THE BATTLES OF KUER SINGH IN 1857/58
Babu Veer Kunwar Singh, one of the leading figures of Bihar during the movement of 1857, was born at Jagdispur, Ara, Bihar in 1777 and was destined to become a martyr for the cause of India’s independence. When India rose against the British authority in 1857, Babu Veer Kunwar Singh was already past his prime being nearly 80 years old. Despite his age and failing health, when the call to fight came, the old lion plunged into the thick of it and for nearly a year battled fiercely against the British and allied forces with grim determination and undaunted courage.The long anticipated rebellion of Sepoys in Bihar took place simultaneously at two places, Sagauli and Danapur on 25th July 1857. On 27th July the Sepoys arrived at Ara, Bihar where Babu Veer Kunwar Singh assumed command. They besieged the English garrison at Ara and on the 29/30th of July 1857 inflicted a crushing defeat on the relieving column from Danapur under Capt. Dunbar, who was one of the first to be killed. Shahabad now passed virtually under Kuer Singh’s control. the task of relieving Ara was now assigned to Major Vincent Eyre who advanced with his column from Buxar, he managed to reach Ara after defeating Kuer Singh in a furiously contested skirmish at Bibiganj on the 2/3rd of August 1857. By the 12th of August Major Eyre was able to capture Jagdispur, Bihar commit acts of Vandalism and perpetrate atrocities on the hapless citizens with impunity.The reverses at Jagdispur, Bihar could not cow down Kuer Singh. On the 20th of august 1857, he was at Rohtas with upwards of 1000 men, 4 elephants, 14 camels and a lot of horses. Kuer Singh with his troops marched towards Rewah via Robertsganj, crossed the river Tons and captured Sawrajpur, about 30 miles south of Allahabad. On the 27th of august he reached Rewah, where some prominent nobles helped him. From Rewah, Kuer Singh proceeded to Banda, with a view of joining Tantia Topi. On the 8th of October at Banda the combined forces of Nawab Ali Bahadur and Kuer Singh attacked the Nimnipar fort and completely destroyed it. The Gwalior troops joined Babu Veer Kunwar Singh at Kalpi and marched onto attack Kanpur on the 7th of November. The Gwalior contingent, Nana Sahib and Kuer Singh fought against the English forces at the battle of Kanpur in December 1857. Babu Veer Kunwar Singh was soon at Lucknow where the Nawab of Oudh presented him “Khillat”, a roll of honour, a few thousand rupees and a “Firman” for the district of Azamgarh. Around the 12th of February he was at Ayodhya with 2000 men. A batch of British troops under Col. Milman in the Azamgarh district attacked him but by the 27th of march Azamgarh came under Kuer Singh’s control while the combined force of Dames and Milman lay besieged in the entrenchment near the jail. Col. Mark Kerr was deputed by Lord Canning the Governor General to relieve the Azamgarh entrenchment and crush Kuer Singh. Mark Kerr managed to reinforce the entrenchment at Azamgarh but he could not relieve it. In the process he had lost all his logistic support. Kuer Singh had checkmated him.Sir Colin Campbell, the Commander-in-Chief promptly dispatched Brig. General Sir Edward Lugard to tackle the threat posed by Kuer Singh. In a strategic move Kuer Singh left Azamgarh on the 13th of April with a part of his troops and advanced towards Ghazipur. After crossing the river Gogra he pushed onto Maniar in Ghazipur district in the night. On the morning of 21st of April Brig. Douglas made a surprise attack on the troops of Kuer Singh at Maniar. The latter dispersed themselves in different directions only to reassemble by the evening and proceeded during the night to the river. Inspite of sustaining personal injuries Kuer Singh with a large body of Sepoys crossed the Gangaat at Sheopur ghat, 10 miles from Balia. By the 22nd of April 1858 Kuer Singh had come to Jagdispur with about 1000 followers on foot and a few horsemen, strongly determined to continue fighting against the English even though he had lost one arm and was wounded in the thigh.Capt. Le Grand with a column of soldiers and two guns set out for Jagdispur from Ara on the evening of 22nd of April. The next day there was a skirmish with Kuer Singh’s force at Dullaur after which Le Grand pressed on with his advance only to fall into an ambush in which he was killed and his forces routed. Babu Veer Kunwar Singh was not destined to live longer, he succumbed to his injuries and died on the 26th of April 1858 at Jagdispur, Bihar.