First Anglo-Maratha War

The First Anglo-Maratha War (1775–1782) was the first of three Anglo-Maratha Wars fought between the British East India Company and Maratha Empire in India. The war began with the Treaty of Surat and ended with the Treaty of Salbai. The war was fought in between Surat and Pune Kingdom saw British defeat and restoration of positions of both the parties before the war. Warren Hastings, the first President and Governor-General of East India Company's provinces in India decided not to attack Poona directly.

First Anglo-Maratha War
Part of the Anglo-Maratha Wars

A mural depicting the British surrender during the First Anglo-Maratha War. The mural is a part of the Victory Memorial (Vijay Stambh) located at Vadgaon Maval (Off NH-4, Malinagar, Vadgaon Maval, Pune).

Maratha victory[1][2][3][4]

Maratha Empire
Commanders and leaders

93,000 troops total[3][8]

23 ships[8]

Around 146,000 troops total[3][8]

14 ships[8]


After the death of Madhavrao Peshwa in 1772, his brother Narayanrao became peshwa (prime minister) of the Maratha Empire. Narayanrao was murdered by his palace guards in August 1773, and his uncle Raghunathrao (Raghoba) became Peshwa. However, Narayanrao's wife, Gangabai, gave birth to a posthumous son, who was the legal heir to the throne. The newborn infant was named 'Sawai' Madhavrao (Sawai means "One and a Quarter"). Twelve Maratha chiefs, known as the Baarbhai [11] and led by Nana Phadnavis, directed an effort to install the infant as the new Peshwa and to rule in his name as regents.

Raghunathrao, unwilling to give up his position of power, sought help from the British at Bombay and signed the Treaty of Surat on 6 March 1775. According to the treaty, Raghunathrao ceded the territories of Salsette and Bassein (Vasai) to the British, along with part of the revenues from Surat and Bharuch districts. In return, the British promised to provide Raghunathrao with 2,500 soldiers.

The British Calcutta Council condemned the Treaty of Surat, sending Colonel Upton to Pune to annul it and make a new treaty with the regency. The Treaty of Purandhar (1 March 1776) annulled that of Surat, Raghunathrao was pensioned and his cause abandoned, but the revenues of Salsette and Broach districts were retained by the British. The Bombay government rejected this new treaty and gave refuge to Raghunathrao. In 1777, Nana Phadnavis violated his treaty with the Calcutta Council by granting the French a port on the West coast. The English retaliated by sending a force towards Pune.

Initial stage and Treaty of Purandar (1775–1776)

British troops under the command of Colonel Keating, left Surat on 15 March 1775, for Pune. But they were checked by Haripant Phadke at Adas and were totally defeated on 18 May 1775.[12] Casualties for Keating's force, accompanied by Raghunathrao, included 96 killed. The Marathas casualties in the Battle of Adas (Gujarat) included 150 killed.[9]:53–56

Warren Hastings estimated that direct actions against Pune would be detrimental. Therefore, the Supreme Council of Bengal condemned the Treaty of Surat, sending Colonel Upton to Pune to annul it and make a new treaty with the regency. An agreement between Upton and the ministers of Pune called Treaty of Purandar was signed on 1 March 1776.

The Treaty of Purandhar (1 March 1776) annulled that of Surat, Raghunath Rao was pensioned and his cause abandoned, but the revenues of Salsette and Broach districts were retained by the British.

Battle of Wadgaon

Following a treaty between France and the Poona Government in 1776, the Bombay Government decided to invade and reinstate Raghoba. They sent a force under Col. Egerton reached Khopoli and made its way through the Western Ghats at Bhor Ghat and onwards toward Karla, which was reached on 4 January 1779 while under Maratha attacks. Finally the British were forced to retreat back to Wadgaon, but were soon surrounded. The British surrendered[13] and were forced to sign the Treaty of Wadgaon on 16 January 1779, a victory for the Marathas.[9]:56–58

Reinforcements from northern India, commanded by Colonel (later General) Thomas Wyndham Goddard, arrived too late to save the Bombay force. The British Governor-General in Bengal, Warren Hastings, rejected the treaty on the grounds that the Bombay officials had no legal power to sign it, and ordered Goddard to secure British interests in the area.

Goddard with 6,000 troops stormed Bhadra Fort and captured Ahmedabad on 15 February 1779. There was a garrison of 6,000 Arab and Sindhi infantry and 2,000 horses. Losses in the fight totalled 108, including two British.[14][15][16] Goddard also captured Bassein on 11 December 1780. Another Bengal detachment led by Captain Popham and assisted by the Rana of Gohad, captured Gwalior on 4 August 1780, before Mahadji Scindia could make preparations. Skirmishes took place between Mahadji Scindia and General Goddard in Gujarat, but indecisively. Hastings sent yet another force to harass Mahadji Shinde, commanded by Major Camac.[lower-alpha 1]

Central India and the Deccan

A Vijay Stambh (Victory Pillar) erected to commemorate Maratha victory over British. The pillar is located at Vadgaon/Wadgaon Maval, close to the city of Pune, India
An information plaque describing the Maratha victory over British. The plaque is located at Vadgaon/Wadgaon Maval, close to the city of Pune, India

After capturing Bassein, Goddard marched towards Pune. But he was routed in the Battle of Bhor Ghat in April 1781 by Parshurambha, Haripant Phadke and Tukoji Holkar.[8][10]

In central India, Mahadji stationed himself at Malwa to challenge Camac. Initially, Mahadji had an upper hand and British forces under Camac, being harassed and reduced, had to retreat to Hadur.[12]:20

In February 1781 the British beat Shinde to the town of Sipri,[15] but every move they made after that was shadowed by his much larger army, and their supplies were cut off, until they made a desperate night raid in late March, capturing not only supplies, but even guns and elephants.[17] Thereafter, the military threat from Shinde's forces to the British was much reduced.

