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Title: Scenes and Adventures in Affghanistan
Author: Taylor, William, 1765-1836
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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AFFGHANISTAN***


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Transcriber's note:

      Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been retained as in
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SCENES AND ADVENTURES IN AFFGHANISTAN,

by

WILLIAM TAYLOR,

Late Troop Serjeant-Major of the Fourth Light Dragoons.



London:
T. C. Newby, 65, Mortimer St., Cavendish Sq.
And
T. & W. Boone, 29, New Bond Street.
1842.

T. C. Newby, Printer, 65, Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square.



                TO

        FLORENTINE LADY SALE,

  THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE INSCRIBED

               AS A

  TRIBUTE OF RESPECT AND ADMIRATION

              FOR THE

      HEROISM BY HER DISPLAYED

          DURING THE LATE

     CAMPAIGN IN AFFGHANISTAN.



CONTENTS.


  Preface.

  CHAPTER I.

  Proclamation of Lord Auckland. The Ghauts. Fatal
  Practical Joke. Embarkation at Bombay. Mishap at
  Sea. Landing at Bominacote. Review of the troops
  by Sir John Keane. Suicide of Lieutenant Fyers.
  Advance upon Scinde. Tattah. The Moslems and
  Hindoos. Tombs of Tattah. Hindoo Superstition.
  Adventure of a Dak, or Native Postman. Death of
  a Smuggler. Jurruk. Belochee Thefts. Feat of a
  Native Trooper.

  CHAPTER II.

  Singular fate of Three Officers of the Queen's
  Royals. Evacuation of Jurruk by the Inhabitants.
  Desertion of Camel Drivers. Preparations for the
  attack and defence of Hyderabad. Submission of
  the Ameers. Consternation of the Natives at the
  arrival of a Steamer in the Indus. Baida.
  Accident to a Dragoon. The Lukkee Pass. Kotiah.
  Loss of Two Soldiers of the 17th Foot. Sehwan.
  Arrival of Sir Henry Fane. Asiatic Jugglers.
  Conversion of a European Soldier to the
  Mahommedan Faith.

  CHAPTER III.

  Larkhana. Departure of the Commander-in-Chief
  for Candahar. Capture of Belochee Thieves.
  Ludicrous scene in the Bazaar. Tremendous
  Hurricane. An Irish Colonel's appeal to his men.
  Murder of Cooks belonging to the Army. A Native
  Funeral. The Bholun Pass. Massacre of Camp
  Followers. Ill-timed Merriment. Animal Instinct.

  CHAPTER IV.

  Skirmish with the Enemy. Belochee Waggery.
  Cleverly planned Capture of a Bruhee. Sufferings
  from want of water. Valley of Shawle. Quettah.
  Belochee Cruelties. Adventures in a Stone
  Quarry. Treachery of the Khan of Khelat. Murder
  of another Cook. Poisoning of the Wells.
  Fortunate Discovery.

  CHAPTER V.

  The Khojuck Pass. Descent of the Troops.
  Shocking Death of a Camel Driver. Detection and
  Escape of an Affghan Thief. Loss of Cavalry
  Horses. Candahar. Arrival of Shah Soojah.
  Condition of the Troops. Attempt of the Natives
  to cut off a Convoy of Provisions. Asiatic
  Mendicants. The Mosque at Candahar. Arrival of
  Affghan Auxiliaries.

  CHAPTER VI.

  Installation of Shah Soojah. Attack on the Camel
  Guards. Heroism of an Affghan Youth. Murder of
  Cornet Inverarity of the 16th Lancers. Departure
  from Candahar. The Ghiljie Hills. Locusts.
  Arrival of new Auxiliaries. Camel Batteries.
  Hyder Khail. Arrival at Ghuznee. Tomb of
  Mahommed. Remains of the Old Town of Ghuznee.

  CHAPTER VII.

  Reconnaisance of the Fortress. Skirmish with the
  Enemy. Rejoicing of the Garrison at our Supposed
  Defeat. Preparation for a Coup de Main. Engineer
  Operations. Storming and Taking of the Fortress.

  CHAPTER VIII.

  An Affghan Heroine. Capture of Hyder Khan the
  Commandant of Ghuznee. Escape of Ghool Mahommed
  Khan. Singular Discovery of a Map on the person
  of an Affghan Chief. Description of the Affghan
  Women. The Ruling Passion. Treasuretrove. The
  Golden Shield. Chase of the Enemy. Just
  Retribution.

  CHAPTER IX.

  Attempt to Assassinate the Shah. Court Martial
  on an Affghan Chief. Visit to the Hospital at
  Ghuznee. Hatred of the Affghans towards the
  Native Troops. Departure from Ghuznee. Capture
  of a Battery. Fatal Accident. Summary
  Punishment. Arrival at Cabul. Pursuit of Dost
  Mahommed and Treachery of a Native Chief.
  Description of Cabul. The Balar Hissar. Mosque
  of the Emperor Baber. The Bazaar.

  CHAPTER X.

  Triumphant Entry of Shah Soojah into Cabul. The
  Cabul Races. Death of Brigadier General Arnold.
  Sale of the General's effects. Arrival of Prince
  Timour. The Sikhs. Murder of Colonel Herring.
  Arrival of money and supplies from the Upper
  Provinces.

  CHAPTER XI.

  Institution of the Order of the Doorannee
  Empire. Murder of a Private of the 13th Light
  Infantry. Departure from Cabul. Return to
  Ghuznee. Accident to the Revd. Mr. Pigot.
  Discovery of the Skeletons of British Soldiers.
  Horse-steaks. Treachery of some Ghiljie Chiefs
  and destruction of their Fort. Adventure of a
  Dragoon. Loss of a Cook.

  CHAPTER XII.

   Arrival at Quettah. Storming of the Fortress
  of Khelat. Suicide of a Trooper belonging to the
  Horse Artillery. Departure from Quettah. The
  Bholun Pass. Dadur. Bagh. Breaking out of the
  Cholera. Death of Doctor Forbes. Shikarpoor.
  Death of Captain Ogle. Sukkur-Bukkur. Death of
  Lieutenant Janvrin. Wedding Ceremonies of the
  Natives. Breaking up of the Bombay Column.
  Departure of Brigadier Scott. Boar Hunt.
  Larkhana. Sehwan. Kurrachee. Feast of the
  Mohurrum. Embarkation and Arrival at Bombay.



PREFACE.


The following narrative is put forth with all the diffidence and
apprehension that a mind unaccustomed to literary pursuits, and limited
in its opportunities of improvement, naturally feels on presenting
itself for the first time to the notice of the public. The doubts I
entertain, regarding the prudence of the step I have taken, are in no
small degree increased by the circumstances under which the work has
been executed, the details having been entirely furnished from memory,
and without the aid of any sort of data or memoranda. I should never
have dreamt of undertaking such a task, had not the partiality of good
natured, though perhaps misjudging friends, overcame the scruples which
a consciousness of my own deficiencies excited, and induced me to commit
to paper the scenes with which they professed themselves to have been
amused.

Having candidly admitted the demerits of the work, I may now be allowed
to say a few words in its favour. Should it be taken up in the
expectation of supplying materials for the defence of an erroneous
policy, or the gratification of party spleen, it will fall short of the
hopes of the reader, for I have endeavoured to steer clear of every
thing like political allusion in the fear of adding to difficulties,
which already appeared sufficiently formidable, and of wrecking my
little bark on a stormy and troubled sea. Mine is the simple,
straightforward narrative of a soldier, more accustomed to wield the
sword than the pen, and caring little for the conflicting interests or
animosities of party. With such a small amount of profession, it is not
unreasonable to hope that the public will extend towards it some portion
of that generous indulgence with which it is ever wont to regard the
literary efforts of the humbler classes.

_London, December 10th, 1842._



AFFGHANISTAN.



CHAPTER I.

Proclamation of Lord Auckland.--The Ghauts.--Fatal Practical
Joke.--Embarkation at Bombay.--Mishap at Sea.--Landing at
Bominacote.--Review of the troops by Sir John Keane.--Suicide of
Lieutenant Fyers.--Advance upon Scinde.--Tattah.--The Moslems and
Hindoos.--Tombs of Tattah.--Hindoo Superstition.--Adventure of a Dak, or
native Postman.--Death of a Smuggler.--Jurruk--Belochee Thefts.--Feat of
a Native Trooper.


Towards the latter end of August 1838, rumours reached Bombay and the
various military stations in the Deccan, that the troops were about to
be called into active service, and that the scene of operations was to
be at a distance from our Indian territories. The extensive
preparations soon after set on foot, and the unusual activity observable
in the various arsenals of the Presidency, left no doubt as to the truth
of these reports, and the only subject of speculation that remained was,
the precise destination of the forces. Public curiosity was at length
set at rest, by the arrival of a proclamation from the Governor General,
directing the assemblage of an army for service across the Indus, and
explaining at length the intentions of Government. It will not be
necessary for the purposes of this narrative that I should canvass the
merits of this remarkable document, or enter upon a discussion of the
policy on which it was founded. Sufficient is it for me to say that the
objects which it professed, were the protection of our commerce, and the
safety of our Indian frontiers, both of which were menaced by the
intrigues and aggressions of Persia. Having detailed the steps taken by
Dost Mahommed in furtherance of the views of that power, and expressed
its conviction, that as long as Cabul remained under his government
there was no hope that the interests of our Indian empire would be
preserved inviolate, the proclamation proceeded to state, that pressing
necessity, as well as every consideration of policy and justice,
justified us in replacing on the throne of Afghanistan, Shah
Sooja-ool-Moolk, a monarch who, when in power, had cordially acceded to
the measures of joint resistance to external aggression which were at
that time judged necessary by the British government; and who on his
empire being usurped by its present rulers had found an honorable asylum
in the British dominions. Such in a few words were the objects set forth
in Lord Auckland's proclamation and never has unfortunate state paper
been assailed with such hostility and bitterness. Whether the censures
with which it has been visited are deserved or not I will leave to
others to decide, contenting myself with the observation, that failure
and success are but too apt to sway men's judgments and to give a
character to the circumstances that have led to them.

The Bombay troops ordered to form part of the army of the Indus
consisted of her Majesty's 2nd, or Queen's Royals, the 17th regiment of
Foot, 307 of her Majesty's 4th Light Dragoons, the 1st regiment of
Bombay Light Cavalry, two troops of the Honorable Company's Horse
Artillery, one company of Foot Artillery, the 19th regiment of Native
Infantry, the Poona Irregular Horse, with the Sappers and Miners, the
whole constituting an effective force of about 6,000 men, under the
command of Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane.

The 4th Light Dragoons were stationed at Kirkee, about 70 miles from
Bombay, when orders arrived that the detachment should proceed to the
Presidency, for the purpose of embarking for its destination. We left
our cantonments early in November, and overtook the Artillery, which had
preceded us from Poona, at the Ghauts. We halted here two days, and
were joined by her Majesty's 17th regiment of Foot, shortly after our
arrival. Short as was our stay, it was signalised by one of those
practical jokes which so often terminate in fatal results, but which,
unfortunately, seem to have no effect in rendering people cautious. Some
artillerymen having been out shooting game, one of them brought home a
loaded gun and carelessly left it in his tent. Several of his comrades
came in, in the afternoon, and in the course of a carousal one of them
took the loaded piece, and presenting it at the nearest soldier,
jestingly threatened to shoot him. He had scarcely uttered the word when
the gun went off and stretched his unfortunate comrade dead at his feet.
Nothing could equal the distress and remorse of the homicide at the
thoughtless act by which he had deprived a fellow creature of life, and
it had a marked effect on his future character and conduct.

The passage through the Ghauts is romantic and picturesque in the
extreme, the road lying over stupendous mountains and through deep
ravines for the length of about seven or eight miles. Some beautiful
country houses have been lately erected here by a wealthy Parsee of
Bombay, on sites which command the finest and most extensive views in
the neighbourhood. These delightful summer retreats are surrounded by
every luxurious accessory that wealth and taste can supply, and the
Governor is occasionally glad to fly to them for a short respite from
the cares of office.

We arrived at Bombay on the 15th of November, and found it a scene of
busy excitement. The streets were filled with troops and artillery
proceeding to the place of embarkation, and the inhabitants flocked in
thousands to the Bunder Head, to witness their departure. The harbour
was literally alive with the numerous small craft employed in conveying
the troops to the different transports, while the blue Peter flying at
the mast head of the latter announced that we had very little time for
delay. We accordingly hurried down to the beach, and were immediately
put on board the Cambridge. We found it so crowded that Major Daly, our
commanding officer, was compelled to remonstrate with the authorities on
the subject, and after some trouble, he succeeded in getting from
seventy to eighty men removed to the other vessels. This did not
sufficiently lessen the inconvenience to prevent sickness breaking out
amongst us, and we lost one of the Horse Artillery before we were many
days at sea.

The passage was short, but not unattended with danger. The Cambridge
struck on a sand bank, off the Gulf of Cutch, and it was with
considerable difficulty that she was relieved from her perilous
position. We were kept on the bank about four hours, and it may easily
be conceived that no small degree of alarm and uneasiness prevailed
amongst the landsmen, who were unaccustomed to dangers of this
description. The night was pitch dark, and the breakers sounded
unpleasantly near us. Captain Douglass the commander of the vessel,
appeared however all confidence, and after trying a variety of
experiments to get her off, he hit upon one which luckily proved
successful. The whole of the troops on board having been ordered upon
deck, the Captain directed them to jump three times simultaneously. This
was done by our fellows with a hearty good will, and had the instant
effect of loosening the vessel from the bank, and enabling her to float
again into deep water.

We arrived off the mouth of the Indus in about fourteen days after our
departure from Bombay. The troops were immediately disembarked in
_pattemars_, small and clumsy coasting vessels peculiar to the country.
We reached Bominacote the next evening without any other accident than
the sinking of three boats, two containing artillery horses, and the
other officers' supplies, to the value it was said of £10,000 which had
been sent on speculation with the army by an eminent Parsee firm at
Bombay.

Bominacote forms a sort of harbour of refuge for the vessels which carry
on a trade along this line of coast. The village itself consists of a
few filthy huts, and its inhabitants spend their lives in hunting and
fishing. Both males and females are in a state of almost savage nature
little covering being used by them beyond the loin _goity_ or covering
for the loins common to the natives of these parts. The proverbial
vanity of the weaker sex was, however, displayed in the eagerness with
which they bartered their most precious articles for a few handkerchiefs
of Manchester make that we happened to have with us.

As soon as the horses belonging to the cavalry, and the military stores
had been landed, it was decided that we should advance upon Scinde in
two divisions; the infantry under the command of Brigadier Sir Thomas
Wiltshire, and the Cavalry under Brigadier Scott. Previous to our
departure the troops were reviewed by Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane,
who had followed us from Bombay in the Victoria steamer. Sir John
expressed himself in terms of warm satisfaction at the high state of
discipline and ardour of the men, who were eager to be led against the
enemy. The usual precautions on entering hostile territories were now
taken, the Cavalry being ordered to sharpen their sabres, and the
Infantry served with sixty rounds of ball cartridge.

Before we took our departure from Bominacote, a melancholy circumstance
occurred, which threw a temporary gloom over us. As the men were sitting
down to dinner the report of a pistol was heard in the officers' lines.
Suspecting some accident I ran to the spot, accompanied by two of my
comrades, and discovered Lieutenant Fyers, one of the officers of my own
regiment, lying dead in his tent, with a freshly discharged pistol in
his right hand. The unfortunate gentleman had placed the muzzle of it to
his mouth, and the ball, taking a slanting direction, had passed out
over the left ear. For several days previous he had been observed to
labour under great depression of spirits, but no immediate cause could
be assigned for the fatal act. His loss was generally lamented, for he
was both a good officer and an estimable member of society.

Our route lay through a country barren in the extreme, scarcely a
vestige of vegetation being any where to be met with. Of the natives we
saw or heard nothing, for as we advanced they fell back, deserting the
villages and betaking themselves to their mountain fastnesses. It being
now near Christmas the men suffered some inconvenience from the sudden
transitions of temperature, the days being sultry and the nights
extremely cold. The consequence was that the dysentery broke out
amongst us, and several fatal cases occurred.

At the close of the third days' march reports became current through the
camp that we should soon see the enemy. It was said that a force of ten
thousand horse and foot was about to take the field against us, and
Captain Outram was despatched towards Hyderabad, to ascertain the truth
of the story. He brought back information that the enemy were ensconced
within the walls of that town, and appeared to have little disposition
to leave them. We now began to find the difference between quarters and
camp, for the General thought it necessary to send out frequent
reconnoitering parties and pickets, in order to guard against surprise.

Early on the morning of the fifth day, we arrived at Tattah, a place of
considerable antiquity, and, I believe, mentioned in Holy Writ. The
Indus formerly washed the walls of this town, but owing to some natural
or artificial ingredient the course of the river has been completely
changed, and it now runs at about four miles distance.

Emerging from one of the most barren and desolate tracts of country that
it is possible to imagine, even the tombs of Tattah, or City of the
Dead, as it is called in the language of the natives, proved an
agreeable distraction to us. Tattah itself is a small, wretchedly built
town, containing little more than a thousand inhabitants, who are for
the most part of the Moslem religion. The few Hindoos who reside here
constitute the wealthier part of the trading community, but influential
as this fact would pre-suppose them, they are a persecuted and oppressed
race, the privilege of erecting places of worship within the precincts
of the town being not only denied them, but even the free exercise of
their religious rites. Aggressions of the most wanton and tyrannical
nature, and murders committed under circumstances of the most shocking
barbarity, and having their origin solely in religious jealousy, are
matters of no unfrequent occurrence here.

The Hindoos are consequently obliged to resort to the caves of the
neighbouring mountains, to practise their religious ceremonies, but the
relentless intolerance of their persecutors pursues them even there.
During our short stay we saw the bodies of two of the proscribed race,
who had been found murdered in one of their concealed temples.

The tombs of Tattah stand on a gentle eminence, at a short distance from
the town: they are of circular construction, and are, as nearly as I
could judge, from seventy to eighty feet in circumference, and from
thirty to forty feet in height. They are capped with domes, but their
external appearance presents nothing graceful or ornamental to the eye.
The interior is gained by a staircase, which ascends to an aperture
forming the entrance, about midway in the building, and a rudely
constructed ladder conducts the visitor downward to the basement, where
the bodies lie. The interior of the dome is lined with blue tiles richly
ornamented with arabesques and inscriptions from the Koran. There are
about a dozen of these remarkable monuments and they are clustered
together, without arrangement or regard for effect. Of the many sketches
taken at the time I have not seen one which conveys a correct idea of
their details. Although visited by nearly the whole of the troops, it is
a fact highly creditable to their good taste and feeling that no
mischief or desecration of any sort was committed. Sir John Keane, in a
general order issued before our departure, took occasion expressly to
allude to this circumstance, in terms alike honourable to himself and to
us.

A curious, and I must say revolting, instance of the gross superstition
of the Hindoos fell under my observation whilst at Tattah. At the
northern extremity of the bazaar I was shown some of the most miserable
specimens of humanity that can well be imagined. In a filthy mud hut,
the very aspect of which threatened contagion, sat two living skeletons
rocking themselves to and fro. They were without covering of any sort,
except the old blanket on which they sat, and their deep sunk eyes and
contracted features told a tale of long but patiently endured privation.
I was informed that these poor wretches were undergoing a self-inflicted
penance, for the non-performance of some religious rite. They had
condemned themselves for a period of seven years to a daily allowance of
rice and water, barely sufficient to prevent the extinction of the vital
powers. We offered them food, but they sternly rejected it. This
lamentable fanaticism on the part of a simple and inoffensive people is,
after all, but another and more harmless phase of the fierce bigotry,
which still continues to exist amongst European nations.

A _dâk_, or native postman, who had crossed the river from Bhooj with
letters for the camp, was waylaid by two Belochees as he was descending
towards it, by the left bank, and the letter bag taken from him. His
captors, having brought him to their retreat in the hills, secured his
hands behind his back, and lay down to sleep, one of them using the
letter bag as a pillow. The _dâk_ remained quiet, until their snoring
satisfied him they were sound asleep, and then slipping his hands out of
the ligatures, he stole over to the fellow who had the post-bag under
him, and placing his knee on his breast, cut his throat from ear to ear
with a knife, which he took from the mountaineer's person, and made off
with the bag. In about ten minutes after, he heard the Belochee close
upon his heels, and, redoubling his speed, a chase of nearly ten miles
ensued, in the course of which, the poor fellow had two or three times
nearly yielded from fatigue. The dreadful fate which awaited him, should
he fall into his pursuer's hands, flashed however across his mind, and
plucking up fresh strength and courage, he at length succeeded in
reaching the camp, but in so weak and exhausted a state that nature was
near sinking under the effort.

On the eve of our departure, a circumstance occurred which created a
very angry feeling between the inhabitants and the troops, and
occasioned much regret to the Commander-in-Chief, who was desirous that
our advance should not be marked by any thing which savoured of cruelty.
In consequence of the great increase of drunkenness amongst the European
troops, owing to the cheapness and abundance of liquor, strict orders
were issued against its being allowed into camp. One of the inhabitants
of Tattah, who was engaged in smuggling the prohibited article, was
stopped about dusk by a serjeant, who happened to be going his rounds.
The fellow took to his heels, and a sepoy, who was stationed as sentry
in the staff lines, mistaking him for a thief, and seeing him pass at a
speed which rendered capture out of the question, levelled his musket,
and shot him dead on the spot. He was a fine muscular fellow, about two
or three and twenty, and belonged to a respectable family in the town.
His friends immediately repaired to the scene in a numerous body, and
carried him off amidst the wailing and lamentation of the women. After
this it was considered dangerous for any of us to venture into the town
when nightfall had set in.

