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The Revolt of 1857 (Part II)

Last Updated : 08 Dec, 2022
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Earlier we studied the Nature, Character, Causes, and Outbreak of the Revolt of 1857 and now we’ll study the Main role of Leaders, Immediate Impact, Significance, and Causes of Failure of the Revolt of 1857. So let’s understand it- 

(Read Part-I of Revolt of 1857)

1. Rani Laxmi Bai-

Rani Lakshmi Bai was the queen of Jhansi and a leader of the 1857–58 Indian Mutiny. She married Gangadhar Rao, the ruler of Jhansi, but she died without bearing a successor to the crown. Following Hindu tradition, the maharaja adopted a son as his successor shortly before death. Lord Dalhousie refused to acknowledge the chosen heir and seized Jhansi on lapse theory. The East India Company sent an agent to the tiny monarchy to handle administrative concerns. The queen stood firm in refusing to hand Jhansi to the British. Lakshmi Bai was proclaimed the ruler of Jhansi shortly after the insurrection in Meerut in 1857, and she reigned on behalf of the minor heir. She quickly gathered her forces and took command of the rebels in the region of Bundelkhand after joining the insurrection against the British. Even after her men were overpowered and the rescue army of Tantia Tope (another rebel leader) was beaten in the Battle of Betwa, Lakshmi Bai stood firm against the invading troops. Tantia Tope and Lakshmi Bai launched a successful attack on Gwalior’s city-fortress. She fought a tough battle as a man and was slain in battle.

2. Mangal Pandey-

Mangal Pandey was an Indian soldier whose attack on British officers on March 29, 1857, marked the start of the Indian First War of Independence. As a soldier, he joined the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry, including numerous Brahmans (sepoy). A new Enfield rifle was introduced into India in the mid-1850s while he was stationed at the Barrackpore garrison, requiring men to load the weapon by biting off the ends of greased cartridges. The lubricant used was rumoured to be cow or pig fat, which Hindus and Muslims despised. The sepoys claimed that the British deliberately greased the cartridges. Pandey tried to encourage his sepoys to rebel against their British officers, attacked two of them, attempted suicide after being restrained, and was eventually defeated and imprisoned. Soon after, Pandey was tried and sentenced to death. His execution was supposed to take place on April 18, but British officials moved it up to April 8 because they anticipated a large-scale uprising if they waited until then. Resistance to the usage of Enfield cartridges later that month in Meerut provoked a mutiny in May and the start of the wider rebellion.

3. Nana Saheb- 

During the 1857 Revolt, the Kanpur battalion was led by him. Nana Saheb and his followers attacked the British soldiers of the 53rd local infantry on June 6, 1857, and took control of it. Nana Saheb and his soldiers, headed by General Sir Hugh Wheeler, attacked the British East India Company’s entrenchment. This policy lasted until June 23, 1857. On June 27, 1857, Sir Hugh Wheeler, the British commander at Kanpur, surrendered to Nana Saheb in exchange for safe passage to Allahabad. The British were forced out of Kanpur, and Nana Saheb was declared Peshwa; nevertheless, Sir Colin Campbell, British Commander was able to reclaim Kanpur in the years that followed.

4. Bahadur Shah Zafar- 

Bahadur Shah Zafar is well-known for his role in the 1857 revolt and subsequent events. When Indian troops revolted against the East India Company, they turned their attention to Delhi. When they arrived in Delhi, they asked Zafar to lead them and proclaimed him King. After considerable debate, the hesitant old King agreed to their plea. The Company recovered control of Delhi as the conflict proceeded, the Indian warriors were crushed, and the King retreated to Humayun’s Tomb. He eventually surrendered and was placed on trial. Two of his sons were slain, as well as a grandchild. After being found guilty, he was banished to Burma. On October 7, 1858, he was deported to Burma on bullock carts with his wife and two boys.


Causes Of The Failure Of The Rebellion

Poorly organized-  The revolt of 1857 was small-scale and poorly coordinated. The sepoys of the widely dispersed cantonments could not operate in concert due to a lack of communication facilities. The uprising did not spread throughout the nation. The British regions of Bombay and Madras kept their men loyal to the British. There was little disruption to the south of the Narmada; Sindh, Punjab, the Northwestern Frontier Province, and Nepal were unharmed.

Lack of apparent leader- The period required a military and political leader who could unite disparate components into a unified army with a clear doctrine and plan of action. It was difficult to find such a leader. Bahadur Shah II was an elderly and tired man who lacked organizational skills. Despite having some talent, Nana Saheb lacked military leadership. Others, like Rani Lakshmi Bai, Kunwar Singh, and the Begum of Oudh, were regional leaders who lacked national clout.

