Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/282

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Lawrence
Lawrence
276

foiled an attempted French surprise of Cuddalore during the temporary absence of the British naval squadron under Admiral Thomas Griffin [q. v.] A feint of withdrawal led the French to try a midnight escalade, when an unexpected fire of artillery and small arms sent them back precipitately to Pondicherry. In August arrived Admiral Edward Boscawen [q. v.], with a fleet carrying a large force of marines, and a commission to command in chief by land as well as sea. Boscawen sent Lawrence to attack Ariancopang, a small French post close to Pondicherry, where he was made prisoner by a French cavalry patrol, was carried into Pondicherry, and there detained during the unsuccessful siege by Boscawen, and until the news of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle led to a cessation of hostilities and the restoration to the English of the city of Madras. In 1749 Lawrence commanded at the capture of Devicota, in Tanjore. Clive served under him as a lieutenant of foot on this occasion, and the friendship then commenced lasted through life. The year after Lawrence was sent with six hundred Europeans to the camp of Nazir Jung, successor of the great Nizam al Mulk as ruler of the Deccan, to treat with him in the interests of the company; but, disgusted with the treatment of his troops, he marched them back to Fort St. David, of which place he was made civil governor as well as military commandant. He appears to have had much trouble with his officers at this time (cf. Parl. Hist. xv. 260 et seq.) Lawrence returned to England on private affairs in October 1750.

Upon his return to Fort St. David, 13 March 1752, Lawrence found Olive at the head of a force destined for the relief of Prichinopoly, the last refuge of Mohammed Ali, the nabob of Arcot, who was there besieged by Chunda Sahib and his French allies. Lawrence, as senior officer, assumed the command, but with sound sense and in a manly spirit he wrote to the Madras government that Olive's successes were not due to luck but to good judgment (Malcolm, Life of Clive, i. 103). The English expedition was everywhere successful, and the operations concluded with the surrender of Chunda Sahib (who was treacherously put to death by the Mahrattas) and the surrender, on 3 June 1752, on the island of Seringham, opposite Trichinopoly, of the French beleaguering force under M. Law, when eight hundred Europeans, including thirty-five commissioned officers, and two thousand trained sepoys laid down their arms. It was one of the heaviest blows yet struck at Dupleix's policy. After the capture of Volconda and Trevadi, Lawrence placed garrisons in Trevadi and Trichinopoly, where he left Captain John Dalton (1726–1811) [q. v.] in command, and returned to Fort St. David. Next month the French, having received reinforcements, were again in the field, and on 26 Aug. 1752 were defeated by Lawrence, with an inferior force, at Bahur (Behoor). As usual, the brunt of the fighting fell to the Europeans on both sides, and the action is remembered as one of the few on record where bayonets were fairly crossed. The English grenadiers broke the ranks of the French, who in their heavy loss reckoned, it is said, over one hundred casualties from bayonet-thrusts alone (Hist. of the Madras European Regiment, pp. 77-8). Clive was afterwards employed by Lawrence in the reduction of Covelong and Chingleput, services he successfully accomplished [see Clive, Robert]. In January 1753 the French, undaunted by their reverses, were once more in the field with five hundred Europeans, sixty European cavalry, two thousand trained sepoys, and a fine body of four thousand Mahratta horse, under Morari Rao, who had previously fought on the side of the English, iawrence's whole available force had to be employed in convoying supplies to Trevadi, and the march was a continuous running fight with the Mahratta horsemen, who displayed great gallantry. Morari Rao was shot by an English grenadier, whose comrade he had just cut down. Out of respect to the memory of a brave man, Lawrence placed the body of the Mahratta chieftain in his own palankeen, and sent it in with a flag of truce, and a request that the palankeen be returned. The latter, however, was taken to Pondicherry and paraded through the streets to show the natives that the English were defeated and Lawrence killed. Finding the position taken up by the French close to Trevadi too strong for attack as intended, Lawrence was considering the advisability of carrying the war into other quarters, when, on 20 April, news reached him from Dalton at Trichinopoly of the straits to which he was reduced. Lawrence at once started for Trichinopoly, and entered that place after a most arduous march, during which he lost many men by the heat, on 6 May (N.S.) 1753. From that time until 11 Oct. 1754 he was constantly engaged in defending the place, his most important engagements during the period being the battles of Golden Rock, 26 Jan. 1753, and of Sugarloaf Rock, 21 Sept. 1753 (Mill, iii. 135). Lawrence appears to have advocated the cession of the place in accordance with treaty arrangements, but was overruled by the Madras authorities, who, like the French, attached