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  #31  
Old November 16th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Ashdoc,

Reading what you have almost makes me live the story! Amazing narration. Full marks!

Someone should have been able to decapitate that bastard Abdalli!
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  #32  
Old November 16th, 2010, 02:38 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Ashdoc

Beautifully said,I felt as if I was there viewing it all,you should try your hand at script writing.

Keep writing
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  #33  
Old November 16th, 2010, 05:57 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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Originally Posted by ashdoc View Post
battle of panipat , phase two



here malhar-rao holkar had deliberately taken position , so as to be opposite najib khan rohilla , who was his secret friend . both had agreed not to attack each other . furthermore , at a prearrainged signal , malhar-rao left his position ,and escaped from the battlefield . najib did not attack him . thus malhar-rao made it to safety by his cunning methods , and went back home .
about 1500 maratha troops made it to safety with him.
Was this the same Malhar ba who was the confidant of Baji Rao Peshwa 1? He was so loyal then. How did he turn traitor?
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Old November 16th, 2010, 09:14 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Wonderful! Simply Wonderful! Loved it.

U should start writing
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Old November 16th, 2010, 09:17 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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U should start writing
he already wrote so much
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Old November 16th, 2010, 11:34 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

good !
reminded me of a schoolmate who was good at story telling !
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Old November 17th, 2010, 04:53 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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Originally Posted by viking View Post
Was this the same Malhar ba who was the confidant of Baji Rao Peshwa 1? He was so loyal then. How did he turn traitor?
applies to a general's behavior towards his subordinates ,especially when they are powerful; ,and command armies of their own . bhau antagonised malhar-rao holkar , ruler of malwa , by calling him a dhangar ( shepherd ) ,even though malhar-rao was giving sane advice to keep the women and old people back in the south , rather than bring them into the battle zone .the latter opened negotiations with najib khan of opposite camp ,and ultimately left marathas in the lurch in the battle.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 05:48 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

basic question..were mughals and ottomans the same??? and were nizamshah and adilshah of Tajikistani origin?
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  #39  
Old November 17th, 2010, 06:06 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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basic question..were mughals and ottomans the same??? and were nizamshah and adilshah of Tajikistani origin?
the nizamshah of ahmadnagar is different from the nizam of hyderabad..........both existed in different time-frames.

mughals were descendants of mongol invaders of central asia. the word mughal means mongol .

before the mongols came to central asia from mongolia ,the turks had already migrated from central asia to the region known as turkey.....later they formed the ottoman empire there.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 07:49 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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applies to a general's behavior towards his subordinates ,especially when they are powerful; ,and command armies of their own . bhau antagonised malhar-rao holkar , ruler of malwa , by calling him a dhangar ( shepherd ) ,even though malhar-rao was giving sane advice to keep the women and old people back in the south , rather than bring them into the battle zone .the latter opened negotiations with najib khan of opposite camp ,and ultimately left marathas in the lurch in the battle.
There must have been a reason why he called him dhangar. Was bhau provoked?
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Old November 17th, 2010, 07:55 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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basic question..were mughals and ottomans the same??? and were nizamshah and adilshah of Tajikistani origin?
Mughals had turkish blood in them as well..they were descendants of Timur who had both Mongol and Turkish blood in him. Babur came from Samarkand, but they were very different from cossacks.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 08:23 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

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There must have been a reason why he called him dhangar. Was bhau provoked?
obviously ,he did not like the whole concept of keeping back the women and old people.

he probably thought ,'' i have not brought these people all the way from the deccan for nothing . they have a piligrimage to do --at kurukshetra , and this fellow malhar is telling me to keep them back !! ''

there was pressure on bhau from the camp-followers to take them with him , as they wanted to do piligrimage . somebody named jereshastri , an old man exploded when he heard that the old people and women were going to come back......he had come all the way to see mathura , kurukshetra etc. , and the malhar was forming plans to not let him see it !!
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Old November 19th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

A response by a member of defenceforum. in ( defence forum of india ) ,when i copy-pasted my posts of this thread in that forum--

copy / paste--


@ashdoc.............A nice write up,congrats

While Bhausaheb deserves whatever reasonable criticism that must be directed against someone who lost a major battle,but history and historians have perchance been more harsh than whats was his due.

