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: skirmish at Lukobomi
medium: tours
keywords: hoolooks
person: Tulloch
location: Lukobomi
date: 24.2.1876
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1875-1876
text: 33. On the 24th February, very early, I again set up the coolies, with a guard under a native officer. While at chota haziri, Colonel Tulloch remarked that a colony of hoolooks had taken up their quarters in the forest which clothed the hillsides everywhere, except on the patch of old cultivation where we had our camp: we had not heard them before. A few minutes later we were told that Nagas were seen at the end of and in the forest, crouching behind their shields. They saw that they were discovered, and, leaving their weapons, came forward a few paces, saying they had brought us some supplies; but nothing was forthcoming, and as more and more men appeared in various directions, a diversion seemed to be our best move; so I asked Colonel Tulloch for a guard of twenty men, and, telling the Nagas that I was going to Lukobomi, and would receive anything they had to give us there, I took a few coolies and went down to the village, where our presence had evidently not been expected, for, although the entrance had been barred, there were only some twenty or thirty Nagas inside. We cut our way through the obstacle without any active opposition, and, calling for the headman, I explained that we should have to remain in our camp for a day or two, that we did not mean any harm to anyone, and, showing him a red cloth, told him that it should be his if he kept his men in order while we were there. He promised to do this, and said he would supply us with some rice; but, although he and the other Nagas standing about said they would give us everything we wanted, no one stirred; and it was evident that, having been taken by surprise, they were simply trying to gain time for reinforcements to come up, which began soon to appear in the jungles around, and the men in the village slipped away by twos and threes to join them. As the headman was leaving, I told him that if he wished for peace he must show it by bringing in some presents of rice or fowls, and that, as we did not wish to fight them, we would give them plenty of time to think over what I had said. Leaving half the guard with the coolies in the village, which was a most excellent position in which to receive an attack, if one was to be made on us, I went outside to a field about half a mile of, and worked for a couple of hours, during which time we had seen the Nagas creeping up from all sides through the grass and shrubs; and shortly after my return to the village they appeared, surrounding it, and a young warrior, approaching one of the entrances as I passed it, began to dance and levelling his spear at me, prepared to throw it. I turned for my rifle, and, seeing this, he made for the shelter of a tree. The Nagas then sounded their war-cry, and some rushed forth from the jungles, brandishing their spears, while other fired arrows from their crossbows at us from behind the bushes. The stockade and hedge which surrounded the village prevented their coming on to us with a sudden rush, and a few shots caused them to retire to the jungles again, whence they kept up a desultory fire on us from their crossbows. Hearing the firing, and all the Nagas having left the vicinity of the camp, Colonel Tulloch came down to the village. The Nagas made a few more rushes, but were driven back. Strong reinforcements, coming up our path of the previous day from the five lower villages, were also put to flight. We burned the village (forty houses) and returned to camp.