CAWNPORE, or Kanpur, a city and district of India in the Allahabad division of the United Provinces. The city is situated on the south bank of the Ganges, 40 m. south-west of Lucknow, and formed from early times a frontier outpost of the people of Oudh and Bengal against their northern neighbours. Clive selected it, on account of its commanding position, as the cantonment for the brigade of troops lent him by the nawab of Oudh. In 1801, when the Ceded Provinces were acquired by the East India Company, it became the chief British frontier station. But by the time of the Mutiny the frontier had left it behind, and it was denuded of troops. Now it is chiefly known as the junction of four railways, the East Indian, Oudh & Rohilkand, Rajputana and Indian Midland, and as a great emporium for harness, shoes and other leather-work. In 1901 the population was 197,170, showing an increase of 4% in the decade. In 1903 the city was devastated by an epidemic of plague.
The name of Cawnpore is indelibly connected with the blackest episode in the history of the Indian Mutiny - the massacre here in July 1857 of hundreds of women and children by the Nana Sahib. The full details of the siege and massacre will be found under Indian Mutiny, and here it will suffice to refer to the local memorials of that evil time. The entrenchment, where General Sir H.M. Wheeler with his small band of soldiers and the European and Eurasian residents were exposed for 21 days to the fire of the mutineers, is merely a bare field, containing the well where many women and children were shot while getting water. This well is now surrounded by an enclosure with an inscription upon its cross. About three-quarters of a mile away, on the banks of the river Ganges, is the Massacre Ghat. A grassy road between banks 10 to 12 ft. high leads down to the river, and it was among the trees on these banks that the murderers concealed themselves who shot down the little garrison as soon as they were embarked in the boats which were to take them to safety. On the river bank is a temple to Siva, of hexagonal shape, old and going to ruin. Steps lead from this temple to an enclosed flight of stairs, which in the cold season descend to the water, but in the rains are covered almost to the top. This is the ghat where some 600 helpless people were slain, in spite of a promise of safe-conduct from the Nana. The remaining 200 victims, who had escaped the bullets of the siege and survived the butchery of the river bank, were massacred afterwards and cast down the famous well of Cawnpore, which is now marked by a memorial and surrounded by gardens. The memorial is crowned by the figure of an angel in white marble, and on the wall of the well itself is the following inscription: -
Sacred to the perpetual Memory of a great company of
Christian people, chiefly Women and Children, who near this
spot were cruelly murdered by the followers of the rebel
Nana Dhundu Pant, of Bithur, and cast, the dying with the
dead, into the well below, on the xvth day of July, MDCCCLVII.
The District or Cawnpore is situated between the Ganges and Jumna rivers, and is a portion of the well-watered and fertile tract known as the Doab, the total area being 2384 sq. m. The general inclination of the country is from north to south. Besides the two great rivers, the principal streams are the Arand or Rhind, the Kavan or Singar, the Isan and the Pandu. The district is watered by four branches of the Ganges canal, and traversed by two lines of railway. It used to be a great centre of the indigo industry, which has now declined. The population in 1901 was 1,258,868, showing an increase of 4% during the decade.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)