Siege of Devicotah, April 1749

The siege of Devicotah (April 1749) was a British success that came between the First and Second Carnatic Wars and saw them gain possession of the fort of Devicotah in southern India.

In the late 1740s Raja Sauhojee of Tanjore was deposed and replaced by Raja Partab Singh. Sauhojee went to the British East India Company, who had a base nearby at Fort St. David, and offered them the fort of Devicotah, at the mouth of the Coleroon River, in return for their help in restoring him to power. Sauhojee also promised that his former people would rise up in his favour and support the invasion.

The British agreed to provide assistance, and in March 1749 a force of 2,000 men marched towards Trichinopoly, the capital of Tanjore. The promised uprising failed to materialise, the expedition was hit by a cyclone, and the British were forced to retreat.

The British then decided to mount an attack directly on Devicotah. A larger army, 800 European troops and 1,500 Sepoys, commanded by Major Stringer Laawrence, sailed down the coast and landed on an island at the mouth of the Coleroon River.

The siege began with a three-day long bombardment, which opened a breach in the walls. A storming party, with 30 Europeans and either 200 or 700 Sepoys, was then sent across the river, under the command of Robert Clive. This first attack on the breach failed. Partab Singh had around 20,000 men at Devicotah, including a strong cavalry force. The cavalry attacked the storming party, and Clive was soon forced to form a small square. He was close to being overwhelmed when Lawrence attacked with the rest of his force. The Tanjorine cavalry attacked the main force, but was repulsed. The British were then able to enter the fort through the breach, and found that it had been deserted.

In the aftermath of this success the British abandoned Sauhojee. It was clear that he had no support in Tanjore, and so they negotiated directly with Partab Singh. He agreed to transfer Devicotah to the British East India Company. In return the British bought Sauhojee off with a pension, to be paid as long as he didn't try to return to Tanjore.   

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 December 2011), Siege of Devicotah, April 1749 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_devicotah.html

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