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Chapter 15 – From 1734 to 1739

Transcriber note: This chapter was designated as the second of two instances of Chapter XV, and will continue to be published here as Chapter XV.

Mahrattas affairs – Rughoojee Bhonslay is appointed Sena Sahib Soobeh – Affairs of the Concan – of Sawunt – Angria – Unsuccessful campaigns of the Pritee Needhee against the Seedee – Revolution at Jinjeera – Peishwa returns from Malwa – proceedings – Arrangements made in the Concan – Mulharjee Holkar’s incursions – policy of the vizier Khan Dowran – Nizam Ool Moolk courted by the Emperor – Muzuffir Khan marches against the Mahrattas – Holkar’s conduct towards him – Holkar continues levying contributions – makes an incursion into Guzerat – Momin Khan appointed governor of that province – Bajee Rao’s pecuniary embarrassments – Negotiations with the imperial court – obtains an assignment on Malwa, and a tribute from the Rajpoots – further negotiations – obtains the Surdeshpandeegeeree of the Deccan – Nizam Ool Moolk resolves on assisting the Emperor against the Mahrattas – Preparations of the Moghuls – and of Bajee Rao – Sadut Khan drives the Mahrattas across the Jumna – Bajee Rao appears at the gates of Delhi – operations – retires – returns to the Deccan – Circumstances regarding Angria, which led to a war with the Portuguese, and the invasion of Salsette – The Peishwa is called off to Malwa, to oppose Nizam Ool Moolk – who, joined by the imperial army, advances from Delhi – Baja Rao surrounds Nizam Ool Moolk at Bhopaul – forces him into terms – their nature – Prosecution of hostilities against the Portuguese – conduct of the English – its causes – progress of the Mahrattas – War between the Peishwa and Rughoojee Bhonslay – Disastrous intelligence from Delhi, occasioned by the arrival and proceedings of Nadir Shah – Chimnajee Appa prosecutes a successful war against the Portuguese – Memorable siege of Bassein – Nadir Shah retires from Delhi.

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I have thus endeavoured to show the steps by which the Mahrattas spread themselves in Guzerat, and established a footing in Malwa; their domestic policy, their affairs in regard to Berar and the Concan, now claim our attention: before we return to their operations in Malwa, or enter on the more important proceedings, which the present chapter will record.

During the Peishwa’s absence, Kanhojee Bhonslay, the Sena Sahib Soobeh, had been accused of disobedience, and confined at Satara; and Rughoojee, the son of Kanhojee’s cousin Bembajee, had been appointed to the situation of Sena Sahib Soobeh in his stead. Rughoojee had served with a small party of horse, both under his relation Kanhojee, and with one of the petty Mahomedan537 princes in Gondwaneh; his station was too humble to bring him into general notice, but he had, in a confined sphere, distinguished himself by superior intelligence, activity, and spirit. The particulars of the intrigue by which Kanhojee Bhonslay was deprived of his title and Jagheer, are not known, but from the selection of Rughoojee as his successor, agreeably to the choice of the Raja, it is probable that Bajee Rao had no share in it. Rughoojee had accompanied Shao in his excursions, and from being a very bold and expert hunter, had ingratiated himself with the Raja, and obtained a great ascendancy over him. Shao married him to the sister of one of his own wives, of the Sirkay family, which, except their having the

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same surname, and that they may possibly538 have been originally relations and rivals for the hereditary right of Patell of their village, is the only connection which can be traced between the families of Satara and Nagpoor.

On receiving the Sunnuds for Berar, Rughoojee gave a bond to maintain a body of five thousand horse for the service of the state; to pay an annual sum of nine lacks of rupees; and, exclusive of Ghas-dana, a tribute which the Sena Sahib Soobeh since the time of Raja Ram had been allowed to reserve, the half only of all other tribute, prize property, and contributions, was to be accounted for to the head of the government. He also bound himself, to raise ten thousand horse when required, and to accompany the Peishwa, or to proceed to any quarter where he might be ordered.

This arrangement was effected during the absence of Sreeput Rao Pritee Needhee, who had been sent into the Concan by the Raja. The Pritee Needhee, being the friend of Kanhojee Bhonslay, endeavoured to obtain some mitigation of his sentence, and proposed that Akola and Balapoor, in Berar Payeen Ghaut, should be restored, on condition of his maintaining two hundred horse; but it does not appear that this arrangement was carried into effect. Kanhojee was an officer of great enterprize; he had made some partial conquests in Gondwaneh, and headed one incursion into Kuttack.

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He died at Satara, after having lived there many years a prisoner at large.

Whether Nizam Ool Moolk had made any preparations in consequence of these dissensions, is uncertain; but Chimnajee Appa conceived, or affected to believe, that he meditated an attack. He, therefore, pitched his camp about forty miles east of Satara, leaving Peelajee Jadow with an inconsiderable body of horse; being the only troops at Satara, in the immediate interest of the Peishwa.

When Bajee Rao advanced into Malwa, it was his design to engage the Raja’s mind with petty affairs in the Concan. Divisions of authority, contending factions, and the turbulent disposition of some of its inhabitants, afforded ample field, within the small tract from Goa to Bombay, for engaging and fatiguing attention; but as these authorities had also a large share in the transactions of the Bombay government during the last century, they demand, as a record of our own history, particular enumeration. Sawunt, the principal Deshmookh of Waree occupied his hereditary territory in that quarter, but having suffered from Kanhojee Angria’s attacks, prior to the late peace between the Rajas of Satara and Kolapoor, he bore an enmity to Angria’s family ever after.

Kanhojee Angria’s death happened about the end of the year 1728539. During his life, all attempts at reducing his power proved fruitless. The Bombay government, incensed at his piracies and contumelious conduct, joined with the Portuguese

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in an expedition against Kolabah. The land forces furnished by that nation, and three English ships of the line, under commodore Matthews, co-operated, but the attempt failed, owing to the cowardice of the Portuguese. This expedition took place in 1722, and two years afterwards, the Dutch with seven ships, two bomb vessels, and a body of troops, made an attempt on Viziadroog, at that time better known by its Moghul name of Gheriah; but this attack also failed. Angria seized many English vessels, and about a year before his death, took the Darby, a ship richly laden, belonging to the East India Company. The crews of his vessels, like all Mahrattas when successful, became very daring, and his forts on the coast were considered impregnable540.

