1759 - British operations on the coast of Coromandel

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1759 - British operations on the coast of Coromandel

The campaign took place from March to December 1759


Preparations for the Campaign

In September 1758, the French squadron of the chef d'escadre Anne Antoine Comte d'Aché had left India and retired to Île de France (present-day Mauritius) where it had been reinforced by 3 ships of the line and several French East India Company's ships. But provisions were so scarce that d'Aché had to send one of the men-of-war and 8 of the Indiamen to South Africa under the command of Captain de Ruis to purchase supplies.

In January 1759, Ruis’s ships sent to South Africa reached Cape Town.

Reinforcements were sent from Great Britain to the East Indies under Rear-Admiral Samuel Cornish. These reinforcements consisted of 3 ships of the line, one 50-gun ship, 3 East Indiamen and some troops (including the 84th Foot).

Contextual map of the campaign - Copyright: Kronoskaf

After the failure of the Comte de Lally-Tollendal in front of Madras (present-day Chennai) in February 1759 (see French operations on the coast of Coromandel during the campaign of 1758), several Indian rulers of the Carnatic sided with the British. The British authorities in Madras then resolved to recover and protect the territory adjacent to the town.

With the reinforcements received at the end of the siege of Madras and 2 companies lately returned from Bengal, the British could assemble a force of 1,100 British, 1,500 Sepoys and 3,000 Indian irregulars under Lawrence.

Meanwhile Lally had moved his army 50 km eastward from Arcot to Conjeeveram (present-day Kanchipuram), whence he returned himself to Pondicherry (present-day Puducherry), leaving the Chevalier de Soupire in command with orders not to risk a general action.

On March 4, Ruis’s ships arrived at Port Louis on Île de France with supply.

By March 6, with the arrival of 200 additional men from the 79th Foot, the British force was ready to march. This force advanced on Conjeeveram. However, accounts arrived from Colonel Forde, who had undertaken the siege to Masulipatam (present-day Machilipatnam), of his distress for money and reinforcements, and Lawrence's army was halted.

For fully three weeks the British and French armies remained in sight of each other, de Soupire waiting to be attacked, and the British rightly declining to engage him except on the open plain. The capture of Conjeeveram was important to the British, since the fort would cover such districts as they had already regained, and so liberate their army for service farther afield.

During this period, Lawrence fell sick and was obliged to return to the coast. His successor, Colonel Draper, also loosing his health, the command of the King's troops fell upon Major Cholmondeley Brereton of 79th Draper's Foot and that of the Madras European Regiment on Major Caillaud. Lawrence and Draper later embarked for Great Britain.

On April 7, Vice-Admiral Pocock, who had refitted his squadron at Bombay (present-day Mumbai), sailed for the Coast of Coromandel, endeavouring to get thither in advance of the French fleet, which was expected back from Île de France. He succeeded in this object and then cruised to intercept the enemy.

In April and May, the French ships sent to South Africa for provisions progressively returned to Île de France.

Detailed map of the campaign - Copyright: Kronoskaf

British Offensive

On April 1, Brereton determined to dislodge de Soupire, if possible, by threatening his communications south of the Paliar River; so marching upon Wandewash (present-day Vandavasi), the most important French station between Madras and Pondicherry, he broke ground before it as if for a formal siege. De Soupire made no attempt to follow him, but finding himself pressed for money and supplies left a small garrison (700 sepoys) in Conjeeveram and marched to Trivatore (present-day Tiruvottiyur).

Lally, hearing of the British attack on Wandewash, left Pondicherry with 300 Europeans and ordered the army to meet him at Chengalaput (present-day Chengalpattu).

Soupire’s Corps came within 15 km of Brereton’s Army who advanced midway to meet them. The British remained two days under arms but Brereton did not attack, judging the enemy positions too strong.

On April 14, Brereton reached Trivatore and, finding it abandoned, destroyed the works.

In the night of April 14 to 15, Brereton made a forced march towards Conjeeveram.

In the morning of April 15, Brereton arrived in front of Conjeeveram, occupying the town which was defended by 500 men under the command of Mustapha Beg. The garrison retired to the pagoda. In the evening, Brereton invested the pagoda. During this action, Colonel Morison was wounded. Before the gateway of the pagoda, the French had thrown a strong ravelin en barbette on which were mounted guns. They had erected similar defensive works on each angle of the pagoda.

