Drum Major’s Mace
The Highlanders’ Museum
This intriguing object is a silver mace that was used by a Drum Major in the army – this is the person who leads the drums in a military band. It is a symbol of music and disciplined attitudes within the military.
Dating from 1857, the mace was made by an Indian silversmith, and the silver came from melted down Rupee coins. The silversmith was working for an Officer of the British Army, under the supervision of a soldier. The soldier allowed the silversmith to take some of the silver, but was caught, put on trial, and sentenced to 50 lashes as punishment. We do not know the punishment given to the Indian silversmith.
However, the pair were caught. At trial, the British soldier was sentenced to fifty lashes as punishment. We do not know the punishment given to the silversmith.
The soldier’s sentence is an example of ‘theatrical punishment’. This was a feature of the British response to the conflict. Other examples of ‘theatrical punishment’ include public killings and the display of bodies in front of police headquarters.
After the uprising, the cost of the British campaign – fifty million pounds – was added to Indian debts to Britain.