Second Anglo-Mysore War

Second Anglo-Mysore War

The Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-1784) was a conflict in India between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Mysore. At the time, Mysore was a key French ally in India, and the Franco-British conflict raging on account of the American Revolutionary War helped spark Anglo-Mysorean hostilities in India.


Haidar Ali was ruler of Mysore (though he did not have the title of king). Stung by what he considered a British breach of faith during an earlier war against the Marathas, Haidar Ali committed himself wholeheartedly to a French alliance and to seek revenge against the British. Upon the French declaration of war against Britain in 1778, the British (then firmly entrenched in Madras) resolved to drive the French out of India, by taking the few enclaves of French possessions left on the subcontinent.

Outbreak of War

The British captured Mahé on the Malabar coast in 1779, and annexed certain lands belonging to a dependent of Haidar's.

Haidar Ali seized at the opportunity to strike back, and succeeded in making himself master of all that the Marathas had taken from him in the previous war. With an empire extended to the Krishna River, he descended through the passes of the Ghats amid burning villages, reaching Conjeeveram, only convert|45|mi|km|0 from Madras, unopposed. Not till the smoke was seen from St Thomas' Mount, where Sir Hector Munro commanded some 5200 troops, was any movement made; then, however, the British general sought to effect a junction with a smaller body under Colonel Baillie recalled from Guntur. The incapacity of these officers, notwithstanding the splendid courage of their men, resulted in the total destruction of Baillie's force of 2800 (September 10, 1780).

Recovery of Chittur

A great victory

Tipu Sultan, the eldest son of Hyder Ali, had taken great interest in the Mysore-Maratha war of 1769-72. After the death of Peshwa Madhava Rao in 1772, he was sent to the northern part of Mysore to recover the territories which the Marathas had occupied. By the time of Second Mysore war he had gained great experience both of warfare and diplomacy. In September 1780 he inflicted crushing defeat on Colonel Baillie near Polilur. This was the first and the most serious blow the British had suffered in India. The whole detachment was either cut or taken prisoners. Of the 86 European officers 36 were killed, and 3820 were taken prisoners of whom 508 were Europeans. The British had lost the flower of their army. Baillie himself was taken prisoner. This defeat caused so much consternation in Madras that half of its Black Town was deserted. Sir Hector Munro, the hero of Buxar, who had defeated three rulers of India (Mughal Emperor Shah Alam, Oudh Nawab Shuja-ud-daula and the Bengal Nawab Mir Qasim) in a single battle, would not face Tipu. He ran for his life to Madras throwing all his cannons in the tank of Conjeevaram.

Tipu inflicted a serious defeat on Colonel Braithwaite at Annagudi near Tanjore on 18 Feb 1782. This army consisted of 100 Europeans 300 cavalry, 1400 sepoys and 10 field pieces. Tipu seized all the guns and took the entire detachment prisoner. The total force, of a few hundred Europeans, was the standard size of the colonial armies that had caused havoc in India before Haider and Tipu. In December 1781 Tipu had successfully seized Chittur from British hands. Thus Tipu had gained sufficient military experience by the time Haider died in December 1782.

The humbling of the British

The Second Mysore war came to an end by the Treaty of Mangalore. It is an important document in the history of India. It was the last occasion when an Indian power dictated terms to the British, who were made to play the role of humble supplicants for peace. Warren Hastings called it a humiliating pacification, and appealed to the king and Parliament to punish the Madras Government for "the faith and honor of the British nation have been equally violated." The British would not reconcile to this humiliation, and worked hard from that day, March 11, 1784, to subvert Tipu's power. The Treaty redounds great credit to the diplomatic skill of Tipu. He had honorably concluded a long-drawn war.He frustrated the Maratha designs to seize his northern possession. The great advantage was the psychological impact of his victory with the British, the mode of conclusion was highly satisfactory to him. The march of the Commissioner all the way from Madras to Mangalore seeking peace made Munro remark that such indignities were throughout poured upon the British" that limited efforts seemed necessary to repudiate the Treaty at the earliest time." Such public opinion in the country highly gratified Tipu who felt it was his great triumph over the British. That was the only bright spot in his contest with the British, the only proud event which had humbled a mighty power.

Warren Hastings sent from Bengal Sir Eyre Coote, who, though repulsed at Chidambaram, defeated Haidar three times in succession in the battles of Porto Novo, Pollilur and Sholingarh, while Tipu was forced to raise the siege of Wandiwash, and Vellore was provisioned. Tipu defeated Brathwaite on the banks of the Coleroon in February 1782. On the arrival of Lord Macartney as governor of Madras, the British fleet captured Negapatam, and forced Hyder Ali to confess that he could never ruin a power which had command of the sea. He had sent his son Tipu to the west coast, to seek the assistance of the French fleet, when his death took place suddenly at Chittur in December 1782. The young Tipu Sultan therefore took over the war effort.

Treaty of Mangalore

The British captured Coimbatore in 1783, but neither they nor Mysore were able to obtain a clear overall victory. The war was ended in 1784 with the Treaty of Mangalore, at which both sides agreed to restore the others' lands to the "status quo ante bellum".


This was the second of four Anglo-Mysore Wars.



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