The Second Burmese War - 1851-52.

After a time the Burmese forgot the lesson they had received, and having frequently violated the treaty of 1826, it became necessary to bring them to order. An army of about 6000 men, under General Godwin, who had taken a leading part in the previous operations, was sent out; while the commander-in-chief on the Indian station despatched a small squadron, under the command of Commodore Lambert, of the Fox, 40 guns, with the Serpent, Rattler, Hermes, and Salamander, to which the East India Company added 13 steamers. A naval brigade was formed, and served on shore, under Lieutenant D’Orville, first of the Fox. Most of the places which had before been taken had again to be attacked, and were captured much in the same way as before, though not without severe fighting. The squadron was further increased by the arrival of the Winchester, Captain Loch. Whereas before only one steamer belonged to the squadron, it now consisted of a number of well-armed steam-vessels, suited for the navigation of shallow waters. The boats belonging to the ships co-operated on all occasions, while the troops were carried to their destinations by the steamers.

A most important expedition was sent up the river Irrawaddy under the command of Captain Tarleton, on board the Medusa. He had with him three Company’s steamers. They proceeded to Konnoughee, a short distance below Proom, where a strong force, which appeared on shore, was put to flight by the shells thrown from the vessels. Higher up they found a Burmese army of 10,000 men assembled to guard the passage to Proom and the capital. The river here divides into two channels, one of which the Burmese believed to be too shallow for the passage of the steamers. Captain Tarleton, however, having ascertained that there was water enough for his vessels, pushed through it during the night, leaving the Burmese general and his army in the rear, and by daylight came off Proom. As there were no troops to defend the place, he carried off a number of heavy guns from a battery at the south end of the town. The iron ones were sunk in deep water, and the brass taken on board, to the number of twenty-three. Captain Tarleton had been directed merely to explore the river, or within four days he might have appeared before Ava, and in all probability have captured the city. On his return he was attacked by a large flotilla of war-boats, forty or fifty of which he either captured or destroyed. In consequence of his report, a body of troops was sent up the river on board steamers to Proom, which was quickly captured. Several other expeditions were made up the river, most of them under the command of Captain Granville Loch. Unhappily, he led one on shore against a robber-chieftain, Mya-Toon, who with other chiefs of the same character, had been committing depredations in all directions. The party consisted of about 300 men of the 67th Bengal Native Infantry, 62 marines and 185 seamen, with 25 officers. Having landed at Donabew, they marched inland through a jungle till they reached the robber’s fortress. Before it was an abattis of sharply-pointed bamboos, the road being so narrow that it was impossible to deploy the whole strength of the column. Concealed by their breast-works, the Burmese opened a murderous fire on the British force. In vain Captain Loch endeavoured to force his way across the nullah or trench. At length he fell mortally wounded, while several other officers and a considerable number of men were killed and wounded. At length Commander Lambert, on whom the command devolved, gave the order to his followers to retire. The two field-pieces they carried with them were spiked, and the carriages destroyed, and they commenced their march back to Donabew, carrying their wounded companions, but they were compelled to leave the dead on the field. They were bravely covered by the grenadier company of the 67th, who kept the enemy at a distance till, almost worn out, after twelve hours’ march, they reached their boats. The gallant Captain Loch expired on board the Phlegethon about forty hours after he had received his wound.

This disaster had no effect on the war, and the Burmese monarch being defeated at all points, agreed to open the Irrawaddy to British trade, and, shorn of much of his power, he has since remained at peace with England.