Capt James Stewart died Karla,Maharashtra State, India 04 Jan 1779 [First Anglo-Mahra

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by jato37, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. jato37

    jato37 New Member

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    Gentlemen:

    I have been investigating one Capt James Stewart who died at Karla, India on 04 Jan 1779, for the last two years.

    He belonged to an Advance Unit which was commanded by a Col. Charles Egerton against the Maharattas during the First Maharatta War. He was a very well liked soldier who earned the respect of not only the Indian sepoys who were with him but also his enemies who thought the world of him and, indeed, thought that they could never win while he was around!! While reconnoitering for his advance party he was shot in the back of left shoulder 04 Jan 1779 at about 1400 hrs. He died about 2 hours later and was buried at Vadegaon which site I visited earlier this year. I found his grave there which I found covered by a white grave cloth with a red embroidered border, four crosses and four candles one at each corner. Outside the Indian Army had put up a small marble plaque which stated that he had been buried there and was the first commanding officer of the Guards and the Grenadiers. He was apparently called “Ishtur Phakre” which in the local lingo means ”Stewart the Brave”. The tradition of honouring him seems to be carrying on to this day which would be 230 years after his death.

    I have made extensive enquiries with the Archives at the British Library, National Archives of India, Historical Division of the Indian Army and Black Watch Regiment and Alphabetical listing of the officers of the Bombay,Bengal and Madras Army from 1760 – 1837 by Dodwell and Miles [1838]. I have not been able to get any idea of the Captain’s antecedents. I have however, been trying to check the newspapers of the time and came across one reference in the London Gazette dated Aug 7, 1759 stemming from the Whitehall,London, where it states that the “King was pleased to add four companies to the Regiment of Light Infantry or Royal Volunteers commanded by Colonel Craufurd and to appoint the following gentlemen to command the same, viz

    St. John Jeffreys, Temple West, Charles Egerton, William Forrester “esqs “Captains”.

    This is followed by the statement:

    “The King is also pleased to appoint the following Gentlemen to be officers in the said Regiment”: of the 18 names mentioned one is that of “James Stewart” and is marked as “Gentlemen to be First Lieutenants.”

    The commonality of the names “James Stewart” posed a difficulty and sorting out who is who, became a really big problem and had to take many other factors into account as I have done in this instance. My presumption that this is indeed the Captain concerned is by the fact of association of names of Col. Charles Egerton [ then Capt Charles Egerton] in the same army group as Lt. James Stewart [who about 20 years later had already become a Captain.]. A passing reference is made to his being ADC to the then Governor of Bombay William Hornby and having been instrumental in the raising of the [?8/5th Bombay Sepoy Regiment]what now is the Rajputana Rifles of the Indian Army and the Grenadier Guards also of the Indian Army which has been stated to have been the first Grenadier battalion in the British Armed Forces even before the British Grenadier Guards. He also did the reconnoitering for the British Forces before the campaign.

    He also was associated with Patrick Craufurd Bruce who was either a banker or a slop seller who in 1776 noted that he had not received any payment from the Capt Stewart’s battalion. Bruce was later associated with Vere, Bruce and Co somewhat later in the 1800s.

    The reasons I write this letter are:

    1: The lack of any information on the captain appears to be peculiar. Apparently he belonged to the King’s Army, the Royal Volunteers[King's Light Infantry] which seems to have been disbanded in 1763.at the end of the 7years War in Europe.and reformed some 6years later as the 85th Bucks Volunteers I am unable to trace the passage of the Royal Volunteers apparently also known as the King’s Light Infantry which may perhaps provide a clue to the passage of Capt through the British Armed Services before he came to India.

    2: I have come across three papers marked 01 Feb , 1779, 25 Feb. 1779 and 03 May 1779 marked Top Secret from the Governor of Bombay to the Select Committee at Calcutta announcing the movement of the Guards towards Poona, the death of Capt. James Stewart and the describing the manner of death of the Capt. While I understand that these communications were usually marked Top Secret for the time, why was there this secrecy about the Captain? Did he belong to the British Intelligence of that time or was the death recorded as Secret because he was a British Officer. ?

