First Anglo-Burmese War - History

First Anglo-Burmese War - History

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On February 24, 1824 the first Anglo-Burmese war began when the British declared war on Burma. The Burmese had captured the island of Shahpuri in violation of the rights that East India Company claimed. The British captured Rangoon on May 11th.

First Anglo-Burmese War

The First Anglo-Burmese War, also known as the First Burma War, (Burmese: ပထမ အင်္ဂလိပ် မြန်မာ စစ် [pətʰəma̰ ɪ́ɴɡəleiʔ mjəmà sɪʔ] 5 March 1824 – 24 February 1826) was the first of three wars fought between the British and Burmese empires in the 19th century. The war, which began primarily over the control of Northeastern India, ended in a decisive British victory, giving the British total control of Assam, Manipur, Cachar and Jaintia as well as Arakan Province and Tenasserim. The Burmese were also forced to pay an indemnity of one million pounds sterling, and sign a commercial treaty. [1] [2]

Fifteen thousand European and Indian soldiers died, together with an unknown number of Burmese military and civilian casualties. The high cost of the campaign to the British, 5–13 million pounds sterling (£375 million-£976 million as of 2015), [3] [4] contributed to a severe economic crisis in British India which cost the East India Company its remaining privileges. [5]

For the Burmese Empire, it was the beginning of the end of their independence. The Third Burmese Empire, for a brief time the terror of British India, was crippled and no longer a threat to the eastern frontier of British India. [4] The Burmese would be crushed for years to come by repaying the large indemnity of one million pounds (then US$5 million), a large sum at that time. [2] The British would wage two more wars against a much-weakened Burma, and swallow up the entire country by 1885.


Judson was born on August 9, 1788, in Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He was born to Adoniram Judson, Sr., a Congregational minister, and Abigail (née Brown). Judson entered the College of Rhode Island & Providence Plantations (now Brown University) when he was sixteen, and graduated as valedictorian of his class at the age of nineteen. While studying at college, he met a young man named Jacob Eames, a devout deist and skeptic. Judson and Eames developed a strong friendship, leading to Judson's abandonment of his childhood faith and parents' religious instruction. During this time, Judson embraced the writings of the French philosophes. After graduating from college, Judson opened a school and wrote an English grammar and mathematics textbook for girls.

Judson's deist views were shaken when his friend Eames fell violently ill and died. Both had been sleeping in separate rooms at an inn, and Judson heard the death throes of the person next door, only to learn from the clerk the next morning that his anonymous neighbor had been Mr. Eames, who had indeed died. The shock of learning the dying neighbor's identity – and that Eames had led Judson away from the Christian faith into skepticism, but was now dead – returned Judson back to the faith of his youth, although he was already attending the Andover Theological Seminary. [2] In 1808, Judson "made a solemn dedication of himself to God". [3] During his final year at the school, Judson decided upon a missionary career.

In 1810, Judson joined a group of mission-minded students who called themselves "the Brethren". The students inspired the establishment of America's first organized missionary society. [4] [ circular reference ] Eager to serve abroad, Judson became convinced that "Asia with its idolatrous myriads, was the most important field in the world for missionary effort". He, and three other students from the seminary, appeared before the Congregationalists' General Association to appeal for support. In 1810, impressed by the four men's politeness and sincerity, the elders voted to form the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Marriage Edit

On September 19, Judson was appointed by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions as a missionary to the East. Judson was also commissioned by the Congregational Church, and soon married Ann Hasseltine on February 5, 1812. He was ordained the next day at the Tabernacle Church in Salem. On February 19, he set sail aboard the brig Caravan with Luther Rice Samuel and Harriet Newell and his wife, Ann (known as "Nancy") Judson.

Voyage to India Edit

The Judsons arrived in Calcutta on June 17, 1812. While aboard ship en route to India, he did a focused study on the theology of baptism. He came to the position that believer's baptism was theologically valid and should be done as a matter of obedience to the command of Jesus (Matthew 28:19–20).

On September 6, 1812, he switched to the Baptist denomination along with his wife and they were baptized by immersion in Calcutta by an English missionary associate of William Carey named William Ward.

Both the local and British authorities did not want Americans evangelizing Hindus in the area, so the group of missionaries separated and sought other mission fields. They were ordered out of India by the British East India Company, to whom American missionaries were even less welcome than British (they were baptized in September, and already in June, the United States had declared war on England). The following year, on July 13, 1813, he moved to Burma, and en route his wife miscarried their first child aboard ship.

Judson offered to Baptists in the United States to serve as their missionary. Luther Rice, who had also converted, was in poor health and returned to America where his work and William Carey's urging resulted in the 1814 formation of the first national Baptist denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions (commonly called the Triennial Convention) and its offshoot the American Baptist Missionary Union.

