Indostan.

An exotic land of untold riches. A land culturally divided by race and caste. A land of a thousand divine religions. A land of heat, disease and death.

Indostan. A land at war.

While the remnants of the Great Gurkani Empire tosses in its death throes, a myriad of warring princely states and their private armies vie for the imperial throne. Both Britain and France, served by the British East Indostan Company and La Compagnie des Indostan, respectively, have harbored invested interests in Indostan for decades, conducting relatively peaceful and lucrative enterprise with the blessings of the last of the Gurkani Emperors. But with a war in Europe brewing and the volatile state of affairs in Indostan, each has been forced to back a royal claimant and join the war. Who will triumph in the relentless heat and claim Indostan as the Jewel in the Crown...?


This blog is dedicated to a wargaming campaign set in a fictitious 18th century India, using the Sharp Practice rules. Gathered here are all of the after action reports of the games played, location and character bios, as well as information on the terrain and miniatures used. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

INTERLUDE: Madapras and the State of Indostan


Taken from the memoirs of “With Keen in Indostan” by Major Archibald Keen.
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...And so it was, after the last of the pyrate stragglers had been rounded up, and the pitiful shanty town, that was Ghoneriah, had been put to the torch, the fleet returned to Bumbay, her holds full of vile prisoners and reclaimed loot. On our return we were welcomed as heroes, and a great fanfare greeted us at the Bumbay docks, with all the Company’s people there to see us. For the next few weeks, the fleet relished in her success, alas, with the pyrate threat eradicated in Indostan, thoughts soon turned to returning her, with haste, to England.
The burning of Ghoneriah
Admiral Makepeace and I had talked at length about my transferral to the Company’s infantry regiment in Madapras, and he had prepared letters of introduction and recommendation for me; for these papers were worth more than word of mouth alone. Soldiers temporarily posted to Bumbay, along even, with a small group of Bumbay marines, were to be reassigned to Madapras; leaving by ship within the week. It gave me great pleasure to learn that Sergeant Maddox had decided to transfer to the infantry himself; declining to comment on his reasons; I pondered his decision may have been influenced by our strengthening companionship.
Bidding farewell to my good friend, Henry Makepeace, and thanking him profusely for all he had done for me, I set about arranging my affairs for my transferral to Madapras. Makepeace had left me a parting gift to remember him by, a copy of his book “A Treatise on Naval Military Tactics and the Modern Commander”; both signed and sub noted; a token I cherish still to this day. When the small Company barque finally left Bumbay, I was grateful to leave behind the likes of Wigglesworth and Maggott, both men of deplorable character and worth, saddened alike, to farewell young Midshipman Jonathon Hunt and the dependable Seaman Sprays. Perhaps our paths would cross again.
Upon our arrival in Madapras we saw, to our satisfaction, that the British flag was waving over the low line of earthworks, which constitute Fort St. Finnigan. Not far from this, near the water's edge, stood the white houses and stores of the Company's factors; and behind these, again, were the low hovels of the native town. Both Maddox and I waited our turn to land; and, taking our seat in a native boat, paddled by twelve canoe men, we started for the shore through the treacherous surf.
Madapras
For a while we stood on the shore, watching other boats, with the soldiers and baggage, coming shore; and then, being accosted by an orderly of the Company, followed him to the fortress. Here I was told that a room would be given to me, in one of the houses erected by the Company for the use of its officers; that Sgt. Maddox would be quartered in the barracks; and that, at nine o'clock in the morning, we would report for duty.
We amused ourselves by sauntering about in the native town, known as Black Town, greatly surprised by the sights and scenes which met our eyes; for in those days very little was known of Indostan, in England. I was, however, greatly disappointed. Visions of oriental splendor, of palaces and temples, of superbly dressed chiefs with bands of gorgeous retainers, had floated before my mind's eye. Instead of this I saw squalid huts; men dressed merely with a rag of cotton around them, everywhere signs of squalor and poverty.
Native Town
Madapras, however, I was told that evening by a Lieutenant Walsh in the officer’s mess, was not to be taken as a sample of Indostan. It was a mere collection of huts, which had sprung up round the English factories. When I would go to a real Indostani city, I would see a very different state of things. Walsh was happy to relay his opinion, on what awaited my time here, in Madapras. The Company's service was not a popular one. There was little proper fighting in Indostan, and neither honour, glory, nor promotion to be won. The climate was unsuited to Europeans, and few, indeed, of those who sailed from England as soldiers in the Company's service ever returned. The Company, then, were driven to all sorts of straits to keep up even the small force which they then maintained in Indostan, and their recruiting agents were, by no means, particular as to the means they employed to make up the tale of recruits.