Kanhojee Angria left two legitimate, and three illegitimate sons. The two former succeeded to his possessions; the elder, named Sukkajee, remained at Kolabah, and the younger, Sumbhajee, resided at Severndroog. The elder died a short time after his father, and Sumbhajee, keeping with him the eldest of his half-brothers, appointed the other two to the charge of Kolabah. The eldest of these, Yessajee, had charge of the interior management, whilst Mannajee commanded the naval and military establishment. The latter, some time after, having quarrelled with his family, sought protection and assistance from the Portuguese; and having obtained the aid of some troops, he escaladed Kolabah, and carried it sword in hand. He cruelly

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put out the eyes of his brother Yessajee, and confined him, for which Sumbhajee, as soon as the Portuguese retired, attacked him. Mannajee, however, having obtained aid from Bajee Rao, compelled Sumbhajee to raise the siege, and in consequence of the assistance afforded, ceded the forts of Kootla and Rajmachee to the Peishwa541.

The Seedee, who at this time was chief of Jinjeera, had held that situation for several years, with the old Moghul title of Yakoot Khan. The districts which had been placed under the Seedees charge by Aurungzebe, including Mhar, Raigurh, Dabul, and Anjenweel, had been defended against every effort of the Mahrattas, and frequently, in consequence of their inroads, the Seedee levied contributions from Shao’s districts. As force was not likely to prevail, the Pritee Needhee, Jewajee Khunde Rao Chitnees, and others of the Raja’s ministers, formed schemes for ruining the Seedee by intrigue. A person named Yacoob Khan, well known in those times as one of the most daring pirates on the coast, and distinguished by his familiar appellation of Shaikjee, possessed the entire confidence of the Seedee. This man was a descendant of the Koolee Rajas of the Concan, and hereditary Patell of Goagurh in one of the incursions of the Seedees, he was, when a child, taken prisoner, and bred a Mussulman. At a very early period he distinguished himself, and on getting command of a ship, became as celebrated for his stratagem as his bravery. The Pritee Needhee

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gained this Shaik Yacoob, and entered into a secret treaty with him, by which he was to receive the command of the fleet, the whole of the Seedee’s possessions, with the exception of some forts, several villages in Enam, and the Surgounda542, or two per cent. of the whole revenue of the lower Concan, from the river Penn to the boundary of the Kolapoor territory. His brother was to be appointed second in command at Raigurh, and one lack of rupees was to be distributed as a largess amongst the troops, and crews of the vessels, in case of success in affecting a revolution543.

To aid this scheme, a force was sent into the Concan, in 1733, under the Pritee Needhee, his Mootaliq Yemmajee Sewdeo, and Oodajee Chowan; the intrigues, for reasons which are not explained, were unsuccessful, but a war ensued, the effects of which fell principally upon the helpless peasantry. Little impression could be made on the Seedee’s garrisons; the Pritee Needhee, after many months, was finally worsted, and when encamped at Chiploon, the fort of Goelkot, although strongly garrisoned, was disgracefully surprised and taken, Chimnajee Appa incurred the Raja’s displeasure for not sending assistance to Sreeput Rao after repeated orders544, and Shao at last told him, “if

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you do not I must go myself545.” Peelajee Jadow was at length despatched, but none of the other officers at Satara would undertake to support the Pritee Needhee, except on condition of receiving the conquered districts in Jagheer; he was, therefore, compelled to return to Satara with great loss of reputation. About this time, the chief at Jinjeera died, leaving several sons, the eldest of whom, Seedee Abdoollah, was murdered by his brothers, supported by other conspirators, with the view of usurping the government in prejudice to Seedee Rehman, one of the brothers not in Jinjeera at the time of the murder, and who bore no part in the conspiracy.


Yacoob Khan immediately embraced the Pa the cause of Seedee Rehman, and called on Shao for support, but nothing could be done until the return of Bajee Rao, who after leaving Holkar and Sindia with a large body of cavalry in Malwa, returned to the Deccan, and on crossing the Godavery, intimated to the Raja that he should march straight to Dhunda Rajepoor. All the disposable infantry were directed to join

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the Peishwa, and Peelajee Jadow was sent off reinforced with a body of the Pagah horse, to support Mulhar Rao Holkar in Malwa.

Seedee Rehman and Yacoob Khan joined Bajee Rao, who commenced operations by attacking some of the forts. Futih Sing Bhonslay, and the Pritee Needhee proceeded to co-operate; but the only assistance which they rendered was the recovery of Sivajee’s capital, Raigurh, the Killidar of which had been previously corrupted by Shaik Yacoob. The Peishwa reduced the forts of Tala and Gossala; but his further progress was interrupted by the advance of Seedee Rehan, one of the brothers, at the head of a body of troops from, Jinjeera. They attacked the Peishwa vigorously, but could not prevail over the numerous forces of the Mahrattas. Seedee Rehan was killed, and his troops were pursued to Dhunda Rajepoor. Batteries were erected against Jinjeera, whilst Mannajee Angria assailed it from the sea.

The operation of cannonading Jinjeera, had been repeated from the time of Sumbhajee, every year the Mahrattas were in possession of Dhunda Rajepoor. Bajee Rao perceived the impracticability of reducing it, at least for many months; and as he foresaw many bad consequences from remaining in the Concan, he listened to overtures made by the besieged, entered into a treaty, by which they recognised the pretensions of Seedee Rehman, gave up half the revenues of eleven Mahals546 to him,

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and ceded the forts of Raigurh, Tula, Gossala, Oochitgurh and Beerwaree to the Mahrattas.

