To MAHOMMED BAIG KHÂN HUMDÂNY and others; dated 9th
HYDERY. (6th November.)

NOT long since, the ministers* of the state of Poonah, forgetting their innumerable obligations to me,* and joining with Nizâm Ali Khân, ad­vanced with a hundred thousand horse, and [a numerous train of] ar­tillery, into the country belonging to me, spreading destruction wherever they came. Upon this I marched to repel the aggression; proceeding, in the first instance, against Adoni, a strong place in the possession of Ni­zâm Ali Khân, to which I laid siege. About the same time, Nizâm Ali Khân, apprehensive for the security of his nephew, and of the females of his late brother’s [Busâlut Jung’s] family, who were then shut up in the fort [of Adoni], dispatched his whole army, under the command of his [youngest] brother, Moghul Ali Khân, for the purpose of removing them from thence. This army proceeded accordingly by a route leading along the skirts of the mountains, which served to cover their march. In this manner they reached Adoni [in safety], and taking from thence Mohâbut Jung* and the women, hastened with them, night and day,* and [as be­fore] under the protection of the mountains, to Hyderabad. I pursued the fugitives to the banks of the Tungbuddra; much of their baggage and cattle falling, by the way, into the hands of my people. The fort of Adoni was likewise captured on this occasion.

I next marched to chastise the ministers of Poonah, who, to­gether with the forces of Nizâm Ali Khân,* had established them­selves* at [or near] Shânoor. On this occasion I crossed the Tungbhu­dra with my whole army and artillery in boats, and proceeding with rapidity against the enemy, suddenly appeared before them. On the 7th Zilhijjeh [1st October 1786] an engagement ensued. Before, however, my troops could come to close action with them,* the fire from our guns sent such numbers of the infidels to the abode of perdition [or hell], that leaving their camp standing, and abandoning great part of their baggage, they took the road of flight. Shânoor became, in consequence, an [easy] conquest. Please God, the Aider, I shall again apply myself, after the celebration of the Mohurrum, to the chastisement of the enemy. All these particulars have been communicated to give delight to your odoriferous [noble] mind.

The following passage from the Sultan’s Memoirs will be found to contain some further particulars, respecting his operations against the Mahrattahs at the present period. It is in immediate continuation of the extract formerly given under Letter CCCXLIX.

“Having, in this manner, put the enemy to flight, I moved, at three o’clock “in the afternoon [of the same day], and encamped three coss in advance of my “former ground. On the following day I proceeded three coss farther; and, pur­suing my march, on the third took up a position on this side, and within one “coss, of Shânoor.

“By this movement, the death-devoted Mahrattahs, who, favored by the Shâ­noor-man,* had established themselves behind a stream which passes close to “Shânoor, were placed in the situation of an ill-fated bird, caught in a snare, “whose own feet may be said to conduct it to its doom;* the fact being, that “Shânoor [where they had voluntarily cooped themselves up] did actually prove “such a snare to them.

“It being an established rule under my government, for every Kushoon* to “cover its camp with batteries,* I, in pursuance of this system, caused en­trenchments to be thrown up around and in front of my position near Shânoor. “Having done this, I proceeded to attack the enemy,* with which view, after “allotting two Kushoons of regular, and ten thousand Ehshâm infantry, for the “protection of my lines and camp, I formed the remainder of my army (consist­ing, besides six Kushoons of regular infantry, of [a considerable force in] regular “and irregular cavalry, Ehshâm troops,* &c.) into four divisions, one of which “I placed under the command of Mâh Mirzâ Khân,* whom I directed to charge “across the river. Another division, conducted by Bûrhânûddeen, was to fall “upon the enemy’s left flank; while Meer Moaayenûddeen, at the head of the “third, was to attack their right. A fourth division* was led by myself.

“Every thing being thus prepared, and the third night after my arrival at “Shânoor being dark and rainy, and therefore favorable to my purpose, I put my “troops in motion for the assault of the enemy’s position. The distance between “the two armies not exceeding a coss [or two miles], the advanced picquets of “each were posted close to one another. Upon my reaching those of the enemy, “the latter, to the amount of about two hundred horse, came forward, and “demanding who we were, and what we wanted, forbad our advancing. I was “myself, at this time, in front of the column thus challenged. To these ques­tions no one presuming to reply without my authority, those scorpions advanced “still nearer* to us, and repeated their enquiries. Upon this I directed a com­pany of my advanced guard to reply to them with fire;* when a volley was “instantly discharged amongst the scorpions by the foremost company of the “victorious army, which sent numbers of the said scorpions to hell. Of the “remainder, some escaped to their own camp, while others of the infidels were “made prisoners.

