The Past and Present Society

"Satan Let Loose upon Earth": The Kanpur Massacres in India in the Revolt of 1857 Author(s): Rudrangshu Mukherjee Source: Past & Present, No. 128 (Aug., 1990), pp. 92-116 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Past and Present Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 21/10/2011 12:27
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Oxford University Press and The Past and Present Society are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Past & Present.

was this, that massacres of the Cawnpore In fact, the peculiaraggravation the deed was done by a subjectrace by blackmen who daredto shed the blood of theirmasters,and thatof poorhelplessladiesand children. combined,but Herewe had not only a servilewarand a sortof Jacquerie we had a war of religion,a warof race, and a warof revenge,of hope, of andto re-establish promptings to shakeoff the yokeof a stranger, national the full powerof nativechiefs, and the full sway of nativereligions. . . the causesof themutinyandthe revolt,it is clearenoughthatone Whatever to instinct,determined of the modesby whichthe leaders,as if by common of everywhiteman, womanor child effecttheirend was, the destruction who fell into their hands.1

rulewouldcome "Ourlearnedmen . . . told us thatthe Company's to an end in 1857, since this was one hundred years after the firstgreatbattle":so wrote Sitaram,the loyal sepoy, in Company's of 1857.2The explosion of the uprising narrative his autobiographical that the astrologershad predicted a prophecythat was widely in northIndia did indeedcome, but not exactlyon the circulated centenaryof Plassey. It began on 10 May 1857 in the cantonment of Delhi.3 In the spaceof one monththe town of Meerut,north-east
* This paperwas writtenwhen I was a fellowat the ShelbyCullomDavis Center for HistoricalStudies, PrincetonUniversity,in spring 1989. The first draft was to Power".I am on "Powerand Responses presented to the Davis CenterSeminar response.Susan of the seminarfor their enthusiastic gratefulto the participants NatalieZemonDavis,Barun Chatterjee, Amussen,ChrisBayly,PeterBrown,Partha De, Greg Denning, John Dunbabin,John Elliott, AmitavGhosh, RanaiitGuha, Hill, HaroldJames,WilliamJordan,DonnaMerwick,GyanPrakash, Christopher and Ted Rabb, Asok Sen, LawrenceStone and Sean Wilentzcriticized,approved is, forthe finalproduct The responsibility forimprovements. mademanysuggestions of course,mine. (New York, 1970), Diaty, ed. M. Edwardes 1 W. H. Russell,My IndianMutiny pp. 29-30. Lunt(London, Norgate, ed. James trans.Captain From Sepoy toSubedar, 2 Sitaram, of Bahadur Shah,dated25 August1857,notedthat 1970),p. 173.The proclamation of the the writings "theancientworks,bothof the Hindoosand the Mahommedans, punditsand rammals,all of the astrologers, miracleworkers,and the calculations agree in assertingthat the English will no longer have any footing in India or Struggle in Uttar (eds.), Freedorn quotedin S. A. RizviandM. Bhargava elsewhere": Pradesh,6 vols. (Lucknow,1960),i, pp. 453 ff. is available in J. A. B. Palmer, reconstruction of the Meerutoutbreak 3 A detailed 1966). in 1857 (Cambridge, at Meenzt TheMutinyOutbreak

4 .port.4It took nearlytwo years for Britishrule to be reestablished. Guha.1858). exclaimsthe major. had collapsed "like a house made of cards". 1982).also admittedthat the swordwas the most valid title the Britishhad to sovereigntyin India."Therewas no powerin India". Violence. p.Calcutta.This articleattempts to analyse one such episode:the massacres of the Britishby the rebel Indians in Kanpur(Cawnpore). ale and Madeira. It was violence that served as the ultimate imprimatur of colonialism.1963.WilliamHowardRussell. sincenon-reciprocal is one of the necessaryconditionsof its reproduction. wrotePhilip Francis.-"By Jove!"he exclaims.It chosethe bodyas the siteto inscribe its superiority. hadmeticulously constructed a monopoly of violence. as an autocracy.the Times correspondent. This was the condition of their domination. and British rule there.KANPUR MASSACRES OF 1857 93 uprising had engulfed the entire Gangeticplain.sinceBritishruleanddomination in Indiahada very physical aspect.And this superiority manifested itselfby denyingto the Indiansa "humanness".alien violence by an indigenousviolenceof the colonized.thicklyandfiercely. as one Briiish officer put it. violence The right to violenceis. The violence associatedwith Britishpoweralso manifested itself in crudeforms. The bodiesof the Briiishacquired certaindignitiesin Indiathatwere predestined by birth and by the colour of their skin.who has by this time got to the walnutstage of the argument. by treating themandconceiving of them as animals.with everyvein MartinGubbins.5A dominantpower is always uneasy withviolencedirectedagainst it.repr. Francis'sfamousrival. and that was the British sword. British rule in India.they areas the beastsof the field.everywherea privilegethat authority enjoys andrefuses to share with those under it: power always insists on violenceas its exclusive monopoly. 118. p.of their superiority: rulersand ruled were arranged hierarchically as superior andinferior races.The revolt of 1857shattered thatmonopolyby matchingan which he has arrivedby gradations of sherry. noted in his diarythat: to the intelligent Briton. therefore. 146. A RuleofPropertyforBengal (Paris andThe Hague. 5 R. "ByJove!sir". it must be emphasized.The uprising and the subsequentre-establishment of Britishpowerwere markedby scenesof violencequite unparalleled in the historyof Britishrulein India. "but the power of the sword. and no other". Warren Hastings.was an essentialcomponentof the British presence in India.ascivilized and uncivilized. An Account of theMutinies in Outlh andtheSiegeof theLucknow Residency (London.

iii.had together broughtabouta majorupheavalin northIndia.1857-58. 1978). their successorsand landedmagnates. 8 J. Socialreformsbasedon the principles of reason. 9th edn. IndianMutiny Diaty. iii. 5th edn. . The British had not only conqueredIndia but had also. . the propagation of Christianity and the dispossession of kings.6 NUMBER 128 AnotherBritishresidentrecordedthat: the sepoyis [regarded as]an inferior creature. and naturallythe people affectedfelt aggrieved. 4th edn. a legal system imported from England. i.The reforming zealof British administrators was thus often interpreted as an attemptto subvertthe religionof Hindus andMuslims.the .in Awadh. are naturally the most intolerant in the world. p.He is spokenas a "nigger". 6 7 .7 It was an era of brutalfloggingsand of Indianwomen being forced to become mistressesof white men. violatedall that was held sacredand dearby the peopleof India.. 1880). 1881. W. Kaye. thatyou mightas well think to train pigs."thoseniggersaresucha confounded sensual lazy set. In Sitapur. p.8The uprisingof 1857 thus Russell. This brutality andviolenceis important if we areto understand the overall context of the Kanpurmassacres.a terrorthatwouldstrike awein the minds of the ruled. This way of life in the nineteenthcenturywas inevitably imbricated withreligion. History of theSepoyWarin Inzlia.He is addressed as "suar" or pig.This created an atmosphere of fearanddistrust in which anything associatedwith Christianity was an object of suspicion and hatred. 1880.. TheGreat Mutiny: India. crammingthemselveswith ghee and sweetmeatsand smokingtheir cursedchillumjees all day and all night. 18S7(Harmondsworth. Christian becameidentified withthe religion and increasedthe wrathof the rebels. . p. Hibbert. 56. . He is treated roughly.94 PAST AND PRESENT in his forehead swolnlikewhipcord. . ii.3 an evidenceof spiritand a praiseworthy senseof superiority overthesepoyto treathimasaninferior animal. an epithetmost approbrious to a respectable native. in the process of consolidating theirpowerin the firsthalfof the nineteenth century." The fact is. of recalcitrant elementsbeing blownfrom cannonsso that their bodies were effaced and the onlookers coveredwith blood and fragments of flesh. Quoted in C. 456. [theyoungerBritish officers] seemto regard it as an excellentjoke. He is swornat.Imperialrule in Indiacould only perpetuate itselfby a deployment of terror. 8. (London. An entire way of life was going under. I fear that favouritesof heaven-the civilizersof the world la race blanche. Britishrule thus visiblymanifesteditself by markingthe body of the administration based on Ricardiantheoriesof rent. the very name of the commissionerMr.

