ans document

Correspondence du Commandant du Camp à Galougo (December 31, 1887 to March 27, 1888)
in ANS 15 G 118

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

Go to Table of Contents Read Disclaimer

These notes are from a logbook of correspondence sent by the army commander of a construction work site at Galouga to his superiors. Galougo became one of the earliest train stations on the Chemin de Fer Kayes-Niger, just west of Bafoulabé.

The original messages were sent during the spring of 1888, at a time when the French army engineers employed African laborers to dismantle the Decauville used for the construction of the main railroad line, so that it could be used farther east beyond Bafoulabé.

During this period, the command at Galougo was passed from Capitaine Fromental to Capitaine Mahmadou Racine. In the same period, the Commandant du Cercle moved from Kayes to Bafoulabé on February 11, 1888, and on to Badumbé on March 9, 1888.

Many items deal with desertion by workers, transfers of personnel, explanations for the delay in removing the Decauville, transit by various civilians and merchants, and problems associated with getting Africans to move to the Village Faidherbe (see Village de Liberté at Galougo. African recruitment was in the hands of people like Oltiné Kéfi, but he was not very successful.

NOTE: I passed through Galougo by train in daylight on March 21, 1992. It is a small village located high above the Senegal River at a pretty location. However, it would require a "longish" hike to get water from the river.


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant à Bafoulabé (Galougo, December 31, 1887)

He received notice from the Commandant du Cercle that he would be dismissed if he couldn't deliver the Decauville to Moumania by January 3, 1888. He asked for no favors, only the colonel's interest. A subordinate named Champmartin was in charge of a group of laborers.


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant du Cercle Kayes (Galougo, December 31, 1887)

Please send me two labor foreman (surveillants) ASAP "parlant francais et serieux" (French-speaking and with good work attitudes).


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant à Bafoulabé, Colonel de la Colonne,
n°2 (Galougo, January 2, 1888)

1,100 meters of track were laid by this point.


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant à Bafoulabé, Colonel de la Colonne,
n°3 (Galougo, January 3, 1888)

Send more laborers.


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant à Bafoulabé and Commandant du Cercle,
n°4 (Galougo, January 3, 1888)

There were seven deserters and the men refuse to work.


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant du Cercle,
n°7 (Galougo, January 4, 1888)

Fourteen Moors in Lt. Champmartin's group deserted during the night.


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant du Cercle,
n°8 (Galougo, January 4, 1888)

Capitaine Mahmadou Racine was put in command of the workers at Galougo during the dismantling of the Decauville. Lt. Champmartin was supposed to report to the Commandant à Bafoulabé on the progress of the work. Capitaine de Fromental complained because Champmartin was his subordinate, not Racine's.


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant du Cercle,
n°13 (Galougo, January 20, 1888)

Four spahis had not been paid since December 26, 1887. Their names were Talary (or Bakary) Biton (#0460), Monté? Gaye (#0416), Samba? Kouloubari (#0470) and Bakary Kouloubary (#0499)


Capitaine de Fromental to Commandant du Cercle,
n°19 (Galougo, January 29, 1888)

Some men came to Galougo to settle in response to a French attempt to encourage Africans to settle along the rail line. The names are not clear, but appear to be "Saféré, son forgeron et autre indigènes" (Saféré, his blacksmith/griot and other Africans). Capitaine Racine complained that a local leader named Octéné had failed to send more men, and asked the Commandant du Cercle to apply pressure.


Capitaine Racine to Lt. Sadioka at Manillakourou,
n°23 (Galougo, February 11, 1888)

Lt. Sadioka commanded a work detachment at Manillakourou, located between Galougo and Bafoulabé. Refering to a supply column, Racine told Sadioka to send the 95-man column on to Bafoulabé, then have them return to work at Manillakourou. The 95 men included 36 laborers from Birama, 30 from Moriba and 29 from Sadáo Bembélé.


Capitaine Racine to Capitaine Adjoint à Kayes
n°24 (Galougo, February 14, 1888)

This is a request for "400 bonbons de 3 centimeter entre tête et ècrou, de 10
ná 11 mm de diametre"
(nuts and bolts).


