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2nd Mysore War - 1780-1782

India History Map - 1780The second Mysore war, undertaken by Marquis Wellesley on his own responsibility, was conceived by Parliament to be so clearly founded in policy and justice, that thanks were unanimously voted to Lord Wellesley, by both Houses, without a dissenting voice.

The principality of Travancore commences near the island of Vipeen, at the mouth of the Chinnamangolum river, whence it extends southward to Cape Comorin, being bounded eastward by the chain of mountains terminating near that promontory, by which it is separated from the province of Tinnevelly. A double line of works, facing from N. to N. E., was connected with the natural defence of this mountain barrier. Part of the territory of the Cochin sovereign lay northward of this line of defence ; but a considerable part, including his capital, was blended with Travancore on the southern side.

The lines, constructed in 1775, consisted of a ditch about 16 feet broad and 20 deep, a strong bamboo hedge, a slight parapet, and good rampart, with bastions on rising grounds, almost flanking each other. They were, however, more imposing than effectual, as, throughout the dangerous extent of thirty miles, (the distance from the island of Vipeen to the Anamalaiah range,) few points were closed in the rear, and those imperfectly, so that nearly the whole would fall on carrying a single point. part of these lines were erected upon a stripe of land which, with other portions of territory, had been ceded to the Travancore Rajah by his neighbor, in recompense of the powerful aid afforded to him by the former in repelling an invasion of the Zamorin of Calicut in 1760-1.

Tippoo directed his tributary to demand back those districts of Cochin which had been ceded to the Rajah of Travancore, promising the aid of the Mysore troops to enforce his claim. He contended at the same time, in his communications with the Madras Government, that the line actually intersected the country of his tributary, and was consequently built on his own territory; that the Rajah of Travancore had no right to build a wall on his (the Sultan's) territory, nor to exclude him from visiting every part of his dominions on either side of the wall.

To obviate this pretence, the Travancore Rajah renewed a long-pending negotiation with the Dutch for the purchase of Cranganore. The validity of this purchase was contested by Tippoo; and the Madras Government were guilty of the imbecility of countenancing the thin pretext, and despatched a peremptory command to the Rajah to annul the contract, and restore these places to the Dutch.

In May 1789, Tippoo, having again descended to the coast, began with summoning the fort of Cranganore. Before he could gain the gate which it was his object to open, and at which he expected to admit the rest of his army, his troops were thrown into confusion by some slight resistance, and, a panic ensuing, they fled in disorder across the ditch, which was filled with the trampled and the slain. Tippoo himself was present at the attack, and not without personal danger made his escape. His palankeen remained in the ditch, the bearers having been trodden to death ; his seals, rings, and personal ornaments fell as trophies into the hands of the enemy; and a lameness, to which he was occasionally subject ever after, was occasioned by the severe contusions which he received.

No sooner did intelligence of these events reach Calcutta, than the Governor General announced to the Madras rulers, his intention to employ all the resources within his reach, " to exact a full reparation from Tippoo for this wanton and unprovoked violation of treaty." Tippoo renewed his operations, and having rendered himself master of the lines, soon obtained possession of Cranganore. The troops of the Rajah fled in all directions. All the northern quarter of Travancore was now seized by the conqueror, who razed the lines, and spread desolation over the country.

The first operations of the British against Mysore, were baffled by the activity of the Sultan, who, taking advantage of the separation of the invading army into three divisions, attacked them in detail, broke through their chain of communications, and compelled them ultimately to abandon the- plan of the campaign. For this success, he was greatly indebted to his admirable system of intelligence, which never failed him, while the English were repeatedly at fault. The war was transferred from Mysore to the Carnatic; but, in the mean time, the whole of Malabar was wrested from Tippoo by another British division, and that province was placed in possession of the Company.

The relief of hunger was soon the most urgent want in the English army, in which scarcely an individual had, during the preceding fortnight, partaken of a wholesome meal; and "the inimitable mercantile police of a Mahratta chief in his own camp, was never more skilfully exhibited than on this occasion, in holding up exorbitant prices, until the resources of individuals were exhausted, and gradually adapting the supply to the simple capacity of payment. above all, the tables of the money-changers, overspread with the coins of every country of the East, in the open air public street of the camp, gave evidence of an extent of mercantile activity, utterly inconceivable in any camp, excepting that of systematic plunderers by wholesale and retail. Every variety of trade appeared to be exercised with a large competition and considerable diligence; and among them one apparently the least adapted to a wandering life the trade of tanner, was practised with eminent success.

Lord Cornwallis, having determined not to prosecute the war to the annihilation of Tippoo's power, endeavored to reconcile him as far as possible to his humbled condition. Cornwallis did every thing he could do, short of a sacrifice of faith and of essential interests, to conciliate the Sultan. His reception and treatment of the hostage princes was more than kind; it was parental. The whole course of his conduct on this memorable occasion, exhibited a union of good feeling, manly simplicity, and firmness, which added as much as his victories in the field to the fame of his country.




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