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of Madras, however, evaded a compliance. In the following year, 1770, the Mahrattas having reduced Hyder to great distress, he made a second application, and appealed to the express stipulations of the treaty. The Government of Madras again evaded his requisition. The Mahrattas, continuing their hostility, so totally overpowered him, that his ruin seemed inevitable. They became masters of all his open country, and his strongest fortresses were barely capable of affording him refuge and protection. Thus shut up, and all cultivation at an end in his dominions, it seemed evident, that however excellently his magazines were provided, famine must soon accomplish what hitherto the want of infantry and of a good artillery had prevented the Mahrattas from effecting. In this state of necessity, Hyder again applied to his new allies for the performance of their engagements, stating the advantages to themselves of assisting him against a power, the overwhelming predominance of which already threatened the independence of the peninsula. These applications produced no more effect at Madras than the former. The Company most shamefully eluded the execution of their treaty, whilst at the same time, in their very procrastination and evasion, they acknowledged its obligation.
The fortune of Hyder at length triumphed over all his dangers and enemies; and, without the intervention of any friend or ally, he procured, in the year 1772, a favourable, and even an honourable peace. The subsequent dissensions and troubles of the Mahrattas, and more particularly the egregious folly of the Presidency of Bombay, enabled him not only to recover all that he had lost, but greatly to increase his power and dominion by new conquests. After the direct breach of faith which, in his hour of peril and necessity, he had experienced from the Government of Madras, it was not to be reasonably expected that he could again regard it with any friendship or cordiality. He was too good a statesman, however, to disclose his sentiments wantonly, and therefore still preserved a civil but cool intercourse. In this state of things he naturally fell into the hands of France, by whom he was liberally supplied with artillery, arms, ammunition, and all other military necessaries. That politic nation saw the infinite advantage that might be derived from his friendship, in their future designs on the Carnatic. Their officers were permitted, if not encouraged, to enter into his service, to train his armies, and to form a powerful artillery upon the European model.
In this manner Hyder Ally prepared for the gratification of two concurrent passions, ambition and revenge, which equally possessed his mind. He hated the English Company with all his soul, and his soul was that of a barbarian who owed his elevation to his ferocious energy and determined crimes. The Company, upon their part, as active in raising mischiefs, as they were blind to the consequences, seconded all his efforts, and provoked every power of India into a confederacy against them. Availing himself of these opportunities, Hyder at length concluded a secret treaty with the Mahrattas and the Nizam of the Decan, the purport of which was the expulsion of the English from the Peninsula. Every thing being thus ripe, and the English Company being in a state of stupid security, on a sudden, about the 20th of July, in the year 1780, Hyder forced his way through the gauts, and burst at once, like a mountain-torrent, into the Carnatic. No care whatever had been taken to guard these mountain defiles, nor did he meet with any other obstruction to his passage. than what arose from the narrowness and difficulty of the ground.
Such was the state of things and the nature of the war upon which Lord Macleod and his new-raised regiment, the 73d, had to enter immediately upon their arrival in India. In fact, they had scarcely landed, and the whole of them had not landed, before they were called into active service, and ordered to prepare for immediate battle.
Hyder's army was roundly reckoned at 100,000 men; and by the most accurate accounts they exceeded 80,000, besides a strong body under a General of the name of Meer Saib, who had entered the Company's territories on the north. In
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the grand army under his own command, it was computed that he had about 41,000 well disciplined foot, and 20,000 good cavalry. This force was rendered still more formidable and effective by the aid of Lally's troops, and a great number of French officers who served his artillery, and even directed all his marches and operations. The English army, ready to oppose this invasion, did not consist of 5000 men: these were commanded by Sir Hector Monroe, as Commander-inchief. They were stationed at the Mount, in the immediate neighbourhood of Madras, in order to cover that city. Here they were joined by Lord Macleod and the 73d, who were marched to the camp on the same day that they landed from the ships.
