Posted on: 3 February 2013

Digital Rare Book:
Final French Struggles in India and on the Indian Seas : Including an account of the capture of the Isles of France and ... ; with an appendix containing an account of the expedition from India to Egypt in 1801
By Col. George Bruce Malleson
Published by W.H.Allen & Co., London - 1884

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The Capture of Chandernagore, March 1757

Lying ten miles up river from Calcutta, Chandernagore was the administrative centre of the French East India Company. The battle there was one of the many fought between the French and English on the sub-continent during the Seven Years War, 1759-63. It gave the East India Company effective control of Calcutta and the Bengal hinterland. Britain finished the war as the dominant European power in India, and was well-placed to take advantage of the weakening political and economic power of the Moghul Empire. Chandernagore’s capture after a ten-day bombardment by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Clive and Rear-Admiral Watson was the first step in the British driving the French from Bengal. The French who escaped took shelter with the Nawab, whom Clive shortly afterwards defeated at Plassey. This ended the French influence in Bengal. This painting commemorates the event some 14 years later. It shows Watson’s ships, ‘Kent’, ‘Tiger’ and ‘Salisbury’ firing on the town and fort from an anchored position. The action is close to land and the buildings along the shoreline are clearly identifiable. The leading ship, the ‘Tiger’ is on the right of the picture, and in the centre is the ‘Kent’ with a couple of boats under her stern. It is flying Rear-Admiral Watson’s flag on the foremast and a red flag giving the signal to the ships to engage at the main. Both these ships are firing on the fort and on the far left the ‘Salisbury’ is also firing on the town. The effect of the smoke from the guns and fires can be seen blowing over the land to the right. It is signed and dated ‘D. Serres.1771’.

Credit: National Maritime Museum

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