What was the character of the Revolt of 1857? Why was the Revolt a failure?


a. Character of the Revolt of 1857:

Opinions vary as regards the nature or character of the Revolt of 1857. However, the opinion of modern historians on this issue may be considered as valid.

They have opined that though the Revolt had behind in the discontent of the sepoys, it did not remain confined to the sepoys alone. Modern historians point out that the participation of different classes of people irrespective of their class and creed clearly indicate the popular nature of the Revolt of 1857.


In support of the opinion expressed by the modern historians it may be said that at various place in the northern and central India, the common people had revolted along with the sepoys.

In some places common people came forward to fight against the English with ordinary weapons even before the sepoys had raised the banner of rebellion.

The nearby English factories were the chief targets of their attacks. In some areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar peasants and artisans rebelled against the English rulers as also the zamindars, a new class created by them.

The rebels even did not hesitate to swarm into the court and treasury. Indeed, the participation of the common people gave Revolt its popular character.


b. Why the Revolt was unsuccessful:

Revolt of 1857 was a failure. Apart from the military weaknesses of the mutineers and the faulty leadership, there were deeper social factors responsible for the failure of the Revolt. The Indian mutineers remained disorganized from the very beginning.

Secondly, the Revolt of 1857 also failed due to the lack of leadership. The Leaders, in fact, could not lead the rebels of the whole country.

Thirdly, there was hardly any coordination among the forces fighting in different regions. Moreover, since, the rebels had no common end in view the Revolt could not be as intense as it should have been.


Fourthly, the Revolt of 1857 failed because the English were militarily superior to the sepoys.

Fifthly, machine- guns had always played an important role in the military activities of the English in Asia. It was also with the help of machine-guns that the British soldiers could easily crush the strongholds of the mutineers.

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