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“ Desperate as the action was, our loss would not have exceeded one-half of its present amount if it had not been for a mistake in the officer who led the picquets which were on the right of the first line.
" When the enemy changed their position, they threw their left to Assye, in which village they had some infantry, and it was surrounded by cannon. As soon as I saw that, I directed the officer commanding the picquets to keep out of shot from that village ; instead of that, he led directly upon it: the 74th, which were on the right of the first line, followed the picquets, and the great loss we sustained was in these two bodies. Another evil which resulted from this mistake, was the necessity of introducing the cavalry into the cannonade and the action long before it was time ; by which that corps lost many men, and its unity and efficiency, that I intended to bring forward in a close pursuit at the heel of the day. But it was necessary to bring forward the cavalry to save the remains of the 74th, and the picquets, which would otherwise have been destroyed. Another evil resulting from it was, that we had then no reserve left, and a parcel of stragglers cut up our wounded ; and straggling infantry, who had pretended to be dead, turned their guns upon our backs.
“ After all, notwithstanding this attack upon Assye by our right and the cavalry, no impression was made upon the corps collected there, till I made a movement upon it with some troops taken from our left, after the enemy's right had been defeated ; and it would have been as well to have left it alone entirely till that movement was made.
“ However, I do not wish to cast any reflection upon the officer who led the picquets. I lament the consequences of his mistake, but I must acknowledge that it was not possible for a man to lead a body into a hotter fire than he did the picquets on that day against Assye.
“After the action, there was no pursuit, because our cavalry was not then in a state to pursue. It was near dark when the action was over, and we passed the night on the field of battle.
“ Colonel Stevenson marched with part of his troops as soon as he heard that I was about to move forward, and he also moved upon Bokerdun. He did not receive my letter till evening. He got entangled in a nullah in the night, and arrived at Bokerdun, about eight miles from me to the westward, at eight in the morning of the 24th.
“ The enemy passed the night of the 23d at about twelve miles from the field of battle, twelve from the Adjuntee Ghaut, and eight from Bokerdun. As soon as they heard that Colonel Stevenson was advancing to the latter place, they set off, and never stopped till they had got down the Ghaut, where they arrived in the course of the night of the 24th. After his difficulties of the night of the 23d, Colonel Stevenson was in no state to follow them, and did not do so until the 26th. The reason for which he was detained till that day was, that I might have the benefit of the assistance of his surgeons to dress my wounded soldiers, many of whom, after all, were not dressed for nearly a week, for want of the necessary number of medical men. I had also a long and difficult negotiation with the Nizam's sirdars, to induce them to admit my wounded into any of the Nizam's forts ; and I could not allow them to depart until I had settled that point. Besides, I knew that the enemy had passed the Ghaut, and that to pursue them a day sooner, or a day later, could make no difference. Since the battle, Stevenson has taken Burhampoor and Asseerghur. I have defended the Nizam's territories. They first threatened them through the Casserbarry Ghaut, and I moved to the southward, to the neighbourhood of Aurungabad; I then saw clearly that they intended to attempt the siege of Asseerghur, and I moved up to the northward, and descended the Adjuntee Ghaut, and stopped Scindiah. Stevenson took Asseerghur on the 21st; I heard the intelligence on the 24th, and that the Rajah of Berar had come to the south with an army. I ascended the Ghaut on the 25th, and have marched a hundred and twenty miles since, in eight days, by which I have saved all our convoys and the Nizam's territories. I have been near the Rajal of Berar two days, in the course of which he has marched five times; and I suspect that he is now off to his own country, finding that he can do nothing in this. If that is the case, I shall soon begin an extensive operation there.
" But these exertions, I fear, cannot last ; and yet, if they are relaxed, such is the total absence of all government and means of defence in this country, that it must fall. It makes me sick to have any thing to do with them; and it is impossible to describe their state. Pray exert yourself for Bistnapah Pundit.
“ Believe me," &c.
