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Firearms, Horses and Samorian Army Organization 1870-1898

Author(s): Martin Legassick
Source: The Journal of African History, Vol. 7, No. 1 (1966), pp. 95-115
Published by: Cambridge University Press
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Journal of African History, vII, I (1966), pp. 95-115
Printed in Great Britain




MUCH has been written about the regime of Samori Ture, both in denigration and in praise, and yet we know curiously little about it. There are no
systematic studies of its civil organization, its economy, its diplomatic
relations with other African regimes and European powers, or its role in
long-distance trade. For these subjects evidence drawn from archives and
oral tradition would be indispensable, and would indeed supplement, modify
and correct many of the theses of the present paper. We all await eagerly the
definitive study of Samori by Yves Person, based on these sources. But
there is still much to be gleaned from the more readily accessible source
material, fanciful and unreliable though it may be in part; the present paper
is concerned with a less ambitious topic and is based on this material.2 It is
a study of the organization of the Samorian army in the period 1870-98,
taking as base-line the year 1887 in which both Binger and Peroz visited the
'empire'.3 One crucial factor in modifying army organization was the
1 This paper is based on one written for a seminar in African history at the University
of California, Los Angeles (given by Professor Robert Griffeth) in the fall semester of
1964. I should like to thank him, in particular, for his criticism and advice.
The chief primary sources are the military reminiscences and campaign accounts of
French officers such as General Arlabosse, 'Une phase de la lutte contre Samory (I890du General Arlabosse', Revue d'Histoire des Colonies, v (SeptemberI892)-souvenirs
October 1932), vi (November-December, I932); Lt.-Col. Baratier, A Travers l'Afrique
(Paris, Perrin, 1912); R. de Lartigue, 'Le rapport sur les operations de la colonne du sud:
prise de Samory', Bulletin du Comite de l'Afrique Franfaise, RenseignementsColoniaux, vii
(I899); Lt.-Col. H. Frey, Campagne dans le Haut Senegal et dans le Haut Niger (Paris,
Plon, I888); Gallieni, Deux campagnes au Soudan Franfais (Paris, Hachette, I891);
General Gouraud, Souvenirs d'un Africain, t. I Au Soudan (Paris, Pierre Tisne, 1939);
Etienne Peroz, Au Niger, recits de campagne (I89 -2) (Paris, Calmann-Levy, 1894). The
works of Capitaine Binger, Du Niger au Golfe de Guinee (Paris, Hachette, 1892) and Etienne
Peroz, Au Soudan Franfais (Paris, Calmann-L6vy, I896) fall into a different category.
Both paid visits to Samori and saw the empire from inside. In the absence of other reliable
accounts one is forced to accept their assertions, except where internal contradiction makes
them suspect. On the basis of his work in the archives Yves Person has found them both
imaginative and unreliable, Peroz more so than Binger: this would affect in particular my
conclusions on the 'volunteer militia', the military governments, and Samori's assumption
of the title of amir al-mu'minin. I am indebted for this information to Yves Person, whose
work when published will doubtless correct these points. In addition, there are the local
traditions, recorded for example in Amadou Kouroubari, 'Histoire de l'Imam Samori'
Bull. IFAN, Parts 3 and 4 (1959), and Mamadou Suleymane Diem, 'Un Document Authentique sur Samory' (ed. B. Holas), Notes Africaines, LXXIV(April, 1957), as well as numerous
secondary works.
Neither 'state' nor 'empire' are wholly satisfactory descriptions of many Sudanic
regimes, especially when they are differentiated as is usual by a subjective criterion of size.
However, until more satisfactory terminology is developed, there is no alternative but to
use 'empire' as an indication that the regime encompassed peoples of different cultural

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5 Peroz is more accurate 4 The sources for this description are. so has the supply of horses. 5 This content downloaded from 192.. and a cavalry force consisting in part. or at least its ruling elite. Their influence on army organization and strategy is then evaluated. an infantryman with a gun. The Samorian regime developed through a number of distinct stages.96 MARTIN LEGASSICK large-scale introduction of modern repeating weapons. In the final phase. Binger. finally disintegrated. trade routes and numbers are identified insofar as is possible. the state moved once more to Boribana (which Samori had intended as his final capital) and then back to the west. Au Soudan.. In both cases the sources. The area of Samorian hegemony expanded or contracted according to the success or failure of military and diplomatic relations with African and European powers. For the linguistic information in this paper I am deeply indebted to Mr Charles Bird. Towards the end of I894 Samori re-established a capital at Dabakala.. perhaps. and a considerable part of the civilian population. Los Angeles. consisting at this stage of a peripatetic following of I20.167.4 Most writers have failed to distinguish clearly between different types of recruitment. the regime. unless otherwise stated. the army. although it is not in any way suggested that they were the only modifying influences. graduate student at University of California. I00-5.. and Peroz. the conscripted reserve. The regular army was composed almost entirely of captives and had a well-defined structure of units and ranks. Some evidence suggests that he was able to some extent to re-create the earlier structure of his administration. and have assumed that the structure remained unaltered throughout the existence of the state. Binger uses the term bilakorofor an army rank subordinate to the sofa. creating seven and later ten provinces.000 troops.000 civilians and I2. between the Comoe and Nzi Rivers. of volunteers. but ethnological and linguistic studies show that the term is normally used for a youth under circumcision age and does not have any specialized military usage. Until I892 the valley of the Milo remained the centre of the regime.29 on Tue. detachments sent by chiefs under Samori's protection. When Samori was captured in the mountainous areas on the fringes of the Liberian forest. When Samori declared himself amir al-mu'minzn.13.. The supply of firearms to the Samorian state has therefore been studied. I. although Samorian rule extended over a much wider territory. and ruled from there until early in 1898. moved to the east. At first the political structure seems to have been loose. thus giving the regime the ideological buttress of Islam. 405-I5. he formalized the institutional structure of the state. Between I892 and late I894 the state. The backbone of this army was the sofa. Du Niger. THE ORGANIZATION OF THE SAMORIAN ARMY IN 1887 The Samorian army in 1887 was recruited from four sources: the regular army. especially during and after the rainy season of I89I. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

(c) with a load on head: about 20 km. or was an adaptation of an earlier term would be interesting to find out.13.. Whatever its derivation. been used to designate an infantryman whose weapon was a firearm. J. unlike the situation in the armies of Al-.SAMORI'S ARMY 97 in using bilakoro for a 'young sofa'. whereas Samori drew his troops from a much wider base. in the Bambaran armies and those of Al-. and as guns became available. 8 It is only very recently that Bambara has been studied as a tone language. 1900). or a 'person who attacks with a spear'. In this sense the Samorian army appears to have been modelled more closely on Bambaran precedents than on the Fulani or Tokolor armies of the nineteenth-century Islamic reformers. 7 See. that is. 10 De Lartigue. (b) with gun and food-bag: about 30 km. Les Pionniers du Soudan. where the mounted talibe were the most important element.. M6vil says the sofa could travel 40-50 km. By I898 de Lartigue could define a sofa as a soldier with a repeater!"? The foot-slogging sofa was the mainstay of Samorian fighting power. 87-8). though he later contradicts this in distinguishing the whole army of sofa from the permanent nucleus of sofa-kele (war-sofa). both ethnically and in terms of social class.29 on Tue. a day. 193I). a chief of bilakoro only. 9 Whether the term was introduced with firearms. '. a day (Binger. or the 'personal guard of a house'. under the command of Kali Sidibe..or might have been so called colloquially in lighthearted contempt.' 131 n. Meniaud..9 This is the sense in which Binger uses it. Peroz seems to regard a sofa rather as a member of a standing army. especially since the terminationfa is not usually used to designate an agent. Samory (Paris: Flammarion.7 This is certainly incorrect since the tones in so and so-fd are different. I32-3 n. Societe des Publications Modernes. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions VII .. a day. See Andre Mevil. (d) with loaded animals: about I6 km.. a day or less. a day under these conditions: Binger gives estimates for various types of travel-(a) rapid courier: 80 km. These raw recruits might have been genuine bilakoro. whom he later calls a bilakoro-tigi. The military affinities with the Bambaran states may apply more widely to the structure of the Samorian state. and recent African historiography is perhaps incorrect in coupling Samori with the other Islamic reformers of 6 The fact that the sofa travelled lightly meant that he could travel fast and still arrive fresh for the battle unlike the heavily laden tirailleur. However sofa may mean the 'firer of a gun'.Rapport. it had for a long time. The younger and rawer captives did enter the army in the service of a sofa from whom they gained experience while carrying his gun on the march and looking after his horse if he was of a rank to have one.Hjj 'Umar and Ahmadu. An explanation in these terms resolves such internal contradictions as that in Binger where he describes a squad of sofa.167. I. The word sofa has been the subject of more serious etymological error. these youths would earn a gun and trousers and enter the army fully. for example.Hjjj 'Umar.8 The precise derivation is more difficult to determine. in a village where he stayed. The usual interpretation has been 'father (fd) of the horse (s6)' and thus 'groom'. 7 AH This content downloaded from 192. Du Niger. I (Paris. The Bambara armies of Segu and Kaarta were however composed largely of second-generation slaves.6 After several expeditions...