No widespread support- The sepoys failed to obtain public support. The insurgency failed to pique the public’s interest, which remained indifferent and uninterested. The rebellion was primarily restricted to sepoys in various parts of the country. The sepoys and the general population did not get along well. Even among the sepoys, many stayed loyal to the British.

There is no common ideal among Sepoys- Before them, the sepoys lacked a shared ideal. The sepoys in Delhi were determined to reclaim the Mughal throne. Nana Saheb was made a Peshwa in Gwalior and Kanpur. Rani Lakshmi Bai fought for Jhansi. The devout Hindus and Muslims were concerned about their own beliefs. There was no cooperation between Hindus and Muslims.

No backing from the governing princes- The reigning princes were opposed to the sepoys. They actively helped the British put down the rebellion on the other side. Gwalior’s minister, Sir Dinkar Rao, Hyderabad’s minister, Nepal’s Sang Bahadur, and Afghanistan’s Dost Mohammad were unconcerned about the revolt and actively assisted the British against the sepoys. Fortunately for the British, the Crimean and Chinese wars were ended by 1856. This allowed the British to send more troops to India to quell the rebellion. The sepoys only possessed a few muskets and firearms. Swords and spears were their primary weapons. On the other hand, the British forces were armed with the newest weaponry and took use of the telegraph and railways. They may transmit a notice about the uprising in advance, allowing the opposite end to take preventative precautions.

The East India Company’s 100-year reign was the pinnacle of exploitation in India. And the exploitation went in all directions, affecting Indians’ social, economic, and political lives. Although limited in scope, the 1857 insurrection rattled the foundations of British power in India and demonstrated that the East India Company, which was primarily a commerce organization, was ineffective in dealing with the Indian government. The uprising proved the company’s authority in India to be hollow. Because the British government could not afford to lose India at any cost, it resolved to dissolve theEast India Company’s control and replace it with a direct government supervised by the British Parliament.

Immediate Impact

• The East India Company’s control was ended via the Government of India Act of 1858, and the British Parliament assumed direct responsibility for managing India. The EIC reverted to its previous status as a trade organization.
• The Governor-function General grew increasingly prominent, and his official title was changed to Viceroy.
• The distinction between the Governor-General and the Viceroy was that the Viceroy would represent the Queen. Still, the Governor-General would mean the British Parliament, whose jurisdiction was limited to British India and not the Princely States. 
• A new ministry is known as ‘India House’ was established, led by the Secretary of State for India, a cabinet minister.
• The ‘India House’ has 15 experts operating in India. As a result, the British Parliament attempted to devise a system to prevent repeated revolts. The India House was the supreme governing body in India, serving as a connection between the British Parliament and the Indian government.


• It sparked Indian nationalism, believing that if Indians put aside their differences and put up a unified front, they might defeat the British.
• It resulted in the British crown gaining control of India from the East India Company. The British Empire expanded to include India.
• It led to the demise of Dalhousie’s terrible Doctrine of Lapse, which had been employed to acquire kingdoms.
• The British understood the value of effective administration and implemented several administrative improvements
• Overt proselytization was discouraged by the British. British knew that allowing religious resentments to fester may lead to significant problems.
• As a result, The British Empire in India ended ninety years later, on August 15, 1947.


1. Who was the governor-general during the Revolt of 1857?

a) Lord Irwin
b) Lord Lytton
c) Lord Willington
d) Charles Canning
Ans. D

2. Which is one of the social reasons for the 1857 revolt?

a) The company’s trade policy destroyed Indian handicrafts.
b) The English could not establish any social relationship with the Indians.
c) The racial arrogance of the British created a difference between the rulers and the ruled.
d) Both b and c
Ans. D

3. Who British Official suppressed the Revolt of Jhansi?

a) Henry Havelock
b) Hugh Rose
c) Henry Lawrence
d) Colin Campbell
Ans. B

4. The leader, who is associated with Baraut in Uttar Pradesh during the 1857 revolts- 

a) Maulavi Ahmadullah Shah
b) Shah Mal
c) Veer Kunwar Singh
d) Tatya Tope
Ans. B

5. According to Sir Huge Rose ‘the best and bravest military leader of the rebel’ is –

a) Bahadur Shah Zafar
b) Kunwar Singh
c) Begum Hazrat Mahal
d) Rani Laxmi Bai
Ans. D

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