Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

punctually obeyed by the Thoogyees lying in the direction of Tavoy. Bawa Saib, upon leaving Moung Shooay-gya, came and reported all the above to me, he added, that he had mereover discovered that there were three distinct parties in the town, all equally anxious to rise upon the British force; but, dreading and distrusting each other, and in their divided state, each too weak to make any unassisted effort to overpower us; but that they were all anxiously watching our movements, and prepared at a minute's warning to engage in any desperate enterprize. Bawa Saib proceeded to state, that under present circumstances the peaceable people in the town were fully convinced of our inability to protect them; and, having resign ed all confidence in our power, preparing to run to the jungles; he added his belief, that any resistance on our part was utterly hopeless, and would only the more readily ensure our destruction. He wished to know what I intended to do; to which I could give him no answer, and he left me, after expressing a hope that I would not sleep as usual on my own bed for that night, for he knew that there were several desperate characters in the place who might possibly attempt to assassinate me, or at least seize my person. All these matters, of course, came immediately under the most serious discussion between myself and the officer commanding the detachment. I confess, I was satisfied of the truth of Bawa Saib's report, and I assured the officers of the detachment of my belief therein. The question to be settled then was, what could be done? Lieutenant S. and his two junior officers were unanimous that a company of sepoys could not possibly hold out against the expected attack, after Tavoy and Moulmein had fallen into the hands of the enemy, more especially as by some unfortunate accident there were only twelve hundred rounds of serviceable ammunition, together with a few cartridges of condemned powder, made up by the sick in the course of that afternoon, and which were of questionable utility. It was not my province to give an opinion upon the capability or otherwise of one company of sepoys with twelve hundred rounds of ammunition to withstand the power we believed to be arrayed against us ; but, I confess, I could entertain no other opinion than that their incapacity was but too apparent. Under this impression I readily consented with the officers of the detachment to make an attempt to save ourselves by timely retirement. To effect this, we had only a small boat belonging to Mr. Briesley, which could not possibly hold more than half the detachment, and we trusted to be able to get afloat a large open boat, generally used by me in my excursions through the district, which would hold the remainder. The resolution of quitting the place had no sooner been adopted than measures were taken to carry it into immediate execution. Lieutenant S. made each man hastily pack up a small supply of rice in his haversack; but, for ourselves, we could do nothing,since we were unable to take with us any baggage, owing to want of time for preparation, and want of room on board the boat. We were obliged to wait until turn of tide, which gave Mr. Breisley a little time to get some water and other necessaries on board, and about two o'clock we marched silently down to the wharf, not without the full expectation of meeting with resistance and loss on our way, since we had reason to believe we were narrowly watched, and that some effort would be made to prevent our escape. We passed, however, uninturrupted ; and, after having got the men embarked, after much delay, partly on board Mr. Briesley's boat, and partly on board the open boat above alluded to, we quitted Mergui early on the morning of the 22d of August, only a short time before day-break.

Such is the brief outline of the causes that led to this disastrous occurrance. As for my individual share, I was influenced by numerous weighty considerations; the chief was that I had received no intelligence from the officer in charge of Tavoy, and the fact of not receiving any intelligence was urged to me as a strong argument that Moung Shooay-gya's story, as reported by Bawa Saib, was true. The smallness of our detachment and want of ammunition was another serious evil; and, indeed, had we been double in numerical strength and supplied with an hundred fold the quantity of ammunition in our actual possession, we never could have hoped to make any successful stand against an enemy already, as we firmly believed, in possession of Tavoy, and supposed to be victorious at Moulmein. Independant of resistance on our part being utterly vain and hopeless, it occurred to me that to attempt it would not only effect no good, but do infinite mischief by involving in our certain

• This boat had returned from Tavoy to Mergui but-days before.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

fate, many families at Mergui who might possibly have inconsiderately put themselves under our fancied protection; at any rate resistance would only have caused an useless effusion of blood, and have ensurred to the European portion of us certain death; superadded, perhaps, to ignominy and torture. It must be remembered that we acted under the firm conviction that the accounts we had received were in all particulars true; and being thus convinced, and having no reason to believe the contrary, what could we do?

