John Philippart.

The East India military calendar: containing the services of ..., Volume 1 online

. (page 3 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and carried off a considerable quantity of stores.

There were in camp two senior officers to Col. Cosby at the time he
acted as before-mentioned. Lord M^Leod and Sir Hector Munro ; he
therefore felt it his duty first to inform the one on the left of the Une,
Lord M^Leod, of the enemy being in sight ; but, as be declined giv-
ing any orders, referring CoL Cosby to his senior, who was at least two
miles off on the right, the colonel conceived himself justified in adopts
ing the measure he did, and which Sir Eyre Coote was pleased hi^y
to approve of. This circumstance is mentioned to shew there are
critical times, when a deviation from strict military etiquette may be
excused.

The army being now placed in a temporary cantonment, within
the Bound's Hedge of Cudakn^, and Col. Cosby's health having for
a considerable time been in a dangeraos state, he was strenuously ad-
vised by the faculty to proceed to Europe as the only means of re-
covery *« and was charged with ihe confidential despatches of govern^

'* Extract of a letter from the right honourable the pratideot and select comotiittee lat
Fort St. George to the honoarable coort of directors, dated Oct. 1782.

^^ Lieat.-Col. Henry Augustus Montague Coshy having for many months laboured
under a severe indisposition, without any prospect of relief in this country, has at length
been obliged to pioceed to Europe for his recovery. The absence of an officer of his



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CALENDAR. 21

ment and the Nabob of Arcot But the English being then at war both
with the French and Dutch^ he was unfortunately made prisoner on
his way, at the Cape of Good Hope; he however had the address to
preserve his despatches, and being soon after allowed to proceed to
England, had on his arrival the honour of knighthood conferred
upon him by his late Majesty George the Third.

Sir Henry returned to his duty in India in 1784, and was shortly
after, in the following year, appointed by Lord Macartney the Go-
vernor of Madras, successively to the commands of Trichinopoly and
the Tinnevelly district The Poligars of the latter country having
fallen under the displeasure of the Nabob of Arcot, our ally. Sir
Henry was directed to take the field against them with three regiments
of Native infantry, a corps of European grenadiers, a regiment of
cavalry, and field train of artillery, and was so fortunate as to bring
them to terms in a short time.

In 1786 Sir Henry was promoted to the colonelcy of the 4th regi-
ment of Madras European infantry, and to the command of a bri-
gade, consisting of the above regiment and six regiments of Native
infantry ; and at the close of the same year returned to his native
country; upon which occasion the government of Madras were
pleased, in their despatch to the court of directors, by the ship in
which Sir Henry came home, to write as follows : —

" Madras, Dec. 23, 1786.
^^ In the 80th paragraph of our address, under date the 14th of
Oct last, we informed your honourable court that we had permitted
Col. Sir Henry Cosby to proceed to Europe; we have now to acquaint
you that he embarks on board the Man-ship. It is not here necessary
to dwell upon the character of Col. Sir Henry Cosby, of whose zeal

character and abiliHes is a real lots to the senrke, and we hope tbi^ the re-establishmcDt of
his health will soon permit him to return to it.

(Signed) " Macartnrt, Gov. &c. ^c.

*^ Albxandkr Davison.
^<< J. Hbnrt Casamauoe.''



Digitized by



Google



22 * THE A AST. IKPIJL •

and service repaMsd testimoiiiab wkl to be found upon our racords;
we ^U therefwe content ourselvM with repeating to your honourable
court, that he has uniformly maintained the military reputation whi(dl
he long since acquired, and that we consider him as one of the most
valuable officers in your service.

(Signed) ^^ Archibald Campbell, Gov« and Com.4n-Chief

^^ Albxastdbr Davjsox, Council.

•* Jambs Hbnet Casamauor, Council."

