A. B. (Alfred Burdon) Ellis.

A history of the Gold Coast of West Africa online

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destroying the mausoleum of the former Kings at Bantama
The destruction of that building would undoubtedly hav<
had a prodigious effect both upon the Ashantis and th<


surrounding tribes, and the spoil would probably have been
great, as all the wealth accumulated by former Kings, and
which could only be used in cases of national emergency,
was kept there ; but it was really impossible to under-
take any operations which might involve another battle,
and the Ashantis would certainly have defended Bantama.
There were only enough hammocks and bearers to carry
back to Agemmamu the present sick and wounded, and
as the number of these would certainly have been increased
by another battle, any advance to Bantama was put out of
the question.

Early in the morning of this day all the wounded who
were unable to march were sent off, escorted by Wood's
and Russell's Regiments and a company of the Rifle Brigade;
and about eleven o'clock news was returned that the Ordah
had risen so that the water was about eighteen inches over
the bridge. This report caused some anxiety, which
was increased when, in the afternoon, a succession of
furious tornadoes swept over Kumassi, and converted the
market-place into a pool of water. In the meantime the
day passed, and evening began to close in without the
King having appeared, and as it was impossible to wait
longer, there was nothing to be done but to destroy Kumassi
and return to Agemmamu. Prize agents were appointed
to collect from the palace such valuables as could be trans-
ported by thirty carriers, and orders were given for the
engineers to make preparations for blowing up that building
and firing the town on the following morning. During the
night it rained heavily for many hours, an unusual occurrence
for the time of year.

At six next morning the troops were formed up in the
market-place, and soon afterwards commenced to march off.
The rain had ceased, but the water in the Suban swamp
had much risen, and the passage of the Ordah occupied
all thoughts. The preparation of the mines for the de-
struction of the palace took longer than had been expected,
and the last of the main body had left Kumassi a full hour

z 2



before they were ready. Then the town was set on fire.
Commencing on the north of the town the houses were fired
down to the south side, the thick thatched roofs, as dry
as tinder except just on the surface, blazing furiously. At
nine o'clock the mines in the palace were fired, and the
42nd, who formed the rear-guard, quitted Kumassi.



Return march to the coast Movements of Captain Glover's column-
March of Captain Sartorius Envoys from the King The Treaty of
Fomana Adansi becomes independent The trade in arms at
Assini The climate Embassy from Kumassi The Treaty signed
Treaty concluded with the Awunas The Gold Coast made a
colony Abolition of slavery.

THE commencement of the return march was not without
difficulties, as all the streams were much swollen by the
rains of the preceding days. Fortunately the Ashantis had
not thought of destroying the bridge over the Ordah, but
the water was over it nearly two feet when the main body
crossed ; and by the evening, when the 42nd reached it,
it had given way, so that the men had to swim the river.
The troops bivouacked for the night on the site of their
former camp, and next morning the Naval Brigade and
the company of the 23rd were ordered on to Cape Coast,
where they at once re-embarked ; but the Rifle Brigade and
the 42nd moved down more leisurely, waiting till the stores
were cleared out of Agemmamu. So far the success of the
expedition was not quite complete, for though Kumassi had
been burned, a fact which would probably put a curb upon
Ashanti ambition for a good many years, the King had not
capitulated, had signed no treaty, and had not paid an ounce
of gold ; but on February Qth a messenger from him over-
took the army, expressing his desire to make peace, and



offering to agree to all the terms. This anxiety to conciliate
a foe who had already done his worst, and was now
evacuating his territory, was due to the advance of Captain
Glover's column, and to the movements of that force we
must now return.

We left Captain Glover, at the end of January, halted
at Conomo, awaiting further supplies of ammunition, and
on February 8th, four days after Kumassi had been entered
by the main column, he was still there. In the meantim<
the Djuabin contingent of the Ashanti army had taken
up a strong position on the north side of the Enun River,
to dispute the passage, and a slight skirmish with them had
taken place on the 1st, in which they had the advantage.
On the 8th Captain Glover was reinforced by a body of
Western Akims, which brought up the total strength of his
force to about 7,000 natives and 923 Houssas and Odonkos,
and on the same day he advanced to attack the Djuabin
position, which, to his surprise, he found abandoned. The
withdrawal of the Djuabins from the line of the Enun River
was in consequence of the news of the capture of Kumassi
having reached them, and next day the King of Djuabin
sent to Captain Glover to make submission. The column
now advanced without meeting with any opposition, and
on February loth Captain Glover sent Captain Sartorius to
open communications with the General, whom he supposed
still to be in Kumassi.

