The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts on Nagas from 'Assam Administration Report'

caption: the hills districts
caption: Historical Summary
caption: Advance to Kohima
medium: reports
person: Carnegy/ MrKeatinge/ ColBlyth/ MrDamant/ MrJohnstone/ Col.
ethnicgroup: AngamiArungHatigoria
location: Gumaigaju Mezema (Mezuma) Kohima Jotsoma Khonoma Japvo Mt. Baladhan T.G.
date: 1877
date: 1881
date: 1892
date: 1893
date: 1877-1881
text: 101. In February 1877 the Angami Nagas of Mezuma raided upon the Arung Naga village of Gumaigaju in the heart of North Cachar killing 6 and wounding 2 persons. The cause of the attack was a feud thirty years old. With this exception, no raid had been committed by Angami Nagas within British territory since 1866 although there were numerous complaints of their depredations in Manipur, and their internal feuds were as always incessant. The village of Mezuma refused to give up the raiders and in the cold weather of 1877-78 an expedition was sent against it by which the village was burned. Mr. Carnegy, the Political Officer, was accidentally killed by a sentry of his own party while occupying Mezuma. These events led to a review of the position which we occupied in the hills and in 1878 it was determined by Colonel Keatinge after a visit to the country, to abandon Samaguting, a low and unhealthy site on the extreme edge of the Angami country, and to fix the future headquarters of the Political Officer at Kohima in the midst of the group of powerful villages which it was specially necessary to control. This selection was approved by the Government of India in March 1878 and by the end of the next cold weather the transfer from Samaguting to Kohima was completed.
text: In the course of the rains of 1879, indications of coming trouble began to present themselves, but no serious apprehensions were entertained by the Political Officer, Mr. Damant, who had planned an expedition during the cold weather into the Hatigoria country to the east of the Doyong. Before starting on this, however, he resolved to visit the powerful villages of Jotsoma, Khonoma and Mezuma to ascertain their disposition and whether he might safely leave Kohima. On the 14th October he arrived at Khonoma and leaving half his escort of 21 sepoys and 65 police with his baggage at the foot of the hill, he advanced with the other half up the narrow path leading to the strong-fortified village site. The gate of the village was found closed and as Mr. Damant stood before it, he was shot dead. A volley was then poured into his escort who turned and fled down the hill. The Nagas followed and dispersed the troops and police who endeavoured by twos and threes to escape to Kohima. Of the military accompanying Mr. Damant, 10 were killed and 5 wounded; of the police, 25 were killed and 14 wounded.
text: When this news reached Kohima, preparations were made to resist the attack. The subdivisional officer was summoned from Wokha, 57 miles distant, and arrived with his force of sepoys and police on the 19th October. The stockade was besieged by the Nagas from the 16th to the 27th when the garrison who were reduced to great straits for want of food and water, were relieved and the siege was raised by the arrival of Colonel Johnstone, Political Agent of Manipur with a force of 2,000 Manipuri troops and his own escort of 30 sepoys and a few police.
text: A campaign against the Nagas then ensued in which the 42nd and 44th Regiments with a wing of the 18th Native Infantry and a detachment of the 43rd Native Infantry took part, and which lasted till March 1880. Khonoma was taken on the 22nd November 1879 but the defenders retreated to a very strong position above the village on a spur of Japvo where they maintained themselves until the end of the campaign. Jotsoma was captured on the 27th November and every one of the 13 villages which had entered into the coalition against us was either occupied or destroyed. The most notable event of the war, however, was the daring raid made in January 1880 by a party of Khonoma men from the fort above the village, at the time beleaguered by our troops, upon the tea garden of Baladhan in Cachar, more than 80 miles distant, where they killed the manager, Mr. Blyth, and 16 coolies, plundered what they could and burned everything in the place.
text: On the 27th March the fort above Khonoma submitted and the war was at an end. Fines in grain, cash and labour were imposed upon those villages which took part against us. The Nagas were made to surrender the firearms they were known to possess and in some instances the removal of a village from a fortified and inaccessible crest to a site below was directed. Khonoma was razed to the ground and its site occupied by an outpost. From all villages an agreement was taken to pay revenue in the shape of 1 maund of rice and 1 rupee per house, to provide a certain amount of labour annually for State purposes, and to appoint a headman who should be responsible for good order and for carrying out the wishes of Government.
text: After the close of this, the twelfth and last, expedition, the question of the policy to be adopted in dealing with the Nagas was submitted by the Chief Commissioner to the Government of India who in February 1881 finally decided that our position at Kohima should be retained, that a regiment should be permanently stationed in the hills, and that the district should be administered as British territory. Since that date the history of the district has been one of the progressive establishment of peace and good order and the quiet submission of the Nagas to our rule.