A. B. (Alfred Burdon) Ellis.

A history of the Gold Coast of West Africa online

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the extreme right, Captain Glover's force was to mo-
from the Volta upon Djuabin. Between these two,
column composed of Western Akims, under Captain Butl<
69th Regiment, was to enter Ashanti-Akim ; and on the e
treme left, a diversion was to be created by a column of We
saws, Denkeras, and Kommendas under Captain Dalrymp
88th Regiment. During the advance of the main body, t
ist and 2nd West India Regiments, the former of which h
arrived from the West Indies on December 2/th, were
guard the line of communication.

In the meantime various occurrences had taken place


the eastern districts in connection with the force that
Captain Glover had to raise. In September he inter-
viewed the principal chiefs, and successfully defeated an
attempt made by chiefs Tacki and Solomon of Accra to
act as middlemen, through whose hands all presents
and communications should pass, by giving an assur-
ance that he would deal directly with each chief. The
chief of Addah, however, was unable to attend the meeting,
as the Awunas were again up in arms and had seized some
of his people; and the King of Eastern Krobo not only
refused to take the oath of allegiance,but used rebellious and in-
sulting language, for which he was lodged in Accra gaol. A
difficulty then arose in connection with the raising of the
Houssa force similar to that which had occurred when
the Gold Coast Corps was formed, in 1852. The nucleus of
the Houssa force consisted of men brought from Lagos, who
really belonged to the Houssa tribes, and it was intended to
complete the force with Odonkos, who were erroneously
supposed to be something akin to Houssas, and of whom
there were many thousands in the Protectorate. All these
Odonkos were slaves, and such as presented themselves for
enlistment were enrolled without any reference being made
to their owners. Indeed, the officers of Captain Glover's
force, knowing nothing of the peculiar relations that were
supposed to exist between the Colonial Government
and the natives, used to reply, when persons came to
them to claim their slaves, that slavery could not
exist under the British Government. On this account a
serious disturbance took place in Accra on October
ist, in which two men of Ussher Town were wounded;
and a large number of armed men who assembled under
their chiefs were only persuaded to disperse upon a
promise being given that no more Odonkos should be enlisted
without the consent of their owners, who would in that case
receive five pounds for each slave.

Early in October the Awunas, who were well informed of
the preparations that were being made, plundered and burned


some stores at Kittah, and the Accras, Addahs, and Krep
stipulated that that tribe should be dealt with first before an
advance was made on Kumassi. Captain Glover readi
agreed to this, for he was himself disinclined to leave an un
touched enemy in his rear, even at a distance; and or
November /th he went to Addah with a semi-disciplined bod}
of about 900 Houssas and Odonkos, hoping that the native
levies would follow ; but these came in so slowly that even b}
December I4th there was not a sufficient force to undertake
the punishment of the Awunas. He now found himsel
unable to fulfil an engagement he had made with Sir Game
Wolseley to be on the Prah with 15,000 men on January I5th
to join in the combined advance on Kumassi, and 01
December 22nd he wrote to ask for a delay of forty days
To have permitted this would have been to abandon the ide;
of all assistance from Captain Glover, who would have beei
conducting his operations against the Awunas while the othe
columns were marching on Kumassi. Sir Garnet Wolseley
therefore ordered him to move all his disciplined force, am
such natives as he could persuade to follow him, to the Pral
at once, and to abandon all projected operations on the eas
bank of the Volta. It was essential, ran the despatch, tha
his force should co-operate with the main column, and cros
the Prah on January i5th.

After writing to say that he could not be on the Pra]
for forty days, Captain Glover commenced his trans-Volt,
campaign on December 24th. The native levies crosse<
the river near Sofi, a skirmish ensued and an Awun
village was burned ; on the 25th some more skirmishing too'
place and some more villages were burned ; but on the 2/tr
while preparations were being made for another advance
Sir G. Wolseley's letter arrived, ordering Captain Glover t
march at once for the Prah. He summoned the Kings an<
chiefs, read them the despatch, said that the General's order
must be obeyed, and called upon them to follow htm to th
Prah, to which they replied that they would do so after the
had subdued the Awunas. The truth was that they care



very little about making war on Ashanti which had not
troubled them during the late invasion and a great deal
about making war upon the Awunas, upon whom they had
many injuries to avenge, and they had simply made use of
Captain Glover. They had received his money, arms, and
powder, and the assistance of his steamers and Houssas,
not to carry out his wishes but their own. Finally, rinding
that the natives would not abandon the trans- Volta cam-
paign, Captain Glover started on December 29th, with his
Houssas and Odonkos, for the Prah; leaving Mr. Golds-
worthy and Lieutenant Moore, R.N., with 11,780 native allies,
to proceed against the Awunas.