1984). 72-6. pp. 13 May 1859. 11National Archives of India.ForeignDept. ii. about flourbeing polluted by bone-dust. Mukherjee.see R. 12 For rumours.In northIndiain the summer of 1857. 147-54.stokingtheir suspicionand hatredand therebyspurringthem to violentaction. 326.All thesecirculaiing together aggregated intoone giganticrumour abouttheevilintentions of the British. Awadhin Revolt. 1983). for a more general discussionon rumoursin peasantinsurgency. Awadhin Revolt.bringingmen together. 17Dec. Rumourspreadfrom village to village.. what remains in the world''?10 A rebel proclamation announcedthat "The rebellionbegan with religiOn 11 There was amongthe people and the sepoys a deep-seated belief in the existenceof a deliberateBritishplot to overthrowcaste and religion. "Translation of a Proclamation Issued by the Begumin the Name of BirXis Qadr".: quotedin Rizvi and Bhargava (eds.pp. and a perceivedthreatto religionthat manifested itself in the circulationof rumours these are perspectives thathave to be bornein mindforcomprehending the natureof the uprising andthe massacres in Kanpur. pp. FreedOn Stnzggle.and about theend of Britishruleat the centenary of Plassey. Guha. 251-77. 603-S. 1857-58:A Stutlyof Popular Resistance (Delhi.the rumours movedin a powerful current touchingon issues that were profoundlyclose to indigenous sentiments.pp.The interventions of Britishadministrators in all aspectsof lifeonlyservedto aggravate theseapprehensions.The rebels thoughtthat they were fightingin defenceof theirreligion. Delhi. * * * 9 The religious fervour andunityarediscussed in R.. PoliticalConsultations. Suchanatmosphere facilitated the circulation of rumours. from bazaarto bazaarand fromone sepoy line to another. the violationby zealousBritishadministrators of all that was sacredand cherished.And in this therewas no differencebetweena Hindu and a Muslim. n.d.about forcible conversionsto Christianity. Untraceable in their origin and unverifiable in their import. 1858 consultation no. .9A group of rebels setiing out why they had takento armsdeclared.)."If the religionof a Hindoo or Mussalmanis lost. And it was this belief that bredfearand panic. consultation no. ForeignDept. abstract translation of an arzi (proclamation) from the rebel camp on the part of all the rebel officersand sepoys to Maharaja Jang Bahadur.see Mukherjee. 251.12 The violence intrinsicto British rule in India.What was important in all this was not the objectivetruth. Political Consultations.KANPUR MASSACRES OF 1857 95 displayeda very strong religiousfervour.but whatthe people believedto be true. aboutthe intentionsof the Britishto disarmthe sepoys.Elernentary Aspects of PeasantInsurgenczy in Colonial India(Delhi. 10NationalArchivesof India. therewere rumoursaboutthe cartridges of the new Enfield rifle being coatedwith the fat of cows and pigs.

in Depositions Taken at Cawnpore undotheDirection ofLieutenant-Colonel G.p. So daringan act of mutinywith murderof theirOfficers in the presence of anoverwhelming European force. . 29. The meetingswere held at Shumsh-ood-deen's house. had an electrifying effect on the troopsand the population in Kanpuras well as all over northIndia. Kanpur: 3 June 1857.17 In the sepoylines. "Youare serpents.). printedwithNarrative of theEventsin theNWP in 1857-58(Calcutta.15 In the bazaara sergeant'swife was told by a sepoy out of regimental dress.d. J. "Review of the Evidence Takenat Cawnpore Regarding the Revoltat thatStation in Juneand July 1857"(hereafter "Reviewof the Evidence"). in Na7rative. . the fall of Delhi a few days later."Reviewof the Evidence". as well as at everyotherstationit reached. SeealsoG. 16 Therewas a generalsenseof alarmandexpectancy in the city. Kanpur). and not one of you shall be spared''. in whichtherealsoseemedto be moresepoysandvillagers thanusual. (London. History of the IndianMutiny. Shepherd. As one officerput it: the intelligence receivedof the mutinyof the troopsat Meerutappears to havelit the flameat Cawnpore. in Narrative.). On the4th June.panchayats (ageneral assembly where things of importanceare discussedand decided collectively)were held everynight. 9 Depositionof Ewuz Khan in Depositions at Cawnpore. . pp. Kaye describedas the "wonted fashion":firing of guns and extensive 13 Deposition of Sheo Churrun Das. and sometimesat the houseof TeekaRamSingh.l9 The mutinybeganon the night of 4 June 1857in whatJ. W.therepetition ofthe sameat Delhithe seizureof thatCitywith the proclamation of a rebelking. 16 Mowbray Thomson. . A Personal Narratise of theOutbreak andMassacre at Cawnpore dunngtheSepoyRe?wolt of 1857 (Lucknow.1879).18 A loyal sepoymadethe followingstatement after the revolt: The foremost in this consultation [heldon 4 June]wereShumsh-ood-deen will not be alive another weeks. 299-300. 14 Williams.d.p. Ball. W. C'You will none of you come here much oftener.2 vols.a subadar of the cavalrr. sectionon Kanpur (hereafterNarrative.TheStoty of Caumpore (London. Sheikh Boolagee.1859). Williams (hereafter Depositions at Cawnpore).One sepoy told an employeeat the commissariat. SirdarBeg Raw Singh and others . all the trooperssent awaytheirfamiliesand property to the city. .14 Troops in Kanpurvery soon began to show their hostility to the British. n. printedas "Translation of a Narrative of Eventsat Cawnpore". 15 W. i. 17 Nanak Chand'sdiary of events in Kanpur(hereafter Nanak Chand'sdiary). 11. Kanpur.96 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 The firstnews of disaffection amongthe sepoysof the BengalArmy reachedKanpursome time in April 1857. Sadhoof Cawnpoor. 18 C. encouraged and strengthened the handsof the disaffected amongstthe nativetroops and otherclassesin the stationand neighbourhood. Williams.13 In May the news of the outbreak in Meerutand) followingthat.

andMassacre ofthe Outbreak Narrative Personal Shepherd.repr.or DhondoPant. at Cawnpore. but also of all Europeans. was the eldest. Surrounded all sides by rebels who fired on them night and day.Sir HughWheeler. Insteadhe chose a spot nearerthe sepoy lines. distancefrom Kanpur. afterBaiiRao'sdeathin 1851he wasin his thirties.Caumpore tion is available are to the reprint. In his will BajiRao made WhenNanaSahibinherited NanaSahibthe sole heirto his property. to began he site This outhouses. S.references 20 21 . which was his real name. surroundedby a strong wall. 9. had atMeerut. becausehe did not wantto be too distantfromthe sepoy principally lines. p.20 a little of Delhi.He decided. troops and their families. for example. Nana Sahibwas the adoptedson of the last (prime minister). Sen. stoppingfor the night at a placecalledKalyanpur. the wrote. a favouriteof the sepoys and commander convincedof the loyaltyof his troops.however. Thomson. the British withstoodthe siege.refusedto recognizehis right to Company's the pension that BaXiRao had received. O. with an annualpension of ?80. around with verandahs barracks wheretherewere two single-storied to foriify not to use the magazineadjacentto the river and which. N. Baji Rao II. "For thirty years". was thereforethe best suited as a defensiveposition.He adoptedthreesons.the formerpeshwa fromKanpur. Massacre (firstpubd. In who had surrendered confederacy. in G. 22 See.decidednone the less to take not only for the safetyof the British He was responsible precautions. the leader of the Maratha peshwa to the Englishin June 1818.21 on spot where the Britishwould remainuntil 27 June. Trevelyan.OF 1857 KANPUR MASSACRES 97 Then the sepoyssped in the direction burningof Britishproperty. with stock and artillery with whichcameto into the entrenchment.Nana Sahib. Mutiny. accounts The best contemporary reconstrucA nineteenth-century StotyofCawnpore.Great and of theOutbreak Narrative Personal areShepherd.Histotyof theSepoyWar.000 from the East India retirement lived in Bithur. 1857(Delhi. 307.The the property government.22 the rebelsturnedback. been makingpreparations of the KanpurDivision.ii. city he orderedall Europeans This would be the be inhabitedby some nine hundredpersons. themandseveral in the spread the alarm As provisions.the Britishin Kanpur Sincethe timeof the outbreak to protectthemselves. Brentwood. "the Peishwareceivedan annual stipend governor-general Kaye. at Cawnpore. 1957). 19. Their sufferingand heroismare the stock-intradeof most popularaccountsof the Mutiny. 1865.Hibbert.a little distanceaway Company. 1986). p. havingfirstmet up with FromKalyanpur Nana Sahiband his men.

