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: Colonel Johnstone's march from Manipur to Kohima
caption: Colonel Johnstone's diary
medium: reports
person: Johnstone/ Col.
date: 24.10.1879-30.10.1879
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: Political Diary of the Manipur Agent for the week ending Thursday, the 30th October 1879.
text: Friday, 24th October 1879.- Marched to Mythephum, twenty miles, but at this time of the year, before the jungle has been burned, a terrible march. Coolies and 34th Native Infantry knocked up completely, police less so.
text: Saturday, 25th October 1879.- Rear guard reached this early this morning.
text: Much to my disgust I am obliged to halt today as the Manipuris have not arrived, and coolies are much too tired with three forced marches to go on without a rest. I hear, too, that the Nagas intend to oppose us, and we have been warned by the Manipur Nagas that their own villages on the road are infected and not to be depended on. I therefore think I am not justified in yielding to the impulse to move on with my small party alone. Tomorrow I hope to go with 300 or 400 Manipuris. About 11 A.M. I received two telegrams via Cachar, by which I see that on the 19th Damant's death was known at head-quarters.
text: (23) Sunday, 26th October 1879.- Left Mythephum at daybreak and marched to Koijami the Khazamah of the maps, and Tangal Chufoosaba of the Manipuris. Scenery by the way magnificent. At about 3 P.M. one of my emissaries came up telling me that Viswema was friendly and preparing a present for me. I sent him back with a message that if friendly they must make submission or I would destroy the village. I hear that it is not well disposed, and has throughout been allied with Khonoma.
text: It is said we are to be opposed tomorrow.
text: Late in the afternoon the Mao men brought in seven Nepaulese coolies who had escaped from Kohima yesterday and wandered through the jungles expecting every moment to be killed. I gave the Mao men Rs. 20 as a present.
text: The Nepaulese told me that they had been shut outside by mistake, and had hidden themselves and so got away. They gave a deplorable account of affairs, and said there was no food, and ammunition almost all spent. Two ladies inside the fort,- Mrs. Damant and Mrs. Cawley.
text: According to their account, Damant was surprised much in the same way that Butler was, and fifty men killed on the spot, and thirty ran away into the jungles, some saving their arms, others not. Each man had fifty rounds of ball cartridge. Most of the rifles taken were breech loaders. The men said that early this morning they saw smoke rising from Kohima, and thought it might have been burned. I was very anxious about this, as the men said that Mr. Cawley was treating for a safe passage to Samaguting. Later on in the evening I heard that a building inside the fort had been burned last night by the Nagas, throwing stones wrapped up in burning stuff at the thatched building. The Nagas are said to number 6,000, a great exaggeration I expect, and they have erected a stockade from behind which they fire.
text: The Nepaulese were in a miserable state of semi-starvation.
text: Monday, 27th October 1879.- We slept on our arms and fully accoutred last night. From 3 A.M., at which time the Nagas often make an attack, the men got up,- if indeed they can be said to have had any sleep. At sunrise I received a little slip of paper from Mr. Hinde, brought by two Nepaulese who had managed to escape, stating that the garrison was in the last extremity and water cut off. The Manipuris were not quite ready, so I set off at once with only fifty of them and my own party, numbered 66.
text: The road was in a dreadful state, but as I had sent on ahead to threaten any village en route that might molest our march we got on safely and passed the large village of Viswema without any mishap. After passing it, I met three Nagas with another miniature letter from Mr. Hinde, begging for speedy relief. We marched incessantly, and though threatened with an attack, reached Kohima with our ammunition at 4 P.M., being most enthusiastically greeted by all the garrison. Mr. Hinde and Mr. Cawley have made a noble defence under terrible obstacles, and the conduct of Mrs. Damant and Mrs. Cawley has been truly heroic, they having been ceaseless in their devotion to the sick and women and children. Kohima, which was first permanently occupied in November 1878, when Samaguting, the old station in the Naga Hills, was abandoned, is situated on the slope of the hill, the summit of which is occupied by the large village of that name, and which contains 1,000 houses. The houses were enclosed in two weak stockades, offering the most miserable defence. On the news of Mr. Damant's murder at Khonoma to which village he had gone to ask for assistance in carrying provisions, being received, Mr. Cawley, the Assistant in charge, at once set to work to strengthen the defences, and sent to Woka, a small station 63 miles off, to ask Mr. Hinde, the Assistant there, to bring up his small detachment of 50 men. Mr. Hinde immediately set off with his men, and on the 19th arrived at Kohima, after a march through hostile country beset by every danger and difficulty, which nothing but the greatest skill and intrepidity could have overcome. I should mention that from the evening of the 14th October, when Mr. Cawley was attacked , he wisely abandoned and destroyed the small stockade as untenable. Every day the Nagas became bolder, and every day death and sickness weakened the little garrison, which still held out. Numerous attempts were made to fire the thatched buildings, and to save general conflagration some of these were unroofed under a heavy fire. The water supply was cut off, and the only small spring that remained poisoned, and the head of a murdered man flung in it. Mena Ram, Inspector of Police, nobly seconded the efforts of the two above-mentioned officers. The total number saved, 3 officers, 2 ladies, 2 European children, 538 natives.
text: No. 17A., dated Kohima, the 2nd November 1879.