John Philippart.

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

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ginal appointment was for Madras ; but, from a desire of accom*

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426 THE EAST INDIA

piiD}riDg his elder brother*, who had been appointed l^e preceding
season a cadet for Bombay, he was removed to the satne establish-
ment. The fleet consisted of upwards of twenty Iddiamen and
transports, and was convoyed by seven sail of the line, under the
command -f- of Sir R. Bickerton. It carried out a large body of
troops, a vast quantity of military stores, and the first reg, of cav.
sent from Europe to India.

The fleet, on its passage to India, was separated in a gale of
wind 00* the Cape of Good Hope; and the Nottingham, on board
of which ship this officer had embarked, airrived at Madras, instead
of ber original place of destination, Bombay. The reinforcements
with Sir K. Bickerton anchored in the roads, at a time when ;Aie
public ^alTurs were in a desperate condition, when the declining
state of Sir £yre Coolers health disqualified him for the fatigues
of the field, afid when faction and cabal distracted the local go-
vernment.

Some circumstances occurred before the arrival of the Notting-
bam at Madras, which it may not be superfluous to mention- On
the Sd Sept. 1782, Wjhen off CeyJon, that ship fell in with the fleet
under the command of Sir E. Hughes, which she joined, and on the
next day saw the French fleet off Trincomale harbour. The French
colours were at the same time seen flying on the forts, and left no
doubt but that the place was in possession of the enemy. This was
of course very unexpected and unwelcome intelligence, as our fleet
was actually bound for Trincomale, to obtain a supply of water and
provisions. This disappointment, however, produced the spectacle

* The present Lieut.-Col. Alexander Walker, whose services are introduced in this
work, p. 147, et seq.

t The perilous situation of our aiSkirs at that period, required this exertion; and the
great bpdy of European troops, as well as the new description of force which was intro-
troduced, changed, in a great degree, the nature and system of Indian warfare. The
cavalry of the Native states have never been able to sustain the shock of the British
horae, while the Native cavahry in the Company's service, under the instructions of their
officers, have b^^n made to rival, |a discipline and efficiency, their European fellow-
soldiers.



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MILITARY CALENDAR. 4S7

of a naval eDgagemeat ; and Mr. Walker was pra^tet at tins des-
perate Ibnt indecisive baltle. Its consequences were nearly fatal to
the ship ib trhich he was a pissenger. The British admiral^ in order
to repair the great loss he h&d sustained in the engagement, pressed
every seaman on board die Nottingham, and left the officers to navi-
gate the ship. The next night she was overtaken by a storm, and in
the confusion of the fleet was run on board athwart the bows, by the
Sceptre^ a ship of the line. From the shock, the ship for a mumeDt
was tinder water ; she lost in the concussion the figure at her head,
and bowsprit, sprung all her masts, and a great part of her rigging
was destroyed ; but this misfortune was Uie means of saving the ship
in the great storm which ensued in the roads of Madras. The day
after that tempest, out of a numerous fleet, the Nottingham was seen
alone in the roads : she had dragged with her last anchor close be-
hind the surf, and expected every moment to be cast oa shore ; but,
as she was without masts and unrigged, she was less exposed to the
violence of the wind, and thus saved from destruction. The storm
which had caused the encounter with the Sceptre ceased at day-
break.

Mr. Walker had now reason to regret that he had reUnquished
his first appointment, and was advised to get re-appointed to Madras*
It was impossible to efiect this with his original rank but by an order
from home, and in the meantime he resolved to accept of an en-
signcy in succession to the Madras cadets of the season. Having land-
ed*, he ofiered his services as a volunte^; was appointed an ensign,
and ordered to join the l6th batt. N. I., stationed at Trivatore.

* A short review of the state of aflEurs at the time of Ens. V^.'s arrival at Madras in
1782, Hwy coDtribute to esplaio the subsequent operations. For some years previoos,
Hyder Ally had carried on a successful war against the Company, and had collected al-
most the entire revenue of the Camatic. The whole country was over-mn by his cavalry,
and, with the exception of Velore, Wandiwash, Carrangooly, and a few places on the
sea-coast, every fort was occupied by detachments from his army. The Company's
finances were at the lowest ebb, and their credit exhausted. The Madras army was
paid and fed from Bengal. The calamities of war were at this time made more terribk
by the efiects of a dreadful famine, which depopulated the Camatic. The streets of the



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4S8 THE EAST INDIA

The principal exertions of the ftrmy were directed to provide for its
subsistence ; and the l6th was, in Dec., ordered to march to the nordi-
ward on this service. It was joined at Pullicat by the 4th batt, and
proceeded to Nelloor. It was appointed to escort thence a supply of
cattle for the army, and soon afterwards joined it in the field for the
campaign of 1783.

