(Last Updated on : 21-05-2012)
The First Anglo Maratha War was fought between the Maratha Empire and British East India Company. The war started with the Treaty of Surat and Treaty of Salbai ended it.
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 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 were 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.
The First Anglo Maratha War was initiated with this treaty of Surat, according to which he gave up the territories Salsette and Bassein and promised them 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 that of Surat. Raghunath was pentioned and his 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 First Anglo Maratha War was initiated with the Battle of Wadgaon. Maratha and the British army encountered at the outskirts of Pune. The Maratha force consisted of eighty thousand soldiers while British force involved Thirty five thousand soldiers, superior ammunition and canons. Tukajirao Holkar was the chief of Maratha army and Mahadji Sindhe was the general. Mahadji Sindhe entrapped the British army near Talegaon valleys and then 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 farmland and poisoning wells. The British started to withdraw at Talegaon and Maratha attack forced them to retreat to the village of Wadgaon. Here, the Marathas surrounded the British force from all sides and cut off their food and water supply. The British finally surrendered on 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.
However, the First Anglo Maratha war did not end up here. 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 that captured Gwalior in august of 1780. Hastings sent another force after Mahadji Shinde. In February 1781, the British army under General Camac was able defeat Shinde finally at Sipri.
The First Anglo Maratha War ended with the Treaty of Salbai 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 west of the Yamuna. The treaty also guaranteed peace between the two oppositions for twenty years and thus ended the First Anglo Maratha War.