Battle of Patan

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Battle of Patan
Date 20 June 1790
Location Patan, Rajasthan, India
Result Decisive Maratha victory
Belligerents
Flag of the Maratha Empire.svgMaratha Empire Rajputs of Jaipur
Rathore Cavalry
Rohillas
Mughals
Meena
Commanders and leaders
General de Boigne
Gopal Bhau
Holkar
Ismail Beg
Shovram Bhandari
Shahmal
Sukhlal Haldia
Raja Sampat Singh Tanwar

The Battle of Patan was fought on 20 June 1790 between the Maratha Empire and the Rajputs of Jaipur and Jodhpur at Patan, now in Sikar district in northern Rajasthan, which resulted in a decisive Maratha victory.

Stakeholders[edit]

The forces of Rajputs had 12,000 Rathore cavalry, 6,000 Kachwaha cavalry, 5,000 Mughals under Ismail Beg, 2,000 under Allyghar Beg Khan, 12,000 men on foot with 100 Pieces of Artillery, 5,000 foot soldiers with Ismail Khan with 21 pieces of artillery, 4,000 Rohillas, 5,000 Fakirs (religious fighting mendicants) called Attyles and Brakys and Rajput Sybundess (irregular infantry) with 8 cannon and 4,000 Meena (hill tribals) soldiers.[1][2]

The Battle[edit]

For over three weeks, nothing was effected between the two armies. On 19 June, Ismail Beg expressed his intentions of attacking the Maratha lines. By this time, his Rajput allies had come to his aid. General De Boigne proceeded to advance to encounter the Mughals with all his force the following morning.

De Boigne's disciplined brigade and artillery guns formed the spearhead of Maratha attack and occupied the central position in the Maratha lines [2]. 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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

Patan is nestled in a valley formed by three hills and reachable by a pass in the Aravali hills.

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 Aravali hills pass leading to Patan. But it took their adversaries over a quarter of a day to take up positions on the hill 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.[6]

Ambush by the Marathas[edit]

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. A Muslim force hurried out to the rescue of the cattle and then Balaji Ingle with 2,000 horse-men fell on the newcomers and a severe confused fight raged for an hour. Next Ismail Beg, in spite of his fever, which had been doubled by the sun's heat, took horse, headed a charge and drove the Marathas out of the allied lines, by his reckless personal bravery.[7]

A general fire was now opened on Scindhia's army by all the confederate artillery, but it did little execution on account of the long range. Next Gopal Bhau sent some squadrons to skirmish against the Rathors in the centre. These masters of Pasthian tactics, after a little demonstration, pretended to give way. The Rathors followed in reckless pursuit at full gallop with loud cries of victory, leaving their sheltered position on the heights. As soon as they descended into the plain and came within range, General De Boigne directed his guns on them.[8] This deadly fire mowed down hundreds among their dense masses. De Boigne had armed his sepoy musketeers with the bayonet, a weapon entirely unknown till then in Rajputana, and against it the Rajput swords clashed in vain, as the Baluchi swords were to do against Napier's bayonets at the Battle of Miani half a century later. The remnant fled back to the hills. Then the artillery of Abdul Matlab was seized, which was completely taken by surprise and could offer no resistance.[9]

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.[10]

Maratha Victory and Gains[edit]

All that night and for the next day, a relentless pursuit was kept up by the Maratha horsemen, and the famished, thirsty tired Rajput fugitives were butchered unresisting. The enemy's trained battalions did not share the flight of the Rajput horse, but took refuge in Patan city, and surrendered with its surrender.[11]

No victory could be more complete. All the property, guns and arms of the confederates left in the field or in their camps were captured. Rajput horsemen managed to flee into the countryside, but the trained Mughal and Rajput battalions took refuge in the 13th century Patan fort. All the arms and property of Rajput-Mughal alliance left in the field was captured. On 22 June, de Boigne went with some guns to the gates of Patan fort and threatened its ruler, Raja Sampat Singh with bombardment. The Raja was powerless to resist. Some battalion commanders managed to flee, but most battalion commandants along with 2,000 cavalry and 10,000 sepoys surrendered. General de Boigne then proceeded to lay a siege to the fort of Patan. The defenders of the fort gave up within 6 hours and all the wealth of Patan fell into the hands of victors, including the Ornaments and Mukut of Maharaja Yudhishther, the patrich and ancestor to the Tanwar Kings of Patan.[12]

Marathas recovered over 105 pieces of artillery from the enemy, along with 21 elephants, 8,000 flintlocks, 1,300 camels and 300 horses, besides many lakhs worth of other kinds of property. Rajputs lost over 5 battalions and 3000 Rathore horsemen. As for Ismail Beg's army, in words of Sir Jadunath Sarkar

Ismail Beg's fine army was practically annihilated; it ceased to exist as a military unit and lost all its arms, equipments, tents, baggage and even cooking pots.

The Aftermath[edit]

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 and firmly established Maratha influence in Rajputana.

Marathas on their part lost over 52 cavaliers and 300 sepoys. No chief fell on either side though report arose that Gangaram Bhandari, the Jodhpur generalissimo, had been killed. Only two of Scindhia's officers were wounded but only slightly so.

From the lost field of Patan, Mirza Ismail Beg fled with only 14 horsemen, and by hard riding reached the city of Jaipur on the next day. The others who shared his defeat followed the same westward path; Shovaram Bhandari and Shahmal (who had come from Jodhpur with 8,000 horse) went to Sambhar; all trace of Gangaram Bhandari, the Marwari generalissimo who had brought 5000 more cavalry with him, was lost for three days, after which he too made his way to Sambhar. Suklal Haldia, the Jaipur representative in the battle (with 5000 horse), hastened back to his own capital.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Herbert Compton, A particular account of the European military adventurers of Hindustan, page 54
  2. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar
  3. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 292
  4. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 293
  5. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 293
  6. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 293
  7. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 294
  8. ^ Herbert Compton, A particular account of the European military adventurers of Hindustan, page 60
  9. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 294
  10. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 295
  11. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 295
  12. ^ A History of Jaipur: C. 1503–1938, Jadunath Sarkar, p 295

Sources[edit]