Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

lo Cundapore, and all communication being now cut off with general Mathews, captain Torriano conceived a design of saving Cundapore, as no enemy had been seen when the last fugitives left the place. But it was soon rendered fruitless hy still later intelligence, that the enemy were in possesion of it. This being the case, boats and canoes were in constant attendance on the south side of Onore river, to bring over such of the fugitives from Cundapore as escaped the villagers, who every where turned out against them: fortunately many arrived safe. The commanding officer, to alleviate their situation, and encourage a more soldierlike behaviour, made each European a present of a little money, to procure the necessaries they stood so much in need of.

Early on the 21st six Europeans appearing on the south bank of the river, a boat was sent to bring them over. These with a larger party, under the command of cornet Rowland, had escaped in one of the boats originally dispatched by captain Torriano with a view to the repossession of Cundapore, which proving leaky, obliged them to land the preceding evening, some miles below Onore, whither they were now on their march. Boats were immediately sent over for their accommodation, and in a few hours they appeared marching in regular order to the water side; with Missauber, a subahdar, at their head. The cornet being ill, the subahdar had procured him a litter, in which he accompanied the detachment. This circumstance is particularly mentioned, be- ; cause, at this critical period, it was a happy demonstration that the contagion from our loss of Hyder-nuggur, which had already infected the country, had there been checked.

The exertions of the Onore garrison, which had been ever

active, were now increased in proportion to the superior importance it derived from our loss and disgrace in other quarters; and to that necessity of defending the fortress against a triumphant enemy, whose near approach was announced by the reports received from the neighbouring districts. The attentions and precautions now rendered necessary by a reverse of fortune already mentioned were not confined to Onore. Effectual means were immediately adopted, after the loss of Cundapore, to prevent the ships daily expected with reinforcements and stores from Bombay, from putting into that port. Night signals were constantly made, and pattamar-boats cruised in their track, to give timely notice. Nor was this vigilance useless; a fleet being then on its passage from Bombay, conveying a reinforcement for the army, as also a committee of gentlemen appointed by the governor and council for the civil government of Bednore. This fleet parted company in a gale of wind, and many of the vessels standing in for Cundapore, were thus prevented from entering a hostile port.

On the 30th captain Nugent, commanding the first battalion of Bombay sepoys, arrived at Onore with a letter from the Bednore comunittee to the commandant of Onore; an extract from whose answer, dated May 2d, will explain its purport. “ Should I admit the propriety of obeying your orders to destroy and evacuate. Onore fort, so directly contrary to those I have received from the commander in chief of the army, I am still of opinion, the executing them at this period would be injurious to the welfare of the present service, having a quantity of powder, stores, and rice, belonging to the army in this depot. The enemy, now

no

encamped on the opposite side of Onore river, threaten the destruction of every inhabitant who has shewn the least attachment to the British government; should the fort be evacuated, they will obtain possession of all the grain in the Onore district, which I am now purchasing, and laying up in store for the army; which from the quantity sent to Bombay from Mangulore, and lost at Cundapore and other posts abandoned to the enemy, may stand greatly in need of that necessary article before the next harvest. I am not at all apprehensive respecting the safety of Onore; which I will defend with fifty regulars, and the recruits, while we have an army in the field; but desirous of adopting any measure for the interest of the service, I could wish, gentlemen, that, if possible, all orders from you may come through the commander in chief of the British army, or the officer commanding the troops on this side the Ghauts, which shall be immediately obeyed.”

On the 12th of May captain Torriano received intelligence, that Lutoph Ally Beg, a veteran Persian officer in the nabob's service, was on his march to besiege Onore with ten thousand men. In order to give some confidence to a small garrison, the greater part composed of raw recruits, and fugitives from the posts abandoned by the English, they were immediately encamped near the glacis without the fort, and the remains of the cavalry furnished with such arms and furniture as our situation would admit of. On discovering the enemy, captain Torriano, with a party of sepoys, the cavalry, and a one pounder field-piece, advanced towards the hills, while small parties of sepoys were detached to different quarters of the village, where some of their horse were perceived; those on the hill approached, but were soon dispersed by a few shot from the field-piece. The next morning the enemy appeared in much greater force.

On the arrival of Lutoph Ally's army, between two and three thousand inhabitants of the town of Onore who had fled from their habitations during the siege by the English, and returned bome under the protection of the company's government, once more forsaking their shops and houses, flocked in terror to the out-works of the fortress, and inplored protection. There being no alternative between granting their supplications, or abandoning them to certain death from a cruel despot, they were instantly permitted to enter. .

The same day a letter was sent to captain Torriano from Lutoph Ally, informing him the nabob had reconquered Bednore, and represented the impossibility of defending Onore, now that the former important post, with the flower of the British army, had fallen into his master's possession; at the same time observing, that no culpability could attach to the commandant for giving up the fort of Onore, when a large force was marching to besiege it. To this a polite answer was returned. Shortly afterwards a reconpoitring party of the Onore cavalry, commanded by captain Torriano, came suddenly upon the enemy's advanced post at the village, consisting of a small detachment of horse and foot, who Aed precipitately on the first charge. We took eleven prisoners, two of whom proved to be deserters from our cavalry at Bednore. They confirmed the distressing report of the loss of that place, and the imprisonment of the army commanded by general Mathews,

On the 17th of May parties of the enemy were moving in different directions on the opposite banks, and a second letter was sent from Lutoph Ally, repeating the contents of the former; and urging, as an additional motive to a surrender of the fort, that the batteries would be finished and mounted with heavy cannon in two days; to this no answer was returned. The next day brought intelligence from undoubted authority of the capture of Bednore, and the loss of the British army.

Early in the morning of the 10th of June the enemy opened his battery, and kept it up the next day from seven pieces of cannon, twelve and eighteen pounders. As they constantly drew the guns within the merlons after firing, the fort was cautious in its firing slowly, from such guns only as played directly into their embrazures. This was renewed for four hours the day following, when the guns were better served than usual, and no longer withdrawn. As the stock of eighteen pound shot in the garrison was small, the fire from it was deliberately and carefully managed; and its aim confined to disabling the enemy's guns. The fortress now began to suffer greatly from the weakness of its defences. The rampart was narrow and bad; the high walls not more than three feet thick, generally more a mass of mud than of masonry, and through which an eighteen-pound shot easily passed. Against these and the cavalier tower, the enemy had hitherto principally directed his fire. The engineer, lieutenant Blachford, an active and spirited young man, and all the officers, laboured indefatigably to remedy these defects by field works. An embrazure was opened to the right of the cavalier, to effect a more direct fire on their eighteen pounder, and the palisading of the covert

« ForrigeFortsett »