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First War of Independence - The Great Indian Mutiny 1857

"On its colonies the sun never sets,
but the blood never dries." 

  - Ernest Jones (1819 - 1869) Chartist and socialist, 1851.

By the sword  

“The War of 1857 was undoubtedly an epoch-making event in India’s struggle for freedom. For what the British sought to deride as a mere sepoy mutiny was India’s First War of Independence in a very true sense, when people from all walks of life, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and language, rose against the British rule.”

The British conquest of India, begun in the 18th century, was completed in the 19th century by a succession of bloody wars of aggression. One historian has described the campaigns conducted in a 30 year period from 1824 until 1852-53 somewhat over enthusiastically as “little short of awe-inspiring”. These wars involved countryside laid waste, cities sacked, civilians robbed, raped and murdered, and tens of thousands of soldiers killed, and mutilated.  

Richard Cobden (1804 – 1865) the radical MP whose opposition to the Opium wars is well known. In 1838 he became one of the seven founding members of the Anti-Corn Law League in Manchester, argued that just as “in the slave trade we have surpassed in guilt the world, so in foreign wars we have been the most aggressive, quarrelsome, warlike and bloody nation under the sun.”  

In October 1850 he wrote to fellow radical Joseph Sturge (1793 - 1809) that if you looked back over the previous 25 years “you will find that we have been incomparably the most sanguinary (bloodthirsty) nation on earth.” Whether it was “in China, in Burma, in India, New Zealand, the Cape, Syria, Spain, Portugal, Greece, etc. there is hardly any country, however remote, in which we have not been waging war or dictating our terms at the point of the bayonet. Indeed, he believed that the British, “the greatest blood-shedders of all”, had in this period been involved in more wars than the rest of Europe put together. Colden blamed this militarism on the aristocracy that had “converted the combativeness of the English race to its own sinister ends.”  

Public opinion in Britain was inevitably mobilized behind the war to suppress the Great Rebellion by the atrocity stories that appeared in the press. On 30 October 1857 Lord Shaftesbury, in a widely reported speech told of how “day by day ladies were coming to Calcutta with their ears and noses cut off and their eyes put out” and that children were being “put to death under circumstances of the most exquisite torture”. The speech was immediately published as Lord Shaftesbury’s Great Speech on Indian Cruelties. Prompted by this, Lord Ellenborough, himself a former governor general of India, called in the House of Lords for every man in Delhi to be castrated and for the city to be renamed “Eunochabad” Even Charles Dickens could long for the opportunity “to exterminate the race upon whom the stain of the later cruelties rested…to blot it out of mankind and raze if off the face of the earth.”  

Although privately Richard Cobden could still confess that if he were an Indian “I would be one of the rebels” and that "Hindustan must be ruled by those who live on that side of the globe", discretion proved the better part of valor. He reluctantly came to accept that the rebellion had to be put down. 

Lord Canning, the governor general, complained to Queen Victoria of a “rabid and indiscriminate vindictiveness” having gripped the British in India . People seemed to think “that the hanging and shooting of 40 or 50,000 mutineers besides other rebels can be other wise than practicable and right.” He confessed to “a feeling of shame for one’s fellow countrymen.

(source: The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire - By John Newsinger  p. 66 - 67 and 80 - 82).


By the middle of the nineteenth century, the British had come to believe they were a chosen race; chosen to distribute the benefits of western civilization to the backward areas of the globe. That the inhabitants of such areas often didn’t want these benefits and certainly not the accompanying British control of their lives was immaterial to Britain’s sense of a mission. In 1857, the Indian Mutiny broke out and it rapidly became the greatest of all the imperial wars. It was followed avidly by the British public and as the myths of the Mutiny grew it came to be seen almost as a latter-day British Iliad with gentleman-warriors of homeric proportions manfully defending the position, dignity and God-given duty of their race. It was even called the 'epic of the Race' by the historian Sir Charles Crostwaithe and though this may sound ridiculous to the modern ear it was nothing more than a reflection of the confidence, indeed arrogance, with which the British of Victoria's 20th year on the throne viewed the world in general and their empire in particular. 

For more than a year the people of northern India trembled with fear as the British sated their thirst for revenge. 

The Indians called it 'the Devil's Wind'.

