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  #1  
Old November 11th, 2010, 03:27 AM
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Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Unlike the story of prithviraj chauhan , which has happened in the ancient era , and memories of which are very dim ,there is a plethora of information available on the third battle of panipat , down to the exact dispositions of the men and officers.

this has been the most analysed battle in the ancient to medieval era in india.

Thus this story can be recounted in exact detail , but because of the sheer volume of information available , will be much longer.

So i will tell this story post by post ,over a period of days.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 03:29 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

That would be good...
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Old November 11th, 2010, 04:03 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

The roots of the expedition lay in afghan king ahmad shah abdali's repeated invasions of india. in 1757 , he invaded india again , at the invitation of najib khan rohilla , the leader of the afghans who had settled in the katehr region of UP.

Because these afghans had come from roh in afghanistan ,katehr's name was changed to rohilkhand........needless to say , the name has yet not been changed by the 'secular' govts that regularly trample upon the rights of hindus......it remains rohilkhand.

the 1757 invasion of abdali was a particularly brutal invasion , as not only delhi was looted ,but the mughal princesses , some of the beautiful , were forced into the bed of abdali and his son. mathura was sacked ,and women were raped in the thousands .......many drowned themselves in the yamuna to escape......the nights were filled with sounds of women shrieking as afghans penetrated their youthful bodies ......the yamuna was turned red for several miles with the bodies of dead people.

eventually the pile of dead corpses was infected as they were not buried or cremated , and diseases broke out in abdali's army ,which finally prompted him to retreat back to afghanistan.

the wazir of delhi ,imad-ul-mulk had kept a force of marathas in his pay under antaji mankeshwar.......they had been borrowed from the peshwa.these gave a good account of themselves as they killed two thousand afghan soldiers , but had to retreat as they were numbering only 4000 ,and were outnumbered.

the indian afghans under najib khan rohilla now dominated not only delhi ,haryana and the region between the ganga and yamuna , but also rohilkhand.

wazir imad-ul-mulk realised that only the marathas could deliver delhi from this menace , and invited them to delhi with a powerful force.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 04:51 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Good going...
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Old November 11th, 2010, 06:30 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Marathas conquer delhi and punjab--

the peshwa sent his brother raghunathrao ( popularly called raghoba ) with a powerful force into north india.

raghoba immediately captured delhi ,and najib khan became a prisoner in his hands. this was the right moment to kill najib ,as he was one who was inviting abdally , and could invite again. besides ,he had the blood of innocent people of mathura on his hands.

but najib paid malhar-rao holkar , the maratha ruler of malwa ,huge bribes to
save his life. malhar-rao prevailed upon raghoba to spare najib ,and najib was set free !!......this was greatest mistake of raghoba ,as the treacherous najib was to invite abdali again into india.

now raghoba made a surprising decision -- he invaded punjab ,which was directly abdali's ( afghan) territory. his forces conquered lahore ,and then advanced on to attock on the indus, which was considered by hindus to be the boundary of india .abdali's son taimur ,the afghan governor of punjab was defeated in battle and he fled.

according to the historian grant duff , this was a glorious episode in the history of marathas --- '' the deccan horse had slaked their thirst in the waters of the indus !!'' ,he has said.....

in the maratha capital pune ,their was wild jubilation , and the peshwa talked of capturing kabul--kandahar with ambassadors sent by iran on hearing this news.

but this actually made abdali the deadly enemy of marathas , for punjab was the breadbasket of his empire ,which was otherwise made of arid regions like afghanistan and baluchistan.

having captured punjab , raghoba however could not face the biting cold of lahore as winter came , and decamped back to the deccan with the majority of his army, leaving only 15,000 troops behind.

sabaji scindia was sent as governor-- he went even further ,capturing peshawar ,and garrisoning it with 10,000 men, this bringing actual pathans under his control

but the total troops that remained in the province numbered only 32,000---hardly enough to face abdali if he came in full force.thus the peshwa had sanctioned a provocative frontier extending to peshawar---but left not enough troops to garrison it.