The spirits of the army were a little damped by the absence of their
favourite general. Sir Eyre Coote, who was beloved by all classes of
the military, but especially by the native troops, who almost adored
him. The army marched from Tameran in the beginning of Feb.
The first of its operations was of a singular nature : it was employed to
demolish the forts of Wandiwash* and Carrangooly, by far the most

Fort, of the Black Town, and the esplanade of Madras, were covered with starved
wretches, many of whom were dead and others dying. The vultures, the Paria dogs,
jackals, and crows, were often seen eating the bodies before life was extinct. The
general distress and calamity was aggravated by the destruction of a fleet of grain ves-
sels, which had anchored in the roads with a supply of food. The inhabitants were in
a moment deprived of the gleam -of hope which this near approach of relief had in-
spired. On the 1 5th Oct., in the night-time, a monsoon gale set in, and almost all
the ships in the roads were driven on shore and wrecked. The loss of the rice-ships
at this late season was an irreparable misfortune. The famine encreased; and it was
estimated, that, in consequence of this accident, upwards of ten thousand inhabitants
perished.

At this period, Lord Macartney was governor of Madras, and Sir E^re Coote com-
manded the army. The array had gone into cantonments, and the general had sailed
for Bengal, to arrange with the supreme government the means and the plan for the
ensuing campaign. Every resource was exhausted. It was necessary to obtain supplies
of money, provisions, and equipage. Gen. Stuart held the temporary command dur-
ing the absence of the Com.-in-Chief. The mode in which the army was cantoned,
marked its inferiority and weakness ; it was chiefly quartered in the environs of Madras,
at the Mount, and in the garden-houses on Choultry Plain.

The country was abandoned to the undisturbed possession of the enemy. Ryder's
army was principally stationed to the westward, about Arcot, Amee, and other parts
of the Carnatic. But before the close of this year Hyder Ally died, and was suc-
ceeded by his son Tippoo Saib. At this time Sir Eyre Coote's army was in a deplorable
condition ; its pay and batta in arrear six months. As nothing could be purchased, rice and
provisions were issued to the troops. The officers were generally in great distress.

* It is said that Sir Eyre had disapproved of this measure, and had remonstrated against
the destruction of those important posts. Wandiwash, in particular, he wished to preserve.
While the enemy's army were ravaging the Carnatic, it afibrded shelter and protection to the



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MILITARY CALENDAR. 429

important of the few fortified places that remained in our hands,
which had so often and so successfully resisted the enemy, and which
had repeatedly supplied the army with provisions, when not to be ob-
tained elsewhere.

As the army approached near Wandiwash, it had an opportunity
of oflfering battle to the united French and Mysorean armies- They
were encamped at NedinguU. The enemy's horse, and their rocket-
boys, had for some days harassed the line of march ; Gen. Stuart
threw his baggage into Wandiwash, and marched to give the enemy
battle. The engagement was declined byTippoo, notwithstanding
his superiority in numbers, and other great advantages. As the
British advanced, he retired across the river, and there was only an
opportunity of firing a few guns at his rear. When, however, the
army returned towards its baggage, it was again harassed and insulted
by the enemy^ Large bodies of their horse, rocket-men, and snij>ers,
hung on ev^ry quarter, which the want of a sufficient body of cavalry
rendered the British incapable of preventing. This caused a constant
skirmish during the march*; and such was the character of every
miUtary movement in India, in the face of an enemy, at that period.
The demolition of the ancient fort of Wandiwash was soon effected,
but it was not accomplished without a very serious accident : the Ser-
jeant who had charge of the mines getting intoxicated, set fire to the
train before the troops were called off, which blew up the magazine,
killed and wounded an officer, and upwards of 100 men. The
army next proceeded to Carrangooly, and destroyed that fort also.

inhabitants and moveable property of an extensive tract. It had recently been besieged,
and its small garrison repulsed the army of Hyder. The fort was still commanded by Lieut.
Flint ti who had performed this glorious service. It is further supposed^ that Sir Eyre
Cooie had a soldier-like partiality for the place, as the scene where he had gained a decisive
victory.

