A. B. (Alfred Burdon) Ellis.

A history of the Gold Coast of West Africa online

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and promised to undo what could yet be undone. A
large number of the refugees had already been sold and
carried off the coast, but some still remained in the dun-
geons of the Castle, and these were now released. Having
accomplished this, Mr. Swanzy returned to Accra, where he
fell a victim to the fatigue and exposure he had undergone.

Colonel Torrane died in 1808, and a letter written by
Mr. White shortly after that event, and which was preserved
amongst the archives of Cape Coast Castle as late as
1850, discloses another iniquity committed by him. On
February loth, 1808, Mr. White informed the Committee that
Torrane died in debt to the people of Cape Coast to the
value of forty slaves, " Assins whom they seized at the
time the Governor captured Tchibbu, and whom he sold
off the coast." It appears that, in order to purchase the
co-operation of some of the people of Cape Coast in seizing
Tchibbu and Aputeh, he promised that they should be
allowed to enslave as many of their followers as they could
capture ; and then, to save them the trouble of finding
buyers, kindly took them off their hands himself, and sold
them with the other captives who fell to his own share.
Thus, after having promised an asylum at Cape Coast to
the Assin chiefs and their followers, he surrendered one
chief to a cruel death, sold forty of their followers for the
supposed benefit of his native accomplices, and kept the
money himself.

The convention with Colonel Torrane did not put an
end to the war, for the peace that had been concluded
was only with the English, and the natives, except those
of the town of Cape Coast, were not included in it. Kwaku
Aputeh was still at large, and Akum, of Essikuma, who


had succeeded in getting together a considerable force, was
advancing to meet the Ashantis. The King hastened to
leave Anamabo, where his army was beginning to suffer
severely from the bad supply of water and the pestilential
effluvia arising from the putrid bodies of the still unburied
slain; and on July 3rd, 1807, ne broke up his camp and
went to meet Akum. Two days later he came upon the
Fanti army a little to the east of Cormantine. A great
battle took place, which was witnessed by Torrane; the
Fantis soon gave way on all sides, leaving the beach covered
with heaps of dead, and Akum and the remnant of his
army would have been entirely destroyed had they not
escaped across the Oki River, which lay in their rear, and
with the fords of which the Ashantis were unacquainted.

After this defeat the Fantis were never able to take
the field in force, but a guerilla warfare was kept up,
during which the stragglers of the Ashanti army were cut
off, and several insignificant skirmishes took place, while
the Ashantis moved leisurely through Fanti towards Accra,
leaving famine and desolation in their train. They were
encamped for some time in the neighbourhood of Winnebah,
which town they destroyed in October, 1807. Then small-
pox broke out amongst them, and committed such frightful
ravages that towards the end of the year the King returned
to Kumassi without having returned to Anamabo, as he
had promised Torrane to do, for the purpose of entering
into a definite treaty. Ashanti detachments were left at
Accra to collect prisoners, and dispose of such as they did
not wish to carry back to Ashanti.


The Fantis attack Elmina Message from the Ashanti King Condition
of the country Rebellion of Akim and Akwapim Second invasion
of Fanti Murder of Mr. Meredith at Winnebah Third invasion of
Fanti The Fantis purchase a peace End of the war Embassy to
Kumassi Difficulty about the notes Conclusion of a treaty
Gradual growth of British jurisdiction The traffic in slaves.

BY the return of the Ashanti army to Kumassi the Fantis
were for a time relieved from actual warfare ; but as no treaty
of peace had been made, they still preserved a defensive
attitude and formed a camp at Arbrakampa. They even
pretended that they had driven the Ashantis from the
country, although it was well known that the departure of
the Ashanti army was solely due to sickness and the scarcity
of provisions. In the early part of the year 1809 the
Ashanti chief who had been left at Accra, instructed by the
King, communicated with Mr. White, who was now Governor,
with a view to concluding a peace with the Fantis; but the
latter, now that their foe was at a distance, rejected all
advances. The real object of their encampment at Arbra-
kampa was to concert measures to revenge themselves upon
those who had not assisted them to resist the invasion, and
they even threatened to attack Cape Coast, simply because
it had not suffered during the war. Their anger however
was chiefly directed against Elmina, whose inhabitants
had barbarously ill-treated and sold numbers of Fantis who


had sought refuge in the town ; and a Mr. Neizer, a coloured
gentleman of Elmina, was accused of having suggested the
invasion to the Ashanti King.

