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War Without Pity in the South Indian Peninsula 1798-1813

The Letter Book of Lieutenant-Colonel Valentine Blacker

Series : War & Military Culture in South Asia 1757-1947 #7

Author : David C J Howell

War Without Pity in the South Indian Peninsula 1798-1813 : The Letter Book of Lieutenant-Colonel Valentine Blacker


General - Pages : 192 | Images : 14 b/w ills, 2 maps, 5 tables

Paperback - Date of Publication : October 2018 | Size : 234mm x 156mm | ISBN : 9781912390861 | Helion Book Code : HEL0977

In 1798 Valentine Blacker, the son of an Irish clergyman, born in Armagh, left the United Kingdom for a military career in the Madras Army. He was favoured by the presence in India of his uncle, Colonel Barry Close, the Adjutant General. His active service as a young cavalry officer in Southern India covered several wars and rebellions. He was wounded, suffered disease and the loss of many friends. From the day of his arrival, for the next fifteen years, he wrote regularly to his father until the latter’s death in 1813. The letters to some extent expose the truth of how the British held India. Rebellion was ruthlessly crushed, wounded executed on the battlefield and if besieged garrisons failed to surrender, after a successful storm, they were 'put to the sword.' This was viewed as part of the usages of war by either side, and the letters are intermixed with endearments for his family and his regret at the lack of correspondence from home. In juxtaposition to the executions following a native infantry mutiny in 1806, the 'officer’s mutiny' of 1809 was dealt with by the utmost leniency. The East India Company is spared little criticism for its government of Madras and mismanagement of the army. The correspondence ceases in 1813, but Valentines career progressed until the end of the 3rd Maratha and Pindari War of 1817-1819 when he was the the Quartermaster General of the Madras Army, and wrote 'A Memoir of the Operations of the British Army in India.' In 1823 he was promoted to Lieut. Col. and appointed The Surveyor General of India at Calcutta where he died in 1826.


"There is, perhaps, not a great deal of material directly relevant to recreating the campaigns of the HEIC on the tabletop, but much to interest students of social, rather than military history." Miniature Wargames


“War Without Pity is an invaluable study of the early military and socila attitudes of the EIC forces and British society in India. It is particularly useful as a portrait of the EIC officer corps, a body that played a critical role in the British presence and expansion in the subcontinent. The book is part of Helion’s excellent War and Military Culture in South Asia series, and the publishers and the author are to be congratulated for a valuable addition to an already impressive list of titles. Highly recommended.” Durbar, Journal of the Indian Military Historical Society

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