Monday 31 July 2023


Battle of Nsamankow - the battle where the head of the British Governor was severed by the Asantes and the skull used as drinking cup.

Of the most powerful tribes and cultures, the Asante Empire becomes arguably the most powerful military power in all of Africa’s history.

During the 18th century, the Asante became the ascendant nation in the region of the modern day Ghana and extending west into present day Ivory Coast. Access to the coast and control of coastal trade was a source of continued conflict with the Fanti city states along the coast. Eventually the Ashantes became so powerful that they raided coastal towns and forts. At this point, the British needed to either protect the Fanti tribes with whom they traded from being massacred and enslaved by the Ashante, or leave them to their fate.

In 1824, the British, led by Charles McCarthy, were squaring up for a dreadful conflict with the Ashante. McCarthy, with some arrogance or bad military intelligence, led his army of barely 600 men against perhaps 10,000 Ashanti warriors and their king, Osei Tutu Kwadwo.

So confident was the king of the Ashantes that he prophesized that soon he would defeat the British and that McCarthy's jawbones would be used as drumsticks and his skull as a loving cup. As the Ashante advanced, Sir Charles ordered his band to strike up with God Save the Queen.

The closer the Ashante got, the quicker McCarthy's Fantis deserted him. When the British guns were silent the Ashante held back thinking the silence was a British ploy. But then it dawned. The British had run out of musket balls and powder. As one of the few survivors reported "our gallant little force still defended themselves with their bayonets until they were completely over-powered by the myriads who instantly beheaded nearly every one of those who unfortunately fell into their remorseless hands". McCarthy was killed on January 21, 1824 at what came to be known as the Battle of Nsamankow, near present day Bonsaso. The Ashante’s famously used the governor's skull and those of others as drinking cups, which did not endear them to the British.

It was not until 1831 that a treaty was signed to define the boundaries of the Ashante kingdom and the authority of the British territorial claim in the Gold Coast.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...