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No. 267.-JANUARY 1912.
Art. 1.-THE HESSINGS, FATHER AND SON:
KILLAHDARS OF AGRA.
"Not Amurath an Amurath succeeds,
- Haynes Bayly.
NOT often is an instance afforded of father and son
successively holding the same military command. Such, however, was the case with regard to the historic Fort of Agra in the days of the Maharaja Daulat Rao Sindhia, its Commandants being John Hessing and his son George.
Of either very little, comparatively speaking, is known.
It will perhaps be necessary to take a backward glance at those old days, over a century ago, embracing the period of, what has been styled by Mr. Keene, the “Great Anarchy," immediately before the British became the paramount power in Hindustan.
Asiatic rulers have always been desirous of engaging the services of Europeans, so long, of course, as the latter continued to be servants. With Indian rulers, too, in former days political existence was always more or less a struggle for life. Hence they would employ at any cost European officers who were capable of drilling troops in camp and leading them in the field. But when such men had brought their battalions to a certain degree of efficiency it not infrequently happened that their Asiatic brother-officers became jealous of them, which circumstance sometimes led to serious consequences.
Very strange, and not seldom romantic, were the lives of these European soldiers of fortune. To us their careers are more or less full of interest, as they should be of instruction to the student of history or the observer of human nature, furnishing as they do instances of individual capacity and possibilities under unusual conditions which are scarcely likely to re-arise in these more prosaic days.
Thus, among others, there flourished in Hindustan Count de Boigne,* the Savoyard General who rose to be Sindhia's right-hand man, and his successor, Perron ; †
Count Benoit de Boigne was born in 1751. He entered the French Army at the age of 17, but left it in five years for the Russian service, and was taken prisoner. On being released, he travelled via Alexandria, Cairo and Suez and joined the 6th Madras N. I. in the E. I. Co.'s service in 1778, at Madras. Imagining himself neglected, he resigned and joined Madhava Rao Sindhia, who employed him to train his troops, rewarding him handsomely. He won for his master the battles of Patan and Mairta before he became Commander-in-Chief of Sindhia's army, defeating Holkar at Lakhairi, 1793. On Madhava kao's death in the following year he continued to serve his successor Daulat Rao. Ill-health compelled him to resign his command in December, 1795. He left India in 1796 to settle in France. Here he was held in the greatest respect till death in 1830. He left 20 millions of francs and had in his lifetime given away more than 3'5 millions for benevolent and patriotic purposes,
+ Pierre Cuillier, better known as General Perron, came out to India in 1780 at the age of 25. Deserting his ship, he entered the service, first of the Rana of Gohud and then of Bhartpur. In 1790 de Boigne took him into Sindhia's army. He saw service at the battles of Patan and Mairta, and lost a hand at the siege of Kanaund. On de Boigne's retirement in 1796 Perron succeeded him as General in command of Sindhia's army and defeated George Thomas. Both de Boigne and Perron are said to have instigated Napoleon's designs on India. He was with Sindhia’s forces during the second Mahratta War of 1803, and in possession of Shah Alam, the Mogul Emperor. He dismissed all British officers from Sindhia's service, but after Lake's capture of Aligarh from Sindhia's forces, Perron was superseded by Ambaji Inglia and deposed from the command by Bourguien. His life being threatened, he sought Lake's protection. His troops were defeated and, after losing most of the immense fortune he had accumulated, Perron returned about 1806 to France, where he lived in retirement until his death some 28 years later.
George Thomas,* the Irish Raja who carved out for himself a principality at Hansi ; and in the Deccan the scarcely less celebrated Raymond. † For fuller information regarding these the reader may be referred to Mr. Keene's Hindustan under Free Lances, which is really the second edition of his book entitled The Great Anarchy, and to the stirring pages of the late Mr. Herbert Compton's Military
Military Adventurers of Hindustan. The work of the latter author, allowing for occasional inaccuracies, is always graphic and
THE DERRIDON FAMILY.
In Sindhia's service there was a Major Louis Derridon who commanded a battalion in John Hessing's corps. He was present at the battle of Ujjain when Holkar's cavalry defeated four of Sindhia's battalions, killing nearly all their officers. In this battle Derridon was wounded and taken prisoner, and Hessing had to pay Rs. 40,000
ransom to Holkar, although it is said Sindhia subsequently refunded the amount. Derridon after this entered Perron's army and
George Thomas was an Irishman, who came out as a sailor in the Navy, and deserted his ship off Madras in 1781. lle first entered the army of the Nizam and later on found his way up country: He commanded the army of Begum Sumru of Sardhana and left to control the forces of Appa Rao, but was later on reconciled to the Begum. He built Georgegarh, near Hariana, and established Hansi fort. He proclaimed his independence and, from Hansi, ruled over Hissar, Hansi, Sirsa, Rohtak, 1797-9. His ambitious projects were, however, put an end to by Sindhia's General, Ferron, who made him surrender in 1802. On being deposed, he died of fever on board his pinnace at Berhampore en route to Calcutta, on the 22nd August 1802, aged 46. Besides being one of the most remarkable of adventurers, he was a man of acknowledged military genius, capacity and gallantry.
† Michel Raymond, son of a French merchant, came out in 1775, when only 20 years old, to trade in India. Under llaider Ali and Tipu he fought against the English, and in 1783 was made A.-D.-C. to Marquis de Bussy. After Bussy's death in 1785 he entered the service of Nizam Ali Khan, Subadar of the Deccan. In ten years he organised 15.000 native troops under European officers and sudpressed the revolt of the Nizam's eldest son, Alijah. He was with his troops at the defeat of the Nizam's army by the Mahrattas at Kurdla. Raymond, who was much admired by the natives, died in 1798.