It was the near approach of Captain Glover's force that
now alarmed the King, who had no sooner got rid of one
invading army than he found another advancing. In ordi-
nary times the approach of such a rabble as that commandec
by Captain Glover would have caused very little concern
for it would have been easily swept away or annihilatec
by an overpowering force of Ashantis ; but the case wa
now very different. The burning of Kumassi had shakei
the Ashanti kingdom to its very foundations, and th
feudatory princes were showing signs of a desire to regai
their independence ; while the chief feudatory, the King c
Djuabin, had actually made submission and ceased hostilitie


without any reference to his sovereign. The Kumassi men
alone would doubtless have been fully capable of settling
accounts with Captain Glover's force, but then there was
the uncertainty whether the European troops might not
return, a contingency which must be averted ; so the mes-
senger, who overtook Sir Garnet Wolseley on February gth,
begged that he would order Captain Glover's forces to halt.
In reply he was informed that the Major-General would
remain at Fomana till the I3th, and that if by the night
of the 1 2th the King would send 5,000 ounces of gold, peace
would be made, and Captain Glover ordered to return across
the Prah.

In the meantime Captain Sartorius, with an escort of
twenty Houssas, had started from the village of Essiam
Impon, which was supposed to be about seven miles east
of Kumassi, but was really eighteen. He passed through
many villages, the inhabitants of which fled as he approached,
and was fired at once from the bush, but once only. On
the nth he entered Kumassi, which was absolutely deserted,
except by one or two stragglers, pushed on to Amoafu the
same night, and surprised every one by appearing at Fomana
next day, after having marched fifty miles through the heart
of the enemy's country with only twenty men.

On the night of the I2th the envoys from the King
returned, and halted at Dompoassi, sending on word that
he had fulfilled the conditions, and on the I3th they were
received at Fomana. They at first stated that they had
brought only 1,000 ounces of gold, and declared that the
King could not at present produce any more. They said
he had never before been required to pay so large a sum,
and that even Governor Maclean had only demanded 600
ounces as a temporary security. They were told to produce
what gold they had, and they took from a heavy leathern
bag ornaments of every description, and nuggets, weighing
altogether about 1,040 ounces. The question of the amount
of payment was, however, of little importance, so long as the
King made submission, and the envoys were given the
following draft treaty to take back for the King's signature :


Article I. There shall be hereafter perpetual peace be-
tween the Queen of England and her Allies on the coast
on the one part, and the King of Ashanti and all his people
on the other part.

Article 2. The King of Ashanti promises to pay the sum
of 50,000 ounces of approved gold as an indemnity for the
expenses he has occasioned to Her Majesty the Queen of
England by the late war ; and undertakes to pay 1,000
ounces of gold forthwith, and the remainder by such instal-
ments as Her Majesty's Government may from time to time

Article 3. The King of Ashanti, on the part of himself
and his successors, renounces all right or title to any tribute
or homage from the Kings of Denkera, Assin, Akim, Adansi,
and the other allies of Her Majesty, formerly subject to
the King of Ashanti.

Article 4. The King, on the other part of himself and of
his heirs and successors, does hereby further renounce for
ever all pretensions to supremacy over Elmina, or over any
of the tribes formerly connected with the Dutch Government,
and to any tribute or homage from such tribes, as well as to
any payment or acknowledgment of any kind by the British
Government in respect of Elmina, or any other of the British
forts and possessions on the Coast.

Article 5. The King will at once withdraw all his troops
from Appollonia and its vicinity, and from the neighbour-
hood of Dixcove, Sekondi, and the adjoining coast-line.

Article 6. There shall be freedom of trade between
Ashanti and Her Majesty's forts on the Coast, all persons
being at liberty to carry their merchandise from the Coast tc
Kumassi, or from that place to any of Her Majesty's pos-
sessions on the Coast.

