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royal order, written on a small piece of vellum paper, with a
flowered gold border, and purporting that the Woonghee and
Atweynwoon were directed to proceed to the British camp, and
arrange all subjects of dispute to the satisfaction of the English
Commissioners. To this no signature was attached, such not
being customary, but the paper was declared by Messrs. Jud-
son and Price perfectly satisfactory ; and the articles of the
treaty being then separately read, the Burmese acquiesced to
every one, without demurring in the least. They also engaged
themselves to procure boats, sufficient for the transportation of
5,000 men to Rangoon, and agreed to indemnify the prisoners
for all their losses within five days."

The pride of the king and court was exemplified
during the meeting by the following incident. The
treaty, with some slight modifications, was the same
as that proposed at Mellown, one of the clauses being
that each contracting power should send a Political
Eesident to the court of the other. Upon this the
Atweynwoon, who was the chief spokesman, observed
that he did not know how his sovereign could send a
representative to the British court at London, the
distance being so great. Thereupon he was at once
informed that the treaty was made with the East

192 Life of Sir George Pollock.

India Company, and that the Governor-General, as
the head of Indian affairs, and representative of the
Government, was the person to whom the envoy must
be accredited. It had hitherto been at all times the
policy of the Burmese court to decline to acknowledge
the Governor-General of India as a sovereign power,
competent to make war and peace, but the ambassa-
dors were so completely humbled that they were
obliged to swallow even this bitter pill.* The Gene-
ral then stated his intention of despatching a column
overland to Arracan, and further stipulated that no
Burmese troops were to approach within fifty miles
of Prome as long as his government retained posses-
sion of that city, nor proceed below Pegu and Donabew
whilst his soldiers remained at Eangoon, which town
would not be evacuated until the second instalment
of twenty-five lacs should be paid. Nothing re-
mained now but for the contracting parties to sign
the treaty ; but as it was necessary that the document
should be translated into the native tongue, a suffi-
cient number of copies could not be procured till next
day ; accordingly, another meeting was fixed for four
o'clock on the 24th. At that hour the Commissioners
again assembled, and without further discussion the
instrument known as the Treaty of Yandaboo was

* This disinclination to acknow- Embassy. That this policy is
ledge the Indian Government as founded on a mistaken view of our
supreme, has been recognized by Eastern relations, is strongly held
the Home Government during the by Anglo-Indians, official and non-
present year (1872) by the official official,
reception accorded to the Burmese

Life of Sir George Pollock. 193

signed and sealed, the Burmese affixing as their signet
the impression of a peacock. This auspicious event
was announced to the army by a royal salute of
twenty-one guns, and immediately afterwards all the
plenipotentiaries proceeded to witness the performance
of some evolutions by the 13th and 38th Eegiments,
which were on parade at the time. Some field-pieces
were also brought out, and fired fifty rounds to show
the rapidity with which the artillerymen could work
them ; and finally, several shells and rockets were
thrown across the river. " During the latter part of
the exhibition," writes an officer, " one of the rockets
exploded at the moment it left the tube, and scattered
the shot around us, but fortunately without doing
any injury ; when Sir Archibald Campbell, seeing
that the Burmese were rather discomposed, informed
them that they might now perceive we could make
our shells explode at any distance we pleased. After
this exhibition one of the Burmese was quietly asked
what he thought of it. ' Oh/ said he, ' we can do
all this much better ourselves at Ava.' '

Dinner awaited the principal men in the General's
tent, and they partook of almost every dish on the
table, but not one of them would commence eating
until the Woonghee set the example. Their English
hosts were obliged to cut their meat for them, as they
did not know how to use a knife, and were too polite
to eat with their fingers, seeing it was not our custom.
Not one of the party would take a glass of wine,
probably fearful lest it should be misrepresented to


194 Life of Sir George Pollock.

the king ; but they entered into conversation with
much ease and spirit, and the Atweynwoon declared
that really the English and Burmese nations were
very similar to each other, being equally possessed of
bravery, wisdom, talent, and every other good quality.
The same evening, at half-past nine, the two Chief
Commissioners left for Ava, and on the morning of
the 26th, Captain Lumsden, Lieutenant Havelock,
Deputy- Assistant Adjutant-General, and Dr. Knox,
proceeded up the river on their way to the capital as
a deputation to the king, for whose acceptance they
carried a few presents. His Burmese Majesty at first
declined to receive the British officers, whose visit he
regarded in the light of an insult, but subsequently he
changed his mind, and sent a handsome gilt war-boat
to convey them to Ava. A detailed account of their
visit is to be found in Captain Trant's work, to which
we would refer the reader for much interesting

