Koomassie, Or Coomassie, a town of W. Africa, capital of Ashantee, about 105 m. N. by W. of Cape Coast Castle; pop. (previous to its destruction in 1874) about 15,000. Its site is on the declivity of a hill of ironstone, around whose base flows the Suabin, a sluggish stream, which in the rainy season transforms the neighborhood into a swamp. Beyond it a dense forest extends to the coast on the south and several days' journey to the north. The town occupied a parallelogram about a mile in length by half a mile in breadth, and was laid out in squares, with broad, straight, and well kept streets. The principal ones, which were shaded with fine banian trees, were bordered with picturesque houses and verandas in front and projecting roofs, each having a large public room opening directly on the street, and smaller private rooms behind. The walls were of wattle work plastered with clay, the lower part colored with red ochre, the upper with white clay and ornamented with arabesque designs. In the rear of these houses, which were the residences of the chief men, were other buildings arranged in quadrangles, the homes of the slaves and retainers.
N. of the road leading to Juabin was the king's palace, a collection of buildings and courtyards covering an area of five acres and surrounded by a palisade of bamboo 8 ft. high. It served at once as the royal abode, harem, mausoleum, and military magazine. The king's private residence was a strongly built edifice of two stories, of quarried stone plastered with lime mortar, enclosing a quadrangle 24 by 20 ft. It had a flat roof, and was fitted with battlements and loopholes for musketry. Within the town and extending nearly into its centre was the grove into which were thrown the bodies of the victims of the annual sacrifices, numbering frequently hundreds at a time. - Koomassie had little trade and no manufactures of consequence, it being chiefly the place of residence of the sovereign and the nobles. It was founded about 1720.
On Feb. 4,1874, it was captured by the British under Gen. Sir Garnet Wolseley, and on the morning of the 6th the town was destroyed by fire, and the palace blown up; but it was soon after reoccupied by the natives, who immediately began to rebuild it. Within a few months after its capture several volumes were published in London descriptive of the campaign, chiefly by newspaper correspondents: "The March to Coomassie," by G. A. Henty of the London "Standard;" "Coomassie and Mag-dala," by Henry M. Stanley of the " New York Herald," etc. (See Gold Coast.)
The King's Palace in Koomassie.