« ForrigeFortsæt »
keeping their ground. But, in less than a minute, upon 10 or 15 ■-" the approaching men and horses being brought down by the fire o£ Barker's guns, the rest of the French cavalry fell into disorder and panic ■wheeled about, and went off at full gallop, followed by the small number of the Anglo-European horse who had stood firm with Barker, as '•ell as by many of the Black horse, who, when they only had to prirsne, returned to distinguish themselves in that branch of the service ; * both following the routed French about a mile, or as far as the rear c: their camp.
Lally, necessarily obliged to retire from the English cavalry when ths* totally or disgracefully abandoned by his own, joined the nearest port* of his line of infantry, or the Regiment of Lorrain. This corps, as wrli as the rest, "he found suffering, and with much impatience, from tiEnglish cannonade : his own impetuosity concurred with their eagerness to be led to immediate decision, and he gave the order to advance." From the nature of the ground, and corresponding arrangement of the troops on both sides, the hostile lines did not come within mnsketrrreach till about 1 o'clock. Coote was with his own regiment, opposr. that of Lorrain. Coote's " only fired twice, when Lorrain formed in a column 12 in front. The operation is simple, and was expediti.vi?. Colonel Coote made no change in the disposition of his regiment, be: ordered the whole to reserve their next fire; which Lorrain, coming ot almost at a run, received at the distance of 50 yards in their front, ar on both their flanks. It fell heavy, and brought down many, but «bJ not stop the column. In an instant, the 2 regiments were mingled »: the push of bayonet. Those of Coote's, opposite the front of th column, were immediately borne down; but the rest, far the greater. part, fell on the flanks, when every man fought only for himself; and. in a minute, the ground was spread with dead and wounded; and Lorraii. having just before suffered from the reserved fire of Coote's, broke, at . ran in disorder to regain the camp. Colonel Coote ordered his regimet'. to be restored to order before they pursued, and rode himself to see the state of the rest of the line."
The 2 centres, consisting of the forces of the 2 East India Com pan**?, meantime keeping up merely a distant though smart fire, as if both equally inclined to leave closer operations to the regular troops elsewherr. and matters now progressing to a more sharp and decisive course betwetr the English right and the French left, in which quarters the Regimen: of Draper and the Regiment of Lally were opposed to each other, Coote hastened up to direct the movements of Draper's corps, as Lally, after the defeat of the Regiment of Lorrain, did to join and manoeuvre his own regiment. Here, too, however,
"Fortune, that, with malicious joy,
"Prowl of her office to destroy,
was still adverse to Lally. His regiment had been well posted, pro
* As the gallant Spartan Brasidas observes, in Thncydides, of his barbaric opponents—"Such as will give ground, and fly before them, they pursue with «crrness; and are excellently brave, when there is no resistance." Or, as anotbrr writer would say of such soldiership, it was "yielding to the intrepid, intrepid a> the yielding 1" Sec, likewise, the conduct of the Knglish cavalry, at CuUodcn.
tected by a retrenched tank, in which was another European corps of 300 men, or that of the Marines with 4 field-pieces; at a 2nd tank, to their rear, was a further support of several hundred Sepoys, that had been engaged in the French cause by Bussy; and a still larger reserve of the like native mercenaries were ranged behind a ridge, which extended along the front of the camp in that quarter. But, as Coote and Lally, after their late infantry-contest elsewhere, were coming to take in hand a similar one here, a shot, from 1 of the field-pieces attached to the Begimeut of Draper, striking an ammunition-waggon, at the retrenched tank, next to the Begiment of Lally, where the 300 Marines were stationed, caused a disastrous explosion, by which 80 men with their officer, a Knight of Malta, were either killed, or, for the most part, mortally injured. "All who were near, and had escaped the danger, fled, in the 1st impulse of terror, out of the retrenchment, and ran to gain the camp by the rear of Lally's, and were joined, in the way, by the 400 Sepoys at the tank behind, who, although they had suffered nothing, likewise abandoned their post."
