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Bazalut Jung, the transactions with the Nizam, and the lease of Guntoor to the Chap. IV. Nabob, they dismiss from their service Sir Thomas Rumbold, President, John 1779 Hill, and Peter Perring, Esquires, Members of their Council of Fort St. George; deprive of their seat in council Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson; and express their strongest displeasure against the commander of their forces Sir Hector Munro.* * These transactions are minutely detailed in the Second and Third Reports of the Committee of Secrecy, 1781; in the Appendixes to which, the official documents are to be found. CHAP. V.
War with the French—Pondicherry taken—War with Hyder Ali—Presidency unprepared—Colonel Baillie's Detachment cut off—Supreme Council suspend the Governor of Fort St. George, and send Sir Eyre Coote to Madras—Hyder takes Arcot, and over-runs the greater part of the country—Lord Macartney, Governor of Fort St. George—Negapatnam and Trincomalee taken from the Dutch—Treaty between the Nabob of Arcot and Supreme Council—Assignment of the Nabob's Revenues—Tellicherry invested—Great Armaments sent from both England and France— Disaster of Colonel Brathwaite's Detachment in Tanjore—Madras reduced to a State of Famine—Death of Hyder Ali—Tippoo withdraws the Mysorean Army from Carnatic—Operations and Fate of General Matthews, on the Coast of Malabar—Siege of Mangalore—The General at Madras, refusing to obey the civil Authority, is arrested and sent to Europe—French and English suspend Hostilities in consequence of Intelligence of the Peace in Europe—Operations of Colonel Fullarton in Coimbetore—Peace with Tippoo—Behaviour of Supreme Council to Presidency of Madras.
Book V. War with the French, instead of being, as formerly, the most alarming to
v v——■' the English of all sources of danger in India, now held a very inferior station
War with the among the great objects which occupied their attention. In the beginning of ^egeofPon- Juty, 1778, intelligence was received in Bengal, which, though somewhat premature, was acted upon as certain, that war had commenced between England and France. Without waiting for a formal notification of this event, which might be only waiting till the French had made themselves strong, it was resolved by a stroke, decisive in their present defenceless situation, to take possession of the whole of the French settlements in India. With regard to minor places, the attempt was easy; and Chandernagore, with the factories at Masulipatam and Carical, surrendered without resistance: Pondicherry was the object of importance; and it was resolved to lose no time in taking measures for its reduction. Instructions were sent to Madras, and reached it with unusual expedition. Major-General Sir Hector Munro, who commanded the Madras Chap. V. army, took post on an elevated ground, called the Red Hills, distant about a i*~~^CT~J league from Pondicherry, on the 8th of August; and on the 9th summoned the place to surrender. But his preparations were still so backward, that it was the 21st of August before he took possession of the bound hedge, within cannon shot of the town; and ground was not broken till the 6th of September. It was broken in two places, with a view to carry on attacks upon both sides of the town at once.
The British squadron, consisting of one ship of sixty guns, one of twenty- Battle be
eight, one of twenty, a sloop of war, and an East Indiaman, sailed from French and Madras toward the end of July, under the command of Sir Edward Vernon, Enghsh fleets' with a view to block up Pondicherry by sea. This squadron reached the scene of action about the time when Sir Hector Munro encamped on the Red Hills and summoned the fort. The French squadron, under M. Tronjolly, consisting of one ship of sixty-four guns, one of thirty-six, one of thirty-two, and two East Indiamen armed for war, sailed immediately, and prepared for action. The two squadrons met and engaged on the 10th of August. The battle raged with great fury for the space of seventy-four minutes; when the three minor ships of the French squadron quitted the action, and in fifteen minutes after were followed by the rest. The English ships, which, as usually happened in engagements with the French, had suffered chiefly in their rigging, were unable to pursue the French, which had suffered chiefly in their hulls. The French squadron reached Pondicherry the same night: Sailing badly, and opposed by the winds and the current, it was the 20th before the English recovered its station. Early on the morning of the 21st the French squadron was perceived under easy sail standing out of Pondicherry road. During the day the alternate failure and opposition of the winds prevented the squadrons from closing. And towards night the English commander stood in for Pondicherry road, and cast anchor; expecting that the enemy, to whom it was an object of so much importance to keep open the communication of Pondicherry by sea, would proceed in the same direction, and commence the action on the following morning. M. The French Tronjolly availed himself of the night. His squadron was out of sight before fro^tltac^Lt. the morning, and was no more heard of upon the coast.
