Pindharees – Divisions close in upon the Durras of Khureem Khan and Wasil Mohummud – pursuit of Cheetoo by Sir J. Malcolm – Cheetoo is protected in Holkar’s camp – hostile appearances – General Malcolm forms a junction with Sir Thomas Hislop – battle of Mehidpoor – treaty with Holkar – Cheetoo is protected by Jeswunt Rao Bhow one of Sindia’s generals – Jeswunt Rao is in consequence treated as an enemy – Camp attacked and Jawud stormed by General Browne – destruction of the Durras of Wasil Mohummud and Khureem Khan – and of Cheetoo – dispersion of the Pindharees – and dismemberment of the Patan association – Treaties with the Rajpoots – Recompense to the Raja of Boondee and Nabob of Bhopaul – Sir John Malcolm appointed to the government of central India – Operations in Bundelcund – Storm of Talneir – Operations against the Peishwa – Affair of Sewnee – Bajee Rao reduced to great distress – writes to Sir J. Malcolm, who negociates with him – interview – surrender – terms – remarks – Seizure of Trimbukjee – Escape of Appa Sahib – Siege and capture of Aseergurh
During the rains of 1817, the Pindharees, in three separate bodies, or durras, under their leaders Cheetoo, Khureem Khan, and Wasil Mohummud, occupied positions between Indore and Sagur. Khureem Khan was particularly active in recruiting his durra, and was anxious to concert some general plan for eluding the coming storm; but the enmity between him and Cheetoo was too rancorous to admit of cordial co-operation, even in self-defence. They were promised assistance by all the native princes, according to
their hopes or fears, but none stood forth openly in their favour. The left division of the Bengal army assembled, on the 10th October, at Kalinjer in Bundelcund, under Major-General Marshall, and reached Sagur by the 28th. Whilst on its march, a party of Pindharees from the durra of Wasil Mohummud, got in its rear and began to ravage the territory in Bundelcund; but their progress was arrested by a detachment from the governor-general’s division, which obliged them to return to Malwa; and this was the only enterprise attempted by the Pindharees.
General Marshall, without noticing this attempted diversion, marched on, according to his instructions, and arrived at Rylee on the 10th November, where he opened a communication with Colonel Adams, whose division was already in its prescribed position at Hooshingabad. Sir Thomas Hislop by the same time had reached Hurda, and assumed command of the first division of the Deccan army. Sir John Malcolm, with the third division, composed of the Nizam’s battalions, and the Mysore irregular horse, had arrived in that neighbourhood some time before; and the Guzerat division, having advanced from Baroda, was in its position at Dohud. Everything was now ready for the combined movement, when news of the breaking out of hostilities at Poona reached Sir Thomas Hislop. Conceiving, from this intelligence, and from recent accounts of apprehended treachery in the court of Nagpoor, that it would be necessary to support Brigadier-Generals Smith and Doveton, General Hislop, departing from his instructions, immediately
reinforced General Malcolm’s division with a brigade of the regular troops, and sent him forward to co-operate against the Pindharees, whilst he himself, with the first division, began to retrace his steps towards Burhanpoor.
Sir John Malcolm crossed the Nerbuddah on the 16th November, and Colonel Adams on the 14th.