As matters have now turned out, it becomes, of course, a task of singular difficulty to impress upon the minds of those who were not misled by false information, such a view of our melancholy case, as can induce these to suppose that our conduct could have been purely and wholly the result of wilful falsehood or accidental misrepresentation. It may be said that our retreat was premature; to us it could not appear precipitate, as we already firmly believed the enemy in possession of Tavoy and Moulmein,

Where the false information originated that imposed upon our credulity and misled our judgment, I cannot now ascertain. It is sufficiently apparent that either Moungda made use of falsehood to stimulate the exertions of Moung Shooay. gya, or Moung Shooay-gya, suspecting the newly assumed interest that Bawa Saib pretended to take in the conspiracy, had wilfully misinformed him with a view that I might be misled in my judgment; or lastly, Bawa Saib, himself may possibly have played me false. I state the latter supposition, because I know that Bawa Siab has never been sincerely attached to me since the assumption of my appointment at Mergui ; but, on the contrary, had done much at various times to annoy and injure me; and it was the more singular, that one of his chief coadjutors in procuring or inventing the information he furnished to me was the only other amongst my public servants who bore me no good will: I allude to Nga-twou-myat, the Youm writer, whom, with Bawa Saib, I think I have before pointed out to you as men who were unfriendly to me. Be this as it may, the information was false somewhere, and it too unhappily succeeded in misleading me. But it having misled me; it having convinced me that no efforts of mine could possibly check an evil of too great a magnitude, to be resisted by the forces at Moulmein and Tavoy, nothing was left for me but to endeavour to extricate the detachment and myself from the danger believed to be so close at hand. It could not have benefitted the Government, that I and the military detachment should have watched to share a fate similar to that which we believed had befallen our brethren at Tavoy. Hence unhappy attempt to escape.

The fact must not be concealed that for the space of thirty days I had not received intelligence of any description from Tavoy or Moulmein; and when it became evident to all in Mergui that some serious occurrence had taken place at Tavoy, and when the necessary information was still delayed, how could I possibly argue but that the reports of the extermination of the British power were but too true, it not being possible to believe for an instant that authentic accounts of any serious disturbance at Tavoy would be withheld from the officer in charge of a place so intimately connected with Tavoy as Mergui?

One circumstance I wish you to take into consideration, and it is this: that although I abandoned a small portion of the possessions of the Government to certain loss, yet, at the same time, I consigned my own fortunes and near all that I possess, to utter wreck and ruin. I left Mergui without food, without clothes, without a single rupee. Surely, Sir, you must see and feel that I could not but have believed our situation utterly hopeless, or I never could have plunged myself so irretrievably into calamity and destitution. But I preferred throwing myself upon the mercy of Providence to falling into the hands of a barbarous and exasperated enemy; and, I fully trust, that that Providence which has hetherto preserved me in my perilous situation, will not wholly forsake me in this extremity of distress. Only one word more; had I been informed of the proceedings at Tavoy; had I but received one single line of intelligence to contradict the falsehood of the information that misled me, all this public loss to Government,-the interruption of public business,

Mr. Briesly's Cutter, in which the party left Mergui, had arrived there from Tavoy on the 29th July before.

-the utter ruin of my fortunes, and misery to which I am consigned, would have been entirely avoided.

I have, the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,

(Signed) B-, Assistant to the Civil Commissioner.
Tavoy, the 25th September, 1829.

To A. D. MAINGY, Esq.,

Commissioner in the Tenasserim Provinces.

SIR, Your despatches of the 17th ultimo and those from the Deputy Commissioner of the 11th and 27th September, relative to the transactions at Mergui, having been submitted to the Governor-General in Council, I am directed to state to you the following sentiments and observations of His Lordship in Council on the extraordinary and disgraceful occurrence therein detailed.

2. It appears to His Lordship in Council, that under the influence of panic, Captain B. abandoned his post without taking into consideration the highly improbable character of the reports coming from so questionable a quarter as that of the disaffected chiefs at Mergui, and without reflecting on the impracticability, as His Lordship in Council understands, of a Burmese army marching from Tavoy to Mergui over mountains, and through deserts in the height of the south-west monsoon. Recollecting alo the events of the Burmese war, it is difficult to conceive how Captain B. could bring himself to credit the fact of the force at Moulmein, including a regiment of European soldiers, being entirely cut off by any army which the Burmese could have assembled to attack them. The report of so improbable an event ought to have made Captain B. suspicious of the truth of whatever came from the same quarter; but, even admitting that he was satisfied of that fact, and of the approach of a Burmese force to attack him, his precipitate flight under the veil of night, before any enemy had actually appeared, and without giving warning to the few Christians whom he abandoned to their fate, is considered by the Governor General in Council to be without parallel in the annals of our military history.