Itis doubtful whether the preceding with great talent, and is inserted here vindication had the effect of inducing to complete the correspondence, and Sir Thomas to change his opinions. enable the military reader to underHis reply is unquestionably written stand the discussion in all its bearings.
« To Major-General Wellesley.
“ Dear GenerAL,
Cawderabad, 28th November, 1803. “ I have received your letter of the 1st instant, and have read with great pleasure and interest your clear and satisfactory account of the battle of Assye. You say, you wish to have my opinion on your side ; if it can be of any use to you, you have it on your side, not only in that battle, but in the conduct of the campaign: the merit of this last is exclusively your own. The success of every battle must always be shared, in some degree, by the most skilful general with his troops. I must own, I have always been averse to the practice of carrying on war with too many scattered armies, and also of fighting battles by the combined attacks of separate divisions. When several armies invade a country on different sides, unless each of them is separately a match for the enemy's whole army, there is always a danger of their being defeated one after another ; because, having a shorter distance to march, he may draw his force together, and march upon a particular army, before it can be supported. When a great army is encamped in separate divisions, it must, of course, be attacked in separate columns. But Indian armies are usually crowded together on a spot, and will, I imagine, be easier routed by a single attack than by two or three separate attacks by the same force. I see perfectly the necessity of your advancing by one route, and Colonel Stevenson by another, in order to get clear of the defiles in one day ; I know, also, that you could not have reconnoitred the enemy's position without carrying on your whole army; but I have still some doubts whether the immediate attack was, under all circumstances, the best measure you could have adopted. Your objections to delay are, that the enemy might have gone off and frustrated your design of bringing them to battle, or that you might have lost the advantage of attack, by their attacking you in the morning. The considerations which would have made me hesitate are, that you could hardly expect to defeat the enemy with less than half the loss you actually suffered ; that after breaking their infantry, your cavalry, even when entire, was not sufficiently strong to pursue any distance, without which you could not have done so much execution among them as to counterbalance your own loss; and lastly, that there was a possibility of your being repulsed ; in which case, the great superiority of the enemy's cavalry, with some degree of spirit which they would have derived from success, might have rendered a retreat impracticable. Suppose that you had not advanced to the attack, but remained under arms, after reconnoitring at longshot distance, I am convinced that the enemy would have decamped in the night, and as you could have instantly followed them, they would have been obliged to leave all or most of their guns behind. If they ventured to keep their position, which seems to me incredible, the result would still have been equally favourable : you might have attacked them in the course of the night; their artillery would have been of little use in the dark ; it would have fallen into your hands, and their loss of men would very likely have been greater than yours. If they determined to attack you in the morning, as far as I can judge from the different reports that I have heard of the ground, I think it would have been the most desirable event that could have happened, for you would have had it in your power to attack them, either in the operation of passing the river, or after the whole had passed, but before they were completely formed. They must, however, have known that Stevenson was approaching,
and that he might possibly join you in the morning, and this circumstance alone would, I have no doubt, have induced them to retreat in the night. Your mode of attack, though it might not have been the safest, was undoubtedly the most decided and heroic ; it will have the effect of striking greater terror into the hostile armies than could have been done by any victory gained with the assistance of Colonel Stevenson's division, and of raising the national military character, already high in India, still higher.
“ I hear that negotiations are going on at a great rate ; Scindiah may possibly be sincere, but it is more likely that one view, at least in opening them, is to encourage his army, and to deter his tributaries from insurrection. After fighting so hard, you are entitled to dictate your own terms of peace.
