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.
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.