Mountstuart Elphinstone.

Selections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir online

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Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 14 of 41)
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wounded will either die or require amputation.'

Extract Letter from the Honourable Mr. Elphin-
STONE to the Governor-General, dated Cami*,
Rajwarra, 23rd November, 1817.

' On our obtaining possession of Puna, correct accounts
were obtained of some particulars wdiich were before
imperfectly known. It appeared that the j^^^.^.^^ ^^.^^ ^^^
attack on our troops on the 5tli was chiefly K'phi"st°«e-
brought about by the persuasion of Gokhle ; that the
Peshwa took the alarm after he had given the order, and
even sent to Gokhle, when on the eve of the action, to
desire that he might not fire the first gun ; but that the
message was too late, or rather that Gokhle, hearing
his approach, anticipated it by beginning to cannonade.
Moro Dixit had been entrusted with the Jari Patka
(the standard of the Mahratta Empire), and had
0,000 horse attached to him besides his own 2,000 ;
he is, however, represented as having been ver}'
averse to the war, and as being accused by Gokhle
of intrigues with us. Raste was one of those attached
to Moro Dixit's party ; being strongly suspected of



1 88 DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE.

disaffection, he was compelled to charge first, but
acquitted himself with courage and fidelity. Goklile
avowed to x\paji Laxuman, iVppa Desai Vakil, imme-
diately before the action, that his confidence of success
and impatience to engage were founded on the certainty
that our Sepoys would come over by companies or
battalions on the field.

' After the affair of the 5th, the Peshwa's army was
dismayed. His Highness sent for Hareshwar, the
banker, lamented the breaking out of hostilities, and
with his usual insincerit}^ professed his wish to have re-
mained at peace, and threw the whole blame of the war,
both plan and execution, on his Sirdars. On this
occasion he disavowed the burning of the Eesideucy, and
said he would be very glad to build a new one ; but his
whole discourse appears to me to be merely a specimen
of his accustomed double-dealing, and of his wish, even
in the worst of times, to keep open some separate channel
of intrigue for his own use.

' Some days after the action, the Peshwa's officers
picked up some spirit, and set about circulating the
most absurd reports of their successes and of the defec-
tion of our allies. They were joined by Dharmaji
Pratab Piaw (the freebooter), and it is said by the son
of Piaw Piaml:)lia ; Chintaman Piav also joined before
their flight from Puna. Gokhle set up a white flag as
an asylum for all who should desert us before a certain
time ; after that no pardon was to be given to any man
who had served us. All the servants of English gentle-
men who happened to live at Puna were hunted out
by Gokhle, and many treated with great severity ; the
houses of most of them were given up to plunder, but
none of them were put to death.

' Some time before the breaking out of the war
the Peshwa had concerted witli all the Bhils and



DESPATCHES OE HON. M. EEl'HINSTONE. 189

Eamoshis, and other predatory tribes in his country,
to shut up the roads and phuidcr effects belonging to
us. They have readily obeyed an order so much suited
to their inclination, and have not confined their depre-
dations to British property. They have, however, shut
up the roads ; that to Bombay is further obstructed by
the garrison of Logus, and by a detachment which has
taken possession of and stockaded the Bore Ghat ; no
dawks have been received from Bombay since the 5th,
General Smith, however, has sent a strong detachment
to open the road, and one of less strength to keep open
the communication with Ahmednagar. No more con-
voys have been cut off since the first few days after the
war ; but I am greatly concerned to state that Lieu-
tenant Ennis, of the Bombay Engineers, has been cut
off near Sakur Mandava, where he was employed on
survey. He had been recalled, but from an over-con-
fidence in the strength of his guard he did not fall back
on any station. He was attacked in the night by the
inhabitants of Sakur Mandava, and next morning was
surrounded by the Bliils and other adherents of Trim-
bakji, who is still in that neighbourhood. Lieutenant
Ennis was shot while engaged with the enemy, and his
detachment of a Jamadar and twenty-five men fought
their way to a more friendly part of the country. Some
koss on this side of Anna Bootch they were received and
fed, and sent off in disguise by the Patel of a village,
whom I shall not fail to discover and reward. Cornets
Hunter and Morrison were in Gokhle's custody ; they
were at first in charge of Major Pinto, who is said to
have treated them well, and resisted Gokhle's orders to
use them with severity ; but before the Peshwa's flight
they were put in chains, and sent to Gokhle's fort of
Kongori, in the Koukan.

