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intentions of the Ashantees, seems to have altogether deprived him of common prudence, though not of his characteristic bravery. Chisholm, very properly under the circumstances, resolved on retreating to Cape Coast, the author, now Captain Ricketts, being carried in a basket on the heads of some of the native soldiers, and having arrived safely at their destination, every exertion was made to assemble a force sufficient to oppose the advance of the enemy. The native auxiliaries under Chisholm all fled, as soon as they heard of the result of the action. Still there was a numerous party of our forces under Captain Laing, consisting chiefly of Fantees, who, by Sir Charles Mac Carthy's want of management, were kept also far from the scene of slaughter, and who marched with him steadily enough to Cape Coast, after he became acquainted with what had occurred. But when they, too, were informed of it, they very speedily found out that their own country was already threatened by the enemy, and as it was their duty not to leave their wives and children unprotected, they decamped as speedily as possible. Nevertheless an imposing force was collected for the defence of Cape Coast, and the Ashantees, not deeming it prudent to proceed farther with the war, sent messengers to Elmina, for the purpose of proposing, through the Dutch governor of that fort, terms of peace, which were indignantly rejected. We must here wind up the unfortunate history of Sir Charles Mac Carthy, of whom the author had seen nothing after he had traced him by his feathers for a short time retreating from the field of battle. It appears that Sir Charles, after proceeding a short distance, accompanied by two other British officers, along the track to Assamacow, was suddenly attacked by a party of the enemy, who fired and broke one of his arms. He immediately after received another wound in the chest, and fell, when the barbarians proceeded to tear off his clothes and to cut off his head, which, by some peculiar process, they afterwards kept in a state of perfect preservation. His heart is said to have been eaten by the principal chiefs of the Ashantee army, that they might, as they supposed, imbibe his bravery; and his flesh to have been dried, and, with his bones, divided among every man of consequence in the army, who constantly carried his respective proportion about with him, as a charm to inspire him with courage. Several small skirmishes followed the battle of the 21st of January, but it is unnecessary for us to enter into their details. The reader will perhaps be gratified to learn that the king of Adjumacon compensated by his personal prowess for the disaffection and cowardice of the body-guard, which he had sent to Sir Charles. He remained our faithful ally to the last, and died of the small pox at Cape Coast. The only action of any material consequence which afterwards took place, was that fought on a plain about twenty-four miles north-east of British Accra, under Sir Neil Campbell, in September, 1826, when the Ashantees were completly routed. At this period they had no longer a hastily collected expedition to encounter, but a regularly disciplined army, accompanied, indeed, by a number of tribes as cruel as the Ashantees themselves, and the slaughter of the unfortunate barbarians was tremendous.
“Several of the natives,’ says the author, ‘came insulting and abusing the centre as cowards; which being represented to the commanding officer, he directed them to advance about four hundred yards, when a heavy and effective fire took place. They went steadily forward amid the work of death, the enemy slowly and sulkily giving way. No prisoners were taken by the natives, but as they fell they were put to death; happy were they whose sufferings were short; in vain the gentlemen implored them to hold their hand, or at least to kill them outright; some were ripped up and cut across the belly, when plunging their hands in, they took out the heart, pouring the blood on the ground as a libation to the good fortune of the cause: others, when they saw their own friends weltering in their blood, would give them a blow on the breast or head, to put an end to their misery. In many instances they dragged each other from the opposite ranks and wrestled and cut one another in pieces; and fortunate was he whose knife first found out the vital part in his foe during the deadly grapple, though perhaps in his turn to be laid low by the same means. So hard were the enemy pressed at this moment, that a captain of consequence blew himself up, nearly involving some of the Europeans in destruction.’—pp. 118, 119.
On this occasion a few rockets which were thrown among the Ashantees occasioned the most dreadful confusion. ‘The hissing sound when they were thrown, the train of fire, the explosion, and frightful wounds they inflicted, caused them to suppose they were thunder and lightning, called snowman in Fantee, by which name they are now known among the natives.” . There is a melancholy grandeur in the closing scenes of this decisive engagement.
