The British ‘fought the First Maratha War in a period when their fortunes were at the lowest ebb’

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An intense struggle for power was taking place at that time among the Marathas between the supporters of the infant Peshwa Madhav Rao II, led by Nana Phadnis, and Raghunath Rao. The British officials in Bombay decided to intervene on behalf of Raghunath Rao.

They hoped thus to repeat the exploits of their countrymen in Madras and Bengal and reap j the consequent monetary advantages. This involved them in a long were with the Marthas which lasted from 1775 to 1782.

This was a dark hour indeed for British power in India. All the Maratha Chiefs were united behind the Peshwa and his chief minister, Nana pandas. The southern Indian powers had long been resenting the presence of the British among them and Haider Ali and the Nizam chose this moment to declare was against the company.

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Thus the British were faced with the powerful combination of the Marathas, Mysore and Hyderabad. Moreover, abroad they were waging a losing war in their colonies in America where the people had rebelled in 1776. They had also to counter the determined design of the French to exploit the difficulties of them old rival.

The British in India were, however, led at this time by the energetic and experienced Governor- General, Warren Hastings. He acted with firm resolve and determination.

Neither side won victory nor did the war come to a standstill. Peace was concluded in 1782 by the Treaty of Salbai by which the status quo was maintained. It saved the British from the combined opposition of Indian powers. This war is known in history as the First Anglo-Maratha war.

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