In 1796, Sir Henry obtained the rank of major-^general in his Ma?
jesty's army in the East Indies, with some other of the East India
Company's officers, promoted to rank as sudi from 1793, in conscr
quence of a new regulation made for the East India Company's army,
in the settling of which Sir Henry having, at the request of the officers
in India, been placed at the head of the committee in England for
conducting the business, had the good fortune, not only to have his
conduct highly aiq)foved of by the late Lord Mdville, then Mr*
Dundas, one of his Majesty's ministers, and at the head of the Board
of Cootroul for India Affiurs, but also by his brother officers in ge-
neral, Mr. Dundas observing to the committee, on their taking leave
at their last meeting, that his (Sir Henry Cosby^s) disinterested «eal in
behalf of his brother officers, and his. unwearied exertions, entitled him
to participate in the benefits to be derived from the arrangements, and
that be thought he merited an exception to be made in his favor to the
regulation, prohibiting an officer's return after five years^ absence.
Mr. Dundas, at the same time, appealed to the members of the com-
mittee for their sentiments on this proposition in favour of Sir Henry,
^^ who unanimously bore testimony to the merits and virtues of their
^president, from whose unremitting attrition, conciltating manners, and
professional knowledge, they had on various occasions experienced the
most important advantages ; lior could a doubt exist that thdr brokheiv
officers in India would with the utmost cordiality receive Sir Henry
among them, and rejoice to see him in the station due to his long and
distinguished services, and in the enjoyment of those honours and ad-



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CAIrfiNDAR. %

wntagw, for the acquisitiDti isf which he had ao strenuouily aod disior
terestedly exerted bidiseif in their bdialf/^ It is necessary to observe,
that this alluded to the circumstance of Sir Henry Cosby having been
upwards of five years in England, and was by the act of parliament
precluded from returmng to India but under certain rules. The ccnn^
mittee of ofHoere were also pleased^ at a subsequent meeting, after Sir
Henry had withdfiiwn, to resolve on Ttriting the following letter to the
Companj/^s army in India.

" To the Officers of the Establishments of Bengal^ Madras^ ^ Bombat/.

** Gentlemen, — In 6ur general letter by Ihe " Dart,'' which will
convey this despatch, we have, as far as the very short interval that
has ocourred between the final setdement and her departure would
permit, explained every particular relative to the new arrangement.

'^ But our despatches would be materially defective, did we omit
to express to you at this interesting period, when we are on the
pomt of closing our proceedings, the impression we have received,
and shall ever retain, of our respectable president's disinterested
«eal, and unwearied exertions in your cause : these have commanded
our esteem and gratitude through every stage of the negociation,
and must render his name dear to every officer in the Honourable
Company's service, whilst a trace of their military establishment
in Asia shall exist.

(Signed) " J- Peche, Maj.-Gen. - R. Scott, Lieut-CoL
J. Brunett, Major.— J. Taylor, Capt.
J. Baird, Lieut. — J. Ashwoeth, Lieut,
and Sec.^J. S almond, Lieut. & Sec.
''Bemer's Street^ Oct. 13, 1795-

This was followed by a flattering mark of esteem of the coast-
army in particular, evinced by a handsome service of plate, which
they were pleased to order to be presented to Sir Henry.

A depot in England, for the training and disciplining 2000 re-
cruits for the East India Company's service, forming part of the



Digitized by



Google J



34^ THE EAST INDtA

new regulation, Sir Henry was appointed to the command of diat
situation, intended to have been in the Isle of Wight ; but, from a:
difference of opinion between the East India Company and the Board
of Control, this measure was ultimately abandoned* He was after*
wards promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, in common with
other major-generals of his standing in the East India service ; and^ i
St his death (17th January, 1832), was senior of that rank on the
local Ust



THE LATE MAJ.-GEN. SIR HENRY WHITE, K.C-B.

(Bengal Establishment.)

This officer commenced his military career the 1st of August 177^9
as a cadet on the Bengal establishment He was appointed ensign^
14th N. I. 25th July 1776; lieutenant, 12th July 1778; captain,
21st March 1793; major, Slst August 1798 ; lieutenant-colonel, 21st
February 1801; colonel, 25th July 1810; and majw-general, 4th
June 1813.

He served in the year 1773 under General Sir Robert Barker,
and was present when the combined M ahratta army, under Madajee,
Scindia, and Tykojee Holkar, were driven across the Ganges at
Ramgaut He was at that time in a distinguished corps, called
thfe " Select Picket*,'' consisting of a body of gentlemen cadets,
who were formed into a company, and carried arms, until va-
cancies occurred for their receiving commissions: this picket was
always posted on the right of the advanced guard of the army in
the field.

