|"Captain to Colonel"|
On the evening of 16th January 1797, a grief-stricken Lachlan Macquarie laid his beloved wife to rest in the Bomaby Burying Ground; a ceremony "attended by her numerous friends and the highest and most respectable characters in the settlement". He wrote a 457 word eulogy, which he then sent to London with the instructions to have it engraved on "one of the most elegant black marble slabs that can be procured in England", which was to be "sent out to Bombay by the ships of next season" to protect her grave. Unhappily, it was destroyed on the subsequent voyage out and many months were to pass before its replacement could be installed.
Jane's estate brought Macquarie some £7,000, leaving him "a very independent man", but he generously chose to bestow legacies on her relatives, friends and servants in her memory, and began reordering his affairs in Cochin, with the intention of remaining in India for several more years with his Regiment, the 77th.
Returning from Cochin, he paused sadly in Calcutta to sell Staffa Lodge, their house in Calcutta; and, by mid April, 1797, was preparing to return to Bombay with his head servant, Bowmanjee, his staff, and two Cochin slave boys, Hector and George, when he heard of a minor military expedition being mounted in Tellicherry to punish the Pyché Rajah, a petty rebellious chieftain on the Malabar coast. Anxious to divert his mind from his sorrows, Macquarie volunteered to take part, and was given command of four companies of the 77th and a battalion of the 3rd Native Infantry Regiment.
Noting that the Rajah's troops fought what we now refer to as a guerrilla war, employing "a monkey-like way of fighting from the tops of trees", Macquarie received the only wound he was to suffer on active service when a spent musket ball hit his left foot, "which only left a blue mark on the skin, and did not even peentrate through the leather of my boot".
The campaign was over in a few days, with the Raja fleeting into hiding. Meanwhile in Mysore, the mutinous Tippoo Sultan, who had signed a peace treaty with the British in 1972 (see Macquarie of Ulva), observed the outcome. Playing with his newest toy - a lifesized mechanical tiger, which emitted savage growls and mauled an effigy of a struggling British soldier
when a crank was turned - Tippoo plotted, planned and bided his time.
Tippoo Sultan's Tiger
On his return to Tellicherry, Macquarie came down with a fever, which incapacitated him for some time. It may well have affected his judgement as well, as he instigated a rather doubtful scheme to secure the future of his infant nephews Hector Macquarie and John Maclaine (the son of his patron, the Laird of Lochbye) by arranging the purchase of officers' commissions for them. Concealing the fact that the boys were only 3 and 5 years old - at the time when 16 was the official minimum age for enlistment - Macquarie wangled postings for them both as Ensigns on the Reserve lIst of the 40th Regiment; where they woujld receive half-pay without actually having to serve in person. This deceit was to come back to embarrass him greatly in the not too distant future.
By January 1798, Macquarie was well enough to return to the house he and Jane had bought on the Ramparts of Bombay, where he convalesced in "a most retired and sequestered kind of life" for some months. By the end of the year his health and spirits were "much better than they had been for a great while past" and he was prophesying that it was "highly probable that we shall very soon be at war in this country with our old enemy Tippoo Sultan".
Napoleon was engaged in his Egyptian campaigns at the time, and Tippoo had been secretly in touch with the French for many months; encouraging them to send forces to attack the British in India, and offering his assistance and troops in the hope of "purging India of these villians". This was not a particularly wise move on Tippoo's part, since the British were reading his mail and were well aware of his duplicity. They swiftly decided to do something about it, and Macquarie, although still weak, took part. By February 1799 he was with the headquarter's staff of the Bombay Army under General Stuart, struggling up the Western Ghats to the plains of Mysore.
Tippoo made a stand at Periapatam with 18,000 troops, hoping to crush the Bomaby Army before it could join up with the approaching Madras Army under General George Harris, with Colonel Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington) as brigade commander. Tippoo threw 6,000 men at the British front, and tried to outflank them with two wings of 6,000 men each. The tactic failed miserably; he lost 2,000 rank an dfile, while the British suffered casualties of ony 145 men - a defeat which must have"made a very sensible impression upon himself and his whole Army".
Tippoo retreated to his palace at Seringapatam, and the Bombay Army pursued him methodically wiping up his rearguard forces on the way. By mid-April, the Bombay and the Madras Armies had surrounded his fortress and were busily engaged in siege operations, despite being harrassed by Tippoo's secret weapon - units of men armed with black gunpowder rockets made of stout iron tubing, with a range of a mile and a half. The artillery opened up on on May 2nd, pounding the formidable walls of the stronghold, until a lucky shot hit a storeroom full of rockets. The ensuing blast blew a hole in the south-west wall, which the artillery quickly exploited.
Tippoo was unworried. He considered his position impregnable, and that the British, as always, would be forced to withdraw when the monsoon rains came in a matter of days. He refused to believe the British would be able or foolish enough to attack in the stifling heat of a late Indian summer. He soon received a very nasty shock. At noon on May 4th, he was dining in his cool hall, when his vizier warned him 4,000 British troops were pouring through the breach in his walls. Macquarie watching the attack, later wrote: Our troops were in complete possession of Tippoo Sultan's Fortres and Capital in less than an hour from the commencement of the assault; the Sultan himself and a great many of his principal officers (were) killed in the storm".
Death of Tippoo Sultan
Captured examples of the defeated Tippoo's rockets were sent back to England, where artillery experts under the "father of Englsh rocketry" John Congreve, rapidly develped improved versions as a new weapon for the British Army.
