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the Company's frontier, when it was overtaken by General chap. Campbell, and entirely routed by a skilfully conducted surprise before sunrise, with the loss of three thousand killed and wounded. Twenty thousand head of cattle taken in their camp, demonstrated the vast extent of the Dec. 30. depredation which in a few days these marauding horse- Campbell's
Desp. Dec. men could commit. Mohammed Beg Khan, the leader 30, 1803. of the party, was wounded and made prisoner, and the v. 2, 3. whole body dispersed.1
Important as this early success was in arresting the destructive inroads of the Mahratta freebooters, it was Plan of the attended with one bad effect, in leading the British com- against
campaign manders to underrate the enemy with whom they had to errors and deal ; inducing the belief that, by a simultaneous invasion early disasof his territories by comparatively small bodies of troops, converging from different directions, Holkar would speedily be reduced to submission. The plan of the campaign was arranged on these principles. Lord Lake, with the army of Bengal, about ten thousand strong, was to advance from the neighbourhood of Delhi, southward into Holkar's country ; while lesser bodies, acting in concert with Scindiah's forces, pressed upon it from Guzerat, Malwa, and the Deccan. Colonel Murray, with two European and six native regiments, about six thousand men, was to advance from Guzerat; while Colonel Monson, with three battalions of sepoys, about three thousand strong, moved upon Jyenagur, in order to menace the rear of Holkar’s main army, which was ravaging the country in that neighbourhood. These movements had the effect of inducing April 23. the Mahratta chief to retreat, which he did to the eastward, with extraordinary rapidity ; while General Lake, following in his footsteps, detached a force under Colonel May 16. Don, which carried by assault the important fort of Rampoora, and expelled the enemy from all his possessions in that part of Hindostan. So completely was government impressed with the idea that Holkar could nowhere face the British troops, and that a short campaign at the
CHAP. close of the rainy reason would effectually reduce his
power, that the troops, on its commencement, were every
where withdrawn to their original stations :* General Lake Lord Wel- returned to his cantonments near Cawnpore, while Colonel lesley to Secret Com. Monson was left in the province of Malwa, above two hun
, June 1804. Wel. dred miles in advance, in a position which it was thought Desp. iv.
would effectually preclude the possibility of the predatory chieftain's return toward his own territories.
Holkar's conduct now demonstrated that he was inti
mately acquainted with the art of war, the principles of duct. De- which are often as thoroughly understood by illiterate Fawcett in chieftains, to whom native sagacity and practical expe
rience have unfolded them, as by those who have most learnedly studied the enterprises of others. Rapidly concentrating his desultory bands, he fell with an overwhelming force, as soon as the decline of the rainy season would admit of military operations, upon Colonel Monson's division, left in this perilous position so far in advance; while a subordinate force, five thousand strong, made a diversion by an irruption into the province of Bundelcund. A British detachment, under Captain Smith, of three hundred men, was there almost entirely cut off by the sudden attack of these freebooters, and with it five guns and a considerable quantity of ammunition were captured:
a a disgrace which was the more sensibly felt, as Colonel Fawcett, who with five battalions lay within a few miles,
and had, by imprudently separating his infantry from his DespMay 22,9804..9 artillery, brought about this disaster, instead of attemptiv. 72, 73 Wel, Desp. ing to avenge it, commenced a retreat.1 Such was the
consternation produced by this unwonted calamity, that it was only by the firm countenance and intrepid conduct
i Colonel Fawcett's
*“ The necessity of repelling Holkar's banditti from the frontier of Hindostan, and of reducing him to a peaceable conduct, will not lead to any serious interruption of peace, and will probably tend to consolidate our connection with Scindiah. The commander-in-chief, with the greater part of the main army in Hindostan, has returned to the cantonment of Cawnpore, and my attention is now directed to the desirable object of withdrawing the whole army from the field, and reducing the military charges.”—LORD WELLESLEY to LORD CASTLEREAGH, 9th July 1804- Well. Desp. iv. 131.
of Captain Baillie, who commanded a small subsidiary CHAP. force at Banda, the capital, in the southern portion of the province, that subordination was maintained; and the Mahrattas at length retired, finding a farther advance hazardous, leaving their course everywhere marked by conflagration and ruin.
