The first in rank of the Polygars(feudal landlords) in Vishakhapatnam area of India, who all call themselves Rajahs, was Ranga Rao of Bobbili: the fort of this name stands close to the mountain about 140 miles north-east of Vizagapatam; the districts are about twenty square miles. There had long been a deadly hatred between this Polygar and Vijaya Rama Raju, whose person, how much so ever he feared his power, Ranga Rao held in the utmost contempt, as of low extraction, and of new note. Districts belonging to Vijaya Rama Raju adjoined to those of Bobbili, whose people diverted the water of the rivulets, and made depredations which Vijaya Rama Raju, for want of better military means, and from the nature of Ranga Rao’s country, could not retaliate. Vijaya Rama Raju used his utmost influence and arguments to persuade Mr Bussy of the necessity of removing this neighbour; and Mr Bussy proposed that he should quit his hereditary ground of Bobbili, in exchange for other lands of greater extent and value, in another part of the province; but Ranga Rao treated the proposal as an insult. Soon after, it became necessary to send a detachment of Sepoys to some districts at a distance, to which the shortest road lay through some part of the woods of Bobbili: permission was obtained; but, either by some contrivance of Vijaya Rama Raju, or the pre-determination of Ranga Rao, the detachment was sharply attacked, and obliged to retire with the loss of thirty sepoys killed, and more wounded. Vijaya Rama Raju improved this moment of indignation; and Mr Bussy, not foreseeing the terrible event to which he was proceeding, determined to reduce the whole country and to expel the Polygar and ail his family.
The province of Chicacole has few extensive plains, and its hills increase in frequency and magnitude, as they approach the vast range of mountains that bound this, and the province of Rajahmundrum to the north-west. The hills and the narrower bottoms which separate them, are suffered to over-run with wood, as the best protection to the opener vallies allotted for cultivation. The Polygar, besides his other towns and forts, has always one situated in the most difficult part of his country, which is intended as the last refuge for himself and all his own blood The singular construction of this fort is adequate to all the intentions of defence amongst a people unused to cannon, or other means of battery. Its outline is a regular square, which barely exceeds 200 yards; a large round tower is raised at each of the angles, and a square projection in the middle of each of the sides. The height of the wall is 22 feet, but of the rampart within only 12, which is likewise its breadth at top, although it is laid much broader at bottom; the whole is of tempered clay, raised in distinct layers, of which each is left exposed to the sun, until thoroughly hardened, before the next is applied The parapet rises 10 feet above the rampart, and is only three feet thick. It is indented five feet down from the top in interstices, six inches wide, which are three or four feet asunder. A foot above the bottom of these interstices and battlements, runs a line of round holes, another two feet lower, and a third within two feet of the rampart. These holes are, as usual, formed with pipes of baked clay: they serve for the employment of fire-arms, arrows, and lances; and the interstices for the freer use of all these arms, instead of loop-holes, which cannot be inserted or cut in the clay. The towers and the square projections in the middle, have the same parapet as the rest of the wall; and in two of the projections, on opposite sides of the fort, are gateways, of which the entrance is not in the front, but on one side, from whence it continues through half the mass, and then turns by a right angle into the place; and, on any alarm, the whole passage is choked up with trees, and the outside surrounded to some distance with a thick bed of strong brambles. The rampart and parapet are covered by a shed of strong thatch, supported by posts; the eaves of this shed project over the battlements, but fell so near, that a man can scarcely squeeze his body between: this shed is shelter both to the rampart and guards against the sun and rain. An area of 500 yards, or more, in every direction round the fort, is preserved clear, of which the circumference joins the high wood, which is kept thick, three, four, or five miles in breadth around this centre. Few of these forts permit more than one path through the wood. The entrance of the path from without is defended by a wall, exactly similar in construction and strength to one of the sides of the fort; having its round towers at the ends, and the square, projection with its gateway in the middle. From natural sagacity, they never raise this redoubt on the edge of the wood; but at the bottom of a recess, cleared on purpose, and on each aide of the recess, raise breast works of earth or hedge, to gall the approach. The path admits only three men abreast, winds continually, is everywhere commanded by breastworks in the thickest, and has in its course several redoubts, similar to that of the entrance, and, like that, flanked by breast-works on each hand. Such were the defences of Bobbili; against which Mr Bussy marched with 750 Europeans, of whom 250 were horse, four field pieces and 11,000 Peons and Sepoys, the army of Vijaya Rama Raju, who commanded them in person.”
” Whilst the field-pieces plied the parapet of the first redoubt at the entrance of the wood, detachments entered into the side of the recess with fire and hatchet, and began to make a way, which tended to bring them in the rear of the redoubt; and the guard, as soon as convinced of their danger, abandoned their station, and joined those in the posts behind; the same operations continued through the whole path, which was five miles in length, and with the same success, although not without loss. When in sight of the fort, Mr Bussy divided his troops into four divisions, allotting one with the field-piece, to the attack of each of the towers. Ranga Rao was here, with all his parentage, 250 men bearing arms, and nearly twice this number of women and children.
”The attack commenced at daybreak, on the 24th January 1757, with the field pieces against the four towers; and the defenders, lest fire might catch the thatch of the rampart, had pulled it down. By nine o’clock, several of the battlements were broken, when all the leading parties of the four divisions advanced at the same time with scaling ladders; but, alter much endeavour for an hour, not a man had been able to get over the parapet; and many had fallen wounded; other parties followed with as little success, until all were so fatigued, that a cessation was ordered, during which the field-pieces, having beaten down more of the parapet, gave the second attack more advantage; but the ardour of the defence increased with the danger. The garrison fought with the indignant ferocity of wild beasts, defending their dens and families: several of them stood, as in defiance, on the top of the battlements, and endeavoured to grapple with the first ascendants, hoping with them to twist the ladders down; and this failing, stabbed with their lances, but being wholly exposed themselves, were easily shot by aim from the rear of the escalade. The assailants admired, for no Europeans had ever seen such excess of courage in the natives of Hindostan, and continually offered quarter, which was always answered by the menace and intention of death: not a man had gained the rampart at two o’clock in the afternoon, when another cessation of the attack ensued; on which Ranga Rao assembled the princpal men, told them that there was no hopes of maintaining the fort, and that it was immediately necessary to preserve their wives and children from the violation of Europeans, and the more ignominious authority of Vijaya Rama Raju. A number called without distinction, were allotted to the work; they proceeded, every man with a torch, his lance, and poignard, to the habitations in the middle of the fort, to which they set fire indiscriminately, plying the flame with straw prepared with pitch and brimstone, and every man stabbed without remorse, the woman or child, which so ever attempted to escape the flame and suffocation. Not the helpless infant, clinging to the bosom of its mother, saved the life of either from the hand of the husband and father. The utmost excess whether of revenge or rage, were exceeded by the atrocious prejudice which dictated and performed this horrible sacrifice. The massacre being finished, those who accomplished it returned, like men agitated by the furies, to die themselves on the walls, Mr Law who commanded one of the divisions, observed, whilst looking at the conflagration, that the number of the defenders was considerably diminished, and advanced again to the attack: after several ladders had failed, a few grenadiers got over the parapet, and maintained their footing in the tower until more secured the possession. Ranga Rao hastening to the defence of the tower, was in this instant killed by a musket-ball. His fall increased, if possible, the desperation of his friends; who, crowding to revenge his death, left the other parts of the ramparts bare; and the other divisions of the French troops, having advanced likewise to their respective attack numbers on all aides got over the parapet without opposition: nevertheless, none of the defenders quitted the rampart, or would accept quarter: but each fell advancing against, or struggling with, an antagonist; and even when fallen, and in the last agony, would resign his poignard only to death. The slaughter of the conflict being completed, another much more dreadful, presented itself in the area below; the transport of victory lost all its joy; all gazed on one another with silent astonishment and remorse, and the fiercest could not refuse a tear to the deplorable destruction spread before them. Whilst contemplating it, an old man leading a boy, was perceived advancing from a distant recess: he was welcomed with much attention and respect, and conducted by the crowd to Mr, Law to whom he presented the child with these words: ” This is the son of Ranga Rao, whom I have preserved against his father’s will” Another emotion now succeeded, and the preservation of this infant was felt by all as some alleviation to the horrible catastrophe, of which they had been the unfortunate authors. The tutor and the child were immediately sent to Mr Bussy, who, having heard of the condition of the fort, would not go into it, but remained in his tent, where he received the sacred captives with the humanity of a guardian appointed by the strongest claims of nature, and immediately commanded patents to be prepared, appointing the son lord of the territory which he had offered the father in exchange for the districts of Bobbili; and ordered them to be strictly guarded in the camp from the malevolence of enemies.”
”The ensuing night and the two succeeding days passed in the usual attentions, especially the care of the wounded, who were many; but in the middle of the third nighty the camp was alarmed by tumult in the quarter of Vijaya Rama Raju. Four of the soldiers of Ranga Rao, on seeing him fall, concealed themselves in an unfrequented part of the fort until the night was for advanced, when they dropped down the walls and speaking the same language, passed unsuspected through the quarters of Vijaya Rama Raju, and gained the neighbouring thickets; where they remained the two succeeding days, watching until the bustle of the camp had subsided; when two of them quitted their retreat, and having by their language again deceived those by whom they were questioned, got near the tent of Vijaya Rama Raju; then creeping on the ground they passed under, the back part, and entering the tent found him lying on his bed, alone and asleep. Vijaya Rama Raju was extremely corpulent, insomuch that he could scarcely raise himself from his seat without assistance: the two men, restraining their very breath, struck in the same instant with their poignards at his heart; the first groan brought in a sentinel, who fired, but missed; more immediately thronged in, but the murderers, heedless of themselves, cried out, pointing to the body, ” Look here! We are satisfied” They were instantly shot by the crowd, and mangled afterwards; but had stabbed Vijaya Rama Raju in thirty-two places. Had they failed, the other two remaining in the forest were bound by the same oath to perform the deed or perish in the attempt”