The disembarkation of the European regiments com-
menced at Cape Coast on January 1st, 1874, in the following
order : Rifle Brigade, 42nd, 23rd. The Rifle Brigade drew
its transport from Cape Coast, and that of the 42nd, chiefly
consisting of Gomoas, was brought down from Mansu, so
these two battalions marched off without difficulty; but
before the disembarkation of the 23rd was completed, reports
were received from Colonel Colley that such numbers of
carriers had deserted, that only a sufficient number remained
to keep up the flow of supplies to the front ; and in default
of transport, the men of the 23rd who had landed had to
be re-embarked. By this time a bridge had been completed
over the Prah, and by January 7th the advanced party of
native troops, consisting of Lord Gifford's scouts and Russell's
Regiment, occupied Essaman, a village north of the Prah.

On January 6th Sir Garnet Wolseley sent to the King
from the camp at Prahsu an ultimatum, to the effect that
he would be prepared to make peace upon the following
terms : (i) All prisoners, both European and African, to be
at once delivered up ; (2) An indemnity of 50,000 ounces of
gold to be paid ; (3) A treaty of peace to be signed at
Kumassi, to which place the Major-General would proceed
with a sufficient force of Europeans, hostages for their safety
being first given. This document was sent to Kumassi by two
messengers, who had come down with two letters from the


King; one saying that he had forbidden Am ankwa Tia t
attack the forts, and the other, dated a month later, com
plaining of the attack made at Faisowa, when, he allegec
he was only withdrawing his army from the Protectorate, a
requested by the English.

When they reached Kumassi, the messengers reported tha
the advanced party of the army was already at Essaman, am
the Adansi chiefs were at once ordered to Fomana to ba
the approach to the capital. But though this precautionary
measure was taken, the King, now thoroughly alarmed,
wished for peace, as did most of the chiefs ; and the queen-
mother, who is the most influential person in the kingdom,
had already appealed to the Kotoko Council to release the
European captives and make peace. The missionaries say
that the ultimatum was quietly heard, and if an exclamation
escaped a chief the King at once commanded attention :
there were none of those furious outbursts to which they were
accustomed, for this time the matter was too serious. The
army, disheartened by its great losses, and disgusted with it 1
commander, had been disbanded, and could not be re-
assembled for some weeks, and here was the white mar
already north of the Prah. The King, therefore, wrote t<
Sir Garnet Wolseley, on January Qth, that he accepted th(
terms of peace, and in proof of his friendship sent one of th(
Europeans, Mr. Kiihne. He said that Amankwa Tia hac
disobeyed orders in attacking Elmina, and he begged, tc
prevent any misunderstanding, that the British force migh
not proceed any further, " for fear of meeting some of nr
captains as to cause fighting." This last was the pith of th
matter, and the King was willing to promise anything i
the invading force would only stop. He would certainl;
have complied with the first, and probably with the second
demand of the ultimatum to effect that object ; but th
third would never have been agreed to, for the presence c *
a European force in Kumassi would have been regarded b
all the surrounding tribes as proof of the downfall c
Ashanti, and their haughty spirit would never submit t -



it without a struggle. To the King's letter Sir Garnet
replied, on January I3th, that he could not halt his force
till the terms he had mentioned were complied with, and
he urged the King to send the other prisoners as a proof
of his sincerity.

It had been supposed that, if the Ashantis intended to
fight, they would commence to resist as soon as the troops
crossed the Prah ; but the territory of Adansi, then the
most southerly province of Ashanti on this road, only began
on the north side of the Adansi Hills, and the country
between these and the Prah was the old Assin kingdom,
whence the Assins had long been driven, and which was now
only inhabited by a few hunters. Hence the troops were
able to push on rapidly, and by January i/th the summit of
the Adansi Hills had been occupied and fortified by Russell's
regiment, with the 2nd West India Regiment in support at
Akrufumu.* On the i8th the scouts pushed on to Kwisa,
the first Adansi town, which, being deserted, was occupied
next morning by Major Russell, and a further advance made
to Fomana, which was also found deserted. Lying on the
road near the south side of the town was found a gun,
roughly carved out of wood, which had a number of knives
stuck into it; and close by was a dead man impaled on a
stake, and horribly mutilated, with the dissevered parts of
the body hung round the neck. This was a sacrifice offered
to the chief war-god of the tribe, to induce him to prevent
the English from advancing further into Adansi.

