Sunday, 30 June 2019

Col William Baillie who died in captivity in the dungeon built by Tipu Sultan

The story of Col William Baillie  is a sad tale of a good  English officer who had to spend a large  part of his precious life in prison and die unsung in captivity at Tipu Sultan's fort, Srirangapatna, Karnataka. 
Plaque of the William Baillie Memorial, Seringapatam.wikipedia.org 
William Baillie (died 1782) started his career in the East India Company's Military division.  Records in the India Office point out  that he joined  the army of the English Company on 18 October 1759 as a lieutenant in the infantry at Madras
William Baillie Memorial, Seringapatamen.wikipedia.org 
As a good military officer, it was natural he got promotion periodically and by  December 1775  he became lieutenant-colonel, indeed a covetous position in those days. Working under Colonel Joseph Smith after gaining experience as commandant of one of the three 'English' battalions in the pay of the company his battalion had to conduct operations against Hyder Ali of Mysore Kingdom in 1767–8(Wilks, Hist. Sketches, vol. i. and index to work). 

The French had a big settlement in Podicherry, S.India and in 1779 he lead his army against the French and destroyed their works, etc. In 1780 he successfully conducted operations in  in the Northern Circars (part of Andhra Pradesh). On this expedition he headed a detached force, consisting of two companies of European infantry, two batteries of artillery, and five battalions of native infantry,
Srirangapatna, Baillie's dungeon, plaque at the entrance. abhinavagarwal.net
Above image: This slab is at  the entrance to the dungeon. It reads:"In this dungeon were confined for many years the British officers taken prisoner by Tipu Sultan................................

Srirangapatna fort, the dungeon -meant for POWS panoramio.com
In July 1780, Hyder Ali's  army of 100,00 well-trained soldiers came down to the Carnatic to attack the English army. It was second Angelo-Mysore war.  The English army at Madras was alerted. The Carnatic region was ruled by a Nawab, an alley of the English. Col. Baillie was ordered  to move his army toward  St. Thomas Mount near Madras to join  with that of  Gen. Sir Hector Munro who saw action in the Battle of Buxar in Bengal where he fought with three armies and came out victorious. Munro had an army of roughly 5200 men, exclusive of European troops, grenadiers and highlanders.  Moving a big army with camp facilities and other paraphernalia in those days was a tough job and it resulted in delays. Baillie, close to Madras defeated a division of Tipu Sultan,  Hyder's son. Tipu's army attacked him on the march near the village of Perambaukum in the 4th week of August 1780.  Col. Baillie, anticipating a tough battle, sent a message to Munro, who was camping  at Conjeveram, a distance of 14 miles. Munro did not want his stores exposed at Conjeveram, so he sent a small reinforcement of Highlanders, grenadiers and sepoys under Colonel Fletcher.

Baillie, made a wrong move by marching  forward from Pollilur toward Conjeveram and on the morning of 10 September 1780, found himself confronted by Hyder Ali's army. In the pitched battle with no additional enforcement, col. Baillie could not make any offencive move. Hyder's men fought ferociously and several English men were either killed or severely wounded. Col Fletcher died here.  The survivors, including some of the wounded were taken as prisoners, and carried off to Seringapatam. Among the number grievously wounded was Colonel Baillie, who fought bravely at Pollilur.  
Baillie's dungeon, Srirangapatna. commons.wikimedia.org
The East India company;s officers and soldiers were in the prisons at Seringapatnam.  The prisons were nothing but dungeons with no proper ventilation  and at night it was just horrible. The pathetic thing was  the POWs were in chains all the time until 1784 when the English Army took control of this place.  When the fortress fell to British arms on 4 May 1799, the prisoners saw the day light for the first time . Among the 200 POWs, Captain David Baird, 73rd (71st) Highlanders and Col Lindsay. The  former was in pain and limping and latter in poor health reached Madras on 17 April 1784. As for  brave Colonel Baillie, his sufferings were too much andhe died in captivity on 13 November 1782 (Hook's Life of Baird,vol. i.).

It was  Lt Col John Baillie who was William Baillie's nephew, and who served as the British Resident in the Court of the Nawab of Oudh, Lucknow,  commissioned a memorial for Col. Baillie. It is located next to the Gumbaz, where Tippu Sultan is buried. The memorial came up  17 years after the fall of Tippu Sultan in 1799. 

The underground dungeons are close Ranganatha Swamy temple, and  Lal Mahal Palace. They  measure 30.5 mts length and 12.2 mts breadth and is made  of brick and lime mortar.  When Tipu put the POWS in the dungeons, for which it was built, prisoners  were chained to the stone slabs fixed on the  walls andthe  place was then filled half-way with water.

 Surrounded by a deep moat there was no escape for the prisoners from this hell hole. The the dungeon  was named after Colonel Bailey because he was an inmate here till his  painful death.  British officers like Captain Baird, Colonel Brith White, Sampson, Frozen and Lindsay were locked-up here for a pretty long period.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Baillie_(East_India_Company_officer)