John Philippart.

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

. (page 32 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and severe fit of sickness obliged Lieut.-Col. Burr, in the midst of
these operations, tq quit the army with very faint hopes of a recovery ;
nor could he rejoin his corps till fourteen months after, when he pro^
ceeded with it to the Deccan, in April 1817; immediately after
which, some unpleasant discussions occurring between the C(HnpaDy
and the Peishwa's government, the brigade at Poonah was reinforced
by a division of the field army, under the personal command of
CoL, now Maj.-Gen. Smith, which surrounding Poonah, led to the

Digitized by



renovation of the treaties with the late Peishwa, on terms that were
expected to produce a permanent pacification ; an idea so deeply im-
pressed on the mind of the government, that the cautionary fortresses
that liad been placed in their hands by the Peishwa's government,
were feithfully restored, and a degree of confidence evinced towards
him, that ill accorded with bis sentiments. These were soon after
obvious, his highness having assembled an immense army of 30,000
chosen troops of the empire at Poonah, while the Company's brigade
at that station scarcely paraded 2000, one batt. having been some-
time before witMrawn to complete the arrangements then in progress
for the formation of the army of the Deccan, under the personal com-
mand of Lieut-Gen- Sir Thomas Hislop, for the extirpation of the
Pindarry hordes, to co-operate with which the Peishwa had been re-
quested to furnish a body of 10,000 horse to join Col. Smith's force,
consisting of the remainder of his highness's subsidiary, then advanced
some marches beyond the Godavery.

At this interesting moment, the officer who commanded the Poonah
brigade being appointed to the staff of the presidency of Bombay,
the command of this division of the British force in India devolved
on Lieut-Col. Burr, under circumstances of peculiar difficulty, as
although he had for a considerable time anterior thereto been suffi-
ciently recovered to mount his horse, and undergo all ordinary exer-
tions, the period had arrived when more than usual efforts, both of
body and mind, might be expected to be required ; as the brigade
under his command occupied a position so completely identified with
the capital, Poonah, that the magazine, in which were concentrated
all its resources and means of defence, was not 100 yards from the
suburbs of the city, within which and the adjacent camps his high-
nesses army occupied the most favourable and proximate quarters,
seating themselves within a few yards of the brigade's depdt of stores,
which had been unfortunately placed at one extremity of the camp>
while the treasury, in which there were several lacs of rupees, occu-
pied the opposite flank of its straggling cantonment. The din and
clamour of their troops and naggaras throughout the night, the mo -

3 A

Digitized by



mentary expectation of their sallying from their positions, which in a
manner embraced the whole extent of that occupied by the brigade ;
and the general report existing at the time of the Native troops havittg
been tampered with, and seduced from their allegiance by the
Peishwa, rendered the situation of Lieut.-Col. Burr at that moment
extremely critical and precarious, particularly as the very scite of his
cantonment was so unfortunately contiguous to the plantations and
enclosures of the suburbs as to afford ample cover to their infantry,
even on the verge of the cantonment.

Under these circumstances, it became necessary for Lieut.-CoL
Burr to abandon his position, and take up new ground at Kirkee,
about three miles north, it being evident he could no longer, with
common prudence or safety, remain where he was, menaced with an
attack both day and night. The Peishwa had assumed a dissatisfied
tone; and his troops, animated by the politics of the day, and gain-
ing confidence from their numbers, evinced a most hostile dispo-
sition. Lieut.-Col. Burr being now joined by the Bombay Euro-
pean reg., which the aspect of affairs had occasioned being ordered
from the presidency, he quitted, on the 2d Nov. 1817, the canton-
ment he had long and honourably maintained, and took up his
ground on aii acclivity, which afforded as favourable a position as
circumstances admitted. The 3d and 4th were occupied in removing
every thing that had not been entirely brought away, not omitting the
flag-staff at head-quarters, which was dug up on the occasion, lest
a trophy of that nature, falHng into the hands of the Peishwa's troops,
should be regarded as an auspicious omen.

