164 years ago, on 30 June 1857, the Chinhat area of today's Lucknow was covered in gore as Indians launched an attack against the East India Company. Led by sepoy mutineer, Barkat Ahmad, the village of Ismailganj was the first to fire upon the British troops, whereby, many of the enemy soldiers collapsed and the General ordered the rest to retreat. Let's revisit this small yet significant victory that transformed into a five-month-long siege of the British Residency in Lucknow.
A brave seige planned to regain independence
Sir Henry Lawrence, the Chief Commissioner of Oudh, had obtained intelligence that a rebel troop was heading towards Lucknow. Sensing an easy victory, he led his men in the direction of Chinhat to thwart the attack but his decision bore a catastrophic result. His army was fired upon from the Ismailganj village, which lasted for around an hour and then stopped abruptly.
This abruptness prompted Sir Lawrence to think that he had won the battle when in reality, Indian soldiers were simply lumbering up their guns for the next round. Caught by surprise with deadly fire pouring in from every direction, many enemy soldiers were wounded and some died as well. All those who could manage to escape the gunpower and heat-induced exhaustion were ordered to retreat to Lucknow.
Chinhat was under the grip of Indians who continued to launch their siege at the British Residency for the coming five months. However, they were met with a fierce retort once the relief mission led by the then Commander-in-Chief of India, Sir Colin Campbell, came to the defence of the East India Company stationed at Lucknow.
The Indian soldiers who fought the Battle of Chinhat are remembered till today as the anniversary of this fierce battle is celebrated by many with nationalist fervour. Further, the residents of Lucknow have requested that a victory memorial for this battle should be maintained in this area. Whether the request is meted or not, we hope that this article reminds you to light a candle to remember the brave souls who fought for the freedom of India, every year on 30 June.