By Major R. S. S. Baden-Powell
13th Hussars, Commanding The Native Levy.


Laying the Field Telegraph in the Bush



14th December.
PREPARATIONS such as those I have described take some doing, as they have to be completed before the white troops can usefully be landed; and they have to be pushed on well into the proximity of the enemy. For this reason they demand the presence of a covering force to pro­tect their progress. A small body of Houssas is already engaged on this duty near Prahsu. (Houssas, I may explain, are disciplined native troops drawn from the fighting Mohammedan tribes of the Gold Coast Hinterland, and commanded by white officers; they do not call them­selves either "Hoos-as" or "Hussars," but "Howsers.")

An order has now been given that an additional force, composed of native warriors, shall be organised and pushed up to act as covering force in front of the expedition.

It falls to my lot to get together and organise this corps. Fortunately I have the advantage of the valuable assistance of Captain Graham, D.S.O., 5th Lancers, whose other name is "The Sutler." If this implies that he is as business­like as he is enterprising, the title is not inappro­priate. One hundred of the Adansi tribe have already been collected and armed by the civil authorities, and have taken up their position as outposts beyond the Prah, in the country from which they have lately been driven by the aggression of the Ashantis.

In addition to these we are to get the services of men of various tribes living nearer to the coast within the colony. Numbers of them are promised by the various kings and chiefs, who, how­ever, on the slightest pretext go back on their engagements with most annoying promptness. At last, after three days of alternate cajoling and threatening, we get these chiefs to undertake to produce 500 men on the 16th December by noon.

16th December, Noon.
The parade ground outside the castle lies an arid desert in the midday sun, and the sea breeze wanders where it listeth. Not a man is there. It is a matter then for a hammock-ride through the slums of the slum that forms the town. Kings are forked out of the hovels where they are lodging, at the end of a stick; they in their turn rouse out their captains, and by two o’clock the army is assembled. Then it is a sight for, the gods to see "The Sutler" putting each man in his place. The stupid inertness of the puzzled negro is duller than that of an ox; a dog would grasp your meaning in one-half the time. Men and brothers! They may be brothers, but they certainly are not men.

If it were not for the depressing heat and the urgency of the work, one could sit down and laugh to tears at the absurdity of the thing, but under the circumstances it is a little "wearing." But our motto is the old West Coast proverb, "Softly, softly, catchee monkey"; in other words, "Don’t flurry; patience gains the day." It was in joke suggested as a maxim for our levy of softly-sneaking scouts, but we came to adopt it as our guiding principle, and I do not believe that a man acting on any other principle could organise a native levy on the West Coast—and live.

Gradually out of chaos order comes. Kings and chiefs are installed as officers, and the men are roughly divided into companies under their orders.

Then the uniform is issued. This consists of nothing more than a red fez for each man, but it gives as much satisfaction to the naked warrior as does his first tunic to the young hussar.

Arms are to be issued to the corps at Prahsu, and that the intervening seventy miles may not be traversed uselessly, each man is now supplied with a commissariat load to carry on his head. At three o’clock the levy is ready for the march.

His Excellency the Governor inspects the ranks, and says a few encouraging words to the leading chiefs and captains. Among the men we muster a few with drums and others who are artists on the horn. The horn in this case consists of a hollowed elephant’s tusk, garnished with many human jaw-bones—its notes are never more than two, and those of doleful tone; but at the signal for the march these horns give out a raucous din which, deepened by the rumble of the elephant hide drums, imparts a martial ardour to the men, and soon the jabbering, laughing mob goes shambling through the streets, bound for the bush beyond.


    The Authors Apology to the Reader.
    Sketch Map of the March to Kumassi
I.   Reasons For The Ashanti Expedition of 1895-96.
II.   Preliminaries To The Expedition
III.   Local Preparations.
IV.    At Cape Coast Castle (with a note on the British Royal Family).
V.   The Levy Starts
VI.   In the Bush
VII.   Pioneer Work
VIII.   The Scouts
IX.   The Bekwai Column
X.   Forward Movements
XI.   In Kumassi
XII.   Preparing the "Coup"

The Downfall

XIV.   After Events
XV.   The Coastward March
XVI.   Homeward Bound
XVII.   The Formation of the Native Levy
    Sir George Baden-Powell, "Policy And Wealth In Ashanti, 1895"

Major R. S. S. Baden-Powell.
The Downfall of Prempeh, 1895-96.
Chapter VI. In the Bush.
(In Preparation)
Major R. S. S. Baden-Powell.
The Downfall of Prempeh, 1895-96.
Sketch Map of the March to Kumassi
Lessons from the Varsity of Life
Chapter V: Soldiering
"With a Native Levy in Ashanti"
Eileen K. Wade,
The Piper of Pax: The Life Story of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, 1924
Chapter VIII. Ashanti.
The Baden-Powell Library. A Selection of excerpts from the works of Lord Baden-Powell and works relating to his life and career.
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