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: Shipvomah refuse to talk; description of yesterday's attempt to parley and the ensuing fight; most of Shipvomah burnt
medium: tours
person: Mema Ram/ Insp.Thomson/ Col.Terelho
location: Shipvomah
date: 2.2.1873
person: Butler/ John
date: 22.11.1870-17.2.1873
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 2nd February. Halted and tried to induce the Shipvomah men to come in to have a talk with me but although they were prowling about all day round the village evidently on the look out to cut off stragglers, and I several times called out to them promising that any spokesman who they might send in would be permitted to return to them untouched, and although I sent out a message to them to the same effect by some Nagas of Zemai who had voluntarily come in this morning to make friends with me, yet I could not induce them to come in and the consequences was we had to keep a sharp look out all day. In the evening whilst patrolling round the village with a couple of constables I surprised a part of five of them close to our position who bolted immediately they caught sight of us leaving behind a spear which I brought in. During the day I had a long conversation both with my Inspector Mema Ram and with Colonel Thomson, regarding the commencement of yesterdays' and it appears that on arriving about l/4 of a mile from the village Mema Ram was met by two of the Shipvomah Nagas who came out and told him that they would not allow him to proceed on any further - upon hearing which he had explained to them that we were not coming to do them any harm and only wished to encamp at their village for the night. The two Nagas then told him not to proceed on any further and they would go back and consult about it. This Mema Ram consented to do and halted. He also sent Terelhoo one of my Dobashas back with these two men telling him to explain matters to the Shipvomah men and at the same time sent backward to tell us what had occurred. In about l/4 of an hour after this Terelho came running back and informed Mema Ram that the villagers had all declared they would fight and were preparing to attack us. Whilst still talking with Terelho, Colonel Thomson (who hearing that a row was impending and having met some Naga coolies bolting down the hill had hastened on) most fortunately came up and recalled one of the spokesmen and this man was at once joined by a second Naga fully armed who suddenly turned up from the jungle on the right. Colonel Thomson then fully explained to these two men through the Dobashas that our intentions were most pacific and that all we wanted was to halt in their village for the night and that we also might want a little rice for which we would gladly pay them whatever they wanted. He also mentioned to them the many villages through which we had passed in peace in order to prove to them that they had nothing whatever to fear from us but all in vain and the only reply he could get out of them was "you can go to the right or left but you shall not go through our village". The direction to the right and left to which they pointed was precipitious Khuds covered with dense jungle on either side and as he could hear the voices of Nagas assembling on either side of him he of course declined to comply with the request which in all probability would have led to our utter destruction and so told the Nagas that it was our intention to proceed straight on up the road we were following and that they had better allow us to pass in peace as all the other villages had done and thinking that they might perhaps acknowledge the power of the Manipur Raj he also informed them that he was the "Manipuri Saheb and they might rely upon his taking care that they were not injured in any way" but their only reply was "we do not care who you are, neither Saheb nor Manipuri has ever yet entered our village and we will take care that they never do enter it". On hearing this Colonel Thomson at once sent off the bugler to the rear to sound the "alarm" and "assembly" and was cogitating how he might prolong the parley until I arrived when suddenly the two spokesmen above alluded to were called back by a voice from the jungle and on their returning a large party of Nagas fully armed with shield and spear appeared in front as if by magic and raising their warcry, a terrific yelling more like the howls of wild beasts than the shouts of human beings, they charged down upon him. He ordered the guard to come to be ready and thus waited in hopes of their falling back even at the last moment but as soon as they arrived within about 25 paces off, seeing they were determined upon rushing on he fired into them. The volley had the desired effect and staggered them and although some still came on a few paces the main body turned and after a moments hesitation they all fled up the hill and it was at that juncture that I arrived on the scene after which as I said before we opened out as skirmishers and took the village.
text: We have had showers of rain on and off all day and the sky looks very threatening tonight, so I am afraid we are in for another nasty night of it. By the way I counted the number of houses today and found that Shipvomah contains 167 houses but nearly all have been destroyed and besides the one occupied by us I do not think there are more than 10 or l2 others standing untouched, a sad spectacle to contemplate, however as the Nagas had removed the greater portion of their grain beforehand, evidently quite prepared for us their loss has not been so severe as one might otherwise suppose it to have been.