John Philippart.

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

. (page 4 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Baugh from the right and left, in considerable force, began to pour
their musquetry on the party recrossing it : however, the men were so
defended by the water, that the enemy's fire had little or no effect.
Having gained the opposite bank of the river, they proceeded to the
Sultaun's redoubt, now commanded by Capt. Sibbald, which they
reached without interruption : but still they could obtain no informa-
tion respecting the other parts of the army, nor of the situation of Lord
Comwallis. Here, therefore, it was determined to halt, and await the
occurrence of any event that might direct them where their co-operation



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CALENDAR. 31

could be advantageously employed. It was soon discovered that the
enemy were coming down in force : Ae men immediately got under
arms ; but, as their ammunition had been destroyed in crossing the
river, the Sepoys expressed some uneasiness on that account. They
were exhorted by their officers to disregard the want of ammunition,
and^to confide in their bayonets : they were desired to rejcoUect the
inefficiency of the enemy's musquetry, which they had so often ex-
perienced in the day, and that now, in the darkness of the night, it
ought to be considered as utterly useless. To these arguments they
listened, though without entire satisfaction : luckily, at that instant,
the people in charge of the magazine of the 28th battalion having
been accidentally separated from their corps, came up and afforded an
abundant supply of ammunition. The seijeant in charge of it was
ordered to supply the 52nd, and to carry the remaining part of it into
Sibbald's redoubt, where it proved of the most essential use in the
secjuel of the day.

" Captain Madan, one of Lord CornwalHs's Aide-de-Camps, now
came up, and informed Lieut White of his Lordship's situation, and
of his want of assistance. The party, on this intelligence, imnnie*-
diately moved off towards the ground which it was known his Lord-
ship occupied : the Sepoys had quickly regained their wonted spirits,
and now loudly vociferated thanks to their guardian Saint Russian,
for the supply of ammunition which he had so auspiciously sent
them. The moon had already set, and the irregular flashes of mus-
quetry that shot across the gloom afforded the only guide forj;heir
course ; at length, amidst a confusion of noise, the sound of High-
land bagpipes was heard, which indicated the 74th regiment, the
principal corps of Lord Cornwallis's reserve, was near at hand : but,
as some of the pipes used by the enemy had a similar sound, when
distantly heard. Ensign, (now Lieut.-Col. Sir Thomas) Ramsay,
of the 14th battalion, the better to ascertain the body to whom th^
were advancing, was directed to run forward ; and, if the conjecture
of its being the 74th regiment was verified, to request the command-
ing officer to desire his men to hollo " Bangalore.*' " BangaloreK"



Digitized by



Google



32 THE EAST INDIA

rc'-echoed through the air, from the men of the 52nd and those of the
14th, who were advancing in parallel lines.

" The enemy at this moment, with their fresh cushoons, were closing
upon the 74th ; but, mistaking the party that was coming up for the
advance of the columns of the army, they suddenly halted : Capt
Dugald Campbell, commanding the 74th regiment, availed himself
with admirable promptitude of this circumstance ; and as soon as
these companies of the 52nd and 14th battalion had joined him, he
charged the enemy, though both Europeans and Sepoys did not
amount to one battalion/'

Lieut. White was, for his distinguished conduct on this occasion,
allowed to continue in command of the battalion, 14th N. I., till its
return to its own presidency in 1793) which, being an exception to
the general rules of appointment that prevailed in the service at that
time, was felt by Lieut. White and the whole army as a highly
honourable distinction and reward, well calculated to excite profes-
sional emulation.

Having succeeded to the rank of captain in March 1799^ he was ap-
pointed to the 2nd European r^ment; and, in 1794 and 1795, he was
actively employed in raising a large body of recruits in the provinces
under the presidency of Bengal, for filling up the corps on the Madras
establishment

In 1798, having attained the rank of Major, he proceeded to Eng-
land to recover a constitution injured by so long a course of field-
service.