Missionaries in Burma Edit

It was another difficult year before the Judsons finally reached their intended destination, Burma. Buddhist Burma, Judson was told by the Serampore Baptists, was impermeable to Christian evangelism. Judson, who already knew Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, immediately began studying the Burmese grammar but took over three years learning to speak it. This was due, in part, to the radical difference in structure between Burmese and that of Western languages. He found a tutor and spent twelve hours per day studying the language. He and his wife firmly dedicated themselves to understanding it.

During this time they were almost entirely isolated from contact with any European or American. This was the case for their first three years in Burma. Four years passed before Judson dared even to hold a semi-public service. At first, he tried adapting to Burmese customs by wearing a yellow robe to mark himself as a teacher of religion, but he soon changed to white to show he was not a Buddhist. Then, he gave up the whole attempt as artificial and decided that, regardless of his dress, no Burmese would identify him as anything but a foreigner.

He accommodated to some Burmese customs and built a zayat, the customary bamboo and thatch reception shelter, on the street near his home as a reception room and meeting place for Burmese men. Fifteen men came to his first public meeting in April 1819. He was encouraged but suspected they had come more out of curiosity than anything else. Their attention wandered, and they soon seemed uninterested. Two months later, he baptized his first Burmese convert, Maung Naw, a 35-year-old timber worker from the hill tribes. "Burma Baptist Chronicle" stated that Maung Naw (Nai Naw) was an ethnic Mon. [5]

First attempts by the Judsons to interest the natives of Rangoon with the Gospel of Jesus met with almost total indifference. Buddhist traditions and the Burmese world view at that time led many to disregard the pleadings of Adoniram and his wife to believe in one living and all-powerful God. To add to their discouragement, their second child, Roger William Judson, died at almost eight months of age.

Judson completed translation of the Grammatical Notices of the Burman Language the following July and the Gospel of Matthew, in 1817. Judson began public evangelism in 1818 sitting in a zayat by the roadside calling out "Ho! Everyone that thirsteth for knowledge!" [ citation needed ] The first believer was baptized in 1819, and there were 18 believers by 1822. [6]

In 1820, Judson and a fellow missionary named Colman attempted to petition the Emperor of Burma, King Bagyidaw, in the hope that he would grant freedom for the missionaries to preach and teach throughout the country, as well as remove the sentence of death that was given for those Burmese who changed religion.

Bagyidaw disregarded their appeal and threw one of their Gospel tracts to the ground after reading a few lines. The missionaries returned to Rangoon and met with the fledgling church there to consider what to do next. The progress of Christianity would continue to be slow with much risk of endangerment and death in the Burmese Empire.

It took Judson 12 years to make 18 converts. Nevertheless, there was much to encourage him. He had written a grammar of the language that is still in use today and had begun to translate the Bible.

His wife, Ann, was even more fluent in the spoken language of the people than her more academically literate husband. She befriended the wife of the viceroy of Rangoon, as quickly as she did illiterate workers and women.

A printing press had been sent from Serampore, and a missionary printer, George H. Hough, who arrived from America with his wife in 1817, produced the first printed materials in Burmese ever printed in Burma, which included 800 copies of Judson's translation of the Gospel of Matthew. The chronicler of the church, Maung Shwe Wa, concludes this part of the story, "So was born the church in Rangoon–logger and fisherman, the poor and the rich, men and women. One traveled the whole path to Christ in three days another took two years. But once they had decided for Christ they were his for all time." [ This quote needs a citation ]

One of the early disciples was U Shwe Ngong, a teacher and leader of a group of intellectuals dissatisfied with Buddhism, who were attracted to the new faith. He was a Deist skeptic to whose mind the preaching of Judson, once a college skeptic himself, was singularly challenging. After consideration, he assured Judson that he was ready to believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the atonement.

Judson, instead of welcoming him to the faith, pressed him further asking if he believed what he had read in the gospel of Matthew that Jesus the son of God died on the cross. U Shwe Ngong shook his head and said, "Ah, you have caught me now. I believe that he suffered death, but I cannot believe he suffered the shameful death on the cross." [ This quote needs a citation ] Not long after, he came back to tell Judson, "I have been trusting in my own reason, not the word of God…. I now believe the crucifixion of Christ because it is contained in scripture."

The essence of Judson's preaching was a combination of conviction of the truth with the rationality of the Christian faith, a firm belief in the authority of the Bible, and a determination to make Christianity relevant to the Burmese mind without violating the integrity of Christian truth, or as he put it, "to preach the gospel, not anti-Buddhism."

By 1823, ten years after his arrival, membership of the little church had grown to 18, and Judson had finally finished the first draft of his translation of the entire text of the New Testament in Burmese.

Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826) Edit

Two irreconcilable hungers triggered the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824: Burma's desire for more territory, and Britain's desire for more trade. Burma threatened Assam and Bengal Britain responded by attacking and absorbing two Burmese provinces into her India holdings to broaden her trade routes to East Asia. The war was a rough interruption of the Baptists' missionary work. English-speaking Americans were too easily confused with the enemy and suspected of spying.

