This scene of the Secundra Bagh palace courtyard at Lucknow, India shows the aftermath of the Sepoy Rebellion by the native soldiers (sepoys) of the Bengal Army of the British East India Company. The story goes that the Bengalese soldiers feared that their foreign employer was trying to force Christianity upon them by violating their cultural taboo. They had purportedly been issued rifle cartridges lubricated with pork and beef lard, which was in violation of Hindu and Moslem laws. In defense of their beliefs, the soldiers attacked an English garrison and colony at Cawnpore. The British retaliated in November 1857, and the scattered bones of some of the 2,000 rebels killed were intentionally left unburied in the courtyard.
Historians believe that Felice Beato and his assistants may have rearranged the skeletons seen in the foreground to heighten the photograph's dramatic impact.