It should here be noticed, that this officer had served nearly twenty-
six years, almost always in the field, previous to his attaining the
rank of field officer ; that prior to the regulations of 1796 no regi-
mental rank being known in the Company's army, captains com-
manding battalions were virtually in the situation of colonels ; and
their senior Ueutenants in that of lieutenant-colonels or majors: more-
over, that during the above-mentioned period, there were but few in-
tervals of precarious peace ; and that, besides the more important
services which have been particularized, Maj. White had largely



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CALENDAR. 33

partaken of the enterprising and partizan warfare <;onstantly occur-
ring in India, particularly in the Vizier's (now king of Oude) domi-
nions, in quelling insurrection, subduing refractory Zeemindars,
capturing mud forts, and repelling the incursions of freebooters, or
insurgents, from neighbouring states. \

After remaining a short time in England, Major White returned
(August 1801) to his duty in Bengal; and having been promoted
to the rank of Lieut.-Col., he was appointed to the command of
the Company's 2nd European regiment.

At this period, Lieut.-Col. White suggested to the Com.-in-Cliief
the expediency of forming a strong corps of marine Sepoys, to serve
by sea and land, and was ordered soon after to raise a regiment of
two battalions, of 1000 men each : this object he successfully accom-
plished; and the 20th, or marine regiment, now forms one of the
most valuable and distinguished corps in the East India Company's
service.

The Mahratta war promising an active scene for military opera-
tions, Lieut.-Col. White applied to be removed from the command
of the marine regiment, then at the presidency of Fort William, to
a battalion in the field; and, in consequence, in September 1803, he
joined the army, under the personal command of Gen. Lake, on its
march to Agra.

The division of the army to which his battalion (the 1st of the l6th
Bengal N. Reg.) belonged, was commanded by Brig.-Gen. Clarke,
who was ordered to take the city of Agra by assault. The general
forced the outward barriers at day-break, on the 10th of Oct.; and
Lieut.-Col. White being on that occasion second in command, was
detached to get possession of one quarter of the city, while the general
pushed on to storm the Jumna Musjeed, or Great Mosque, which was
strongly fortified, and defended by six battalions, with twenty-eight
pieces of artillery. Gen. Clarke being, after a spirited attack, re-
pulsed with considerable loss, retired from the town, and sent to
Lieut.-Col. White to do the same, and join him without delay ; but,
conscious that the animation and confidence the enemy would derive

F



Digitized by



Google



34 THE EAST INDIA

by regaining the city, would be attended with the most fatal conse^
quenced, he, Lieut.-Col. White, took upon himself, the dangerous re-
sponsibility of postponing a compliance with the orders of his supe-
rior officer, seized upon a strong position in the centre of the city,
and entrenched his column in it, sending inunediate information to Gen.
Clarke, and suggesting his return ; which the general accordingly did
in the evening- On the following taoming, the general proceeded
to head-quarters, and Lieut.-Col. White was left to carry on the
operations against the Jumna Musjeed.

' Having discovered a favourable point from which to throw shells
into the area of the Mosque, where the enemy's battalions were
placed, stinted in room, Lieut.-Col. White counted upon the dismay
and confusion that would be produced among such numbers by the
bursting of some of his shells; and, accordingly, held his column in
readiness to proceed to the assault the moment that should be the
case. Such, however, was the effect produced by these measures^
that two officers were sent out by the enemy, with proposals to capi-
tulate; and the six battalions were permitted to march out in silence
at nine o'clock at night, and the Jumna Musjeed commanding
the prihcipal gate of the fort, was taken possession of by Lieut.-
Col. White, and his little band, who on this occasion covered them-
selves with glory, and greatly contributed, by their firmness and gal-
lantry, to accelerate the fall of Agra, which surrendered by capitula-
tion on the 18th of the month.

The Com.-in-Chief, Gen. Lake, in his despatch to government,
dated 10th Oct. 1803, made the following observation : —

" I feel myself under particular obligations to Lieut.-Col. White,
who commanded five companies of the l6th reg. N. L, for his judi-
cious and gallant conduct on this day."'

The following extract, from general orders, will also shew the
sense entertained of Lieut.-Col. White's services on this occasion : —
" Head'Quarters, Camp before Agra, ISth October 1803.

" The Com.-in-Chief is happy in expressing his approbation of
the behaviour of the officers and troops employed in seizing the
city of Agra, on the 10th instant.



