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Title: The Afghan Wars 1839-42 and 1878-80
Author: Forbes, Archibald
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Afghan Wars 1839-42 and 1878-80" ***

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[Illustration: Sir Frederick Roberts]

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THE AFGHAN WARS 1839-42 AND 1878-80


With Portraits and Plans

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       *       *       *       *       *











_The Portraits of Sir G. Pollock and Sir F. Roberts are engraved by
permission   of Messrs Henry Graves & Co._

       *       *       *       *       *




Since it was the British complications with Persia which mainly furnished
what pretext there was for the invasion of Afghanistan by an Anglo-Indian
army in 1839, some brief recital is necessary of the relations between
Great Britain and Persia prior to that aggression.

By a treaty, concluded between England and Persia in 1814, the former
state bound itself, in case of the invasion of Persia by any European
nation, to aid the Shah either with troops from India or by the payment
of an annual subsidy in support of his war expenses. It was a dangerous
engagement, even with the _caveat_ rendering the undertaking inoperative
if such invasion should be provoked by Persia. During the fierce struggle
of 1825-7, between Abbas Meerza and the Russian General Paskevitch,
England refrained from supporting Persia either with men or with money,
and when prostrate Persia was in financial extremities because of the war
indemnity which the treaty of Turkmanchai imposed upon her, England took
advantage of her needs by purchasing the cancellation of the inconvenient
obligation at the cheap cost of about £300,000. It was the natural result
of this transaction that English influence with the Persian Court should
sensibly decline, and it was not less natural that in conscious weakness
Persia should fall under the domination of Russian influence.

Futteh Ali, the old Shah of Persia, died in 1834, and was succeeded by
his grandson Prince Mahomed Meerza, a young man who inherited much of the
ambition of his gallant father Abbas Meerza. His especial aspiration,
industriously stimulated by his Russian advisers, urged him to the
enterprise of conquering the independent principality of Herat, on the
western border of Afghanistan. Herat was the only remnant of Afghan
territory that still remained to a member of the legitimate royal house.
Its ruler was Shah Kamran, son of that Mahmoud Shah who, after ousting
his brother Shah Soojah from the throne of Cabul, had himself been driven
from that elevation, and had retired to the minor principality of Herat.
The young Shah of Persia was not destitute of justification for his
designs on Herat. That this was so was frankly admitted by Mr Ellis, the
British envoy to his Court, who wrote to his Government that the Shah had
fair claim to the sovereignty of Afghanistan as far as Ghuznee, and that
Kamran's conduct in occupying part of the Persian province of Seistan had
given the Shah 'a full justification for commencing hostilities against

The serious phase of the situation for England and India was that Russian
influence was behind Persia in this hostile action against Herat. Mr
Ellis pointed out that in the then existing state of relations between
Persia and Russia, the progress of the former in Afghanistan was
tantamount to the advancement of the latter. But unfortunately there
remained valid an article in the treaty of 1814 to the effect that, in
case of war between the Afghans and the Persians, the English Government
should not interfere with either party unless when called on by both to
mediate. In vain did Ellis and his successor M'Neill remonstrate with the
Persian monarch against the Herat expedition. An appeal to St Petersburg,
on the part of Great Britain, produced merely an evasive reply. How
diplomatic disquietude had become intensified may be inferred from this,
that whereas in April 1836 Ellis wrote of Persia as a Russian first
parallel of attack against India, Lord Auckland, then Governor-General of
India, directed M'Neill, in the early part of 1837, to urge the Shah to
abandon his enterprise, on the ground that he (the Governor-General)
'must view with umbrage and displeasure schemes of interference and
conquest on our western frontier.'

The Shah, unmoved by the representations of the British envoy, marched on
Herat, and the siege was opened on November 23d, 1837. Durand, a capable
critic, declares that the strength of the place, the resolution of the
besiegers, the skill of their Russian military advisers, and the
gallantry of the besieged, were alike objects of much exaggeration. 'The
siege was from first to last thoroughly ill-conducted, and the defence,
in reality not better managed, owed its _éclat_ to Persian ignorance,
timidity and supineness. The advice of Pottinger, the gallant English
officer who assisted the defence, was seldom asked, and still more seldom
taken; and no one spoke more plainly of the conduct of both besieged and
besiegers than did Pottinger himself.' M'Neill effected nothing definite
during a long stay in the Persian camp before Herat, the counteracting
influence of the Russian envoy being too strong with the Shah; and the
British representative, weary of continual slights, at length quitted the
Persian camp completely foiled. After six days' bombardment, the Persians
and their Russian auxiliaries delivered an assault in force on June 23d,
1838. It failed, with heavy loss, and the dispirited Shah determined on
raising the siege. His resolution was quickened by the arrival of Colonel
Stoddart in his camp, with the information that a military force from
Bombay, supported by ships of war, had landed on the island of Karrack in
the Persian Gulf, and with the peremptory ultimatum to the Shah that he
must retire from Herat at once. Lord Palmerston, in ordering this
diversion in the Gulf, had thought himself justified by circumstances in
overriding the clear and precise terms of an article in a treaty to which
England had on several occasions engaged to adhere. As for the Shah, he
appears to have been relieved by the ultimatum. On the 9th September he
mounted his horse and rode away from Herat. The siege had lasted nine and
a half months. To-day, half a century after Simonich the Russian envoy
followed Mahomed Shah from battered but unconquered Herat, that city is
still an Afghan place of arms.

Shah Soojah-ool Moolk, a grandson of the illustrious Ahmed Shah, reigned
in Afghanistan from 1803 till 1809. His youth had been full of trouble
and vicissitude. He had been a wanderer, on the verge of starvation, a
pedlar and a bandit, who raised money by plundering caravans. His courage
was lightly reputed, and it was as a mere creature of circumstance that
he reached the throne. His reign was perturbed, and in 1809 he was a
fugitive and an exile. Runjeet Singh, the Sikh ruler of the Punjaub,
defrauded him of the famous Koh-i-noor, which is now the most precious of
the crown jewels of England, and plundered and imprisoned the fallen man.
Shah Soojah at length escaped from Lahore. After further misfortunes he
at length reached the British frontier station of Loodianah, and in 1816
became a pensioner of the East India Company.

After the downfall of Shah Soojah, Afghanistan for many years was a prey
to anarchy. At length in 1826, Dost Mahomed succeeded in making himself
supreme at Cabul, and this masterful man thenceforward held sway until
his death in 1863, uninterruptedly save during the three years of the
British occupation. Dost Mahomed was neither kith nor kin to the
legitimate dynasty which he displaced. His father Poyndah Khan was an
able statesman and gallant soldier. He left twenty-one sons, of whom
Futteh Khan was the eldest, and Dost Mahomed one of the youngest. Futteh
Khan was the Warwick of Afghanistan, but the Afghan 'Kingmaker' had no
Barnet as the closing scene of his chequered life. Falling into hostile
hands, he was blinded and scalped. Refusing to betray his brothers, he
was leisurely cut to pieces by the order and in the presence of the
monarch whom he had made. His young brother Dost Mahomed undertook to
avenge his death. After years of varied fortunes the Dost had worsted all
his enemies, and in 1826 he became the ruler of Cabul. Throughout his
long reign Dost Mahomed was a strong and wise ruler. His youth had been
neglected and dissolute. His education was defective, and he had been
addicted to wine. Once seated on the throne, the reformation of our Henry
Fifth was not more thorough than was that of Dost Mahomed. He taught
himself to read and write, studied the Koran, became scrupulously
abstemious, assiduous in affairs, no longer truculent but courteous. He
is said to have made a public acknowledgment of the errors of his
previous life, and a firm profession of reformation; nor did his after
life belie the pledges to which he committed himself. There was a fine
rugged honesty in his nature, and a streak of genuine chivalry;
notwithstanding the despite he suffered at our hands, he had a real
regard for the English, and his loyalty to us was broken only by his
armed support of the Sikhs in the second Punjaub war.

The fallen Shah Soojah, from his asylum in Loodianah, was continually
intriguing for his restoration. His schemes were long inoperative, and it
was not until 1832 that certain arrangements were entered into between
him and the Maharaja Runjeet Singh. To an application on Shah Soojah's
part for countenance and pecuniary aid, the Anglo-Indian Government
replied that to afford him assistance would be inconsistent with the
policy of neutrality which the Government had imposed on itself; but it
unwisely contributed financially toward his undertaking by granting him
four months' pension in advance. Sixteen thousand rupees formed a scant
war fund with which to attempt the recovery of a throne, but the Shah
started on his errand in February 1833. After a successful contest with
the Ameers of Scinde, he marched on Candahar, and besieged that fortress.
Candahar was in extremity when Dost Mahomed, hurrying from Cabul,
relieved it, and joining forces with its defenders, he defeated and
routed Shah Soojah, who fled precipitately, leaving behind him his
artillery and camp equipage, During the Dost's absence in the south,
Runjeet Singh's troops crossed the Attock, occupied the Afghan province
of Peshawur, and drove the Afghans into the Khyber Pass. No subsequent
efforts on Dost Mahomed's part availed to expel the Sikhs from Peshawur,
and suspicious of British connivance with Runjeet Singh's successful
aggression, he took into consideration the policy of fortifying himself
by a counter alliance with Persia. As for Shah Soojah, he had crept back
to his refuge at Loodianah.

Lord Auckland succeeded Lord William Bentinck as Governor-General of
India in March 1836. In reply to Dost Mahomed's letter of congratulation,
his lordship wrote: 'You are aware that it is not the practice of the
British Government to interfere with the affairs of other independent
states;' an abstention which Lord Auckland was soon to violate. He had
brought from England the feeling of disquietude in regard to the designs
of Persia and Russia which the communications of our envoy in Persia had
fostered in the Home Government, but it would appear that he was wholly
undecided what line of action to pursue. 'Swayed,' says Durand, 'by the
vague apprehensions of a remote danger entertained by others rather than
himself,' he despatched to Afghanistan Captain Burnes on a nominally
commercial mission, which, in fact, was one of political discovery, but
without definite instructions. Burnes, an able but rash and ambitious
man, reached Cabul in September 1837, two months before the Persian army
began the siege of Herat. He had a strong prepossession in favour of the
Dost, whose guest he had already been in 1832, and the policy he favoured
was not the revival of the legitimate dynasty in the person of Shah
Soojah, but the attachment of Dost Mahomed to British interests by
strengthening his throne and affording him British countenance.

Burnes sanguinely believed that he had arrived at Cabul in the nick of
time, for an envoy from the Shah of Persia was already at Candahar,
bearing presents and assurances of support. The Dost made no concealment
to Burnes of his approaches to Persia and Russia, in despair of British
good offices, and being hungry for assistance from any source to meet the
encroachments of the Sikhs, he professed himself ready to abandon his
negotiations with the western powers if he were given reason to expect
countenance and assistance at the hands of the Anglo-Indian Government.
Burnes communicated to his Government those friendly proposals,
supporting them by his own strong representations, and meanwhile, carried
away by enthusiasm, he exceeded his powers by making efforts to dissuade
the Candahar chiefs from the Persian alliance, and by offering to support
them with money to enable them to make head against the offensive, by
which Persia would probably seek to revenge the rejection of her
overtures. For this unauthorised excess of zeal Burnes was severely
reprimanded by his Government, and was directed to retract his offers to
the Candahar chiefs. The situation of Burnes in relation to the Dost was
presently complicated by the arrival at Cabul of a Russian officer
claiming to be an envoy from the Czar, whose credentials, however, were
regarded as dubious, and who, if that circumstance has the least weight,
was on his return to Russia utterly repudiated by Count Nesselrode. The
Dost took small account of this emissary, continuing to assure Burnes
that he cared for no connection except with the English, and Burnes
professed to his Government his fullest confidences in the sincerity of
those declarations. But the tone of Lord Auckland's reply, addressed to
the Dost, was so dictatorial and supercilious as to indicate the writer's
intention that it should give offence. It had that effect, and Burnes'
mission at once became hopeless. Yet, as a last resort, Dost Mahomed
lowered his pride so far as to write to the Governor-General imploring
him 'to remedy the grievances of the Afghans, and afford them some little
encouragement and power.' The pathetic representation had no effect. The
Russian envoy, who was profuse in his promises of everything which the
Dost was most anxious to obtain, was received into favour and treated
with distinction, and on his return journey he effected a treaty with the
Candahar chiefs, which was presently ratified by the Russian minister at
the Persian Court. Burnes, fallen into discredit at Cabul, quitted that
place in August 1838. He had not been discreet, but it was not his
indiscretion that brought about the failure of his mission. A nefarious
transaction, which Kaye denounces with the passion of a just indignation,
connects itself with Burnes' negotiations with the Dost; his official
correspondence was unscrupulously mutilated and garbled in the published
Blue Book with deliberate purpose to deceive the British public.

Burnes had failed because, since he had quitted India for Cabul, Lord
Auckland's policy had gradually altered. Lord Auckland had landed in
India in the character of a man of peace. That, so late as April 1837, he
had no design of obstructing the existing situation in Afghanistan is
proved by his written statement of that date, that 'the British
Government had resolved decidedly to discourage the prosecution by the
ex-king Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk, so long as he may remain under our
protection, of further schemes of hostility against the chiefs now in
power in Cabul and Candahar.' Yet, in the following June, he concluded a
treaty which sent Shah Soojah to Cabul, escorted by British bayonets. Of
this inconsistency no explanation presents itself. It was a far cry from
our frontier on the Sutlej to Herat in the confines of Central Asia--a
distance of more than 1200 miles, over some of the most arduous marching
ground in the known world. No doubt the Anglo-Indian Government was
justified in being somewhat concerned by the facts that a Persian army,
backed by Russian volunteers and Russian roubles, was besieging Herat,
and that Persian and Russian emissaries were at work in Afghanistan. Both
phenomena were rather of the 'bogey' character; how much so to-day shows
when the Afghan frontier is still beyond Herat, and when a descendant of
Dost Mahomed still sits in the Cabul _musnid_. But neither England nor
India scrupled to make the Karrack counter-threat which arrested the
siege of Herat; and the obvious policy as regarded Afghanistan was to
watch the results of the intrigues which were on foot, to ignore them
should they come to nothing, as was probable, to counteract them by
familiar methods if serious consequences should seem impending. Our
alliance with Runjeet Singh was solid, and the quarrel between Dost
Mahomed and him concerning the Peshawur province was notoriously easy of

On whose memory rests the dark shadow of responsibility for the first
Afghan war? The late Lord Broughton, who, when Sir John Cam Hobhouse, was
President of the Board of Control from 1835 to 1841, declared before a
House of Commons Committee, in 1851, 'The Afghan war was done by myself;
entirely without the privity of the Board of Directors.' The meaning of
that declaration, of course, was that it was the British Government of
the day which was responsible, acting through its member charged with the
control of Indian affairs; and further, that the directorate of the East
India Company was accorded no voice in the matter. But this utterance was
materially qualified by Sir J. C. Hobhouse's statement in the House of
Commons in 1842, that his despatch indicating the policy to be adopted,
and that written by Lord Auckland, informing him that the expedition had
already been undertaken, had crossed each other on the way.

It would be tedious to detail how Lord Auckland, under evil counsel,
gradually boxed the compass from peace to war. The scheme of action
embodied in the treaty which, in the early summer of 1838, was concluded
between the Anglo-Indian Government, Runjeet Singh, and Shah Soojah, was
that Shah Soojah, with a force officered from an Indian army, and paid by
British money, possessing also the goodwill and support of the Maharaja
of the Punjaub, should attempt the recovery of his throne without any
stiffening of British bayonets at his back. Then it was urged, and the
representation was indeed accepted, that the Shah would need the buttress
afforded by English troops, and that a couple of regiments only would
suffice to afford this prestige. But Sir Harry Fane, the
Commander-in-Chief, judiciously interposed his veto on the despatch of a
handful of British soldiers on so distant and hazardous an expedition.
Finally, the Governor-General, committed already to a mistaken line of
policy, and urged forward by those about him, took the unfortunate
resolution to gather together an Anglo-Indian army, and to send it, with
the ill-omened Shah Soojah on its shoulders, into the unknown and distant
wilds of Afghanistan. This action determined on, it was in accordance
with the Anglo-Indian fitness of things that the Governor-General should
promulgate a justificatory manifesto. Of this composition it is
unnecessary to say more than to quote Durand's observation that in it
'the words "justice and necessity" were applied in a manner for which
there is fortunately no precedent in the English language,' and Sir Henry
Edwardes' not less trenchant comment that 'the views and conduct of Dost
Mahomed were misrepresented with a hardihood which a Russian statesman
might have envied.'

All men whose experience gave weight to their words opposed this
'preposterous enterprise.' Mr Elphinstone, who had been the head of a
mission to Cabul thirty years earlier, held that 'if an army was sent up
the passes, and if we could feed it, no doubt we might take Cabul and set
up Shah Soojah; but it was hopeless to maintain him in a poor, cold,
strong and remote country, among so turbulent a people.' Lord William
Bentinck, Lord Auckland's predecessor, denounced the project as an act of
incredible folly. Marquis Wellesley regarded 'this wild expedition into a
distant region of rocks and deserts, of sands and ice and snow,' as an
act of infatuation. The Duke of Wellington pronounced with prophetic
sagacity, that the consequence of once crossing the Indus to settle a
government in Afghanistan would be a perennial march into that country.


The two main objects of the venturesome offensive movement to which Lord
Auckland had committed himself were, first, the raising of the Persian
siege of Herat if the place should hold out until reached--the recapture
of it if it should have fallen; and, secondly, the establishment of Shah
Soojah on the Afghan throne. The former object was the more pressing, and
time was very precious; but the distances in India are great, the means
of communication in 1838 did not admit of celerity, and the seasons
control the safe prosecution of military operations. Nevertheless, the
concentration of the army at the frontier station of Ferozepore was fully
accomplished toward the end of November. Sir Harry Fane was to be the
military head of the expedition, and he had just right to be proud of the
14,000 carefully selected and well-seasoned troops who constituted his
Bengal contingent. The force consisted of two infantry divisions, of
which the first, commanded by Major-General Sir Willoughby Cotton,
contained three brigades, commanded respectively by Colonels Sale, Nott,
and Dennis, of whom the two former were to attain high distinction within
the borders of Afghanistan. Major-General Duncan commanded the second
infantry division of the two brigades, of which one was commanded by
Colonel Roberts, the gallant father of a gallant son, the other by
Colonel Worsley. The 6000 troops raised for Shah Soojah, who were under
Fane's orders, and were officered from our army in India, had been
recently and hurriedly recruited, and although rapidly improving, were
not yet in a state of high efficiency. The contingent which the Bombay
Presidency was to furnish to the 'Army of the Indus,' and which landed
about the close of the year near the mouth of the Indus, was under the
command of General Sir John Keane, the Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay
army. The Bombay force was about 5000 strong.

Before the concentration at Ferozepore had been completed, Lord Auckland
received official intimation of the retreat of the Persians from before
Herat. With their departure had gone, also, the sole legitimate object of
the expedition; there remained but a project of wanton aggression and
usurpation. The Russo-Persian failure at Herat was scarcely calculated to
maintain in the astute and practical Afghans any hope of fulfilment of
the promises which the western powers had thrown about so lavishly, while
it made clear that, for some time at least to come, the Persians would
not be found dancing again to Russian fiddling. The abandonment of the
siege of Herat rendered the invasion of Afghanistan an aggression
destitute even of pretext. The Governor-General endeavoured to justify
his resolution to persevere in it by putting forth the argument that its
prosecution was required, 'alike in observation of the treaties entered
into with Runjeet Singh and Shah Soojah as by paramount considerations of
defensive policy.' A remarkable illustration of 'defensive policy' to
take the offensive against a remote country from whose further confines
had faded away foiled aggression, leaving behind nothing but a bitter
consciousness of broken promises! As for the other plea, the tripartite
treaty contained no covenant that we should send a corporal's guard
across our frontier. If Shah Soojah had a powerful following in
Afghanistan, he could regain his throne without our assistance; if he had
no holding there, it was for us a truly discreditable enterprise to foist
him on a recalcitrant people at the point of the bayonet.

One result of the tidings from Herat was to reduce by a division the
strength of the expeditionary force. Fane, who had never taken kindly to
the project, declined to associate himself with the diminished array that
remained. The command of the Bengal column fell to Sir Willoughby Cotton,
with whom as his aide-de-camp rode that Henry Havelock whose name twenty
years later was to ring through India and England. Duncan's division was
to stand fast at Ferozepore as a support, by which disposition the
strength of the Bengal marching force was cut down to about 9500 fighting
men. After its junction with the Bombay column, the army would be 14,500
strong, without reckoning the Shah's contingent. There was an interlude
at Ferozepore of reviews and high jinks with the shrewd, debauched old
Runjeet Singh; of which proceedings Havelock in his narrative of the
expedition gives a detailed account, dwelling with extreme disapprobation
on Runjeet's addiction to a 'pet tipple' strong enough to lay out the
hardest drinker in the British camp, but which the old reprobate quaffed
freely without turning a hair.

At length, on December 10th, 1838, Cotton began the long march which was
not to terminate at Cabul until August 6th of the following year. The
most direct route was across the Punjaub, and up the passes from
Peshawur, but the Governor-General had shrunk from proposing to Runjeet
Singh that the force should march through his territories, thinking it
enough that the Maharaja had permitted Shah Soojah's heir, Prince Timour,
to go by Peshawur to Cabul, had engaged to support him with a Sikh force,
and had agreed to maintain an army of reserve at Peshawur. The chosen
route was by the left bank of the Sutlej to its junction with the Indus,
down the left bank of the Indus to the crossing point at Roree, and from
Sukkur across the Scinde and northern Belooch provinces by the Bolan and
Kojuk passes to Candahar, thence by Khelat-i-Ghilzai and Ghuznee to
Cabul. This was a line excessively circuitous, immensely long, full of
difficulties, and equally disadvantageous as to supplies and
communications. On the way the column would have to effect a junction
with the Bombay force, which at Vikkur was distant 800 miles from
Ferozepore. Of the distance of 850 miles from the latter post to Candahar
the first half to the crossing of the Indus presented no serious
difficulties, but from Sukkur beyond the country was inhospitable and
cruelly rugged. It needed little military knowledge to realise how more
and yet more precarious would become the communications as the chain
lengthened, to discern that from Ferozepore to the Indus they would be at
the mercy of the Sikhs, and to comprehend this also, that a single
serious check, in or beyond the passes, would involve all but inevitable

Shah Soojah and his levies moved independently some marches in advance of
Cotton. The Dooranee monarch-elect had already crossed the Indus, and was
encamped at Shikarpore, when he was joined by Mr William Hay Macnaghten,
of the Company's Civil Service, the high functionary who had been
gazetted as 'Envoy and Minister on the part of the Government of India at
the Court of Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk.' Durand pronounces the selection an
unhappy one, 'for Macnaghten, long accustomed to irresponsible office,
inexperienced in men, and ignorant of the country and people of
Afghanistan, was, though an erudite Arabic scholar, neither practised in
the field of Asiatic intrigue nor a man of action. His ambition was,
however, great, and the expedition, holding out the promise of
distinction and honours, had met with his strenuous advocacy.' Macnaghten
was one of the three men who chiefly inspired Lord Auckland with the
policy to which he had committed himself. He was the negotiator of the
tripartite treaty. He was now on his way toward a region wherein he was
to concern himself in strange adventures, the outcome of which was to
darken his reputation, consign him to a sudden cruel death, bring awful
ruin on the enterprise he had fostered, and inflict incalculable damage
on British prestige in India.

Marching through Bhawulpore and Northern Scinde, without noteworthy
incident save heavy losses of draught cattle, Cotton's army reached
Roree, the point at which the Indus was to be crossed, in the third week
of January 1839. Here a delay was encountered. The Scinde Ameers were,
with reason, angered by the unjust and exacting terms which Pottinger had
been instructed to enforce on them. They had been virtually independent
of Afghanistan for nearly half a century; there was now masterfully
demanded of them quarter of a million sterling in name of back tribute,
and this in the face of the fact that they held a solemn release by Shah
Soojah of all past and future claims. When they demurred to this, and to
other exactions, they were peremptorily told that 'neither the ready
power to crush and annihilate them, nor the will to call it into action,
was wanting if it appeared requisite, however remotely, for the safety
and integrity of the Anglo-Indian empire and frontier.'

It was little wonder that the Ameers were reluctant to fall in with terms
advanced so arrogantly. Keane marched up the right bank of the Indus to
within a couple of marches of Hyderabad, and having heard of the
rejection by the Ameers of Pottinger's terms, and of the gathering of
some 20,000 armed Belooches about the capital, he called for the
co-operation of part of the Bengal column in a movement on Hyderabad.
Cotton started on his march down the left bank, on January Jeth, with
5600 men. Under menaces so ominous the unfortunate Ameers succumbed.
Cotton returned to Roree; the Bengal column crossed the Indus, and on
February 20th its headquarters reached Shikarpore. Ten days later,
Cotton, leading the advance, was in Dadur, at the foot of the Bolan Pass,
having suffered heavily in transport animals almost from the start.
Supplies were scarce in a region so barren, but with a month's partial
food on his beasts of burden he quitted Dadur March 10th, got safely, if
toilsomely, through the Bolan, and on 26th reached Quetta, where he was
to halt for orders. Shah Soojah and Keane followed, their troops
suffering not a little from scarcity of supplies and loss of animals.

Keane's error in detaining Cotton at Quetta until he should arrive proved
itself in the semi-starvation to which the troops of the Bengal column
were reduced. The Khan of Khelat, whether from disaffection or inability,
left unfulfilled his promise to supply grain, and the result of the
quarrel which Burnes picked with him was that he shunned coming in and
paying homage to Shah Soojah, for which default he was to suffer cruel
and unjustifiable ruin. The sepoys were put on half, the camp followers
on quarter rations, and the force for eleven days had been idly consuming
the waning supplies, when at length, on April 6th, Keane came into camp,
having already formally assumed the command of the whole army, and made
certain alterations in its organisation and subsidiary commands. There
still remained to be traversed 147 miles before Candahar should be
reached, and the dreaded Kojuk Pass had still to be penetrated.

Keane was a soldier who had gained a reputation for courage in Egypt and
the Peninsula. He was indebted to the acuteness of his engineer and the
valour of his troops, for the peerage conferred on him for Ghuznee, and
it cannot be said that during his command in Afghanistan he disclosed any
marked military aptitude. But he had sufficient perception to recognise
that he had brought the Bengal column to the verge of starvation in
Quetta, and sufficient common sense to discern that, since if it remained
there it would soon starve outright, the best thing to be done was to
push it forward with all possible speed into a region where food should
be procurable. Acting on this reasoning, he marched the day after his
arrival. Cotton, while lying in Quetta, had not taken the trouble to
reconnoitre the passes in advance, far less to make a practicable road
through the Kojuk defile if that should prove the best route. The
resolution taken to march through it, two days were spent in making the
pass possible for wheels; and from the 13th to the 21st the column was
engaged in overcoming the obstacles it presented, losing in the task,
besides, much baggage, supplies, transport and ordnance stores. Further
back in the Bolan Willshire with the Bombay column was faring worse; he
was plundered severely by tribal marauders.

