Muslim rule at Delhi

Sepoy Mutiny – Muslim Sultans and Padishahs had ruled Hindustan for centuries before the rise of British power. 

In 1857, the relics of Muslim rule at Delhi came under the shadow of British supremacy. 

The last representative of the once famous Great Mughul still lives in the imperial palace at Delhi, a pensioner of the British government. He still bears the empty title of “king.” 

Sepoy garrison at Delhi

In May, 1857,  three regiments of sepoy infantry, and a sepoy battery of artillery, under the command of Brigadier Graves represented British power at Delhi. 

There were no European troops at Delhi, except the regimental officers and sergeants attached to each corps.

However, nine Europeans who had charge of the British magazine in the heart of the city. 

None of the sepoys had as yet shown any sign of disaffection, but it will appear hereafter that they had all caught the contagion of mutiny.

They kept their secret until the moment for action arrived.

Mutineers Expected in Delhi

The rebellion began on 10 May 1857 in the form of a mutiny of sepoys in Meerut.

Brigadier Graves had but a short warning. The mutineers would certainly travel all night, and would probably arrive early on Monday morning. 

British thought it useless to cut away the bridge, as the hot weather made the stream easily cross able. 

Everything depended on the loyalty of the sepoys at Delhi.

So long as they remained staunch, the brigadier might hope to defend the city and cantonment against the mutineers from Meerut. 

If, however, the sepoys at Delhi joined the rebels, only thing left for Britisher only hope will be european the European reinforcements which might be expected from Meerut. 

Meanwhile, the brigadier sent circulars to all non-military residents to take refuge in Flagstaff Tower.

Preparations for Battle

The Officers ordered three regiments of sepoy infantry, and the battery of sepoy artillery, out in the field. They loaded the guns, and made preparation for the coming battle. 

The brigadier addressed the men in stirring language. Now was the time, he said, for the sepoys at Delhi to show their loyalty to the Company. The sepoys responded with loud cheers. 

One regiment in particular eagerly demanded to be led against the mutineers. The brigadier marched them out to fight the rebels, leaving the two other regiments on the Ridge.

Sepoy Mutiny in Delhi

The cavalry from Meerut galloped towards the city. Rebel infantry followed them with their bayonets gleaming in the sun. 

Neither horse nor foot showed the slightest hesitation. As the cavalry approached the brigadier ordered his men to fire. 

The rattle of musketry followed, but not a single trooper fell from his horse. The faithful sepoys had fired in the air.

The king made common cause with the rebels, for the sepoys from Meerut poured through the palace to join their comrades in the city.

Sepoy Revolt in Delhi
Sepoy Revolt in Delhi

No Europeans arrived from Meerut, and the Delhi sepoys began to fraternise with the rebels.

Sepoy Mutiny British refuge

Brigadier Graves rallied a few of his men who still remained faithful, and escaped to Flagstaff Tower. 

Here he found a large number of European ladies and children,  who had been able to reach the place of refuge. 

But the force on the Ridge soon joined rebels.

Sepoy Mutiny & Massacre of Europeans

Some ladies and children, numbering altogether about fifty souls, had taken refuge within the palace walls. They hoped that Emperor would protect them from the mutinous sepoys. 

Had Emporer admitted the ladies and children into the inner apartments, they would have been safe. 

The rebel sepoys rushed into the presence of the old king to make their salams and hail him as their Padishah. They loudly demanded the death of every European. 

The old king could not or would not interfere, and told the sepoys to do as they please to do. 

The Rebel shut unhappy victims in a dark room with coarse and scanty food. Rebel eventually butchered in the palace of Aurangzeb.

Explosion of the Flagstaff Tower

Every one longed for the arrival of European soldiers to relieve them from the agony of suspense and quash the fearful rebellion. 

Later on in the afternoon, the great magazine in the heart of Delhi explode in a cloud of smoke and flame. 

The explosion blew hundreds of rebels into the air; but the greater part of the stores fell into the rebel’s hands. 

Flight from Flagstaff Tower

By this time all hope of rescue had died out from the fugitives in Flagstaff Tower. 

European feared that the rebels would return to the Ridge to complete the work of slaughter. All fled the best way they could. 

The rebels slaughter European, but some found refuge in the houses of Hindu villagers, who treated them with kindness and hospitality at the risk of their own lives.

Last telegram from Delhi

Before the end of the day, the clerk at the telegraph office on the Ridge sent his last telegram. 

“The mutineers from Meerut are masters of Delhi; several Europeans have been murdered; the office must be closed.” 

The rebel cut poor telegraph clerk to pieces and heard of no more.

Within a few moments the fatal news reached every capital in India.

Delhi was lost; the rebel restored the Mogul régime. The British empire feared losing the North-West Provinces.

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