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CALENDAR. 35

** His excellency feels particularly 'indebted to Lieiit.-Col.- White,
for the judgment and gallantry he displayed on that occasion ; and
to the oflScers and men of that detachment of the l6th regiment
under his command/'

In November 1803 he was appointed a brig,-gen., and was suc-
cessfully engaged in the action of Laswarree, where a grape shot
struck him in the breast. From the plan of attack adopted on this
occasion, it necessarily followed, that the corps which wer^ more
immediately engaged, and suffered most in the battle of Laswarree,
were those whose situation in the column of march brought them
first in contact with that point of the enemy's position against which
the attack was directed ; and in the Com.-in-ChiePs orders of thanks
on the occasion, the six companies of the 1st battalion l6th regiment,
commanded by this officer, and the 2nd battalion of the ISIth, under
Major (now Maj,-Gen. and C. B.) R. Gregory, were the corps of
N. I. specially noticed, for their timely and gallant advance to the
support of His Majesty's 76lh regiment, which, being at the head of
the column, was the corps to commence the attack, and close with
the enemy. Our loss in the battle of Laswarree was very conidderable,
but it was decisive, and terminated the campaign in that part of India,
by the defeat, capture, and dispersion of all the corps and field equip-
ments in the service of Dowlut Rao Scindia in Hindostan.

In Dec. following this officer was employed by Lord Lake to
command the forces detached from the main army, to get possession
of the province of Gohud, then in the hands of the Mahrattas ; and
in prosecution of this service the capture of the important fortress
of GuaHor, often called the Gibraltar of the East, which, from its
natural strength, was for ages considered secure against any open
attack, became the object of primary attention ; Lieut.-Col..Whit€,
conscious that if Gualior fell, all the subordinate fortresses would
speedily surrender, determined to strike at the point at once, from the
fixed and general persuasion that the guns from the upper fort
would speedily dislodge or destroy any that should be so desperate as
to lodge themselves in the town, which went round the rock. No



Digitized by



Google



36 THE BAST INDIA

enemy had ever attempted the enterprise; the experience, how-
ever, which the lieut-coL had had in the sieges of droog, or hill-
forts, in the former Camalic and Mysore wars, convincing him that
this apprehension was ill-founded, he determined to attack the city
by surprise, and was so fortunate as to get possession of it by a night
assault. He then applied to Lord Lake for a strong battering train,
and for additional Native troops. These being promptly supplied,
breaching batteries were erected, and a practicable breach being
made, in the only part of the fortress that was not impregnable,
the place surrendered on the 4th of February 1804.

The success of this arduous undertaking was speedily followed by
the surrender of the forts of Gohud and Doudpoor, and of all the nu-
merous subordinate forts, and the retreat of the Mahrattas from every
part of the province. The following extract from General Orders
will shew the sense entertained by the Com.-in-Chief of this service :

" Head Quarters, near Surate, 10th Feb. 1804.

" The Com.-in-Chief has great satisfaction in pubhshing his high
sense of the distinguished services of the detachment employed in the
reduction of the fortress of Gualior under Lieut.-Col. White, through-
out the whole of this arduous and important service, which claims his
Excellency's best thanks and warmest acknowledgments.'*

After the fall of Gualior Lieut.-Col. White was appointed to the
command of that place, in which he continued during the remainder
of the war, until it was restored to DowlutRao Scindia in 1806. In
the following year Lieut.-Col. Mliite, finding his health greatly impaired,
embarked for the Cape of Good Hope, and eventually proceeded to
Europe.

On the augmentation of the Order of the Bath this officer, then a
maj.-gen. in the army, was one of the first advanced to the dignity of
Knight Commander.

The character of Sir Henry White, as drawn by an old brother
officer, is so just that the Editor, who was personally attached to the
general, cannot avoid here inserting it.

" Maj.-Gen. Sir Henry White was a real soldier; enamoured of



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CALENDAR. 37

danger and the active habits of the field, and contemning luxury and
repose, he courted service wherever it was to be found ; and when he
arrived at rank and command, he scorned to seek popularity at the
expense of his public duty, but sedulously endeavoured to call forth
in every one under his authority the same ardent spirit of professional
devotion in the discharge of their several duties, of which it was at
once his pride and practice to set them an animating example.— The
last moments of this officer were characteristic of that highly-gifted
mind and spirit which distinguished him through life. His constitu-
tion, which was uncommonly good, gradually yielded to the decay of
nature. Twelve or fourteen hours before his death, he ordered himself
to be put on horseback, having always been enthusiastically fond of
taking exercise in that way ; and the following morning at two o'clock,
in possession of all his faculties, he expired in his chair, with the sere-
nity of a christian and the firmness of a hero.

