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Bajiraoi - An Outstanding Cavalry General

Bajiraoi - An Outstanding Cavalry General
Item Code: NAO897
Author: Col. R.d. Palsokar, M.C.
Publisher: Reliance Publishing House
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9788175102217
Pages: 264 (16 B/W Maps)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 365 gms
About The Book

Evers since he donned the robes of Peshwa in 1720 at the young age of twenty, Bajirao –Peshwa set about creating a forcce from amongest the simple, cheerful and vigrous Marathas around him. His generals came from all classes. One of them was a shepherd ; another low – caste Martha. Cast was no bar to promotion; he looked for qualities of leadership. After the death of Shivaji, the Maratha army had practically ceased to exist. He brought life into it by leading his troops personally in battle. Bajirao brough about a major change in the psyche of his mounted troops. He made full use of their mobility to charge the enemy infantry and cavalry alike and also to take on the enemy guns; and to lay sieges. This was a major departure from contemporary tactics, He was constantly on the move with his army. He never spent long periods of inaction at Pune.

His first test as a field commander came at Palkhed when he faced the strong army of the 55 –years –old Nizam, a veteran of many wars who had not known defeat in battle. He first made the Nizam chase him all over north, Mahabhartha, and finally, with his eye for ground successfully seprated the till then invincibale Nizam from his man force, cut of his rations and water supply and thus made him sign submissing treaty, thereby neutrilizing his influence for some time to come. He Humbled the Nizam a second time at Bhopal using similar tactics, With his ability to ride long distances with his troops, he reached Delhi despite the rout being barred by the armies of two of the most powerful Moghul sirdars. He created such fear in the mind of the emperor that the letter made preparations to leave Delhi.

His genrous behaviour towards his enemies acheived much for spreading and consolidating Maratha influence up to the Yamuna in north. The high –caste Brahmin that he was, fought as well as the Kshatriya, if not better.

In the wards of grant Duff, "when in the field with his troops he kept up no state and shared the privation, of the meanst horseman... Unlike most Brahmins of his times, he had both the hand to execute." Unfortunately, he passed away at the young age of 40. It is a pity that India has not produced a cavalry general of his caliber since then.

About The Author

Colonel R.D. Palsokar, MS MCD, a B.Sc. of Nagpur University, had a brilliant academic career, he was commissioned in the 4th Grendiares and was later transferred to the Brigade of the Guards with the 1st Grenadiars. He saw frontline service in Burma, Kashmir, the Naga Hills and NEFA. He won two gallentry awards 197 the Milliatry Cross and the Cheif of the Army Staff's Commendation. He passed the Defence Services Staff College Courses in 1951, and held a number of important command, Staff and instructional appointments till his transfer to the Reserve in 1969. Besides the present book, he has written twenty –six others, including eleven militiary campaigns, eight regimental histories, five biographies, one in Hindi and one in Marathi. He has contributed articles to various militiary journals and periodcals, both in India and the U.S.A. Some of his articles have been translated in almost all the major Indian languages.


I am greatly pleased to write this Foreword for Ram Palsokar's book on the First Bajirao. We are old colleagues; our associations started in the middle sixties when I was the Commandant of the Indian Millitary Academy and he the Senior Trainning Staff Officer.

After retirement R.D.P started a new career – authorship of millitary historical books, some of which I have read. It was for the encouragement and promotion of millitary studies, particularly history, I wrote to my old friend and suggested that he undertake reasearch into certain aspects of Maratha wars leading up to the Maratha Confederacy and the Anglo –Maratha Campaigns, Much has been writtten on the subject giving the British viewpoint and slant: not enough from the Indian side. This project was especially appropriate since new archives (such as the Peshwa Office records) are now available for researches and students.

In 1993, R.D.P finally agreed to take up the quest : and the present book is the result. For me this is an especially felicious occasion because though four Fellowship have so far been awarded by the Board of Trustless of my Millitary Studies Trust, this will be the first book to appear under our sponsership. It brings out new facts of Bajirao's generalship and the foundation he laid for establishing a Maratha empire, which slowly lived up to the great though shortlived Maratha Confederacy of the 18th and early 19th centuries.


During the course of my study of the biographs of Indian generals, I analysed the campaigns of Babar, Shivaji and Tipu Sultan and published my result in book form during the 1970s. I then switched on to the study of Europeon campaigns, biographs of famous Europeon generals, and next worked on some regiment histories.