Bhausaheb was perhaps the first to realize,thanks to his exposure to the French and British in the south,the military revolution that the European armies had witnessed,esp disciplined regiments drilled line infantry, together with heavy artillery and shock cavalry.There was no doubt that when Bhausaheb was entrusted with taking on the Afghans,he probably took that as Peshwa's approval for his style of warfare.remember this was the same strategy of pulverizing enemy formation with heavy artillery that decades later helped Napoleon's France carve their grand empire in Europe.If Bhausaheb had succeeded, which he willy nilly almost did,he would have been hailed by later day historians as an Indian 'Napoleon'.

For all his conniving nature,Raghoba was nevertheless still probably the best candidate to lead the Maratha forces to the north.Not only had he led the same troops successfully against the Rohilla's and Abdali's forces in Punjab.Raghoba was infinitely more experience than the younger Bhausaheb,moreover he was familiar with terrain and was keenly aware of the battlefield logistics and topography on the north and would have been in a better position to take certain crucial decisions,which Bhausaheb given his relative experience in both in age and combat experience in north was unable to conclude.although Raghoba himself was not in the best of terms with the Jats,esp Surajmal,but he had that intimidating personality which could browbeat anyone to think twice from abandoning his side.

Bahusaeb's young age also prevented other Maratha sardars from taking him too seriously,which probably forced Bhauaheb to act and behave 'haughtily'.Moreover its clear from the order of battle that Maratha army was simply to large to be able be able to resort to guerrilla tactics,besides where was the need for it when Maratha's were now an imperial force and until the day of the battle enjoyed all military superiority on the ground.having brought the heavy artillery pieces all the way from Deccan,it was simply not feasible to abandon it at that stage,when the entire combat strategy of Bhausebheb was based on Gardi pulverizing Abdali with his 'shock and awe' and then follow it up with a cavalry charge to deal a death blow.Maratha's didn't chose Panipat,fate placed them there.

There are controversy regarding why Bhauseheb waited for almost three months after arriving at Delhi to seriously engage the Afghans.But its clear the decision to suspend combat was not his alone.Bhausaheb's letters from Delhi clearly indicate that h had been instructed by Peshwa Saheb to conclude possible peace terms with Afghans and in all probability that's what he had been doing those wasted months and while he was at that he received instructions to break off talks and engage Abdali in combat.If Bhausaheb was allowed to have his way he would have launched his strike on Abdali immediately after capturing Delhi.Again Bhausaheb cant be blamed for this fateful delay.

If Bhausaheb showed distrust towards Surajmal and Malharrao Holkar,he had every reason to be so.Holkar played a very dubious role during the entire period of the campaign and more so during the say of the fateful battle of panipat.Bhausaheb was probably aware of the nature of the correspondence Holkar had maintained with Najib Khan Rohilla.Moreover its clear Bhausaheb was still trying to make peace with Shujaud daulah and get him to defect from the Abdali camp.Shujaud daulah wanted for himself the wazirat of Delhi and Suraj Mal was set against Shuja and instead hoped to see Shuja's rival Imadul Mulk take the Wazir post.Clearly Suraj Mal and Bhausaheb were working towards opposite ends and this probably,more than Bhausaheb's haughtiness,encouraged Suraj Mal to abandon the Maratha camp midway.Suraj Mal trusted Holkar and wee are not sure what role Holkar played in the Jat kings abandonment.


The huge entourage that Maratha carried with them definitely proved fatal,esp when Afghans had cut off Maratha lines of communication ad supplies,however the fact is the entourage accompanying armies was not entirely uncommon in the 18th century.Abdali's own Zenana accompanied him to the battle field,but definitely they had a secure line of communication with Rohilla territory and had ample supply of food(once Maratha light cavalry under Govind pant bundela,which had interceded Abdali's communication lines were defeated and destroyed)Finally when it seemed Bhausaheb saw the wisdom in agreeing to abandon his artillery and send it along with woman and other non combatants to the safety of Delhi(under heavy cover)apparently Ibrahim Khan Gardi panicked and fearing Bhausaheb was deserting him,threatened to go over to Abdali or even take the woman and non combatants hostage and deliver them to Abdali.In this circumstance Bhausaheb was simply left with no choice now but stick to the original plan,or risk having to lose the war by having to negotiate for the safety of hostages.He found himself in an utterly damnable position even in his own camp.

