The First Anglo-Maratha War
was the first of three Anglo-Maratha wars fought between the British East India Company
and Maratha Empire
. The war began with the Treaty of Surat
and ended with the Treaty of Salbai
After the death of Madhavrao Peshwa
, his brother Narayanrao
of the Maratha Empire
. However, Raghunathrao
, Narayanrao's uncle, had his nephew assassinated in a palace conspiracy that resulted in Raghunathrao becoming Peshwa, although he was not the legal heir.
Narayanrao's widow, Gangabai, gave birth to a posthumous son, who was legal heir to the throne. The newborn infant was named 'Sawai' Madhavrao (Sawai means “One and a Quarter”). Twelve Maratha chiefs, led by Nana Phadnis directed an effort to name the infant as the new Peshwa and rule under him as regents.
Raghunathrao, unwilling to give up his position of power, sought help from the British at Bombay and signed the Treaty of Surat on March 6, 1775. According to the treaty, Raghunathrao ceded the territories of Salsette and Bassein to the British, along with part of the revenues from Surat and Bharuch districts. In return, the British promised to provide Raghunathrao with 2,500 soldiers.
The British Calcutta Council condemned the Treaty of Surat, sending Colonel Upton to Pune to annul it and make a new treaty with the regency. The Treaty of Purandhar (March 1, 1776) annulled that of Surat, Raghunathrao was pensioned and his cause abandoned, but the revenues of Salsette and Broach districts were retained by the British. The Bombay government rejected this new treaty and gave refuge to Raghunathrao. In 1777 Nana Phadnis violated the treaty with the Calcutta Council by granting the French a port on the west coast. The British replied by sending a force towards Pune. The tangle was increased by the support of the London authorities for Bombay, which in 1778–79 again supported Raghunathrao. Peace was finally restored in 1782.
Battle of Wadgaon
The East India Company's force from Bombay consisted of about 3,900 men (about 600 Europeans, the rest Asian) accompanied by many thousands of servants and specialist workers. They were joined on the way by Raghunath's forces, adding several thousand more soldiers, and more artillery. The Maratha
army included forces contributed by all the partners in the federation, tens of thousands in all, commanded by the brilliant Tukojirao Holkar
and General Mahadji Shinde
(also known as Mahadji Sindia). Mahadji slowed down the British march and sent forces west to cut off its supply lines. When they found out about this, the British halted at Talegaon, a few hours' brisk march from Pune
, but days away for the thousands of support staff with their ox-drawn carts. Now the Maratha cavalry
harassed the enemy from all sides. The Marathas also utilized a scorched earth
policy, burning farmland and poisoning wells. The British began to withdraw from Talegaon in the middle of the night, but the Marathas
attacked, forcing them to halt in the village of Wadgaon (now called Vadgaon Maval
), where the British force was surrounded on 12 January 1779
. By the end of the next day, the British were ready to discuss surrender terms, and on 16 January
signed the Treaty of Wadgaon
that forced the Bombay government to relinquish all territories acquired by the Bombay office of the East India Company since 1773
Reninforcements from northern India, commanded by Colonel Goddard, arrived too late to save the Bombay force. The British Governor-General
, Warren Hastings
, rejected the treaty on the grounds that the Bombay officials had no legal power to sign it, and ordered Goddard to secure British interests in the area. Goddard's 6,000 troops captured Ahmedabad
in February 1779
, and Bassein in December 1780
. Another Bengal
detachment led by Captain Popham captured Gwalior
in August 1780
. Hastings sent yet another force to harass Mahadji Shinde
, commanded by Major Camac; in February 1781
the British beat Shinde to the town of Sipri, but every move they made after that was shadowed by his much larger army, and their supplies were cut off, until they made a desperate night raid in late March, capturing not only supplies, but even guns and elephants. Thereafter, the military threat from Shinde's forces to the British was much reduced.
After the defeat, Shinde proposed a new treaty between the Peshwa
and the British that would recognize the young Madhavrao as the Peshwa
and grant Raghunathrao a pension
. This treaty, known as the Treaty of Salbai
, was signed on 17th May 1782
, and was ratified by Hastings in June 1782
and by Phadnis in February 1783
. The treaty also returned to Shinde all his territories west of the Yamuna
. It also guaranteed peace between the two sides for twenty years and thus ending the war.
External links and references