«ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: TYRANT! TIPU SULTAN AND THE RECONCEPTION OF BRITISH IMPERIAL IDENTITY, 1780-1800 Michael Soracoe, Doctor of ...»
Wellesley first heard mention of the Malartic Proclamation in June 1798 and immediately determined to go to war with Tipu. In his letter of 21 November 1798 to the Court of Directors, Wellesley wrote that he issued "final orders" for war to the governments of See C. A. Bayly. Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988): 81 Edward Ingram (ed.) Two Views of British India (1969): 4 Madras and Bombay as far back as 20 June, calling their armies into the field against Tipu.65 From this early date, Wellesley was committed to war against Tipu, long before he received any word of the French naval expedition. It did not factor into his decision to go to war with Tipu at all; the Malartic Proclamation alone was sufficient justification for Wellesley. During the following months, Wellesley engaged in a series of sham correspondences with Tipu, stringing along the Sultan to allow time for the Company's military to prepare an aggressive invasion. Wellesley also misled the Directors in London as well, suggesting that an attack on Mysore was necessary to ward off a potential French invasion of India, and making it appear that his actions were strictly defensive in nature.
Knowing full well that Tipu had no plans for war, and that the French army was hopelessly mired in Egypt, posing no threat to British India, Wellesley carefully manipulated the image of Tipu as a tyrannical ruler and used it to justify his pre-emptive attack on Mysore. The result was the onset of the Fourth Mysore War in February 1799.66 Wellesley had a far easier task in confronting Tipu at the tactical level compared to his predecessors in the previous Mysore Wars. The territorial losses suffered by Mysore in the previous conflict made it much easier for the Company's forces to penetrate into the heart of Tipu's domains, no longer needing to ascend the Ghats and go through the tedious reduction of the hill forts therein. This was a critical setback for Tipu's strategy, as his Indian soldiers fared poorly in pitched battles against the Company and relied instead on using high mobility to raid and pillage in a form of asymmetrical East India Company. Copies and Extracts of Advices to and from India, Relative to the Cause, Progress and Successful Termination of the War with the Late Tippoo Sultaun (London: Printed for the Proprietors of East India Stock, 1977, 1800). Governor General to the Court of Directors, 21 November 1798: 6 See Chapter 5 warfare.67 Without the ability to descend from the high passes and plunder the Carnatic, Tipu was forced into a losing defensive strategy. Tipu's army had also been significantly reduced in size since the past war; after an estimated high of 130,000 soldiers in 1789, the Sultan had downsized to a mere 50,000 troops in 1798, although he began recruiting again when the rumors of war began to swirl. The best estimate suggests that Tipu had slightly over 60,000 soldiers at his disposal for the war, still less than half of what he marshaled in the Third Mysore War.68 Wellesley had also used the months of military buildup to great success in the diplomatic realm, seeking to revive the triple alliance from the Third Mysore War and once again invade Mysore with the assistance of the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad. In the latter case, Wellesley virtually engineered a palace coup, with Company soldiers moving into Hyderabad to forcibly disband the French officers who commanded the Nizam's forces. In place of these units, the Nizam agreed to sign a subsidiary alliance with the Company, creating six battalions of Company sepoys commanded by British offiers.69 Hyderabad would survive as a princely state under the British Raj for the next 150 years, with the Nizam effectively becoming a puppet ruler.
As for the other power in southern India, the Marathas were too divided with their own internal disputes at this point to offer much assistance, with the Peshwa responding evasively to Wellesley's requests for assistance against Tipu. The Governor General charged the Marathas with exhibiting the same sort of behavior as Tipu Sultan, their G. J. Bryant. “Asymmetric Warfare: The British Experience in Eighteenth-Century India” in The Journal of Military History 2004 68(2): 431-469 M H Gopal. Tipu Sultan's Mysore; An Economic Study (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1971): 35-39 H.H Dodwell. The Cambridge History of India, Vol. 5: British India (1963, 1929): 328. For a more modern treatment of the subject, see William Dalrymple. White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India (2003) actions "betrayed a systematic jealousy, suspicion, and even insincerity," indicating the same mindset that he employed against Tipu.70 Less than four years later, Wellesley would instigate a war against the Marathas in 1803 on similarly dubious pretexts of aggression, suggesting that his pattern of behavior with Tipu was not unique.71 Nevertheless, Wellesley had managed to ensure that the other major powers in southern India would either be allied with the Company or out of the conflict entirely.
