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Title: The Pacification of Burma

Author: C. H. T. Crosthwaite

Release date: June 8, 2014 [eBook #45915]

Language: English



E-text prepared by Moti Ben-Ari
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Transcriber's Note

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Book cover




Picket on the Chin Hills.







(All rights reserved)




Upper Burma was invaded and annexed in the year 1885. The work hardly occupied a month. In the following year the subjugation of the people by the destruction of all formidable armed resistance was effected; lastly, the pacification of the country, including the establishment of an orderly government with peace and security, occupied four years.

As head of the civil administration, I was mainly concerned with this last phase.

It would be a difficult task to give a continuous history of the military operations by which the country was subjugated. The resistance opposed to our troops was desultory, spasmodic, and without definite plan or purpose. The measures taken to overcome it necessarily were affected by these characteristics, although they were framed on definite principles. A history of them would resolve itself into a number of more or less unconnected narratives.

A similar difficulty, but less in degree, meets the attempt to record the measures which I have included in the term "pacification." Certain definite objects were always before us. The policy to be followed for their attainment was fixed, and the measures and instruments by which it was to be carried out were selected and prepared. But I have found it best not to attempt to follow[vi] any order, either chronological or other, in writing this narrative.

My purpose in writing has been to give an intelligible narrative of the work done in Burma in the years following the annexation. It was certainly arduous work done under great difficulties of all kinds, and, from the nature of the case, with less chance of recognition or distinction than of disease or death. The work was, I believe, well done, and has proved itself to be good.

My narrative may not attract many who have no connection with Burma. But for those who served in Burma during the period covered by it, whether soldiers or civilians, it may have an interest, and especially for those still in the Burma Commission and their successors.

I hope that Field-Marshal Sir George White, V.C., to whom, and to all the officers and men of the Burma Field Force, I owe so much, may find my pages not without interest.

I have endeavoured to show how the conduct of the soldiers of the Queen, British and Indian, helped the civil administration to establish peace.

I believe, as I have said, that our work has been successful. The credit, let us remember, is due quite as much to India as to Britain. How long would it have taken to subjugate and pacify Burma if we had not been able to get the help of the fighting-men from India, and what would have been the cost in men and money? For the Burmans themselves I, in common with all who have been associated with them, have a sincere affection. Many of them assisted us from the first, and from the Upper Burmans many loyal and capable gentlemen are now helping to govern their country justly and efficiently.

It has been brought home to me in making this rough[vii] record how many of those who took part in this campaign against disorder have laid down their lives. I hope I may have helped to do honour to their memories.

I have to thank all the kind friends who have sent me photographs to illustrate this book, and especially Sir Harvey Adamson, the present Lieutenant-Governor, for his kindness in making my wants known.

C. H. C.

February, 1912.




XVI.THE SHAN STATES (continued)160








On the 20th of December, 1852, Lord Dalhousie issued a proclamation annexing the province of Pegu to the British Dominions. "The Governor-General in Council," he said, "having exacted the reparation he deems sufficient, desires no further conquest in Burma and is willing that hostilities should cease.

"But if the King of Ava shall fail to renew his former relations with the British Government, and if he shall recklessly seek to dispute its quiet possession of the province it has now declared to be its own, the Governor-General in Council will again put forth the power he holds and will visit with full retribution aggressions, which, if they be persisted in, must of necessity lead to the total subversion of the Burman State and to the ruin and exile of the King and his race."

In 1885 the fulfilment of this menace—prophecy it might be called—was brought about by the contumacy of the Government of Ava. The Burman State was "totally subverted." Its territories were added to the British Empire. The King and his race were "ruined and exiled."

At the end of November, 1885, the British commander was in full possession of Mandalay, the capital. Our forces had made a procession up the great river, which is the main artery of the country, almost unopposed. Such opposition as there had been was childish in its feebleness and want of skill and purpose. Fortunately for us the King and his[2] ministers prided themselves on their voluntary army system. King Thebaw was not going to compel his subjects to defend their country. They were told to go about their daily tasks without fear or carefulness. They might sleep in their beds. He would see to it that the foreign barbarians were driven into the sea whence they had come. Unfortunately the soldiers to whom he trusted were insufficiently trained, badly armed and equipped. He had intended, perhaps, to remedy all this and to train his troops for six months before the fighting began.

His enemy, however, was unreasonably hasty and had an abundance of fast steamers for transporting the invading force. Before the training could begin or the arms be provided or the officers instructed, the invaders were before Ava, where the bulk of the defending army had been collected, and a few miles from the capital. The King's government was as helpless as it had been arrogant and pretentious. Ministers of State were sent down in hot haste with messages of submission and surrender.

The army, however, took a different view of the case. They refused to obey the order to surrender which had come from Mandalay. Before General Prendergast could land his men they dispersed over the country in every direction with their arms, and as the British force had no cavalry to pursue them, they got away to a man. At first under various leaders, few of whom showed any military talent, they waged a guerilla warfare against the invaders; and afterwards, when their larger divisions had been defeated and broken up, they succeeded in creating a state of anarchy and brigandage ruinous to the peasantry and infinitely harassing to the British.

On the 29th of November Mandalay was occupied and the King a prisoner on his way down the river to Rangoon. The waterway from Mandalay to the sea was under our control. A few of the principal places on the banks of the river had been held by small garrisons as the expedition came up, and the ultimate subjugation of the Burman people was assured. The trouble, however, was to come.

To a loosely organized nation like the Burmese, the occupation of the capital and the removal of the King meant nothing. They were still free to resist and fight. It was[3] to be five years before the last of the large gangs was dispersed, the leaders captured, and peace and security established.

Burma will be, in all likelihood, the last important province to be added to the Indian Empire. Eastward that Empire has been extended as far as our arms can well reach. Its boundaries march with Siam, with the French dominion of Tongking, and on the East and North for a vast distance with China. Our convention with France for the preservation of the territory which remains to Siam and our long friendship with the latter country bars any extension of our borders in that direction. It is improbable that we shall be driven to encroach on Chinese territory; and so far as the French possessions are concerned, a line has been drawn by agreement which neither side will wish to cross.

In all likelihood, therefore, the experience gained in Burma will not be repeated in Asia. Nevertheless it may be worth while to put on record a connected account of the methods by which a country of wide extent, destitute of roads and covered with dense jungle and forest, in which the only rule had become the misrule of brigands and the only order systematic disorder, was transformed in a few years into a quiet and prosperous State.

I cannot hope that the story will be of interest to many, but it may be of some interest and perhaps of use to those who worked with me and to their successors.

From 1852 to 1878 King Mindôn ruled Upper Burma fairly well. He had seized the throne from the hands of his brother Pagan Min, whose life he spared with more humanity than was usual on such occasions. He was, to quote from the Upper Burma Administration Report of 1886, "an enlightened Prince who, while professing no love for the British, recognized the power of the British Government, was always careful to keep on friendly terms with them, and was anxious to introduce into his kingdom, as far as was compatible with the maintenance of his own autocratic power, Western ideas and Western civilization." He was tolerant in religious matters even for a Burmese Buddhist. He protected and even encouraged the Christian missions in Upper Burma, and for Dr. Marks, the[4] representative of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Mandalay he built a handsome teak church and a good clergy-house, giving a tinge of contempt to his generosity by putting them down by the Burmese burial-ground. The contempt was not for the religion but for the foreign barbarians who professed it.

His measures for encouraging trade and increasing and ordering the revenues were good, and the country prospered under him. In Burma there are no hereditary leaders of the people. There is no hereditary aristocracy outside the royal family, and their descendants rapidly merge into the people. There was no law or binding custom determining the descent of the crown within the family. Every one with royal blood, however little, in his veins was a potential pretender. Whenever the crown demised the succession was settled by intrigue or violence, and possible aspirants were removed by the prince who had obtained the prize. There was no other way of securing its peaceful enjoyment.

Under the King was the Hlutdaw, or great Council of State, composed of the Chief Ministers, who were appointed by the King from the courtiers who had the good fortune to be known to him or had helped him to the throne. To each of these was assigned a province of the empire, which he governed through a deputy.

The immediate power was vested in the deputy, who resided in the province and remitted to the Minister as much as he could collect over and above the amount due to the crown and, it need hardly be said, necessary for his own needs. The provinces were divided into townships, which were ruled by officials appointed by the governors, no doubt with regard to local influence and claims, and with a general inclination to keep the office in a family.

The really stable part of the administration on which everything rested was the village, the headship of which was by custom hereditary, but not necessarily in the direct line.

As there was little central control, it may be supposed that under a system of this kind the people were pillaged, and doubtless they were to some extent. But the deputy-governor on the spot had no organized police or militia to[5] support him. If he wanted to use force he had to pay for it, and if he drove his province to the point of rebellion he was unlikely to profit by it.

The amount of revenue was fixed at Mandalay with reference to a rough estimate of what the province could pay, and that was divided amongst the townships and again amongst the villages. The headman of each village, assisted by a committee or Punchayet, as it would be called in India, settled the sum due from each householder, and this was as a rule honestly and fairly done. It was not a bad system on the whole, and it was in its incidence probably as just as local taxation in Great Britain, which I admit is somewhat faint praise.

As to the administration of justice between man and man and the security of life and property, there was no doubt little refinement of law and not always impartiality in the judges. The majority of civil cases in a society like Burma, where there are few rich men and no great landowners, must be trivial, and in Burma disputes were settled by arbitration or by the village headmen, who could rarely set at nought the opinion of their fellow-villagers.

In a country which is under-populated and contains vast areas of land fit for cultivation unoccupied and free to all, migration is a great check on oppression. Life is simple in Burma. The climate for the most of the year makes a roof unnecessary; flitting is easy. Every man is his own carpenter. He has put together his house of bamboo and planks cut by his own hands. He knows how to take it down. He has not to send for contractors or furniture vans. There are the carts and the plough cattle in his sheds. He has talked things over with his wife, who is a capable and sensible woman.

One morning they get up, and instead of going to his fields or his fishing or whatever it may be, he takes his tools, and before sunset, his wife helping, the house is down and, with the simple household goods, is in the cart. The children find a place in it, or if they are old enough they run along with the mother. If the local magistrate is so blind to his own interests as to oppress his people, there is another wiser man a few score leagues away who is ready to welcome them. For what is the good of land without[6] men to live on it? Is not the King's revenue assessed at so much to the house? But suppose the worst comes to the worst and the man in power is a fiend, and neither property nor life nor honour is safe from him, even then there is the great forest, in which life, though hard, is a real pleasure to a man; and, given a good leader, the oppressed may soon change places with his oppressor.

We are too ready to imagine that life under such a King as Mindôn or even as Thebaw must be unbearable. We fancy them armed with all the organization of the Inland Revenue Department and supported by a force like our constabulary. Fortunately they were not. No system of extortion yet devised by the most ruthless and greedy tyrant is at all comparable in its efficacy to the scientific methods of a modern revenue officer. The world will see to what a perfection of completeness the arts of oppression and squeezing can be carried when the power of modern European organization is in the hands of a socialist government.

It need not be supposed, therefore, that under King Mindôn life in Upper Burma was bad, and it must be remembered that since 1852 escape to British Burma, although forbidden, was not impossible.

Under Thebaw things were different. Mindôn was on the whole well-intentioned, and had kept the power in his own hands. Thebaw was weak and incompetent, and the Ministers who had most influence with him were the worst men. With his barbarities, old-fashioned rather than unexampled, and perhaps not much worse than the measures of precaution usually taken in Burma after the succession of a new king, or with the causes of the war which led to his deposition, the present narrative is not concerned. It is desired to give as clear an idea as possible of the state of Upper Burma when we were called upon to administer the country.

The rapacity and greed of the Court, where the Queen Supayalat was the ruling spirit, set the example to the whole hierarchy of officials. The result was a state of extreme disorder throughout the whole kingdom. The demands made on the people for money became excessive and intolerable. Men left their villages and took to the jungle. Bands of armed brigands, some of considerable strength under active leaders, sprang up everywhere. Formed in the first instance as a protest and defence against extortion, they soon began to live on the country and to terrorize the peasantry. After a time, brigands and Ministers, finding themselves working for a common object, formed an unholy alliance for loot. The leaders of the bands came to an understanding with the more powerful officials, who in turn leant upon them for support.

The Palace, Mandalay—"Centre of the Universe."


Under such conditions it was not wonderful that the sudden seizure of the capital and the summary removal of the King should have completed the dissolution of society, already far advanced. The British Government, if it had decided to annex Upper Burma, might by a more leisurely occupation, not only with a larger military force, but with a complete staff of civil administrators, have saved the people from some years of anarchy and great suffering. But that is not our way, and under modern political conditions in England is impossible.

The country was taken and its government destroyed before we had decided what we should do with it, or considered the effect on the people.

The King's rule ended on the 29th of November, 1885. On the 1st of January, 1886, the Viceroy's proclamation included Upper Burma in Her Majesty's dominions. The administration of the country was temporarily provided for by allowing the Hlutdaw, or great Council of State, to continue in power, discharging all its functions as usual, but under the guidance of Colonel (afterwards Sir E. B.) Sladen, who was attached as Political officer to General Prendergast's staff. All Civil officers, British and Burmese, were placed under the Hlutdaw's orders, and the King's Burmese officials throughout the country were instructed to go on with the regular performance of their duties as if nothing had occurred. Some arrangement had to be made, and probably this was the best possible. The best was bad.

On the 15th of December the Chief Commissioner, Sir Charles Bernard, arrived at Mandalay from Rangoon. On his way up the river he had visited Minhla, Pagan and Myingyan, where Civil officers, supported by small garrisons,[8] had been placed by General Prendergast. He decided that these three districts should be removed from the jurisdiction of the Hlutdaw and controlled directly by himself. Mandalay town and district were similarly treated. A British officer was appointed to govern them, under the immediate orders of Colonel Sladen, who was responsible to the Chief Commissioner.

All this must have confused the minds of the people and prevented those who were ready to submit to the British power from coming forward. Fortunately this period of hesitation was short. From the 26th of February, 1886, Upper Burma became a province of British India.

When the Chief Commissioner, who had gone down to Rangoon with the Viceroy, returned to Mandalay, the Hlutdaw was finally dissolved and Sir Charles Bernard took the government into his own hands. A few of the Burmese Ministers were retained as advisers. At first they were of some use as knowing the facts and the ways of the King's administration. Very soon they became superfluous.

It must not be supposed that no steps had been taken towards the construction of an administration during the first two months of the year. Anticipating the decision of Her Majesty's Government, Sir Charles Bernard had applied his signal energy to this work, and before the end of February the Viceroy had laid his rough proposals before the Secretary of State. As soon as Upper Burma was incorporated with British India the scheme of government already drafted came into force.

The country was mapped out into fourteen districts, corresponding as closely as possible to the existing provinces under the King, namely:—

Mandalay    MinbuPagan
KathaBhamoNingyan, afterwards
AvaShwèbo    called Pyinmana
ChindwinKyauksè    Ye-w

and after a time three more were added: Taungdwingyi, Meiktila, and the Ruby Mines. The boundaries were necessarily left vague at first until more accurate knowledge of the country enabled them to be defined. At first there[9] were no maps whatever. The greater part of the country had not been occupied nor even visited by us.

To each district was appointed an officer of the Burma Commission under the style of Deputy Commissioner, with a British police officer to assist him and such armed force of police as could be assigned to him. His first duty was to get in touch with the local officials and to induce those capable and willing to serve us to retain or take office under our Government.

Having firmly established his authority at headquarters, he was to work outwards in a widening circle, placing police posts and introducing settled administration as opportunity offered. He was, however, to consider it his primary object to attack and destroy the robber bands and to protect the loyal villages from their violence. There were few districts in which the guerilla leaders were not active. Their vengeance on every Burman who attempted to assist the British was swift and unmerciful. As it was impossible at first and for some time to afford adequate protection, villages which aided and sheltered the enemy were treated with consideration. The despatch of flying columns moving through a part of the country and returning quickly to headquarters was discouraged. There was a tendency in the beginning of the business to follow this practice, which was mischievous. If the people were friendly and helped the troops, they were certain to suffer when the column retired. If they were hostile, a hasty visit had little effect on them. They looked on the retirement as a retreat and became more bitter than before.

Upper Burma was incorporated with British India on the 26th of February. Thereupon the elaborate Statute law of India, including the Civil and Criminal Codes, came into force, a body of law which implies the existence of a hierarchy of educated and trained officials, with police and gaols and all the machinery of organized administration. But there were none of these things in Upper Burma, which was, in fact, an enemy's country, still frankly hostile to us. This difficulty had been foreseen, and the proper remedy suggested in Lord Dufferin's minute (dated at Mandalay on the 17th of February, 1886) in which he proposed to annex the country.


The Acts for the Government of India give to the Secretary of State the power of constituting any province or part of a province an excepted or scheduled district, and thereupon the Governor of the province may draw up regulations for the peace and good government of the district, which, when approved by the Governor-General in Council, have the full force of law.[1]

This machinery is put in force by a resolution of the Secretary of State in Council, and at the Viceroy's instance a resolution for this purpose was made, with effect from and after the 1st of March, 1886. It applied to all Upper Burma except the Shan States.

Sir Charles Bernard was ready to take advantage of the powers given to him. Early in March he published an admirable rough code of instructions, sufficiently elastic to meet the varying conditions, and at the same time sufficiently definite to prevent anything like injustice or oppression. The summary given in Section 10 of the Upper Burma Administration Report for 1886 shows their nature.

"By these instructions each district was placed in charge of a Civil officer, who was invested with the full powers of a Deputy Commissioner, and in criminal matters with power to try as a magistrate any case and to pass any sentence. The Deputy Commissioner was also invested with full power to revise the proceedings of any subordinate magistrate or official and to pass any order except an order enhancing a sentence. In criminal matters the courts were to be guided as far as possible by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Penal Code, and the Evidence Act (i.e., the Indian Codes). But dacoity or robbery was made punishable with death, though magistrates were instructed to pass capital sentences only in very heinous cases. In order to provide a safeguard against undue severity in the infliction of punishments, it was ordered that no capital sentence should be carried out except after confirmation by the Chief Commissioner. No regular appeals were allowed from any decision; but it was open for any one who felt aggrieved by the decision of a subordinate officer to move the Deputy Commissioner to revise the order, and for any one who demurred to an order passed by a Deputy Commissioner to bring the matter to the notice of the Chief Commissioner.


"In revenue matters the customs of the country were as far as possible to be observed, save that no monopolies (except that of precious stones) were allowed and no customs or transport duties were levied. As regards excise administration, in accordance with the custom of the country the sale of opium and of intoxicating liquors to Burmans was prohibited. But a limited number of licences were issued for the sale of liquors to persons not of Burmese race, and the Chinese were specially exempted from the restrictions imposed on the traffic in opium."

Thus in four months after annexation the country had been parcelled into seventeen districts, each under the charge of a Deputy Commissioner, who was guided by the provisional instructions and worked at first directly under the Chief Commissioner. It was thought (vide Lord Dufferin's minute of February 17, 1886) that the province could be worked, in the beginning, without any authority such as Divisional Commissioners or Sessions Judges interposed between the Chief Commissioner and the district officers. "I would adopt, as I have already said," wrote Lord Dufferin, "the simplest and cheapest system of administration open to us. There will be in each district or circle one British Civil officer and one police officer. The Civil officer will work through the indigenous agency of the country, Myo-ôks (governors of towns), Thugyis (headmen of villages) and others, confining his efforts in the first instance to the restoration of order, the protection of life and property, and the assessment and collection of the ordinary revenue.... But most of the unimportant criminal work and nearly all the civil suits must be disposed of by the native officials, subject to the check and control of the district officer."

The area of the province, excluding the Shan States, which were left to the care of their own chiefs, was nearly one hundred thousand square miles. It was divided into seventeen districts. There were no roads in the interior, much of which was difficult country. The Irrawaddy, it is true,[12] formed a splendid line of communication from north to south. But the river was not connected with the districts east or west of it by anything better than an ordinary village cart-track, with numerous streams and rivers, most of them unbridged. The Eastern districts between the Sittang and the Irrawaddy were especially inaccessible. Under such circumstances it was impossible for any man to discharge the duties imposed on the Chief Commissioner, even if all his subordinates had been endowed with ripe wisdom and experience. Only a man of the heroic energy and devotion of Sir Charles Bernard could have conceived it possible. Moreover, the Chief Commissioner was to be responsible for all death sentences, and was to be the final Court of Revision for the province; while the lower province also remained in his charge, and although he was relieved of the routine work of Lower Burma, the responsibility still rested on him, and was by no means nominal. It was not business.

The difficulty soon began to be felt. In June a Commissioner was appointed for the Eastern Division, Mr. St. G. Tucker, from the Punjab. In August and September three more commissionerships were constituted, to one of which, the Northern, was appointed Mr. Burgess (the late Mr. G. D. Burgess), of the Burma Commission; to the Central Division, Mr. F. W. Fryer (now Sir Frederick Fryer), from the Punjab; and Mr. J. D. La Touche (now Sir James La Touche) from the North-Western Provinces to the Southern Division. The Chief Commissioner delegated to them, in their respective divisions, the general control of the district officers and the revision of their judicial proceedings, including the duty of confirming sentences of death.

The administrative divisions of the province, excluding the Shan States, then stood as follows:—

1. The Northern DivisionBhamo
 Ruby Mines
2. The Central DivisionSagaing
3. The Eastern DivisionMeiktila
 Ningyan (afterwards called Pyinmana)
4. The Southern DivisionMyingyan

This organization enabled the Chief Commissioner to attend to his own work and brought the task of governing the whole of Burma within the powers of an energetic man. It enabled him to give sufficient time to the organization of the revenue and of the police and to the exercise of that control without which there could be no united action. The attempt to govern without an authority intervening between the executive officers in the districts and the head of the province was due to a desire for economy, and to the belief that in this way there would be closer connection and easier communication between the Chief Commissioner and the executive officers. In fact, the contrary was the result, and in all such cases must be.

The framework of a civil administration had now been formed. It remained to give the district officers such armed support as would enable them to govern their charges.

In the autumn of 1886 the country generally was far from being under our control. It had been supposed that our coming was welcome to the people and that "the prospects of the substitution of a strong and orderly government for the incompetent and cruel tyranny of their former ruler" was by the people generally regarded with pleasure. (See Lord Dufferin's minute of February 17, 1886.) But[14] by July it had become evident that a considerable minority of the population, to say the least, did not want us, and that until we proved our strength it was idle to expect active help even from our friends.

The total military force hitherto employed in Upper Burma had been about fourteen thousand men. There was not anywhere in the whole country a well-armed or organized body of the enemy. A few hundred British troops could have marched from north to south or from east to west without meeting with very serious opposition or suffering much loss. Small flying columns could be moved through the country and might find no enemy, and might even gather from the demeanour of the people that they were welcome. When the soldiers passed on, the power of the British Government went with them, and the villagers fell back under the rule of the guerilla leaders and their gangs. At first there may have been some faint tinge of patriotism in the motives which drove the leaders and members of these bands to take the field. Very soon they became mere brigands, living on the villagers and taking whatever they wanted, including their women.

"These bands are freebooters," wrote Sir George White[2] (to the Quartermaster-General in India, July 17, 1886), "pillaging wherever they go, but usually reserving the refinement of their cruelty for those who have taken office under us or part with us. Flying columns arrive too late to save the village. The villagers, having cause to recognize that we are too far off to protect them, lose confidence in our power and throw in their lot with the insurgents. They make terms with the leaders and baffle pursuit of those leaders by roundabout guidance or systematic silence. In a country itself one vast military obstacle, the seizure of the leaders of the rebellion, though of paramount importance, thus becomes a source of greatest difficulty."


The experience of the first half of 1886 had brought home to the Government of India as well as to the military officers in the field that the resistance was more widespread and more obstinate than any one had foreseen. Sir George White considered that "the most effective plan of establishing our rule, and at the same time protecting and gaining touch of the villages, is a close occupation of the disturbed districts by military posts" (ibid.). Under the circumstances, this was the best course to adopt, provided that the posts were strong enough to patrol the country and to crush every attempt at rising. The people might be held down in this way, but not governed. Something more was necessary. The difficulties were to be overcome rather by the vigorous administration of civil government than by the employment of military detachments scattered over the country. A sufficient force of armed police at the disposal of the civil officers was therefore a necessity.

It had been foreseen from the first by Sir Charles Bernard and the Government of India, although the strength of the force necessary to achieve success was much under-estimated. In February, 1886, two military police levies, each of five hundred and sixty-one men, were raised from the Indian army. Of these one was sent to the Chindwin district and one to Mandalay. At the same time the recruitment of two thousand two hundred men in Northern India for a military police force was ordered. These men were untrained and came over in batches as they were raised. They were trained and disciplined at Mandalay and other convenient places, and were distributed to the districts when they were sufficiently formed. Thus besides the soldiers the Chief Commissioner had about 3,300 men at his disposal.

As the year went on and the magnitude of the undertaking began to be understood, the need of a much larger force was admitted. Two more levies were sanctioned. One from Northern India was raised without difficulty, and was posted to the railway line from Toungoo to Mandalay, which had been tardily sanctioned by the Secretary of State in November, 1886, and was at once put in hand. The other, a Gurkha battalion for use in the Northern frontier subdivision of Mogaung, was more difficult to recruit. At the end of the year two companies had arrived, and after being trained at Mandalay had gone on to Bhamo. By this time forty-six posts were held by the military police. The hunger for men, however, so far from being satisfied, continued to grow. After reviewing the position[16] in November (1886) Sir Charles Bernard decided to ask the Government of India for sixteen thousand men, including those already sanctioned, nine thousand to be recruited in India and seven thousand in Burma.

It was proposed that ultimately half of this force should be Indians and half local men. They were all to be engaged for three years, and were to be drilled and disciplined, and divided into battalions, one for each district. Each battalion was to contain fixed proportions of Indians and local men, "under the command of a military officer for the purpose of training and discipline and under the orders of the local police officers for ordinary police work." At this time it was believed that Burmans, Shans, Karens and Kachins could by training and discipline become a valuable element in a military police force, and the experiment was made at Mandalay. This was the beginning of the Burma military police force, which contributed so pre-eminently to the subjugation and pacification of the province. The attempt to raise any part of it locally was, however, very quickly abandoned, and it was recruited, with the exception of a few companies of Karens, entirely from Indians.

But to return to the middle of 1886. Sir George White, in writing to Army Headquarters, urged the necessity of reinforcements. The fighting had, it is true, been trivial and deaths in action or by wounds had amounted to six officers and fifty-six men only. Disease, however, had been busy. Exposure and fatigue in a semi-tropical climate, the want of fresh food in a country which gave little but rice and salt fish, was gradually reducing the strength and numbers of the force. One officer and two hundred and sixty-nine men had died of disease and thirty-nine officers and nine hundred and twenty men had been invalided between November, 1885, and July, 1886.

There were few large bodies of the enemy in the field—few at any rate who would wait to meet an attack. It was only by a close occupation of the disturbed districts by military posts that progress could be made. The Major-General Commanding did not shrink from this measure, although it used up his army. Fourteen thousand men looks on paper a formidable force, but more men, more[17] mounted infantry, and especially more cavalry were necessary.

It had been a tradition at Army Headquarters, handed down probably from the first and second Burmese Wars, that cavalry was useless in Burma. The experience of 1885-6 proved it to be the most effective arm. It was essential to catch the "Bos," or captains of the guerilla bands, who gave life and spirit to the whole movement. Short compact men, nearly always well mounted, with a modern jockey seat, they were the first as a rule to run away. The mounted infantry man, British or Indian, a stone or two heavier, and weighted with rifle, ammunition, and accoutrements, on an underbred twelve-hand pony, had no chance of riding down a "Bo." But the trooper inspired the enemy with terror.

"In a land where only ponies are bred the cavalry horses seem monsters to the people, and the long reach and short shrift of the lance paralyse them with fear," wrote Sir George White, and asked that as soon as the rains had ceased "three more regiments of cavalry, complete in establishments," should be added to the Upper Burma Field Force.

The proposal was accepted by the Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir Frederick Roberts, and approved by the Government of India. It may be said here once for all that the Government of India throughout the whole of this business were ready to give the local authorities, civil and military, everything that was found necessary for the speedy completion of the work in hand, the difficulties of which they appreciated, as far as any one not on the spot could.

"It is proposed," they wrote to Lord Cross (August 13, 1886), "to reinforce the Upper Burma Field Force by three regiments of native cavalry and to relieve all or nearly all the corps and batteries which were despatched to Burma in October last. The troops to be relieved will be kept four or five months longer, so that, including those sent in relief, the force will be very considerable and should suffice to complete rapidly and finally the pacification and settlement of the whole country."

In consequence of the increased strength of the field[18] force the Government of India directed Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Macpherson, Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army, to transfer his headquarters to Burma and remain there until the conclusion of the operations. Unfortunately, Sir Herbert died shortly after reaching Burma. The Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir Frederick Roberts, then took charge of the business and landed in Rangoon in November.

It was evident that Sir George White had not exaggerated the difficulties of the work. After taking stock of the position, Roberts asked for five more regiments to be sent from India. During the cold or, as it should be called in Burma, the dry season following, much was done to gain control of the country, under the personal supervision of the Commander-in-Chief. Especially in the Eastern Division, where large bands of men under various pretenders had been most troublesome, the stern energy of General Lockhart produced a rapid and wholesome change. When Sir Frederick returned to India in February, 1887, the subjugation of Upper Burma had been accomplished and the way was cleared for the civil administration. But four years of constant patient work were needed before the country was pacified and the peasant who wished to live a life of honest industry could accomplish his desire.


[1] "The Government of India," by Sir Courtenay Ilbert, chap. i. p. 105. Second edition.

[2] Major-General, commanding the Burma Field Force, now Field-Marshal Sir George White, V.C., G.C.B., &c.



My first acquaintance with Burma was made in the early part of 1883. I was then a member of the Legislative Council of India. Mr. Charles Bernard, who was Chief Commissioner of British Burma, had asked for a year's leave, and Lord Ripon selected me to take his place. During that year, 1883-4, I went over Lower Burma—British Burma as it was then called—and learnt the methods of the administration and became acquainted with the officers in the commission and the nature of the country and its people.

There was at that time very little communication between the Court of Ava and the Chief Commissioner, who represented the Governor-General in Council. The embassy which the King had sent to Simla with the ostensible purpose of making a new treaty had been suddenly recalled, notwithstanding, and perhaps in some degree because of, the very honourable and hospitable manner in which Lord Ripon had received it. The King was already negotiating a treaty with France, and in 1883, before the mission despatched for this purpose to Europe had left Mandalay, it was believed to have been drafted. But when I surrendered the office to Sir Charles Bernard on his return from leave in February, 1884, there was no thought of war in the near future.

From Rangoon I was transferred to Nagpur, to the post of Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces. Towards the end of 1885, fever drove me to England on sick leave just as the relations with the King of Burma were broken off and war had become unavoidable. Returning from leave in November, 1886, I found awaiting me at Suez orders posting me to the Public Service Commission,[20] of which the late Sir Charles Aitchison was president. At Bombay I found instructions to proceed at once to Hyderabad in the Deccan, as the Viceroy (Lord Dufferin) desired to see me. At Hyderabad I waited on Lord Dufferin. He told me that Bernard might have to leave, and he wished to know if I would accept the appointment of Chief Commissioner of Burma if he decided to offer it to me. He added that it was in his opinion the post in all India most to be coveted, and that if he was not Viceroy he would choose Burma: an unnecessary stimulus, as ever since leaving that province in 1884 my ambition had been to succeed Bernard. I told the Viceroy that I would go to Burma if it were offered to me.

I was with the Public Service Commission at Lahore, Allahabad, and Jubulpore, and back to Bombay, before I heard anything more about Burma. At the end of January, 1887, we were leaving the Parel Station, Bombay, for Madras, where the next sitting of the Commission was to be, when the train was stopped just as it began to move, and the station-master ran up with a clear-the-line message for me from the Viceroy, desiring me to wait further orders at Bombay. I left the train gladly, as I knew that it meant that I was to go to Burma, and I was delighted to be relieved from the work of the Commission, which was distasteful to me, especially as it appeared from the character of the evidence brought forward, a matter left entirely to the local Government in each province, not likely to lead to beneficial results. On the 3rd of February a telegram dated the 2nd came from the Viceroy, offering me the Chief Commissionership as Bernard's health had broken down, and desiring me to come to Calcutta to consult with the Government.

As soon as I could arrange my affairs I went to Calcutta. The Viceroy received me on the 14th of February. He took me out to the lawn at the side where the great house throws a pleasant shade in the afternoon. There we sat, and Lord Dufferin explained to me how matters stood in Burma, and gave me his instructions on many points and on the general principles which he wished to guide the administration.

The organization of the military police and the material of which the force was to be constituted was one of[21] the chief matters he spoke about. He attached much importance to the enlistment of Burmans, Shans, and Karens, so that the unhealthy posts might be held by acclimatized natives. British officers would have to be posted to command them, and they must be relieved at short intervals. He showed me letters which had passed between him and Bernard about the military police force, to which, as an instrument in the pacification of the province, he attached the first importance. He spoke of the strength of the Commission, and told me to consider it carefully and ask for more men if I thought them necessary. Generally he considered that true economy dictated the expenditure of as much money as was necessary to fit out the new province with offices, roads, buildings, and river steamers, and it was folly, he said, not to give it. Barracks and shelter for troops and police should be vigorously pushed on.

The questions of the Shan States and our relations with China were discussed. As to the Shan States, I represented the manner in which our relations with the feudatory chiefs in the Central Provinces were managed and the saving in cost and responsibility to be gained by leaving them quasi-independent. Lord Dufferin approved of this policy and preferred it to annexation, even in the case of the Wuntho Sawbwa, who had shown an inclination to refuse submission to our Government.

The Viceroy spoke at length and with emphasis regarding our relations with China, which he looked upon as most important. We were face to face, he said, with a very powerful neighbour, who might greatly harass us if she or even her subordinate officials chose to worry us. Two officers of the Chinese Consular Service had been sent to Upper Burma to be at my disposal in dealing with the Chinese in Burma and in conducting relations with the Chinese Government. In the matter of the frontiers of Upper Burma, where they touched China, great care should be exercised. "Feel your way," he said, putting out his hand, "and when you come against anything hard, draw back," advice that was most sound in dealing with the ill-defined boundaries of a conquered province. We wished to hold what our predecessors had held or had been entitled to hold, and we did not desire to leave unoccupied space[22] for others to come in. He told me to think carefully whether there was anything I wanted done and to let him know before I left. I was to see him again.

In a country where one man is as good as another, where there are no landlords, no hereditary aristocracy and no tribal chiefs, the Government, especially a foreign Government, is at a great disadvantage. It is impossible to deal with each individual. The first question is, who is the great man of this village: who has influence, who knows the villagers, their characters and so on? Having found the man, it becomes possible to enter into relations with the village and to treat with them as a whole. In Upper Burma there was a recognized headman in each village who had duties, and powers corresponding to his duties; and in many administrative matters, especially in taxation, the village was dealt with as a whole.

The difficulty in Lower Burma was the absence of such a local authority or unit. The villagers were not held together by any obligation to each other or by subordination to any one on the spot. Each man had his own bit of land which he held directly from the Government. He lived where he pleased, and if he put his house in the same place with other cultivators, it was for the sake of convenience and protection. The villages were grouped for revenue purposes by the British administration under officials who collected the taxes and received a percentage on the amount. Each of these taik Thugyis (headmen of circles), as they were designated, had many villages under him and could not be expected to have local knowledge or personal influence in all of them. He had no powers outside his revenue work. It was open to any one to put up his hut in any village, wherever he could find room. There was no one to say him nay, even if he was a gambler, an opium-eater, or a notorious evildoer living by theft and robbery. There were, it is true, village policemen appointed by law, who were intended to supply the wants of a local authority. But no power was given to them: they were subordinated to the regular civil police and had no status as revenue officials. Consequently they tended to become mere village drudges, although by no means useless and frequently showing both courage and sagacity in police matters.


When I was in Burma in 1883-84 gang-robbery was prevalent, even in the neighbourhood of Rangoon; so much so as to demand close attention from the head of the province. I had observed that in nearly every case where a large gang of dacoits, to use the Indian term, was dominating a district or part of a district they were assisted by sympathisers, who sent them food, supplied them with information, and made it possible for them to live undetected. The codes of Indian Criminal Procedure do not enable a magistrate to touch cases of this sort. If the people are against the Government—and in 1887 they were certainly not minded to help it—the difficulty of detecting and convicting such secret abettors is almost insuperable. At any rate, it was a slow process, and meanwhile violence and disorder flourished and the peasantry became more and more enthralled to the brigands.

It occurred to me that nothing would give the civil magistrate more assistance than the power of summarily removing persons who, while they themselves appeared to be living harmless lives without reproach, were enabling the insurgent or brigand gangs to keep the field.

I explained my views on these matters to the Viceroy. He promised me his support and desired me to embody my ideas in a draft Regulation before I left Calcutta. With the assistance of the Legislative Department the draft was quickly completed, and on my arrival in Burma it was circulated to district officers for their opinions. It was delayed by various formalities and inquiries, and was not finally made law until October, 1887. Founded so far as might be on the system indigenous to the country and in accord with the mind of the people, this law was a great aid to the administration. Writing in October, 1890, I said: "I think that most officers will now admit that the policy of dealing with the people by villages and not by individuals has been a very powerful instrument for suppressing disorder and establishing our authority. It would not have been possible to use this instrument if the village system had no vitality. If we are to rule the country cheaply and efficiently and to keep the people from being robbed and oppressed by the criminal classes, the village system must be maintained in vigour. It cannot thrive or live unless[24] the post of headman is sought after, or at least willingly accepted, by respectable persons." I believe the provisions of the village regulation are still a living force and are brought into action when occasion arises. But the life of the system is the headman, his dignity and his position. This is what the author of "The Soul of a People" wrote in 1898:—

"So each village managed its own affairs untroubled by squire or priest, very little troubled by the State. That within their little means they did it well no one can doubt. They taxed themselves without friction, they built their own monastery schools by voluntary effort, they maintained a very high, a very simple, code of morals entirely of their own initiative.

"All this has passed or is passing. The King has gone to a banishment far across the sea, the Ministers are either banished or powerless for good or evil. It will never rise again, this government of the King which was so bad in all it did and only good in what it left alone. It will never rise again. The people are now part of the British Empire, subjects of the Queen. What may be in store for them in the far future no one can tell; only we may be sure that the past can return no more. And the local government is passing away too. It cannot exist with a strong Government such as ours. For good or for evil, in a few years, it too, will be gone."[3]

This is a prophecy which I believe has not yet been fulfilled, and I hope never will. But to return to the order of events.

I was detained in Calcutta until the 24th of February. Time by no means wasted. I had frequent opportunities of seeing the Members of Council and learning what was going on in each department. Lord Dufferin allowed me to discuss matters with him more than once. On the 19th I attended His Excellency in Council and explained my views, especially regarding the village system. Leaving Calcutta in the British India steamship Rangoon on the 24th, I landed at Rangoon on Sunday the 27th of March. Next day I relieved Sir Charles Bernard and took charge of the Province of Burma.


In order to enable the Chief Commissioner to give more time to the affairs of Upper Burma, a Special Commissioner, Mr. Hodgkinson, had been appointed to take immediate charge of the older province. I found that the Special Commissioner was in fact ruler of the Lower Province, and was so regarded by the public. Nothing which was not of a very extraordinary nature was referred to the Chief Commissioner, whose responsibility, however, remained unimpaired. For example, two or three days after my arrival the Viceroy telegraphed in cipher to the Chief Commissioner about some matters in Lower Burma which had given rise to questions in Parliament, and of which the responsible Chief Commissioner had no cognizance. No more competent and trustworthy man than Mr. Hodgkinson could have been found for the work. Nevertheless the arrangement did not seem to me quite satisfactory.

There were urgent matters requiring to be settled with Mr. Hodgkinson, more especially the Budget of the Province and the organization of the police in Lower Burma, which needed thorough reform. They had earned the reputation of being the worst and the most costly in the world, and during the last eighteen months they had not belied it. It was necessary to form a body of military police for Lower Burma of suitable Indians, trained and disciplined. During the few days I was in Rangoon this and other urgent matters—for example, the arrangements with the Bombay Burma Company about the Upper Burma Forests, the Ruby Mines, the condition of some of the Lower Burma districts, the postings of officers, the distribution of reinforcements of military police just disembarking from the transports, consultations with the General Commanding in Lower Burma as to the measures necessary along and beyond the line of the old frontier within the limits of his command, all these things and much more would have given me plenty of work for many days.

I could only dispose of those matters which required my personal orders and leave the rest to Mr. Hodgkinson. I could not remain in Rangoon. Sir Charles Bernard had a powerful memory. The Upper Burma Secretariat was, as has been said, in Mandalay; when Sir Charles Bernard was in Rangoon, he relied to a great extent on[26] his memory. Letters and telegrams received from Mandalay were dealt with and returned with his orders, no copies for reference being kept. As the Rangoon Secretariat was ignorant of Upper Burma affairs, I found myself completely in the air. I decided therefore to start as soon as possible for Mandalay.

I left Rangoon by rail for Prome on the 9th of March. At Prome a Government steamer, the Sir William Peel, was waiting for me, and I reached Mandalay on the 14th. To a man sailing up the river there were few signs of trouble. The people appeared to be going about their business as usual, and no doubt along the river bank and in the neighbourhood of our posts there was little disorder. But this appearance was deceptive. Just beyond the old frontier the country from the right bank of the Irrawaddy up to the Arakan Yoma was in the hands of insurgents.

On the right bank of the river, forty miles above Thayetmyo, is the Burman fort and town of Minhla, where the first opposition was offered to the British expedition. I found here a small detachment of Indian troops, and in the town, about half a mile off, a police post. I learnt from the British officer commanding the detachment and from the Burman magistrate that for some fifty miles inland, up to the Chin hills on the west, the villages were deserted and the headmen had absconded. This is an unhealthy tract, with much jungle, and broken up into small valleys by the spurs from the Arakan mountains. The noted leader Bo Swè made his lair here and had still to be reckoned with. His story illustrates the difficulties which had to be overcome.

In November, 1885, after taking Minhla, a district was formed by Sir Harry Prendergast consisting of a large tract of country above the British Burma frontier on both sides of the river to Salin, north of Minbu, on the right bank, and including Magwè and Yenangyoung on the left. This district was known at first as Minhla, but afterwards as Minbu, to which the headquarters were moved. Mr. Robert Phayre, of the Indian Civil Service and of the British Burma Commission, was left in charge, supported by a small force.

Thayetmyo—Mail Steamer leaving.


Mr. Phayre, a relative of that distinguished man, Colonel Sir Arthur Phayre, the first Chief Commissioner of British Burma, was the right man for the work. He began by getting into touch with the native officials, and by the 15th of December all those on the right bank of the river had accepted service under the new Government. Outposts were established, and flying columns dispersed any gatherings of malcontents that were reported. A small body of troops from Thayetmyo, moving about in the west under the Arakan hills, acted in support of Minhla. Revenue began to come in, and at Yenangyoung, the seat of the earth-oil industry, work was being resumed. Everything promised well.

There were two men, however, who had not been or would not be propitiated, Maung Swè and Ôktama. Maung Swè was hereditary headman or Thugyi of Mindat, a village near the old frontier. He had for years been a trouble to the Thayetmyo district of British Burma, harbouring criminals and assisting dacoit gangs to attack our villages, if he did not lead them himself. He had been ordered up to Mandalay by the Burmese Government owing to the strong remonstrances of the Chief Commissioner.

On the outbreak of war Bo[4] Swè was at once sent back to do his utmost against the invaders. So long as there was a force moving about in the west of the district he was unable to do much. When the troops were withdrawn (the deadly climate under the hills compelled their recall), he began active operations.

The second man was named Ôktama, one of the most determined opponents of the British. He had inspired his followers with some of his spirit, whether fanatical or patriotic, and harassed the north of the district about and beyond Minbu. His gang was more than once attacked and dispersed, but came together again. He and Maung Swè worked together and between them dominated the country.


In May, 1886, Maung Swè was attacked and driven back towards the hills. He retired on Ngapè, a strong position thirty miles west of Minbu and commanding the principal pass through the mountains into Arakan. Early in June, 1886, Mr. Phayre, with fifty sepoys of a Bengal infantry regiment and as many military police (Indians), started from Minbu to attack Maung Swè, who was at a place called Padein. The enemy were reinforced during the night by two or three hundred men from Ngapè. The attack was delivered on the 9th of June, and Phayre, who was leading, was shot dead. His men fell back, leaving his body, which was carried off by the Burmans, but was afterwards recovered and buried at Minbu. Three days after this two parties of Ôktama's gang who had taken up positions near Salin were attacked by Captain Dunsford. His force consisted of twenty rifles of the Liverpool Regiment and twenty rifles of the 2nd Bengal Infantry. The Burmans were driven from their ground, but Captain Dunsford was killed and a few of our men wounded.

Reinforcements were sent across the river from Pagan: and Major Gordon, of the 2nd Bengal Infantry, with ninety-five rifles of his own regiment, fifty rifles of the Liverpool Regiment, and two guns 7-1 R.A., attacked Maung Swè in a position near Ngapè. The Burmans fought well, but were forced to retire. Unfortunately the want of mounted men prevented a pursuit. The enemy carried off their killed and wounded. Our loss was eight men killed and twenty-six wounded, including one officer. We then occupied Ngapè in strength, but in July the deadly climate obliged us to withdraw.

Maung Swè returned at once to his lair. By the end of August the whole of the western part of the district was in the hands of the insurgents, rebels, or patriots, according to the side from which they are seen.

Meanwhile Salin had been besieged by Ôktama. He was driven off after three days by Captain Atkinson, who brought up reinforcements to aid the garrison of the post. Captain Atkinson was killed in the action. Thus in a few weeks these two leaders had cost us the lives of three officers.

In the course of the operations undertaken under Sir Frederick Roberts's command in the open season of 1886-87, this country was well searched by parties of troops with mounted infantry. Bo Swè's power was broken, and in March, 1887, he was near the end of his exploits. In the[29] north of the district, the exertions of the troops had made little impression on Ôktama's influence. The peasantry, whether through sympathy or fear, were on his side.

I have troubled the reader with this story because it will help to the understanding of the problem we had before us in every part of Upper Burma. It will explain how districts reported at an early date to be "quite peaceful" or "comparatively settled" were often altogether in the hands of hostile bands. They were reported quiet because we could hear no noise. We were outsiders, as indeed we are, more or less, not only in Burma but in every part of the Indian Empire—less perhaps in Burma than elsewhere.

On the way up the river I had the advantage of meeting Mr. (now Sir James) La Touche, the Commissioner of the Southern Division, Sir Robert Low,[5] commanding at Myingyan, Brigadier-General Anderson, Captain Eyre, the Deputy Commissioner of Pagan district (which then included Pakokku and the Yaw country), and others. At Mandalay I was able to consult with General Sir George White, commanding the field force, with His Excellency Sir Charles Arbuthnot, the Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army, and with the civil officers, namely, the Commissioner of the Northern Division, Mr. Burgess,[6] and Mr. (now Sir Frederick) Fryer, the Commissioner of the Central or Sagaing Division, and their subordinates. No more capable or helpful men could have been found. The Commissioner of the Eastern Division was out of reach for the time. The only way of getting to that country was by road from Mandalay, which would have taken many days. I had to wait until I returned to Rangoon and could go by rail to Toungoo before I made acquaintance with Mr. Henry St. George Tucker, of the Indian Civil Service, a Punjab officer.


[3] "The Soul of a People," pp. 103-4.

[4] Bo means "Captain"; Maung is the ordinary way of addressing a Burman, the equivalent of "Mister."

[5] The late General Sir Robert Cunliffe Low, G.C.B.

[6] The late Mr. G. D. Burgess, C.S.I., Judicial Commissioner, Upper Burma.



I will now give as brief a sketch as may be of the state of Upper Burma when I arrived in Mandalay in March, 1887.

Upper Burma, inclusive of the Shan States, contains in round numbers one hundred and sixty thousand square miles, of which the Shan States cover sixty thousand miles and the Chin hills ten thousand. It may be divided, for the present purpose, into four parts. The first is the great valley of the Irrawaddy, from the mountain ranges north of Mogaung to the northern boundary of the Thayetmyo district; the second is the valley of the Chindwin; the third is the valley of the Sittang, in which lies the Eastern Division, down to the boundary of the Toungoo district; and the fourth is the Shan States. In 1887 the British administration had not yet touched the Chin hills or the Kachins in the mountains which divide Burma from China.

Beginning with the Irrawaddy Valley, Mogaung, the most northerly post of importance, was held by a Burman Myoôk, or township officer, nominally for us. He collected the revenue and spent it—much, no doubt, on his establishment, for which no regular provision had been made. South of Mogaung as far as Bhamo the country was quiet, and no organized gangs were in the field. The Katha district, which comes next below Bhamo, was disturbed on the Wuntho border, and was not much under control.

The Wuntho Sawbwa, a Shan chief exercising independent jurisdiction within his country, had refused our invitation to come in. A strong force under Brigadier-General Cox, with Mr. Burgess, the Commissioner of the Northern Division, had gone to try the methods of peaceful[31] persuasion. The districts south of Katha, namely Shwèbo and Ye-u, were controlled by dacoit gangs under active leaders.

On the left bank of the river the Shan States of Mohlaing and Möngmit were disturbed by the raids of Hkam Leng (vide Chapter XX.). The Ruby Mines district, with its capital, Mogok, was held in force and had remained submissive since its occupation.

South of the ruby mines lies the district of Mandalay, shut in on the north and east by the Shan hills. There was a British force of some thousand men of all arms in Mandalay itself, with several outlying detachments and a strong party in the hills at Pyinulwin,[7] forty miles on the road to Hsipaw. In spite of this force the district was dominated by three or four leaders, who had large followings and acted in concert. They had divided the country between them into definite jurisdictions, which they mutually respected. They collected revenue from the villagers. Disobedience or any attempt to help the British Government met with swift and severe punishment. They professed to be acting under the authority of the Myingun Prince, who was at the time a refugee in Pondicherry, and they were encouraged and helped to combine by a relative of the Prince, known as the Bayingan or Viceroy, who went from one to the other and supplied them with information. The district of Ava, south of Mandalay, was in a similar state. The valleys of the Samôn and Panlaung gave good shelter to the dacoits. Unfortunately several district boundaries and divisions of military commands met in this country, and on that account action was not so prompt as it ought to have been.

Following the river below Ava, the Myingyan and Pagan districts extended to both sides of the river, an inconvenient arrangement inherited from the Burmese Government. The headquarters of these districts, both on the left bank, were held by garrisons of some size, and within striking range the country was controlled.


About forty miles from Pagan town, and as many from the river, is the isolated hill or mountain of Popa. It rises to a height of four thousand five hundred feet, a gigantic cone throwing out numerous spurs. It is wooded thickly almost to the top, and extending for a long distance round it is a tangle of scrub jungle and ravines, an ideal hunting-ground for robbers and the home of cattle-thieves.

South of this was the Taungdwingyi district, extending down to the old border. It was in the hands of a leader named Min Yaung, who was well provided with ponies, and even elephants. The northern spurs of the Pegu Yoma divide this district from the Sittang Valley, and are densely wooded, offering a harbour of refuge to criminals. To this, among other causes, it was due that this district gave more trouble than any other in Upper Burma. It was at that time separated from the river by the Magwè township, which belonged to the Minbu district, and enjoyed comparative peace, owing mainly to the influence of the Burman governor, who had taken service under us and for a time was loyal.

These parts of the Myingyan and Pagan districts, which were on the right bank of the Irrawaddy, were not really under our control or administered by us. The wild tract on the Yaw (vide Chapter XXI., p. 295), which was much left to itself in Burmese times, had not been visited, and was overrun by dacoits.

Southward, still on the right bank, came the Minbu district, where Ôktama and Bo Swè were still powerful, the former in full force.

The difficulties of country and climate which our men had to face in this district were very great. The west of the Minbu district lies up against the range of mountains known as the Arakan Yoma, which run parallel to the sea and shut off the Irrawaddy Valley from the Bay of Bengal. The country below the Yoma is what is known in India as Terai, a waterlogged region reeking with malaria, deadly to those not acclimatized. Many a good soldier, British and Indian, found his grave in the posts occupied in this district, Taingda, Myothit, Ngapè, and Sidoktaya. The dacoit leaders knew the advantage of being able to live where our men could not. Soldiers like Captain Golightly (Colonel R. E. Golightly, D.S.O., late of the 60th Rifles)[33] and his mounted infantry would have made short work of them under less adverse conditions.

Passing to the Chindwin, which joins the Irrawaddy at Pakokku, twenty-five miles above Myingyan, the Upper Chindwin[8] was fairly quiet. The two local potentates, the Sawbwa of Hsawnghsup and the Sawbwa of Kalè, were not of much importance. The former had made his submission; the latter was holding aloof, but had shown his goodwill by arresting and delivering to the Deputy Commissioner a pretender who had attacked a British post and was gathering to his banner various leaders. Lower down, the country round Mingin, where Mr. Gleeson, Assistant Commissioner, was murdered in 1886, was much disturbed. In the Lower Chindwin there was trouble in Pagyi and Pakangyi. The former country, which is covered with forests and very unhealthy, had been placed under the management of Burmans of local influence—a plan which answered for a time. The Kani township, which adjoins Mingin, had been governed from the first by the Burmese Wun well and loyally. He was murdered on that account by a dacoit leader. His younger brother was appointed in his room and followed in his steps. On the left bank the country was not openly disturbed. The river trade was busy, but boats were obliged to take a guard or to be convoyed by a steam-launch.

At this time the cause of order seemed nearer victory in the Eastern Division than elsewhere. The Sittang Valley includes the Kyauksè district, which at first was placed under the Commissioner of the Central Division, but was allied in dacoit politics to Meiktila. Myat Hmon, Maung Gyi, and Maung Lat, names well known to soldiers in 1885-6, hunted this country, making the Hmawwaing jungles their rallying-ground. When hard-pressed they took refuge in the hills of Baw and Lawksawk, coming back when the troops retired. In the three districts of Meiktila, Yamèthin, and Pyinmana, which then formed the Eastern Division under Mr. H. St. George Tucker, General Sir William Lockhart had given them no rest day or night. Nevertheless, in March, 1887, large bands were still active.


The Shan States were in a very troubled state, but a good beginning had been made, and Mr. Hildebrand had nearly succeeded in breaking up the Limbin Confederacy (vide Chapter XV.). But throughout the plateau dacoities were rife and petty wars were raging. Wide tracts were laid waste, and the peasantry, deserting their fields, had joined in the fights or gone across the Salween. Great scarcity, perhaps in some cases actual famine, resulted, not from failure of rain, but from strife and anarchy. And this reacted on Burma proper, for some of the Shan States on the border gave the dacoits encouragement and shelter.

The whole of Upper Burma at this time was in military occupation. There were one hundred and forty-one posts held by troops, and yet in wide stretches of country, in the greater part of the Chindwin Valley, in the Mogaung country and elsewhere, there was not a soldier. The tide, however, was on the turn. The officers in command of parties and posts were beginning to know the country and the game, while the dacoits and their leaders were losing heart. The soldiers had in fact completed their task, and they had done it well. What remained to be done was work for the civil administrator.

The first and essential step was to enable the civil officers to get a firm grip of their districts. For this purpose a civil police force, recruited from the natives of the country, was necessary. Without it, detection and intelligence were impossible. Commissioners and generals were alike unanimous on this point.

The next thing was to provide an armed force at the disposal of the district officer, so that he should be able to get an escort immediately—for there was no district where an Englishman could yet travel safely without an armed escort—and should be able also to quell risings and disperse ordinary bands of insurgents or brigands without having to ask assistance from the army. The military police had been designed and raised for these purposes, and the men were being distributed as fast as they arrived from India.

The relations of the district officers to the commandants of military police and of the latter to the civil police officers, and the duties and spheres of each, had to[35] be defined. I had drafted regulations for these purposes, and was waiting for the appointment of an Inspector-General to carry them out. It had been decided before I left Calcutta that a soldier should be selected for this post. The military police force was in fact an army of occupation sixteen thousand strong. Many of them were old soldiers who had volunteered from the Indian regiments, the rest were recruited mainly from the fighting races of Northern India. And they were commanded by young officers, some of whom had come with somewhat exalted ideas of their independence. It was imperative, therefore, to get an able soldier who could look at matters from all points of view, and who could manage men as well as command them. For it required a delicate touch to avoid friction between the military and civil members of the district staff. Some of the civil officers were young, some were quite without experience, and some were inferior to the military commandants in force and ability.

In April, 1887, Colonel E. Stedman, commanding the 3rd Gurkhas, who had accompanied Mr. Hildebrand to the Shan States, was appointed to be Inspector-General of Police in Upper Burma, with the military rank of Brigadier-General. Among the many able officers of the Indian Army it would have been hard to find another man equally adapted to the work. I had reason to be grateful to General Stedman (now Sir Edward Stedman, G.C.B., K.C.I.E.) and to the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Roberts (then Sir Frederick), who selected him.

On the 21st of March, 1887, I wrote to Lord Dufferin regarding the relations of the district and police officers as follows: "The relations between Deputy Commissioners, District Superintendents (Civil Police) and Commandants (Military Police) are ill-defined and work badly, unless all are really good fellows. I have decided to keep the Commandant to his military work, and the District Superintendent of Police to the real civil police duty—intelligence, detection, and investigation. The Deputy Commissioner has by law supreme control and must exercise it.... The Deputy Commissioners have no hold on their districts, and through the absence of a civil police they get no intelligence and no touch with the people.[36] Hence our military parties sometimes go wandering about blindly, unable to get any information. There must be a completely separate trained body of Burman Civil Police, trained not to arms but to their police duties.... I have got orders under issue about the location of posts and everything connected with them and the constitution of the police in them. We must have some Burmans and some Civil Police Burmans in every police post, and I think in every military post also."

The details of these matters could not be settled until General Stedman came to take up the work. Meanwhile I must return to affairs at Mandalay.


[7] Now the hill station for Upper Burma, named Maymyo from Colonel May, who commanded the Bengal Regiment, which garrisoned the place in 1887.

[8] The district was not formally divided into Upper and Lower until 1888.



Soon after my arrival in Mandalay I made the Thathanabaing's acquaintance. He is the head of the Buddhist monks, the religious order which in Bishop Bigandet's words is "The greatest in its extent and diffusion, the most extraordinary and perfect in its fabric and constituent parts, and the wisest in its rules and prescriptions that has ever existed either in ancient or modern times outside the pale of Christianity."[9] The Thathanabaing is the head of this order for purposes of discipline and for settling doctrinal disputes. His title means that he has power over all religious matters. It is misleading to speak of him as an archbishop or to apply any of the titles of the Christian Church to the Buddhist monks, who are not priests in any sense, but "are the strict followers of Buddha, who, like him, have renounced the world to devote themselves to the twofold object of mastering their passions and acquiring the true wisdom which alone can lead to the deliverance."[10] "The regulations they are subject to and the object they have in view in entering the religious profession debar them from concerning themselves in affairs that are foreign to their calling."[11]

The great mass of the Pongyis, or monks, in Upper Burma, who may have numbered in 1887 twenty or thirty thousand persons, obeyed the rules of their order and took no part in the troubles that followed the annexation. In the King's time the Thathanabaing neither personally nor as representative of the order interfered in affairs of State. He might have, as a work of mercy, pleaded for the remission of a sentence, but it is doubtful whether he went beyond that, or whether he had any political influence in our sense of the word. As a "religious" he would have, and was bound to have, no concern with mundane affairs. Could he bring any influence to bear on the people at large to induce them to submit peacefully to our rule?


"When we speak," writes Bishop Bigandet,[12] "of the great influence possessed by the religious order of Buddhist monks we do not intend to speak of political influence. It does not appear that in Burma they have ever aimed at any share in the management or direction of the affairs of the country. Since the accession of the house of Alomphra to the throne, that is to say, during a period of above a hundred years, the history of Burma has been tolerably well known. We do not recollect having ever met with one instance when the Pongyis, as a body, have interfered in the affairs of State. But in a religious point of view," continues Bishop Bigandet, "their influence is a mighty one." And undoubtedly if they were an energetic, ambitious, and intellectual body, instead of a thoroughly lazy and densely ignorant set of men, they might easily direct this influence to worldly purposes, and they might have excited the people to resist the British.

One of my first acts at Mandalay was to issue orders for the repair of monasteries occupied by our men and for making compensation in some form to the monks, and at least twice afterwards I reiterated and enlarged these orders. No doubt this matter of the monasteries was a grievance. But, as often happens, it was made more of by busybodies and correspondents interested in defaming the administration than by the sufferers. It was an unfortunate necessity of war. The only remedy was to build barracks and reduce the garrison, both of which were done with all the speed possible. It is worth noting that the Thathanabaing did not make any complaint to me on this head. In his conversations with me he dwelt mainly on the sufferings caused to the monks by the removal of the inhabitants from the walled city, which was being converted into a cantonment. The monks living in the cluster of great Kyaungs (monasteries), of which the Incomparable was the centre, depended on the faithful in the city for their food. I reminded him of the removal of the people by their own monarchs, first from Ava to Amarapura and then from Amarapura to Mandalay. He replied that the King removed the kyaungs with the people, and put them up on the new sites at the public cost, and also compelled his Ministers to build new monasteries. He was amused by my suggesting that the Commissioner and the secretary who accompanied me should be ordered to erect some monasteries on the sites to which the people were being moved. He saw the humour of it.

A Ponghi's funeral procession.


I found the Thathanabaing in my intercourse with him always courteous and good-humoured; and in his bearing there was neither arrogance nor ill-will. Of the Pongyis generally in Upper Burma I saw something, as in riding about the districts (there were no motors or tents for Chief Commissioners in those days) we had generally to ask the Pongyis to give us shelter; and their manner was courteous and hospitable. Not a few, I thought, felt and deplored the misery which the disturbances caused, and would have been glad to work for peace. It must be remembered that from the experience of our rule in Lower Burma they knew the attitude of the British Government towards their religion. They had no reason to fear oppression or persecution. They knew at the same time that in losing a Buddhist King their position and influence must be lowered. They could hardly be asked to rejoice with us.

In common with others who know Burma better, I doubt if the religious orders as a body had much influence on the course of events, or took an active part in the resistance to us. When a monk became a noted leader, it was a patriot who had been a monk and not a monk who had become a patriot. At the same time some of the most serious and deepest-laid plots were hatched in monasteries or initiated by Pongyis.

I may give some instances of the conduct and feelings of Pongyis.

In August, 1887, a pretender calling himself the Pakan Prince joined a conspiracy to get up a rebellion in Mandalay.[40] The police detected the movement and the prince was arrested. The prince told all that he knew. The originator of the scheme was a Sadaw or Abbot living in one of the Thathanabaing's monasteries. He made his escape. I sent for the Thathanabaing and he consented readily at my request to cite the Sadaw to appear before him and to proclaim him as a man with whom Pongyis should not associate. Whether he was sincere or not, I cannot say. But he issued the injunction and I took care it was widely published. Another case shows how the people as well as the Pongyis were coming to regard us. The town of Tabayin in the Ye-u (now Shwèbo) district was burnt by insurgents soon after our occupation of Mandalay. It was rebuilt in 1887 owing to the exertions of certain Pongyis formerly attached to the place. In order to ensure protection for the new town the Pongyis induced the people to build a barrack at their own expense for the police. Similarly, in July, 1887, when I was at Ngathaingyaung in the Bassein district of Lower Burma the people were glad to have a detachment of Bengal Infantry (7th Regiment) in one of the monasteries. They welcomed them. One of the monks had learned Hindustani from the men; and the Abbot, or head Pongyi, told me he would gladly give up his own monastery if it was wanted for the soldiers.

Another matter which occupied my attention in Mandalay at this time was our position towards the Chinese in Upper Burma. They are most numerous in the Northern Division and congregate in Bhamo and Mandalay. They numbered according to the census of 1901 about ten thousand, and may have been less in 1887. Owing to their energy in trade and their wealth they formed a not insignificant body, and like most bodies they had their grievances.

It was arranged to hold a meeting in order to let them state their complaints. All the prominent Chinese in Mandalay attended the meeting, and Mr. Warry was present to interpret for me. They had minor grievances about the collection of the jade duties and the farm of the india-rubber tax in the Mogaung subdivisions. These things were easily arranged. The chief subject of complaint, however, was the difficulty in procuring and trading in opium, a matter not to be easily settled. The regulations issued by the Chief[41] Commissioner in March, 1886, practically stopped the traffic. The words were these:—

"No shops whatever will be licensed for the sale of opium, inasmuch as all respectable classes of Burmans are against legalizing the consumption of opium in the new province. Any one found selling opium to persons other than Chinese, or transporting opium in quantities above three tolahs, or keeping a saloon for consuming opium, will be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Rs. 500 or to three months' imprisonment, or to both. As traffic in opium was absolutely prohibited under the Burmese Government, there will be no hardship in thus proscribing opium dealings."

The Chinese, however, considered it the greatest hardship. The small quantity, little more than one ounce troy weight, which might be lawfully transported, practically stopped dealings in the drug. This provision may not seem to go beyond the regulations of the Burmese Government. But there was all the difference between a rule meant to be enforced and one that could be easily evaded or was not intended to be made effective. No doubt the prohibition by the King of the use of opium by Burmans was real, and was backed by religious precept and influence; but the restrictions on the Chinese were laxly administered and were not too inconvenient to them.

If the Burmese alone had been concerned, opium might have been prohibited altogether, and the prohibition might have been made effectual, for it would have been backed by a very strong religious sanction. But the Chinamen had to be considered. It was contrary to our interests and wishes, especially at that time, in Upper Burma to make things unpleasant for them. They are at all times a useful and enterprising element in the population, although the ingenuity of the least reputable amongst them in exploiting the Burmans and leading them to gamble and to smoke opium requires to be firmly checked.

A second objection to prohibition, and even greater than the hardship and annoyance it would cause to the Chinese, was the great difficulty—almost impossibility, it may be said—of enforcing it.

Opium is perhaps as easy, and in Burma as profitable,[42] to smuggle as any article in the world. The Chinese are born smugglers. The poppy is largely cultivated in Yunnan and in the hilly country on the Salween. To prevent smuggling of opium overland into Burma would require a very large expenditure and a numerous establishment. The thousand miles of coast would be equally difficult to watch. If the growth of the poppy is prevented in China and India it may perhaps become practicable to stop opium from entering Burma. It was futile at that time and under those circumstances to attempt absolute prohibition.

The Indian Excise and Opium Acts were extended to Upper Burma in the latter half of 1888. The restrictions on the sale to Burmans of opium and intoxicants were maintained—and neither excise licence nor opium-shop was allowed in any place where the non-Burman population was not considerable. Yunnan opium, which had hitherto come in free, was subjected to a duty. The result was a great increase in the price of opium in Upper Burma and at the same time energetic smuggling; while it was believed, that so far as the restrictions against the sale of liquor or opium to Burmans were effectual, their efficacy was due, as in the King's time, more to the strength of the Buddhist religion than to the power of the British Government and the honesty of its magistrates. No further change was introduced while I was in Burma.

An excitement, however, arose in England, and the societies who, belonging to one of the most intemperate races in the world, make it their vocation to preach temperance to the most abstemious and sober of nations, drove the Government of India to experiment on Burma. Since 1893 one device after another has been tried to prevent Burmans from getting opium. The results appear to have been that contraband opium has been driven to some extent from the market; that the consumption of Government opium which has paid duty has doubled; that hundreds of people are punished yearly, not a few on false charges, for offences against the Opium Act, many of them by imprisonment; that the use of cocaine and other drugs worse than opium has been substituted for it, and in spite of the police is growing.


The following passage from a very excellent and accurate handbook of Burma by Sir J. George Scott, K.C.I.E. (Alexander Moring, Ltd., 1906) is worth quoting as the opinion of a man who knows the country well:—

"In Kokang and the Wa States the out-turn (of opium) runs to tons. West of the Salween, Loimaw is the only place where opium is systematically grown for profit. The cultivators are all Chinamen, and the amount produced in the season reaches about four thousand pounds. The price ranges from twelve to fifteen rupees for three and a half pounds. No doubt a very great deal is smuggled into Burma by opium-roads—tracks only passable by coolies, and not known to many. It is to be noted that there are no victims to opium in the opium-producing districts, any more than there are in Ssu-ch'uan, where the people are the wealthiest in China and half the crops are poppy. It is only in places where opium is prohibitive in price that there are victims to opium. If a man is accustomed to take opium, he must have it to soothe his nerves under excessive fatigue; if he lives in a malarious district, it is necessary to kill the bacteria. When such a man is poor and comes to a place where opium duty is high, he has to starve himself to get the anodyne for his muscles, quivering under the weight of loads which no white man could carry, or to soothe the racking fever in his bones. He dies of want and opium is denounced. Where opium is cheap, the people are healthy and stalwart and the women are fruitful. East of the Salween the universal opinion of opium is that of the Turk, who stamps on his opium lozenges Mash Alla'h, 'the gift of God.' Some of the Wa eat as well as smoke opium; but, so far as is known, regular opium-eating is rare, and none of the races drink it in the form of an emulsion, like the Kusumba of the Rajputs. West of the Salween, the European cant about opium has penetrated. A Shan either tells deliberate lies or says he only smokes when he has fever. The Rumai is pious and hypocritical, and says his opium is intended for his ponies or for cases of malarial fever. There are, of course, cases of excess, but the opium victim is never the hideous spectacle of the man sodden with alcohol or the repulsive bestiality[44] that the man becomes who takes food to excess" (pp. 268-69).

The only laws that will preserve the Burmans from the evils of opium and alcohol and other drugs are the teachings of Buddha. So long as they preserve their vigour and command the Burmans' belief, there is not much fear. The danger is that Buddhism will be undermined by Western education and contact with Europe, before it can be replaced by a better and stronger faith. The number of young Burmans coming to England is increasing. Will they return as abstemious and as temperate as they came? They will not: the danger to the Burman is probably more from alcohol than from opium, and more from contact with the West than with China.[13]

This question, however, had no influence whatever on the work we were engaged in. I was able to reassure the Chinese and to make them feel that the Government desired to treat them with fairness and consideration. The Chinese in Burma behaved throughout these stormy years as loyal citizens. There were at first numerous reports of hostile gatherings on or near the Chinese frontier, especially in the north of Hsenwi and at Hpunkan, near Bhamo. They had little foundation in fact. The only case in which it is certain that an armed body of Chinese entered Burma was in January, 1889. A strong body of Chinamen, chiefly deserters from the Chinese army and outlaws, gathered on the Molè stream north-east of Bhamo. They were promptly attacked by the police and so severely handled that they were not heard of again.

Still less influence on the restoration of order had the Ruby Mines affair, which excited the British public and enabled parliamentary busybodies to create an absurd fuss. The whole question of these mines and their administration might well have waited until we had pacified the country. Even as a source of revenue they were of no great moment, and if we had left the native miners alone we should have saved the heavy expense of maintaining a strong force up in the hills and making a long and costly cart-road from the river. Mogok, the headquarters of the mines, lies nearly six thousand feet above the sea-level, and is distant sixty miles by road from the river port of Thabeikkyin, most of it lying through thick jungle, poisoned with malaria and, in 1887, infested with dacoits.


The mines were then worked by the Shans, who live on the spot and have hereditary rights. A proposal had been made by Sir Charles Bernard, and supported by the Government of India, to give a lease of the mines for three years to Messrs. Gillanders Arbuthnot, of Calcutta, at an annual rent of two lakhs of rupees, the equivalent then of about £14,000. This firm had been accustomed to trade in rubies with the Shans at Mogok. The proposal was judicious, and would have enabled the Government to learn the value of the mines before committing themselves for a longer term, as the firm's books were to be open to inspection.

This proposal, however, did not meet the views of the gentlemen who had marked down the ruby mines as a field of speculation. A parliamentary intrigue was got up. Questions were asked—jobs were hinted at. The enormous value of the mines—the richest ruby mines in the world—was talked about, until the British public began to see rubies and to suspect, I verily believe, Sir Charles Bernard and all of us, his official heirs and successors, of desiring to make dishonest fortunes. Some of the speculators went to Simla to persuade the Government of India that Gillanders Arbuthnot's offer was inconceivably ridiculous. Then they came on to Rangoon with letters of introduction, not unaccompanied by hints and warnings to be careful, to sniff about the mines and get the ear of the authorities in Burma. The Secretary of State trembled lest he should be suspected of favouring somebody; and if I had destroyed Mandalay or drained the Irrawaddy, I doubt if there would have been more disturbance than was caused by the grant to one of the prospectors of a few yards of worthless land at Mogok on which to erect a hut, and of an ordinary licence to mine.

Eventually an expert was sent out to inspect and value the mines. The gentleman deputed to this duty was no doubt a skilled mineralogist, even if he was without previous[46] experience in ruby mines. It is possible that his report was worth the cost. It was, I take it, a means of getting out of a parliamentary difficulty. It served the Secretary of State for India as an excuse for delay, and gave the appearance at least of a searching and impartial investigation.

Late in 1889 a concession for seven years was granted to five lucky promoters; and then the course usual in such cases was followed. A company was floated in London under the auspices of a big financier. The success for the concessionaires was unexampled. The public, especially the small investors, in an enthusiasm of greed, tumbled over each other to secure shares. In November, 1889, the company began to work. Its history since has not been one of remarkable prosperity either for the Government or the shareholders. The terms have been revised several times. The receipts of the Government from the company in 1903-4 were Rs. 2,11,500, or £14,000.

The history of this matter is interesting only as an example of the futility of interfering with the Government of India in local matters. To the administration of Burma it meant more writing, more labour, more anxiety, when attention was needed elsewhere. When a man's house is on fire he does not want to spend time in polishing the handle of his door. I was compelled to keep at Mogok better men and a stronger force than the district needed. For some years there was much disturbance in the neighbouring country. But it was unconnected with the mines.

It is a defect in parliamentary government that so many members, avoiding the really important matters, fasten greedily on lesser questions, especially those which promise a scandal. As Parliament chose to look at this matter as one of imperial interest, the mines acquired an importance out of all proportion to their value. I found the ruby mines was a burning question, and I had to go there without delay. I left Mandalay on the 29th of March in a steamer for Kyannyat, which was then the river station for Bernard Myo and Mogok, with Mr. Herbert White and my private secretary. We rode the forty miles from the river to Sagadaung, the halting-place at the foot of the hills, taking as we went an escort of five mounted men (Gurkhas) from the military posts on the road, and stopped there for the[47] night. From Sagadoung a mule-path (twenty miles) took us to Bernard Myo, where I halted, and next day rode into Mogok.

The regulations and conditions under which it was proposed to allow the mines to be worked were explained to the native mineowners and to the persons present on behalf of the applicants for the concession, and the way was cleared for a settlement.

A matter of more importance, although not one in which Parliament was interested, was the dispute about Möngmit and Mohlaing (explained in Chapter XX.). The Sawbwa of Möngmit and his ministers, as well as the claimant, Hkam Leng, had been summoned to attend me. The latter did not appear. He was one of the few irreconcilables Upper Burma produced. The investigation of the case satisfied me that he had no title to Möngmit, and I ordered him to be informed that his claim to that State was inadmissible, but that he would be recognised as chief of Mohlaing if he appeared and submitted.

After a few days at Mogok I returned to the river, marching down by the Thabeikkyin road. We were obliged to go slowly, as it was thought necessary to take an escort of twenty-five Gurkhas. One Paw Kwe, the headman of a village on the road, the influential brigand in these parts and one of the most evil-looking rascals I ever met, accompanied the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Carter,[14] and was in a measure responsible that no mischief should befall us. In the hope of keeping him quiet I gave him a subsidy for carrying the mails. But he preferred unemployment and took again to the jungle after a time, and, I believe, became an irreconcilable.