Upon this successful termination of hostilities, Bajee Rao with additional power and influence, returned to Satara, and was appointed Soobehdar of the late acquisitions547.

After Bajee Rao’s return to the Deccan, the troops of Mulhar Rao Holkar made incursions beyond Agra. Khan Dowran, the vizier of Mohummud Shah, attempted to check the progress of the Mahrattas, rather by the pen than the sword; forgetting that all negotiations with a predatory state, without previously punishing its aggressions, only tend to excite further depredation. He laid plans for obtaining the aid of Nizam Ool Moolk without appearing to solicit it; a conduct little less inconsistent than that of the fickle emperor, who now earnestly courted him; but the Nizam was nursing his resources, and the period had not yet arrived, when he could perceive that his presence at Delhi would be hailed as that of the saviour of the empire.

Khan Dowran’s attempts were feeble, but his preparations were always splendid; all Delhi was in bustle when his expeditions set out; but they commenced in bombast and ended in ridicule. His brother, Muzuffir Khan, moved forth to drive the plunderers and robbers across the Nerbuddah.

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Holkar sent a few of his light troops to molest his march during the day, and to throw rockets into his camp during the night; but he never allowed himself to be interrupted in the collection of contributions, in which he was employed, for the purpose of endeavouring to satisfy the importunate demands of his master the Peishwa, whose pecuniary distress had become very great. Muzuffir Khan advanced as far as Seronje, whence he returned, and was received at Delhi as if he had performed signal services, acquiring fame among his friends, by the contempt of his enemies. The province of Malwa, and the country south of the Chumbul, although some of the forts remained in possession of the imperial officers, were completely overrun, and the Rohillas, as well as the Mahrattas, took possession of several places548. Kantajee Kuddum Bhanday, who the year before, had been constrained by the power of Dummajee Gaekwar to quit Guzerat, persuaded Holkar to make an incursion into that province, where they appeared unexpectedly; levied contributions as far as the Bunass; plundered several towns to the north of Ahmedabad, amongst which were Eder and Pulhanpoor549, and departed as suddenly as they had come.

Abhee Sing was shortly after removed from the government of Guzerat, and Nujeeb-ud-Dowlah, Momin Khan, was appointed to officiate, but the deputy of Abhee Sing would not evacuate the city of Ahmedabad, and Momin Khan was at last.

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obliged to court an alliance with Dummajee, in order to expel him.


Bajee Rao owing to the vast army he had kept up, both to secure his conquests, and to overcome his rivals, had become greatly involved in debts. His troops were in arrears, the Soucars, (or Bankers,) to whom he already owed a personal debt of many lacks of rupees, refused to make any further advances, and he complained bitterly of the constant mutinies and clamours in his camp, which occasioned him much vexation and distress550. He levied the Chouth and Surdeshmookhee in Malwa, and applied, through Raja Jey Sing, for their formal cession in that province; and likewise for a confirmation of the deeds, granted by Sur Boolund Khan, for Guzerat. The Tooranee Moghuls, who formed a considerable party in the ministry, were decidedly against a compromise so disgraceful; Khan Dowran and the emperor, by whom it had been already tacitly yielded, were disposed, by the advice of Jey Sing, to acknowledge the title in due form; but, in the

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course of the negotiation, which ensued between the imperial minister and the Peishwa, both parties went beyond their original intentions, and hastened the advancing reconciliation between Mohummud Shah and Nizam Ool Moolk.

The emperor, in the first instance, agreed to relinquish, in the form of an assignment, thirteen lacks of rupees, of the revenue of the districts south of the Chumbul, for the ensuing season, payable by three instalments, at stated periods; and to grant an authority to the Peishwa, to levy a tribute from the Rajpoot states, from Boondee and Kotah on the west, to Budawur on the east, fixing the annual amount at ten lacks, and sixty thousand rupees. The latter concession Khan Dowran probably expected, was more likely to create enmity, than to establish friendship, between the Mahrattas and the Rajpoots. This minister imagined himself superior to a Mahratta Bramin in political artifice, and continued to negociate, when he should have had no thought but to chastise, The Raja Jey Sing was the medium through whom Khan Dowran sent an envoy of his own, named Yadgar Khan, to treat with Bajee Rao. The Sunnuds for the Chouth, and Surdeshmookhee were secretly prepared, and given to the agent, with instructions to reserve them; but Dhondoo Punt Poorundhuree, the Peishwa’s wukeel, residing with Khan Dowran, discovered this preliminary admission, and apprized Bajee Rao of the circumstance. Mahrattas, in every negotiation, invariably begin by requiring much more than they expect. If they find their proposal acceded to,

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they rise in their pretensions, and very often, from a tone of the most obsequious complaisance, assume an overbearing insolence of manner, and a style of pointed threat and menace, which, to those who have only seen them submissive, is scarcely conceivable.

Bajee Rao’s demands now exceeded all bounds; at different stages, during the discussions, he required the whole provinces of Malwa in Jagheer; the Rohillas who had established themselves, to be dispossessed; the forts of Mandoo, Dhar, and Raiseen; the Jagheer and Foujdaree of the whole tract south of the Chumbul; fifty lacks of rupees from the royal treasury, or an equivalent assignment on Bengal; Allahabad, Benares, Gya, and Muttra in Jagheer, and an hereditary right as Surdeshpandya of the six Soobehs of the Deccan551.