truth was that the marathas did not have enough troops to man punjab , as they had created enemies in india without destroying them -- like the nizam of hyderabad ,najib khan ,hyder ali of mysore ( tipu's father ).........so troops were needed to garrison other parts of the empire --defence of maharashtra from hyderabad itself required 70,000 troops.

so in hindsight raghoba's expedition to capture punjab must be called a mad expedition.......

abdali was ready for a policy of ' live and let live '---his ambassadors made it clear that he was ready to accept maratha domination over delhi ,haryana , western UP ,if they gave up punjab---- but the maratha ambition was boundless , and they rejected this.

marathas did another mistake by not properly taking the help of the sikhs who were natural allies for them --- but the maratha--sikh co-operation was haphazard , primarily due to maratha ignorance of sikhs.

abdali first sent his general jahan khan with an army to invade punjab , but sabaji scindia gave this force a crushing defeat ,killing jahan's son ,and wounding jahan.

then abdali himself decided to invade........
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Old November 11th, 2010, 08:15 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Abdali invades india again; battle of barari ghat

najib khan rohilla had already been making calls to abdali that islam in india was in danger ,that he must come to save india's muslims from the maratha menace etc.

Abdali assembled a force of 60,000 storm troopers ,one of the finest cavalry in all asia ,all battlehardened troops ........especially all cruel ,ferocious , merciless......

With this force he advanced from kandahar along the indus to peshawar .looking at the size and ferocity of his force ,the maratha garrison had to flee.now he was joined by another force and with 70,000 troops , he invaded punjab.

the maratha garrison in punjab was divided to patrol the whole province , and was outnumbered. they fled precipitately before abdali's troops , and the population rose to take away their weapons and treasures. though they were able to escape ,they escaped with thier bare lives , with almost nothing on them.

as abdali advanced to sirhind ,the news reached dattaji scindia , the maratha governer of delhi.dattaji had been beiseiging najib at a place called shukartal , but this was a strong position well defended , and dattaji found himself unable to dislodge najib.

with abdali invading india ,he was now faced with a superior force of afghans and rohillas ( 70,000 afghans and 30 ,000 rohillas ) totalling more than 1 lakh men. he had about 50,000 men with him , but these were clearly insufficent to fight the enemy. the only choice was to retreat , but dattaji was a proud man........

as abdali and najib linked up on the eastern side of the yamuna , he got ready on the west bank to fight.it was at barari ghat that abdali's forces along with najib's troops tried to cross the yamuna.

to fight them first dattaji sent his heavy baggage , women servants etc to safety in rajasthan , and then prepared to fight. he now led his troops with him in front , to attack the afghans .as his soldiers clashed with afghans , he was right in the forefront. this was a serious mistake .ideally a general should be at the back of his troops to guide them ,and also should not be in direct danger.

but dattaji threw caution to the winds . as the battle progressed , he was shot at by rohilla troops who had muskets , and the shot killed him.immediately panic seized his army , and they began to flee.maratha re-enforcements now arrived , but they found dattaji shot dead ,and could not infuence the outcome of the battle.

the aghans gave hot chase to the marathas , but the deccan horses proved superior in flight to the famed horses of central asia ,which the afghans had.
this proved the correctness of dattaji's decision to send all heavy baggage to rajasthan ,which allowed his troops to be light , and thus escape .

in panipat , this very factor , the vast number of women , heavy baggage , was to prove an impediment to the marathas , as instead of fighting ,the army had to spend time in protecting them , and could not retreat fast as they moved slowly.but more about that later.....

as the marathas retreated , the afghans found the body of dattaji . najib's minister qutub shah cut of his head and took it away as trophy, and later the marathas had to cremate his headless body.later the marathas would take revenge on qutub shah for this perfidy.

the afghans now occupied delhi. abdali now wanted to return home , but najib quailed before him that the marathas would return to take revenge , and he must stay to protect india's muslims. abdali was asked to go back to the eastern bank of yamuna river ,as that territory was directly najib -controlled. here all arrangements were made to quarter abdali's troops , food , tents etc.

