War Office, March 7, 1874.
LIEUTENANT the Hon. H. J. L. Wood, 10th Hussars, A.D.C., arrived this morning
with Despatches from Major-General Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley, K.C.M.G., C.B.,
Commanding the Troops on the Gold Coast, addressed to the Secretary of State for War,
of which the following are copies:—
5th February, 1874.
ACCORDING to the intention expressed in my despatch which I had the honour of addressing to you on the 1st instant, I on that day attacked Becquah, about a mile to the west of Amoaful. The operation was successfully carried out under the command of Brigadier General Sir Archibald Alison, Bart., C.B.- The forces engaged were as per margin, N and the casualties are shown in the enclosed statement.
On the day following I moved forward to Agemmum, the enemy disputing every mile of ground. There I established a fortified post, where I left all my tents and baggage.
On the 3rd instant I moved forward again, the enemy in great force opposing our advance, and hanging round our flanks. Whilst on the march, I received a letter from the King, begging me to halt, and saying he would consent to my terms. I replied that he had so deceived me before that I could not trust him, but to prove to him how anxious I was for peace, I would halt for the night on the Ordah River, and would not advance beyond it with all my force until the following morning, if he would send to me at once his mother and brother as hostages.
During the night I had a bridge constructed over the river, and gave the enemy nearly two hours of daylight the following morning (4th) before I crossed the river.
The advanced guard, under the command of Colonel M 'Leod, 42nd Highlanders, was brought to a stand-still shortly after the advance began ; and a general action soon developed itself, lasting for more than six hours. The enemy did not, however, fight with the same courage as at Amoaful, for although their resistance was most determined, their fire was wild, and they did not generally; attack us at such close quarters as in the former action.
The village of Ordahsu having been carried by the Rifle Brigade at nine o'clock, I massed all my force there, having previously passed all the reserve ammunition, field hospitals, and supplies, through the troops, who held the road between the river and the village, a distance of about a mile. The enemy then attacked the village with large-numbers from all sides, and for some hours we could make no progress, but steadily held our ground.
The 42nd Highlanders being then sent, to the front, advanced with pipes playing, and carried the enemy's position to the north of. the village in the most gallant style, Captain Rail's Artillery doing most effective service in covering, the attack, which was led by Colonel M 'Leod.
After some further fighting on the front line, a panic seems to have seized the enemy, who fled, along the road to Coomassie in complete rout. Although the columns they had detailed to assault our flanks and rear continued for some time afterwards to make partial attacks upon the Village, we followed close upon the enemy's heels into Coomassie. The town was still occupied by large numbers of armed men, who did not attempt to resist. The King had fled no one knew whither. Our troops had undergone a most fatiguing day's works, no water fit for drinking having been obtained during the action or the subsequent advance, and the previous night's rest having been broken by a tornado, which drenched our bivouac. It was nearly six o'clock when the troops formed up in the main street of Coomassie and gave three cheers for the Queen.
Since my arrival here last, night, I. have sent several messengers to the King, and used every possible effort to induce him to come in and make peace. Should he refuse my offers, I shall destroy his palace and his capital, and march without a day's delay to the Coast.
I avail myself of this halt in Coomassie, the goal of our military enterprise, to bring before you the names of those Officers who have rendered signal service in the operations so far concluded. It has seldom been a General's good fortune to be assisted by a staff so thoroughly efficient in all
branches, as has been that body of carefully selected Officers forming the Staff of this expedition.
To my personal Staff I am deeply indebted for the manner in which they have performed their duties. Captain H. Brackenbury, my Assistant Military Secretary, a highly-educated Officer, has shown much practical ability in the field, and only, requires opportunity for the development of great military talents.
Lieutenant Maurice, R.A., my Private Secretary, has carried on my correspondence with the Colonial Office, and I have brought his name to the notice of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Both Captain Brackenbury and Lieutenant Maurice have been with me from the first, and have worked indefatigably.
Of Colonel McNeill, who was my Chief of the Staff at the beginning of the war, I have already given my opinion in a previous despatch. His severe wound received in our first fight deprived me of his valuable services. His soldier like qualities, his powers of mind and body render him an invaluable assistant to any General commanding a force. From the date of his being wounded in October until the 17th December, the duties of Chief of the Staff were ably carried out to my entire satisfaction by Major Baker, the Assistant Adjutant-General, to whose untiring energy I owe much of the success that has attended all our operations. In my opinion he possesses every quality that is valuable in a Staff Officer.
Colonel Greaves assumed the duties of Chief of the Staff on 17th December. His great knowledge of the Army, his experience as a Staff Officer, the zeal and ability he brings to bear upon his work mark him out as eminently qualified for the post he occupied. He has rendered me the most valuable service.
The topographical work was well carried out under Captain Huyshe, D.A.Q.M.G., whose death, at Prahsu, on the 19th December, deprived Her Majesty of a gallant soldier. The surveys were made by him, assisted by Captain Butler, 60th Rifles, Lieutenant A. F. Hart, 31st Regiment, and other officers. Lieutenant Hart made nearly all the surveys north of the River Prah.
The duties of the Intelligence Department were most efficiently performed by Captain Buller, D.A.Q.M.G. He is an excellent Staff Officer, and I am much indebted to him for the information of the enemy's doings, that he supplied me with throughout the war The extensive knowledge he acquired of the native tribes both in Ashanti, and in the territories allied to us was invaluable to me in my dealings with the Kings and Chiefs.