* At the end of one of these marches, the enemy's force attempted to carry off the head-
quarters' flag after it was pitched, but the small body of British cavalry drove them away,
and saved the standard. This circumstance is mentioned to shew the audacity of the
enemy, and the defenceless state of an army without a sufficient force of cavalry.

f See a preoedio^ note, p. 845.



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430 THE EAST INDIA

Gen. Stuart then fell back to Vellout, near Poohamallee^ for fresh
supphes. The next servicfe of the army, to which End. Walker's corps
was attached, was to relieve and provision Velore. This place wias
surrounded by large bodies of the enemy's horse, and as the British
approached Shoolingham, the enemy made a demonstration of oppos-
ing our march ; but as we advanced, they moved of towards Arcot,
and the relieving army arrived at Velore, with no other opposition
than the usual sikirmishes with the horse and rocket-men. The garri-
son of Velore were in high spirits. The northern Poligar chiefs, who
border on that district, had thrown into the fort a partial supply of
provisions.

After this service, Ens. W/s batt. was employed on an enterprise,
which, although it was not attended with success, may not be un-
worthy of notice, as it is characteristic of Indian warfare, and of the
partisan duties by which it has always been accompanied. Moyman-
galam Durgam, a strong hill fort, about sixtfeen miles from Velore,
and the key of those Poligar countries, had fallen into the hands of
the enemy. Most of the families of the Native troops who had been
taken at Arcot were there kept prisoners. These people contrived to
bold a communication with their friends and relations in the army.
By this means it was learnt that the garrison were usually off their
guard at night, and it appeared very possible to surprise the place :
it was also understood that Tippoo had here deposited a considerable
treasure. The evening after the arrival of the army at Velore, the l6th
batt., with its guns and some irregular horse, were detached on this
service. A subadar of cavalry undertook to be the guide; but it
happened that the family of this man was amongst the prisoners whom
they were going to release, and he was apprehensive that they might
suffer in the attack. With a view of providing for their security, he
sent them a message, with advice to withdraw themselves from the
danger, and to endeavour to leave the place. The females unto
whom this intelligence was made had not the fortitude to keep it
secret, and it was communicated to the enemy. As the detachment
approached the fort, it was evident that the garrison were at their



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MILITARY CALENDAR. 431

posts, from a blaze of blue lights, and a coDtinued discharge of .art..
The pettah, however, was carried by storm, and the detachmeDt rer
turned to camp without any material loss. Feb. ended with these
operations. Meanwhile the rapid success of Gen. Matthews, in Ca-
nara, and his capture of Bednore, had alarmed Tippoo, who, early io
March, suddenly evacuated Arcot, and inarched his army with in-
describable expedition out of the Carnatic Syed Said was left with
a large body of horse to levy contributions on the country, to inter-
cept the supplies, and to watch the British operations. On receiving
intelligence of this movenpent of the enemy. Gen. Stuart marched to
Arcot, and took possession of that capital ; thence the army returned
to the Mount, in the vicinity of Madras, to be equipped for another
expedition*.

The siege of Cudalore was the next operation of importance 91)1
which the l6th were employed. This service was the moH severe aqd
determined thai a long war had produced in India. It was remarkable
for the extent of the loss sustained on both sides, and for the dis-
tinguished share which the native corps of the British army bore in the
various events of the siege; in the course of which, they met and
charged the enemy with the bayonet-f-. On the 7th June 1733, tiffi
French outworks were stormed and carried after a desperate resistance^
This siege was more a direct contest between the two nations, than the
contemporary actions in the field, in which the forces engaged com-
prised a heterogeneous mass x>f native allies. The French force was
large, and consisted almost entirely of Europeans. It was com-
manded by M. Bussy, a man of acknowledged talents and ability.
The British government were desirous of opposing to him an officer
of equal skill and experience. The army lingered between Permacoil
and Chingleput, to wait the arrival of Sir Eyre, and to give the store-
ships time to rendezvous before Cudalore. At length that distiii^uished

* At this time a campaign consisted of a great number of short excursions, which lasted
until the provisions were exhausted. The troops were obliged to return at intervals, which
were never very long, to the source of their supplies on the sea-coast, and having prpyided
for their wants up to a calculated period, they marched forth on a new enterprise.

t See pages 25, 87, and 379.