The deputation returned to Yandaboo on the 4th
March with some paltry presents for Sir A. Campbell
and Mr. Eobertson. On the next day, a great portion
of the boats agreed to be supplied for the transport
of the army having arrived, the Commander-in-Chief
despatched Captain Chads, E.N., to Eangoon with
the treasure, and on the 6th February, the 18th
Madras Native Infantry, with fifty pioneers, and all
the elephants, thirty-six in number, under the com-
mand of Captain Eoss, proceeded from Yandaboo to
Pakangyeh, where they crossed the Irrawaddy. The

Life of Sir George Pollock. 1 95

march across country was successfully performed in
eleven days, and Aeng in Arracan was reached in
safety on the 26th March. The difficulties en-
countered on the route from Pakangyeh, a distance
of 124 miles, were by no means arduous, and the
success that crowned the attempt proved that had
General Morrison displayed more enterprise in ex-
amining this road, his army might have wintered in
the fine climate of Ava, instead of perishing of fever
in the malarious swamps of Arracan.

On the 8th March, Sir A. Campbell and his army
left Yandaboo in the following order : His Majesty's
1st, 13th, 38th, 41st, 47th, and 89th Eegiments, with
a portion of the Artillery, with whom went Colonel
Pollock, embarked in the boats, while His Majesty's
87th, and the 26th, 28th, 38th, and 43rd Madras
Native Infantry Eegiments, together with the Grover-
nor-Greneral's Body-guard, and the remainder of the
Artillery, forming a column under Colonel Hunter
Blair, were directed to march to Prome.

Thus ended in a manner highly honourable for the
British arms this the first Burmese war. By the
terms of the treaty of Yandaboo, the King of Ava
renounced all claim to, and right of interference
with, the country of Assam, and the principalities of
Jyntia and Cachar, and recognized the independence
of Munipore. He consented to cede in perpetuity
the four divisions of Arracan known as Arracan
proper, Eamri, Cheduba, and Sandoway; also the
three divisions of Tenasserim Ye, Tavoy, and

13 *

196 Life of Sir George Pollock.

Mergui, embracing the whole of the coast belong-
ing to Ava, south of the Sanluen river ; to receive
a Resident at his capital, and sanction the conclusion
of a commercial treaty ; and finally, to pay a crore of
rupees, or about a million sterling, in four instal-
ments, the first (as we have seen) immediately, the
second within 100 days from the date of the treaty,
and the remaining two in the course of the two
following years. On their part, the British Com-
missioners engaged to retire at once to Rangoon, and
to quit Burmese territory upon the payment of the
second instalment. It may be stated that the con-
ditions were ultimately fulfilled, although the pay-
ment of the promised indemnity was tardily and
reluctantly completed.

Sir Archibald Campbell, accompanied by Mr.
Eobertson, after visiting Calcutta early in April,
returned to Eangoon, of which he held possession
agreeably to the terms of the treaty until the second
instalment was received at the end of the year, when
he removed the troops to Moulmein, opposite to Mar-
taban, on the British side of the Sanluen river.

To the intrepid exertion of every branch of the
force, Native and European, military and naval, and
to the spirit and skill with which they were led, the
Governor-General in Council paid appropriate and
well-earned acknowledgments in a general order, while
his lordship did not omit to express the tribute of his
regret for those brave men who had fallen in the
course of the war by the sword of the enemy, or the

Life of Sir George Pollock. 197

still more deadly influence of the climate. The
public thanks of the Court of Directors were also
given, on the 24th November, 1826, to the Governor-
General, to the Governor of Madras (Sir Thomas
Munro), to whose exertions it was owing that the
force was kept from starving soon after the capture
of Eangoon, to Sir Archibald Campbell and Sir
James Brisbane, and the officers and men engaged in
this war. His Majesty's Government also signified
their approbation of the conduct of the Governor-
General, Lord Amherst, by creating him Earl
Amherst of Arracan. Sir A. Campbell was nomi-
nated a G.C.B., and in 1831 was made a baronet;
while the thanks of both Houses of Parliament were
voted to the officers and men of the army and navy in
His Majesty's and the East India Company's services ?
for their exertions in these prolonged operations.*

Colonel Pollock's meritorious services were specially
acknowledged by the Governor-General in Council
in the general order thanking the troops, and he
was gazetted a Companion of the Bath.

