What were the consequences of the Second Anglo-Mysore War?

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Madhav Rao, accompanied by a large army entered Mysore in January 1770 with a clear intention to reduce Haider completely. To resist the attack, Haider anxiously solicited the aid of the English government at Madras (now Chennai), which temporized and success­fully evaded from providing any active assistance, even though they were treaty-bound to help Haider.

The hope of English assistance was completely belied, and the war came to an end by July 1772, in the total defeat of Haider and enforcing some severe treaty obligations on him. This treachery of the English was never forgotten by Haider; he aspired for an opportunity to strike again on the enemy still he remained quiet until 1780, when he expressed his strong resentment and joined the confederacy against the British.

In fact, a train of events contributed to alienate Haider; the policies of the Madras (now Chennai) Government provoked his hostility. France took sides with the American colonies in their revolt against the Mother Country in March 1778 and consequently hostilities between the two Companies were renewed in India.

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Pondicherry was reduced in August; the capture of Mahe, a small French settlement through which Haider received most of his European military supplies, disregarding his protests and warnings, helped to strengthen the resentment of Haider. This acted as one of the most important causes for the outbreak of the second Anglo-Mysore War.

This was a period when the English where facing opposition and resentment from almost every quarter. Outside India also, France, Spain, Holland and the revolted American colonies had combined against the English and France sought to utilise this favourable opportunity to recover her lost possessions.

Haider too was engaged in reducing the neighbouring states and extending his dominion. The efforts of the English to take possession of Guntur (which had been ceded to the British through the treaty signed with the Nizam) which came within his “Zones of influence” besides alienating the Nizam helped to precipitate the bitterness of Haider. The Nizam had another reason to protest in the English withdrawal of the tribute to the Northern Sarkar. In addition to this stood the border disturbances in Malabar

Even though the English had betrayed him in the Maratha War, Haider in 1773 and again in 1778 renewed his efforts to procure the friendship of the Madras (now Chennai) Government but failed; these made him furious and finally compelled him to seek the French help.

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The Anglo-Maratha War made the Marathas anxious to secure the friendship of Mysore against the English. Haider too, was happy to close with the Maratha offer so that he could wreck vengeance upon the dissembling British. Thus in 1780, an agreement was signed with the Marathas which brought great territorial gains to Haider. The Nizam who had already been resentful of English actions in Guntur was also made a party.

The Triple Alliance thus formed, drew up a course of action against the English, their common foe; the strength of the coalition combined with the aid of the French seemed a formidable force; but the fickle nature of the Nizam began to assert itself and the English succeeded in detaching him from the coalition by giving some presents and restoring Guntur, which removed the cause of his ill-will in the initial stages, Hider’s war-machine triumphed over that of the English; taking one territory after another, the Mysorean cavalry over-ran Porto Novo, Canjeevaram, Trincomali, Chetput, Ami etc., within three months since the beginning of the war on 28th May 1780.

Colonel Bailie was routed, Colonel Fletcher was killed and the army under Munro safely retreated to the capital; the English were indeed at bay. Lyall writes, “The fortunes of the English in India had fallen to their lowest watermark”.

Hearing about the bad tidings of the war, in order to help overcome the misfortunes of the English in South India, Warren Hastings, sent Sir Eyre Coote, the Commander-in- Chief and the victor of Wandiwash “to stand forth and vindicate in his own person the rights and honour of British arms,” with orders suspending White Hill, the Governor of Madras (now Chennai).

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The siege of Arcot proceeded and it capitulated on 3rd November. With undaunted vigour the Mysoreans marched; several important places like Ambur, Tiagar and forts like Satgarh, Kailasgarh, Jingi, Perumacoil, Wandiwash etc., soon fell to the Mysorean army, for a time they were the virtual masters of the whole of the Carnatic excepting Madras (now Chennai).

The arrival of Eyre Coote marked a change in the course of the war; the scales of the war began to turn in British favour. The forces were reorganised and in July 1781 Sir Eyre Coote successfully held up Haider Ali at Portonovo and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Mysore troops. Haider called back Tipu to his assistance.

In the plains of Tricollam and Sholinghur, the English inflicted heavy losses o Haider; these defeats shattered Haider’s prestige. The English being supreme on the sea, a decisive naval victory for Haider was impossible. At Annagudi, Tipu won a victory over Braithwaite and took him prisoner. Though this gave a great blow to English reputation, it brought little good to Mysore. Early in 1782 the French fleet under Suffren appeared on the Indian waters.

