History of the Jats:Dr Kanungo/Regency of Nawal Singh
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Chapter XIII. Regency of Nawal Singh
Difficulties of Nawal Singh
[p.137]: A mutilated State, a factious nobility, a demoralised army, a depleted treasury and an anticipated revenue were the legacy of the civil war to Nawal Singh who now became the de facto Raja of Bharatpur, though nominally a Regent for his infant nephew Kheri Singh. Prospects abroad were equally gloomy for him. The interregnum at Delhi had come to an end. The exiled Emperor Shah Alam II re-entered the imperial city in Nov. 1771. Though the Emperor was weak, incapable and vacillating, the empire showed signs of recovery under the able administration of Mirza Najaf Khan, the last of the great foreigners who graced the Court of the Timurids. With the re-establishment of the legitimate authority of the Mughal Emperor, the Jat Raja stood revealed as the arch-rebel and usurper. The dispossessed Muslim Jagirdars of the Doab and Haryana, the shaikzadas of Mewat - whom Suraj Mal had expelled from their estates, looked up to the Emperor to restore their rights to them Mirza Najaf Khan was preparing a formidable army to subdue the Jats. The Marathas,upon whom Bharatpur had a moral claim for friendship and help, proved no less inimical than her worst enemies. Though Nawal Singh was at peace with the party of Mahadji Sindhia, the other party led by Tukoji Holkar made no secret of their intention to attack Jat territories after subduing Zabita Khan, against whom they were then carrying on war. The Maratha leaders, being virtually independent of the control of the Peshwa, had no unanimity among themselves and followed no common policy. Nawal Singh could, therefore, hardly count upon the help of the Marathas against the Mughals. Misfortunes came thick upon
[p.138]: him; the first of the series was the desertion of his faithful French captain M. Madec.
M. Madec leaves the Jat service (1772)
M. Madec, the French free-lance captain, had since 1766 been serving the Bharatpur Raj with rare fidelity and devotion. He had shown steady courage and skill in every action, though it was often his misfortune to be always beaten and to suffer most for the indiscretion and cowardice of others. His corps had been almost annihilated, his horses, camels, arms and artillery captured by the Marathas in the last battle near Govardhan (April, 1770). Raja Nawal Singh had the fairness to compensate the brave captain for his losses. M. Madec set himself to work with all possible quick-ness in re-organizing his corps. He bought back his fusils from the Marathas who knew not-how to handle them. He cast 12 pieces of cannon and one mortar at Agra, and exercised the raw recruits during the rainy season and winter (July, 1770-Feb. 1771). At spring his corps was completely reformed and during the peace that followed he repaired his fortune too. He now thought of returning to France but was prevailed upon to stay by the French Governor of Pondicherry, who represented to him that his departure from India at that critical moment would injure the cause of France. Throughout the year 1771 the enemies of England were watching with intense interest the progress of the Maratha arms in Hindustan and the diplomatic tussle between Warren Hastings and Mahadji Sindhia for securing the control of the shadow of the Great Mughals.
At the beginning of the year 1772 M. Madec was sent by Nawal Singh to raise contribution from the districts in the Doab. He returned eminently successful and was generously rewarded for his services. Soon after this he was employed in the reduction of two fortified places where two of the near relations of the Regent had rebelled against his authority.1 It took 15 days to 'reduce one fort, and one
1. M. Madec does not give us the names of these places. He says: "The Regent had confided the defence of two cities to two of his relatives who proud of the confidence had turned rebels and declared themselves masters." [Le Nabob Rene Madec, sec. 76]. One of these places was perhaps Ballamgarh which, as we know from other sources, was taken away by Nawal Singh from the grandsons of Ballu Jat, its founder (Delhi Gaz., p. 213).
[p.139]: month and a half to capture another. The defenders gained only safety of life and were conducted outside the frontiers. But the besiegers lost one thousand men. Raja Nawal Singh paid dearly for his ill-advised clemency. These traitors, as we shall notice hereafter, joined Mirza Najaf Khan, and rendered valuable services to him in enslaving their own kinsmen.
About this time Raja Nawal Singh was virtually at war both with the Emperor and the Marathas. Najaf Quli Khan, lieutenant of Mirza Najaf Khan, was carrying on the conquest of the Jat possessions in Haryana and Niaz Beg Khan in the Doab. The Marathas2 made no secret of their intention to attack Nawal Singh after the subjugation of Zabita Khan. Fortunately for Nawal Singh, some differences had of late arisen between the Marathas and the Emperor through the intrigue of his faithless minister Hisam-ud-din who became jealous of the ascendancy of Mirza Najaf Khan in the Court. The Jat chief took this opportunity to sound the Emperor's views for a common defensive alliance against the Marathas, as he had despaired of any permanent alliance with them on fair and honourable terms. He sent M. Madec as his envoy to Delhi (beginning of October, 1772) to bring about a peaceful settlement of the territorial dispute and negotiate for the Emperor's help in the emergency of a Maratha invasion of the Jat territories. But M. Madec became a changed man altogether by breathing the atmosphere of the imperial Court, which was now turned into a centre of anti- English activity. He had been receiving repeated letters from M. Chevalier governor of Pondhcherry, who urged him to join the service of the Emperor Shah Alam II. A war was now expected between England and France in Europe and in anticipation, the heated brains of the Frenchmen in India struck out many a brilliant though futile plan of driving the English into the Bay of Bengal. M. Duzarde was visiting every native Court in Hindustan to persuade the Indian
2. Khair-ud-din says: "In their [Marathas] heart sprang up the design of exterminating [fiqer dar andokhtan buniad-i-haiyat] Zabita Khan and Nawal Singh." (Ibratnama, MS., p. 214).