Coote thereupon ordered, that, ere the enemy cquld recover from this confusion, Major Brereton, with the Begiment of Draper, should seize the retrenched tank; from which they might gain the important advantage, of acting, under cover, against the flank of the Begiment of Lally. Bussy, however, who commanded the French on this wing, promptly rallying 50 or 60 fugitives, and adding to them 2 platoons from the Begiment of Lally, so far anticipated the occupation of the tank; returning to bring up the rest of the regiment, for the maintenance of that post. Yet Brereton, advancing so rapidly as to suffer little from the fire of the Regiment of Lally in its divided and distracted condition, assaulted the retrenchment so impetuously on its left, that he carried it, after a volley of much execution from those within, by which he met his own death-wound. "The first of Draper's, who got into the retrenchment, fired down, from the parapet, upon the guns on the left of Lally's, and drove the gunners from them; whilst the rest, being many more than required to maintain the post, formed, and shouldered under it, extending on the plain to the left, to prevent the Begiment of Lally, if attempting to recover the post, from embracing it on this side. Bussy wheeled the Begiment of Lally, and sent off platoons from its left to regain the retrenchment, whilst the rest were opposed to the division of Draper's on the plain." These detached platoons from Lally's, naturally considering themselves not strong enough to recover the retrenched tank by an assault, acted with comparative or proportionate faintness, by only maintaining a skirmishing fire against those under cover, or so well protected, in that post. "The action likewise continued only with musketry, but warmly, between the 2 divisions on the plain, until the 2 field-pieces attached to the right of Draper's, which they had left behind when marching to attack the retrenchment, were brought to bear on the flank of Lally's, who had none to oppose them, on which their line began to waver, and many were going off. Bussy, as the only chiince of restoring this part of the battle, put himself at their head, intending to lead them to the push of bayonet, but had only advanced a little way when his horse was struck with a ball in the head, and, floundering at every step afterwards, he dismounted; during which tho fire from Drapers had continued, of which 2 or 3 balls passed through his cloaths, and, when he alighted, only 20 of Lally's had kept near him, panied with suffering and discontent in proportion; and the kttar feeling specially aggravated to his prejudice, by the unscrupulous obth and calumnies of those dishonest and malignant officials, whom he would not gratify in their filthy famine for fiscal frauds. Nor can the ontoward result of the "chance shot" be forgotten as regards the exptoaos on Lally's left, where, but for that casualty, and its destructive and disorganizing consequences, there would appear to have been the h.>: prospect of repelling the enemy. Still, amid so many disadvantage* .those with which Lally had to contend, he made a good retreat, is which, and the engagement, he behaved in such a manner, that all i>>f officers and soldiers in the King's service, as contrasted with those in the Company's, or the partisan Battalion of India, became indignant -' the vile intrigues and falsehoods, that proved so far injurious to til? character and authority of their Commander, as not to have been wither, influence in contributing to the loss of the day. This just indignant these brave men accordingly manifested soon after at Valdore, in flockr.: around Lally; and exclaiming, with reference to the infamous arts » peculating persecution that marked him out for its victim—" Do not be discouraged, General! They have caused you to lose the battle, bet you have gained the army. They have contrived thai you should J* but toe will all support you I" On the whole, in this affair of "diamoiJ cut diamond" between Coote and Lally, as each connected with Ireton L it may be fairly observed, that if the one was victorious with honour, the other was unsuccessful without dishonour; and it may be likewise regrettrl by the country, on which each reflected such a lustre, that either sbouIJ have been opposed to the other, under a different standard, instead '* both, with united invincibility, rather resembling Achilles and Patroche. in the happier days, when
"Their swords kept time, and conqner'd side by side."
Pope's Homer, Iliad, xviii., 401, 40£
The axiom that "knowledge is power" cannot be better exemplified than by a contrast of what Coote did not do after his success at Wandt•wash with what he might have done, but for his ignorance of how vnj badly the French were situated. Had he immediately marched to Poodicherry, he could, as we learn from Lally, have decided the contest between the 2 Companies, by making himself master of that metropolis within > days! Notwithstanding the repeated letters, entreaties, orders, «*» menaces, from Lally to the Governor during 2 years, to collect, »t *" events, a supply of rice there, so far had that functionary been frosi e«n commencing the establishment of a single magazine of the kind, that, it>> said, "il n'y avoit pas un grain de ris dans la place!" But the Engli*"having had no suspicion of the existence of a state of things which wouw have enabled them to give a wound at once so rapid and so mortal to It*"" enemy, only proceeded to deprive that enemy of his limbs before striki"? at his head, when, by striking, as they might have struck, imnwdistelv and effectively at his head, the limbs would have fallen as a matter * course. Coote's attention was thus directed to a reduction of the subordinate places subject to the French, previous to any attack upon their metropolis. Lally meanwhile withdrew his troops successively bj Outtapet and Gingee to Valdore, in order "to prevent the English from Ufa*? post between them and Pondicherry, and to protect the districts of» south, from which alone provisions could be obtained. The difficulties «
