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The Indian Mutiny

British rulers were shaken to the core by the Indian Mutiny of 1857. The spark which lit the fuse of the rebellion was when cartridges were given to Indian troops which were coated in grease, made from cow or pig fat. These cartridges had to be prepared for firing by being bitten at one end. The cow is a sacred animal to the Hindus and the pig is regarded as unclean by Muslims, so no one was happy.

Indian troops refused to bite the cartridges. Their British officers hanged a few. The troops rioted. They killed their officers, ransacked Delhi, and massacred British men, women and children. For a long time it looked as if the British might be defeated.

The rebellion was about more than just biting cartridges. It was a revolt against taxation and the laws of the East India Company, which ruled India for Britain. After the mutiny, the British were a lot more careful about how they governed India.

When the news of the mutiny reached England, crowds bayed for blood and Victoria was horrified. Seventy thousand troops were sent to India, armed with the new Colt revolvers made popular by the U.S. Cavalry. Revenge was terrible and swift. Rioters were tortured, butchered and blown from cannons.

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