1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Boigne, Benoît de

BOIGNE, BENOÎT DE, Count (1751–1830), the first of the French military adventurers in India, was born at Chambéry in Savoy on the 8th of March 1751, being the son of a fur merchant. He joined the Irish Brigade in France in 1768, and subsequently he entered the Russian service and was captured by the Turks. Hearing of the wealth of India, he made his way to that country, and after serving for a short time in the East India Company, he resigned and joined Mahadji Sindhia in 1784 for the purpose of training his troops in the European methods of war. In the battles of Lalsot and Chaksana Boigne and his two battalions proved their worth by holding the field when the rest of the Mahratta army was defeated by the Rajputs. In the battle of Agra (1788) he restored the Mahratta fortunes, and made Mahadji Sindhia undisputed master of Hindostan. This success led to his being given the command of a brigade of ten battalions of infantry, with which he won the victories of Patan and Merta in 1790. In consequence Boigne was allowed to raise two further brigades of disciplined infantry, and made commander-in-chief of Sindhia’s army. In the battle of Lakhairi (1793) he defeated Holkar’s army. On the death of Mahadji Sindhia in 1794, Boigne could have made himself master of Hindostan had he wished it, but he remained loyal to Daulat Rao Sindhia. In 1795 his health began to fail, and he resigned his command, and in the following year returned to Europe with a fortune of £400,000. He lived in retirement during the lifetime of Napoleon, but was greatly honoured by Louis XVIII. He died on the 21st of June 1830.

See H. Compton, European Military Adventurers of Hindustan (1892).