Contemporary Sources

Lord Dalhousie on the Annexation of Nagpore
Quoted in 1854.

"We set up a Rajah at Nagpore We afforded him every advantage a Native Prince could command. His boyhood was trained under our own auspices an able and respected Princess was his guardian and the Regent of the State. For ten years, while he was yet a youth, we governed his country for him. We handed it over to him with an excellent system of administration in full and practised operation with a disciplined and well paid Army with a full treasury and a contented people. Yet after little more than twenty years, this Prince descending to the tomb, has left behind him a character whose record is disgraceful to him alike as a sovereign and as a man. So favoured and so aided he has nevertheless lived and died a seller of justice, a drunkard and a debauchee. What guarantee can the British Government now find for itself or offer to the people of Nagpore that another successor will not imitate and emulate this bad example. And if that should be the case what justification could the Government of India hereafter plead for having neglected to exercise the power which it possessed to avert for ever from the people of Nagpore so probable and so grievous an evil"

He went on to give another explanation for its incorporation:

"Under a wise and just administration the people of Nagpore would materially aid in supplying a want upon the secure supply of which much of the manufacturing prosperity of England depends. Many items go to make up the sum of that prosperity but there is perhaps no one item in it all upon which more depends than upon a steady and full supply of the staple article of cotton wool. The importance of this question is ever pressing itself upon all who are connected with the Administration either of England or of India. My own official course during the last ten years has made me especially sensible of its importance. Before I left England it was urged upon me personally by the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester and during my administration here the Prime Minister has himself addressed me specially upon the increasing interest with which year by year it is watched in England I need hardly say then that my attention has never ceased to be directed to the means of obtaining those cheap and abundant fields of supply and that ready access to them which alone can relieve England from almost total dependence upon a foreign Power for the supply of an absolutely indispensable material of her trade."

Lord Dalhousie's plan for achieving English control of the throne of Delhi
From Lord Dalhousie's minute to the Court of Directors of the East India Company

"On my arrival in Calcutta I received the despatch of the Honourable Court in reply to my letter on the succession of the throne of Delhi. In that letter I had recommended to the honourable court that, on the death of the present King, the title of Sovereignty should be withdrawn from the head of the House of Timour, that the Palace now occupied by the royal family within in the city of Delhi should pass into the possession of the Honourable Company, and that the exemption from judicial process now enjoyed by every member of the family should be withdrawn, excepting only the prince and his immediate family. The Honourable Court have conveyed to the Governor-General in Council full authority to carry those measures into effect. But I have for some time been made aware through various channels that the measures I have thus proposed regarding the throne of Delhi have not met with the concurrences of the authorities in England, whose long experience and knowledge of Indian affairs entitle their opinions to great weight, and that many there regard the tendency of these proposed measures with anxiety, if not with alarm.

"I have reconsidered the recommendations which I formerly submitted to the honourable court and the reasons on which they were founded. With unfeigned deference to the opinions of those to whom I have alluded, I still hold the views I then expressed. I still think it of great importance that the palace at Delhi should be exclusively in the hands of the British government, and I earnestly desire that that object should be pursued."

A British view on the greased cartridges issue
From a letter from George Barnes, Commissioner and Superintendent of the Cis-Sutlej states to Robert Mongomery, judicial commissioner for the Punjab, 5th February 1858

"The spark which lit the train was undoubtedly the greased cartridges. A change in the shape of a turban had led, in eighteen hundred and six, to the mutiny and massacre of Europeans at Vellore, and there can be no doubt that the danger to their caste, supposed to be hidden in the obnoxious cartridge, was sufficient case, in the existing temper of the sepoys to incite a revolt...

"Incendiary fires began to blaze in every large cantonment and soon the special grievance of the new cartridge was lost in the unmistakable signs of general mutiny. In February, the 19th Native Infantry refused even the old cartridges which, in common with the whole Bengal army, they had used for years."

On the Timing of the Mutiny
General Sir Garnet Wolseley writing in his memoirs (1878)

"How merciful was the Great Ruler of all worlds to end the Crimean War before allowing the Indian Mutiny to begin. We should have manfully faced the double misfortune, but it must have very seriously strained our resources. As it was, many regiments came direct from one campaign to the other, feeling less than grateful, one may imagine, to the Great Ruler."

Lord Canning's Message to the 19th Regiment of Bengal
General Order given on 27th March.

"Neither the 19th Regiment nor any regiment in the service of the Government of India nor any Sepoy Hindoo or Mussulman has reason to pretend that the Government has shown directly or indirectly a desire to interfere with the religion of its troops. It has been the unvarying rule of the Government of India to treat the religious feelings of all its servants of every creed with careful respect and to representations or complaints put forward in a dutiful and becoming spirit whether upon this or upon any other subject it has never turned a deaf ear. But the Government of India expects to receive in return for this treatment the confidence of those who serve it. From its soldiers, of every rank and race, it will at all times and in all cases enforce obedience. They have sworn to give it and the Governor General in Council never ceases to exact it. To no men who prefer complaints with arms in their hands will he ever listen."

Proclamation by mutineers
Proclamation on banner used by mutineers to urge others to join them:

"Large rewards and high rank will be conferred by the King of Kings, the Centre of Prosperity, the King of Delhi"

Sir John Lawrence's views on the Mutiny
Letter from Sir John Lawrence forwarding to the Governor General of India on the Proceedings on the Trial of the King of Delhi.

"Whatever may have been the King's participation in the events subsequent to the outbreak at Meerut nothing has transpired on the trial or on any other occasion to show that he was engaged in a previous conspiracy to excite a mutiny in the Bengal Army. Indeed it is Sir J Lawrence's very decided impression that this mutiny had its origin in the army itself; and that it is not attributable to any external or antecedent conspiracy whatever, although it was afterwards taken advantage of by disaffected persons to compass their own ends and that its proximate cause was the cartridge affair and nothing else. Sir J Lawrence has examined many hundreds of letters on this subject from natives, both soldiers and civilians. He has, moreover, conversed constantly on the matter with natives of all classes and he is satisfied that the general, indeed the universal - opinion in this part of India is to the above effect"

Indian Mutiny

Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe