Capture of Puri

They took the following steps to occupy Puri:

Diplomacy of Wellesley on Lord Jagannatha

Lord Wellesley desired to capture Puri and Cuttack through his diplomacy alone. Letters were sent to the feudatories of Odisha informing them that Lord Jagannath desired for the British to oust the Marathas from the land. The Governor-General communicated to the populace that the time had come to liberate the land from the Marathas’ oppression and tyranny. Additionally, the priests of the Puri Jagannath temple were assured that they would be respected by Britishers and that the British authorities would maintain a policy of non-intervention in matters pertaining to the temple administration.

Bribe to the Marathas

When the people of Odisha were psychologically won over, occupying the land was not a difficult task for the British authorities. In the subsequent turn, Wellesley engaged in a filthy practise of lavishly bribing Maratha officers. Letters of commitment for the payment of a large bribe were sent to Bhanuji Pandit, the Naib of Cuttack, Haribansa Ray, the Dewan, Balaji Kuanr, the Commander-in-Chief, and Moro Pandit, the Faujdar, in exchange for their assistance to the British force. Convinced of their support, Wellesley entrusted the task of conquering Puri and Cuttack to Lieutenant Colonel Campbell of the 74 Regiment of the Madras Government’s Northern division.

Campbell’s strategy

Campbell was to travel from Ganjam to Puri in accordance with the strategy. Following the British occupation of Puri, the fort of Barabati, a Maratha stronghold in Odisha, was to be brought under British control. Suddenly, following the conquest of the Barabati fort, a detachment was to be sent to Baramul Pass (near Baud) to keep an eye out for Maratha troops advancing from Nagpur. Campbell’s serious illness prior to the strategic operation prompted Colonel Harcourt of the 12th Regiment to assume command of the army once more. st uri and Cuttack, Odisha.

Harcourt’s operation

Harcourt began his operation on 11 September 1803, the day he assumed responsibility. He was accompanied by a civil officer named John Melville in order to organise civil administration immediately following the province’s occupation. When the British troops left Ganjam, they had to negotiate a narrow and perilous path near the mouth of Chilka lake in order to reach Maratha territory in Odisha. This was only possible because Fateh Muhammad, the Maratha Faujdar, kept a watchful eye on this strategic position. He was, however, swayed to the British side by a substantial bribe. Now, with Fateh Muhammad’s assistance, the British troop crossed the narrow passage and occupied Manikpatna. Harcourt sent a message to the priests of Puri from Manikpatna requesting that they protect the temple of Lord Jagannath completely and refrain from infringing on the priests’ privileges. The king of Khurda was also persuaded to lend his assistance to Harcourt in exchange for a payment of one lakh rupees. The Raja of Khurda and the priests of the Jagannath temple desired the end of Maratha rule. They enthusiastically welcomed the British troops. Puri was captured on 18 September 1803 without resistance. This greatly aided Harcourt.

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