleum was betrayed by his son-in-law and the Mughal Mughal was captured by the British officer William Hodson . Two of his sons and one of his grandsons were shot dead immediately after William Hodson was captured. The brutal reprisals by the British side were repeated in Delhi. The city was also systematically looted.

End of the uprising

Sikandar Bagh in Lucknow after being stormed by British troops, photo by Felice Beato , March 1858 - The decayed corpses of Indian rebels lie in the inner courtyard

There is no consensus as to which military conflict would be the tipping point at which the British could be sure of a complete suppression of the uprising. From the British point of view, the reconquest of Delhi by the British was a major milestone in pacifying India. The insurgent troops were then largely segmented and Oudh, southeast of Delhi, became the new center of the uprising. After the successful liberation of the beleaguered residence Lucknow in this region in November 1857, Colin Campbell withdrew with his troops to Unao. Over the next few weeks he assembled the strongest British army that had been assembled in India up to that point, and finally had 164 cannons and 31,000 men.

Despite this large number of troops and the British victories, Kanpur was besieged again in November 1857. A new fort had been built in Kanpur since the reconquest, in order to be able to withstand a new siege if necessary. General Charles Ash Windham had been in command of the troops in Kanpur since November 9, 1857, who had 1,700 soldiers in mid-November. Tantya Tope, who is considered one of the most capable Indian military leaders of the uprising, although he had no military training, was not far from Kanpur and had gathered more than 15,000 insurgent soldiers there. Thanks to a very dense network of informants, he was well informed about British troop movements and strengths and approached Kanpur as soon as he was certain that Colin Campbell's troops were too far from Kanpur to intervene quickly. General Windham attempted to face Tantya Tope in open battle on November 26th and suffered a definite defeat. The fleeing troops holed up in the fort. In contrast to the first siege, this time they had sufficient provisions. The new entrenchments offered better protection against attacks. Massacres continued when Indian insurgent soldiers searched the city of Kanpur to catch those who had not made it behind the entrenchments fast enough. Several Sikh women, whose men fought in Colin Campbell's troops, were murdered. Two wounded British officers who were taken prisoner in India were demonstratively hanged from the tree near the Bibighar on which James Neill had previously hung his Indian prisoners. Indians suspected of collaboration with the British by Tantya Tope had their noses cut off and their hands chopped off. Sir Colin Campbell, who had rushed up from Lucknow, attacked the outnumbered Indian troops on December 6 with 5,000 infantry and 600 cavalry soldiers and was able to defeat them. Tantya Tope escaped.

After the withdrawal of the British troops on November 18, 1857, Lucknow had returned to Indian hands. At the end of February 1858 Colin Campbell again led British troops to attack Lucknow. After several days of street fighting, Lucknow fell back to the British on March 15. With this victory at the latest, the British could be sure of a final suppression of the uprising. Indian troops fought British troops throughout 1858; however, the British side was so sure of victory that in August 1858 the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act , which transformed most of India into a crown colony . The end of the uprising is often equated with the day Tantya Tope died. Throughout 1858 he had inflicted serious defeats on the British , primarily through guerrilla attacks . He was betrayed by his own people on April 7, 1859, and hanged by the British on April 18.


The secondary literature published in recent years does not provide any information on the number of victims on the British or Indian side. The only thing that is relatively certain is that 2,757 British soldiers were killed in the fighting. For every thousand crew grades, there were 27 fallen soldiers (2.7%). Four percent of the officers died. This is a relatively small number compared to the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 and the Franco-German War of 1870/71. Many other British soldiers, however, died from illness. During a three-day march in July 1858 alone, 22 British soldiers died from heat stroke. The number of civilian casualties on the British side is also not known, despite numerous primary sources. William Jonah Shepherd, who by chance survived the Kanpur massacres while his wife and children died, even immediately after the reconquest of Kanpur failed to compile a list of all the British and Eurasians who were killed in Kanpur. However, his list would not have given a complete picture of the victims on the British side, as this side would also include the Indian servants who loyally stood by their employers and were killed in the process. Official documents that could be used to estimate the number of victims were largely destroyed during the sieges and the looting that followed.

