Monday, 16 November 2015

Gov. General of India Lord Wellesley - twice victorious

Richard Wellesley.

A map of the war theater. Srirangapatna, Mysore 4th Angelo Mysore

Richard Colley Wesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley PC (Ire) (20 June 1760 – 26 September 1842), also known as The Earl of Mornington from 1781 until 1799, was one the greatest Irish-English Colonial military commanders and administrators. Perhaps in British history, no other military commander had secured the  best name and honor of having defeated two arch enemies of the British Empire as Richard Wellesley did. He was instrumental in defeating the ruler of Mysore Tipu Sultan, one of the greatest warriors on the Indian soil who had been a road block for the British for their further expansion down Southern Peninsular India. Literally, Tipu terrorized the British and he was a horrible thorn on the British Crown. He was a menace to the British rulers in India and their quest for expansionism. The other being the greatest French Commander  Napoleon Bonaparte who gave an equal resistance to the British dominance in Europe. 

Born in Ireland, the eldest son of Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington, an Irish peer, and Anne, the eldest daughter of Arthur Hill-Trevor, 1st Viscount Dungannon, Richard Wellesley (Christ Church, Oxford), became the Governor-General of India between 1798 and 1805 and later served as Foreign Secretary in the British Cabinet and as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He began his political career as  a Lord of the Treasury under  William Pitt the Younger. Soon after becoming the member of the Board of Control over Indian affairs, he became familiar with Indian affairs; hence he was chosen for the post of Governor-General of India (18 May 1798 – 30 July 1805). He was preoccupied with further expansion of  Indian lands as Robert Clive had done earlier,  and also with the French rivalries.

He was also aware of the close association of Tipu Sultan and the French army stationed in India under the French government. Tipu, son of Hyder Ali, Mysore ruler, very much understood the consequence of British imperialism in India  and, being cautious as he was, he was ahead of competent Maratha warriors and others. He took the honor of introducing Mysorean  rockets, for the first time, as a military weapon with specially heat- resistant iron-cased tube that carried the charge. His  deadly missiles packed with various sharp objects could be launched 5 to ten simultaneously,  covering more than a kilometer distance and and causing devastation upon landing.  He had a well organized  regiment for his rocket division. For the British, the very mention of Mysorian rockets caused nightmares because their impact on the enemy was effective and formidable. Tipu  also had a special Navy and had his ships built with brass alloy bottom to avoid rusting. Before effecting a close alliance with the French, Wellesley decided to take on Tipu and disbanded the French troops entertained by the Nizam of Hyderabad. A swift action brought the end of final Mysore war with Tipu  wh was killed on the battle field on May 4th of 1799. In 1780 the defeat of Marathas by his brother Arther Wellesley saw the further decline of powerful Indian rulers and the rise of British power and authority  in India. The influence of French in  India also declined drastically during his period. In the aftermath of these wars and of the treaties that followed them the French influence in India  slowly died  but  forty million people and ten millions pounds of revenue were added to the British dominions - greatest asset for the British Crown.

Tipu Sultan of Mysore.

After the fall of Tipu Sultan, his famous rockets were taken to England for scrutiny. They were renamed Congreve after William Congreve who redesigned and developed it, using Mysorian rockets as models. Congreve rockets  were introduced in the British service in 1806. 

Death of Tipu Sultan. Quorain.
At NASA in  the Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island in East Coast, Virginia, USA which was a base of NASA's sounding rocket program, there is a fine painting displayed prominently in the lobby there. It depicted a battle scene in 1790s with rockets flying in the background. It was Tipu Sultan's army fighting the British forces at Srirangapatna, now in Karnataka, India.(According to the late Dr. Abdul Kalam, former Indian President, who himself was a rocket specialist of international repute; he visited the American facilities in the past).

.Battle of Waterloo,
Turning our attention to the European war theater, Napoleon was a force to reckon with and was a direct threat to British Imperialism and their interests.  Beginning in 1812, Napoleon began to encounter the first major defeats of his military career, suffering through a disastrous invasion of Russia, losing Spain to the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula War, and enduring total defeat against an allied force by 1814. ''The Battle of Waterloo'' was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.  A French army under the command of Napoleon was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition: an Anglo-allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. Waterloo was the decisive engagement of the Waterloo Campaign and Napoleon's last and saw the end of Napoleon's rule as Emperor of the French, and marked the end of his Hundred Days return from exile. It was also the end of the long era of  Napoleonic era of European were history. In the Battle of Waterloo  25,000 men were killed and wounded and 9,000 captured, while the allies lost about 23,000.

Napoleon, Wellington and Blü

As for Lord Wellesley, both the last Mysore War May, 1799 and the Battle of Waterloo June, 1815 in Belgium were turning points and, no doubt, he was twice victorious, indeed, a rare honor, considering the reputation of both the French and Indian rulers. He died at the ripe age of 82 on 16 September 1842 at Knightsbridge, London.