صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

was

put in command of the force, Mossi country—but fortunateand ordered to march rapidly ly discretion prevailed. Lieufrom Fort Goldie towards tenant Glossop kept his temper, Kiama, and hoist the English treated the insults with conflag wherever the tricolour was temptuous silence, and made a not flying

detour round the Senegalese, Striking to the north-west, who made no further attempt Colonel Willcocks occupied the to interfere with him. village of Adube, and thence After these events, Colonel detached a party with orders to Willcocks proceeded, in accordmarch north in the direction of ance with his instructions, to Bussa. An important village make a tour of the southern named Timanji was found where border of Borgu, inspecting the no flag was flying, and the detachments of the West India union - jack

therefore Regiment and the Lagos Hausa hoisted and a small garrison Force posted on the northern left there. In the meanwhile frontier of Yorubaland. This angry protests came in from the he did with remarkable rapidity, French officers in command at covering from twenty to thirty the different posts.

It was miles a-day, though the country thought necessary to strengthen is difficult, full of rivers, none the small party left at Timanji, of which are bridged, and the and a reinforcement was sent climate, always deadly, is at its up under Lieutenants Glossop worst in the season of the rains, and Mangles. On their way which were then beginning. they had to pass a village But another incident which where was a small detachment threatened to be critical took of Senegalese with two white place at a small village near sergeants. These people or- Kishi called Betekuta. There dered the party to stop; but was no flag here, and though being in a minority, were con- it was scarcely more than a tent with heaping insults on cluster of rambling farmhouses, the Hausas and their officers. the union - jack was Reliefs were left in Timanji, and But a night or two later a Lieutenant Mangles stayed in detachment of the French came charge of them; but Lieutenant in and hoisted their flag also, Glossop, returning with the rest under the cover of darkness. of the detachment, had again Colonel Willcocks immediately to pass through the French sent to Lieutenant Loissu (in post. This time the Senegalese command at Kiama) to protest, had numbers in their favour, and demand that it should and they were drawn up across be hauled down. The French the path with fixed bayonets. officer then declared that the The officers on each side had it English were terrorising the practically in their power to country, and that Betekuta had bring on a European war—and implored his protection. This this is only one instance of the of

denied, and risks that were run continu- Colonel Willcocks sent word to ally for a matter of six months say that if the French flag both in Borgu and in the remained in Betekuta he would

run up.

was

course

copy of

come and hoist the English one muzzle - loaders. They would at exactly the same distance, assuredly have found out their 500 yards, from the French in mistake, to their great cost, for Kiama, which was a town of care had been taken to concenimportance. Lieutenant Loissu, trate a force at this point, where who had only a handful of men, the crisis must come, sufficient had no means of stopping the to assure the result in case of English force of three hundred collision. Just before the limit rifles from doing this; but he of time had expired, an express petitioned for six days' post- reached the French officer at ponement till he should have Kiama, carrying a time to consult his chief, M. a Havas telegram which had Demoulin, who was at Nikki. been sent overland from CarThis was not at first granted, notville by relays of galloping but was ultimately conceded, in horsemen. The telegram stated deference to French suscep

a Convention was just bilities, since the knowledge of about to be signed, and that the ultimatum had leaked out the imminent collision must be among the natives, and there avoided. In view of this telewas no desire to inflict on them gram, Lieutenant Loissu urged a gratuitous humiliation. But that action should be suspended. in the interval a hundred Sene- But the English replied that galese were thrown by a rapid they had no similar instructions movement into Kiama.

from their Government, though The fact was that the French they were in direct telegraphic meant to fight. The Niger communication with London, Company's troops had been and, consequently, insisted that despatched in February on the union-jack must go up in forced march to Argungu, then Kiama, as Lieutenant Loissu hurried back to the Niger, and absolutely refused to remove sent to act as a field force before the tricolour from Betekuta. they could have their clothing The force advanced in fighting renewed; and they were, after order to Kiama, the waterthree months of hard marching jackets of the Maxims were in African bush, a very

un- filled, and there was every exkempt, ragged-looking body of pectation of a fight. French