In early 1984, I was asked by the All –India Radio, Pune, to give a talk on the generalship of Bajirao Peshwa. I had to do some quick reading, and discovered to my astonisment that here was an outstanding cavalry general the like of whom India had not seen for generaltions, who merits a place in history with the likes of Napoleon Rommel and von Manstein. Nepolian was 28 years old when he took same age when he brought the powerful Nizam, who had not known defeat in battle, to sign a treaty of freindship with him after the battle of Palkhad. Just as Napoleon excelled in manoeuvring his troops in such a way that he brought a superior force at the point of attack, Bajirao did the same, but in a different manner at Palkhed. He separated the Nizam from his main body, and them cut him off from his supplies.

Bajirao fully exploited the mobility of the horse and moved at great spped over long distances. His opponents could never fathom where he was heading for. He was bold and valiant, and was not afraid to attack Moghul troops even when they outnumbered him, Added to it was a keen eye for the ground; one hasty survey and he would decide if it was suitable to give battle.

I made these general observations in my talk but did not study Bajirao's tactics deeply. I again got engrossed in other millitary studies till Genral Palit prodded me to accept the Fellowhip at the Indian Defence Studies and Analysis under the provisions of his Millitary History Trust and to undertake the study of Bajirao's generalship. The result of his encouragement and guidence, including the valueable corrections he so painstakingly make in the MSS, is what I present to the reader.

I would not like to repeat my observations about Bajirao's generalship again here which I have summarised in the last chapter the Epilogue, I would like to quote the last sentence in it once again here: "It is a pity that India did not produce an outstanding cavelry general of Bajirao's calibrate after 1740 –not to the present day."