Judson was imprisoned for 17 months during the war between the United Kingdom and Burma, first at Ava and then at Aung Pinle. Judson and Price were violently arrested. Officers led by an official executioner burst into the Judson home, threw Judson to the ground in front of his wife, bound him with torture thongs, and dragged him off to the infamous, vermin-ridden death prison of Ava.

Twelve agonizing months later, Judson and Price, along with a small group of surviving Western prisoners, were marched overland, barefoot and sick, for six more months of misery in a primitive village near Mandalay. Of the sepoy British prisoners-of-war imprisoned with them, all but one died.

The sufferings and brutalities of those 20 long months and days in prison, half-starved, iron-fettered, and sometimes trussed and suspended by his mangled feet with only head and shoulders touching the ground is described in detail by his wife, shortly after his release.

Ann was perhaps the greater model of supreme courage. Heedless to all threats against herself, left alone as the only Western woman in an absolute and anti-Christian monarchy at war with the West, beset with raging fevers and nursing a tiny baby that her husband had not yet seen, she rushed from office to office in desperate attempts to keep her husband alive and win his freedom.

The end of the war should have been a time of rejoicing for the mission. As soon as her husband was released by the Burmese, Ann wrote that one good result of the war could be that terms of the treaty which ceded Burmese provinces to the British might provide opportunity to expand the witness of the mission into unreached parts of the country.

On October 24, 1826, Ann died at Amherst (now Kyaikkami), Burma, a victim of the long, dreadful months of disease, death, stress and loneliness that had been hers for 21 months. Their third child died six months later. She died while her husband was out exploring the ceded province of Tenasserim. It was in the wild hills of that newly British province of Tenasserim that the first signs of rapid growth in Protestant Christianity in Burma began. Within a few years of the end of the war, Baptist membership doubled on an average of every eight years for the 32 years between 1834 and 1866.

The collapse of Burma's armies brought Judson out of prison, but his release was not complete freedom. In 1826, several months after the surrender, Burma pressed Judson into service as a translator for the peace negotiations. Some have used Judson's acceptance of a role in the treaty negotiations as evidence of complicity in imperialism, but he first acted on behalf of the defeated Burmese as translator, not for the Western victors.

Three significant factors had a part, though not the only part, in the rise of the Burmese Baptist churches. Most of the growth was in British-ruled territory, rather than the Burmese-ruled kingdom. It may also be significant that after an Anglo-Burmese war, the missionaries were American, not British. The most telling factor was religion. Most of the growth came from animist tribes, rather than from the major population group, the Buddhist Burmese. The first Burmese pastor he ordained was Ko-Thah-a, one of the original group of converts, who refounded the church at Rangoon.

Karen apostle Edit

While the nation was Burmese, a lost province of Great Britain, and the missionaries were American, the apostle of that first numerically significant evangelistic breakthrough was neither Burman, British, nor American. He was a Karen, Ko Tha Byu. Credit is due also to the three missionary pioneers to the Karen people, George Boardman and his wife, Sarah and Adoniram Judson.

The Karen people were a primitive, hunted minority group of ancient Tibeto-Burman ancestry scattered in the forests and jungles of the Salween River and in the hills along the southeast coast. Judson was the first missionary to make contact with them in 1827, when he ransomed and freed a debt-slave from one of his early converts. The freed slave, Ko Tha Byu, was an illiterate, surly man who spoke almost no Burmese and was reputed to be not only a thief, but also a murderer who admitted killing at least 30 men, but could not remember exactly how many more.

In 1828, the former Karen bandit, "whose rough, undisciplined genius, energy and zeal for Christ" (Sarah B Judson) had caught the notice of the missionaries, was sent south with a new missionary couple, the Boardmans, into the territory of the strongly animistic, non-Buddhist Karen. Ko Tha Byu was no sooner baptized, when he set off into the jungle alone to preach to his fellow tribe members. Astonishingly, he found them prepared for his preaching. Their ancient oracle traditions, handed down for centuries, contained some startling echoes of the Old Testament that some scholars conjecture a linkage with Jewish communities (or possibly even Nestorians), before their migrations from western China into Burma perhaps as early as the 12th century.

The core of what they called their "Tradition of the Elders" was a belief in an unchangeable, eternal, all-powerful God, creator of heaven and earth, of man, and of woman formed from a rib taken from the man (Genesis). They believed in humanity's temptation by a devil, and its fall, and that some day a Great Messiah would come to its rescue. They lived in expectation of a prophecy that white foreigners would bring them a sacred parchment roll.

While the Boardmans and Ko Tha Byu were penetrating the jungles to the south, Judson shook off a paralyzing year-long siege of depression that overcame him after the death of his wife and set out alone on long canoe trips up the Salween River into the tiger-infested jungles to evangelize the northern Karen. Between trips, he worked unceasingly at his lifelong goal of translating the entire Bible into Burmese. When he finished it at last in 1834, he had been labouring on it for 24 years. It was printed and published in 1835.