By a concerted movement with General Marshall, the three divisions respectively reached Ashta, Rassein, and Ratgurh on the 22d, and thence, in the same manner, reached Tullain, Bairsea, and Gunj Basouda by the 26th. They thus drove the Pindharees from their accustomed haunts, and their lands were either taken possession of, or restored to the agents of Sindia, and the nabob of Bhopaul. The durras of Wasil Mohummud, and Khureem Khan, united about Seronje, and thence, invited by Sindia, took the route of Gwalior; but Cheetoo went off to the north-west, in hopes of support from Holkar, and from Jeswunt Rao Bhow, one of Sindia’s officers stationed as already noticed at Jawud. Lord Hastings’s camp, at this period, was at Erich; and he had placed detachments, connecting his own with. General Marshall’s division. Upon ascertaining that Khureem and Wasil Mohummud had come to the northward, one of the detachments moved from Burwa Sagur through Dutteea, across the Sindh, so as to cut them off from Gwalior; and Lord Hastings brought his division within thirty miles of Sindia’s camp, which had the effect of completely overawing that chieftain. The Pindharees, unable to advance to Gwalior,
or to return to the southward, whence General Marshall and Colonel Adams were closing in upon them, remained at Shahabad until General Marshall, though he advanced tardily, was close upon them. They then forced the Lodwana Ghaut, leading into Huraotee, which they were enabled to effect, owing to the misconduct of a party of Zalim Sing’s troops posted there; but General Marshall succeeded in destroying a few of them. They then intended to cross the Chumbul by the Loharee ford; but they were intercepted by General Donkin; and Khureem, with Wasil Mohummud, after having burnt their baggage, went off to the southward, at the head of four thousand of the best mounted of their followers, with whom they succeeded in passing Colonel Adam’s division, and directed their flight westward into Meywar. Of those who were left behind, some were cut off by the troops, and some by the exasperated villagers; one considerable body, however, got clear off to the southward, and after traversing the whole Deccan, entered the Company’s provinces in the Carnatic, where they were annihilated, or completely dispersed before the end of the ensuing January.
The scene of operations was now changed; General Marshall was posted at Seronje, Colonel Adams moved down upon Gungraur, and General Browne, detached with a part of the Marquis of Hastings’ division, also proceeded westward, in a parallel direction to the northward of Colonel Adams; General Donkin, recrossing the Chumbul, took post at Shapoora, west of the Bunass. But
whilst such was the progress of the Pindharee warfare in the east of Malwa, more important events were passing to the westward.
When Cheetoo went off towards Holkar’s camp, he was pursued by General Malcolm with the 3d division, but there being reason to apprehend that hostility was meditated by Holkar’s army, Colonel Adams for a time inclined his march to the west, in order to be able to support Sir John Malcolm; on its being understood, however, that the governor-general disapproved of Sir Thomas Hislop’s retrograde movement, and had ordered him on as first directed, Colonel Adams co-operated as before, against Khureem, and Wasil Mohummud.
Sir John Malcolm continued to pursue Cheetoo, until the latter found refuge in Holkar’s camp, in the vicinity of Mehidpoor, when the 3d division halted at Agur on the 4th December. It has hitherto been quite unnecessary to refer to the everlasting turmoil of Holkar’s durbar. The Mahratta faction, which Toolsee Bye the regent joined, had, in a moment of superiority over their Patan rivals, put the minister Ballaram Seit to death, which threw the principal power into the hands of Tattya Jogh, and Holkar’s hereditary Dewan; Gunput Rao, a man of weak intellect, under the guidance of Tattya Jogh; he was also the paramour of Toolsee Bye, over whom her passion gave him entire ascendancy. When the Peishwa’s emissaries were negociating the confederacy against the British government, one of their objects was to reconcile the Patan and Mahratta factions; but at the crisis when the British army crossed the Nerbuddah,
there was a division amongst all parties and factions in Holkar’s camp. Gunput Rao had been for a time gained over to the Peishwa’s cause, and Toolsee Bye had no will but his: Tattya Jogh suspected of being favourable to a negotiation opened by Mr. Metcalfe on the part of the British government, was placed under restraint, and the war faction, or in other words, Bajee Rao’s influence predominated. The negotiation alluded to, as opened by Mr. Metcalfe, was part of the governor-general’s plan, who, as will be recollected, intended to form a treaty with Holkar, nearly similar to that which was concluded with Sindia. The proposals were made to Holkar at the same time that the terms were offered to Umeer Khan; but no reply was received, until the middle of November, when a secret communication from Toolsee Bye, offering to place the young Mulhar Rao and herself under the protection of the British government, was, by the advice of Tattya Jogh, transmitted to Mr. Metcalfe. The regency, however, being under the control of their own soldiery, were obliged to yield to the popular cry in the camp, and to move towards the Deccan, trusting to some favourable opportunity of effecting their purpose, though now obliged to join in the general demonstrations of loyalty in favour of the sovereign Peishwa. But Gunput Rao having, as already mentioned, been gained over, Toolsee Bye likewise seceded from the plan of seeking protection from the British; and Tattya Jogh, the original proposer of that measure, was placed in confinement. The soldiery were averse to the admission
of terms from the British government, because the chiefs knew they must lose the power and consequence which the existing state of anarchy conferred, and the troops apprehended the loss of their bread. Before Holkar’s army quitted Rampoorah, some advances were made by the Peishwa’s agent, and larger sums were promised as soon as they should cross the Nerbuddah. They were joined by Roshun Beg, one of Holkar’s commanders, with fourteen battalions before they reached Mehidpoor, and all were apparently enthusiastic in the Peishwa’s cause. The arrival of General Malcolm’s division, in their neighbourhood, caused some alteration in the minds of the regency; but the general indications of hostility were so strong, that Sir John Malcolm retired upon the 1st division advancing to Oojein. The division from Guzerat ought to have been by that time about the same point, but Sir William Grant Keir had fallen back a considerable distance, at the requisition of the Bombay government, as in consequence of the Peishwa’s defection, disturbances were apprehended in Guzerat; but of this movement the governor-general disapproved, and the division was ordered to return, for the purpose of co-operating as at first directed.
