(Referred to in Chapter LXVI, Footnote 3.)
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GUIDANCE OF GENERAL AND OTHER OFFICERS COMMANDING COLUMNS IN BURMA.
MANDALAY, 20th. November, 1886.
The following general instructions for the guidance of Brigadier-Generals and Officers in command of columns are published by order of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief in India:
1st.--Columns sent out for the pacification of a district, or in pursuit of a particular gang of dacoits, must be amply provided and able to keep the field for ten days at least. To enable this to be done without employing an undue number of transport animals, it is necessary that every endeavour be made to obtain grain for Cavalry horses and Transport ponies from the villages passed through; careful inquiry must be made as to where supplies can be obtained locally, and the line of advance determined accordingly. Arrangements must be made for replenishing the supply when necessary from depots which must be formed at convenient centres when the nature of the operations may necessitate it. These depots should be pushed forward from time to time as the troops advance. The work of a column obliged to return to its base of supply before it has had an opportunity of completing the object of the expedition must be more harmful than beneficial, as its failure emboldens the enemy and weakens the confidence of the people in our power to protect them and to reach the offenders.
2nd.--Where two or more columns are acting in concert, the details of time and place of movement should be settled beforehand with the greatest nicety, and the commanding officers of all such columns should be provided with the same maps, or tracings from them, so that subsequent changes of plan, rendered necessary by later information, may be understood and conformed to by all. Officers commanding columns must do their utmost to get into, and keep up, communication with one another. This can be effected by:
Visual signalling, Spies and scouts, Patrolling.
3rd.--Movements to be executed in concert with the troops in other brigades or commands, or likely to tell directly or indirectly on the districts commanded by other officers, will be fully communicated to those officers, both beforehand and when in progress.
4th.--Brigadier-Generals are empowered to give very liberal remuneration for the effective service of guides and for information involving danger to those who give it. They may delegate this power to selected officers in detached commands, but a close watch must be kept on expenditure under this head. Opportunities should be afforded to timid informers who are afraid to compromise themselves by entering camp to interview officers at some distance out and in secrecy.
5th.--Cavalry horses and Mounted Infantry ponies must be saved as much as is compatible with occasional forced and rapid marches. On ordinary occasions the riders should dismount, from time to time, and march alongside of their horses or ponies.
6th.--The special attention of all officers is called to the careful treatment of pack-animals, and officers in command of columns and parties will be held strictly responsible that the animals are properly loaded for the march, saved as much as possible during it, and carefully attended to and fed after it. Officers in command will ascertain by daily personal supervision and inspection that these orders are carried out.
7th.--It must be remembered that the chief object of traversing the country with columns is to cultivate friendly relations with the inhabitants, and at the same time to put before them evidences of our power, thus gaining their good-will and their confidence. It is therefore the bounden duty of commanding officers to ascertain that the troops under their command are not permitted to injure the property of the people or to wound their susceptibilities.
8th.--The most injurious accounts of our intentions have been circulated amongst, and believed by, the people, and too much pains cannot be taken to eradicate this impression, and to assure the people both by act and word of our good-will towards the law-abiding. Chief men of districts should he treated with consideration and distinction. The success of the present operations will much depend on the tact with which the inhabitants are treated.
9th.--When there is an enemy in arms against British rule, all arrangements must be made not only to drive him from his position, but also to surround the position so as to inflict the heaviest loss possible. Resistance overcome without inflicting punishment on the enemy only emboldens him to repeat the game, and thus, by protracting operations, costs more lives than a severe lesson promptly administered, even though that lesson may cause some casualties on our side. Arrangements should be made to surround villages and jungle retreats with Cavalry, and afterwards to hunt them closely with Infantry. In the pursuit the broadest margin possible will be drawn between leaders of rebellion and the professional dacoit on the one part, and the villagers who have been forced into combinations against us. Bohs and leaders will generally be found heading the column of fugitives, and a portion of the Cavalry should be directed to pursue them without wasting time over the rank and file of the enemy.
10th.--Unless otherwise ordered, columns of occupation should move in short marches, halting at the principal towns and villages. This will give civil officers opportunities for becoming thoroughly acquainted with their districts, and give military officers time to reconnoitre and sketch the country.
11th.--Where troops are likely to be quartered for some time, bamboo platforms should be erected to keep the men off the ground. Tents, if afterwards provided, can be pitched on the platforms.
12th.--The greatest latitude will be allowed to Brigadier-Generals and officers in local command in ordering and carrying out movements for the pacification of their districts. They will, however, report as fully as possible all movements intended and in progress, through the regular channel, for the information of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief.
13th.--Civil officers will be detailed under the orders of the Chief Commissioner to accompany columns. As they are in a position to reward loyalty and good service, they will be able to obtain more reliable guides and intelligence than the military officers can hope to get. The Chief Commissioner has authorized selected Burmans, men of position who may look for official appointments, being employed as scouts by the civil officers of districts and being attached to columns. These scouts should wear some distinguishing and conspicuous mark or badge to prevent them being fired on by the troops. They should not be called upon to take the front when approaching an unbroken enemy, or where ambuscades may be expected, but their services will be most valuable in gaining information, and later in hunting down the individuals of a broken-up gang.
14th.--Absolute secrecy must be maintained regarding movements against the enemy and every device resorted to to mislead him.
15th.--When civil officers accompany columns, all prisoners will be handed over to them for disposal. When no civil officer is present, the officer commanding the column will, ex officio, have magisterial powers to inflict punishment up to two years' imprisonment, or 30 lashes. Offenders deserving heavier punishment must be reserved for disposal by the civil officers.
16th.--Officers commanding columns will be held responsible that the troops are not kept in unhealthy districts, and that, when a locality has proved itself unhealthy, the troops are removed at the earliest possible opportunity. Military officers are responsible for the location of the troops. The requisitions of civil officers will be complied with, whenever practicable, but military officers are to judge in all matters involving the military or sanitary suitability of a position.
17th.--In the class of warfare in which we are now engaged, where night surprises and ambuscades are the only formidable tactics of the enemy, the greatest care must be taken to ensure the safety of the camp at night. To meet ambuscades, which usually take the form of a volley followed by flight, and which, in very dense jungle, it may be impossible to discover or guard against by means of flankers, His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief would wish the following plan to be tried: Supposing, for instance, the fire of the enemy to be delivered from the right, a portion of the force in front should be ready to dash along the road for 100 yards, or so, or until some opening in the jungle offers itself. The party should then turn to the right and sweep round with a view to intercepting the enemy in his flight. A party in rear should similarly enter the jungle to their right with the same object. The centre of the column would hold the ground and protect the baggage or any wounded men. The different parties must be previously told off, put under the command of selected leaders, and must act with promptitude and dash. Each party must be kept in compact order, and individual firing must be prohibited, except when there is a clear prospect. Past experience suggests the adoption of some such plan as the above, but in guerilla warfare officers must suit their tactics to the peculiar and ever-varying circumstances in which they may find themselves engaged.
18th.--The Government have ordered a general disarmament of the country, as soon as the large bands of rebels and dacoits are dispersed. The orders for this disarmament direct that all firearms are to be taken from the people, but that a moderate number may be returned to responsible villagers who are loyal and are able to defend themselves. No firearms will be returned save under registered licenses; and licenses will be given only for villages which can produce a certain number (5 to 10) guns, and are either stockaded or fenced against sudden attack. The duty of disarming lies on civil officers and the police; but as it is desirable that the disarmament should be effected as quickly as possible, officers commanding posts and columns will give such assistance as may be in their power in carrying it out.