The leisurely march down gave time to take up some matters of importance that were waiting for me.


In the forefront of pressing questions was the provision of a sufficient fleet of steam-launches. The delta of the Irrawaddy, where the population is most dense and most wealthy, is a country of rivers and creeks, where most of the transport is by boats. In the rice-harvest season the waterways are much used by the Burman craft carrying rice to the mills at Rangoon or Bassein, or making their way homeward with the money for which it has been sold.

The waterways needed to be patrolled. The disorders following the annexation extended to the creeks and rivers, and river pirates had become more daring and the necessity of a well-formed service of river police more urgent. Lower Burma was not well provided in this matter; and being unable to obtain funds, the administration was driven to apply local funds intended for roads to the purchase of launches.

In the Upper Province the want of suitable boats was even greater. There were some six hundred miles of waterway to be served. The rivers were the main lines of communication, and on the banks were placed in most cases the headquarters of districts, the military stations and outposts, and most of the larger villages and busier markets. At first, until I had time to revise administrative boundaries, several districts included land on both banks. Insurgents and dacoits had no difficulty in obtaining boats for the purposes of attacking river craft or waterside villages, or of escaping from pursuit. Once or twice we were compelled to put an embargo on the boats to hinder the enemy from getting across, but it was impossible to interfere thus with the river life of the province, except under great necessity and for a very short time.

To meet the demands of the soldiers, the police, and the district officers, and, before the telegraph service was complete, to keep up communication between stations and outposts, many boats were required. It was also necessary to have the means of moving small bodies of troops up and down or across the river without delay as the need might arise.



I had little difficulty in showing the need for a better fleet. But the Government of India were startled at my demands. The Director of Indian Marine, Captain John Hext, R.N. (now Rear-Admiral Sir John Hext, K.C.I.E.), was sent down to persuade me to reduce the size and cost of my navy. He was successful, and might perhaps succeed in persuading the Emperor of Germany to limit his naval armaments. He had designed an excellent type of river boat, a very light-draught paddle-wheeler, with simple machinery and fair speed, with accommodation for half a company of rifles and a couple of officers. They were built under his instructions in the Government dockyard at Kidderpore. Being his own creation, he named them the X type. In Burma they were called after every type of robber known to the country. It was agreed that I was to have nine of these boats and four smaller craft. I had asked for twenty-three boats, and looking back, I am surprised at my moderation. At the present time, after twenty years of peace and freedom from organized crime, I believe the Burma Government has a fleet four times as large as that with which I had to be content. But then I was, as it were, a pioneer.

I was back in Mandalay on the 10th of April. There were some gleams of light between the clouds. Baw or Maw, a small Shan State on the Kyauksè border, had been brought to reason by General East without fighting: the Kalè Sawbwa on the Chindwin had completed the payment of his tribute: Hla U, the most noted leader in the Sagaing district, had been killed by his own men, who were sick of the life.

On the other side of the account, Sinbyugyun, a post north of Salin in the Minbu district, held by a military garrison of fifty men, had been attacked twice and partially burnt. The news from the Northern Shan States was somewhat disquieting. A desultory warfare was going on in Hsenwi between the hereditary chief of the State, who had allied himself with the pretender, Saw Yan Naing, and San Ton Hon, the usurper in possession of Northern Hsenwi, supported by the Sawbwa of Hsipaw. It was reported that San Ton Hon was being driven back, and it was feared that the Hsipaw chief, who was our only assured friend in the Shan States, might suffer a repulse. It seemed at one time that it might become necessary to send an officer to Hsipaw with a small force. I was unwilling to take this step. I wished to leave the Northern Shan States alone until the[50] next open season, and then to deal with the settlement of the States as a whole. The rains, moreover, were now near at hand, and Sir George White disliked moving troops into the hills if it could be avoided. I held a party of military police ready, and had obtained the Viceroy's consent to act, if it should be necessary. Meanwhile arms and ammunition were sent up to Hsipaw, and the Sawbwa, who was not more incapable or half-hearted than his opponents, contrived to hold his own until the next open season.

The military police were arriving now, and were being distributed and sent to their various destinations.

I could do little more by remaining in Mandalay. The most urgent matters in connection with the police were the definition of their duties and of their relations with the civil officers, their housing, rationing, and medical treatment. Until, as I stated before, these matters had been discussed and settled with the new Inspector-General of Police, little progress could be made in relieving the soldiers from occupying the small posts.

General Stedman was expected to arrive in Rangoon about the middle of May, and it was convenient that he should meet me there.

Another matter which called me to Rangoon was the condition of Lower Burma. Shortly before I took charge the Government of India had called the Chief Commissioner's attention to the state of the province, "the constant occurrence of petty dacoities (gang robberies), the apparent want of concerted and energetic action in dealing with them which," they wrote, "have attracted the serious notice of the Governor-General in Council. His Excellency trusts that the subject may receive your immediate and active intervention."

The condition of the province was bad from a police point of view. The people had enjoyed excellent harvests and good prices. Yet there was a constant recurrence of crime, and the police quite failed to cope with it. The excitement of the last year or two had been too much for the younger Burmans. They could not settle down again, and the spirit of loot and adventure rather than any real patriotism led to numerous gang robberies, and sometimes to foolish[51] outbreaks, of which men from Upper Burma were sometimes the instigators.

Even within a short distance of Rangoon an Upper Burman, related, it was said, to the Minbu leader, Ôktama, raised the Golden Umbrella and called for followers. Some hundreds obeyed the call, but at the first sight of the police they began to disperse. A party of Karens, led by a British police officer, came up with some of them, killed and wounded several, captured others, and made an end of the rising.

The Karens in Lower Burma were loyal and generally staunch, especially the Christian Karens. The American Baptist missionaries have done an inestimable service to the Karen race. They understand thoroughly how to educate—in the true sense of the word—a tribe that has been despised and trodden down for some generations. The missionary has made himself not only the pastor but also the chief of his people, and in those troubled times he organized them under their catechists, taught them discipline and obedience, and made them useful and orderly members of society, industrious, self-respecting, and independent. The Government of Burma owes a debt to the American Baptist Mission which should not be forgotten.

On receipt of this letter from the Government of India, reports from Commissioners and from the head of the police had been called for. Their answers were now before me. The Inspector-General of Police in Lower Burma was the late Mr. Jameson, an officer of ability and long experience. He frankly admitted that the police administration had failed in suppressing organized brigandage. "So far," he wrote, "from the crime of dacoity having been eradicated by British administration, each year more dacoities are committed than in the one preceding." He attributed this failure to defects in the judicial courts, especially the Court of Revision and Appeal, which resulted in making punishment very uncertain and sentences capricious; to the absence of any law establishing a village organization and responsibility; and to the number of arms in the hands of the peasantry, who received them for their self-defence against dacoits, but gave them or lost them to the robbers. The result was, Mr. Jameson asserted, that[52] after thirty-five years of British rule the country "was in a more disturbed state than after the second war."

There is no doubt that the judicial administration in Lower Burma was defective. The Judicial Commissioner who presided over the Chief Appellate and Revising Court for the interior of the province was selected by the Government of India from the members of the Indian Civil Service of one of the Indian provinces, and seldom stayed long in Burma. It is no libel on the distinguished men who have held this position to say that as a rule they had no knowledge of the language or customs of the people or of the conditions of Burma. They came from some quiet province of India, and were unable at first to appreciate those conditions. One of them might think the sentences awarded by the magistrates too severe; his successor might pronounce them to be too lenient.

There was a tendency to forget that an act—for example, shooting a thief or burglar at sight—which in a quiet and settled country may be a crime, may be excusable in a state of society where plunder and murder by armed robbers are everyday occurrences.

Much mischief may be and was done by well-intentioned but inept judicial action; neither the police nor the people knew how far they might go in defending themselves or in effecting the capture of criminals, and circulars were issued explaining the law which would have puzzled the Chief Justice. A Burman peasant before he fired his gun had to consider whether all the conditions justified him; and a frontier guard had to pause with his finger on the trigger while he recalled the words of the last circular on the use of firearms. The result was that the police and the people were nervous and demoralized. It was better to let the dacoit pass or to run away than to run the risk of a trial for murder.

This may seem exaggeration. On one occasion when the prisoners in a central gaol mutinied, the armed guard stood idle, until at last, when the convicts were breaking out, one of the guards took his courage in both hands and fired. The riot was checked. I wished to reward the man, but the superintendent of the gaol reported that he could not discover who had fired the shot. The warders said[53] they did not doubt the Chief Commissioner's power to reward them, but they knew the Judicial Commissioner would hang the man who fired the gun.

The freedom with which licences to possess firearms had been granted in Lower Burma was no doubt responsible for the facility with which the bad characters could arm themselves. Every day's experience proved that to arm the villagers was to arm the dacoits. Burmans are incredibly careless. Even the Burman constables, who were to some extent trained and disciplined, constantly allowed their guns to be taken. A half-hearted measure had been in force in Lower Burma, which required that a village must have at least five guns, as it was thought that with that number they could defend themselves. Like most half-measures, it was of no use.

The absence of a village organization and of the means of enforcing village responsibility was no doubt a very great obstacle in the way of the police, even if the police had been good. But when everything had been said it came to this, that the police were bad and police administration in a hopeless muddle.

The Burmans have, from the first day that British officers have tried to discipline them, shown a great want of responsibility and incurable slackness and little sense of duty. They cannot be trusted to keep watch and ward, to guard or escort prisoners or treasure, or even to remain on duty if they are posted as sentries. The discipline of Frederick the Great might have improved them. But he would have shot most of his men before he had made trustworthy soldiers of the few that remained.

Hence it came to pass that Indians were enlisted to perform the duties which the Burmans seemed unable to fulfil. A few Indians were posted to every station for these purposes, and the Burmans were employed mainly on detection and investigation and reporting. This system led to still further deterioration of the Burman constable, who ceased to rely on his own courage or resources.

The Indians, again, were recruited locally. The police officers who recruited them had no experience of the Indian races and did not know one caste from another. The most unfit men were taken. They were not much looked after,[54] and their officers did not know the Indian languages or understand their customs.

When the risings took place in Shwègyin and elsewhere after the annexation, the Burma police showed themselves to be absolutely untrustworthy. More Indians were enrolled and the mischief increased. The Burman knew he had behaved badly and was not trusted, and became more untrustworthy, while the Indians were not under proper discipline, scattered about as they were in small parties, and were in any case quite useless for detective or ordinary police purposes. The only exception to this condemnation of the indigenous police that could be made was, I think, the armed frontier guard in the Thayetmyo district, who were stationed and housed with their families on the frontier of British Burma.

It was clear that the working of the police force in Lower Burma required thorough investigation, and that its constitution would have to be recast. As necessary subsidiary measures, the country would have to be thoroughly disarmed, and above all a village organization must be created and the joint responsibility of the village for certain crimes enforced.

A committee was appointed to consider the best method of reforming the civil police force of Lower Burma. I took in hand the question of thoroughly disarming the whole province, and a bill dealing with Lower Burma villages on the lines of the Upper Burma village regulation was framed.

These matters would take some time. The Indian police, however, could be improved at once. It was decided to remove all Indians from the civil police, and to enroll them in a regiment under a military commandant, similar to one of the Upper Burma military police battalions in formation and discipline. Their headquarters were to be at Rangoon, and the men needed for other districts were to be sent from Rangoon and treated as detachments of the regiment. They were to be enrolled for three years under a Military Police Act, which was passed in 1887. Pending the report of the Committee and the measures that might be taken on their advice, it was necessary to act at once in the most disordered parts of the province. Especially in portions of the Shwègyin district in Tharawaddy, and in the northern[55] townships of Thayetmyo the dacoit gangs were strong and active. The ordinary district staff seemed helpless and unable to make head against the brigands, to whose exactions the peasants had become accustomed. They found it easier to make terms with the criminals than to help a government that was unable to protect them.

I adopted the plan of selecting a young officer known for his activity and character, and placing him in charge of the disturbed tract, giving him a sufficient police force and magisterial powers, and making him independent of the Deputy Commissioner of the district, who continued to conduct the ordinary administration. This special officer had no other duty than to hunt down and punish the gangs of outlaws. He was to be always out and always on their tracks, using every means in his power to make friends with the villagers and induce them to give him information and help against the common enemy.

This policy succeeded, and the disturbed districts were brought into line. The late Mr. Henry Todd Naylor,[15] of the Indian Civil Service, distinguished himself especially in this work, and won a well-merited decoration from the Viceroy.

I had made up my mind to dispense with the services of the Special Commissioner for Lower Burma as soon as possible. The appointment was undoubtedly necessary at first, when communications were bad, but as the province settled down the need was less and the saving of labour to me very little. The responsibility remained with me. I was bound to know everything that went on, and in such matters as the condition of the province the Government of India expected me to intervene personally.

The work and exposure since the annexation were beginning to tell on the members of the Commission, especially on those who had sustained the heaviest burdens of responsibility and had been most exposed to the climate, and I was hard pressed for men to fill the places of those who wanted leave.[16] An accident happening to the Commissioner of Tennasserim, I decided to send Mr. Hodgkinson there and to take the Lower Burma work into my own hands.


An increase to the Secretariat had been sanctioned in April, 1887. This enabled me to save a man by appointing Mr. Smeaton (the late Donald Mackenzie Smeaton,[17] C.S.I., M.P.), to the newly created post of Chief Secretary. He had served for some years in Burma, with distinction, under Sir Charles Aitchison and Sir Charles Bernard.

In a short time the Secretariats were united in Rangoon and the work distributed into the ordinary departments of Indian administration without reference to territorial division.

On the arrival of General Stedman in the middle of May (1887), the Upper Burma military police questions were brought under discussion. The men, as I have said before, were coming in fast. The sanctioned strength at this time was fifteen thousand five hundred men. It was necessary to determine the constitution of the force, its relation to the Deputy Commissioners of districts, and the methods by which it was to be rationed and kept supplied with necessaries.

These matters had been thought out before General Stedman's arrival. They were now discussed with him in detail, and the general lines to be followed were laid down. Briefly, the following constitution was adopted:—

The keynote of Indian administration was, and I believe still is, that the District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner, or by whatever name he may be called, is the executive representative of the Government, and is responsible for all matters in his district subject to the control of the Commissioner of the division. He is especially responsible for the peace of his district, and therefore the allocation of the police force rests primarily with him. It was laid down for the guidance of Deputy Commissioners that the most important and central posts should be occupied by fairly strong bodies of military police, to which should be attached a few Burman constables, some of whom were to be mounted, who were to collect information, receive reports, and investigate cases. Between the military police posts, and helping to link them up, were to be civil police stations manned by Burmans exclusively, who were to be locally recruited. A constant and systematic patrol was to be maintained between the military police posts. The posts were to be fortified and capable of defence by the garrison remaining after the despatch of a patrol. It was laid down as a fixed law that the reserve at headquarters must be sufficient to provide a reasonably strong movable column ready to reinforce any part of the district that might need it.


The police force was divided into battalions, one to each district, of a strength varying with the size and wants of the district. To each battalion was appointed a commandant, to all except a few very small battalions a second-in-command, and to some more than one. These officers were all selected from the Indian Army, and, with very rare exceptions, were capable men. The interior economy, the training, and the discipline of the men were left to the commandants under the Inspector-General's orders. With these matters the civil officials could not in any way interfere.

It was found necessary from the first to restrain firmly the tendency of the local officials to fritter away the strength of the force in small posts. The moment anything occurred they wanted to clap down a post on the disturbed spot; and if this had been allowed to go on unchecked there would not have been a man left to form a movable column or even to send out a patrol of sufficient strength.

The number of men to be kept at headquarters, the minimum strength of a post, and the minimum number of a patrol had to be absolutely laid down by the Chief Commissioner's order. At first the strength prescribed was too small. After some experience, the lowest post garrison was fixed at forty rifles, the minimum strength of a patrol at ten rifles; and these orders were stringently enforced.

It was resolved to mount a certain number of the force, and as soon as the ponies could be obtained—which was not an easy matter, as the mounted infantry and the army transport took up very many—about 10 per cent. of the men were mounted.

Many of the military police who arrived in Burma in 1887 were newly raised and insufficiently trained levies, and until the men had been drilled and taught to use their weapons[58] it was impossible to do much towards relieving the soldiers from the outposts. The rainy season was occupied in the work of instruction. The task was performed under very difficult conditions, for the men were often called away to occupy posts and take part in active operations, and the officers were few. The duty was well done, and by the end of the autumn of 1887 we were in possession of an army, which proved itself to be a most serviceable instrument for reducing the country to order. The men, whether in the field or in their lines, behaved exceedingly well.

Hardly less important than the constitution of the force was its maintenance in a state of contentment and efficiency. At the beginning of 1887 the number of military police landed in Burma was between five and six thousand, and as the year advanced the force was fast increasing. As the men arrived they were rapidly distributed to the districts of Upper Burma, and when trained were destined to relieve the troops in distant outposts.

It was necessary to make immediate arrangements for their rations and for renewing their clothing, equipment, and ammunition; and also for the medical treatment of the men. The principal medical officer of the field force kindly undertook to organize the medical service, and Captain Davis was engaged in working out the details.

Captain S. C. F. Peile, who, in 1885, had accompanied the Bengal Brigade of the field force as executive commissariat officer, had been selected to organize the supply business of the police force. He was ready to commence work early in April. The rains in Burma begin in May. Large numbers of the police were stationed in the Eastern Division, where cart traffic would soon become impossible, and also in the Ruby Mines and other districts, which would soon be cut off altogether.

I had found at several places that the military police at outposts were not properly rationed and depended on the military commissariat, which might at any time be moved away.

The question arose as to the best method of supplying our men. One of the conditions under which they had taken service was that they should, as in the army, get money compensation for dearness of provisions at a rate varying with[59] the price of flour. The men of the Indian army, when not on active service, ration themselves, and are paid on this principle. But this system presupposes that the necessary provisions are procurable in the local markets.

The Burman markets afford everything that a Burman needs—Burman caviare, a dainty that one has to be brought up to; tinned milk, biscuits, sardines, and other delicacies; but wheat flour, ghi (clarified butter), and various pulses are not to be had. It is on such things that the fighting man from Northern India lives.

After discussing the question carefully with Captain Peile, it was determined, with the consent of the men, to give no compensation and to serve out rations to all at a fixed monthly charge. The Central Direction undertook to deliver sufficient supplies at the headquarters of each battalion. The distribution to the outposts was to be managed by the battalion officers with the battalion transport.

I was able to say at the end of the year that the Supply Department had worked well, and that without its aid the organization of the military police could not have been effected. The system has stood the trial of more than twenty years, and it is doubtful whether any cheaper or better system could have been devised for the supply of a large force in similar circumstances.

The same establishment under Captain Peile provided for the supply and renewal of clothing, arms, and ammunition.

These matters and the work connected with the many parts of the administrative machine of the province gave me ample occupation in Rangoon for some weeks.


[9] "Legend of Gaudama," vol. ii., p. 319. (Trübner, 1880.)

[10] Ibid., p. 242.

[11] Ibid., p. 303.

[12] "Legend of Gaudama," vol. ii., p. 303.

[13] A summary of the measures taken in Burma is given in the report of "The Committee appointed by the Philippine Commission to investigate the use of opium and the traffic therein," which deals with the evidence in a sane and judicial manner. (See "The Province of Burma," by Alleyne Ireland, F.R.G.S., vol. ii., p. 845 et seq.)

[14] Mr. G. M. S. Carter had served in the Police Department in British Burma for eleven years and had made a reputation for ability and knowledge of the people. In June, 1886, he was appointed to be an Assistant Commissioner and posted to Upper Burma. Mr. Carter was one of the best executive officers in the Commission, and his death in 1890 was a severe loss to the Government and a sorrow to all of us, his comrades and friends.

[15] Mr. Todd Taylor, C.S.I., C.I.E., died last year, after acting as Financial Commissioner of Burma.

[16] Amongst others, Mr. Burgess, Mr. Fryer, Mr. Symes, and Mr. Carter were asking for leave. Of these only Mr. Fryer (Sir Frederic Fryer, K.C.S.I.) is alive. The others are dead many years.

[17] Mr. Smeaton was at this time serving in the North-Western (now United) Provinces of India.



It was about this time (May, 1887) that the news of the surrender of the Limbin prince to Mr. Hildebrand, and the submission of the influential Sawbwa of Möngnai came to remove some of our anxieties. Lord Dufferin telegraphed his congratulations to me: "These circumstances," he said, "greatly clear the air." They proved in effect that we need not apprehend any very serious opposition in the Shan States, and that there was no risk in holding that country with a small force during the rains, on which point there were apprehensions in some quarters.

Good news came also from Upper Burma. A noted gang, led by men of more force than the ordinary leaders of dacoits possessed, had surrendered to Major Ilderton, who commanded a post at Wundwin, in the Meiktila district. The gang was known by the name of the place, Hmawwaing, where it made its retreat, and it had sustained several severe attacks before the leaders gave in, of whom two had been village headmen and the third had been a Government servant under the King. The three had long worked together; and before the annexation they had dominated the northern part of Meiktila. They were pardoned, and provision made for their support. Two of them absconded. They soon found, however, that their influence was gone. The country was weary of them. One (Maung Kala) died of fever; a second (Myat Hmon) gave himself up again. The third (Maung Ohn), the most educated and best bred of them, had remained quiet.

It was now necessary for me to return to Upper Burma, but I had not yet met Mr. Tucker, the Commissioner of the Eastern Division. As the rains were beginning, and the extension of the railway beyond Toungoo had not been opened, I asked Mr. Tucker to meet me at Toungoo. I could[61] not spare time to march up to his headquarters. The chief engineer of the Mandalay Railway, Mr. Buyers, was pushing on the line as fast as he could. He had many difficulties to contend with. The Burmans, although coming readily to the work, were new to it. The working parties had to be protected; the heavy forest in some divisions of the line had to be cleared. I had seen Mr. Buyers and satisfied myself that work was going on well.

I met Mr. Tucker, and received from him a fairly satisfactory account of his division. Meiktila and Yamèthin were almost quiet. Pyinmana was a difficult tract to reduce to order. It is described in the Burma Gazetteer as "one large forest with the exception of the immediate surroundings of Pyinmana town and small patches of cultivation near the villages and streams." The station had been for some months almost besieged by dacoits, who took cover close to our lines. So much so that the postmaster, who came from a peaceful district, put up a notice closing the post-office as "urgent private affairs" compelled him to leave. It needed a good deal of peaceful persuasion to induce him to remain at his work.

In April, May, and June the troops of Sir William Lockhart's command, aided to some extent by the police, were very active. The forests and all the hiding-places were thoroughly explored and for the time at least cleared of dacoits. Meanwhile the civil officers, under the energetic direction of Mr. H. St. G. Tucker, vigorously disarmed the district, making full use of the men of local influence. By the middle of June, when Mr. Tucker met me, only small bands were left, who were forced to conceal themselves, and there was little trouble afterwards in this district. But the difficult country of the Pegu Yoma between Pyinmana and the Magwè district of the Southern Division continued to harbour dacoits until 1890.

I returned to Rangoon from Toungoo and left for Upper Burma on the 10th of June. Going by the river, I stopped at all the towns on the way up, seeing the officers, inspecting every part of the administration, and discussing affairs.

In Lower Burma the towns and villages showed their wonted comfort and prosperity, the boats were as numerous as ever, and the rice and other produce was waiting in[62] abundance at the landing-places for the steamers. The disturbances had had little effect on trade.

The country inland to the west of the river was still harassed by predatory gangs in the wilder parts, and the police did not appear able to suppress them.

There was no need, however, for the aid of the soldiers. I was able to reduce the number of outposts occupied by troops, and I would have reduced them still more, but that the General Commanding in Lower Burma was unable to provide barrack-room for the men occupying them. It was clearly time to take up the question of reducing the garrison of Lower Burma.

It was not a good thing to accustom the civil officers, the police, or the people to depend on detachments of troops scattered over the country, and it certainly was not good for the discipline and efficiency of the men. The conduct of the soldiers, however, was excellent, and the people welcomed them. I found a general unwillingness to lose the sense of security which their presence gave; and possibly also the profits of dealings with them. The Indian soldiers and the Burmans were on excellent terms. Even where the men were quartered in the monasteries the Pongyis did not want them to leave.[18]

At Thayetmyo the region of dacoit gangs and disturbances was reached. The main trouble appeared to be in what may be termed Bo Swè's country, which lay on the right bank of the river, reaching from the old British Burma boundary to a line going westward with a slight southerly curve from Minhla to the Arakan mountains. Part of the trouble I thought arose from the fact that the jurisdiction of the Lower Burma command had been extended so as to cover this country, while the civil jurisdiction belonged to the Minbu district of Upper Burma. This impeded free communication between the civil and military authorities. I transferred the tract to Thayetmyo, made it a subdivision of that district, and put a young and energetic officer in charge. The tract across the river was similarly treated.


I was now in Upper Burma again. Minbu on both sides of the river (it extended to both banks at this time) was very disturbed. Ôktama's power was not broken. Villages were attacked and burnt, and friendly headmen were murdered.

Pagan, the next district, was not much better; and divided as it was by the river, and containing the troublesome Yaw tract, the civil authorities were somewhat handicapped. From Pagan I crossed over to Pakokku, even then a fine trading town and the centre, as it still is, of the boat-building industry. The town in 1887 had a population of about 5,000, which had increased in 1901 to 19,000. It was well laid out with handsome avenues of tamarind-trees. Standing on good sandy soil and well drained, it was a fine site for the headquarters of a district.

The town and its neighbourhood had been skilfully governed by a lady, the widow of the old Governor, who had died thirty years before. Her son, a very fat and apparently stupid youth, was titular town-mayor (Myo-thugyi); but because he was suspected of playing false, through fear of the insurgents, he had been superseded, and a stranger from Lower Burma appointed as magistrate.

The wisdom of importing men from Lower Burma was always, to my mind, doubtful, and in this case was peculiarly open to objection, as it was a slight to the widow, who was undoubtedly an able woman, and had joined the British cause from the first.

It was said that in 1885 she was ordered by the King's Government to block the channel by sinking boats, of which there were always plenty at Pakokku; she let all the Upper Burma craft go—for a consideration, of course—and sunk some boats which belonged to British Burma. She was alleged to have made a thousand pounds by this transaction, which is very characteristic of the East.

I called on this old lady and had some conversation with her, and I would gladly have seen more of her, as she appeared to be a woman of some power. It was arranged to remove the Lower Burman magistrate and to send an English Assistant Commissioner, who would work through the hereditary Governor and his mother.


At Myingyan, the next station, I found the best of my officers was Captain Hastings,[19] the commandant of the military police, who was fast making his men into a very fine battalion, with which before long he did excellent service. I waited at Myingyan to see General Sir Robert Low, who had been at Mandalay. He was satisfied about the progress in his district, except in the country about Salin, Ôktama's country, and in Taundwingyi, which he said was full of dacoits, and would probably be their last abiding-place.

It was a true prophecy, as I learnt to my sorrow. Partly owing to the very difficult country on its east border, and partly, perhaps even more, to the incompetence and weakness of the local officers, this district became my shame and despair. But at this time I had not been over the Taundwingyi country.

My next halt was at Myinmu, the headquarters of a subdivision of the Sagaing district, on the right bank, about thirty miles below Sagaing. Mr. Macnabb, a young soldier who had lately joined the Commission, was there as subdivisional officer. His report was not very satisfactory. Myinmu, for some reason or other, was especially obnoxious to the insurgents and was repeatedly attacked. Even quite recently there has been some trouble at Myinmu, although it is now a station on the railway which goes from Sagaing to the Chindwin.

Ava, which is a little further up on the opposite side of the river, was at that time a separate district. But except that it was the old capital of Burma, and was a favourite ground for dacoits, there was no reason for keeping a Deputy Commissioner there, and little ordinary work for him. It was soon to be added to the Sagaing district, to which it still belongs. There were no troops at this time at Ava; the Indian military police were good.

I found the experiment of training Burmans as military police still going on in Ava. It will be remembered that the first idea was to recruit half the force from the Burmans and other local races. The commandant called my attention to the gross waste of money that was involved in this experiment. The Burman officers were hopelessly unfit. One had been imported from Lower Burma; the other was a half-caste, a poor specimen of his kind in every way. They were disbanded as soon as possible.

Shwètakyat promontory opposite Sagaing.


The dacoits hung about the country under the Ava Deputy Commissioner for a long time. His jurisdiction did not extend over more than three hundred and fifty square miles, but it was harried by three noted guerilla leaders—Shwè Yan, who occupied the country on the borders of the Kyauksè and Ava districts; Bo Tok, who frequented the borders of Ava and Myingyan; and the third, Shwè Yan the second, who ravaged the south-west part of the district. The two last were killed by British troops. The first and the most formidable of the three was reported to have disappeared.

It may be mentioned here, as illustrating the persistence of the insurgents and the apparently endless nature of the task, which demanded all our patience and perseverance, that in the spring of 1888 Ava was as bad as ever. There were nineteen well-known leaders—"named varieties," as a gardener might call them—who, in the words of the official report, "held the countryside in terror." Early in May, Shwè Yan, whose disappearance had been reported, was again on foot with a strong body of followers. A force of troops and police which encountered him lost two British officers.

From Ava I went over to Sagaing and inspected the station and the police, and crossed to Mandalay the same day. Sir George White met me on landing, and I rode up with him to my quarters on the wall.

This journey had occupied me eighteen days. I left Rangoon on the 10th of June, and reached Mandalay on the 28th. But the time had been well spent in gaining information and in making or renewing acquaintance with the district officers. I had inspected all stations on the way, and had been able to dispose of many questions on the spot. When I was not on shore, the office work and correspondence kept me busy. My secretary and I had to write on the skylight of the boat, as there was no accommodation of any kind except a few dressing-rooms below, which in that climate and at that season were suffocating.


[18] The same is true of the British soldier, of whom in war or peace his countrymen cannot be proud enough. When, after the barracks were built at Mandalay, a regiment (the Royal Munster Fusiliers) was ordered to leave a great group of monasteries, the abbots and chief Pongyis came to me with a petition to let the soldiers remain where they were.

[19] Now Major-General Edward Spence Hastings, C.B., D.S.O., Commanding the Mandalay Brigade. The Myingyan Battalion was in 1892 formed into the 4th Burma Battalion under its old commandant.



Nothing has been said as yet about roads and communications, the most powerful of all aids in pacifying a disturbed country. The plains of India in most provinces lend themselves to military operations, and for the greater part of the year an army can move about at will. In Burma the long and heavy rains, the numerous streams, and the extensive and dense forests and jungles, make campaigning very difficult. The country, in Sir George White's words, quoted before, "is one huge military obstacle."

Sir Charles Bernard had not lost sight of this part of his work. With the aid of Mr. Richard, of the Public Works Department, a most able superintending engineer, as much as possible had been done. No time had been lost.

In Mandalay itself, in 1886, fifteen miles of road had been re-formed, the bridges renewed and metal consolidated, and in the country generally more than two hundred miles of roads had been taken in hand and partially finished. Tracks one hundred feet in width had been cleared of forest and jungle between many of the military posts, a work in which the military officers took a large part. As our occupation of the country became closer, more roads and more tracks were called for. These forest tracks can hardly be called engineering works, but they were of first importance for the free movement of troops. The time during which road-making can be carried on is short in Burma, owing to the great rainfall. The dry zone in the centre of the province, where the climate is no impediment, is precisely the country where roads are least necessary.


Eastern Governments as a rule trouble themselves very little about roads and public buildings of a useful kind. In Burma there were pagodas and monasteries innumerable. But roads and prosaic buildings, such as court-houses and jails, received little attention. Such a thing as a trunk road did not exist.

Controlling the engineering establishment in Lower Burma there was a chief engineer, who was also Public Works secretary. His hands were full. To ask him to supervise the work in the new province as well was to lay on him an impossible task and to ensure the waste of much money. A chief engineer for Upper Burma was appointed at my request, and Major Gracey, R.E., who was selected for the post, had arrived in Burma. I have met with few men who had more power of work and of getting their subordinates to work, or who took greater care of the public money, than Major Gracey.

On his arrival, in consultation with Colonel Cumming, the expenditure was examined and the whole situation discussed in Rangoon, and afterwards both officers met me in Mandalay. There was much difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of engineers and a competent engineering establishment. The Indian Public Works service in the higher grades is recruited in England, and the subordinates are appointed in India. Service in Burma was for many reasons unpopular with men trained in India. The other provinces were not anxious to part with their best men. Hence the men who came to Burma were frequently unwilling and sometimes not very efficient.

The difficulty was to apportion the existing establishment as fairly as possible between the two provinces, so as to give Major Gracey a fair number of men with Burman experience.

With Major Gracey's help everything went on well, and as fast as possible. A list of the work done in 1887 would fill a page. The grant for military works in that year was £317,500. Permanent barracks at Mandalay and Bhamo, and a great number of temporary buildings to accommodate troops, were erected all over Burma in the first year of Major Gracey's tenure. Many of the temporary[68] buildings were put up by military and civil officers; but after a time, all military buildings were carried out by the Public Works Department.

The Civil Works grant was nearly £350,000.

The provinces had no court-houses, no jails, no places of detention at the police stations, and no barracks or accommodation for the military police. Two larger jails, one at Mandalay for eight hundred prisoners and one at Myingyan for one thousand, although not yet completed, were already occupied. Of three smaller prisons at Monywa, Pagan, and Minbu, one was finished and two partially, but enough to be of use. At ten stations small lock-ups were being built for persons arrested by the police. The jails and lock-ups were pressed on, because the existing arrangements for confining prisoners inherited from the Burmese Government were insufferable, and in some cases inhuman.

Provision had to be made for housing some thousands of military police. At the headquarters of eighteen districts accommodation had to be provided for about half a battalion, with hospitals, guard-rooms, magazines, and cook-houses. These buildings, especially the hospitals with accommodation for 8 per cent. of the strength, were constructed of good permanent material. The barracks, officers' quarters, stables, and the like were built in the cheapest way consistent with comfort and health. The condition of the country in a year or two would permit, it was expected, of a reduction of the military police force, or at least of a change in its disposition; the barrack accommodation would not be permanently wanted, but the hospitals could be used for the civil population.

Added to all this building work, roads to the extent of five hundred miles, of which one hundred and fifty were hill roads, were laid out and made passable, raised and bridged in most cases, and in some places metalled. These works were scattered over the province from Bhamo to the old frontier of British Burma. In designing the roads it was remembered that the great trunk lines of communication were the great rivers in the centre and west of the province, and the railway in the east. All the main roads were designed to be feeders to the rivers or the rails. In addition[69] to the larger roads, many hundreds of miles of tracks and rough district roads were cut through the forest and jungles, and a survey was begun, to open up the difficult Yaw country, through which we had afterwards to push troops. (vide Chapter XXI.). I think it may be claimed that our engineers did their duty.

The middle of Upper Burma, the dry zone, as it is called, differs in climatic conditions from the country to the south and north of it. The rainfall is deficient, and droughts, sometimes severe, are not unknown.

The Burmese rulers were capable of large conceptions, but they lacked skill; and their great irrigation schemes, attempted without sufficient science, were foredoomed to failure. The largest works of this class existing, when we took the country, were the Mandalay and Shwèbo Canals, which were of little use, as even where the construction was not faulty they had been allowed to go to ruin. In Kyauksè Salin (Minbu district) and elsewhere there were extensive canals of a less ambitious nature, which although neglected were still of much service. Even in the turmoil of 1886 and the pressure of what was in fact a state of war, Sir Charles Bernard found time to attend to the irrigation systems; and as soon as a skilled engineer could be obtained from India, and funds allotted, the work of irrigation was tackled in earnest. The first business was to examine the existing systems and see whether they could be made use of. Before I left Burma in December, 1890, I had the pleasure of knowing that this work was in hand, and that further deterioration from neglect had been stopped, and also that new schemes were under consideration.

The expenditure in Upper Burma at this time was very great. An army of fourteen thousand men cannot be kept in the field for nothing. The military police force was a second army, and there was besides all the cost of the civil administration. The incoming revenue was in comparison insignificant. In 1886-7 it had been £250,000 in round numbers, in 1887-8 it rose to £500,000—not enough to cover the public works expenditure alone.

It was not wonderful, therefore, that the Government of India, whose finances at the time were by no means happy, should be nervous about the expenditure. They were most[70] gentle and considerate in the matter; and although it was evident that our success in Burma would be measured in England mainly by the financial results, no pressure was put upon me to get in revenue, and I felt the pinch chiefly in the difficulty of getting an adequate and competent engineering establishment and immediate funds for works, the urgency of which was less apparent to the Government of India than to me on the spot. With Lord Dufferin's backing I obtained what I wanted, and I hope I did not exhibit an indecent importunity.

I had considered and reported to the Finance Department all possible means of raising the revenue. On the whole, my conclusion was that we had to look rather to existing sources than to new taxation, which in a country not yet completely subdued and of which we had imperfect knowledge would have been inexpedient. The excise revenue might have been made profitable, but we were debarred from interfering for the time with the regulations made and sanctioned (somewhat hastily, perhaps) by the Government of India, immediately after the annexation.

Under the circumstance, the best and quickest method of improving the financial conditions was clearly the reduction of the field force. This was already under discussion. The initial step had been taken and one regiment of Native Infantry had been sent back to India. The military police had begun to relieve the troops in the outposts. The Major-General, Sir George White (who in addition to his merits as a gallant leader and good strategist, was an able administrator), was careful always of public money, and in perfect accord with the civil administration. He desired his men to be relieved as quickly as possible.

It was a matter, however, in which it was unsafe to rush, and in which a heavy responsibility rested on me. Events were happening from time to time which warned us that we were not yet out of the wood. On the 3rd of June, for example, the troops at Pyinulwin, forty miles from Mandalay, led by Colonel May, had attacked a stockade held on behalf of the Setkya Mintha, a pretender. Darrah, Assistant Commissioner, was killed, an officer named Cuppage badly wounded, and several men lost. Hkam Leng (see Chapter XX.) was active in the Möngmit Country.

"The Moat," Mandalay.
And North Wall of Fort Dufferin.


The Commissioners of the Northern and Central Divisions were urging me to have the large and numerous islands between Mandalay and Sagaing cleared of the gangs who held them. They represented the necessity of a river patrol. The cry from the Southern Division was for launches. The Commissioner wrote that the only boat in his division fit for service was that assigned to the military authorities; and this was the day after Captain Hext's arrival on his mission from India, to persuade me to reduce my demand for boats.

The Deputy Commissioner for Mandalay reported that there was a dacoit leader stockaded within forty miles of Mandalay, and that he was unable to get a force to turn him out of his position.

At the same time (July, 1887) bad news came from the Ye-u district. Two pretenders had appeared with a considerable following. As a prelude they had burnt villages, crucified one of the village headmen, and committed other brutalities. The civil administration was obliged to ask for help from the soldiers in this case. The weather was fine, and the country which these men had occupied was a good field for cavalry. The Hyderabad Cavalry were in the field at once, and the Inspector-General of Police was able to get together a hundred mounted military police and send them to help. A force from the Chindwin side co-operated. The gathering was very soon scattered. One of the leaders died of fever and the other escaped for a time, but was afterwards captured in the Lower Chindwin district, where he was attempting to organize another rising.

I was compelled in Sagaing also to ask Sir George White's assistance. The Sagaing Police battalion was backward in training and not fit for outpost work in a bad district. The death of Hla U had been expected to bring peace. But it now appeared that the district on both sides of the Mu was in the hands of three or four dacoit leaders who collected a fixed revenue from each village, which was spared so long as the demand was paid. Any headman who failed to pay was murdered[72] remorselessly. In some cases the man's wife and children were killed before his face, to add to the sting of death.

The system in the Sagaing and other districts much resembled—in its machinery, not altogether in its methods—the organization of the Nationalists in Ireland.

At my request Sir George White consented to occupy the district closely, and although the gangs were not caught or brought to justice, some protection was given to the peaceful part of the population until we were ready later on to take the district in hand and destroy the gangs.

In Sagaing, as in some other cases, the local officers had been ignorant of what was going on around them. It was believed to be quiet because we had no touch with the people, and they told us nothing.

The intention in referring to these events is to show why caution was needed in the matter of relieving the troops. It must be remembered that a very large proportion of the military police had received very little training before their arrival. With the exception of some two thousand men, all were recruits entirely untaught in drill or discipline. The employment of such raw men on outpost duty under native officers whom they did not know was not without risk. In many cases the risk had to be faced, and consequently some disasters were inevitable. Progress was slow, but under the conditions it was good. "To instil discipline into so large a body of young soldiers," wrote the Inspector-General (General Stedman), "was a far more difficult task than to teach them the rudiments of drill. By discipline must be understood not only good conduct in quarters and prompt obedience to the orders of superiors, but the necessity of sticking to one another in the field and the habit of working together as a welded body."

Before I left Mandalay again for Lower Burma, Sir George White and I had arrived at an agreement regarding the force which it was necessary to keep up. We were able to propose the abolition of the field force and the reduction of the garrison by one regiment of British Infantry, two regiments of Indian Cavalry, eight regiments of Indian Infantry, and one British Mountain Battery. The allocation of the troops and police was reviewed in consultation with the Commissioners of Divisions[73] and so made that the one force supplemented the other. The reduction was to take effect from the spring of 1888.

We were now about to enter on a new development of the British occupation. The civil officers, supported by the military police, were to take the responsibility of keeping order. The soldiers were there ready to help if need be, but they were not to be called out except for operations beyond the power of the police.



I had arranged to hold a Durbar at Mandalay on the 5th of August, in order to meet the notables of Burma, and such of the Shan chiefs as might be able to come, face to face, and to make them understand the position, the intentions, and the power of the British Government. I hoped, perhaps not in vain, that the spirit of my words might penetrate to the towns and villages of Burma.

Meanwhile I had not visited Bhamo, and I decided to go there. I had sent for Mr. Hildebrand, whom I wanted to consult about the operations in the Shan States which were to be undertaken in the coming cold season. He arrived before I left Mandalay for Bhamo, and as he evidently needed rest, I asked him to remain at Government House until my return.

I found Bhamo a disappointing place. A very dirty, miserable kind of village, arranged in two streets parallel to the river. At the back lay a marsh or lagoon, which evidently was at one time a channel for the backwater of the river. Conservancy there was none, and the stench from the streets, the lagoon, and even the bank of the river was sickening. Considering that the place had been the headquarters of a district since our occupation, and a cantonment for British and Indian troops, it was not much to be proud of. But the soldiers and the civil officers had been well occupied with more pressing business.

The Chinese were the most prominent of the population. They were all, it was said, opium smokers, and seldom moved until near midday. They managed notwithstanding to make money, and to retire with fortunes after a few years. I anticipated a large increase of the trade with[75] China, but doubted if the town could grow much on its present site.[20] As to the trade, it could not make much progress on account of the cost of transport between Bhamo and Tengyueh, the risk of attack by Kachins, and the exactions and oppressions of the Chinese Customs officials, who at one time had maintained a likin station within the British boundary not far from Bhamo. There was another route used by traders, which went by Mansi and Namkham, a Shan State on the Shwèli. Since the Kachins in the country south of Bhamo have been subjugated, the Chinese caravans have preferred the Namkham route; and at present although the Kachins have ceased to raid, and much has been done of late to improve the road to Tengyueh, the trade has not returned to that channel.

A survey for a light railway to Tengyueh has been made, but a strange indifference exists to the benefits certain, as I think, to result from making the line. The construction of a railway between Northern Burma and Yunnan has always appeared to me essential to the full development of the province. The opportunity has been lost and France has anticipated us. It would be a difficult and expensive work no doubt, but whether more difficult than the French line may be doubted. Even now, after twenty years, it has not been surveyed beyond the Kunlon ferry, and the opinion of persons without engineering knowledge has been accepted as sufficient to condemn it. But we may still hope. Napoleon crossing the Alps might have scoffed at the notion of a railway to Italy.

There is a vast area of land in Upper Burma waiting for population to cultivate it, and if communications were made easy, the Chinese Shans and possibly Chinese and Panthays from Yunnan might be induced to settle in the northern districts. The Chinese and Burmans are akin, and the offspring of Chinese fathers and Burman mothers have the good qualities of both races, which cannot be said of other crosses.

I returned to Mandalay from Bhamo before the end of July, having learnt and arranged much, especially in consultation with Major Adamson, the Deputy Commissioner, regarding the contemplated occupation of Mogaung. The stations on the river were all inspected on the way down.


I found Mr. Hildebrand waiting for me, and discussed with him and with Sir George White the plans for an expedition to the Shan States.

The Durbar was held on the 5th of August, and I think was a useful function. It was held in the great Eastern Hall of the Palace, the place where the King of Burma used to give audience to his feudatories and his people. The ex-ministers and some of the Shan Sawbwas were present, and the great hall was crowded with notables and officials from Mandalay and other districts. It must have been to them a striking occasion, and to many of them, perhaps, not altogether pleasant. To such as had any patriotic feeling, and no doubt many of them had, the representative of a foreign Government standing in front of the empty throne must have been the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not.[21]

My duty, however, was not to show sympathy with sentiment of this kind, but to impress them with the permanence, the benevolence, and the power of the new Government. In an appendix I have given the text of my speech and some comments upon it taken from an article in the Times newspaper of the 13th of September, 1887. Two of the high Burman officials who had formerly been in the King's service, the Kinwun Mingyi, one of the Ministers of the State, and the Myowun, or City Governor of Mandalay, both of whom had given great assistance to the British Government, received decorations. The former was made a Companion of the Star of India and the latter of the Indian Empire. I was glad to get the following commendation from Lord Dufferin.

He wrote: "I congratulate you on your Durbar and upon the excellent speech you made on the occasion. It was full of go and good sense, and will convince everybody that you really mean business."

There were fresh rumours at this time (August, 1887) of hostile intentions on the part of the Chinese, of gatherings of soldiers and bandits on the frontier, of the presence of auxiliaries from Yunnan with San Ton Hon in Theinni. There was no foundation in fact for any of these rumours; Mr. Warry, the Chinese adviser, placed no faith in them, and I did not believe in them. But they were repeated in the newspapers, magnified in gossip, and disturbed the public mind.


The best way of silencing these rumours was to make our occupation of the northernmost district, Mogaung, effectual, and to establish a definite control in the Shan States. In concert with the Major-General, proposals for effecting both these objects had been prepared and were before the Government of India, and I knew that the Viceroy approved them.

In neither case was serious opposition expected. Detailed accounts of both movements will be found in separate chapters of this book. In the case of the Shan States, the character of the expedition was essentially peaceful and conciliatory. The escorts given to the two civil officers were strong enough to deter, or if necessary overcome, opposition and support the dignity of our representatives. But unless hostilities broke out, in which case the military commanders would necessarily become supreme, the control was vested in the senior civil officer, Mr. Hildebrand. It is unnecessary to say more here, except that with Sir George White's help everything was done to keep down the cost. Not a man more than was absolutely necessary was sent. The Shan plateau, at this time nowhere prosperous, was in some parts on the verge of famine; not from drought or other climatic cause, but simply from the cat-and-dog life the people had led for some years. No supplies could be obtained in the country. It was necessary to ration the troops for four or five months, and the cost of transport was heavy.

Every one felt, however, that cost what it might, the work we had undertaken must be completed. Nothing could have justified us in leaving the Shan country any longer in a state of anarchy; and I doubt if even the most narrow-minded Under Secretary in the Financial Department dared to raise objections to the needful expenditure. It may be permitted to say here that no money[78] was better spent. The Shan plateau for lovely scenery, for good climate, and I believe for its natural wealth, is proving itself a most valuable possession. Lord Dufferin thoroughly approved of the action taken in these cases.

It was a relief to deal with these larger matters. They were less harassing than the constant stream of administrative details of every kind which leave a man at the head of a large province barely time to think of his most important problems. The demands from the Secretary of State for information, which came through the Government of India, wasted a great deal of time. Members of Parliament who cannot force themselves into notice in other ways, take up a subject like Burma, of which no one knows anything, and ask questions which the Secretary of State has to answer. Frequently there was little foundation for these questions, and when the call came to answer them, it took both time and labour to ascertain what they were all about. Correspondents of newspapers, not so much perhaps out of malice—although that is not quite unknown—as from the necessities of their profession are greedy for sensational news. They know that the English public prefer to think that their servants abroad are either fools or scoundrels. If everything is reported to be going well and the officers to be doing their duty, few will credit it, and none will be interested in it. But hint vaguely at dark intrigues or horrible atrocities, ears are cocked at once, and the newspaper boys sweep in the pence.

Few of the uninitiated would believe how much time has to be given by the head of an Indian province to the placing of his men. In a climate like Burma, and under the conditions obtaining in 1887, frequent and sudden sickness compels officers to take leave. The civil staff of the province was barely sufficient if no losses occurred. If a man fell out it was often difficult to supply his place, and if a good man went down, as they often did, it was sometimes impossible to find a good man to succeed him. Writing to Lord Dufferin at this time (September, 1887) of one of the worst districts, I said: "I have not been able to put a good man there yet, but I hope to have a man soon. It all depends on getting hold of the right man." In a settled province the personal factor is not so important;[79] but in a newly annexed country it is everything. Even in the oldest province in India, if a fool is put in charge of a district and kept there long enough you will have trouble of some sort.

Much has been heard of late years of the evils of transfers, and even Viceroys have talked as if the carelessness or favouritism of provincial governors were responsible for the mischief. The real cause in my experience is the inadequacy of the staff of officers. If one man falls sick and has to leave his district, two or three transfers may become inevitable. The Government of India realize no doubt that the staff, of the smaller provinces especially, is inadequate. If they give a liberal allowance of Englishmen the expense is increased and promotion becomes too slow. If they cut down the staff, the head of the province has to tear his hair and worry through somehow.


[20] The population was 8,048 in 1891, and 10,734 in 1901, of which number 3,000 were natives of India. These numbers include the garrison.

[21] This was written before the removal of the capital of India from Delhi to Calcutta.



It was in Rangoon at this time that I made up my mind to disarm the whole province, Upper and Lower, rigorously, as soon as possible. I wrote to Lord Dufferin on September 30, 1887, as follows: "I am of opinion that the time has come for the complete disarming of the whole province, except perhaps on some exposed frontiers. The firearms in the hands of dacoits are evidently much fewer, but they continually replenish their stock by taking arms from villagers and Burman police. I would temper the measure in the Lower province by giving arms to selected Karens and Burmans, who should enrol themselves as special constables. As the Burmans hate nothing so much as signing any engagement to serve for a term, few of them would enrol themselves.

"I should fix the number of such special police myself, for each district."

The Baptist missionaries, I feared, would not look upon the scheme with favour. The loyalty of the Karens and the benefits of their organization under their missionaries, to whom the Government, as I have said on a former page, owes much, were not questioned. But it was not admissible that the Government of Burma should prefer one race more than another, and I had been warned by one of the missionaries themselves that Burman ill-will had been excited by the preference given to Karens in raising bodies of police auxiliaries during the disturbances.

By laying down conditions, fair and necessary in themselves, which men of the one race were likely to accept, but would be less acceptable to the other, as much discrimination was made between Karens and Burmans as was needful or decent.


In Upper Burma, Sir Charles Bernard had ordered the withdrawal of firearms from the villagers, soon after the annexation. It was not possible to carry it out effectually at that time. It was not until 1888 that I had arranged all the details and could put the orders fully into force. It is admitted generally to have been a beneficial measure, and to have helped very much to pacify the country and to put down dacoity. It is a pity that the disarmament of Lower Burma had not been enforced many years before. But no accumulation of facts are enough to destroy a prejudice, and for a long time my action was violently, I might say virulently, denounced in the Press and in Parliament.

The wisdom and necessity of this measure has come, I think, to be admitted by most people and was never doubted by my successors, who wisely disarmed the Chins at the cost of a serious rising and a hill campaign. The number of firearms taken from the villagers amounted in the years 1888 and 1889 to many thousands. Most of them were very antiquated and fit for a museum of ancient weapons. But they served the purpose of the Burman brigand, and not a few good men, British and Indian, died by them.

The Village Regulation was passed on October 28, 1887. It established on a legal basis the ancient and still existing constitution of Upper Burma. While emphasizing the responsibility of the village headman, it gave him sufficient powers and the support of the law. It also enacted the joint responsibility of the village in the case of certain crimes; the duty of all to resist the attacks of gangs of robbers and to take measures to protect their villages against such attacks. In the case of stolen cattle which were traced to a village, it placed on it the duty of carrying on the tracks or paying for the cattle. It gave the district officer power to remove from a village, and cause to reside elsewhere, persons who were aiding and abetting dacoits and criminals. This enactment, the genesis of which I have given in a former chapter, was framed in accordance with the old customary law and with the feelings of the people. It strengthened our hands more and gave us a tighter grip on the country than anything else could have[82] done. Without the military police no law could have done much. Without the Village Regulation, the military police would have been like a ship without a rudder.

When the open season of 1887-8 began, the administration was in a strong position to deal with the disorder still prevailing. It was prepared as it never had been before. There was the law enforcing village responsibility, and enabling the magistrate to deal summarily with the persons who were really the life of dacoity; those who, living an apparently honest life, were the intelligence and commissariat agents of the gangs. All the details of disarmament had not been settled, but every opportunity was taken of withdrawing arms, and in the case of dacoit leaders or their followers, or of rebel villages, the surrender of a certain number of firearms was made a condition of the grant of pardon. Lastly, the military police organization was complete, and the physical force needed to enforce the law was thus provided in a ready and convenient form.

The rains were over, and I anticipated that the dacoits would again become active. I also thought it probable that the inexperienced police would meet with some disasters.

The country now in the Thayetmyo district, frequented by Bo Swè, was quieter. He was a fugitive with a diminished following. Early in October we were cheered by the news of his destruction. The Viceroy wired his congratulations.

It may seem unworthy of the Government of a great country to rejoice at the death of a brigand whose influence did not extend over more than a few hundred square miles. It was not the man's death, but all that it meant. A sign of the coming end—slowly coming, it may be, but still the coming end—of a very weary struggle with a system of resistance which was costing us many good men and a lavish expenditure of money. Bo Swè was ridden down by a party of Colonel Clements' Mounted Infantry belonging to the Lower Burma command. He and his men were surprised in a ravine, and many, including Bo Swè, killed.

There were still left the broken remnants of the leader's following. Active officers, with special powers and sufficient police, were placed in charge of the Northern subdivisions of the Thayetmyo district on both sides of the[83] river, and order was established before the end of 1887. But in Upper Burma the districts of the Southern Division remained in a very bad state. Ôktama was still master, especially in the valley of the Môn. I had not found the right men for Minbu, and the weakness of the civil administration was represented as an evil, not without reason, by the military commanders.

The following extract from a letter dated 1st of October, 1887, from the Commissioner of the Southern Division will give a better idea of the state of things than mere general phrases:—

"On 16th August, Po Saung, an informer, was caught and killed by Bo Cho's gang in Pagan.

"On 29th August, Yan Sin, a dacoit who had submitted, was caught and killed by Nga Kway in Pagan.

"On 5th September, at Kôkkozu village in Pauk, the dacoits tried to catch the thugyi, but failed, and caught and murdered his wife.

"Su Gaung, a mounted police constable, was shot while carrying letters between Myingyan and Natogyi on 16th September.

"In Lindaung, Pagan district, the thugyi was murdered a month ago and Thade's gang on 10th September attempted to capture his son, but failed, and plundered the village.

"On 29th September, Nurtama in Minbu, which is the headquarters of the Kyabin Myoôk, was attacked. The Myoôk's and seven other houses were burned; no one was killed. The Myoôk lived here in fear of his life for some time. He sleeps at night at Sinbyugyun, on the other side of the Salin Creek, and if he sleeps at Nurtama he does not sleep in his own house, but in a little post which he has built. He has taken a guard of ten men from Sinbyugyun.

"On 24th September at Sagyun, in Myingyan district, Custance's interpreter and the thugyi of Welôn were breakfasting in the village; they were attacked, and the interpreter killed, his head being nearly severed from his body. The thugyi escaped with a slight wound."

More than one attack was made on Yénangyaung, the village near the oil-wells, with the object of killing the Burman headman. The raiders did not secure him, but[84] they carried off his wife and daughter and set fire to a number of boats, loaded with oil. The military police (a few raw Punjabis without a British officer) were flurried and did nothing. These attacks made them nervous, and shortly afterwards, taking a forest officer, who was going down the river with a white umbrella[22] over his head, for a leader of rebels, they fired volleys at him until he and his crew had to get out of the boat and cling to the side of it. Fortunately the men shot badly and no one was hit. The forest officer complained loudly of the indignity he had suffered, which he thought was not within the letter of his bond. It was believed that the men who had made the attack on Yénangyaung had come from the right bank of the Irrawaddy River. There was a patrol launch on this part of the river, and it had called several times at Yénangyaung before the attack. We had not enough boats to patrol a long stretch of river effectually, and it was easy for the dacoits to watch the steamer as it went up or down and time their crossing. The Commissioner, therefore, collected the boats on the right bank and put them under guards until confidence was restored. The towns on the left bank below Pagan were reported to live in dread of attack.

Meanwhile trouble broke out in the Chindwin district, on the west of the river. Two leaders of revolt had appeared in this region. One was the Bayingan, or Viceroy, of the Myingun Prince whose name has already been mentioned. He was known to have left the Mandalay district with the object of raising a disturbance in the Chindwin. The other was a person called the Shwègyobyu Prince, who at the time of the annexation had been a vaccinator in the Government service in the Thayetmyo district. He must have been a man of considerable character and ambition, for when the war began he went up to the Chindwin country and established himself at Kanlè, in the difficult hills of the Pondaung range. He assumed, with what right is not known, the style and title of "Prince," and proceeded to enrol men to resist the foreigners.


While we were congratulating ourselves on the destruction of Bo Swè and his gang, news came down that Pagyi was up. As yet we had not been able to occupy this region. It was a country of hills and ravines, densely wooded and also very unhealthy. It had been impossible to find civil officers to administer it, or men, either soldiers or police, to occupy it. The people had always more or less managed their own affairs under their own headmen, and as a temporary makeshift we had endeavoured to continue this arrangement. One, Maung Po. O, had been appointed an honorary head constable, and had hitherto maintained order in the south-west corner of Pagyi, and Maung Tha Gyi, an influential headman, held a similar position in the north-west and had done well and had acted with loyalty. The villages under Maung Tha Gyi, a group of small hamlets of twenty to thirty houses each, lay in the thick scrub jungle on the spurs of the Pondaung range.

A leader named Bo Sawbwa, who was acting in the interests of the Shwègyobyu Prince and had fortified himself in the jungles south of Pagyi, attacked and carried off Po. O. At the same time Maung Tha Gyi suddenly threw off his allegiance to the British, collected men, and fortified a position near one of his villages. He was reported to be ready to join the Shwègyobyu Prince, who ever since his gang was dispersed in 1886 had been harboured by a circle of villages in the west of Pagyi.

On receipt of this intelligence every precaution was taken. Sir George White sent Colonel Symons to take command of the military operations, and I selected Mr. Carter as the best man to accompany him as a civil officer with magisterial powers.

Captain Raikes was Deputy Commissioner of the Chindwin district at the time. He was away on leave, and Mr. W. T. Morison,[23] of the Indian Civil Service, Bombay Presidency, was acting for him and was at Alôn, the district headquarters on the left bank of the Chindwin River. Mr. W. T. Morison was a young officer of five or six years' service and had been in Burma a very short time. He was one of the young men, of whom there were not a few in Burma, who took instinctively to the work.

On the 2nd of October he crossed over to the disturbed tract and joined Lieutenant Plumer, who, with a detachment of the 2nd Hyderabad Contingent Infantry, was at Hlawga, a march west from the river.


Mr. Morison wrote at once to Maung Tha Gyi, ordering him to come in. Tha Gyi, who was at one of his villages, Chaungwa, about sixteen miles from Hlawga, sent an evasive reply and began to collect men and arms.

Mr. Morison decided to try to surprise him. On the morning of the 8th of October, Lieutenant Plumer and Mr. Morison, with twenty-one Mounted Infantry, from the military police battalion, and the Hyderabad Contingent, left Hlawga soon after midnight, and surprised Chaungwa at four o'clock in the morning, when it was still dark.

The village, when day broke, was found to be on the west bank of a deep ravine, at the bottom of which was the only cart-road. On the steep bank on which the village stood strong fortifications and entrenchments, commanding this cart-road, had been built; trees had been felled and thrown across, and the road covered with bamboo spikes. Our men were led by an excellent guide, who took them through the jungle across the ravine and up to one of the enemy's outposts.

Twenty-one men could not surround the village, but they rushed it, killing one only and capturing six. The leaders, who were found to have been the Bayingan and Maung Tha Gyi, escaped. Nine ponies tied near the house occupied by the former were taken, and in the house were found twenty royal battle standards, many arms, and much correspondence.

After a halt for rest, the main body, fifteen rifles with the prisoners and captured ponies, were sent off. Lieutenant Plumer and Mr. Morison, with a jemadar and six mounted military policemen and a Burmese interpreter, remained behind, hoping that some of the enemy would return and fall into their hands. The Burmans, however, were not so simple. After a short delay the two British officers and their men set out to follow the main body. The moment they reached the ravine a volley was fired from the perpendicular bank opposite the village. Maung Po Min, the interpreter, was shot in the leg, his pony killed, and Mr. Morison's hand was grazed by a bullet. Mr. Morison, who was well mounted, took Po Min up behind him, and they all scrambled up the western bank of the ravine, hoping to be able to see the dacoits and return their fire. A few volleys were fired at random, as the enemy could not be seen; and then, fearing further ambuscades, the small party took a jungle track, hoping it would lead round into the main road lower down. The village of Chaungwa is on the spurs of a low range of hills. The jungle is of the densest, and cut up in every direction by deep ravines, and they had no guide. The track was evidently taking them in a wrong direction. They resolved to leave it and make as nearly due east as they could.

Outer bamboo stockade of Burmese frontier village.


The rest of the story can best be told in Mr. Morison's own words, taken from a letter to the Commissioner of the Central Division, dated Camp Kyadet, the 13th of October, 1887:—

"After about fifteen minutes the dacoits, who had followed us, opened fire on us from about 50 yards in the front, they being quite concealed. After one volley they would retire, allow us to go forward 200 yards, then go round in front and give us another volley. We had at each volley to dismount and try and return their fire as best we could. But from first to last the dacoits were invisible and under complete cover, and, knowing the jungle, had time to go ahead, lie in wait for us, and take aim. This continued for over an hour. Our horses were completely done out with going down and up the precipitous ravines, and the ravines became at last quite impassable for horses. So after a consultation we determined to leave our ponies and make our way east on foot. Shortly after leaving the ponies one of the men, Amir Mahomed, was shot dead in the head from one of the usual ambuscades. That the others of our party escaped appears a miracle to me. However, after about two hours, i.e., about 10 a.m., the firing ceased, and we managed, exhausted as we were, to get clear of the jungle by 2 p.m., going 200 yards at a time and then lying down to rest. We arrived at Mintainbin at 4 p.m. and Hlawga at 6. Our loss was thus one man killed and seven police ponies, with saddles and bridles, left.... The men behaved well throughout the affair."

If the ponies had not been left there would have been little chance of the men escaping from the jungle with their lives.

Unfortunately, the mass of the Bayingan's correspondence[88] was in one of the saddle-bags abandoned with the ponies. Some of the documents saved were copies of notices to noted leaders in many districts of Upper Burma and the Shan States. The following is a translation of one of them:—

"I, the Bayingan Prince, brother of the Myingun Prince, write to the Chief Bo Nyo U and other Chiefs in Sagaing as follows. I have been to all Sawbwas, Bo Gyôks (Chief Bos), and other Bos of the north, south, and east, and have given orders and administered oaths which they have taken; they have promised to serve loyally, and we intend to drive the British from Kani and Pagyi and take Alôn, Shwèbo, Dabayen, &c., and go up to Mandalay in month of Tazaungmôn."

Careful inquiries showed that Maung Ba, the Bayingan Prince, arrived in Pagyi in the end of September and came to Maung Tha Gyi. Since his arrival he had been corresponding with the Shwègyobyu Prince and other Bos in this part, and had actually sent over to Yaw for assistance. He had friends in Alôn and elsewhere. A letter from Kin Le Gyi (a maid-of-honour to Supayalat, who had since the war taken contracts for public works in Monywa and elsewhere, and had been trusted by the British officials) was found in the Prince's house, saying that she was going up to Alôn to see how the troops were disposed and what all the officers were doing, and that she would write to him on her return. This is very characteristic of the Burman woman.

On the 12th of October Morison was back at Kyadet, in the south of Pagyi, where there was a military post, and consulted with Major Kennedy, commanding the 2nd Hyderabad Contingent Infantry, who arrived with a reinforcement of seventy rifles. They decided to telegraph for more troops. This request had been anticipated.

Unfortunately, Major Kennedy did not wait for the reinforcements. Hearing that the Bayingan and Tha Gyi had taken up a position at Chinbyit, about twenty miles from Kyadet, he left with a few Mounted Infantry. He was accompanied by Captain Beville, Assistant Commissioner, who had been posted to the district to enable Mr. Morison to return to his headquarters at Alôn. The rebels, who were in strength and in a good position, stood, and both[89] Major Kennedy and Captain Beville were killed. The rebels lost forty men, killed. The seventy rifles, under Lieutenant Plumer (2nd Hyderabad Contingent Infantry), came up in time to complete the defeat of the enemy.

It was reported at the time that the leaders had escaped. Afterwards it was found that Maung Tha Gyi and the Bayingan Prince had both been killed.[24] Nga Pyo, a notorious rebel and dacoit leader, was present, but did not expose himself, and lived until 1889, to be assassinated by a colleague. Whether the Shwègyobyu Prince was there is doubtful.

The action at Chinbyit cost us much. Lord Dufferin wrote: "It is too distressing to think that so slight an affair should have cost us the lives of two valuable officers." Their lives were not thrown away. The loss inflicted on the enemy was severe, and the death of the Bayingan prince put an end to a troublesome organization.


[22] The white umbrella is a token of royalty.

[23] Wm. Thomson Morison, C.S.I., member of Executive Council of the Governor of Bombay.

[24] Mr. Carter records in the official diary of his work in Pagyi with Colonel Symons, under date 27th of November, 1887: "At Chinbyit visited scene of late fight. The villagers pointed out the skeleton of the Bayengan. The body had been left where it had fallen, a few bushes and stones being placed over it to keep off dogs and vultures."



I left Rangoon on the 30th of November, after arranging the measures necessary for commencing the disarmament of the province at the beginning of the new year. There were two districts in Lower Burma giving trouble at that time—Tharrawaddy in the Pegu Division and Thayetmyo. Tharrawaddy has always been a sore spot.[25] In the early part of 1889 it was brought into a more orderly state; but towards the end of the year, owing in a great measure to the action of the local officers in issuing licences for firearms to the villagers, the gangs were able to obtain weapons, and crime increased to such a degree that strenuous measures had to be adopted.

I went to Thayetmyo, and there met the local officers and heard what account they had to give. They reported the remaining gangs to be small. Parties of Mounted Infantry, with active police and civil officers, were told off to work both sides of the river, and a great improvement was effected in a few months.

I marched from Thayetmyo to Minhla, about seventy miles, having all the neighbouring villagers collected to meet me at each halting-place. They were encouraged to talk freely and tell their grievances. They complained only of the impressment of carts and such-like matters inseparable from the constant movement of troops and the disturbed times. That they had suffered a good deal between the upper and the nether millstone—the Government and the dacoits—may be easily believed. But it was in great part their own fault, as they would not give our officers information.

Consultation of village headmen with Chief Commissioner.


The country through which we marched was mostly dense forest and jungle, with very few villages. It was only necessary to see it to understand the difficulty of beating out of such cover small gangs of active men, unencumbered by anything except their arms, and able to get food from any hamlet. The wonder is that with a mere handful of Mounted Infantry at their disposal, our officers were able to run the dacoits down and exterminate them in so short a time.

Sir Benjamin Simpson, K.C.I.E., Surgeon-General, with the Government of India, who had been sent over by the Government to advise me about the medical establishments of the military police and of the province generally, accompanied me on this march.

From Minhla I went to Minbu and saw the officers there. I then went on to Pagan. In order to see the country about Popa, I rode from Pagan to Popa and back by another road. This country is very wild and densely wooded. It would seem to one riding through it to be uncultivated, but this is not the case. All the bottoms of the slopes are cultivated, and there are numerous shallow streams which in the dry weather have no water in them. The villages were few and poor-looking, mere huts with palm-leaf thatch. The cattle, however, were numerous and good, carts stood in all the villages.

Not a man was to be seen anywhere, only women and children. We had lost our way and wanted a guide, and eventually were fain to ask for two women to show us the way. It is no wonder that Popa was the home of dacoits. Most of the people seemed at this time to live by stealing cattle from the neighbouring and more populous districts. Once they got the cattle into their villages, they kept them in enclosures, hidden away in the jungle, until they could drive them off to a distant market. This country was not brought under control for two years.

From Pagan I crossed to Pakokku and saw the Wunkadaw and her son, and Mr. Browning the Assistant Commissioner, and then went on to Myingyan. I had only time to inspect the station and see the officers and[92] talk to Brigadier-General Low, when a telegram came from Sir George White asking me to come up to Mandalay at once, as trouble threatened with the Wuntho Sawbwa.

This man's territory lay in a hilly country lying between the Katha district and the Chindwin River. He had been from the first year of our occupation a source of trouble; he refused to come in, and at one time objected to pay his tribute. Early in '87 the Commissioner of the Northern Division, Mr. Burgess, went to the town of Wuntho, which is on the eastern extremity of his country, and is not his real capital although he takes his title from it, to meet him. Mr. Burgess was accompanied by a military force. The matter was then arranged by the Sawbwa paying his tribute, but he refused to see our officers, and continued to give trouble by harbouring dacoits and insurgents who raided our territory.

It was the fixed policy of Lord Dufferin to preserve so far as might be these autonomous States. I have explained elsewhere how it came about that Shan States existed in this part of Burma, separated as they were by position and in their politics from the body of States on the Shan plateau. Every endeavour was made therefore to smooth matters and not to quarrel with the Wuntho man, whom we believed, and perhaps justly, to be actuated more by fear than by determined hostility.

The circumstances which led Sir George White to call me to Mandalay were these. A regiment of Gurkhas was coming across from India to relieve another which had been some time in Burma. It was convenient to bring the relieving regiment down by the Kabaw Valley to the Chindwin, where they would meet the other. A road had been selected through the Wuntho territory by which both regiments should march. They were to meet on the Chindwin and exchange transport trains, thus saving expense and trouble.

This was a natural arrangement. The route did not pass through the Sawbwa's capital. The military authorities had satisfied themselves that it was practicable for troops. I agreed to the proposal, caused the matter to be carefully explained to the Sawbwa, and directed him to collect supplies and to clear the roads.


The Sawbwa replied, objecting to our troops passing through, and proposing an alternative route to which he had no objection. He based his opposition on the ground of personal fear, and referred to our assurance that Wuntho should not be occupied. I considered that we could not allow the Sawbwa to close his territory to us, and after consulting the Major-General, I told the Sawbwa through the Deputy Commissioner of Katha that the regiments must march by the road we had chosen. Rumours had been heard for some time that the Sawbwa was blocking his roads and preparing to oppose us in force. General White wished me to come up at once as the regiment leaving Burma had reached Kawlin, which is on the verge of Wuntho territory, and it was necessary to decide on the action to be taken in case its march was opposed. I decided to let it wait at Kawlin for ten days in order to give the Sawbwa time to reply to my order, utilising the delay by making arrangements to support and strengthen the Gurkhas in case we should have to fight. Soon after this decision had been reached, Sir George White sent me a telegram from the Colonel commanding the 43rd, dated from Kawlin, to the effect that the route by which he had been ordered to march was impracticable, and that the attempt to march along it would be opposed. General White advised the acceptance of the Sawbwa's alternative route, which was reported to have been prepared and supplied with provisions.

As my order sent through the Deputy Commissioner had been couched in very peremptory terms, I felt it inadvisable to withdraw. The Sawbwa was reported to be making preparations for opposing us by force, and if we drew back now our action would be certainly attributed to fear. There was telegraphic communication with Katha, but letters to Wuntho had to go on by messenger. It occurred to me that the Deputy Commissioner's messenger might still be stopped, and I telegraphed to Katha to recall him. Fortunately the letter was stopped at Kawlin. Under these circumstances Sir George White and I agreed to send the Gurkhas by the road which the Sawbwa had prepared. Any other course would have laid us open to the charge of having picked a quarrel with the Sawbwa.

There was every reason at the time for avoiding a step[94] which would have increased our direct responsibilities. The civil staff of the province was weak, not only in numbers but in experience. I was forced to trust men with districts who had no training and did not know Burmese. The annexation of Upper Burma was more difficult in some ways than the annexation of the Punjab. In the latter case there was in the army and in the adjacent provinces a supply of officers acquainted if not with the language of the Punjab, yet with a kindred speech. The whole cadre of Lower Burma was only threescore men, and it was impossible to take many men fit for service in Upper Burma from its ranks without leaving the Lower Province very much undermanned. For these reasons I did my best as long as I was in Burma to avoid a breach with the Wuntho Sawbwa, and latterly, when he sent in his wife to Mandalay to see the Commissioner, I was in hopes that we had overcome his suspicions, but I felt certain that sooner or later we should be obliged to get rid of him. I do not regret having waited as long as possible. When he broke out in 1891 the whole of the adjacent country was under control, the military police were organized and trained, and his revolt was put down with very little trouble or disturbance. No one can say that he was treated otherwise than with the greatest forbearance. I shall not have to refer to him again.


[25] "Long notorious for the ill-repute of its inhabitants." See Burma Gazetteer, vol. i., p. 258.



The beginning of 1888 saw the civil administration in a position to wage a systematic campaign against all disturbers of the peace.

Lower Burma had been reduced almost to its normal condition. The late Mr. Todd Naylor in the Tharrawaddy district had thoroughly extirpated the gangs which had troubled it and brought it to a state of quiet which it had not enjoyed for a very long time.

The disarmament of the whole province had been systematically taken in hand; the Village Regulation had become law, the military police had been organized and now numbered 17,880 men. The whole conditions had been changed. At the beginning of the year (1887) the troops had held one hundred and forty-two posts and the police fifty posts. At the end of the year the police held one hundred and seventy-five, and the troops eighty-four. The concentration of the troops in a few principal stations, left the work of destroying the remaining gangs to the military police, who were frequently engaged in action with dacoits. There were a few petty disasters at first. Nothing else was or could have been expected of partially trained men scattered about in small posts. There were only three serious cases in 1888. In one case, in distinct contravention of my orders, a small picket of ten men had been put out on the edge of a forest in a small house or shed without even a bamboo stockade. The picket was two miles from a military police post. The Burmans set fire to a cooking shed and volleyed the police by the aid of the firelight. Seven men fell to the first two volleys and only two were unwounded. These men behaved gallantly and kept the dacoits at bay until aid came from the post.


In another case and in another district a patrol of one jemadar and eleven sepoys was ambushed. The jemadar and nine of the men were killed and one man badly wounded and left for dead. The remaining man with the aid of two Burmans reached the nearest post. A party was sent out and the wounded man picked up.

The third disaster was in the Magwè district, where thirty men under an English Inspector met a large body of dacoits and were forced to retreat losing seven killed and two wounded. Six Snider rifles and two ponies were captured by the dacoits. This was an unfortunate affair for which the men were not responsible. It gave the Magwè dacoits fresh spirit.

To the responsible head of the administration the year 1888 was one of much anxiety. The troops were vacating numerous outposts held by them and they were being replaced by police fresh from India, and most of them imperfectly trained. The dacoits had learned to fear the soldiers, and the presence of a large body of men with numerous outlying detachments under military discipline and keeping touch with each other, kept districts which had all the elements of disorder and were perhaps in fact dominated by dacoit leaders in apparent tranquillity. Sagaing was a notable instance of this. The district was covered with posts, but the soldiers hardly saw a dacoit, and consequently no progress was made in breaking up what was a strongly organized combination against our rule.

