The Benin Massacre route Day 1
Mr. Phillips the acting Consul - General has been in post for seven months. He sent a letter to Oba Overami one month ago, informing him that he wanted to visit his city but received a reply that the planned visit time was not convenient to the king as he had other engagements at this time of the year.
Mr. Phillips had also two months ago, sent a letter to the Foreign office in London for permission to invade Benin, however he has not received any reply to date.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Phillips is determined to have his way in the full knowledge that this will result in fighting with the Benin border soldiers¹.
Having made all arrangements for the ‘visit’, today Sunday 27th December Mr. Phillips leaves Old Calabar in the Protectorate yacht Ivy in the morning. He is accompanied by Captains Searle and Ringer of the Niger Coast Protectorate Force, Captain Alan Boisragon and Mr. Powis, one of Messrs. Miller Brothers' agents at Old Calabar ( Boisragon, 1897, pg 61 – 62, lines 23 – 31).
Earlier today, Mr. Phillips sent a message to Oba Overami that he is on his way to visit his city and he is coming with eight or nine other whitemen. The messengers will arrive in Benin City tomorrow morning.
¹During During 1895 and 1896 several attempts had been made by Major Copland Crawford, the Vice-Consul of the district; Mr. Locke, who acted for him during his leave ; Captain Maling, who was in command of a detachment of troops at Sapele, and others, to get to Benin City. They made their attempts from Gwatto and Ilogbo, the two main routes from the Protectorate, but all were in vain, as each time they were stopped by Benin City soldiers. By " stopping" is meant that they could go no farther without the certainty of fighting, which, of course, they were not allowed to do by very strict orders from the Consul-General.
On one of these expeditions Major Crawford and Captain Maling landed at Gwatto with a detachment of twenty soldiers and some Jakri carriers. The white men and the soldiers were allowed to come into the town, but any wretched Jakri
who showed himself was chased by the Benin City men, and hunted back to the waterside again (Boisragon pages 56 – 57).
1) Bacon R. H, Benin The City of Blood, 1897, pages 16 – 17
2) Benin Expedition of 1897, Benin Massacre, Wikipedia, accessed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benin_Expedition_of_1897#The_.22Benin_Massacre.22
3) Boisragon A, The Benin Massacre, 1897, pages 56 – 57, pages 61 - 62
4) Phillips, J.R. , 17 Nov 1896. Dispatches to Foreign Office from Consul-General, Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of the Niger Coast Protectorate, 268 3/3/3, p. 240. National Archives of Nigeria Enugu.