In April of that same year, he married Sarah Hall Boardman, widow of fellow missionary George Boardman. They had eight children, five of whom survived to adulthood. Sarah's health began failing and physicians recommended a return to America. Sarah died en route at St. Helena on September 1, 1845. He continued home, where he was greeted as a celebrity and toured the eastern seaboard raising the profile of and money for missionary activity. Because he could barely speak above a whisper, due to pulmonary illness, his public addresses were made by speaking to an assistant, who would then address the audience. [7]

On June 2, 1846, Judson married for the third time, to writer Emily Chubbuck, [2] who he had commissioned to write memoirs for Sarah Hall Boardman. They had a daughter born in 1847.

Judson lived to approve and welcome the first single women as missionaries to Burma. A general rule of the mission had hitherto prevented such appointments. Judson said it was "probably a good rule, but our minds should not be closed" [ citation needed ] to making exceptions. The first two exceptions were extraordinary.

Sarah Cummings and Jason Tuma arrived in 1832. Cummings proved her mettle at once, choosing to work alone with Karen evangelists in the malaria-ridden Salween River valley north of Moulmein, but within two years she died of fever.

In 1835, a second single woman, Eleanor Macomber, after five years of mission to the Ojibway Indians in Michigan, joined the mission in Burma. Alone, with the help of Karen evangelistic assistants, she planted a church in a remote Karen village and nurtured it to the point where it could be placed under the care of an ordinary missionary. She lived there five years and died of jungle fever.

Judson developed a serious lung disease and doctors prescribed a sea voyage as a cure. On April 12, 1850, he died at age 61 on board ship in the Bay of Bengal and was buried at sea, having spent 37 years in missionary service abroad with only one trip back home to America. A memorial to Judson was built on Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts. [8]

During the 19th century there were three Burmese Wars or Anglo-Burmese Wars. The expansion of Burma had consequences along its frontiers.

As those frontiers moved ever closer to the British East India Company and later the British India, there were problems both with refugees and military operations spilling over ill-defined borders. Eventually these wars resulted in the gradual extinction of Burmese independence.

First Burmese War, 1823-26

On the 23rd of September 1823 an armed party of Burmese attacked a British guard on Shapura, an island close to the Chittagong side, killing and wounding six of the guard. Two Burmese armies, one from Manipur and another from Assam, also entered Cachar, which was under British protection, in January 1824. War with Burma was formally declared on the 5th of March 1824.

On the 17th of May a Burmese force invaded Chittagong and drove a mixed sepoy and police detachment from its position at Ramu, but did not follow up its success. The British rulers in India, however, had resolved to carry the war into the enemy's country an armament, under Commodore Charles Grant and Sir Archibald Campbell, entered the Rangoon river, and anchored off the town on the 10th of May 1824.

After a feeble resistance the place, then little more than a large stockaded village, was surrendered, and the troops were landed. The place was entirely deserted by its inhabitants, the provisions were carried off or destroyed, and the invading force took possession of a complete solitude. On the 28th of May Sir A. Campbell ordered an attack on some of the nearest posts, which were all carried after a steadily weakening defense.

Another attack was made on the 10th of June on the stockades at the village of Kemmendine. Some of these were battered by artillery from the war vessels in the river, and the shot and shells had such effect on the Burmese that they evacuated them, after a very unequal resistance. It soon, however, became apparent that the expedition had been undertaken with very imperfect knowledge of the country, and without adequate provision.

The devastation of the country, which was part of the defensive system of the Burmese, was carried out with unrelenting rigor, and the invaders were soon reduced to great difficulties. The health of the men declined, and their ranks were fearfully thinned. The monarch of Ava sent large reinforcements to his dispirited and beaten army and early in June an attack was commenced on the British line, but proved unsuccessful.

On the 8th the British assaulted. The enemy were beaten at all points and their strongest stockaded works, battered to pieces by a powerful artillery, were in general abandoned. With the exception of an attack by the prince of Tharrawaddy in the end of August, the enemy allowed the British to remain unmolested during the months of July and August. This interval was employed by Sir A. Campbell in subduing the Burmese provinces of Tavoy and Mergui, and the whole coast of Tenasserim. This was an important conquest, as the country was salubrious and afforded convalescent stations to the sick, who were now so numerous in the British army that there were scarcely 3000 soldiers fit for duty. An expedition was about this time sent against the old Portuguese fort and factory of Syriam, at the mouth of the Pegu river, which was taken and in October the province of Martaban was reduced under the authority of the British.

The rainy season terminated about the end of October and the court of Ava, alarmed by the discomfiture of its armies, recalled the veteran legions which were employed in Arakan, under their renowned leader Maha Bandula. Bandula hastened by forced marches to the defence of his country and by the end of November an army of 60,000 men had surrounded the British position at Rangoon and Kemmendine, for the defense of which Sir Archibald Campbell had only 5000 efficient troops. The enemy in great force made repeated attacks on Kemmendine without success, and on the 7th of December Bandula was defeated in a counter attack made by Sir A. Campbell. The fugitives retired to a strong position on the river, which they again entrenched and here they were attacked by the British on the 15th, and driven in complete confusion from the field.

