Wellington in India (17 JULY)
Updated 16 July 21.
The 1/8 Madras Native Infantry were originally raised as the 9th Battalion Coast Sepoys in 1760, becoming the 1/8th Madras Native Infantry in 1796.
A Sepoy was originally the designation given to a professional Indian infantryman, usually armed with a musket, in the armies of the Mughal Empire.
The term “Sepoy” is still used in the modern Nepalese, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh armies, where it denotes the rank of private soldier.
The term Sepoy came into common use in the forces of the British East India Company in the eighteenth century, where it was one of a number of names, such as Peons, gentoos, mestees and topasses, used for various categories of soldier. Initially it referred to Hindu or Muslim soldiers without regular uniforms or discipline. It later generically referred to all native soldiers in the service of the European powers in India.
The East India Company initially recruited sepoys from the local communities in the Madras and Bombay Presidencies. The emphasis was for tall and soldierly recruits, broadly defined as being “of a proper caste and of sufficient size”. In the Bengal army however, recruitment was only amongst high caste Brahmin and Rajput communities, mainly from the present day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar regions. Recruitment was undertaken locally by battalions or regiments often from the same community, village and even family. The commanding officer of a battalion became a form of substitute for the village chief or “gaon bura.”
The salary of the sepoys employed by the East India Company, while not substantially greater than that paid by the rulers of Indian states, was usually paid regularly. Advances could be given and family allotments from pay due were permitted when the troops served abroad. There was a commisariat and regular rations were provided. Weapons, clothing and ammunition were provided centrally, in contrast to the soldiers of local kings whose pay was often in arrears. In addition local rulers usually expected their sepoys to arm themselves and to sustain themselves through plunder.
In the days of the East India Company, infantry companies in native regiments were commanded by British or Indian officers. The rank structure was the same for native officers as british counterparts, but with different names. A Subedar was a captain, and a Jemadar was a Lieutenant.
Wellington in India upcoming series. Drawings provided by John Updated 27 DEC
The Battle of Assaye was a major battle of the Second Anglo-Maratha War fought between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company. It occurred on 23 September 1803 near Assaye in western India where an outnumbered Indian and British force under the command of Major General Arthur Wellesley (who later became the Duke of Wellington) defeated a combined Maratha army of Daulat Scindia and the Raja of Berar. The battle was the Duke of Wellington's first major victory and the one he later described as his finest accomplishment on the battlefield, even more so than his more famous victories in the Peninsular War, and his defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo.
Wellington in India
74th Highland Regiment
Madras Sepoy, 1803
Wellington in India