Battle of Vijaydurg
|Battle of Vijaydurg|
The Capture of Geriah, February 1756, by Dominic Serres, the Elder
|Maratha Empire||Nanasaheb Peshwa|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Tulaji Angre||Nanasaheb Peshwa|
500 British marines
|Casualties and losses|
After the death of Kanhoji Angre, there were two short reigns by Sarfoji and Sambhaji. The two brothers Manaji and Tulaji started fighting for the Angre throne. Nanasaheb Peshwe had intervened in the disputes between Manaji and Tulaji. This created two spheres of influence, Manaji in the north at Kulaba and Tulaji in the south at Vijaydurg. Tulaji Angre was favored by Chhatrapati Shahu and was appointed as Sarkhel (Admiral) of the Maratha Navy. This was against the will of Nanasaheb Peshwa.
Tulaji was brave and a much more skillful seaman than Manaji. This had gained hus the favor of Chhatrapati Shahu. In a brief span, he had surpassed the record of his predecessors in the number of English ships captured: Charlotte of Madras, William of Bombay, Svern of Bengal and, Darby, Restoration, Pilot, Augusta and Dadabhoi of Surat. He had also captured Anjanvel form the Siddis of Janjira. Another reason for the Peshwa to go against Tulaji was that, Tulaji refused to admit the Peshwa as his superior, maintaining that both were equal servants of the Chhatrapati. He refused to pay revenue contribution and even annoyed the Peshwa by raiding his territory. Nanasaheb could do nothing as long as Shahu was alive, but after his death in 1749, Peshwa was free to wreck his vengeance on Tulaji.
Death of Chhatrapati and Rise of PeshwaEdit
After the death of Chhatrapati Shahu, Peshwa was the next most influential ruler among the ones with huge armies and numerous land forts under his command or at his disposal under ownership of his vassals. Against all advice, forgetting the interests of the Maratha nation, showing little political foresight or wisdom, Nanasaheb sought assistance of the English at Bombay to put down an end to Tulaji's reign. A treaty was signed according to which a ground force under command of the Peshwa and a naval force under command of the Company would attack and destroy Tulaji. Among other articles, the treaty provided that Fort Vijaydurg, when captured, would be given to the Peshwa.
Fall of SuvarnadurgEdit
In 1755, Commodore James of Bombay attacked the fort Suvarnadurg while the Peshwa's army started capturing land and other coastal forts of Angre. This isolated Suvarnadurg from landward. Commodore James first bombarded the fort from the west. 800 shots and shells were expended at a range of 100 yards, but the walls did not collapse. He then entered the channel between the fort and the coast and fired on the eastern face as well as the main gate. Both gave way. Some of the garrison tried to escape from the fort by a tunnel running into the sea, but were discovered and killed. Considerable damage had been caused inside the fort by the bombardment and the garrison, finding no hope of relief or reinforcements, surrendered. Commodore James returned to Bombay for the monsoons.
Attack on VijaydurgEdit
After the fall of Suvarnadurg and all other forts of the Angre, Vijaydurg was the only fort left under the command of Tulaji. In 1756, a large force under Admiral Watson converged on Vijaydurg. Watson had arrived at Bombay from eastern waters and had with him Colonel Clive with 500 marines. The English ships took station with Watson flying his flag on the Protector. Two bomb vessels were in the extreme east. The Maratha ships were anchored at the mouth of the creek, close to the fort. They all were bunched up, almost hull to hull. Amongst these was the Company's ship Restoration, which caught fire. The fire spread rapidly till the entire Angre fleet was destroyed, The bombardment of the fort had caused considerable damage inside the fort and magazine had been blown up.
Fall of VijaydurgEdit
Tulaji, meanwhile had left the fort and gone to the Peshwa's camp seeking a negotiation but was promptly arrested and sent to one of the inland forts as a prisoner. The garrison was asked to surrender and in the absence of any response Clive landed his marines on 11 February 1756, entered and captured the fort. A huge amount of booty was captured. 250 pieces of cannons, stores and ammunition, 100,000 Rupees and 30,000 in valuable items fell into English hands. Vijaydurg was not handed over immediately to the Peshwa as per the terms of the treaty. It was eventually given up but only after the Company obtained Bankot in exchange.
The battle of Vijaydurg marks the end of the Maratha Navy as a potent force. The Maratha Admiral Dhulap captured some ships later. The Sawants of Sawantwadi, the Chhatrapati of Kolhapur and the Gaikwads of Baroda, all had a few ships. But the command of the seas, for all practical purposes had passed to the Company permanently. they achieved this in 1756 only because of the alliance with the Peshwa.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Capture of Vijaydurg, 1756.|
- Naravane, M. S.; Battles of the Honorary East India Company: Making of the Raj, op cit page 103, New Delhi, 2006
- Keay, I., op cit page 267
- Keay, I., op cit page 268
- Naravane, M. S.; Battles of the Honorary East India Company: Making of the Raj, op cit page 104, New Delhi, 2006