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  3.30 The Storming of Seringapatam: D/Right Side  


©Anne Buddle
From the Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad. The Storming of Seringapatam in 1799, D/Right Side; 1800

Oil on canvas
88.9 x 243.8 (approx) cm

After SIR ROBERT KER PORTER (1777-1842)

lthough the British attack on Seringapatam was achieved immediately before the monsoon rains, and when the River Cauvery was at its lowest, the river bed was by no means completely dry. Thomas Beveridge, of Kinross in Fife, writing home five weeks after the Fall of Seringapatam, described the crossing at 'very tedious and difficult: in some places the water did not reach to our knees, and in others many were obliged to swim over.' Another soldier with the 73rd Regiment, an unidentified officer, writes of the violent storm of lightning and rain which descended at about four o'clock that afternoon, filling the trenches 'so that we were up to the middle in water, and I was so cold in my wet clothes, after having been scorched to death the whole day previous, that I would have given the world for a glass of any kind of spirits; but that was a luxury hardly to be got in camp, much less in our then situation.'


A Return of Tipu's forces for the 4th May records the number of men defending Seringapatam and the kingdom of Mysore itself:

  13,739 within the fort;
  8,100 without, in the trenches etc
  3,066 with Futtah Haidar, Tipu's son
  6,342 with Cummer-ud-din Khan, one of Tipu's commanders
  4,884 with Purneah, Tipu's Chief Minister

There were also detachments at Sedaseer, Anagoondy, Periapatam and other places - in all, some 48,000 men. Against this formidable army, on the British side, the 'General Return of Killed, Missing and Wounded in the Grand Army from 4th April - 4th May' recorded:
European Troops: 142 (181) Killed; 477 (622) Wounded ; 18 (22) Missing Native Troops: 103 (119) Killed; 324 (420) Wounded; 93 (100) Missing

Beatson's slightly higher figures, are included (thus). Among the officers (22 Killed, 45 Wounded) Lieut Lalor of the 73rd and Lieut Farquhar of the 74th were killed. An obelisk still stands on the island today, (between the Daria Daulat and Scott's Bungalow, near the old Roman Catholic Cemetery) commemorating men of the 12th and 74th Regiments who fell during the siege, and at the Breach itself, a monument commemorates the British and Native Troops who fought and died there.

Archibald Fergusson, of Dunfallandy House in Perthshire, was among those who managed to survive, despite an encounter with Tipu himself and a sabre-scar on his brow. The story is still told at the house today, and the legend has inspired two poems by the modern Scottish poet, Valerie Gillies. The closing lines of one, 'Seringapatam, Mysore State' are written in the Aberdeenshire dialect:

  . Srirangaputtana?
Thon's the battle of Seringapatam,
Said Granfaither, 'I've aye thocht
It was whaur your great grand uncle focht,
I hae his cartouche bag and powder horn.
They met wi the braw tiger troops haun tae haun,
In the river an up the brae, wi mony deid.
The hielanders played the pipes in the breach.'

For all those who survived, a Seringapatam medal was eventually issued, but recognition for many of the commanding officers was neither speedy nor generous. Major-General Baird was resentful of the promotion over him of young Colonel Wellesley; Richard Wellesley received an Irish Marquessate, not the Order of the Garter to which he aspired; the Commander in Chief himself, Lord Harris, refused an Irish peerage, but in 1815, received the Barony of 'Seringapatam and Mysore in the East Indies and of Belmont, co.Kent'. His coat of arms includes a representation of the fortress of Seringapatam, surmounted by a royal tiger, pierced in the chest, and with a Grenadier of the 73rd Regiment and a Madras sepoy as supporters.


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