[p.140]: princes to assemble under the standard of the Great Mughal, which was to move towards Bengal at an opportune moment. Though M. Madec had no complaints against the Jats who had been his regular and liberal paymaster, he resolved upon leaving their service in obedience to the call of his country. On the 1st Shaban, 1186 H. (28 October, 1772; Waqa MS, p. 236), he was granted an interview by the Emperor who gave him a khilat of seven pieces, an aigrette, and a sword. Madec immediately returned to Deeg with the design of removing secretly his family, property and troops. This, however, proved no easy affair. The following story of his escape, told by Madec himself, is interesting as well as instructive, showing the helplessness of the Indian armies of the old school before European discipline.
"I returned to Deeg without receiving orders from the regent. This movement made them [the Jats] suspect me of having same understanding with the Emperor, and they began to watch me carefully. On the day of my arrival, I encamped outside the city, beyond the range of the fort-guns. The same evening I departed with 50 horsemen and the same number of infantry, and the conveyances necessary for the transport of my family and property which were at Barpur (Bharatpur). I arrived at the city six hours from the morning and spent that day in preparing for the transport of my baggage to Deeg. I sent messengers to Agra, and to all my gardens and villages ordering my soldiers, who were guarding them, to come and join me; but they could not arrive on that day. The Regent, .... having learnt that I had departed for Bharatpur with a detachment of troops, inferred rightly that I went there to bring away my family and property. He immediately ordered all troops within his reach to oppose my enterprise; he also sent orders for the villagers on the road from Bharatpur to Deeg, that they should take up arms and arrest me. It could not be done so secretly as not to become known to me. I knew all the dangers to which I was going to be exposed with my family and the difficulties I was to have in rejoining my corps with so few soldiers as I had with me. There was no time to be lost. I hastened the arrangement of my affairs, and four hours from evening (about 10 P.M.), all being ready I set out on my journey with my family and all that I possessed in the world.
[p.141]: " At 8 hours from the evening (2 P.M.), having travelled four leagues, I met a force of the Raja. The chief who commanded it asked to speak to me on behalf of the Regent. I made him approach, he told me that he was sent to request me to go to the Regent. I replied that I was going to rejoin my camp, and that it was very late. At the same time I ordered my baggage to march and seize the path in advance. I remained to talk with the chief. After about one hour I thought it was time to join my baggage. I quitted the troops of the Raja. The chief summoned me to follow him to talk with the Regent. Seeing that I was not going to obey him, he began firing upon my detachment. I caused all lights to be put out immediately and returned his fire. The peasants of the neighbourhood, who had been commanded, on hearing the sound of muskets assembled. Other troops arriving, I found myself engaged in a most serious affair against one entire part of the forces of the Raja. Having with myself not even one hundred combatants, my greatest anxiety was on the side of my camp, I felt sure that if it was attacked, on account of my not being present there terror would seize them and they would be routed by the Regent. These thoughts made me hasten my march in order to join them before day-break. To effect this, I was obliged to abandon to the Raja's troops 3 pieces of cannon which I was removing from Bharatpur, and also many carts loaded with my property. The troops of the Raja constantly fought me up to the entrance to my camp, where I arrived three hours after daybreak. The pursuers then quitted me, and my arrival reassured the frightened spirits. I caused the drum to be beaten at once and departed for Kama .... And at the first movement which I made to take the road, I had the whole army of the Raja pursuing me, and all the peasants of the neighbourhood, who are more dangerous on these occasions than regular troops. That army, including the inhabitants, was not less than 100,000 men. I formed a battalion in hollow square in which I put my baggage, and I marched in that manner constantly fighting. The cavalry of the Raja made marvellous efforts to break my battalion in order to carry off my family. But my continual fire of musketry rendered their efforts fruitless. They made all sorts of movements to prevent me from passing
[p.142]: "a large marsh which I had to cross. I halted in order to make two pieces of my artillery file to that side of the marsh in order to help the passage of my baggage. At that moment the troops of the Raja redoubled their efforts and I received a bullet wound in my arm. I caused to be discharged a terrible fire which made my enemies to turn aside. As soon as my baggage had passed I crossed the marsh. On the other side I was in the territory of the Raja of Jaynagar [Jaipur]. The army of the Jat Raja remained a long time to watch me and they retired in the evening after seeing me encamp under the walls of Kama. I lost in that affair more than 200 men in killed and wounded, and some camels. I saved the rest of the baggage which had escaped in the first attack." [Le Nabob Rene Madec, 84-87.]"