By May 4th the main body of the army was encamped in the plain of
Candahar. From the Kojuk, Shah Soojah and his contingent had led the
advance toward the southern capital of the dominions from the throne of
which he had been cast down thirty years before. The Candahar chiefs had
meditated a night attack on his raw troops, but Macnaghten's intrigues
and bribes had wrought defection in their camp; and while Kohun-dil-Khan
and his brothers were in flight to Girishk on the Helmund, the infamous
Hadji Khan Kakur led the venal herd of turncoat sycophants to the feet of
the claimant who came backed by the British gold, which Macnaghten was
scattering abroad with lavish hand. Shah Soojah recovered from his
trepidation, hurried forward in advance of his troops, and entered
Candahar on April 24th. His reception was cold. The influential chiefs
stood aloof, abiding the signs of the times; the populace of Candahar
stood silent and lowering. Nor did the sullenness abate when the presence
of a large army with its followers promptly raised the price of grain, to
the great distress of the poor. The ceremony of the solemn recognition of
the Shah, held close to the scene of his defeat in 1834, Havelock
describes as an imposing pageant, with homagings and royal salutes,
parade of troops and presentation of _nuzzurs_; but the arena set apart
for the inhabitants was empty, spite of Eastern love for a _tamasha_, and
the display of enthusiasm was confined to the immediate retainers of His

The Shah was eager for the pursuit of the fugitive chiefs; but the troops
were jaded and sickly, the cavalry were partially dismounted, and what
horses remained were feeble skeletons. The transport animals needed
grazing and rest, and their loss of numbers to be made good. The crops
were not yet ripe, and provisions were scant and dear. When, on May 9th,
Sale marched toward Girishk, his detachment carried half rations, and his
handful of regular cavalry was all that two regiments could furnish.
Reaching Girishk, he found that the chiefs had fled toward Seistan, and
leaving a regiment of the Shah's contingent in occupation, he returned to

Macnaghten professed the belief, and perhaps may have deluded himself
into it, that Candahar had received the Shah with enthusiasm. He was
sanguine that the march to Cabul would be unopposed, and he urged on
Keane, who was wholly dependent on the Envoy for political information,
to move forward at once, lightening the difficulties of the march by
leaving the Bombay troops at Candahar. But Keane declined, on the advice
of Thomson, his chief engineer, who asked significantly whether he had
found the information given him by the political department in any single
instance correct. Food prospects, however, did not improve at Candahar,
and leaving a strong garrison there as well, curious to say, as the siege
train which with arduous labour had been brought up the passes, Keane
began the march to Cabul on June 27th. He had supplies only sufficient to
carry his army thither on half rations. Macnaghten had lavished money so
freely that the treasury chest was all but empty. How the Afghans
regarded the invasion was evinced by condign slaughter of our stragglers.

As the army advanced up the valley of the Turnuk, the climate became more
temperate, the harvest was later, and the troops improved in health and
spirit. Concentrating his forces, Keane reached Ghuznee on July 21st. The
reconnaissance he made proved that fortress occupied in force. The
outposts driven in, and a close inspection made, the works were found
stronger than had been represented, and its regular reduction was out of
the question without the battering train which Keane had allowed himself
to be persuaded into leaving behind. A wall some 70 feet high and a wet
ditch in its front made mining and escalade alike impracticable. Thomson,
however, noticed that the road and bridge to the Cabul gate were intact.
He obtained trustworthy information that up to a recent date, while all
the other gates had been built up, the Cabul gate had not been so dealt
with. As he watched, a horseman was seen to enter by it. This was
conclusive. The ground within 400 yards of the gate offered good
artillery positions. Thomson therefore reported that although the
operation was full of risk, and success if attained must cost dear, yet
in the absence of a less hazardous method of reduction there offered a
fair chance of success in an attempt to blow open the Cabul gate, and
then carry the place by a _coup de main_. Keane was precluded from the
alternative of masking the place and continuing his advance by the all
but total exhaustion of his supplies, which the capture of Ghuznee would
replenish, and he therefore resolved on an assault by the Cabul gate.

During the 21st July the army circled round the place, and camped to the
north of it on the Cabul road. The following day was spent in
preparations, and in defeating an attack made on the Shah's contingent by
several thousand Ghilzai tribesmen of the adjacent hill country. In the
gusty darkness of the early morning of the 23d the field artillery was
placed in battery on the heights opposite the northern face of the
fortress. The 13th regiment was extended in skirmishing order in the
gardens under the wall of this face, and a detachment of sepoys was
detailed to make a false attack on the eastern face. Near the centre of
the northern face was the Cabul gate, in front of which lay waiting for
the signal, a storming party consisting of the light companies of the
four European regiments, under command of Colonel Dennie of the 13th. The
main column consisted of two European regiments and the support of a
third, the whole commanded by Brigadier Sale; the native regiments
constituted the reserve. All those dispositions were completed by three
A.M., and, favoured by the noise of the wind and the darkness, without
alarming the garrison.

Punctually at this hour the little party of engineers charged with the
task of blowing in the gate started forward on the hazardous errand.
Captain Peat of the Bombay Engineers was in command. Durand, a young
lieutenant of Bengal Engineers, who was later to attain high distinction,
was entrusted with the service of heading the explosion party. The
latter, leading the party, had advanced unmolested to within 150 yards of
the works, when a challenge, a shot and a shout gave intimation of his
detection. A musketry fire was promptly opened by the garrison from the
battlements, and blue lights illuminated the approach to the gate, but in
the fortunate absence of fire from the lower works the bridge was safely
crossed, and Peat with his handful of linesmen halted in a sallyport to
cover the explosion operation. Durand advanced to the gate, his sappers
piled their powder bags against it and withdrew; Durand and his sergeant
uncoiled the hose, ignited the quick-match under a rain from the
battlements of bullets and miscellaneous missiles, and then retired to
cover out of reach of the explosion.

At the sound of the first shot from the battlements, Keane's cannon had
opened their fire. The skirmishers in the gardens engaged in a brisk
fusillade. The rattle of Hay's musketry was heard from the east. The
garrison was alert in its reply. The northern ramparts became a sheet of
flame, and everywhere the cannonade and musketry fire waxed in noise and
volume. Suddenly, as the day was beginning to dawn, a dull, heavy sound
was heard by the head of the waiting column, scarce audible elsewhere
because of the boisterous wind and the din of the firing. A pillar of
black smoke shot up from where had been the Afghan gate, now shattered by
the 300 pounds of gunpowder which Durand had exploded against it. The
signal to the storming party was to be the 'advance' sounded by the
bugler who accompanied Peat. But the bugler had been shot through the
head. Durand could not find Peat. Going back through the bullets to the
nearest party of infantry, he experienced some delay, but at last the
column was apprised that all was right, the 'advance' was sounded, Dennie
and his stormers sped forward, and Sale followed at the head of the main

After a temporary check to the latter, because of a misconception, it
pushed on in close support of Dennie. That gallant soldier and his
gallant followers had rushed into the smoking and gloomy archway to find
themselves met hand to hand by the Afghan defenders, who had recovered
from their surprise. Nothing could be distinctly seen in the narrow
gorge, but the clash of sword blade against bayonet was heard on every
side. The stormers had to grope their way between the yet standing walls
in a dusk which the glimmer of the blue light only made more perplexing.
But some elbow room was gradually gained, and then, since there was
neither time nor space for methodic street fighting, each loaded section
gave its volley and then made way for the next, which, crowding to the
front, poured a deadly discharge at half pistol-shot into the densely
crowded defenders. Thus the storming party won steadily its way, till at
length Dennie and his leading files discerned over the heads of their
opponents a patch of blue sky and a twinkling star or two, and with a
final charge found themselves within the place.

A body of fierce Afghan swordsmen projected themselves into the interval
between the storming party and the main column. Sale, at the head of the
latter, was cut down by a tulwar stroke in the face; in the effort of his
blow the assailant fell with the assailed, and they rolled together among
the shattered timbers of the gate. Sale, wounded again on the ground, and
faint with loss of blood, called to one of his officers for assistance.
Kershaw ran the Afghan through the body with his sword; but he still
struggled with the Brigadier. At length in the grapple Sale got
uppermost, and then he dealt his adversary a sabre cut which cleft him
from crown to eyebrows. There was much confused fighting within the
place, for the Afghan garrison made furious rallies again and again; but
the citadel was found open and undefended, and by sunrise British banners
were waving above its battlements Hyder Khan, the Governor of Ghuznee,
one of the sons of Dost Mahomed, was found concealed in a house in the
town and taken prisoner. The British loss amounted to about 200 killed
and wounded, that of the garrison, which was estimated at from 3000 to
4000 strong, was over 500 killed. The number of wounded was not
ascertained; of prisoners taken in arms there were about 1600. The booty
consisted of numerous horses, camels and mules, ordnance and military
weapons of various descriptions, and a vast quantity of supplies of all

Keane, having garrisoned Ghuznee, and left there his sick and wounded,
resumed on July 30th his march on Cabul. Within twenty-four hours after
the event Dost Mahomed heard of the fall of Ghuznee. Possessed of the
adverse intelligence, the Dost gathered his chiefs, received their facile
assurances of fidelity, sent his brother the Nawaub Jubbar Khan to ask
what terms Shah Soojah and his British allies were prepared to offer him,
and recalled from Jellalabad his son Akbar Khan, with all the force he
could muster there. The Dost's emissary to the allied camp was informed
that 'an honourable asylum' in British India was at the service of his
brother; an offer which Jubbar Khan declined in his name without thanks.
Before he left to share the fortunes of the Dost, the Sirdar is reported
to have asked Macnaghten, 'If Shah Soojah is really our king, what need
has he of your army and name? You have brought him here,' he continued,
'with your money and arms. Well, leave him now with us Afghans, and let
him rule us if he can.' When Jubbar Khan returned to Cabul with his
sombre message, the Dost, having been joined by Akbar Khan, concentrated
his army, and found himself at the head of 13,000 men, with thirty guns;
but he mournfully realised that he could lean no reliance on the
constancy and courage of his adherents. Nevertheless, he marched out
along the Ghuznee road, and drew up his force at Urgundeh, where he
commanded the most direct line of retreat toward the western hill country
of Bamian, in case his people would not fight, or should they fight, if
they were beaten.

There was no fight in his following; scarcely, indeed, was there a loyal
supporter among all those who had eaten his salt for years. There was
true manhood in this chief whom we were replacing by an effete puppet.
The Dost, Koran in hand, rode among his perfidious troops, and conjured
them in the name of God and the Prophet not to dishonour themselves by
transferring their allegiance to one who had filled Afghanistan with
infidels and blasphemers. 'If,' he continued, 'you are resolved to be
traitors to me, at least enable me to die with honour. Support the
brother of Futteh Khan in one last charge against these Feringhee dogs.
In that charge he will fall; then go and make your own terms with Shah
Soojah.' The high-souled appeal inspired no worthy response; but one is
loth to credit the testimony of the soldier-of-fortune Harlan that his
guards forsook the Dost, and that the rabble of troops plundered his
pavilion, snatched from under him the pillows of his divan, seized his
prayer carpet, and finally hacked into pieces the tent and its
appurtenances. On the evening of August 2d the hapless man shook the dust
of the camp of traitors from his feet, and rode away toward Bamian, his
son Akbar Khan, with a handful of resolute men, covering the retreat of
his father and his family. Tidings of the flight of Dost Mahomed reached
Keane on the 3d, at Sheikabad, where he had halted to concentrate; and
Outram volunteered to head a pursuing party, to consist of some British
officers as volunteers, some cavalry and some Afghan horse. Hadji Khan
Kakur, the earliest traitor of his race, undertook to act as guide. This
man's devices of delay defeated Outram's fiery energy, perhaps in deceit,
perhaps because he regarded it as lacking discretion. For Akbar Khan made
a long halt on the crown of the pass, waiting to check any endeavour to
press closely on his fugitive father, and it would have gone hard with
Outram, with a few fagged horsemen at his back, if Hadji Khan had allowed
him to overtake the resolute young Afghan chief. As Keane moved forward,
there fell to him the guns which the Dost had left in the Urgundeh
position. On August 6th he encamped close to Cabul; and on the following
day Shah Soojah made his public entry into the capital which he had last
seen thirty years previously. After so many years of vicissitude,
adventure and intrigue, he was again on the throne of his ancestors, but
placed there by the bayonets of the Government whose creature he was, an
insult to the nation whom he had the insolence to call his people.

The entry, nevertheless, was a goodly spectacle enough. Shah Soojah,
dazzling in coronet, jewelled girdle and bracelets, but with no
Koh-i-noor now glittering on his forehead, bestrode a white charger,
whose equipments gleamed with gold. By his side rode Macnaghten and
Burnes; in the pageant were the principal officers of the British army.
Sabres flashed in front of the procession, bayonets sparkled in its rear,
as it wended its way through the great bazaar which Pollock was to
destroy three years later, and along the tortuous street to the gate of
the Balla Hissar. But neither the monarch nor his pageant kindled the
enthusiasm in the Cabulees. There was no voice of welcome; the citizens
did not care to trouble themselves so much as to make him a salaam, and
they stared at the European strangers harder than at his restored
majesty. There was a touch of pathos in the burst of eagerness to which
the old man gave way as he reached the palace, ran through the gardens,
visited the apartments, and commented on the neglect everywhere apparent.
Shah Soojah was rather a poor creature, but he was by no means altogether
destitute of good points, and far worse men than he were actors in the
strange historical episode of which he was the figurehead. He was humane
for an Afghan; he never was proved to have been untrue to us; he must
have had some courage of a kind else he would never have remained in
Cabul when our people left it, in the all but full assurance of the fate
which presently overtook him as a matter of course. Havelock thus
portrays him: 'A stout person of the middle height, his chin covered with
a long thick and neatly trimmed beard, dyed black to conceal the
encroachments of time. His manner toward the English is gentle, calm and
dignified, without haughtiness, but his own subjects have invariably
complained of his reception of them as cold and repulsive, even to
rudeness. His complexion is darker than that of the generality of
Afghans, and his features, if not decidedly handsome, are not the reverse
of pleasing; but the expression of his countenance would betray to a
skilful physiognomist that mixture of timidity and duplicity so often
observable in the character of the higher order of men in Southern Asia.'


Sir John Kaye, in his picturesque if diffuse history of the first Afghan
war, lays it down that, in seating Shah Soojah on the Cabul throne, 'the
British Government had done all that it had undertaken to do,' and Durand
argues that, having accomplished this, 'the British army could have then
been withdrawn with the honour and fame of entire success.' The facts
apparently do not justify the reasoning of either writer. In the Simla
manifesto, in which Lord Auckland embodied the rationale of his policy,
he expressed the confident hope 'that the Shah will be speedily replaced
on his throne by his own subjects and adherents, and when once he shall
be received in power, and the independence and integrity of Afghanistan
established, the British army will be withdrawn.' The Shah had been
indeed restored to his throne, but by British bayonets, not by 'his own
subjects and adherents.' It could not seriously be maintained that he was
secure in power, or that the independence and integrity of Afghanistan
were established when British troops were holding Candahar, Ghuznee and
Cabul, the only three positions where the Shah was nominally paramount,
when the fugitive Dost was still within its borders, when intrigue and
disaffection were seething in every valley and on every hill-side, and
when the principality of Herat maintained a contemptuous independence.
Macnaghten might avow himself convinced of the popularity of the Shah,
and believe or strive to believe that the Afghans had received the puppet
king `with feelings nearly amounting to adoration,' but he did not
venture to support the conviction he avowed by advocating that the Shah
should be abandoned to his adoring subjects. Lord Auckland's policy was
gravely and radically erroneous, but it had a definite object, and that
object certainly was not a futile march to Cabul and back, dropping
incidentally by the wayside the aspirant to a throne whom he had himself
put forward, and leaving him to take his chance among a truculent and
adverse population. Thus early, in all probability, Lord Auckland was
disillusioned of the expectation that the effective restoration of Shah
Soojah would be of light and easy accomplishment, but at least he could
not afford to have the enterprise a _coup manqué_ when as yet it was
little beyond its inception.

The cost of the expedition was already, however, a strain, and the troops
engaged in it were needed in India. Lord Auckland intimated to Macnaghten
his expectation that a strong brigade would suffice to hold Afghanistan
in conjunction with the Shah's contingent, and his desire that the rest
of the army of the Indus should at once return to India. Macnaghten, on
the other hand, in spite of his avowal of the Shah's popularity, was
anxious to retain in Afghanistan a large body of troops. He meditated
strange enterprises, and proposed that Keane should support his project
of sending a force toward Bokhara to give check to a Russian column which
Pottinger at Herat had heard was assembling at Orenburg, with Khiva for
its objective. Keane derided the proposal, and Macnaghten reluctantly
abandoned it, but he demanded of Lord Auckland with success, the
retention in Afghanistan of the Bengal division of the army. In the
middle of September General Willshire marched with the Bombay column,
with orders, on his way to the Indus to pay a hostile visit to Khelat,
and punish its khan for the 'disloyalty' with which he had been charged,
a commission which the British officer fulfilled with a skill and
thoroughness that could be admired with less reservation had the
aggression on the gallant Mehrab been less wanton. A month later Keane
started for India by the Khyber route, which Wade had opened without
serious resistance when in August and September he escorted through the
passes Prince Timour, Shah Soojah's heir-apparent. During the temporary
absence of Cotton, who accompanied Keane, Nott had the command at
Candahar, Sale at and about Cabul, and the troops were quartered in those
capitals, and in Jellalabad, Ghuznee, Charikar and Bamian. The Shah and
the Envoy wintered in the milder climate of Jellalabad, and Burnes was in
political charge of the capital and its vicinity.

It was a prophetic utterance that the accomplishment of our military
succession would mark but the commencement of our real difficulties in
Afghanistan. In theory and in name Shah Soojah was an independent
monarch; it was, indeed, only in virtue of his proving himself able to
rule independently that he could justify his claim to rule at all. But
that he was independent was a contradiction in terms while British troops
studded the country, and while the real powers of sovereignty were
exercised by Macnaghten. Certain functions, it is true, the latter did
permit the nominal monarch to exercise. While debarred from a voice in
measures of external policy, and not allowed to sway the lines of conduct
to be adopted toward independent or revolting tribes, the Shah was
allowed to concern himself with the administration of justice, and in his
hands were the settlement, collection and appropriation of the revenue of
those portions of the kingdom from which any revenue could be exacted. He
was allowed to appoint as his minister of state, the companion of his
exile, old Moolla Shikore, who had lost both his memory and his ears, but
who had sufficient faculty left to hate the English, to oppress the
people, to be corrupt and venal beyond all conception, and to appoint
subordinates as flagitious as himself. 'Bad ministers,' wrote Burnes,
'are in every government solid ground for unpopularity; and I doubt if
ever a king had a worse set than has Shah Soojah.' The oppressed people
appealed to the British functionaries, who remonstrated with the
minister, and the minister punished the people for appealing to the
British functionaries. The Shah was free to confer grants of land on his
creatures, but when the holders resisted, he was unable to enforce his
will since he was not allowed to employ soldiers; and the odium of the
forcible confiscation ultimately fell on Macnaghten, who alone had the
ordering of expeditions, and who could not see the Shah belittled by
non-fulfilment of his requisitions.

Justice sold by venal judges, oppression and corruption rampant in every
department of internal administration, it was no wonder that nobles and
people alike resented the inflictions under whose sting they writhed.
They were accustomed to a certain amount of oppression; Dost Mahomed had
chastised them with whips, but Shah Soojah, whom the English had brought,
was chastising them with scorpions. And they felt his yoke the more
bitterly because, with the shrewd acuteness of the race, they recognised
the really servile condition of this new king. They fretted, too, under
the sharp bit of the British political agents who were strewn about the
country, in the execution of a miserable and futile policy, and whose
lives, in a few instances, did not maintain the good name of their
country. Dost Mahomed had maintained his sway by politic management of
the chiefs, and through them of the tribes. Macnaghten would have done
well to impress on Shah Soojah the wisdom of pursuing the same tactics.
There was, it is true, the alternative of destroying the power of the
barons, but that policy involved a stubborn and doubtful struggle, and
prolonged occupation of the country by British troops in great strength.
Macnaghten professed our occupation of Afghanistan to be temporary; yet
he was clearly adventuring on the rash experiment of weakening the nobles
when he set about the enlistment of local tribal levies, who, paid from
the Royal treasury and commanded by British officers, were expected to be
staunch to the Shah, and useful in curbing the powers of the chiefs. The
latter, of course, were alienated and resentful, and the levies, imbued
with the Afghan attribute of fickleness, proved for the most part
undisciplined and faithless.

The winter of 1839-40 passed without much noteworthy incident. The winter
climate of Afghanistan is severe, and the Afghan, in ordinary
circumstances, is among the hibernating animals. But down in the Khyber,
in October, the tribes gave some trouble. They were dissatisfied with the
amount of annual black-mail paid them for the right of way through their
passes. When the Shah was a fugitive thirty years previously, they had
concealed and protected him; and mindful of their kindly services, he had
promised them, unknown to Macnaghten, the augmentation of their subsidy
to the old scale from which it had gradually dwindled. Wade, returning
from Cabul, did not bring them the assurances they expected, whereupon
they rose and concentrated and invested Ali Musjid, a fort which they
regarded as the key of their gloomy defile. Mackeson, the Peshawur
political officer, threw provisions and ammunition into Ali Musjid, but
the force, on its return march, was attacked by the hillmen, the Sikhs
being routed, and the sepoys incurring loss of men and transport. The
emboldened Khyberees now turned on Ali Musjid in earnest; but the
garrison was strengthened, and the place was held until a couple of
regiments marched down from Jellalabad, and were preparing to attack the
hillmen, when it was announced that Mackeson had made a compact with the
chiefs for the payment of an annual subsidy which they considered

Afghanistan fifty years ago, and the same is in a measure true of it
to-day, was rather a bundle of provinces, some of which owned scarcely a
nominal allegiance to the ruler in Cabul, than a concrete state. Herat
and Candahar were wholly independent, the Ghilzai tribes inhabiting the
wide tracts from the Suliman ranges westward beyond the road through
Ghuznee, between Candahar and Cabul, and northward into the rugged
country between Cabul and Jellalabad, acknowledged no other authority
than that of their own chiefs. The Ghilzais are agriculturists,
shepherds, and robbers; they are constantly engaged in internal feuds;
they are jealous of their wild independence, and through the centuries
have abated little of their untamed ferocity. They had rejected
Macnaghten's advances, and had attacked Shah Soojah's camp on the day
before the fall of Ghuznee. Outram, in reprisal, had promptly raided part
of their country. Later, the winter had restrained them from activity,
but they broke out again in the spring. In May Captain Anderson, marching
from Candahar with a mixed force about 1200 strong, was offered battle
near Jazee, in the Turnuk, by some 2000 Ghilzai horse and foot.
Andersen's guns told heavily among the Ghilzai horsemen, who, impatient
of the fire, made a spirited dash on his left flank. Grape and musketry
checked them; but they rallied, and twice charged home on the bayonets
before they withdrew, leaving 200 of their number dead on the ground.
Nott sent a detachment to occupy the fortress of Khelat-i-Ghilzai,
between Candahar and Ghuznee, thus rendering the communications more
secure; and later, Macnaghten bribed the chiefs by an annual subsidy of
£600 to abstain from infesting the highways. The terms were cheap, for
the Ghilzai tribes mustered some 40,000 fighting men.

Shah Soojah and the Envoy returned from Jellalabad to Cabul in April
1840. A couple of regiments had wintered not uncomfortably in the Balla
Hissar. That fortress was then the key of Cabul, and while our troops
remained in Afghanistan it should not have been left ungarrisoned a
single hour. The soldiers did their best to impress on Macnaghten the
all-importance of the position. But the Shah objected to its continued
occupation, and Macnaghten weakly yielded. Cotton, who had returned to
the chief military command in Afghanistan, made no remonstrance; the
Balla Hissar was evacuated, and the troops were quartered in cantonments
built in an utterly defenceless position on the plain north of Cabul, a
position whose environs were cumbered with walled gardens, and commanded
by adjacent high ground, and by native forts which were neither
demolished nor occupied. The troops, now in permanent and regularly
constructed quarters, ceased to be an expeditionary force, and became
substantially an army of occupation. The officers sent for their wives to
inhabit with them the bungalows in which they had settled down. Lady
Macnaghten, in the spacious mission residence which stood apart in its
own grounds, presided over the society of the cantonments, which had all
the cheery surroundings of the half-settled, half-nomadic life of our
military people in the East. There were the 'coffee house' after the
morning ride, the gathering round the bandstand in the evening, the
impromptu dance, and the _burra khana_ occasionally in the larger houses.
A racecourse had been laid out, and there were 'sky' races and more
formal meetings. And so 'as in the days that were before the flood, they
were eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage, and knew
not until the flood came, and took them all away.'

Macnaghten engaged himself in a welter of internal and external intrigue,
his mood swinging from singular complacency to a disquietude that
sometimes approached despondency. It had come to be forced on him, in
spite of his intermittent optimism, that the Government was a government
of sentry-boxes, and that Afghanistan was not governed so much as
garrisoned. The utter failure of the winter march attempted by
Peroffski's Russian column across the frozen steppes on Khiva was a
relief to him; but the state of affairs in Herat was a constant trouble
and anxiety. Major Todd had been sent there as political agent, to make a
treaty with Shah Kamran, and to superintend the repair and improvement of
the fortifications of the city. Kamran was plenteously subsidised; he
took Macnaghten's lakhs, but furtively maintained close relations with
Persia. Detecting the double-dealing, Macnaghten urged on Lord Auckland
the annexation of Herat to Shah Soojah's dominions, but was instructed to
condone Kamran's duplicity, and try to bribe him higher. Kamran by no
means objected to this policy, and, while continuing his intrigues with
Persia, cheerfully accepted the money, arms and ammunition which
Macnaghten supplied him with so profusely as to cause remonstrance on the
part of the financial authorities in Calcutta. The Commander-in-Chief was
strong enough to counteract the pressure which Macnaghten brought to bear
on Lord Auckland in favour of an expedition against Herat, which his
lordship at length finally negatived, to the great disgust of the Envoy,
who wrote of the conduct of his chief as 'drivelling beyond contempt,'
and 'sighed for a Wellesley or a Hastings.' The ultimate result of
Macnaghten's negotiations with Shah Kamran was Major Todd's withdrawal
from Herat. Todd had suspended the monthly subsidy, to the great wrath of
Kamran's rapacious and treacherous minister Yar Mahomed, who made a
peremptory demand for increased advances, and refused Todd's stipulation
that a British force should be admitted into Herat. Todd's action in
quitting Herat was severely censured by his superiors, and he was
relegated to regimental duty. Perhaps he acted somewhat rashly, but he
had not been kept well informed; for instance, he had been unaware that
Persia had become our friend, and had engaged to cease relations with
Shah Kamran--an important arrangement of which he certainly should have
been cognisant. Macnaghten had squandered more gold on Herat than the
fee-simple of the principality was worth, and to no purpose; he left that
state just as he found it, treacherous, insolent, greedy and independent.