During the night of April 15 to 16, the British threw a parapet in front of the ravelin.

In the morning of April 16, the British mounted guns on the parapet erected the previous night. By 8:00 a.m., the ravelin protecting the gate was sufficiently destroyed and Caillaud led the grenadiers of the Madras European Regiment to the assault. They rushed in and drove the defenders inside the pagoda. The British officers, having got into the ravelin, were forming up their men for an attack on the gateway when an old gun, loaded to the muzzle with musket balls was fired among them, killing 8 men and wounding 10. Of the killed, were Captains Stewart and Bannatyn, and Lieutenants Hunter and Elliot; of the wounded, Major Caillaud, Lieutenant Vaughan, dangerously, a lieutenant and 2 ensigns. During this time, however, Lieutenant Airey with a small party of Europeans and the Sepoys under Mohamed Yusuf had entered the pagoda on the other side; the place was instantly carried and the garrison, who had made an obstinate resistance, received quarter. Mustapha Beg had been killed with the greatest part of his followers.

Before de Soupire was aware of Brereton's departure from Wandewash, the latter had taken Conjeeveram. Lally, who at the news of the siege of Wandewash had advanced northward from Pondicherry, halted on hearing of the capture of Conjeeveram.

Soon afterwards, 50 French hussars deserted to the British who finally decided to raise a body of some 250 hussars.

In April, an exchange of prisoners took place and 100 men of the Madras European Regiment, who had been taken when Fort St. David surrendered (June 2, 1758), rejoined their regiment.

The British remained one month at Conjeeveram while Lally was posted at Cauverypauk (present-day Kaveripakkam). Yusuf Khan returned to Trichinopoly (present-day Tiruchirapalli) with his corps and the nawab’s brother also left the British army.

On June 20, Lally, who had joined his army at Arcot, finally advanced on Conjeeveram with 1,800 Europeans.

Brereton marched against him. During the 13 km long march, 79th Draper's Foot lost 6 men dead and 90 ill. Brereton immediately ordered a retreat to Conjeveeram.

Lally took up a position 11 km to westward of the Fortress of Conjeeveram. There Major William Monson, who had taken the command from Brereton, thrice offered him battle; but Lally declined. After a few skirmishes, Lally retired to Trivatore the following night.

After a few weeks, Lally withdrew from the field, distributing his troops into cantonments at Arcot, Cauverypauk, Carangooly (present-day Karungalikuppam), and Chittapett (present-day Chetpet). Lally went himself to Pondicherry.

In truth, Lally’s Army was rapidly going from bad to worse. A recent exchange of prisoners had restored to him 500 French soldiers, who had lived in custody of the British for 5 years. Discontent soon spread in his army which was irregularly paid. The whole Lorraine Infanterie battalion mutinied and marched out with four guns, announcing that they intended to support themselves and to put the neighbouring country to contribution. Finally, the officers managed to get the necessary money from Pondicherry to pay their men. The regiment then returned to its quarters.

Meanwhile, the British continue to gather strength on every side.

At the end of June, 200 recruits arrived from Great Britain for the Madras European Regiment, bringing news that Colonel Eyre Coote was likewise on his way to Madras with his own battalion (84th Coote's Foot), 1,000 strong, which had been lately raised in Great Britain. Furthermore, 200 European prisoners were received from Pondicherry in exchange for the same number released from Trichinopoly.

On June 30, Pocock was joined by the Grafton (70), and Sunderland (60), with 5 East Indiamen full of stores, of which he was greatly in need.

On July 17, d'Aché finally sailed from Île de France for Bourbon (present-day Réunion).

On July 22 and 23, d’Aché’s fleet sailed from Île Bourbon for Madagascar to pick up further stores and thence for India.

During this period, the British received intelligence that a Dutch armament was fitting out at Batavia (present-day Jakarta) for operations in Bengal to reinforce the Dutch garrisons. Vice-admiral Pocock, who was cruising off Pondicherry in daily expectation of a French squadron, had already picked up transports with 5 companies of the 84th Coote's Foot, and had received permission to keep these troops to man his ships pending the engagement, for which he waited, with Admiral d'Aché. A sight of the Dutch fleet at Negapatam (present-day Nagapattinam), however, convinced Pocock that the troops would be needed ashore and he accordingly sent them to Madras, recommending to send part of them to Bengal.

On July 25, 500 men of the 84th Coote's Foot arrived at Madras and were immediately sent off to join the army in the cantonments at Conjeeveram where Major Brereton of the 79th Draper's Foot was once again in command.