In the mean time, the first and third divisions having united, advanced towards Holkar’s camp. Terms agreeably to Lord Hastings’s instructions were offered, and a show of negotiation was kept up by Ghuffoor Khan and the Patan commanders, in the name of Mulhar Rao Holkar; but their horse committed hostilities,
molested the foragers, carried off cattle, and at last made a direct attack on a body of the Mysore horse.
So determined were the Patans to cut off all chance of pacification, that, suspecting the regency of an intention to accept the terms, they confined Gunput Rao, and put Toolsee Bye to death.
When Sir Thomas Hislop found his parties attacked, he immediately determined on bringing affairs to a crisis. Holkar’s troops, estimated at nearly twenty thousand men, of whom about one-half were infantry, were posted on the left bank of the Seeprah, and on the opposite side from that on which the British army was advancing. Sir Thomas Hislop had four regiments of native cavalry, two squadrons of dragoons, a battalion of Europeans, and, including the Nizam’s corps, seven battalions of native infantry, besides a considerable body of irregular horse. The position of Holkar’s troops, at the point attacked, was exceedingly strong. The ford by which it was determined to cross was about eight hundred yards from the enemy’s line of infantry; which was drawn up at an angle of the Seeprah, with its left flank protected by the steep bank of that river, and its right covered by a deep ravine; its front was lined with a formidable artillery, consisting of about seventy pieces, many of them heavy guns, which, being well served, overpowered the light English field pieces, and occasioned a heavy loss before the British troops, after crossing the ford, had time to form and advance, which they did with all their characteristic bravery. The first and
second brigades, gallantly led on by Sir John Malcolm, had the principal duty to perform; the Madras rifle corps bore a very conspicuous part in the battle, but earned the honour at a high price, having suffered most severely. Holkar’s artillerymen stood bravely to their guns, even after their battalions had retired; but all the cannon were taken, excepting five or six of the lighter pieces, which were carried off by the flying troops. Holkar’s horse showed considerable spirit in skirmishing, before the British army crossed the river, but fled as soon as the action became general. This victory cost the British troops a loss of seven hundred and seventy-eight men, in killed and wounded, of whom thirty-eight were European officers. Holkar’s army lost three thousand men, principally in the pursuit; but it is creditable to his battalions, that two bodies of the infantry effected their retreat, when the British general was so strong in cavalry.
One of these bodies, under Roshun Beg, reached Rampoorah, where it was attacked and dispersed on the 10th January, by the division under General Browne, detached, as already mentioned, from the force under the personal command of Lord Hastings. The other body was under Ramdeen, a person notorious in the intrigues and anarchy of the period, who made good his way to the Deccan and joined Bajee Rao, as already mentioned, at Kopergaom. After the battle, Sir John Malcolm, with a light force, followed up the main body of the fugitives, on the route towards Mundisore; whilst Sir Thomas Hislop, joined by the Guzerat division, followed
in the same direction a few days afterwards.
