Battle of Wadgaon 1779: Maratha - British War

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 8, 2022, 8:40

The Battle of Wadgaon was fought in Vadgaon Maval village in Maharashtra between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company in January 1779. It was part of the First Anglo-Maratha War.

Battle of Wadgaon - The Beginning

Since 1661, the port of Bombay (Mumbai) has been under British control. With the emergence of the Maratha Empire in the second half of the 18th century, the British were compelled to protect the port and seize control of the supply lines leading to it from Bassein (now known as Vasai) to the north and Pune to the east, both of which were part of the Maratha Empire.

In addition, the Marathas had begun talks with the French, which alarmed the British.

With this in mind, the British signed the Treaty of Surat with Raghunathrao (a contender to the Peshwa throne) on 6 March 1775. According to the treaty, Raghunathrao would be positioned as Peshwa in exchange for granting the British Salsette and Bassein Fort.

Battle of Wadgaon - The Warfare

  • The East India Company's military at Bombay numbered around 3,900 troops (600 Europeans, the rest Asian), with tens of thousands of servants and specialists. Raghunath Rao's army joined them on the road, adding many thousand additional men and artillery.
  • Tukojirao Holkar and General Mahadji Shinde led the Maratha army, which numbered in the tens of thousands and was commanded by Tukojirao Holkar and General Mahadji Shinde.
  • From all sides, the Maratha cavalry attacked the enemy.
  • The Marathas also used a scorched-earth policy, which included destroying communities, depleting food supplies, burning fields, and poisoning wells.
  • In the middle of the night, the British began to evacuate from Talegaon.
  • However, the Marathas attacked, forcing the British to stop in Wadgaon (now Vadgaon or Vadgaon Maval), where they were encircled on January 12, 1779.
  • The British were ready to discuss capitulation conditions by the end of the next day.

Battle of Wadgaon - The End

The Battle of Wadgaon resulted in the victory for the Marathas. As a result, the 'Treaty of Wadgaon' was signed and according to that, the British East India Company were to withdraw from India and relocate to Bombay, all areas captured by the Bombay office be surrendered, and deal to split earnings from Broach's district (Bharuch).

The Marathas allowed the British to return to Bombay in a show of gallantry. This proved to be a strategic blunder that had far-reaching consequences not just for the Maratha Empire, but also for India's history.

The Treaty of Wadgaon did not sustain long, since the British Governor-General of Bengal, Warren Hastings, rejected it because Bombay authorities had little legal authority to sign it and ordered that British interests in the area be preserved.

The British were conquered at the Battle of Wadgaon on 13th January 1779. The 'Treaty of Wadgaon' was signed on 16th January. The Bombay government was to renounce all lands obtained by the East India Company's Bombay office since 1773, and a share of earnings from the Broach area (Bharuch), and halt a British army heading to Pune from Bengal.

Warren Hastings, however, declared the 'Treaty of Wadgaon’ invalid, claiming that the Presidency of Bombay had no legal authority to execute such a treaty. Even after the Battle of Wadgaon, the Britishers continued to battle the Marathas until the Treaty of Salbai happened in May 1782.

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FAQs on Battle of Wadgaon

Q.1. When was the Battle of Wadgaon fought?

The Battle of Wadgaon was fought on 12–13 January 1779.

Q.2. Where was the Battle of Wadgaon fought?

The Battle of Wadgaon was fought in Vadgaon Maval village in Maharashtra.

Q.3. Between whom was the Battle of Wadgaon fought?

The Battle of Wadgaon was fought between Maratha Empire and the British East India Company

Q.4. Who won the Battle of Wadgaon?

The Maratha Empire won the Battle of Wadgaon.