The appeal failed and Jhansi was annexed to British administration. The
Queen was given a humiliating monthly pension of five thousand rupees, which was too small even to maintain her small band of followers. The British thought that in all probability she may leave Jhansi and go to her father's shelter. But the courageous queen decided not to leave her domain at any cost, and got ready to face the consequences.
The rebellion against British by the sepoys broke out at Meerut and Delhi on the 10th of May 1857. Gradually it spread to other parts of northern India. Jhansi claimed authority of the queen Lakshmibai on 9th of June. From that date till the 4th of April 1858, Lakshmibai defended her fort against Sir Hugh Rose. But realizing that her position was becoming weak by hours, she made a adventurous escape from Jhansi fort through the cordon of British troops, on horseback and went to Kalpi and joined the indomitable Tantia Topi
(a.k.a Tatia Topi) who had taken on the British relentlessly. They together started recruiting soldiers from Oudh and Doab. The Rajputs and Brahmins, comprised infantry; Rohillas and Muslims formed cavalry. The
Queen personally lead the newly formed battalion. She used to dress in military uniform of crimson jacket, crimson trousers and a white turban. It was impossible to tell her
kamat.com/Kamat's Potpourri Sculpture of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi
But General Rose captured Kalpi, from which Lakshmibai's troops were fighting the British. The
Queen and Tantia Topi fled to the jungle. General Rose thinking that the rebellion was over, left and issued orders to disband his troops.
At this juncture, the Rani and Tantia Topi astounded the British by capturing the fort of Gwalior which had good store of arms and ammunition on the 4th of June 1858. It was the hottest part of summer season. The
ruler of Gwalior fled and all his troops joined the Rani of Jhansi! Now the rebel army had a equipped contingent, well trained in
the British way of warfare.
The ruler of Gwalior was protégé of the British and General Rose, reached Morar on the border of Gwalior. Stores and ammunitions were seized with the help of his huge army, on 16th of June. Next day, General Rose crossed Gwalior and met Rani's cavalry, which she was personally leading. The old fashioned muzzle-loaders and clumsy swords of
Lakshmibai's troops were no match against well-equipped British army. In the battle that ensued, the Rani fought bravely but was killed. Thus died the young and brave queen
far away from her beloved Jhansi overpowered by a superior force.
Rani Lakshmibai is described as a very pretty lady with round face, very delicately shaped nose and bright eyes. She was of medium height and neither stout nor lean. Her portrait with sword and shield shows a determined and pensive expression.
The Bravery of Lakshmibai in Indian Art
The bravery of Lakshmibai has inspired many ballads,
legends, paintings and sculptures. Here's a collection of pictures from
Kamat Picture Archive
Rashrothana Parishad/Kamat's Potpourri Laxmibai, the Queen of Jhansi Indian Queen dressed for battle to defend her kingdom against the British
K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri Queen of Jhansi, Laxmibai Painting by Rudrakumar Jha
K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri Indian Stamp Honoring Laxmibai of Jhansi Detail from a Indian postal stamp
kamat.com/Kamat's Potpourri Queen of Jhansi at Battlefield
kamat.com/Kamat's Potpourri Queen of Jhansi by Mahadev Vishvanath Dhurandhar, 1927 (Picture Courtesy: Annette Biggs)
The Sepoy Mutiny -- The ''Sepoy Mutiny'' is a remarkable event in Indian history, marking the end of the Mogul empire and sealing India's fate as a British colony.
Old-timey Education -- Dr. Jyotsna Kamat hosts an amusing online exhibition of historical artifacts on education in India through the centuries