Page images

the numbers and acknowledged bravery of the enemy, who were chiefly Rajpoots, there could exist but small hope of success in risking an engagement, and for these considerations advised Mr. Thomas to retreat. To combat these arguments, and frustrate a design so pufillanimous in its nature, Mr. Thomas reminded Vavon Row of his hasty and inconsiderate conduct in leading them into their present exigency, that there existed no cause to prevent at least one trial of strength, their own troops being faithful to them, and in high spirit to engage; that moreover, to think of a retreat on the present occasion, without an exertion on their part, would be a dishonour to himself and his progenitors, who never turned their backs on an enemy; and finally observed, that if Vavon Row now receded, he never could again expect to be employed by Scindiah, or any other chief under his authority. These arguments combined at length' made an impression on the mind of Vavon Row, and he agreed to risk an engagement.

With this determination, they marched forth with to the city of Futtahpore, in which

they expected to meet with a supply of grain fufficient for the consumption of their troops ; but on their arrival the inhabitants, who had received intimation of their approach, were busily employed in filling up the wells in the neighbourhood, in order to distress the troops for water. They had nearly completed this design, only one remaining open, when Mr. Thomas arrived.

The possession of this remaining well now became the object of contention betwixt Mr. Thomas and a body of four hundred men who had been detached from the city for the express purpose of filling it up. Mr. Thomas, who perceived no time was to be loft, ordered his cavalry to charge. The action was at first obstinate ; but two of the enemy's firdars being killed, the rest retreated, and the well was happily preserved. This was of great importance, as except in this single fupply no water was to be procured but from a considerable distance.

The service on this day was uncommonly severe, as Mr. Thomas had completed a march of five-and-twenty miles over a deep fand,

THOMAS. :: 157 which in most places was above the ancles of his men; he was therefore glad to encamp, and afford fome repose to his fatigued troops.

As the city of Fattahpore was marked in Mr. Thomas's military career, as a place of fignal fuccefs, an account of it may not perhaps be deemed intrusive.

Kaieem Khan, a Tartar nobleman, accompanied the standard of the Moguls on their first invasion of Hindostan; and as a reward for his military services on that occafion had been prefented with the government of the adjoining country of Hurrianah and Jinjinndo, where he settled with his family and adherents.

In process of time, however, the Mogul princes who fat on the throne of Delhi, unmindful of the services of this illustrious family, endeavoured to effect their ruin; and finally by a tyrannical procedure, expelled them from the province. On their expulsion they fought an asylum in the dominions of Jypore, by whose tuler they were kindly received, and where they remained until the present time. The city

of Futtahpore was allotted for their residence: where, since that period, the descendants of Kaieem Khan have continued to reside, retaining, along with the name of their founder, the characteristic energy and military spirit of the tribe; and are to this day termed by the natives Kaieem Khanee, or descendants of Kaieem Khan.

The city of Futtahpore being full of people, Mr. Thomas, in order to save the effusion of blood, was desirous to treat with the inhabitants for its ransom; but the demands of Vavon Row were so exorbitant, that they declined compliance.

The Mahratta chief asked no less a sum than ten lacs of rupees, whilst the townspeople only offered one, encouraged perhaps by the hope of receiving assistance from the rajah of Jypore, who was rapidly advancing to their



°During these negotiations night came on, and nothing was done respecting the proposed ransom: some persons, however, who had been

sent into the city by Mr. Thomas to protect the place until they could make the terms of surrender, unluckily began to plunder the inhabitants; which circumstance so exasperated the commandant, that he broke off all further treaty, and the united force then took poffefsion of the place by storm. . This was scarcely effected, when intelligence of the rajah’s approach was announced to Mr. Thomas, who then thought proper to fortify his camp, which he did in the following manner. In the neighbourhood were abundance of large thorn-trees, which are common in the west of India : a sufficient number of these were cut down, and, by Mr. Thomas's diredion, piled one upon another in the front and Aanks of his camp, his rear being secured by the city of Futtahporę. To render it more impenetrable, the branches of the trees * being closely interwoven

* It is remarkable that Mr. Thomas, who had read very little, should, from the resources of his own mind, have adopted a mode of defence parallel with one related in the History of Modern Europe. Speaking of the approach of the British army under the command of General Abercromby, in the war of 1758, against the fort of Ticonde rago, in North America, “ The French (says the historian).

« PreviousContinue »