Sharpe and the Pindari Campaign 1817-1818
3rd Mahratta War
a miserable, god-forsaken, thorn-walled fort on the
frontier of Hyderabad. Sgt.Richard Sharpe, leading
a detail of six privates, and an interpreter, thirteen
year old Devi Lal, arrives to collect eighty thousand
rounds of prime musket cartridges.
cartridges, originally stolen from the East India
Company (EIC) armoury at Madras, have been recaptured
by sepoys out of Chasalgaon, under the command of
Major Crosby, a billious EIC officer, and are now
bound for the armoury at Seringapatem, three days
march to the south. From there they are to be issued
to British troops who are readying for war against
the Mahrattas, a loose confederation of princedoms
opposed to British rule.
immediately clear from Crosby’s dealings with
Sharpe that there is little love lost between the
EIC and the King’s army. Sharpe is quick to
discover that seven-thousand cartridges are missing.
Crosby has sold them, but claims that the lost ammunition
was ruined by damp and should be listed by Sharpe
as ‘spoilage.’ Devi Lal teases Sharpe,
for the Major has done no more than Sharpe planned
on doing himself. While the young interpreter and
the rest of his men fall to scrounging some dinner,
Sharpe goes off to seek some ox-wagons.
his absence, the watch announces a troop of Company
soldiers are approaching the fort. These fresh arrivals
are led by Major William Dodd. He greets Crosby, orders
his men to fix bayonets – “I like to offer
a proper salute to a fellow Englishman” –
and, before Crosby can react, instructs his men to
open fire. Crosby is the first to go down.
drawn to the fray by the gunfire, straightaway takes
a glancing musket shot across his scalp. It’s
not life-threatening, but it’s enough to lay
him out and cover him in blood. He drifts in and out
of consciousness, unable to move or speak, as the
massacre unfolds about him. Dodd’s men leave
no-one alive, not even sparing Devi Lal, who is bayoneted
as he bends over Sharpe, trying to revive him.
unfortunate Major Crosby, though, is not quite dead.
Desperately, he tries to crawl away from the carnage.
Dodd comes across, and, as Crosby gasps for quarter,
casually beheads him.
Sharpe’s senses slip away, his blood intermingling
with that of his young interpreter, he catches the
name which will haunts his dreams… Major Dodd.
Ferraghur – a sprawling palace/fortress –
dark and foreboding against a crescent moon. A lavish
Great Hall. On his throne, the aging raja, in company
with Madhuvanthi, his favourite concubine; his son
Emir and daughter Lalima, aged five and six respectively.
Dodd presents the raja with Crosby’s head, which
the raja tosses to his pet tiger. We drift away to
the billowing smoke of an aromatic censer, and through
the smoke, we dissolve to…
1817. A fog shrouded morning. Lt.Col Richard Sharpe,
late of the 95th Rifles, suvivor of the Chasalgaon
massacre, veteran of the Penisular war, and hero of
Waterloo, arrives on Battersea Fields, where a duel
is about to take place to settle a dispute of ‘undivulged