Mangal Pandey Mutiny
Introduction of greased cartridges
Start of Mangal Pandey Mutiny- 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, they received a supply of cartridges for the new rifle from England.
Further low-caste workmen known as Lascars manufacture supplies of the same pattern in the arsenal at Dumdum.
Suddenly someone leaked out that Britisher greased the new cartridges with the fat of cows, or with the fat of pigs.
Thus every Hindu sepoy who bit the cartridge would lose his caste and religion as if he had eaten beef.
While contact with pork will pollute every Mohammedan sepoy, and not only lose his religion, but be barred out for ever from the heaven.
The sepoys blindly accepted the conclusion that the British Queen and Lord Canning had arranged a secret scheme for converting them all to Christianity.
As yet, however, Sepoy didn’t open mutiny at Barrackpore. Officer maintained discipline with the usual strictness, and obeyed every the word of command.
As Barrackpore located near Calcutta, too near the stronghold of British supremacy which controlled Bengal for a hundred years, for the sepoy as yet to dream of open mutiny.
Spread of Mutiny to Berhampore
Later Officer sent a small guard of sepoys on duty from Barrackpore to Berhampore, a hundred miles to the northward.
Here, British stationed a regiment of sepoy infantry, half a regiment of sepoy cavalry, and a battery of sepoy artillery.
The sepoy infantry duly feasted gaurds from Barrackpore. The Gaurd told the whole story of the greased cartridges with all the latest embellishments of fiction.
Cartridges refused at Berhampore
The next day, the 25th of February 1857, Officer ordered a parade exercise with blank ammunition for the following morning.
The British issued Blank cartridges to the infantry of the same pattern that had been used for generations, but the sepoys refused to accept them.
Colonel Mitchell threatened the men with court martial. Accordingly the sepoys took the cartridges in gloomy silence and returned to their lines.
Mutiny at Berhampore
In the middle of the night the 19th Native Infantry of the Bengal army regiment rose in rebellion.
Every company seized arms and ammunition from its magazine, and then the whole regiment rushed out of the lines and shouted defiance.
Colonel Mitchell had no European force to suppress the outbreak; nothing but half a regiment of sepoy cavalry and the sepoy battery.
Britisher doubted the intent of their men to fire on the mutineers.
However, he ordered out the cavalry and batteries under the light of torches, and advanced with his European officers towards the infantry lines.
As he approached the mutineer, he halted his batteries.
Hesitation of Mutineers
Neither side wished to take action. The mutineers shrank, as yet, from firing on their European officers.
The sepoys, under Colonel Mitchell, might have refused to fire.
The whole cantonment might have joined in the mutiny, and the civil stations in the country round about would have been in sore peril.
So, there was a parley. The colonel pointed out to the mutineers the absurdity of their fears and the enormity of their offence.
He conjured them to give up their arms and return to their lines.
The mutineers, on their part, were not prepared to push matters to extremities.
Their excitement had cooled down as they saw their European officers advancing with the Asiatic cavalry and artillery.
Accordingly, mutineer returned to their lines, and that the force advancing against them returned to their own quarters.
Alarm at Calcutta
The news of this unexpected outbreak at Berhampore naturally alarmed Lord Canning.
He had much sympathy for the deluded and infatuated sepoys, but the mutiny could not be ignored.
Britisher found it absolutely necessary to disband the regiment, but they didn’t have enough European force to carry out the measure.
Unless European soldiers were present, the sepoys might have resisted disbandment, and other sepoy regiments might have joined the mutineers.
Britisher sent European regiment quartered at Fort William and Dumdum.
Accordingly steamers were sent to Burma to bring away the European regiment quartered at Rangoon.
On the 20th March the European regiment from Rangoon entered the Hughly river.
The 19th Native Infantry was marched from Berhampore to Barrackpore, knowing that it was to be disbanded.
At Barrackpore the sepoys were in a ferment. They felt that they were to be coerced by the European soldiers.
They didn’t forgot that some thirty years before, a sepoy regiment at Barrackpore had refused to go to Burma unless paid double batta.
The British fired a volley of grape to scattered sepoy, and erased them from the army list.
Accordingly, the sepoys at Barrackpore feared the same fate unless they accepted the greased cartridges.
Mangal Pandey Mutiny
Of the four sepoy regiments at Barrackpore, the 34th Native Infantry had the greatest cause for alarm.
It was the 34th that furnished the sepoy guard which played so much mischief at Berhampore. The sepoys of the 34th openly expressed their sympathy with those of the 19th.
About the end of March, Lieutenant Baugh, the Adjutant of the 34th, reported resentment the sepoys in his regiment, and that one of them, named Mangal Pandey.
He marched through the lines with a loaded musket, calling on the sepoys to rise against their officers. He took oath to fire at the first European that appeared on the scene. Thus starting the Mangal Pandey Mutiny.
Mangal Pandey Assault on Lieutenant Baugh.
Lieutenant Baugh at once put on his uniform, mounted his horse, and rode off to the parade ground with a pair of loaded pistols in his holsters.
The quarter-guard of the regiment, consisting of twenty sepoys under the command of an Asiatic lieutenant, known as a jemadar guarded the gun.
Mangal Pandey saw Baugh riding up, and got behind the gun, and deliberately fired at him.
The he wounded the horse and the Baugh fell to the ground.
Baugh, however, disengaged himself, snatched a pistol, and advanced on Mangal Pandey before the latter could reload his musket.
Baugh fired and missed. At that moment Mangal Pandey rushed at him and cut him down with a sword.
Outbreak of Mutiny and suppression by British
The European sergeant-major of the regiment followed Baugh at a distance, and shouted to the quarter-guard to help their officer.
But the sepoys sympathised with Mangal Pandey, and the jemadar forbade them to stir.
The serjeant-major came up breathless, and attempted to seize Mangal Pandey, but Mangal Pandey struck him down too.
On this the jemadar advanced with his twenty sepoys, and began to strike Baugh and the serjeant-major with the butt ends of their muskets.
At this moment a muslim orderly, who had followed Baugh from his house, ran up and arrested Mangal Pandey just as he had reloaded his musket.
General Hearsey and other officers followed him. The general drew a pistol from his belt and rode up to the quarter-guard.
He ordered the men to return to their post, and threatened to shoot with his own hands the first sepoy who disobeyed orders.
This bold action prevented the rebellion, and the storm cloud passed away before it burst upon the station.
Disbandment of 19th Native infantry.
Two days afterwards, Officer ordered a solemn parade at Barrackpore.
All the available European force assembled on the ground, including the regiment from Rangoon and a wing and two batteries from Dumdum.
The Britisher marched 19th Native Infantry into Barrackpore. They had petitioned for forgiveness, but got no pardon for mutiny.
The officer read the orders of Lord Canning aloud, ordering the disbandment.
The men laid down their arms and marched away. The 19th Native Infantry ceased to exist.
Conviction of Mangal Pandey
For some weeks the 34th Native Infantry was not disbanded.
Not a sepoy would point out the men of the quarter-guard who assaulted the European officers.
Britisher tried Mangal Pandey and the jemadar, and hanged him. Later Mangal Pandey Mutiny spread all over north India.