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11 JUNE

BRITISH ARMY MURDERS “EVERY NATIVE THAT APPEARED IN SIGHT.”

[ 11 June 1857 ]

On this day in 1857, Colonel James Neill, who had been ordered to crush the slightest sign of support for the Indian mutiny, seized the city of Allahabad. In the two days which followed he implemented a reign of terror, unprecedented in Indian history. Thousands were slaughtered, including many innocent women and children. One British officer, who seemed more concerned with the tiresome burden the work of killing placed on his soldiers, recalled

“Every native that appeared in sight was shot down without question and in the morning Colonel James Neil sent out parties of his regiment, although the poor fellows could hardly walk from fatigue and exhaustion, and burned all the villages near where the ruins of our bungalows stood, and hung every native they could catch on the trees that lined the road. Another party of soldiers penetrated into the native city and set fire to it, whilst volley after volley of grape and canister was poured into the fugitives as they fled from their burning houses.”[1]

“In years to come,” he added, “men will tell of the frightful vengeance taken by the white men for the rebellion of 1857.”[2]  Today, however, few in Britain know anything about the massacre, though historians have estimated that Neill’s troops “executed” some six thousand people in Allahabad and its immediate neighbourhood, more than all the British citizens who were either murdered or killed in conflict during the entire two years of the mutiny. [3]

FOOTNOTES

  1. “Private Letter from Allahabad,” The Morning Post, 24 August 1857 p3
  2. Ibid.
  3. Piers Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997, Jonathan Cape, London p132

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