Though his highness had permitted of this movement, and of the
removal of the whole of the stores and provisions, without any tnoles-
tation, (it had been necessary, however, to leave a strong detachment
on the old ground till every thing was brought away,) there could be
little doubt the die was cast, and that a few days, if not hours, would
present the denouement of his policy. The Company's Resident,
however, determined to postpone, to the last moment, adopting any
fiirlher steps that might either be construed into fear or concession,

Digitized by



and continued at bis post till the Residency being nearly surrounded
by the Peishwa's troops, in the afternoon of the 5th of Nov., on their
moving out to commence hostilities, left him no other course to pur-
sue than an immediate abandonment of the Residency, and every
thing it contained, and retreat to camp ; meantime the movements
of the enemy had rendered it necessary to fall in the brigade, which,
in consequence of a communication from the Resident, placing Lieut-
Col. Burr at liberty to act, hostilities were immediately commenced,
with the view, in the first instance, of securing his retreat from the
Sungum, which having been anticipated, induced him to occupy an
intermediate position, to cover the brigade of his highnesses regular
infantry at Dapooree, thereby affording them an opportunity, which
they fortunately embraced, of joining him, taking up their position in
line, with three field-pieces as the action began. This was com-
menced by his highnesses army opening a cannonade on Lieut.-Co].
Burr's line, which, afler assuring himself of the co-operation of the
Peishwa's brigade, he had put in motion with a view of attacking the
enemy's position.

As the details of this glorious and memorable event are to be found
in the official report of that important day, which, to say the least of it,
gave a tone to the events and politics of the war, it is not necessary
to recapitulate them here ; suffice it to observe, that on Lieut-Col. B/s
victorious return to camp, he delivered over the command of the bri-
gade to Lieut.-Col« Osborne, who had had the good fortune to join
^e post at Kirkee during the action, having been appointed to one
of the corps under the conunand of lieut-Col. Burr.

It is unnecessary to dwell on the events which intervened till the
arrival and junction of Brig.-Gen. Smith's army, as they are devoid
of general interest; nor is it requisite to recapitulate those which fol-
lowed on the junction of the head-quarters of the force, which soon
after marched from Poonah in pursuit of his highnesses army, leaving
Lieut.-Col. B. again in command of the brigade and position, occu-
pied at the enemy's capital ; neither is it necessary to detail the un-

Digitized by



pleasant discussions* which occurred between Lieut.-Col. Burr and
Brig.-Gen. Smith, and which occasioned the Lieut.-Col. to resign
his command.

On his arrival at the Presidency, in March 1818, he was appointed
to the divisional command of the southern district of Guzerat, which
he held till Jan. 1819, when the Gov., Sir Evan Nepean, having in
contemplation the military organization of the conquered districts in
the Concan, removed him to the southward, as a preliminary mea-
sure to nominating him to a more extensive command, but an oppor-
tunity intermediately offering of placing him on the staff at the Pre-
sidency, he succeeded to a situation in Bombay, (agent for clothing
the army,) which he retained until his death. No particular oppor-
tunities having offered of rendering himself professionally useful since
quitting the Deccan, he endeavoured to establish his claims to the
fiirther acknowledgment of his superiors, by different interesting po-
litical communications and memoirs, which an extensive local infor-
mation admitted of his submitting for the consideration of the govern-
ment, whose thanks he had the honour of receiving, for the zeal and
public spirit he manifested on these occasions.

The services of Tiieut.-Col. Burr were further acknowledged by his
being appointed a Companion of the order of the Bath. He died
20th May 1821, (aged 49) afler a short but severe illness. His cha-
racter is thus delineated by a friend. — " Nature had endowed iiim
with talents of a superior order, which he rendered conspicuous by an
unceasing and successful display of them, in the discharge of the many
important duties connected with his professional character. This ap-
pears from his having been selected at an early period of his military
career, to act in stations of high trust and acknowledged consequence,
whose duties he discharged with great abiHty, and the most un-
blemished integrity. Nor would it be doing justice to his memory,

* See Lieut.-Col. Burr's ^* Appeal to the Marquess of Hastings." — Published by
Hatchard, 1819.

Digitized by



if the warmlh of his heart, the tenderness of his disposition, the ge-
nerosity of his nature, were to be omitted, which, with all their con-
federate qualities, rendered him beloved through life, and lamented in
death. He was interred with military honours, the soldiery of his
batt. volunteering, from a general feeling of mournful respect and at-
tachment, to attend his remains to the grave. The gentlemen resi-
dent at the station where he died, and its near vicinity, entered into a
subscription to erect a sepulchral monument, as a memorial of their
regard while he lived, as well as of the regret they felt for his loss,
now he is no more."


