Thursday, June 16, 2005

Cornwallis: random facts

Some time ago, I caught a few minutes of a radio show about early U.S. history, and heard them talking about a Cornwallis. The name was, of course, known to me from my ICSE history classes of many years ago. I knew him as a British Governor General of India.

It turns out that he played a significant role in the American Revolutionary War. According to wikipedia he lost an important battle to another famous person :

Between January 2 and January 4, 1777 Cornwallis fought the American Continental Army at Princeton, New Jersey, led by General George Washington. The Americans surprised a detachment of Cornwallis' troops and pressed the attack until encountering the main body of Cornwallis' force. After this first engagement, the American army slipped away in the night before Cornwallis could counter-attack. The Battle of Princeton was seen as an American victory, although it was actually a confused series of skirmishes without a decisive defeat for either force.

In 1780, Cornwallis led British forces in the Carolinas against Nathanael Greene.

After a textbook siege by American and French forces, Cornwallis surrendered to the allied forces, bringing to a close the Battle of Yorktown, on October 19, 1781, and thus ending the war. He was ultimately blamed for losing the war to the colonists.

This story of the migration of a few brits from their american colonies to their south-asian ones, after their defeat in the revolutionary war, was familiar to me from William Dalrymple's White Mughals (a book that I haven't completed despite having borrowed it more than a year ago from my university library). And skimming through it I find the following passage (on p.23):
James Kirkpatrick's counterpart as British Resident in Delhi was the Boston-born Sir David Ochterlony, an old friend of Kirkpatrick's elder brother William....His father was a Highland Scot who had settled in Massachusetts. When the American Revolution broke out, the family fled to Canada, and thence to London where David entered the company's army in 1777. He never returned to the New World, and having made India his home vowed never to leave.

This post was partly inspired by this one.


Blogger Sunil said...

Ashvin.....there's tons of connections with the Raj in India, and the US (especially during the war of Ind. here).

Robert Clive....that notorious looter of India.....had his mighty reputation destroyed here in the US....:-)

Almost every "biggie" sent by Britan to the US had served time in India.

Ofcourse, the Tipu Sultan connection was brought out well by the Quizman.

Nice post!

6/22/2005 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger ashvin said...

Yeah, it sounds like it was a common phenomenon. I did not know about Robert Clive. Skimming through the wikipedia page on him didn't give anything either. Could you say more ?

6/22/2005 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Sunil said...

Good God! Did I say Robert Clive! I just wanted to agree with you saying Charles Cornwallis ....that notorious looter of India.....had his mighty reputation destroyed here in the US....:-), and had a typo-slip or whatever you call it!!


6/23/2005 02:03:00 AM  
Blogger ashvin said...

Ah, ok. Makes sense now.

6/23/2005 07:59:00 PM  

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