Second battle of Trichinopoly, 18 August 1753

The second battle of Trichinopoly (18 August 1753) saw the French fail to prevent a British supply convoy and reinforcements from reaching the besieged city of Trichinopoly (Second Carnatic War).

The British, under Major Stringer Lawrence, had won a significant victory in the previous month (first battle of Trichinopoly or battle of the Golden Rock, 7 July 1753), but in the aftermath of this victory Lawrence had led the main British field army into Tanjore, partly to join up with some reinforcements coming from Madras and partly in an attempt to convince the King of Tanjore to support the British. He succeeded in both aims, and gained valuable reinforcements - 170 Europeans and 300 Sepoys from Fort St. David and 3,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry from Tanjore. Lawrence was burdened by his supply convoy, but was in contact with Dalton in Trichinopoly. Dalton could see the French deployments from a hill inside the city, and was able to pass this information on to Lawrence.

Brennier posted his army in a curved line to the south of Trichinopoly. The western end of his line was at Waikonda. The line then ran south-east to Golden Rock, a hill that dominated the area south of Trichinopoly. The French cavalry was posted between Golden Rock and Sugar Loaf Rock, a gap of about a mile. The line then continued north-east to French Rock. The main French forces were at Golden Rock and Sugar Loaf Rock, with their Sepoys at Waikonda.

Lawrence was approaching Trichinopoly from the south-east. He decided to send the convoy west, to past around the right of the French line and get into the city from the west, but he also wanted to capture the Golden Rock, to ensure the convoy's safety. He decided to try and trick Brennier. The main British army stopped just to the south-east of Sugar Loaf Rock and made obvious preparations to attack. At the same time his grenadiers, along with 800 Sepoys, were sent west hidden in the convoy, with orders to attack the Golden Rock.

Brennier was fooled, and moved most of the troops on the Golden Rock east to the Sugar Loaf Rock. He realised his mistake when he saw the British grenadiers preparing to attack. He reacted by dispatched 1,000 of his Indian cavalry to attack the grenadiers and 300 infantry to reinforce the troops on Golden Rock, but neither force arrived in time. The British stormed the rock and defeated the French garrison. Brennier's relief force was left isolated between the two rocks, while his main force concentrated on an artillery bombardment of the British. 

Lawrence moved his entire army to the Golden Rock, and then decided to attack the isolated French detachment. He sent his grenadiers, this time supported by 500 Sepoys, to attack their position. This force came under heavy fire from the French artillery, and Lawrence had to advance to lead the attack in person. The French detachment began to retreat, and was then hit in the rear by Dalton, who had led a force out of Trichinopoly to support Lawrence. The French detachment fled towards Waikonda. Only then did Brennier begin to move his main force towards the British, but they refused to attack, and instead fled south-west to the Five Rocks, before moving to Waikonda.

This victory allowed Lawrence to get his supplies into the city, and for a short time gave the British the advantage. The French prepared to defend Waikonda, but when Lawrence threatened to attack on 4 September they retreated north to the southern bank of the Cauvery River, south of their base on the island of Srirangam.

The French set-back was short-lived. On 6 September Astruc arrived at the head of 400 Europeans, 2,000 Sepoys and 3,000 Maratha cavalry. He resumed command of the French forces, and moved them back to their blocking position between the Golden Rock and Sugar Loaf Rock. Lawrence moved to Fakir's Tope, just to the north-west of Golden Rock, and the two armies spent the next month in a standoff. This was broken by the third battle of Trichinopoly (2 October 1753), another British victory but that again failed to fully break the siege. 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 December 2011), Second battle of Trichinopoly, 18 August 1753, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_trichinopoly_2nd.html

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