They were armed with sentries were discovered posted Sniders, and it seems that the in the trees, but no shot was French mistook these for the fired, and the union-jack was muzzle-loading guns known on hoisted 500 yards distant from the coast as “long Danes." the tricolour. Consequently M. Loissu and That was practically the end. his officers, having a well- The English settled themselves grounded confidence in their down in camp at Kiama, and Senegalese as fighting men, did, as English officers always were prepared to match a hun- do, their best to make themdred of them, armed with re- selves happy and to live at peating rifles, against what peace with their neighbours. they took to be mob of It was represented to the raw scallywags fighting with French officers that the quar

a

men.

a

was

to say

rel was between Governments, replied that the French were not between individuals : a race welcome to leave their men unmeeting was got up, with an til they should have been able event for Frenchmen only ; but to remove their stores, but that as it was on Waterloo day, and he should not refrain from the event

called “the moving British troops through Waterloo cup” by an undiplo- the rest of the country, since it matic soldier, no Frenchman was now British.

This was would enter! Still, when news simply a civil way of saying of the Convention signed at that they would hold the lines Paris on 14th July 1898 came of communication between the in, and it was found that the French base and these posts, French had to evacuate every and thus that M. Ricour would fort in Borgu of which posses- be beholden to the English for sion had been actually disputed all escorts between him and —the conventional line of de- this portion of his command. marcation fell a little east of Also it was highly probable, Nikki—they were very bitter: seeing the feeling of the natives they said that France had once towards the French, that when more been humiliated by Eng- the British flag replaced the land, and all the other things tricolour all through the counthat French officers in such try, a rising might take place, circumstances are accustomed directed against the scattered

As a matter of fact, and disconnected remnants of they had done surprisingly well the force which had dealt so on the bargain, though their severely with the Baribas; or positive gains were greater on at least, that the small French the Gold Coast frontier than in garrisons, discredited in the Borgu. But, with feelings as eyes of the natives, would owe they were, the business of ar- their safety to British bayonets. ranging for evacuation and oc- At all events, the French troops cupation was somewhat ticklish. were immediately withdrawn; Colonel Ricour, on receiving his the English, who on receipt of instructions, wrote a courteous the news marched without loss letter expressing his willingness of a moment to Bussa, arrived

at once, in accordance in the night and found the with the clause of the Conven- French prepared to leave the tion stipulating immediate evac- next morning, and were uation by either side of territory cellently received by them. On which now fell to the other; the southern border, a mistake but asked leave to retain his in the map issued in illustration posts for some time in the three of the Convention led to an intowns of Illo, Bussa, and Ki- cident comic rather than serious, ama, where (he said) there were which began with the bloodlarge quantities of military less capture of a French native stores. Now, to hold these officer by some of our Hausas, three important towns was and ended with mutual apolopractically to hold the entire gies and courtesies between the country; but the request was English and French commandnot refused. Colonel Lugarding officers.

to go

ex

In so

Such is the story of how a may be swimming there too. European war was prevented Twelve hours after they set by the tact of those on the spot, out, the company was at Fort though there was no flinching Goldie. or hesitation on the part of our The newly raised troops were officers, who carried out their actually employed on active serdifficult orders, and forced the vice twice in the course of the crisis which resulted in the Con- last year,—first, on the expedivention. Their immediate task tion sent, under the command —that of repelling French ag- of Lieut. - Colonel Pilcher, to gression on the Niger Company's reduce Lapai, an important frontier and the hinterland of Hausa town not far from the Lagos-ended when the Con- left bank of the Niger; and vention was signed. But the secondly, in a smaller affair work they did stands, and may undertaken to punish the murbe the germ of much.