(Bengal Establishment.)

This officer entered the Ccwnpany's service, as a cadet, in 1794; was
appointed ensign in the 1st European reg. 10th Oct. 1795 ; lieut-,
18th reg., 6th Dec. 1796 ; capt., 25th reg., 22d March 1804 ; major,
7lh April 1814; and lieut-coL, 1st batt. 22d reg., 1st Aug. 1818.

He embarked as a volunteer, for service on the Coromandel coast,
in 1798, which was the first opportunity for proceeding on foreign
service that presented itself after his entry into the Bengal army, and
served the whole of the Mysore war of 1799 in command of a grena-
dier company ; at the close of that war he lost his left arm, in en-
deavouring to render a voluntary personal service, which procured
him, at the moment, the notice, and subsequently the substantial fa-
vour of, the Gov.-Gen., Lord Wellesley, in his appointment as as-
sistant secretary to the Military Board in 1802, till which period he
continued to do duty with his corps. In that situation his services
were highly approved ; in every beneficial arrangement connected
with the equipment, the supply, the subsistence, the movement, and
the general efficiency of the army, he participated much more than

Digitized by



his ostensible situation required, and h^ received, more than once,
the acknowledgments of the public officer, who bore the largest and
most responsible share in those arrangements, as well as in the labo-
rious revision of the whole of the military establishments under the
presidency of Bengal, which took place during Lord Wellesley's ad-
ministration. In June 1806 the additional situation of secretary to
the Board of Superintendence, for improving the breed of cavalry
horses, was conferred on Capt. Fagan ; and, in this situation, though
the abolition of that establishment had been determined on by Sir
G. Barlow, soon after he became Gov.-Gen, he was the means of
preserving it to the public, by the information he afforded, and the
views he gave of that institution, and of the advantages that were,
and the still greater ones that might be, derived from it. Both the
preceding situations Capt. F. continued to fill till March 1808, when
Lieut-Gen. Sir G. Hewett, the Com -in-Chief, and President of the
Military Board, appointed him dep.-adj.-gen. of the Bengal army,
with the official rank of major, and, at the same time, acting adj.-gen.
during the absence, at the Cape of Good Hope, of the Adj.-Gen.
This office Major Fagan continued to fill till the 3d of Jan.
1809, when he was relieved by the officer specially holding it^
Maj. F. was next allotted as dep.-adj-gen. to the field army under
Maj.-Gen. St. Leger, and accompanied that officer in his expedition
against the Seiks, in 1809-10. Maj. F- continued as dep.-adj.-gen.
in the field till the Hth Dec 1811, when, on the demise of the Adj.-
Gen., Col. Ball, he was appointed to that office, with the official rank
of lieut-col., though only a capt. in his reg. This appointment was
confirmed by the Court of Directors, in consideration, as they ex-
pressly stated, of Maj. F.'s great merits as an officer, his having lost
an arm on service, and officiated before as adj.-gen. ; but they laid
it down as a rule, in reference to the many instances that had lately
occurred of officers of inferior rank, and short standing, being ap-
pointed to the highest and most distinguished offices in their military
service, that no officer should, in future, hold the situation of adj.-gen.,
or quart.-mast.-gen., who had not attained the rank of major, either in
his reg., or by the operation of H. M.'s brevet. This regulation of

Digitized by



the Court was, agreeably to their orders, promulgated to the army ;
and the Supreme government, on that occasion, recorded their sense
of the merits of Lieut.-CoJ. F. in the following general orders to the
army: —

'' Fort William, Sept. 23, 1814.

