Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XII. - The History of British India, vol. 6
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CHAP. XII. - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 6 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 6.
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Objects to which the Operations of the Army in the North were to be directed—Objects to which the Operations of the Army in the South were to be directed—Minor Objects of the War—General Lake takes the Field—History of the French Force in the Service of Scindia, and of his Possessions in the Dooab—History of the Emperor Shah Aulum continued—Battle of Allyghur, and Capture of the Fort—Battle of Delhi, and Surrender of the Emperor to the English—Agra taken—Battle of Laswaree—French Force in the Service of Scindia destroyed, and his Dominions in the Dooab transferred to the English—Operations of the Army under General Wellesley in the South—Ahmednuggur taken—Battle of Assye—Boorhanpore and Asseerghur taken—Scindia makes an Overture toward Peace—Battle of Argaum—Siege and Capture of the Fort of Gawilghur—Operations in Bundelcund—In Cuttack—in Guzerat—Negotiation with the Rajah of Berar—Treaty concluded—Negotiation with Scindia—Treaty concluded—Engagements with the minor Princes near the Jumna—Scindia enters into the defensive Alliance—Governor-General's Account of the Benefit derived from the defensive Alliances, and the Mahratta War—Investigation of that Account.
For the war, as soon as it should begin, the Governor-General BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.had prepared a most extensive scheme of operations. To General Lake, the Commander-in-chief, BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.at that time present with the army on the upper frontiers, instructions had been sent on the 28th of June; pointing out, not only the necessity of placing the army under his command, with the utmost expedition, in a state of preparation for the field, but also, though briefly, and in the form of notes, the objects to the attainment of which the operations of that army would immediately be directed. On the subsequent exertions of the Commander-in-chief, to make ready for action, the Governor-General bestows unqualified praise. “By the indefatigable activity,” says he, “zeal, ability, and energy of General Lake (whose personal exertions have surpassed all former example, and have been the main source of the success of the war in that quarter) the army of Bengal, on the north-west frontier of Oude, was placed, towards the close of the month of July, in a state of preparation and equipment favourable to the immediate attack of M. Perron's force, as soon as authentic advices should be received of the commencement of hostilities in the Deccan.”1
In this part of the extensive field, which the plan of the Governor-General embraced, he gave notice of two military objects was to conquer the whole of that portion of Scindia's dominions which lay between the Ganges and the Jumna; destroying completely the French force by which that district was protected; extending the Company's frontier to the Jumna; and including the cities of Delhi and Agra, with a chain of posts, sufficient for protecting the navigation of the river, on the right bank of the Jumna. The second of the military objects was of minor importance; the annexation of Bundelcund to the British dominions.
The political objects were also two. The first, to BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.use the language of the Governor-General, was, “the possession of the nominal authority of the Mogul;” that is to say, the possession of his person, and thereafter the use of his name, to any purpose to which the use of that name might be found advantageous. Together with the city of Delhi, the person of the Mogul had for a series of years been subject to Scindia; more immediately, at that particular moment, to Perron, as the vicegerent of Scindia in that part of his kingdom. The acquisition of the country would, of course, place the Mogul, too, in British hands. The second of the Governor-General's political objects was, an extension of his general scheme of alliance. He desired that the whole of the petty states to the southward and westward of the Jumna, from Jyneghur to Bundelcund, should be united in “an efficient system of alliance” with the British government.1
Such were the ends to be pursued in the north; for the accomplishment of which the Commander-in-chief was vested with the same sort of powers, which had already been conveyed to General Wellesley, for the more secure attainment of those which were aimed at in the south. General Wellesley was expected, with the force under his command, to defeat the confederate army of Scindia and the Rajah of Berar; to protect from all danger, in that direction, the dominions of the Company and their allies; and to establish, in their subsidizing form, the governments of the Nizam, the Peshwa, and Guyckwar.
The province of Cuttack separated the Company's dominions in Bengal, from the northern circars. By BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.the conquest of this district, the territory of the English nation in the northern part of India would be united, on the eastern coast, with that in the south, and would extend in one unbroken line from the mountains on the frontier of Tibet to Cape Comorin; the Mahrattas on that side of India would be deprived of all connection with the sea, and hence with the transmarine enemies of the Anglo-Indian government; a communication not liable to the interruption of the monsoons would be formed between Calcutta and Madras; and an additional portion of the Bengal frontier would be delivered from the chance of Mahratta incursions. The province of Cuttack belonged to the Rajah of Berar. Preparations were made for invading it about the time at which the operations of the principal armies should commence.
Scindia possessed the port of Baroach, and a contiguous district on the coast of Guzerat. The government of Bombay was made ready to seize them, as soon as the war should be declared.
General Lake took the field with an army of 10,500 men, consisting of about 200 European artillery, three regiments of European, and five of native cavalry, one regiment of European, and eleven battalions of native infantry. Beside this force, about 3,500 men were assembled near Allahabad for the invasion of Bundelcund; and about 2000 were collected at Mirzapoor, to cover Benares, and guard the passes of the adjoining mountains.
The army of Scindia, to which General Lake was to be opposed, was under the command of a Frenchman, named Perron, and stated by the Governor-General, on grounds of course a little uncertain, to have consisted of 16,000 or 17,000 infantry, formed and disciplined on the European plan; with a large body of irregular infantry, from fifteen to twenty BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.thousand horse, and a train of artillery, which the Governor-General describes, as both numerous and well appointed.1
To understand the nature of the power of Scindia, in this quarter of India, a short history is required, not only of the peculiar composition of his army, but also of the territorial acquisitions which he there retained. Deboigne, though not the first Frenchman who was admitted into the army of Scindia, was the first who obtained any considerable degree of power. Born a Savoyard, of parents respectable, though poor, after having served some time in the army of his own prince, he entered the more splendid service of France, in quality of an ensign in the Irish brigades.2 In the vicissitudes of his early life, we must content ourselves with effects; the causes very frequently remain unknown. We find him, next, an ensign in a Russian army, serving against the Turks. He was here taken prisoner; carried to Constantinople; and sold as a slave. After the war, being redeemed by his BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.parents, he repaired to St. Petersburg, found means to recommend himself, and was made a lieutenant. He was detached to some Russian post on the Turkish frontier, and had the fortune to command the escort which attended Lord Percy in a progress among the Grecian islands. In consequence of the impression which he must have made upon that nobleman, and the views which he must have disclosed, Lord Percy furnished him with two letters of recommendation, one to Mr. Hastings, Governor of Bengal, and another to Lord Macartney, Governor of Madras, to whose acquaintance, it is said, he had already been admitted, during the residence of that nobleman as British ambassador at St. Petersburg. It is surmised, that he obtained the consent of the Empress to make a voyage to India, from which he was to return by way of Cashmere, Tartary, and the borders of the Caspian Sea. Be that as it may, he arrived at Madras in the year 1780, and engaged as an ensign in the service of the Nabob of Arcot. In 1782 he repaired to Calcutta, where the letter of Lord Percy procured him a favourable reception from Mr. Hastings. Without disclosing his connection with the Russian government, he described to that Governor the journey by Cashmere, and the shores of the Caspian, as the object which he now had in view; and was furnished by him with a recommendation to the Nawaub of Oude, and the British resident at Lucknow. It is said; that he was accommodated by the Nawaub of Oude, and the British resident at Lucknow. It is said; that he was accommodated by the Nawaub with a bill of exchange on Cashmere for 6,000 rupees, with which, instead of prosecuting his journey, he purchased arms and horses, and entered into the service of the Rajah of Jeypoor; that upon intelligence of this proceeding he was ordered down to Lucknow by Mr. Hastings, whom he thought it his interest to obey; that he found the means of exculpating himself in the mind of that ruler, and was BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.permitted to return to Lucknow; that he now engaged in trade, which he prosecuted with success; that he came to Agra, in 1784, at which time the Rana of Gohud was closely besieged by Madajee Scindia; that he suggested to the Rana a plan for raising the siege, but Scindia intercepted his correspondence, and, impressed with the proof of military talents which it displayed, consulted Mr. Anderson, the British resident, on the propriety of taking him into his service; that Mr. Anderson, to whom he had letters of recommendation, sent for him, introduced him to Scindia, and procured him the command of two battalions, to be disciplined in the European style. The terror which Scindia found to march before the grape and bayonets of Deboigne's battalions, and the effects which they produced in the battles of Lallsort, Chacksana, and Agra, from 1784 to 1789, made him eager to increase their number to eight, then to sixteen, and afterwards, it is said, to twenty battalions, at which amount they remained. A battalion complete, consisted of 500 muskets, and 200 gunners, with four field pieces and one howitzer. The military talents of Deboigne, and the efficiency of his troops, were the grand instrument which facilitated, or rather produced, the victories, and enlarged the dominions of Scindia, in the region of the Jumna. In 1792, with eight battalions, he fought the desperate battle of Mairta against a great army of Rattores, a warlike tribe of Rajpoots. In the same year, and with the same force, he defeated, after an obstinate conflict at Patun, the formidable army of Ishmael Beg. In 1792, he defeated the army of Tuckojee Holkar, containing four battalions disciplined and commanded by a Frenchman; and at last made Scindia, without dispute, the most powerful of the native BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.princes in India. Deboigne was a man above six feet high, with giant bones, large features, and piercing eyes; he was active, and laborious to an astonishing degree; understood profoundly the art of bending to his purposes the minds of men; and was popular (because men felt the benefit of his equitable and vigilant administration), though stained with three unpopular vices, jealousy, avarice, and envy.1
Perron came into India as a petty officer of a ship, either with Suffrein, or about the time of Suffrein's arrival. Having travelled into the upper provinces, he first received employment in the army of the Rana of Gohud, where he served under the immediate command of an Englishman. After the destruction of the Rana, he joined, in quality of quarter-master-serjeant, a corps commanded by a Frenchman in the service of Scindia. Though he soon raised himself to a higher command, his corps was reduced, upon the return of the army into cantonments; and he was even unsuccessful in an application for employment in the army of the Begum Sumroo. When the brigade of Deboigne began to be formed, the prospects of Perron revived. He received the command of the Boorhanpore battalion; and had an opportunity of distinguishing himself in the battle of Patun. He commanded the detachment of Deboigne's army which besieged. Ishmael Beg in Canoor; and it was to him that Ishmael Beg surrendered. To the honour of their European education, Deboigne and Perron resolutely protected their prisoner from the death which Scindia, who had suffered from his prowess, thirsted to inflict upon him; and he remained in the fort of Agra, with a considerable allowance for his BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.subsistence. When the corps of Deboigne became sufficiently numerous to be divided into two brigades, he gave the command of the first to M. Frimont, and that of the second to M. Perron, who, accordingly, upon the death of Frimont, became second in command. When the ambition of Scindia to establish a control over the Peshwa carried him to Poona, it was the brigade of Perron which attended him thither, and formed the principal part of his force. Perron, thus about the person of Dowlut Rao from the moment of his accession, and one of the main instruments of his power, easily succeeded to the whole authority of Deboigne, when, in 1798, that commander withdrew with his fortune to Europe.1
M. Deboigne had received a large track of country, in the region of the Jumna, in assignment for the maintenance of his troops. Not only the territory as well as the army which had devolved upon Perron required his presence upon the departure of Deboigne; but the presumption of the Governors, both of Delhi and of Agra, had so much increased by the long absence of Scindia in the South, that it seemed to be high time to reduce them to obedience. In the month of October, 1798, Perron sent two battalions, commanded by Colonel Sutherland, one of the Englishmen who helped to officer Scindia's regular brigades, with an expectation that the Kelledar would deliver up the fort; but disappointed in that hope he sent three battalions more, and the place was invested. Though, from a humane regard to the aged Mogul and his family, who were kept as a sort of prisoners in the fort, much caution was used in firing at the BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.place, it was ready for assault in nineteen days, when the Kelledar capitulated and surrendered.1
This was the occasion, on which, for the first time, the custody of the emperor was placed in the hands of a Frenchman. He had now, during ten years, been subject to the power of Scindia, under which he had fallen, by the following means.
