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to Tippoo, in reply to the Sultan's letter, stating that having received no answer to his former communications, an army, under General Harris, was now advancing to Mysore, and that all further intercourse must take place through the commander-in-chief. The Mysorean at once perceived the danger of his position, and the necessity for immediate action.
Two great bodies of troops were marching against him, from different quarters. That under General Harris
, moving in a westerly direction, had been reinforced by the Nizam's contingent under Meer Alum, and was in itself considerably the most numerous of the two. The other, the Bombay army, led by General Stuart, was approaching from the Malabar coast, and had just begun to climb the rugged passes of the Ghauts.
Tippoo at once determined upon a movement worthy of his ancient military reputation. Giving out that he intended to attack General Harris at Maddoor, he marched forth from his capital, but, instead of proceeding to the east, he hurried through the jungles towards the west, with the intention of falling unawares upon the Bombay army. The commander of the latter, General Stuart, having received intelligence that the Sultan had gone against General Harris, suffered his vanguard of three native batallions, under Colonel Montresor, to be separated from him by an interval of eight miles.
They were now in the Coorg territory, and the rajah of that country, who had joined the English army with his people, conducted several officers to the summits of Sedaseer, one of the highest hills in the vicinity, for the purpose of surveying the neighbouring region. To their astonishment and alarm, they discovered in the direction of Periapatam a number of tents slowly rising above the outline of the low brushwood. At length appeared a large green pavilion, the well-known signal of the Sultan's presence. Tidings were immediately despatched to General Stuart; but before that officer could arrive,
BATTLE OF MALLAVELLY.
Tippoo burst through the jungles with his “tigers of war," and rushed like lightning upon the vanguard. The action was sharp and severe, but the English sepoys maintained their ground manfully, until the arrival of General Stuart, who repulsed the Mysoreans with considerable loss. Foiled on this side, the Sultan retired to Periapatam, and from thence hurried, as expeditiously as possible, to oppose General Harris.
On March the 26th the two armies found themselves face to face on the plains of Mallavelly. The Sultan commenced the attack by opening a fire of artillery upon the English; he next tried charges of infantry and cavalry, but in every instance suffered a severe repulse, and finally retreated with the loss of six standards, and having about 2,000 men killed, wounded, and missing. On the evening of the 27th, General Harris made the following entry in his journal:
“Let me only record my humble submission to that all-protecting Providence, for the support I have found through this day a scene new to me, and difficult, perhaps, to any one. To-morrow I shall attempt to describe the course of events."
These repeated failures produced a feeling of deep despondency in the mind of Tippoo; but as the safety of his capital depended upon his delaying the advance of the English as much as possible, he prepared to obstruct their passage by occupying the high road leading from Mallavelly to Seringapatam-a distance of thirty miles. Unfortunately for him, however, General Harris made a détour that enabled the English to cross the Cavery after a pine hours' march, and thus by gaining at once the side of the river on which the capital was situated, he avoided the possibility of being retarded by the swelling of the stream during the May monsoon. Having in this manner eluded the vigilance of Tippoo, the army advanced leisurely towards Seringapatam, approaching it from the western side. On the 4th of April the English encamped within three miles of the fortress, and preparations for the siege immediately commenced. The first operations were directed by Major-General Baird, Colonel Wellesley, and Colonel Shawe.
When Tippoo found that he had been out-generalled, he assembled his principal officers, and, after a moody silence, said briefly, “We have arrived at our last stage; what is your determination ? ” “ To die with you," was the heroic reply. All wept, and one chief throwing himself before the Sultan, clasped his knees in an agony of grief. They separated with a firm resolution to defend Seringapatam successfully, or to perish in the breach.