In 1774, Mr White served in the expedition against the Rohillas

* Of the oflBcers composing this corps, only three are now living, and they are knigbtt
commanders of the order of the Bath*



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CALBNDAE. 25

under Col. Champion, who then commanded the Bengal army. He
was present at the battle of Cutra, or St. George, where the enemy
were defeated with great loss : their Com.-in-Chief was amongst the
slain ; and the existence of. the Rohillas terminated as a nation : —
that country, the finest in India, now forms one of the most valuable
provinces of the British empire in Asia.

In 1776 he was appointed to the 2nd European regiment, being
then an ensign : with this corps he served as adjutant, in Fort- Wil-
liam, upwards of twelve months ; when, at his own request, he was
removed to the 26th battalion, then in the field.

In 1778 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and detached
with artillery, 300 infantry, and 100 Rohilla horse, to fortify and
defend the Ghauts (passes), near Hurdwar, against the incursions of
the Sikhs, which service he accomplished, though the enemy made
several attempts to cross the river at his post.

In the years 1780 and 1781, Lieut. White served with the grena-
dier corps then formed on the frontiers to act against the M ahrattas ;
and in 1782 he commanded the flank companies of the 18th regi-
ment of Sepoys, with which he crossed the Jumna, near Culpee, and
was present at the capture of that fort. He subsequently com-
manded the first battalion of the same regiment, and was employed
with it for fifteen months in repelling the incursions of the Mahrattas
from Culpee, and the neighbouring districts; after which it was
marched to the lower provinces, on the occasion of Cheyt Sing's
rebellion.

The peace of 1782, with the Mahrattas, leaving no prospect of
service in the upper provinces of India, Lieut. White was removed,
at his own request, to the 12th regiment N. I. then in the Carnatic.
In the battle of Cudalore against the French army, in 1783, he
commanded the first battalion of the 12th regiment, one of those
corps from northern India which closed with, and astonished by
their bravery, the oldest and best regiments from France.

The general peace in Europe and in Asia terminated the opera-
rations against Cudalore, into which the French retired ; and Lieut.

£



Digitized by



Google



26 THE EAST INDIA

White returned with his regiment to Cannpoor, a march of near 2000
miles.

On the breaking out of the war with Tippoo Sultaun in 1790,
Lieut. White again marched from Bengal to the Caruatic, as senior
subaltern of the 14th battalion of Sepoys, being one of the six bat-
talions which marched under the command of Lieut.-CoL Cockerell,
in aid of the forces employed against the Sultaun of Mysore.

In 1791 he was present with his corps at the siege and capture,
by storm, of Bangalore ; and also at the battle fought near Serin-
gapatam, on the 15th of May in that year, when Tippoo's forces
were defeated by the British army under the command of Lord
Comwallis.

After this the army retired, but continued in the field; and to-
wards the close of the year operations being resumed with vigour,
the important hill-forts of Savendroog, Nundydroog, Outradroog,
Ramgurry, &c. fell to the British arms. At the storming of Saven-
droog*, Lieut. White led the 14th battalion.

* It may not be considered as uninteresting to furnish an account of that stupendous rock
and its surrounding scenery : — ^The fortress of Savendroog is situated on one of the largest
rocks in Mysore, rising above half a mile in perpendicular height, and extetiding at its base
many miles in circumference ; every part of it presenting a surface, black, steril, and un-
friendly, communicating to the mind an idea of an exertion of nature, when in her most
sullen mood.^-The noxious vapours of the atmosphere descend, and collect around its
summit in the night, and continue till dissipated by the rising sun, when the same dreary
and unfruitful rock returns to the view. The ascent is diflBcult, and in most parts inacces-
sible ; abrupt sallies of the rock oppose the approach and form innumerable precipices
towering above each other in rugged majesty till by their aspiring height they are almost
among the clouds. This inhospitable rock is surrounded by a country in strict concord-
ance with Itself, every where broken into ravines apd frightful chasms, offering to the eye
huge unconnected masses of matter, that seem to have been hurled from the hand of Om-
nipotence, to manifest on earth the power and activity of Celestial wrath. The thick and
impenetrable jungle which covers the surface, as far as the eye can reach, except where the
view is broken by the intervention of barren rocks, appears to have remained undisturbed
since the earliest period of creation. The exertions necessary to form gun-roads through
those pathless jungles, are inconceivable.

