What is Tamil Nadu's link to American War of Independence?

As per popular belief, the final battle in the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) took place at Yorktown, Virginia which is being contested by historians and professors.

Published: 06th July 2023 06:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2023 07:32 PM   |  A+A-


Richard Simkin's portrait of the Siege of Cuddalore: 'The East India Company's European Regiment at the Siege of Cuddalore, 1 July 1783'. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons)

Online Desk

On July 4th, 1776, the 13 Colonies of America declared their independence from British rule. It was however achieved only in 1783 when the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) ended.

“For much of America’s 247-year history, it’s been taught that the last battle of that war was at Yorktown, Virginia,” a CNN report said.

However, according to history professor Kathleen DuVal amongst other experts, it was fought on the soil of Cuddalore, a coastal town in Tamil Nadu, India. 

DuVal told CNN that the 1783 Battle of Cuddalore, fought in the Bay of Bengal, was also the final battle of the American Revolutionary War waged between Great Britain and France.

The Battle of Cuddalore in 1783 was an attempt by the British to recapture the town of Cuddalore from the combined forces of French and Mysorean troops following the death of Mysore ruler Hyder Ali (an ally of the French) in 1782.

The seaport city was previously conquered by the French from the British during the inconclusive Battle of Cuddalore in 1758 during the Seven Years’ War (a major conflict involving all great European powers).

At around the same time, America was fighting the Revolutionary War against the British after it attempted to impose greater sovereignty over the 13 Colonies.

DuVal explains that France, another big global power, wanted to help the American Colonies become free from British rule because of their opposition to Britain. And therefore French kings and noblemen decided to enter the American Revolutionary War.

Highlighting the Indian connection to this war, an article on the Museum of the American Revolution’s website reads thus, “When France entered the war in 1778, as an American ally, the British East India Company immediately moved to attack France’s Indian colonies, drawing both countries’ Indian allies into the fight”.

Thus, the garrison of the French and their Indian allies at Cuddalore became an important target for Britain in late June of 1783. 

Seattle-based historian Don Glickstein told CNN that fighting took place on land and at sea near the French-led garrison at Cuddalore. 

He elaborated that the naval battle of Cuddalore on June 20, 1783, was considered a French victory while on land, the French troops were pushed back by the British. 

But when French ships prepared to launch a bombardment against British land forces, “a British ship appeared in the distance flying a white flag", the historian said. 

The American Revolutionary War ended when news arrived that a preliminary peace treaty had been signed between the French, the British, and the Americans six months before in Paris, Glickstein stated. 

This 1783 Peace of Paris Treaty recognized the United States as an independent nation. 

As per the terms of the treaty, Cuddalore was then returned to the British in exchange for Mahé and Pondicherry to France, two French territories which had been captured by the British during the 1758 Battle of Cuddalore.

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