1st Kandyan War

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1st Kandyan War
Chronological list of Wars and Campaigns
Location: Sri Lanka
East India Company Sinhalese
Result: British victory
1st Kandyan War
Trichinopoly & Ceylon


The British gained control of the coastal areas in the 1795-96 War against Dutch in Ceylon but the Kingdom of Kandy continued to rule the central highlands. In 1802 the Treaty of Amiens formally ceded the Dutch territories to Britain and they were declared a Crown Colony so were not a part of British India.

Competing rivals for the Kandyan throne sought assistance from the British and tensions arose when British subjects were maltreated by agents of the Kandyan First Minister. Frederick North, first British Governor of Ceylon, used this as an excuse to invade on 31 January 1803. Two forces were dispatched - one under Maj-Gen Hay MacDowell from Colombo and the other from Trincomalee under Col Barbut. After initial success the British became isolated in hostile territory and subject to guerilla warfare. The garrison at Candy was compelled to surrender under promise of safe conduct but the commander, Major Adam Davie, was taken prisoner and later executed and the garrison massacred almost to a man. The British gained a significant victory at Hanwella and hostilities ceased without a treaty when General Thomas Maitland succeeded North as governor in 1805.

British forces

Colombo Division under Maj-Gen Macdowell

Trincomalee Division under Colonel Barbut

External Links

1st and 2nd Kandyan War (Ceylon) 1798-1818 The British Empire
1st Kandian War 1803-05 Wikipedia
An account of the war in 1803
The Campaign in 1803 Google Books
Lt-Col Burton Gage Barbut Google Books
Corporal George Barnsley's narrative Google Books

Historical books online