The operations, which were directed by Captain Chads, the senior naval officer at Rangoon, were greatly helped by the presence of the steamship Diana, one of the first vessels propelled by steam, which had been seen in Eastern waters. This strange monster, which could move against wind and tide, inspired the Burmese with the greatest consternation. On the approach of the vessel, the war boats were abandoned by their crews, who threw themselves into the river in an agony of terror.
The decisive defeat of Bandula greatly disheartened the Burmese, and with the retirement of the native forces and the gradual settlement of the country about Rangoon it seemed that peace was within sight. But once more appearances belied the situation, for, as was soon made clear, there was still plenty of fight in the enemy.
Realising that the time had come for a more vigorous initiative, the British commander made preparations for an advance into the interior. He divided his force into two columnsaone, about two thousand strong, proceeding by land under his own command ; and the other, numbering about one thousand European infantry, with a powerful train of artillery, going by water under the command of Brigadier-General Cotton. The plan of campaign was that the land column should march to a point up the Lain River, and there form a junction with Brigadier-Greneral Cottonas force as near Donabew, the Burmese headquarters, as possible. The land column marched to Lain, fifty miles away, without meeting with any opposition ; but their pro-
gress, owing to the difficult marching, was slow, and they had been anticipated at the rendezvous by the water column. This force had had several fights on the way up the Irrawaddy, and had come very well out of them. The circumstance encouraged General Cotton to believe that he might tackle Bandula single-handed, so in a rash moment he launched his force against the Burmese stronghold at Donabew. The position was a particularly strong one, and it was defended by a picked force of fifteen thousand men. In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that the British force met with a serious rebuff. They carried the first stockade without difficulty, but at the second line they encountered such a stubborn resistance that General Cotton deemed it advisable to draw off his troops and re-embark them pending the arrival of reinforcements. On hearing
of the serious state of affairs at Donabew, Sir Archibald Campbell, who had pushed on several daysa march towards Prome in the belief that the headquarters of the enemy was in that town, retraced his steps, and, crossing the Irrawaddy, appeared before Donabew on March 25. Having joined hands with General Cotton he immediately proceeded to reduce the enemyas stronghold. The position, he found, was one of exceptional strength. The main stockade was upwards of a mile in length, composed of solid oak beams, from fifteen to seventeen feet high and from five hundred to eight hundred yards broad. Behind the wooden impediment were the brick ramparts of the fort surmounted by a large deep ditch filled
with spikes, nails, and holes, and the ditch itself was enclosed by several rows of strong railings together with an abattis of great breadth. Altogether, the Burmese, with their limited resources, could hardly have provided the British commander with a harder nut to crack. He did not under-rate the task before him, and proceeded with caution with the execution of his plans. On April 1 a continued fire of rockets was kept up on the British part without eliciting any reply from the stockade. Speculation as to the cause of this singular inactivity on the part of so enterprising an enemy was cut short the next morning by the discovery of the fact that the fort was evacuated. Inquiry from a few stragglers who were found in the vicinity elicited the surprising news that on the preceding day, while going the rounds, Bandula had been killed by a discharge from a rocket, and that his death carried such terror into the hearts of the garrison that they absolutely declined to fight any longer. Acting up to their intentions, during the night they quitted their posts and fled to the jungle. The British troops entered the fort absolutely without resistance, and found in it not only a great quantity of arms and ammunition but a sufficient supply of grain for many monthas consumption.
The occupation of Donabew was the turning point of the war. The disheartenment caused amongst the garrison of the fort by the death of Bandula found a reflection in the hearts of the King and his courtiers and made them see for the first time that they could not hope to overcome these troublesome foreigners who had lodged themselves in their country. The end of the campaign, however, was not yet. Ascending the river, the British expedition advanced to Prome, the possession of which was essential. On the way letters arrived from the Burmese authority intimating that the Government was willing to conclude a peace. Rightly surmising that this was mere subterfuge to gain time, the British commander pushed on and arrived outside Prome on April 25. The town had been strongly fortified, but the Kingas army fled on the approach of the British after setting fire to the town. Sir Archibald Campbellas troops took immediate steps to repair the damage done, and helped the unfortunate inhabitants who had flocked into the town in the wake of the army to rebuild their houses. Soon, under the tactful government of the British, Prome arose from its ashes a larger and finer city than it had ever been before. When the inhabitants of the surrounding districts found that good prices were paid for everything, supplies of
PROME, FROM THE SOUTHERN HEIGHTS.
(From aViews and Sketches in Burma.a)(From a Views and Sketches in Burma.a )