What were the main reasons for the victory of the EEIC in the Anglo-Mysore Wars?
To understand English East India Company one has to understand naval power.EEIC had an army double the sizeof British Army .EEIC had three distinct power bases and hyder ali could attack only one base madras decisively. The centre of gravity of EEIC was Bengal which Mysore could never threaten. Even If Hyder defeated Madras EEIC still had its main base Bengal intact plus bombay.Hyder had no navy to meet this dimension and French navy was hopeless and reliable as proved at cuddalore. EEIC victory was inevitable and Hyder Ali agreed when he stated I cannot swallow the sea.
Naval Power and Finances in Mysore wars
The contest between Hyder and the company was a narrow one.
But Hyder's main problem as we have already seen was naval power.
Even if he militarily defeated the Company's Madras Army,which he as a matter of fact successfully did twice (in September 1780 and December 1782),the Company reinforced its troops in Madras by sea from Bombay and Bengal,thereby making Hyder's task impossible.
In any case the economic centre of gravity of the Company was the rich province of Bengal,with whose revenues they paid all their armies.
Hyder could not attack Bengal since he did not have the naval capability to so the Second Mysore War in which Hyder came very close to defeating the English Company at least in South India remains a totally neglected campaign in Pakistani schools.Few people in today's world,where it is not really important and in today's Pakistan,where it is most important; know that Mysore came very close to annihilating the East India Company at Cuddalore (8th to 13th February 1781) when in the words of Fortescue the official historian of the British Army "Every road to to southward was beset by Hyder's detatchments,and not a grain of rice was to be procured.Unless the French Squadron (blockading the Army of the East India Company under Eyre Coote in the Bay of Bengal) could by a miracle be removed,and the sea thrown open for transport of supplies,Coote and the whole of his army were doomed men.For five days he remained in suspense,when to his unspeakable relief he saw the French Squadron sail away to eastward,removed in the nick of time by the miraculous folly of its commander. Thus by happy fortune the British Army and the British Empire in India were saved". (20)
From, now onwards the pendulum of history started moving in favour of the English. Even Admiral Mahan the famous naval historian discussed this battle in detail.
No one to this day exactly knows why Admiral D Orves withdrew (21) , but this folly finally led to the exit of the French from India and to the final destruction ofMysore in 1799.
Hyder was convincingly defeated by General Eyre Coote at Porto Novo (1st July 1781) in a battle where Coote dislocated Hyder's Army by an oblique order march in the fashion of Frederick the Great,and by a narrow margin at Pollilore (27th August 1781).
These battles were more decisive in the sense that they frustrated Hyder's attempts to totally destroy the English East India Company in South India.
On the other hand these victories still did not enable the English East India Company to defeat Mysore;something which was beyond the Company's capability till at least 1782.
The key to the issue however was the fact that using the revenue of Bengal the East India Company could economically sustain as well as rapidly expand its army much more rapidly than any native power in India including Mysore.
Diplomatically the East India Company succeeded in isolating Mysore by 1785 and from 1790 onwards the balance of power was no longer in Mysore's favour.
There is an interesting parallel here. A recent book by an American also cites poor diplomacy or , "New European Diplomatic abilities to gang up" in words of a reviewer,who I heard at one forum, recently as one of the principal reasons of failure of the Ottoman Turks in defeating European powers in the period 1500-1700. (22)
France shaken by the French Revolution of 1789 was in no position to any longer effectively aid Mysore by its naval power.
Thus by I792 the East India Company was able to successfully contain the Muslim state of Mysore,which was their principal opponent in India from 1767 to 1792.
The part which native troops played in the Siege of Seringapatam of 1792 as a result of which Mysore was reduced to a secondary power may be gauged from the fact that out of the total East India Company force of 30,991 men 21,899 were natives. (23)
How the English East India Company Conquered India Paperback – November 2, 2012