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both sides avoided. Three more companies of the 2nd West India Regiment had been despatched from Sierra Leone to Lagos, and, on February 28, 149 men of that regiment left Saki for Okuta. The British advanced posts were now within a couple of marches of Nikki. In the first week of March Governor M'Callum proceeded in person to Okuta. But the tornado season was now beginning, and he reported home that the difficulties occasioned by the rains, combined with the strength of the French line of posts between Kishi and Kiama, made it advisable that any farther advance should be made from the Niger. In the meanwhile the telegraph wire was being rapidly carried to wards Illórin, which point it reached on April 3; and the presence of the British posts, interrupting lines of communication, greatly hampered the French in Borgu. They had devastated the country, which is at no time a rich one, and were in difficulty for supplies. For these they depended largely upon Kishi, a town lying about fifty miles south of Kiama. Kishi was, properly speaking, no part of Borgu, but a Yoruba town, with which a treaty had been concluded in 1894. The Yorubas are а peaceful and industrious people, and consequently Kishi, although a small place, was
much richer than the rest of the country which the French had to draw on. It was therefore a serious blow to them
when on April 22 the inhabitants of this town rose, drove out the French garrison, and called in some West Indian soldiers from the nearest British post. Politically also it was a grave reverse, as it certainly did not go to bear out the French contention that their troops were in the various towns by the special prayer of their inhabitants.
Such was the position of affairs when Colonel Lugard arrived at Jebba. He had reached Lokoja on April 10, and set out for his headquarters on the 13th. on the 13th. By April 17 the telegraph wire had reached its destination-having been carried from Lagos in little over three months-and he was in touch with the authorities at home. Steps were at once taken to carry on from the new base the work which had been begun by Governor M'Callum. Three hundred of the Niger Company's troops, who had shown their value in the Bida campaign, had been sent up hurriedly into Sokoto when word came that a French expedition had crossed the Niger from Say. Of this ill-fated mission under M. Cazemajou (afterwards massacred at Zinder) they could find no trace, and were returning by the Niger when they were stopped at Fort Goldie, and ordered to be in readiness to act as a field force. They could be well spared for the purpose, as the new battalions could now supply men to take their places in the Company's various garrisons. Colonel Willcocks was
1 It has since been carried to Lokoja.
put in command of the force, and ordered to march rapidly from Fort Goldie towards Kiama, and hoist the English flag wherever the tricolour was not flying.
Striking to the north-west, Colonel Willcocks occupied the village of Adube, and thence detached a party with orders to march north in the direction of Bussa. An important village named Timanji was found where no flag was flying, and the union - jack was therefore hoisted and a small garrison left there. In the meanwhile angry protests came in from the French officers in command at the different posts. It was thought necessary to strengthen the small party left at Timanji, and a reinforcement was sent up under Lieutenants Glossop and Mangles. On their way they had to pass a village where was a small detachment of Senegalese with two white sergeants. These people ordered the party to stop; but being in a minority, were content with heaping insults on the Hausas and their officers. Reliefs were left in Timanji, and Lieutenant Mangles stayed in charge of them; but Lieutenant Glossop, returning with the rest of the detachment, had again to pass through the French post. This time the Senegalese had numbers in their favour, and they were drawn up across the path with fixed bayonets. The officers on each side had it practically in their power to bring on a European war-and this is only one instance of the risks that were run continually for a matter of six months both in Borgu and in the
Mossi country-but fortunately discretion prevailed. Lieutenant Glossop kept his temper, treated the insults with contemptuous silence, and made a detour round the Senegalese, who made no further attempt to interfere with him.
After these events, Colonel Willcocks proceeded, in accordance with his instructions, to make a tour of the southern border of Borgu, inspecting the detachments of the West India Regiment and the Lagos Hausa Force posted on the northern frontier of Yorubaland. This he did with remarkable rapidity, covering from twenty to thirty miles a-day, though the country is difficult, full of rivers, none of which are bridged, and the climate, always deadly, is at its worst in the season of the rains, which were then beginning. But another incident which threatened to be critical took place at a small village near Kishi called Betekuta. There was no flag here, and though it was scarcely more than a cluster of rambling farmhouses, the union - jack was run up. But a night or two later detachment of the French came in and hoisted their flag also, under the cover of darkness. Colonel Willcocks immediately sent to Lieutenant Loissu (in command at Kiama) to protest, and demand that it should be hauled down. The French officer then declared that the English were terrorising the country, and that Betekuta had implored his protection. This was of course denied, and Colonel Willcocks sent word to
say that if the French flag remained in Betekuta he would
come and hoist the English one at exactly the same distance, 500 yards, from the French in Kiama, which was a town of importance. Lieutenant Loissu, who had only a handful of men, had no means of stopping the English force of three hundred rifles from doing this; but he petitioned for six days' postponement till he should have time to consult his chief, M. Demoulin, who was at Nikki. This was not at first granted, but was ultimately conceded, in deference to French susceptibilities, since the knowledge of the ultimatum had leaked out among the natives, and there was no desire to inflict on them a gratuitous humiliation. But in the interval a hundred Senegalese were thrown by a rapid movement into Kiama.