On August 1, Brereton seized the opportunity afforded by his own strength and by French disaffection to send Major Monson against Cauverypauk.

On August 3, Cauverypauk surrendered to Monson almost without resistance. The British were slowly but surely advancing southwards. Meanwhile, Major Caniland with 200 Europeans, guns and some local troops had dislodged the French from Tirupoty (present-day Tirupati).

At the beginning of August, Lally Infanterie, which was in garrison at Chittapett, broke into open mutiny and marched out of the fort with the avowed intention of joining the British. Their officers followed them, and by promises to discharge the arrears of their pay, now several months overdue, succeeded in conciliating most of them; but 60 men persisted in their resolution and deliberately carried it out. The authorities at Madras seized the moment to order an advance on Wandewash but before the troops could march there came fresh important intelligence that d'Aché had arrived.

Arrival of the French Fleet

On August 3, Pocock sailed for Pondicherry and, during the rest of the month, cruised off that port. However, he could learn nothing of the French squadron and was at length obliged by lack of provisions and water to proceed to Trincomalee on the north-eastern coast of Ceylon.

On August 30, d'Aché reached Batticaloa in Ceylon where he received intelligence on the movements of the British squadron.

At the beginning of September, with the arrival of 300 men of Coote’s 84th Foot at his camp, Major Brereton, knowing that Eyre Coote must shortly arrive to take the command from him, managed to convince the governor and council of Madras to undertake an action against Wandewash. The French army had taken position at Gingee, Wandewash (about 450 French), Arcot and Chittapett. The British army was assembled at Conjeeveram.

On September 1, Pocock sailed from Trincomalee, having a few days earlier sent the East India Company's frigate Revenge, to cruise off Ceylon and to keep a look-out for the French.

On September 2, d'Aché sighted the British squadron off Point Pedro (aka Point Palmyra) in Ceylon. D'Aché's force consisted of 11 ships of the line and 2 frigates. Vice-Admiral Pocock had 9 ships of the line and 1 frigate. The same day at about 10 a.m., the Revenge signalled to that she saw 15 sail in the south-east, standing to the north-east. These were the French ships. The Revenge was chased by a French frigate. Pocock signalled for a general chase and stood towards the French under all possible sail. The French frigate abandoned chase and rejoined her squadron. The wind failing, the British were unable to get up. In spite of his superiority, d'Aché apparently avoided an action. The British squadron finally lost sight of the French ships.

In the night of September 2 to 3, the Revenge managed to follow the French squadron and to signal its general direction to Pocock’s squadron.

On September 3, the French squadron could be seen bearing north-east by north about 30 km distant, off Point Pedro in Ceylon. Pocock made the signal for general chase. At 9:00 a.m., the French squadron formed in line of battle ahead on the starboard tack. Pocock made the signal for the line of battle abreast and stood for the centre of the French squadron which kept under way. By noon the French squadron bore south-east by east distant some 10 km. About 5:15 p.m., the British squadron was nearly abreast of the French squadron which wore and came to the wind on the other tack. The British ships also tacked, they were now some 6 km distant. About 10:00 p.m., Pocock’s squadron lost sight of the French.

On September 4 about 8:00 a.m., the Revenge made the signal for seeing four sail to the north-east. Pocock ordered a general chase but by 2:00 p.m., he abandoned the pursuit, the French squadron being more rapid than his own. Pocock then made full sail towards Pondicherry where he expected to find his foe.

In the early morning of September 8, Pocock arrived off Pondicherry but saw no ships in the roadstead. At 1:00 p.m., nevertheless, he sighted the French fleet to the southeast. He was then standing to the northward with a sea breeze. Pocock kept a good look out the following night to prevent the French ships from passing him.

On September 9 at 6:30 a.m., Pocock saw the French squadron to the south-west. At 2:00 p.m., the wind springing up, Pocock once more signalled for a general chase. Around 4:00 p.m., the French appeared to have formed a line of battle abreast and in that formation bore down. But no action resulted.

In the night of September 9 to 10, the Revenge observed the motions of the French squadron.