Hastings was pressed from all sides to conclude a treaty with the Marathas at any cost because that would be at any rate advantageous to the English interests in the Anglo- Mysore War. Thus the war with the Marathas was terminated by the ‘Treaty of Salbai’ signed on 17th May, 1782, which according to Lyall “was neither honourable to the English name nor advantageous to their interests and out of those which arose the exigencies which drove him (Hastings) into the transactions that formed the main grounds of his subsequent impeachment”.

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Haider retired; he was not destined to fight any more; a severe attack of cancer took away his life on 7th December, 1782. The English command passed on to Stuart due to the ill-health and consequent retirement of Coote. The war was still going on when Haider died; Tipu reoccupied Bednur and besieged Mangalore in July 1783.

Consequent on the conclusion of the Anglo French War in Europe, the French retired from the field of battle and withdrew their support. This move of the French adversely affected Tipu while it encouraged the British. Still undaunted, Tipu continued the war; both the sides were war- weary and in favour of a truce. Macartney on his arrival as Governor soon brought about the treaty of Mangalore in March 1784.

As the preliminary step, an armistice was signed on 2nd August 1783. Weary of a long war and afraid of yet another confederacy for which there was possibility, and deprived of the French assistance, Tipu, consented to this armistice. After a series of discussions, agreement was found on all points and the Treaty was signed on 11th March 1784.

Treaty:

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By the terms of the Treaty, Tipu relinquished his claims to the Carnatic while he got back all his territories which the English had captured during the war. The mutual repatriation of prisoners of war and simultaneous restoration of each other’s possessions were agreed upon. The British demand for exclusive trade privileges was successfully resisted by Tipu.

Moreover, his insistence on the inclusion of a clause that the English Government and his own Government should not help the enemies of each other privately or publicly was accepted by the English; thus the Maratha danger was successfully warded off for the time being. The English also were able to secure all their ‘reasonable’ demands.

Dodwell writes, “In short, much the same terms were obtained from Tipu as Hastings had managed to get from the Marathas.” However the treaty terms were not liked by Warren Hastings who found them to be humiliating to the English. He exclaimed, “What a man is this Lord Macartney? I yet believe that in spite of the peace, he will affect the loss of the Carnatic.”

Haider Ali – an estimate: Beginning his career as an ordinary soldier in the service of Nanjaraj, Haider rose to the position of the undisputed ruler of Mysore by dint of his extraordinary ability, energy, mental vigour, valour and resourcefulness alone history provides us with similar examples of rare men rising by their genius from obscurity suddenly like a meteor dashing across the sky catching the attention of the world by its profuse luminosity.

When such geniuses endowed with great qualities of mind and physic are working in a corner, chances and wheel of fortune run to them from all quarters to embrace them. If chances do not come they create them and ride over them to reach their goal. The weakness of Nanjaraj made it possible for Haider to usurp the power of the state; despite a usurper he enjoyed the confidence of the people in full measure and dominated the political scene of South India till his end.

Though unable to read and write, he possessed great self-control and was endowed with a flaming commonsense, strong determination, keen intellect and a high memory power. The greatness of Mysore was revealed to the world in the second half of the 18th century through these two prominent men- Haider and his son and successor Tipu Sultan.

Regarding his military abilities, Bowring writes, “Hyder was a born soldier, an excellent rider and skillful alike with his sword and his gun. Trained by early habits to active exertion he could undergo great fatigue without suffering from it and when at the head of his troops he was reckless of personal danger thus stimulating the courage of his followers.”

A contemporary has written, “He is in Hindustan what Zinghiskhan, Timur or Nadirshah were or would have been under the same circumstances out of the Krishna.” Had the Mysoreans been equipped with a strong navy, the fate of the British would have been different. Haider was caught between two great rival powers, the English and the Marathas; an alliance with one was sure to result in a war with the other. The strength of Haider, the English knew, cannot go hand in hand with their policy. Hence they wanted to subdue him.

His policy was to favour anyone who would help him towards the achievement of his designs. The English denied him the opportunity to be their friend when he sought it and so he joined the French side. As in the military, so in the administrative field also, his eminence was revealed; the fact that there was no internal disturbance or military coup d’etat following the death of Haider itself is a clear proof of the strength of the man and the compactness of the empire which he had built up.

One of the prominent features of his character was that he was singularly faithful to his engagements and his hatred for dissimulation made him the worst enemy of the British towards whom he followed a straight-forward policy.

We can end with the words of Bowring, “Notwithstanding the severity of his internal rule and the terror which he inspired, his name is always mentioned in Mysore with respect if not with admiration. While the cruelties which he sometimes practiced are forgotten, his prowess and success have an abiding place in the memory of the people.”

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