Friday, December 10, 2010


The first troops under Captain Little, consisting of the 800 men from both the 8th, and 11th Bombay Native Infantry, supported by one company of European, and two companies of Native Artillery equipped with six 6 pounder guns, left Bombay on the 23rd May 1790 and sailed south to Jaigur 

The expedition was intended to support a Mahratta force under Putseram Bhow which was going to attack Tipu Sultan's Mysore. The East India Company was under threat from Tipu, as were his other neighbours the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the Mahrattas.

The East India Company hoped to reduce Tipu's numerical superiority by forming a coalition with the Nizam and the Mahrattas, and to thereby be able to threaten Tipu's borders from all sides.

It seems extraordinary today how such small forces could be projected over such long distances, and into parts of India which were so little known by the English at this time.
First the expedition sailed 180 miles south from Bombay to Jaigur. Then it sailed perhaps another 50 miles up the river from Jaigur, to cover the 25 miles, the Crow would have flown.

The troops then disembarked and started to march overland covering 275 miles in a relatively straight line to Dharwad, but which was probably much further on foot for the poor Sepoys and camp followers.

The first force arrived in late May 1790 in time to be caught in the onset of the Monsoon rains.A second contingent was sent down the coast as reinforcements after the Monsoon had blown out. The arrival this second detachment under the command of Colonel Frederick, that had departed from Bombay on the 19th of November 1790, is described in more detail by Moor who was present with this fleet.

"The fleet of boats, with the Intrepid, anchored in the bay, formed by the entrance of Jaigur river, on the 21 st of November, and saluted the fort with five guns, to which one was returned. The entrance to this river is defended by forts on each side, considerably elevated under the southern one of which it is necessary to pass, and which would, were they in repair, be a sufficient defence. A wall of communication is carried up the side of the hill to the southern fort, from a battery of eleven embrasures on a level with the water, which, like the other fortifications, are in very bad repair. The bay will shelter small vessels from the violence of the south-west monsoon, but has not sufficient water to admit any of considerable draft, there being but two and a half fathoms on the bar at three quarters ebb, and the Intrepid grounded at low water. Lieutenant M'Luer says, there are eight fathoms near the fort, which he calls Zyghur, and observed it to be in latitude; 17°. 16'. N. " 
 Google Earth Image showing the fort as well as the lower batteries
along the Jaigad River, as well as the surviving connecting walls. The white scale bar measures 100 metres.
Click on image for a larger version.

The local Mahratta commander of the fort must have had a commanding view out to sea. It is just possible to make out the headland to the north around which Captain Pickett brought his small fleet of Country vessels containing the reinforcements for the force besieging Dharwad.

Photo showing one of the Fort Towers looking out to sea.
Jaigad Fort. Showing one of the surviving towers.

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