First War of Independence: First War of Independence is widely known by many names, which are the Sepoy Mutiny, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Insurrection, the Revolt of 1857, and the Indian Mutiny. First War of Rebellion is among the major yet unsuccessful uprising across India in 1857-58 against the British East India Company’s rule. British East India Company was then ruling over the nation as the sovereign power, on behalf of the British Crown.
Began on 10th May 1857, the rebellion came out in the form of the mutiny of sepoys of the British East India Company’s army in Meerut’s garrison town. The revolt then erupted into several other civilian rebellions and mutinies, mainly across the upper Gangetic plain and Central India. With the revolt, there was a rising threat to the British power across those regions, and it contained after 20th June 1858, with the defeat of the rebels in the Gwalior. Further, on 1st November 1858, the British granted amnesty to the rebels who were not involved in any murder.
The resentments born with the diverse perceptions fed the First War of Independence, including the invasive social reforms of the British style, tougher land taxes, and partial treatment of rich landowners and princes. Many of the Indians also rose against the British but many fought for them and the majority of the Indians were a complaint to the British rule.
- What is the date and year of the First War of Independence?
- Where did the First War of Independence happen?
- Who won the First War of Independence?
- Who were the two rivals of the First War of Independence?
- Who called the revolt the First War of Independence?
- Why is the 1857 revolt known as the First War of Independence?
- What was the immediate reason behind the First War of Independence?
- What were the social, political, religious, and economic causes of the First War of Independence?
- What was the impact of the First War of Independence?
- What led to the failure of the Indian freedom fighters in the First War of Independence?
- Who was the first martyr of the 1867 Revolt?
- What are the popular awards related to the First War of Independence?
- What are the popular films related to the 1857 revolt?
- What are the prominent pieces of literature related to the First War of Independence?
The First War of Independence lasted for 17 months and 22 days, and it lasted from 10th May 1857 to 1st November 1858.
The First War of independence, also popular as the Indian Mutiny and Revolt of 1857 was a widespread yet unsuccessful rebellion against British Rule in India. The War began in Meerut by the Sepoys (the Indian troops) who were serving the British East India Company, and then it spread across Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, and Kanpur.
During the First War of independence, due to several reasons, the Indian Freedom Fighters lost the fight against the British and the British East India Company received the victory. However, in the hearts of the Indian citizens, the Freedom Fighters who sacrificed their lives during the revolt are still alive as the champions.
The revolt of 1857 or the First War of Independence was fought between the British East India Company and some Freedom Fighters of India. The revolt began due to some clashes rising among the Indian troops serving the army of the British East India Company about the army policies and weapons.
How Did the First War of Independence Get Its Name?
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar popularized the name ‘First War of Independence’ for the first time in his book ‘The History of the war of the Indian Independence’ of 1909. The book was previously written in Marathi.
The revolt of 1857 marked the conscious beginning of the Independence struggle against the British colonial tyranny. With it, many freedom fighters emerged out, and the British East India Company for the first time felt a risk to their rule in the Indian states. In some of the Indian regions, the war marked the end of the rule of the British East India Company.
The immediate reason for the First War of Independence was the introduction of the ‘Enfield’ rifle among the Indian troops serving the army of the British East India Company. The cartridge of the gun was required to be bitten off before being loaded to the gun. The Indian sepoys used to believe that either the greasing of the cartridge is done with pig fat or that it is made with cow fat. Both these were against the Hindu and Muslim religious ideologies and sentiments, thus the sepoys were reluctant for using such rifles. This was the moment that enraged the soldiers against the British.
<h3>What Were the Major Causes of the 1857 Revolt?
- Religious and Social Causes: Racism was the key reason behind the 1857 revolt. It was because the Indians were exploited by the British and kept away from mixing with the Europeans. The British East India Company members also started to interfere in the cultural and religious affairs of the different communities of India and started torturing them in different ways.
- Political Causes: The British expansion and conquer resulted in the spreading of unjust and harsh policies leading to the loss of the powers of Zamindars and Nawabs across several regions of India. This led to the introduction of some unfair policies like the policy of Trade and Commerce, the policy of the subsidiary alliance, the policy of doctrine of lapse, the policy of misgovernance, the policy of war and annexation, and others. Thus, the rulers who lost the states to the British naturally got against them and chose to side against the British East India Company during the 1857 revolt.
- Economic Causes: Various reforms came out for the revenue and taxation systems and affected the peasants widely and adversely. The British government also imposed several administrative policies for the expansion of their territories.
The entire foundation of the British East India Company was heavily shaken by the 1857 revolt and the situation unveiled the inefficiency of the Company in handling the administration of India. The major impact of the revolt was the introduction of the Government of India act that got successful in abolishing the rules of the company and thus marking the beginning of the British raj that conferred the powers in the hands of the British government for ruling the nation directly through the representatives.
The major causes behind the failure of the Indian fighters in ousting the British from the country are as follows:
- There was a lack of a clear leader among the sepoys. There was also a lack of the plan by which the British would be routed.
- Indian rulers aiding the revolts did not come up with any plan for the nation after defeating the British.
- The majority of the north Indian regions were adversely affected by the revolt. The three major presidencies of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal were mostly unaffected.
The first martyr freedom fighter of the First War of Independence was Mangal Pandey.
- Victoria Cross: There were medals awarded to the British Armed forces’ and British Indian Army’s members during the 1857 revolt.
- Indian Mutiny Medal: Around 290,000 of these medals were awarded.
- Indian Merit Order: East India Company introduced this in 1837 and was then taken over by the Crown in 1858. It was the gallantry medal for the native soldiers between 1837 and 1907.
- Light of India, of 1929
- Bengal Brigade, of 1954
- Shatranj Ke Khilari, of 1977
- Junoon, of 1978, directed by Shyam Benegal
- Mangal Pandey: The Rising, of 2005
- The Charge of the Light Brigade, of 1936
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- The Last Cartridge, and incident of the Sepoy rebellion in India, of 1908.
- Victoria & Abdul, of 2017
- Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, of 2019
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X
- Night runners of Bengal, a novel by John Masters
- The Siege of Krishnapur, a novel by J. G. Farrell
- Flashman in the Great Game, a novel by George MacDonald Fraser
- Two Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four and The Adventure of the Crooked Man
- The Great Train Robbery, a novel by Michael Crichton
- Fictional novella A Flight of Pigeons, by Ruskin Bond
- The Steam House, a novel by Jules Verne
- A Passage to India, a novel by E. M. Forster
- The face of the Waters, a novel by Flora Annie Steel