Fort St. George and Madras

James Lunt describes how, it was from Fort St. George, now incorporated in the busy modern city of Madras, that Stringer Lawrence laid the foundations of the Indian Army, and that Clive embarked on the conquest of Bengal.

The British visitor to Fort St. George in Madras who does not experience some stirring of the blood must indeed be lacking in imagination or in a feeling for history. For it was from here that Major Stringer Lawrence laid the foundations of the Indian Army; that Clive set forth to conquer Bengal; and Arthur Wellesley started to build the military reputation that was to flower at Waterloo. I know of nowhere else in India more evocative of memory for the British, although the days of the British raj are long since past, and India is now a great power in its own right.

The East India Company first came to Madras in 1639. In July or August of that year Francis Day, chief of the trading settlement at Pulicat, acquired from the local ruler trading rights and some land on which to build a factory. Early in 1640 he arrived in Madras, then known as Madraspatam, and constructed a small fort on the ground where the Madras Government Secretariat now stands within the walls of Fort St. George.

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