Sharpe’s Triumph. India 1803, Sergeant Richard Sharpe witnesses a massacre by a British officer who defected from the East India Company to join the Mahratta Confederation. Sharpe penetrates deep into enemy territory where he faces unexpected temptations. Sergeant Hakeswill, Sharpe’s worst enemy, is in treacherous pursuit.
This treachery leads to the small village of Assaye where Sir Arthur Wellesley leading a 5,000 man British army faces the Mahratta horde of 15,000 men. Wellesley decides to fight, without waiting for nearby Colonel Stevenson’s British reinforcements, Sharpe is plunged into the maelstrom of battle which makes Wellesley’s reputation. Sharpe saves Wellesley’s life and is rewarded with a battlefield commission, a triumph.
The battle of Assaye happened as described in the novel. Sergeant Pohlmann, King’s German Legion and formerly of the East India Company commanded the Mahratta forces at Assaye as a Colonel. Desertion was a problem for the East India Company, Sepoys knew the Indian states would pay well for British trained troops.
Wellesley attacked the walls of Ahmednuggur in a surprise escalade (using assault ladders) 8th August 1803. Wellesley knew he would be seriously outnumbered in the Mahratta war, so, a display of arrogant confidence would abrade his enemies’ morale.
Wellesley detected a river ford at Peepulgoan by spurring his horse onto it, his orderly was killed (Sharpe was recruited as his replacement), as he approached the River Kaitna.
Diomed, Wellesley’s Irish bred horse, was killed during the fighting to secure the outflanked Mahratta gun line, he was surrounded by enemy soldiers, was his life saved by an unnamed soldier? Wellesley did promote two men for conspicuous bravery that evening at Assaye. Sharpe was promoted from the ranks. Wellesley outmanoeuvred and outfought a much larger enemy swiftly, brutally and brilliantly, without Colonel Stevenson’s help. Pohlmann’s forces suffered 1,200 killed and 5,000 wounded. The British suffered 456 dead and 1,200 wounded. Wellesley pursued the escaped Mahrattas to the hill fortress of Gawilghur.