Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi


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This is a small selection of quotes by the British of acts by the British. The purpose is to give some background to the story of Lakshmibai, to show the attitudes of many of the British and the sort of news that would have received in Jhansi, rather than to castigate the British. The effect of the stories of British actions, which would hardly need amplifying, reaching Jhansi, combined with the news of Rose's force heading their way requires little by way of imagination.

By and large these quotes are taken from Hibbert's The Great Mutiny.

The Suppression

" the Word of God gives no authority to the modern tenderness for human life."
    -- Colonel James Neill, 1st Madras Fusiliers
" [There] must be no more disbandments for mutiny. Mutineers must be attacked and annihilated; and if there are few in any regiments, and not immediately announced to be shot or hanged, the whole regiment must be deemed guilty and given up to prompt military execution."
    -- Brigadier-General Havelock.
" Let us propose a Bill for the flaying alive impalement, or burning of the murderers of the women and children at Delhi. ... I would inflict the most excriutiating tortures I could think of on them with a perfectly easy conscience."
    -- Brigadier John Nicholson
    in a letter to Herbert Edwardes, Commissioner at Peshawar.
" Few courts martial were held by Nicholson; his dictim 'the punishment for mutiny is death' obviated any necessity for trial ... Nicholson issued an order that no native should pass a white man riding, without dismounting and salaaming."
    -- Ensign R. G. Wilberforce, 52nd Light Infantry
    on Brigadier John Nicholson.


" ... gallows were immediately erected; and scores of natives suspected of rebellious intent were subsequently hanged on them, including 'some boys, who, perhaps in mere sport, had flaunted rebel colours and gone about beating tom-toms'."
    -- Hibbert
    The Great Mutiny, p 201, quoting Sir John Kaye, on Neill restoring order in Benares
" Hanging parties also went out into the surrounding districts, 'and amateur executioners were not wanting to the occasion. One gentleman boasted of the numbers he had finished off, quite 'in an artistic manner', with mango trees for gibbets and elephants for drops, the victis of this wild justice being strung up, as though for pastime, in 'the form of a figure of eight'."
    -- Hibbert
    The Great Mutiny, p 201, quoting Sir John Kaye, on Neill restoring order in Benares


" Eagerly responding to [Colonel Neill's] orders, European volunteers and Sikhs descended upon the town, burning houses and slaughtering the inhabitents, old men, women and children as well as those more likely to be active rebels who were submitted to the travesty of a trial."
    -- Hibbert
    The Great Mutiny, p 202, on the retaking of Allahabad.
" The gallows and trees adjoining it had each day the fresh fruits of rebellion displayed upon them. Hundreds of natives in this manner perished and some on slight proofs of criminality."
    -- F. A. V. Thurburn, Deputy Judge Advocate General at Allahabad.
" Every day ten or a dozen niggers are hanged. [Their corpses hung] by two's and three's from branch and signpost all over town ... For three months did eight dead-carts go their rounds from sunrise to sunset, to take down corpses which hung at the cross-roads and the market places, poisoning the air of the city, and to throw their loathsome burdens into the Ganges."
    -- Lieutenant Pearson
    on the punishment of rebels in Allahabad, in a letter to his mother.


" We took a Pandy prisoner and my men amused themselves by making him eat greased cartridges, but we are to take no prisoners in future ... It is impossible to feel the slightest sympathy for these black beasts"
    -- An officer named Hare
    at the siege of Delhi.
" Unwary civilians who showed their faces in the streets were as likely to be murdered as captured sepoys. Those suspected of being or harbouring rebels were hanged, bayonetted or shot. 'Already intent on vengeance, the soldiers were more than ever determined to exact it when they came across the mutilated corpses of comrades murdered in side streets and alleys to which they had been enticed by the female accomplices of badmashes and fanatics'. The revenge was appalling. Old men were shot without a second thought; groups of younger men, endeavouring to escape from the city were rounded up and executed in a ditch outside the gates. 'No one with a coloured skin could feel himself safe.' The murders were committed quite without compunction or regret."
    -- Hibbert
    The Great Mutiny, p 311, on British actions after the recapture of Delhi
" [A civilian whose sister had been murdered by the rebels was in the habit of attaching himself to any regiment with whom he might have an opportunity of glutting his desire for vengeance] He shook my hand saying that he had put to death all he had come across, not excepting women and children, and from his excited manner and the appearance of his dress - which was covered with bloodstains - I quite believed he told me the truth. One would imagine he must have tired of the slaughter during the six days of fighting in the city, but it was not so."
    -- Captain Griffiths, 61st
    at Delhi writing of an old school friend.


" Everywhere might be seen people helping themselves to whatever they pleased. Plunder was the order of the day. Jewels, shawls dresses, pieces of satin, broadcloths ... the most magnificent divan carpets studded with pearls ... books, pictures, European clocks, English clothes, full-dress officers' uniforms, epaulettes, aiguillettes,manuscripts, charms; [and much more besides]."
    -- L.E.R. Rees
" There were hundreds of sepoys [mutineers] dead and dying, many on fire. Piled around the entrance and in every court and garden of the place, they lay in heaps, three and four deep, a suffocating, burning, smouldering mass while many a Highlander, Sikh, 50th and a few of ours lay among them. Now and then a stray shot came from some wretch yet able to pull his trigger. While there I saw 64 collected, drawn up and bayonetted with yells of 'Cawnpore'. God forgive us..."
    -- Lieutenant Cubitt, 5th Fusiliers
    at Dilkusha Park, Lucknow
" [The scene was terrible] But at the same time it gave a feeling of gratified revenge. You may think me a savage but I gloated over the sights in this charnel house. Who did not who saw the slaughter at Cawnpore? ... Among the corpses were those of several women ... I saw the body of a woman lying with a cross-belt upon her and by her a dead baby also shot with two bullet wounds in it. The poor mother had tied the wounds round with a rag ... McQueen told me he had seen a Highlander bayonet another woman and on his upbraiding him for such a brutal act, he said the man turned upon him like a madman and for a minute he almost expected to be run through with his bayonet himself."
    -- Lieutenant Fairweather
    at Dilkusha Park, Lucknow.


" The men were off duty, and even some native soldiers, but chiefly the 86th and artillery were frightfully drunk. Having seized on the native liquour shops, they then commenced looting and killed everything black, old men and young, woen and children ... They shouted 'Cawnpore!' and 'Delhi!' and down they went. Streete says he saw a room full of dead women with children suckling at their breasts. Other women brought out dead children supplicating for mercy. Officers rushed down with the Provost Marshall and some dragoons and put a stop to it and destroyed all the liquour."
    -- Dr Sylvester
    the siege of Dhar.
" [Durand led his column towards Chambal, capturing numerous prisoners who were shot with their hands tied behind their backs.] Then we burned some houses near a village. The men in them ran out all on fire, their hair in a blaze and were killed by the infantry muskets. Whilst we were attacking the escaping villagers, I saw a man in a tree and shot him with my revolver."
    -- Dr Sylvester

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Last modified: 2005-09-23 23:23:02.000000000