' In consequence of the execution of Captain and



190 DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE.

Mr. Vaugiian, I have addressed letters of remonstrance
both to the Peshwa and to Gokhle. To the former I
only threatened retaliation, in general terms, for any
repetition of such atrocities ; but to Gokhle I declared
explicitly that any individual, however exalted in his
rank, who should order the death of a British prisoner,
should answer for the crime in his own person.

'I omitted to state that on the 18th General Smith
sent out a detachment to take some guns, which, with a
body of infantry, had got off to the neighbourhood of
the fort of Sinhaghur. Fifteen guns w^re taken without
any loss ; besides these, forty-six were taken in Puna,
and one in the Peshwa's camp ; large quantities of
ammunition have likewise been taken.

' The army is now in full march after the Peshwa,
who, it is rumoured, intends to return to Puna, or holds
that language to encourage his troops. Trimbakji
has not yet joined him, whether from distrust on his
own part, or policy on the Peshwa's, is not known.'

Substance op a Private Letter from Mr. Elphin-
STONE, dated 22nd December, 1817.

The Peshwa having passed the range of Ghats, north
of Juner, which is not practicable for guns at any

point west of Ahmcdnagar, we are moving to
"from Mr." tlic Narbada Ghat ; in the meantime, it is

not altogether impossible that the Peshwa
may descend into the northern Konkan, or may send a
detachment to disturb that part of the country. This
is the more probable, as all the horse who generally
annoy us have disappeared to-day. It is also probable
l)ecausc th(! approach of General Pritzler from the
south, and the probable appearance of a light division
to the west of Ahmcdnagar, will render liis escape



DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE. 191

uncertain while he continues above the Ghats ; on the
other hand, he may be afraid to risk himself or his
troops below the Ghats, from whence retreat must always
be difficult. It might, however, be prudent to advert
to this chance in considering any plan that would with-
draw troops from the northern Konkan, or scatter them
in it ; and likewise it may be very important in con-
sidering whether or not to keep that force at Baroda, or
recall it if it should have marched — but of this I cannot
judge. Should the Peshwa or his troops descend into
the Konkan, Colonel Burr, the moment he hears of it,
will detach at least a complete battalion down to the Bore

Ghat ; and I will follow, either by

more probably by none of the intermediate

ones being practicable for guns. If the jPeshwa should
descend immediately, General Smith could not well be
in the Konkan by either Ghat in less than ten days,
as we should probably be at Ahmednagar before we had
certain accounts of his descents, and that would be at
least two marches by either route. I have no accounts
to lead me to apprehend this movement ; but I think it
right to mention it, as much mischief might be prevented
by a proper distribution of the troops, and above all, by
detaining the Brodera force, if there is the least doul)t
there.

Extract from a Despatch from the Honourable

MOUNTSTUART ElPHINSTONE, RESIDENT AT THE CoURT

OF THE Peshwa, to the Governor-General, dated
Camp at Koregaum, January 4th, 1818.

' About the time of General Smith's arrival at Sirur,
on the 17th December, the Peshwa reached "wuhuS
Wattur, near Junar ; from this place he Maimim"!
moved up to the Lag Ghat to Bamanwarra, about



192 DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE.

ten miles, and from tlience to Lingdes, about nine

miles ; between these three places he spent

from^Mr. thc time from the 17th to the 27th. The

more eastern Ghats being difficult for guns,

General Smith moved up the Nimba Dewra Ghat. He

left Sirur on the 22nd, and on the 25th reached

Hanwantgav, nearly on the direct road from Alimed-

nagar to Kopergaum. From Hanwantgav he made

a long march to Sangamner, and on the 27th he

marched farther west to Tugav.

' The PeshAva appears to have calculated on the
General's proceeding towards Kopergaum, for he sent
his tents to AYasseer, a pass, on the 27tli, as if he
intended to cross the valley of the Paira, near Akolali,
and proceeded by the great road to Nasik ; but on
hearing of General Smith's approach to Sangamner,
he changed his route, and moved to Kotul on the more
western side through Piajori. On General Smith's
reaching Tugav, he seems to have thought he could
not pass to the northward without the risk of being
entangled in the hills, and overtaken by our troops, in
consequence of which he retraced his steps on the
28tli, and arrived on the same day at Wattur, a
distance of near twenty miles, through Ghats, from
whence he proceeded to Chankan, about forty miles,
in two marches.