" His Exc. the Hon. the Vice-President in council most cordially
participates in the satisfaction which his Exc. the Right Hon the
Gov.-Gen*, and Com.-in-Chief, has derived, and expressed, in ob*
serving that the Hon, the Court of Directors, in prescribing a rule
for the selection of officers to fill the office of adj.-gen. of the Bengal
army, have been pleased to except from the operation of that rule
the very meritorious officer who now holds that arduous and im-
portant situation. It is true, had it not been expressly declared by
the Hon. Court, that the order was not to affect the appointment of
Lieut.-Col. F., its scope would not necessarily have deprived the go-
vernment, and the Com.-in-Chief, of that officer's highly valuable ser-
vices, since his promotion to the rank of regimental major (subsequent
to the date of the order) rendered him eligible to the office, according
to the principle established by the Hon. Court, and published in ge-^
neral orders, under date the ISth ulu ; still, it is most gratifjring that
a just sense of Lieut-Col. Fagan's great merits should have determined
the Hon. Court to exempt him from the operation of a rule which,
at the time of its adoption, was supposed to include his case. Not-
withstanding so public and so flattering a tribute to Lieut-Col. F/s
character, the Vice-President in council, in concurrence with the
Gov.-Gen., and Com.-in-Chief, cannot deem himself excused from
discharging what he thinks an act of justice to that officer's reputation,
by expressing his high opinion of Lieut.-Col. Fagan's particular quali-
fications for executing the office ably, and by declaring his own per-
sonal gratification in the power to avail himself of * Lieut.-Col. Fa-
gan's talents and indefatigable assiduity.^''

During the late arduous contest with the state of Nepaul,
commenced and terminated by that great statesman and general,
the Marquis of Hastings, Lieut-CoL George Fagan was in the

Digitized by



field with that illustrious commander, beariug the principal share
in all the details and arrangements connected with the army,
engaged in that memorable war; and his services were duly ap-
preciated and acknowledged by the government, in their general
orders of the 20th March 1816, announcing the triumphant close
of that war, as the following relative extract from those orders
will indicate : — " These acknowledgments ought not to be closed
without an advertence to the claims of those-who, though not actually
serving with the divisions employed during the two campaigns, essen-
tially promoted the success of the public efforts. To Lieut.-Col. F.,
and the officers under him, in the Adj.-Gen/s department, on whom»
in the execution of the Com.-in-Chiers orders, devolved the princi-
pal labour of detail in the preparation of the troops for the field,
and in many subsequent provisions, the obligations of government
are unfeigned ly felt/'

A few months preceding the termination of this war, Lieut.-CoL F.
was compelled to withdraw from the labours of his office, and to solicit
leave to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope, for the re-establishment
of his health, which was seriously impaired by assiduous and inde-
fatigable application to business. Permission was accordingly and
immediately granted, and the same announced to him, in the following
letter, from the Secretary to Government, in the military department : —
" Sir, — I am directed by the Right Hon. the Gov.-Gen. in Council,
to acknowledge the receipt of your letter. No. 513 A. dated the
i24th inst., with the medical certificate which accompanied it, and
to acquaint you, that permission will be granted to you in general
orders of this date, to make a voyage to sea for the recovery of
your health, and to be absent, on that account, for ten months,
on furnishing the prescribed certificate from the pay department
In making this communication, I am directed to signify to you the
sincere regret of the Gov.-Gen. in Council, that ill health, acquired
by an unwearied attention to the duties of the laborious and im-
portant department, of which you are the head, should, for a sea-
son, deprive the government of the benefit of your valuable ser-

Digitized by



vice$; and to express the anxious hope of his lordship in council,
that temporary secession from your public avocations, and change
of climate, may effectually restore you to the enjoyment of health.

(Signed) ** C. W. Gardener, Sec. to Government.

" CouncU Chamber, 29th Dec. 1815/'

At the Cape of Good Hope, Lt-Col. F. remained a twelvemonth
without any decided amendment in his health, and his immediate
return to England was in consequence deemed advisable ; he accord-
ingly embarked for that country in Nov. 1816, and thereby defini-
tively vacated the office, which he had so long filled with acknow-
ledged honour to himself and benefit to the state. The following
general orders were issued by the Marquess of Hastings on the occasion
of hiai retirement : —


Fori William, April 18, 1817.
" Lt.-Col. G. H. Fagan, late adj.-gen. of the army, having furnished
a medical certificate from the Cape of Good Hope, the leave granted
to him conditionally, in general orders of the 29th Dec. 1815, to pro-
ceed to sea for ten months for the benefit of his health, and con-
firmed in general orders of the 12th Jan. 1816, is altered to a fur-
lough to Europe on the same account, commencing from the 14th
Nov. last, the date of his quitting the Cape. While the Gov.-Gen,
in Council indulges his regret at what the service has sufiered in the re-
linquishment of the situation of adj.-gen. byLt.-CoL G. Fagan, His Ex.
must endeavour to diminish the efiect of that loss by rendering the
memory of Lt.-Col. Fagan's official exertions an example and incite-
ment to the army. The universal tribute of acknowledgment paid to
the ability and indefatigable zeal of Lt.-Col. F. ought to stimulate
every officer to aim at attaining a similar character. This, howevar,
is not to be acquired by order alone. Recollection of the tone of
Lt.-Col. F.'s professional energy should impress this conclusion on
every one disposed to strive for equal reputation, — that no talents,
not even such as Lt-Col. F. possessed, will carry an individual to
proud distinction, unless he join to them habits of application, and a