The fact was that the French meant to fight. The Niger Company's troops had been despatched in February on a forced march to Argungu, then hurried back to the Niger, and sent to act as a field force before they could have their clothing renewed; and they were, after three months of hard marching in African bush, a very unkempt, ragged-looking body of men. They were armed with Sniders, and it seems that the French mistook these for the muzzle-loading guns known on the coast 66 as long Danes." Consequently M. Loissu and his officers, having a wellgrounded confidence in their Senegalese as fighting men, were prepared to match a hundred of them, armed with repeating rifles, against what they took to be a mob of raw scallywags fighting with
muzzle - loaders. They would assuredly have found out their mistake, to their great cost, for care had been taken to concentrate a force at this point, where the crisis must come, sufficient to assure the result in case of collision. Just before the limit of time had expired, an express reached the French officer at Kiama, carrying a copy of a Havas telegram which had been sent overland from Carnotville by relays of galloping horsemen. The telegram stated that a Convention was just about to be signed, and that the imminent collision must be avoided. In view of this telegram, Lieutenant Loissu urged that action should be suspended. But the English replied that they had no similar instructions from their Government, though they were in direct telegraphic communication with London, and, consequently, insisted that the union-jack must go up in Kiama, as Lieutenant Loissu absolutely refused to remove the tricolour from Betekuta. The force advanced in fighting order to Kiama, the waterjackets of the Maxims were filled, and there was every expectation of a fight. French sentries were discovered posted in the trees, but no shot was fired, and the union-jack was hoisted 500 yards distant from the tricolour.
That was practically the end. The English settled themselves. down in camp at Kiama, and did, as English officers always do, their best to make themselves happy and to live at peace with their neighbours. It was represented to the French officers that the quar
rel was between Governments, replied that the French were not between individuals: a race meeting was got up, with an event for Frenchmen only; but as it was on Waterloo day, and the event was called "the Waterloo cup" by an undiplomatic soldier, no Frenchman would enter! Still, when news of the Convention signed at Paris on 14th July 1898 came in, and it was found that the French had to evacuate every fort in Borgu of which possession had been actually disputed -the conventional line of demarcation fell a little east of Nikki-they were very bitter: they said that France had once more been humiliated by England, and all the other things that French officers in such circumstances are accustomed to say. As a matter of fact, they had done surprisingly well on the bargain, though their positive gains were greater on the Gold Coast frontier than in Borgu. But, with feelings as they were, the business of arranging for evacuation and occupation was somewhat ticklish. Colonel Ricour, on receiving his instructions, wrote a courteous letter expressing his willingness to go at once, in accordance with the clause of the Convention stipulating immediate evacuation by either side of territory which now fell to the other; but asked leave to retain his posts for some time in the three towns of Illo, Bussa, and Kiama, where (he said) there were large quantities of military stores. Now, to hold these three important towns was practically to hold the entire country; but the request was not refused. Colonel Lugard
welcome to leave their men until they should have been able to remove their stores, but that he should not refrain from moving British troops through the rest of the country, since it was now British. This was simply a civil way of saying that they would hold the lines of communication between the French base and these posts, and thus that M. Ricour would be beholden to the English for all escorts between him and this portion of his command. Also it was highly probable, seeing the feeling of the natives towards the French, that when the British flag replaced the tricolour all through the country, a rising might take place, directed against the scattered and disconnected remnants of the force which had dealt so severely with the Baribas; or at least, that the small French garrisons, discredited in the eyes of the natives, would owe their safety to British bayonets. At all events, the French troops were immediately withdrawn ; the English, who on receipt of the news marched without loss of a moment to Bussa, arrived in the night and found the French prepared to leave the next morning, and were excellently received by them. On the southern border, a mistake in the map issued in illustration of the Convention led to an incident comic rather than serious, which began with the bloodless capture of a French native officer by some of our Hausas, and ended with mutual apologies and courtesies between the English and French commanding officers.
Such is the story of how a European war was prevented by the tact of those on the spot, though there was no flinching or hesitation on the part of our officers, who carried out their difficult orders, and forced the crisis which resulted in the Convention. Their immediate task -that of repelling French aggression on the Niger Company's frontier and the hinterland of Lagos-ended when the Convention was signed. But the work they did stands, and may be the germ of much. In so
far as concerned the definite purpose for which it was raised, the West African Frontier Force happily did not need to prove its efficiency in fight; but it was proved in other ways beyond a possibility of question. For instance, on one occasion it happened that, to meet an emergency, a company of Lieut. - Colonel Fitzgerald's battalion, commanded by Captain Freemantle (of the Coldstream Guards), was ordered to march immediately from Jebba to Fort Goldie, twentysix miles distant. The order was given at midnight; two hours later the men were o the march. Half-a-dozen river, affluents of the Niger, had t be crossed, and they were al in flood. It was still night when they reached the first river, swollen beyond all possibility of fording it. Lieutenant Buxton of the Norfolk Regiment swam it, searched the other bank, and found a canoe in which the men were ferried over. Swimming floodstreams in the dark is not pleasant work when crocodiles
may be swimming there too. Twelve hours after they set out, the company was at Fort Goldie.
The newly raised troops were actually employed on active service twice in the course of the last year,-first, on the expedition sent, under the command of Lieut. - Colonel Pilcher, to reduce reduce Lapai, an important Hausa town not far from the left bank of the Niger; and secondly, in a smaller affair undertaken to punish the murderers of a British officer near Illo. But neither of these expeditions led to any serious fighting, though the Lapai business at one time threatened to be as serious as that with Bida and Illórin; and they were regarded by the officers and men rather in the light of a pleasant break in the monotony of the year's real work. That has of course consisted in the drilling, organisation, and housing of the force. When the 2nd battalion moved and occupied the island of Jebba, they were obliged at first simply to camp in tents. Then the ground had to be cleared; the men were told off to build their own lines, and likewise grass huts and a grass mess - hut were built for the officers and non-commissioned officers. Not till August was the river high enough to bring up stores by steamer to Jebba; but the material for houses was landed at Lokoja, and Lieutenant M'Clintock with his company of sappers was busily engaged in setting them up. The type adopted consisted of a mason - work foundation, upon which were placed iron pillars