" Thus departed this life, full of years and of honour, on the 7th of
Nov. 1822, at Bath, Maj.-Gen. Sir Henry White, eighty years of age,
nearly forty of which were passed in the active scenes of military life,
in the service of the East India Company, and the subsequent period
in the enjoyment of the well-earned honours which his Sovereign was
pleased to bestow, and of a large circle of kindred friends who duly
appreciated his professional and social virtues/'

In addition to his valuable suggestion for forming a corps of Sepoy
Marines, Sir Henry White submitted at different periods of his military
career, a variety of plans for the improvement and benefit of the forces
of the Honourable East India Company.



LIEUTENANT-GENERAL ROBERT MACKAY.

(Madras Establishment.)

This oflScer obtained an ensign^s commission in the native infantry of
the Madras establishment in 1775, after having served eleven months



Digitized by



Google



38 THE EAST INDIA

as a vohinteer in th6^ artillery. In 1778 he marched with a party from
Madras to join the army assembling for the investment of Pondicherry
under the command of Sir Hector Munro. Shortly after the army had
broke ground before the place, the government of Madras ordered two
additional ' battalions of native infantry to be raised ; to one of which
Mr. Mackay was appointed adjutant, but not being able to obtain per-
mission to remain with the army till the capture of the fort, he pro-
ceeded to join the head quarters of the corps. On the fall of Pondi-
cherry the battalions were reduced, and six months afl;er he was re-
appointed adjutant of the 4th battalion, native infantry.

This battalion early in Dec. 1780, formed part of the detachment
sent from Madras, under the command of the late Lieut.-Gen. Sir
Henry Cosby, to surprise a large body of the enemy's marauding
horse, about thirty miles north of Madras, which by marching all night
was partly effected, (see page 18.)

The 4th battalion joined the army commanded by Lieut.-Gen. Sir
Eyre Coote,, encamped at St. Thomas' Mount, the latter part of
December, 1780, and marched on the 1st of January, 1781, in order
to relieve Wandiwash, then closely besieged by Hyder's son^ Tippoo
Saib, and on the route took the fort of Carangooly by a coup-de-
main. After relieving Wandiwash, the army moved towards Pondi-
cherry, and encamped on the red hills near it, while the Com .-in-
Chief went into the place, and ordered the destruction of all the
boats along the beach, and at the ford of the river Ariancoopan.
Whilst this was executing, from the commanding ground on which
the English were encamped Hyder's army was seen approaching at a
considerable distance. The drums were immediately ordered to beat
to arms, the tents struck, and information senrto the Cora.-in-Chief,
who directed that the army should march by the right forthwith, on
the road to Cudalore, (as already stated in the narrative of Sir Henry
Cosby's services, p. 19).

The army remained encamped at Cudalore near six months, that
town forming a convenient dep6t, whilst, detachments were con-
tinually sent out to beat up the enemy's parties, and to collect cattle



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CAI/EKDAR. 39

and grain. In June, the Com .-in-Chief having received information
that a Braminick pagoda (or place of worship) <;alled Chillimbrum,
had been strongly fortified, and converted into a magazine of provi-
sions, by order of Hyder, he determined to endeavour to take it
by assault, and the army in consequence moved from Cudalore
to Portonova, within a few miles from Chillimbrum. A detach-
ment was then formed (of which the 4th battahon was a part) and
marched to the village. On arriving at the main street, which
led to the pagoda, it was warmly saluted by showers of ball from
wall-pieces, &c. that scoured the street ; however, a party with two
twelve-pounders dashed through, and firing one of the guns against
the gate, so shattered it, that the garrison called for quarter ; but some
of the tenglish being overheard declaring that their ammunition was
expended, the enemy returned to the works, and drove them from
the gateway with considerable loss. Hyder, who, on the army reach-
ing Cudalore, had marched south to plunder Tanjore and Tinner
velly, received so exaggerated an account of the defeat of the Eng-
lish upon this occasion, and so earnest a petition from the reporter to
come, and by his presence complete their destruction, that he returned
from the southern districts by very extraordinary forced marches,
and his encampment was discovered before there was an idea of his
being in the neighbourhood.

