The Battle of Arni (Arani)

1 Mar

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0535 hrs on 1 March 2017

The Battle of Arni was the endgame for the Second Carnatic War with Robert Clive and Raju Sahib (son of Chanda Sahib, supported by the French) as the principal antagonists..

Chanda Sahib had abandoned the siege of Arcot on 15 November 1751 and withdrew his army to Vellore.

From here, Raju Sahib decided to march south to join his father in the siege of Trichinopoly.

At Arni, on the banks of the Poondi river, some French troops joined Raju Sahib emboldening him.

The English side had been strengthened by a relief column from Madras under Captain Kilpatrick with a force of 1,000 Mahratta horsemen commanded by Morari Rao.

Leaving Captain Kilpatrick to hold Arcot Fort, Clive joined battle with Raju Sahib at Arni on 3 December 1751. Clive’s force comprised 200 European soldiers, 700 sepoys and 600 Mahratta horsemen under Bassin Rao making 1,500 in all, with 3 guns.

The battle came to an end by night. Robert Clive personally directed the battle and ensured the retreat of Raju Sahib’s troops, pursued by the Maratha horse fighting on the English side.

Raju Sahib’s army had to negotiate a causeway across paddy fields, ford the river Poondi and enter Arni town in considerable confusion.

At around midnight Raju Sahib’s army left Arni and headed towards Senji 53 km to the south of Arni. Senji was known as Gingee in Colonial records and had one of the most impregnable forts in India.

Although the Governor of Arni handed over an elephant, 15 horses and a quantity of baggage to Clive, he refused to surrender the fort knowing the English did not have siege artillery.

The Mahratta leader, Morari Rao, after observing the battle tactics, famously commented, ‘the English can fight.’

After the battle of Arni, the East India Company was no longer only in the business of trade. They were in the business of war and ready to use superior organisation and equipment in the gradual conquest of India.

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