In 1782, when Mr. Hastings so eagerly made peace with the Mahratta powers, their dominions were bounded, on the north, by that great chain of mountains, which extends in a direction nearly east and west, from Cuttack in the Bay of Bengal to Ajmere, and forms a great boundary between the southern and the northern portions of the Indian continent. This physical barrier, against the dangers to which the English dominions in the north of India were exposed from the vicinity of the Mahrattas, was not all. On the western half of this chain of mountains, on its northern side, and immediately bordering upon the Company's frontier, or that of their dependant, the Nabob of Oude, were placed, forming another line of defence, a number of small independent states, all jealous of the Mahrattas, and all dreading any extension of their power. The whole of that wide expanse of country, which extends from near Allahabad on the east to the river Sutledge on the west; bounded on the south by the mountainous ridge just mentioned; on the north, as far as Shekoab, by the Jumna; thence by a line passing near Secundra to the Ganges, and by the Ganges to Hurdwar; was, by the policy of Mr. Hastings, left open to the ambition of the Mahrattas. This country contained, among other principalities, the territory of Bundelcund and Narwar; that of Gohud, including BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.Gualior and Bind; and the great provinces of Agra and Delhi, including the Jaat country, and nearly one half of the Dooab, subject chiefly to the Emperor Shah Aulum, and a few other Mahomedan chiefs. Scindia was the Mahratta prince, who, from the vicinity of his territories, and from his power, was best situated for availing himself of the offered advantage; and he did not allow the opportunity to escape. Another Mahratta chieftain, indeed, found means to get a partial possession of Bundelcund, while Scindia was engrossed with the business of other acquisitions; but all the rest of that extensive country was wholly appropriated by the latter chieftain.1
Scindia had already made great progress in subduing this region, when, with Ismael Beg, he approached Delhi in 1788. Gholam Khadur, a son of Zabita Khan; who, having from some cause of displeasure been banished from the presence of his father, had received an asylum from Shah Aulum, and growing into his favour, had been created by him Ameer ul Omrah; enjoyed at that time the principal power at Delhi. The Emperor appears to have been desirous BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.of emancipating himself from the dominion of Gholam Khadur, a man of a haughty, and ferocious character; and informed him that, having no money to carry on the contest, he regarded resistance as vain. Gholam Khadur himself undertook for resources; only insisting, that, as “the presence of the monarch was half the battle,” the Emperor should head the army in the field; and to this the Emperor assenting commissioned Gholam Khadur to make the requisite preparations for war. Next day, it is said, a letter from the Emperor to Scindia was intercepted, in which the Emperor exhorted Scindia to use the greatest possible dispatch, for the purpose of destroying Gholam Khadur; “for Gholam Khadur,” said he, “desires me to act contrary to my wishes, and oppose you.” Upon this discovery Gholam Khadur, burning for revenge, ordered an attack upon the fort, in which Shah Aulum resided; carried it in a few days; flew to the apartment of the monarch, whom he treated with every species of indignity; and then put out his eyes. After plundering the Emperor and his family, and sparing no expedient, however degrading, to strip the females of all their valuable ornaments, he fled upon the approach of Scindia; who thus became master of the legitimate sovereign of India, and of all the territories which yet owned his sway.1
Though the Emperor was allowed by Scindia to BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.remain in the fort of Delhi, with the nominal authority over the city, and a small district around, he was held in a state of poverty, in which not only the decencies, but almost the necessaries of life were denied to him and his family. A Kelledar or Governor was placed in the fort, by whom he was guarded as a prisoner. And Scindia at times had made him set forth his claim, not only to the tribute which the English had covenanted to pay to him for Bengal, which they had so early found a pretext for not paying, and which now with its interest amounted to a great sum; but to the wide extended sovereignty which had ceased to be his, only by successful usurpation and rebellion.
As there is no reason to believe that Perron behaved not to Shah Aulum with all the humanity and delicacy, practicable in the circumstances of Perron; so there is reason to believe that the condition of the unhappy monarch was ameliorated after he became subject to that European officer M. Perron is represented, by all those from whom we receive any accounts of him, except the English rulers, as not only a man of talents, but a man of humanity and moderation.1
BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.By the distance at which Scindia, while engaged in establishing his authority in the south, was kept from his dominions in the north, the administration of the government of his new acquisitions, in the region of the Jumna, fell almost entirely into the hands of Perron, who was present with an army, and had a large portion of it in assignment for the maintenance of his troops. We have the testimony of a most unexceptionable witness, Colonel Collins, both that he made a wise and excellent use of his power; and that the success of his administration had created incurable jealousy and hatred in the breast both of Scindia's nobles, and of Scindia himself. “I have it,” says that resident, in his letter dated 30th of March, 1802, “from good authority, that the Sirdars of this court have frequently remonstrated with the Maharaja, on the subject of the extensive authority vested in General Perron; and I have also been told in confidence, that, whenever the disturbances in this quarter are composed, so far as to admit of Scindia's repairing to Agra, it is the intention of the Maharaja to deprive BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.the General of the command of those fortresses which he now possesses in Hindustan. Nor do I doubt the truth of this information; when I reflect on the general disposition of the Mahrattas; they being, as your Lordship well knows, at all times inclined to suspicion and jealousy; of which I saw strong symptoms, at my audience with the Maharaja on the 27th ultimo. The ministers, who were present at this interview, having put various questions to me respecting the state of Scindia's possessions in the Dooab, I purposely spoke of them, as being in the most flourishing condition, ascribing the same to the able management of General Perron, to whom, as your Lordship recollects, they are assigned in jeydad. I also noticed the unwearied attention of the General, to improve and strengthen the works of the different fortresses garrisoned by his troops; and mentioned likewise the high estimation in which he was held by all the Rajpoot and Seik Sirdars, who were chiefly guided by his councils and directions.”1 Though we may easily enough suppose in this language a degree of exaggeration, to which the occasion may be supposed to have presented temptation, yet we cannot suppose a gentleman, of an English education, and of a high character, to have made a deliberate statement for which he knew there was no foundation in fact. In his next letter Colonel Collins says, “Such Mahratta Sirdars, as are envious or jealous of the power of M. Perron, do not scruple to affirm, that he by no means wishes the total ruin of Holkar; since, in this event, the Maharaja would be enabled to repair to Hindostan, and to take upon himself the chief direction of affairs in that quarter. Whether or not Scindia has been BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.influenced by these suggestions, I shall not presume to determine; but I believe it to be an undoubted fact, that General Perron has been given to understand he must relinquish the collections of all the districts which he now possesses in Hindostan, excepting those appertaining to his jeydad, the annual revenues of which are estimated at forty lacs of rupees; at present the General collects nearly eighty lacs.”1 From Futty Ghur, to which, for the purpose for avoiding the unhealthy season, he had returned from Scindia's camp, having by the way paid a visit to Perron at his head quarters at Cowle, Colonel Collins, on the 24th of June, 1802, wrote again, as follows: “General Perron has been peremptorily directed by Scindia to give up all the Mehals in his possession, not appertaining to his own jeydad. And I understand, from good authority, that the General is highly displeased with the conduct of Scindia's ministers on this occasion; insomuch that he entertains serious intentions of relinquishing his present command in the service of the Maharaja. Indeed, when I was at Cowle, he assured me, that ere long I might probably see him at Futty Ghur.”2
The first object to which General Lake was commanded to direct the operations of the war, was the destruction of the force of General Perron. This force the Governor-General, though he very seriously, not to say violently, dreaded it, yet at the same time with a very possible inconsistence, so much despised, that he confidently expected the complete annihilation of it, before the end of the rains. “I desire,” says he, “that your Excellency will compose the main army, and regulate the strength and operations of the BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.several detachments, in the manner which shall appear to your judgment to afford the most absolute security for the complete destruction of M. Perron's force previously to the conclusion of the rains.”1
Not arms alone; other expedients were to be employed. “It would be highly desirable,” says the Governor-General, “to detach M. Perron from Scindia's service, by pacific negotiation. M. Perron's inclination certainly, is, to dispose of his power to a French purchaser; I should not be surprised if he were to be found ready to enter into terms with your Excellency; provided he could obtain sufficient security for his personal interests.—I empower your Excellency to conclude any agreement for the security of M. Perron's personal interests and property, accompanied by any reasonable renumeration from the British government, which shall induce him to deliver up the whole of his military resources and power, together with his territorial possession, and the person of the Mogul, and of the heir apparent, into your Excellency's hands. The same principle applies generally to M. Perron's European officers. And the proclamations, with which I have furnished your Excellency, will enable you to avail yourself of the first opportunity of offering propositions to those officers, or to the several corps under M. Perron's command.”2
On the 7th of August, the General marched from Cawnpore. On the 28th he reached the frontier: and early on the morning of the 29th moved into the Mahratta territories, with a view of attacking a part of M. Perron's army assembled near the fortress of BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.Allighur. The British army reached the enemy's camp about seven o'clock in the morning; and found the whole of his cavalry drawn up on the plain, close to the fort of Allighur. Appearing to be strongly posted, with their right extending to the fort of Allighur, and their front protected by a deep morass, the General resolved to make his attack on their left flank, which had no protection except from two detached villages. The British cavalry were formed into two lines, supported by the line of infantry and guns; but the enemy retired as they advanced, and quitted the field without an engagement. They were estimated at 15,000 strong. As if to show the extreme want of all cohesion, and hence of stability, in the materials of Perron's power, the Commander-in-Chief informs the Governor-General, and the Governor-General with exultation informs his employers; that upon so very trifling an occasion as this, “many of the confederates of M. Perron left him;” and “I learn,” says the General, “from all quarters, that most of the enemy's cavalry who opposed us yesterday, have returned to their homes, declaring their inability to oppose the English.”1
The town of Coel immediately surrendered to the English; but the garrison of Allighur resisted all the motives with which Lake endeavoured to persuade them. After consideration, he deemed it practicable to carry the fort by assault; and this he preferred to the slow operations of a siege. The place was strong, with a broad and deep ditch, a fine glacis, the country levelled for a mile round, and exposed in every direction to the fire of the fort. Lieutenant-Colonel Monson was chosen to lead the attack: and the preparations were completed before the 4th of September. At three o'clock, on the morning of that day, the BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.troops moved down to a distance of 600 yards from the sortie. After waiting till half after four, the hour of assault, the storming party advanced, under cover of a heavy fire from the British batteries erected for the purpose, and arrived within 100 yards of the fort before they were perceived. There was only one passage across the ditch into the fort, by a narrow causeway, where the enemy, having commenced a mine, but omitted a draw-bridge, the British troops were enabled to pass, and assault the body of the place. As soon as Colonel Monson perceived that the garrison had received the alarm, he pushed on with two flank companies of Europeans, hoping to enter the gate along with the external guard. The gate was found shut; and the ladders were applied. Major Macleod of the 76th regiment, and two grenadiers, began to mount; but so formidable an array of pikemen appeared to receive them, that it would have been vain and foolish to persist. A gun was now required to blow open the gate. Being situated near the angle of a bastion, it was difficult to place a gun in a situation to act upon it. Four or five rounds were fired, before it was blown open; the troops were stopped about twenty minutes; during which they were raked by a destructive fire of grape, wall-pieces, and matchlocks; Colonel Monson was wounded; six officers were killed; and the principal loss in the assault was sustained. A narrow and intricate passage of considerable length, all the way exposed to a heavy cross fire in every direction, led from the first gate to that which openned immediately into the body of the place. To this it was a work of great difficulty to bring up the gun; and when it was brought up, the gate was found too strong to be forced. In this extremity Major Macleod pushed through the wicket with the BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.grenadiers, and ascended the ramparts. After this but little opposition was made. The garrison endeavoured to escape in every direction. Many jumped into the ditch, of whom some were drowned. About 2,000 perished. Some surrendered, and were permitted to quit the fort, by the Commander-in-Chief, who was close to the scene of action, to witness an attack which nothing but the persevering bravery of the men permitted to succeed. The English loss was fifty-nine killed, including six; and 212 wounded, including eleven European officers.1
This fort was esteemed an acquisition of great importance; as being the ordinary residence of M. Perron, and the principal place of deposit for his military stores; of which the quantity, found by the English, probably because it was inconsiderable, is not specified, in any of the printed documents in which the value of the acquisition is presented to view.
