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sions were marched here and there without any defined object in view, and his magazines of provision and munitions of war were moved after a most deplorable fashion. The natives, from a feeling of pride, preferred to join their respective clans rather as soldiers than as carriers on such an occasion—a feeling which they put forward as a pretext for demanding the most exorbitant charges, which Sir Charles refused to pay; and his brigade-major was under the necessity of impressing women as well as men into that service, and to force them along with the baggage, the result of which was, that on finding a favourable opportunity, they threw their loads into the woods and disappeared. This was but a small part of the difficulties against which Sir Charles had to contend. Marching at the head of the European men of his regiment, the royal African corps, he found himself, in a few days, very much in advance of almost all his native auxiliaries, and especially of the Fantees, whose promises had been so eloquent a short time before. The paths were extremely bad, now impeded by precipices, which it was most fatiguing to climb ; now by swamps, through which it was dangerous to wade. On the 14th of January, however, he succeeded in reaching Assamacow, in the country of the Warsaws, where he waited, with the royal African corps and the militia, for the native force to come up. This town is pleasantly situated :-‘the houses have nearly the appearance of those in an English village of the better class: they are neatly built, in a superior style, and that in which Sir Charles was quartered was ascended by a flight of twenty steps: the rooms are floored, and the windows have green jealousies: there was also a bedstead with curtains in his sleeping-room ; the houses are constructed of swish, with thatched roofs.’ Assamacow appears from the map to be about forty miles distant from the sea-coast, and about thirty from the river Pra. The Ashantees were already collected in multitudinous force, about twenty miles from the town, where Sir Charles was informed that his allies, the Dinkeras and Warsaws, were in full retreat before them, and were in want of provisions. The main body of his army, if such it might be called, consisting of the native men of the royal African corps, a detachment of the second West India regiment, three companies of militia, and numerous parties of the allied forces, was still at a considerable distance, (in consequence of Sir Charles Mac Carthy's own bad arrangements,) under the command of Major Chisholm. Mr. Williams, the Colonial Secretary, was sent forward to stop the Warsaws and Dinkeras in their retreat, and he was followed by the author, with the regulars and militia, Sir Charles waiting behind to bring up the main body. By some means, not here explained, Sir Charles had got into his head two most fatally delusive notions; first, that the Ashantees were by no means so near as was reported, and, secondly, that when they came in sight, he would have only to order the band to play “God save the King,” and vo L. III. (1831.) No. 11. P
the majority of the enemy would come over to join the British standard. In addition to these mistakes, he committed the ammunition to a small guard, and directed it to be forwarded under the care of Mr. Brandon, the ordnance store-keeper.
‘The cries,’ says Major Ricketts, “ of the immense number of women and children, who had met together on the march, was most distressing, and there were some poor old men amongst them, who tottered along on crutches.’ The troops under his immediate orders arrived early on the 20th of January, almost in the presence of the enemy; but a tremendous storm of rain, which lasted five hours, wore away the time until night, when the Ashantees make it a point never to fight. The Warsaws and Dinkeras still evincing a strong retrogressive tendency, letters were dispatched to Sir Charles to apprize him of their disposition, when he, though still not believing the Ashantees to be so near, resolved to move forward, attended only by two hundred men, whom his friend, the king of Adjumacon, had sent to him as a body-guard. On the morning of the 21st, he joined Major Ricketts, having come the whole distance from Assamacow on foot, and while he was yet in conference with the chiefs of the Warsaws and Dinkeras, the alarm of the approach of the enemy was given, and every body repaired to his station, except the Adjumaconian body-guard, who having found a convenient position behind some bushes at a distance, refused to leave it, saying that they understood bush-fighting, and rather preferred that mode of warfare to any other. We must allow Major Ricketts to tell the disheartening story of the savage battle which followed, under circumstances so exceedingly disadvantageous to our troops.
‘About two o'clock the enemy, who were said to be considerably more than ten thousand men, instead of being divided, as it was reported, were collected together, armed with muskets, and having a large description of knives stuck in their girdles, they were heard advancing through the woods with horns blowing and drums beating, and when they came within half a mile of our party they halted, when Sir Charles ordered the band of the royal African corps, which had accompanied him, to play “God save the King,” and the bugles to sound, he having heard through some channel in which he placed confidence, that the greater part of the Ashantees only wanted an opportunity to come over to him. The Ashantees played in return, which was alternately repeated several times, and then a dead silence ensued, interrupted only by the fire of our men at the enemy, who had by this time lined the opposite bank of the river,” which was here about sixty feet wide; having marched up in different divisions of Indian file through the woods with their horns, sounding the names or calls of their different chiefs: a black man who had been at Coomassie was able to name every Ashantee chief with the army, by the sound of their respective horns.
