Western Bihar Campaign

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Babu Kunwar Singh (recorded as Koer Singh in British accounts) was a wealthy land owner in the Shahabad district who joined the insurgents soon after the mutiny at Dinapore. He commanded the rebels at the Siege of Arrah. After Arrah was relieved he was pursued to Jagdishpur by Major Eyre who dispersed the rebels and blew up the stronghold on 15 August 1857. During the Siege of Lucknow Kunwar Singh remained in western Bihar. After the relief in March 1858 he occupied Atraulia. Colonel Milman attempted to engage the rebels but was forced to retreat (see Battle of Atrowlee).

Azimgurh was then besieged. Lord Mark Kerr came from Benares but his force was too small to effect a relief (First Relief of Azimgurh). Sir Edward Lugard set out from Lucknow and, after defeating rebels at an action at Tigra, compelled Kunwar Singh's forces to with draw from Azimgarh. Lugard then sent Brigadier John Douglas (79th Highlanders) in pursuit of Kunwar Singh. Fighting a series of rearguard actions, Kunwar Singh managed to cross the Ganges, though wounded, and unite with his brother Amar Singh at Jagdispur but he died. Captain Le Grand, then at Arrah, determined to attack the rebels but badly handled the assault and was thrown back with heavy casualties: Le Grand and two other officers, 102 men of the 35th Regiment, 19 sailors and 9 Sikhs.

Lugard and Douglas continued to pursue the rebels under Amar Singh and fought successfully at Hatampur, Jathin and Dalilpur. They were not able to crush the enemy however who divided their force into small parties and fought guerrilla actions during May 1858. In the middle of June Lugard resigned the command due to ill health. Douglas took over and organised armed posts across the area connected by roads through the jungle to respond swiftly to any outbreak. In October the rebels were surrounded by seven columns but managed to break through. Eventually Sir Henry Havelock with a small force of fast moving mounted riflemen harried the remaining rebel force until a final action at Salia Dahar broke the resistance at the end of November. Amar Singh is believed to have escaped to Nepal.

External links

Kunwar Singh and Lord Mark Kerr www.ibiblio.org
Kunwar Singh at Bay in Western Bihar www.ibiblio.org

Historical books on-line

"Kaye's and Malleson's History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8" Western Bihar Campaign archive.org