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The untold tale of Vizagapatam’s 1780 mutiny

In an technology the place a lot of nationwide and regional political events prioritise renaming historic websites and monuments, steadily dismissing the wealthy historical past and cultural heritage they possess, an important match that took place roughly 243 years in the past in Visakhapatnam is going solely not noted. This match fails to safe a place in historical past books, lacks a commemorative monument, and, most importantly, stays unknown to many, together with native leaders and politicians.

The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, which started on Might 10, 1857 within the garrison the city of Meerut, is broadly considered the First Battle of Indian Independence. This used to be the primary primary rise up of native sepoys towards the oppressive rule of the East India Corporate or the British Crown.

Alternatively, in line with the district gazetteer of Vizagapatam, as Visakhapatnam used to be recognized then, the primary rebel by way of the native sepoys towards the English forces of East India Corporate, used to be on October 3, 1780, within the inconspicuous, nondescript the city of Vizagapatam.

Remarkably, this mutiny, recognized in historian circles because the ‘forgotten rise up’, predates the widely-known Sepoy Mutiny of Meerut by way of 77 years. If truth be told, if we imagine primary sepoy rebellions that transpired all through British rule previous to 1857, the rebel in Vizagapatam can also be considered the earliest example by which local sepoys rose up towards the British Raj, as mentioned by way of Professor (Retd.) Kolluri Suryanarayana, former Head of the Division of Historical past at Andhra College.

This used to be now not the one rebellion previous to 1857 that has been misplaced to historical past. There were others, such because the 1806 rise up in Vellore, Tamil Nadu and the 1824 rebel at Gorakhpur in 1824, Prof. Satyanarayana provides.

It’s value noting that the Santhal Insurrection, an important rebellion the place tribal communities rebelled towards the British Crown, happened in 1855 inside the forested areas of what’s now the State of Jharkhand. This rise up additionally serves as a outstanding instance of indigenous resistance towards British rule, as emphasized by way of Professor Suryanarayana.

The grave of Cadet Kingsford Venner who was killed in the first sepoy mutiny against East India Company that took place on October 03, 1780 in Visakhapatnam.

The grave of Cadet Kingsford Venner who used to be killed within the first sepoy mutiny towards East India Corporate that happened on October 03, 1780 in Visakhapatnam.
| Picture Credit score:
Okay.R. Deepak

Along with being referenced in a couple of paragraphs inside the district Gazetteer, the Sepoy Insurrection of 1780 in Vizagapatam additionally gained protection in Hicky’s Bengal Gazette. Significantly, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette holds the respect of being the primary English newspaper revealed in India all through colonial rule. The inclusion of this rise up in any such e-newsletter supplies additional historic documentation and popularity of the development.

The way it began

Right through that specific technology, officials of the East India Corporate would enlist natives predominantly from the Muslim group who had ancestral hyperlinks to the sepoys and fauzdars (officials) of the Mughal kings within the area. These recruits had been basically tasked with earnings assortment within the district. Alternatively, a pervasive sense of discontentment prevailed a number of the native sepoys because of unfulfilled salary guarantees and a perceived loss of appreciate from their British superiors. This discontentment sooner or later reached a snapping point once they had been urged to board a frigate positioned close to the previous Lighthouse within the Previous The city space, with the purpose of becoming a member of different English forces within the Carnatic conflict towards Hyder Ali.

The chief of the native forces all through that point used to be a person named Shaikh Mohammed, and the vast majority of the sepoys belonged to his group. Alternatively, simply earlier than boarding the frigate, they refused to head and battle towards Hyder Ali, as he used to be considered a hero who shared their spiritual religion.

This resolution by way of the sepoys used to be influenced by way of their admiration for Hyder Ali and their reluctance to battle towards any person they respected. The refusal to take part within the Carnatic Battle used to be an important act of defiance towards the British orders.

The letter dated September 14, 1780, from Governor John Whitehall of the Madras Presidency to James Henry Casamajor, the native leader of the Corporate in Vizagapatam and Masulipatnam, certainly urged Casamajor to arrange the native forces for deployment within the Carnatic Battle. This order used to be given because of the really extensive weakening of the British forces within the ongoing war

Following the order, Casamajor urged the embarkation of the native sepoys. Whilst the sepoys in Masulipatnam agreed and complied, the ones in Vizagapatam rebelled towards the order.

On October 3, 1780, to start with, the whole thing gave the look to be going in line with plan beneath the command of a determine named Lysaught. The fingers and different vital pieces had been in part loaded onto the frigate. Alternatively, round 3 p.m., the sepoys, led by way of Mohammed, refused to board the send.