At Mundisore the submission of the young Holkar was tendered, and a treaty was concluded on the 6th of January. By this treaty, Holkar confirmed the agreement with Umeer Khan; ceded several districts in perpetuity to the Rana of Kotah, which Zalim Sing had before only rented; transferred his tribute on the Rajpoots to the British government; and also ceded to it his territory north of the Boondee hills, and south of the Sautpoora mountains. He agreed to commit no hostilities, to have no communication with other states, and to entertain in his service no native of Europe or America, without the sanction of the British government; to discharge his superfluous troops, but to maintain a contingent of three thousand horse, which were to co-operate with the English troops when required. The Jagheer of Ghuffoor Khan was to be continued under the guarantee of the British government. A wukeel from Holkar was to reside at Calcutta, and a resident envoy was to be appointed to Holkar’s court. The British government became bound to protect the territories of Holkar, and to maintain a field force for that purpose.
Sindia’s Durbar, after the conclusion of the treaty with Holkar, became perfectly tractable; but some of his officers still showed a determination to support the Pindharees. After the battle of Mehidpoor, Cheetoo proceeded to Jawud, and was admitted into the camp of Jeswunt Rao Bhow, who at first refused to receive Captain Caulfield, the superintending officer appointed to his division.
But afterwards, pretending to comply with whatever was required, he desired Cheetoo to withdraw, and allowed Captain Caulfield to join him. It was found, however, that he harboured and protected the Pindharees, whom he would neither arrest nor expel from his camp; and the Marquis of Hastings at last gave orders that he should be treated as a public enemy. The division under General Browne was sent against him; and here, as at Rampoorah, this division was distinguished by the prompt and efficient manner it performed the required service.
The camp of Jeswunt Rao was beat in, his guns were captured, one of the gates of Jawud was blown open and the town taken, on the 28th January. The districts occupied by Jeswunt Rao Bhow, had been usurped from the Rana of Oudepoor, with whom an agreement, similar in principle to those with the other Rajpoot states, had been concluded by the British government, on the 18th January. Kumulnere, Rypoor, and Ramnagur, three forts of some consequence, particularly Kumulnere, being situated in the usurped districts, General Donkin was ordered to reduce them, which was effected with little trouble by the middle of February. When General Donkin’s division was broken up, the service in this quarter being by that time completed, a part of it joined Sir David Ochterlony, then engaged in negotiating with the Patans, and aiding in the settlement with the Rajpoots.
In the mean time Cheetoo, with his durra of Pindharees, had gone off in a north-westerly direction,
when the pursuit was taken up by the Guzerat division with considerable effect. A part of the durra was destroyed, and several of their parties were overtaken in villages. Cheetoo, finding himself harassed, turned suddenly to the southward, and by passing through a very difficult country, where Sir William Grant Keir found it impossible to follow him, he effected his escape; he re-appeared near Dhar, whither he was followed by the Guzerat division by another route. The broken remains of the durras of Wasil Mohummud, and Khureem, at a time when they thought themselves secure from pursuit, were completely surprised in the middle of January, by a detachment from Colonel Adams’s division, which destroyed a great number of them. Khureem was not with his followers at the time, having been left in a jungle as they were flying through Huraotee; but he was in Jawud when the town was stormed by General Browne, and escaped on foot with great difficulty. After a variety of adventures, Khureem surrendered himself to Sir John Malcolm, on the 15th February; Namdar Khan came in on the 3d February, with such of his followers as remained, and many of the principal chiefs followed his example. The only terms required by Namdar Khan were an assurance that he should not be sent to Europe or Calcutta. Many persons belonging to the durras of Wasil Mohummud and Khureem, gave themselves up to Zalim Sing of Kotah, and the small parties dispersed. Wasil Mohummud, in person, took refuge in Sindia’s camp at Gwalior, Where the British authorities
would not seize him, but caused Sindia to do so, that it might be manifest to all India that an enemy of the British government could nowhere find an asylum. He was not imprisoned, but kept at Ghazeepoor under a strict watch; and at last, being intercepted in an attempt to escape, he destroyed himself by poison.
Of the Pindharees, Cheetoo’s durra alone remains to be accounted for.
