This Day in History (10-Jul-1806) – The Vellore Mutiny Breaks Out against the British

The Vellore Mutiny was the first large-scale mutiny by Indian soldiers against the British mush before 1857 mutiny. The sepoy dress code was changed in 1805 under which Hindu soldiers were not allowed to wear any kind of religious marks on their foreheads and it was made mandatory for Muslims to shave their beards and trim their moustaches. Further, General Sir John Craddock, Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army made it compulsory for all solders to wear a round hat, which was largely associated with Europeans and Christians in place of the turban they had been wearing. It as considered as the beginning of a process of converting them to Christianity, further infuriating the soldiers. The British, on the other hand, made these changes thinking that they would improve the soldiers’ looks. In May 1806, a few soldiers who protested against this change in uniform were sent to Fort St. George where they were both given lashes and either removed from the army or asked to apologize. The rebellions were further instigated by the sons of the deceased Tipu Sultan.

In the early hours of the morning, the sepoys began their attack on Vellore fort and started by killing Colonel Fancourt who was commanding the garrison. Next to be killed was Colonel Me Kerras of the 23rd regiment, following which Major Armstrong was gunned down by the soldiers. Major Cootes who was outside the fort hurried to Ranipet and informed Colonel Gillespie who reached the fort immediately. In the meantime, the rebels had announced Tipu Sultan’s son Futteh Hyder as their new ruler and had hoisted a tiger flag atop the fort. This uprising was brought to an end by Colonel Gillespie. 800 Indian soldiers had died in this mutiny and 600 soldiers were imprisoned in Vellore and Tiruchi. Some rebels were shot dead by the British and some were hanged and eventually the mutiny was brought to an end. Vellore Mutiny failed due to lack of leadership. But it was the starting point of a new era of the resistance of the sepoys to the British rule. Some positive outcome was in terms of Religious interference with the soldiers being done away with and so was flogging of soldiers in the Indian regiment.



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