Lord Hastings

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Article Sub-Category: THE BRITISH OR ANGLO-INDIAN PERIOD

Title: Lord Hastings
 
Lord Hastings: Nepalese, Pindari, and Maratha wars ; Lord Amherst : first Burmese war


The Earl of Moira, Marquess of Hastings.  Lord Minto was succeeded by the Earl of Moira, better known by his later title as the Marques of Hastings, who was almost fifty-nine years of age and had seen much service in high military employ.  He came out full of the doctrines of the non-intervention school then in fashion, but soon found himself constrained to act as a disciple of Lord Wellesley.  He assumed charge on 4 October 1813, and ruled India until January 1823, for nine years and a quarter, without rest or holiday.  After his retirement he became Governor of Malata, where he died in November 1826.

  Result of non-intervention.  Lord Minto, as we have seen, had done brilliant service for his country by defeating French hostility in foreign lands and beyond the seas, where he was able to act with a free hand.  But within the limits of India his action had been hampered by instructions which he could not venture to disregard altogether.  The result was the accumulation of internal difficulties and the typing of knots which must be cut by the sword.  Lord Hastings, consequently, when he took over reigns of government, found 'seven different quarrels likely to demand the decision of arms' thrust upon him, and six years of his term of office were spent in constant and unavoidable war.

  Nepalese enroachments.  The most pressing of the pending quarrels was that with the Gurkhas of Nepal, whose enroachments on British territory could not be longer endured.  A Gurkha chief having overcome the ancient principalities of the valley of Nepal in 1768, he and his successors subsequently extended their power over the whole hill region from the frontier of Bhutan on the east to Sutlaj on the west, and constantly sought expansion of their dominion in the richer regions of the plains.  The cession of the Gorakhpur territory by the Nawab-Vazir of Oudh in Lord Wellesley's tome had brought the British boundary to the frontier of Nepal, and unceasing difficulties arose on the border.  Before 1813 the Nepalese had seized more than two hundred villages on the British side of the ill-defined frontier.  Their annexation of the districts of Butwal and sheoraj brought the quarrel to a head, and their refusal of restitution made war inevitable.  Hostilities began in October 1814.
 
  War with Nepal, 1814-16.  Lord Hastings, who was his own commander-in-chief, worked out an excellent plan of operations, providing for the attack on the Gurkha positions at four widely separated points.  The British force was superior to the enemy in numbers, and, inspite of the difficult nature of the country, speedy success should have been secured but for the incapacity of most of the generals employed.  one of them, General Gillespie, a brilliant officier, who had distinguished himself in Java, lost his life in making a rash frontal attack on  a stockade contrary to orders, and three others muddled away their opportunities through sheer imbecility.  Many lives were needlessly thrown away and little progress wasw made, except in Kumaon, where Colonels Nicholls and Gardner occupied Almora by  a force of irregulars, and in the territories along the Upper Sutlaj, which had been invaded by a force from Ludiana, under the command of General (afterwards Sir David) Ochterlony, a highly capable leader.  In may 1815, Ochterlony compelled the brave Gurkhas commander, Amar singh, to surrender the fort of Malaon.  The success of these operations inclined the Nepalese Government to peace, and a treaty was signed.  But on second thoughts the Darbar refused to ratify it and the war beganm again.
 
 Treaty of Sagaul, 1816.  In february 1816, Ochtrlony penetrated the hills by a daring night march and attained a position threatening Kathmande, the capital.  The Gurkhas then gave in and the Treaty of Sagauli was signed in March.  It provided for the occasion by the Nepalese of Kumaon to the west of the Kali river, their withdrawal from sikkim, the surender of most of the Tarai, or lowlands below the hills, and the acceptance of a British Resident at the court of Kathmandu.  The treaty has been observed faithfully ever since, and friendship, although with consierable reserve, has been maintained unbroken between the contracting Governments.  The Gurkha regiments recruited in Nepal are a most valuable element in the Indian Army, and during the troubled times of the Mutiny a Nepalese force gave welcome aid to the British authorities.  In the two World wars they again freely shed their blood in the cause of the British Raj.  The sites of the hill stations of Almora, Naini Tal, Mussooree, Simla,etc., were
acquired by the cession of kumaon
 
 General unrest.  The news of the British failures during the earlier stages of the Nepalese war excited every court in India and raised hopes of the expulsion of the foreigner.  Ranjit Singh moved troops towards the Sutlaj; Amir Khan, the leader of the roving Pathan bands in Rajputana, watched events with a force of thirty thousand men and a hundred and twenty-five guns, while the Maratha chiefs, the Peshwa, the Bhonsla of Nagpur, Sindia, and Holkar, all began to arm.  If the jealousies of these powers had permitted their effective combination at the right moment, the Governor-General had not the force to withstand them.  But the 'Company's ikbal', or good luck, prevailed ; the effective combination did not take polace, and each of the hostile powers was overcome in due course.
 
