The Ashanti Empire’s wars with other kingdoms during the early 19th century paved the road to the Anglo-Ashanti Wars. The kingdoms the Ashanti often battled were allied with European colonial superpowers of the period. It should be noted that these alliances existed with fingers crossed behind the backs of Europe.
ASHANTI-BRITISH ORAL TREATY
Ashanti power was further extended when the Ashanti and British came to an agreement of sorts. The terms stated that the British recognized the Ashanti, known enemies of the Fante were the rulers of Fante but only in territory where there were known British forts.
Even if the agreement was on parchment it wouldn’t have mattered since it’s a flimsy agreement at best. The British played both sides the fence to protect itself and its interests in the region. By negotiating with the Ashanti, it was Britain’s hope that the Empire wouldn’t direct it’s over 20,000 strong force on it. In the same breath, the Fante knew nothing of the agreement and remained dependent on the British for protection or whatever it was that the Crown’s merchants were offering.
THE GA-FANTE WAR
Several years later in 1811, the Ashanti teamed up their allies the Ga, based in Accra. Their target the growing alliance of the Fante, Akim, and Akuapem. Early in the conflict, the Ashanti and Ga forces were highly effective in more traditional battles in familiar territory. It was later in the war where the Ashanti juggernaut was knocked off its tracks.
Marching deeper into Akuapem territory, the Ashanti were surrounded by hills and terrain they never fought in. One of the basics of war strategy is to always have the high ground and use the surroundings. On the other side of that same coin, a force never wants to be at a disadvantage in terrain.
The hills of the Akuapem’s territory were Ashanti’s undoing as their enemies attacked them from prime positions. As a result, the Ashanti were forced to retreat and the forces of the Fante, Akim, and Akuapem won the conflict. This was enough for the Fante but not the Akim and Akuapem. With a win over the Ashanti in the Ga-Fante War, the alliance was feeling powerful and turned their weapons on colonial powers in Ghana. As a result, the alliance took two forts in Apam and Tantamkweri belonging to the Dutch and British.