East India Company.

Narrative sketches of the Conquest of the Mysore : effected by the British Troops and their allies, in the capture of Seringapatam, and the death of Tippoo Sultaun, May 4, 1799 : with notes, descriptive and explanatory online

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Online LibraryEast India CompanyNarrative sketches of the Conquest of the Mysore : effected by the British Troops and their allies, in the capture of Seringapatam, and the death of Tippoo Sultaun, May 4, 1799 : with notes, descriptive and explanatory → online text (page 1 of 9)
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Narrative Sketches of the
Conquest of the Mysore, Effected

-'tlsh Troops and their











MAY 4, 1799.





HonBon :

Printed by \V. JUSTINS, Pembeiton Row, Gough Squnre, Fleet Street,

for the PROPRIETOR ;
And Sold by WEST and HUGHES, Paternoster Row ; RICHARDSONS,

Royal Exchange; W. CLARKE, New Hond Street;


PICTURE, in the LYCEUM, Sti ind.

> .< '


J \

THE materials from which these Sketches have been
produced, were collected to assist the design, and
regulate the execution, of an extensive Historical Painting
which the artist has recently submitted to the public eye,
,^6n a scale of magnitude hitherto unattempted in this
fc country the Storming of Seringapatam y painted by
C Mr. R. K. Porter.

From the flattering and popular acceptation of the great
1 worfc, it was presumed this lesser one might not be unin-
teresting to the public, either as a kind of handy accom-
paniment to the picture, in the lounge of the Exhibition
Room, or as a comprehensive view of the subject, for
\ the loungers of any other place. The rapid sale of the
n First edition has fully realized the expectations under
~ which it was first published.

o "JThe compiler of the following pages has not attempted
to write a book he has only endeavoured to make one,
such as he was led to believe would be acceptable to a very
numerous class of readers. He has collected facts from
all available sources of information ; and the only merit
he claims, is that of having connected them into a series
of short narratives, unencumbered with much detail, and
unmixed with fiction.

Many particulars of these Sketches are personal com-
munications from gentlemen who were actors in the
scenes described. Many others are extracted from original
A 2 and



and unpublished correspondence, of which the compiW
has been favoured with a transcript; and a variety of
articles are drawn from the Gazettes, public Journals, and
other authentic accounts printed in India. But, for the
most material part of its contents, this work is indebted
to the valuable dispatches of JLord Mornington, trajas-
mitted to the Court of Directors of the Honourable East
India Company a series of papers which, for perspicuity
of arrangement, and manly elegance of language, have
been rarely'eqnalled, and never exceeded, by the official
productions of any age or country.

The notes, it is presumed, will be found to contain, not
only a variety of explanatory matter, but many descriptive
and interesting articles, either extracted from worlcs of
known credit, or furnished from correct information, and
w-hich could not be given in any other form, without
breaking the narrative interest of the page.

The subject having experienced, in this little per-
formance, nearly the same encouragement it has been
honoured with on the canvas, the collector of the mate-
rials for both feels himself amply repaid for his trouble,
and presents to the public this Second Edition of his Nar-
rative Sketches, under the flattering assurances that it will
be honoured with a portion of that popularity so univer-
sally attached to the enterprise of the Soldier, and the

lubours of the Artist, in THE STORMING OF SERIN-



Allg. 15, 1800.





OINCE the peace of Seringapatam, concluded
*^ with Lord Cornwallis, and more especially
since the year 1796, the destruction of the Bri-
tish power in India had formed the favourite and
unremitting object of Tippoo Sultaun's hopes and
exertions. His haughty mind never could be re-
conciled to the sacrifices which he was compelled
to make for the purchase of the peace in 1792 ;
and his increasing eagerness to recover the exten-
sive portion of his dominions then ceded to the
Allies, urged him to pursue a systematic course
of intrigue against the British power among all
the Native States, and to revert to his ancient
and hereditary connexion with France, as the
only effectual means of gratifying either his am-
bition or his revenge.