The precariousness of the long lines of communications between British
India and the army in Afghanistan--a source of danger which from the
first had disquieted cautious soldiers--was making itself seriously felt,
and constituted for Macnaghten another cause of solicitude. Old Runjeet
Singh, a faithful if not disinterested ally, had died on June 27th, 1839,
the day on which Keane marched out from Candahar. The breath was scarcely
out of the old reprobate when the Punjaub began to drift into anarchy. So
far as the Sikh share in it was concerned, the tripartite treaty
threatened to become a dead letter. The Lahore Durbar had not adequately
fulfilled the undertaking to support Prince Timour's advance by the
Khyber, nor was it duly regarding the obligation to maintain a force on
the Peshawur frontier of the Punjaub. But those things were trivial in
comparison with the growing reluctance manifested freely, to accord to
our troops and convoys permission to traverse the Punjaub on the march to
and from Cabul. The Anglo-Indian Government sent Mr Clerk to Lahore to
settle the question as to the thoroughfare. He had instructions to be
firm, and the Sikhs did not challenge Mr Clerk's stipulation that the
Anglo-Indian Government must have unmolested right of way through the
Punjaub, while he undertook to restrict the use of it as much as
possible. This arrangement by no means satisfied the exacting Macnaghten,
and he continued to worry himself by foreseeing all sorts of troublous
contingencies unless measures were adopted for 'macadamising' the road
through the Punjaub.

The summer of 1840 did not pass without serious interruptions to the
British communications between Candahar and the Indus; nor without
unexpected and ominous disasters before they were restored. General
Willshire, with the returning Bombay column, had in the previous November
stormed Mehrab Khan's ill-manned and worse armed fort of Khelat, and the
Khan, disdaining to yield, had fallen in the hopeless struggle. His son
Nusseer Khan had been put aside in favour of a collateral pretender, and
became an active and dangerous malcontent. All Northern Beloochistan fell
into a state of anarchy. A detachment of sepoys escorting supplies was
cut to pieces in one of the passes. Quetta was attacked with great
resolution by Nusseer Khan, but was opportunely relieved by a force sent
from another post. Nusseer made himself master of Khelat, and there fell
into his cruel hands Lieutenant Loveday, the British political officer
stationed there, whom he treated with great barbarity, and finally
murdered. A British detachment under Colonel Clibborn, was defeated by
the Beloochees with heavy loss, and compelled to retreat. Nusseer Khan,
descending into the low country of Cutch, assaulted the important post of
Dadur, but was repulsed, and taking refuge in the hills, was routed by
Colonel Marshall with a force from Kotree, whereupon he became a skulking
fugitive. Nott marched down from Candahar with a strong force, occupied
Khelat, and fully re-established communications with the line of the
Indus, while fresh troops moved forward into Upper Scinde, and thence
gradually advancing to Quetta and Candahar, materially strengthened the
British position in Southern Afghanistan.

Dost Mahomed, after his flight from Cabul in 1839, had soon left the
hospitable refuge afforded him in Khooloom, a territory west of the
Hindoo Koosh beyond Bamian, and had gone to Bokhara on the treacherous
invitation of its Ameer, who threw him into captivity. The Dost's family
remained at Khooloom, in the charge of his brother Jubbar Khan. The
advance of British forces beyond Bamian to Syghan and Bajgah, induced
that Sirdar to commit himself and the ladies to British protection. Dr
Lord, Macnaghten's political officer in the Bamian district, was a rash
although well-meaning man. The errors he had committed since the opening
of spring had occasioned disasters to the troops whose dispositions he
controlled, and had incited the neighbouring hill tribes to active
disaffection. In July Dost Mahomed made his escape from Bokhara, hurried
to Khooloom, found its ruler and the tribes full of zeal for his cause,
and rapidly grew in strength. Lord found it was time to call in his
advance posts and concentrate at Bamian, losing in the operation an
Afghan regiment which deserted to the Dost. Macnaghten reinforced Bamian,
and sent Colonel Dennie to command there. On September 18th Dennie moved
out with two guns and 800 men against the Dost's advance parties raiding
in an adjacent valley. Those detachments driven back, Dennie suddenly
found himself opposed to the irregular mass of Oosbeg horse and foot
which constituted the army of the Dost. Mackenzie's cannon fire shook the
undisciplined horde, the infantry pressed in to close quarters, and soon
the nondescript host of the Dost was in panic flight, with Dennie's
cavalry in eager pursuit. The Dost escaped with difficulty, with the loss
of his entire personal equipment. He was once more a fugitive, and the
Wali of Khooloom promptly submitted himself to the victors, and pledged
himself to aid and harbour the broken chief no more. Macnaghten had been
a prey to apprehension while the Dost's attitude was threatening; he was
now in a glow of joy and hope.

But the Envoy's elation was short-lived. Dost Mahomed was yet to cause
him much solicitude. Defeated in Bamian, he was ready for another attempt
in the Kohistan country to the north of Cabul. Disaffection was rife
everywhere throughout the kingdom, but it was perhaps most rife in the
Kohistan, which was seething with intrigues in favour of Dost Mahomed,
while the local chiefs were intensely exasperated by the exactions of the
Shah's revenue collectors. Macnaghten summoned the chiefs to Cabul. They
came, they did homage to the Shah and swore allegiance to him; they went
away from the capital pledging each other to his overthrow, and jeering
at the scantiness of the force they had seen at Cabul. Intercepted
letters disclosed their schemes, and in the end of September Sale, with a
considerable force, marched out to chastise the disaffected Kohistanees.
The fort of Tootundurrah fell without resistance. Julgah, however, the
next fort assailed, stubbornly held out, and officers and men fell in the
unsuccessful attempt to storm it. In three weeks Sale marched to and fro
through the Kohistan, pursuing will-o'-the-wisp rumours as to the
whereabouts of the Dost, destroying forts on the course of his weary
pilgrimage, and subjected occasionally to night attacks.

Meanwhile, in the belief that Dost Mahomed was close to Cabul, and
mournfully conscious that the capital and surrounding country were ripe
for a rising, Macnaghten had relapsed into nervousness, and was a prey to
gloomy forebodings. The troops at Bamian were urgently recalled. Cannon
were mounted on the Balla Hissar to overawe the city, the concentration
of the troops in the fortress was under consideration, and men were
talking of preparing for a siege. How Macnaghten's English nature was
undergoing deterioration under the strain of events is shown by his
writing of the Dost: 'Would it be justifiable to set a price on this
fellow's head?' How his perceptions were warped was further evinced by
his talking of 'showing no mercy to the man who has been the author of
all the evil now distracting the country,' and by his complaining of Sale
and Burnes that, 'with 2000 good infantry, they are sitting down before a
fortified place, and are afraid to attack it.'

Learning that for certain the Dost had crossed the Hindoo Koosh from
Nijrao into the Kohistan, Sale, who had been reinforced, sent out
reconnaissances which ascertained that he was in the Purwan Durrah
valley, stretching down from the Hindoo Koosh to the Gorebund river; and
the British force marched thither on 2d November. As the village was
neared, the Dost's people were seen evacuating it and the adjacent forts,
and making for the hills. Sale's cavalry was some distance in advance of
the infantry of the advance guard, but time was precious. Anderson's
horse went to the left, to cut off retreat down the Gorebund valley.
Fraser took his two squadrons of Bengal cavalry to the right, advanced
along the foothills, and gained the head of the valley. He was too late
to intercept a small body of Afghan horsemen, who were already climbing
the upland; but badly mounted as the latter were, he could pursue them
with effect. But it seemed that the Afghans preferred to fight rather
than be pursued. The Dost himself was in command of the little party, and
the Dost was a man whose nature was to fight, not to run. He wheeled his
handful so that his horsemen faced Fraser's troop down there below them.
Then the Dost pointed to his banner, bared his head, called on his
supporters in the name of God and the Prophet to follow him against the
unbelievers, and led them down the slope.

Fraser had formed up his troopers when recall orders reached him. Joyous
that the situation entitled him to disobey them, he gave instead the word
to charge. As the Afghans came down at no great pace, they fired
occasionally; either because of the bullets, or because of an access of
pusillanimity, Fraser's troopers broke and fled ignominiously. The
British gentlemen charged home unsupported. Broadfoot, Crispin and Lord
were slain; Ponsonby, severely wounded and his reins cut, was carried out
of the _mêlée_ by his charger; Fraser, covered with blood and wounds,
broke through his assailants, and brought to Sale his report of the
disgrace of his troopers. After a sharp pursuit of the poltroons, the
Dost and his followers leisurely quitted the field.

Burnes wrote to the Envoy--he was a soldier, but he was also a
'political,' and political employ seemed often in Afghanistan to
deteriorate the attribute of soldierhood--that there was no alternative
for the force but to fall back on Cabul, and entreated Macnaghten to
order immediate concentration of all the troops. This letter Macnaghten
received the day after the disaster in the Kohistan, when he was taking
his afternoon ride in the Cabul plain. His heart must have been very
heavy as he rode, when suddenly a horseman galloped up to him and
announced that the Ameer was approaching. 'What Ameer?' asked Macnaghten.
'Dost Mahomed Khan,' was the reply, and sure enough there was the Dost
close at hand. Dismounting, this Afghan prince and gentleman saluted the
Envoy, and offered him his sword, which Macnaghten declined to take. Dost
and Envoy rode into Cabul together, and such was the impression the
former made on the latter that Macnaghten, who a month before had
permitted himself to think of putting a price on 'the fellow's' head,
begged now of the Governor-General 'that the Dost be treated more
handsomely than was Shah Soojah, who had no claim on us.' And then
followed a strange confession for the man to make who made the tripartite
treaty, and approved the Simla manifesto: 'We had no hand in depriving
the Shah of his kingdom, _whereas we ejected the Dost, who never offended
us, in support of our policy, of which he was the victim_.'

Durand regards Dost Mahomed's surrender as 'evincing a strange
pusillanimity.' This opprobrious judgment appears unjustified. No doubt
he was weary of the fugitive life he had been leading, but to pronounce
him afraid that the Kohistanees or any other Afghans would betray him is
to ignore the fact that he had been for months among people who might,
any hour of any day, have betrayed him if they had chosen. Nobler motives
than those ascribed to him by Durand may be supposed to have actuated a
man of his simple and lofty nature. He had given the arbitrament of war a
trial, and had realised that in that way he could make no head against
us. He might, indeed, have continued the futile struggle, but he was the
sort of man to recognise the selfishness of that persistency which would
involve ruin and death to the devoted people who would not desert his
cause while he claimed to have a cause. When historians write of Afghan
treachery and guile, it seems to have escaped their perception that
Afghan treachery was but a phase of Afghan patriotism, of an unscrupulous
character, doubtless, according to our notions, but nevertheless
practical in its methods, and not wholly unsuccessful in its results. It
may have been a higher and purer patriotism that moved Dost Mahomed to
cease, by his surrender, from being an obstacle to the tranquillisation
of the country of which he had been the ruler.


Dost Mahomed remained for a few days in the British cantonments on the
Cabul plain, an honoured guest rather than a prisoner. His soldierly
frankness, his bearing at once manly and courteous, his honest liking for
and trust in our race, notwithstanding the experiences which he had
undergone, won universal respect and cordiality. Officers who stood aloof
from Shah Soojah vied with each other in evincing to Dost Mahomed their
sympathy with him in his fallen fortunes. Shah Soojah would not see the
man whom he had ingloriously supplanted, on the pretext that he 'could
not bring himself to show common civility to such a villain.' How
Macnaghten's feeling in regard to the two men had altered is disclosed by
his comment on this refusal. 'It is well,' he wrote, 'as the Dost must
have suffered much humiliation in being subjected to such an ordeal.'

In the middle of November 1840 the Dost began his journey toward British
India, accompanied by Sir Willoughby Cotton, who was finally quitting
Afghanistan, and under the escort of a considerable British force which
had completed its tour of duty in Afghanistan. Sale succeeded Cotton in
temporary divisional command pending the arrival of the latter's
successor. About the middle of December Shah Soojah and his Court,
accompanied by the British Envoy, arrived at Jellalabad for the winter,
Burnes remaining at Cabul in political charge.

Macnaghten was mentally so constituted as to be continually alternating
between high elation and the depths of despondency; discerning to-day
ominous indications of ruin in an incident of no account, and to-morrow
scorning imperiously to recognise danger in the fierce rising of a
province. It may almost be said that each letter of his to Lord Auckland
was of a different tone from the one which had preceded it. Burnes, who
was nominally Macnaghten's chief lieutenant, with more self-restraint,
had much the same temperament. Kaye writes of him: 'Sometimes sanguine,
sometimes despondent, sometimes confident, sometimes credulous, Burnes
gave to fleeting impressions all the importance and seeming permanency of
settled convictions, and imbued surrounding objects with the colours of
his own varying mind.' But if Burnes had been a discreet and steadfast
man, he could have exercised no influence on the autocratic Macnaghten,
since between the two men there was neither sympathy nor confidence.
Burnes had, indeed, no specific duties of any kind; in his own words, he
was in 'the most nondescript situation.' Macnaghten gave him no
responsibility, and while Burnes waited for the promised reversion of the
office of envoy, he chiefly employed himself in writing long memorials on
the situation and prospects of affairs, on which Macnaghten's marginal
comments were brusque, and occasionally contemptuous. The resolute and
clear-headed Pottinger, who, if the opportunity had been given him, might
have buttressed and steadied Macnaghten, was relegated to provincial
service. Throughout his career in Afghanistan the Envoy could not look
for much advice from the successive commanders of the Cabul force, even
if he had cared to commune with them. Keane, indeed, did save him from
the perpetration of one folly. But Cotton appears to have been a
respectable nonentity. Sale was a stout, honest soldier, who was not
fortunate on the only occasion which called him outside of his restricted
_métier_. Poor Elphinstone was an object for pity rather than for

It happened fortunately, in the impending misfortunes, that two men of
stable temperament and lucid perception were in authority at Candahar.
General Nott was a grand old Indian officer, in whom there was no guile,
but a good deal of temper. He was not supple, and he had the habit of
speaking his mind with great directness, a propensity which accounted,
perhaps, for the repeated supersessions he had undergone. A clearheaded,
shrewd man, he was disgusted with very many things which he recognised as
unworthy in the conduct of the affairs of Afghanistan, and he was not the
man to choose mild phrases in giving vent to his convictions. He had in
full measure that chronic dislike which the Indian commander in the field
nourishes to the political officer who is imposed on him by the
authorities, and who controls his measures and trammels his actions.
Nott's 'political,' who, the sole survivor of the men who were prominent
during this unhappy period, still lives among us esteemed and revered,
was certainly the ablest officer of the unpopular department to which he
belonged; and how cool was Henry Rawlinson's temper is evinced in his
ability to live in amity with the rugged and outspoken chief who
addressed him in such a philippic as the following--words all the more
trenchant because he to whom they were addressed must have realised how
intrinsically true they were:--

'I have no right to interfere with the affairs of this country, and I
never do so. But in reference to that part of your note where you speak
of political influence, I will candidly tell you that these are not times
for mere ceremony, and that under present circumstances, and at a
distance of 2000 miles from the seat of the supreme Government, I throw
responsibility to the wind, and tell you that in my opinion you have not
had for some time past, nor have you at present, one particle of
political influence in this country.'

Nott steadily laboured to maintain the _morale_ and discipline of his
troops, and thus watching the flowing tide of misrule and embroilment, he
calmly made the best preparations in his power to meet the storm the sure
and early outbreak of which his clear discernment prognosticated.

Shah Soojah's viceroy at Candahar was his heir-apparent Prince Timour.
The Dooranee chiefs of Western Afghanistan had not unnaturally expected
favours and influence under the rule of the Dooranee monarch; and while
in Candahar before proceeding to Cabul, and still uncertain of what might
occur there, Shah Soojah had been lavish of his promises. The chiefs had
anticipated that they would be called around the vice-throne of Prince
Timour; but Shah Soojah made the same error as that into which Louis
XVIII. fell on his restoration. He constituted his Court of the men who
had shared his Loodianah exile. The counsellors who went to Candahar with
Timour were returned _émigrés_, in whom fitness for duty counted less
than the qualification of companionship in exile. Those people had come
back to Afghanistan poor; now they made haste to be rich by acts of
oppressive injustice, in the exaction of revenue from the people, and by
intercepting from the Dooranee chiefs the flow of royal bounty to which
they had looked forward.

Uktar Khan was prominent among the Dooranee noblemen, and he had the
double grievance of having been disappointed of the headship of the
Zemindawar province on the western bank of the Helmund, and having been
evilly entreated by the minions of Prince Timour. He had raised his clan
and routed a force under a royalist follower, when Nott sent a detachment
against him. Uktar Khan had crossed the Helmund into Zemindawar, when
Farrington attacked him, and, after a brisk fight, routed and pursued
him. The action was fought on January 3, 1841, in the very dead of
winter; the intensity of the cold dispersed Uktar's levies, and
Farrington returned to Candahar.

In reply to Macnaghten's demand for information regarding the origin of
this outbreak, Rawlinson wrote him some home truths which were very
distasteful. Rawlinson warned his chief earnestly of the danger which
threatened the false position of the British in Afghanistan. He pointed
out how cruel must be the revenue exactions which enabled Prince Timour's
courtiers to absorb great sums. He expressed his suspicion that Shah
Soojah had countenanced Uktar Khan's rising, and spoke of intrigues of
dark and dangerous character. Macnaghten scouted Rawlinson's warning, and
instructed him that 'it will make the consideration of all questions more
simple if you will hereafter take for granted that as regards us "the
king can do no wrong."' However, he and the Shah did remove from Candahar
the Vakeel and his clique of obnoxious persons, who had been grinding the
faces of the people; and the Envoy allowed himself to hope that this
measure would restore order to the province of Candahar.

The hope was vain, the evil lay deeper; disaffection to the Shah and
hatred to the British power were becoming intensified from day to day,
and the aspiration for relief was swelling into a passion. In the days
before our advent there had been venality and corruption in public
places--occasionally, likely enough, as Macnaghten asserted, to an extent
all but incredible. But exaction so sweeping could have occurred only in
regions under complete domination; and in Afghanistan, even to this day,
there are few regions wholly in this condition. When the yoke became
over-weighty, a people of a nature so intractable knew how to resent
oppression and oppose exaction. But now the tax gatherer swaggered over
the land, and the people had to endure him, for at his back were the
soldiers of the Feringhees and the levies of the Shah. The latter were
paid by assignments on the revenues of specified districts; as the levies
constituted a standing army of some size, the contributions demanded were
heavier and more permanent than in bygone times. Macnaghten, aware of the
discontent engendered by the system of assignments, desired to alter it.
But the Shah's needs were pressing; the Anglo-Indian treasury was
strained already by the expenditure in Afghanistan; and it was not easy
in a period of turmoil and rebellion to carry out the amendment of a
fiscal system. That, since the surrender of the Dost, there had been no
serious rising in Northern or Eastern Afghanistan, sufficed to make
Macnaghten an optimist of the moment. He had come by this time to a
reluctant admission of the fact against which he had set his face so
long, that Shah Soojah was unpopular. 'He has incurred,' he wrote, 'the
odium that attaches to him from his alliance with us'; but the Envoy
would not admit that our position in Afghanistan was a false one, in that
we were maintaining by our bayonets, against the will of the Afghans, a
sovereign whom they detested. 'It would,' he pleaded, 'be an act of
downright dishonesty to desert His Majesty before he has found the means
of taking root in the soil to which we have transplanted him.' While he
wrote, Macnaghten must have experienced a sudden thrill of optimism or of
self-delusion, for he continued: 'All things considered, the present
tranquillity of this country is to my mind perfectly miraculous. Already
our presence has been infinitely beneficial in allaying animosities and
in pointing out abuses.' If it had been the case that the country was
tranquil, his adjective would have been singularly appropriate, but not
precisely in the sense he meant to convey.

But there was no tranquillity, miraculous or otherwise. While Macnaghten
was writing the letter which has just been quoted, Brigadier Shelton,
who, about the New Year, had reached Jellalabad with a brigade from
British India in relief of the force which was withdrawing with Cotton,
was contending with an outbreak of the wild and lawless clans of the
Khyber. When Macnaghten wrote, he had already received intelligence of
the collapse of his projects in Herat, and that Major Todd, who had been
his representative there, judging it imperative to break up the mission
of which he was the head, had abruptly quitted that city, and was on his
way to Candahar. Mischief was simmering in the Zemindawar country. The
Ghilzai tribes of the region between Candahar and Ghuznee had accepted a
subsidy to remain quiet, but the indomitable independence of this wild
and fierce race was not to be tamed by bribes, and the spirit of
hostility was manifesting itself so truculently that a British garrison
had been placed in Khelat-i-Ghilzai, right in the heart of the disturbed
territory. This warning and defensive measure the tribes had regarded
with angry jealousy; but it was not until a rash 'political' had directed
the unprovoked assault and capture of a Ghilzai fort that the tribes
passionately flew to arms, bent on contesting the occupation of their
rugged country. Colonel Wymer was sent from Candahar with a force,
escorting a convoy of stores intended for the equipment of
Khelat-i-Ghilzai. The tribes who had been loosely beleaguering that place
marched down the Turnuk upon Wymer, and on May 19th attacked him with
great impetuosity, under the command of a principal chief who was known
as the 'Gooroo.' Wymer, in the protection of his convoy, had to stand on
the defensive. The Ghilzais, regardless of the grape which tore through
their masses, fell on sword in hand, and with an intuitive tactical
perception struck Wymer simultaneously in front and flank. His sepoys had
to change their dispositions, and the Ghilzais took the opportunity of
their momentary dislocation to charge right home. They were met firmly by
the bayonet, but again and again the hillmen renewed their attacks; and
it was not till after five hours of hard fighting which cost them heavy
loss, that at length, in the darkness, they suddenly drew off. Had they
been Swiss peasants defending their mountains, or Poles struggling
against the ferocious tyranny of Russia, their gallant effort might have
excited praise and sympathy. Had they been Soudanese, a statesman might
have spoken of them as a people 'rightly struggling to be free'; as it
was, the Envoy vituperated them as 'a parcel of ragamuffins,' and Wymer's
sepoys were held to have 'covered themselves with glory.' Macnaghten
proceeded to encourage a sense of honour among the tribes by proposing
the transfer to another chief, on condition of his seizing and delivering
over the inconvenient 'Gooroo,' of the share of subsidy of which the
latter had been in receipt.

While this creditable transaction was under consideration, Uktar Khan was
again making himself very unpleasant; so much so that Macnaghten was
authorising Rawlinson to offer a reward of 10,000 rupees for his capture,
which accomplished, Rawlinson was instructed to 'hang the villain as high
as Haman.' The gallows was not built, however, on which Uktar was to
hang, although that chief sustained two severe defeats at the hands of
troops sent from Candahar, and had to become a fugitive. The Ghilzais,
who had gathered again after their defeat under the 'Gooroo,' had made
little stand against the detachment which Colonel Chambers led out from
Candahar, and they were again temporarily dispersed. The 'Gooroo' himself
was in our hands. If the disaffection was in no degree diminished, the
active ebullitions of it were assuredly quelled for the time. It was
true, to be sure, that Akbar Khan, the fierce and resolute son of Dost
Mahomed, had refused the Envoy's overtures to come in, and was wandering
and plotting in Khooloom, quite ready to fulfil Macnaghten's prophetic
apprehension that 'the fellow will be after some mischief should the
opportunity present itself'; that the Dooranees were still defiant; that
an insurgent force was out in the Dehrawat; and that the tameless chief
Akram Khan was being blown from a gun by the cruel and feeble Timour. But
unquestionably there was a comparative although short-lived lull in the
overt hostility of the Afghan peoples against Shah Soojah and his foreign
supporters; and Macnaghten characteristically announced that 'the country
was quiet from Dan to Beersheba.' To one of his correspondents he wrote:
'From Mookoor to the Khyber Pass, all is content and tranquillity; and
wherever we Europeans go, we are received with respect, attention and
welcome. I think our prospects are most cheering; and with the materials
we have there ought to be little or no difficulty in the management of
the country. The people are perfect children, and they should be treated
as such. If we put one naughty boy in the corner, the rest will be

General Nott at Candahar, who 'never interfered in the government of the
country,' but regarded the situation with shrewd, clear-headed common
sense, differed utterly from the Envoy's view. The stout old soldier did
not squander his fire; it was a close volley he discharged in the
following words: 'The conduct of the thousand and one politicals has
ruined our cause, and bared the throat of every European in this country
to the sword and knife of the revengeful Afghan and bloody Belooch; and
unless several regiments be quickly sent, not a man will be left to
describe the fate of his comrades. Nothing will ever make the Afghans
submit to the hated Shah Soojah, who is most certainly as great a
scoundrel as ever lived.'

Nott's conclusions were in the main justified by after events, but the
correctness of his premiss may be questioned. That the conduct of some of
the political officers intensified the rancour of the Afghans is
unhappily true, but the hate of our domination, and of the puppet thrust
upon them by us, seems to have found its origin in a deeper feeling. The
patriotism of a savage race is marked by features repulsive to civilised
communities, but through the ruthless cruelty of the indiscriminate
massacre, the treachery of the stealthy stab, and the lightly broken
pledges, there may shine out the noblest virtue that a virile people can
possess. A semi-barbarian nation whose manhood pours out its blood like
water in stubborn resistance against an alien yoke, may be pardoned for
many acts shocking to civilised communities which have not known the
bitterness of stern and masterful subjugation.


The deceptive quietude of Afghanistan which followed the sharp lessons
administered to the Dooranees and the Ghilzais was not seriously
disturbed during the month of September 1841, and Macnaghten was in a
full glow of cheerfulness. His services had been recognised by his
appointment to the dignified and lucrative post of Governor of the Bombay
Presidency, and he was looking forward to an early departure for a less
harassing and tumultuous sphere of action than that in which he had been
labouring for two troubled years. The belief that he would leave behind
him a quiescent Afghanistan, and Shah Soojah firmly established on its
throne, was the complement, to a proud and zealous man, of the
satisfaction which his promotion afforded.

