In 1656, the Dutch erected Fort Batenstein on the Gold Coast as a fort and trading post. It was in the vicinity of Butre (old spelling: Boutry). In 1872, the fort was transferred to Britain together with the rest of the Dutch Gold Coast.
On August 27, 1656, the Treaty of Butre was signed between the Dutch and the Ahanta at this fort.
Batenstein literally translates to “profit fort,” which historian Albert van Dantzig sees as evidence of a cynical sense of humor on the part of the directors of the Dutch West India Company: the fort at Komenda, which was the site of the fierce Komenda Wars with the British, was named Vredenburgh (literally “peace borough”), the commercially unsuccessful fort at Senya Beraku was named Goede Hoop (“Good Hope”), and the fort at Apam, which took five years to build due to local resistance, was named Lijdzaamheid (“Patience”).
The Dutch West India Company established Fort Batenstein not because of potential economic opportunities in the area, but to thwart the Swedish Africa Company’s ambitions to build trading posts on the Gold Coast. Hendrik Carloff, a former employee of the Dutch West India Company, established a trading lodge at Butre in 1650, which was besieged by the people of Encasser in 1652 on the Dutch’s orders. The Dutch began construction on a fort on top of the hill overlooking Butre harbor in 1656 to ensure the Swedes would not return.
On this occasion, the Dutch made a treaty with the local inhabitants, submitting the people of Upper Ahanta and Butre under the Dutch West India Company’s jurisdiction. The Treaty of Axim, which governed the relationship between the Dutch and the peoples around Fort Saint Anthony and defined the relationship in terms of reciprocal obligations and jurisdictions, was drafted in a very different way.
A sawmill was built at Fort Batenstein in the 18th century to supply timber to forts and ships in need of repair.
Fort Batenstein was not a significant fort until 1837 when it became the focal point of the Dutch military operations on the coast during the Dutch–Ahanta War. Following the conflict, the Dutch established a protectorate over Ahanta, with the commandant of Fort Batenstein as vice governor, citing the Treaty of Butre of 1656. The Dutch attempted to develop a gold mine at Butre in the years that followed, but it failed to produce any gold.
The residents of Butre protested the sale of the Dutch possessions on the Gold Coast to the United Kingdom in 1872, and in 1873 went to the streets waving Dutch flags and firing cannons. In reprisal for an attack on Dixcove, which had long been a British trading post, the British shelled Butre in October 1873.