23 September, 1803

In charge of a British and sepoy army of some 13,500 men, General Arthur Wellesley took on a major Indian force at least three times the size of his own at Assaye.

The army of the princes of Scindia and Berar was drawn up between the Kaitna and Juah rivers - a position the leaders thought would force the British to attack them across the Kaitna.

Wellesley, however, found a nearby ford and crossed the river near the village of Assaye and moved against the enemy's left flank. The move was not without its dangers and only a strong counterattack by the British cavalry forced the elite Mahratta cavalry away.

The well-trained Scindian infantry repositioned themselves quickly to cover the new threat and expert handling by a German soldier of fortune called Pohlman allowed the artillery to do likewise.

Against fierce resistance and with growing numbers of casualties, Wellesley led his men on, captured the enemy cannons and pushed the Scindian troops backwards.

The village of Assaye itself was a tough defensive nut to crack and, adding to Wellesley's difficulties, another Mahratta cavalry attack had to be seen off by the British cavalry. With the enemy horse dealt with, the British then turned their attention to the infantry and scattered several columns.

Wellesley now launched a major assault and broke the Scindians, who found themselves with their backs to the Juah river. By early evening, the princes were in retreat and left behind some 6000 casualties.

The British had suffered 1600 killed and wounded.


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