HC Deb 25 April 1873 vol 215 cc970-1

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether Her Majesty's Government have any authentic information of the defeat of the forces of the British Protectorate on the Gold Coast by the Ashantee army; And, what steps are being taken to resist the invasion and to protect the British settlements at Cape Coast Castle? He also asked (for Mr. M'Arthur), What steps Her Majesty's Government had taken to repel the Ashantee invasion of the protected territories on the Gold Coast, the army of that power being, by last accounts, within twenty miles of Cape Coast Castle; and, if it be true that Mr. Salmon has been sent to Cape Coast; and, if so, with what instructions?


Sir, Mr. Salmon is Collector of Customs at the Gold Coast, and he had been on leave in this country. He was sent back in consequence of the illness of Colonel Harley, the Administrator of the Gold Coast, who, however, had happily recovered. Mr. Salmon's instructions were to resume his duties and assist the Administrator, but I regret to say that he has been seized with illness on the journey, and has turned homewards from Madeira. Our last accounts of the Ashantee invasion were to the effect that there had been an engagement between the Fantee tribes and the invading army at a place called Yankumassie, distant 30 miles from Cape Coast Castle. That engagement had terminated favourably to the invaders, but they appeared to have suffered considerably, and had not advanced further at the date of our Despatches. As to the steps which have been taken "to resist the invasion and to protect the settlements," I will read to the House the Instructions given in 1864 in a similar case of Ashantee invasion by the then Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Cardwell) before I state those steps. Writing to Governor Pine, Mr. Cardwell said— The duty of defending the extensive territory included in the Protectorate can only be satisfactorily discharged if the chiefs to whom it belongs are united and resolute in their own defence. The proper course, therefore, is to take every possible means for bringing the chiefs to an united and decided system of defence, and for this purpose to give them advice, to supply them judiciously with military stores, and in concert with the officer in command of the forces, to furnish them with such assistance as he may be able to afford, without exposing his officers and men to any protracted residence in the interior, and without weakening his force upon the coast so as to endanger the safety of the settlements themselves. Now, Sir, for the steps which have been taken. A reinforcement of 100 men of the 2nd West India Regiment has arrived from Sierra Leone; 150 of the Houssa Police—a most serviceable force—have also been sent to the Gold Coast. Colonel Harley, who has had long experience of that coast, and in whose ability and military skill we have the highest confidence, has taken every possible step to unite and combine the tribes of the Protectorate. Supplies of arms and ammunition were already in the forts—further supplies were sent some time since, and additional large supplies have lately been sent, while active steps have been taken to prevent arms and ammunition reaching the invaders. Two ships of war—the Seagull and the Decoy—are at Cape Coast, and a paddle steamer has been sent out as being more generally useful than screw steamers. Colonel Harley reports that the forts both at Cape Coast and Elmira are strong and well-provisioned, and we sent out some time since further large stores of provisions to guard against any possible contingency. I may add that Colonel Harley had arrested the King of Elmina, who had refused to take the oath of allegiance, which step had been well received by the loyal population, and which, together with the other prompt and active steps taken by the Administrator, has the full approval of Her Majesty's Government.