CHAPTER XII
ASHANTI FROM 1869 TO 1902

I PROPOSE to tell in one chapter of moderate length the events of thirty-odd of the most eventful years of Ashanti history: years which begin with Ashanti at the height of its military power and which end with the loss of Ashanti independence and its reduction to the position of a British colony. This period includes two major wars, the wars of 1874 and of 1900, called by the Ashanti themselves the Sagrenti and the Yaa Asantewa wars after the two great leaders, one a British general and the other an Ashanti queen. These two wars between them occupy over a fifth of Claridge's book, and the events of this chapter take nearly the whole of his second volume. This very fullness of detail with which Claridge relates the story of the campaigning and the diplomacy makes it unnecessary for me to follow his example, particularly as in this period the fate of the Gold Coast and of Ashanti itself was determined not by accidents of detail but by the interplay of powerful political forces.1

Let us take up the story at the capture of the German missionaries in June 1869. Adu Bofo's military position was, of course, in no way improved by their capture; and Dompre's incessant activity was rapidly wearing out the Ashanti army. His small force was as elusive as a Boer commando. Ashanti convoys of provisions and ammunition were cut off, and the occasional victories Adu Bofo gained over detachments of Dompre's forces seemed to bring him no nearer an end of the campaign. In October 1869 he at last induced Dompre to stand and fight a pitched battle. The Krepi men took up a position on the steep rocky Gemi hill, near the town of Amedzofe, and rolled rocks down on to the clambering Ashanti and Akwamu to their complete discomfiture. The news of this defeat caused the Akim, Akwapim, Krobo and others to come to the help of the Krepi, and the Asantehene actually sent orders to Adu Bofo to abandon the campaign. Adu Bofo himself was so dejected that he gave the allies hostages for

____________________
1
The details of the fighting may be read in Claridge, II, chaps. I-VIII and XXII-VI; dispatches are printed in Crooks, chaps. XX-III.

-265-

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