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Lt. Col. James Welsh:

Description of Seringapatam

[January 1803 - description published 1830]

"Seringapatam is formed upon the angle of an island, between the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers, where it's [sic] fort rises to astonish the beholders, by a display of labour and art, without much science; the works on the land side being enormous and commanding, while those towards the river are all ill chosen and deficient; knowing that river to be, as at certain seasons it turned out, perfectly fordable. The fort is of great extent, encompassed by two entire walls, and two deep and formidable ditches; with many good bastions and several commanding cavaliers, of which the natives of India are exceedingly fond, and the gates, as usual, in the East, covered by numerous extra works. The principal fault appeared to us, to be it's [sic] approaching too near to the bank of the river, from whence alone there was a chance of breaching; and from the extent of the interior, and nature of the ground, it was at one time proposed to our government by Colonel Caldwell, an able engineer, to cut off the part so exposed, and erect new works, half a mile in it's [sic] rear, at an expense of several lacs of pagodas. This alteration, ably executed, would, in our hands, render it impregnable; but in the present state of affairs in the East, no works are necessary to insure the english dominion. A mild and just exercise of authority is the foundation, the affection and fidelity of a numerous and well-disciplined army, the ramparts, and their bayonets, the parapets, through which, while they continue unimpaired, no enemy has power to penetrate. Tippoo had a beautiful Palace inside, and there was a Mosque of uncommon elegance, with high minarets,near the Bangalore gate, from whence the whole surrounding country could be distinctly seen.

On the same island, three miles to the eastward, was the Laul Baugh, a lovely garden, containing a splendid Palace in the eastern style, and the celebrated Mosque and tomb of black granite, in which are deposited the remains of Hyder Ally, the Bahauder, and his son Tippoo, the Sultaun of Mysore, very richly decorated with satin and kinkaubs, from the Prophet's tomb at Mecca, and flowers daily strewed all over the floor. Several Moorish Priests and devotees reside near, paid by our government. Over the outer door of the sepulchre are certain Persian distiches, embossed in granite, with a verse by Tippoo himself over the interior. English guards were placed at the entrances, to protect the tombs from pollution, and the attendants from insult; in short, every thing in this solemn spot, bearing a semblance of respect for a departed friend, must tend to raise the English Government in the estimation of every native of any sense or discrimination in the country.

The Shahganjam Pett, on the other side of the island, is a very large and respectable town, containing a rich and numerous population; but from the lowness of it's [sic] situation, and the proximity of the river, it is extremely unhealthy. The Dowlut Baugh, in another direction, about a mile from the fort, is a very neat and well cultivated garden, with a Palace of uncommon lightness and beauty, close to the river, and in which the Great Captain of the age then resided [ie. Colonel Arthur Wellesley]. One of the halls was adorned with native representations of Baillie's defeat, with every exaggeration to the prejudice of the Europeans; which paintings, being somewhat impaired, the General, it was said, paid a large sum for their renovation: at all events, when I saw them, they were entire and perfect. Before I take leave of Seringapatam, I must mention that it is a most unhealthy spot, and since it came into our possession, has been the grave of thousands. Tippoo was, indeed, so well convinced of this, that, until driven to seek shelter under it's [sic] walls, the troops composing it's [sic] garrison were always quartered at some distance outside, and only the men sufficient for it's [sic] protection, kept at a time on the island..."

Based upon James Welsh's observations at Seringapatam in January 1803 (with rank of Captain), and again in April 1812, when he was stationed there in command of the 1st Battalion 3rd Regiment Madras Native Infantry (with rank of Major).

Welsh, James. Military Reminiscences: extracted from a journal of nearly forty years' active service in the East Indies. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1830 pp. 147-149.