The Fantis and Wassaws now formed an alliance against
Elmina, which the people of Cape Coast soon joined, in spite
of the advice and remonstrances of Mr. White ; and towards
the close of 1809 tne confederated tribes formed a camp
behind Elmina and made several attacks upon the town, al
of which failed through the assistance lent to the inhabitant'
by the guns of Fort Conraadsburgh. Finding it impossible
to capture and plunder the town, the allies closely in
vested it, and the inhabitants were reduced to great straits
but, as there was a free communication on the sea-front
there was no absolute want of supplies. The Elmina
applied to Kumassi for assistance, and the King, anxious t<
relieve his friends, renewed his overtures of peace with th<
Fantis, through the Governor, in July, 1810, with the resul
that, after several communications, messengers arrived a
Accra from Kumassi, and were conveyed to Cape Coas
Castle by sea, it being unsafe for them to journey b
land. These messengers declared on the part of the Kin ;
that he wished to remain on friendly terms with the whit :
men, whom he considered his masters ; that his invasion c *
Fanti had been undertaken solely to punish the fugitiv :
Assins ; that he was about to send another army for th :-
same purpose; and that he would wage war with all, whit .-
or black, who gave them protection. The Governor cause I
this message to be conveyed to the camp of the allies behin i
Elmina ; but they treated it with contempt, and maintaine I
the blockade until 1811, when, weary of non-success, the r
broke up their camps.

In 1808, it should be observed, another body of Fant >
had attacked the Accras, in revenge for the assistance give \
by that people to the Ashantis ; but they were repulsed wit i
such loss that they did not venture to make a second attemp .
From the close of the Ashanti invasion till 1811, the who ^
country was in the most distracted state, and the authorr /
of the Dutch and English was entirely disregarded. Tl ^


Elminas murdered Hogenboom, the Dutch Governor, in 1808,
and the entreaties, remonstrances, and threats of Governor
De Veer and Governor White during the blockade of Elmina,
were alike treated with contempt. The greatest lawlessness
prevailed in every district, and murder, kidnapping, and
pillage were daily occurrences. No language can convey
an adequate idea of the misery and suffering endured in
these three years upon the Gold Coast.

On the return of the messengers to Kumassi with the
intelligence that the Fantis rejected all overtures of peace,
the King at once made preparations for a second invasion,
and, in i8n, Appia Dunkxva was sent with a force of four
thousand men to protect Elmina, while another general,
Apoko, was despatched with twenty-five thousand men to
destroy the Fantis of Winnebah and Barraku, as a punish-
ment for their attack on Accra. To swell the latter force
he sent to his tributary, Attah, King of Akim, a present of
gold and gunpowder, and directed him to join Apoko with
the Akim contingent. This chief had accompanied the King
in his former invasion, and had indeed done good service at
Anamabo, but he now proved refractory. He recapitulated
the wrongs Akim had suffered at the hands of Ashanti, de-
clared that he would not be always at the King's call when
he wanted to go to war, and informed the messenger who
had brought the gold and ammunition that he would employ
them against the King. The latter, upon this being reported
to him, sent another messenger to know if he had been
rightly informed, not wishing, perhaps, to proceed hastily
against a poweriul tributary ; but before there was time to
learn the result of this second embassy, Attah committed an
overt act of hostility which precluded all possibility of ;i
peaceful arrangement. Learning that one of the King's
captains, who had been collecting tribute at Christiansborg,
was on his way to Kumassi with a large amount of gold, he
intercepted him and killed the whole party except one man,
whom he spared to convey his defiance to the King and
inform him of what had been done.

The army under Apoko had not yet crossed the Prah


when the news of this outrage reached Kumassi, and the
general received immediate orders to march into Akim and
subdue the rebellion there. Attah had induced Kwow Saf-
fatchi, King of Akwapim, to throw off the Ashanti yoke and
join him, and the combined forces attacked Apoko as soon
as he entered Akim. The battle was long and obstinate, and
was only put a stop to by nightfall. Neither party could
claim the victory, but the Ashantis had suffered so severely
that Apoko could not venture to renew the contest without
additional aid ; and he therefore sent an order to the Accras
to join him, which they did in such force as to make resis-
tance vain, and the Akims and Akvvapims retreated, the
former to the west towards Fanti, and the latter to the east
towards Addah, on the Volta. Apoko went in pursuit of the
Akwapims, but being unable to bring them to an action or
capture Kwow Saffatchi, he made a prisoner of Mr. Lindt,
the Danish Commandant of Addah Fort, whom he charged
with conniving at Kwow Saffatchi's escape. Mr. Lindt was
detained five months in the Ashanti camp, but was not ill-
treated, and was finally ransomed by his government for one
hundred ounces of gold. Towards the close of 1811 Apoko
was recalled to Kumassi without having effected the capture
of Kwow Saffatchi, who, as soon as the Ashantis quitted
Akwapim, returned to it and resumed his independent

