Monday, May 19, 2014

Nanasahib Peshwa - 1857 India Freedom War Leader

Birth 19 May 1824

In 1827 he was adopted by Peshwa.

He was denied the pension given to his father as he was an adopted son. He took active part in the 1857 war against British.

On 6 June 1857, at the time of the rebellion by forces of the East India Company at Cawnpore, Nanasahib and his forces entered the British magazine situated in the northern part of the town. The soldiers of the 53rd Native Infantry, who were guarding the magazine, thought that Sahib had come to guard the magazine on behalf of the Company. However, once he entered the magazine, Nana Sahib announced that he was a participant in the rebellion against the Company. After taking possession of the Company treasury, Sahib advanced up the Grand Trunk Road stating that he wanted to restore the Maratha confederacy under the Peshwa tradition, and decided to capture Cawnpore. On his way, Sahib met the rebel Company soldiers at Kalyanpur. Sahib wanted them to join his forces and they agreed.

On 6 June, his forces (including the rebel soldiers) attacked the Company soldiers gathered at an entrenchment at 10:30 am The Company forces  managed to defend themselves as the attacking forces were reluctant to enter the entrenchment. The Indian forces laid the siege and waited. The Company forces  held out in their makeshift fort for three weeks with little water and food supplies, and lost many lives due to sunstroke and lack of water.

As the news of advances over the capture of  British garrison spread, several more rebel sepoys joined Peshwa's forces. By 10 June, he was believed to be leading around twelve thousand to fifteen thousand Indian soldiers.During the first week of the siege, the Nana Sahib's forces encircled the attachment, created loopholes and established firing positions from the surrounding buildings. The defending Captain John Moore retaliated and launched night-time sorties. The Nana Sahib withdrew his headquarters to Savada House (or Savada Kothi), which was situated around two miles away.

The sniper fire and the bombardment continued until 23 June 1857, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Plassey. The Battle of Plassey, which took place on 23 June 1757, was one of the pivotal battles leading to the expansion of the East India Company rule in India.  This prompted the rebel soldiers under Nana Sahib to launch a major attack on the entrenchment on 23 June 1857. However, they were unable to gain an entry into the entrenchment by the end of the day.

The entrenchment had been steadily losing its soldiers and civilians to successive bombardments, sniper fire, and assaults from the attackers. It was also suffering from disease and low supplies of food, water and medicine. The Nana Sahib and his advisers came up with a plan to end the deadlock. On 24 June, he sent a female European prisoner, Rose Greenway, to the entrenchment to convey their message. In return for a surrender, he promised the safe passage of the Europeans to the Satichaura Ghat, a dock on the Ganges from which they could depart for Allahabad. Next day, on 25 June, Nana Sahib sent a second note, signed by himself, through another female prisoner, Mrs. Jacobi.  Finally, the company force decided to surrender, in return for a safe passage to Allahabad. After a day of preparation and burying their dead, the Europeans decided to leave for Allahabad on the morning of 27 June 1857. But when, the forces had started in their boats, there were gun shots and confusion and the soldiers were killed by many rebels who assembled on the banks of Ganga.

The East India Company sent forces to recapture Cawnpore and they reached Cawnpore on 16 July 1857. General Havelock was the commander of the forces and he was informed that Sahib had taken up a position at the Ahirwa village. His forces launched an attack on Sahib's forces, and emerged victorious. Sahib then blew up the Cawnpore magazine, abandoned the place, and retreated to Bithoor. On 19 July, General Havelock attacked Bithoor, but Nana Sahib had already left it and his palace at Bithoor was occupied without resistance. The British troops seized guns, elephants and camels, and set fire to Sahib's palace.

Thus, he disappeared at the of the war. His whereabouts are still under investigation and debate.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know Nana Saheb Peshwa was adopted. But yes nana saheb had taken active part in battel of panipat. He was really great man.