«ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: TYRANT! TIPU SULTAN AND THE RECONCEPTION OF BRITISH IMPERIAL IDENTITY, 1780-1800 Michael Soracoe, Doctor of ...»
The British defeat at Pollilur forced the Company into a defensive struggle in the Carnatic, primarily centered on the capture and investiture of various fortified locations by each side. Haider wisely kept his army out of pitched battles, in which the Company See for example Mark Wilks. Historical Sketches of the South of India, in an Attempt to Trace the History of Mysoor, Volume 3 (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1810-1817): 2 M. Woods, Narrative of Hyder Ally and Baillie 10 September 1780 (p. 245-48) IOR/H/211 Francis Gowdie to his brother Dr. Gowdie 31 October 1783 (p. 79-89) IOR/H/223 had a major advantage, and concentrated on using his advantage in cavalry to raid and pillage throughout the region. This was a very successful strategy of asymmetrical warfare, but for the same reason Haider was unable to consolidate his conquest of the Carnatic, leading to an indecisive conflict.11 Two events of interest took place during 1782, the first involving another military victory by Tipu over a detachment of Company soldiers.
Unfortunately for the Company, worse military disasters were soon to follow.
G.J. Bryant. “Asymmetric Warfare: The British Experience in Eighteenth-Century India” in The Journal of Military History 2004 68(2): 456-57 Lieutenant Charles Salmon to unknown, 19 February 1782 (p.251-59) IOR/H/177 London Packet or New Lloyd’s Evening Post (London, England): 22 July 1782, Issue 1889 Captain Innes Munro. Narrative of the Military Operations of the Coromandel Coast (London: Printed for the author by T. Bensley, 1789): 277-78 Perhaps the most dramatic controversy of the war took place in the early months of 1783, involving the British General Mathews and the unlawful conduct of his forces.
According to the report of two Company officers published in the New Annual Register for the year 1784, Mathews began his campaign on 5 January 1783 by capturing the city of Onore and putting every inhabitant to the sword. One of the officers wrote, “The carnage was great; we trampled thick on the dead bodies that were strewed in the way. It was rather shocking to humanity, but such are only secondary considerations, and to a soldier whose bosom glows with heroic glory, they are thought accidents of course.”15 The Register’s account claims that Mathews privately plundered a significant amount of jewels and diamonds from Onore, which the rest of the soldiery protested should have been divided evenly amongst the whole force.16 Mathews then secured an even larger share of Indian treasure for himself at Hydernagur, the next city successfully invested, to an estimated sum of £1.2 million. This bit of nabobery proved so unpopular that a subordinate officer named Colonel Macleod led a group of virtual deserters back to Bombay, where they attempted to relieve Mathews of his command of the expeditionary force.17 Worse accusations against Mathews were yet to come. The Register’s account charged Mathews with a wholesale slaughter of the defending populace in the city of
Annanpur, including many defenseless women, worth quoting at length:
When a practical breach was effected, orders were issued for a storm, and no quarter: they were received with alacrity, and put in execution without delay.
Every man in the place was put to the sword, except one horseman, who made his New Annual Register 1784, p. 96. Quoted in A Vindication of the Conduct of the English Forces, Employed in the Late War, Under the Command of Brigadier General Mathews, against the Nabob Tippoo Sultan (London: Logographic Press, 1787): 18-19 Ibid, p. 96 in the original, p. 19-20 as quoted here Ibid, p. 97 in the original, p. 22-26 quoted here escape after being wounded in three different places. The women, unwilling to be separated from their relations, or exposed to the brutal licentiousness of the soldiery, threw themselves in multitudes, into the moats with which the fort was surrounded. Four hundred beautiful women, pierced with the bayonet, and expiring in one another’s arms, were in this situation treated by the British with every kind of outrage: for this conduct the troops, however, we are told, afterwards received a reprimand.18 This series of circumstances would have been extraordinary enough; however, the campaign of Mathews had drawn the attention of Tipu, who marched to meet Mathews with a much larger army. Mathews found himself besieged inside the city of Bednur, and after a siege lasting seventeen days, agreed to surrender the fort to Tipu on 28 April 1783.
