aird was a popular and experienced
officer. His moment of glory came at 1.0 p.m. on 4th May
1799, when, signalling to his assembled troops, Baird led
the final attack on Seringapatam. The engraving, dedicated
to those who fought so gallantly there, is based on drawings
of a fellow Scot and the Deputy Quarter-Master General,
In the attack on Tipu's island capital,
timing was critical. Allan shows the River Cauvery at the time of
lowest water, when an army could ford the boulder- strewn bed before
the monsoon rains rendered it impassable. General Harris determined
to attack in the middle of the day, when the sun was high, and Tipu
and his army were taking refreshment. The fact that the British
camp had reached a state of near-faminine added urgency to the situation.
A breach had been made in the fortifications, and the defences had
been reconnoitred on 3rd May by Lieuts. Lalor and Farquhar. At 11.00
a.m. on 4th May, the British troops were briefed. Three Scotsmen
would lead and inspire them: - Sgt Graham,
leading the Forlorn Hope; Col. Dunlop
leading the left attack and Gen. Baird the right column. A dram
of whisky and a biscuit were then issued to the European troops,
before Baird drew his sword to signal the attack..Cheers resounded
along the trenches as the storming party dashed across the River
Cauvery. Within 16 minutes, they had crossed the river and the glacis
of the outer ditch, and had scaled the ramparts. Allan's
drawing and the related aquatint show the troops wheeling to
right and left, under heavy fire from Tipu's batteries.
The Governor General, Lord Mornington, praised 'the consummate
judgement with which the assault was planned, the unequalled
rapidity, animation and skill with which it was executed.'
Seringapatam medals, an example
of which is represented in the inscription below Allan's
scene, were awarded to all those
who had shown such 'Gallant Conduct on the brave occasion.'