Savendroog is embraced on every side by thick belts of bamboo forests :— on entering
these wilds, the appearance is picturesque and romantic ; the branches issuing from the
clumps of bamboo trees run in different directions, and form elliptical arcades of various
heights and magnitudes, which recal to memory the structure so remarkable in the aisles of



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY eALENDAR. 27

Early in the following year, 1792, the army under Lord Comwallis
again advanced upon the capital of Mysore. On the night of the 6th
of February, Tippoo Sultaun's entrenched camp, under the walls of
Seringapatam, which was strengthened by several enclosed redoubts, *
well furnished with artillery, was stormed by the British troops under
the personal command of Lord Cornwallis; on which occasion Lieut.

Gothic cathedrals. The heavens are completely shut out from the eye in these gloomy re«>
cesses, which are but faintly illumined by gleams of light, that here and there force a pas-
sage through the foliage. On penetrating idto one of these wildernesses, a volunteer su-
baltern who had at this period joined the army, aptly applied to it the lines of Lucan, de-
scriptive of the Massilian Grove ; and he sometime afterwards related what he felt and
saw in a different situation near Savendroog in the following words : —

^' A few days preceding that fixed for the assault of Savendroog, I was stationed, early
in the morning, with a company of Sepoys on the pinnacle of a rock, proudly eminent,
and towering above the neighbouring heights. Here I was destined to behold a scene,
exceeding in sublimity the powers of description. I gained the summit just as the ap-
proach of day was announced by the crimson rays that yet faintly gleamed across the east ;
but quickly the sun ascending above the horizon, shot his brighter rays on the surrounding
objects, and disclosed to my astonished view the altitude of the rock on which I stood, and
the extent of the prospect it commanded. I beheld myself elevated to the region of the
clouds, which, now and then, in detached masses, rolled beneath me pn either side of the
precipice, intercepting from my view the scenes below ; and now dbpersing, my eye* was
left to range to the full extent of vision ; beneath were collected the armies of the chief
powers of the Peninsula — the British army, that of the Mahrattas, and of the Nizam, were
all within my view : when I turned my eye to the rock of Savendroog, I beheld the gar-
rison actively employed, and their besiegers not less so. I was musing on the scene, when
I was suddenly aroused by the fire from the British batteries, which now began to play
upon the fort, and which were immediately answered by the besieged garrison. The peal
of cannon succeeded too rapidly to allow me to distinguish for an instant the absence of the
roar, which was again repeated by reverberating through the vallies and rocky chasms, and
rendered still more awful by the fall of immense masses of rock, which, rolling from pre-
cipice to precipice, seemed by their fall to shake the foundations of the heights from which
they tumbled. The efiect of such a scene can be better conceived than expressed. On
the first opening of the fire my imagination was filled with the idea of the sound that at
the awful day of trial shall summon the dead from the recesses of the grave ; and, passing
from one thought to another, I felt moved, like Xerxes, with sorrow, when he surveyed his
mighty host, and reflected in ho^ short a jieriod the whole should be no more.

*^ After a few transitions from thought to thought, I fell into a profound reverie, and
(if I can form any idea of what then passed in. my mind) I fancied myself something more
than mortal, and that I was elevated into the region of spirits ; nor was I awoke from mj
dream, till a keen sensation of hunger afforded me an infallible symptom of my being still
mortal.''



Digitized by



Google



28 THE EAST INDIA

White led the right wing of his battalion, the 14th N. I. ; his com-
manding officer, Capt. Archdeacon, was on the right of the left wing ;
the column marched by the right : in the darkness of the night the
wings of the battalion separated, and Captv Archdeacon* was killed.

In all night operations some confusion or mistakes are inevitable,
and the Com.-in-Chief, Lord Cornwallis, before day-break chanced
to be in a very critical situation ; which occasioned Lieut. White
to move to his assistance, without delay, with the right wing of his
battalion, and which suflTered considerably in the charge made against
the left wing of the Sultaun's army, then advancing to the spot where
the Com.-in-Chief was but slenderly guarded. On the following day,
Lord Cornwallis was pleased to signify, through Lieut.-Col. Cockerell,
who commanded the division of the Bengal army serving in Mysore,
his applause and approbation of the conduct of the detachment
under Lieut. White, and ordered a letter to that effect to be read in
front of the corps. The last of ihe above operations is admirably
detailed in one of a series of admirable letters, written in 1793 and
1794, and from which the following is an extract : —