(source: The Epic of the Race: India 1857 - )

The British retaliation against was severe. In Delhi one eyewitness boasted that " all the people found within the walls when our troops entered were bayoneted on the spot...These were not mutineers but residents of the city, who trusted to our well-known mild rule for pardon. I am glad to say they were disappointed." At the site of the massacre of women in Cawnpore, the British made their captives lick the dried blood off the floor before hanging them. The war rumbled on until late in 1858, but the executions continued until well into 1859, rebels being hanged or shot without trial, convicted mutineers being lashed to the muzzles of guns and blown to pieces.

Lord Canning tried in vain to curb the "rabid and indiscriminate vindictiveness " of his compatriots, pointing out that "the government which has punished blindly and revengefully will have lost its chief title to the respect of its subject." 

A death sentence was passed on the East India Company, too. 

(source: Colonial Overlords: Time Frame Ad 1850-1900  - Time-Life Books. The Scramble for Africa p. 25-26).


The Devil's Wind. Mutineers placed in the front of canyons to be killed.

“the English threw aside the mask of civilization and engaged in a war of such ferocity that a reasonable parallel can be seen in our times with the Nazi occupation of Europe.” - writes Historian Michael Edwardes.

"The Black Hole of Calcutta - episode, embellished by Europeans and propagated as proof of native savagery, would retroactively help to justify what came next: the conquest of Bengal and, ultimately India. " -  

(source:  Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II- By Madhushree Mukherjee p. xii).


Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: "A great deal of false and perverted history has been written about the Revolt and its suppression. What the Indians think about it seldom finds its way to the printed page. 

Veer Savarkar wrote: "The History of the War of Independence" some thirty years ago, but his book was promptly banned.

The book was, of course, banned in India, but still appeared "on the Indian bookstalls, wrapped in a cover labeled Random Papers of the Pickwick Club".

(source: The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire - By John Newsinger  p. 72).

Neera Kuckreja Sohoni has remarked:

"It took a Savarkar's intellectual vigour and aggressive reasoning to question and replace the biased Anglophile historical branding of the 1857 outbreak as a "mutiny" with the "the first war of independence" nomenclature. "

Nothing singular in revisionism -  By
Neera Kuckreja Sohoni

The British were not only greedy for money and for land. They wanted to Christianize and denationalize India

The Chairman of the Court of Directors of the East India Company as saying in the House of Commons:

"Providence has entrusted the extensive empire of Hindustan to England in order that the banner of Christ should waive triumphant from one end of India to the other. Everyone must exert all his strength that there may be no dilatoriness on account in continuing in the country the grand work of making India Christian”.

Justin McCarthy wrote: “The fact was that throughout the greater part of northern and northwestern provinces of the Indian peninsula there was a rebellion of the native races against the English power. It was not the sepoy alone who rose in revolt. It was not by any means a merely military mutiny. It was a combination of military grievance, national hatred and religious fanaticism against the English occupation of India . The Mohammedans and the Hindu forgot their old religious antipathies to join against the Christian….”

Charles Ball wrote: “At length the torrent overflowed the banks and saturated the moral soil of India . The movement now assumed a more important aspect. It became a rebellion of a whole people incited to outrage by resentment for imaginary wrongs and sustained their delusions by hatred and fanaticism”.

Sir W. Russell, of the London Times correspondent as writing: “Here we had not only a servile war, but we had a war of religion, a war of race and a war of revenge, of hope, of national determination to shake off the yoke of a stranger and to re-establish the full power of the notice chiefs and the full away of native religion.”

Rev Kennedy as saying: “Whatever misfortunes come on us as long as our empire in India continues, so long let us not forget that our chief work is the propagation of Christianity in the land. Until Hindustan from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas embrace the religion of Christ and until it condemns the Hindu and Muslim religions, our efforts must continue persistently”.

The Christian missionary propaganda was not only violently aggressive and widespread; it was also supported by the government agency.

According to Kaushik Roy writing in Economic and Political Weekly (May12) “the number of civilians and Indian soldiers killed exceeded one lakh (1,00,000). There was not a tree in some places which did not see a dead Indian hanging from the branches. In comparison just about 2,034 British soldiers died in action another 8,978 died form disease. British terrorism did not frighten Indians.

The EPW quotes a British lady residing in Lucknow noting in her journal on May 16, 1857: “You can only rule these Asiatics by fear; if they are not afraid, they snap their fingers at you”.