On September 10

  • French
    • At 6:00 a.m., the French squadron bore S.E. by S., distant 14 km, sailing in line of battle ahead on the starboard tack. Pocock, in line of battle abreast, bore down on them with the wind about N.W. by W. Pocock wanted to prevent the landing of French supplies. The two fleets fought the Battle of Pondicherry. The action though severe ended indecisively but the French fleet succeeded in reaching Pondicherry.
  • British
    • At Conjeeveram, Brereton’s dispositions for his expedition against Wandewash were now completed but rains delayed the departure.

In the morning of September 11, the French squadron could be seen to the S.S.E. lying to the larboard-tack about 22 km distant, the wing being about west. The French squadron immediately wore and brought to on the other tack, gradually increasing the distance till the evening. At this time the wind coming to the eastwards, Pocock’s squadron wore and stood under an easy sail to the north-west: the Sunderland (60) having the Newcastle (50) in tow; the Weymouth (60), the Tiger (60); and the Elizabeth (64), the Cumberland (66).

The French squadron then sailed directly for Pondicherry and landed 400 European seamen and 200 Cafres, about 2.5 lack of rupees and the diamonds (valued at 2 lack of rupees) captured in the Grantham Indiamen near the Cape. The British were uncertain what French reinforcements might have been landed for the defence of Wandewash. Meanwhile, French diplomacy was also very active at Hyderabad.

On September 15, Pocock’s squadron stood into the road of Negapatam where it anchored until September 26 to repair damages and refit.

By September 16 at Conjeeveram, rain had ceased but news of the naval Battle of Pondicherry had reached Madras and the council asked Brereton to remain at Conjeeveram until it was certain whether the French had received any reinforcements.

On September 24, after some delay owing to heavy rain and despite the council’s request, Brereton marched from Conjeeveram, with 1,500 British (parts of 79th Draper's Foot, 84th Coote's Foot and Madras European Regiment), 80 Cafres, 2,500 Sepoys, 100 dragoons from the Madras European Regiment, 700 Indian cavalry and 14 pieces of artillery.

On September 26, Pocock’s squadron, having hastily completed their refitting, set off from Negapatam and stood to northwards on his way to Madras. The Revenge, which had been sent with dispatches to Madras, rejoined the squadron. She brought 63 men belonging to the Bridgewater (24) and Triton (24) which had been captured at Fort St. David and had later been exchanged at Pondicherry. They were ordered on board the Tiger (60) and Newcastle (50). The frigate also carried a letter inviting Pocock to wait for the arrival of reinforcements expected from Great Britain before risking another engagement.

On September 27, the British dragoons came up with a party of French hussars, whom they defeated, taking one officer and 8 men prisoners. This skirmish took place about 5 km from Trivatore which surrendered on the main body of the British force coming up. Brereton took 1 captain and 22 men of Lorraine Infanterie prisoners. Brereton then advanced rapidly towards Wandewash and vainly tried to draw the French to action outside their defensive positions. The French had received intelligence of Brereton’s design and had already reinforced the place.

On September 27 at daybreak, unwilling to pass Pondicherry by night or to do anything to prevent M. d'Aché from fighting another action, Pocock appeared off the town where the French squadron was lying at anchor in a line of battle. There Pocock’s squadron lay with the wind about W.S.W., with his maintopsails to the mast and with but just sufficient steerage way on his ships for the proper maintenance of the line. At 7:00 a.m., d’Aché made the signal to weigh. By 10:00 a..m., the French squadron (11 sail of the line and 2 frigates) was under sail. The wind being off shore, the British ships were driven to leeward of the French. D’Aché signaled his squadron to keep close to the wind and to make sail southwards in a line of battle ahead, gradually increasing the distance till sunset when they were 22 km distant. Pocock held a council where it was decided to return to Madras instead of pursuing the French squadron.

During the night of September 27 to 28, misled by false information as to the strength of the French garrison (in fact it consisted of about 1,000 men and 20 guns) and eager to distinguish himself before Colonel Coote's arrival, Brereton launched an attack on Wandewash with only 1,000 British. Majors Monson and Caillaud with 500 men attacked one end while Major Gordon with 200 men tried to storm the positions between the town and the fort. Monson met little resistance and entered without loss. Soon afterwards, Major Gordon attacked but received so warm a fire that his party broke and only 20 men got in with him. However, Gordon joined Monson and they advanced to the head of the village. They were received with heavy fire and forced to retire towards the centre of the village. At daybreak, the French launched a counter-attack and drove the British out of the village, capturing four guns. In this action, the British lost 12 officers and 195 soldiers killed, wounded or prisoners. Among these losses were 2 officers and 30 soldiers of the Madras European Regiment killed. The French lost General Mainville and 2 officers killed and more than 200 men killed or wounded and about 30 men taken prisoners.

