India Table of Contents
Shortly after the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-58, the role of the presidency armies was reevaluated (see The British Raj, 1858-1947, ch. 1). In 1861 the Bengal Army was disbanded, and the total number of sepoys was reduced from 230,000 to 150,000 while the British element was increased from 40,000 to 75,000. Most Indian artillery units were disbanded, and artillery was placed under British control. Under the aegis of the imperial "divide and rule" policy, which had its inception at this time, the British ensured that a sense of nationality would not be allowed to develop among the sepoys. The growth of such feelings, it was feared, would undermine the prospects of imperial control. Accordingly, Indian regiments increasingly were organized on a territorial basis; individual companies--and in some cases entire regiments--were drawn from the same religious, tribal, or caste backgrounds. When companies from several regiments were grouped into battalions, considerable efforts were made to promote cultural and social distinctions among companies of different compositions.
Data as of September 1995