The Siege of Cawnpore was an important part of the Indian rebellion of 1857.When Nana Sahib captured Cawnpore (now Kanpur) British forces surrendered to him and in turn he promised them a safe passage to Allahabad. Unfortunately their evacuation had turned into a massacre during which most of them were killed. It was indeed an unpleasant event of siege of Kanpur.
Kanpur was an important garrison town situated on the Grand Trunk Road and Grand Trunk Canal beside the river Ganges and lay on the approaches to Punjab, Sind and Oudh provinces.
In 1857, British ruled two thirds of India through East India Company. The remaining part of the country was under the control of Princes with whom the British had an alliance. The year 1857 was an eventful year in the history of the Indian people. It was in that year that the great armed uprising took place against the British rule in India. It began on 10th May 1857 at Meerut with the mutiny of Indian soldiers or ‘sepoys’ as the British used to call them. Next day these soldiers marched into Delhi where they were joined by the soldiers stationed at Delhi. The city of Delhi passed into their hands. The unrest against the British rule that had been brewing for a long time now broke out into a revolt. It was by far the most widespread challenge to the British rule. It brought together soldiers of different regions and many rulers and chiefs of different states and principalities to fight for the common aim of overthrowing the British rule. Many other sections of Indian society- landlords, peasants, artisans, scholars- joined the revolt. Because of the widespread and popular nature of the revolt, some consider it the first Indian war of independence.
The battle at Cawnpore was led by Nana Sahib, the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II. Being a brave and determined general, Nana Sahib captured the fort and declared himself the Peshwa. From then onwards the British were held in captivity.
The British contingent in Cawnpore consisted of around nine hundred people, including about three hundred military men, three hundred women and children and about one hundred and fifty merchants, business owners, drummers, engineers and others.
During siege the British felt that the magazine situated in the northern part of Cawnpore was the most suitable defensive place for them to stay. It had thick walls, ample ammunition and stores and also hosted the local treasury. But General Wheeler decided to take refuge in the southern part of the city, in an entrenchment that was composed of two barracks surrounded by a mud wall. This area didn’t...