British Protectorate Established.
One result of the war of 1873-74 was that several
states dependent on Ashanti declared themselves independent, and
sought British protection. This was refused, and the inaction of the
colonial office contributed to the reconsolidation of the Ashanti
power. Shortly after the war the Ashanti deposed Kofi Karikari, and
placed on the golden stool-the symbol of sovereigntyhis brother
Mensa. This monarch broke almost every article of the Fomana treaty,
and even the payment of the indemnity was not demanded. (In all, only
4000 oz. of gold, out of the 50,000 stipulated for, were paid.)
Mensa’s rule was tyrannous and stained with repeated human sacrifices.
In 1883 a revolution displaced that monarch, who was
succeeded by Kwaka Dua II, a young man who died (June 1884) within a
few months of his election. In the same month died the ex-king Kofi
Karikari, and disruption threatened Ashanti. At length, after a
desolating civil war, Prince Prempehwho took the name of Kwaka Dua
IIIwas chosen king (March 26, 1888), the colonial government having
been forced to intervene in the dispute owing to the troubles it
occasioned in the Gold Coast. The election of Prempeh took place in
the presence and with the sanction of an officer of the Gold Coast
government. Prempeh defeated his enemies, and for a time peace and
prosperity returned to Ashanti. However in 1893 there was fresh
trouble between Ashanti and the tribes of the protectorate, and the
roads were closed to traders by Prempeh’s orders. The British
government was forced to interfere, more especially as the country, by
international agreement, had been included in the British sphere of
A mission was despatched to Prempeh, calling upon him
to fulfill the terms of the 1874 treaty, and further, to accept a
British protectorate and receive a resident at
Kumasi. The king declined to treat with the
governor of the Gold Coast, and despatched informal agents to England,
whom the secretary of state refused to receive. To the demands of the
British mission relative to the acceptance of a protectorate and other
matters, Prempeh made no reply in the three weeks’ grace allowed,
which expired on the 31st of October 1895.
To enforce the British demands, to put an end to the
misgovernment and barbarities carried on at
Kumasi, and to establish law, order and security for trade, an
expedition was at length decided upon. The force, placed under Colonel
Sir Francis Scott, consisted of the and West Yorkshire regiment, a
"special service corps," made up of detachments from various regiments
in the United Kingdom, under specially selected officers, the West
India regiment, and the Gold Coast and Lagos Hausa. The composition of
the special service corps was much criticized at the time; but as it
was not called upon for fighting purposes, no inferences as to its
efficiency are possible.
The details of the expedition were carefully organized.
Before the arrival of the staff and contingent from England (December
1895) the native forces were employed in improving the road from Cape
Coast to Prahsu (70 m.), and in establishing road stations to serve as
standing camps for the troops. About 12,000 carriers were collected,
the load allotted to each being 50 lb. In addition, a force of native
scouts, which ultimately reached a total of 860 men, was organized in
eighteen companies, and partly armed with Snider rifles, to cover the
advance of the main column, which started on the 27th of December, and
to improve the road. The king of Bekwai having asked for British
protection, a small force was pressed forward and occupied this native
town, about 25 m. from Kumasi, on the 4th of January 1896. The advance
continued, and at Ordahsu a mission arrived from King Prempeh offering
unconditional submission. On the 17th of January
Kumasi was occupied, and Colonel
Sir F. Scott received the king. Effective measures were taken to
prevent his escape, and on the 20th Prempeh made submission to Mr
(afterwards Sir W. E.) Maxwell, the governor of Cape Coast, in native
After this act of public humiliation, the king and the queen
mother with the principal chiefs were arrested and taken as prisoners
to Cape Coast, where they were embarked on board H.M.S. "Racoon" for
Elmina. The fetish buildings at Bantama were burned, and on the 22nd
of January Bokro, a village 5 m. from Kumasi, and Maheer, the king’s
summer palace, were visited by the native scouts and found deserted.
On the same day, leaving the Hausa at Kumasi, the expedition began the
return march of 150 m. to Cape Coast. The complete success of the
expedition was due to the excellent organization of the supply and
transport services, while the promptitude with which the operations
were carried out probably accounts in great measure for the absence of
resistance. Although no fighting occurred, a heavy strain was thrown
upon all ranks, and fever claimed many victims, among whom was Prince
Henry of Battenberg, who had volunteered for the post of military
secretary to Colonel Sir F. Scott.
After the deportation of Prempeh no successor was
appointed to the throne of Ashanti.
and Relief of Kumasi.
A British resident, Captain Donald W. Stewart, was
installed at Kumasi, and whilst the other states of the confederacy
retained their king and tribal system the affairs of the Kumasi were
administered by chiefs under British guidance. Mr and Mrs Ramseyer
(two of the missionaries imprisoned by King Kofi Karikari for four and
a half years) returned to Kumasi, and other missionaries followed. A
fort was built in Kumasi and garrisoned with Gold Coast constabulary.
Though outwardly submissive, the Kumasi chiefs were far from
reconciled to British rule, and in 1900 a serious rebellion broke out.
The tribes involved were the Kumasi,
Adansi and Kokofu; the other tribes of the Ashanti confederation
remained loyal. The rebels were, however, able to command a force
reported to number 40,000. On the 28th of March, before the rebellion
had declared itself, the governor of the Gold Coast, Sir F. Hodgson,
in a public palaver at Kumasi, announced that the Ashanti chiefs would
have to pay the British government 4000 oz. of gold yearly, and he
reproached the chiefs with not having brought to him the golden stool,
which the Kumasi had kept hidden since 1896.
Three days afterwards the Kumasi warriors attacked a
party of Hausa sent with the chief object of discovering the golden
stool. (In the previous January a secret attempt to seize the stool
had failed.) The Kumasi, who were longing to wipe out the dishonour of
having let Prempeh be deported without fighting, next threatened the
fort of Kumasi. Mr
Ramseyer and the other Basel missionaries, and Sir F. and Lady
Hodgson, took refuge in the fort, and reinforcements were urgently
asked for. On the 18th of April 100 Gold Coast constabulary arrived.
On the 29th the Kumasi
attacked in force, but were repulsed. The same day a party of 250
Lagos constabulary reached Kumasi. They had fought their way up, and
came in with little ammunition. On the 15th of May Major A. Morris
arrived from the British territory north of Ashanti, also with 250
men. The garrison now numbered 700. The 29 Europeans in the fort
included four women. Outside the fort were gathered 3000 native
refugees. Famine and disease soon began to tell their tale. Sir F.
Hodgson sent out a message on the 4th of June (it reached the
relieving force on the 12th of June), saying that they could only hold
out to the 11th of June. However, it was not till the 23rd of June
that the governor and all the Europeans save three, together with 600
Hausa of all ranks, sallied out of the fort. Avoiding the maul road,
held by the enemy in force, they attacked a weakly held stockade, and
succeeded in cutting their way through, with a loss of two British
officers mortally wounded, 3o Hausa killed, and double that number
wounded or missing. The governor’s party reached Cape Coast safely on
the 10th of July.
A force of 100 Hausa, with three white men (Captain
Bishop, Mr Ralph and Dr Hay), was left behind in
Kumasi fort with rations to last
three weeks. Meantime a relief expedition had been organized at Cape
Coast by Colonel James Willcocks. This officer reached Cape Coast from
Nigeria on the 26th of May. The difficulties before him were
appalling. Carriers could scarcely be obtained, there were no local
food supplies, the rainy season was at its height, all the roads were
deep mire, the bush was almost impenetrable, and the enemy were both
brave and cunning, fighting behind concealed stockades. It was not
until the 2nd of July that Colonel Willcocks was able to advance to
On the next day he heard of the escape of the governor
and of the straits of the garrison left at Kumasi. He determined to
relieve the fort in time, and on the 9th of July reached Bekwai, the
king of which place had remained loyal. Making his final dispositions,
the colonel spread a report that on the 13th he would attack Kokofu,
east of Bekwai, and this drew off several thousands of the enemy from
Kumasi. After feinting to attack Kokofu, Colonel Willcocks suddenly
marched west. There was smart fighting on the 14th, and at 4.30 P.M.
on the 15th, after a march since daybreak through roads " in
indescribably bad condition," the main rebel stockade was encountered.
It was carried at the point of the bayonet by the Yoruba troops, who
proved themselves fully equal to the Hausa. "The charge could not have
been beaten in elan by any soldiers." Kumasi was entered the same
evening, a bugler of the war-worn garrison of the fort sounding the "
general salute " as the relieving column came in view. Most of the
defenders were too weak to stand. Outside the fort nothing was to be
seen but burnt-down houses and putrid bodies. The relieving force that
marched into Kumasi consisted of 1000 fighting men (all West
Africans), with 60 white officers and non-commissioned officers, two
75-millimetre guns, four seven-pounder guns and six Maxims.
Kumasi relieved, there remained
the task of crushing the rebellion. Colonel Willcocks’s force was
increased by Yaos and a
few Sikhs from Central Africa to a total of 3368 natives, with 134
British officers and 35 British non-commissioned officers. In addition
there were Ashanti levies. On the 30th of September the
Kumasi were completely beaten at
Obassa. Thereafter many of the rebel chiefs surrendered, and the only
two remaining in the field were captured on the 28th of December.
Thus 1901 opened with peace restored. The total number of casualties
during the campaign (including those who died of disease) was 1007.
Nine British officers were killed in action, forty-three were wounded,
and six died of disease. The commander, Colonel Willcocks, was
promoted and created a K.C.M.G.