It was certainly a remarkable feat of courage and skill. In less than 36 hours, M. Madec had to make a march of 55 miles by the least computation (Deeg to Bharatpur, 21 miles doubled, plus 13 miles between Kama and Deeg), and cut his way with a large convoy through the huge host of the enemy. After having rested eight days at Kama, M. Madec reached Delhi in the first week of November, 1772.
Nawal Singh's alliance with the Marathas and Zabita Khan against the Emperor
By the end of September, 1772, the Marathas had reduced Zabita Khan to the same plight in which his father Najib-ud-daula had twice been thrown at Delhi---besieged there once by Raghunath Rao (1757), and the second time by the allied armies of the Jats, Marathas and Sikhs (1764). But they had in their camp Tukoji Holkar the adopted son, to take care of Malhar's dharma-putras among whom the father of Zabita Khan was the most illustrious. The Ruhela chief made a successful appeal to Tukoji Holkar, who procured from the other Maratha leaders very favourable terms for his submission (Ibratnama MS., 214). They not only gave back all his territories, but also promised to force the hands of the Emperor to restore to him the conquests of the imperial commanders in the Ruhela country if Zabita Khan would join them in an attack upon Delhi.
[p.143]: Having finished the affair of the Ruhelas, the Maratha leaders entered the Jat country immediately after the desertion of M. Madec with his corps. Nawal Singh's army was driven under the shelter of his forts. He held out not with any confidence in his ultimate success but only to secure better terms of submission. The Emperor did not raise a finger to help him except by writing a letter to the Marathas to desist from pillaging the Jat country! Meanwhile, Mirza Najaf Khan redoubled his efforts in recruiting and equiping the imperial army, which made the Marathas more reasonable in their demands upon the Jats. Nawal Singh could wait, but the Marathas could not; so they readily accepted whatever sum of money they could presently get from him and started for Delhi to attend to the business of another client of theirs, Hisam-ud-din Khan. They held out the same inducement to Nawal Singh for an offensive alliance against the Emperor as that offered to Zabita Khan, viz., restitution to him of all his territories seized by the imperial officers. Nawal Singh could not fail to see that the Emperor was more interested in crushing the Jat power than in freeing himself from the Maratha control. As he was equally interested in the destruction of the army of Najaf Khan, he threw in his lot with the Marathas. Towards the end of November 1772, the allied army of Marathas, Jats and Ruhelas, numbering more than one lakh [?] of troops appeared before Delhi. Against this huge host, Mirza Najaf Khan could hardly bring into the field 38,000 horse and 8,000 infantry.
On the 28th of December (1772) a pitched battle was fought under the walls of Delhi for about 9 hours. The Marathas and their allies displayed determined valour and compelled Mirza Najaf Khan to take shelter behind the lines of M. Madec. While the battle was surging to and fro, the traitor Hisam-ud-din with two regiments of sepoys, 30 guns and His Majesty's own risala of Horse, stood idle near the haveli of Ghazi-ud-din, watching intently its varying fortunes. As soon as the Marathas threatened to move in his direction, the Khan fled more in joy than in fright into the city. His troops joined hands with the Marathas in plundering the camp of M. Madec (Le Nabob Rene Madec, see. 96).
[p.144]: The Maratha army with Zabita Khan and his Ruhela horse, the Jats and the artillery of Somru, surrounded the city like a complete circle. Hisam-ud-din cleverly represented to the imbecile monarch that Mirza Najaf Khan was the sole cause of all these troubles and quarrel with the Marathas. That faithful general as well as all his Irani and Turani comrades-in-arms were dismissed from service and ordered to leave the city. The Hindustani party rejoiced over the fall of their rivals; the Marathas got 9 lakhs from the royal treasury and 9 lakhs from the private purse of Hisam-ud-din, who further offered one lakh more separately to Tukoji Holkar, if the latter succeeded in removing the Mirza from Delhi. The Marathas took Najaf Khan with all his troops into their pay and Marched away with him (March, 1773) to invade the territories of Nawab Shuja-ud-daula and Hafiz Rahamat Khan (Ibratnama MS., 219-221). The Jats had the satisfaction of plundering the Mughal territories and regaining man of their lost possessions. Nawal Singh got a short respite to recoup his strength and had reason to feel as much satisfaction and relief as Hisam-ud-din himself at the temporary eclipse of Najaf Khan's fortune.
