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RETREAT OF THE BANDOOLAH.
his troops. He also employed some secret emissaries to set fire to Rangoon in various places; but this attempt failed signally, the flames being speedily extinguished by the exertions of the British troops. The English army then marched on Kokien, where they forced the intrenchments, and obliged the Burmese to retreat after having sustained a severe loss.
PANIC AT CALCUTTA-MUTINY OF BARRACKPOOR_MARCH TO PROME
-DEATH OF THE BANDOOLAH-NEGOTIATIONS - ADVANCE OF THE ENGLISH AND CAPTURE OF MELLOON-THE KING OF HELL-PEACE WITH THE BURMESE.
TaE defeat of the Bandoolah at Kokien, rendered an advance into the interior comparatively easy. The grand army of Burmah, under its best general, had sustained a succession of defeats calculated to depress the spirits of the men, and to rebuke the vaunting arrogance of their commanders. Little opposition could now be anticipated, and it seemed that a march to Amerapoora, the present residence of the court, would infallibly occasion a speedy termination of the war. Unfortunately, however, the means of transport were not yet ready, and Sir Archibald Campbell, therefore, was compelled to postpone the execution of his design until a more advanced period.
While the British troops were thus victorious in Burmah, most serious apprehensions prevailed among the native merchants at Calcutta, with regard to the final issue of the war. The slight and unimportant success of the Bandoolah on the Chittagong frontier, produced an impression that the Burmese were invincible, and unhappily, this persuasion descending to the sepoys, rendered them averse to take any part in the campaign. A serious mutiny occurred, in consequence, at Barrackpoor, when the 47th Native Infantry, being under orders for foreign service, absolutely refused to parade, and were
295 joined afterwards by companies from other regiments. The spirit of rebellion had indeed spread so far, that the authorities deemed severe measures absolutely necessary. The mutineers having repeatedly refused to return to their duty, were fired upon with artillery, until they suffered themselves to be disarmed. The 47th was then erased from the Army List, and those of the ringleaders who had survived, suffered capital punishment.
Plentiful supplies of boats, boatmen, and beasts of burden arrived at Rangoon from Madras and Bengal, towards the close of 1824, and at the commencement of 1825. Finding, therefore, that no obstacle now existed to impede his further progress, Sir Archibald Campbell determined to advance in the direction of Prome. On the 15th of February, 1825, three columns began their march, under the command of Sir Archibald himself, of Brigadier-General Cotton, and of Major Sale. The latter had been instructed to reduce Bassein; while the two former proceeded to Prome. The commander-inchief pursued the land route, and General Cotton, that by water; but both divisions were to effect a junction at Denoobew, or, in case the land column might not be able to reach this place, at Sarawah.
The land column proceeded with considerable alacrity through a well wooded but desert country, until it arrived at Sarawah, a town about 30 miles beyond Denoobew. During the march, repeated rumours of the retreat of the Bandoolah, induced Sir Archibald to refrain from crossing over to the last-mentioned town, the more especially as neither ford nor bridge existed nearer than Sarawah. This city, situated on the right bank of the Irrawaddi, had been hitherto the chief station for the Burmese war-boats, as well as a place of considerable trade. The inhabitants deserted it at the approach of the British, nor could all the efforts of Sir Archibald Campbell induce them to return.
The town of Sarawah contained many objects worthy of notice. Several ancient Kioums, or monasteries, particularly attracted the attention of the British officers, who were also much struck by the magnificent aspect of the river, which here measures more than 800 yards in width. After a halt of four days, however, all began to feel anxious as to the fate of General Cotton's division, since no intelligence had reached them respecting its movements. On the evening of the fifth day, a distant firing was heard, from the direction of Denoobew; but Sir Archibald, far from entertaining any apprehension on this score, concluded that the cessation of the cannonade indicated the surrender or downfal of the place. Finding every town and village deserted in the vicinity of Sarawah, the commander-in-chief became eager to reach Prome as speedily as possible, and his troops were about to commence their march when information arrived that the attack on Depoobew had proved unsuccessful.
Two courses now presented themselves for the adoption of the British general. He might either press forward to the capital, thus attracting the attention of the Bandoolah, and compelling him to advance to Prome, or march his column at once on Denoobew, and drive out the Burmese garrison from their strong position there. Sir Archibald determined to adopt the latter expedient, and having crossed the Irrawaddi by means of rafts, reached the place of his destination on the 25th of March. Numerous war-boats crowded the river above the fortifications, and opened a sharp fire upon the British troops, but the latter maintained their ground, and advanced within cannon shot of the defences. These consisted of solid teak-wood stockades, masking the old brick walls of the fortress, the form of which was oblong, measuring about a thousand yards in length, by five hundred in breadth. A moat filled with spikes and large nails defended the three inland sides, while the river protected the front, the besieged being thus enabled to bring the fire of their gun-boats to bear upon the invaders.
DEATH OF THE BANDOOLAH.
The apparent strength of the place deterred the commander-in-chief from attempting to storm it, while the small number of his troops would not permit the formation of a regular siege. He encamped, therefore, with one flank defended by the river, while on the exposed side, a line of patrols were instructed to watch diligently every demonstration of the enemy.
Having taken these precautions, the wearied soldiers retired to rest; but suddenly the sound of fire-arms, and the hasty arrival of the piquet, broke off their slumbers, and called every man to his post. As they formed hurriedly, the yells of the Burmese revealed the cause of the alarm. An attempt was being made to turn the right flank, but the steady fire of the English defeated this project, and obliged the assailants, after two or three attacks, to retreat with considerable loss. At the close of the engagement, Sir Archibald Campbell resolved to effect, if possible, a junction with General Cotton's water column; and despatched for that purpose a detachment of 100 Europeans, and some cavalry, who, having forced their way through a thick jungle, re-established the interrupted communication between the corps. On the 27th the English flotilla appeared, a steam vessel leading the way, while seventeen of the Burmese war-boats pushed off to encounter the enemy. The batteries of the fort seconded their efforts, but in vain; the steamer bore down irresistibly upon the small craft opposed to her, and thirteen of the war-boats remained the prizes of the conqueror.
A sortie by the besieged was triumphantly repelled, while the English, being thus enabled to land the ammunition and mortars which the flotilla had conveyed, subsequently commenced a bombardment of the town. This mode of attack proved eventually successful; the Bandoolah himself was killed by the exploding of a shell, and the Burmese, dispirited at the loss of their leader, evacuated the works, and retreated in the dead of night to a place at some distance. Upon the