« PrécédentContinuer »
and although they had shown the most determined courage, and had uniformly repulsed all the attacks of the enemy, yet they were beginning to despond and get wearied out by the continued and fresh attacks they were exposed to for so long a time.
Major Fitzgerald strongly urged an instant advance to the relief of Bangalore against which Hyder had moved. Colonel Wood did not think his troops equal to the exertion, and that gallant garrison was left to its fate. On the receipt of the intelligence at Madras, Wood was superseded, and early in December Colonel Lang of the corps succeeded him.
Hyder had been often heard to declare, that of the two British generals “he never desired to come in contact with General Smith; but as for Colonel Wood he would attack him whenever he could find him." When he had positive intelligence that Smith was at Madras, he considered Bangalore sufficiently protected by a light corps under his son Tippoo, and with a large and wellappointed army under his own personal command, he descended the Ghauts at Palicode, and on the 6th of December entered the Bermahal ; at the same time his general Fuzul-oola-Khan, passed down through Coimbetoor and the passes at Caveripatam and Gungelhutty. The military dispositions made by Colonel Wood for the defence of the former post, commanded by Captain Faisan, were very faulty. Of five detached companies not one was within ten miles of another, and three, twentyfive, forty, and fifty-five miles from support. The first post attacked was commanded by a brave sergeant of the corps named Hoskan, at the head of a company of Sepoys; he repulsed the first attack, and in reporting it to his officer added, “I expect them again to-morrow morning in two parties, with guns. I will take the guns from them, with the help of God!" 700 cavalry, 5000 infantry, and seven guns advanced as he expected. The sergeant bravely held out until his post was reduced to ruins, when it was carried by assault and nearly all its gallant defenders put to the sword. Whether Sergeant Hoskan was slaughtered with the rest, or lingered for a time in the dungeons of Seringapatam, there is no authentic information. The other posts in this pass fell as rapidly. That at the other Ghaut, after two assaults, in the last of which the commandant, Lieutenant Andrews, was killed, surrendered, and the garrison at Coimbetoor, mostly composed of Mahomed Ali's troops, after having massacred the English officer and Sepoys, gave it up to the enemy.
Fuzzul-oola-Khan accomplished his descent the same day that Hyder moved down the pass of Palicode; and in a few days, what from treachery, or want of supplies, every post or garrison, except that of Caveripoor under Captain Faisan, and Eroad under Captain Orton, fell into the enemy's hands.
When Colonel Lang heard of Hyder's move
ment down the Ghauts, he detached after him a light efficient corps of about 5000 men under Major Fitzgerald, consisting of 500 disciplined cavalry, a troop of which were Europeans selected from the corps, the 3d Regiment of the corps, the grenadier companies of the 1st and 2d, in all 500 European infantry, five select battalions of Sepoys, and eight 6 and six 3-pounders, with the best equipments the service could afford. Colonel Lang remained under the walls of Vencattigherry with a force, exclusive of garrisons and detachments, consisting of 400 of the corps, part of the 1st and 2d Regiments, 900 Sepoys, two 6 and one 3-pounders, and two howitzers.
The garrisons and posts in the Barmahal and Salem fell as easily to Hyder as those in Coimbetoor did to his general, and Fitzgerald had the mortification of hearing of the surrender of each just as he arrived within distance to relieve it. As he approached the Caveri, he received intelligence that Hyder had crossed that river, and was advancing upon Trichinopoly and Tanjore, leaving Fuzzul-oola-Khan to invest Carroor and Eroad. Fitzgerald moved rapidly and intercepted him ; but Hyder turning off in the opposite direction suddenly fell upon Carroor, which almost immediately surrendered. He then moved towards Eroad, the
garrison of which consisted of 200 Europeans of the corps, and 1200 Sepoys.
When Captain Orton fell back upon Eroad, con
trary to what he had been led to expect from the Nabob's agents, he found it entirely destitute of provisions. Not knowing that Hyder's army was so close, or that Carroor had surrendered, he sent a detachment of fifty Europeans and 200 Sepoys, with two 3-pounders, under Captain Nixon, to escort a supply of stores from that place, distant about forty miles. Nixon had proceeded about half-way, when suddenly six field-pieces opened upon him at point-blank distance; he immediately retired behind a small embankment to cover his men, when two deep columns of infantry, part of Hyder's army, which had just taken Carroor, rushed on to surround him. The English detachment maintained its position with the greatest firmness, until the enemy's columns had reached within twenty yards of it, when the little band of fifty heroes delivered their fire, and sprang forward with the bayonet. The heads of the columns were driven back in confusion, and after sustaining great loss broke and fled. This effort of gallantry did not save the English from destruction. Before they had formed up, Hyder's cavalry, which had just finished cutting to pieces all the Sepoys, charged them on all quarters. All were instantly knocked over, not an officer or man escaped without a wound, except Lieutenant Goreham of the corps, who was saved by a Mysore officer of rank. The wounded were immediately placed in litters or other conveyances and taken back to Eroad, where they were paraded before the garrison, and a flag of truce sent in for a surgeon to dress their wounds. A summons was also sent to Captain Orton, and he surrendered next day, being quite destitute of provisions to stand a siege. The terms of the capitulation were, that Captain Orton and garrison were to be allowed to proceed to Trichinopoly ; but Hyder violated his promise, and they were sent to the dungeons of Seringapatam.
After the surrender of Carroor, Hyder marched against Caveripatam, commanded by Captain Faisan of the corps, an officer of undaunted courage and spirit. He had been, for about a month past, besieged by Fuzzul-oola-Khan. After a protracted defence against Hyder, he also, when reduced to the last extremity for want of provisions, capitulated on condition that he and all his garrison should be allowed to proceed to Trichinopoly. These terms were shamefully broken, and Captain Faisan and his brave garrison, part of which was a company
of the corps, were sent to the same dungeons as their comrades of Eroad. The year closed with these events.
A gallant and devoted corps of Europeans, both artillery and infantry, a faithful army of well-disciplined Sepoys, frittered
away and sacrificed by an inefficient Government and corrupt civil subordinates; and the energy and ability of Colonel Smith, an excellent, highspirited officer, paralysed and thwarted by those to whom only he had a right to look for support and