One distasteful task he had to perform before he should go. The Home
Government had become seriously disquieted by the condition of affairs in
Afghanistan. The Secret Committee of the Court of Directors, the channel
through which the ministry communicated with the Governor-General, had
expressed great concern at the heavy burden imposed on the Indian
finances by the cost of the maintenance of the British force in
Afghanistan, and by the lavish expenditure of the administration which
Macnaghten directed. The Anglo-Indian Government was urgently required to
review with great earnestness the question of its future policy in regard
to Afghanistan, and to consider gravely whether an enterprise at once so
costly and so unsatisfactory in results should not be frankly abandoned.
Lord Auckland was alive to the difficulties and embarrassments which
encompassed the position beyond the Indus, but he was loth to admit that
the policy of which he had been the author, and in which the Home
Government had abetted him so eagerly, was an utter failure. He and his
advisers finally decided in favour of the continued occupation of
Afghanistan; and since the Indian treasury was empty, and the annual
charge of that occupation was not less than a million and a quarter
sterling, recourse was had to a loan, Macnaghten was pressed to effect
economies in the administration, and he was specially enjoined to cut
down the subsidies which were paid to Afghan chiefs as bribes to keep
them quiet. Macnaghten had objected to this retrenchment, pointing out
that the stipends to the chiefs were simply compensation for the
abandonment by them of their immemorial practice of highway robbery, but
he yielded to pressure, called to Cabul the chiefs in its vicinity, and
informed them that thenceforth their subsidies would be reduced. The
chiefs strongly remonstrated, but without effect, and they then formed a
confederacy of rebellion. The Ghilzai chiefs were the first to act.
Quitting Cabul, they occupied the passes between the capital and
Jellalabad, and entirely intercepted the communications with India by the
Khyber route.

Macnaghten did not take alarm at this significant demonstration,
regarding the outbreak merely as 'provoking,' and writing to Rawlinson
that 'the rascals would be well trounced for their pains.' Yet warnings
of gathering danger were rife, which but for his mood of optimism should
have struck home to his apprehension. Pottinger had come down from the
Kohistan, where he was acting as political officer, bent on impressing on
him that a general rising of that region was certain unless strong
measures of prevention were resorted to. For some time before the actual
outbreak of the Ghilzais, the Afghan hatred to our people had been
showing itself with exceptional openness and bitterness. Europeans and
camp followers had been murdered, but the sinister evidences of growing
danger had been regarded merely as ebullitions of private rancour. Akbar
Khan, Dost Mahomed's son, had moved forward from Khooloom into the Bamian
country, and there was little doubt that he was fomenting the
disaffection of the Ghilzai chiefs, with some of whom this indomitable
man, who in his intense hatred of the English intruders had resolutely
rejected all offers of accommodation, and preferred the life of a
homeless exile to the forfeiture of his independence, was closely
connected by marriage.

The time was approaching when Sale's brigade was to quit Cabul on its
return journey to India. Macnaghten seems to have originally intended to
accompany this force, for he wrote that he 'hoped to settle the hash of
the Ghilzais on the way down, if not before.' The rising, however, spread
so widely and so rapidly that immediate action was judged necessary, and
on October 9th Colonel Monteath marched towards the passes with his own
regiment, the 35th Native Infantry, some artillery and cavalry details,
and a detachment of Broadfoot's sappers.

How able, resolute, and high-souled a man was George Broadfoot, the
course of this narrative will later disclose. He was one of three gallant
brothers, all of whom died sword in hand. The corps of sappers which he
commanded was a remarkable body--a strange medley of Hindustanees,
Goorkhas, and Afghan tribesmen of divers regions. Many were desperate and
intractable characters, but Broadfoot, with mingled strength and
kindness, moulded his heterogeneous recruits into skilful, obedient and
disciplined soldiers. Broadfoot's description of his endeavours to learn
something of the nature of the duties expected of him in the expedition
for which he had been detailed, and to obtain such equipment as those
duties might require, throws a melancholy light on the deteriorated state
of affairs among our people at this period, and on the relations between
the military and civilian authorities.

Broadfoot went for information, in the first instance, to Colonel
Monteath, who could give him no orders, having received none himself.
Monteath declined to apply for details as to the expedition, as he knew
'these people' (the authorities) too well; he was quite aware of the
danger of going on service in the dark, but explained that it was not the
custom of the military authorities at Cabul to consult or even instruct
the commanders of expeditions. Broadfoot then went to the General.
Cotton's successor in the chief military command in Afghanistan was poor
General Elphinstone, a most gallant soldier, but with no experience of
Indian warfare, and utterly ignorant of the Afghans and of Afghanistan.
Wrecked in body and impaired in mind by physical ailments and
infirmities, he had lost all faculty of energy, and such mind as remained
to him was swayed by the opinion of the person with whom he had last
spoken. The poor gentleman was so exhausted by the exertion of getting
out of bed, and being helped into his visiting-room, that it was not for
half-an-hour, and after several ineffectual efforts, that he could attend
to business. He knew nothing of the nature of the service on which
Monteath was ordered, could give Broadfoot no orders, and was unwilling
to refer to the Envoy on a matter which should have been left to him to
arrange. He complained bitterly of the way in which he was reduced to a
cypher--'degraded from a general to the "Lord-Lieutenant's head
constable."' Broadfoot went from the General to the Envoy, who 'was
peevish,' and denounced the General as fidgety. He declared the enemy to
be contemptible, and that as for Broadfoot and his sappers, twenty men
with pickaxes were enough; all they were wanted for was to pick stones
from under the gun wheels. When Broadfoot represented the inconvenience
with which imperfect information as to the objects of the expedition was
fraught, Macnaghten lost his temper, and told Broadfoot that, if he
thought Monteath's movement likely to bring on an attack, 'he need not
go, he was not wanted'; whereupon Broadfoot declined to listen to such
language, and made his bow. Returning to the General, whom he found 'lost
and perplexed,' he was told to follow his own judgment as to what
quantity of tools he should take. The Adjutant-General came in, and 'this
officer, after abusing the Envoy, spoke to the General with an
imperiousness and disrespect, and to me, a stranger, with an insolence it
was painful to see the influence of on the General. His advice to his
chief was to have nothing to say to Macnaghten, to me, or to the sappers,
saying Monteath had men enough, and needed neither sappers nor tools.' At
parting the poor old man said to Broadfoot: 'If you go out, for God's
sake clear the passes quickly, that I may get away; for if anything were
to turn up, I am unfit for it, done up in body and mind.' This was the
man whom Lord Auckland had appointed to the most responsible and arduous
command at his disposal, and this not in ignorance of General
Elphinstone's disqualifications for active service, but in the fullest
knowledge of them!

Monteath's camp at Bootkhak, the first halting-place on the Jellalabad
road, was sharply attacked on the night of the 9th, and the assailants,
many of whom were the armed retainers of chiefs living in Cabul sent out
specially to take part in the attack, although unsuccessful, inflicted on
Monteath considerable loss. Next day Sale, with H.M.'s 13th, joined
Monteath, and on the 13th he forced the long and dangerous ravine of the
Khoord Cabul with sharp fighting, but no very serious loss, although Sale
himself was wounded, and had to relinquish the active command to Colonel
Dennie. Monteath encamped in the valley beyond the pass, and Sale, with
the 13th, returned without opposition to Bootkhak, there to await
reinforcements and transports. In his isolated position Monteath remained
unmolested until the night of the 17th, when he repulsed a Ghilzai attack
made in considerable strength, and aided by the treachery of 'friendly'
Afghans who had been admitted into his camp; but he had many casualties,
and lost a number of camels. On the 20th Sale, reinforced by troops
returned from the Zurmut expedition, moved forward on Monteath, and on
the 22d pushed on to the Tezeen valley, meeting with no opposition either
on the steep summit of the Huft Kotul or in the deep narrow ravine
opening into the valley. The Ghilzais were in force around the mouth of
the defile, but a few cannon-shots broke them up. The advance guard
pursued with over-rashness; the Ghilzais rallied, in the skirmish which
ensued an officer and several men were killed, and the retirement of our
people unfortunately degenerated into precipitate flight, with the
Ghilzais in hot pursuit. The 13th, to which the fugitive detachment
mainly belonged, now consisted mainly of young soldiers, whose constancy
was impaired by this untoward occurrence.

Macnaghten had furnished Sale with a force which, in good heart and
vigorously commanded, was strong enough to have effected great things.
The Ghilzai chief of Tezeen possessed a strong fort full of supplies,
which Dennie was about to attack, when the wily Afghan sent to Major
Macgregor, the political officer accompanying Sale, a tender of
submission. Macgregor fell into the snare, desired Sale to countermand
the attack, and entered into negotiations. In doing so he committed a
fatal error, and he exceeded his instructions in the concessions which he
made. Macnaghten, it was true, had left matters greatly to Macgregor's
discretion; and if 'the rebels were very humble,' the Envoy was not
disposed to be too hard upon them. But one of his firm stipulations was
that the defences of Khoda Buxsh's fort must be demolished, and that Gool
Mahomed Khan 'should have nothing but war.' Both injunctions were
disregarded by Macgregor, who, with unimportant exceptions, surrendered
all along the line. The Ghilzais claimed and obtained the restoration of
their original subsidies; a sum was handed to them to enable them to
raise the tribes in order to keep clear the passes; Khoda Buxsh held his
fort, and sold the supplies it contained to Sale's commissary at a fine
price. Every item of the arrangement was dead in favour of the Ghilzais,
and contributory to their devices. Sale, continuing his march, would be
separated further and further from the now diminished force in Cabul, and
by the feigned submission the chiefs had made they had escaped the
permanent establishment of a strong detachment in their midst at Tezeen.

Macnaghten, discontented though he was with the sweeping concessions
which Macgregor had granted to the Ghilzais, put the best face he could
on the completed transaction, and allowed himself to believe that a
stable settlement had been effected. On the 26th Sale continued his
march, having made up his baggage animals at the expense of the 37th
Native Infantry, which, with half of the sappers and three guns of the
mountain train, he sent back to Kubbar-i-Jubbar, there to halt in a
dangerously helpless situation until transport should be sent down from
Cabul. His march as far as Kutti Sung was unmolested. Mistrusting the
good faith of his new-made allies, he shunned the usual route through the
Purwan Durrah by taking the mountain road to the south of that defile,
and thus reached the Jugdulluk valley with little opposition, baulking
the dispositions of the Ghilzais, who, expecting him to traverse the
Purwan Durrah, were massed about the southern end of the defile, ready to
fall on the column when committed to the tortuous gorge.

From the Jugdulluk camping ground there is a steep and winding ascent of
three miles, commanded until near the summit by heights on either side.
Sale's main body had attained the crest with trivial loss, having
detached parties by the way to ascend to suitable flanking positions, and
hold those until the long train of slow-moving baggage should have
passed, when they were to fall in and come on with the rear-guard. The
dispositions would have been successful but that on reaching the crest
the main body, instead of halting there for the rear to close up, hurried
down the reverse slope, leaving baggage, detachments, and rear-guard to
endure the attacks which the Ghilzais promptly delivered, pressing
fiercely on the rear, and firing down from either side on the confused
mass in the trough below. The flanking detachments had relinquished their
posts in panic, and hurried forward in confusion to get out of the pass.
The rear-guard was in disorder, when Broadfoot, with a few officers and
some of his sappers, valiantly checked the onslaught, but the crest was
not crossed until upwards of 120 men had fallen, the wounded among whom
had to be abandoned with the dead. On October 30th Sale's force reached
Gundamuk without further molestation, and halted there temporarily to
await orders. During the halt melancholy rumours filtered down the passes
from the capital, and later came confirmation of the evil tidings from
the Envoy, and orders from Elphinstone directing the immediate return of
the brigade to Cabul, if the safety of its sick and wounded could be
assured. Sale called a council of war, which pronounced, although not
unanimously, against a return to Cabul; and it was resolved instead to
march on to Jellalabad, which was regarded as an eligible _point d'appui_
on which a relieving force might move up and a retiring force might move
down. Accordingly on November 11th the brigade quitted Gundamuk, and
hurried down rather precipitately, and with some fighting by the way, to
Jellalabad, which was occupied on the 14th.

Some members of the Gundamuk council of war, foremost among whom was
Broadfoot, argued vigorously in favour of the return march to Cabul.
Havelock, who was with Sale as a staff-officer, strongly urged the
further retreat into Jellalabad. Others, again, advocated the middle
course of continuing to hold Gundamuk. It may be said that a daring
general would have fought his way back to Cabul, that a prudent general
would have remained at Gundamuk, and that the occupation of Jellalabad
was the expedient of a weak general. That a well-led march on Cabul was
feasible, although it might have been difficult and bloody, cannot be
questioned, and the advent of such men as Broadfoot and Havelock would
have done much toward rekindling confidence and stimulating the
restoration of soldierly virtue, alike in the military authorities and in
the rank and file of the Cabul force. At Gundamuk, again, the brigade,
well able to maintain its position there, would have made its influence
felt all through the Ghilzai country and as far as Cabul. The evacuation
of that capital decided on, it would have been in a position to give the
hand to the retiring army, and so to avert at least the worst disasters
of the retreat. The retirement on Jellalabad, in the terse language of
Durand, 'served no conceivable purpose except to betray weakness, and
still further to encourage revolt.'

While Sale was struggling through the passes on his way to Gundamuk, our
people at Cabul were enjoying unwonted quietude. Casual entries in Lady
Sale's journal, during the later days of October, afford clear evidence
how utterly unconscious were they of the close gathering of the storm
that so soon was to break upon them. Her husband had written to her from
Tezeen that his wound was fast healing, and that the chiefs were
extremely polite. She complains of the interruption of the mails owing to
the Ghilzai outbreak, but comforts herself with the anticipation of their
arrival in a day or two. She was to leave Cabul for India in a few days,
along with the Macnaghtens and General Elphinstone, and her diary
expresses an undernote of regret at having to leave the snug house in the
cantonments which Sale had built on his own plan, the excellent kitchen
garden in which her warrior husband, in the intervals of his soldiering
duties, grew fine crops of peas, potatoes, cauliflowers and artichokes,
and the parterres of flowers which she herself cultivated, and which were
the admiration of the Afghan gentlemen who came to pay their morning

[Illustration: CABUL the CANTONMENT _and the_ Surrounding COUNTRY.]

The defencelessness of the position at Cabul had long engaged the
solicitude of men who were no alarmists. Engineer officer after engineer
officer had unavailingly and a half from the cantonments, with the Cabul
river intervening. With Shelton's troops and those in the cantonments
General Elphinstone had at his disposition, apart from the Shah's
contingent, four infantry regiments, two batteries of artillery, three
companies of sappers, a regiment of cavalry, and some irregular horse--a
force fully equipped and in good order. In the Balla Hissar Shah Soojah
had a considerable, if rather mixed, body of military and several guns.

The rising of the 2d November may not have been the result of a fully
organised plan. There are indications that it was premature, and that the
revolt in force would have been postponed until after the expected
departure of the Envoy and the General with all the troops except
Shelton's brigade, but for an irrepressible burst of personal rancour
against Burnes. Durand holds, however, that the malcontents acted on the
belief that to kill Burnes and sack the Treasury was to inaugurate the
insurrection with an imposing success. Be this as it may, a truculent mob
early in the morning of November 2d assailed Burnes' house. He at first
regarded the outbreak as a casual riot, and wrote to Macnaghten to that
effect. Having harangued the throng without effect, he and his brother,
along with William Broadfoot his secretary, prepared for defence.
Broadfoot was soon killed, and a little later Burnes and his brother were
hacked to pieces in the garden behind the house. The Treasury was sacked;
the sepoys who had guarded it and Burnes' house were massacred, and both
buildings were fired; the armed mob swelled in numbers, and soon the
whole city was in a roar of tumult.

Prompt and vigorous military action would no doubt have crushed the
insurrection, at least for the time. But the indifference, vacillation
and delay of the British authorities greatly encouraged its rapid
development. Macnaghten at first 'did not think much of it.' Shelton was
ordered into the Balla Hissar, countermanded, a second time ordered, and
again instructed to halt for orders. At last the Envoy himself despatched
him, with the loose order to act on his own judgment in communication
with the Shah. Shelton marched into the Balla Hissar with part of his
force, and the rest of it was moved into the cantonments. When the
Brigadier went to the Shah, that potentate demanded to know who sent him,
and what he had come for. But the Shah, to do him justice, had himself
taken action. Informed that Burnes was attacked and the city in revolt,
he had ordered Campbell's regiment of his own levies and a couple of guns
to march to his assistance. Campbell recklessly attempted to push his way
through the heart of the city, instead of reaching Burnes' house by a
circuitous but opener route, and after some sharp street fighting in
which he lost heavily, he was driven back, unable to penetrate to the
scene of plunder and butchery. Shelton remained inactive in the Balla
Hissar until Campbell was reported beaten and retreating, when he took
some feeble measures to cover the retreat of the fugitives, who, however,
abandoned their guns outside the fortress. The day was allowed to pass
without anything further being done, except the despatch of an urgent
recall to Major Griffiths, whom Sale had left at Kubbar-i-Jubbar, and
that good soldier, having fought every step of the way through the
passes, brought in his detachment in unbroken order and without loss of
baggage, notwithstanding his weakness in transport. Shelton, reinforced
in the Balla Hissar, maintained an intermittent and ineffectual fire on
the city. Urgent orders were despatched to Sale, recalling him and his
brigade--orders with which, as has been mentioned, Sale did not
comply--and also to Nott, at Candahar, begging him to send a brigade to
Cabul. In compliance with this requisition, Maclaren's brigade
immediately started from Candahar, but soon returned owing to the
inclemency of the weather.

Captain Mackenzie was in charge of a fort containing the Shah's
commissariat stores; this fort was on the outskirts of a suburb of Cabul,
and was fiercely attacked on the 2d. For two days Mackenzie maintained
his post with unwearying constancy. His garrison was short of water and
of ammunition, and the fort was crowded with women and children, but he
held on resolutely until the night of the 3d. No assistance was sent, no
notice, indeed, of any kind was taken of him; his garrison was
discouraged by heavy loss, and by the mines which the enemy were pushing
forward. At length, when the gate of the fort had been fired, and his
wounded were dying for lack of medical aid, he evacuated the fort, and
fought his way gallantly into cantonments, bringing in his wounded and
the women and children. With this solitary exception the Afghans had
nowhere encountered resistance, and the strange passiveness of our people
encouraged them to act with vigour. From the enclosed space of the Shah
Bagh, and the adjacent forts of Mahmood Khan and Mahomed Shereef, they
were threatening the Commissariat fort, hindering access to it, and
besetting the south-western flank of the cantonments. A young officer
commanded the hundred sepoys garrisoning the Commissariat fort; he
reported himself in danger of being cut off, and Elphinstone gave orders
that he and his garrison should be brought off, and the fort and its
contents abandoned. Several efforts to accomplish the withdrawal were
thwarted by the Afghan flanking fire, with the loss of several officers
and many men. The commissary officer urged on the General the disastrous
consequences which the abandonment of the fort would entail, containing
as it did all the stores, adding that in cantonments there were only two
days' supplies, without prospect of procuring any more. Orders were then
sent to Warren to hold out to the last extremity; which instructions he
denied having received. Early in the morning of the 5th troops were
preparing to attack the Afghan fort and reinforce the Commissariat fort,
when Warren and his garrison reached the cantonments. The gate of the
Commissariat fort had been fired, but the enemy had not effected an
entrance, yet Warren and his people had evacuated the fort through a hole
cut in its wall. Thus, with scarcely a struggle to save it, was this
vital fort allowed to fall into the enemy's hands, and thenceforward our
unfortunate people were to be reduced to precarious and scanty sources
for their food.

From the 5th to the 9th November there was a good deal of desultory
fighting, in the course of which, after one failure, Mahomed Shereef's
fort was stormed by a detachment of our people, under the command of
Major Griffiths; but this success had little influence on the threatening
attitude maintained by the Afghans. On the 9th, owing to the mental and
physical weakness of poor General Elphinstone, Brigadier Shelton was
summoned into cantonments from the Balla Hissar, bringing with him part
of the garrison with which he had been holding the latter post. The hopes
entertained that Shelton would display vigour, and restore the confidence
of the troops, were not realised. He from the first had no belief in the
ability of the occupants of the cantonment to maintain their position,
and he never ceased to urge prompt retreat on Jellalabad. From the purely
military point of view he was probably right; the Duke of Wellington
shared his opinion when he said in the House of Lords: 'After the first
few days, particularly after the negotiations at Cabul had commenced, it
became hopeless for General Elphinstone to maintain his position.'
Shelton's situation was unquestionably a very uncomfortable one, for
Elphinstone, broken as he was, yet allowed his second in command no
freedom of action, and was testily pertinacious of his prerogative of
command. If in Shelton, who after his manner was a strong man, there had
been combined with his resolution some tact and temper, he might have
exercised a beneficial influence. As it was he became sullen and
despondent, and retired behind an 'uncommunicative and disheartening
reserve.' Brave as he was, he seems to have lacked the inspiration which
alone could reinvigorate the drooping spirit of the troops. In a word,
though he probably was, in army language, a 'good duty soldier,' he
certainly was nothing more. And something more was needed then.

Action on Shelton's part became necessary the day after he came into
cantonments. The Afghans occupied all the forts on the plain between the
Seah Sung heights and the cantonments, and from the nearest of them, the
Rikabashee fort, poured in a heavy fire at close range, which the return
artillery fire could not quell. On Macnaghten's urgent requisition the
General ordered out a strong force, under Shelton, to storm the obnoxious
fort. Captain Bellew missed the gate, and blew open merely a narrow
wicket, but the storming party obeyed the signal to advance. Through a
heavy fire the leaders reached the wicket, and forced their way in,
followed by a few soldiers. The garrison of the fort hastily evacuated
it, and all seemed well, when a sudden stampede ensued--the handful
which, led by Colonel Mackrell of the 44th and Lieutenant Bird of the
Shah's force, had already entered the fort, remaining inside it. The
runaway troops were rallied with difficulty by Shelton and the
subordinate officers, but a call for volunteers from the European
regiment was responded to but by one solitary Scottish private. After a
second advance, and a second retreat--a retreat made notwithstanding
strong artillery and musketry support--Shelton's efforts brought his
people forward yet again, and this time the fort was occupied in force.
Of those who had previously entered it but two survivors were found. The
Afghans, re-entering the fort, had hacked Mackrell to pieces and
slaughtered the men who tried to escape by the wicket. Lieutenant Bird
and a sepoy, from a stable the door of which they had barricaded with
logs of wood, had fended off their assailants by a steady and deadly
fire, and when they were rescued by the entrance of the troops they had
to clamber out over a pile of thirty dead Afghans whom the bullets of the
two men had struck down.

It had come to our people in those gloomy days, to regard as a 'triumph'
a combat in which they were not actually worsted; and even of such
dubious successes the last occurred on November 13, when the Afghans,
after having pressed our infantry down the slopes of the Behmaroo ridge,
were driven back by artillery fire, and forced by a cavalry charge to
retreat further, leaving behind them a couple of guns from which they had
been sending missiles into the cantonments. One of those guns was brought
in without difficulty, but the other the Afghans covered with their
jezail fire. The Envoy had sent a message of entreaty that 'the triumph
of the day' should be completed by its capture. Major Scott of the 44th
made appeal on appeal, ineffectually, to the soldierly feelings of his
men, and while they would not move the sepoys could not be induced to
advance. At length Eyre spiked the piece as a precautionary measure, and
finally some men of the Shah's infantry succeeded in bringing in the
prize. The return march of the troops into cantonments in the dark, was
rendered disorderly by the close pressure of the Afghans, who, firing
incessantly, pursued the broken soldiery up to the entrance gate.

On the depressed garrison of the Cabul cantonments tidings of disaster
further afield had been pouring in apace. Soon after the outbreak of the
rising, it was known that Lieutenant Maule, commanding the Kohistanee
regiment at Kurdurrah, had been cut to pieces, with his adjutant and
sergeant-major, by the men of his own corps; and on November 6th
intelligence had come in that the Goorkha regiment stationed at Charikar
in the Kohistan, where Major Pottinger was Resident, was in dangerous
case, and that Codrington, its commandant, and some of his officers had
already fallen. And now, on the 15th, there rode wearily into cantonments
two wounded men, who believed themselves the only British survivors of
the Charikar force. Pottinger was wounded in the leg, Haughton, the
adjutant of the Goorkha corps, had lost his right hand, and his head hung
forward on his breast, half severed from his body by a great tulwar
slash. Of the miserable story which it fell to Pottinger to tell only the
briefest summary can be given. His residence was at Lughmanee, a few
miles from the Charikar cantonments, when early in the month a number of
chiefs of the Kohistan and the Nijrao country assembled to discuss with
him the terms on which they would reopen the communications with Cabul.
Those chiefs proved treacherous, slew Rattray, Pottinger's assistant, and
besieged Pottinger in Lughmanee. Finding his position untenable, he
withdrew to Charikar under cover of night. On the morning of the 5th the
Afghans assailed the cantonments. Pottinger was wounded, Codrington was
killed, and the Goorkhas were driven into the barracks. Haughton, who
succeeded to the command of the regiment, made sortie on sortie, but was
finally driven in, and the enemy renewed their assaults in augmented
strength. Thenceforward the position was all but hopeless. On the 10th
the last scant remains of water was distributed. Efforts to procure water
by sorties on the nights of the 11th and 12th were not successful, and
the corps fell into disorganisation because of losses, hardships,
exhaustion, hunger and thirst. Pottinger and Haughton agreed that there
was no prospect of saving even a remnant of the regiment unless by a
retreat to Cabul, which, however, was clearly possible only in the case
of the stronger men, unencumbered with women and children, of whom,
unfortunately, there was a great number in the garrison. On the afternoon
of the 13th Haughton was cut down by a treacherous native officer of the
artillery, who then rushed out of the gate, followed by all the gunners
and most of the Mahommedans of the garrison. In the midst of the chaos of
disorganisation, Dr Grant amputated Haughton's hand, dressed his other
wounds, and then spiked all the guns. When it was dark, the garrison
moved out, Pottinger leading the advance, Dr Grant the main body, and
Ensign Rose the rear-guard. From the beginning of the march, discipline
was all but entirely in abeyance; on reaching the first stream, the last
remains of control were lost, and the force was rapidly disintegrating.
Pottinger and Haughton, the latter only just able to keep the saddle,
pushed on toward Cabul, rested in a ravine during the day, evaded the
partisan detachment sent out from Cabul to intercept them, rode through
sleeping Cabul in the small hours of the morning, and after being pursued
and fired upon in the outskirts of the city, finally attained the
cantonments. It was afterwards learned that a portion of the regiment had
struggled on to within twenty miles from Cabul, gallantly headed by young
Rose and Dr Grant. Then the remnant was destroyed. Rose was killed, after
despatching four Afghans with his own hand. Dr Grant, escaping the
massacre, held on until within three miles of the cantonments, when he
too was killed.