All these concessions were evaded by the emperor, excepting the last; to that he acceded, on Bajee Rao’s agreeing to pay a fee of six lacks of rupees. This grant was precisely similar to that of the Surdeshmookhee, but coinciding with the proportion of the emoluments of Deshmookh and Deshpandya: those of the Surdeshmookhee being ten, the Surdeshpandeegeeree was five per cent. This grant, however fell upon the Deccan; it was a stroke levelled at Nizam Ool Moolk, by Khan Dowran, and had the immediate effect of rousing the Nizam’s jealousy, whilst encouragement from the Moghul faction, and pressing invitations from Mohummud Shah, to repair to Delhi and save the

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empire, at length induced Nizam Ool Moolk, to think of turning the scale against his predatory allies. In the mean time negotiations produced no cessation of activity on the part of Bajee Rao, and his demands were so exorbitant, that it was determined, after protracted consultations, to assemble a vast army, by the mere display of which, it seemed, as if they expected to annihilate the Mahrattas. The plains in the neighbourhood of the capital, were accordingly covered with tents, and the preparations were as splendid as the operations proved feeble. The Peishwa, on hearing that Khan Dowran, and Kummur-ud-deen Khan, each at the head of a great army, had advanced towards Muttra, deposited his heavy baggage with his ally Juggut Raj in Bundlecund, and advanced to a position on the banks of the Jumna, forty miles south of Agra. He had attacked the Raja of Budawur, for refusing to settle his claims, and levied contributions in every direction. Mulhar Rao Holkar, Peelajee Jadow, and Wittoojee Bolay committed great depredations in the Dooab, until driven across the Jumna by Sadut Khan, who marched from Oude, and unexpectedly assailed the Mahrattas. He wrote an exaggerated account of his success to court, stating that he had wounded Mulhar Rao Holkar, killed Wittoojee Bolay, and driven the whole Mahratta army across the Chumbul; that two thousand were killed, and two thousand were drowned in the Jumna. On Sadut Khan’s arrival at Agra, Bajee Rao quitted his ground on the banks of the Jumda, and moved to a more open country in a north-east direction; his

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former position being confined by the Chumbul on his left flank, and his camp intersected by deep ravines; very unfavourable to his mode of fighting552.

Sadut Khan’s account of his success, as written by himself to the emperor, was communicated to Bajee Rao by his wukeel, who remained with Khan Dowran, until the latter, accompanied by Mohummud Khan Bungush, joined Sadut Khan at Agra, when, by the advice of the latter, the wukeel was dismissed. Nothing was talked of in Delhi but the hero Sadut Khan, who had driven the Mahrattas back to the Deccan. “I was resolved,” says Bajee Rao, “to tell the emperor truth, to prove that I was still in Hindoostan, and to show him flames and Mahrattas at the gates of his capital.”

Six days before Khan Dowan joined Sadut Khan, Bajee Rao, foreseeing that they would unite, was on his march to Delhi. Quitting the great road and skirting the hills of Mehwat, where they formed the boundary of the territory of Chooramun Jath, and keeping fourteen miles to the left of Oorlass553, where Kummur-ud-deen Khan was encamped, he advanced at the rate of forty miles daily, and pitched his camp close to the suburbs. Some elephants and camels, coming out

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of the city were seized, and a party of Hindoos when going to a temple for the performance of a religious ceremony were stripped554, but the Peishwa prudently abandoned his first intention of plundering and burning; as he conceived the booty might retard his retreat, and that burning the suburbs would but show a disrespect and contempt which would impede his negotiations with the emperor and Khan Dowran, both of whom he well knew were disposed to grant a large share of his demands. He therefore next day wrote two letters, one to the emperor, and the other to Raja Bukht Mull. Their purport is not mentioned, but the emperor requested that a wukeel might be sent, which Bajee Rao refused, unless a guard came out for his protection. He, however, returned a polite message, stating “that as he apprehended mischief to the city, from the contiguity of his troops, he was about to retire to the Jheel Tank.” This moderation encouraged a party of eight thousand men, &in the city, under Muzuffir Khan, Meer Hoossein Khan Kokah, Raja Sew Sing, and other nobles of the court, to venture forth and attack the Mahrattas. Bajee Rao despatched Suttojee Jadow with a few skirmishers to reconnoitre them; and upon Suttojee’s sending notice, that they were coming out to attack him, Mulharjee Holkar, followed by Ranoojee Sindia, immediately wheeled about, fell upon them, killed and wounded upwards of six hundred, drove them back into the city, and took two thousand of their horses, and

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one elephant. Raja Sew Sing was amongst the slain, and Meer Hoossein Khan Kokah was mortally wounded.

The Mahrattas lost very few men, and had only one officer555 wounded. This action was soon over, and Bajee Rao was about to refresh his men when the army of Kummur-ud-deen Khan came in sight. Bajee Rao had a skirmish with him, but as night was approaching, and as he perceived that the enemy was supported by troops from the city as well as by Khan Dowran and Sadut Khan, who were close at hand, he determined to retreat, and before morning moved eight miles to the westward of the late field of battle. In the skirmish with Kummur-ud-deen Khan, the Peishwa lost thirty men. Khan Dowran and Sadut Khan effected a junction with Kummur-ud-deen Khan on the following morning; and Bajee Rao retreated towards Gwalior, by the route of Rewaree and Mundawar, both of which he plundered, and was neither interrupted nor pursued. It was Bajee Rao’s intention to cross the Jumna, and plunder the Dooab before the rains; but being apprehensive that Nizam Ool Moolk might interrupt him before he could collect the revenue in Malwa, he ordered his brother to watch the Nizam’s preparations556:

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and, “if he attempt,” says the Peishwa’s letter, “to cross the Rewa (Nerbuddah), fall instantly on his rear and put heel ropes upon him557.”

No opportunity presented itself of crossing the Jumna, and as his presence became requisite in the Deccan, Bajee Rao, upon a promise of obtaining the government of Malwa, and thirteen lacks of rupees, again sent his wukeel to Khan Dowran, and set out on his return to Satara, where he paid his respects to the Raja, and immediately proceeded into the Concan.


