Indian mutineers blown apart, wounding civilian spectators

Suspect mutineers about to be blown from the guns.
Watercolour by Orlando Norie via the National Army Museum.

17 June 1857

Today in 1857, British troops, having disarmed Indian mutineers at Lahore the previous month, executed twelve of them. Two by hanging, one of whom ‘lingered out for a considerable time, as the knot slipped under his chin,’ and a further ten by lashing them to the cannons and then loading blank cartridges so as to blow their bodies apart, with blood and body parts raining down on the civilian spectators.1 A correspondent of the Lahore Chronicle described the horrors of the ‘lesson’ –

‘The scene and stench were overpowering; I felt myself terribly convulsed, and observed that the numerous native spectators were awe stricken; and they not only trembled like aspen leaves, but also changed into unnatural hues. The lesson, I trust, will not be lost on them. Precaution was not taken to remove the sponge and load men from near the muzzles of the guns; the consequence was, that they were greatly bespattered with blood, and one man in particular received a stunning blow from a shivered arm. It would appear that some of the artillery guns, by oversight, were loaded with grapeshot, instead of blank cartridge only.  The guns were faced towards some of the spectators, five of whom have been severely wounded; two were shot through the thigh, one at the ankle, one through the calf, and another in the heel.’2

FOOTNOTES

  1. The Lahore Chronicle, 17 June 1857, quoted in ‘Execution of Mutineers at Lahore,’ The Dundee Courier, 5 August 1857.
  2. The Lahore Chronicle, 17 June 1857, quoted in ‘Execution of Mutineers at Lahore,’ The Dundee Courier, 5 August 1857.

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