At the age of sixteen they were sent to gain experience by commanding a squad of ten. 167-72. However. He sought a new form of state. Histoire de la Guinee Franfaise (Paris. I. but he was still alive (Peroz.. at one time Samori's favourite son. Some of the French reports are exaggerated. If the former derivation is accepted. A reformer undoubtedly he was. They also 11 Karamoko. Du Niger. serving as a simple kurusutigi. Arcin.. These were captives.12 Possibly this is a corruption of dugui-kun-tigi(leader of the village) or diugu-kuna-sigi(seated at the head of the village). A traditional village head would have been dugu-tigi. though. He fell out with his father and then returned to favour for a while. The chiefs of 'companies' of 1oo men and 'battalions' of I. but Islam was for him a convenient ideology to be used instrumentally in the process of statebuilding. Du Niger. The older sofa might be permitted to own a number of captives. Each military commander of a province would recruit his own sofa corps.. or the sons of chiefs or favoured men were chosen almost entirely from among them.. 96). 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Binger.. Sofa from the ranks who distinguished themselves in war were raised to the command of a squad of ten and would then generally be mounted. the insertion of kun indicates an appointment from above. Challamel.MARTIN 98 LEGASSICK the nineteenth century. Thus Famako. and Samori was liable to demote his generals and even his sons for unsatisfactory conduct. 33. o09. They were chosen for their physique and intelligence. local party leaders in the rural areas today are called kun-tigi. A. These and higher sofa commanders were known as sofa-kun (sofakong in Binger and Peroz). Finally.11 Indeed he is supposed to have said to Peroz at a parade where the sofa were permitted to give more perfunctory salutes than the generals that 'the last shall be first and the first last'. After his return from a mission to France (I886-87). I27.. an elite corps of sofa was recruited by Samori himself.. for example.29 on Tue. on the execution of sofa leaders. See also Binger.. I. I. This content downloaded from 192. and not a selfseeking 'adventurer' as so many have depicted him. Du Niger. the second derivation seems closer to Binger's word. In addition. was seen some months later by Binger at Sikasso. He was indeed in disgrace. Au soudan. and were then known as 'dougoukounasigui'according to Binger and Arcin. volunteers..167. perhaps at the instigation of Sarangye Mori. whom Peroz described as executed by Samori for paying an unauthorized visit to the French at Bamako. 19. 12 Binger.13. We may deduce that the corps would owe its loyalty to Samori and the Samorian state rather than to its commander in the 'feudal' manner. he was walled up alive.. I911).. numbering about 200-300. Sofakun who had won Samori's confidence would be appointed to civil command in the villages. For the commanders were moved about at Samori's discretion from province to province and do not appear to have originated from the areas they controlled. and were drilled and taught to handle arms from infancy by a group of 200-300 experienced sofa. There is no suggestion that recruitment was confined to second-generation slaves. he began to advocate a more conciliatory policy towards them. where he had deliberately been shown French military strength. Also the corps would be integrated for campaigns under a single general.. rather than a return to the rightly guided caliphate.

was in a permanent state of readiness.'. which do not appear ever to have been moved or used.167. According to Binger. the elite corps numbered 500. At this time the 56 bravest soldiers in the state guarded the person of Samori.Rapport. 14 7-2 This content downloaded from 192. These. Binger also describes a group of 50 men from Konia. I. who names detachments with the Samorian army from Djimini and Koyaradugu under the orders of their chiefs. if it existed. was the precise equivalent of that of Ahmadu and Al-.. but relegated to a subordinate position.. In every village one man in ten. the remaining 20 guarded the four carronades of copper adorning the palace of Bissandugu. Du Niger.SAMORI'S ARMY 99 furnished the second-in-command to the governor of each province and probably the best among them eventually became generals.13. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. 36 were the only possessors of repeaters. 113 n. who had been with him since his first conquests and were very devoted to Samori (Binger. '..29 on Tue.. At Sikasso there were such groups from Tiong-i and Niele. and was kept at Bissandugu or Sanancoro ready to go to the aid of an army in danger or to quell a revolt.13 Binger noted a similar special guard at Sikasso.Hajj 'Umar. Only eight had even Gras guns or Chassepots. according to Peroz. 365. Perhaps this is a use of 'Bambara' in the sense of 'pagan' (as in the Ta'rikhs) and refers to those who would not accept conversion to Islam under Samori.15 13 Peroz. A similar procedure is illustrated by de Lartigue in I898. there was a levy which each provincial governor was responsible for raising. A group of eighteen 'whom Samori calls his tirailleurs'.. and during the other six months would report two or three times to their chief. These included various castes. would be allowed to cultivate and harvest for six months in time of peace. In addition. known as kuruisitigi (derivation unknown). This cavalry force. though it is difficult to accept his assertion that 'Bambaras were never allowed to carry arms' considering the proportion of the population which they comprised. from among those who could bear arms. a volunteer detachment which would assemble in time of war under their provincial governor.. according to Peroz. chiefs under the protection of Samori might be required to provide detachments. certain groups were exempt at all times. Au Soudan. 96-7).. 15 De Lartigue. In time of war they would serve 'for the duration' or until replaced. one man in two would be called up with the exception of heads of families. In 1887. Of these. Those who were wealthy enough to buy a horse and who already had a gun or sabre formed.14 Apart from the regular army there were the other detachments. For more important campaigns... Finally. He would be released from this obligation only when a replacement was named.

