The 1857 war of independence against cruel british rule was fought for the greater than life principles. The fear of greased cartridges and the annexation of Oudh were only temporary and accidental causes. These great principles for which the war was fought were Swadharma and Swaraj. In the thundering roar of Swarajya, which rose to protect religion, when there were evident signs of a cunning, dangerous, and destructive attack on religion dearer than life, and in the terrific blows dealt at the chain of slavery with the holy desire of acquiring Swaraj, when it was evident that chains of political slavery had been put round them and their God-given liberty wrested away by subtle tricks- in these two, lies the root-principle of the Revolutionary War. [ref]
The main reason for the revolt was the mistreatement of the Indian soldiers in the British Army by The British. the soldiers' religious sentiments were hurt when the rifles' (Enfield) gunpowder contained pig and cow fat. Another way the sentiments were hurt was when the soldiers had to travel by sea. The sea routes were virtually unkown to the Indian soldiers. They were very well aware of the land routes and had familiarised themselves with the terrains. In retalliation, the officers cut down the wages of the soldiers, beat them and this aggravated their anger more. This sparked the rise of the rebellion and the movement for an Independent India began.
The main cause for the rebellion was the mutiny of the soldiers in the Bengal Regiment in the British Indian Army. The soldiers' religious sentiments were hurt by the officers when they were forced to use rifles powered by gunpowder consisting pig and cow fat. They were also forced to travel across the ocean and no Hindu did so because of the superstition that they would loose their caste. The movement grew so much that it ignited the feeling of Swaraj among the people and was the first unified movement to finish the British rule in India. The movement was unsucessful but it gave rise to the feeling of Swatantra and Swaraj and gave rise more movements to ultimately end British rule in India.
Colonel George Bruce Malleson, an English officer in India says:
In this lesser sense, then, and in this only, did the cartridges produce the mutiny. They were instruments used by the conspirators, and those conspirators were successful in their use of the instruments only because, in the manner I have endeavoured to point out, the mind of the Sepoys and of certain sections of the population had been prepared to believe every act testifying bad faith on the part of their foreign masters.
Notable Bravehearts of 1857
Soon after the sudden death of Rani Laxmibai's husband in 1853, the English annexed Jhansi. But Jhansi was not a state which could be annexed by mere word or letter. Her adopted son could not inherit the throne as the british wanted to gain control of Jhansi. However, she took control of the kingdom and fought the British to keep Jhansi a pricely state. She felt that the British were cowards, however did not wish to rebel against them unti mid 1857 when the Soldiers mutinied against the British. Until then, she was a staunch critic of the British government. In response to the attack, the Allies of the British government attacked Jhansi with the motive to divide Jhansi amongst themselves. She appealed to the Governor-General, but was to no avail. She defended the pride of Jhansi as an independant kingdom
Rani Laxmibai refused annexation! From her proud heart, seeing this low and heartless cunning of the English, pealed forth the thunders born of injured pride and a sense of honour, and through these the lightning of Jhansi declared -
"Give up my Jhansi? I shall not! Let him try to take who dares! Mai Meri Jhansi doongi nahin!" [ref]
She directly fought the British in three wars. She had adequate support from her people in the fight against British rule. In all the battles the British had superior weapons and more manpower. This did not frighten the Rani. She was a braveheart and her fighting actually scared the British. She faced a lot of loss in the war against the british. She lost her newborn daughter and her manpower had significantly reduced. Yet, she fought on. She was a very ethical soldier unlike her enemies. At the last battle,in Gwalior, the British killed her horse with the use of guns. The Rani had only limited artillery. They were merciless towards the end and the rani was killed in action. She did not surrender and like her promise, Jhansi was hers until her dying breath. She fought valiantly.
Shrimant Nana Saheb Peshwa
Shrimant Nana Saheb Peshwa II of Kanpur played a key role in designing the war of independence. For months, for years indeed, he had been spreading their network of intrigues all over the country. From one native court to another, from one extremity to another of the great continent of India, the agents of the Nana Sahib had passed with overtures and invitations discreetly, perhaps mysteriously, worded to princes and chief of different races and religions, but most hopefully of all to the Mahrattas. [ref]
Failure of the War of Independence
A Non-Unified Movement
The movement failed because the local monarchs wanted to regain control of their kingdoms after the British left. Due to this, there was no unified attack against the British. Different people wanted different rulers. There were many princely states that actually supported the British and threw the mutineers under the bus. The ones that supported the rebels did it out of sheer self-interest. They wanted to regain control of the land taken by the British. The rebellion was poorly organised and there was no clear leader. Within the Bengal Regiment, there were many sepoys who did not participate in the mutiny and were indifferent towards the issues at hand. Within the Army, there were many supporters as well as non-supporters of the rebellion. Many supporters were just active in propoganda and didn't actively mutiny. Some were silent. There were many clashes between the two parties. The sepoys who did participate did not get the support from the citizens. They had been criticized by many people and they were ostracized from their communities. Some were insulted.
A big reason as to why there was no support was because the atrocities commited by the British were virtually unknown to those who could make a difference and the people were frightgened to participate in the rebellion citing the reason that, if failed, they would be seriously penalised by the British.
Limited Artillery and Poor Execution
The rebels were mainly the sepoys. They had access to the weapons assigned to them by the British Army. These were the same Enfield rifles that sparked the rebellion. Many of them refused to pick up these weapons and used less effecient guns. This resulted in a major loss. To wager war against the British, meant having the resources and the funding to have a chance at winning. The rebels did not have the resources because of the limited support they had from the princely states. The rebels also had limited training to use the weapons and many supporters and fighters did not have modern weapons and used swords and cannons to fight.
The British Army had a lot of weapons and heavy weaponry which the rebels could not even compete with. The British Army was extremely organised and had a lot of training which the rebels did not have. There was a lot of conflict within the rebels on how tom execute their plans. Their planning was also not very good and had lost half the battle.