On the 1st July, 1781, Sir Eyre Coote moved out to meet the
enemy, throwing all his baggage towards the beach, having been pro-
mised by Admiral Hughes all the protection his Hght vessels could
afford. Before the action commenced, a masked battery was dis-
covered, and avoided by a judicious counter-march. The battle
began at seven in the morning. The English army, not 7000 strong,
were opposed to a body of 100,000 regulars and irregulars. The
numbers of the enemy enabling him to take possession of a range of
sand hills, that rendered the situation of the English baggage very
perilous. Sir Eyre Coote, who deemed it indispensable to dislodge
him, ordered the 2'nd line to attack and drive him from his position.
The EngHsh charged twice with great spirit, but without success : the



Digitized by



Google



40 THE EAST INDIA

third time, however, they carried their point; and, on this being re-
ported to the Com.-iu-Chief, the first line was ordered to advance on
the enemy, which it did at four in the afternoon, driving him before
it until two o'clock the following morning.

After halting the next day, Sir Eyre Coote moved to the north-west,
and captured the fort of Tripassoor, thirty miles west of Madras, a
position of consequence, principally as a key to the poUams, or hilly
country, governed by many petty chieftians, tributaries to the Nabob
of the Camatic, from whom were derived considerable supplies for
the army. All the open country had been despoiled and ravaged
by hordes of irregular horse, who burnt the villages, plundered and
massacred the inhabitants, and drove all sorts of cattle off to the My-
sore country. Arrangements being made for a field-hospital at this
place, the Com.-in-Chief marched towards the enemy, who was strongly
posted at Perambancum, on the same ground where Col. Baillie's de-
tachment had been defeated the year before, having formed powerftil
batteries of heavy ordnance with the walls of the ruined houses ; and
having a deep and broad ravine covering the whole of these works, and
a great part of the infantry of his army ; several heavy batteries enfi-
lading at many points the road by which the English approached
the position.

A firing was commenced by tlie enemy on the advanced guard,
from some guns of a small calibre, about eight in the morning, (27th
Aug. 1781), but the action did not become general until near eleven.
While the general was reconnoitring, the enemy's batteries caused
isevere havoc, but after a long struggle and sanguinary contest, they
were obliged to yield. The 2nd line, commanded by Col. Pearce, (to
which the 4th battalion was called from the baggage guard, during
the battle) was skirmishing with the enemy all night, and at day-break
next morning was near a very large force of horse and foot, com-
manded by Tippoo Saib, but who, on its advancing, precipitately
retreated.

On the 28th the English halted, and marched the next day in the
direction of Velore, a hundred miles west" of Madras. On the 29th



Digitized by



Google



MILITARY CALENDAR. 41

Sir Ejrre Coote having intelligence that the enemy was near, strength-
ened his body guard with the picquets in waiting, and went out to re-
connoitre, shortly after sending orders for the army to join him. The
detail of the day having again placed the 4th battalion on the baggage
guard, in marching to the position pointed out by the field officers of
Uie day, it was attacked by a party under the command of Hyder's
son, Tippoo Saib, who with considerable address endeavoured to flank
it with ten field pieces; this attempt being defeated, he made an
effort to prevent it, taking post in a choice situation against horse that
had been selected; in this he was also foiled: he nevertheless attacked,
but the broken rocky ground proved an obstacle to his success^ The^
general engagement began immediately after this battaUon was left in
quiet possession of its post. The first observation of the battalion on
its commencement created considerable alarm : an immense body of
cavalry was seen moving down in a solid column upon the 2d line, but
it was soon perceived that the Enghsh troops wheeled right and left,
firom the centre backwards, and let them pass, paying them well for
their temerity. As soon as the rear of the column had cleared the
English army, the enemy returned in the same manner, and were re-
ceived as on the first time : their number were supposed to be ten thou-
sand: of their horse they lost nine hundred: an ofificer and a standard
were also taken.

Sir Eyre Coote, solicitous to maintain his army without looking to
Madras for supplies, where a great scarcity prevailed, encamped in the
Pollams, and in furtherance of his object of providing his army during
the rainy season, formed a detachment of three native corps, the 4th,
8th, and l6th, under the command of Lieut.-CoL Owen, to provide
and send into camp rice and cattle for the army. This detachment
marched in October and encamped near the mouth of a pass, being