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  3.27 The Assault of Seringapatam , 1799  

©The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh
(National War Museum of Scotland)
The Assault of Seringapatam dedicated to Maj.Gen. David Baird in 1799; 1802

Coloured aquatint
43.1 x 59 cm


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, Major Allan.

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.'

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