Cartridges and the Indian Mutiny

Artefact
Musket cartridges circa 1858
Musket cartridges circa 1858

Used in 1858 these paper wrapped cartridges were the first form of "bullet". The cartridge consisted of a musket ball, charge of gun powder and wadding and was sealed with animal grease, sometimes beef fat, sometimes pork. Before inserting the cartridge into the musket, the soldier used his teeth to tear off the sealed end which allowed the gun powder to be ignited. It was against the religious beliefs of native troops in India to consume the flesh of certain animals. In 1858 native troops refused to use the cartridges and this, in part, led to the Indian Mutiny.