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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

Destruction of Kambah

Destruction of Kambah.

In landing, the Tongans had met with strong opposition; one of their number was shot before they reached the beach, and fell into the sea. A landing having been effected, King George and others went to cut down trees for their fences. While he was thus employed, some Tongans were shot and clubbed, and their bodies were dragged into the town to be cooked and eaten. Without waiting for orders from the King, the Tongans at once stormed the town, taking and burning it. The Kambans and their friends, who were protecting the long fence against the inland Feejeean army, seeing that their small town was taken, ran to Kambah. The united forces now proceeded towards the town of Kambah: already the bodies of six Tongans (one a Chief) had been laid before the Heathen temples of the town, as offerings to their gods, and the Priests of all had promised that the Tongans should be destroyed, so that there should not be any left to take their canoes back to Tonga. The death-drum beat loud inside the town, the Kambans rejoicing over the bodies of the Tongans, and keeping up a brisk fire on the approaching army. The Tongans rushed on, passing by their killed and wounded, and speedily made a breach in the fence, and forced their way inside the town. Mara, and upwards of a hundred of his valiant men, of whom he had boasted so much, had made their escape: they ran over the sharp shells on the reef, and swam across to the three towns which adhered to them. When Mara saw our Teacher there, he said, "Ay, Aquila, your spirit is still in you, because you have not seen them. The man is a fool who fights with Tongans. I fired on them twenty or thirty times; but all we could do was of no avail. They rushed on impetuously. They are gods, and not men."

But little resistance was offered after the town was entered. Many were captured,—by the Vavauans especially, and some by those from Tonga and Haabai,—but their lives were spared. The Feejeean army killed a great number of women and children, as well as men; and would have done greater evil, had not one of their number been killed in mistake by a Tongan; after which they were shy, and retired. The lotu people in the town were assembled together, with their Teacher and a rebel Chief of Bau, and were spared. It was feared that one lotu man and his wife were killed: they had been concealed among reeds: but when the burning approached them, they thought they should be discovered, and perish, and knelt down together for prayer. The fire stopped, and they were not seen. There they remained till night, when they escaped to a town up the river. About one hundred and eighty of the enemy were killed by the Tongans and Feejeeans. Fourteen Tongans were killed, and about the same number wounded. Two hundred prisoners were taken, and were delivered up to the Vunivalu. All of them were spared; though some, when tried on the following Monday, were proved to have acted in a way that rendered them worthy of death; especially Keroi Ravulo, a rebel Chief of Bau. Many desired his death; but the Vunivalu decided that even his life should be spared. The others were returned alive to the towns to which they belonged. The Kambans are to remain in Bau till taken to their own town, which is to be rebuilt soon.