(source: An essay on 1857-II : The British were greedy for money, land and wanted to Christianize-

'A Holocaust, one where millions disappeared...'
British reprisals involved the killing of 10m, spread over 10 years

A controversial new history of the Indian Mutiny, which broke out 150 years ago and is acknowledged to have been the greatest challenge to any European power in the 19th century, claims that the British pursued a murderous decade-long campaign to wipe out millions of people who dared rise up against them.  

In War of Civilisations: India AD 1857, Amaresh Misra, a writer and historian based in Mumbai, argues that there was an "untold holocaust" which caused the deaths of almost 10 million people over 10 years beginning in 1857. Britain was then the world's superpower but, came perilously close to losing its most prized possession: India .

"It was a holocaust, one where millions disappeared. It was a necessary holocaust in the British view because they thought the only way to win was to destroy entire populations in towns and villages. It was simple and brutal. Indians who stood in their way were killed. But its scale has been kept a secret."

There is a macabre undercurrent in much of the correspondence. In one incident Misra recounts how 2m letters lay unopened in government warehouses, which, according to civil servants, showed "the kind of vengeance our boys must have wreaked on the abject Hindoos and Mohammadens, who killed our women and children." Misra has done well to unearth anything in that period, when the British assiduously snuffed out Indian versions of history. "There appears a prolonged silence between 1860 and the end of the century where no native voices are heard. It is only now that these stories are being found and there is another side to the story," said Amar Farooqui, history professor at Delhi University . "In many ways books like Misra's and those of [William] Dalrymple show there is lots of material around. But you have to look for it."

(source: 'A Holocaust, one where millions disappeared...' -

What Every "Ugly American" Must Know about the "Civilized British

One of the tragedies of English-speaking British colonies is that their history under the British rule was written by the British historians, or by those natives who were trained by the British historians. However, it seems the time has come to record history in its true light-- at least so in India.  

Amaresh Misra, writing about India's first war of independence in 1857, in his recently published book, In War of Civilisations: India AD 1857, said that there was an "untold holocaust" that caused the deaths of almost 10 million people over 10 years, beginning in 1857. British-fed historians, claims Misra, have counted only 100,000 Indian soldiers who were slaughtered in savage reprisals, but none have tallied the number of rebels and civilians killed by British forces desperate to impose order.

(source: What Every "Ugly American" Must Know about the "Civilized British -

"The spread of Christianity was to cause great unease among the Indians. Evangelical Christian missionaries had little or no understanding and respect for India 's ancient faiths and their efforts to convert many natives quickly brought clashes with the local religious establishments. As the missionaries were mostly British citizens, the Colonial Administration often had to intervene to protect them, which naturally gave an impression of official condolence for Christianity." 
Christian missionaries are back to their mischief - Need we another mutiny against the powers that be?

(source: The Epic of Race: The Indian Mutiny of 1857 - Refer to the Havoc un leased by Christian Missionaries today to destroy India's Ancient culture in the chapter on Conversion.

The Devil's Wind
Unparalleled Ferocity and Torture of Indians

Michael Edwardes has argued that during the Indian Rebellion “the English threw aside the mask of civilization and engaged in a war of such ferocity that a reasonable parallel can be seen in our times with the Nazi occupation of Europe.” This was the considered opinion of a historian who had spent his life studying and writing about India.  

In Thomas Lowe’s Central India During The Rebellion of 1857 and 1858 he laments that the column in which he was serving had become encumbered with prisoners. While the policy was to take no prisoners, he told his readers that:  

“We must remember that flesh and blood – even the hardy Anglo-Saxons – cannot go on slaying from sunrise to sunset. However willing the spirit may be, physical force cannot endure it."  Not to worry though. On this occasion all 76 of the men taken prisoners “were tried, sentenced and executed.” They were “ranged in one long line and blindfolded” with their executioners positioned “couple of yards” in front of them. When the bugle sounded “a long rattle of musketry swept this fleshy wall of miscreants from their earthly existence”. Lowe himself acknowledges how “terrible” the scene was.  


Mutineers hanged

This was not an exceptional occurrence. It was routine, repeated on numerous occasions, sometimes with fewer victims, sometimes more, often with greater brutality.  


This was not an exceptional occurrence. It was routine, repeated on numerous occasions, sometimes with fewer victims, sometimes more, often with greater brutality. The violence with which the British put down the Indian Rebellion has only been approached in the history of the empire by the suppression of the United Irish rebellion in the 1790s and of the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s.  

