John Clark Marshman.

The history of India, from the earliest period to the close of Lord Dalhousie's administration / by John Clark Marshman (Volume 2) online

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cutta, and depopulated entire villages. It baffled the skill both
of the European faculty and the native doctors, none of whom
were able to discover the. cause or the cure of the malady.
The superstitious natives resorted to the expedient of making
one more addition to the three hundred and thirty millions of
their deities, and established rites to propitiate the malevolent
goddess of the cholera. It gradually crept up the banks of
the river, and about the 13th November entered Lord Hastings'
camp, and for a time paralysed the army in mind as well as
body. It was calculated that the strength of the force, includ-
ing its camp followers, was diminished by deaths and deser-
tions to the extent of nearly twenty thousand. Lord Hastings
was apprehensive lest an exaggerated report of the prostra-
tion of the army might induce Sindia to violate the arrange-
ments he had so recently made, and he called his staff together,
and directed them, in case he should fall a victim to the
disease, to bury him in his tent under the table, and to conceal
his death till Sindia had fulfilled his engagements. Under
the advice of the medical officers, the position of the camp
was shifted to the banks of the Betwa, and the virulence of
the disease subsided.

Ameer Khan, Ameer Khan, at this conjuncture, was scarcely
a less important chief than Sindia. The little band
of freebooters with whom he begun his course, had grown up
into an army of fifty-two battalions of well-trained infant^,
and a powerful cavalry, and a hundred and fifty pieces of
cannon. It was as essential to the peace of India to break
up the Patan, as the Pindaree force. Lord Hastings did not
therefore hesitate to offer to guarantee to him the territories


he held in jageer from Holkar, if he engaged to disband his
army and surrender his guns, for a valuation. A month was
allowed him for the acceptance of the proposed treaty, and
though he wavered at first, the defeat of Bajee Rao and of the
raja of Nagpore, and the extinction of their power, to which
we shall presently allude, convinced him that the star of the
Company was still in the ascendant, and he at once accepted
the alternative of the treaty, and became an independent
feudatory prince, with an income of fifteen lacs of rupees a-
year, a dignity to which a career of eleven years of violence
and crime gave him little claim.

The intimation given to Sindia of the nullifica-
th tio11 of tliat clause of Sir George Barlow's treaty,
the native which barred all interference with the states of

princes, 1817-18. , r , i -r> c n j -^i

Malwa and Kajpootana, was followed up with
vigour. The chiefs were informed that the neutral policy had
ceased to exist, and that the British Government was pre-
pared to admit them to alliances which would protect them
from the oppressions to which they had been subjected. The
intelligence diffused joy through the provinces, and the princes
became eager to embrace the offer. There was at least this
advantage connected with ilie reversal of Lord Wellesley's
policy by the Court, that the incalculable misery thereby in-
flicted on the country prepared the princes to appreciate the
restoration of it more highly than they might otherwise have
done. The chief management of this series of alliances was
entrusted to Mr. Metcalfe, and the residency at Delhi was
speedily crowded with the agents of nineteen princes of Central
India. The first to enter into the arrangement was the vene-
rable Zalim Sing, who had for half a century managed the
affairs of the Afghan principality of Kotah with extraordinary
ability. So great was the reputation of his virtues that in
that age of violence he became the general umpire in the
disputes of the surrounding princes, and their treasures were
deposited in his fort as in the safest of sanctuaries. He pro-
moted the operations against the Pindarees with great zeal,


