Bangalore to Waterloo

I work at Electronics City, and often idly connect it to an event of over two hundred years ago: when the British marched against Tipu Sultan.

Starting from Madras and advancing slowly with a large mobile bazaar (an innovative siege-train), they had almost reached Bangalore when they learnt that Tipu had burned down his assets in a scorched-earth tactic and moved his men to Srirangapattana to meet the enemy there. So the invaders took a detour and went through Anekal and I surmise they must have passed near or through Electronics City, thick jungle then.

Lord Wesley was in that attack though he was not the top commander. Young at twenty nine, he did an exploit that mortally wounded the defenders: when Tipu's men attacked in a column at Malavalli, Wesley's men stood with discipline until the entire column was almost upon them; then, at Wesley's command, they cut down the head of the column in a single volley and threw Tipu's men into disarray and retreat. Tipu lost some of his best warriors there. (A few days later, he lost some more good men against Stuart's army in Coorg.) Then the British laid siege and nipped their way to the very walls of Tipu's fort and struck on 4-May, just before the monsoons, bringing down the last great Indian opposer of empire. At the time Tipu valiantly fell, Wesley had gone sixty hours straight without sleep; he went to his tent and crashed into slumber.

Fifteen years later, Wesley, now Duke of Wellington, rode to Waterloo. Often, at Electronics City, or on Hosur road, I wonder at this young man who rode his horse Diomed through this very terrain, to triumph at Srirangapattana; and who shaped himself in that experience to go on and defeat mighty Napoleon.

Postscript: Some facts are from Jac Weller; Wellington in India. Weller is good on terrain, battle placements and all facts relating to the British, but naive about Tipu, whom he paints as one with no grey in the brain and all black in the heart.

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