Finally he was left with no money,no reinforcement that was promised to him by Peshwa saheb was on its way and a bunch old school Generals who were unwilling to fight his style of battle which would probably have delivered victory.

P.S:Sadashivrao Bhau's wife who accompanied Bhau to Panipat was Parvati Bai.
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  #44  
Old November 21st, 2010, 10:40 PM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Ashdocji ... your credentials are impeccable as well as of those who have participated ... in matters everything Indian history and its defenses ... no arguments. Too bad Jeetsinghji is awol or he could have added his own expertise to this thread. My compliments.

You are a history buff ... what if you guys were to use your knowledge of the past to predict the future ... say India 20 years from now? I am not thinking economy, defense and religious matters. India in relations with China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangla Desh and Sri Lanka?
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Old January 17th, 2011, 10:55 AM
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Re: Expedition to disaster--marathas at panipat

Interesting account of panipat battle--

THE Mahratta confederacy was in 1759 irresistible from the borders of Berar to the banks of the Ganges. On one side they were checked by the Nizam and Haidar, on the other by Shujaa-ud-daula, the young ruler of Audh. Between these limits they were practically paramount. To the westward a third Mohamadan power, the newly-formed Daurani empire, was no doubt a standing menace; but it is very possible that, with Ahmad Shah, as with the other Moslem chiefs, arrangements of a pacific nature might have been made. All turned upon the character and conduct of one man. That man was Sadasheo Rao, the cousin and minister of the Mahratta leader, the Peshwa, into whose hands had fallen the sway of Mahratta power. For their titular head, the descendant of Sivaji the original founder, was a puppet, almost a prisoner, such as we, not many years ago, considered the Mikado of Japan.

The state of the country is thus described by a contemporary historian, quoted by Tod: — "The people of Hindustan at this period thought only of personal safety and gratification. Misery was disregarded by those who escaped it; and man, centred solely in self, felt not for his kind. This selfishness, destructive of public, as of private, virtue, became universal in Hindustan after the invasion of Nadir Shah; nor have the people become more virtuous since, and consequently are neither happy nor more independent."

Ahmad Khan (known as "the Abdali"), whom we are now to recognise as Ahmad Shah, the Daurani emperor, returned to Hindustan (as stated in the last chapter) late in the summer, and marched to Dehli, when he heard of the murder of Alamgir II. The execrable Shahabuddin (or Ghazi-ud-din the younger) fled at his approach, taking refuge with the Jats. Mahratta troops, who had occupied some places of strength in the Panjab, were defeated and driven in. The capital was again occupied and plundered, after which the Shah retired to the territory of his ally Najib, and summoned to his standard the chiefs of the Rohillas. On the other hand the Mahrattas, inviting to their aid the leaders of the Rajputs and Jats, moved up from the South. They possessed themselves of the capital in December 1759.

The main force of the Mahrattas that left the Deccan consisted of 20,000 chosen horse, under the immediate command of the minister, Sadasheo, whom for convenience we may in future call by his title of "the Bhao." He also took with him a powerful disciplined corps of 10,000 men, infantry and artillery, under a Mohamadan soldier of fortune, named Ibrahim Khan. This general had learned French discipline as commandant de la qarde to Bussy, and bore the title, or nickname, of "gardi," a souvenir of his professional origin.

The Bhao's progress was joined by Mahratta forces under Holkar, Sindhia, the Gaikwar, Gobind Pant, and others. Many of the Rajput States contributed, and Suraj Mal brought a contingent of 20,000 hardy Jats. Hinduism was uniting for a grand effort; Islam was rallied into cohesion by the necessity of resistance. Each party was earnestly longing for the alliance of the Shias under Shujaa, Viceroy of Audh, whose antecedents led men on both sides to look upon them as neutral.

The Bhao had much prestige. Hitherto always victorious, his personal reputation inspired great respect. His camp, enriched with the plunder of Hindustan, was on a scale of unwonted splendour. "The lofty and spacious tents," says Grant-Duff, "lined with silks and broadcloths, were surmounted by large gilded ornaments, conspicuous at a distance..... Vast numbers of elephants, flags of all descriptions, the finest horses, magnificently caparisoned .... seemed to be collected from every quarter .... it was an imitation of the more becoming and tasteful array of the Moghuls in the zenith of their glory." Nor was this the only innovation. Hitherto the Mahrattas had been light horsemen, each man carrying his food, forage, bedding, head and heel ropes, as part of his accoutrements; marching fifty miles after a defeat, and then halting in complete readiness to "fight another day." Now, for the first time, they were to be supported by a regular park of artillery, and a regular force of drilled infantry. But all these seeming advantages only precipitated and rendered more complete and terrible their ultimate overthrow.

