Siege of Bangalore

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Siege of Bangalore
Part of the Third Anglo-Mysore War
RobertHome - The Death of Colonel Moorhouse at the Storming of the Pettah Gate of Bangalore.jpg
The Death of Colonel Moorhouse at the Storming of the Pettah Gate of Bangalore by Robert Home
Date5 February – 21 March 1791
Result British victory
British East India Company
 Great Britain
Sultanate of Mysore
Commanders and leaders
Charles Cornwallis Tipu Sultan (outside the lines)
Sipahdar Syad Hamid Sahib (lower fort)
Buhadur Khan Sahib[1] (upper fort)

The Siege of Bangalore was a siege of the town and fortifications of Bangalore during the Third Anglo-Mysore War by forces of the British East India Company, led by Charles, Earl Cornwallis against a Mysorean garrison, while Tipu Sultan, Mysore's ruler, harried the camps and positions of the besiegers. Arriving before the town on 5 February 1791, Cornwallis captured the town by assault on 7 February, and after six weeks of siege, stormed the fortress on 21 March.

The Bangalore fort, ca. 1791, was described as follows:[2]

Bangalore, like Madras, had a fort, with a pettah, or fortified town, outside it. This lay-out was a feature of almost all the cities or settlements in India, the fort providing a place of refuge for most of the inhabitants if the pettah was in danger of capture. The fort at Bangalore had a perimeter of about one mile; it was of solid masonry, surrounded by a wide ditch which was commanded from 26 towers placed at intervals along the ramparts. To its north lay the pettah, several miles in circumference and protected by an indifferent rampart, a deep belt of thorn and cactus, and a small ditch. Altogether Bangalore was not a place which invited attack.

— Sandes, Lt Col E.W.C. (1933) The Military Engineer In India, Vol 1

Tipu Sultan followed Cornwallis' army, placing him in the awkward position of having an undefeated enemy army at his back while besieging the a strong fortification. Tipu kept away hoping to take assault when underway in flank. Over the next twelve days, two companies of the Madras Pioneers provided sappers for eight batteries, dug several parallels and a trench up to the fort ditch. Cornwallis attacked secretly on the night of 21 March 1791. The Madras Pioneers, led by Lt Colin Mackenzie, crossed the ditch with scaling ladders, mounted the breach and entered the fort, while the artillery engaged the fort with blank ammunition. With a breach made, the main stormers rushed in and the fort was captured after a hand-to hand fight in which a thousand defenders were killed. Cornwallis captured the fort and secured the force against Tipu.[2][3]

The Madras Pioneers, went on to make Bangalore their permanent home.

According to the British chronicler Mark Wilks, the British faced respectable resistance. However, the resistance lasted a few hours, and the fort fell to the British. Loss of the Bangalore Fort resulted in severe loss of morale amongst Tippu's soldiers.[5]

The British occupied the Bangalore Fort only for a year, as it was returned to Tippu Sultan, following the defeat of Tippu Sultan in 1792 and the consequent Treaty of Seringapatam. However, after the fall of Tippu Sultan in 1799, the Bangalore Fort came under British control. A British garrison was stationed at the fort till 1888, when it was handed over to the civil authorities.[5][6]

Today, very little remains to remind people of the battle, except for a plaque (see picture), which reads "Through this breach the British assault was delivered. 21 March 1791."[5]

Fort Cemetery and the Demolished Cenotaph[edit]

Cenotaph, Bangalore
Memorial Obelisk raised for the British and Indian Officers and Men who fell in the Siege of Bangalore, 1791. The Hudson Memorial Church can be seen in the background. (The memorial was vandalised on 28 October 1964)

The Fort Cemetery, where the officers who fell in the Siege of Bangalore were buried, is illustrated in Robert Home's book, Select Views in Mysore, the country of Tippoo Sultan, published by Robert Bowyer, London, 1794.[7] Home's painting shows the graves of Captains James Smith, James Williamson, John Shipper, Nathaniel Daws and Jeremiah Delany, Lieutenant Conan and Lieutenant-Colonel Gratton.[8] As recorded in 1895, The cemetery was located just outside the Fort Church, with the church being responsible for its maintenance. The cemetery had cypress trees, rose bushes and flowers. The Government of Mysore, had constructed a wall and gate for the cemetery.[9][10]

However, as recorded in 1912 by Rev. Frank Penny in his book The Church in Madras: Volume II, the cemetery no longer existed. The record of the offers who fell in the battle for the Bangalore Fort in 1791, were transferred to the cenotaph, raised by the Government of Mysore.[11] The 35 feet tall cenotaph pillar was raised in memory of the lives lost in the Siege of Bangalore, opposite to the present Corporation Building, and Hudson Memorial Church.[12] Kannada activists led by Vatal Nagaraj and others made violent demands to demolish the cenotaph. As a result of these protests, the Bangalore City Corporation demolished the memorial on 28 October 1964, and the name of the road was also changed from Cenotaph Road to Nrupathunga Road. The engraved stones were destroyed, and not even a single stone remains. A small piece of the Cenotaph has been placed as a bench in the Corporation Office.[13][14] Historians, and heritage lovers of Banaglore City are however enraged with this destruction of history. Well known blogger on Bangalore, Samyuktha Harshitha, calls it as 'official vandalism', comparing it with the destruction of the Bamiyan statues.[14][15]


The siege of Bangalore, resulted in a number of sketches by artists such as James Hunter, Thomas Daniell, William Daniell, Robert Home, etc. These sketches provide a detailed record of the landscape around the Bangalore Fort at that period.

