John Philippart.

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

. (page 36 of 45)
Online LibraryJohn PhilippartThe East India military calendar: containing the services of ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 36 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

cautiously towards the Carri Ghaut hill, to which his lordship meant
to retire when the day broke, to ascertain whether it was in possession
of the British or the enemy ; for although the hill was not three-quar-
ters of a mile in the rear of the centre column, no communication
from it had been received : his lordship, at the same time, ordered
him to take as many troopers of his body guard as he judged necessary.
He was well mounted, but found much difficulty in tracing his way.
From the flashes of the guns he could, at intervals, discover the hill :
in crossing a ravine he lost the troopers, and halted a moment to lis-
ten; by this time the firing had ceased, and the grey of the morn
appeared- Lieut Sandys cautiously advanced, but it was so dark
that he got close to the hill before he well knew where he was. He
heard a sentry cough, and immediately challenged three times ; but
no answer was returned: he now imagined that the hill was in
possession of the enemy : all was still and quiet ; but being unwil-
ling to return without accomplishing the object for which he was sent,
and having a little open space before him, which he remembered ob-
sCTving from the top of the hill the year before when foraging, he
advanced, and asked, in a loud voice, " Who commands.^' intend-
ing thalt his voice should reach the top of the hill; when^ to his
astonishment, a, voice, which he knew to be that of Col. Close, the

Digitized by



Dep.-Adj.-'Gen., repKAl, seizing the reins of his horse, at the same
time, " General Medows/' He found himself close upon the column,
and saw the General, Col. Cockefell, and several other officers. Gen.
Medows asked if Lord Cornwallis was well ; and having answered a
few more questions, he was impatient to get back to his lordship, and
galloped away. At this time the day had so far advanced, that a
person might be discovered at the distance of fifteen or twenty yards.
He soon met Lord Cornwallis, and the troops, retiring from under the
cannon of the fort towards the hill, and astonished his lordship by
reporting that he had found Gen. Medows'* army under the Carri
Ghaut hill

* In 1792, on the arrival of the British army in the vicinity of Seringapatam, a night at-
tack of that formidabk fortress was pliuined by his Esc. the Com.-in-Chief, Lord Corn-
wallis. As some errors and confusion generally attend night operations, it may here be
presumed, that nothing but the peculiar situation of the enemy at this period could have in-
duced his lordship to adopt this mode of attack ; and unfortunately, on this occasion, a dis-
aster occurred to Gen. Medows' column (alluded to in this service), which^ from the pos-
session it took of the General's feelings, nearly terminated his life.

The army moved in three columns ; the right commanded by Gen. Medows, the centre
by the Com.-in-Chief^ Lord Cornwallis, and the left by Col. Maxwell. The centre entered
the entrenchments, and a skirmish ensued, on which the enemy fled in consternation* In
the meanwhile, the Native guide (furnished to Gen. Medows by Lord Cornwallis), either
from error in judgment or design, led the right column wrong, and prevented its speedy
junction and co-operation with the centre.

Gen. Medows marched along the Bound Hedge, and advanced on the Mosque redoubt,
without a knowledge or suspicion of the fortification, until fired upon by the enemy. The
General returned the fire of this formidable redoubt, gallantly defended by Gen. Lally's
corps of Frenchmen, and the troops of Tippoo Sultaun, and finally stormed and carried it,
after much bloodshed on both sides.

General Medows then proceeded to join the division under Lord Cornwallis. A swamp
obstructed the march of hb troops, and, in order to clear it, he took a circuitous route, by
which he unknowingly entered the tract of the centre, and, to his great mortification, found
Umself at the Pagoda hill, where be was jomed at day break by the Com.-in^Chief. These
untoward events, which prevented the right column joining in time, disarranged the plan of
the Com.-in-Chief, and most sensibly afiected the mind of Gen. Medows. They were,
however, no other dian misfortunes incident to all night operations, on ground that was
not familiar to any European.

