The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - 'Report of the Survey Operations in the Naga Hills 1875-1876' by Lt. R.G. Woodthorpe

caption: Chebi River towards Pangti; Naga guide runs away; fear of attack
medium: tours
location: Chubi R. (Chebi R.) Pangti
date: 25.12.1875
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1875-1876
text: 7. About 11 o'clock we crossed the Chebi River, and halted for three-quarters of an hour to allow all our coolies and the rear-guard to come up, as the bank on either side of the stream was exceedingly steep and broken, and the path difficult for men with loads. Our guide had got over any little uneasiness of conscience, and slept most peacefully till we went on again, when all the men had come up. We were soon in sight of Pangti, a large village crowning the hill in front of us about three miles off, the intervening country being broken up into long undulating spurs separated by deep ravines, and everywhere densely clothed with long grass jungle and thick shrubs. The path, a narrow one, went up and down over these spurs and across the ravines for about a mile, when it began to ascend to the village. When we reached the first ravine, our guide suddenly disappeared into the jungle, before he could be stopped by any of the sepoys, and effected his escape. Captain Butler, thinking this was the signal for an attack, sounded the "alarm", and Colonel Tulloch, who was a little way behind, asked if he should fire, as from where he was he could see the course taken by the guide. Captain Butler replied that he need not, as the desertion of a guide is not an unfrequent occurrence, and nothing beyond this had taken place; so we again resumed our march, Captain Butler remarking that he thought we were in for an ambuscade there. I remember saying that, during my experience of the Nagas, we had never met with anything like an ambush, asking if they had ever laid one for him, to which he replied "No, never;" nor had they ever attacked us at any great distance from their villages, always waiting there for us;; and we consequently thought that if we were to be attacked by Pangti, it would probably be at the top of the hill, where we could see some pretty strong stockades, guarding the southern and western approaches. About a quarter of a mile beyond the place where the guide had run away, the path descended steeply into another ravine, crossed a small stream, and again ascended steeply (part of the path here being cut into steps) through the close shrubs, thick trees, and long grass, into which it would have been impossible to send flankers. Indeed, as we afterwards found, the Nagas themselves had been obliged to cut a labyrinth of paths parallel to, and about five or six yards from, the main road, to enable them to move about in the jungle, a few narrow lanes giving access to the road. This ambush had evidently been arranged some time, and there were signs of the Nagas having encamped there.