Timeline History

Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan, also known as The Tiger of Mysore (November 20, 1750, Devanahalli May 4, 1799, Srirangapatnam), was the first son of Haider Ali by his second wife, Fatima or Fakr-un-nissa. He ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from the time of his father's death in 1782 until his own demise in 1799. Tipu was a learned man and an able soldier. He was reputed to be a good poet. He was also a strongly religious man. He built a church, the first in Mysore, at the request of the French. He was a noted linguist, patriot and a freedom fighter.
He helped his father Haider Ali defeat the British in the Second Mysore War, and negotiated the Treaty of Mangalore with them. However, he was defeated in the Third Anglo-Mysore War and in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War by the combined forces of Britain and of Mysore's neighbours. Tipu Sultan died defending his capital Srirangapatnam (frequently anglicized to Seringapatam), on May 4, 1799.
Tipu was born at Devanahalli, in present-day Kolar District, some 45 miles east of Bangalore. The exact date of his birth is not known; various sources claim various dates between 1749 and 1753. According to one widely accepted dating, he was born on Nov 20, 1750 (Friday, 20th Zil-Hijja, 1163 AH). His father, Haider Ali, was the de-facto ruler of Mysore. His mother, Fakr-un-nissa (also called Fatima), was a daughter of Muin-ud-din, governor of the fort of Cuddapah.
His army largely consisted of Hindus Hindus like Poornia, Naniah, Kumaraswamy and Krishna Rao (commander-in-chief of Tipu's army) served under him and held high positions in the administration. In short, Tipu was an enlightened ruler, the sheet-anchor of whose state policy was the well-being of all his subjects irrespective of caste, creed or class. He took his stand on the bedrock of humanity, regarding all his subjects as equal citizens worthy to live in peace, harmony and concord.
There are several articles available that paint Tipu Sultan as a religious persecutor of Hindus. However, Tipu's Prime Minister and the Commander of his army were Hindus, and there is credible evidence such as grant deeds and correspondence between his court and temples, of his having donated jewellery and deeded land grants to several temples.
When the monastery of the Sringeri Shankaracharya was pillaged by Maratha soldiers in 1791-92, the incumbent Shankaracharya petitioned Tipu for help. A series of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which are correspondence between Tipu Sultan's court and the Sringeri Shankaracharya exist, documenting this. One of the letters even has a sanskrit quote about evildoers committing crimes with a smile, only weeping when they are brought to justice for their crimes.
A book by Prof. Irfan Habib, an eminent historian, researches this extensively and this is commented although not corroborated in an article in Tattvaloka, the magazine published by the Sringeri monastery.

Early Military Career

He was instructed in military tactics by French officers in the employment of his father, Hyder Ali (also transliterated as Haider Ali). He was aged 15 when he accompanied his father Hyder Ali to war against the British in the First Mysore War in 1766. He commanded a corps of cavalry in the invasion of the Carnatic in 1767, aged 16, and he distinguished himself in the First Anglo-Maratha War of 17751779.

Second Mysore War

He was put at the head of a large body of troops in the Second Mysore War, a few years later, and defeated Braithwaite on the banks of the Kollidam in February 1782. Although the British were defeated this time, Tipu Sultan became convinced that the British were a new kind of threat in India. Upon becoming Sultan after his father's death in 1782, he worked to check British advances through a series of alliances. At first he attempted to secure pacts with the Marathas and Mughals.

Fourth Mysore War

Napoleon's landing in Egypt in 1798 was intended to threaten India, and Mysore was a key to that next step. Although Horatio Nelson crushed Napoleon's ambitions at the Battle of the Nile, three armies - one from Bombay, and two British (one of which included Arthur Wellesley the future 1st Duke of Wellington) - nevertheless marched into Mysore in 1799 and besieged the capital, Srirangapatnam in the Fourth Mysore War. On May 4, 1799, the armies broke through the defending walls and Tipu Sultan was killed in the fighting.

Rocket Artillery in War

A military tactic developed by Tipu Sultan and his father, Hyder Ali was the use of mass attacks with rocket brigades on infantry formations. Tipu wrote a military manual called Fathul Mujahidin in which 200 rocket men were prescribed to each Mysorean 'cushoon'. (Mysore had 16 to 24 cushoons of infantry). The areas of town where rockets and fireworks were manufactured were known as Taramandal Pet (roughly translated as "Galaxy Bazaar").
The rocket men were trained to launch their rockets at an angle calculated from the diameter of the cylinder and the distance of the target. In addition, wheeled rocket launchers capable of launching five to ten rockets almost simultaneously were used in war. Rockets could be of various sizes, but usually consisted of a tube of soft hammered iron about 8" long and 1 - 3" diameter, closed at one end and strapped to a shaft of bamboo about 4ft. long. The iron tube acted as a combustion chamber and contained well packed black powder propellant. A rocket carrying about one pound of powder could travel almost 1,000 yards. In contrast, rockets in Europe not being iron cased, could not take large chamber pressures and as a consequence, were not capable of reaching distances anywhere near as great.
On 2nd May, 1799, during the siege of Srirangapatnam, a shot struck a magazine of rockets within the fort at Seringapatam causing it to explode and sent a towering cloud of black smoke, with cascades of exploding white light, rising up from the battlements. After the fall of Srirangapatnam, 600 launchers, 700 serviceable rockets and 9,000 empty rockets were found. Some of the rockets had iron points or steel blades bound to the bamboo, while some had pierced cylinders, to allow them to act like incendiaries. By attatching these blades to rockets they became very unstable towards the end of their flight causing the blades to spin around like flying scythes, cutting down all it their path.
Rockets were also used for ceremonial purposes. When the Jacobin Club of Mysore sent a delegation to Tipu, 500 rockets were launched as part of the gun salute.
A study of similar Maratha rockets (at the Battle of Panipat (1761), the British saw salvos of up to 2,000 fired simultaneously against them) at the Royal Woolwich Arsenal led to the publication of A Concise Account of the Origin and Progress of the Rocket System in 1804 by William Congreve, son of the arsenal's commandant. Congreve rockets find mention in the Star Spangled Banner.


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