by Raymond Callahan
Harvard University Press, 1972
Cloth: 978-0-674-22410-0
Library of Congress Classification UA842.C34
Dewey Decimal Classification 355.30954


Here is the first detailed study of the British government's late eighteenth-century attempt to reorganize the East India Company's army. The defeat of that attempt by the Company's officers involved the ruin of the governor-general, Sir John Shore, whose "failure" in dealing with the officers has been held against him by generations of historians.

Tracing the events from three points of view--those of the British government, the Company's government in Calcutta, and the officers of the Company's service--Raymond Callahan shows that the aspects of the Company's service which struck observers in London as inefficient and corrupt were, in the officers' view, precisely those things that made the Company's service worth entering. Barred by lack of wealth or social standing from the King's service, the officers looked upon their hazardous Indian exile as a chance to build their fortunes. The Company's service, especially its rule of promotion by strict seniority, was designed to facilitate this, and any attempt to restructure it was bound to provoke the opposition and resentment of the Company's officers. Failure to comprehend this fact on the part of both Shore's predecessor, Lord Cornwallis, and the British government made the subsequent clash inevitable.

Callahan concludes that Shore handled the officers in the only way open to him and that he was the victim of the mistakes of Cornwallis, whose service as governor-general has heretofore been considered a success.

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