They were willing to surrender Jenner’s killers and pay any number of livestock demanded by the British: they had a letter from Sultan Murgan to demonstrate their commitment to peace.
The peace offering was brushed aside by Col Ternan, saying he could only discuss peace on condition that all the chiefs involved in Jenner’s attack surrendered.
On February 7, 1900, Sultan Murgan and three other chiefs surrendered to the British and were escorted under heavy guard to Kismayu. Still, Col Ternan insisted the surrender of all the five ringleaders and a fine of 30,000 cattle and an annual tribute of 200 more.
During this stalemate Afmadow was surrounded with one mountain gun, one company of 16th century Bombay infantry, 90 camels with 10 days’ supply of food and another 60 loaded with water.
With Afmadow surrounded, Col Ternan and his soldiers launched a manhunt for the fugitive chiefs. On February 16, a column of Government troops reached Samasse at around dawn where a 10-minute battle was fought that changed the course of history.
Unknown to Ternan’s forces, their prey had spied them arrive and surrounded and pounced on the column. During the ensuing gun battle, Lt Col Maitland was killed, as well as Dr Mann. In total, 17 soldiers lost their lives and 22 soldiers were injured.
Col Ternan would later claim that his side had killed 150 men although only 17 bodies were recovered, among them Hasan Oorfa and Aden Hagel – chiefs who were being sought for Jenner’s death.
The British troops tried to pursue the attackers who had escaped with all the livestock, but gave up after only seven miles as the guerrillas split into very many units, making it impossible to follow all, as their food and water supplies were dangerously low.
Still smarting from the defeat, Ternan proposed to Eliot and London that he be allowed to carry out a punitive expedition and make Afmadow his headquarters.
At first his request to occupy Afmadow and nearby areas was granted but later rejected on realisation that the cost of maintaining the troops outweighed the benefits. Intelligence reports received on April 14 indicated that the man who had killed Jenner died three days after the ambush at Samasse, from injuries sustained during the attack.
Fearing that the Government orders may be misinterpreted, London ordered Eliot to go to Kismayu where he arrived on April 21 and after lengthy consultations, arrived at an agreement that averted any more skirmishes.
In a face-saving telegram wired to London from Kismayu, Eliot told his bosses: “I have agreed with Col Ternan to inform your lordship that the mission was a success as it has established order in Juba and Mfudu.
The Sultan of Ogaden has agreed to pay 5000 cattle as indemnity as the actual killer of Jenner has been killed.” Despite losing the war, Eliot wrote history and claimed victory but Afmadow remained defiant.