3. The misconduct of Captain B. is aggravated by his disgraceful deser-1 tion of the majority of the sepoy detachment, who were first towed to sea, and then for the safety of Captain B. and his European officers, were subsequently cast off, one of those officers having the courage, or the sense of honor, to share the fortune and perils of those under their command. It is true, that the subadar, who was one of the party, thus abandoned by their officers, has deposed that Captain B. showed great reluctance to the act of casting them loose, which was done by Lieutenant S. himself; but this cannot acquit Captain B., who, as a British officer, and senior to Lieutenant S., should have effectually interfered to prevent it. No allusion is made to this transaction in Captain B.'s letter of explanation, addressed to the Deputy Commissioner, nor does His Lordship in Council perceive in that document any satisfactory exculpation of any part of that officer's conduct, throughout the whole transaction.

4. Under this impression the Governor-General in Council deems it incumbent on him to mark his sense of conduct so unpardonable as that of Captain B. by refusing to accept his tendered resignation of his situation as Civil Assistant, and directs, that he be considered as dismissed from office from the 22d August last, the date of his desertion of his duties, and from which date his salary is to cease.

5. The Governor General in Council further deems it necessary to transmit copies of all the correspondence connected with the late occurrences, both at Tavoy and Mergui to the Government of Fort St. George for its information; and, with a request, that the documents may be communicated to the Commander-inChief of that presidency, with a view to Captain B.'s being brought to a Courtmartial for misconduct as an officer of the Madras army.

6. With regard to the officer commanding the detachment at Mergui, the Governor-General in Council has abstained from passing any orders, his conduct

Captain B. and the other officers were acquitted by the Court-martial, of this charge.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

properly falling under the congizance of his military superiors, who, it is understood, have directed a Court of Enquiry to be held.

7. You will be pleased to communicate this despatch to the officer commanding the Tenasserim force for his information.

8. You will also be pleased to inform Captain B. that he has been placed at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief of Fort St. George; but that, he is to remain at Moulmein until he receives the further commands of his Excellency.

I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.
G. SWINTON, Chief Secy, to the Govt.

Fort William, 20th November, 1829.


Dated Moulmein, 17th Oct., 1829.


I have, in another despatch of this date, addressed you on the subject of our existing relations with Ava. In this, I shall do myself the honor of reporting the proceedings that I have adopted, in regard to the unfortunate occurrences which have taken place at Tavoy and Mergui. I joined the Deputy Commissioner at Tavoy on the 29th ultimo, and after holding a Special Court and making such in. vestigations and arrangements as appeared necessary, I returned to this station on the 15th instant. I am happy to premise, by assuring Government, that both districts of Tavoy and Mergui are now in the most perfect state of tranquillity and order.


2. The Deputy Commissioner's report of the 30th August has already put Government in possession of a good deal of information in regard to the late occurrences. There are points, however, which, from my longer residence on this coast, 1 better qualified than he to press on the notice of Government; and the principal one is, that there had always existed at Tavoy, as I have more than once had occasion to represent, a set of turbulent and seditious characters, who were dissatisfied with the loss of power and influence which they possessed under the former Burmese Government. Several of these persons were seized in the year 1825 by Colonel Wolfe. In the year 1826, a second conspiracy was detected, in which Moungda and several of Colonel Wolfe's prisoners we re again concerned; and as at that time I possessed no powers to try and punish such criminals, I had no resource but to seize those conspirators and confine them in irons, and send them up to Rangoon, whence most of them were thrown back upon me, having been released by the Commissioners at Rangoon, and allowed to return to Tavoy.

3. Both of these conspiracies were suppressed by the timely exercise of vigour and decision, qualities, which I am sure, if our officers had displayed at Tavoy on the first day of the disturbance, would have immediately and effectually put a stop to it. In 1825, Colonel Wolfe hearing that Moungda had collected four or five hundred men in his house, immediately sent a party of sepoys to his house, and seized him and the principal men. In 1826, Mr. Blundell, who was at that time in charge of Tavoy, hearing that a conspiracy had been formed to attack the sepoys, proceeded immediately and seized and put in irons Moungda and fourteen of the principal conspirators; and thus, on the recent occasion, I am satisfied, if Mr. Maule and Captain Cuxton had gone with, or sent a party of thirty or forty sepoys after Moungda and his followers on the morning of the 9th of August, they would have succeeded in apprehending them, or at least in dispersing them and putting an end to the whole affair. Nothing could be more contemptible than the force with which the insurgents attacked the magazine and jail. In the one attack, they had only ten muskets; and, in the other, four or five; and if the guard of fifteen sepoys at the jail, with five sentries bearing loaded muskets, had displayed but a tithe of the good conduct of the naick and six sepoys at the magazine, not one of the ninety prisoners would have been liberated, and the insurgents failing in both points, would have fled into the jungle. In one of my trials it came out, that the five sentries at the jail, although their arms were loaded, waited for the orders of the subadar before they would fire, and that that native officer told them that he could not let them