delhi was now garrisoned with only a few afghan troops .now they waited for the marathas to return in a mission of revenge........
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Old November 12th, 2010, 10:36 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

maratha expedition to panipat

the news of dattaji's death fell like a thunderbolt on the marathas when it reached pune , the capital. immediately , great preparations were made for war.
the peshwa's cousin , sadashivraobhau was selected as commander ,for recently he had won a splendid victory over the nizam at udgir.raghoba was neglected ,as his expedition to punjab had brought only debt to the peshwa , and had proved to be financialy unprofitable.

sadashivrao bhau ,popularly known as bhau , as he will be called in this narrative ,was a great believer in the european style warfare using long range muskets ( rifles ) handled by well-drilled and disciplined infantry troops.he had defeated the nizam using these troops , under a great commander , ibrahim khan gardi.

so the core of the army ,as well as the most well paid part of it ,was 9,000 gardis , as they were known . along with them were 200 heavy cannon ,which were useful to destroy heavy fortifications very quickly .bhau had a lot of expectations from his 200 cannons.but this style of warfare , though effective , went completely against the maratha style of mobile warfare on horses , and many marathas were completely unused to it.this fact was to have grave implications for the war.

but the peshwa accepted bhau's decision , and added to it a vast retinue of servants , dancing girls ,wives of soldiers , camp -followers totalling more than 2,00,000 people ,thus totally changing the maratha style of making war with only light cavalry . this was to have disastrous results in the coming conflict.

this army now aped mughal splendour ,with its vast array of splendid tents ,magnificiently caparisoned elephants and horses, well-dressed troops .

to the 9,000 disciplined gardis ,were added 22,000 of the peshwa's own troops ,the famed huzrat horsemen ,the very flower of the maratha army.as the army moved north , to it was added the various sardars troops , and the fighting men totalled 85,000 men.

scindias of gwalior ,holkars of indore , gaikwads of baroda all added lustre to the names of the galaxy of generals who accompanied the expedition. the total number of men ,women ,servants etc numbered 3 lakh people. considering the vast numbers ,the army moved slowly , and by the time it reached across the chambal river,it had taken more than two months to cross , and the rainy season was at hand .
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Old November 12th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Arrogance of the bhau ; the marathas friendless in north india !!

Once the marathas had crossed the chambal river , the politics in north india came to full swing , as they had come into the theater of operations.

bhau sent embassys to all princes in north india to join him.only the jat raja of bharatpur joined him temporarily. otherwise no-one was ready to join him.

on the other hand , the ruler of awadh , nawab shuja-ud-daula joined abdally.so did the pathans of farrukabad.but no hindu was willing to join the marathas.

the reason for this was not far to seek. everyone knew that if the marathas won at panipat ,they would become the rulers of india. that meant of destruction of everyone , muslim or hindu. on the other hand , if abdally won , not only would they be free of the maratha menace , but abdali himself would go back . the afghans did not have the staying power of the marathas , and were not about to create an empire in india. so everyone would ,in fact ,survive in event of an afghan win.

the maratha behaviour of looting even hindus had not endeared them to hindus. this episode of ishwari singh is enough to show how relations between them and the rajputs had deteriorated--

http://www.indianetzone.com/37/mahar...ler_jaipur.htm

now even the hindus rooted for maratha defeat. abdali and najib were ever-ready to raise the bogey of islam to win muslim rulers.thus the marathas were now friendless.....

the next step of bhau was to invade delhi. as the yamuna was impassable in the rains due to floods , and abdali was on the opposite bank of delhi, abdali could do nothing as the maratha cannons bombarded delhi ,and it surrendered. this recovered the lost prestige of the marathas .

at delhi ,a war council was held , in which both malhar-rao holkar and jat raja suraj mal gave sound advice to bhau---they asked that the heavy baggage , women , camp followers ,.etc which they had brought should be sent southwards , as it would prove a major impediment in the expedition .in event of defeat , they could run away if the army was on light horses ,and escape to fight another day.