“I followed the fugitives till I approached very near their camp, when I made the “[appointed] signal by gun* for the other three divisions of the army to advance “with speed [to their respective attacks]. To this signal, however, no answer “being given, I concluded they must have encountered some [unforeseen obstacle, “such as a] river or mirey road, which had occasioned their present failure. I “continued, nevertheless, my way to the enemy’s camp; on reaching which I “repeated the signal to the three other divisions, which was now answered by one “of the commanders, but still no notice was taken of it by the other two. Under “these circumstances, I became apprehensive lest the opportunity [of attacking “the enemy] should slip through my hands:* exclaiming, therefore, Allah-yâr! “[or, God is our friend!] I rushed forward into the camp of the infidels, and “opened upon them a [brisk] fire from my artillery.* Soon after I had thus “penetrated into the enemy’s camp, the commanders of two of the other divisions “likewise arrived there, at the points respectively assigned to them.

“It was just day-break when I entered the camp of the infidels, at which time I “had only about three hundred Jyshe and a single gun with me. I was soon after, “however, joined by others. The flight of the unbelievers resembled that of “kites and crows; and, after some time, they stood viewing from the summits “of the distant eminences, the plunder of their deserted camp.

“An hour and a half after the victorious army had taken possession of the “enemy’s camp, the fourth division, under the the command of Mâh Mirzâ Khân, “which, proceeding from the vicinity of Shânoor, had fallen upon and routed the “army of Holkar, likewise joined me.

“About nine o’clock in the forenoon, the whole of the unbelievers, re-assem­bling like so many gnats and flies, advanced towards us, and drew up, as if with “an intention of offering us battle; commencing, at the same time, a distant “cannonade from six pieces of artillery. On my part, I forbad my people to “throw away their ammunition in this manner, directing that the short light guns “attached to the different divisions should alone fire upon such of the enemy as “approached extremely near: and, even in this case, they were ordered to dis­charge only a single shot at a time, and that very deliberately. My object, in “this manœuvre, was, to make the infidels believe that I had none but short field “pieces with me. This notion would encourage them [I thought] to draw nearer “to us, when, suddenly opening a heavy fire upon them from our long guns, we “should be sure to put them completely to the route. It happened exactly as I “foresaw. The infidels came close up to our line, in the manner of crows; when “all four divisions of the army opening their long guns together, gave them, “agreeably to my instructions, such a general discharge, as instantly made them “disperse on all sides, and fly in despair,* like a flock of the same crows, in the “midst of which a stone has been thrown.

“In this action* the enemy lost about two thousand horse and three elephants, “killed by cannon shot: great numbers of their people, horse and foot, likewise “speeded on this occasion to hell.* The remainder of their army, turning their “faces to flight, retreated to the distance of four or five coss, where they again “encamped. I also, with my whole army, returned to my [entrenched] camp, “where I continued two days, till I could ascertain where the infidels were. At “length I received intelligence, that they had moved to a new position, near “Shânoor, where they were encamped, with the river on their left flank. Upon “this I also shifted my camp, and took up a fresh position directly in their front.

“Here, the festival of Zilhijjeh being at hand, I halted two or three days, for “the purpose of celebrating it; and having accordingly done so, I prepared the “following day for action. For this purpose, drawing up my army with the “whole of the Behropeahs* in front of the different Kushoons, and throwing my “right flank upon Shânoor, I advanced against the enemy. The moment the “infidels perceived this movement, they withdrew what troops they had placed in “Shânoor, and then, taking the Shânoor-man along with them, fled, without “fighting, to the distance of six coss, when they again halted. In the meanwhile, “I encamped near the ground which the enemy had occupied, still covering my “right flank with Shânoor.