The same day on which Allighur was taken, the Commander found it necessary to send a considerable detachment, to join the officer left at Futty Ghur, charged with a convoy for the army. Five companies of sepoys, with one gun, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Coningham, left at Shekoabad, had been attacked on the 2d of September, by a body of cavalry, commanded by a Frenchman of the name of Fleury. Though much superior in force, the assailants were repulsed, but returned to the attack on the 4th, when the English capitulated, their ammunition being nearly spent. Before the reinforcements sent by the General arrived, the enemy crossed the Jumna, and disappeared.
On the 5th of September, M. Perron addressed a letter to General Lake, which was received on the BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.7th. In that letter Perron informed the British Commander, that he had resigned the service of Dowlut Rao Scindia, and requested permission to pass with his family, his effects, and the officers of his suite, through the Company's dominions to Lucknow. The instructions of the Governor-General, to purchase, if possible, the surrender of the military resources of Perron, have already been mentioned. We are informed by the Governor-General, that “on the 20th of August the Commander-in-Chief received a letter from General Perron, indicating a desire, on the part of that officer, to effect an arrangement, which might preclude the necessity of an actual contest between the British forces, and those under the command of General Perron.” We learn, on the same occasion, from the same high authority, that some time previously Perron had applied for leave to pass through the Company's territories, as being about to resign the service of Scindia; and had, at the request of the Commander-in-Chief, sent to the English camp a confidential agent, with whom a discussion took place on the 29th of August. All that we further know is, that the agent departed, without effecting any arrangement. The Governor-General tells us, that “he evaded the propositions of the Commander-in-Chief, for the surrender of M. Perron.”1 Perron might have received a large sum of money, had he bargained for his own retirement, and transferred to the English any considerable portion of the military resources with which he was entrusted. Perron retired, without bargaining at all: and, although he had the greatest cause of resentment against his employer, without transferring to his enemies the BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.smallest portion of the resources with which he was entrusted.
The Governor-General informs us, that M. Perron stated two facts, which remarkably confirm what I have already suggested, with regard to the miserable foundation and feeble texture, of all such power as his. “M. Perron stated, that his reason for retiring proceeded from his having received intelligence, that his successor had been appointed; and was actually on his way to take possession of his new charge. M. Perron also observed, that the treachery and ingratitude of his European officers convinced him that further resistance to the British arms was useless.”1
General Lake, who estimated, and knew that the Governor-General estimated, high the value of removing M. Perron, granted him, in a prompt and handsome manner, the indulgences which he requested; and that General proceeded in consequence to Lucknow.
On the same day on which General Lake received the letter of Perron, measures being completed for the possession of Allighur, he began his march for Delhi. On the 9th of September, he reached Secundra; and during the next two days advanced about eighteen miles beyond Soorajepoor, when intelligence was received, that the army which had belonged to Perron, now commanded by another Frenchman, of the name of Louis Berquien, had crossed the Jumna from Delhi during the night, with a view to meet and repel the British army.
The troops, fatigued with eighteen miles of march, and the heat of the day, reached their ground of encampment (six miles from Delhi) about eleven o'clock, and had scarcely pitched their tents, when the outposts were attacked. The General, having BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.reconnoitred, and found the enemy drawn up in order of battle, immediately ordered out the whole line. The position of the enemy was on a rising ground, with swamps on either flank; their front, where alone they could be attacked, was defended by a numerous artillery and a line of entrenchments. The number of the British troops amounted to about four thousand five hundred men. That of the enemy is stated at nineteen thousand. The British infantry were ordered to advance from the right of battalions in open columns of companies; and during this operation, the cavalry were commanded to precede. Advancing two miles in front, they were exposed for one hour to a severe cannonade, before they were joined by the infantry; the Commander-in-Chief had his horse shot under him; and a considerable loss was sustained. As the infantry approached, the General ordered the cavalry to fall back, with a view both to cover the advance of the infantry, and if possible to draw the enemy forward from their entrenchments upon the plain. The enemy fell into the snare, believed the movement a retreat, and advanced, shouting, with the whole of their guns. The British cavalry retired, with the utmost steadiness and order, till joined by the infantry, when they opened from the centre, and allowed the infantry to pass to the front. The whole were instantly formed, the infantry in one line, the cavalry in a second, about forty yards in the rear of the right wing. The enemy had halted, on perceiving the British infantry, and began a tremendous fire of round, grape, and chain shot. The General having placed himself on the right of the line, the men advanced with steadiness, and without taking their muskets from their shoulders, till within a hundred paces of the enemy, who began BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.to pour upon them a shower of grape from the whole of their guns. Orders were given to charge with bayonets. The line fired a volley, and rushed on with their gallant commander at their head, when the enemy gave way, and fled in every direction. As soon as the troops halted after the charge, the General ordered the line to break into columns of companies, which permitted the cavalry to pass through the intervals with their galloper guns, and complete the victory. The enemy were pursued with slaughter to the banks of the Jumna. This battle, though small in scale, and not very trying from the resistance of the enemy, affords a high specimen both of the talents of the General, and the discipline and bravery of the men.
The enemy left the whole of their artillery, sixty-eight pieces of ordnance, with a great quantity of ammunition, and two tumbrils containing treasure, on the field. In men, their loss was estimated at three thousand: that of the English, in killed, wounded, and missing, was four hundred and eighty-five. After being seventeen hours under arms, the British army took up fresh ground towards the river, and next morning encamped, opposite to the city of Delhi. As the enemy had evacuated both the city and fort, Shah Aulum sent a message to express his desire of placing himself under the protection of the victors. An intrigue had been opened with him before, and means had been found to convey to him a letter from the Governor-General, promising to him, in case he should find the means, during the present crisis, “of placing himself under the protection of the British government, that every demonstration of respect and attention would be paid towards his Majesty on the part of that government, and that an adequate provision would be made for the support of his Majesty, and of his family and household.” BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.To this secret communication a secret answer was received by the Commander-in-Chief on the 29th of August, “expressing,” says the Governor-General, “the anxious wish of his Majesty to avail himself of the protection of the British government.”1 On the 14th, the British army began to cross the river. And on the same day, the General Bourquien, who commanded in the late action, and four other French officers, surrendered themselves prisoners to General Lake. On the 16th, he paid his visit to Shah Aulum. The language of the Governor-General, on this occasion, is something more than pompous. “His Excellency, the Commander-in-Chief, had the honour to pay his first visit to his Majesty Shah Aulum on the 16th of September; and to congratulate his Majesty on his emancipation from the control of a French faction who had so long oppressed and degraded him. His Majesty was graciously pleased to direct his eldest son, and heir apparent, the Prince Mirza Akbar Shah, to conduct the Commander-in-Chief to his royal presence. The Prince was to have arrived at the Commander-in-Chief's tent at twelve o'clock: but did not reach the British camp until half past three o'clock, p. m. By the time his Royal Highness had been received; remounted on his elephant; and the whole cavalcade formed, it was half past four o'clock. The distance being five miles, the Commander-in-Chief did not reach the palace at Delhi until sunset. The crowd in the city was extraordinary; and it BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.was with some difficulty that the cavalcade could make its way to the palace. The courts of the palace were full of people; anxious to witness the deliverance of their sovereign from a state of degradation and bondage. At length the Commander-in-Chief was ushered into the royal presence: and found the unfortunate and venerable Emperor; oppressed by the accumulated calamities of old age, degraded authority, extreme poverty, and loss of sight; seated under a small tattered canopy, the remnant of his royal state, with every external appearance of the misery of his condition.”1
In another passage the Governor-General speaks of this event, as “delivering the unfortunate and aged Emperor Shah Aulum, and the royal house of Timour, from misery, degradation, and bondage; and rescuing his Imperial Majesty, the Mogul, from the hands of a desperate band of French adventurers.”2
With regard to the French officers, this is a language in the highest degree illiberal, if not unjust, and moreover, indecent. It was not they who degraded, if that was a crime, the house of Timour; it is in evidence that they improved the condition of its surviving members; it is not in evidence that they did not improve it as far as that improvement depended upon them. It is manifest, that certain forms of respect, and a less penurious supply of money, was all that could depend upon them. Of these there is no indication that the first were withheld. Of the second, the French had little to bestow. The revenues of Perron's government must with great difficulty have met its charges, and he departed at last with no more than the fortune of a private individual. Whatever he afforded to Shah Aulum beyond the allowance prescribed by Scindia, he must BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.have paid out of his own fortune. And had Shah Aulum been supported out of the pocket of any English gentleman, of the Governor-General himself, though doubtless he would have dealt by him kindly, and even generously; yet I may venture to affirm, that his “royal state” would not have exhibited great magnificence.
Besides, who would not imagine, upon hearing this language of the English ruler, that he was about to restore his “Imperial Majesty, Shah Aulum, (whom his subjects were so anxious to see delivered from a state of degradation and bondage,”) to his lost authority? to those territories, from which he had been extruded, only by successful usurpation and rebellion, territories of which the provinces held by the Company formed a material part? or, if he was not to give him any of the usurped territories which had fallen to the lot of the English, not even that tribute which they had stipulated to pay him, and which they had long withheld; that at any rate he was to bestow upon him those territories, of which Scindia had deprived him, and which the English had just retaken, or were about to retake? Not an atom of this. The English were to restore no territory. Even that which they were now taking from Scindia, and of which by Scindia the Emperor had but lately been robbed, the English were to keep to themselves. The English, therefore, were to hold his “Imperial Majesty” still degraded from all sovereign power; still in bondage; as much as ever. The very words of the Governor-General are, that only so much “regard should be paid to the comfort and convenience of his Majesty and the royal family as was consistent with the due security of their persons,” in other words, their imprisonment. Wherein then BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.consisted the difference of his treatment? In this alone, that he would enjoy more of the comforts which in a state of imprisonment money can bestow, and was secure from personal violence.
The lofty description afforded us by the British ruler goes on in the following words; “It is impossible to describe the impression which General Lake's conduct on this interesting occasion has made on the minds on the inhabitants of Delhi, and of all the Mussulmans who have had an opportunity of being made acquainted with the occurrences of the 16th of September, 1803. In the metaphorical language of Asia, the native news writers who describe this extraordinary scene, have declared that his Majesty Shah Aulum recovered his sight from excess of joy.1 In addition to many other marks of royal favour and condescension, the Emperor was graciously pleased to confer on General Lake the second title in the Empire, Sumsam u dowlah ashgar ul mulk, Khan dowran Khan, General Gerard Lake bahadur, futteh jung: The sword of the state, the hero of the land, the lord of the age, and the victorious in war.”2
Though mention is made of the surrender of no more than one other French officer, named Doderneque; the letter to the Secret Committee, dated the 31st of October says, “The Governor-General in Council has the satisfaction to inform your Honourable Committee, that no French officers of any consideration now remain in the service of the confederated BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.Mahratta chieftains.”1 This, then, was a danger, of which, whatever else may justly be said of it, there was little difficulty in getting rid.
Appointing Lieutenant-Colonel Ochterlony to hold the chief command at Delhi, and leaving a garrison of one battalion and four companies of native infantry, with a corps of Mewatties, newly raised under the command of Englishmen who had quitted the service of Scindia at the beginning of the war, the Commander-in-Chief began his march to Agra on the 24th of September, and arrived at Muttra on the 2d of October, where he was joined by the troops from Futtygur. On the 4th he arrived at Agra; and immediately summoned the garrison, but no answer was returned. He received information, that considerable confusion prevailed within the fort, where all the European officers were placed under confinement.
Finding that approaches could not be made, unless seven battalions were dislodged of the enemy's regular infantry, who, with several guns, were encamped without the fort, and occupied the town of Agra, together with the principal mosque, and some adjacent ravines, General Lake gave directions for attacking the town and the ravines on the 10th, both at the same time, the one with a brigade, the other with three battalions of sepoys. The attack succeeded in both places, though not without a severe conflict; and the troops engaged in the ravines, being carried by their ardour to quit them, and gain the glacis, for the purpose of seizing the enemy's guns, were exposed to a heavy fire of grape and matchlocks from the fort, and suffered proportionally both in officers and men. Another occurrence was, that the defeated battalions BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.agreed afterwards to transfer their services to the British commander, and marched into his camp, to the number of 2,500 men, on the 13th of October.