boats furnishedwith flour to be readyat the ghaut[embankment]".The governor-general's letteris quotedon p. London (hereafter I. Azimullah.NanaSahibandtheRisingat Cawnpore (Oxford.were"honourable surrender of our shattered barracks and free exit underarms.1963).Stozyof Cawnpore. according to Mowbray Thomson. . an Indianlady". entertaining them quite lavishlyin his palacein Bithur.27As the Britishbeganto boardthe boats.madeaftercomparing different accounts. Nana Sahibhad. p.O. 20.with sixtyroundsof ammunition perman. guns openedfire 23 The best account of Nana Sahibis in P. 1765-1857 (Salisbury. 251. 1987).24 The circumstances that led to Nana Sahib's joining the rebels will be discussedbelow.pp.wheretheboats werekept. Negotiationsbegan. 38.shallreceivea safe passageto Allahabad". terms of surrender were agreedupon and the treatysignedby Nana Sahib. The Nana Sahibappealedto the court of directorsand even sent his agent. the women and children. Sherer. Yethe continued to remain friendly with the British. 318-19n. P^persof General Sir Mowbray Thomson.L.carriages to be provided fortheconveyance of thewounded.25 It was not signed.PhotoEur 137. 24 J. in fact. 74. Kanpur. Gupta. According to one estimate. Jacobi. p. 2S India Office Libraryand Records.). put himself'4infrequentcommunication with the Magistrate . . She carrieda letterwhich statedthat "All those who are in no way connectedwith the acts of Lord Dalhousie.R.23 His relationship with themwas so closethathe wasinvited by the magistrate of Kanpurto guardthe treasury. Zoe Yolland suggestsin Traders andNabobs: TheBritish in Cawnpore. 26 Thomson.The conditions of surrender. Personal Narrative of theOutbreak andMassacre at Cawnpore. 153. On 25 June the British pickets saw a woman approaching the entrenchments. His effortswerein vain.26 On the morningof 27 Junethe British left the entrenchments to proceedto Satichaura Ghat. Sufficeto say at this point of the narraiive thatthe rebelsreturnedto Kanpurand the Nana informedGeneral Wheeler on 7 June of his intentionto attackthe Britishentrenchment. 27 Shepherd. but the handwritingwas recognizedas Azimullah's."SomeAccounts of the Mutinyand Subsequent Eventsat Cawnpore". thatthetrustreposed in Nana Sahibby the Britishwas a consequence of the familyties betweenhim and GeneralWheeler's"unofficial wife. The identityof the womanis somewhat of a mystery: eyewitnessesidentify her as eitherMrs.four hundredand fifty personscameout of the entrenchments. C. The siege had begun. Greenway or Londonto plead his case. and are willing to lay down theirarms. and proffered offersof assistance in caseof an outbreak". W.98 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 . Those who remainhaveno claimwhatever on the consideration of the BritishGovernment". .

In Kanpur. 4. . The "peasantin uniform"-as the sepoy with arms. uniform". All but one hundredand thirtywere in most to direct otherstationsof northIndia. Selections). of the rebels'fury.British-ownedbungalows buildingsunlikeanykindof Indianresidence wereobjects as the mutiniescommenced.the court. 30 NanakChand's in greatdepthin Guha. W.OF 1857 KANPUR MASSACRES 99 from both banks and the thatchedawningsof the boats were set twentyof alight. 5 June.esp. Forrest. theydid not dressin uniform".30 Once this happenedit became the rebelandthe mutineer.Selections Kanpur. was disownedhis uniformonly to becomethe peasant In eschewingthe regimentaldisciplinethat the Britishofficershad Theymerged character. No. All those buildingsthat represented rule were burnt or demolished. ii. Nanak Chand.the jailand the record the telegraph the presenceof British rooms. werethe government aciionthe firsttargetsof destruction wires. Mutiny"(hereafter of the Evidenceof the Cawnpore 28 "Synopsis and Despatches fromtheLetters. This merger is significantsince it signals the extension of the mutiniesto a generaluprising. 31 May. ofIndia. 156-8. 4 vols.Of coursethe one marker jettisonwas their arms. successresultingin the disappearance of Kanpur'sneighbouring allowedthe inhabitants This breakdown villages.when the sepoystookrecourse buildings. 3.ElementwyAspects is analysed andcollectivity 31 Insurgency of PeasantInssrgeng.The mutiniesstruckwith remarkable of Britishrule in northIndia. 1857.1893-1912). introduction.28As threesepoys regimental giving evidence to the Britishsaid. some of whom had been armingthemselvesprior to the mutiny. Similarly. ch. the post office. see also G. More significantly. to distinguish andimpossible meaningless enterprise.31 hadbecomea collective trueto its character. "the men [sepoys]did as they In the momentof mutiny liked. theirpeasant drilledintothemtheyreclaimed with the ordinarypeople.29 withwhichan alienpowerhadsought the sepoyscastoff the markers from to regimentthem and thus set them apartfrom the peasantry theywouldnot whichthey wererecruited. To appreciatethe nature of this massacresome featuresof the outbreakin Kanpurhave to be highlighted. Insurgency. a loyalistwho kept a diaryof the events in Kanpur in "Synopsis").18S7of theGovernment Department in theMilitary Papers Preserved otherState pp. 58 (hereafter of GobindSingh.tore off the of their themselves the sepoys "divest[ed] coloursand brokeout fromtheirlines. (Calcutta. to pour into the city. Narrative. SheikhElaheeBukshand GhouseMohomed. the rest were 29 Depositions at Caumpere Depositions diary:29. the survivorsmanagedto escape.passim.

albeit unconsciously. werethe firsttarget.when he wrote on 6 June. After this the destructionextendedto the wealthyand propertied in Kanpur. An emeute within the army had acquiredthe characterof an insurgency almostas soon as it occurred. It is impossibleto recordthe namesof all at such a time".also testifiedthat "Thousands of the lowerclassesfrom the city. pp.In confrontingthe Nanak Chand's diary: 6.37 Respectability.32 Sheernumbersled the diaristto despair. were the chief targets. earnedtheirprofitsby collaborating with the British were simultaneously attackedby the subordinated. 6 lune 1857.needlessto Depositions at Cawnpore.businessmen. set out to destroy.Twooverlapping structures of domination overlapping becausemost tradersand money-lenders in nineteenth-century India.This is clear from Nanak Chand'sfrequentuse of words like "bad characters". Elementa7y Aspects ofPeasant Insurgeng. "It would be impossible to mentionthe names of all evil-mindedmen who joinedthe standard".the facelessness of the thousands involved. there are also clear references to villagers andartisans.35 LalaBadriNath. by the ownershipof wealthand property. 8 June1857.33 Suchdiscrimination and selectivity in destruction has been singled out as one of the generalfeaturesof peasantinsurgencyin colonial India. 32 33 34 35 36 37 .but not indiscriminately.but for historians the anonymity. 6 well as the British. budmashes. Nanak Chand's diary: 7 June1857. was definedin the eyes of NanakChand. And againwe readin the entryfor 8 June. Ibid.members of the lowerordersof society. Deposition of Lala Badri Nath.seizedby a rebelconsciousness. Guha.By "Jehad" he is referring to theraising of the green flag.and all thatthey ownedor represented. cantonments and villageswent aboutwith them sharingin their excesses". the commissariat contractor in Kanpur. Nanak Chand's diary: 5.The indicative of the collectivenatureof the project.100 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 andscrupulously recorded nameswhenever he could)pointedto this.The menof property sawthe rebellionas the workof the subaltern classes andthe latter madeit theirownby theirveryactions.:5. who were the rebels' targets. 20 ff. The British. and "low-castemen".34The destruciionin Kanpurwas carriedout by ordinary people.especiallymoney-lenders.36 The uprisingin Kanpurbore the imprintof the subaltern classes:NanakChandwasemphatic aboutthisby declaring "not one of the respectablecitizens joined the Jehad". "Thereis a great crowd.

