The Sepoy Mutiny was a bloody 1857 uprising against the authority of the British East India Company. There was no single cause for the violent rebellion. Native soldiers employed by the East India Company, known as sepoys, revolted against British authority for a variety of economic, political, and cultural reasons. The rebellion was violently suppressed, and in response to it Britain took direct control over India, naming it a colony ruled by a viceroy.
By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on the Sepoy Mutiny.
Although there is no single explanation for the Sepoy Mutiny, scholars agree that rumors surrounding a new cartridge for the Enfield Rifle were a precipitating factor. The new cartridges had been wrapped in paper treated with grease. Rumors spread among the sepoys that this grease had been derived from pigs and cows. These rumors infuriated the predominantly Muslim and Hindu sepoys. On March 29th, 1857, a Bengal Army sepoy named Mangal Pandey shot two British officers during a disagreement over the cartridges. This incident helped spark the mutiny. COLIN CAMPBELL
British forces during the Sepoy Mutiny were commanded by Field Marshall Colin Campbell, the Lord Clyde. Campbell defeated the sepoy general Tatya Tope at the Second Battle of Cawnpore in July 1857. Campbell remained in India until 1860, successfully repressing another revolt—this one led by European soldiers in the British East India Company’s employ—known as the White Mutiny.
BAHADUR SHAH II
Emperor Bahadur Shah II was the 20th and final Mughal Emperor of India. When the Sepoy Mutiny broke out, sepoys traveled to the emperor’s territory, which had been reduced to the city of Delhi. The rebellious sepoys declared Bahadur Shah II the Emperor of India. Unfortunately for the sepoys, however, the British besieged Deli and eventually broke resistance there. For his part in the rebellion Bahadur Shah II was exiled to Burma (then known as Rangoon).
The north Indian city of Lucknow was besieged by sepoy forces between May and November of 1857. The commander of British troops in Lucknow, Sir Henry Lawrence, ordered his men and civilians to retreat to an armored fortress known as the Residency in the city’s center. Two relief efforts were made to rescue the besieged British. The first, led by General Sir Henry Havelock, was unsuccessful. A much larger force led by Campbell eventually ended the siege after six months of hardship.
Campbell’s eventual successor in India, Hugh Rose, first Baron of Strathairn, commanded the Central Indian Field Force. He scored a series of military victories against the mutinous Sepoys, including against Tatya Tope at the Battle of Jhansi.
Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:
Read about the Siege of Lucknow from those who lived through it.
Mangal Pandey, the soldier many consider responsible for sparking the mutiny, is a fascinating character.
Watch this video for a timeline of Britain’s efforts to control India.
Bahadur Shah II was the final Mughal Emperor. For a quick overview of the factors that contributed to the decline of the empire, watch this video.
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