It is agreed that the number of deaths on the Indian side exceeds that on the British side many times over. Here, however, the sources are again significantly poorer than for the British side. There are several primary sources that describe the events from an Indian perspective. They emerged predominantly at the time when the British side tried to clear up individual events immediately after or even during the uprising of 1857. Saul Ward writes of these sources that the propensity of some Indians to tell the British only what they wanted to hear was usually the same as the propensity of the British to hear only what they believed to be true . This complicates a description of the events that is fair to both sides and makes it impossible to determine the number of Indian victims.


Reactions in the UK

Justice - contemporary caricature in Punch magazine

William Thackeray , who was born in India in 1811, judged that his British contemporaries had very little knowledge of India. In his view, for many of his fellow citizens, before the outbreak of 1857, it was a land of fairy tale features and great wealth. Most believed its residents to be weak, peace-loving adherents of superstitious religions. For the British middle and upper classes, India was still the country in which younger sons who were not entitled to inheritance could pursue careers. Only a very small number of Britons had any idea of ​​Indian languages, literature and philosophy, or a more thorough knowledge of Indian history. When the first news of the uprising in Merath and Delhi reached Great Britain on June 27, 1857, the British population was traumatized. Many perceived the uprising in India as a break in time and a great national crisis, demanded vengeance for the murdered British and honored officers such as James Neill, John Nicholson , Henry Havelock, Colin Campbell and William Hodson as heroes. Charles John Canning , who tried to end the uprising with a sense of proportion, was ridiculed in the press as " Timid Canning " or " Clemency Canning ". He found support from Queen Victoria , who expressed concern about the unchristian thirst for revenge of her compatriots and " vehemently rejected an undifferentiated condemnation of the sepoys ".

A large number of educated British people, disaffected, recognized a large gap between their own national self-image and the external perception of their supposedly grateful imperial subjects. Large parts of the press coined a stereotypical image of the raping, torturing and treacherous sepoy; but very soon a differentiated reporting set in. William Howard Russell , a war correspondent for the Times, was in India from the fall of 1857 and reported critically about the suppression of the uprising. He predicted a collapse of the British Empire due to a political and moral failure by imperialism and confronted his readers with the war crimes committed by the British side. In his Indian diaries, published later, he stated that the rebels in Oudh were defending their fatherland in a patriotic war and should therefore be treated as honorable enemies. British historiography dealt with the events in a similarly differentiated manner. In his History of the Indian Uprising, published around 1860/1861, Charles Ball also cited questionable eyewitness accounts in an uncritical and undifferentiated manner. But he also confronted his readers with the brutality of British retaliation. Montgomery Martin analyzed the uprising in India much more critically. Christopher Herbert describes this work as the furthest removed from the Eurocentric view of the Indian uprising that was widespread in the 19th century, which depicted the uprising primarily as a drama with diabolical sepoys and heroic British heroes and martyrs. A significant change in British historiography did not take place until 1924 with Edward John Thompson's The Other Side of the Medal , who used his critical account of the uprising as the starting point for a critique of British imperialism in India.

The British public was more concerned with the events than with the Crimean War , although the number of British casualties in the Crimean War was significantly higher. The intensive examination is reflected in a very high number of memories, biographies and images. By 1947, no fewer than eighty novels had appeared in Great Britain, the plot of which was set against the background of the Indian uprising of 1857.

Reorganization of India

This photo shows Bahadur Shah II at the age of 82 shortly before his sentencing in Delhi in 1858. It is possibly the only photograph ever taken of a Mughal emperor

After the rebellion was put down, the British East India Company was disbanded as the British government saw its practices in treating the Indian population as the main cause of the uprising. British India became a formal crown colony. The last only nominally reigning 80-year-old Mughal Bahadur Shah Zafar II was deposed and exiled to Burma, where he died in 1863.

In the course of the coming decades, the gap between the British and the Indians, that is, colonial rulers and imperial subjects, was to widen even further. The stereotypes of raping, torturing and traitorous sepoys manifested themselves in the imagination of the British, which was shaped by the British press. In the years that followed, the British tried to keep the Indian aristocracy close to the British administration and refrained from extensive social and economic reforms. All religious intervention was prevented, which led to a flourishing of the orthodox currents of Hinduism. While Britain tried to secure the agricultural profits of India for itself under the policy of non-interference, Indian society experienced a long phase of standstill or, as Klein put it, "the development of underdevelopment".

