Sunday, 4 January 2015

Vellore Sepoy mutiny - 1806.-first rebellion -British India

Vellore Mutiny (July,1806), Vellore, Tamil nadu, India.lavaluthy.blogspot.com
Vellore Mutiny (July 1806),Vellore fort Tamil  Nadu,India. en.wikipedia.org.
 During the British rule, the British did not win the heart of the Indian natives. Rather, they earned the ire of the natives  because their atrocities, dishonest under dealings with the local rulers and the illegal take over of kingdoms of the Maharajahs and Nawobs reached far beyond the limits. The longer the foreigners stayed here, the more greedy they became ; their ambition was sky-high. In this process they made the Indians bleed.

 Vellore Mutiny, (also known as the first War of Independence) - on 10 July 1806,- was the very first instance of a large-scale and violent rebellion by frustrated Indian Sepoys  against the autocratic British East India Company, predating the Indian Rebellion of 1857 by half a century. The revolt was brief, lasting only one full day, but left  200 British soldiers killed or wounded before they were subdued by reinforcements from nearby Arcot town.

Memorial, Vellore Mutiny (July,1806), Vellore, Tamil nadu, India. en.wikipedia.org.
Indian government postal stamp.The VelloreNutiny, Vellore, Tamil nadu, India.indiapicks.com
The garrison of the Vellore Fort, Tamil Nadu  in July 1806  was made of  four companies of  British infantry from H.M. 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot and three battalions of Madras infantry. There were numerous prisoners of war from the defeated Tipu Sultan's military in the Vellore fort.
 

The immediate causes of the mutiny revolved mainly around the resentment felt towards changes in the Sepoy dress code introduced in November 1805. Sir John Cradock and Lord Howdon, the commander in Chief in Madras wanted to introduce new dress regulation that Sepoys should wear - turban like helmet. Hindus and Muslims should forgo their caste mark on their forehead  and beard respectively. Further, there was a fear they were going to be baptized. All these developments offended the sensibilities of Hindu and Muslim Sepoys.

In May, 1806 some Sepoys, who vehemently opposed the new dress codes were sent to Fort Saint George (Madras then, now Chennai) to face punishment. Two of them — a Hindu and a Muslim — were given 90 lashes each and dismissed from the army. Nineteen Sepoys were given 50 lashes each and forced to seek pardon from the East India Company. Normally they would use bull-whip and this would cause severe pain and burning sensation on the victims. Literally they treated the Indians like cattle.

The ensuing rebellion by  Sepoys at the fort started out after mid night on July 10,1806 with the shooting of  the European sentries and fourteen of their own officers and 115 men of the 69th Regiment, including  Colonel  St. John Fancourt when most of them were asleep in  their barracks. The flag of the Mysore Sultanate raised over the fort and Tipu's second son  Fateh  Hyder was declared King. The Vellore fort was now under the control of rebels.   Alerted by a British officer, after several hours  a relief force comprising the British 19th Light Dragoons, galloper guns and a squadron of Madras cavalry led by Sir Rollo Gillespie arrived at Vellore;  Gillespie dashed ahead of the main force with a single troop of about 20 men.
 

Gillespie found numerous  Indian and  Europeans soldiers  inside the fort ramparts fighting without ammunition. With great difficulty Gillespie  got  into the fort. When the rest of the 19th arrived soon, he had them blow the gates with their galloper guns, and made a second charge with the 69th to clear a space inside the gate to permit the cavalry to deploy. The Madras Cavalry then charged and killed any Sepoy who stood in their way. About 100 Sepoys were caught, and on Gillespie's order were placed against a wall and shot dead.
 

There was an outcry over the shooting of the surrendered  Sepoys which was a sort of summary execution. Later a smaller number of Sepoys were court-martialed. However, Gillespie admitted, a delay of even five minutes would mean  all of them would have been shot dead. In all, nearly 350 of the rebels were killed, and another 350 wounded before the fighting had stopped. In the aftermath after formal trial, six mutineers were blown away from guns, five shot by firing squad, eight hanged and five transported. The three Madras battalions involved in the mutiny were all disbanded.  

The Sepoy Mutiny at  Vellore, TN, as mentioned, was the first ever  bloody rebellion by the Indian soldiers against the  British East India company's oppressive rule. It was an expression of Indian people's overall hatred and resentment against them who took over their land and treated them badly.

Ref:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vellore_Mutiny