The troops, moreover, had learned their work; they were led by trained and zealous officers, who had acquired in many cases a minute knowledge of localities which was lost with them. The military police, on the other hand, were new to the country and the work, and seldom had the advantage of being led by trained British officers. The effect of the change began to be felt towards the end of 1887, and the beginning of 1888—that is to say, in the season of the year when life in the forest is dry and pleasant, the favourite time for the pastime of dacoity. Hence there was no doubt a revival of disorder in some places, and the petty disasters which befell the military police were magnified and made much of by some correspondents[97] who found it profitable to misrepresent everything connected with the administration of Burma.

The transition stage did not last long. The Indian police picked up their work with rapidity. No men could have learnt it quicker. They were constantly engaged with dacoits; they frequently followed up and inflicted punishment on them and recovered property without loss to themselves. The few mistakes were seized upon and magnified while the successes vastly greater in number were not noticed.

In the first orders regarding the military police the minimum garrison of a post was fixed at twenty-five men. This was found to be too weak and was raised to forty, and the minimum strength of a patrol was fixed at ten. I found it necessary to forbid any new post to be established without my sanction and to lay down the strength of the movable column to be maintained in each district. The local officers seemed unable to refrain from putting out posts until there was not a man left at headquarters.

In April, 1888, the Viceroy asked me if I saw any sensible signs of the reduction of our troops and the substitution of the police encouraging the dacoits or loosening our hold on the country. After explaining that the districts where the dacoits were most active and organized there had been no reduction of troops, but, on the contrary, constant military activity under keen commanders, I wrote:—

"I have carefully watched events and thought over the matter, and my conclusion is that the dacoits know that the troops have retired and that the police move in small numbers and have taken advantage of the occasion. If this is allowed to go on they will get bolder and will give trouble.... I am inclined to sit tight and wait until the men have learnt their work. The native officers will learn the language and the country.... The commissioners and district officers like to cover their districts with a perfect network of posts at short distances from each other. If they were allowed their own way there would not be a man left to move about. Last August (1887) this was foreseen, and the strength of the movable column to be kept for active operations in each district was laid down, and orders have been given and have been enforced forbidding the formation of new posts without my sanction."


Lord Dufferin accepted my views, saying that he would not go into the various considerations which I had placed before him, "except to say that I fully appreciate the calmness and good sense with which you have discussed the matter. A more excitable man might have gone off at a tangent and have been frightened into measures which would certainly have been very expensive and might not have been necessary. I have taken the Commander-in-Chief into counsel, and after going fully and very carefully into the whole matter we are content to accept your views."

There was in point of fact no reason for anxiety. Week by week the police improved. The first combined movement attempted with military police was in the difficult Popa country where four small columns under Captain Hastings, Commandant of the Myingyan battalion, succeeded in running Ya Nyun's gang hard, but did not capture him. And in various encounters in this district alone the dacoit gangs loss amounted to: killed, 105; wounded and captured, 29; captured, 486. Eighteen ponies were taken, 316 firearms, and many dahs and spears.

The casualties of the military police in Upper Burma, during 1888, were 46 killed and 76 wounded, whilst the dacoits lost 312 killed (actually counted after action), and 721 captured. The casualties in the Army in Upper Burma between the 1st of May, 1887, and the 31st of March, 1889, were: killed or died of wounds 60, and wounded 142. (Par. 26 of the Despatch of Major-General Sir George White, K.C.B., V.C., late Commanding the Upper Burma Force. Dated Simla, July 6, 1889.) The police could not have been more active than the soldiers had been. They probably suffered more in proportion to their numbers owing to their inferior training. During the year 1888 the military police were in the field constantly in almost every district in the province.

It became evident that we had not a sufficient number of British officers; if a man fell sick or was wounded, there was no one to take his place. Sixteen additional officers were sanctioned for the police, but they did not arrive until after the close of the year. They added much to the strength and efficiency of the force.


On the whole, it became evident before the middle of 1888 that the police were getting a hold of the province and that no danger had been incurred by reducing the military garrison and bringing the troops into quarters. We had still to rely on the assistance of the soldiers in work that belonged more properly to the police.

Hence in Sagaing, Magwè, the Chindwin district, and some other places where the insurgents showed special activity, I was compelled in some cases to ask for aid. If it was sought unwillingly, it was given most readily by the Major-General commanding, and was invaluable. The civil administration was not yet able to stand alone. It was not so much the rank and file but the many British officers, keen and experienced, whose withdrawal was felt; for it will be remembered each police battalion had at the most two British officers, while very few districts had an area of less than three thousand square miles.

As an example of the invaluable aid rendered by the soldiers, two of the most noted leaders on the Ava side, Shwè Yan and Bo Tok, who had been the scourge of the country since the annexation, fell to parties of British Infantry. Bo Tok was killed by Mounted Infantry of the Rifle Brigade led by Major Sir Bartle Frere, and a few months later, Lieutenant Minogue, with some Mounted Infantry of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, ran down Shwè Yan. The deaths of these two men, who kept the borders of Ava, Myingyan, and Kyauksè in a ferment, enabled the civil power to bring this country into order in a short time.

The military police, however, took their full share of work. A man who had given endless trouble to the troops since the annexation and made his lair on the east side of the Kyauksè district was the Setkya leader. He was attacked by the Kyauksè military police under Captain Gastrell, Commandant of the Mandalay battalion, and his band dispersed. The Setkya escaped, but he was caught and delivered up by the Shan Sawbwa of Lawksawk. After his defeats on former occasions he had found a safe refuge in the Shan hills. The Shan leaders were now our loyal subjects, and the Setkya's career came to an end.



In another direction there was a still greater change than the substitution of police for troops. From being an isolated administration hardly able to look up from our own affairs, and obliged to work in detail, district by district, to establish a beginning of order, Burma was rapidly becoming a frontier province, with daily extending boundaries. I was occupied in this year with framing the administration of the Shan States, which had been visited by Mr. Hildebrand and Mr. Hugh Daly,[26] with our relations to Eastern Karenni, with the Trans-Salween States and the Siamese claims on that border. The distant region to the north of Bhamo had been occupied for the first time, and it was becoming evident that we should have to reckon with the Kachins in the north and north-east; while the eastern frontier of Upper Burma resting up against the great mass of mountains which stretch down from Manipur to the Bay of Bengal, was beginning to demand attention.

There had been hitherto no leisure and no need to give much thought to the tribes of Chins and others inhabiting these hills. It had been suggested at an early period that Burma should send a party through the Chin country to meet another from the Bengal side, with the design of opening up communication from east to west and making a through road.


I was opposed to this project, and besought the Viceroy to disallow it. I looked upon it as a certain way of rousing the Chins before we were ready to deal with them. A few days before the end of 1887 Lord Dufferin telegraphed his agreement with my view. In a letter which followed, he wrote: "When the idea was originally proposed, I allowed the matter to be taken in hand with some hesitation, as I felt that it would probably prove a premature endeavour, and I saw no special reason for embarking on luxurious enterprises of the kind while the main work on which we are engaged is still incomplete. For God's sake let us get Burma proper quiet before we stir up fresh chances of trouble and collision in outlying districts."

Of the wisdom of this doctrine there was no doubt. And no one could have been more anxious to avoid new difficulties than I was. The Chins, however, forced our hands, and before the rains of 1888 it was clear that it would be impossible to ignore them. It was foreseen from the first that the occupation of Upper Burma must bring us into conflict with half-savage or altogether savage tribes who occupied the mountains on three sides of the province; and no doubt when it was decided to annex the kingdom the responsible authorities had this matter in their minds.

From the first occupation of Mogaung the isolation of that post and the difficulty of reinforcing it, especially in the rains, was a source of disquiet. I had lost no time in asking that some mountain guns should be attached to the Mogaung battalion of military police, and that a survey for an extension of the railway to the north of the province should be undertaken. The guns were readily granted. To give life to the railway project several departments in India had to be persuaded, notably Finance and Public Works. When their consent had been obtained the Government of India had to move the Secretary of State to sanction the work and to grant the money for it. The survey was started in 1890, and some progress, which may be characterized without injustice as deliberate, had been made before I surrendered Burma to my successor in December of that year. The line to Myitkyina, three hundred and thirty-one miles, was opened in 1895.

These frontier matters have been dealt with in separate chapters of this book. They are referred to here to show the change which had come over the province. The area[102] of administration was extending rapidly—more rapidly than our resources in men.

Before the end of 1888 the interior of the province ceased to give much cause for anxiety, although it cannot be described as altogether restful. Daylight had appeared in the districts of the Northern and Central Divisions, where the outlook had been darkest. And in some of the southern districts, Minbu and Myingyan (in which was now included Pagan), and in Pakokku, as well as in the whole of the Eastern Division, the disturbances had ceased or were confined to difficult forest tracks in which the remaining gangs had taken refuge.

The Magwè district, as it was now called (the township on the left bank of the river, which had before belonged to Minbu, had been transferred to the Taungdwingyi district, and the headquarters moved to the river town of Magwè), was a source of trouble and sorrow. Nothing seemed to succeed there. Sir Robert Low's warning that this would be the last stronghold of dacoity or organized resistance was justified by events.

The British public were becoming very weary of Burma and even of the abuse heaped upon the local government of the province. Tormented by the questions in Parliament, the Secretary of State would order us every now and then to report how we were getting on, like a child that has planted a flower and pulls it up occasionally to make sure that it is alive. Nevertheless those on the spot were not disheartened. The work had to be done, and all were determined to do it. Personally I had encouragement from every one in the province, civilian or soldier, for whose opinion I cared. Lord Dufferin's kindness and support were never wanting. He understood well the nature of the task. He was satisfied with the work done, and his confidence in our success was firm.

Writing to me on April 2, 1888, he expressed his satisfaction with our work and with what had been done, in terms which are too flattering to be repeated by me.

The constant recurrence of small encounters, small successes, and occasionally small disasters, was very wearisome at the time to all of us, and would be as fatiguing to the reader as to me to relate. I will give the history of some[103] cases, which will be enough to explain how the province settled down. It will be remembered that the Village Regulation became law in October, 1887. It took some time to get the district officers, magistrates as well as police, to make themselves acquainted with it, and still longer to induce some of them to make use of its provisions.

In the summer of 1888 the country generally had improved much. Few of the big Bos, or leaders of gangs, were left. But in some districts there was not merely a system of brigandage; it was a system, a long-established system, of government by brigands. The attacks on villages, the murder and torture of headmen and their families, were not so much the symptoms of rebellion against our Government as of the efforts made by the brigands to crush the growing revolt against their tyranny.

Hence it came about that in districts where there was little activity on the part of British officers, and where the chief civil officer failed to get information, very little was heard of the dacoits, simply because the people were paying their tribute to the leaders, who did not need to use coercion.

Sagaing was one of the worst districts in this respect. It had been under the domination of brigands for years before Thebaw was dethroned. It was held by a score of dacoit leaders, who had a thousand men armed with guns at their call. Each had his own division, in and on which he and his men lived, leaving the villagers alone so long as they paid their dues, and punishing default or defection with a ruthless and savage cruelty that might have made a North American Indian in his worst time weep for human nature. It was brought home to us by hard facts that the question was whether the British Government, or what may be called the Bo Government, were to be masters. The people were, everything considered, wonderfully well off. They found our officers ready to accept their excuses and to remit taxation, or, at the worst, to enforce a mild process of distraint or detention against defaulters. On the other side were the Bos, with fire and sword, and worse if their demands were refused or if aid in any form was given to the foreigners. If the people would have given us information, the dacoit system could have been[104] broken up in a very short time. As they would not, the only course open was to make them fear us more than the dacoits.

In Sagaing no measures hitherto taken had made any visible improvement. Persuasion had been tried. The display of a strong military force occupying the country in numerous posts had no effect. The soldiers seldom saw or heard of a dacoit. The experiment was made of allowing influential local Burman officials to raise a force of armed Burman police on whom they could depend. This succeeded in some cases. But on the whole it failed. The Burmans gave up their guns to the first gang that came for them, or allowed them to be stolen. We could not afford to arm the enemy. I came to the conclusion that the Deputy Commissioner would never get his district into order.

Colonel Symons, working with Mr. Carter, had done very good service in reducing the troublesome country of Pagyi in the Lower Chindwin into order (see p. 85). I asked Sir George White to let me have Colonel Symons's help again. He readily agreed. I sent him, with Mr. Carter, to put Sagaing in order, giving Mr. Carter full powers under the Village Regulation and ample magisterial powers, but reserving the ordinary administrative work to the Deputy Commissioner. At the same time, Mr. Herbert Browning, Assistant Commissioner, was posted to the Ava subdivision to work with Captain Knox, of the 4th Hyderabad Cavalry.

The Sagaing military police battalion was placed under Colonel Symons's orders, and thus unity of command was assured.

Captain Raikes was at this time acting as Commissioner of the Central Division, in the absence of Mr. Fryer, who had taken leave. Captain Raikes was a man who knew Burma well, and was keen and energetic in his work. He came to the conclusion, and Colonel Symons agreed with him, that the severest pressure must be put on the villagers.

A great obstacle in our way was, as has been said, the refusal of the villagers to assist us. But an equal obstacle was their zeal in giving assistance and information to the[105] brigands. The powers of the Village Regulation had been used elsewhere, under my instructions, to remove persons who gave assistance in any way to the dacoits, and with excellent effect. The proposals now made to me by Colonel Symons and Captain Raikes went beyond anything hitherto done. They represented that so long as the relatives and sympathisers of the brigands remained in their villages, no progress was possible. The gangs would be fed and furnished with immediate news of the movements of police or troops, while no assistance would be given to us. The people themselves told our officers that they could not help us. If they did, the dacoits' relatives informed against them and their lives were taken. Hardly a day passed without some murder of this kind.

It was proposed, therefore, to issue a proclamation to all villages believed to be in league with the dacoits, informing them that unless the men belonging to the village who were out dacoiting surrendered within a fixed time, all their relations and sympathisers would be ordered to leave the village and would be removed to some distant place out of reach of communication. At first the people thought this was a mere threat, and little notice was taken of it. When they found that it was to be enforced, and that the relations and friends were actually being deported, the effect was magical. Concurrently with this action the dacoit gangs were hunted incessantly from jungle to jungle and village to village, and severe fines were imposed on villages which harboured the outlaws or withheld information regarding their movements.

The results were better than I had dared to hope. Many dacoits surrendered in order to save their people from being removed. The villagers came forward with information, and put police and soldiers on to the tracks of the gangs. Small parties of dacoits could no longer move about without danger of being attacked and captured by the people they had preyed upon so long. Whole bodies of men came in and surrendered with their arms. At the end of 1888 few members of the Sagaing gangs were at large, and the district was reduced to order. In Ava the success was similar; and the districts of Yeu Shwèbo and the Lower Chindwin had likewise benefited from Colonel Symons's labours.


The credit of devising this system is due to Colonel Raikes. I hesitated at first to go as far as he advised. There were obvious reasons against moving people in this manner; but, if it was easy to see objections to it, it was very difficult to devise a milder measure that would be successful. It proved the most effective weapon in our battery for the restoration of peace and order. The people, of course, felt the pressure of these coercive measures. It was intended that they should feel it. One of the most notorious leaders in the Sagaing Division, Min O, after his capture, declared the fining under the Village Regulation had ruined him, because the villagers, finding themselves unable to meet both the Government demands and his, and finding that the Government could enforce payment while he no longer could, turned upon him and refused to give him asylum. The moving and grouping of villages made it difficult for the gangs to get food, and compelled them to disband or surrender.

The Gazetteer of Burma, in the article on Sagaing (vol. ii., p. 188), published in 1908, records that "the strict observance of the Village Regulation ... gradually led to the pacification of the country. By the end of 1888 no less than twenty-six dacoit leaders, including Shwè Yan, had been killed and twenty-six captured, and most of their followers had come in and were disarmed. Since that time the district has given no trouble."


[26] Lieut.-Colonel Sir Hugh Daly, K.C.I.E., C.S.I., Resident in Mysore.



The disorder in the Minbu district was similar to that in Sagaing, but I doubt if it had been of such long standing.

It differed in other respects from Sagaing. In that district the Bos formed a confederation. Each had his own village or district, from which he drew his supplies, and his exclusive rights which the others recognized. They communicated with each other and were ready to join forces when it was necessary. In Minbu the government was more autocratic, and centralized in the hands of Ôktama, who had seven or eight lieutenants under his orders. There was also another point of difference. The leaders in Sagaing and generally elsewhere, were local men, and for the most part professional robbers. Ôktama had been a Pongyi some years before, in a monastery a few miles north-west of Minbu. He professed to have a commission from some obscure prince, but laid no claim to royal blood.

He made his first appearance in Minbu in February, 1886, and induced the headmen of many villages to join him.

The people at this time were like sheep without a shepherd. They had heard of the destruction of the wolf they knew, and to whose ways they had become accustomed. Of the new-comers, the Kalas, or barbarians, they had had no experience, and they had as yet no reason to believe in their power to protect them. Naturally, therefore, they looked about for some one to help them to work together in their own defence.

Ôktama no doubt had a capacity for organization and command, and the people recognized him as a leader of men; otherwise it is difficult to conceive how in so short[108] a time he secured their allegiance. His attack on Sagu, a town on the right bank of the Irrawaddy nearly opposite Magwè, has been mentioned before. He burnt the town, which was held by a handful of troops, and then laid siege to Salin with a force said to have numbered five thousand men. The deaths of the two British officers in action against him increased his prestige, and from that time until a few weeks before his capture on the 20th of July, 1889, he was at the head of a large confederacy which had more power in Minbu than the British.

Ôktama assumed the title of Commissioner (Mingyi), and created a regular system of government. He had five lieutenants under him, to whom defined portions of the country were entrusted. His intelligence department was perfect. If the British troops showed a sign of movement, warning was sent from village to village and reached Ôktama in time for him to shift his camp. The organization was very strong. It could not have lived and grown as it did if my officers in Minbu had not been weak, and their rule "placidius quam feroci provincia dignum." They were not of the stuff that can bring a turbulent people to submission.

When I was at Minbu, in the early part of the year, I wished to march through the district and speak to the people. Both the Commissioner and the Brigadier-General, Sir Robert Low, strongly opposed my wish, as they thought it likely that my party would be fired on, the effect of which would be bad. However, I gave my instructions regarding the measures to be taken.

In the June following I rode through the valley of the Môn. The country seemed to me prosperous and well cultivated; betel-vine gardens and plantations of bananas were frequent near the villages, and I saw no sign of distress or armed disorder.

Nevertheless the people were even then under the feet of the dacoits. I changed the district officials as soon as possible.

The improvement of the district dated from the appointment as Deputy Commissioner of Mr. H. S. Hartnoll, who brought to the work the necessary energy, activity, and judgment. He was assisted by Mr. G. G. Collins and[109] Mr. W. A. Hertz, who were as zealous and active as their chief. In May, 1888, being assured that the people were getting weary of the brigands, I issued a proclamation offering a free pardon to all the rank and file on condition that they surrendered and engaged to live peaceably in their villages. The leaders, eight in number, were excepted by name. They were to be pursued until they were captured or killed.

As two years and a half had elapsed since the annexation, the fact that Burma was part of the British Empire must have penetrated to the most remote village. Warning, therefore, was given that the full rigour of the law would be enforced against all who were taken fighting against the Government, or who aided or abetted the leaders excepted from pardon. The terms of this proclamation were explained to the headmen and villagers assembled at suitable places, and the severe penalties that would follow disobedience were explained to them. A period of one month was allowed for surrenders, and the pursuit of the gangs was pressed unceasingly all through the rains and open season of 1888-9.

The sequel I will give in Mr. Hartnoll's words:—

"His [Ôktama's] power had gradually grown less and less from time to time, but the difficulty has always been to get information of him and his leaders. The villagers would give no aid or information. They began to turn at the beginning of this year (1889) when certain fines were imposed on the worst of the villages, yet they did not give us all the help they could. In April, though his power was much broken and many of his lieutenants killed and captured, yet he had a fairly strong gathering; and Maung Ya Baw, Maung Kan Thi, Ôktaya, Nga Kin, and Byaing Gyi were still to the fore.

"From May 1st the relations of dacoits were removed from their villages and a fortnightly fine imposed on all harbouring villages. On this the villagers gave him up. He and all his principal men except Maung Kin are dead or captured. He had at the end only one boy with him....

"Our success has been entirely achieved by bringing the villagers to our side by imposing a periodical general fine on them until they helped us, by removing the[110] relations and sympathizers of the dacoits, by holding certain points fairly close together throughout the district till the leader troubling the point held was caught, and by having constant parties of troops and police always on the move."

The capture of Ôktama was effected in this wise. Maung An Taw Ni, an Upper Burman, the township officer of Legaing, a little town with a population of about three thousand people, some fifteen miles north-west of Minbu, received information that the dacoit chief was near the Chaungdawya Pagoda, a short way from Legaing. Maung An Taw Ni, who had borne a very active part in all the measures taken against the dacoits, started at once with some military police. They came upon Ôktama sitting despairingly by the pagoda with only one follower. It was a tragic picture. When Burmans shall paint historical scenes for the galleries at Rangoon or Mandalay, or write on the events following the fall of their king, "Ôktama at the Golden Pagoda" will be a favourite theme for ballad or drama (pyazat).

Another example of dacoity in Upper Burma may be taken from the Myingyan district. I will give the case of Ya Nyun, which gained some notoriety at the time. It is remarkable also for the fact that Ya Nyun is probably the last great leader who is still alive. And that he owes his life to the extraordinary conduct of some very subordinate officials, who, in the loyal desire, it may be supposed, to secure his apprehension, took upon themselves to induce him by vague words to hope for his life if he surrendered. It is certain that no man in Burma ever deserved to be hung more than Ya Nyun. If the voice of the blood of the murdered cries from the ground, the cries for vengeance must still be echoing through the villages and woods round Popa.

Burmese Dacoits before trial—worst characters and native police guard.


Ya Nyun was the Myingaung (literally Captain of the Horse) of the Welaung sub-district of Myingyan, bound at call to furnish one hundred mounted men to the king's army. He had thirty headmen of villages under him. His father, who had been Myingaung before him, was a murderer and a scoundrel. He had been dismissed by King Mindon's Government and tattooed as a bad character with the Burmese words meaning: "Beware, cease to do evil," on his forearm.[27] The son, however, was at Court a hanger-on of the Yaw Mingyi, one of the big ministers. He obtained his father's post. He returned to Welaung and kept a large following of thieves and robbers, and lived on the people.

His oppression became intolerable, and two years before the war a deputation of the Thugyis (village headmen) went up to Mandalay to beg protection, but as the Taingda Mingyi, the most powerful and the worst man about the Court, took Ya Nyun's part, they could get no redress. Two years afterwards a second deputation was sent, and Ya Nyun was summoned to Mandalay. The matter was under inquiry when the British advance became known. Thereupon Ya Nyun was decorated with a gold umbrella (equivalent to a K.C.B.) and sent back to Welaung to fight against the British. So far his case resembles, to some extent, that of Bo Swè, who was, however, a gallant gentleman and an honest citizen beside Ya Nyun.

His first step was to gather around him his former followers, and he started with about fifty ruffians as the leaders and stiffening of his gang. They had to live, and his methods were the same as those of other dacoit leaders. Money and food and women were demanded from the villages, and those who refused supplies were unmercifully punished, their property seized, their villages burnt, their women dishonoured, and their cattle driven off by hundreds. Those who in any way assisted the troops were the objects of special barbarities. If they could not be caught, their fathers or brothers were taken. One of his followers deposed that he was with Ya Nyun when three men who were related to a man who had assisted the British were ordered to be crucified in front of the camp. He says: "I saw the bodies after they were crucified.[28] They were crucified alive and then shot, their hearts cut open," &c. In another case "five men were caught. Nga Kè [one of Ya Nyun's men] rode over them as they lay bound, and then shot them."


An Indian washerman, belonging, if I remember right, to the Rifle Brigade, straggled from a column on the march. This same witness, who acted as a clerk or secretary on Ya Nyun's staff, kept a diary and wrote letters and orders, goes on: "Ya Nyun ordered Aung Bet to cut a piece out of the Indian's thigh, morning and evening, and give it to him to eat. The flesh was fried. This was done three days. Six pieces were cut out, then Ya Nyun ordered him to be killed. He was killed. I saw all this with my own eyes."

The ill-treatment of women by these gangs was not unknown. Sometimes they were taken and ill-treated as a punishment to the village which had set at naught the Bo's order. Sometimes they were taken as concubines for Ya Nyun and his comrades. There is one case on record where seven young girls were selected from a village "on account of their youth," and after the dacoits had ill-used them, five were deliberately slaughtered for fear of their giving information. Two escaped. This occurred in January, 1890. The remains of the five girls were found in the jungle afterwards by our men.

The Deputy Commissioner, who examined 136 witnesses as to the doings of Ya Nyun's gang, concluded his inquiry in these words:—

"A perusal of the evidence shows that the organization, which had, perhaps, its first origin in a desire to resist the British Government, degenerated rapidly, as might have been expected from the disreputable persons who played the part of leaders, into a band of marauders who subsisted by terrorism, rapine, murder, dacoity, and other outrages. While remaining in open defiance of Government, they soon ceased to be political rebels, in any respectable sense, though they occasionally gathered in sufficient numbers to resist the troops or police, even so late as February, 1889. They showed no more mercy to their own countrymen than to foreigners. They can have no claim to the title of patriots, but merely to that of damya, dacoit, the title invariably applied to them by their own countrymen."

So wrote the Deputy Commissioner who made the inquiry in 1890. Ya Nyun has been in the Andamans[113] ever since. I have been told that he has shown there a capacity for command, and is in charge of a gang of convicts. Then by all means let him stay where he is useful and harmless.

I have given the history of Ya Nyun's rise to power and some indications of the nature of his gang. In 1887 to 1888 it was frequently encountered by troops and police, and was more than once roughly treated, but the wilderness around Popa afforded a shelter from which the small and scattered parties of dacoits could not be driven.

In March and April, 1888, a series of combined operations was organized. Four columns of military police acted under Captain Hastings, Commandant of the Myingyan battalion. Several of Ya Nyun's men[29] were killed and many captured.

In the autumn murders, accompanied in some cases with atrocious cruelties, began again. Early in 1889 Ya Nyun, collecting several other leaders, mustered a strong force, and occupied a position near his own village of Welaung. A body of military police failed to dislodge him, and although the gang was met soon after by a party of the Rifle Brigade, and dispersed with heavy loss, the power of the organization was not destroyed.

After these events an experienced officer, with powers extending to all the country in which Ya Nyun and his accomplices acted, was given control of the operations against the brigands. At his suggestion a pardon was offered to Ya Nyun if he would surrender. I consented with much reluctance, but it seemed better to free the country from misery at any price. The man would not avail himself of it. Throughout the rains he and his men were more active than usual, and their raids were marked by more wanton cruelty and bloodshed than before; a symptom, as I have said before, that the people were becoming less submissive to the dacoits, who on their part were striving to retain their hold on them.


As little substantial progress was being made, I went to the Popa subdivision in January, 1890. I called up an additional police force and saw that the utmost pressure was put, under the Village Regulation, upon the villages which harboured and assisted the dacoits. Some success against the smaller leaders followed, but at the end of April all the greater men, ten in number, for whose capture rewards had been offered, were still at large.

In the middle of April the Commissioner, Mr Symes (the late Sir E. Symes), advised that the time had come for adopting the procedure followed so successfully in Sagaing, Minbu, and elsewhere. This was done. Proclamations were issued much in the same terms as those used in other districts, offering pardon to the rank and file, and warning all concerned that villages assisting the gangs would be severely fined, and that sympathizers and relatives would be deported to a distance. The rewards offered for the capture of the leaders were doubled.

The success was extraordinary. The whole dacoit organization fell to pieces. It collapsed as a tiger shot in the head falls in his tracks. On the 30th of May, 1890, Ya Nyun surrendered. Eleven of his lieutenants or comrades had fallen in action, and forty-two men of note surrendered with him.

One very influential leader of the bands in the Myingyan district, whose name was well known in the years preceding, was not caught. Bo Cho had not shown himself since 1888, and was reported to have disappeared. He lay low until 1896, when he managed to get together some men and began his old game. But in 1896 the Government knew what to do and did it. An officer with sufficient military police was at once appointed and empowered to take action against him, the provisions of the Village Regulation were put into effect, and in a few days he was a prisoner. He was not given an opportunity for further mischief.


[27] This was the Burman substitute for finger-prints. I have often seen men who have endeavoured to cut the brand out of the flesh.

[28] The usual practice was to kill the man and then tie the body to a bamboo railing, with the arms and legs stretched out.

[29] Ya Nyun himself on this occasion had a narrow escape. His dah, or sword, was taken and presented to me by the officers and men of the Myingyan battalion. It is a handsome weapon, and was, I believe, presented to Ya Nyun by village headmen of the Yamèthin district.



I have alluded several times to the Magwè district. It was in a very bad state and was a blot on the administration, which gave me much thought. This district was called Taungdwingyi at first, and took the name of Magwè when the subdivision of that name lying along the left of the river was added to it. It was not until the end of 1888 that it began to be very troublesome. The leader of most influence at first was Min Yaung, who was killed by a party of troops in May, 1887. Another leader, Tokgyi, rose afterwards and gave much trouble, but he was captured in April, 1888. It seemed that no formidable leaders remained. Small raids and dacoities occurred here, as in most parts of the province, at that time. The revenue collections had increased largely, which was a good sign.

In August, 1888, however, a pretender with the title of the Shwèkinyo Prince raised his standard, and was joined by a noted dacoit Bo Lè and others. They hatched their plots in a place on the border of the Magwè township, and began work in November, 1888. Unfortunately, everything in this district was unfortunate, at the very commencement the gang under Bo Lè encountered a party of thirty mounted men of the Magwè battalion, under a British Inspector of Police. The police were badly handled, and lost seven killed and two wounded, while six rifles and three ponies were taken by the dacoits. This gave the gang encouragement, while the police, who had not much cohesion, were for a time somewhat shaken. [See p. 96.]

After this event the gangs separated, probably because the country could not feed them, and took up points at a distance from each other. In January, 1889, some of the[116] leaders joining hands again, surprised a party of the Myingyan police, and inflicted some loss on them, but were soon afterwards punished by Mounted Infantry from Magwè.

Throughout March and April, the pursuit was kept up with varying success. At last in May, the Mounted Infantry got on to their tracks, killed Bo Lè, and dispersed the gang.

Hitherto the brigands had confined themselves to the west and north-west of the district, open dry country with a good deal of waste land offering a good field for the action of mounted troops.

After a time the Taungdwingyi subdivision also became disturbed, and dacoities became frequent. The conditions on the eastern side of the district were different. The hills known as the Pegu Yomas run along the eastern boundary dividing Magwè from Pyinmana for about sixty or seventy miles; from the Thayetmyo boundary on the south, to some distance beyond Natmauk on the north. From Natmauk the hills gradually diminish and slope away to the plains. The slopes of the Yomas are densely wooded, and between the Magwè boundary and the low country to the east there was much teak forest worked by the Bombay Burma Company. At that time there was also a good growth of the Acacia Catechu, and many of the Burmans employed in extracting cutch lived in the forests, and cultivated small cleared plots here and there. The richest villages and best rice-producing land in the district lay along the low lands at the foot of the Yomas, within raiding distance. No dacoit could have wished for better conditions, especially when an inefficient district officer and a poorly commanded police battalion were added.

At this period of the campaign I had lost by sickness and death some of the best and most experienced men. The strength of the Commission all told was not enough for the necessities of the province in its then state. I was compelled to place districts in charge of men who were unfit owing to inexperience and want of training.

It is a fact of which we may all be proud that the average young English gentleman when thrown into conditions which demand from him courage, energy, and[117] judgment, and the power of governing, answers to the call. Whether he comes from a good school or university, or from his regiment, from the sea or the ranch, whether he has come through the competitive system or has obtained his appointment by other means, he will in the majority of cases be found capable, and sometimes conspicuously able. It is necessary, however, that he should be taught and trained in his work. The Magwè district was in itself not specially hard to manage, not nearly so difficult as many others in Upper Burma. It was in charge of a junior man of the Indian Civil Service, clever but not very wise.

As it was necessary to take special measures against the Yoma gangs, an officer, who had been ten years in the police in Lower Burma and had done excellently in the adjacent district of Thayetmyo, was appointed to work on similar lines in Taungdwingyi.

He was in this matter independent of the Deputy Commissioner, who, although senior to him in the Commission, was much his junior in years and experience. One of the chief duties assigned to him was the removal of villages from which dacoits received their supplies. He removed those lying nearest the hills which harboured the brigands. No doubt the gangs were inconvenienced and exasperated by this measure. In April, 1889, the village of Myothit was attacked and the police post burnt. In May a large body of dacoits under the standard of Buddha Yaza, a pretended prince, who in preceding years had a large following in the Eastern Division, gathered in the Pin township in the north of the district east of Yénangyaung. A party of military police led by two Indian officers attacked them successfully, but they collected again in a stronger position and a second attack by one hundred rifles (military police), led by the Assistant Commissioner and the Assistant Superintendent of Police, neither of them trained soldiers, failed; but soon afterwards the gangs were again met and dispersed.

On the 1st of June, 1889, a small body of dacoits was encountered by Mr. Dyson, Assistant Commissioner, who had with him a party of police. A fight ensued, in which Mr. Dyson was killed. The man who led this gang[118] was killed afterwards and his followers surrendered. But this was no compensation for the loss of a promising young officer who could be ill spared.[30]

There was a force of police in the district quite able to hold it, if they had been properly handled, and they were supported by Mounted Infantry. There was evidently a want of some controlling authority which was not to be found in any of the local officers. Just at this time Colonel W. Penn Symons, who had been working in Sagaing, succeeded to the command of the Myingyan district, and at my earnest invitation he went to Magwè and assumed control over the operations for reducing the district to order. All civil and police officers were placed under General Symons absolutely so far as the operations were concerned.

A proclamation was then issued offering a pardon to all who were out, excepting only those who had committed murder and certain named leaders, on condition that they submitted and returned to a peaceful life. This proclamation had some effect, and more than 150 dacoits surrendered with their arms. Most of the men who came in belonged to the Pin and Yénangyaung townships.

In July (1889) I was able to devote a fortnight to this troublesome district and to meet General Symons at Magwè. With him and some of the local officials I marched round the district, going from Magwè to Taungdwingyi, and then up the east to the north, ending at Yénangyaung on the north-west.

I found the country in a better condition than the reports of crime had led me to expect. Going north from Taungdwingyi a good deal of land was lying untilled. But elsewhere every possible field was ploughed and sown, and cattle were plentiful and in good case. This part of the district was a fine open country divided into big fields with thorn hedges. There were, however, here and there tracts of very difficult scrub jungle broken by ravines from which it would be difficult to drive dacoit gangs.


I had the principal men collected to meet me at all the halting-places and had much consultation with them. The people came readily with their petitions and spoke with perfect frankness of their grievances.

As a problem in administration the conditions differed much from those hitherto dealt with. In Sagaing, Minbu, and elsewhere, the lawlessness was universal and chronic. In Magwè the gangs were small and consisted mainly of professional criminals, not of peasants who had joined well-known leaders either to save their own lives and property or to resist the establishment of a foreign Government. Some of the leaders even were well-known outlaws from Lower Burma, and it was asserted that there were natives of India with the gangs. But only in one case was this substantiated. A native of India, a man of the sweeper caste, had been captured and he was in the Magwè jail. A note written a few days after I had left Magwè will give the impressions I brought away from my tour.

"The two main difficulties are the bad state of the Police Battalion and the nature of the country on the north and on the east of the district. These were aggravated by the injudicious action on the part of the subdivisional officer, for which I must take my share of the blame as I selected him and trusted him fully in consequence of his great success elsewhere. In his desire to force the dacoits to leave the slopes of the mountains, he moved villages too far from their fields and did not show a proper care and judgment in selecting the temporary sites for them to occupy. It was said that men joined the dacoit gangs in consequence. It may have been so in a few instances. The people spoke to me frankly and freely, and they did not allege this. Still, it may be true. I debated much with myself whether I should say, 'Go back at once to your old sites.' This would have pleased all.... All the headmen I saw admitted that the villages moved were those which added and fed the dacoits, and they admitted unreservedly that if they returned they must continue to aid and feed them. General Symons was of opinion that the removal of these villages would prove of the greatest assistance in capturing the gangs. The mischief for that season had been caused and some of the more distant lands[120] must lie empty. To let the people return now (July) was useless, while it would prolong our work.

"Their argument was, 'There are fewer dacoits now than there used to be even in the King's time. We prefer dacoits to inconvenience and hardship.'"

That was their attitude everywhere, and if peace was to be established we could not accept it. I removed the incompetent officers and sent the best officer I had at my disposal (the late Mr. Todd Naylor) to take charge of the district. At the same time a competent Commandant was posted to the military police battalion.

General Symons undertook to remain in the district for another month. Minbu had been cleared of the gangs which had harassed it so long, and I was able to transfer Mr. G. G. Collins to Magwè to help Mr. Todd Naylor.

Having put matters in train, my duties took me to Mandalay and then up the Chindwin to arrange matters connected with the coming expedition against the Chins. General Symons was appointed to command the Chin-Lushai expedition, and Magwè had to be left to the local officers. Progress was slow. The dacoits lay up in the forests of the Yomas, and until they were driven out and destroyed there would be no peace.

For the last three months of the year my health compelled me to take leave to the Nilgiri Hills. There was no hill station in Burma at that time. The climate varying between a stokehole and a fern-house was not invigorating, and labour, physical and mental, such as we were all sustaining was somewhat exhausting.

During my absence Mr. A. P. MacDonnell,[31] Home Secretary to the Government of India, was appointed to act for me. He took up the Magwè business vigorously, and under his direction several columns were organized to operate simultaneously in the unsettled tract from Yamèthin, Pyinmana, Magwè, and Thayetmyo. They commenced work in December, 1889. The party from Magwè encountered one of the gangs in the Yomas, but inflicted no punishment on them. One leader was driven out and captured or killed in the Yamèthin district. But there was no marked success. The dacoits were able to get food anywhere in the forests from the cutch boilers, and it was suspected ammunition from the Burman foresters in the Bombay Burma Company's service.


On my return, from leave in December 1889, I had the great honour of receiving His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor of Wales, accompanying him to Mandalay by rail and returning by river. This duty necessarily delayed the ordinary work of administration.

On examining the situation in Magwè, I came to the conclusion that the operations in the Yomas must be placed under the control of one man. I selected Mr. Porter, Deputy Commissioner of Pyinmana, and made the whole business over to him with definite instructions as to the powers he was to exercise and the course of action he was to follow. Tracks had already been cleared through the Yomas. The different parties engaged in the work were well combined and held together by Mr. Porter. The gangs were dispersed and either captured or forced to surrender, and by the end of May the work was complete.

Meanwhile in the north of the district Mr. Todd Naylor and Mr. Collins had succeeded in breaking up the small gang that still held out under two noted leaders, and the district was finally cleared. All the leaders had been killed, captured, or driven out of the district. Some sought refuge in Lower Burma. One Lugalégyi, a well-known Bo, was arrested in Prome before the end of the year. To quote once more from the Gazetteer (1908): "Since then Magwè has been undisturbed" (vol ii., p. 56, article "Magwè").

I will give one more instance of dacoit methods reported to me by the late Mr. Donald Smeaton, then Commissioner of the Central Division, dated August 13, 1889, from the Pagyi country. Reading it over after the lapse of more than twenty years, I am glad that I was able to help in ending the anarchy which begat such crimes. Mr. Smeaton wrote: "Early in the forenoon of the 18th July I was riding back with Lieutenant Macnabb from Kyaw to Zeittaung. We were passing the village of Jut about four miles from Zeittaung, when we were hailed by a villager and a military policeman, who informed us that the village had just been dacoited by Saga and a gang of fourteen or fifteen men.[122] We at once went into the village and were conducted by the Thugyi to the house which had been Saga's principal object of attack. We were there informed that this house had been singled out by Saga because its owner, Po Hkine, one of his late followers, had surrendered with his arms to the special officer, that Saga's object had been to kill Po Hkine. Fortunately Po Hkine and his wife were at Zeittaung when the attack was made. Not finding Po Hkine or his wife, Saga had dragged down from the house two old women, Po Hkine's mother and aunt, and tortured them by burning parts of their bodies with lighted torches. The elder of the two women was severely burnt and was lying on the ground: the other was sitting. Both were in great pain. We questioned the two women. They said the gang had come straight to their house shouting out 'Saga! Saga!' and on finding that Po Hkine was not there had gone up the bamboo steps and dragged them to the ground. They then reproached them with allowing Po Hkine to surrender and demanded all the money and jewelry in the house. The old women gave up all their money and their ornaments, but nevertheless they were tied up, a bamboo mat with a hole cut to allow the head to pass through was put over them, and two or three of the gang held lighted torches to their backs and between their legs. The villagers were too afraid to yield any assistance. The women fainted, and the dacoits left them lying on the ground. The villagers were doing their best to soothe the two women and alleviate the pain when we came to the house.

"I have known of several cases in which women have been regularly trussed and suspended over a fire by dacoits till they gave up their money and ornaments.

"I can recall one case in which dacoits pushed wood shavings up between a woman's legs and set them on fire.

"In several cases of this kind that have occurred within my own knowledge the unfortunate women have died."

But I must have surfeited the reader with robberies and murders and savage cruelties. My purpose has been to draw a true picture of the conditions with which we had to deal. There may be some who think that stern measures of repression are wrong and that under all conditions[123] kindness and forbearance should be the only weapons of a civilized Government. It is to be wished that such persons could have an opportunity of testing their theories without danger to any but themselves.

It is well, however, to record as a matter of history that, so far as was practicable, the rank and file of those who joined insurgent or brigand gangs were treated leniently. They were freely pardoned, if they had not committed murder, on condition that they surrendered with their arms and engaged to live quietly in their villages. Where it was necessary and possible, work was provided for them. When I left Burma there were thousands who had so surrendered and were living honest lives. Very few, I believe, went back to the wild life.

There were a very large number of men, especially in the early years, who were run down and captured and sentenced by the magistrates to long terms of imprisonment. It would have done infinite mischief if these men had been released after a short time and allowed to join their old companions.

I opposed the idea of a general jail delivery. When it became possible, the cases were examined under my orders by an experienced officer and the sentences were revised. It was not a task that could be done without labour, care, and knowledge. It was necessary to consider the condition of the district to which each man belonged. If that district was still disturbed, and especially if the gang of which he had been a member was still holding together, it would have been foolish weakness to send him back again. As a dog returns to his vomit, so does a dacoit to his gang, if he can find it. The magistrate is bound to think of the people who may suffer, rather than of the criminal who had preyed upon them. In Burma at least we had not outgrown this primitive morality. No one who had had my experience of the difficulty of catching these very interesting gentlemen would have cared to let them loose again.

The First Durbar in the Shan States.

About this time I was able to carry out an intention I had formed of visiting Fort Stedman and meeting all the Shan chiefs and notables.

The distance from the nearest point in the plains to[124] Fort Stedman was seventy miles, of which fifty-six were through the hills. The road was under construction, but in that state which made it worse travelling than the bullock-path it was meant to supersede.

The journey would take altogether about fourteen days, and it was not easy for me to get away from other business for so long a time. Nor was it possible always to summon the chiefs away from their headquarters.

The ride up through the hills was very beautiful, and the view from the range commanding the great lake of Inle was one of the finest I had seen in Burma.

Fort Stedman lies on the further or eastern shore of the lake, and after a long and hot ride we had to wait for a considerable time for the State boat of the Yawnghwè Sawbwa who was bringing Mr. Hildebrand across.

At the landing-place I found a guard of honour of the Shan levy under Captain Tonnochy, the Commandant, and at the village bazaar higher up all the chiefs had assembled to meet me. On the next day I held an informal reception of all the Sawbwas and other potentates.

A large hall, mostly of bamboo, had been constructed on the parade-ground, and in this, on the 19th of March, I received the chiefs. All the chiefs, with the exception of a few, were present. Many of them met me for the first time, and I learnt that to most of them also it was the first occasion of their meeting with their fellow-chiefs. They were presented to me in turn, and the Sawbwas of Möngnai and Yawnghwè, who it was considered had rendered services of some value to the British Government, received the medal and gold chain of honour given by the Viceroy for local services in Burma.

It was a notable assemblage. It was the first occasion on which all these potentates of various degrees, who had for years previously been fighting amongst themselves or rebelling against Burmese tyranny, had been brought together in peace and harmony under a strong rule. Each of them had made his formal submission to the Queen-Empress. Each had received a patent confirming him in his rights and position as head of his State. Each of them knew that the reign of peace had begun and that he was henceforth secure.


I reminded them that this was the work of the British power, and that it had been carried out without their assistance by the soldiers of the Queen-Empress and at the cost of her Government of India.

I pointed out to them that they, the Shan chiefs, had duties and obligations on their side: primarily the good government of their peoples, the impartial administration of justice, the development of their territories by roads, and the improvement of agriculture and trade. "I do not want you," I said, "to imitate or adopt the forms or methods of British government; but I think you can do much by a careful choice of your subordinates, by the judicious curtailment of the right to carry arms, by suppressing the extravagant and public gambling which, experience shows, invariably leads first to ruin and then to crime."

Lastly, I explained to them that they could not be excused from paying tribute, the amount of which would be adjusted to their ability. The British Government was maintaining garrisons for their benefit, and had undertaken costly expeditions for their defence. It was necessary to ask them to remember their obligations.

The first assessment of the Shan States to tribute was made in 1887-8, on the basis of the sums paid to the King of Burma, so far as they could be ascertained. The country had, however, suffered very greatly from the prevailing anarchy, and many of the States were depopulated and the land was lying waste. Much of the nominal demand had to be remitted. Even now (in 1911) the tribute received by the Government (which may be taken to be at most not more than one-third of the revenue collected from the people by their chiefs) hardly covers the expense of administration, including the garrison of fifteen hundred military police who maintain internal order and guard the frontiers. The vast sums expended on the Mandalay-Lashio railway in the Northern States and on the road connecting the Southern States with the Toungoo-Mandalay railway have not been repaid, except by the increased prosperity of the country.

The Shan population may be taken at about one million two hundred thousand persons. It would be a high estimate[126] of the incidence of the tribute received by the Government if it were reckoned at sixpence per head. As a source of revenue, therefore, the Shan States are not of much account. The country, however, has improved—slowly, it is true, but without interruption. The railway from Mandalay to Lashio has done much for the Northern States. That now under construction from the Toungoo-Mandalay line to the headquarters of the Southern States will have greater and more rapid effect on that fertile country. I fully anticipate rapid progress in the near future. It is something to be able to say that since my visit to Fort Stedman in March, 1890, the peace of the Shan States has not been broken, except by a few small local risings of the wilder tribes (not Shans) in the mountains on the north and on the east.

To the student of the science of politics the Shan States will prove, perhaps, the most interesting field of observation in the province under the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma. There is nothing quite of the same character in India. When we occupied the country, the condition of the Shan chiefs had more resemblance to that of the petty chiefs and Rajas in the central provinces of India before Sir Richard Temple dealt with them, than to any other Indian example. But Temple gave to the larger States the character of feudatory rulers of foreign territory outside of British India, whereas, as I have mentioned below, in the chapter on the Shan Expedition of 1887-8, the Shan States one and all were made part of British India by the proclamation annexing Burma.

There is nothing in India similar to this case; where a great territory of sixty thousand square miles, being by law an integral part of British India, is administered not through the regular officials and courts, but directly by many quasi-independent chiefs, each supreme in his own territory, but guided and controlled by British officers, whose advice they are bound by their engagements to follow.

It results from these conflicting conditions that everything has to be done by or under some legal enactment. If the ordinary laws of British India (for example, the codes of criminal law and procedure) do not apply, it is[127] because under the Shan States Act or some other enactment the local Government has suspended their operation and has substituted other rules to which the force of law has been given.

In the Feudatory States of India, on the other hand, any interference which becomes necessary is exercised not by virtue of an enactment of the legislature, but by the use of the sovereign executive power.

That this difference is vital there can be little doubt. At present it is the policy, and no doubt the wise policy, of the Government of India to avoid interfering with the native States, as much as may be, even by way of advice.

An Indian ruler can do as he likes, and it is only in gross cases of misrule which are clearly injurious to the people, and the consequences of which extend, or are likely to extend, beyond the boundaries of the State, that the sovereign Government feels compelled to intervene.

In the Shan case the local Government has the power by law of interfering and controlling the chief, and it will feel bound to use it.

It will be interesting to watch to which side the tendency will be. As the people advance in condition and education, and as the chiefs become more intelligent and trained to affairs, will the control of the executive increase or diminish? Will the tendency be, as in India, for the executive Government to withdraw into the background and leave the chief to govern, or will the chief tend to become an official of the State, exercising his powers under the restrictions and forms, and subject to the appellate and revisional powers of the regular courts? Up to the present time the control has tended to become more close.


[30] Mr. Dyson had come to us from the Public Works Department. He had been employed in the Ava subdivision of Sagaing and had shown himself keen and energetic, but he was still very inexperienced in this sort of work.

[31] Now Lord MacDonnell, P.C., G.C.S.I.



Lord Dufferin left India in December, 1888. I went to Calcutta to see him before he left, and had the honour of being introduced by him to the new Viceroy, the Marquis of Lansdowne. I had reason to be very grateful to Lord Dufferin for his confidence and encouragement and unceasing support, and if he could have stayed to see the work finished it would have given me infinite satisfaction. I had no less cause, however, to be thankful to Lord Lansdowne.

During the four years I was in Burma, I was in constant communication with the Viceroy; and every week, unless I was absent in distant places, I wrote to him confidentially, keeping him fully informed of events and of my wants and wishes. Lord Dufferin had asked me to write to him in full confidence and regularly, and Lord Lansdowne allowed me to continue the practice. It was an addition, and often not an insignificant addition, to my work. It repaid me, for it established and maintained confidential relations between the Viceroy and his subordinate in Burma. It was a great help to the Chief Commissioner, who had no one on the spot to whom he could open his mind.

I have noticed already the change in the province and the diversion of attention from the interior to the frontier districts. This change shows itself very clearly in my correspondence with the Viceroy, which reflected the matters giving me most anxiety from week to week. During the first half of 1889 the affairs of the frontiers occupied the chief place. I have given their history in separate chapters.

It might be thought, from the space I have given to[129] dacoits and their leaders, that the time had hardly yet come for reducing the military police. In truth the struggle with the dacoits was drawing to a close, and the forces of order were winning all along the line. The outbursts in Magwè and elsewhere were like the last dying efforts of a fire.

The extent to which the military police and the troops had changed places can best be understood from this, that on the 1st of January, 1887, the troops held one hundred and forty-two posts and the military police fifty-six. On the 1st of January, 1889, the police held one hundred and ninety-two posts and the troops forty-one. And the state of the province was such as to lead me to consider the possibility of reducing the military police strength.

It has been seen how the withdrawal of the troops led for a time to renewed activity on the part of the discontented and criminal classes.

With this experience before us it was resolved to move with the greatest caution, and to feel our way step by step. The following procedure was adopted. The state of each district and of its subdivisions was carefully reviewed. The posts which might be altogether withdrawn were first selected, then those of which the garrisons might be reduced in numbers. The changes thus determined were to be made gradually, so as to attract as little attention as might be. The men brought in from the posts were not to leave the district at once, but were to remain at headquarters, where their discipline, drill, and musketry could be worked up.

If it should appear from an increase in disorder that reduction had been premature, the mistake could be remedied at once by ordering the men back to their posts. If, on the contrary, no mischief followed, the surplus men were to be drafted, by companies if possible, into a provincial reserve battalion, which would be brought to a high standard of military efficiency, and would be available in case of need for any part of the province. Finally, when the reserve battalion became crowded, I proposed to offer the trained companies to the army, if the Commander-in-Chief would accept them and if the men would take military service, of which there was no doubt.


This scheme was carried out, and continued until the strength of the military police force was not greater than the Government of Burma needed.

Another change was made in order to reduce the forces, namely, the amalgamation of two or more battalions under one Commandant. It was necessary at first to give a separate battalion to each district, in order that each Deputy Commissioner should have a sufficient force of military police at his hand and under his control. But when the country became peaceful and active service was rarely called for, there was no reason for maintaining an organization that was costly in money and men. Thus by doubling up the battalions, aggregating nineteen companies, in the Eastern Division, into one battalion of fifteen companies, four companies were saved and drafted into the Reserve.

This process went on until, in the year 1892, seven fine regiments had been given to the army. These were treated at first and for some time as local regiments attached to the province. Of late years, however, the policy in the Indian Army has been to obliterate all local distinctions and to make service general.

The strength of the military police in Upper Burma now is, I understand, fifteen thousand men in round numbers. The strength in 1889 was eighteen thousand. The reduction, therefore, has not been so very great. The fact is that no sooner had the interior of the province been reduced to order, than fresh territory began to come under administration. Vast tracts of hill country on the east, on the north, and on the west, which were left to themselves in 1890, are now held by the military police. From the frontier of French Indo-China on the east to the Bengal boundary on the west, and northwards along the Chinese boundary wherever it may be, the military police keep the marches of Burma. In the mountains inhabited by Kachin tribes on the north and east of the Myitkyina district, the whole of this troublesome borderland is held by the police. Sixteen hundred and twelve rifles, with forty-one native officers and nine British officers, more than a tenth of the whole strength, are stationed in this district, which in 1887[131] was outside the pale. The Shan States and the Chin country are similarly garrisoned.[32]

I have always felt that our failure to train the Burmans to be soldiers is a blot on our escutcheon. I have mentioned an experiment to enlist Karens. This succeeded for a time. The men learnt their drill quickly, and as trackers and for forest work they were very useful. It was decided in 1891 to raise a Karen battalion, with which, and an Indian battalion, it was proposed to form a military police force for Lower Burma. The Karens were placed on the same footing as the Indians, and British officers were appointed to command them. In drill, endurance in the field, and courage, the Karen showed himself a good man. But from some cause he failed in discipline, and in 1899 it was found advisable, owing to insubordinate conduct, to disband the battalion and distribute the companies among the Indian battalions. There has been more success, I am told, with the Kachins, who are showing themselves trustworthy. They are certainly a strong race, probably the strongest we have in Burma.

Another direction in which the change from the sword to the plough and the pen was showing itself was in the prominence given to the administration of the civil police. It is very easy to get up a cry against the police in Burma or in India, but they will not be improved by constant abuse, frequent prosecutions, censures, and condemnations by High Court judges, or still less competent critics, or by other methods of giving a service a bad name.

One of the hardest tasks connected with the administration of a country by foreign rulers is the creation of a good police force. When the people from whom the force has to be recruited have lived for years under a despotic and altogether corrupt government, the task becomes doubly hard. And when the foreigners appointed to officer and train the force have for the most part no knowledge of police work and no acquaintance with the vernacular of the people, the task would have made Hercules drown himself in the nearest ditch.


It had to be done, however, and it was undertaken. The work had not gone far in 1890, but it was started, and two good and experienced police officers of high standing had been appointed to go round Upper Burma, district by district, and instruct the English officers. It was not possible at that time to find Burmans fit to take charge of the police of a district. I do not know whether such men are yet forthcoming.[33] We are well advanced in the second century of our rule in India, yet I believe there are few Indian gentlemen who are willing to take an appointment in the police and fewer still who are well fitted for it.

The question of the civil police in Lower Burma was taken up systematically in 1888. A committee was appointed by me to diagnose the ailment from which the police were suffering, and to prescribe remedies. On their report in 1889 a scheme was drawn up, the main features of which were the division of the Lower Burma force into military and civil, the former, as in Upper Burma, to be recruited from India and partly, it was then hoped, from the Karen people, the latter to be natives of the country. To the latter was to be entrusted all police work of detection and prevention. They were to be subjected to drill and discipline and accustomed to stand alone, and they were to be schooled and trained to police duties. The military police force was to be organized as one regiment under a military officer. Their headquarters were to be in Rangoon, and they were to furnish such detachments for outdistricts as might be wanted from time to time. This scheme, with little alteration, was carried out in 1891, and I believe is still in force.


[32] This is well brought out by Lieut-Colonel S. C. F. Peile in his "History of the Burma Military Police" (Rangoon, 1906), p. 12.

[33] I have learnt from Sir Herbert White that two Burman officers hold the rank of District Superintendents of Police with credit.



The country inhabited by the Burmans, properly so called, may be described roughly as the valleys of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers, south of 23 N. Latitude. The hills which bound the Irrawaddy Valley on the east, close in the great river in its northern reaches, and as far south as Mandalay. Below that point the river turns westward and leaves a widening plain between its left bank, and the spurs of the Eastern Range, which rise abruptly from the low ground. The passes through this range lead to a hilly plateau, the altitude of which is from two to four thousand feet above sea-level rising occasionally to five and six thousand feet. This plateau is intersected from north to south by the Salween River, which, rising somewhere in the mountains to the north-west of Yunnan, enters the sea at Moulmein. The channel of the Salween is in most places deep. To the east the high land continues, but is rougher and more mountainous, and rises until the watershed between the Salween and the Mekong is crossed. The descent to the Mekong is then made through difficult and rugged country much cut up by watercourses. The Shan States, which were at the time of the annexation tributary to the Burman monarch, are situated, with some insignificant exceptions, on this plateau.

The Shans are a distinct race from the Burmans. The existing Burmese people may be traced, it is said, to tribes dwelling in the Eastern Himalaya and the adjoining region of Thibet. The Tai or Siamese branch of the Indo-Chinese people, called Shan by the Burmese, are supposed to have migrated from their original seat in Central Asia towards the south, and to have settled along the rivers Mekong, Menam,[134] Irrawaddy, and Brahmaputra. They are found as a distinct race from the borders of Manipur to the heart of Yunnan, and from the Valley of Assam to Bangkok and Cambodia. Major H. R. Davies found them occupying most of the low-lying valleys in Southern Yunnan, and on the Tongking border, and in small communities even in Northern Yunnan and on the Upper Yangtze. Although so widely spread, in some cases even scattered, and, except in Siam, subjected to alien races, they have preserved to a great extent a common language and national character.[34] In religion they are Buddhist of the Burmese type, but less strict in the observance of religious duties and ceremonies and less regardful of animal life. They are in many ways a civilized people, unwarlike, and given to agriculture and commerce. They are not unfriendly to foreigners. "I must have travelled," writes Major Davies, "some fifteen hundred miles through Shan countries, and I never remember any difference of opinion, or unpleasantness of any kind."[35]

"It may be accepted as historical," says Phayre, "that the Tai race became supreme in the country of the Upper Irrawaddy early in the Christian Era and continued to be so under a consolidated monarchy for several centuries. About the ninth century A.D. it began to break up into separate States which eventually were conquered by the Burmans."[36] In the Irrawaddy Valley the Shans lost their autonomy, and were amalgamated with the Burman population; but those on the high plateau to the east continued to be governed by their own chiefs, according to their own customs, subject to the suzerainty of Burma. Some small States west of the Irrawaddy, survived the dissolution of the Shan kingdom, and they also enjoyed a similar but less marked independence.


Up to the time of the annexation at the end of 1885, the King of Burma had exercised a real, although spasmodic and irregular control over the Shan chiefs. In theory the office of chief, or Sawbwa, was hereditary in the family. The Sawbwa was supreme in his own territory. He had the power of life and death, and so far as his subjects were concerned, wielded absolute authority unfettered by any rule stronger than custom. The character of the Government varied in consequence with the personal character of the chief. The main check on oppression was the facility with which the people could emigrate into some neighbouring State. In practice, however, the Burma Government did not scruple to interfere with the Sawbwa; and this interference was the chief cause of the strife and contention which divided and ruined the country. A Burmese Bo-hmumintha, or Resident, to use the Indian term, had his seat of administration at Möngnai, and was supported by a force of brigands rather than soldiers. He was assisted by political agents subordinate to him residing in some of the more important States.

The interference thus exercised was seldom if ever in the interests of good administration. As a rule it was confined to efforts to raise a revenue. Tolls and exactions at various points on the trade routes were numerous and oppressive; enough at times to obstruct commerce, and even to close a trade route altogether for a season. The ease, however, with which another road could be found, and the duty evaded, was some check, and the Shans, who are industrious cultivators and born traders, contrived to remain fairly prosperous and not much below their Burman neighbours in wealth and comfort. As in Burma, while there were some rich men, there was no real poverty. No one but the idle and vicious needed to be in want.

The office of Sawbwa was, as has been said, hereditary in theory, and it does not seem that the Burmese Government diverted the succession from mere caprice or favouritism. Some pains were taken to secure the loyalty of the chiefs. The King not seldom invited the sons of Sawbwas to the Court of Ava at an early age, for the twofold purpose of rearing them under Court influence, and of keeping them as hostages for their fathers' good conduct. Notwithstanding this marked subordination to the King of Burma, each chief assumed the same insignia and marks of royalty as his Suzerain, and in his own view, and to his subjects, probably, was a great and independent monarch.

It has been said that the influence of the Burmese Government was seldom in the interests of good administration. On the contrary, it was frequently used to stir up strife[136] between the Sawbwas, in order to prevent them from combining against the King. Not unnaturally, therefore, he was not always regarded with feelings of loyalty or affection. Rebellions against his government were frequent, but owing to the want of cohesion amongst the Shans, and the absence of a leader of capacity to unite them and to organize resistance, even the loose-jointed Mandalay administration was able to put down revolt without difficulty. It was done with ruthless severity. There was little inclination on the part of the Sawbwas, in spite of this oppression, to seek aid or protection from the Siamese, whose rule would not have been a change for the better. The Möngnai Sawbwa and others, after failing in a rebellion against Burma, sought refuge in Kengtung, the largest and most powerful of the Trans-Salween States, which had some traditional connection with China, and owing to its distance from Burma, and the rugged nature of the intervening country, enjoyed more than a shadow of independence. Nor did those States which lie on the Mekong and formerly owned or claimed to own territory on the east bank, invite Chinese protection. Their feelings towards China were friendly enough. But their position on the very extremity of that Empire, where there was little life in the administration, rendered it unsafe to lean on help from that quarter.

A letter written to the Chief Commissioner by the Sawbwa of Hsipaw (Northern Shan States) in 1886 shows the attitude of the Shan Chiefs towards Burma and China.

"During the last war between the English and the Burmese," he writes, "the Chinese Emperor placed 300,000 men at Maingmawgyi to guard the Chinese frontier. The Chinese officials wrote to the Sawbwas inviting them to a conference at Maingmawgyi to draw up a friendly treaty, as the Burmese King had been taken away by the English.

"But I am under great obligations to the Queen-Empress, so I made answer thus: 'From time immemorial we Shans have not sought protection either from China or Burma; of late, however, the Burmans, regardless of law and justice, have exacted our submission to them by force of arms.


"'Since the conquest of Burma by the British and the removal of the Burmese King, the Sawbwas and Myozas have been trying their best to restore peace and order. And now we are asked to come to Maingmawgyi and draw up a treaty of friendship. We cannot respond to the invitation as yet. We, chiefs of the Shan country, must first of all consider which side could confer on us peace and happiness, and then enter into friendly relations with the Government of such side.'"

The problem before the Administration of Burma in 1886 was, to use the political slang of to-day, "The peaceful penetration" of the Shan country. The mantle of the Burmese monarch had fallen on the shoulders of the British Government. The Shan chiefs and their people had to be persuaded to make submission to the Queen-Empress and to accept her as their overlord. This persuasion had to be effected if possible without the use of force. A show of force, however, was necessary. During 1886 the despatch of an expedition to the Shan States was impossible. The work on hand in Upper Burma was more than enough. Thus it happened that until 1887 the only attempt to make British influence felt in the Shan States was the deputation of an officer with a small force to Hsumhsai, a small State lying between Mandalay and Hsipaw.

To make the measures taken to solve this problem intelligible, a brief account must be given of events in the Shan country immediately preceding and following the deposition of the King of Burma. The grouping of the States for administrative purposes into North and South, which was not inherited from the Burman Government and was not founded on any distinction recognized by the Shans, had its origin in these events. The States, the history of which is of most importance in this connection, are Hsenwi and Hsipaw, to the north of Mandalay; Yawnghwè and Möngnai farther south; and, on the east of the Salween, the large State of Kengtung.

Hsipaw lies in the hills on the Mandalay-Lashio road, about one hundred and thirty miles from the capital of Upper Burma. The Sawbwa, by name Hkun Saing, was the first of the Shan chiefs who came in contact with the British Government[138] and the first to submit himself to the suzerainty of the Queen-Empress after the annexation. The circumstances which led to his contact with the British are these. In 1882 Hkun Saing incurred the displeasure of King Thebaw and fled to escape his vengeance. After some wanderings, which extended, it is said, into Siam, he came to Rangoon, and with a wife and servants settled in the Kemmendine suburb. He lived, he said, in fear of assassination by agents of the King, and doubted the fidelity of some of his followers. In 1883 his fears, apparently, overcame him, and he shot down two of his men whom he accused, I believe not without reason, of plotting against his life. He was arrested, tried for murder before the Recorder of Rangoon, and condemned to death.

The sentence was commuted by the Chief Commissioner to transportation, and he was confined in the jail at Rangoon. The Chief Commissioner visited Hkun Saing a few days after the beginning of his imprisonment, and found him taking his punishment like a man, uttering no complaints and working with a will at the task[37] imposed on him. The jail authorities were then instructed to treat him as a political prisoner. After a sufficient time had elapsed to make it plain to independent chiefs that if they sought refuge in British territory they must submit themselves to British law, he was released on condition that he left our jurisdiction. He retired to Eastern Karenni, and lived under the protection of Sawlapaw, the chief of that country. On the removal of the King of Burma, he obtained some assistance in men and money from Sawlapaw, and made his way to his own territory.

Meanwhile much had been happening there and in the neighbouring States during his absence.

To the east and north-east of Hsipaw is the State of Hsenwi, which is one of the largest divisions of the Shan country. The tract known by this name contains nearly twelve thousand square miles. On the north and north-east it is bordered by Chinese Shan States. The population of the State is said to number about one hundred and fifty thousand and is of mixed races, the pure Shans being outnumbered by Kachins, Palaungs, and Chinese. For many years Hsenwi had been torn by dissension. Frequent struggles between rival claimants to the chiefship, as frequent appeals to Burma by the party who for the time was worsted, had distracted and ruined the country. At the time of the annexation of Upper Burma Naw Hpa was the titular Sawbwa, one of whose daughters had been espoused by King Mindon. He was the representative of the ancient ruling family of Hsenwi and had been expelled by a usurper named Sang Hai. The story is worth telling as an illustration of Burmese ways.


About the middle of last century the Siamese made an attack on the Trans-Salween State of Kengtung. The Cis-Salween States were called upon for contingents to form a force to repel the invasion, and Sang Hai, who was previously unknown, led the Hsenwi men to victory and won much renown. On his return, finding himself at the head of victorious troops, he rebelled against his lawful ruler Naw Hpa, and turned him out.

Naw Hpa was summoned to Mandalay, and condemned to imprisonment for having failed to maintain his authority, while a cadet of the Hsenwi house was appointed in his stead. This cadet, U Po by name, was driven away ignominiously by Sang Hai, and was recalled to Mandalay and sent to join Naw Hpa in jail. Numerous Burmese officials of high rank with imposing titles were sent up one after another, and one after another was expelled by Sang Hai, and they came back, in the order of their going, to join the company of failures in Mandalay prison.

At last, about 1877, all the Sawbwas from Yawnghwè to Möng Löng were ordered to make a combined attack on Sang Hai. This was too much for the usurper. He went east of the Salween, and Naw Hpa was sent back to rule a ruined and distracted country. But Sang Hai before he retired had thrown his mantle over the shoulders of his son-in-law, San Ton Hon, who was for a Shan a good fighting-man. The unlucky Naw Hpa was driven out once more, and again ordered to Mandalay to explain his failure to hold his own. He knew by experience what this meant, and deputed his son, who was known as the Naw Möng, to represent him at Court, or rather in prison, while he himself took refuge with the Kachins.


When Thebaw succeeded his father Mindon, he imprisoned his stepmother, the Hsenwi Queen, Naw Hpa's daughter, and killed her son. And as Naw Hpa himself was a refugee and Naw Möng was in jail San Ton Hon was left free to establish himself in Hsenwi, or rather in the Northern and Eastern Divisions of the State. The Southern, known as the Taunglet, had already broken away and separated into four petty chiefships. The middle portion, called the Alelet, was governed in a fashion by Sang Aw, commonly know as the Pa-ôk-Chok, who had his headquarters at Möngyai. A Burmese official with a small force had been left at Lashio, but unable to support himself against San Ton Hon he withdrew as soon as he heard of the fall of the Monarchy.

On the British occupation of Mandalay the son of Naw Hpa, Naw Möng, who had been imprisoned by Thebaw, was set free. He made his way into Hsenwi, collected followers, and seized the capital, which had been evacuated by the Burmans. He was quickly expelled, however, by San Ton Hon. Meanwhile his father, Naw Hpa, with a following of Kachins, came upon the scene, and another element of strife appeared in the Myinzaing Prince, who had been imprisoned by the King and along with other political prisoners was released on the occupation of Mandalay. He made his way to the Shan hills and endeavoured to collect followers and oppose the British. His cause appears to have been taken up by Naw Hpa and Naw Möng, in the hope of strengthening their own party. A confederacy was formed to raise the standard of the Myinzaing Prince. The plan of campaign was to seize possession of this part of the Shan country. Hsipaw was to be assigned to Naw Möng, while Hsenwi was to be restored to Naw Hpa. The town of Hsipaw was attacked and completely wrecked, and a movement was directed against San Ton Hon.

Such was the condition of affairs when Hkun Saing made his way back from the Karenni country. After some opposition he made himself master of Hsipaw, to find the place in ruins, the only house standing being his own haw, or palace, which had been spared in fear, it was said, of the Spirit of the Palace. Under these circumstances it was natural that Hkun Saing, the lawful Sawbwa of Hsipaw[141] and San Ton Hon, the de facto chief of Northern Hsenwi, should make common cause against the confederacy headed by Naw Hpa and his son. This was in July, 1886.

Between the Hsipaw State and Mandalay on the western border of the Shan plateau lies the small State of Hsumhsai, known to the Burmans as Thonze. It was formerly ruled by its own chief, and had been a very prosperous little district. Its position within easy reach of Mandalay exposed it to the constant and mischievous interference of the Burman Government. For forty years before the annexation it had been administered by Burmese officials, but with some regard to Shan customs and sentiment. In 1886, after the British occupation of Mandalay, it became a bone of contention between Kun Meik, acting for his brother the Sawbwa of Hsipaw, and the Myinzaing Prince, who had occupied this part of the plateau. There were two men of influence in Thonze, Maung Sa and Maung Se. Maung Sa attached himself to Kun Meik, and Maung Se to the Myinzaing Prince. They fought with varying fortune for some time. Eventually Kun Meik was forced back to Hsipaw. The Myinzaing party remained masters of Hsumhsai for some months, pillaging and destroying everything. The trade route was entirely closed throughout the year 1886, and traffic between Mandalay and the Shan States either ceased or followed a very circuitous route.

The Chief Commissioner and the military commanders had so much on their hands in 1886 that the question of the Shan country was of necessity postponed. In November, however, it was found imperative to give attention to affairs in Hsumhsai. A column under Colonel E. Stedman,[38] with Mr. H. Thirkell White[39] as civil officer, was sent to reopen the road and restore order. Mr. White recorded that at the time of his arrival (18th of November, 1886) "The country was to a great extent deserted, villages had been abandoned, and many of the inhabitants had fled to the neighbouring States of Mönglon, Hsipaw, and Lawksawk, but chiefly to Mönglon. Much of the land had been left uncultivated; the road was neglected and overgrown with long grass. These evidences of disorder we saw as we passed through Hsumhsai, and I learned from the people that the state of the rest of the country was the same as that of the part which we saw." It may be noted here that when Hkun Saing, the Sawbwa of Hsipaw, came to Mandalay in 1887 to meet Sir Charles Bernard, he laid claim to three small States—Hsumhsai, Mönglon, and Möntung—as formerly belonging to him. Inasmuch as Hkun Saing was the first Shan chief to acknowledge the supremacy of the British Government, there was a desire to make much of him and to meet his wishes. These three States were made over to him without going into the merits of the case. At the time the intricacies of Shan politics were little understood. The people of Mönglon especially were averse to being subjected to the Sawbwa, who failed to govern justly or efficiently, and the settlement of this part of the country became very difficult. The ultimate result in consolidating the States under one chief has, I believe, been good.


Another State of which it is useful to give some special account is Yawnghwè, called by the Burmese Nyaungywe. Yawnghwè is in the Central, or Myélat, Division of the Shan States, and is easily accessible from the plains. It is remarkable for its physical formation. A broad valley running from the north to the south forms the western half of the State, and the centre of this valley is the Inle Lake, a large expanse of water covering an area of seventy square miles (Upper Burma Gazetteer). The eastern side of the State is hilly, and some of the ranges rise to six thousand feet and more. Yawnghwè, it is said, in former days ruled the country from the Hsipaw border on the north to Karenni on the south. It was undoubtedly the most prominent State in the Myélat.

At the time of the occupation of Mandalay by the British, Saw Möng was Sawbwa. He had gone down to Mandalay in 1885 to see King Thebaw. It is said that he brought back with him to Yawnghwè the Legya Queen, one of King Mindon's wives, and her son, whose standard he set up, calling on all the chiefs to aid him to fight the British and retake Mandalay. A combination of small States was formed against him, and he was wounded in both legs and obliged to retire. Being thus incapacitated, he sent for his half-brother, Saw Ôn, and handed the conduct of affairs to him while he went to Mandalay to recover from his hurt. Saw Ôn defeated the hostile party, and having established his authority, took possession of the State and told Saw Möng he need not return. Meanwhile the Limbin confederacy had been formed, and Saw Ôn was called upon to join it. He refused, and shrewdly proclaimed himself an adherent of the British Government and appealed to the Chief Commissioner for aid.

Saw Maung, Sawbwa of Yawnghwè, and his Consort.


In order to explain the appearance of the Limbin confederacy, we must now go eastward of the Salween to the State of Kengtung. This chieftainship is one of the largest of the States, and comprises about twelve thousand square miles. It lies between the Salween and the Mekong, touching both rivers. Owing to its distance from Mandalay and the very rugged and mountainous nature of the country between the two rivers, Kengtung of late years had been left to itself by the Burman Government. Soon after Thebaw's accession to the Kingdom of Ava, many of the Shan States revolted against him, and Kengtung took a conspicuous part in the rebellion. The Sawbwa seized the Burmese Resident and his escort and put them to death. He attacked the adjacent and smaller State of Kengcheng and turned out the chief, installing in his room a man of his own. It so happened that the Chinese had occasion about this time to strengthen their forces in Southern Yunnan, probably as a precaution against French aggression. Hearing of the action taken by Kengtung against Kengcheng, a large part of which lay east of the Mekong, the Chinese general sent a force to Kengtung. It was agreed to submit the dispute between the claimants to the Sawbwaship of Kengcheng to the Chinese commander. He installed one of the claimants, and provided against a revival of the quarrel by decapitating the other. After these events the authority of the Burman Government ceased to exist in Kengtung.

In 1882 the Sawbwa of Möngnai and the chiefs of several neighbouring States revolted against Thebaw and found a safe refuge in Kengtung. Möngnai is one of the most important of the States. It contains nearly three thousand square miles. The River Salween is the boundary on[144] the east, and divides it from Kengtung. It has been already mentioned that a Burman Bo-hmu, or Resident, with an armed force, was stationed in Möngnai, which derived dignity from being the centre of Burmese power in the Shan States, and suffered proportionately. The exactions of the King's Government at last became intolerable. The Sawbwa, Kun Kyi, was summoned, with other defaulters, to Mandalay, and imprisoned there until the sums demanded were paid.