The army was now ordered to advance upon Jurruk, a town situated on the
banks of the Indus, at about a day's march from Tattah. It is better
built and cleaner than the latter place, and some of the streets are
covered over with thatched roofs, forming a series of rude arcades,
illuminated by oil lamps. Opthalmia is a common disease amongst the
natives, and several of the troops were attacked by it. Some of us also
suffered severely from the guinea worm, a malady, common in some parts
of Hindostan, and which, although not considered dangerous, is attended
with great pain. It generally attacks the feet, and has the effect of
effectually crippling the patient for the time. I have had one drawn out
of my right foot, which measured nearly half a yard in length, and I
have known others to have had no less than from seven to eight of them
at once. It being impossible for persons thus affected to march on foot
or even to mount on horseback, they were usually carried along with the
army in kajarvees, a sort of double-chair strung across the back of a
camel, and swinging with a see-saw movement that occasioned no small
additional suffering to the unfortunate occupant.

The spot selected for the encampment was extremely lovely, being
encircled by hills, and having the River Indus running on its right. As
the different regiments wound their way round the heights, and descended
into the plain where the tents were to be pitched, the scene would have
made a beautiful subject for a sketch. How often during a progress
through this wild and romantic country have I regretted the want of a
sufficient acquaintance with the art of design, to enable me to convey
to paper some of its more striking and characteristic features.

In consequence of the numerous thefts committed by the Belochees, who
daily carried off numbers of our camels, it became necessary to provide
them with guards whilst at pasturage. This, however, did not prevent the
plunderers from continuing their descents, and they became so hardy that
they sometimes even ventured to attack or carry off the guards
themselves. One day, whilst a party of the Poona Auxiliary Horse were in
charge of some camels about two miles from camp, the Belochees came
suddenly upon them. There were only six of our men, whilst the enemy
numbered twelve or fifteen. Nothing daunted, however, a gallant fellow
dashed out from amongst our men, and cut down three or four of the
marauders. Being quickly seconded by the others, the Belochees took to
flight, and the black hero dismounted, and cutting off the head of one
of his dead antagonists, strung it by the hair to his crupper, and
triumphantly rode into camp with it, amidst the acclamations of his
comrades. A more substantial reward was conferred upon him for this
daring exploit a few days afterwards by his promotion to the rank of
havildar or serjeant. This may be said to have been the first occasion
on which any of our troops came into actual collision with the enemy,
but the example which was made had little or no effect in restraining
the thefts of the Belochees who appeared to have an incorrigible taste
for this sort of adventure.



CHAPTER II.

Singular fate of three Officers of the Queen's Royals.--Evacuation of
Jurruk by the Inhabitants.--Desertions of Camel Drivers.--Preparations
for the attack and defence of Hyderabad.--Submission of the
Ameers.--Consternation of the Natives at the arrival of a Steamer in the
Indus.--Baida.--Accident to a Dragoon.--The Lukkee Pass.--Kotiah.--Loss
of two Soldiers of the 17th Foot.--Sehwan.--Arrival of Sir Henry
Fane.--Asiatic Jugglers.--Conversion of a European Soldier to the
Mahommedan faith.


A melancholy incident occurred at Jurruk, but whether it was occasioned
by accident or treachery we never could satisfactorily trace. Some
officers belonging to the Queen's Royals applied for leave to go hunting
in the preserves of the Ameers of Scinde, and having obtained it,
Lieutenant Sparkes Lieutenant Nixon and Dr. Hibbert, who constituted the
party, left the camp on foot at an early hour of the morning. Their
leave of absence expired at six o'clock the same evening, but none of
them had made their appearance at that hour. About half past eight a dog
belonging to Dr. Hibbert was observed returning into camp without his
master, which gave rise to gloomy apprehensions amongst his brother
officers, and the non return of any of the party by next morning,
confirmed their worst fears. It was immediately determined to send out a
troop of native cavalry to scour the country in search of them, and the
preserves were of course the first spot to which they directed their
horses. Part of the force dismounted at the Shirkagh or Royal Preserves,
and proceeded on foot for a considerable distance. Observing smoke
ascending in dense volumes to the right they made their way towards it,
and on gaining the spot a shocking sight presented itself. A large area
had been cleared by the flames, and not a blade of grass or brushwood
had been left. The body of Lieutenant Sparkes lay, dreadfully scorched
and mutilated, upon the ground, while that of Dr. Hibbert was found in a
tree, into which he had evidently climbed to escape the devouring
element. A little further on lay Lieutenant Nixon whose features were so
withered and defaced, that it was almost impossible to recognize him,
and from the contracted and distorted position in which his limbs were
found it was evident that he had suffered a more agonizing death than
the others. The remains of the three unfortunate officers were borne
back to the camp and interred with military honours. They were all
talented and spirited young men and their untimely fate was a source of
universal regret and discussion. By some it was contended that the
natives had observed them entering the preserves, and inspired by hate
had fired the woods in different places, so as effectually to surround
them and cut off all chance of escape. To such a degree did this
supposition obtain credence, that the soldiers of the Queen's Royals
loudly demanded to be allowed to take revenge on the inhabitants of the
district. This of course could not be permitted, and the clamour that
had been raised about the matter soon died away.

Shortly after our arrival an order came down from the Ameers of Scinde,
that the inhabitants of Jurruk should vacate the town and retreat to
Hyderabad. It was obeyed with great reluctance, the love of home being
stronger with these poor people than their fear of the British. Their
removal was one of the most distressing and painful scenes I have ever
witnessed, both men and women giving way to wild bursts of passionate
grief, and casting back long and lingering regards at the habitations
they had abandoned. They left in bodies of between two and three
hundred, carrying with them all their portable effects, and at night the
town was completely deserted. We neither interfered with, nor molested
them during their preparations for departure, but immediately on their
quitting, a strong picket was posted in some of the empty houses.

Provisions became extremely scarce in the camp, and owing to the
remissness of the Commissariat in forwarding the stores from Tattah, our
grog was reduced from two drams daily, to one dram on halting days. This
was attended with the worst possible effects, for it encouraged the
troops to search after the liquor of the country; which proved not only
injurious to the constitution of the soldier, but to the discipline of
the service. Desertion became of frequent occurrence, and from one
hundred to one hundred and fifty camel drivers from India, together with
some Ghorra Wallars, or native horsekeepers, succeeded in making their
way across the river to Cutch Bhooj. A few were caught, and from six to
twelve dozen lashes each were inflicted on the delinquents.

Captain Outram was again sent forward to Hyderabad on a mission to the
Ameers of Scinde, but they received him in the haughtiest manner and
refused to come to any sort of terms. The Captain found them fortifying
the hills round the city, under the superintendence of an European
officer, and he observed a battery of twenty pieces of cannon, posted on
the banks of the river. Twenty thousand Belochees armed with talwar,
shield, and matchlock, and two thirds of whom were dismounted, occupied
a position on the right bank, so as to protect the battery. Half of this
force subsequently moved across the river and took up a strong position
on the western bank, where we lay. The city was reported to be full of
armed men, and the idea of attacking it previous to our junction with
the Bengal army was regarded as worse than folly, the river being
eighteen hundred feet wide and our pontoons of insufficient length to
traverse it. The enemy, triumphing in our seeming inaction, sent
vaunting and threatening messages to us. The Commander-in-Chief took no
notice of their bravadoes, but silently made all the necessary
preparations for attacking the city as soon as he was joined by the
Bengal army. Strong cavalry pickets were thrown out on the hills to the
right, which commanded an extensive view of the surrounding country, and
the sound of drums and other military instruments was strictly
prohibited in camp.

On the 25th, Sir Henry Pottinger came into camp from Hyderabad, the
Ameers not only refusing to pay the arrears of tribute that were due,
but treating the Envoy with every sort of indignity. The Bengal army
having come through the Punjaub, and crossed the Indus at Roree was now
ready to act in conjunction with us on the right bank of the river, and
the Commander-in-Chief resolved to lose no further time in investing the
city. He accordingly commenced operations by planting a battery on some
heights which commanded its walls, but which were at too great a
distance for the guns to do much damage. To the great disappointment of
both officers and men, who already revelled in the anticipation of prize
money, the Ameers became alarmed at these demonstrations and came to
terms. An envoy, whose appearance created no small amusement in the
camp, was despatched from Hyderabad to adjust the necessary
preliminaries. He was a short, thick set old fellow, with a merry
twinkling eye, and as little as possible of what is called official
dignity about him. He brought with him from twenty to thirty lacs of
rupees, but the reception which he met with from Sir John Keane was not
calculated to elevate the worthy functionary in his own estimation.

Positive orders having been issued that neither officers nor men should
be allowed to enter Hyderabad on any pretence whatsoever, I am unable to
give my readers a description of the town. It appeared to be of
considerable extent, but of such little strength, that had the Ameers
driven matters to extremities, I have no doubt we should have carried
the place in an hour.

We were exceedingly amused at the surprise and consternation displayed
by the inhabitants of Hyderabad at the arrival of one of the iron
steamers in the Indus, with supplies for the troops from Bombay. Nearly
the whole of the population flocked down to the banks of the river to
behold this surprising phenomenon; they threw their arms in the air, and
flung themselves prostrate on the earth in perfect ecstacies of wonder
at every movement of the mysterious power which propelled the vessel.
The scene was nearly as ridiculous as that which greeted Columbus when
the first notions of European power and civilisation burst upon the
astonished minds of the simple aborigines of America.

After remaining a few days at Hyderabad the army resumed its march, and
arrived next evening at Baida. An accident occurred here, by which a
trooper of the 4th Light Dragoons lost his life. The banks of the river
were extremely steep, and as we were watering our horses the pressure
from behind forced a man named Helm into the river. He was instantly
carried away by the current, and was soon lost to view, although we
strained every effort to save him. His body floated down to Hyderabad,
and was recovered by the natives, who restored it to his commanding
officer, together with a belt full of rupees, which was found round his
waist.

Continuing our route we arrived at the Lukkee Pass, where we found some
thermal springs, from which the sick derived considerable benefit. A
noble lake at the further extremity of the defile afforded our officers
several days shooting and fishing, while the beautiful scenery, by which
it was surrounded on every side, furnished such of them as were artists
with fine subjects for the exercise of their pencil. Precipitous
heights, assuming every variety of fantastic form, stretched downward
to the water's edge, some in graceful sweeps, and others in bold and
threatening attitudes, whilst their bases were hid in rich woods or
washed by the waters of the lake.

Leaving this romantic spot with regret, we proceeded to Kotiah, where we
lost two soldiers belonging to her Majesty's 17th regiment of Foot. They
went out in search of some camels which were at pasturage and were never
afterwards seen or heard of. A party which was sent in search of them
found the marks of footsteps and some traces of blood on the spot where
the camels had been grazing, and from the torn up appearance which the
ground presented there was little doubt that they had made a desperate
struggle for their lives.

Not satisfied with carrying off our camels, the Belochees frequently
ventured within the lines after nightfall, and made off with any thing
they could lay their hands upon. Sir Keith Jackson, the Captain of my
own troop, detected a fellow with a bridle in his hand, which he was
watching an opportunity to slip off with unperceived, and taking his
hand whip he inflicted a most unmerciful castigation upon him. The
rascal whined and moaned like a corrected child during the progress of
the punishment, but as soon as he was let loose he stuck his tongue in
his cheek, and went laughing out of camp.

Our next destination was Sehwan, a thickly populated village, about
seventy English miles from Hyderabad. Here we were joined by the ever to
be lamented Sir Henry Fane, who was to have assumed the command of the
combined forces at their junction at Candahar, but who declined it in
disgust at the wretchedly organised state of the commissariat, and the
neglect which had been shown in providing for the contingencies of the
route. Sir Henry foresaw, and subsequent events justified his views,
that although supplies might be regularly forwarded from time to time,
it was extremely doubtful, nay almost next to impossible, that they
could reach an army always on the advance, through distant and
mountainous regions, and having enemies hanging on its rear who were but
too deeply interested in preventing their safe arrival.

Before Sir Henry left us he inspected the troops, and appeared satisfied
with the condition of the men, who had not as yet encountered hardships
sufficient to affect their appearance. There have been few men in
command whose personal qualities have more endeared him to those who
served under him than Sir Henry Fane. He was between sixty and seventy
years of age, at the time I speak of, and his venerable countenance,
beaming with the kindliest and most benevolent feelings, and manners
that had a parental touch about them, combined to render him one of the
most respected and popular officers in the army. We viewed his departure
from amongst us with the deepest regret, for though we felt the fullest
confidence in our then leader, this gallant veteran had so won upon our
affections that a comparison with him must have proved invidious to any
one.

The ingenuity of the Asiatic jugglers is well known, and I believe our
European exhibitors derive their proficiency, in a great measure, from
them, our soldiery carrying back with them the rudiments of this
respectable branch of knowledge, and turning their swords, if not into
ploughshares, at least into as peaceable and innocent a mode of gaining
a livelihood. An exhibition which took place during our short stay at
Sehwan made many of the "greenhorns" amongst us gape, and impressed them
with a very high notion of the favour in which the professors of the art
are held by his Satanic Majesty. Returning one day from the bazaar, I
observed a crowd of soldiers and natives assembled near the lines of the
Artillery. Elbowing my way through them I found a conjuror at his
tricks, and from the expensive and elaborate nature of the paraphernalia
by which he was surrounded, at once perceived that his pretensions were
of the highest order. He was attired in loose flowing robes, covered
with mystic characters; and a long white beard descended to his waist,
contrasting oddly with his jet black locks and piercing hazel eyes.
Surrounded by the various emblems and accessories of his art, he looked
a very imposing figure, and every movement which he made was regarded
with as much interest as if destiny really rested on his fiat. His only
assistants were a man who beat a _tom-tom_, or drum, to collect an
audience, and a beautifully formed girl about five or six years of age,
whose supple and graceful movements excited general admiration. Having
made a clear space of about thirty feet in diameter, the conjuror took
an oblong basket, about two feet in length, and one in breadth, the
interior of which he exhibited to the spectators, in order to convince
them that nothing was concealed in it. After performing a variety of
common-place tricks, such as balancing a sword upon a pipe and then
swallowing the blade, he suddenly turned towards the child and addressed
her in an angry tone of voice. She made some reply which appeared to
make him still more choleric, for his features became swollen with rage,
and his eyes shot glances of fire. The discussion continuing in the same
violent strain he appeared no longer able to control his fury, and
suddenly seizing the child by the waist, he opened the basket and
crammed her into it. The half stifled cries of the girl were distinctly
heard, but they only appeared to enrage him the more. Snatching a sword,
which lay near him, he plunged it to the hilt in the basket, twice or
thrice, and every time he drew it out it was reeking with gore. The half
smothered groans and sobs of the dying child at length convinced several
of the spectators that a murder had been committed, and two or three
soldiers rushed into the circle for the purpose of seizing the criminal.
Triumphantly smiling at the success of the cheat, he held them at bay
with the sword for a few minutes, when, to our great surprise, the child
bounded into the circle, unscathed, from amidst the crowd, though we had
kept our eyes attentively fixed on the basket all the time. Suspecting
that two children had been employed, I examined the basket, but found no
trace of an occupant, and saw nothing in its construction which could
have aided the deception. This clever trick was loudly applauded, and
brought its author a plentiful harvest of pice and cowries, while many
there were who went away with the firm conviction that it could only
have been effected through the agency of the devil himself.

We had left a number of sick behind us at Tattah, with instructions that
they should be conveyed in pattemars up the river Indus, and rejoin us
at Sehwan. A boat containing a corporal and five men was stranded on the
banks of the river, and was with some difficulty got off. The soldiers
were so prostrated with fever that they could scarcely move, and in
this state they arrived at Sehwan. To their great distress they found
that the army had proceeded on its route, and one of their companions
expired immediately after their arrival. The heat of the sun was
intolerable, and the corpse began to putrify. In vain they implored the
native boatmen to inter it or cast it in the river, but they preferred
running the risk of infection to touching the dead body of an infidel.
The corporal, who was well acquainted with the language of the country,
entreated some of the natives who crowded to the banks to remove the
body, but they remained deaf to his prayers. Resorting to a stratagem
which he thought would have the effect of removing their religious
scruples, he asserted that the deceased had died in the Mahommedan
faith, and commanded them on pain of the displeasure of the Prophet, to
give him decent interment. At first they looked incredulous, but the
corporal swore loud and fast, and they were at length convinced. They
removed the body, and placing it on a sort of bier, somewhat similar to
a sailor's hammock, carried it on shore. Having swathed it in cotton
cloths, and laid it with the feet towards the setting sun, they decked
the head and breast with flowers, and bore it in procession to the place
of interment, which was situated in a romantic spot on the banks of the
Indus. The companions of the deceased proceeded on their route,
rejoicing in the success of the corporal's trick, and rejoined the main
body without further accident.



CHAPTER III.

Larkhana.--Departure of the Commander-in-Chief for Candahar.--Capture of
Belochee Thieves.--Ludicrous scene in the Bazaar.--Tremendous
Hurricane.--An Irish Colonel's appeal to his men.--Murder of cooks
belonging to the Army.--A native funeral.--The Bholun Pass.--Massacre of
Camp Followers.--Ill-timed Merriment.--Animal Instinct.


Leaving Sehwan we crossed the Indus in pontoons, and entered a fertile
tract of country. Our route lay through rich pasturage and waving fields
of corn, occasionally diversified by rivers and lakes, the latter of
which we found well stocked with fish and game. The natives did not
exhibit any symptoms of fear at our approach, but continued peaceably
tilling and cultivating their lands. Proceeding by rapid marches we at
length reached Larkhana, the boundary which divides Upper and Lower
Scinde. It is a place of considerable importance, and contains from
seven to eight thousand inhabitants. Long cloths are manufactured here
in considerable quantities, and a brisk trade is carried on, in various
other articles with the mountain tribes. Sir John Keane now quitted us
to proceed to Candahar, where he was to assume the command of the Grand
Army of the Indus. He was accompanied by two squadrons of Native
Cavalry, one resselah of Local Horse, a regiment of Native Infantry, and
two pieces of artillery. The command of this division consequently
devolved upon Major General Wiltshire.

The Belochees again favoured us with a visit and carried away about a
dozen camels from the encampment. A troop of cavalry was ordered out in
pursuit, and after a hot chase succeeded in coming up with the
marauders. They immediately abandoned their prey and made off to the
hills, but not before they had left three or four of their party in our
hands. Resolved to make an example which would deter them from repeating
the offence, General Wiltshire ordered the cat to be liberally
administered to them in the Bazaar. The senior of the party was first
tied up, and it was evident, from the trepidation he was in, that he
expected no less than the punishment of death. He begged and implored
for mercy, and finding that no attention was paid to his supplications,
he took leave of one of the other culprits, who turned out to be his
son, and resigned himself to die. Tied up, as he was, and unable to
observe the expression of our countenances, which were convulsed with
laughter, in anticipation of the scene that was about to follow, he
every moment expected to hear the report of the musket, or feel the blow
of the sabre that was to deal out his doom. The moment, however, the cat
descended on his shoulders, the terrified expression of his face changed
into that of the most extravagant joy. He smiled and nodded at his son,
and bore his four dozen lashes with the joyful patience of a martyr,
suffering in the vindication of some holy cause.

On being set loose the culprits were informed that if they were ever
again detected in the commission of similar offences they would be shot,
without mercy, and they were ordered to disseminate this useful piece of
information amongst their comrades of the hills.

Pursuing our route from Larkhana we encamped the same evening at Dooson,
and were visited during the night by a terrific hurricane. Arising
without any previous indication, the tempest came suddenly upon us in
our sleep, sweeping the tents before it, and enveloping us in
whirlwinds of white sand. The night being pitch dark we were soon in the
greatest distress and confusion, and to add to our embarrassments the
horses broke loose and ran wild amongst us. They killed two of the camp
followers, and injured several others by treading them under foot, and
the alarm which they created was as great as if the enemy had made a
sudden irruption amongst us. To this succeeded a scene of rioting and
squabbling, one having lost a shaco, another a jacket, and another his
shoes. Accusations and denials, oaths, vociferations, and complaints of
injuries received, formed altogether a pleasant medley; and glad enough
we were when the first streak of dawn threw some light on this scene of
horrible confusion. After lasting about two hours, heavy drops of rain
announced the approaching cessation of the tempest, but we only
exchanged one discomfort for another, being soon drenched to the skin.