In the meantime the force under Appia Dunkwa entered
Fanti early in 1811, fought several small skirmishes with the
Fantis, in which the Ashantis were always victorious, and
marched through Insabang and Aguna to the coast, which
they reached near Winnebah. The Fantis of Anamabo,
Adjumako,* Appam, f Mumford, J Winnebah, and Gomoa
had formed a camp near Mumford, and the opposing forces
met near Appam, where a severely contested engagement
took place, resulting in a victory for the Ashantis. Mr
Smith, the Commandant of Tantamkwerri Fort, opened

* Adjuma, or Adyuma work, labour.

t Appam alliance.

Mumford is a corruption of the native Man-fo, "Town's people."


communications with the Ashanti general, but could learn
nothing of his intentions, beyond that he intended to proceed
to Elmina to protect it from the Fantis, a design, however,
which Attah, King of Akim, frustrated. Attah, after parting
company with the Akwapims, had, as already stated,
retreated towards Fanti ; and now, with a force of some
three thousand men, he advanced with the greatest rapidity
to attack the Ashantis, who, since their victory over the
Fantis, had been encamped near Tantamkwerri Fort. The
original force of four thousand men with which Appia
Dunkwa had entered the country was now much reduced,
heavy losses having been sustained in the last battle; and
fully appreciating the difference between the warlike Akims
and the Fantis, the Ashanti general thought it prudent to
retreat ; but Attah followed him up, engaged and routed
him, and finally drove the Ashantis from Fanti. Attah then
formed an alliance with the Fantis, and was projecting a
combined attack upon Apoko, in Akwapim, by which he
might have cut off his retreat from Kumassi, when he died,
in October, 1811, of small-pox.

Some of Attah's proceedings had caused considerable
alarm both to the Dutch and the English. Before his attack
upon the Ashantis at Tantamkwerri he entered the Dutch
Fort at Appam, threw all the guns over the walls, and
released a number of Cape Coast prisoners whom he found
there, and who had been panyarred, or forcibly seized, by the
Dutch, to be sold as slaves. He likewise visited the English
fort at Tantamkwerri, where, though he showed less violence,
he helped himself to everything that took his fancy, and
treated the Commandant roughly.

Attah was succeeded by his brother, but as the new
King seemed inclined to submit to Ashanti, the Akim chiefs
in secret council decided to depose him and put him to
death. Not being willing, however, to have his blood upon
their hands, they communicated their decision to him, and
commanded him to commit suicide, which, after a week
passed in performing his own funeral obsequies, he did.
Kwadjo Kuma, who was next placed on the stool of Akim,


seems to have inherited some of Attah's spirit, for he kept
the Ashantis shut up in their own country during 1 the whole
of the years 1812 and 1813. It should be observed, however,
that the Ashantis did not make any very serious attempt to
break out. During these two years of freedom from invasion
the eastern Fantis again attempted to revenge themselves
upon the Accras, and, in 1812, in conjunction with Kwow
Safifatchi, of Akwapim, they attacked Accra, but after a
severe contest were signally repulsed.

In the month of February, 1812, Mr. Meredith, the gallant
defender of Anamabo Fort, now Commandant of Winnebah.
was done to death by the natives of that place, who had foi
some time enjoyed an unenviable notoriety for violence anc
rapacity. One day, while walking in the garden of the fort, h(
was suddenly seized by a number of natives, who dragged hirr
away into the bush, and there charged him with detaining ;
quantity of gold, the property of a native. This gold, the\
asserted, a sergeant of the Company's soldiers had deliverec
to him for safe keeping at the time when the Ashantis wen
in the neighbourhood, and they declared they would not se
him at liberty until he gave it up. It appeared that the ser
geant, to whom the gold really had been committed, upon bein<
asked for it by the owner, had evaded payment by declaring
that he had forgotten to whose care he had entrusted i
The owner then consulted the great god of the Fanti countr
at Mankassim, and was told by the oracle that Mr. Meredit]
had it, hence his seizure. It was in vain that the unfortunat
Commandant declared that he knew nothing of the gold, fc
the dictum of the oracle was conclusive and final to the mind ;
of the natives, it being impossible that the god could be mi. 1 -
taken. They treated their captive with the greatest barbarih .
Not satisfied with making him walk several miles bareheade I
in the heat of the sun, they set fire to the dry grass, an I
taking off his boots, forced him to walk over it barefoote< .
He was frequently beaten, and his arms were stretched 01 t
horizontally at full length, and fastened to a long pole whic i
pressed upon his throat, and caused him much pain.

