The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - Chapter II, 'Detailed Report on the Naga Hills Expedition of 1879-80', Capt. P.J. Maitland

caption: failure of punitive expedition of 1849; policy of non-intervention
medium: reports
person: Bogchand
ethnicgroup: Angami
date: 1849
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: An expedition was of course necessary to avenge the murder, and plenary powers of granary burning were confided to it. In December 1849 it set out, but the officer in command fell ill, and the expedition was a failure. In fact its retreat from the hills is reported to have been of a hurried nature. Naturally the Nagas were jubilant, and showed it by commencing to raid in all directions. Their triumph did not last long; for a strong force of British troops was speedily in the field, which "stormed the stockades, burnt the villages, and scattered the Nagas like leaves wherever they faced them."
text: Having settled with the Angamis for the murder of Bogchand, the Supreme Government was pleased to decide that the future policy should be one of absolute non-intervention; trade was to be encouraged, and the savages to be punished by exclusion from British territory, should they be so impolite as to molest our posts or villages. In pursuance of this policy, the troops were withdrawn from the hills in March 1851. Up to this time there had been altogether ten Naga expeditions of a more or less warlike character. "Conciliatory" and punitive expeditions seem to have succeeded one another with tolerable regularity.
text: The withdrawal of the troops was, of course, the opportunity of the Nagas, and they celebrated the occasion by making no less than twenty two raids into British territory within the year. In these raids "55 persons were killed, 10 wounded, and 113 taken captive. It is true only three of these raids were traced to Angamis, but most of them were committed in North Cachar by Naga tribes who would have been easily controlled by and officer in the hills; and any way the policy of non interference was not very successfully inaugurated." (Memorandum on the North-East Frontier of Bengal, by Alexander Mackenzie.)