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a warm debate, both on the policy of the plan, and the danger of entrusting a Chap. III. detachment of the Company's army to traverse India through the dominions of yj-jg' princes, whose disposition had not been previously ascertained. It was finally A force apdetermined, that the force should consist of six battalions of Sepoys, one com- J^rch across pany of native artillery, and a corps of cavalry; that it should be commanded g^^TM"1 by Colonel Leslie; and anticipate, by its expedition, the obstruction of the Bombay, rains. That commander was instructed to take his route through the province of Berar, of which the rulers were friendly; to obtain, where possible, the consent of the princes or chiefs, through whose territories he might have occasion to pass; but even when refused, to pursue his march; to be careful in preventing injury to the country or inhabitants; to allow his course to be retarded by the pursuit of no extraneous object; and to consider himself under the command of the Bombay Presidency from the commencement of his march. That Presidency were at the same time instructed to use their utmost endeavours to defeat the machinations of the French; to insist upon the execution of the treaty; to take advantage of every change of circumstances for obtaining beneficial concessions to the Company; and, if they observed any violation of the treaty, or any refusal to fulfil its terms, to form a new alliance with Ragoba, and concert with him the best expedient for retrieving his affairs.

In the mean time another change had taken place in the fluctuating administration at Poonah. The party of Siccaram Baboo had prevailed over that of Nana Furnavese without the co-operation of Ragoba; and it was immediately apprehended at Bombay, that they would no longer desire or admit an associate, who would supersede themselves. The arguments urged, upon this change, by Mr. Francis and Mr. Wheler, did not succeed in stopping the march of the troops; because the unsettled state of the government of Poonah, and the machinations of the French, rendered it highly expedient, in the opinion of the Governor General, that the Presidency of Bombay should be furnished with sufficient power, both to guard against dangerous, and to take advantage of favourable, circumstances and events.

The detachment experienced some slight obstruction at the commencement of its march, from some of the petty Mahratta chiefs; upon which, as indicating danger if it proceeded any further, Mr. Francis renewed his importunities for its recall. Mr. Hastings opposed his arguments, on the ground, that after a few days' march the troops would arrive in Bundelcund, which was independent of the Mahrattas; would thence pass into the territories of the Rajah of Berar, in which they would be received with friendship; that, on quitting the territori^a Book V. of the Rajah, more than two thirds of the march would be completed; that the

v v——^consent of the Peshwa had been obtained; and that the Mahratta chiefs, what1778.

ever their inclinations, were too much engaged in watching the designs of oneanother, to be able to oppose the detachment.

Various were the orders by which its movements were affected. The Presidency at Bombay, having taken up hopes that the presiding party at Poonah would favour the views of the English, and dismiss the agents of the French, wrote a first letter to the detachment, requiring them to halt, and wait till subsequent directions; and presently thereafter another letter, desiring them to prosecute the march. In the mean time intelligence had reached Calcutta, that war was declared between the English and the French. Upon this, instructions were dispatched to Colonel Leslie by the Supreme Council, not to advance, till further orders, beyond the limits of Berar. The Governor According to the Governor General, the Company had nothing to dread from commendsa *h* efforts of the French, at either Calcutta or Madras; it was the western withtheGo- coast 011 which- both. from the weakness of Bombay, and the inclinations of the vernment of Mahratta government, those enemies of the English had any prospect-of success; and where it most behoved the servants of the Company to provide against their attempts. He recommended a connexion with some of the leading powers of the country; pointed out the Rajah of Berar as the Prince with whom it was most desirable to combine; and mentioned two services by which the co-operation of that Prince might be ensured. One of these services was to assist him in the recovery of the dominions which had been wrested from him by Nizam Ali. The other was to support him in a pretension to the Mahratta Rajahship. The legitimate, but impotent King of the Mahrattas, had recently died in his captivity at Sattarah, without leaving issue: And the Rajah of Berar, as a branch of the house of Sevagee, might urge a claim to the succession. In pursuance of these objects, an embassy to the court of Berar was voted by the majority, and dispatched. In the mean time another revolution had ensued in the government at Poonah. The party of Siccaram Baboo was again overthrown; and that of Nana Furnavese exalted by the powerful co-operation of Madagee Scindia. The party of Nana still appeared to favour the French. The defeated party, now led by a chief named Moraba, as the age of Siccaram Baboo in a great measure disqualified him for business, were eager to combine with the English in raising Ragoba; and the Presidency of Bombay had no lack of inclination to second their designs. A resolution to this effect was passed on the 21st of July, 1778; but it was not till the beginning of November,