The Portuguese, who had assisted in taking Kolabah, not having received some districts promised to them, in the neighbourhood of Rewadunda, now appeared, as the allies of Sumbhajee Angria, against Mannajee, in another attack upon Kolabah. The Peishwa was sent to repel this attempt, in which he succeeded, took Mannajee under his protection, on condition of his paying the yearly sum of seven thousand rupees, and presenting annually to the Raja, foreign articles from Europe or China558, to the value of three thousand rupees more. The war with the Portuguese led to the invasion of Salsette. Visajee Punt Leiley, a Carcoon in the service of the Peishwa, corrupted some natives in the Portuguese service559. The Mahrattas first possessed themselves

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of a small fort560 on the opposite side of the river from Bassein, on the night of the 6th April, put the commandant with his garrison to the sword, and occupied the river, so as to prevent all succour from Bassein to the other forts on the island; numbers of their troops crossed on the seventh, and the fortifications of Tannah being then unfinished, and a whole curtain wanting, the Portuguese governor of Salsette, Don Lewis Botelho, who was there, without attempting to defend it himself, called a council of war, and decided on retiring to Caranja, leaving Captain John de Souza Pereira to defend the fort, and Captain John de Souza Ferraz to command the garrison of Bandora, opposite to Mahim, Pereira behaved with spirit, and gallantly repulsed two assaults, in the last of which he was severely wounded; but the officer who succeeded him, having been seized with a panic, when there was no enemy in sight, shamefully took to flight. The English, at Bombay, interested in the defence of Bandora, sent both men and ammunition to that post; but, on other occasions, declared their neutrality561. The Peishwa, to secure these conquests, and to maintain the war against the Portuguese, entertained some Arabs, and a very large body of infantry, principally Mawulees and Hetkurees, But news from Delhi obliged him to withdraw a part of his forces from the Concan.

The emperor, having at last prevailed on Nizam

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Ool Moolk to repair to court, the government of Malwa and Guzerat were restored to him, but in the name of his eldest son, Ghazee-ud-deen; the conditions were, that he should drive the Mahrattas from those provinces, and every inducement that could flatter his ambition, or stimulate his avarice, was held out to prevail upon him to undertake this service in person.

The fullest powers were granted by the emperor for assembling all the tributary Rajas under his standard, whose forces, added to his own troops, enabled him to take the field with thirty-four thousand men, under his personal command, and a train of artillery, accounted the best in India. Abool Munsoor Khan Sufdur Jung562, nephew of Sadut Khan, and the Raja of Kotah, covered his rear. The Nizam began operations with abundant caution, crossed over into the Dooab, and kept the Jumna on his right flank, recrossed the river at Kalpee, obliged the Rajas of Bundelcund to join him, and advanced into Malwa.

Bajee Rao assembled all the troops he could collect, and by the time he reached the Nerbuddah, found himself at the head of an army, estimated at eighty thousand men563. Neither Yeswunt Rao Dhabaray, nor any of the Senaputtee’s officers, joined him; and Rughoojee Bhonslay evaded the

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order, under pretence that he apprehended an invasion of Berar.


When Bajee Rao crossed the Nerbuddah, Nizam Ool Moolk was at Seronje. The two armies met near Bhopaul, in the month of January; when the Nizam, instead of advancing at once on his adversary, took up a strong position in the neighbourhood of the fort of Bhopaul, with a tank in his rear, and a rivulet in his front564. This extreme caution may be said to have decided the fate of the war; the Mahrattas, who had approached under some alarm, no sooner fancied themselves superior, than they in fact became so. They insulted the Nizam in his lines; and when a part of his army chose their own position for battle, the Mahrattas attacked them with vigour. The action was principally maintained on the part of Nizam Ool Moolk, by the Rajpoots, under the son of Raja Jey Sing, supported by the troops from Bundelcund, and the neighbouring Rajas; all of whom, except the Raja of Boondee, had united with Nizam Ool Moolk. The Rajpoots lost about five hundred men, and seven hundred horses; the Mahratta loss was principally from the fire of the artillery, and estimated, by the Peishwa himself, at one hundred killed, and three hundred wounded. Ranoojee Sindia, Peelajee Jadow, and Syajee Goozur, were the officers who led the Mahratta troops into action. The Peishwa, during the engagement, was within two rockets flight of the

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Nizam, anxiously watching an opportunity, in hopes that he would quit the strong ground on which he stood, when it was Bajee Rao’s intention to have made an effort to cut him off; but in this he was disappointed. No decisive advantage was gained by the Mahrattas during the attack; but the Nizam recalled his troops, and allowed himself to be hemmed in on all sides; provisions and forage soon became exceedingly scarce; a detachment from the army under Sufdur Jung, and the Raja of Kotah, was intercepted and defeated, with the loss of fifteen hundred men, by Mulhar Rao Holkar, and Yeswunt Rao Powar. Sufdur Jung retreated, and the Mahrattas exulting, straitened the army at Bhopaul, cut off their supplies, and kept them on the alert day and night. Dispirited by privation, and harassed by tiresome watching, many of the troops, especially the Rajpoots, would have deserted, but Bajee Rao would admit of no overtures; he now had an opportunity of showing his superiority to all India, and well knew, that as long as the blockade could be secured, the greater the numbers the greater their straits. It seemed unaccountable to Bajee Rao how Nizam Ool Moolk should have thus put himself into his power. “The nabob,” says the Peishwa in a letter to his brother, “is both an old man and a man of experience, how he has got himself into this difficulty I cannot comprehend; it will ruin him in the opinion of all at Delhi.”

Preparations were made both in Hindoostan and in the Deccan to effect his relief: Khan Dowran, perhaps, saw the distress of his rival with secret

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pleasure; and the emperor’s command, not to advance until he should march in person, was an intimation to Bajee Rao that he had nothing to apprehend from the northward. The Nizam’s principal hopes of succour were from the Deccan; troops were assembled both at Hyderabad and Aurungabad, by his second son, Nasir Jung, whom he had left as his deputy; and messengers were secretly despatched from the camp at Bhopaul to hasten their march.

Bajee Rao, on the other hand, exerted himself with the utmost earnestness to prevent their approach; he wrote, beseeched, and threatened Rughoojee Bhonslay, without effect; he entreated the Raja to compel the Senaputtee, then at Sonegurh, near Surat, to join him; and Shao, to that end, wrote a peremptory mandate with his own hand. Chimnajee Appa took post on the Taptee, and the intended relief for the Nizam assembled at Phoolmurry565, north of Aurungabad. The Peishwa urged his brother in the strongest manner to collect every man he could: “bring up Futih Sing Bhonslay, Sumbhoo Sing Jadow, and the Sur Lushkur, from the southward; if Dhabaray, Gaekwar, and Bhanday, are not on their march to join me, let them take post with you on the Taptee; let every Mahratta join, and one grand and united effort may make us masters of the Deccan.”

