Battle of Khadki

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Battle of Kirkee (modern-day Khadki)
Part of the Third Anglo-Maratha War
Battle of Kirkee(Khadki)
Date November 5, 1817
Location Khadki, India
Result Decisive British victory[1]
Belligerents
Flag of the Maratha Empire.svg Maratha Empire British East India Company flag.svg British East India Company
Commanders and leaders
Moro Pant Dixit Lt. Col. Burr, Captain Ford
Strength
28,000 3,000
Casualties and losses
500 86

The Battle of Khadki,also known as Battle of Kirkee, took place at Khadki, India on November 5, 1817 between the forces of the British East India Company and those of Bajirao II, the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire. Khadki is situated on the outskirts of Pune in Maharashtra, India.It later became a military cantonment.

Prelude[edit]

Maratha Empire in decline[edit]

The Third Battle of Panipat,proved disastrous for the Maratha Empire/Confederacy. Maratha Sardars took advantage of the reduced strength and command of Peshwas over Maharashtra and the Maratha Empire started to decline. The Peshwas were in very high debts (taken for battles and governance) and were not receiving any income from taxes (all Sardars were keeping the taxes to themselves instead of sending it to Peshwas). They were not in a good position to fight with British forces. After death of Madhavrao Peshwa, the Maratha empire fell into a state of constant decline.

Armies[edit]

The Maratha Army consisted of Huzurat or Sarkari Fouz and had the following Generals when the battle began. Marathas: Bapu Gokhale, assisted by Anandrao Babar, Vithalrao Vinchurkar, assisted by Rajwade, Govindrao Ghorpade Mudholkar, Tryambakrao Rethrekar, Shaikh Miraj, Dafle, Bahirji Shitole, Mor Dixit, assisted by Sardar Kokre, Sardar Appa Desai Nipankar, assisted by Sardar Pandhare, Sardar Naropant Apte, Sardar Yashwantrao Ghorpade Sondurkar, Sardar Wamanrao Raaste, Sardar Chintamanrao Patwardhan, assisted by Bapu Narayan Bhave Ramdurgkar, Sardar Mutalik on behalf of Pant Pratinidhi, Sardar Naik Anjurkar, Sardar Purandare, and Sardar Nagarkar, assisted by Moreshwar Kanitkar. All these sardars (the equivalent of Earls or Dukes) had both cavalry and infantry. The army's Artillery was led by Laxmanrao Panshe and his nephew.

The East India Company's army was led by Lt. Colonel Burr and Captain Ford, who was kept at Pune to protect Peshwa.

Bapu Gokhale commanded a total force of 28,000 men (20,000 horse and 8,000 infantry) with much ordnance. The British force numbered only 3,000, of whom 2,000 were natives and only 1000 were Europeans (2,000 cavalry, 1,000 infantry). The ratio of Marathas to British forces in the battle of Khadki was thus 1:9, or 1:32.5 Europeans, discounting the natives commanded by the British.

Battle[edit]

A detachment commanded by Lt. Col. Burr advanced from Dapodi village near confluence of Pavana and Mula rivers. His detachment was placed in Poona for the protection of the Peshwa. Before the battle, the Peshwa's commander, Moropant Dixit, had tried to bring Captain Ford onto his side, but these overtures were refused.

First, Vinchurkar`s gun infantry targeted British Resident Elphinstones house by firing from other side of river. After he left, Kokre's cavalry burnt all the bungalows of the British in the vicinity. The residency was left and was at once sacked and burned, and Mr. Elphinstone retired to join the troops at Kirkee. A message to advance was sent to Colonel Burr who moved towards Dapuri to meet Captain Ford's corps; the corps united and together pushed on to the attack. Amazed by the advance of troops whom they believed had been bribed or panic-struck, the Maratha skirmishers fell back, and the Maratha army, already anxious from the ill-omened breaking of their standard, began to lose heart. Gokhla rode from rank to rank cheering and taunting, and opened the attack pushing forward his cavalry so as to nearly to surround the British. In their eagerness to attack a Portuguese battalion, which had come up under cover to enclosures, some of the English sepoys became separated from the rest of the line. Gokhla seized the opportunity for a charge with 6000 chosen horsemen. Colonel Burr who saw the movement recalled his men and ordered them to stand firm and keep their fire. The cavalry charge proved ineffectual. The charge was broken by a deep morass in front of the English. As the horsemen floundered in disorder the British troops fired on them with deadly effect. Only a few of the Maratha horses pressed on to the bayonets, the rest retreated or fled. The failure of their great cavalry charge disconcerted the Marathas. They began to drive off their guns, the infantry retired, and, on the advance of the British line, the field was cleared. Next morning the arrival of the light battalion and auxiliary horse from Sirur prevented Gokhla from renewing the attack. The European loss was sixty-eight and the Maratha loss 500 killed and wounded.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

