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Vellore Sepoy Mutiny





The Vellore Mutiny was the first large-scale mutiny by Indian soldiers against the British on 10th July 1806.The incident began when the Sepoys broke into the fort where the many sons and daughters of Tipu Sultan of Mysore and their families had been lodged since their surrender at Seringapatam (now Shrirangapattana) in 1799 during the fourth Mysore War.

Predating the Indian Rebellion of 1857 by half a century,Even though this mutiny was short lived and lasted only one day, it was violent and bloody and mutineers stormed into the Vellore Fort and killed and wounded as many as 200 British soldiers.

The 1500 Sepoys located in the Vellore garrison mutinied and killed or wounded over 200 of 370 Europeans in the fort, on the fated day of July 10. The Vellore Mutiny was however rapidly smashed due to quick response of Colonel Robert Gillespie (1766-1814). The Colonel, coming from Arcot, sixteen miles away, brought cavalry and horse artillery to Vellore and immediately obliterated out of hand 300 to 400 mutineers. Indian disaffection appeared to have come in opposition to orders by Sir John Cradock, Commander in Chief of the Madras Army. Cradock had ordered the removal of caste marks by the sepoys while on duty and replaced the turban with a new-styled leather headgear

The reasons for the mutiny revolved mainly around resentment against changes in the Sepoy dress code in November 1805. Hindus were prohibited from wearing religious marks on their foreheads and Muslims were required to shave their beard and trim their moustache.In addition General Sir John Craddock, Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army ordered the wearing of a round hat (resembling that associated with both Europeans and Indian Christians) with a leather cockade in place of the existing turban.A measure which offended both Hindu and Muslim sepoys and went contrary to an earlier warning by a Military Board that Sepoy uniform changes should be given “every consideration which a subject of that delicate and important nature required”

In May 1806, some soldiers who protested the new rules were sent to Fort St. George (Madras then, now Chennai). Two soldiers — a Hindu and a Muslim — were given 90 lashes each and their services terminated. Nineteen soldiers were punished with 50 lashes each and forced to seek pardon from the East India Company.The British officer had escaped and alerted the garrison in Arcot. Nine hours later, the British 19th Light Dragoons, led by Colonel Gillespie and the Madras Cavalry entered the fort through gates that had not been fully secured by the sepoys.

After the incident, the imprisoned royals were transferred to Calcutta.The controversial meddling with social and religious customs of the sepoys was abolished.