About 1882 Kun Kyi was again summoned to appear. He preferred to revolt. While the Burmese subordinate official (the Resident had just died) was preparing to seize him, he raised his people, led them against the King's garrison, and destroyed it. On the news reaching Mandalay, a large force was dispatched to avenge this outrage, and the Sawbwa, with several other chiefs in like straits, took refuge in Kengtung. One, Twet Nga Lu, with the assistance of the Burmese officials, took possession of Möngnai.

Twet Nga Lu was an unfrocked monk, a native of Kengtawng, a sub-State of Möngnai, who signalized his return to a worldly life by making himself unpleasant to his neighbours. He had made an attack on Möngnai, but was driven off. A younger brother of the Möngnai Sawbwa had married a lady named Nang U, by whom he had a son. Whether this nobleman died, or was dismissed by Nang U, is uncertain. However that may be, she espoused Twet Nga Lu, and thereupon her minor son was appointed by the King to be magistrate of Kengtawng with the unfrocked monk as guardian. This arrangement had taken place before the retirement of the Sawbwa, Kun Kyi, to Kengtung, and was very distasteful to him.

It came about thus, that the Sawbwa of Möngnai, the premier chief in the Shan country with Lawksawk and several others, all suffering from the King's tyranny, found themselves in Kengtung.

Naturally they took counsel together regarding the measures to be adopted for recovering their territories, and protecting the Shans generally against the oppressive rule of Burma. It was resolved to form a confederacy under one leader. Their decision and the reasons for it are stated in a letter addressed by them to Hkun Saing, the Sawbwa of[145] Hsipaw, on the 26th of March, 1886. Referring to a communication which they had received from Hkun Saing, in which he advised that "it would be beneficial to the Shans to have their country welded into a congeries of independent States like Germany," they state their own views in the form of resolutions, declaring that there is no hope of establishing peace or putting an end to the endless strife between the States, unless they are united under one suzerain. They consider that the interests of their religion and of the country generally demand the selection of a supreme ruler, who will combine the Sawbwas and enable them to withstand any attempt to injure them or their religion.

Acting on these principles they decided in 1885, before the British Government had moved against King Thebaw, to invite the Limbin Prince, one of the Royal Family who was living in British Burma as a refugee on a small pension allotted to him by the British Government, to come up to Kengtung and to accept the position of Suzerain of the Shan States, with the object of "wresting the crown from King Thebaw." The Prince accepted the call, and arrived at Kengtung on December 10, 1885. On his arrival, forces were raised from Kengtung and the other confederating States, and advance parties were sent forward under the command of the Sawbwas of Möngnawng, Möngnai, and Lawksawk.

The States joining in this enterprise under the nominal leadership of the Limbin Prince—a poor creature quite unable to lead any one—became known as the Limbin Confederacy. A counter league was formed by all those interested in keeping the exiled Sawbwas out of their territories and maintaining the existing state of things. On the other hand, the Sawbwas of Möngpawn and several other influential Sawbwas espoused the cause of the Confederacy. Twet Nga Lu was the leading spirit of the counter league, and he directed its forces against the States which were allied to Möngnai. He was met and defeated by Möngpawn, and early in the year 1886 Kun Kyi, the Sawbwa of Möngnai, and his companions in exile had expelled the usurpers and recovered their territories. The Confederacy then set themselves to induce or compel other States to join[146] them and to acknowledge the suzerainty of the Limbin Prince. Saw Ôn, the de facto ruler of Yawnghwè, rejected their invitation. The Confederacy determined to move from Möngnai against him, as it was important to force Yawnghwè, the State adjoining Möngnai on the west, and the most powerful in the Central, or Myélat, Division, to give its adherence to the Prince.

The foregoing outline will perhaps suffice to make the situation at and immediately following the annexation intelligible.

The danger-points appeared to the Chief Commissioner to be the critical situations of the two Sawbwas, who had signified their adherence to the British Government, namely, Hsipaw in the north and Yawnghwè in the central portion of the States. Hsipaw and his ally, San Ton Hon, were pressed by the coalition under Naw Hpa, Naw Möng, and Prince Saw Yan Naing—another scion of Royalty who with his brother had raised their standard at Chaunggwa, in the Ava district, and after being driven out of that had eventually joined Naw Möng in Hsenwi. Yawnghwè was threatened by the powerful Limbin Confederacy, and had no prospect of help from any neighbouring State. Both these Sawbwas had declared themselves to be friends of the British Government, and at the time they were our only adherents.

The deputation of Mr. Herbert White to Hsumhsai in 1886 has already been mentioned. He succeeded in opening the trade route between Hsipaw and Mandalay and in strengthening the position of the Sawbwa Hkun Saing. Accordingly, when Sir Charles Bernard came to Mandalay at the end of 1886, Hkun Saing was able to hasten down to meet him, and to make in person his submission to the British Government. He was received with much ceremony by the Chief Commissioner. His loyalty to the Queen-Empress and belief in her power were not open to doubt. On his return journey from Mandalay in February, 1887, Mr. J. E. Bridges, the Deputy Commissioner, with a small military escort and some officers of the Survey and Intelligence Departments, accompanied the Sawbwa to Hsipaw. Mr. Bridges remained there twenty-five days, gathering information regarding Shan politics and the[147] country generally, and opening communications with other States. He came to the conclusion that the Shan chiefs were little disposed to welcome the advent of British power. Hkun Saing, the Sawbwa of Hsipaw, stood out alone as our friend. The party under the flag of the Chaunggwa Prince, which was striving to eject San Ton Hon from Hsenwi, was equally hostile to Hsipaw. Much of the country had been ravaged by the Myinzaing Prince and his adherents. His view was needlessly despondent.

Before the end of 1886 it had been decided to begin by sending an expedition to relieve Yawnghwè from the threatened attack by the Limbin Confederacy. To provide men for another movement to help Hsipaw was thought to be impossible. In accordance with a promise made to Hkun Saing by the Chief Commissioner at their meeting in Mandalay, a supply of arms and ammunition was sent to him, which, it was hoped, would enable him and San Ton Hon to defeat their enemies. It may be stated here that although some anxiety was felt from time to time regarding events in Hsenwi and Hsipaw, it did not become necessary to move troops to their assistance. Naw Hpa and his son Naw Möng made submission to the Superintendent at Fort Stedman early in August, 1887, and further action in the Northern States was deferred until the open season of 1887-8.

But to return to the end of 1886. Although it had been impossible to take more active steps to bring the Shan States into line, the administration had not been idle. The policy to be adopted towards them generally was thought out and the main lines were laid down by Sir Charles Bernard. Letters explaining the principles which would guide the British Government in its relations to them were written to the various chiefs. They were assured that there was no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of the States. British supremacy must be acknowledged, peace must be preserved, the people must not be oppressed. Subject to these conditions and to the payment of a moderate tribute, the British Government undertook to recognize the Sawbwas who were in effective possession, to uphold their rights, and to give freedom and open the way for commerce. Preparations were made accordingly[148] to send an expedition to the Shan plateau. Its immediate duty was to relieve Yawnghwè. The ultimate purpose was to establish a political officer with a sufficient military force in a strong position on the Shan plateau from which he could, as the representative of British power, control the States. There was no intention of fighting the Shans. On the contrary, it was desired to win their friendship and to induce them to trust us. Already the duties, imposts and monopolies which strangled trade in the King's time had been swept away. It remained to establish peace and to open the trade routes which the prevailing anarchy had closed.

Hlaingdet was chosen as the starting-point of the expedition which was to carry out this policy. A force assembled there in December, 1886, under Colonel E. Stedman of the 3rd Gurkha Regiment, consisting of—

2 guns 1-1 E.D.R.A.
Four Companies 2nd Battalion Hampshire Regiment.
Four Companies 3rd Gurkha Regiment.
50 men of the Bombay Sappers and Miners.
40 Mounted Infantry (who joined at Pwehla after the force had started).

The objects of the expedition, as has been stated, were peaceful and political. The military commander was responsible for the disposition of the troops, and in the event of active operations becoming necessary was to have entire control. The negotiations with the Shans and the conduct of affairs generally, apart from purely military matters, were entrusted to the civil head of the expedition, Mr. A. H. Hildebrand (at that time Deputy Commissioner of Tharrawaddy). Ten years previously Mr. Hildebrand had served on a mission to the Karenni country and had arranged for the protection of that people from the encroachments of the King of Burma. Subsequently as District Officer of the Salween Hill Tracts and later in the Arakan Hills he had shown his capacity for ruling and influencing half-civilized peoples. Mr. J. G. Scott, now well known as Sir George Scott, was appointed to assist him. Mr. Scott at a former period had been attached to the S. P. G. College in Rangoon, and under the nom de plume of Shway Yoe had made a reputation as a writer on Burma and its[149] people. On the annexation of Upper Burma he had been appointed to the Commission.

The leaders of the expedition, both civil and military, were well chosen. Their instructions were to take every precaution against giving avoidable offence or trouble to the people, to gain the goodwill of chiefs, priests, and villagers, to interfere as little as might be with their prejudices, their religious houses, and their private life.

The move from Hlaingdet was to have been made at once on the assembling of the force. But the state of the roads and doubt as to the best route caused delay both at the outset and afterwards. The hill passes leading to the Shan country had become very difficult owing to disuse during the troublous times of 1885-6. In some places also they had been purposely blocked by the Burman villagers to protect themselves against Shan cattle-raiders, and by Shans who wished to obstruct the expedition. It was very hard to get labourers to clear and repair the roads and make them passable by the main body of the force and the transport animals.

On the 3rd of January it was decided to advance, and Colonel Stedman, with two hundred Gurkhas, proceeded to occupy Pyinyaung, twenty-two miles from Hlaingdet. There were doubts as to the best route. As the reports received from Yawnghwè represented the Sawbwa to be hard pressed by the Limbin Confederates, Colonel Stedman resolved to follow the most direct road, disregarding its difficulty, and pushed on to Kyatsakan and across the Pyindeik Pass. Singu was occupied on the 20th. Some show of resistance was made at several places. But it was very faint-hearted, the enemy being only some Shans in the service of the Lawksawk Sawbwa, poorly armed and undisciplined. Mr. Hildebrand had not yet arrived. His subordinate, Mr. Scott, who performed his duties temporarily, distributed copies of a proclamation issued by the Chief Commissioner explaining the motives and objects of the expedition to the chiefs of the Myélat States, and wrote letters in his own name to the most prominent men. He made good use of the time also to explore roads and collect labour for improving them.

On the 21st of January Mr. Hildebrand with the remainder[150] of the force joined Colonel Stedman at Singu. On the 27th of January the main body advanced to Kaukon, where another feeble attempt at resistance was made by some of Lawksawk's forces. On the following day numerous elders from the neighbouring villages came in and welcomed the British. The constant fighting between the Limbin's men and their opponents led by the Yawnghwè Sawbwa, had made life a burden to the people. The country was being depopulated. No one dared to sow, not knowing who would reap.

On the 29th of January Pwehla was reached. The chief villagers and the Pongyis met the column outside the town, and a favourable and peaceable progress was anticipated. Hitherto there had been some apprehension lest the Sawbwa of Yawnghwè, who had represented himself as being hard pressed by the Limbin Confederacy, should be overpowered before help could reach him. It was now ascertained that this fear was unfounded. As there was no cause for haste, Mr. Hildebrand decided to take the opportunity of summoning the chiefs of the Myélat States to appear and to make their submission. There was an advantage, moreover, in giving the Lawksawk Sawbwa time to consider his position and to submit peacefully; and with this object every endeavour was made by letter and messenger to explain the situation to him.

On the 7th of February the force reached Bawyethat Pagoda, about half-way between Yawnghwè and Kugyo. Here it was met by the Sawbwa Saw Ôn, who came with the full glory of Shan pomp to welcome the British representative. It was found that a body of men from Lawksawk had occupied Kugyo, which is in Yawnghwè territory. Mr. Hildebrand wished to send a letter to the commander to persuade him to retire his men, but no one could be found willing to carry it, for fear of the wild Kachins and Panthays said to be amongst his followers. There was nothing for it, therefore, but to attack Kugyo, which was taken on the 9th of February, without loss on our side. On the 10th the column made a formal entry into Yawnghwè and was received with much state by the Sawbwa. It had been intended to fix the headquarters of the British Administration a little way off, but the[151] country was found to be low-lying and unhealthy. A site was chosen on the slope which leads up from the great lake of Yawnghwè to the Hsahtung range. A fort was built, and named after Colonel Stedman, the officer commanding the force. Here the headquarters of the Superintendent of the Southern Shan States were established.

The arrival of the expedition at Yawnghwè was followed by an immediate change in the attitude of the neighbouring chiefs. By the middle of February Yawnghwè had been relieved and the bands attacking him dispersed. The whole of the Myélat had submitted, most of the chiefs appearing in person. To the south, Möngpai and others of importance had accepted the British suzerainty, some by letter and some in person. To the north, Lawksawk and Möngping held aloof, but it was hoped to induce them to come in. Laikha, Möngkung, and Kehsi Mansam had declared themselves on the British side. Letters were despatched to Möngnai and all the adjacent States, urging them to accept the supremacy of the British and to cease fighting amongst themselves. Letters were also sent to the chiefs of Karenni, offering friendship and suggesting a meeting.

After the dispersal of the bands at Kugyo, the Limbin Confederacy had withdrawn their troops and the Confederate chiefs had retired to their own territories. The Limbin had betaken himself to a place near Hopong. Nevertheless there was no sign of the Eastern States giving in and dissolving the Confederacy. Letters were again written to them. A special letter was addressed to the Limbin, promising him his liberty if he surrendered, with a sufficient pension and a house at Moulmein or Rangoon.

While the results of these overtures were being awaited, it became urgent to attend to the quarrel between Möngpai, the most southerly of the Shan States, and Pobye, the chief of Western Karenni, which adjoins Möngpai on the south. A perennial feud existed between them, and at this time had broken out with fresh energy. Both the combatants had written to Mr. Hildebrand praying him to send a British officer with a force to put a stop to the strife which was ruining the country. In answer to this appeal Mr. Scott, with a hundred Gurkhas under command of[152] Captain Pulley, was sent southward to Payagon, where the Burmese garrison used to be stationed, and near which the Möngpai Sawbwa had now made his residence. They made the journey of seventy miles by boat down the Nam Pilu River through a fertile and irrigated country, which had evidently suffered much from both the contending factions.

The Sawbwa received Mr. Scott with hospitality and welcomed the settlement of the Shan States under the British Crown. He said he had prayed for this and urged it on his compatriots for thirty years. "Now that the British have come," he exclaimed, "there will be peace." He asked for a British garrison at Payagon, as a protection against the Karennis, who raided the Shan country for slaves. The Shans were quite unable to withstand them, and men and women were carried off into hopeless slavery (vide Chapter XVII.).

It had been intended that the force under Colonel Stedman should return to Burma by the southern passes to Toungoo, and that Mr. Scott with the troops accompanying him should remain at or about Möngpai until the main body joined him. Owing to some military exigencies this plan was changed, and the expedition was ordered to return by the route by which it came. Captain Pulley with Mr. Scott's escort was recalled at once to Fort Stedman. Mr. Scott had to withdraw, leaving unsettled many matters, more especially the quarrel between Möngpai and the Karenni chief Pobye, and without waiting for several headmen of neighbouring districts who were on their way to meet him. This was unfortunate.

After the return of Mr. Scott and his escort to Fort Stedman on the 7th of March, 1887, a long halt followed, during which voluminous correspondence was carried on with the various chiefs who held aloof and with the Limbin Prince, who it was hoped might be induced to surrender and thus dissolve the Confederacy. The Prince was reported to be at Hopong. Letters were sent to him and to Möngnai, and to Möngpawn, inviting them to meet Mr. Hildebrand at Hopong on the 17th of March, and preparations were made for the march. The difficulties of transport had been overcome, the pack-bullock baskets loaded up; the coolies collected, and everything ready for a start,[153] when letters were received from Möngpawn saying that he could not meet the Superintendent. Möngnai was at Gantarawadi, the capital of Eastern Karenni, witnessing the marriage of his nephew to a daughter of Sawlapaw, the Karenni chief. Möngnai's sister-in-law had died. She could not be buried until Möngnai returned. Until the funeral was over Möngnai could not attend to business, and without him the others could do nothing. Royalties are governed by conventions.

It was obvious that Möngpawn's object was to gain time. To countermand the march, now that all preparations had been made and the forward movement widely made known was open to many objections. The Yawnghwè Sawbwa argued strongly against a change of plans, which he said would certainly be misinterpreted. Mr. Hildebrand, however, decided to countermand the march. He wished to give the Confederacy full time to consider the alternatives before them. He held that a voluntary acknowledgment of British supremacy made from a conviction that it was the best course for their own interests would be more valuable even if it were delayed than an immediate submission enforced by arms.

This waiting policy was not free from some disadvantages. The delay in taking action was sure to be attributed to weakness. The time was used by Sawlapawgyi, who was hostile to the British, to urge the other Karenni chiefs and those Shan Sawbwas with whom he could communicate to hold aloof. In the neighbourhood of Yawnghwè and in the Myélat States generally signs of unrest and trouble were manifest. For the first time since the occupation of Fort Stedman mail-runners were stopped and robbed. The Sawbwa of Lawksawk, who remained openly and uncompromisingly hostile, was thought to have instigated these outrages. It was resolved to strike the first blow at him. He was warned by letter that the Superintendent was coming to Lawksawk and ordered to remain at his capital to meet him.

The difficulty of collecting transport had to be overcome again. The Yawnghwè Sawbwa for some cause was not zealous in assisting the expedition. For one reason he desired to make the most money he could out of the opportunity,[154] and made a very persistent effort to extort exorbitant rates for the carriage furnished.

It was not until the 4th of April that the force began to march for Lawksawk. It moved by very easy stages. The various bands of marauders posted along the route to harass the march fled as the expedition advanced. These ruffians had been working in concert with dacoit gangs in the districts below the hills, who had thus been able to resist the British troops; but now, finding themselves liable to be taken in the rear, very soon surrendered to the military post at Wundwin, an unexpected but very useful result of Mr. Hildebrand's action. Before the column reached Lawksawk the Sawbwa Saw Waing fled. The town was occupied on the 11th of April. Temporary arrangements were made for administering the State by putting in charge a Burman, Bo Saing, who had held office under the King's Government and was acceptable to the people, and the force turned its face towards Hopong.

Meanwhile fighting had been renewed in the south-east. Möngnai returned from Karenni with some men lent to him by Sawlapaw and drove Twet Nga Lu out of Kengtawng. Laikha, Möngkung, and Kehsi Mansam, who had been invited by Mr. Hildebrand to come to Hoypong to meet Möngnai and Möngpawn with a view to their reconciliations, put their own interpretation on this invitation and attacked Möngpawn in force. Peremptory orders were sent to them to withdraw. When the force entered Hopong on the 17th of April, the day appointed for meeting Möngpawn and the Limbin Prince, the town was found in ruins and all but deserted. The Limbin had not come, and Möngpawn was occupied in defending himself against his enemies. The intelligence received showed that Laikha and his allies had not obeyed the order to withdraw their men. Finding that an engagement was in progress a few miles off, Mr. Hildebrand and Mr. Scott with forty Mounted Infantry and fifty Punjabis under Major Swetenham rode for the scene of the fight, which went on for a short time unchecked by the arrival of the British party. The opposing forces had stockaded positions on the opposite slopes of a small valley, and were firing briskly on each other. Möngpawn was induced to cease firing. The Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Scott, went up to the stockade of the attacking party, and the leaders were soon persuaded to withdraw their men, who for their part were only too glad to go to their homes. When the British retired to Möngpawn in the evening, they left the opposing leaders mingled together in good-humoured talk, bragging of the desperate deeds of valour performed in the combat.

Padaung Ladies—Shan States.


A few days were spent at Möngpawn. The Sawbwa Hkun Ti is described as a man of strong character, "the moving spirit in the Limbin Confederacy." He was quite ready, however, to give up this coalition and to transfer his allegiance to the Queen-Empress. He advised the despatch of a party to Möngnai to hoist the British flag and to bring in the Limbin Prince. The rains were now well on, and marching had become very difficult. It was decided, therefore, not to take the whole force but to send the Assistant Superintendent with fifty rifles under Lieutenant Wallace to Möngnai. The Superintendent with the main body marched back to Fort Stedman.

Mr. Scott was detained for some days in Möngpawn waiting for rations. The time was well employed. Two of the minor chiefs, Naungmawn (a brother of Möngpawn) and Möngsit (Möngpawn's son-in-law, and half-brother of Mawknai), came and tendered their allegiance. Others offered their submission by messenger and promised to meet the Assistant Superintendent at Möngnai, which they said was the place of assemblage for the Shan States from ancient times. More than this, very friendly relations were established during this halt between the people and the troops. The Myozas (headmen) from the neighbouring villages came round every evening for rifle-practice with the officers; and it is recorded that Möngpawn and his brother made very good shooting. The troops were paraded and manœuvred for their entertainment. Notwithstanding these courtesies, however, no promise to surrender the Limbin Prince could be obtained from these chiefs. "It must depend," they said, "on his own decision." They suggested that better terms should be offered to him. "This was an instance," says Mr. Hildebrand, "of the way in which the Shan chiefs cling together, and of the sanctity they attach to an oath." Although the Limbin's cause[156] and the ideas on which it was based were hopelessly lost, they would not coerce him to surrender.

On the 2nd of May Mr. Scott's party began their march, and entered Möngnai on the 5th, having suffered from heavy and incessant rain all the way. After crossing the Mewettaung Range, they entered a level valley which extends to Kengtawng on the south-east and up northward as far as Laikha. The altitude of this valley is about 4,000 feet. It is the centre of the silk cultivation, the eggs and larvæ being imported periodically from the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Szechuen. When the party passed through the whole district had been ravaged by men from Laikha, and only a few almost empty villages survived. Twet Nga Lu from Kengtawng had also been at work, and on the last march of seventeen miles into Möngnai most of the villages were found in ruins. They had been burnt by his marauders two months before.

The description of Möngnai at this time is worth quoting (Mr. Hildebrand's Report, June 22, 1887, par. 97).

"From the north there is a long avenue-like approach to Möngnai. The walls of the ancient city still exist in a very dilapidated state. They are about 20 feet high and machicolated. The city was about 1,000 yards square, and there remain signs of extensive suburbs. Everything, however, has been destroyed. Of ten thousand houses only three hundred (mostly recently built) remain; out of one hundred and twenty monasteries only three are left standing. The Sawbwa himself lives in a bamboo house, instead of the former teak-wood haw (palace). The interior of the city walls is all jungle-grown."

It is as well to put on record some description of the condition in which the British found the Shan States. A few years hence we shall be denounced as the ruthless destroyers of a country which we had found wealthy and prosperous.

The Sawbwa of Möngnai came in unpretentious fashion to see Mr. Scott the day after his arrival. His superiority in breeding and character to most of the chiefs was marked, He made no difficulty about accepting British supremacy, and proffered all his influence to induce the other chiefs to follow his example. The typical character of the Shans as a race of traders came out in his request that his submission[157] to British authority should be made known in Moulmein. In former times there was a good trade in timber with the Moulmein merchants. When they were informed of the establishment of peace this trade he anticipated would revive.

It remained to induce the Limbin Prince to submit and to accompany Mr. Scott to Fort Stedman. This was not a question of very high diplomacy, but it required some skill, tact, and patience to induce the Prince to make a voluntary surrender. It would have been very easy to have arrested and removed him by force. Such action, however, would have been distasteful to the Shan chiefs and might have rendered it more difficult to dispose of other pretenders still remaining in the Northern States. The Prince showed himself to be a poor creature, whose chief characteristic was an immeasurable conceit. He was, after all, only the illegitimate son of the Ein-she-min, or War Prince, who was the brother of King Mindon. But Burmans and Shans, like some other people, if a man is a prince, do not ask too curiously what sort of a prince he may be. When he left Möngnai, mounted on an elephant, with his gong beating, great numbers of people knelt down by the roadside as he passed, and similar respect was shown to him at other places. Notwithstanding his conceit, he did not put a very high price on his submission. This descendant of kings, who had left his refuge in British Burma to become the head of a great Shan Confederacy to be formed on the model of the German Empire, was glad to barter his lofty ambition for a stipend of £16 sterling a month and a house at Rangoon, or Moulmein, or elsewhere.

While the Prince was making arrangements for the journey, the Assistant Superintendent with Lieutenant Wallace, 27th Punjab Infantry, and Lieutenant Jackson, R.E., rode to Mawkmai, some twenty-five miles over rolling country covered with scrub-oak forest. They found Mawkmai situated in a fine valley 120 miles in extent, irrigated from the Nam Nyim River, and well cultivated; the main crop being paddy. The town was in good order, well built and prosperous. "The one town," records Mr. Scott, "in the Shan States that has not been destroyed in[158] the inter-State wars." The trade relations between Mawkmai and Moulmein are close; the Salween in the rainy season being navigable and affording good means of communication.

The British officers were received with courtesy and hospitality by the Sawbwa and his officials. The suzerainty of the Queen-Empress was accepted as a matter of course. The only anxiety of the chief was in respect of the duty likely to be imposed on exported timber, which had been severely taxed by King Thebaw.

On the 11th of May the party returned to Möngnai. The attitude of the Sawbwa Kun Kyi was excellent. He assured Mr. Scott that he would be able to promise the submission of the Trans-Salween States, who all looked to him as their leader, and to Möngnai as their place of assemblage. He asked as a special favour to himself, and as a confirmation of his authority, that he might be allowed to fly the British flag over his residence. This request was granted. In the evening the British officers with a small guard of honour went to the Sawbwa's haw, or palace, where a flagstaff had been prepared, and the Union Jack was run up by Mr. Scott, the bugles sounding a general salute and the troops presenting arms. A great number of people from Möngnai and the neighbouring villages were present. They saluted the flag in their customary attitude of respect, on their knees, and when the troops marched off the Sawbwa's band struck up. What march it played has not been recorded.

The Limbin Prince had now made his arrangements for the journey, and on the 13th the party started for Fort Stedman, which was reached on the 20th of May. The route lay over a road which had not been used for a year and which the contending parties had endeavoured to make impassable. Four sepoys and several camp-followers were spiked in the feet. But for this mishap the three weeks' march from Möngpawn round by Möngnai would have been accomplished without having a single man on the sick-list; and this although there had been much rain, especially on the return journey. After five days' rest the Limbin Prince was sent under escort to the plains, and passed into obscurity.


On the 22nd of June the Superintendent was able to report from Fort Stedman: "The Southern Shan States have now all given in their submission; caravans of cattle and pedlars move about from State to State with perfect freedom and confidence, a condition of things which has hardly existed since the accession of King Thebaw in 1879." (Mr. Hildebrand's Report, June 22, 1887, par. 147.)


[34] "Yunnan," by Major H. R. Davies.

[35] Ibid., p. 21.

[36] Sir A. P. Phayre, "History of Burma," p. 13.

[37] He was grinding wheat or paddy in a hand-mill.

[38] General Sir Edward Stedman, G.C.B.

[39] Sir Herbert White, K.C.I.E., late Lieut. Governor of Burma.


THE SHAN STATES (continued)

The narrative in the last chapter took the history down to the end of June, 1887, when comparative peace had been established in the Southern States.

The Northern States up to this time had not come under the influence of the Superintendent at Fort Stedman. The Chief Commissioner had decided that no expedition should be sent into those States until after the rains of 1887, unless it became absolutely necessary for the support of the friendly Sawbwa of Hsipaw. The chief had been able, as has been explained (p. 147), with the alliance of San Ton Hon to hold his own and to defeat their opponents headed by Naw Möng and the Chaunggwa Prince. If he had stopped at that point much misery and destruction would have been saved. But Hkun Saing's vanity had been inflated by the reception he had received at Mandalay when ten years' revenue had been remitted to him and the States of Möngtung, Manglön, and Hsumhsai made over to him, and he cherished visions of further aggrandisement. San Ton Hon was very much of the same mind.

After defeating the Prince they turned their forces southward and made an attack on Hsenwi Alelet, where comparative peace had been maintained by the Pa-ôk-Chok at Möngyai. San Ton Hon led his troops down by the east while Hsipaw's men, under the Sawbwa's father-in-law, went by the west. Mr. Hildebrand had heard of their designs and sent them orders to desist. The allies persisted, however, alleging that they were acting under instructions from Mandalay. Möngyai was occupied. The Pa-ôk-Chok and Naw Möng, who was with him, escaped[161] to Möngnawng and sent messengers to Fort Stedman praying for redress. They were ordered to remain quiet until the Superintendent should come to Hsenwi. San Ton Hon remained in Möngyai making arrangements for administering the district. He then left for the town of Hsenwi in obedience to a further order from Mr. Hildebrand. By the end of August, 1887, peace had been restored, that is to say, active fighting had ceased in the Northern States, and the contending parties awaited the coming of the Superintendent to settle their claims. Little harm would have resulted from the turbulence of Hsipaw and San Ton Hon if they had restrained their followers from ravaging the country. These bandits, San Ton Hon's Kachins at the head of them, had burnt and destroyed everything. Thus the autumn of 1887 saw the cessation of bloodshed in both the Northern and Southern States. All were beginning to look to the British representative at Fort Stedman as the final arbitrator of disputes, and trade began to revive.

Meanwhile the objects to be aimed at and the measures to be taken in the ensuing open season of 1887-8 were occupying the Chief Commissioner. Mr. Hildebrand was invited to Mandalay, and the subject was fully discussed and settled in consultation with him. The main lines of the policy to be followed in relation to the States were defined. The conditions upon which the chiefs were to hold their States under the British Government were determined and embodied in a patent, or sanad, to use the Indian term, for the greater chiefs, and in a letter of appointment for the lesser. By the sanad the recipient was recognized as a feudatory chief and empowered to govern his territories in all matters whether criminal, civil, or revenue, and was authorized to nominate for the approval of the Government a fit person according to Shan usage to be his successor. These privileges were made subject to certain conditions, one of which was the payment of a tribute, settled for five years at the amount previously paid to the King, and liable to revision thereafter. The forests and royalties on all minerals and precious stones were reserved to the Government. Order was to be maintained by the chief, the rights and[162] customs of the people were to be respected, and trade protected. All disputes arising between one State and another were to be referred to the Superintendent, at whose headquarters the chief was to maintain an agent or representative. The order of appointment given to the lesser men bound them to pay the revenue assessed by the Superintendent, and in all matters connected with the administration of their districts to conform to the instructions and orders issued by the Chief Commissioner or the Superintendent.

It was decided that each chief or ruler, whether known by the title of Sawbwa or some lesser designation, should be required to appear in person, to make a declaration of allegiance, and to subscribe to the terms of his sanad. Where there were rival claimants, weight was to be given to the fait accompli, and to considerations of expediency rather than to those of abstract right or justice. It was not held incumbent on the British Government to go behind existing facts or to inquire how the man in possession came by his power, provided he appeared to be a person capable of maintaining order.

Some matters of importance hitherto unsettled were decided by the Chief Commissioner at this time. The important State of Lawksawk had been left in temporary charge of a Burman Myoôk (vide page 154). There was a man named Hkun Nu who had been the (hereditary) Myoza of a small State called Tabet by the Burmans, Tamhpak by the Shans. He had been deposed about 1892 by the Burman Government because he could not raise the revenue demanded from the State. He lived in great poverty in Mandalay until the deposition of the King. His case coming to the Chief Commissioner's notice, a small allowance, enough to keep him alive, was made to him. Hkun Nu proved himself useful in giving information about the Shan country and in taking letters, not without some personal risk, to various potentates. He accompanied the expedition to the Shan States early in 1887, and was found by Mr. Hildebrand to be both intelligent and trustworthy and to be a person of some influence in the Shan country. On Mr. Hildebrand's recommendation, and with the goodwill of many of the notables of Lawksawk, and of some[163] of the principal Sawbwas such as Möngnai and Möngpawn, he was appointed by the Chief Commissioner to be Sawbwa of Lawksawk, a territory of 4,048 square miles and paying a gross revenue of Rs. 27,297. Thus from being the dismissed magistrate of a petty district, earning a small wage as a guide and messenger, Hkun Nu became the ruler of a considerable and wealthy State by a sudden turn of the wheel of fortune. It may be recorded here that the State prospered under him. On his death in 1900 he was succeeded by his son, who was summoned to Rangoon in 1906, and presented to their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales. He received the decoration of K.S.M. on the 1st of January, 1907, and has done much in the way of road-making and otherwise to improve his country.

Another matter that came up was the Sawbwa of Möngnai's claim to the adjacent State of Kengtawng, which had been made over by the Burmese Government to Twet Nga Lu. Orders were now passed confirming the Sawbwa's title to administer Kengtawng as a State subordinate to him.

Many important questions remained, which could not be settled until the Superintendent was able to visit each State with a sufficient military escort to mark his authority and to render opposition improbable. Hsenwi was in a disturbed and distracted condition and had to be pacified and arrangements made for its administration. The method in which the group of smaller States on the western edge of the plateau known as the Myélat was to be administered had also to be considered and decided. The nearness of these States to Mandalay had resulted in diminishing their independence. Their position was in fact not much different from that of a purely Burman district. Then there were the Trans-Salween States, with which communication had not as yet been established. Five of the smallest of these had been claimed by the Siamese. Another very difficult matter was the attitude of the Karennis, whose relations with the British Government it was necessary to define. In the case of every State, big or little, the amount paid as revenue during the King's time had to be ascertained, the tribute payable to the British[164] Government to be determined, and engagements to be taken for its regular payment.

In Mr. Hildebrand's expedition in the beginning of 1887 only one force had been employed. Experience showed that the area to be dealt with was too large for one column. While the force was in the south, fighting and disturbances were going on in the north. The appearance of two expeditions, one starting from Mandalay and visiting the north, the other from Fort Stedman, taking the Southern States and then moving up to combine with the first, would make a greater impression than a single force of much larger strength. Rumour would magnify the numbers of each, and if opposition were contemplated by any of the chiefs, he would not know where to direct his attack. For these reasons it was decided to employ two columns. The larger, under command of Major Swetenham, 27th P.I., was composed of:—

2guns 1-1 Eastern Division, R.A.
50rifles—West Surrey Regiment.
150rifles—27th P.I.
25Native} Mounted Infantry
20lances—1st Bombay Lancers.

It assembled at Fort Stedman, and was called the Southern Shan Column.

The smaller column was commanded by Major Yates, 1-1 Eastern Division, R.A., and included the following troops:—

2guns 1-1 Eastern Division, R.A.
50rifles—Royal Munster Fusiliers.
100rifles—43 G.L.I. (Bombay Army).
50rifles—Native} Mounted Infantry.

This column was designated the Northern Shan Column. Its starting-point was Maymyo (Pyinulwin), forty miles from Mandalay.

To Mr. Hildebrand, as Superintendent of the Shan States, was given the chief political charge, and, within certain[165] limits laid down by the Chief Commissioner, the movements of the columns and the measures to be taken for the pacification of the country were left to his discretion. He was to accompany the Southern Column, and Mr. J. G. Scott was appointed to go with him as his Assistant. Lieutenant H. Daly was posted as civil officer with the Northern Column. In all political matters he was placed entirely under Mr. Hildebrand, and was told that he was to act, and only to act, under his instructions.

The relations of Mr. Hildebrand to the military officers in command of the columns were carefully defined. The primary object of the expeditions was to establish peace, decide disputes, and lay the foundations of orderly rule for the future. The need of warlike operations was not anticipated. The military officers commanding were instructed therefore to give to the civil officers every assistance in carrying out the wishes of Government that could be given with due regard to the safety and well-being of the troops. In the event of hostilities becoming necessary, then the civil officer was to stand aside while the soldiers became solely responsible for the planning and carrying out of the necessary operations. The maintenance of the strictest discipline was enjoined, and the most scrupulous exactitude in paying for labour and supplies. Troops and followers were made to understand that they were operating in a friendly country.

Instructions were given to Mr. Hildebrand as to the route to be taken by each column, the matters demanding his attention, and the principles by which he was to be guided. Mr. Daly with the Northern Column was to move through Hsipaw to Northern Hsenwi, then to Tawngpeng, the chief of which State was still recalcitrant; and thence returning to Hsipaw, he was to march to Möngyai in Central Hsenwi.

Mr. Hildebrand with the Southern Column was to go to Möngpai, thence to Mawkmai, thence to Möngpan, and then to Möngnai, which was a convenient centre for the settlement of many matters. After a halt there, which it was anticipated might extend to several weeks, the column was to turn northward and march through the[166] intervening States to Möngyai, which it was to reach about the same time as the Northern Column. The idea was to bring the two columns together in Hsenwi, where the contending parties of San Ton Hon, Naw Hpa, Naw Möng and Nga Aw the Pa-ôk-Chok, whom San Ton Hon and the Hsipaw Sawbwa had expelled from Möngyai, were expected to give trouble. At Möngyai, the settlement of the large State of Hsenwi—the most difficult, perhaps, of the duties entrusted to Mr. Hildebrand—would have to be taken in hand.

The Southern Column started on the 22nd of November, 1887, on its five months' march through the States. Before it moved, the chiefs of the Myélat and the Sawbwas and Myozas of States in the neighbourhood of Fort Stedman, were called in; the revenue to be paid by each was fixed, and the drafts of their sanads and letters of appointment given to them. There was no difficulty with any of them except Saw Ôn, the Sawbwa of Yawnghwè, who owed his position to the support afforded to him by the British Government. He objected to the payment of revenue, and feigned illness to avoid appearing before the Superintendent. He made it almost impossible to get coolies or bullocks, except directly through him and at most exorbitant rates. He exhibited, in fact, a fine example of a swollen head. But it may be that he partly believed in the truth of some absurd stories respecting the withdrawal of the British from Burma, which he was found afterwards to have spread abroad.

The first halt was made at Kaung-i, the residence of the Möngpai Sawbwa. The settlement of the chronic feud between him and Pobye, the Karenni chief, was the main business here. Pobye appeared, and the Superintendent heard both parties. After vainly endeavouring to bring them to an agreement, Mr. Hildebrand induced them to pledge themselves to abide by the Chief Commissioner's decision, and meanwhile to keep the peace. At a later date, they submitted their case at Rangoon to the Chief Commissioner, who settled the dispute....

At Möngpai every effort was made without success to induce Sawlapaw, the powerful chief of Eastern Karenni, to come in and arrange a modus vivendi with the British authorities. He remained obstinately hostile, and had to be chastised later on.

A Jungle Camp in the Shan States.


At this halt, where several chiefs were assembled, the principle of succession ruling in the Shan States was discussed. It appeared that as a rule succession devolved on the eldest son of the chief wife: failing her male issue, on the eldest male issue of the next wife. Failing heirs in the direct line, the succession went to collaterals. This was shown to be the ancient custom not to be departed from except in the case of obvious unfitness of the heir for the duties of his position either from incapacity or from vice. In Loilong and Hsahtung some questions relating to minor chiefships were settled. It was found that on this south-western frontier of the Shan States the inhabitants were mostly Karens and kindred races split up into small tribes speaking different dialects, timid and shy people submitting to the tyranny of dacoits and outlaws who sought a refuge in their hills from the pursuit of the police and troops in the low country.

The column marched through the Mawkmai territory to Möngpan. No special matter had been marked for settlement in Mawkmai. But it was noted that the villagers in the south stood in great fear of Sawlapaw, and paid blackmail to him. Work in the forests of Southern and South-eastern Mawkmai had been stopped on account of the hostility of the Karenni chief. The adjacent country was practically deserted, and the complaints against Sawlapaw were loud. Mawkmai, however, at this time was the most wealthy and prosperous of the Shan States, and the Sawbwa seemed powerful enough to hold his own against any of his neighbours.

From Mawkmai the column went on to Möngpan. Here they met the Siamese Commissioners and Mr. Archer, His Majesty's Acting Vice-Consul at Chiengmai (Zimme), who had come to discuss the claim made by the Bangkok Government to some small States east of the Salween. Möngpan had been taken and burnt by the filibuster Twet Nga Lu, who had so far recognized British authority that after his expulsion from Kengtawng by Kun Kyi, the Möngnai Sawbwa, he came to Fort Stedman and laid his claim before the Superintendent. It was considered and rejected by the[168] Chief Commissioner. Thereupon he collected a regiment of bravi, as numerous in the Shan States in 1887 as in Italy of the Middle Ages, and descending on Kengtawng burnt whatever had escaped former devastations. Compelled to retreat by the Sawbwa's men, he retired south on Möngpan, and captured it in December, 1887. Again driven out by the Möngnai troops, he fell back beyond the Salween, the Möngnai men following him. But as the pursuit led them into the territory of Möngtung and Möng Hang, which were claimed by the Siamese, they were ordered by the Superintendent to retire to the right bank of the Salween. Twet Nga Lu was left encamped close to Möngtung, where a small Siamese garrison was stationed, and he thus escaped for the time. He was proclaimed a rebel and dacoit and every chief in the Shan States was desired to treat him as an outlaw. This was the situation at Möngpan when the Southern Column met Mr. Archer and the Siamese Commissioners at that place.

The four States in dispute with Siam were Möngtung, Möng Hang, Möng Hta, and Möng Kyawt. They were claimed by the British Government as part of the undoubtedly Burman State Möngpan, but had been occupied secretly by the Siamese. A fifth, Möng Hsat, was also claimed by them, but no garrison had been placed in it. It was and always had been a dependency of Kengtung, with which the Siamese could not pretend to have any connection. The Siamese claim had its origin in the conduct of the local rulers (Phayas) of these little territories in the disturbed times following the overthrow of King Thebaw.

The Mawkmai Sawbwa made a successful attack on Möngpan in the cold season of 1886-7. Earlier in the same year the Siamese had moved up a large force from Chiengmai, ostensibly to assist the British in maintaining order: more probably in the hope of picking up some fragments for themselves when the Burman Government went to pieces. Under these circumstances the local rulers, threatened with burning and robbery by Mawkmai, with invasion and slavery by Siam, sought the protection of the more powerful Siamese and drank the water of allegiance to Chiengmai. This was the only foundation for the claim made by the Bangkok Government. Their assertion that[169] the States had been under Siam for a century had nothing to support it. The population was admittedly Shan. A report of the facts was drawn up and sent to the Chief Commissioner. Meanwhile a modus vivendi was arranged by Mr. Hildebrand with the Siamese Commissioner on the basis of maintaining the status quo, preserving peace, and abstaining from working the forests in the States until the dispute was settled by the Governments of the two countries. It may be stated here that a decision in favour of the British claim was announced in 1888 and effect given to it. Four States were restored to Möngpan, and possession of the fifth, Möng Hsat, confirmed to Kengtung.

The State of Möngpan contains a broad area of good paddy land, and in former times exported large quantities of paddy. When Mr. Hildebrand visited it he found the lands devastated. With the one exception of Laikha it had suffered more than any other Shan State. The town had been repeatedly burnt by filibusters. The great bulk of the population had fled over the Salween and scattered through the smaller States, some even going as far as Chiengmai (Zimme) and Kengtung. Leaving Möngpan, the column reached Möngnai on the 7th of January, 1888, and halted there for some weeks. Möngnai had been the place of assemblage of the Cis-Salween chiefs in the King's time. All of them had been warned in advance to meet Mr. Hildebrand at Möngnai, and all except the Sawbwa of Laikha, the Myozas of Möng Kung and Kehsi Mansam, who had started too late, were present. The chiefs assembled at Möngnai were:—

The Möngnai Sawbwa.
The Möngpawn Sawbwa.
The Möngpan Sawbwa.
The Mawkmai Sawbwa.
The Wanyin Myoza.
The Nawng Wawn Myoza.
The Hsahtung Myoza.
The Möngsit Myoza.
The Möngnawng Myoza.
The Hopong Myoza.
The Keng Hkam Myoza.
The Nam Hkok Myoza.

Naw Möng, son of Naw Hpa, who was claimant of Hsenwi, and Kun Aw, who was Pa-ôk-Chok of Möngyai in Hsenwi Alelet, and had been ejected by San Ton Hon and Hkun Sa, the exiled chief of Möngtung, were also present.


The question of tribute was one in which all took a keen interest, and it was fully discussed. The right of the British Government to demand tribute was not contested. But the manner of it, whether it should be in the form of annual presents or of money to be raised from the people by a house tax, was the subject of dispute. The exemption for ten years which had been given to the Sawbwa of Hsipaw caused much heartburning and led to demands for a similar indulgence.

Eventually, however, all agreed to pay tribute, the amount for the next five years being that which had been paid yearly in King Mindon's time.

The Trans-Salween States from various causes did not appear at Möngnai. But a dispute between Mawkmai and Möngnai regarding the right to a small Trans-Salween State of Möng Pu was settled satisfactorily in favour of Möngnai. Mawkmai's claim had no strong foundation, and after the facts had been set forth, the Sawbwa accepted them and yielded in a peaceable and graceful fashion. It was evident that already the authority of the British Government had been acknowledged by all, and that its decisions would be obeyed.

On the 20th of January Mr. Hildebrand held a Durbar, which all the chiefs, and a very great number of the smaller folk, attended. The draft patents and letters of appointment were given to the chiefs, along with suitable presents, and the advantages of the peace which would follow the establishment of British authority were pointed out to them by the Superintendent in a speech. A march past and a sham-fight by the troops gave them an opportunity of comparing British disciplined and trained troops with their own disorderly and ill-equipped followers. Sports followed the Durbar, affording amusement to all and giving a common ground on which all could unite. The wisdom and the excellent results of holding these meetings cannot be denied.

On the 22nd of January, 1888, the column left Möngnai and started on its way to Möngyai, where it will be recollected (p. 166) it was to meet with the Northern Column and Mr. Daly. The route to be taken on this march had been left by the Chief Commissioner to Mr. Hildebrand's[171] discretion. Is has been seen that the Laikha group of States were not represented at the Durbar. The Superintendent, therefore, instead of taking the route to the east through Möngnawng, which was reputed to be the shorter, took a western road leading through Laikha, Möng Kung, and Kehsi Mansam. It proved to be the easiest route that could have been followed, and showed the troops to as large a number of States as possible.

On the second march out the Sawbwa of Laikha and the Myoza of Möng Kung were met coming to meet the Superintendent. They turned and marched with the column. They said that difficulties in procuring supplies had delayed them, and the truth of this statement was proved by the appearance of the countryside when the next march brought the force into Laikha territory—a wide billowy plain not long ago closely cultivated and well peopled: now deserted and waste. "The face of the land," wrote the Superintendent, "was deserted and desolate as an American pampas or a Russian steppe. We marched along the main north road which had clearly been not long since a wide thoroughfare travelled over by many men and many cattle. Now it was narrowed to a mere path which encroaching bushes and rank grass threatened at no great distance of time altogether to obliterate. Marks of tigers were seen here and there on the clay trodden hard by the feet of many wayfarers now no more to be seen. The few householders who remained were gaunt with hunger, and had not energy enough left to pull up the bamboo spikes which had been placed in the ground during the fighting which was the primary cause of all this misery, emphasized by the famine which succeeded as a necessary result. The Hsen (local headman) spiked his foot coming out to meet the column."

The description of the town of Laikha is not less melancholy. It has been on the decline for years. "Civil wars and local disturbances have ruined it slowly but surely." It was one of the finest and wealthiest places in the State, and there were many splendid monasteries and elaborate pagodas. These were found deserted and falling to pieces, the shrines left to moulder away without a single pious offering, the jungle coming up to their very thresholds and creepers tearing the bricks asunder.


Leaving Laikha on the 30th of January, three marches brought the column to Möngkung, a State blessed with very fertile soil and good streams. But here also local dissension and Burman interference had brought ruin. On the death of the chief (designated Myoza), one Hkun Saing was able by bribery or intrigue to procure an order from Mandalay giving him the succession. The people, however, clung to the rightful heir, the son of the deceased Myoza, a boy of ten or twelve. Hkun Sang persuaded the neighbouring State of Möngnawng to take his part. Kehsi Mansam took the boy's side. Nearly every village in both States was burnt, and the able-bodied men were too absorbed in the fight to till the soil. Ruin and famine followed in the track of the fighting, which did not cease until our troops arrived on the Shan plateau. The only villages to which any prosperity remained were those in the hills inhabited by tribes of a Karen origin who held aloof from Shan politics. At Möngkung the minor chief of Möngsang and Mönghsu came to see the Superintendent. Here also news came that Mr. Daly with the Northern Column had reached Hsenwi and had received from San Ton Hon a promise that he would come to Möngyai. This hopeful information regarding San Ton Hon enabled the Superintendent to issue a proclamation in Shan to the monks, headmen, and elders of Hsenwi, assuring them that a settlement of their affairs would certainly be made and ordering them to attend at Möngyai.

From Möngkung to Kehsi Mansam was four marches through a country marked by the ravages of war. Nevertheless the Myoza, "an undersized, insignificant-looking creature, addicted to the use of opium," was not too depressed to come out fifteen miles to meet the column, which he played into the town with a band of local musicians and dancers leading the way.

Matters relating to some minor States were discussed at Kehsi Mansam, and the peaceful settlement of Hsenwi seemed not distant. But it was sanguine to expect that people who had been engaged in petty wars for years would take suddenly to the ways of peace. The lion does not all at once lie down with the lamb, nor it might be said more appropriately does the jackal make peace with the wild dog.[173] Two days after the arrival of the column at Kehsi Mansam it was reported that an attack had been made on Möngyai and San Ton Hon's deputy driven out. The men who headed this adventure were nephews of the Pa-ôk-Chok and gave out that they were acting for that personage with the Superintendent's approval. As the Pa-ôk-Chok and Naw Möng had accompanied the force ever since it marched from Möngnai, it was feared that this story might seem probable to San Ton Hon and might prevent him from coming to Möngyai. Letters, therefore, were sent to reassure him and to explain that the expulsion of his man from Möngyai would not influence the decision of the Superintendent.

From Kehsi Mansam, passing through the Alelet or Central Division of Hsenwi, the column reached Möngyai on the 15th of February, 1888. Mr. Daly, with the Northern Column, joined Mr. Hildebrand on the 1st of March. Kun San Ton Hon came with him. Meanwhile all the headmen of various denominations, uncouth to English ears, Myozas, Heins, Seins, Ta Möngs, and Kin Möngs, had collected in obedience to the Superintendent's summons, and were busy no doubt in discussing the situation and the best methods of settlement and comparing the present condition of the State broken up into petty divisions, none of them powerful enough for self-defence, with the comparative order which had prevailed when it was under its hereditary Sawbwas, who could show an unbroken succession for two hundred years.

On the 1st of March, when San Ton Hon arrived with Mr. Daly, all the Hsenwi claimants were assembled at Möngyai. Naw Möng—representing his father, Naw Hpa, who was a refugee with the Kachins in the north; Sang Aw, the Pa-ôk-Chok, who claimed the Central Division; and San Ton Hon, who claimed the whole State. Naw Hpa was pronounced on all sides to be too old and infirm to rule. Naw Möng claimed as his heir and representative the whole of Hsenwi, excepting some of the southern subdivisions, which had been given independence in the King's time. His attitude was most reasonable. He confessed his obligations to the British Government. Unless they had occupied Mandalay and removed Thebaw, he and his sister would[174] have been lying still in hopeless imprisonment. He was ready to bow to the Superintendent's decision, whatever it might be. The Pa-ôk-Chok was even more accommodating. He was an old worn man whose only title to be considered in the matter was that he had preserved the peace in the Central Division at a critical time. He would be quite content if he were permitted to administer Möngyai. San Ton Hon, who had no rightful title to any part of Hsenwi, not unnaturally laid claim to all the country that was or had been known by that name. On reflection, however, he adopted an attitude of greater humility and declared his willingness to abide by the decision of the Superintendent.

The points to which the Superintendent's inquiry should be directed had been laid down by the Chief Commissioner in the instructions given him. Amongst other points, such as the history of the several claimants, their sources of influence and their ability and power to govern, the Chief Commissioner had laid stress on the real wishes of the people of Hsenwi as a whole or of such parts of it as should be separately considered. "You should then," he wrote, "pending a full reference to the Chief Commissioner, make such arrangements for the administration of Theinni [Hsenwi] as you deem most fitting, bearing in mind that the great object to be attained is peace in the country. You must not be guided either in your provisional arrangements or in your recommendations solely by considerations of abstract right or abstract justice. You must give great weight to considerations of expediency and keep prominently before your mind that Theinni [Hsenwi] must have strong permanent Government in order to ensure peace and prosperity; and that the chief or chiefs must be both friendly to the British Government and ready and able to give proof of friendship by prompt and powerful action should such be necessary." The question whether the policy should be to unite the country into one large State, or to recognize the divisions into which it had been broken up, was left to Mr. Hildebrand's discretion, but an inclination in favour of the large State was indicated.

It was decided to hold a conference of all the persons interested in this matter and to ascertain, so far as might be possible, the views and wishes of the people. A large[175] (Mandat or) temporary hall was constructed by the Pa-ôk-Chok for the assemblage. On the date fixed, the 3rd of March, 1888, "about fifty headmen of circles, many superiors of monasteries, monks, sidesmen, almoners, and village elders were assembled, while outside gathered great numbers of the common people from all parts of the country. There were also present beside the claimants, representatives of all the chief Southern States and of Hsipaw." In fact, it was an assemblage of all the estates of the realm in the Shan country—the Lords Temporal, the Lords Spiritual, and the Commons. They had come together to assist in deciding by whom and how the Hsenwi territory should be governed. And they had come at the call of a Government which had taken a visible form in the Shan country only a year before, which only two years previously had displaced the King of Burma to whom the Shans had been subject for centuries, and which was still fighting in Burma proper against the adherents of the King. It was certainly an achievement not easily matched in the history of conquests or annexations, and showed the confidence in our power and our justice which a very short experience had been able to create.

It was not a mere show; the people had not assembled themselves to register a foregone decision. The Superintendent was making an honest attempt to ascertain the wishes of all classes. The machinery was rude. But it was quite as likely to succeed in its object as the elaborate devices of advanced democracies which give free play to the arts of false-tongued demagogues and afford them every opportunity of bamboozling electors, most of whom are more ignorant of the issues than the Shans who assembled at Möngyai.

The method adopted for taking the votes was to call upon each head of a circle to record his opinion, and then to take the opinion of the assembly. The first question put was whether Hsenwi should be reunited or whether it should remain divided, and if divided, into how many parts. The opinion against reunion into one State was manifested unmistakably. On the second point there was much discussion, but the result showed a balance, and a large balance, of opinion in favour of two States, North and South.[176] The great majority, when the question of the rulers to be appointed was put, gave the North to San Ton Hon, and the South to Naw Möng. The Pa-ôk-Chok did not press his claim. "On the whole," the report says, "considerable intelligence and a shrewd appreciation of the novel idea of an open election were displayed, and a member of the outside crowd created some amusement by his vigorous championing of San Ton Hon. This unexpected interlude had a very good effect in putting most of the headmen at their ease and in persuading the entire assemblage that the election was a perfectly open matter, and that any one present might give his opinion and his reasons for holding it." The Shans were evidently a primitive people in election matters at least, and had to learn the art of breaking up meetings and silencing opponents.

After electing the Sawbwas of Northern and Southern Hsenwi, the boundary to be fixed between the two divisions was discussed and settled with the acquiescence of San Ton Hon and Naw Möng, but against the views of some of the latter's people, who thought that Southern Hsenwi was shorn of some territory which ought to belong to it.

Further disagreement between the Naw Möng and his people followed when on the second day of the Durbar the amount of revenue to be paid by the two divisions respectively came to be considered. The Naw Möng offered spontaneously to pay the sum formerly paid to the King by the Alelet Division, without making any deduction on account of the circles which the boundary now adopted had given to the Northern territory. This easy attitude of their newly appointed chief caused acute discontent, which afterwards manifested itself. San Ton Hon was a man of different stamp. The Naw Möng had offered a revenue of Rs. 15,000. San Ton Hon made a stand against paying more than Rs. 500. He agreed, after much talking, to pay Rs. 2,000. The Northern Division of Hsenwi was no doubt much poorer at the time than the South. Still the amount was considerably less than the State ought to have paid. The Superintendent, however, thought it wiser to accept it than to risk a rupture with San Ton Hon.


The unequal treatment was impolitic as well as unfair and bred trouble in Southern Hsenwi. A month after the column left Möngyai a rising against Naw Möng was organized by the discontented party, and he had to make his escape by flight. Mr. Daly, who was at Hsipaw, rode out at once with a small party and summoned all the heads of circles to Möngyai. An inquiry was held, the leaders of the revolt were arrested and tried by the Sawbwa of South Hsenwi, and were sentenced to terms of imprisonment. New headmen were appointed in place of those condemned. Mr. Daly returned to Hsipaw, and the Naw Möng had no further trouble to contend with. The settlement of Hsenwi made at the Möngyai Durbar has stood the test of time and is a monument to the officers concerned in bringing it about.

Leaving Möngyai on the 7th of March, the column marched to Lashio by easy stages.

Nothing has been said hitherto as to the Northern Shan Column which accompanied Mr. Daly. Mr. Daly had preceded the force to Hsipaw and made arrangements for its progress. He had despatched letters to the Northern chiefs announcing his coming, and reassuring them as to the nature of the movement.

The route laid down for the Northern Shan Column by the Chief Commissioner was from Hsipaw to the northern part of Hsenwi; thence westward to Namhsan, the chief town in Tawngpeng; then back to Hsipaw and from Hsipaw on to Möngyai to meet the Southern Column. No independent powers were given to Mr. Daly, who was to place himself in all political matters under Mr. Hildebrand's orders. He was to act as the precursor of the Superintendent, summoning the chiefs and headmen and explaining to them the objects of Mr. Hildebrand's coming. He was also to collect information as to the state of affairs and the position of the various factions in Hsenwi. He was given authority, however, to insist on the cessation of fighting, and empowered, if the necessity should arise, to use force in maintaining peace. He was empowered also to take action in Tawngpeng for securing the submission of the Sawbwa, and to require him to pay tribute for the past year of such sum as he (Mr. Daly) might judge[178] reasonable, explaining that this payment was exacted because the Sawbwa had harboured disaffected persons.

The Northern Column left Hsipaw on the 29th of December, 1887, and crossed into Tawngpeng territory. All the villages were deserted, and on the 30th of December the advance- and rear-guards were simultaneously fired into. Two mules were killed and a driver wounded. A few volleys into the bush dispersed the attacking party. The town of Namhsam was reached on the 31st. All the inhabitants had disappeared. Mr. Daly remained eight days, in the hope of inducing the Sawbwa to come in, but without success. He was able, however, to restore confidence. The townspeople returned to their houses, and on the march of the column to Hsenwi the villagers on the road watched the troops without concern. The attack on the column was afterwards explained. There was an old standing feud between Tawngpeng and Hsipaw, dating from a treacherous massacre of Tawngpeng officials by the grandfather of Hkun Saing, the Sawbwa of Hsipaw. Mr. Daly had been several weeks in Hsipaw, and a number of Hsipaw bullock-drivers were with the column. This aroused the suspicions of the Tawngpeng officials, and orders were given to oppose any armed men from Hsipaw. However this may have been, the misunderstanding was only for a time.

Mr. Daly then went on to the town of Hsenwi, or rather to the site of the town, for the town had been destroyed, to meet San Ton Hon, who after some hesitation came in to see him and arranged to attend the Conference at Möngyai. The Northern Column then marched east to the Kunlon Ferry on the Salween, to Mansi, where San Ton Hon joined Mr. Daly and accompanied him to Möngyai. Except that the submission of the Tawngpeng Sawbwa had not been obtained owing to his timidity or hostility, the task appointed to the Northern Column had been executed with complete success.

But to go back. After the Durbar was over at Möngyai, the Southern Column, according to its wont, gave a display for the popular delight. On the first day there was a sham-fight, which was viewed with much interest by chiefs and followers; and on the second, garrison sports, which it[179] is related "proved a great attraction and tended in no small degree to bring the troops and the people together and to produce good feeling on both sides."

All hope of meeting any of the great Trans-Salween chiefs was now past. Various causes had prevented them from coming in, amongst others a raid made across their track to Möngnai by the irrepressible Twet Nga Lu, and some mischievous lies spread by Saw Ôn of Yawnghwè regarding the withdrawal of the British forces. Trans-Salween affairs had therefore to be laid aside for a more convenient season. But much useful information was gathered and recorded by the Superintendent and Mr. Scott.

From Lashio the column moved to Panglon, a village on the eastern borders of Tawngpeng territory, to which place the chief had been summoned to meet the Superintendent and make his submission. He did not obey the summons, but sent excuses for his absence alleging age and infirmities, and saying that he wished his son to be accepted as Sawbwa in his room. Two days afterwards this son, entitled the Naw Möng, accompanied by most of the chief officials, came in, and with humble apologies for the attack made on the Northern Column, tendered his allegiance to the British Government. As it appeared that the old Sawbwa was nearly eighty years of age, it was decided to accept the Naw Möng, Hkun Kyan, as chief, and to draw out the sanad, or patent, in his name. This was done, and the amount of revenue to be paid by Tawngpeng was determined. It may be recorded here that Hkun Kyan administered the State for seven years until 1895, when he resigned on account of ill-health. A cousin succeeded him but proved incompetent, and in 1904 a Government officer was put in charge of Tawngpeng. At present, the Sawbwa is administering the State satisfactorily.

Having settled this matter, the column marched into Hsipaw. It is worth noting that Hkun Saing, the chief of Hsipaw, had obtained greater favour from the British Government than any other of the Shan chiefs. The more prominent of them bitterly resented the concessions made to Hkun Saing, namely: the remission of his revenue for ten years and the conferment on him of the three States of Möngtung, Mönglong, and Hsumhsai, to which he had[180] no right. His services to the British Government consisted in this, that he came down to meet the Chief Commissioner at Mandalay and was the first to make his submission to the Queen-Empress. It might have been expected, therefore, that he would have made some show of providing shelter and supplies for the troops. He did nothing. The extraordinary favours which he had received led him to think that he must be necessary to the Government, and he made no effort to prove his gratitude. The gift of Möngtung to Hkun Saing was resented by the inhabitants of that State, who claimed independence and wished to be ruled by their hereditary chief, who had been dismissed by the Sawbwa of Hsipaw. Similar were the feelings of the people of Mönglong, whose hereditary ruler, Nga Maung, gave great trouble to our administration. Mr. Hildebrand worked hard to arrive at some settlement by which peace might be assured. He was unsuccessful, and Möngtung as well as Mönglong was torn by dissension for some years. At length in 1893, owing to this and other administrative failures, a British officer was appointed to advise and guide the Sawbwa Hkun Saing, and by this means peace and order were restored.

On the 9th of April, after a tour of four months and nineteen days, the Southern Shan Column, under Colonel Swetenham, accompanied by Mr. Hildebrand and Mr. Scott, marched into Mandalay. The expedition had done its work well. Every chief, big and little, in the Cis-Salween States had been met and his formal recognition of British supremacy obtained. Long-existing feuds had been set at rest, and claims the subject of prolonged fighting peaceably adjudicated. The revenue payable by each State had been ascertained, and with one or two exceptions definitely fixed. The Southern Column had marched upwards of seven hundred miles, and had passed through the territory of every important chief. The few minor States untraversed by it had been visited either by Captain Jackson, R.E., of the Government of India Survey, or by Lieutenant Stanton, D.S.O., of the Intelligence Department, accompanied in each case by small parties of troops; and by their labours a map had been constructed on which the position of every important place in the Cis-Salween States was scientifically fixed. Moreover, a mass of information regarding the Shan country, its main features and products, and the character and politics of the people, was collected, invaluable to those engaged in administering this wide country.

Pagodas at Mang Kao—Shan States.


If the Shans generally on the west of the Salween have accepted British rule and learned to trust our good faith and moderation, the credit must be given to the work done by the two columns. Although that work was in the main of a civil character, and the military force was there as an escort and a protection in case of need, yet the soldiers deserve quite as great a share of the blessing promised to the peacemaker as the civilians. In building the Indian Empire, soldiers and civilians have always worked hand in hand. In Burma and the Shan States the old tradition was not belied.

The civil officers with the columns recorded their gratitude to Colonel Swetenham and his officers for their unwearying efforts to assist the Superintendent in his communications with the chiefs and the people. But more than that: "It remains to be noted," writes Mr. Scott, "that this desire to aid the Superintendent in his duties was no less conspicuous among the native officers, and the men, alike of the 2nd Queen's, the Battery, and the 27th Punjab Infantry. The native officers in particular took a most intelligent and evidently real interest in the objects of the expedition. They not only succeeded in suppressing all crime and ill-treatment of the people by the sepoys and followers, but they were foremost in showing the example of friendly and social intercourse with the people. Nearly every one in the regiment had picked up during their two years' stay in Burma a certain amount of Burmese; to this was added a few words of Shan; and these used freely on all occasions, whether apposite or not, never failed to break down the nervousness and awe with which the population was at first disposed to regard us. Whenever we halted for any time, friendships were struck up between the troops and the people, and that the goodwill and esteem thus created was not merely superficial or assumed was more than once proved in the most satisfactory manner. Followers were lost or strayed away from[182] the camp. In every case these animals or men were taken care of, fed, and in some cases clothed and physicked and eventually sent on to join the column." A further proof of the friendliness of the people was the immunity of the mails from detention or pillage. Although sent without guards by native runners, they were invariably delivered after passing sometimes through many States and many hands. "If, therefore," concludes Mr. Scott, "as there can be no doubt is the case, the Cis-Salween States have definitely and thankfully accepted our suzerainty, no small share of the credit of our success is due to the exertions of the officers of the Shan Column."

In dealing with semi-savage and ignorant races, the power of rumour and misrepresentation can hardly be overestimated. When the Shans saw that the Southern Column left no detachment behind it at Möngnai, and instead of returning from Hsenwi to Fort Stedman marched down to Mandalay, rumour began to be busy and the ignorant imagination of the people to seek reasons for this movement. Ready at hand to supply food for fancy was Saw Ôn, the Yawnghwè Sawbwa. An intriguer and gossip by nature, he sat down to write letters to all the greater chiefs, informing them that the garrison at Fort Stedman had been reduced to forty men. This advanced person had already begun to take in some of the Rangoon papers and to read the telegrams, which he could not understand but from which he contrived to extract the notion that there was going to be a European war and that the British were withdrawing their troops from Burma, to which the notices in the papers of troops leaving in the course of the ordinary reliefs seemed to point. These letters reached men even more ignorant than himself. The impression gained ground that the British power was passing, and the disappointed claimants, the adventurers, and the men with a grievance saw an opportunity for action.

It will be remembered that the chief of Eastern Karenni had not met Mr. Hildebrand at Möngnai. The country of the Karenni, or Red Karens, has an area of nearly five thousand square miles, much of which is hill and forest. On the east it is bounded by Siamese territory; on the north by the Shan States; on the south by Lower Burma;[183] and on the west by a hill tract which separates it from the level country of Burma proper. It is divided into Eastern Karenni and Western Karenni. We are concerned at present with the former, which consists of one single State, Gantarawadi. The ruler of this State was Sawlapaw. He resided at the chief place, Saw Lon, and he is aptly described by Mr. Scott as a stubborn man from his youth, who had grown old in the belief that his country was impregnable and his people in their hills invincible. He was confirmed in this unfounded belief by the extraordinary timidity and cowardice of the Shans, who habitually submitted to be raided and robbed, and to see their people carried away into slavery by this overbearing savage and his men.

Now Sawlapaw had a long-standing grievance with the adjoining Shan State of Mawkmai. The cause, or the alleged cause, was the seizure by the Sawbwa of Mawkmai, twenty-two years before, of a number of elephants and timber in Karenni forests. He had endeavoured to get redress from the Burmese Government twice, but without success. The Burmese Government had disappeared, and now he had seen a British force come and go, he was told for good and all. He thought his opportunity had come, and advanced on Mawkmai. The Sawbwa of that State, by name Hkun Hmon, had a bad conscience. His father, Ne Nwe, the man whom Sawlapaw accused of robbing him of his elephants, had died some time back. According to Shan custom Hkun Hmon ought to have buried his father and divided the personality amongst certain relations who were entitled to it. Shan custom demanded that the burial should precede the payment of the legacies. Hkun Hmon disliking the idea of parting with the property, put off the burial indefinitely, making, it may be hoped, some sort of decent, if temporary, shelter for his father's body, by placing it, for example, in a coffin of teak with a generous covering of honey.

Now the principal legatees were in Möngnai, and were connections of the Möngnai Sawbwa. Hence the "Smock-faced" Hkun Hmon, as Mr. Scott dubs him, when he heard of the Karenni force advancing upon him, knowing that Möngnai and the Karenni chief were allies, became conscience-stricken;[184] and, imagining that a combined attack would be made on him, fled without raising a finger to defend himself. The Karenni entered Mawkmai on the 2nd of March without let or hindrance. They proceeded to burn the town and ravage the country. They destroyed everything. Even the monasteries and bridges were burnt. The Mawkmai Valley, which up to that time had escaped devastation and was the only part of the Shan States that had been spared, was completely ruined. Sawlapaw then appointed a man of his own to be Sawbwa of Mawkmai, and declared the State to be annexed to Karenni. Hitherto Eastern Karenni had been treated with much forbearance by the Chief Commissioner—more, perhaps, because it was inconvenient to move against it just then than from a desire to spare Sawlapaw.

Mr. Scott, after returning to Mandalay with the Southern Shan Column (see p. 180), had hurried back by the Natteik Pass to Fort Stedman. Late in April the Chief Commissioner sent him orders to clear the Karenni out of Mawkmai and restore the rightful Sawbwa, Hkun Hmon. He left Fort Stedman on the 2nd of May, with a party under Colonel Sartorius of the Beleuchi Regiment, to execute these orders.

The same influences which had led Sawlapaw to go on the warpath, at this moment had operated on the energetic mind of Twet Nga Lu. Since his expulsion from Kengtawng by the Möngnai troops (vide p. 168) he had remained on the east of the Salween, and had collected a number of his ruffianly followers who had been able to get arms and powder from Chiengmai. Crossing the river he took the town of Möngpan on the 4th of March, the day after the Karenni's seizure of Mawkmai.

The news of these disturbances had reached Mr. Hildebrand at Hsipaw. He had sent orders to the Möngnai Sawbwa to collect men to expel Twet Nga Lu and to reinstate Hkun Hmon in Mawkmai. Hkun Kyi raised what men he could and attacked Twet Nga Lu's position, but he was defeated, followed up by the bandit, and had to seek safety in flight. This happened on the evening of the 3rd of May.

On the 6th of May fugitives from Möngnai brought the[185] news of this catastrophe to Mr. Scott, who was en route to Mawkmai with Colonel Sartorius. There was no hesitation. The direction of the march was at once changed to Möngnai. Mr. Scott saw at once the lucky chance offered to him of making an end of Twet Nga Lu. On the 9th of May a halt was made at Kanglu, nine miles west of Möngnai. The morning of the 10th of May was very wet, which rendered a surprise of the enemy more possible. Mr. Scott had studied the ground when he was with the Southern Column, and felt able to guide a mounted party in the hope of capturing the noted filibuster. There was no Mounted Infantry with the column. All the officers' ponies were requisitioned. Six men of the Rifle Brigade and one man of the Beleuchi Regiment were thus mounted; and under the command of Lieutenant Fowler of the Beleuchis, and led by Mr. Scott, the little party started on the adventure.

Following bypaths over the hills, they escaped notice, and the heavy rain falling kept most of the peasants under shelter. The town was entered by the south. Mr. Scott, knowing the ground, led them straight to the Sawbwa's haw—palace is too grand a name—a teak and bamboo structure with a stockade round it. Evidently the brigand felt quite secure. Hardly any one was about, and Twet Nga Lu himself was in bed in the verandah. He was seized and secured before he quite knew what had happened. This could not be done, however, without some noise, which brought in an armed crowd of his chief retainers. Mr. Scott ordered them peremptorily to sit down, which is the Burmese equivalent of "Hands up!" They hesitated. A straight blow between the eyes dropped the foremost. The rest sat down at once, and before they had time to count their opponents or take stock of the situation, the riflemen had collected their arms. An anxious and rather bad time followed until firing was heard, and the gallant little advance party knew that their supports had come into action. Colonel Sartorius entered the town from the north, and after a slight engagement, in which four of the ruffians were killed, the town was cleared of the armed rabble which had held it.

Along with Twet Nga Lu were taken six notable captains, the chief of whom was Hkun Sang Möng Cheng, his most[186] trusted bravo, for years a terror to the hillside for his cruelty. He and Twet Nga Lu were famous for their powers of tattooing and charming, and all of them were universally believed to be proof against bullet or steel. Mr. Scott decided to let the Möngnai Sawbwa try them, all except Twet Nga Lu, according to Shan custom. The Sawbwa sentenced them to death, and after the Superintendent had considered and confirmed the sentence, they were shot on a crowded market-day in Möngnai, by a firing-party of Beleuchi Rifles. The executions were carried out in the presence of British officers and with every regard to humanity and decency. No greater scoundrels have ever met with a more deserved punishment. "All these malefactors," records the Superintendent, "were charmed against bullet and sword wound, and news of their death spread like wildfire throughout the States, and has done much to reform previously incorrigible murderers."

Twet Nga Lu himself was sent into Fort Stedman, presumably as being too noted a personage to be dealt with by a Sawbwa. The Shan States, on the annexation of Upper Burma, had been swept into the net and were constituted a part of British India before accurate information had been gained of their political conditions and their relations to the King's Government. On this account there were technical difficulties in the way of a trial by the Superintendent. The Chief Commissioner's orders to the Assistant Superintendent were in these words: "As to the prisoners, including Twet Nga Lu, send such as are Siamese subjects or natives of doubtful States in custody to Fort Stedman; make over natives of British Shan States to Möngnai Sawbwa for trial and punishment according to Shan custom—but do not allow any cruel or barbarous punishments. Take care that Twet Nga Lu does not effect his escape. If the Möngnai Sawbwa sentences any prisoner to death for an offence other than murder, suspend execution until you get orders on this point." Mr. Hildebrand was instructed therefore to send Twet Nga Lu back to Möngnai to be tried by the Sawbwa. On the way he attempted to escape, and was shot by the Beleuchi guard escorting him. The men returned to Fort Stedman and reported what had happened, saying that they had buried him on the spot.


It was desired to verify this statement, as there might have been trouble if the brigand had escaped, or even if the Shans had not believed him to have been killed. Unfortunately Mr. Scott, who was at Möngnai, was too unwell to go to the place, and did not visit it for some time. When he was able to go he found the marks of a very shallow hole, but no human remains of any kind except a long lock of hair, which might have been Twet Nga Lu's. The Shans, however, all believed that Twet Nga Lu was dead, and there was no reason to discredit the report of the Beleuchi sepoys.

All doubt on this point was removed afterwards. The scene of the brigand's death was in the wooded hills which border Möngpawn. The day after he was shot a party of Shans from Möngpawn disinterred, or rather lifted, the corpse from its shallow grave, and shook off the loose earth. The head was cut off, shaved, and sent to Möngnai, and exhibited there at the north, south, east, and west gates of the town during the absence of the Assistant Superintendent at Fort Stedman. The various talismans were removed from the trunk and limbs. Such charms are generally small coins or pieces of metal, which are inserted under the skin. These would be doubly prized as having been enshrined in the flesh of so noted a leader, and no doubt were eagerly bought up. The body was then boiled down, and a concoction known to the Shans as Mahè Si was obtained, which is an unfailing charm against all kinds of wounds. So valuable a "medicine" did not long remain in the hands of the poor, and soon found its way into some princely medicine-chest. The value attached to the fat of the tiger, and the demand for it by men of greater culture than the Shans could or can boast, are known to all Indian sportsmen. Such was the end of Twet Nga Lu. It was certainly, so far as the body is concerned, most complete.