Mirza Najaf Khan's first campaign against the Jats
Mirza Najaf khan, who had fallen under the momentary displeasure of the Emperor, and been banished from the Court through the intrigue of Hisam-ud-din, returned to Delhi three months after (end of May, 1773), with his reputation and power greatly increased by serving as a condottiere general in the Maratha service in their campaign against the Nawab of Oudh and Hafiz Rahamat Khan. About this time Abdul Ahad Khan, a disaffected subordinate and an apt pupil of Hisam-ud-din in the art of intrigue, joined hands with Najaf Khan for the overthrow of his master. Matched in cunning and excelled in warlike fame by these two redoubtable adversaries, poor Hisam-ud-din lost his hold upon the Emperor's mind and with it his place and fortune. The Emperor cast him away with as little compunction as a man feels in making fuel of a broken stick. Abdul Ahmad Khan became naib-uiazir in his place and was given the title of Majd-ud-daula. Mirza Najaf Khan was
[p.145]: created Second Bakhshi and exhalted to the rank of Amir-ul-umra (June 5, 1773).3 Raja Nawal Singh, alarmed at the re-appearance of the Mirza at Delhi, opened negotiations with the Sikhs to secure their help against the Mughals. He planned a campaign against the imperial territories to be fought simultaneously in three important theatres: one division of his army was to act in the region to the west of Delhi from a base at Farrukhnagar4, another division was to ravage the Doab fro Aligarh, while the main army under him was to threaten Delhi from Ballamgarh. The Sikhs were expected to reinforce and act in concert with the Jat army in Haryana and in the Doab Mirza Najaf Khan pitched his camp at Badarpur (?),514 miles south of Delhi, blocking the great road leading to Delhi from Ballamgarh. About six miles to the west of the Mughal encampment, there was a small Jat fort called Maidangarhi built in the time of Suraj Mal and still held by a Jat garrison. One day the Jats out of sheer bravado drove away some cattle and horses of the Mughals. Mirza Najaf Khan at once ordered an assault upon the garhi, which was captured after several hours of tough fighting. "This victory proved" as Khair-ud-din says "the title page
3. Mirza Najaf Khan returned to Delhi at the beginning of Rabi I. 1187 H. Hisam-ud-din was removed from the office of naib-wazir in the first week of that month. On the 14th Rabi 1. (June 5, 1773) Najaf Khan was created second Bakshi, and on that very day Hisam-ud-din was arrested who remained in captivity in the house of Najaf Khan for about five years. His property, worth nine lakhs in cash and goods, was confiscated: one-third of this amount was given to Najaf Khan as a token of the Emperor's favour: the remainder went to the imperial treasury (Waza, 270- 273).
5. The Waqa names the place of Najaf Khan's encampment as Badarpur or Baranpur which cannot be identified in the map. Khair-ud-din calls it Barahpula (i.e., the bridge of twelve arches near Humayun's tomb); but he is not very accurate. Badarpur is mentioned as one of the stages on the Agra-Delhi road in the Chahar Gulshan [Prof. J. N. Sarkar's India of Aurangzeb, XCVII]. We take it to be the same place as Madanpur, which lies two miles to the east of Tughlaqabad.
[p.146]: of Mirza Najaf Khan's record of victories and the first rung in the ladder of his fortune" [Ibratnama, MS., p. 212]. We may, with as much truth call it the ominoius presage of an era of misfortune for the house of Bharatpur.6
Hostilities were thus precipitated before the rainy season was hardly over. It was only the beginning of September and the Sikhs were wholly unprepared to take the field in such an early season. But Nawal Singh's blind fury could brook no delay in retaliating for this defeat. He sent under the command of his brother-in-law Dan Sahi, a strong division to reinforce Durjan Singh Gujar and Chandu [Chandan] Gujar, his own governors at Atrauli and Ramgarh (modern Aligarh). Dan Sahi and other Jat and Gujar chiefs mustered about 20,000 men under their command and began to ravage the Doab. They plundered Sikandrabad7 and other parganas as far as Ghaziabad,8 and were literally carrying out the command of Nawal Singh to "hang every Mughal official who would resist his authority" [Ibratnama MS., p. 212]. In the western theatre another Jat army' under Shankar Jat from its base at Farrukhnagar, overran the greater portion of the open country around it, and laid siege to Garhi Harsaru. The situation became so desperate for the
6. Maidangarhi (Ibratnama, MS., p. 212) is situated 2 miles to the south of Tughlaqabad and 6 miles south-west of Madanpur. Khair- ud-din's narrative, though well written, is inaccurate and sometimes deceptive. He says that the capture of Maidangarhi and the defeat of Dan Sahi and Chandu Gujar near Dankaur took place before the siege of Delhi by Tukoji Holkar [December, 1772- March 1773]. This is simply absurd, being opposed to every other authority Persian and English. His story of the opening of fire by the Jat garrison upon the cavalcade of Najaf Khan while proceeding from Delhi on a pilgrimage to Qutb-ud-din's shrine, appears to be baseless. We hold, on the authority of the Chahar Gulzar-i-Shujai, that the hostilities were precipitated by the carrying off of cattle by the Jats. I have to reject in many places the details of this campaign of Mirza Najaf Khan against Nawal Singh published in my paper in the Proceedings of the Fifth meeting of Indian Historical Records Commission, because it was based mainly on the narrative of Khair-ud-din.
