The Man who Fired the First Salvo that then set off 1857 Revolt Against the British was hung on April 8, 1857
The First War of Independence began, metamorphically, with the salvo fired by Mangal Pandey. Resents had been brewing against oppressive British rule. The immediate provocation was the use of greased cartridges by the British. A rumour widely spread that the lubricant used was either cow or pig lard, which was repugnant to Hindus or Muslims, respectively. The belief arose among the sepoys that the British had deliberately used the lard on the cartridges.
Pandey was court-martialled by the British with speed and alacrity on April 6, 1857. At his hearing he insisted he had acted alone and in the name of India. He was due to be hanged on April 18 but the British, fearful of the widespread unrest, brought forward the date of execution and Pandey was hanged on 8 April 1857. Born on July 19, 1827, Akbarpur, a town near Faizabad. India, Pandey was hanged on April 8, 1857 at Barrackpore.
It was on a quiet and sleepy afternoon, a Sunday, in March 1857, that Mangal Pandey, an agitated sepoy in the English East India Company’s 34th Native Infantry marched on to the parade ground in Barrackpore, exhorting his comrades to join him in protecting their religion from the Europeans. When British officers arrived to arrest him, he drew his sword on them and then turned his musket on himself. As he was led off to the gallows just a few days later, Mangal Pandey passed into history and legend as the man who had fired the first salvo—into what was to turn into a nationwide uprising against the British.
The First War of Independence has been controversially taught through colonial historiography as a minor mutiny. Over the years, independent Indian historians have brought in the rational and more cohesive understanding. A commemorative postage stamp with his image on it was issued by the Indian government in 1984.
This video, made for an easy understanding of the Revolt of 1857 has been produced by Khoj – Education for a Plural India.
The greatest and the most widespread armed uprising which shook the foundations of British rule in India took place in 1857. The accumulating hatred against British rule which had resulted in numerous though localised, outbreaks burst forth in a mighty rebellion in 1857. The dispossessed rulers of Indian states, the nobles and the zamindars (landlowners) who had been deprived of their lands, the Indian soldiers of Britain’s army in India, and the vast masses of peasants, artisans and others who had been ruined by British economic powers and had been rising up in revolt in their isolated pockets, were now united by the common aim of overthrowing British rule. The introduction of greased cartridges which showed the British rulers’ complete disregard of the religious beliefs of the Indian people provided the immediate cause of the revolt. It was on this day 159 years, April 8, 1857, ago that Mangal Pandey was martyrd.
The uprising again began in Meerut on May 10, 1857 when the Indian soldiers killed their British officers and marched to Delhi. They were joined by the soldiers stationed in Delhi and proclaimed the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II as the Emperor of India. The rebellion spread like wild fire and the British rule ceased to exist over a vast part of northern and central India for many months.
The major centres of the revolt, besides Delhi, where some of the fiercest battles were fought were Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Bundelkhand and Arrah. Local revolts took place in many other parts of the country. Among the prominent leaders of the uprising were Nana Sahib, Tantia Tope, Bakht Khan, Azimullah Khan, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Kunwar Singh, Maulvi Ahmadullah, Bahadur Khan and Rao Tula Ram.
Mangal Pandey Indian soldier
From the Trial of Mangal Pandey
Proceedings in continuation of a native General Court-martial assembled at Fort William, and re-assembled at Barrackpore on Monday, the April 6, 1857, by order of the Major-General Hearsey, for the trial of Sepoy Mungul Pandy, 34th Regiment, Native Infantry, and all prisoners who may be brought before it.
Subadar-Major Howahir Lall Tewary, 43rd Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Bhola Opudeah, 17th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Hurruck Sing, 40th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Ram Sing, 9th Battalion, Artillery.
Subadar Amaunt Khan, 37th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Sewumbur Pandy, 34th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Dirga Ram, 70th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Khooda Buksh, 2nd Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Meerwan Sing, 70th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Sookhlal Misr, 43rd Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Ajoodhia Tewary, 70th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Jalim Sing, 43rd Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Dewan Allie, 9th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Mohun Sing, 65th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Subadar Lalla Ram Buksh, 8th Regiment, Native Infantry.
Captain G.C. Hatch, Deputy Judge Advocate-General, Presidency Division.
Lieutenant JamesVallings, 19th Regiment, Native Infantry.
The Court re-assembled at the Mess House of the 34th Regiment, Native Infantry, at Barrackpore, at 11 a.m., the President, Members, Judge Advocate, Interpreter all being present.
Lieutenant and Brevet-Colonel S.G. Wheler Commanding the 34th Regiment, Native Infantry, being appointed Prosecutor, takes his place in Court.
Mungul Pandy, Sepoy, No. 1446, 5th Company, 34th Regiment, Native Infantry, is brought a prisoner in Court.
The Division Orders directing the re-assembly of the Court-martial at Barrackpore, and the Station Order directing the hour and place of the Court’s assembly, are produced and read.
The names of the President and Members of the Court are read over to the prisoner.
BY THE JUDGE ADVOCATE
Question: Sepoy Mungul Pandy, do you object to being tried by the president or by any of the Members of this Court-martial?
Answer: No, I do not object.
The interpreter, President, Members, and Judge Advocate make the prescribed solemn affirmation.
The following charge is read:
Mungul Pandy, Sepoy, No. 1446, 5th Company, 34th Regiment, Native Infantry, confined by order of Major-General J.B. Hearsey, Commanding the Presidency Division, on the following charges:
1st – For mutiny, in having at Barrackpore, on the 29th March 1857, gone on to the parade ground in front of the quarter-guard of his regiment armed with a sword and musket, and then and there used words tending to incite the men of his regiment to turn out and join him in resistance to lawful authority.
2nd – For having, on the occasion set forth in the first charge, used violence against his superior officers Sergeant-Major James Thornton Hewson and Lieutenant and Adjutant Bempde Henry Baugh, of the 34th Regiment, Native Infantry, by discharging at them, severally, his loaded musket, and then and there striking and wounding with his sword the said Lieutenant B.H. Baugh and Sergeant-Major J.T. Hewson.
By order of the Major-General Commanding Presidency Division.
ASST. ADJT. GENL.’S OFFICER, (Sd.) A.H. ROSS, Major,
BARRACKPORE; Asst. Adjt. Genl., Presy. Divn.
The 5th April 1857.
BY THE JUDGE ADVOCATE
Question: Sepoy Mungul Pandy, No. 1446, 5th Company, 24th Regiment, Native Infantry, how say you, are you guilty, or not guilty, of these charges?
Answer: Not guilty.