Siege of Tiruvadi, 14 January-5 May 1753

The siege of Tiruvadi (14 January-5 May 1753) saw a French force pin down most of the British troops in southern India, preventing them from intervening in the early stages of the second siege of Trichinopoly (Second Carnatic War).

At the start of 1753 the French had recovered some of the ground they had lost in the summer of 1752. They had won the support of Mysore, and it would be a Mysorean army that began the siege of Trichinopoly. They had also won over the Marathas, under Murari Rao. At this point Dupleix had 360 European troops, 2,000 Sepoys and 4,000 Maratha cavalry. The British, under Stringer Lawrence, had 700 Europeans, 2,000 Sepoys but only 1,500 cavalry provided by Mohammad Ali, their candidate for the post of Nawab of the Carnatic.

Dupleix was aware that his lack of European troops would probably be decisive in an open battle, and so he decided try and take advantage of his advantage in cavalry to try and prevent the British from concentrating on the relief of Trichinopoly. On 14 January the French and their Maratha allies left Valdavur, moved to a position close to Tiruvadi and built themselves a strong fortified position. The French infantry defended this camp, while the Maratha cavalry raided widely, attacking British targets.

This first stage of the siege saw Lawrence under a loose blockade at Tiruvadi, with his supply convoys coming under repeated attack. On 12 April the French came close to capturing an entire convoy and its escort, but were let down by their French troops. On the following day Lawrence, who had just been reinforced, moved close enough to the French camp to begin a bombardment with two 24 pounders, but this had so little impact that the attempt was soon abandoned. Dupleix had effectively succeeded in his plan – Lawrence was effectively pinned down at Tiruvadi for three months, and during this period the French and Mysoreans were able to begin the second siege of Trichinopoly (3 January 1753-August 1754).

The situation changed dramatically when news of this siege reached Lawrence. On 1 May he received a message from Captain Dalton, the commander at Trichinopoly, begging for assistance. Lawrence left 150 Europeans and 500 Sepoys at Tiruvadi, and took the rest of his army to march to Trichinopoly, where he successfully broke through the French blockade and reached the city. Dupleix responded by moving some of his men from the fortified camp, leaving the commander there, M. Maissin, with 160 Europeans and 1,500 Sepoys as well as the Maratha cavalry.

Soon after this Dupleix discovered how few troops were still in Tiruvadi, and ordered the French commander, Maissin, to capture the place. An assault on 3 May failed, as did a second assault on 5 May. This time the British launched a sortie in pursuit of the retreating French, but ran into the Maratha cavalry and the force of 60 Europeans and 300 Sepoys were wiped out. After this disaster the surviving members of the garrison surrendered, leaving the British at Trichinopoly even more isolated.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (18 January 2012), Siege of Tiruvadi, 14 January-5 May 1753 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_tiruvadi.html

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