Siege of Bhurtpore (1805)
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The Siege of Bharatpur took place between 2 January and 22 February 1805 in what is now Rajasthan, India, during the Second Anglo-Maratha War. Forces of the British East India Company, led by General Gerard Lake, were four times repulsed in attempts to storm the fortress. The Marathan victory was an embarrassing defeat for the British.
Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar had attacked the British and chased Colonel Manson. He had attacked Delhi to free the Mughal Emperor from the British. Meanwhile, he learned that Colonel Mare and Colonel Wallace had attacked his kingdom.
Holkar suffered setbacks when his forces outside Deeg were defeated in battle and the fortress there was taken after siege. However, Ranjit Singh of Bharatpur welcomed him and decided to join him against the British. Lord Lake advanced on Bharatpur in spite of the combined forces of Jats and Holkars
Lord Lake began besieging Bharatpur on 2 January 1805. After a breach was effected in the fort's walls on 9 January, the British attacked, but were repulsed. A second attack on 20 January was also thrown back. Following about one month of analysis and new breaches, a third attack was made against a new location on 20 February. This one was repulsed with heavy casualties, and a fourth and final assault the next day also failed.
British forces suffered more than 3,000 casualties. The war was compared with the Mahabharata war. Surprisingly the Jat ruler Ranjit Singh of Bharatpur signed a treaty with the British on 17 April 1805 when they had nearly won the war. Due to this, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar had to leave Bharatpur. Due to heavy pressure from the enemy, the Jats had to evacuate Deeg for better defensive positions.
Yashwantrao Holkar sought help from Raja Bhag Singh of Jind, Raja Fathesinh Ahuwalia of Patiala and other Sikh rulers but they all rejected to help him against the British. He then went to Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab at Lahore who too turned down his request to fight against the British. As soon as the British learnt this, they sent Bahg Singh, uncle of Ranjit Singh, to prevent Ranjit Singh from helping Yashwantrao Holkar. Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Fateh Singh signed a friendship treaty with British. The agreed draft of this treaty was ready on 17 December 1805. Yashwantrao Holkar cursed Ranjit Singh. This curse became a saying in Punjab.
The British army and Holkar's army again came face to face near Amritsar. The English Council told Lord Lake to anyhow make a treaty with Yashwantrao Holkar because if they were late and the other rulers accept the appeal of Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar it would be difficult for the British to remain in India. The British were worried because of the continuous failure against Holkars. The British approached him for peace.
Yashwantrao Holkar saw that rest of the kings were not ready to unite and were interested in personal benefits and interests and signed a treaty with the British on 24 December 1805 at a place called Rajghat (in Punjab). He was the only king in India to whom the British approached to sign a peace treaty. He didn’t accept any condition which would affect his self-respect. The British recognised him as a sovereign King and returned all his territory. They accepted his dominion over Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota, Bundi, and some Rajput Kings. They also accepted that they would not interfere in the matters of Holkars.
- Naravane, M. S. Battles of the honourable East India Company, p. 95