First Anglo Burmese War

First Anglo Burmese War 1824-26

The first Anglo Burmese war was the first in the series of wars that were fought between British India and Burma from 1824 till 1885.

  • The Burmese kingdoms declined from this time and finally all of Burma came under the British control in 1886. Burma was ruled as a part of India within the British Empire.

Burma was under the Konbaung Dynasty from 1752 to 1885. This dynasty tried in vain to attack and annex Siam (Ayutthaya Kingdom) in modern Thailand during 1765-1769. The ruling dynasty of China was Qing Dynasty which had some friendly relations with the British. The Ayutthaya Kingdom approached China and Qing Dynasty waged a war against the expansionist Burmese rulers.

Now the focus of the expansionist Burmese dynasty King Bodawpaya turned westward towards Arakan. The Arakan was the eastern frontier of Bengal and it was somewhat independent since the Mughal era. The Burmese forces entered Arakan and captured modern Manipur in 1813, Assam in 1817-19. The result was that they were now on the border of the Bengal.

Meanwhile King Bodawpaya died and his son and successor King Bagyidaw tried to put down British instigated rebellions in Manipur in 1819 and Assam in 1821–1822. There were cross border encroachments from both the sides. The British tried to avoid clash with some peaceful proposals with scorn. At last Lord Amherst declared war in 1824. British attacked from 3 sides:

  • The British forces marched from Bengal up to Brahmaputra into Assam.
  • Another expedition by land went through Chittagong into Arakan. This was because the Bengal Sepoys refused to go by sea.
  • There was another, the strongest force of the British army sailed from Madras directly to the mouth of Irawadi.

The prolonged war ended with a decisive victory of the British. However, they lost 20000 men from the Anglo-Indian army. In 1826, Burma signed the famous “Treaty of Yandabu