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Sir Eyre Coote

Sir Eyre CooteBorn: 1726
Birthplace: Kilmallock, County Limerick, Ireland
Died: 28-Apr-1783
Location of death: Madras, India
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Military

Nationality: Ireland
Executive summary: British soldier, fought Hyder Ali

British soldier, the son of a clergyman, born near Limerick, and entered the 27th regiment. He saw active service in the Jacobite rising of 1745, and some years later obtained a captaincy in the 39th regiment, which was the first British regiment sent to India. In 1756 a part of the regiment, then quartered at Madras, was sent forward to join Robert Clive in his operations against Calcutta, which was reoccupied without difficulty, and Coote was soon given the local rank of major for his good conduct in the surprise of the Nawab's camp. Soon afterwards came the battle of Plassey, which would in all probability not have taken place but for Coote's soldierly advice at the council of war; and after the defeat of the Nawab he led a detachment in pursuit of the French for 400 miles under extraordinary difficulties.

Coote's conduct won him the rank of lieutenant-colonel and the command of the 84th regiment, newly raised for Indian service, but his exertions seriously injured his health. In October 1759 his regiment arrived to take part in the decisive struggle between French and English in the Carnatic. He took command of the forces at Madras, and in 1760 led them in the decisive victory of Wandiwash (January 22). After a time the remnants of Lally's forces were shut up in Pondicherry. For some reason Coote was not entrusted with the siege operations, but he cheerfully and loyally supported Monson, who brought the siege to a successful end on the 15th of January 1761. Soon afterwards Coote was given the command of the East India Company's forces in Bengal, and conducted the settlement of a serious dispute between the Nawab Mir Cassim and a powerful subordinate, and in 1762 he returned to England, receiving a jewelled sword of honor from the Company and other rewards for his great services. In 1771 he was made a K.B.

In 1779 Coote returned to India as lieutenant-general commanding in chief. Following generally the policy of Warren Hastings, he nevertheless refused to take sides in the quarrels of the council, and made a firm stand in all matters affecting the forces. Hyder Ali's progress in southern India called him again into the field, but his difficulties were very great and it was not until the 1st of June 1781 that the crushing and decisive defeat of Porto Novo struck the first heavy blow at Hyder's schemes. The battle was won by Coote under most unfavorable conditions against odds of five to one, and is justly ranked as one of the greatest feats of the British in India. It was followed up by another hard-fought battle at Pollilur (the scene of an earlier triumph of Hyder over a British force) on the 27th of August, in which the British won another success, and by the rout of the Mysore troops at Sholingarh a month later. His last service was the arduous campaign of 1782, which finally shattered a constitution already gravely impaired by hardship and exertions. Sir Eyre Coote died at Madras on the 28th of April 1783. A monument was erected to him in Westminster Abbey.

    Knight of the British Empire 1771



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