* The Governor- General in the Government Gazette of the

Council also awarded, on the 3rd 25th October, 1827.

August, 1826, six months' " batta " Medals in those days were not

to all the troops and seamen of given with the liberality we have

the flotillas employed at the scene witnessed in our time, and it was

of war for a period of twelve not until many years afterwards,

months, and half that amount to that the subject of this memoir

those engaged for a shorter term ; received for his varied services, the

and a further grant of a similar Indian War Medal with four clasps

amount was awarded by the for the battle of Deig, siege of

Honourable Court of Directors, Deig, Nepaul war, and Burmese

and announced to the recipients in war.

198 Life of Sir George Pollock.

But this first Burmese war, so successfully prose-
cuted, was remarkable, not so much for the complete
and almost bloodless character of its chief victories,
as for the arduous nature of the marches performed
by a handful of troops over territories far distant
from the base of supplies, or from the ports whence
might be received reinforcements in the event of a
reverse. This campaigning was also a good school,
in which graduated such a proficient in the highest
branches of the art of war as Havelock. Here also
those brilliant soldiers, Sale and Godwin, earned
unfading laurels ; indeed, while attentively studying
the events of the war, one is struck by the fact that
one or other of these two brothers in arms, and
rivals only in glory, who have since made their mark
in history one at Ghuznee and Jellalabad, the
other by the successful prosecution of the second
Burmese war, one or other appears to have headed
almost every assault from Eangoon to Pagahm Mew.
In Burmah, also, those engineers, Sir John Cheape
and Sir Frederick Abbott, laid the foundation of that
intimate acquaintance with military engineering with
which their names are inseparably identified, and
which was turned to such good account, in the one
case at Mooltan, and at Goojerat in 1849, and in the
other under General Pollock in Afghanistan, and
at the passage of the Sutlej after .Sobraon in 1846,
when 100,000 men, with 40 pieces of artillery and
68,000 cattle, crossed the river under his directions
without a single casualty. That the Artillery also

Life of Sir George Pollock. 199

were not behind their brethren of the Line and
Engineers, in producing a great General and able
strategist, will be conceded before this memoir is con-
cluded ; while the name of another officer of the same
branch of the service should not be omitted from
honourable mention. Second in command of the
Madras Artillery was Captain (afterwards General
Sir Patrick) Montgomerie, who was present through-
out the whole of the operations of the war, com-
mencing with the capture of Rangoon on the llth
May, 1824, and inclusive of the final action at
Pagahm Mew on the 9th February, 1826.*

Colonel Pollock returned to Calcutta with the
greater portion of the army, but his health had been
rudely shaken by all the exposure and hardships he
had undergone, and, soon after his arrival in India,
comp]etely broke down, necessitating sick leave to
England for a lengthened period. He embarked from
Calcutta early in 1827, and was nine months on his
passage home. Thanks to the invigorating air of his
native climate, Colonel Pollock's health was completely
restored, and he returned to the scene of his event-
ful career in 1830. During his absence in England
he was promoted to his full colonelcy (by brevet rank)
in the Company's service, on the 1st December, 1829,
but he did not receive his king's commission until
the 3rd March, 1835. On his arrival in India he was
posted to the command of a battalion of artillery at

* Strange to say, the gallant General died the day before Sir George

2OO Life of Sir George Pollock.

Cawnpore.* Here he remained until, owing to his
standing in the service, he was nominated, early in
1838, a brigadier, and temporarily posted to a divi-
sional command at Dinapore.

Colonel Pollock used to tell an anecdote of the cir-
cumstances attending his appointment. Sir Henry
Fane was Commander-in-Chief at this time, and, on re-
ceiving his promotion, he called upon his military chief
to thank him for the honour which had been conferred
upon him. His Excellency had, it appears, been
strongly opposed to his appointment, on the ground
that the Horse Gruards never nominated Artillery or
Engineer officers to commands at home ; and on the
newly- appointed brigadier commencing to thank him,
he exclaimed, " You have nothing to thank me for,
but," he added, shaking his hand, " I am glad you
have been appointed." He was subsequently posted
to the command of the Agra district, and in the same
year was promoted to the rank of major-general, his
commission bearing date 28th June, 1838. Whilst
holding the command at Agra, Colonel Pollock was
ordered to inspect all the irregular corps in Bundel-