The garrison of Pondicherry was commanded by M. Bellecombe, a man After a gallant whom this abandonment was not sufficient to dismay. Notwithstanding the S^°0" total destruction which the works of Pondicherry had sustained in the former renders
Book V. war, its fortifications had been restored with great diligence; and it was dev—'-v——' fended by a garrison who availed themselves of all its advantages. The English opened their batteries on the 18th of September, with the fire of twenty-eight cannon and twenty-seven mortars; and carried on their approaches with unremitting vigour; but the vigilance, activity, and enterprise of the garrison, compelled them to caution; and, together with the rains, which fell in torrents, retarded their operations. Towards the middle of October, having pushed a gallery on the south side into the ditch of the fort, having made a breach in one of the bastions, destroyed the faces of the two that were adjacent, and prepared a bridge of boats for passing the ditch; having also destroyed the face of the bastion on the opposite side of the town, and constructed a float for passing the ditch, they resolved to make the assault in three places at once; on the south side, on the north side, and towards the sea, where the enemy had run out a stockade into the water. All the marines, and 200 seamen, were landed from the ships. On the day first appointed for the assault, so much rain unexpectedly fell, as to swell the water in the ditch, blow up the gallery on the southern side, and damage the boats belonging to the bridge. The loss was diligently and speedily repaired. But M. Bellecombe, who had accomplished all that an able governor could perform to retard the fall of the place, resolved not to throw away the lives of the gallant men who had seconded his endeavours, and the day before the intended assault proposed a capitulation. The English, by the generosity of their terms, and the liberality of their whole procedure, showed their high sense of the honour and gallantry of the enemy whom they had subdued. The garrison were allowed to march out with all the honours of war; and, at the request of M. Bellecombe, the regiment of Pondicherry was complimented with its colours. After a delay of some months the fortifications were destroyed. Expedition The French now retained in India nothing but Mahe\ a small fort and settleagamst Mahe. ment Qn coast of MalaI)ar Qathe 27th of November, the question of
its reduction was agitated in the Council; when the pride of driving the French entirely out of India enhanced the apparent advantage of the conquest. The difficulties were not inconsiderable: The march of the troops over land, from one side of India to the other, was long and hazardous: The disposition of the native chiefs, through the territory of whom it would be necessary to pass, was not in all cases ascertained to be friendly: The constitution of Europeans would be apt to fail under the difficulties of the march: There wa* not shipping sufficient to convey the expedition by sea: It was at the same Chap. V. time apprehended that Hyder Ali would view the enterprise with jealousy and ^""^X^""' dissatisfaction; and not regarded as impossible that he would directly oppose it. The importance however, of having no such talents as those of Frenchmen to cope with in India; and of not leaving to them a place to which either troops or stores could be sent, though both Hyder and the Mahrattas had very convenient places with which they would have gladly accommodated them, appeared of sufficient magnitude to induce the Presidency to brave all dangers in undertaking an expedition against Mahe\ Towards the end of December, it was planned, that the European portion of the expedition should be conveyed by sea; that the Sepoys should march over land; that they should rendezvous at Anjengo; and Colonel Brathwaite receive the command. On the 4th of February intelligence was received at Madras, of the disaster sustained by the army of Bombay, on its march to Poona. The danger to which this event might expose the expedition, now on its way to Mahe, underwent deliberation in the Council; but the confession of weakness, which would be implied in the recall of the troops, and the supposed importance of accomplishing the object in view, decided the question in favour of perseverance. Intelligence of the resolution of Hyder to resent the attack produced a hesitation; and the importance was discussed of gaining the friendship of that powerful chief by renouncing the enterprise; but after a short suspension, the design was resumed; and Colonel Brathwaite was instructed to anticipate resistance by velocity of completion. The expedition encountered far less difficulty than there was reason to expect: No opposition was made to the march: The fleet and the troops arrived safely at the place of rendezvous: And Mahe, which was strongly situated, but totally destitute of supplies, surrendered on the 19th of March before a cannon was fired. It was occupied by the English till the 29th of November, when, Colonel Brathwaite's detachment being ordered to Surat to reinforce General Goddard, the fort was blown up.*
Before Colonel Brathwaite was enabled to comply with his orders, and embark for Surat, he received a requisition from the chief and factory at Tellicherry for the assistance of the whole detachment. That settlement had drawn upon itself the resentment of Hyder by protecting a Nair chief who had incurred his displeasure. By the influence of Hyder a number of the surrounding Nairs were incited to attack the settlement; which was closely pressed, at the time of the
* First and Second Reports of the Committee of Secrecy; also the Annual Register for 1779 and 1782.