The Battle of Kotikapola ,12 April 1655

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The Battle of Kotikapola ,12 April 1655
« em: Dezembro 09, 2015, 11:21:13 am »
The Leopard’s Eating Place :
The Battle of Kotikapola ,12 April 1655


Facing a dire situation
the Portuguese Captain-General of Ceylon
replaced the incompetent Captain-Major of the 4 and 7 Korales
with the proven Gaspar Figueira de Serpe ('the Axe') .
Gaspar Figueira with the Portuguese of the Colombo garrison and the
few loyal Sinhalese lascarins ,
Figueira defeated the Kandyans at Malwana
and again at Kananapella ,
then destroyed Moorish vessels in the ocidenatl western ports of
Kalpitiya and Puttalam .

After further reinforcements arrived from Mannar (30 Jan),
Figueira led his men into the interior and,
having surprised them in their encampment at Arambepola ,
defeated the Kandyans yet again (Feb) .
The Kandyans fled to the hills above Balane pass,
and the Portuguese camped at Arandara .
 
Enraged by the Figueira's successes against his subordinates ,
Raja Sinha asks the Dutch to besiege the Portuguese at Kalutara,
the key to Colombo (19 Mar)
then advanced into the lowlands with 40,000 men (21 Mar) .
The Kandyan army made leisurely progress via the Kandy-Puttalam road .
This road passed through the Galagedara pass and across the
Kospatu Oya river at Kotiapola,
and 2 advanced guards
were sent forward to secure the route ;
8,000 men under the dissava of Uva
and
6,000 under the dissava of Matale .
Uva emcamped at Kotikapola and
Matale a mile further on at Pilessakanda .

When the Dutch besieged Kalutara from 3 sides (3 Apr)
the Portuguese Captain-General of Ceylon ordered Figueira back
to the coast to defend the Capital .
Figueira, however, had other ideas .
He had quickly heard of the advancing Kandyan horde,
and although he declined to tell his men so as not to discourage them,
he believed it better to face this threat than to succor Colombo .
To deceive the enemy he made it be know that he was heading for the
coast, but instead remained at Arandura.

On the night of 10 April
Figueira ordered that the camp fires be kept burning and that the camp
followers make merry,
then with 300 Portuguese soldados and 1,700 lascarins ,
he left headed east to Mottapuliya (11 Apr) .
The Portuguese breakfasted at 3 am,
and by day break (6 am)
were marching north (12 Apr).
Around 7 am they encountered a Kandyan scouting party, and drove them off.
Learning
from prisoners that Raja Sinha was camped at Kotikapola ,
Figueira divided his force in 2 :
Joaõ Coelho de Castro, dissiva of the 7 Korales, took 150 Portuguese
and 700 lascarin
to attack the dissiva of Matale at Pilessakanda .
The remainder of the force headed for the dissiva of Uva's emcampment
at Kotikapola .
Both forces
would have had to advance single file through the thick jungle;
it would seem the lascarins typically headed Portuguese columns.

Joaõ Coelho surprised and killed the dissiva of Matale and drove off his men .
Figueira didn't have it quite so easy.
Warned of the approaching Portuguese by fugitives from the earlier
skirmish at Mottapuliya,
the dissiva of Uva sent out 1,100 men
to harass Figueira as he advanced (12 noon).
Figueira ignored this threat to his flanks and pushed on.
After another 2 miles (at 1 pm) the lascarins at the head of Figueira's column
 clashed
with Kandyans blocking the way.
Figueira and 20 Portuguese reformados rushed to the front and a
fierce fighting ensued.
When the remainder of the Portuguese managed to make their way to the
front of column (still being attacked from the flanks),
a volley drove off the Kandyans.
Figueira pursued vigorously killing any fugitives encountered;
within half an hour he had captured the dissiva of Uvas camp.
At this point fugitives from the camp of the dissiva of Matale arrived,
only to be driven into the jungle by Figueira.

Deciding that Raja Sinha would not come because
his subordiinates had been defeated,
Figueira
settled down to camp for the night .
The King, however, wasn't aware what had happened
and by 4 pm
Figueira was getting reports of a large force of Kandyans approaching
from the east.
Manoel Gil led 30 Portuguese and 650 lascarins off to disperse what was
 believed to be survivors from earlier fights.
Figueira, however, hearing continuous firing from the jungle into
which Gil had disappeared,
sent Joaõ Coelho to investigate with another 180 Portuguese and 300 lascarin.
It turns out that 500 of Gil's lascarins had immediately deserted to join the
Kings forces,
leaving Gil's 180 remaining men to face the 10,000 of the dissiva of Tumpane.
Coelho's arrival saved Gil's tiny force,
and after a hard struggle the Portuguese put the Kandyans to flight.
Raja Sinha attempted to stem the rout on the eastern side of Kospatu Oya,
but eventually fled himself.
Only the King's Dutch bodyguard stood their ground and covered the flight
 of the Kandyans.
Coelho did not pursue and rejoined Figueira by nightfall (6 pm).
Depending on the source your read the Kandyans lost between 300 and 16,000
killed and captured.
The Portuguese had 4 soldados wounded, 4 lascarins killed and 20 wounded.
The portuguese and lascarins cut 11 000 enemy heads ,1 600 prisoners ,captured
700 muskets .

The last and most successful of the Portuguese victories against the native Sinhalese


Order of Battle
On 12 April 1655 Gaspar Figueira de Serpe had :
8 companies of 30 Portuguese Soldados
1 company of 37 topazes (mixed Portuguese-Sinhalese blood) and 20 reformados (Portuguese captains currently without a command)
At least 500 lascarins from the recently recovered Seven Korales
At least 150 lascarins from the Alukuru Korale near Dutch held Negombo.
The remainder of the 1,700 (or 4,000) lascarin were from the Four Korales.
A few Caffirs (Negros from Mozambique)

On 12 April 1655 Raja Sinha had 40,000 (or 19,000 or 20,000) men including :
3,000 with gingal
9,000 with muskets
13,000 with bows
15,000 with spears
30 Elephants
30-32 Dutchmen with Snaphaans
 

 

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