Possibly, the only action in which Arthur Wellesley, the famed Duke Wellington was on the receiving end and was clueless as to what to do was at Sultanpet Tope. On 5 April 1799, the British decided to clear the tope(grove) at Sultanpet near Srirangapatna to ensure Tipu’s soldiers dont use it to harass the British lines. To add insult to injury, leader of the opposition who defeated the younger Wellesley is but a simple Brahmin accountant without any proper military experience.
On the fall of Bangalore and the British advance on Srirangapatna, Tipu sent some soldiers under Diwan Purnaiah, his Revenue Minister to lay wait at Sultanpet and attack the advancing British. Wellesley took the King’s 33rd Regiment of Foot which he was commanding to clear the tope on the night of 5th April 1799. Purnaiah launched a rocket barrage at the Britishers, who at the sudden onslaught, were clueless as to what to do and ran helter skelter trying to avoid the rockets. Wellesley himself was injured when a musket ball hit him in the knee and narrowly avoided capture while 12 of his compatriots were captured and executed at Srirangapatna. The word compatriot was used since he was no more the master of the show. After his injury, he simply went to his camp and slept off the night. The tope was cleared the next morning without the loss of a single soldier. Quoting, “he was set upon with rockets and musket-fires, lost his way and, as Beatson politely puts it, had to “postpone the attack” until a more favourable opportunity should offer”. The fact that the Duke was in a position to draw the plan of the tope forty years later for Philip Guedalla is sufficient to tell us how vividly he remembered the attack.