Enfield Pattern 1853 Percussion Rifle Musket cartridges, 1857 (c)
Cartridges for most muzzle-loading firearms of the period took the form of a paper tube containing a ball and powder. The standard method of loading was to bite the top off the cartridge and then pour the powder down the barrel. The rest of the cartridge, including the ball, was then forced down with a ramrod. Unlike existing percussion muskets, the Enfield's grooved bore required the cartridge to be greased to allow loading. During 1857, rumours began to circulate among the Bengal Army's sepoys that the cartridges were deliberately greased with pig and cow fat, offensive to Moslems and Hindus, in order to defile them. The soldiers' fears were one of the main factors in causing the Indian Mutiny (1857-1859).
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National Army Museum, Army gallery
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