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But as the French asserted that Nikki, not Bussa, was the capital of Borgu, it was thought advisable to despatch Captain Lugard to secure a treaty with that town.
Decœur's expedition did not make rapid progress. Borgu is a difficult country; its inhabitants, the Baribas, are a warlike, predatory people, whose chief weapon is the poisoned arrow. According to Mockler Ferryman, they came originally from Northern Africa, and profess not to be pagans, but to worship "Kisra, a Jew." At all events, their country was explored, and they had beaten back the wave of Fulah conquest which, sweeping over all the countries between Lake Tchad and the Niger, had surged across the river into Gurma and Illórin, Borgu's neighbours. Consequently, although Decœur left Dahomey before Captain Lugard sailed from England, the English officer, proceeding by water to Jebba, succeeded in organising a force, and reaching Nikki before the French. Marching by way of Kiama, he entered Nikki, and concluded a treaty there on November 10, 1894, then passed on southward to secure the Company's rights in Okuta and Ilesha. Five days later the French came on the scene. M. Ballot, governor of Dahomey, hearing of the English mission, had sent up two other expeditions. That under M. Alby was the first to arrive; M. Decoeur joined him with a strong force (whereas Captain Lugard had been accompanied only by twenty-four
men with arms, all recruits), insisted that the king of Nikki should accept the French flag, and wrote home to say that a treaty had been concluded on November 26, making no mention of Captain Lugard. Then the various French exploring parties pushed on hastily to the north, to anticipate Dr Grüner and Lieutenant von Karnap, who were on a similar errand on behalf of Germany. Flags of both colours were distributed freely through the country, and as the signing of each treaty was accompanied by a handsome gratuity, some chiefs did a profitable trade in the business. The ruler of Sansanné Mango accepted three within a space of six months.
So ended in 1895 the first "race for Borgu," in which European expeditions hunted treaties from negro chiefs. The result was somewhat to discredit all such treaties, but to strengthen the Niger Company's claim to Borgu. Whether Nikki or Bussa was the capital of Borgu might be a matter of opinion; but in each place the Company had a prior claim. The French practically recognised this by shifting their ground and attempting to secure the country by what was called "effective occupation," but in reality was open usurpation.
In the end of 1896 two expeditions were organised by M. Ballot in Dahomey: one under Lieutenant Bretonnet, whose object was Borgu and the navigable Niger; the other, under Captains Baud and Vermeersch, which was directed to interpose
between the German hinterland addition to repeated breaches and the Niger. Lieutenant of their treaties, had endeavBretonnet left Carnotville on oured to bring about a general December 28, 1896, with three rising against the Company. white officers, 100 Senegalese, They had solicited help from and a number of porters. It the king of Bussa; yet he had is noticeable that he did not not only refused it, but had advance direct to Nikki and informed the Company of the claim the benefit of the treaty: plot. At this time diplomacy on the contrary, he turned west was still slowly endeavouring from Paraku and made a cir- to solve the problem presented cuit to avoid what was theo- by the conflicting treaty claims retically a friendly town. He in Borgu, and the French Govestablished posts at Bori, Bouay, ernment represented to the and, after some skirmishing on English that if the Niger Comthe road, at Kandi. From pany had a considerable force Kandi he marched to Illo on on foot, they would be tempted the Niger, thence down-stream to strengthen their claims by to Bussa, which he entered going in and occupying Nikki. by his own account, at the Lord Salisbury's Government king's invitation-on February accordingly exacted from Sir 5, 1897. Now a great deal had George Goldie a pledge that happened since Captain Lugard he would not undertake any went out to Borgu in 1894. operations north of Jebba, The Niger Company had com- which is the head of the naviplained of the act of aggression gable Niger. Nikki is well to committed by Captain Toutée the north of this point, and in occupying Fort d'Arenberg, Bida and Illórin, the objectives and Lord Rosebery had said of the expedition, were well to definitely that the place must the south of it; and the pledge be evacuated. France yielded, France yielded, was accordingly given. Naturand Fort d'Arenberg became ally it was taken as binding Fort Goldie. Further, it was both sides to abide by the notified to France that Bussa status quo. But just as the was under British protection, brilliant campaign against the and an announcement to that Fulahs was practically decided effect was made in the 'Lon- by the victory at Bida on Janudon Gazette' in June 1895 ary 29, 1897, news came that a In the face of this, Lieutenant French expedition was at Illo, Bretonnet's entry into the and shortly after a letter from town was no less than an the king of Bussa reached Sir act of war, and the Niger George Goldie, stating that his Company would have instantly capital had been occupied, and repelled the aggression, but asking for assistance. In face their hands were tied. In the of the pledge given to Governlatter part of 1896 it had been ment, however, nothing could found necessary to organise a be done by the Company, force to punish the Fulah Emirs though they probably never of Nupe and Illórin, who, in expected that Lord Salisbury
