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Treaty of Bassein

Treaty of Bassein

  India's History : Modern India : Treaty of Bassein - 1802

Treaty of Bassein

After being victorious over the Nizam at Kharda, Nana Phadnavis' influence in Poona was enhanced. But soon the Marathas indulged in internal quarrels. Tired of Nana Phadnavis' dictatorship, Peshwa Madhavrao Narayan committed suicide on October 25, 1795. After various plots and counter-plots on December 4, 1796, Baji Rao II, son of Raghoba, became the Peshwa and Nana Phadnavis as his chief minister. Taking advantage of the instable situation among the Marathas, the Nizam recovered the territories which were taken by the Marathas after his defeat at Kharda.

Lord Wellesley

When Lord Wellesley arrived as a Governor-General on April 26, 1798, he engineered the policy of Subsidiary Alliance. He was of the firm conviction that the best way of safeguarding the interest of England was to reduce the whole country into a military dependence on the East India Company. Though there was no conflict between the English and the Marathas, the English began to gain more strength.

The English prospects were brightened after the death of Nana Phadnavis on March 13, 1800. Thus the last chance of keeping the Marathas in order was wiped out. This has been nicely said in the words of Colonel Palmer, the British resident at Poona: "With him departed all the wisdom and moderation of the Maratha government." It was Nana who could forsee the danger of Subsidiary Alliance. Nana's death meant the removal of the barrier that had checked to a great extent the disruptive activities of the Maratha chiefs.

Both Daulat Rao Sindhia and Jaswant Rao Holkar entered into a fierce struggle with each other for supremacy at Poona. The Peshwa favoured Sindhia and finally became a puppet in his hand. On April 12, 1800 Wellesley advised the Poona Residents to manage the secret treaty with Poona for turning out Sindhia. But the Peshwa remained unmoved and the Resident suggested that only immediate destruction will make the Peshwa bow.

Treaty of Bassein signed

Matters among the Marathas were becoming worse by the Peshwa's own intrigues. It worsened more when the Peshwa murdered Vithuji Holkar, brother of Jaswant Rao Holkar in April 1801. This made Holkar rise in rebellion with a huge army and on October 23, he defeated the combined armies of Sindhias and the Peshwas at Poona and captured the city. Jaswant Rao Holkar made Amrit Rao's son Vinayak Rao the Peshwa and on the other hand Baji Rao took refuge in Bassein. And in this helpless situation, Baji Rao had no hesitation to accept the Subsidiary Alliance and signed with the East India Company the Treaty of Bassein on December 31, 1802.

The treaty provided for an English force of 6,000 to be permanently stationed with the Peshwa, and for its maintenance the districts yielding twenty six lakh rupees were to be given to the Company. It also stated that the Peshwa could not enter into any treaty or declare war without consulting the Company and that the Peshwa's claim upon the Nizam and Gaekwar would be subject to the arbitration of the Company. The Peshwa also renounced his claim over Surat.

On May 13, 1803 Baji Rao II was restored to Peshwarship under the protection of the East India Company. This treaty of Bassein was an important landmark in the history of British supremacy in India. This led to expansion of the sway and influence of the East India Company over the Indian subcontinent. However, the treaty was not acceptable to both the Marathas chieftains - the Shindes nd Bhosales. This directly resulted in the Second Anglo-Maratha war in 1803.

The Second Anglo Maratha War

  India's History : Modern India : The Second Anglo-Maratha war: The British defeat the Marathas at Assaye: Treaty of Amritsar : 1803 - 1805

The Second Battle

AIthough the defeat of Tipu left the Marathas as the chief rivals to Britain, the Second Maratha War arose initially from internal conflict within the Maratha Confederacy. The Peshwa, Baji Rao II, was still the offiicial head of the Marathas, but the most powerful were Doulut Rao Sindhia of Gwalior, and Jaswant Rao Holkar of Indore; lesser powers were the Gaekwar of Baroda and Ragogee Bhonsla, Raja of Berar. Marquess Wellesley's attempts to bring these states into his `subsidiary' system were unsuccessful, and civil war among the Marathas resulted in the utter defeat of the Peshwa's forces by Holkar at the battle of Poona (25 October 1802). Baji Rao II fled to British protection, and by the Treaty of Bassein formed an alliance with the British, ceding territory for the maintenance of a subsidiary force, and agreeing to treat with no other power. This considerably extended British influence in western India, but Wellesley was still concerned over possible French interference, given the French influence in the Maratha forces, notably from Perron.

