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HYDER ALI BATTLE REPORT (SHOLINGHUR)

Place of Origin: LONDON

Date: 31st March, 1789

Framed: 490mm x 420mm (19 x 16 ½ inches)

Reference: 290

Status: Available

Full Description:

A rare and unusual report on the ‘Battle of Sholangur [Sholinghur]’ published by Woodman & Mutlow on 31st March 1789. This battle took place on 27th September 1781 at Sholinghur, 80 kilometres west of Chennai (Madras, south-eastern India), and saw General Eyre Coote of the East India Company defeat Hyder Ali of the Kingdom of Mysore with heavy losses.

The Battle of Sholinghur followed shortly after the Battle of Pollilur (depicted in the previous catalogue entry) but was less impactful for the East India Company both in terms of immediate casualties and in its consequences for the Second Anglo-Mysore War. After the Battle of Pollilur, Coote had advanced to the Government at Madras to express his wish to resign from command. But the new Governor Lord Macartney insisted he continue in order to relieve the city of Vellore (imminently under threat by Hyder Ali). Coote obeyed his instructions and met Hyder at Sholinghur on the road to Vellore. Hyder opened the engagement with heavy cannon fire and cavalry charges, but the surprise-element of Coote’s attack meant that the response was disorganised. Many of his cavalry troops were killed in crossfire, and ultimately Hyder was forced to retreat with heavy losses.[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 most exciting 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 and staining 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.’. This refers to Captain Innes Munro, 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 cartography 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 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] G. Kaliamurthy, The Second Anglo-Mysore war (1780-84), Mittal Publications, Delhi, 1987, p. 35.

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