Robert Clive, founder of British Empire for the first time learnt the nuances of military leadership in Arcot, Tamil Nadu - 02

Robert Clive and his wife Margaret Maskelyne

Above image: Clive and his wife, Margaret Maskelyne and daughter, along with an Indian maid, by Joshua Reynolds, 1765 (Source- Wikimedia Commons)..........................

Robert Clive, an ordinary clerk in the East India company's settlement in Madras had one mission  on his mind to capture Arcot, the capital of Arcot ruler and  put Muhd. Wallajah on the throne.  The French and the English vied with each other  to  put their candidate on the throne. Now Wallajah was under siege  at Tiruchinopoly by Chand  Sahib, who was backed by the French forces. The British forces supporting Wallajah who was in prison now, did badly against  Chanda sahib's army and the French in the siege and now, Nawab Wallajah's life was in danger. Clive was the one who mooted the idea of raiding Arcot to distract the attention of Chand Sahib and  force him to break the siege at Tiruchilopoly by withdrawing his troops. 

Upon securing permission from the Governor of EIC, Robert Clive who led the troop to raid Arcot had already left Madras with  his friend  Edmund Maskelyne on August 30, 1751 CE and was close to  Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. Their scheduled arrival at Arcot was delayed due to unexpected rain and  heavy gale. It was scurry to camp out. Edmund argued with Clive seriously as he was taking risk going over to Arcot where Chand had a large army. Whereas the English army had  500 men, eight European officers - six of them were clerks with the East India Company, like Clive. They had no idea how to shoot.  The moot question on Clive's friend was: How could Clive handle a huge army with thousands of trained soldiers.

Robert Clive of EIC Madras, his just one mission to take

To Edmund the raid on Arcot was suicidal, almost a total fiasco!!. But Robert Clive, brimming with self-belief stuck to his strategy and said, ''Fortune favors the brave''. As Edmund prophesized the odds against the British were heavy;  though the British captured the battered fort. They expected the arrival of big guns and additional enforcement from Madras, besides help from the Marathas. The siege by Chand'a troops (numbering 7000)  led by his son Raza continued. Clive  and other soldiers hiding  under the battlement evaded  continuous  firing  from the enemy with support from the French. The food was already gone and the water in the reservoir in the fort was brackish. Fifty days went by, now dressed in tattered clothes  Robert and his men  - less than 100 had not eaten a good meal  throughout the battle  because of rationing, They had a hearty meal  before the siege by Chanda Sahib' had begun. 

As a last resort  with rejuninated vigor  Clive, though was in agony due to sun burn, hunger and thirst, commanded  his men  to take their position  with their last supply of  ammunition- guns and cannon, etc.. The firing continued  unabated against the Arcot army and at one stage the Arcot soldiers, after losing a big chunk of men,  gave up and Chand sahib's army was in retreat. 

What happened was Robert Clive outwitted them by creating an impression that they were far  stronger than they had expected and would fight to the end. Better focused on his duty,  he never gave it up in the middle.  

Clive friend said, “Arcot is now ours,” .... “Chanda Sahib will have to send more men to take back his capital — and that will mean less men at Trichy. Either way, our re-enforcements and the Marathas will take care of him. You’ve successfully beaten his strategy.”

The Siege of Arcot gave Robert Clive all the needed military experience,  art of manipulation, and  administrative skill. He knew very well that he had to push himself to complete the mission and no one could  push him with positive approach. Hence he was marked out as the earliest  founder of the British Empire and made the task easier for his successors to swallow Indian lands one by one by wheeling and  dealing, deceit and dishonesty. Soon Clive  married  his friend Edmund’s sister Margaret Maskelyne, in St Mary’s Church, Madras. In the later period  Elihu Yale (of Yale University, USA  fame), Governor of Madras Presidency got married in the same historical church.