The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: transport and supplies
caption: illness of men and animals in the transport train during the monsoon of 1880
medium: reports
person: Chambers/ Maj.
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: The transport train, both men and animals, suffered very severely during the rains of 1880. Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson after a tour of inspection in the Naga Hills reported that the train was " in about as miserable a condition as it could well be." Out of about forty syces and grass-cutters at Pherima, twenty-five were seriously ill, and sickness was increasing. At the Nichi Guard, only some thirty or forty out of one hundred and five coolies were fit for work. Out of one hundred and seven Khasias belonging to the Commissariat, only sixty remained; and one-third of these were sick. None of the invalids were likely to be fit to work again during the remainder of their engagement, and those still out of hospital were feeble and in bad health. There was little or no malingering. ( From Lieut.-Col. Robertson, to Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, East Frontier District, dated 3rd July 1880.)
text: (7) Major Chambers, Commandant of the Transport Corps, reported under date 1st July, that 100 ponies had died since the train commenced to work, out of which 52 deaths occurred in the month of June. He attributed this to the " extremely heavy state of the roads, which caused exhaustion followed by death, the animals being already in a weakly state from feeding on rank grass, full of moisture, and containing no nourishment." Lieutenant Wingate says " severe work and steep bad paths killed off many, while many others ought never to have been sent." There was a marked decrease in the number of deaths when the ponies were worked only twice or thrice a week instead of daily." ( From Major Chambers to Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, East Frontier District, No. 459, dated Kohima, 1st July 1880.)
text: Colonel Robertson recommended that the syces and coolies should be acclimatised men from the Naga Hills or adjacent districts. Unless such were engaged to relieve those at present employed, the latter would, he believed, simply die out. He also suggested that in future mules should be exclusively used for transport purposes, as being infinitely preferable to ponies. There had been little mortality among the mules in the transport train, and they were not even out of condition. ( Letter above quoted.)
text: In view of the necessities of the case, the Government of India was obliged to direct that the Naga transport should be at once made up to its full strength, and that the number should be maintained by periodical drafts to cover casualties. ( Military Department No. 5060S.T., dated Simla, 12th August 1880.)