Clive led this force rapidly across the river and toward the fort, where the small British unit became separated from the sepoys and were enveloped by the Tanjorean cavalry. Clive was nearly cut down and the beachhead almost lost before reinforcements sent by Lawrence arrived to save the day. The daring move by Clive had an important consequence: the Tanjoreans abandoned the fort, which the British triumphantly occupied. The success prompted the Tanjorean rajah to open peace talks, which resulted in the British being awarded Devikottai and the costs of their expedition, and the British client was awarded a pension in exchange for renouncing his claim.
Lawrence wrote of Clive's action that "he behaved in courage and in judgment much beyond what could be expected from his years. On the expedition's return the process of restoring Madras was completed. Company officials, concerned about the cost of the military, slashed its size, denying Clive a promotion to captain in the process. Lawrence procured for Clive a position as the commissary at Fort St. George, a potentially lucrative posting its pay included commissions on all supply contracts.
The death of Asaf Jah I , the Nizam of Hyderabad, in sparked a struggle to succeed him that is known as the Second Carnatic War , which was also furthered by the expansionist interests of French Governor-General Dupleix. Dupleix had grasped from the first war that small numbers of disciplined European forces and well-trained sepoys could be used to tip balances of power between competing interests, and used this idea to greatly expand French influence in southern India.
For many years he had been working to negotiate the release of Chanda Sahib , a longtime French ally who had at one time occupied the throne of Tanjore, and sought for himself the throne of the Carnatic. Chanda Sahib had been imprisoned by the Marathas in ; by he had been released from custody and was building an army at Satara. The grandson, who was ruler of Bijapur , fled west to join Chanda Sahib, whose army was also reinforced by French troops sent by Dupleix.
Anwaruddin's son, Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah , fled to Trichinopoly where he sought the protection and assistance of the British. In thanks for French assistance, the victors awarded them a number of villages, including territory nominally under British sway near Cuddalore and Madras. Nasir Jung came south to Gingee in , where he requested and received a detachment of British troops.
Chanda Sahib's forces advanced to meet them, but retreated after a brief long-range cannonade. Nasir Jung pursued, and was able to capture Arcot and his nephew, Muzaffar Jung. Following a series of fruitless negotiations and intrigues, Nasir Jung was assassinated by a rebellious soldier. Dupleix was rewarded for French assistance with titled nobility and rule of the nizam's territories south of the Kistna River. His territories were "said to yield an annual revenue of over , rupees". Robert Clive was not in southern India for many of these events. In Clive was afflicted with some sort of nervous disorder, and was sent north to Bengal to recuperate.
He returned to Madras in This placed the British at Madras in a precarious position, since the latter was the last of their major allies in the area. The British company's military was also in some disarray, as Stringer Lawrence had returned to England in over a pay dispute, and much of the company was apathetic about the dangers the expanding French influence and declining British influence posed.
The weakness of the British military command was exposed when a force was sent from Madras to support Muhammed Ali at Trichinopoly, but its commander, a Swiss mercenary, refused to attack an outpost at Valikondapuram.
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Clive, who accompanied the force as commissary, was outraged at the decision to abandon the siege. He rode to Cuddalore, and offered his services to lead an attack on Arcot if he was given a captain's commission, arguing this would force Chanda Sahib to either abandon the siege of Trichinopoly or significantly reduce the force there. Madras and Fort St David could supply him with only Europeans, sepoys , and three small cannons; furthermore, of the eight officers who led them, four were civilians like Clive, and six had never been in action.
Clive, hoping to surprise the small garrison at Arcot, made a series of forced marches, including some under extremely rainy conditions. Although he did fail to achieve surprise, the garrison, hearing of the march being made under such arduous conditions, opted to abandon the fort and town; Clive occupied Arcot without firing a shot.
The fort was a rambling structure with a dilapidated wall a mile long too long for his small force to effectively man , and it was surrounded by the densely packed housing of the town. Its moat was shallow or dry, and some of its towers were insufficiently strong to use as artillery mounts. Clive did the best he could to prepare for the onslaught he expected. He made a foray against the fort's former garrison, encamped a few miles away, which had no significant effect. When the former garrison was reinforced by 2, men Chanda Sahib sent from Trichinopoly it reoccupied the town on 15 September.
That night Clive led most of his force out of the fort and launched a surprise attack on the besiegers. Because of the darkness, the besiegers had no idea how large Clive's force was, and they fled in panic. The next day Clive learned that heavy guns he had requested from Madras were approaching, so he sent most of his garrison out to escort them into the fort. That night the besiegers, who had spotted the movement, launched an attack on the fort. With only 70 men in the fort, Clive once again was able to disguise his small numbers, and sowed sufficient confusion against his enemies that multiple assaults against the fort were successfully repulsed.
That morning the guns arrived, and Chanda Sahib's men again retreated. Over the next week Clive and his men worked feverishly to improve the defences, aware that another 4, men, led by Chanda Sahib's son Raza Sahib and accompanied by a small contingent of French troops, was on its way. Most of these troops came from Pondicherry, not Trichinopoly, and thus did not have the effect Clive desired of raising that siege. Clive was forced to reduce his garrison to about men, sending the rest of his force to Madras in case the enemy army decided to go there instead.
Raza Sahib arrived at Arcot, and on 23 September occupied the town. That night Clive launched a daring attack against the French artillery, seeking to capture their guns. The attack very nearly succeeded in its object, but was reversed when enemy sniper fire tore into the small British force. Clive himself was targeted on more than one occasion; one man pulled him down and was shot dead.
The affair was a serious blow: 15 of Clive's men were killed, and another 15 wounded. Over the next month the besiegers slowly tightened their grips on the fort. Clive's men were subjected to frequent sniper attacks and disease, lowering the garrison size to He was heartened to learn that some 6, Maratha forces had been convinced to come to his relief, but that they were awaiting payment before proceeding.
The approach of this force prompted Raza Sahib to demand Clive's surrender; Clive's response was an immediate rejection, and he further insulted Raza Sahib by suggesting that he should reconsider sending his rabble of troops against a British-held position. The siege finally reached critical when Raza Sahib launched an all-out assault against the fort on 14 November. Clive's small force maintained its composure, and established killing fields outside the walls of the fort where the attackers sought to gain entry. Several hundred attackers were killed and many more wounded, while Clive's small force suffered only four British and two sepoy casualties.
The historian Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote a century later of the siege:. He was awakened by the alarm, and was instantly at his post After three desperate onsets, the besiegers retired behind the ditch. The struggle lasted about an hour His conduct during the siege made Clive famous in Europe.
The Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder described Clive, who had received no formal military training whatsoever, as the "heaven-born general", endorsing the generous appreciation of his early commander, Major Lawrence. Clive and Major Lawrence were able to bring the campaign to a successful conclusion. In , the first of the provisional Carnatic treaties was signed between Thomas Saunders, the Company president at Madras, and Charles Godeheu , the French commander who displaced Dupleix.
Mohammed Ali Khan Walajah was recognized as Nawab, and both nations agreed to equalize their possessions. When war again broke out in , during Clive's absence in Bengal, the French obtained successes in the northern districts , and it was Mohammed Ali Khan Walajah's efforts which drove them from their settlements. It was a result of this action and the increased British influence that in a firman decree came from the Emperor of Delhi, recognizing the British possessions in southern India. He left Madras for home, after ten years' absence, early in , but not before marrying Margaret Maskelyne, the sister of his friend Nevil Maskelyne who was afterwards well known as Astronomer Royal.
Clive also briefly sat as Member of Parliament for the Cornwall rotten borough of St Michael's , which then returned two Members, from to David at Cuddalore. Nearly years later in , illegally salvaged coins from Clive's treasure chest were offered for sale,  and in a portion of the coins were given to the South African government after protracted legal wrangling. Clive, now promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the British Army , took part in the capture of the fortress of Gheriah , a stronghold of the Maratha Admiral Tuloji Angre.
The action was led by Admiral James Watson and the British had several ships available, some Royal troops and some Maratha allies.
The overwhelming strength of the joint British and Maratha forces ensured that the battle was won with few losses. A fleet surgeon, Edward Ives, noted that Clive refused to take any part of the treasure divided among the victorious forces as was custom at the time. Following this action Clive headed to his post at Fort St. David and it was there he received news of twin disasters for the British. In June, Clive received news that the new Nawab had attacked the British at Kasimbazar and shortly afterwards on 20 June he had taken the fort at Calcutta.
Those British who were captured were placed in a punishment cell which became infamous as the Black Hole of Calcutta. In stifling summer heat, it was alleged that of the prisoners died as a result of suffocation or heat stroke. While the Black Hole became infamous in Britain, it is debatable whether the Nawab was aware of the incident. By Christmas , as no response had been received to diplomatic letters to the Nawab, Admiral Charles Watson and Clive were dispatched to attack the Nawab's army and remove him from Calcutta by force.
Their first target was the fortress of Baj-Baj which Clive approached by land while Admiral Watson bombarded it from the sea.
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The fortress was quickly taken with minimal British casualties. Shortly afterwards, on 2 January , Calcutta itself was taken with similar ease. Approximately a month later, on 3 February , Clive encountered the army of the Nawab itself.
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For two days, the army marched past Clive's camp to take up a position east of Calcutta. Sir Eyre Coote, serving in the British forces, estimated the enemy's strength as 40, cavalry, 60, infantry and thirty cannon. Even allowing for overestimation this was considerably more than Clive's force of approximately British infantry, Royal Navy sailors, local sepoys, fourteen field guns and no cavalry.
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The British forces attacked the Nawab's camp during the early morning hours of 5 February In this battle, unofficially called the 'Calcutta Gauntlet', Clive marched his small force through the entire Nawab's camp, despite being under heavy fire from all sides. By noon, Clive's force broke through the besieging camp and arrived safely at Fort William.
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During the assault, around one tenth of the British attackers became casualties. Clive reported his losses at 57 killed and wounded.
While technically not a victory in military terms, the sudden British assault intimidated the Nawab. He sought to make terms with Clive, and surrendered control of Calcutta on 9 February, promising to compensate the East India Company for damages suffered and to restore its privileges. As Britain and France were once more at war , Clive sent the fleet up the river against the French colony of Chandannagar , while he besieged it by land.
After consenting to the siege, the Nawab unsuccessfully sought to assist the French. Some officials of the Nawab's court formed a confederacy to depose him.