As a result, the burden of providing contingents for active service in Burma, readily accessible only by sea, and China had fallen disproportionately on the two smaller Presidency Armies. As signed into effect by Lord Canning , Dalhousie's successor as Governor-General, the act required only new recruits to the Bengal Army to accept a commitment for general service.
However, serving high-caste sepoys were fearful that it would be eventually extended to them, as well as preventing sons following fathers into an army with a strong tradition of family service. There were also grievances over the issue of promotions, based on seniority. This, as well as the increasing number of European officers in the battalions,  made promotion slow, and many Indian officers did not reach commissioned rank until they were too old to be effective.
The final spark was provided by the ammunition for the new Enfield P rifle. To load the rifle, sepoys had to bite the cartridge open to release the powder. At least one Company official pointed out the difficulties this may cause:. However, in August , greased cartridge production was initiated at Fort William , Calcutta , following a British design. Company officers became aware of the rumours through reports of an altercation between a high-caste sepoy and a low-caste labourer at Dum Dum. The Company was quick to reverse the effects of this policy in hopes that the unrest would be quelled.
On 27 January, Colonel Richard Birch, the Military Secretary, ordered that all cartridges issued from depots were to be free from grease, and that sepoys could grease them themselves using whatever mixture "they may prefer". This however, merely caused many sepoys to be convinced that the rumours were true and that their fears were justified. Additional rumours started that the paper in the new cartridges, which was glazed and stiffer than the previously used paper, was impregnated with grease.
Alex Detail's Rebellion
Native soldiers called as witnesses complained of the paper "being stiff and like cloth in the mode of tearing", said that when the paper was burned it smelled of grease, and announced that the suspicion that the paper itself contained grease could not be removed from their minds. The civilian rebellion was more multifarious. The rebels consisted of three groups: the feudal nobility, rural landlords called taluqdars , and the peasants.
The nobility, many of whom had lost titles and domains under the Doctrine of Lapse , which refused to recognise the adopted children of princes as legal heirs, felt that the Company had interfered with a traditional system of inheritance. Rebel leaders such as Nana Sahib and the Rani of Jhansi belonged to this group; the latter, for example, was prepared to accept East India Company supremacy if her adopted son was recognised as her late husband's heir.
Ann Narkeh – XR Blog
As the rebellion gained ground, the taluqdars quickly reoccupied the lands they had lost, and paradoxically, in part because of ties of kinship and feudal loyalty, did not experience significant opposition from the peasant farmers, many of whom joined the rebellion, to the great dismay of the British. For example, the relatively prosperous Muzaffarnagar district, a beneficiary of a Company irrigation scheme, and next door to Meerut , where the upheaval began, stayed relatively calm throughout.
Charles Canning , the Governor-General of India during the rebellion. Lakshmibai, the Rani of Maratha-ruled Jhansi , one of the principal leaders of the rebellion who earlier had lost her kingdom as a result of the Doctrine of Lapse. The justice system was considered to be inherently unfair to the Indians. The official Blue Books, East India Torture — , laid before the House of Commons during the sessions of and , revealed that Company officers were allowed an extended series of appeals if convicted or accused of brutality or crimes against Indians.
The economic policies of the East India Company were also resented by many Indians. Each of the three "Presidencies" into which the East India Company divided India for administrative purposes maintained their own armies.
Of these, the Army of the Bengal Presidency was the largest. Unlike the other two, it recruited heavily from among high-caste Hindus and comparatively wealthy Muslims. The Muslims formed a larger percentage of the 18 irregular cavalry units  within the Bengal Army, whilst Hindus were mainly to be found in the 84 regular infantry and cavalry regiments. The sepoys were therefore affected to a large degree by the concerns of the landholding and traditional members of Indian society.
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In the early years of Company rule, it tolerated and even encouraged the caste privileges and customs within the Bengal Army, which recruited its regular soldiers almost exclusively amongst the landowning Brahmins and Rajputs of the Bihar and Awadh regions. These soldiers were known as Purbiyas. By the time these customs and privileges came to be threatened by modernising regimes in Calcutta from the s onwards, the sepoys had become accustomed to very high ritual status and were extremely sensitive to suggestions that their caste might be polluted. The sepoys also gradually became dissatisfied with various other aspects of army life.
