ccording to Sir Walter Scott, Capt.
David Baird's mother, hearing
that he had been imprisoned after the Battle of Pollilur
in 1780, exclaimed 'pity the poor man who is chained to
Oor Davie.' Prisoners were frequently chained to each other
- dead or living - and if a prisoner died, his body was
lashed to a bamboo and taken outside as food for tigers.
Unlike Baird, many prisoners did not
survive these oppressive conditions.
Another drawing in the National Library of Scotland (Ms 3998 fol
47) shows a deputation of prisoners, headed by General Goldie and
including Capt Foulis and Lieut. Reid. According to the inscription,
'They are requesting Dr. Wm Rayne to return again to the prison,
despite the fact that his life had been threatened by a person called
Dupris, who had attempted to reveal a projected attack on the fortress
of Bangalore. The rest of the prisoners had resolved to put Dupris
to death, but refrained from doing so because they had no means
of secreting or disposing of the body.'
By contrast, the anonymous Officer of Col. Baillie's Attachment
recorded in his Narrative, Tipu's prisoners, 'recollecting
we were Britons, we endeavoured to resume our usual gaiety
of mind, determined by the help of Providence, to live out
every difficulty.' The same Narrative lists 'Expenses of
fitting up a Prisoner newly arrived at Seringapatam',
'One piece of coarse cloth, which makes two shirts'
'Leather and tape for galligaskins*'
'Straw for pillows'
An earthen chatty to eat off'
Half piece of Dungeree, for pillow cases, towels, etc' *The galligaskins
are made of leather, and wore under the irons to preserve the skin'
'Articles of Luxury, only to be obtained by the Opulent after a
Length of Saving' include a pen knife; paper; sweetmeats 'per stick';
limes, oranges, guavas and mangoes; 'dressing a hubble-bubble per
week'; keeping a pair of pigeons, per week; paint, paper, paste
etc for making a pack of cards.
Elaborate methods were devised of smuggling messages between
prisoners and to the outside world. Last words were scratched
on utensils, scraps of paper sewn into cloth buttons, and
tightly rolled messages concealed in quill pens. Lt.Col.
successfully concealed his letter of 16th July 1783
in this way. Writing from Bangalore prison, he asks for
money, and for news of the French peace, and add that 'Lt.
Fowles in 8th (ie. Capt. Alexander Foulis) left this place
about four months ago in good health.' Two hundred years
later, this tangible link with Tipu and his captive Scotsmen
is still preserved in the National
War Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle.
National Museums of Scotland (National War Museum of Scotland),
Edinburgh Museum No: M. 1996.52