The main body had hitherto escaped; but on the 25th January it was completely surprised and dispersed by a detachment from the garrison of Hindia; and the Bheels and Grassias in the neighbourhood, from whom it may be recollected the Pindharees took several districts, being encouraged to attack the fugitives, spared none who fell into their hands. Cheetoo with two hundred followers escaped: he endeavoured to make terms for himself through the nabob of Bhopaul, but his demands were extravagant, and being again pursued, his followers dropped off daily. He afterwards went through a variety of adventures, and we shall again have occasion to mention him; but at length, hunted from his last asylum, and still bearing up with a spirit and perseverance worthy of the leader of a better band, Cheetoo, when singly pursuing his flight, was devoured by a tiger in the jungles adjoining the fortress of Aseergurh. The Pindharees thus dispersed, without leaders, and without a home or a rendezvous, were afterwards little heard of, though flying parties were, seen in the Deccan until the termination of the war with the Peishwa: they mingled with the rest of the population,
but the real Pindharees still retain their name, though some of them have become active improving farmers181.
With regard to the Patans, Umeer Khan, after he had made the agreement with Mr. Metcalfe for himself, did not ratify it until he heard of the defence at Seetabuldee, when, considering the Mahratta game as completely lost, he immediately dismissed the Peishwa’s agents, ratified the engagement with the British government, and endeavoured by every means in his power to fulfil its stipulations.
The advance of Sir David Ochterlony, who judiciously interposed his division between the two principal Patan camps, would soon have compelled Umeer Khan to submission, had coercion become necessary; but his presence in that situation was afterwards very important, in enabling Umeer Khan to obtain the promised guns, and to satisfy the turbulent soldiery. The Patans were prevented from trying their strength, by the fate of Holkar’s troops at Mehidpoor, by the influence and cunning of Umeer Khan, and by the address and firmness of Sir David Ochterlony. Some of them were dismissed with a part of their arrears, some of them were taken into the service, and the whole were overawed or conciliated without bloodshed.
The presence of Sir David Ochterlony likewise facilitated the negotiations with the Rajpoots, and enabled the Marquis of Hastings to complete his
plans, or put the whole into a train of adjustment by the middle of February. A treaty with Joudpoor was signed on the 6th January, but the negotiation with Jeypoor did not terminate until the 2d April, when a treaty was concluded. All the other states and principalities, excepting Sagur, of which the British government took possession, accepted the terms offered by the governor-general; and Sindia, having given up the district of Ajimere, and relinquished his tribute on the Raja of Boondee, in exchange for part of the lands of the Jagheerdar of Vinchoor, situated in Malwa, and forfeited by his adherence to the cause of Bajee Rao, the British government was thus enabled to recompense the hitherto ill-requited Raja of Boondee, who behaved so well to the English when retreating under Colonel Monson. Not only was the tribute thus obtained from Sindia relinquished by the British government, but all the possessions usurped from the Raja by Holkar were restored, and Sindia’s encroachments, within his frontier, were also recovered for him by negotiation. The record of this instance of national gratitude, will be read by every Briton with satisfaction, and the Marquis of Hastings also had it in his power to confer on the nabob of Bhopaul a reward equally suitable; not only for the friendship of his ancestor towards General Goddard’s army, but for the zeal he had himself displayed in the British cause182 during the present war, since he acceded to the proffered terms in the month of November. A treaty was concluded
with him on the 26th February, by which a small contingent of six hundred horse, and four hundred infantry, was all that was required to be furnished for the service of the British government, and five districts183 were ceded to him in perpetuity for their support. Some forfeited lands of the Vinchorkur, and a part of the district of Shujawulpoor were afterwards added; the fort of Islamnugur, a much valued possession, was likewise obtained for him from Sindia by negotiation. These cessions placed the principality of Bhopaul on a very respectable footing, and amongst the natives of India, where the recollections of benefits and injuries are treasured up for generations, nothing in the whole administration of the Marquis of Hastings Conveyed so deep an impression of the value of British friendship, as the conduct of its government to Boondee and Bhopaul.
