The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

printed - tour diary of the Deputy Commissioner of the Naga Hills for the year 1870-1872 (John Butler) volume two

caption: attack on Gaziphemah injures little girl; Colonel Thomson and advance party attacked by Nagas of Shipvomah; Shipvomah taken, but later attempt to retake village by setting fire to it
medium: tours
person: Muna Ram/ Insp.Thomson/ Col.OgleAustinLuvinen
location: Shipvomah
date: 1.2.1873
person: Butler/ John
date: 22.11.1870-17.2.1873
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 1st February. Moved camp today to Shipoomah. Before starting I went to see an unfortunate little girl about five years of age who had been speared through the back last night by a party of Khomahs who taking advantage of the present crippled state of Gaziphemah threw six spears into one of the rough huts in which the Gaziphemah men are now putting up, crying out as they did so "thats from Khomas". Strange to say that although the hut was filled by the several members of the [family?] six or seven in number this little child alone was injured. The wound is undoubtedly a very sever one, but I think she will recover as the spear seems to have passed over the ribs and not under them. I am sorry to have to record today that I am sorry we have at last had a row with the Nagas and have been compelled to fight for our safety. It happened thus; we had all halted at a stream about 2 miles below the hill on which Shipoomah is situated in order to have breakfast, after which Inspector Muna Ram had proceeded on with the advanced guard and greater portion of the coolies and was followed by Colonel Thomson who owing to his not being able to walk as fast as we can went on ahead of Austin, Ogle and myself who stayed behind to finish our cheroots. About l/4 of an hour after Thomson had left us we also commenced leisurely to ascend the hill but before we had gone very far I was met by Luvinen one of my Naga Dabashas and several of my Naga coolies who came running down in a great state of excitement and told me that the Nagas of Shipvomah had turned out in overwhelming numbers and had surrounded my advance guard and coolies, etc. etc. I at once called out to Austin who was following me a few hundred yards lower down the hill and told him that we were in for a row and begging him and Ogle to come on as fast as they could. I hastened on to the front but before I had got very far I heard the "alarm" followed by the "assembly" which was very shortly repeated and almost immediately after succeeded by a rapid succession of shots. This made me rush on faster than ever and I very shortly overtook, first the main body of the coolies halted under an escort of some 10 or l2 constables and then Colonel Thomson and the advance guard extended across the road. From Colonel Thomson I learnt that the Nagas had charged down upon him en masse and had only been put to flight by his firing a volley to them when they had retired into the jungles where we could still hear them shouting when I came up. After waiting a few minutes we were rejoined by Austin and Ogle and we then extended out as skirmishers. We all advanced up the hill and took the village with [32] the greatest of ease just before sunset. We then took up our position in one of the largest houses situated on one of the most commanding heights in the village and were all busily occupied in fortifying it with a rough pallisade when suddenly we discovered that the village had been set fire to on the opposite side. At first I thought this had been done by some of our own Naga coolies but it appeared that none of them had up to that time been able to penetrate so far in that direction and on enquiry it seemed that this had been done by the Shipromah Nagas themselves in order to drive us out of the strong position we had taken up in hope probably that if they could only force us into the jungles they would be enabled to surround and cut us up, however we saw through this little game at once and immediately set to work to destroy all the houses in our neighbourhood so as to prevent the fire reaching us and thus saved ourselves from imminent danger for had we been compelled to take to the jungles in the dark encumbered as we were with a large body of helpless coolies our situation would not have been a pleasant one. The Nagas continued however round us in every direction and so Thomson, Austin, Ogle and I kept watch all night relieving each other every hour and a half and indeed the only rest we got was in our clothes, boots and all so as to be ready to turn out at a moment's notice.
text: Whilst marching up to the village it came on to thunder and we had a slight shower of rain which has made the weather very cold.