derers of a British officer near far as concerned the definite Illo. But neither of these expurpose for which it was raised, peditions led to any serious the West African Frontier fighting, though the Lapai busiForce happily did not need to ness at one time threatened to prove its efficiency in fight; be as serious as that with Bida but it was proved in other and Illórin ; and they were reways beyond a possibility of garded by the officers and men question. For instance, on one rather in the light of a pleasant occasion it happened that, to break in the monotony of the meet an emergency, a company year's real work. That has of of Lieut. - Colonel Fitzgerald's course consisted in the drilling, battalion, commanded by Cap- organisation, and housing of the tain Freemantle (of the Cold- force. When the 2nd battastream Guards), was ordered lion moved and occupied the to march immediately from island of Jebba, they were Jebba to Fort Goldie, twenty- obliged at first simply to camp six miles distant. The order in tents. Then the ground had was given at midnight; two to be cleared; the men were told hours later the men were or off to build their own lines, and the march. Half-a-dozen river, likewise grass huts and a grass affluents of the Niger, had t mess - hut were built for the be crossed, and they were an officers and non-commissioned in flood. It was still night officers. Not till August was when they reached the first the river high enough to bring river, swollen beyond all possi- up stores by steamer to Jebba ; bility of fording it. Lieu- but the material for houses was tenant Buxton of the Norfolk landed at Lokoja, and LieuRegiment swam it, searched tenant M'Clintock with his the other bank, and found a company

of

sappers was busily canoe in which the men were engaged in setting them up. ferried over. Swimming flood- The type adopted consisted of a streams in the dark is not mason - work foundation, upon pleasant work when crocodiles which were placed iron pillars

the re

any

set in concrete, and on these fair results. The men are armed pillars the wooden houses were with Lee-Metfords, and the little put up,- for it is found that bush - fighting that was done malaria hangs about low, and it against Lapai and elsewhere is an advantage to sleep some proved the superiority of the distance above the ground. hard bullet over that used in When the river rose,

the Sniders. The soft bullet maining stores went to Jebba is apt to break up when volleys and the engineers with them; are fired into bush where natives though by that time the 2nd are hiding; but the Lee-Metford battalion and Royal Artillery projectiles went through the were so comfortably settled in

cover so completely that the the grass huts that they hardly hidden party always ran before desired the change.

The soi

our men could get close. The diers, who before had been three batteries of gunners also, employed in building, now were under Major Robinson, have turned on to the new fatigue arrived at a considerable degree duty of carrying timber and of competence, and, in short, the other materials from the land force has become effective. ing - place; and besides the It has not been without cost. fatigue duty drill went on un- Europeans working hard under ceasingly. At half - past five service conditions in hot A.M. every day there would be climate must always be liable réveillé; officers dressed to an to a heavy mortality, and accompaniment of jabbering although the climate in these from the parade-ground as the regions of the Niger is less disnever-silent negroes assembled ; agreeable than that of many at six “Fall in ” would sound, places in India, it has proved and from half-past six to eight deadly. The mortality at Lowas parade. Then after break- koja, which is near the juncfast, from nine to ten, came drill tion of the Niger and Benué, for recruits, and till twelve, when where the land at the confluthe men had their mid-day meal, ence

ence is submerged at high various fatigue duties. Then Niger, has been greater than came sleep, and again, from four that at Jebba, which lies to six, parade, and by the end farther up - stream, with no of that Europeans had had stagnant water about; but enough of it. Always, too, even at Jebba it has been during the day there would be heavy. Still, the country is a musketry practice, an uphill very different one from the business, for the negro is slow coast with its mangrove in learning how to shoot; but swamps, which Mr Harold the perseverance of his instruc- Bindloss has

Bindloss has so vividly detors has got the better of his scribed in his book on the incapacity, and up to 400 yards Niger Delta. The situation of volley-firing is done with very Lokoja, lying at the confluence

Wm. Blackwood & Sons,

In the Niger Country. By Harold Bindloss. Edinburgh and London : 1898.

« السابقةمتابعة »