Mangal Pandey , hanged on April 8th, is widely worshiped as India's first independence fighter. The youthful Rani of Jhansi Lakshmibai became the folk heroine of India (the "Joan of Arc of India") through her steadfast resistance in the defense of the Jhansi fortress as well as in the subsequent battles and her untimely death.

Places of remembrance of the uprising of 1857

Stone plaque at Kashmirgate in memory of the reconquest on September 14, 1857
Memorial plaque for the fallen British soldiers of York and Lancaster Gov. at York Minster

A number of buildings and places that played a role during the uprising of 1857, today with monuments and tombs as well as information boards commemorate the events of the years 1857 to 1859. The Red Fort in Delhi has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2007 . There, among other things, the private audience hall (Diwan-i-Khas) is open to the public, in front of which the rebellious sepoys gathered on May 11, 1857. The Kashmiri Gate in Delhi, which was the site of fierce fighting at the beginning of the uprising and during the reconquest, is now a national monument. In the nearby St. James Church, numerous plaques remind of British regiments and individuals who played a role during the Indian uprising. In Merath, the graves of the British victims can be found in the cemetery of the former British garrison, who died on the evening and night of May 10, 1857. Sikandar Bagh , in which numerous Indians were killed during the reconquest of Lucknow, has been rebuilt and is now home to the National Botanical Research Institute of India. On the spot where the Kanpur garrison defended itself for weeks, shortly after the end of the uprising, the British built a large church that still exists today and in which the names of the British people who lived during the period are written on stone tablets Siege were killed. In the ground around the church stones mark the course of the defensive wall. Around the well into which the victims of the Bibighar massacre were thrown, the British created a park that was only accessible to Europeans and Indian Christians until India's independence. The park was redesigned after India gained independence. Monuments in the park are reminiscent of Nana Sahib and Tantya Tope . The tree on which the British hanged hundreds of Indians in 1857 , even if there was little reason to suspect they were involved in the massacres, is also in the park. The tree has now fallen.


  • Harold E. Raugh Jr.: The Raugh bibliography of the Indian Mutiny, 1857-1859 . Helion, Solihull 2015. 903 pp. - “Quite a definitive bibliography” (Raugh).


  • Sashi Bhusan Chaudhuri: English Historical Writings on The Indian Mutiny 1857-1859. World Press, Calcutta 1979.
  • William Dalrymple : The Last Mughal. The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857. Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2006, ISBN 0-7475-8726-4 .
  • Saul David : The Indian Mutiny. 1857. Penguin Books, London 2003, ISBN 0-14-100554-8 .
  • Saul David: Victoria's Wars. Penguin Books, London 2006, ISBN 0-14-100555-6 .
  • Don Randall: Autumn 1857. The Making of the Indian Mutiny. In: Victorian Literature and Culture. Vol. 31 (2003), ISSN  0092-4725 , pp. 3-17.
  • Astrid Erll: Premediation - Remediation. Representations of the Indian uprising in imperial and post-colonial media cultures (from 1857 to the present). WVT, Trier 2007, ISBN 978-3-88476-862-4 (plus habilitation thesis, University of Gießen).
  • Niall Ferguson : Empire. The Rise and Demise of the British World Order. Basic Books, New York NY 2003, ISBN 0-465-02328-2 .
  • Christopher Herbert: War of no pity. The Indian Mutiny and Victorian Trauma. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ 2008, ISBN 978-0-691-13332-4 .
  • Christopher Hibbert: The great mutiny. India 1857. Allan Lane, London 1978. - Reprints from Penguin, Harmondsworth 1980, 1988 and 2002. - “By far the best single-volume description of the mutiny yet written” ( The Economist ).
  • Lawrence James: Raj. The Making of British India. Abacus, London 1997, ISBN 0-349-11012-3 .
  • Dennis Judd: The Lion and the Tiger. The Rise and Fall of the British Raj, 1600-1947. University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-280579-7 .
  • John William Kaye: History of the Sepoy War in India. Three volumes. Allen, London 1864-76.
  • Ira Klein: Materialism, Mutiny and Modernization in British India. In: Modern Asian Studies. 34, 3 (2000), ISSN  0026-749X , pp. 545-580.
  • Thomas R. Metcalf: The Aftermath of Revolt. India 1857-1870. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ 1964 (new paperback edition: Manohar, New Delhi 1990, ISBN 81-85054-99-1 ).
  • Tapti Roy: The politics of a popular uprising. Bundelkhand in 1857. Oxford University Press, Delhi 1994, ISBN 0-19-563612-0 .
  • Surendra Nath Sen: Eighteen fifty-seven. Min. Of Information & Broadcasting, Delhi 1957 (with a foreword by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad ).
  • Julian Spilsbury: The Indian Mutiny. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-297-84651-2 .
  • PJO Taylor: What really happened during the mutiny. A day-by-day account of the major events of 1857-1859 in India. Oxford University Press, New Delhi 1999, ISBN 0-19-565113-8 .
  • Andrew Ward: Our bones are scattered. The cawnpore massacres and the indian mutiny of 1857. John Murray Publishers, London 2004, ISBN 0-7195-6410-7 .
  • Andrew N. Wilson: The Victorians . Hutchinson Books, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-09-179622-8 .


