THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE-1857
• During the War of Independence the Governor General was Lord Canning. He had assumed the charge of his office in 1856. • Wajid Ali Shah was the Nawab of Awadh. He was sent on exile to Calcutta and his state was annexed by the British in April 1856. • Three-fourth of the infantry and nearly two-third of the whole Bengal Army was composed of the people from Awadh. • Maulvi Ahmadullah devised the distribution of chapatti scheme during his travels in the North-West Provinces to prepare the mind of the people for a war of freedom. It was a silent indication of association with a cause. • Lord Dalhousie had proposed that the successors of Bahadur Shah II (Zafar) would have to vacate the Red Fort of Delhi and move to suburban town of Mehrauli. • Besides Awadh, the Punjab, Satara, Nagpur, Jhansi, and other small states had been annexed. • Dalhousie discontinued the pension allowed to Peshwa’s son Nana Sahib and expelled him from his ancestral palace at Poona and exiled him to Bithur near Cawnpore. • Lord Macaulay designed the English system of education to glorify the Christian faith and to bring into contempt the religious beliefs of the young students. • William Bentinck abolished sati.
• In 1856 the government promulgated the General Enlistment Act which required the new recruits to serve wherever ordered. • The Brahmins were irritated on their forced participation in the wars against Burma and Afghanistan because they feared that they will lose their caste if they cross the sea and leave subcontinent. • The dispatch of European troops to the wars in China and Persia had reduced the proportion between the British troops and the Sepoys to 1 and 3. • About half of the available British troops were stationed in the recently subjugated Punjab. An insignificant number was stationed in Bengal, Bihar, and the Doab. • The paucity of the European troops gave an opportunity to the disaffected Sepoys. • A new kind of rifle, named Enfield, was introduced in the army in January 1857. Its cartridges were smeared with grease and had to be bitten at one end by the user. • It came to be known that this grease was made of fats of cows and pigs. • Between Jan. and March 1857 there were several plots and mutinies in Calcutta and the cantonments of Behrampur and Barackpur. • On 26th Jan., 5th Feb., and again on 10th March, the Sepoys of Calcutta and Behrampur tried to seize Fort William. • On May 9, in Meerut, a company of Sepoys was court-martialed for refusing to use the cartridges. Each member of the company was sentenced to 10 year’s rigorous imprisonment. • On May 10 their fellow Sepoys of three regiments in different places rose into rebellion. They opened the gates of the prison-house, killed their British officers and marched towards Delhi. • Delhi local troops joined them and now their number rose to 5000. • The Sepoys took possession of Delhi and proclaimed the aged Bahadur Shah Zafar as Emperor of Hindustan on May 11. • A cabinet was installed and a constitution known as Dasturul ‘Amal was also prepared. • Mirza Mughal, a son of Bahadur Shah, was chosen as commander-in-chief. • Princes Mirza Abu Bakr, Mirza Mendhu, and Mirza Khizr Sultan were appointed commanders. • The Muslim chiefs of Awadh, Rohailkhand and Bijanor expressed loyalty with the Emperor. • Bakht Khan of Bareilly reached Delhi with 14000 troops. • Sikh forces from Patiala and Jhind came to assist the British troops. • Bakht Khan defended Delhi for 4 months.
• The British artillery succeeded in making breaches in the walls and entering the city on Sept. 20. • The Emperor took shelter in the tomb of Humayun.
• The Bakht tried to persuade the Emperor to continue fight from the Doab or Deccan. The Emperor did not agree with him so he left Awadh and from there went to Nepal. • Hodson arrested the Emperor and shot...
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