On January 2Oth the passage of the Prah was commenced
by the European troops, upon whom the climate was now
beginning to tell, the Naval Brigade having sent back 40
men out of 250 who had left Cape Coast, and the Rifle
Brigade 57 out of 650, and this in a little less than three
weeks. In consequence of this loss, and the probability
of the number of sick daily increasing, a detachment of
200 men of the 23rd was ordered to be landed and marched

* Akru-fumu Place of village folk.


to Prahsu, On January 23rd another letter was receive
from the King, in which he urgently entreated that tt
advance of the troops should be suspended, and in proof
friendship he released all the European captives. He sa
that he had no quarrel of any kind with the white men, ar
that he would make Amankwa Tia, whom he charged wi
having disobeyed his instructions, pay the indemnity, if onlj
the further advance of the force would be stopped. Th(
released captives said that the King was thoroughl)
frightened, and was most anxious to have peace proclaimed
Yet, when it had been pointed out to him, and the chiefs, tha
all the prisoners, native as well as European, were required t(
be surrendered, and that the payment of 50,000 ounces wa
one of the conditions of peace, a violent outburst of passioi
had taken place. Even the queen-mother became greatl;
excited, and all the chiefs sprang to their feet, swearing an<
shouting in the wildest confusion, for the Ashantis conside
it the greatest disgrace to be coerced by threats. In the en<
the counsel of the King, who foresaw defeat and his ow:
ruin in the near future if any fighting took place, prevailed
and he sent the Europeans " to speak a good word fc
him," hoping they might persuade the Major-General to stoj
It appeared that the Kotoko Council had really agreed t
release all the European and native prisoners on the occasio
when Mr. Kiihne was sent down ; but while it was sti .
sitting, Obeng, chief of Adansi, the " boundary guard ( :
Ashanti," sent a message to say that he would fire upon th >
enemy, and that if the people in Kumassi had no powde ,
he at least had some ; which so wounded the pride of th :
chiefs that they recanted their former decision, and sei :
Mr. Kiihne alone. This chief, Obeng, it may here t ;
observed, was afterwards the first to desert the Ashan i
kingdom. On their way to the British camp the captiv< 5
saw him at Dompoassi, which swarmed with soldiers ; an 1
now that his own towns were threatened, he had at la t
discovered that war was a bad thing. " Look at this village '
he said, " it is quite deserted. Does it not make one's hea t


ache?" It was refreshing to find that the Ashantis, after
having burned so many scores of peaceful villages, were
at last forced to tremble for their own.

On January 24th, Sir Garnet Wolseley, at Fomana,
replied to the King's letter, saying that he intended to go
to Kumassi, and that it was for the King to decide whether
he went there as friend or foe. If the King wished him to
come as a friend, all the native prisoners must be released
at once, and 25,000 ounces of gold must be sent with the
following six hostages Prince Mensa, heir to the stool,
the queen-mother, and the heirs of the chiefs of Djuabin,
Mampon,* Bekweh, and Kokofu.f These conditions being
complied with, he would proceed to Kumassi, with an escort
of 500 European soldiers, to make a treaty of peace.
Although the General was not aware of it, these terms were
such as it was impossible for the King to fulfil, for the
six hostages demanded were the principal people in the
kingdom, and, united, were much more powerful than he;
while under no circumstances, as long as Ashanti remained
a kingdom, could the queen-mother and the heir apparent be
given up.