Sketches of James Hunter[edit]

James Hunter served as a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. He was a military painter, and his sketches portrayed aspects of military and everyday life. Hunter served the British India Army and took part in Tippu Sultan Campaigns.

Hunter has sketched different landscapes of South India, including Bangalore, Mysore, Hosur, Kancheepuram, Madras, Arcot, Sriperumbudur, etc. These paintings were published in 'A Brief history of ancient and modern India embellished with coloured engravings', published by Edward Orme, London between 1802–05,[18] and 'Picturesque scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore' published by Edward Orme in 1804.[19]

Hunter died in India in 1792.[18] Some of his paintings of Bangalore Fort are below

Other British Sketches of Bangalore Fort[edit]


  1. ^ Naravane, M.S. (2014). Battles of the Honorourable East India Company. A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. p. 177. ISBN 9788131300343.
  2. ^ a b Sandes, Lt Col E.W.C. (1933). The Military Engineer in India, Vol I. Chatham: The Institution of Royal Engineers. pp. 163–165.
  3. ^ Aruni, S K (18 January 2012). "Once a battlefield, now bustling K.R. Market". The Hindu (Bangalore). Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  4. ^ Mante, Thomas. The naval and military history of the wars of England, including, the wars of Scotland and Ireland, etc., Volume 7. p. 428. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Iyer, Meera (21 March 2011). "A battle saga, one March night". Deccan Herald (Bangalore). Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  6. ^ Iyer, Meera (11 September 2013). "A tale of Bangalore and its four forts". Deccan Herald (Bangalore). Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  7. ^ "Burial Ground at Bangalore". British Library: Online Gallery. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Burial Ground at Bangalore". British Library: Online Gallery. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Parochial Magazine". Church of England. March 1895: 22. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Dhanraj, Anik Luke; Isaac, Rabindran; Mercy (31 October 2010). Fortified revival. Bangalore: St. Luke's Church. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  11. ^ Penny, Frank (1912). The Church in Madras : being the History of the Ecclesiastical and Missionary Action of the East India Company in the Presidency of Madras From 1805 to 1835: Volume II. London: John Murray. p. 71. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  12. ^ Chandramouli, K (5 September 2002). "Edifices that tell tales". The Hindu (Bangalore). Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  13. ^ S, Shyam Prasad (1 November 2014). "Reclaiming the city". Bangalore Mirror (Bangalore). Bangalore Mirror Bureau. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  14. ^ a b Harshitha, Samyuktha (2 December 2012). "This Cenotaph was officially vandalised". Suttha Muttha. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  15. ^ Sripad, Ashwini M (25 October 2014). "The Disappearing Heritage Landscape of Bangalore". The New Indian Express (Bangalore). Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  16. ^ Daniell, Thomas; Daniell, William (29 April 1792). The army of Lord Comwallis, encamped near Bangalore (Mysore). Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  17. ^ Home, Robert (1794). Select Views in Mysore, the country of Tippoo Sultan. London: Robert Bowyer. p. Plate 8. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  18. ^ a b Ebinesan, J (2006). "James Hunter's Bangalore". Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  19. ^ a b Hunter, James (1792). Picturesque Scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore. p. Plate 16. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  20. ^ Allan, Sir Alexander (1794). Views in the Mysore Country. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  21. ^ a b Home, Robert (1794). Select Views in Mysore, the country of Tippoo Sultan. London. p. Plate4. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  22. ^ Home, Robert (1792). "View of the Pettah Gateway where Colonel Morehouse/Moorehouse fell". British Library. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  23. ^ Martin, Claude (1792). Southerly view of Bangalore. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  24. ^ Home, Robert (1792). South View of Bangalore. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  25. ^ Colebrooke, Robert Hyde (1791). Twelve Views of Places in the Kingdom of Mysore. London: Thomson. p. Plate 1. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  26. ^ Hunter, James (1804). Picturesque Scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore'. London: Edward Orme. p. Plate 8. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  27. ^ Home, Robert (22 March 1791). Plan of Bangalore. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  28. ^ Martin, Claude (1792). Plan of the Fort of Bangalore from sights, without measurement. Retrieved 20 February 2015.