On September 28, Pocock’s whole squadron anchored in Madras road to victual the ships and attend the sick and wounded.

French Diplomatic Endeavours

On September 30, d'Aché quitted Pondicherry and sailed to Île de France, in spite of the anxious remonstrances of the shore authorities, and especially of M. de Lally. His principal motive for thus acting seems to have been his knowledge that Pocock was about to be reinforced by 4 ships of the line from Great Britain. Pocock was now master of the sea.

D'Aché's desertion was a hard blow to Lally, for the indiscipline of his troops was ever increasing. In despair of help from other quarters he reverted to that from which he had at first so hastily withdrawn, the court of Hyderabad; though affairs there had altered greatly since the departure of the Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau. Salabad Jung had been won to the British cause by the storming of Masulipatam; his brother Nizam Ali had always been Bussy's worst enemy; but there was still a third brother, Basalut Jung, who hated his brethren and had shown a friendly disposition towards Pondicherry.

On October 1 in the morning, Brereton was forced to abandon the siege of Wandewash and to retire towards Conjeeveram. Lally was in no position to take advantage of his success at Wandewash.

On October 5, Brereton's force reached Conjeeveram where it took up its winter-quarters. Brereton had lost some 310 men killed and wounded in this affair.

Kistnarauze, an ally of Muhammad Ali Khan, the Nawab of Arcot, held a strong place called Tagada (maybe Tittakudi) between Trichinopoly (present-day Tiruchirappalli) and Ellavanasore (present-day Elavanasur). He had been very active to assist the British garrison of Trichinopoly against the French, driving back several of their parties. The little fort of Tagada was almost impregnable but its garrison needed ammunition to hold against the French.

On October ?, Captain Smith, informed that a considerable French party (100 European infantry, 40 hussars, 500 native horse and 1,400 Cipayes with five guns) was marching against Tagada, sent Sergeant-Major Hunterman at the head of 3 Sepoy coys to reinforce the place.

Afterwards, Captain Smith also detached Lieutenant Raillard with 40 Europeans, 6 Sepoy coys, 3 small guns and a large supply of ammunition with orders to proceed within a night march from Tagada, and then to forward the ammunition with 1 Sepoy coy. On its way, Raillard’s force was joined by 1,000 native horse sent by the Nawab of Arcot.

The French collected all their forces and launched four attacks on the town of Tagada. They brought two guns to each gate and ordered two parties to escalate the walls. They finally managed to force a gate and to enter into the town with four guns. The garrison, which had already lost one-third of its force, barely had time to take refuge into the fort where there were some provisions, ammunition and water. In this action, the French lost 30 Europeans and 200 Cipayes killed or wounded. Hunterman, who commanded the garrison of Tagada, sent word to Lieutenant Raillard that they would hold till he came to their relief.

During the night of October ?, Kistnarauze escaped from Tagada with all his horse and some Sepoys. The next day, Kistnarauze joined Lieutenant Raillard and they decided to attack the French early the next morning. The next day, Raillard and Kistnarauze marched on Tagada. They met the French some 3 km from the place. They halted and began to cannonade. Meanwhile, the French brought up their artillery. Upon the first discharge of their field-pieces, the Nawab’s horse fled precipitously. Raillard went after them to try to rally them. The infantry of the French then appeared. The British Sepoys, seeing themselves abandoned by the cavalry, panicked and fled likewise. About 200 British Sepoys (mainly officers) remained with the Europeans and Topasses who guarded the guns. Together, they tried to retire to a village about 1.5 km in their rear. They were hard pushed by the French European cavalry and some infantry who captured the British guns. The remnants of the British force routed and the Europeans and Topasses were either killed or taken prisoners. Many Sepoys were cut to pieces and almost all disarmed. Lieutenant Raillard managed to escape but was found dead about 8 km from the scene of action. It is believed that he committed suicide. Soon after, Sergeant Hunterman surrendered the Fort of Tagada upon honourable terms.

On October 16, Pocock sailed from Madras for Bombay.

Bussy approached Basalut Jung, offering him to become nawab of the Carnatic if he would join the French with a body of troops. The terms were agreed upon, Basalut Jung began to advance along the Pennar River and Bussy was on his way to him with 500 Europeans.