On the 25th Dompoassi was occupied, and next day
reconnaissances were made to Adubiassi, to the left of the
road, and to Essia-Kwanta,J in front ; there was a slight
skirmish at Adubiassi, and the village was burned. As some
prisoners taken at this place reported the presence of a force
of 1,000 men at Borborassi, a reconnaissance against that
village was made on the 29th, and the Ashantis driven out
into the bush ; but unfortunately this was not done without
loss, Captain Nicol being killed, and four of the Naval Brigade
wounded. The troops were all now well up to the front, but
out of a force of 1,800 Europeans, 218 had already become
non-effective through sickness. On the 3Oth the advanced

* Mampon is probably a corruption of Mampam, the iguana.
f Koko-fu probably means People of the Hill (Koko), there being a
^veil-marked range of hills in the Kokofu District.
f Essia-Kwanta Six Roads.


guard was at Kwaman, the European troops at Insarfu, a
the ist West India Regiment, which had been ordered up,
between Fomana and Essia-Kwanta. The scouts had found
the Ashantis in force just beyond the village of Egginassi,
and it was evident that the following day would bring about
a battle.

It will now be as well to inquire what the auxiliary
columns to the right and left of the main body had been
doing. Captain Glover crossed the Prah on January i5th
with about 800 Houssas and Odonkos, and on the i6th a
slight skirmish took place at Abogu, where the Houssas
expended so much ammunition that the force had to remair
halted till the 26th to allow a further supply to come up ; but
this delay enabled the King of Eastern Akim, and the chie
of Assum, who were not much interested in a campaigr
against the Awunas, to join with some 500 men. Captaii
Butler had crossed the Prah at Beronassi on January I5th, it
compliance with orders, but without one man of the fore-
he was to have raised from the Western Akims. A few day
later, however, some men came in, and by the 2Oth about QCX
had arrived, with whom Captain Butler advanced, intendin; \
to strike into the main road at Amoafu.* He reache< !
Yankoma on the 24th, and on the 25th an advanced part
of his force occupied the deserted village of Enun-su. O I
this day Captain Glover, whose column was gradually cor 1
verging on that of Captain Butler, detached a party of Easter 1 1
Akims to attack this very village, which he believed to \ *:
occupied by the enemy ; and each party mistaking the oth< rij
for Ashantis, a skirmish took place, which resulted in tl *q
Eastern Akirns being driven off with three killed and sever 1 (
wounded. Although the two columns were only some eig tq
miles apart, each was ignorant of the presence of the oth< r
and these facts were only discovered after the war. It seen s
however, that the Eastern Akims had some suspicion of t e
truth, for on returning to Captain Glover they said th y

* Amoa mine, or pit ; fu, or fo people.


thought Enun-su was occupied by Western Akims; but
the report was attributed to cowardice, and no attention was
paid to it. The Western Akims were much elated at their
supposed victory over the Ashantis, but they could not be
induced to advance any further till the 27th, when they
moved to Akina, about ten miles south-east of Amoafu.
Akina was found to have been hastily abandoned, and here
Captain Butler halted, till, on January 3Oth, his whole force,
seized with a sudden panic, retreated across the Enun River,
and thence to the Prah, where the men dispersed to their
homes, so that Captain Butler's column ceased to exist.
Captain Glover, after his attack on the other column at
Enun-su, pushed on to Odumassi, where a slight skirmish
took place ; but was obliged to halt at Conomo, three miles to
the east of Odumassi, to wait for further supplies of ammuni-
tion. Captain Dalrymple's mission to raise a column from
the Wassaws had failed so completely that up to January
24th he had only succeeded in raising fifty men from the
seven Kings and chiefs to whom he had been commissioned ;
and as nothing could induce these men to cross the Offim
River and enter Ashanti territory, Captain Dalrymple
abandoned his task as hopeless, and rejoined the main column
at Fomana.

These were all the movements of the auxiliary columns
up to January 3Oth, the eve of a great battle. Of the three
projected auxiliary columns one only remained ; but insignifi-
cant as these operations were from a military point of view,
they were not without some effect upon the Ashantis. On
January I4th messengers had reached Kumassi with exag-
gerated reports of Captain Glover's doings, and, in consequence
of his reported advance, Kokofu, which is regarded by the
Ashantis as a holy town, was abandoned by its inhabitants on
the 2Oth. Appeals for assistance were also made by the
inhabitants of the villages threatened by Captain Butler's
column, and the King had been constrained to send a few
barrels of powder from his scanty stock. Captain Glover's
movements also prevented the Djuabin contingent from

Y 2



joining the Ashanti army that barred the way to the capital,
and thus drew off some 12,000 men. It was commonly
supposed at the time that the rumour of Captain Dalrymple's
advance had similarly drawn off the Bekweh contingent ; but
this was proved to be entirely without foundation, and it was
the men of that province who offered the most obstinate
resistance at Amoafu.