This disgrace was but the prelude to still greater reverses, in which, however, the high character and un- Advance of daunted courage of the British troops remained untar- Monson's nished. Colonel Monson, having been joined by the troops under Colonel Don, which had captured Rampoora which raised his force to five sepoy battalions, amounting to about four thousand men, with fifteen guns, besides June 26. three thousand irregular horse—advanced through the strong pass of Mokundra, which commanded the entrance through the mountains into Hindostan from the westward ; and, contrary to the directions of General Lake, who had stationed him only to protect that defile, still pushing on fifty miles farther, carried by assault the important fortress of Heinglaisgurh, garrisoned by eleven July 2. hundred men. The Mahratta chief meanwhile lay in Malwa with his whole disposable force, which exceeded forty thousand men, of whom twenty thousand were disciplined infantry, with one hundred and sixty guns. With this immense body he rapidly approached the English general; and the exaggerated rumours which preceded his march as to the strength of the Mahratta host, impressed the latter with the idea that he had no chance of safety but in an immediate retreat. Colonel Murray, who, with a powerful force, including fifteen hundred Europeans, was to have advanced from Guzerat into such a position as to have been able to render him assistance if required, had, instead of performing his part of the general plan, been Lord unfortunately induced to fall back; and thus Monson was Account, left alone to withstand the whole shock of Holkar's force.1.288, 290. His troops, however, though not a fifth part of the enemy 327, 3:29. in point of number, were highly disciplined, admirably
CHAP. equipped, and inured to victory; and, by a daring advance
upon the Mahratta chief, especially when embarrassed with getting his immense artillery across the Chumbul river, then swollen by rains, he might perhaps have achieved as decisive success as, with a similar numerical inferiority, Wellington and Lake obtained at Assaye and Laswaree.
But it then appeared of what importance is military His disasters skill and moral resolution in Indian warfare, and how
much the brilliant accomplishment of Lord Wellesley's victories had been dependent on the daring energy, which, seizing the initiative, never lost it till the enemy was destroyed. Monson was brave as any officer in the English army-second to none in undaunted valour at storming a breach ; but he wanted the rarer quality of moral intrepidity, and the power of adopting great designs on his own responsibility. On the 6th July, Holkar was engaged in crossing the Chumbul; the fortunate moment
of attack was allowed to escape, never to return, and July 8. two days afterwards the English general commenced his
retreat. He did what ordinary officers would have done at Assaye, when it was ascertained Stevenson's division could not come up : and what was the result? In a few
a hours the subsidiary horse, now four thousand strong, which was left to observe the enemy, was enveloped by clouds of the Mahratta cavalry, and, after a bloody struggle, cut to pieces with their gallant commander,
Lieutenant Lucan, whose individual heroism long averted July 9. the disaster. The infantry and guns retired without
molestation to the strong Mokundra pass; and several
attacks made by Holkar on the outposts stationed there, Wel. Desp. were repulsed with great slaughter. Despairing, however, Y: 288, 280. after the recent disaster, of being able to make good the ser com. pass against the enemy when his infantry and numerous
artillery should come up, Monson resumed his retreat, a 273, 330. few days after, to Kotah, and from thence to Rampoora,
with great precipitation. Such were the obstacles pre
Lord Wel lesley to Secret mittee, Ibid. iv.
sented by the horrible state of the roads and incessant CHAP. rains, during the latter part of this journey, that the whole guns, fifteen in number, were abandoned, and fell 1804. into the enemy's hands. No sooner was General, now Lord Lake, apprised of
76. the commencement of this retreat, than he despatched two Desperate fresh battalions and three thousand irregular horse to rein-the Bannas force his lieutenant; and with such expedition did they advance, that they reached Rampoora a few days after the retiring column had arrived there. Still Monson deemed it impossible to make a stand ; and on the 21st August, after leaving a sufficient garrison in that fortress, he resumed his march for the British frontier. On the day Aug. 22. following, his progress was stopped by the Bannas river, which was so swelled by the rains as to be no longer fordable ; and during the delay occasioned by this obstacle, the whole of the enemy's force arrived close to the British detachment. The situation of the latter was now truly frightful ; in their front was a raging torrent, in their rear twenty thousand horsemen, continually receiving fresh accessions of strength in infantry and guns, as these successively came up. The river having at length become fordable, four battalions crossed over; and the enemy, seeing his advantage, immediately commenced a furious attack on the single battalion and pickets, which now remained alone on the other side. With such heroic con- Aug. 24. stancy, however, was this unequal contest maintained by these brave men, that they not only repulsed the whole attacks made upon them, but, pursuing their success, captured several of the enemy's guns : an event which clearly demonstrated what results might have followed the adoption of a vigorous offensive in the outset, when the troops were undiminished in strength and unbroken Colonel in spirit. As it was, however, this little phalanx, being Desp. Wel.
Desp. iv. unsupported, was unable to follow up its success, and in 1999
, the course of falling back to the river and effecting their