One of the remarkable attributes of the Englishmen had been the habit of writing daily journals. This was especially true of the early travellers and adventurers of the empire. These journals have helped us in no small measure to understand history and to learn about the people and their lives of those far away times .While the writing of journals was rather a norm with the Englishman, the habit was more of an exception with the Indian. A classic exception is that of the journals of Anandaranga Pillai who was a translator- Dubash- in the service of the French East India Company and who was a confidante of the then French Governor, Dupleix. He wrote these private diaries during the period AD 1736-1761 which give exceptional information of those times.
Another such journal by a remarkable soldier-turned-statesman, Lachlan Macquarie (1761–1824) who participated in one of the battle against Pazhassi Raja gives interesting and informative accounts of the battle from the point of view of an eye witness.
In 1777, he again took up a commission as lieutenant in the 77th regiment which saw his long association with India. He was present at the siege of Cannanore in 1790 when Arakkal Beebi surrendered.( In 1790 Minicoy was surrendered to the English East India Company by the Ali Raja of Cannanore, Arakkal Beevi II. However, the Ali Raja was allowed to administer Minicoy in return for a tribute to the East India Company.) He was at Seringapatam in 1791 and later for the siege of 1799. In between he was at Cochin in 1795 and later joined the army that went after Pazhassi Raja in 1797.In 1788 he became a captain and by 1791 had been promoted a Major. The next year he was promoted as a Dy.Pay master general and made his riches during the battle of Seringapatam in which Tippoo was killed by receiving prize money of 1300 British pounds.
In 1801 he was the military secretary to Jonathan Duncan, Governor of Bombay. He was then appointed deputy-adjutant-general to the 8000-strong army, under the command of Major-General David Baird that was sent to Egypt to expel the French. In 1803 he returned to England and Scotland to enjoy the social life and to attend to financial matters in which time he had occasion to be presented to the Queen on two occasions.
Returning to India in 1805, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel of the 73rd regiment and served in north India.
He returned to England in 1807, and married Elizabeth Henrietta Campbell who was a distant cousin to whom he had proposed two yeas earlier. She was aged 29 while he was at a ripe age of 46.
In 1809 Macquarie was appointed Governor of New South Wales. His term of office coincided with an increase in the number of convicts sent to the colony. He found a solution to this by an ambitious programme of starting various public works of new buildings, towns, roads etc to help absorb these numbers. Faced with much opposition from the conservatives, and due to ill health he resigned and returned to his Jarvisfield estate on Mull in 1822 with his wife and son. He died in 1824 while on a trip to London to secure a pension which had been promised.
The Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia is named after him in honour of his development efforts while serving as the Governor of the colony of NSW from 1810 to 1821. The University has a rich source of records on Lachlan Macquarie and his family.
Journals of Lachlan Macquarie, May 1797:
Lachlan Macquarie laid his first wife Jane to rest in Bombay in January 1797 which was a most painful period of his life with its profound sense of loss. Immediately after, he joined the 77th regiment of foot at Cochin and proceeded to Calicut. While at Mahe, Macquarie learned that Governor Jonathan Duncan and Lieutenant General Stuart were in Tellicherry preparing for a military campaign against the Pyché Rajah in the Cottiote region of the Malabar Coast. He volunteered for active service and was given command of the Advance Guard of 700 men, made up of four companies of the 77th Regiment and a battalion of the 3rd Native Infantry Regiment.
Macquarie recorded his experiences during the campaign for the three-week period from 3rd to 22nd of May 1797. From a historic point of view these recordings are quite unique.
May 3 Wednesday!
— This morning at Day–break, the Four Companies of the 77th. Regiment, consisting of 2 Captains, 6 Lieutenants, 13 Serjts., 7 Drumrs. & Fifers, and 200 Rank & File, under my command, marched off from Tellicherry Fort, agreeably to the General orders of yesterday, to form part of the Field Army now assembling at Cottiangurry under the orders of Colonel Alexr. Dow of the Bbay Establishment, for the purpose of prosecuting the War in the Cottiote Country, against the Rebellious Pyché Rajah, now at the head of a large Body of Insurgents. —
The Detachment, after an easy and pleasant march, and crossing one River in Jangars; arrived at Cottiangurry at 8,O'Clock in the morning, and Encamped on the Right of the Line. — This Ground is about 9 miles in a due East direction from Tellicherry. —
Having posted the necessary Guards and dismissed the Detachment to their Tents, I waited on Colonel Dow to report to him my arrival in Camp with the 4 Companies of the 77th. Regiment, and to receive his further orders respecting them. — The Colonel was very glad to see me and expressed great satisfaction at having me thus placed under his command.
The two Brigades of Guns under Capt. Griffiths of the Bbay Artillery, and the Bbay Grenadier Battn. of Sepoys under the command of Major John McDonald, arrived in Camp in a few hours after the 77th. Detachment. —
Lieut. Colonel James Dunlop of the 77th. Regt. arrived also in Camp this afternoon from Tellicherry, being appointed to serve with Colonel Dow's Field Army as second in Command. —
On May 5th Macquarie mentions about commanding the native infantry of 700 men. On 8th, he tells about the amusing incident of the corps of Nairs and Moplahs declining to march, the day being inauspicious to move forward.
The next day, army moved Todicullum, the Capital of the Pyche Rajah, and where he was reported to be present. Six miles into the jungle, they met the enemy which attacked. Later, in an ensuing fight, Capt. Browne, ADC to Col. Dunlop, another sergeant and 16 privates were killed. Storming a mud fort in Mananderry, they lost another 5 men.
On 10th, the army reached Todicullum deserted by the Rajah on learning the arrival of the troupes. Macquarie describes this small jungle town and about Pazhassi’s abode or fortified pagoda. Also he writes about the “dastardly enemy seen sitting like monkeys in the tops of the thickest and highest trees in the jungle, from which they fired in perfect security to themselves “
Macquarie tells about Kannoth Nambiar’s deserted fort, its destruction and about “a very galling fire from along the banks of it from tops of Trees on our whole Line”. Much casualty was incurred with loss of lives of Major Bachelor, 8 NCO’s and many soldiers on the 12th of May.
The journal from 13th to 22nd of May further has interesting incidences and observations about the guerilla warfare and about the personnel.
Those interested can read the details from the following link of the Macquarie University site: http://www.library.mq.edu.au/digital/lema/1797/1797may.html
Note: Pazhassi Raja died fighting the army on 30th November 1805. To commemorate the year of the fall of a thorn from the crown of the empire, a silver coin was issued by the East India Company (Bombay Presidency) with a denomination of 1/5th of a rupee. This silver coin weighing appx. 2.2 grams was minted at Calicut for Tellicherry and bears the letter T and 1805. This coin is also known as Tellicherry Fanam.