7. Sikandrabad lat. 28°-25', long. 77°"-45'.
[p.147]: imperialists that the Emperor wrote to the Governor of Bengal a letter9 asking for his help. Mirza Najaf Khan refused to move from his encampment at Madanpur. He despatched several Turani and Baloch chiefs such as Niyaz Beg Khan, Taj Muhammad Khan Baloch and others with ,five thousand horse against Dan Sahi. They were reinforced by the Emperor with one regiment of Lal Paltan and several pieces of artillery under the command of Ramu Kamadan [commandantj.10 At the approach of Mughal commanders, having made a forced march of 10 or 12 kos, surprised him at night when he was encamped carelessly near that place. The Jats retreated to Dankaur, 25 miles south-west and in its neighbourhood offered battle to the enemy on 15th September, 1773. Chandu Gujar, who was the commander-in-chief of the Jat army, led the Van and attacked the sepoy regiments and the artillery of the Mughals. With an intrepidity which astonished even the veteran Mughal cavaliers, the valiant Gujar chief charged the enemy's artillery at full gallop, animating his brave followers. But the volleys of musketry and artillery fearfully shattered the attacking column; only a small body of troopers headed by their wounded leader succeeded in penetrating the lines of the sepoys and fell there pierced by bayonets after performing prodigies of valour. The battle raged furiously for two or three hours; it was an awful struggle of the native valour of man against science and discipline. Undaunted by the fate of Chandu Gujar, the son of Rao Durjan Singh Gujar (Governor of Atrauli) led his risala of five hundred horse to the attack and lost two hundred men. Two Jat leaders of cavalry, each at the head of three hundred
9. It runs as follows: "The Jats have rebelled round the capital, and have sent their army to Sikandrabad. Having committed depredations and outrages upon the inhabitants they have advanced to oppose the royal army and reached close to it. They have also invited the Sikhs to join them .... Desires the Governor to sent immediately an English army under the command of brave officers." This is entered under the date September 22, 1773, Calcutta. [Pers. Cor: MS.]
10. Waqa, p. 282; Ibratnama, p. 212, says "two regiments of sepoys"; Chahar mentions Lal Paltan; Ramu Kamadan's name is mentioned in the Shah Alam-nama (MS., p. 34) of Ghulam All.
[p.148]: men, next delivered determined charges with equally disastrous results; these bands also were slain to a man. Dan Sahi, the second in command on that day, was severely wounded and forced to take shelter in a small mud-fort (where he died two days after). The remnants of the Jat army broke and fled across the Jamuna. Besides heavy losses in the field, the river exacted a further toll of two hundred lives during the passage.11 Greater disasters awaited the arms of Nawal Singh in other quarters.
The Battle of Barsana
The Mughal victory at Dankaur (15th September, 1773) removed the serious menace caused by the Jat offensive in that quarter. About a fortnight after it news arrived that the Jats were making attacks upon Garhi Harsaru from their stronghold at Farrukhnagar. Mirza Najaf Khan at once sent a strong force under the able command of his lieutenant Najaf Quli to relieve that place, and put an end to the dominion of the Jats in that quarter. In order to fill this gap in the main army; opposed to Nawal Singh, he recalled his troops from the Doab. Nawal Singh who was encamped at Fatehpur Sikri [Baloch]12 5 miles south of Ballamgarh became
11. The fullest account of this battle is known from the extract of a paper of news dated 12th October 1773 [pers. Cor. MS.] The news of the Mughal victory reached Delhi on the 29th of Jamada II., 1187 H; allowing two days for the transmission of the message, the battle was perhaps fought on the 27th [15th September, 1773; Waqa MS., p. 273]. Khair-ud-din says that this battle was fought after the capture of Maidangarhi which is quite correct; but both these incidents took place after and not before the siege of Delhi by Tukoji and Nawal Singh (i.e., before March. 1773). He calls Chandu Gujar, 'Bahadur be-badal' [unequalled in bravery], and says that he was killed within the ranks of the sepoys pierced by their bayonets [Ibratnama, MS., 214] Pers. Cor. MS. says that his head was cut off by Taj Muhammad Khan Baloch. Harcharan gives pretty accurate details of this battle; the date Jamada II, 1187 H. given by him is correct.