On that day the garrison desired a parley; but while a British officer, sent into the fort, was endeavouring to remove their objections to the terms of capitulation, they recommenced firing, and would admit of no further intercourse. The breaching batteries, however, having opened on the morning of the 17th, and threatening a speedy catastrophe, they capitulated in the evening, on terms of safety to their persons and private property.1
A force, composed of fifteen regular battalions, sent north by Scindia at the commencement of the campaign, and of two battalions which had joined them from Delhi, after the battle of the 11th of September, still remained. They had occupied a position about thirty miles in the rear of the British army, during the siege of Agra, but without attempting interruption. And they were understood to have in view a march upon Delhi, with the hope of recovering that important post. In quest of this enemy, the British army moved from Agra on the 27th of October. Retarded by the heaviness of the rain, they left the heavy guns and baggage at Futtypore, and on the 30th and 31st, marching twenty miles each day, they encamped on the 31st, a short distance from the ground which the enemy had quitted in the morning. The General conceived the design of overtaking them with the cavalry, and giving them, by a slight engagement, interruption till the arrival of the infantry. Marching from 12 o'clock on the night of the 31st, till seven the next morning, a distance of twenty-five miles, he came up with the enemy, retreating, as he imagined, and in confusion. Eager BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.not to permit their retreat to the hills, and to secure their guns, he resolved, as he himself expresses it, “to try the effect of an attack upon them with the cavalry alone.”
The advance of the cavalry was slow, the road having been rendered difficult by the water of a reservoir, the embankment of which the enemy had cut. The British General, having commanded the advanced guard and first brigade, led by Colonel Vandeleur, to march upon the point, where the enemy, who had for some time been covered by the clouds of dust, had last been observed in motion, directed the remainder of the cavalry to attack in succession as soon as they could form and come up. When they advanced sufficiently near to perceive the enemy, they found them occupying an advantageous position, with their right upon a rivulet which the British had immediately passed, their left on the village of Laswaree, and their whole front amply provided with artillery. The point, to which the advanced guard and first brigade were directed, was found to be the left of the enemy's new position, which without hesitation they attacked. They forced the line, and penetrated into the village, Colonel Vandeleur having fallen in the charge; but they were exposed to so galling a fire of cannon and musquetry, that it was impossible to form the squadrons for a second attack, and the General was obliged to draw them off. They left, for want of draught cattle, the guns of the enemy which had fallen into their hands; and the other brigades retired from the fire to which they found themselves exposed, without being able to discover the enemy, though they fell in with and carried away a few of their guns. The British infantry, which had left their former ground at three in the morning, arrived on the banks of the rivulet BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.about eleven. After so long a march, some time for refreshment was indispensably required. During this interval a proposal was received from the enemy, offering on certain conditions to surrender their guns. The General, eager to stop the effusion of blood, offered immediately to comply with their terms, and allowed them an hour to come to a final determination. In the mean time, the disposition was made for battle. The whole of the infantry was formed on the left, with a view to attack the right flank of the enemy, which since the morning had been thrown back to some distance, leaving an interval to the rivulet. The British infantry was formed in two columns, the first destined to turn the right flank of the enemy, and assault the village of Mohaulpoor, the second, to support the first. The cavalry was formed into three brigades, of which one was to support the infantry in the attack of the enemy's right, another was detached to the right of the British army, to watch the enemy's left, avail itself of any confusion, and attack them in their retreat; the third composed the reserve, and was formed in the space between the preceding two. The enemy were drawn up in two lines, which had the village of Mohaulpoor between them on the left, and extended beyond it on the right.
The time for parley being expired, the British infantry moved along the bank of the rivulet, through high grass and broken ground, which afforded cover. The enemy, as soon as the movements of the British columns to turn their flank became visible, threw back their right, forming an acute angle in front with their former position, and rendering it impossible to turn their flanks. As soon as the British columns became exposed to the enemy's cannon, the field pieces which they had been able to bring up, and the galloper guns attached to the cavalry, formed into four batteries, began also to fire. The cannonade on BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.both sides was very spirited and severe. The King's 76th regiment, which headed the attack, and had often signalized its discipline and courage in India, had arrived, together with a battalion and five companies of native troops, within one hundred paces of the enemy, while the remainder of the column, impeded in its advance, was still at some distance behind. This advanced party were exposed to the enemy's fire; and the men were falling very fast. Thus situated, the General thought it better to advance with them to the attack, than wait till the remainder of the column should be able to form. As soon as they arrived within reach of the enemy's cannister shot, a tremendous fire was opened upon them; and their loss was exceedingly severe. The regularity of their advance being disturbed by the severity of the cannonade, the enemy's cavalry were encouraged to charge. The steadiness, however, of “this handful of heroes,” as they are justly denominated by their grateful commander, enabled them to repulse the assailants with their fire. They rallied, however, at a little distance, and resumed a menacing posture; when the General ordered an attack by the British cavalry. It was performed, with great gallantry and success, by the 29th regiment of dragoons, whose commander, Major Griffiths, was killed by a cannon shot immediately before the charge. The infantry, at the same time, advanced upon the enemy's line, which they broke and routed. The remainder of the first column of British infantry arrived just in time to join in the attack of the enemy's second line, of which the right had been thrown back in the same proportion as that of the first. Major General Ware, who commanded the right wing of the British army, fell about the same BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.time by a cannon shot. After a good resistance, and losing all their guns, the enemy were driven back towards a small mosque in the rear of the village, when the three brigades of British cavalry, advancing upon them from their different positions, charged them with great execution. A column of the enemy on the left attempted to go off in good order with a part of the baggage: but were turned by the brigade of horse which had been detached to the right of the British army, and shared the same fate with the rest of their companions. About two thousand of the enemy seeing it impossible to escape, threw down their arms, and surrendered themselves prisoners, with the baggage and every thing belonging to their camp.
This battle appears to have been gained principally by the admirable discipline and bravery of the 76th regiment. Of the Commander, the gallantry was probably more remarkable than the generalship. He was frustrated in two of his plans; in his attack with the cavalry in the morning, and in turning the flank of the enemy in the afternoon; and the victory was gained at last by mere dint of hard fighting, to which the general himself set a conspicuous example. He led the charge of the cavalry in the morning; and at the head of the 76th regiment (which he allowed to come up too soon) conducted in person every operation of the day. Two horses were shot under him; and his son, acting as his aid-de-camp, was wounded by his side, in circumstances resembling those of poetic distress. The son had but just persuaded the father to mount his horse, after one of his own had fallen under him, pierced by several shot, when he himself was struck with a ball; and at that instant the father was obliged to lead on the troops, leaving his wounded son upon the field.
With seventeen battalions of infantry, the enemyBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.are supposed to have brought into the action more than four thousand horse. Their guns, in number seventy-two, being all taken, were more precisely known. The English loss amounted to 172 men killed, 652 wounded. Three months only had elapsed since General Lake crossed the Mahratta frontier; and not only the whole of that army which the Governor-General had treated as an object of so much apprehension was destroyed, but the whole of that extensive territory in the region of the Jumna, which the predecessor of Dowlut Rao had so laboriously added to his dominions, was placed in the hands of the English.1
During the time of these exploits, the great division of the English army in the south had been employed in the following manner. The strong fortress of Ahmednuggur, held by Scindia, with its adjoining territory, was the object of the first operations of General Wellesley. He moved from his camp at Walkee on the 8th of August, and, arriving at Ahmednuggur, took the pettah by escalade, on the same day. The English had thirty-three men killed, and eleven wounded. They opened a battery against the fort on the 10th; and on the 11th the Kelledar or Governor offered to negotiate; and on the 12th evacuated the fort, on condition of safety to the persons and private property of the garrison. This acquisition was of some importance; one of the strongest fortresses in India, in good repair, on the frontier of the Nizam, covering Poona, and a point of support to the future operations in advance.2
In taking possession of the districts, of 6,34,000 rupees estimated revenue, dependant on Ahmednuggur, BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.and making arrangements for the security of the fort, the General was occupied for several days, and crossed the Godavery only on the 24th. On the same day Scindia, and the Rajah of Berar, having ascended the Adjuntee Ghaut, entered the territory of the Nizam with a large body of horse. On the 29th General Wellesley arrived at Aurungabad, between which place, and the corps under Colonel Stephenson, who had moved to the eastward toward the Badowly Ghaut, the enemy had passed, and had reached Julnapoor, about forty miles east from Aurungabad. The enemy continued their march in a south-east direction, with a view, as was reported, to cross the Godavery, and march upon Hyderabad. To intercept them in this intention, General Wellesley regained the river, and moved eastward along its northern bank. The enemy, however, soon altered their course, and proceeded to the north of Julnapoor. Colonel Stephenson returned from the eastward on the 1st of September, and on the 2d attacked and carried the fort of Julnapoor. After this, he made several attempts to bring the enemy to action, and actually surprised their camp on the night of the 9th of September. They continued their northern movement toward the Adjuntee pass, near which they were joined by a detachment, it is said, of sixteen battalions of Scindia's regular infantry, commanded by two Frenchmen. On the 21st the divisions of the British army were so near, that the two commanders had a conference, and concerted a plan for attacking the enemy jointly on the morning of the 24th. Colonel Stephenson marched by a western route, General Wellesley by the eastern, round the hills between Budnapore and Jalna. On the 23d General Wellesley received intelligence that Scindia and the Rajah had moved off with their cavalry in the morning; but that the infantry, about to follow, were stillBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. in camp at the distance of about six miles.
This intelligence, from which the General inferred the intention of the enemy to escape, made him resolve to attack them, without waiting till the following morning for Colonel Stephenson. He found the whole combined army near the village of Assye, encamped on the bank of the Kaitna river. His road brought him first in front of their right; but as it was composed almost entirely of cavalry, and the defeat of the infantry was most likely to be effectual, he resolved to attack the left. Marching round, he crossed the river Kaitna, at a ford beyond the enemy's left flank; and formed the infantry in two lines, and the British cavalry as a reserve in a third; leaving the Mahratta and Mysore cavalry on the other side of the Kaitna, to hold in check a large body of the enemy's cavalry, which had followed the British army from the right of their own position. As soon as the enemy perceived the intention of the British general to attack their left, they changed the position of their infantry and guns. Another stream, called the Juah, of nearly the same size with the Kaitna, flowed in a parallel direction: at a small distance beyond it, the enemy formed a line, having its right on the Kaitna, and its left on the Juah. This line and that of the British army faced one another; but the enemy formed a second line on the left of their position, nearly at right angles to their first, extending to the rear along the banks of the Juah. The fire of the enemy's guns performed dreadful execution, as the British army advanced. The British artillery had opened upon the enemy at the distance of 400 yards; but the number of men and bullocks that were disabled soon rendered it impossible to bring on the guns; and as they were found to produce BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.little effect, the General resolved to advance without them. The right of the British line was so thinned by the cannon of the enemy's left, that a body of their cavalry was encouraged to charge it. A body of the British cavalry, however, were prepared to intercept them, and they were repelled with slaughter. The steady advance of the British troops at last overawed the enemy, and they gave way in every direction. The cavalry then broke in, and charged them with the greatest effect. The enemy fled, but the force of the English was too small to render the victory decisive. Some of the enemy's corps went off in good order; and Lieutenant-Colonel Maxwell was killed, in charging with the British cavalry a body of infantry, who had again formed, but soon resumed their retreat. Many also of the enemy's guns, which had been left in the rear by the British line as they advanced, were, by a practice common in the native armies of India, turned upon the British by individuals who had thrown themselves as dead upon the ground. The General thought it necessary to take a regiment of European infantry, and one of native cavalry, and proceed in person to stop this fire, which for some time was very severe. His horse in this operation was shot under him. The enemy's cavalry, which had been hovering about during the action, continued for some time near the British line. But at last, the whole of the enemy went off, leaving ninety-eight pieces of cannon, and seven standards, in the hands of the English, with 1,200 men, it is said, dead on the field.
