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I, ETTER WI.
Ertract of a Letter from Pondicherry, - received by the Margaret.
September 23d, 1809.
You must have heard, by more direct communications, that more than fourfifths of the Company's officers, have been removed from their respective battalions, on their refusal to subscribe to a test submitted to them by Government. Their places have been supplied by King's officers. The test merely inferred, “that the officers (required to sign it) should obey the orders and sup“ port the authority of the Governor in “ Council of Fort St. George,” no more than is expressed or implied in the commission of every officer. But the letter inclosing the test, and which was ordered to be read to the individual officers, who were required to receive it, contained insinuations, so pointed against the whole body of the army, that a general repugnance to subscribe it was felt and expressed, not only by those who were desired to subscribe the test, but by those appointed to administer it. The consequences you already know. The recusant officers have been allowed to proceed to different parts of the coast. Many are at this place, and others at Sadras, and other places on the same line. The Sepoys have expressed, universally, a dislike to their new officers, and some even have refused to act until their former officers be restored. An order of Government has been published, signifying to the Native troops, that their former commandants and subaltern officers, had been removed for disobedience or disaffection to the Government, but this did not seem to lessen the dislike of the troops to the measure. It was, however, persisted in, and carried into effect at Trichinopoly, Bangalore, Nundydroog, Travancore, and the whole centre division of the army. An attempt was also made to carry it into effect at Seringapatam, but it wholly failed, and terminated in the possession of the fortress by the officers, who were hostile to that measure. The King's troops were dismissed from the garrison ; and the place was promptly occupied, and held by the insurgents. It was shortly afterwards invested by the troops of Mysore, and a detachment of King's troops, and communication of course impeded with the surrounding country. Two battalions from Chittledroog endeavored to relieve it in the middle of August; but were in part cut off with the loss of nearly 200 men, and two officers killed and wounded: the rear guard particularly suffered from the attack of the European and Mysore cavalry; they are reported to have made but a slight resistance. Early in the last month, Colonel Close was sent to Hydrabad by the orders of Government, to take the command, and introduce the test at that station; but, after ineffectual attempts to take the charge, and administer the test, was obliged to withdraw. He addressed both officers and the Native troops in their turn, but was equally unsuccessful in both addresses; he was armed with full powers to negociate with the Native officers and men, to withdraw them, if practicable, from the influence of their officers, by all the temptations in the hands of authority to offer. But all apparently was vain, though it is said that the acts of subordinate agents were afterwards more successful, both here, and in other places. So much alarm, of late, has been excited by . these practices, that a renewal of the fatal
scene, which happened at Vellore, has been every where dreaded. This, with other causes, and the expected arrival of Lord Minto, according to the proclamation of his Lordship at the end of July, induced the subsidiary force at Hydrabad, to send their submission to Madras, to be presented to Lord Minto, when he should arrive, and to express a readiness on the part of the officers, to sign the required test. This example operated on the minds of the officers of the garrison of Seringapatam, who have also surrendered at discretion, and are marched into the interior, though the Sepoys had loudly clamoured for revenge for their late suffering, and “ demanded to die at their posts in the defence of their officers.” The officers at Masulipatam have also submitted, having first prevailed on the men, though the task was not easy, to accept the amnesty proclaimed by Government. Since these acts have occurred, there has been an awful pause, and no one can conjecture what will be the ultimate event. This silence keeps many tender sentiments alive, in respect to the parties involved in these melancholy transactions. It is happy, however, that Lord Minto is at the Presidency M
of Madras, where he arrived about a fortnight ago; and it is hoped, that his presence may be serviceable in healing the wounds, which the unaccountable severity of precedng acts had unfortunately opened. Heaven prosper so charitable an endeavour ! .
Though the preceding letters afford a full and circumstantial account of many important events, of which the public hitherto were but imperfectly informed, it is a matter of regret that some particulars are yet wanting, to render the detail complete. We are still without accounts of the actual loss of officers and men in the unhappy occurrence at Seringapatam, except the short order, published by Government on the 18th of August, shall be considered in such a light. We are also but slightly advised of the immediate means that led to the surrender of the disaffected corps at the last-mentioned station; but the fact seems to be indisputable. What is even more to be lamented, we have no other than an accidental rumour of a general submission and amnesty, with an exception, or extension, to three or four individuals, whose cases, it is said, are reserved