-June 1913). (July-Dec. London(hereafter Brit. with greatdiscernment. The samenarrative with minoradditionsand alterations is reprinted as AmeliaBennett[nee Horne?]. threatening in the bargain to spit on his face".KANPUR MASSACRESOF 1857 101 structuresof dominationdirectlythe rebels definedtheir task as a projectof power. "Is not this a fine paradeandis it not well dressed up?''.Papersrelating to the IndianMutiny. 355.and when an officerobjectedto such behaviour"they abusedhim in so gross a mannerthat it made the earsof all tingle. Add.Therewasno Amelia Bennett in theKanpur entrenchment so thisis in all probability thenarrative of Amelia Horne. these Christian captivesmust have had some glimmering recollection of their biblicalstudies.41The Britishwere certainlynot used to being tauntedor insulted. ColonelEwart.Britishofficers. 40 Kaye. she said. in The Nineteenth Century (Jan.39The women who were taken as prisoners fromthe site of the massacre wereoftentakenout to grind corn..81- 4. Amy Haine's[AmeliaHorne?]Narrative. 1212-34. pp. and remembered how in the East the grindingof cornwas ever regarded as a symbolof subjection. p. It was not just direct aciion that informedthe project.38 AmeliaHorne recordedthe "rude and rough"behaviourof the rebelswhen they entered the entrenchments on the morning of 27 June. Personal Narrative oftheOutbreak and Massacre atCawnpore. Other featuresof insurgency.40 An act carriedout every day by a peasantwoman in India would indeed be the utmost humiliation when imposedupon a womanof the masterrace. 38 Shepherd. Shepherdrecalled that while in captivityhe had been continouslyinsulted and that the rebels would not utter a word withoutan "abusiveepithet"to describethe British.i. wrote Amelia Horne.pp. that the codes of behaviourcould be so grosslyviolated.beforebeing killed. ii. MS. undermining the presiigeof the dominatorsthroughverbal and other kinds of insult.observesthat: An educatedEnglishgentlewoman needednot even a week'sresidence in Indiato teachher the meaningof this.pp. was tauntedby the formersepoys of his regimentas the Britishwalkedout of the entrenchment with the words. 39 British Lib. in his magisterial narrative of the "SepoyWar". it frightened "us to death". "TenMonth'sCaptivity afterthe Massacre at Cawnpore".Histoty of theSepoy War. were severelybeaten. who escapedthe massacre.It was only in the circumstances of rebellion.they expecteddeferenceand obedience. Lib. 41 ''synopsis>s- . ibid. As they sat thereon the ground. 41488.).1913). 78-91.whenthe established relationship of dominationand subordination had been broken.The Britishwere not accustomed to such behaviour. accompanied the outbreak.

According to one version. an influentialpersonin the town and a knownfriendof the British. to ask a Nawab to ride a mule and that belongingto a servant . pp. Depositions at Cawnpore.and such people were pressed into the rebellion. "Pressing" a-s an instrument of solidarity is discussed in Guha. ii.L. he decidedto join and advisethem.Numbersprovidedthe moralprestigeof solidarity: collectivityafforded a sanctioll forthoselesswillingto join. The elites of Kanpur. introduction. People came "to see the fun" of the dominatorsbeing attackedand humiliated."Whathave I to do with the British?I am altogetheryours". 195724. 46 NanakChand's diary:8 June 1857. And in a royal gesturehe placedhis handson their headsand sworeto join them. a deputationfrom the rebels met and told him. 43 Ibid.102 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 It wasnot the Britishalonewho hadsuchindignities inflicted upon them.O.The Nana readilyreplied. no. NanakChand'sdiary:7 June 1857. 44 4S . a kingdomawaitsyou if you join our cause but deathif you side with our enemies". "Maharaj.was to destroyhis positionin society.they still had to dealwith Nana Sahib.the joy of havingachievedthe impossible. The otherversionstatesthatwhen the Nana saw the entiresoldiery had completely thrown off their allegianceto the Company. were similarlyinsulted.R.44 The rebelsused their presencein largenumbersto win over the vacillatorand draw the onlooker into the folds of the rebellion.Havingrevolted and destroyed.ElntawyAspects of PeasantInsurgeng. the rebels "heapedabuseson me" and "threatened to haveme tied to a tree"..46 the rebels held nautcheswith buffoons. Board's Collection.47 There was a sense of liberation. 47 Deposition of John Fitchett.The Nuneh Nawab was also "led throughthe streetsin ignominiousshow". What these featuresmake obvious is that the initiativefor the uprisingin Kanpurcamefromthe ordinary people.48 42 I.43 As the rebellion gathered momentumthe ranks of the rebels swelled.translation of the diaryof the Nuneh Nawab.who were knownto be friendsof the British. The Nuneh Nawab. Selections.pp. 48 See Forrest.Therearetwo versionsof the meeiingbetweenthe rebelsandthe Nana. or Mahomed Ali Khan.45 The collective natureof the enterprise possiblycontributed to it beingseenas "fun": therewas feasiingandsharbat (sherbet)was distributed.hadhis horsetakenawayfromhim and"instead of which I got a mere 'Tuttoo' [mare/mule]belongingto a servantof my brother"42 In a societywherethe typeof carriage invariably indicated status. 158-9.

129.he consideredit prudentto throwin his lot with the insurgents. in differentregions.Mukherjee. 1986). however. At thatmoment. the Nana could only havecourteddeathanddestruciion by opposingthe rebels. Time and time again.Society. 256-7.Yet.p. Datta.R. 1857. the absenceof choicewas direct:the rebelsmadeit clearthatdeathwas the alternaiive.. in Jagdishpur. in situations of popularinsurgency. HomeMiscellaneous. In othercountriestoo.Sucha situation was not at all unique in 1857. Havinghis own grievances againstthe British.for Awadh.wantedto indicatewhen. In the one version. But both the accountsconvey one importantaspect. 1957). so See Sen. in Bihar.the rani becamea rebel leaderbecauseall aroundher therewere rebels coercing her to join.the lackof choicewas not so direct. The Nana did not have very much of a M.Nana Sahibhad no alternative but to join the rebels.pp.O.he said that afterthe mutiny "the threeRegimentsof Infantry and 2nd LightCavalry surrounded us andimprisoned theNanaandmyselfu'. M. the actionsof landedmagnates and the gentryhavebeen constrained by popular pressure: see. K.49 Thereis no evidencewhatsoever of eitherNanaSahibor TaniiaTopi ever being held prisoner.the eighty-year-old KunwarSingh had the mantleof rebel leaderthrustupon him.1536". in Jhansi.L. .The statementcan then only be readas a testimonyof helplessnessin the face of popularinsurgency pressing Nana Sahibinto the rebellion.deposedrulers and dispossessedlanded magnateswere forcedto rebel becauseof the mountingpressurearoundthem. no. surrounded by an insurgentpopulation eagerto embarkon a career of destruction. Awadhin Revolt. Perhapsthis was what TantiaTopi."Obedience andDissentin Henrician England: The Lincolnshire Rebellion. The old and retiredMughal emperor was forcedto acceptthe nominalleadership of the rebellion by the sepoysfromMeerutand the populaceof Delhi. for example.Biography ofKunwar SinghandAmarSingh(Patna. 727A. 278. in his confessionto the British.pp. and in Awadhthe big landedmagnates joinedor stayedwiththe rebellion becauseof the militancyof theirpeasantry. James.see K.50 It would. James. 168. In short he was a prisonerof the circumstances. a very close associateof Nana Sahib. In the other.PoliticsandCulture: Studies in EarlyModenz England (Cambridge.KANPUR MASSACRES OF 1857 103 In a case like this there is no way of establishingthroughthe historian'sstandard methodsof cross-checking which is the correct version.with Britishpowervirtually non-existent and an entirepopulaceup in an over-simplification to suggest that princesand magnatesjoined the rebellion only because they were forced to by pressurefrom 49 I.for Kunwar Singh.translationofTantiaTopi's confession and orders.