and was subsequently rewarded with the grant of four dis-
tricts taken from Holkar's possessions. The raja was an
imbecile cypher, unknown beyond the precincts of the palace,
and Lord Hastings offered to conclude the treaty with Zalim
Sing himself, but his own feeling of moderation, and a respect
for public opinion, which would have condemned this assump-
tion of royalty, induced him to decline the honour, and content
himself with the office of hereditary minister. Then came the
nabob of Bhopal, the virtuous and accomplished Nusser
Mahomed, who cheerfully accepted the alliance which his
father had rejected. The assistance he afforded in the Pin-
daree campaign, and the kindness of his ancestors to General
Goddard, were acknowledged by the grant of five valuable
districts taken from the Peshwa. Under the auspices of the
British Government his revenues, which had been reduced by
usurpation to little more than a lac of rupees a-year, were
improved to the extent of ten lacs. The raja of Boondee had
braved the threats of Holkar in 1805, and afforded succour to
General Monson. He had been ungenerously abandoned by
Sir George Barlow to the vengeance of that chief, and to the
spoliation of Sindia, but was now taken under British protec-
tion, and his devotion requited by an accession of territory,
and an entire exemption from the heavy tribute imposed on his
state by Holkar. No events connected with this great settle-
ment of Central India produced a more favourable impression
on the native mind than this grateful recognition of ancient
services in the hour of triumph. The raja of Joudhpore had
been brought to the brink of ruin by the Mahrattas and the
Patans, and he eagerly accepted the offer of an alliance which
relieved him from all further dread of their exactions. No
Kajpoot state had suffered so severely from rapine as Oody-
pore. To the rana who had lost the greater portion of his
territories, and whose revenues had been reduced to two lacs
of rupees a-year, the arrangement now proposed by Lord
Hastings, which cleared his country at once of the swarm of
plunderers which had fastened on it, was a godsend. It was-


the proud boast of the house of Oodypore, with its claim of
unfathomable antiquity, that it had never given a daughter hi
marriage to the throne of Delhi, in the height of its grandeur,
and had never acknowledged the sovereignty of Mogul or
Mahratta, though repeatedly overwhelmed by both ; but the
sovereign now cheerfully submitted to the supremacy of the
foreigner, who, as he said, " had come in ships from a country
before unknown." The last of the principal Rajpoot states to
accept the alliance was Jeypore, and it was not till the raja
saw every power prostrate before the British arms, and the
settlement of Central India on the eve of being completed with-
out including him, that he consented to come into the system.
Treaties were also concluded in succession with the secondary
and minor principalities, upon the same basis of " subordinate
co-operation and acknowledged supremacy," and of the
reference of all international disputes to the arbitration of
the Company. All these treaties, with the exception of two,
were negotiated and signed within the short period of four


NOTICES, 18171822.

Outbreak of the THE head-quarters of ' the three Pindaree chiefs
shwa, Ian. were centrically situated in the south of Malwa,
and it was towards this position that the left division of the
Bengal force and two divisions of the Deccan army began to
advance about the middle of October. This movement was
immediately followed by the explosion of the plot which the
Peshwa had been organising amongst the Mahratta powers
for the overthrow of the Company's power. He himself
broke out on the 5th November ; the raja of Nagpore on the
26th of that month, and Holkar on the 16th December. The


Peshwa had left his capital immediately after signing the
Treaty of the 13th June, and proceeded first on a pilgrimage
to Punderpore, and then to the palace he had recently erected
at Maholy, seventy miles from Poona. There he was visited,
at his own request, by Sir John Malcolm who had been
appointed to the command of a division of the Madras army,
and was making the tour of the native courts as political
agent in the Deccan. The Peshwa, who affected to consider
him an ancient friend, complained with great animosity of the
humiliation the treaty had inflicted on him ; but he mani-
fested, notwithstanding, a feeling of so much cordiality
towards the British Government, and so great an anxiety to
assist in putting down the Pindarees that the kind and
credulous general was thrown off his guard, and encouraged
him to increase the strength and efficiency of his army.
Mr. Elphinstone, with a better knowledge of the duplicity of
the Peshwa, predicted a different destination for this force,
but was unwilling to check the generous sympathies of Sir
John. General Smith's division was, therefore, allowed to
quit Poona, and proceed to join the expedition against the
Pindarees, and the cautionary fortresses were restored.
Bajee Rao now redoubled his efforts to augment his army,
and advanced a crore of rupees from his private hoard to
Gokla, to whom he committed the entire management of his
political and military affairs. No pains were spared to con-
ciliate the southern jageerdars, whom hitherto the Peshwa
had always regarded with the strongest aversion, and they
were ordered to attend his stirrup at the earliest moment
with their full contingent of troops. His forts were repaired,
stored and garrisoned, and orders were issued to equip the
Mahratta fleet. Special envoys were sent to the Mahratta
princes to enlist them in the confederacy. A plan was laid
for the assassination of Mr. Elphinstone, whom he feared and
hated, but the noble-minded Gokla refused to lend himself to
so base a scheme, and it was dropped. Great exertions were
made, under the immediate direction of the Peshwa, to