' At Chankan there is a strong little fort, from which
he drove out a party of Peons belonging to Captain
Robertson, Superintendent of Police at Puna, and
leaving 100 Arabs for a garrison, proceeded to Phul-
sheher, two miles from this place. Next day he was
suri)riscd by the appearance of the small detachment
under Captain Staunton, and he spent the first in
repeated attacks on it with liis whole force, his High-
ness himself looking on from a distant hill. The



DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHIN STONE. 193

detaclimeiit, thongli distressed both in provisions and
water, maintained its post against such unequal numbers
till the 2nd, when the Pesliwa heard of General Smith's
approach, and continued his flight to the southward ;
he ascended the little Bore Ghat on the same day, and
was followed by his whole army in the course of the
night.

' The details of the gallant defence of Captain
Staunton's detachment shall be forwarded as soon as
received.

' On the Peshwa's return to the south. General Smith
set out in pursuit of him, and ascended the Wassira
Ghat, after which he left three battalions with bis
heavy guns and stores under the command of Lieutenant-
Colonel Boles, and proceeded over the Malsiras and
Lag Ghats to this place, where he arrived yester-
day, and halted to-da}', the first time for a fortnight,
during which he had marched upwards of 200
miles.'

' To the Most Noble the Marquis of Hastings, K.G.,
etc., etc., etc.

' My Lord,

' General Smith's reports will have informed
your Excellency with the operations of this force since
its march from Puna. The Peshwa kept at a con-
siderable distance, and made moderate marches, from Mr.
merely suincient to prevent our gammg on him.
The troops with him amount to about 10,000 horse,
of which the greater part belong to southern Jahagir-
dars, who refuse to quit his person, and the rest are the
remains of his own horse, after the best have been selected
by Gokhle. He has likewise 2,000 or 3,000 infantry.
He was lately joined by 3,000 horse under Naro
Pant Apte, who had been detached to bring the Pajali

13



194 DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE.

of Satara to Wassota, when General Smith was in
that neighbourhood, and who arrived with him in the
Peshwa's camp five days ago. The Peshwa has his
tents as usual, and is accompanied by his wife. Gokhle
remains in the rear with a light force of about 7,000
horse, who have neither tents nor baggage of any
description, but sleep by their horses, which are
always saddled, and generally shift their ground once or
twice in the course of every night. This force consists
of parts of Gokhle's own troops, and those of the Vin-
churkar and Purandhar. Their object is to hang on
the rear of this army, to plunder the baggage, to cut off
supplies, to intercept communications, and generally to
cramp General Smith's operations. In the first mode
of annoyance they have been totally unsuccessful ; and
though they prevent supplies coming in, unless under
strong escorts, yet as they have the grain in the
villages, no great inconvenience is occasioned by the
prevention. They are more successful in stopping com-
munications ; but the effect of them is chiefly felt in
their obliging the light and heavy parts of the army to
move in one body, and in the delay occasioned by the
necessity of guarding against their possible enterprises.
Notwithstanding those obstructions. General Smith has
marched, on an average, fifteen miles a day ever since
he left Puna ; and as he is about to leave his battering
train at this place, he will henceforth be able to press
the Peshwa much closer, and with much less exertion
to his army. The Peshwa's course was first direct to
the south ; but from Puso Savli he turned east, and
marched in that direction to Paudharpur, from whence
he moved first north and then north-west, towards Puna.
He passed within twenty miles of that capital, and is
now near Junar, fifty miles north -west of this canton-
ment. He is said to have lately been joined by Trim-



DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE. 195

bakji, with a body of Bhils and Ramoshis, and some
Arabs, and it is believed that he intends to retire into
the hills north of Junar, which are impassable for
guns, and there to endeavour to defend himself. Both
the Peshwa's force and Gokhle's are represented to
be harassed and disheartened, of which the best proof is
afforded by the reduction of their numbers.

' Brigadier-General Pritzler was at Bijapur on the
12th instant, on his march towards Pandharpur, from
whence I have recommended his advancing towards
Pedgaum, on the Bhima.

' I had formerly the honour to report my having
addressed letters to the Peshwa and to Gokhle, threaten-
ing retaliation if any other British prisoners should be
put to death. After some time I received answers, both
of which disavowed the murder of Captain Vauglian
and Mr. Vauglian. Gokhle promised an inquiry re-
garding the murderers, and the Peshwa professed a
strong desire to be at peace with the Company, under
whose protection he had lived so happily.