F. to a leader. long.The rebellionwanted rebels' they now wanted nameof a publicauthority. Knox (Oxford. 51G. topsy-turvy turned Delhi to the in order: of the previous to the representatives affiliation in Jhansito Qadr.5.a king. And that reconstitution to was not India and in the contextof the rebelconsciousness century consciousness Therebel alas. andAntiStructure Structure Process: S2 VictorTurner.Yet the actualization fleeting that from transition onceto some sort of order". The uprisingoffereda unique together. that momentof liberation.TheRitual 132.Havingdestroyed. from is quotation ch.immediate a la VictorTurner.The . grotesque:hostile. power. raniandin Kanpurto the headof the Maratha the the heir to the peshwa.There is a The determinacy''. a of positing to the old orderwas the harking-back structures the when put it anotherway. away taken had latter The towardsthe British. in nineteenththe reconstitutethe world.when therehad been a for of humanidentities".in Awadhto the boy-kingBirjis Mughal Nana confederacy. p. of wasseizedby the "fanaticism rebelconsciousness the that consciousness"possessthe feelingof could onlyby destroying "leadsat of thatdestruction itselfas existents'.could not be sustained totalconfrontation old to of structures. The familiarworld of the alien the "natural" Hence andtheywantedit restored.51 a of momentof destructionto the "positing to Or content. (Cornell. akinto communitas. M. something as seen were western practices and people had been and inhuman. Sahib. appealing by actions its soughtto legitimize thus Mughal the declining harkedbackedto an olderpoliticalsystem It principalitregional century. Hegel. less and idyllic ies not becauseit was administration of British Britishconquestandtheimposition familiar. passim.why the rebelsneeded The significant in answerlies the Nana Sahib or the Mughal emperor. trans. antagonistic conjuncture prestigeandland.1967). W.1977).52 104 AND PRESENT PAST 128 NUMBER the mergingof the sepoy The precedinganalysishas emphasized of Right. hadseemedto passinto something of domination and "direct.andthe various of the eighteenth empire it was butbecause oppressive. of negation Hegelthatin theinitialmoment Onecouldsayfollowing destruction". come could insurgency and popular elite disaffection when a man questionis.The like to affirmitself in quest for legitimacy.forbeing Manyof the olderrulingclasshadtheirown reasons their below. emperor. ThePhilosophy para.outsidetheworldof hierarchy. 4. possible.T. and there was a return to the domain hierarchies. of course.

p. but only identifiesthem empiricallyas the so-calledSigttOtZi. as it were. S4 Guha.KANPUR MASSACRES OF 1857 105 elementinto the commonpeopleand the strengthof popularinsurgency in the makingof the rebellionin Kanpur.Thiswasa riteof passage throughwhich the peasantbecameinitiatedinto the mysteries of the state: he graduatedfrom the knowledgeof mere officialdomto a knowledgeof the stateas the authenticobjectof hatred. and trans. Containedin the concept of signorethereis much of the old dislikeof countryfor town. 53 Cf.a duplexcharacter. . had made them realizethe importance of leadership. It enabled them. hates the civil servant. however.Selectses from the PrisonNotebooks. . Their returnto the ruralcommunity as an armedpeasantry was thus informed by a new consciousness. werechosento lead and give the uprisinga legitimacy.especiallythe many battles they had fought on behalf of the British state in the prohibition of writingin English. 272. broughtthe worldbackto the village.thatis those thathad previously established claimsto leadership. they were the only sectionwhich hadbeenproximate to statepower. . . Thereis also dislikeof officialdom the only formin which the Stateis perceived.54 but in 1857dethronedkings or dispossessed princes.As sonsof the peasantry theyhad left the village.An olderandlegitimate politicalorder had lost to the British in the late eighteenthand early nineteenth centuries. AntonioGramsci "the 'people'is awarethat it has enemies. QuintinHoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith(New York. to identifythe state as the enemy.Withinthe domainof popular insurgency of which they were a definitepart.Elementary Aspects of PeasantInsurgeng. 112-15. he does not hate the Statefor he does not understand it": Antonio Gramsci.pp. 1971). the same exposureand the revival .Their proximity to statepowerhad.53 One sees the hatredwrit large in the selectionof the rebels' targets. seen the world and now duringthe revolthad.despitetheirpeasantorigins. ed.The harking-back to traditional leadership could be the productof that consciousness.It is significant that peasantsin revolt usually sought legitimacyin colonial India by appointing somebody from among themselves a leader or a king. The desireto reinstatethe old orderwas evidentin the establishment of courts of law where justice was meted out accordingto "nativeideas".Yet at this pointin the discussionthe specificcontribuiion of the sepoyelementprobably needs to be re-introduced. On the otherhand. werein a uniqueposition. The peasant. on the one hand. The sepoys.disciplineand structuresof commandin the conductof was as if the sepoys in their quest for leadershipand commandwere revivingthat orderand fightinga war on its behalf anc ln ltS name.

no.L. who was madea generaland put in charge of operations.The leaders. 195724. Kanpur.R.or again"all the commanding officersare requestedto give strict order to their men . of the popularand that represented by a feudal leaderlike Nana Sahib and his men."Review of the Evidence". for the restoration of formerofEcialsand ordinary rebelcouldevenbreachthe codes of deferenceto a leader. .-Col Williams.Azimullah represented the position: 55 The setting up of courtsis described in Alilliams. Board's Collection. despiteNana Sahib's disapproval. In the council of war the sepoys were stronglyrepresented: in fact it was Teeka Singh. see Nanak Chand'sdiary. see Lt.106 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 of old offices.passim. also Rizvi and Bhargava (eds.58 Pushedto an extreme."Synopsis". 669. Personal Narrative of theOutbreak andMassacre at Cawnpore. Thus we readin TaniiaTopi's "order book" instructions such as "Anyonewho takeswood etc.55 This is not to say that the sepoys and the ordinarypeople had completelysurrendered theirinitiaiiveto the Nana and his men. he was referredto Nana. . 59 I. 57 I. who first went to Baba Bhut and menacingto kill him in case of noncompliancewith his request.59 There is a deliberate comingtogetherhere of the two domains. coloneland so on. "Memorandum". . 727A.57 Again the Nuneh Nawab recordedthat: One of the sepoys who had been in the entrenchment [with the British] andwasseizedandconfined on 27 Junehada son in the2nd LightCavalry.translation of the diaryof the Nuneh Nawab. in theirturn. in Narrative. soughtto keep them happy. p. p. makingevidenttheirdesireto havea hierarchy of command.. the reappointment of formerofficials. recognizing the strengthandimportance of the people.Nana immediately liberatedhis fatherand his comrades. and in the restoraiion of old courtrituals. speak threateningly to him and have him overlook sucha serious"crime" as loyaltyto the Briiish. a formersepoy. 41. the prohibition of Engtishin Shepherd. the rebelshumiliated the wealthycollaborators. in the setting up of a councilof war. 58 Ibid. It leads to the formaiionof a united front againsta commonenemywhose completeannihilation alone can lead to a stablereconstitution of the old order. 56 "Synopsis"..). iv. HomeMiscellaneous.translation ofTantiaTopi'sconfession and orders.L.R.O.O. Freedorn Stggle. from the Godownor fromthe housesof the poor.For the councilof war.Other sepoys took the ranks of major.56 There were also instanceswhen. that if they are found extoriing money from the poor villagers or plunderingthem they will be severelypunished".shouldbe punishedby order of a Court". to whom he went and repeatedhis requestin the same threatening manner.

