Although the revolt was a big event in the history of India, it had very little chance of success against an organized and powerful enemy. The revolt was suppressed within a little over a year of its outbreak. There were many reasons for its failure.
1. The revolt did not spread to all parts of the country. Nor was it supported by all groups and sections of the Indian society. South and West India remained largely outside the fold of the revolt. Many Indian rulers refused to help the rebels and some were openly hostile to the rebels and helped the British in suppressing eh revolt. The middle and upper classes and the modern educated Indians also did not support the revolt.
2. The revolt was an un-organized effort. The rebels lacked an ideology or programme which could be implemented in the captured areas. None of them knew what to do after the capture of a region.
3. The leadership of the movement was weak. Most of its leaders lacked a national perspective and were motivated by narrow, personal gains. They fought to liberate only their own territories. No national leaders emerged to coordinate the movement and give it a purpose and direction.
4. The rebels were short of weapons and finances. Whatever few weapons existed were outdated and no match for the sophisticated and modern weapons of the British. The rebels were also poorly organized. The uprisings in different parts of the country were uncoordinated. Often the sepoys were an uncontrolled group of people. They were unable to carry through their early military successes.
The revolt of 1857 was a landmark event in the history of India. It was the first great struggle of the Indians for freedom from British imperialism. The period after the revolt saw major changes in British policies and in the administrative set-up of India. Broadly speaking, the revolt sowed the seeds of nationalism in the minds of the Indian masses.