Article 7. The King of Ashanti guarantees that the road
from Kumassi to the River Prah shall always be kept open
and free from bush to a width of fifteen feet.

Article 8. As Her Majesty's subjects and the people o
Ashanti are henceforth to be friends for ever, the King, ir
order to prove the sincerity of his friendship for Queer


Victoria, promises to use his best endeavours to check the
practice of human sacrifice, with a view to hereafter putting
an end to it altogether, as the practice is repugnant to the

I feeling of all Christian nations.
Article 9. One copy of this Treaty shall be signed by the
King of Ashanti and sent to the Administrator of Her Ma-
jesty's Government at Cape Coast Castle within fourteen
days from this date.

Article 10. This Treaty shall be known as the Treaty of

The treaty was explained to the envoys, paragraph by
paragraph, and they objected to two clauses. They professed
not to have understood that the sum of money demanded
was so large as 50,000 ounces ; but it was explained that the
King had already given a written promise to pay that
amount. They also objected to the Adansis being included
in the list of those tribes to which the King was to renounce
all claim. The Adansi tribe had been placed in this list at
the request of the King of Adansi, who, accompanied by a
number of his chiefs, and by some chiefs of Wassaw and
Denkera, had come to Fomana, and expressed his desire to
secede from the Ashanti kingdom, and to settle with his
people south of the Prah, under British protection. He told
the officer sent to see him that his people were regarded
by the Ashantis more as enemies than friends, and that he
had been unwilling, and had even refused, to fight against
the invading force. This was an utter fabrication, for we
know, from the evidence of the captive missionaries, that he
was one of the foremost of the war party, and that it was
through his conduct that the other Europeans were not
released when Mr. Kiihne was sent down. It was the
Adansis, moreover, who had made the attack on Fomana,
and who had, on several occasions, interfered with the
transport by firing upon convoys. However, this was not
known at the time, and, his statements being believed,
when the Ashanti envoys arrived to conclude a treaty, Sir
Garnet Wolseley himself saw the Adansi King to hear what
he had to urge. He asked to be placed under British pro-


tection, and declared that, whether it were granted or not, he
must now emigrate, because his negotiations would bring
upon him the vengeance of the King. This seemed true
enough, and he was therefore told that no hindrance would
be offered to his migration, and the name of his tribe would
be included in the treaty. It is to be regretted that it was
not made clear that the protection of the Adansis would be
conditional upon their removal, for, as will be seen later on,
after having succeeded in getting his tribe included in the
treaty, the King of Adansi did not emigrate, but, con-
ceiving himself to be under British protection, interfered
with the Ashantis in many ways, and thus caused serious

In the meantime, Captain Glover, who had had no intelli-
gence from the main column since January 23rd, crossed the
Ordah near Apragmassi on February nth, and entered
Kumassi next day. He there learned that messengers had
gone down from the King, accepting the terms and carrying
a first instalment of the indemnity ; and accordingly marched
down the road to Prahsu by easy stages. Just south of the
Adansi Hills he was overtaken by a messenger from the
King, requesting that he would order the King of Eastern
Akim, who had gone to Djuabin to endeavour to detach the
King of that province from the Ashanti kingdom, to return
at once to his own country. This request was supported by
a present of fourteen ounces of gold and a gold dish, which
was returned ; but, in accordance with Sir Garnet's instruc-
tions, the King of Eastern Akim was ordered to return across
the Prah.

Captain Glover arrived at Prahsu on February i/th with
about 4,450 men, who were at once made use of to remove the
stores which had been accumulated at Essaman, and whose
removal had been a matter of grave consideration. The
village was now cleared out by the 2Oth, and on the 23rd the
last troops were withdrawn across the Prah and the bridge
over the river destroyed. On February iQth Sir Garnet
Wolseley entered Cape Coast, where he was received by thou-
sands of Fanti women, who were painted white, the sign of


rejoicing, and waved green branches and sang paeans of
praise. By the 2/th all the European regiments had em-
barked, Wood's and Russell's Regiments were soon after paid
off, and the 2nd West India Regiment sailed for the West
Indies, the 1st West India Regiment remaining to garrison
the Gold Coast, and being distributed between Prahsu, Mansu,
Cape Coast, and Elmina.

