Historical background of the First Anglo Maratha War
The First Anglo Maratha War had a historical backdrop. Madhavrao Peshwa, the Maratha ruler died in the year 1772 and his brother Narayanrao Peshwa ascended the throne and became the Maratha king. His uncle Raghunathrao had him assassinated in a palace conspiracy and he himself became the next Peshwa, although he was not a legal heir. After the death of Narayanrao, his widow Gangabai gave birth to a son, who was named as 'Sawai' Madhavrao (Sawai means one and a quarter) and was the legal successor of the Peshwas. Twelve Maratha chiefs under the leadership of Nana Phadnis united and ruled in the name of the newborn infant as his Regents. However, Raghunathrao, who was absolutely unwilling to give up his power and position, sought the help of British at Bombay and signed the Treaty of Surat on March 6, 1775 in this regard.
Treaty of Surat
The First Anglo Maratha War was initiated with the Treaty of Surat, according to which he gave up the territories Salsette and Bassein and promised the British, parts of revenues from Surat and Bharuch districts. In return, the British aided Raghunathrao with twenty-five hundred soldiers. The British Calcutta Council reprobated the Treaty of Surat and sent Colonel Upton to Pune in order to dismiss it. The colonel's idea was to make a new treaty with the regency that abdicated Raghunath and offered him pension. Thus Treaty of Purandhar signed on March 1, 1776 canceled the Treaty of Surat. Raghunath’s interest was not fulfilled but Salsette and Bharuch revenues were still earned by the British. The Bombay Government rejected this treaty and gave shelter to Raghunath. In 1777, Nana Phadnis on behalf of the infant king violated his treaty with Calcutta Council as he granted the French, a port on the west coast. The British sent an army towards Pune. The confusion increased when London authorities supported the Bombay division of East India Company and Raghunathrao was again supported in 1778-79.
The War between the British and the Maratha army
The war was initiated with the Battle of Wadegaon. The Maratha and the British army encountered at the outskirts of Pune. The Maratha force consisted of eighty thousand soldiers while British force included Thirty five thousand soldiers, superior ammunition and canons. Tukajirao Holkar was the chief of Maratha army and Mahadji Sindhe (also Scindia) was the general. Mahadji Sindhe entrapped the British army near Talegaon valleys and then the Maratha cavalry harassed the enemy from all sides. They also attacked the British supply base at Khopoli. The Marathas used a 'scorched earth policy' by burning farmlands and poisoning wells. The British started to withdraw at Talegaon, however the Maratha attack forced them to retreat to the village of Wadegaon. Here, the Marathas surrounded the British force from all sides and cut off their food and water supply. The British finally surrendered in the middle of January 1779 and signed the treaty of Wadegaon, which compelled the Bombay Government to release all the territories acquired by British since 1775.
End of the First Anglo Maratha War
Warren Hastings, the British Governor- General in Bengal, rejected the Treaty of Wadegaon and sent a large army under the leadership of Colonel Goddard. Goddard captured Ahmedabad in February 1779 and Bassein in December 1780. Another army from Bengal led by Captain Popham, captured Gwalior in August 1780. Hastings sent another force after Mahadji Shinde. In February 1781, the British army under General Camac was finally able to defeat Shinde finally at Sipri.
Concluding of the Treaty of Salbai
The war ended with the Treaty of Salbai which was signed between the Peshwa and the British on 17th May 1782. This treaty recognized young Sawai Madavrao as Peshwa and Raghunathrao as the pensioner. The treaty was sanctioned by Hastings in June 1782 and by Phadnis in February, 1783. According to the treaty Shinde got back his territories to the west of the Yamuna. The treaty also guaranteed peace between the two oppositions for twenty years and thus ended the First Anglo Maratha War.