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TIPU BATTLE REPORT (POLLILUR)

Place of Origin: LONDON

Date: 31st March, 1789

Framed: 530mm x 460mm (21 x 18 inches)

Reference: 289

Status: Available

Full Description:

A rare and unusual report on the “PLAN of the Attacks made upon Lt. Cl. Baillie” published by Woodman & Mutlow on 31st March 1789. This series of attacks would later come to be collectively known as the Battle of Pollilur which took place on 10th September 1780 near Conjeevaram (the present-day city of Kanchipuram in south-eastern India).

The battle represented a catastrophic defeat for the East India Company, as Lt. Colonel William Baillie’s army was crushed by the Kingdom of Mysore, led by Tipu Sultan. Baillie’s forces were outmanoeuvred by Tipu, who successfully prevented British reinforcements from reaching Baillie, and the ensuing massacre saw approximately 3,000 Company troops killed and many more (including Baillie) captured. Archival records and correspondence attest to the East India Company’s shock in the battle’s aftermath, as half a year later in a draught circular to the Committee of Secrecy of the East India Company, both the chairman and deputy chairman noted with dismay that “the severe loss sustained by the defeat and destruction of Colonel Baillie’s Detachment (…) and the future success of the Enemy, are events which have occasioned universal consternation and astonishment.”[1]

The map outlines the various phases of the battle with engravings and references in close detail (testament to Mutlow’s specialism as an engraver of maps): buildings, forestry, roads and elevated positions – their contour lines marked through careful shading – are expertly drawn throughout. Perhaps the most interesting feature are the half-shaded rectangles (units of soldiers) and dense arrowed lines which further help the viewer to follow the action of the battle. The map shows minor fold lines but is otherwise well preserved within a gold-painted frame.

As per the signature that appears just under the bottom-right of the map, this detailed engraving was published by Woodman & Mutlow (trading in London ca. 1782-93), the map itself engraved by Henry Mutlow. Henry was later succeeded by his son, James Mutlow, at 3 York Street, and their company became engravers to the King (“H. Mutlow & Son, Engravers &c to His Majesty”).[2] Under the bottom-left of the map is written “Innes Munro del.”. Captain Innes Munro was a British officer “who seems to have fought in every engagement of the Second Mysore War and later published an account of it.”[3] He has had a hand in the process of mapmaking here, “del.” standing for “delineator” and so meaning that Captain Innes Munro himself would have provided the initial outline of the map (either by tracing or even possibly by verbal description) before it was engraved by Mutlow.

Examples of Mutlow’s work can be found in various museum collections, such as an engraving of King Charles I (published ca. 1784) preserved in the Wellcome Collection.
 


[1] Archival Record of the British Library (Ref. IOR/H/153), Proposed Draught of a Circular from the Committee of Secrecy of the East India Company. 31st May 1781 in the evening from the Chairman & Deputy Chairman.

[3] John Keay, The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company, Harper Collins Publishers, London, 1991, p. 413.