The proofs which had been obtained previous
to the war, were sufficient to satisfy the judgment



of the Governor-General (Lord Mornington) as
to the nature and objects of his machinations :
they have since been corroborated by the volu-
minous records discovered in the palace at Serin-
gapatam, which furnished a clear exposition of
his intrigues at Poonah* and Hyderabadf; his
embassy to Zemaun Shah J, (to encourage that


* The seat of the Mahratta government, (about one hundred
imles eastward' of Bombay) under the Paishwa, or Prime Mi-
nister, Row Pundit Purdhan, one of our allies, whose cfilcc is
hereditary, and invests him, in fact, with the entire sovereignty
of the Mahratta empire, as the Rani Rajah, or hereditary king,
is, from a very common policy among the Asiatics, a mere no-
minal ruler, kept a prisoner nt large in one of his own forts,"
and his name seldom heard of, or recognized, except on the
great seal of the state, annexed to the arbitrary acts of his
Highness the Paishwa! The territories of the MnhraUas are
computed to extend about one thousand British miles in length,
ajid seven hundred in breadth: they are- governed bv a number
of separate Chiefs, or Rajahs, all of whom acknowledge the
Ram Rajah as their sovereign, and the Paishwa as his vice 4 -

f A citv and fortress of the Deccan, (between three and
four hundred miles to the northward of Madras) the court of
his Highness iheNabobNizam ud Dowlah A soph Jab, or Nizam
Ally, a prince in alliance with the British government.

t An ambitious and enterprising prince, whose dominions
(Liv> kin;/;dorn of Candahar and Cabul) comprize all the coun-
tries that are situated between the rirer Indus and the



prince in the prosecution of his long threatened
invasion of Hindostan) ; his correspondence with
the Executive Directory at Paris; with the French
at Tranqucbar, and the Isle of France ; and with
M. Ravmond, the commander of a body of native*
troops in the Nizam's service, amounting to four-
teen thousand men, disciplined and commanded
by French officers. From the evidence of these
papers, it is now incontestible that Tippoo Sul-
taun's thoughts w r ere perpetually intent upon the
ruin of the British power, and the restoration of
his own empire to its former splendor and
strength ; that he trusted to have accomplished
our expulsion, by instigating the French to in-
vade India; and that his antipathy to the English

southern extremities of the Caspian sea; and between the
eastern confines of Persia, and the country of the Usbcck
Tartar?, besides Lahore, and the celebrated province of Cash-
mire. This prince can bring one hundred and fifty thousand
effective fighting men into the field, chiefly cavalry, all excel*
k-ntly mounted, and much dreaded by the Aluhrattas, whose
united powers suffered a dreadful overthrow from Ahmed Shah,
the grandfather of the present monarch, on the plains of Paniput,
in the year 1761. So strong is the prevalence of this dread,
that a Mahratta is not ashamed, if his horse should happen to
start when drinking water, to exclaim " Dost them see Uiq
shadow of an Abdalli!" the subjects of Zcasaun Shah being
thus distinguished, from the name of the founder of his empire,
fee the ASIATIC ANNUM. R s c ; o T t K ,/br 17y9.



was the ruling passion of his heart, the main
spring of his policy., and the fixed and fundamen-
tal principle of his councils and government.

The degree of danger wifn which the Nizam
and thePaishws. v/ere threatened, by the impend-
ing storm, exceeded that which menaced the
British possessions. It is true, that Tippoo Sul-
taun's views against the courts of Poonah and
Hyderabad, were ostensibly limited to the reco-
very of the cessions made by him to those powers
in 1792; but it cannot be doubted that his am-
bition and rapacity would have augmented with
the progress of his victories; and that his re-
venge was not of a temper to be mitigated by

The distribution and condition of the British
force on the Southern coast, in the month of
June 1798, offered but too strong a temptation to
the enterprize of a faithless and active enemy; it
\vas therefore judged necessary, by the Compa-
ny's government, to issue an order for assembling
the armies on the coasts of Coromandel and Ma-
labar, without delay; and, adverting to the fatal
consequences which have formerly been experi-
enced in theCarnatic, by neglecting to keep pace
with the forwardness of hostile equipments in
the Mysore, it was resolved to entrust the pro-
tection '


tcction of the British possessions to no other
security than a complete and early state of pre-
paration for war.