any step was taken for its execution. The activity of the Presidency had been Chap. ITT. repressed by news of the confinement of the leading members of the party at Poonah from whom they expected assistance, and by instructions from the Supreme Council not to pursue any measures which might interfere with the object of the embassy to Moodagee Bonsla, the Regent of Berar. Early, Hostilities however, in November, a plan of operations was concerted; a treaty was con- j^MuS? eluded with Ragoba; a loan to a considerable amount was advanced to him ; ^thePres^ and, upon intelligence that the ruling party at Poonah had penetrated their dency of Bom

• ■ b&v.

designs, and were making preparations to defeat them, it was determined to forward one division of the army immediately, and the rest with all pos

The force which was sent upon this enterprise amounted in all to nearly 4,500 men. A committee, consisting of Colonel Egerton, Mr. Carnac a member of the Select Committee, and Mr. Mostyn formerly agent of the Presidency at Poonah, were appointed a Committee for superintending the expedition, and settling the government at Poonah. The army set out about the beginning of December; on the 23d completed the ascent of the mountains, and arrived at Condola. The enemy now, for the first time, appeared. From the head of the Ghaut, or pass, which they secured by a fortified post, the English, on the 4th of January, began their march toward Poonah, with a stock of provisions for twenty-five days. They were opposed by a body of troops, who retired as they advanced, but cut off their supplies, and seized every opportunity to harass and impede them. They were not joined, as they had encouraged themselves to expect, by any chief of importance, or numbers to any considerable amount. And it was in vain, as they were informed by Ragoba, to hope that his friends and adherents would declare themselves, till the English, by some important operations and success, held out to them a prospect of safety. The army continued to advance till the 9th of January, Advanced to when, at the distance of about sixteen miles from Poonah, and eighteen from ^^e(^ll'cur* the summit of the pass, they found an army assembled to oppose them. The ^{jsjj'j^* Committee, to whom, by a strange policy, the command of a military expe- retreat, dition was consigned, began to despair; and, on learning from the commissary in chief, that only eighteen days' provisions were in store, and from the officer commanding the forces, that he could not protect the baggage, without a body of horse, they made up their minds to a retreat. It commenced on the night of the 11th. But secrecy had not been preserved; and they were attacked by the enemy before day-break; when they lost a part of their baggage, and above 6

Book V. three hundred men. It was not until four o'clock in the afternoon that the enemy desisted from the pursuit, when the English had effected their retreat as Despairing of far as Wargaum. Hope now deserted not only the Committee, but the ComescIpVthe mander of the troops; who declared it impossible to carry back the army to leaders of the Bombay. An embassy was sent to the Mahratta camp, to try upon what

army sign a J J *' J *

treaty under they could have leave to return. The surrender of Ragoba was demanded, as

