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: raid on Baladhun Tea Garden by Khonoma Nagas
medium: reports
person: Blyth/ Mr.Mainwaring/ Mr
location: Baladhun T.G. Dixia
date: 27.1.1880
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: (29) APPENDIX H.
text: 27TH JANUARY 1880.
text: The special correspondent of the 'Englishman' writes from East Cachar, January 28th 1880-
text: About 7 o'clock last evening the Nagas suddenly swooped down on the Baladhun Tea Factory, and in less than an hour the place was a waste of smouldering ashes.
text: The garden is about 25 miles east of Silchar, and about six from Labac Bazar. Immediately beyond it is a wilderness of primeval jungle, through which is the chief entrance on this side to the Naga Hills, the track running through the garden, within a few yards of the bungalow, which crowned a small tilah, immediately behind which are other tilahs. There is no garden or other open land beyond, and the next garden to it is Dixia, some two miles nearer Labac Bazar.
text: The manager ( a Mr. Blyth), according to the story of his khansamah, had just dined, and was ordering tea, when, hearing a disturbing noise outside, he went to an open window or doorway and asked the cause thereof; but before he had finished speaking, a shot was fired, and the khansamah saw his master falling backwards, and suddenly the startling war cry peculiar to the Nagas was raised, and a rush of armed Nagas was made round and inside the bungalow, and all at once the place was swarming with them. He estimated the number at from 250 to 400; but from his own showing he had then, not unnaturally, become so alarmed and panic-stricken that he instantly dropped the tea things, and, in company with his fellows, bolted from the place, so no reliance can be placed on his version. The Nagas were next seen rushing madly about with blazing torches in their hands, setting fire to the factory buildings and to the coolie lines, which were speedily transformed into a blazing sea of fire. Having done this devil's work, they returned to the bungalow, looted and set fire to it, and then they retreated into their wilds and fastnesses.
text: The news soon reached Dixia, and the Manager, Mr. Mainwaring, had much difficulty in trying to calm and prevent his coolies from bolting. He very pluckily stuck to his post, and succeeded in keeping most, if not all, of his terror-smitten people together, through the anxious night, for which conduct he deserves the highest praise. He sent information of the dreadful affair - so much as he heard of it - to his immediate neighbours only a few miles off, on receipt of which they were soon galloping to his place; but dawn had already broken, and when Dixia was reached and reliable information obtained there of the awful deed that had been done, it was seen that everything, as regarded Baladhun, was ended, and the wreck complete; and so a short halt was made, during which special messengers were sent with letters to the authorities in Silchar, and telegrams to Calcutta. This being done, a start was ordered for the scene on which the savage vengeance had been wrecked with such success. In the interval two or three more Europeans arrived, and all cantered to Baladhun. Coming in view of the lines, factory, and bungalow sites, we at once saw before us too true a confirmation of what the people had told us at Dixia. Only one or two isolated lines ( which had not been inhabited) were left. Everything else was burnt to the ground. Bungalow, factory buildings, coolie lines, all were a waste of smouldering ashes. On reaching the place of the bungalow the most horrible sight we had yet seen met our eyes. It was the roasted and blackened trunk of the unfortunate Manager's body, with the decapitated head a few feet from it - or rather the skull, for, like the body, it was also roasted and blackened. These sad remains were carefully encased and sent to Silchar for interment. The iron safe lay amongst the burning ruins, wrenched open at both ends; but an interior compartment had escaped notice, and on being opened, was found to contain about Rs.130 and some articles of jewellery.
text: We next proceeded to where the lines had been, and amongst the burning ashes we saw in all, the charred bodies of five coolies, some burnt almost to a mass of cinders, and others, much less so; but these latter were horribly contorted. In addition to these some ten or eleven bodies were found lying about in the jungle close to the lines, all having been speared to death. We saw, also, the roasted remains of several cows and one or two ponies, and more horrible still one or two cows, and at least one pony were seen crawling about in a frightfully burnt condition ! The whole was a horribly sickening scene and a complete wreck; and such, surely, as none but the veriest of devils in human form could have perpetrated.