The news of this outrage soon reached Mr. Smith ; t


Tantamkvverri Fort, and he at once proceeded to Winnebah,
where he had no sooner landed than he also was seized by a
number of natives and hurried into the bush. Being brought
before a meeting of chiefs and headmen, he remonstrated with
them upon their conduct, and urged them to produce Mr.
Meredith, which after some discussion they did ; but refused
to give him up, and Mr. Smith was obliged to leave him in
their hands, where he died from exhaustion and exposure
before any effectual means could be taken for his release.
It may here be added that Mr. James, his successor at
Winnebah, was blockaded in the fort for three months by the
natives, in consequence of which H.M.S. Amelia, Captain
Irby, brought him away after blowing up the fort, and the
place was abandoned by the Company. For many years
afterwards English vessels passing Winnebah were in the
habit of pouring a broadside into the town, to give the natives
some idea of the severe vengeance that would always be
exacted for the murder of a European.

In 1814 the King of Ashanti determined to make a
supreme effort for the subjection of Akim and Akwapim,
which had now been in rebellion for three years. With this
object he despatched an army of twenty thousand men, under
a new general, Amankwa, to attack Akim in front ; while in
order to prevent Kwadjo Kuma from escaping to the west into
Fanti, as his predecessor had done, he sent Appia Dunkwa with
a smaller force in the direction of Winnebah. The Akims
retired before the advancing Ashantis, and Amankwa was
within a day's march of Akwapim before any engagement
took place. Then one of his foraging parties was cut off by
Kwadjo Kuma, and the next day the Akims and Akwapims
gave battle to the Ashanti army at Egwah-arru. The struggle
lasted for six hours, and ended in the total defeat of the allies.
Amankwa announced his victory by sending a jawbone and a
slave to each of the Accra towns, and then proceeded with
his army to Accra. He remained in that neighbourhood
for nearly a year, levying contributions throughout the
country, to the great discontent of the Accras, who had
hitherto been staunch allies of Ashanti, but who now found


that even the most valuable services rendered did not pro-
tect them from extortion and tyranny. He afterwards re-
turned to Akwapim, where he received a message from the
King, forbidding his return to Kumassi without the heads o^
Kwadjo Kuma and Kwow Safifatchi.

In the meantime the force under Appia Dunkwa hac
encountered the eastern Fantis on several occasions. The
Adjumakos and Agunas were defeated with great loss, the
towns of Winnebah and Barraku plundered and burnt, anc
the natives generally subjected to the most cruel impositions
Appia Dunkwa then retired to New Assin, south of the Prah
where he died, and was succeeded in the command by Appk
Nanu. This general incurred the King's displeasure by
remaining inactive, and Amankwa was ordered to move fron
Akwapim and unite the two forces. They met at Essikuma
and advanced through Adjumako, the Fantis flying befor*
them without daring to offer any resistance. They thei
moved into Arbra, where a large body of Fantis, who ha<
tJeen assembled to give them battle, fled at the first onsei
and the Ashantis encamped on the ground.

Crowds of fugitives now flocked to the forts for protectior
and four thousand men, women, and children are said to hav
sought refuge in the Castle of Cape Coast alone. Th
Governor, Mr. J. Hope Smith, who had been appointed i
1814, sent a flag of truce to the Ashanti general, to learn hi
intentions ; but in the meanwhile the Ashantis approache
nearer and nearer. On March 1 3th, 1816, a large body c f
them appeared near Mori, while another party, principall r
Assins, under the command of Kwasi Amankwa, showe t
themselves at the salt pond, quite close to Cape Coast towi ,
and had a slight skirmish with the inhabitants.

