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the fight; none of the English ships, after the engagement, could set half their Chap. IV. sails, and two were obliged to be taken in tow. The English fleet anchored 1759*""' the next day in the road of Negapatnam, and the French in four days arrived at Pondicherry.
As nothing could exceed the distress of the French on account of supplies ; The French in so their hopes were ardent of relief by the arrival of the ships. The fort of jor S"ppiieS. Covrepawk had surrendered upon summons, to a detachment of the English army, in the beginning of July. In the beginning of August Lally's own regiment mutinied for want of pay, and, by their example, subverted the discipline of the whole army. The confidence of the English had mounted so high, that Major Brereton, who commanded the troops, and who burned for an opportunity of performing some exploit before the arrival of Coote, persuaded the Presidency to sanction an attempt for the reduction of Wandewash. After Repel an waiting till the roads were passable, the whole army marched from Conjeveram Wandewash. on the 26th of September. The principal part of the French forces were concentrated at Wandewash; and the enterprise was unsuccessful. The English made a spirited attack on the night of the 29th, but were resisted with great gallantry, and finally repulsed with a loss of more than 200 men. In this action, a detachment of grenadiers were very expeditiously quitting the vicinity of danger; when their officer, instead of calling after them, an imprudence which would, in all probability, have converted their retreat into a flight, ran till he got before them, and then, turning suddenly round, said, "Halt," as giving the ordinary word of command. The habit of discipline prevailed. The men stopped, formed according to orders, and marched back into the scene of action. But this success of the French, however brilliant, neither clothed the men, nor provided them with provisions. Neither the English nor the French had ever been able to draw from the districts which they held in the country, sufficient funds to defray the expense of the troops employed in conquering and defending them. A considerable portion of those districts, which the French had been able to seize upon the arrival of Lally, the English had again recovered. The Government of Pondicherry, left almost wholly destitute of supplies from Europe, was utterly exhausted, first, by the long and desperate struggle in which they had been engaged; and secondly, (for the truth must not be disguised, though the complaints of Lally have long been treated with ridicule) by the misapplication of the public funds: a calamity, of which the violent passion of individuals for private wealth was a copious and perennial
VOL. II. v
Book IV. fountain. Lally had, from his first arrival, been struggling on the borders of '^j^~J despair, with wants which it was altogether out of his power to supply. The English had received, or were about to receive, the most important accession to their power. And nothing but the fleet, which had now arrived, and the supplies which it might have brought, could enable him much longer to contend with the difficulties which environed him. The French M. d'Ache had brought, for the use of the colony, 16,000/. in dollars, with a the dismay of quantity of diamonds, valued at 17,000/., which had been taken in an English ^to/upon* -^ast Indiaman; and, having landed these effects, together with 180 men, he the coast. declared his resolution of sailing again immediately for the islands. Nothing could exceed the surprise and consternation of the colony upon this unexpected and alarming intelligence. Even those who were the most indifferent to the success of affairs, when the reputation of Lally, and the interest of their country alone were at stake, now began to tremble, when the very existence of the colony, and their interests along with it, were threatened with inevitable destruction. All the principal inhabitants, civil and military, assembled at the Governor's house, and formed themselves into a national council. A vehement protest was signed against the departure of the fleet. But the resolution of the Admiral was inflexible; and he could only be induced to leave 400 Caffres, who served in the fleet, and 500 Europeans, partly marines, and partly sailors. An expedition At the same time the departure of Bussy had been attended, in the dominions drivefthe^1 of tne Subahdar, with a rapid succession of events, ruinous to the interests of SeNorthenf tne Fren00- -^n expedition from Bengal, fitted out by the English against the Circars. Northern Circars, those important districts of which Bussy had obtained the dominion from Salabut Jung, had been attended with the most brilliant success; had not only driven the French entirely out of the country, but had compelled the Subahdar to solicit a connexion with the English. Nizam Ali, whose audacious and aspiring character rendered him extremely dangerous to the feeble resources and feeble mind of his brother, had returned from the flight, to which he had been urged by the spirit and address of Bussy, at the head of a considerable army; and compelled the Subahdar to replace him in that commanding situation, from which he had recently been driven. Bassalut Jung, the second of the three brothers, who anticipated the revolution which the victorious return of Nizam Ali portended, promised himself important advantages from the assistance of the French, in the changes which he expected to ensue; and dispatched a letter to Lally, in which he told him he was coming to throw himself into his arms.* Bussy urged in strong terms the policy of declaring Chap. IV. Bassalut Jung Nabob of Carnatic. This was opposed by the step which had been recently taken by Lally, of making this declaration, with much ceremony and pomp, in favour of the son of Chunda Saheb. It was, however, agreed that a body of troops, under the command of Bussy, should be sent to join Bassalut Jung, who hovered upon the borders of Carnatic. He had left Hyderabad, under pretence of regulating the affairs of his government of Adoni; but he soon directed his march toward the south-east, supporting his army by levying contributions as he proceeded, and approached Nelore in the month of July. M. Bussy arrived at Wandewash the very day after the repulse of the English; and, having placed himself at the head of the detachment, which was destined to accompany him to the camp of Bassalut Jung, proceeded on his march. But the French army, which had long been enduring extraordinary privations, now broke out into the most alarming disorders. More than a year's pay was due to them; they were destitute of clothing, and many times ill supplied with provisions. The opinion was disseminated, that a much larger sum than was pretended had been left by the fleet; and that the General was acquiring immense wealth by dilapidation. On the 16th of October the whole army was in mutiny, and the officers deprived of all authority. Intelligence of these disastrous events overtook Bussy at Arcot, and induced him to suspend his march. The troops were at last restored to obedience by the payment of six months of their arrears, and a complete amnesty. But the delays which had intervened had exhausted the resources which enabled Bassalut Jung to remain on the borders of Carnatic: He was at the same time solicited, by a promised enlargement of his territory, to join with Nizam Ali, who dreaded the re-appearance of M. Bussy in the territories of the Subahdar: His ardour for the French alliance was cooled by the intelligence of the disorders among their troops: He was alarmed by the presence of an English corps of observation, which had been sent to act upon his rear, if he should advance into the province: And on the 19th of October he struck off across the hills into the district of Kurpa; where Bussy, who followed him by a different route, arrived on the 10th of November. Bassalut Jung offered to accompany the French detachment to Arcot, provided he was recognized by the French as sovereign of Carnatic, and furnished with four lacks of rupees for the payment of his troops. The French were not without objections to the first of these conditions, * Mem. pour Lally, p. 135.