According to Karl Marx writing in 1853, the British had “a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating”. They had accomplished the destructive in a way that unveiled before our eyes "all the profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization…turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked.”  

Writing about the outbreak of the Great Rebellion, he discussed “the official Blue Books on the subject of East India torture, which was laid before the House of Commons during the seasons of 1856 and 1857”. These reports established “the universal existence of torture as a financial institution of British India .”  

Karl Marx pointed out:

“From the real history of British rule in India. In view of such facts, dispassionate and thoughtful men may perhaps be led to ask whether a people are not justified in attempting to expel the foreign conquerors who have so abused their subjects.”

What did this torture involve? It ranged from rough manhandling through flogging and placing in the stocks and then on to more extreme measures:

“Searing with hot irons….dipping in wells and river till the victim is half suffocated…squeezing the testicles…putting pepper and red chillies in the eyes or introducing them into the private parts of men and women….prevention of sleep…nipping the flesh with pincers…suspension from the branches of a tree..imprisonment in a room used for storing lime..”  

What is remarkable is how little this regime of torture has figured in accounts of British rule in India. 

It is a hidden history that has been unremarked on and almost completely unexplored. Book after book remains silent on the subject. This most surely calls into question the whole historiography of the Raj. One last point is worth noting here: the extent to which everyday relations between the British and Indian subjects were characterized by abuse and violence. Servants were routinely abused as “niggers” and assaulted and beaten by their masters, something that worsened during and after the Great Rebellion. 

Lord Elgin (1811- 1863) writing in August 1857, described British feelings towards the Indians as consisting of “detestation, contempt, ferocity.” This everyday abuse and violence continued until the end of the British Raj.  

(source: The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire - By John Newsinger  p. 65 - 71).

According to the great historian R. C. Majumdar the activities of Christian missionaries was a major contributor to the great uprising of 1857:

“The sensitiveness of the sepoys to their religious beliefs and practice and the dread of conversion to Christianity worked as a nightmare upon their minds….A vague dread that the government was determined, by hook or by crook, to convert the Indians to Christianity pervaded all ranks of society, and the sepoys, fully shared these apprehension with the rest…The aggressive attitude of the Christian missionaries …in matters of proselytization has been frequent subjects of complaint.” 

Among such aggressive activities, Majumdar noted the practice of missionaries of "open unchecked denunciation of their cherished social usages and customs in most violent language, and filthy abuses of their gods and goddesses by bands of Christian missionaries."

(source: Christianity's Scramble for India and The Failure of The Secularist' Elite - By N S Rajaram Hindu Writers Forum 1999 New Delhi. p. 38-39).


This lithograph shows the pitched battle during the first war of independence - 1857. 

In 1877 Queen Victoria took the title of Empress of India on the advice of her Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.


In my own city and district of Allahabad and in the neighborhood, General James Neill (1810 - 1857) held his ' Bloody Assizes.' Soldiers and civilians alike were holding Bloody Assize, or slaying natives without any assize at all, regardless of age or sex. It is on the records of our British Parliament, in papers sent home by the Governor-General in Council, that "the aged, women, and children are sacrificed as well as those guilty of rebellion." They were not deliberately hanged, but burnt to death in villages - Volunteer hanging parties went into the districts and amateur executioners were not wanting to the occasion. One gentleman boasted of the numbers he had finished off quite "in an artistic manner," with mango trees as gibbets and elephants for drops, the victims of this wild justice being strung up, as though for pastime, in the form of figures of eight. 

British memorials of the Mutiny have been put up in Cawnpore and elsewhere. There is no memorial for the Indians who died.

(source: The Discovery of India - By Jawaharlal Nehru p. 324-325).

Indian JNU historians and Negationism

In spite of Islamic Onslaught and British Imperialism, our children should read what the West Bengal's leftist government is teaching kids. Refer to an extract from the, textbook for Class V

"Islam and Christianity are the only religions which treated man with honor and equality..."

Does Indian history need to be rewritten? Times of India 12/02/01 Refer to Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud.

Claude Alvares has written: "The English establishment themselves as a separate ruling caste; like other Indian castes, they did not inter-marry or eat with the lower (native) caste. Their children were shipped off to public schools in England, while they themselves kept to their clubs and bungalows in special suburbs known as cantonments and civil lines."

(source: Decolonizing History: Technology and Culture in India, China and the West 1492 to the Present Day - By Claude Alvares p. 191).




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