* The Bengal Artillery had been troops, and a company to each
augmented in 1817 and 1827, and European company, and a driver
now consisted of three brigades of company to each field battery.
Horse Artillery, each with three The establishment of officers con-
European and one native troop, sisted of ten colonels, ten lieu-
five battalions of European Foot tenant-colonels, ten majors, fifty
Artillery, of four companies each, captains, one hundred first-lieu-
and two battalions of Native Foot tenants, and fifty second-lieu-
Artillery, of eight companies each. tenants.
Lascars were attached to the

Life of Sir George Pollock. 201

cund, which duty he carried out to the satisfaction of
his superiors.

We are now approaching that portion of Pollock's
military career on which rests his claim to rank
among the greatest of our Indian generals. A short
retrospect of the condition of affairs, not less lament-
able than serious, to which our position as a sovereign
power in India had been reduced by a series of
grievous mistakes arising from political bungling
and military incompetence, is necessary before we
plunge into a detailed history of the brilliant general-
ship, crowned by a series of glorious triumphs, that
marks the story of the annals of India bet ween those
memorable months of April to September, 1842. The
student of the history of those years will read one
name as occupying the brightest and most prominent
place, and that name is George Pollock.

2O2 Life of Sir George Pollock.


Peshawur : 5th February to 4th April, 1842.

NOT long after Major-General Pollock's appointment
to the command at Agra, commenced that period of
bloodshed and political convulsion which continued
with but little cessation for twenty years, until the
great Sepoy mutiny brought all the previous horrors
of war to a climax, and by its dramatic surroundings
and incidents fittingly closed, let us hope for many
years, the age of war and violence in our Indian
possessions. We will briefly recapitulate the military
events in Afghanistan, which, having their commence-
ment in victory, their continuance in an ill-judging
estimate that all was peace "where there was no
peace," were finally brought to a conclusion by the
fearful awakening that, in the winter of 1841, opened
the eyes of politicians and soldiers, and brought
George Pollock on the scene as the retriever of
British honour and the avenger of British blood.

In the year 1838, Lord Auckland, who had suc-
ceeded to the post of Governor-General of India in
1836, desirous of erecting a bulwark against Russian
aggression, resolved to dethrone Dost Mahommed,

Life of Sir George Pollock. 203

the ruler of Cabul, and place Shah Soojah, who had
formerly occupied the throne, in his stead. With this
ohject he concluded, in the summer of 1838, a pact
which is known in Indian history as the Tripartite
treaty, to which the two other parties were respectively,
Eunjeet Singh, the able ruler of the Punjaub, but
who was then tottering on the brink of the grave, and
Shah Soojah, whom it was Lord Auckland's intention
"to restore to the throne of his ancestors," as he phrased
this fatal determination to interfere in the politics of
Central Asia. The British army assembled for the
invasion of Afghanistan, was designated the " Army
of the Indus," and consisted of two divisions, respec-
tively named the Bengal and Bombay columns.
The former, consisting of 9,500 men of all arms,
30,000 camels, and 38,000 camp followers, was at
first placed under the orders of the Commander-in-
Chief, Sir Henry Fane, who, on the relinquishment of
the siege of Herat by the Persians (owing mainly to
the ability and soldierly leadership of Eldred Pottinger,
a subaltern in the Bombay Artillery) resigned the
command to Pollock's old General of the Burmese
war, Sir Willoughby Cotton. This column started
from Ferozepore on the 10th of December; while
the Bombay division, numbering 5,600 men, under
the command of Sir John Keane, a veteran soldier,
proceeded in November by sea to Yikkur, thence
marching by Tattah and Hyderabad to Shikarpoor,
where the entire army met. In addition to these
columns, there was the so-called Contingent of

2O4 Life of Sir George Pollock.

