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: surrender of one Jotsoma khel; decision to blockade the Chaka forts
medium: reports
person: Abbott/ Capt.MacGregor/ Lt.Mansel/ Lt.Changama khel/ Jotsoma
location: Jotsoma Lemhema (Lemhama) Pulomi (Paplongmai)
date: 21.2.1880-26.2.1880
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: On the 21st February the final submission of one of the two hostile Khels of Jotsoma was accepted, as has been already related. They gave up eight firearms, viz.:- one snider, three enfields, one carbine, and three others. The Changama Khel did not surrender till the 1st of March. The number of firearms surrendered by Jotsoma ( eighteen) seems very small; but the Khels gave cattle as security to be forfeited should others be found in their possession. After the submission of Jotsoma only three out of the thirteen communities originally in arms continued to hold out, namely Konoma, the Chitonoma Khel of Kohima, and Sephima. Thirty one firearms in all had been surrendered up to date.
text: Bad weather about this time impeded the bringing up of supplies, caused great discomfort among the troops, and increased sickness. Scurvy had also made its appearance, owing to the want of fresh vegetables and mutton.
text: On the 21st February a sepoy of the 43rd was killed by Nagas lurking in the vicinity of Kohima, and a constable of the frontier police severely wounded.
text: To discover the paths by which the Nagas in Chaka received supplies of food from the Eastern Angami country, Lieutenant Macgregor, Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General, was sent out on the 22nd February with an escort of fifty rifles to reconnoitre the country between the Chaka spur and Kigwima. While so engaged he discovered and surprised two parties of Nagas, carrying supplies, and dispersed them, inflicting a loss of five killed and wounded. The supplies, including livestock, fell into the hands of the party; also seventeen spears left behind by the Nagas in their flight. The General reports that in making this reconnaissance, Lieutenant Macgregor's detachment ( details of the 43rd and 44th Native Infantry) marched thirty miles consecutively- a " most noteworthy march considering the country traversed." On the same date detachments of the 42nd Assam Light Infantry from Udalgiri and Tezpur joined the force on relief by the 10th Native Infantry.
text: On the 26th February General Nation telegraphed to the Quarter Master General in India that his only means of bringing the Konoma Nagas to terms appeared to be by a strict blockade, and that the Chaka forts cold not be stormed except at an enourmous sacrifice of life. This opinion was fortified by a reconnaissance made by Lieutenant Macgregor, Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General on the 27th. Lieutenant Macgregor traversed the whole length of the Basoma ridge, and after observing the Chaka position, as carefully as possible, arrived at the same conclusions as Lieutenant Mansel had previously done, namely, that no position for the guns could be found nearer to the enemy's entrenchments than fourteen or fifteen hundred yards, and that a direct assault from the north or east was a very hazardous, if not wholly impracticable, operation. Where the spur joined Barel on the south, the main range descended abruptly to its offshoot in a mass of crags and precipices, presenting no path to an assailant, nor even, as it appeared, to the Nagas themselves, should they be hemmed in on the other three sides. On the west side only was it just possible that an assault might be attempted. In this direction a woody spur jutted out some five hundred yards, at the extremity of which was a bare knoll whose sides sloped easily down to the valley below. Lieutenant Macgregor's guide, a Gaon Bura or headman of Jotsoma, informed him that the men of Mozima could, if they liked, point out a comparatively easy way by which the Chaka intrenchments might be attacked.
text: In the meantime nothing whatever had been heard of Captain Abbott and his detachment. Writing on the 1st March the General reports: " I have heard nothing from Captain Abbott since 17th February. ( On this day he was at a place called Lemhama.) Messengers have been sent to him, but have not yet returned. He should have been at Paplongmai a week ago, and I am quite unable to account for his delay. Until Captain Abbott reaches Paplongmai, I cannot commence the strict blockade which I contemplate. The arrival at Golaghat of the wing 18th Native Infantry will enable me to (54) bring up more men to the front, and I have every hope that by closing up all avenues of approach to the Chaka Forts, and so cutting off all means of supply, the enemy will be speedily compelled to surrender." ( No. 100, Movements, Field Operations, dated Kohima, 1st March 1880.)
text: On the 4th March the General found himself able to detach a party of fifty rifles, 43rd Assam Light Infantry, under a Native officer, to Kigwima. This detachment was to take up a position commanding the paths which Lieutenant Macgregor's reconnaissances had shown to be those used by the Nagas for obtaining supplies from the eastern villages.