The Maratha Conquests were a series of conquests in the Indian subcontinent which led to the building of the Maratha Empire. These conquests were started by Chatrapati Shivaji in 1659 from the victory at the Battle of Pratapgad against Bijapur. The empire was interrupted by the Mughal conquests of south India by Emperor Aurangzeb and lost its independence as well as execution of their kings which continued until the death of Bahadur Shah I in 1712.
Afterwards, the Marathas conclusively defeated and overtook major territories of the Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent and its vassals. It ended with the eventual fall of the Maratha Empire after the Anglo-Maratha Wars.
After a lifetime of warfare with Adilshah of Bijapur and Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Shivaji founded an independent Maratha kingdom in 1674 with Raigad as its capital. Shivaji died in 1680. After Shivaji, Sambhaji took up throne. He built strong army as well as navy. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb shifted his capital from Delhi to Aurangabad to defeat Sambhaji. The Mughals invaded, fighting an War of 27 years from 1681 to 1707 in which the Marathas under Tarabai were victorious. Sambhaji was captured during this war and killed by Mughals. Shahu, a grandson of Shivaji, ruled as emperor until 1749. During his reign, Shahu appointed the first Peshwa as head of the government, under certain conditions. After the death of Shahu, the Peshwas became the de facto leaders of the Empire from 1749 to 1761, while Shivaji's successors continued as nominal rulers from their base in Satara. Covering a major part of the subcontinent, the Maratha Empire kept the British forces at bay during the 18th century, until internal relations between the Peshwas and their sardars (army commanders) deteriorated, provoking its gradual downfall.
The Maratha Empire was at its height in the 18th century under Shahu and the Peshwa Baji Rao I. Losses at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 suspended further expansion of the empire in the North-west and reduced the power of the Peshwas. In 1761, after severe losses in the Panipat war, the Peshwas slowly started losing the control of the kingdom. Many military chiefs of the Maratha Empire like Shinde, Holkar, Gaikwad, PantPratinidhi, Bhosale of Nagpur, Dev (Gade) of Wardha, Pandit of Bhor, Patwardhan, and Newalkar started to work towards their ambition of becoming kings in their respective regions. However, under Madhavrao Peshwa, Maratha authority in North India was restored, 10 years after the battle of Panipat. After the death of Madhavrao, the empire gave way to a loose Confederacy, with political power resting in a 'pentarchy' of five mostly Maratha dynasties: the Peshwas of Pune; the Sindhias (originally "Shindes") of Malwa and Gwalior; the Holkars of Indore; the Bhonsles of Nagpur; and the Gaekwads of Baroda. A rivalry between the Sindhia and Holkar dominated the confederation's affairs into the early 19th century, as did the clashes with the British and the British East India Company in the three Anglo-Maratha Wars. In the Third Anglo-Maratha War, the last Peshwa, Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British in 1818 and the empire ceased to exist.
Battles under Shivaji
Battle of Umberkhind
Battle of Umberkhind ( Marathi: उंबरखिंडीची लढाई ) took place on 3 February 1661 in the mountain range of Sahyadri near the city of Pen, Maharashtra, India. The battle was fought between the Maratha under Chhatrapati Shivaji and General Kartalab Khan of the Mughal Empire. The Marathas decisively defeated the Mughal forces. This battle was a great example of guerrilla warfare.
Battle of Salher
The Battle of Salher which was a battle fought between the Maratha Empire and the Mughal Empire in February 1672 CE. The battle was fought near the fort of Salher in the Nashik district. The result was a decisive victory for the Maratha Empire. This battle is considered particularly significant as it is the first battle in which the Mughal Empire lost on an open field. Mughal empire started to decline after this battle and the battle of Dindori fought one year earlier.
Battle of Kalyan
The Battle of Kalyan occurred between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire between 1682 and 1683. General Bahadur Khan of the Mughal Empire defeated the Maratha army and took over Kalyan fort. The Marathas attempted a counter offensive, but failed and they were repulsed and their army was destroyed by Mughal forces.
