The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: attempts to restore security in North Cachar
medium: reports
person: Abbott/ Capt.Robertson/ Col.Saloji
location: Baladhun T.G. Pulomi (Paplongmai) Mukama Nichuguard R.S. (Nichi Guard) Ridima Sephima
date: 31.12.1879-10.2.1880
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: While this was going on, news had reached Kohima (on 31st December) of the raid on the Baladhun tea garden in Cachar (see Appendix F). From subsequent information there is reason to believe that the raiders (only about fifty men) were Konoma Nagas, and that they reached Paplongmai on their return the very day after Lieutenant Macgregor had left.
text: It was now more than ever necessary to occupy Paplongmai; and on the 7th February another detachment was despatched, consisting of one hundred and fifty rifles, 42nd and 43rd Assam Light Infantry, and seventy Kohima Nagas armed with spears, the whole under Captain Abbott, 42nd Assam Light Infantry. Captain Abbott's orders were to proceed to Paplongmai by a circuitous route ( Via the Zumha river, Tehima and Berima.) to destroy the village, and those of Mukama and Ridima, and to remain fifteen days in the neighbourhood, in order to cut off the Konoma Nagas from refuge and supplies. He was also to procure labour from the Katcha Naga and Kuki country. The detachment at Konoma was at the same time strengthened by fifty men, and Colonel Robertson directed to devote his whole attention to closing the paths by which the enemy in the Chaka forts received provisions.
text: To restore security in North Cachar, the Chief Commissioner of Assam thought two hundred men should be sent thither until the setting in of the rains. The Government of India having approved, the Commander-in-Chief ordered the General Officer Commanding at Calcutta to move two hundred of the 18th Native Infantry from Jalpaiguri to Cachar as a temporary measure.
text: At Kohima difficulties of transport and supply continued to create embarrassment, and the Nagas still remaining hostile became more and more active. On the 11th February Colonel Robertson's patrols from Konoma had a sharp skirmish with the enemy from Chaka. In this affair seven Nagas were killed, one of them a leading chief, and no doubt many more wounded; but as usual in bush fighting, the number of the latter could only be vaguely conjectured. On our side two sepoys were killed, and three wounded. Two attacks were also made on the Nichi Guard, one on the night of the 8th, the other on the 10th February. Both were repulsed with some loss. It was afterwards known that these attacks were made by the Nagas of Sephima, under the chief Saloji, before alluded to as very active in harassing the communications. At that time, however, General Nation thought the Nagas were " working down towards the plains," and on the 13th February he telegraphed an urgent requisition for a wing of Native Infantry to guard the tea gardens on the borders of Nowgong and Sibsagar, and to relieve the posts of the 42nd Assam Light Infantry on the Golaghat road. Not a single man of the Assam Battalions, said the General, could be spared to protect the plantations scattered along the foot of the hills on the southern edge of the Brahmaputra valley. Moreover, " the line of telegraph was advancing towards Kohima, and the construction parties required guards and escorts. Work had also commenced on the road, and the police could not furnish sufficient escorts. The line of communication was a very long one ( over one hundred miles), and in some parts a dangerous one, necessitating guards at frequent intervals, and strong escorts for convoys and daks." Hitherto, the want of supplies at the front had militated against bringing up more troops, but this difficulty was now somewhat diminished, and the General hoped, as soon as he was reinforced by the detachments of the 42nd Assam Light Infantry, holding the posts below, to be able to collect a small striking force, and put a speedy end to all resistance.
text: The Commander-in-Chief, in forwarding Brigadier General Nation's telegrams to the Government of India, remarked that a wing of the 18th Native Infantry had been ordered to Cachar, but that the Baladhun raiders having returned to the hills, a less force would probably suffice. He therefore proposed to send the weak wing ( It will be remembered that a company from this wing had reinforced the left wing, which was transferred from Dacca to Shillong at the end of December.) of the 10th Native Infantry from Barrackpore to (53) Cachar, and to place the wing of the 18th Native Infantry, previously destined for that place, at the disposal of General Nation.
text: His Excellency's proposals having been approved, orders were issued accordingly.