« PreviousContinue »
with cords, that the operation often rendered the victims insensible ; loaded afterwards with irons, and confined in the lowest prisons, among thieves and criminals. Every relaxation was purchased by a heavy bribe ; and as no food was ever allowed to prisoners, the unhappy men barely escaped starvation. On festival days the Burmese women generally came to the prison, and supplied its inmates with provisions ; but on these occasions many, particularly the Hindoo sepoys, ate so voraciously, that it finally proved fatal to them. By the conditions of the treaty signed at Yandaboo on the 24th of February, 1826, the Company acquired the provinces of Arracan, Yeh, Tavoi, Mergui, and Tenasserim; while the king of Ava agreed to leave unmolested Assam, Cachar, Jylna, and Munnipoor, to receive an English resident, who should remain permanently at Ava, and to pay over, for the expenses of the war, one crore of rupees, * in four instalments. All these
engagements were punctually fulfilled by the Burmese court.
Sir Archibald Campbell, having now brought the war to a successful issue, began his march homewards, and reached Rangoon in safety, without encountering any difficulties or privations beyond those which are inseparable from the conveyance of a large body of men through a partially cultivated and semi-civilized region.
* About one million sterling.
EXPEDITION OF GENERAL MORRISON.
EXPEDITION AGAINST THE NORTHERN PARTS OF THE BURMESE EMPIRE
-DEATH OF THE RAJAH OF BHURTPOOR-INTRIGUES OF HIS FAMILYSIEGE OF BHURTPOOR-ITS CAPTURE BY LORD COMBERMERE,
We must now give a brief account of an attempt to enter the Burman territory from the north, that took place at the commencement of 1825. The object of this enterprise was the subjugation of Arracan; but it led to the discovery of a route to Ava, which, if known previously to the occupation of Rangoon, might have prevented many difficulties, and much unnecessary loss of life. The commander of the expedition, General Morrison, marching from Chittagong, halted a short distance from Ava; while Sir Archibald Campbell lay inactive at Rangoon, arrested by the monsoon, and losing daily numbers of troops, from the prevalence among them of pestilence, and the want of proper provisions. The advance of the northern division was unfortunately impeded by the breaking out of fever in the ranks, -a misfortune attributable, perhaps, to the unhealthy locadity in which the troops encamped during the wet season. They had discovered, in the meantime, an excellent road leading across the mountains of Arracan, that, after a few days' march would have conducted them to Ava. So many, however, perished by the epidemic, which carried off about three-fifths of their number, that the design was given up, although an English officer, after the termination of the Burmese campaign, returned with a regiment of native infantry along this very road, his march from Yandaboo to the Company's frontiers in Arracan being accomplished in nineteen days.
While the prosecution of the war in Birmah was engaging the attention of the Indian authorities, they found themselves involved hostile measures nearer home. The repulse of Lord Lake before Bhurtpoor, in 1805, although it led to no immediate results, ħad impressed the people of that region with an inflated idea of their own strength. The Rajah Buldeo Singh on that occasion contracted an alliance with the Company, to the terms of which he faithfully adhered, though constantly thwarted by a war party among his advisers, at the head of whom stood his own nephew Doonjah Sal. The intrigues of this faction were not confined merely to expressions of aversion to the English ; its leaders encouraged certain predatory incursions into the neighbouring provinces, which, however, were promptly repelled by the British troops.
Shortly before the Rajah's decease, a natural dread of his nephew's unscrupulous character induced him to place his youthful son, Bulwunt Singh, a child of six years old, under the protection of the English Government, on which occasion he made a special appeal to Sir David Ochterlony, imploring that gallant soldier to protect the rights of one who would soon be a defenceless orphan. After the death of the Rajah, Doonjah Singh seized the person of his cousin, and proceeded to usurp the government of Bhurtpoor. In spite of the remonstrances of Sir David Ochterlony, who had prepared to take the field in defence of the young Rajah, the English authorities at Calcutta remained supine and inactive. Doonjah Singh, encouraged by their indifference, employed himself in strengthening his fortress, and endeavoured to stir up the neighbouring princes to form a league against the Company. His designs met with no small encouragement from the people over whom he
SIEGE OF BHURTPOOR.
ruled. It was the boast of the Jauts, that while all the other races of India had succumbed to the Moguls, or to the English, they alone preserved their independence inviolate. The bold and manly habits of these people, their martial spirit, and the impregnable character ascribed to their chief fortress, and embodied in a proverbial saying at that time universally current,* rendered them by no means indisposed for war. A civil contest that ensued between the usurper and his brother led finally to encroachments upon the Company's territory, which the Government could no longer overlook with safety.
On the 10th of December, 1825, Lord Combermere who, as Sir Stapleton Cotton, had served with distinction in the Peninsular war, made his appearance
before Bhurtpoor with a large army, accompanied by a hundred pieces of cannon. His first exploit was to drive away a party of workmen whom he found busily engaged in cutting a sluice through one of the embankments, with the view of introducing water into the ditch. He next began to open trenches, and construct the necessary works for carrying on the siege. On the 24th of December the English batteries opened their fire, but as the breaching guns made little impression on the walls, recourse was had to mining. The garrison countermined in turn, and succeeded in causing the explosion of a tumbril belonging to the besiegers. By some mismanagement or want of foresight, the mines formed by the English proved generally ineffective, though both officers and men combined in pressing the siege with energy and vigour.
On the 17th of January a fresh mine had been completed, which the engineers anticipated could scarcely fail of opening a way into the town. Storming detach ments stood in readiness to occupy the breach, and such was the eagerness displayed by the men, that they advanced to a position distant only a few yards from the mouth of the mine. The engineer gave his signal, and the explosion took place almost immediately. The effect has been described as most impressive, even to those whose profession had rendered them familiar with the awful spectacles of war.
*.6 India is not conquered, for Bhurtpoor has never been taken."
The cannonade ceased for a few minutes, and during the terrific pause that ensued, the mighty wall was seen to heave convulsively, rocking to and fro like a ship lifted on a mighty billow; it then sank down again with a deafening crash, while a number of dark masses rose into the air amid fearful shrieks and groans, the utterers of which were concealed beneath a thick cloud of smoke and dust that for some minutes enveloped the whole scene in impenetrable obscurity. Recovering themselves quickly from this momentary dismay, the storming party rushed on, scarcely aware that their course lay over the prostrate bodies of more than a hundred of their mangled companions.
Although discouraged by the result of the explosion, the garrison stood their ground bravely. The artillerymen fell beside their guns, while their comrades resolutely opposed their pikes to the bayonets of the advancing foe. But the exertions of individual valour proved unavailing. Two breaches had been effected, through which the closely formed columns the British poured with uninterrupted rapidity, sweeping all opposition before their impetuous bayonet charge. In two hours a loud cheer proclaimed that the town was won, while the standard of England waved triumphantly over the crumbling ramparts.
Four thousand of the enemy perished during this siege, but the wounded and killed on the side of the British hardly exceeded a tenth part of that number. Doonjah Sal, who had attempted to escape, was made prisoner, and sent to the fortress of Allahabad; the