Academic journal article Military Review

The Indian Mutiny, 1857

Academic journal article Military Review

The Indian Mutiny, 1857

Article excerpt

THE INDIAN MUTINY, 1857, Saul David, Penguin Books, London, 2002, 504 pages. No price available.

The Indian Mutiny, 1857, is about a unique period in Indian history, when India was ruled in multiple ways. Its army and its different units-some Indian and some British-were all under different regimes. Regional characteristics, religion, and caste systems prevailed. The government could be described as a hodgepodge.

Folklore has focused on the issue of ammunition as the cause of the Indians' problems. David provides extensive analysis, including such rumors that animal fat was being used to ease ammunition insertion into standard-issue weapons. David describes two issues about the ammunition: first, the Hindus and Muslims had a dislike for cartridges. This was known but never addressed. second, men who had an eye for political power and position in the new Indian Army were using the cartridge issue to stir mutiny.

However, the problems were much more complex, ranging from complaints about pay, recruitment, and uncomfortable uniforms to problems involving the mixing of different castes and religions. Because these problems were not being addressed, stirrings toward rebellion were increasing.

The uprising began in the Meerut garrison and spread throughout other garrisons. British officers and, in some instances, their families were killed; armories were looted; and treasuries were sacked. Mobs from nearby towns joined in the looting. European and Christian Indians were slain, and others were simply sent away. At times European elements withdrew into fortified positions and waited for relief; sometimes it came, sometimes it did not. …

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