During the 18th century, the imperial super-powers of Europe were all in India, trying to carve it up to serve their ambitions. Poor Puducherry had once been a calm and reasonably prosperous fishing region, until the French arrived in 1673.
Since then, it had been the scene of much conflict, ranging from a brief skirmish through to full blown battles. The French had lost it to the Dutch, who had then been forced to hand back control. Now the British wanted the ports.
The Swallow was sent there in August 1748. The fighting was ferocious, but Hannah conducted herself with bravery and skill. The battle ended with a French win, but Hannah survived unscathed.
She wasn't so lucky at the Battle of Devicotta, aka the Seige of Devikottai, on 23rd June 1749.
There was a garrison of 5,000 people inside the fort. These weren't colonists from Europe, but local people with long historical roots in the area. Led by the Rajah of Tanjore, Pratap Singh, they were determined to not become part of anyone's Empire. They'd already repelled an earlier British invasion, just a couple of months before.
On that day in June, the scene was one of carnage. As each naval ship docked, it was bombarded by fire arrows from the fortress above. There was no way to disembark, except by rafts from ship to shoreline. All the while, death came swiftly at the hands of the defenders, inside and outside the Devi-Cottah gates.
Hannah was just one of 800 British soldiers and 1,500 sepoys (Indian soldiers pressed into service) that day. She traveled into that port and was ferried through the fire on a raft. Then, and in the fierce fighting that ensued, she was hit in the leg and groin no less than eleven times, and must have thought that her time had come to die.
She survived. Her injuries were severe, but they were treated and she was eventually carried safely away on the Swallow. The British took the fort and still no-one guessed that Hannah was female, even as she sought medical assistance.
For her valor and service, on that day and others, she would later be awarded a military pension. That was not given out lightly, and it was practically unheard of for it to be given to a woman. Hannah Snell got it though. She earned it.