Tensions had been already excessive between the English officials and the sepoys because of the officials’ perceived high-handedness. With the refusal to embark, the placement briefly escalated to a flashpoint. Shaikh Mohammed and his sepoys, armed with loaded muskets, unleashed indiscriminate gunfire on the English officials. This unexpected outbreak of violence resulted within the quick deaths of Lieutenant Crisps, Kingsford Venner (a cadet), and Robert Rutherford (the paymaster). Some other officer, Charles Maxtone, and a frigate officer named Lane had been gravely injured however controlled to be rescued and swim again to the frigate. A couple of different officials, together with Lt. Brown, Ellis, and Collins, additionally made it again to the frigate.

The Previous English Cemetery, positioned within the Previous The city space of the town, is the place the grave of Cadet Kingsford Venner can nonetheless be discovered. This cemetery serves as a reminder of the historic occasions that opened up all through that point.

Now not content material with the killings of a couple of English officials, the rebels seized keep an eye on of town and captured Casamajor at the side of a number of different English officials and civil servants. In line with Edward Paul, a historical past fanatic and chronicler of Visakhapatnam’s historical past, the rebels additionally launched a Frenchman who used to be held captive by way of the British on suspicions of being a secret agent for the French forces. The French had fought along Hyder Ali within the Carnatic Battle.

Inside a span of a couple of hours, just about the entire local sepoys had joined the rise up, ensuing within the liberation of town from the guideline of the East India Corporate. The mutineers then went on a rampage, extracting details about the Corporate’s wealth garage places and continuing to loot the ones puts.

In line with the to be had information and Casamajor’s remark later, the rebels went past looting the products, fingers, and ammunition saved within the arsenal or armoury. They additionally seized keep an eye on of the Corporate’s money, which amounted to roughly ₹21,999.

With the surviving Englishmen in a state of disarray, they sought safe haven within the houses of native Zamindars or kings, who had been their allies. The complete garrison fell beneath the keep an eye on of Mohammed and his fans, additional consolidating their cling at the scenario.

Mutineers’ mistake

Whilst main his forces to enroll in Hyder Ali on October 4, Mohammed used to be persuaded by way of Gajapathi Narain Deo, an area Zamindar, to unencumber the captive English officials. This flip of occasions proved to be a strategic blunder on Mohammed’s phase. Seizing the chance, Casamajor unexpectedly returned to town and issued orders to Captain Ensign Butler, the commander of the Grenadiers regiment, to regroup with the surviving English infantrymen, officials, and a couple of unswerving native sepoys. Their project used to be to pursue the mutineers and convey them to justice.

Casamajor additionally urged the native Zamindars, who had been within the make use of of the East India Corporate, to not supply fortify to the rebels as they handed thru their territories. This directive aimed to restrict the rebels’ skill to search out safe haven or obtain help alongside their path.

On October 8, the rebels discovered themselves surrounded and ambushed at a gorge close to Gudderallywanka, on the subject of Payakaraopeta. The majority of the rebels had been killed within the disagreement, whilst Mohammed and a small team controlled to flee. Alternatively, they had been sooner or later captured and completed a number of months later.

In line with Mr. Edward Paul, the mutiny, despite the fact that short-lived, had an important have an effect on at the rule of the East India Corporate. Because of this, the Corporate unexpectedly carried out a sequence of adjustments in management, army fortifications, and rules.

Mr. Paul additional unearths that Casamajor himself stated the gravity of the rebel in a preserved testimony discovered within the British Library in London. In his remark, Casamajor admitted, “The rebel of the grenadiers used to be in all respects an match that may have resulted in unhealthy penalties. It had annihilated our energy and affect in an excellent measure. At any price, we gained any such surprise that we felt ourselves degraded as a Executive.”

This incident is referenced in more than a few historic resources, together with the “Historical past of the Madras Military” by way of W.J. Wilson and the letters exchanged between John Whitehall, Casamajor, and Brown on October 4 and 9, 1780, as famous by way of Mr. Paul.

Misplaced historical past

Excluding for the grave and the tombstone of Cadet Kingsford Venner, which states that he used to be killed within the mutiny of 1780 in Vizagapatam, there are few ultimate bodily remnants of that historic match.

Many historical past fanatics and heritage activists consider that it is necessary for the Central or State Executive, in addition to the native management, to take the initiative in development a monument to honor the unsung heroes of the 1780 mutiny in Vizagapatam.

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