The brave but sanguinary Tippoo made a powerful resistance, but his eflbrts were vain,
and the British army, after driving him within the walls of his fortress, commenced a re-

Digitized by



The army got to the Carri Ghaut hill just before it was daylight,
and before the enemy perceived that the centre column had retired.
His lordship now gave orders for a relief of the troops on the island,
and soon after the enemy commenced their attack upon Sibbald's
redoubt. ,^

With regard to the nature of the appointment held by this oflScer, it
may be sufficient to observe, that the convenience of corps and indi-
viduals depending upon the exertions of the agent for the carriage of
camp equipage, subjected him to almost constant personal exertions
throughout the range of an extensive line, and to litigious and con-
troversial correspondence; yet Lord Cornwallis acknowledged, that
he had never received any complaints of partiality in allotment, or of
a want of exertion to give immediate remedy or assistance when re-
quired by corps. In 1793 he returned to Bengal, having had under
his charge, during sixteen months of the most active period of the war
in Mysore, 102 elephants, 1000 head of other cattle, with about 700
people attached to them ; and the whole of his salary (there were no
emoluments) amounted to 2400 pagodas; and he was obliged to keep
three horses to perform his duties, of which foraging was a principal
one. In the active part of the campaign of 1792-3, he had 184 ele-
phants under his charge.

The choice of the appointments at that time vacant was given, by
Lord Cornwallis, to this officer, and he chose that of fort-ajdutant ; to
which afterwards was added the barrack -mastership of Fort William,
which he held during the years 1794, 5, 6, and 7, acting as town-major
frequently ; and he was appointed aid-de-camp to the acting Governor

galar siege. A cessation of hostilities took place on the 24th Feb., and a pacification on
the 19th March.

Lord Cornwallis gave every honourable testimony to the conduct of General Medows ;
and in his lordship's despatches to the Court of Directors^ dated 4th March 1722, is
.the following encomium : — << No words can express the sense that I shall entertain through
life of the ability, refined generosity, and friendship^ with which General Medows has in-
variably given me his support and assistance." — J, P.

Digitized by



In 1798 he was appointed agent for the supply of military stores,
which office he held until he was about embarking for Europe in Jan.
1803, ivhen he was promoted to the rank of maj., having, in the
intermediate time, been directed by Lord Wellesley, the Gov.-Gen.,
to act as adj.-gen. to the army in Bengal, still continuing to hold
the appointment of agent of stores.

It should here be noticed, that shortly after the arrival of Lord
Wellesley, in Bengal, in consequence of orders from the Court of
Directors, his lordship canvassed and sifted, for six months, with sin-
gular scrutiny, and the unwearied application of the public officers,
the appointment of this officer as agent of stores ; and in May the
Marquess rescinded the orders respecting his appointment, which
he had peremptorily issued in Dec. preceding; and at his public
levee, on the king's birth-day, in 1800, his lordship stated, that the
investigation, although most severe, had done this officer much ho-
nour, and he congratulated him upon the result. Lord Wellesley
ftirt^er added, that he had, in consequence thereof, extended his ap-
poiptment upon the old footing foj six months ; and it was renewed,
from time to time, while he remained in India; his lordship declar-
ing, that the gains were as exclusively and fairly this officer's own
as much as any merchant's ; the risks being his own, and the sup-
plies, on urgent demands, particularly in the last Mysorean war,
always readily furnished, and often upon his own advances and
credit; that he saw not, how the public interests could be better pro-
moted than by a continuation of the same system.

The following are the dates of this officer's commissions — ens. 29th
July 1779; lieut. 21st March 1781; capt 7th Jan. 1796; maj. 1st
Jan. 1803 ; and lieut.-col. 21st Sept. 1804- He retired from the ser-»
vice 5th June 1805.

Digitized by




(Bengal Establishment.)

This oflSlcer w^s appointed a cadet in 1772; ens. 4th Aug. 1776;
lieut. 21st July 1778; capt. 6th Aug. 17.93; maj. 1st Nov. 1797;
Iieut.-coL 21st Feb. 1801; col. 25th July 1810; and maj.-gen. 4th
June 1813.

This officer had the honour, with many other cadets, of the year
1772, to carry arms in a distinguished corps, already referred to,
" The Select Picket.*'* They were early called into the field, and,
in 1774, bore a distinguished part in the Rohilla battle of St. George.
During several years of his service, as lieut*, this officer w^s adj. to
the corps of N. I. to which he belonged ; and on his succeeding to
the command of a batt., as lieut.-coL, his corps was considered one of
the best in the service.

