White Mutiny (1859-1861)

The white Mutiny (1859- 1861) was the largest revolt, the British army faced ever. It was a revolt of European troops of East India Company against their transfer to the service of the Queen of England.

Reason for White mutiny:

In the wake of the transfer of power from the British East India Company to the British Crown, a section of European forces employed under the company resented the move which required the presidency armies to transfer their allegiance from the defunct Company to the Queen, as in British army. Due to this resentment unrest in the British army was termed as White Mutiny.

There were two separate military forces under British control operating in India before 1861. One was Queen’s army and the other were the units of East India Company (EIC).

  • The Company’s troops were a mixture of “European” regiments of Britons recruited specifically for service in India and “Native” regiments recruiting from the locality with British officers.
  • The Company (EIC) troops received “Batta” extra allowances of pay to cover various expenditures relating to operations out of the home territories, but the Batta was stopped with the transfer of power.
  • Lord Canning’s legalistic interpretation of the laws surrounding the transfer also infuriated the affected white soldiers.
  • The laws were quite clear and the legality of the transfer was well established, but because both the British government and the Government of India ignored the views of those it was to affect, the officers and men of the European Forces were alienated to the point of open mutiny.
  • The dissimilarities in the physical makeup of these two forces led to many cultural differences in how they operated and how they viewed each other. These cultural differences led to deep misunderstandings between the two forces
Result and significances of White Mutiny:

This mutiny of the European Forces was seen as a potential threat to already precarious British Rule in India with the potential of inciting renewed rebellion among the “still excited population throughout India”.

  • The aim of the mutiny was highly successful.
  • The demands of European Forces officers were centralized around a demand for either an enlistment bonus or a choice of release from their obligations.
  • Events that had occurred at some of the installations, including open rebellion and physical violence both on the part of the men and the officers of the European Forces, were such that there was little possibility of the European Forces being generally accepted into the Queen’s Army.
  • Finally, the demand of free and clear release with free passage home was accepted, and those troops opted to return home.

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References: Spectrum Modern History Book

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_mutiny

 

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