That determination was bravely and energetically carried out. The besiegers found themselves obliged to contend strenuously for every foot of ground. At length, however, the first parallel was gained, and on the 3rd of May the breach effected by the English batteries was pronounced practicable. One o'clock at noon on the 4th, witnessed the final attack. A little before this took place Captain, afterwards Sir John Malcolm, repaired to the tent of the commander-in-chief, whom he found awaiting, with a thoughtful and serious aspect, the decisive moment. Exempt himself from the cares of high station, the young officer said cheerfully, “Why, my lord, so thoughtful?” “Malcolm,” replied the general gravely, “ this is no time for compliments; we have serious work on hand ; don't you see that the European sentry over my tent is so weak, from want of food and exhaustion, that a sepoy could push him down—we must take this fort, or perish in the attempt. I have ordered General Baird to persevere in his attack to the last extremity; if he is beat off, Wellesley is to proceed with the troops from the trenches; if he also should not succeed, I shall put myself at the head of the remainder of the army, for success is necessary to our existence.”
151 The remarks of the general explain the dispositions he had made, as well as his arrangements for the future. At half-past one, the gallant Baird led the storming detachments from the trenches, exclaiming, as they ranged themselves in readiness for the assault, “ Now my brave fellows, follow me, and prove yourselves worthy of the name of British soldiers.” John Best, an old soldier, and now servant to General Harris, had of his own accord volunteered to accompany the party; he was wounded in crossing the river, but contrived to drag himself up to the top of a low rock, where he sat cheering the front companies as they passed. In six minutes after the forlorn hope reached the foot of the breach, the standard of England was waving proudly from the summit. A
corps, under Colonel Sherbrook, had been ordered to make a contemporaneous attack upon the southern rampart, during the progress of which they met with comparatively little resistance, except when forcing a passage through the Mysore gateway, where a large number of Europeans were killed and wounded. After this the enemy fled, allowing the English to possess themselves of the remaining cavaliers.
The other division encountered a stouter opposition, having Tippoo in person to contend with, but they at length succeeded in forcing the different traverses, and crossing the ditch, got within the parapet. The slaughter of the Mysoreans was now fearful, for the English knew that, in the event of a reverse, they themselves could expect no mercy, and the passions of the soldiers were aroused by the intelligence that, only a few days before, Tippoo had murdered in cold blood twelve grenadiers of the 33d regiment who unfortunately fell into his hands. The sanguinary work did not cease until the two divisions met each other on the eastern rampart. All the outworks and fortifications of the town being now in the hands of the English, the palace was the only building of importance that remained to be taken. General Baird, there
fore, despatched Major Allen, an officer distinguished by his humanity as much as for his undaunted courage, that he might summon the occupants to surrender. The inmates appeared to be in great confusion and perplexity, when the English officer approached, while the Killedar, or governor, who descended to speak with him, denied that Tippoo was in the palace. At length the native authorities conducted the English officer to an apartment where the two young sons of the Sultan, formerly surrendered as hostages by their father, were seated on a carpet with
attendants around them. “ The recollection,” says Major Allen, "of Moiz-edDeen, whom, on a former occasion, I had seen delivered up, with his brother, hostages to Marquis Cornwallis; the sad reverse of their fortunes; their fear which, notwithstanding their struggles to conceal, was but too evident, excited the strongest emotions of compassion in my mind. I took Moiz-ed-Deen, to whom the Killedar principally directed his attention, by the hand, and endeavoured, by every means in my power, to remove his fears; and to persuade him that no violence should be offered to him, or his brother, nor to any person in the palace.”
The princes assured Major Allen that the Sultan was not concealed within, and, after some natural hesitation, allowed him to open the gates of the palace, and admit General Baird with his principal officers. The general had himself languished in Tippoo's prison for three years, and was besides indignant at a rumour which just then reached him, imputing to the Sultan the massacre of every European who had fallen into his hands during the siege; but the sight of the defenceless, and probably fatherless, youths at once disarmed his anger. He received them with kindness; promised that they should be safe ; and committing them to the charge of two English officers, continued his search for Tippoo. His efforts, however, proved unavailing; the Killedar was called, and affirmed in the most solemn manner, that the Sultan had not been