Sir Archibald Campbell now resolved to advance on Prome, about 100 m. higher up the Irrawaddy river. He moved with his force on the 13th of February 1825 in two divisions, one proceeding by land, and the other, under General Willoughby Cotton, destined for the reduction of Danubyu, being embarked on the flotilla. Taking the command of the land force, he continued his advance till the 11th of March, when intelligence reached him of the failure of the attack upon Danubyu. He instantly commenced a retrograde march on the 27th he effected a junction with General Cotton's force, and on the 2nd of April entered the entrenchments at Danubyu without resistance, Bandula having been killed by the explosion of a bomb. The English general entered Prome on the 25th, and remained there during the rainy season. On the 17th of September an armistice was concluded for one month. In the course of the summer General Joseph Morrison had conquered the province of Arakan in the north the Burmese were expelled from Assam and the British had made some progress in Cachar, though their advance was finally impeded by the thick forests and jungle.

The armistice having expired on the 3rd of November, the army of Ava, amounting to 60,000 men, advanced in three divisions against the British position at Prome, which was defended by 3000 Europeans and 2000 native troops. But the British still triumphed, and after several actions, in which the Burmese were the assailants and were partially successful, Sir A. Campbell, on the 1st of December, attacked the different divisions of their army, and successively drove them from all their positions, and dispersed them in every direction. The Burmese retired on Malun, along the course of the Irrawaddy, where they occupied, with 10,000 or 12,000 men, a series of strongly fortified heights and a formidable stockade. On the 26th they sent a flag of truce to the British camp and negotiations having commenced, peace was proposed to them on the following conditions: (1) The cession of Arakan, together with the provinces of Mergui, Tavoy and Ye (2) the renunciation by the Burmese sovereign of all claims upon Assam and the contiguous petty states (3) the Company to be paid a crore of rupees as an indemnification for the expenses of the war (4) residents from each court to be allowed, with an escort of fifty men while it was also stipulated that British ships should no longer be obliged to unship their rudders and land their guns as formerly in the Burmese ports.

This treaty was agreed to and signed, but the ratification of the king was still wanting and it was soon apparent that the Burmese had no intention to sign it, but were preparing to renew the contest. On the 19th of January, accordingly, Sir A. Campbell attacked and carried the enemy's position at Malun. Another offer of peace was here made by the Burmese, but it was found to be insincere and the fugitive army made at the ancient city of Pagan a final stand in defense of the capital. They were attacked and overthrown on the 9th of February 1826 and the invading force being now within four days' march of Ava, Dr Price, an American missionary, who with other Europeans had been thrown into prison when the war commenced, was sent to the British camp with the treaty (known as the treaty of Yandaboo) ratified, the prisoners of war released, and an installment of 25 lakhs of rupees. The war was thus brought to a successful termination, and the British army evacuated the country.

Second Burmese War, 1852

On the 15th of March 1852 Lord Dalhousie sent an ultimatum to King Pagan, announcing that hostile operations would be commenced if all his demands were not agreed to by the 1st of April. Meanwhile a force consisting of 8100 troops had been despatched to Rangoon under the command of General H.T. Godwin, C.B., while Commodore Lambert commanded the naval contingent.

No reply being given to this letter, the first blow of the Second Burmese War was struck by the British on the 5th of April 1852, when Martaban was taken. Rangoon town was occupied on the 12th, and the Shwe Dagôn pagoda on the 14th, after heavy fighting, when the Burmese army retired northwards. Bassein was seized on the 19th of May, and Pegu was taken on the 3rd of June, after some sharp fighting round the Shwe-maw-daw pagoda.

During the rainy season the approval of the East India Company's court of directors and of the British government was obtained to the annexation of the lower portion of the Irrawaddy Valley, including Prome. Lord Dalhousie visited Rangoon in July and August, and discussed the whole situation with the civil, military and naval authorities. In consequence General Godwin occupied Prome on the 9th of October after but slight resistance.

Early in December Lord Dalhousie informed King Pagan that the province of Pegu would henceforth form part of the British dominions, and that if his troops resisted the measure his whole kingdom would be destroyed. The proclamation of annexation was issued on the 20th of January 1853, and thus the Second Burmese War was brought to an end without any treaty being signed.

Third Burmese War, 1885-86

The imposition of an impossible fine on the Bombay-Burma Trading Company, coupled with the threat of confiscation of all their rights and property in case of non-payment, led to the British ultimatum of the 22nd of October 1885 and by the 9th of November a practical refusal of the terms having been received at Rangoon, the occupation of Mandalay and the dethronement of King Thibaw were determined upon. At this time, beyond the fact that the country was one of dense jungle, and therefore most unfavorable for military operations, little was known of the interior of Upper Burma but British steamers had for years been running on the great river highway of the Irrawaddy, from Rangoon to Mandalay, and it was obvious that the quickest and most satisfactory method of carrying out the British campaign was an advance by water direct on the capital.

