What factors were responsible for the initial successes of the rebels in 1857 and the ultimate success of the British. Explain why the revolt left a legacy of bitterness and hatred on both sides. What areas were unaffected by the Revolt?
Faced with the prospect of the extinction of their power in India, the British refers poured in immense resources in arms and men to suppress the uprising and conquer afresh large parts of northern and central India. The rebels fought back heroically but could not hold out for long due to certain weaknesses. They had failed to evolve a unified command and even though rebel soldiers and leaders moved from one place to another to fight ferocious battles, a common strategy to overthrow foreign rule was lacking. While people from many parts of the country did not join in the revolt, most rulers of Indian states and big zaimdars, many of them creations of British rule, activelly supported the British. The British troops reoccupied Delhi in September 1857 and Bahadur Shah II was captured, tried and exiled to Rangoon where he died in 1862. By the middle of 1858, most of the major centres of revolt such as Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Jhansi and Gwalior had been reoccupied by the British troops under John Nicholson, John and Henry Larence, Henry Havelock, Colin Campbell, James Outram and James Neill. However, it took the British another year to compete their reconquest of northern and central India. By that time most of the leaders of the uprising had either been killed in battle or had been captured and hanged and a few had to take shelter outside India. The suppression of the uprising was accompanied by brutal massacres, mass executions, devastation of vast areas, and arson and plunder. In Awadh alone about 150,000 people of whom 100,000 were civilians, were killed by the British. The uprising and its suppression marked the end of a phase in the History of British rule in India. The memories of the great uprising continued to haunt the British rulers for long and to inspire the people of India in their struggle for freedom.