It required no ordinary exertion of discipline and courage in the men to advance with so much steadiness under the carnage of such a fire. The personal courage, too, was abundantly displayed, of the General who led them on And unless in as far as the wisdom may be questioned, first of sacrificing soBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. great a number of men for the only object which could be attained by it; next, of not waiting for the arrival of Stephenson, when the victory would have been attended with much greater, perhaps with decisive effects, the conduct of the action, it is probable, possessed all the merit of which the nature of the case allowed. Of the British army, 428 were killed, 1138 were wounded. As the whole are said to have consisted of only 4,500 men, between one third and one half of the whole army were either killed or wounded. This was paying very dear for so indecisive an affair.1
Colonel Stephenson, though his march had been retarded by some unexpected impediment, arrived on the 24th; and was immediately sent after the enemy, whom the state of the troops under General Wellesley rendered him unable to pursue. The enemy had been so little broken or dispersed by their defeat, that they had little to dread, from the pursuit of Colonel Stephenson; and proceeded westward, along the bank of the Taptee, as if they meditated a descent upon Poorna by a march to the southward through the Caserbary Ghaut. General Wellesley imagined that this was a demonstration to prevent a northern movement of the British troops against the city of Boorhanpore, the fortress of Asseerghur, and the rest of Scindia's places in Candesh. But that General deemed himself sufficiently strong, both to proceed against the places in question, and to watch the movements of the enemy towards the south. Remaining with his own army to the southward, he sent his commands to Stephenson, who had descended the Adjuntee Ghaut, in pursuit of the enemy, to continue BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.his march to the northward, and attack Boorhanpore and Asseerghur. As soon as the plan of the British General came to the knowledge of the enemy, the Rajah of Berar and Scindia separated their armies, the former marching towards Chandore, the latter making a movement to the northward, for the purpose of yielding protection to his threatened possessions. General Wellesley followed to the north, and descended the Adjuntee Ghaut on the 19th of October; Scindia, upon this, instead of continuing his movement to the north, gave it an easterly direction through the valley formed by the Taptee and Poona rivers; while the Rajah of Berar passed through the hills which formed the boundary of Candesh, and moved towards the Godavery. This seemed to require again the presence of General Wellesley in the south, who accordingly ascended the Adjuntee Ghaut on the 25th of October, and, continuing his march to the southward, passed Aurungabad on the 29th.
In the mean time Colonel Stephenson had easily accomplished the service upon which he had been detached. The city of Boorhanpore was evacuated on his approach; and was entered by the British troops on the 15th of October. On the 17th he marched upon Asseerghur, the importance of which, in the estimation of the people of India, may be conjectured from a name by which it was distinguished, the Key of Deccan. On the 18th Colonel Stephenson attacked the pettah, and of course with success. On the 20th the batteries were opened against the fort, and within an hour the garrison offered to accept the conditions which the British commander had proposed on summoning the place. In this manner the fortress was placed in the hands of the English on the 21st, and with it the whole of Scindia's dominions in Deccan. The operations ofBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. the army were now turned against Berar. Colonel Stephenson began an easterly movement towards Scindia; and received the commands of the General to prosecute his march as far as Gawilghur, and lay siege to that, the principal fortress belonging to the Rajah of Berar.1
In the first week of November, Jeswunt Rao Gorparah, and another person of inferior rank, arrived in the British camp, commissioned, they said, by Scindia, to treat with General Wellesley, on the subject of peace. As soon after the battle of Assye as the 8th of October, the British General had received a letter from one of Scindia's ministers, requesting that he would send to the enemy's camp, one of the British, and one of the Nizam's, officers, to settle the terms of a peace. With this request the General deemed it, on two accounts, inexpedient to comply; first, because the letter bore no stamp of the authority of Scindia, who might afterwards disavow it; next, because a British officer in the camp of the enemy, and the appearance, on the part of the British of being petitioners for peace, would reanimate the dejected minds of the enemy's troops. But he expressed his readiness honourably to receive any person whom the confederate chiefs might for that purpose depute to the British camp. Several subsequent proposals had been transmitted to him, but all, through channels, which the principal might have disavowed. Even Gorparah, and his companion, when requested, at their first conference with General Wellesley, to exhibit their credentials, had none to produce. Though liable to be dismissed BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.with disgrace, they were told by the British General, that they might remain in the camp, till they had time to receive from their master those powers which were necessary to enable them to treat, and those documents to substantiate their powers without which they ought not to have been sent. In the mean time a letter arrived from Scindia, declaring his intention to send another commissioner, and disavowing Gorparah and his companion. General Wellesley, who believed, in this case, that the master was the impostor, not the servants, sent for the unhappy men, and made them acquainted with the dangerous situation in which they were placed. They convinced him that on their part there was no fiction, and gratefully received his assurance that he would not render them the victims of the duplicity of their master. In the mean time, Gorparah's application for powers, and his account of his reception by the British General, had been received by Scindia, and determined that unsteady chief to send him the requisite powers. They arrived in the British camp a few hours after the conference on the disavowal had taken place, but were still defective in one essential point; for amendment in respect to which, the General advised Gorparah and his colleague again to apply. In the mean time, he solicited an armistice, and that for both confederates. This, as no ambassador, or expression of a desire for peace, had yet arrived from the Rajah of Berar, and as it was impolitic to allow the hostile Princes to negotiate in common, Wellesley positively refused, in regard to the other chieftain; but granted to Scindia for the troops in the Deccan. It was dated on the 23d of November; requiring, that Scindia should take up a position agreed upon, and not approach the British camp nearer than a distance of twenty coss. Calculating upon the division of the confederates; finding thatBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. the Rajah of Berar was proceeding towards his own territories, that the number of troops he had with him was small, and diminishing every day; ceasing, in consequence, to have any apprehension for the territories of the Nizam, Wellesley descended the Ghaut by Rajoora, with a view to support, and cover the operations of Stephenson against the fort of Gawilghur. The principal part of the army of the Rajah of Berar was encamped under the command of his brother, Munno Bappoo, not far from Elichpoor. And the cavalry of Scindia, who had not yet ratified the armistice, was encamped at about four miles distance. Colonel Stephenson had advanced as far as Hattee Anderah, on the 28th of November; when, being apprised of the situation of the enemy, and the approach of General Wellesley, he prudently halted to enable both armies to co-operate in the attack. They joined, on the 29th, at a place within sight of the enemy's camp. Upon the approach of the British, the enemy retired; and as the troops had performed a very long march on a very hot day, the General had no intention of pursuit. Bodies of horse were in a little time observed in front. And on pushing forward the picquets for taking up the ground of encampment, the enemy were distinctly perceived, drawn up regularly on the plains of Argaum. Late as was the period of the day, the General resolved to attack. The distance was about six miles. The British army advanced in a direction nearly parallel to that of the enemy's line, in one column, led by the British cavalry, and covered on the left and rear by the cavalry of Hyderabad and Mysore. The enemy's line extended above five miles. Scindia's part of the force, consisting of one very heavy body of cavalry, was on the right, having some Pindarees and other BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.light troops, on their outward flank. The village of Argaum, with its extensive enclosures and gardens, was in the rear of the enemy's line; in its front was a plain, cut by a number of water courses. The British army was formed in two lines; the infantry in the first; the cavalry in the second, the British, to support the right, the Mogul and Mysore, the left. The British line was not formed exactly parallel to that of the enemy, but with the right a little advanced to press upon the enemy's left. Some time was spent in forming the order of battle, because part of the infantry which led the column got into some confusion. As soon as the line was formed, the whole advanced in the greatest order. Two regiments on the right were attacked by a large body of Persians, as was supposed, whom they destroyed; a battalion also on the left received and repulsed a charge of Scindia's cavalry. As the British line advanced, the enemy retired in disorder, leaving thirty-eight pieces of cannon, with their ammunition, in the hands of the assailants. The cavalry continued their pursuit by moonlight; but night rendered it impossible to derive many advantages from the victory. The British loss, in this battle, if battle it may be called, was trifling; total in killed, wounded, and missing, 346.1
After the battle of Argaum, the General resolved to lose no time in commencing the siege of Gawilghur. He arrived at Elichpoor on the 5th of December, where he endeavoured to collect information for the attack. Gawilghur stands upon a lofty point of a ridge of mountains between the sources of the rivers Poona and Taptee. It consisted of two forts; the inner, fronting to the south where the rock is most precipitous; and the outer, covering the former,BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. toward the north-west and north. Upon deliberation it appeared adviseable to make the principal attack upon the northern side. To this service the corps of Colonel Stephenson was destined, having been equipped for that purpose at Asseerghur. On the 7th, both divisions of the army marched from Elichpoor; that under Colonel Stephenson, by a road of about thirty miles in length, through the mountains, the road which led most directly to the point of attack; that under General Wellesley, with all the cavalry, in a different direction, with a view to cover, and if possible assist them, by other attacks on the south and the west. The march of Colonel Stephenson, through the mountains, was attended with almost insuperable difficulties. The heavy ordnance, and stores, were dragged by hand, over mountains, and through ravines, for nearly the whole distance, by roads which it had been previously necessary for the troops to make. On the 12th, Colonel Stephenson reached his ground, and at night erected two batteries in front of the north face of the fort. On the same night the troops of General Wellesley constructed a battery on the mountain under the southern gate; but as it was impossible to get up the heavy guns, it proved of little advantage. On the evening of the 14th, the breaches in the walls of the outer fort were practicable. Preparations were made during the day; and the assault was to be given on the following morning. Beside the party destined for the storm, two detachments were led, one toward the southern, another toward the north-west gate, for the purpose merely of drawing the attention of the enemy, as neither of them could get into the fort till the storming party should open the gates. The troops advanced about ten o'clock; and the outer fort was BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.soon in possession of the assailants. The wall of the inner fort was then to be carried. It had not been breached, and attempts were made in vain upon the gate. A place, however, was found, at which the wall might be escaladed, when Captain Campbell mounted with the light infantry of the 94th regiment, and opened the gate. After this the garrison made no resistance. “Vast numbers of them,” says the General, “were killed, particularly at different gates.”
While the two great divisions of the British army were thus engaged, the minor objects of the war had been no less successfully pursued.
The detachment of British troops which had been assembled at Allahabad, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Powell, for the occupation of Bundelcund, crossed the Jumna, and entered that province, on the 6th of September. The situation of the province at that period was briefly as follows.
Chuttersaul, having succeeded a long line of Hindu ancestors, in the Rajahship of Bundelcund, of whom a considerable number had existed in the state of vassals to the Mogul throne, availed himself of the decline of that monarchy, not only to re-establish his independence, but enlarge his dominions. Alarmed, however, at the prospect of what was likely to follow from the power and disposition of his Mahratta neighbours, he sought for protection to his house, by securing the favour of the most powerful of the Mahratta leaders. For this purpose, though the father of a numerous offspring, he adopted Bajee Rao, the first Peshwa, as his son; and left him a third part of his dominions. The rest he divided equally between two of his sons. Further subdivisions took place in succeeding generations. Jealousies arose among the different branches of the family; and wars ensued. The country, as was the habitual state of Hindu countries, was perpetually ravaged by hostile contentions;BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. and at last so much enfeebled, that it offered an easy prey to any invader.
When Scindia made his conclusive attempt, in 1786, upon the expiring sovereignty of Delhi, the Peshwa joined in the expedition, with a view of joining also in the plunder. His object was to obtain the Dooab, or district between the Jumna and Ganges; and he placed Ali Bahaudur, the grandson, by an illegitimate father, of Bajee Rao, the first Peshwa, whom he destined to govern it in his name, at the head of the troops whom he sent to join in the expedition. In the course of the enterprise, a breach ensued between Scindia and Ali Bahaudur, who was joined by another chief, named Rajah Himmut Bahaudur. Frustrated in their views upon the Dooab, which Scindia destined, probably from the beginning, for himself, these two chieftains directed their arms against Bundelcund. From the distracted state of the country, it was speedily over-run, and apparently subdued; but in a mountainous region, where every village was a fortress, the authority of the Mahratta government was not easily, indeed never completely, established. Ali Bahaudur agreed to yield obedience and tribute to the Peshwa, the latter of which was never in his power. He died in 1802, having spent fourteen years without completing the reduction of Bundelcund, one of the fortresses of which, the celebrated Callinger, he was fruitlessly besieging at the time of his death. His son, Shumshere Bahaudur, eighteen years of age, was then resident at Poona; and the Rajah Himmut Bahaudur, who had always retained a great share of power, and who now found the government at his disposal, appointed a distant relation of the family, regent, during the absence of the prince. In this situation were the affairs of BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.Bundelcund, when the Peshwa was driven from Poona, and the war broke out between the British government and the Mahratta chiefs.