The Nizam made an attempt to move, but owing to the encumbrance of heavy baggage and stores, he was compelled to return; his troops, in retiring

Page 541

to their former ground, were driven under the walls, or crowded within the fortifications of Bhopaul. Bajee Rao, from the want of artillery, could not effect a breach, but he poured in such a shower of rockets, and so galled the Moghuls with matchlocks, that Nizam Ool Moolk determined on making a last effort to extricate himself: He deposited his baggage in Bhopaul and Islamgurh, and began his retreat under cover of a powerful artillery, and a number of swivels mounted on camels. The Mahrattas charged the guns, but failed in taking them. The retreat, however, was only at the rate of three miles a day. The Mahrattas acted vigorously, but began to be discouraged by the execution from the guns566;

11 February 1738

at last, the Nizam, on the twenty-fourth day from the commencement of the attack, about the 11th February, was compelled to sign a convention at Dooraee Suraee, near Seronje, promising, in his own hand-writing, to grant to Bajee Rao the whole of Malwa, and the complete sovereignty of the territory between the Nerbuddah and the Chumbul; to obtain a confirmation of it from the emperor, and to use every endeavour to procure the payment of a subsidy of fifty lacks of rupees, to defray the Peishwa’s expenses567. “I tried hard,” says

Page 542

Bajee Rao, “to get something from the nabob himself; but this I scarcely expected, I recollected his unwillingness to part with money when I entered on an agreement to assist him;” alluding to their compact six years before.

The Peishwa remained for a time levying contributions south of the Chumbul; and carrying on negotiations at court, where the threatening invasion of Nadir Shah, at that time besieging Candahar, although mentioned by Mahomedan writers as an apology for the Nizam’s failure against the Mahrattas, had as yet, excited little alarm at court, and the inhabitants of Delhi, like all enervated and selfish people, were as careless of danger at a distance, as terrified and helpless on its approach.

In the mean time the war in the Concan was maintained against the Portuguese; to keep them in check, a body of horse had been sent down towards Goa, under Wenkut Rao Narrain Ghorepuray; and Khundoojee Mankur, in the northern Concan, laid siege to the fort of Asseeree, near Tarrapoor; but, Don Antonio Cardim Frois, an officer of reputation; had superseded the late governor of Bassein and Salsette, and exerted himself with some success in the recovery of their possessions. Colonel Pedro de Mello, with about five hundred Europeans, and four thousand Portuguese, natives of India, attacked Khundoojee

Page 543

Mankur, stormed and destroyed the batteries at Asseeree, and was preparing to make a great effort for the recovery of Tannah. The governor of Bombay apprized the Mahrattas of the intended expedition, and advised them to make peace with the Portuguese; at the same time the English sold them both powder and shot568; but Khundoojee Mankur was reinforced, and Mulhar Rao Holkar was sent with all speed to Tannah, where he arrived in time to repulse an attack on the fort, led by Don Antonio Frois in person, who bravely fell in the attempt.

Although Bombay was then insignificant, it afterwards became a great English settlement, and the subtle part which its chief569 acted on that occasion, leaves room to regret that political animosity and the spirit of commercial rivalry should have tended to a conduct, which certainly, in some degree, detracts from our national reputation. Like everything of the kind it was exaggerated by the exasperated feelings of the other party, and although

Page 544

it must be admitted that the Portuguese had great reason to complain, their assertion that the English assisted the Mahrattas, in the defence of Tannah, and that an English gunner pointed the cannon which killed their commander570, appears from all contemporary authority, to be totally unfounded. We are also bound in justice to add, in regard to such part of the conduct of the English as deserves censure, that it was principally to be ascribed to the treatment they had experienced from the Portuguese. Bombay, with its dependancies, was ceded by the crown of Portugal to Charles II., in 1661, as the dowry of his queen. In the year following, when the English appeared and demanded possession, the Portuguese refused to give up Salsette, which they, contrary to what had always been understood, declared was not a dependency of Bombay. The English at first declined receiving any part of the cession, and the troops they had brought, five hundred in number, were landed on the island of Aujeedeva.

February 1665

But three hundred and eighty-one of them having fallen a sacrifice to the climate of that unhealthy spot, Ensign Humphray Cooke, who became the surviving commander, was glad to accept of Bombay on any terms. When the Portuguese, therefore, were dispossessed of Salsette, by the Mahrattas, it was natural for the English, in a public point of view571, to regard

Page 545

their misfortunes without regret, especially as it afforded a better chance, of one day obtaining or conquering from the Mahrattas, what they could not recover as their just rights from the Portuguese:

After the rains, the body of horse under Wenkut Rao Narrain Ghorepuray, the Peishwa’s brother-in-law, returned to the neighbourhood of Goa, whilst Chimnajee Appa was sent down with Sindia and Holkar into the Concan, attended by a very large army, a number of guns, and a vast body of infantry. Ranoojee Sindia, detached from the main army, took Kuttulwaree and Dannoo early in January, and before the month of February, Seergaom was surrendered, and Kelwa and Tarrapoor were carried by storm. At the last mentioned place, the defence and assault were desperate: there were four mines constructed by the Mahrattas, two of which succeeded, and effected large breaches in a bastion and curtain; the different leaders vied with each other in the attack, Bajee Bew Rao, Ramchundur Hurry, Yeswunt Rao Powar, and Tookajee Powar (the last an officer of Angria’s), rushed forward with their respective colours; but the Portuguese gallantly opposed them, and for a time success was doubtful. At length Ranoojee Bhonslay having crossed the ditch at a place where there was no breach, applied scaling ladders to the wall, and entered sword in hand; “but the garrison,” says Chimnajee Appa in his account of the attack,

Page 546

“ still fought with the bravery of Europeans,” and defended themselves till completely overpowered. The few that remained alive, amongst whom was their commander, Don Francis de Alarcao demanded and received quarter572.