With this view, while the armies were forming
on the two coasts, under circumstances of pecu-
liar difficulty and much unavoidable delay, the
early attention of the Governor-General was di-
rected to strengthen and improve the defensive
alliances between the Company and their High-
nesses the Nizam and the Paishwa. Both these
powers were reduced to the lowest condition of
depression and weakness : the latter, by the
intrusion of Dowlut Row Scindia*; the former,
by the threatened hostilities of the same chieftain,
and the establishment of a numerous and active

* One of the most, bold und aspiring of die Mahratta chiefs,
pretending to be descended .from the ancient kings of Malva:
the seat of his government is at Ougein, near the city of
Mur.rli!, or.rc the capital of these kings ; and his possessions
join the northern boundary of the country immediately subject
to the Paishwa, comprehending the greatest part of the exten-
sive soubadary, or government of Malva, and part of the pro-
vince of Candeish. The intrigues of the late Madajec Scir.dia
huJ carried him to Poonah some time before his death, where
his unworthy successor, Dowlut Row Scindia, lias since rc-
M;.ii) - il, ot( tipiod in general extortion and encroachment on
the anii'.ority of the Puishwa. ^ WOOD'S REVIKVV 'OT TJU:

B French


French faction in its army; and while the inter-
nal convulsions of each state had diminished tie
resources of both, their co-operation against
Tippoo Sultaun had become impracticable, by
the progress of their mutual animosities and dis-

The intentions of the Governor-General were
unfortunately disappointed at the Court of Poo-
nah : he had, however, the satisfaction to ascer-
tain, that the disposition of the Mahratta go-
vernment continued perfectly favourable to the
British interests, and that want of power would
be the sole cause of its inaction, in the event
of a war with Tippoo. At the Court of i iy-
clerabad, co-operative measures were adopted
with the wished-for alacrity; a new subsidiary
treaty was concluded with the Nizam, which
had for its objects the admission of an additional
British force into his Highness's establishment,
and the total expulsion of the French party,
then under the command of M. Perron ; and
by a fortunate coincidence of events, the pro-
posed reduction was effected without blood-
shed, and without contest ; the obnoxious ranks
of the Nizam's army being surrounded and dis-
armed by a detachment of British troops., aided
by a body of the native cavalry, and the French



officers put under arrest, in order to their being
sent to Europe*.

About this time the invasion of Egypt, by the
French, and the progress of their arms in that
country, were facts fully ascertained in India ; and
soon afterwards, intelligence was received of the
glorious victory gained by his Majesty's squadron,
under the command of Admiral Nelson. But it
appearing to Lord Mornington, that the fate of
the French army in Egypt was still uncertain,
and that an additional force might have been
intended to combine operations with it in India,
by the ordinary passage round the Cape of Good
Hope, his Lordship did not relax any part of the
military preparations he had ordered to be com-
menced : the Government of Bombay had, with
the utmost promptitude, attended to the collec-
tion not only of their troops, but. of the largest
possible supplies on the coast of Malabar; and

* A mutiny having broken out in the French camp, and the
Sepoys having imprisoned their officers, the English Resident
at Hydrabad, with the consent of the Nizam, so judiciously
and opportunely employed a British detachment, under Colonel
Roberts, that the greatest difficulty they had to encounter was
that of rescuing the imprisoned French from the violence of
their own Sepoys. The amount of the force disarmed on this
occasion, was ribout eleven thousand men ; a part of the French
corps being then absent on detachment. See LORD Mor.N-

B 2 the


the Madras army had peremptory orders for com-
pleting the equipment of their battering train, and
for advancing it with all practicable dispatch to
the most eligible station on the frontier of the Car-
natic, with a view ot proceeding towards Serin-
gapatam ,at the earliest possible period, if such a
movement into Mysore should become necessary.
The opportunity now appeared favourable for
opening a negociation with Tippoo Sultaun, and
a correspondence commenced, in which Lord
Mornington carefully avoided every hostile ex-
pression; merely premising to the Sultaun, that
lie was acquainted with the nature of his inter-
course with the French nation, and proposing to
him to receive Major Doveton, on the part of
the Allies, for the purpose of proceeding to an
amicable arrangement of all subsisting differences.
This was the uniform tenor of several and suc-
cessive letters to the Sultaun ; who, on his part,
returned a few reluctant communications, con-
taining statements full of prevarication and false-
hood, and professions made up in terms of the
most palpable deceit ; finally informing the Go-
vernor-General, that being about to " proceed
upon a hunting excursion*," he would receive


* The hunting party of an Asiatic Prince is in fact, a regular
military expedition against the antelopes, elephants, and ligers!



