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THE ATHEN/EUM, 1857.
THE Mutiny of the Bengal Army renders the The Mutiny year 1857 memorable. At night on the 10th ofof'Aer^neal February the Sepoys at Barrackpore held a meeting, on the parade ground, to concert a general rising, when they proposed to murder all the Europeans and plunder the station. On the 19th of February the 19th Regiment, stationed at Berhampore, broke out into open revolt, but no anxiety was felt, and the Government, after ordering the disaffected regiments to be disbanded, considered the mutiny to be at an end. So fully was confidence restored that the Bombay Gazette on Thursday, the 1st of May, announced "India is quiet throughout." On that day week, when cartridges were served out to the 3rd Bengal Cavalry at Meerut, the VOL. II. B
Outbreak at soldiers refused to accept them, although it was distinctly stated that they had not been greased.* On the next day eighty-five of the men were tried by court-martial and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. On the following Sunday, as the bell was ringing for evening service, the native troops rushed to the gaol and liberated the prisoners; and at the same time the nth and 12th Regiments of
* " It had been determined to improve the efficiency of the native army by the introduction of the Enfield rifle, the cartridges of which required to be lubricated. They were made up for the rifles in the laboratory at Dumdum. On the 22nd of January, Capt. Wright informed Major Bontein, commanding the depot of musketry at that station, that a very unpleasant feeling existed among the Sepoys who had been sent there for instruction, regarding the grease used in preparing the cartridges. It appears that a mechanic attached to the magazine had asked a Sepoy of the 2nd Grenadiers for water from his lotah, or brass water-pot; the Sepoy refused it, on the ground that he did not know to what caste he belonged ; when the mechanic immediately retorted, 'You yourself will soon have no caste left, for you will be required to bite cartridges smeared with the
fat of pigs and cows' It was then discovered, for the
first time, that a report had been disseminated through the native army that it was the design of Government to destroy the caste of the Sepoys by constraining them to bite off the end of greased cartridges."—' Memoirs of Major-General Sir Henry Havelock, K.C.B.,' by John Clark Marshman.
Bengal Infantry seized their arms, shot their officers, including Col. Finnis, and, after setting fire to the bungalows and murdering all the Europeans, fled to Delhi, about forty miles distant, and proclaimed the King of Delhi Emperor of India. From that date, May 11th, the Mutiny spread with the rapidity of fire, and the panic at Calcutta became so great that it was only owing to the perfect calmness of Lord Canning that anything like order was preserved.
It is remarkable how slow the people in Ignorance England were to realize the great calamity that strophe in had come upon them. It was not until the EnBland28th of April that particulars were received in London of the mutiny at Berhampore, when the Times, in a letter from its correspondent at Calcutta to the 23rd of March, announced :—
"The Government has resolved to punish the 19th First intimaRegiment of Native Infantry—that concerned in the '"yw] mutiny of Berhampore It has been ordered to Barrackpore, where it will be disbanded. The sentence has not been promulgated, but my information is certain, and the General Order will probably appear in the next Gazette. The sentence, though inadequate to the offence, is not without a certain severity. Every native officer loses his commission. Every old Sepoy loses his pension, and, as the Company only receives recruits up to a certain age, his bread. The younger men will cross over to Bombay and enlist there. It is the officers and the older men who are to blame, and there is therefore justice in a punishment which falls almost exclusively on their heads. The
order has been delayed by the necessity of bringing another European regiment to Calcutta. The capital has for the last two years been left almost unprotected. Formerly there was always a European regiment in the fort and 1,200 artillerymen at Dumdum, eight miles off. The transfer of the Artillery headquarters to Meerut left only one regiment in Calcutta, and that is sometimes reduced to a wing. There are 5,000 Sepoys at Barrackpore. There is a bad spirit among some of them, and it is barely possible they may refuse to obey the order, or may display their sympathy in a manner involving a breach of discipline. In that case the fort, if not the town, would be in danger, and Government has acted wisely in providing against the possibility of resistance. With two European regiments on the spot and three batteries in reserve, the Sepoys, however excited, will obey in silence. I said the sentence was inadequate. As I write the papers bring intelligence of a mutiny among the Madras troops at Vizieragram. The Madrassees have no caste, and their discontent must, therefore, proceed from other causes than the cartridge order. The truth is, we are at this moment passing through one of those periodical crises which every now and then remind us that Government in India 'sits on bayonets.' The Sepoys are restless and dissatisfied. They have no particular grievances, no particular leaders, no particular wants. A war on this side of India would at once remove every disaffection."
On the 19th of May the Times, in a letter from its Calcutta correspondent dated April 9th, said :—
"The 19th Regiment of Native Infantry has been disbanded. The Government ordered it to march to