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Monday, January 1, 2018

Battle of Condore; Regimental pet 'Plassey' and more ..

History is always   interesting  (not when read in school !) ~ and perhaps what was read in school curriculam was a miniscule part that too a tinted version .. so much is available in the web and today read something  interesting .  The South of India had not been subjected to as many invasions as seen and fought in the North and battles down here too are not many .. for sure would have read of Battle of Plassey, Wandiwash – ever heard of Battle of Condore ??

The  last mutterings of war had hardly died out in Bengal before they were renewed in Madras. In that region, indeed, the Peace of Paris had left matters on 1763.   In Bengal, indeed, as has been told, Clive obtained for the East India Company in 1765 practically the independent sovereignty of Bengal, Orissa, and Behar ; and at the same time, with his usual foresight, he procured for the Madras Presidency a similar tenure of the Northern Circars, which had been won by the genius of Forde. But the Madras Government went out of its way to make a fresh treaty with Nizam Ali, whereby it agreed to hold the Northern Circars as tributary to the very authority from which those territories had formerly been wrested, and in prejudice of which Clive had obtained independent rule over them for the Company. Not unnaturally Mohammed Ali resented this submission of the British to Nizam Ali ; for he felt that, if this pageant of a Viceroy could grant away the Northern Circars to them, he might do the like in favour of some other party with Arcot. Moreover, always full of ambitious schemes, Mohammed Ali was already aiming at the sovereignty of the Deccan and of Southern India for it was of course impossible for him to compass this end unaided.   

Robert Clive, a true statesman, saw in it a useful counterpoise to the Mahrattas, and thought that good policy dictated a friendly attitude towards it so long as it should be kept within reasonable bounds ; but in the Council of Madras there was little statesmanship, only infirmity of purpose, enfeebled still further by corruption. The remainder of the parties interested were all at cross-purposes. Mohammed Ali wished to depose both Hyder Ali and Nizam Ali, and to take Southern India for himself. Nizam Ali, much incensed by Hyder's conquests in the region of Sera, was negotiating with the Mahrattas for the object of arranging a joint attack with them upon him ; while simultaneously he was concluding a treaty with the British.  With his usual duplicity Nizam Ali was intriguing either to turn the British against Hyder, or to set Hyder against the British and Mohammed Ali, or to accomplish both of these objects in succession. Had it not been that, as coming events were shortly to prove, the Madras Government possessed an illimitable capacity for foolishness, it would be almost beyond belief that it should have allowed itself to be duped into so ridiculous a position.

One may not agree or like this part of history, which was never taught in school books, but extracted as it is from the book : History of British Army - Sir John William Fortescue vol-3. Moving away,  a few years back in Republic Day parade, saw a goat (well dressed) in Police group and later learnt it to be a mascot.  There are military mascots too, primarily pet animals maintained by Military Unit as a mascot for ceremonial purposes and representing as an emblem of that unit.  Regimental mascots, however, are different from military animals as they would not be used in warfare or for transporting.. ..

Of the forces (comprising of Indians too) that ensured capturing and rule by British East India Company and later that of the Queen of England, Madras Army was prominent in these parts.  The Madras Army of the East India Company came into being through the need to protect the Company's commercial interests. These were mostly untrained guards, with only some bearing arms. The French attack and capture of Madras in 1746 forced the British to raise well-trained military units to conduct operations, conquer territory, and force allegiance from local rulers.

The loosely organised military units were later combined into battalions with Indian officers commanding local troops. One of the first major actions fought by these troops was in the battle of Wandiwash in 1760.(when  Sujatha wrote a story on Clive and battle of Arcot, the hero was local Vijayakumaran)  A  good part of the force was sent to Bengal under young Clive, who made history and a personal fortune after the Battle of Plassey.

The 102nd  Regiment of Foot (Royal Madras Fusiliers) was a regiment of the British Army raised by  East India Company in 1742. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 103rd Regiment of Foot in 1881 to form the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.  It saw action at the Siege of Arcot in autumn 1751 during the Second Carnatic War and went on to fight at the Battle of Plassey in June 1757, the Battle of Condore in December 1758 and the Battle of Wandiwash in January 1760 during the Seven Years' War.  Now this post is on - Plassey', the pet tiger of the Royal Madras Fusiliers.

The regimental pet of the 102nd  Regiment of Foot (Royal Madras Fusiliers) was a Bengal tiger cub called 'Plassey'. He was named after Robert Clive's famous victory of 1757, which was also a battle honour of the Madras Fusiliers. Indeed, the cap badge of their regiment also depicted a tiger, a beast much respected for its strength, grace and power. 'Plassey' was one of a pair of tigers captured by Captain Frank Thackwell of the 5th  Lancers, and presented by him to the Madras Fusiliers. Legend has it that 'Plassey' was fairly tame and even on friendly terms with the other regimental pets in India, an antelope and a dog. In 1868, after 233 years of Indian service, the 102nd  were shipped to England for the first time. 'Plassey' came with them and was certainly well behaved on the voyage home from India, when he was in the company of two young leopards. On arrival, he lived unchained with the garrison at Dover, but apparently alarmed the local inhabitants on several occasions. He was reluctantly sent to the local zoological gardens, where he eventually died. The photo here is owned by : National Army Museum UK (

Now if you remember the name still, G. Konduru (Gaddamanugu Konduru) is a village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.  The Battle of Condore took place near Masulipatam on 9 December 1758 during the Third Carnatic War, part of the Seven Years' War. An Anglo-Indian force under the command of Colonel Francis Forde attacked and defeated a similarly sized French force under the command of Hubert de Brienne, Comte de Conflans, capturing all their baggage and artillery. The victory allowed the British to lay siege to Masulipatam, which they stormed on 25 January 1759.

It is recorded that in Sept 1758, Bussy, commanding a French corps in Deccan, was recalled with his troop to reinforce Lally and support him for the siege of Madras. The only French military presence in this region now consisted of a very small corps under M. de Conflans occupying the Northern Circars. A  local rajah revolted against the French. Clive sent 2,600 men under lieutenant-colonel Forde in an expedition against Deccan.  In Dec - Forde's and Conflans' army faced each other on the road leading south to Rajahmundry.  To break the plan of French, Forde, made  a detour of 5 km to Condore with his own troops met the rajah's troops in full flight and rallied them, after which the whole force pursued its march and at 8:00 am arrived at Condore.

Conflans, thinking that he had defeated Forde's entire army, followed him quickly,  as soon as the British forces had occupied Condore, the French army appeared 1 km in their rear moving towards Forde's left flank.  Natural to deduct that Indians died in hundreds fighting for both the rivals, which would remain unaccounted, unheralded and not properly recorded too.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1st Jan 2018.

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