After two days further march we arrived at a wretched village, which
separates Upper Scinde from Belochistan, and which is only entitled to
notice as forming the boundary of a desert plain, about fifty miles in
extent, and completely divested of vegetation, the white soil lying
exposed to, and reflecting back with intensity, the scorching rays of
the sun. There were only two wells at the village, and there was a
fierce contest for precedence at them, it being known that there was
neither spring nor stream of any kind in the desert which we were about
to traverse. The Infantry entered on this cheerless waste about three in
the afternoon and the Cavalry followed about five. The former were fully
accoutred, and carried sixty rounds of ball cartridge each. At two
o'clock the following morning the cavalry overtook them and the general
halt sounded. So great was the fatigue of the infantry that numbers
threw themselves upon the ground in despair, declaring, it was
impossible for human nature to sustain more, and they could proceed no
further. It must be borne in mind that our rations had, for two months
previous, consisted of only half a pound of flour and an equal quantity
of red rice, with about four ounces of meat, and the latter was in some
instances of no use to us, from the difficulty of procuring fuel to cook
it. The order of march having been again given, several refused to move
from sheer exhaustion, and their situation became one of great
embarrassment to their colonel, who was aware that if he left them
behind, they would be instantly sabred by the enemy, who were always
hovering on our rear. Recollecting it was St. Patrick's Day, and that
most of the recusants were Irishmen, he ordered, as a last resource,
that the band of the regiment should strike up their national anthem.
The effect was electrical, the poor devils, whose limbs, a short time
previous, had refused to perform their accustomed office, and whose
countenances wore the aspect of the most abject despondency, seemed at
once to have new life and energy infused into them. They felt that this
was an appeal to their proverbial bravery and powers of endurance, and
gratified vanity did that which threats and remonstrances had failed to
effect. A faint smile lit up their features, and slowly rising from the
ground they tottered on their way. Had they adhered to their first
determination they would have fallen victims to the most savage
cruelties, as the following circumstance will soon convince the
reader:--

Three of the cooks belonging to our division, who followed with the camp
kettles at a short distance in its wake, lost their way in the darkness
of the night, and as chance would have it, stumbled upon a party of the
enemy. They were immediately seized, and each man was bound by the wrist
to the saddle of a Belochee horseman. The cries of the unfortunate men
having reached the rear-guard, which consisted of the Native Auxiliary
Horse, they turned in pursuit, and soon came in sight of the enemy,
whose figures were dimly visible in the obscurity which prevailed. As
soon as they heard them galloping up the Belochees spurred their horses
to their utmost speed, dragging their prisoners along with them at a
terrific pace. Finding their pursuers gained upon them they stooped
down, and with their broad knives ripped up two of their victims from
the abdomen to the throat, and then cast them loose. The third, more
fortunate, escaped with life, the Belochee to whose saddle he was
attached having freed him by cutting off his left arm with a blow of his
sabre: then wheeling round on our horse, who were now almost up with
them, the enemy took deliberate aim at the advancing troopers, and
having killed two, and severely wounded another, they plunged into the
darkness and succeeded in baffling pursuit.

We reached the extremity of this barren waste by seven o'clock next
morning, and encamped at the bottom of a steep hill where there was
abundance of excellent water. The cupidity of the inhabitants of the
neighbouring villages, having got the better of their apprehensions,
several of them ventured into the camp with supplies of flour, which was
eagerly purchased from them by the soldiery, at the rate of about half a
crown the lb. The risk which they ran was great, for if the fact had
been discovered, they would, in all probability, have been massacred by
the mountain chief. The profits which they realised by the adventure,
must however, have well repaid them for the hazard.

Descending the hills to our right, we one day observed a funeral
procession; and curious to witness the ceremonies performed on those
occasions I followed at a little distance. The corpse was swathed in
cotton bandages like a mummy, the head only being left exposed, and it
was borne on a bamboo bier, or stretcher, on the shoulders of four men.
The relations and friends of the deceased gave vent to their grief in
the bitterest lamentations, and there appeared a depth and sincerity in
their woe which is but too often wanting at our European rites. The
procession was headed by a Faquir or priest, whose rolling eyes, and
long dishevelled locks, gave him a wild and unearthly appearance. His
costume was no less singular than his looks, for it consisted of a
motley sort of garment, composed of patches of almost every colored
cloth, with a cap or rather a crown of peacock's feathers. Arrived at
the place of interment, which was situated in the valley, the procession
halted at a freshly dug grave, and the bier was laid beside it. The
crowd formed themselves into a circle round it, and the Faquir holding
up a small idol, commenced an oration in which he expatiated on the
merits of the deceased. The crowd having prostrated themselves, the
Faquir took a reddish sort of powder, and made a large mark with it on
the forehead of the dead man; then taking a basket of freshly pulled
flowers and herbs he scattered them over the body and into the grave.
The mourners rising from the ground, and walking in single files round
the bier made a respectful salaam towards it, after which the corpse was
lowered perpendicularly into the earth, and the grave filled up. At the
conclusion, the Faquir sat himself on a stone at a short distance from
the grave, and remained there quietly smoking his hookah, and
philosophising, as all good Faquirs should do, on the uncertainty of
mundane things.

Our next destination was Dadur, where we were to form a junction with a
portion of the Bengal forces. The distance is only a day's march, and
nothing of interest occurred on the route. On approaching the encampment
of the Bengal troops, I could not help being struck with their superior
appearance. It was evident that their commissariat was better organized
than ours, for their camp equipage and other appointments were in all
respects complete, and they were abundantly supplied with necessaries of
every kind. This disparity was, in some degree, removed before we left
Dadur, by the arrival of additional supplies from Bombay.

A few days having been passed in recruiting our strength after these
fatiguing marches, we at length received orders to advance on the
celebrated Bholun Pass. Nothing could be more calculated to awaken us to
the difficulties of our position, or to impress us with the uncertainty
of the fate that awaited us, than the imposing grandeur of the scenery
on which we now entered. Let the reader picture to himself a gloomy
looking gorge winding through two ranges of stupendous hills, whose
rugged masses of rock and hanging declivities impend over the narrow
route as if about to choke it up, or recede a short distance to some
fortress-like looking freak of nature from whose imaginary bastions and
parapets it seemed easy to hurl down destruction and death on the
passenger, and he may easily imagine that our feelings were not of the
liveliest or most comfortable nature. A handful of men could have
effectually stopped our progress had there been but another Leonidas
amongst the wild inhabitants of this magnificent defile, whose military
skill and resolution would have enabled him to seize upon, and maintain
its many points of defence. We could not conceal from ourselves
difficulties so apparent, and a general and undefined feeling of
uneasiness pervaded us all. We felt that if the enemy had any intention
of resisting us they would not lose opportunities which nature herself
appeared to indicate; and it was but too obvious that if they only knew
how to avail themselves of the formidable barriers which she had placed
against invasion, our situation would become critical in the extreme.
Once involved in the intricacies of the Pass, the superior knowledge of
the country possessed by the natives, and their familiarity with
mountain warfare would enable them to harrass us at every step, and a
well planned and daring attack might at once overwhelm us. Such were the
reflections that suggested themselves to almost every man's mind, and
many there were, I dare say, who just then thought of home, and
speculated whether it would ever be his lot to revisit its peaceful
fireside, and recount the dangers of which he had been the hero.

The Bengal troops who preceded us through the Pass left behind them sad
proofs of the justice of some of these conclusions. We found from five
and twenty to thirty camp followers lying dead upon their track, the
throats of several having been cut, and the others bearing on their
mutilated persons the unequivocal evidence of a desperate hand to hand
struggle. As we advanced through the gorge we could observe the
Belochees peering at us over the jutting points of the precipices, and
the sharp report of their gingalls and matchlocks, which, luckily for
us, were not very sure in their aim, usually followed the brief
inspection by which we were favoured. Observing a camp follower leading
a camel at some distance in the rear, three of the mountaineers suddenly
darted from a fissure in the rock in which they had lain concealed, and
having cut the poor fellow down, led the animal up the ascent by one of
those diverging tracks like sheep walks, with which these hills abound.
A serjeant belonging to the Horse Artillery, who happened to witness the
circumstance, instantly galloped back, and gallantly dashing his horse
up the mountain succeeded in sabreing the nearest of the thieves, and
brought back the camel amidst a shower of balls from the neighbouring
heights.

Within a few miles of the Affghanistan boundary the gorge is traversed
by a stream which winds like a snake through the sinuosities of the
Pass, and crosses it no less than sixteen times. Although it presents
for the most part, the appearance of an insignificant mountain rivulet,
it is, in many places studded with deep and dangerous holes, into which
the cavalry often plunged, and got a good sousing before they were aware
of it. Shouts of laughter usually escaped the comrades of the luckless
wight who became thus involved, and on one occasion a tragedy had nearly
resulted from their ill-timed merriment. An Irish trooper, named Dwyer,
a brave, but hot-blooded fellow, like most of his countrymen was feeling
his way cautiously through the stream, when both horse and rider
stumbled, and became instantly lost to view. Some alarm was at first
experienced for their safety, but it gave way to a roar of laughter when
we beheld them again emerging from the water. After several successive
attempts to disengage himself, the horse at length obtained a secure
footing, and Dwyer, wheeling him suddenly round upon us with a
countenance furious with rage, drew a pistol from his holster and fired
at a group of seven or eight men, who stood close to the spot, but
fortunately without effect. The madman was immediately placed under
arrest, but was released after a few days' confinement.

On approaching Beebenaunce towards the close of the fourth day's march,
we found another stream where the Cavalry dismounted, for the purpose of
filling their canteens with water, while the Infantry were distributed
so as to protect them. We had been marching for several hours under a
scorching sun, and over a stony and rugged road, which rendered constant
watchfulness and exertion necessary to prevent the horses from falling
on their knees. Tormented by an insatiable thirst, we were about to
slake it, when it was discovered that the stream was polluted by the
putrifying bodies of several of dead Affghans, and followers of the
Bengal Army; the spot having been the scene of a deadly contest which
had occurred some days previous. The struggle between the loathing which
this circumstance created and the pressing calls of nature was however
of short duration. Not a man of us hesitated to drink from the
contaminated liquid, but the horse which I rode, being imbued with
keener senses than his master, positively refused to partake of it,
though almost dropping with fatigue and thirst. I took him lower down
the stream, where his fastidiousness being no longer offended he
indulged in a long and copious draught.



CHAPTER IV.

Skirmish with the Enemy.--Belochee Waggery.--Cleverly planned Capture
of a Bruhee.--Sufferings from want of water.--Valley of
Shawle.--Quettah.--Belochee cruelties.--Adventure in a Stone
Quarry.--Treachery of the Khan of Khelat.--Murder of another
Cook.--Poisoning of the Wells.--Fortunate Discovery.


We were about to quit the Pass at the close of the eighth day's march,
when the enemy made another and more successful attempt at plunder.
Emboldened by the absence of the Infantry, which was at a considerable
distance in the rear, they descended the heights in greater numbers
than usual, and attacked the camp followers in charge of the officers'
baggage. The latter took to flight, and the Belochees commenced
pillaging the trunks and cases. Amongst the property carried off was a
camel belonging to Brigadier Scott, which was laden with the whole of
the general's kit. A party of the 4th Dragoons, under the command of
Lieutenant Gillespie, at length galloped up and put the enemy to flight.
There were only three men wounded and three horses killed on our side,
whilst the Belochees left great numbers of dead on the ground.

During the heat of the firing a mistake occurred, which at first
occasioned some alarm, but was soon converted into a burst of
uncontrollable merriment. Our men had driven the last of the enemy up
the hill, the latter peppering away at them from every rock or crevice
where they could find shelter, when our attention was arrested by the
appearance of a general officer on the heights to our left, who
appeared to be making signs to us. It was at first supposed that one of
our leaders had fallen into the hands of the enemy, and universal
consternation prevailed. The General at length took off his shaco, and
advancing to the very edge of the precipice, waved it in the air as if
to cheer us on to his rescue, when to our infinite amusement we
discovered it was the fellow who had made off with the Brigadier's kit,
and who, after examining the contents of it, had rigged himself out in
full uniform. The rocks echoed with laughter, and the _pseudo_ general
appeared to enjoy the fun as much as any of us, for he capered about in
a perfect ecstacy of delight, and gave expression to his contentment in
the most delectable yells. A shower of balls was at length directed
against him, and the Brigadier's swarthy representative came tumbling
down the precipice to render himself and his briefly enjoyed honours
into our hands.

Amongst the booty carried off upon this occasion were the wind
instruments belonging to the 1st Bombay Cavalry, and a bullock,
carrying two packages of ball ammunition, which contained 500 rounds
each. Some amusement was created amongst us by speculations as to the
probable use that would be made of the former, the humour displayed in
the appropriation of General Scott's kit having given us a high idea of
the waggish propensities of the enemy. Our fun was however turned into
mortification when we beheld them cutting our ball ammunition into slugs
to fit the bore of their gingalls, and sending it back to us from the
heights in as wholesale quantities as they had taken it.

In the course of the skirmish a feat was performed by two of the native
troops, which was watched with the most intense interest. A Bruhee (a
fierce and warlike tribe, distinguished by their inveterate hostility
towards the black troops in our service,) had taken shelter behind a
rock, about midway up the mountain, and kept up a constant fire on some
native cavalry beneath. Two of the Sepoys belonging to the Bombay
Native Infantry observing the circumstance, determined on effecting his
capture, and laying down their muskets at the foot of the hill, they
crept stealthily up. Whenever the fellow's flashing eyes were observed
on a line with the rock, searching for an object for his aim, they
crouched under cover until the discharge of his gingall satisfied them
he was about to reload. They then rapidly advanced to his lurking place,
and pouncing suddenly upon him conveyed him down the hill. The prisoner
had such a horror of falling into our hands that he several times
implored his captors to put an end to him on the spot. They took no
notice of his entreaties until they had reached the bottom of the hill,
where they had laid their arms, when a havildar meeting them inquired if
they had not heard of the orders, that no prisoners should be brought
into camp. "I knew nothing about it," replied one of the soldiers; "but
this I do know that he is a stout-hearted fellow, and deserves a better
fate." "_I_ understand you," exclaimed the other Sepoy, and taking his
musket he placed the muzzle of it to the prisoner's head, and literally
covered the serjeant with his brains.

The quantity of carrion which we every where left upon our route
attracted numbers of the ravening beasts of prey with which these hills
abound, and we could not rest at night from the dismal howling which
surrounded us. Even the new made graves of our comrades did not escape
the keen and hungering scent of the jackall, their remains being
scarcely interred before we found them again torn up, their whitening
bones alone attesting the nature of the visitation. Amongst the greatest
of our annoyances, however, was the intolerable stench which proceeded
from the putrefying bodies of the camels, that lay scattered every where
upon our track, and which was enough to breed a mortality.

As we emerged from the Pass into the open country, the heights became
literally alive with Belochees, who gave expression to their rage and
disappointment in the most absurd and violent gesticulations. We
bivouacked late at night in the open plain, after a fatiguing and
harassing march of twelve hours, during which we had been unable to
procure a drop of water. The same privation awaited us in the place
where we passed the night, and the sufferings of both men and cattle
were dreadful. It was not until six o'clock next day that we fell in
with a stream that traversed the road to Quettah, and were able to
satisfy the thirst which consumed us. We were now in the valley of
Shawle, which presented a most agreeable contrast to the barren hills
through which we had just passed: here we found a succession of vast
orchards, whose fruit trees bursting into blossom and gladdening the
wearied eye with a variety of the most beautiful tints recalled to most
of us the pleasant scenery of dear old England.

On our arrival at Quettah the troops underwent a medical inspection, and
it was determined that the sick should be left behind. A depôt was
accordingly established here, consisting of one regiment of Bengal
Infantry, one company of European Foot Artillery, some heavy ordnance,
and some Gikwar, or native horsemen, the whole under the command of
Brigadier-General Nott. This arrangement was reported to have given rise
to some angry altercation between the latter officer and Sir John Keane
previous to the departure of the Commander-in-Chief for Candahar,
General Nott being indignant at being thus invalided and debarred his
share in the danger and glories of the campaign. We remained at Quettah
about a week, the condition of both men and horses being such as to
render rest necessary. The supplies which we obtained from the Bengal
column and the rich pasturage of the surrounding country soon refreshed
and re-invigorated us, and we pursued our route in renewed health and
spirits.

Leaving Quettah, we again entered a barren and mountainous district
which presented few traces of cultivation, and which afforded little or
no pasturage for our cattle. In order to embarrass us the more the
Belochees lay on the watch for the parties who were sent out to cut
grass, and maimed and mutilated them in the most shocking manner. One
poor fellow had his ears slit, and another received injuries which
rendered the amputation of an arm necessary. The thefts of cattle,
however, became less numerous, the cutting off the supplies of forage
being deemed a less hazardous and equally effectual mode of impeding our
progress.

So serious became this change in the tactics of the enemy that it was
resolved to increase the number of men sent out on the foraging
expeditions. This did not, however, deter the Belochees from repeating
their attacks, and on one occasion they drove in a party consisting of a
considerable number of native soldiers, and succeeded in making three or
four of the grass-cutters prisoners. A squadron of her Majesty's 4th
Light Dragoons was immediately ordered out in pursuit under the command
of Major Daly. We proceeded towards the hills at full gallop, and at
length came in sight of the enemy who were in a close body of from three
to four hundred. They suddenly disappeared from view, although the
country was still a perfect level, and presented no apparent means of
concealment. On reaching the spot we found they had ensconced themselves
in a large stone pit or quarry, into which it was impossible for cavalry
to penetrate, and a sharp and well directed fire from all the salient
points of the rocks affording the least shelter, indicated to us their
different lurking places. Patiently watching our opportunities we sent a
volley into every recess or cavity where a rag was to be seen
fluttering, and Major Daly observing a party of about ten or twelve
clustered in some bushes which lay almost within a bound of his horse
gallantly dashed the animal down the descent, followed by Lieutenant
Janvrin, the quarter-master of the regiment, and with a couple of hog
spears, which they happened to have with them they dispatched several of
the party. The others made their escape by plunging deeper into the
recesses of the quarry.

The night now setting in, the Belochees took advantage of the obscurity
to steal out of their lair and creep through our lines one by one. They
did not get off, however, without further loss. Hearing a rustling noise
within a few feet of me, whilst on the watch, I listened attentively and
felt convinced that some of them were endeavouring to effect their
escape by crawling along the ground on their hands and knees. I plunged
my spurs in my horse and clearing the distance at a bound, just as I
observed two men rising from the ground, I cut them both down,
notwithstanding a most determined resistance, in the course of which
they fired twice at me. Several others were disposed of in like manner,
but no prisoners were made. We returned to camp about nine o'clock, well
satisfied with the issue of our adventure.

The grass cutters who had been made prisoners, and who were abandoned
when it was found that our pursuit was likely to prove successful, had
received no other injury at the hands of the enemy, than a severe
thrashing with a bamboo. The poor fellows were terribly frightened, and
felt most grateful for their deliverance.

Major Daly and two privates were severely wounded in this affair. Beside
a thrust of a sabre in the chest the Major received a musket ball in the
left foot, which disabled him for some time from active service. We also
found that several of the horses had been injured, it being a favourite
trick of the enemy to hamstring them, or rip their bellies open,
whenever they could get within reach of the animals.

A treacherous trick played us by one of the neighbouring chiefs, the
Khan of Khelat, added in no small degree to the difficulties we had to
encounter. The Khan had promised allegiance to Shah Soojah, and
undertook to facilitate the progress of the British troops through his
territories. Instead of fulfilling the friendly professions he had made
towards us, he interdicted the villagers from bringing supplies to the
camp, and cut off almost all the mountain streams. Several of the camp
followers who ventured out in search of water, were either carried off
or murdered, and our situation became distressing in the extreme. In one
day's march of fifteen miles, we left upon our track the bodies of
nearly one hundred men, who died from sheer physical exhaustion.

Continuing our progress towards the Khojuck heights, where we expected
to meet with determined opposition, we lost a number of men on the route
from their own imprudence in venturing at a distance from the camp after
dusk. One of them, a Portuguese cook, belonging to my own regiment, lost
his way in proceeding to the bazaar for necessaries, and fell into the
hands of the Belochees, who were always hanging on our rear. His cries
being heard by some soldiers returning from the bazaar, they ran towards
the spot from whence the noise proceeded, and were received with a
volley of bullets. They did not of course venture farther, being
ignorant of the number of the enemy, but on procuring assistance from
the camp, they discovered the cook with his throat cut, the head being
nearly severed from the shoulders.

Sickness now increased alarmingly amongst us, owing to the bad quality
of the attar or flour, as well as the reduction in our usual quantity of
rations. The cattle were little better off, and the difficulties of the
route increased at almost every step. Water continued as scarce as ever,
for the natives filled up or concealed part of the wells and poisoned
the remainder. Of the latter fact, we received intimation in time to
prevent accidents, and chance befriended us as regarded the former.
After a harassing day's march some soldiers of the 17th Infantry, who
had set out in search of water, were unsuccessful and were bewailing
their hard fate, when the unusual moistness of the place where they had
pitched their tent attracted their notice. They sounded the ground and
finding it hollow, immediately arrived at the conclusion that it was a
well that had been freshly covered over. Further examination confirmed
this supposition, and about half an hour's work revealed a deep hole to
their sight, in which they found a spring of excellent water. This
discovery created such joy and frantic eagerness in the camp that the
authorities were obliged to place a strong guard with loaded muskets
over it in order to keep back the pressure of the crowds who flocked to
it.

In the course of the next day's march we came upon a part of the road
which was literally strewn with human skeletons and broken matchlocks.
Of the various surmises current amongst us as to the occasion of this
wholesale butchery, the most probable was, that one of the caravans
travelling to Candahar had been attacked and overpowered by one of the
marauding tribes of the district.



CHAPTER V.

The Khojuck Pass.--Descent of the Troops.--Shocking Death of a Camel
Driver.--Detection and Escape of an Affghan Thief.--Loss of Cavalry
Horses.--Candahar.--Arrival of Shah Soojah.--Condition of
the Troops.--Attempt of the Natives to cut off a Convoy of
Provisions.--Asiatic Mendicants.--The Mosque at Candahar.--Arrival of
Affghan Auxiliaries.


We reached the Khojuck Pass in the expectation of finding it occupied by
the forces of Dost Mahommed, but contrary to general anticipation it was
abandoned. We learned that the Dost had visited the place a few days
before, in company with several of his chiefs, when the prudence of
disputing our passage was discussed. Owing to some violent differences
of opinion amongst the subordinate chiefs, the idea was abandoned, and
the enemy fell back towards Candahar. How different might have been the
fate of the expedition but for this impolitic and cowardly step. To
enable the reader to judge of its importance a brief description of the
Pass will be necessary.

