|THE BURMESE MOUNDS (โคกพม่า)
|Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - July 2011
|After a marauder trip which started two years earlier, the Burmese Army stood again
before the walls of the City of Ayutthaya in 1767. The city was besieged for several
months and the residents were deprived of provisions; many climbed the walls to
escape starvation. The Burmese General Nemiao Sihabodi found it the right occasion to
attack and choose to make the main effort, there where the Lopburi River was at its
narrowest; at the north-eastern corner of the city in front of the Maha Chai Fortress.
The current of the Lopburi River at that period of the year must have been low, being
the dry season. The Siamese defense fortifications at Wat Kuti Daeng, Wat Sam Vihan
and Wat Monthop on the opposite river bank of the city were attacked and taken by
the Burmese forces.
The Burmese chose to attack Ayutthaya at night and prepared a bamboo bridge in
order to cross the river just opposite the weir, meant to break the incoming waters of
the Lopburi River; a weir called Thamnop Ro. A stockade was built near the river bank
in front of Wat Mae Nang Plum on the two sides were the bridge was planned to be set
up. Stockades were created making earthen ramparts and by fixing wooden posts in the
ground, preventing incoming gun fire.
The Siamese, understanding what the ongoing Burmese activity meant, undertook an
attack and succeeded to defeat the Burmese at the construction site. They continued
attacking a Burmese fortification, but due to the lack of reinforcements were defeated
by the Burmese, receiving support from other stockades. It would be the last time the
citizens of Ayutthaya went out to fight.
The Burmese continued their construction work and succeeded in building a bridge over
the river. On the land in front of the city wall they set up a fortification and dug a tunnel
towards the foundations of the city wall in order to “mine” the wall. The technique of
"mining" was used in warfare to bring down fortifications not built on solid rock. A
tunnel was excavated under the outer defenses either to provide access into the
fortification or to collapse its walls. The tunnels were supported by temporary timber
supports as the digging progressed. When the excavation was completed, the wall or
bastion which was undermined would be brought down by filling the excavation hole
with combustible material. The combustibles when lit, would burn away the pit props,
leaving the structure above unsupported and thus liable to collapse.
On Tuesday, 7 April 1767, at 15.00 Hr the Burmese set fire at the base of the city wall
on the edge of the Maha Chai Fortress. All Burmese stockades started to fire their
heavy guns into the city. At dusk the city wall busted. At 20.00 Hr the Burmese
commander ordered a general attack, in where the Burmese scaled the walls on all sides
of the city. At the spot the city wall crumbled the Burmese were able to enter the city
around midnight. Ayutthaya turned to ashes.
A chronicle speaks:
Reaching 1129 of the Royal Era, a year of the boar, ninth of the decade, and
arriving at a Tuesday, the ninth day of the waxing moon in the fifth month, the
ninth day and middle day of the New Years Festival, the Burmese lighted fires to
burn the combustible firewood under the foundations of the walls opposite the
Head of the Sluice beside the Fort of Grand Victory, and the Burmese in the
stockades of the Monastery of the Crying Crow and of the Monastery of the
Jubilant Lady, as well as in each and every other stockade, lit [the fuses of] their
great guns the guns in the forts and in the bastions - and simultaneously fired
them on into the Capital in volleys from a little past three mong in the afternoon
until dusk. As soon as the walls where they had lit the combustible firewood to
consume the foundations had collapsed somewhat, around the second thum, they
thereupon had [the fuse of] the signal gun lit. The Burmese troops of each
brigade on each side who had been prepared, having accordingly taken their
ladders and simultaneously leaned them against the places where the walls had
collapsed and against other places all around the Holy Metropolis, climbed them
and were able to enter the Capital at that time. Now they lit fires in every vicinity
and burned down buildings, houses, hermitages and the Holy Royal Palace
Enclosure, including the palaces and royal domicile. The light of the conflagration
was as bright as the middle of the day. Then they toured around to chase and
capture people, and to search out and confiscate all their various sorts of
valuables, [whether] silver, gold, or [other] belongings. 
In front of Wat Mae Nang Plum on the south side of the road, some of the remains of
the Burmese fortifications are still visible . Two earthen mounds of a stockade, been
used by Chinese as burial mounds after the fall of the city, are one of the last witnesses
of the 1767 tragedy.
 Our Wars with the Burmese - Prince Damrong Rajanubhab (1917) - White Lotus,
Bangkok (2000) - page 352-354.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 520-521 /
Source: Royal Autograph.
 Burmese mounds indicated on a Fine Arts Department digital map (2005).
|(The Burmese mounds)
|(Chinese graveyard on the Burmese mounds)
|(The Burmese mounds at Wat Mae Nang Plum)