Battle of Cuddalore, 27-28 June 1747

The battle of Cuddalore (27-28 June 1747) was a British victory that prevented the French from capturing the fortified station of Cuddalore, a move that would have threatened the main British position in southern India at Fort St. David.

Early in the First Carnatic War the French had captured Madras, forcing the British East India Company to concentrate most of its efforts in the area around Fort St. David, to the south of the main French position at Pondicherry. A French attack on Fort St. David had been repulsed by a force of Indian cavalry provided by Anwar-ud-Din, the Nawab of the Carnatic (battle of Fort St. David, 19 December 1746), but early in 1747 he was bought off by the French.

The British position was strengthened by the arrival of a naval squadron in March 1747. The garrison of Fort St. David was reinforced, and by the end of June contained around 2,000 men, far too many for the small French forces in the area to risk besieging.

In the same month a smaller French squadron arrived in the area, and managed to slip reinforcements into Madras. The French governor in southern India, Joseph Dupleix, decided to attack the smaller British fortified station at Cuddalore, two miles south of Fort St. David. He raised an army of 800 Europeans and 1,000 Sepoys, and intended to carry out a surprise attack on Cuddalore.

Unfortunately for the French, news of this plan reached the British commander, Major Stringer Lawrence. During the day on 27 June he removed the garrison and the guns from Cuddalore, to make it look as if the place had been abandoned in face of the sizable French force. Once darkness fell Lawrence secretly moved his men and guns back into the fort.

The French attacked at midnight on 27-28 June. The British allowed them to reach the walls before opening fire. This surprise barrage of musketry and grapeshot caused an understandable panic in the French ranks, and Dupleix's force broke and fled back towards Pondicherry.

In 1748 the initiative passed to the British, after a fleet and force of regular troops under Admiral Edward Boscawen arrived at Fort St. David. The British moved to besiege Pondicherry (August-October 1748), but this effort ended in failure. Soon afterwards news of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle reached India, ending the First Carnatic War.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 December 2011), Battle of Cuddalore, 27-28 June 1748 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_cuddalore.html

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