The History Chap Feb 16, 2023
The Anglo-Ashanti War 1873 and Garnet Wolseley’s Ashanti Ring.
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The Ashanti Empire in modern day Ghana, West Africa, were to prove one of the most tenacious enemies the British faced in 19th century Africa.
It would take, the ingenuity of one of 19th century Britain’s greatest generals to better them.
This is the story of General Sir Garnet Wolseley and the Third Anglo-Ashanti War of 1873-74.
In 1867, after an internal power struggle, 30-year old Kofi Karikari become king of the Ashanti.
He had no time for the British or the tribes they protected on the coast.
As far as he was concerned these were traditional vassal territories of the ancient Ashanti empire.
In 1873, he sent a 12,000 strong army across the border to prove who was really in charge.
Major General Garnet Wolseley was dispatched to secure British interests, protect the local tribes and bring the Ashanti to heel.
He brought with him a group of 35 hand-picked officers – his fabled Ashanti Ring.
Many would become generals, such as John McNeill, Henry Brackenbury, John Maurice, Redvers Buller, William Butler, Evelyn Wood and George Pomeroy Colley.
Wolseley planned his campaign meticulously to fit in to the 3 month dry season.
Royal Engineers cut a route through the jungle to the border 70 miles away. En-route they constructed 7 fortified bases, containing barracks,, storage sheds, hospitals, water purifying and even bakeries, butchers and post offices.
The engineers also constructed 237 bridges during this campaign.
There was enough quinine for every soldier to be take daily during the campaign.
Wolseley also did away with the British soldiers traditional red tunics, providing uniforms of light grey home spun material. Much cooler and practical for this environment.
Wolseley’s army consisting of British troops from the 42nd regiment (the Black Watch), the Welch Fusiliers, the Rifle brigade, as well as Royal Marines and sailors advanced in January 1874.
They were joined by the 1st and 2nd West Indian Regiments and two regiments of local African recruits.
On the 31st January, he defeated the Ashanti army at the Battle of of Amoaful and 4 days later entered their capital as Kumasi.
Seizing anything of value, the British then blew up the royal palace and set fire to the city.
The third Anglo-Ashanti war was over.
Wolseley’s victory in the Ashanti War had cost just 18 men killed in battle and a further 55 dead from disease.
He had managed a campaign through dense jungle and had got his army in and out during the 3 month dry season.
Wolseley returned to a heros welcome in Britain.
Sir Garnet Wolseley was feted in the press as “Our Only General”.
His meticulous organisation led to a popular slang phrase in Victorian Britain: “All Sir Garnet” which meant everything was okay or sorted. #theashantiwar1873 #generalgarnetwolseley #theashantiring
0:54 The Ashanti Empire
2:42 British in West Africa
4:11 Prelude to War
6:55 General Garnet Wolseley
10:30 “All Sir Garnet”
13:09 Battle of Amoaful
15:37 Capture of Kumasi
17:00 Wolseley – “Our Only General”
18:30 The History Chap