Mutineers about to be blown from guns by the Bengal Horse Artillery. Watercolour by Orlando Norie (1832-1901). 1858. Courtesy of the National Army Museum, London. Accession no. NAM. 1978-05-55-1.

The museum site is at pains to point out that this punishment was not one that the British had invented: "It had been the recognised penalty for mutiny and rebellion from seventeenth century Mughal India onwards, and was employed on a number of occasions in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny (1857-1859)." There were atrocities on both sides, and the British mostly went in for hanging, sometimes prolonging the process to introduce an extra element of torture (see Dalrymple 402). But this method of execution, by blowing the men from canons, seems horrifyingly brutal and calculating — and must have been peculiarly messy for those in the vicinity.

Text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the National Army Museum and (2) mention this site. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Related Material


Dalrymple, William. The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857. New Delhi: Penguin, 2007. [Review]

"Mutineers about to be blown from guns by the Bengal Horse Artillery, 1858." National Army Museum. Web. 30 May 2020

Created 30 May 2020