Lucknow Residency, Siege of


Lucknow Residency, Siege of
(1857)
   A central drama of the Indian Mutiny. When the sepoy regiments in Lucknow, on the Gumti River 270 miles east of Delhi, mutinied, the British residents and soldiers took shelter within the Lucknow Residency. In the residency, there were 855 British soldiers and 153 male civilians. In addition, there were 500 women and children. About 712 Indian soldiers remained loyal. On June 30, 1857, 10,000 rebels - sepoys and townsmen - laid siege to the residency. The residency was an imposing building. It was in three stories with a lofty colonnaded verandah. The outer part was barricaded with chests and boxes. A spiral staircase led to the roof from which one could gain an elevated view of the city and the adjoining countryside. A line of parapet and a ditch shielded the residency compound. Guns and mortars protected the parapet. The British officers feared that the rebels might receive reinforcement from Kanpur. So a battery was constructed to enfilade the road from Kanpur. During the siege mutineer sharpshooters, who took positions along the mosques and houses surrounding the residency, caused most of the losses to the garrison. Before the outbreak of the mutiny, Henry Lawrence, the British chief commissioner, was repeatedly requested by the engineers to demolish all these buildings, but had always replied to “spare the holy places, and private property too as far as possible.” Despite their numerical superiority, the failure of the rebels to take residency reflected their inadequacy in waging siege warfare by scientific methods. First, rebel bombardment by the heavy guns failed to destroy the British batteries within the residency. Second, both the defenders of the residency and the rebels resorted to mining and counter-mining to blow each other’s positions; however, the British always had the upper hand by virtue of their training in engineering operations. The siege was relieved when Sir Colin Campbell ’s force reached Lucknow in November 17, 1857, but the residency was not retaken until March 1858.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    David, Saul. Th e Indian Mutiny, 1857. London, Viking, 2002;
    Farwell, Byron. Queen Victoria ’ s Little Wars. New York: W. W. Norton, 1972.
   KAUSHIK ROY

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

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