“ You seem to be out of humour with the country in which you are, from its not being defensible. The difficulty of defence must, I imagine, proceed either from want of posts, or from the scarcity of all kind of supplies; the latter is most likely the case, and it can only be remedied by your changing the scene of action. The Nizam ought to be able to defend his own country, and if you could contrive to make him exert himself a little, you would be at liberty to carry the war into the Berar Rajah's country, which, from the long enjoyment of peace, ought to be able to furnish provisions. He would probably make a separate peace, and you might then draw from his country supplies for carrying on the war with Scindiah. Believe me, dear General, yours most truly,
“ Thomas Munno." Though the policy of fighting the The truth is, that the principles of battle of Assye be still a point open to European warfare are but partially discussion, it has never been denied applicable to our contests in the East. that, in the conduct of it, General When we consider how insignificant Wellesley displayed the highest tacti- a number of Europeans bear sway cal skill. In another letter of Sir over the vast population of our Indian Thomas Munro, addressed to his bro. dominions, it must be obvious, that ther, we find the following passage :- the power which holds them in sub“ You are quite an enthusiast with re- jection is moral, not physical. The spect to General Lake. General latter at least is uniformly secondary Wellesley, however, had greater dif- to the former, and the moment that puts ficulties to encounter ; a greater body an end to the moral influence, must of infantry and artillery; a much behold the downfal of our power. Un more formidable cavalry, and all ani. der such circumstances, a general must mated by the presence of their sove- not uniformly be trammelled by the reign ; not dispirited by the desertion strict rules of European tactics. In of their officers, like the northern army. Indian warfare a victory which inspires If there was any thing wrong at no general terror of our arms is worth Assye, it was in giving battle; but comparatively little. It contributes in the conduct of the action every nothing to the permanence or solidity thing was right. General Wellesley
of our power.
But where, as at gave every part of his army its full Assye, a small European force defeats share ; left no part of it unemployed, a native army more than five times but supported, sometimes with cavalry, its number, the effect is not to be cal. sometimes with infantry, every point culated by the mere number of slain, that was pressed, at the very moment the amount of treasure captured, or that it was most necessary.
the extent of territory acquired. No; With regard to Wellesley's general its consequences are felt, not seen. conduct of the campaign, all military The very tenure of our power, our men agree that it was admirable. His moral influence, has been strengthenforces were uniformly placed where ed, and the advantages arising from they could act with the greatest effi- it are far more extensive and durable, ciency; the plans of the enemy were than may result from the slaughter of not only anticipated, but defeated at tens of ihousands, and the capture of every point; and certain it is, that millions under different circumstances. the victory of Assye contributed more The military events which followed than any single event to the con- Assye may be briefly told. Scindiah, solidation of British power in India. willing to temporize, invited General Wellesley to send an officer to the reconnoitring, the whole army of the Marhatta camp to treat. This was enemy was discovered a few miles off, of course refused, but General Wel. drawn up in order of battle. lesley expressed his readiness to re- Scindiah's force, consisting of one ceive any vakeel or envoy from the heavy body of cavalry, formed their confederates whom they might em- right wing, with its flank covered by power to negotiate a peace. The a body of Pindarries and other irrewar went on. Burhampoore surren- gulars. The infantry and guns were dered to Colonel Stevenson on the on the left of the centre, and on the 16th of October, and the strong fort left was the Berar cavalry. The line of Asseergbur capitulated on the 21st. occupied by this united army was On the ilth of November a vakeel about five miles in extent. In their from Scindiah arrived in the British front was an extensive plain, broken camp with proposals for a truce. This by water-courses, and in rear the vilwas readily agreed to by General lage of Argaum, with its extensive Wellesley, who considered a cessation gardens and inclosures. of hostilities with Scindiah to be highly General Wellesley formed his army advantageous, since it enabled him to in two lines; the infantry in the first, direct his whole force against the the cavalry in the second, and the Rajah of Berar. With this view he Mogul and Mysore horse covering the put his army in motion to co-operate left. In forming the line, some con. with Colonel Stevenson, whose corps fusion and delay took place from the he had directed upon Gawilghur, a fort unsteadiness of the native troops unin the Berar territory. On the 28th der the fire of the enemy's artillery. General Wellesley came up with the This, however, was remedied, and the army of the Rajah, and found in con. whole advanced in the highest order. junction with it a considerable force of A large body of Persian soldiers made Scindiah's cavalry, in direct violation a fierce attack on the 74th and 78th of the conditions of the truce. On the regiments, which repulsed them with following day, a junction was effected great slaughter. Scindiah's cavalry with the corps of Stevenson at Par- attacked a Sepoy battalion, and were terly, where from a tower the enemy also driven back in confusion. Their could be discerned apparently in march. whole line then retired in disorder, The weather being intensely hot, and followed by the cavalry, which purthe troops having marched a great sued them till night-fall. The result distance, it was not thought prudent of the action was
the capture of thirtyto pursue them ; but shortly after- eight pieces of cannon, and all their wards, bodies of horse appeared in ammunition. The following extract front, and skirmished with the My- of a letter of General Wellesley relasore cavalry. The infantry picquets tive to this action will be found intewere advanced to support them, and on resting :
“ Major-General the Hon. A. Wellesley to Major Shawe.
