At the turn of the new century, i.e. 19th century, the Marathas were still a dominant force in the western and central India. So the East India Company decided to vanquish them and control these areas. At that time, Marathas were not united; rather they were fighting each other bitterly for supremacy. This scenario made it easy for the Britishers to achieve their goal. Additionally, the Marathas had not given up their desultory method of warfare, and had learnt to concentrate their troops, and this made the task of crushing them easier for General Wellesley. This General fought a series of battles against different Maratha clans from 1803 onward. Finally he was replaced by Cornwallis under whose regime the conflict between the British and Marathas came to an end. These battles are known as “Second Anglo-Maratha War.”
Battle of Assye
He defeated the troops of Scindia and Bhonsle in the battle of Assye in 1803, and again met and defeated the army of Bhonsle at Argaon in the same year. Maratha power in the Deccan was completely broken by these decisive battles, and Bhonsle signed the treaty of Deogaon, giving up Orissa and Berar. The former was retained by the British, and the latter was ceded to the Nizam of the Deccan.
Battle of Laswari
In Northern India, General Lake was equally successful. He defeated Scindia’s troops and triumphantly entered Delhi in 1803, and this year may therefore be taken as the date of the establishment of British ascendancy in India. Lord Lake again defeated Scindia’s troops in the battle of Laswari, and Scindia was compelled to sign a treaty of peace in 1803, ceding the country between the Ganges and the Jamuna as well as Delhi and Agra to the British.
Holkar had watched the march of events so long, and now turned against the British. He compelled Colonel Monson to make a disastrous retreat to Agra with the loss of all his artillery, but Holkar’s army was defeated by General Lake at Deeg. Bharatpur was besieged by the British, but the attempt to storm the place was repulsed. The Raja of Bharatpur thought it was wise, however, to conclude peace with the British and to desert Holkar.
Meanwhile the Court of Directors were alarmed at Lord Wellesley’s interminable wars, and they sent out Lord Cornwallis in place of Lord Wellesley as Governor-General of India in 1805. Peace was thus once more restored in India and the power of Maratha got a fatal blow after Second Anglo Maratha War.