HomePOPULARTantia Tope role and contribution in the Indian freedom struggle

Tantia Tope role and contribution in the Indian freedom struggle

Tantia Tope (6 January 1814 – 18 April 1859) was a general in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and one of its prominent leaders. Despite his lack of formal military training, Tantia Tope is widely regarded as one of the best and most effective courageous generals in India’s struggle for independence.

Tantia Tope was born Ramachandra Panduranga Yawalkar to a Marathi Deshastha Brahmin family in Yeola (near Nasik). As a personal follower of Nana Saheb of Bithur, he advanced with the Gwalior contingent after the British recaptured Kanpur  and forced General Windham to retreat from the city.

 Later Tantia Tope came to the relief of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and took possession of the city of Gwalior with her. However, he was defeated by General Napier’s British Indian troops at Ranod and abandoned the campaign after another defeat at Sikar.

Tantia Tope role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857

•After the rebellion in Cawnpore (Kanpur) broke out on 5 June 1857, Nana Saheb became the leader of the rebels. When the British forces at Cawnpore surrendered on 25 June 1857, Nana was proclaimed Peshwa in late June.

•After the defeat, Nan’s troops had to retreat to Bithur, after which Havelock crossed the Ganges and retreated to Awadh. Tantia Tope started performing as Nana Saheb of Bithur.

•Tantia Tope was one of the ringleaders of the Cawnpore massacre which took place on 27 June 1857. Thereafter Tope held a good defensive position until he was driven out by British forces on 16 July 1857. He then defeated General Cyril at the Second Battle of Cawnpore, which began on 19 November 1857 and lasted seventeen days.

•Tope and his army were defeated when the British counterattacked under Sir Colin Campbell. Tope and other rebels fled the scene and had to take shelter with the Rani of Jhansi while helping her.

•Even after the British put down the rebellion in 1857, Tantia Tope continued to resist as a guerrilla fighter in the jungle. He induced the state forces to revolt against the Raja and was able to replace the artillery he had lost at the Banas River.

Tope then took his forces towards Indore, but was pursued by the British, now commanded by General John Michel, as he fled towards Sironj. Tope, accompanied by Rao Saheb, decided to divide their combined forces so that he could reach Chanderi with a larger force and Rao Saheb, on the other hand, with a smaller force at Jhansi. However, they combined again in October and suffered another defeat at Chhota Udaipur.

In January 1859 they reached the state of Jaipur and suffered two more defeats. At this point he met Man Singh, Raja of Narwar and his household and decided to stay with him at his court. Man Singh was at loggerheads with the Maharaja of Gwalior while the British were successful in negotiating with him to hand over Tope to them in exchange for his life and protection of his family from any reprisals from the Maharaja. After this event, Tope was handed over to the British and left to face his fate.

written By: Vaishali Verma

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