Eyre Coote

Expelling the French from India

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Sir Eyre Coote ( 1726 - April 28 , 1783 ), was a British soldier.

The son of a clergyman, he was born near Limerick, Ireland , and entered the 27th regiment. He first saw active service in the Jacobite rising of 1745 , and later obtained a captaincy in the 39th regiment, the first British regiment sent to India. In 1756 a part of the regiment, then quartered at Madras (now known as Chennai ), was sent forward to join Robert Clive in his operations against Calcutta , which was reoccupied without difficulty. Coote was soon given the local rank of major for his good conduct in the surprise of the Nawab's camp. Soon afterwards came the Battle of Plassey , which would probably never have taken place but for Coote's advice at the council of war; after the defeat of the Nawab he led a detachment in pursuit of the French for 400 miles under extraordinary difficulties. His conduct won him the rank of lieutenant-colonel and the command of the 84th regiment, newly raised for Indian service, but his exertions had seriously damaged his health. In October 1759 Coote's regiment arrived to take part in the decisive struggle between French and English in the Carnatic. He took command of the forces at Madras, and in 1760 led them in the decisive victory of Wandiwash (January 22 ). After a time the remnants of Lally's forces were shut up in Pondicherry. For some reason Coote was not entrusted with the siege operations, but he cheerfully and loyally supported William Monson , who brought the siege to a successful end on January 15 , 1761 .

Soon afterwards Coote was given the command of the British East India Company 's forces in Bengal , and settled of a serious dispute between the Nawab Mir Cassim and a powerful subordinate. In 1762 he returned to England, receiving a jewelled sword of honour from the Company and other rewards for his great services. In 1771 he was made a K.B. In 1779 he returned to India as lieutenant-general commanding in chief. Following the policy of Warren Hastings , he nevertheless refused to take sides in the quarrels of the council, and made a firm stand in all matters affecting the forces. Hyder Ali 's progress in southern India called him back into the field, but it was not until June 1, 1781 , that the crushing and decisive defeat of Porto Novo struck the first heavy blow at Hyder's schemes. The battle was won by Coote against odds of five to one, and is regarded as one of the greatest feats of the British in India. It was followed up by another hard-fought battle at Pollilur (the scene of an earlier triumph of Hyder over a British force) on August 27 , in which the British won another success, and by the rout of the Mysore troops at Sholingarh a month later. His last service was the arduous campaign of 1782, which finally shattered a constitution already gravely impaired by hardship and exertions. Sir Eyre Coote died at Madras, and a monument was erected to him in Westminster Abbey as well as within West Park, Rockbourne , Hampshire.

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