Goan colonel decorated in the Maratha army


Noted Goans during Peshwe era in Pune-2

One of the most decorated names in the Maratha army during the regime of Bajirao II, was Lt Col. Jose Antonio Pinto. He belonged to the famous Pinto family of Candolim, one of the wealthiest and noblest families in Goa during the 18th century.

This family was decorated with two Coats of Arms, a rare and most sought appreciation and privilege from the Portuguese government. Besides, his father and two brothers were associated with the well-known ‘Pinto’s Revolt of 1787’.

Jose Antonio Pinto was born on March 2, 1764, and was the first one to be baptised in the baptistery chapel of Candolim Church. In 1787, he went to Portugal for studies and then the same year, he went to France and then to Rome. Maybe he left Portugal hurriedly to escape the detention in connection with the ‘Pinto’s Revolt’, in which his father and two brothers were implicated.

His contemporary and Candolim boy, Jose Custodio Faria, (Abbe Faria, a pioneer/ inventor of Hypnotism) and his father Caetano Vitorino de Faria were in Portugal and then, in France during that period.

Jose Antonio Pinto studied at the Urban College of Propaganda Fide University in Rome. It is said that during his stay in Rome, he used to teach Konkani to a Spanish Jesuit scholar Fr Lorenzo Panduro. Jose Antonio studied Mathematics at this Urban College.

However, he had a passion for military strategy and wanted to make a career in the Army in India. Some suggest, he wanted to join Tippu Sultan. Tippu wanted to snatch Goa from the Portuguese with the help of Joseph Francois Dupleix, the French Governor in India at Pondicherry.

In 1799*, he returned to India and from Mumbai, he proceeded directly to Pune to join the Maratha army. Tippu Sultan was killed in 1799 during the battle at Srirangpatan with British forces.

With his valour and military acumen, he became lieutenant colonel of a cavalry unit. He was with Peshwe till their final defeat in 1818. Lt. Col. Pinto was on the battlefields of Khadki, Yerawada, Koregaon and Sholapur. He was severely injured during the war at Sholapur on May 10, 1818. He was left behind assuming he is dead. However, he survived and managed to return to Goa.

While back in Goa, he was offered to join the British army, but he declined. The Portuguese Viceroy too asked him to be a professor in the military academy in Goa, but he preferred to have a retired life devoting himself to agriculture, his other passion. He introduced a sugar mill to extract sugar from the sugarcane.

Jose Antonio was fluent in French and Italian, besides Konkani and Portuguese. He could also converse well in Marathi and Hindustani. In Maratha darbar, he was referred to as “Musa Pintu”. British writers like Grant Duff (History of Marathas) and William Wallace (Memories of India) have acclaimed his gallantry on the battlefield.

He married Anna Augusta de Souza of Siolim. He breathed his last on July 29, 1834, when he was 70 years.

(* the year mentioned about his return to India by Pandurang Pisunrlecar, Cunha Rivara and Louis Vas differ.)

The writer is an engineer by profession and author of two books. The present article is part of the forthcoming book 'Two Steps Back in Time' (A look at the Goan Catholic Community in Pune).
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