Sagaing Fortress or Asaykhan Fortress

Sagaing Fortress entrance

Sagaing Fortress entrance

This is a translation of the stone tablet inside the Fort which gives it’s history

“It is located at the Asaykhan Quarter of Sagaing which is on the south west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. It was built during the reign of King Mindon under the direction of Comoto Peree (sic) and Moie Narie (sic), the French and Italian engineers assigned to assist Myanmar Engineers and the labour force.The King gave express responsibility to Minister Kinwong to oversee the  propject, designed to protect the kingdom from both domestic and foreign enemies.

The design

It was designed in the shape of a semi-circle being from south to north 240 feet, and from east to west 320 feet. There are two entrances constructed on the north and western sides.

The ramparts and mortar covered brick are about 30 feet thick, and on the southern flank there are two feet of brick crenelations. The overall height of the fort is nine feet. All walls save the southern rampart have holes for giving fire.

The fort contains two rooms at the south and there are stairwells on the east,west and south.

The third Anglo Burmese War

During the 3rd Anglo- Burmese war the commander of the Myanmar forces was Mingaung Mahar Min Kyaw Thurein, attended by the following troops.

The were 345 from Taung Marrabin, 328 from Linzin, 70 from the Royal Army, with 318 Royal Army Reserves, 252 of the Cathay Cavalry, 312 Shan Cavalry, and 244 Cavalry from Zinmei. There were 215 Burmese Cavalry and 200 from Thugaung Htan. The Prince Kyun Nyun , a son of Prince Kanaung also joined the garrison. The garrison fought the British bravely to avoid being taken as slaves”.

Sagaing Fortress. The eastern rampart

Sagaing Fortress. The eastern rampart

What actually happened

In the Third Anglo Burmese war the Burmese garrison put up stout resistance at Minhla,  three day sail from Sagaing, as it had received a telegrams from Mandalay with messages such as “”Check the advance of the invading heretics. Stop” . By the time the British fleet  approached Sagaing they sailed slowly to avoid a scuttled steamer in the river, and when the Burmese request for an armistice was rejected the telegraph signals ordered ” Cease fire .Stop”.


A Colonel White was given the task to disarm the Fort here, and when he arrived he found the soldiers and the local people cheerful, and the commander eating his dinner in a hut. He was asked by White to come at once, but sent back a message that he would like to finish his dinner. White sent back a message to come out or the commander might not need dinner tomorrow. So the Burmese commander lit a cheroot and lounged out of the hut and sat down unconcerned. White then told him where, if reseistance had been given he had intended to attack.  The commander answered “Yes, you could have got in there.” ( Precis of the account by Colonel White 1885).

The garrison may not have put up a fight here, but many of them returned to their homes in the hills and gave stiff resistance to the British for four years following the occupation of Mandalay.

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