fire without the orders of the European officer of the day; whilst, in the mean time, all the ninety prisoners were escaping out of the jail by the very door way. I cannot discover that one of the prisoners was even wounded in effecting his escape. How much strength and confidence Moungda and his friends derived from the libera-. tion of these prisoners, it is needless to estimate.

4. In the observations, which I feel it my duty to make, far be it from me to accuse the officer commanding the troops at Tavoy, Captain Cuxton, who is since dead, of any thing like misconduct. Major Burney has testified to the energy and gallantry with which that officer extricated himself out of his difficult situation. I regret deeply, only the bad state of his health and the total ignorance in which he was necessarily placed from his recent arrival on this coast, with respect to the character and force of Moungda's party. But the events which followed Major Burney's arrival justify me in asserting, that if instead of evacuating the town, a party of sepoys had been suddenly moved against Moungda, the whole affair would have been easily settled. . The same force on our side, which was considered inadequate to maintain the town, re-took it by escalade, after being dispirited and fatigued by incessant hard duty for six days and nights, and after the insurgents had increased in number from two or three hundred to 1,300 fighting men, and had provided themselves with guns, jingals, and ammunition, and other means of offence and defence. This fact leads me to submit to the consideration of Government, whether I was not abundantly justified in believing, that the force which I had consulted should be allotted for the garrison of Tavoy, was quite sufficient for the defence of the place against all internal enemies.

5. I regret exceedingly, that the public service obliged me to remove Major Burney to Moulmein, and place Tavoy in charge if Mr. Assistant Surgeon Maule, for although no part of the conduct of the latter gentleman led to the disturbance, and although he was qualified to conduct the ordinary civil details better than any other person whom I could select on the spot, yet his habits and profession prevented him from giving Captain Cuxton, when military operations became necessary, that aid and confidence which the severe illness and local inexperience of that officer so greatly required.

6. The measure of withdrawing from the town to the wharf, to which no Burmese was admitted, I deplore exceedingly, for it in a manner dissolved our Government, and enabled Moungda and his friends to intimidate the lower classes and the well-disposed of the population to join him. That the majority of the population, however, was forced, contrary to their own wishes, to side with Moungda when he took possession of the town, must be manifest when we reflect how easily Major Burney re-captured the town and dispersed those whom Moungda had collected within it, and how active the inhabitants of the interior have been, in apprehending and bringing in all those who had held a conspicuous station under Moungda; and this is the second point, which I wish to press on the notice of Government, that the late revolt was not general but a partial one, planned by a well known set of seditious and desperate characters, who were favoured in the prosecution of their schemes, by the severe indisposition of the commanding officer, and by the local inexperience of himself and of all who acted under him.

7. The Deputy Commissioner in his despatch of the 36th August, reported that he had reserved thirty or forty prisoners for me to try. Upon my arrival at Tavoy, therefore, I held a Special Civil Commissioner's Court, and tried and sentenced a number of prisoners, regarding whom I beg to enclose a descriptive account, detailing the offence, sentences, and character of each prisoner.

8. I did not omit, however, to use the utmost exertions to discover whether I or any person under my authority, had given cause to these offenders to induce them to conspire against our Government. I pressed every man whom I tried, to let me know if he had any grievance, and not one prisoner pleaded such a cause in extenuation of his offence. In truth, I will venture to declare, that in no part of the world is greater care taken to hear and attend to the complaints of the inhabitants than in these provinces. The houses of myself, of my deputy and of all my assistants, are open at all hours of the day or night for the meanest to enter and state his complaint, either verbally or in writing. No measure of internal police revenue is adopted but in communication with the inhabitants, and the native officers selected from among themselves; and I beg here to refer only to the enclosed copy of the oath of


« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »