Anglo-Burmese Wars

Anglo-Burmese Wars
(1824–1826, 1852, 1885)
   Three short campaigns to extend British control over Burma as part of the larger British imperial regime in India. The first was launched in response to disputes along the border between Manipur and south-central Assam. In May 1824, an Anglo- Indian army of 11, 500 landed in Upper Burma and captured Rangoon. Following a series of lesser engagements, the Burmese gained a truce in December 1825 that was promptly broken by the British and the offensive resumed until Burmese resistance collapsed in January 1826. In the Treaty of Yandaboo, the Burmese ceded Arakan, Assam, Manipur, and the coast of Tenasserim to Britain.
   The second began with British naval action against Martaban, ostensibly to punish the Burmese for levying a fine on two British ships, followed by a British declaration of war on April 1, 1852, and the capture of Bassein, Pegu, and Rangoon. Lord Dalhousie, governor general of India, then annexed Pegu Province of Lower Burma to India. This second Burmese defeat was accompanied by the ouster of the Burmes King Pagan Min and his replacement with Mindon Min, who acknowledged British authority in Pegu.
   The third conflict was influenced by British anxiety over possible French penetration of Upper Burma and by King Thibaw Min’s attempt to assert a measure of independence by favoring a French teak company over its British rival and agreeing to have a French contractor build a railway from Mandalay to India. It was more directly provoked when Thibaw fined the Bombay-Burmah Trading Company for illegally exporting teak from Upper Burma. The East India Company issued an ultimatum on October 22, 1885. When it was rejected a British expedition of 10,000 with 3,000 native auxiliaries began an offensive up the Irrawaddy River and ended the war in just 20 days. In 1886, Upper and Lower were merged into one Indian province. Nonetheless, the British dealt with sporadic guerrilla resistance in Burma for the remainder of the century.
   See also <>.
    Aung, Maung Htin. A History of Burma. New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.
    Farwell, Byron. Queen Victorias Little Wars. New York: W. W. Norton, 1972;
    Thant Myint-U, The Making of Modern Burma. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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