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Basic Information

Derived from the Persian word sipah (meaning "army") a sepoy was an Indian soldier (technically an infantryman - a cavalryman would be a sowar) in the service of a colonial power.

Given the history of colonisation of India this, practically, meant an Indian Soldier in British service, whether in the forces of the Honourable East India Company or, later, in the British Army of India.

In theory the term only applied to privates, but was generally used as a shorthand for all locally entered non-comissioned men.

The term remains in use by the armies of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • These guys should crop up in any campaign in early modern India - whether as enemy mooks, NPCs or even PCs will depend on the plot and style of your campaign.
  • (Somewhat unjustly) famous for the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 - also known as the Indian Mutiny in which unrest in some of Britain's client and allied states in India infected a number sepoy and sowar regiments and lead to a mutiny which in turn touched off a nasty civil/colonial war.
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