Pattern 1853 Enfield rifles introduced by the British started the 1957 great revolt in India against the British

1957 Enfield rifle,

1857 revolt, India. Enfield rifles

Enfield pattern 1853 musket cartridges

Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle.1857 revolt India.

Above images: 01. Enfield Pattern 53 rifle widely used by the British Army was designed by RSAF Enfield. The weapon  weighed 9.5 pounds unloaded and was about 55 inches in length.

1857 revolt, India. Enfield rifles.

02. The “cartridge”in use for the Enfield Pattern at 53 at the time wasnot made of brass as we know  of it  today; it was primarily   paper-wrapped gunpowder and projectile. Military drills at that point of time required the soldiers  to bite to open the cartridge, then pour the gunpowder contained down the barrel and finally ram the cartridge with the bullet down the barrel. Upon setting the sights and adding a percussion cap,  the rifle was ready to be fired. The Instruction of Musketry at the time suggested that In case of loss of lubrication due to melting of the grease the instruction was that   the bullet should be wetted in the mouth so that the saliva would act as the grease.

03. An interesting fact is in India under the EIC rule when the revolt against the British was on both the British army and the rebels used the  Enfield Pattern 53. However, in many places majority of the Indian soldiers relied on the old Brown Bess rather than EnField 53.  

04.  Besides India  the historical event in which both opposing sides had used EnField Pattern 53 was  the American Civil War of 1776 between the Confederates and the Union. It is to be noted that the Enfield Pattern 53 was the second most widely used infantry weapon in the war—surpassed only by the Springfield Model 1861 Rifled Muskets.

05. The Confederates relied more on the imported Enfield Pattern 53 rifles from 1861 through 1865 than any other small arm, and this included purchases from private contractors and gun runners

06. Though the advent of  Pattern 53 ushered in a new era of the rifle, its usage did not last for a long period.Reason: A better mechanism called  breech-loading technology had an advantage over the Pattern 53. Similar to the conversion of   many muskets in to rifles, the Pattern 53 was converted to a breech-loading firearm as the .577 Snider-Enfield.  It used  a new Boxer cartridge that replaced the paper and powder with a metal cased cartridge.

07. The Snider-Enfield appeared to be more accurate and better than the Pattern 53.  With  the breech-loader  a  trained soldier could fire up to 10 aimed rounds per minute whereas  only three from the muzzle loading rifle. From 1866 many Enfields were converted but new Snider-Enfields  but its use was shorter-lived than Pattern 53. Martini-Henry from 1871 became a useful weapon in the wars and  Snider-Enfields were relegated to the back with the second line troops till 1901.  .


1857 revolt, India, 
In the ''Indian History of Freedom Struggle'' against the corrupt East India company and later against the Raj under the British crown, the most significant event - a turning point was that of the Great War of Independence  (then often referred to as  the Sepoy mutiny) of 1857.  Exploitation and cheating galore, the  exasperated natives were pushed to the edge of the cliff as the atrocities by the British peaked far beyond the limits of tolerance. 

Students of Indian history know how the revolt was started off on a large scale at Meerut Cantonment, United Provinces (now Uttar pradesh).  The revolt of May 10, 1857 at Meerut  had it roots in  Barrackpore Garrison  in the Bengal Presidency against the British officers. It was  first initiated  by  Indian soldiers there.  The tinder box of pent up anger and abomination against the unjust foreign rule  was ignited by a small spark. It was that of greased cartridges (laced with the  fats of cows and pigs) of the latest Pattern 1853 Enfield rifles vehemently introduced by  the British government in August 1856.
Use of enfield rifle.

 The outer covering of the gunpowder cartridges greased with animal fat had to be opened by  biting  them in the mouth before the rifles could be loaded. Both Muslim and Hindu soldiers - sepoys, having come to know about the presence of animal fat became furious and refused to use them. The cow's pat and that of pig were taboo to the Hindus and muslims respectively.   This was unanimously refused by both the Hindu and Muslim sepoys. The Hindu solidifiers  saw it as an attempt to convert them into Christianity and the Muslims looked upon it as an insult to their deep-rooted faith. Ignominy was writ on their face and a tense situation has developed in the garrison.  

The indignation  reached to such an extent on March 29, 1857, Mangal Pandey, a sepoy of the Bengal Army at Barrackpore parade ground refused to bite off the end of his Enfield cartridge and opened fired on his sergeant Major James Hewson and Lt. Henry Baugh who came out to investigate the unrest later. His unexpected act did not get any response from  fellow soldiers and  he made a futile attempt to commit suicide but ended up wounding himself.  The infuriated British army  court-martialed him on April 6, 1857 and  hanged him to death on  April 8, 1857.

Meerut army Cantonment, the second largest  under the EIC's rule  had  2,357 Indian sepoys and 2,038 British soldiers with 12 British-manned guns.  On April 24, 1857 Lieutenant Colonel George Carmichael-Smyth, the commanding officer of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry, got angry and  85 of his men faced  court-martial on May 9, 1857 for refusing his orders to parade and perform firing drills. As they wantonly refused to use the greased  cartridges and disobeyed orders 11 soldiers were imprisoned for 5 years  and the rest  were sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment. 

The British army, instead being cool, instigated the Indian soldiers of   the 11th and 20th cavalry  assembled there. In the initial protest they opened the gate of the jail and all the sepoys along with 800 other prisoners escaped.  Chaos descended on the army  camp and along with  the 3rd regiment, the rebel soldiers  attacked the remaining British Troops.

The garrison in Meerut was the first to record the event of bloody uprising On the evening of Sunday, May 10, 1857 a small protest mushroomed into a hell-bent bloody riots that resulted in murdering of the British in sight and torching of  half the houses in the station. Countless  church goers for the evening service at St. John's were caught unawares. In the melee   50 British including soldiers, women and children were killed in Meerut by the rebels. The revolt had spread to  Cawnpore (Kanpur) city where  200 European men, women, and children were put to death by the rioting mobs. Vigilante justice was on the mind of the British army and  suspected rebels  were  hanged to death and tied to the mouth of the cannons and executed by the army. The retaliation resulted in the death of more than 100,000 Indians. However, unofficial estimate puts the total death between 500000 to one million. The Crown administration, London took over the direct administration after the relion was put down in the later part of 1957. India being the prime source of revenue for the British, the British never loosened their grip on India till 1947.