* A small river which ran between the two armies, but to which the author has given no name.
“The action now commenced on both sides with determined vigour, and lasted till nearly dark. It was reported about four o'clock that our troops had expended all their ammunition, consisting of twenty rounds of ball cartridges, besides leaden slugs which were contained in small bags suspended by a sling round the men's necks, and loose powder contained in small kegs, carried also by the men themselves, application was made to Mr. Brandon, who arrived in the middle of the action, for a fresh supply of ammunition, he having received his excellency's orders to have forty rounds of ball cartridges packed in kegs for each man ready to be issued. This was done to lighten the men, who had to carry respectively their own provisions for many days, as well as to preserve the ammunition from being damaged by the swamps and rain; but Mr. Brandon said that it had not yet arrived, and that he had only a barrel of powder and one of ball with him, which were immediately issued. He had left Assamacow with about forty natives carrying ammunition and was in advance of them when the engagement commenced.
“The carriers, who were natives of that and the adjoining countries, and who had been obtained at Assamacow more by persuasion than by any other means, seeing the Warsaws, their countrymen, making the best of their way from the battle, followed their example, nearly the whole of the guard it is supposed shared the same fate as most of their brethren the militia and soldiers: a corporal of the militia and one or two others, composing part of the escort, arrived at the place of action shortly before its conclusion, and reported that the carriers had refused to advance any further with the ammunition and that most of them had run away. On this circumstance being reported to Sir Charles, he desired to see Mr. Brandon, with whom he was exceedingly angry, and if he had not suddenly disappeared either into the woods or to look after the ammunition, it is probable that if Sir Charles had had the means at the moment, he would have put his threat into execution of suspending him to a tree.
“The enemy perceiving that our fire had slackened, attempted to cross the river, which at this time had become fordable, and succeeded. They had often attempted it when the river was swoln by the rains that had fallen, on trees which had been previously felled across to answer as bridges, but they were repulsed with great slaughter. The enemy had dispatched a considerable force to encompass our flanks in order to prevent our retreat, and now rushed in all directions on our gallant little force, who still defended themselves with their bayonets, until they were completely overpowered by their myriads, who instantly beheaded nearly every one of those who unfortunately fell into their remorseless hands. The Warsaws it appeared had left the field early in the action. His excellency, who had himself received several wounds, thus perceiving every thing was lost on his side, retired to where Cudjoe Cheboo, the king of
Dinkera, surrounded by his people, was bravely fighting. + * *
‘Sir Charles, in joining the king of Dinkera, wished the men to be informed of his intention to retreat, but neither bugles nor any other instruments were to be had to give the requisite signal, every man of the African corps having joined his company in the action; and it was impossible, from the thick underwood where the men were now overpowered by the enemy and dispersed, to see many yards around, and a few wounded men only were got together. A small brass field piece, which had arrived during the engagement, and flung down in haste, for it was still lashed with ropes to the poles on which it had been brought on men's shoulders, was about this time unloosed and the muzzle raised, whilst Mr. De Graft, a man of colour, linguist at Cape Coast and lieutenant in the militia, went round and obtained some powder from the king of Dinkera, with which and some loose musketballs, that had been left in a keg, it was loaded and fired in the direction of the enemy, in hopes to impede, in some measure, their advance; but they immediately afterwards rushed forward, and killed and wounded two men of the 2nd royal West India regiment, viz., the brigade-major's and Sir Charles Mac Carthy's orderlies. “The brigade-major (Ricketts) who had been wounded, finding that his excellency had left the king of Dinkera, followed in the direction which he understood he had taken, and shortly after observed him in a track in advance. He recognized him by his feathers. Soon after some musketry was fired in front, and there was a general rush back of those who were with him, after which no more was seen of him. The brigade-major, followed by some of the wounded and Mr. De Graft, entered the thickest part of the wood, inclining towards the king of Dinkera, who still kept up a fire and retreating at the same time. A Warsaw man rushing by at this time, was fortunately seized by a militia serjeant who spoke the same language, and the man promised, if he was rewarded, that he would guide them through the woods. A silver whistle and chain were then given to him by Mr. De Graft, on which he led the way, one of the party holding him fast. He took them first alongside a stream of water, then