whose feelings such an effort was particularly congenial, to
seduce the sepoys from their loyalty, but though a large
number of them had been enlisted within his own provinces,
and their families were completely within his power, they
exhibited a noble example of fidelity to the Company, and
brought the sums which had been left with them by the
Bajee Rao's emissaries to their own officers. The Peshwa
returned to Poona at the beginning of October. At the last
interview with Mr. Elphinstone, he deplored the loss which
he had sustained of territory, revenue, and dignity, but
repeated the assurance that the troops he had assembled
were intended to co-operate against the Pindarees. Towards
the close of the month, however, his cavalry gave unequi-
vocal tokens of the hostile disposition of their master by
caracoling round the British encampment and insulting the
officers and men. Mr. Elphinstone, seeing a conflict inevit-
able, called up a European regiment from Bombay, and
thus imparted to his little native force that confidence which
the presence of European soldiers always inspires. The
camp was at the same time removed from Poona to a more
defensible position at Kirkee, about two miles distant, but
the whole British force did not exceed 3,000 while the
Mahratta army mustered 18,000 horse and 8,000 foot.
Battle of Kirkee, The preparations of the Peshwa were now
5tu xov., 1817. ma t; ure? and, in the full assurance that Sindia and
Ameer Khan were already in the field, and that their example
would soon be followed by the raja of Berar and Holkar, he
precipitately plunged into hostilities on the 5th November
the very day on which Sindia signed the treaty which
detached him from the confederacy. Towards noon he sent
one of his ministers to Mr. Elphinstone to propound the
terms on which he would consent to continue on terms of
friendship with the British Government. They were suffi-
ciently arrogant, and were rejected, as a matter of course.
While his messenger was on his way back, the plain
was covered with masses of cavalry, and an endless


stream of soldiers issued from every avenue of the city.
Mr. Elphinstone lost no time in joining the camp, but he
had no sooner quitted the Residency than the Mahrattas
rushed in and burnt it to the ground, together with all his
valuable papers. Considering the great disparity of force,
he believed it would be most judicious boldly to take the
offensive, and he advised Colonel Burr, the commander, to
assail the Mahrattas instead of awaiting their attack. The
superstitious minds of the Peshwa's soldiers had been
depressed by the accidental fracture of the staff of the
national standard as they were leaving the city ; but their
confidence was destroyed by the fearless advance of the British
troops, who they had been assured would take to flight on
the first appearance of the Mahratta army. The Peshwa
proceeded to the neighbouring hill Parbutee, to observe the
conflict which he had not the courage to engage in, while
Gokla, in the true spirit of a soldier, rode about from rank to
rank animating the troops. He opened the engagement from
a battery of nine guns and enveloped the British force with
his cavalry. The infantry was left in the rear with the
exception of one battalion, raised and commanded by a
Portuguese officer, de Pinto, which boldly advanced against a
regiment of sepoys. It was repulsed, but pursued with such
ardour, that a gap was created between it and the rest of the
British line. Gokla seized the opportunity, and launched a
select body of 6,000 cavalry against the regiment while in a
state of confusion. The veteran Colonel Burr, though
labouring under a violent and incurable disease, took his post
by the colours of the corps, which he himself had formed and
led for many years, and aided by the nature of the ground
succeeded in breaking the force of the charge. The
Mahrattas were disconcerted, and began to retire, and on
being charged by the British troops completely deserted the
field, which was won with ease, with the loss of only eighty-
six killed and wounded. General Smith, on hearing of these
transactions, hastened back to Poona, which he reached on