who had left the entrenchment disguisedas a naiive and had been apprehended.L. Nana Sahibcould thus informGeneralWheelerin the entrenchment that the attackwas going to commence.. It was now public and open.KANPUR MASSACRES OF 1857 107 Whatfools. Papersof General SirMowbray Thomson.62 From the extantevidenceit seems that the massacre on the river was a stratagem in the conductof the war. and decidedthat the best way to defeatthe Britishwas to get themout of the entrenchment withthe promise of a safepassage down the riverand then kill them. p. It is significant that this council 60Shepherd. p.and if. Personal Natrattseof theOutbreak andMassacre at Cammpore.Photo Eur137. The idea of luring the British out of the entrenchment and then killing them en masse was probablysuggestedby a statementmade by W. fromthe tormentthat they sufferedwithinthe entrenchment. We are strongand numerousto keep our own.needlessto add. An insurrection.let not the nameof a Christian be evernamedin Hindoostan. so quietlyto surrender our countryto a handfulof tyrannical foreigners. J.O.60 There is a statementhere of unity. by its acceptance of a leadershipand by seeking its identity with a politicalorder.63 Shepherd. A full councilmet.R.thenwe naiiveshavemadeof its collectivenature. Personal Natrative of theOutbreak andMassaere at Caumpore.I repliedthat I could not exactlytell. in the event of an offer being made to that effect.from the face of all India.6tA mutinyleadingto a collectiveattackon the dominators hadnow been transformed into an entire society'swar againsta commonenemy. . 61 ''synopsis9- 62"The next day June 7th Gen.the enemyis clearlyidentifiedand annihilation clearlyproclaimed as the purpose. strengthand confidence. had acquiredlegitimacyfor itself. who aretryingin many ways to deprive us of our religion and our privileges!It behoves us.Ishtahars (proclamations) were issuedin both Urdu and in Devnagiricalling upon "all Hindoos and Mahomedans to unite in defence of their religion and presentthemselvesfor service". a man. Shepherd. Let not a soul escape. he was tryingto free his countrymen. therefore and I call upon you all to join heartand hand to extirpate our enemies. It was plannedin advance. 69. havingthe appearance of one in authorityn cameto me and asked if I could tell whetherthe officersand Europeans were aous to leave the station. and for their sakesno doubt such an offerwould be acceptedif madein a satisfactory manner. 42. To quote Shepherd. Wheelerreceiveda note statingthat the Nana intendedto attackhim":I.root and branch. it would be accepted. hadno ideaof whatthis statement would lead to. 63 Shepherd. includinghis family. but that the femaleswere certainlyanxiousto get awayby any means.

ibid. which brokeout instantlyin a blaze.. At the risk of being gory and prolixI quote fromthreeof these.L. but also by MaulaviLiakatAli. At thattimeI arrifired at the houseandheardthatto murder the Europeans havinggot them out of the entrenchment was lawful and proper.67 The public and open characterof the massacreon the river is testifiedby all the eyewitnessaccountsthatthereareof the event.PhotoEur 137. his men like Azimullahand rebelslike Teeka Singh. Depositionof KhudaBux. no.65 The massacrecould thus take on the natureof an execution.O.who escapedon one of the two boats that got away. "Indeed. was concerting measures at his own housefor theirdeath. threeor fourelephants. andthree palkeeswere broughtinto the entrenchments . .as therewasan enormous crowdof Soldiers as well as peopleof the Town lookingon": I. The decisionto slaughterin this manneralso seemedto have the sanctionof the qazi (judge):a witnessreported Two daysbeforethe boatsforthe Europeans weregotready.Everyone whocouldwasobligedto jumpoverboard.for the instantafterwards four guns openedon the forty boatswhich had [been]providedfor us and about 10.a partyof his Regiment.000muskets. The General and some 64 ''SynOpSiS''- Depositionof Hulas Singh. Papers of GeneralSir Mowbray Thomson.L.She stoodin the waterwith the blood-bathall aroundher and succeededin "secreiing" herself to a Muslimcemetery. 65 66 ..66 And in the mannerof executioners some of the rebels told a group of Englishmen. 67 Deposition of JohnFitchett. 68 I. Here is the massacre as seen by Mowbray Thomson.R.The Cavalry menwere firstto fireonus and theirfiringappeared to be the signalforthe massacre to commence.108 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 was attendednot only by Nana Sahib. havingpreviously set fire into the thatchedcoveringof the boats.The wounded andhelplesswho couldnot.the 2nd cavalry) escortedhim downand insistedon his taking all thatbelongedto him on boardthe boatsbut when they saw him fairly embarked and us tryingto get our boatsawayfromthe bank.of an open and public was difficultto get there. Board's Depositions at Cawnpore. for exampleGangaSinghin his narrative said. they made signalto the boatmenwho immediately left us.68 ElizaBradshaw hadan incredible escape. Emphasis added. in Depositsnsat Cawnpore.O.64A Hindu princeand a maulavi (muslimreligiousteacher) sanctioned the massacre. 195718. All eyewitnesses confirmthat therewas a big crowdat the ghat. somehackeries.It was a spectaclewatchedby some ten to twelvethousandpeople. and down-river swam to the shore and was rescuedby a landedmagnate: MajorVibartand his familywere the last to go on theevening theKazi[Wasiuddin] withtwosirdars of thecavalry regiment whosenames I don't know.She thus lived to describethe scene: At sunriseon the 27th. perished in the flames. .R."now repentof all your misdeedsand ask pardonof God".

.109 . we saw into fell she and struckher in the headwith a club. the to down tostandaside. in Depositions Depositionof ElizaBradshaw. side of the riverandweremercilessly alive . Lib. waded to the a volley of bulletsassailedus.Whenwe got to the dry nullah[watercourse] into we heard Suddenly .. and none to come our leadingto the river. and us between was boat the sidesof the river.Instead and they all leapedinto the waterand a signalwas given from the shorefirst secretedburningcharcoalin the having after bank. for a sowar him see not take out a book.We jumpedout. . we did the clergyman on the neck.and the other. the sepoys otherto greateracts of brutality!70 at Cawnpore. Colonel theywere that out shouted ahead. . Papersrelatingto the IndianMutiny. .and the sick and wrapped shore. flooring bamboo no had boat. . turned He " kindto sepoys. Immediately boats. . crowd large a saw we William'shouse.we found that it on both of bullets. monkey their in chatter apes.who was takenawayfromthe site of Amelia later: years many sepoy as his "prize". . edly like so many devilsgrinned black The hands. city descended then we ghat. In a few which grape followedby a hail of shot and Severalof the boats were seen to be minutes pandemoniumreigned. youngest Colonel's the saw boatwe thewater. . off by the bullets of the sepoys bankwhich opposite the from .. recalled a and the violence. Wheelerwas officers the aboutthe centrewith ladieswere on the it were. lay like dense clouds and musketsand the fire from the laughedand cheered. .She said. were the sowarswho and villagers. wasalways father the water. . .Some in theyundoubtso like who werelookingon andexulting tauntingand jeeringat us for condition. thatchof most of the struckthe boats .incitingeach over and aroundus . . . .69 OF 1857 MASSACRES KANPUR by the massacre Horne. .. The There was no attemptto concealthe hatred placedto preventescape.Mrs. "My A sepoywas going to kill her with daughter. and grapeand musketrywere poured to intercept there placed been soon became alive with rebels who had boatsto thefurther their pushing in succeeded few A shore.a few pacesoff. i. andjustthena villager away. A sepoykilled a missionary killedthe Padre. their into havingat lastfallen language. read it. .butwerepicked andtriedto swimto the opposite overboard jumped theirvile work continued guns the . to that refugees wadedinto The cavalry slaughtered. . Amy Haines'sNarrative. their and drummers with the white railingsnear left . . woundedwereburntto death. . a child with his bayonet. distressing our over were.and the pattering In shore.The two gunsand troopswere strategically 69 70 theshorewaslinedwithspectators to embark Whilewe wereendeavouring manydemons. and then the roarof cannon firing. still were who those down cut the riverwith drawnswordsand the smokefromthe firingof the cannon The waterwas redwith bloodand burningboats. We were The and sepoyswere on our right sowars The families. keepingup an incessant took abouttwo hoursto accomplish Afterall had embarked which orders these obeying crew the of the wordwas given to proceed. and threwit into the water.who was child by the leg young a took sepoy another . When we reachedthe bridge and men fromthe assembled. by the next his bayonet. Brit. . he then blow a with down him cut and water rodeinto the . in a palkee[palanquin] wereon elephants. . .