and may have trickled down from the north as well. 435. 5ooff. gives a representative survey of trade-routes. For Freetown taxes and later controls. and seven years later Gallieni noted that some of the talibe of Ahmadu's army had double-barrelled percussion guns. but in this case there would usually be alternatives. 1962). Samori in his trading days had probably himself dealt in firearms. 'La Jeunesse de Samori'.13.. firearms were well known throughout this part of the Western Sudan. or more probably because the process of 'corning' was not known. Frey. and the kinds and numbers of firearms that were imported along them.I830) 47. I shall examine in turn what appear to have been the main routes at different times. and the nature of the weapons. but the indigenous powder was recognized as of inferior quality and was not used for priming.167. 19 Gallieni gives the composition of Sudanese gunpowder as 7 parts saltpetre to 2 of charcoal to i of sulphur. From 16 As the reports of travellers and military commanders attest. 5. See Rene Caillie. Heremakono and Faranah to Kankan. for example. 423). gives some idea of the extent of the trade. This content downloaded from 192.19 The iron projectiles were made locally. flintlock muskets of poor quality. 220-4... 18 Gallieni. breech-loading.. 424. Voyage. Freetown was an important source of arms.MARTIN I00 THE SUPPLY LEGASSICK OF FIREARMS TO THE SAMORIAN ARMY Since the beginning of the seventeenth century firearms had spread inland from the 'factories' at the coast and on the Senegal.17 In 1874. O. 2.P. see C.. namely. Revue franfaise d'histoire d'outre mer XLIX (I962). Possibly this was because of its different composition. A History of Sierra Leone (London. and end-paper map. usually French. 593. Travels through Central Africa to Timbuctoo (I824-I828). Campagne. if iron was not available in sufficient quantity. In earlier times. and when he turned to war he could rely on the dyula trading network for supply (as well as for espionage). Voyage au Soudan Franfais (Paris: Hachette. says Singer.. Bentley. suitable pieces of ferruginous stone might be used. 51. the composition in Europe was 4. Voyage. 399. 398. 393. which corresponds more closely to the African formula. 321.20 Sometimes war or state policy might cut a particular trading route. 1885).16 For the most part these were the 'trade guns' of Birmingham and Liege.. rifling. the true cartridge. Colborn and R. 20 See Yves Person. which may be compared with 6-29: ' I: i (Encyclopaedia Britannica. an import tax was imposed on breechloaders in Sierra Leone.. Sulphur was imported to the Sudan but the other ingredients were obtained locally (Gallieni.. The existence of some trade from the north is apparent from Caillie's account of muskets made in Tunis that he saw in Timbuktu. a succession of new models began to appear as well.II (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 381-2). II (London: H. with the rapid development of firearms in Europe during the nineteenth century.18 Gunpowder was made locally as well as imported. A History of Technology. In the transition period a great variety of adaptive models were introduced. or 6:2: 1. Fyfe. Gallieni. and the magazine. I954-58).29 on Tue.. while that of I890 had all. distribution. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 'Gunpowder') and 7:I'5:I (Charles Singer et al. See in particular pp. 17 During the second half of the nineteenth century the chief features of the modern non-automatic military firearm were introduced. However. but the average army weapon of I85o had none of them.U.. Guns with one or more of these features had been produced earlier. the chief trade route from the port running via Falaba.

. 20I.22 Diplomatic contacts between Samorian and British representatives took place sporadically until Samori was forced eastward..25 When Samori left Boribana (his last capital) in June i898. 504. Histoire. . Garrett (I890) and Kenney (I892) visited the empire. where the chiefs were friendly. 24 Fyfe.13. 297.. Voyage. 248-5I. 468. Histoire. Fyfe. for later in the year he is near Korhogo...Rapport.. this is precisely the time when Samori's major rearmament programme was under way... Subsequently Festing (I887-88). 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. N'Zo. 25 Fyfe. was at N'Zapa but must have retired eastward shortly after. but his major contacts were with the traders. I I4).. Fyfe mentions a visit to Samori by a representative of the Sierra Leone Coaling Company in early I892 to supply arms in exchange for a concession.26 Peroz asserts that at the time of his I 887 visit to Bissandugu the Samorian army possessed 50 breechloaders.27 Elsewhere he mentions the 36 repeaters 21 Gallieni.. in itself. This. when he withdrew eastward with his army. although the 1892 ban on arms sales may have affected his supply. from which he had been cut off to the east... 499.. 489.167. 303. which from comparison with other sources clearly begins from the rainy season of I894. The coastwards drive was halted only at the request of the British. 240-I. History. Fyfe. Histoire. would seem to be too sentimental a consideration to influence 27 Peroz..29 on Tue.24 A major goal of the Combes column of January-March 1893 was to cut Samori off from Sierra Leone... and... History.Inheritance. 23 This content downloaded from 192.SAMORI'S ARMY IOI the early I880's the French were worried about Samori's contacts with Freetown.. most of whom originated from this area.P. See Fyfe.. 114. Au Niger. 435.'. 'Document. Samori (De Lartigue.Inheritance... See Diem. Fyfe. 500.. A. '. O. 26 De Lartigue believes he was influenced by his counsellors. '.. to forward arms obtained by Samori's agents along a route through N'Zapa. In 1893 Bilali was in the Toma area investigating a more southerly route to Freetown. Samori retained some contact with Freetown until his capture. For some of the documents concerning Samori's approach to Sierra Leone and the halt of his armies at British request... Fyfe..'. History. Due.U.. 526-39. 452. 22 I964). Au Niger.. and that in i892 the French seized repeaters being transported from Freetown to Samori. Tuna and Seguela to the new capital at Dabakala. In March I894. 417.'. Arcin mentions 'La Maison Bolling' as a supplier of Samori... 238-42. Sierra Leone Inheritance (London... Arcin. 5I7. Arcin. 513. although his direct trading there was largely with French shopkeepers. 170 n. Arcin. . Tungaradugu. The first British mission saw Samori in Bure some time prior to June I886..23 Freetown was the only supply area with which his envoys could make direct contact and thus procure modern weapons rather than those which had been 'dumped'. de Lartigue. Marigui Cesse was left in this area.21 At this time the state was expanding along the trade route: Liginfali took Falaba in 1884 and established Samorian rule over the area north of Sierra Leone. a major factor in his decision must have been to link up again with a supply of modern munitions. heading west towards Toma. Significantly. Kunadi Keleba.. a Samorian general. see C.. and a part of the French force did indeed inflict major defeats on Bilali. and Liginfali paid a visit to Freetown in June-July I885. The French column under Humbert engaged against Samori at this time also received reports of a white man who had been present with Samori at some of the battles....Rapport. 517. Peroz.. History... I96...

.. 237. and apparently in each box there was a small bottle of perfume for one of Samori's wives (Arlabosse. from the Gambia and even from the stations on the Senegal.500. 220. Caravans to the Gambia took three or four months (Frey. this would have been all that Samori could obtain. A Travers. The Chassepot was a breech-loader with paper and linen cartridge. io6. a figure which contradicts that of Peroz. others.... cit. Au Niger. modified and unmodified. 31 These included Winchesters.000 cartridges. The amount of ammunition captured at the Tukoro powder store is revealing: 70. were being manufactured by the Samorian state at the time. French M/IilitaryWeapons 1717-1938 (Connecticut: N.. Frey. .. Mausers (some modified to fire the Gras cartridge) Chassepots (some modified to fire metal cartridges.000 repeaters.. Meniaud. Campagne. 30 See J.. During this campaign he may have had only a few hundred breechloaders. 26I... .. and a large part of the trade even with Freetown would have been for the more easily acquired and cheaper flintlocks and powder which to the end remained standard for the bulk of his army.. The state's supply of repeaters probably never rose much above this figure of 3. since he relied here on the normal channels of trade.'.. 8o. 90.0oo cartridge cases.30 But in the following months an assortment of different models..167. a magazine repeater.. which took Samori by surprise in a brief campaign in April 1891.. .. I. I 32 Peroz.Pionniers. only sixteen months after the French. Du Niger. 43 ). 292. Samory.32 Some of these may have been captured.. 410. 97. I. 300 kilos of bullets... 40.33The description of the guns 28 Peroz. 99. II. Au Soudan. . who first used the Kropatschek rifle in the Sudan under Frey in 1885. I879-80 replaced in the French armies of the Sudan by the Lebel model i 886. Peroz reports that of Samori'sI. 493. See J. 'Une phase. Au Niger. I6I. Hicks and A. Flayderman and Co.31 By November the Samorian armoury must have included at least 2. Voyage..Pionniers. 59.000 kg. 136).. and by the end of the campaign against the Humbert column. 1964). See Meniaud... though not in significant numbers.. 50. 69. 4I. Campagne. II. Here I follow Arlabosse op. of powder... 307.13. II. Au Niger.Pionniers. 6o-i. Baratier. Although introduced in The Gras/Kropatschek was it was first used in the Sudan by Frey inI885. Peroz.. E.29 The import of improved weapons began in earnest only after this. Samori's ammunition was largely of Spandau manufacture.... Jandot. The 'Kropatschek' was a Gras gun with Kropatschek magazine system (tube magazine under the barrel) and was the first repeater in French military use.I02 MARTIN LEGASSICK owned by the special guard. end-paper map.. Meniaud.. however. must have been imported from Freetown. for different estimates of the number of Samori's repeaters. Meniaud. 27-30..29 on Tue. At Sikasso later in 1887 Binger saw only three repeaters and a few breechloaders.000-4.. and the major period of was stimulated by the French column under rearmament in I891-92 Archinard..Pionniers. as outlined below. first used against Samori in theI892 campaign. This content downloaded from 192. See also Mevil... probably Gras) and Gras guns of various models. differ slightly. 29 Binger....... 260.000 foot-soldiers 'all the first and more than half the latter' were armed with the new weapons...I. it was replaced inI874 by the Gras gun which had bolt action. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Most of them.. Throughout this work there is information on the rapid arms I891-April I892 period. build-up during the November 33 See Gallieni. Introduced into the French army cavalry and 7. From the other southern rivers. began to make its way up the long trail from Freetown. Peroz.. 15I-2I9 passim..28This would mean that Samori had acquired repeaters.