The terms of the surrender were that the British defenders would march out with all the honors of war, laying down their arms in the process, and leaving inside Bednur the various wealth that had been looted during the course of the campaign.19 Accounts differ on what transpired when Mathews and the Company soldiers exited the city; some versions claim that Tipu discovered Mathews attempting to make off with the Bednur treasury by hiding it inside the baggage train, while others argued that Tipu simply surrounded and seized the Company soldiers due to his duplicitous character. All accounts agree that Mathews and his men spent the remainder of the war as prisoners deep inside Mysore, where many of them, including Mathews himself, perished before the end of the conflict.
Haider Ali passed away suddenly and with little warning in his military camp on 6 December 1782 due to a cancerous growth on his back, leaving the rulership of Mysore and command of the war to his son Tipu. Upon taking control of the kingdom, Tipu Sahib changed his title to Tipu Sultan, the new position claiming religious as well as political Ibid, p. 97 in the original, p. 27-29 quoted here Captain Henry Oakes. An Authentic Narrative of the Treatment of the English who were Taken Prisoners… by Tippoo Sahib (London: Printed for G. Kearsley, 1785): 2 authority over his domains. Like his father Haider before him, who had also claimed the title of sultan, Tipu was employing Islamic symbols designed to contribute to the legitimacy of his rule, always a potential issue due to Haider's low birth and rise to power through the overthrow of Mysore's previous rajah.20 From this point forward, Tipu became the main subject of attention for British observers of the Mysore Wars in India and in London.
As the Second Mysore War began to wind down in 1783, the major scene of military action centered around the city of Mangalore, on the western Malabar coast of Tipu's domains. Mangalore had earlier been captured by Company forces, and a small garrison of British soldiers and sepoys were trying to hold the city's fort against a vastly larger Mysorean army.21 Tipu was frustrated by the desertion of his French allies during the siege, as word had arrived from Europe of the peace treaty signed in Paris ending the war generated by the American Revolution. The French commander General Bussy and Tipu were both thoroughly disillusioned with one another by the end of the war for failing to support one another properly.22 As one anonymous member of the Company wrote at the time, "Tippoo, who was angry with the French for having forsaken him, made large demands upon them on account of supplies afforded by him during the War and in consequence of their non-compliance, is said to have threatened to march an Army to Pondicherry."23 This was far from the last time that Tipu would be let down by his French allies, with whom he entertained a complicated and strained relationship.
Kate Brittlebank. Tipu Sultan's Search for Legitimacy: Islam and Kingship in a Hindu Domain (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997): 151 H.H. Dodwell. The Cambridge History of India, Vol. 5 (1963, 1929): 273-92
Mohibbul Hasan, "The French in the Second Anglo-Mysore War" in Confronting Colonialism:
Resistance and Modernization under Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan. Irfan Habib (ed.) (London: Anthem, 2002): 44-45 Anonymous author [1798?] Notes on Tipu Sultan (p. 281-470) IOR/H/609 p. 289 Similar frustrations of anger and resentment were expressed by the outnumbered defenders of Mangalore, in this case towards the East India Company for not sending a relief force to the assistance of the starving garrison. John Wolseley kept a diary of the events unfolding at Mangalore, which he published after the war's end, one which is full of the privations that he and his fellow soldiers suffered through as they slowly starved to death. Wolseley had nothing but scorn for the Company after it failed to provide more supplies by sea, with the soldiers threatening mutiny and dying in large numbers in deplorable conditions, cursing the Company with their last breaths.24 Eventually, reduced to eating "horses, frogs, dogs, crows, cat-fish, black gram, etc. in the utmost distress for every necessity of life," the Mangalore garrison was forced to surrender to Tipu.25 The commanding officer at Mangalore, Major Campbell, negotiated the official terms of the capitulation with Tipu in person.
