Jhansi, Siege of


Jhansi, Siege of
(1858)
   A battle of the Indian Mutiny of 1857–1858. The strongest position of the rebels in Central India was the city of Jhansi, 130 miles south of Agra, dominated by a fort. Inside the fort there was a foundry capable of manufacturing cast iron mortars. On March 22, 1858, British General Sir Hugh Rose, commanding the Central India Force, laid siege to Jhansi. When Tantia Tope with 20,000 men attempted to relieve Jhansi, on April 1, Rose defeated him on the bank of River Betwa. On April 3, Rose’s troops opened the assault on Jhansi. Once the breaching batteries had blasted the walls of the city, the British troops entered the town. A grim hand to hand struggle broke out in the narrow streets and houses within the city. Jhansi was defended by 1,500 sepoys and 9,500 rebels armed with matchlocks, but they failed before the siege guns and professional infantry of Rose. On April 4, the Rani Lakshmi Bai, a charismatic woman who led the mutineers of Jhansi - rani is Hindi for “queen” -fled and on April 6 all resistance ended.
   FURTHER READING:
    David, Saul. Th e Indian Mutiny, 1857. London: Viking, 2002;
    Harris, John. The Indian Mutiny. London: Wordsworth Editions, 2000;
    Watson, Bruce. The Great Indian Mutiny. New York: Praeger, 1991.
   KAUSHIK ROY

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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