|As America celebrated its independence earlier this week, days after the Indian PM’s visit to the US where the two countries committed to unprecedented levels of collaboration, here is a piece of historic trivia connecting the two nations. Whilst there are multiple schools of thought on most historic events, the author cites the growing consensus on the Revolutionary war the American colonies fought with the British to free themselves. The author quotes various historians about how this war drew other colonies of Britain and France (the French helped the Americans) including India.
Quoting historian Kathleen Duval, professor of history at the university of North Carolina: “France’s help for the United States has long been part of Americans’ knowledge of the American Revolution, but the French king decided to enter the war because of France’s opposition to Britain more than any love for the Americans – after all, he was a king with his own empire,”
And that opposition manifested as a proxy war between the British and French colonies in India:
“Speaking to CNN from his home in Seattle, Glickstein argues that controlling India was a much bigger prize for Britain than controlling portions of North America. British colonizers coveted its resources, like silk, cotton, textiles, spices, tea, opium and precious stones. Historians point out that the British plundering of Indian wealth during the colonial years turned India’s economy from a near peer of Europe to something exponentially smaller.
“Everything that India made, the Brits wanted,” he said, adding that India’s strategic location meant it was a base from where Britain could protect its trade routes to the Asia-Pacific.
Britain and, to a lesser extent, France were well established with colonies in India when the American Revolution began and had already brought their hostilities from Europe to the subcontinent, according to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.
“When France entered the war in 1778 as an American ally, the British East India Company immediately moved to attack France’s Indian colonies, drawing both countries’ Indian allies into the fight,” the museum’s website says.
So the garrison of the French and its Indian allies at Cuddalore on the Bay of Bengal was an important target for Britain in late June of 1783.
Fighting took place on land and at sea. The naval battle of Cuddalore on June 20 was considered a French victory. On land, the besieged French forces tried attacking British troops around them on June 25, but were pushed back, Glickstein says.
Back at sea, the French admiral ordered his ships to prepare a bombardment of British land forces in support of the French ground operation, Glickstein says.
But before it could commence, “a British ship appeared in the distance flying a white flag,” Glickstein says.
“They brought news that six months before in Paris, the British, French and the Americans – the Dutch were a little later – signed the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolution,” he says.
“Cuddalore, India, was indeed the last battle of the American Revolution.””