Battle of Bhupalgarh
The Battle of Bhupalgarh occurred between the Mughal and Maratha empires in 1679. The battle resulted in the capture, loot and razing of the fort of Bhupalgarh under Firangoji Narsala by the Mughal forces led by Diler Khan.
Battle of Sangamner
The Battle of Sangamner was fought between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire in 1679. This was the last battle in which the Maratha King Shivaji fought. The Mughals had ambushedShivaji when he was returning from a sack on Jalna. The Marathas engaged in battle with the Mughals for three days until Maratha General, Sidhoji Nimbalkar was killed alongside 2,000 Maratha soldiers. The Maratha force was largely decimated defending their king, however Shivaji managed to retreat with 500 men.
Battles after Shivaji
War of 27 Years
War of 27 years was a series of battles fought between Marathas and Mughals from 1681 to 1707 in the Indian subcontinent. It was a series of battles. The war started in 1680 with the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s invasion of the Maratha enclave in Bijapur established by Shivaji.
The war can be broken down into three distinct phases :
- Marathas under Sambhaji (1681–1689).
- Marathas under Rajaram (1689–1699).
- Marathas under Tarabai (1699–1707).
It was a long snakes and ladders war game involving a quarter of a century and innumerable long and short battles. The war ended with the ultimate defeat and death of Aurangzeb in 1707. It also paved the way for the Maratha expansion in the North.
Battle of Palkhed
Battle of Palkhed was a land battle that took place on 28 February 1728 at the village of Palkhed, near the city of Nashik, Maharashtra, India between the Maratha Peshwa, Baji Rao I and the Nizam-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad. The Marathas defeated the Nizam. The battle is considered an example of brilliant execution of military strategy.
Battle of Mandsaur
The Battle of Mandsaur took place in Mandsaur, modern day Madhya Pradesh between Marathas, commanded by Malharrao Holkar, and Jai Singh of Amber, in which Jai Singh was defeated in February, 1733. Malhar Rao Holkar then conquered Bundelkhand and Bundi.
Battle of Vasai
The Battle of Vasai was fought between the Marathas and the Portuguese rulers of Vasai, a village lying near Bombay in the present-day state of Maharashtra, India. The Marathas were led by Chimaji Appa, a brother of Peshwa Baji Rao I. Maratha victory in this war was a major achievement of Baji Rao I reign.
Maratha invasions of Bengal
First Battle of Katwa
The Battle of Katwa occurred between the Nawab of Bengal and Maratha Empire in 1742. The Maratha's initially attacked and captured Katwa and Hooghly, in Bengal. The Nawab of Bengal Ali Vardi Khan responded with a direct attack at the Maratha camp at Katwa in the nightfall, so much that the entire Maratha army evacuated out of Bengal on September 17, 1742 believing a much larger force had charged them.
|Nawab Ali-Vardi Khan|
Second Battle of Katwa
The Second Battle of Katwa occurred between the Nawab of Bengal and Maratha Empire in 1745. After the initial evacuation of the Maratha's at the First Battle of Katwa, the Maratha General, Raghuji Bhonsle attempted, once again, to conquer Katwa. Bhonsle, with 20,000 horsemen attacked Murshidabad then moved onwards to Katwa, where Nawab of Bengal Ali Vardi Khan fought Raghuji and his men, with Marathas moving in towards Medinipur in Bengal.
Battle of Burdwan
The Battle of Burdwan occurred between the Nawab of Bengal and Maratha empires in 1747. After the dismissal of Mir Jafar by Ali Vardi Khan, an army was amassed to defend against the invading Maratha forces of Janoji Bhonsle at Orissa. Ali Vardi Khan managed to heavily repulse and defeat the Maratha's in this battle.
Battle of Delhi, 1757
After a victorious Battle of Narela on 16 January 1757 Maratha Army led by Antaji Mankeshwar and an advance column of Ahmad Shah Abdali's army, the Battle of Delhi was a battle fought on 11 August 1757 between Maratha Empire under the command of Raghunath Rao and Rohilla Afghans under Najib-ud-Daula. The battle was waged by the Marathas for the control of Delhi, the former Mughal capital which was now under the control of Rohilla chief Najib-ud-Daula, as a consequence of fourth invasion of Ahmad Shah Abdali.