out, and along the banks for a short distance; then in again and out on the other side, this he said was to conceal their track. The enemy at this time was close to them, scouring the woods, and they were obliged now and then to hide themselves. ‘It having at last become so dark that they could not see one another, the Warsaw man said that it was impossible to proceed until the moon arose; consequently they were obliged to halt for several hours. The rejoicing of the Ashantees on their success, and their attempt to sound some of the instruments of the band which they had taken, was distinctly heard, not being distant half a mile. About midnight the moon appeared, and the Warsaw man commenced cutting in that direction, the others following him ; and when it began to descend, he halted, and said he could not proceed, until the sun arose, when he renewed his labour and continued until three o'clock in the afternoon, at which time they got into a track leading to Assamacow; and after proceeding a considerable distance, a party of the enemy was observed near to them ; they therefore retraced their steps, till observing a small track to their right, which they took, the Warsaw man having decamped. This path led them into another, along which they had gone but a short way, when they met with about fifty Warsaws, who reported that there were Ashantees a little farther on, Upon being asked where they were going, they replied in search of their families, whom the enemy had taken from their villages. Captain Ricketts then requested that he and his companions in arms might be allowed to accompany them, as it appeared that they intended to proceed in the direction where the division of the army under Major Chisholm would most probably be found. This proposal having been consented to, under a promise of reward, and it being near dark, the whole filed into the woods, and got on a small island surrounded with a swamp, in the crossing of which Captain Ricketts unfortunately lost his shoes. About one o'clock there was an alarm of the enemy having discovered them, but it turned out to be only two stragglers of the Ashantees, who perceiving a light, were induced to approach, thinking they might be some of their own people. They were immediately seized, and they insisted for a long time that they were Dinkeras, but a few of that tribe happening to be with the Warsaws, they without hesitation pronounced them to be Ashantees; on which every knife was drawn, and after getting from these two unfortunate persons all the information they could give, they immediately cut their throats. They then sounded their horns, and proceeded by another direction to the river Pra. About six o'clock they fell in with a party of the enemy, and a kind of running fight ensued, and many of them were killed. The Warsaws recovered several of their wives, and many of their children were found in the woods, some of the young infants in a dying state, and others with their brains dashed out, the Ashantees having obliged the women to throw away their children in order to enable them to carry their plunder. At last the whole party arrived at a deserted village on the banks of the Pra, where they were obliged to halt for the night, there being only a small broken canoe, that could scarcely swim, with which to cross the river.
“Next morning at day light, after the women had passed over, Captain Ricketts followed, but on being landed on the opposite side, he was so much exhausted that he could not move. Not long after, two European soldiers of the African corps having made their appearance, Captain Ricketts asked them if they knew him 2 to which they answered in the negative; but on telling them who he was, they, after looking for some time with astonishment, recognized him, and took him up and carried him alternately on their backs to a small croom a few miles off, from whence they had come, and where they had left the remainder of the troops which had been sent in advance by Major Chisholm to prepare the natives to join him as he came along. These poor fellows did all in their power to make Captain Ricketts comfortable; and having acquainted him that Major Chisholm was on the march to join Sir Charles Mac Carthy, he expressed a wish to see him as soon as possible; the soldiers therefore constructed a kind of basket, in which they placed him, and having by force obtained a guide to shew the nearest way, took him up on their heads and proceeded ; but after going some distance, through jungles and trees, the branches of which were at times obliged to be cut to allow the basket on the men's heads to pass, the guide said he could not find the path; they therefore returned to the croom with him, when he dispatched some of the black soldiers in another direction to meet Major Chisholm, who not long after arrived on the other side of the river, and who hearing of the captain's state, sent him clothes and provisions, following himself soon after.”—pp. 55–67.
Had Major Chisholm come up in time with the forces under his command, the disasters of the day might either have been avoided or redeemed. But his orders for hastening to the scene of action did not reach him until after the battle was over ! although in daily correspondence with Sir Charles Mac Carthy from the 9th to the 16th of January, whose fatal delusion about the approach and