Whilst the war was thus vigorously prosecuted against the Portuguese, and Ranoojee Bhonslay of Oomrautee, the uncle of Rughoojee, the Sena Sahib Soobeh, had, as related, distinguished himself at Tarrapoor, his nephew had seized the opportunity of extending his possessions to the eastward; he had plundered Kuttack, and during the period when the Nizam was surrounded at Bhopaul, Rughoojee made an incursion to the northward, as far as Allahabad, defeated and slew the Soobehdar, Shujah Khan, and returned loaded with booty. These expeditions, undertaken without regular sanction, were highly resented by Bajee Rao. He marched from Poona for the purpose of punishing his misconduct, and sent forward Awjee Kowray to plunder in Berar. But that unfortunate officer573 was attacked and defeated by Rughoojee in the end of February. Bajee Rao was preparing to avenge his loss, when news reached him of the arrival of Nadir Shah, the defeat of the Moghuls, the death of Khan Dowran, the capture of Sadut Khan; and finally, that the victorious Persian was dictating the terms of ransom at the gates of Delhi.

Page 547

These accounts exceedingly alarmed Bajee Rao, but the subsequent intelligence which he received at Nusseerabad, informed him of the imprisonment of the emperor, the plunder of Delhi, the dreadful massacre of many of its inhabitants574, and seemed for a time to overwhelm him. “Our domestic quarrel with Rughoojee Bhonslay is now insignificant,” says the Peishwa, “the war with the Portuguese is as nought; there is now but one enemy in Hindoostan.” He appears to have conceived that Nadir Shah would establish himself as emperor, but he was not dismayed when he heard reports that a hundred thousand Persians were advancing to the southward. “Hindoos and Mussulmans,” says Bajee Rao, “the whole power of the Deccan must assemble, and I shall spread our Mahrattas from the Nerbuddah to the Chumbul.” He called on Nasir Jung to arm against the common foe, and Chimnajee Appa was ordered to desist from the Concan warfare, and join him with all speed. Before Chimnajee received this command, a detachment from his army, under Khundoojee Mankur had reduced the forts of Versovah and Darawee; he was in possession of the whole of Salsette575, and had begun the siege of Bassein. It was invested by an advanced force under Shunkrajee Narrain, on the 17th of February. The commandant represented with humility, that he was willing to pay the Mahratta tribute, and that the Portuguese asked no more than the terms granted to the Seedee of Jinjeera. But he was mistaken in supposing

Page 548

that such a tone would avert the attack of a victorious Bramin. Chimnajee was unwilling to relinquish the capture of an important fortress which would secure his conquests, and without which, the Portuguese had a key which opened a passage to the recovery, not only of what they had lost, but to the whole Concan from the Ghauts to the sea, and from Damaun to Bombay; therefore, although the mandate from his brother was urgent, he determined to secure Bassein. Aware of the risk to which he exposed himself by the chance of discomfiture, during the whole of March and April, he pressed the siege by every possible exertion. Numbers were daily killed in his batteries and trenches, where shells and huge stones, thrown from mortars, did terrible execution. The numerous guns of the besieged were at last silenced, and a breach had been effected in one of the curtains, but it was not yet practicable. The mines of the besiegers were repeatedly counteracted; at length, five were prepared, but so unskilfully, that the first only partially exploded, and of three mines close together, intended to be fired at once, two only went off. These, however, made a very large breach, which the Mahratta troops resolutely and promptly mounted, when the remaining mine having caught fire, blew hundreds of the assailants in the air. The Portuguese flung a quantity of hand grenades amongst the crowds in the rear, whilst they plied those who had ascended with musquetry, and drove them back with much slaughter. The defences were repaired with alacrity, the besiegers returned to the attack; but before attempting an assault at the former

Page 549

breach, the remaining mine under the tower of St. Sebastian, which had been constructed under the superintendence of Mulhar Rao Holkar, was fired: half the bastion was brought to the ground, and the assailants, after losing two of their colours, at last effected a lodgement. The besieged, however, although forty of their number were killed, and upwards of one hundred and thirty wounded at the breach of St. Sebastian, disputed every inch of ground, threw up a retrenchment of gabions, and mounted fresh guns, from which they kept up an incessant fire. At last, worn out by fatigue, and distressed for want of provisions, the sea face being blockaded by Mannajee Angria, they sent offers of capitulation, which were accepted on the 16th of May, and eight days were allowed to embark their private property and families. The Portuguese lost, in killed and wounded, according to the Mahratta account, eight hundred men, whilst Chimnajee Appa acknowledges his own loss at upwards of five thousand, from the commencement to the end of this remarkable siege: the most vigorous ever prosecuted by Mahrattas. The Portuguese only enumerate their loss at the last breach. The capitulation was made by Captain de Souza Pereira, the same officer who before defended Tannah; Silveira de Minezes, the commanding officer, having been killed during one of the assaults576.

Page 550

Holkar and Sindia, as soon as Bassein fell, were sent to join Bajee Rao with all speed, but by that time news had arrived of the retreat of the Persians577. Nadir Shah restored the throne to its degraded owner, and wrote letters to all the princes in India, announcing the event; amongst others, he addressed a letter to Shao, and one to Bajee Rao. He informs the latter that he has reinstated Mohummud Shah, and now considered him as a brother; that although Bajee Rao was an ancient servant possessing a large army, he had not afforded the emperor assistance, but that all must now attend to Mohummud Shah’s commands, for if they did not, he would return with his army and inflict punishment upon the disobedient578.


537. They were originally Hindoo Polygars, and converted by Aurungzebe.

538. There is a tradition of their having been rivals in an hereditary dispute, which may have been invented to prejudice the Rajas of Satara against the Bhonslays of Nagpoor, and prevent their desire to adopt any member of that powerful family. It is a point of honour to maintain the hereditary difference.

