Laswari, Battle of


Laswari, Battle of
(1803)
   A sharp and bloody engagement of the Second Maratha War. In late September 1803, a Maratha chief named Abaji took command of the 9,000 westernized Maratha infantry and 4,000 to 5,000 cavalry in northern India. After the fall of Agra, Abaji retreated toward Jaipur. In October, General Gerald Lake, commander of British troops in northern India, advanced toward him with 10,500 soldiers. On November 1, Lake caught up with the Maratha force at the village of Laswari. The left of the Maratha line was posted in the village while a rivulet with steep banks covered the right. The Marathas deployed 74 guns in their center. Because of the grass and dust blown by the arrival of British cavalry, Lake was unable to realize the strong position of the Maratha line. He launched his first and second cavalry brigades on the Maratha left while the Third Cavalry Brigade attacked the Maratha right. The cavalry charges were driven back by Maratha infantry and artillery. At noon, Lake’s infantry arrived, and he threw it against the Maratha right. The infantry was organized in a column formation of two lines. Lake himself led the first line consisting of the Seventy-Sixth Regiment and two sepoy battalions. One cavalry brigade threatened the Maratha left. The Maratha artillery was able to stop the infantry line, while the cavalry launched an attack against the Lake ’ s infantry. But Lake’s two reserve cavalry brigades countered, and, in close quarter combat, the light Maratha cavalry had no chance against the disciplined dragoons mounted on bigger horses. Although Lake’s force suffered 838 casualties, Laswari finally set the seal on the disintegration of Maratha power in north India.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
   KAUSHIK ROY

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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