ON THE EVE OF THE BATTLE OF KATAMANSO: TRANSLATED EXTRACTS
FROM A DANISH DOCUMENT (1826)
By R.A. Kea
University of California-Riverside
I present here a translation of the Danish administration's references to the southward march of the Asante army to the coast between March and early August 1826. The references are extracted from a document entitled "Copy of the administration's council and resolution minutes from the first of January to the first of October 1826," in State Archives, Copenhagen. Generaltold-kammerets Arkiv. Sager til Guineiske Journaler 1827. Afskrivt af Gouvernementets Deliberations og Resolutions Protocoll fra 1st Jan. til 1st Oct. 1826. The original spelling of proper names has been retained.
Entry for 23 March - messengers from the Akim queen brought information [to Christiansborg] about the Assianthee nation's preparation for war...
Entry for 14 April - information from the Akim queen was brought here by her lieutenant Apia, concerning the Assianthee nation's hostility towards Akim; as further proof of the truth of their statement they brought with them a prisoner of the Assianthee's ally, a Quahu black together with the jawbone of an Assianthee. The Assianthees' intention is to attack the queen. . .
Entry for 24 April - an [Akwamu] lieutenant with a large retinue brought here two Quahu blacks, prisoners of the Assianthee nation's ally.
Entry for 2 June - ...the Assianthees have arrived at Akropong in Akim, 4 days' journey from Christiansborg. The queen of Akim, together with women, children, and the elderly, has retired to Aquapim. Akim and Aquapim soldiers lay encamped before the Assianthees, and one assumes that one of these days there will be a battle between the Akims and Aquapims and Assianthees.
The Assianthee army now lies at Kukrantam, about 30,000 strong as the Assianthee king himself leads it. The king has made an oath that he will not end the war until all Europeans and forts are destroyed. Meanwhile, there is not much agreement among his people; all of them are dissatisfied and desire peace. Their supply of ammunition is considerable.
Entry for 5 June - Information from the Akim queen says that the Assianthees have moved closer and have struck their camp at Aqueso between Akim and Aquapim.
Entry for 16 June - [Report of two soldiers whom the English sent to the Asante camp accompanied by 159 armed Akyem]. ...that the Assianthee camp where the king himself stays is in a town called Asafo; that they had a clear view of the whole Assianthee army... On their return they met a body of Assianthees who had left the camp in order to look for provisions. The Akims were fortunate enough to overpower them and made two prisoners...
From the two prisoners it was learned that the Assianthee king stays in Akim in a town called Asafjo. His army amounts to about 20,000 men... He is well-supplied with gunpowder and muskets. Instead of musket balls his people use ferruginous stones. He has left some soldiers in his country in order to protect the elderly, women, and children. He obtains gunpowder and guns from the upper coast in exchange for the gold and ivory he sends there. Wednesday the 20th he has decided to break camp in order to move closer to Aquapim. [He intends to attack the Danish and English establishments at Accra]. The king's first intention, however, was to visit Cape Coast. To that end he sent three lieutenants with a number of people to see if any enemy forces were there... The Assianthees' lieutenant Ampaa went to Cape Coast, was beaten, and fled to the main army with a loss of 26 men. This was the reason the king and his army took the road to the Danish possessions.
Entry for 7 July - [An Asante prisoner state that] the Assianthee king has divided his army of about 15,000 men into three different parts: the king himself leads the one which forms the center; the two others shall, when the battle begins, attempt to outflank the enemy so they will not be in a position to retreat. There is not much agreement between the king and his principal men. His army is well-supplied with gunpowder and guns but lacks musketballs and provisions.
Entry for 3 August - [An Asante prisoner state that] the Assianthee king has declared that on Saturday his people will go to Temma and get salt, fish, etc. for him.