Holkar and Suraj Mal, true to the instincts of their old predatory experience, urged upon the Bhao, that regular warfare was not the game that they knew. They counselled, therefore, that the families and tents, and all heavy equipments, should be left in some strong place of safety, such as the almost impregnable forts of Jhansi and Gwalior, while their clouds of horse harassed the enemy and wasted the country before and round him. But the Bhao rejected these prudent counsels with contempt. He had seen the effect of discipline and guns in Southern war; and, not without a shrewd foresight of what was afterwards to be accomplished by a man then in his train, resolved to try the effect of scientific soldiership, as he understood it. The determination proved his ruin; not because the instrument he chose was not the best, but because it was not complete, and because he did not know how to handle it. When Madhoji Sindhia, after a lapse of twenty years, mastered all Asiatic opposition by the employment of the same instrument, he had a European general, the Count de Boigne, who was one of the great captains of his age; and he allowed him to use his own strategy and tactics. Then, the regular battalions and batteries, becoming the nucleus of the army, were moved with resolution and aggressive purpose, while the cavalry only acted for purposes of escort, reconnoissance, and pursuit. In the fatal campaign before us, we shall find the disciplined troops doing all that could fairly be expected of them under Asiatic leaders, but failing for want of numbers, and of generalship.

On arriving at Dehli, the Bhao surrounded the citadel in which was situated the palace of the emperors. It was tenanted by a weak Musalman force, which had been hastily thrown in under the command of a nephew of Shah Wali Khan, the Daurani Vazir. After a brief bombardment, this garrison capitulated, and the Bhao took possession and plundered the last remaining effects of the emperors, including the silver ceiling of the divan khas, which was thrown into the melting-pot and furnished seventeen lakhs of rupees ( 170,000).

Ahmad, in the meantime, was cantoned at Anupshahr, on the frontier of the Rohilla country, where he was compelled to remain while his negotiations with Shujaa were pending. So came on the summer of 1760, and the rainy season was at hand, during which, in an unbridged country, military operations could not be carried on. All the more needful that the time of enforced leisure should be given to preparation. Najib, the head of the Rohillas, was very urgent with the Shah that Shujaa should be persuaded to take part against the Mahrattas. He pointed out that, such as the Moghul empire might be, Shujaa was its Vazir. As Ahmad Shah had hitherto been foiled by the late Nawab Safdar Jang, it was for his majesty to judge how useful might be the friendship of a potentate whose predecessor's hostility had been so formidable. "But," added the prudent Rohilla, "it must be remembered that the recollection of the past will make the Vazir timorous and suspicious. The negotiation will be as delicate as important. It should not be entrusted to ordinary agency, or to the impersonal channel of epistolary correspondence."

The Shah approved of these reasonings, and it was resolved that Najib himself should visit the Vazir, and lay before him the cause which he so well understood, and in which his own interest was so deep. The envoy proceeded towards Audh, and found the Vazir encamped upon the Ganges at Mahdi Ghat. He lost no time in opening the matter; and, with the good sense that always characterized him, Najib touched at once the potent spring of self. Shia or Sunni, all Moslems were alike the object of Mahratta enmity. He, Najib, knew full well what to expect, should the Hindu league prevail. But would the Vazir fare better? "Though, after all, the will of God will be done, it behoves us not the less to help destiny to be beneficent by our own best endeavours. Think carefully, consult Her Highness, your mother: I am not fond of trouble, and should not have come all this distance to see your Excellency were I not deeply interested." Such, as we learn from an adherent of Shujaa's, was the substance of the advice given him by the Rohilla chieftain.

The nature of these negotiations is not left to conjecture. The narrative of what occurred is supplied by Kasi Raj Pandit, a Hindu writer in the service of the Nawab Vazir, and an eye-witness of the whole campaign. He was present in both camps, having been employed in the negotiations which took place between the Mahrattas and Mohamadans; and his account of the battle (of which a translation appeared in the Asiatic Researches for 1791, reprinted in London in 1799) is at once the most authentic that has come down to our times, and the best description of war ever recorded by a Hindu.

