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Under One Flag
The Light Has Gone Out
India Wins Freedom
Apostle of Peace
The Last War of Independence
Quit India
Leave India to God… or to Anarchy
Gandhi and Ambedkar
A Pinch of Salt!
Saga of Indian Revolutionaries
Bardoli
Gandhiji Withdraws from Political Activities
The Himalayan Blunder
A People Reject Their Rulers
Jallianwala — The Aftermath
Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh
The Gentle Satyagrahi
Gandhi in Champaran
Carrot and Stick
Revolutionaries Outside India
Heroes and Martyrs
Gandhi in South Africa
From Swadeshi to Swaraj
Swadeshi Enterprise
The New Spirit of India
The Great Divide
Partition of Bengal
The Battle is Taken to the Legislature!
The Monk Who Shook The Nation
Father of Indian Unrest
An Old Man's Dream
Women : Crossing the Threshold
The Battle Lines are Drawn
The Battle For A Free Press
Pressing On !
Europeans Take To The Street!
The British Raj in Black and White
Mamool Raj
The One-Man Army
Hunger Deaths
The Delhi Durbar
Return to Swadeshi
Barbarous Britannia
‘Rani Ka Hookum’
Perishing in Peace
The Blue Mutiny
English Education
The Trial of the Last Emperor
Roll of Honour
The Empire Strikes Back
British Authority Collapses
Sepoys on the Move
Tribal Uprisings
The Empire Builders
For God and Country

1857 : The Empire Strikes Back

  JUNE 23, 1857. Exactly a hundred years earlier the British had won the Battle of Plassey and it had been prophesied at that time that they would rule for a hundred years.
When the sepoys took control of Delhi it looked as if the prophecy might come true. But three months later the British were at the gates of the city.
On 20 September they took Lahori Gate and soon the Union Jack was flying from the ramparts of the Red Fort once again. Bahadur Shah surrendered at the Humayun Tomb where he had taken refuge and was escorted to the Red Fort. Later when his two sons and grandson were also being taken to the fort a crowd collected and the British fearing that the mob might try to rescue the princes, shot them dead.
In Kanpur there was a see-saw struggle for control of the city. When General Havelock was about 7 miles away, Nana Saheb tried to halt his advance but failed and had to flee for his life. The General entered Kanpur on July 16, 1857. From there he set out for Lucknow. But no sooner had he left, than Tatya Tope, Nana's trusted lieutenant, re-occupied Kanpur. Havelock returned to recapture the city but when he left, Tatya again took the city. He was finally dislodged on December 6 when the British under General Colin Campbell won a decisive victory.
In Lucknow the British garrison which had taken shelter in the Residency had been under siege from June 30. Havelock fought his way to the Residency and joined the besieged garrison on September 25. Then taking a strategic position in the city, he held on tenaciously to it, despite repeated attempts by the sepoys to dislodge him.
The reinforcements he was waiting for arrived six months later, in March 1858. By the 21 of that month British troops led by Campbell and Gurkhas led by Jang Bahadur of Nepal had taken possession of Lucknow. However ten more months were to pass before the whole of Awadh could be brought back under British control.
Among those who fought for Awadh were Maulvi Ahmadullah, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Ram Baksh, Chandra Baksh, Gulab Singh and hundreds of talukdars.
In Rohilkhand, Khan Bahadur Khan of Bareilly put up stiff resistance. Though Bareilly fell on May 6, 1858, Khan Bahadur Khan managed to escape with his men and continued his resistance against the British.
In Bihar the septuagenarian, Kunwar Singh, moved with amazing speed from one place to another. He held on to Azamgarh from March 26 to April 15, 1858. Flying before one column closely pursuing him and eluding another which was sent to the border of Bihar to cut off his retreat, he crossed the Ganga at Sheopur with the British at his heels. When he was shot in the arm and the wound started festering, he cut off the arm. He reached his jagir, Jagadishpur, and there succumbed to his injury.

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