12. The MS. of Chahar Gulzar as well as a letter written to the Governor of Bengal by Mirza Najaf Khan [Pers. Cor.] mentions Fatehpur Sikri as the place of 'Nawal Singh's encampment. One Sikri is mentioned as a stage between Pirthala and Ballamgarh (3 miles north of the former and 5 miles south of the latter) on the Agra-Delhi road. [Prof. J.N. Sarkar's India of Aurangzeb, xcvii]. No such place is to be found in the modern atlas. A glance at the map would show that Fatehpur Baloch is the place meant. This is situated at exactly the same distances from those places. It lies in lat. 28°-0' long. 77°"-25'. Curiously enough Harcharan confuses this Fatehpur Sikri with the famous residence of Akbar near Agra. He mentions the next stage of Najaf Khan's halt as Dholpur to be consistent in his error. Dholpur may however be a copyist's error for Hodal which is the place really meant.
[p.149]: disheartened by the news of the disastrous defeat of his army in the Doab, and throwing a strong garrison at Ballamgarh retreated to Palwal and thence to Hodal, about 53 miles south of Delhi. Mirza Najaf Khan followed the track of the Jat army and came up with it at the village of Banchari, 3-1/2 miles north of Hodal (middle of October, 1773). Hira Singh and Ajit Singh,13 the dispossessed heirs of Ballamgarh, had come to offer their services to Mirza Najaf Khan. He appointed Ajit Singh, commandant and governor of Ballamgarh, and left him with a small detachment to besiege that fort. Hira Singh accompanied the Mughal general to play the usual role of a traitor to his country and his people. Both armies encamped at a distance of four miles from each other; several days passed in skirmishes in which the Muslim troopers had generally the better. One day by sheer accident the Jat camp was surprised. Jamadar Ali Quli Khan captured some men from the neighbourhood of the enemy's camp and learned from them that at that time Nawal Singh was eating his meal and that his soldiers were quite busy in cooking theirs. A party at once rode out from Najaf Khan's camp. "A cloud of dust was seen approaching from the west. Some soldiers [in the Jat camp] cried out that the troops of Najaf Khan were coming. The Jats became
13. Ajit Singh was the son of Rao Kishandas and Hira Singh, son of Bishandas. Ballamgarh was taken away from their fathers by Nawal Singh. Ballamgarh was taken after a long siege in the third week of April, 1774 [Safar, 1188 H; Waqa p. 277]. Najaf Khan gave the title of Raja to both the cousins and Hira Singh was honoured with the additional distinction Salar Jang [Delhi Gaz. p. 213].
In the meanwhile Najaf Quli was making steady advance, keeping the hills of Mewat to his right and driving the Jats westward. In his first encounter with the Jat army, he captured four wheeled field-pieces [rahkala] from them. Next he reached Bawal14 (?) and the enemy was reported at a distance of 7 kos. On the 19th October, a letter of victory from Mirza Najaf Khan brought to the Emperor the happy news "Nawal Singh has fled and taken shelter in his garhi (i.e., Kotman]); Shankar's army has been defeated (Nawal Singh's general at Farrukhnagar) and all his equipages of artillery [asbab-i-topkhana] captured by the [imperial] troops; Najaf Quli has gone in pursuit of the enemy" [Waqa, p. 270]. Najaf Quli cut off the retreat of this division of the Jat army to Mewat and drove it northwards into Farrukhnagar. He laid siege to this place, but was soon after recalled to Sahar by his chief. Nawab Musavi Khan Baloch, the ex-lord of Farrukhnagar, succeeded him in command there.
After the flight of Nawal Singh, Mirza Najaf Khan summoned at night (17th Oct.) a council of war for discussing the future plan of campaign. All his officers were unanimously of opinion that next morning they should start in pursuit of the fugitives and the camp should be removed from Banchari to the deserted site of the Jat encampment. But Hira Singh Jat submitted to the Nawab that there was yet no certainty about the break-up of the army of Nawal Singh, who might prepare for battle with his rear resting upon the fort of Kotman - men who had been enjoying the bounty of the house of Bharatpur would not so lightly desert the Raja but would surely sacrifice their lives for him on the day of battle. He further pointed out that it would be injudicious to risk an engagement at this stage with such men so strongly posted, because the bulk of the army of the Amir-ul-umra
14. Our MS. of the Waqa writes Palwal, which is a place 30 miles due south of Delhi. It is absurd to suppose that Najaf Quli should go to Palwal on his way to Farrukhnagar (!) is certainly a copyist's error for some other place name. Nearest approach to correct reading is perhaps Bawal a place 10 miles south of Rewari.