the 13th of the month. The Peshwa had received a large
accession of strength from the southern jageerdars who
brought up their troops with alacrity, but he declined another
engagement and, leaving his camp standing, fled southward
on the 17th, when the city of Poona surrendered to General
Smith ; and thus ingloriously fell the power of the Peehwa,
one hundred years after it had been established through the
concessions obtained from the Emperor of Delhi in 1717 by
his great grandfather, Ballajee Vishwunath.
Events at Nag- Appa Sahib, the regent of Nagpore, continued
pore 18161817. ^. Q ma i n tain the most friendly relations with the
Resident for several months after the conclusion of the sub-
sidiary treaty in June, 1816. But on the 1st February, 1817,
the imbecile raja Persajee was found dead in his bed, and
subsequent inquiries established the fact that he had been
strangled by order of Appa Sahib, who immediately mounted
the throne and assumed the title of Mahdajee Bhonslay.
From that time there was a marked change in his conduct.
Having attained the supreme power in the state, he became
anxious to be relieved from that state of dependence in which
the alliance had placed him, and he entered cordially into the
views of the Peshwa to whom he gave the strongest assur-
ances of support. Early in September, an agent of the
Pindaree Cheetoo was presented at his durbar, and received
a dress of honour. An active correspondence was also carried
on with Poona, and troops were enlisted in large numbers.
The Resident demanded an explanation of these strange pro-
ceedings, but the raja continued to profess an inviolable
attachment to the Company, and on hearing of the attack
made on Mr. Elphinstone by Bajee Rao on the 5th November,
enveighed against such perfidy in very strong terms ; while,
at the same time, he was collecting his resources for a trea-
cherous assault on Mr. Jenkins. All his preparations ap-
peared to him to be complete, and on the evening of the 24th
November, he sent to inform the Resident that an agent had
arrived from the Peshwa to invest him with a dress of honour.


and with the ancient title of senaputtee, or commander- in-
chief of the Mahratta empire, and that he intended to proceed
to his camp the next day to assume these honours. Mr. Jenkins
was impudently invited to be present on the occasion, but he
remonstrated on the danger of these proceedings, and cautioned
the raja against identifying himself with a prince who was
then in arms against the Company. Appa Sahib, however,
persisted in going to the camp, and assumed these decorations
with every demonstration of military pomp.

This ceremony was the signal for an attack on

Battle of J

seetabuidee, the Residency. It lay to the west of the city
from which it was separated by a small ridge
running north and south, with two hills at the extremity
called the Seetabuidee hills, a name which has become as
celebrated in the annals of British India, as ever Thermopylae
was in the annals of Greece. The raja's force amounted to
about 18,000 men, of whom 4,000 were Arabs, the bravest
soldiers in the Deccan, and at this time the sinews of the
Mahratta armies ; he had likewise thirty-six guns. The
force at the Residency consisted of two battalions of Madras
infantry, considerably weakened by disease ; two companies
of the Resident's escort, three troops of Bengal cavalry and
a detachment of Madras artillery, with four six-pounders.
Towards the evening the Nagpore guns were brought to bear
upon the British position, and a vigorous assault was made
on the lower hill, which, though slackened during the night,
was impetuously renewed in the morning, but repelled with
great gallantry. At length a tumbril exploded, and in the
confusion of the moment, the Arabs charged directly up the
hill and captured it, and immediately turned the gun they
found there, together with two of their own, on the larger
hill. Emboldened by this success, the enemy began to close
in upon the Residency in every direction, and to prepare for a
general assault. The Arabs likewise rushed into the huts of
the sepoys who became dispirited by the shrieks of their
women and children; the ammunition and supplies were


running short ; one-fourth, the little force, including- fourteen
officers, was either killed or wounded ; the latter were tended
throughout the engagement by the ladies. It was a most
appalling crisis, and there was every reason to conclude that
the impending assault would result in the entire annihilation of
the force, when the fortunes of the day were at once changed
by the gallantry of Captain Fitzgerald, who commanded the
Bengal cavalry. He had repeatedly entreated permission to
charge the enemy, but had been refused. Seeing the destruc-
tion of the whole force inevitable, he made a last attempt, and
with increased importunity, to be allowed to advance. " Tell
him," replied Colonel Scott, "to charge at his peril." "At
my peril be it," replied Fitzgerald, and rushed upon the main
body of the enemy's horse with irresistible fury, cut up the
infantry, and captured two guns. This noble exploit was
witnessed from the hill with ecstacy, and a spirit of the
highest enthusiasm was kindled in the breasts of the troops.
At this juncture one of the enemy's tumbrils exploded, the
Arabs were seen to be disorganised, and officers and men
plunged down the hill and chased the enemy before them like a
flock of sheep. By noon, the conflict which had lasted eigh-
teen hours terminated in the complete triumph of the British
arms. It was, perhaps, the severest trial to which native troops
had ever been exposed, and the result reflected the highest
honour on their courage and constancy. But there can be
little doubt that the great perils of the day might have been
avoided if Colonel Scott had followed the example of Colonel
Burr, and boldly charged the enemy at the outset. Lord
Hastings bestowed the highest encomium on all who were
engaged in this brilliant action, but it was not till the com-
mencement of Queen Victoria's reign, twenty years later,
that any mark of distinction was bestowed on the heroes of
Seetabuldee. The order of the Bath was conferred on the
survivors, Mr. Jenkins and Captain Lloyd. The 24th Madras
Infantry occupied the place of the 1st Eegiment which was
struck off the roll for its share in the Vellore mutiny. The