Macnaghten was naturally much depressed by the news communicated by
Pottinger, and realised that the Afghan masses already encompassing the
position on the Cabul plain would certainly be increased by bands from
the Kohistan and Nijrao, flushed already with their Charikar success. He
sided strongly with the large party among the officers who were
advocating the measure of abandoning the cantonments altogether, and
moving the force now quartered there to the safer and more commanding
position in the Balla Hissar. The military chiefs opposed the project,
and propounded a variety of objections to it, none of which were without
weight, yet all of which might have been overcome by energy and proper
dispositions. Shelton, however, was opposed to the scheme, since if
carried out it would avert or postpone the accomplishment of his policy
of retreat on Jellalabad; Elphinstone was against it in the inertia of
debility, and the project gradually came to be regarded as abandoned.
Another project, that of driving the Afghans from Mahmood Khan's fort,
commanding the direct road between the cantonments and the Balla Hissar,
and of occupying it with a British force, was so far advanced that the
time for the attempt was fixed, and the storming party actually warned,
when some petty objection intervened and the enterprise was abandoned,
never to be revived.

The rising was not three days old when already Elphinstone had lost
heart. On the 5th he had written to Macnaghten suggesting that the latter
should 'consider what chance there is of making terms,' and since then he
had been repeatedly pressing on the Envoy the 'hopelessness of further
resistance.' Macnaghten, vacillating as he was, yet had more pith in his
nature than was left in the debilitated old general. He wrote to
Elphinstone on the 18th recommending, not very strenuously, the policy of
holding out where they were as long as possible, and indeed throughout
the winter, if subsistence could be obtained. He pointed out that in the
cantonments, which he believed to be impregnable, there were at least the
essentials of wood and water. Arguing that a retreat on Jellalabad must
be most disastrous, and was to be avoided except in the last extremity,
he nevertheless ended somewhat inconsistently by leaving to the military
authorities, if in eight or ten days there should appear no prospect of
an improvement of the situation, the decision whether it would be wiser
to attempt a retreat or to withdraw from the cantonments into the Balla

Far from improving, the situation was speedily to become all but
hopeless. The village of Behmaroo, built on the north-eastern slope of
the ridge of the same name bounding the plain on the north-west, lay
about half a mile due north of the cantonments, part of which some of the
houses on the upper slope commanded. From this village, after the loss of
the Commissariat fort, our people had been drawing supplies. On the
morning of the 22d the Afghans were seen moving in force from Cabul
toward Behmaroo, obviously with intent to occupy the village, and so
deprive the occupants of the cantonments of the resource it had been
affording them. A detachment under Major Swayne, sent out to forestall
this occupation, found Behmaroo already in the possession of a body of
Kohistanees, who had so blocked the approaches that Swayne did not
consider himself justified in attempting the fulfilment of his orders to
storm the place; and he contented himself with maintaining all day an
ineffectual musketry fire on it. A diversion in his favour by a gun
supported by cavalry had no result save that of casualties to the gunners
and troopers; reinforcements brought out by Shelton effected nothing, and
in the evening the troops were recalled. On this ill-fated day Akbar
Khan, Dost Mahomed's fierce and implacable son, arrived in Cabul, and the
evil influence on the British fortunes which he exerted immediately made
itself felt, for the events of the following day were to bring about a
crisis in the fate of our ill-starred people.

Recognising the mischief wrought by the hostile occupation of our only
source of supplies, the Envoy strongly urged the immediate despatch of a
strong force to occupy the Behmaroo ridge, and dislodge from the village
its Kohistanee garrison. Shelton opposed the measure, urging the
dispirited state of the troops, their fatigue from constant defensive
duty, and their weakened physique because of poor and scanty rations. He
was overruled, and before daybreak of the 23d a force under his command,
consisting of five companies of the 44th, twelve companies of native
infantry, some cavalry, and one horse-artillery gun, was in position on
the north-eastern extremity of the ridge overhanging the village. The gun
opened fire on the village with grape, and after a short resistance the
greater part of its garrison quitted it. The storming party intrusted to
Major Swayne did not, however, act, and was withdrawn. Leaving a
detachment on the knoll above the village, Shelton moved his force along
the upland to a position near the gorge intersecting the ridge, forming
his infantry into two squares, with the cavalry in rear. The further hill
beyond the gorge was crowded with hostile Afghans from Cabul, and the
long-range fire of their jezails across the dividing depression, carried
execution into the squares which Shelton had inexplicably formed as if to
furnish his foes with a target which they could not miss. The muskets of
his men could not retaliate, and the skirmishers he threw forward to the
brow of his hill could not endure the Afghan fire. Shelton's single gun
maintained a hot and telling fire on the Afghan masses on the opposite
hill, and baulked an attempt against his right flank made by the Afghan
cavalry swarming in the outer plain; but when its vent became too hot for
the gunners to serve it, the dullest comprehension became alive to the
folly of sending a single gun into the field.

Shelton's men, falling fast though they were, and faint with fatigue and
thirst, yet had endured for hours a fusillade to which they could not
reply, when a body of Afghan fanatics suddenly sprang up out of the
gorge, swept back with their fire the few skirmishers who had been still
holding the brow of the hill, and planted their flag within thirty yards
of the front of the nearer of the squares. Shelton offered a large reward
to the man who should bring it in, but there was no response. In a
passion of soldierly wrath, the veteran commanded a bayonet charge; not a
man sprang forward at the summons which British soldiers are wont to
welcome with cheers. The cowed infantry remained supine, when their
officers darted forward and threw stones into the faces of the enemy; the
troopers heard but obeyed not that trumpet-call to 'Charge!' which so
rarely fails to thrill the cavalryman with the rapture of the fray. The
gunners only, men of that noble force the Company's Horse-Artillery,
quitted themselves valiantly. They stood to their piece to the bitter
end. Two of them were killed beside it, another was severely wounded, a
fourth, refusing to run, took refuge under the gun, and miraculously
escaped death. But the gallant example of the artillerymen in their front
did not hearten the infantrymen of the leading square. The panic spread
among them, and they broke and fled. Fortunately they were not pursued.
The rear square stood fast, and the officers by great exertion succeeded
in rallying the fugitives under the cover it afforded. The news that a
principal chief, Abdoolah Khan, had been severely wounded in the plain
gave pause to the offensive vigour of the Afghans, and the assailants
fell back, abandoning the gun, but carrying off the limber and gun-team.
Our people reoccupied the position, the gun recommenced its fire, and if
the cavalry and infantry could have been persuaded to take the offensive
the battle might have been retrieved. But they remained passive. The
reinforced Afghans renewed their long-range fire with terrible effect;
most of the gunners had fallen, and the Brigadier, recognising the
growing unsteadiness of his command and the imminent danger of capture to
which the solitary gun was again exposed, ordered a retirement on the
detachment left near Behmaroo and the limbering up of the gun, to which a
second limber had been sent out from the cantonments. The movement was
scarcely begun when a rush of fanatic Afghans completely broke the
square, and all order and discipline then disappeared. A regular rout set
in down the hill toward cantonments, the fugitives disregarding the
efforts of the officers to rally them, and the enemy in full pursuit, the
Afghan cavalry making ghastly slaughter among the panic-stricken
runaways. The detachment near Behmaroo attempted to fall back in orderly
fashion, but the reinforced garrison of the village swept out upon it,
surrounded it, broke it up, and threw it into utter rout with the loss of
a large proportion of its strength, one whole company being all but
annihilated. It seemed as if pursued and pursuers would enter the
cantonments together so closely were they commingled; but the fire from
the ramparts and an opportune charge of horse arrested the pursuit. Yet
Eyre reckons as the chief reason why all the British force that had gone
out to battle was not destroyed, the fact that a leading Afghan chief
forced his men to spare the fugitives, and ultimately halted and withdrew
his people when the opportunity for wholesale slaughter lay open to them.
Most of the wounded were left on the field, where they were miserably cut
to pieces; and the gun, which had been overturned in the attempt of the
drivers to gallop down the face of the hill, finally passed into the
possession of the Afghans. Shelton's dispositions as a commander could
not well have been worse; his bearing as a soldier, although undaunted,
imparted to his hapless troops nothing of inspiration. The obstinacy with
which he held the hill after the impossibility of even partial success
must have been patent to him, was universally condemned. It need scarcely
be added that his loss was very severe.

No more fighting was possible. What, then, was to be done? Elphinstone
and Shelton were at one in opposing removal into the Balla Hissar.
Macnaghten, to whom Shah Soojah had communicated his urgent
recommendation of that measure as the only expedient which could secure
the safety of the British troops, fell in with the views of the military
authorities. There came to him a letter from Osman Khan, the chief who
had called off his adherents on the previous day from pursuing the
fugitives fleeing into cantonments. Osman wrote that, if his troops had
followed up their successes, the loss of the cantonments and the
destruction of the British force were inevitable; but, he continued, that
it was not the wish of the chiefs to proceed to such extremities, their
sole desire being that our people should quietly evacuate the country,
leaving the Afghan sirdars to govern it according to their own customs,
and with a king of their own choosing. In communicating this letter to
General Elphinstone, Sir William asked for the latter's opinion on the
military possibility, or the reverse, of the retention of the British
position in Afghanistan. Elphinstone, in reply, enumerated sundry reasons
which led him to the conclusion which he stated, that 'it is not feasible
any longer to maintain our position in this country, and that you ought
to avail yourself of the offer to negotiate which has been made to you.'


As the result of the military disaster of November 23d, and of the
representations of the General, recorded in the last chapter, Macnaghten,
with whatever reluctance, permitted himself to entertain proposals for an
arrangement made by the Afghan leaders. From the beginning of the
outbreak, while urging on the military authorities to exert themselves in
putting down the revolt, he had been engaged in tortuous and dangerous
intrigues, with the object of sowing discord among the Afghan chiefs, and
thus weakening the league of hostility against Shah Soojah and his
British supporters. In the conduct of these intrigues he used the
services of Mohun Lal, who had been one of Burnes' assistants, and who,
having escaped the fate of his chief, had found refuge in the city
residence of a Kuzzilbash chief. Mohun Lal was a fitting agent for the
sort of work prescribed to him, and he burrowed and suborned with
assiduity, and not altogether without success. But it is unhappily true
that he was commissioned to carry out a darker enterprise, the removal by
assassination of certain of the more virulently hostile among the Afghan
leaders. The incident is the blackest of the many discreditable
transactions which chequer the inner political history of this melancholy
chapter of our annals. It is unfortunately certain that Lieutenant John
Conolly, Macnaghten's kinsman and his confidential representative with
Shah Soojah, authorised Mohun Lal, in writing, to compass the taking off
of prominent Afghan leaders. In a letter to Mohun Lal, of 5th November,
Conolly wrote: 'I promise 10,000 rupees for the head of each rebel
chief.' Again, on the 11th, he wrote: 'There is a man called Hadji Ali,
who might be induced by a bribe to try and bring in the heads of one or
two of the Mufsids. Endeavour to let him know that 10,000 rupees will be
given for each head, or even 15,000 rupees.' Two chiefs certainly did die
under suspicious circumstances, and in each case the blood-money was
claimed. It was refused by Mohun Lal on the plea that the stipulation
that the heads of the dead Afghans should be brought in was not

Whether Macnaghten inspired those nefarious machinations, whether indeed
he was actively aware of them, are questions which, in the absence of
conclusive evidence, may judiciously be left unanswered. There is extant
a letter from him to Mohun Lal, written December 1st, which has the
following passage: 'I am sorry to find from your letter of last night
that you should have supposed it was ever my object to encourage
assassination. The rebels are very wicked men, but we must not take
unlawful means to destroy them.' And later he is reported to have
informed an Afghan deputation that, 'as a British functionary, nothing
would induce him to pay a price for blood.' Durand holds that it was the
belief on the part of the Afghan chiefs that the British Envoy had set a
price on their heads which destroyed all confidence in Macnaghten's good
faith, and which was Akbar Khan's chief incentive to his murder.

The terms proffered on November 25th by an Afghan deputation were so
humiliating that Macnaghten peremptorily rejected them; and the threat of
immediate hostilities unless our people promptly surrendered their arms
and withdrew was not carried out. A period of inaction strangely ensued,
which on the Afghan side was a treacherous lull, but which Macnaghten,
hoping against hope that some turn in our favour might yet occur,
regarded with complacency. The chiefs, aware that winter was approaching
with added hardship to the forlorn garrison, temporarily desisted from
urging negotiations. But the British military authorities, with troops
living from hand to mouth on precarious half rations, and with transport
cattle dying fast of starvation, kept urging the Envoy to activity in
making terms, if absolute starvation was to be averted. Futile projects
were discussed between Envoy and General, only to be put aside. As the
dreary days of inaction and depletion passed, the deterioration of
military spirit among our people manifested itself more and more plainly.
British soldiers stolidly watched the Afghans destroying our bridge
across the Cabul river, within a quarter of a mile from cantonments.
Scared by the threat of an assault, which, in the scornful words of brave
Lady Sale, a child with a stick might have repulsed, the garrison of the
Mahomed Shereef fort abandoned it in a panic, the white soldiers of the
44th showing the example of pusillanimity to the sepoys whom their
cowardice demoralised. Next day the detachment of the 44th which had
guarded an exposed position had to be withdrawn, ceding the post of
honour to the stauncher sepoys. The camp followers were living on
carrion; the commissaries reported but four days' provisions in store,
and their inability to procure any more supplies. At length on December
8th the four senior military officers informed the Envoy that it was
imperatively necessary he should negotiate a retreat, on the best terms
he could obtain.

Macnaghten had to bring himself to recognise that the alternatives were
negotiation or starvation, and on the 11th December, with a draft treaty
in his hand, he met the principal Afghan chiefs on the river side between
the cantonments and the city. After the introductory palavers, Macnaghten
read the proposed treaty, whose purport was as follows: that the British
should evacuate Afghanistan forthwith unmolested, furnished with supplies
and accompanied by hostages, on their march to India; that the Dost, his
family, and other Afghan political exiles, should be allowed to return to
their country; that Shah Soojah should have the option of remaining at
Cabul or going down to India; that amnesty should be accorded to all
adherents of Shah Soojah and his British allies; that all prisoners
should be released; and that perpetual friendship and mutual good offices
should thenceforth endure between the British and the Afghans.

Akbar Khan made demur to some of the provisions, but was overruled, and
the main stipulations of the treaty were agreed to by the chiefs. The
conference broke up with the understanding that the British troops should
evacuate cantonments within three days, and that meanwhile provisions
should be sent in for their use. The treaty was simply a virtual
capitulation all along the line; but the inherent falseness of our
position, the incapacity of the military chiefs, and the debased spirit
of the troops, consequent partly on low rations but mainly because of the
utter absence of competent and vigorous leadership such as a Broadfoot or
a Havelock would have supplied, enforced on the reluctant Envoy
conditions humiliating beyond previous parallel in the history of our

From the outset the Afghan chiefs defaulted from their promise of sending
in supplies, but some grain was brought into cantonments by the troops,
whose evacuation of the Balla Hissar on the 13th was effected under
humiliating circumstances. The Afghans demanded the surrender of the
forts in British occupation in the vicinity of the cantonments. The
requisition was complied with, and the Magazine fort furnished the enemy
with both arms and ammunition.

The three stipulated days passed away, and still the British force
remained motionless in the cantonments. Macnaghten was bent on
procrastination, and circumstances seemed to favour a policy which to all
but himself was inexplicable. By the treaty, Shah Soojah was in effect
committed to withdraw to India, but soon after its acceptance the chiefs
had invited him to remain in Cabul as king, on the stipulation that he
should give his daughters in marriage to leaders of the malcontents.
After considerable deliberation, the Shah had consented to remain on the
condition named, but a few days later he withdrew his acceptance. His
vacillation increased the suspicions of the chiefs, and they demanded the
immediate evacuation of the cantonments, refusing to furnish provisions
until that was done. Meanwhile they sent in no transport animals,
although large sums had been handed over for their purchase. Our people
were still immobile, and already, on the 18th, there had occurred a fall
of snow several inches deep.

The Envoy was engaged in strange and dubious intrigues, and since the
Afghans were not fulfilling their share of the treaty obligations, he
appears to have regarded himself as no longer bound by its conditions,
and free to try to obtain better terms from other sources, in pursuit of
which purpose he was expending money in a variety of directions. The dark
and unscrupulous Mohun Lal was his confidant and instrument. Akbar Khan
and the chiefs of his party had become aware of Macnaghten's
machinations, and they laid a snare for him into which he fell with open
eyes. Emissaries were sent to him with the sinister proposals that the
British should remain in Afghanistan until the spring, when they were to
withdraw as of their own accord; that the head of Ameenoolla Khan, one of
the most powerful and obnoxious of the rebel leaders, should be presented
to the Envoy in return for a stipulated sum of money; and that for all
those services the British Government should requite Akbar Khan with a
present of thirty lakhs of rupees, and an annual pension of four lakhs.
Macnaghten refused peremptorily the proffer of Ameenoolla's head, but did
not reject co-operation in that chiefs capture by a dubious device in
which British troops were to participate; he did not hesitate to accept
the general terms of the proposals; and he consented to hold a conference
with Akbar Khan on the following day to carry into effect the projected

On the morning of the 23d the deceived and doomed man, accompanied by his
staff-officers, Lawrence, Trevor and Mackenzie, rode out from cantonments
to keep the fateful tryst on the bank of the Cabul river. His manner was
'distracted and hurried.' When he told Lawrence of the nature of the
affair on which he was going, that shrewd officer immediately warned him
that it was a plot against him. 'A plot!' he replied hastily, 'let me
alone for that; trust me for that!' and Lawrence desisted from useless
expostulation. Poor old Elphinstone had scented treachery; but the Envoy
had closed his mouth with the impatient words: 'I understand these things
better than you!' As he rode out, he admitted the danger of the
enterprise, but argued that if it succeeded it was worth all risks. 'At
all events,' he ended, 'let the loss be what it may, I would rather die a
hundred deaths than live the last six weeks over again.' The escort
halted, and the four British gentlemen advanced to the place of
rendezvous, whither came presently Akbar Khan and his party. Akbar began
the conference by asking the Envoy if he was ready to carry out the
proposals presented to him overnight. 'Why not?' was Sir William's short
reply. A number of Afghans, armed to the teeth, had gradually formed a
circle around the informal durbar. Lawrence and Mackenzie pointed out
this environment to some of the chiefs, who affected to drive off the
intruders with their whips; but Akbar observed that it did not matter, as
they 'were all in the secret.' 'Suddenly,' wrote Mackenzie, 'I heard
Akbar call out, "Begeer! begeer!" ("Seize! seize!") and turning round I
saw him grasp the Envoy's left hand with an expression on his face of the
most diabolical ferocity. I think it was Sultan Jan who laid hold of the
Envoy's right hand. They dragged him in a stooping posture down the
hillock, the only words I heard poor Sir William utter being, "Az barae
Khooda" ("For God's sake"). I saw his face, however, and it was full of
horror and astonishment.' Neither Mackenzie nor Lawrence, the surviving
companions of the Envoy, witnessed the actual end. 'Whether,' writes
Kaye, 'he died on the spot, or whether he was slain by the infuriated
ghazees, is not very clearly known; but the fanatics threw themselves on
the prostrate body and hacked it with their knives.' There is no doubt
that the head of the unfortunate Macnaghten was paraded in triumph
through the streets of Cabul, and that the mangled trunk, after being
dragged about the city, was hung up in the great bazaar. Of the three
officers who accompanied the Envoy to the conference, Trevor was
massacred, Lawrence and Mackenzie were saved with difficulty by friendly
chiefs, and brought into the city, where they and Captain Skinner joined
the hostages, Captains Connolly and Airey, under the safe roof of the
venerable Mahomed Zemaun Khan.

That Akbar and the confederate chiefs spread a snare for the Envoy is
plain, and that they regarded his acceptance of their deceitful proposals
as a proof of his faithlessness to the treaty obligations to which he had
bound himself. It was no element in their reasoning that since they had
not regarded the treaty the British functionary might without breach of
faith hold that it did not bind him. But it is improbable that the murder
of Macnaghten was actually included in their scheme of action. Their
intention seems to have been to seize him as a hostage, with intent thus
to secure the evacuation of Afghanistan and the restoration of Dost
Mahomed. The ill-fated Envoy's expressions on his way to the rendezvous
indicate his unhinged state of mind. He went forth to sure treachery;
Akbar's gust of sudden fury converted the planned abduction into savage
murder, and his abrupt pistol bullet baulked the more wily and less
ruthless project which had probably been devised in cold blood.

The escort brought back into cantonments tidings that the Envoy had been
seized. The garrison got under arms, and remained passive throughout the
day. The defences were manned at night, in the apprehension that the
noise and disturbance in the city portended an assault; but that clamour
was caused by the mustering of the Afghans in expectation that the
British would attack the city, bent on vengeance on the murderers of the
Envoy. Action of that nature was, however, wholly absent from the
prostrate minds of the military chiefs. On the following afternoon
Captain Lawrence transmitted certain overtures from the chiefs, as the
result of a conference held by them, when, notwithstanding severe
comments on the conduct of the Envoy, professions were made of sincere
regret for his death. With certain alterations and additions, the treaty
drawn up by Macnaghten was taken by the chiefs as the basis for the
negotiations which they desired to renew. Major Pottinger, as now the
senior 'political' with the force, was called on by General Elphinstone
to undertake the task of conducting negotiations with the Afghan leaders.
The high-souled Pottinger rose at the summons from the sickbed to which
he had been confined ever since his wonderful escape from Charikar, and
accepted the thankless and distasteful duty. It is not necessary to
recount the details of negotiations, every article and every stage of
which display the arrogance of the men who knew themselves masters of the
situation, and reveal not less the degrading humiliation to which was
submitting itself a strong brigade of British troops, whose arms were
still in the soldiers' hands, and over whose ranks hung banners blazoned
with victories that shall be memorable down the ages. On the sombre and
cheerless Christmas Day Pottinger rose in the council of men who wore
swords, and remonstrated with soldierly vigour and powerful argument
against the degrading terms which the chiefs had contumeliously thrown to
them. He produced letters from Jellalabad and Peshawur giving information
of reinforcements on the way from India, and urging the maintenance of
resistance. He argued that to conclude a treaty with the Afghans would be
a fatal error, and suggested two alternative courses which offered a
prospect of saving their honour and part of the army--the occupation of
the Balla Hissar, which was the preferable measure, or the abandonment of
camp, baggage, and encumbrances, and forcing a retreat down the passes.
The council--Pottinger must have written sarcastically when he termed it
a 'council of war'--unanimously decided that to remain in Cabul and to
force a retreat were alike impracticable, and that nothing remained but
the endeavour to release the army by agreeing to the conditions offered
by the enemy. 'Under these circumstances,' in the words of Pottinger, 'as
the Major-General coincided with the officers of the council, and refused
to attempt occupying the Balla Hissar, and as his second in command
declared that impracticable, I considered it my duty, notwithstanding my
repugnance to and disapproval of the measure, to yield, and attempt to
carry on a negotiation.'

This Pottinger accordingly did. The first demand with which he had to
comply was to give bills for the great sums promised by the Envoy to the
chiefs for their services in furthering and supporting his treaty. This
imposition had to be submitted to, since the Afghans stopped the supplies
until the extortion was complied with. The next concession required was
the surrender of the artillery of the force, with the exception of six
field and three mule guns; and the military chiefs endured this
humiliation, against which even the demoralised soldiery chafed. Then the
demand for hostages had to be complied with, and four officers were sent
on to join the two hostages already in Afghan hands. The chiefs had
demanded four married hostages, with their wives and children, and a
circular was sent round offering to volunteers the inducement of a large
stipend; but the sentiment of repulsion was too strong to be overcome by
the bribe. The sick and wounded who could not bear the march were sent
into the city in accordance with an article of the treaty, two surgeons
accompanying their patients.

The treaty, ratified by the leading chiefs and sent into cantonments on
New Year's Day 1842, provided that the British troops, within twenty-four
hours after receiving transport, and under the protection of certain
chiefs and an adequate escort, should begin their march of evacuation,
the Jellalabad garrison moving down to Peshawur in advance; that the six
hostages left in Cabul should be well treated, and liberated on the
arrival at Peshawur of Dost Mahomed; the sick and wounded left behind to
be at liberty to return to India on their recovery; all small arms and
ordnance stores in the cantonment magazine to be made over to the Afghans
'as a token of friendship,' on which account also, they were to have all
the British cannon except as above mentioned; the Afghans to escort the
Ghuznee garrison in safety to Peshawur; and a further stipulation was
that the British troops in Candahar and Western Afghanistan were to
resign the territories occupied by them and start quickly for India,
provisioned and protected from molestation by the way.

Severe and humiliating as were those terms, they were not obtained
without difficulty. The terms put forward in the earlier drafts of the
treaty were yet more exacting, and the tone of the demands was abrupt,
contemptuous, and insulting. Pottinger had to plead, to entreat, to be
abject; to beg the masterful Afghans 'not to overpower the weak with
sufferings'; 'to be good enough to excuse the women from the suffering'
of remaining as hostages; and to entreat them 'not to forget kindness'
shown by us in former days. One blushes not for but with the gallant
Pottinger, loyally carrying out the miserable duty put upon him. The
shame was not his; it lay on the council of superior officers, who
overruled his remonstrances, and ground his face into the dust.

Our people were made to pass under the yoke every hour of their wretched
lives during those last winter days in the Cabul cantonments. The
fanatics and the common folk of the city and its environs swarmed around
our petty ramparts, with their foul sneers and their blackguard taunts,
hurled with impunity from where they stood at the muzzles of the loaded
guns which the gunners were forbidden to fire. Officers and rank and file
were in a condition of smouldering fury, but no act of reprisal or
retribution was permitted. If the present was one continuous misery, the
future lowered yet more gloomily. It was of common knowledge as well in
the cantonments as in the city, that the engagements made by the chiefs
were not worth the paper on which they had been written, and that
treachery was being concerted against the force on its impending travail
through the passes. It was told by a chief to one of the officers who was
his friend, that Akbar Khan had sworn to have in his possession the
British ladies as security for the safe restoration of his own family and
relatives, and, strange forecast to be fulfilled almost to the very
letter, had vowed to annihilate every soldier of the British army with
the exception of one man, who should reach Jellalabad to tell the story
of the massacre of all his comrades. Pottinger was well aware how
desperate was the situation of the hapless people on whose behalf he had
bent so low his proud soul. Mohun Lal warned him of the treachery the
chiefs were plotting, and assured him that unless their sons should
accompany the army as hostages, it would be attacked on the march. Day
after day the departure was delayed, on the pretext that the chiefs had
not completed their preparations for the safe conduct of the force and
its encumbrances. Day after day the snow was falling with a quiet,
ruthless persistency. The bitter night frosts were destroying the sepoys
and the camp followers, their vitality weakened by semi-starvation and by
the lack of firewood which had long distressed them. At length on January
5th, Sturt the engineer officer got his instructions to throw down into
the ditch a section of the eastern rampart, and so furnish a freer exit
than the gates could afford. The supply of transport was inadequate,
provisions were scant, and the escort promised by the chiefs was not
forthcoming. Pottinger advised waiting yet a little longer, until
supplies and escort should arrive; but for once the military chiefs were
set against the policy of delay, and firm orders were issued that the
cantonments should be evacuated on the following day.

Shah Soojah remained in Cabul. The resolution became him better than
anything else we know of the unfortunate man. It may be he reasoned that
he had a chance for life by remaining in the Balla Hissar, and that from
what he knew, there was no chance of life for anyone participating in the
fateful march. He behaved fairly by the British authorities, sending more
than one solemn warning pressing on them the occupation of the Balla
Hissar. And there was some dignity in his appeal to Brigadier Anquetil,
who commanded his own contingent, 'if it were well to forsake him in the
hour of need, and to deprive him of the aid of that force which he had
hitherto been taught to regard as his own?'


The ill-omened evacuation by our doomed people of the cantonments wherein
for two months they had undergone every extremity of humiliation and
contumely, was begun on the dreary winter morning of January 6th, 1842.
Snow lay deep on plain and hill-side; the cruel cold, penetrating through
the warmest clothing, bit fiercely into the debilitated and thinly clad
frames of the sepoys and the great horde of camp followers. The military
force which marched out of cantonments consisted of about 4500 armed men,
of whom about 690 were Europeans, 2840 native soldiers on foot, and 970
native cavalrymen. The gallant troop of Company's Horse-Artillery marched
out with its full complement of six guns, to which, with three pieces of
the mountain train, the artillery arm of the departing force was
restricted by the degrading terms imposed by the Afghan chiefs. In good
heart and resolutely commanded, a body of disciplined troops thus
constituted, and of a fighting strength so respectable, might have been
trusted not only to hold its own against Afghan onslaught, but if
necessary to take the offensive with success. But alas, the heart of the
hapless force had gone to water, its discipline was a wreck, its chiefs
were feeble and apathetic; its steps were dogged by the incubus of some
12,000 camp followers, with a great company of women and children. The
awful fate brooded over its forlorn banners of expiating by its utter
annihilation, the wretched folly and sinister prosecution of the
enterprise whose deserved failure was to be branded yet deeper on the
gloomiest page of our national history, by the impending catastrophe of
which the dark shadow already lay upon the blighted column.

The advance began to move out from cantonments at nine A.M. The march was
delayed at the river by the non-completion of the temporary bridge, and
the whole of the advance was not across until after noon. The main body
under Shelton, which was accompanied by the ladies, invalids, and sick,
slowly followed. It as well as the advance was disorganised from the
first by the throngs of camp followers with the baggage, who could not be
prevented from mixing themselves up with the troops. The Afghans occupied
the cantonments as portion after portion was evacuated by our people,
rending the air with their exulting cries, and committing every kind of
atrocity. It was late in the afternoon before the long train of camels
following the main body had cleared the cantonments; and meanwhile the
rear-guard was massed outside, in the space between the rampart and the
canal, among the chaos of already abandoned baggage. It was exposed there
to a vicious jezail fire poured into it by the Afghans, who abandoned the
pleasures of plunder and arson for the yet greater joy of slaughtering
the Feringhees. When the rear-guard moved away in the twilight, an
officer and fifty men were left dead in the snow, the victims of the
Afghan fire from the rampart of the cantonment; and owing to casualties
in the gun teams it had been found necessary to spike and abandon two of
the horse-artillery guns.

The rear-guard, cut into from behind by the pestilent ghazees, found its
route encumbered with heaps of abandoned baggage around which swarmed
Afghan plunderers. Other Afghans, greedier for blood than for booty, were
hacking and slaying among the numberless sepoys and camp followers who
had dropped out of the column, and were lying or sitting on the wayside
in apathetic despair, waiting for death and careless whether it came to
them by knife or by cold. Babes lay on the snow abandoned by their
mothers, themselves prostrate and dying a few hundred yards further on.
It was not until two o'clock of the following morning that the rear-guard
reached the straggling and chaotic bivouac in which its comrades lay in
the snow at the end of the first short march of six miles. Its weary
progress had been illuminated by the conflagration raging in the
cantonments, which had been fired by the Afghan fanatics, rabid to erase
every relic of the detested unbelievers.

It was a night of bitter cold. Out in the open among the snow, soldiers
and camp followers, foodless, fireless, and shelterless, froze to death
in numbers, and numbers more were frost-bitten. The cheery morning noise
of ordinary camp life was unheard in the mournful bivouac. Captain
Lawrence outlines a melancholy picture. 'The silence of the men betrayed
their despair and torpor. In the morning I found lying close to me,
stiff, cold, and quite dead, in full regimentals, with his sword drawn in
his hand, an old grey-haired conductor named Macgregor, who, utterly
exhausted, had lain down there silently to die.' Already defection had
set in. One of the Shah's infantry regiments and his detachment of
sappers and miners had deserted bodily, partly during the march of the
previous day, partly in the course of the night.

No orders were given out, no bugle sounded the march, on the morning of
the 7th. The column heaved itself forward sluggishly, a mere mob of
soldiers, camp followers and cattle, destitute of any semblance of order
or discipline. Quite half the sepoys were already unfit for duty; in
hundreds they drifted in among the non-combatants and increased the
confusion. The advance of the previous day was now the rear-guard. After
plundering the abandoned baggage, the Afghans set to harassing the
rear-guard, whose progress was delayed by the disorderly multitude
blocking the road in front. The three mountain guns, temporarily
separated from the infantry, were captured by a sudden Afghan rush. In
vain Anquetil strove to rouse the 44th to make an effort for their
recapture. Green was more successful with his handful of artillerymen,
who followed him and the Brigadier and spiked the pieces, but being
unsupported were compelled a second time to abandon them. On this march
it became necessary also, from the exhaustion of their teams, to spike
and abandon two more of the horse-artillery guns; so that there now
remained with the force only a couple of six-pounders. While the
rear-guard was in action, a body of Afghan horse charged on the flank,
right into the heart of the baggage column, swept away much plunder, and
spread confusion and dismay far and wide. The rear of the column would
probably have been entirely cut off, but that reinforcements from the
advance under Shelton pushed back the enemy, and by crowning the lateral
heights kept open the thoroughfare. At Bootkhak was found Akbar Khan, who
professed to have been commissioned to escort the force to Jellalabad,
and who blamed our people for having marched out prematurely from the
cantonments. He insisted on the halt of the column at Bootkhak until the
following morning, when he would provide supplies, but he demanded an
immediate subsidy of 15,000 rupees, and that Pottinger, Lawrence and
Mackenzie should be given up to him as hostages that the force would not
march beyond Tezeen until tidings should arrive that Sale had evacuated
Jellalabad. Those officers by the General's instructions joined the
Afghan chief on the following morning, and Akbar's financial requisition
was obsequiously fulfilled. After two days' marching our people, who had
brought out with them provisions for but five and a half days, expecting
within that time to reach Jellalabad, were only ten miles forward on
their march.

Another night passed, with its train of horrors--starvation, cold,
exhaustion, death. Lady Sale relates that scarcely any of the baggage now
remained; that there was no food for man or beast; that snow lay a foot
deep on the ground; that even water from the adjacent stream was
difficult to obtain, as the carriers were fired on in fetching it; and
that she thought herself fortunate in being sheltered in a small tent in
which 'we slept nine, all touching each other.' Daylight brought merely a
more bitter realisation of utter misery. Eyre expresses his wonderment at
the effect of two nights' exposure to the frost in disorganising the
force. 'It had so nipped even the strongest men as to completely
prostrate their powers and incapacitate them for service; even the
cavalry, who suffered less than the rest, were obliged to be lifted on
their horses.' In fact, only a few hundred serviceable men remained. At
the sound of hostile fire the living struggled to their feet from their
lairs in the snow, stiffened with cold, all but unable to move or hold a
weapon, leaving many of their more fortunate comrades stark in death. A
turmoil of confusion reigned. The Afghans were firing into the rear of
the mass, and there was a wild rush of camp followers to the front, who
stripped the baggage cattle of their loads and carried the animals off,
leaving the ground strewn with ammunition, treasure, plate, and other
property. The ladies were no longer carried in litters and palanquins,
for their bearers were mostly dead; they sat in the bullet fire packed
into panniers slung on camels, invalids as some of them were--one poor
lady with her baby only five days old. Mess stores were being recklessly
distributed, and Lady Sale honestly acknowledges that, as she sat on her
horse in the cold, she felt very grateful for a tumbler of sherry, which
at any other time would have made her 'very unladylike,' but which now
merely warmed her. Cups full of sherry were drunk by young children
without in the least affecting their heads, so strong on them was the
hold of the cold.

It was not until noon that the living mass of men and animals was once
more in motion. The troops were in utter disorganisation; the baggage was
mixed up with the advance guard; the camp followers were pushing ahead in
precipitate panic. The task before the wretched congeries of people was
to thread the stupendous gorge of the Khoord Cabul pass--a defile about
five miles long, hemmed in on either hand by steeply scarped hills. Down
the bottom of the ravine dashed a mountain torrent, whose edges were
lined with thick layers of ice, on which had formed glacier-like masses
of snow. The 'Jaws of Death' were barely entered when the slaughter
began. With the advance rode several Afghan chiefs, whose followers, by
their command, shouted to the Ghilzais lining the heights to hold their
fire, but the tribesmen gave no heed to the mandate. Lady Sale rode with
the chiefs. The Ghilzai fire at fifty yards was close and deadly. The men
of the advance fell fast. Lady Sale had a bullet in her arm, and three
more through her dress. But the weight of the hostile fire fell on the
main column, the baggage escort, and the rear-guard. Some of the ladies,
who mostly were on camels which were led with the column, had strange
adventures. On one camel was quite a group. In one of its panniers were
Mrs Boyd and her little son, in the other Mrs Mainwaring, with her own
infant and Mrs Anderson's eldest child. The camel fell, shot. A
Hindustanee trooper took up Mrs Boyd _en croupe_, and carried her through
in safety; another horseman behind whom her son rode, was killed, and the
boy fell into Afghan hands. The Anderson girl shared the same fate. Mrs
Mainwaring, with her baby in her arms, attempted to mount a baggage pony,
but the load upset, and she pursued her way on foot. An Afghan horseman
rode at her, threatened her with his sword, and tried to drag away the
shawl in which she carried her child. She was rescued by a sepoy
grenadier, who shot the Afghan dead, and then conducted the poor lady
along the pass through the dead and dying, through, also, the close fire
which struck down people near to her, almost to the exit of the pass,
when a bullet killed the chivalrous sepoy, and Mrs Mainwaring had to
continue her tramp to the bivouac alone.

A very fierce attack was made on the rear-guard, consisting of the 44th.
In the narrow throat of the pass the regiment was compelled to halt by a
block in front, and in this stationary position suffered severely. A
flanking fire told heavily on the handful of European infantry. The
belated stragglers masked their fire, and at length the soldiers fell
back, firing volleys indiscriminately into the stragglers and the
Afghans. Near the exit of the pass a commanding position was maintained
by some detachments which still held together, strengthened by the only
gun now remaining, the last but one having been abandoned in the gorge.
Under cover of this stand the rear of the mass gradually drifted forward
while the Afghan pursuit was checked, and at length all the surviving
force reached the camping ground. There had been left dead in the pass
about 500 soldiers and over 2500 camp followers.

Akbar and the chiefs, taking the hostages with them, rode forward on the
track of the retreating force. Akbar professed that his object was to
stop the firing, but Mackenzie writes that Pottinger said to him:
'Mackenzie, remember if I am killed that I heard Akbar Khan shout "Slay
them!" in Pushtoo, although in Persian he called out to stop the firing.'
The hostages had to be hidden away from the ferocious ghazees among rocks
in the ravine until near evening, when in passing through the region of
the heaviest slaughter they 'came upon one sight of horror after another.
All the bodies were stripped. There were children cut in two. Hindustanee
women as well as men--some frozen to death, some literally chopped to
pieces, many with their throats cut from ear to ear.'

Snow fell all night on the unfortunates gathered tentless on the Khoord
Cabul camping ground. On the morning of the 9th the confused and
disorderly march was resumed, but after a mile had been traversed a halt
for the day was ordered at the instance of Akbar Khan, who sent into camp
by Captain Skinner a proposal that the ladies and children, with whose
deplorable condition he professed with apparent sincerity to sympathise,
should be made over to his protection, and that the married officers
should accompany their wives; he pledging himself to preserve the party
from further hardships and dangers, and afford its members safe escort
through the passes in rear of the force. The General had little faith in
the Sirdar, but he was fain to give his consent to an arrangement which
promised alleviation to the wretchedness of the ladies, scarce any of
whom had tasted a meal since leaving Cabul. Some, still weak from
childbirth, were nursing infants only a few days old; other poor
creatures were momentarily apprehending the pangs of motherhood. There
were invalids whose only attire, as they rode in the camel panniers or
shivered on the snow, was the nightdresses they wore when leaving the
cantonments in their palanquins, and none possessed anything save the
clothes on their backs. It is not surprising, then, that dark and
doubtful as was the future to which they were consigning themselves, the
ladies preferred its risks and chances to the awful certainties which lay
before the doomed column. The Afghan chief had cunningly made it a
condition of his proffer that the husbands should accompany their wives,
and if there was a struggle in the breasts of the former between public
and private duties, the General humanely decided the issue by ordering
them to share the fortunes of their families.

Akbar Khan sent in no supplies, and the march was resumed on the morning
of the both by a force attenuated by starvation, cold, and despair,
diminished further by extensive desertion. After much exertion the
advance, consisting of all that remained of the 44th, the solitary gun,
and a detachment of cavalry, forced a passage to the front through the
rabble of camp followers, and marched unmolested for about two miles
until the Tunghee Tariki was reached, a deep gorge not more than ten feet
wide. Men fell fast in the horrid defile, struck down by the Afghan fire
from the heights; but the pass, if narrow, was short, and the advance
having struggled through it moved on to the halting-place at
Kubbar-i-Jubbar, and waited there for the arrival of the main body. But
that body was never to emerge from out the shambles in the narrow throat
of the Tunghee Tariki. The advance was to learn from the few stragglers
who reached it the ghastly truth that it now was all that remained of the
strong brigade which four days before had marched out from the Cabul
cantonments. The slaughter from the Afghan fire had blocked the gorge
with dead and dying. The Ghilzai tribesmen, at the turn into the pen at
the other end of which was the blocked gorge, had closed up fiercely.
Then the steep slopes suddenly swarmed with Afghans rushing sword in hand
down to the work of butchery, and the massacre stinted not while living
victims remained. The rear-guard regiment of sepoys was exterminated,
save for two or three desperately wounded officers who contrived to reach
the advance.

The remnant of the army consisted now of about seventy files of the 44th,
about 100 troopers, and a detachment of horse-artillery with a single
gun. The General sent to Akbar Khan to remonstrate with him on the attack
he had allowed to be made after having guaranteed that the force should
meet with no further molestation. Akbar protested his regret, and pleaded
his inability to control the wild Ghilzai hillmen, over whom, in their
lust for blood and plunder, their own chiefs had lost all control; but he
was willing to guarantee the safe conduct to Jellalabad of the European
officers and men if they would lay down their arms and commit themselves
wholly into his hands. This sinister proposal the General refused, and
the march was continued, led in disorder by the remnant of the camp
followers. In the steep descent from the Huft Kotul into the Tezeen
ravine, the soldiers following the rabble at some distance, came suddenly
on a fresh butchery. The Afghans had suddenly fallen on the confused
throng, and the descent was covered with dead and dying.

During the march from Kubbar-i-Jubbar to the Tezeen valley Shelton's
dogged valour had mainly saved the force from destruction. With a few
staunch soldiers of his own regiment, the one-armed veteran, restored now
to his proper _métier_ of stubborn fighting man, had covered the rear and
repelled the Ghilzai assaults with persevering energy and dauntless
fortitude. And he it was who now suggested, since Akbar Khan still held
to his stipulation that the force should lay down its arms, that a
resolute effort should be made to press on to Jugdulluk by a rapid night
march of four-and-twenty miles, in the hope of clearing the passes in
that vicinity before the enemy should have time to occupy them.

That the attempt would prove successful was doubtful, since the force was
already exhausted; but it was the last chance, and Shelton's suggestion
was adopted. In the early moonlight the march silently began, an ill omen
marking the start in the shape of the forced abandonment of the last gun.
Fatal delay occurred between Seh Baba and Kutti Sung because of a panic
among the camp followers, who, scared by a few shots, drifted backwards
and forwards in a mass, retarding the progress of the column and for the
time entirely arresting the advance of Shelton's and his rear-guard. The
force could not close up until the morning, ten miles short of Jugdulluk,
and already the Afghans were swarming on every adjacent height. All the
way down the broken slope to Jugdulluk the little column trudged through
the gauntlet of jezail fire which lined the road with dead and wounded.
Shelton and his rear-guard handful performed wonders, again and again
fending off with close fire and levelled bayonets the fierce rushes of
Ghilzais charging sword in hand. The harassed advance reached Jugdulluk
in the afternoon of the 11th, and took post behind some ruins on a height
by the roadside, the surviving officers forming line in support of the
gallant rear-guard struggling forward through its environment of
assailants. As Shelton and his brave fellows burst through the cordon
they were greeted by cheers from the knoll. But there was no rest for the
exhausted people, for the Afghans promptly occupied commanding positions
whence they maintained a fire from which the ruins afforded but scant
protection. To men parched with thirst the stream at the foot of their
knoll was but a tantalising aggravation, for to attempt to reach it was
certain death. The snow they devoured only increased their sufferings,
and but little stay was afforded by the raw flesh of a few gun bullocks.
Throughout the day volley after volley was poured down upon the weary
band by the inexorable enemy. Frequent sallies were made, and the heights
were cleared, but the positions were soon reoccupied and the ruthless
fire was renewed.

Captain Skinner, summoned by Akbar, brought back a message that General
Elphinstone should visit him to take part in a conference, and that
Brigadier Shelton and Captain Johnson should be given over as hostages
for the evacuation of Jellalabad. Compliance was held to be imperative,
and the temporary command was entrusted to Brigadier Anquetil. Akbar was
extremely hospitable to his compulsory guests; but he insisted on
including the General among his hostages, and was not moved by
Elphinstone's representations that he would prefer death to the disgrace
of being separated from his command in its time of peril. The Ghilzai
chiefs came into conference burning with hatred against the British, and
revelling in the anticipated delights of slaughtering them. Akbar seemed
sincere in his effort to conciliate them, but was long unsuccessful.
Their hatred seemed indeed stronger than their greed; but at length
toward nightfall Akbar announced that pacific arrangements had been
accepted by the tribes, and that what remained of the force should be
allowed to march unmolested to Jellalabad.

How futile was the compact, if indeed there was any compact, was soon
revealed. The day among the ruins on the knoll had passed in dark and
cruel suspense--in hunger, thirst, and exhaustion, in the presence of
frequent death; and as the evening fell, in anguish and all but utter
despair. As darkness set in the conviction enforced itself that to remain
longer in the accursed place was madness; and the little band, leaving
behind perforce the sick and wounded, marched out, resolute to push
through or die fighting. In the valley the only molestation at first was
a desultory fire from the camping Ghilzais, who were rather taken by
surprise, but soon became wide awake to their opportunities. Some hurried
forward to occupy the pass rising from the valley to the Jugdulluk crest;
others, hanging on the rear and flanks of the column encumbered with its
fatal incubus of camp followers, mixed among the unarmed throng with
their deadly knives, and killed and plundered with the dexterity of long
practice. Throughout the tedious march up the steeply rising defile a
spattering fire came from the rocks and ridges flanking the track, all
but blocked by the surging concourse of miserable followers. The advance
had to employ cruel measures to force its way through the chaos toward
the crest. As it is approached from the Jugdulluk direction the flanking
elevations recede and merge in the transverse ridge, which is crowned by
a low-cut abrupt rocky upheaval, worn down somewhat where the road passes
over the crest by the friction of traffic. Just here the tribesmen had
constructed a formidable abattis of prickly brushwood, which stretched
athwart the road, and dammed back the fugitives in the shallow oval basin
between the termination of the ravine and the summit of the ridge. In
this trap were caught our hapless people and the swarm of their native
followers, and now the end was very near. From behind the barrier, and
around the lip of the great trap, the hillmen fired their hardest into
the seething mass of soldiers and followers writhing in the awful Gehenna
on which the calm moon shone down. On the edges of this whirlpool of
death the fell Ghilzais were stabbing and hacking with the ferocious
industry inspired by thirst for blood and lust for plunder. It is among
the characteristics of our diverse-natured race to die game, and even to
thrill with a strange fierce joy when hope of escape from death has all
but passed away and there remains only to sell life at the highest
possible premium of exchange. Among our people, face to face with death
on the rocky Jugdulluk, officers and soldiers alike fought with cool
deadly rancour. The brigadier and the private engaged in the same fierce
_mêlée_, fought side by side, and fell side by side. Stalwart Captain
Dodgin of the 44th slew five Afghans before he fell. Captain Nicholl of
the horse-artillery, gunless now, rallied to him the few staunch gunners
who were all that remained to him of his noble and historic troop, and
led them on to share with him a heroic death.

All did not perish on the rugged summit of the Jugdulluk. The barrier was
finally broken through, and a scant remnant of the force wrought out its
escape from the slaughter-pit. Small detachments, harassed by sudden
onslaughts, and delayed by reluctance to desert wounded comrades, were
trudging in the darkness down the long slope to the Soorkhab. The morning
of the 13th dawned near Gundamuk on the straggling group of some twenty
officers and forty-five European soldiers. Its march arrested by sharp
attacks, the little band moved aside to occupy a defensive position on an
adjacent hillock. A local sirdar invited the senior officer to consult
with him as to a pacific arrangement, and while Major Griffiths was
absent on this errand there was a temporary suspension of hostilities.
The Afghans meanwhile swarmed around the detachment with a pretence of
friendship, but presently attempts were made to snatch from the soldiers
their arms. This conduct was sternly resented, and the Afghans were
forced back. They ascended an adjacent elevation and set themselves to
the work of deliberately picking off officer after officer, man after
man. The few rounds remaining in the pouches of the soldiers were soon
exhausted, but the detachment stood fast, and calmly awaited the
inevitable end. Rush after rush was driven back from its steadfast front,
but at last, nearly all being killed or wounded, a final onset of the
enemy, sword in hand, terminated the struggle, and completed the dismal
tragedy. Captain Souter of the 44th, with three or four privates all of
whom as well as himself were wounded, was spared and carried into
captivity; he saved the colours of his regiment, which he had tied round
his waist before leaving Jugdulluk. A group of mounted officers had
pushed forward as soon as they had cleared the barrier on the crest. Six
only reached Futtehabad in safety. There they were treacherously offered
food, and while they halted a few moments to eat two were cut down. Of
the four who rode away three were overtaken and killed within four miles
of Jellalabad; one officer alone survived to reach that haven of refuge.

The ladies, the married officers, and the original hostages, followed
Akbar Khan down the passes toward Jugdulluk, pursuing the line of retreat
strewn with its ghastly tokens of slaughter, and recognising almost at
every step the bodies of friends and comrades. At Jugdulluk they found
General Elphinstone, Brigadier Shelton, and Captain Johnson, and learned
the fate which had overtaken the marching force. On the following day
Akbar quitted Jugdulluk with his hostages and the ladies, all of whom
were virtually prisoners, and rode away through the mountains in a
northerly direction. On the fourth day the fort of Budiabad in the
Lughman valley was reached, where Akbar left the prisoners while he went
to attempt the reduction of Jellalabad.


Sale's brigade, retreating from Gundamuk, reached Jellalabad on the 12th
November 1841. An investigation into the state of the fortifications of
that place showed them, in their existing condition, to be incapable of
resisting a vigorous assault. But it was resolved to occupy the place,
and to Captain George Broadfoot, as garrison engineer, was committed the
duty of making it defensible. This assuredly was no light task. The
enciente was far too extensive for the slender garrison, and its tracing
was radically bad. The ramparts were so dilapidated that in places they
were scarcely discernible, and the ruins strewn over what should have
been the glacis afforded near cover to assailants, whose attitude was
already so threatening as to hinder the beginning of repairing
operations. Their fire swept the defences, and their braves capered
derisively to the strains of a bagpipe on the adjacent rocky elevation,
which thenceforth went by the name of 'Piper's Hill.' A sortie on the
15th cleared the environs of the troublesome Afghans, supplies began to
come in, and Broad-foot was free to set his sappers to the task of
repairing the fortifications, in which work the entrenching tools he had
wrenched from the Cabul stores proved invaluable. How greatly Sale had
erred in shutting up his force in Jellalabad was promptly demonstrated.
The connecting posts of Gundamuk and Peshbolak had to be evacuated; and
thus, from Jumrood at the foot of the Khyber up to Cabul, there remained
no intermediate post in British possession with the solitary exception of
Jellalabad, and communications were entirely interrupted except through
the medium of furtive messengers.

The Jellalabad garrison was left unmolested for nearly a fortnight, and
the repairs were well advanced when on the 29th the Afghans came down,
invested the place, and pushed their skirmishers close up to the walls.
On December 1st Colonel Dennie headed a sortie, which worsted the
besiegers with considerable slaughter and drove them from the vicinity.
Bad news came at intervals from Cabul, and at the new year arrived a
melancholy letter from Pottinger, confirming the rumours already rife of
the murder of the Envoy, and of the virtual capitulation to which the
Cabul force had submitted. A week later an official communication was
received from Cabul, signed by General Elphinstone and Major Pottinger,
formally announcing the convention which the Cabul force had entered into
with the chiefs, and ordering the garrison of Jellalabad forthwith to
evacuate that post and retire to Peshawur, leaving behind with 'the new
Governor,' an Afghan chief who was the bearer of the humiliating missive,
the fortress guns and such stores and baggage as there lacked transport
to remove. The council of war summoned by Sale was unanimous in favour of
non-compliance with this mandate. Broadfoot urged with vigour that an
order by a superior who was no longer a free agent and who issued it
under duress, could impose no obligation of obedience. Sale pronounced
himself untrammelled by a convention forced from people 'with knives at
their throats,' and was resolute in the expression of his determination
to hold Jellalabad unless ordered by the Government to withdraw.

