10 MAY


10 May 1857 – The Indian Mutiny, though it had many causes, broke out in the garrison town of Meerut, 40 miles north east of Delhi.  A day earlier, on 9 May, 85 Sepoys, serving as soldiers for the East India Company,  had been severely punished for refusing to handle cartridges covered with paper greased with cattle and pig fat. This had enraged both Hindu and Muslim soldiers since the greased paper covering had to be bitten off before the cartridges could be loaded into the rifles.

Their British officers, indifferent to such religious sensitivities, determined to make an example of them,  sentencing 74 of the recruits on 9 May to ten years hard labour and the remainder, on account of their youth, to five years and immediately placing them all in leg irons. Many of those sentenced couldn’t understand the severity of their punishments, including several who proudly wore medals testifying to many years of loyal service.

The next day other Sepoys deserted their posts and freed their imprisoned colleagues, burned down the barracks, killed their officers and immediately decided to march on Delhi, which was located just 36 miles away from Meerut.

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