On March i6th messengers arrived from the Ashan i
camp at Arbrakampa to bring a reply to the flag of true .
They stated that the army had come to Fanti in pursuit < f
Kwadjo Kuma and Kwow Saffatchi, and to punish all wh >
harboured them. Three Fanti chiefs, Kwow Aggri, Paint] ,
and Amissa, who had, they said, stood in arms against tr i
Ashantis for the defence of these men, were now require' ,


and it was thought they might be in Cape Coast. The
Governor offered his mediation to settle the palaver,
and Director-General Daendels, the Governor of Elmina,
offered to co-operate. A meeting was therefore held in the
palaver hall of the Castle on the 2 1st, a deputation of Dutch
officers from Elmina being present. Upon the headmen of
Cape Coast taking a sacred oath that Kvvadjo Kuma and
Kwow Saffatchi were not in the town, the Ashanti messengers
declared that they were satisfied upon that point; but they
demanded that the three Fanti chiefs should be delivered to
them, to go to the camp, as they had been in arms against the
King. The chiefs consented to go, provided that the messen-
gers guaranteed their safety; but it was finally agreed that
the demand for their surrender should be waived upon pay-
ment of one hundred ounces of gold by the people of Cape
Coast and the Fantis, to purchase peace. The money was
advanced by Governor Hope Smith, and the messengers and
Fanti chiefs then took a sacred oath to abstain from all
further hostilities.

Shortly after this the Ashantis broke up their camp at
Arbrakampa and moved to the east in search of the two
proscribed Kings. The Fantis offered no resistance to their
march, and the Ashantis, considering the country conquered,
exacted heavy contributions. Their men were spread over
the whole country in small detachments, making active search
for the two rebels, and inflicting incalculable misery on the
inhabitants, whom they deprived of everything. Kwadjo
Kuma was at last surrounded by a party of Appia Nanu's
force at Inkum, and, being unable to escape, committed
suicide. Soon afterwards Kwow Saffatchi was betrayed by
his brother, Adu Dunkwa, on condition that he should be
raised to the stool of Akwapim in his stead; and a party
of Ashantis was conducted to his hiding-place, where he
was killed. The object of the Ashanti invasion was now
accomplished. The heads of the two rebel Kings had been
taken, Akim and Akwapim had again been reduced to the
position of tributary states, and the King's authority had,
moreover, been established throughout Fanti; Amankwa



therefore returned to Kumassi with the bulk of the army,
leaving Ashanti Residents in charge of the principal districts
of Fanti to keep the Fantis in subjection and collect the
King's tribute.

The repeated invasions of Fanti had produced such a
feeling of alarm and insecurity that Mr. Hope Smith re-
quested the committee of the Company in London to
authorise and equip an embassy to Kumassi, with a view
to the conciliation of the Ashanti King and the negotiation
of a treaty of commerce. An additional reason given was
that there were good grounds for believing that the Dutch
Governor, Daendels, was intriguing with the King, and doing
his utmost to bring the English into disrepute and involve
them in difficulties. The committee regarded Mr. Hope
Smith's proposal with favour; presents for the King were
sent out from England, and on April 22nd, 1817, Mr. James,
Commandant of Accra Fort, Mr. T. E. Bowdich, writer
in the Company's service and nephew of the Governor, Mr.
Hutchinson, and Surgeon Beresford Tedlie set out from
Cape Coast Castle on a mission to Kumassi. Part of its
object was to establish a British residency or consulate at
Kumassi, and it was intended, if all went well, to leave
Mr. Hutchinson as Resident at the King's court. In passing
through Fanti and Assin the members of the embassy were
much struck with the desolation the Ashantis had every-
where left behind them. Scarcely a vestige of cultivation
was to be seen, ruined and deserted villages met the eye
on every side, and long tracts of country were traversec
without a single human being being met with. Of th(
populous slave mart of Mansu only a few sheds remained
and the few natives seen were gaunt with famine.

On the 1 5th of May the embassy entered Kumassi
This was the first time that Europeans had visited th<
capital, and they were honoured with a public receptior
attended by a display of barbaric pomp and wealth t
impress them with the greatness of the King. They wer
met at the entrance of the town by upwards of five thousan-
warriors, who, keeping up an incessant discharge of musketr)


led them slowly through the crowded streets to the market-
place, where the King was waiting in state, surrounded by
his chiefs and the officers of his court. The ambassadors,

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Burdon) EllisA history of the Gold Coast of West Africa → online text (page 11 of 34)