The first report on Andamans

This article gives the errata from the report by Capt. john Ritchie, Hydrographical Surveyor to the United India Company. He was given the charge to survey the Andaman islands in 1771. Folowwing gives some glimpses of his report.
In his words, "

Great Andaman Island, is situated from 11 20', to 13 35' north Latitude, being 135 miles long, and how broad I cannot tell; at the south end where I had the opportunity to examine it, the width at a mean is about 20 miles, but towards the middle it must be a great deal broader. The Island is generally mountainous , and in some places very high, particularly a double peek'd hill at the east side (Saddle Peak), which I have seen at 70 miles distance the whole island is covered, or rather loaded, with Timber, except where the hills are nearly perpendicular, and there the rains washing the earth down, shews it to be of reddish colour. There is a little Island (Landfall Island), at the north end of Andaman, which lies in the same direction from Cocco, but the distance to it is only 23 miles: (from Coco) it is said that there is a very good passage (Cleugh Passage) between Andaman and this island. The bank which joins Cocco's and Andaman, extends about 25 miles to the eastward of the Islands, in the parallel of the passage.

In the Latitude 13 north, there is a very fine inlet (Stewart  Sound), with two islands at its mouth (Stewart island & Sound island); the northermost of which pretty large and rises gradually on all sides, to a moderate hill; it is every where covered with trees, very thick; and at a distance, appears as if only covered with grass. The Southern Island is very small, with open scraggy trees upon it. The inlet bends round to the southward, behind a point upon the left hand side of entrance, and seems to promise a good Harbour (Bacon Bay).

Just to the southward of the inlet, the land juts out, into a round point to the eastward, and rises into a high steep hill (Mt. Diavolo). In Latitude 12 50' north, to what we have called Diligent Strait, the course of the Shore, is South a little Westerly; and in the Latitude 12 38', there is a fair bay not very deep (Cutbert  Bay),  but the land is high all about it, and would be a tollerable good anchorage in the SW. Monsoon. Between the Latitudes 11 55', and 12 15', north, lies a great Cluster of Islands, detached from Andaman, by a Passage, which in the plan, is mark'd, Diligent Strait.

The coast of Andaman Island, from Diligent Strait, to the South end, is S. 15 degrees, West; the land is regularly high, untill near the south end, and there are several inlets upon this side, the most remarkable  of  which, is not far from the south end, in Latitude 11 30' (Port Blair ?) north and as we after-wards found, that there is another inlet upon the west side, nearly opposite to this, it should seem that the Island is cut thro' here ; at any rate, I think, it promises a good harbour (Port Campbell), and I hope some one will in time Enquire into this matter.

At the South east corner of Andaman, lie three small Islands (Cinque Islands), but very high, and like the rest, covered with trees; they are nearly in a line SbW., and NbE., the nearest being about 2 miles from Andaman (Rutland island). The land of Andaman, at the South end rises gently on all sides, to a moderate high Peek (The Whale Back), with some hummocks about it; the whole is evenly covered with trees, and has a very pleasant appearance.

NWbW. from the south west corner of Andaman, lies a fine low Island covered with trees; it is a league long, and two miles broad; and if we may judge from the multitude of lights seen upon the shore at night, it is well inhabited; this Island is marked as North Sentinel in the plan; and it is between  the Latitudes 11 32' 'and 35' N. At the west side of Andaman, there are eight Islands of different magnitudes (The Labyrinth Islands), for the situation of all which I refer to the plan, only observing that the land is much indented here, and there appears to be good harbours for the N.E. monsoon.

If ever the French take possession of Andaman, we shall then see the vallue of it; the Island in general, is naturally disposed to be fortified and a little art, properly bestowed, may produce Moora's, and Havannah's  enough; it is difficult to fix an Idea of the importance of this Island, in the minds of those who have not seen it; and yet its situation and extent bespeaks attention, when considered in a political light; for who do not know that our restless Neighbours want only ground to build their Indea projects upon: there is here ground enough, to occasion subsequent differences; and a Mauritius in the Bay of Bengal might become troublesome.

Little Andaman Island is seperated from the Great one, by a passage of 9 leagues broad; have mark'd it Duncan's passage. The situation of the southern Sentinel Island itself is between the Latitudes 10 30', and 10 52' north, being full 7 leagues long, and barely three leagues broad, bearing from the south end of great Andaman, S. 8 Wt. This Island is low, and flat, at the north end, and rises gradually to the southward, where it is a kind of flat hill.

Little Andaman agrees exactly with the descriptions given of the Barbados when it was first discovered. The demensions, the face of the Island, and the Climate, agree; and I have not the least doubt, but the former would be equally fertile with the latter, if equal pains were taken to make it so: in its present state there are many inhabitants upon it, I should suppose, from the many lights seen on it in the night: what the ground produces, for their subsistance, I cannot say; doubt less, they have food in great plenty, of whatever kind it be; and foreign invaders have not yet desturbed their peacefull habitations.

----Edited and published 1901 by R.C. Temple under the heading "An Unpublished 18th Century Document about the Andamans" in The Indian Antiquary 30:232-238.