" I left the seven companies of the 52d regiment, and three com-
panies of the 14th Ben^l battalion (commanded by Lieut. White) on
the inside of the Bound hedge, where after dispersing the enemy by
their charge, they resumed their order of march by half companies, and
pursued the fugitive enemy through their camp, which remained
covered with elephants, cattle, guns, tents, and other equipage.— This
disposition, which had been formed without halting, occasioned an in-
terval between the front and some of the rear divisions of Europeans ;
a separation that was of but short duration, for the palace in the Deriah
Dowlat Baugh, pointed out the direct line to the island, to which those
divisions of Europeans with the companies of the 14th battalion,pushed
on. Approaching within thirty or forty yards of the river they per-

• This worthy and esteemed character, whose social and other virtues won the respect
and aflRection of his brother-officers, had laboured under an impaired state of health during
the greater part of the war; and, from indisposition, he was but ill suited to undergo the
fatigues of the 6th of February ; but he would not repress a desire of sharing in what was
expected to be the elosing service of a long and arduous scene of uncommon difficulties.



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CALENDAR. 29

ceived a body of the enemy's cavalry on its verge ; they immediately
formed and gave them a volley, which routed and dispersed them.
Hie divisions now continued their march, and fording the river, joined
those that had preceded them. While in the act of escalading ihe
garden wall of Dowlat Baugh, Capt. Hunter, who commanded these
seven companies of the 52d regiment, resolved to remain in the Dow-
lat Baugh till circumstances should point out where his co-operation
might be necessary to any other attack. Here some diversity of opi-
nion of his senior occurred between Capt. Hunter and the officer com-
manding the companies of the 14th battalion (Lieut. White), relative
to the further progress of the Sepoys. The deference due to the opi-
nion of his senior officer readily induced the latter to wave the sugges-
tion of his own judgment. He, therefore, as soon as his grenadiers,
and a party of pioneers, that joined him in the march through the
enemy's camp, had forced open the exterior entrance to the palace,
communicated his intention to Capt. Hunter of drawing up his party
in the large saloon that they had just entered, and where he would be
in readiness to receive his orders.

" While the grenadiers of the 14th battalion and the pioneers were
employed in forcing their way into tlie palace, a party was discovered
approaching the large ffight of steps that led to it ; on which the rear
division was ordered to face, and wait their near approach. The
party at first was so indistinctly seen, that it could not be ascertained
who they were ; but on advancing they proved to be of the enemy,
who, ignorant that any part of our army had reached the Dowlat
Baugh, were marching thither to take post. They approached so un-
guardedly, that their front rank was received on tlie points of the Se-
poys* bayonets before they were aware of their danger, which as soon
as they had thus fatally experienced, the surviving few precipitately fled.
" The party was now drawn up in a spacious hall, where they remained
about an hour and a half. During this time the garden was recon-
noitred by an officer and party of Sepoys. In its centre there was a
square ball fitted up with great pomp and elegance : this was Tippoo^s
favourite place of retirement; but was chiefly distinguished for a much-



Digitized by



Google



30 THE EAST INDIA

admired painting, bj a European artist, representing tbe defeat of CoL
Baillie's army.

" In the course of reconnoitring the garden two men belonging to the
enemy were seized — the intelligence received from them was alarm-
ing : they stated that the Sultaun's army was again rallying — that thd
fugitives were joining their left wing, which had not as yet been en-
gaged. This information, together with the non-arrival of any other
corps of the centre column, and the unaccountable silence that now
began to prevail, and want of information relative to the operations
or success of every other part of the army, naturally excited much
anxiety. In this situation Lieut. Dowse, of the Madras Engineers,
came down to the place in which the Sepoys had taken post, and ex-
pressed his willingness to go in quest of the centre column. The
officer commanding embraced the offer, and sent a Jemadar's party
of his men to accompany him on that perilous service. Two or three
other of Havildar's parties were also ordered to proceed by different
routes, in the hopes of collecting information : but this intention was
defeated, for the enemy's cavalry soon obliged them to return ; and
soon afterwards a party of the enemy, with some guns, were observed
in motion on the opposite side of the river ; on which Capt. Hunter
sent an officer to request Lieut. While to recross the river with his
party, to charge, and seize the guns. For this purpose the three com-
panies of N. I. instantly moved out ; and at the same time the com-
panies of the 52nd descended the garden-wall. Scarcely had they
gained the river before the enemy, who had rushed into the Dowlat