It has been told how Mr. Scott was on his way to Mawkmai, when Twet Nga Lu's enterprise caused him to turn his course to Möngnai. He now returned to the original object of his expedition, namely, the expulsion of the Karennis from Mawkmai and the restoration of the Sawbwa Hkun Hmon, whom they had expelled. He reached Mawkmai with the force under Colonel Sartorius on the 16th of May, 1888, and found that the Karennis had not awaited his coming. Mawkmai was occupied, and Sawbwa Hkun Hmon reinstated. Colonel Sartorius returned to Fort Stedman with the main portion of his command, leaving, in accordance with the instructions given to him, a hundred and fifty rifles, under Lieutenant Fowler, at Mawkmai, which was considered to be the most fitting post for the civil officer and his escort.

Mawkmai being only a long march of twenty-five miles from Möngnai, a detachment of twenty-five rifles was thought enough to support the Sawbwa, and in June, Hkun Hmon reported that the Karennis had quitted his country. All seemed to have settled down. The Superintendent did not hesitate, therefore, to call Mr. Scott to Fort Stedman for various business matters. Mr. Scott reached Fort Stedman on the 28th of June, and reported that all was well. Lieutenant Fowler was at that time in Mawkmai. On the 1st of July he moved his headquarters to Möngnai, leaving the detachment of twenty-five rifles to garrison Mawkmai. The Karennis, it may be presumed, were watching his movements, for on the 3rd of July, in the evening, a body of Karennis attempted to rush the town. They were repulsed, but[189] kept up a fire on the defenders until long after dark. The twenty-five Beleuchis, seconded by the Sawbwa and his armed rabble, returned the fire and inflicted some loss on the enemy, who had withdrawn to a short distance. Considering it unsafe, after this experience, to leave Mawkmai with so small a detachment, Lieutenant Fowler moved his headquarters back to that place.

The monsoon was now in full force. With roads of the most primitive kind and swollen rivers, rapid travelling was difficult. Mr. Scott left Fort Stedman as soon as the news of what had happened reached him. Leaving his baggage to make what speed it could, he rode on and arrived at Mawkmai half-starved and dressed in some Shan garments which he had borrowed on the way to replace his dripping clothes, only to find that the fighting was over. Lieutenant Fowler, learning that the enemy had taken up a position within a day's march of Mawkmai, went straight for them, carried their entrenchments at the point of the bayonet, and drove them out with a loss to them of sixty men. This experience ought to have diminished the arrogance of Sawlapaw. He was very little moved by it. He wrote on the 13th of July in the most royal style, requesting the withdrawal of British troops from Mawkmai lest they should be "accidentally harmed" by his men when he attacked Hkun Hmon. This letter was returned to Sawlapaw's messengers by the Chief Commissioner's orders. A letter written in August, in which he explained his claims against Mawkmai, and asserted that he did not know the relations of that State to the British Government, was dealt with in the same way. Both these letters were written in a style that was inconsistent with the position of the Karenni chief, and they meant defiance.

In July, 1888, the matter was referred to the Government of India, and their sanction was received in August to demand from Sawlapaw compensation for the damage done to Mawkmai and securities for his future good behaviour, and to enforce these demands if they were not complied with.

In September, as the Karenni chief showed no signs of yielding, or willingness to meet Mr. Hildebrand, the[190] Chief Commissioner prepared and placed in the Superintendent's hands an ultimatum in the following terms: Sawlapaw was required firstly to come in to Fort Stedman, and there make in person his submission as a chief subordinate to the Queen-Empress. Secondly, to pay an indemnity of two lakhs of rupees to cover the damage done to Mawkmai and the cost of the expedition sent to relieve that State; thirdly, to surrender five hundred serviceable muskets; lastly, to covenant to pay annually a tribute of five thousand rupees to the British Government. This ultimatum was placed in the Superintendent's (Mr. Hildebrand's) hands, but he was instructed to withhold it until November, and meanwhile to endeavour by all possible means to persuade Sawlapaw to come to terms.

In October it seemed as if the Karenni chief was beginning to have some misgivings. He adopted a tone of humility and apology, which led Mr. Hildebrand to hope for a peaceful ending. To make it easier for him, a reduction of the indemnity and of the number of the guns to be surrendered was allowed to Sawlapaw if he made his personal submission without delay. Later on, at Mr. Hildebrand's request, the Chief Commissioner allowed Mawkmai to be substituted for Fort Stedman as the place to which the chief should come, so that he should have a very short distance to travel beyond his own borders. On November 16th, as the obstinate chief showed no signs of yielding, the ultimatum was despatched. On the 17th a letter was received by the Superintendent bearing the date of November 5th. This letter, which had been written in a much more friendly tone, had been delayed en route. In it Sawlapaw proposed that Mr. Hildebrand should meet him at Loikaw on December 14th, accompanied "by a small escort," so that the people "should not be alarmed." "The reason," he added, "why I propose Loikaw is that at present I am like a mother with her child in her arms; she has to be with it always in order to prevent it crying; my people will feel my absence if I go to Fort Stedman." Mr. Hildebrand was permitted to accede to this request, provided Sawlapaw brought with him the two lakhs of rupees and the five hundred muskets required by the ultimatum. As an alternative the chief was told that if before the 14th of December he sent in the money and arms to Fort Stedman, to prove his good faith, the date for his personal submission at Loikaw would be postponed to the 1st of January, 1889. These concessions, which were made in the hope of avoiding a conflict, led to nothing except, perhaps, the hardening of Sawlapaw's heart. To leave the shelter of his own territory, and present himself before a foreign potentate whom he is conscious of having offended, was a hard thing to ask of a half-civilized ruler. But there was no evidence that Sawlapaw had any honest intention of submitting. He was said on all sides to be preparing to resist us. It is just possible that if the Superintendent had been allowed further latitude he might have persuaded the Karenni to make some sort of apology. To the Chief Commissioner it appeared absolutely necessary, as an example, to insist on open and unmistakable personal submission.

Group of Red Karens.


During all these negotiations, preparations for the expedition had been going on. It was expected that the main strength of Sawlapaw's resistance would be on his northern boundary. He would in all likelihood raid the districts of Lower Burma on his south; or, if he were hard pressed, he might try to escape in that direction, or he might cross into his own territory on the east of the Salween. It was settled, therefore, that there should be two columns. The main force, which was to make the real attack and to occupy Sawlôn, the capital of Eastern Karenni, was to concentrate at Saga, thirty-six miles south of Fort Stedman, on the 27th of December. The other was to travel up by the Salween viâ Papun, and march on Bawlaké in Western Karenni. Its duty was to cover the districts of Lower Burma, and at the same time to distract the attention of the enemy and also prevent his retreat southward. The command of this force was given to Colonel Harvey. To meet any attempt on Sawlapaw's part to escape eastward, a suggestion made by the British representative at Bangkok that the Siamese might be asked to co-operate had been accepted in August, and no further measure in this direction was thought necessary.

With Colonel Harvey were one hundred rifles of the Cheshire Regiment and one hundred and fifty rifles of[192] the 8th Madras Infantry. Fifty rifles of the latter regiment had been advanced to Papun early in November, and the frontier posts of that district, which were held by Gurkha and Karen (Lower Burma) police, were reinforced. At the same time, in order to bring pressure to bear upon Sawlapaw and the Karennis, who depend to a large extent on imported food, a blockade was established and all exports from British territories stopped.

On the 7th of December Mr. Hildebrand reported that the Mawkmai Sawbwa had received letters from Sawlapaw announcing his intention to fight. On the 10th of December he telegraphed from Mobye that there was no hope of a peaceful solution. Lest an advance from the south should endanger a settlement, Colonel Harvey had been held back by the Chief Commissioner's orders. On the receipt of Mr. Hildebrand's telegram from Mobye, he was ordered to cover the frontier of the Salween district, arranging to reach Bawlaké on the date on which the Northern Column hoped to occupy Sawlôn. Colonel Harvey arrived at Papun on the 19th of December. Two days previously Kyaukhnyat, a village on the Salween River north-east of Papun, was attacked by a considerable number of Karennis. The village was burnt and the bazaar plundered under the eyes of the police, who were content to defend their own post. The delay, intended to avoid bloodshed, resulted, as often happens, in encouraging the enemy to strike the first blow. Another post was also attacked about the same time. As a precaution Colonel Harvey was strengthened by the addition of fifty British and one hundred Madras Rifles, and moved from Papun to Bawlaké on the 26th of December. Pazaung, a stockade held by Karennis, was taken without difficulty, and as that place offered a favourable position for covering the frontier of Lower Burma, Colonel Harvey remained there until he heard of the occupation of Sawlôn. The bulk of his column then returned to their quarters, leaving some Madras Rifles to strengthen the police outposts for a time.

The Northern Column was commanded by Brigadier-General H. Collett, C.B. It was composed of the following troops:—

2 guns, No. 1 Mountain Battery, Bengal.
[193]100 rifles, 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade.
250 rifles, 1st Beluchi Light Infantry.
4 signallers and 40 Mounted Infantry, Rifle Brigade.
70 Mounted Infantry, 1st Beluchi Light Infantry.
25 Queen's Own, sappers and miners, with medical and commissariat staff.

On the 19th of December final orders were communicated to Mr. Hildebrand by wire. They prescribed the course to be followed in each of the possible cases that might arise, while at the same time allowing him a wide discretion in arranging the details. The main points on which the Chief Commissioner insisted were that the East Karenni chief should make his submission in an unmistakable fashion, and give substantial guarantees for his future good conduct. Accordingly, whether Sawlapaw met Mr. Hildebrand at Loikaw or not, the Superintendent, with the column, was to proceed to Sawlôn, and there arrange the conditions on which he was to retain his position as a feudatory chief, of which open personal submission was the most essential.

The instructions then proceeded as follows: "If your march is opposed by armed force, the nature of the measures to be taken will be a military question, to be decided by the officer commanding; except on purely military grounds of urgent necessity, the Chief Commissioner does not wish villages to be burnt; in no case must villages be sacked. Your object should be to show the people that our quarrel is not with them, but with Sawlapaw. Loikaw should not be destroyed, unless the officer commanding thinks it necessary on military grounds. You should remain at Sawlôn till the future administration is settled. If you are forced to turn out Sawlapaw, it will be necessary for you to stay there till you receive the Chief Commissioner's orders on your recommendations; this may involve delay, but it cannot be avoided. It is desirable to humble Sawlapaw, and ensure his peaceful behaviour in future; but very undesirable to cause him to fly and leave the country in confusion. The object is to keep him in a friendly, subordinate alliance. You have liberty, if he submits, to mitigate the terms to such extent as you may think necessary to secure his future friendship, and to let[194] him see that we have no desire to harm him. If he does not submit, it will be necessary to punish him."

The terms and tenor of these orders will suffice to show that although the Chief Commissioner had little expectation of the peaceful settlement still hoped for by Mr. Hildebrand, he was anxious to avoid a conflict. It appeared to him that further delays and concessions could only result in encouraging Karenni arrogance, and would be misunderstood by others. There were military reasons, moreover, for finishing the business quickly and letting the troops return from the field.

General Collett, having assembled his force at Saga, left that place on the 29th for Sawlôn, Sawlapaw's capital. His route lay by Loikaw. As far as Nga Kaing, a village one march from that place, a good road had been cleared and bridged by the Sawbwa of Yawnghwè, the Myoza of Saga, and in that portion of it which passed through Sawlapaw's territory by Karennis acting under the instructions of the Mobye Sawbwa. On the part of the peasantry there was no enmity towards us.

The road for some way before reaching Nga Kaing passed through scrub jungle, which gave an enemy every chance of annoying the troops. Nothing, however, occurred, and on the 1st of January, 1889, the force debouched into the wide open paddy plain of Karenni without being molested. While the camp was being pitched, the Beleuchi Scouts, who were exploring some wooded ground near the village, were fired upon. They were immediately joined by the Beleuchi Mounted Infantry, under Lieutenant Tighe. The enemy, driven through the wood and compelled to break cover, attempted to make for the high ground; but, our men getting between them and the hills, forced them into the plain. They numbered two or three hundred, most of them Shans under two of Sawlapaw's officials, and were not without courage. Several times they turned and stood to face their pursuers; but, ill-armed and without discipline, they had not a chance. The threescore of Mounted Infantry broke them up, rode them down, and drove them almost up to Loikaw, eight miles distant, inflicting heavy loss. Some of them, seeing escape to be hopeless, turned fiercely on their enemies, and the Beleuchis lost four killed and seven wounded in the pursuit.


There was little chance for a combatant soldier to gain distinction against such a foe. Captain Crimmin, of the Indian Medical Service (Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel John Crimmin, V.C., C.I.E.), was awarded a Victoria Cross for gallantry in this action.

General Collett pressed on at once with a portion of his force, in order to complete the rout. He reached Loikaw after dark, and found it deserted.

Loikaw consisted of two parts, inhabited by two separate communities, the one of Shans, the other of Karens. The latter was quite deserted. But the Shans sent out a mission with green leaves, the equivalent of a flag of truce, to welcome our people, and did what they could to make the bivouac on the ground north of the village comfortable for them. Thus the night of New Year's Day saw General Collett with Mr. Hildebrand and a part of the force occupying Loikaw, while the remainder of the troops and the baggage were in the rear at Nga Kaing. On the next day, the 2nd of January, General Collett halted, to allow the rest of the column and the baggage to come up. The difficulty of moving even five hundred men in this country, destitute as it was of supplies for British and Indian soldiers, and equally destitute of roads, was great. The transport bullocks numbered thirteen hundred; there were ponies and elephants and camp followers innumerable. The 3rd of January was taken up in getting the column ferried across a stream named the Balu, which runs below Loikaw, and is eighty yards wide and unfordable.

While the soldiers were thus occupied the Superintendent used the delay to distribute a proclamation issued by the Chief Commissioner, explaining why the force had entered the Karenni country, and promising that the peaceful inhabitants should suffer no harm. The result of this was that some of the elders came in to ask for flags or other tokens which they might use to show that their villages were not hostile. The peasants generally had left their homes, they said, and fled to the hills, and would not return unless they had some assurance of safety. Mr. Hildebrand, therefore, having found in the baggage some red cloth, made flags and gave them to the elders for distribution. Before the evening of the 3rd people were returning in numbers to[196] their homes, and applications for red flags came in from all sides. When the force continued its march flags were found placed on the paths leading up to villages from the main track.

Sawlôn was found to be four marches from Loikaw. On the 4th General Collett began to move, and encamped at Kawpiti, where trees had been felled and thrown across the road, and the advance-guard of Mounted Infantry was fired on. Our men replied, and the enemy, having suffered some loss, retreated. Some villagers came up with a red flag to warn our men that the jungle on either side of the road had been spiked, as Sawlapaw had taken measures to oppose us. The warning was useful, and only one pony was injured.

On the 5th the ferry on the Pon Chaung River, at a place called Tilanga, was reached. There had been no opposition hitherto, but directly the scouts appeared on the river bank fire was opened on them from the other side, a distance of one hundred and fifty yards. There was a village on the far bank from which the shots came. Our men returned the fire, but, as it seemed, with no effect. The guns were brought up, and two shells were dropped into the village, and set it on fire. All resistance then ended; but the river had to be crossed. Empty rum casks had been brought with the force, and the sappers began to make rafts. The river, however, was deep and rapid, and the attempt to cross the force on rafts had to be given up. The enemy had removed and concealed their boats. A close search was made for them, and six or seven were discovered. A ford at some little distance was found practicable for elephants, and amongst the Shans who followed the force sufficient skilled boatmen were found to man the boats. On the next day, the 6th of January, General Collett began to cross his men, and by the evening the whole force was on the other side of the Pon Chaung. The elephants and boatmen were exhausted, and could do no more that day, while all the commissariat bullocks and their loads still remained to be brought across the stream.

On the 7th, leaving a guard for the bullocks and baggage which had not crossed, the main force pushed on. The road now became very difficult. It narrowed down to a[197] steep path, on the east side of which rose abruptly a range of rocky hills, on the west side ran the Pon Chaung, with its tangled jungle, affording the best of cover to an enemy. The ascent was sometimes severe. Small parties of the enemy were concealed on the slopes of the hills at short distances, and occasional shots were fired from the opposite bank of the river. An enemy with more knowledge or better arms might have made the advance very difficult. As it was, the hillsides on our left had to be searched and cleared before the main body could pass. It was dusk before Sakangyi, about six miles from the last bivouac, was reached. The casualties were one man in the Rifle Brigade killed and one wounded; two Beleuchis severely wounded; and Surgeon Manders shot through the thigh.

During the night the baggage came slowly in. The last bullock was not in camp until several hours after sunrise. The enemy made no attempt to annoy the baggage or the rear-guard. Leaving on the 8th, as soon as the men had breakfasted and the rear-guard was in camp, the force worked its way on in the same manner as on the day before. Firing went on incessantly, but the flanking parties of Beleuchis did their work perfectly. The woods within range were thoroughly beaten and cleared of the enemy, and the force passed through the defile (capturing two guns, both mounted on carriages, on the hilltop) and entered the more open country without a casualty.

Sawlôn was now in view. The Beleuchis, under Colonel Sartorius (Colonel George Conrad, C.B.), were sent forward at once to occupy the town, which stands on a plateau some three hundred feet above the river. It was found to be quite deserted. The rest of the column encamped on the bank of the river below.

It may be well here to give some account of Sawlôn, the capital of the Red Karen country, as it was in January, 1889. It stands on some high ground about a mile to the east of the Pon Chaung. The hills at this point rise by three steps, the first and second of which open out into two small plateaux. The town is on the first step. To those looking at it as the force left the defile, it appeared to consist of a few huts. On ascending the hill, however, it was found to be well laid out, and to contain some really[198] fine houses. Three broad streets ran through the town parallel to each other, and were crossed at right angles by connecting roads of lesser width. There was an excellent water-supply. A stream from the plateau above the town had been led down the face of an almost perpendicular rock, and formed a very picturesque waterfall. On reaching the level it flowed through the town from east to west. The channel which carried the main supply was substantially bridged in each of the main streets. On both sides of every street in the town were smaller channels, fed from the parent stream. The watercourses were all carefully lined with teak to prevent erosion. Posts with glass lamps stood before the houses of the better class. Here and there in the main street a perambulator was seen standing, where it had been left when the people fled. A box in Sawlapaw's storehouse was found full of babies' bottles, together with a very large stock of arrowroot. Evidently the younger generation of the Karennis inclined towards the luxuries of the West.

The chief, however, was said to stand on the ancient ways, rarely quitting his house, except to climb to his paddy-fields above the town, which he worked with his own hands like an ordinary peasant. His haw, or palace, however, gave some signs of his rank—a large old rambling house of teak, inside a teak palisade, with a smaller house for his wife in the same enclosure; a stable close by, with loose-boxes for four ponies, well built of teak, with iron-barred windows, and raised about three feet above the ground. Teak timber, which formed the wealth of the State, was lying about everywhere. The road leading up from the river to the town was littered with fine logs. It seemed that there would be little difficulty in recovering the indemnity demanded from Sawlapaw. Near the palace was an immense timber-yard with four sheds; in each shed were four saws. The yard was full of timber sawn and in the rough. The converted timber was methodically stacked in wooden frames round the yard, each frame containing the same cubic measurement of timber, so that there was no need to count the pieces. The palace was by no means the finest house in the town; that of Sawlawi, the Kya Maing, or heir-apparent, was especially good. A monastery[199] and a rest-house, of great solidity and excellent workmanship, with very good carving, stood a little way off.

With the occupation of Sawlôn the active military operations ended. The work of Mr. Hildebrand was only now beginning, and it was difficult and perplexing. Sawlapaw had disappeared, and if the people knew his whereabouts, none would tell. Little was known of the inner politics of the Karenni State. If the old chief chose to hide himself and let the case go against him by default, who was to be appointed in his room? It will be remembered that in the instructions given to Mr. Hildebrand, the possibility of having to supersede Sawlapaw was contemplated, and Mr. Hildebrand was definitely told that he was to remain in Sawlôn until the future administration had been settled and the Chief Commissioner's orders received. In a private letter the Chief Commissioner wrote: "In the alternative of Sawlapaw running away and leaving the country without a governor, you must find some one to take his place. I do not want Karenni left on my own hands. You have had so much practice in king-making that I need say no more."

Mr. Hildebrand's difficulties were much increased by the announcement of the General in command, that the column must leave Sawlôn on the 23rd of January, to return to Fort Stedman, as the rations were insufficient for a longer stay. The task before him was no easy one in any case. That he should be able to effect a settlement of Karenni affairs in a fortnight was too much to hope. There was a risk that the object of the expedition might be frustrated, and that the work would have to be done over again. General Collett consented to send for a supply of rations to meet the column at Mobye, to enable him to remain at Sawlôn until the 30th of January. It is not known on whom the responsibility rested for arrangements which might easily have made the expedition fruitless.

There was no possibility of laying the matter before the Chief Commissioner and obtaining his orders. Mr. Hildebrand, therefore, took the risk on himself and set to work at once to find Sawlapaw if possible; failing that, to select some one in his room. As a first step a[200] proclamation was issued calling upon Sawlapaw to appear before the 18th of January, and stating that if he did not come in a successor would be appointed to take charge of his State pending the Chief Commissioner's orders. At the same time the people generally were invited to come to Sawlôn to confer with Mr. Hildebrand and advise him on the choice of the man to be appointed, in case Sawlapaw did not appear.

Meanwhile it was as well to acquire some knowledge of the feelings of the people. The Superintendent's camp was moved up to the (Pongyi Kyaung) monastery, and by constant intercourse with monks and people their confidence was won, and an idea of the causes that had led to Sawlapaw's flight was formed. The disaster suffered by his men at Nga Kaing village on the 1st of January had convinced Sawlapaw that further opposition to our advance was hopeless. But there was a war party in the State of which one Naw Maing of Loikaw was the head. The measures taken to resist the force were the work of this party. On the 5th of January the smoke of the Tilanga village on the Pon Chaung was seen at Sawlôn. The chief then made up his mind. He told those who wished to remain to do as they pleased. For himself he would leave Sawlôn and would never come back. He took his wife and a few followers, and, forbidding any one else to come after him, he went to the upper plateau above the town, where he had another house, and was not seen again in Sawlôn. No one would tell whither he went.

Thereupon the Shan villagers (there was a Shan community in Sawlôn) went to the Pongyi and moved him to head a deputation to the officers with the British force. On the morning of the 6th, with two red flags and the customary green boughs, the party set out to meet the British who were expected to arrive at Sawlôn that day. When they did not arrive, thinking the delay was on account of Sunday, the deputation returned to the town. On the evening of the 6th General Collett's force was encamped beside the Pon Chaung. A few Beleuchi Mounted Infantry Scouts were sent on to reconnoitre the road. At the entry of the defile they[201] were fired on by some Karennis, and one of the ponies was killed. They retreated without stopping to recover the saddle. The Karennis, taking the saddle from the dead pony, went back to Sawlôn in triumph, displaying their spoil and declaring that the enemy were few in number and had retreated. This put new spirit into the war party, and the peace deputation dissolved. On the 7th, when it was reported that the British were advancing in force, every one left the town, and it was found deserted, as has been already told. In two or three days, however, most of the people, Shans and Karens, had returned to their homes.

There appeared to be little chance of inducing Sawlapaw to make his appearance. The day fixed for Sawlapaw's surrender was the 18th of January. On the 17th a deputation representing the chief men of three of the largest communities came to Mr. Hildebrand and begged for further days of grace and a written safe-conduct for Sawlapaw. Both requests were granted. Furthermore, a promise was given that if he would come in and fulfil the conditions of the ultimatum, he would be confirmed in his position as head of the Karenni State. The date for the appearance of Sawlapaw, or, failing this, the election of his successor, was postponed until the 25th.

Mr. Hildebrand was assured that the Kya Maing, or heir-apparent, who was a nephew of Sawlapaw, would appear as a candidate for election. The 25th, the 26th, and the 27th passed, but no Kya Maing. The long-suffering patience of the Superintendent was exhausted. Fate, in the form of commissariat supplies, demanded a settlement before the 30th. Just as arrangements were being made for an election, a note was brought in from the Kya Maing to the effect that he was on his way to Sawlôn from his hiding-place in the jungle, but had broken down, footsore and weary. He promised to appear on the next day. As the people earnestly besought that his prayer might be granted, and as it was evident to the Superintendent that this man, as heir to Sawlapaw and acceptable to the people, was the right man to take charge of the State, and as moreover one of the wealthiest men in the State gave security to the amount of Rs. 20,000[202] that he would produce the Kya Maing, the proceedings were postponed until the morrow.

The remaining time had now dwindled to twenty-four hours, and the 28th of January was a day of anxiety for Mr. Hildebrand. It was a relief when the arrival of the Kya Maing was put beyond doubt. He made his appearance at an early hour, a man (by name Sawlawi) of about thirty-eight years of age, intelligent-looking, and evidently popular in Karenni. The election was held at noon. There were twenty-nine electors, of whom six were Heins, or chiefs of divisions, four were the chiefs or representatives of the Western Karenni States subject to Sawlapaw, the rest were headmen of villages or groups of villages, and traders in timber and other goods, many of whom were men of wealth and influence. Each man gave his vote, with the result that Sawlawi was unanimously elected.

Fourteen of the wealthy electors entered into a joint bond to pay the compensation of two lakhs and the five hundred muskets specified in the ultimatum, and a further sum of one lakh as war indemnity; the money to be paid before the end of December into the Moulmein Treasury, and the muskets to be lodged in Fort Stedman before the end of the following March. The order of appointment given by Mr. Hildebrand to Sawlawi was as follows:—

"I, the Superintendent of the Shan States, hereby appoint you, Sawlawi, Kya Maing, to be Chief of the State of Eastern Karenni, on the following conditions:—

"1. That you shall govern your State in accordance with established custom, and as a tributary to the British Queen whom you acknowledge to be your Suzerain.

"2. That you shall enter into no negotiations, treaties, or agreements with any other State than that of England.

"3. That you shall pay as tribute the sum of Rs. 5,000 yearly.

"4. That you will in all matters obey the orders of the Superintendent of the Shan States.

"5. That in case of dispute with Siam about territory east of the Salween, you will refer the matter to the Superintendent of the Shan States for arbitration.


"6. That no Shan, or Burman, or British subjects of any race shall be detained in any part of Eastern Karenni against their will, but that they shall have free liberty to go where they please.

"Given under my hand and seal this 29th day of January, 1889.

"A. H. Hildebrand,
"Superintendent of Shan States."
Sawlaw:—Gantarawadi Sawbwa.
(Red Karens.)

The sixth clause was inserted to provide for the abolition of slavery. It will be noted that the terms of the order did not make the State of Eastern Karenni part of British India. Experience of the difficulties arising from the position of the Shan States as part of British India, and of the absence of such difficulties in the case of the feudatory States of the Central Provinces, induced the Chief Commissioner to leave the Eastern Karenni State in the position of a feudatory chiefship.

The fifth clause needs explanation. It has been told above (p. 191) that a suggestion made by the British Representative at Bangkok for inviting Siamese co-operation had been acted upon. At the time no hint had been given by the Siamese, so far as was known to the Administration of Burma, that they had ulterior views, or claims to advance. It was supposed, naïvely perhaps, that as a friendly nation, anxious on many grounds to ensure the protection of Great Britain, they had agreed to act partly to help the British Government, partly to protect their own border. It was not until the 10th of November, 1888, that Mr. Gould, H.M.'s Representative at Bangkok, intimated that in return for their co-operation the Siamese would probably wish to establish their territorial rights over the Karenni possessions lying east of the Salween. That was the first notice of the Siamese intentions which reached the Chief Commissioner, and he had dispatched his ultimatum to Sawlapaw before its receipt. Mr. Gould was informed that the ultimatum could not be altered to include the Siamese claims. At the same time Mr. Hildebrand was instructed to reserve those claims in his settlement with Sawlapaw. Hence the insertion of the fifth clause in the order of appointment given to Sawlawi.

As a matter of fact, the Siamese co-operation was purely[204] nominal and valueless, too late to be of any use. On the 11th of December Bangkok was informed that the columns from the Shan States and Papun would reach Sawlôn about the 7th of January. On the 28th of December the Vice-Consul at Chiengmai was told of the attack by the Karennis on the police post at Kyaukhnyat, and was asked to move the Siamese to act. On the 10th of January the result of the fight near Loikaw was telegraphed to Bangkok and Chiengmai. On the 17th they were informed of the occupation of Sawlôn. While Mr. Hildebrand was arranging matters after the occupation, a detachment of troops went to reconnoitre Ywathit, a village on the right bank of the Salween, about thirty miles south of Sawlôn. From Ywathit a party went out to see the Salween, some three miles away. This was on the 20th of January. On the evening of that day the advance-guard of the Siamese force appeared on the east bank of the Salween, at the mouth of the Mèpai Chaung, and the officer commanding this party was visited by the Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Barnard, on the 21st of January. It was known from the Vice-Consul at Chiengmai that the Siamese had taken no action until the middle of January. This, however, is a digression.

On the day following the election, a Durbar was held in a large hall in the rest-house in the grounds of the monastery, near which the Superintendent had pitched his camp. The place was well fitted for the occasion and was more ornate than one would have expected to find in the wilds of Karenni. A spacious chamber "built of the best sawn teak with venetians and folding doors of good workmanship, and a floor which might have been made for a ball-room, the whole," writes the Superintendent, "both inside and out being very highly finished with panelling and carving and gilding." Here the notables, who had met for the election of the new chief, and all the townspeople assembled, and the Superintendent (as the Representative of the British Government), supported by the General commanding and all the officers of the force, opened the Durbar. A broad, sturdy figure of a man, with a face that bore the marks of work and climate, a determined man, patient and considerate, but nevertheless a man accustomed to be obeyed. There were no bright uniforms, no show of gold[205] or scarlet. Civil and military were all in the working-dress of the field, soiled and stained with dust and sweat; for the last few marches through the wooded defile of the Pon Chaung had been very toilsome. Amongst the Shans and Karens assembled, some spots of gay colour might be seen, and smart white jackets here and there.

In a few words the causes which had led to the expedition were explained and the consequences, namely, the subordination of the Karenni chief to the British Government, and the payment by him of an indemnity. This might be unpleasant to some of them. On the other hand, to the Karenni people at large, it meant a better government, the cessation of raids and petty wars, the extension and protection of trade, and undisturbed peace. The order of appointment (provisional, as subject to the Chief Commissioner's approval), was then read and given to Sawlawi. Thus the Karenni territory, which had been hitherto independent and had been protected by us from the designs of Burma, became practically part of the Empire. It may be noted that Mr. Hildebrand acted as the Representative of the British Government on both occasions. On the first, when he secured the independence of Karenni by negotiation with the Burmese King; on the second, when he made Karenni subordinate to the Government of India.

What was the first use made of his new power by Sawlawi? His first thought was to rid his territory east of the Salween of the Siamese troops now occupying it. The Superintendent gave him letters to the Siamese commander, announcing the fall of Sawlapaw and the appointment of Kya Maing Sawlawi in his place; informing him that matters had been arranged with the Karennis, that the British force was withdrawing on the 30th of January, and that Siamese co-operation was no longer necessary. At the same time the Vice-Consul at Chiengmai was asked to use his influence to procure the immediate recall of the Siamese troops.

On the 30th of January the British troops left Karenni and marched back to Fort Stedman. Sawlawi was left to his own resources. Prophets of evil had foretold the immediate reappearance of Sawlapaw and the vengeance to be executed on his successor and his supporters. Excited[206] journalists published tales in Rangoon of wholesale executions in Sawlôn under the old chief's orders. As a matter of fact, the ex-Sawbwa never attempted to disturb the Settlement, and the new Sawbwa, Sawlawi, carried out his engagements punctually. The indemnity was paid and the fire-arms surrendered. To the day of his death, in 1907, he governed his people in an upright and capable manner.

It must be confessed there was some risk in leaving the country the day after Sawlawi's instalment. The Chief Commissioner's instructions were clear that the Superintendent should remain in Sawlôn until he received orders on his proposals. Mr. Hildebrand, however, had no choice, and the risk had to be taken, because of the defective arrangements for feeding the troops, which made it impossible to stay. In taking the responsibility he did his duty well. The only difficulty in Eastern Karenni arose from the action of the Siamese Government in continuing to occupy the territory east of the Salween, which had been long held by the Karens, was vital to them, and had never been in the possession of the Siamese.

This was a matter which threatened at any moment to disturb the peace and gave anxiety to those responsible for maintaining it. The first act of Sawlawi, as has been said, after his appointment was to ask the assistance of the Superintendent to procure the withdrawal of the Siamese from the territory east of the Salween. The British Vice-Consul at Chiengmai and the Siamese officer in command of their troops were notified that peace had been made and that the British troops were leaving the field; the withdrawal of the Siamese was therefore necessary. The Siamese claims had been reserved for settlement in the terms of Sawlawi's appointment. The Chief Commissioner prohibited the Karenni chief from attacking or making any forcible resistance to them. When month after month passed and they made no show of retiring, but on the contrary began to appropriate the timber and even the elephants of the Karenni traders, the local Government of Burma was placed in a very uncomfortable position. Sawlawi urged that he had accepted our terms, made his submission and acknowledged himself to be the subordinate of the Queen-Empress. He looked in return for the advantage[207] of British protection; apparently he was not to have it. He knew well enough that it only needed a firm order and a small display of force to cause the retirement of the Siamese with more alacrity than they had displayed in their advance. Why was nothing done? If he began to doubt our good faith, it was no wonder.

As a matter of fact—a fact to him unknown, and unintelligible if it had been known—the Chief Commissioner could do nothing but put the case to the Government of India. This was done in as strong words as possible. The Government of India could do nothing except through the Secretary of State; the Secretary of State could not act except through the British Foreign Office; the Foreign Office was obliged to work through the Siamese Embassy in London and the British Resident in Bangkok; the King of Siam had to consult his local lieutenants at Chiengmai. The situation demanded patience, and much of it.

It has been said above that the territory occupied by the Siamese was vital to the Karennis. Their best and most extensive forests, the main source of their wealth, lay there. The only way of getting timber to the market from the forests was (and is) by floating it down the Salween, the mouth of which is in British territory opposite to Moulmein. The logs are stopped and collected at Kado, a short distance from the mouth of the river, and a duty levied by the Government of Burma. Every owner of timber has his stamp with which he marks his logs, and a register of these stamps is kept by the forest officer. The logs which had been seized by the Siamese were easily distinguished, and orders were given to the forest officer to detain them. By this means a check was put upon the rapacity of the Siamese, and the loss of the Karenni timber dealers restricted. In the course of time, the matter was arranged between the Siamese and the Foreign Office, and the Karennis were restored to possession (vide Chapter XVIII, p. 221).

The history of this matter shows the difficulties which the Government of India and their subordinates on the spot meet with in dealing with a boundary dispute, even of a simple kind, with a foreign country. The facts have to be gathered locally and placed before the Government of India, who then have to negotiate through the Foreign Office, with[208] the risk of misunderstanding and the certainty of long delays. It is unavoidable. Fortunately, on the north-western frontier, where the delays and hesitation which caused inconvenience in the disputes with Siam might breed serious trouble, the action of the Government of India is less trammelled.



With the capture of Twet Nga Lu and the subjugation of the Red Karens all serious trouble in the Shan States west of Salween ended. Writing in July, 1890, the Superintendent of the Southern Shan States was able to say:—

"During the year under report, which extends from the beginning of June, 1889, the Shan States have been perfectly quiet. Nowhere have there been any revolts, nowhere any insubordination or sedition; hardly anywhere, except along the frontier with Burma, any dacoities or gang robberies." (Report on the Shan States for 1889-90 by Mr. (now Sir George) Scott.)

Pretenders had become convinced that they could not succeed against the chiefs who had been confirmed in possession by the Sovereign Power, and they settled down to make the best of things. The floating army of ruffians who had supplied the fighting material in past times had disappeared, and contrived to pick up a living in more peaceful ways.

"They make very good show-figures in a Sawbwa's processions, with their tattooing from ankle to throat and their chest and arms bossed all over with armlets and charms let in below the skin. They are also admirable letter-carriers to distant States. They know all roads, they are afraid of nobody, and they seem to be able to trudge from dawn to sunset for an indefinite number of days.... It is certain, however, that the States are infinitely quieter than they have been at any time since the death of King Mindon, and probably quieter than they have been at all." (Ibid.)

The year 1889 therefore offered a good opportunity for attending to Trans-Salween affairs.


Early in this year the question of the frontier line which was to limit our responsibilities eastward was anxiously considered. Some of the States west of the Salween which had already come under our protection held or claimed ground east of the river. There were others lying wholly east of the Salween which had been subject to the dominion of Burma although they had been loosely held. Of these the most important, Kengtung and Kang Hung, held, or claimed to hold, territory east of the Mekong.

It will be easily understood that the Government was not eager to lay hold of more territory than it was bound in honour to accept as the successor of the Burmese dynasty. We had already taken as much as we could administer or garrison with efficiency. Our authority was now definitely established up to the Salween. The country lying between that river and the Mekong was known to be mountainous, unhealthy, and unprofitable, destitute of roads, a succession of steep mountain ranges which made travelling most laborious. To maintain even a handful of troops in that region would be costly. Revenue, there would be none. It was asked where were our responsibilities to end? It was not easily answered. The problem had several sides—the military, the political, and the administrative. From the soldiers' point of view the arguments in favour of making the Salween our eastern boundary had considerable force. The river gave a clear and definite frontier drawn from north to south. The advance of a possible enemy through the country between the Mekong and the Salween could not, from the nature of the ground, be made without much difficulty; whereas the defence would have, in the wide plateau with its rolling prairies on the west of the Salween, an admirable position, with easy communications open to the Irrawaddy Valley.

Looking at the matter, moreover, from a broader point of view, it was doubtful whether the British dominion in India was not outgrowing its strength. In 1886 the annexation of Upper Burma added, roughly, 120,000 square miles to the area for which the Government of India was responsible. Of this, roughly speaking, 20,000 square miles lay across the Salween. Before Upper Burma was added to the Empire it had been argued by a great military authority[211] that if we were seriously threatened by an enemy beyond the frontier of India, it would be necessary to recall the garrison of British Burma and to let that province go for the time. If there were any foundation for this opinion the difficulty in the event supposed would be very much increased by the addition of the new province. For no addition had been made to the army in India since the annexation. There were strong reasons, therefore, for not going a yard farther than was necessary. The advance beyond the Salween meant the inclusion of some 20,000 square miles of very difficult country and the possible neighbourhood of a troublesome power.

In support of the military arguments it was urged that the Salween was designed by nature for a boundary. It cut its way, in a line running almost due north and south, through steep mountains and rocks. It was not navigable in its upper reaches; the mouth and the navigable portion of the river were in our hands. But as a matter of fact, however adapted by its natural formation for such a purpose, the Salween has not been able to limit the spread of any race or power that has settled on its banks. On the north the Chinese hold both banks. The Shans have settled indiscriminately on either side. It proved no obstacle to the extension of the Burmese power to the eastward. In short, so far from having been "an uncompromising natural boundary," as it has been called, it has not been a boundary at all except for a short length of about sixty miles where it divides the Lower Burma Salween district from Siamese territory. Moreover, it is a timber-floating river. The teak cut on either bank must be rafted down to Moulmein; and hence disputes would be sure to arise. Rivers, as a rule, are held to be bad boundaries, and the Salween is no exception.

At first sight the strategical objections to crossing the Salween appeared to derive support from a consideration of the relations to foreign powers which might follow. It was not desired to take any step which might in the near future bring us into contact with France, and thus add a new factor to the frontier problems of our Indian Empire. The Government was even more anxious to avoid action which might give offence to Siam, or have the appearance of want[212] of consideration in our dealings with that somewhat unreasonable power.

Further examination, however, led to a doubt as to the soundness of these views. Supposing that the British Government, influenced by these motives, decided to decline responsibility for these Trans-Salween States, what would become of them? Even Kengtung, the most powerful, could not stand alone. China and Siam might be invited to absorb them, and thus a belt of territory might be placed between our boundary and that of French dominion in Tonquin China. But China, it was believed, had no wish to increase her responsibilities in these regions, where her authority was very weak. Siam might be willing enough, but her rule would be feeble and unstable, and not welcome to the Shans. Both countries on this frontier were more likely to lose than to gain. If, with the view of avoiding the inconveniences that might arise from becoming conterminous with a great Western Power in these distant countries, we should invite Siam or China, or both, to relieve us of the charge of the Trans-Salween country, what security was there that either of these powers would retain the territory given to them? We might be creating the very conditions we wished to avert. The result of a cautious policy of this kind might be to make our dominion conterminous with that of France, not on or beyond the Mekong but on the Salween itself—an intolerable position.

Looking at the matter from an administrative and local point of view, the Chief Commissioner was against stopping short of the frontier claimed by the King of Burma. It was argued that our new subjects, whether in Burma proper or in the Shan States, would not understand such a policy, and that it would have a bad effect on their feelings towards us. We might dignify it by the names of prudence and forbearance; they would ascribe it to fear and weakness. To them we should seem to have lifted a burden too heavy for our strength. We were afraid of going into places which the King had held and prepared for us.

This, however, might be disputed, or treated as a question of sentiment. But the practical objections were evident and insuperable.

The Easternmost Point of the British-Indian Empire.
Reach of the Mé Khong where our boundary marches with French Indo-China.


Looking to the character of the country lying between the Salween and the Mekong, it was certain to be the refuge of all the discontent and outlawry of Burma. Unless it was ruled by a Government not only loyal and friendly to us, but thoroughly strong and efficient, this region would become a base for the operations of every brigand leader like Twet Nga Lu, or pretender such as Saw Yan Naing, where they might muster their followers and hatch their plots to raid British territory when opportunity offered. To those responsible for the peace and order of Burma such a prospect was not pleasant.

These arguments prevailed, and it was decided to accept without flinching the full burden of responsibility which fell on us as standing in the King of Burma's place.

The States east of the Salween which were under the King of Burma came under two categories: those which were governed directly by their own chiefs or Sawbwas, and those which were subordinate parts of certain Cis-Salween States. Kang Hung and Kengtung came in the first class, and were the most important of the Burmese possessions east of the Salween. Their position may be roughly judged by the tribute paid to the King and the contingent they were bound to supply to the royal army. The tribute consisted of gold blossoms and cups, candles, bales of silk, ponies, and embroidered pillows; and it was due not only to the King and the heir-apparent, but to the members of the Hlutdaw, or Cabinet. Kang Hung sent tribute every third year, while Kengtung sent nearly thrice the value every year. The former State furnished a contingent of 2,500 men, half musketeers and half spearmen, and maintained seven posts on the southern frontier of from 60 to 100 men. The latter's contingent was of the same strength; but seven guards, with garrisons of from 50 to 200 men, had to be maintained by Kengtung on the southern frontier.

Kang Hung was the largest in area of the Trans-Salween States connected with Burma. The greater and the richer part lay to the east of the Mekong, and was overlapped on the north-east and east by Chinese territory. It was divided into twelve "panna," or townships, six of which lay on the east and six on the west of the river. The six panna on the east were more under the influence of China[214] than those on the west. Nevertheless, it is said that when Upper Burma was annexed there were no Chinese settlers in the eastern panna, and no interference of any kind by China with the administration of the country. Although in 1885 the King of Burma, in his secret treaty with the French, purported to cede Kang Hung to France, he had lost hold of Kang Hung altogether at that time, and he had no power then or previously to dispose of it without China's consent, although China did not meddle with the local Government.

Kengtung, which adjoins Kang Hung on the south, has had something of a history. About the middle of last century the Siamese invaded it. They were routed, and did not care to try a second venture. Later on it was the first State to revolt against Thebaw's exactions. The people, led by their chief, attacked the Burman Resident, and put him and his escort to the sword. The similar revolt at Möngnai about the same time gave King Thebaw as much as he could do, and Kengtung was left alone. It has been related in Chapter XV how the Shan chieftains met at Kengtung and formed a Confederacy under the Limbin Prince. The chief of Kengtung had intrigued previously with the Myingun Prince with the object of inducing him to be their chief. As he was unable to come, the Limbin Prince was invited to lead. It was not the Burmese dynasty, but the person of King Thebaw they wished to be quit of.

When the Limbin Confederacy dissolved and Möngnai and the leading Cis-Salween States came under the British flag, the Kengtung Sawbwa should have come with them. There were, however, influences which kept him aloof. The chief who had taken the lead against Thebaw had just died. His son, who was Sawbwa in 1888-9, was a mere boy, only thirteen years of age. The country between Kengtung and Möngnai, through which he would have had to pass to meet Mr. Hildebrand, had been much disturbed and was unsafe. It was well known that his father had invited the Myingun Prince to head the revolt against Thebaw. As the party of resistance to British rule in Burma regarded the Myingun as their leader, it was possible that Kengtung might not be welcomed by the British authorities. These apprehensions, however, would have had little force had it not been for Saw Waing, the ex-Sawbwa of Lawksawk, who, with an[215] armed following, had taken refuge in Kengtung, and had obtained much influence over the young chief. If a representative from the Chief Commissioner could have gone immediately to Kengtung he would have submitted at once; for he had no chance of standing alone, and he knew it. But it took time to decide our policy, and determine the course to be followed regarding the easternmost dependencies of Burma. It was not wonderful that the boy-Sawbwa and his advisers should await events.

South of Kengtung, lying partly between it and the Mekong and partly across that river, was a small State called Chieng Kong. This State was believed at the time to be subordinate to Kengtung and to follow the fortunes of the larger State.

The small districts which were formerly governed directly by Burma had been annexed by Kengtung about the time of his revolt against the King. They were not of importance, except that one of them, Hsenyawt, contained the chief ferry over the Salween and included land on both banks of the river. The other, Hsenmawng, was a small circle entirely surrounded by Kengtung land. These two little tracts had in the King's time been administered by Burmese officials, probably in connection with the customs levied on the ferry traffic.

Kengtung had also appropriated the district of Möngpu, which had belonged to the Möngnai Sawbwa, and an adjoining tract known as Mönghsat, which Möngnai also claimed. So far the questions concerned only the interests of our own feudatories.

Farther to the south, down the east bank of the Salween, lay four small States—Möng Tang, Möng Hang, Möng Kyawt, and Möng Hta. These four districts belonged to the Cis-Salween Sawbwa of Möngpan. Owing to the action of the Siamese officials, who attempted to take possession of them, there was trouble in 1888, and the Superintendent had been sent across to arrange the disputed points with representatives of the Siamese authorities. The Siamese, however, did not choose to appear. They thought, it may be presumed, that having a bad case, or no case at all, they had a better chance of success by diplomatic action. On the spot, and with local evidence at hand to[216] rebut them, it would have been difficult to prove their assertions. Nothing could be done under the circumstances but to inquire and report the facts. This was done. The Government of India were satisfied that these divisions belonged to Burma, and were part of the territory of the Möngpan Sawbwa. The Chief Commissioner was authorised to put Möngpan in possession. Accordingly Mr. Scott visited the districts and formally installed the Sawbwa. He found that the residents were without exception Möngpan Shans. There were no Lao inhabitants.

Until the dissolution of the Burmese authority in 1885, there had been no thought or talk of Siamese interference. At that time, seeing the chance of advancing their frontier to the Salween, an ambition they had doubtless cherished, the Chiengmai officials had ordered the headmen of these States to appear to swear fealty to Siam. They obeyed the order as the only means of escaping destruction. They returned gladly to their hereditary chieftain.

For five weeks after Mr. Scott's visit there was perfect quiet. How it came about that this settlement was again disturbed is not quite clear. The Siamese were bent on advancing their frontier to the Salween up to the southern boundary of Kengtung. Seeing that Mr. Scott had returned and had left no evidence of British authority in the shape of official or garrison, the former game was repeated. The headmen of the four States were again summoned "to drink the water of allegiance." Three of them obeyed. The fourth, Möng Tang, sent a representative and wrote at the same time to the Möngpan Sawbwa excusing his conduct on the ground of force majeure, and promising to return to his lawful lord when order was finally restored.

It was not until some time afterwards that the Siamese made overt demonstrations by sending armed parties to the States, but the people were very much alarmed and ceased all communication with the west of the Salween. This reopening of the matter was not comprehended by the Shans, and it did not help to enhance our reputation in the Shan States.

South-west of these Trans-Salween possessions of Möngpan, and separated from them by a Siamese district called Mueng Fai, lie two districts, Mehsakun and Möngmau,[217] forming part of the territory of Mawkmai. The history of these tracts illustrates the fluid state in which the country on the borders of the Shan States and Siam was in 1887-9, and for some time previously. Perhaps neither Burma nor Siam had any established and acknowledged authority in these regions. In 1823 the chief of Mawkmai, Né Noi by name, who was distinguished by the appellation of the Kolan (nine fathom) Sawbwa, was cast into prison in the Burmese capital. He escaped, and returned to his country through Eastern Karenni, in much the same way as the Hsipaw Sawbwa at a later date. But he could not withstand the Burmese power; and crossing the Salween, with the aid of Shans from Mawkmai he "carved," to use the words of Mr. Scott's report, "the two States of Mehsakun and Möngmau out of the jungle," and settled down there with his own people.

Here he lived for twenty years, until in 1873 he obtained a pardon and went back to Mawkmai, leaving a nephew to govern the Trans-Salween acquisitions. While he was at Mawkmai he was no peaceful neighbour, but made himself feared by the Karennis on his south border and by the Laos on the south and east. So far from being in any way subordinate to the Siamese officials at Chiengmai, he attacked the Siamese district of Mehawnghsawn and drove out the Shan, named Taiktaga San, who had been placed there by the Chiengmai authorities. He bestowed the district on his niece, by name Nang Mya. She was a lady with much force of character, who in England, in the reign of King George V. would have been a militant suffragette, and would have made short work of the ministry by marrying them all out of hand. Nang Mya, probably feeling the need of local knowledge and connections, dismissed her first husband, who bore the not very imposing name of Pu Chang Se, recalled her predecessor, Taiktaga San, from exile, and made him her consort. When the Kolan (nine fathom) Sawbwa returned across the Salween to Mawkmai, she and her new consort transferred their allegiance to the Siamese Governor at Chiengmai, without opposition on the part of the Mawkmai Sawbwa. Mehawnghsawn, it may be explained, is farther from Mawkmai than from Chiengmai, and the Salween flows between.


This transaction, however, did not affect the districts of Mehsakun and Möngmau, which remained under Mawkmai territory without question until 1888.

When the Red Karen chief, after the old Kolan's death, attacked Mawkmai, Kun Noi, who was governing Mehsakun on his uncle's behalf, behaved disloyally to his cousin, the rightful heir to Kolan, and induced the Karenni to make him master of Mawkmai. How Kun Hmon was restored to his position in Mawkmai by a British force has been told above (Chapter XV, p. 184). He was unable, however, to regain the two Trans-Salween districts, and it was not convenient at the moment to send a party across to reinstate him. Kun Noi, having been ejected from Mawkmai by the British, turned his thoughts to Siam and opened communications with the Chiengmai authorities through his cousin, the lady Nang Mya, who governed at Mehawnghsawn, with the view of placing himself under their protection. This was the origin of the Siamese pretensions to the Trans-Salween districts of Mawkmai. They had no foundation in right. It had been for some time their ambition to advance their frontier to the Salween, but as long as Burma had a remnant of strength, they could not. They thought the time opportune when the Burmese power had gone and the British had not yet made good their hold. On the 6th of March, 1889, a band of men, some of whom were militia from Chiengmai, came and occupied Tahwepon, the chief ferry on the Salween in Mawkmai territory, and hoisted the elephant flag of Siam, claiming the whole of the borderland lying east of the river for the King of Siam.

The position of Eastern Karenni has been explained in the chapter concerning events in that country. The people are numerous and all Karen. In the thirty-eight villages in which they live there are neither Shans nor Laos. The territory had been for many years in the hands of the Karenni chief, and was colonized by his people, just as the two districts north of it had been colonized by Mawkmai. It formed the most profitable portion of the Karenni State, by reason of its extensive and valuable teak forests. The capital required to work the timber was found by British subjects from Moulmein, the Karennis furnishing the labour. The timber trade was completely stopped by the Siamese; the[219] elephants employed on it seized and carried off. The floating of the timber which had to be sent down to Moulmein by the Salween was prevented, and communication between the east and west banks prohibited by them. Such a state of affairs was most galling to the Karennis and injurious to the dignity and to the revenues of their chief.

Such was the condition of affairs in 1889, and it became necessary to take action to prevent further mischief. It was decided by the Government of India, in communication with the Foreign Office, to appoint a Commission to survey the frontier and settle disputed points with representatives of the Siamese. Accordingly, as soon as the season permitted, a Commission was formed under Mr. Ney Elias, C.I.E., as chief. The members of the Commission were Mr. W. J. Archer, Her Britannic Majesty's Vice-Consul at Chiengmai, Mr. J. G. (now Sir J. George) Scott, Major E. G. Barrow (now Sir Edmund Barrow), Captain F. J. Pink (now Colonel Francis J. Pink, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment). A survey party from the Government of India, under Captain H. M. Jackson, R.E., was attached to the Commission. Surgeon J. K. Close was appointed to the medical charge, with Dr. Darwin as his assistant. The escort, commanded by Major Clarke, O.L.I., was composed of two companies of the Oxford Light Infantry, two guns of a Mountain Battery, and a few rifles of the Shan (military police) Levy.

Early in December the Commission met at Fort Stedman, and marching down through Loikaw and Sawlôn, the Karenni capital, encamped near Ywathit, at the ferry on the Salween called Ta Sanglè. Here they had expected to meet the Commissioners who, it was understood, had been appointed by the Bangkok Government to represent it. No one appeared, however, with credentials from Siam. Whether this was a deliberate act of discourtesy, or only a failure caused by the general debility of the Siamese administration, may be questioned. Most probably it was an instance of the common policy of Orientals and others with a weak case, who prefer to plead before a distant and necessarily more ignorant tribunal, rather than to submit their statements and evidence to a well-informed officer on the spot. Perhaps, also, the advisers of the[220] Siamese Government avoided taking part in the inquiry in order that they might refuse to be bound by an unwelcome finding.

Under these circumstances, Mr. Elias was forced to proceed in the absence of the other side. The working season in these latitudes is short, and to have delayed action would have played the Siamese game and given them more time to harass the Karennis and appropriate their property. Although no final decision could be arrived at, the Commission could ascertain the facts, survey the country, and place the matter in a clear light before the Government of India. At least we should acquire an exact knowledge of the case, and be able to say what we were fighting about. The business, therefore, was allowed to proceed.

A standing camp was formed at Ta Sanglè, and three parties, led by Mr. Ney Elias, Mr. Archer, and Mr. J. G. Scott, respectively, started to examine and survey the Karenni country. Ten months had passed since the Siamese had appeared in these parts. The time occupied unavoidably in a triangular correspondence between the Chief Commissioner in Burma, the Government of India in Simla, and the Foreign Office at Whitehall, had not been altogether wasted by the Siamese, who had endeavoured to get the proverbial nine points of the law on their side. They had established a series of posts along the Salween, all of them stockaded and flying the white elephant flag of Siam. In each of these posts were fairly large garrisons of from fifty to one hundred men, some of them well armed Siamese troops, others Laos and Shans—men, these latter, from the west of the Salween, who had sought refuge in Siamese territory from the troublous times of the past years.

It was found that the frontier of Trans-Salween Karenni was clearly defined by a range running from north to south, from fifteen to five-and-twenty miles from the Salween. The inhabitants, almost all Karens, had built their villages on this frontier range. As they live by the rude method of cultivation known as Taungya, they frequently move from one site to another to get fresh ground. The forests are rich in teak, but the timber was worked not by the Karens, but by Shans, or by Burmese traders from Moulmein.[221] Everything went to show that the country had been settled and opened up by the Red Karens, and that the Siamese neither had nor pretended to have any rights over it until the time of our expedition against Sawlapaw. From inquiries made and from the number of their villages the Karen population was estimated at between three and four thousand. The Siamese had taken a very practical method of marking them for their own. All adult males without exception had been tattooed on the forearm with the emblem of an elephant, with a running number added below. At first it was thought that this might help us to compute the number of people in the country. But the tattooing had not been done systematically at the villages where the people lived, but at markets and ferries as they chanced to come from the villages around, to sell their produce or make purchases. Thus while one man in a village might be branded with the number one hundred, his neighbour in the same village might be numbered four hundred. Without visiting every village, therefore, it was not possible to learn the highest number reached, and for this there was not time.

Going north to the districts of Möngmau and Mehsakun, claimed by Mawkmai, Mr. Elias was met by a major in the Siamese army, who claimed to be a member of the Commission representing Siam. This gentleman begged the question in dispute by welcoming Mr. Elias to Siamese territory, but made no further contribution to its settlement. The inquiry having convinced the Commission that the Mawkmai Sawbwa's right to these districts was beyond doubt, he was permitted to resume possession. He brought in his officials with an escort of his own Shans, and the Siamese officers thereupon retired. Mawkmai's possession was not disturbed again.

In the four States claimed by Möngpan events took a similar course. An official representing Siam was found encamped close to Möng Tung, with about one hundred and fifty men. He was requested to leave, as these States were undoubtedly British territory and had been formally so declared. He left without delay or reluctance, and the Möngpan Sawbwa was put in possession, his nephew being appointed governor of the four States, and entrusted with the task of restoring[222] them to order and prosperity. So far the Commission had completed their task. As the Siamese had failed to co-operate, the decisions could not be regarded as final. They were left, as the Bangkok Government may have intended, to be reopened and disputed in London. Much information, however, had been gathered about a country hitherto unknown, and a solid foundation laid for a lasting settlement of our frontier with Siam. Captain Jackson's party had worked with the energy for which he had already won a reputation in three preceding seasons in the Cis-Salween States.

"In this his fourth season," wrote the Superintendent of the Southern Shan States to the Chief Commissioner, "he had an exceedingly difficult region to survey, and he has fixed on our charts an area which would probably have exceeded the powers of any one whose physique was not in equal proportion to his zeal."

Before the Commission had finished the settlement of this strip of country from the south border of Eastern Karenni to the northern frontier of Möng Tung, it had become evident that if they were to complete their task the whole body could not visit Kengtung. Mr. Scott, therefore, was deputed for this purpose, and left early in February. He decided to start from Möngnai, where he proceeded in order to procure transport. The lateness of the season made it above all things necessary to march quickly, impossible with pack bullocks, the ordinary transport of the Shans, which make thirty-four stages from Möngnai to Kengtung. The Panthays (Chinese Mohammedans) with their mules, do the same journey in twelve days. They march from daylight to midday, and after a couple of hours' halt go on till sunset. Mules have the advantage of bullocks in the matter of gear as well as in speed and endurance. The loads are fastened not to the saddle, but to a light wooden frame which fits into grooves on the saddle, and can be lifted off in a minute and as easily replaced. The process of loading and unloading is therefore greatly simplified, and much labour and time saved. Moreover, baggage of all sorts and shapes can be loaded on mules, whereas bullocks cannot carry any that will not fit into their baskets. Then a mule will walk almost as fast as a man[223] in heavy marching-order, and will cover twelve or fifteen miles while a bullock is doing his five; so that instead of waiting for their food after a twelve-mile march until the bullocks hobble in when the sun is low, the men will get their food half an hour after they reach camp. But Mr. Scott has led us away from the business in hand in his enthusiasm for mules.

Panthay mules are not to be found waiting on a stand like taxi-cabs. It is not easy to get them for casual work. Mr. Scott, therefore, was kept some time at Möngnai waiting for mules, and then could not get enough and had to fill the gap with elephants. From Möngnai he went up north by the Nam Teng Valley, crossing the Nam Teng at Ko-up, where a bamboo bridge had been built over the river. The villages on both sides of the river had been raided by the brigand Twet Nga Lu, whose story has been told elsewhere (vide Chapters XV and XVI).

East of the Nam Teng River in the State of Keng Tawng, "the country for nearly twenty miles at a stretch," Mr. Scott reported, "is practically a desert. Yet all along the road old wells and ruinous monasteries and the grass-grown skeletons of former paddy-fields, to say nothing of hill-clearings, showed that formerly there must have been a large population here.... The handful of people who have so far returned to Keng Tawng have settled twenty miles farther south, round the site of the old capital. There is a magnificent banyan-tree, known far and wide as Mai Hung Kan, at Maklang.... The adjoining monastery was burnt by Twet Nga Lu's brigands, and not even the sanctity of the tree which twenty men could not span, under whose branches a fair-sized village might be built, has yet been able to persuade the monks to return. There are not, in fact, enough of the pious in the neighbourhood to support them."

Of the next State entered, Keng Hkam, the same story has to be told. The Nam Pang, a stormy river which rises in the north near Lashio, flows into the Salween near Keng Hkam. The valuable portion of this district consists of an extensive plateau extending along the right bank of the Nam Pang, where tobacco and sugar grow well, and very fine rice-fields and extensive groves of palms made the country rich.


The State suffered greatly in the Twet Nga Lu's disturbances. The old capital was absolutely destroyed, and nothing now remains but the ruins of fine teak monasteries and some ornate pagodas absolutely falling to pieces.

The chief had moved to a new town three or four miles off, but intended, now order had been restored, to build again on the old site. Many families had emigrated to the east of the Salween.

This chief, styled Myoza, accompanied Mr. Scott to Kengtung. His avowed object was to improve his mind by travel, and to learn English modes of procedure. It afterwards, however, appeared that he was attracted more by the fame of the charms of a lady of the Kengtung Royal Family than by a craving for knowledge. "He was successful in his wooing," wrote Mr. Scott, "and it may be hoped that his bride will put an end to the habit which he is developing of making inconsequent set speeches. Otherwise he is in great danger of becoming an intolerable young prig."

It is not possible here to follow the journey to Kengtung march by march. It must suffice to give some idea of the country through which the party had to go. From Keng Hkam to the Kaw Ferry on the Salween, the road was easy enough, the only difficulties being caused by the passage of the Nam Pang, across which, owing to the nature of the bed of the stream, the pack animals could not swim, and had to be ferried over. The Nam Teng, which was one hundred paces wide and twelve feet deep under the eastern bank, would have been a cause of delay had not the Shans thrown a bamboo bridge across the stream. This bridge built by the villagers, in six days it was said, was crossed easily and safely by the loaded transport mules. The bamboo is worth more to the peasants than gold and silver and precious stones. With it a Burman or Shan can do almost anything. For offence or defence, for house or furniture, for carrying water or making a raft, the bamboo is equally good.

Mr. Scott's party crossed the Salween at the Kaw Ferry, which is in the small State of Hsenyawt, which is described as a simple chaos of hills with probably not above a couple of hundred acres of flat paddy-land in its whole area. The village, which exists for the ferry rather than for any other[225] reason, can hardly find room for more than two or three houses in a cluster, and is consequently scattered over a square mile or so of broken ground. On the other side of the Salween it is uninhabited, and the road for some distance is very difficult, climbing along the side of a gorge through which the Nam Leng runs. Mr. Scott tells us that the Panthay traders carry picks and spades to make the road as they go, and it is only their labour which has kept the route open. From the ferry the road runs north-east to Hsenmawng, which is another small State and town under the same man who governs Hsenyawt. There are two routes to Kengtung from this place. One, the northern, through Möng Ping, bears the proud title of Lammadaw (the royal road), and was always used in Burmese times; but landslips had made it dangerous for animals, and fighting between rival leaders, for men. The other road, which kept more to the south, passing through a district named Möng Pu Awn, was perhaps longer but better, and was followed by Mr. Scott. It follows a zigzag course. First north-east, to Hsenmawng, then south-east to Möng Hsen, then north-west again to Kengtung. "East of Hsenmawng," writes Mr. Scott, "is a simple sea of hills, range behind range all the way to Kengtung. The main ridges run nearly due north and south, and they with their spurs and sub-features, can hardly be said to be broken by the valleys of Möng Pu Awn or of Möng Hsen. It is a constant succession of ascents and descents the whole way to Kengtung."

The mountains crossed were often of some height, and between the altitudes of 3,500 and 5,000 feet were covered with pine forest. The main range of Loi[40] Pè Möng, the great divide between the Salween and the Mekong Valleys, which averages 6,000 feet, and rises in many places to more than 7,000, carries no pine forests.


"On the spurs and sub-features, which stretch far away to the west, forming what may be almost called a plateau—a very uneven one certainly, cut up by gigantic gullies, and sprinkled with numerous eminences, but still a rough sort of tableland—pine forest is the prevailing growth, and seems to give place to oak and chestnut above 5,000 feet, which, however, is about the average of this high-land plain. Notwithstanding the ruggedness of the country which is very much like a Brobdingnagian ploughed field, the road is not by any means bad. It is very fatiguing, but for a mule-track it is very much better than the roads at many places in the Western States, where the path climbs straight up the hillside with a Roman directness of purpose, or follows stream beds and rocky gorges with a pertinacity born of an ignorance of shoe-leather. Beyond the Salween the track follows the line of the spurs, with the result that one very seldom has a back-breaking climb. The credit of this natural engineering eye seems to belong rather to the Panthay and Chinese merchants than to the natives of the country; for farther south, where the Panthay caravans pass but seldom, the paths follow the usual Shan system of going straight from point to point." It was through a country of this sort that the little party which was to receive the submission of its chief, and settle his relations with the Sovereign Power, made its way. With Scott were two other white men, Captain Pink, of the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment, who was a member of the Commission, and Dr. Darwin, a civil surgeon, in the service of the Burman Government. The escort consisted of eighteen old soldiers, Sikhs of the Shan levy which had lately been taken over by the army, and as many untrained recruits of the same corps. There were besides a few Burmese clerks on Mr. Scott's staff, some servants and camp-followers, the transport mules with their Panthay drivers, a few elephants—which were more imposing though less agile than the mules—and lastly the princely wooer in the shape of the Myoza of Keng Hkam, with a tail of rough spear-men to give a touch of romance to the cortège. Not a very imposing embassage, certainly, to represent the majesty of England, and to require the allegiance of a chief who ruled over twenty thousand square miles of country. But the leaders had the right spirit, and not a man with them, from the trained soldiers to the rough mule-drivers, but marched with his head high.

The town of Kengtung is about ten miles as the crow flies from the pass over the Loi Pè Möng.

"It lies in a plain about twenty miles long and perhaps fifteen broad. To the west and north this is perfectly flat[227] and under paddy cultivation; to the east and south are low grassy hills with swamps in the hollows. The town is built on the western edge of this rolling country and overlooks the paddy-lands. It is surrounded by a wall about fifteen feet high, and machicolated at the top." (The wall and a moat were constructed by the Burman King Alompra in the eighteenth century.) "The bricks are insufficiently burnt, the wall is old and therefore crumbled away in many places, so that it is picturesque rather than formidable; moreover, some hills to the south-west would enable field-guns to drop shells wherever they pleased over the enceinte. The wall follows the line of the rolling ground, and to the north and south towers above the plain. To the west it has not this natural advantage, and jungle affords admirable cover up to the dry ditch which protects it on this side. To north-east and south swampy ground covers the approach. The walls measure four and three-quarter miles round, and have ten gates, which used to be covered by semicircular arches. Only two of these arches, however, now remain, both on the eastern face. There is very little level ground within the walls, and only the northern half of the walled town is inhabited. Even this portion is so overrun with trees as to be almost jungle, and there are several large swamps among the houses. These supply the people with water to drink and small mud-fish to eat. There are probably seven or eight hundred houses within the walls, and many of these are very substantial. Some are entirely built of brick; some have brick basements and plank walling; and the number of bamboo houses is very small. All the better-class houses are roofed with small tiles made locally. To judge from the Sawbwa's audience-hall, these tiles are not a very satisfactory protection against rain, but they at any rate prevent the fires which do such frequent mischief in other Shan towns. The monasteries are numerous, and some of them are adorned with elaborate carving and wall paintings. They are much like the ordinary Burmese or Shan Kyaung (monastery) in general architecture, but there is an indefinable suggestion of Tartar influence about them. This is particularly noticeable in the massive gateways which immediately suggest the paifang of China."

There was a very large colony of Shan Chinese to the[228] east of the town. They had large gardens and kept innumerable goats, pigs, ducks, and fowls.

"Their houses are all built of bamboo, and their villages, like those of China, are inconceivably dirty, though in their person the inhabitants are clean enough."

To the industry of these people is due the manufacture of tiles and of the pottery work, which is sold cheap and of great variety in Kengtung bazaar. The inhabitants of the plain in which the city lies were, Mr. Scott estimated, about twenty thousand. There were some military surveyors in his party, but owing to the very critical state of affairs for some time after the city was entered, it was thought better not to send them out to survey.

Such, briefly, was the city of Kengtung when the small British party entered its gates on the 14th of March, 1890. The elephants, although they marched slowly, and may have been execrated at times on that account, undoubtedly added pomp to the somewhat insignificant procession which entered the city. What followed is best told in the words of Mr. Scott's report. (Report on Southern Shan States for the year 1889-90.)

"We were met at the edge of the plain by the Tawphaya, the Sawbwa's cousin and Chief Minister, along with a number of the principal officials, and marched in procession to the town. Great part of the road was lined by villagers, who stood in many places three or four deep to see us pass. We camped on the site of the old Burmese post, and were visited almost immediately after our tents were pitched by the Sawbwa and his half-brother, the Kyem Meung (heir-apparent). The Sawbwa is sixteen, and looks older. The Kyem Meung's age is a matter of dispute between the Ministers, his mother, and himself. Dates vary over three years, but he looks a good deal younger than his brother.

"A formal return visit was paid to the Sawbwa next day. He is building himself a new brick haw (palace), and the old palace, which is a dingy wooden erection, is said to be so rickety that it would have infallibly collapsed with the number of people who were to be present at the reception. We were therefore received in the court-house, which looks rather like a railway goods shed outside, but[229] has been rather highly decorated within. The gilding is now, however, worn and tawdry. There is a large gold throne at the farther end, enclosed within a railing, and reached by folding doors from behind, like the Mandalay Yazapalin, which it otherwise resembles in construction. The Sawbwa and his brother sat on chairs in front of this, outside the railing, and we were placed between them. There was an enormous gathering of officials both of the town and the neighbourhood, and of the prominent merchants of the town, and the conversation was kept up by these and by the Kyem Meung, for the Sawbwa had never a word to say beyond Yes or No. The merchants all talked of the opening up of communications with the West, and particularly of the construction of a railway. Trade at present is entirely with China. The old Chiengmai trade is greatly interfered with, and almost put an end to by taxations, restrictions, and imposts levied at the Siamese frontier posts. The general impression received was that the merchant class and the bulk of the ministers were delighted with the establishment of British authority in Kengtung. There is a huge drum near the door of the audience-hall. It is made of hide stretched on a wooden frame, and is about the size of a puncheon. This is said to have been made by the 'hill-people,' but by what hill-people and where, nobody knew. One stroke on this Sigyi announces that the Sawbwa has ascended the throne; two, that he has left the palace to go through the town; and three strokes summon all officials and armed men within hearing to the palace without an instant's delay. We heard three strokes on this drum a good many times during the next few days.

"On the night of the 16th of March, the second day after our arrival, there was a pwè (a posture dance) inside the Sawbwa's enclosure. Eight of our Panthay mule-drivers, who had been out searching for stray mules, went in after dark to buy cheroots at the usual bazaar. They were set on by the Sawbwa's men. Most of them escaped, but one man was seized, held with his face to the ground and shot in the back by the Sawbwa himself. He was then set free and went back to his camp. Two other shots were heard, and one of the Panthays has never since been seen.[230] The Panthay camp was some distance away in the plain, and before I had got more than the excited account of one of the Panthays, who fled from the palace to our camp, I had demanded, next morning, an explanation from the Sawbwa, and the production of the man who had fired the revolver. I got no explanation, except that the Sawbwa had issued an order that none of our followers were to be allowed to go about in the town wearing arms. In a country where every male above six years wears a dagger, this was an absurdity. The order had not, moreover, been communicated to our people. I therefore demanded the surrender of the offender, and had issued this order before the Panthays managed to summon up courage enough to denounce the Sawbwa himself as the murderer. It was impossible to recede. It was necessary for British prestige and for our own personal safety to settle the case. Our followers expected to be massacred in their beds; the Sawbwa feared that he would be seized in his palace, and filled it with armed men. For two days the suspense was rather trying. I then announced that if my orders were not complied with, I would march down to the haw the next day. This brought up the Tawpaya and several other ministers, with a petition that I would decide the case as it stood. They produced no witnesses, and did not deny that the Sawbwa was the offender. I therefore sentenced him to pay Rs. 500 compensation to the wounded man and Rs. 1,500 if the missing man was not produced within five days alive and well. This sentence, I informed them, was a concession to the low state of their civilization and the ignorance of the Sawbwa. The Rs. 500 were paid a couple of hours afterwards, and the Rs. 1,500 a few days before we left.

"The incident was all the more embarrassing, because none of the details of the Sawbwa's relations with the British Government had been settled. He had been reduced to such a state of fear that it was only by again threatening to march down to the haw that I was able to persuade him to come and discuss the terms under which he received a sanad of appointment from the British Government. When he did come, however, his manner was much more satisfactory, and he accepted in every detail the terms of[231] the sanad and promised to attend future Durbars of the Shan chiefs. Other matters which had to be arranged with him concerning his western frontier were also easily put in train for settlement."

It is impossible to read this brief account without doing homage to the well-considered audacity of Mr. Scott's action, which ended once for all any inclination on the part of Kengtung to resist the British Government.

During the next few days the terms of the Sawbwa's patent of investiture were finally arranged. In his leisure time a wealth of information regarding the province and its wonderful variety of races was acquired by Mr. Scott, which it is regretted for the reader's sake cannot be given here.

On the 29th of March, three days before the time fixed for leaving Kengtung, a Durbar was held for the purpose of formally presenting the chief with his patent of appointment. It was attended by all the officials connected with the Kengtung State. The only foreigners present were the princely wooer from Keng Hkam and the brother-in-law of the Möngnai Sawbwa. But so large is the area of the State that the assemblage was as numerous as if it had been a general Durbar of the Shan States at Fort Stedman. Mr. Scott improved the occasion by impressing on them that British supremacy meant peace and trade.

"As is usual with a speech in the Shan States, a running comment was kept up in different parts of the audience on the various points enumerated, and on the whole it seemed that their comprehension was satisfactory and their resolution praiseworthy. The ministers promised by the Sawbwa complete obedience to the Chief Commissioner in all matters connected with the State; and the Sawbwa himself was divided between admiration for the repeating carbine which he received as a present and a laudable desire to be amiable."

The party left Kengtung on their return journey on the 1st of April, and marched back by a southerly route through the four small States belonging to Möngpan, where some disputes had arisen which required Mr. Scott's orders. These questions were finally settled for the time at least at Möngpan, and Mr. Scott then returned to Fort Stedman, which he reached after an absence of six months, on the[232] 6th of June, 1890. He had been away on this distant work all the open season of 1889-90. Although the Shan States in his immediate charge had not been visited by the Superintendent, there had been no trouble. The Sawbwas as well as the British administrators were putting aside warlike things, and devoting their energies to the things of peace. The Lawksawk chief had done us good service in 1899 by capturing the Setkya Mintha, a pretender who had been a nuisance since the annexation. In 1890 he broke up and captured most of the gang that followed a noted leader Kyaw Zaw. The growth of wheat and other crops occupied the minds of other Sawbwas, while the Chief Commissioner was devising a procedure code to guide the Shan rulers in administering the law. It was necessary to frame rules which should secure substantial justice and at the same time should not be beyond the powers of the Shan judges to comprehend. Communications between the States and Burma were vigorously pushed on, although not quite as fast as the Superintendent wished and in his enthusiasm thought possible.

