A. B. (Alfred Burdon) Ellis.

A history of the Gold Coast of West Africa online

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tender mercies of the King. In this he was supported by
the Home Government, and Mr. Dupuis, after a succession
of altercations, finally embarked for England on April I5th,
having considerably aggravated matters by his visit.

The Ashanti King received the news of the repudiation
of Mr. Dupuis's treaty with an outburst of passion, and one
can imagine that he was annoyed to find that an engagement
which granted everything he asked was to be abandoned.
The Ashanti envoy, however, still remained at Cape Coast,
and the Governor endeavoured to bring matters to a settle-
ment. His position was, that Mr. Dupuis's treaty not having
been ratified, the treaty of 1817 was still valid. The position
of the Ashanti King appeared to be that he had made a
treaty with Mr. Dupuis, and that the Government had broken
it. In order to remove all grounds of complaint, Mr. Hope
Smith used his best endeavours to induce the inhabitants of
Cape Coast to pay the sixteen hundred ounces demanded.
The demand was unwarrantable and unjust, but a refusal, to
comply might only bring greater ills in its train. These
endeavours were successful, and by June, 1820, the people of
Cape Coast, assisted by a considerable contribution from the
Castle, paid to the Ashanti envoy the sum demanded.

It was now expected that the envoy would leave Cape


Coast and return to Kumassi, he having no further business
to transact ; but he did not do so. The insidious policy of
the Ashanti King was to keep in existence small matters
of -dispute with the people of Cape Coast, and by keeping
up a continual friction goad them into committing actions
which would serve as pretexts for further extortion. Such a
pretext was already made to hand. A Fanti chief named
Paintri, who had been placed by the Ashantis upon the stool
of Arbra, had, some twelve months before this date, sent an
armed party against an outlying village of Cape Coast
which had been destroyed, and the inhabitants carried off anc
^old. * Nine months after this outrage the sub-chief, who hac
headed the attack against the village, came to Cape Coast
where he and several of his followers were seized by th
owner of the village, conveyed to a house in the town, an<
blown up with gunpowder. This matter had been almos :
forgotten under the pressure of weightier affairs ; but now th :
Ashanti envoy declared that he had the King's order to inquir :
into it. He summoned Paintri to appear at Cape Coas :
during the investigation, and announced that he woul I
require one hundred peredwins of gold (;i,ooo) from th j
person who was adjudged to be in the wrong. Paintr ,
asserting that his life would be in danger if he came to Cap 5
Coast, declined to comply with the summons, but in order 1 )
show that he submitted to the authority of the envoy, wei t
to the village of Mori. This was early in April, 1821.

On the Qth of the same month intelligence was receive d
at Cape Coast that a native of that place had been ba -
barously murdered at Mori. The greatest excitement pr ;-
vailed, the town companies turned out, and accompanied 1 y
eighty-five men of the garrison of the Castle, under IV r.
Colliver, marched to the scene of the crime. On arrivi: g
there, some two thousand men, consisting of the inhabitar ts
of Mori, Paintri's followers, and a party of Ashantis, w( -e
found assembled in arms, and the headless body of t le
murdered man was discovered outside the village. As so >n
as the Company's soldiers entered the place fire was open :d
on them from the houses, but as they advanced the natn *s


retired. In the meantime, another body of Ashantis, who
had been encamped in the neighbourhood of Cape Coast, took
up a position to cut off the retreat of the party, but being
threatened by another force from Cape Coast, retired. In this
affair the Ashantis and Fantis lost some fifty men killed, and
amongst them Paintri himself. The loss on the part of the
Cape Coast force was two killed and a few slightly wounded.

Trade with Ashanti, and with the rest of Fanti, which
had now thrown in its lot with the former, at once altogether
ceased. Cape Coast was completely isolated, and it was not
safe to venture beyond the outskirts of the town, except in
large parties. To ensure the place against a sudden attack,
the people built a loop-holed wall of mud from the sea-beach
on the east of the town, across the hills in a semicircle to the
sea-beach on the west, and the Government hastily erected a
tower* on a hill to the west of Phipps's Tower, which was
armed with guns landed from H.M.S. Tartar. Several
messages were exchanged between the King of Ashanti and "
the Governor, and in August a final message was received
from Kumassi, to the effect that the King acknowledged that
the affair at Mori had been misrepresented to him, and had
given orders for the roads to Cape Coast to be opened.
Trade, however, was not renewed, and matters were in this
state, when the Home Government decided to assume the
control of the settlements on the Gold Coast.