Shujaa-ud-daulah, after anxious deliberation, resolved to adopt the advice of his Rohilla visitor. And, having so resolved, he adhered honestly to his resolution. He sent his family to Lucknow, and accompanied Najib to Anupshahr, where he was warmly received by the Daurani Shah, and his minister Shah Wali Khan.

Shortly after, the united forces of the Moslems moved down to Shahdara, the hunting-ground of the emperors, near Dehli, from which, indeed, it was only separated by the river Jamna. But, the monsoon having set in, the encounter of the hostile armies was for the present impossible. The interval was occupied in negotiation. The Bhao first attempted the virtue of Shujaa, whom he tempted with large offers to desert the Sunni cause. Shujaa amused him with messages in which our Pandit acted as go-between; but all was conducted with the knowledge of Najib, who was fully consulted by the Nawab Vazir throughout. The Shah's minister, also, was aware of the transaction, and apparently disposed to grant terms to the Hindus. Advantage was taken of the opportunity, and of the old alliance between Shujaa and the Jats, to shake the confidence of Suraj Mal, and persuade him to abandon the league, which he very willingly did when his advice was so haughtily rejected. It was the opinion of our Pandit, that a partition of the country might even now have been effected had either party been earnest in desiring peace. He did not evidently know what were the Bhao's real feelings, but probably judged him by the rest of his conduct, which was that of a bold, ambitious statesman. From what he saw in the other camp, he may well have concluded that Najib had some far-seeing scheme on foot, which kept him from sincerely forwarding the proposed treaty. Certainly that astute Rohilla was ultimately the greatest gainer from the anxieties and sufferings of the campaign. But the first act of hostility came from the Bhao, who moved up stream to turn the invader's flank.

About eighty miles north of Dehli, on the meadowlands lying between the Western Jamna Canal and the river (from whose right bank it is about two miles distant), stands the small town of Kunjpura. In the invasion of Nadir Shah, it had been occupied by a force of Persian sharpshooters, who had inflicted much loss on the Moghul army from its cover. Induced, perhaps, by the remembrance of those days, Ahmad had made the mistake of placing in it a garrison of his own people, from which he was now separated by the broad stream of the Jamna, brimming with autumnal floods. Here the Bhao struck his first blow, taking the whole Afghan garrison prisoners after an obstinate defence, and giving up the place to plunder, while the main Afghan army sat idle on the other side.

At length arrived the Dasahra, the anniversary of the attack of Lanka by the demigod Ram, a proverbial and almost sacred day of omen for the commencement of Hindu military expeditions. Ahmad adopted the auspices of his enemy and reviewed his troops the day before the festival. The state of his forces is positively given by the Pandit, as consisting of 28,000 Afghans, powerful men, mounted on hardy Turkoman horses, forty pieces of cannon, besides light guns mounted on camels; with some 28,000 horse, 38,000 foot, and about forty guns, under the Hindustani Musalmans. The Mahrattas had more cavalry, fewer foot, and an artillery of 200 guns; in addition to which they were aided, if aid it could be called in regular warfare, by clouds of predatory horsemen, making up their whole force to over 200,000, mostly, as it turned out, food for the sabre and the gun.

On the 17th of October, 1760, the Afghan host and its allies broke up from Shahdara; and between the 23rd and 25th effected a crossing at Baghpat, a small town about twenty-four miles up the river. The position of the hostile armies was thus reversed; that of the northern invaders being nearer Dehli, with the whole of Hindustan at their backs, while the Southern defenders of their country were in the attitude of men marching down from the north-west with nothing behind them but the dry and war-wasted plains of Sirhind. In the afternoon of the 26th, Ahmad's advanced guard reached Sambalka, about half-way between Sonpat and Panipat, where they encountered the vanguard of the Mahrattas. A sharp conflict ensued, in which the Afghans lost a thousand men, killed and wounded, but drove back the Mahrattas on their main body, which kept on retreating slowly for several days, contesting every inch of the ground until they reached Panipat. Here the camp was finally pitched in and about the town, and the position was at once covered by digging a trench sixty feet wide and twelve deep, with a rampart on which the guns were mounted. The Shah took up ground four miles to the south, protecting his position by abattis of felled timber, according to his usual practice, but pitching in front a small unprotected tent from which to make his own observations.