In the month of August, 1803, certain alterations were agreed upon between the British government and the Peshwa, in the terms of the treaty of Bassein. Of these the principal were, that the English, in lieu of some of the ceded districts, and as a compensation for an additional number of subsidized troops, should accept of territory in Bundelcund, which it remained for them to subdue, yielding, by estimate, a revenue of 36,16,000 rupees.1 As Himmut Bahaudur, in the probable success of the English, anticipated the loss of his own power, he ingeniously resolved to assist them in their project, on condition of obtaining an advantageous indemnity to himself. He was accordingly ready, with a force of about 13,000, or 14,000 men, as soon as the detachment of the British army entered the territory of Bundelcund. He joined the detachment on the 15th of September; on the 23d they arrived, in conjunction, on the bank of the river Cane; and found the troops of Shumshere Bahaudur, a considerable force, encamped on the opposite side. After reducing several forts, and establishing the British authority in the adjacent district, they crossed the Cane on the 10th of October; and on the 12th gave battle to Shumshere Bahaudur; who retreated with loss, and shortly after, despairing of his ability to maintain the contest, crossed the river Betwah, and retired from the province.
For seizing the province of Cuttack, a part of the northern division of the Madras army, doing duty in the northern Circars, was destined to march from Ganjam, and to be reinforced by a detachment of 6,216 men from Bengal. Of this detachment, a bodyBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. of 854 were collected at Jallasore, to be ready to penetrate into Cuttack, as soon as the movements of the principal force should render it necessary; 521 were to take possession of Ballasore; and 1,300 were to occupy a post at Midnapore, with a view to support the detachments at Jallasore and Ballasore, and afford protection to the Company's frontier against any sudden incursion of the Rajah's horse. Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, the officer chosen to conduct this expedition, having been seized with an illness, which threatened his life, Lieutenant-Colonel Harcourt was appointed to act in his stead.
The troops marched from Ganjam on the 8th of September, and on the 14th took possession of Manickpatam, whence the Mahrattas fled upon their approach. Application was made to the Brahmens of Juggernaut to place the Pagoda under British protection: and with this they complied. The next object was Cuttack; but the inundations produced by the rains allowed not the march to begin before the 24th of September, and even then rendered it so laborious and slow, being also, in some degree, harassed by parties of the enemy's horse, that it was not completed before the 10th of October. The town yielded without resistance, and operations were begun for the reduction of the fort. Of the other detachments, that appointed to take possession of Ballasore had there landed on the 21st of September, and soon overcame all the resistance by which it was opposed. The detachment formed at Jallasore left that place on the 23d of September, and on the 4th of October arrived without opposition at Ballasore. On the 10th of that month, a force of 816 men marched from Ballasore, by order of the Governor-General, to aid Lieutenant-Colonel Harcourt in the reduction of Cuttack. BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.Barabutty, the fort of Cuttack, was a place of considerable strength, and had only one entrance, by a bridge, over a wet ditch of enormous dimensions. A battery, which opened on the morning of the 14th, in a few hours took off nearly all the defences, and silenced the guns on one side, when it was resolved immediately to try the assault. In passing the bridge, the storming party, headed by Lieutenant-Colonel Clayton, were exposed to a heavy, but ill-directed fire of musquetry from the fort; and forty minutes elapsed before they succeeded in blowing open the wicket, at which the men entered singly. Two other gates were forced after some resistance; when the enemy hastened to abandon the fort. The fall of this place delivered the whole of the province of Cuttack into the hands of the English.1
The conquest of Scindia's territories in Guzerat was made by a force from Bombay, consisting of one European regiment, with a proportion of artillery and sepoys, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Woodington. They marched from Baroda on the 21st of August, and encamped within two miles of Baroach on the 23d. Though the next day, when the English advanced upon the place, the enemy were seen posted, as for resistance, in front of the pettah, they were soon compelled to retreat within the fort. Next morning Colonel Woodington took possession of the pettah; and on the 29th the breach in the fort was reported practicable. The storming party were led by Captain Richardson, and displayed the virtues seldom wanting in British troops on such an occasion. The enemy resisted with considerable spirit, for a little time; but then fled, with slight loss to the assailants. After the capture of Baroach, and its dependencies, yielding a revenue of eleven lacs of rupees,BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. Colonel Woodington proceeded against Champaneer, the only district which Scindia now possessed in the province of Guzerat. It was defended by a fort, on Powanghur, one of the detached hills, which form so many places of great natural strength in India. Champaneer, the pettah, was carried by assault with inconsiderable loss. At first the Kelledar of the fort refused to surrender; but, on the 17th of September, when preparations were made for the assault, he capitulated, and the fort was occupied by the British troops.1
The Mahratta chieftains were now eager to escape by negotiation the ruin which their arms were unable to avert. On the evening of the 30th of November, the day after the battle of Argaum, a vakeel arrived, bearing a letter from the Rajah of Berar, and requesting a conference with the British General. First, a discussion arose about the origin of the war; the vakeel maintaining, that the British government; General Wellesley maintaining, that the Rajah was the aggressor. The vakeel alleged, that the war commenced, because the Rajah did not obey the orders of Colonel Collins, in withdrawing with his troops: Wellesley affirmed that the war commenced, because the Rajah, along with Scindia, had assumed a position which threatened the British allies. The vakeel contended, that the troops of the Rajah were on his own territory; that his presence there was necessary, both because the contest between Scindia and Holkar was destructive to Hindustan, and because the peshwa had made a treaty with the English, contrary to the custom of the Mahratta states: Wellesley replied, that for mediation between Scindia and Holkar, the BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.position taken by the Rajah was unnecessary, and that with the treaty of the Peshwa the English would give him no leave to interfere. The vakeel, as the representative of the weakest party, at last declared, that, however the war began, his master was very desirous of bringing it to an end. He was then questioned about his powers, but said he had only a commission to learn the wishes of the British General, and to express the desire of the Rajah to comply. Compensation, for the injuries of aggression, and for the expenses of the war, was declared to be the only basis on which the English would treat. The vakeel applied for a suspension of arms, which was absolutely rejected; and leave to remain in camp, till he should receive powers sufficient to treat, which was also refused; and he was advised to take up his intermediate residence in some of the neighbouring towns.
A second conference took place on the 9th of November, when the vakeel produced letters from the Rajah, expressing assent to the conditions which the British General had presented for the basis of negotiation. The cessions, demanded by the English to effect the stipulated compensation, were then described: For the Company the whole of the province of Cuttack, including the port of Ballasore: For their ally the Nizam, the country lying between his own frontier and the river Wurda to the eastward, and between his own frontier and the hills in which are situated the forts of Gawilghur and Nernulla, to the northward; together with renunciation of all the claims which the Rajah might have ever advanced on any part of his dominions: And for their other allies, any of the Zemindars and Rajahs, the tributaries or subjects of the Rajah, with whom the English had formed connections during the war, the confirmation of all their engagements. The vakeel exclaimed against the exorbitance of these demands, which wereBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. sufficient, he said, not only to reduce, but entirely to destroy the state of his master.
“Major General Wellesley replied, that the Rajah was a great politician; and ought to have calculated rather better his chances of success, before he commenced the war; but that having commenced it, it was proper that he should suffer, before he should get out of the scrape.”1
After several discussions, in which General Wellesley relaxed only so far as to reserve to the Rajah the forts of Gawilghur and Nernulla, with contiguous districts yielding four lacs of annual revenue, the terms of the treaty were arranged on the 16th, and signed by the British General and the Mahratta vakeel, on the 17th of December, 1803. The forts were left to the Rajah, as not being calculated to be of much advantage to the Nizam, while they were necessary to the Rajah, for coercing the predatory people on the hills; and the contiguous districts were granted, in order to leave him an interest in restraining the depredators, to whose incursions these districts, together with the rest of the adjoining country, were continually exposed. Of the country, to which the Rajah was thus obliged to resign his pretensions, he had possessed but a sort of divided sovereignty, in conjunction with the Nizam. It was originally a part of the Subah of Deccan; but the Mahrattas had established over it a claim, at first to one-fifth, afterwards by degrees to one half, at last to four-fifths, and in some parts to the whole, of the revenues. Though an extensive and fertile country, BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.it was not, however, computed that the Rajah had annually realized from it more than thirty lacs of rupees.
To some other articles; as, the exclusion from his service of Europeans and Americans, the mutual appointment of resident ambassadors, and the renunciation of the confederacy; scarcely any objection was experienced on the part of the Rajah.1
If he had not prevented further hostilities by compliance, the British General was prepared to pursue him to Nagpoor, the capital of his dominions, while the troops in Sumbulpore and Cuttack were ready to co-operate, and General Lake, having subdued all opposition in Hindustan, was at liberty to detach a force into Berar.2
At the very time of negotiation, the Governor-General prepared a copious delineation of his views respecting the objects to be obtained by concluding treaties of peace with the belligerent chiefs, and sent it, bearing date the 11th of December, under the title of Instructions, to General Wellesley. Even now the formation of what is called a defensive alliance with Scindia, that is, the substitution in the service of Scindia of the Company's troops to Scindia's own troops, was an object of solicitude with the British ruler: And he prepared two plans of concession; one on the supposition of his accepting; another on the supposition of his rejecting, the proposition of a subsidiary force. The singular part of the offer was; to maintain the subsidiary force, if equal to that which was placed at Hyderabad, without any expense to Scindia, and wholly at the Company's expense; for it was distinctly proposed, that for the expense of that force, no assignment of territory beyond that ofBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. which the cession would at all events be exacted of him, nor any other funds whatsoever, should be required.1
By the ratification of the treaty with the Rajah of Berar, the whole of the forces under General Wellesley were free to act against Scindia: The troops which had been employed in reducing the possessions of that chief in Guzerat, having accomplished that service, were now ready to penetrate into Malwa to his capital, Ougein, for which purpose they had actually marched to the frontier of Guzerat: And the detachment which had been prepared by General Lake to co-operate in the subjugation of Berar, might now commence operations on the unsubdued dominions of Scindia.2
It was not till the 8th of December that the various artifices of that chieftain, to procrastinate, and to evade the proposition of admitting compensation as the basis of negotiation, were terminated. His vakeels insisted that, as his losses were still greater than those of the English, if compensation were the question, it was to him that the greater compensation would be due. It was answered, that he was the aggressor. But this was the point in debate; this was what Scindia denied. He was given, however, to understand, that he was the unsuccessful party, and of this he had a bitter and certain experience. A long discussion ensued on the cessions to which, under the title of compensation, the English laid claim. A further conference took place on the 11th. Other conferences followed, on the 24th, the 26th, and the 28th; when compliance was expressed with the terms, from which it was found that the English would not BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.recede. On the following day, the treaty was signed. The Maharajah ceded all his rights of sovereignty, in the country between the Jumna and the Ganges, and to the northward of the territories belonging to the Rajahs of Jeypoor, Jodepoor, and Gohud; he ceded the fort and territory of Baroach; the fort and territory of Ahmednugger; all the possessions which he had held on the south side of the Adjuntee hills to the Godavery river; all claims upon his Majesty Shah Aulum, or to interfere in his affairs; and all claims of every description upon the British government, or any of its allies, the Subahdar of the Deccan, the Peshwa, and Anund Rao Guyckwar. Provision was made for the independence of all those minor states, in the region of the Jumna, which had formerly borne the yoke of Scindia, but had made engagements with the English during the recent war. The fort of Asseerghur, the city of Boorhanpore, the forts of Powanghur, and Gohud, with the territories depending upon them, were restored. Scindia was also allowed to retain certain lands in the vicinity of Ahmednugger; and within the cessions which he had made in the north, his claims were allowed to certain lands which he represented as the private estates of his family, and to the possession of which none of the rights of sovereignty were to be annexed. Certain jaghires and pensions, which Scindia or his predecessor had granted to individuals, either of their family, or among their principal servants, in the ceded countries, or upon their revenues, were confirmed, to the amount of seventeen lacs of rupees per annum. Scindia most readily engaged not to receive into his service any Frenchman, or the subject of any European or American power, that might be at war with the British government. Lastly, an article was inserted, leaving the way open to form afterwards an additional treaty for a subsidiary alliance; which, in this case, was not to be subsidiary;BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. for the English government stipulated to afford the troops their pay and subsistence, without compensation either in money or land.
