« PreviousContinue »
As a Mahratta is seldom at a loss for an excuse, Appa, in answer to these charges, replied, that his own inability to attend to business (being confined by illness) had occasioned those who had undertaken to manage his concerns, to act in a manner so unworthy; that a dangerous disorder with which he had been long afflicted was growing worse every day, and that he wished much for a personal interview with Mr. Thomas before his death. In this letter, Appakandarow further urged, that the person whom he intended for his fucceffor being young and inexperienced, he wished to avail himself of the benefit of Mr. Thomas's counsel, Appakandarow being from experience well convinced no other perfon would be equally interested with the welfare of his family. Finally he assured Mr. Thomas, that in the proposed interview he would not only clear himself from the aspersions of treachery, but arrange every thing to their mutual satisfaction and advantage. i :
This intimation excited no small degree of surprise in Mr. Thomas, but from past experience he did not chuse to place implicit re
GEORGE THOMAS. liance in the declaration of the Mahratta chief. He was thus reduced to a critical situation: for as on the one hand it was difficult to refuse the request of so powerful a chief; so on the other, a laudable regard for his personal safety, if treachery were intended, induced him to decline the proposed visit. From this state of uncertainty and suspense he was happily relieved, by intelligence of a numerous body of seiks having made an irruption into the Dooab, and were at that time committing depredations in the vicinity of Seharunpore, the capital of the late Gholaum Cadir Khan.
The apprehension of all parties was confiderably augmented, when it was known that on their first onset they had cut to pieces some battalions of Mahratta troops stationed for the defence of that, province,
Although Appakandarow had no particular connexion with Seharunpore, he thought that, in common with other powers, he ought to exert himself to prevent further incursions, especially as his own district would in all probility be the next invaded by these desperate marauders. He therefore directed Mr. Thomas to march with his whole force, and with all possible expedition, giving the most express injunctions to fight the feiks wherever he might come up with them in the Mahratta territories.
Agreeably to these instructions, Mr. Thomas loft no time in repairing to Jyjur; from whence, crossing the Jumna to the northward of Delhi, he advanced rapidly towards the enemy. They not being inclined for the contest thought proper to retreat, crossed the river, and returned unmolested to the Punjab. Mr. Thomas in this place remarks, that whilst in the service of Begum Sumroo he had encountered the seiks on more than one occasion, and had already given them samples of his method of fighting; ; and though their number at this time was not more than five thousand men, they had not only defeated the Mahrattas, but compelled them to take shelter in the fort of Jelalabad.
Luckwa, commander of the Mahratta forces, hearing of the disgrace sustained by his troops at Seharunpore, as likewise of the subsequent
flight of the feiks on Mr. Thomas's approach, now requested of Appa to permit this enterprising man to raise a body of two thousand men for the protection of the province of Seharunpore, and other parts of the Mahratta pofsessions. To this request Appa, though with difficulty, complied;, and in consequence of the purgunahs of Panniput, Soneput, and Karnaul, were assigned to Mr. Thomas, for the payment of two thousand infantry, two hundred cavalry, and sixteen pieces of field artillery. Bappoo Scindiah was nominated to the government of Seharunpore; which with the country adjacent, at the period we are speaking of, yielded an annual revenue of ten lacks of rupees.'
The situation of the city of Panniput, and the celebrated canal in its neighbourhood, may perhaps justify a digression in its favour, and curiosity will be gratified in the detail of its ancient and present state.
Panniput is a city of great antiquity, and was inhabited by Mahomedans in the reign of Mahmoud of Ghuzna; who, during one of his
incursions into Hindoostan, settled a colony at that place. In the time of the emperor Shah Jehan, it was a populous city; and in the reign of Mahomed Shah, was selected by that prince as his principal residence. In the year 900 of the Hijira, or A. D. 1525, the Mogul emperor Mahomed Baber invaded Hindooftan: Ibrahim Lodi of the Patan dynasty at that time fat on the throne of Delhi.
He prepared to resist the invader; and affembling his forces, conducted them towards the frontiers. The rival armies met on the plains of Panniput; and a general engagement ensued, in which the forces of Ibrahim' were totally defeated, and himself Nain. The deceased monarch was interred on the spot where he fell, by the command of Baber, who directed a tomb to be erected to his memory. This tomb is still to be seen, about three miles to the north-west of the city. In commemoration of the victory, the Mogul prince directed a magnificent mosque to be built on the spot where his own tent was pitched, on the eastern side of the city. It is called Cabil Baug.