Marquess Wellesley determined to support the Peshwa, and Arthur Wellesley led a force, which re-installed Baji Rao in Poona, without opposition, on 13 May 1803. By early August, negotiations with Sindhia having failed, the governor-general moved against the two principal Maratha forces: a combined army of Sindhia and the Raja of Berar in the Deccan, about 50,000 strong, including 10,500 regular infantry; and further north, Sindhia's main army, about 35,000 strong, commanded by Perron. Marquess Wellesley formed two armies, the northern under General Gerard Lake, and the southern under Arthur Wellesley. Collaborating with the latter was the Hyderabad Contingent, some 9,400 strong, and in addition to Wellesley's own army, more than 11,000 strong were some 5,000-allied Mysore and Maratha light horse.

The British defeats the Marathas

On 6 August 1803 Arthur Wellesley received news of the failure of negotiations, and marched immediately upon the fortification of Ahmednagar. On 8 August he stormed and took the city, laid siege to Ahmednagar fort, and accepted its surrender on 12 August. This success had a profound effect upon the Maratha chieftain Gokhale, one of the Peshwa's supporters whose forces were present with Wellesley; he wrote that `These English are a strange people and their General a wonderful man. They came here in the morning, looked at the pettah-wall, walked over it, killed all the garrison, and returned to breakfast.'

Wellesley encountered the army of Sindhia and Ragojee Bhonsla at Assaye on 23 September. The latter numbered between 40,000 and 50,000 men, including three brigades of regular infantry, the largest under the command of the ex-Hanoverian sergeant, Pohlmann. Despite the numbers, Wellesley determined to attack; as Colonel Stevenson's Hyderabad force was not within range of support, Wellesley had only some 7,000 men, of whom perhaps 500 had to guard his baggage, and of the remainder, he had only three European regiments (l9th Light Dragoons, 74th Foot and 78th Foot). The Mysore and Maratha light horse, some believed to be of dubious loyalty, could not be used in the main action. Despite sustaining heavy casualties in their frontal attack, the small British and Company force won a considerable victory; it was Wellesley's first major success, and one which he always held in the highest estimation, even when compared to his later triumphant career. His losses, however, were severe, numbering nearly 650 Europeans and more than 900 Indian troops; from a strength of about 500 rank and file, the 74th lost ten officers and one volunteer killed and seven wounded, and 124 other ranks killed and 270 wounded, a casualty-rate of about three-quarters of those engaged. Having sustained such casualties, and having fought the battle after a 24-mile march, Wellesley was unable immediately to pursue his defeated enemy, who had left 98 guns on the field, which they had bravely attempted to defend.

Wellesley pressed on in due course, until the Raja of Berar's army, with large numbers of Sindhia's cavalry made a stand at Argaum on 29 November 1803. They numbered probably between 30,000 and 40,000, Wellesley's army about 10-11,000, the European part being only the remains of those who had fought at Assaye, plus the 94th Scotch Brigade from Stevenson's force. The European infantry outpaced the rest as Wellesley ordered a frontal attack; the Marathas broke, abandoning 38 guns and Wellesley's cavalry did severe execution in the pursuit. Wellesley suffered barely 360 casualties in all. On 15 December 1803 a ferocious British assault captured the fortress of Gawilghur; the Raja of Berar sued for peace next day, and on 17 December ceded the province of Cuttack to the Company, and other territory to its allies.

Treaty of Amritsar

After the Treaty of Amritsar with British which simply stated that the International boundry of line between the Sarkar Khalsa and British India is Satluj. Ranjit singh was virtually made master of all the territory to the west of Satluj. But.. there was several small kingdoms, like Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Kashmir, Multan, Sialkote which were ruled by Afghani or local chiefs.

Thus, Ranjit singh first turned towards North towards Kangra valley which was taken over from Raja Sansar Chand by Gurkhas. Ranjit Singh's forces fought with Gurkhas in Kangra Valley in the end the Gurkha leader Amar Singh thapa fled leaving the field to the Sikhs. Ranjit singh entered the fort of Kangra and held a royal Darbar which was attended by the hill chiefs of Chamba, nurpur, Kotla, Shahpur, Guler, Kahlur, Mandi, Suket and Kulu. Desa Singh Majithia was appointed governor of Kangra.

Then Ranjit singh sent a force under the command of Hukma Singh Chimmi to Jammu and himself marched on to Khushab. The fort of Khushab was held by Jaffar Khan, a Baluch chief. He gave up the city and defended the fort stoutly. Ranjit singh invited him to vacate the fort and accept a jagir. In few months, Jaffar Khan accepted Ranjit singh's terms and gave up the fort. He was given a jagir and allowed to remain in Khushab with his family.