Ascending an eminence of no great height a platform of rock is gained,
from which a glorious view bursts upon the sight. Immediately beneath is
a steep declivity, along whose rugged sides winds the narrow road, while
a chasm of immense depth yawns beneath, and threatens to engulph the
luckless passenger should he chance to slip as he treads his way down
the difficult and dangerous descent. Receding into the far distance lie
long ranges of blue mountains broken at intervals into open plains and
valleys, whose calm and smiling aspect contrasts well with the frowning
majesty of the neighbouring heights.

Nothing could be finer than the view which presented itself as our
troops wound round the brow of this tremendous precipice, their arms
glittering in the sun, and their uniforms imparting a gay and dazzling
variety to the sober hues of the stunted herbage with which its sides
were clad. The Infantry, consisting of several companies of the Queen's
Royals and a party of the 17th regiment were ordered to line the heights
in order to protect the descent of the Artillery and Cavalry, together
with the heavy baggage. So steep was the road (if road it could be
called) that the Cavalry were obliged to dismount and lead their horses,
bridle in hand, and the Artillery to unlimber their guns and drag them
down the precipice, a task, as the reader may conceive, of no small
labour and difficulty. About half way down, a camel, laden with camp
equipage, missed its footing and was precipitated into the abyss with
its conductor, and both were of course, immediately dashed to pieces.
We reached the plain without any further mishap about six o'clock the
same evening, and had every reason to congratulate ourselves that the
cowardice or negligence of the enemy had prevented them from disputing
our passage.

Having halted at the bottom of the Pass two days so as to enable the
remainder of the heavy ordnance and baggage to descend we proceeded
towards Candahar. The enemy occasionally made their appearance, and
though not caring to face us in the field, continued to harass us
severely by hanging on our rear, and cutting off the stragglers. Nor did
they abate in the least in their love of thieving, robberies being just
as frequent, and characterised by as much ingenuity and daring as ever.
Late one night I was on sentry before the tent of Lieutenant Kemp when a
rustling noise attracted my notice; on looking attentively towards the
spot from whence it proceeded, I perceived an Affghan crawling towards
the tent on his hands and knees, and suffering him to enter, in order
the more easily to secure him, I surprised him as he was in the act of
plundering it. The fellow was completely naked, and on my attempting to
lay hold of him he slipped through my fingers like an eel, owing to the
quantity of grease with which his person was smeared, and succeeded in
clearing the lines in safety. I did not shoot him because positive
orders had been issued against shots being fired in camp, which had
before given rise to many groundless alarms.

The weather now became excessively hot, the thermometer being 125
degrees in the shade, which rendered it necessary that we should
prosecute our way either in the cool of the morning or at night. The
nights were so beautiful that the latter could not be deemed a hardship,
and had the scenery been but equal to that through which we had just
passed, it could not have been seen to greater advantage than under
these clear delicious moonlights. Nothing, however, can be more flat or
uninteresting than the country between the Khojuck Pass and Candahar.
The only thing that might be said to have broken the monotony of the
route was an occasional shot which told the fate of some poor horse,
who, having been broken down by fatigue and privation, and rendered
incapable of further exertion, was mercifully put out of pain by its
rider. There were nearly fifty head of cattle disposed of in this way
between the Pass and Candahar, a pretty item in the expenses of the
campaign, when it is borne in mind that each of them had cost from fifty
to sixty pounds in India. Had we come in contact with the enemy at
Candahar as we expected, I have no doubt the Cavalry would have been
found wholly ineffective from the jaded and worn-out condition of their
horses.

We arrived at Candahar on the 4th. of May, and effected a junction with
the remainder of the Bengal forces under Sir Willoughby Cotton. Here we
were also joined by Shah Soojah in company with Sir William McNaghten
and Sir Alexander Burnes. The dethroned monarch immediately took
possession of his ancestral palace, which had just been evacuated by the
enemy. The reverses of fortune to which these Asiatic sovereigns are
subject have so steeled them against adversity, that I doubt if his
Majesty was agitated, even by a passing emotion, at this important
event. If he felt at all, it was perhaps more a sensation of fear than
joy, for he could not conceal from himself the fact, that the opinions
of his subjects were arraigned to a man against him, and that under such
circumstances his tenure of sovereignty would in all probability be
terminated by a bloody death.

Tired as we were of the harassing mountain warfare in which we had been
engaged, and anxious to strike a blow which would decide the fate of the
Campaign, we were yet agreeably disappointed at the evacuation of
Candahar by the enemy. We were greatly in need of rest after the long
and fatiguing marches, which we had made; and the deplorable condition
in which we found ourselves, as regarded supplies, rendered it highly
impolitic to bring us just then in face of the enemy. Sickness had
increased alarmingly amongst us, but in this respect we did not find our
position improved, for the excessive heat which prevailed during our
stay here carried off great numbers of the men.

Although the bazaar was plentifully supplied with meat and fruit, flour
was difficult to be obtained, the stock on hand having been eagerly
bought up by the troops on their arrival. The traders turned the
scarcity of this necessary article to profitable account, for they only
gave 2lb. to the rupee instead of 40lb., the usual proportion. We had
been living on half rations, and these not of the best quality, for
nearly a month previous, and had looked forward to our arrival at
Candahar for some addition to the quantity, but so far was this from
being the case, that it was found necessary to put the camp followers on
the same allowance, and it was not until three weeks after our arrival
that an increase and that not the full one, was served out to us.

We were in daily expectation of the arrival of a convoy of six hundred
camels laden with provisions and grain, but intelligence having been
brought us that the Affghans lay in way to intercept it, it was thought
advisable to send out a force consisting of two squadrons of native
cavalry, a party of her Majesty's 13th Light Infantry and two field
pieces for its protection. The enemy being informed by their spies of
this movement, fell back to the hills, and the supplies were brought in
safety to the camp. The native contractor who furnished them, was
offered a bribe of 10,000 rupees by Dost Mahommed to direct his camels
another way, but much to his credit refused it.

Candahar is a place of considerable importance in a commercial point of
view, but its military advantages are scarcely deserving of notice. It
is surrounded by an old wall and ditch, some efforts to strengthen which
had been made by throwing up a few parapets, but they were abandoned at
the first news of our approach. The principal entrance faces the south
and leads directly into the bazaar, which presents rather an animated
scene to the eyes of the stranger, in consequence of the varied and
picturesque costumes of the multitudes who resort to it, and who are
composed of Asiatics of almost every race. The merchandize exposed for
sale is no less heterogeneous in its character than its vendors, and
much to our surprise and gratification it included good broad-cloths and
Whitechapel needles, articles which, in the dilapidated and transparent
state of our clothing, proved of no small service to us.

Common and disgusting as mendicancy has become through all parts of
Asia, I have never seen it carried to such an annoying extent as here.
Our ears were assailed on all sides by whining petitions, and our eyes
offended by the exhibition of festering sores or simulated deformities.
The ingenuity displayed in twisting a straight and well made limb into
some hideous distortion, or in painting up an ugly case of cancer, would
have excited the admiration and envy of the importunate cripples who
beset the chapels of Catholic countries.

At the further extremity of the bazaar stands a noble mosque, in which
are interred the remains of Shah Soojah's father and grandfather. A
lofty gilt dome and graceful minarets distinguish it above the other
buildings of the town, and the effect, as it is approached from the
distance, is extremely imposing. On entering this beautiful temple the
visitor is conducted up a flight of marble steps to a platform within
the dome, where the remains of the deceased princes lie. The tombs are
covered with palls of blue velvet, fringed with gold, and illuminated by
about two hundred lamps, which are kept burning night and day, while
forty Faquirs, or priests, watch perpetually over them. Two magnificent
folio editions of the Koran, bound in velvet and ornamented with
characters of gold, were also shown to us with a degree of reverence
that proved the estimation in which they were held. A few pigeons which
were flying round the interior of the building appeared to divide with
these costly exemplars of the Book of Life the regard and veneration of
the votaries of the temple, this bird being held sacred, and any
invasion of its privileges visited by the punishment of death.

Several of the Affghan Chiefs who were known to be devoted to the
interests of Dost Mahommed becoming alarmed at the turn affairs were
taking, or, as some said, being dissatisfied with that prince for
refusing to guarantee the safety of their women, now came into camp and
tendered their allegiance to Shah Soojah. These reluctant auxiliaries
were warmly received by the Politicals, who hailed their adhesion as an
omen of the success of the expedition; and I observed Sir Alexander
Burnes carry his joy so far as cordially to embrace one of them. The
Chief smiled grimly, but said but little. I had an opportunity however
of ascertaining his real feelings, on getting amongst his followers a
few days afterwards. They openly expressed their regret at being
compelled to join the invaders of their country, and stated, that they
could not have a braver leader, or a better prince, than Dost Mahommed.
They described him as being of a just and generous nature, whilst they
represented the Shah as being cruel and unprincipled.

These Affghan horsemen were a fine athletic set of men, and capitally
mounted, their breed of cattle being much superior to ours, and
exhibiting proofs of the most careful grooming. The riders wore coats of
mail with steel gauntlets, and their arms consisted of a sabre, heavier
and longer than ours, a dagger, and in some instances shields and
matchlocks. I have no hesitation in saying that the Affghan Cavalry, if
these were a fair sample of them, are a most effective body of men. They
may not be equal to ours in the field, but for a harassing system of
mountain warfare where they are required to make sudden descents upon
Infantry, hemmed in between defiles, and embarrassed by ignorance of the
country, no body of troops can be better adapted. Their horses are light
limbed, but strong and wiry, and capable of undergoing incredible
fatigue while the trooper himself, practised from infancy in the
management of the animal, can ride him over places where no European
horseman would venture. Had these wild mountaineers but the advantages
of discipline and proper organization their country would be
inaccessible to any troops in the world.



CHAPTER VI.

Installation of Shah Soojah.--Attack on the camel guards.--Heroism of an
Affghan Youth.--Murder of Cornet Inverarity of the 16th
Lancers.--Departure from Candahar.--The Ghiljie
Hills.--Locusts.--Arrival of new Auxiliaries.--Camel Batteries.--Hyder
Khail.--Arrival at Ghuznee.--Tomb of Mahommed.--Remains of the Old Town
of Ghuznee.


In order to give a sort of political eclat to the steps taken to
reinstate Shah Soojah on the throne of his ancestors, it was resolved
that he should be solemnly inaugurated at Candahar, and nothing was
omitted that could possibly tend to render the ceremony imposing. On
the morning fixed for its celebration, the whole of the British forces
were paraded in review order on a large plain to the north of the city,
whilst the Shah's troops were drawn up at a little distance. In the
centre of the field stood a platform canopied with crimson silk, and
ornamented with numerous banners and devices, the seat reserved for the
Shah being ascended by a broad flight of tapestried steps, and covered
with cushions of crimson and gold. The other accessories of the pageant
were got up in similar costly style, but the effect, on the whole,
conveyed to the mind rather the unsatisfied feeling which attends the
hollow show and glitter of the theatre, than the idea of substantial
power. The weather was beautiful, the sun shedding its gorgeous rays
full upon us, and finding innumerable reflections in the military
panoply beneath. The heat was however excessive, and the majority of us
would have willingly exchanged our places in the ceremonial for the
shade and repose of our tents.

As early as six o'clock the Commander-in-Chief took up his position in
front of the line, and was received with a general salute. The Shah was
soon after observed leaving the gates of the city on an elephant, the
howdah of which was of solid silver. His Majesty appeared to me to be
between fifty and sixty years of age; of middle stature, and somewhat
inclined to corpulency. His features were large, but regular, and the
expression which played about them was not calculated to leave a
favourable impression on the physiognomist. It had a mingled character
of vaccillation and cruelty about it, which impressed one with the
notion that the possessor could sink with ease from the extreme of
tyrannical self-will to the abject and fawning humility of the slave.
His Majesty was accompanied by his Vizier, a tall, spare looking man of
a thoughtful and rather melancholy cast of features, and somewhat older
than his master. Immediately behind the Shah rode Sir William
McNaghten, in full court dress, such as is usually worn by officials at
her Majesty's levees in England, and he was followed by Sir Alexander
Burnes, in a plain suit, and surrounded by the Affghan chiefs, with whom
he appeared to be in close and friendly converse. The winning smile and
frank and courteous manner of the latter gentleman appeared to have
gained for him a degree of consideration amongst the natives, which no
other European could boast of, and which was principally attributable to
the talismanic influence of qualities that have a never failing effect
in softening down and subduing even the most rugged and intractable
natures. Nothing could exceed the splendour of the costumes in which
these chiefs were clad, their turbans and weapons being studded with
diamonds and other precious stones; whilst the horses on which they were
mounted were perfect models of animal beauty.

As soon as the Shah arrived on the ground the bands of the different
regiments struck up "God save the King," and his Majesty was conducted
to his throne by the Politicals. The troops then marched past the
platform in slow and quick time each regiment lowering its colors as it
arrived before it. A proclamation was afterwards read, declaring and
confirming the Shah's title to the throne, and all persons subject to
his authority having been required to yield him fealty, the Affghan
Chiefs present tendered their homage. The troops were marched back to
their lines immediately after, and a Durbar concluded the ceremonies of
the day.

It must not be imagined that during all this time our ever watchful
enemies had abated their vigilance or lost any opportunity of annoying
us. They did not dare to attack the camp, itself, precautionary measures
having been adopted to prevent their near approach, by stationing
inlying and outlying pickets round it. We were compelled, however, to
send our camels to graze at some distance from the encampment, and the
soldiers in charge of them were frequently surprised and driven in. On
one occasion a party of the 13th Light Infantry, consisting of a
serjeant and six privates, who had been entrusted with the care of from
fifteen to eighteen camels, fell asleep on their posts, being overcome
by the excessive heat, and the Affghans, stealing upon them whilst in
this state, put one man to death, and severely wounded two others, the
whole of the camels of course falling into their hands. The serjeant
escaped but was broken for neglect of duty.

Shortly after this occurrence, two of the marauders fell into our hands.
In order to put an end to, or diminish these vexatious losses it was
determined to make a terrible example of the prisoners, in the hope that
it would have some effect upon their companions. They were accordingly
tried by a court martial, composed of native officers, and sentenced to
be blown from the mouth of a gun. Having been led into the market-place
at Candahar, they were ordered to draw lots as to who should first
undergo this dreadful doom. The younger of the prisoners, a stripling of
about nineteen years of age, whose firm and gallant bearing excited
universal sympathy and admiration, responded to this command by at once
embracing the mouth of the gun from which he was instantly blown to
atoms. His companion, a grey-headed man, upwards of sixty years of age,
sat looking on, unmoved at this terrible scene, and coolly smoking his
hookah. On being ordered to take his place at the gun he did not exhibit
the least appearance of fear, and just as the match was about being
applied, the officer in command arrested it and directed the prisoner to
be taken away, the Shah influenced, it is said, by the entreaties of Sir
Alexander Burnes, having granted his pardon. This unexpected release
from the very jaws of death produced as little emotion on the part of
this stout old man, as its near approach or the fate of his youthful
companion had elicited.

The mysterious and premature death of Cornet Inverarity, of the 16th
Lancers, formed, whilst here, the universal topic of discussion in the
military circles. The circumstances, as far as I could collect them,
were these:--A pic-nic party had been given by the officers of the
regiment at a pleasant rural retreat, within a few miles of Candahar,
and the Cornet, being fond of fishing, took his rod and strayed a short
distance from his companions in search of sport. His prolonged absence
having given rise to remark, some of the party went in search of him,
and found the unfortunate gentleman lying dead on the banks of a
neighbouring stream. The wounds he had received were of such a nature as
to preclude the idea that they were self-inflicted, and there can be but
little doubt that he was murdered by the Affghans. The deceased was an
officer of considerable acquirements, and was regretted by all who had
the honour of his acquaintance. He was only in his 26th year, and had
been about five in the service.

I gladly avail myself of the opportunity which presents itself of paying
a tribute to the good conduct and friendly feeling of the native troops,
who testified on all occasions the utmost willingness, and indeed the
most anxious desire to render all the aid and service in their power to
their European comrades. Their knowledge of the language of the country,
and their acquaintance with the value of its produce, proved of no small
advantage to us in our daily traffic with the cunning and thievish
traders of the bazaar. Let me add that the general feeling amongst us
was that, in privation or danger, we might always count with certainty
on the generosity and bravery of the Sepoy.

Having passed nearly seven weeks at Candahar, it was determined that we
should next proceed to Ghuznee, where it was reported that Dost
Mahommed and his followers had resolved on making a stand. The army
quitted the encampment on the 27th of June, preceded by a squadron of
European cavalry, two squadrons of the native troops, and two field
pieces loaded with canister and grape shot. The route from Candahar to
Ghuznee lies through a wild and mountainous country, and over roads
extremely difficult, and at times almost impassable. The Ghiljies fled
on our approach to the numerous mud forts with which these hills abound,
and seldom ventured on our track. In the dwellings they had abandoned we
found only a few old crones and hungry dogs, both of whom received us
with a sort of howling welcome. The Ghiljie huts are constructed
somewhat like a bee hive, being of circular and conical form, with
interior accommodations of the most wretched description. The few males
whom we caught a glimpse of were clad in the same substitute for broad
cloth that served the famous Bryan O'Lynn, who having--

    "No breeches to wear,
    Cut up a sheepskin to make him a pair."

We were lucky enough to discover the stores of corn and _bussorah_ (a
sort of provender for cattle) which the natives had buried at the first
news of our approach. We were also well supplied with water the country
being traversed in all directions by rivers and streams. To
counterbalance these advantages we were annoyed with shoals of locusts,
which literally darkened the atmosphere and kept up a perpetual buzzing
and humming in our ears. The locust appears to be a favorite article of
food with the natives, who roast it on a slow fire and devour it with
eagerness. We could not bring ourselves to relish this equivocal dainty,
although our rations were not of the best or most varied description.

As we advanced on Khelat-i-Ghiljie scarcely a day passed without some
Chief coming into camp from Cabul, with a retinue of from one to two
hundred men, in order to tender his allegiance to the Shah. They were
immediately sent to the rear and incorporated with his Majesty's levies.
Many of these new auxiliaries brought camel batteries, which created a
good deal of curiosity and amusement amongst the European troops, to
whom they were a novelty. Each camel carried a sort of rampart on his
back, which mounted from four to six swivel guns of small calibre, the
conductor both driving the animal and serving the guns. We were
surprised at the rapidity and accuracy with which these portable
batteries were served and brought to bear, the animal dropping on its
knees wherever it became necessary to bring the guns within range, and
rising the moment they were discharged.

At Hyder Khail we were plundered of several camels laden with bedding,
belonging to her Majesty's 2nd, or Queen's Royals, and the party in
charge of them disappeared and was not again heard of before we left. As
we passed Khelat-i-Ghiljie the country began to improve in its
character, and large tracts, covered with corn and beans, betokened the
presence of a more civilized tribe than that through whose inhospitable
territories we had just passed. The villagers came daily into camp with
fruit and vegetables, which they parted with at reasonable prices, and
their conduct to us on the whole was civil and peaceable.

On the 21st. of July we arrived in sight of Ghuznee, the strength of
which we found underrated rather than exaggerated. Ghuznee may be said
to form the key to Cabul since it commands the only direct route to that
place. The citadel is of great extent, and includes within its precincts
three or four bazaars and several streets. It is surrounded on every
side by strong bastions and substantial walls, the whole of which had
been recently put in repair, and it mounted nine guns (one a 48
pounder) besides innumerable wall pieces, gingals, and matchlocks. The
principal entrance is at the North side, on the road to Cabul, and is
approached by a bridge of slight construction, thrown across a deep
ditch or moat. To the right and left stretch long chains of lofty hills,
which approach the walls so closely on the North side, as to command a
view of the interior of the citadel. The enemy, sensible of the
importance of these heights, had lined them with troops in order to
prevent our planting batteries on them. At the distance of about three
quarters of a mile from the fort, and situated in an amphitheatre of
hills, lies the town of Ghuznee, which consists of only a few narrow,
straggling streets. A narrow, but deep and rapid river, whose banks are
studded with rich corn fields, winds its devious route through the
pleasant valley in which the town is situate, and half encircles its
walls. Nearly equidistant from the town and the fort, and surrounded by
luxuriant orchards and vineyards, stands the famous tomb of Mahommed of
Ghuznee. It consists of an oblong building 36 ft. by 18, and about 30
feet in height, and is crowned by a mud cupola. The gates are said to be
of sandal-wood, and were taken from the temple of Somnath by the
conqueror, whose remains lie entombed here. The grave stone in the
interior is made of the finest white marble, but its once rich sculpture
is now nearly defaced, and it presents but few traces of the Arabic
characters with which it was formerly inscribed. Over the last resting
place of the hero, and in a sadly decayed state, are suspended the
banner of green silk, and the enormous mace which he had so often borne
in battle.

In the plain to the south of the hills stand two pillars, or obelisks,
of brickwork, about one hundred feet in height, and twelve in diameter
at the base, which are said to have marked the limits of the bazaar of
ancient Ghuznee, and which at present form serve only as conspicuous
landmarks for the traveller.



CHAPTER VII.

Reconnaisance of the Fortress.--Skirmish with the Enemy.--Rejoicings of
the Garrison at our Supposed Defeat.--Preparation for a Coup de
Main.--Engineer Operations.--Storming and Taking of the Fortress.


