This medal was the first awarded in the reign of Edward VII to all those who participated in the suppression of the Ashanti rising between 31st March to 25th December 1900. Because the Boer war was at its peak, few European troops could be spared and as such the main recipients were African forces.
The trigger for this action arose when the British planned to remove the “Golden Stool” from the Ashanti (which was the soul of the their nation). The expeditionary force dispatched for this purpose was attacked and the Ashanti rebelled. Kumassi was also besieged during the uprising and on 23rd June, the Governor, Sir frederick Hodgson and his wife with a force of over 600 withdrew from Kumassi leaving behind a small force as conditions in the town were serious due to starvation, disease and mounting casualties. 2 relief columns provided support in July / August and fighting ultimately continued until the Ashanti chiefs surrendered in December.
The Kumassi Bar was awarded to all who had garrisoned in Kumassi at any time between 31st March and 15th July, and to those who were in the relief columns.
2 VC’s were also awarded along with 12 DCM’s
Not understanding the significance of the stool, Hodgson clearly had no inkling of the storm his words would produce; the suggestion that he, a foreigner, should sit upon and defile the Golden Stool, the very embodiment of The Ashanti state, and very symbol of the Ashanti peoples, living, dead, and yet to be born, was far too insufferable for the crowd. Almost immediately, the queen mother of the Ejisu dominion within the Ashanti kingdom, Yaa Asantewaa, collected men to form a force with which to attack the British and retrieve the exiled king. The enraged populace produced a large number of volunteers. As Hodgson’s deputy, Captain Cecil Armitage, searched for the stool in a nearby brush, his force was surrounded and ambushed, only a sudden rainstorm allowing the survivors to retreat to the British offices in Kumasi. The offices were then fortified into a small stockade that housed 18 Europeans, dozens of mixed-race colonial administrators, and 500 Nigerian Hausas with six small field guns and four Maxim guns. The Ashanti, aware that they were unprepared for storming the fort settled into a long siege, only making one assault on the position on 29 April that was unsuccessful. The Ashanti then continued to snipe at the defenders, cut the telegraph wires, blockade food supplies, and attack relief columns.
As supplies ran low and disease took its toll on the defenders, another rescue party of 700 arrived in June. Recognising that it was necessary to escape from the trap and to preserve the remaining food for the wounded and sick, some of the healthier men were evacuated along with Hodgson, his wife and over a hundred of the Hausas. 12,000 Ashanti abrade (Warriors) were summoned to attack the escapees, who gained a lead on the long road back to the Crown Colony, thus avoiding the main body of the Abrade. Days later the few survivors of the Abrade assault, took a ship for Accra, receiving all available medical attention.
The rescue column
As Hodgson arrived at the coast, a rescue force of 1,000 men assembled from various British units and police forces stationed across West Africa and under the command of Major James Willcocks had set out from Accra. On the march Willcocks’s men had been repulsed from several well-defended forts belonging to groups allied with the Ashanti, most notably the stockade at Kokofu where they had suffered heavy casualties. During the march Willcocks was faced with constant trials of skirmishing with an enemy in his own element and maintaining his supply route in the face of an opposing force utilizing unconventional warfare. In early July, his force arrived at Beckwai and prepared for the final assault on Kumasi, which began on the morning of 14 July 1900. Using a force led by Yoroba warriors from Nigeria serving in the Frontier Force, Willcocks drove in four heavily guarded stockades, finally relieving the fort on the evening of the fifteenth, when the inhabitants were just two days from surrender.
In September, after spending the summer recuperating and tending to the sick and wounded in captured Kumasi, Willcocks sent out flying columns to the neighbouring regions that had supported the uprising. His troops defeated an Ashanti force in a skirmish at Obassa on the 30 September and also succeeded in destroying the fort and town at Kokofu where he had been previously repulsed, using Nigerian levies to hunt Ashanti soldiers into the forests. Ashanti defenders would usually exit the engagement quickly after a stiff initial assault