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432 THE EAST INDIA

officer arrived at Madras, exhausted by anxiety and disease. He ex-
pired in two days afterwards, to the grief and affliction of the army :
to his country, his loss was a misfortune ever to be lamented ♦•

Ens. Walker was present in many of the severest actions of the
siege of Cudalore, and was employed with his corps on the grand
attack which was made at day-break of the 13th on the French lines.
The enemy, after having received a great reinforcement from the fleet,
on the night of the 25th June, made a sally on the British lines, but
were repulsed and driven back to the fort with great slaughter, having
the colonel who commanded them made a prisoner. The l6th batt.
was on this occasion in the trenches, and Ens. W. happening to be on
the advanced picquet, sustained their first shock. The arrival of an
English frigate with a flag of truce, brought a few days after this action
intelligence of a peace in Europe, and probably saved the army from
the necessity of a disgraceful retreat*

The war was still maintained against Tippoo, and the l6th batt., early
in July, marched to the southward, where it joined what was^called the
southern army. The usual dissentions which prevailed among the i\U
adjusted and incongruous authorities of the local and supreme govern*
ment at that period, prevented this force from obtaining the full ad-
vantages which had been expected ; but it performed, notwithstanding,
many great and essential services, which depressed the enemy, and
probably facilitated the peace which was soon after concluded. When
this event took place, the forts of Palicaudcherry, Coimbatore, and
Dindighul, with their respective territories, which were the fruits of this
campaign, were restored to Tippoo, as a countercession, for rescind-
ing the conquests made by the Mysorean power in the Carnatic from
the nabob Mahommed Ali, the Company's ally ; and for the restitution
of Calicut, the district of Mount Delhi, the forts of Amboorgur
and Sautgur, and other places to the English. This was the result of
the war and of the campaign ; but a few details of the previous
operations may not be uninteresting, so far as they particularly relate
to Ens. Walker's corps.

♦ See page 44,



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MILITARY CALENDAR. 433

When the siege of Cudalore was relinquished, it was judged neces-
sary to reinforce the southern army under Col. Fullarton. Col. (the
late Gen.) James Stuart, 72d reg., was appointed to command the
detachment which was sent from the army before Cudalore, and he,
an excellent judge of military merit, selected the l6th batt. as one
of the corps which he wished to compose his force. The detachment
marched for Trichinopoly about the 25th July ; thence it proceeded
by Caroor and Darmapooram to Dindigul, where it was soon after-
wards joined by the troops under Col. Fullarton- This force now
composed a strong and respectable army, but it was left to its own
ways and means. As there was no money to pay the troops, it was
necessary that they should derive their subsistence from the enemy's
country, and this, it was evident, must depend upon the intelligence
and activity of the departments of supply*.

Col. Fullarton arrived at the entrance of the Animallee forest with-
out any material occurrence, and resolved on the arduous task of
cutting a road through this immense wood to Palicaudcherry, which
he intended to attack. Col. Kelly's brigade, of which the l6th com-
posed a part, were employed as pioneers to cut a passage for the guns.
This duty was of the most severe and disagreeable nature. It rained
continually^ the troops were constantly wet, the provisions were scarce
and bad, and it often happened that the trees and jungle made it im-
practicable to pitch the tents. The troops, however, went cheerfully
on, and the work was soon completed. Palicaudcherry waS invested
and regularly besieged. The rains were still incessant ; the trenches
were filled, and the water could not be drained off. The fall of the
place was facilitated by one of those bold and decisive actions which
hav^ always been the subject of alternate praise and censure. The

* To these early difficulties, and the urgency of want, may be traced the progress and
perfection of the Commissariat establishments in India, and of those excellent regulations
which are now in force for the conveyance of provisions and stores. There is no school
equal to that of necessity ; and it b neither unamusing nor uninstructive, to look back on
those infant institutionsi and those abortive attempts^ which it would be unfair to contrast
with the success and vigour of subsequent transactions, which owe, in fact, their sustained
and decisive tone to the feebleness and disappointment of former stni^les.