More and more ominous tidings poured in from Cabul. A letter received on
January both reported the Cabul force to be still in the cantonments,
living utterly at the mercy of the Afghans; another arriving on the 12th
told of the abandonment of the cantonments and the beginning of the
march, but that the forlorn wayfarers were lingering in detention at
Bootkhak, halted in their misery by the orders of Akbar Khan. Those
communications in a measure prepared the people in Jellalabad for
disaster, but not for the awful catastrophe of which Dr Brydon had to
tell, when in the afternoon of the 13th the lone man, whose approach to
the fortress Lady Butler's painting so pathetically depicts, rode through
the Cabul gate of Jellalabad. Dr Brydon was covered with cuts and
contusions, and was utterly exhausted. His first few hasty sentences
extinguished all hope in the hearts of the listeners regarding their
Cabul comrades and friends.

There was naturally great excitement in Jellalabad, but no panic. The
working parties were called in, the assembly was sounded, the gates were
closed, the walls were lined, and the batteries were manned; for it was
believed for the moment that the enemy were in full pursuit of fugitives
following in Brydon's track. The situation impressed Broadfoot with the
conviction that a crisis had come in the fortunes of the Jellalabad
garrison. He thought it his duty to lay before the General the conditions
of the critical moment which he believed to have arrived, pointing out to
him that the imperative alternatives were that he should either firmly
resolve on the defence of Jellalabad to the last extremity, or that he
should make up his mind to a retreat that very night, while as yet
retreat was practicable. Sale decided on holding on to the place, and
immediately announced to the Commander-in-Chief his resolve to persevere
in a determined defence, relying on the promise of the earliest possible

Because of the defection of his Sikh auxiliaries and the
faint-heartedness of his sepoys, Wild's efforts to cross the threshold of
the Khyber had failed, and with the tidings of his failure there came to
Sale the information that the effort for his relief must be indefinitely
postponed. It may be assumed that this intimation weakened in some degree
the General's expressed resolution to hold Jellalabad with determination,
and it is not to be denied that this resolution was in a measure
conditional on the not unwarranted expectation of early relief. Neither
he nor his adviser Macgregor appears to have realised how incumbent on
the garrison of Jellalabad it was to hold out to the last extremity,
irrespective of consequences to itself, unless it should receive a
peremptory recall from higher authority; or to have recognised the
glorious opportunity presented of inspiriting by its staunch constancy
and high-souled self-abnegation a weak government staggering under a
burden of calamity. Than Sale no braver soldier ever wore sword, but a
man may delight to head a forlorn hope and yet lack nerve to carry with
high heart a load of responsibility; nor was Macgregor so constituted as
to animate his chief to noble emprise. Fast on the heels of the gloomy
tidings from the Khyber mouth there came to them from Shah Soojah, who
was still the nominal sovereign at Cabul, a curt peremptory letter
obviously written under compulsion, of which the following were the
terms: 'Your people have concluded a treaty with us; you are still in
Jellalabad; what are your intentions? Tell us quickly.'

Sale summoned a council of war, which assembled at his quarters on
January 27th. Its proceedings were recorded, and the documents laid
before it were preserved by Captain Henry Havelock in his capacity as
Sale's staff-officer. Record and papers were reclaimed from Havelock's
custody by General Sale before the evacuation of Afghanistan, and had
been long lost to sight. They have recently been deposited among the
records of the India Office, but not before their latest non-official
possessor had published some extracts from them. It is to be hoped that
the more important documents may be given to the public in full, since
passages from documents, whether intentionally or not, may be so
extracted as to be misleading. Broadfoot, who had been a member of the
council of war, and who was apparently aware of the suppression of the
official records, wrote in 1843 a detailed narrative of its proceedings
while his recollection of them was still fresh, and this narrative he
sent to Havelock, desiring him to note 'any points erroneously stated,
distinguishing between what you may merely not remember and what you know
I am mistaken in.' Havelock, who was a loyal and ardent admirer of
General Sale, having sparsely annotated Broadfoot's narrative, returned
it with the statement that he had compared it with memoranda still in his
possession, and that he considered that it 'contributes a fair and
correct statement of that which occurred.' The officers comprising the
council to whom Sale and Macgregor addressed themselves were Colonel
Dennie of the 13th, Colonel Monteath of the 35th N.I., Captains Backhouse
and Abbott of the artillery, Captain Oldfield commanding the cavalry, and
Captain Broadfoot the garrison engineer. The following is a summary of
the proceedings, as recorded by Broadfoot and authenticated by Havelock.

After a few formal words from General Sale, he called on Macgregor to
submit a matter on which that political officer and himself were agreed.
Macgregor then described the situation from the point of view of Sale and
himself, and expressed their united conviction that nothing was to be
hoped for from the Government. Reserving his own liberty of action, he
sought the opinion of the officers on offers received from Akbar Khan to
treat for the evacuation of Afghanistan, and he laid before them a draft
answer to Shah Soojah's curt letter, professing the readiness of the
garrison to evacuate Jellalabad on his requisition, since it was held
only for him, but naming certain conditions: the exchange of hostages,
the restoration of British prisoners and hostages in exchange for the
Afghan hostages on arrival of the force at Peshawur, escort thither 'in
safety and honour,' with arms, colours, and guns, and adequate assistance
of supplies and transport. Both Sale and Macgregor frankly owned that
they were resolved to yield, and negotiate for safe retreat.

Great excitement from the first had pervaded the assemblage, and when
Macgregor had finished his statement Broadfoot arose in his wrath. He
declined to believe that the Government had abandoned the Jellalabad
garrison to its fate, and there was a general outburst of indignation
when Sale produced a letter carrying that significance. Broadfoot waxed
so warm in his remonstrances against the proposed action that an
adjournment was agreed to. Next day Sale and Macgregor urged that it was
impossible to hold out much longer, that later retreat would be
impracticable, and that the scheme they proposed was safe and honourable.
Broadfoot denounced it as disgraceful, contended that they could hold
Jellalabad indefinitely--'could colonise if they liked'--and retreat at
discretion. He denied that the place was held for Shah Soojah, and
challenged their right to surrender the post unless by Government order.
Hostages he proclaimed worthless while the Afghans held heavier pledges
of ours in the shape of prisoners and hostages. He denounced as
disgraceful the giving of hostages on our part. Monteath's remark that
nobody would go as a hostage roused Oldfield to express himself tersely
but pointedly on the subject. 'I for one,' he exclaimed in great
agitation, 'will fight here to the last drop of my blood, but I plainly
declare that I will never be a hostage, and I am surprised that anyone
should propose such a thing, or regard an Afghan's word as worth
anything.' The resolution to treat for the abandonment of Jellalabad was
carried, Oldfield only voting with Broadfoot against it, but the
stipulations: regarding hostages were omitted. Broadfoot continued to
press modifications of the conditions set out in the proposed reply,
pleading, but in vain, that the restoration of the prisoners in Afghan
hands before departure of the garrison should be insisted on; and that
since evacuation was resolved on, it should at least be conducted as a
military operation, and not degradingly under escort. Then, and little
wonder, he objected to expressions in the draft letter as too abject, and
he was successful in procuring the alteration of them. The letter was
written out, signed by Macgregor, and despatched to Cabul. It was agreed
that those members of the council who chose to do should record in
writing the reasons for their votes, and this was done by Dennie,
Monteath, Abbott, and Broadfoot.

Broadfoot, pending an answer from Cabul, set the garrison to work in
digging a ditch round the fortifications. The reply from the Shah, to the
effect 'If you are sincere in offers, let all the chief gentlemen affix
their seals,' was laid before the reassembled council on February 12th.
The implied imputation on the good faith of British officers might well
have stung to indignation the meekest; but the council's opinion was
taken as to the expediency of complying with the derogatory request made
by the Shah, as well as of a stipulation--a modification of what
Broadfoot had originally urged in vain--for the surrender of all
prisoners, hostages, sick, and wounded under detention in Afghanistan, on
the arrival at Peshawur of the Jellalabad brigade. The members of
council, who in the long interval since the previous meeting had been
gradually regaining their self-respect and mental equipoise, unanimously
declined to accept the proposals tendered them by their commanding
officer and his political ally; and a letter written by Monteath was
accepted, which 'was not a continuation of the negotiation.'

Thus ended the deliberations of the memorable council of war, whose
eleventh hour resolve to 'hold the fort' mainly averted the ruin of
British prestige in India and throughout the regions bordering on our
Eastern Empire; and the credit of its final decision to repudiate the
humiliating proposals of Sale and Macgregor belongs to George Broadfoot,
who was firmly though silently backed by Havelock. The day after that
decision was formulated a letter came from Peshawur informing the
garrison that every effort would be made for its relief; and thenceforth
there was no more talk of surrender, nor was the courage of the little
brigade impaired even when the earthquake of February 19th shook the
newly repaired fortifications into wreck. Broadfoot's vehement energy
infected the troops, and by the end of the month the parapets were
entirely restored, the bastions repaired, and every battery

After the council of war had rejected the proposals laid before it, a
decision which in effect involved the maintenance of the defence to the
last extremity, nearly two months passed without the occurrence of any
important event, except the speedily retrieved misfortune of the
earthquake of February 19th. The close investment of the place by Akbar
Khan thwarted the efforts of the foraging parties to obtain much needed
supplies. Those efforts were not vigorous, for Sale, aware of his
garrison's poverty of ammunition, was bent on a passive defence, and
steadily refused his consent to vigorous sorties. The policy may have had
its abstract merits, but it was certainly unsatisfactory in this respect,
that perseverance in it involved the unpleasantness of apparently
inevitable starvation. General Pollock had arrived in Peshawur, and was
making energetic efforts to get his force in order for the accomplishment
of the relief of Jellalabad. But he foresaw serious delays, and so late
as the middle of March was still unable to specify with any definiteness
the probable date of his arrival at that place. The European troops in
Jellalabad would be out of meat rations early in April, and Havelock's
calculation was that the grain, on which mainly subsisted the native
soldiers, who had been on half rations since the new year, would be
exhausted before the middle of that month. Sale modified his policy of
inactivity when he learned that the blockading Afghans were attempting to
drive a mine under a salient of the defences, and Dennie on March 11th
led out a sally, destroyed the works, and thrust back Akbar's
encroachments. The general lack of vigour, however, on the garrison's
part emboldened the Afghans so much that they actually grazed their
flocks of sheep within 600 yards of the walls. This was too impudent, and
the General consented to a raid, which resulted in the acquisition of
some 500 sheep, an invaluable addition to the commissariat resources. It
is worth recording that the native regiment gave up its share of the
sheep to the soldiers of the 13th, on the ground that Europeans needed
animal food more than did natives of India.

On April 6th the Afghan leader fired a salute in triumph for a
supposititious repulse of Pollock in the Khyber. In regard to what then
happened there is a strange conflict of testimony. General Sale, in a
private letter written six weeks later, states: 'I made my arrangements
with Macgregor to sally the next day, provided we did not hear that
Pollock had forced the pass.' Akbar's salutes, and the information of
spies that Pollock had fallen back, 'made us look very grave--our case
desperate, our provisions nearly out, and no relief at hand. I therefore
decided to play a bold stroke to relieve ourselves, and give courage to
Pollock's force in case of success. If we failed in thrashing Akbar, we
would have left our bones on the field.' Abbott's diary of April 5th and
6th records that spies reported that Pollock had been repulsed at Ali
Musjid, and that the heads of three of his officers had been sent in to
Akbar, whereupon 'all the commanding officers waited on the General,
beseeching him to attack Akbar instantly. The 13th and the battery got
all ready for work, but the old General was obstinate, and refused to
act.' Backhouse's diary (April 6th) mentions that Pollock having been
reported repulsed, and Akbar having fired a salute, the officers
commanding corps and detachments went in a body and proposed to the
General to attack Akbar instantly, but without success. 'Immediately the
matter was broached, the General set his face against anything of the
kind, and disagreed about every point--insisted that the enemy had 5000
or 6000 men in camp, and were too strong for us; and then, the next
minute, that it was no use going out as we couldn't punish them, as they
_wouldn't stand_; and concluding with usual excuse for inactivity, "It
isn't our game." Words ran precious high....'

Whether spontaneously or under pressure, General Sale must have ordered a
sortie in force; for at dawn of the 7th three infantry columns marched
out by the Cabul gate, the right commanded by Havelock, the centre by
Dennie, the left by Monteath, General Sale being in command of the whole
force. Akbar, reputed about 5000 strong, was in formation in front of his
camp about three miles west of Jellalabad, his left flank resting on the
river, with an advanced post of 300 men in the 'patched up' fort about
midway between his camp and Jellalabad. The prescribed tactics were to
march straight on the enemy, with which Monteath and Havelock complied;
but Dennie, whether with or without orders is a matter in dispute,
diverged to assail the 'patched up' fort. The outer defences were
carried, gallant old Dennie riding at the head of his men to receive his
death wound. In vain did the guns for which Sale had sent batter at the
inner keep, and the General abandoning the attempt to reduce it, led on
in person the centre column. Meanwhile Havelock and Monteath had been
moving steadily forward, until halted by orders when considerably
advanced. Havelock had to form square once and again against the Afghan
horsemen, who, however, did not dare to charge home. The artillery came
to the front at the gallop, and poured shot and shell into Akbar's mass.
The three columns, now abreast of each other, deployed into line, and
moving forward at the double in the teeth of the Afghan musketry fire,
swept the enemy clean out of his position, capturing his artillery,
firing his camp, and putting him to utter rout. Akbar, by seven o'clock
in the April morning, had been signally beaten in the open field by the
troops he had boasted of blockading in the fortress.

The garrison of Jellalabad had thus wrought out its own relief.
Thenceforth it experienced neither annoyance nor scarcity. Pollock
arrived a fortnight after the dashing sally which had given the garrison
deliverance, and the head of his column was played into its camp on the
Jellalabad plain by the band of the 13th, to the significant tune 'Oh,
but ye've been lang o'coming.' The magniloquent Ellenborough dubbed
Sale's brigade 'the Illustrious Garrison,' and if the expression is
overstrained, its conduct was without question eminently creditable.


It was little wonder that the unexpected tidings of the Cabul outbreak,
and the later shock of the catastrophe in the passes, should have
temporarily unnerved the Governor-General. But Lord Auckland rallied his
energies with creditable promptitude. His successor was on the voyage
out, and in the remnant of his term that remained he could not do more
than make dispositions which his successor might find of service. Every
soldier of the 'Army of Retribution' was despatched to the frontier
during Lord Auckland's rule. Lord Auckland appointed to the command of
the troops which he was sending forward a quiet, steadfast, experienced
officer of the artillery arm, who had fought under Lake at Deig and
Bhurtpore, and during his forty years of honest service had soldiered
steadily from the precipices of Nepaul to the rice-swamps of the
Irrawaddy. Pollock was essentially the fitting man for the service that
lay before him, characterised as he was by strong sense, shrewd sagacity,
calm firmness, and self-command. When his superior devolved on him an
undue onus of responsibility he was to prove himself thoroughly equal to
the occasion, and the sedate, balanced man murmured not, but probably was
rather amused when he saw a maker of phrases essaying to deck himself in
his laurels. There were many things in Lord Auckland's Indian career of
which it behoved him to repent, but it must go to his credit that he gave
Pollock high command, and that he could honestly proclaim, as he made his
preparations to quit the great possession whose future his policy had
endangered, that he had contributed toward the retrieval of the crisis by
promptly furthering 'such operations as might be required for the
maintenance of the honour and interests of the British Government.'

Brigadier Wild reached Peshawur with a brigade of four sepoy regiments
just before the new year. He was destitute of artillery, his sepoys were
in poor heart, and the Sikh contingent was utterly untrustworthy. To
force the Khyber seemed hopeless. Wild, however, made the attempt
energetically enough. But the Sikhs mutinied, expelled their officers,
and marched back to Peshawur; Wild's sepoys, behaving badly, were driven
back with loss from the mouth of the pass, and Wild himself was wounded.
When Pollock reached Peshawur on February 6th, 1842, he found half of
Wild's brigade sick in hospital, and the whole of it in a state of utter
demoralisation. A second brigade commanded by Brigadier-General
McCaskill, had accompanied Pollock, the sepoys of which promptly fell
under the evil influence of Wild's dispirited and disaffected regiments.
Pollock had to resist the pressing appeals for speedy relief made to him
from Jellalabad, and patiently to devote weeks and months to the
restoration of the morale and discipline of the disheartened sepoys of
his command, and to the reinvigoration of their physique. By kindness
combined with firmness he was able gradually to inspire them with perfect
trust and faith in him, and when in the end of March there reached him a
third brigade, comprising British cavalry and horse-artillery, ordered
forward by Lord Auckland on receipt of tidings of the destruction of the
Cabul force, he felt himself at length justified in advancing with

[Illustration: Sir George Pollock]

Before daylight on the morning of April 5th Pollock's army about 8000
strong, consisting of eight infantry regiments, three cavalry corps, a
troop and two batteries of artillery, and a mountain train, marched from
the Jumrood camping ground into the portals of the Khyber. Pollock's
scheme of operations was perfect in conception and complete in detail.
His main column, with strong advance and rear-guards, was to pursue the
usual road through the pass. It was flanked on each side by a chain of
infantry detachments, whose assigned duty was to crown the heights and
sweep them clear of assailants in advance of the head of the central
column. The Afreedi hill men had blocked the throat of the pass by a
formidable barrier, behind which they were gathered in force, waiting for
the opportunity which was never to come to them. For the main body of
Pollock's force serenely halted, while the flanking columns, breaking
into skirmishing order, hurried in the grey dawn along the slopes and
heights, dislodging the Afreedi pickets as they advanced, driving them
before them with resolute impetuosity, and pushing forward so far as to
take in reverse with their concentrated fire the great barrier and its
defenders. The clansmen, recognising the frustration of their devices,
deserted the position in its rear, and rushed tumultuously away to crags
and sungahs where knife and jezail might still be plied. The centre
column then advanced unmolested to the deserted barricade, through which
the sappers soon cleared a thoroughfare. The guns swept with shrapnel the
hill-sides in front, the flanking detachments pushed steadily further and
yet further forward, chasing and slaying the fugitive hillmen; and the
Duke of Wellington's observation was that morning fully made good, that
he had never heard that our troops were not equal, as well in their
personal activity as in their arms, to contend with and overcome any
natives of hills whatever.' The whole British force, in its order of
three columns, the centre in the bed of the hollow, the wings on the
flanking ridges, steadily if slowly moved on in the assured consciousness
of victory. It was sunset before the rear-guard was in camp under the
reoccupied Ali Musjid. The Sikh troops who were to keep open Pollock's
communications with Peshawur moved simultaneously on Ali Musjid by a more
circuitous route.

While Pollock was halted opposite the throat of the Khyber waiting for
the demolition of the Afreedi barricade, the ill-starred Shah Soojah was
being murdered, on his way from the Balla Hissar of Cabul to review on
the Siah Sung slopes the reinforcements which Akbar Khan was clamouring
that he should lead down to aid that Sirdar in reducing Jellalabad before
relief should arrive. Ever since the outbreak of November Shah Soojah had
led a dog's life. He had reigned in Cabul, but he had not ruled. The
Sirdars dunned him for money, and jeered at his protestations of poverty.
It is not so much a matter of surprise that he should have been murdered
as that, feeble, rich, and loathed, he should have been let live so long.
It does not seem worth while to discuss the vexed question whether or not
he was faithful to his British allies. He was certainly entitled to argue
that he owed us nothing, since what we did in regard to him was nakedly
for our own purposes. Shah Soojah's second son Futteh Jung had himself
proclaimed his father's successor. The vicissitudes of his short reign
need not be narrated. While Pollock was gathering his brigades at
Gundamuk in the beginning of the following September, a forlorn Afghan,
in dirty and tattered rags, rode into his camp. This scarecrow was Futteh
Jung, who, unable to endure longer his sham kingship and the ominous
tyranny of Akbar Khan, had fled from Cabul in disguise to beg a refuge in
the British camp.

Pollock's march from Ali Musjid to Jellalabad was slow, but almost
unmolested. He found, in his own words, 'the fortress strong, the
garrison healthy; and except for wine and beer, better off than we are.'
One principal object of his commission had been accomplished; he had
relieved the garrison of Jellalabad, and was in a position to ensure its
safe withdrawal. But his commission gave him a considerable discretion,
and a great company of his countrymen and countrywomen were still in
Afghan durance. The calm pulsed, resolute commander had views of his own
as to his duty, and he determined in his patient, steadfast way to tarry
a while on the Jellalabad plain, in the hope that the course of events
might play into his hands.

Maclaren's brigade, which in the beginning of November 1841 General
Elphinstone had instructed General Nott to despatch with all speed to
Cabul, returned to Candahar early in December. Nott in despatching it had
deferred reluctantly to superior authority, and probably Maclaren not
sorry to have in the snowfall a pretext for retracing his steps. Atta
Mahomed Khan, sent from Cabul to foment mischief in the Candahar regions,
had gathered to his banner a considerable force. General Nott quietly
waited until the Sirdar, at the head of some 10,000 men, came within five
miles of Candahar, and then he crushed him after twenty minutes'
fighting. The fugitives found refuge in the camp of the disaffected
Dooranee chiefs, whose leader Meerza Ahmed was sedulously trying to
tamper with Nott's native troops, severe weather hindering the General
from attacking him. Near the end of February there reached Nott a letter
two months old from Elphinstone and Pottinger, ordering him to evacuate
Candahar and retire to India, in pursuance of the convention into which
they had entered. The Dooranee chiefs astutely urged that Shah Soojah, no
longer supported by British bayonets, was now ruling in Cabul, as an
argument in favour of Nott's withdrawal. Nott's answer was brief: 'I will
not treat with any person whatever for the retirement of the British
troops from Afghanistan, until I have received instructions from the
Supreme Government'--a blunt sentence in curious contrast to the missive
which Sale and Macgregor laid before the Jellalabad council of war. When
presently there came a communication from Government intimating that the
continued occupation of Candahar was regarded as conducive to the
interest of the state, Nott and Rawlinson were in a position to
congratulate themselves on having anticipated the wishes of their
superiors. The situation, however, became so menacing that early in March
its Afghan inhabitants were expelled from the city of Candahar to the
last soul; and then Nott, leaving a garrison in the place, took the field
in force. The old soldier, wary as he was, became the victim of Meerza's
wily strategy. As he advanced, the Afghans retired, skirmishing
assiduously. Leaving Nott in the Turnuk valley, they doubled back on
Candahar, and in the early darkness of the night of the 10th March they
furiously assailed the city gates. They fired one of the gates, and the
swarming ghazees tore down with fury its blazing planks and the red-hot
ironwork. The garrison behaved valiantly. Inside the burning gate they
piled up a rampart of grain bags, on which they trained a couple of guns
loaded with case. For three hours after the gate fell did the fanatics
hurl assault after assault on the interior barricade. They were terribly
critical hours, but the garrison prevailed, and at midnight, with a loss
of many hundreds, the obstinate assailants sullenly drew off. Nott,
although urgently summoned, was unable to reach Candahar until the 12th.

Candahar was fortunately preserved, but at the end of March the
unpleasant tidings came that Ghuznee, which British valour had carried by
storm three years before, had now reverted into Afghan possession. The
siege had lasted for nearly three and a half months. In mid-December the
besiegers occupied the city in force, introduced by the citizens through
a subterranean way; and the garrison, consisting chiefly of a regiment of
sepoys, withdrew into the citadel. The bitter winter and the scant
rations took the heart out of the natives of the warm and fertile Indian
plains; but nevertheless it was not until March 6th that the garrison,
under pledge of being escorted to Peshawur with colours, arms, and
baggage, marched out. The unfortunates would have done better to have
died a soldierly death, with arms in their hands and the glow of fighting
in their hearts. As the event was, faith with them was broken, and save
for a few officers who were made prisoners, most were slaughtered, or
perished in a vain attempt to escape.

During his long isolation Nott's resources had been seriously depleted,
and he had ordered up from Scinde a brigade, escorting much needed
treasure, ammunition, and medicines. Brigadier England was entrusted with
the command of this force, whose assemblage at Quetta was expected about
the end of March. Pending its gathering England had moved out toward the
entrance of the Kojuk Pass, where he met with a sharp and far from
creditable repulse, and fell back on Quetta miserably disheartened,
suggesting in his abjectness that Nott should abandon Candahar and retire
on him. The stout old soldier at Candahar waxed wroth at the limpness of
his subordinate, and addressed to England a biting letter, ordering
peremptorily the latter's prompt advance to Candahar, engaging to
dry-nurse him through the Kojuk by a brigade sent down from Candahar for
the purpose, and remarking sarcastically, 'I am well aware that war
cannot be made without loss; but yet perhaps British troops can oppose
Asiatic armies without defeat.' Thus exhorted England moved, to find his
march through the Kojuk protected by Wymer's sepoys from Candahar, who
had crowned the lateral heights before he ventured into the pass; and he
reached Candahar without maltreatment on the 10th May, bringing to Nott
the much needed supplies which rendered that resolute man equal to any

It remained, however, to be seen whether any enterprise was to be
permitted to him and to his brother commander lying in camp on the
Jellalabad plain. Lord Ellenborough, the successor of Lord Auckland, had
struck a firm if somewhat inexplicit note in his earliest manifesto,
dated March 13th. A single sentence will indicate its tenor: 'Whatever
course we may hereafter take must rest solely on military considerations,
and hence in the first instance regard to the safety of our detached
garrisons in Afghanistan; to the security of our troops now in the field
from unnecessary risks; and finally, to the re-establishment of our
military reputation by the infliction upon the Afghans of some signal and
decisive blow.' Those were brave words, if only they had been adhered to.
But six weeks later his lordship was ordering Nott to evacuate Candahar
and fall back on Quetta, until the season should permit further
retirement to the Indus; and instructing Pollock, through the
Commander-in-Chief, to withdraw without delay every British soldier from
Jellalabad to Peshawur, except under certain specified eventualities,
none of which were in course of occurrence. Pollock temporised, holding
on to his advanced position by the plea of inability to retire for want
of transport, claiming mildly to find discretionary powers in the
Government instructions, and cautiously arguing in favour of an advance
by a few marches to a region where better climate was to be found, and
whence he might bring to bear stronger pressure for the liberation of the
prisoners. Nott was a narrower man than Pollock. When he got his orders
he regarded them as strictly binding, no matter how unpalatable the
injunctions. 'I shall not lose a moment,' he wrote, 'in making
arrangements to carry out my orders, without turning to the right or the
left, and without inquiring into the reasons for the measures enjoined,
whatever our own opinions or wishes may be.' He reluctantly began
preparations for withdrawal. Carriage was ordered up from Quetta, and a
brigade was despatched to withdraw the garrison of Khelat-i-Ghilzai, and
to destroy the fort which Craigie had so long and valiantly defended.

