Welcome to “I” in the A to Z Challenge 2017. The 1st Duke of Wellington is my theme for this year’s Challenge.
Arthur Wellesley was floundering in life after attending Eton, but then he went to a French military academy since his mother was living in Brussels. There he actually studied French and did better than expected, so his family connections helped him get a commission in the army. After a time in the Netherlands where he gained experience, as well as becoming a member of the House of Commons in Ireland, Wellesley was sent to India. Around this time he had met Kitty Pakenham, an Irish earl’s daughter. He wanted her hand in marriage, but his family deemed him unworthy.
In India, Wellesley was ordered to capture Seringapatam, where the Tipu Sultan of Mysore ruled (to help the empire by benefitting the British East India Company). Wellesley was very conscientious and made extensive plans on how to defeat the Tipu Sultan, which served him very well in defeating the Indian sultan and later served him well against Napoleon. He made improvements in hygiene and supplies, which helped his men prevail.
Seringapatem was a huge fortress and during the Battle of Seringapatam the Tipu was killed. Wellesley was promoted to Major-General after this huge defeat. Another Indian faction was placed in power, but the British really ruled. Wellesley was also named governor of the region. He made many needed improvements to the region as governor. Later, Wellesley was promoted to Brigadier-General. He fought and led a few more battles in India, namely the Battle of Assaye. During this time in India, Wellesley came into his own. He learned that an army’s drills and discipline made a difference and led to victory on the battlefield, and he developed his own leadership style. When he was finally called back to England, he was only in his 30’s and he was a different man.
A large number of articles exist today on whether the Tipu Sultan was vilified unjustly by Wellesley and the British to promote the causes of the British East India Company. Also, many articles refer to the Tipu’s Muslim versus Hindu massacres and if the Tipu was trying to protect his people as any good leader would do or if the man was truly evil. The Tipu and his subjects were very advanced in some areas and many believe he is unjustly portrayed in history.
Note: a more exciting and interesting account of the Battle of Seringapatam can be read by obtaining Bernard Cornwell’s novel, Sharpe’s Tiger. Also, the Battle of Assaye is presented by Cornwell in Sharpe’s Triumph. Richard Sharpe, Cornwell’s main character, is a commoner enlisted in the army who seems to be present in the Duke’s most famous military events. Cornwell’s books and the videos of the later series are what piqued my first interest in Wellington.
Previous A to Z Challenge 2017 posts: