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The Ashantee War - Poem by William Topaz McGonagall

'Twas in the year of 1874, and on New Year's Day,
The British Army landed at Elmina without dismay,
And numbering in all, 1400 bayonets strong,
And all along the Cape Coast they fearlessly marched along,
Under the command of Sir Garnet Wolseley, a hero bold,
And an honour to his King and country, be it told.
And between them and Coomassie, lay a wilderness of jungle,
But they marched on boldly without making a stumble,
And under a tropical sun, upwards of an hundred miles,
While their bayonets shone bright as they marched on in files.

Coomassie had to be reached and King Coffee's power destroyed,
And, before that was done the British were greatly annoyed,
Lieutenant Lord Gifford, with his men gained the Crest of the Adenisi Hills,
And when they gained the top, with joy their hearts fills.

Sir John McLeod was appointed General of the Black Brigade;
And a great slaughter of the enemy they made,
And took possession of an Ashantee village,
And fought like lions in a fearful rage.

While the British troops most firmly stood,
And advanced against a savage horde concealed in a wood,
Yet the men never flinched, but entered the wood fearlessly,
And all at once the silence was broken by a roar of musketry.

And now the fight began in real earnest,
And the Black Watch men resolved to do their best,
While the enemy were ambushed in the midst of the wood,
Yet the Highlanders their ground firmly stood.

And the roar of the musketry spread through the jungle,
Still the men crept on without making a stumble,
And many of the Black Watch fell wounded and dead,
And Major Macpherson was wounded, but he rallied his men without dread.

The battle raged for five hours, but the Highlanders were gaining ground,
Until the bagpipes struck up their wild clarion sound,
Then the dusky warriors fled in amazement profound,
Because their comrades were falling on every side around.

Sir Archibald Alison led on the Highland Brigade,
And great havoc amongst the enemy they made,
And village after village they captured and destroyed,
Until King Coffee lost heart and felt greatly annoyed.

Sir John McLeod took the command of his own regiment,
And with a swinging pace into the jaws of death they went,
Fearlessly firing by companies in rotation,
Add dashed into a double Zone of Fire without hesitation.

And in that manner the Black Watch pressed onward,
And the enemy were powerless their progress to retard,
Because their glittering bayonets were brought into play,
And panic stricken the savage warriors fled in great dismay.

Then Sir Garnet Wolseley with his men entered Coomassie at night,
Supported by half the rifles and Highlanders- a most beautiful sight,
And King Coffee and his army had fled,
And thousands of his men on the field were left dead.

And King Coffee, he was crushed at last,
And the poor King felt very downcast,
And his sorrow was really profound,
When he heard that Coomassie was burned to the ground.

Then the British embarked for England without delay,
And with joy their hearts felt gay,
And by the end of March they reached England,
And the reception they received was very grand.


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