The reason assigned for this step was that the local
authorities connived at the maintenance of the slave trade,
and that the annual grant which they had received from
Parliament had always been expended with the intention of
keeping others from participating in legitimate trade, which
was, in fact, monopolised by the local agents. A Bill was ac-
cordingly passed in the Parliament of 1821 for abolishing
the African Company of Merchants, and for transferring.. to
the Crown all the Company's forts and possessions orj the
Gold Coast, which were to be placed under the government
of Sierra Leone. The forts were eight in number, namely,
those of Cape Coast, Anamabo, Accra, Kommenda, Dixcove,
* Afterwards called Fort Victoria.



Sekondi, Prampram, and Tantamkwerri. At the time of
the transfer the white establishment consisted of forty-five
persons, and the number of black and coloured people in the
Company's pay was four hundred and fifty.

On March 28th, 1822, Sir Charles Macarthy, Governor
of Sierra Leone, arrived at Cape Coast Castle in H.M.S.
Iphigenia, and assumed the government of the Gold Coast.
The new Governor, a stranger to the Gold Coast and its
politics, had no ordinary difficulties to contend with, for the
servants of the late Company, almost to a man, refused to
take office under him. They also withdrew themselves from
all participation in native affairs, and Sir Charles Macarthy
was left to grope in the dark, without a single responsible or
reliable adviser. In order to reopen friendly relations with
Kumassi, he despatched messengers to the King, announcing
his assumption of office, and bearing the customary presents :
while to provide for the defence of the forts he formed the
native troops in the service of the late Company into a.
colonial corps, composed of three companies, and entitled
the Royal African Colonial Corps of Light Infantry.
Having thus set matters in train, he departed for Sierra
Leone early in May, leaving Captain Chisholm and Lieutenant
Laing, of the 2nd West India Regiment the latter destined
to afterwards become celebrated as an African traveller to
organise the new force. Sir Charles Macarthy seems tc
have had no idea of the critical condition of afifairs, and
apparently thought that everything would go on smoothly.

Affairs continued quiet until the month of November
when a mulatto sergeant of the new corps was kidnappec
by Ashantis at Anamabo, where he was stationed on duty
and taken as a prisoner to Dunkwa, where he was put " ii
log," i.e., secured to a heavy log of wood by an iron staple
which is the native mode of securing prisoners. This outrag<
was attributed to a quarrel that had taken place between
the sergeant and an Ashanti trader at Anamabo in th
preceding May, but which had been investigated an
definitely settled at the time by the commandant of th
fort. Demands for the restoration of the sergeant and th :


punishment of those concerned in his seizure met with no
reply; and early in January, 1823, a nephew of the Ashanti
King was sent to Dunkwa with one of the state executioners,
to put the sergeant to death, and to convey the skull, jaw-
bone, and one of the arms of the victim to Kumassi. This
murder was committed on February 1st, 1823.

In the early part of December, 1822, Sir C. Macarthy had
returned to Cape Coast from Sierra Leone, bringing with
him a company of the 2nd West India Regiment, and he
now determined to punish the perpetrators of this crime.
He proceeded to Anamabo to inquire personally into the
circumstances under which the sergeant had been carried off,
and on his return to Cape Coast was received with a perfect
ovation. The streets and hills were crowded with spectators,
volleys of musketry were discharged, and the natives exhibited
the greatest enthusiasm at the return of him who, they were
now informed, was prepared to deliver them from Ashanti
oppression. The reputation which Sir Charles Macarthy had
gained, both at the Gambia and at Sierra Leone, for extreme
benevolence and justice tempered with mercy, had doubtless
preceded him ; but it was as the person who was to protect
them from the exactions and tyranny of Ashanti, that the
people of Cape Coast and Anamabo looked up to him.
Their enthusiasm was, no doubt, increased by the knowledge
that they were now cut adrift from the rest of the Fantis,
who seemed to have thoroughly accepted the position of
subjects of Ashanti ; and that, unless their cause was
strenuously adopted by the Government, they could look
for nothing but destruction.