539. Mahratta MSS. I am not certain of this date, as I have not observed it in the English Records.

540. Orme. Bruce’s Annals, partly confirmed by Mahratta MSS.

541. Mahratta MSS.

542. The same as Nargounda, only here confined to two, instead of three per cent.

543. Original papers in possession of the Chitnees at Satara.

544. Original letters from Shao to Chimnajee, and from the Peishwa’s Mootaliq, procured from the Dawursee Swamee. Many interesting letters from Bajee Rao and Chimnajee, were lent to me by the descendants of the disciples of the Dawursee Swamee. The Swamee was a much venerated person in the country, and was the Mahapooroosh of Bajee Rao and his brother, and seems to have possessed their entire confidence. The Peishwa’s letters to the Swamee, and to his brother, detail the actions of his life, in a familiar manner, without disguise, and are quite invaluable. I was permitted to translate, but not to copy them. The originals continue in possession of the Swamees’ disciples at Dawursee, a village within a few miles of Satara.

545. This part of the letter is a postscript in his own hands writing.

546. Smaller divisions of a district.

547. Mahratta MSS., and original letters. In parts where I have Only Mahratta authority, I am seldom quite certain of my dates, as many of the original letters have only the date of the week, and of the moon.

548. Seyr Mutuakhereen, and Mahratta letters.

549. Meerat Ahmudee.

550. Among Hindoos, an attitude of worship or adoration, is to place the forehead at the threshold of a temple, or at the feet of the idol, and is used in humble supplication to a superior. The following extract of a letter, from Bajee Rao, to his Mahapooroosh, must of course be understood figuratively; but it shows the embarrassments under which he laboured:– “I have fallen into that hell of being beset by creditors, and to pacify Soucars and Sillidars, I am falling at their feet; till I have rubbed the skin from my forehead.” Part of this distress originated in the high rates of pay which he was obliged to give, in order to outbid Nizam Ool Moolk, and secure the best of the Deccan soldiery.

551. Original papers, and Poona records.

552. The Seyr Mutuakhereen gives the Moghul account of this campaign, the only one to which the author of that work had access. I have not omitted due consideration of both sides of the narrative.

553. This is probably the Hindoo name for the place, as I cannot find it in any of our maps.

554. This fact Bajee Rao mentions to his brother, without reserve or comment.

555. Indrajee Kuddum, belonging to Ranoojee Sindia’s party. I mention his name, merely to show the minuteness of the Peishwa’s report.

556. A private letter, or rather journal, in the hand-writing of Bajee Rao, to his brother Chimnajee Appa. Without various corroborative testimonies, as to the facts, it bears that internal evidence of truth, which commands confidence.

557. Such of my readers as may have seen a horse break from his pickets, and attempt to gallop off with his heel ropes, will understand the Peishwa’s injunctions in their full force.

558. Mahratta MSS. One manuscript states, that some of his forts were also to be placed under Havildars and Carcoons, to be appointed by the Raja.

559. Mahratta MSS.

560. Probably Gorabundur.

561. Letter from Don Conde de Sandomel, viceroy of Goa, to the king of Portugal, 25th of January, 1738.

562. Afterwards Nabob of Dude, and the father of the well-known Shujah-ud-Dowlah.

563. Letter from Chimnajee Appa, who says he crossed the Nerbuddah, “by the route of Kurgouna, near Poonashah, at the head of eighty thousand men.”

564. Original letter, in the hand-writing of Bajee Rao.

565. This is the common Mahratta appellation; Phooloomree is its proper name.

566. Chimnajee had been with the Peishwa in the first campaign against Nizam Ool Moolk, and had suffered from the Nizam’s guns. Bajee Rao, as some apology for allowing him to move at all, significantly observes, “Appa, you know what kind of an artillery he has.”

567. The Nizam was surrounded from the 3d to the 26th Ramzam. On the latter day, the agreement was concluded. A copy of this paper was sent to Sir John Malcolm, when he was writing his report on Malwa, and I mention the date particularly, because I observe, that owing to a mistake in attaching the name of Ballajee, instead of that of his father, to the paper, he has been led into an error in regard to it.

568. Mahratta MSS. The commandant of Bassein had good proof of this, for the Mahratta shot, which the year before, were all hammered, were now thrown of cast iron, and bore the English stamp.

569. I do not know whether it was Mr. John Horne, or Mr. Stephen Law. Mr. Law succeeded Mr. Horne some time during the first part of the year 1739. Mr Law, in a letter to the Court of Directors, 4th September, 1739, is anxious to exculpate the government, and declares the complaints of the Portuguese gross misrepresentations, which so far exonerates the home authorities from suspicion of conniving at such acts of their servants; but what reason could the Mahrattas have for misrepresentation?

570. Records of the Portuguese government at Goa.

571. Individuals of the Portuguese nation who fled to Bombay, experienced the utmost kindness and commiseration from the inhabitants. The governor gave them money for subsistence, and refitted some of their ships at the public expense.

572. Letter from Chimnajee Appa to the Dawursee Swamee. Official report from Don Martin Silveira De Menezes, from Bassein, 18th February 1739.

573. He was defeated by Dummajee Gaekwar, before the battle of Dubhoy, in 1’731.

574. Eight thousand by the lowest computation.

575. Called Sashtee by the Mahrattas.

576. Original Mahratta, and copies of the original Portuguese reports, which coincide in almost every particular. The Mahrattas, during the whole campaign, lost twelve or fourteen thousand men in killed and wounded. For the valuable information which I obtained, in May 1822, from the records of the Portuguese government, I here beg to offer my acknowledgments to his Excellency the Viceroy of Goa, who most liberally, supplied me with copies of the whole correspondence relative to the conquest of Salsette.

577. By the Bombay records, at the East India House, it appears that Nadir Shah quitted Delhi, 5th May 1739.

578. Original letter from Nadir Shah to Bajee Rao.

This collection transcribed by Chris Gage
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