The existence of the British government mainly depended on the loyalty of its sepoy armies. In 1806, the peace of India was broken by Vellore Mutiny, an alarm from a very different quarter.
Suddenly, British discovered that the Madras army was on the brink of mutiny.
The British authorities at Madras had introduced an obnoxious head-dress resembling a European hat, in the place of the old time-honoured turban.
Moreover, British forbidden the sepoys to appear on parade with earrings and caste marks.
India was astounded by a revolt of the Madras sepoys at the fortress of Vellore, about eight miles to the westward of Arcot.
The British lodged fallen families of Hyder and Tippu in this fortress. The Tippu’s old soldiers also served in the garrison of the Fort.
These people taunted the sepoys about wearing hats and becoming Christians. Some soldier intrigue in secret for restoring Mohammedan ascendancy in Southern India, under the deposed dynasty of Mysore.
Slaughter of British officers in Vellore Mutiny
The garrison at Vellore consisted of about four hundred Europeans and fifteen hundred sepoys. At midnight, without warning, the sepoys rose in mutiny.
One body fired on the European barracks until they killed or wounded half of the soldiers. Another body fired on the houses of the British officers.
Sepoy shot officer down as they rushed out to know the cause of the uproar.
While Mysore princes distributed provisions among the sepoys, and they hoisted flag of Mysore over the fortress.
Suppression of Mutiny
The Colonel Gillespie commanded a British garrison in Arcot soon received the news.
Gillespie at once galloped to Vellore with a troop of British dragoons and two field guns.
They blown open gates of Vellore fort; the soldiers rushed in. They cut down four hundred mutineers, and crush the rebellion.
The Home authorities wanted a scapegoat. So, the Company recalled Lord William Bentinck, the governor of Madras, and Sir John Craddock, the commander-in-chief of the Madras army.
Fifty years afterwards, when the Bengal army broke out in mutiny on the score of greased cartridges, many an old officer wished that a Gillespie had been in command at Barrackpore.