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Indian mutiny [1857-1859]

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Indian Rebellion in 1857

In the twentieth year of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's reign, news of the armed conflict that erupted unexpectedly in the northern part of the country, known as the jewel of the British Crown - India, shook the British and world public. The trigger for the whole event was a problem of military significance, but the roots of the uprising, as it later turned out, lay much deeper in the history of British-Indian relations.

Indian Rebellion in 1857

To explain another problem, it is necessary to show a schematic division of Indian troops of the time. Indigenous units of almost 200,000 men were concentrated in three armies - Bombay, Madras and Bengali. However, the uprising affected only a quarter of the Bengali army, while the Bombay and Madras armies, the Punjabi Sikhs and Muslims, as well as the Nepalese Gurkhas, maintained allegiance and loyalty to the British Crown and helped suppress the uprising. Local rulers, with the exception of Marathi chief Nana Sahib, a young queen of Jhansi, and a handful of fanatical chiefs, mostly from the central Indian provinces, also provided unwavering assistance to the British.

Indian Rebellion in 1857

Just a few miles southwest of Lakhnau was Kanpur, another besieged city defended by the British garrison, but with a much harsher fate than the brave defenders of Lakhnaú. Less than nine hundred British and loyal Indians, nearly half of whom were soldiers wifes and their children, resisted the 3,000 Sipahiyahs, led by Dondhu Pant, a Maharaja of Bithur called Nana Sahib. The three-week attacks on the city fortifications were useless, but the defenders could no longer resist, so the city's commander, Sir Hugh Wheeler, decided on June 26 to accept Nán's offer.

Indian Rebellion in 1857

Three days later, General Havelock ordered a march on Lucknow. The expedition crossed the undamaged bridge over the Ganges and in the following days clashed with a small group of rebels at Mangalwar. However, the enemy did not take any measures to prevent the British from advancing to the besieged city, so Havelock had a relatively clear path.

Indian Rebellion in 1857

As the defenders of the Lakhnaú residence prepared for further insurgent counterattacks, British order was restored in Delhi, and after several days of preparations for an expedition to strengthen the Kanpur garrison and conquer Lakhnaú, Brigadier General James Hope Grant set out with new troops of less than three thousand men. The contingent left Delhi at the end of September and headed southeast along the borders of Róhilkhand province and on to Kanpur. The convoy entered the city in the last days of October, and Grant waited for the arrival of the main reinforcements and the new commander-in-chief of British troops in India.

Indian Rebellion in 1857

Shortly afterwards, Campbell decided to send a civilian section of the column with women and wounded further down the road to Allahabad, concentrating on helping Windham's defenders. Tántáá Tópé launched a number of other counterattacks, but was unable to resist pressure from two sides and his forces fragmented.

Indian Rebellion in 1857

The army also underwent a major reorganization. Several indigenous regiments were disbanded, especially infantry. After the reform in May 1861, the number of indigenous cavalry regiments was reduced, while the share of British officers in command positions was significantly increased. The Sipahi were also no longer allowed to operate cannons. In order to prevent the further possible formation of rebel groups among soldiers of the same tribe or caste, such groups were regrouped and deployed in such a way that it was easier to maintain control over them. Many regiments were renumbered and incorporated into new units, which were strictly separated from each other.

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