Shah Soojah, about 6,000 strong, paid by the Indian
Government and led by its officers. This force broke
ground at Loodiana on the 1 5th of November, under
the command of Major-General Simpson. Mr. Mac-
naghten accompanied the expedition as Envoy and
Minister at the court of the prince we sought to
place on the throne. We will pass over the pro-
ceedings of the British army until their occupation
of Candahar, which city Shah Soojah entered on
April 25, 1839, Kohun-Dil-Khan, and the other
Barukzye brothers, who divided between them the
sovereignty of Western Afghanistan, making no
attempt at opposition After a brief interval, the
march was resumed towards Cabul. Ninety miles
from it lay the citadel of Ghuznee, a fortress believed
by the Afghans to be impregnable, but its gates were
blown in with gunpowder, and the fort taken by
storm in a most gallant manner.* Pursuing its
march, the army reached Cabul on the 6th of August,
and on the following -day, Shah Soojah, after an exile
of thirty years, made his public entry into the capital,
his rival, Dost Mahommed, having fled to the Hindoo
Koosh. The war was now considered at an end, and
gradually the greater portion of the army of the Indus

* The chief credit for this re- Brigadier Sale and Colonel Den-
markable exploit was due to Cap- nie, of the 13th Light Infantry,
tain Thomson and Lieutenants were drawn from that distin-
Durand and Macleod, of the Ben- guished regiment, and the 2nd
gal Engineers, who proposed and and 17th (Queen's) and the Corn-
carried out the explosion of the pany's European Regiment, now
gate, while the stormers, under the 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers.

Life of Sir George Pollock. 205

was withdrawn, leaving behind them a column of 5,000
men under General Elphinstone, who had assumed
the chief command from Sir W. Cotton, (who had
previously succeeded Lord Keane, raised to the peer-
age for the capture of Ghuznee), and another division
of about the same strength at Candahar under Major-
General William Nott, exclusive of the Shah's Con-
tingent, which was equally divided between Eastern
and Western Afghanistan.

During the two years that Shah Soojah and his
allies remained in possession of Candahar and Cabul,
efforts were made to reduce the refractory chiefs who
still held out. These efforts, however, proved unsuc-
cessful, and indications were not wanting of the
difficulty of maintaining our puppet king on the

At length, on November 2, 1841, a terrible out-
break occurred at Cabul, in which Sir Alexander
Burnes, Captain Broadfoot, and other officers were
murdered, while the treasury was burnt and plundered
of 170,000 rupees. During the emeute owing to
the incapacity of the British General, who though
personally brave, was unfitted, by reason of mental and
bodily infirmities, for his post the army of 5,000 men
was inactive, though only distant a mile and a quarter
from the city. It is foreign to our purpose to enter
into details of the lamentable " tragedy of errors,"
that was played out to its bitter end before the walls
of that Afghan capital. In a conference held between
Sir William Macnaghten and Akbar Khan, son of

206 Life of Sir George Pollock.

Dost Mahommed, on December 23, 1841, the
British Envoy and Captain Trevor were treacherously
murdered, the lives of Captain (now General Sir George)
Lawrence, his military secretary, and Captain (now
General) Colin Mackenzie, one of his assistants, for-
tunately being spared. Shortly after this disaster
the position of the British army became critical ; a
convention was entered into, having for its object
our evacuation of Afghanistan, and early in January,
1 842, the troops began to move through the terrible
defiles that lie between Cabul and Jellalabad. Then
commenced as disastrous a retreat as any on record.
In addition to the hardships and privations incident
to a severe winter, the troops were exposed to the
unceasing attacks of a remorseless enemy.

Akbar Khan obtained possession of the ladies and
principal officers, and then retired to Cabul, leaving
the betrayed army to their fate. At the Jugdulluck
Pass, twelve of the bravest officers met their doom,
and there the army may be said to have ceased to
exist. Twenty officers and forty-five European sol-
diers contrived to reach Gundamuck, but, with one
exception, all were subsequently massacred, that one
being Dr. Brydon, who reached the ramparts of Jel-
lalabad on January 13, the sole survivor (with the
exception of 120 hostages and captives) of a body
of 15,000 fighting men and camp followers.

The Cabul tragedy gave rise to further reverses.
Early in 1842, Colonel Palmer surrendered Ghuznee,
and the only post remaining between Eastern and

Life of Sir George Pollock. 207

Western Afghanistan was Khelat-i-Ghilzye, gallantly
held by Captain Craigie with 250 men of the 43rd
Bengal N. I. In this dark hour of disgrace and
defeat it is gratifying to record the names of Nott
and Sale, which shine out with the old traditional
glory of the English soldier ; the former not only
defended Candahar, but on January 12th in the same

Online LibraryCharles Rathbone LowThe life and correspondence of Field Marshall Sir George Pollock ...(constable of the Tower) → online text (page 15 of 40)