dictation of . . _ _ , „ . ,

theMahrattas. a preliminary article. That unfortunate chief was so impressed with thedanger of waiting another attack, that he had declared his intention of surrendering himself to Scindia, and had been in correspondence with that chieftain for several days; the Committee were less scrupulous therefore, in bartering his safety for their own. When this compliance was announced, and the English expected a corresponding facility on the part of the Mahrattas, the leaders of that people informed them, that the surrender of Ragoba was a matter of the utmost indifference; that the treaty, which had been concluded with Colonel Upton, had been shamefully violated; the territory of the Mahrattas invaded; and that, unless a new treaty were formed upon the spot, the army must remain where it was, and abide the consequences. The declaration of the Committee, that they possessed not powers to conclude a treaty, was disregarded. The commanding officer declared, that the attempt to force a retreat could lead to nothing but the total destruction of the army. It was, therefore, agreed to submit to such conditions as the Mahrattas might impose; and a treaty was signed, by which all the acquisitions were relinquished, which had been made in those parts by the English, since the treaty with Madhoo Row in 1756; Baroach was given up to Scindia; Ragoba placed in his hands; the detachment from Bengal was ordered to return; and two Englishmen of distinction were left as hostages for the due fulfilment of the terms. Behaviour of No approbation could be more complete than that which was bestowed by the Drrectorahf Court of Directors on the object of this expedition. In a letter from the Com

Sationftod mittee of Secrec3r, dated the 31st of August, 1778, "The necessity," they say, events. "of counteracting the views of the French at Poonah appears to us so very striking, that we not only direct you to frustrate their designs of obtaining a grant of the port of Choul, but also to oppose, by force of arms, if necessary, their forming a settlement at that or any other place which may render them dangerous neighbours to Bombay. As the restoration of Ragoba to the Peshwaship is a measure upon which we are determined; and as the evasions of the Mahratta chiefs respecting the treaty of Poonah justify any departure therefrom on our part, we, therefore, direct, that if, on the receipt of this letter, you

shall be able to obtain assistance from the friends of Ragoba, and with such Chap. III. find yourselves in force sufficient to effect his restoration without

1779.

dangerously weakening your garrison, you forthwith undertake the same." In
proportion to the satisfaction which would have been expressed upon a fortunate
termination of this enterprise, was the displeasure manifested upon its failure.
"The first object which strikes us," say the Directors, "is the slow progress of
the army. This we deem an irreparable injury to the service; and in this
respect the conduct of the Commander in Chief appears extremely defective.
The consequence was obvious; the enemy had full opportunity to collect their
strength; the friends of Ragoba, instead of being encouraged, by the spirited
exertion of our force, to join his standard, must, as we conceive, have been
deterred from declaring in his favour, by the languor of our military proceedings."
They condemn the first resolution to retreat, when "the army was so far
advanced, the troops full of spirits and intrepidity, and eighteen days' provisions
in store." And the utmost measure of their indignation and resentment is
poured on the humiliating submission which was at last preferred to the resolu-
tion of a daring, though hazardous retreat; preferred, on the pretext that the s .•
troops would not again resist the enemy, though they had behaved with the
utmost intrepidity on the former attack; and though Captain Hartley declared
that he could depend upon his men, urged every argument in favour of resolute
measures, and even formed and presented to the commanding officer a dispo-
sition for conducting the retreat. The two military officers, who had shared in
the conduct of the expedition, the Directors dismissed from their service; and
the only remaining member of the Field Committee, who had been selected
from the civil branch of the service, for one had died during the march, they
degraded from his office, as a member of the Council and Select Committee of
Bombay.

The detachment which was proceeding from Bengal had wasted much time Progress of on its march. Having advanced as far as Chatterpore, a principal city ofon'thTmarch Bundelcund, early in June, it halted till the middle of August. During this jj^ season, when the rains, according to Colonel Leslie, interrupted; according to gal ">

• • - western coast.

the Governor General, favoured the march; the commander of the troops engaged himself in negotiations and transactions with the local chiefs; measures severely condemned by his superiors, and very open to the suspicion of selfish and dishonourable motives. The President and Council of Bombay, on the receipt of intelligence of a rupture with France, had earnestly exhorted him by letter to accelerate his motions. They renewed their solicitations on the 21st of Vol. n. 3 o

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