Outnumbered by the Company's armies and with no French aid forthcoming, Tipu had little choice but to retreat into the heart of Mysore and attempt the best military defense he could muster. His attempts at a scorched earth defense, which had succeeded in driving away Cornwallis' 1791 invasion, were undermined by Wellesley's careful preparations. The Madras government had amassed over 100,000 bullocks and massive stores of grain for supplying the soldiers. The Company armies wasted no time on the campaign, joining with the Nizam's subsidiary forces and marching to Seringapatam, which they reached in early April 1799. Tipu's best hope was to withstand a siege until the middle of May, when the monsoon season would cause the river to rise and postpone military operations for the next six months. This was not to be, as the Company set up its artillery train without opposition and began reducing the walls of the fortress. Within a few weeks, it was obvious to all parties that Seringapatam would not be able to withstand an assault for much longer.72 Lord Mornington to Colonel William Palmer 19 February 1799 (p. 257-63) IOR/H/574 Interestingly, Wellesley's war with the Marathas did come under Parliamentary scrutiny and led to his eventual recall from India in 1805, while his war against Tipu garnered nearly universal praise. See for example the Morning Chronicle (London, England) 6 April 1805, Issue 11196. The reputation of Tipu and the ongoing war against France appear to be responsible for this difference.
Sir Penderel Moon. The British Conquest and Dominion of India (1989): 287-88 General Harris, the commanding officer of the Company's forces, sent Tipu a letter on 20 April proposing to hold a conference to discuss peace terms. The proposed treaty outlined what the Company hoped to gain from the war, if Tipu had agreed to the terms. Written in eleven articles, it required Tipu to accept an "ambassador" from each of the allies, in other words essentially turning Mysore into a client state of the Company, with the British resident controlling policy. Tipu was also asked to remove all Frenchmen from his domains (robbing Mysore of their technical expertise as military officers and designers of fortifications), renounce all connections with the French nation, pay an indemnity of 2 crore rupees, and further cede another half of his territory, not counting the domains already lost in the previous war. As security for the treaty, four of Tipu's principal officers and four of his sons (to be chosen by General Harris) were to be delivered into the Company's hands, and not to be relinquished until the exchange of territories and indemnity payment were received. Tipu was given 24 hours to respond, and the hostages were to arrive in the British camp within a further 24 hours.73 Taken in full, these terms constituted an even more severe redux of the 1792 Treaty of Seringapatam. Mysore would cease to be a significant power in southern India, and Tipu would become a puppet ruler, further humiliated by having to give up four more of his sons as hostages. Although this treaty was never signed, it is interesting to see what the Company valued, and in what order. Tipu's connection to the French had become the paramount issue, as symbolized by its inclusion in the opening treaty articles, while the subject of British prisoners had become little more than an afterthought, mentioned only in a single line in the seventh article of the treaty.74 General Harris to Tippoo Sultan, with Draft of Preliminaries, 22 April 1799 Ibid Tipu offered to send two of his vakils to Harris for negotiation, which was rejected by the general. Harris insisted that Tipu must accept the terms of the treaty as they were stated without any room for compromise.75 There was no further response from the Sultan, and no records to indicate his thoughts in these final days. On 4 May, Harris judged that enough of a breach had been created in the walls to launch a full assault, and charged General Baird, who had been a captive of Tipu for several years during the Second Mysore War, to lead the attack. The subsequent "Storming of Seringapatam" would become one of the iconic images of the Mysore Wars, commemorated later in a series of dramatic paintings of the event.76 In military terms the operation was a striking success; despite fierce fighting at the walls, within a few hours the city was in the hands of the Company, and resistance quickly subjugated.
