The Great Indian Mutiny: Colin Campbell and the Campaign at Lucknow

The Great Indian Mutiny: Colin Campbell and the Campaign at Lucknow

The Great Indian Mutiny: Colin Campbell and the Campaign at Lucknow

The Great Indian Mutiny: Colin Campbell and the Campaign at Lucknow

Synopsis

This study explores a fundamental question never explicitly investigated in histories of the 1857-1858 mutiny that threatened to engulf all of India: How could a vastly outnumbered British army, with dangerously overextended lines of supply and reinforcement, defeat so large a force on its home ground? Watson focuses on the pivotal Lucknow campaign and abandons the standard narrative approach to the subject in favor of comparative analysis. His detailed assessments of the opposing leadership, armies, and other crucial elements in the campaign elucidate the character of the battle for Lucknow and add a new dimension to our understanding of the entire conflict.

Excerpt

The Great Indian Mutiny was fought between 1857 and 1859 when native troops -- the sepoys -- employed by the Honorable East India Company revolted against British rule. Much has been written about this conflict, describing in exquisite detail just who did what, when, where, and to whom. Yet, despite the relative popularity of the subject, few historians have penetrated beyond telling only the story of the Mutiny, leading the Indian writer Rudrangshu Mukherjee to conclude recently that many significant questions about the Mutiny remain unanswered and many more unasked. Certainly the question I pose has eluded attention: Why did a numerically inferior British Army, whose lines of supply and reinforcement extended thousands of miles, defeat numerically superior native forces on their home ground?

I realized early on that my question would necessitate a new interpretation of events, because the "why" -- rather than the what and the where -- urged upon me an approach through military history rather than through the more usual political, cultural, and economic orientations. But not wanting to write just another narrative, I was left groping about for a viewpoint. Then I read The Face of Battle and The Mask of Command, both by the British military historian John Keegan. Unabashedly, I adapted his methodology to my needs; in doing so, however, I take full responsi-

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