Book IV. and altogether incapable of fulfilling the last. The negotiation, therefore, proved fruitless; and Bussy returned; with an addition, however, of 400 good horse, whom he had found the means of attaching to his service.*
Urged by the necessity of making efforts for the supply, and even subsistence, of the army, Lally, shortly after the reconciliation of his troops, thought proper to divide his army into two parts; with the one of which he proposed to collect the rents of the southern; with the other, stationed at Wandewash and Arcot, to protect what belonged to the French in the northern districts. De Leyrit and the Council of Pondicherry represented the danger, which could not be concealed from Lally himself, of dividing the army in the presence of a superior enemy; but they pointed out no means by which it was possible to preserve it together. On the 20th of November, the division which marched to the south took possession of the rich island of Seringham, which the garrison at Trichinopoly was too feeble to defend. The English The English took the field. Colonel Coote, with the last division of his regixmder^Colonel ment, na^ arrived on the 27th of October; and on the 21st of November proCoote. ceeded to Conjeveram, where the troops were cantoned for the rains. The first of his acts was to assemble a Council of the principal officers; that he might obtain from them a knowledge of the facts, and profit by their observations. To divide the attention of the enemy he began with movements which indicated an attack upon Arcot; but his real intention was to gain possession of Wandewash; which was attacked and carried on the 29th. The inaction of the French army, at Chittapet, which, probably deeming itself too weak, made no effort for the protection of Wandewash, induced the English to march immediately to Carangoly, which made a feeble resistance, and surrendered on the 10th of December. Different The loss of Arcot, and with it the command of all the northern districts of
and Bussy."' the province, now presented themselves to the eyes of Lally in the most threatening and alarming point of view. The greater part of the troops were hastily recalled from Seringham; Bussy at the same time arrived from his expedition to the camp of Bassalut Jung; a Mahratta chief and his body of horse were taken into pay; and Lally was eager to strike a blow for the recovery of Wandewash.
Bussy, on the other hand, was of opinion, that as the French were superior
* In the account of Bussy's march, I have followed his own and Orme's account. Lally (Mem. p. 136) complains of his delays, and insinuates that to the misconduct through which these delays took place, the loss of Bassalut Jung's alliance ought to be ascribed.
in cavalry, which would render it dangerous for the English to hazard a battle Chap. IV. except in circumstances of advantage, they should avail themselves of this su- v v——' periority, by acting upon the communications of the English, which would soon compel them either to fight at a disadvantage, or retire for subsistence to Madras: whereas if they besieged Wandewash, the English would have two important advantages; one, that of fighting with only a part of the French army, while another part was engaged in the siege; the other, that of choosing the advantages of the ground, from the obligation of the French to cover the besiegers.
At the same time the motives of Lally were far from groundless. The mental state of the soldiers required some brilliant exploit to raise them to the temper of animated action. He was deprived of all means of keeping the army for any considerable time in the field. By seizing the English magazines, he counted upon retarding for several days their march to the relief of Wandewash; and as the English had breached the fort and taken it in forty-eight hours, he counted, and not unreasonably, upon rendering himself master of the place before the English could arrive.
Amusing the English, by some artful movements, he surprized and took Conjeveram, which he concluded was the place of the English magazines. The fact however was, that the English had no magazines, but were dependant on the purchases of the day, and already straitened for supplies by the extensive excursions of his Mahratta horse. Lally repaired to Wandewash; but several days elapsed before his battery was ready to play; and in the mean time the English approached. Lally throws the blame upon his engineer; whom he ordered to batter in breach with three cannon upon one of the towers of the fort, which was only protected by the fire of a single piece, and which, five weeks before, the English with inferior means had breached in forty-eight hours. But the engineers insisted upon erecting a battery in exact conformity with the rules of the schools; and the soldiers in derision asked if they were going to attack the fortifications of Luxemburg.*
The project of Lally having in this manner failed, now was the time, at any Battle of rate, to have profited by the judicious advice of Bussy, and, abandoning theWandewash siege, to have made war upon the English means of supply. But Lally, who
* Mem. pour Lally, p. 161;—Orme, ii. 577, says that cannon for the battery, which did not open till the 20th, six days after Lally took possession of the Pettah or town adjoining the fort, were brought from Valdore on carriages sent from Pondicherry.