This Day in History (29-Mar-1857) – Sepoy Mangal Pandey shot the first bullet of 1857 Indian mutiny in the barracks of Barrackpur against British Empire

Mangal Pandey was part of the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry and was a devout Hindu. In 1857, British officers decided to have a trial run of the newly acquired cartridges with the 19th battalion at Barakpur near Kolkata. The cartridges had the coating of cows’ / pigs’ fat. These cartridges had to be bitten off in order to remove the cover prior use and this went against the religious beliefs of the Muslims and Hindus. The general opinion was that the Britishers had deliberately done this to hurt the sentiments. the soldiers not only refused to use those cartridges but they revolted against such an experiment. On that day, the British officers did not react as they were outnumbered but they decided to call in for reinforcements. British soldiers from Burma came in and  disarmed the soldiers of that battalion, humiliated them and threw them out.

Mangal Pandey was enraged at the idea of the humiliation and on Sunday, 29th March 1857, he revolted. He leapt into the parade ground and started inspiring the Indian soldiers to fight against the injustice. Sargent Major Hudson ordered to catch hold of him but not a single soldier moved. Hudson got hit with a bullet fired by Mangal Pandey. On seeing this, Lieutenant Baugh came towards Pandey riding on his horse but the bullet coming out of Mangal Pandey’s gun went through the horse and the horse collapsed along with the Lieutenant. Before Mangal Pandey could re-load his gun, Baugh took out his gun but Mangal Pandey took out his sword. Baugh fired at him but Mangal Pandey dodged and overpowered Baugh with his sword. Hudson and Baugh ran away.

In the meantime, a soldier named Shaikh Paltu went towards Mangal Pandey and caught hold of Pandey from behind. Pandey managed to shake him off. He also ran away fearing for his life. Afterwards, General Hyeres  came with many European soldiers; but by that time, it was noon and Mangal Pandey was tired. As he realized that he would now be caught by the British, he turned the gun towards his chest and fired. He collapsed on the ground and lost consciousness; only after which the British could catch him. Injured, Pandey was taken to the military hospital. Within a week, he was tried in the Military Court and was hung till death on 8 April in 1857.


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