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The rumour regarding cartridges greased with religiously objectionable material first appeared at the Dum-Dum training depot. On 22 January 1857, Lieutenant Wright (70th Native Infantry) reported to his commander a “very unpleasant feeling among the native soldiers… regarding the grease used in preparing the cartridges, some evil-disposed person having spread a report that it consisted of a mixture of the fat of pigs and cows.” Lieutenant Wright continued that a worker at the arsenal had been rebuked by a sepoy of the 2nd Grenadiers after the former asked for a drink from the latter’s canteen. Refused because of a difference in caste, the worker retorted the soldier “‘will soon lose your caste, as ere long you will have to bite cartridges covered with the fat of pigs and cows,’ or words to that effect.” The last phrase emphasizes that this report consisted of rumour, not an exact quote. Major-General Hearsey, commander of the Barrackpore cantonment forwarded a slightly modified version to the Secretary of the Government of India on 11 February, which changed what the laborer said to “the Sahib-logue will make you bite cartridges soaked in cow and pork-fat.” In either case, it implies that grease covered the whole of the cartridge, which, as we have seen, is incorrect.
The “Greased Cartridge Affair:” Re-Examining the Pattern 1853 Enfield Cartridge and its Role in the Indian Mutiny of 1857

The “Greased Cartridge Affair:” Re-Examining the Pattern 1853 Enfield Cartridge and its Role in the Indian Mutiny of 1857

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Contributed

Daniel R. LeClair

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Subject:

Military Science

Subclass:

Infantry

Reign:

Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857

Subject Year (Time):

1857

Author:

Daniel R. LeClair

Languages:

English

Royal Mughal Ref:

ARC-15112021-1001

Date of Creation:

July 31, 2015

The “Greased Cartridge Affair:” Re-Examining the Pattern 1853 Enfield Cartridge and its Role in the Indian Mutiny of 1857
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Description

The rumour regarding cartridges greased with religiously objectionable material first appeared at the Dum-Dum training depot. On 22 January 1857, Lieutenant Wright (70th Native Infantry) reported to his commander a “very unpleasant feeling among the native soldiers… regarding the grease used in preparing the cartridges, some evil-disposed person having spread a report that it consisted of a mixture of the fat of pigs and cows.” Lieutenant Wright continued that a worker at the arsenal had been rebuked by a sepoy of the 2nd Grenadiers after the former asked for a drink from the latter’s canteen. Refused because of a difference in caste, the worker retorted the soldier “‘will soon lose your caste, as ere long you will have to bite cartridges covered with the fat of pigs and cows,’ or words to that effect.” The last phrase emphasizes that this report consisted of rumour, not an exact quote. Major-General Hearsey, commander of the Barrackpore cantonment forwarded a slightly modified version to the Secretary of the Government of India on 11 February, which changed what the laborer said to “the Sahib-logue will make you bite cartridges soaked in cow and pork-fat.” In either case, it implies that grease covered the whole of the cartridge, which, as we have seen, is incorrect.

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