We debouched on the plain in front of the fort about eight o'clock in
the morning, and advanced upon it in three columns--the Cavalry on the
right, the Artillery in the centre, and the Infantry on the left. The
Commander-in-Chief determined to reconnoitre the place in force, and
make the enemy show their strength. On approaching the orchards and
walled gardens before described, we found them occupied by the enemy,
and the 1st Brigade having been immediately thrown into them, drove the
Affghans out of the enclosures in capital style, and forced them to take
shelter behind the defences, with a comparatively trifling loss on our
side. Our guns were now brought to bear upon the fortress, which had
kept up a sharp fire on us from the moment of our appearance, but owing
to our having left our heavy battering train behind us at Candahar we
did but little or no damage. About eleven o'clock we drew off, and
pitched our camp out of range of the fire of the foot. On our
skirmishers retiring from the gardens they were immediately occupied by
the enemy, who commenced cheering our retreating parties, in the
conviction that they had obtained a victory. Under this impression they
instantly sent off expresses to Cabul, to announce the fact, and state
that if the whole of the surrounding country could be raised, they had
little doubt of being able to cut us off to a man. The garrison spent
the night in rejoicings, and blue lights were constantly sent up as
signals to their friends on the neighbouring hills.

Next morning the Shah's camp was threatened on the left by large bodies
of horse and foot who were driven off by the Cavalry and some of his
Highness's troops; whilst another force, consisting chiefly of horse,
under the command of one of Dost Mahommed's sons; and at a short
distance from him a Ghiljie Chief, with about fifteen hundred Cavalry,
who had hung upon our flank all the way from Khelat-i-Ghiljie, menaced
us to the right. This determined the Commander-in-Chief to expedite
matters, and the engineers having made a careful inspection of the
fortress, he resolved on carrying it by storm. The whole of the 22nd was
consumed in making the necessary preparations, the field hospital being
got ready while strong detachments of Cavalry scoured the country
around, in order to keep the enemy from our lines.

In order to give my readers a correct idea of the strength of the
fortifications, and the difficulties overcome by the intelligence and
courage of the officers and men of the British Army, I cannot do better
than to copy the official reports made by the principal Engineer
officers on the subject. They contain a full detail of the operations up
to the moment when the citadel fell into our possession.


_Memorandum of the Engineers' operations before Ghuznee, in July, 1839,
by Captain George Thompson, Bengal Engineers, Chief Engineer Army of the
Indus._

The accounts of the Fortress of Ghuznee, received from those who had
seen it, were such as to induce his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief to
leave in Candahar the very small battering train then with the Army,
there being a scarcity of transport cattle. The place was described as
very weak, and completely commanded from a range of hills to the north.

When we came before it on the morning of the 21st of July we were very
much surprised to find a rampart, in good repair, built on a scarped
mound about thirty-five feet high, flanked by numerous towers, and
surrounded by a faussebraye and wet ditch. The irregular figure of the
"enceinte" gave a good flanking fire, whilst the height of the citadel
covered the interior from the commanding fire of the hills to the north,
rendering it nugatory. In addition to this, the towers, at the angles,
had been enlarged, screen walls had been built before the gates, the
ditch cleared out and filled with water, stated to be unfordable, and an
outwork built on the right bank of the river so as to command the bed of
it.

The garrison was variously stated from three to four thousand strong,
including five hundred Cavalry, and from subsequent information we
found that it had not been overrated.

On the approach of the army, a fire of artillery was opened from the
body of the place, and of musketry from the neighbouring gardens. A
detachment of Infantry cleared the latter, and the former was silenced
for a short time by shrapnells from the Horse Artillery, but the fire
from the new outwork on the bank of the river was in no way checked. A
nearer view of the works was, however, obtained from the gardens which
had been cleared. This was not at all satisfactory. The works were
evidently much stronger than we had been led to expect, and such as our
army could not venture to attack in a regular manner. We had no
battering train, and to besiege Ghuznee in form, a much larger one would
be required than the army ever possessed. The great command of the
parapets from sixty to seventy feet, with the wet ditch, were
insurmountable obstacles to an attack, either by mining or escalading.

It therefore became necessary to examine closely the whole _contour_ of
the place, to discover if any other mode of attack could be adopted. The
engineers, with an escort, went round the works, approaching as near as
they could find cover. The garrison were on the alert, and kept up a hot
and well regulated fire upon the officers whenever they were obliged to
show themselves. However, by keeping the Infantry beyond musket range,
and the Cavalry at a still greater distance, only one man was killed,
and another wounded; the former being hit by men sent out of the place
to drive off the reconnoitring party.

The fortifications were found equally strong, all round, the only
tangible point observed being the Cabul gateway, which offered the
following advantages for a _coup-de-main_. The road to the Gate was
clear, the bridge over the ditch unbroken, there were good positions
for the Artillery within three hundred yards of the walls on both sides
of the road, and we had information that the Gateway was not built up, a
reinforcement from Cabul being expected.

The result of this reconnaisance was a report to His Excellency the
Commander-in-Chief, that if he decided upon the immediate attack on
Ghuznee, the only feasible mode of proceeding, and the only one which
held out a prospect of success was a dash at the Cabul gateway, blowing
the gate open by bags of powder.

His Excellency decided upon the attempt, the camp was moved that evening
to the Cabul road, and the next morning, the 22nd, Sir John Keane in
person reconnoitred the proposed point of attack, approved of the plan,
and gave orders for its execution. Preparations were made accordingly,
positions for the artillery were carefully examined, which excited the
jealousy of the garrison, who opened a smart fire upon the party.

It was arranged that an explosion party, consisting of three officers of
Engineers, Captain Peat, Lieutenants Durand and McLeod, three Serjeants,
and eighteen men of the Sappers in working dresses, carrying 300lbs. of
powder in twelve sand bags, with a hose seventy-two feet long, should be
ready to move down to the gateway at daybreak.

At midnight the first battery left camp, followed by the other four, at
intervals of half an hour. Those to the right of the road were conducted
to their positions by Lieutenant Stuart, those to the left by Lieutenant
Anderson. The ground for the guns was prepared by the Sappers and
Pioneers, taking advantage of the irregularities of the ground to the
right, and of some old garden walls to the left.

The Artillery was all in position, and ready by 3 A. M. of the 23rd, and
shortly after, at the first dawn, the party under Captain Peat moved
down to the gateway, accompanied by six men of her Majesty's 13th Light
Infantry, without their belts, and supported by a detachment of the same
regiment, which extended to the right and left of the road; when they
arrived at the ditch, taking advantage of what cover they could find,
and endeavouring to keep down the fire from the ramparts, which became
heavy on the approach of the party, though it had been remarkably slack
during the previous operations; blue lights were shown, which rendered
surrounding objects distinctly visible, but luckily they were buried on
the top of the parapet instead of being thrown into the passage below.

The explosion party marched steadily on, headed by Lieutenant Durand;
the powder was placed, the hose laid, the train fired, and the carrying
party had retired to tolerable cover in less than two minutes. The
Artillery opened when the blue lights appeared, and the musketry from
the covering party at the same time. So quickly was the operation
performed, and so little was the enemy aware of the nature of it, that
not a man of the party was hurt.

As soon as the explosion took place, Captain Peat, although hurt by the
concussion, his anxiety preventing him from keeping sufficiently under
cover, ran up to the gate, accompanied by a small party of her Majesty's
13th Light Infantry, and ascertained that it was completely destroyed.
There was some delay in getting a bugler to sound at the advance, the
signal agreed on for the assaulting column to push on, and this was the
only mistake in the operation.

The assaulting column, consisting of four European Regiments (her
Majesty's 2nd regiment, Bengal European regiment, her Majesty's 13th
Light Infantry, and her Majesty's 17th regiment) commanded by Brigadier
Sale, the advance under Lieutenant Colonel Dennie, accompanied by
Lieutenant Sturt, Engineers, moved steadily through the gateway,
through a passage inside the gateway, in a domed building, in which the
opening on one side rendered everything very obscure, and making it
difficult to find the outlet into the town. They met with little
opposition; but the party of the enemy seeing a peak in the column,
owing to the difficulty in scrambling over the rubbish in the gateway,
made a rush, sword in hand, and cut down a good many men, wounding the
Brigadier and several other officers. These swordsmen were repulsed, and
there was no more regular opposition; the surprise and alarm of the
Governor and Sirdars being so great when they saw the column occupying
the open space inside the gate, and firing upon them, that they fled,
accompanied by their men, even the garrison of the Citadel following
their example. Parties of the Affghans took refuge in the houses, firing
on the column as it made its way through the streets, and a good deal of
desultory fighting took place in consequence, by which some loss was
sustained. The Citadel was occupied as soon as daylight showed that it
had been abandoned by the enemy, and the whole of the works were in our
possession before 5 A. M.

We lost seventeen men, six European and eleven Natives killed--eighteen
officers, and one hundred and seventeen Europeans, and thirty Natives
wounded--total one hundred and eighty-two. Of the Affghans more than
five hundred and fourteen were killed in the town, that number of bodies
having been buried, and about one thousand outside by the Cavalry, one
thousand six hundred prisoners were taken, but I have no means of
estimating the number of wounded.

There were nine guns of different calibres found in the place, a large
quantity of good powder, considerable stores of shot, lead, &c., &c.,
and a large supply of attar and other provisions.

    GEO. THOMSON, Capt. Engrs.
    _Chief Engineer Army of the Indus._


The following report by Captain Peat, of the Bombay Civil Engineers,
gives a more detailed account of the operations for blowing up the gate,
which, it will be seen, were attended with difficulties of no ordinary
nature.

"During the reconnaissance the wall pieces were particularly
troublesome. This weapon is almost unknown in our service, but it is a
very efficient one, especially in the defence of works, and its use
should not be neglected. Every fortified post should be supplied with a
proportion of them, and a certain number of men in every regiment
practised in firing them.

The charge recommended by Colonel Pasley, for blowing open gates is from
sixty to one hundred and twenty pounds, and this is, doubtless,
sufficient in ordinary cases; but in this instance we were apprehensive
that the enemy might have taken alarm at our being so much on that side
of the place, and in consequence, partially or wholly, built up the
gateway. It was afterwards found that some attempts of the kind had
been made by propping up the gate with beams.

The charge was so heavy, that it not only destroyed the gate, but
brought down a considerable portion of the roof of the square building
in which it was placed, which proved a very considerable obstacle to the
assaulting column, and the concussion acted as far as the tower, under
which an officer's party of her Majesty's 13th regiment were standing at
the time, but without occasioning any casualties. In cases of this
nature it is of course the first object to guard against any chance of
failure; and it is impossible, even now, to say how much the charge
might have been reduced with safety.

The enemy appeared so much on the alert, and the faussebraye was so much
in advance of the gate that we never contemplated being able to effect
our object by surprise. The only question was, whether it ought to be
done by day or night. It was argued in favor of the former, that the
Artillery would be able to make so much more correct practice that the
defences would be in a considerable degree destroyed, and the fire so
completely kept under as to enable the explosion party to advance with
but little loss, and with the advantage of being able to see exactly
what they were about. Captain Thompson, however, adhered to the latter,
and we were afterwards convinced it was the most judicious plan; for
although the fire of the Artillery was necessarily more general than it
would have been in daylight, still it was so well directed as to take up
a good deal of the attention of the besieged, and draw upon their
batteries a portion of the fire, which in daylight would have been
thrown down upon the explosion party and assaulting columns. It would
also, even in daylight, have been difficult, with our Light Artillery,
to have kept down the fire so completely but that a few matchlock men
might have kept their position near the gateway; and in that narrow
space a smart fire from a few pieces might have obliged the party to
retire. The obscurity of the night, to say nothing of the confusion
which it must occasion among undisciplined troops, is certainly the best
protection to a body of men engaged in an enterprise of this nature.
Blue lights certainly render objects distinctly visible, but their light
is glaring and uncertain, especially to men firing through loopholes.

The party consisted of eighteen officers, twenty-eight sergeants, seven
buglers, and two hundred and seventy-six rank and file.

It was made of this strength, not only to keep up a heavy fire upon the
parapets, and thereby divert attention from the party at the gateway,
but also because we were not aware whether the faussebraye was occupied
or not, and as it extends so much in advance as to take the gate
completely in reverse, it would have been necessary, had a fire opened
from it, to have carried it by assault before the party with the bags
could have advanced. The party with Lieutenant Durand was accompanied
by six men of the 13th, without their belts, the better to secure them
from observation, to protect them from any sortie that might be made
from the postern of the faussebraye on the right, or even from the gate
itself, while another party under an officer, Lieutenant Jennings,
accompanied me as far as the tower so as to check any attempts that
might have been made from the faussebraye on the left, and at the same
time keeping up a fire on such of the enemy as showed their heads above
the parapet; of this party one man was killed and a few wounded.

Nothing could have been more gallant than the conduct of Lieutenants
Durand and McLeod, and the men under their command; or more efficient
than the manner in which they executed their duty.

The powder being in sand bags of a very coarse open texture, a long hose
and port fire was thought to be the safest method of firing it. The end
of the hose fortunately just reached the small postern. The casualties,
however, during this operation were much fewer than was expected, being
in all one private killed, two sergeants, and twenty-three rank and file
wounded.

The heaviest fire was certainly outside the bridge, for the enemy near
the gateway being marked, whenever they attempted to shew their heads
above the parapet, were obliged to confine themselves to the loop-holes,
the range from which is very uncertain and limited against men moving
about. A high loop-holed wall, although imposing in appearance, is a
profile but ill adapted to resist attacks of this nature.

The enemy were perfectly aware that we were in the gateway, but appeared
to have no idea of the nature of our operations. Had they been so they
might easily have rendered it impossible to place the powder bags, by
throwing over blue lights, of which they had a large quantity in store.
The powder pots and other fire works so much used by the natives of
Hindoostan would certainly have rendered the confined space leading to
the gate much too hot for such an operation; but the ignorance of the
besieged was known and calculated upon, the result shows how justly.

Their attempts at resistance were confined to the fire from the
loopholes and throwing over large pieces of earth, some of which
appeared to be intended to knock off the port fire.

I on this occasion received an excellent lesson on the necessity of not
allowing preconceived opinions to lead to any carelessness, in
accurately ascertaining the result of any operation of this nature. The
gateway appeared, from what I had seen from the hills to the north, to
lead straight into the town, and on running in to examine it after the
explosion I was so much impressed with this idea and so much convinced
of the probability of the gateway having been blocked up during the day,
that I was led to believe that it had actually been done, from seeing,
in front of the gate that had been destroyed, the outline of an arch
filled up with brick masonry. The true entrance turned to the right and
would have been discovered by advancing a few paces, and that in perfect
safety, for the interior was secure from all fire. Lieutenant Durand on
first going up saw from through the chinks of the gate that there was a
light and a guard immediately behind it, and from that circumstance was
convinced that no interior obstacles of importance existed.

My mistake therefore was luckily immediately corrected without any bad
consequence resulting.

A party of sappers with felling axes, and commanded by Lieutenant
Wemyss, and two scaling ladders in charge of Lieutenant Pigan,
accompanied the assaulting column.

Of ten Engineer Officers engaged in this attack, only one, Lieutenant
Marriot, was slightly wounded. Captain Thompson however had a very
narrow escape, having been thrown down by a rush of some swordsmen into
the gateway, and nearly sabred while upon the ground."



CHAPTER VIII.

An Affghan Heroine.--Capture of Hyder Khan the Commandant of
Ghuznee.--Escape of Ghool Mahommed Khan.--Discovery of a Map on the
person of an Affghan Chief.--Description of the Affghan Women.--The
Ruling Passion.--Treasuretrove.--The Golden Shield.--Chase of the
Enemy.--Just Retribution.


The Cavalry taking no part in these operations I was an idle, but not
the less an anxious spectator of the scene. I had never before witnessed
effects so awfully grand, or so intensely exciting in their nature as
those which immediately preceded and followed the explosion at the
gates. The atmosphere was illuminated by sudden and powerful flashes of
various coloured light which exposed the walls and bastions of the
fortress to view, and revealed the dusky figures of the garrison, in the
act of pointing their guns, or endeavouring to penetrate the denseness
of the obscurity beneath, in order to assure themselves of the position
of their assailants. Then followed the din and roar of artillery--the
terrific explosion of the gates--the crash of woodwork and masonry--the
hollow rumbling of the old towers as they came in huge masses to the
ground--the rush of the storming party through the breach, and the
deafening cheers and shouts of besiegers and besieged. It seemed as if
all the elements of destruction had been let loose at once, and yet I
panted to be in the midst of them. I hardly dared to breathe from the
very intenseness of my anxiety, and it was not till I saw the British
flag floating from the citadel, that I could respire freely. To the
soldier there is nothing more trying or chafing than to be condemned to
a state of inaction during the progress of such spirit-stirring events
as these.

While the Affghans were disputing our entrance into the citadel an
incident occurred, which for a moment diverted the attention of the
combatants and turned their fury into pity. Amongst the foremost of the
party who signalised themselves by their desperate gallantry was an aged
Chieftain, the richness of whose costume excited general attention, his
turban and weapons being resplendent with jewels. The hope of plunder
immediately marked him out as an object of attack, and numbers at once
assailed him. He defended himself like a man who knew there was no
chance of life, but who was resolved to sell it as dearly as he could.
He had killed several of the Queen's Royals and severely wounded Captain
Robinson, when a grenadier of the company to which the latter belonged,
seeing his officer in danger, rushed to his assistance, and with a
thrust of his bayonet brought the gallant old Chieftain to the ground.
The grenadier was about to despatch him, when a beautiful girl, about
seventeen, threw herself into the _mêlée_ and plunged a dagger in his
breast. She then cast herself on the body of the Chieftain, for the
purpose of protecting it, and the Affghans, forming a sort of rampart
before them, maintained their ground until the heroic girl succeeded in
getting it conveyed into the interior of the citadel. Shortly after the
place was taken she was found weeping over the remains of the brave old
man, who, on enquiry, we learned was her father. She was treated with
the utmost respect and tenderness by our men, who neither obtruded
themselves on her grief nor offered any interruption to the preparations
which she made for his interment.

Amongst the prisoners who fell into our hands was Hyder Khan, a son of
Dost Mahommed, and late commandant of the fortress. This Chief was
discovered hiding in a privy by a soldier of the Queen's Royals, who
would have bayonetted him but for the timely interference of one of his
officers, who chanced to be near the spot. The Affghan leader was
immediately brought before Sir John Keane, and the Shah being present
rated him soundly for his treachery. He replied only by a haughty look
of defiance, and was consigned to a tent closely guarded by Sepoys. The
sword found upon this Chief, and which is at present in the possession
of Sir John Keane, was valued at 14,000 rupees.

Of the many prisoners we had taken, the capture of none afforded such
gratification as that of Ghool Mahommed Khan, to whose bad faith some of
our past privations had been owing. This Chief had entered into a
contract with Sir Alexander Burnes, to establish magazines of provisions
and corn at Quettah, for the use of the British troops, and five
thousand rupees were paid over to him for the purpose. He purchased up
all the corn of the surrounding districts, but instead of fulfilling his
agreement he forwarded it to Ghuznee for the use of the garrison, and
was amongst the most conspicuous defenders of the fortress. On being
brought before the Shah his Majesty ordered him to be bowstringed, but
before the sentence could be carried into effect he managed to escape.
His treachery failed in its object, for the greater portion of the flour
and grain which he had supplied now fell into our hands. We also found
from five to six hundred horses in the stables of the fortress, all of
which were in excellent condition, and ranging in value from seventy to
a hundred pounds each.

I entered the fort shortly after it surrendered and at every step
spectacles of the most shocking and revolting nature met the eye. Round
a long twenty pounder, which was planted to the right of the entrance,
lay heaps of dead Affghans, who appeared to have attached the greatest
importance to the service of this piece from the numbers who crowded to
perform the duty whenever our fire killed those engaged in it. The
agonising cries and groans of the wounded wretches who lay stretched at
every side, and who craved drink to sate their burning thirst, struck
those who had not been engaged in the fearful excitement of the scene
with horror and pity, whilst at every turning a horse, wild with the
injuries he had received, was to be met galloping furiously along the
narrow streets, and treading the bodies of the dying and dead under
foot. Advancing through the bazaar, my attention was drawn towards a
venerable looking Affghan, who was seated on the ground with his back
propped against a wall, and whose richly ornamented muslin robes were
stained with blood, which flowed profusely from a wound in his breast. A
fine looking youth of about fourteen years of age was attempting to
stanch it, and I hastened to proffer my assistance. The old man,
however, pushed me back, and would not let me approach him, plainly
indicating by his gestures that he held me and my countrymen in
abhorrence. Whilst standing at a short distance from him, a straggling
ball came whizzing past me, whether intentionally or accidentally I
cannot say, and put an end to his sufferings. Some soldiers, who
afterwards examined the person of this old chief, for such from his
attire I took him to be, discovered amongst other things an extremely
well executed map, on which the whole of the route of our troops from
the point at which we had disembarked to our arrival at Ghuznee was
plainly indicated.

Some of the Affghan women were occasionally to be met turning over the
bodies of the dead, in the hope of being able to discover their
relations or friends, and giving way to their grief in the most
heart-rending lamentations. They were the most superior class of women I
had as yet seen amongst the Asiatics, their features being regular, and
finely formed, and their eyes piercing, but at the same time soft in
their expression. Although nothing like violence was used towards them,
they did not escape some incivilities at the hands of our men, owing to
the fact that a number of Affghan soldiers had attempted to escape in
female disguise.

