Thursday, March 23, 2006

Razadarit Ayeidawpon and Sieges

The Siege of Khepaung (1411)

The siege of Khepaung in 1411 is described in relative detail by Razadarit Ayeidawpon and gives the reader a good idea of what siege tactics were like in western mainland Southeast Asia around 1411.

Minyekyawswa, son of the king of Ava Minhkaung, led a flotilla of river boats south from Ava to Lower Burma [Rammanadesa] in 1411. The land-based forces had not arrived yet, so he gathered together the forces he had and led an attack against the town of Khepaung. After five days nothing was achieved and the attackers retreated to the confluence of the Ngawun river.

The land forces finally arrived and an assault on Khepaung was launched from both land and river. The elephants waited at the edge of the moat while infantry scaled the walls. Those disobeying were to have their limbs chopped off. On the defensive side within the walls, Re Thinran took measures to motivate the troops and “gave out awards and feted them well and put on displays with swords and shield at every portal to the stirring sound of war drums.” At dawn three groups approached the walls from three different directions: “The moat was drained and scaling ladders placed against the walls. The defenders countered by throwing rocks, bricks, and sticks, heaving logs down the walls on those swarming up the ladders and thrusting at them with pointed staves.” After two or three hours, with heavy casualties, the attack was called off.

The next day, the Avan sided headed once again for the confluence of the Ngawun river. Supposedly, the Mon taunting of the retreating Burmese troops was too great for Minyekyawswa and he ordered another assault against the walls, this time ordering that anyone who did not dismount from their elephant or horse or who failed to scale the walls would be killed. Soldiers who hesitated were supposedly executed on the spot. Soldiers dug up “the stockade posts with adze and axe” as well as setting them on fire and a breach in the stockade walls was finally made. Avan troops poured through the breach and the town of Khepaung was taken on the 7th waxing Dabodwe Jan-Feb 773 1411 (paraphrased from San Lwin's unpublished translation of Razadarit Ayeidawpon, pp. 128-129).