Link | Monson’s Retreat: India,1804

An interesting account of the disastrous retreat of Lieutenant Colonel William Monson, at the The Battle of Mukandwara Pass (July 1804), often called “one of the greatest and most disgraceful setbacks to the British military reputation in India.”

“Lieutenant General Lord Gerald Lake (1744-1808; commander-in-chief in India from 1801 to 1805) and Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852; the future Duke of Wellington), in command of the British forces in the Deccan, received letters from Holkar which they found impudent with oriental braggadocio. At the same time Holkar was in communication with the vacillating British allies, Sindhia and Bhonsle, urging them to rise up against their British overlords. Lake, complaining to governor-general Richard Wellesley (1760-1842) that it would be impossible to dictate terms to Holkar without resorting to force, wrote, “I was never so plagued, as I am with this devil; he just, nay hardly, keeps within the letter of the law, by which means our army is remaining in the field at an enormous expense … ” Lord Wellesley, although already in trouble with the governors of the East India Company over the expense of his aggressive territorial ambitions, decided nonetheless that a quick victorious campaign would be cheaper than paying for an army of observation. It “…was manifestly a measure not only of just policy and necessary security, but of ultimate economy with reference to the finances of the honourable company,” he wrote to the government in an exercise of self-justification. Hostilities against Holkar commenced in April of 1804.”

(Via. The Napoleon Series; read the full article at Monson’s Retreat: India,1804)

Image from Wikipedia Commons. Arthur William Devis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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