“It was on this occasion that the destitute chief of that place, who had allowed “himself to be seduced [from his allegiance to me] by the insidious representa­tions of the Mahrattahs, experienced the nature of the protection he had to “expect from these perfidious friends, to whose camp he had lately removed, to­gether with his family and effects. Of the latter of these he was now openly “plundered of the chief part, by the people of the Mahrattah army, who even “carried off some of the women belonging to him. The next day, this senseless “creature,* together with what remained of his property and women, and with “no other clothes than those which they wore at the time, was sent off, under a “guard of five thousand horse, to Mirich. The Mahrattahs themselves made, at “the same time, two or three successive marches [in a retrograde direction].*

“After this, breaking up my camp at Shânoor, and leaving a small garrison in “that city, I proceeded to the [adjacent] town of Bunkapoor, near which I lay “encamped during the first fourteen days of Mûhurrum, performing at this place “the mournful ceremonies of the season. Here also the commanders of the “Hydery army presented me with three Nuzrs: one on occasion of the birth “of the prince* Nizâm ûd deen; another, for my late victory; and the third, on “account of the Eed (or festival).

“It was at this time that I came to the determination of communicating with “the infidels, on certain points which had suggested themselves to my mind. In “pursuance of this design, I sent a person of respectability,* accompanied by one “of the chief of my spies, to Tukojee Holkar, who had the reputation of being “the most valiant among the infidels; and to whom I directed the following “message to be delivered.

“‘Nizâm Ali Khân, to whom, if he had been here, I should have addressed “myself, is not present. It is for this reason I send to you to say, ‘wherefore “should we any longer suffer hundreds of thousands of men to be killed and “wounded in battle? What is most desirable is, that you and I should draw “up our respective armies in two lines............’ ’ ”

* * * * * *
* * * * * *

The sequel of this curious and interesting passage is unfortunately wanting, having, as already alluded to in the Preface, been torn out at this place. My recollection of what followed the words with which the preceding extracts ends, enables me, however, to state generally, that the message in question conveyed such another challenge to Tukojee Holkar, as that which was sent by the Sultan (accord­ing to his own account) to General Macleod, during the siege of Mangalore, in 1783, and of which a translation has been given by Colonel Wilks, in the Intro­duction to his valuable History of Mysore. The two armies were to be drawn up opposite to each other, for the purpose of witnessing the combat; in which, how­ever, they were, on no account, to interfere. The questions in dispute between the contending states were to be decided according to the result of the battle; that is to say, the vanquished party was to accede to such pretensions, or demands, as had been previously set up by the adversary. Holkar, as might be expected, treated the proposal with derision; observing, on the occasion (among other things), “that “it was not the custom of his nation to refer their claims to the issue of a single “engagement, but, on the contrary, to attack and retreat, retire and advance, as “the nature of circumstances required.” Such is the substance of what I remem­ber of this singular occurrence, as related by the Sultan himself: the deficiency in my account of which will, it may be hoped, be supplied in due season by Colonel Wilks, from the Sûltân ût Tuwâreekh, referred to by him in his Preface, and which is very likely to have recorded the transaction in question, as well as the similar bravado already noticed. At all events, there can be little doubt, that there are other copies of the Sultan’s Memoirs in existence, besides the mutilated one in my possession. In the case here supposed, it may still be reasonably presumed, that this curious document will, at some future period, be offered to the public, in a more perfect and connected form, than that in which I have judged it convenient to exhibit it in the present work.

I have not, at this moment, the means of ascertaining what credit is due to the Sultan’s account of the treatment experienced by Abdûl Hukeem Khân at the hands of his Mahrattah allies. The probability of the fact is, no doubt, sup­ported, in some degree, by the general character of that people for rapaciousness and bad faith. It is, at the same time, very possible, that the prejudices of the writer may have betrayed him into some exaggeration on the occasion.

The Sultan would not seem, even by his own narrative, to have followed up the advantage which he states himself to have obtained over the Mahrattahs at Shânoor, either with the celerity or the vigour which might have been expected. Besides the delay occasioned by the celebration of the festival of Zilhijjeh, he remained stationary during a great part of the ensuing month, for the purpose of fulfilling the customary rules of the Mûhurrum. Though not acknowledged, it is, never­theless, not unlikely, that some other considerations, as well as those of super­stition, may have led to this extraordinary inactivity; which, if it had not a tendency to damp the zeal of his own army, at least afforded time to that of the enemy, to recover from the effects of their recent discomfiture.