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Fourth Anglo-Mysore War

  • Name of the Battle: Fourth Anglo-Mysore War
  • Venue: South India
  • Year: 1799

Among all the heroes who fought against the British on the Indian subcontinent, the king of Mysore, Tipu Sutan’s name always remains at the top as the most prominent hero in the history of India. He had very few equals. He was a great warrior, fought many battles, had high knowledge of the art of administration and was well-educated. During his rule, Mysore prospered and he always wanted to make Mysore a much stronger and powerful state.

The fourth Mysore war was fought between Tipu Sultan and East India Company under General Lord Mornington. It was the last conflict of the Anglo-Mysore wars that took place in South India, in which Tipu Sultan was defeated and the Kingdom of Mysore became a princely state of the British, along with Coimbatore, Uttara Kannada, and Dakshina Kannada.

The reasons that led to the battle

When Tipu Sultan was defeated in the third Anglo-Mysore war, he wanted to take revenge on the British and wanted to get back his lost territory. He wanted to make Mysore a strong state. To avenge his humiliating defeat, he sought the help from the rulers of the countries like France, Turkey, Arabia and Kabul, He wanted to drive the British out of India. He supported the revolutionary France Government in 1798. When Napolean came to power, Tipu was an ally of the French. The growing friendliness between Tipu Sultan and the French made the British cautious.

Lord Wellesley arrived at Madras on 26 April 1798 and he wanted to take a drastic step to stop the alliance between the French and Tipu Sultan. He was hell bent upon declaring a war against Tipu which the Court of Directors of the East India Company were against. Lord Wellesly revived the Triple Alliance of 1790 and the Nizam was brought to his side under a subsidiary alliance. As per this treaty, the Nizam gave up his French troops and accepted a subsidiary force of the British for his protection. Lord Wellesley then asked Tipu Sultan to make a similar subsidiary alliance with the British which he refused out-rightly. Thus, Wellesley wanted to see the end of Tipu Sultan and this led to the fourth and final battle between Mysore and East India Company. Wellesley declared war against Tipu Sultan on 22 February 1799. The primary objective of the British was to control the rising power of Tipu Sultan in South India and strengthen its position in the region.

The strength of the warring forces

The British East India Company had about 26,000 soldiers, including 4,000 Europeans and the rest, Indians. The Nizam of Hyderabad who supported the British provided the British army with ten battalions and over 16,000 cavalry. Many soldiers were sent by the Marathas. Thus, the British East India company had a total of over 50,000 soldiers in the fourth Mysore war. On the other hand, Tippu Sultan had only about 30,000 soldiers.

Aftermath of the battle: winner and loser
  • Winner: British East India Company
  • Loser: Tipu Sultan, the King of Mysore

A three month campaign was launched by the British using two forces of army, one led by General George Harris from Vellore and the other led by Colonel James Stuart from Cannanore. Both the troops marched into Mysore in 1799 and attacked Tipu Sultan and his men from all sides. The British were also supported by the Nizam. The fourth Mysore war was of short duration. But the tiger of Mysore fought bravely but was not successful in blocking the march of the British towards his capital. On 5 March 1799, he suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Stuart at Sedaseer, forty miles west of Seringapatam. On 27 March 1799, he lost another battle at Malvelley, which was thirty miles east of Seringapatam. Eventually the Bombay force of the British too joined in. Tipu started losing his men and force. The English wanted a peace retreat by Tipu Sultan under certain conditions, which Tipu refused. Tipu Sultan continued his fight against the British. His burning desire to avenge the British went on, till he fell in the battlefield and breathed his last on 4 May 1799.

The larger implications of the battle

The fourth Mysore war was the last of the Anglo Mysore wars. An indirect control of the capital of Tipu Sultan, Seringapatam and Mysore came under the hands of the British. They re-established the Wodeyar dynasty to the Mysore throne. Fateh Ali, Tipu's young successor, was sent into exile. The Kingdom of Mysore became a princely state of British India. The members of the family of Tipu Sultan were first kept at Vellore and later they were deported to Calcutta.

The overall place and significance of the battle in the Indian history

With the death of Tipu Sultan, the supremacy of the English was more or less established in the Indian subcontinent. The fall of Seringapatam, the capital of Tipu Sultan, marked the end of Muslim rule over Mysore. This also led to the beginning of the British rule in Mysore. After Tipu, there was no person who was as powerful and brave like him to challenge the British authority in India or any state in India. The fall of Seringapatam paved the path towards the removal and destruction of all other remaining obstacles in the way of British supremacy like as the Marathas and the others. The whole of Mysore lay before the British and Tipu’s domain was partitioned. Marathas and Nizam took over few territories of Tipu. British conquered Nilagiri, Canara, and Coimbatore districts. Mysore became a princely state of the British and Krishna Raja, a boy of 8 years of Odayar dynasty, was given the throne of Mysore by the British. And Mysore lost its independence. The new princely state of Mysore that was formed was completely under the British dominion and also under subsidiary alliance (the Subsidiary Treaty signed on 6 April 1801). The British could also interfere in the administration of the empire. As a result of the fourth Mysore war, the British got complete control and power of South India. Lord Wellesley was given the title of Marquees by the British Government after this war.

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Last Updated on : December 24, 2014