Anglo-Gurkha War, Anglo-French struggles

  India's History : Modern India : The Anglo-Gurkha war ; Anglo-French struggles - 1814-1816

In 1768, the Gurkhas - a tribe of the Western Himalayas, conquered the Nepal valley. Slowly they built up a powerful State with considerable military strength and desire to expand. On the northern side they were checked by the Chinese Empire and on the southern side the Gurkhas extended their dominion as far as River Tista on the east and Sutlej on the west. The Gurkhas got in possessions the whole of strong country which skirts the northern frontier of Hindustan.

Gurkha-English Conflicts

In 1801, the East India Company occupied the Gorakpur district with which the Gurkhas in Tarai became conterminous with the uncertain and ill-defined northern frontier of the British dominions. At the times of Lord Minto, the Gurkhas conquered Bhutwal lying north. However the Company again regained Bhutwal. Thus the conflicting interest between the Gurkhas and the English continued sowing the seeds of the war.

In May 1814, the Gurkhas attacked the three police stations in Bhutwal. Then in October, Governor-General Lord Hastings declared a war against the Gurkhas. Lord Hastings himself took the charge of the war and decided to attack the Gurkhas at the four points along the entire line of Sutlej to the Kosi. The British even tried to bribe the Nepalese Government. But to vanquish the Nepalese was not an easy task for Lord Hastings. Again it was very difficult for the British soldiers to go through the mountainous region.

Treaty of Sagauli - 1815

In 1814-1815, the British had to accept defeats. Major-Generals Marley and John Wood, who were to advance towards Nepal capital, retreated after some unsuccessful attempts. General Gillespie lost his life in Kalanga. Major-General Martindell was defeated at Jaitak. However all these defeats were again retrieved when in April 1815, Colonel Nicolls and Gardener captured Almora in Kumaon and on May 15, 1815, General Ochterlony compelled the Gurkha leader Amar Singh Thapa, to surrender the fort of Malaon. And finally on November 28 1815, the Gurkhas signed a treaty of Sagauli. The Nepal Government hesitated to ratify the treaty and the hostilities began again. General Ochterlony advanced towards the Nepal capital and defeated the Nepalese at Makwanpur on February 28, 1816. This compelled the Nepal Government to ratify the treaty. As per the treaty the Nepalese gave up their claims to places in the lowlands along the southern frontier, gave away Garhwal and Kumaon on the west of Nepal to the British and also withdrew from Sikkim. They also agreed to receive a British Resident at Katmandu. The Nepal Government ever since remained true to its alliance with the English.

Third Anglo-Maratha Battle: Pindari

  India's History : Modern India : The Pindari war - 1817-1818


Of uncertain origin, the term `Pindari' described a type of irregular light horse-cum-bandit which flourished in central India in the late l8th and early l9th centuries, originating with the break-up of the Mogul armies. Of no one race, tribe or religion, they included any to whom the prospect of lawlessness appealed, including Marathas, Afghans and Jats; generally organised in loose bands led by chieftains, they sometimes served the Maratha states, receiving no wage but even paying for the prospect of loot and plunder. They congregated in Malwa, with the tacit approval of Sindhia and Holkar, from where they set out, usually in November, to plunder throughout Hindustan, into British territory and even to the Coromandel coast. The most powerful chieftain, Amir Khan, had regularly organised regiments, estimated at 12,000 light horse, 10,000 infantry and an estimated artillery train of between 80 and 200 guns; to which other Pindari bands added a further 15,000 cavalry, 1,500 infantry and 20 guns.

By 1817 the ravages of these bandits had become intolerable, so the Governor General (and Commander in-Chief), the Earl of Moira (later Marquess HASTINGS) determined to crush them; but the renewed hostility of the Maratha powers turned what began as a drive against freebooters into a war against the peshwa, Indore, and the Bhonsla raja of Nagpore. (Jaswant Rao Holkar of Indore had died in 1811, and in the minority of his successor, his favourite mistress became regent; she was murdered by the Indore military commanders in 1817 who committed their forces to the peshwa when hostilities began). To combat this menace, the Governor General formed two armies, taking personal command of the Grand Army which assembled at Cawnpore in four divisions, each of two infantry and a cavalry brigade; and General Sir Thomas Hislop's Army of the Deccan, seven divisions strong. Troops from all three presidencies were involved.