Meillassoux.34 In late I885 Frey closed the route to the Senegal. neither Binger nor Freeman seem to have seen guns on sale in Bonduku (Binger. although they began to provide Samori's adversary Tieba with repeaters. obtained guns and powder from the Agni through Liberia.) 37 Mevil. I98. ' Histoire. Au Soudan.. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and Sarangye Mori's campaigns in the Bonduku. 36 Kouroubari. To Bonduku came arms from the Ivory Coast ports. But after this both the southern rivers and the Senegal factories probably diminished in importance as sources of arms.37 The Goro and Baoule were also involved in trade through the forest from Grand Lahou and Assinie to Samori. 234ff. exchanging guns and powder for slaves through a series of middlemen. he began to expand eastwards also.). . Markets in Africa (N. II. 554-5. Buna. 1900-1945 (Paris. 286. but also from Diona (Cape Coast). Etudes sur l'Islam en Cote d'Ivoire (Paris: Leroux. I. Travels and Life in Ashanti and Jaman (Westminster.29 on Tue. I8o-i. Binger. 228. Kouroubari also says 'to Kong from the coast'. Marty. 290. Etudes Eburngennes. I22. 136.. 477.W... 410. Samory. As Samori established himself at Dabakala in 1894. 212. Salaga.36 Despite Mevil's assertion that the arms came to Kong from the Gold Coast. According to Suret-Canale. some of which were sent on to Babatu. Samori had supposed that his treaty with the French would mean they would supply him with modern weapons. 393. 3I6-I7. gou.. 316-17.13. I922). Du Niger. 1924. C. Editions Sociales. the intermediaries being Anno merchants. Gurunsi and Lobi areas were at least partly concerned with acquiring arms.. 1962). University Press. Dalton..35 The 1892 campaign established the French firmly down the Milo valley as far as Keruane and resulted in the capture of Samori's large powder depot at Tukoro. they were out of Samori's sphere of influence and unreliable. d'Etudes hist.38 These routes were from the south. Du Niger. 38 This content downloaded from 192.Pionniers. as we gather from Binger and Freeman. R. It was reopened in I886 and Samori was still buying guns at Didi in 1889. A. with Gallieni. I825-I898'. and this now probably became his chief source of flintlocks. There were two routes here. However they had no intention of doing so.39 34 35 Compare Peroz. Freeman.. 219.. Between January and April 1894 he negotiated with the rulers of Kong for guns and powder..167... Babatu obtained powder from the other entrepot.O. 39 Binger.. Freeman. I898). However. a French officer was killed at N'Zapa in I894 when he surprised an arms convoy destined for Samori from Monrovia (J. probably acquired privately from the Senegal. Bohannan and G. Du Niger. sci. See also P.F. according to Kouroubari. the evidence of Binger. He now began to look to the east for new supplies and. suggests that the route was via Groumania from Assinie and Grand Bassam.SAMORI'S ARMY 103 owned by the cavalry 'commandos' prior to I89I indicates that these may have been percussion guns. Constable.. I'A.. II. 1964). in P. . 270..'.. Afrique Noire: l'ere coloniale. each running north and south from a major entrepot.. Arms and powder reached here from the Ivory Coast. Accra and Porto Novo. I64. Com. 102.. Suret-Canale... I. I50. 105. Voyage. 'Social and Economic factors affecting markets in Goroland'. who studied the trade routes some five years before.. E. See M. a northern Ghanaian leader (with whom Sarangye Mori campaigned in i896). 'Contribution a l'etude de l'histoire de l'Ancien Royaume de KenedouBull. viii (I960).. II. 'Kong et sa region'. Meniaud. Bernus. like those of Ahmadu's talibe.. 479 (map). II. Travels. Collieaux.

. But even so. '.. the Samorian state had its own firearms industry. . Samory: sanglant et magnifique (Paris.. rough rifling exists only near the muzzle.42 Perhaps Samori was able to use this method of supply... reported 'the barrel is smooth. had been buying repeaters: 'caravans coming from the Volta served as intermediaries between the English traders and thefa-ma of Kenedugu'.41 Peroz had noted in 892 that Tieba.... 564. ii. the bore is irregular. Samori sent one of his blacksmiths to take a course at the arsenal in St Louis. 546. 45 Meniaud. Samory. Baratier. John Murray.Pionniers. at Sikasso. the blacksmiths have succeeded in making breech mechanisms which operate easily'. See also Mevil.Pionniers. 565. Samory. and moved later with Samori to Dabakala. Kouroubari.... 426-9. or were his supplies confined to those captured and manufactured domestically? Lieutenant Henderson. 163. ii.. See also Marty. According to Ingold. 84. II (London. W. 'Histoire.'.. 131.44 Opinions vary on the quality of the guns produced. Kouroubari.... i82. almost all the blacksmiths there emigrated from Bonduku. as well as Grumania.. and the victories on that occasion and over the French detachment at Buna provided weapons. de Lartigue. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .167. including two seven-pounder cannon. 113 n..'.. 84. Archinard... Freeman.MARTIN I04 LEGASSICK Bonduku and Wa. 'Histoire. W.29 on Tue...' 40 Did Samori buy repeaters from British traders in this region. Meniaud.but in all these weapons. Apart from the arms imported and captured.. See also ibid. 42 Peroz..'. Claridge. captured by Sarangye Mori at Wa. found that the long flintlocks known as 'Dane guns' were in universal use. A History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti.44 The factory was established at first in the mountains above Sanancoro.43They were able to make twelve guns a week and 200-300 cartridges a day: information does not seem to be available on whether the process involved an embryonic factory system with division of labour. documents in the Sudan archives report that this industry employed 300-400 blacksmiths on a permanent basis. Scorpion.. Travels. Au Niger. Production may therefore have slowed down in the transient period between 40 Freeman. x961). while isolated persons have been supplied by native middle-men who have travelled to the coast and invested in a stock which they have retailed on their return to the interior. Islam en C6te d'Ivoire..13. was ransomed for arms.. When a king or chief has required guns and ammunition he has sent down to the coast a number of his followers to make the purchase and convey the goods home. A Travers. who reports that when Samori was at Dabakala. 219. 364. the sights ridiculous.. were conquered and ruled by Samorian forces from I895 until the 'retreat' of I898.. 43 Ingold. Samori could probably not have got repeaters through these sources. 149. 1915). 44 Baratier. and it is significant that a blacksmith was included in the mission he sent to the Ivory Coast in I896.. I63.. and continued: 'The burden of importing these articles has hitherto fallen on the natives. travelling in the hinterland of the Gold and Ivory Coasts in the late I880's.. a professional soldier though perhaps not unprejudiced. A Travers..Rapport. 51.. 2I8.. 41 This content downloaded from 192. . Mevil.

These would certainly have had repeaters as well. Previous writers certainly seem to have paid insufficient attention to the importance of the indigenous firearm industry.. Meniaud. I. 'provenances diverses'. After each battle empty cartridge cases and even the bullets embedded in the trees were collected for reassembly. De Lartigue estimated that the Samorian army had 4. Au Niger. 'fusils a tabatiere' and flintlocks..29 on Tue. Au Soudan.000 repeaters and some 8. I75. 50 Gouraud.52 A tithe was also levied on gold production in the state. campaigning or operating as garrisons. 'modeles differents'. 60 were Gras/Kropatschek... 431. 359.. the chief area 46 The citations from Ingold and Meniaud mention Gras guns.... 49 De Lartigue. The first was revenue from the sale of produce from the field in each village cultivated for the state. 412-I3.. Au Soudan. 38.'.53 Bure.. while the M6vil and Kouroubari accounts describe the weapons as Kropatscheks. Most of these were exchanged in the Futa Jallon for gold dust or cattle which were taken to the coast for the purchase of weapons. passim.48 Other Samorian armies were in the field at the time.. the difference is probably not significant. 'Une phase. and 15 were Martini-Henrys.Rapport. 209. Arlabosse. four were Lebel rifles brought by a general fleeing from Sikasso.167. Peroz. De Lartigue's other vague accounts. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . which were imported. which permitted Samori to continue his resistance when outside supply became more difficult. Of those specifically named by de Lartigue.51 The second source came from the sale of captives.. Samory.13. There were a number of different sources of revenue for the purchase of firearms.. After Samori moved eastward.'. '. 37.50These may have been captured from the British. 51 Peroz. and Peroz records that this was sent directly to the coast for the purchase of revolvers and ammunition for repeaters. munitions. is the source for this paragraph. Earlier reports speak of 'Gras' guns and the later ones of 'Kropatscheks .. 'Une phase. 47 Arlabosse.47 The French mission to Dabakala in I897 reported seeing about I. The French in the later 'pacification' of the southern Ivory Coast had to cope with an extraordinarily large number of firearms.. 413.. though not persussion caps.Pionniers. and other army equipment.. and the figure given by de Lartigue of Samori's resources in June I898 would corroborate this....49 A count of the captures itemized by de Lartigue totals 1.46 Since the latter was merely a Gras gun with Kropatschek magazine percussion guns. 431. of weapons of 'provenances europeens'. Souvenirs. This content downloaded from 192. 52 See notes 63 Peroz.500 repeaters: the others may indeed have been thrown away or hidden...SAMORI S ARMY o05 March 1892 and late I894.... however. though it could be assumed that repeaters were made only in the later stages. 267. . captives were exchanged with ethnic groups of the lower Ivory Coast and with the Gold Coast. Bullets and cartridge cases were also manufactured. 48 Mevil. Gouraud mentions Winchesters and one Lee-Metford in addition.050 repeaters.'. may well apply in large part to locally made firearms.

.. I02.io6 MARTIN LEGASSICK of gold production.. I. Voyage.57 Indeed one of his chief concerns at this time was to prevent the French from cutting his contacts with these areas. Au Niger.... Voyage. 56 See Mauny. In terms of captives. This content downloaded from 192. the acquisition of horses must have put a greater strain on the Samorian economy than the acquisition of arms. and only at the beginning of 1894 54 See Binger. 312-13..54 However.. but after this trade continued. 58 Meniaud. oo00. according to Meniaud. This Frey did from the latter part of 1885 until the treaty of I886. and perhaps because of the mobility it gave to army leaders. i. IFAN. Du Niger.000 to 25. This may explain why the Samorian army's depredations and slave-raiding seem to have been so much more severe in the later years of the regime. and a horse for from 4 to I2.. . for a general discussion of horses in West Africa. which cannot be entered into here.. See also Binger.. I.56 Initially. Mauny. Samori was buying horses in the Ouassulu area.Pionniers. In I892. though Kouroubari puts this transition at a later date.000 cowries... It does not seem profitable to discuss costs of firearms and horses outside the general framework of the long-distance trade.. I. perhaps because of its superior efficiency in the taking of captives.167. I36. a repeater exchanged for 2-4. 105. presumably via Bobo-Diulasso and Kong.. and a horse from 200.. and it is probable that the network of administration which could transmit the revenue from the state fields began to deteriorate after 1892. Tableau geographique de l'Ouest Africain au moyen age (Dakar.. Gallieni... Samori bought horses from Kaarta and the Sahel through the trading networks. both because of their susceptibility to disease and the hard riding they received.. Meniaud.. By I89I he was buying from Macina and the Mossi. 436-7. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Captives had become the only means of buying arms. a musket might cost from 12.II.Pionniers. Peroz. 449.. according to Meniaud.. 65.000 cowries. .55 The supply area for horses was in quite the opposite direction to that for firearms. Du Niger. it became necessary for Samori to look for new supply routes for horses no less than for firearms. I49. 158.. Du Niger... 57 Meniaud. I.. Horses cost far more and could not be bred in the area. Au Niger. I30. however.. In January 1889 Archinard wrote to Tieba apologizing that he was forced to allow Samori to buy arms and horses in the area of Didi !58 As French expansion proceeded.. 293-4. 283-6. 55 Ibid. I96I).. Roughly. according to Meniaud..Peroz. he says.. II.000 to 400. Their average life in the empire was estimated by Binger at about six months. 130.13. THE SUPPLY OF HORSES TO THE SAMORIAN ARMY The Samorian army won its battles through the skilful use of well-trained and well-equipped infantry: times had changed since the cavalry of 'Uthman dan Fodio had galloped victoriously over the savannah to the east.29 on Tue.. 317. 27.Pionniers. Tableau. R.. 283-6. II. But Samori still regarded a cavalry wing as necessary.. Gallieni... See Binger. fell into the hands of the French under the treaties of Keniebakura (i886) and Bissandugu (1887).

13. and de Lartigue's information in June 1898 was that Samori's cavalry forces were between I. 63 See Meniaud. Peroz. Apparently only about 50 horses a year were sold in Salaga itself. 175. Bull..'). Archinard in 1891 reported that Samori was trying to increase cavalry strength to 2. 59 Ibid. 'Histoire.500 horses in a campaign against Babemba in the dry season of I894-95. The detachment which the French mission saw at Dabakala in I897 was and 2.Pionniers.F.. I69. 3I6-I7. d'Etudes hist. (Ibid. (Diem... Collieaux.. Bernus. 27. 'Kong et sa region'. Binger. and the total number taken during the last three months of the campaign is nowhere mentioned. Mevil. Au cavalry. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Horses could have come to Kong both from the direction of Jenne and from the Mossi via Salaga and Bonduku: certainly there was some trade in horses between Kong and the Mossi. 265-75. At Sikasso he began with 250-300 horses...167..61 Compared with the cavalry of earlier Sudanic empires.. 99-I00. I9-20). '.. I.29 on Tue. 285..60 Samori's cavalry probably never much exceeded 1. certainly this force was never evident in campaigns (Meniaud..SAMORI'S ARMY 107 did he send messengers to Kong to negotiate trade. but Binger's description of the Kong market indicates that they were exported to Tieba and came from the north and north-east. Kouroubari asserts that the horses at Kong were obtained from the territories of Tieba. though they came there from as far as Hausaland and from Bussangi. though he remarks that only 12 were of passable quality. 61 The figure of 5.. 62 Binger..59 The need for fresh supplies of horses may have been one aim behind the northward excursions of Sarangye Mori in I896 and of Samori and his armies northward towards Bobo-Diulasso in i897.500 and often it was less. The detachment harassing the French post at Kankan in I89I was probably at no time more than 200. 'Document. Kouroubari. de Lartigue. I.. 555. I83. i. 65. though within six months he was down to I40.. Du Niger. See also notes 72. II. sci. II5.Pionniers. 107-8). 60 See A.. 1897-8'.. Binger writes that only Samori himself (meaning his administration) could purchase horses in the market.'.ooo. 75.. Binger was met elsewhere by a force of 32 cavalry. 296. I58).000 attributed to Peroz by Frey is probably an over-estimate (Frey... Corn.O.000. . it was therefore small in number. Du Niger.. This content downloaded from 192.. Samory.Rapport. The mortality rate must however have been high in the forest regions in which he was travelling. I938. II.. Campagne.63 The Samorian state appears to have strictly controlled the marketing of horses. Most of the Mossi horses came from the Yatenga region. I. 105. 177. I. I2-39.. gives the strength at Sikasso. I6I..62 On major campaigns and parades we have reports of 400 to i. There were undoubtedly army horses in other parts of the state at this time however. Du Niger..64 The private purchase of horses by the 'volunteer' cavalry force described by Peroz would seem to contradict this: either Binger was incorrect or the private cavalry did not exist. de I'A.000-3. 136. Only 60 horses were captured with Samori himself. in skirmishes the number is usually much less. 64 Binger. 'Details retrospectifs sur l'histoire des dernieres operations contre Samori et la prise de l'Almamy..000. .'. I.. Fabou chased the French force retiring from Keniera with 60 cavalry.. Diem describes however the capture of 2.

17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . against Sori Ibrahim because. The last citation is to a document by Mohamed Denfa received by the French presumably at some time between i882 and 1887. composed either of previously acquired captives or of an army whose allegiance he had won. These were the first kun-tigi (appointed leaders).. Sfelt. 7-14. See Binger. Samory le Sanglant (Paris. except that volunteers would have more chance of withdrawal from service than captives. 84-5. and with it the militia.. Peroz. Mori-fin-dian (counsellor and childhood friend). This content downloaded from 192. Amara Diali (a griot).. I. Nassikha Mahdi (a brother of Samori's who died in about i886).65 The probably unreliable document quoted by Duboc states that his army numbered 500 in his first battle. after the defeat of Famadu of Kunadugu (probably 1873) 'his army grew larger every day with the best sofa of neighbouring princes'. Duboc. and leaders with an independent army who allied themselves voluntarily with him. 66 Peroz. according to Peroz. diminished in magnitude as French pressure forced the Samorian state on to a more stringent war footing in the period after 1885. Au Soudan. 134. Islam en C6te d'Ivoire... Au Soudan. F. 392. 388-400. which Peroz perhaps incorrectly assumed was that of amir al mu'minin... 'Almamy Samori: l'homme et son ceuvre'. 140-50 Kouroubari. At first they were his relatives or griots. 67 For example. in contrast to kele-tigi (war-leader) when they were under his field command. Changes in the army structure may then be compared with the information in preceding sections on the supply of firearms and horses to suggest possible causes for change.. I. 'Histoire... Au Soudan. I32. as generals acting independently of Samori were called.. 336.. 397. and.. CHANGES IN THE ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS OF THE SAMORIAN ARMY The outline description of the Samorian army by Binger and Peroz can be taken as a model against which to set other evidence gathered at various times in the history of the empire. I97-200.167. and divided his armies into corps (first seven and then ten).. Fofana Kalil. 68 Peroz.. The various traditions of Samori's rise all show that he began his conquests with the nucleus of a regular force. according to Kouroubari. Malinke Mori and Fabu Ture. F.. Recherches Africaines.. Du Niger.29 on Tue. marrying his eldest daughter). Du Niger. 1947).66 After 1877 the delegated structure of authority broadened when Samori sent two of his brothers. he ceased to campaign in person so extensively. he was reluctant to fight himself against his former master. 398. Marty..Io8 MARTIN LEGASSICK Probably private trade. Au Soudan..13. 544-6.. Binger..'. I (January-March 1963). 'now having occasion to reunite them only to combat an adversary worthy of him'. 113. In the early stages of Samori's conquests there would not have been a formal distinction between the four sources of army recruitment. Mori Ture (who had built up an army and territory in the Odienne area and then allied with Samori.68 The number of times that the French reported that Samori had escaped 65 For these traditions see Peroz..67 After Samori assumed a new politico-religious title.. 404-5. Alpha Umar (a cousin of Samori's).

.. None is mentioned as a relative of Samori.. although it included contingents from most parts of the empire. There were certainly other forces in the field at the time: Amara Diali in the south-east and Liginfali in the south-west. Campagne. each had a force of 12.000. I.. is methodologically spurious. 6i).000 and I. However. and as time went by more of them seem to have been chosen for their specific military capacity. Sekuba and Kunadi Keleba. Peroz gives no basis at all for his estimate. 408. 277. In the one encampment that he counted rather than estimated there were betweeen 320 and 340 troops under Fabu Toure.. drawn from Ouolosegubu. The largest army was that of 20. the impossibility of supplying too large an army with food.13. 69 Such as Liginfali. and neglecting the exempted groups..000..500 to I8. because estimates of the army's losses in the siege vary from 7. I22..500. with the French only nibbling at the outer fringes.750 for the first call-up.. I. The Binger calculation.. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Du Niger. (There was almost certainly more than one general called Sekuba.29 on Tue. The discrepancy is underlined even more at the siege of Sikasso..000.000 which campaigned against the French at the beginning of I885: its reserve of 5. since the army of io. 72 Frey.. Du Niger. but very often the white-robed horseman was another general. i. I34. Several corps were often united in the field under a single command. the incomplete control over the levy. Au Soudan.000 warriors.000 to I5.69 In the succeeding years the centre of the empire must have been at its most peaceful. 376.71 The figures indicate a maximum total army of reservists of 35.. Au Soudan.70 Assuming that this was equally distributed among the provinces.. available weapons.000 to 187. 12. 73 Binger. Bilali.000 men. the necessity for keeping garrisons at home..000 men distributed through the empire.000 was not used as such. Kangare and Faraba.. though Peroz has been quoted as saying that the army totalled 50.. In fact the highest estimate of a Samorian army in the field is 20. Au Soudan. and that one quarter of the population were ablebodied men. 107-8.000-20.73 Replacements must have been continually forthcoming. The cavalry strength may have been as great as i. Binger.. and campaigns in other areas where numbers involved are not mentioned.72 The discrepancy between theory and practice is not hard to understand in view of the initial assumptions. The number of generals increased. and not all at Samori's disposal. 314. This figure parallels that given by Mohamed Denfa: when the army was divided up between several chiefs. 71 Peroz. this gives a guideline for the reserve of each province at between 700 and 3. 96-99.750 for the second.000-8..... and perhaps Bilali also (Binger. Duboc. where Binger estimated the army to be not more than 5.. gives a complete list. lower of the two. Au Soudan. Samory. The two sources may not be independent (Duboc. even in the battle of Kokoro (Peroz..000. he says. 408)..SAMORI'S ARMY Io9 from a battle by the skin of his teeth might seem to belie this. Samori was present at least in the campaigns of i885 and at the battle of Kommodo had 400-500 cavalry and also Samori is reported to have lost 400-500 horses in the campaign (Peroz. Du Niger. 197-200).167.. 149). Samory.. however (suggesting that this was a 'i in o' call-up). though it is impossible to discuss this here..000 men 'because of the deficient surveillance exercised over the regularity of the levy'.. Estimates of the total population of the empire at this time vary between 280.) 70 Peroz. Peroz records that the maximum callup in each province produced only I2. This content downloaded from 192. and 3..

they had to get ahead of the retreating force. Behind Samori was his guard of 500 young men.000 men: such as that of Fabu in the I883 campaign around Bamako.. io6. Estimates for Keniera vary wildly from 400 to 0o. and another brother (Nassikha Mahdi?).000 is probably most accurate.000 each under the commands of Malinke Mori.000 and men at the end of I885 probably consisted of at least two such corps.. 'On the other Campagne. Fabu Toure.g.Pionniers.13. Au Soudan. little distinction is made among the different recruitment areas. by diminishing the mobility of the army.. Major battles were fought by carefully arranged fixed lines. Fabu with a small cavalry force after Keniera in i882). each possibly containing a 'battalion' of i. forced a reliance on numbers to combat the French. When they were used (e. Au Soudan. 33. and since many of them would have remained on garrison duty in their provinces. 254). as would have been possible with less cumbersome firearms...74 Malinke Mori's army of 8. as regards range. Once these were broken there was little hope of re-forming the army for further offence or defence on the same day. Vivid contemporary descriptions of mounted men with whips urging the infantry to the attack would substantiate this... 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. and form an This. with 5. 177. . 558. 77 The only evidence found which differentiates between regular army and reservists is in Peroz's account of his visit to Kenieba-Kura for the treaty of I886. 78 See. Only a large army could hope to pose 74 See note 72.IIO MARTIN LEGASSICK The army which campaigned against the French at the beginning of I885 had three corps of 5. The poor quality of the army's firearms at this time. conditioned Samorian strategy...29 on Tue.Pionniers.. One source reports that there were I. Peroz. In the event of a cavalry charge... In various campaigns its strength is estimated as between 400 and i.'.ooo men! Mevil's of 4.167.500 and 3. 'Histoire. were ranged the troops called from neighbouring regions to assist at this imposing ceremony. an army in battle at this time can be visualized as consisting primarily of reservists directed by permanent army sofa-kun. and behind him five companies of 200oo young men each (regular army from five provinces?)..000 in the reserve under Samori himself who was in overall command. I..' (Meniaud. rather than use tactics of constant harassment. 75 Frey. 549). the army besieging Keniera in i881. Mevil Samory. 159-61. 296-302). This content downloaded from 192.500 men. half the chiefs of squads of ten would leave their detachments and join the cavalry. accuracy and speed of reloading. .ooo cavalry with the army (Kouroubari.75 A normal campaigning army at this time might comprise between 3. 76 Meniaud. rather scattered but in distinct groups.76 In the sources from which these estimates are derived. for example.. the description of the siege of Niafadie in I885 (Peroz.. io.77 Since the regular army at this time would have comprised between 2. I.78 The cavalry consisted of as many sofa-kun as could be mounted and such volunteer horsemen as there were. or that of Bole Mamoru marching against Tieba in i890.. On one side was Malinke Mori with 200 cavalry. The use of small skirmishing forces to chase retreating French troops was rare and ineffective. since there were four diassas (camps surrounded by palisades) around the town.

Du Niger. The sofa line in the major engagements of the 1891 and I892 campaigns was never over 2. when Combes turned back. Samory. Au Niger. 82 See Meniaud. 285. 'Une phase.Pionniers..81 The new firearms were in large measure responsible for this. split the army into small groups to harasshim (Mevil. . the Samorian army numbered 5. Peroz. and the more dramatic instance of Koruba Mussa. Peroz and Baratier amongst others were high in their praise of the Samorian army.80 French observers were amazed at the discipline and manoeuvrability of the Samorian forces. as is evident from a comparison of the descriptions by Binger and Peroz in I887 with that of the French mission of I897. A Travers. Au Soudan.'... The harassment during the remainder of the French retreat from Niafadie had been largely ineffectual.29 on Tue. passim). Baratier cites the case of N'Golo. except as a delaying tactic.. which is ironic. Thus at the battle of Kokoro.... Au Niger.. Meniaud.. . I63.. See. Peroz.. Peroz... More 79 Ibid. and was assumed killed..Pionniers. 12-17).000 but could offer only this single and carefully planned serious threat to the French before they entered their fort at Niagassola.. Samory. A clear instance was in the campaign against the Combes column (February-March I893).000 and usually less. II. Au Niger. Mevil. Arlabosse.... and the 'guerilla' detachments which harassed every French force as it retreated from its point of maximum penetration were much smaller. a tirailleur who became a Samorian sofa-kun. or alternatively a retention of the same firepower in a line with smaller forces. I. passim.. Repeaters improved the situation further. Au Niger. Breechloaders could be reloaded from a prone position. This content downloaded from 192. 174-6. passim. 80 For the major engagements see Mevil. Peroz..167.. At this time he began to use tirailleur deserters. 40.. 80-4. Enrolled in the spahi force (cavalry) he disappeared after being sent on a mission from the battlefield. 411. Samori used smaller forces which could be more easily supplied and better trained and which were also more mobile. He delivered the message. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ... and the use of a cartridge speeded the reloading.. 211). 15 . He had acquired valuable experience in the 'winter school'! (Baratier.. On occasion French commands and bugle calls would be used by the sofa to confuse their enemy (Binger.. I6o. 303-I7.82 Snipers and cavalry skirmishing groups (which could now fire without dismounting) began to be used more extensively... now found himself fired at at a distance of 700 yards with considerable accuracy! (Peroz.. to introduce greater discipline in the army. and perhaps also veterans of the British forces in Sierra Leone.. 347..SAMORI'S ARMY III a threat to a retreating French force.13. Au Niger.'. The numbers for the 'guerilla' detachments are often not given though it is evident they are small.. 81 Peroz. and Arlabosse.. and their earlier derogatory remarks on African musketry were replaced by comments on the accuracy of Samori's riflemen. in the campaign of I892 the charging spahi force was brought to a halt in one battle by the voice of Koruba Mussa calling from the line of sofa. when Samori retired east and south until the French were exhausted and.. who 'deserted' to the French at Kankan in I89 . for example. II. ' Une phase.. io4ff.... 159).79 When combat with the French was resumed in the I890's.. i66. Peroz.. the number of Samorian troops involved in campaigns was far fewer. etc. Peroz. Au Soudan. However. Samory. who had once written that Samori's guns 'never fired at more than thirty paces with any chance of success'.. 99. French commands and techniques were introduced to a considerable extent. The sofa could thus reload in safety without withdrawing temporarily from the firing line and being replaced. This permitted more extensive use of the same manpower.

Samori seems to have retained the personal corps. '. 25I.. totalled 4.500 men in repulsing a French expedition from the Southern Rivers. or might see a Samorian official installed to organize recruitment on a more regular basis. 1897) was 7. for even when the French had set up posts in an area Samori was still able to control it for some time. 28-39).ooo. Expressed in another way.. Histoire. Au Niger. Meniaud. described by Peroz... 76. and was retained as a unit in subsequent years. 'Une phase. which was fought by the elite corps of the time.167.. since horses would not have been readily available to private purchasers. 113 n.II2 MARTIN LEGASSICK than one fixed-line battle would be fought on the same day. Particularly in the new areas of conquest to the east.86 Sarangye Mori's army at the time of the Buna incident (August. Those who co-operated might be required to furnish detachments..000. 86 Arcin... destined for high command in the future. though not to the size of the total army of former days. those who enrolled would have been captives rather than peasants serving a term of conscription.. Peroz. Bilali's army in February I89I.85 This must have then been Samori's personal guard. the call-up system as previously organized gave way to a system in which men were drafted (or compelled) into the army on a more permanent basis. Chiefs who resisted Samori would see their villages burnt and their people taken for the army or sold as captives.13.29 on Tue. replaced the reserve as the main strength of the Samorian army from this time. 483-4.. Although against the French Samori employed forces in the neighbourhood of I.. Gouraud.Rapport. But by this time the military tradition of the army had produced a new elite corps who were then in the field.. These were the 500 sofa of Dabadugu. Souvenirs.. The importance of detachments provided by chiefs was intimately related to the nature of Samori's civil administration after 1892 on which there is not much evidence. The force had 300 repeaters and 40 cavalry at this time..000 strong: The battles of Sombi-ko and Diaman-ko on 0o January I892 are a good example. which acquired through the victory a new esprit de corps..'. therefore.83 The regular army probably. The 'volunteer militia' would also have decreased in importance as a separate unit.. 83 84 85 This content downloaded from 192. as Samori withdrew his troops in an orderly fashion to another line of defence. The battle is described by Arlabosse and by Peroz (Arlabosse.. probably by enrolling captives from conquered villages. . although again he used only 1. campaigning in the west. raw recruits) who were presumably undergoing special training. Thus in June 1898 de Lartigue reported that the personal guard of Samori consisted of bilakoro (i. the old organization probably continued. his armies which campaigned in outlying areas for long periods grew to a larger size than this.. 465-9.. The cavalry was probably simply a wing of the permanent army.'. De Lartigue.84 The name derived from a Samorian victory against the French near Kankan in the rainy season of I89I.Pionniers. In the areas where the empire was established before i890.000-8.. II.e. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The regular army thus expanded in size.

Duboc is almost certainly mistaken in saying 700-800..88 In the dry season of 1894-95. for example. campaigning near Korhogo with a force of 800. o08. activities would continue as normal. i88-.. 'Histoire. Leroux. A Travers.'.13.93 87 L..89 Forces of about this size were used for garrisoning important posts in freshly occupied territory.87 Other armies on these raiding campaigns were much smaller.e. 92 Ibid. While Samori fought the Humbert column in I892.. 93 Kouroubari. 427-8.). . 175 if.. 'the faithful allies of Kabadugu'.Pionniers. Samory. those provided only with percussion guns or Chassepots were divided into two groups each with their own function. 88 Meniaud.. 90 91 Mevil. Bilali was engaged against a French mission in the region north of Sierra Leone. Tauxier.. Samori employed three armies. as far as possible. more than 2.29 on Tue. The campaigning continued throughout the year. Sekuba and Sarangye Mori. 179. There are not many figures available for this.. But there is no reason to suppose that Samori's strategy was so inflexible that there were of necessity two other armies. Le Noir de Bondoukou (Paris. Samory. those of Foruba Mussa. II6--I7. 559 8 AH VII This content downloaded from 192. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pushing to the east. 177. Au Niger.... Samory. 72-3. perhaps indicating a recent departure from the capital. History of the Gold Coast. The first of these groups was responsible for guarding and controlling the population. 'Document...000 men) was with Sarangye Mori (Duboc. and Sekuba was campaigning in the area of Seguela. or that their functions were divided so clearly.. and at the same time Karamoko was engaged in the area to the north of Kouroussa with some 300 cavalry 'and a certain number of footsoldiers'. as the French columns retreated when their supply lines had been stretched to the limit by the Samorian 'burn and retire' tactics. Diem. was marching to the Bagoe.SAMORI'S ARMY II3 this after he had been actively campaigning for two years..'.'91 There were always Samorian armies operating on fronts other than the French one. 361-2. re-occupying the old.. Against the French Monteil column of 1895.167. and in particular on Samori's eastern front from i891 onwards.. Mevil. as was Bilali at Kaloa with probably a similar number... since the French mission at Dabakala reported at this time that the major part of the army (i. Kunadi Keleba.. Kali Sidibe raided across the Niger with about 500 men. while Bilali at least must have been engaged elsewhere. the second conquered in the east the territories which regained an empire for the sultan towards which he would direct the exodus. but that of 300 sofa in a garrison encountered by the French may be representative. Kali Sidibe's cavalry included some of II. In the rainy season of 1891. 89 Ahmadu's ex-talibes..90 The examples given above show that the classic French exposition of post. 69-70. In areas where there was no French danger. while another army of Samori's.. retreating foot by foot. both in conquering new territory and. was besieged at Pabara by Babemban forces.890 Samorian strategy is over-simplified: 'While all the troops armed with repeaters fought against us.. Baratier. See also Peroz.. 1921).92 Usually smaller detachments in between maintained links between the larger armies. Claridge.

the French did not halt their offensive with the start of the rainy season. Mamadiu Berele and other chiefs of lesser importance. deprived of this breathing space. had now deserted his supplies of horses to move westward where he was better assured of firearms. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 94 See de Lartigue.167. so high during the previous ten years. Other detachments were under the command of Amadu Ture. '.. Despite the size of the army and the huge following of 120. Mori-fin-dian.94 The period of relative French quiescence from 1895 to 1897 had allowed the Samorian army to grow substantially in size from what it had been during the years I891-94. From other sources we can obtain some idea of how these numbers were distributed. The Samorian army thus had a well-defined structure which was modified over time according to the forces at its disposal. the march was carried out with precision and speed. and the French victory against Samorian forces at Doue at last broke the morale of the sofa. To the west of Kong was the army of Kunadi Keleba. and the kind and number of firearms and horses Samori was able to obtain. 95 De Lartigue. In broader terms. Kiesseri. deserted by many of his troops for the first time.. In particular such study might cast light on the activities of Samorian forces that were not directly engaged against the French. the conditions of campaigning. as de Lartigue himself comments..500 men to each of them.. too. This content downloaded from 192..000 civilians. while from the areas of Djimini and Koyaradugu came two detachments totalling 1. Samori. But he found himself trapped in a mountainous semi-forest region.000-3.. Mevil.II4 MARTIN LEGASSICK In June I898 de Lartigue estimated the Samorian army at I2. Against the background provided here. each campaign could be studied in greater detail by drawing on locally gathered evidence.000-I. Samori began the march from Boribana to the south-west which was to end in his capture at the end of September 1898.500 men together. Samory. political and diplomatic as well as military. Samori had with him Foruba Mussa and Sekuba with 400 repeaters and I.000 men. and Samori. I 4ff. and Bilali was covering Boribana in the west in the region of N'Gauaoui: it would not be unreasonable to allocate I.'. At the time when de Lartigue was gathering his figures on the army. At Boribana. '. 189.'.29 on Tue. 212-I3. For the first time.000 men and probably still had the same number. of whom about 4.95 The capture of Sikasso had precipitated the guns of 'different models'. The 'army of Kong' comprised commands under Moctar and Sarangye Mori at this time: in February they had commanded 2.Rapport.13.000 were armed with repeaters.. was captured by a small French striking force which burst upon his camp from an unexpected direction on 29 September 1898. precise knowledge of Samori's military campaigns and the whereabouts of his armies provides the essential basis for an adequate account of his long resistance. and with vastly decreased mobility.Rapport. who a year earlier had sought to go northward towards the Mossi to build a fresh empire where there were supplies of horses. and guns from the Gold Coast.. II3 n..

Initially the Samorian army was armed with muskets from the coast. and horses from the north-western part of the Sudan. 8-2 This content downloaded from 192. The manoeuvrability of his forces. 17 Jun 2014 04:47:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the regular army replaced the conscripts as the major strength of Samori's army. Here. The evidence suggests that it built up to its maximum size by I890. From mid-I89g to mid-I892 the muskets were replaced with breechloaders and repeaters obtained by direct negotiation between Samori and Freetown traders. as formerly in the west. After I891. perhaps. played a major part in making this possible. The emphasis on infantry rather than cavalry differentiated it from the armies of other nineteenth-century Islamic reformers. with a nucleus of regular officers commanding the mass of conscripts. of volunteers. the French advance cut Samori off. Samori was able to use existing trade routes. After this. and speed of loading. with their greater range.13. accuracy. partially at least. as well as the diplomatic and military strategy of the Samorian state. from I893-98 the search for new supply areas was a major preoccupation of the Samorian regime. and a cavalry force consisting in part. and changed in the process from a force of volunteers to a structured army. who could be supplied more easily and manoeuvred more effectively. In the later years they may have relied more on indigenously made firearms than on imported weapons.167. and during this period or before it an indigenous firearms industry was established. Arms came from the Ivory Coast and the Gold Coast. detachments sent by chiefs under Samori's protection. Most writers have assumed that the structure of Samori's army remained constant. therefore. The length of Samori's period of resistance was largely due to his ability to make effective strategic retreats to areas uncontrolled by the French.SAMORI'S ARMY II5 SUMMARY The army of Samori Ture in 1887 was recruited from four sources: the regular army of sofa (infantrymen with firearms). and hence the modern weapons he had. were the supply of firearms and horses. allowed Samori to employ smaller forces of better-trained men. from his sources of supply. primarily Freetown. The acquisition of repeaters. Among the factors which influenced the structure and tactics of the army.29 on Tue. and horses from the Mossi states. the conscripted reserve of kurustigi.