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Emperors - Surrender of Bahadur Shah Zafar and his sons (Siege of Delhi in 1857)

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January 1, 1857
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Mirza Firuz Shah
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People
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Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857

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Capture of Bahadur-Shah-Zafar and his sons by William Hodson at Humayun's tomb on 20 September 1857 The cost to the British, Company, and loyal Indian armies in besieging Delhi from the start of the siege to the capture of the city was 1,254 killed, and 4,493 wounded, of which 992 were killed, 2,795 were wounded and 30 missing in action during the last six days of brutal fighting in the city during the final assault. Of that total of 3,817 casualties during the capture of the city, 1,677 were loyalist Indian soldiers. It is almost impossible to say how many rebels and their supporters were killed during the siege, but the number was far greater. Unofficial sources place the rebel casualties at over 5,000. It is also impossible to estimate how many civilians died during the fighting in Delhi which included those killed by the rebels, those killed by the British, or those killed randomly and accidentally in the cross-fire. After the siege, many civilians were subsequently expelled from the city to makeshift camps in the nearby countryside, as there was no way of feeding them until order was restored to the entire area. The British, Sikh and Pakhtun soldiers were all fairly callous with regard to life. For four days, after the fall of the city, there was extensive looting, although many British soldiers were more interested in drink than material possessions. Prize agents later moved into the city behind the troops, and organised the search for concealed treasure on a more systematic basis. But the British, eager to avenge the killing of several of their countryfolk in Delhi, Cawnpore, and elsewhere in India, were in no mood to take prisoners. Several hundred rebel prisoners as well as suspected rebels and sympathisers were subsequently hanged without a trial or much legal process. In many cases, the officers of the "Queen's" Army were inclined to be lenient, but East India Company officials such as Theophilus Metcalfe were vengeful.


Bahadur-Shah and three of his sons had taken refuge at Humayun's-Tomb, 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Delhi. Although he was urged to accompany Bakht Khan and rally more troops, the aged King was persuaded that the British were seeking vengeance only against the sepoys they regarded as mutineers, and he would be spared. On 20 September, a party under William Hodson took him into custody on promise of clemency, and brought him back to the city. The next day, Hodson also took prisoner three of Bahadur Shah's sons, but with no guarantee of any sort. On the pretext that a mob was about to release them, Hodson executed the three princes at Khooni Darwaza (Bloody gate).:400 Their heads were later presented to Bahadur-Shah. By recapturing the Indian capital city, the British and Company forces dealt the Indian Army mutineers a major military and psychological blow, while releasing troops to assist in the relief of Lucknow, thus contributing to another British victory. A total of 29 Victoria Crosses were awarded to recipients for bravery in the Siege of Delhi. A Delhi clasp was authorised for the Indian Mutiny Medal.


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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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