Fortunately a large number of light-draught river steamers and barges (or "flats"), belonging to the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, were available at Rangoon, and the local knowledge of the company's officers of the difficult river navigation was at the disposal of the government. Major-General, afterwards Sir, H.N.D. Prendergast, V.C., K.C.B., R.E., was placed in command of the expedition. As was only to be expected in an enterprise of this description, the navy as well as the army was called in requisition and as usual the services rendered by the seamen and guns were most important. The total effective of the force was 9034 fighting men, 2810 native followers and 67 guns, and for river service, 24 machine guns. The river fleet which conveyed the troops and stores was composed of a total of no less than 55 steamers, barges, launches, &c.

Thayetmyo was the British post on the river nearest to the frontier, and here, by 14th November, five days after Thibaw's answer had been received, practically the whole expedition was assembled. On the same day General Prendergast received instructions to commence operations. The Burmese king and his country were taken completely by surprise by the unexampled rapidity of the advance. There had been no time for them to collect and organize the stubborn resistance of which the river and its defences were capable. They had not even been able to block the river by sinking steamers, &c., across it, for, on the very day of the receipt of orders to advance, the armed steamers, the "Irrawaddy" and "Kathleen," engaged the nearest Burmese batteries, and brought out from under their guns the king's steamer and some barges which were lying in readiness for this very purpose. On the 16th the batteries themselves on both banks were taken by a land attack, the enemy being evidently unprepared and making no resistance.

On the 17th of November, however, at Minhla, on the right bank of the river, the Burmans in considerable force held successively a barricade, a pagoda and the redoubt of Minhla. The attack was pressed home by a brigade of native infantry on shore, covered by a bombardment from the river, and the enemy were defeated with a loss of 170 killed and 276 prisoners, besides many more drowned in the attempt to escape by the river. The advance was continued next day and the following days, the naval brigade and heavy artillery leading and silencing in succession the enemy's river defenses at Nyaungu, Pakôkku and Myingyan. On the 26th of November, when the flotilla was approaching the ancient capital of Ava, envoys from King Thibaw met General Prendergast with offers of surrender and on the 27th, when the ships were lying off that city and ready to commence hostilities, the order of the king to his troops to lay down their arms was received.

There were three strong forts here, full at that moment with thousands of armed Burmans, and though a large number of these filed past and laid down their arms by the king's command, still many more were allowed to disperse with their weapons and these, in the time that followed, broke up into dacoit or guerrilla bands, which became the scourge of the country and prolonged the war for years. Meanwhile, however, the surrender of the king of Burma was complete and on the 28th of November, in less than a fortnight from the declaration of war, Mandalay had fallen, and the king himself was a prisoner, while every strong fort and town on the river, and all the king's ordnance (1861 pieces), and thousands of rifles, muskets and arms had been taken. Much valuable and curious "loot" and property was found in the palace and city of Mandalay, which, when sold, realized about 9 lakhs of rupees (£60,000).

From Mandalay, General Prendergast seized Bhamo on the 28th of December. This was a very important move, as it forestalled the Chinese, who were preparing to claim the place. But unfortunately, although the king was dethroned and deported, and the capital and the whole of the river in the hands of the British, the bands of armed soldiery, unaccustomed to conditions other than those of anarchy, rapine and murder, took advantage of the impenetrable cover of their jungles to continue a desultory armed resistance. Reinforcements had to be poured into the country, and it was in this phase of the campaign, lasting several years, that the most difficult and most arduous work fell to the lot of the troops. It was in this jungle warfare that the losses from battle, sickness and privation steadily mounted up and the troops, both British and native, proved once again their fortitude and courage.

Various expeditions followed one another in rapid succession, penetrating to the remotest corners of the land, and bringing peace and protection to the inhabitants, who, it must be mentioned, suffered at least as much from the dacoits as did the troops. The final, and now completely successful, pacification of the country, under the direction of Sir Frederick (afterwards Earl) Roberts, was only brought about by an extensive system of small protective posts scattered all over the country, and small lightly equipped columns moving out to disperse the enemy whenever a gathering came to a head, or a pretended prince or king appeared.

The First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-26)

The attempts of the English to develop trade relations with Burma had failed. They, therefore, picked up border disputes as pretexts for war with a view to putting pressure on Burma. The crisis erupted when Lord Amherst came to India as governor-general of the Company in 1823. The Burmese themselves provided the opportunity to the English for a war.

The Burmese had developed a false sense of their power after annexing Manipur, Arakan and Assam. Their commander-in-chief, Maha Bundela, felt that he would be able to defeat the English as easily as he had defeated the Assamese. Even the common people of Burma were confident of the victory of their king against the English. Therefore, everybody in Burma was in favour of a war against the English. The English, on their part, were equally desirous for a war against Burma. It could serve their Imperial designs well. The pretext of the war were the border disputes.

