Let’s read the story of the Battle Of Chinhat.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that the British ruled over India with Indian cooperation. It was true. Right from their inception in the land of India, the majority of the East India Company’s army consisted of Indian soldiers. 

In the year 1857, these Indian soldiers came to know a heinous truth. 

The cartilages provided by the East India Company were greased with cow and pig fats. The majority of Indian soldiers were Hindus and Muslims. This revelation hurt the sentiments of both communities.

Mangal Pandey became vocal about this issue and gained popularity. He, with his unit regiment, broke into a rebellion. It was a short-lived rebellion as the British were quick to react. 

As an act of dominance, Mangal Pandey was executed publicly. Opposite to their expectation, this event fuelled the fire of revolution. This revolution was named ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ (soldier’s mutiny).

The revolution started in the province of Bengal. The rebels then started moving north toward Awadh. Awadh was located between Delhi and Bengal and their mission was to take over Awadh before reaching Delhi. The local leaders of Awadh too supported the idea of revolution. 

The British knew the geographical importance of Awadh. They intended to stop the rebels before they reached Awadh. The rebels were reportedly residing in a village named Chinhat. 

Sir Henry Lawrence led a small regiment from Lucknow to Chinhat. The East India Company had never seen an organized revolt before this incident. Under-estimating the rebel numbers, Lawrence kept marching onto an open field. The rebels were well-positioned in Chinhat and had also taken over Ismailganj, the neighbouring village. When the rebels opened fire, the British army had nowhere to hide. Lawrence still maintained an offensive approach. He believed that soon the rebels would be out of ammunition. But another group of rebels started coming along from Ismailganj. This group started raining bullets from the other side. Defending bullets from two sides was an impossible task. After suffering a great loss of life, Lawrence is finally ordered to retreat. The retreat was not easy at all. Fighting all day long under the sun had left many exhausted and dehydrated. They were eventually killed by the pursuing rebels.

The British retreated to their residency in Lucknow. Two days later Sir Lawrence died of an infection from a bullet shell that had wounded him previously. Without their leader, defending the British residency became an impossible task. Many of their soldiers deserted and joined the rebels. A week later the rebels had taken over the British residency. Under the leadership of Barkat Ahmed, the rebels held the Lucknow siege for over six months. 

The Battle of Chinhat was a pivotal point in India’s journey towards freedom. It proved the power of unity, as for the first time Hindus and Muslims fought side by side against their common enemy.

This was also a battle that was won without any prominent figure as their leader. No king or queen led this group of rebels. This empowered the common public to take the mantle of leadership into their own hands. The siege of Lucknow helped the revolution of 1857 become a success. Their guard over the bridges meant a delay in reinforcement from Bengal to Delhi.

Lastly, it may have lasted for a short temporary period but this victory also gave a lot of people hope.

Hope for a change, hope for a free country, hope for a better future. This hope created the future leaders of this nation. Leaders that will go on to live the dreams of freedom these rebels fought and died for.

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