‘SLAUGHTER ALL THE MEN’ – BLOODY RETRIBUTION AGAINST AN INDIAN VILLAGE
[ 29 June 1857 ]
On 29 June 1857, Colonel James Neill ordered his Redcoats on a mission of bloody retribution against an Indian village, outside the city of Allahabad, suspected of harbouring mutineers. He ordered that ‘the village of Mullagu and neighbourhood be destroyed – slaughter all the men – take no prisoners,’ and adding ‘all insurgents that fall into good hands, hang at once – and shoot all you can.’1
The following day he wrote a letter to England, which was quoted in several newspapers, explaining that ‘what I did had the effect of striking great terror into them all,’ and adding that ‘authority is reestablished, and we have been settling down things wonderfully.’2 The press was exuberant, praising Colonel Neill’s ‘success and vigour’ and a few weeks later he was promoted to the position of Aide-de-Camp to the Queen.3 A statue still stands to commemorate his memory in the Scottish town of Ayr, and an inscription on the plinth describes Neill as ‘a brave, resolute, self-reliant soldier, universally acknowledged as the first who stemmed the tide of rebellion in Bengal.’
- Cited in Heather Streets, Martial Races: The Military, Race and Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857-1914, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2004 p. 39.
- ‘Colonel Neill at Allahabad,’ the Cheltenham Mercury, 29 August 1857, p. 2, ‘Colonel Neil at Allahabad,’ the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 24 August 1857, p. 4 and ‘Colonel Neil at Allahabad,’ The Surrey Comet, 29 August 1858, pp. 10-11.
- The Homeward Mail, 31 August 1857, p. 637 and The Friend of India, 16 July 1857, p. 675.
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