Some Englishmen who went for hunting the elephants were imprisoned by the Burmese. The Burmese demanded custom-duty from a few English traders who were carrying their goods through the Nullah of Koor. Finally the English and the Burmese came into conflict with each other over the possession of the island of Shahpuri which was under the Possession of the English. The Burmese asked the British that the island be declared neutral. The British, however, refused. In February 1824, the Burmese attacked and captured the island though they gave up its possession soon after. Lord Amherst decided for war and declared it in February, 1824.

History of Myanmar

Humans have lived in what is now Myanmar for at least 15,000 years. Bronze Age artifacts have been discovered at Nyaunggan, and the Samon Valley was settled by rice agriculturalists as early as 500 BCE.

In the 1st century BCE, the Pyu people moved into northern Burma and established 18 city-states, including Sri Ksetra, Binnaka, and Halingyi. The principal city, Sri Ksetra, was the power-center of the region from 90 to 656 CE. After the seventh century, it was replaced by a rival city, possibly Halingyi. This new capital was destroyed by the Nanzhao kingdom in the mid-800s, bringing the Pyu period to a close.

When the Khmer Empire based at Angkor extended its power, the Mon people from Thailand were forced west into Myanmar. They established kingdoms in southern Myanmar including Thaton and Pegu in the 6th to 8th centuries.

By 850, the Pyu people had been absorbed by another group, the Bamar, who ruled a powerful kingdom with its capital at Bagan. The Bagan Kingdom slowly developed in strength until it was able to defeat the Mon at Thaton in 1057 and unite all of Myanmar under one king for the first time in history. The Bagan ruled until 1289 when their capital was captured by the Mongols.

After the fall of Bagan, Myanmar was divided into several rival states, including Ava and Bago.

Myanmar unified once more in 1527 under the Toungoo Dynasty, which ruled central Myanmar from 1486 to 1599. Toungoo over-reached, however, trying to conquer more territory than its revenues could sustain, and it soon lost its grip on several neighboring areas. The state collapsed entirely in 1752, partly at the instigation of French colonial officials.

The period between 1759 and 1824 saw Myanmar at the apex of its power under the Konbaung Dynasty. From its new capital at Yangon (Rangoon), the Konbaung kingdom conquered Thailand, bits of southern China, as well as Manipur, Arakan, and Assam, India. This incursion into India brought unwelcome British attention, however.

The First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826) saw Britain and Siam band together to defeat Myanmar. Myanmar lost some of its recent conquests but was basically unscathed. However, the British soon began to covet Myanmar's rich resources and initiated the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852. The British took control of southern Burma at that time and added the rest of the country to its Indian sphere after the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885.

Although Burma produced a lot of wealth under British colonial rule, almost all of the benefit went to British officials and their imported Indian underlings. The Burmese people got little benefit. This resulted in the growth of banditry, protests, and rebellion.

The British responded to Burmese discontent with a heavy-handed style later echoed by indigenous military dictators. In 1938, British police wielding batons killed a Rangoon University student during a protest. Soldiers also fired into a monk-led protest in Mandalay, killing 17 people.

Burmese nationalists allied themselves with Japan during World War II, and Burma gained its independence from Britain in 1948.

The expansion of Burma (present-day Myanmar) under the Konbaung dynasty had consequences along its frontiers. As those frontiers moved ever closer to the British East India Company and later British India, there were problems both with refugees and military operations spilling over ill-defined borders. [1]

First Anglo-Burmese War Edit

The First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826) ended in a British East India Company victory, and by the Treaty of Yandabo, Burma lost territory previously conquered in Assam, Manipur, and Arakan. [2] The British also took possession of Tenasserim with the intention to use it as a bargaining chip in future negotiations with either Burma or Siam. [3] As the century wore on, the British East India Company began to covet the resources and main part of Burma during an era of great territorial expansion. [4]

Second Anglo-Burmese War Edit

In 1852, Commodore Lambert was dispatched to Burma by Lord Dalhousie over a number of minor issues related to the previous treaty. [2] The Burmese immediately made concessions including the removal of a governor whom the British had made their casus belli. Lambert eventually provoked a naval confrontation in extremely questionable circumstances and thus started the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852, which ended in the British annexation of Pegu province, [1] renamed Lower Burma. The war resulted in a palace revolution in Burma, with King Pagan Min (1846–1853) being replaced by his half brother, Mindon Min (1853–1878). [2]

Third Anglo-Burmese War Edit

King Mindon tried to modernise the Burmese state and economy to ensure its independence, and he established a new capital at Mandalay, which he proceeded to fortify. [1] [5] These efforts would eventually prove unsuccessful, however, when the British claimed that Mindon's son Thibaw Min (ruled 1878–1885) was a tyrant intending to side with the French, [6] that he had lost control of the country, thus allowing for disorder at the frontiers, and that he was reneging on a treaty signed by his father. [1] The British declared war once again in 1885, conquering the remainder of the country in the Third Anglo-Burmese War resulting in total annexation of Burma. [1] [7]

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First Anglo-Burmese War - History

A.) The Situation Preceding the War

Burma pursued a policy of expansion. In 1821-1822 the Burmese had conquered ASSAM they prepared for an attack on BENGAL, held by the (British) EAST INDIA COMPANY (EIC).On February 24th 1824, Governor General Lord Amherst declared war on Burma.

