1800-1859 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Punitive operations | Sri Lanka

1,100 houses torched – unknown number burned alive at Ruwanwella

[ 13 September 1803 ] On 14 September 1803, Captain W. Pollock of the 51st Regiment of Foot, commanding a punitive military column targeting rebel held areas of Ceylon, reported to Major General Macdowal that the previous day, having found “the enemy had retreated into the interior of their territory, I ordered the Palace and…

1900-1919 | Burning towns and cities | Burning villages | Collective punishments | Nigeria | Punitive operations

Reuters – ’15 towns and villages destroyed’ in Nigeria

[ 30 December 1903 ] On 30 December 1903, a Liverpool Reuters correspondent telegraphed the news, arrived by ship from Nigeria, that ‘about fifteen towns and villages’ had been ‘destroyed’ during a two month long British punitive expedition in the south eastern Niger Delta region. The pretext had been the alleged ‘interference with peaceful trade by certain…

1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Punitive operations | Sudan

The burning of villages fails to crush Sudanese revolt

[ 27 March 1884 ] In February 1884, General Sir Gerald Graham led an army of over 3,000 troops into north eastern Sudan to crush an anti-British Islamist uprising led by Osman Digna. According to an Associated Press report, on 27 March, after defeating a rebel force several days earlier, the British burned ‘Osman Digna’s villages without…

1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Looting and plunder | Nigeria

The ancient city of Benin looted and burned

[ 18 February 1897 ] On 18 February 1897, a punitive expedition of 1,200 Royal Marines, bluejackets and African troops, under the command of Rear Admiral Harry Rawson seized the ancient city of Benin. Situated amid dense rain forest some 200 miles east of Lagos, it was the capital of the kingdom of Benin, rich…

1900-1919 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Gambia | Livestock targeted | Punitive operations

Two towns burned, crops and livestock seized in punitive operation

[ 26 May 1902 ] On 26 May 1902, Reuters filed a report at Banjul on a British punitive expedition in the Gambia against the Jola, who were described as ‘a wild people in the neighbourhood of the French frontier’ (today marked by the country’s border with Senegal.) It appeared in British newspapers in mid-June under various…

1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Gambia | Punitive operations

West India Regiment burns down Gambian town of Gunjur.

[ 9 March 1894 ] At 8 am, Rear Admiral Bedford ordered four British warships to commence the shelling of the coastal stockade and defences in the bush outside the Gambian coastal town of Gunjur, while it was attacked from the land by the First Battalion of the West India Regiment, commanded by Major Madden….

1800-1859 | Afghanistan | Burning towns and cities | Civilians slaughtered | Demolishing urban areas | Looting and plunder | Massacres | Punitive operations

Kabul sacked in an orgy of fire, looting and ‘wholesale butchery’

[ 10 October 1842 ] On 10 October 1842, British troops used explosives and fire to destroy much of the Afghan capital of Kabul, including the Great Bazar and an adjacent mosque. They also burned down an unknown number of domestic dwellings, slaughtering their owners. Only two neighbourhoods, deemed ‘friendly’, were left untouched and the…

1500-1799 | Battlefield butchery | Burning towns and cities | Massacres | Prisoners murdered | United States

NEW LONDON BURNED AND THE GARRISON SLAUGHTERED

6 September 1781 In the late eighteenth century, New London was a small port at the mouth of the river Thames on the Connecticut coast connecting American agricultural communities with the outside world. During the American Revolutionary War, the rebels used it as a base to attack British naval vessels and their supply ships, but…

1500-1799 | Battlefield butchery | Burning towns and cities | Massacres | Prisoners murdered | United States | Wounded killed

REDCOATS SLAUGHTER AMERICAN TROOPS AFTER THEY SURRENDER

28 September 1778 During the American Revolutionary War, many British officers did not consider those ‘damn’d American rebels’, as they called recruits of George Washington’s Continental Army, to be entitled to the rights normally accorded to combatants in conflict. Major General Charles Grey was among those more committed to unforgiving cutthroat tactics, leading operations in…

1500-1799 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Punitive operations | United States

THE ROYAL NAVY PUNISHES THE AMERICAN TOWN OF FALMOUTH

17 OCTOBER 1775 On 6 October 1775, a squadron of Royal Naval ships, commanded by Captain Henry Mowat, sailed from Boston. Vice Admiral Samuel Graves ordered Mowat to discipline coastal towns deemed sympathetic to the American Revolutionary cause, which earlier that year had erupted into a full scale war against the tyranny of British colonial…