Various were the adventures related amongst us, as having occurred on
the first entrance of our troops into the fortress. A Scotchman,
belonging to my own regiment, named James Hamilton, who was known to be
an inveterate snuff-taker was discovered in a tobacconist's shop in the
bazaar literally covered from head to foot with the contents of the
_chatties_ or jars with which it was filled, and testing the qualities
of each with an air of the most exquisite relish, his nose having been
long a stranger to its favourite aliment. The ruling passion was
exemplified in different ways in others. Some sought for drink, of which
there was little to be obtained and others for gold, which we had every
reason to believe was plentiful, if we knew but where to find it. A
soldier of the 13th Light Infantry, more fortunate than his fellows, lit
unexpectedly on a jar which was filled to the brim with gold pieces to
the value it is said of £600 sterling, and conveyed it secretly to the
camp. Becoming apprehensive that this large sum would be discovered on
him, and that he would be obliged to give it up to the prize agent, he
distributed it amongst several of his comrades in order that they might
take care of it. The possession of so much wealth turning the heads of
his trustees they thought they might allow themselves a few indulgences
at his expence, but their excesses ultimately betrayed the secret and
they were compelled to hand over the money to the common fund.

As the soldiers severally left the fortress to return to the camp they
were stripped of the plunder which they had obtained, and a goodly heap
of armour and weapons of every kind was soon piled before the entrance.
Amongst the number of curious articles obtained in this way was an old
shield, which had belonged to one of the Affghan chiefs and which,
though remarkable for the oddness of its construction, presented little
else to attract the eye. Its material appeared to be a compound of
copper and some white metal, and it was thrown aside by the prize agent
amongst the most valueless of the objects which fell under his care. A
soldier of the Bengal European regiment, who had been a jeweller by
trade, happened to observe the circumstance, and carelessly taking up
the shield, as if to examine the devices with which it was ornamented,
scrutinized it for some time, and went away without making the slightest
observation. He immediately repaired to the Captain of his company, and
told him to bid for the shield at the prize sale which was to take place
a few days afterwards, advising him not to stop at any reasonable price
for it. The officer acted on the hint, and obtained the article for
about thirty or forty rupees. The shield turned out to be of the purest
and finest gold, and the fortunate possessor felt so grateful to his
informant that he made him a present sufficient to purchase his
discharge, and carry him home to England.

Amongst the different ensigns captured from the enemy on this occasion
were two banners of green and crimson silk, trimmed with gold lace and
inscribed with precepts from the Koran. They were desperately defended,
the Affghans appearing to attach great importance to their safety. They
are, I believe, at present in the possession of her Majesty's 17th Light
Infantry, and the Bengal European Regiment.

Shortly after the breach had been effected intelligence was brought to
the Commander-in-Chief, that numbers of the enemy were making their
escape through one of the back gates. He immediately dispatched the 1st
Bombay Light Cavalry in pursuit. The Affghans being daring horsemen,
and better mounted than our men, made at once for the hills, where they
knew our Cavalry could not follow. Aware of this our men put their
horses to their utmost speed, in order to intercept them before they got
entangled in the defiles. The chase soon assumed a character of lively
interest. An Affghan, worse mounted, or less skilled in horsemanship
than his fellows, was overtaken and cut down, and the pursuers pressed
hard on the heels of another. The cheers of his enemies, and the clatter
of their horses' hoofs sounding fearfully near in the ears of the
pursued he put the noble animal on which he was mounted to its utmost
speed, and cleared the space between him and his companions at a bound
rather than a gallop. Again he was almost within reach of the sabres of
our men, and again did the fleetness of his horse place him for a time
in safety. As he was about to plunge into a deep ravine after the other
fugitives a shot brought his horse upon its knees, and the rider was
flung upon his head. All now seemed over with him. Starting, however, to
his feet, he turned upon his pursuers, and single handed opposed a host
of them. Warding off the blows which rained on him from every side, he
kept rapidly retreating until he gained the brow of a steep declivity
over which he flung himself and was instantly lost to view. Disappointed
in their pursuit, our men took an unmanly revenge on some peasants who
were peaceably engaged in agricultural occupations near the spot. One of
these wanton acts of cruelty met with a just retribution. A havildar or
serjeant, seeing a young Affghan following the plough at a little
distance, galloped up, and made several cuts at him with his sabre. The
young man ran to the other side of the plough, and placed the serjeant
at bay. The latter drew a pistol from his holster, and was about to
shoot him, when his horse stumbled over the plough and fell on his
side, breaking the leg of the havildar and pinning him at the same time
firmly to the ground. The Affghan seized the sword which had fallen from
his grasp, and dealt him a blow on the head which instantly killed him.
The comrades of the dead man riding up surrounded and captured the
peasant, and he was brought into camp to abide the decision of the
Commander-in-Chief. A representation having been made to Sir John Keane
of the wanton and unprovoked attack which had been made upon the
prisoner, he immediately ordered him to be liberated. The havildar was
interred on the spot where he fell and there were few in the army who
pitied or regretted him.



CHAPTER IX.

Attempt to Assassinate the Shah.--Court Martial on an Affghan
Chief.--Visit to the Hospital at Ghuznee.--Hatred of the Affghans
towards the Native Troops.--Departure from Ghuznee.--Capture of a
Battery and Fatal Accident.--Summary Punishment.--Arrival at
Cabul.--Pursuit of Dost Mahommed and Treachery of a Native
Chief.--Description of Cabul.--The Balar Hissar.--Mosque of the Emperor
Baber.--The Bazaar.


A few days after the taking of Ghuznee a tragical scene occurred, which
pretty clearly indicated how the tide of popular feeling ran with regard
to the restored monarch. There is a poetical superstition that
approaching events are often foreshadowed, and the circumstance to
which I allude seemed to impress every man's mind at the time with the
result that has since happened.

The majority of the prisoners who fell into our hands were released on
condition of their serving in the Shah's army, but there remained about
thirty who refused to accept of their liberty on such terms. They
consisted for the most part of the immediate followers of Dost
Mahommed's father-in-law, and were devotedly attached to that prince.
The Shah, on learning the circumstance ordered them to be brought before
him, and expostulated with them on the folly of their conduct. A Chief
of haughty bearing stepped from amongst the prisoners, and after
overwhelming his Majesty with reproaches, told him that nothing should
induce him to enter the service of a man who had brought the horrors of
foreign invasion on his country. Then suddenly snatching a dagger from
one of the attendants, he rushed with uplifted arm towards the Shah, and
would have pierced him to the heart had not one of his Majesty's
servants interposed his person, and received the blow intended for his
master. The faithful domestic fell dead at the feet of the Shah, and the
officers and attendants instantly rushed towards the assassin with drawn
swords; but he had already anticipated their intention by plunging the
poniard in his breast. The Shah, alarmed and exasperated, ordered the
whole of the prisoners to be immediately executed, and in a few minutes
their heads were rolling in the dust. This terrible scene created great
alarm in the camp, it being at first reported that his Majesty had been
assassinated, but the apprehensions to which it gave rise were soon
dispelled, by his publicly making his appearance amongst us.

A Chief, named Walla Mahommed, who had persisted in firing on the troops
several hours after the taking of the fort, and in spite of repeated
summonses to surrender, was brought to a court martial by order of the
Commander-in-Chief, and sentenced to be shot within the walls of the
fortress. He had killed three or four of our men, and wounded one of the
Native officers by his obstinate folly. He met his fate with the most
perfect indifference, for the fear of death cannot be said to be one of
the weaknesses of the Affghan character.

I one day paid a visit, with some of my comrades, to the hospital where
the wounded Affghans had been carried by their friends. It was situated
in the old town, and consisted of a mud hut, whose thatched roof was
broken in several places, and afforded little or no shelter against the
heat of the sun. The interior was as filthy and disgusting as it is
possible to conceive. Into a space of about thirty feet by twelve, were
crowded from seventy to a hundred patients, who were disabled by wounds
of every description, their sufferings being aggravated tenfold, by the
intolerable heat and stench of the place. They were attended by two
elderly men and a youth about fifteen years of age, who were busily
engaged dressing their wounds, whilst a Faquir was performing certain
charms, by which he pretended he could restore them to health. Pitiable
and disgusting as the scene was I could not help laughing at the
mummeries of the fellow. He first placed some cow dung in the hand of
the sufferer, and holding it in his, saturated it with water and
compelled the patient to smell it. He then wound up the ceremony by
repeating some prayers over the fumes of a charcoal pan, the patient
repeating after him certain responses which he directed him to make.
This done, he covered him up with an old blanket, and ordered him to lay
quiet for several hours, when the cure would be complete. Having of
course received a consideration for all this trouble, he left his
patients to the progress of the charm, and the discovery, when too late,
that they had been grossly duped.

Happening to have a quantity of apples with me which I had just plucked
from one of the orchards in the vicinity, I offered them to the
sufferers in the hope that they would in some degree refresh them. They
accepted them with eagerness which induced some sepoys who were with me
to follow my example. The Affghans indignantly refused to receive
anything at their hands, and so great was their hatred of the native
troops, that they actually spat upon the men who showed them this
kindness.

Early in August we resumed our march towards Cabul, leaving the whole of
our sick and wounded in garrison at Ghuznee. It was reported that Dost
Mahommed intended to dispute every inch of ground to the capital, but
these valiant resolutions were abandoned as soon as formed. The only
indication of a preconcerted plan of defence which we met with on the
route, was a battery of sixteen field pieces which we found planted on
an eminence commanding the entrance to a formidable pass about midway
between Ghuznee and Cabul, but which had been deserted by the enemy as
soon as our advanced columns made their appearance. A party of the Horse
Artillery having been sent to secure the guns and ammunition, an
accident took place which was attended with fatal consequences. One of
the men having approached a tumbrel with a lighted pipe a spark fell
into it and the whole blew up with a tremendous explosion, killing two
of the party and severely injuring another.

The conduct of the inhabitants of the different villages along this
route, whether influenced by good will or fear, I cannot take upon
myself to say, was friendly and well disposed towards us. This did not
however prevent some excesses on the part of the native troops, which
Sir John Keane sought to repress by issuing an order forbidding the men
from robbing the villagers on pain of death. At Chesgow, about two days
march from Ghuznee, a soldier belonging to the 2nd Bengal Light Cavalry
was observed thieving in the immediate vicinity of the staff lines, and
one of Sir John's aides de camps who watched his proceedings took a gun
from his tent and deliberately lodged its contents in his side. The
unfortunate man died of the wound, after lingering a few days. The
extreme severity of the punishment and its informal nature, were
bitterly canvassed amongst the native troops, but it nevertheless had
the effect of preventing a repetition of the offence.

Early on the morning of the 7th of August, we encamped without
opposition under the walls of Cabul, Dost Mahommed and his forces having
fled to the hills at the first news of our approach. The
Commander-in-Chief being desirous of securing the person of the usurper,
immediately despatched Captain Outram, and Hadji Khan, a chief supposed
to be well affected towards Shah Soojah, with a thousand Affghans and a
hundred native cavalry in pursuit. They had not proceeded far from the
camp when it became evident to Captain Outram that treachery was
secretly at work, the Affghans deserting daily, until their number was
diminished to about five hundred. Hadji Khan, to whose guidance the
force was entrusted, led it by long and circuitous routes, under
pretence that they would thereby more easily intercept the fugitives,
and turned a deaf ear to the Captain's entreaties that they should
proceed directly across the hills. Wherever a rapid movement became
necessary, the Affghan managed so that his followers should be delayed
on the route, and there was no sort of impediment that craft or
ingenuity could suggest that he did not employ to retard the progress of
the troops. Captain Outram having no authority to act without the aid of
the Khan was obliged to shut his eyes to these manoeuvres, and succeeded
after the most urgent persuasion in inducing the Affghan Chief to
proceed at once to the hills, with a small detachment.

After traversing the highest parts of the Hindoo Kosh, a chain of
mountains, fifteen thousand feet above the level of the sea, and
extending as far as Bamean, Captain Outram found that Dost Mahommed had
taken refuge in the territories of an independent Uzbeck Chieftain then
at enmity with the Shah. Whilst crossing the heights several blue lights
were thrown up by the orders of Hadji Khan, which the British had reason
to believe were intended to give warning to the enemy. Further pursuit
through a difficult and hostile territory became of course out of the
question, and the horses being worn out from want of forage and rest,
orders were given for the return of the party to Cabul. During the march
homeward Hadji Khan contrived to give the British the slip, and made off
to the hills, rightly calculating that his equivocal conduct would be
severely punished by the Shah. He was, however, captured before the
British left Cabul, and sentenced to imprisonment for life. It was said
that the Commander-in-Chief was dissatisfied with the conduct of Captain
Outram in this affair, and that he pointedly passed over his name in
the official despatches to mark his displeasure.

As several descriptions of Cabul have been published it will only be
necessary for me to give such of its leading features as are essential
to the completeness of my narrative. The city lies almost in the centre
of a semicircular chain of hills, the valley in which it is situated
being watered by a noble river which pursues a serpentine and
picturesque route through it, and divides the town in nearly equal
parts. The bazaar stands at the base of a lofty mountain, up whose
rugged sides straggle rude and irregular fortifications of no great
strength or importance. The town itself covers a considerable extent of
ground, and the streets are in general regular and well built as
compared with the other cities of Asia. Towering high above the other
buildings may be observed the mosque and Balar Hissar or palace of the
sovereign. The latter is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is entered
by a large flagged court-way leading to the principal portal of the
edifice. The proportions of the building are on a scale commensurate
with royalty, the centre being surmounted by a lofty dome, and the wings
of vast extent. The right wing contains the stabling of the Shah and
chambers of the household, and the left is appropriated to the
sovereign's own use. The general effect of this building is heavy, and
it conveys the idea of a prison rather than a palace.

About half a mile to the right of the palace stands the mosque which
contains the remains of the Emperor Baber. This temple is one of the
finest I have seen in this part of Asia, being of great architectural
beauty and noble proportions. It is entirely composed of richly carved
stone-work, and is crowned by a number of graceful spires and minarets.
The interior is magnificently ornamented with gilding and sculpture, and
the pavement is composed of rich Mosaics of various coloured marbles.
The tomb containing the remains of the Emperor occupies the centre of
the mosque, and is less elaborately ornamented than any other part of
it, being composed of plain slabs of white marble on which some extracts
from the Koran are inscribed.

The bazaar is of circular form, the streets composing it radiating from
an open space in its centre, and presenting a thronged and busy aspect.
The principal articles of merchandize which attracted our notice were
cashmere shawls of the richest and most expensive patterns, and costly
silks of every description. A considerable trade is also carried on in
preserved fruits, which find their way from here to the most distant
parts of Hindostan. In the fruit market we observed grapes which
measured nearly two inches in circumference; peaches, whose rich bloom
and luscious quality gratified at once the eye and the palate; and
strawberries, such as the hot houses of Europe, and all the inventions
of horticultural science could not force into existence. As to apples
and pears, fruits prized in the western hemisphere, they were in such
abundance and of such low price, that they were only deemed worthy of
furnishing food for cattle. Almost all the necessaries of life were in
equal profusion, beef fetching only a penny, and mutton twopence the
pound. It may be readily imagined that to the tired and half-starved
soldier, Cabul appeared almost a second land of promise.



CHAPTER X.

Triumphant Entry of Shah Soojah into Cabul.--The Cabul Races.--Death of
Brigadier General Arnold.--Sale of the General's effects.--Arrival of
Prince Timour.--The Sikhs.--Murder of Colonel Herring.--Arrival of money
and supplies from the Upper Provinces.


It having been announced that early on the morning of the 8th of August
the Shah would take formal possession of the Balar Hissar, the troops
were under arms and in review order at ten o'clock. The
Commander-in-Chief, the Politicals, and the whole of the general
officers and staff rode up, shortly after, to the tent of his Majesty,
at which I happened that morning to be stationed as orderly, and were
kept waiting some time. Sir William McNaghten and Sir Alexander Burnes
were at length summoned to the Shah's presence, and having remained with
him a few minutes, they came out and informed the Commander-in-Chief, it
was his Majesty's pleasure that the ceremony should be postponed until
three o'clock the same afternoon. The reason assigned for this
alteration was understood to be an augury pronounced by his Majesty's
priests or soothsayers, that the hour was unpropitious, an opinion in
which the troops devoutly concurred, the prospect of broiling for
several hours under a meridian sun not being extremely agreeable.

At the appointed hour the troops were again under arms, and salvoes of
artillery announced the Shah's departure from his tent. His Majesty was,
as usual, borne on an elephant, the howdah of which was of silver, and
the caparisons crimson and gold. On each side of him sat Sir William Mc
Naghten and Sir Alexander Burnes, the former attired in the same court
dress which he had worn at Candahar. His Majesty appeared in excellent
health and spirits, and addressed much of his conversation to Sir
Alexander Burnes, who seemed to be high in his favour. The Shah's
costume was, as usual, magnificent, his turban being ornamented with a
single diamond, whose value was estimated at £100,000. Immediately after
came six elephants, containing the ministers and household of the Shah,
and then followed the Commander-in-Chief, with the whole of the general
officers and staff in brilliant uniforms, and decorated with their
various orders. The next feature in the procession, and a ludicrous one
it was, was the appearance of two burly-looking fellows, dressed in red
and yellow, and wearing conical caps, out of which shot two large
horns. We at first supposed they were his Highness's jesters, but
instead of that they turned out to be his executioners, functionaries
far more essential to the comfort of an Asiatic prince. The Shah's
troops, consisting of two thousand infantry, brought up the rear, our
own lining the route along which the procession passed. On approaching
the city his Highness was received with loud acclamations by the
populace, who gave expression to their satisfaction in barbarous music
and salvoes of small fire arms. Many of the houses were decorated with
flowers, and the windows were crowded with spectators. At the entrance,
and in the courts of the palace, was stationed a body of about 250
horsemen, whose steel armour and splendid horses gave them a martial and
imposing appearance. They received us with stern and scowling looks,
which plainly indicated that their hearts were not in the ceremony which
they were compelled to sanction by their presence. On the Shah's
entrance into the palace he held a durbar, at which all the British
officers were presented to him, and his Majesty took the opportunity of
expressing to them individually and collectively his thanks for the
exertions which they had made to replace him on his throne.

We had several reviews of the troops during our stay at Cabul, and on
each occasion we were honoured by the Shah's presence. In order to give
his Highness some notion of an English horse race, it was agreed that
the officers should get up sweepstakes amongst themselves, which the
Shah no sooner heard of, than he added a splendid gold hilted sword with
Damascus blade. This increased the spirit of competition, and the Derby
or Oaks was never looked forward to with more eager interest. The place
selected for the course was a level plain immediately beyond our lines,
and about a mile and a half from the city.

From sixteen to twenty horses belonging to the officers of the different
regiments were entered for the sword, and it was resolved that three
heats should be run for it, the first six horses of the first heat being
privileged to run the second, and the third heat being limited to the
first and second horses of the second heat. It was agreed that the
sweepstakes, which amounted to a considerable sum, should be divided
into three parts, for the different breeds and ages of cattle so as to
prolong the sport for three or four days.

Six o'clock in the evening being the time fixed for the commencement of
the races, the course became crowded, long before that hour, with
anxious spectators, the natives not being amongst the least eager
lookers on at this, to them, novel scene. The Shah took up his position
near the winning post, attended by the Politicals, and the
Commander-in-Chief, but his Majesty did not appear to take much
interest in the sport, and he left the course before it was half over.

The officers rode their own horses and turned out in gay striped jackets
and jockey caps; so that but for the dark faces and turbaned heads which
every where encountered the eye it would not have been difficult to
imagine ourselves suddenly transported to Ascot or Epsom. The word
having been given, away started the competitors in high blood and
spirits; and as the rider belonging to some particular regiment passed
the others in his career, the men composing it enthusiastically cheered
and hurraed him, others taking up their shouts as their favourite passed
him in turn, this military favouritism imparting to the contest a degree
of wild excitement such as I have never witnessed on any similar
occasion.

The second heat was still more warmly contested, as, according to the
regulations above mentioned only the two foremost horses could be
entered for the third. Major Daly of the 4th Light Dragoons, and an
officer of the 16th Lancers, whose name I now forget, obtained the
precedence, after a hard struggle, the race being a neck and neck one
the entire way.

As the two successful officers belonged to different divisions, one to
the Bengal and the other to the Bombay army, the partizanship which
before had been only regimental now extended to the two armies, and
"Bravo Bengal," "Bravo Bombay," burst at every moment from the eager
multitudes assembled, as the riders alternately passed or repassed each
other in the final heat.

After a contest in which the competitors themselves almost appeared to
feel the influence which pervaded the crowd, and to think that the honor
of their respective divisions depended upon their success, Major Daly
gained the race by about a neck, and was handed the sword amid the
delighted cheers of the Bombay troops and the congratulations of his
brother officers. The races continued two days longer, and afforded a
pleasant recreation to the men after the fatiguing and harassing duties
of the last few months.

Brigadier General Arnold of the army of the Indus, having been long
suffering under a liver complaint, breathed his last at Cabul shortly
after our arrival there. This officer was distinguished for his
qualities as a _bon vivant_, and having laid in a good store of
necessaries for the campaign, was the only one almost who fared well
amidst the general privations. He kept an excellent table along the
route, and an invitation to it, was always regarded as amongst the lucky
chances by which fortune signified her favour. Good living could not
however protect the General against disease, and he fell ill at Candahar
of a malady which is often said to be the result of it. He was carried
from Candahar to Cabul in a palankeen, and took no part whatever in the
events which occurred between those places. His remains were interred in
the Armenian burial ground, outside the walls of the city, and his
effects were publicly sold by auction a few days after. The General had
left Bengal with about eighty camels laden with baggage and necessaries,
of which about five and twenty remained at the time of the sale. His
trunks were filled with quantities of plate, a goodly provision of snuff
and cigars, and such an immense stock of linen that it occupied two days
of the sale. His cooking apparatus was most elaborate and ingenious, and
we could not help wondering at the uses to which the infinite varieties
of small and curious articles of which it was composed were devoted. The
prices at which these effects were sold will appear incredible to the
European reader, but it must be remembered that it was the scarcity, in
fact the almost total impossibility of getting them, that enhanced their
value. The cigars sold at the rate of about two shillings and six pence
each, the snuff at ten shillings an ounce, a few bottles of beer, a
liquor of which no other officer in the army possessed a drop, at thirty
shillings each, and some choice wines at from three to four pounds the
bottle. The other things brought proportionate prices, the shirts
fetching from thirty to forty shillings each. The amount realised at
this sale must have been enormous.

