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The Cotiote War refers to a series of continuous struggles fought between the Cotiote prince, Pazhassi Raja Kerala Varma, and the English East India Company across a span of fourteen years between 1792 to 1806. Pazhassi Raja aimed to preserve the independence and unity of his kingdom while the British were determined to annex and dismember it.[1][2] His own desire for independence and sense of betrayal by English on their earlier promise to respect his country’s independence combined with constant exhortations of his two patriot noblemen, Kaitheri Ambu and Kannavath Sankaran, led to outbreak of Cotiote War.[3] It is the longest war waged by English East India Company during their wars of conquests in India – much longer than Anglo-Mysore Wars, Anglo-Maratha Wars, Anglo-Sikh Wars and Polygar Wars. It was one of the bloodiest and hardest wars waged by English in India – English regiments that operated suffered losses as high as eighty percent in 10 years of warfare.[4] Cotiote army waged guerrilla warfare, chiefly centred in mountain forests of Aralam and Wynad, and larger zone of conflict extended from Mysore to Arabian Sea, from Coorg to Coimbatore. Warfare peaked in early 1797, 1800 to 1801, and 1803 to 1804 [5] and due to constant reverses, Bombay regiments were withdrawn and instead Madras regiments were deployed with an increase in number of troops - from 8,000 in 1803 to 14,000 in early 1804.[6] Cotiote War is the only war in which famed General Arthur Wellesely, Duke of Wellington failed – Wellesely himself admitted that Cotiote War cannot be won as long as Raja was alive[7] and his prediction came true. Cotiote War ended within months of death of Cotiote leader, Pazhassi Raja in a skirmish on November 30 of 1805.[8] Following this war, kingdom of Cotiote was annexed into district of Malabar in Madras Presidency.[9]

English had 6,000 men in the beginning which was increased to 8,000 in 1800 and to 14,000 in 1804 - Arthur Wellesley was in charge of operations between 1800 and 1804.[10] Cotiote army manpower is not exactly known - estimates vary between 2,000 and 6,000.[11] Cotiote army was well equipped with fire-locks but ran short of musket ammunition [12] after 1799 and so used bows and swords widely. 10 years of war had caused 80 percent loss in British ranks - both European officers and Sepoys. But no estimate is available about death roll in Cotiote armies.[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Malabar Manual, William Logan, 1887
  2. Supplementary Dispatches and Memoranda of Field Marshal Arthur, Duke of Wellington, Edited, 1858.
  3. Refer Logan
  4. "Indian Atrocities" in "The Examiner" by George Strachan, 1817
  5. Refer Logan
  6. History of Madras Army, W.J Wilson
  7. Refer Wellingtom
  8. Refer Logan
  9. Refer Logan
  10. Refer Logan and Wilson
  11. Refer Wellington
  12. Wellington
  13. Refer Strachan

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