The outbreak of the uprising was processed in 2005 in the film The Rising - Uprising of the Heroes (English title Mangal Pandey: The Rising ).

Web links

Commons : Indian Revolt of 1857  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. See, for example, Niall Ferguson : Empire. The Rise and Demise of the British World Order . Basic Books, New York 2003, ISBN 0-465-02328-2 , pp. 145-153, and William Dalrymple : The Last Mughal. The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 . Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2006, ISBN 978-0-7475-8726-2 , pp. 58-84, and Christopher Herbert: War of no Pity. The Indian Mutiny and Victorian Trauma . Princeton University Press, Princeton 2008, ISBN 978-0-691-13332-4 , for scoring the 19th century insurrection.
  2. Chaudhuri, p. 13.
  3. ^ Vinayak Damodar Savarkar: The Indian was of independence. National rising of 1857 , London 1909. The word “first” does not appear in the title; Savarkar used this term in the text.
  4. Erll, p. 21.
  5. ^ Ward, p. 6.
  6. ^ Ward, p. 448.
  7. Spilsbury, pp. 7f.
  8. Dalrymple, pp. 38f.
  9. Dalrymple, p. 39.
  10. Dalrymple, p. 37.
  11. Spilsbury, pp. 35f.
  12. David (2006), p. 307.
  13. Dalrymple, p. 10.
  14. Hibbert, p. 47.
  15. a b David (2006), p. 295.
  16. ^ Wilson, p. 203.
  17. ^ Wilson, pp. 203 and 207.
  18. David (2006), p. 297.
  19. David (2006), p. 298.
  20. David (2006), p. 296.
  21. ^ Piers Brendon: The Decline and Fall of the British Empire. 1781-1997 . Jonathan Cape, London 2007, pp. 130f.
  22. Christopher Herbert: War of no pity. The Indian Mutiny and Victorian Trauma , Princeton University Press, Princeton 2008, ISBN 978-0-691-13332-4 , p. 42.
  23. James, p. 223.
  24. ^ Ferguson, p. 136.
  25. Ferguson, p. 136. The quote is in the English original: “The inhabitants of the populous regions in India which form an important portion of the British Empire, being involved in the most deplorable state of moral darkness, and under the influence of the most abominable and degrading superstitions, have a pre-eminent claim on the most compassionate feelings and benevolent services of British Christians. "
  26. ^ Ferguson, p. 157.
  27. a b Kulke et al., P. 313.
  28. Dalrymple, pp. 59ff.
  29. Dalrymple, pp. 60f.
  30. Dalrymple, p. 62 and James, p. 235.
  31. David (2006), p. 294.
  32. a b Dalrymple, p. 69.
  33. ^ Ward, p. 11.
  34. a b Hibbert, p. 62.
  35. David (2006), pp. 291f.
  36. TO Wilson: The Victorians . Arrow Books, London 2003. ISBN 0-09-945186-7 , p. 201.
  37. David (2006), p. 292ff.
  38. David (2006), p. 293.
  39. Hibbert, pp. 68-72.
  40. A very detailed description of the events in Merath can be found in Hibbert, pp. 75–90
  41. a b Wilson, p. 204.
  42. Hibbert, pp. 92f.
  43. Hibbert, pp. 97f.
  44. Dalrymple, pp. 171-174.
  45. Dalrymple, pp. 221f.
  46. A detailed description of the flight of the Europeans from Delhi can be found u. a. in Dalrymple, pp. 143-193 and Spilsbury, pp. 35-69.
  47. Dalrymple, pp. 222ff., And James, pp. 240f.
  48. James, p. 243.
  49. James, pp. 244f.
  50. James, pp. 241ff.