Content Page NO.
Foreword V
Preface VI
Maps XIV
Chapter 1: Theatre of Operations and The People 1
The Konkan 3
Bombay Chaul and Janjira 6
Chaul and Janjira 6
Goa and Vengurla 7
The Deccan 8
Historical Background 9
Bahamani Rule and the Five "Shahis" 9
The Advent of the Moghulls; their Different Systems 12
The Rise of the Maratha Power 13
The Armies in the Deccan 17
Chapter 2: Evolution of the Maratha Army and Navy 19
Origin of the Maratha Army 19
Early Tactics -Hit and Run; Raising of a Navy 21
The Shiledari and Bargir System; the Forts 23
Change of Tactics -Destruction of Enemy Force 24
Major Change in Tactics 26
Sambhaji -The New Ruler 28
Aurangzeb Comes to Deccan 29
Rajaram -The Beginning of Guerrvilla Warfare 30
Origin of the Maratha Confederacy; Vatans Restored 32
Tarabhai's Rule; Shahu's Release 34
Chapter 3: Re-establishment of Maratha Power 37
Tarabhai Loses at Khed, 1707 38
Chauth and Sardeshmuhi Rights 39
Balaji Vishwanath Bhat 42
Nizam ul Mulk 43
The Theory and Practices of Confederacy 44
The Rise of Maratha Influence at Delhi 46
Balaji Vishwanath Obtains Collection Rights 47
Relations with the English and the Portuguese 49
Balaji Vishwanath's Contribution to Swarajya 50
Chapter 4: Bajirao and His Contemporaries 51
Relatives and Contemporaires 53
English and Portuguese Officials 57
The Legacy -Political and Military 59
The Quality of the Cavalry and Infanitry 60
Bajirao's Strong Points 63
Bajirao's Weak Points 64
Administrative Division of Maharastra 66
Chapter 5: Strategical Narrative 69
Rajput Rullers; their Background 70
Battles of Khandwa and Balapur -June -july 1720 72
Bajirao Joins Alam Ali 74
The Rise of Nizam ul Mulk 75
Bajirao Meets the Nizam 76
Nizam Appointed Vazir 77
Deteriorating Relations 77
Naval Strenght; Bajirao Leads Troops 78
Bajirao Meets the Nizam Again 81
Nizam's Fight for Survival -Bajirao's Role 83
Battle of Fattekhelda, 30 September 1724 85
Shahmat Panah Bajirao 86
Nizam Becomes Founder of Asaf Jahi Dynasty 87
Chapter 6: The Karnatka Campaigns 89
Maratha in Gujrat and Movie 89
The Chitraduga Campaign: Nov. 1725 -May 1726 92
Maratha in Gujrat and Malwa -Continued 95
The Srirangapatna Campaign: 97
Chapter 7: Palkhed -A Victory by Stratagem 99
Preparations for Battle 100
Preliminary Skirmishes: Sinnar Area 101
Nizam's Initial Moves 103
Bajirao Heads for Aurangabad and Bashim 103
Nizam's Deliberate and Slow Moves 105
Ground and Rival Dispositions 107
The Stratagem Works 110
Nizam Sues for Peace 112
Bajirao's Tactics at Palkhed 113
Contemporary Europeon Armies -A Comparision 114
Bajirao's Cavalry -Truly Mobile 115
Bajirao's Speed of Movement - A Mystifying Factor 117
Role of Forts and Infantry 117
Relation to Strategy 119
Money,Money and Again Money 120
Chapter 8: Into Malwa and Bundelkhand 121
The Bhosles of Nagpur 122
Raja Giridhar Bahadur and Mohd, Khan Bangash 123
A Note on the Geography of Malwa 124
Chaotic Conditions in Malwa; Marathas Invited 125
Giridhar Bahadur and Daya Bahadur Killed 126
The Ujjain Siegs; December 1728 128
Comments on the Malwa Campaign 130
Bajirao Moves to Bundelkhand 130
Bundelkhand -Previous History 131
Mohammed Khan Bangesh Humbled 132
Bajirao - Third Son of Chhatrasal 133
The Division of Malwa and its Income 135
Comments on the Bundelkhand Campaign 136
Chapter 9: Battle of Dabhoi 139
The Background 140
Shahu's Campaign against Sambhaji 142
The Dadhade -Nizam Axis 142
Dadhade's Movements 143
Nizam Meets Bangesh -March 1731 143
Bajirao's Rapid Movements 144
Attempts towards Amicable Settlement 146
Battle of Dabhoi -1 April 1731 147
Bajirao's Tactics 150
Bajirao in Virtual Control in Malwa 153
The Aftermath Within 154
Treaty with the Portuguese 155
Chapter 10: A Minor Campaign -Janjira 157
The Siddies on the West Coast 158
The Angres 159
Martha Aspirations 161
Bajirao Meets Nizam - A Secret Agreement? 163
Death of Siddi Yakut 164
The Janjira Campaign 165
Overall Poor Performance 171
Chapter 11: In The Full Tide of Success 173
Affairs in the North 173
Bajirao's Mother to Varanasi 178
The Janjira Campaign -Continued 178
The Portguese Reactions 179
The End Of Siddi Sat 181
Affairs in the North -Continued 182
Bajirao Leaves for Udaipur -Jaipur 183
On to Delhi 184
The Advance on Delhi 185
Bajirao's Appreciation and Plan 187
Bajirao Elaborates His Tactics 191
The Nizam Moves North 192
Chapter 12: The Battle of Bhopal 195
Nizam Honoured; His Demands Met 195
Nizam Moves South via Bundelkhand 197
Bajirao Leaves Pune to Confront the Nizam 197
The Battleground at Bhopal 198
The Battle 200
Nizam Signs Peace Terms 205
Bajirao's Comments on the Peace Terms 206
Comments on Bajirao's Tactics 206
Chapter 13: The Battle of Vassi 208
Chimaji's Battles against the Portuguese 208
Bajirao Slighted by the Portuguesed 209
Area of Operations 209
Fall of Thane and Occupation of Sashti 210
Set -back at Vasai and in Sashti 212
Bajirao Reinforces Thane, Sashti, Daman 214
The Maratha Offensive Begins 214
Mahim Recaptured 215
Tarapur Captured 216
The Battle for Vasai 217
Maratha Magnanimity in Victory 219
Comments on the Vasai Campaign 219
Shahu's Expedition 220
Nadir Shah in Delhi 220
Bajirao's Last Campaign 221
Chapter 14: Epilogue 225
The Strategic Scene 226
An Orthodox Brahmin Turned Good Kshatriya 227
A Reconciler, not a Destroyer 228
In Malwa, Gujrat and Bundelkhand 229
Wooing the People 230
As an Administrator 231
As a National Leader 232
As a General 233
The Maratha Cavalry at its Zenith 233
Cavalry and the Forts 234
Generals from All Classes 235
Offensive Action and Surprise 235
Bajirao's Achievements 236
Biblography 239
Index 241

Sample Pages

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