Sunday 24 July 2022

The New-York Colonization Journal, July 1851

Understone or Abeokuta

The following acAbeokutacruelty and blood is the more interesting, from the fact that the Christian churches and schools in and around Abeokuta (Understone) are the results of efforts made by poor returned? slaves. In former years, these same Dahomans had sold captives at Whydah, taken from Abeokuta, who, from time to time, had been liberated by recapture of slave-ships and set free in Sierra Leone.

After sufficient instruction in the mission and other schools, many of these, at least three hundred had returned ; carrying with them missionaries and teachers, who found themselves welcomed and almost idolized, and a whole nation moved by gratitude to hear and believe their word.

It is one of these missionaries who writes the following letter. It was the result of their teaching that nerved the arms of the defenders of their liberty, and that rendered them so humane to their murderous captives when conquerors. The principal object of the Dahoman King was; to destroy the missions. His threat to do this was published some two months ago, and all the friends of that mission were trembling for the result.

Let us rejoice that the arm of the destroyer was paralyzed, and that the unoffending were victorious in their self-defence. — Ed. Col. Jour. [Rev J.B. Pinney]

Defeat of the Amazons

The subjoined letter gives an account of the defeat at of the Dahoman army, before the walls of Abbeokuta, a town about sixty miles inland from Lagos, in the Bight of Benin. The invasion was wholly unprovoked, and their discomfiture is likely to have an important bearing on the decline of the slave-trade :  

Abbeokuta, Tuesday, March 4, 1851.

It is with the greatest thankfulness I desire to communicate the joyful tidings of the defeat of the Dahoman King before the walls of Abeokuta, yesterday, and that they have fled, according to our latest accounts, some sixteen miles, and that the Abeokuta people are pursuing them.

The motions of the Dahomans have been watched most thoroughly, by the people of the smaller towns to the westward of this, and information sent to the Chiefs here. On Saturday morning, such intelligence was conveyed as convinced the Chiefs of the necessity of immediately arranging their affairs for self defence. 

On Sunday, the War-Chiefs formed their camps in three companies on the walls of the town. It became evident, to me, on Sunday evening, from the preparations which I saw going on, when returning from Mr. Smith's church, where I had been to assist him, and from their talk which I heard when passing, that a desperate encounter was before their minds and that they were preparing for it with a spirit befitting the occasion.

Yesterday (Monday) I went out after breakfast, to view the camps from one of the heights. I did not direct my glass to search for Dahomans, not knowing the road they might take, not thinking of their being at hand. On returning home, I heard that they had been seen, and that the advanced party of Egbas (the Abeokuta people) had exchanged shots with them. Mr. and Mrs. Smith came up to see us for a little change, having been so long ill ; and Mr. Dennis, who came on a visit to Badagry, about a week since, also unwell, was also with us.

About 12 o'clock we heard a rapid discharge of fire-arms. I was in the act of showing  my interpreter how to form a bullet mould out of clay in his house when we heard it. With great impetuosity of manner he called for his son to bring him his gun, powder and shot, that he might hasten to the fight ; and with extreme difficulty, I restrained him ; he frequently exclaiming, ' I cannot bear it ; I must hasten to the battle.' He was restrained however.

My cook, without saying anything, or our knowing of it, took his gun and ran off and fought until the Dahomans were retreating, and shot in the fight one of the female warriors.  Another confidential servant ran off in the same manner. Having no arms, he purposed stoning the enemy if they gave him an opportunity. Goodwill, who is Mr. Smith's interpreter and was left by  Mr. Smith to look after the premises, ran also to the battle; all seemed to be beside themselves.

•Guรฉzo (Ghรฉzo/Gezo), King of Dahomey reigned 1818-1858 - from Dahomey and the Dahomans; being the journals of two missions to the King of Dahomey, and residence at his capital, in the year 1849 and 1850 by Forbes, Frederick E.

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