  51. Both quotations are from George Trevelyan: Cawnpore , 1865, quoted from Herbert, p. 183.
  52. James, p. 234.
  53. ^ Ward, pp. 34-40.
  54. ^ Ward, pp. 168ff.
  55. ^ Ward, p. 170.
  56. A more detailed characterization of Nana Sahib can be found in Hibbert, pp. 172–177.
  57. a b James, p. 248.
  58. Hibbert, p. 177.
  59. James, p. 251.
  60. a b James, p. 252.
  61. David (2006), p. 315.
  62. Herbert, p. 4.
  63. ^ Wilson, p. 216.
  64. ^ Ward, p. 243.
  65. David (2006), p. 317.
  66. a b David (2006), p. 334.
  67. David (2006), pp. 334-341.
  68. ^ Wilson, p. 217.
  69. David (2006), p. 350.
  70. David (2006), pp. 350f.
  71. David (2006), p. 351.
  72. David (2006), pp. 351f.
  73. James, pp. 245f.
  74. a b c James, p. 253.
  75. Ward, p. 392: Ward describes the convicted soldiers from Calcutta as "the usual crapulous and semisuicidal deserters and derelicts dragged out of the grog shops and flophouses of Calcutta".
  76. ^ Ward, p. 402.
  77. ^ Ward, p. 396.
  78. David (2006), p. 324f.
  79. a b David (2006), p. 325.
  80. ^ Ward, p. 403.
  81. James, p. 246.
  82. a b c James, p. 254.
  83. a b A. N. Wilson: The Victorians , London 2002, ISBN 0-09-945186-7 , p. 209.
  84. ^ Herbert, p. 183.
  85. ^ Letter from Private Potiphar of the 9th Lancers, quoted from James, p. 256.
  86. a b James, p. 256.
  87. ^ Ward, p. 439.
  88. ^ Ward, p. 443.
  89. ^ Ward, pp. 441f.
  90. Herbert, p. 192.
  91. ^ Ward, p. 477.
  92. James, p. 258.
  93. See, for example, James, pp. 258f., And for a very detailed account of the events in Delhi: Dalrymple, pp. 264–364.
  94. James, p. 259.
  95. James, p. 260.
  96. ^ Ward, p. 500.
  97. a b James, p. 261.
  98. ^ Ward, p. 478.
  99. Ward, S. 480f.
  100. ^ Ward, p. 483.
  101. ^ Ward, p. 484.
  102. James, p. 262.
  103. James, p. 255.
  104. ^ Ward, p. 542.
  105. Ward, p. 555. The original quote is: "The disposition of some Indians of the time to tell the British only what they wanted to hear was usually matched by the the British inclination to hear only what they wanted to believe."
  106. William Thackeray quoted from James, p. 279ff.
  107. James, p. 278.
  108. Herbert, p. 2.
  109. ^ Wilson, p. 219.
  110. Herbert, p. 16f.
  111. Herbert, p. 65.
  112. ^ William Henry Russel: My Diary in India, in the Year 1858-9 .
  113. ^ Herbert, p. 79.
  114. For a detailed assessment of contemporary historiography see Herbert, pp. 134–204.
  115. ^ Charles Ball: History of the Indian Mutiny , 1860/1861.
  116. ^ Herbert, p. 155.
  117. ^ R. Montgomery Martin: The Mutiny of the Bengal Army , Volume 2 of the three-volume work The Indian Empire , published in 1861.
  118. Herbert, p. 164.
  119. ^ Edward John Thompson: The other Side of the Medal , published 1924.
  120. Herbert, p. 3.
  121. ^ Nancy L. Paxton: Writing under the Raj: Gender, Race and Rape in the British Colonial Imagination . Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick 1999, ISBN 0-8135-2601-9 , p. 118.
  122. Herbert, p. 16f.
  123. ^ Judd, p. 90.
  124. Klein, pp. 545-548.
  125. Spilsbury, p. 352.
  126. Spilsbury, p. 354.