It having been decided that the Government was to
remain on the same footing as during Sir Garnet's tenure
of office, with the military and civil command united in the
senior military officer, the governorship of the Colony was in
turn offered to Sir A. Alison, Colonel M'Leod, Colonel Greaves,
and Lieutenant -Colonel Colley, and by them all refused
on account of the climate. And this is the chief difficulty
which even now stands in the way of progress and prosperity
on the Gold Coast, for no really capable and first-rate man
will accept the governorship, no matter what addition may
be made to the salary. Much of the confusion and mis-
management that had occurred in the past was due to the
fact that the Administrators were usually men whose abilities
were below mediocrity, and who had been thrust into the
appointment because no one better could be found to
accept it ; and there seems every probability of this state of
things being continued. Finding none of the officers with
him disposed to accept the governorship, Sir Garnet
Wolseley summoned from Prahsu Colonel Maxwell, 1st West
India Regiment, who had to remain on the Gold Coast with
his regiment, and handing over the government of the
Colony to him, sailed for England on March 4th. Before
quitting the Gold Coast he sent Mr. Goldsworthy to make a
treaty of peace with the Awunas and Akwamus, and Dr.
Gouldsbury was despatched to the Ahanta coast to receive
the submission of the different tribes. A number of Wassaw
messengers had also come in, complaining that the King
of Adansi had not fulfilled his promise to move to the
south of the Prah, and requesting that an armed force might
be sent to compel him to come into the Protectorate ; but
they were informed that nothing of the kind could be done.


During the war, the importation into the Protectorate of
arms, ammunition, and warlike stores had been prohibited,
but it had been found impossible to prevent the Ashantis
from obtaining all they required from the French settlement
of Assini, or from Kittah, to the east of the Volta ; and to
their discredit be it said, it was principally British traders
who thus supplied the enemy, at a time when British soldiers
were fighting him. In March, 1873, tne commander of the
French ship of war Curieuse told Colonel Harley at Cape
Coast that large quantities of arms and ammunition were
being landed at Assini, for sale to the Ashantis, from
British vessels, and that one ship alone had landed 150 cases
of muskets, and 2,000 barrels of powder. The officers of the
French navy did all in their power to stop this traffic, and
Captain Mathieu, of the sloop of war Bregant, gave Mons.
Verdier, the French agent at Assini, orders not to sell
munitions of war. Mons. Verdier, however, disputed his
right to give any such orders, no blockade having been
declared by the French Government, and explained that if
his stores were full of munitions of war, it was only because
he was unable to sell on account of the enormous quantities
that had been imported and sold by the English before, but
more especially after, the declaration of war. Messrs. F. &
A. Swanzy, then the chief British traders on the Gold Coast,
were believed to have landed most of these munitions at
Assini ; and although they denied this, and altogether
repudiated having dealt directly or indirectly in the supply
of arms or ammunition to the Ashantis, their ships continued
to arrive on the coast with arms and ammunition on board,
and they did not endeavour to prove their sincerity by
ceasing to export such articles while the war continued.
The naval officers, however, who knew that, whatever the
intentions of the partners of the firm might be, most of the
local agents could not be trusted, acted with vigour, and
several of their vessels were detained during the course of the

The unhealthiness of the climate of the Gold Coast was
strikingly illustrated during the campaign of 1874. Seventy-



one per cent, of sickness occurred amongst the white troops
landed, and forty-three per cent, were invalided to England ;
rhile ninety-five per cent, of sickness took place in the Naval
Irigade, and thirty-nine per cent, were invalided to England.
And this, it must be remembered, occurred in a body of men
Full of health and vigour, who were subjected to a searching
medical examination before being landed, and only remained
some seven weeks in the country, during the healthiest time
of the year. The mortality amongst the men was small, as
invalids were sent away promptly ; but more than forty
officers died, only six of them from wounds.

