British Possessions and Protectorates on the Eve of the Indian Mutiny 1857


Map Code: Ax02993

The period 1839 to 1857 was, as far as the East India Company was concerned, a frantic time of empire-building. The First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42) saw a British defeat, followed by a terrible retribution and a return to the status quo. The annexation of Sind (1843) was announced in General Napier’s laconic telegram to the Governor-General, saying simply “Peccavi”, Latin for “I have sinned”. The First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–46) resulted in the ceding of Kashmir to the British. The second Anglo-Sikh War (1848–49) led to the annexation of Punjab in 1849. Following the Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852–53) the province of Pegu was annexed and renamed Lower Burma. The cost of this expansion to the Company was huge and had little or no benefit for the increasing number of people under the Company’s rule. The wars of expansion were fought by the Company’s three Presidency armies (Bengal, Bombay and Madras), made up mainly of locally recruited sepoy soldiers who were increasingly required to fight far from their familiar home regions. This demand took them as far east as Burma and as far west as Yemen in south Arabia, where the Company had occupied the port of Aden in 1838–39 to secure the route to India. Resentment built up among the common soldiers, which would be the undoing of the East India Company’s rule in India.

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