Monday, 11 September 2017

Historical Delhi Gate, Arcot and Robert Clive's first saga of victory!!


Historically, the Arcot region had been the site of several of interesting battles among many rulers, considering its proximity to Madras.  A fortress was built around Arcot to retard invading army from the enemy sides. It is believed that (records are not clear) this  area was captured by a Mughal Nawab of Karnataka from the Marathas. One Daud Khan Panni was made governor by Zulfikhar Ali Khan (Aurangzeb's general) in 1698.  In the year 1710, Mohammed Sayyid, the last Mogul governor was appointed as Nawab of Karnatic with the title Saadatullah Khan and he, in 1710, moved his capital from Gingee to Arcot. Ironically, the same place won Robert Clive international recognition and made  him a war hero. From here his string of victories in the Indian subcontinent continued unabated that ultimately led to the founding of the British Empire, symbol of power and wealth.
Delhi Gate,roadside view.Arcot.en.wikipedia.org

Delhi Gate, Arcot.en.wikipedia.org


Delhi Gate, located on the banks of Palar river in the city of Vellore, Tamil Nadu, is part of the fortification of Arcot.  The gate was part of a fort built by Mughal governor, Daud Khan Panni, in the first half of the 18th century. During his time Mogul's supremacy in many parts of India, including southern India was not not good enough to attract attention. except the fact that the Nizams of Hyderabad were governors under the Mogul  period. Further, the Nawabs of Carnatic, whose capital was Arcot, TN were under the control of the Nizams.  

Chanda Sahib, the son-in-law of the Nawab of Carnatic, Dost Ali Khan (he was the Nawab till 1740 CE became a trouble-maker and had an eye on the throne of Arcot. Chanda Sahib, who also served as a Diwan under the Arcot Nawab, a few years later  conspired against the then  Nawab of Carnatic, Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan. Soon, with the unexpected death of  the Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah  in 1748 CE, a civil war broke out between the heirs, Nasir Jung and Muzaffar Jung over the succession.

 In 1751 CE,  when there was a dispute over  succession between Mohamed Ali Khan Walaja, the son of Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan and Chanda Sahib, the French East India Company that was active in part of South India, led by Gov. Dupleix, who  was building French influence during 1748 and 1751 sided with Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung to bring them into the power in their respective regions. The British East India Company supported the rival teams. All these incidents causing political uncertainty  led to the Second Carnatic War.

Initially Chanda Sahib succeeded and became the ruler of Arcot while Nawab. Wallajah, fearing death,  escaped to Trichy, down south. Supported by the French Army,  Chanda Sahib invaded Trichy, leaving Arcot unprotected. Since an opportunity was given on a silver platter,  a small British army of about 200 soldiers, 300 Indian soldiers and 8 officers under the command of Robert Clive captured Arcot on 31st August 1751 CE. Their objective was  quite clear - to get the attention of Chanda Sahib and drive him out of Trichy.
Robert Clive. britishbattles.com/


Sahib 's attempt to reclaim Arcot  with his  big army  of soldiers numbering 10,000  under his son Raza (Raju) Sahib was a futile one. At  Arcot and  Kaveripakkam his army was defeated and  Raza was killed in the battle. As for Chanda Sahib, he  escaped  from Trichy to Thanjavur where he was beheaded in a rebellion by the Thanjavur army.

  The place around the Delhi Gate was the site of a memorable defence made by Robert Clive during the Siege of Arcot. It gave Clive, then a just clerk in East India Company's office in Madras  with no military experience, a chance to prove his innate skill in military leadership and mastery over  manipulative strategies in a tough war situation. Being a novice in military matters with a band of several Englishmen with no exposure to war, the Siege of Arcot, between 23rd September and 14th November 1751 CE, a tactical military strategy initiated by Clive made him a hero and he had begun to grow in stature and power after this great victory. Ultimately he became the Governor General of India later.  Subsequently, after the battle of Plassey - 3 June 1757 and Buxar - 22 October 1764  Clive captured Bengal in NE India, consolidated the British supremacy  and  laid the first  foundation of the British Empire in India. The English economy, with poor GDP - around 03, had begun to grow, causing the Indian economy with strong GDP - more than 20 to slide downhill.

While in Arcot, Robert Clive camped in a room atop  the gate in the fort.The gate was named as "Delhi Gate" to signify the beginning of the capture of Delhi by the British. 

The fort was later destroyed by Tipu Sultan in 1783 CE. Today only remnants of the fort such as foundation can be seen. The Gate and the room above it  are in fairly in  good shape.  A plaque  with Clive's Clive's name is found on the wall of the Gate Gate.

Tit-Bits:

The siege of Arcot (Anglo-French Wars in India (Second Carnatic War)
 31st August to 15th November 1751

Siege of Arcot. S.India. www.britishbattles.com

 Above image: Robert Clive fires a cannon in the Siege of Arcot(now in the state of Tamil Nadu) 31st August to 15th November 1751 in the War in India: picture by Cecil Doughty

 01. Size of the armies at the Siege of Arcot: The army of Raju Sahib, son of Chanda Sahib,  comprised some 11,000 native troops and 150 French troops. Raju Sahib was supported by a train of French siege artillery. Clive’s force comprised 200 British and 300 Sepoy troops and 3 guns. He was able to use the guns he found in the abandoned fort at Arcot. 

02. When Clive got the detailed information about the Arcot fort that it  was unfortified dilapidated ,  fort, containing a garrison of 1,000 native soldiers, he planned the siege, as Chanda Shahib's many troops were at Trichy to capture the Nawab of Arcot.

03. The Battle Honour of ‘Arcot’ was given to the Madras European Regiment, which became the Honourable East India Company’s Madras European Regiment in 1830.  In 1862, after the Indian Mutiny, the regiment was taken into Crown service as the

The Nawab of Arcot: britishbattles.com
 

102nd (Royal Madras Fusiliers) Regiment.  In 1881 the 102nd, with the 103rd (Royal Bombay Fusiliers) Regiment, became the Royal Dublin Fusiliers which retained ‘Arcot’ as a Battle Honour, the only regiment in the British or Indian Armies to carry the honour.
                                   (vide www.britishbattles.com)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi_Gate_(Vellore)

http://www.britishbattles.com/anglo-french-wars-in-india/siege-of-arcot/