The small reverse of the Mahrattas at Sambalka was soon followed by others, and hopes of a pacific solution became more and more faint. Gobind Pant Bundela, foraging near Meerut with 10,000 light cavalry, was surprised and slain by Atai Khan at the head of a similar party of Afghans. The terror caused by this affair paralysed the Bhao's commissariat, while it greatly facilitated the foraging of the Shah. Shortly after, a party of 2,000 Mahratta horsemen, each carrying a keg of specie from Dehli, fell upon the Afghan pickets, which they mistook for their own in the dark of night. On their answering in their own language to the sentry's challenge, they were surrounded and cut up by the enemy, and something like 200,000 in silver was lost to the Bhao. Ibrahim and his disciplined mercenaries now became very clamorous for their arrears of pay, on which Holkar proposed that the cavalry should make an immediate attack without them. The Bhao ironically acquiesced, and turned the tables upon Holkar, who probably meant nothing less than to lead so hare-brained a movement.

During the next two months constant skirmishes and duels took place between parties and individual champions upon either side. In one of these Najib lost 3,000 of his Rohillas, and was very near perishing himself; and the chiefs of the Indian Musalmans became at last very urgent with the Shah to put an end to their suspense by bringing on a decisive action. But the Shah, with the patience of a great leader, as steadily repressed their ardour, knowing very well that (to use the words of a modern leader on a similar occasion) the enemy were all the while "stewing in their own-gravy." For this is one of the sure marks of a conqueror, that he makes of his own troubles a measure of his antagonist's misfortunes; so that they become a ground, not of losing heart, but of gaining courage.

Meanwhile the vigilance of his patrol, for which service he had 5,000 of his best cavalry employed through the long winter nights, created almost a blockade of the Mahrattas. On one occasion 20,000 of their camp-followers, who had gone to collect provisions, were massacred in a wood near the camps by this vigilant force.

The Bhao's spirit sank under these repeated blows and warnings, and he sent to the Nawab Vazir, Shujaa-ud-daulah, to offer to accept any conditions that might still be obtainable. All the other chiefs were willing, and the Shah referred them to the Rohillas. But Najib proved implacable. The Pandit went to the Rohilla leader, and urged on him every possible consideration that might persuade him to agree. But his clear good sense perceived the nature of the crisis. "I would do much," he said, "to gratify, the Nawab and show my respect for his Excellency. But oaths are not chains; they are only words, things that will never bind the enemy when once he has escaped from the dangers which compel him to undertake them. By one effort we can get this thorn out of our sides."

Proceeding to the Shah's tent he obtained instant admission, though it was now midnight. Here he repeated his arguments; adding that whatever his Majesty's decision might be was personally immaterial to himself. "For I," he concluded, "am but a soldier of fortune, and can make terms for myself with either party." The blunt counsel pleased the Shah. "You are right, Najib," said Ahmad, "and the Nawab is misled by the impulses of youth. I disbelieve in the Mahratta penitence, and I am not going to throw you over whom I have all along regarded as the manager of this affair. Though in my position I must hear every one, yet I promise never to act against your advice."

While these things were passing in the Moslem camp, the Mahrattas, having exhausted their last resource by the plunder of the town of Panipat, sent all their chiefs on the same evening to meet in the great durbar-tent. It was now the 6th of January, and we may fancy the shivering, starving Southerners crouched on the ground and discussing their griefs by the wild torchlight. They represented that they had not tasted food for two days, and were ready to die fighting, but not to die of hunger. Pan was distributed, and all swore to go out an hour before daybreak and drive away the invaders or perish in the attempt.

As a supreme effort, the Bhao, whose outward bearing at durbar had been gallant and dignified, had despatched a short note to our Pandit, who gives the exact text. "The cup is full to the brim, and cannot hold another drop. If anything can be done, do it. If not, let me know plainly and at once; for afterwards there will be no time for writing, or for speech." The Pandit was with Shujaa, by the time this note arrived — the hour was 3 A.M. — and he handed it to his master, who began to examine the messenger. While he was so doing, his spies ran in with the intelligence that the Mahrattas had left their lines. Shujaa, at once hastened to the Shah's tent.