With £1,300 of prize money, Macquarie returned to Bombay, where, at the age of 40, his promotion to full Major was confirmed, and in March 1801 he was appointed deputy-adjutant-general attached to the 86th Regiment under Major General David Baird, part of a force being sent to Egypt to expel the French. The Army saw little action, but in Alexnadria Macquarie met his brother Charles, who was also a serving Army officer. They discussed future plans for purchasing land on the Isle of Mull.
On 11th February 1802 Macquarie became a Major with the 86th Regiment, and returned to England in May of the following year to attend to financial matters and to enjoy the social whirl of London after so many years abroad. He was twice presented to the King and Queen, dined with the aristocracy, had his portrait painted by John Opie; "reckoned by everone who has seen it very like me", made valuable contacts among the higher echelons of the Army, and attended balls and the theatre. All seemed rosy - until an unexpected letter arrived from the War Office.
Macquarie by Opie
By 1802, Macquarie's young nephew, Hector had become a nominal Lieutenant on the Reserve List of the 40th Regiment; but in 1803, he and John Maclaine were suddenly placed on full pay by the War Office and required to report for military duty immediately! Macquarie was desperate to disguise the true ages of the boys, as well as to mislead Army officials of their real whereabouts. Initially he resorted to the fiction of claiming that Ensigns Macquarie and Maclaine had left for the West Indies to become settlers. However, when advised that if they did not return within six months they would lose their commissions, Macquarie hastily claimed that both of them had now returned to Scotland and were happy to remain on half pay in the Reserves to attend a military academy for 18 months.
Hoping that his ruse would pacify the War Office for a time, Macquarie finally set off for Scotland to visit family and friends. He was in time to visit his patron, the Laird of Lochbye, on his deathbed in July 1804, and then carried the sad news to his mother, the sister of the Laird. It was the first time he had seen her since leaving for the Army in 1787, an emotional reunion "more easy to conceive than to describe". After the Laird's funeral, Macquarie and Charles rode to visit the area around Callachilly, the site of his chosen estate. That evening, family and friends gathered in the Callachilly Inn to toast him as he named the estate Jarvisfield: "out of grateful respect and sincere affection for the beloved and revered memory of my late angelic wife (Jane Jarvis)".
In Autumn, he visited his mother to take his leave and ensure that her situation was "more comfortable as well as more respectable" before he made his return to London. For part of the way, he travelled with his aunt's sister, Miss Elizabeth Campbell of Airds, whom he had met briefly at Lochbye the previous June, where he had been "introduced to this very amiable young lady by her sister". Although she was 17 years his junior, Macquarie was impressed by Elizabeth, writing in his diary: "What a most excellent soldier's wife she would make; and happy - to my mind - will that man be whose good fortune it may happen to be to get her".
But in London, disaster had struck. A secret informant in Scotland had advised the War Office that Hector Macquarie was, in fact, only 10 years old. After a full inquiry, both boys' commissions were forfeited (without compensation), and Macquarie was severely reprimanded. He was, in fact, extremely fortunate not to have been dismissed from the Army, but the incident had damaged his credibility with senior Army staff and, in January 1805, he was curtly ordered to return to India.
This changed Macquarie's plans completely. In March, while making preparations to leave, he proposed to Elizabeth at her aunt's house in London, but made it clear that they could not marry until after his return from India - probably in four years time - as he had vowed on the death of his first wife to "never marry again in India, nor bring another spouse to that land of death". To his delight, Elizabeth accepted him and his conditions with notable candour".
They exchanged locks of hair and, on April 25th, Macquarie and his Cochin slave-boy, George, sailed on the City of London, arriving in Bombay some three months later. He had orders to rejoin the 86th Regiment, rather than his old Regiment the 77th so he reluctantly outlaid "the enormous sum of £650" for new uniforms and expenses. But in London his Commander in Chief, the Duke of York, apparently considering Macquarie sufficiently punished, now promoted him to Lt. Colonel and appointed him as commander of the 73rd Regiment; news which "agreeably surprised" Macquarie - as well it might!
The 73rd Regiment had recently returned to Scotland after 27 years in India but, although the way was now open for Macquarie to return to home far earlier than he had hoped, he felt honour-bound to serve with the 86th Regiment for a time. He trained a detachment at Dohud for a possible campaign against Maharaja Holkar, but, in the end, both parties signed an amicable peace treaty in Xmas Eve, 1805. It was to be Macquarie's last taste of field service, and he spent his final few months in India settling his affairs and paying a last visit to Jane's tomb, which had been whitewashed and restored to "the same state as it was in originally".
He sailed from Bombay on 19th March 1807, carrying urgent dispatches to the Courts of Directors of the East India Company in London. Alighting at Basra on the Persian Gulf (present day Iraq), Macquarie travelled up the Tigris to Baghdad, then overland to Baku and St Petersburg in Russia and on to Copenhagen, from where he sailed to London; arriving on the 17th October 1807.
Two weeks later, on 3rd November he married his Elizabeth at Holsworthy in Devon. In September 1808 their first child, a daughter named Jane Jarvis after the first Mrs Macquarie, was born, but she died in December the same year.
At almost 50, Macquarie was hoping soon to retire to Jarvisfield, but it was not to be - in April 1809, he was appointed Governor of New South Wales. His next campain was about to begin.