one witness reported. and that they shouldas usualbe obedient to theauthorities ofthe Government. The rebelstook up theirpositionsat nightandordersweregivento the neighbouring zamindars (land-holders) andvillagersto be presentat the ghat. Lochun. p.74 In the surrounding villagestoo there was a certainatmosphere. Quoted in Trevelyan.JwalaPrasad(an associate of NanaSahibwho hadbeengiven the rankof brigadier).And they were present. all of whom sat on a speciallybuilt platform.The city was illuminatedfor the victory. Personal Narrative of theOutbreak atulMassacre at Cawnpore. The massacrewas a collective affair:an expressionof an entiresociety'shatredand rejection of an alien order. The rebels on horseback went into the waterto slashthe survivors on very definite ordersfrom TantiaTopi."The Englishwere entirelyin their power".76 Deposition of Peer Bux.The boatmen setfireto the thatched awnings ata signal.C'The daring speechesof the villagersfrightened me out of my wits". . thatall the Government servantsshould promptlyand cheerfullyengage their whole mind in executingthe ordersof the Government. for.7l Things were so arrangedas to overpowerthe British:accordingto Shepherd. It was a spectacleof rebel power. NanakChandrecorded. 73 These details are stated in the depositions of Goordial.a cavalrytroopercalledNukkee. in Depositions at Caumpore. Nundeedeen Aheer. and Tantia Topi. thatit is the incumbent duty of all the peasantsand landedproprietors of every districtto rejoiceat the thoughtthat the Christians have been sent to hell. 71 72 74 ''SynopsisX75 76 Nanak Chand's diary: 27 June 1857. and battle axes''.eitherdirectlyor as a partof a crowd that watchedand exulted.110 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 boatsthatdid get awaywere chasedand shot down. Jagganath and Peer Bux. and the guns opened fire at the sound of a bugle. Cawnpore. p. Shepherd. in Depositions at Cawnpore.Nana Sahibtookhis seaton a throneand the sacredmarkwas put on his forehead. and Cawnpore has been conquered. 73. "armed".72 The massacrewas also executedin keepingwith a very definiteplan. Gun saluteswere firedto markthe occasion. The operations were supervised by Teeka Singh. 141. The massacrecould thus be celebratedas a great victory. it is necessary that all the subjectsand landownersshould be as obedient to the present Government as they havebeen to the formerone. and both the Hindoo and Mahomedan religionshave been confirmed. andneversuffer any complaint againstthemselves to reachto the earsof the higherauthority.75 A proclamationannounced the victoryandthe establishment of a new power: As by the bounty of the gloriousAlmightyand the enemy-destroying fortuneof the Emperor the yellow-faced and narrow-minded peoplehave been sent to hell."with swords.73 Everybody presentwas implicated in the violence.

78 Even boys who had playfullyflauntedrebelcoloursand beatena tom-tomwere killed.All the villagesin his frontwere burned". and he met an officer who was a partof the columnthatmovedup fromAllahabad towards Kanpur.Hereis Kaye. as well as thoseguiltyof rebellion.TheOther Sideof theMedal(NewYork.IndianMutiny Diary. All sepoys of mutinousregimentsnot giving a good account of themselves wereto be hanged. and the Pathanquarters destroyed. . 77 Kaye. 281-2. His methodswere simple. 78 Russell. 79 Narrated in E. with all theirinhabitants. . womenand childrenwerenot spared.' Theywerenot deliberately hanged.p. He orderedhis troopsto go into towns and villagesand to kill and burnindiscriminately.ii. As Kayeput it. punishing the rebels.and a batchof twelve men were executedbecausetheirfaceswere 'turnedthe wrongway' when they were met on the march.79 The motivesfor such butcherywere also clear. he had to "settle" thetownof Allahabad andits surrounding countryside.Butbeforehe couldmoveto Kanpur.KANPUR MASSACRES OF 1857 lll The affirmation of rebel powerwith such brutalityand violence also has anothercontextrelatedto Briiishcounter-insurgency measures.History of theSepoyWar. old men. but burnt to death in their villages . 77 WilliamHowardRussellwas in Indiain 1858. pp. Thompson. in paperssent home by the GovernorGeneralof India in Council. As the British administraiion in Calcuttarecoveredfrom the shockof the uprisingthey took immediatemeasures to quell it.Neill'sorders.had daredto destroytheirproperty and lives. It is on the recordsof our BritishParliament.hang him. werethat"allthe men inhabiting them[certain villages. . this was to serve as his first base forthe takingof Kanpur. women and children. 72.according to Kaye (p. to be hanged.that they had "sparedno one" and that "peppering awayat niggers" was very pleasant pastime. and relievingthe Britishgarrisonsin Kanpurand Lucknow. pp. and have his headcut off and stuckup on one of the principal (Mahomedan) buildingsof the town".previously marked out]were to be Russell'swords.1926). particularly at Futtehpore. The forces sent up to north India under Neill and Havelockhad three aims:the re-establishment of Britishauthority. or to recordtheir boastingsin writing.that "In two days forty-twomen were hangedon the roadside.The townof Futtehpore whichhadrevolted wasto be attacked.Neill arrivedin Allahabad on 11 June. 269-70.If the DeputyCollector is taken. . All heads of insurgents. . that "the aged.The officerreported.a writernot knownfor being sympathetic to the revolt. The Briiishwere unableto accept that a subjectpopulationhad taken arms against them. 275). writingaboutNeill's operations: Over the whole of the SepoyWar there is no darkercloud than that which gatheredover Allahabad in this terriblesummer.are sacrificed. Englishmendid not hesitateto boast.

By a displayof terror not dissimilarto the terrorthe Britishdeployed. 82"These 'severities'could not have been justifiedby the Cawnpore massacre.80 John Lawrence.the governorof the Punjaband a very influential administrator. 282. soughtto create an awarenessof its unrestrained and independentpresence.History of theSepoy War. the rebels in Kanpurhad a sense that what they were doing was legitimate. The terms of their violencewere thus derivedfrom that very structureof poweragainstwhich they had revolted.EZementaty Aspects ofPeasant Insurgency.The massacre restoredthe sovereigntyby manifesting it at its most spectacular. "religiousviolence is intense becauseit connectsintimatelywith the fundamental valuesand self-definition of a community".Indian Mutiny Diawy.112 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 So it happenedthat whilst the first bitternessof our degradation the degradation offeanngthosewhomwe hadtaught tofear us was still fresh upon our people. in however tentativea fashion. readyat once to punishand to awe. 40.Like the crowdsof late sixteenth-century France. 83 See Guha. They "borrowed"from the British and replicatedthe violence. The intensityand ferocityof the violencewas also relatedto the imbrication of the revoltwith profound religiousfeelings. not by tryingto enforceits lawsbut by clearlymarking out its enemy. 269. theyfoughtanddestroyed in defenceof theirreligion.82 It is not far-fetched to imaginethatthenewsof suchmassacres reached a sovereignpowerthat sought its identity in the pre-Britisheighteenth-century political system. The spectaclereactivated the power that Britishrule had undermined.83 But was it merely "borrowing"? Or are we being too hasty in pointingto the derivative character of the rebels'use of violence?Is there not somethingmore significant in this tremendous displayof force and power? Rebel obstacle to the reconstitution of that sovereignty. therefore.and Kaye. Quotedin Thompson. becausethey tookplacebeforethatdiabolical act":Russell.Other Sideof theMedal. there came a suddenaccessionof stout Englishhearts and strongEnglishhands. p. Emphasis added. laid down the priorities of Britishpolicy:'COur object is to make an exampleand terrifyothers''. Theywantedto counterthis showof violenceby theirownexhibition of power.81 Whatis significant is thatthesekillingsby the Britishtroopswere carriedout beforethe massacre in Kanpur. 75. ii. This was a powerthatembarked on its career. The British presence indeedrebelpower alwaysdoes. 80 81 .As Natalie Zemon Davis has noted. constituteditself as an alternative order. p. p.

