Narrative of the Operations of a Detachment in an Expedition to Candy, in the Island of Ceylon, in the Year 1804 (Illustrated)

Narrative of the Operations of a Detachment in an Expedition to Candy, in the Island of Ceylon, in the Year 1804 (Illustrated)

by Arthur Johnston

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As it appears generally incumbent on those who offer information to the public, to explain the sources from whence they have derived their knowledge, it may not be improper to state the circumstances under which my experience on Ceylon was acquired.

In 1800 I commanded a corps of pioneers, which opened a road for General Macdowal's embassy to Candy. After that period, till the commencement of the Candian war, I was chiefly entrusted with the command of remote districts, uniting in my own person the civil and military authorities. On the breaking out of that war, in 1803, I was appointed to command a free corps, composed principally of Malays, and was generally employed in escorting supplies to and from the different depôts; a service which led to frequent skirmishes with the enemy.

When the army returned to Columbo and Trincomalé, after having seated Boodoo Sawmy (the prince whose cause the English espoused) on the throne of Candy, I was appointed first commissioner for regulating the affairs of the provinces ceded by that prince to the British Government. Illness, however, obliging me to repair to the sea-coast for the benefit of a change of air, I thus fortunately escaped the massacre which shortly after took place in the capital.

On the re-establishment of my health, I was appointed to command the district of Batticolo, which, in common with most of our other provinces, was invaded by the enemy, who was not driven out till after repeated skirmishes.

I continued at Batticolo till September 1804, when I received the instructions, in my conception of which originated the expedition to Candy, and which General Wemyss has obligingly permitted me to publish.

On my return to Columbo, I was nominated to the command of Hambingtotte, into which the enemy had penetrated, under the Desave[1] of Ouva, and from whence I was so fortunate as to expel them, with little loss on our side.

Thus, during a residence of nearly twelve years in Ceylon, the greater part of that time employed either in active military scenes, or in the discharge of civil duties, I had frequent opportunities of observing the nature of the country, and making myself acquainted with the character and customs of its inhabitants, and their mode of warfare.

Having been led, since my return to Europe, to consider the importance of the Island of Ceylon as a colony, which, I trust, will never again revert to the enemies of Britain, I have been induced to commit to the press what occurred to my observation during my continuance there, in the hope of promoting the benefit of His Majesty's service; by giving to officers, who may hereafter be employed in the interior of the island, that information which they may not have had the means of obtaining, in regard to a species of warfare peculiar to it, and which has not, to my knowledge, been noticed in any former work.

In publishing this Narrative I aspire to no literary fame, having joined the army at the age of fifteen—too young to have made any considerable proficiency in letters—and at an age when men are even apt to lose what they may have already acquired.

I trust these circumstances will bespeak the indulgence of the candid reader, for occasional inaccuracies of style and manner, from which I cannot presume to suppose this little work exempt.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940148967910
Publisher: Lost Leaf Publications
Publication date: 12/28/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 368 KB

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