“ MY DEAR SIR,
Camp at Akote, 2d December, 1803. “ I have but little to add to my letter of the 30th to the Governor-General respecting the battle of Argaum. The number of the enemy destroyed is very great. Vittel Punt, who commanded the cavalry of the Rajah of Berar, was killed ; and Gopal Bhow, who commanded Scindiah's cavalry that fought, was wounded. If we had had daylight one hour more, not a man would have escaped.
“We should have had that time, if my native infantry had not been panicstruck, and got into confusion when the cannonade commenced. What do you think of nearly three entire battalions, who behaved so admirably in the battle of Assye, being broke and running off
, when the cannonade commenced at Argaum, which was not to be compared to that at Assye? Luckily, I happened to be at no great distance from them, and I was able to rally them and re-establish the battle. If I had not been there, I am convinced we should have lost the day. But as it was, so much time elapsed before I could form them again, that we had not daylight enough for every thing that we should certainly have performed.
VOL. XLI. NO, CCLVIII.
.“ The troops were under arms, and I was on horseback, from six in the morning until twelve at night."
Gawilghur next fell, and the war It was with such testimonies of ad was at an end. Peace followed on miration and regard that General terms highly advantageous. Large Wellesley quitted India. It pleased cessions of territory were made by God that he should return in safety Scindiah and his allies, and the talents to commence a new course of glory, and of General Wellesley were no less confer benefits on his country, in comconspicuous as a negotiator than as parison with which, his services in Ina leader of armies.
dia now seem but as dust in the ba. From this period the military repu- lance. But had it been otherwise ortation of Wellesley was equal to that dained, he had already done enough of the most distinguished of his con- to secure an honourable place in histemporaries. Honours flowed in upon tory for the name of Wellesley. him. As a testimony of his Sove- În conclusion, we think it right to reign's approbation of his services, he state that we have been able to touch ou was elected Knight of the Bath. The very few portions of the correspondence thanks of Parliament were voted to him. connected with India in the work beThe British inhabitants of Calcutta fore us. By far the greater part represented him with a sword L. 1000 in lates to political negotiation, and the value. The officers he commanded details of civil government and milisolicited his acceptance of a golden tary discipline, and therefore contains vase, in testimony of their attachment little which, if taken separately, would and admiration. A monument was be found interesting when transferred erected in Calcutta in commemoration to the pages of a popular periodical. of the battle of Assye. On resign- But we say deliberately, that the coring the command of Mysore, the in- respondence cannot be perused by habitants of Seringapatam transmitted any one competent to appreciate its to him a parting address, imploring merits, without exciting the highest " the God of all castes and of all na- admiration of the extraordinary mental tions to hear their earnest prayer, and activity, and extensive knowledge of wherever greater affairs than the go. the writer. By those especially, whose vernment of an Indian province might duties are more immediately connectcall him, to bestow on him health, ed with India, the three first volumes glory, and happiness." At Madras a of the work will be found a treasury grand entertainment was given in ho- of military and political knowledge, nour of his arrival by the civil and and to their earnest study we most military officers of the Presidency. strongly recommend them.
ELIZABETH OF SIBERIA.
BY THE SKETCHER.
AMID Siberian snows the exile's child