On October 17

  • British
    • On his way to Bombay, Pocock fell in with Rear-Admiral Samuel Cornish, with 3 ships of the line (Lenox (74), Captain Robert Jocelyn, Cornish's flagship; Duc d'Aquitaine (64), Captain William Hewitt; York (60), Captain Vincent Pearce), one 50-gun ship (Falmouth (50), Captain Richard Hughes), and 3 East Indiamen (Ajax, Stormont and Houghton) on board which was Colonel Coote with the greatest part of his battalion (the 84th Foot). Admiral Pocock ordered all troops which were brought out in the ships of war to be put on board the Queenborough and dispatched her with the 3 Indiamen for Madras. Pocock’s squadron then proceeded to Bombay.
  • French
    • Bussy was recalled by the outbreak of a dangerous mutiny of the garrison which he had left behind him at Wandewash. Turning back, he succeeded by payment of 6 months’ arrears in reducing the men to obedience but the incident was fatal to his negotiations with Basalut Jung. After a few days of fruitless haggling Bussy returned to Arcot, with no addition to his force but a few irregular levies of horse and foot.

During the journey to the Coast of Malabar, Pocock’s squadron met hard gales near Ceylon. The Cumberland (66) and Salisbury (50) soon were in distress and obtained assistance.

British capture Wandewash and Carangooly

On October 27, the 3 East Indiamen and the troops they transported (Colonel Coote with the remainder of the 84th Foot, in all 600 men) reached Madras.

At the end of October, after Coote’s arrival at Madras with the 84th Foot, preparations were made for this regiment to take the field. Though compelled to send 200 men forthwith to Bengal under Caillaud, Coote was able to make good the deficiency with about the same number of exchanged prisoners who had arrived from Pondicherry. The Presidency recommended to Coote to proceed with an expedition to join the army at Conjeeveram and to attack the neighbouring French possessions to draw French troops from the south and ease the pressure on Trichinopoly.

By the end of October, Trichinopoly had only 250 men of the Madras European Regiment and 3,000 Sepoys to garrison it.

In November, as the monsoon appeared to be set in, Admiral Pocock decided to send Rear-Admiral Cornish to Telichery (present-day Thalassery) with the Lenox (74), the Duc d'Aquitaine (64), the York (60), the Falmouth (50), the Weymouth (60) and the Sunderland (60).

On November 11, foiled in his diplomatic plans, Lally in despair determined to make a diversion in the south and sent a force of 900 French infantry, 100 hussars, 1,000 Cipayes and 200 Indian cavalry under the Chevalier de Crillon at Thiagur (present-day Thiagu) to alarm Trichinopoly. Meanwhile, Lally marched northward to join Bussy at Arcot. Lally's rash division of his force between points so distant as Arcot and Trichinopoly gave the British an opportunity which they did not fail to grasp.

On November 17, Crillon's advanced guard occupied Munsurpet (present-day Palur) near the island of Seringham (present-day Srirangam).

In the night of November 17 to 18, a small detachment (Europeans, Sepoys and native horse) of the garrison of Trichinopoly, under Captain Richard Smith, crossed the river unperceived, fell upon an advanced detachment in Munsurpet near the Golden Rock and drove them up rapidly; obliging them to throw their arms and surrender as prisoners (1 officer, 30 Europeans, 40 Cafres and Sepoys) with 2 guns, a large quantity of ammunition and all their baggage.

The main body of Crillon’s Corps (more than 1,000 Europeans) continued its march towards Seringham

On November 20

  • British
  • French
    • Crillon passed the river, advanced in the island of Seringham in front of Trichinopoly and took position in front of the fortified pagoda of the island, defended by British forces (300 Sepoys, 500 Colleries and 2 field-pieces manned by European gunners).

On November 21,

  • British
    • Coote arrived at the British camp at Conjeeveram and assumed command of the army. He immediately dispatched Captain Preston to Wandewash with 200 men of the Madras European Regiment and the material for a siege.
    • By that date, Pocock’s entire squadron was assembled at Telichery.
  • French
    • Crillon battered down the walls of the pagoda of Seringham and then stormed and took the place. The French refused quarter until nearly the whole of the garrison had been put to the sword. Captain Smith severely reproached Crillon for this act of barbarity.
Map of the siege of Wandewash in November 1759.
Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis
Key to the map:
A The Fort of Wandewash with a pettah on the one side, enclosed by a mud wall.
B - B Two open pettahs on the East and West.
C An Esplanade between the Fort and the South pettah.
D The battery of two 18-pdrs erected on November 28.
E A battery of two 12-pdrs.
F An uncompleted battery for two 10-pdrs.
G The breach created on November 29.

