Anglo-Nepalese War - First Campaign - Trying Times For Gorkhali Troops

Trying Times For Gorkhali Troops

Out West, the Gorkhali were hopelessly overextended. Kumaun, a key link in Gorkhali Army communications with the Far West, was defended by a small force, numbering about seven hundred and fifty men, with an equal number of Kumaoni irregulars, altogether about fifteen hundred men to defend a whole province. In addition, Doti which was to the East of Kumaun, had been practically stripped of troops. Bam Shah, as governor of Kumaun, had final responsibility for the defense of the province.

The British force, numbering initially over forty five hundred men, was easily able to outmaneuver the Nepalese Army defenders and force them to abandon one post after another. Despite a significant victory over Captain Hearsey’s force, which had been sent on a flanking movement though Eastern Kumaun, and the capture of the captain himself, the Gorkhali Army was unable to stem the tide of the British advance. Hasti Dal Shah arrived in Almora with a small body of reinforcement troops. A further reinforcement of four companies was sent from Kathmandu to aid the beleaguered defences of Kumaun, but the difficulties of communication through the hills prevented them from arriving in time to be of any help.

Meanwhile, Hastings sent Colonel Nicolls, Quartermaster-General for the British troops in India, to take charge of the Almora campaign and assigned two thousand regular troops to this front in addition to the very large number of irregulars already assigned to the area – all of this against fewer than one thousand Gorkhali Army soldiers.

Hasti Dal Shah and some five hundred Nepalese Army men had set out from Almora to secure Almora’s Northern line of communications with Kathmandu. This party was intercepted. Hasti Dal Shah, the ablest Gorkhali Army commander in this sector, was killed in the first moments of the battle. The Gorkhali Army suffered terrible losses. When word of this disaster reached the defenders at Almora, they were stunned. The British closed in on Almora and the Gorkhali Army was unable to prevent the British advance. Subsequently, the British managed to establish gun positions within seventy yards of the gate of the fort at Almora and the British artillery demolished the walls of the fort at point blank range. Bam Shah surrendered Almora on 27 April 1815.

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