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Coomassie and Magdala | H. M. Stanley (1874)

H. M. Stanley | Coomassie and Magdala (1874)

Price £135.00 Sale




Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) began his career as a journalist working for The New York Herald, and this book dates from this early stage of Stanley's career. It chronicles the campaigns of two heroes of British Imperial history, Sir Garnet Wolseley and Lord Napier, whom Stanley accompanied as a war correpondent in east and west Africa. The two campaigns were similar, although carried out in very different terrain. The campaign in Abyssinia was conducted against the deranged Emperor Theodore, who was holding foreign hostages in his mountain stronghold at Magdala. The expedition was a success, the fortress was stormed and Theodore committed suicide. The Coomassie campaign was carried out in the sweltering jungles of the Ashanti tribe (now Ghana and Sierra Leone). Led by Wolseley, the expedition battled disease and natural disasters, as well as the Ashanti, before Coomassie also fell and was razed to the ground.

Coomassie and Magdala is a fascinating account of two celebrated British Imperial adventures, and of Stanley's own extraordinary experiences as a pioneering war correspondent during the Magdala campaign and the Third Ashanti war. The Third Anglo-Ashanti War, also known as the "First Ashanti Expedition", lasted from 1873 to 1874. General Sir Garnet Wolseley led 2,500 British troops and several thousand West Indian and African troops against the Ashanti, and he subsequently became a household name in Britain. The Battle of Amoaful was fought on 31 January 1874. A road was cut to the village and the Black Watch led the way, forming square in the clearing with the Rifle Brigade, whilst flanking columns moved around the village. With the pipes playing 'The Campbells Are Coming' the Black Watch charged with fixed bayonets and the shocked Ashantis fled. The flank columns were slow moving in the jungle and the Ashantis moved around them, in their normal horseshoe formation and attacked the camp 2 miles to the rear, where the Royal Engineers defended themselves until relieved by the Rifle Brigade. Although there was another small battle two days later, the Battle of Ordashu, the action had been decisive and the route to Kumasi was open. The capital, Kumasi, was abandoned by the Ashanti on 4 February and was briefly occupied by the British. They demolished the royal palace with explosives, leaving Kumasi a heap of smouldering ruins.


In good condition. The boards are in good condition, with signs of wear and age and some wear at the corners. The book has been professionally rebound with the original spine laid down onto the new one, and the endpapers have been renewed. The hinges and binding are in excellent condition, the text block is tight and secure. The text, maps and illustrations are in good condition, with some small ink library stamps on the corners of several pages, the maps, and the plates. There are numerous full page and smaller illustrations throughout the text.

Published: 1874 (2nd Edition)
Original illustrated Green boards with gilt titling and portraits
Illustrated with 27 plates and drawings by Melton Prior,
and two large folding maps
Pages: 510 (plus publisher’s catalogue at rear)
Dimensions: 160mm x 230mm

For further information on H. M. Stanley see Tim Jeal's excellent biography Stanley—The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer (Faber 2007).