Mende raiders caught Mr. Goodman, “an educated young Sierra Leonean clerk,” at Mocolong, where he “was first tortured by having his tongue cut out, and then being decapitated.” His was a brutal fate, not unlike those which befell scores of his fellow Sierra Leoneans in the spring of 1898. Others were stripped of their Europeanstyle clothes and systematically dismembered, leaving only mutilated bodies strewn across forest paths or cast into rivers. Stories of harrowing escapes and near-death encounters circulated widely. Missionary stations burned and trading factories lost their stocks to plunder. Desperate cries were heard in Freetown. Send help. Send gun-boats. Send the West India Regiment. Almost two years after the British had legally extended their control beyond the colony of Sierra Leone, Mende locals demonstrated that colonial law had yet to win popular assent.
In 1898 Great Britain fought a war of conquest in the West African interior. To the northeast of the Colony, armed divisions pursued the Temne chief Bai Bureh's guerrilla fighters through the hot summer months, while in the south the forest ran with Mende “war-boys,” small bands of fighters who emerged onto mission stations and trading factories, attacked, and then vanished. Mr. Goodman had had the misfortune to pursue his living among the latter. In the north, Bai Bureh fought a more easily definable ‘war,’ a struggle which pitted his supporters against imperial troops and other easily identified representatives of the colonial government. No reports of brutalities done to civilians ensued. In the south, however, Sierra Leoneans and missionaries, both men and women, joined British troops and officials on the casualty rolls.