bhau rejected this advice !!......... he insulted malhar-rao by calling him a shepherd ( as he belonged to that caste of dhangars ) ,and insulted jat raja suraj mal by calling him a mere zamindar !!. he resolved to take the women and camp followers into the zone of battle !!

the jat raja was so incensed by this that he abandoned the marathas ,and went back to his domains. malhar-rao secrectly said that if these pune brahmins were allowed to go on like this , they would one day finish off all of maratha caste !!.......he realised that bhau was a foolhardy commander , and began secret talks with najib khan to save his own skin . najib agreed to not fight malhar if he also did not attack najib.

with the jat raja going back ,the marathas were all alone in north india ,without allies against a foe who outnumbered them ,and had all muslim rulers on his side.

the whole of north india ,hindu or muslim was rooting for a maratha defeat ,except the sikhs .......and the marathas did not have the political acumen to make contact with the sikhs.

inspite of coming to save the common north indian people from afghan atrocities ,the marathas were without friends in north india !!
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Old November 12th, 2010, 12:59 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Interesting........

History in simple language,liked it



Please continue the
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Old November 12th, 2010, 01:11 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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Interesting........

History in simple language,liked it



Please continue the
thanks......will continue tommorow......tired now.
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Old November 14th, 2010, 07:18 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

As marathas advance too far north , afghans deliver the masterstroke of the war ; the armies come to panipat

From delhi ,bhau now moved northwards with his overloaded retinue as it had finished the food in delhi ,and the capital was starving .from here ,he moved north to kunjpura near the himalayas.

thus he was now moving too far to the north ,and over extending his line of communications. this could do ,only because the yamuna was flooded due to that years heavy rains ,and abdali ,being on the other side was not able to cross. but abdali was now to his south ,and if he was able to cross the yamuna , he would be able to cut the marathas supply lines.but he found it impossible to cross at the moment.

kunjpura was a base of abdali's communications with afghanistan .here he has no less than 9 ,000 troops , and also had his treasures and large amounts of food and supplies.bhau therefore resolved to capture it. cannon were placed near its walls , and a full-scale bombardment commenced.

the walls of kunjpura were breached by cannon shells,and the fort and town was captured in fierce hand-to-hand fighting. the entire afghan garrison was put to death ,which set the tone for brutality in the war .qutub shah , who had cut off dattaji scindia's head was found , and tortured to death.

abdali was stunned by the capture of kunjpura , and shocked at the loss of so many soldiers and supplies. but he simply found that he could not cross the flooded yamuna river . all he could do was to chaff silently while the marathas rentlessly progressed.

meanwhile ,the marathas enjoyed on the huge foodstuffs found at kunjpura ,and stayed there till the end of rainy season. they celebrated dassehra there , and planned to go to kurukshetra for pilgrimage. thus ,the army which had come to deliver north india from the menace of the cruel afghan hordes was forgetting its main task , and was wasting its time in praying !!

they were not destined to reach kurukshetra , the fabled land where the mahabharat had allegedly been fought. instead ,they were in for a mahabharat of their own......

for ,with the end of the rains ,the level of the yamuna was steadily going down !! to be honest , it was going down only slowly ,for the rains had been very heavy that year , but an increasingly frustrated abdali was now desperately searching for a way to cross it. the capture of kunjpura had cut off his path to afghanistan , and he had to find a way out.

bhau had made a serious mistake in not keeping strong patrols on the yamuna to detect and stop abdali from crossing it ,and this was fatal error.
after desperate searching , a way of crossing the yamuna was found at a shallow point , and the afghan army crossed it !! they lost some 500 men to drowning as they crossed , but they were finally across ,to get to grips with the enemy !!

This was truely the masterstroke of the war !!
For ,now abdali was south of the marathas , and was in a position of cutting off their way to the south !!
The marathas were now trapped !!
They themselves were blocking abdali's way back to his homeland ,but he was being supplied food and other provisions by naijb and his other allies in north india.
On the other hand ,the maratha supply line was now cut.......

