Tuesday, June 30, 2015

21 June 1757: Council of War

At a hamlet called Cuttawa, a column of 3,000 British troops settled in for the night.  Some were newly-recruited English lads, who had joined His Majesty’s army and never expected a posting in India.   Others were veterans of the East India Company’s service.  The majority of the force was native soldiers, or sepoys.  All were settling down for the night.  The lights in camp were extinguished, and the pickets began their weary vigils, ensuring that no enemy could surprise them while they slept.

But one tent still remained illuminated: the tent of British commander Robert Clive, who was holding a council of war.  Twenty European officers had been convened to answer the question: “Whether in our present situation without assistance and on our own bottom it would be prudent to attack the Nabob, or whether we should wait till joined by some Country Power.”

Much was at stake, and either decision was perilous in its own way.  The British had gotten in this situation because they had backed Mir Jafar in his secret bid to become Nabob.  Mir Jafar had suggested that the British should march to Plassey and battle the current Nabob, Siraj-ud-Doula.  The British had done so—but now what?

Clive’s question haunted the air.  To wait would mean the strengthening of the Nabob’s army with seasoned French soldiers.  With them, Siraj-ud-Doula would regain courage and his armies would crush the handful of British soldiers. But to attack the Nabob seemed suicidal, especially if Mir Jafar switched allegiances and joined the fight against them.  Could 3,000 European regulars, sailors, and Indian sepoys face the Nabob’s host of 35,000?  These two unpleasant alternatives now faced the council of war.

Usually in councils of war, the most junior officer would voice his opinion first, going on until finally reaching the highest officer.  Clive, however, broke with custom and gave his opinion first.  He declared that they must wait for Mir Jafar.  Major Kilpatrick (of his Majesty’s 39th Regiment of Foot) and Major Grant (of the East India Company) concurred.  Major Eyre Coote was of a different way of thinking. He said, “that the common soldiers were at present confident of success; that a stop so near the enemy would naturally quell this ardor, which it would be difficult to restore.”  He went on to say that a small French army would join the Nabob shortly, and when this happened, the Nabob would vigorously attack and cut off the British from their base at Calcutta.  Cut off from supplies, their position would become critical.

Down the ranks the votes went.  When it had finished, 13 officers had voted for waiting, and 7 had voted for attacking.  The vote was cast, and yet somehow Clive was not satisfied.  He exited the tent and, wandering up and down in a nearby mango grove, thought the matter over.  After an hour, he had come to a decision.

Drums beat as soldiers hurriedly formed ranks.  Officers bellowed commands and sergeants shoved and pushed to straighten the formations.  Clive had determined to march to Plassey and attack.  The battle, on 23 June, 1757, was a British victory.  Siraj-ud-Doula was killed soon after, and a grateful Mir Jafar loaded Clive and his men with presents.
“For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.”—Proverbs 24:6

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Beyond the Mask: My Thoughts

The Christian movie Beyond the Mask is releasing to 100 theaters in the United States tomorrow.  I saw this movie in May, and would highly recommend that everyone see it.  This is not my full review of this movie, nor does it contain any spoilers.

1. Story
The story is well-crafted, following Will Reynolds, a former assassin trying to hide his past.  Unfortunately for him, his past keeps cropping up and he is unable to escape it.

2. Visuals
The imagery of this movie is wonderful!  From carriages to Philadelphia, the movie is full of visually lavish scenes.  The costumes as well are recreated in all their 1776 glory.  For an analysis of one--controversial--costume, go here: http://defendingthelegacy.blogspot.com/2015/04/beyond-mask-charles-kemps-india-jacket.html

3. History
The movie is set in 1775-76 during the American Revolution.  Benjamin Franklin, Independence Hall, smugglers, the East India Company, highwaymen, and George Washington all appear in the movie.  While the story itself is fictitious, many of the details of 18th Century life are correct.

4. Personal
This movie is well-done and I would like it anyways, but I love it even more because I appear in it!  If you are curious where I am, I am a rich man on the streets of Philadelphia in company with three other rich men.  My coat is olive-green with gold waistcoat and breeches.  I also worked on construction for this movie, contributing to a street of Philadelphia, a ship, a windmill, and other things.

To find out if this movie is in your area, visit: http://beyondthemaskmovie.com/cities, and if you have any questions, please drop me a comment!