The whereabouts of Tipu were a great mystery for several hours, leading to further anxiety that he may have escaped during the confusion, before the palace's killedar informed General Baird that Tipu had been wounded by a gateway on the north end of the fort. Upon reaching the scene, Baird found Tipu's body mixed in with a large group of dead and wounded men, the Sultan identifiable only due to his rich clothes. Tipu had received several wounds from a bayonet in his right side; during the hand to hand fighting, a British solider tried to steal the gold buckle from his sword belt, and when Tipu responded by attacking with his saber, the British soldier shot him through the head a little above the right ear.77 The Sultan looked so lifelike that many of the Company's General Harris to Tippoo Sultaun, 28 April 1799 The most famous such example was Robert Ker Porter. The Storming of Seringapatam (1800). Private collection. See Chapter 5.
Alexander Beatson. A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun (London: Printed by W. Bulmer and Co, 1800): 137 officers initially thought that he was still alive, but upon checking his pulse it was confirmed that Tipu had indeed perished, bringing the war to a decisive conclusion.
With Tipu dead and Seringapatam in their possession, the Company had won a complete and overwhelming victory. Losses for the Company were relatively light, the official lists published afterwards detailing 389 casualties sustained in the assault, and roughly 1500 for the campaign as a whole.78 The city of Seringapatam was given over to the soldiers for looting and plundering that night, drawing uncomfortable parallels to the behavior of the Company's soldiers at Annanpur in the Second Mysore War, with order being restored the following day. The Company also captured vast stores of military equipment in the fortress, albeit much of it of inferior quality, and a king's ransom in treasure and jewels. Beatson valued the bullion at 2.5 million star pagodas, or £1.143 million.79 Wellesley turned down his share of the prize money (although his other senior officers did very well for themselves), hoping for an English peerage and an invitation to the Order of the Garter; he would be bitterly disappointed to receive only an Irish lordship for his services.
The official treaty ending the war was not concluded until 13 July 1799, time having been taken to more fully divide up the spoils of war. Known as the Partition Treaty of Mysore, it devoted the overwhelming bulk of its length to the division of territory between the Company, the Nizam, the Marathas (who were granted minor districts despite not taking part in the war) and the remaining rump state of Mysore.
However, the treaty did insist one final time that the blame for the war's outbreak rested
upon the shoulders of the departed Sultan and his connection with the French:
Sir Penderel Moon. The British Conquest and Dominion of India (1989): 289 Alexander Beatson. A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun (1800): 139 Whereas the deceased Tippoo Sultaun, unprovoked by any act of aggression on the part of the allies, entered into an offensive and defensive alliance with the French, and admitted a French force into his army... [the allied armies] proceeded to hostilities, in vindication of their rights, and for the preservation of their respective dominions from the perils of foreign invasion, and from the ravages of a cruel and relentless enemy.80 Wellesley's fiction that it had been a "defensive" war was therefore written into the very treaty itself, intended to be preserved as the final capstone of the conflict for all time.
Regarding the future of the kingdom of Mysore, the greatly reduced state would not be ruled by Tipu's heirs, as it was believed by the Company that they could not be trusted to guarantee the peace. Beatson wrote that such an arrangement would have contained within itself the seeds of its own destruction, for with Tipu's heirs, "no sincere alliance, no concord of sentiments, nor union of views, could ever have been established."81 Instead, the throne of Mysore was restored to the Hindu Wodeyar dynasty unseated by Haider Ali in 1760, the new Rajah a young boy who was all of five years old and obviously intended to serve as a British puppet. The kingdom was controlled in practice by the British Resident, Mark Wilks, who spent much of the next decade using his new position to write a vehemently anti-Tipu history of the wars in southern India.82 Mysore was forcibly included into the Company's subsidiary alliance system, and as Beatson explained in his narrative, "his Lordship [Wellesley] resolved to reserve to the Company, the most extensive and indisputable powers of interposition in the internal affairs of Mysore, as well as an unlimited right of assuming the direct management of the Partition Treaty of Mysore, 13 July 1799 Alexander Beatson. A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun (1800): 217 Mark Wilks. Historical Sketches of the South of India (1810-1817) country."83 Mysore had become a client state of the British Company, with the resident controlling all decisions and the new rajah an adolescent figurehead.