Modern India

Anglo Burmese Wars

British fought three wars with Burma to control the border trade and to expand its empire.

First Burmese War (1823-1826)

The First Anglo-Burmese War lasted from 1823 to 1826. It was one of the three wars that were fought between Burma and the British colonial empire during the 19th century resulted in gradual extinction of Burmese independence.

During the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th, the Burmese had engaged in an expansionist policy against its neighbors that has finally set it in contact with the British colonial empire. They apparently were not aware of the tactics, discipline and resources of the Europeans, and thus were not cautious about entering a war.

On September 23, 1823, an armed party of Burmese attacked Shapura, an island close to the Chittagong side, killing and wounding six of the British guards. War with Burma was formally declared on March 05, 1824. On May 17, 1824, a Burmese force invaded Chittagong and drove sepoys and police detachment from its position at Ramu, but did not follow up its success.

Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852-1853)

After the treaty of Yandaboo 1826 (After first Anglo-Burmese War), a large number of British merchants had settled on the southern coast o f Burma and Rangoon. Tharrawady, the new king of Burma (1837-1845) refused to consider the treaty of Yandaboo. The British Residents also did not get proper treatment at the court and finally the Residency had to be withdrawn in 1840.

The British merchants often complained of ill treatment at the hands of the Governor of Rangoon. They sent a petition to Lord Dalhousie. Dalhousie was determined to maintain British prestige and dignity at all the costs and so deputed Commodore Lambert to Rangoon to negotiate the redress of grievances and demand compensation. At first the King of Burma was inclined to avoid war and removed the old Governor and appointed the new one. But when a deputation of some naval officers was refused admission, Lambert adopted a very provocative line of action. He captured one of the Burmese King’s ships. With this incident, the Burmese did not resist and the war was declared.

Third Anglo Burmese War (1885-1886)

The Third Anglo-Burmese War was a conflict that took place during 7–29 November 1885, with sporadic resistance and insurgency continuing into 1887. It was the final of three wars fought in the 19th century between the Burmese and the British. The war saw the loss of sovereignty of an independent Burma under the Konbaung Dynasty, whose rule had already been reduced to the territory known as Upper Burma, the region of Lower Burma having been annexed by the British in 1853, as a result of the Second Anglo-Burmese War. The British annexed Burma on 1 January 1886. But the annexation was only the beginning of an insurgency that would last until 1896. The final, and now completely successful, pacification of the country, under the direction of Sir Frederick Roberts, was only brought about by an extensive system of small military police protective posts scattered all over the country, and small lightly equipped columns moving out in response whenever a gathering of insurgents occurred.

The British poured reinforcements into the country, and it was in this phase of the campaign, lasted several years. Meting out collective punishments on villages finally broke their resistance. Villages were burned and the property of villagers either confiscated or destroyed. The British policy of overwhelming reprisals against villages suspected of assisting the insurgency eventually brought the country under control. The British also extended their control into the tribal areas of the Kachin Hills and Chin Hills. These territories, only nominally ruled even by the Burmese kingdom, were taken over by the British.

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