Battle of Patan
|Battle of Patan|
|Maratha Empire||Rajputs of Jaipur
|Commanders and leaders|
|General de Boigne
Raja Sampat Singh Tanwar
With the decisive defeat in the Third Battle of Panipat, imperial ambitions of Marathas had suffered a serious setback. But by 1783, with the conquest of Gwalior, Maratha chieftain Mahadji Scindia had managed to reassert Maratha influence over much of Northern India, especially Rajputana. Many Rajput kingdoms like those of Jaipur and Malwa were threatened by the Marathas.
Intending to prevent the junction of Ismail Beg with his Rajput allies, Mahadji Scindia, dispatched an army under his generals Gopal Rao Bhau and Benoît de Boigne. On the morning of 10 May, Marathas came upon Ismail Beg at Patan.
The forces of Rajputs had 12000 Rathore cavalry, 6000 from Jaipur, 5000 Mughals under Ismail Beg, 2000 under Allyghar Beg Khan, 12000 men on foot with 100 Pieces of Artillery, 5000 foot soldiers with Ismail Khan with 21 pieces of artillery, 4000 Rohillas, 5000 Fakirs (religious fighting mendicants) called Attyles and Brakys and Rajput Sybundess (irregular infantry) with 8 cannon and 4000 Meena (hill tribals) soldiers. DeBoignes French army was 10,000 strong with additional Maratha soldiers on the outer flanks.
De Boigne's disciplined brigade and artillery guns formed the spearhead of Maratha attack and occupied the central position in the Maratha lines. The Maratha captains Ambaji Ingle and Balaji Ingle commanded the left wing (opposite Ismail Beg) whilst Holkars commanded the right wing. Gopal Bhau commanded the Deccan cavalry which formed the centre.
The armies faced each other in east-west direction along a straight line. Ismail Beg's contingent formed the southern wing of Rajput-Mughal combine. It was followed by Rathore horsemen and Abdul Mtalab's (Ismail Beg's lieutenant) battalions. Bulk of the Rajput cavalry was concentrated in the centre of wing. The left wing was formed entirely by Jaipur Nagas (fighting monks). The alliance had over 125 artillery pieces at its disposal. They were placed in three rows, one before Ismail Beg, one before Matlab and the remaining one the trenches of Jaipur Nagas.
Maratha artillery under de Boigne's brigade, though smaller in number, was more rapid, accurate and mobile than the one in possession of their adversaries. Battle of Patan began in the form of sporadic skirmishes and evolved into an all out battle only at its end. The command of Rajput-Mughal army was disunited and had no concrete plan of action. It was this lack of organisation that was instrumental in a decisive Maratha victory as the Marathas had the initiative and the element of surprise on their side.
At the onset of the battle, neither side was in haste to come to grips. The Maratha army took up arms at the daybreak and advanced four miles westwards from their camps to the mouth of the pass leading to Patan. But it took their adversaries over a quarter of a day to take up positions on the hill over overlooking the pass. However hostilities didn't break out for six more hours. It was ekadashi, an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar. Hindu soldiers on both sides were observing a religious fast. Exchange of fire during this period occurred only between the Muslim soldiers on both sides.
Ambush by the Maratha's
At dusk, Rajputs and their Muslim allies, retired to their respective camps. The Maratha army however held its positions at the mouth of the pass. The real battle however precipitated in the evening by an unforeseen skirmish. Some Maratha Pindaris from the left wing of Maratha lines, managed to seize animals that were a part of Ismail Beg's contingent. This inevitably led to a small skirmish with Ismail Beg's men. General de Boigne then directed his guns on Ismail Beg's contingent. Caught on unawares, the murderous fire of Maratha guns proved to be deadly. Gopal Bhau and de Boigne, sensing victory, went for the kill. Marathas descended upon enemy camps. Taken aback by the suddenness and the ferocity of the Maratha attack, Rajput resistance capitulated. The Jaipur Nagas held on to their positions before finally being overwhelmed at around 9 pm in the night.
Pitted against European armed and French trained Marathas, Rajput states capitulated one after the other. Marathas managed to conquer Ajmer and Malwa from Rajputs. Although Jaipur and Jodhpur remained unconquered. Battle of Patan, effectively ended Rajput hopes for independence from external interference. Sir Jadunath Sarkar notes:
From the day of Patan (20th June 1790) to the 2nd of April 1818 when Jaipur entered into protective subsidiary alliance with the British government, lay the gloomiest period in the history of Jaipur kingdom.
His victory increased Scindia's influence with the Peshwas (Maratha Prime Ministers) in Pune, the seat of Maratha government. The Battle of Patan along with the subsequent gains helped Marathas regain lost influence and morale, which had been badly shaken by the Panipat debacle.
- Herbert Compton, A particular account of the European military adventurers of Hindustan, page 54
- Sarkar, Jadunath. (1994) A History of Jaipur 1503-1938. Orient Longman. Page 292
- Herbert Compton, A particular account of the European military adventurers of Hindustan , page60
- Herbert Compton, A pakhrticular account of the European military adventurers of Hindustan , page60