“On the right, the battle was not for a moment doubtful; the king of Akimboo drove all before him, and penetrating to the king of Ashantee's camp, took them in flank; his path was marked by the column of smoke that rose in front, the short grass being dry, from our forces having bivouacked at the roots of the trees for two nights, together with extreme heat, caused it to take fire; the explosions of some Ashantee captains, who at intervals blew themselves up in despair, which was known by the smoke that arose over the trees; the shouts and groans of the combatants, with the burning grass, and the battle raging all around, formed no bad idea of the infernal regions. Fancy may indeed imagine, but it cannot describe, such a scene of havoc and destruction, more resembling the wild fiction of an oriental tale, than one of absolute reality. The Danish natives, who had fled at nearly the first onset, now perceiving the enemy to be repulsed by the rockets and grape shot, advanced, and taking possession of the plunder, which was immense, deliberately walked off the field; they sent to request more ammunition, saying they had only received twenty rounds each from their own government; and when upbraided with their bad conduct, they said it was against their fetish to fire on a Monday. About one o'clock the heads of the Ashantee chiefs began to be brought in. Several of the blood royal and principal captains were known by the residents; when the deaths of any of them were reported to the king, he offered up human sacrifices to their manes in the heat of the battle. Among the sad trophies of the day, was supposed to be the head of Sir Charles Mac Carthy,” which was sent to England by Lieutenant-Colonel Purdon; it was taken by the Aquapim chief. The king carried it along with him as a powerful charm, and on the morning of the battle, he poured rum upon it, and invoked it to cause all the heads of the whites on the field to lie beside it. The skull was enveloped in paper covered with Arabic characters, and a silk handkerchief, over all was a tiger skin, the emblem of royalty. ‘The whole of the Ashantee camp was taken, together with their baggage and gold; the amount of the latter was said to be very considerable, but the whites never could ascertain what the natives obtained. Towards the end of the day, a great many slaves or prisoners were taken by the natives, who subsequently sold them to slave vessels to leeward of Accra, being satiated with the multitudes they had killed, in the early part of the fight, and until it was dark, parties were coming in with plunder from every quarter. The troops lay on their arms all night, as it was not known but that the king, with his surviving friends, might make an attack upon us in despair, having been seen in front, wandering over the scene of his blighted ambition. Through the night, at intervals, some of our native allied chiefs struck their drums to some recitations, which were repeated along the line, and as they died away, had a most pleasing effect, but were generally succeeded by deep wailings and lamentations from the glades, in front of our position, apparently from some unhappy Ashantee women looking for their friends among the fallen.”—pp. 120–123. The pride of the Ashantees was now so completely humbled, that it was thought a proper period for bringing about a peace, which, after various negociations, was at length concluded, the king of Ashantee finding, as he said, no use in fighting against white men, expressing sorrow for what he had done, hoping the English would pardon him, and would take him and his people in future under their protection. He was moreover bound over to keep the peace in the sum of 6,000 ounces of gold, and two principal persons were sent to Cape Coast as hostages for his good behaviour. In describing these transactions, Major Ricketts has frequently occasion to mention his own services; and although it must be admitted that he leaves out nothing which could tend to magnify those services, he nevertheless really accomplishes his object with a great deal of modesty. We wish that he had been a little more particular in his descriptions of local scenery and of the manners of the people: but it is evident that his mind had been too much taken up with military affairs, to allow him to pay any great attention to the minute finishing of his picture, by the introduction of objects of still-life. Among the ornaments highly prized by the natives of the Gold Coast, the author mentions Aggery beads, which are as valuable as gold in their estimation. These beads are supposed to have
* This head was, however, afterwards stated to be that of Osai Tootoo Quamina, the late king of the Ashantees.