Hyder Ally, after a march across the country, which he marked by fire and sword, suddenly turned upon Arcot; and on the 21st of August, 1780, sat down before that city, as the first operation of the war. Arcot was the capital town of the territory of the nabob of that name, the only prince in India who was friendly and in alliance with the Company. It contained immense stores of provisions, and what was equally wanted, a vast treasure of money. There was another very important reason, which, on the part of the English, required an immediate attention to this movement: Colonel Baillie, with a very considerable body of the troops, was in the northern circars; and Hyder Ally, by besieging Arcot, had interposed himself between this detachment and the main English army. Orders were accordingly immediately sent to Colonel Baillie to hasten to the Mount to join the main army; and Sir Hector Monroe at once to meet Colonel Baillie, and to raise the siege of Arcot, marched on the 25th of August with his army for Conjeveram, a place forty miles distant from Madras, in the Arcot road.
The whole English army, including Lord Macleod's regiment, did not exceed 6000 men and 30 artillery. They were followed during the whole way by the enemy's horse. They were four days on their march to Conjeveram, and when they arrived found the whole country under water, and no provisions of any kind to be procured. So disgracefully was every thing managed by the Madras Government, and the commissaries appointed by them, that the army had but four days' provisions; and in the midst of the most fertile region in India, and in the very onset and commencement of a war, were in danger of being famished in their own country. The army, in fact, had no other resource than (as has since happened to the French in Portugal) to spread itself individually over the fields, and at the risk of being destroyed in detail by the enemy's horse, collect the growing rice, up to their knees in water.
Hyder Ally, as the General foresaw, raised the siege of Arcot, upon his movement towards Conjeveram; but what he had not foreseen, he threw his army in such a manner across the only possible road of Baillie's detachment, as to prevent their junction. This junction had been expected to have taken place the day after the arrival of the army at Conjeveram, i. e. on the 30th; but Baillie, before this last movement of the enemy to cut him off, had been stopped for some days at no great distance, by the sudden rising of a small river in his way. Hyder made use of this time to throw his army between them. Two days afterwards (September 5th) Colonel Baillie effected his passage over the river which crossed his way; but Hyder being informed of it, made a second movement which completely intercepted him. In order in some degree, however, to defeat this movement, but with very little hopes of success, Sir Hector Monroe changed his position likewise, and advanced about two miles to a high ground on the Trepassore road, which was the way that the expected detachment was to come. By these movements the hostile camps were brought within two miles of each other, the enemy lying about that distance to the left of the English.
Colonel Baillie had passed the river in his way on the afternoon of September 5th, and encamped for the night. Hyder, being informed of it, made the movement above related, and other arrangements on the following morning, the 6th; and Sir Hector changed his own position at the same time. This change was scarcely effected, when the evident bustle in the enemy's army explained its purpose. In fact, the purport of Hyder's movement was to cover and support a great attack at that moment making on Colonel Baillie's detachment. He had already sent his brother-in-law, Meer Saib, with 8000 horse, upon that service, and immediately afterwards detached his son, Tippoo Saib, with 6000 infantry, 18,000 cavalry, and 12 pieces of cannon, to join him in an united and decisive attack. They encountered Colonel Baillie at a place called Perimbancum, where he made the most masterly dispositions to withstand this vast superiority of force. After an exceedingly severe and well fought action of several hours' continuance, the enemy was routed, and Baillie gained as complete a victory, as a total want of cavalry, and the smallness of his numbers, could possibly admit. Through these circumstances he lost his baggage. His whole force did not exceed 2000 Sepoys, and from one to two companies of European artillery.
Even this victory, however, by diminishing his number, only added to his distress. The English camp was within a few miles, but Hyder's army lay full in his way, and he was moreover in the greatest want of provisions. Under these circumstances, the Colonel dispatched a messenger to Sir Hector Monroe, with an account of his situation, stating that he had sustained a loss which rendered him incapable of advancing, whilst his total want of all provisions rendered it equally impossible for him to remain where he was.
This application put Sir Hector Monroe in a situation of peculiar difficulty. He found himself in a dilemma, in which the hazard and danger were so balanced on both sides as to leave no preponderance on either. The question was, whether, for the purpose of extricating Colonel Baillie, he should advance into a flat and open country, and, with every advantage against him, give battle to an enemy who out-numbered him at least twelve times over, and had moreover an immense superiority of cavalry, which could all act in the plain; or whether he should endeavour to attain his object at a less appa