[p.151]: was composed of raw levies of untried valour. "It is advisable" he said "to push rapidly towards Deeg, giving up the project of pursuing the enemy. If Nawal Singh comes out of Kotman, knowing this intention of yours, you can offer him battle [with advantage]; if through God's grace he remains inactive in his own place, the capture of Deeg, left without a master, will be easily accomplished. Mirza Najaf Khan approved of this proposal of Hira Singh and at once issued orders for a march upon Deeg. Leaving Kotman at a distance of 4 or 5 miles to the east, the Mughal army moved along the old Delhi-Agra royal road. They plundered Koshi.15 Chhata,16 and other parganas on their way and reached Sahar 17 (22nd October) to take the road to Deeg, via Govardhan. Nawal Singh guessing the design of Mirza Najaf Khan against his capital, left Kotman with his army, and taking a shorter route via Nandgaon18 arrived at Barsana19 about the same time. The march of the Muslim army was thus arrested by the sudden appearance of Nawal Singh on their right flank. The surprise of Deeg was no longer feasible, because the Jats were at least one march nearer their objective. Najaf Khan encamped at Sahar, but after a day or two moved his tents to Shahpur [?] half way between Sahar and Barsana, leaving his heavy baggage and the camp followers behind. Skirmishes went on for more than a week. Owing to the exhaustion of supplies in the neighbourhood, hardship began to be felt by the troops of the Nawab, who was hard-pressed by his officers to attack the enemy.
The key of the situation was in the hands of Nawal Singh. He was encamped with his rear protected by the fortified hill of Barsana; he could safely refuse to fight as long as he wished, because the whole resources of the
[p.152]: surrounding tract were at his disposal. He could kill his enemy by playing a waiting game as indeed the officers of Mirza Najaf Khan apprehended. But Fabian tactics were unsuited to his excitable temperament and weak nerve. On the morning of the 31st October [14th Shaban, 1187 H.] Mirza Najaf Khan led out his forces in the array of battle to try the temper of the enemy. Nawal Singh, who had a strange eagerness without ability for a fight, was easily provoked and a general action began after five gharis of the day had passed.
Nawal Singh divided his army in three divisions and stationed them at a little distance from each other. Somru with six battalions of musketeers drilled in European fashion, and three battalions carrying flint guns with fuses, and bayonets fixed at the muzzle, commanded by French officers, was stationed on the right wing. Twelve thousand Naga Bairagis resembling leopards and tigers [in courage], with about ten thousand horse and foot under the command of the Rajas who had come to Nawal Singh's assistance, formed the left wing. The artillery, tied together with iron chains, was placed in front; trustworthy commanders were stationed in the rear as a reserve; and Nawal Singh himself surrounded by a magnificent retinue stood in the centre. On the other side, Mullah Rahim Dad Khan with his Ruhelas was stationed against the Naga Bairagis; Reza Beg Khan and Rahim Beg Khan with their own cavalry and two battalions of His Majesty's infantry were placed opposite Somru's division; and Najaf Quli Khan and Afrasiyab Khan stood in the centre facing the enemy's artillery and Nawal Singh. Mirza Najaf Khan mounted on a fleet horse spurred to and fro encouraging his chiefs, while Masum Ali Khan was made to take his seat upon the elephant of the Amir-ul-umra, a dangerous distinction for which the poor man paid with his life .. A furious and stubborn fight began. Nawal Singh's left was broken by the determined charge of the Ruhelas, animated by the example of their brave leader Rahim Dad; while Somru checked and afterwards put to flight the left wing of Najaf Khan. The Jats made a gallant dash at the Amir-ul-umra's elephant, and capturing it despatched Masum Ali with many blows of dagger, taking him to be Mirza
[p.153]: Najaf Khan himself. The day seemed to be almost lost when Mirza Najaf Khan made his way to the centre and ordered Najaf Quli and Afrasiyab to charge the enemy's artillery with drawn sabres. Nawal Singh's centre gave way under the tremendous shock of Najaf Quli's charge: Nawal Singh himself fled on an elephant. The Muslim army fell upon the baggage in the rear and dispersed in search of booty. But Somru, entrenching his position, placed the cannon in front and kept together his sepoy battalions, quite ready to receive the enemy. Jud Raj, diwan of Nawal Singh, with 500 fresh horse-men was seen preparing for fight behind Somru's sepoys. Mirza Najaf Khan thundered and stormed in vain to bring together his scattered troops mad after looting. At last in frantic rage he flung himself upon Jud Raj's horse; followed only by forty troopers, and after an obstinate contest broke their ranks and put them to flight. Somru, considering it fruitless to continue the fight, ordered a retreat and marched away in good order. But one Frenchman, a lieutenant of Somru, refused to turn back and urged his men to fight. They fired volleys with such rapidity and precision as to deprive the Musalmans of their senses. Najaf Khan himself charged them several times, but their ranks stood firm and unshaken. At last matchlockmen and guns were sent for by the Khan to fire upon them By the grace of God, the very first shell struck the enemy's powder-chest, the second, guided as if by the hand of destiny hit the Frenchman on the head, and the third fell in the very midst of their ranks, carrying to them the message that it was high time to depart. The sepoys slowly marched off dragging their guns behind them with their departure life seemed to come back to Najaf Khan, and smiles of joy appeared on his face for the first time on .that fateful day.20
20. Both the Waqa-i-shah Alam Sani [MS. p. 271) and a paper of news in Pers. Cor. MS., dated November 17th, 1773 gives the same date i.e., 14th Shaban 1187 H. The paper of news gives the following details which differ to a certain content from those of the Ibratnama "Najaf Quli and Taj Muhammad on the right; Niyar Beg Khan and Fath All Khan Durrani on the left; the English battalion and the artillery were on the front .... at about one o'clock in the afternoon an attack was made upon Nawal Singh's army with artillery which kept up a continuous fire till five o'clock. Nawal Singh fled; Somru and Balanand and few others continued the fray. A hot battle followed and in the end Balanand and several others were mortally wounded .... about 200 of the enemy [Jats] were killed. Somru lost most of his men; about 2000 Mughals were killed and 300 wounded."
