This volume examines the "Amazons", whose existence has been verified via documents and eye-witness accounts from battles for the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 18th and 19th centuries. Originally palace guards, the Amazons had evolved by the 1760s into professional troops armed mainly with muskets, machetes and clubs. Theoretically wives of the king and quartered in his palaces, they were actually sworn to celibacy on pain of death. In compensation they enjoyed a semi-sacred status and numerous privileges, including the right to own slaves. By the 1840s their numbers had grown to 6000. The Amazons served under female officers and had their own bands, flags and insignia: they outdrilled, outshot and outfought men, became frontline shock troops and fought with ferocity and fearlessness till the kingdom's final defeat by France in 1892. This text is based on years of detailed archival research and includes more than 20 line drawings and photographs.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.