Ahmad had lain down to rest, but his horse was held ready saddled at the entry. He rose from his couch and asked, "What news?" The Nawab told him what he had heard. The Shah immediately mounted and sent for the Pandit. While the latter was corroborating the tidings brought by his master, Ahmad, sitting on his horse, was smoking a Persian pipe and peering into the darkness. All at once the Mahratta cannon opened fire, on which the Shah, handing his pipe to an orderly, said calmly to the Nawab, "Your follower's news was very true I see." Then summoning his prime minister, Shah Wali, and Shah Pasand the chief of his staff, he made his dispositions for a general engagement when the light of day came.

Yes, the news was true. Soon after the despatch of the Bhao's note, the Mahratta troops broke their fast with the last remaining grain in camp, and prepared for a mortal combat; coming forth from their lines with turbans dishevelled and turmeric-smeared faces, like devotees of death. They marched in an oblique line, with their left in front, preceded by their guns, small and great. The Bhao, with the Peshwa's son and the household troops, was in the centre. The left wing consisted of the gardis under Ibrahim Khan; Holkar and Sindhia were on the extreme right.

On the other side the Afghans formed a somewhat similar line, their left being formed by Najib's Rohillas, and their right by two brigades of Persian troops. Their left centre was led by the two vazirs, Shujaa-ud-daulah and Shah Wali. The right centre consisted of Rohillas, under the well-known Hafiz Rahmat and other chiefs of the Indian Pathans. Day broke, but the Afghan artillery for the most part kept silence, while that of the enemy, losing range in its constant advance, threw away its ammunition over the heads of the enemy and dropped its shot a mile to their rear. Shah Pasand Khan covered the left wing with a choice body of mailed Afghan horsemen, and in this order the army moved forward, leaving the Shah at his usual post in the little tent, which was now in rear of the line, from whence he could watch and direct the battle.

On the other side no great precautions seem to have been taken, except indeed by the gardis and their vigilant leader, who advanced in silence and without firing a shot, with two battalions of infantry bent back to their left flank, to cover their advance from the attack of the Persian cavalry forming the extreme right of the enemy's line. The valiant veteran soon showed the worth of French discipline, and another division such as his would have probably gained the day. Well mounted and armed, and carrying in his own hand the colours of his own personal command, he led his men against the Rohilkhand columns with fixed bayonets, and to so much effect that nearly 8,000 were put hors de combat. For three hours the gardis remained in unchallenged possession of that part of the field. Shujaa-ud-daulah, with his small but compact force, remained stationary, neither fighting nor flying, and the Mahrattas forebore to attack him. The corps between this and the Pathans was that of the Daurani Vazir, and it suffered severely from the shock of an attack delivered upon them by the Bhao himself at the head of the household troops. The Pandit, being sent through the dust to inform Shujaa of what was going on, found Shah Wali vainly trying to rally the courage of his followers, of whom many were in full retreat. "Whither would you run, friends," cried the Vazir, "your country is far from here."

Meanwhile, on the left of the Mohamadan line, the prudent Najib had masked his advance by a series of breastworks, under cover of which he had gradually approached the hostile force. "I have the highest stake to-day," he said, "and cannot afford to make any mistakes." The part of the enemy's force immediately opposed to him was commanded by the then head of the Sindhia house, who was Najib's personal enemy. Till noon Najib remained on the defensive, keeping off all close attacks upon his earthworks by continuous discharges of rockets. But so far the fortune of the day was evidently inclined towards the Mahrattas. The Mohamadans' left still held their own under the two Vazirs and Najib; but the centre was cut in two, and the right was almost destroyed. Victory seemed to await the Mahrattas.

Of the circumstances which turned the tide and gave the crisis to the Moslems, but one account necessarily exists. Hitherto we have had the guidance of Grant-Duff for the Mahratta side of the affair, but now the whole movement was to be from the other side, and we cannot do better than trust the Pandit. Dow, the only other contemporary author of importance — if we except Gholam Hosain, who wrote at a very remote place — is most irremediably inaccurate and vague about all these transactions. The Pandit, then, informs us that, during those earlier hours of the conflict, the Shah had watched the fortunes of the battle from his tent, guarded by the still unbroken forces on his left. But now, hearing that his right was reeling and his centre was defeated, he felt that the moment was come for a final effort. In front of him the Hindu cries of Har! Har! Jai Mahadeo! were maintaining an equal and dreadful concert with those of Allah! Allah! Din! Din! from his own side. The battle wavered to and fro like that of Flodden as described by Scott. The Shah saw the critical moment in the very act of passing. He therefore sent 500 of his own body-guard with orders to arise all able-bodied men out of camp, and send them to the front at any cost. 1,500 more he sent to encounter those who were flying, and slay without pity any who would not return to the fight. These, with 4,000 of his reserve troops, went to support the broken ranks of the Rohilla Pathans on the right. The remainder of the reserve, 10,000 strong, were sent to the aid of Shah Wali, still labouring unequally against the Bhao in the centre of the field. The Shah's orders were clear. These mailed warriors were to charge with the Vazir in close order, and at full gallop. As often as they charged the enemy in front, the chief of the staff and Najib were directed to fall upon either flank. These orders were immediately carried out.

