What Were Some of the Causes of the Sepoy Muntiny?

The cause of the Sepoy Mutiny, also known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857, is often attributed to the incident which is believed to have sparked the uprising: the opposition by Hindu and Muslim soldiers in the British Army of Bengal, known as “sepoys,” to the issue of ammunition for the new 1853 Enfield rifle that came pregreased in paper cartridges. The native soldiers were expected to bite off the ends of the ammunition’s paper cartridge in order to load their rifles. Because the cartridges were pregreased with fat made from beef and pork fat, which are forbidden in the Hindu and the Muslim faiths respectively, the native soldiers felt that their British rulers were requiring them to act against their religious observances.

Some scholars consider the term “mutiny” as demeaning. The uprising by the native soldiers is now viewed by many historians as part of a broad-based civil insurrection and war of national liberation. British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, in a July 27, 1857, speech to the House of Commons, reacted to news of the uprising by attributing the revolt to widespread Indian resentment towards the overall conduct of British rule. In his speech, which was transcribed verbatim and widely distributed, the British prime minister noted contributing causes of the insurrection such as the forcible dispossession of native princes by British authorities, along with seizure of property and interference in the religious beliefs of the Indian people.