A few battles were later fought against the Bhosale faction at Sitabardi in Nagpur and against the Pindaris. The Peshwa, the chief executive of the Maratha Confederacy, was militarily defeated in the Battle near Ashirgad. The next skirmish occurred after 5th,November at Yerawda where Sardar Yashwant Ghorpade's forces were lured away by the British by bribing. This paved the way for battalions coming from Ghodnadi and Jalna and gunners of Panshes artillery to join the British, resulting in the Peshwa fleeing Pune. The East India Company took over the Shaniwarwada, the seat of the Peshwa, on November 17, 1817. By 1818, the Peshwa had surrendered to the East India Company.

The battlefield today[edit]

After the battle, the East India Company troops crossed the river at a place called Yelloura ford which is still unidentified. It is speculated that the place was probably where the bund of Bund Garden exists today. "Yelloura" is perhaps a corruption of Yerawda of today. This corroborates well with the mention of a nearby hill in Blacker's account (see references below). Also, the morass which played a crucial role in the battle is unidentified as of today. It is expected to have existed in the Range Hills Colony, the Military Station Depot of Khadki or near the Symbiosis Institute of Management or towards the College of Agriculture. An account of the battle by Grant Duff is well known to historians. Grant Duff observed the battle from a position on the hills of Bhamburda. This location is likely to have been on the hill that faces behind the present day Hanuman Nagar or Pandav Nagar.

References[edit]

  • Memoirs of the operations of the British Army in India during the Mahratta war of 1817,1818 and 1819, London 1821- by Lt. Col. Valentine Blacker
  • J.M.Campbell, Gazeteer of the Bombay Presidency. Vol XVIII Part III Pune District, 1885.
  • Pune:Queen of the Deccan - J Diddee and S. Gupta (2000) publ. Elephant Design Pvt. Ltd., Kothrud, Pune, INDIA. ISBN 81-87693-00-2
  • Old Deccan Days (1868), Frere, M., 3rd ed. 1898. London: Murray.
    • The particular chapter of Frere's book referring to the narration by Jadowrow (sic) Notes (transcript)
  • There is an account of the battle from the "Peshwyaanchee Bakhar" (the official record of the reign of the Peshwas). It was written in the Modi script (translations are available) and it does not include maps. The fact that the 'Zaree Pat' staff broke prior to the battle has been recorded here, that being perceived as a bad omen. There is also a mention of the morass which obstructed the cavalry charge and that the Peshwa watched the battle unfolding from Parvati Hill with the help of a telescope.
  • The morass which caused the Maratha cavalry charge to break is likely to have survived till today. Results of field work being carried out presently will be reported shortly to Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, Pune, India.
  • A History of the Marathas - James Grant Duff (1826) London
  • Territories conquered from the Peishwa- Mountstuart Elphinstone
  • Konkan:From the earliest to 1818 A.D. - V.G. Khoprekar
  • History of Poona and Deccan in a Perspective - Archur Crawford
  • Medieval Maratha Country - A.R. Kulkarni
  • Bombay and the Marathas Up to 1774 - W.J. Desai
  • [1] Marathas' struggle for empire: Anglo-Maratha wars, 1679-1818 by Anil A. Athale.
  • Some political background for this battle
  • map of the battle events
  • The temple indicated as 'pagoda' in the map above is not the Chatushshrungi temple as earlier thought. At the location there exists a Ganesh temple named "Paarvatinandan" which is known to have been regularly visited by the Peshwas before their campaigns. Diplomatic correspondence between the Peshwa and Mountstuart Elphinstone days before the battle refer to a 'pooja' (worship programme) intended to be performed by the Peshwa at a local temple justifying the troop build up around Ganeshkhind.
  • a recent satellite picture of the same area
  • Annotated picture of the area from Wikimapia