Francis Forde - Encyclopedia

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FRANCIS FORDE (d. 1770), British soldier, first appears in the army list as a captain in the 39th Foot in 1746.. This regiment was the first of the king's service to serve in India (hence its motto Primus in Indis), and Forde was on duty there when in 1 755 he became major, at the same time as Eyre Coote, soon to become his rival, was promoted captain. At the express invitation of Clive, Forde resigned his king's commission to take the post of second in command of the E.I. Company's troops in Bengal. Soon after Plassey, Forde was sent against the French of Masulipatam. Though feebly supported by the motley rabble of an army which Anandraz, the local ally, brought into the field, Forde pushed ahead through difficult country and came upon the enemy entrenched at Condore. For four days the two armies faced one another; on the fifth both commanders resolved on the offensive and an encounter ensued. In spite of the want of spirit shown by Anandraz and his men, Forde in the end succeeded in winning the battle, which was from first to last a brilliant piece of work. Nor did he content himself with this; on the same evening he stormed the French camp, and his pursuit was checked only by the guns of Masulipatam itself. The place was quickly invested on the land side, but difficulties crowded upon Forde and his handful of men. For fifty days little advance was made; then Forde, seeing the last avenues of escape closing behind him, ordered an assault at midnight on the 25th of January 1759. The Company's troops lost one-third of their number, but the storm was a brilliant and astounding success. Forde received less than no reward. The Company refused to confirm his lieut.-colonel's commission, and he found himself junior to Eyre Coote, his old subaltern in the 39th Foot. Nevertheless he continued to assist Clive, and on the 25th of November 1759 won a success comparable to Condore at Chinsurah (or Biderra) against the Dutch. A year later he at last received his commission, but was still opposed by a faction of the directors which supported Coote. Clive himself warmly supported. Forde in these quarrels. In 1769, with Vansittart and Scrafton, Colonel Forde was sent out with full powers to investigate every detail of Indian administration. Their ship was never heard of after leaving the Cape of Good Hope on the 27th of December.

Monographs on Condore, Masulipatam and Chinsurah will be found in Malleson's Decisive Battles of India.

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