' Two days after two Harkaras of Gokhle's brought
letters from Messrs. Morrison and Hunter, stating that
though rather roughly treated at first, they had since their
arrival at Puna been well treated, and were in charge of
Major Pinto. The letter, however, though not de-
livered till the 3rd of December, was dated the 9th of
November, only two days after their capture, and
before they were sent to Kungoree. Their treatment
there is represented to be harsh. These letters w^ere
delivered without any message from Gokhle ; but the
delivery of them after so long a period had of itself the
appearance of a wish to conciliate ; and agrees with
popular reports at the time, that the Peshwa wished to
treat. This intention, if it was ever entertained, was
probably altered by the intelligence of the war with the

n—'l



196 DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE.

Eajah of Nagpur. Yesterday a Brahmin, calling him-
self Balkrishna Shastri, and professing to be an agent
of the Peshwa's, arrived at camp in disguise. He re-
presented himself to have been sent to Puna by the
Peshwa from Parali, where his Highness was about
the last week in November, but ordered to remain quiet
till further orders. These orders arrived about a fort-
niofht ao;o, when Balkrishna waited on Lieutenant
Robertson, who has remained in charge of Puna. He
opened his mission to that officer, and the object of it
appeared to be to persuade us that the Peshwa was him-
self our friend, but was not a free agent, being borne
away by the violence of Gokhle and Ballaba ; to prevail
on me to apply for an armistice, and, finally, to ascer-
tain whether we were likely to direct our attention to
the person of the Peshwa, or to that of the Piajah of
Satara. Captain Piobertson very judiciously^ ridiculed
the idea of our asking an armistice, recommended the
Peshwa to come forward openly and throw himself on
our mercy as the only means of keeping his musnud,
and pointed out the ease with which we might set up a
new Peshwa. Balkrishna held nearly the same
language to me that he had to Captain Robertson,
except that he did not mention the armistice, and spoke
of the Peshwa's coming alone into the camp if he
received encouragement. He did not specify what
encouragement was expected ; but as he spoke of our
behaving as formerly, and not as for the last year, I
conceive that he has no thouglits of unconditional sub-
mission. My answer was that I did not know that he
was sent by the Peshwa, but that what I had to say
was no secret, and I would therefore communicate it.
It was that I had received no orders, and did not know
whether your Excellency would treat with the Peshwa
even now ; that I was sure you would not if he pushed



DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE. 197

things to extremities ; that he must be sensible how
much we lost by not setting up a new government, to
which the Sardars who disapproved of his Highnesses
measures might repair, and that he had better endeavour
to obtain terms before it was too late. Balkrishna
Shastri was desirous of remaining a day, first to allow
me time for consideration, and afterwards for his own
convenience ; but I thought it best to send him imme-
diately out of camp. If these overtures come from
the Pesliwa they are probabty insincere. It seems
his plan to throw the odium of the war on his Sardars,
and to endeavour to maintain a sort of neutrality for
himself; but his reception of Trimbakji, if true, is a
proof that he has no immediate thoughts of peace, or
he would not throw so great an obstacle in the way of
an accommodation.

' Some time ago I received a letter from Madliav Rao
Dadaji, the son of Parsharam Bhihv, explaining that
he had been obliged to send his nephew, Piao Sahib, to
join the Peshwa, but that he was still ours at heart.
As nothing better can be expected from the Jahagirdars,
while we can neither secure them by setting up a new
government, nor alarm them by overrunning their
Jahagirs, I thought it best to say that I was sensible that
Pao Sahib's joining was the effect of necessity, and that
I should wait for any demonstration of his attachment
until your Excellency should determine on some plan for
settling the government. I used this language in the
belief that it would have an equally good effect
on the Peshwa and the Jahagirdars to be reminded of
the possibility of our effecting a revolution. The chiefs
of Miraj, Kurandwar, and Sirwal sent verbal answers;
no reply has been received from the other Jahagirdars.

' While General Smith was marching to the south-
ward, I received a Yakil from the Pajah of Kolhapur,



1 98 DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE.

professing his attachment, reminding me of his claims
to Chikori and Manowba, and offering his services in
collecting grain and providing depots if they should be
required. He said any of his forts, including Kolhapur,
was at our service.

' General Smith marches to-morrow in pursuit of the
Peshwa, whom he will probably now be able to press
with more effect than ever. The presence of the Eajali
of Satara in the Peshwa's camp is a proof of his
want of confidence in his forts, and it will be an ad-
ditional encumbrance to his flight in the plain.
* I have, etc.,

* (Signed) M. Elphinstone,

'Eesident at Puna.
' Camp near Sirur,

' 2bth December, 1817.'

