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1873 also saw the outbreak of the Ashanti War. The nation of the Ashantis inhabited a region close to the Gold Coast (roughly the area of present day Ghana) and had developed a lucrative trade in slaves. When the British came and took control of the coastal areas in the middle of the century the war-like Ashantis suffered humiliation and a decline in the market for slaves. The festering frustration of the Ashantis grew into open hostility and in 1873 a full-scale offensive was launched against the coast.

The British Government realized swift action was necessary and an expedition was sent out under Major General Sir Garnet Wolseley. In February 1874 Kumasi, the Ashanti capital, was captured and destroyed.

On March 26th, 1874 was published a special number of the ILN titled ‘From Cape Coast to Coomassie: an Illustrated Narrative of the Ashanti War’

(Appendix List no. 2) The ILN’s special war artist Melton Prior provided a series of graphic engravings which culminated in a double page engraving of the burning of Coomassie.

It is a 48 page issue printed on superfine paper measuring 42 x 30 cm and was priced at one shilling. The brown pictorial wrapper shows a British soldier holding a rifle, standing over a cowering Ashanti warrior against a background of the burning of Kumasi.

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