The province of Bundleomd, and contiguous territories, continued,
for some years, in a state of great anarchy and confusion, consequent
to the Mahratta war of 1803-4 and 5 ; and Lieut.-Col. Martindell
was twice selected, for the important command of the troops in that
province, under circumstances of much embarrassment and diffi-
culty. Hostilities and harassing warfare prevailed at all seasons of
the year, so long as the malcontents held possession of many of the
strong holds in that country, and it required both judgment and
ability, in the commanding-gen-, to oppose them with success, and
bring that valuable territory to a complete settlement, and which was
eventually accomplished.

In 1809 the strong fortress of Adjygurh surrendered to the troops
under Lieut.-CoK MartindelFs command; on which occasion the
Gov.-Gen. expressed " the sentiments of approbation and applause,
with which his Lordship, in council, contemplated the professional

* See page 24.

Digitized by



skill and ability displayed by Lieut«*CoL MartindeU, in regulating
the operations of the detachment/' His lordship further recorded— <-
^* His public thanks generally, to the officers and men employed dur<^
ing the late campaign in Buodlecund, and especially to Lieut.-CoL
Martindell, whose judgment and military skill, seconded Jby the
courage and exertions of the gallant detachment, which he com-
manded, happily accomplished an undertaking, not less arduous in
its nature than important in its effects, to the interest of the pubhc

In 1819 the important fortress of Callinger, the capital, or bead**
quarters of the province, surrendered to a large force, under Col.
Martindell, after an attempt* to carry it by storm had been re-
pelled by the garrison. The following paragraph is from the Gov.-
Gen. in council's communication of this event to the Court of
Directors — *• We participate most cordially in the applause beslowed
by his Exc. the Com. -in-Chief, and by Col. Marlindell, on the exem-
plary, gallant, and persevering intrepidity manifested by the officers
and men engaged in the assault; an assault, which, although it
failed in the immediate attainment of its object, can scarce be deemed
unsuccessful, since to the terror inspired by it must be ascribed the
subsequent surrender of this almost impregnable fortress, on terms,
and in a manner^ which have maintained the credit of our arms,
without ^ny sacrifice of dignity, or any concessions of material im*
poFtance, to our interests; we cpncur also entirely in the praise be-
stowed b^ the Com-in-Cbief, ,on the distinguished zeal, judgment,
and exertions, of Col. Martindell, in conducting the arrangements
and operations of the late service in Bundlecund."

* The western army, which stormed Callioger, was commaDded H)y Maj.-Gea. Sir
R. R. Gillespie^ K* C. B. The gen. directed it to be stormed at all points at the same
moment; unfortunately some of the divisions did not come up in time, and the others
lost many men, and could make no impression. Gen. Gillespie, observing the disastrous
state of things, flew to the head of the attacking column, but not being vigorously se-
^nded, he failed, and lo^t his life in the attempt. Maj.-Gen. Martindell succeeded to the
coromind of this amqr ; aiM>ther unsuccessful attempt was made to storm the place : the
bravedefenden^ however, bad suffered so much that they retired from the fort.

Digitized by




Maj.-Gen. Martindell was one of the officers of the Hon. Com-
pany's service, first selected for participating in the honours of the
Order of the Bath, and of which he is a Knight Commander.

Maj.-Gen. Martindell held a distinguished command in the moun-
tains, during the Nepaul war, and was subsequently occupied in re-
storing tranquillity to the province of Cuttack, disturbed by the in-
cursions of a numerous banditti, connected with the predatory system
of the Pindarries.

In April 1820, SirG. Martindell received the command of the Ist
division of the field army, and the general command of the field army»
which appointment ceased in June 1822.


{Bombay Establishment.)

At an early age this officer left England as a cadet, on the Bombay
establishment; in 1780, he obtained an ensigncy in the Bombay
European reg., and was soon after promoted and removed to the
10th batt. N. I. With this corps, Lieut. Holmes was actively em-
ployed in the war against the Mahrattas, and wa^ present, among
other aflFairs, at the capture of Bellapore and Panwell, in 1780 and
the following year. In 1781 and 1782, he was at the defence of
Tellichery, so perseveringly besieged by the troops of Hyder Ally*,

* The character of this chieftain^ whose name and aetions have sp repeatedly been
referred to in this work, is thus pourtrayed by Col. Wilks. in his *^ Sketches of the South
of India:'*—

