The Fante is a long time enemy of the Ashanti and has had several run-ins and full blown wars with them throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. These battles were over important territory which in turn gave them more leverage to negotiate with colonial forces if they decided to do so. The thing here is that it was essential for the Fante and other forces to make deals with Britain and the Dutch because of the might of the Ashanti.
When the Ashanti managed to get breathing room from native forces, their only target was the colonial forces establishing themselves in Ghana. This would prompt a series of wars and significant battles known collectively as the Anglo-Ashanti Wars.
ROAD TO WAR
Running from 1823 to 1831, this was the most lengthy of the five conflicts. The British backed the Fante and long provided something resembling protection against enemy threats. Depending on the period, Britain something didn’t have the numbers in their forces to deal with the Ashanti. Instead they would strike up deals—such as in the Ashanti-Fante War.
Kings ruled the Ashanti domain from the Golden Stool—which would become important in the final war of the Anglo-Ashanti War. They felt that they were the people chosen by and protected by Nyame, the guardian god and shouldn’t be brought under British rule. The war would be sparked after the Ashanti kidnapped a Royal African Corps sergeant. The belief by all forces in Ghana was that falling into Ashanti hands meant death—which is what happened.
This resulted in a small force of Royal African Colonial Corps soldiers heading after the Ashanti group and being lured into a trap. They lost 10 men and had to retreat with 39 wounded soldiers. When the Ashanti decided to try and strike up a deal with the British, the colonial governor turned them down.
BATTLE OF NSAMANKOW
In January 1824, Governor Sir Charles MacCarthy would lead a two pronged force of 500 and 2,500 after the Ashanti. MacCarthy’s force was 80 troops, 170 militia, and 240 Fante troops. They would run into 10,000 soldiers led by Amankwatia. What followed was a slaughter in the Battle of Nsamankow. In the end, only 20 would escape with MacCarthy being killed as he attempted to retreat.
By the account of a secretary named Mr. Williams—who was captured—MacCarthy and his ensigned were killed and their heads kept in the hut where he was held.
In part two, we will continue this first conflict in the Anglo-Ashanti Wars and also look at the second war.