' To the Most Noble the Marquis of Hastings, K.G.,
etc., etc., etc.

' My Lord,

' When I had last the honour to address your
Excellency, on the 4th instant, the Peshwa had
ascended the Bore Ghat, twenty miles east of Puna, on
his way to the southward,

' When General Smith set out in pursuit of the Peshwa
to the northward, on the 22nd of December, General
Letter from I^i"itzler was advancing to join this division,
.Mr. Eii.iiinstonc. y^{\]^ j^}j^ intcution of forming the new distri-
bution so often alluded to in my letters. He was requested
to take up a position calculated for intercepting the
Peshwa, should he return towards the south to throw
his stores and heavy baggage into Sirur, and to take
up the pursuit of the Peshwa as soon as he should
come into his neighbourhood. To enable him to do so
with effect, General Smith sent the second battalion



DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE. 199

of the 15th Madras Native Infantry to join him at
Pedganm. General Pritzler was, however, compelled
to return several marches from Pandharpur, to favour
the junction of a convoy from the south, and liad
scarcely set out again from Pandharpur towards Ped-
gaum, when he received information of the Peshwa's
having returned towards the south. On this he
judiciously struck off to the westward, although he was
still encumbered by his supplies, amounting to sixteen
thousand bullock loads, and had not received the in-
tended reinforcement. He fell into the Peshwa's
track on the sixth, and immediately turned south,
ascended the Salpe Ghat, and on the 8th came up
with a body of horse about ten miles from Satara,
whom he charged with his cavalry and dispersed, killing-
thirty, and taking six prisoners and thirt}^ horses. The
Peshwa, who was at no great distance during this
affair, renewed his flight, and was pursued by General
Pritzler past Miraj and across the Krishna, by the ford
of Erroor. He seems at this time to have entertained
thoughts of standing an action, as he sent for the guns
he had left near Satara on his former flight ; but it
ended in his sending them, with most of his infantry,
to Nipani, while he pursued his flight to Gokak, on
the Ghatprabha. He left that neighbourhood on the
13th instant, when, finding himself pressed by General
Pritzler, and probably aware of the force under General
Munro, he turned to the eastward, and re-crossed the
Krishna at Galgalla, from whence he moved in a westerly
direction along the left bank of the river towards Athni
(or Hathni). He had adopted the same plan with
General Pritzler that he formerly adopted with General
Smith, of keeping a light division in his rear to impede
the General's pursuit ; but this body, probably in-
timidated by the cavalry, gave him but little disturb-



200 DESPATCHES OF HON. M. ELPHINSTONE.

ance. Ou the 17tli, however, they appeared in force,
and General Pritzler sent out his cavahy against them ;
Major Doveton, who commanded, charged three suc-
cessive bodies, amounting in all to 10,000, with
three squadrons onlj", and put them all to flight, killing
and taking about forty men. From this time General
Pritzler pursued the Peshwa's track to Galgalla,
without seeing any more of his horse. General Smith
marched from Sirur on the 8th instant with his light
division, and proceeded in a southerly direction by
Pedgaum on the Bhima, and a pass east of the temple
of Mahadeo, towards Atlmi (or Hatlmi). His intention
was to intercept the Peshwa should he return towards
the north, or to support General Pritzler if necessar3\
When within a march of Athni on the 21st instant, he
received intelligence of the arrival of the Peshwa at
that pluce, moving west, on which he marched in the
direction of Miraj, to prevent the Peshwa's escaping
to the west of him, and then moved down, thirty miles
in all, to Ugara, a place on the Krishna where the
Peshwa had been encamped the night before. The
Peshwa now crossed the Krishna and made a feint
of moving on his guns and infantry at Nipani ; but
suddenly turning north, he marched along the right
bank of the Krishna towards Satara, where he arrived
on the 27tli. General Smith, on receiving intimation of
this movement, renewed his march to the northward,
but kept the left bank of the Krishna, to prevent the
Peshwa's escaping to the westward, as has since
proved to be his real design. Near Tasgav, on the
23rd, General Smith was overtaken by the whole of
the Peshwa's light army, which liad been reinforced
since we last saw it, and amounted to not less than
15,000 men at the lowest computation. This
body was commanded by Gokhlc, Appa Desai, Trim-



Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 14 of 41)