Archive for March, 2011

Attack on an Indian Fort

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

In the fall of 2010, the Military Collection acquired an interesting water-color at auction in London. The catalog described the piece as follows: English School, circa 1800. The Madras Native Infantry and Madras Foot Artillery bombarding an Indian Fort. Water-color on paper mounted on board, 32 x 47.5 cm. The image depicts native troops from one of the three Indian Presidencies formed-up adjacent to field guns which are firing on a distant fort situated below wooded hills. Other than the catalog description, there was no  identification beyond a faint pencil notation in the top right-hand corner that appeared to read “Soteiho-gunge.” In an attempt to identify the exact location, various Indian military and Madras regimental histories were consulted for the period of the Mysorean and Mahratta Wars but without success. Consequently, the picture was cataloged with the original title.

Recently, while examining some of the Indian books in the collection, the curator happened to glance at the index to Cardew’s Sketch of the Services of the Bengal Native Army. To the Year 1895 (Calcutta 1903), and located a fort bearing a name almost identical to the pencil note: “Sehlehuganj”.

It would seem likely, therefore, that this picture depicts the attack on the fort of Sehlehuganj, near Kaitah in northern India. According to Cardew, on the 13th November 1807, a force under the command of Lieut. Col. Thomas Hawkins, who was commanding in the Bundelkhand region of north-central India (in the present-day Indian state of Madhya Pradesh), was employed in the reduction of this fort. After some resistance, the Anglo-Indian force consisting of several regiments of Bengal Native Infantry and artillery, drove the enemy out with a loss of 2 men killed, and one officer and nine men wounded.