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Know how the 80 years battle between British and Ashanti empire started and ended

The British(anglo) -Ashanti Wars (1820 -1900)were five conflicts that occurred between the Ashanti Empire and the British Empire and which ultimately resulted in the Ashanti Empire being incorporated into the British Gold Coast Colony (now the nation of Ghana).

1. The Battle of Nsamankow

In 1820s, the British decided to support the Fante against Ashanti raids from inland. Economic and social friction played their part in the causes for the outbreak of violence.

The immediate cause of the war happened when a group of Ashanti kidnapped and murdered an African serviceman of the Royal African Corps. A small British group was led into a trap which resulted in killing 10 people, 39 wounded and a British retreat.

The Ashanti tried to negotiate but the British governor, Sir Charles MacCarthy, rejected Ashanti claims to Fanti areas of the coast and resisted overtures by the Ashanti to negotiate.

MacCarthy led an invading force from the Cape Coast in two columns. The governor was in the first group of 500, which lost contact with the second column when they encountered the Ashanti army of around 10,000 on 22 January 1824, in the battle of Nsamankow.

The British run out of ammunition, suffered losses and were overrun. Almost all the British force were killed immediately whiles 20 managed to escape.

MacCarthy, along with the ensign and his secretary, attempted to fall back; he was wounded by gunfire, however, and killed by a second shot shortly thereafter.

2. The Battle of Akatamanso (Greater Accra)

Major Alexander Gordon Laing returned to Britain with news of their fate. The Ashanti swept down to the coast, but disease forced them back.

The new governor of the Gold Coast, John Hope Smith, started to gather a new army, mainly comprising natives, including Denkyiras, many of the traditional enemies of the Ashanti. In August 1826, the governor heard that the Ashanti were planning on attacking Accra. A defensive position was prepared on the open plain about 15 kilometres (10 mi) north of Accra and the 11,000 men waited.

The Ashanti army appeared and attacked the centre of the British line where the best troops were held, which included some Royal Marines, the militia and a battery of Congreve rockets. The battle dissolved into hand-to-hand fighting but the Ashanti force were not doing well on their flanks whilst they looked like winning in the centre. Then the rockets were fired. 

The novelty of the weapons, the explosions, rocket trails, and grievous wounds caused by flying metal shards caused the Ashanti to fall back. Soon they fled leaving thousands of casualties on the field.

In 1831, the Pra River was accepted as the border in a treaty.

General Garnet Wolseley

3. Sagranti war

The Third Anglo-Ashanti War occurred from 1873 to 1874. British General Garnet Wolseley led 2,500 British troops and several thousand Indian and African troops against the Ashanti Empire. For the first time the British decided to defeat and destroy the Ashanti Empire.

 Helped by better trained soldiers, the introduction of quinine medicine (which helped protect against disease), and the new maxim gun (machine gun) which gave the British forces a significant technological advantage over the Ashanti Army, the British defeated the Ashanti in the Battle of Amoaful on January 31, 1873. The Ashanti capital of Kumasi was briefly occupied by the British and then burned. The war ended in July 1874 when the Ashanti signed the Treaty of Fomena.

4. The war of the golden stool (Yaa Asantewa war)

The fourth Anglo-Ashanti War occurred between 1894 and 1896. A decade after the Partition of Africa, the British wanted to ensure that neither French and German forces would conquer the Ashanti. They decided to capture and annex the entire Empire. The war started on the pretext of failure to pay the fines of 50,000 ounces of gold levied on the Asantahene, the Ashanti emperor, by the Treaty of Fomena. Colonel Sir Francis Scott left Cape Coast along with the British and Indian Troops in December 1895 and arrived in Kumasi in January 1896. Major Robert Baden-Powell led an army of African allies who had opposed Ashanti rule. Asantehene Agyeman Prempeh was arrested and deposed. Prempeh was forced to sign a treaty of protection and with other Ashanti leaders, was sent to exile in the Seychelles Islands when the war ended in 1896.

Yaa Asantewa in war dress

The final war, a rebellion called the War of the Golden Stool, took place from March through September 1900. That conflict began when British representative, Sir Frederick Mitchell Hodgson, sat on the Golden Stool. The Stool which was understood by the Ashanti to be the symbol of national unity, was not a throne. When Hodgson’s act became known, Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother of the Asantahene, led the rebellion which resulted in the death of 1,000 British and Allied soldiers and 2,000 Ashanti. Both totals were higher than the deaths from all previous wars combined. The British eventually subdued the rebellion and sent Asantewaa into exile in the Seychelles. From that point the British controlled the entire Gold Coast until Ghana became independent in 1957.

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African Ashanti British Charles MacCarthy Fanti


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