• Si Biggs

Capture of Fort Trincomalee

Unit/ Formation: His Majesty's Marine Forces


Location: Sri Lanka


Period/ Conflict: Fourth Anglo Dutch War


Year: 1782


Date/s: 5 January 1782


On January 5, 1782 British troops landed at Back Bay and captured Fort Trincomalee by surprise.


Early in the morning the marines, with 2 six-pounders, were landed, and soon af- terwards 800 seamen were disembarked, followed by the sepoys ; and before it became dark, the whole force pushed forward towards Trincomale fort.



On the same night the grenadier company of the marines, led by lieutenant Orr, made themselves masters of the fort, by forcing an entry through the gateway at the moment the governor was preparing terms of capitulation.


The garrison consisted of only 3 officers and 40 men ; but the possession of the fort was important to the future operations of the enterprise, as it commanded the only safe landing for stores and provisions from the ships.


On the 8th the seamen and marines carried a post situated on the top of a high hill commanding Fort Ostenburg, which fortress was also on the summit of a hill that commanded the harbour.


Sir Edward Hughes, after sending a second summons to the gover- nor without success, ordered the immediate preparation for an assault on the morning of the 11th.


Accordingly the storming party, consisting of 450 seamen and marines, having on their flanks a party of pioneers, with 20 seamen carrying scaling- ladders, and a reserve of three companies of seamen and three of marines, supported by two field-pieces and the Company's troops, advanced at daylight towards the fort.


A Serjeant's party of marines led the attack, and getting through the em- brasures, the Dutch were soon driven from their works and the fort gained, with the loss on our part of lieutenant George Long of the navy, and 20 sailors and marines killed ; and lieutenant Samuel Wolseley of the navy, lieutenant Samuel Orr of the ma- rines, officiating as brigade-major, and 40 men wounded. The fort mounted above 50 guns, and contained a garrison of 400 men.

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