The work done in 1889-90 was good and lasting. Although, owing to the failure of the Siamese Government to take part in the inquiry, a further Commission had to be appointed to settle and demarcate the boundary, the decisions arrived at by Mr. Ney Elias were practically confirmed, when the final demarcation was made in 1892-3 to some extent by Mr. Hildebrand, but for the most part by Mr. H. G. A. Leveson, of the Indian Civil Service and of the Burman Commission. The only difference of importance was that the minor State of Chieng Kong, which bestrode the Mekong and was supposed to be more or less tributary to Kengtung, was, as regards the eastern or Trans-Mekong portion, of which Möng Hsing was the chief town, assigned to Siam.

But before the Government at Bangkok had had time to receive the homage of the Möng Hsing chief, the French crossed the Menam and obtained the treaty of Chantabun from Siam, by which everything east of the Mekong passed to France and Möng Hsing became French.

As to Kang Hung, in arranging matters with China we transferred all the rights in this State on both sides the[233] Mekong—the whole, in fact, of the Sibsong Panna (or twelve provinces)—to China, on the condition that she should never cede any part of it to another power. With an almost indecent haste, China gave up a portion of the Kang Hung country to France. As a protest, we refused to pay the decennial tribute of gold flowers, which had been conceded to save the face of China after the annexation, and demanded a revision of the eastern frontier of Burma agreed with China in 1894. A new agreement was made in 1897 which gave Burma a better boundary. It is not likely that new difficulties will arise on this side, although the boundary has not been demarcated. Trouble is more probable on the north, where no openings should be left. China does not forget her claim to Burma.

Kengtung showed a proper sense of his duties after Mr. Scott's lesson to him. The present Sawbwa, who was at the Delhi Durbar in 1903, is reported to have said to one of the officers from Burma, "We thought we were great men, but now we see that we are only monkeys from the jungle." So Durbars, like other forms of adversity, may have their uses, and quite as sweet.


[40] Loi in Shan means "mountain."



When Upper Burma was annexed the first step towards the constitution of a well-ordered province was to parcel out the country into districts of such a size and with such boundaries that they could be conveniently administered. The wise course was followed of preserving the old native divisions, which had probably resulted from the teaching of experience and the nature of the country and differences of race. For few innovations vex a people more than changes in the boundaries of the units of jurisdiction which touch their daily life. Hence it came to pass that all the country between 23° 37' N. and the undefined line dividing Upper Burma from China and Thibet, somewhere about 28° N., was constituted the charge of a single Deputy Commissioner, with the China frontier as its eastern boundary, and as its western limit the Hukawng Valley, the Upper Chindwin district, and further south the Katha district. The headquarters of the Deputy Commissioner and of the military garrison were placed at the town of Bhamo, from which the district took its name.

The Irrawaddy cuts the district in two from north to south. The town of Bhamo lies in a plain along the left bank of the river, midway between two defiles, usually spoken of as the first and second defile, through which the waters rushing down from the region of mountains in the north have cut their way. The river is open all the year round, as far as Bhamo to large river-steamers. But the first or northern defile is always difficult, and when the river is in flood, impassable. Hence Bhamo is the gate of Upper Burma, and the port for the trade which has existed for centuries with Western Yunnan. In a very small way it is the Peshawur of Burma, and for the purpose of raids and such like the Kachin tribes play the part of the Pathans on the north-west frontier of India. The greater part of the district is hilly and covered with forest; and the Kachins, who form quite a third of the population, live in the hills.


It is said that trade follows the Flag. In this case the reverse is true. The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company had prepared the way for us here. Bhamo had been the northern terminus of their steamers since 1869, and for some time the Government of India had kept a Resident there to protect the trade. But no attempt had been made to navigate beyond Bhamo.

In December, 1885, a force was sent up by river to occupy the town, and an officer of the Burma Commission, Captain Cooke, accompanied it, and began to establish a civil administration. No opposition was met with. The population of the town was not in a position to resist us. Mixed with the indigenous Burmans and Shans was a considerable colony of Chinese traders—some of them Cantonese who had filtered up from the coast, others hardy and adventurous men from Yunnan, engaged in the jade and amber and rubber trades in the northern part of the district. These foreigners, although they disliked exceedingly our interference with the opium and liquor traffic, and even more our attempts in the interests of the troops to improve their methods of sanitation, were not actively hostile. The peasantry of a mixed Shan-Burman race, who cultivated the level country round and below the town, were peacefully inclined, though shy and timorous. But the Kachin tribes soon began to show their teeth and to do their best to make things unpleasant. The policy laid down from the first for the guidance of the local officers in their dealings with the Kachins was one of patience and conciliation. Perhaps too much stress was laid on this. In one case, certainly, the Deputy Commissioner's anxiety to adhere to this policy was carried to an extreme, and caused mischief.

It will be convenient to take the northern portion of the district first—that part, namely, which begins from 24° 37' N. and goes right up to the Chinese boundary. It now forms a separate charge, known as the Myitkyina district,[236] but at the time we are writing of, was the Mogaung subdivision of the Bhamo district, and contained about 10,000 square miles of country, of which two-thirds were, and still are, forest. The level and valley lands along the Irrawaddy and its tributaries, mostly on the right bank, are fertile, yielding rice as the main crop; but even now, after twenty years of peace, the area cultivated is very small. It is given in the Burma Gazetteer (vol. ii., p. 123) as twenty-eight square miles. The area in the hills tilled, after a primitive method, has not been estimated, but as there are between twenty and thirty thousand Kachins who live on its produce, it is probably larger.

Of the wide forest area, part is in the low hill ranges, part in the plains. Twenty-five years ago, when there was not a road, the dense undergrowth and bamboo jungle, and in the lower lands the wide seas of elephant-grass, made the passage of men and transport animals most difficult and laborious.

From a fiscal point of view Mogaung was supposed to be the most important part of the Bhamo district. The collection of a royalty on jade was farmed in the King's time for about Rs. 50,000, and there was also an income from the rubber-trees, mostly wild, but to a small extent cultivated.

In March, 1886, a force accompanied by Captain Cooke, the Deputy Commissioner, made its way to Mogaung. The Deputy Commissioner reported that the "country was then, for the most part, brought under control and settled administration." This was a figurative and official way of saying that a person of local influence, by name Maung Kala, had been recognized and put in charge as a magistrate in the British service.

After a very brief visit the Deputy Commissioner with the troops went back to Bhamo, and left Maung Kala to carry on the government as he best could, without police and with no military support nearer than Bhamo, which is at the least 150 miles from Mogaung, whether the journey is made by water or land. Even a handful of troops, lightly equipped, could not have been sent up in less than a fortnight. There was no telegraph to Mogaung. Maung Kala belonged to a family of great local influence, which had[237] held office for several generations, and was reputed to be of Chinese descent. But whatever his influence, he was sure to make enemies in his endeavours to keep order and to collect revenues, and there was no visible force behind him. His reign was short, and he was soon assassinated.[41]

A Burman official was sent up from Bhamo by the Deputy Commissioner to succeed the murdered man. He soon found that he was not wanted at Mogaung and he retired to Sinbo, whence he could at least make a show of controlling the river-side villages. Po Saw, the son of Maung Kala, was then appointed by the people to his father's post, and whatever order or show of government there was in the country was due to him. Subsequently, in consequence of his having summarily executed a pretender who had endeavoured to impose himself on the people, the Deputy Commissioner recognised Po Saw's authority and withdrew the Burman. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that the British Government had jurisdiction in Mogaung. No revenue was collected—at least, none was paid into the Bhamo treasury. In this respect, however, Mogaung was little worse than the southern portion of the district which was administered by the Deputy Commissioner himself, supported by the garrison at Bhamo. In September, 1886, Major Cooke reported: "This district has, I believe, been one of the quietest districts in Upper Burma. The tranquillity of the district is in a great measure due to the fact that no real attempt was made to collect the revenue until July or August." Even the tranquillity so purchased was, however, only comparative, and the soldiers had quite enough to do. In the open season of 1886-7 it was not found possible to give men for an effective expedition to the north. Things had to be allowed to take their own course for the time. The Administration had no choice.


Early in 1887, however, the military police began to arrive from India, and in the spring of that year five companies, mainly Gurkhas, under the command of Lieutenant O'Donnell, were posted to Bhamo. This strengthened the hands of the civil administration. It was then too late to start an expedition to Mogaung. But Lieutenant O'Donnell was sent up to Sinbo, a village of some importance on the right bank of the Irrawaddy, just above the first defile. Here a strong stockade was built and a Gurkha garrison posted in it. An Assistant Commissioner also, Mr. Twomey, was sent to watch the course of events in the north.

There were three routes by which Mogaung could be reached from Bhamo. One was by going up the Irrawaddy and turning into the Mogaung River, on which lies the town. This was quite possible for a very small force which had not to carry all its supplies and transport. The object, however, was not merely to reach Mogaung, but to go to the jade-mines and explore the country. Since an explorer (Lieutenant Bayfield) made his way to the mines in 1838, no European had visited them. Nothing was accurately known of the nature of the country, of the supplies it afforded, or of the numbers and temper of the Kachin tribes which dominated it. All that could be gathered from the Chinese and others showed that there would be much difficulty in all these matters. It was suspected that the Chinese were disposed to magnify the difficulties. Nevertheless it was necessary that the force should be prepared for all emergencies, and should be in every respect self-sufficing. Hence the river route was considered impracticable.

Another way was to land the force at Katha and march up through Mohnyin. Our knowledge of the route between Mohnyin and Mogaung also was imperfect. It was not under our control, and a force passing up would have to take everything with it. The third route was by the left bank of the Irrawaddy. It had this advantage, that although the marching would be difficult, boats could follow the force up the river, could meet it at fixed[239] points, and could carry a large quantity of the supplies, certainly as far as Sinbo and probably in the smaller craft as far as Mogaung. After much consideration it was decided to send the expedition by this route. A fortified post was to be established at Mogaung, to be held by the military police, to serve as a base for the advance of the force to the jade-mines and other parts.

Much care was given to the composition and equipment of the force[42] by the General commanding in Upper Burma, Sir George White. It was necessary that it should be prepared for all emergencies; that it should carry with it supplies for the whole time of its absence from Bhamo; that it should be able to move, as occasion required, either by land or water, and be ready to make its own roads and bridges. It must be strong enough to fight its own way and repel attacks; and at the same time the numbers of the force were limited by the necessity of carrying its own food and of keeping the transport train from becoming too large.

The Chief Commissioner selected Major Adamson, the Deputy Commissioner at Bhamo, to go with the force. To him was entrusted the task of dealing with the Kachins and of establishing the authority of the British Government. He had served for thirteen years in Lower Burma, and was known as one of the best officers in the Commission. He fully justified the confidence placed in him.

Some time before the expedition started, Major Adamson summoned Po Saw from Mogaung to meet him at Sinbo. He came accompanied by many of the chief Shan residents and Chinese merchants. He promised to obey the Deputy Commissioner's orders. The Deputy Commissioner then formally appointed him to be magistrate of Mogaung in his father's room and from the date of his father's death, and paid him a large sum as arrears of salary. He was then dismissed, with orders to clear the roads of jungle and collect supplies for the troops. He was instructed also to summon all the Kachin chiefs connected with the jade-mines to meet the representatives of the British Government at Mogaung. All this Po Saw readily promised to perform. Major Adamson went back to Bhamo well pleased with his willingness to help and believing in the loyalty of his intentions.


All preparations having been completed, the expedition marched from Bhamo on the 27th, by the north gate of the town. It was for these parts an unusually large and well-found force, and impressed the townspeople who crowded to witness its departure. It consisted of the following troops: Cheshire Regiment, 50 rifles, under Captain Armstrong; Kelati-Ghilzai Regiment, 101 rifles, under Lieutenant Morton; Mounted Infantry, 25 rifles; Bhamo Military Police (Gurkhas), 500 rifles, under Lieutenant O'Donnell;[43] Mountain Battery (Bengal), 2 guns, under Captain Triscott,[44] R.A. Captain Clements was in charge of the commissariat.

The land transport consisted of 350 pack-mules with drivers and two elephants, who were sent back after a few marches, as they proved to be useless. A fleet of three steam launches and thirty-three large country boats, with supplies, was sent up by river, with a force of sixty-six Native Infantry, under a native officer, on the launches.

Captain Triscott, R.A., with Lieutenant Williams, R.A., as his staff officer, was in command of the whole force.

A Roman Catholic missionary who spoke Shan and Kachin accompanied the expedition as interpreter. A survey party to map the country, a forest officer to report on the forests, and Mr. Warry, the Chinese adviser to the Chief Commissioner, made the staff complete.

The march up the left bank of the Irrawaddy was difficult. There were two considerable streams, the Taeping and the Molé, affluents of the Irrawaddy, to be crossed in the first few marches. These rivers, however, caused comparatively little delay. The track kept as near as possible to the course of the Irrawaddy. Sometimes it crept along close to the river-bank, across numerous spurs separated by small streams flowing into the main river. The ascents and descents were very steep, and to make them passable for laden animals much jungle-cutting and road-making had to be done. Sometimes the gradients were so steep as to necessitate the cutting of zigzag paths. At times the animals had to be taken up the steep banks and into the forests in order to find a road.


On the 2nd of January the camping-ground was on a sandy spit by the river-bank, at a village called Nanti. Here the steam-launches and the thirty-three boats met the land columns. On the 4th the march lay along the side of the first defile, where the river flows between rocky banks. The laden animals found easier going here, as there was no rank vegetation; but it was slow work, as paths had to be cut for them on the steep sides of the beds of dry streams which had frequently to be crossed. On the 4th, after leaving the defile behind, the force debouched on sandy level ground close to the stream, and halted at the village of Manhé, where the column had to cross the Irrawaddy. The headman of Sinbo, with some fourscore men and half as many boats which he had brought down by the Deputy Commissioner's orders, to help in the work, was waiting. Next day was devoted to the crossing. At 7 a.m. it began, and by half-past 3 p.m. the last man was landed on the right bank.

The Irrawaddy at this place and at this time of the year is three hundred yards wide, with a current of about two miles an hour. The formation of the river-bed, the broad sloping banks of sand and gravel, and at places the depth of water close to the side, made the work simple enough, however laborious. The two launches could come alongside the bank, and the artillery and infantry, with arms and ammunition, were taken over in them. Then came the baggage animals, who were made to swim the river in batches of four or five at a time. A canoe, with one Burman boatman in the bow, was drawn up alongside the bank, with the bow against the stream. Then four or five men, each leading an animal, passed round to the stern of the boat and seated themselves in the canoe holding the animals by their leading-ropes. As soon as[242] they were seated a second boatman took his stand in the stern. The bow was shoved off and the canoe punted across the river by the two boatmen. Thus the animals were swimming up-stream astern of the canoe, and were not in danger of being forced by the current against it. Three hundred and fifty animals swam the river in this manner, and not one was drowned or hurt.

The column was now on the right bank of the Irrawaddy. The next march brought them to Sinbo, where a garrison of military police was already established in a stockade, near to which a large camping-ground had been cleared for the troops. Supplies from Bhamo had been landed and stored, and the commissariat staff was busied in arranging for their transport to Mogaung. The fleet had also arrived before the column. The launches being unable, owing to the shallowness of the river, to get up beyond Sinbo, were sent back to Bhamo.

The next two marches, partly through forests partly across plains cropped here and there with rice, brought the force to the bank of the Mogaung stream. The water was deep and the current ran very strong. The crossing of this little river gave more trouble than the passage of the Irrawaddy. For Po Saw's promises proved false. He had made no preparations and sent down neither men nor boats. However, three or four boats were found at a village higher up the stream. Teak logs were lying about. Rafts were made; and the guns and commissariat stores taken over. There were not enough boats to tow the large number of pack-animals across. Mules and ponies were driven into the water in herds and forced to make their way to the other bank, which unluckily was very steep with a muddy bottom. Nevertheless they all got over except one, but many were very spent and were brought up the bank with difficulty.

The road now lay on the left, or east, bank of the river, and entered a country of which nothing was known. It was dominated by the Kachin chief of the neighbouring hills, from whom the inhabitants had to purchase protection—in plain English, immunity, to some small extent, from murder and robbery. As they had been forced at the same time to pay taxes to the Burmese officials,[243] they had suffered much, and many of the villages were deserted.

The failure of Po Saw to carry out Major Adamson's instructions gave rise to some anxiety. Treachery was feared, and precautions were taken against surprise. The road was now in parts very difficult, over steep forest-covered hills running down close to the Mogaung River, and intersected by many steep ravines. Progress was slow, as the way had to be cleared of bamboo and other undergrowth before the pack-animals could pass. In places on reaching the proposed halting-place it was found to be a small, confined spot, and the ground had to be cleared before the camp could be pitched. A party of Chinese Shans on their way to Mogaung joined the camp at night, and were engaged to accompany the force and help to clear the road, for which they were well paid.

After some sixteen miles of difficult ground, which was covered in two marches, the column struck the river again near Tapaw. Here the headman advised Major Adamson to cross to the right bank again, as the land road to Mogaung was only five or six miles, whereas the river made a detour of double that distance, first going north and then coming back to the south-east. There were no boats to be had here. After some consideration Captain Triscott and Major Adamson decided that it was advisable to send to Mogaung and summon Po Saw. They had heard from a Kachin Sawbwa whom they met on the road that the Chinaman who farmed the jade-mine revenue had been murdered, and they were now told at Tapaw that an Englishman had passed down-stream in urgent haste.

Here we must go back to Mr. Warry's movements. It has been said above that Mr. Warry, the adviser on Chinese affairs, had been appointed to go with the expedition. He belonged to the Chinese Consular Service, spoke Chinese well, and understood that difficult people as well as an Englishman can. He was on most friendly terms with the Chinese in Burma, and could trust himself to them without fear. It appears that instead of marching with Major Adamson, as it was intended, he had gone by himself with some Chinamen by the river. When the expedition[244] arrived at Sinbo it was found that Warry had gone on in his boat, meaning to travel up the Mogaung stream. His attempt to go ahead of the expedition, if that had been his purpose, was foiled by the refusal of his Chinamen to attempt the ascent of the Mogaung until they had learnt that the column had preceded them.

Hence on the 12th of January he was in his boat on the Mogaung, some seven or eight miles in rear of the marching column, when he met Mr. Rimmer, a commander in the Irrawaddy flotilla's service, coming down the stream as fast as his men could paddle. Rimmer had in his boat a Chinaman very badly wounded in the head. It was Lon Pein, who had been at one time the farmer of the jade-mine taxes under the King's Government. Rimmer's story was that he had pushed on to the town of Mogaung alone, for the purpose of examining the waterway. He reached the town on the 19th of January, and having accomplished his object was about to return at once when Lon Pein came to him and told him that he feared an attack by Po Saw's men, who sought his life. He implored Rimmer to stay and help to defend him until the troops should arrive. The people of the town appeared to be friendly enough. But believing that Lon Pein's life was in danger, he chivalrously agreed to stay. He took up his quarters in the Chinaman's house, and they made ready in such manner as they could to resist an attack. Rimmer was armed with a rifle, and Lon Pein, it may be presumed, had fire-arms of some sort. They had not long to wait.

At midnight of the 10th a body of ruffians besieged the house with more vigour even than the police led by the Home Secretary against the house in Sidney Street. The house was of the kind usual in the country, raised on piles with a floor none too closely fitted. The assailants got underneath and fired through the floor, and thrust spears wherever they could find an opening. Early in the fight Lon Pein fell wounded in the head, and never recovered consciousness. Rimmer's rifle was shot in two, and his knee was grazed by a ball. However, he continued to hold out until dawn, when the assailants made off. Next day he managed to find his boat and, with the assistance of some town's-people, to carry Lon Pein to it. The inhabitants expressed their sympathy and regret, but did not explain their failure to help him. Po Saw, it appeared, had left Mogaung the day before, but Rimmer believed that Lon Pein had good cause for holding him responsible for the attack.

Kachin women and children of the upper Irrawaddy.


Warry persuaded Rimmer to return with him to the protection of the troops, and they joined the column on the 13th, before it left Tapaw, and entered Mogaung with it on the 14th of January. Evidently there was mischief on foot. The leaders of the expedition, on hearing the story, decided that before advancing further it would be wise to make Po Saw show his hand. The difficulty was to get a trustworthy man to carry a message to Mogaung. There was a Mussulman, a native of India, who had come up as an interpreter, with the force, Safdar Ali by name. He might have been a descendant of Sinbad the Sailor, for he had led a life of travel and adventure. He had traded in jade, and was familiar with many parts of the country. He spoke Burmese, Shan, and Kachin, in addition to his native Hindustani, and he had taken wives of the daughters of Heth in most of the bigger places. In consequence, or in spite, of these alliances he was on good terms with the people about, and could obtain intelligence of local affairs. Safdar Ali volunteered to take a letter to Po Saw, and with a native to show him the shortest road, he departed.

Meanwhile Captain Triscott and Major Adamson, with some Mounted Infantry, had gone out to examine the track, and found that for four or five miles it crossed a rice plain cut up by numerous muddy ditches which the baggage animals could not get over. Beyond this rice-ground rose some hills, at the foot of which was a morass, which the column would find very difficult to pass. They turned back to the camp, therefore, to collect labour to make the road passable. Safdar Ali, on his way back from Mogaung, overtook them, and reported that Po Saw had disappeared after the Chinaman's murder, and had gone, it was said, to raise the Kachins nearest to Mogaung. This was not cheering news, as Po Saw's influence with the Kachins had been relied upon as the means of establishing peaceable relations with them.

However, the other officials of the town had been helpful;[246] boats had been sent down to Tapaw, and before the day ended, the nakan, or deputy magistrate, attended by the Kyaung Tagas and Payatagas (builders of monasteries and pagodas), arrived to pay their respects. They were reprimanded by Major Adamson for their neglect, and were directed to take steps at once to make the road passable. The poor men were evidently in fear and trembling, dreading the vengeance of Po Saw on the one hand and the wrath of the British Government on the other. However, the march next day was made without great difficulty: the ditches were filled up or bridged. The swamp proved a greater obstacle. Luckily there was an abundance of elephant-grass hard by. This was cut, and being spread thickly on the surface of the swamp, made a passable road.

After climbing the hill, the pagodas and monasteries of Mogaung became visible; and when the level ground round the town was reached, a number of the chief people were seen, who had come out to meet the British force and make their submission. On reaching the gates a conference was held with these, while the town was reconnoitred by the soldiers for a suitable camping-place.

The burgesses were evidently suffering from great fears. They dreaded the Kachins, to raise whom was the design of Po Saw. Under these circumstances it comforted them to learn that the British had come to stay, and that their town would not be left again without an English officer and a sufficient garrison. Major Adamson then proclaimed the offer of a reward of 1,000 rupees for the discovery and arrest of the murderer of Lon Pein, the Chinaman. He told them to have no fear of the British soldiers, and assured them that if the Myo-ôk Po Saw would return to his duty even now, he would be forgiven and restored to office. By this time, a good site having been found on a sand-bank at the upper end of the town, the whole column marched through the main street, that all might see its strength, and established the camp there.

Mogaung[45] was once the capital of a considerable Shan principality. In 1888 it could count only about three hundred houses. Standing on the bank at the confluence of two streams, it is washed by water on two sides. On the other two sides it was defended by a teak palisade in bad repair. The town is well planned, being, like Rangoon and Mandalay, laid out in squares, with brick-paved roads at right angles to each other, one main road, likewise paved, running through the middle. Many pagodas, substantial structures of brick, and large and handsome monasteries of teak, ornament the inside of the town and also the spaces outside the walls. A Buddhist bishop, with jurisdiction over the whole of the north part of the Bhamo district, had his seat at Mogaung in 1887-8.


In the centre of the town were some very good houses belonging to the wealthier residents, and at the upper end the Chinese—who formed, as they do now, a large and important class of the inhabitants—had their quarters and their temple. Most of the trade in jade and rubber was in their hands, and their houses were as uncleanly here as in other towns of Burma. One of their chief employments was the manufacture of arrack, which they sold to the town's-people. The shops in their quarter reeked of it. Whatever the Indian Temperance Society may think, we cannot be accused of introducing alcohol or the vice of drunkenness into these regions. Orders were at once issued against selling liquor to the British soldiers. These orders were treated with indifference until a Chinaman was caught in the act. He was promptly flogged, and there were no more cases of the kind. Another race found at Mogaung was the cross-breeds between Chinese and Shans. "We noticed," says Major Adamson (short account, p. 27), "very many Chinese Shans.... They are strange, wild-looking people, as a rule rather short in size, but often strong and wiry. They are invariably dressed in a blue cotton jacket and loose blue Chinese trousers, and they wear their hair in a sort of long tail behind, more or less after the fashion of Chinese. They are each armed with a long sword, and as a rule each carries a bag, in which he keeps his eating utensils, food, and blanket."

In the river in front of Mogaung is an island, where the boats which bring jade and rubber from the north, and all sorts of miscellaneous merchandise from Bhamo,[248] were moored. A small bamboo bridge gave connection with the mainland. "The island is looked upon as a place of safety in the event of the Kachins attacking the town. Many of the villagers keep their valuables in boats for protection, and some women and children go nightly to sleep in the boats, where they consider they are safer than in their houses (ibid., p. 28)."

It was Major Adamson's duty to get into touch with the people, and procure the necessary intelligence concerning local politics and conditions. There was a man of influence in the town called Shwè Gya, who had been appointed by Major Cooke to be the nakan, or deputy, when Maung Kala was recognized as Myo-ôk. He could not get on with Po Saw when that person succeeded to power, and retired into private life. Shwè Gya was a man of some note and of strong individuality. He was a cross-breed between a Kachin father and an Assamese mother. But he had adopted the dress, habits, and religion of the Burmese Shans. He had been a soldier at one time, and understood Kachin tactics well. Being able to appreciate the power of the English, he threw in his lot with them. This man Major Adamson took into his confidence, and found him most useful and most loyal.

It was necessary for Adamson to be open to all comers and at all times. As this was not possible within the camp, he moved his quarters to a rest-house in the town, taking a small British guard for his protection. On Sunday, the 15th, his mind was relieved by learning that Po Saw had returned. A Durbar was arranged, to which all the notables were summoned. The officers of the force being present, Major Adamson received Po Saw formally, and after explaining the objects of the expedition and the general policy of the British Government, namely the establishment of peace and the encouragement of trade, he censured the Myo-ôk for his conduct, and called on him to explain it. Po Saw alleged that fear of being called to account for Lon Pein's murder had been the reason of his flight. Major Adamson accepted the excuse, and restored him to office. At the same time he assured the people that no one should be prosecuted for offences against the British Government committed before the arrival of[249] the expedition, except those who had been parties to the murder of the Chinaman.

O'Donnell and his police, who had fallen behind the column owing to the boats with their supplies having been delayed, had now arrived, and the work of building a fort for their occupation was begun. A site was chosen on a piece of ground in the middle of the town, bounded on one side by the river, of which the banks were very steep and formed a natural defence, leaving the other sides to be protected by palisades.

The mornings now were very cold and foggy, the thermometer falling to 45° or 50°. About nine o'clock the fog cleared off, and the climate was delightful. The soldiers were naturally eager to move. They were eating up their stores, and if the Kachins meant mischief the less time they had to prepare it, the better. A council of war was held. Major Adamson wished to wait until the Kachins had had time to arrive. His instructions were to avoid hostilities with the Kachin chiefs if possible. Po Saw had not summoned them to meet him as he had been ordered; the letters from the British Representative were only now reaching them. The Chinese, through Mr. Warry, also strongly urged delay. Moreover, nothing was yet known about the road to the jade-mines; and as it was found that, contrary to expectation, paddy for the transport animals could be procured from the villages in the neighbourhood, the arguments against delay lost some of their force. The council decided, after discussion, to halt for ten days.

During the next few days the chief work was the collection of materials for the fort and its construction, which was rapidly pushed on by Captain O'Donnell. Houses were also put in hand for the officers who were to remain in Mogaung, namely the Commandant of military police, the Assistant Commissioner, and a surgeon. Surveys were made of the neighbouring country, information about the roads and villages collected, and in short every preparation made for the advance.

On the 22nd of January, Shwè Gya reported to Major Adamson that the Myo-ôk Po Saw had disappeared once more. His conduct since his reinstatement had not been[250] good. It was decided to capture him if possible, and keep him a prisoner. He was reported to be in a village about five miles away. Taking fifty men and some mounted police, under the command of Captain Armstrong, of the Cheshire Regiment, Adamson descended on the village, surrounded it, and searched every house. There was no trace of Po Saw; but a man known to be in his service, and another who was recognized to be Bo Ti, his right-hand man, were made prisoners.

The final disappearance of Po Saw upset Major Adamson's plans. It was idle to expect that the influential Kachin chiefs would now come in. It was necessary to appoint a man to carry on the duties of the Myo-ôk. Shwè Gya was the best man, but he was not a Shan and the people would not have accepted him. With the consent of the townsfolk another member of Maung Kala's family was chosen and placed in authority, with Shwè Gya as the deputy and real working man. All this was done in public, and explained to the people. At this time some letters of a friendly tone came in, with presents from some Kachin chiefs whose hills were on the road to the jade-mines.

The time had come now for an advance. The fort was ready for occupation, and was defended by a substantial bamboo palisade, Captain O'Donnell, with all his police except a detachment of seventy-five, who formed part of the expeditionary force, were left to garrison it. Mr. Twomey, Assistant Commissioner, was placed in administrative charge, and orders were left for the despatch of Bo Ti and the other prisoner to Bhamo. On the 26th of January the march began. The troops forming the column under Captain Triscott's command were:—

Khelati Ghilzai Regiment100rifles
Gurkha Military Police75"
Cheshire Regiment50"
Bengal Mountain Battery2guns.
Yawgin with Crossbow.
(Mountains north of Myit Kyina.)
Kachin Women.
(Northern Irrawaddy.)


A field-hospital, under Surgeon-Major Barron, and a train of transport animals with provisions and commissariat stores for seven days, completed his equipment. Mr. Warry, a survey party, a forest officer, the Roman Catholic priest who acted as interpreter, Safdar Ali, and the new Myo-ôk, Poh Myah, with Shwè Gya, the deputy, and some armed followers, accompanied Major Adamson. Supplies were forwarded up by river to Kamaing, the first principal halting-place, thirty-three miles from Mogaung.

Before the force left a reconnoitring party had been sent up to Kamaing, and had reported the road to be very difficult. The report was not found to be exaggerated. Marching through elephant-grass and thick forest, which hid everything except the immediate neighbourhood, a hardly visible path, obstructed often by huge fallen trees; camping-grounds which had to be laboriously cleared of elephant-grass[46] and undergrowth, before standing-room could be found for the animals or resting-place for the men, with sometimes heavy rain which drenched every one, made the march anything but pleasant. All hardships, however, were born with cheerfulness; and as the country was new and unexplored, and there was a chance of a fight at any time, the men were full of spirit. They and their officers were true soldiers.

On the 30th the stream on the opposite bank of which lay Kamaing was reached. It ran deep, and the banks were precipitous. Fortunately, it was only about the width of a cricket pitch. Trees were felled and elephant-grass cut, and with the aid of a big trunk found sticking up in the bed of the river, a bridge was made, over which the whole force, laden animals and all, safely crossed. "Kamaing," writes Major Adamson, "is splendidly situated on a small hill, close to the river, at the point where its two main branches unite, the larger branch, the Nampoung, coming from the Indawgyi Lake in the south-west" (ibid., p. 40). It had been a flourishing town, as the still remaining monasteries and pagodas proved. These religious buildings were, however, deserted, the last monk having died a year before. Of the whole town only a few houses remained. The place had shared the fate of all this country in the Kachin rebellion of 1883. There were still a few shops, however, where Manchester goods could be bought, and articles of food for daily use were to be had. Country spirits and opium were also on sale.


Here letters came in from the two brothers who ruled the hills in which the jade-mines are situated. They were called Kansi Naung and Kansi Hla. Their tone was friendly, though they wrote with the hope of preventing the advance of our people from Mogaung. Answers were sent by mounted messengers, saying that the force was already at Kamaing and would continue its march next day, and assuring the Sawbwas of our peaceable intentions.

Starting from Kamaing on the 31st of January, the bank of the Indaw River was reached after some of the most difficult marches made during the expedition. The path was passable for men but not for a long line of laden animals. It was very swampy, with tall elephant-grass on each side, which had been set on fire to make the track passable. The men had to force their way through the charred stalks, and as there was a heavy fog at the time "the faces and clothes of the whole column were speedily as black as if they had been down a coal-mine." (Short account, p. 36.) For some distance every yard of the road had to be made by cutting down the tall, coarse grass and spreading it on the surface of the swamp until it would bear the weight of the animals. So they made their way, always through the tall grass, until the Indaw River was struck. Here it was decided to form a defensible camp, in which all superfluous animals, stores, and tents should be left, with a sufficient garrison to guard them, while the main body pushed on to the jade-mines. After their experience of the country, it was held to be dangerous to move with the whole train if there was any likelihood of fighting. Two days were occupied in preparing this camp, in getting some portion of the road cleared in advance, and in holding communication with a neighbouring Kachin Sawbwa.

On the 3rd of February the reduced column, in light fighting order, left Kamaing with seven days' provisions, loaded on some hundred and twenty-five mules. Each man carried two days' rations besides. Everything that could be done without, including tents, was left in the camp. It was as well, for the road continued difficult, and every bit of ground at the halting-places for the night had to be cleared. The march was sometimes in the bed of a stream sometimes through dense cane jungle growing in swamp. Hard work in deep mud, from which all sorts of noxious vapours rose, caused the men to sweat profusely, and exhausted the animals. Fortunately, through the medium of Shwè Gya, Major Adamson persuaded some of the Kachin villagers to approach him, and their services were hired for road clearing.

Bhamo Battalion drawn up for inspection.


On the 6th messengers from the jade-mine Sawbwas, Kansi Naung and Kansi Hla, were met, carrying letters for the Deputy Commissioner. The letters were quite friendly in tone, and invited the British force to halt on the bank of the Uyu River, where there were grass and water in plenty. Major Adamson was much relieved to get this communication, as it seemed to give promise of a peaceable visit to the mines.

The road ascended now through forest and thick bamboo undergrowth, and was very fatiguing. For the first time men were met carrying down loads of jade stone. The watershed between the Chindwin and the Irrawaddy was crossed, and the road then descended into an open plateau, out of the dense and dismal forest through which our march of seven miles had been. From 7 a.m. till 2 p.m. we had been steadily marching, but we had only been able to accomplish seven miles. Heavy rain fell that night and turned the camping-ground into a bog, and made the road for next day (February 6th) very heavy. The mud and water reached to the bellies of the mules, and in places the column was forced to leave the path and cut a new way through the forest. The Namthein, an affluent of the Uyu, had to be crossed several times, the water being up to a man's knee and the bed of the stream 50 yards broad.

At midday the weary force encamped on a tongue of land at the junction of the Namthein and Uyu Rivers. The camp was on a lovely spot. It faced southwards, and commanded a view of the junction of the two streams. On the right was the Uyu, a beautiful stream of from 75 to 100 yards from bank to bank, "as clear as crystal, and alive with fish, which kept rising to the surface in the evening, like trout in an English stream. The bed was generally rocky, full of large water-worn boulders; but for a short distance above[254] our camp there was a very deep pool under the opposite bank, while the shore on our side was sandy and gravelly, and sloped very gradually towards the deep part.... The spot which we selected for a camp was a beautiful triangular piece of ground, covered with short grass and a few bushes on the northern portion, and with a long tongue of shingle and sand stretching southwards to the place where the streams met."

In this pleasant place came a further letter to the leaders of the expedition from Kansi Naung, saying that he had given orders that the English should be treated well, and promising to come himself with presents.

Next day, however, brought only disappointment. A letter came from Kansi Naung saying that illness prevented him from keeping his promise. Other signs indicated that all was not right, and Shwè Gya, who had been hopeful hitherto, lost heart. The military leaders were for good reasons in favour of immediate action. Major Adamson, however, took the responsibility of giving Kansi Naung more time, and wrote to him peremptorily, saying that they could not wait, and that he must come in. On the 8th of February news came that Kansi Naung was at a village on the opposite side of the river, not a mile off. Shwè Gya was asked to go across to see him. But he declined, saying that he knew Kachins were on his track to murder him.[47] From two men who came across from the Sawbwa's camp, one of whom Major Adamson had met in Mogaung, it was learnt that emissaries from Po Saw had arrived, and were urging the Kachin chief not to visit the British.

The right course was now clear. Adamson told the men publicly to go back to Kansi Naung and tell him that if he did not appear before ten o'clock next day the column would advance to the jade-mines by force if necessary. Later in the day the polyglot and polygamous interpreter, Safdar Ali, volunteered to go to the Kachin camp to see if he could influence the Kachins, or at any rate find out what was in their minds. His offer was accepted. At the same time all was made ready for a fight. Next day (February 9th) Safdar Ali returned with a message from Kansi Naung that the Sawbwa would come, but that ten o'clock was too early for him.


Captain Triscott fixed the advancing or attacking force at one hundred rifles and one gun; the rest were not more than sufficient to defend the camp. The numbers of possible enemies might be large, and if the advance was opposed the camp also would probably be assailed. By nine o'clock the men had fallen in and were waiting for the order to march, when a large party appeared on the opposite side of the river. The leading man carried a fine pair of elephant tusks. It was evidently a friendly visit, and proved to be Kansi Naung with twelve other chiefs. The troops drawn up for a hostile advance were at once turned into a guard of honour. The military and civil leaders sat in chairs in front of the hut in which they had sheltered, and the Kachin Sawbwas on their arrival were seated on the ground in front of them. The tusks were presented and all the chiefs made their submission. Major Adamson assured them, Shwè Gya interpreting, that the British Government would respect their rights in the mines. They were warned against listening to Po Saw, who had been dismissed from the British service. Presents were given to each of them, and they were dismissed.

On their departure the troops immediately fell in and started for the jade-mines, which were reached after an uneventful march on a rough forest path, which rose to an altitude of fifteen hundred feet. There was not much to see. "A collection of about fifty houses and what appeared to be a large quarry, while all over the place were blocks of white stone of all sizes, some of which were tinged or streaked with green." The main object of the expedition, to obtain the submission of the Kachin chiefs and assert the authority of the Government and its right to the revenue from the mines, had been attained. As no water was to be had, and there were no rations for the men, the force, after a short rest, marched back to camp. Everything had gone well during their absence from the camp. But disquieting letters had come from Mogaung, telling of a Kachin assault on the stockade.

It remained now to explore the Indaw country. Taking only a small party from the camp, Adamson went in boats[256] up the Indaw River to the lake, a very fine piece of water, about sixteen miles long from north to south by six broad. He found the country round it to be naturally fertile and bearing marks of much former prosperity. But it had been the scene of the Kachin rebellion of 1883, which had its rising here, and here also the rebels had made their last stand. It had been devastated with all the ruthlessness of an Asiatic conqueror. It bore the marks of recent prosperity and a thick population. Good roads still united the ruined villages; nearly every little stream was crossed by solid teak bridges; sites of old villages still showed gardens of mango, jack, tamarind, and other fruit trees growing amongst monasteries and pagodas all absolutely deserted, amidst great stretches of splendid rice plains showing signs of recent cultivation. Yet only one small patch of land, about ten acres under tillage, and only in a few places some poor huts which, surrounded by double and treble stockades, showed the conditions under which the few surviving peasants lived.

It was hoped that with unlimited rice plains, a magnificent lake swarming with fish, a Government that would enforce peace, with open water communications and in the near future a railroad, this beautiful country would recover prosperity. All that can be said after a generation has passed is that "it is only beginning to recover from the devastation caused by the Kachin rising of 1883" (Burma Gazetteer, vol ii., p. 120, edit. 1908). So much easier is it to destroy than to restore.

The Indawgyi country being now explored, the party rejoined the main body at the Sakaw camp, and the force set out on its return march to Mogaung. They had left Mogaung on the 27th of January, and had marched for four weeks through jungles and marshes most favourable to a savage enemy skilled in ambuscade. Yet not a shot had been fired. Po Saw, however, had been busy with the Kachins. Mogaung had been attacked on the 3rd of February, and the report of this had reached Major Adamson. They were prepared, therefore, for hostilities, and before they reached Mogaung, on the 24th of February, they were attacked and lost several men.

The state of affairs at Mogaung was not very reassuring.[257] The people were in much alarm. Women and children were sleeping in the boats. The road was unsafe, and communication with the Irrawaddy was interrupted. The last boats, four in number, which left the town with the mails and some prisoners under a guard, had been fired on by Kachins; and a boatman and one of the Gurkha police were hit. No Chinese boat had ventured up the river for three weeks. The resident Chinese were putting their temple in order of defence, and every one expected that there would be fighting.

The expeditionary force had, however, to return to Bhamo. They had accomplished the work for which they had been detached. Major Adamson also was obliged to resume the charge of his district, which had been left more or less during his absence to a subordinate officer.[48] Mogaung, the town and the subdivision, were placed in the hands of Mr. Twomey, the Assistant Commissioner, supported by Captain O'Donnell and the military police, who were quite able to defend the stockade and the town, but were not strong enough to keep the country around in order, if the Kachins came down.

The arrangement was that Captain Triscott should march back by the land route through Mohnyin to Katha and open up the country which had not been explored. It had been intended originally to send a small force up from Katha to meet him. This proved impracticable, but a party of military police had occupied Mohnyin. Accordingly the expeditionary force marched back by this route. They were opposed several times by bodies of Kachins, who had fortified themselves in positions across the road. These enemies, however, were easily dislodged by the guns, and a junction with the military police was effected at Mohnyin. The rest of the return march was made without incident.

It was hardly to be expected in any case that Major Adamson's expedition should result in the immediate establishment of peace in the Mogaung country and in placing our relations with the Kachins on a friendly footing. To secure the submission of a wild people divided into as many tribes as there are hills in their country, and to bring them under a civilized system of government, is not the work of a few weeks. But it was hoped that more than a beginning had been made, and that time and the residence of British officers at Mogaung would do the rest.


Some untoward events had occurred to render this hope vain. The conduct of Po Saw in leaving Mogaung and taking refuge with the Kachins was the main cause of the difficulties which began to be felt early in 1888. If Major Adamson had been successful in capturing Po Saw when he made Bo Ti a prisoner, and if Bo Ti had been securely detained, much of the trouble which followed during the subsequent years 1888 and 1889, and even later, would have been avoided. Unfortunately the advantage accruing from Bo Ti's capture was soon to be lost. He was sent down to Bhamo and confined in the jail there. The jail, like other buildings in Upper Burma, was made of wood. It had a stout teak palisade round it, secure enough if the guard had been trustworthy. It happened that just at that time an attempt had been made to assassinate the Colonel commanding in Bhamo. While he was dressing for mess his body-servant crept up behind him as he stood at the glass and stabbed him in the back. The servant, a native of India, was arrested at once and locked up, pending trial, in the same jail with Bo Ti. These two conspired to escape. They scooped away the ground from the base of some of the big teak posts which formed the palisade and contrived to loosen them. The guard being either asleep or in collusion with them, they got away.

Bo Ti soon made his escape felt by our people at Mogaung. He joined Po Saw somewhere in the Kachin Hills, probably at Thama, and helped to raise the tribes. The influence of both these men over the Kachins was very great. In Po Saw's case it was probably more hereditary than personal. He was descended from the former ruling family, and with the Kachins as well as with the Burmans a drop of royal blood counts for much. Personally Po Saw seems to have been a treacherous and cowardly character. Bo Ti, on the contrary, was a bold leader and had some military capacity. The two together[259] were powerful for mischief; and it would have saved much hard work to our men and many lives if they had been shot in the beginning. However, there they were, and they had to be reckoned with. The assault on Mogaung and the attack on the column returning from the jade-mines (vide p. 256) were, in fact, the work of Po Saw.

For a short time after Major Adamson left with the expeditionary force there were no disturbances. But signs and rumours of Po Saw's activity were frequent. The attempts to stop the column on its way from Mogaung to Mohnyin were organized or instigated by him. In the latter half of April the rumours began to take shape, and the Kachins were said to be on the warpath. In the third week of April the headman of a group of villages in the rice plain south of Mogaung reported to the Assistant Commissioner that Bo Ti and three chiefs of the Ithi Kachin tribe had ordered him to join a party which they were organizing for an assault on Mogaung. If he refused, they threatened to destroy the village of Taungbaw in which he lived. They required him to meet them at a given place to settle details. At this time Mr. Twomey, owing to an accidental wound, had taken leave, and Lieutenant L. E. Eliott, a young soldier who had been appointed to the Commission, held his place. The headman proposed that a strong party should be sent from Mogaung to ambush Bo Ti and his friends when they came to the trysting-place. This proposal seemed to Lieutenant Eliott to be treacherous dealing which a British officer ought not to countenance, and he refused to join in it; a piece of high-minded chivalry somewhat misplaced under the circumstances. The headman having been advised by Lieutenant Eliott not to keep the appointment with Bo Ti lest treachery should be intended, left the fort.

Early next morning he ran in to report that before dawn Bo Ti, with some hundreds of men, had come to Taungbaw and were stockading themselves in the village. Taungbaw is four or five miles from Mogaung. Captain O'Donnell and Lieutenant Eliott, taking the mounted men and a company of Gurkhas, started at once for the scene of action, ordering reinforcements to follow. They met fugitives who confirmed[260] the headman's report, and said that Bo Ti was in strong force and was fortifying his position. Taungbaw is on a small hill rising abruptly from the plain, detached and about 400 yards distant from the main ridge, and about the same distance from a village called Zédi, which was occupied by friendlies, Burmese and Shan peasants, from the plain. Bo Ti had been too busy in strengthening his position to pay attention to the movements of these people.

When O'Donnell and his men were about six thousand paces from the hill, a signal shot was fired by the enemy's outpost. Advancing to within 400 yards, our men delivered several volleys. Each volley was answered by a Kachin cheer. Evidently they meant to make a stand. At this moment the reinforcements from Mogaung came up and it was decided to attack the Kachin position. The hill was steep and covered with thick bamboo jungle, very difficult to get through. The enemy could not be seen. Dividing his men into three parties, O'Donnell sent the mounted men round the left flank to form up in rear of the hills. Part of his infantry were sent round the right flank and told to get well under the hill. The remainder, led by the two British officers, then worked round the right flank, which seemed to offer the best openings for an ascent. As they crossed a narrow causeway in a paddy-field and a small bridge they drew the Kachin fire.

On coming into touch with the first party it was told to go farther on round the hill. The order was then given to advance with fixed bayonets. The bamboo jungle prevented the men from getting on fast. A heavy fire was kept up by the Kachins, but owing to the steepness of the ascent the bullets flew high and there were no casualties. Beyond the bamboo jungle was the village stockade, which was within 30 yards of Bo Ti's position. But when the Kachins saw the Gurkhas forcing their way through this stockade, they did not wait for the bayonet, but after firing a few shots bolted down the hill, our men chasing them.

At the bottom the mounted men took up the running, and it was a case of every man for himself, Unfortunately when the firing began some of the Mounted Infantry ponies were scared and broke away. Owing to this mischance the pursuit was less effective than it should have been. Even[261] so the affair was well managed and gave a lesson to the Kachins, who left eighteen dead near the village and on the line of flight, and several prisoners were also taken. The friendly villagers lay low during the fight. When it was all over they came to the front and began mutilating the dead in a barbarous fashion, and were driven off with difficulty and not without force.

Some anxiety was felt by Captain O'Donnell and Mr. Eliott lest Po Saw, learning that the greater part of the garrison had gone out, should attack the Mogaung stockade. Only sixty-six men, some of them sick, had been left in the fort—enough, perhaps, to hold it, but not to defend the town. Fortunately no attempt was made by Po Saw. At the time of the fight he was on his way to the jade-mines. He had attempted, as it was learnt afterwards, to come to Bo Ti's assistance, but he could not reach the scene of the fight in time.

The next month showed constant activity on the part of Po Saw and Bo Ti and their Kachin allies. Frequent attacks were made on boats going down or up the Mogaung River. It became necessary to send them in convoys with police guards. Villages near Mogaung were raided, and early in May Nanpapa, near Sinbo, was attacked, many villagers killed or carried away, and the village destroyed. Po Saw himself took up a position at Kamaing, where he could harass the traders on the route to the jade-mines and Indawgyi, and from which he could also threaten Mogaung. It was not possible for Captain O'Donnell to drive him away or to act on the offensive at any distance from the fort. Hence the enemy became more daring.

On the 21st of May, under cover of night, a large body of Shans, under Bo Ti, got into the town and took up positions within the low brick-wall enclosures of the pagodas, which, as has been described, were scattered about in and outside the town. The garrison, under Captain O'Donnell and Lieutenant Eliott, turned out against them. A really good fight followed, in which the enemy lost forty-nine men killed and many wounded, and were driven in confusion out of the town. They were nearly all Shans, some of whom had come from the Uyu country beyond[262] the jade-mines. The garrison lost twenty-three men killed and wounded. The Gurkhas were gallantly led, and behaved grandly, and on that day the Mogaung Levy won a name for itself.

The situation at Mogaung caused some anxiety. The garrison was too weak. Its strength was now only two hundred and ninety-two men, many of whom were sick, not enough to allow a force to leave the post for a day. Two hundred men were ordered up from Bhamo, and with that addition the garrison would be able to hold their own, but it would not suffice to enable them to punish the Kachins. Bo Ti was occupying a place called Nyaungbintha, in the midst of the Ithi tribe of Kachins, by whom he was strongly backed. At Kamaing on the north was Po Saw, supported by the Thama Sawbwa of the Lepei tribe, who appeared to be most hostile. There could be no permanent peace until the strength of these tribes should be broken.

At the earnest request of the Chief Commissioner two mountain-guns, with the necessary equipment, were given to the Mogaung Levy. There was some not unnatural reluctance on the part of the military authorities in India to trust an irregular force with artillery. But the excellent conduct of the men in the late fights, and the proved capacity of the gallant young soldier commanding them, overcame their unwillingness. It was impossible to allow Captain O'Donnell to attack stockades and to turn large bodies of the enemy out of strong positions without artillery. With only one British officer, or at the most two, a chance shot or a bamboo spike might deprive the force of its commander and cause a disaster. The Chief Commissioner pressed this argument, and asked to be allowed to raise the garrison of Mogaung to ten companies. Sanction was given in October.

It took time, however, to raise and train the additional companies of Gurkhas; and in any case the expeditions which the conduct of the Kachins had rendered necessary could not have been undertaken until the rains had passed. In the meanwhile, until the guns and reinforcements reached them, the Mogaung officers were instructed to concentrate their men in Mogaung, not to attempt to occupy outposts; to move about patrols of fifty men when the weather permitted[263] it; to strike at the enemy when they saw a good opening and could inflict real punishment; while leaving always enough men in the fort to defend it and the town. They were forbidden to make small and hasty expeditions into the Kachin Hills in order to retaliate on raiders. These restrictions were galling, no doubt, to Captain O'Donnell and to the Assistant Commissioner, Lieutenant L. E. Eliott, who was a keen soldier as well as a promising administrator. The Chief Commissioner, however, could not risk a catastrophe. Moreover, he held that spasmodic action of this sort, while exposing small parties of our men to much risk, only embittered the wild hill-men without impressing them with our strength, and was transient in its effects. The plan of subsidizing those chiefs who were not in arms against us, and could help to guard the trade routes or carry the mails, was recommended.

Present needs having been provided for, a plan of operations to be undertaken during the coming open season was framed by the Chief Commissioner, in consultation with Sir George White, and early in November it was sanctioned by the Government of India. Four separate operations were to be undertaken.

1. Against the Lepei tribe north of Mogaung, the leading chief being the Sawbwa of Thama, Po Saw's main supporter.

2. Against the Ithi tribe south of Mogaung, who were under the Sawbwa of Panga.

3. Against the Sana Kachins of the Lataung tribe, who had raided near Mogaung in May.

4. Against the Makau and other tribes in the neighbourhood of Sinbo, who were responsible for the destructive attack on Nanpapa in May, and for another in August on trading boats at Hlegyomaw on the Mogaung River.

The control of these operations was taken by Sir George White at the Chief Commissioner's request, the military police in the subdivision being placed at his disposal. While the necessary preparations were being made, letters of the nature of an ultimatum were sent to the Sawbwas of Thama and Panga and other tribal chiefs, requiring them to make formal submission to the subdivisional officer at[264] Mogaung, to pay for the damage done by them to traders, and to surrender Po Saw and Bo Ti, who had lately added to their crimes the murders of Shwè Gya, the best friend the British Administration had in Mogaung, and of the loyal headman of Kamaing who had always helped us.

On the 7th of January, 1889, the force[49] detailed for these expeditions left Mogaung under command of Captain O'Donnell.[50] The first step was to occupy Kamaing, after a very slight opposition by the Thama Sawbwa's men, and to establish a permanent military police post there. Unfortunately smallpox broke out amongst the Gurkhas of the Levy, and Captain O'Donnell found it necessary to halt at Kamaing until the 15th of February, and thus a whole month of the most favourable season for military operations was lost.

On the 15th of February, the men's health having been restored, the force fell to work with energy, and engagement rapidly followed engagement. On the 16th of February three villages were taken after some resistance. On the 17th the Kachins were encountered on a strongly stockaded position, which was taken and destroyed. On the 19th Thama itself was taken. The enemy here showed more fight. Three men of the Hampshires received gunshot wounds, and two officers and eleven men were injured by bamboo spikes.


Captain O'Donnell's report gives the following account of this engagement, which shows the nature of the fighting in these expeditions:—

"My guide, who had done splendidly up to this, lost me four valuable hours in finding the road. He struck it at last, and after a severe climb of 4½ miles, we came out near the village of Thama. On arriving at the crest of the hill Lieutenant Eliott, Assistant Commissioner, received a letter, stuck in a stick on the road, from Thama Sawbwa, in which he said we might come and burn his village, he would do nothing but hide in the jungle, &c. This put us on our guard, and we went on cautiously over the crest, and then saw what appeared to me through my glasses, a garden paling. I examined it well, but found nothing suspicious about it. However, I ordered the advance with all caution. The Hants were in front, the Gurkhas forming flanking parties in rear. When about sixty yards from the place we could not make out that it was more than a paling, when suddenly we were saluted by a volley from many guns. Three Hants men fell under this badly wounded, but the remainder walked off the road into the jungle and poured in some very steady volleys. The Gurkhas were quickly up on the right flank, and the guns were brought up and two rounds fired at the stockade, and then with a wild cheer it was rushed and taken, the rebels not waiting....

"Blood was found here. I went on, leaving the rear-guard to bring on the wounded. We came before a second stockade; we were again saluted, but no casualties occurred, and one round from a gun and another charge made us masters of this also. In this charge much damage was done us, two officers and eleven rank-and-file being spiked by bamboo spikes. Captain Macdonald and I were both spiked through the foot. After this no more opposition was met with and Thama was entered and destroyed. A search in the jungle was made, but nothing found. After the sick had been attended to I returned to camp, meeting no opposition en route."

On the 21st of February a place called Muklon was assaulted and taken. Here Lieutenant Hawker, of the Hampshire Regiment, fell badly wounded—spiked in the[266] thigh. He was sent down to Bhamo, where he died of the wound. By the 9th of March the operations against the Lepei tribe had been completed, all their villages or stockades taken, and large quantities of grain captured. Our losses amounted to twenty-one officers and men killed and wounded. The Kachin loss is not known; it was probably very small, as they made no firm stand.

After little more than a day's rest Captain O'Donnell moved out again, this time against the Ithi tribe to the south of Mogaung. He established a post at Nyaungbintha, in the centre of their territory. By the 28th of March ten villages of this tribe had been taken with very little fighting. The village of Waranaung, of which the chief had been loyal in every respect since the occupation of Mogaung, was carefully preserved from injury.

On the 4th of April a move was made against Sana, which fell without an effort.

The column now turned south to Sinbo, and from that base moved out to punish the villages concerned in the barbarous raids on Nanpapa and Hlegyomaw. The villages concerned having been taken after some resistance, the task assigned to Captain O'Donnell was completed on the 4th of May.

In these four expeditions our casualties amounted to one officer and three men killed, and five officers and thirty men (including followers) wounded. The column was engaged with Kachins thirty-two times, and took forty-six stockades. Owing to the loss of a month by the sickness at Kamaing, the work was more hurried than the Chief Commissioner had designed. The results, however, were very good, and had been obtained with more ease and less bloodshed than had been expected. By the occupation of Kamaing, the trade route to the jade-mines was opened and made safe. The Marip tribe who dominate the jade-mines, and the Sassum tribe who adjoin the amber-mines, were freed from Po Saw's pressure and their loyalty assured. Villages from the Kachin tribes came in by scores to make formal submission to the Assistant Commissioner at Mogaung. Of the Thama Sawbwa's villages only Thama and two others held out; the Ithi tribe, the Kachins round Sinbo, and the Lakun tribe south of the Ithi country all[267] submitted. In short, the peace of the district was secured and the authority of the Government established.

From the number of casualties it might be inferred that the service was one of little danger. The inference would be wholly wrong. The column was engaged in bush or jungle fighting with the enemy almost every day, and if our casualties were not greater it was due as well to the precautions taken by the leader and to his skilful tactics as to the failure of the Kachins to defend their stockades. The heaviest part of the work fell on the Gurkhas of the Mogaung Levy (military police), who furnished the flanking parties. Without them the force must have lost heavily. "The flanking done by the Gurkhas was splendid indeed, and it is entirely owing to their jungle work that I had not more casualties."[51] The column marched over six hundred and fifty miles, fighting continually, and the men's clothes and boots were torn to pieces. It was a fine display of patient endurance, courage, and persistence, in face of great difficulties, by officers and men. The Commander, Captain O'Donnell, was one of the soldiers to whom the Administration of Burma in those days owed so much. And he was greatly assisted by Lieutenant L. E. Eliott, to whom fell the difficult duty of providing good guides and correct information.

Captain O'Donnell concluded his report on the results of the operations with a notice of Lieutenant W. Hawker, of the Hants Regiment. "He was spiked through the thigh while gallantly leading his men in a charge at Mukton on the 15th of March, 1889. He was attached to the Mogaung Levy for these operations. He was senior to Lieutenant Benson, and might have taken command of the levy from that officer." But he showed "a sincere spirit in the welfare of the service" in refusing to supersede Lieutenant Benson, who belonged to the Indian Army and knew the men and their language. "He volunteered to take charge of the transport on the line of march, and this he did until Captain Macdonald was wounded. He was commanding the Hants men when he received his death-wound."


[41] A lesson enforced by many examples in Upper Burma was that until a country in the process of annexation can be held permanently, it is useless and sometimes cruel to occupy it and leave it after a time. The following is taken from a report on the Ava district: "Myotha is a large village which had previously welcomed and aided British detachments, and had as a consequence been plundered by the rebels on their departure. Most of the inhabitants were in hiding in the jungles; they came in on hearing of the arrival of the troops, but were much distressed at their leaving."

[42] Vide a short account of the expedition to the jade mines by Major C. H. E. Adamson, C.I.E., Deputy Commissioner of Bhamo (J. Bell & Co., Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1889).

[43] Colonel Hugh O'Donnell, D.S.O. He raised the Mogaung Levy, and served all through the Burma business, 1886-91, and did excellent work.

[44] Colonel Charles Prideaux Triscott, R.A., C.B., D.S.O.

[45] Present population something under 3,000. The Myit Kyina Railway has a station at Mogaung.

[46] At some places the grass had to be trodden down by marching the men backwards and forwards.

[47] This was not a mere suspicion. He was marked down and assassinated soon after this (vide p. 264).

[48] It must be remembered that we had not a spare man in these years; while the overworked civil staff, especially the best of them, were often disabled by sickness and compelled to leave.

 { Capt. Macdonald.
Hants Regiment—51 rifles{
 { Lieut. Richards.
Mountain Battery} 2 guns, Capt. Fuller, R.A.
  No. 2 Bengal}
320 Mogaung Levy{ Lieut. Benson, Munster Fusiliers, Commanding.
  (Gurkhas and{ Lieut. Hawker, Hants Regiment.
  Sikhs){ Lieut. Manning, South Wales Borderers.
Mr. Crowther, Inspector of Police.
Lieut. Clements, Staff Officer.
Lieut. Eliott, Assistant Commissioner, Political Officer.
Col. Cronin, Senior Medical Officer.
Mr. Ogle, India Survey Department.

[50] Under military regulations Captain O'Donnell, being in command of troops called Military Police, would have been unable to command regular troops, and thus his experience and ability would have been lost. This difficulty was easily avoided by Sir George White.

[51] Captain O'Donnell's report.



South of Bhamo when we took the country was a Shan State known as Möng Leng, and adjacent to it and separating it from the district of the Ruby Mines was another Shan State named Möng Mit. The two together covered a large area, including the lower valley of the Shwèli and stretching from the southern boundary of Bhamo to the northern and north-western limits of the Northern Shan States of Tawngpeng and North Hsenwi. Neither of them was included in the list of Shan States proper. They were much mixed up with the adjacent British districts Bhamo Katha and the Ruby Mines. They were little interested in the politics of the Shan States; and being more easily accessible to the Burmese and very open to Kachin raids, they had not much cohesion or independence. For these reasons they were not placed under the jurisdiction of the Superintendent of the Northern Shan States, but were dealt with by the Commissioner of the Northern Division.

At the time of the annexation the Sawbwa of Möng Mit had died. His heir, a minor, was under the tutelage of the Amats, or ministers, who formed a council to rule the State; which, as well as its neighbour, Möng Leng, was in great disorder. The diverse races which people this country, Kachins and Palaungs[52] in the hills, Burmans and Shans in the more open parts, make it hard to govern. In Möng Leng there was in 1886-7 no central authority. In Möng Mit the administration was very feeble. The Kachins were in the ascendancy. They were ousting the Palaungs, and trampled on the more peaceful villagers of the plains. But even the Kachins had no cohesion and obeyed no central authority. Each chief did what seemed best in his own eyes; he raided and blackmailed every village that lay within reach of his hills. The formation of the country, a jumble of hills covered with dense jungle, through which the drainage of the higher ranges forces its way naturally, produced an unruly race. The only open tract of any extent is the valley of the Lower Shwèli from Myitson to the Irrawaddy at Pyinlebin.

Getting a Dhoolie up an awkward bit.
Climbing up the steep Chin Hills.
Chin Campaign.


Early in 1886 one Hkam Leng came to the Deputy Commissioner of the Bhamo district which touches Möng Leng on the south, and claimed to be recognized as the chief of both Möng Leng and Möng Mit. He was told that his claim would be inquired into, and that meanwhile he should remain quietly in Katha. Towards the end of the year, however, growing impatient, he went to Möng Mit and presented himself to the people as their Sawbwa. But they rejected him without ceremony. He applied to the Deputy Commissioner for assistance without success, and then became irreconcilable and a centre of disturbance.

The ministers of Möng Mit, on the other hand, were loyal and helpful. To the extent of their power—not much, it is true—they gave active assistance to the British force which occupied the Ruby Mines in 1886-7. In April, 1887, the Chief Commissioner being at Mogok, the headquarters of the Ruby Mines district, received the ministers of Möng Mit there and inquired into the facts. Finding that the title of the young Sawbwa was good, he confirmed him in his position. It was decided to appoint a regent, assisted by the ministers, to govern the State until the young chief should come of age. The boundaries of Möng Mit territory were defined, and Hkam Leng was formally warned against overstepping them, while at the same time he was assured that if he came in and made submission to the Government he should be recognized as chief of Möng Leng. In despite of this he attacked villages in Möng Mit and endeavoured to establish himself by force of arms.

During 1887 he continued in open hostility. Several[270] small expeditions had to be made against him; and the southern border of the Bhamo district, as well as the Möng Leng country and the Kachins in all the hills about, were kept in a restless state. As it was found impossible to reconcile him, Hkam Leng was outlawed and the Möng Leng country partitioned. The northern part was added to the Bhamo district as the Upper Sinkan township; the remainder was made over to Möng Mit, to which it had at one time been subject.

Hkam Leng, however, was by no means disposed of. He lurked for the most part in the Kachin Hills to the east of the Möng Leng country, and was frequently in the villages along the upper reaches of the Sinkan. To him another restless spirit was soon allied. In 1886 the two sons of the Hmethaya Prince, one of King Mindon's numerous progeny, had made themselves prominent in resisting the British Government. Their cause was taken up by a notable guerilla leader, Shwè Yan, who raised their standard in the Ava district. Driven out of Ava at the end of 1886, they took hiding in Mandalay, where a plot was hatched for supporting their claims. The conspiracy was discovered and the leaders arrested. The younger Prince was captured and sent to school in Rangoon. The elder, Saw Yan Naing, escaped to Hsenwi, and failing to get help there retired to the mountainous and very difficult country on the borders of Tawnpeng and Möng Mit. There he made his quarters in a strong position not easy to approach, and gathered round him a band of discontented and desperate characters. No attempt was made during 1887-8 to dislodge him, and he contented himself with threatening Möng Mit. He was invited to surrender, and favourable terms were offered to him. The only wish was to relieve the country from his presence. But he would have no truck with us.

Early in 1889 reports came in from Bhamo and other sources that Saw Yan Naing and Hkam Leng had agreed to unite forces and make simultaneous attacks on various points in the north. They were reported to be enlisting the aid of Kachin tribesmen, Chinese bandits from across the border, and Burmese outlaws. Risings were to be organized in the Upper Sinkan township and a descent[271] made on Möng Mit. Even the date for the rising was fixed. Whether there was any systematic concert or not was never ascertained, but a good many outbreaks occurred without any visible connection and of no great magnitude, but enough, taken all together, to harass both soldiers and police, as well as those responsible for the administration. From the Ruby Mines district as early as the last week in December had come reports of a gathering, headed by Saw Yan Naing, at Manpun, in the hills, three marches from the town of Möng Mit. A detachment from the Hampshire Regiment was sent from Bernard Myo, the Cantonment of the Ruby Mines, to Möng Mit, to garrison the town, while the State levies went out to act against the body of rebels at Manpun.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Nugent, who was in command at Möng Mit, hearing that there were some dacoits a few miles off, went with sixteen men of the Hampshires to attack them. The dacoits were strongly posted. Lieutenant Nugent and one private were killed and six men wounded. The remaining nine men, encumbered with the wounded, had to retire. This disaster happened on the 14th of January. Lieutenant Nugent was a young officer without experience of the country, and he ought not to have been left without some one capable of advising him.

It was promptly retrieved. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Archibald Colquhoun, getting together troops and police, renewed the attack on the enemy's position and drove them out with much loss. On the 20th of January the village or town of Twingé, on the Irrawaddy, was taken and burnt by one of Hkam Leng's adherents. No attempt was made on Möng Mit after that date, and no formidable bands were encountered, although the Ruby Mines districts and the adjacent parts of Möng Mit were harassed by small gangs of robbers. A feeling of anxiety, however, prevailed and begat alarming rumours. The imagination of Shans, Burmans, and perhaps of other nervous persons, is fertile in the matter of numbers, and loves to deal in large figures. At the end of January hostile gatherings at different points, amounting to nearly two thousand men—a quite impossible number—were reported from Mogok, the headquarters of the Ruby Mines district. With a view[272] to allaying these apprehensions the garrisons there and at Möng Mit were strengthened.

The Chief Commissioner thought it best, under the circumstances, to place the control in the hands of one man, and at his request Sir George White appointed Colonel Cockran, of the Hampshires, to command all the troops and military police in the disturbed area, with orders to take the measures necessary for the peace of the country and for the destruction of such gangs as might be found. Up to the end of March, however, no important action was taken, as no large body of the enemy had been located.

On the 30th of March a column under Major Garfit, of the Hampshire Regiment, was dispatched against Saw Yan Naing, who was still at Binbong, near Manpun. Four stockades were taken without loss on our side, and Saw Yan Naing and his following fell back for the time. The Chief Commissioner intended, and had arranged with the Major-General commanding, that this column should remain in Binbong and the neighbourhood at least till the middle of April, in order to make our influence felt in these wild parts and to co-operate with a police force which had been sent through Mönglong, a sub-State of Hsipaw, lying south-west of Möng Mit, and also to join hands with Lieutenant Daly, the Superintendent of the Northern Shan States, who was ordered to come with military police through Tawnpeng. Unfortunately the officer commanding misunderstood his instructions, and leaving Binbong on the 6th of April returned to Möng Mit. The expedition consequently was not very fruitful of results, and Saw Yan Naing returned to the neighbourhood and took up his quarters at Manton a little farther north.

Unluckily, Lieutenant Daly was unable to leave his headquarters at Lashio until the 7th of April. He then proceeded to Tawnpeng in accordance with the orders he had received from the Chief Commissioner, directing him to co-operate if possible with the force acting against Saw Yan Naing. Lieutenant Daly had been instructed also to get into communication with the Prince, and to renew the offer of terms if he would surrender.


In January, when at Hsipaw, Lieutenant Daly had met a Shan who had been with Saw Yan Naing in July and August of the year preceding (1888); this man undertook to take letters to the pretender. He arrived at Möng Mit soon after the defeat of the band which had gathered near that place, and heard that the Prince had left Manpun after that encounter, in which one of his chief followers, besides many others, had fallen. The messenger, therefore, was unable to deliver the letters. However, in March Lieutenant Daly, being at Hsipaw, again met this man, and sent him off with fresh letters to the Prince. Again fortune was adverse. Major Garfit delivered his attack just before Lieutenant Daly's man reached Manpun, and the Prince had gone. However, he had not gone far, and was found by the messenger in Möng Mit territory, in a Palaung village. He had a following of one hundred men, more or less, of whom twenty were Burmans, the rest Shans and Kachins; none of them men of note. As Saw Yan Naing had been attacked only two or three days before by the column from Möng Mit, he was not disposed to trust the promises made to induce his surrender. Nevertheless, he behaved as a Prince should. The messengers were allowed to stay four days in his camp, and were hospitably treated.

They were then dismissed with a polite letter, to the effect that "he had not plotted against the Government, but that on account of his past offences he feared to come in, that he had no wish for Government alms" (an allowance had been offered to him); "and that he would take to flight if Lieutenant Daly came near his camp." He had married the daughter of a Kachin chief. It may be that beyond allowing himself to be made the centre of disturbance he had taken no active part in the movements made in his name. None the less his presence in British territory was the cause of trouble.

While these events were passing in Möng Mit a watchful eye had to be kept on other parts of the district. Towards the end of December, 1888, the Deputy Commissioner of Bhamo received news of the appearance of a Mintha, or prince of some kind, on the Molè River, north-east of Bhamo. This Prince gave out that he was[274] in concert with Saw Yan Naing, and his plans may have been conceived with the design of acting with Saw Yan Naing and Hkam Leng. The rising appeared to be somewhat formidable. It was promptly met. Mr. Segrave, the Superintendent of Police, was sent out at once with a strong detachment of military police. He encountered the band, which was made up mainly of Chinese brigands and deserters from the Chinese army, on the 9th of January, 1889, and punished it severely, killing more than fifty men. The rest dispersed and escaped, probably over the Chinese border. The peace of the district north of Bhamo was not disturbed again during the year. The connection of this band with Saw Yan Naing was not established. In their camp were found papers showing that they were in communication with the leaders of the Mogaung malcontents, namely, the Sawbwa of Thama and Po Saw.

Hitherto it had been found impossible to post military police in the Upper Sinkan township. The difficulty of communication, especially in the rains, was great, and the climate very hurtful. The best possible arrangement was made by appointing a Kachin of much influence to act as magistrate and executive officer, and this man had been able to keep order, at least on the surface. His headquarters were at Sikaw. In December, 1888, Mr. Shaw, the Deputy Commissioner, visited Sikaw and also Si-u, an important village near the head of the Sinkan stream. He learnt that Hkam Leng, who was allied by marriage to the Kachin chiefs of the Lweseng and Tonhon range in the east of the township, was harboured by them, and from time to time came down to Si-u and levied contributions from the peasants. The Kachin magistrate had followed the Burman plan of shutting his eyes to that which it was inconvenient to see, and, lest he should incur his superior's displeasure, he said nothing about it. He was warned against permitting Hkam Leng to enter his township, and ordered to send speedy information to Bhamo if he should reappear. This warning had a good effect. Early in January, 1889, he reported that Hkam Leng had returned to Si-u, and was corresponding with a pretended Prince at Hpon Kan, a hill range thirty miles from Bhamo, a very nest of hornets.[275] At the same time information was received from other sources that a large gathering of Chinese and Burmese, said to number five hundred men, were at Hpon Kan.

The Chief Commissioner was at Bhamo at the end of January. He arranged that a patrol of troops should visit Sikaw and Si-u at least once a month. Unfortunately something prevented the despatch of the military patrol, and on the 3rd of February the duty was entrusted to a party of fifty military police. On the 4th of February, at Malin, a village on the Sinkan River, about twenty miles from Si-u, the police came on a large body of rebels strongly stockaded. They attacked the stockade, but were repulsed, losing two men killed and ten wounded and all their baggage.

A strong column, consisting of 60 rifles of the Hampshire Regiment, 150 of the 17th Bengal Infantry, and two guns, left Bhamo as soon as news of this disaster came in. On the 7th of February, after driving in their outposts, this force engaged the enemy at Malin, where they were holding a strong position. They stood their ground with more than usual courage, and were not dislodged without some severe fighting, which cost us the loss of one officer and four men killed and eighteen wounded. The pursuit was carried for some distance, but they did not rally, and dispersed over the country. It was ascertained that this rising had been organized by Hkam Leng and Saw Yan Naing. In fact, the nucleus of the gang was a body of eighty or ninety men from the Prince's headquarters at Manpun joined by large numbers of villagers, some of their own free will, some under compulsion. The villages that furnished contingents were fined, the police force increased at the cost of the township, and the population as far as possible disarmed. No attempt was made to punish the individuals who had taken part in the business. Hkam Leng retired to his Kachin wife and allies in the hills.

Late in May an attempt was made to capture him, but it was frustrated by his Kachin supporters, who afterwards came down in force and occupied Si-u. On the 2nd of June they were attacked by troops and police and driven out, losing twenty-one killed. The police force in the Upper[276] Sinkan was reinforced again. The rains being now at hand, further action had to be postponed.

Everything united to obstruct the work of bringing this part of the country into order. The hills and forests, the neighbourhood of the Chinese frontier, the character of the people, Kachins and Palaungs, who had to be dealt with piecemeal hill by hill, and had never submitted to any central control, all combined to make it a very hard task. The Burmese officials may have had some control over the tribes. But probably so long as they did not make too much disturbance the hill-men were left to do as they liked. When there is no government things arrange themselves, and a limit is automatically fixed which the raiding tribes cannot exceed without exhausting their preserves. The advent of the British cut the weak bonds by which the hill people had been held, and the appearance of Saw Yan Naing and Hkam Leng as active opponents of the foreign invaders gave them a rallying-point.

The first step towards peace was the capture or expulsion of these two leaders, both of whom, it may be noted, following the example of more enlightened princes, had cemented their alliances by marriage with Kachin ladies of rank. It was decided, therefore, so far as the northern part of the province was concerned, to devote the open season of 1889-90 to the complete subjugation of this tract of country. If possible, the two leaders were to be got rid of. In any case the recalcitrant Kachins and others were to be reduced to obedience and the authority of the Möng Mit State over its outlying parts affirmed. In the district north of Bhamo nothing called for immediate action. A strong body of seasoned Gurkhas from the Mogaung Levy under Captain O'Donnell could be detached to strengthen the column of troops provided from the Bhamo garrison.

It was arranged accordingly that one column should go to Si-u and move early in December against the Lwèseng and Ton Hon Kachins and then move on to Manpun; and that a second, starting from Möng Mit, should join the first at Manpun, while at the same time the Superintendent of the Northern Shan States (Lieutenant Hugh Daly) should move with some of the Shan Levy (Indian military police) through Hsenwi and act with the first two columns; and a fourth column, also of military police under Mr. H. F. Hertz, Assistant Superintendent of Police, should work up from the south-east through Möng Löng and along the Tawnpeng Möng Mit boundary.

Bargaining with Haka Chins.


