Siege of Covelung, 16 September 1752

The short siege of Covelung (16-19 September 1752) was part of what Robert Clive called his ‘Glorious Campaign’ and saw him capture a French-held fort with a small army made up of raw recruits (Second Carnatic War).

Covelung was one of two French-held forts that were dangerously close to Madras. It was situated on the coast south of Madras, while the second fort, at Chingleput, was inland to its west. Mohammad Ali, the British-supported candidate for Nawab of the Carnatic, wanted the forts to be taken, and Governor Saunders agreed. Very limited forces were available for the task – 200 raw European troops freshly arrived from Britain and 500 newly recruited Sepoys. Despite the obvious difficulties of the task Robert Clive agreed to take command of the expedition.

Clive left Madras on 15 September, and arrived at Covelung on the following day. On the night of 16-17 September he sent half of his men, under Lieutenant Cooper, to occupy a garden close to the fort. Cooper arrived safely and sent a message back to Clive announcing his success. Soon after this the French launched an attack on the garden. Cooper was killed and his men fled. Clive was lucky – he was already marching towards the garden, ran into the fleeing troops and was able to rally them.

On the following day Clive summoned the fort to surrender, but the governor refused. Clive spent three days building a gun battery (17-19 September). During this period M. St Germain, the governor of Chingleput, advanced towards Covelung with a relief force, but retreated when Clive led a detachment towards him. After the failure of this relief effort, and with the gun battery complete, the governor surrendered.

On the following day St. Germain made another attempt to save Covelung, not realising that it had already fallen. Clive ambushed the advancing French troops, capturing St. Germain, twenty five European troops and 250 Sepoys. The survivors fled to Chingleput, followed by Clive, and the second fort soon fell.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 January 2011), Siege of Covelung, 16 September 1752 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_covelung.html

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