been introduced into the country in former ages for the purchase of slaves, and are generally found under ground, from which he presumes they must have been used in the decoration of persons of distinction in those times. They are still prized as the brightest jewels of the country, and being very rare, some traders to the coast endeavour to get similar ones manufactured. But though the imitation is good, the natives are such connoisseurs that they immediately detect the difference. The author appends to his narrative a brief view of the present state of the colony of Sierra Leone, upon which it may not be uninteresting to many of our readers to make a few remarks, as although it is a settlement of which we frequently hear, very little is in fact generally known. Nine persons out of ten, who declaim loudly about the slave trade, if they were asked where Sierra Leone was situated, would most probably answer that it was an island somewhere near Africa. It is, in truth, a part of that continent, a mountainous peninsula, which has received from the Portuguese its name of Sierra Leone, or the Lion mountain, from the roaring of the thunder through its ridges of rocks on the approach, and at the termination, of the rainy season. It was transferred to Government by the African Company in 1808, and, so far as European life is concerned, has turned out one of the most fatal presents ever given by a subject to his sovereign. The voyager who approaches it from the sea, wonders that it should be so unfriendly to health. It is picturesque in a very high degree, and the verdure of its woods is delightful. He anchors in front of a well-built pretty town, called Freetown, the houses gradually descending a gentle declivity, which produces a good effect from the sea. Hospitals and barracks, in the English style, assure him of protection, and care and cleanliness; and if he should arrive in the dry, or hermitan season, as it is called, his senses are charmed with a fragrance which is diffused throughout the atmosphere, much the same as that of new-mown hay, and he will be astonished at the reports which he had heard of the pestilential character of the settlement. But if he wait a little time, he will soon begin to think the general opinion not quite without foundation. The hermitan, which is a very dry easterly wind, that sets in about December, and continues at intervals for several days, withers vegetation of every kind, except that of trees: it causes even the wood work in the houses to shrink so much, that the pannellings separate at the seams more than an inch asunder, it breaks the glass, and warps all the furniture. But when the rains approach, the furniture resumes its shape, the open seams close up, the parched earth, which, in addition to the effects of the hermitan, had been for many months without any kind of irrigation, is suddenly covered with verdure, and the whole face of nature is changed in the compass of twenty-four hours. The rains at first producing such pleasing effects, refresh the frame and delight the eye; but after a little time, the action of an intensely hot sun on the luxuriant vegetation of the earth, saturated with moisture, produces a disagreeable, sickening smell, the sure fore-runner of disease and death. Fevers. follow, which few newly-arrived Europeans survive; and even if they should get over the first year, “they are certain,’ says the author, ‘not to escape much longer, and when, at length, they take the fever, it generally proves fatal to them.” No length of residence can afford security to an European at this horrid place : he may wear through repeated attacks for five, or seven, or ten years, but the pestilence surely marks him for her own, if he remain within her influence. We are glad to learn that there are no longer any European troops at Sierra Leone, which is now wholly garrisoned by native soldiers. Its population is estimated at twenty-six thousand, consisting of European merchants, Maroons, Nova Scotians, blacks, (called settlers,) discharged soldiers from the West-India regiments, exiles from Barbadoes, and liberated Africans, who have obtained allotments of land. A sort of Wesleyan system of faith was propagated here some years ago by missionaries, but the climate has deterred them from repeating their visits to this vineyard, and the Mahometan religion is becoming dominant. There seems to be no effectual provision made by Government either for the religious or general instruction of the settlers. They are committed entirely to their own resources. ‘The congregations,’ says the author, ‘consist principally of liberated Africans, and discharged soldiers: very few of these can even read, and many of the former hardly understand English; and perhaps even the preacher, who may be a discharged soldier, or a liberated African, scarcely knows his letters: yet they join heartily in singing psalms, which constitutes the principal part of their service. Their chapels are opened at day-light for about an hour, and in the evening from six till eight o'clock: the chanting may be heard at a considerable distance, and their discordant voices are not a little annoying to the Europeans, who happen to reside in the immediate neighbourhood.’ Indeed, all the plans that have hitherto been adopted by Government, or by benevolent or religious associations for the improvement of the liberated Africans sent to Sierra Leone, have been carried on with so little of systematic care, chiefly, perhaps, owing to the death of many of the persons to whose management they have been entrusted, that little can be expected to arise from them, until they are taken up by the colonists themselves, to whom the settlement must finally be given up. It is sufficiently clear, that all our efforts are imperceptibly tending towards the creation of another St. Domingo at Sierra Leone. Nor do we see any reasonable objection to such a result: on the contrary, it is precisely the thing for which all good men ought to be desirous, provided that as long as the settlement may be dependent upon, or in any way connected with, England, we shall, by example as well as by precept, teach its inhabitants the