Bengali troops in the garrison of BARAKHPUR mutinied when ordered to fight in the Anglo-Burmese War.
British-Indian forces expelled the Burmese from Assam. At the Chittagong front, the EIC tropops made little progress, meeting determined Burmese resistance. A British-Indian naval expedition took RANGOON on May 11th 1824 (the city had been evacuated by the Burmese). In March 1824, a British expedition took the capital of Arakan.
A Burmese force 60,000 strong was defeated outside Rangoon in December, and in May 1825 a British force tool PROME, the capital of Lower Burma. A peace treaty was signed at Yandabo on February 26th 1826.
EIC forces had suffered significant losses, the larger part due to disease.

Burma had to cede Assam, Arakan and Tenasserim to the EIC. A British RESIDENT was to reside at Ava. MANIPUR was to be recognized as independent Burma had to pay war indemnity. However, only in 1830 was a British resident accepted at Ava.


The war marked the start of what 20th century nationalists called the "Century of Humiliation". The ease with which the British forces defeated the numerically superior Chinese armies damaged the Qing dynasty's prestige. The Treaty of Nanking was a step to opening the lucrative Chinese market to global commerce and the opium trade. The interpretation of the war, which was long the standard in the People's Republic of China, was summarized in 1976: The Opium War, "in which the Chinese people fought against British aggression, marked the beginning of modern Chinese history and the start of the Chinese people's bourgeois-democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism." [47]

The Treaty of Nanking, the Supplementary Treaty of the Bogue, and two French and American agreements were all "unequal treaties" signed between 1842 and 1844. The terms of these treaties undermined China's traditional mechanisms of foreign relations and methods of controlled trade. Five ports were opened for trade, gunboats, and foreign residence: Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai. Hong Kong was seized by the British to become a free and open port. Tariffs were abolished thus preventing the Chinese from raising future duties to protect domestic industries and extraterritorial practices exempted Westerners from Chinese law. This made them subject to their own civil and criminal laws of their home country. Most importantly, the opium problem was never addressed and after the treaty was signed opium addiction doubled. China was forced to pay 21 million silver taels as an indemnity, which was used to pay compensation for the traders' opium destroyed by Commissioner Lin. A couple of years after the treaties were signed internal rebellion began to threaten foreign trade. Due to the Qing government's inability to control collection of taxes on imported goods, the British government convinced the Manchu court to allow Westerners to partake in government official affairs. By the 1850s the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, one of the most important bureaucracies in the Manchu Government, was partially staffed and managed by Western Foreigners. [23] In 1858 opium was legalised. [48]

Commissioner Lin, often referred to as "Lin the Clear Sky" for his moral probity, [49] was made a scapegoat. He was blamed for ultimately failing to stem the tide of opium imports and usage as well as for provoking an unwinnable war through his rigidity and lack of understanding of the changing world. [50] Nevertheless, as the Chinese nation formed in the 20th century, Lin became viewed as a hero, and has been immortalized at various locations around the world. [51] [52] [53]

The First Opium War both reflected and contributed to a further weakening of the Chinese state's power and legitimacy. [54] Anti-Qing sentiment grew in the form of rebellions, such as the Taiping Rebellion, a war lasting from 1850–64 in which at least 20 million Chinese died. The decline of the Qing dynasty was beginning to be felt by much of the Chinese population.

The opium trade faced incurred intense enmity from the later British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. [55] As a member of Parliament, Gladstone called it "most infamous and atrocious" referring to the opium trade between China and British India in particular. [56] Gladstone was fiercely against both of the Opium Wars Britain waged in China in the First Opium War initiated in 1840 and the Second Opium War initiated in 1857, denounced British violence against Chinese, and was ardently opposed to the British trade in opium to China. [57] Gladstone lambasted it as "Palmerston's Opium War" and said that he felt "in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national iniquity towards China" in May 1840. [58] A famous speech was made by Gladstone in Parliament against the First Opium War. [59] [60] Gladstone criticized it as "a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent disgrace,". [61] His hostility to opium stemmed from the effects of opium brought upon his sister Helen. [62] Due to the First Opium war brought on by Palmerston, there was initial reluctance to join the government of Peel on part of Gladstone before 1841. [63]

Watch the video: British and Scottish Army Troops Advance in Burma Ledo Road WW2


  1. Daran

    This is no longer an exception.

  2. Fitzpatrick

    This gift does not pass him.

  3. Adan

    paraphrase please

  4. Samujind

    YES, that's for sure

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