On November 23, Coote was joined at Conjeeveram by the newly arrived troops. He had already made up his mind to attack Wandewash; but to conceal his intentions he dispatched one detachment (parts of the 84th Coote's Foot and Madras European Regiment) under Brereton to seize the fort of Trivatore, sent another detachment with the heavy artillery to Chengalaput, and himself marched upon Arcot.

On November 25, Brereton captured Trivatore without difficulty. Meanwhile, Coote’s Army marched from Conjeeveram.

On November 26

On November 27

  • British
    • In the morning, Brereton stormed and took the pettah (market) of Wandewash and immediately began to construct two batteries.
    • Coote force marched and joined Brereton and Preston in front of Wandewash. By the time of his arrival, the battery was quite finished and the guns in it.

On November 28

  • British
    • Coote's batteries opened, nearly destroying the defences and breaching the wall. A summon was then sent by Colonel Coote to Lieutenant Mahony who commanded the French garrison.
    • The detachments of Captains Wood and Elliot, who had previously been detached by Coote while on his way to Wandewash, entered the town of Arcot, invested the fort, erected a battery and prepared fascines.

On November 29

  • British
    • The Killedar (native governor) of Wandewash sent a messenger to treat with Coote, offering to pay a sum of money and deliver up the French garrison upon condition that he would retain government of the place. When the French soldiers discovered that the Killedar was negotiating with the besiegers, they delivered up the garrison (5 officers and 53 privates) as prisoners of war. There had been 500 Cipayes in the fort in addition to the Europeans. During the siege, the Madras European Regiment lost only 5 men wounded.
    • Pocock followed Stevens to Bombay, leaving Rear-Admiral Cornish at Telichery with six ships with instructions to sail to the Coast of Coromandel on December 15.

Without delay Coote pushed on to Carangooly, 56 km to the south-west, which was defended by Colonel O’Kennely with 100 Europeans and 500 Sepoys. This fort had been abandoned by the British in September 1750, when they expected the French would besiege Madras. The French had immediately took possession of this fort and were still occupying it.

Map of the siege of Carangooly in November and December 1759.
Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis
Key to the map:
A Fort of Carangooly, about 24 km inland of Madras.
B Battery of two 18-pdr guns.
C Battery of two 10-pdr guns.
d - e A zigzag and demi-parallel.
e - f A zigzag pushed on almost direct to the place on December 9 at night.
D A howitzer to enfilade.
E The breach, made practicable on December 10.

On December 4, Coote occupied the pettah of Carangooly and invested the fort which was a large irregular four-sided one, built of stone after the native fashion; with round bastions at each corner and square towers at intervals along the faces. Before the main wall and bastions was a fausse-bray and wet ditch. The sides faced the points of the compass, the north being the nearest the pettah at 300 meters distance. The French had thrown up a glacis, all along before it, except under the north-east bastion where it had not been finished.

By December 6, the British had erected a battery of two 18-pdr guns which opened at night against the towers and bastions of the north face of the fort of Carangooly.

By December 7, the British completed another battery of two 18-pdr guns which opened at night against the the north face of the fort of Carangooly. Furthermore, a British mortar was planted to the north-west of Carangooly, so as to enfilade the face attacked.

On December 8, Coote’s battery breached the walls of Carangooly but there was still a ditch which could be costly to force.

On December 9

  • British
    • Captains Wood and Elliot fell back and joined Coote's Army at Wandewash.
  • French
    • Bussy arrived at Arcot to relieve the fort with a force of 350 French infantry, 150 hussars, 3,500 Cipayes, 500 Arabs, 800 Indian cavalry and 10 field-pieces.
    • Lally hastily recalled Crillon, bidding him to leave 300 men only in Seringham and join him with the rest of his troops at Arcot. On their departure, Captain Smith, the commander at Trichinopoly, sent out parties to posses themselves of some of the small forts and posts in the neighbourhood, in order that the rents of the district might be received.

On December 10

  • British
    • In the afternoon, the French garrison of Carangooly capitulated with the honours of war. Colonel Coote accepted to allow the Europeans to retire to Pondicherry. During the siege, the French had lost 5 men killed, the British artillery 1 officer mortally wounded and 2 privates of the Madras European Regiment mortally wounded.
  • French
    • Bussy entered into Arcot.