    3: I have not been able to contact either the Guards or the Grenadiers or even the Rajputana Rifles.

    I would be grateful if I may have some input on these known facts which I have gleaned from the available historical records

    Thank you.

    John A.Thomas
     
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  3. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Try William Hamilton-Dalrymple.

    William Dalrymple, FRSL FRAS is an award winning historian and travel writer, as well as a distinguished broadcaster, critic, art historian, foreign correspondent and founder and co-director of Asia's largest literary festival.

    Dalrymple was born William Hamilton-Dalrymple, the son of Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple, 10th baronet, a cousin of Virginia Woolf. He was educated at Ampleforth College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was first a history exhibitioner and then senior history scholar.

    Dalrymple has written and presented the six part television series Stones of the Raj (Channel 4, August 1997),the three part Indian Journeys (BBC, August 2002) and Sufi Soul (Channel 4, Nov 2005).

    He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, the New Statesman and The New Yorker.

    I believe he lives in Delhi, India.

    He has written many books on the Raj.

    With the details above, it would be easier to contact him by checking back from any of the connections.
     
  5. jato37

    jato37 New Member

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    I have sent him a personal letter to which he replied promptly saying that he was not in that area of work. I am posting this on this forum hoping that someone from the Guards, the Grenadiers or the Rajputana Rifles be able to help me. Surely some one must be knowing something about Capt Stewart who raised these units in ??1775!!
    Thank you so much for your suggestion.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Guards, the Grenadiers or the Rajputana Rifles are not units.

    They are Regiments having about 19 or so Battalions (units).

    They are not entirely the same as it were in the colonial times. They could have been other units and later amalgamated to some other lot.

    I recommend you could write to:

    1. Commandant, Guards Regimental Centre, Kamptee, Maharastra, India.
    2. Commandant, Grenadiers Regimental Centre, Jabalpur, India.
    3. Commandant, Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre, Delhi Cantt, India.

    You could also approach the Adjutant General's Branch, Historical Section, Army HQ, New Delhi 110011.
     
  7. jato37

    jato37 New Member

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    Thank you so much for your reply. I am really stuck and thought this forum would sort a part of my problem out. I have referred to the book the title of which you have so kindly given the title of "Battles of the honourable East India Company: making of the Raj By M. S. Naravane" which deals with the fighting and demise of Capt Stewart but nothing earlier that. If I could contact anyone knowledgeable enough about the history of the Guards, the Grenadiers or the Rajputana Rifles that may sort out the problem. I should like to know abut his passage in the Hon. East India Company forces as a King's officer, from where he came from, and how he was given the task of raising [ what came to be ] such crack troops later and how he was elected to become the ADC to the Bombay Presidency Gov. Hornby which must have been a sensitive post at that time!!I have extensively gone through the British Library Archives and have have tapped all resources such as the National Archives, India, the Black Watch Regiment and have now started on the Maharashtra State Archives at Bombay.
     
  8. jato37

    jato37 New Member

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    Now I have addresses and I am thrilled and thankful to you.!! I will report back, should I have a reply from these people.
     
  9. jato37

    jato37 New Member

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    I have tried the Adjutant General's Branch Historical Section, Army HQ, New Delhi 110011. with no luck.
     
  10. jato37

    jato37 New Member

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    Capt James Stewart

    Gentlemen:
    I have written to the Commandants of the Rajputana Rifles,the Guards, The Grenadiers at the addresses that you had so kindly given, on 14 Feb 2011. I have had no reply from any of these, unfortunately. I shall wait for another 4 weeks or so. Since the letters were sent by Speed Post, I am sure they have reached.
    Meanwhile I read in the Times of India of 16 April 2011 [Bangalore Mirror] that Bipasha Basu is acting with Josh Harnett of "Pearl Harbour"fame in a movie called "Singularity" directed by Roland Joffe which is a very very loosely woven tale based on the Capt James Stewart's love story with a Maratha warrior [female] Tulaja Naik portrayed by Bipasha Basu. Other actors are: Abhay Deol, Milind Gunaji and Atul Kulkarni.
    I should like any further thoughts on Capt James Stewart. Thank you
     

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