Prince Timour, the eldest son of Shah Soojah, arrived at Cabul early in
September, escorted by the troops of Runjeet Singh. We expected to find
the Sikhs an undisciplined horde of barbarians, but they turned out on
the contrary to be nearly as well organized as ourselves, being
disciplined by French officers, and marching with the same order and
regularity as a European regiment. Each division was headed by an
excellent military band and officered by the same number of grades as
ourselves. The men were in general about the middle height, and not so
muscular or well formed as the Affghans. They are made, however, of the
right material for the soldier, being brave, orderly, and tractable, and
though they may be considered in some respects inferior to the European
troops, they are in my opinion, equal if not superior, to the Sepoys. A
detachment consisting of the 4th Light Dragoons, the 16th Lancers, and
her Majesty's Queen's Royals, under the command of Major-General Sir
Thomas Wiltshire, was despatched to receive the Prince with fitting
honors. He was met at a short distance from the town by the British
escort, and conducted to the palace amid salvoes of Artillery. The
Prince was a fine youth about one or two and twenty, with a frank
expression of countenance and affable manners. The meeting between him
and his royal father was said to be extremely affecting, and the Prince
was unceasing in his expressions of gratitude to the British for
bringing about this happy reunion.

Large supplies of arrack, biscuits, and rice, together with money to pay
the troops, having been promised from the Upper Provinces, their arrival
was looked forward to with some anxiety in the camp, as we could not
leave Cabul without them. Information was at length received that
Colonel Herring was on his way through the Punjaub, and after a tedious
and harassing journey, in which he had to encounter frequent opposition
to his progress from the mountain tribes, he at length reached Hyder
Khail within one day's march of Cabul. Riding out alone next morning,
for the purpose of inspecting the country, the Colonel was set upon by a
body of Affghans and barbarously murdered, his body being plundered of
every article of value he had about him, and his horse carried off. His
mutilated remains were found in the course of the day by some troopers,
who had been sent out in search of him, and brought to Cabul along with
the stores, which reached that place in safety the same night. He was
interred with military honours in the Armenian burial-ground, on the
following day. The deceased had been long in the service, and was a
gallant and experienced officer. We heard that his murderers were
captured shortly after we left Cabul, and put to a dreadful death, by
order of the Shah.



CHAPTER XI.

Institution of the Order of the Doorannee Empire.--Murder of a Private
of the 13th Light Infantry.--Departure from Cabul.--Return to
Ghuznee.--Accident to the Revd. Mr. Pigot.--Discovery of the Skeletons
of British Soldiers.--Horse-steaks.--Treachery of some Ghiljie Chiefs
and destruction of their Fort.--Adventure of a Dragoon.--Loss of a Cook.


In order to testify his gratitude towards the British, the Shah resolved
to institute an order of merit, to be called the order of the Doorannee
Empire, and to confer its respective grades upon three classes of
officers, namely, Generals, Brigadier Generals, and Field Officers. A
durbar having been summoned, at which the Ministers of State, the
Politicals, and a number of British Officers were present, a chapter of
the order was held, and his Majesty, as Sovereign, invested the
Commander-in-Chief, several general and field officers, and the
Politicals with the decoration, which consisted of a sort of Maltese
cross with a jewel in the centre. His Majesty was also pleased to
express his desire that every officer, non-commissioned officer, and
private soldier in the army should receive a silver medal, commemorative
of the campaign, and for this purpose placed a large sum of money at the
disposal of Sir John Keane. The Queen's sanction has been obtained to
the measure, but the medal has not as yet been issued.

Leave had been given by the officers in command of the different
regiments to men entering the town to carry their side arms, as a
protection in case of chance collision with the inhabitants. The
facility of obtaining intoxicating liquors rendered this a contingency
of not unlikely occurrence, and our men soon got themselves into
unpleasant and in some instances dangerous scrapes. On one occasion, a
private of the 13th Light Infantry having been drinking rather freely,
forced himself into the apartments of the wife of a respectable
inhabitant. Proceeding to offer her some violence, her screams alarmed
the neighbourhood, and the soldier was soon surrounded by a host of
angry husbands and fathers, armed with every description of weapon. He
defended himself with his bayonet for some time, contenting himself with
merely parrying their blows, and had fought his way into the street,
when he was met by several others of the townspeople, who set upon the
unfortunate fellow and instantly despatched him. They secreted the body
until night-fall, and then threw it outside the walls of the town, where
it was discovered next morning.

It having been determined that early in September part of the forces
should set out on their return homeward, the choice fell upon her
Majesty's 17th Foot, the 2nd or Queen's Royals, one Company of Foot
Artillery, a detachment of the 4th Light Dragoons, the 1st regiment of
Bombay Light Cavalry, and two troops of Bombay Horse Artillery, the
whole under the command of Major General Sir Thomas Wiltshire. It would
naturally be supposed that after so long an absence from quarters, we
hailed this intimation with something like pleasure, but such was far
from being the fact. We had rioted in profusion and luxury, and did not
relish the idea of again encountering the privations of the long and
dreary route which lay between us and India. Added to this we had seen
but little of actual fighting, and the promotions had been consequently
few.

Promotion and prize money are the all engrossing subjects of a soldier's
ambition, and this speedy return put an end at once to our long
cherished hopes. We well knew that the restless and turbulent spirit of
the Affghan Chiefs would not permit them to remain long in subjection to
Shah Soojah, and that there would consequently be more work for the
British troops. Regret and envy of our more fortunate comrades were
therefore the predominant feelings which pervaded nearly the whole of
the departing troops.

We left Cabul on the 14th of September, and arrived at Ghuznee, the
scene of our former exploits, after eight days' march, during which
nothing worthy of mention occurred. It is astonishing how soon the
traces of war disappear, and the living gaps caused by its ravages are
filled up. The fortress appeared as perfect in its outline as if the
hand of the destroyer had not recently passed over it, new gates having
been substituted for those which had been damaged, and the breach
immediately above them re-filled with masonry. The inhabitants of the
bazaar had resumed their accustomed occupations, and scolded, and
chaffered, and jested, and laughed, as if they had neither lost
relatives nor friends, nor dabbled through mire freshly reeking with
their blood. Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt and blunts the
feelings, and the Asiatic, before whose eyes such scenes pass almost
daily, thinks of them only as the immutable decrees of fate, which
cannot be shunned, and ought not to be repined at.

The sick and wounded, of whom we had left numbers at Ghuznee, had almost
all died, and were interred in an open space selected for the purpose
outside the walls of the fortress. The last resting-place of our brave
fellows is situated at the foot of one of the adjacent mountains, but
neither stone nor inscription indicates the spot.

The Bengal regiment of Native Infantry, whom we found in garrison at
Ghuznee on our return, and whom we left after us, appeared to be quite
as well reconciled to their quarters as we were at Cabul, although the
two places appeared to me vastly different in point of health and
comfort. The majority of the inhabitants regarded the troops with a sort
of sullen indifference, but the trading classes seemed civil enough. The
quantities of fish and game with which the neighbourhood abounded,
afforded the officers a ready means of dissipating their time, and we
would have been well content to have remained here. Orders were however
given that we should pursue our route, and we left Ghuznee on the 25th
of September, after a stay of only two or three days.

Instead of diverging to the right towards Candahar, we took the direct
route to Quettah, over the Ghiljie hills. The weather had become
intensely cold, and the rivers and streams were covered with ice,
several inches in thickness. The Rev. Mr. Pigot, our chaplain, happened
to be crossing one of them on a pony, when the ice gave way with his
weight, and the worthy clergyman was immersed in the water. The stream
was not, however, so deep as to occasion any alarm for his safety, and
he was speedily rescued from his embarrasment, with no other
inconvenience than being kept shivering several hours in his wet
clothes, his baggage being at a considerable distance in advance. The
rascally native who preceded us as guide grinned maliciously, and told
him that if he had not forgotten to say his prayers setting out the
accident would not have happened.

On encamping, at the close of the first day's march, from Ghuznee, some
soldiers belonging to the 17th Infantry and Queen's Royals, went out in
search of water, and met with a draw well, which proved to be dry. One
of them descended in order to examine it more closely, and an
exclamation of horror escaped him as he reached the bottom. On his
companions enquiring the occasion of it, they learned that he had fallen
upon several skeletons, the identity of which with some soldiers we had
lost on the route upwards was placed beyond doubt by fragments of
military clothing and regimental buttons which lay scattered about.
Singular to relate, a lark had built its nest in one of the skulls, and
was found innocently reposing with its young in this curious receptacle.

The annoyances to which we had been subjected during our route upwards,
from the thieving system of warfare pursued by the Affghans, seemed now
at an end. Our road lay through bleak and desolate hills, where only a
solitary, and timid mountaineer was occasionally to be seen. Numerous
rivers and streams traversed this wild country in every direction, and
relieved us from all apprehensions on the score of water. Provisions
were also plentiful, as the Commissariat had taken care to lay in
sufficient supplies, and the only inconvenience which we might be said
to have experienced was the severe cold of the nights. The barren nature
of the country rendered fuel difficult of obtainment, and the
consequence was that numbers of the troops were carried off by
dysentery.

The march from Ghuznee to Quettah occupied about five weeks, and we
thought we should never reach the end of these long chains of hills.
Always ascending and descending heights of no inconsiderable elevation,
the horses became regularly knocked up with fatigue, and we were obliged
to shoot numbers of them on the way.

In a recess in one of these hills, I one day came upon a singular scene.
About nine or ten of the natives were assembled around a dead horse and
while part of them were cutting steaks from his haunches, the others
were engaged cooking them. Revolting as such a sight is to European
stomachs, I have seen the time when, on our march upwards, I could have
partaken of these same horse steaks with infinite relish.

A few days before our arrival at Quettah, we requited an atrocious act
of treachery, which had been committed towards us by some Ghiljie
chiefs, with the punishment it richly merited. About one hundred camel
drivers, who had left us at Candahar, on our way to Cabul, for the
purpose of returning homewards, took their route over the hills we were
now crossing in order to shorten the journey. They were met by the
Ghiljies with professions of friendship, and seduced into a mountain
fort under the pretence of hospitality. They had no sooner entered its
walls than their throats were all cut, and their bodies flung into deep
wells for the purpose of concealing the massacre from the eyes of the
British.

Information of the fact having been received, Sir Thomas Wiltshire
despatched a Squadron of her Majesty's 4th Light Dragoons, two companies
of Native Infantry, and two pieces of artillery to raze the fortress to
the ground. The cavalry started at two o'clock in the morning, and after
a hard gallop of eighteen miles we arrived in front of the Ghiljie
strong-hold. It was a small but strongly constructed fortress, situated
on the brow of a steep declivity and defended by strong wooden gates.
The entrance was commanded by an old iron carronade, and a number of
loopholes for the discharge of musketry. Not a living soul was to be
seen on the walls, and fearing some artifice, Major Daly, our commanding
officer, resolved to suspend operations until the artillery came up. As
soon as the latter made its appearance, and the guns were placed in a
position to command the fort, Major Daly ordered part of the cavalry to
dismount and proceed with loaded carbines to the gate, under cover of
their fire. No opposition was, however, offered to us, the enemy having
fled to the mountains, and the gates were forced open in a few minutes.

The only inhabitants we found in the place were a few women and
children, but we discovered quantities of the richest silks and carpets,
beside arms and money (consisting principally of silver coins) the
fortress being a sort of depot for the booty obtained by these highland
marauders.

One of the cavalry having entered a dwelling in search of plunder, was
suddenly seized by two or three Ghiljies, who unexpectedly made their
appearance through a sort of trap, with which almost every house in the
fort was furnished. They placed a bandage over his eyes, and were in
the act of passing a rope round his arms, when the timely approach of
some of his comrades saved him from being carried off as a prisoner, the
enemy disappearing through the trap the moment they heard the noise of
their footsteps at the entrance. The troopers would have willingly
pursued them, but the depth and darkness of the subterraneous passage
convinced them it was something more than a mere cellar, and they knew
that if they once got involved in its windings they would be completely
at the mercy of the enemy. It is probable that these passages had
outlets without the walls, and that it was through them the enemy made
their escape at the first news of our approach, the suddenness and
quickness of our movements preventing them from taking their valuables
with them. There was also abundance of cattle and grain, of which we
brought off large supplies to the camp. Orders having been given to the
Artillery to blow up the fortress, the women and children were sent out
of it, and at five o'clock the same day the walls were breached, so as
to render them completely useless, and the houses fired in all
directions. After remaining to see that the work of destruction was
complete, we quitted the place at three o'clock in the morning, and
arrived the same day at the encampment. The enemy were not entirely
without their revenge, for, following on our footsteps, and watching us
closely, they contrived to carry off the cook, and three camels laden
with the cooking utensils of the squadron, a loss which was severely
felt, and by some thought ill compensated by the booty we had obtained.



CHAPTER XII.

Arrival at Quettah.--Storming of the Fortress of Khelat.--Suicide
of a Trooper belonging to the Horse Artillery.--Departure from
Quettah.--The Bholun Pass.--Dadur.--Bagh.--Breaking out of the
Cholera.--Death of Doctor Forbes.--Shikarpoor.--Death of Captain
Ogle.--Sukkur-Bukkur.--Death of Lieutenant Janvrin.--Wedding Ceremonies
of the Natives.--Breaking up of the Bombay Column.--Departure of
Brigadier Scott.--Boar Hunt.--Larkhana.--Sehwan.--Kurrachee.--Feast of
the Mohurrum.--Embarkation and Arrival at Bombay.


We reached Quettah on the 29th of October, and the army separated into
two divisions there, one to proceed by the fortress of Khelat, to punish
the Khan for the treacherous trick which he had played us on our way up,
and the other to return homeward through the Bholun Pass. The force
destined for military operations against Khelat consisted of her
Majesty's 2nd or Queen's Royals, her Majesty's 17th regiment of Foot,
the 35th Bengal Native Infantry, one company of Foot Artillery, one
troop of Horse Artillery, with the Poona Irregular Horse, the whole
under the command of Major-General Sir Thomas Wiltshire. As my
detachment was not included in this expedition, owing to the fatigued
condition of the horses, and the difficulty of procuring forage on the
route, I can only describe the storming of Khelat from the reports of
those who were present at it.

The fortress of Khelat was very little inferior to Ghuznee in point of
strength, being defended by strong breastworks and mounted with large
cannon. The garrison consisted of from twelve to fourteen hundred men,
and there was abundance of provisions and ammunition in the place. After
reconnoitring its position Sir Thomas Wiltshire resolved on carrying it
by storm, and the affair was a short but brilliant one. A battery was
erected on one of the neighbouring heights, and a well directed fire
soon brought the gates down. The stormers then rushed up the causeway
under cover of our guns; but before they had reached the gateway, a
heavy fire from the loopholes of the fortress killed from twenty to
thirty of our troops, amongst whom was Lieutenant Gravatt, who was
gallantly leading them on. A desperate hand to hand fight then ensued,
the enemy resisting in dense masses, and disputing every inch of ground;
but our men carried all before them, at the point of the bayonet, and
drove the enemy into the interior of the fortress, where they were
headed by the Khan himself. The old Chieftain fought with desperation
and though frequently offered quarter, indignantly refused to accept it.
He and the followers by whom he was surrounded were all bayonetted on
the spot, and in about four hours the whole of the fortress was in the
possession of our troops. In the immediate vicinity of the place where
the Khan was killed, a shocking spectacle presented itself. His favorite
women, about twelve or fourteen in number, lay heaped together in a pool
of blood, their throats having been cut by order of the Khan, to prevent
their falling into our hands. A large quantity of treasure, consisting
of specie and jewels, was found in the citadel, and had the Cavalry been
present more would have fallen into the hands of our troops, as the
enemy were observed despatching it to the hills, on camels, through one
of the back gates, during the heat of the assault. Amongst the various
effects which were captured on this occasion were several boxes of arms
and accoutrements, which had been plundered from us on our way to Cabul,
and a telescope and some books, which had belonged to one of our
officers. Cattle and grain were also found in great abundance, and
proved of no small service to the division, on its route homeward,
through the Gundava pass. The fortress was completely dismantled before
the departure of the troops, and the Chiefs and other prisoners
liberated on promising allegiance to the Shah.

Amongst the residents whom we found at Quettah on our arrival was a
Bombay Parsee, who had ventured up to that place with supplies,
consisting of tea, sugar, hams, brandy, beer, wines, and other
necessaries. To the soldier as well as the officer these articles were a
welcome treat, and having plenty of money to purchase them we soon
exhausted the stores of the enterprising trader who had reason to
congratulate himself on the successful issue of his trip.

The morning previous to our departure a suicide occurred under
circumstances which gave rise to the suspicion that the wretched
perpetrator of it intended to have preluded it by the crime of murder. A
trooper belonging to the Horse Artillery was placed under arrest for
some trifling neglect of duty, and as soon as he was liberated he took a
loaded pistol and went directly to the tent of the adjutant of his corps
who had fortunately quitted it a few minutes before. The disappointed
trooper returned to his lines and immediately blew his own brains out.

We left Quettah on the 1st of November, about nine o'clock at night,
taking with us the sick who had been left behind on our way to Cabul,
and who were now sufficiently restored to proceed homeward. In
consequence of the scarcity of water on the route we were obliged to
make a forced march of eight and twenty miles, and reached the entrance
to the Bholun Pass at six o'clock the next morning. We entertained a
lively recollection of the reception we had met with on our former
passage through this defile, and now felt some misgivings that we should
not be allowed to retrace our steps without a repetition of the favours
which were then so liberally showered upon us. To our great
gratification and contentment, however, the Belochees offered us no sort
of obstruction, and could they have facilitated our progress through
their country, would, I have little doubt, been well inclined to do so.
We occasionally caught glimpses of them watching our movements at a
respectful distance, but they never ventured within musket shot during
the whole of our passage. We lost two or three men from sickness before
we cleared the defile, and found it almost impossible to inter them from
the stony nature of the strata with which the whole of this district is
covered.

Quitting the Bholun we proceeded to Dadur, and thence to Bagh, through a
jungle abounding with every sort of game, but more particularly deer and
wild boar. The troops made their way with considerable difficulty
through the intricacies of this entangled route, the pioneers being in
constant requisition to clear a passage for them.

On the 24th of November we arrived at Bagh, a village situated at the
Cabul side of the desert, elsewhere described. The place consists of a
few miserable huts, surrounded by fields of joharra, and containing only
one tank of stagnant water. Doctor Forbes, of the 1st Light Cavalry, an
officer universally esteemed for his benevolence, hearing that the
Natives were dying in numbers of the cholera, immediately hastened to
the village to tender his services. He was seized by the epidemic and
returned to his quarters in a dying state. The unfortunate gentleman
expired in a few hours afterwards, and was interred the same day. Five
or six of the European troops were attacked in like manner, and were
immediately hurried to the hospital tents, where two of them died, but
the others struggled successfully against the disease. Brigadier Scott,
taking alarm at these unequivocal evidences of malaria, gave orders that
we should proceed across the desert without a moment's delay, and we
accordingly struck our tents at four o'clock the same day, carrying our
sick along with us. On reaching the extremity of the desert we found the
1st regiment of Bombay Grenadiers, with a large convoy of provisions and
stores for the use of the army. These supplies should have reached us at
the other side of the Bholun, but the escort had been attacked by the
cholera on the route, and were obliged to remain stationary until the
disease had abated. We found them nearly all convalescent and about to
continue their route. We took from them a stock of provisions, and
pursued our march.

We arrived at Shikarpoor with a great number of sick who had fallen ill
of the epidemic on the way, and it was resolved that we should remain
here a few days. Shikarpoor is a large well built town, and contains
two fine mosques, several roofed bazaars, and two or three large
manufactories. The British Resident has a fine house here, the gardens
of which are tastefully laid out in the European style. Notwithstanding
the clean looking appearance of the town it is far from being healthy,
and from ten to twelve of our troops were daily carried off by the
cholera during our stay. Amongst the number was Captain Ogle of the 4th
Light Dragoons, who fell a victim to his humanity in visiting the sick
of his troop. This lamented gentleman was only in his thirtieth year,
and was a great favourite with his corps. He was unfortunately a married
man, and had been looking forward with feelings of eager anticipation to
his reunion with his family. Being of a buoyant and joyous temperament,
his loss was felt severely in the circle of his brother officers; his
ready jest and imperturbable good humour rendering him the life and
soul of the mess table. Captain Ogle looked upon the private soldier as
something more than a mere automaton placed at his disposal, and whilst
he had always a due regard for the discipline of the service, he
exercised the power entrusted to him with humanity and judgment, the act
in which he lost his life being but the last of a countless series of
generous and disinterested offices which he was in the habit of
performing for those under his command. Few men have left behind them a
memory so associated with every thing that is valuable and estimable in
social and military life.

