Col. James Neil - Forgotten and unforgiven "butcher of Allahabad"

Allahabad butcher: James George Smith Neill, Brig. Gen.


That India got her independence without bloodshed is not true. During the repressive rule by the British, scores of Indian lost their lives. This does not include the great famines of Bengal artificially created by one of the greatest British politicians and military leaders - Winston Churchill, to whom India's father of nation Mahatma Gandhiji was an anathema, a half-naked fakir. As for Indians and and other nationals, Churchill is a disgusting character whose pride goes before him.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre
(April 13, 1919), Punjab resulted in the death and serious injuries  of  scores of innocent men, women and children - it is yet another story written in blood. Like  Gen. Reginald Dyer, the man who master-minded the Punjab massacre, there was an equally vicious military officer with the EIC's  military stationed in Madras.  James Neill of the Madras Fusileers regiment played a vital role in putting down the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He was killed during the Siege of Lucknow and was reviled as the "Butcher of Allahabad" by the Indians. Lots of Indians are not aware of the British Army officer who was behind the killing of thousands of Indians during the Sepoy Mutiny and the accolades he won after this mass  slaughter operation.

Neill, born  near Dalry, Scotland and educated at the University of Glasgow, joined  the service of the British East India Company in 1827. From 1828 to 1852 he was  with the 1st Madras Europeans  and in 1852 he  successfully did his military duty in the Second Burmese War and later in the Crimean war. In 1857 he returned to India to resume his duty with the EIC  military.

Six weeks after his arrival,  many states in Northern  Indian   were in the grip of revolt  and rebellion by the Sepoys  against the British regime.  For some time the relationship between Indian soldiers and British military officers had been at the lowest ebb because of rampant racial discrimination, arrogance and above all blasphemy on the part of EIC and the British military officers. The simmering frustration and  hatred for the British had begun to boil and rear its ugly head. There  were some sporadic incidents of violence  and revolt in the Northern states of India. It all  began at the cantonment of Meerut, now in Madhya Pradesh. Because of poor handling and lack of restraints by the British rulers, it was turned into a towering inferno - worst up-raising in the British Empire called the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Brig. Gen. Neill responded quickly without weighing the pros and cons of after effects of his proposed move.  He went to Benaras (Varanasi) from Madras with his regiment  and upon his arrival on 3 June 1857, he preemptively disbanded the local native regiment consisting  mainly of  Sikhs stationed at Varanasi. Honestly speaking, they were very loyal. The Sikhs and others revolted  and later fled  the scene when  Neill's commanders began shooting at them indiscriminately.

atrocities at Jhansi.The Victorian Web

 At Allahabad, many  Europeans  were holed up in a fort fighting  against the rebels. General Neill arrived on 9th June  and immediately ordered the hanging of those mutineers. No formal inquiry and no remorse. One of his  officers made a critical comment, saying Neil  also  permitted his soldiers to kill the "native" people without any inquiry and  set them aflame in their houses.  What was once a small village became a mound of burning embers, ashes, and half-baked human skeletons sticking out here and there. Literally, the entire  small quiet village was wiped out on account of one man's fury. Brig. Gen. Neill. This massacre took the Indian across India and other countries by surprise and caused revulsion The  Sikh forces at   Jaunpur violently protested upon  seeing these massacres. Gen. Neil and his troops, from  June 6 to  June  15, acted violently  without any respite against the protesting Sepoys and the natives   and they violated every norm of war regulations.

1859. James George Neill, a hero in

The most disgusting and nauseating part of this revolt in which massacre was the key element orchestrated by Neill, the British higher-ups  rewarded him for his patriotic duty with a special appointment -  aide-De-camp to none other than the Queen of England. 

Gen. Henry Havelock, Sepoy rebellion

Gen, Henry Havelock's troops were busy in Allahabad having a pitched battle against the rebels and made some victories.  In the wake of the Bibighar massacre of British women and children at Kanpur - an unfortunate incident, perpetrated by the emotionally charged and rampaging  Indian soldiers, General Neill took the opportunity to get the devil out of him and  indulged in indiscriminate killings of Indians. He, in his capacity as a higher military officer, personally executed many of his prisoners under his very nose.  The British openly vowed to “meet cruelty with redoubled cruelty, terror with terror, blood with blood” and it is not a solution to a serious problem. 

Now his indulgence of violence with glee  against Indians reached the summit. In a disgusting and highly condemnable  episode, he forcefully  rounded up at random the Brahmins  from Kanpur, quite similar to the way cattle were rounded up by cowpokes in western movies,  and asked them to  wash up the blood of the Bibighar victims from the floor.  '' Saran states that the arrested rebels were forced to “clean the blood from the floor of the Bibighar compound”.  While Wilson claims that Neill forced the prisoners to “lick the blood from the floor while a European soldier lashed their backs with a whip”

Saran further writes: ''There are numerous accounts of the physical and psychological torture inflicted on those who were suspected of involvement in the massacre at Bibighar, as well as on those in the town who had known of the British women’s plight but had done nothing to assist them.  Those that survived their torture, were ultimately executed by various means – from shootings and hangings to other more sadistic methods.'' 

Cawnpore siege, 1857.

The merciless British soldiers, under the direction of Neil, kept on whipping them up with a bull's whip till they collapsed like  nine pins on the bowling alley.  Now, they successfully carried out one more final act  before the end of the show of mayhem and murder. All these innocent, unarmed  Brahmins,  were  summarily hanged to death. The unfortunate thing is they had nothing to do with the Bibighar massacre of the English people. Nor did those Brahmins take an active role in the  Sepoy revolt. This incident was  a blot on the British conscience and showed to the world how beastly and repressive the British soldiers and their superiors were.

Gen. Havelock,  due to  shortage of men, wanted to have reinforcements. A second expedition barely secured victory at Bithor (16 August) and  Havelock's men returned to Cawnpore, and cholera broke out there, The final advance - the famous march from Cawnpore to Lucknow  began on 18 September,  in spite acts of insubordination,  Havelock gave his rival a brigade command. The attack was delayed for various reasons and on  on the 25th he led the great attack on  Lucknow itself.  He fought furiously pushing the troop forward and Neil was killed in action  and  was shot in the head at Khas Bazaar, Lucknow  on 25 September 1857

'This is the end of Gen. Brig. James Neil of the  ‘Madras Fusiliers’, a European unit, to whom committing massacres is a noble way of expressing his patriotism to the British Crown and the Great Britain when their honor is in danger".


Butcher of Allahabad. Brig.Gen.James Neill

Memorials were erected  in Lucknow  named as "Neill Lines". Memorial at Residency reads : "Sacred to the memory of Brigadier General J.G.S. Neill A.D.C. to the Queen. An island in the Andaman's was named. The British rulers then chose to honor him by erecting a statue of him on arterial Mount Road in (then) Madras in 1860. It was  removed  in the 1960s after public protest. One man said who wanted a statue of a Scottish man who committed massacres against Indians on our own soil.