Battle of Amoafu Attack of Kwaman and Fomana Battle of Ordahsu
Kumassi entered Incendiary fires The King's palace Messages
from the King Burning of Kumassi.

AT daybreak on 3ist January, 1874, the troops advanced in
three columns, the centre one, under- Sir Archibald Alison,
consisting of the 42nd Highlanders and the scouts ; the left
under Colonel McLeod, of half the Naval Brigade and Russell's
Regiment ; and the right, under Lieutenant-Colonel Wood, of
the other half of the Naval Brigade and Wood's Regiment.
The Rifle Brigade and a company of the 23rd Welsh Fusiliers
were held in reserve. Wood's and Russell's Regiments con-
sisted now of but few men, so many having been left to
assist in garrisoning the various posts along the road, and
the total force, including engineer labourers, amounted to
no more than 1,609 Europeans and 708 natives.

Touch of the enemy was first obtained about three-
quarters of a mile from Kwaman, at the village of Egginassi,
which was taken without serious resistance ; but just beyond
it he was found in considerable force. After leaving Eggi-
nassi the path turned to the right, and descended into a
swampy hollow, where flowed a sluggish stream, after crossing
which it again turned slightly to the right and ascended a
ridge. This ridge, which projected forward on the left so
as to take in flank the path descending to the hollow and the


hollow itself, was the enemy's main position, and his cam
extended along it for a great distance.

As the 42nd commenced descending to the hollow the
enemy opened fire, and a hundred yards in advance the forest
was obscured with smoke, from which shot forth countless
tongues of flame without a single foe being visible. The
fire was so heavy that the branches of the trees overhanging
the path were almost stripped of their leaves ; but the enem)
were firing at a range too great for their weapons, and thougl
many men were struck, the hail of lead was almost harmless
As company after company went down the path they wer
lost to sight in the forest, but their position could be tol
by the sharp reports of their rifles, so different to the lou
dull roar of the Ashanti musketry, and their advance to t
stream was rapid. Here, however, the affair became m
serious, for the Ashantis were close up, and the men bega
to fall fast, and the wounded to stream to the rear. By hal
past nine, although seven out of eight companies of the 42n
were engaged, they were making but little way; the con
pany of the 23rd was accordingly brought up from Egginas.'
and a little later, this reinforcement being found insufficier
the two guns under Captain Rait, R.A., were ordered in-
action in front. With some difficulty they were got aero
the stream and a little way up the path beyond, whe
they fired up the ascent into the dense masses of the enen
crowded together for its defence; and fourteen or fifte<
rounds fired in quick succession so shook the Ashantis, th
the 42nd were able to carry the ridge with a rush. On t
summit was found a large camp, and when this was travers
a determined opposition was offered from a ridge beyon I
but the same tactics were repeated, the guns again broug ifej
into play, a fresh charge made, and this position also carri- dd
This was the last serious stand offered by the enemy to 1 u
advance of the 42nd, and after a few rounds from the gi i
the village of Amoafu was rushed, the enemy flying fr rn
it in great disorder.

While the centre column had been thus engaged, the ] #j
column had moved to the left from Egginassi, and cc n



rnenced cutting a path parallel to the main road ; but so
heavy a fire was brought to bear by the enemy that its
progress was much impeded, and Captain Buckle, R.E., fell
mortally wounded while encouraging his labourers. At last,
however, a path was cut to the crest of a hill, and, a clearing
being made there, some rockets were brought into play,
under cover of which Russell's Regiment drove the Ashantis
from the bush in front The right column had commenced
cutting a path to the right a little beyond Egginassi, but the
fire from both flanks was so heavy that Colonel Wood was
unable to advance, and, a clearing being made, the men lay
down and engaged the Ashantis.

While the 42nd had been employed in the hollow, per-
sistent attacks had been made on both flanks at Egginassi ;
and after Amoafu had been carried, the Ashantis reoccupied
the ridge commanding the hollow, and even came into the
road in rear of the village. The opposition in front and to
the left, however, gradually ceased after midday, and the left

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Burdon) EllisA history of the Gold Coast of West Africa → online text (page 27 of 34)