The marathas had not expected afghans to cross the yamuna ,whose level was still high ,and news that they had crossed it was received as a thunderbolt from the heavens.....
All plans of kurukshetra were dropped , and the army turned south.

As they moved south , they found their way blocked by the afghan hordes to the south of a super-unlucky place which had already seen the defeats on indian armies defending there twice before. this was the third time an army defending india had come face-to-face with an invader here .......it's name was panipat.........

this going to be the third battle of panipat .but the drums of battle were not yet sounded. for both sides were not psychologically ready for full scale conflict.
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Old November 14th, 2010, 07:21 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

while it makes for a certainly interesting reading...it would be more appropriate to cite references.
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Old November 14th, 2010, 07:36 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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while it makes for a certainly interesting reading...it would be more appropriate to cite references.
this thread and other posts of ashdoc are cited as references when others write history
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Old November 14th, 2010, 07:46 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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Originally Posted by dhurandhar View Post
while it makes for a certainly interesting reading...it would be more appropriate to cite references.
I have mainly relied on these books -----

1) Advanced study in the history of modern india --by punjabi historian J L Mehta.

2) Fall of the mughal empire -volume 2 , by bengali historian Jadunath sarkar

3) panipat 1761-- by marathi historian T S Shejwalkar .

4) panipat ( marathi novel )-- by vishvas patil .

patil has tried to exonerate bhau of his guilt , but i squarely put the blame on bhau , and also upto some extent ,the peshwa ,as they authorised bringing women ,camp followers , and servants along with huge baggage to the zone of battle ,which proved such a major burden on the army ,as a part of it had to be reserved for protecting them ,especially the women's honour ,instead of fighting.

patil says that bhau was dead , so no one was there to defend him ,so the ones who escaped conviniently put the blame on him to escape blame being put on themselves. however i reject this .

5) the battle of panipat -- by british historian elphistone.

6) history of mahrattas - - by british historian grant duff.

this gives a wonderful picture of the magnificience of the maratha army as it set out for panipat . this written , some 65 years after the battle , and grant duff had interviewed an extremely old man who gave an eyewitness account of the army he had actually seen with his own eyes.

7 ) oxford history of india -- by british historian vincent smith.

the numbers of the army ,and numbers killed on both sides , i have taken from here . he has been critisized for giving excessive numbers of maratha casualties by later historians ,but i feel they simply wanted to minimize the magnitude of the catastrophe.
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Old November 14th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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Originally Posted by ashdoc View Post
I have mainly relied on these books -----

1) Advanced study in the history of modern india --by punjabi historian J L Mehta.

2) Fall of the mughal empire -volume 2 , by bengali historian Jadunath sarkar

3) panipat 1761-- by marathi historian T S Shejwalkar .

4) panipat ( marathi novel )-- by vishvas patil .

patil has tried to exonerate bhau of his guilt , but i squarely put the blame on bhau , and also upto some extent ,the peshwa ,as they authorised bringing women ,camp followers , and servants along with huge baggage to the zone of battle ,which proved such a major burden on the army ,as a part of it had to be reserved for protecting them ,especially the women's honour ,instead of fighting.

patil says that bhau was dead , so no one was there to defend him ,so the ones who escaped conviniently put the blame on him to escape blame being put on themselves. however i reject this .

5) the battle of panipat -- by british historian elphistone.

6) history of mahrattas - - by british historian grant duff.

this gives a wonderful picture of the magnificience of the maratha army as it set out for panipat . this written , some 65 years after the battle , and grant duff had interviewed an extremely old man who gave an eyewitness account of the army he had actually seen with his own eyes.

7 ) oxford history of india -- by british historian vincent smith.

the numbers of the army ,and numbers killed on both sides , i have taken from here . he has been critisized for giving excessive numbers of maratha casualties by later historians ,but i feel they simply wanted to minimize the magnitude of the catastrophe.
why did u waste your medical seat??you should be a historian
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