The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - Chapter III 'Detailed Report on the Naga Hills Expedition of 1878-80', Capt. P.J. Maitland

caption: preparations for the relief of Kohima
medium: reports
person: DamantNation/ Brig. Gen.Raban/ Lt.
location: Khonoma (Konoma) Kohima Wokha (Woka) Samaguting Nikriting
date: 1879
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: (28) CHAPTER III.
text: From the death of Mr. Damant to the storming of Konoma.
text: The news of Mr. Damant's murder, related in the preceding chapter, does not appear to have reached Brigadier General Nation, Commanding North-East Frontier District at Shillong, till the 19th October. On that day he despatched to Simla a telegram to the Quarter Master General in India, containing such particulars of the event as he had been able to learn, and stating that a wing of the 44th Sylhet light Infantry returning from Goalundo, would be sent at once to the Naga Hills; also that the detachment at Woka had been ordered to Kohima. He reported that, until the arrival of the 44th, he was utterly crippled for want of men: and in subsequent telegram the troops and military police actually in the Naga Hills at that moment were given as under:-
text: The Woka detachment had been ordered to Kohima, but, as we have already seen, Mr. Hinde had marched to reinforce that place, with all available men, immediately on receiving news of the Konoma disaster.
text: Further particulars were received at Army Head Quarters on the 20th October, together with some proposals made by General Nation regarding the troops it would be necessary to send into the Naga Hills to restore order, and punish the murderers of Mr. Damant. He himself intended to proceed to Gologhat in a few days to direct operations. The wing 44th Sylhet Light Infantry before mentioned was expected to reach Gauhati on the 26th and Golaghat about the 30th October. Arrangements were being made to collect carriage at the latter place, so that there might be no delay in pushing on the wing towards Kohima.
text: On the 21st General Nation telegraphed the news that Kohima was invested by the Nagas, and his opinion that matters were getting more serious daily. He had now decided to direct the whole of the 44th Sylhet Light Infantry to the Naga Hills; and, as transport was a difficulty, requested that fifty fully equipped elephants might be sent up from Dacca. He also strongly recommended that two mountain guns should be detailed for service. The relief of Kohima, he added, did not appear possible before the 10th November.
text: The steps taken by General Nation at this time, and his view of the situation, are given in the following letter to the Chief Commissioner of Assam:-
text: " 2. The immediate relief of the garrison of Kohima is my first care, and to this end I have detached 150 men and 2 British officers from the 43rd Native Infantry at Dibrugarh to move by forced marches to Kohima. This detachment left Dibrugarh at daybreak this morning, and expects to reach Kohima by the 1st proximo.
text: 3. I have ordered the 44th Regiment to proceed to Golaghat and await orders, and I propose to proceed thither myself and conduct the future operations in person, with the force that I have available, and which I consider will be sufficient.
text: 4. The strength of the column will be as given in the statement attached,( 44th Native Infantry, 600; 43rd Native Infantry, 300; 42nd Native Infantry, 100; 34th Native Infantry,100: total 1,100 rifles.) and supplemented by the Manipur Contingent, ample for all purposes.
text: 5. I consider that the advance should be made as early as possible, and the force concentrated at Kohima and Samaguting by degrees, as carriage for it is available. The crops of the enemy are now standing, and it is important they should not be permitted to reap these in security, which they will do in the course of another month, if no prevented." ( No. 784. from Brigadier General Nation to the Chief Commissioner of Assam, dated 23rd October 1879.)
text: " 6. As it is not anticipated the enemy will permit themselves to be surrounded in their villages, but will retreat, on first contact with our troops, to the (29) higher ranges of the Burail (Barel), it becomes of more importance to hinder their cutting and storing their grain; and I therefore urge that a punitive expedition may not be delayed.
text: 7. In anticipation of sanction I have therefore applied for two guns under an artillery officer, and also for war rockets and other material, as well as for 50 elephants from Dacca, which have been sanctioned, and should be at Golaghat by the 15th of next month."
text: " 8. In the event of the Chief Commissioner coinciding with my views, and the approval of Government being obtained, I would desire to avail myself of the services of the Deputy Surgeon General, Assam Circle, and that the services of Lieutenant Raban, R.E., be placed at my disposal for employment as Field Engineer with the Force."
text: All General Nation's requirements, as telegraphed by him to the Commander-in-Chief, were laid by His Excellency before the Government of India and received immediate sanction. They were as follows:-
text: (1) The train of fifty elephants previously mentioned. These elephants, applied for on the 21st October, left Dacca on the 24th, and it was expected would reach Gauhati in twenty six days. They were then to be shipped on board a steamer and conveyed to Nikriting, the landing place of Golaghat.
text: (2) Two mountain guns. These were supplied from the arsenal at Calcutta, together with 300 rounds of ammunition packed in boxes suitable for coolie carriage. ( See Appendix A: Note on Duffla Expedition.) Elephant cradles and gear were also sent. It was arranged that the guns should be manned by men from the 44th Sylhet Light Infantry, as was done in the Lushai expedition. One officer (Lieutenant Mansel) and three non-commissioned officers Royal Artillery were detailed, by order of the Commander-in- Chief, to take charge of the division thus formed. At the particular request of the Brigadier General,100,12-pr. rockets were added to the equipment of the division. The gun detachments, elephants, and escort, were to await the arrival of the guns and stores at Nikriting.
text: (3) Five hundred waterproof sheets were applied for on the 24th October and were despatched from the Army clothing Department, Calcutta, on the 30th of the same month.
text: (4) Warm clothing on the "Duffla scale," and rations on the " Khyber scale" ( See Appendix A.) were sanctioned for all the troops proceeding on service to the Naga Hills.
text: Owing to transport difficulties the warm clothing and waterproof sheets did not reach the troops, for whom they were intended, until very late. Certainly the waterproof sheets and warm clothing for followers were not distributed until after the 1st January. No tents were taken on this expedition, not even by the officers. The troops usually hutted themselves with materials found on the spot, and these hut bivouacs are somewhat deceptively termed " camps" in the official records. All camps or bivouacs seem to have been intrenched with stockades.
text: On the 28th October the Commander-in-Chief telegraphed to General Nation to enquire what arrangements he was making about transport, and whether he wished it organised on a military footing. The Brigadier General replied that the Local Government had engaged 600 Kasia, Kuki, and Goorkha coolies. That he had recommended they should be organised as a coolie corps, and that he had already detailed an officer to take charge. Also that 100 elephants were procurable locally ( The greater part of these were pressed for Government service from native owners. The tea planters lent about fifteen.) and would suffice.
text: With regard to the coolie corps, it is as well to state at once that it was never organised; for when General Nation arrived on the spot, he thought it better not to disturb arrangements which had already been made by the civil and political officers, and which appeared at that time to be working satisfactorily.
text: The Chief Commissioner of Assam appointed the Inspector General of Police Chief Civil and Political Officer to the expedition, and also placed him in charge of the arrangements for procuring and working transport coolies. Two (30) hundred coolies were collected by the Deputy Commissioner, Kasi Hills. The remainder were to be procured locally among the Nagas, Kukis, &c.