On December ?, Captain Smith, who commanded at Trichinopoly, received intelligence that a French convoy on its way to Seringham was at Utatore (unidentified location) with its escort. He detached a party of 50 Europeans and some Sepoys to intercept it. The French marched with an equal force from Seringham for the protection of the convoy. Captain Smith seized the opportunity and launched an attack from Trichinopoly against the Pagoda at Seringham with the remainder of his garrison. This attack was driven back and Smith wounded. Meanwhile, his detached party attacked the convoy at Utatore; capturing 2 officers and 38 grenadiers, disarming 300 Cipayes and carrying off or destroying all the ammunition and provisions.

Lally reinforced Seringham with a body of horse and 200 European infantry.

On December 12

  • British
    • Calling in all detachments to him, Coote reunited his entire force at Wandewash.
    • Captain Smith's detachments around Trichinopoly under Ensigns Bridges and Hart, with the assistance of the King of Tanjore (present-day Thanjavur) and Tondeman, had taken forts Cortalum (a mud fort on the southern bank of the Caveri, 24 km west of Trichinopoly) and Totcum (a like fort on the opposite bank), cutting communication with Seringham, and collecting the revenue of the district.
  • French
    • Lally perceived the evil consequences of his diversion in the south. The capture of Wandewash and of the other posts retrieved at once any reputation that the British might have lost by Crillon's success at Seringham, while the possession of these forts was a solid gain to his enemy.

Meanwhile Bussy's irregular horse from Arcot spread desolation on the north of the Paliar River to within 30 km of Madras itself. The terror of these marauding bands drove all the natives from the open country to take refuge in the hills.

Informed that French troops were assembling under Brigadier-General Bussy at Arcot and that Crillon was on the march to join them, Coote advanced towards Arcot.

Coote, who had moved up to within a few km of Arcot, as if to intercept Crillon on his march, was compelled by lack of supplies and inclement weather to cross the Paliar and distribute his troops into cantonments.

In mid-December, Moracin, who had been sent to the relief of Masulipatam the previous spring, arrived at Pouliacat (present-day Pulicat) on his way to Pondicherry. With his 200 men, he made a landing attempt at Cockanara (unidentified location) but was driven back by Captain Fisher, losing 10 officers and 16 Europeans taken prisoners.

On December 19, Coote's Army entered cantonments at Conerpauk (present-day Konerikuppam) and he repaired to Madras.

On December 25, Coote's army moved out of cantonments to Chinesimandsum (unidentified location).

On December 29, both armies were in sight of each other and some skirmishes took place at the outposts.

On December 30, a body of Maratha horse cut down a few British Sepoys at an advanced post, but were ultimately repulsed with considerable loss.

Early on the morning of December 31, 3 Sepoys coys entered the Maratha camp, taking the cavalry by surprise and dispersing it.

At the end of December, Lally took command of the French army assembled at Arcot.

So ended the disjointed and indecisive operations in the Carnatic for the year 1759.


This article is essentially a compilation of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 478-481, 507-508
  • An anonymous staff officer; Historical Record of the Honourable East India Company's First Madras Regiment, London: Smith, Elder and Co; 1843, pp. X-xvi, 163-165, 168-175
  • Cambridge, Richard Owen: An Account of the War in India between the English and French on the Coast of Coromandel from the Year 1750 to the Year 1760 together with a Relation of the late Remarkable Events on the Malabar Coast, and the Expeditions to Golconda and Surat; with the Operations of the Fleet, London: T. Jefferys, 1761, pp. 198-200, 214-215, 244-253, 255-260
  • Clowes, Wm. Laird, The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. III, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, pp. 196-200
  • Fortescue, J. W., A History of the British Army, Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 454-459

Other sources:

Castex, Jean-Claude, Dictionnaire des batailles terrestres franco-anglaises de la Guerre de Sept Ans, Presse de l'université Laval, Québec: 2006, pp. 292-293, 510-513, 545-549

Hartmann, Claude: Les trois batailles aux Indes d'André-Antoine de Serquigny comte d'Aché (avril et août 1758-septembre 1759). In: Outre-mers, tome 98, n°370-371, 1er semestre 2011. Le contact colonial dans l'empire français : XIXe-XXe siècles. pp. 231-243