1756 - Operations in Carnatic

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The campaign lasted from March to August 1756


British intervention in Arcot

On January 19, 1756, Killpatrick's army, which was still stationed in the district of Arcot, was reinforced with the grenadiers. Furthermore, another company and two 18-pdrs were on their way.

Contextual map of the campaign - Copyright: Kronoskaf

On January 30, Killpatrick advanced within 8 km of Vellore, a town ruled by Murtaza Ali Khan.

On January 31, the Governor of Madras (present-day Chennai) received a letter from M. de Leyrit, disputing the nawab's right to Vellore and threatening to oppose the proceedings of the British. At the same time, the governor received intelligence that 300 French and 300 Cipayes were marching from Pondicherry (present-day Puducherry). This information was immediately forwarded to Major Killpatrick with instructions to continue negotiations with the governor of Vellore and to oppose, by force if necessary, any French intervention.

On February 9, Murtaza Ali Khan agreed to pay tribute to the Nawab of Arcot. However, when he learned that a French army (estimated at 700 French and 1,500 Cipayes) was only some 55 km from Vellore, he withdrew from his engagements.

Major Killpatrick remained near Vellore until February 24 and finally decided to return to Arcot.

In March, the Nawab of Arcot, Muhammad Ali Khan, informed the authorities of the East India Company at Madras that some palaiyakkarars (barons) had united against his brother, Mahfuz Khan, obtained several advantages over his troops and blocked up a large party in a strong fort between Madura (present-day Madurai) and Tinnevelly (present-day Tirunelveli). The nawab requested assistance to support his brother.

Detailed map of the campaign - Copyright: Kronoskaf

At that time, the British could not spare any European troops for that purpose. Instead, they detached Muhammed Yusuf Khan, the Subahdar (provincial governor) of Nellore, at the head of 1,000 Sepoys of the East India Company and the Cafre Company from Trichinopoly (present-day Tiruchirappalli).

The day before the departure of the relief force under Muhammed Yusuf Khan, the latter was informed that Mahfuz Khan had totally defeated the rebels near Tinnevelly, killing their general and 2,000 coolies and capturing 300 horse with all baggage, guns and some elephants.

At the beginning of August, the Governor of Vellore, Murtaza Ali Khan, finally came to an agreement with Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan of Arcot, paying part of the requested tribute.

In August, Mahfuz Khan took advantage of his previous successes to declare himself independent of the Nawab of Arcot. Under false pretences, Mahfuz convinced the Sepoys occupying the Fortress of Madura to evacuate it.

Mahfuz Khan then turned against the relief force under Yusuf Khan to force it to evacuate the country.

Contest for influence at Hyderabad

In 1756, Salabat Jung, the Nizam of Hyderabad, had refused to cede the Citadel of Golkonda to M. de Bussy. The French had assisted him the previous year to collect tribute from Terriore (unidentified location). After some argument, Salabat Jung ordered Bussy to return immediately to Pondicherry. Bussy set off for Masulipatam (present-day Machilipatnam) by the way of Hyderabad.

After the departure of Bussy, Salabat Jung wrote to the British Governor of Madras, requesting some troops to prevent the French from insulting him in his own kingdom. Meanwhile, Salabat Jung also sent a party of Maratha horse to follow Bussy's Army.

On June 25, Bussy arrived at Hyderabad. He took post with his troops in a large house in town, where he had some guns mounted. He then prepared to defend himself against an attack. He secured provisions by plundering the bazaar. His force consisted of 400 Europeans and 350 Cipayes.

Meanwhile, some 450 men had embarked at Pondicherry to be landed at Masulipatam. From there, they would march to the relief of Bussy, a march of some 15 days.

The French force left at Pondicherry was no longer a threat to Madras. The British decided to send 400 Europeans, a train of artillery and 400 Sepoys to the assistance of Salabat Jung, who could field up to 50,000 horse.

On July 15, news arrived at Madras of an expedition against Calcutta (present-day Kolkata) conducted by Siraj Ud Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal.

On July 20, Major Killpatrick embarked with 250 men for Bengal. It was also resolved to persist with the plan to assist Salabat Jung.

On August 5, when the fate of Calcutta was known at Madras, priority was given to the relief of Calcutta and the expedition in Deccan was cancelled.

On August 10, 500 Europeans under Mr. Law joined Bussy.

On August 20, deprived of the planned British assistance, Salabat Jung reconciled himself with Bussy.


This article contains texts from the following sources, which are now in the public domain:

  • 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. 89-91, 101-105