The forward movement of the Moslems began at 1 P.M. The fight was close and obstinate, men fighting with swords, spears, axes, and even with daggers. Between 2 and 3 P.M. the Peshwa's son was wounded, and, having fallen from his horse, was placed upon an elephant. The last thing seen of the Bhao was his dismounting from another elephant, and getting on his Arab charger. Soon after the young chief was slain. The next moment Holkar and the Gaikwar left the field. In that instant resistance ceased, and the Mahrattas all at once became helpless victims of butchery. Thousands were cut down; other thousands were drowned in escaping, or were slaughtered by the country people whom they had so long pillaged. The Shah and his principal commanders then retired to camp, leaving the pursuit to be completed by subordinate officers. Forty thousand prisoners are said to have been slain. Among the prisoners was Ibrahim, the valiant and skilful leader of the gardis. Though severely wounded, he was taken care of in Shujaa's tents, where his wounds received surgical attention. Shujaa also endeavoured to extend protection to the head of the house of Sindhia. A subordinate member of the clan, the afterwards celebrated Madhoji — who was to become in his turn master of the whole country — fled from the field; and the late Colonel Skinner used to describe how this chief — in whose service he at one time was — would relate the mental agonies he endured on his light Deccanee mare from the lobbing paces and roaring breath of a big Northern horse, on which he was pursued for many miles by an Afghan, greedy of blood and booty.

Jankoji, the then head of the family, was killed next day, a victim to the enmity of Najib, whose policy included relentlessness. Ibrahim Gardi was taken from Shujaa by a mixture of force and fraud. He was put into the charge of the Afghan Vazir, and died in that charge a week after. A headless body, supposed to be that of the Bhao, was found some twenty or thirty miles off. The body, with that of the Peshwa's son, received the usual honours of Hindu cremation at the prayer of the Nawab Shujaa. Several pretenders to the name of this Oriental Sebastian afterwards appeared from time to time; the last was in captivity in 1782, when Warren Hastings procured his liberation.

After these things the allies moved to Dehli; but the Daurani troops became mutinous and quarrelsome; and they parted on ill terms. Shujaa marched back to Mahdi Ghat, whence he had come six months before, with the titular appointment of Vazir of the Empire. The Shah, having written to the fugitive Shah Alam, to salute him as emperor, got what money he could out of the exhausted treasury and departed to his own country. Najib Khan remained at Dehli under the title of Najib-ud-daulah, with a son of the absent emperor as ostensible regent. Having made these dispositions, Ahmad the Abdali returned to his own country, and only once again interposed actively in the affairs of the Indian peninsula.

Such was the famous Campaign of Panipat, the first disaster, on a great scale, of the power of the Mahratta confederacy, and the besom which swept the land of Hindustan for the advent of the British.

It appears that, at this period, the Shahzada had applied to Colonel Clive for an Asylum in Calcutta, while the Colonel was at the same time in receipt of a letter from the minister at Dehli — the unscrupulous Ghazi-ud-din — calling on him to arrest the prince as a rebel and forward him to Court in custody. Clive contented himself by sending him a small present in money. About the same time, however, Clive wrote to Lord Chatham (then Prime Minister, and Mr. Pitt), recommending the issue of orders sanctioning his demanding the Viceroyship of the Eastern Subahs on behalf of the King of England; an application which he guaranteed the Emperor's granting on being assured of the punctual payment of fifty lakhs a year, the estimated fifth of the revenues. "This," he says, "has of late been very ill-paid, owing to the distractions in the heart of the Moghul Empire, which have prevented the Court from attending to their concerns in those distant provinces." Although nothing came of these proceedings, they are here noted as the presage of future events.

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