| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
THE MUTINY OF VELLORE
 NOW suddenly there came an end to Wellesley's "forward
policy" as it was called.
At first both the directors of the Company and the
Parliament of Britain had been dazzled by the way in
which he had brought prince after prince under the rule
of the British. But the directors soon began to be
annoyed and anxious too. It was trade and money that
they wanted and not Empire. And instead of bringing in
money, Lord Wellesley's wars swallowed it up. Then
when the news that a bandit chieftain had destroyed a
troop of British soldiers reached home, their patience
gave out and their fears increased. They thought that
the whole of the Maráthás would again rise. The idea,
too, that India could only be ruled and kept in peace
by forcing the native princes to bow to British law,
was new to them. They did not see the need or the use
of all Lord Wellesley's alliances with native rulers.
They were tired of wars, so Lord Wellesley was
recalled, and Lord Cornwallis sent out again as
Lord Wellesley returned home a sorely disappointed man.
But he left his mark on Indian history. He founded the
first college for officers of the Company at Calcutta,
and he may be said to be the founder of the Indian
Civil Service as it is to-day.
Lord Cornwallis came to India the second time with
 orders to free the princes from their treaties, and not
to interfere any more in their quarrels with each other
or with their subjects. But Cornwallis was now an old
man, and he had not been more than ten weeks in India
when he died. So the orders of the directors were not
fully carried out, neither were the plans of Wellesley
followed, and for two years, India was full of unrest.
Holkar, on the eve of being conquered, was not
conquered. All his lands were given back to him, and
although he was made to promise not to disturb British
possessions, he burned, plundered, and slaughtered in
Rajputana, which was not under British protection.
Holkar became more and more haughty and wild. He
fought and drank until he made himself mad, and was at
length shut up as a madman, until he died.
Yet within the borders of British India there had been
peace for a time. Now suddenly it was broken.
The army officers at Madras began to think that the
sepoys would look much better if they were all dressed
alike. So the commander forbade them to wear earrings
or "caste" marks. They were also ordered to shave
their beards and trim their moustaches all alike, and
worst of all they were made to give up wearing turbans,
and told to wear a round black hat very much like what
The Madras sepoys hated all these new orders, and to
make matters worse, the other natives taunted them and
laughed at them. They said that this was only a
beginning, and that soon their white masters would
force them to give up both caste and religion, and
Stories of their discontent and anger were brought to
the officers. But they did not believe them, or did
not care, and they insisted that the new orders should
 At the fortress of Vellore there lived the sons and
relatives of Tippoo Sultan who had died, you remember,
fighting against the British.
Here there was a garrison of less than four hundred
British, and about fifteen thousand sepoys. And it was
here that the anger of the sepoys broke out,
encouraged, it is thought, by these Indian princes.
In the early dawn of a July morning, the sepoys
silently and stealthily surrounded the barracks and the
houses of the officers. All was still and quiet, when
suddenly the hush of the morning was broken by the loud
crack of guns. Through the windows of the barracks the
sepoys poured volley after volley upon the sleeping
men. Some of the officers, awakened by the noise, ran
out of their houses to see what the matter was. They
were shot down upon their doorsteps. Others were
slaughtered in their beds. Before they could arm or
defend themselves, every officer and half of the men
were killed. But at last those who remained drove the
mutineers back and took refuge in a jutting out part of
the fortifications near the gateway. Here they awaited
help, for they managed in some way to send news of the
mutiny to Arcot.
In the meantime the flag of Tippoo was planted upon the
walls, and the rebel sepoys were feasted by the native
Help was not long in coming. Arcot was only eight
miles away, and there was a brave and eager officer
called Colonel Gillespie. As soon as he heard the news
he gathered his men and galloped to Vellore as fast as
he could. So eager was he that he outstripped his men
and arrived first at the gates. He found them fast
shut, and guarded by the mutineers. Alone thus against
the enemy he was in great danger. But the British
 on the rampart, when they saw him, buckled their sword
belts together into a long rope, and, letting it down
over the wall, drew the gallant colonel up into safety.
Soon the troopers and two cannon arrived. They burst
the gate open, rushed in and charged the mutineers.
Everywhere the rebel sepoys gave way. They could not
stand before British bayonets. Some fled, others were
taken prisoner, and four hundred lay dead among the
narrow streets of Vellore.
Colonel Gillespie with his quick action had broken the
spirit of the mutiny. There were other riots both near
and far, which showed how widespread had been the
discontent. But the British were now on their guard,
and the worst of the danger was over.
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