chapter  2
39 Pages

The later adventurers and the French brigades

ByUma Shanker Pandey

The last decade of the 18th century saw revolutionary transformation in Indian military system under the supervision of French adventurers De Boigne and Perron. Employed by the Maratha leader Mahadji Sindhia for the raising of a loyal modernised army, De Boigne and Perron raised five brigades at Aligarh. Famously called the Army of Hindustan for its invincibility, these brigades were a pragmatic combination of specialised battalions with telinga and najeeb forming the core. With the defining feature of discipline and regular drill, these formations proved to be lethal in battlefields. The battles especially of Lalsot, Merta, and Patan clearly revealed the superiority of organised and consistently trained forces over the clumsy forces of the adversaries. These brigades were not the replica of European armies for even the English East India Company feared the growing power of these war machines and kept a close watch on its activities until their final clash with these brigades of Hindustan. Aligarh emerged not only as the most important centre of cantonment and barrack culture, but also as the biggest military labour market where skilled combatants were in constant demand. The French brigades had certainly become the major force in Hindustan for the English Company ultimately clashed with these brigades during the second Anglo-Maratha War for the control of Delhi.