In the middle of February it was ascertained that Aduku,
King of Mankassim, had, with the principal Fanti chiefs,
left Dunkwa and returned to their homes, leaving at that
place the Ashanti prince and a few of his followers who
had been present at the murder of the sergeant. These
did not amount to more than three hundred men, and an
expedition against them was at once formed with the
greatest secrecy. At six p.m. on the 2ist, the Cape Coast
volunteers, a new corps formed by the Governor, and a body

L 2


of natives, were called into the Castle, ammunition was served
out to them and to the garrison, and before seven o'clock
the force marched. Through the treachery or imbecility of
the guides, the expedition, which ought to have reached
Dunkwa before daybreak next morning, took the wrong
road, and long after sunrise was suddenly fired upon by a
numerous force of Ashantis and Fantis, who were ambushed
in dense bush on both sides of a narrow and rugged path.
The advanced guard, consisting of a company of the 2nd
West India Regiment, drove the enemy from their position,
but the object of the expedition, the surprise of the Ashantis
at Dunkwa, having failed, it was deemed advisable to fall
back upon Anamabo. In this affair six men were killed,
and Lieutenant Swanzy, of the Royal African Colonial
Corps, and thirty-eight men wounded. This expedition to
the bush, though it proved unsuccessful, created the greatest
sensation. It was an entirely new departure, for never
before had a British force quitted the forts to engage in any
operations ; and the natives began to see that the Govern-
ment was in earnest.

In April Sir C. Macarthy proceeded to Accra to endeavour
if possible to detach the Accras from the Ashanti alliance
That people had suffered so much injustice at the hands o
Amankwa when the Ashanti army was quartered at Accn
in 1814, that the Governor found no difficulty in entering
into an agreement with them, made with the concurrence o
Mr. Richter, the Commandant of Christiansborg, to stoj
supplying the Ashantis with munitions of war. Havim
effected this, and formed the nucleus of a volunteer militia o '
the most intelligent natives, as he had already done at Cap
Coast and Anamabo, he returned to the former place.

He had scarcely left Accra when the good faith of th :
Accras was put to the test. A party of Ashantis arrived :
Christiansborg to purchase gunpowder, and were at one :
attacked and dispersed by the garrison of James Fort an I
the newly-formed militia. A day or two later a second bod '
of Ashantis arrived for the same purpose, arid being refuse 1
gunpowder by the inhabitants of Christiansborg, deliberate' r


murdered a mulatto and four other natives. The whole town
rose in arms to revenge this outrage ; fourteen Ashantis were
killed and the remainder driven into the bush, where a few
days later they were again attacked and forty killed.
Henceforward the whole of that part of the sea-coast was
closed to the Ashantis, who lost in the Accras one of tiie
most active and serviceable of their allies.

While these occurrences had been taking place a message
had arrived from Kumassi to the Dutch Governor of Elmina,
in which the King thanked him for his past friendship,
informed him that Sir Charles Macarthy was " wrong in his
palaver/' and advised that Cape Coast Castle should be
enlarged, as he intended to .drive the English into the sea.
He also recommended that the latter should arm all the fish
in the sea, for all would be of no avail against the army he
intended sending against them. Nothing, however, im-
mediately took place, and in the middle of May Sir Charles
Macarthy sailed for the Gambia, where 'he had, six years
before, founded the colony of Bathurst on the Island of St.

When the Government assumed the control of the forts
on the Gold Coast, the only regular troops in West Africa
were five companies of the 2nd West India Regiment,
which were divided between Sierra Leone, the Isles de Los,
and the Gambia. There had formerly been serving in West
Africa a regiment denominated the Royal African Corps,
consisting of six companies of white troops and three of
black, and which was a disciplinary corps as far as the
whites were concerned ; that is to say, the men were all of
bad character, and had been sent to serve in its ranks as a
punishment. The habits of these men were not such as to
enable them to resist the attacks of the climate ; in one year
half the European troops in Sierra Leone died, and this
dreadful mortality induced the Government in 1819, when
Goree and Senegal were restored to France, and a reduction
of the West African garrison could be effected, to withdraw
all the European soldiers from the coast. The white com-
panies of the Royal African Corps were sent to the Cape