The military operations in central India being completed, Sir John Malcolm remained there as agent for the governor-general; and by the active exertions, and conciliatory methods, which during a long career have characterized his services, and which, on the whole, have been surpassed by those of no living servant of the East India Company, that officer introduced order and peace in an extensive tract, where those blessings had been long unknown.
The division under General Marshall was ordered from Seronje into Bundelcund; and after reducing Sagur, took Dhamounee and Mundelah
belonging to the territory of Nagpoor, the Killidars of which had refused to surrender, in consequence of secret orders from Appa Sahib. At the same time that General Marshall was sent into Bundelcund, the greater part of the first, third, and fifth divisions were placed at the disposal of Mr. Elphinstone, to assist in the more important revolution going forward in the Deccan.
Sir Thomas Hislop, as commander-in-chief at Madras, proceeded to Fort St. George; but on his way to the southward, he took possession of those places in his immediate route which were ceded to the British government by Holkar. The Killidar of Talneir, from a pertinacity common to governors of forts in India, resisted the order of surrender; and although warned from the first that he should be treated as a rebel, if he refused to obey the orders of his government, he continued to fire upon the British troops. A storming party was therefore sent to force the entrance of the fort, which is by five successive gates; of these the first and second were passed without difficulty, and at the third, the Killidar came out and surrendered himself. He also returned with the party through the third and fourth gates which were opened, but at the fifth gate there was some demur made by the Arabs, when told they must surrender at discretion; the wicket, however, was at last opened, and a few officers and men had entered, when the Arabs, from some misapprehension, rushed upon them, cut most of them down, and amongst the number killed Major Gordon and Captain Macgregor. Their companions behind, hearing of what
had been perpetrated, with the exasperated feelings of British troops where they suspect treachery, rushed in as fast as they could gain admittance, and of a garrison of about three hundred men, one only, by leaping the wall, escaped with life. Sir Thomas Hislop, under the same impulse by which the troops were actuated, ordered the Killidar to be hanged as the cause of all the bloodshed, without reflecting on the probability of his not being, even in the first instance, wholly to blame for this lamentable catastrophe, and that his subsequent conduct entitled him to clemency.
In taking possession of the forts in the territory ceded by Holkar, Sir Thomas Hislop was aided by the second division under General Doveton, who, shortly after the surrender of Nagpoor, had proceeded to the westward, believing that everything in the quarter he had just quitted was finally arranged; but no sooner was Appa Sahib re-instated on his musnud, than he renewed his intrigues, encouraged the savage Goands to revolt, sent secret orders to his Killidars to resist the orders of surrender, which he had granted in favour of the British government, and applied to Bajee Rao for assistance. An application to this effect had arrived, at the time Gunput Rao joined the Peishwa near Sholapoor, and frequent messengers followed, subsequent to the affair of Ashtah, imploring succour.
We left Bajee Rao on the route to Chandore. Before he reached that place, hearing of the approach of the divisions under Sir Thomas Hislop and General Doveton, he returned to Kopergaom; but there having learnt that General Smith was
advancing, he pursued his route to Bheer, and thence, turning off to the eastward, hastened towards Chandah in the territory of Nagpoor, sending Gunput Rao forward to the assistance of his master by a different route.
Sir Thomas Hislop endeavoured to intercept or overtake the Peishwa’s army, but finding they were beyond the reach of pursuit, he continued his march to Poona, and left the conduct of operations to Generals Doveton and Smith. The former took the route by Basum and Kurinja, the latter moved eastward along the line of the Godavery.
In the meantime Mr. Jenkins having discovered Appa Sahib’s extraordinary treachery, arrested him; and preparations being made to oppose the advancing succour, Gunput Rao’s party was met on the banks of the Wurda, and driven back by a detachment under Colonel Scott.
Colonel Adams, with his division also arrived on the banks of the Wurda in a few days.
Bajee Rao, uncertain how to proceed, halted at Pander Koura to the west of the Wurda.