 The Pindaris.  Still more urgent than the danger from all those territorial powers was the peril caused by the pindari hordes of marauders, who, starting from a central position in Malwa and the Narbada valley, where they were loosely attached to the armies of Sindia and Holkar, ravaged India with friendship cruelty from Gujarat to Ganjam.  The Pindaris, first heard of during the struggles between Sivaji and Aurangzeb, had grown enourmously in numbers and strength during the century of anarchy which follwed the death of the GReat Mogul.  They were bands of lawless men, drawn from all castes and classes, who took advantage of the absence of a strong Government to make their living by organized plunder.  Mounted on hardy ponies, a body of two or three thousand men could cover fifty miles a day, harry a district, and be far away with their booty long before any regular troops could appear.  They worked in conjuction with the Marathas, one division being specially connected with Holkar and another with sindia.  Towards the end of 1815 the another defeat at Koregaon near Poona, and, a few days later, yet another at Ashti, where his gallant general, Bapu Gokhale, met a soldier's death.  The Peshwa pindaris laid waste the Nizam's Dominions as far south as the Kistna (Krishna) river, and early in the next year ravaged the 'Northern Circars' , which had enjoyed security for half a century.  The Governor-General reported the case of a village in which the inhabitants had been driven to the 'desperate resolution of burning themselves with their wives and children. . . Hundreds of women belonging to other villages have drowned themselves in the wells, not being able to survive the pollutionn they had suffered.  All the young girls were carred off by the Pinaris, tied three or four, like calves, on a horse, to be sold. . . They carried off booty to the value of more than a million sterling.'
 
 Neverthless, the authorities in England, fearing a war with Sindia, hesitated to primit the punishment of the villains, and their timidity was shared by Lord Hastings's councillors at Calcutta.  But at last, early in 1817, the council could no longer shirk the decision that ' Vigorous measures for the suppression of the Pindaris had become an indispensable object of public duty'.  Lord Hastings then tokk the neccessary measures to organize his forces and to smooth their path by diplomacy.

 Plan of compaign.  The plan devised provided for the surrounding of the pindari lair in Malwa, by a converging force of about a hundred and twenty thousand men, divided into eight sections or divisions, comprised in two armies, the southern under the command of Sir Thomas Hislop, and the northern led by the Governor-General in person.  The force, the largest ever collected up to that tike under the British flag in India, was provided with three hundred guns, and comprised about thirteen thousand Europeans.  A skilful movement subjected Sindia to such pressure that he reluctantly signed a treaty binding him to assist the English, and the circle was closed round the pindaris.  But the operations of the Governor-General were much hindered by the sudden outbreak of an epidemic of cholera, and some of the ruffians broke through the line. 

