Biography of “Tantia Tope”
Ramachandra Pandurang Tope (1814-18 April 1859), popularly known as Tantya (Tantia) Tope, was an Indian Maratha leader in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and one of its more renowned generals. He was a personal adherent of Nana Saheb of Bithur. He progressed with the Gwalior contingent after the British reoccupation of Kanpur and forced General Windham to retreat from Kanpur. Later on, he came to the relief of Rani Lakshmi bai of Jhansi and with her seized the city of Gwalior. However, he was defeated by General Napier’s British Indian troops at Ranod and after a further defeat at Sikar abandoned the campaign. Finally, he was betrayed by his trusted friend Man Singh.
Tantya Tope was Nana Saheb’s close associate and General. During the Siege of Cawnpore in 1857, Saheb’s forces attacked the Nana British entrenchment at Kanpur in June 1857. The low supplies of food, water, and medicine added to the misery of the British forces who accepted Nana Saheb’s offer of safe passage to Allahabad.
The British forces had failed to subdue him for over a year. He was however betrayed into the hands of the British by his trusted friend, Man Singh, King of Narwar, while asleep in his camp in the Paron forest. He was captured on 7 April 1859 by a detachment of native infantry from British General Richard John Meade’s troops led to him by Man Singh and escorted to Shivpuri where he was tried by a military court.
Tope admitted the charges brought before him saying that he was answerable to his master the Peshwa only. He was executed at the gallows on 18 April 1859.