Their pay was relatively low and after Awadh and the Punjab were annexed, the soldiers no longer received extra pay batta or bhatta for service there, because they were no longer considered "foreign missions". The junior European officers became increasingly estranged from their soldiers, in many cases treating them as their racial inferiors. In , a new Enlistment Act was introduced by the Company, which in theory made every unit in the Bengal Army liable to service overseas. Although it was intended to apply only to new recruits, the serving sepoys feared that the Act might be applied retroactively to them as well.
Several months of increasing tensions coupled with various incidents preceded the actual rebellion. On 26 February the 19th Bengal Native Infantry BNI regiment became concerned that new cartridges they had been issued were wrapped in paper greased with cow and pig fat, which had to be opened by mouth thus affecting their religious sensibilities. Their Colonel confronted them supported by artillery and cavalry on the parade ground, but after some negotiation withdrew the artillery, and cancelled the next morning's parade.
On 29 March at the Barrackpore parade ground, near Calcutta , year-old Mangal Pandey of the 34th BNI, angered by the recent actions of the East India Company, declared that he would rebel against his commanders. Hewson raised the alarm. Henry Baugh came out to investigate the unrest, Pandey opened fire but hit Baugh's horse instead. General John Hearsey came out to the parade ground to investigate, and claimed later that Mangal Pandey was in some kind of "religious frenzy".
The quarter guard and other sepoys present, with the single exception of a soldier called Shaikh Paltu , drew back from restraining or arresting Mangal Pandey.
Roots with Rebellion, Rock Steady @ Alex's Bar
Shaikh Paltu restrained Pandey from continuing his attack. After failing to incite his comrades into an open and active rebellion, Mangal Pandey tried to take his own life, by placing his musket to his chest and pulling the trigger with his toe. He managed only to wound himself. He was court-martialled on 6 April, and hanged two days later. The Jemadar Ishwari Prasad was sentenced to death and hanged on 22 April.
The regiment was disbanded and stripped of its uniforms because it was felt that it harboured ill-feelings towards its superiors, particularly after this incident.
Shaikh Paltu was promoted to the rank of havildar in the Bengal Army, but was murdered shortly before the 34th BNI dispersed. Sepoys in other regiments thought these punishments were harsh. The demonstration of disgrace during the formal disbanding helped foment the rebellion in view of some historians.
Disgruntled ex-sepoys returned home to Awadh with a desire for revenge. During April, there was unrest and fires at Agra , Allahabad and Ambala. At Ambala in particular, which was a large military cantonment where several units had been collected for their annual musketry practice, it was clear to General Anson, Commander-in-Chief of the Bengal Army, that some sort of rebellion over the cartridges was imminent.
Despite the objections of the civilian Governor-General's staff, he agreed to postpone the musketry practice and allow a new drill by which the soldiers tore the cartridges with their fingers rather than their teeth. However, he issued no general orders making this standard practice throughout the Bengal Army and, rather than remain at Ambala to defuse or overawe potential trouble, he then proceeded to Simla , the cool "hill station" where many high officials spent the summer.
Although there was no open revolt at Ambala, there was widespread arson during late April. Barrack buildings especially those belonging to soldiers who had used the Enfield cartridges and European officers' bungalows were set on fire. At Meerut , a large military cantonment, 2, Indian sepoys and 2, British soldiers were stationed along with 12 British-manned guns. The station held one of the largest concentrations of British troops in India and this was later to be cited as evidence that the original rising was a spontaneous outbreak rather than a pre-planned plot.
Although the state of unrest within the Bengal Army was well known, on 24 April Lieutenant Colonel George Carmichael-Smyth, the unsympathetic commanding officer of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry , ordered 90 of his men to parade and perform firing drills.
All except five of the men on parade refused to accept their cartridges. On 9 May, the remaining 85 men were court martialled , and most were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment with hard labour. Eleven comparatively young soldiers were given five years' imprisonment. The entire garrison was paraded and watched as the condemned men were stripped of their uniforms and placed in shackles. As they were marched off to jail, the condemned soldiers berated their comrades for failing to support them. The next day was Sunday.