Capitaine Racine to Commandant du Cercle and Commandant à Bafoulabé,
n°26 (Galougo, February 15, 1888)

Artilleryman Micouleau #25842 of the Compagnie d'Auxilliaires died from pneumonia. The spelling isn't clear; the name could also be Mercoulean.


Capitaine Racine to Commandant du Cercle à Bafoulabé,
n°31 (Galougo, February 19, 1888)

The "village de Faidherbe s/c Galougo" was still under construction. Three concessions had been laid out and each had a building under construction. The aforementioned local leader, Oltiné Kéfi, doesn't seem to be providing enough people.


Capitaine Racine to Commandant du Cercle à Bafoulabé,
n°33 (Galougo, February 20, 1888)

This is another reference to the local leader Oltiné Kéfi. It looks like he was responsible for constructing the "village de Bordeaux" at Babouko (between Galougo and Diamou). However, he doesn't have enough labor, so he asked Capitaine Racine to send some men from Galougo. The same note mentions tirailleurs who left for Médine to rejoin their company.


Capitaine Racine to Médicin à Bafoulabé,
n°41 (Galougo, February 23, 1888)

All medical supplies in Galougo had been sent on to Bafoulabé. Nothing remained in Galougo.


Capitaine Racine to Commandant du Cercle à Bafoulabé, n°43 (Galougo, February 23, 1888)

M. Hourst arrived in Galougo (on his way to the Niger River).


Capitaine Racine to Commandant du Cercle à Bafoulabé, n°67 (Galougo, March 4, 1888)

Sgt. Collins left to take a new post at Diamou. Two more men deserted; one from Saloum and the other from Bakary Kassaté (spelling?)


Capitaine Racine to Commandant du Cercle à Badumbé,
n°69 (Galougo, March 6, 1888)

There were some merchants who wanted to use the Decauville to ship merchandise to Bafoulabé. They claimed to have authorizations from Kayes. Their names were Riquièr, St. Jean, and Massville or Mainville.


Capitaine Racine to Sous-Lt. Sadioka (Galougo, March 11, 1888)

Sadioka was scheduled to replace Capitaine Racine during his vacation. This is the list of personnel at Galougo. There was a detachment of tirailleurs, 1 European worker, and two work crews. The first work crew was commanded by two men, Dakory and Sidé, and had 43 men. The second work crew was commanded by Yary, with 23 men. The tirailleurs had one caporal-sécretaire, one caporal faisant le service, ten tirailleurs (two assigned to the medical staff; i.e. l'ambulance), and the European worker, who was responsible for the repair of the company's 20 "wagonnets de service journalièr" (probably similar to wheelbarrows).


Capitaine Racine to Commandant du Cercle à Bafoulabé, n°79 (Galougo, March 13, 1888)

Tirailleur Démbala reported from a trip to see a local leader named Oltiné Kéfi. Oltiné Kéfi said he asked five "chefs de cas" to move their people to the Village Faidherbe at Galougo. However, Oltiné Kéfi said that his country was already depopulated, and many people preferred to flee across the river (towards Kaarta and the north) than live in the new villages. Oltiné Kéfi refused to come to Galougo personally or to obey the commandant's order to send the five chefs de cas. Capitaine Racine blamed this on Oltiné Kéfi's "mauvais volonte" (ill will, or bad attitude).


Capitaine Racine to Capitaine Adjoint à Kayes,
n°84 (Galougo, March 26, 1888)

Please inform Ouman Tall in Médine that some of the laborers he provided from Médine, Keniera, Lontou and Iapaka (or Tapaka) had deserted.


Capitaine Racine to Commandant du Cercle à Badumbé
(Galougo, March 27, 1888)

Capitaine Racine reports a problem with a M. Portier who demanded that Racine stay at least two kilometers away from him "parce que je l'embarrasse" (Portier claimed that Racine embarrasses him). Portier appears to have been after the job of transporting the (now dismantled) Decauville rails to Bafoulabé.


See also page 77 of the 1931 book by Jacques Méniaud , an early account of the military occupation, and pages 275, 547-548 & 563 of the 1986 dissertation by Monique Lakroum on the railroad's commercial impact.