The contest was equally balanced now. Where Mahadji scored a significant victory over Camac at Sironj,[9]:62 the British avenged the loss through the Battle of Durdah[18] on 24 March 1781.

Colonel Murre arrived with fresh forces in April 1781 to assist Popham and Camac. After his defeat at Sipri, Mahadji Shinde got alarmed. Therefore, Shinde proposed a new treaty between the Peshwas and the British which came to be known as “Treaty of Salbai”.

Treaty of Salbai

This treaty, known as the Treaty of Salbai, was signed on 17 May 1782, and was ratified by Hastings in June 1782 and by Nana Phadnavis in February 1783. The treaty ended the First Anglo-Maratha War, restored the status quo, and established peace between the two parties for 20 years.[9]:63

The 2013 Hollywood film titled The Lovers is based on the backdrop of this war.[19]

See also


  1. Camac (not to be confused with Carnac!) received his promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel while on this mission
  1. Barua, P. (2005). The State at War in South Asia. Studies in war, society, and the military. University of Nebraska Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-8032-1344-9. Marathas thoroughly defeated the British. Finally, under severe pressure from London, the British sought peace.
  2. Y G Bhave. Modern Hindu Trinity : Ambedkar-Hedgewar-Gandhi. Northern Book Centre. p. 10. When they were united they inflicted a crushing defeat on the English in the 1st Anglo-Maratha war and the treaty of Salbai
  3. West, Barbara A. (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Vol. M to Z. Facts On File. p. 509. ISBN 978-0-8160-7109-8. This period also coincided with the First Anglo-Maratha War, which was settled only in 1782 with a Maratha victory over the British and their local allies.
  4. Richard Ernest Dupuy, Gay M. Hammerman, Grace P. Hayes (1977). The American Revolution: A Global War. David McKay Company, Incorporated. Thereafter the Marathas defeated British-led forces.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. James C. Bradford. International Encyclopedia of Military History. Routledge. p. 867. British were compelled to restore all lands annexed from the Marathas since 1773 and renounced their connection with the would-be Peshwa, Raghunath Rao.
  6. Richard Ernest Dupuy, Gay M. Hammerman, Grace P. Hayes (1977). The American Revolution: A Global War. David McKay Company, Incorporated. p. 247. Hastings promptly repudiated the Treaty of Wadgaon and sent troops from Calcutta all the way across central India to strengthen the Bombay forces. One by one they captured Maratha cities. In May 1782 a new treaty was signed with the Marathas, the Treaty of Salbai. Although it merely restored the status quo ante bellum, this treaty gave the British twenty years of peace with the Marathas and permitted them to concentrate their efforts against the French and the forces of Mysore.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. Thorpe, Edgar; Thorpe, Showick (2011). Concise General Knowledge Manual. Pearson Education India. p. 49. ISBN 978-81-317-5512-9.
  8. Kantak, M. R. (1993). The First Anglo-Maratha War, 1774-1783: A Military Study of Major Battles. Popular Prakashan. p. 220. ISBN 978-81-7154-696-1.
  9. Naravane, M. S. (2006). Battles of the Honourable East India Company: Making of the Raj. APH Publishing. ISBN 978-81-313-0034-3.
  10. Duff, James Grant (1878). "History of the Mahrattas".
  11. Known as the Baarbhai or Barbhai Council Kulkarni, Sumitra (1995). The Satara Raj, 1818-1848: A Study in History, Administration, and Culture. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 74. ISBN 978-81-7099-581-4.
  12. Rathod, N. G. (1994). The Great Maratha Mahadaji Scindia. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons. ISBN 978-81-85431-52-9.
  13. Athale, Colonel Anil A (12 January 2018). "How a Maratha general defeated the British". Rediff News.
  14. "Bhadra Fort to turn into heritage hangout!". The Times of India. Ahmedabad. TNN. 12 June 2009. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  15. Duff, James Grant (1826). A History of the Mahrattas. London: Longman. p. 446.
  16. Beveridge, Henry (1862). A comprehensive history of India, civil, military and social. Blackie. pp. 456–466.
  17. Mill, James (1826). "Chapter 6". The History of British India. Vol. 4. London: Baldwin.
  18. Jaques, Tony (2007). Dictionary of Battles and Sieges. Vol. A–E. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 320. ISBN 978-0-313-33537-2.
  19. "Atul and Milind's The Lovers to be premiered at Cannes". The Times of India. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 2018-08-13.

Further reading

  • Beck, Sanderson. India & Southeast Asia to 1800 (2006) "Marathas and the English Company 1701–1818" online. Retrieved 1 October 2004.
  • Gordon, Stewart. Marathas, marauders, and state formation in eighteenth-century India (Oxford University Press, 1994).
  • Gordon, Stewart. "The Marathas," in New Cambridge History of India, II.4, (Cambridge U Press, 1993).
  • Seshan, Radhika. "The Maratha State: Some Preliminary Considerations." Indian Historical Review 41.1 (2014): 35–46. online
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