SIR GEORGE GREY AND THE INDIAN %REBELLION The Unmaking and Making of an Imperial Career
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Military science (General)
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
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THROUGHOUT his professional life, Sir George Grey's livelihood was interwoven with the British Empire. He served with the eighty-third Infantry Regiment in Ireland, led two exploratory expeditions to Western Australia, acted as colonial governor in New Zealand and the Cape Colony, and enjoyed a career in New Zealand politics. His actions during the 1857 Indian Rebellion, however, generated the most lasting discussion and public debate. As governor of the Cape Colony and high commissioner of South Africa in 1857, Grey contributed regiments, horses and artillery to British efforts in India. Additionally, he reportedly redirected troops bound for China and mobilised volunteers from the German Legion stationed in South Africa to fight in India—all without waiting for the consent of officials in London. He has been both highly praised and heavily criticised for his actions. From his first dispatch during the revolt until well after his death in 1898, Grey's contemporaries sought to understand and explain his role in the suppression of the uprising. Grey's decisions have continued to spark similar discussion among historians. As Leigh Dale has recently noted, 'Grey's reputation – and debates about it – span the English speaking world." Much of the scholarship examining Grey's response to the Indian Rebellion has judged his actions, either favourably or critically, in an effort to understand them. In 1961, J. Rutherford argued that Grey, when left to his own discretion, acted admirably and offered considerable assistance to the British in India. However, the eventual intervention of London officials put Grey on the defensive. As a result, according to Rutherford, when orders from London did not suit Grey's own ambitions, he was much less cooperative and did
* I would like to thank Simon Potter and Zot Laidlaw fo; their comments on early drafts of this chapter.
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Very good information.
Shah Sharaf Barlas
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