Major Doveton, without the retinue, or atten-
dants, of a formal embassy* !


accompanied by all the great officers of the coin t, and an im-
mense retinue of soldiery. The movements of such nn army,
ostensibly called into the iield for the warfare of the chase, are
often made subservient to the more ho;. tile views of its ieader ;
but, in this instance, the penetration of the Governor-General
was not so easily to be deceived.

* The two following letters will give a clear idea of the
Sultaun's language, in his correspondence with Lord Morning-
ton ; furnishing a curious sample of the pompous duplicity of
an Eastern despot

From Tippoo Sultann. Received tin \\thofJan. 1799. '
(An official translation. )

" T;:K agreeable arrival of your Lordship's two letters, de-
noting your welfare, rejoiced and gratified me. A Khercta, in
reply to your Lordship's former friendly letter, has been written
and dispatched; it will, no doubt, by this time have been re-
ceived, and the sincerity of my friendship and regard will have
been made apparent, together with proofs of my solicitude for
tranquillity and peace; my friendly heart being bent upon their
increase. Continue to rejoice me with happy letters!"

It may be necessary to observe, previous to a perusal of the
letter which follows that the "King of Room/' i. e. the Grand
Seignior, had written a dissuasive letter to Tippoo, on the sub-
ject of his anti-anglican connexion with the French, which
letter was officially, transmitted to him, with a suitable comment,
by the Governor-General ( on the J6th of January



The design of this tardy, reluctant, and insi-
dious assent to the admission of an official nego-
tiator from the British government, could be con-
sidered in no other light than that of a new arti-
fice, for the purpose of giving time until a change
of circumstances and of season might enable
the Sultaun to avail himself of the assistance of
France ; and this conclusion was confirmed by
the actual embarkation of Mr. Dubuc (one of
the leaders of the French force recentlv raised in

From Tippoo Sultaun, Received the l'3iii Ftb. 170i).

(An ojjlcial translation )

" I have been much gratified by the agreeable receipt of
your Lordship's two friendly letters; the first brought by a
Camel-roar), the last by Hircarrahs, and understood their con-
tents. The letter of the Prince, in station, like Tumshiecl with
angels .is his guards with troops numerous as the stars the
sun illuminating the world the heaven of empire and domi-
nion- -the luminary giving splendour to (he universe the fir-
mament of glory and power the Sultaun of the rea and land
the King of Room be his empire and his power perpetual!
addressed to me, which reached you through the British
Envoy, and which you transmitted, has arrived. Being fre-
quently disposed to make excursions and hunt, I am accord-
ingly proceeding upon a hunting excursion. You will pl-a-c
to dispatch Major Doveton (about whose coming your friendly
pen has repeatedly written) slightly attended. Always conti-
nue to gratify me by friendly letter?, notifying ycr.r we ] .:\>.~ <?.'''



the Isle of France) and two native Vakeels, on an
embassy from Tippoo to the Executive Directory
of France ; an event which took place at Tran-
cjuebar on the 1 1-th of February. The season
for negociation through the pacific channels -so
often otfered by Lord Morn in "ton was therefore
now elapsed, and the reply to Tippoo's last pro^
posal informed him, that General Harris was the
only person authorized to receive and to answer
any farther communications he might think fit to
make. This letter General Harris was directed
to forward to the Sultaun, on the day on which
the army under his command should pass the
frontier ; and a declaration was ordered to ho
issued at the same time, in the name of tne Al-
lies, clearly stating and explaining the grounds
upon which their military movements were to be

The forces of the Allied Powers were, in the
mean \\liile, assembling at Ryacottah, on the con-
fines of Mysore, under General Harris; the Ni-
zam's contingent formed a rapid junction with
the British army, and consisted of above six thou-
sand of the Company's troops subsidized by his
Highness; of about the same number of his own
infantry, (including a portion of the French-d!s
ciplincd Sepoys, commanded by British officers)



and of a large body of cavalry; the whole in an
improved state of military equipment, and under
the general command of Mcer Allum. From the
last returns of General Harris's army, previous to
his passing the frontier, it v/;is allowed that a body
of troops more completely appointed; more amply
and liberally supplied in every department, or
more perfect in its discipline, and in the acknow-
ledged experience, ability and zeal of its officers,
never took the field in India. The army on the
coast of Malabar, underLieutenantGeneral Stuart,
was in an equally efficient and respectable condi-
tion ; and a considerable force under the command
of Lieutenant-Colonels R ead and Brown, intended
to co-operate with General Harris in the Southern
districts, was not less ably equipped for service. -
Thus did the consummate ability, and the in-
flexible perseverance of a British Governor in
India, prepare for the operations of a campaign,
on which hung the fate of European possession
on the plains of Hindostan. The result of those
operations has been glorious beyond all calcu-
lation, and the names of MO.RJJINGTON and
HARRIS will, no doubt, be inscribed by their
grateful country, on the same tablet which perpe-
tuates those of aCoRNWALLis and a HASTINGS,