 Third Maratha war.  Operations were prolonged by a general rising of the Maratha powers, excepting Sindia and the Gaikwar, and the hunt of the pindaris became merged in the third Maratha war.  During November and December 1817, the peshwa, the bhonsla, and Holkar successively took up arms.  Baji Rao II, the peshwa, having been decisively beaten by a small British force at Kirki near poona (13 November 1817), was driven as a fugitive from his capital.  The Bhonsla was defeated thirteen days later at Sitabaldi, near Nagpur, in one of the most brilliant actions of the war; and Holkar was routed at Mahidpur on the Sipra river, to the north of Ujjain (21 December 1817).  Amir Khan, the leader of the Pathan host of rovers, was induced to settle down as Nawab of Tonk, now in Rajastan, where his decendants; another leader, weary of being hunted, ended his life by poison, and Chitu, the most famous of all the bandit captains, was driven into a jungle, where he was killed by a tiger.  On I January 1818, the Peshwa
suffered another defeat at Koregaon near Poona, and, a few days later, yet another at Ashti, where his gallant general, Bapau Gokhale, met a soldier's death.  The Peshwa, who was no hero, surrended to Sir John Malcom, whom he perusaded into promising him the extravagant pension of eight lakhs a year.  With this allowance he was sent into retirement at Bithur, near Cawnpore.  Nana Sahib, notorious for his cruetly in the Mutiny, was the adopted son of Baji Rao II, the last Peshwa.  Lord Hastings, following the Mysore precedent, sought out a descendnat of Sivaji, and presented him with a portion of the Maratha dominion under the title of Raja of Satara.  The rest of the country was annexed to the British dominions, and the Presidency of Bombay thus was extended to nearly its largest dimensions in India proper.  The Bhonsla's territory also was annexed in part, and in part made a protected state.  It now largely forms the Central Provinces.  Holkar, treated with less severity, was allowed to retain the districts which constituted the state of Indore.  The final operation in the war was the capture in 1819 of Asirgarh, the famous stronghold in Khandesh, but the contest had been decided early in 1818.

 Achievement of Lord Hastings.  In the long roll of brilliant Governors-General the name of the Marquess of Hastings deserves a place of the highest honour in virtue of personal acievement.  In October 1817 he was confronted by forces of more than a hundred and fifty thousand men-Pindaris, Marathas, and Pathans-with five hundred guns.  Four months later the power of Sindia was paralysed, that of Holkar broken, the Pathan armies of Amir Khan and Ghafur Khan had ceased to exist, the Raja of Nagpur was a captive, the Peshwa was a fugitive extinguished the Maratha empire, at which Lord Welleley had struck the first blow.  This great and necessary work, by which countless millions were delivered from cruel tyranny, was done by Lord Hastings alone, in the teeth of opposition from colleagues and superiors.

 Fall of the Maratha empire.  The armies defeated by Lord Lake, Sir Arthur Wellesley, and the Marquess of Hastings had little distinct Maratha character, being filled up with Moslems, vagabond Europeans, and rascals of all sorts.  Those armies were closely associated with the purely criminal gangs of Pindari marauders, 'the refuse of the Mahratta armies', as Grant Duff calls them.  The connexion was so close that the operations of the Marquess of Hastings, directed primarily against the Pindari hordes, passed almost insensibly into war with the MAratha Governments.  The Maratha empire thus ended its brief and chequered career.  The first four Peshwas, Balaji Visvanath, Baji Rao I, Balaji Baji Rao, and Madho Rao, had been brave men and able administrators.  But after this, the dynasty collapsed.  Narayan Rao (1772-3) was murdered by his uncle Raghoba just after his accession.  His son Madho Rao Narayan commited suicide.  The death of the great and far-sighted minister, Nana Farnavis, in 1796, was the last
straw.  Baji Rao II was cowardly and dissolute, The battle of Panipat had dealt the Maratha nation a blow from which it never recovered.
 The student should realize that the year 1818 marks an epoch in the history of India.
 Internal administration.  The internal administration of the Marquess achieved notable progress.  Laying down the maxim that 'it would be treason against British sentiment to imagine that it ever could be the principle of this Government to perpectuate ignorance in order to secure paltry and dishonest advantages over the blindness of the multitude', he established and encouraged schools and colleges, adn permitted the issue of the first Indian-language newspaper.  The 'ryotwari' settlement of the Madras territories was carried out by Sir Thomas Munro, and the imperial finances were administered with success and enhanced credit.  Much was done to improve Calcutta; the ancient Jumna canal near Delhi (ante,p.118) was reopened and many other works of public utility were executed.
 Lord Amherst ; Barrackpore mutiny; Bhurtpore.  The government was carried on for seven months after Lord Hasting's departure (I January to August 1823) by Mr.Adam, the senior Member of Council.  He was relieved by Lord Amherst, who,like most of the Governors-General, sought peace and found war.  Before narrating the story of the Burmese war, the principal event of his term of office, we must notice the two other most memorable incidents-the mutiny at Barrackpore and the capture of Bhurtpore.  The mutiny of the 47th Native Infantry at Barrackpore, under the windows of the Governor-General's country house, caused by the unwillingness of the sepooys to proceed to Burma, was sternly supposed (October 1824).  The operations against Bhurtpore arose out of a disputed succession to the pricipality, which rendered necessary the intervention of the Government in India.  It is to be noted that on this occasion the Governor-General in Council stood forth avowedly as 'the paramount power and conservator of the general
peace'.  After a short siege the fortress, before which Lord Lake had failed in 1805 (ante,p.286), was stormed by Lord Combermere, and the general belief that it could never be taken was destroyed (January 1826).
 
