Governor Brownrigg’s memo to London in 1817 “They don’t face us in combat. Instead they follow us through the jungle. They wait until bad weather arrives. They wait until we become tired or sick. They wait until we finish our supplies. Any European would not be able to destroy them in this country alone without the help of their own countrymen”.
They don’t face us in combat– The British expected the Sinhalese to face them as in battle as in open fields of Europe. where they had superiority in firepower and expected the Sinhalese to killed as in Africa and India.
Instead they follow us through the jungle. The Sinhalese used the Jungle where there weapons had a distinct advantage,
They wait until bad weather arrives. – This hampered the loading of Muskets,
They wait until we become tired or sick.They wait until we finish our supplies–This is one tactic that the Sinhalese used from ancient period. which is very practical and has many advantages.
Any European would not be able to destroy them in this country alone without the help of their own countrymen”. Thus the reason to increase collaborators from the minorities and buying over some from the majority through devious methods.This has been in use by our present day Politicians of both parties,
TACTICS USED BY THE SINHALESE DURING THE WARS WITH THE EUROPEANS0- Robert Knox
In their War there is but little valour used, although they do accomplish many notable Exploits. For all they do is by crafty Stratagems. They will never meet their Enemies in the field, to give them a repulse by Battle, and force of Arms: :either is the Enemy like to meet with any opposition at their first goings out to invade the King’s Coasts, the King’s soldiers Knowing the Adverse Forces are at first Wary and vigilant as also well provided with all Necessaries. But their usual practice is to waylay them, and stop up the Wayes[ OBSTACLES] before them: there being convenient places in all the Roads, which they have contrived for such purposes. And at these places the woods are not suffered to be felled, but kept to shelter them from the sight of their enemies. Here they lay lurking, and plant their Guns between the Rocks and Trees with which they do great damage to their Enemies before they are aware. Nor can they then suddenly rush in upon them, being so well guarded with Bushes and Rocks before them, thro which before their Enemies can get, they flee carrying their great Guns upon their Shoulders and are gone into the Woods, where it is impossible to find them. Until they come themselves to meet them after the former manner.
Likewise they prepare against the enemies coming great bushy Trees, having them ready cut hanging only by which grow in the Wood; these as they march along they let fall among them with many shot and Arrows.
Being sent upon any design they are very circumspect to keep it hidden from the Enemies Knowledge, ; by suffering only those to pass, who may make for their Benefit and advantage; their great Endeavor being to take Enemies UN-provided and at unawares.
The understand the manner of Christian Armies.
By the long wars first between them and the Portuguese and since with the Hollander,-they have had, such ample experience as hath much improved them in the art of war, above what they were formerly. and many of the chief Commanders and Leaders of their Armies are men which formally served the Portuguese against them. By which they come to know the disposition of Christian Armies. Insomuch as they have given the Dutch several overthrows; and taken Forts from them, which they had, up in the Country.
“They seldom Hazzard a Battle”,
Heretofore for bringing the head of an Enemy, the King used to gratify them with some reward, but now the fashion is almost out of use. The ordering of their battle is with great security, there being very few lost in Fight. For if they be not almost sure to win the battle, , they rather not fight, than run any hazzard of loosing it.
If They prove unsuccessful – How they treat them
If his men do not successfully accomplish the design he sends them upon, to be sure they shall have a lusty piece of work given them, to-take revenge on them ; for not using weapons well he will exercise them with other tools, houghs and pickaxes about his palace.
Conditions of Service and logistics
And during the time , they stay to work, they must bring their victuals with them not having monies there to buy: they cannot carry for about a month, and when their provisions are at spent, if they ,have any more, they must go home and fetch them. But that is not permitted them without giving a Fee to the Governor or his overseer. Neither can they go with out his leave, for besides the punishments, the watches which are in every road from Kings city will stop and sieze them.[ Prevent AWOL.]
a.The Sinhalese had an different idea of Valour , they did not fight a losing battle. they only fought to win wars,Did the British have very high respect for those African tribes that charged them, so that in open battles so that they could be massacred by well aimed Cannon and musket fire.
b.They studied the Warfare or Tactics of the Christian armies ,and the battles fought with them and learned the lessons . That is why we not be captured by the European Armies, until one or few of our own betrayed us.
c.They studied the deficiency of the Slow loading Muskets , there short ranges during the early period, and employed them that was best suited for the terrain and Climate[rain etc].
d. After the first attack on the Portuguese stockade in Colombo where the Cannon fire from Ships made the elephants panic, the Sinhalese had by the period of the dutch about 20,000 muzzle loaders , cannons etc.