On March I3th an Ashanti embassy arrived at Cape
Coast, consisting of a son of the King, KwofTi Intin by name,
representatives from the various provinces of Ashanti, and a
number of court officials. They presented the treaty, which
had been sent from Fomana by Sir Garnet Wolseley, marked
at the foot by the King with two crosses, in token of assent; but
as they stated that the King believed the amount of the indem-
nity to be 5,000 bendas (10,000 ounces), it was explained to them
that it was 50,000 ounces, and Colonel Maxwell desired them
to withdraw and consult, so that there might be no possibility
of mistake. On the third day they were again received, and
the treaty was then signed by them in token of its full
acceptance by the King, after which they asked, on behalf of
the King, that the ground rent formerly paid by the Dutch
for Elmina might be continued by the Colonial Government,
and that the King of Adansi might be compelled to return to
his allegiance to Ashanti. They complained that the King
of Eastern Akim had taken by force a number of hostages
from towns belonging to Ashanti- Akim, and was en-
deavouring to force the inhabitants of that district to throw
off their allegiance ; and requested that he might be directed
to give up these men and cease from further interference.
With regard to human sacrifices, the King promised to do
what was required of him, but hoped he might be allowed to
sacrifice two or three lives when any great chief died, other-
wise the people would think the nation was declining.
Lastly, the embassy, in the King's name, presented Kwoffi


Intin to the British Government, in token of confidence, and
asked that he might be educated in England. Later on
another message was received through a fresh embassy, tc
the effect that the Kings of Eastern and Western Akim had
compelled the inhabitants of certain towns in Ashanti-Akim
to throw off their allegiance and emigrate ; and that the King
of Eastern Akim had taken hostages from the King o!
Djuabin to ensure his secession from the Ashanti kingdom
The King begged the Governor to put a stop to these
intrigues, and Colonel Maxwell wrote forbidding the Kings
of Akim to interfere with Ashanti affairs.

Dr. Gouldsbury's mission to the Ahanta coast was com
pletely successful. The chiefs who had joined the Ashantis
and whose towns had in consequence been bombarded
expressed their contrition ; fines were imposed upon some of
them, and the mutual release of all prisoners that had been
taken was promised. Mr. Goldsworthy, however, was not
equally successful, for though he proceeded to the Volta, he
did not succeed in communicating with the Awunas an

Colonel Maxwell's health soon breaking down, he sailed
for England early in April, and died on the passage home.
He was temporarily succeeded by Lieutenant - Colonel
Johnston, but only for a few days, as a commission arrived
almost at once appointing Mr. Charles Cameron Lees
Administrator. On June 22nd Mr. Lees concluded a treaty
of peace with the Awunas at Jella Koffi, in which it was
stipulated that the Volta should be kept open for all lawful
trade, and the Awunas acknowledged the right of the
British Government to occupy Jella Koffi, Kittah, or any
other place deemed necessary, in order to place Awuna
country under the same jurisdiction as the Gold Coast
This was an important concession, as the jurisdiction of the
Danes, which the British had acquired by the purchase
of Kittah Fort, had been limited to Kittah and Jella Koffi
but now there was no obstacle to the incorporation of the
whole of the Awuna territory with the Gold Coast Colony.

On the 24th of July a new charter was issued, in whicl



the Gold Coast and Lagos were separated from the Govern-
ment of Sierra Leone, and formed into a separate Colony,
styled the Gold Coast Colony. Captain George Cumine
Strahan, R.A., was appointed Governor.

The Ashanti War, which had brought temporarily to the
Gold Coast so many Europeans, and amongst them news-
paper correspondents, had made the British public acquainted
with a fact of which it was before in ignorance, namely, that
slavery was a recognised institution in the Protectorate, and
that English Courts of Law could be invoked to compel a
fugitive slave to return to or be restored to his owner.
The public was very indignant, and the Home Government
was compelled to take the matter in hand, for it was
everywhere felt that the recognition of slavery by the
nation which had taken the first steps for the suppression
of the slave trade, and had been the first, even at the
cost of the ruin of its West India possessions, to abolish
slavery, was an anomaly that must at once cease. The
Government had, however, no treaty right to take any
such measure, and all the old fallacies concerning the
conditions of our jurisdiction on the Gold Coast were

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Burdon) EllisA history of the Gold Coast of West Africa → online text (page 29 of 34)