of Good Hope, the black companies were disbanded, and the
left wing of the 2nd West India Regiment was brought
from Jamaica to garrison the West Coast settlements. So
long as these consisted only of Sierra Leone and the Gambia
this force was sufficient; but when the control of the Gold
Coast was assumed, a larger force became necessary. Sir C.
Macarthy had, as we have seen, formed the soldiers of the
late African Company of Merchants into a black corps of
three companies, but these men were chiefly natives of the
Gold Coast, and in view of the threatened hostilities with
Ashanti, he asked that the Europeans of the late Royal
African Corps might be sent back from the Cape of Good
Hope to join the Royal African Colonial Corps of Light
Infantry, and that recruiting might be carried on in England
to raise that corps to a strength of one thousand men. The
Government seem to have acquiesced in this complete
reversal of their declared intention not to employ white
troops in the pestilential West African climate, without
hesitation ; and, in April, 1823, two companies of white
soldiers arrived from South Africa. Thus on the eve of the
outbreak of hostilities, the force on the Gold Coast consisted
of one company of the 2nd West India Regiment, which
Sir C. Macarthy had brought down with him from Sierra
Leone, and five companies (two white and three black) of
the Royal African Colonial Corps, the whole amounting,
to not more than five hundred men.


1823 1824.

The Ashanti invasion Expedition to Essikuma The Ashantis enter
Wassaw Sir C. Macarthy advances to meet them Defeat and
death of Sir Charles Macarthy at Assamako Escape of Captain
Ricketts Movements of Major Chisholm's force Sekondi burned
A camp formed on the Prah Palaver with the Ashantis at Elmina
Release of Mr. Williams His narrative.

IN June, 1823, the long- threatened invasion took place, a
force of three thousand Ashantis crossing the Prah at Prahsu*
on the 4th of that month. Major Chisholm, who was
administering the Government, at once sent Captain Laing
with the whole of the troops, and a large native contingent
from Cape Coast and Anamabo, to meet them, and at the
approach of this force the Ashantis retired. The movement
of this large body of men seems to have convinced the chiefs
of Fanti that the Government seriously intended to resist the
Ashanti advance ; and Appia, chief of Adjumako, first, and
subsequently most of the other Fanti chiefs, renounced their
allegiance to Ashanti, and sent offers of assistance to Major
Chisholm. Kwasi Amankwa, chief of Essikuma, refused,
however, to join the English, and Captain Laing destroyed
his town, after which he returned to Cape Coast.

On July 28th a second Ashanti force crossed the Prah,
and it being reported that it had orders to make its way to
Elmina, Captain Laing marched to Yankumassi Fanti,t

* Prahsu Prah water.

f Yankumassi "Joined to Kumassi."


twenty- four miles from Cape Coast, to dispute its progress.
Here he remained encamped for some time, and, no enemy
appearing, then withdrew to Dunkwa.

In the middle of August, Kwasi Amankwa, who, with the
assistance of the Ashantis, had reoccupied Essikuma, was
attacked by the Fanti allies, and again driven away. A few
days later, however, he again advanced, strongly reinforced
by a body of Ashantis, and attacked the allies. As soon as
the news of this reached him, Captain Laing marched from
Dunkwa to the assistance of the Fantis, and, after a long and
fatiguing march, reached Adjumako on the 2Oth. Next
morning he marched to Essikuma and arrived there just as
the Ashantis had succeeded in taking it after a sharp
engagement. The appearance of the troops on the scene
caused the Ashantis to abandon the place in great disorder
and without any resistance, but not without massacring all
the prisoners who had fallen into their hands, whose bodies
were found still warm. The approach of evening prevented
the troops from following in pursuit, but early next morning
they moved against the Ashanti camp, which was taken by
surprise, and abandoned by the enemy in such haste, that
they left their dinners cooking on their fires, and the ground
covered with arms and baggage. Instead of following up
the retreating enemy, as they were directed to do, the Fantis
stayed to plunder the camp, so that the Ashantis retired
unmolested. Touch of them was completely lost, and after a
few days, during which several unsuccessful efforts to discover
their whereabouts had been made, Captain Laing returned
to Cape Coast with the regular troops, leaving a force of
Anamabo volunteer militia and Fanti levies at Mansu, and
another, composed of Cape Coast volunteer militia and
levies, at Jukwa. This latter post, situated about eighteen
miles to the north-west of Cape Coast, was designed tc
prevent the Ashantis from obtaining arms and ammunition
from Elmina.

