The Battle of Wadgaon (12–13 January 1779) was a battle fought between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company near Vadgaon Maval village in Maharashtra and was part of the First Anglo-Maratha War.
The port of Bombay (Mumbai) had been under British rule since 1661. Towards the second half of the 18th century, with the rise of the Maratha Empire, the British felt the need to secure the port and taking control of the supply routes to it from Bassein (now known as Vasai) to the north and from Pune to the east, both of which were part of the Maratha Empire. Also, the Marathas had started negotiations with the French, which was alarming for the British.
With this objective, on 6 March 1775 the British entered into the Treaty of Surat with Raghunathrao who was a claimant to the Peshwa throne. As per the treaty, Raghunathrao would be installed as Peshwa and in return would cede Salsette and Bassein Fort to the British.
The East India Company’s force from Bombay consisted of about 3,900 men (about 600 Europeans, the rest Asian) accompanied by many thousands of servants and specialist workers. They were joined on the way by Raghunath Rao‘s forces, adding several thousand more soldiers, and more artillery.
The Maratha army included forces contributed by all the partners in the federation, tens of thousands in all, commanded by Tukojirao Holkar and General Mahadji Shinde.
Mahadji slowed down the British march and sent forces west to cut off its supply lines. When they found out about this, the British halted at Talegaon, a few hours’ brisk march from Pune, but days away for the thousands of support staff with their ox-drawn carts. Now the Maratha cavalry harassed the enemy from all sides. The Marathas also utilized a scorched earth strategy, vacating villages, removing food-grain stocks, burning farmland and poisoning wells.