Leaving Shikarpoor, on the 27th of November, we arrived on the following
day at Sukkur Bukkur, a town situated on the banks of the Indus, and
having its citadel on a rock in the centre of the river. The cholera
rapidly disappeared here; but we sustained another loss in the person of
Lieutenant Janvrin, the acting Quarter-Master of our detachment, who
was carried off by the small-pox. On the opposite bank of the river lies
Roree, a village remarkable only for its manufactures, which consist
principally of silks. Several of us having obtained leave to visit the
place, we were strolling through the bazaar, when we observed
preparations for a wedding in progress. Taking up a position which
enabled us to see what was passing, without obtruding on the parties
concerned, we waited patiently until the ceremonies commenced. At the
expiration of about a quarter of an hour the bridegroom made his
appearance in front of the house which contained his betrothed, and both
in person and attire he was all that a native belle could have desired.
He was a fine, muscular looking fellow of about seven or eight and
twenty, with handsome features and bold and jaunty air. He was dressed
in a loose robe, of spotless white, and without any ornaments or
weapons whatsoever. Proceeding directly to the door of the house which
contained his Dulcinea he knocked at it three times with the knuckles of
his right hand and once with his left. He then threw himself prostrate
on a mat which had been made for the purpose, by the lady's own hands,
and there waited her coming forth. The door presently opened, and a
number of musicians immediately struck up a wild and discordant air. A
timid and pretty looking maiden, about fourteen years of age, showily
dressed in different coloured silks, and ornamented with a nose ring and
bangles of pure gold, at length stepped forth, followed by her relatives
and friends, who formed themselves into a circle around her. The
bridegroom starting to his feet made a formal claim to the hand of his
affianced and presented her with a garland of flowers, which she
gracefully threw across her shoulders, in token that she accepted him,
and then suffered him to embrace her. Lifting her in his arms he placed
her on the back of a donkey, and they went in procession to pay visits
of ceremony through the town, the bride distributing sweetmeats to the
crowd, as she passed along. The bridegroom showered his favours about in
the form of some red powder, which he flung in the faces of all near
him, and especially in those of the Europeans, of whom there were a good
many present. He half blinded some of us, and conferred as dark a hue as
his own upon others--freaks that appeared to give infinite delight and
amusement to the natives, but which were not taken in quite as good part
by some testy fellows amongst us. Having arrived at the house of the
bridegroom's father, the old gentleman graciously descended, and taking
the bride in his arms, bore her into his dwelling. The bridegroom
remained a few minutes after them, and flinging some cowries to the
musicians and crowd, he made a salaam and darted in after his
_inamorata_.

We remained at Sukkur about six weeks, in consequence of an order
forwarded after us by Sir William Mc Naghten, under the apprehension
that our services would be again wanted at Cabul. The Indus being
navigable up to the town, we had plentiful supplies of provisions and
other necessaries at moderate prices, and felt tolerably satisfied with
our quarters. As to the probability of our having to return to Cabul,
the Cavalry felt at ease regarding the rumours which prevailed, for they
well knew that the condition of their horses put such a thing completely
out of the question. An order at length arrived that the various
brigades of the Bombay column should be broken up, and that the troops
composing them should return to their respective quarters. Brigadier
General Scott, and his aides de camp, accordingly left us by one of the
first boats which sailed down the Indus for Bombay, and we remained
under the command of the officers of our respective regiments.

We passed our time hunting in the jungles, in the vicinity of the camp,
or in fishing in the river, both of which proved prolific sources of
amusement. I went out several times to chase the wild boar, and on one
of these occasions the sport nearly proved fatal to me. Proceeding with
two of my comrades, and a native for guide, through a dense and almost
impenetrable part of the jungle, we suddenly roused a huge boar, which
turned fiercely upon us, and made directly at the nearest of its
pursuers, which, as chance would have it, happened to be me. He had me
down on the earth in a twinkling, and would have made short work of me
had not a well-directed shot from one of my companions struck him right
between the eyes, and tumbled him lifeless on the ground. The man to
whom I owed my safety exhibited admirable coolness, and
self-possession, for the slightest deviation in his aim would have sent
the bullet through me instead of the object for which it was intended.
It was with the greatest difficulty we contrived to drag our prize into
camp, for he weighed no less than from twenty-five to thirty stone, and
supplied the troop with pork chops until we were tired of them.

The importance of Sukkur as a military position cannot be exaggerated.
It forms the key to Scinde, and the Indus being navigable up to the
fortress, its supplies do not depend on season or circumstance. These
advantages have not been overlooked, for it has since been retained in
the possession of our troops, and will always serve as a _point d'appui_
in any future operations we may undertake at that side of the Indus.

After passing nearly six weeks at Sukkur, we took the route to Larkhana
along the right bank of the Indus. The road lay, as before, through a
jungle, and the occasional glimpses which we caught of the river through
the clearances gave a picturesque effect to the scenery. We arrived at
Larkhana on the 19th of January, and remained there only one day.
Proceeding thence to Sehwan we reached the latter place in about four
days, and found a gun boat belonging to the Hon. Company lying at
moorings in the river. We left Sehwan on the following day, and taking a
farewell of the River Indus we proceeded towards the coast through a
wild and deserted district, in which we found neither villages nor
inhabitants.

Within one day's march of Kurrachee we found a number of tombs richly
sculptured and covered with inscriptions from the Koran, which were said
to contain the remains of some of the native princes. There being
abundance of excellent water here, and Kurrachee having the reputation
of not being extremely healthy, it was determined that we should
remained encamped here until the Khelat division formed a junction with
us. It was not till the end of February, however, that the Khelat forces
made their appearance, having kept us waiting about five weeks, and on
the day after their arrival we marched into Kurrachee where we found her
Majesty's 40th regiment.

Kurrachee is situated on the Coast of Belochistan, and its natural
advantages entitle it to the rank of a first rate sea-port town. It
possesses a fine harbour, in which a seventy-four gun ship may ride in
safety, and which is protected by the batteries of the town, and the
guns of a fortress occupying an island about midway between the mainland
and the promontory which forms the harbour. On our arrival at Scinde,
instructions had been forwarded to Commodore Pepper, by the
Commander-in-Chief, to invest the place, and we accordingly found it in
possession of our troops on our return.

The town is large but irregularly built, and is surrounded by walls and
bastions, on which we saw some pieces of cannon, but they were of small
calibre, and of the worst possible construction. To the north of the
town we observed a superb banyan tree, which extended its foliage to
such a distance, that it formed a pavilion capable of containing a small
stone mosque for the accommodation of a number of Faquirs or priests. Of
the many curious specimens of this class that I have met with in Asia, I
have seen none so utterly degraded and isolated from every thing like
humanity. Their bodies were thickly coated over with ashes and red
paint, and their hair clotted with filthy moisture. They were surrounded
by every sort of abomination, and howled and whined like a set of wild
beasts. That they had not reduced themselves to this savage state
merely from fanaticism we had abundant opportunities of discovering, for
we saw the inhabitants of Kurrachee daily pouring into the temple with
rich presents and offerings, and propitiating their good will by
sacrifices of their most precious and valuable effects. To the left of
the Mosque lies a tank, or reservoir, about fifty feet long by thirty
broad, in which we saw a number of live alligators, which are carefully
fed by the priests, and held in the greatest possible veneration and awe
by the deluded votaries who repair there.

The feast of the Mohurrum had commenced a few hours before our arrival,
but we were in time to witness the greater part of it. A short
description of these singular rites may not be uninteresting to the
reader. A hole being dug in the ground to the depth of about six or
eight feet, fire is placed in it, and the devotees dance round it, with
the most extravagant exclamations and gestures, some dashing square
pieces of iron or brass together, to add to the effect. According as one
set of dancers becomes fatigued they are replaced by another, and thus
the ceremonies are kept up without intermission from sunset to daybreak.
When the moon is at its full they march in procession to the water's
side, preceded by their Taboots, a sort of fantastical temple,
constructed of bamboo and gilt paper. I have seen one of these temples,
at Poona, of such large dimensions that it required an elephant to draw
it, and cost no less a sum than a thousand rupees. On reaching the
water's side the taboots are thrown in and allowed to float away with
the tide. This concludes the ceremonies and the wearied performers are
glad to return to their homes.

On returning towards the lines, from the Mohurrum, we saw a miserable
looking wretch squatted at the side of the road, who appeared to be in
deep affliction, for he was weeping bitterly and lamenting his hard
fate. I addressed him and inquired into the cause of his grief. He told
me that he had been induced to become a convert to Christianity by one
of the missionaries, and had been thrust out of the pale of social
intercourse from the moment the fact became known. He deplored his
having yielded to the arguments of the missionary, since they had
debarred him from participating in the religious ceremony which had just
terminated, its pomp and circumstance having evidently made a deeper
impression on his imagination than his conviction. We gave him some
relief and passed on, when our attention was again directed to him by
one of our companions, who had lingered behind. Several of the natives
had surrounded the poor convert, and were spitting upon him, and loading
him with the vilest reproaches. We returned to the spot and compelled
them to leave him in peace.

Amongst the British whom we found on our arrival at Kurrachee was Mr.
Masson, the author of an interesting work on Affghanistan, which has
been lately published. This gentleman had been originally a private
soldier in the Honourable Company's service, and had risen through
various grades to the profitable civil employ which he at present holds.
He rendered some important services to the company, for which they
awarded him a pension of £100 a-year, and much to his credit he settled
the whole of it on his aged mother.

After remaining at Kurrachee about ten days, the order was at length
issued for the embarkation of the Cavalry, which was now limited to my
own detachment. Upwards of thirty _pattemars_ were hired for the voyage,
and from twelve to fourteen men, and an equal number of horses, were
stowed in each. We had a quick and favourable passage, and arrived at
Bombay on the 10th of March, after an absence of nearly eighteen months.

THE END.



APPENDIX.



APPENDIX.


FROM THE DELHI GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY, OCTOBER 1, 1842.

"The Right Hon. the Govenor-General of India having with the concurrence
of the Supreme Council, directed the assemblage of a British force for
service across the Indus, his Lordship deems it proper to publish the
following exposition of reasons which have led to this important
measure.

"It is a matter of notoriety that the treaties entered into by the
British Government in the year 1832 with the Ameers of Scinde, the
Nawab of Bahawulpore, and Maharaja Runjeet Singh, had for their object,
by opening the navigation of the Indus, to facilitate the extension of
commerce, and to gain for the British nation in Central Asia that
legitimate influence which an interchange of benefits would naturally
produce.

"With a view to invite the aid of the _de facto_ rulers of Afghanistan
to the measures necessary for giving full effect to those treaties,
Captain Burnes was deputed, towards the close of the year 1836, on a
mission to Dost Mahomed Khan, chief of Cabul: the original objects of
that officer's mission were purely of a commercial nature.

"Whilst Captain Burnes, however, was on his journey to Cabul,
information was received by the Governor-General that the troops of Dost
Mahomed Khan had made a sudden and unprovoked attack on those of our
ancient ally, Maharaja Runjeet Singh. It was naturally to be
apprehended that his Highness the Maharaja would not be slow to avenge
this aggression, and it was to be feared that the flames of war being
once kindled in the very regions into which we were endeavouring to
extend our commerce, the peaceful and beneficial purposes of the British
Government would be altogether frustrated. In order to avert a result so
calamitous, the Governor-General resolved on authorising Captain Burnes
to intimate to Dost Mahomed Khan, that if he should evince a disposition
to come to just and reasonable terms with the Maharaja, his Lordship
would exert his good offices with his Highness for the restoration of an
amicable understanding between the two Powers. The Maharaja, with the
characteristic confidence which he has uniformly placed in the faith and
friendship of the British nation, at once assented to the proposition of
the Governor-General, to the effect that in the mean time hostilities
on his part should be suspended.

"It subsequently came to the knowledge of the Govenor-General that a
Persian army was besieging Herat; that intrigues were actively
prosecuted throughout Affghanistan, for the purpose of extending Persian
influence and authority to the banks of, and even beyond, the Indus; and
that the Court of Persia had not only commenced a course of injury and
insult to the officers of Her Majesty's mission in the Persian
territory, but had afforded evidence of being engaged in designs wholly
at variance with the principles and objects of its alliance with Great
Britain.

"After much time spent by Captain Burnes in fruitless negotiation at
Cabul, it appeared that Dost Mahomed Khan, chiefly in consequence of his
reliance upon Persian encouragement and assistance, persisted, as
respected his misunderstanding with the Sikhs, in urging the most
unreasonable pretensions, such as the Governor-General could not,
consistently with justice and his regard for the friendship of Maharajah
Runjeet Singh, be the channel of submitting to the consideration of his
Highness; that he avowed schemes of aggrandizement and ambition
injurious to the security and peace of the frontiers of India; and that
he openly threatened, in furtherance of these schemes, to call in every
foreign aid which he could command. Ultimately, he gave his undisguised
support to the Persian designs in Affghanistan, of the unfriendly and
injurious character of which, as concerned the British power in India,
he was well apprised; and by his utter disregard of the views and
interests of the British Government compelled Captain Burnes to leave
Cabul without having effected any of the objects of his mission.

"It was now evident that no further interference could be exercised by
the British Government to bring about a good understanding between the
Sikh ruler and Dost Mahomed Khan; and the hostile policy of the latter
chief showed too plainly that so long as Cabul remained under his
government we could never hope that the tranquillity of our
neighbourhood would be secured, or that the interests of our Indian
empire would be preserved inviolate.

"The Governor-General deems it in this place necessary to revert to the
siege of Herat and the conduct of the Persian nation. The siege of that
city had now been carried on by the Persian army for many months. The
attack upon it was a most unjustifiable and cruel aggression,
perpetrated and continued notwithstanding the solemn and repeated
remonstrances of the British Envoy at the Court of Persia, and after
every just and becoming offer of accommodation had been made and
rejected. The besieged have behaved with gallantry and fortitude worthy
of the justice of their cause, and the Govenor-General would yet
indulge the hope that their heroism may enable them to maintain a
successful defence until succours shall reach them from British India.
In the mean time the ulterior designs of Persia, affecting the interests
of the British Government, have been by a succession of events, more and
more openly manifested. The Governor-General has recently ascertained,
by an official despatch from Mr. M'Neil, Her Majesty's Envoy, that his
Excellency has been compelled, by the refusal of his just demands, and
by a systematic course of disrespect adopted towards him by the Persian
Government, to quit the court of the Schah, and to make a public
declaration of the cessation of all intercourse between the two
Governments. The necessity under which Great Britain is placed of
regarding the present advance of the Persian arms into Affghanistan as
an act of hostility towards herself, has also been officially
communicated to the Schah, under the express order of Her Majesty's
Government.

"The chiefs of Candahar (brothers of Dost Mahomed Khan, of Cabul) have
avowed their adherence to the Persian policy, with the same full
knowledge of its opposition to the rights and interests of the British
nation in India, and to have been openly assisting in the operations
against Herat.

"In the crisis of affairs consequent upon the retirement of our Envoy
from Cabul, the Governor-General felt the importance of taking immediate
measures for arresting the rapid progress of foreign intrigue and
aggression towards our own territories.

"His attention was naturally drawn, at this conjuncture, to the position
and claims of Schah Sooja-ool-Moolk, a monarch who, when in power, had
cordially acceded to the measures of united resistance to external
enmity which were, at that time judged necessary by the British
Government, and who, on his empire being usurped by its present rulers,
had found an honourable asylum in the British dominions.

"It had clearly been ascertained, from the information furnished by the
various officers who have visited Afghanistan, that the Barukzye chiefs,
from their disunion and unpopularity, were ill-fitted, under any
circumstances, to be useful allies to the British Government, and to aid
us in our just and necessary measures of national defence. Yet so long
as they refrained from proceedings injurious to our interests and
security, the British Government acknowledged and respected their
authority. But a different policy appeared to be now more than justified
by the conduct of those chiefs, and to be indispensable to our own
safety. The welfare of our possessions in the East requires that we
should have on our western frontier an ally who is interested in
resisting aggression and establishing tranquillity, in the place of
chiefs ranging themselves in subservience to a hostile Power, and
seeking to promote schemes of conquest and aggrandisement.

"After a serious and mature deliberation, the Governor-General was
satisfied that pressing necessity, as well as every consideration of
policy and justice, warranted us in espousing the cause of Schah
Sooja-ool-Moolk, whose popularity throughout Affghanistan had been
proved to his Lordship by the strong and unanimous testimony of the best
authorities. Having arrived at this determination, The Governor-General
was further of opinion that it was just and proper, no less from the
position of Maharaja Runjeet Singh, than from his undeviating friendship
towards the British Government, that his Highness should have the offer
of becoming a party to the contemplated operations. Mr. Macnaghten was
accordingly deputed in June last to the Court of his Highness, and the
result of his mission has been the conclusion of a tripartite treaty by
the British Government, the Maharaja, and Schah Sooja-ool-Moolk, whereby
his Highness is guaranteed in his present possessions, and has bound
himself to co-operate for the restoration of the Schah to the throne of
his ancestors. The friends and enemies of any one of the contracting
parties have been declared to be the friends and enemies of all. Various
points have been adjusted which had been the subject of discussion
between the British Government and his Highness the Maharaja, the
identity of whose interests with those of the hon. Company has now been
made apparent to all the surrounding States. A guaranteed independence
will, upon favourable conditions, be tendered to the Ameers of Scinde;
and the integrity of Herat, in the possession of its present ruler, will
be fully respected; whilst, by the measures completed or in progress it
may reasonably be hoped that the general freedom and security of
commerce will be promoted; that the name and just influence of the
British Government will gain their proper footing among the nations of
central Asia; that tranquillity will be established upon the most
important frontier in India, and that a lasting barrier will be raised
against hostile intrigue and encroachment.

"His Majesty Schah Sooja-ool-Moolk will enter Affghanistan surrounded by
his own troops, and will be supported against foreign interference and
factious opposition by a British army. The Governor-General confidently
hopes that the Schah will be speedily replaced on his throne by his own
subjects and adherents; and when once he shall be secured in power, and
the independence and integrity of Affghanistan established, the British
army will be withdrawn.

"The Governor-General has been led to these measures by the duty which
is imposed upon him of providing for the security of the British Crown;
but he rejoices that in the discharge of his duty he will be enabled to
assist in restoring the union and prosperity of the Affghan people.
Throughout the approaching operations British influence will be
sedulously employed to further every measure of general benefit, to
reconcile differences, to secure oblivion of injuries, and to put an end
to the distractions by which, for so many years, the welfare and
happiness of the Affghans have been impaired.

"Even to the chiefs whose hostile proceedings have given just cause of
offence to the British Government, it will seek to secure liberal and
honourable treatment, on their tendering early submission, and ceasing
from opposition to that course of measures which may be judged the most
suitable for the general advantage of their country.

"By order of the Right Hon. the Governor-General of India,

    "W. H. MACNAGHTEN,

    "Secretary to the Government of India,
    "with the Governor-General.

       *       *       *       *       *


"NOTIFICATION

"With reference to the preceding declaration, the following appointments
are made;--

"Mr. W. H. Macnaghten, secretary to Government, will assume the
functions of Envoy and Minister, on the part of the Government of India,
at the Court of Schah Sooja-ool-Moolk; Mr. Macnaghten will be assisted
by the following officers:--

"Captain Alexander Burnes, of the Bombay establishment, who will be
employed under Mr. Macnaghten's direction, as Envoy to the chief of
Khelat, or other states.

"Lieutenant E. D'Arcy Todd, of the Bengal Artillery, to be political
assistant and military secretary to the Envoy and Minister.

"Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger, of the Bombay Artillery; Lieutenant R.
Leech, of the Bombay Engineers; Mr. P. B. Lord, of the Bombay Medical
Establishment, to be political assistants to ditto ditto.

"Lieutenant E. R. Conolly, of the 6th Regiment Bengal Cavalry, to
command the escort of the Envoy and Minister, and to be military
assistant to ditto ditto.

"Mr. G. J. Berwick, of the Bengal Medical Establishment, to be surgeon
to ditto ditto.

    "W. H. MACNAGHTEN,

    "Secretary to the Governor of India,
    with the Governor-General."



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

The following modifications have been made to the text.

Contents, CHAPTER III: 'Candahah' replaced with Candahar.

Contents, CHAPTER IV: 'Khelet' replaced with Khelat.

Contents, CHAPTER VIII: Comma after 'Commandant of Ghuznee' replaced
with a period.

Contents, CHAPTER XII: 'Cott' replaced with Scott.

Page 1: Missing emdashes added to the chapter description.

Page 3: 'Soojah-Ool-Moolk' replaced with Sooja-ool-Moolk.

Page 25: Period removed from between 'Lieutenant' and 'Nixon'.

Page 36: 'Schwan' replaced with Sehwan.

Page 37: 'und' replaced with and.

Page 52: 'Candahah' replaced with Candahar.

Page 58: 'couutrymen' replaced with countrymen.

Page 104: 'Khelat-i-Giljie' replaced with Khelat-i-Ghiljie.

Page 104: 'precints' replaced with precincts.

Page 110: 'and and' replaced with and.

Page 128: 'immedialely' replaced with immediately.

Page 130: Comma after 'Commandant of Ghuznee' replaced with period.

Page 133: 'mélée' replaced with mêlée.

Page 141: Missing hyphen added in Commander-in-Chief.

Page 142: 'then' replaced with than.

Page 146: 'circumstanee' replaced with circumstance.

Page 148: Missing hyphen added in Commander-in-Chief.

Page 149: 'pretented' replaced with pretended.

Page 184: 'strong hold' replaced with strong-hold.

Page 185: Comma inserted after 'however'.

Page 188: 'Ccott' replaced with Scott.

Page 195: 'epedemic replaced with epidemic.

Page 215: 'EXTRAORINARY' replaced with EXTRAORDINARY.

Page 216: 'Nawah' replaced with Nawab.

Page 219: 'inteference' replaced with interference.





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