Battle of Pollilur (1780)

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Battle of Pollilur
Part of the Second Anglo-Mysore War
Battle of pollilur.jpg
Mural of the Battle of Pollilur on the walls of Tipu's summer palace.
Date10 September 1780
Pollilur, Kanchipuram, India
Result Mysore victory
Flag of the British East India Company (1707).svg British East India Company Kingdom of Mysore
Commanders and leaders
William Baille (POW) Tipu Sultan
Hyder Ali
3,853[1] to 7,000[2] 2,000–3,000 cavalry & rocket-men[3]
Casualties and losses
3000 killed,[4]
200[4] to 7,000[2] captured

The Battle of Pollilur (a.k.a. Pullalur), also known as the Battle of Polilore or Battle of Perambakam, took place on 10 September 1780 at Pollilur near Conjeevaram, the city of Kanchipuram in present-day Tamil Nadu state, India, as part of the Second Anglo-Mysore War. It was waged between two forces commanded by Tipu Sultan of the Kingdom of Mysore, and Lt. Colonel William Baillie of the British East India Company. The army of the East India Company surrendered and suffered a high number of casualties. It was the worst loss the East India Company suffered on the subcontinent until Chillianwala. Benoît de Boigne, a French officer in the service of 6th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry, wrote, "There is not in India an example of a similar defeat".[5]

Tipu prevented Lt. Col. Baillie, from joining his detached force, consisting of two companies of European infantry, two batteries of artillery, and five battalions of native infantry, from Guntur, joining Hector Munro at Conjeevaram, while Tipu's father Hyder Ali continued the siege at Arcot. Of the 3853 men under Baillie's command, only 50 European officers and 200 men were taken prisoner after the "general massacre". Baillie was taken to Seringapatam[6] (Srirangapatnam near Mysore in the present-day Karnataka state).

Pullalur was also the site where the king of Badami Chalukya, Pulakesin II fought the Pallava king, Mahendravarman I, in the 7th century.[5]


The Battle of Pollilur, where the forces of Hyder Ali effectively used Mysorean rockets and rocket artillery against closely massed British forces.

Baillie and many of his officers were captured and taken to the Mysore capital at Seringapatam. After British reinforcements from Calcutta arrived, Eyre Coote was able to stabilise the situation and counter-attack. A second battle was fought a year later in the same area where Coote defeated Haider Ali's forces.


The Mysore rockets used during the battle were much more advanced than the British East India Company had previously seen, chiefly because of the use of iron tubes for holding the propellant; this enabled higher thrust and longer range for the missile (up to 2 km range). After Tipu Sultan's eventual defeat in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War and the capture of the Mysore iron rockets, they were influential in British rocket development, inspiring the Congreve rocket, which was soon put into use in the Napoleonic Wars.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gott, Richard (2000). Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt. London: Verso Books. p. 76. ISBN 1-84467-738-9. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b Dalrymple, William (1 October 2005). "ASSIMILATION AND TRANSCULTURATION IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY INDIA: A Response to Pankaj Mishra". Common Knowledge. 11 (3): 445–485. doi:10.1215/0961754X-11-3-445. As late as 1780, following the disastrous British defeat by Tipu Sultan of Mysore at the Battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men, along with an unknown number of women, were held captive by Tipu in his sophisticated fortress of Seringapatam.
  3. ^ Jaim, H M Iftekhar; Jaim, Jasmine (1 October 2011). "The Decisive Nature of the Indian War Rocket in the Anglo-Mysore Wars of the Eighteenth Century". Arms & Armour. 8 (2): 131–138. doi:10.1179/174962611X13097916223244. S2CID 161374846. Captain Munro noted: 'Around two or three thousand horse and rocket-men kept hovering round our main army, in order to conceal his enterprise from us'.
  4. ^ a b Jasanoff, Maya (2005). Edge of empire: lives, culture, and conquest in the East, 1750-1850 (1. ed.). New York: Knopf. p. 157. ISBN 1-4000-4167-8. Some three thousand Company soldiers were killed, while Baillie and two hundred Europeans, fifty of them officers, were carried off to Seringapatam in chains.
  5. ^ a b Ramaswami, N.S. (1984). Political History of Carnatic under the Nawabs. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. p. 225.
  6. ^ Naravane, M.S. (2014). Battles of the Honorourable East India Company. A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. pp. 173–174. ISBN 9788131300343.
  7. ^ Roddam Narasimha (1985). Rockets in Mysore and Britain, 1750-1850 A.D. Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine National Aeronautical Laboratory and Indian Institute of Science.


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