Two of the possible foes provided little opposition; Sindhia was pressured into neutrality, and by signing the Treaty of Gwalior agreed to take action against the Pindaris, whom he had been protecting; and the Pindaris themselves did not pose the predicted threat. Amir Khan accepted conditions imposed by the British and disbanded his forces, in return for a territorial settlement which became the state of Tonk in Rajputana; the remaining Pindari forces were attacked and dispersed, one of their principal leaders, Karim, surrenderirig, and another, Chitu, fled to the jungles where he was killed by a tiger.

Marathas finally crushed

More serious was the reaction of the other Marathas, whose simmering discontent turned into open war in November 1817. As Peshwa Baji Rao II assembled his forces, the commander of the British units at Poona, Colonel C. B. BURR, withdrew from the cantonments with the Resident, and concentrated on a ridge at Kirkee. The residency at Poona was burned, and on 5 November 1817 the Peshwa's army moved to attack the position at Kirkee; their strength was estimated as up to 18,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry and fourteen guns, against which Burr had five Bombay sepoy battalions and an auxiliary battalion, about 2,000 strong, and 800 Europeans (Bombay Europeans and a detachment of 65th Foot). Burr attacked immediately and the Marathas bolted, the Peshwa's entire force being routed for the loss of nineteen dead and 67 wounded, only two of these casualties falling upon BURR's European troops. General Lionel SMITH arrived to reinforce BURR on the l3th, and on 17 November another action was fought at Poona, which completed the defeat of the Peshwa's army.

At Nagpore the Bhonsla mustered his forces, ostensibly for a drive against the Pindaris, but turned against the British when news was received of the Peshwa's revolt. The British force at Nagpore was only about 1,300 strong, comprising three troops of 6th Bengal Cavalry, the 1/20th and 1/24th Madras Native Infantry, and some auxiliaries, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel H. S. SCOTT. Like BURR, Scott withdrew from the cantonments to a defensible position; at Seetabuldee on 26 November 18,000 men of the Nagpore army, including some 3,000 Arabs employed by the Bhonsla, attacked him. After a fight of some eighteen hours the Nagpore army withdrew, Scott's force having sustained 367 casualties, testimony to the determination with which sepoy units could fight, even without European support. On 12 December relief arrived in the form of Brigadier-General J. DOVETON's 2nd Division of the Army of the Deccan, which assaulted Nagpore on 16 December. After several hours' fighting the 21,000-strong Nagpore army was routed, some thousands withdrawing into the city, where they capitulated on 24 December after several days of bombardment.

Despite the defeat at Poona, the Peshwa's army was still in being and, about 28,000 strong on New Years Day 1818 fell upon a British detachment at Coiygaum. Commanded by Captain STAUNTON of the 21st Bombay Native Infantry, this comprised only about 600 of his own battalion, two Madras Artillery 6pdrs and 300 auxiliary horse. Staunton occupied that part of Corygaum village not held by the enemy, and a house-to-house fight raged from noon until 9 p.m. This remarkable defence, in which only Staunton and two other officers remained unscathed, resisted all efforts of the Peshwa's army, which retired and broke up upon news of the approach of General Lionel Smith. Concerning the exertions of the British officers (even two assistant-surgeons, one of whom was killed, had led bayonet-charges throughout the day), Smith described their efforts as `almost unparalleled ... in such a struggle the presence of a single European was of the utmost consequence, and seemed to inspire the native soldiers with the usual confidence of success'; but this action, coming at the end of a 28-mile march, reflected equal credit upon the sepoys as upon their leaders.

After vainly attempting to negotiate to prevent the state becoming hostile, Sir Thomas HISLOP engaged the army of Indore at Mahidpore on 23 December 1817. The Indore forces mustered some 30,000 light horse, 5,000 infantry and 100 guns; Hislop's 5,500-strong 1st and 3rd Divisions of the Army of the Deccan included few Europeans, only the flank companies of the lst Foot and Madras Europeans. Because of the disparity in numbers, Hislop attacked immediately; the Maratha horse fled, but the infantry and gunners (trained in European style) made a gallant stand until they were overthrown. Hislop lost 174 killed, 614 wounded and three missing. Mahidpore virtually ended the war, as peace was concluded with Indore shortly after. Following a chase, Baji Rao II surrendered to Sir John MALCOLM in May 1818, and was sent as a state pensioner to Bithur, near Cawnpore, devoid of power or influence; his heir, Nana Sahib, would become infamous forty years later. An infant was recognised as raja of Nagpore, under British guardianship, and when the Bhonsla died without direct heirs in 1853, his territory was annexed. The war finally ended the power of the Maratha states, although Gwalior was still not completely negated as an opponent.

Attached: Treaty of Bassein
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