Of these cessions it was agreed, between the British government and its allies, that the territory, situated to the westward of the river Wurdah and the southward of the hills on which were the forts of Gawilghur and Nernulla, together with the territory between the Adjuntee hills and the river Godavery, should belong to the Nizam; that Ahmednuggur and its territory should belong to the Peshwa, to whose capital it so nearly approached; and that all the rest should belong to the English. The minor princes, in the region of the Jumna, who formerly bore the yoke of Scindia, and whom it was the policy of the Governor-General now to render dependent upon the British government, and to form of them a sort of barrier on the British frontier against any aggression of the Mahratta powers, were the Rajahs of Bhurtpore, Jodepore, Jyepoor, Macherry, and Boondee, the Ranah of Gohud, and Ambagee Rao Englah.
With the first five of these minor princes, who were already in possession of acknowledged sovereignties, treaties of alliance were formed, on condition that the English should take no tribute from them, nor interfere in the affairs of their government; that, in case of the invasion of the Company's territory, they should assist in repelling the enemy; and that the Company should guarantee their dominions against all aggression, they defraying the expense of the aid which they might receive. The case of the remaining two chieftains required some further arrangements. The Ranah of Gohud had been dispossessed of his territories by Scindia; and all of them, BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.together with the neighbouring districts, had been consigned to Ambajee, one of Scindia's leading commanders, as renter. Ambajee had deserted Scindia during the war; and it was now determined to make a partition, in sovereignty, of the territories which he rented, between him and the Ranah of Gohud, reserving the fort and city of Gualior to the Company. The same condition was contracted, as in the case of the other three princes, respecting mutual defence; but it was appointed that three battalions of the Company's sepoys should be stationed with the Ranah, and paid for by him, at the rate of 75,000 rupees a month.1
The condition to which Scindia was reduced, by the war, and by the sacrifices which he had made for the attainment of peace, excited in his breast the liveliest apprehensions with regard to the power and designs of Holkar; and he now applied himself in earnest to interpose, if possible, the shield of the Company between himself and this formidable antagonist. By one expedient alone, was he permitted to hope, that this important object could be attained; by entering into the system of general alliance, and subsidiary defence. It was agreed, accordingly, that Major Malcolm should repair to the camp of Scindia, to settle the terms of a treaty of this description. The business was accomplished, and the treaty signed at Boorhampore on the 27th of February, 1804. There were two remarkable circumstances. One was, the price which the Governor-General consented to payBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. for the supposed advantage of placing a body of British troops at the disposal of Scindia, and pledging the English government for his defence. The amount of the force defined by the treaty was 6000 infantry, and the usual proportion of artillery. These troops were to be maintained entirely at the expense of the English government, with the proceeds of the newly-acquired dominions; and that they might not establish an influence in Scindia's government, they were not even to be stationed within his territory, but at some convenient place near his frontier within the Company's dominions. The other remarkable circumstance was, not the condition by which the English government made itself responsible for the defence of the dominions of Scindia, but that, by which it engaged to make itself the instrument of his despotism; to become the executioner of every possible atrocity towards his own subjects, of which he might think proper to be guilty. It bound itself, by an express stipulation, not to interfere between him and his subjects, how dreadful soever his conduct in regard to his subjects might be. But the moment his subjects should take measures to resist him, whatsoever the enormities against which they might seek protection, the English government engaged, without scruple, and without condition, to act immediately for their suppression and chastisement. Where was now the doctrine of the Governor-General for the deposition of princes whose government was bad? Where was the regard to that disgrace which, as he told the princes whom he deposed, redounded to the British name, whenever they supported a government that was bad?
In forming his connexions with other states, either for war or peace, the Maharajah bound himself to BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.the slight condition of only consulting with the Company's government, but by no means of being governed by its decisions; and in any war to be carried on by their mutual exertions it was agreed, without any mention made of the proportion of troops, that in the partition of conquests the shares should be equal. The stipulation with regard to Frenchmen and other Europeans, or Americans, was made still more agreeable to the taste of the times; for it was promised by Scindia that he would allow no such person to remain in his dominions without the consent of the Company's government.1
The Governor-General seemed now to have accomplished the whole of his objects; and lofty was the conception which he formed of the benefits attained. The famous official document, which has been already quoted, “Notes, relative to the peace concluded between the British government and the confederate Mahratta chieftains,” concludes with “a general recapitulation of the benefits which the British government in India has derived from the success of the war, and from the combined arrangements of the pacification, including the treaties of peace, of partition, and of defensive alliance and subsidy.” It exhibits them under no less than nineteen several heads: 1. The reduction of the power and resources of Scindia and the Rajah of Berar; 2. The destruction of the French power; 3. The security against its revival; 4. The annexation to the British dominions of the territory occupied by Perron; 5. The annexation of other territories in the Dooab, and the command of the Jumna; 6. The deliverance of the Emperor Shah Aulum from the control of the French; 7. The security and influence derived from the system of alliance with the petty states along the JumnaBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. against the Mahrattas; 8. The security and influence derived from the possession of Gualior, and the subsidiary force established in Gohud; 9. The means of defence derived from these same fountains against any other enemy on the north-western frontier; 10. The advantages both in security and wealth derived from Cuttack; 11. The advantages derived from the possession of Baroach, which left Scindia no direct communication with the sea, or with the transmarine enemies of the British government; 12. The security derived from Baroach against the intrigues of the French with any native state; 13. The additional security bestowed upon the British interests in Guzerat, by the possession of Baroach, and the abolition of Scindia's claims on the Guyckwar; 14. The revenue and commerce derived from Baroach: 15. The benefits bestowed upon the Peshwa and Nizam; 16. The increased renown of the British nation, both for power and virtue; 17. The “defensive and subsidiary1 alliance” with Dowlut Rao Scindia; 18. The power of controlling the causes of dissension and contest among the Mahratta states; the power of keeping them weak; the power of preventing their combination with one another, or with the enemies of the British state; 19. The security afforded to the Company and its allies from the turbulence of the Mahratta character and state.2
This is exhibited as an instructive specimen of a good mode of making up an account.
After this enumeration, the document breaks out into the following triumphant declaration: “The general arrangements of the pacification; combined with the treaties of partition, with the defensive and BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.subsidiary alliance now concluded with Dowlut Rao Scindia, with the condition of our external relations and with the internal prosperity of the British empire: have finally placed the British power in India, in that commanding position with regard to other states, which affords the only possible security for the permanent tranquillity and prosperity of these valuable and important possessions.”
It is material here to mark, what is thus solemnly declared, by one of the most eminent of all our Indian rulers; that without that artificial system, which he created, of subsidiary troops, and dependance, under the name of alliance, there is no such thing as security for “the British empire in the East.”1
The document goes on to boast, that the troops, thus bestowed upon the Peshwa, the Nizam, Scindia, the Guyckwar, and Ranah of Gohud, would exceed 24,000 men; that all these would be maintained at the expense of those allies, which was incorrect, as Scindia paid nothing for the 6000 alloted to him; that this amount of troops would always be maintained in a state of perfect equipment, and might be directed against any of the principal states of India, without affecting the tranquillity of the Company's possessions, or adding materially to its expenses.
It then declares: “The position, extent, and equipment of this military force, combined with the privilege which the British government possesses of arbitrating differences and dissensions between the several states with which it is connected by the obligations of alliance, enable the British power to control the causes of that internal war which, during so long a term of years, has desolated many of the most fertile provinces of India; has occasioned a constant and hazardous fluctuation of power among the nativeBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. states; has encouraged a predatory spirit among the inhabitants; and formed an inexhaustible source for the supply of military adventurers, prepared to join the standard of any turbulent chieftain for the purpose of ambition, plunder, or rebellion. No danger can result from the operation of our defensive alliances, of involving the British government in war; excepting in cases of manifest justice, and irresistible necessity. The power of arbitration, reserved in all cases by the British government, not only secures the Company from the contingency of war, in the prosecution of the unjust views of any of our allies, but affords a considerable advantage in authorizing and empowering the British government to check, by amicable negotiation, the primary and remote sources of hostilities in every part of India.”1
When extracted from these sounding words, the meaning is, that the British government in India had obtained two advantages; 1. an enlargement of revenue; 2. increased security against the recurrence of war, or the evils of an unsuccessful one.
Now at first view it would appear that an obligation to defend a great number of Indian states, an obligation of taking part in all their miserable and never-ending quarrels, was of all receipts the most effectual, for being involved almost incessantly in the evils of war.
This increased exposure to the evils of war was far outweighed, according to the Governor-General, by the power of preventing war through the influence of the subsidiary troops.
Unfortunately the question which hence arises admits not of that degree of limitation and precision which enables it to receive a conclusive answer. The probabilities, though sufficiently great, must be weighed, and without any fixed and definite standard.
One thing, in the mean time, is abundantly certain, that if the East India company was able to keep any Indian state from going to war, this must have been, because it was the master of that state, because that state was dependant upon the East India Company, and bound in all its concerns to obey the Company's will. But if this were the case, and if the native governments were thus deprived of all independent power, infinitely better would it have been, to have removed them entirely. Two prodigiousBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. advantages would thus have been gained; the great expense of keeping them would have been saved; and the people in the countries under them would have been delivered from the unspeakable miseries of their administration; miseries always increased to excess by the union of a native, with the British, government. But, to place this question on the broadest basis: The policy of taking the whole of the Mahratta country immediately under the British government would either have been good, or it would have been bad. If it would have been good, why was it not followed; when the power was not wanting, and when the right of conquest would have applied with just as much propriety to the part that was not done, as the part that was? If it would not have been good policy to take the whole of the Mahratta country under the British government; in other words, to have had the responsibility of defending it with the whole of its resources; it was surely much worse policy to take the responsibility of defending it, with only a part of those resources.
Another question, however, may be, not whether something better than the defensive alliances might not have been done, but whether something might not have been done that was worse; whether, if the government of the Mahratta princes was not entirely dissolved, it was not better to bind them by defensive alliances, than to leave them unbound; whether, according to the Governor-General, the British state was not more exempt from the danger of war, with the alliances, than without them.
To answer this question, it must be maturely considered, under what danger of war the British government would have been placed, without the alliances. It is not the way to arrive at a just conclusion, BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.to set out with allowing that this danger was just any thing which any body pleases. It may be pretty confidently affirmed, that with good government within their own territories, under the known greatness of their power, the English were almost wholly exempt from the danger of war; because, in this case, war could reach them through but one medium, that of invasion; and from invasion, surely, they had little to dread.
Allowing then, that the subsidiary alliances were a scheme calculated to prevent the danger of war; as far as regards the British government, there was little or nothing of that sort to prevent; the subsidiary alliances were a great and complicated apparatus, for which, when got up, there was nothing to do; a huge cause prepared when there was no effect to be produced.1
This is decisive in regard to the practical question. In speculation, another question may still be raised; namely, whether, if the British state had been exposed to the danger of wars, the scheme of the subsidiary alliances was a good instrument for preventing them. In India, as in all countries in corresponding circumstances, one thing saves from aggression, and one thing alone, namely, power; the prospect which the aggressor has before him, of suffering by his aggression, rather than of gaining by it. The question, then, is shortly this; did the subsidiary alliances make the English stronger, in relation to the princesBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. of India, than they would have been without those alliances?
