TODAY -

My take on the Battle of Khongjom on 25th April 1891

Rajeshwor Yumnam *



In the book My Three Years in Manipur; And Escape from the Recent Mutiny , Ethel Grimwood has copied a passage from the war diary written by Major Grant.

"On the 25th I went out from Palel with fifty my men, Sikhs, fifty our Mounted Infantry under Cox, and fifty 2nd-4th Ghoorkas, the whole under Drury, of 2nd-4th Ghoorkas. We had orders only to reconnoitre enemy's position, not to attack, as remainder were to arrive that morning.

'The road ran along the plain due north towards Manipur, with open plain on left and hills right. Saw the enemy on the hills and in a strong mud fort 1,000 yards from hills in the open. I worked along the hills and drove the enemy out of them, as we found them unexpectedly, and had to fight in spite of orders.

Then Drury sent on to the general to say we had them in trap, and would he come out with guns and more men and slate them. Then he sent the Mounted Infantry to the left to the north-west of the enemy, and we worked behind the hills to the north-east, thus cutting them off from Manipur. We went behind a hill and waited.

'At 11.30 we saw from the top of our hill the column from Palel, two mountain guns, and one hundred 2nd-4th Ghoorkas. The guns went to a hill 1,000 yards to the east of the enemy's fort, and we watched the fun. The first shell went plump into the fort; soon they started shrapnel and made lovely practice, the enemy replying with two small guns and rifles.

Then we got impatient and advanced, and worked round to their west flank. The guns went on sending common shell and shrapnel into the fort till we masked their fire. The Ghoorkas, also under Carnegy, advanced from south from Palel. We did not fire a shot till within 100 yards, fearful of hitting own men.

Then our party charged, but were brought up by a deep ditch under their walls; down and up we scrambled, and when a lot of our men had collected within ten paces of their walls, firing at every head that showed, the enemy put up a white flag, and I at once stopped the fire. Then they sprang up and fired at us.

I felt a tremendous blow on the neck, and staggered and fell, luckily on the edge of the ditch, rather under cover; but feeling the wound with my finger, and being able to speak, and feeling no violent flow of blood, I discovered I wasn't dead just yet. So I reloaded my revolver and got up.

'Meanwhile my Sikhs were swarming over the wall. I ran in, and found the enemy bolting at last from the east, and running away towards Manipur. My men were in first, well ahead of both parties of Ghoorkas.

'After I had seen all the Manipuris near the fort polished off, I sent for a dresser and lay down in one of the huts in the fort. Soon had my clothes off, and found the bullet had gone through the root of my neck, just above the shoulder, and carried some of the cloth of my collar and shirt right through the wound, leaving it quite clean. I was soon bound up, and men shampooed me and kept away cramp. It was only a very violent shock, and I felt much better in the evening.

In the London Gazette, Published on 14th August 1891, It is mentioned that Captain Presgrave occupied Palel, where he was joined subsequently by Major Sir Charles Leslie, with the 2-4th Gurkha Regiment, and this place was held as the advanced position till the arrival of the remainder of the Tamu Column on the 25th April, 1891. So when the whole Column of Tamu reach Palel on 25th How can they fought at khongjom on 23rd April.

As mentioned in Official document No. 375-M—" Field Operations—Manipur,"—dated Simla, 11th June, 1891,

"On the 25th April an advanced reconnoitering party from the Tamu Column encountered a considerable number of Manipuris strongly posted near the village of Bapam. On the arrival of a reinforcement of 200 . Rifles and two mountain guns under Captain P. M. Randall, 4th GurkhaRifles, the position was stormed and carried after an obstinate hand-to-hand combat with a loss of one Native officer and one sepoy killed, and four British officers,* two Native officers, two noncommissioned officers, and five sepoys wounded. A report by Captain Rundall of this brilliant affair is attached for the information of Government".

As per the above passage, the British mountain gun arrived on 25th. There is mentioned in the folklores of meeties that the British fought with Poona Brajabasi's team with mountain gun/ tops. Therefore our forefathers were mentioning the battle of 25th April.

London Gazette, Published on 14th August 1891
London Gazette, Published on 14th August 1891
London Gazette, Published on 14th August 1891



It is also found mentioned on "The London Gazette 14th August 1891" that the main body of the column concentrated at Tamu on the 21st April, and advanced towards Manipur on the 23rd April.

This is the proof that the battle did not fought on 23rd April 1891 .


* Rajeshwor Yumnam wrote this article for e-pao.net
This article was posted on April 22, 2016.


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