I must have looked quite surprised at the news, for Walsh continued, "Don't you know what has been going on in this place Keen?"
"No, sir; I'm ashamed to say that I know little at all about Indostan, except that the Company have trading stations at Bumbay, here in Madapras, and Chandrapur."
"Then I will tell you about it," Walsh said, "with cigars on the verandah. It is as well that you should understand the position of affairs, in the place where you are serving. You must know, of course, that the Company holds this town of Madapras, and a few square miles of land around it, as tenants of the Nawab of Pecan, which is the name of this part of Indostan. The French have a station at Popacherry, eighty-six miles to the southwest of Madapras; this is a larger and more important town; and of course the greatest rivalry prevails between the English and French.
"The French are much more powerful than ourselves, and exercise a predominating influence throughout the Pecan. The French governor, Monsieur Complex, is a man of very great ability, and farseeing views. He has a considerable force of French soldiers at his command, and by the aid which he has given to the Nawab, upon various occasions, he has obtained a predominating influence in his councils.
Monsieur Complex and the Nawab
“You see, five years ago the French took Madapras from us with little resistance. Alas the Nawab Aloud-Din awoke quickly to the fact of the danger of allowing the French to become all-powerful, by the destruction of the English, and ordered Complex to restore the place. Complex refused the request, and so the Nawab sent his son to invest Madapras, a great and colorful host at his heel, only for the French garrison to sally out and totally defeat it. It was the first time that European and Indostani soldiers came into contest, and it shows how immense is our superiority. What the French did then opens all sorts of possibilities for the future; and it may be that either we or the French are destined to rise, from mere trading companies, to be rulers of Indostani states.
The French defeat the Indostani
"A great British fleet and an army soon arrived from England; and in turn besieged Popacherry; but the French resisted bravely, and after two months we were forced to retire, having lost many in attacks or by fever. Eventually peace was made between England and France, and by its terms Complex was forced to restore Madapras to the English. It must have wrung Complex's heart to give up the place over which they expended so much pains, and after all it didn't do away with the fighting, for it has been going on ever since; the English and French engaging as auxiliaries to rival native princes.
"Madapras isn't much of a place, now; but you should have seen it before the French had it. Our chiefs think of nothing but trade, and care nothing how squalid and miserable is the place in which they make money. The French have larger ideas. They transformed this place; cleared away that portion of the native town which surrounded the factory and fort, made wide roads, formed an esplanade, improved and strengthened the fortifications, forbade the natives to throw all their rubbish and offal on the beach; and made, in fact, a decent place of it. We hardly knew it when we came back, and whatever the Company may have thought, we were thoroughly grateful for the French occupation.
 “And so this is where we find ourselves at present, little people living here on sufferance, among a lot of princes and powers who are enemies and rivals of each other. It may be said that, for every petty kingdom in Indostan, there are at least two pretenders, very often half a dozen. So far we have not meddled much in their quarrels, but the French have been much more active that way. They always side with one or other of these pretenders, and when they get the man they support into power, of course he repays them for their assistance. In this manner they have virtually made themselves masters of the entire Septic, outside the walls of Fort Saint Daffyd and this place.
“Well, our people thought to take a leaf out of the French book, and have now found ourselves allied to one, Prince Shahi Paneer, the displaced son of the late Aloud-Din, whom once was the Nawab of the Septic. Moreover, our neighbors in the French colony, considerably stronger than we are, back the usurper Puli Sadam, the self proclaimed Nawab of the Pecan.
And from young Lieutenant Walsh, that is how I learnt of my new home, Madapras, and the perplexing state of Indostani politics.
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The above was plagiarized  heavily from "With Clive in India".

2 comments:

  1. "The above was plagiarized heavily from "With Clive in India"."

    I thought that it was familiar, that I had read it before . . . but it is a good source to crib from. I look forward to more soon.


    -- Jeff

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    Replies
    1. It is a great source of information, but I found it a very hard read Jeff.

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