Maratha conquest of Northwest India
Malharrao Holkar, Raghunathrao, Shamsher Bahadur, Gangadhar Tatya, Sakharambapu, Naroshankar and Maujiram Bania attacked Delhi on 11 August 1757 and defeated Najib Khan and Ahmed Khan became the Mir Bakshi in his place. In March, 1758, they conquered Sarhind. On 20 April 1758, Malharrao Holkar and Raghunathrao attacked and conquered Lahore. Tukojirao Holkar conquered Attock and Peshawar. In Lahore, as in Delhi, the Marathas were now major players. The Maratha Empire had reached its peak, the empire's territories covered almost half of South Asia.
This was followed by the third battle of Panipat. Losses at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 suspended further expansion of the empire in the North-west of India and reduced the power of the Peshwas.
Third Battle of Panipat
The Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 January 1761 at Panipat (Haryana State, India), about 60 miles (95.5 km) north of Delhi. The battle pitted the French-supplied artillery of the Marathas against the heavy cavalry of the Afghans led by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an ethnic Pashtun, also known as Ahmad Shah Abdali. The battle is considered one of the largest battles fought in the 18th century. The famished, burdened and outnumbered Marathas were defeated with heavy casualties. There were near 100,000 soldiers dead adding both sides and the battle resulted in retreat of Maratha army and civilians from Punjab to Delhi.
Restoration of Maratha suzerainty in the North
Under Madhavrao Peshwa, Maratha authority in North India (including Delhi) was restored ten years after the battle of Panipat. The Rohillas were defeated and were forced to pay a heavy war indemnity. Delhi was captured by Mahadji Scindia in late 1770 and restored Mughal emperor Shah Alam II to the throne of Delhi in 1772.
Battle of Alegaon
The Battle of Alegaon was fought between Nizam Ali Khan of Hyderabad and Raghunathrao of the Maratha Empire against Peshwa Madhavrao of the Maratha Empire. Raghunathrao had established an alliance with Nizam Ali Khan of Hyderabad. When conflict arose between Raghunathrao and Madhavrao I, a joint campaign between Nizam Ali Khan and Raghunathrao resulted in Madhavrao I being heavily defeated. Peshwa Madhavrao surrendered on November 12, 1762. Nizam Ali Khan got all of his previously lost territories that were lost at the Battle of Udgir. Peshwa Madhavrao submitted to his uncle, Raghunathrao.
Battle of Rakshasbhuvan
The Battle of Rakshasbhuvan was fought on 10 August 1763. While the Marathas were fighting amongst themselves during a civil war, the Nizam decided to attack. The Nizam however failed. The Nizam gave up territory he gained during the Battle of Alegaon in an attempt to sue for peace.
Capture of Delhi, 1771
The forces of Mahadji Shinde captured Delhi in 1771 and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II was restored to the throne. Marathas capture Delhi by defeating Afghans under Najib khan. With this battle they regained there lost supremacy in North India after the Third Battle of Panipat and conquered much of the lost territories which they lost after the Third Battle of Panipat.
Marathas in Rohilkhand
After taking control of Delhi, Marathas sent a large army in 1772 to "punish" Afghan Rohillas for Panipat. Maratha army devastated Rohilkhand by looting and plundering and also took the members of royal family as captives. Maratha general Mahadaji was “very much pleased with the revenge taken by his men” for Panipat
Conflict with the Kingdom of Mysore
Battle of Rutehalli Fort
In 1764, following the attack by Hyder Ali on Nawabs of Savanur, who were a tributary to the Marathas, Maratha army led by Peshwa Madhav Rao met the forces of Hyder Ali at Rutehalli Fort. Hydar Ali tried to avoid pitched battles against Maratha Forces however Maratha forces intercepted Mysore forces near Rutehalli Fort in Karnatic and a crushing defeat was imposed upon them, Hydar Ali lost well over 1,000 men and himself fled into the local forest to save his life.
Battle of Sira and Madgiri
In 1767, Maratha army led by Peshwa Madhav Rao defeated the forces of Hyder Ali at Sira and Madgiri. Marathas conquered the forts of Haskote and Nandigarh and laid siege to Bednur where Hyder Ali was taking shelter.