Instructions were given to the Sawbwas of Tawnpeng and North Hsenwi to take measures to stop the passage of fugitives through their States. There was a reasonable hope that these measures, although they might not effect the capture of the leaders, would establish the authority of the British Government and bring home to the people of this difficult tract the inconvenience of resistance.

The Bhamo column, commanded by Major Blundell, accompanied by Mr. G. W. Shaw, the Deputy Commissioner, left Bhamo on the 15th of December, 1889, for Sikaw. The tribes began to take in the situation. Twelve hills or groups of the Lakun tribe came to Sikaw to make formal submission, and one of their leading men volunteered to guide the force against Lwèseng. This was a good beginning. Major Blundell, sending forward a detachment to Si-u to keep the road open, left Sikaw on the 20th of December and marched on Lwèseng. A party of Gurkhas under Captain O'Donnell was ordered to take up a position at the ferries in the rear of the Lwèseng Range, which were said to be the only places where the Shwèli River could be crossed. Several other such points, however, were found, and at one of them were signs that the fugitives had already crossed over. While making this reconnaissance Captain O'Donnell's men were exposed to Kachin fire from the hills, and a very distinguished Gurkha officer (Kala Thapa Sing) fell.

The main body reached Lwèseng on the 22nd of December. A stockade across the road a mile from the village was defended by Kachins, and in taking it a native officer was killed and five men wounded. The village was found deserted, and was occupied by our men. There was some sniping from the hill-slope afterwards, and two were wounded. Next day the force advanced to Ton Hon. Two stockades erected across the road were defended, but were turned, with the loss of two men wounded, and Ton Hon was occupied without further fighting. But again the Kachins fired from the hills into the village, and one[278] Gurkha was killed and another wounded. A halt was made at Ton Hon for some days in order to open communications with the Kachins, in the hope of bringing them to terms. The elders of Lwèseng and Ton Hon and other neighbouring villages came in. The Deputy Commissioner selected seven villages which had opposed the troops and harboured rebels, and imposed on them a fine of money (Rs. 2,500) and guns (50). By the 30th of December all the villages belonging to these tribes had submitted and part of the fine had been paid. The chiefs, however, still held aloof.

On the 3rd of January, 1890, the column left for Manton, leaving a Burmese civil officer, supported by a detachment of the 17th Bengal Infantry, to collect the balance of the fine. Manton was reached without any fighting on the 11th of January; and the column from Möng Mit marched in on the same day. The village was found deserted, and Saw Yan Naing had fled. He made his escape, it was said, into the Chinese territory of Chefan. On his road through Northern Hsenwi he just missed falling into the hands of Mr. Daly, who arrived at Manton on the 16th of January. Thus the three parties met and were able to exchange information. After a few days' halt Mr. Daly continued his tour through Hsenwi territory, while the Möng Mit and Bhamo columns waited at Manton for supplies. Some villages which had been hostile were visited; and as a large body of Kachins and Palaungs was reported to have gathered at Lanchein, a few miles south of Manton, where Saw Yan Naing had stayed on his flight, two detachments were sent out to disperse them. Stockades had been built across the road and were stubbornly defended by the enemy. Here Major Forrest, in leading one of the detachments, was severely wounded. The village was taken and destroyed, while the troops returned to Manton.

It was now decided that the Möng Mit party under Major Greenaway, with Mr. Daniell as civil officer, should move south to Manpun, while the Bhamo column remained at Manton. On the way Mr. Daniell was met by the headmen of the villages between Manton and Manpun who had come to tender their submission to the British Government. They were told that if Saw Yan Naing was with[279] them he must be given up, and fines were imposed on those groups or circles of villages which were known to have given the rebel leaders active help.

By the 25th of January all the headmen of the five hills or circles comprised in the south-western quarter of the Möng Mit State had made formal submission. On the 26th of January Mr. Hertz, who had marched from the south-east through Möng Löng with his military police, arrived in Manton. The rough country along the Taungbaing border had been entrusted to him to search—a duty he performed well, while as a by-work he constructed a very useful map of the ground. The Möng Mit column moved to Yabon, a village nearer to Möng Mit, and from its position a better base for operations. News was now received that Hkam Leng was in hiding in Sumput, a village north of the Shwèli. Major Greenaway, accompanied by Mr. Shaw, marched with a part of his force for Sumput by way of Molo, which ferry was reached on the 1st of February. Hkam Leng, however, had left Sumput, and Major Greenaway moved across the Shwèli to Kyungyaung.

Convinced by the experience of these operations that the mere movement of troops through the country was ineffectual, the Chief Commissioner decided to take rougher measures to bring home to the people of this tract the power of the Government, and to convince them that they could not support these disturbers of the peace with impunity. Orders were issued, therefore, to arrest and deport the headmen of the villages which aided and sheltered the two leaders. These orders reached Mr. Shaw at Kyungyaung and were executed at once. The headmen of twelve villages who had been most active were arrested and sent into Bhamo, and at the same time monthly fines were imposed on their villages. Similar measures were adopted under Mr. Daniell and Mr. Hertz's supervision in the circles which had befriended Saw Yan Naing. But in spite of the efforts of the civil and military officers, who spared neither themselves nor their men, the capture of Saw Yan Naing and Hkam Leng was not effected.

The open season was now drawing to a close. It seemed unlikely that further action on the lines followed hitherto would have much more success. The Chief Commissioner[280] asked Brigadier-General Gatacre to visit the country with Mr. Shaw and see if they could advise any other measures more adapted to the nature of the case. Early in March, with a strong force, General Gatacre visited Si-u Ton Hon and Lwèseng, north of the Shwèli, and then went southward through Molo to Manton. He reported the country through which he passed to be quiet and the people to be submissive. Leaving a party of one hundred rifles, including forty Mounted Infantry, at Sipein with Mr. Shaw, to work the circles north of the Shwèli, and Mr. Daniell with one hundred rifles at Manton to work south of that river, he withdrew the remainder of the troops. Proclamations were issued, with the Chief Commissioner's approval, warning the people of the consequences of opposing the troops and promising reduction or remission of the fines that had been imposed if the leaders of the revolt were surrendered. On the 28th of March the headmen gave Mr. Shaw a formal engagement to observe the terms of the proclamation, and he was able to withdraw the troops and return to Bhamo.

Before the close of the operations the headman of Manton, who was one of the most obstinate adherents of Hkam Leng and had hitherto evaded arrest, was captured by the Kachins of the neighbouring circles and delivered to Mr. Daniell. He was deported to Mogok, the headquarters of the Ruby Mines district. All this country, it should be remembered, known as the Myauk-Kodaung (the northern nine hills), estimated to contain 2,500 square miles, belongs to the Möng Mit State. On the withdrawal of the troops an official of that State was left in charge with a force of the Sawbwa's militia to keep order. Before the British troops left the Kachin Sawbwas entered into solemn engagements to keep the peace, to shut their hills against Saw Yan Naing, and to obey the Möng Mit Sawbwa to whom they are subject.

Some progress had been made by the middle of 1889 towards the establishment of order. The root of the trouble, however, lay in the weakness of the Möng Mit administration. The most effectual measure undoubtedly would have been to place the State directly under the administration of a British officer. This method of meeting[281] the difficulty was considered and set aside by the Chief Commissioner. In the earlier years of our rule there were strong reasons against absorbing any of these quasi-independent territories. It was our settled policy to maintain the Shan States in the position they enjoyed under the Burmese Government. The absorption of one of them would have alarmed the others just when we were striving to win their confidence and to bring them peacefully into the fold. For this reason mainly the Chief Commissioner refused to wipe out the Kalè State, although in that case there were much stronger reasons for adopting this course (vide Chapter XXI., pp. 291, 292), and a desire not to depart from this line of policy led him to treat Wuntho with forbearance. In the present instance, moreover, the Möng Mit chief was a minor; his ministers might be accused of incapacity but not of dishonesty or hostility.

It was sought by other means to improve the administration of Möng Mit. Saw Möng, who had been ejected by his enemies from his hereditary State of Yawnghè (vide pp. 142-143), at the time of the annexation was selected as a man of some power and of known loyalty and placed as regent in Möng Mit. The experiment did not succeed. Whether from want of sufficient governing power or because, not being their hereditary chief, he met with little support from the people, Saw Möng[53] failed, and in 1892 it was found necessary to place the State temporarily under the Deputy Commissioner of the Ruby Mines, who governed it as part of his district until the year 1906, when the young Sawbwa came of age, and was entrusted with the administration of his State. He is doing well. Saw Yan Naing and Hkam Leng did not appear on the scene again. What has become of them is not known, and it is hardly necessary to inquire. It is hard to see what use they served except to try the endurance of our people and to harass the souls of their compatriots.

The narrative as regards Möng Mit and the territory once called Möng Leng, now known as the Upper Sinkan township of Bhamo, has been brought down to the year 1889-90.


It is now necessary to go back a year or two and deal with the range of hills known as Hpon Kan, lying about thirty miles to the south-east of Bhamo. The Kachins in these hills began to harass us from the first. Early in 1886 they attacked Sawadi on the Irrawaddy and exacted tribute from the Sinkan villages. They raided the open country near Bhamo several times, and on one occasion even made their way within our lines, killed some Indian soldiers and burnt some of the barracks.

They were in reality not of great account. But the first attempts to deal with them were unfortunate, and after a time they began to be regarded with a seriousness quite unmerited. Two military expeditions went from Bhamo in 1886, the objective being Karwan, the village of the most important chief of the tribe. The first expedition failed to reach the village and returned without doing anything. The second in the same year was well managed from a military point of view, and had forced its way against some opposition to a point close to Karwan, when the civil officer with the column, under some misunderstanding of the orders he had received from the Chief Commissioner, Sir Charles Bernard, stopped the advance, and the column retired without effecting the object for which it had been sent. The result was that the Karwan chieftain and his tribe were persuaded that the British were afraid to meet them. The chief would neither submit nor deign to visit the Deputy Commissioner, and his hill became a rendezvous for the restless and evil spirits around. Gatherings of Burmese and Chinese were reported, and it was apprehended at one time that they would join the rising in Upper Sinkan. They confined their action, however, to some small raids on insignificant villages below the hills. In the beginning of March, 1889, they again descended to the plains and stockaded themselves at a place named Kyawgaung, killed the headman and carried off his family. Some troops, sent out to cover a fatigue party building a post for the police at Mansi, about fifteen miles from Bhamo, were fired at from the jungle, and the village of Mansi, consisting of a few houses, was burnt by the Kachins, and two of the military police killed.

Marching into the Klang Klang Country.
Chin-Lushai Campaign.


The necessity of punishing the Hpon Kan Kachins for all their misdeeds had long been admitted. The country round Bhamo was kept by them in constant alarm, and the failure to deal with them led to excitement and want of confidence in the Bhamo bazaar, peculiarly ready to believe absurd rumours and subject to panic. More urgent matters had hitherto delayed action, and the garrison of Bhamo had been so weakened by the despatch of troops to Mogaung, that it could not afford men for other work. The Chief Commissioner, therefore, was compelled to wait. Towards the end of March the return of troops from the north made it easier to find a force for the Hpon Kan business; and the opportunity was at once taken of destroying this nest of hornets, or, to describe them more accurately, mosquitoes. Sir George White arranged a plan of operations at the Chief Commissioner's request, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army, being at the time in Upper Burma, gave his approval at once.

The force was of such a strength as to ensure the complete reduction of the refractory tribes, it was hoped, without fighting. It consisted of two guns of a mountain battery, fifty sappers, two hundred and fifty British, two hundred and fifty Native Infantry, of whom one hundred were Gurkhas, and was commanded by Brigadier-General George Wolseley,[54] C.B. The civil officers with the force were Mr. Shaw, Deputy Commissioner of Bhamo, and Mr. Warry, of the Chinese Consular service, with whose name the reader is acquainted already (vide Chapter VII.). Regarding the work of the expedition and the manner in which it should be carried out, the Chief Commissioner gave full instructions. The punishment of the Sawbwa of Hpon Kan and of his people, unless they made timely submission, was the duty imposed on the force. Notice was to be given to the Kachins that villages which helped the advance of the force would be protected; villages from or near which any opposition was offered would be destroyed; and on those Kachins who would not submit as much damage as possible would be inflicted by destruction of their houses and property. In any case, the village where the Sawbwa had his residence was to be occupied; and a fine in money and guns was to be exacted from him. The amount of the fine was to be fixed by Mr. Shaw with reference to the Sawbwa's means and to the amount of damage done in his raids. All captives held by the Kachins were to be surrendered. If this was impossible the fines payable by the custom of the country in such cases were to be exacted. In the event of the Sawbwa rejecting the terms his village was to be destroyed.


In view of the former failures, strict orders were given that negotiations with the Sawbwa were not to be opened until Karwan, his capital village, was occupied by the British force. There, and nowhere else, were the terms of surrender to be settled. And it was added that "under no circumstances should Mr. Shaw advise the return of the force or the suspension of operations until the objects of the expedition should have been accomplished and the Sawbwa's village occupied." The Chief Commissioner added that "if it were possible the force should remain in the Sawbwa's village for some days so as to make his humiliation apparent to his people and to the neighbouring tribes." Orders were issued by the Commander-in-Chief of Madras, Sir Charles Arbuthnot, at the Chief Commissioner's request, for the troops to remain at Hpon Kan until the Chief Commissioner should be satisfied that they could be withdrawn without bad results.

The troops were divided into two columns, and, avoiding the direct road where the Kachins might be prepared to oppose us, they took different routes, and after very slight opposition Karwan was occupied. Our loss was two killed and three wounded. The Sawbwa did not make his appearance. Karwan and several other villages were therefore destroyed. On the 23rd of April the Sawbwa of Washa, a neighbouring village of another tribe, and the elders of Neinsin, one of the Hpon Kan villages, the headman of which was detained as a hostage in Bhamo, came forward and volunteered to bring in the headmen of Hpon Kan. They were given two days to make good their offer.

Haka slave woman.
Smoking a pipe.
Haka Braves.


On the 25th of April they came back with two of the Karwan elders, who accepted the terms imposed by the Deputy Commissioner, and promised to bring in the Sawbwa and other elders. The terms imposed were that fines for various murders and for the burning of Mansi should be paid and fifty guns surrendered and captives restored. The money fine was paid in full and the guns delivered. The Chief Commissioner thereupon sanctioned the withdrawal of the troops, and the main body left Karwan on the 15th of May. Before the evacuation of the place the headmen of the Hpon Kan villages entered into a solemn agreement to cease from raiding. This promise has been kept.

The objects of the expedition were thus accomplished, and these tribes did not give trouble again.

While General Wolseley was at Karwan, Mr. Daly, the Superintendent of the Northern Shan States, accompanied by Mr. Sherriff, a representative of the Rangoon Chamber of Commerce, came to Nam Kham, on the left bank of the Shwèli, the chief town of a small State subordinate to North Hsenwi. It was a good opportunity of joining hands and examining the road between Hpon Kan and Nam Kham.[55] Taking a sufficient escort, General Wolseley went by a circuitous route, to avoid a neck of Chinese territory which runs down between the Bhamo district and North Hsenwi. Leaving Karwan on the 2nd of May, Wolseley made Nam Kham on the 8th. After two days he returned to Bhamo with the troops.


It may be added, before closing this chapter, that the Kachin tribes, whom it was necessary to subdue with such severity, have been for many years furnishing excellent recruits to the military police; and Kachin detachments, officered by men of their own race, can now be entrusted with the charge of frontier outposts.


[52] Palaungs are a Mon-Anam tribe, found mostly in the uplands of the Northern Shan States (Upper Burma Gazetteer, vol. iv., p. 179).

[53] In justice to Saw Möng it should be noted that he has been restored to his own State of Yawnghwè, and has shown much administrative power.

[54] General Sir George Wolseley, G.C.B.

[55] Nam Kham is the place where Mrs. Leslie Milne resided for fifteen months to gather materials for her charming book, "Shans at Home." Writing of the Northern Shans States she says (page 186): "Before the country was annexed to Great Britain, in 1886, each chief governed his own State, and the King of Burma was his overlord, to whom he was obliged to pay a heavy tribute. Burman officials terrorized over the Shans, and, owing to heavy and unjust taxation, the people were in a perpetual state of rebellion against their chiefs. The chiefs were constantly fighting amongst themselves, and were also trying to free themselves from the Burman rule." The condition of the country under Burma has been described in the historical chapter of her book, written by the Rev. Wilbur Willis Cochrane, of the American Baptist Mission. She goes on: "I should like to draw attention to the unhappy state of the people under the invasion of the Kachins, who were slowly but surely taking possession of the hill country." Then Mrs. Milne quotes from "Parliamentary papers for 1859-76." It is sufficient to give here only a part of the quotation: "They (the Kachins) have ousted many Shan tribes, and wherever they appear they assume the same character of 'lords of all they can reach,' only to be appeased by some form of 'blackmail.'... They inspire such terror that in the neighbouring plains no Burman or Shan will venture alone, or even in company, unarmed along the roads within their reach." "This state of affairs," Mrs. Milne concludes, "lasted until the British annexation, and our Government have worked what one might almost call a miracle; for, the first time since the beginning of Shan history, peace prevails all over the country."



General Faunce's Expedition

The seventeenth chapter told the story of the Sawlapaw expedition, which covered the time from the spring 1888 to the second month of 1889. The western frontier of the province was the scene of equally interesting and much more difficult operations during the same period. When Upper Burma was annexed it is doubtful whether the difficulties, that might arise from the wild tribes which would become our neighbours, received much consideration. The Burmese Government thought very little of raids and disturbances on their frontiers. A British Administration could not show the same indifference.

Along the west of the Upper Burma districts of the Upper and the Lower Chindwin, of Pakokku, and of Minbu, lies a wild region of hills, inhabited by semi-savage tribes known to us as Chins. This mountainous region forms a wedge very long in comparison to its width. The broad end marches with the south of Manipur, the Naga Cachar, and east Sylet hills, and the point rests on Cape Negrais. It is formed of high, narrow ridges and deep valleys, all running from north to south, and the people are split up into numerous tribes and clans speaking many different dialects. The only system of government was that of headmen of villages, or at the most of a small group of villages, and consequently negotiations with the Chins as a people were impossible. The principal tribes, with which the present narrative is concerned are, on the north, the Siyins, including the Sagyilains, and the Sokte tribe, including the Kanhows;[288] in the centre of the country the Tashons and Hakas (nicknamed by the Burmese Baungshès); and, southward of them, a number of tribes, Chin-boks among others, who are less formidable as border neighbours.

Between the hills and the Chindwin, and forming an enclosure in the Upper Chindwin district, was the little Shan State of Kalè. Like the States on the Shan plateau, it was governed by a Sawbwa who had a measure of independence. Owing to its position, practically, on the Chindwin, Kalè was much more in subjection to the Government of Burma than the more distant Shan chiefships. It was, moreover, exposed to raids from the hill-men, and for a long time past had suffered much from the Siyin group, who were the most frequent and barbarous raiders, burning villages, slaughtering the peasants, and carrying off many as slaves into the mountains.

At the time of the annexation the Sawbwa of Kalè was an old man, by name Maung Ket, incapable of administering his country. On the 1st of January, 1887, the Chief Commissioner, finding that he could neither keep order within his territory nor protect it against enemies from without, caused him to be removed with some of his officials to Mandalay, and appointed his nephew to rule in his stead. In November, 1887, Maung Ket escaped from Mandalay with his followers and took refuge with the Tashon Chins, who in former years were on friendly terms with the Kalè State.

In March, 1887, the Deputy Commissioner of the Upper Chindwin (Captain Raikes) met representatives of the Tashon tribes at Indin and explained to them that raiding must be stopped. His warnings seem to have influenced them; for a whole year few villages were attacked. Several circumstances, however, had tended to unsettle the minds of these wild tribes.

The ex-Sawbwa of Kalè had a disturbing influence and endeavoured no doubt to persuade them to help him to regain his position. In the open season of 1887-8 a project for opening up the Chin country from the Bengal boundary in the west to the frontier of Burma proper on the east was started in India, prematurely so far as we were concerned. It was proposed that roads should be made through the hills, communications established, and the hill people subjugated. The phrase "from the Salween to the sea" was invented and had some effect.

On the Chin Hills—arranging a plan of attack.
Chin-Liushai Campaign.


In the winter of 1887 Captain Raikes with another officer went up the Myittha River and arranged a meeting with the Tashon chiefs. Sonpek, the principal man of the tribe, came down from the mountains and met Captain Raikes on the 3rd of January, 1888. He was courteous, even friendly in his manner, but guarded in his speech. His fears were excited by the close questioning (concerning the routes through his country eastward) to which he was subjected, so much so that he would hardly accept the presents offered to him by Captain Raikes. The meeting, however, ended in outward friendliness on both sides. No action was taken by the Government towards entering or approaching the Tashon country, and nothing indicated that the Chins had been seriously alarmed.

Other events followed which added to their uneasiness. Captain Raikes had visited Indin in March, 1887, and had found two persons in the ruling Sawbwa's service whose intrigues were causing trouble in the Kalè State. One was Maung Tok San, the other Maung Tha Dun, styled "Chingeh," or "Minister for the Chins." These two men were removed by Captain Raikes from Kalè and confined at Alôn. After some months they were released on security. They made use of their freedom to escape to the Chin Hills, where they joined the old Sawbwa who had preceded them, and helped him to excite the tribes.

It happened at the same time that part of the Pakokku district on the Lower Chindwin was very much disturbed. The guerilla leader, known as the Shwègyobyu Prince, had been able to collect a considerable following and to raise a small revolt (see Chapter VIII., pp. 84, 85). Expelled from the low country, he also sought safety with the Tashons. The arrival of a Burman Prince, whether genuine or pretender, did not matter, a man with a certain amount of prestige, a good deal of energy, and a bitter hatred of the foreigners, gave the Tashons heart, and they determined to take action. On the 4th and 5th of May a body of Sonpek's Tashons, numbering some hundreds, descended on Indin, made the Sawbwa prisoner, and took[290] him to Chingaing (a village near the foot of the hills), where he had interviews with Sonpek and the Shwègyobyu Prince. He promised to join them in their resistance to the British, and on that condition was allowed to return to Indin. The Sawbwa, however, kept faith with us. Getting some men together, he sent them to attack the Shwègyobyu Prince in Chingaing, and despatched urgent messengers to the Deputy Commissioner (Mr. Ross) asking for assistance.

This sudden raid by the Chins on the Kalè State, and their readiness to assist a pretender like the Shwègyobyu Prince, had not been foreseen, and took the authorities by surprise. The messages received at headquarters were alarming. Eleven hundred Tashon Chins were reported to have surrounded Indin and carried off the Sawbwa. Several thousands were said to be on the warpath; five hundred had occupied Indin, three hundred were marching on Taungdwin, three hundred on Kalewa—all these of the Tashon tribe. Of the Siyins, five hundred were making for Kalemyo, six hundred threatening the Kabaw Valley, and so on. The numbers were obviously much exaggerated. Nevertheless, as the men on the spot thought the situation serious, measures of precaution had to be taken. A force under Major Gleig, consisting of 100 rifles, Cheshire Regiment, 250 Madras Infantry (15th) and two guns, were sent up the Chindwin River in steamers to Kalemyo. At the same time 150 Mounted Infantry (100 British, 50 Native), accompanied by Captain Eyre, the Deputy Commissioner of the district, were despatched from Pakokku, viâ Pauk and Gangaw, to take the raiders in the rear. A party of military police from the Kabaw Valley Battalion, with two guns, were moved down to Kalewa.

These dispositions sufficed to restore order for the time. Major Gleig's force disembarked at Indin on the 24th of May; Captain Eyre with the Mounted Infantry was at Chingaing, a few miles from Indin, on the 26th, the rifles and guns from the Kabaw Valley arrived at Kalemyo about the same date. The party, accompanied by Captain Eyre, marched up through the Yaw country without meeting with any opposition. They covered 152 miles in eight days and hoped to surprise the Shwègyobyu, who,[291] with a mixed following of Burmans and Chins, had continued to hold Chingaing; but as soon as the alarm was given by his scouts he fired the village and escaped into the hills. The enemy were encountered only on one occasion. On the 17th of May a police officer making a night march with 60 rifles of the military police (Indians) was attacked by a body of men under Bo Saga, a noted dacoit leader. The men lately enrolled were unsteady and fell back, and the party retired, losing two men wounded. The officer reported that he had found the villages on his march deserted and that the insurgents were collecting men and arms. Several Burman villages had been burnt; men, women, and children had been killed, and many carried off into the hills. The measures taken may seem in the recital out of proportion to the danger. But it was by no means a false alarm.

The rains had now set in, and the Kalè and Yaw country in that season does not tempt the hill-men to raid. They returned to their mountains. The disturbances ceased almost as suddenly as they had begun. The troops returned to their quarters, a guard of military police being left at Indin to protect the Sawbwa.

Although order had been restored for the present, it was evident to the Chief Commissioner that the Chins had yielded to the climate rather than to fear. They had escaped punishment; and as they had burnt villages and returned home with many captives the campaign in their eyes must have seemed successful.

It was necessary to protect the Yaw Valley which was our territory, and the Kalè country, the Sawbwa of which was our dependent and too weak to help himself. A proposal was made by the local officer to simplify matters by taking the Kalè State under direct administration. It was argued that as we were obliged to defend Kalè, we might as well administer the country and receive the revenues. Looking, however, to its effect on the minds of the people, this appeared to be a mistaken policy. Every Sawbwa in the Shan States might have been degraded on similar grounds. The Kalè man, so far as was known, had not been disloyal. In the early part of 1887 he had acted well, and in the present affair he had not acted[292] badly. If he had not been well informed regarding the movements of the Chins, he was no worse than the British officers in the district. He was suddenly surrounded and seized. In procuring his liberty by consenting to join the insurgents he took the best course, or what he thought the best course, for himself. He lost no time in sending information to the nearest officer, and he attacked the rebel gathering with his own men. To remove him under such circumstances would have been unfair, and might have alarmed others whose fears it was not good policy to arouse.

It was decided, therefore, by the Chief Commissioner not to absorb Kalè, but to leave a military or police guard at or near Indin, with supports at Kalewa. An ultimatum was sent to the Tashons, ordering them to deliver up the Shwègyobyu Prince and other leading rebels, as well as the leaders of the Chins who captured the Sawbwa of Kalè and raided his villages. On the 21st of July, 1888, the Chief Commissioner (in a minute submitted to the Government of India) recounted the events which have been narrated, and gave his opinion that there could be no peace until the Chin tribes had been subdued. He asked permission to take the matter in hand as soon as the dry weather set in, and to subjugate the Chins once for all.

The first step in the plan of campaign was to occupy in force and permanently the difficult country lying below the Chin Hills, and to bring it under efficient administrative control.

For this purpose the Chief Commissioner in June, 1887, asked the Government of India to raise a frontier battalion in India for the Yaw Valley. It was assumed, in framing the plan of campaign, that this battalion would have been ready before the rains ended, and that it would have been possible to hold this district firmly. To have attacked the Chins and to have withdrawn the troops would have been to leave the villages in the plains exposed to the vengeance of the hill-men.

The next step was to march an expedition into the Chin Hills. The force was to be divided into three parts. The Siyin and Sagyilain tribe was to be invaded from the Kalè Valley by a force of the Kabaw Valley military police, brought down for the duty. The Tashon country was to be entered simultaneously by a column of regular troops with two guns, having its base at Sihaung on the Myittha River, to which place the men, their baggage, and supplies, could be brought by water. At the same time a force collected at Gangaw was to threaten the Yokwa Haka and Thatta Chins, to prevent them from helping the Tashons.

Haka Chins.
A Chin "Zu" drink.


The subjugation of the Tashons was judged to be the most formidable task. The object was to reach and, if necessary, to destroy their chief village in Burmese Ywama. There were no roads, only difficult hill-paths. Hill-coolies and mules were necessary for transport. There were no supplies in the country. The work, therefore, would have to be taken in hand leisurely, the road cleared and made practicable for mules, supply-stations established, and nothing left to chance. A slow, determined advance, it was held, would have a greater moral effect than an attempt by forced marches to surprise the enemy. If it were possible a simultaneous attack should be made from the Arakan or Chittagong Hills on the west to take the Tashons in the rear.

In reply to the ultimatum sent to them (see above), the Tashons released the captives taken in the raids on the 18th and 19th of May, but declined to give up the Shwègyobu Prince and other Burman rebels. They put forward counter-claims on their own part, and threatened further raids if their demands were not complied with.

In August an order was sent to the chief of the Siyin and Sagyilain tribes to surrender the captives taken by them from several villages in the preceding April and July, and they were warned that if they did not comply with this demand punishment would follow.

Early in September raiding began again. While the Government of India were considering the Chief Commissioner's proposals the Chins acted. They put their threats into execution. A village near Sihaung was raided by the Tashons on the 17th of September, and an alliance was formed by a large number of subdivisions of the Haka tribe. On the 18th of September a village in the Gangaw circle of the Pakokku district was attacked, it was reported,[294] by Tashons. It was clear to the local officers that the anticipation of serious trouble would be realized. The Government of India were pressed, therefore, to allow the immediate enlistment of the military police levy for the protection of the Chin frontier, which had been asked for early in June. In October the reply of the Governor-General in Council to the Chief Commissioner's minute of July 21st was received. It was a refusal to sanction the proposed expeditions.

About this time the local officers reported that Sonpek, the Tashon leader, was inclined to give up the Burman refugees, but that he would not surrender the old Sawbwa of Kalè. It was just possible that through the latter's influence Sonpek's inclination might be translated into action. The old Sawbwa, therefore, was informed that he would be pardoned for his part in the disturbances if he brought about the surrender of the Burman rebels by the Tashons. At the same time, as a precaution against the attacks which were anticipated, Kalewa and Sihaung were garrisoned, and endeavours made to prevent the Chins from getting their usual supplies of salt and other necessaries from the plains.

The country lying between the Chin mountains and the Chindwin and Irrawaddy Rivers is, speaking generally, what would be called in India "terai"; covered with large stretches of forest and intersected by numerous watercourses and streams, with a heavy rainfall and intense heat. It is very unhealthy and a difficult country for troops to work in. The main river in this track is the Myittha, which rises from the southern part of the Chin mountains; it runs almost due north for a hundred miles or more, and then turning suddenly to the east for fifteen or twenty miles joins the Chindwin at Kalewa. During its course northward it receives by many affluents the drainage of the eastern slopes of the Chindwin. Three ranges of thickly wooded hills, called the Pondaung Ranges, run parallel to the Myittha on the east, with intervening valleys which are fertile and cultivated. East of the third range of hills lies the Pagyi township of the Lower Chindwin district. In the west of this township, bordering on the hills above mentioned, is the country known as Shitywagyaung—"the valley of the[295] eight villages"—of which the most important is Thitkyidaing. West of this village lie Saga and Kyaw. The country lying between the Myittha River and the range of hills on the east is known as the Yaw country, in the southern part of which is the Yaw River, which rises in the same hills as the Myittha, but, turning in a south-easterly direction, makes its way to the Irrawaddy below Pakokku, the river-port of the district in which the Yaw country lies. Gangaw is the chief village in the Yaw country, and is more than 100 miles from Pakokku. The road to it passes through Pauk at about the twentieth mile, and the Yaw River, which has to be crossed, is unfordable when in flood.

In 1888 the country about Thitkyidaing had not been thoroughly reduced, chiefly on account of its unhealthiness and the scarcity of civil officers. Mr. Carter and Colonel Symons worked this tract in 1887-8, and brought it to order after the disturbances raised by the Shwègyobyu Prince, in which Major Kennedy and Captain Beville, Assistant Commissioner, met their deaths. Many of the dacoit leaders were captured or killed at that time, but the country was not thoroughly controlled.

There was so much to do in the early years of the annexation and so few to do it, that outlying tracts like the Yaw country were neglected for a time. This tract had, it is believed, even in the King's time, been left very much to itself. In 1887 the Deputy Commissioner of Pakokku (Captain Eyre) visited it. The people received him well. An arrangement—the best possible at the time—was made with the local officials, who undertook to pay the revenue and to be responsible for the order and protection of the territory. Hitherto the people had defended themselves against the Chins; and, to encourage them, five or six hundred muskets were distributed to villagers who in the opinion of the Burman officials would make good use of them. In some cases a subsidy was given to pay for the maintenance of a rude militia or irregular police. This arrangement had worked well until the time of the events now to be told, and it had the recommendation of economy in money and men when economy was more than usually imperative.

The refusal of the Government of India to allow an expedition[296] into the Chin country in no way absolved the Chief Commissioner from the duty of protecting the people against these savages, for which purpose he had sufficient means at his disposal. He therefore took counsel with the Major-General commanding in Upper Burma (Sir George White) as to the measures necessary. It was resolved to move a body of troops up from Pakokku through Gangaw along the whole line of the frontier subject to raids, and to establish a chain of posts, Tilin, Gangaw, Kan, Sihaung, Kambalè, and Indin. General Faunce, who commanded the military district in which the disturbed tracts were situated, was given the control of the operations. Major Raikes, who was at the time in charge of the Lower Chindwin, and had had more intercourse with the Chins than any other of the civil officers, was associated with General Faunce and entrusted with the political duties. A force about 500 strong was ordered to move up along the frontier with General Faunce, while three companies of Gurkhas were to be sent by river to Kalewa. No preparations were made for attacking the Chin strongholds in the hills, as the Government in India had forbidden it. Raiding parties were to be followed up and punished whenever and so far as it might be possible.

The Chins began to act before these arrangements had been completed. Reports of raiding came tumbling in fast. On the 14th of October Homalin was attacked by followers of the Shwègyobyu, assisted by Chins from the Tashon country. On the 17th Chitpauk, in the Kabaw Valley, was raided by Siyins, who killed seven and carried off forty-five villagers. On the 20th of October Kambalè was surrounded, two villagers were murdered and six kidnapped. On the 22nd of October the Siyins attacked Kantha, north of Kan, and made off with thirty-two villagers. On the 29th of October a large body of the hill-men came down on Kalémyo, the principal village in Kalè. They burnt part of it, killed three of the villagers, wounded four, and carried forty into slavery. On the same day Khampat, in the Kabaw Valley, was raided by a party of Kanhows, seven men were killed and twenty-seven taken away.

These occurrences gave the Chief Commissioner a text for again preaching the need of punishing these unruly[297] mountaineers; and, meanwhile, such measures as were possible and within his powers were taken. On the 9th of November the Government of India intimated that they were inclined to reconsider the proposal of the Burman Administration. On the 16th their orders came, giving the Chief Commissioner a free hand to do what he could with the troops at his disposal, and with the transport to be had within the province.

General Faunce had left Pakokku on the 14th of November. Captain Eyre, the Deputy Commissioner of Pakokku, went with him. His orders were to give all the help possible to the General, especially in procuring transport. He was to retain charge of the Pakokku district, and was not to go beyond its limits. The force accompanying General Faunce consisted of 356 men of the 10th Madras Infantry, 49 Mounted Infantry of the 10th Bengal Infantry, and 50 lances of the 1st Madras Lancers. As they went forward posts were established at Chaungu, 7-1/2 miles north of Pauk, at Tilin, at Gangaw, and at Kan on the Myittha, 20 miles north of Gangaw, and at Sihaung, between Kan and Indin.

The garrisons at Gangaw and at Kan were strong, 170 rifles at each place, all of the 10th Regiment Madras Infantry. At Sihaung the strength was 250 rifles. Hitherto, as has been explained before, the task confided to General Faunce was to protect the frontier, to stop raids, and, if possible, to pursue and account for the raiding parties.

The sanction given by the Government of India on the 16th of November completely altered the character of the movement. It became primarily a punitive expedition against the Chins. The 1st Bengal Mountain Battery, 77 strong, with 6 guns, 58 Madras sappers, and three companies of the 44th Gurkhas, were sent up by steamer to Kalewa; and by the time the General arrived at Kambalè, which he made his headquarters and the base of his expedition, he had a force of twelve hundred men (650 being Gurkhas) under his orders, besides between 200 and 300 military police (Indians), who held Indin and Kalewa, and were placed at his disposal.

As a consequence of the change of policy, transport[298] became an urgent question—in fact the main question. The military authorities asked for two thousand coolies, men that could carry loads in the hills. The Deputy Commissioner, Captain Eyre, believed that he could get the men, and at the instance of the General commanding, the Chief Commissioner consented to allow Captain Eyre to go with this large body of coolies if he could enlist them, and an officer was ordered up to Pakokku to take charge of the district and to set Captain Eyre free for this purpose. This fact is mentioned, as it explains in a measure how the Deputy Commissioner's attention was somewhat distracted from his immediate duty—the administration of the district for which he was responsible.

Captain Eyre accompanied General Faunce as far as Kan, near the northern boundary of the Pakokku district. He then left him, meaning to return to Gangaw for the purpose of collecting coolies. He had information of several gatherings of dacoits, under known leaders, in the hills north-east of Gangaw, and at Mozo, north of Kan, and some time was spent in looking after them. He heard of a body of dacoits in position in the bed of a stream, between two thickly wooded banks in a strongly stockaded camp. The dacoits were taken by surprise, and their camp was rushed and destroyed. Pursuit was impossible, owing to the nature of the country, and there was nothing to be done except to return to Kan. The enemy harassed the retiring party all the way, and our men had continually to turn and drive them off.

Next day reports came in that the villagers were joining the dacoits, and that a body of some hundreds were collected at Chaungzon. After arranging with the officer commanding at Kan that a party should be sent to attack this gathering, Captain Eyre returned to Gangaw to collect the coolies wanted by General Faunce. He reached Gangaw on the 11th, and busied himself with this duty. On the 16th of December, hearing that three of the dacoit leaders were in considerable strength at Kunze, north-east of Gangaw, a force of 105 rifles, 10th Madras Infantry, attacked and dispersed them, but without inflicting serious loss. From that date the garrison of Gangaw may be said to have done nothing. They sat still and allowed the rising to gather strength.


Seeing the dacoit bands active and gathering strength, while the British officers and the garrison were apparently helpless, the villagers, to whom guns had been given, the quasi-militia men amongst the foremost, joined the insurgents. It was another object-lesson in the folly of arming the Burmese peasantry, and the still greater folly of allowing an Asiatic foe to think you are afraid to attack him. The town of Gangaw was defended by a stockade of teak. The military post had been so placed as to rest on this stockade, and would have become untenable if the enemy had succeeded in occupying the town. The garrison of 170 men had therefore to defend the town stockade, nearly a mile in extent. It was not considered strong enough to hold the town and at the same time to move against the hostile bands, who had now gathered in considerable numbers, and were occupying a village called Shonshé on the south, and three villages on the north-west. On the 24th of December a convoy with supplies left Gangaw for Kan, which was the next post to the north. It was fired upon soon after leaving Gangaw, and lost two men killed and two wounded. From Kan this party went on to Sihaung, from which place it returned. It was again attacked on the march back, between Sihaung and Kan, and lost heavily. Meanwhile the enemy, who had been strengthened from the peasantry around, attacked Gangaw on the 30th of December, and again on the 31st. They were reckoned to number 500 men, but their attacks inflicted no loss on the garrison.

Some sort of council of war, in which both civil and military officers joined, now took place, and it was held that if a determined attack were made on Gangaw or Kan it must succeed. The garrison of Kan, therefore, was ordered into Gangaw, and they obeyed the order, to say the least, without reluctance. They met with no opposition on the way, but they brought with them reports of the loss suffered by the detachment which went to Sihaung, which helped further to depress the dispirited garrison.

In Gangaw itself, although it was assaulted daily until the 6th of January, when a relieving force arrived, there were no casualties. The enemy was contemptible, and even his numbers were, it is believed, exaggerated. The[300] danger was created by the inaction of the defence rather than by the number or the enterprise of the assailants.

The Chief Commissioner was in Rangoon during the early days of December. The first news of the trouble came to him in a telegram from Major Raikes, who was on special duty on the Chin frontier; it was dated the 14th of December, from Gaungu on the Myittha, and was received in Rangoon on the 17th. It reported the attack made on the dacoit camp by Captain Eyre on the 9th of December, and recommended that troops should be sent against this gang. In reply, Major Raikes was reminded that all the troops and military police on the frontier were under the General's orders and were close to the scene of action, while it would take a fortnight or more to send troops up from Pakokku. On the 20th of December a second telegram came from Major Raikes, reporting the affair at Chaungzon on the 13th of December. He explained that General Faunce had ordered the officer commanding at Gangaw to deal effectively with these gatherings; that two attempts, both unsuccessful, had been made to disperse the band near Chaungzon; that a third attack was about to be made, but the force ordered to make it could only be spared for a few days, as the General wanted all his men for frontier patrols and for the expedition into the hills. He therefore pressed for reinforcements as necessary for the destruction of these gangs.

Orders were then given for a small column of military police and troops to march up at once from Pakokku. The Deputy Commissioner of the Lower Chindwin was told to send all the police he could spare across from Alôn to the disturbed area. The state of things was communicated by telegram to Sir George White, who was on the Chindwin on his way to Kalewa, and the despatch of reinforcements from Pakokku was suggested.

On Christmas Day the first reports from Captain Eyre himself came in. He described the insurgents as increasing in numbers rapidly, and begged for more troops. This was the first intimation received by the Chief Commissioner that the local officers were unable to cope with the rising and that it was of a serious character. The Commissioner[301] was thereupon ordered to Pakokku to hasten the dispatch of the small column previously mentioned; and lest there should be difficulty in finding Sir George White, the officer commanding at Myingan was asked to get a force ready for immediate despatch. On the 26th a message came from Sir George White, dated from Mingin on the Chindwin, that he had ordered the despatch of a force 200 strong from Pakokku via Pauk, and Major Kingston with 250 rifles, troops and military police, from Alôn, to hasten to Gangaw. At the same time Colonel Macgregor, with 150 rifles of the 44th Gurkhas, who were with General Faunce, was ordered down from Sihaung to Gangaw. Meanwhile the Chief Commissioner had sent up 125 rifles of the Pakokku military police, under Lieutenant Phillips, by forced marches by the Kyaw Valley route. Major Kingston and Lieutenant Phillips joined hands at Kyaw on the 2nd of January. On the 6th they attacked the insurgents in Shonshé, south of Gangaw, and drove them out with considerable loss. At the same moment Colonel Macgregor with his Gurkhas fell upon the bands who were occupying a village north of Gangaw, and handled them roughly. No stand was made by these people, who had kept nearly 350 Madras Infantry shut up in Gangaw.

The duty of restoring order in the Yaw country was entrusted to Colonel W. P. Symons, who had displayed great ability in dealing with dacoit gangs in Sagaing. He was assisted by Mr. D. Ross, as civil officer in charge of the district. The country was cleared of dacoits, partially disarmed, and reduced to order. The rank and file of the insurgents were allowed to return to their homes, the guilty villages being punished collectively by fines. The Yaw country has been peaceful ever since.

The Gangaw episode was, in the language of the Boer War, "a regrettable incident." The garrison at the outset may have been unable to face the insurgents in the field, but, after the Kan detachment had been called in, it numbered 340 rifles—a sufficient number of disciplined troops to deal with a much larger number of dacoits, a mere rabble, armed, when they were armed at all, with old muzzle-loading rifles, or still more ancient muskets. The[302] incident was not, however, barren of good results. It sufficed to convince even the most devoted admirer of "the old coast army" that a portion of the Madras troops was unfit for active service—a fact which had more than once been brought to notice by the Chief Commissioner. The disbanding of the regiment responsible for the failure was the beginning of a large measure of army reform that had been too long delayed. Hence these events, trivial in themselves, may be worth recording.

The narrative may now return to the central business, namely, the expedition against the Chins.

General Faunce arrived at Kambalè and assumed command of the operations on the 3rd of December. On the 7th the fighting began. A working-party sent to establish a post between Kambalè and the foot of the hills was fired on, and Lieutenant Palmer, R.E., who commanded the Madras Sappers, was killed. On the 10th of December a strong body of Chins of the Tashon tribe suddenly issued from the hills, and attacked the camp of the 42nd Gurkhas at Sihaung, and a simultaneous attack was made on the village. They paid dearly for their audacity. The Gurkhas drove them off, followed them up, and inflicted heavy loss on them. On the same date Indin, the capital of the Kalè Sawbwa, was fired into, and the military police post of Kangyi, twenty miles north of Kalemyo, was attacked.

It had been intended to limit the operations of the season 1888-9 to the Siyin and Sagyilaing tribes. In dealing with savage people it is not possible to lay down a line beyond which you will not step. In view, therefore, of the probable necessity of taking action against the Tashons, 200 rifles of the Norfolk Regiment, 50 Madras sappers, and the remaining companies of the 42nd Gurkhas from their quarters at Bernardmyo, were ordered to the front. Sir George White himself arrived at Kalewa on the 29th of December, but left to General Faunce the immediate command of the force in the field. Matters were further complicated by the appearance of another section of the Chins. In October, a village in the Kubo Valley had suffered from a raid by Kanhows. A large body of this tribe came down in December and attacked Kangyi, north of Kalemyo. It was held by military police, who repulsed them. Further investigations made it clear that these Kanhows were so closely related by position and ties of kindred to the Siyins and Sagyilains as to make them indistinguishable. A proposal, therefore, to include them in the operations against the latter was sanctioned. It was proposed also to send at the same time a column to Minlèdaung, on the borders of the Tashon country, but this was not found convenient and was dropped.


An ultimatum was now sent to the Siyins and Sagyilains, demanding the restoration of all their captives, the surrender of a certain number of fire-arms, and the payment of a fine. In default of the acceptance of these terms, General Faunce was told to destroy the villages of the tribes and by a rigorous blockade to prevent food supplies from reaching the hills. During December and January preparations for the advance occupied the attention of the General and his staff. Transport coolies were obtained from Manipur. A road was begun, and step by step the base of operations advanced towards the goal of the expedition, the main village of the Siyins, called Koset by them.

On the 23rd of January, 1889, Sir George White and General Faunce made a reconnaissance to the summit of the Letha Range, to an altitude of 8,200 feet above sea-level. The force then advanced steadily up the hills in the face of a continued but unsuccessful opposition; the sappers, assisted by coolies, making a road as the men climbed up, and constructing rough stockades in which the men slept and rations were stored. The advance was obstructed by formidable stockades, generally held by the enemy, but not firmly defended. Day and night the Chins ambushed our men, taking advantage of every suitable position. The following telegram from Sir George White to the Chief Commissioner, dated the 28th of January, 1889, describes one of the skirmishes: "Enemy yesterday attacked our working-party on road above this, and held our covering-party, 40 British and 100 Gurkhas, from 9 till 2, when I arrived and ordered their positions to be charged. We carried all, driving them entirely away, getting off ourselves wonderfully cheaply—only one Norfolk dangerously wounded. Enemy in considerable numbers, using many rifles and plenty of ammunition. They fired at least[304] 1,000 rounds, standing resolutely until actually charged, even trying to outflank us. Their loss probably about eight or ten, but they were carried down the Khuds at once. Most difficult enemy to see or hit I ever fought."

On the 4th of February the village of Koset was reached, and after a slight resistance, occupied. It was fired by the Siyins before they retreated, and was reduced to ashes before our men reached it. The enemy harassed the camp every night, firing into it from the higher ground, and at several villages they ineffectually opposed us. They opened communications at one time with the political officer, but as they continued ambushing and firing on the troops and refused to surrender the Burman captives, it was evident that they were fooling us. Step by step, therefore, the advance was made good, until the Siyin territory had been overrun, and by the 5th of March all their villages were in our hands. The site of the village of Tôklaing was chosen as the headquarters of the Chin expeditionary force, and its name was changed to "Fort White," and a post was built there with materials taken from the village.

The chastisement inflicted on the Siyins had some little effect on the Kanhows, who had made similarly insincere overtures. On the 24th of February a deputation of them came to Fort White, bringing presents and asking that their villages might be spared. With the Chief Commissioner's approval, terms were offered to them, namely: to surrender all the captives in their hands, and a portion of their fire-arms; to pay a fine of 1,000 rupees, and to engage to pay a light annual tribute as a token of submission. Ten days were given them to consider and accept these terms. On the 6th of March they returned, bringing six of the captives and presents, but failed to comply with the other conditions. Their presents, therefore, were refused, and on the 8th of March General Faunce moved against them. The force was actively engaged against them until the 20th of March, when it returned to Fort White. The operations were well planned and executed, and imposed great labour on the troops, as the mountain tracks were most precipitous and difficult. Most of the villages were destroyed, in many cases by the Chins themselves, and large stores of grain and other food-supplies were taken. April was occupied in negotiations with the Tashons, and the troops rested.

In the Second Defile of the Irrawaddy below Bhamo.


As it was ascertained that the Siyins had built a new Gurkha village at Tartan, which had been taken in the earlier operations, a force consisting of 65 rifles of the 2nd Battalion Norfolk Regiment and 60 rifles of the 42nd Gurkha Light Infantry was sent to drive the Chins out. The village was strongly stockaded and obstinately defended. One of the two stockades was taken. The loss on our side was one officer (Second-Lieutenant Michel) and two men of the Norfolk Regiment killed, one Gurkha killed, and two officers and six men wounded. In this action Captain Le Quesne, of the Army Medical Corps, showed conspicuous courage in attending to Lieutenant Michel, and was awarded the Victoria Cross. The troops retired to Fort White without completing their work. A few days later they returned and destroyed the village and stockades unopposed.

The rains, which begin early in this region, had now set in, and active operations ceased. In this business, from first to last, including the engagements of Gangaw and Kan, our loss amounted to 26 killed and 54 wounded; the enemy's loss can only be conjectured—it was probably light. The main object now was to secure the peaceful submission of the Tashons. Towards the end of March they showed an inclination to parley, and sent letters purporting to come from six of their chiefs. It was decided to give them as much time as possible to consider the terms offered to them, and in the meanwhile no movement was to be made against their villages or certain settlements of the Kanhows which were within, or close to, the borders of the Tashon tribe. One of the Kalè officials, Maung Nwa, was selected to take a letter to the chiefs, giving them twenty-one days to decide on their course of action.

Maung Nwa succeeded in reaching Falam, the Ywama, or mother-village, of the Tashons. On the 18th of April he returned to Fort White, bringing letters from the chiefs and from the ex-Sawbwa of Kalè. A minor chief accompanied him, and on a subsequent day another Tashon chief came in with messages to Major Raikes. This beginning[306] of personal intercourse was encouraging, and on our part concessions were made in respect of the surrender of the Burmese refugees, while the release of the captives was insisted on. Later on some overtures were made on the part of the Siyins and a few captives delivered to our officers. On the 2nd of May men from the Kanhow tribe came in; they brought the fine of Rs. 1,000, which had been imposed on them, and the tribute, and tendered the submission of their tribe, but no captives. They clung to their captives as to life. Later on, however, they released some and brought them to Fort White. It was believed at the time that they had given up all; it was discovered later that they had held back a considerable number. The Siyins surrendered seven captives; but they made no further steps towards submission. At the end of the open season of 1888-9 the situation was this: Severe punishment had been inflicted on the offending tribes, and 114 of the Burmans carried off by raiding parties had been recovered. The Siyins and Sagyilains, notwithstanding the destruction of their villages, had not given in; the Kanhows had made a show of submission, and had partly complied with our terms; the Tashons had exchanged messages, but had given no proof of penitence.

It was necessary to show the Chins that the arm of the British Government was long enough to reach them even in their mountain fortresses, and that our soldiers could remain in their country. It was decided, therefore, to keep the troops at Fort White during the rains and to prevent the Chins, who had not submitted, from rebuilding their villages or cultivating their fields. A rigorous blockade of the routes from their hills to the plains was ordered, in the hope that it would help to overcome their obstinacy. Nothing more could be done until the season for taking the field again came round.

General Faunce's column had done all that men could do in a very difficult and unknown country against a very difficult enemy, pronounced by a man who had seen some fighting to be "the most difficult enemy to see or hit I ever fought." The expedition was late in starting. The reason has been explained. That the next season's operations were more successful with less severity is no reproach to[307] the General commanding the first expedition or to the political officer. Their work had made our power felt, and had given us some knowledge of the people. If a garrison had not been established at Fort White in 1888-9, it would have been scarcely possible to have acted against the Tashons on the plan which ensured success in 1889-90.



General Faunce and his men had worked hard and well. By May, 1888, the advance had been made good as far as Tôklaing, called Fort White. But although that place was only a short distance (thirty miles) from Falam, the main settlement of the Tashons, we had not been able to reach it. This tribe was known to be the most numerous and the most influential of the Chins in these parts, and their subjugation was essential.

The character of the country which was the scene of operations has been described in the preceding chapter. For a successful effort to conquer it much and timely preparation was necessary. Several circumstances had made this impossible. It will be remembered, in the first place, the Government of India had viewed the enterprise askance. The head of an Indian province looks mainly to his own affairs; and not having a free hand, and being without direct responsibility for the financing of a military expedition, he presses hard for what he wants. To the Supreme Government, far from the scene of raids and disorder, and less directly concerned with the causes and consequences of them, the financial aspect looms largest. The Government of India were beginning to take alarm at the heavy burden with which the annexation of the new province was loading them. They were aware of the very wide extent of territory under the nominal sway of the dethroned King, and of the distant boundaries, ill-defined and seemingly endless, marching not only with China and Siam, but with savage peoples of whom hardly the names were known. They feared, naturally enough, that the local authorities might allow their zeal to push[309] them on too hastily if not too far. Little was known about the relations of the King's Government to the wide region lying between the Irrawaddy Valley and the Mekong. The northern and north-eastern boundaries were very indistinctly defined, and no thought had been given to the great wedge of mountainous country between Burma proper and Bengal.

The end of 1888 found us engaged in all these outlying regions. Active operations were going on in the Shan States, in the difficult hills east of Bhamo, and in the rugged country about the Ruby Mines. In the far north there were disturbances all around Mogaung, which was inadequately garrisoned and difficult to get at. Added to this, there were still districts of Upper Burma which were harassed by gangs of guerillas. There was more than enough work for every soldier and every civilian in the country and for every penny that the Treasury could afford. Facts, however, had proved strong, and the Chins themselves forced us to act. But General Faunce's force started too late, and therefore without adequate preparation for a big campaign. Added to this came the unfortunate Gangaw affair, which interrupted his supplies and called off some of his best troops.

In the summer of 1889 the position at Fort White was hardly encouraging. The place had proved very unhealthy, and the garrison had few men fit for service. Not only had we failed to touch the Tashons, who had been chiefly responsible for the troubles of the past year, but we were far from having come to terms with the Siyins and Kanhows, on which tribes our hand had been heavy. The political officer, indeed, still believed that hunger would bring them in. The Kanhows had made a partial and half-hearted submission, retaining, however, most of their Burman captives. The others would have no truck with us, and treated our demands, as well as our advances, with obstinate silence. Their courage was higher, and the pressure on them less than had been thought. The Baungshès, moreover, to the south of the Tashons, including the Yokwa Haka and Thetta clans, had been continuously on the warpath, and had had no communication with our officers since the winter of 1887.


There were only two courses open—either to make a well-prepared systematic advance into the Chin Hills and bring these people under British rule, not necessarily administration in the full meaning; or to retire altogether and leave an enclave of savagery between Burma and Bengal, trusting for the protection of the Burman villages to frontier posts and spasmodic expeditions. The long history of the dealings of the Bengal Government with the Lushais and Nagas, very similar people, had proved the futility of the latter course. The inclination in Burma was all for the former, and this met with the thorough approval of the Supreme Government. The work was to be undertaken in a whole-hearted manner that would ensure success.

During the inactive season of 1889, the scheme of operations was carefully worked out. The plan of campaign approved by the Supreme Government was very much on the lines sketched in the Chief Commissioner's minute of the 21st of July, 1888. The central object was the Tashon tribe. On their north we already had in Fort White a footing in the hills with communications secured to Kalewa, on the Chindwin. It was decided to make the attack from the Burma side in two strong columns. The Northern Column was to gather at Fort White, and was to deal in the first instance with the still refractory tribes in its immediate neighbourhood. The Southern Column was to muster at Pakokku and, making its base at Kan in the Myittha Valley, to move up deliberately into the hills to Yokwa and Haka, subjugating the villages as the force advanced and securing the release of the captives. Then, leaving a garrison in Haka, it was to move northward and, in combination with the Fort White Column, to make a simultaneous attack on Falam, the Tashon capital, from both sides. Meanwhile, a third force was to enter the hills from Bengal territory and open communications or, if necessary, join hands with the Burma columns. For the operations of this last force the Burma Administration had no responsibility.

To protect the villages in the plains from raids and to keep open communications while the expeditions were in progress, it was decided to establish ten posts along the more northern portion of the Chin-Burman frontier. The[311] force to be employed from Burma was to be nearly four thousand fighting men, besides some military police. The number of transport animals and of coolies necessary for such a body would be very great. Carts were useless after the first few marches from the Irrawaddy. Some fodder for ponies and bullocks might be procurable, but it was certain that once in the hills almost every ounce of food for man and beast would have to be sent up from the Irrawaddy Valley.

The success of the campaign, therefore, was a question of transport and supply. Kan, which was to be the base of the Southern Column, was to be fed from Pakokku on the Irrawaddy, distant 165 miles through difficult and sparsely inhabited country. Work had been begun in 1888 on the road; but labour was scarce and the cart-track was not open for more than half the distance. Provisions for Fort White and its communications, as well as for the frontier posts, could be sent up by steamer to Kalewa on the Chindwin. The difficulty was to move them thence to Kalemyo within reach of the troops. If the Myittha were navigable, it would be invaluable; all the frontier posts from Kalemyo to Kan were on that river, but its waters were unknown. Mules and coolies in large numbers, men from Assam and from the Northern Punjab able to carry loads on hill paths, were promised by India. Arrangements for collecting some eight or nine hundred carts at Pakokku were put in train; and contracts for the hire of country boats, of which Pakokku is the great building centre, were given.

In August I went up the Chindwin to Kalewa to meet Major Raikes, who had been stationed at Fort White since the close of the active operations, and had been busy acquiring information of the people and country and endeavouring to induce the Chins to come to terms. I brought with me two naval officers—Captain Wilson, R.N., then Port Officer at Rangoon, and Commander Holland, of the Royal Indian Marine Service. These officers were deputed to ascertain how far the Myittha could be navigated; and, as their inquiries gave reason for hoping that the river might be navigable, the task of exploring it was entrusted to Commander Holland. The results of his work were[312] encouraging, and he was directed to organize a transport service of boats.

But to return to Kalewa. The Chief Commissioner, after discussing matters closely with Major Raikes, resolved to inform the Tashons that the British Representative, with an armed force, would proceed to Falam, their head village, and there receive the submission of the tribe, and if necessary enforce it. A proclamation to that effect was sent to the chiefs in the following terms:—

"A British army will march to the Tashon Ywama. The British Government wishes to preserve your tribe, and does not desire to punish you as it has punished the Kanhows and Siyins who have resisted the British forces.

"The British Government desires from you only two things: First, that the captives taken from Burman villages shall be released. Secondly, that you shall in the future behave peacefully, and cease to attack the subjects of the Government.

"Therefore the Chief Commissioner hereby declares and promises that you will be excused from punishment for the past if you comply with the following terms:—

"(i) That you shall assist the British troops in their march through your country to your Ywama, and that you will neither attack nor oppose them;

"(ii) That you shall to the utmost of your power compel the Siyin and Kanhow tribes to surrender their captives.

"(iii) That the chiefs shall meet the officer in command of the British forces at the Ywama, and deliver up to him all the captives in the possession of your tribe and pay a fine of 10,000 rupees.

"(iv) That you shall render annually a tribute of two elephant tusks and ten silk pieces to the British Government.

"If you comply with these terms your lives and property will be spared, and the former orders requiring you to deliver up the Shwègyobyu and other rebels will not be enforced.


"On the other hand, if you will not comply with these conditions the Chief Commissioner will direct the troops to punish you severely."

Up to this time the surrender of the Burman outlaws had been made a condition of peace with the Tashons. It was now said by those who knew them best that the surrender of the refugees was repugnant to Chin honour; and in the hope of making it easier for them to yield, the Chief Commissioner consented to waive this demand. Permission was also given to Major Raikes to reduce the fine, if it would make negotiations more hopeful. But on the other points, especially the condition that the troops should march to Falam, their capital, and there receive the formal and public submission of the chiefs to the British Government, no concession whatever was to be made. Negotiations on this basis continued between the political officer and the Tashons without result.

In the beginning of December the chiefs agreed to meet Major Raikes at Sihaung. The terms of the proclamation were explained to them, and they were made to understand that they were final and would be enforced. The chiefs were impracticable. They affirmed that if our men advanced they could not control their tribesmen. The ex-Sawbwa of Kalè was present at this meeting, having come down with the Chins. He wisely took the opportunity of surrendering to Major Raikes, and was sent to Pakokku, where he lived afterwards in receipt of a pension from the Government. His surrender exploded a theory which had been started, that the Tashons were holding out in order to procure his reinstatement in Kalè.

A proclamation in similar terms was sent to the Haka and Yokwa Chins.

Meanwhile the work of collecting transport and forwarding stores was pushed on; the boat service on the Myittha was organized, and was worked by Commander Holland with great energy and success.

Brigadier-General Faunce had left Burma. He was succeeded in command of the brigade by Colonel W. P. Symons (well known as General Sir W. Penn Symons), who met his death in the first action of the Boer War. Colonel Symons had made his reputation already as an[314] active and able soldier. He was much more. He was peculiarly fitted by temper, tact, and administrative ability to conduct a difficult business like that now in hand. The command of the Chin-Lushai expedition was given to him by the Chief Commissioner's request. The question arose whether he should have also the control of the negotiations and arrangements with the Chins.

For some time the feeling in India had been, as it still is, against the division of authority in expeditions of this kind. No doubt, as a rule, the man who holds the military command should have control of the negotiations also. At the same time the circumstances of each case and the qualifications of the man must be taken into account. In Burma hitherto it had been found more convenient, if not necessary, to divide the duties and to give what is called the political business to a civil officer acquainted with the language and customs of the people to be dealt with. In the present instance it happened that Major Raikes had from the beginning dealt, under the Chief Commissioner's orders, with the Chin tribes. He had had more opportunities than any one of acquiring a knowledge of their character and politics. It was somewhat difficult to ask him now to work in subordination to the military commander who had had no part in the business.

The Chief Commissioner was ready to brush aside this personal difficulty and to allow Major Raikes to resign his post if he preferred to go. He would willingly have placed the chief authority unreservedly in General Symons's hands. The question was carefully considered and discussed. Finally, by General Symons's desire it was arranged to leave to the civil officer the negotiations with the Chins and the arrangements to be made with them when they submitted. It happened, however, that before the advance into the hills had well begun, Major Raikes was compelled by illness to go away. General Symons was then put in undivided control of the whole business, under the Chief Commissioner's orders. Two civil officers were selected to serve as his assistants, absolutely in subordination to him. Mr. D. Ross was posted to the Southern Column and Mr. B. S. Carey to the Northern. This arrangement worked admirably.


The rains of 1889 were unfortunately late. The Southern Column, 1,869[56] strong, was concentrated at Pakokku. From Pakokku to Kan, which was to be the base for the operations, was one hundred and sixty-five miles. Shelters had been erected at the halting-places, and such provisions as could be procured were gathered and stored by the civil district officers. The troops began to move on the 23rd of November, and the march was successfully carried out in fifteen days, by detachments of one hundred fighting men with followers marching in succession daily. The first detachment left Pakokku on the 23rd of November, and the leading columns were only just able to get through the falling rivers and the drying country. The ground was heavy and the heat great. Nevertheless, troops and followers arrived at Kan in good condition, with only a nominal sick list.

By the middle of November the Northern Column, 1,622[57] strong, was ready at Fort White and was waiting for the hill-coolies who were to form the transport, before it should move out.

The garrisons for the ten posts which were to protect the frontier were sent up the Chindwin to Kalewa, and had to march down the Myittha Valley. Late rains had flooded the Kalè Valley, and as late as the end of November the country was impassable to anything but an elephant. On the 24th of October it took fifteen hours to get one hundred and seventy fresh mules, with elephants to carry their saddles and gear, through the bogs and swamps on the last five and a half miles of the road into Kalemyo, which was the distributing base for supplies for Fort White and for the posts in the Kalè Valley. By the end of December these ten posts were built, occupied, and rationed—a testimony to the qualities of the officers and men who overcame such difficulties.


By the end of January, 1890, five hundred and fifty-one tons of stores had been sent by road to Kan, and six hundred and thirty-eight tons landed at Kalemyo by water. The river transport service not only did this, but also provided, as a by-work, carriage for many men joining their corps and for sick sent down to the rear. From the beginning of February, when the country had become dry, all supplies for the Southern Column were brought in carts from Pakokku to Kan and on to Haka on hired pack-bullocks and Government transport animals. To add to the difficulties, virulent cattle disease broke out in the Myittha and Kalè Valleys, and caused enormous loss.

One-third of the pack-bullocks had died. The sickness was not confined to the transport animals. It was said that the villagers in the Kalè State lost 90 per cent. of their buffaloes.

The first troops of the Southern Column reached Kan on the 7th of December. On the 9th the sappers, with a covering escort, commenced work on the road to Haka, which was sixty-four miles distant. Every one thought that our men would be in Haka in ten or twelve days, and all calculations were based on this estimate. It was sixty-six days before the leading files entered Haka, and the mule-road did not reach that place until the seventy-seventh day. This, although the whole strength of the force was devoted to road work: every man who could dig was set to it. The country opposed to the engineers a tumbled network of steep hills and deep ravines. The climate proved deadly. Soldiers and coolies were ill with fever. Out of seven Royal Engineer officers, at the end of December six were lying ill. In comparison with the difficulties caused by the nature of the country and the climate, the fiercest opposition of the Chins was insignificant.

"This disappointing delay," wrote General Symons, "was not without its compensating advantages in dealing[317] with the Chins. They expected us to make a quick advance, do some damage, and retire. The steady, persistent advance, together with the pains that were taken to get into touch with them and to explain our objects and intentions, paralysed their spirits and efforts for resistance, and thus tribe after tribe submitted and yielded to our terms."

This is, no doubt, the true way of dealing with savages. They are like children. They are terrified if they see a person approaching them steadily, with measured steps and outstretched arms. But it is much more difficult and requires more resources in money and men and transport to advance into a difficult country, making each step good and permanent, than to rush in, burn, slay, and retire. The latter method of warfare the savage understands. His enemies appear suddenly, set fire to his village, kill those they come across, and are away again. He flees into the jungle at the first alarm, and comes back little the worse as soon as the other side retires. That the better method was not followed in 1887-8, and that the more barbarous system was adopted, was not voluntary. Circumstances forced it upon the authorities in Burma, as the only means at their disposal for protecting the peaceful population in the plains. Besides, it is only fair to say that the tribes dealt with the former year, the Siyins and Kanhows, were by far the most warlike and bloodthirsty of the Chins. The severe chastisement inflicted on them, and the maintenance of the garrison in Fort White during the year, had brought home to all the folly of trying conclusions with disciplined and well-armed troops.

On the 17th of December the advance-guard of the Southern Column occupied Taungtek on the road to Haka. From that date to the 28th of December the Chins from time to time made feeble attempts to resist, harassing the troops by firing into camp. On the 28th, near Taungtek, they had a considerable number of men in action; according to their own account five hundred men, of whom three hundred had fire-arms. But they could do nothing. From that day they gave up the fight and made no further opposition.

On the 8th of January two Yokwa Chins came into camp. The objects of our coming and the conditions of[318] peace were explained to these two men, and they were sent back to repeat them to their chiefs. But therein lay the difficulty. Who were the real chiefs? There were numbers of chiefs, each with his own following, each bitterly jealous of his fellows. To negotiate under such conditions required the tact and patience which General Symons fortunately possessed. The most intelligent and influential of the rivals had to be discovered, and his position strengthened by dealing through him.

Henceforth affairs progressed well, and there was no combined opposition to the advance. One unfortunate incident, however, occurred. Some Chins lying in ambush shot Lieutenant Foster, of the King's Own Scottish Borderers. The tribes had been fully warned that acts of treachery would meet with punishment. The nearest village was destroyed. This, happily, was the sole occasion on which the Southern Column was compelled to use violence.

A few days afterwards Yokwa was occupied, and this section of the Baungshès yielded. The terms imposed on them were the surrender of the captives, the payment of a fine and of an annual tribute, and an engagement to keep the peace in future. The mule-path, meanwhile, was being pushed forward on to Haka, the headquarters of an important section. The same tactics soon led to their submission. The subjugation of the whole Baungshè clan was now complete, for the minor sections followed the lead of the premier communities. The headquarters of the expedition were fixed henceforward at Haka, and negotiations for the surrender of the captives were begun.

This was not an easy or speedy business. Nominal rolls of the persons held in durance by the Chins had been prepared, and it was known by which tribe and by which village the captives had been taken. But some of the raids had been committed months before. Slaves were current coin in the hills, and passed from hand to hand as easily as a bank-note in more civilized regions. Their value was fixed with reference to the customary ransom paid by their Burmese relatives, and seems to have averaged ten or twelve pounds sterling. In barter, according to Mr. Carey, a slave would exchange for three or four head of[319] cattle, a good gun, a dozen pigs, or a wife. However willing the tribe or the village, or even the original captor, might be to keep faith, it was often difficult to trace the slave and obtain his release from the present holder, who had bought him with a price and did not see why he should be at a loss. A view not unreasonable from a Chin point of view, but quite inadmissible from our side.

While these negotiations were proceeding at Haka, and the mule-road was being completed to that place, reconnaissance parties were sent out to the west, the country was explored, the submission of a western tribe, the Klanklangs, was secured, and communication with the Chittagong Column, under Brigadier-General Tregear,[58] was opened. The advance parties of General Symons and General Tregear's forces met on the 26th of February, at Tao village, fifty-two miles west of Haka. This meeting was notable for the recovery of the heads of Lieutenant John Stewart, of the Leinster Regiment, and the soldiers (two British and one Indian) who had been killed by Hoswata Shendoos on the 3rd of February, 1888, when surveying in the Chittagong Hill tracts. Their skulls had decorated the village of some Chin chief at Haka ever since. As to how they came to Haka nothing is known. The chief may have taken them himself, or he may have purchased the trophies from the real heroes. No inquiry was made, and no retaliation was inflicted on the accomplices in the murder of our fellow-countrymen.

The Southern Column being thus engaged, the Northern Column, under Colonel Skene, with Mr. Bertram Carey as civil officer, had not been idle. Mr. Carey had to do with a very difficult position. The tribes with whom he was immediately concerned were as defiant in December, 1889, as they had been a year before; and he had no medium of communication with them. Gradually, by patience and skilful handling, the Sagyilain Chins living in the nearest villages were induced to bring supplies of eggs and fowls to market. Trading led to closer intercourse. Mr. Carey established himself at Yawlu on the road from Fort White to Falam, the chief Tashon village, and very soon Tashons as well as Sagyilains came to Yawlu daily to sell their produce, and the situation became less strained, while the troops procured better food. After a little Manglön, the chief of the Sagyilains, came to see Mr. Carey, and made his submission to the British Government. This was a most welcome event. Manglön became a medium in all negotiations with the Siyins, and remained loyal and trustworthy in subsequent troubles.


No progress, however, was made with the Siyins, who promised to surrender if the Tashons made peace. The best months for active operations were passing. But it was thought inexpedient to adopt rough methods against them until a settlement had been made with the Tashons.[59] After some negotiations with the chief of Mwebingyi (an important village), who promised to surrender and invited a visit, Mr. Carey, with Colonel Skene and a small force, guided by Sagyilain men, marched to Mwebingyi. Three miles from the village they were fired on by Chins from all sides. A sharp skirmish followed. The Chins, driven back to their village, set it on fire and took to the hillsides. We lost two men severely wounded owing to this treacherous attack.

The time had now come when the much-delayed advance of the Southern Column made the combined movements of the Northern and Southern Columns upon the Tashon Ywama possible. The reduction of this tribe was the main object of the campaign, to which all the other operations were leading. It was important to avoid a hostile collision with it. It would have been easy enough to harass and punish the tribe village by village, but at the cost of life, destruction of property, and misery. General Symons's instructions were to accept no surrender and to conclude no negotiations except at Falam, the Tashon head village; and his purpose was to make resistance hopeless by placing the forces from Haka and Fort White simultaneously on the north and south of the Ywama. Accordingly, on the 8th of March a force 350 strong, with one gun, under Colonel Skene, left Fort White. On the 9th General Symons, with 290 rifles and two mountain-guns, marched from Haka. The Southern Column had suffered so much from sickness that its strength in fighting-men and transport coolies had been seriously reduced. Without the aid of the Northern Column, it could not have given enough men to garrison Haka and at the same time to deal with the Tashons. It was a matter of moment, therefore, that the two columns should operate in concert. A successful and rapid reconnaissance to within eight miles of the Ywama was affected, and the two forces arrived on the opposite banks of the Manipur, or Nankathe River, within an hour of each other on the 11th of March.


The Tashons had not intended to yield without a fight.

"Innumerable stockades, breastworks, and obstructions, extending over some nine miles of country, but chiefly intended against an enemy advancing from the north, had been freshly erected at every commanding point. Large numbers of armed men watched both columns as they advanced, but there was no collision. It is difficult to estimate their numbers; but on the south of Manipur River near the Ywama there were not less than 5,000 men, of whom two-thirds were armed with guns, the rest with spears."[60]

Disregarding the protests of some of the chiefs who came out to meet him, General Symons marched his men to a spot within one thousand yards of the Ywama, and fixed his camp there. The chiefs were assembled and asked if they agreed to our terms. With the inconsequence of savages, after allowing us to advance unopposed, they rejected our conditions, refusing firmly to pay tribute and demurring even to the fine. General Symons warned them of the risk they were incurring and dismissed them.

The scene on this occasion was dramatic, and is thus described by Mr. Bertram Carey, who was present:—


"The whole valley, in which formerly lay the original village of Falam, was full of armed Chins, numbering not less than 3,000 men, gathered from all sides; the host seemed to settle itself in groups of from 10 to 100 men. They were quiet in demeanour, but held their heads high and seemed quite prepared for whatever might be the result of the negotiations. The crowd was a motley one, the Tashon chiefs dressed in the gaudy tartan of the tribe, well armed with bright guns, vermilion and black parti-coloured dah scabbards, and beautifully inlaid powder-horns. The Whenohs were conspicuous by their chignons, which contrasted with the lofty head-dress of their neighbours, the Yahows, who were present carrying the strange shendu, chopper-shaped dahs in basketwork scabbards. Scattered around in bunches were the scowling Siyins, the half-breeds from Tawyan and Mintèdaung, the semi-independent clique of Kwungli, and the trans-Nankathè tribesmen of Sokte and 'Poi' origin. The congregation was armed with a variety of weapons; spears and flint-lock guns predominated, but bows and quivers of barbed arrows were carried by not a few. Each man bore his food-supply for a few days on his back."[61]

The next two days were spent in wearisome negotiations which might have driven a less patient man to the use of force. His forbearance was rewarded, and the chiefs gave way. The tribute for 1889 was delivered, and five thousand rupees, the amount to which he had thought right to reduce the fine, was paid.

The Tashons admitted that until a few days before the forces reached Falam they had intended to fight. Their position as head of the Chin tribes and the fear of losing prestige impelled them to resist. When they found their enemies coming from two sides, they began to lose heart. All their outlying villages, who knew they must suffer first and most, prayed them to make peace.

It is evident that the rough handling of the Siyins by General Faunce had given a salutary lesson to these people. The event proved also the wisdom of marching to the headquarters of the tribe, and there compelling the public submission of their leaders.

The object of the combined march having been attained, the columns separated, the Southern returning to Haka and the Northern to Fort White. During the remaining months of open weather General Symons was occupied in gathering in the captives, improving his relations with the Chins, and in exploring the country. In April, accompanied by the Haka chief, he visited many villages to the South and was everywhere well received. On the 15th of April General Tregear met him at Haka, now linked up with Fort Tregear by a mule-track, which was brought into Haka, a distance of eighty-one miles, on the 13th of April. The Chittagong Column had met with no opposition. Their work was mainly road-making, reconnoitring, and surveying—work of the first importance in securing permanent peace. The Lushai country was as difficult as any on the Burma side.


