Battle of Koregaon

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Battle of Koregaon
Part of the Third Anglo-Maratha War
Bhima Koregaon Victory Pillar.jpg

Bhima Koregaon Victory Pillar
Date 1 January 1818
Location Koregaon, near Pune in Maharashtra State, India
18°38′44″N 074°03′33″E / 18.64556°N 74.05917°E / 18.64556; 74.05917Coordinates: 18°38′44″N 074°03′33″E / 18.64556°N 74.05917°E / 18.64556; 74.05917
Result Decisive British victory
British East India Company flag.svg British East India Company Flag of the Maratha Empire.svg Maratha Empire
Commanders and leaders
Capt. F. F. Staunton Peshwa Baji Rao II
Bapu Gokhale
500 Infantry of the 2nd Battalion 1st Regiment of the Bombay Native Light Infantry along with 250 cavalry and 24 cannons, all mostly Mahars 20,000 cavalry and 8,000 soldiers of the Peshava (Maratha) Army
Casualties and losses
22 soldiers killed Unknown

The Battle of Koregaon took place on January 1, 1818, at the banks of the river Bhima in Koregaon, northwest of Pune, India. A small force of 500 men of the 2nd Battle [1] fought valiantly for twelve hours against a large force of 20,000 horses and 8,000 infantry of Peshwa Leader Peshwa Baji Rao II who was threatening the British garrisons at Kirkee and Poona.

In November 1817, Peshwas devastated the Regency of Pune leaving no scope for the British army to retaliate successfully. The British commanding officer in Pune called the Chief of the second Battalion-first Regiment Native Infantry for help which was encamped in the Shirur Taluka of Pune district. This contingent, with only 500 foot soldiers and 250 cavalry both predominantly Mahars and other dalits,[2] defeated the mighty Peshwa army of 8,000 foot soldiers and 20,000 cavalry.

Regardless of their vastly outnumbered size, without proper food or water supplies, they marched 43 Kilometres just before the night of battle to put up one of the bravest of shows.[3] The Peshwa's troops inexplicably withdrew that evening, despite their overwhelming numbers, giving the British a decisive and important victory. The men of the 2/1st Regiment Bombay Native Infantry, who fought in this battle, were honored for their bravery. The official report to the British Residents at Poona recalls the "heroic valour and enduring fortitude" of the soldiers, the "disciplined intrepidity" and "devoted courage and admirable consistency" of their actions.[1]

The battle started in the morning and by 9 pm Peshwa troops evacuated the village.[4] This battle had unusual significance. First, the British army fought this battle with a minuscule army despite expecting the worst. Secondly, the battle of Koregaon was one of the most important events which helped tear down the Peshwa Empire and subsequently the Peshwa had to abdicate.[1] Thirdly and most importantly, it was a victory by the Dalits of Maharashtra to fight against Brahmanical laws and discrimination.[2]

The battle is commemorated by an obelisk, known as the Koregaon pillar, which featured on the Mahar Regiment's crest until Indian Independence. It features the names inscribed of the twenty two Mahars killed there. A medal issued in 1851, as well, pays homage to the undying spirit. Today, the monument "serves as a focal point of Mahar heroism".[1] Ultimately, Peshwa lost the battle and Baji Rao was the last ruling Peshwa.[4] Historians have acknowledged this historical event with praises for the Mahars and their bravery. Many sections of society glorify the Mahars who died in the battle, terming them as great heroes who showed incredible perseverance and gallantry to defeat the might of the Peshwa.

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  1. ^ a b c d Kumbhojkar, Shraddha (2012). "Contesting Power, Contesting Memories - The History of the Koregaon Memorial". The Economic and Political Weekly (EPW). Retrieved 2012-10-19. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Singh Attri, Pardeep. "‘The Battle Of Bhima Koregaon’". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Sharma, Gautam (1990). “The Grenadiers Regiment”. Valour and Sacrifice: Famous Regiments of the Indian Army. Allied Publishers. p. 71. ISBN 817023140X, 9788170231400.
  4. ^ a b Betham, R. M. (1908). “Marathas-History and Origin”. Maráthas and Dekhani Musalmáns. Asian Educational Services. p. 41-42. ISBN 8120612043, 9788120612044.

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