Taking of Lagos - War on the Slave Trade
Updated: Dec 5, 2021
Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines
Location: West Africa
Period/ Conflict: War on the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade
Date/s: 26th - 27th December 1851
The taking of Lagos by boats of HMS Bloodhound and HMS Tartar, Lieutenant J.W.C. Williams RM and E, McArthur RMA were present with 27 RMA and 47 Royal Marines, taking part.
Lieutenant Williams was wounded.
There were actually two naval actions; one in November 1851 and the second in December 1851.
Battle of November 25, 1851
The first attack on November 25, 1851 was hastily organized and led by Commander Forbes who underestimated Oba Kosoko's defenses of about 5,000 men armed with muskets. Forbes' attack party consisted of 306 officers, men, marines and sailors aboard HMS Bloodhound along with 21 boats. Although Bloodhound sustained heavy cannon fire from the shore, a landing party went ashore but met stiff resistance. By nightfall, the British had sustained two dead and ten injuries; Commander Forbes ordered a retreat.
Battle of December 26, 1851
British Men o' War Attacked by the King of Lagos
The battle of December 26, 1851 was termed by Lagosians Ogun Ahoyaya/Ogun Agidingbi (translated, "The Boiling Battle"). Captain Jones led the attack party consisting HMS Bloodhound, HMS Teaser, a flotilla of boats including The Victoria and The Harlequin equipped with overwhelming fire power engaged Kosoko in a battle lasting three days.
Kosoko put up a stiff resistance, but the Royal Navy's superior firepower won the day. Kosoko and his leading chiefs fled Lagos for Epe on December 28, 1851. According to Samuel Davies, a Saro and younger brother of JPL Davies who participated on the British side aboard HMS Bloodhound, Kosoko would have inflicted great losses on the Royal Navy if he had deployed his war canoes with their swivel guns.
However, he relied solely on static defenses which were overwhelmed. On the British side 15 men died and 75 were wounded.
Akitoye was taken ashore on December 29 to assess the bombarded town. He accepted the loyalty of the chiefs and was installed as Oba of Lagos. On December 30, the Royal Navy dismantled all Kosoko's batteries and dumped 46 of his war guns at sea
The power of the Royal Navy was subsequently used to suppress the slave trade, and while some illegal trade, mostly with Brazil, continued, the Atlantic slave trade would be eradicated by the middle of the 19th century.
The West Africa Squadron was credited with capturing 1,600 slave ships between 1808 and 1860 and freeing 150,000 Africans who were aboard these ships.
Action was also taken against African leaders who refused to agree to British treaties to outlaw the trade, for example against the usurping King of Lagos, deposed in 1851.
More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduction_of_Lagos