"There is the dense jungle, which prevents one seeing a dozen yards ahead; rocks extending over large portions of the hillside are constantly met with, and when it was found impossible to avoid them much time was taken up in blasting operations. Range upon range of precipitous hills, running at right angles to the line of advance, had to be crossed, and the question of a sufficient supply of water at the different camps had to be considered in determining the trace of the road."[62]

Two large rivers had to be bridged.

It is not within the scope of the present narrative to describe the work done by the Chittagong Column. Its approach from the west had beyond doubt made General Symons's task easier, and success more certain.

On returning to Fort White, Mr. Carey resumed his immediate duty of bringing the Siyins within the fold. They had promised to submit if the Tashons made peace. He called upon them now to keep their word. Only one chief came in, and, as he brought no captives, Mr. Carey sent him away. So far from submitting, they cut the telegraph wires daily and annoyed our people. A policy of waiting and conciliation had failed. Several of the worst villages were therefore singled out and destroyed, not without some fighting, in which several sepoys were killed. Unfortunately, in two cases, in which some troops from Kalemyo were engaged, the bodies were allowed to fall into the enemies' hands. The Chin braves were able to return with two heads, more expressive of victory than guns or standards, and no doubt published in their fashion jubilant bulletins. The triumph was short-lived. A month afterwards a detachment of the 42nd Gurkhas, marching down on their way to India, destroyed the villages concerned. Before the end of April all the Siyins had made outward submission and had accepted our terms, which were that a yearly tribute should be paid and that the captives should be surrendered. Each clan was to be allowed to rebuild its villages when the captives held by it had been released, and not before. The cut telegraph wire and the two heads were brought in, and the captives were being gradually surrendered.


The results of the campaign were good and permanent. The foundation was laid for an effective control over these troublesome hill-men, and peace with security was given to the Burmans in the plains and to the Chins themselves. Raiding and slavery as institutions were condemned, and were soon to disappear altogether. Before the troops left the field one hundred and thirty-eight captives were liberated. There were a few raids made after General Symons finished his task, but they were promptly punished. There were some disturbances among the Chin tribes. They were easily checked, and systematic disarmament here, as in Burma proper, changed the temper and habits of the people.

This success had been achieved almost without bloodshed, but at a great cost to our men of suffering and loss of life from disease. The sickness among troops and followers was appalling, and the transport animals perished by hundreds. Nine men, of whom two were officers, were killed in action; two hundred and seven, of whom seventy-two were fighting-men, perished of disease. And two thousand one hundred and twenty-two were invalided, of whose seven hundred and nine were fighting-men—one-fifth of the whole force.

A permanent post was built at Haka, which was found to be a healthy place; and the headquarters of a civil officer, with control over the Baungshès and Tashons, was established there.

Fort White continued for some time to be the headquarters of the civil and military staff in the north. But the garrison was reduced, and as the site was always sickly, the fort was moved back to the Letha Range, retaining the name which it had received from Sir George White. Falam, the chief village of the Tashons, is now the headquarters of the civil administration of the Chin Hills.

Burmese ladies making a call.


It is worth while, perhaps, to give some account of the Chins in these the first years of British rule.

At the time of General Symons's expedition the Chins were a savage race. They had arms in abundance, flint-lock guns of English make, and spears. They were armed not so much against strangers as against each other. In former times, when they were ill-provided with fire-arms, the Burmans used to oppress them; but for a long time the position had been reversed. Intertribal feuds, however, and feuds between villages and families of the same tribe, were very common and made it unsafe to move without arms. No man who owned a gun ever left his house without it. While the fields were worked by women and slaves, armed men stood guard. So it was even less than a century ago in parts of India. What caused the feuds was a matter for speculation. Apparently disputes about debts were the most frequent; commerce, in fact, as among Western peoples, led to quarrels. As for government, even the most primitive form of tribal or village organization appears to have been imperfect. There were many chiefs, and if any one of them, as Jahoota,[63] for instance, was pre-eminent, he could not count on the obedience or support of the others. Their jealousies interfered with everything. Of their manners and customs not much was put on record in the earlier reports, which were necessarily more concerned with military matters. They made forays on the Burmans for heads and slaves. They were much given to sacrifices, and sometimes to human sacrifices. For example, it was usual to sacrifice slaves at the funerals of persons accidentally killed. Of their marriage-customs nothing is said in the early reports.

The country was not rich. There were no forests that it would pay to work, and no minerals had been discovered. The cultivation was of the primitive kind—"Taungya," or "Jhoom"—that is to say, felling the trees, burning them when dry, and sowing hill-rice and other crops in the ash. In the forests they had plenty of game, and much fish—Mahseer and other kinds—in the rivers; and the jungles were rich in fruits and roots that would support life if the grain failed. Metal of all kinds was very scarce. The hills produced none, and the Burmese Government had forbidden the export of metals from the plains. The trouble the Chins gave by cutting the telegraph wire was caused by their desire to procure metal, rather than to cause annoyance. Mr. Carey compared the attraction felt by the Chin for the unprotected wire to that felt by an English boy for an unfenced apple-orchard. The insulator spikes were beaten into hoes and the wire melted to make bullets, or bangles for the damsels. Their wants were blankets, cottons and other cloths, iron and steel for tools, lead for bullets, needles and thread and salt. In exchange they were able to offer honey, beeswax, chillies, mats, and a little lac.


The reports of 1889 were more concerned with the measures carried out for their subjugation than with descriptions of the people and their manners. In the main, what is written in the Burma Gazetteer published in 1908 is true of the Chins of twenty years ago:—

"They are a sturdy, warlike, hospitable people, slow of speech, grave of habit, paying great regard to rank and to the ties of clan, but spoilt by their intemperance, their vindictiveness, their treachery, their greed, their lack of persistence,[64] and their personal uncleanliness."

There is a quaint humour about this description which is refreshing in a Gazetteer. A race would have to be good indeed if, with such an array of vices, there was anything left to spoil.

Their villages are described as built on the hill-slopes, some of them fortified; and their houses are often solid, elaborate structures. Their dress is the reverse—a loin-cloth, none too ample, and a blanket for the men; a short skirt and jacket for the women. Home-woven check plaids are seen in a good many costumes, and some tribes have distinctive plaids, as in Scotland. The people are mainly vegetarians, but they will eat anything, from a dog to an elephant. They smoke tobacco in pipes, and they make a liquor from fermented grain, presumably rice, which is called zu. They suck up this, in the most approved fashion, through a hollow reed, out of the original still-pot. Enormous quantities of zu are consumed at Chin entertainments, which usually end in disgusting orgies.


The Chinbôks and Chinbons.

Tribes called the Chinbôks, claiming to be of the same stock as the Hakas but speaking a different language, are found at the head-waters of the Maw and Yaw Rivers. Farther south, at the sources of the Saw and Salin and on the eastern slopes of the Môn Valley, live the Yendus. Below them, and southernmost of all the Chins, are the Chinbons, who from the Môn on the east extend along the border of the Mimbu district into the Akyab and Kyaukpyu districts of Lower Burma.

These three tribes were less fierce than their kindred to the north, and possessed only the arms of savage warfare—the bow and arrow and spear. Some of them, those on the borders of the Tilin township at the headquarters of the Maw River, were noted for cattle-lifting. But the Chinbôks on the Yaw and the Yendus on the Saw and Salin Rivers rivalled the Siyins as slave-raiders. At the commencement of the winter of 1889 there were twenty-one captives in the possession of these tribes. They had made twelve raids since December, 1888, in which five villagers had been killed and sixteen carried off. Many had been wounded in resisting or escaping, and large sums had been extracted as ransom.

It was decided, in making up the account against these savages, not to go back behind December, 1888. In that month a notable raid had been committed on Taunggyo in the Pauk township, in which thirty-two persons were carried off and held to ransom at nine pounds sterling each, which appears to have settled down as the sum beyond which the ability or affection of the Burman would not go (see p. 318). After this crime trade with the plains had been prohibited to the Chinbôks, so far as lay in our power.

The difficulty in dealing with them lay in their want of cohesion and the absence of any sort of tribal bond. With the Shans there were the Sawbwas; with the Chins to the north there were the tribal divisions, more or less marked, with chiefs who could speak, or at any rate profess to speak, for their people. But with the people with whom[328] we were now to come in contact there was an absence of political organization beyond the village, which was usually very small. It was necessary to visit as many as possible of the villages concerned in the raids, to receive the submission of each, and to impose fines for misconduct; and as an obligatory condition to insist on the surrender of captives, and the repayment of ransoms, not going back farther than December, 1888. Substantial guarantees for the future were also to be exacted.

It had been intended to make the dealings with these three tribes part of the operations under General Symons's control, and to give to Mr. Ross, under his orders, the immediate conduct of the negotiations. When the full proportions of the task assigned to General Symons were seen, it became plain that he could not undertake the Chinbôks; and in consequence of Major Raikes's illness, Mr. Ross had to remain with the Southern Column. Fortunately the Chin Frontier Levy had now been raised, and had had a little time to fit itself for service. Their posts at Kalemyo, Kan, and Gangaw were wanted by the regular troops of the Southern Column. This freed the Levy opportunely, and gave the Chief Commissioner a sufficient force for the expedition into the Chinbok country. An admirable officer was at hand to conduct it, in Lieutenant R. M. Rainey (now Colonel Rainey-Robinson), the Commandant of the Levy. To him was entrusted the conduct of the business.

Lieutenant Rainey began, on the 16th of December, 1889, by dealing with twenty-one Chinbok villages, consisting of two hundred and eighty-three houses, situated on the Maw Chaung, the southernmost affluent of the Myittha, on which Tilin, the headquarters of the Tilin township, is situated. The claim against them was for cattle stolen. But cattle thefts and slaves were mere questions of accounts. They set up and proved a counterclaim for the price of slaves sold to the plaintiffs before the British occupation. Lieutenant Rainey thought it best to admit the counterclaim and let bygones be bygones, but to provide for the future. He induced the twenty-one villages to appoint a chief as their spokesman and agent in dealing with us, and to agree to pay a small[329] tribute in kind leviable from each village as an acknowledgment of fealty to the British Government.

So far there had been no opposition. Lieutenant Rainey then moved his headquarters from Tilin to Chaungu or Yawdwin, some twenty miles south. This village is situated on an affluent of the Yaw River, and made a good base for the next part of the business. The Chins in the valley of the Yaw and its tributaries were raiders. They attempted to harass the force, and Captain Willcocks (now Lieutenant-General Sir James Willcocks, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O.), the Intelligence Officer, who was surveying and reconnoitring for a further move to the south, was attacked. This compelled a resort to punitive measures, and several offending villages were destroyed. A defensible advanced post was established at Chaungzon, in the heart of their hills. These methods brought the hostile Chins to reason. From this until the close of the operations the work progressed, bloodless and unopposed. The villages submitted, captives were delivered up, headmen were appointed, and fines exacted from all villages which had raided since December, 1888.

Lieutenant Rainey then returned to Chaungu; and moving his base still farther south to Laungshe, came into contact with the Yindus and Chinbons. By the exercise of tact and patience he succeeded in bringing these sections to submit to the British Government and to release their captives. As before, headmen were appointed, the payment of tribute was promised, and guarantees for good conduct given. The work was thoroughly well done. General Symons, in his despatch on the Chin-Lushai Campaign, wrote:—

"The Chinbok operations, though in no way under my direction or command, but ably, even brilliantly, conducted by Lieutenant Rainey, Commandant of the Chin Levy Military Police Battalion, have squared well with our work and settled an adjoining belt of country beyond our capability to touch."

Lieutenant Rainey was another of the young soldiers who aided the civil administration in difficult times and showed their fitness for affairs. The country which submitted to him was made a separate civil charge, known[330] as "The Pakokku Hill Tracts," the headquarters of which were for some years at Yawdwin and are now at Kanpetlet on Mount Victoria.

It is noticeable that the Chinbôks and their confrères had been excluded from trading and from all intercourse with the plains since the beginning of 1889. On making their submission they begged that the blockade might be raised. It was evidently a useful weapon. If it had failed in the case of the Tashons and the more northern tribes, it was because it had not been effective.

We had now made ourselves felt by most of the tribes. There remained unvisited a stretch of hills separating the Minbu district of Upper Burma from Arakan. The Chins dwelling in this tract preyed on the peasantry in the neighbouring districts. During the preceding two years sixteen villages had been raided in Minbu, twenty-one persons killed and thirty-nine carried into slavery. Of these captives sixteen had been ransomed by their friends at a very heavy price. In the adjoining township of the Pakokku district there had been several forays, and seventeen persons had been captured and carried off. It was not possible at this time to find men for a comprehensive expedition against these Chins. Civil officers from the three districts of Akyab, Kyaukpyu, and Minbu were deputed, with small bodies of police, to meet at a central point. They assembled the chiefs and village headmen. The Chins were peaceful and submissive, but very few of the captives were restored. These clans belonged to the Akyab district geographically, and had not yet realized that their eastern borders had come under the British Government and were no longer to afford a happy hunting-ground for the pursuit of human game. They were found to be by no means formidable, badly armed, and little inclined to fight.

The following year (1890-1) saw the beginning of the systematic control of the Chin tribes. For administrative purposes they were roughly divided into three parts. The northern tribes were governed from Fort White, the central tribes from Haka, and the southern from Yawdwin. Captain F. M. Rundall commanded the garrison at Fort White, and also held charge of our relations with the[331] Chins when Mr. Carey had to take leave. Our knowledge of these people was at first far from accurate, and the then recognized divisions of the tribes controlled from Port White were roughly as follows:—[65]

1. The Siyins and Sagyilains who lived in five villages, of which Koset, Sagyilain, and Tôklaing were the chief. The first Port White was built on the site of Tôklaing, which was afterwards given back to them when the fort was moved.

2. The Kanhows, inhabiting between thirty and forty villages north of Fort White, of which Tunzan, on the left bank of the Manipur River, is the capital.

3. The Mobingyis, as they were called from the Burmese name for their chief village, Molbem, which lies on a spur overlooking the Manipur River on the left bank, and was a very large village.

4. The Nwi-tes and other minor tribes akin to the Kukis of Manipur.

It is now known that the right name of the Mobingyis is Sok-te, a very large tribe, of whom the Kanhows are only a powerful clan.

5. The Ngwite and Late, who occupy the hills between Mwelpi and Manipur.

6. The Haitsi Lope, who live on the eastern slope of the Letha Range bordering the Kabaw Valley.

At the end of the last season's operations Mr. Carey had reported the submission of the Siyins and the acceptance of our terms. At the same time he had little trust in their good faith, and when Captain Rundall succeeded him at Fort White their attitude was more or less hostile. They continued to cut the telegraph wire and to give petty annoyance to the troops. The capture of some of the wire cutters gave some help to diplomacy. The Siyins submitted in order to get their brethren released. They surrendered their captives and agreed to pay tribute and keep the peace. The Kanhows proved more difficult. Captain Rundall took advantage of a dispute about the succession to the leadership of the tribe to open communication with one of the claimants.


But before anything came of it the Kanhows raided a Burman village, killing eight persons and carrying off twelve. They were ordered to restore all captives, to give up the heads taken in the raid, to pay a fine of Rs. 4,000, to submit to the Government, and to bind themselves to pay an annual tribute of Rs. 300. These terms were not complied with. Captain Rundall, therefore, marched with three hundred rifles and two guns against the village of Tungzang. The Chins fought, and lost twelve men killed and twenty-one prisoners, including some of their chief men. They had now tried conclusions and were satisfied. Thirty-nine captives were surrendered and the fine and tribute paid in full. Some of the chiefs were sent to Rangoon, and shown over some large steamers, mills, and the like, and, it is said, were impressed by the sight. However that may be, they have not given much trouble since. Some useful road work was done during this year by the Madras Pioneers. A road from Fort White to Falam, the Tashon mother-village, was constructed. As the old site of Fort White still continued to be very unhealthy, the garrison and headquarters of the civil officer were moved back to a post hitherto known as No. 5 Stockade on the Letha Range.

The Chins to be controlled from Haka were found to be divisible into five tribes:—

1. The Tashons, a large tribe having their headquarters at Falam, half-way between Haka and Fort White.

2. The Hakas, lying south of the Tashon country and round about Haka.

3. The Klanklangs, to the west of the Haka tribe and between them and Fort Tregear, on the Chittagong side.

4. The Yokwas, who lie to the south and east of the Hakas; and lastly,

5. The independent tribes, known generally by the nickname of Baungshè, in the hills south of the Yokwas.

Mr. D. Ross,[66] the Assistant Commissioner who had accompanied General Symons's expedition, held Haka until March, 1891, when he had to leave on account of his health. He was succeeded by Mr. D. J. C. Macnabb,[67] Assistant Commissioner, a young soldier of a well-known stock. Friendly relations with the Chins were maintained. The road from Kan, in the Myittha Valley, to Haka, was kept open by Chin labour, and the regular postal service was performed by Chins. The Myittha Valley was not raided, and generally the Haka Yokwa tribes were well behaved. Trouble, however, came from the independent Baungshès, with whom, owing to their want of cohesion, it was difficult to deal.


General Symons had left one weak spot in his work. There was a powerful village called Thetta, eight miles south of Yokwa. Of it he wrote:—

"It has resisted all our efforts to bring it to complete submission, although some captives have been given up and a fine paid.... It is a blot on our work to have left this village unsettled, but it commands the Kan to Yokwa road, and I considered it better to leave it to stew in its obstinacy and isolation rather than resort to drastic measures which would have had the effect of driving the inhabitants into the jungles and making the road unsafe. The boon of convoys and traders and others being able to use safely and freely the road between Kan and Haka without escorts was too great to risk the loss of it for the satisfaction of an exercise of our power which, at the best in my opinion, would have had but little effect in bringing about the desired result."

At the same time he recorded his opinion that unless the Thetta people gave in, the political officer would have to visit and compel them.

It was the old story. The Thettas thought forbearance was the sign of weakness and fear. In November, 1890, they became openly hostile. They committed a series of outrages, and at last brought matters to a head by killing Mr. Wetherell, a young police officer, and attempting the life of the political officer, Mr. Macnabb. In January, 1891, a force of one hundred and forty rifles started from Haka to punish the village. They had no guns. The village was strongly stockaded. Lieutenant James, R.E., and two Gurkha sepoys were killed, and the officer commanding[334] decided that he could not storm the defences without heavy loss. The Chins were invited to a parley, and they agreed to pay a small fine for their misconduct and to yield an annual tribute in future.

Such an arrangement was for us equivalent to a defeat. It was decided to take up the coercion of the Baungshès in a businesslike manner. Two strong columns, with guns, were despatched, one from Haka with Mr. Ross as political officer, the other from Gungaw with Mr. Macnabb. They met at Thetta without opposition, and recovered the fine which the Thetta villagers had promised to pay, and traversed the Baungshè country, receiving the submission of the villagers.

Thetta, however, was not yet subdued. They had defied us, killed our men, and escaped with a small fine. In 1894 they began to rob and murder, and when they were called to account they behaved themselves proudly. On the 1st of January, 1895, a force under Major Keary, D.S.O., of the 6th Burma Rifles, with Mr. H. N. Tuck as political officer, occupied the village, arrested the chiefs, and disarmed the villagers. The chiefs were afterwards degraded in open Durbar.

But the year 1891 was not to close without further difficulty. General Symons, reporting to the Chief Commissioner from Haka, dated the 1st of May, 1890, wrote (para. 9):—

"The Klanklangs are almost a separate tribe, but they are Baungshès and live on fairly good terms with the Hakas. The Yokwas do not march with the Klanklangs, neither are they friendly with them. (10) The Klanklangs, finding themselves at the beginning of the year between the Burma and Chittagong Columns, made haste to submit to the troops entering their country, and readily agreed to easy terms imposed. (11) The settlement with the Klanklangs and their chief, Ya Hnit—whom, to suit the convenience of the Chittagong officials, we are now agreed to call 'Jahoota'—was very rightly left to me as the representative of the local Government of Burma. The Klanklang Ywama (chief village) is only sixteen miles from Haka, and Jahoota and other head chiefs live there.... I do not think this tribe will give us any more trouble. The meeting of the[335] Eastern and Western Columns in their territory, and the continual passing of troops backwards and forwards without committal of harm or excess, has had the best effect."

In March, 1891, Mr. Macnabb, with Lieutenant Mocatta and one hundred rifles, set out to visit the Klanklangs and to meet an official from Port Tregear at Tao. The tribe, which had surrendered to General Symons, was held to be friendly. The road passed through their hills, and there was no thought of interfering with them. They had, however, been raiding on the Lushai side, and it was intended to warn them to abstain from this. On the outward march to Tao the Klanklang chiefs did not appear. They were said to be occupied in propitiating their Nats, or guardian spirits, and to be very drunk. Mr. Macnabb, therefore, postponed his interview until he came back from Tao. On the return march a large body of Chins, said to have been seven or eight hundred, suddenly fell upon the small column, which fought its way on to Klanklang with some difficulty, losing five men killed and ten wounded, and one British officer (Lieutenant Forbes) wounded. Reinforcements from Haka, under Colonel Mainwaring, met the returning column at Klanklang and saved them from further loss. Officers and men had behaved admirably. A fine of guns and money was imposed on the tribe, and preparations were made for enforcing it.

Before the preparations were complete Jahoota came suing for peace. He proved that he had been away and had had no concern in the treacherous attack, which had been organized by two subordinate chiefs in his absence. He brought in guns and other valuables in part payment of the fine, and was ordered to produce the two offenders and to raze their houses to the ground. As the culprits were not surrendered, the political officer, with three hundred rifles, visited Klanklang in May. He found that the houses had been destroyed, but the two men had fled. Some of the villages paid their shares of the fines; but others held out, and owing to the lateness of the season and want of transport, it was impossible to coerce them. Jahoota, in proof of his good faith, gave up his eldest son as a hostage, and he was left to re-establish his authority. There has been no difficulty since in managing these Baungshè tribes, and in[336] the years 1894-5 they, as well as all the southern tribes, were disarmed.

The control of the rude southernmost Chins, known as Chinbôks, Chinbons, and Yendus, was exercised at first by a subdivisional officer stationed at Yawdwin. From Lieutenant Rainey's expedition up to January, 1891, no disturbance occurred. In that month a very daring raid was made on Yawdwin itself, and the place looted under the eyes of the police garrison. Further raids followed, and a strong force of regular troops had to be sent to restore order. A military post was established within the hills. In 1896 this post also was attacked. The country was then placed under efficient administrative control. Posts were established in suitable places. A civil officer with sufficient powers was appointed to live in the hills and govern the people. His headquarters are now at Kanpetlet, on the slopes of Mount Victoria, some 6,000 feet above the sea-level. And a small force of Gurkha military police under a British officer is maintained there. Raiding has ceased, and the people have been disarmed. In other respects twenty years have not changed them much. In the Burma Gazetteer (of 1908, vol. ii. p. 393) it is recorded:—

"The inhabitants of the tract are practically all animists. The Chinbok men wear a very scanty loin-cloth, and are seldom seen without their bows and arrows. The women's dress consists of a smock and a short skirt. The females have their faces tattooed."

It may be doubted whether Western civilization will make them happier. Tattooing is more lasting and more conducive to domestic peace than paint and powder. It is cheaper in the long run.


1st Battalion King's Own, Scottish Borderers500rifles
No. 7 Mountain Battery84"
No. 6 Company Queen's Own, Sappers and Miners151"
2nd Battalion 4th Gurkhas410"
2nd Madras Infantry630"
Burma Company Queen's Own, Sappers and Miners94"
1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment300rifles
42nd Gurkha Light Infantry477"
No. 5 Company Queen's Own, Sappers and Miners95"
10th Bengal Infantry460"
28th Bengal Infantry290"

[58] Now Major-General Sir Vincent William Tregear, K.C.B., Indian Army, retired.

[59] It was understood at this time that the Siyins were quite subordinate to the Tashons, whose control, however, proved to be limited.

[60] Brigadier-General Symons's Despatch, dated the 1st of May, 1890, from Haka.

[61] "The Chin Hills," vol. i., p. 89. Government Press, Rangoon, 1896.

[62] Brigadier-General Tregear's Despatch, May 31, 1890.

[63] Regarding Jahoota, or Ya Hnit, see pp. 334-335 infra.

[64] It may be questioned whether, in view of the obstinate resistance shown by some tribes, they can be fairly charged with lack of persistence.

[65] For accurate and most interesting information regarding the Chins, their manners, customs, and history, I must refer the reader to the "Chin Hills," by Bertram S. Carey, C.I.E., and H. N. Tuck (2 vols., Rangoon Government Press, 1896.), which can be seen at the India Office Library.

[66] Mr. Ross, after excellent service, died at Rangoon in 1910.

[67] Mr. Macnabb is now Major Macnabb, Commissioner of the Sagaing (formerly called Central) Division of Upper Burma.



Of the many other parts which go to make up the working machinery of a great province nothing has been said, as the object of this account is to show how peace and order were restored, or rather given, to Burma. Along and step by step with this rough work, however, every part of an advanced administration began to take shape. There was none which was not, at the very least, called into existence.

The revenue of Upper Burma increased from £222,000 in 1886-7 to £1,120,000 in the year 1889-90. No new taxes were imposed. The revenue grew by careful administration. From the year 1888 I had the assistance of Mr. Fryer as Financial Commissioner in dealing with this branch of the work, and the subject of the land revenue of the Upper Province was examined more minutely than had been possible before. In 1889 a regulation declaring the law relating to rights of land and formulating a complete system of revenue law for Upper Burma was framed in Burma, and passed by the Governor-General in Council. In it provision was made for the gradual survey and assessment of the land; and before the end of 1890 the cadastral survey had broken ground in two districts in which the cultivated area was largest.

The Forest Department had been busy from the first, and progress had been made in ascertaining the condition and resources of the great teak forests of Upper Burma.

The Government of India had treated Burma with generosity in the matter of money for public works. The extent of our undertakings was limited by the difficulty of obtaining a competent staff, rather than by a deficiency[338] of funds. The expenditure on barracks and other accommodation for troops at stations where garrisons were to be permanently kept was necessarily large. At district headquarters in civil stations, court-houses, and (where necessary) jails had been built, and court-houses had also been provided in many subdivisions. The irrigation works in Kyauksè were not neglected, and the Mu Canal scheme in the Shwèbo district had been taken in hand. The railway to Mandalay was opened in March, 1889, and the surveys for the Mu Valley line, which was to take the rails up the right bank of the river and through all the difficult country traversed by Major Adamson's expedition in 1887-8, had been completed and construction had begun.

Great attention had been paid to the improvement of communications, including several difficult hill-roads. A good cart-road had been made from the river to the ruby mines. Another from Mandalay to Maymyo was being taken on to Lashio; and, from Meiktila to Kalaw on the Shan plateau, seventy-six miles, a road was well advanced. The land-locked Yaw country had been opened up, and a mule-track from Kalewa on the Chindwin to Fort White in the Chin Hills had been finished. Roads over the Yomas, which had sheltered the Magwè dacoits, had been completed.

The money, poured into the country for roads and buildings, apart from the railway expenditure, was nearly all spent on native labour and on material produced in the country. In the aggregate it was more than the sums received as revenue. That it, along with the railway expenditure on labour, helped largely in settling the country directly and indirectly, is certain. If Indian and Chinese Shan coolies were employed, it was because Burman labour was not forthcoming.

Nor had some of the refinements of administration been neglected. In the larger towns a simple system of municipal government was introduced, care being taken not to hurry a somewhat primitive people accustomed to corrupt methods and with little sense of responsibility along the slippery paths of local self-government.

In the middle of 1890 a Judicial Commissioner was appointed for Upper Burma. I accepted this refinement[339] more reluctantly than I would have welcomed a reduction of the garrison. But the character of the man appointed to the post (the late Mr. Hodgkinson) was an assurance that there would be no display of judicial pyrotechnics, such as lawyers sometimes indulge in, and that some regard would be paid to the conditions under which our officers were working.

The provision of medical aid for the people was taken in hand energetically, under the guidance of Dr. Sinclair, who administered the medical department of the whole of Burma. It was not possible to provide substantial public hospitals, and at first only temporary buildings were erected. Excellent permanent hospitals had been built for the military police, and on their withdrawal it was intended that these buildings should be converted into civil hospitals.

Vaccination was introduced also, and every district was furnished with the means of protection against smallpox. The people came readily to be vaccinated, and no Burman, so far as I know, expressed an objection, conscientious or other, to being protected from the ravages of a loathsome disease. But they are comparatively a backward race and still have much to learn.

In the matter of education, it was not the time to do much, and I was inclined to walk very warily in Upper Burma. The Director of Public Instruction was sent round the province in 1889 to examine the condition of the existing schools; and on his report a beginning was made by appointing an inspector and some assistant inspectors, more to ascertain and collate facts than with a view to active interference. Later on the grant-in-aid rules in force in the lower province were introduced. The author of the Burma Gazetteer (vol. i., p. 132) writes: "Missionary schools are now plentiful, and lay schools, both public and private, abound; but the bed-rock of vernacular education in Burma is still monastery teaching, and with it is intimately bound up the educational welfare of the people."

I am inclined to agree with this statement. The system of monastic schools has, I think, been an immense boon to the people of Burma, and if only the monks could be roused to educate themselves more and to cast off some of their old ideas I should like to see it maintained.


The danger is that the contact with Western knowledge and ascertained fact may destroy the belief of the young Burmans in the monastic teaching, and this danger is increased, if it is not caused, by the superstitious ignorance of the monks and their inability to disentangle the moral teaching of their great founder from the cobwebs of fairy tales, about the form and nature of the earth and the like. With this in mind, a beginning was made towards inducing the Pongyis to employ certificated assistant teachers in the monastic schools.

Western teaching may, however, have less effect on Eastern faiths than we think. I was visiting a lay school in Burma one day, I forget where, but I was talking to one of the pupils, a very intelligent boy. I asked him about the shape of the earth, and so on. He had it all pat, the conventional proofs included. I said: "Now, you know what the Pongyis teach, which do you believe—what you have learnt here, or in the monastery?" He replied unhesitatingly, "What the Pongyis tell me, of course." "Why then," I asked, "did you say the earth was round and went round the sun?" "Oh," he said, "I must say that or I should not pass the examinations; but I believe the other." There may be more intelligent students, even at a riper age, of the same mind as this boy. Sometimes, perhaps, in the West, it is the other way about.

On the 10th of December, 1890, I surrendered my charge to Sir Alexander Mackenzie,[68] one of the ablest men of his time in India.

In his summary of the Administration Report of Burma, for the year 1890-1, dated December 21, 1891, is written: "Upper Burma being now perfectly tranquil, it is not necessary to describe separately the progress made in the pacification of each district. The fact that there were fewer crimes in Upper than in Lower Burma during the year is sufficient proof that except in certain frontier tracts the work is complete."

It is pleasant to most of us to know that our work is appreciated by others. It pleased me the other day, and it may please those for whom I have put together this rough account of the pacification of Burma to read this passage from the "Shans at Home," by Mrs. Leslie Milne and the Rev. Wilbur Willis Cochrane (p. 29):—


"At the time of the annexation, every part of the Shan highlands west of the Salween was ravaged with war, Shans against Shans and Burmans against them all. To bring peace and an era of prosperity, put an end to feuds, settle the disputes of princes, re-establish the people in their homes, and organize out of chaos a helpful and strong government was no easy task. That it was accomplished with so small a force, so quickly and with so little opposition, was due to the energy, ability, and tact of the British officials upon whom the Government had placed responsibility.

"Immediately after the annexation, began the era of improvement. Twenty-four years have passed since then. The British peace officers have retired, or are retiring, but they leave behind them a prosperous and peaceful people. The towns are growing towards their former dimensions; wealth and trade are increasing beyond all expectations. Population is rapidly increasing. A mother with her little child can travel alone from Mogaung to the border of Siam, and from Kengtung to Rangoon, with comfort and perfect safety."


[68] The late Sir Alexander Mackenzie, K.C.S.I., afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal.





Adamson, C.I.E., Major C. H. E., Deputy Commissioner of Bhamo, 76, 239-267, 338

Aitchison, Sir Charles, 20, 56

Akyab, 330

Alelet (central division of Hsenwi), 140, 160, 169, 173

Allahabad, 20

Alomphra, House of, 38, 227

Alôn, 88, 289

Amarapura, 39

Amats (ministers), 268

American Baptist Missionaries, work among the Karens, 51, 80

Amir Mahomed, death of, 87

Andamans, 112

Anderson, Brigadier-General, 29

Arakan Mountains, 62, 148, 293

Arbuthnot, Sir Charles, Commander-in-chief of the Madras Army, 29, 284

Arbuthnot, Gillanders, 45

Archer, Mr. W. J. (H.M. acting vice-consul at Chiengmai), 167, 168, 219, 220

Armstrong, Captain, 240

Assam, Valley of, 134, 311

Atkinson, Captain, killed, 28

Aung Bet, 112

Ava, Court of, 19;
training of police at, 64, 65, 99;
King of, 1;
kingdom of (subdivision of Sagaing), 8, 31, 118, 143, 270;
invaded, 65


Barron, Surgeon-Major, 250

Barrow, Major (now Sir Edmund Barrow), 219

Bassein, 40, 48

Balu stream, 195

Bangkok, 134, 167, 168, 191

Baungshè tribe (Tashons), 288, 332, 334, 336

Baw (or Maw) submitted to General East, 33, 49

Bawlaké, 191

Bawyethat Pagoda, 150

Bayfield, Lieutenant (explorer of Jade Mines, 1838), 238

Bayengan or Viceroy of Myingun Prince, 31, 84, 87-89

Bengal boundary, 130

Benson, Lieutenant, 264, 267

Bernard, Sir Charles, arrival, 7, 8;
code, 10;
roads, &c., 56, 66;
irrigation, 69;
village disarmament, 81;
meeting with Hkun Saing, 142, 146;
policy towards Shan States, 147

Bernard Myo, 46, 47, 271

Beville, Captain, 88, 295

Bhamo, 8, 30, 40, 44, 67, 74-79;
description of Bhamo, 234-241, 309

Bigandet, Bishop, 37

Binbong, 272

Blundell, Major, 277

Bo Cho, 83, 114

Bo-hmu, 144

Bo-hmumintha, 135

Bo Le, death of, 115, 116

Bombay, 20;
Burma Company working the teak forests, 116, 121;
sappers and miners, 148

Bo Nyo U, 88

Bo Saga, 291

Bo Saing, 154

Bo Sawbwa, 85

Bo Swè, story of, 26-28, 62, 82

Bo Ti, 250-264
[344] Bo Tok, 65, 99

Brahmaputra, 134

Bridges, Mr. J. E., Deputy Commissioner, 146

Browning, Mr. Colin, 92, 104

Buddha, teaching of, 44;
Yaza, 117

Buddhists (Shan), 134

Burgess, C.S.I., Mr. G. D. (Judicial Commissioner, Upper Burma), 12, 29, 30, 92

Burma, boundaries of, 3

Burma, Upper, incorporated with India, 8;
scheme of government, 8;
scheduled district, 10;
divisions of provinces, 12;
description of districts, 30-36;
marches of, 130

Burma, Lower, village organization, 22, 53;
dacoity, 23;
defective police arrangements, 52;
evil of arming villages, 53;
evil of mixed police, Indian and Burman, 53, 54;
King of, 76, 125, 134-138, 144, 148, 169, 175

Burmans, country of the, 133;
military police, 64, 65;
special constables, 80

Buyers, Mr. G. D., chief engineer, Mandalay Railway, 61

Byaing Gyi, 109


Calcutta, 20, 24, 128

Cambodia, 134

Carey, Mr. Bertram, 314, 319-321, 326, 331

Carter, Mr. G. M. S., 47, 85, 89;
sent with Colonel Symons to Sagaing, 104, 295

Chaungwa, 86, 87;
Ava district, 146, 147;
Prince, 160

Chaungu, 297, 329

Chaungzon, 300, 329

Chefan, 278

Chieng Kong given to Siam, 232

Chiengmaai (or Zimme), 167-169

China, care in dealing with, 21;
and Upper Burma, 40;
opium traffic, 40-44;
rights over Kang Hung, 232

Chinbôks, 327-336

Chinbons, 327-336

Chinbyit, 88, 89

Chindwin, Lower, 8, 33, 64, 84, 99, 105;
river, 92, 120, 133, 288, 294, 311

Chinese in Bhamo, 74, 75;
Shans, 75;
threaten the frontier, 76, 77;
in Hsenwi, 138;
attitude to Trans-Salween States, 136

Chingaing, 290, 291

Chins, disarmament of, 81, 100, 101;
country, 131, 294;
Chin-Lushai, 308-336;
expedition against the, 287-307;
five tribes, 332

Chitpauk, 296

Chittagong Hills, 293;
column, 319-336

Clarke, Major O. L. I., 219

Clement, Colonel, assists in capture of Bo Swè, 82

Clements, Lieutenant, 264

Close, Surgeon J. K., 219

Cochrane, Rev. Wilbur Willis, 285

Cockran, Colonel, 272

Collett, C.B., Brigadier-General H., 192, 195

Collins, Mr. G. G., 108, 120, 121

Colquhoun, Mr. Archibald, 271

Cooke, Captain (of Burman Commission), 235, 236

Cox Brigadier-General, 30

Crimmin, Captain, Indian Medical Service (Surgeon-Lieut.-Col. John Crimmin, V.C., C.I.E.), 195

Cronin, Colonel, senior medical officer, 264

Cross, Lord, 17

Crosthwaite, K.C.S.I., Sir Charles H. T., 3;
former service in British Burma, 19;
offered Chief Commissionership and summoned to Calcutta, 20, 21;
relieves Sir C. Bernard at Rangoon, 24;
arrival at Mandalay, 26;
return to Rangoon, 50;
leaves for Upper Burma, 62;
leaves Ava for Sagaing and meets Sir George White, 65;
examination of irrigation system, 69;
reduction of field force considered, 72;
arrangements for Durbar at Mandalay, 74;
visits Bhamo, 74;
speech at Mandalay Durbar, commendation by Lord Dufferin, 76;
on transferring men, 78, 79;
disarmament—letter to Lord Dufferin, 80-82;
[345] visits Thayetmyo and district, 90;
letter to Viceroy on police posts, 97;
administration of Shan States, 100;
conferred with Lord Dufferin, 100, 102;
visit to Minbu, 108;
visit to Popa, 114;
meeting with General Symons at Magwè, 118;
consultations with men of the Magwè district, 119;
transfer of Mr. G. G. Collins to Magwè, 120;
return to Mandalay, 120;
on sick-leave to Nilgiri Hills, 120;
accompanies H.R.H. Prince Albert Victor of Wales, to Mandalay, 121;
action against dacoits, 123;
Durbar in the Shan States, 124, 125;
scheme for reduction of the military police, 129-130;
correspondence with the Viceroy, 128;
appointment of Colonel Cockran, 272;
appoints Maung Ket's nephew ruler over Kalè, 288;
decision not to absorb Kalè, 292;
establishes posts along the Chin frontier, 296;
proclamation to the Tashons, 312;
account of internal administration, 337-341;
visit to lay school, 340

Crowther, Mr., inspector of police, 264

Cumming, Colonel, 67

Cuppage, Mr., wounded while fighting against Set Kya, 70, 71

Custance, Mr., 83


Dabayen, 88

Dacoits, Mandalay, Ye-u, Mu, 71;
Sagaing, 72, 103;
Government, 112;
measures taken against, 123

Dalhousie, Lord, 1

Daly, C.S.I., C.I.E., Lieut.-Colonel Hugh, agent to the Governor-General in Central India, 100;
assisted Mr. Hildebrand against the Shans (1887), 165, 170-178, 272-276, 278, 285

Daniell, Mr., 278-280

Darrah, Mr., Assistant Commissioner, killed by Set Kya's men, 70

Darwin, Dr., 219, 226

Davies, Major H. R., 134

Davis, Captain, principal medical officer of the Field Force, 58

Deccan, 20

Disarmament (village regulation), 80-89

Dufferin, Lord, minute by, 9, 11;
meeting with Sir Charles Crosthwaite, 24;
on surrender of Limbin Prince, 60;
aids Sir Charles Crosthwaite in obtaining funds for engineering work, 70;
commendation on Sir Charles Crosthwaite's speech at the Durbar, 76;
with regard to the Shan Expedition, 77, 78;
writes on the action at Chinbyit, 89;
policy as to autonomous States, 92;
agreement with Sir Charles Crosthwaite's views as to police posts, 98;
roads through the Chin country, 101;
on the work done in Burma, 102;
left India, 128

Dunsford, Captain, killed, 28

Durbar, Mandalay, 76;
Shan States, 124, 125;
Kengtung, 231

Dyson, Mr., Assistant Commissioner at Magwè, 117, 118


Ein-she-min, or War Prince, the Limbin Prince, 157

Elias, C.I.E., Mr. Ney, Chief of the Commission to survey the Frontier and settle disputed points, 219, 220;
decisions confirmed, 232

Eliott, Lieutenant L. E., 259-263, 264, 265

Expenditure and Revenue, Upper Burma, army, military police force, incoming revenue, 69, 70

Eyre, Captain, 29, 290, 297


Falam, Tashon capital, 310, 312, 320;
headquarters of the Civil Administration, Chin Hills, 324

Faunce, General, 287;
Chin Expedition, 306;
Chin Lushai, 308, 313;
left Burma, 313

Feudatory States of India, 126, 127

Forbes, Lieutenant, 335

Forrest, Major, wounded, 278
[346] Fort Stedman, 124, 126, 147, 151-156, 158, 160, 161, 164, 167, 186

Fort Tregear, 332, 335

Fort White, formerly Tôklaing, 304, 310, 324

Foster, Lieutenant, killed, 318

Fowler, Lieutenant (of the Beleuchis), 185, 188, 189

France, contact on the Siamese frontier to be avoided, 211

French, Indo-China, 130;
dominions in Tonquin China, 212;
secret treaty with the King of Burma, 214;
obtained the Treaty of Chantabun, 232

Frere, Sir Bartle, 99

Fryer, Mr. F. W. (now Sir Frederick Fryer), Commissioner of the Central Division, 12, 29, 55, 104

Fuller, R.A., Captain, 264


Gangaw, 290, 293, 296, 297-328

Gantarawadi, 153, 183

Garfit, Major, 272, 273

Gastrell, Captain, Commandant of the Mandalay battalion, 99

Gatacre, Brigadier-General, 280

Gaudama, Legend of, 38

Gaungu, 300

Gleeson, Mr., 33

Gleig, Major, 290

Golightly, Captain (Colonel R. E. Golightly, D.S.O.), 32

Gordon, Major, arrives at Salin with reinforcements, 28

Gould, Mr., H.M. Representative at Bangkok, 203

Gracey, R.E., Major, chief engineer, Upper Burma, 67-68

Greenaway, Major, 278, 279

Gungaw, 334


Haitsi Lope tribe, 331

Haka, 316, 332-334

Hakas, 288, 309, 332

Hartnoll, Mr. H. S., Deputy Commissioner Minbu, 108, 109

Harvey, Colonel, 191;
arrival at Papun, 192

Hastings, Captain, Commandant of the military police at Myingyan (Major-General Edward Spence Hastings, D.S.O.), 63, 64, 98, 113

Hawker, Lieutenant, 264-266

Hertz, Mr. H. F., 277, 279

Hertz, Mr. W. A., 108

Hext, R.N., Captain John, Director of the Indian Marine (now Rear-Admiral Sir John Hext, K.C.I.E.), 48, 71

Heins (Karenni chiefs of divisions), 173

Hildebrand, Mr., 35;
accepts the surrender of the Limbin Prince, 60;
at Mandalay, to meet Sir Charles Crosthwaite, 74, 76, 77;
visit to Shan States, 100, 124;
made Civil head in the expedition against the Shans, 148-187;
connection with the Karennis, 188-208

Himalaya, Eastern, 133

Hkam Leng, 31, 47, 71;
dacoit leader, 269-281

Hkun Hmon, reinstated at Mawkmai, 184, 188

Hkun Kyi, 184

Hkun Nu, 162;
appointed Sawbwa of Lawksawk, 163

Hkun Sa, 169

Hkun Saing, first Shan chief to submit to the British Government, 137, 138, 140, 141, 160, 170, 172;
concessions made to, 179

Hkun Sang Möng Chen, 185, 186

Hkun Ti, 155

Hlaingdet, 148, 149

Hla U, Sagaing District dacoit leader, 49

Hlawga, 85-87

Hlegyomaw, 263, 266

Hlutlaw (or cabinet), 213

Hmawwaing jungles, 33;
gang surrenders, 60

Hmethaya Prince, 270

Hodgkinson, Mr., of the Special Commission, Lower Burma, 25;
transferred to Tennasserim, 56;
appointed Judicial Commissioner for Upper Burma, 338, 339

Holland, Commander, of the Royal Indian Marine Service, 311
[347] Homalin, 296

Hopong, 151, 152, 154, 169

Hoswata Shendoos, 319

Hpon Kan, 274, 282;
Kachins, 283

Hpunkan, 44

Hsahtung, 167;
Myoza of, 169;
range, 151

Hsawnghsup, Sawbwa of, 33

Hsen, the local headman in Laikha territory, 171

Hsenmawng, 215

Hsenwi, 44, 49, 137-139;
Queen of, 140, 141, 146;
Alelet, 160;
Central, 165, 166;
boundaries fixed, revenue, &c., 176, 177;
Northern, 165, 268

Hsenyawt annexed to Kengtung, 215

Hsipaw, 31, 137-147, 273;
Sawbwa of, 49, 136, 160, 161, 166

Hsumhsai, 137, 141, 142, 160

Hukawng Valley, 234

Hyderabad, 20;
Cavalry, 71;
Infantry, 85, 89


Indaw River, 252

Indawgyi Lake, 251

Indiarubber tax, 40

Indin, 288, 289, 296, 302

Inle Lake, 124, 142

Ilderton, Major, 60

Ithi tribe, 266

Ireland, F.R.G.S., Alleyne, 44

Irrawaddy, 12, 108, 134, 241;
Valley, 30, 133, 311;
patrol steam launches, 47;
Flotilla Company, 235, 236

Irrigation schemes, existing canals taken over by the British, 69


Jackson, R.E., Lieutenant H. M., 157, 180, 219

Jade duties, 40;
mines, farming of, expedition to, 234-267

Jahoota or Ya Hnit, Chief of the Klanklangs, 325, 334, 335

James, R.E., Lieutenant, 334

Jameson, Mr., Inspector-General of Police in Lower Burma, 51, 52

"Jhoom" or "Taungya," primitive cultivation, 325

Jubulpore, 20

Jut, village of, 121


Kabaw Valley, 92, 290, 296, 331

Kachin Hills, 263

Kachins, 75, 130, 131, 138-140, 150, 161, 234-278;
Sana, 263;
Hpon Kan Kachins, 283;
Lweseng, 276;
Ton Hon, 276

Kado on the Salween, timber collected, 207

Kalas, or barbarians, 107

Kala Thapa Sing, Gurkha chief, 277

Kalè, Sawbwa of, 33, 49, 288, 294;
State, 290, 313, 316

Kalemyo, 290, 311, 316, 328

Kalewa, 290, 294, 297, 311, 312

Kamaing, 251, 261

Kambalè, 296, 297, 302

Kan, 296-299, 311, 315, 328

Kang Hung, largest Trans-Salween State, 210, 213

Kanglu, 185

Kangyi, 302

Kanhows, 287, 296, 306, 312, 331

Kani, 33, 88

Kanlè, 84

Kanpetlet, 330, 336

Kansi Hla, Kansi Naung, rulers in the jade-mine hills, 252, 255

Kantha, 296

Karenni, Eastern, 100, 138;
Western, 151;
States, 140, 142, 148, 154;
chiefs, 151, 152;
country, description of, 182

Karennis, 163;
expedition against the, Colonel Sartorius and Mr. Scott, 188-208

Karens, Christian, Baptist Mission to, 51;
as special constables, 80;
scheme to enlist, 131, 132, 167

Karwan, 282

Katha, 8, 31, 93, 238, 257, 269

Kaukon, 150

Kaungi, residence of the Möngpai Sawbwa, 166

Kaw Ferry, 224

Kawlin, 93

Kawpiti, 196

Keary, Major D.S., 334

[348] Kehsi Mansi, 151, 154, 169-173

Kemmedine, 138

Kengcheng, 143

Keng Hkam, 169, 223

Kengtawng, 154, 156, 163, 167, 168;
description of, by Mr. Scott, 223

Kengtung, 136, 137, 139, 143-145, 168, 210, 213;
description of the city of, 226, 227;
Sawbwa, submits, 230-231

Kennedy, Major, 88, 295

Khampat, 296

Khuds, 304

Kidderpore, 49

Kingston, Major, 301

Kin Le Gyi, maid-of-honour to Supayalat, 88

Kin Möngs, headman, 173

Kinwan Mingyi, Minister of State, 76

Klanklangs submission of, 319

Knox, Captain, 104

Kokang, 43

Kôkkozu, 83

Koset, 303

Ko-up, 223

Kubo Valley, 302

Kugyo, 150, 151

Kukis tribe, 331

Kun Aw (Pa-ôk-Chok of Möngyai), 169

Kun Hmon, 218

Kun Kyi, Sawbwa of Möngnai, 144, 145, 158, 167

Kunlon Ferry, 75, 178

Kun Meik, 141

Kun Noi, 218

Kunze, 298

Kyabin Myoôk, 83

Kyadet, 87, 88

Kyannyat, 46

Kyatsakan, 149

Kyaukhnyat, 192, 204

Kyaukpyu, 330

Kyauksè, 8, 13, 49, 65, 69, 99, 338

Kyaw, 121, 295, 301

Kyawgaung, 282

Kwungli, 322

Kyaw Zaw (Lawksawk chief) gang broken up, 232

Kyem Meung, heir-apparent of Kengtung, 228

Kyungyaung, 279


Lahore, 20

Laikha, 151, 154, 156, 169;
Sawbwa of, 171

Lakun, tribe, 266

Lanchein, 278

Lansdowne, Marquis of, made Viceroy, 128

Laos, 217

Lashio, 140, 177, 223

Late tribe, 331

Lataung tribe, 263

Laungshe, 329

Lawksawk, 33, 99, 141-154, 162

Legaing, 110

Legya Queen, one of King Mindon's wives, 142

Lepei tribe, 262, 263, 266

Letha range, 303

Leveson, Mr. H. G. A., of the India Civil Service and Burman Commission, 232

Limbin Confederacy, 34, 143-151, 155

Limbin Prince, 60, 145, 146, 151-158

Lindaung, 83

Lockhart, General Sir William, 18;
work in Eastern Division, 33;
work among dacoits, 61

Loikaw, 190-196

Loilong, 167

Lon Pein (Chinaman farmer of jade-mine taxes), 244-246

Low, G.C.B. Brigadier-General Sir Robert Cunlilfe, 29, 64, 91, 102, 108

Lugalegzi arrested, 121

Lushai country, Chin-, 308-336

Lweseng, 274, 276, 278, 280


Macdonald, Captain, 264, 265

MacDonnell, Mr. A. P. (now Lord MacDonnell, P.C., G.C.S.I.), Home Secretary to the Government of India—acted for Sir Charles Crosthwaite when on sick-leave, 120

Macgregor, Colonel, 301

Mackenzie, K.C.S.I., Sir Alex., Lieut-Governor, Bengal, 340

[349] Macnabb, Lieutenant D. J. C. (now Major Macnabb, Commissioner of the Sagaing Division), 64, 121, 333, 334

Macpherson, Lieut.-General Sir Herbert, transferred to Burma, death of, 18

Magwè, 32, 61, 96, 99, 102;
trouble in district of, 115-127

Maingmawgyi, 136

Mainwaring, Colonel, 335

Makau tribe, 263

Maklang, famous banyan-tree Mai Hung Kan at, 223

Malin, 275

Mandalay, 2, 8, 19, 26, 31, 46, 67, 71, 74, 88, 133, 137-142, 146, 160-164;
and Lashio Railway, 61, 125, 126;
and Shwèbo Canal, 69

Mandat, or temporary hall, 175

Manders, Surgeon, 197

Manglön, 160;
chief's submission to British Government, 320

Manhé, 241

Manipur, 134

Manpun, 271, 273

Mansi, route for traders, 75, 178, 282, 285

Manton, 278

Marip tribe, 266

Maung An Taw Ni, township officer of Legaing, 110

Maung Ba, 88

Maung Gyi, 33

Maung Kala, dacoit leader, death of, 60

Maung Kala, magistrate in British service, 236, 250;
assassinated, 237

Maung Kan, Thi, 109

Maung Ket, Sawbwa of Kalè, 288

Maung Kin, 109

Maung Lat, 33

Maung Nwa, a Kalè official, 305

Maung Ohn, 60

Maung Po Min, the interpreter, 86

Maung Po O, 85

Maung Sa, 141

Maung Se, 141

Maung Swè, story of, 27

Maung Tha Dun, 289

Maung Tha Gyi, 85-89

Maung Tok San, 289

Maung Ya Baw, 109

Mawkmai, trade relations between Moulmein and, 157, 158, 165;
Sawbwa of, claims Möng Pu, 167-169, 217;
restored to Möng Mau and Mehsakun, 221

May, Colonel, 31, led the troops against Set Kya, a pretender, 70

Maymyo (Pinulwin) 31, 164

Mehawnghsawn, 217

Mehsakun, 216, 217, 221

Meiktila, 8, 60, 61

Mekong, River, 133, 136, 143, 210, 232

Menam, River, 133

Mèpai Chaung, 204

Mewettaung Range, 156

Milne, Mrs. Leslie, extract from "Shans at Home," 285

Minbu, 8, 28, 32, 62, 69, 83, 91, 102, 107, 119, 120, 330

Mindôn, King of Upper Burma, reign, character, taxation, &c., 3, 110, 139, 140, 170, 270;
wife of (Legya), 142

Minhla, 7, 8, 26, 62, 90, 91

Minlèdaung tribe, 322

Min O, 106

Minogue, Lieutenant, 99

Mintainbin, 87

Min Yaung, 32, 115

Mobingyis tribe, 331

Mobye, 192

Mocatta, Lieutenant, 335

Mogaung, 30, 77, 101;
Expedition to, 234-286

Mogok, capital of Ruby Mines, 31, 45-47, 271

Mohlaing, 31, 47

Mohnyin, 238, 257

Molè River (tributary of Irrawaddy), 44, 240, 273

Molo, 280

Môn, Valley of, 83, 108

Möng Hang, 168, 215

Möng Hsat, 168, 169

Möng Hsu, 172

Möng Hta, 168, 215

Möngkung, 151, 154;
Myozas of, 169-172

Möng Kyawt, 168, 215

Möng Leng, 268

Mönglon, 141, 142

Möng Löng, 139

[350] Möngmau, 216, 217

Möngmit, Shan States, 31, 47, 268-286

Möngnai, town of, 137, 144, 146, 151, 152;
Sawbwa, 60, 136, 143, 145, 152-169, 215;
decorated, 124

Möngnawng Sawbwa, 145;
Myoza, 169;
town, 161;
State, 172

Möngpai Sawbwa accepts British suzerainty, 151, 152, 165, 166

Möngpan, 165-169, 215

Möngpawn, 153-158;
Sawbwa, 145, 169

Möngping, 151

Möngpu, appropriated by Kengtung, 215

Möngsang, 172

Möngsit (son-in-law of Möngpawn), 155;
Myoza, 169

Möng Tang, 215

Möngtung, 142, 160, 168, 169

Möngyai, 140, 160-167, 172

Monywa, 68, 88

Moring, Ltd., Alexander, 43

Morison, C.E.I., Mr. Wm. Thomson, of the Indian Civil Service, Bombay Presidency, 85;
joined Lieutenant Plumer, 86-87

Moulmein, 133, 151, 157, 158, 211

Mozo, 298

Mu River, 71;
Valley line, 338

Mueng Fai, Siamese district of, 216

Mwebingyi, Chief of, 320

Mwelpi, 331

Myat Hmon, 33, 60

Myauk-Kodaung, 280

Myélat (central division, Shan States), 142, 149-150;
submission of, 151, 153, 166

Myinmu, 64

Myingun Prince, 31, 84, 214

Myingyan, 8, 31, 63, 83, 92, 99, 102, 110, 113, 116, 301

Myinzaing Prince, 140, 141, 147

Myitkyina Railway, 246

Myitson, 269

Myittha River, 293, 311

Myoôk, township officers and members of subordinate Civil Service, 162

Myotha, 237

Myothit, 32, 117

Myo-thugyi Town Mayor of Pakokku, 63;
mother of, visited by Sir Charles Crosthwaite, 63

Myowun, City Governor of Mandalay, 76


Naga Cachar, 287

Nagpur, 19

Nam Pilu River, 152

Nam Hkok Myoza, 169

Namhsan, 177, 178

Namkham, route for traders, 75, 285

Nam Nyim River, 157

Nam Pang River, 223

Nam Teng Valley, 223

Namthein River (affluent of Uyu), 253

Nang Mya, niece of Mawkmai chief, Né Noi, 217

Nang U, marriages, 144

Nankathe River, 321;
tribe, Trans-, 322

Nanpapa, 261, 266

Nanti, 241

Napawng River, 251

Natmauk, 116

Natogyi, 83

Naungmawn (brother of Möngpawn), 155

Naw Hpa, Sawbwa of Hsenwi, 139, 140, 146;
submits to British Government, 147, 160, 166, 169, 173

Naw Möng, son of Naw Hpa, 139, 140, 146;
submits to British Government, 147, 160, 166, 169, 173, 176-179

Nawng Wawn Myoza, 169

Naylor, C.S.I., C.I.E., Mr. Henry Todd, of the Indian Civil Service, 55;
as Financial Commissioner of Burma, 55;
sent to take charge of Magwè District, 120, 121

Negrais, Cape, 287

Neinsin, 284

Né Noi, the Kolan or nine-fathom Sawbwa, 217

Né Nwe, 183

Nga Aw, 166

Nga Kaing, 195

Nga Kè, one of Ya Nyun's men, 111, 112

Nga Kin, 109

Nga Kway, 83

[351] Ngapè, 27, 28

Nga Pyo, 89

Ngathaingyaung, 40

Ngwite tribe, 331

Nilgiri Hills, 120

Ningyan, afterwards called Pyinmana, 8

Nugent, Lieutenant commanding at Möngmit, killed, 271

Nurtama, 83

Nyaungbintha, 266

Nyaungywe or Yawnghwè, 142

Nwi-tes tribe, 331


O'Donnell, Lieutenant (Colonel Hugh O'Donnell, D.S.O.), Bhamo and Mogaung affairs, 238, 240, 249, 260, 261;
report by, 265-267, 277

Ogle, Mr. (India Survey Department), 264

Ôktama, story of, 27-29, 32;
methods of government, defence, &c., 107-109;
capture of, 110

Opium regulations, 40, 41;
Acts, 42, 43;
Buddha's teaching against, 44


Padein, 28

Pagan, 7, 8, 31, 63, 68, 83, 84, 91, 102;
Min, 3;
Prince, 39

Pagyi, 33, 84, 85, 88

Pakangyi, 33

Pakan Prince, 39

Pakokku, 63, 92, 102, 290, 293-301, 311, 315, 330

Palaungs (Northern Shan tribe), 138, 268, 276

Palmer, R.E., Lieutenant, 302

Panga Sawbwa, 263

Panglon, 179

Panlaung, valley of the, 31

Panthays, 75, 150;
methods of travelling, 222, 225

Pa-ôk-chok, 140, 160, 169, 173, 174

Papun, 191, 192

Pathans, 235

Pauk, 83, 290, 295

Paw Kwe, 47

Payagon, 152

Pazaung, 192

Pegu, annexation of, 1;
Yomas, 61, 116;
division, 90

Peile, Captain S. C. F. (later Lieut.-Colonel), Executive Commissariat officer, 58;
made director of supply to outposts of military police, 59;
"History of Burma Military Police," 131

Pè Möng Mountains, 225

Phayas, local rulers, 168

Phayre, Colonel Sir Arthur P., 27, 134;
Mr. Robert, 26, 27;
death of, 28

Philippine Commission, 44

Phillips, Lieutenant, 301

Pin township, 117

Pink, Captain Francis J. (Colonel F. J. Pink, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.), 219

Plumer, Lieutenant, accompanied Mr. W. T. Morison against Maung Tha Gyi, 85, 86

Pobye, Karenni chief, 151, 152, 166

Po Hkine, 122

Poh Myah, 251

Poi tribes, 322

Police force, gradual creation of efficient, 128-132;
military, 54, 68;
posts and patrols, military replaced by police, 95-99;
work of Indian, 97

Pon Chaung, 196

Pondaung Range, 84, 85, 294

Pondicherry, 31

Pongyis, 37-40, 62, 150;
monks and teachers, 339, 340

Po O, 85

Popa Mountain district, 31, 91; country, 98, 110

Porter, Mr., Deputy Commissioner, Pyinmana, 121

Po Saung, 83

Po Saw, 243-274

Prendergast, General Sir Harry, 2, 8, 26

Prome, 26, 121

Public Works Service grants, 67, 68

Pu Chang Se banished (first husband of Nang Mya), 217

Pulley, Captain, 152

Punjab, 94;
Northern, 311

Punjabis, 84, 154

Pwehla, 148, 150

[352] Pyindeik Pass, 149

Pyinmana, 13, 61, 116, 120

Pyinulwin, 31, 70

Pyinyaung, 149


Quesne, Captain Le (Army Medical Corps), awarded Victoria Cross, 305


Raikes, Captain (afterwards Major), Deputy Commissioner, Chindwin, 85;
system to overthrow dacoits, 105, 106;
meeting with Tashon chiefs, 289;
Chin-Lushai campaign, 311, 312;
illness of, 328

Railways, Tengyneh, 75;
Toungoo-Mandalay, Mandalay-Lashio, 124;
Mu Valley line, &c., 338

Rainey, Lieutenant R. M. (now Colonel Rainey-Robinson), commandant of the Levy (Chin Frontier Camp), 328, 336

Rajputs, 43

Rangoon, 2, 7, 50, 51, 54, 59, 61, 65, 138, 151, 157, 166, 270

Reduction of Field Force, 70-73

Revenue, 337

Richards, Lieutenant, 264

Richards, Mr., assisted Sir Charles Bernard, Superintending Engineer of Public Works Department, 66

Rimmer, Mr., Commander in the Irrawaddy Flotilla Service, 244, 245

Ripon, Lord, 19

Roads and communications in Burma, 66-68, 100, 338

Roberts, Sir Frederick, sanctions reinforcements, 17, 18;
search for dacoits, 28

Ross, Mr. D., 290, 301, 314, 328, 332, 334

Ruby Mines, 8, 31, 44;
concession to, 46;
military police at, 58;
British occupation of, 268;
operations in, 309

Rumai, 43

Rundall, Captain F. M., 330-332


Sadaw, 40

Safdar Ali, a Mussulman (native of India), interpreter in Bhamo and Mogaung, 245

Saga, a dacoit leader, 121, 122, 191, 295

Sagadaung, 46

Sagaing, 8, 64, 88, 96, 99, 103, 118, 119

Sagu, 108

Sagyilains, 287, 292-331

Sagyun, 83

Sakangyi, 197

Salin, 28, 64, 83, 108

Salween, hill tracts, 148;
river, 133, 139, 143, 158, 169, 209-233;
Trans-, 136, 139, 158, 163, 170, 209-233;
Cis-, 139, 169, 180, 209-233

Samôn, Valley of, 31

Sana, 266

Sang Aw, 140, 173

Sang Hai (usurper Hsenwi), 139

San Ton Hon, 49, 77, 139-147, 160, 161, 166, 169, 172-176, 178

Sartorius, C.B., Colonel George Conrad, of the Beleuchi Regiment, 184, 185, 188

Sassum tribe, 266

Sawadi, 282

Sawbwas, superior chiefs, Shan States, office of, sons of, 134-136, 161

Sawlapaw, chief of Eastern Karenni, 138, 153, 154, 166, 167, 183-207

Sawlapawgyi, 153

Sawlawi, the Kya Maung, or heir-apparent of Sawlapaw, 198;
appointed chief of Karenni, order of his appointment, 202

Sawlôn (capital of Eastern Karenni), 191;
occupation of, 192;
description of, 197

Saw Möng, Sawbwa of Yawnghwè, 142, 143, 281

Saw Ôn, Sawbwa of Yawnghwè, 143, 146, 150, 166, 179, 182

Saw Waing, ex-Sawbwa of Lawksawk, 154, 214

Saw Yan Naing, 49, 146, 270-281

Scott, Mr. J. G. (Sir J. George Scott, K.C.I.E.), 43;
expedition against the Shans, 148-187;
appointed to assist Mr. A. H. Hildebrand, 209, 216, 219, 220;
expedition to Trans-Salween States, 224-233

[353] Segrave, Mr., Superintendent of Police, 274

Set kya, a pretender, attacked by Colonel May, 70, 99;
captured by the Lawksawk chief, 232

Shan Hills, 31, 99;
plateau or thonze, 92, 141, 148;
race, or Tai branch, 133, 144

Shan States, difficulties in dealing with, 21, 34;
durbar, 76, 77, 124-127;
expedition against, 133-187;
at peace and policy, 159-164

Shans, Chinese, 138;
effort to win confidence of, 148, 152;
Sawbwas, 153;
at home, quoted, 285

Shaw, Mr., accompanied Major Greenaway, 279

Shawy, Yoe (nom de plume of Mr. J. G. Scott), 148

Sherriff, Mr., Representative of Rangoon Chamber of Commerce, 285

Shitywagyaung, 294

Shonshé, 301

Shwèbo, 8, 31, 88

Shwè Gya, 248-254, 264

Shwègyin, 54

Shwègyobyu, Prince of Lower Chindwin, 84, 85, 290, 292, 312

Shwèkinyo Prince, 115

Shwèli, Lower, 269

Shwè Yan (guerilla leader), invades Ava and Kyauksè districts, 65, 270;
death of, 99

Siam, 138

Siamese, 136-138;
claim to Shan country, 167-169;
claim to Karenni, 202-208;
invasion of Kengtung, 214-216;
methods of marking villagers, 221

Sibsong Panna (twelve provinces), 233

Sidoktaya, 32

Sihaung, 293, 297

Sikaw, 274

Simla, embassy to, 19;
Sir George White's despatch from, 98

Simpson, Sir Benjamin, K.C.I.E., surgeon-general, 91

Sinbo, 238, 241, 266

Sinbyugyun, 49, 83

Singu, 149, 150

Sinkan, 270, 274, 275, 282

Sipein, 280

Sittang River, 12;
Valley, 30, 32

Si-u, 274, 280

Siyins, 287, 292, 293, 312, 320, 322;
submission of the, 324, 331

Skene, Colonel, 319, 320

Sladen, Colonel (Sir E. B. Sladen), 7, 8

Smeaton, Mr. (the late Donald Mackenzie Smeaton, C.S.I., M.P.), made Chief Secretary, 56;
Commissioner of Central Division, account of cruelty of dacoits in Pagyi country, 121, 122

Sokte tribe, 287, 322, 331

Sonpek, Tashon chief, 289, 294

"Soul of a People" quoted, 24

Stanton, D.S.O., Lieutenant, of the Intelligence Department, 180

Stedman, Colonel E. (now Sir Edward Stedman, G.C.B., K.C.I.E.), 35, 36, 50;
appointed Inspector-General of Police in Upper Burma, constitution and training of military police, supplies, &c., 56-59, 72;
leader of expedition to open trade routes through Shan States, 149-152;
Fort (named after Colonel Stedman), 124, 126, 147, 151-187

Stewart, Lieutenant John, 319

Su Gaung, 83

Sumput, 279

Supayalat, Queen, 6, 88

Sylet Hills, 287

Symes, Mr. E. (the late Sir E. Symes), 55, 114

Symons, Colonel W. Penn, expedition against Maung Tha Gyi, 85-89;
sent to settle disturbances in Sagaing, 104;
plan to deport those aiding dacoits, 105;
succeeds the command in Nyingyan and Magwè, 118-120;
Chin-Lushai Campaign report, 329;
Thetta report, 333;
Klanglangs report, 334, 335

Swetenham, Major, 154, 164, 181

Szechuen, 43, 156


Tabayin, 40

Tabet, 162

Taeping River, tributary of the Irrawaddy, 240

[354] Tai, Siamese branch of Indo-Chinese, 133, 134

Taiktaga San driven out of Mehawnghsawn, 217

Taingda, 32;
Mingyi, 111

Tamhpak, 162

Ta Möngs (Shan headmen), 173

Tao, 319, 335

Tapaw, 245

Ta Sanglè, ferry on the Salween, 219

Tashons (nicknamed Baungshès by the Burmans), submission of, 288, 289, 293, 310, 312, 322

Taungbaw, 259, 260

Taungdwingyi, 8, 32, 64, 102, 115-119

Taunggyo, 327

Taunglet, southern portion of Hsenwi, 140

Taungtek, 317

Tahwepon, ferry on the Salween, 218

Tawngpeng, 165, 177-179, 268

Tawphaya, Chief Minister of Kengtung, 228

Tawyan tribe, 322

Temple, Sir Richard, 126

Tengyueh, 75

Thabeikkyin, 47

Thade's gang, 83

Thama Sawbwa, 262, 263

Tharrawaddy, 55, 90, 95, 148

Thathanabaing, Pongyi, 37, 39

Thayetmyo, 54, 55, 62, 82, 83, 90, 116, 117

Thebaw, King, rule, character, and submission, 2, 6, 7, 103, 140-145, 214

Theinni (Hsenwi), 77, 174

Thetta, 309, 333, 334

Thibet, 133

Thonze, or Hsumhsai, 141

Thugyis (village headmen), 111, 122

Tohon Range, 274

Tokgyi, 115

Tôklaing, 304

Tongking, 134

Tonnochy, Captain, 124

Touche, Mr. J. D. La (Sir James La Touche), 12;
Commissioner of Southern Division, 29

Toungoo, 29, 30, 61;
and Mandalay Railway, 126, 152

Tregear, Brigadier-General (Major-General Sir Vincent William Tregear, K.C.B.), 319, 323

Triscott, R.A., C.B., D.S.O., Colonel Charles Prideaux, Commander of the force in the Expedition to the Jade Mines, 240-255

Tuck, Mr. H. N., 334

Tucker, Mr. Henry St. George, Commissioner of Eastern Division, 12, 29;
meets Sir Charles Crosthwaite, 60, 61

Tungzang, 332

Twet, Ga Lu (formerly a monk, a native of Kentawng), 144;
leader against the Limbin Confederacy, 145, 154, 156, 163, 168;
driven out of Kentawng, surrender and death, 184-187

Twingé, 271

Twomey, Mr., 238, 257, 259


U Po (Cadet of Hsenwi House), 139

Uyu River, 253


Victoria, Queen-Empress, 125, 136-138, 146, 155, 158, 180, 190

Victoria, Mount, 330, 336

Village regulations, 81


Wa States, 43

Wales, their R.H. the Prince and Princess of, 163;
H.R.H. Prince Albert Victor of, 121

Wallace, Lieutenant, 155, 157

Wanyin Myoza, 169

Waranaung, 266

Warry, Mr., 40, 240-244, 283

Washa, 284

Welaung, 110, 111, 113

Welôn, 83

Wetherell, Mr., killed, 333

Whenohs tribe, 322

White, Major-General Sir George, describes military difficulties, 14;
asks for reinforcements, 16;
takes command, 18;
Upper Burma subjugated, 18;
consultation with Sir C. Crosthwaite, 29;
[355] question of helping Hsipaw, 50;
meets Sir C. Crosthwaite, 65;
on communications, 66;
as administrator, 70;
expedition against dacoits in Sagaing district, 71, 72;
expedition into Shan States, 76, 77;
preparations against Maung Tha Gyi, 85;
trouble expected with the Wuntho Sawbwa, 92-94;
despatch on casualties in the army, 98;
equips the force for Mogaung expedition, 239;
consultation with Sir C. Crosthwaite as to protection against Chins, 296;
operations against Chins, 300-307

White, Mr. Herbert Thirkell (now Sir H. T. White, K.C.S.I., late Lieut.-Governor of Burma), 46;
sent with Colonel Stedman to open roads through Hsumhsai, 141, 142;
deputation to Hsumhsai, 146

Willcocks, Captain (now Lieut.-General Sir James Willcocks, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O.) intelligence officer, 329

Williams, R.A., Lieutenant, Staff Officer to Captain Triscott, R.A., 240

Wilson, R.N., Captain, Port Officer at Rangoon, 311

Wolseley, C.B., Brigadier-General George (afterwards General Sir George Wolseley, C.B.), 283-286

Wun, Governor of Kani, murdered, 33

Wundwin, 60, 154

Wunkadaw, ruler of Pakokku, and her son, the Myo-thugyi, 63, 92

Wuntho Sawbwo (Shan chief), 30, 90-94, 281


Yabon, 279

Ya Hnit (chief of the Klanklangs), 334, 335

Yahows, 322

Yamèthin, 8, 61, 120

Yangtze, Upper, 134

Ya Nyun, dacoit leader, 98, 110;
account of his doings, 111-113;
surrenders, 114

Yan Sin, dacoit leader, 83

Yaw country, 32, 63, 290, 291, 295;
river and valley, 292, 295

Yawdwin, 329, 330, 336

Yawlu, 319

Yaw Mingyi, 111

Yawnghwè or Burmese Nyaungywe, 137, 139, 142, 146-153;
Sawbwa decorated, 124;
assisted Colonel Symons, 194

Yénangyaung, 27, 83, 84, 117, 118

Yendus, 327, 329, 336

Yen Shwèbo, 105

Ye-u, 8, 31

Yokwa tribe, 309, 317, 318, 332-334

Yoma, Arakan-, 32;
gangs, 117
Pegu-, 32, 61, 116

Yomas, 116, 120, 121

Yunnan, 42, 75, 77, 133, 134, 143, 156

Ywama, 320, 321;
Klanklang Ywama, 334;
Tashon, 320, 321

Ywathit, 219


Zédi, 260

Zeittaung, 121

Zimme (Chiengmai), 167


The Gresham Press,





Transcriber's Note

Obvious errors of punctuation and diacritics were corrected

Click on the maps to display a high-resolution image.

Hyphen removed: Hnaw[-]waing (index entry), water[-]way (p. 244).

p. 83: "Yéuangyaung" changed to "Yénangyaung".

p. 100: "beginnng" changed to "beginning" (beginning to demand attention).

pp. 117 (twice), 264: "Assistant Comissioner" changed to "Assistant Commissioner".

p. 122: "measurer" changed to "measures" (stern measures of repression).

p. 123: "pacticable" changed to "practicable" (so far as was practicable).

p. 133: "insigificant" changed to "insignificant" (with some insignificant exceptions).

p. 136: "Nothern" changed to "Northern" (Northern Shan States).

p. 172: "Sang Ton Hon" changed to "San Ton Hon".

p. 177: "arrangments" changed to "arrangements" (made arrangements for its progress).

p. 200: "occount" changed to "account" (on account of Sunday).

p. 220: "faily" changed to "fairly" (each of these posts were fairly large).

p. 239: "equiqment" changed to "equipment" (Much care was given to the composition and equipment).

p. 252: "peacable" changed to "peaceable" (our peaceable intentions).

p. 276: "enlightend" changed to "enlightened" (the example of more enlightened princes).

pp. 303 (twice), 306: "Sagyilaings" changed to "Sagyilains".

p. 315 (fn): "rifle" changed to "rifles".

p. 322, index entry: "Mintèdaung" changed to "Minlèdaung".

p. 350, index entry for Nang Mya: "cheif" changed to "chief".