Siege of Saunshi
Hyder Ali of Mysore attempted to try to regain his lost territories of Malabar and Coorg from the Marathas. Hyder Ali who was the prime minister to maharaja of Mysore decided to attack the Marathas at Saunshi. Hyder Ali decided to send his General, Muhammad Ali to attack the Maratha position. The result of the battle was a victory for Mysore against the Maratha forces. Maratha Chief Konher Rao was killed and Pandurang Rao was caught by the Mysore forces.
Siege of Nargund
Siege of Adoni
The Siege of Adoni occurred between the forces of Tipu Sultan of the Kingdom of Mysore and the Maratha Empire allied with the Nizam of Hyderabad. Tipu Sultan surprised Haripant when he decided to advance for Adoni. Tipu Sultan came out victorious.
Battle of Savanur
The Battle of Savanur concluded in October, 1786, with the victory of Tipu Sultan over the Marathas. Tipu strategically lured the Marathas out of their position on a height near Savanur and unleashed a barrage of heavy fire on them. This devastated the Maratha army, making them retreat and Tipu Sultan conquered Savanur soon after.
Siege of Bahadur Benda
The Siege of Bahadur Benda happened between the forces of Tipu Sultan of Mysore and the Maratha forces of Haripant. Tipu Sultan defeated the Maratha forces. Following this battle, a peace agreement was signed between the [Empire of Mysore] and the Maratha Empire, which allowed for Tipu Sultan to focus his resources into combating the British Empire.
Battle of Gajendragad
The Battle of Gajendragad was fought in June 1786, during the Maratha-Mysore War. An army of the Maratha Empire led by Tukoji Rao Holkar, defeated the army of Tipu Sultan and captured the town and fortress at Gajendragad. Mysore was obligated to pay 4.8 million rupees as a war cost to the Marathas, and an annual tribute of 1.2 million rupees. The treaty of Gajendragad signed after the battle ended the Maratha-Mysore conflict.
First Anglo Maratha War (1775 - 1783)
Battle of Wadgaon
The East India Company's force from Bombay consisted of about 3,900 men (about 600 Europeans, the rest Asian) accompanied by many thousands of servants and specialist workers. They were joined on the way by Raghunath's forces, adding several thousand more soldiers, and more artillery. The Maratha army included forces contributed by all the partners in the federation, tens of thousands in all, commanded by Tukojirao Holkar and General Mahadji Shinde (also known as Mahadji Sindia). Mahadji slowed down the British march and sent forces west to cut off its supply lines. When they found out about this, the British halted at Talegaon, a few hours' brisk march from Pune, but days away for the thousands of support staff with their ox-drawn carts. Now the Maratha cavalry harassed the enemy from all sides. The Marathas also utilized a scorched earth policy, burning farmland and poisoning wells. The British began to withdraw from Talegaon in the middle of the night, but the Marathas attacked, forcing them to halt in the village of Wadgaon (now called Vadgaon or Vadgaon Maval), where the British force was surrounded on 12 January 1779. By the end of the next day, the British were ready to discuss surrender terms, and on 16 January signed the Treaty of Wadgaon that forced the Bombay government to relinquish all territories acquired by the Bombay office of the East India Company since 1773.
Battle of Medtya, 1790
The forces of Mahadji Shinde under de Boigne routed the Marwar army.
Battle of Patan
The Battle of Patan was fought on June 20, 1790 between the Maratha Empire and the Rajputs of Jaipur and their Mughal allies. Many Rajput kingdoms like those of Jaipur and Malwa were threatened by the Marathas. In early 1790, hoping to completely rid the Rajputana off Maratha interference, Rajput nobility allied with Mughal general Ismail Beg. Marathas crushed the allied Rajput-Mughal army. The European armed and trained Marathas conquered the Rajput states one after the other. Marathas managed to conquer Ajmer and Malwa from Rajputs. Marathas recovered over 105 pieces of artillery from the enemy, along with 21 elephants, 1300 camels and 300 horses. Rajputs lost over 5 battalions and 3000 Rathore horsemen.
