by Garry James
From Dixie Gun Works Blackpowder Annual

Throughout the villages of Northern India, chupattis (unleavened bread cakes) were passed from hand to hand--silent messengers that the hour of the "Devil's Wind" was near.

For had not the fakirs prophesied that 100 years after the fateful battle of Plassey, where the British had consolidated their control of India, Muslim and Hindu brothers would join forces and rise up to overthrow the despotic rule of these Feringhees (English)?  That time--1857--had come.

Bahadur Shah, the Honourable East India Company's 89-year-old puppet Mughal emperor, sat amidst his harem in Delhi's Red Fort dreaming of India's bejeweled past.  At the same time, princes and priests were clandestinely plotting to recapture those jewels from the corrupt "John" Company and set them in the hilts of a thousand razor sharp tulwars.  All that was needed to touch off this poweder keg of hate was the proper spark.

Ironically, the British themselves would provide that spark.  It came, innocuously enough, in the form of a new-pattern, general issue muzzle loading rifle musket.

Since the mid-1840s, the British Board of Ordnance had been studying various rifles, with the eventual aim of replacing the older Pattern-1842 smoothbores then in service.


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