The massacreat Satichaura Ghat on 27 June 1857 was a dramatic momentwhen a bodypoliticstruggled to recover its totality by destroyingthe body of its dominantother. the nature of which was distinct from that of the first. It wasa straight shooting. 85 The above paragraph is based on my readingof M. "The Rites of Violence". In the meantime.a rebel power had to.was "one of the elementsof its glory".in the rebelcamp.86 A groupof captured sepoys.The rebel forces were defeatedin two hard-fought encounterson 15 July. were asked individuallywhy they had killed their Britishmasters. inscribedits domination on the body of the Indian. 2. Histowof theIndianMutiny. 181. p.Elementaty Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. preparations had to be made to stop the Britishforces marchingup from Allahabad. The men were separated out fromthe survivors and shot. 86 ''synOpsiss87 Ball. Foucault. 32 of Discipline and Punish. This involved those who had survivedthe slaughterat Satichaura Ghat. by dehumanizing the victims. "The very excess of the violence employed"in the N. 242. The violence embeddedin Britishrule was eradicated throughcounter-violence: Britishpowerhad to be disembodied for the rebel power to be could say following Foucault.84 Britishrule.KANPUR MASSACRES OF 1857 113 theirviolencehada structure dramaiic andspectacular. The massacre on the riverwas followedby a secondmassacre. 1979).passim. The rebelsnow 84 Natalie Zemon Davis. pp. . Z.87 Whatwas the workof God for one was the work of Satanfor the other. Guha. In that abstractcontraposition is perhaps capturedthe configuration of two contestingsystems of power.Discipline and Punish:TheBirthof thePnson(Harmondsworth. in its turn. Whatwas seenas grotesque wasdestroyed in a grotesque way.ii.The quotation is fromp.1987edn.). as if in continuation of whathad happenedon the river. Davis. 186-7. 164-6.minutesbeforetheirexecution. as I haveemphasized. pp.knownastheBibighur. in the villageof Aong andon the banksof PanduNadi.The English officerwho collectedthe evidenceon the massacreremarked in his synopsisthat this was a period "when Satanmay truly be said to have been let loose upon earth".85 The glorywas all the greater becausethe massacre was seenby the rebels as divine retribution. each one of them replied that "the slaughterof the British was requiredby our religion". The narrativeof violence in Kanpur does not end here.The women andchildren werekeptas prisoners in a room. destroythe body of the Briton. ch. To eradicatethe marksof that domination.esp. Society and Culture in EarlyModern France(Oxford.

88 In this episode there is clear evidence that the unity that had previouslybeen forgedbeganto breakdownwith the advance of the Britishforcesandthe defeatssuffered by therebels. and they cut up the prisoners.Sepoyswhohadkilled on the river were unwilling to obey orders. as Williamsnoted.broughtordersfrom the Nana for the sepoysto kill the womenandchildren.The sepoysrefusedto comply. It was then decided that the ladies and childrenwere to be killed.89This massacre. At this four or five professional executioners were sent in armedwith swordsand long knives.Do we detectin this silence. refusedto speakaboutwhattheyhadseenor heard.unlike the first one.and thereforeof its victory.facingthe prospectof a Britishtake-over of the city.Evidencethat runs clearand strongfrom 15thof May to 14thof July. its mass support. Lieutenant-Colonel Williamsindicatedthis when he commented in his synopsisof the evidence: Regardingthe numerousmassacres that took place.114 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 retreated to Kanpur. is clearlyand freely given. suddenlyceaseson the fatalday of the 15th of that month.The secondmassacre was the work of a leadershipno longer sure of its power. since it was in a closed room. was no longeran open affair. The men who were calledin to carryout the killing were paid.The bodies it was saidthat not all were dead were throwninto a well. theydisownedthe secondby remaining had been a show of power. A personalservantof Nana Sahib. Defeat had led to a loss of legitimacy. namedBegum. and fired a few volleys aimed at the ceiling. There were people outside.It was carriedout in a closedroom. . this reticence. all seem instinciivelyto shrinkfromconfessingany knowledgeof so foul and barbarous a crimeas the indiscriminate slaughter of helpless womenand innocentchildren.The rebelsclearly refusedto obey their leader. The leadersnow had to fall back upon their personalservantsand on mercenaries. . but on approaching the last and most terrible scene. who was in chargeof the prisoners. The peoplearound could not see the killing. but they. The leadershipwanted to kill becauseit 88 "SynOpSiS"89 Ibd 90 Ibid. the other carriedout indoors. Thus the first was a spectacle.90 The very way in which the massacre was carriedout eliminated the possibilityof any direct witnesses. the evidence.the otheran act of retreat. .disapproval? Peoplehad exultedin the firstmassacre. The massacre no longerhad the sanction and participation of an entire society which saw itself as defeated.

or whatis individualistic (or smallgroup) to whatis communal (ormass)in character''.93In 1858 Lord Canning ordereda full inquiryon the dishonouring of Britishwomenby the rebels all over north India. 79.a historian of peasantinsurgency in colonial India writes that "the criminalmay be said to stand in the same relationto the insurgentas does what is conspiratorial (or secretive) to whatis public(or open).KANPUR 1WASSACRES OF 1857 115 wantedto removewitnessesof its own complicity. The massacreof Satichaura and the massacre at Bibighurwere basedon two differentcodesof violence. Home Miscellaneous..L. one could say using the same terms.92 Witnesses who hadbeen veryclose to wherethe ladieshadbeenimprisoned testified that nobody had molested the women.Contrasting crimewith insurgency. A POSTSCRIPTON RAPE It wouldhavebeen convenient if one couldleavethe analysis of rebel violenceand its natureat this point. p.O.thosewho mustknowhadtherebeencasesof outraged honourandwouldhavetold us. in Depositions at Canumpore. "Memorandum containing the Result of Enquiries madeby Desireof the Governor General into the Rumours of European Femaleshavingbeen Dishonoured duringthe LateMutinies". 94 I.It was a massacre producedby fear. Yet there was no rape. in the space of a fortnightthe power of the insurrection had transformed itselffromthe publicto the secretive: fromthe communal to only the leadership:what had previouslybeen seen as a work of God had become. The people.R. Williamsconcludedafter his investigations that "the most searching and earnestenquiriestotally disprovethe unfounded assertion thatwasatfirstso frequently made.Herewas a society in openwarwith a foreignpower. an act of Satan. The findingsof the inquirywere very definite: nothinghas come to my knowledgewhich would in the smallestdegree supportany of the talesof dishonour currentin our publicprints. "synopsisX93 Depositions of WilliamClarke.Direct evidence.thatpersonal indignityanddishonour had beenofferedto ourpoorsuffering country women".Elementaty Aspects of PeasantInsurgency.Eliza Bradshaw and Hingun. 725. has been steadilyand consistentagainst them. uniformly denythatsuchthingswereever perpetrated or thoughtof. 92 .at the timewhenthe rebelsseemed to be victoriousthey had Britishwomen at their mercy for about fifteen days. To do so would be to leavethe narrative withoutobservinga significant absence.91 It wasindeedan irony thatunderpressure fromBritishcounter-insurgency measures. and so currently believed. no.94 91Guha.whereverprocurable.

HomezMiscellaneous.The preservationof religiousand castepuritycould thus eliminaterape. 98I.They weredrivenby the idea of annihilating the British. as I have tried to emphasize. enclosures. rapebecameredundant.. The revoltof 1857visualized itselfas a warof religion. University of Calcutta Rudrangshu MukheUee 95Ibid.this is how they wantedto show and establishtheirpower.95 Whatare we to makeof this absence?I wouldlike to suggesttwo possibleexplanations.ibid.116 PAST AND PRESENT NUMBER 128 Officer afterofficerfromthe districts wroteto saythattheyhadfound no evidenceof dishonourto women.a struggleto preserve the purityof casteandreligionagainst a perceived attempt at contamination by theBritish.96 It was said that in conversation among the rebels the Britishwere never mentionedfor "a man's mouth becameimpure[for] forty days by namingthe Kafirs". Depositionof John Fitchett.The maintenance of puritywent so far as to label all loyalistsas Christians. The aim of the rebels.was the destruction of all thingsBritish. Depositionof KhodaBux.L. . not so much to disgraceour name.This was not the agendaof the rebels.a method of subordination which pollutedthe blood and body of womenby the most intimateand forcefulcontact.As Muir. That power did not distinguishby way of genderor age. "the objectof the mutineerswas .98 Rape was probablyseen as an instrumentof defilement. 96 97 . 725. no. and of everythingconnectedwith foreignrule". In that contextwhen the desire to destroywas overwhelming.O.R..97 In such a situationcontactof any kind with Britishwomenwouldobviouslybe considered polluting. "Memorandum containing the Result of Enquiries madeby Desireof the Governor General into the Rumours of European Femaleshavingbeen Dishonoured duringthe LateMutinies". as to wipe out all tracesof Europeans. in Depositions at Cawnpore.who conducted the enquiry orderedby Lord Canningput it. .

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful