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#294
Madagascar
Keymaster

A treaty perceived at the moment of its signature as a plank of salvation will, in fact, lead to Tsimiaro and his people a new servitude. According to the historian Micheline Rasoamiaramanana (International Colloquium of History from July 27 to August 1, 1987 in Antsiranana), the (French) authorities of Nosy Be have to manage to sign treaties with all the princes of North and North-West of Madagascar who refuse merina domination, to set up a local army. Commanded by some French officers, “this one would march towards the interior of the country in order to seize, in the name of France, the Imerina and all the eastern coast of Cap d’Ambre at Fort-Dauphin.”
If Tsimiaro is to give up a rapid and far-reaching action likely to permanently oust the conquerors of the Central Highlands, it is no longer possible for him to renounce the realization of his project. It will therefore reconnect with the usual tactics of harassment and raid against foreigners, Merina or Europeans, creating a permanent climate of insecurity in the country.
“Considering the adjacent islands as bases of departure, the king and Antankarana constantly carry out the offensive. Taking advantage of the mediocrity of the Merina logistics, they launched in 1842 an expedition against the garrison of Hiarana, the main commercial port of the region, from three camps. What causes the death of those who are sent against the assailants, the fahavalo, that is to say of the manamboninahitra (officers) of 9, 8 and 7 honors and soldiers. “
In 1844-1845, Tsimiaro controlled virtually the entire area north of Antongil Bay by troops estimated at 6,000 individuals from Nosy Be, Nosy Faly and Nosy Mitsio. They make it difficult, if not impossible, for communications between the garrisons and the government of Antananarivo, itself engaged in a conflict against the French and the English in Toamasina.
At that time, the most important operations against the garrisons of Ambohimarina were typical of the methods used, the location of the fort at the top of a mountain very difficult to climb, making it practically impregnable. “As it depends for its supply of the flat country and its surroundings, the Antankarana attack, first of all, the resources, objects of robbery and systematic plundering: stealing of cattle, catches of crops, rice and cassava, Abduction of persons. In 1845, these practices led to a real famine and forced the governor of the garrison, Rakoto, to pay the 100 dollars (500 francs) of reserve for the purchase of food for the soldiers. The attackers invested the area and mounted small expeditions with 10 to 20 people or 15 canoes when they arrived by sea. “
The direct attack of the fort defended by five guns during the second phase of the operations, provoked a response from the besieged and a pursuit of the Antankarana which ends with the complete rout of the Merina.
“Besides individual weapons, they have only one field gun,
Exploded in full action, resulting in the loss of 132 men; Completely disorganized by the loss of the cannon, the merina troops lose 64 men, and the others owe their salvation only to the timely presence of a forest where they can take refuge. “
For the Merina derided by their enemies, the overall results of these operations resulted in the loss of 680 oxen and highlighted the inadequacy of the troops, despite the assistance provided by the garrisons of Vohijanahary and Maroantsetra. This deficiency, which remains one of the permanent weaknesses of the merina garrisons during the nineteenth century, is “due to the quasi-insufficiency of the succession and the importance of the desertions”. After the attacks on the garrison of Ambohimarina, the number of soldiers is 109, valid for 45 deserters, a high figure because there is neither salary nor bonus in charge.
The Merina are not the only targets of Tsimiaro and his men who desolate the whole country and even attack the property of the Europeans, especially the settlers. If the French authorities of Nosy Be can not do anything, the whites of Vohémar (a dozen) threaten to put themselves at the head of the Hovas (Les Merina) in order to obtain reparation and to check repeated thefts and persecutions. Neither the Merina nor the French did not intend to renounce the treaty already signed, and reacted to curb the warlike ardor of the Antankarana. In 1845, the Colonial leadership threatened Tsimiaro with “the withdrawal of the pension that the French State allocates to him” if it persists in its bellicose attitude, and the government merina strengthens the garrison of Ambohimarina.