On November 28th, 1823, Sir Charles Macarthy returnee
to the Gold Coast, bringing with him a third white company
of the Royal African Colonial Corps, that had been raisec


an England. A few days after his arrival he inspected the
-camp at Jukwa, and in the following month visited Anamabo,
where Appia, chief of Adjumako, and other chiefs came
down to meet him. From Anamabo he proceeded to the
'Camp at Mansu, where he entered into an offensive and
defensive alliance with the King of Mankassim, and engaged
that no peace should be made with Ashanti without the
concurrence of the Fanti chiefs ; a stipulation which the
latter, having in mind Colonel Torrane's cowardly surrender
of Tchibbu in order to obtain favourable terms for the
Company, now exacted for self-protection.

Towards the end of December, it having been ascertained
that a third, and much larger, Ashanti army had crossed the
Prah, and was rapidly advancing to the coast in twelve
divisions, Captain Laing was ordered to march to Assin
with the Fanti levies, and the Governor with the regular
troops proceeded to Jukwa, where a body of some two
-thousand men was concentrated by January 4th, 1824. On
the 6th, Sir Charles Macarthy sent Major Chisholm with
the regulars, and a proportion of the native levies, to form
a camp at Ampensasu, a village on the Prah some eighteen
miles north of Jukwa; and when, on the 8th, news was
received at Jukwa that the Ashantis had entered western
Wassaw, Sir C. Macarthy decided to go to Wassaw with
the force that still remained with him, and to leave Major
Chisholm at Ampensasu to await further orders. This
decision was strongly but vainly combated by the King of
Jukwa and the Cape Coast chiefs, and on the morning of
the Qth, the Governor, with less than half his available force,
made a first march to Bansu,* a village seventeen miles from
Jukwa, where, owing to the difficulty experienced in
obtaining carriers for the supplies, they did not arrive
till evening. Sir Charles Macarthy committed the too
common mistake of underrating his enemy. He had with
him a Fanti company of the Royal African Colonial Corps,
vOnly eighty strong, under Ensign Erskine ; one hundred and

* Ban fence, or boundary ; Su water.


seventy Cape Coast Volunteer Militia, a corps but recently
embodied, and officered by merchants of Cape Coast; and
two hundred and forty undisciplined natives under their own
chiefs ; yet with this force of less than five hundred men
he intended to oppose the advance of an unknown number
of Ashantis, inured to fighting and flushed with victory.
He was accompanied by Captain Ricketts, 2nd West India
Regiment, who acted as his brigade major; Ensign Wetherell
of the same corps, who was his private secretary ; Mr.
Williams, Colonial Secretary ; Surgeon Beresford Tedlie, and
two West India soldiers, his orderlies.

The force remained halted at Bansu during January loth,
and on the nth marched to Himan,* a village on the Prah.
The carriers who had been brought from Jukwa having
deserted, the greatest difficulty was found in transporting
the munitions and supplies. The women of the villages
passed through on the march were impressed for this service
but numbers of them, when they had the opportunity, thre\\
down their loads in the bush and ran off. On the morning
of the 1 2th the troops started for Deraboassi, a village
seventeen miles lower down the Prah. The road wa:
extremely bad, being in some places rendered almos
impassable by swamps three or four feet deep, while ii
others there were steep ascents to be climbed. Deraboassi wa:
reached late in the day, and early next morning the foro
commenced crossing the Prah in eight small canoes, onb
sufficiently large to contain two persons beside the canoe
man. The Fanti company of the Royal African Colonia
Corps having first crossed, the Governor advanced with 11
over an exceedingly bad road, to the village of Guah, leavin;
the remainder of his men to follow; and next day th
advance was continued to Assamako, where by three in th
afternoon the whole body was assembled. It remaine .
halted here to enable the natives of the neighbourhood t >
come in, and on the i/th an order was sent to Majc *
Chisholm to join with the force from Ampensasu. Th ;

* Himan Chiefs Town.


letter conveying this order was unfortunately entrusted to-
a native who was unacquainted with the country, and it was
so delayed as not to arrive at its destination till the 22nd.

The Denkeras, who, after having remained quiet since
1752, had now joined the allies, were, with the Wassaws, in
full retreat before the advancing Ashantis, and Mr. Williams
was sent to rally them, and announce that the Governor was
at hand with reinforcements. They were found completely
disorganised, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that
they could be persuaded to halt and form a camp on the
banks of the Adamansu, a small stream some twenty miles
from Assamako. Captain Ricketts reached this spot on the

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Burdon) EllisA history of the Gold Coast of West Africa → online text (page 13 of 34)