[p.154]: They sent letters to Nawal Singh encouraging him to fight the Amir-ul-umra. Some of these letters were captured by Najaf Khan's soldiers. Najaf Khan gave several days rest to his army at Barsana. He sent Rahim Dad to besiege the fort of Kotman,21 held by Sitaram, the father-in-law of Nawal Singh. After defending his fort for several days (18 days as local tradition says) Sitaram one night escaped with the garrison. About this time news spread that the Nawab Wazir-ul-mulk [Shuja-ud-aula] was coming to the assistance of Nawal Singh; in fact he had sent in advance a detachment for taking charge of the fort of Agra from the Jat garrison. Najaf Khan hearing this gave up his plan of subduing the Jat country around Deeg, and, practically running a race for Agra reached there just in time to prevent the junction of the Jats with the troops of the Wazir-ul-mulk.
21. Kotman (in the Mathura district) is also known as Kotban. It lies on the Delhi-Agra Trunk Road a furlong or two beyond the boundary line of the Gurgaon district. I have visited this ruined fort in the course of my historical tour. Only the mahal (harem), and Kachhari (Court-room) which is now the Choupad or village Common-hall, stand intact. These lie within the brick-built inner fort of which only the big gate, about 50 yards away from the Kachhari still remains. There is also a large pucca tank outside the gate. The descendants of Sitaram still live there as humble peasants. I met some of them; I was told that the fort had an outer wall of mud 18 cubits high and 16 cubits broad, with a ditch around. One Giribar Prasad, a tall, fair and blue-eyed peasant nearing 50 told me the story he had heard from his grandfather, how the Jats were surprised by the troops of Najaf Khan when they were preparing roti, how they came to Kotman and next went to Barsana, where they fought a battle for 18 days; in short a tradition exactly coinciding with written history. Harcharan says that Kotman was defended for nineteen days by the Jats.
[p.155]: From the time of Abul Mansur Khan Safdar Jang, the Oudh Nawabs had been the allies of the Jats. Shuja-ud-daula had no mind to see Nawal Singh crushed, and, besides, the ambition and ability of Mirza Najaf Khan had made him uneasy. He reached only as far as Etawah when the news of the victory at Barsana and arrival of Najaf Khan at Agra was heard. Finding his own design upon Agra anticipated, he at once changed front and, with consummate duplicity, sent a letter of congratulation to Najaf Khan, assuring him that he had come to these parts only to assist the Amir-ul-umra! At the same time Major Polier- the commandant of the detachment sent ahead - was thus secretly instructed: "If the qiladar of Akbarabad consents to give up the fort according to previous agreement and understanding, then, throwing off the mask at once, you should try to get into the fort by every possible means. If you fail you are to act under the command of Najaf Khan and obey him as your superior." The citadel of Agra was besieged by Najaf Khan aided by Major Polier. The qiladar tried without success many tricks to bring in secretly the troops of Shuja-ud-daula. After defending it bravely for some time he gave up the fort on the promise of the safety of life and property of the garrison. He came out and encamped at Naharganj; but apprehending treachery from the Muslims fled towards Bhadawar, leaving his baggage and treasure behind. Najaf Khan appointed Daud Beg Khan Karchi to the command of the Agra fort. 22
With the capture of Agra from the Jats, the first campaign of Najaf Khan ended. Soon afterwards, he went to Etawa to pay a visit to the Wazir-ul-mulk. His attention was engrossed for a few months by Ruhela affairs and the Court intrigues of Abdul Ahad Khan.
22. Najaf Khan entered the city of Agra on the 26th Ramzan 1187 H. (Dec. 11, 1773). The fort fell in the month of Ziqada between 7th and 29th of that month i.e., about the beginning of February, 1774 (Harcharan; Waqa p. 273). He crossed the Jamuna on the 15th of Zihijja, 1187 H. (Feb. 27, 1774) to meet the Nawab Wazir-ul-mulk (Waqa p. 284). He was given valuable presents and made naib- wazir on behalf of Shuia-ud-daula on the 22nd Zihijja (ibid, p. 285). Khair-ud-din wrongly calls the Jat commandant of Agra Dan Sahi, who had died about six months before. The news of his death two days after the battle of Dankaur reached Delhi on the 2nd Rajab 1187 H. (19th September, 1773). The Jat defender of the Agra fort was not Dan Sahi but his brother as we learn from the Waqa (p. 273).
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