Maratha Wars


Maratha Wars
(1775–1782, 1803–1805, 1817–1818)
   Three wars of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries occasioned by the encroachment of the East India Company against the territory and authority of the Maratha Confederacy of south-central India. In the first the company involved itself in a succession crisis of the Maratha leadership, yet was defeated at the Battle of Telegaon in January 1779 and forced to sign a treaty relinquishing all territory and revenue it had taken from the Maratha since 1775. The company renewed its campaign in 1780 with a larger force and managed a series of victories that resulted in the Treaty of Salbai in 1782.
   Renewed conflict within the confederacy 20 years later again tempted British intervention, initially in the form of the Treaty of Bassein in which the company agreed to support the Peshwa Baji Rao II against his rival Jaswant Rao Holkar by stationing company troops on his domain in return for revenue-yielding authority within the territory. Three Maratha clans, however, promptly raised forces to eject the British, so on August 7, 1803, the company declared war and deployed two armies - one under General Gerard Lake, the other under Major-General Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington - and inflicted a series of defeats on the Maratha, the most important at Assaye and Laswari. Ultimately the Maratha forces were chased into the Punjab, and the Treaty of Sarji Anjangaon, dictated at bayonet-point, ceded additional territory between the Jumma and Ganges Rivers to the company.
   In the Third Maratha War the company was prompted by raids by freelance Pindari horsemen into company territory - horsemen the Marathas were by treaty obliged to restrain, yet often indulged or encouraged - as reason enough to eliminate what remained of Maratha power. It fielded an army of more than 20,000 men to mop up the Pindaris before bringing the Maratha to battle for a final defeat at Mahidpur in December 1817. The war dragged on into April 1818, but at the end of it, the company was in possession of all of Baji Rao’s territory.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    James, Lawrence. Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India. New York: St. Martin’s 1997;
    Keay, John. The Honourable Company. London: Harper Collins, 1991;
    Kincaid, C. A., and Rao Bahadur D. B. Parasnis. History of the Maratha Peoples. 3 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1925.
   CARL CAVANAGH HODGE

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

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