would continue to negotiate without insisting, as a preliminary to all discussion, upon the evacuation of a town over which a previous Government had expressly declared a protectorate. Lieutenant Bretonnet remained therefore in possession of Bussa, though not in peace. He was hotly attacked by the natives; but his Senegalese fought, as they always do, admirably, and he not only held his ground but extended his conquest. After considerable bloodshed he took Wawa, a town south of Bussa, and was met there by envoys from Kiama, where also he hoisted the tricolour. But the country, though nominally occupied, was not subdued up to July: Lieutenant Bretonnet was fighting continuously against what were described as "rebellions" in in the different towns that had courted his alliance. Kishi, which lies on the direct road between Carnotville and Kiama, was occupied; but Nikki was still left untouched.
In the meantime the BaudVermeersch expedition, which had set out also in the end of 1896, had been even more fortunate than M. Bretonnet. They reached Gurma without difficulty, and had the good fortune to find the king coping with a rebellion. In return for their help, which was effectually given, he placed all Gurma under French protection this success bore fruit in the Franco-German agreement of July 1897, by which Germany resigned all her claims to a hinterland reaching to the Niger. Moving westward,
Captain Baud got into touch with Lieutenants Voulet and Chanoine, who were coming from Wagadugu: this junction of French forces despatched from countries so remote as the French Sudan and Dahomey impressed the natives considerably, and brought levies of auxiliaries flocking in. Gurma was occupied in force, and the Voulet - Chanoine expedition turned westward again, leaving Captains Baud and Vermeersch to hold their acquisition. But in August the whole Bariba country rose against the Frenchmen. Lieutenant Bretonnet's garrisons had to fall back on his main force; and reinforcements were sent up from Carnotville under Captain Ganier, who, as senior, took command at Paraku, assisted by M. Vermeersch. By November they were strong enough to advance upon the heart of the resistance, and after a battle fought somewhat to the south, on November 6 they entered Nikki, this time as victors, and hoisted the flag there on December 10, 10, and immediately opened communication with M. Bretonnet at Bussa. In the meanwhile Captain Baud, left in charge of Gurma, had struck across from Fada-N'Gurma to Say, where he met an outpost of M. Destenave's force from the French Sudan. He then proceeded to march upon Illo, whence Lieutenant Bretonnet's original post had been withdrawn. Marching south from this, he was surrounded by the Baribas; but after a severe fight he succeeded in routing them, and the country was
terrorised into submission. been declared a protectorate. The recognition of the Niger Company's treaties by the Foreign Office had sealed the acquisition to the Company under the authority of her Majesty's Government. Now the Company could not declare war upon France, and it appealed to Lord Salisbury to redress such violent usurpation of its rights. Protests lodged by him in Paris produced no practical result. Moreover, the frontier between Dahomey and the hinterland of Lagos had been delimited by joint agreement from the coast up to the ninth parallel. But from the middle of 1897 the French, entirely disregarding this arrangement, had begun to cross our frontier, striking to the east from a point considerably south of Carnotville, and arranged a line of communication with Bussa through Saki and Kishi. Lieut.-Colonel M'Callum, Governor of Lagos, at once reported this act of trespass, and was instructed to request the French to withdraw. On September 10 a French party under Lieutenant Brôt attempted to capture Ilesha, but were repulsed, and had to fall back on Saki; and on the 24th of that month, in consequence of Colonel M'Callum's prompt action, was obliged to evacuate Saki, which was at once occupied by men of the Lagos Hausa Force. A few days later Lieutenant Neale, with a detachment of the same body, occupied Igboho, on the line to Kishi. In the meantime three companies of the West India Regiment, under Lieut.
