First Anglo-Burmese War

First Anglo-Burmese War
ပထမ အင်္ဂလိပ် မြန်မာ စစ်
British attack in Burma 1824.png
The storming of one of the principal stockades, near Rangoon, 8 July 1824
Date5 March 1824 – 24 February 1826
(1 year, 11 months, and 19 days)
Location
Burma, East Bengal, Assam, Manipur, Cachar and Jaintia
Result

British victory

Territorial
changes
Burma cedes Assam, Manipur, Arakan and Tenasserim; loses influence in Cachar and Jaintia; pays one million pounds sterling in indemnity
Belligerents

United Kingdom British Empire

Rattanakosin Kingdom (Siam)
Flag of the Alaungpaya Dynasty of Myanmar.svg Burmese Empire
Commanders and leaders
Sir Archibald Campbell
Joseph Wanton Morrison
Maha Bandula 
Maha Ne Myo 
Minkyaw Zeya Thura
Strength
50,00040,000
Casualties and losses
15,000Unknown but significantly higher than the British

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 (£386 million – £1 billion as of 2016),[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 heavy 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.

Causes

Embassy of Michael Symes to King Bodawpaya at Amarapura in 1795
Bajidaw, King of Burma orders his generals to wrest Bengal from British, 1823

By 1822, Burmese expansion into Manipur and Assam had created a long border between British India and the Burmese Empire. The British, based in Calcutta, supported rebels from Manipur, Assam and Arakan fleeing into British territory. Calcutta unilaterally declared Cachar and Jaintia British protectorates, and sent in troops.[6] Cross border raids into these newly acquired territories from British territories and spheres of influence vexed the Burmese. Convinced that war was inevitable, Burmese commander-in-chief, Maha Bandula, became a main proponent of offensive policy against the British. Bandula was part of the war party at Bagyidaw's court, which also included Queen Me Nu and her brother, the Lord of Salin.[4] Bandula believed that a decisive victory could allow Ava to consolidate its gains in its new western empire in Arakan, Manipur, Assam, Cachar and Jaintia, as well as take over eastern Bengal.[6]

In September 1823, the casus belli was Burma occupying Shalpuri Island near Chittagong, which was claimed by the East India Company.[7]

In January 1824, Burma sent one of their top generals, Thado Thiri Maha Uzana, into Cachar and Jaintia to disperse the rebels. The British sent in their own force to meet the Burmese in Cachar, resulting in the first clashes between the two. The war formally broke out on 5 March 1824, following border clashes in Arakan.

The British reason for the war was, in addition to expanding British Bengal's sphere of influence, the desire for new markets for British manufacturing.[8][9] The British were also anxious to deny the French the use of Burmese harbours and concerned about French influence at the Court of Ava, as the kingdom was still known to them.[10] British Ambassador Michael Symes's mission was equipped to gain as much knowledge as possible of the country for future British plans whereas previous envoys were concerned principally with trade concessions. Anglo–French rivalry had already played a role during Alaungpaya's endeavours of unifying the kingdom.[10] The Burmese in these wars were advancing into smaller states not ruled by the British or the subject of expansionary goals by the British before the war began, and the British were not so much preoccupied by the refugee problem initially as by the threat posed by the French until further incidents forced their hand.[10]

Other Languages