First Burmese war.  At about the same time as the English conquered Bengal, an adventurer named Alaungpra(Alompra) founded an aggressive dynasty in Burma (1752-60).  He and his successors extended their conquests into Assam, Cachar, and Manipur, and threatened the British frontier Districts of Sylhet and Chittagong.  The Burmese had an unbounded conceit of themselves, and went so far as to require the Marquess of Hastings to surrender Eastern Bengal, including Dacca and Murshidabad.  In 1824 their defiant seizure of a British outpost compelled Lord Amberst to declare war, which the Burmese awaited with eager confidence.  The Governor-General, who did not possess his predecessor's military genius, was advised that the occupation of the port of Rangoon by a naval expedition would quickly prove decisive.  The occupation was easily effected by a force sent from Madras, but sickness and the want of supplies crippled the troops.  Assam was occupied early in 1825 by General Richards, but attempts to enter Burma overland failed, and a detachment was cut up at Ramu on the Chittagong frontier.  The campaign, as a whole, was badly planned, and much preventible loss was incurred; ultimately, however, when Prome was occupied, and the Burmese capital threatened, the king was forced to sue for peace.  In February 1826 the Treaty of Yandabo was signed, which ceded to Great Britain the provinces of Assam, Arakan, and Tenesserim.  The king further agreed to abstain from all interference in Cachar, Jaintia, and Manipur, and to pay an indemnity.'  Thus, in spite of many errors in planning and execution, the war ended in a triumphant success for British arms, and the acquisition of extensive provinces then little esteemed but now recognized as possessing high value.  The annexation closed up the north-eastern frontier of the empire and protected it against foreign aggression.
   
           The Maratha Wars
     First, 1775-82.  Western Hastings Governor-General ; Convention of Wargaon, 1779; capture of Gwalior, 1780; ended by the Treaty of Salbai, 1782.  (Some writers treat this war as two wars, namely, the first, up to the Treaty of Surat, and the second, from 1779 to 1782)
     Second, 1803.  Lord Wellesley, Governor-General; battles of Assaye, Argaon, adn Laswari; occupation of Delhi; ended by the Treaties of Surji Arjangaon and Deogaon.  War with Holkar, 1805
     Third, 1817-19.  Lord HAstings, Governor-General; battles of Kirki, Sitabaldi, Mahipur, Ashti, and Koregaon; ended by the capture of Asirgarh, and general pacification by nineteen treaties
     Sindia was subsequently defeated in 1843.  His descendant is now Maharaja of Gwalior.
    
                                   THE FAMILY OF THE SEVEN PESHWAS
                                    (1) Balaji Visvanath (1714-20)
                                                   |
                        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        |                                                                                |
          (2) Baji Rao I (1720-40)                                                       Chimnaji Appa (took Bassein)                                           
                        |                                                                                |
                        |
                        |
                        |                                                                                |
                        |                                                                   Sadasheo Rao, the Bhao Sahib   
                        |--------------------------------------------------------------      (killed at Panipat, 1761)
                        |                                                             |
                        |                                                             |
          (3) Balaji Baji Rao (1740-61)                                  Raghoba (Raghunath Rao) 
                        |                                                   (claimant, 1773-4)
   ----------------------------------------------------------                         |
       |                    |                                |                        |
   Visvas Rao      (4) Madho Rao(1761-72)         (5) NArayan Rao (1772-3)            |
(killed at Panipat (Civil war followed his death)   (murdered by Raghoba)             |
                                                             |                        |
                                                  (6) Madho Rao Narayan               |
                                                 (1774-95, committed suicide;         |
                                                    never exercised power)            |
                                                                                      |
                                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  |                                  |                           |
                                           Amirta Rao               (7) Baji Rao II (Dec.1796-1818)         Chimnaji Appa
                                                                                     |
                                                                                Nana Sahib
                                                                      (adopted son, disappeared in 1858)
 












 
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