Reason for 1857 Revolt
European in British Indian Army
1857 Revolt Reason- In the Bengal provinces, which cover a larger area than Great Britain and Ireland. Area also has a denser population and hardly has any European troops.
During 1857 Revolt, a single regiment sufficed to garrison Calcutta.
Of this regiment, British quartered one wing in Fort William within the city.
While, they quartered other wing in Dumdum arsenal, 10 km away.
With this exception, British authority stationed no European troops within 400 miles of Calcutta.
British authority also stationed a European regiment at Lucknow in Oudh.
They stationed two European regiments at Meerut in the North-West Provinces, about forty miles from Delhi, and a thousand miles from Calcutta.
British stationed bulk of the European regiments in the Punjab and north-west frontier province.
1857 Revolt Reason – Large number of Sepoys
The army of the East India Company composed mainly of native soldiers, known as sepoys.
Britisher formed into regiments corresponding to European battalions.
Soon the European officers drilled and commanded the Sepoy.
Misunderstanding regarding Sepoy ways
But sepoys have ways of their own which Europeans cannot always understand.
They would understood sepoy if they have served with them shoulder to shoulder.
A sepoy is proud of his corps, jealous for its reputation, and respectful to his officers.
Sepoys have been known to sacrifice caste prejudices to help European officers in time of need, but they resented needless interference or looks of scorn with the sullen pride of Orientals.
At Vellore, in 1806, the British authority drove Madras sepoys to mutiny through the contemptuous orders of the military authorities as regards caste marks and turbans.
Yet during the first Anglo Afghan war and other distant campaigns, sepoys often forgot their caste in cases of emergency, and cheerfully obeyed orders.
Growing insubordination of the Bengal sepoys
But pride of caste had its disadvantages, and for years the Bengal sepoys had displayed a laxity of discipline.
A spirit of insubordination towards their European officers, which had been unknown in the older days.
1857 Revolt Reason – Enfield rifle
In 1856, after the Russian war, British introduced Enfield rifle in india after using them with much success in the Russia.
Accordingly, British government established three musketry schools in Northern India for teaching the sepoys of the Bengal army the use of the new rifle.
Under this arrangement, officer sent detachments of their regiments from some time to time to one or other of these schools.
Soon the whole Bengal army became familiar with the use of the Enfield.
The three most dangerous mutinies in India grew out of these musketry schools.
1857 Revolt Reason – Greased cartridges
In those days every sepoy and soldier had been accustomed for generations to bite off the end of his paper cartridge before loading his musket.
Accordingly, British authority in India received a supply of cartridges for the new rifle from England. Soon they forwarded the rifle to each of the three schools.
Further they hired low-caste workmen known as Lascars to manufactured the supplies of the same pattern in the arsenal at Dumdum.
A Lascar employed in Dumdum arsenal met a Brahmin sepoy going to Barrackpore.
Soon he asked him for a drink of water out of his brass lotah.
The Brahmin turned away in disgust at the idea of low-caste lips polluting his drinking-cup.
The Lascar retorted that the Brahman would soon be as impure as himself.
He also said for he would bite the new cartridges which had been smeared with the fat of cows and pigs, and would lose caste altogether.
Excitement at Barrackpore
The ball set rolling from the arsenal at Dumdum soon assumed monstrous dimensions in the cantonment at Barrackpore.
The sepoys blindly accepted the conclusion that Her Majesty the Queen and Lord Canning had arranged a secret scheme for converting them all to Christianity.
The greased cartridges, they decided, must have been manufactured expressly to destroy their religion.
Sepoy feared that European compel them to become Christians.
They also feared that European wanted them to eat beef and drink beer until they became as strong as Europeans. So that Britisher able to conquer Persia, Russia, and China for British government.
Sepoy feared that they will become the helpless vassal of his European masters, like slaves to magicians and sorcerers.
The sepoys at Barrackpore became bewildered and terrified. They became too afraid to speak, and began to set houses on fire.
The Officer reported sepoy agitation to the military authorities at Calcutta. The officer tried to explain thr composition of the cartridge to the sepoys.
The officer changed the drill, which no longer required sepoy to bite the cartridge. But this didn’t stopped the panic.
The sepoys argued that if the cartridges had not been greased with the objectionable fat there would have been no occasion to change the drill.
Eventually the british government changed the greased cartridges altogether. However, the sepoys remained suspicious of British Government.