THE Bombay army marched from Cana-
nore on the 21st of February, arrived at
the head of the Poodicherrum Ghaut *, on the


* The Mysore country is guarded by a range of celebrated
mountains which rise to a surprising height, and oppose to the
eastern borders of the Carnatic, a mural front with Ghauts, i. e.
passes. From the word Ghaut, the whole chain derives its name :
they give entrance into the lofty, fertile, and populous plains
of boundless view, which they support as buttresses do a ter-
race formed on an immense scale. The Mysore country being
at least two thousand feet higher than the level of the Carnatic,
is thence called the Table Land ; the ascent to which is not to
be accomplished even by a single traveller, without the fa-
tiguing labour of many hours. The path-ways up the Ghauts
are worked by the hand of man along the deep-worn channel of
some rapid torrent, or skirting the hollow ja vines and winding
excavations, which have formed themselves on the face of this
mountain precipice, and in many of these passes, the obstructions
of art, as well as their natural ones, are opposed to the pro-
gress of an invading army. After the sacking of Onore in
1783, General Matthews (flushed with the expectation of fur-
C ther


25th of the same month, and took up its ground
between Ahmootenaar and Scedaseer, on the 2d
of March, for the protection and augmentation
of the large supplies which were then collecting
at Verajunder Pett, under the friendly and assi-
duous co-operation of the Coorga Rajah *; and


ther successes) on his march to the attack of Bednore, ascended
the Hussein Ghurry Ghaut, a deep defile, only eight feet wide ;
with all its windings not less than three miles in extent, and
strongly fortified at every turning. The enemy, struck with the
boldness of such an unexpected attempt, yielded the pass, after
a short, but hot contention, to the superior daring of the British
troops. See PENNANT, MONRO, &c.

* This friendly Chief, when a boy, was by the course of fa-
mily feuds, a prisoner with Hyder Ally, who compelled him to
become a mussulman, with all the shameful ceremonies of ini-
tiation : he was enrolled among the Chaylahs, or slave troops,
and continued so under Tippoo Sultaun, till he made his escape
in 1785, into his own dominions, where he instantly offered his
service to the English : it was accepted, and he proved a most
useful ally.- A British fugitive (who had also been lucky
enough to effect his escape from Seringapatam) saw this Rajah
in 1793, at his residence at Nockuah, and describes him as a
young man buckishly dressed in nankeen pantaloons, European
boots, and a shirt made in the English fashion. In a short con-
versation, which turned upon the then recent dismemberment
of Tippoo's dominions, he remarked, that " the English had cut
off the monster's right hand and foot, and he hoped to see them
cut ofFhis left ones too." The prophetic chief has seen his hopes
more than realized ! At the treaty of Seringapatam, in 1 792,



from this position General Stuart intended, on-
its approach, to form a junction with the army
of Madras.

At this period, Tippoo Sultaun was supposed
to be encamped in the vicinity of Maddoor, and
to be preparing to move in the direction of Ban-
galore, for the purpose of opposing the progress
of the Madras army, in the event of its actually
passing the frontier : but it soon appeared, that
although he had constantly affected a pacific dis-
position, his intentions were decidedly hostile;
for, without waiting to hear of the actual com-
mencement of hostilities on the part of the British
Government, he determined to strike a sudden
and deadly blow, by attacking the army of Bom-
bay, whilst yet without the confines of his own
territory, and in the dominions of a British Ally,
the Coorga Rajah; and for this purpose, taking;
with him the flower of his troops, amounting to.

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryEast India CompanyNarrative sketches of the Conquest of the Mysore : effected by the British Troops and their allies, in the capture of Seringapatam, and the death of Tippoo Sultaun, May 4, 1799 : with notes, descriptive and explanatory → online text (page 1 of 9)