British sources disagreed on how the surrender of Mangalore took place, with some accusing Tipu of violating the terms of the agreement and others insisting that Tipu treated the surviving garrison with honor and lenity.26 The Company sent a group of peace commissioners to meet with Tipu during this period of truce, hoping that the exit of France from the war would incline Tipu to end hostilities. The result was the signing of the Treaty of Mangalore and an official end to the war in March 1784, in which both sides agreed to return to the status quo ante bellum.27 The Company placed an extremely high priority on securing the release of the prisoners captured during the course of the John Rogerson Wolseley. An Account of the Gallant Defence made at Mangalore in the East Indies;
Against the United Efforts of the French and the Nabob Tippo Sultan… (London: Printed for C. Bathurst, 1786): 130 Ibid, 136-37 See for example Charles Crommelin to Governor-General and Council 4 October 1783 (p.53-68) IOR/H/187 for charges leveled against the Sultan, and an eyewitness account published in the General Evening Post (London, England) 12 February 1784, Issue 7796 for the opposite viewpoint.
Treaty with Tipu Sultan 11 March 1784 (p.1011-14) IOR/H/178 war, the ones lost in battle and taken from captured ships, which was written into the second article of the treaty. Tipu did in fact release thousands of prisoners after the signing of the treaty, including large numbers of sepoys serving in the Company's military.28 However, a dispute soon arose over the status of a small number of "European Musselmen", who were not released from Mysore and continued to remain under the control of Tipu. The subject of these men, who were believed by the Company to be British soldiers forcibly converted to Islam against their will, would remain a major issue of dispute throughout the next decade.29 The Second Mysore War had been an ill-planned disaster for the British Company from start to finish. It enjoyed no military victories of note and failed to acquire any new territory, while running up large debts that were politically unpopular in the metropole.30 The Company was very fortunate simply to achieve a return to the status quo, largely due to the weakness of Haider and Tipu's forces in set piece battles and siege warfare. The humiliating capture of British prisoners, many of whom spent long years languishing in Tipu's dungeons, led to charges of corruption and incompetence from critics in Britain.
The Company needed an opportunity to change its image in southern India, and found it in the form of new political leadership.
The Third Mysore War (1790-92) After the furor surrounding the Second Mysore War came to a close in 1784, there was little mention of Tipu Sultan in Britain during the next few years. Tipu's war against the Marathas in 1787 received only passing interest in the London newspapers, John Baillie to his Father 14 June 1784 (p. 153-79) Account of his capture and captivity. IOR/H/223 p.
178-79 See Chapter 2 See for example: Public Advertiser (London, England) 16 January 1790, Issue 17315 and what few mentions there were tended to concentrate on lingering issues from the previous war, such as the British prisoners remaining in captivity or an editorial supporting or condemning the behavior of General Mathews.31 Although Britons remained more interested in Tipu than in any other Indian prince, and East India hands continued to worry about Tipu's commitment to the peace, public interest had clearly shifted to other subjects for the moment.
Following the conclusion of his war with the Marathas, Tipu spent much of 1788 putting down a rebellion in the coastal Malabar region of his domains, suppressing the high-caste Hindu Nairs of the region.32 This provoked the fears of the neighboring Rajah of Travancore, who worried that Tipu would advance across the border and attack his kingdom next. Travancore was protected along its northern border with Mysore by a system of defenses known as the Travancore Lines, a series of ditches and ramparts running between the coast and the mountains that protected Travancore from the east.
Just beyond these lines were two ancient Dutch forts, Jaikottai and Kranganur, which had been captured from the Portuguese back in the 17th century. The Rajah of Travancore purchased these two forts from the Dutch in 1789, and incorporated them into his defensive system, initiating a diplomatic controversy.