The Ashantee War

The Fall of Coomassie

’Twas in the year of 1874, and on New Year’s Day,
The British Army landed at Elmina without dismay,
And numbering in all, 1400 bayonets strong,
And all along the Cape Coast they fearlessly marched along,
Under the command of Sir Garnet Wolseley, a hero bold,
And an honour to his King and country, be it told.

And between them and Coomassie, lay a wilderness of jungle,
But they marched on boldly without making a stumble,
And under a tropical sun, upwards of an hundred miles,
While their bayonets shone bright as they marched on in files.

Coomassie had to be reached and King Coffee’s power destroyed,
And, before that was done the British were greatly annoyed,
Lieutenant Lord Gifford, with his men gained the Crest of the Adenisi Hills,
And when they gained the top, with joy their hearts fills.

Sir John McLeod was appointed General of the Black Brigade;
And a great slaughter of the enemy they made,
And took possession of an Ashantee village,
And fought like lions in a fearful rage.

While the British troops most firmly stood,
And advanced against a savage horde concealed in a wood,
Yet the men never flinched, but entered the wood fearlessly,
And all at once the silence was broken by a roar of musketry.

And now the fight began in real earnest,
And the Black Watch men resolved to do their best,
While the enemy were ambushed in the midst of the wood,
Yet the Highlanders their ground firmly stood.

And the roar of the musketry spread through the jungle,
Still the men crept on without making a stumble,
And many of the Black Watch fell wounded and dead,
And Major Macpherson was wounded, but he rallied his men without dread.

The battle raged for five hours, but the Highlanders were gaining ground,
Until the bagpipes struck up their wild clarion sound,
Then the dusky warriors fled in amazement profound,
Because their comrades were falling on every side around.

Sir Archibald Alison led on the Highland Brigade,
And great havoc amongst the enemy they made,
And village after village they captured and destroyed,
Until King Coffee lost heart and felt greatly annoyed.

Sir John McLeod took the command of his own regiment,
And with a swinging pace into the jaws of death they went,
Fearlessly firing by companies in rotation,
Add dashed into a double zone of Fire without hesitation.

And in that manner the Black Watch pressed onward,
And the enemy were powerless their progress to retard,
Because their glittering bayonets were brought into play,
And panic stricken the savage warriors fled in great dismay.

Then Sir Garnet Wolseley with his men entered Coomassie at night,
Supported by half the rifles and Highlanders- a most beautiful sight,
And King Coffee and his army had fled,
And thousands of his men on the field were left dead.

And King Coffee, he was crushed at last,
And the poor King felt very downcast,
And his sorrow was really profound,
When he heard that Coomassie was burned to the ground.

Then the British embarked for England without delay,
And with joy their hearts felt gay,
And by the end of March they reached England,
And the reception they received was very grand.

Capture of Coomassie

The following telegram, which we published in an early Second Edition yesterday, has been received at the War Office (by way of Gibraltar, dated Feb. 25) from Sir Garnet Wolseley:-


Reached this place yesterday after five days’ hard fighting.  Troops behaved admirably.

Officers killed.— Captain Buckle, R.E., Captain [O’Niel or Nicol, Hants Militia, Lieutenant*] Eyre, 19th Foot. All other casualties under 300.

The King has left the town, but is close by, and says he will pay me visit to-day to sign the treatyof Peace.

I hope to commence my march to the Coast to-morrow.  All wounded doing well. Health generally good. Despatches follow by special fast steamer.

G. H. PARKIN, Captain and Senior Officer.

Present brought to Gibraltar by the transport E. Martin, No. 14.

* Words in brackets not clear.

The following telegram was received at the Admiralty this morning:-

(From Commodore Hewett, V.C.)

The army under Sir Garnet Wolseley entered Coomassie yesterday after five days’ hard fighting. Casualties of the force about 300 killed and wounded. In the Naval Brigade seven officers wounded, two men killed and 36 Wounded.

Treaty expected to be signed to-day.

(Signed) G. H. PARKIN, Captain and Senior Officer, Cape Coast.

Sent by the E. Martin transport, to Gibraltar.

(By Eastern Telegraph, via Falmouth.)
(From our Special Correspondent)


Yesterday au attack was made on an Ashantee village.

Captain Nicol, of the Hampshire Militia, was killed.

The Ashantee messengers yesterday brought in final letter from the King. All negotiations are now at an end.

Quareman is the advanced post. Amanquatia yesterday was only a mile in front, but it is thought he is retreating.

The Army advances to-morrow in three columns.

Essamanquatia is said to be threatening a post in the rear.

(From our own Correspondent)


Contrary to expectation, Sir G. Wolseley has met with considerable opposition on the Ashantee side of the Adansi Hills. A severe battle was fought on the 30th. January, which lasted 12 hours, and the Ashautees displayed great courage and skill, but their loss was very great. Among their dead is the General (Amanquatia), and it is believed that King Koffee Calcalli is now in the field, commanding his troops personally. Our list of killed comprised two officers (Captain Buckle, R.E., and Captain Nicol, Adjutant Hampshire Militia) and eight officers and 105 men wounded. Our troops are now within 20 miles of Coomassie, and Sir Garnet Wolseley expects to enter that city in three or four days.

At the expiration of the war Sir Garnet Will be relieved by Governor Berkeley, who will proceed to the Gold Coast for that purpose early in March. During Governor Berkeley’s absence from Sierra Leone Colonel Maxwell will take up his abode in Freetown, where he will temporarily administer the Government.

The Times, 27th February 1874

Wikipedia Article

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