There he was hemmed in by the divisions of Doveton and Adams, and, in endeavouring to avoid the former, was driven upon the latter near Sewnee, where a considerable number of his followers were killed. Many of his Jagheerdars had quitted his standard before this event, and most of them took advantage of the opportunity to disperse to their homes. The Peishwa’s brother Chimnajee Appa fled to the southward with Appa Dessaye,
Nepankur and Naroo Punt Apty, and surrendered himself to a party, detached to intercept him by General Smith. Colonel Adams, as soon as the pursuit ceased, proceeded against Chandah, which was held by the partizans of Appa Sahib, and after a short siege carried the place by assault. Bajee Rao, followed by General Doveton, fled in great consternation to the northward, and for six days his army suffered severely from fatigue and privation. He had faint hopes of aid from Sindia; but all he now desired was a good opportunity of throwing himself in the way of the British general. He had made many overtures to Mr. Elphinstone, but as they always implied an ability to treat, he was distinctly told his submission only could be accepted. He again despatched agents to Mr. Elphinstone and to the resident at Nagpoor, but continued his route, forded the Taptee on the 5th May, and advanced towards Sindwa, where he intended to cross the Nerbuddah; but finding that point guarded, and that Sir John Malcolm had made every preparation to intercept him, he sent forward an agent, Anund Rao Chundawurkur, with a letter to that officer, and retired to wait the result, at Dholkote, in the neighbourhood of Aseergurh. That fortress, though stipulated to be given up by Sindia in the treaty of the 5th November, was still held by his Killidar, Jeswunt Rao Lay, who had always refused to surrender. Here Bajee Rao, with about eight thousand men, remained in a state of the utmost disquietude and alarm; he was unacquainted with the country, and excepting the Vinchorkur and Aba Poorundhuree, abandoned
by almost every person of consequence in the Mahratta country; the fords and passes to the northward were guarded, and troops were closing in upon him on every side. His agent reached General Malcolm’s camp at Mhow, near Indore, on the 16th May. On receiving the Peishwa’s overtures, Sir John Malcolm, who had been furnished with a copy of the governor-general’s instructions to the commissioner in the Deccan, resolved to make the Peishwa’s letter the basis of a negotiation for his surrender. Accordingly, two of his political assistants, Lieutenants Low and McDonald, were despatched towards the camp of Bajee Rao, instructed to open a negotiation, requiring him to renounce all sovereignty for himself and family for ever in the Deccan, to which he was never to return; and to surrender Trimbukjee, and the murderers of the Vaughans. After these preliminaries, Lieutenant Low was to insist upon his immediately separating himself from Ramdeen, and all proscribed rebels and Pindharees, and advance to meet Sir John Malcolm, who in such case, promised to become the medium of an adjustment with the British government, and obtain for him a liberal maintenance at such holy city as he might select for his future residence. The governor-general did not approve of any deputation to Bajee Rao, both because it had a tendency to cramp the military operations against him, and conveyed an impression of the Peishwa’s being in a condition to treat, when he was, in fact, eager to submit. Some circumstances proved the justness of these opinions; and, in several respects, there
was an inconsiderate zeal evinced in the proceedings on this occasion, which has not escaped censure. The Marquis of Hastings, although he had given the outline of the conduct to be observed towards the Peishwa, reserved to himself the particular terms to be granted to him, after obtaining his submission to a justly offended nation; but before his sentiments, in regard to the first steps taken by Sir John Malcolm, could be received, Bajee Rao, on the 3d June, after a protracted negotiation, surrendered himself184, on condition, that the stipulated maintenance should not be less than eight lacks of rupees a year; which was promised to him by Sir John Malcolm, from an idea that it should not be less than the pension of his brother Amrut Rao. The Marquis of Hastings deemed the amount too great, and seeing that his deposal was declared, and his country almost entirely reduced, knowing also the intriguing disposition of Bajee Rao, and the amassed treasure which he and his adherents might secrete for purposes hostile to the British government, it was generally considered the extreme of liberality. But there was a conditional promise to Bajee Rao, in favour of Jagheerdars who had adhered to his cause, and of Bramins and religious establishments supported by his family, which was quite unnecessary, and certainly
should have been avoided; because it implied that Bajee Rao was in a condition to treat, not only for himself, but for others; it detracted in some degree from the liberality of the British government in the settlement of the conquered territories; and it obtained for Bajee Rao, amongst such of the Mahrattas as were disposed to advocate his cause, praise which he did not merit, and honour which it never could have been the intention of Sir J. Malcolm to confer. Whilst commenting, however, in this instance, on the supposed failings of the politician, justice is due to the generous feelings of the man: Sir J. Malcolm saw the prince whom he had visited nine months before in the midst of a gay court, and in a newly erected palace on the banks of the Kistna, now a harassed and houseless fugitive; he forgot the manner in which he had been so grossly deceived; he thought only of the contrast in the Peishwa’s situation, and of the benefits which the British government had derived from its connection with that misguided and unfortunate individual; and he pitied those faithful adherents, who still followed their sovereign in hopeless adversity, and forfeited their all, when, by personal submission, they might have secured their possessions. The Marquis of Hastings ratified the terms; and Belthoor, a place of sanctity near Cawnpore, was appointed for Bajee Rao’s future residence, to which he was immediately conducted.