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434 THE EAST INDIA

Hon. Capt. Maitland had a corps of flank companies under his com-
mand, and occupied an important post in the investiture of the place.
He seized the opportunity of a heavy fell of rain to surprise the gar-
rison^ he pushed forward his corps, and followed a party of fugitives
through the first gate ; the second he found shut against him ; but the
enemy lost their courage, a parley ensued^ and a capitulation delivered
the place into our hands. About 60,000 pagodas were found in this
fort ; and Col. Fullarton adopted the popular expedient of dividing
this sum amoQ|^ the different ranks of the army on the drum*head.
The share of a subaltern came to ninety pagodas ; and in the scarcity
of money at that lime this was a great relief, to the subordinate officers
especially. The next enterprise was directed against Coimbatore,
which surrendered without resistance.

While the treaty which terminated hostilities was under discussion,
but before any truce had been stipulated, a large body of horse under
Rushan Khan made a full charge on the picquets of the British army,
consisting of two batts., of which the l6th was one. The enemy were
repulsed and driven off, but not without loss on both sides. After a
cessation of arms had taken place, and we had evacuated the cap-
tured forts, the enemy were guilty of an act of great perfidy by at-
tacking and cutting in pieces one of the advanced poste of this army.
Col. Jas. Stuart, with a detachment, of which the l6th formed one of
the corps, made a forced march in the night against this party who
had violated the truce, but without being able to overtake them.

When the peace with Tippoo was concluded in 1784, the British
troops were withdrawn from his country. The l6th, with a strong
detachment, was for some time stationed in the Marwar country, near
Shevagunga, to keep the Poligars in awe ; but the l6th batt. was
ultimately, in the same year, detached to Mellore, to make the Collery
chiefs pay up their arrears of revenue. This was soon effected, rather
by the judicious arrangements of Capt. Cox than by force* Every
tiling remained quiet, and the batt. continued stationary until near the
end of 1785 »

* About this period the exhausted treasury of Madras was unable to meet the outstand-



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MILITARY CALENDAR. 4S5

On the conclusion of peace, the prospects of the officers in India
were damped by the reductions to be expected in the army ; and the
promotion of the junior part of the service appeared so remote and
uncertain, as almost to extingoisb the hopes of attaining a respectable
rank even in a long life* With this unpleasant view of futurity, Ens.
Walker was induced to go on furlough to Bombay, with a design,
should the circumstances of that presidency appear more encouraging,
to claim his rank in that army- Finding, however, every thing more
discouraging there, he soon afterwards returned to Madras, and re^
joined the l6th batt-, which was stationed in the southern provinces.
In this situation he remained until the close of 1785, when he was re-
moved to the car. and appointed cornet in the 4th reg- His conamis-
sion bore date 3d Dec. in the above year- The Native cav. were all
in his Highness the Nabob of Arcot's service until 1784, when they
were taken into the Compan/s. The corps at this time consisted
only of four regs. Comet W. joined the 4th at Arcot, where it was
cantoned, and remained for several years. The interval of peace be*
tween 17834ind 1790 was employed in preparing for a war, which was
to raise the character, and with that the power, of the British nation,
to an devation which it had never before attained in India. It was
evident tiiat an ill*observed peace could not be of long continuance.
It was at the same time fortunate that Tippoo's wild aggression against

iog demands growiog oat of the war^ and the local government resorted to the expedient of
paying off the arrears of the army by promissory notes or draughts on Bengal. This was
felt to be utrjQst i if the poMic distress allowed any akenmtive^ it was impolitic. Some of
the native corps were two years in arrear^ and many of the European ofBcers had nx>re than
twelve months pay due. The hardships inflicted by this measure are not to be described.
It was at first impossible for the natives^ and particularly for those who were to l>e dis-
bMided, to convert their paper on any terms imo cash. At length speculators appeared,
and those poor men, who had supported the British government with unparalleled fidelity
during the trying vicissitudes of a long war^ were obliged to exchange their notes at a dis-
count of 70 and SO per ant. Some of the corps which were ordered to be disbanded, re-