^^ In common with all sovereigns who have risen from obscurity to a throne, Hyder
waded through crimes to his object ; but they never exceeded the removal of real impedi-
ments^ and he never achieved through blood what fraud was capable of efiecting. He
fixed his stedfast view upon the end, and considered simply the efficiency, and never the
moral tendency of the means. If he was cruel and unfeeling, it was for the promotion of

Digitized by



under Serdar Khan. At the brilliant sally of the little garrison,
under their gallant commander, Maj. Abington, Jan. 7, 1782, Lieut.

his objects^ and never for the gratification of anger or revenge. If he was ever
liberali it was becauf e liberality exalted his character, and augmented his power ; if he
was ever mercifal, it was in those cases where the reputation of mercy promoted future
submission. His European prisoners were in irons, because they were otherwise deemed
unmanageable ; they were scantily fed, because that was economical ; there was little dis-
tinction of rank, because that would have been expensive; but, beyond these simply
interested views, there was, by his authority, no wanton severity ; there was no compas-
sion, but there was no resentment ; it was a political expenditure for a political purpose,
apd there was no passion, good or bad, to disturb the balance of the account. He carried
merciless devastation into an enemy's country, and even to his own ; but never beyond
the reputed utility of the case : he sent the inhabitants into captivity, because it injured
the enemy's country, and benefited his own. The misery of the individuals was no part
of the consideration, and the death of the greater portion still left a residue to swell a
scanty population. With an equal absence of feeling, he caused forcible emigrations
from one province to another, because he deemed it the best cure for rebellion ; and he
converted the male children into military slaves, because he expected them to improve the
quality of his army. He gave &ir, and occasionally brilliant encouragement to the active
and aspiring among his servants, so long as liberality proved an incitement to exertion,
and he robbed and tortured them without gratitude or compensation, when no further ser-
vices were expected ; it was an account of profit and loss, and a calculation, whether it
were more beneficial to employ or to plunder them. Those brilliant and equivocal virtues,
which gild the crimes of other conquerors, were utterly unknown to the breast of Hyder.
No admiration of bravery in resistance, or of fortitude in the fallen, ever excited sym-
pathy or softened the cold calculating decision of their fate. No contempt for unmanly
submission ever aggravated the treatment of the abject and mean. £very thing was
weighed in the balance of utility, and no grain of human feeling, no breath of virtue or
of vice, was permitted to incline the beam. There was one solitary example of feelings
incident to our nature ; affection for an unworthy son, whom he nominated to be his suc-
cessor, while uniformly, earnestly, and broadly predicting, that this son would lose the
empire which he himself had gained.'^

In the same work, CoU Wilks contrasts the characters of Hyder Ally and his son
Tippoo: —

^ Both sovereig^ns were equally unprincipled ; but Hyder had a clear undisturbed view
of the interests of ambition : in Tippoo, that view was incessantly obscured and perverted
by the meanest passions. He murdered his English prisoners, by a selection of the best,
beause he hated their valour ; he oppressed and insulted his Hindoo subjects, because be
hated a religion, which, if protected, would have been the best support of his throne ;
and he fawned, in his last extremity, on his injured people, when he vainly hoped that
their incantations might influence his fate ; he persecuted contrary to his interest ; and
hoped, in opi>osition to his belief, Hyder, with all his faults, might be deemed a model

3 o

Digitized by



Holmes was severely wounded. The lapse of years have caused
almost a forgetfulness of such affairs as the sally in question; it
was, however, very important at the time : it critically terminated the
siege of a position of great military and political consequence, dis-
comfited a large army, with vast loss to the besiegers, including guns,
treasure, and prisoners, to a great amount. Among the latter were
the person and family of the besieging general.

In 1783 Lieut. Holmes served under Gen. Macleod against Tippoo
Sultaun : he was present at the storm and capture of Cananore ;
soon after which, the general peace in Europe led to similar tran-
quillity in India, which was not materially disturbed on the western
side, until the confederacy of the English, the Mahrattas, and
Nizam Ally Khan, against Tippoo in 1791. In that year and the
following, Lieut. Holmes served with that distinguished corps, the
Bombay grenadier batt., in Gen. Abercromby's army, at the siege
of Seringapatam, and in the various services in Mysore and Ma-
labar. In 1794 he was promoted to capt. in the Bombay European
reg. In 1798 he was employed in Col. Little's detachment, which
co-operated with the Mahratta army in the last war against TTippoo
Sultaun. After the fall of Seringapatam, in the following year, many
of Tippoo's forts in Canara refused to surrender to the English, and
Capt. Holmes was selected to command a force to reduce them.
Several of these forts resisted vigorously, but the service was very
completely executed; and Captain Holmes received the particular

of toleration by the professor of any religion. Tippoo, in an age when persecution only
survived in history, renewed its worst terrors ; and was the last Mahommedan prince,
after a long interval of better feeling, who propagated that religion by the edge of the
sword. Hyder's vices invariably promoted his political interests; Tippoo's more fre-
quently defeated them. If Hyder's punishments were barbarous, they were at least
efficient to their purpose. Tippoo's court and army were one vast scene of unpunished
peculation, notorious even to himself. He was barbarous where severity was vice, and
indulgent where it was virtue. If he had qualities fitted for empire, they were strangely
equivocal ; the disqualifications were obvious and unquestionable ; and the decision of
history will not be far removed from the observation, almost proverbial in Mysore, " that
Hydef was bom to create an empire, Tippoo to lose one."

Digitized by



thanks of Maj,-Gen. Hartley, commanding-officer in Malabar and

The acquisition of Malabar by the English, however valuable,
was a very troublesome one* Tippoo and his father had sacrificed
army after army in the fruitless attempt to subjugate the Rajahs of
that warlike country. The military tribe of Nair is very numerous ;•
and such was their high spirit, that the idea oT subjugation or de-
pendance of any sort was indignantly spurned. The struggles of
these desperate people evinced the military excellence of the material
of which they were composed. It was a most harassing warfare;
from its remoteness, carried on without eclat ; from its nature, ap-
parently without system; and from its results, long without much
appearance of success. In this warfare, Capt. Holmes, who now
commanded a batt. of Native inf., was foremost on all occasions.
The Bombay army will long remember the spirit with which he at dif-
ferent times volunteered that most desperate and annoying service,
the relief of Montana, and the perseverance and vigour with which he
effected it. The annexed documents shew the sense entertained by his
immediate superiors of Maj. Holmes' conduct in this trying service*,
as it was justly termed.

" Provincial Orders^ Cananore, Aug. 8, 1 800.
" Col. Sartorious requests Maj. Holmes will accept his warmest thanks
for his zealous and active exertions in the relief of Montana. The com-
manding-officer^s sincere thanks are also due to the whole of the officers
and men employed, for their gallant and steady conduct, as reported by
Maj. Holmes; without which, the obstacles they had to encounter could
not have been overcome, in performing the services they have effected.''

* It may Jiere be reiDarked, that when, as in the contests at Seringapatam, Badajoz,
Waterloo, &c., the eye of a whole army, and half the world, is on the deed, there are
ahundance of stimuli to professional exertion ; but in $uch a service as the relief of
Montana, carried on through trackless forests, where guns cannot move, in a pestiferous
climate, at the worst season of the year, when,* without seeing an enemy, your men drop
every moment by your side, and combating almost every imaginable difficulty, except that
stimulating one of a battle ; there it is that the energy and perseverance of the soldier aod
the address of a commander are tried.

Digitized by



Brigade-Major Spens to Major Holmes.

" Cananore, Oct. 1, 1800.
" Sir, — I am directed by Col. Sartorious to acknowledge the receipt
of your letter of the 29th ult., and to convey to you his most warm
thanks for having, with so much judgment, with the detachment under
your command, overcome every diflGiculty in executing the arduous and
severe service of the last relief of Montana : and he begs you will make
known, in the most public manner, to Captains Baird and Howden, and
to all the officers and men of your detachment, his sense of their persever-
ing exertions on this trying occasion, and which he will have great plea-
sure in reporting to the Hon. Colonel Wellesley. — I have," &c.

The Hon, Colonel Wellesley to Colonel Sartorious.

" Camp^ 10 miles south of Kopal^ Nov. 15, 1800.
^^ I also request that you will communicate to Maj. Holmes that para-
graph in the inclosed extract, which relates to him. I am concerned that
his health ^ould oblige him to go to Bombay ; and I request you will
give the enclosed letter to the Gov. in Council of that settlement."

Extract (referred to above) of a Letter from the Chief Sec. to the Govern^
ment of Madras to the Hon. Colonel Wellesley,

Online LibraryJohn PhilippartThe East India military calendar: containing the services of ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 36 of 45)