Ramdeen surrendered on being promised pardon, but Bajee Rao evaded compliance with that part of the stipulated terms which required the surrender
of Trimbukjee; he escaped to the southward, and for a time attempted to collect adherents, and conceal himself as before; but Captain Briggs, Mr. Elphinstone’s agent in Candeish, discovered the place of his retreat, and by a well concerted plan, sent a party of irregular horse under Lieutenant Swanston185, who seized him in the village of Aheergaom. He was afterwards conveyed to the fort of Chunargurh, in Bengal, where he remains a prisoner. The surrender of Bajee Rao was an important event, and was rendered more so by the escape of Appa Sahib, a circumstance which partly actuated Sir John Malcolm during the negotiation.
After the arrest of Appa Sahib by Mr. Jenkins, the governor-general directed that he should be sent to Allahabad, and there confined. He was accordingly sent off from Nagpoor for that purpose, but having corrupted some of the Sepoys of a Bengal corps on his guard, and being furnished with a suit of their regimentals, he got off in that disguise on the morning of the 13th May, and fled to the Mahdeo bills between Nagpoor and the Nerbuddah, whence it was impossible to dislodge him during the monsoon. Here he was joined by Cheetoo Pindharee; and the person of Appa Sahib became a rallying point for all the disbanded and broken troops of the country. The unfortunate negligence which occasioned his escape, was productive of much harassing service owing to insurrections in various quarters.
The grandson of the late Rughoojee Bhonslay, a minor named Goozur, was, in the mean time, adopted by the widow of the late Rughoojee, and, assuming the name of his grandfather, was seated on the musnud. The widow was considered regent; but for the present, and during the minority, the whole administration was committed to the charge of the resident, who, in the Raja’s name, directed every department under the immediate superintendence of officers appointed by himself.
The season was considerably advanced before troops could be spared to co-operate in a combined attack upon the position of Appa Sahib; it was hoped he might be taken; but being assisted by the skill and intelligence of Cheetoo, he passed one of the parties which was hemming him in, and though subsequently exposed to imminent danger from a guard of British troops, he succeeded in gaining the fort or neighbourhood of Aseergurh.
That celebrated fortress was besieged by General Doveton: Sir John Malcolm co-operating with a force from Malwa. After a respectable defence during about twenty days, it surrendered on the 9th of April, 1819. Appa Sahib, if he ever had been in the fort, made his escape. He afterwards sought refuge amongst the Seiks, where he still is; and no desire being evinced by the British government to receive his submission, he has sunk into the insignificance to be expected from a person of his weak and treacherous character. The dreadful fate of Cheetoo, as he attempted to fly from. Aseergurh, has been already told186.
181. I know personally some of this description settled in the Deccan, and I dare say, many may be found cultivating the fields in Malwa.
182. He sold his jewels to support troops.
183. Ashtah, Ichawur, Sehar, Dowaha, and Dewapana.
184. Before surrendering himself, he had an interview with Sir J. Malcolm; and in a private conference, displayed his usual address and eloquence; appealing to Sir John as the last of his three earliest and best friends. Colonel Close being dead, and General Wellesley (the Duke of Wellington) in a distant land.
185. The same officer who assisted in the defence, and was severely wounded at Korygaom.
186. Authorities as in the preceding.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage