Friday January 22, 2021marked exactly one hundred and ninety seven (197)years when the Ashantis defeated the British in the Battle of Nsamankow as part of the first Anglo-Ashanti War in a series of Wars between the two Empires. The British Governor, Charles McCarthy was killed.
Anokwa! Akɔm ati kɔ. Nkanee anka.....
It all started when an exchange of words arose between an Asante trader and a policeman, the abusive words altered by the policeman was reported to the Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame Asibey Bonsu. Immediately messengers were sent to capture the policeman and behead him.
This resulted in an open confrontation between the Coastal States and the Asante Nation. It developed into an actual war between the Asante Nation on one side against the British and the Coastal States on other side. The war, known as the Battle of Nsamankow was won by the Ashantis.
On the night of the 20th, still without having joined forces with the other three groups, MacCarthy's force camped by a tributary of the Pra River. The next day, at around 2pm, they encountered a large enemy force of around ten thousand men; “believing” that the Ashanti army contained several disaffected groups whose chiefs were willing to defect, MacCarthy instructed the band to play God Save the King loudly. The Ashanti responded by approaching closer, beating war drums, and his beliefs were swiftly dispelled.
Fighting started shortly thereafter; the two sides were separated by a 60 feet (18 m)-wide stream, which the Ashanti attempted to cross by felling trees for bridges. The British at first shot the Ashantis who tried to cross the exposed tree trunks.
The British forces bearers bringing the supplies up in the rear, which included most of the gunpowder and ammunition, mostly fled after hearing the firing in the distance. and encountering deserters straggling back.
As the British ran out of ammunition, the Ashanti advanced across the river. Most of the Fante militia fled, and the British who stood and fought were overwhelmed in hand-to-hand combat. MacCarthy, along with Ensign and his secretary, attempted to fall back; he was wounded by gunfire. The war was fierce.
The Ashantis killed and beheaded MacCarthy. MacCarthy's gold-rimmed skull was later later taken to Kumasi as trophy. Ensign Wetherell was killed whilst trying to defend MacCarthy's body and Williams taken prisoner. On his return, he related that he had only survived through being recognised by an Ashanti chief for whom he had done a small favour, and was spared; he was held prisoner for several months, locked in a dwelling which he shared with the severed heads of MacCarthy and Wetherell, kept as trophies of war.
The battle was fought on the banks of River Pra.
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