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: Captain Butler is wounded and the Nagas attack and are repulsed
medium: tours
person: ButlerTulloch
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1875-1876
text: 8. Our order of march at this time was as follows:- Captain Butler's police guard of five constables, a havildar, and four or five men of the 42nd; Captain Butler and myself, with our orderlies and some Naga dobashas armed with carbines, were in front, a little ahead of Colonel Tulloch, behind whom was the advance-guard of the coolies, a few sepoys keeping up the line between us and him. When we had left the stream about fifty yards, a sepoy behind passed up word that he had seen a Naga up the stream behind a rock. Captain Butler, asking me to wait for him, went back to Colonel Tulloch to ask him to have the ravine searched, and some sepoys placed on either side of the path, to ensure the coolies crossing the stream in safety. He had seen Colonel Tulloch, and was returning to me, when according to the account of his orderly and a dobasha, which I believe to be correct, (Captain Butler being unable afterwards to remember exactly how it had happened), as he was half-way to me, a spear was thrown, which fell behind him and close to his orderly, who exclaimed, "Take care, they are throwing spears." Captain Butler asked, "Where?" half turning to his left, and at the same moment a spear, thrown from a point rather higher than the path, crossing him from the left, struck him, at a great angle, in the right breast, grazing the collar-bone and penetrating to the lungs, passing between the first and second true ribs. He drew out the spear, staggered back a few yards, and, fainting, fell heavily to the ground. His being struck was, I imagine, the signal for a war-cry which resounded through the jungle up and down for at least half a mile on the left of the path, a precipitous slope being on the right, and immediately after spears came flying out through the grass. We replied promptly with a volley, and groans within a few yards of us told us that some of the shots had taken effect. I remained where I was for a few minutes, firing at the Nagas, who every now and then came charging down the path towards us, appearing and disappearing, as if by magic, through the narrow outlets the first of which we had just reached. A spear had fallen a few yards before us on the path, and the head-constable stepped forward and picked it up, when at once a Naga appeared as if out of the ground, flourishing a dao over his head, and he escaped only by running back in a crouching position, while some shots were fired over him at the rascal. I was wondering why Captain Butler had not come back to me, when I heard the "assembly" sounding in rear; so we retired slowly, and on approaching the stream I was horrified to find my poor friend lying in a dead faint in his orderly's arms, Colonel Tulloch being actively engaged in keeping off the Nagas on the opposite back. I at once opened Captain Butler's waistcoat and shirt, and found the wound, out of which air was rapidly escaping, and, the native doctor coming up, I made him sew up the wound; this being done, and some brandy-and-water poured into his mouth, Captain Butler gradually revived, and, going back to the coolies, I got up his bed, which was made into a doolie. Our first thought and care were for him, and it was evident that he could not be moved far. It was too late then to make the necessary arrangements for a detached party to proceed against the village, the punishment of which had to be deferred to the next day; and therefore Colonel Tulloch decided to encamp close by in a good open spot, capable of being easily defended. We moved slowly and sorrowfully back, and encamped there, sending off three constables at once to Golaghat to bring up Captain Butler's brother and a European surgeon.