Capture of Ajmer, 1790
The forces of Mahadji Shinde captured Ajmer.
Capture of Shimoga
The Capture of Shimoga, a town and fortress held by forces of the Kingdom of Mysore, occurred on 3 January 1792 after a preliminary battle with the attacking forces of the British East India Company and the Marathas not far from the town on 29 December had scattered much of its defending army. The defenders surrendered after the fort's walls were breached. The battle was part of a campaign during the Third Anglo-Mysore War by Maratha leader Purseram Bhow to recover Maratha territories taken by Hyder Ali in an earlier conflict between Mysore and the Marathas. By the end of the siege Reza Sahib a leading Mysore commander was among the captured.
Battle of Kharda
The Battle of Kharda took place in February 1795 between the Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah II and Peshwa Madhavrao II, in which Nizam was badly defeated. Governor General John Shore followed the policy of non-intervention despite that Nizam was under his protection. So this led to the loss of trust with British and rout of the Hyderabad army. This was the last battle fought together by all Maratha warlords.
Battle of Malpura
Second Anglo Maratha War (1803 - 1805)
Battle of Delhi, 1803
The Battle of Delhi took place on 11 September 1803 during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, between British troops under General Lake, and Marathas of Scindia's army under French General Louis Bourquin. The battle was fought at Patparganj, right across Yamuna River from Humayun's Tomb, also giving the battle its local name.
The Marathas occupied a strong position with the Jumna in their rear, and Lake, feigning a retreat, drew them from their lines, and then turning upon them drove them with the bayonet into the river, inflicting more losses upon them. The city of Delhi surrendered three days later. A monument was later erected at the site in Patparganj, marked out by a surrounding ditch, commemorating Cornet Sanguine and British soldiers who fell during the battle.
Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar defeated the British army, led by Colonel Fawcett, at Kunch, in Bundelkhand. On 8 June 1804, the Governor General, in a letter to Lord Lake, wrote that the defeat caused a great insult to the British prestige in India. On 8 July 1804, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar defeated the army of Colonel Manson and Leukan at Mukundare and Kota. Bapuji Scindia surrendered before Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar. From June till September 1804, he defeated the British at different battles. On 8 October 1804, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar attacked Delhi to free Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, who was imprisoned by the British. He attacked the army of Colonel Actorloni and Berne. The battle lasted for a week, but Yashwantrao Holkar could not succeed as Lord Lake came to help Colonel Actorloni.
On 16 November 1804, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar reached Deeg by defeating the army of Major Frazer. After the death of Major Frazer, Manson took the charge of the British army. In Farrukhabad, Lord Lake was a mute spectator, watching Yashwantrao Holkar proceeding towards Deeg; he didn't attack Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar. Lord Lake attacked Deeg on 13 December 1804 (see- Battle of Bharatpur); the army of Holkar and Jat resisted successfully and reached the Bharatpur Durg. Lord Lake attacked Bharatpur on 3 January 1805, along with General Manson, Colonel Marey, Colonel Don, Colonel Berne, Major General Jones, General Smith, Colonel Jetland, Setan, and others. However, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar had to leave Bharatpur as the Jat King Ranjit Singh of Bharatpur defeated the British army on 17 April 1805.
Covering a large part of the subcontinent, the Maratha Empire kept the British forces at bay during the 18th century, until dissension between the Peshwas and their sardars (army commanders) saw a gradual downfall of the empire with the eventual defeat in the third Anglo-Maratha war the First Anglo-Maratha War ended in a stalemate with both sides signing the treaty of Salbai. This led to a period of relative peace between the two powers till the decisive second Anglo-Maratha war took place.
Third Anglo-Maratha War
The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818) was the final and decisive conflict between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire in India. The war left the Company in control of most of India. It began with an invasion of Maratha territory by 110,400 British East India Company troops, the largest such British controlled force amassed in India. The troops were led by the Governor General Hastings and he was supported by a force under General Thomas Hislop. It resulted in the formal end of the Maratha empire and the firm establishment of the British East India Company in almost the entire Indian subcontinent.
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