The medical arrangements for the war were made by Deputy Surgeon--General Home, V.C., C.B. I have in a previous despatch recorded my- high appreciation of the ability and energy with which he carried out his duty up to the date of his being invalided, and of the efficient manner in which he prepared for the medical requirements of the troops in the advance upon Coomasssie. The organisation planned by him was well carried out by Surgeon-Major Mackinnon, C.B; who joined me on the march at Acrofoomu, and who has since continued to perform the duties of Principal Medical Officer to my entire satisfaction. Of the Medical Officers employed I wish specially to bring to your notice the services of Surgeons-Major Woolfreys, Mosse, Waters, Jackson, and Turton, and Staff-Surgeon Irwin, R.N., also of Surgeon G. W. M'Nalty, who has had charge of the Head Quarter Staff since we left Cape Coast Castle on our march to Coomassie.
The Control arrangements have been energetically carried out by Deputy-Controller Irvine, C.M.G., with his usual zeal. I cannot award him higher praise than by saying that the men were well fed, and their wants carefully provided for throughout the campaign. The transport, that at one time caused me serious anxiety, was effectually organised by Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Colley, 2nd Queen's Regiment. He was assisted by twenty - two Special Service Officers, and six officers-of the Control Department. It was a happy circumstance that placed at my disposal the services of an officer of such well-known ability as Lieutenant-Colonel Colley. His great talent for organisation soon placed the transport upon a satisfactory footing. To him I confided sole charge of the line of communications. In a war like this it is absolutely necessary that the officer in command of the transport should also have charge of the line of communications. It was, therefore, necessary that these two most important duties should be discharged by a combatant officer. Among the officers of the Control Department, all of whom have worked with much energy, I would, wish especially to mention Commissary O'Connor and Deputy-Commissary Ravenscroft. Throughout the second phase of the war I have received every possible assistance from Commodore Hewett, V.C., commanding the squadron on the African Station, who accompanied me on the march to Coomassie. I have had to make incessant calls upon him for naval services, and in every instance my requests have been complied with. He kindly placed at my disposal a naval brigade, consisting of 17 officers and 265 selected men, whose services have been of the greatest value, and who all have fought throughout the campaign with the dashing courage for which Her Majesty's Seamen and Marines are so celebrated. When my transport difficulties were greatest, Commodore Hewett helped me most materially by supplying Kroomen to act as carriers, and he allowed no regulations to stand (in the way of his exertions to secure the ultimate success of this war, in which he and those under his command have played a prominent part.
Captain Rait has been the Officer commanding the Royal Artillery throughout both phases of this war he organized a Houssa battery in a most able manner. The officers, English non-commissioned officers, and gunners attached to it worked indefatigably. In all the actions and skirmishes the gun and rocket fire had been most effective, notwithstanding the difficulties of the ground on which we fought. I consider Captain Rait to be one of the best soldiers I have ever served with.
In this force, where every white man has had hard work, and where especially previous to the arrival of the English troops, all the selected officers that I brought out with me, were untiring in their exertions, Major Home, the Commanding Royal Engineer, has had his full share of hard work and most admirably has he performed it. Hutting the troops, constructing fortified posts, making a road practicable for all arms up to within a few hundred yards of the position where the enemy fought their first battle in their own territory, bridging the River Prah an obstacle of considerable magnitude, and subsequently the River Ordah also, besides a large number of smaller streams and rivers—the Royal Engineers, under Major Home, R.E, have worked with the zeal for which their corps has always been conspicuous, and I cannot sufficiently thank him for the manner in which he has carried out the numerous and arduous duties that have devolved upon him. Brigadier-General Sir Archibald Alison Bart., C.B., commanding the European Brigade, has rendered me every possible assistance, and has carried out his orders to my entire satisfaction. He has brought, to my notice the valuable assistance he has received from his Brigade-Major, Captain Robinson, Rifle Brigade, and his Aides-de- Camp, Captain Russell, 12th Lancers, and Lieutenant Fitzgerald, Rifle Brigade.
Colonel M'Leod, C.B., 42nd Highlanders, commanded the advanced guard during the march from the Adansi Hills to Coomassie, conducting his operations with cool gallantry in the most skilful manner. The forcing of all positions occupied by the enemy in our front devolved upon him, and I consider myself most fortunate in having had so able an officer to select for that very trying duty.
Colonel M'Leod has brought specially to my notice the names of his Acting. Staff Officers, Captain Farquharson, ;V.C., and Lieutenant Wauchope, both of the 42nd Highlanders, the latter of whom was, I regret to say, twice wounded.
The Officers commanding English Corps were Captain Grubbe, R.N.; Lieutenant-Colonel Mostyn, 2nd Battalion 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers; Major Macpherson, 42nd Highlanders, and subsequently when that officer was wounded, Major Scott, of the same Regiment; and Lieutenant Colonel Warren, 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, to all of whom my best thanks are due.
The two Native: Regiments raised on the coast were commanded throughout the war by Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel H. E. Wood, V.C. 90th Light Infantry, and by Brevet Major B. C. Russell, 13th Hussars. Both these "Officers have upon many occasions been placed in very difficult positions, requiring the exercise of high military qualities, and have invariably carried put their very arduous and trying duties, most efficiently. I take the liberty of bringing to your especial notice, as those upon whom the brunt of this war has fallen, these and the other, combatant officers named below who originally came out with me, or followed by the first mail steamer.