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Extract from the Delhi Gazette newspaper, June 1858, on rebellion against British rule
(By permission of The British Library, ORB 40/101)
  • This extract comes from a British newspaper describing events in the rebellion against British rule in India from 1857-58. It describes events in the area around Agra and Gwalior in the north of India.
  • The report mentions British officers leading forces in the area. It also mentions their Indian allies (eg Maharaja Scindia).
  • It is not difficult to see that this was a British newspaper. The way British actions are reported shows this. So does the reaction to the death of various rebel leaders, such as the Ranee of Jhansi and the Moulvie.
  • The Ranee (queen) of Jhansi was one of the leaders of the rebellion. She led several successful campaigns against British forces. As this report shows, she was killed in fighting with British forces around Gwalior. The newspaper made a point of publishing this news to help boost the morale of British forces.
  • The Moulvie was Moulvie Ahmedoola Shah. He was a religious leader who also opposed British rule.
  • The British called the revolt 'The Indian Mutiny' of 1857-58. It did begin with a mutiny by Indian troops serving in the army of the British East India Company.
  • The mutiny was sparked off when Indian soldiers were given a new type of bullet that used grease to keep it dry. The grease contained pig and cow fat. This offended both the Hindus and the Muslims in the army.
  • However, tensions had been growing between soldiers and the army for some years. Tension had also been growing because many Indians were unhappy about the policies of the East India Company. For example, the British Governor General Lord Dalhousie tried to stop Indian rulers from adopting children to inherit their thrones if they had no children themselves. He hoped that the East India Company would take over if a ruler died without an heir.
  • The revolt of Indian troops (sepoys) was the chance that discontented Indian rulers needed to try to overthrow British rule.
  • The rebellion lasted around 18 months. It was eventually crushed by large British forces, fighting alongside the forces of Indian leaders who supported British rule. The rebellion never really had the support of the majority of ordinary Indian peasants. For them, British rule or rule by Indian princes made little difference to their hard lives.
  • Both sides committed terrible atrocities in the conflict, and the rebellion damaged relations between the British and Indians for decades afterwards.
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