The subsidiary alliances yielded two things: they yielded a portion of territory: and they yielded a certain position of a certain portion of British troops. In regard to the territory, it may, at any rate, be assumed, as doubtful, whether, in the circumstances of the British state, at the time of the treaty of Bassein, it could be rendered intrinsically stronger by any accession of territory; since, by act of parliament, the question stands decided the opposite way: much more, then, is it doubtful, whether it could be rendered stronger by an accession of territory, which imported the obligation and expense not merely of defending itself, but of defending the whole kingdom to which it was annexed. It will not, then, be assumed, that the mere territory gotten by the English was the circumstance looked to for preventing the evils of war. If it was that, the territory might have been taken without the alliances.
The only remaining circumstance is, the position of the troops. For as to the other conditions, about not holding intercourse with other states, except in conjunction with the English, these were merely verbal; and would be regarded by the Indian governments, just as long, as they would have been regarded without the alliance; namely, as long as the English could punish them, whenever they should do what the English would dislike.
Now, surely, it is not a proposition which it will be easy to maintain, that a country is stronger with regard to its neighbours, if it has its army dispersed in several countries; a considerable body of it in one country, and a considerable body in another, than if it has the whole concentrated within itself; and skilfully BOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803.placed in the situation best calculated to overawe any neighbour from whom danger may be apprehended. There are many combinations of circumstances in which this would be a source of weakness, much more than of strength.
If it is said, that the position of the English subsidiary troops, with a native prince, imported the annihilation, or a great reduction, of his own force; this, in the circumstances of India, cannot be regarded as a matter of almost any importance. In a country swarming with military adventurers, and which fights with undisciplined troops, an army can always be got together with great rapidity, as soon as a leader can hold out a reasonable prospect that something will be gained by joining his standards. The whole history of India is a proof, that a man who is without an army to-day, may, if he has the due advantages, tomorrow (if we may use an eastern hyperbole) be surrounded by a great one. Of this we have had a great and very recent example, in the army with which Holkar, a mere adventurer, was enabled to meet, and to conquer Scindia, the most powerful native prince in India.
It was, in a short time, as we shall see, found by the British government itself, that it could regard the presence of subsidiary troops as a very weak bridle in the mouth of a native prince, when he began to forget his own weakness. The weakness, in fact, was the bridle. If he remained weak, that was enough, without the subsidiary troops. If he grew strong, the subsidiary troops, it was seen, would not long restrain him.
I cannot aim at the production of all those circumstances, on both sides of this question, which would be necessary to be produced, and to be weighed, to demonstrate accurately the probabilities of good or of evil, attached to such a scheme of policy, as that ofBOOK VI. Chap. 12. 1803. the subsidiary alliances of Governor-General Wellesley. I have endeavoured to conduct the reader into the paths of inquiry; and leave the question undecided.
In summing up the account of the treaty of Bassein, we can only, therefore, approach to a determinate conclusion. On the one side, there is the certain and the enormous evil, of the expenditure of the Mahratta war. Whether the subsidiary alliances, which were looked to for compensation, were calculated to yield any compensation, and did not rather add to the evils, is seen to be at the least exceedingly doubtful. The policy of the treaty of Bassein cannot, therefore, be misunderstood.
Papers, ut supra, p. 154, 234.
Gov.-Gen.'s Letter to the Commander-in-chief, dated 27th of July, 1803. Ibid. p. 156.
Vide Gov-Gen.'s Notes relative to the late transactions in the Mahratta empire. Ibid. p. 235. It is instructive to observe the prevalence of exaggeration: Col. Collins in his letter from Scindia's camp, dated 7th of April, 1802, says; “Since my arrival at this court, I have obtained more accurate information of the state of the regular infantry in the service of Dowlut Rao Scindia than I heretofore possessed. I believe your Lordship may rely on the correctness of the following statement. General Perron commands four brigades of native infantry, each consisting of ten battalions of sepoys. The complement of a battalion is 716 firelocks, and every corps is commanded by two or three European officers.” Ibid. p. 17. By this statement, Perron's infantry amounted to 28,640, more than one half beyond the estimate of the Governor-General, which yet we may suppose beyond the mark.
This sketch of the history, both of Deboigne and Perron, for which I have been obliged to trust to sources a little uncertain, is given, as exhibiting, which is enough for the present purpose, an idea, correct as to the class of men to which they belonged, rather than, in every minute particular, as to the individuals who are named.
This account, which savours of exaggeration, is derived from an English gentleman, who served at the same time with Deboigne as an officer in Scindia's army. See Asiat. An. Register for 1805, Characters, p. 22.
These particulars, collected by the well-informed editor of the earliest volumes of the As. An. Reg. (see vol. iii. Charac. p. 39), are confirmed by common history in all the leading and material points.
See letters from an officer in Perron's army. Asiat. An. Register, vol. i. Chron. p. 50.
See Rennel Asiat. An. for 1804, Miscel. Tracts, p. 77: Hamilton's East Ind. Gazetteer. The policy of letting him take possession of this country, is thus represented by Lord Wellesley: “The territories of Scindia between the Jumna and the Ganges interrupt the line of our defence in that quarter; and some of his principal posts are introduced into the centre of our dominions; while the possession of Agra, Delhi, and of the western and southern banks of the Jumna, enables him to command nearly the whole line of the western frontier. In the event of any considerable accession to Scindia's power, or in the event of his forming any connexion with France, or with any enemy to the British interests—the actual position of his territories and forces in Hindostan would furnish great advantages to him, in any attack upon the Company's dominions.” Governor-General's Instructions to the Commander-in-Chief, dated 27th July, 1803, Ibid. p. 156. As the Governor-General was making out a case, allowance is to be made for exaggeration.
Of this, as of other parts of the Mahratta history, in which the English were not immediately concerned, when our knowledge is sufficiently certain in all the points of any material importance; we must, for the minute particulars, be satisfied to know that they cannot be very remote from the truth.—The remaining history of Gholam Khadur is short. He took refuge in Agra, which Scindia besieged—Seeing resistance hopeless, he took advantage of a dark night, stuffed his saddle with the jewels which he had plundered from the family of the Emperor, and with a few followers took his flight towards Persia. On the second night, having fallen from his horse, he gave time to his pursuers to come up, and make him prisoner. Scindia, after exposing him, for some time, first in irons, next in a cage, ordered him to be deprived of his ears, nose, hands, feet, and eyes; in which deplorable condition he was left to expire.—The party who pursued him was commanded by a Frenchman of the name of Lostoneaux. It was under him that Perron is said to have been first admitted into the service of Scindia, when he served as a quarter-master-sergeant. Lostoneaux is said to have got possession of the saddle, which Gholam Khadur is supposed to have stuffed with diamonds. This at least is known, that he soon after contrived to slip away, and returned to Europe. His corps breaking up after his desertion, Perron was in danger of losing employment, till Scindia's General gave him a battalion of his own. Asiat. An. Reg. for 1804, Chron. p. 63.—Also for 1801, Charac. p. 39.
The English officer from whose letters, in the Asiat. An. Reg. vol. i. Chron. p. 50. we have the account of the surrender of Delhi to Perron's battalions, says, “The General, from that amiable humanity, which is a noble trait in his character, endeavoured to avoid recourse to hostile measures, in regard to the old king, the numerous princes, and princesses, who are detained in the fort: and even when the siege was laid, it was with full permission of the king, and every measure adopted to obviate any possible injury to the old monarch and the royal family. Though the troops in the fort, amounting to 600, were debarred from all exterior supplies of provisions, yet General Perron ordered that the royal persons should be amply supplied, and their provisions pass unmolested.” The author of a very intelligent letter (dated Oude, November, 1799, on the military state of the north-west part of the Company's frontier; published in the Asiat. An. Register for 1804, Miscel. Tracts, p. 77) says, “General Perron, a French officer of great experience and consummate abilities, both as a statesman and soldier, represents Dowlut Rao Scindia in Hindustan; and is invested with the most full and absolute authority over every department of the government, civil and military.—This power he exercises with great moderation, at the same time with a degree of judgment and energy, that evince very superior talents.”
Papers relative to the Mahratta war in 1803, ut supra, p. 17.
Letter to Governor-General, dated, Camp, near Ougein, 18th April 1802. Ibid. p. 18. Compare the statement of 1,35,00,000 in the Governor-General's notes. Ibid. p. 222.
Ibid. p. 24.
Letter to Governor-General, dated, Camp near Ougein, 18th April, 1802. Ibid p. 18. Compare the statement of 1,35,00,000 in the Governor-General's notes. Ibid. p. 159.
Letter, ut suppra. Ibid. p. 161.
Letter, ut supra. Ibid. p. 267, 268.
See the Gov.-Gen.'s. Notes, ibid. p. 247–and the Dispatch of the Commander, p. 268.
Letter from Gov.-Gen. in Council, 25th Sept. 1803. Ibid. p. 187.
Gov.-Gen.'s Notes. Ibid. p. 248.
Letter from Gov.-Gen. in Council, to the Secret Committee, 12th of April, 1804; Papers relating to the King or Mogul at Delhi, ordered to be printed 12th of March, 1805. See also the Message of the King, ibid. p. 9, which, so far from expressing great anxiety of wish, exhibits much distrust of the English, complaining of their late conduct, and declaring an apprehension, “lest when they gain possession of the country they may prove forgetful of him.”
Papers relating to the Mahratta War, ut supra, p. 249.
Papers, ut supra, p. 234
They probably said something not less extravagant, when he passed into the hands of Scindia.
How often, in looking narrowly into the conduct of public affairs, has the friend of humanity occasion to lament the low state in which political morality remains! its deplorable state compared even with private morality! How many men would disdain the practice of hypocrisy in private, who, in public, life, regard it, even in its grossest shape, as far from importing the same baseness of mind! Notes, ut supra, p. 249.
Ibid. p. 203.
Notes, ut supra, p. 251.
Notes, ut supra, p. 251 to 254, 288.
Ibid. p. 239, 266.
Notes, ut supra, p. 239, &c. and 280.
General Wellesley's Dispatch, papers relating to East India affairs, (printed June, 1806,) No. 25, p. 82.
Let. Gov.-Gen. in council to the Secret Committee, dated 28th Dec. 1803, ibid. p. 297; also Calcutta Gazettes, ibid. p. 290–295.
Letter, ut supra. Ibid. p. 200, 535.
Letter, ut supra. Ibid. p. 243–5.
Letter, ut supra. Ibid. p. 243.
Memorandum transmitted by General Wellesley to the Governor-General of the conferences between him and the Ambassador of the Rajah of Berar. Papers relating to East India affairs (printed by order of the House of Commons, June 1806), No. 25, p. 124.
Memorandum, ut supra; Letter of General Wellesley to the Governor-General; and copy of the treaty. Ibid. p. 122–132.
Notes relative to the peace. Ibid. p. 183.
Instructions of Gov.-Gen. parag. 62. Ibid. p. 121.
Notes relative to the peace with the confederate Mahratta chieftains. Ibid. p. 143.
Memorandum of the conferences between Major-General the Hon. Arthur Wellesley, and the Ambassadors of Dowlut Rao Scindia; Letter from General Wellesley to Gov.-Gen.; Treaty of peace with Scindia; and treaties with the Rajahs of Bhurtpore, &c. Ibid. p. 132–164; and the Governor-General's “Notes relative to the peace concluded between the British government and the confederate Mahratta chieftains, and to the various questions arising out of the terms of the pacification.” Ibid. p. 177–199.
Treaty of alliance and mutual defence. Ibid. p. 164.
Subsidiary it could not well be, when he paid no subsidy.
Papers, ut supra, p. 197, 198.
Contrast with it the opinions of his successor. Vide infra.
Papers, ut supra, p. 198.
The Governor-General, indeed, takes it as one of his benefits, that the native states would be restrained from war among themselves. But he does not inform us to whom the benefit would accrue. If the English were secure from aggression, the wars of the native princes were of no importance to them. If humanity is pretended, and the deliverance of the people from the horrors of war, it is to be replied, with dreadful certainty, that under the atrocities of a native government, supported by British power, the horrors of peace were no improvement upon the horrors of war. The sufferings of the people under the Nabobs of Carnatic and Oude were described by the English government itself, perhaps with some exaggeration, as unmatched in any portion of India.