sepoys now prayed that in lieu of any other recognition of
their services they might be permitted to resume the former
number and facings of the regiment, a request which was
most cordially acceded to.

Reinforcements poured into Nagpore from all

Deposition r

of Appa saMb, quarters, and on the 15th December, Mr. Jenkins
was in a position to dictate terms to the raja.
He was required to dismiss his troops, to deliver up his guns,
to repair to the Residency and to admit that by this unprovoked
attack his kingdom was placed at the disposal of the British
Government. He was, however, given to understand that on
his acceptance of these terms, his throne would be restored
to him with no other reservation of territory than was suffi-
cient for the support of the subsidiary force. These condi-
tions were accepted, but on the morning of the 16th December
he sent to inform the Resident that his Arab troops would not
allow him to quit the camp. General Doveton, therefore,
moved up against it, when the raja, yielding to his fears,
mounted his horse and accompanied by two of his minister.?
and a few attendants rode into the Residency. A portion of
his guns, thirty-six in number, was likewise surrendered, but
the remainder were not obtained till after a severe engage-
ment which cost the British force a hundred and forty in
killed and wounded. After the Nagpore army was dispersed,
a body of about 5,000 Arabs and Hindostanees threw them-
selves into the fortified palace of the raja, and defended it
with great resolution for a week. It became necessary to
order up a battering train, but the Arabs, believing that they
had done enough to save their honour, evacuated the place
on the easy terms offered them. Lord Hastings had resolved
to punish the wanton attack on the Residency by the deposi-
tion of Appa Sahib, but was unwilling to weaken the authority
of the Resident by refusing his assent to the more lenient
arrangement he had made, and the raja resumed his dignities
on the 8th January, 1818. His incurable spirit of intrigue,
however, hurried him to his destruction. He incited the forest


and mountain chiefs to resist the British troops : he impeded
the surrender of his forts, arid went so far as to invite the
Peshwa, while pursued by the British divisions, to move into
his territories, and prepared to join his standard. The timely
discovery of this clandestine correspondence defeated his
schemes. Lord Hastings ordered him to be sent to honourable
confinement at Allahabad, and Persajee, the next heir, to be
raised to the throne. Appa Sahib set forward on his journey
on the 2nd May, 1818, but on the way succeeded in corrupt-
ing 1 the fidelity of the guard, and made his escape from the
camp. After wandering about the country for several years
he proceeded to Joudhpore, but the raja refused to follow the
example of Jeypore in the case of Vizier Ali, and to sully
his character by violating the laws of Rajpoot hospitality,
and surrendering him to the demand of Government. Appa
Sahib subsequently obtained shelter at Lahore, and died a
pensioner on the bounty of Runjeet Sing.

Lord Hastings had made the offer of a treaty
eventein * Toolsee bye, and she sent a secret commu-
Hoikar's camp, nication to the Resident of Delhi proposing to
place the young prince and the Holkar state under
British protection. The administration was vested in her as
regent, but all real power was in the hands of the military
chiefs, Ramdeen, a Hindostanee brahmin, Roshun beg, who
commanded the cavalry, and more particularly, Guffoor Khan,
the head of the Patan faction. As soon as it became known
that the Peshwa had risen in arms, the various detached 'corps

Online LibraryJohn Clark MarshmanThe history of India, from the earliest period to the close of Lord Dalhousie's administration / by John Clark Marshman (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 38)