Thus by December 10, 1897, when Commandant Ricour came to take command as Governor of Upper Dahomey, the whole of Borgu as well as Gurma were in reality effectively occupied. Setting the question of international morality apart, the French officers had done their work extraordinarily well. Their troops took their supplies by force and cost nothing to keep; and they had very few of them. Three companies of Senegalese, one of Hausas hastily levied in the latter part of 1897, and two of the Dahomey police, made up the whole force at M. Ricour's disposal. In order to hold such a country with such a force, a reign of terror was imperative, and it was instituted. The soldiers were dotted about in the towns and villages in groups of half-a-dozen or less, and a white officer or noncommissioned officer went the rounds in perfect security. The Baribas were thoroughly cowed; they hated, but they were afraid. It was very different from the method in which we make war against savages, sending large expeditions and paying fair or even at times excessive prices for such goods as the natives choose to supply; but of its own kind it was an excellent piece of work.
Yet from the point of view of the British the whole thing simply amounted to this. France had occupied by force Borgu, a country which was British by prior treaty and by the 1890 agreement with France, and part, if not all, of which had
The force which it was proposed to raise amounted practically to a brigade. It was to consist of two very strong battalions of infantry, each containing 1200 men, with twentynine officers and forty-four non-commissioned officers. To each battalion was affiliated
Colonel Allen, had been ordered Yorubas, half of Hausas; and from Sierra Leone to Lagos, as the Yorubas were the easier and by November 15 two to get, recruiting began at companies were at Saki. But Ibádan. On November 27, it was thought necessary, since Lieut. - Colonel Pilcher sailed diplomacy proved ineffectual, from London to raise the 1st to make a further show of battalion, taking with him his force in West Africa. In European staff, which consisted October 1897 Colonel Lugard of one captain (commander), was recalled from South Africa two subalterns, and five nonto organise a force (to be commissioned officers to each called the West African Fron- of the eight companies of tier Force) which should have which the battalion was to its headquarters in Nigeria. be composed. The nucleus of this battalion, which had been already recruited by Captains Creighton and Taubman Goldie at Ibadan, was sent to Lokoja, whither Lieut.-Colonel Pilcher proceeded direct by steamer. Lieut.-Colonel Fitzgerald, commanding the 2nd battalion, arrived at Lagos early in February, and proceeded to Ibádan, where he began recruiting Yorubas. Early in March 1898, Colonel Lugard left London to take command of all the forces in or near Borgu, including the detachments of the Lagos Constabulary and the West India Regiment, as well as a large part of the Niger Company's troops and the new levies. Touching at Lagos, he went on to Lokoja, where were the headquarters of the 1st battalion: the officers were busily engaged in drilling and recruiting. He himself proceeded to Jebba, and sent word to Colonel Fitzgerald to march across country from Ibádan to that point, which became now the general headquarters, and everything except the 1st battalion was moved up there.
It was the end of April before the headquarters were es
field - hospital, with three doctors and a nursing staff of six non-commissioned officers from the Army Medical Corps. There was also to be a base hospital at Lokoja, with two doctors and three nurses, selected from the staff at Guy's. The artillery consisted of three batteries, two of seven-pounders, one of twelve-pounders. There was also a transport department, an accounts department, and one engineer company. A small headquarter staff, consisting of the Commissioner and Commandant, his second in command, and an aide-de-camp, made up the whole. The second in command was Colonel Willcocks, D.S.O., who was telegraphed for before he had fairly returned from the Tochi Valley campaign on the N.W. frontier of India-the eighth on which he had seen service. Each battalion was to consist half of