3 B

Digitized by



judicious direction of his geniiia. It iS' to the combination of diese
qualities that Lt*CoL F. has owed the high estimation in v^sich he is
held, dnd the sorrow now expressed that the service/ has ceased to
benefit by them.^

Lieut.-Col. Fagan again returned to India about the ^d of ^ 1820,
and in a few months after closed his mortal career, May 25, 1821, at
the age of forty-two.


{Bombay Establishment.)

This officer went to Bombay as a cadet in 1783, just after the cessa-
tion of a long war in India ; a state of affairs which rendered promo-
tion so slow, that he, in cotnmon with many of his contenlporaries on
that establishment, did not obtain his first c<>mmission as .ensign eaidier
than 1788^ when, on the* reformation of the Bombay army in li788,
by Gen. Sir W. Medows, Gov. and Com*-in-Chief of that.presidency,
through the instnimeiltality of Major, now Lieut.-Gen., G. V. Hart,
(then adj.-^gen. of the Bombay army,) Mr. Willkms obtained his
commission. He was removed to Malabar, on promotion to lieut,
early in 1789, where lie remained several years, and sarved in those
distinguished corpse the Bombay European reg., and' the Bombay
grenadier batt., in the campaigns in Mysore^ under Gen. Sir Robert
Abercromby, who commanded the field army employed against the
dominions and capital of Tippoo Sultaun. After serving on the re-
gimental staff of his corps, he wa!s selected by Gen. Bowles, com-
manding officer in Malabar, as his mil; sec; which situation he con-
tinued to hold during that officer's subsequent command of the forces
of Bombay. In 1798 he obtained the rank of capt.

A change in the command of the Bombay army removed this

Digitized by




officer from ^e general stafl^ and. he prooeeded to EoglackLon. fiir^-
lou^ for the benefit of his heahh. In 1801 ^3 he was again employed
on the gen^^ staffs of the Bombay army, as ipa|or of britgacte to .the
contingent, then serving in Guzerat, under Lieut-Col. A. Walker*,
in co-operation with the government c^ his Highness the Guicawar.
In the confidential discharge of a pacific and delicate mission to Mul-
har Rao, on that chiefs own invitation, Capt. Williams was treacher-
ously detained in the fort of Kurree ; while a furious attack was,
with almost unexampled perfidy, impelled on the small body of
troops under Col. Walker. The utter defeat and dispersion of the
^ forces of Mulhar Rao, he being made a prisoner, effected the release

\ of Capt. Williams, As a reward for his services and sufferings, he

\ was appointed, by the Bombay government, dep. quart.-mast-geu. to
the subsidiary force in Guzerat.

The Guicawar ruler of Guzerat having ceded the important fort pf
iKiurato the East India Company, Capt WilUams was appointed to
receive charge of, and command it. The cession was obtained under
circumstances that made its surrender to the English a matter of un-
certainly and anxiety; and it required much circiunspection and
management to ensure success to the enterprize, as it may be termed,
of taking possession* This was effected, howev^, in the most com-
plete 'and satisfactory manner ; and Capt. Williams continued in the
miKtary command, charged also with the civil jurisdiction of the dis-
trict, of which Kaira is the capital, until the general Mahratta war in
1803. He was then selected to direct the operations of a body of
Guicawar cavalry, intended to act in co-operation with the Bombay
army, under Maj.-Gen. (now Sir Richard) Jones, and the Bengal
army, under Gen. Lord Lake, in the north of India. But, after pro-
ceeding some marches, this ill-organized body of horse, owing to the
mismanagement or treachery of its immediate leader, Meyput Row,
refused to advance any further, and returned into Guzerat. Capt.
Williams, who was unable to prevent this defection, then joined the

* Vide statement of Services, p, 160«

Digitized by