Lally, which," continues my hostile authority, "had so long been great, ■were now approaching to extremity. The army was absolutely without equipments, stores, and provisions, and he was destitute of resources to supply them. He repaired to Pondicherry to demand assistance, which lie would not believe that the Governor and Council were unable to afford." Amply justified, as he considered himself to be, in this impression, and proportionably provoked at their refusal to aid him, "he represented them, as embezzlers, and peculators." In reply, this "knot of rogues," with the audacity of the robber, and the brass of the prostdtnte, abstained from no imputation of folly, dishonesty, and even "cowardice" (credite posleril) at his expense. The outrageous insubordination of those insolent officials was aggravated by a mutiny of the cavalry, for want of pay; who, when drawn out, in order to retaliate upon the enemy for some devastating and plundering horse-incursions to the country about Pondicherry, whereby 84 villages were burned, and 8,000 head of cattle swept away, not only refused to march with the General, but made dispositions as if they all designed to go over, like 27 who actually did so, to the English; several of the more violent or ruffianly troopers, on the night of February 11th, being even heard to propose what they termed bringing the General to reason, by turning the guns upon the ramparts of the town against the Government House! On Lally's representation of the depositions to this alarming effect to the Governor and Council, they did nothing better than propose expedients, which, as connected with a preservation of their authority in the administration of the revenues, implied, (as might be expected,) that, whatever they or theirs might receive, he was to get nothing! To 2 of their agents, European inhabitants of the colony, a large tract of country was let (or rather urarfer-let) for a rent of 1,450,000 rupees a year; from whom, on the plea of a diminution of receipts in proportion to recent losses of territory, the answer, like the Council's, was, that "they had no money;" whereas a Malabar, to whom Lally had previously rented the districts around Arcot, agreed to advance 50,000 rupees in 10 days, and 80,000 more in 20 days, on condition that what was left of the districts let to the Council's 2 Europeans should be leased to him, with other territory, south of Pondicherry, for 1,750,000 rupees a year. This offer (opposed, of course, by the Council, as keeping their finger out of the financial pie,) was necessarily accepted by Lally, since it would furnish him with some money, instead of leaving him, at such a critical juncture, without any; though it may be added of this pecuniary aid so obtained from the Malabar capitalist, that it, like whatever assistance of the kind had been received in India, could enable the General to do little, if any thing, more, than "stop a gap for the present," or barely keep him afloat, as on a mere temporary plank, amidst the ocean of difficulties which raged around him—his position, if any body's ever was, being that, in Pope's words, of
"A brave man struggling in the stonna of Fate J"
Between the ably-directed superiority of foreign power, and the unscrupulous spirit of domestic disaffection, against which, like Hercules opposed to the 2 serpents, he had at once to contend, the only wonder is, tuno he could. Bo long contrive to resist the former, while in every way crossed and worried by the latter!
Since the victory of the English at Wandewash, the progress of their arms by land, seconded by the presence of a considerable squadron at sea, was so great, that, previous to March 18th, their advanced military outposts approached and skirmished -with those of the French around Pondicherry; while the naval armament showed itself off the port, causing the more alarm, from the absence of any force of the kind there. In this emergency, Lally, to impose npon the English, by making them think the French troops to be many more than they really were, issued his orders for a general review, to be held, the 20th, outside the town, along the sea shore, or in view of the hostile squadron; at which display, the regular soldiery were to be apparently augmented by the presence of 1100 Europeans; 600 of whom were invalids only fit for garrison-duty, and the remainder, 500 inhabitants of the place, including the civil servants of the Company, all in uniform, the material for which was supplied. On the day, however, for this well-designed display, 250 of those refracton' employes of the Company, headed by the Council, and armed with musket's tumultuously entered the General's apartment; exclaiming, that thej would not obey his order, or any command to them, unless from the Governor established by the Company. The Members of the Council were particularly offensive to the General, in claiming an exemption from bearing arms beyond the walls of the town. This behaviour, at such i crisis, was so disreputable, even in the eyes of the very Governor whom they had professed themselves ready to obey, that he (to his credit!) offered. if they would march, to place himself at their head; upon which, tb? seditious quibblers, liars, and dastards "ate dirt," as the honest Turk would say, or shamelessly backed out of what they alleged they would do. by refusing to obey either the Governor, or the General! Lally consequently had the 2 spokesmen of the Council, and 2 others of the most prominent recusants, arrested, and punished those heads of the csW against him, by banishing them from the town; pronouncing that sentence, as was natural under the circumstances, in terms of cutting severity, not to be forgotten; and, having disarmed and dismissed the rest of the ere*, he permitted them, as it were, in the language of the poet, or "wits heartless breasts, and unperforming hands," to "leave to men the bus'nes of the war"*—thus granting them the ignominious or feminine exemption they claimed, while He proceeded to hold the review without them.
"As we wax hot in faction.
Judging likewise, and most excusably judging, from this last act of opposition, in connexion with the results of his previous experience, th»' the Council's "measure of iniquity was now full to overflowing," as th»: of an insufferable gang, whose wicked or factious conduct had too g«n*r'. ally or plainly emanated from no better principle, than a resolution « opposing him in every thing, he prohibited that body to assemble ir>5 more, without a special permission, or requisition from himself, to do *v It was surely high time, that a den of the kind should be closed, if th< disorder, of which it was so foul a source, was not to reign triumpbM'and thus occasion the destruction of the colony much sooner, by u>prevalence of a scandalous anarchy within, than it could be accompli*!:' by all the enemy's power from without During, indeed, but a few d**before, 2 other outbreaks of sedition, or mutiny, had been directed agn^"
* See Pitt's version of the scornful speech of Xumanus, in Virgil's 9th ..Cnad.