It would be tedious to detail the vacillations, the obscurities, and the
tortuosities of Lord Ellenborough's successive communications to his two
Generals in Afghanistan. Pollock had been permitted to remain about
Jellalabad until the autumn should bring cooler marching weather. Nott
had been detained at Candahar by the necessity for crushing menacing
bodies of tribal levies, but as July waned his preparations for
withdrawal were all but complete. On the 4th of that month Lord
Ellenborough wrote to him, reiterating injunctions for his withdrawal
from Afghanistan, but permitting him the alternatives of retiring by the
direct route along his line of communications over Quetta and Sukkur, or
of boxing the compass by the curiously circuitous 'retirement' _via_
Ghuznee, Cabul, and Jellalabad. Pollock, for his part, was permitted, if
he thought proper, to advance on Cabul in order to facilitate Nott's
withdrawal, if the latter should elect to 'retreat' by the circuitous
route which has just been described.

One does not care to characterise the 'heads I win, tails you lose'
policy of a Governor-General who thus shuffled off his responsibility
upon two soldiers who previously had been sedulously restricted within
narrow if varying limits. Their relief from those trammels set them free,
and it was their joy to accept the devolved responsibility, and to act
with soldierly initiative and vigour. The chief credit of the qualified
yet substantial triumph over official hesitation certainly belongs to
Pollock, who gently yet firmly forced the hand of the Governor-General,
while Nott's merit was limited to a ready acceptance of the
responsibility of a proffered option. A letter from Nott intimating his
determination to retire by way of Cabul and Jellalabad reached Pollock in
the middle of August, who immediately advanced from Jellalabad; and his
troops having concentrated at Gundamuk, he marched from that position on
7th September, his second division, commanded by M'Caskill, following
next day. Pollock was woefully short of transport, and therefore was
compelled to leave some troops behind at Gundamuk, and even then could
carry only half the complement of tentage. But his soldiers, who carried
in their haversacks seven days' provisions, would gladly have marched
without any baggage at all, and the chief himself was eager to hurry
forward, for Nott had written that he expected to reach Cabul on 15th
September, and Pollock was burning to be there first. In the Jugdulluk
Pass, on the 8th, he found the Ghilzais in considerable force on the
heights. Regardless of a heavy artillery fire they stood their ground,
and so galled Pollock's troops with sharp discharges from their jezails
that it became necessary to send infantry against them. They were
dislodged from the mountain they had occupied by a portion of the
Jellalabad brigade, led by gallant old General Sale, who had his usual
luck in the shape of a wound.

This Jugdulluk fighting was, however, little more than a skirmish, and
Pollock's people were to experience more severe opposition before they
should emerge from the passes on to the Cabul plain. On the morning of
the 13th the concentrated force had quitted its camp in the Tezeen
valley, and had committed itself without due precaution to the passage of
the ravine beyond, when the Afghan levies with which Akbar Khan had
manned the flanking heights, opened their fire. The Sirdar had been
dissuaded by Captain Troup, one of his prisoners, from attempting futile
negotiations, and advised not to squander lives in useless opposition.
Akbar had replied that he was too deeply committed to recede, and that
his people were bent on fighting. They were not baulked in the
aspiration, which assuredly their opponents shared with at least equal
zeal. Pollock's advance-guard was about the middle of the defile, when
the enemy were suddenly discovered blocking the pass in front, and
holding the heights which Pollock's light troops should have crowned in
advance of the column. Akbar's force was calculated to be about 15,000
strong, and the Afghans fought resolutely against the British regiments
which forced their way up the heights on the right and left. The ghazees
dashed down to meet the red soldiers halfway, and up among the precipices
there were many hand-to-hand encounters, in which the sword and the
bayonet fought out the issue. The Afghans made their last stand on the
rocky summit of the Huft Kotul; but from this commanding position they
were finally driven by Broadfoot's bloodthirsty little Goorkhas, who,
hillmen themselves from their birth, chased the Afghans from crag to
crag, using their fell kookeries as they pursued. It was Akbar Khan's
last effort, and the quelling of it cost Pollock the trivial loss of
thirty-two killed and 130 wounded. There was no more opposition, and it
was well for the Afghans, for the awful spectacles presented in the
Khoord Cabul Pass traversed on the following day, kindled in Pollock's
soldiers a white heat of fury. 'The bodies,' wrote Backhouse in his
unpublished diary, 'lay in heaps of fifties and hundreds, our gun wheels
crushing the bones of our late comrades at every yard for four or five
miles; indeed, the whole march from Gundamuk to Cabul may be said to have
been over the bodies of the massacred army.' Pollock marched unmolested
to Cabul on the 15th, and camped on the old racecourse to the east of the

Nott, in evacuating Candahar, divided his force into two portions, the
weaker of which General England took back to India by Quetta and Sukkur,
while on August 9th Nott himself, with two European battalions, the
'beautiful sepoy regiments' of which he had a right to be proud, and his
field guns, marched away from Candahar, his face set towards Cabul. His
march was uneventful until about midway between Khelat-i-Ghilzai and
Ghuznee, when on the 28th the cavalry, unsupported and badly handled in a
stupid and unauthorised foray, lost severely in officers and men, took to
flight in panic, and so gave no little encouragement to the enemy hanging
on Nott's flank. Two days later Shumshoodeen, the Afghan leader, drew up
some 10,000 men in order of battle on high ground left of the British
camp. Nott attacked with vigour, advancing to turn the Afghan left. In
reprisal the enemy threw their strength on his left, supporting their
jezail fire with artillery, whereupon Nott changed front to the left,
deployed, and then charged. The Afghans did not wait for close quarters,
and Nott was no more seriously molested. Reaching the vicinity of Ghuznee
on September 5th, he cleared away the hordes hanging on the heights which
encircle the place. During the night the Afghans evacuated Ghuznee. Soon
after daylight the British flag was waving from the citadel. Having
fulfilled Lord Ellenborough's ridiculous order to carry away from the
tomb of Sultan Mahmoud in the environs of Ghuznee, the supposititious
gates of Somnath, a once famous Hindoo shrine in the Bombay province of
Kattiawar, Nott marched onward unmolested till within a couple of marches
of Cabul, when near Maidan he had some stubborn fighting with an Afghan
force which tried ineffectually to block his way. On the 17th he marched
into camp four miles west of Cabul, whence he could discern, not with
entire complacency, the British ensign already flying from the Balla
Hissar, for Pollock had won the race to Cabul by a couple of days.

For months there had been negotiations for the release of the British
prisoners whom Akbar Khan had kept in durance ever since they came into
his hands in the course of the disastrous retreat from Cabul in January,
but they had been unsuccessful, and now it was known that the unfortunate
company of officers, women, and children, had been carried off westward
into the hill country of Bamian. Nott's officers, as the Candahar column
was nearing Cabul, had more than once urged him to detach a brigade in
the direction of Bamian in the hope of effecting a rescue of the
prisoners, but he had steadily refused, leaning obstinately on the
absence from the instructions sent him by Government of any permission to
engage in the enterprise of attempting their release. He was not less
brusque in the intimation of his declinature when Pollock gave him the
opportunity to send a force in support of Sir Richmond Shakespear, whom,
with a detachment of Kuzzilbash horse, Pollock had already despatched on
the mission of attempting the liberation of the prisoners. The narrow old
soldier argued doggedly that Government 'had thrown the prisoners
overboard.' Why, then, should he concern himself with their rescue? If
his superior officer should give him a firm order, of course he would
obey, but he would obey under protest. Pollock disdained to impose so
enviable a duty on a recalcitrant man, and committed to Sale the
honourable and welcome service--all the more welcome to that officer
because his wife and daughter were among the captives. At the head of his
Jellalabad brigade, he was to push forward by forced marches on the track
of Shakespear and his horsemen.

The strange and bitter experiences of the captives, from that miserable
January Sabbath day on which they passed under the 'protection' of Akbar
Khan until the mid-September noon when Shakespear galloped into their
midst, are recorded in full and interesting detail in Lady Sale's
journal, in Vincent Eyre's _Captivity_, and in Colin Mackenzie's
biography published under the title of _Storms and Sunshine of a
Soldier's Life_. Here it is possible only briefly to summarise the chief
incidents of the captivity. The unanimous testimony of the released
prisoners was to the effect that Akbar Khan, violent, bloody, and
passionate man though he was, behaved toward them with kindness and a
certain rude chivalry. They remained for nearly three months at Budiabad,
living in great squalor and discomfort. For the whole party there were
but five rooms, each of which was occupied by from five to ten officers
and ladies, the few soldiers and non-commissioned officers, who were
mostly wounded, being quartered in sheds and cellars. Mackenzie drily
remarks that the hardships of the common lot, and the close intimacy of
prison life, brought into full relief good and evil qualities;
'conventional polish was a good deal rubbed off and replaced by a
plainness of speech quite unheard of in good society.' Ladies and
gentlemen were necessitated to occupy the same room during the night, but
the men 'cleared out' early in the morning, leaving the ladies to
themselves. The dirt and vermin of their habitation were abominably
offensive to people to whom scrupulous cleanliness was a second nature.
But the captives were allowed to take exercise within a limited range;
they had among them a few books, and an old newspaper occasionally came
on to them from Jellalabad, with which place a fitful correspondence in
cypher was surreptitiously maintained. They had a few packs of playing
cards; they made for themselves backgammon and draught-boards, and when
in good spirits they sometimes played hopscotch and blindman's-buff with
the children of the party. The Sundays were always kept scrupulously,
Lawrence and Mackenzie conducting the service in turn.

The earthquake which shook down the fortifications of Jellalabad brought
their rickety fort about the ears of the captives. Several escaped
narrowly with their lives when walls and roofs yawned and crumbled, and
all had to turn out and sleep in the courtyard, where they suffered from
cold and saturating dews. After the defeat of Akbar by the Jellalabad
garrison on April 7th, there was keen expectation that Sale would march
to their rescue, but he came not, and there were rumours among the guards
of their impending massacre in revenge for the crushing reverse Akbar had
experienced. Presently, however, Mahomed Shah Khan, Akbar's lieutenant,
arrived full of courtesy and reassurance, but with the unwelcome
intimation that the prisoners must prepare themselves to leave Budiabad
at once, and move to a greater distance from Jellalabad and their
friends. For some preparation was not a difficult task. 'All my worldly
goods,' wrote Captain Johnson, 'might be stowed away in a towel.' Others
who possessed heavier impedimenta, were lightened of the encumbrance by
the Ghilzai Sirdar, who plundered indiscriminately. The European soldiers
were left behind at Budiabad, and the band of ladies and gentlemen
started on the afternoon of April 10th, in utter ignorance of their
destination, under the escort of a strong band of Afghans. At the ford
across the Cabul river the cavalcade found Akbar Khan wounded, haggard,
and dejected, seated in a palanquin, which, weak as he was, he gave up to
Ladies Macnaghten and Sale, who were ill. A couple of days were spent at
Tezeen among the melancholy relics of the January slaughter, whence most
of the party were carried several miles further into the southern
mountains to the village of Zandeh, while General Elphinstone, whose end
was fast approaching, remained in the Tezeen valley with Pottinger,
Mackenzie, Eyre, and one or two others. On the evening of April 23d the
poor General was finally released from suffering of mind and body. Akbar,
who when too late had offered to free him, sent the body down to
Jellalabad under a guard, and accompanied by Moore the General's soldier
servant; and Elphinstone lies with Colonel Dennie and the dead of the
defence of Jellalabad in their nameless graves in a waste place within
the walls of that place. Toward the end of May the captives were moved up
the passes to the vicinity of Cabul, where Akbar Khan was now gradually
attaining the ascendant. Prince Futteh Jung, however, still held out in
the Balla Hissar, and intermittent firing was heard as the weary
_cortège_ of prisoners reached a fort about three miles short of Cabul,
which the ladies of the proprietor's zenana had evacuated in their
favour. Here they lived if not in contentment at least in considerable
comfort and amenity. They had the privacy of a delightful garden, and
enjoyed the freedom of bathing in the adjacent river. After the strife
between Akbar Khan and Futteh Jung ceased they were even permitted to
exchange visits with their countrymen, the hostages quartered on the
Balla Hissar. They were able to obtain money from the Cabul usurers, and
thus to supply themselves with suitable clothing and additions to their
rations, and their mails from India and Jellalabad were forwarded to them
without hindrance. The summer months were passed in captivity, but it was
no longer for them a captivity of squalor and wretchedness. Life was a
good deal better worth living in the pleasant garden house on the bank of
the Logur than it had been in the noisome squalor of Budiabad and the
vermin-infested huddlement of Zandeh. But they still-lived under the long
strain of anxiety and apprehension, for none of them knew what the morrow
might bring forth. While residing in the pleasant quarters in the Logur
valley the captives of the passes were joined by nine officers, who were
the captives of Ghuznee. After the capitulation the latter had been
treated with cruel harshness, shut up in one small room, and debarred
from fresh air and exercise. Colonel Palmer, indeed, had undergone the
barbarity of torture in the endeavour to force him to disclose the
whereabouts of treasure which he was suspected of having buried.

Akbar had full and timely intimation of the mutual intention of the
British generals at Jellalabad and Candahar to march on Cabul, and did
not fail to recognise of what value to him in extremity might be his
continued possession of the prisoners. They had been warned of their
probable deportation to the remote and rugged Bamian; and the toilsome
journey thither was begun on the evening of August 25th. A couple of
ailing families alone, with a surgeon in charge of them, were allowed to
remain behind; all the others, hale and sick, had to travel, the former
on horseback, the latter carried in camel panniers. The escort consisted
of an irregular regiment of Afghan infantry commanded by one Saleh
Mahomed Khan, who when a subadar serving in one of the Shah's Afghan
regiments had deserted to Dost Mahomed. The wayfarers, female as well as
male, wore the Afghan costume, in order that they might attract as little
notice as possible.

Bamian was reached on September 3d, where the wretchedness of the
quarters contrasted vividly with the amenity of those left behind on the
Cabul plain. But the wretchedness of Bamian was not to be long endured.
An intimacy had been struck up between Captain Johnson and Saleh Mahomed,
and the latter cautiously hinted that a reward and a pension might induce
him to carry his charges into the British camp. On September 11th there
was a private meeting between the Afghan commandant and three British
officers, Pottinger, Johnson, and Lawrence. Saleh Mahomed intimated the
receipt of instructions from the Sirdar to carry the prisoners over the
Hindoo Koosh into Khooloom, and leave them there to seeming hopeless
captivity. But on the other hand a messenger had reached Saleh from Mohun
Lal with the assurance that General Pollock, if he restored the
prisoners, would ensure him a reward of 20,000 rupees, and a life pension
of 12,000 rupees a year. Saleh Mahomed demanded and received a guarantee
from the British officers; and the captives bound themselves to make good
from their own resources their redemption money. The Afghan ex-Subadar
proved himself honest; the captives were captives no longer, and they
proceeded to assert themselves in the masterful British manner. They
hoisted the national flag; Pottinger became once again the high-handed
'political,' and ordered the local chiefs to come to his durbar and
receive dresses of honour. Their fort was put into a state of defence,
and a store of provisions was gathered in case of a siege. But in
mid-September came the tidings that Akbar had been defeated at Tezeen,
and had fled no one knew whither, whereupon the self-emancipated party
set out on the march to Cabul. At noon of the 17th they passed into the
safe guardianship of Shakespear and his horsemen. Three days later,
within a march of Cabul, there was reached the column which Sale had
taken out, and on September 21st Pollock greeted the company of men and
women whose rescue had been wrought out by his cool, strong

Little more remains to be told. There was an Afghan force still in arms
at Istalif, a beautiful village of the inveterately hostile Kohistanees;
a division marched to attack it, carried the place by assault, burnt part
of it, and severely smote the garrison. Utter destruction was the fate of
Charikar, the capital of the Kohistan, where Codrington's Goorkha
regiment had been destroyed. Pollock determined to 'set a mark' on Cabul
to commemorate the retribution which the British had exacted. He spared
the Balla Hissar, and abstained from laying the city in ruins, contenting
himself with the destruction of the principal bazaar, through which the
heads of Macnaghten and Burnes had been paraded, and in which their
mangled bodies had been exposed. Prince Futteh Jung, tired of his
vicissitudes in the character of an Afghan monarch, ceded what of a
throne he possessed to another puppet of his race, and gladly accompanied
the British armies to India. Other waifs of the wreck of a nefarious and
disastrous enterprise, among them old Zemaun Khan, who had been our
friend throughout, and the family of the ill-fated Shah Soojah, were well
content to return to the exile which afforded safety and quietude. There
also accompanied the march of the humane Pollock a great number of the
mutilated and crippled camp followers of Elphinstone's army who had
escaped with their lives from its destruction. On the 12th of October the
forces of Pollock and of Nott turned their backs on Cabul, which no
British army was again to see for nearly forty years, and set out on
their march down the passes. Jellalabad and Ali Musjid were partially
destroyed in passing. Pollock's division reached Peshawur without loss,
thanks to the precautions of its chief; but with M'Caskill and Nott the
indomitable Afghans had the last word, cutting off their stragglers,
capturing their baggage, and in the final skirmish killing and wounding
some sixty men of Nott's command.

Of the bombastic and grotesque paeans of triumph emitted by Lord
Ellenborough, whose head had been turned by a success to which he had but
scantly contributed, nothing need now be said, nor of the garish pageant
with which he received the armies as they re-entered British territory at
Ferozepore. As they passed down through the Punjaub, Dost Mahomed passed
up on his way to reoccupy the position from which he had been driven. And
so ended the first Afghan war, a period of history in which no redeeming
features are perceptible except the defence of Jellalabad, the dogged
firmness of Nott, and Pollock's noble and successful constancy of
purpose. Beyond this effulgence there spreads a sombre welter of
misrepresentation and unscrupulousness, intrigue, moral deterioration,
and dishonour unspeakable.



A brief period of peace intervened between the ratification of the treaty
of Gundamuk on May 30th, 1879, and the renewal of hostilities consequent
on the massacre at Cabul of Sir Louis Cavagnari and the whole _entourage_
of the mission of which he was the head. There was nothing identical or
even similar in the motives of the two campaigns, and regarded purely on
principle they might be regarded as two distinct wars, rather than as
successive campaigns of one and the same war. But the interval between
them was so short that the ink of the signatures to the treaty of
Gundamuk may be said to have been scarcely dry when the murder of the
British Envoy tore that document into bloody shreds; and it seems the
simplest and most convenient method to designate the two years of
hostilities from November 1878 to September 1880, as the 'second Afghan
war,' notwithstanding the three months' interval of peace in the summer
of 1879.

Dost Mahomed died in 1863, and after a long struggle his son Shere Ali
possessed himself of the throne bequeathed to him by his father. The
relations between Shere Ali and the successive Viceroys of India were
friendly, although not close. The consistent aim of the British policy
was to maintain Afghanistan in the position of a strong, friendly, and
independent state, prepared in certain contingencies to co-operate in
keeping at a distance foreign intrigue or aggression; and while this
object was promoted by donations of money and arms, to abstain from
interference in the internal affairs of the country, while according a
friendly recognition to the successive occupants of its throne, without
undertaking indefinite liabilities in their interest. The aim, in a word,
was to utilise Afghanistan as a 'buffer' state between the northwestern
frontier of British India and Russian advances from the direction of
Central Asia. Shere Ali was never a very comfortable ally; he was of a
saturnine and suspicious nature, and he seems also to have had an
overweening sense of the value of the position of Afghanistan, interposed
between two great powers profoundly jealous one of the other. He did not
succeed with Lord Northbrook in an attempt to work on that Viceroy by
playing off the bogey of Russian aggression; and as the consequence of
this failure he allowed himself to display marked evidences of
disaffected feeling. Cognisance was taken of this 'attitude of extreme
reserve,' and early in 1876 Lord Lytton arrived in India charged with
instructions to break away from the policy designated as that of
'masterly inactivity,' and to initiate a new basis of relations with
Afghanistan and its Ameer.

Lord Lytton's instructions directed him to despatch without delay a
mission to Cabul, whose errand would be to require of the Ameer the
acceptance of a permanent Resident and free access to the frontier
positions of Afghanistan on the part of British officers, who should have
opportunity of conferring with the Ameer on matters of common interest
with 'becoming attention to their friendly councils.' Those were demands
notoriously obnoxious to the Afghan monarch and the Afghan people.
Compliance with them involved sacrifice of independence, and the Afghan
loathing of Feringhee officials in their midst had been fiercely evinced
in the long bloody struggle and awful catastrophe recorded in earlier
pages of this volume. Probably the Ameer, had he desired, would not have
dared to concede such demands on any terms, no matter how full of
advantage. But the terms which Lord Lytton was instructed to tender as an
equivalent were strangely meagre. The Ameer was to receive a money gift,
and a precarious stipend regarding which the new Viceroy was to 'deem it
inconvenient to commit his government to any permanent pecuniary
obligation.' The desiderated recognition of Abdoolah Jan as Shere Ali's
successor was promised with the qualifying reservation that the promise
'did not imply or necessitate any intervention in the internal affairs of
the state.' The guarantee against foreign aggression was vague and
indefinite, and the Government of India reserved to itself entire
'freedom of judgment as to the character of circumstances involving the
obligation of material support.'

The Ameer replied to the notice that a mission was about to proceed to
Cabul by a courteous declinature to receive an Envoy, assigning several
specious reasons. He was quite satisfied with the existing friendly
relations, and desired no change in them; he could not guarantee the
safety of the Envoy and his people; if he admitted a British mission, he
would have no excuse for refusing to receive a Russian one. An intimation
was conveyed to the Ameer that if he should persist in his refusal to
receive the mission, the Viceroy would have no other alternative than to
regard Afghanistan as a state which had 'voluntarily isolated itself from
the alliance and support of the British Government.' The Ameer arranged
that the Vakeel of the Indian Government should visit Simla, carrying
with him full explanations, and charged to lay before the Viceroy sundry
grievances which were distressing Shere Ali. That functionary took back
to Cabul certain minor concessions, but conveyed the message also that
those concessions were contingent on the Ameer's acceptance of British
officers about his frontiers, and that it would be of no avail to send an
Envoy to the conference at Peshawur for which sanction was given, unless
he were commissioned to agree to this condition as the fundamental basis
of a treaty. Before the Vakeel quitted Simla he had to listen to a
truculent address from Lord Lytton, in the course of which Shere Ali's
position was genially likened to that of 'an earthen pipkin between two
iron pots.' Before Sir Lewis Pelly and the Ameer's representative met at
Peshawur in January 1877, Shere Ali had not unnaturally been perturbed by
the permanent occupation of Quetta, on the southern verge of his
dominions, as indicating, along with other military dispositions, an
intended invasion. The Peshawur conference, which from the first had
little promise, dragged on unsatisfactorily until terminated by the death
of the Ameer's representative, whereupon Sir Lewis Pelly was recalled by
Lord Lytton, notwithstanding the latter's cognisance that Shere Ali was
despatching to Peshawur a fresh Envoy authorised to assent to all the
British demands. The justification advanced by Lord Lytton for this
procedure was the discovery purported to have been made by Sir Lewis
Pelly that the Ameer was intriguing with General Kaufmann at Tashkend.
Since Shere Ali was an independent monarch, it was no crime on his part
to enter into negotiations with another power than Great Britain,
although if the worried and distracted man did so the charge of folly may
be laid to him, since the Russians were pretty certain to betray him
after having made a cat's-paw of him, and since in applying to them he
involved himself in the risk of hostile action on the part of the
British. The wisdom of Lord Lytton's conduct is not apparent. The
truculent policy of which he was the instrument was admittedly on the
point of triumphing; and events curiously falsified his short-sighted
anticipation of the unlikelihood, because of the Russo-Turkish war then
impending, of any _rapprochement_ between the Ameer and the Russian
authorities in Central Asia. The Viceroy withdrew his Vakeel from Cabul,
and in the recognition of the Ameer's attitude of 'isolation and scarcely
veiled hostility' Lord Salisbury authorised Lord Lytton to protect the
British frontier by such measures as circumstances should render
expedient, 'without regard to the wishes of the Ameer or the interests of
his dynasty.' Lord Lytton took no measures, expedient or otherwise, in
the direction indicated by Lord Salisbury; the Ameer, as if he had been a
petted boy consigned to the corner, was abandoned to his sullen
'isolation,' and the Russians adroitly used him to involve us in a war
which lasted two years, cost us the lives of many valiant men, caused us
to incur an expenditure of many millions, and left our relations with
Afghanistan in all essential respects in the same condition as Lord
Lytton found them when he reached India with the 'new policy' in his

If the Russians could execute as thoroughly as they can plan skilfully,
there would be hardly any limit to their conquests. When England was
mobilising her forces after the treaty of San Stefano, and ordering into
the Mediterranean a division of sepoys drawn from the three presidencies
of her Indian Empire, Russia for her part was concerting an important
diversion in the direction of the north-western frontier of that great
possession. But for the opportune conclusion of the treaty of Berlin, the
question as to the ability of sepoy troops stiffened by British regiments
to cope with the mixed levies of the Tzar might have been tried out on
stricken fields between the Oxus and the Indus. When Gortschakoff
returned from Berlin to St Petersburg with his version of 'Peace with
Honour'--Bessarabia and Batoum thrown in--Kaufmann had to countermand the
concentration of troops that had been in progress on the northern
frontier of Afghanistan. But the Indian division was still much in
evidence in the Mediterranean, its tents now gleaming on the brown slopes
of Malta, now crowning the upland of Larnaca and nestling among the
foliage of Kyrenea. Kaufmann astutely retorted on this demonstration by
despatching, not indeed an expedition, but an embassy to Cabul; and when
Stolietoff, the gallant defender of the Schipka Pass, rode into the Balla
Hissar on August 11th, 1878, Shere Ali received him with every token of
cordiality and regard.

No other course was now open to Her Majesty's Government than to insist
on the reception at Cabul of a British mission. The gallant veteran
officer Sir Neville Chamberlain, known to be held in regard by the Ameer,
was named as Envoy, and an emissary was sent to Cabul in advance with
information of the date fixed for the setting out of the mission. Shere
Ali was greatly perplexed, and begged for more time. 'It is not proper,'
he protested, 'to use pressure in this way; it will tend to a complete
rupture.' But Sir Neville Chamberlain was satisfied that the Ameer was
trifling with the Indian Government; and he had certain information that
the Ameer, his Ministers, and the Afghan outpost officers, had stated
plainly that, if necessary, the advance of the mission would be arrested
by force. This was what in effect happened when on September 21st Major
Cavagnari rode forward to the Afghan post in the Khyber Pass. The officer
who courteously stopped him assured him that he had orders to oppose by
force the progress of Sir Neville and his mission, so Cavagnari shook
hands with the Afghan major and rode back to Peshawur.

The Viceroy sought permission to declare war immediately, notwithstanding
his condition of unpreparedness; but the Home Government directed him
instead to require in temperate language an apology and the acceptance of
a permanent mission, presenting at the same time the ultimatum that if a
satisfactory reply should not be received on or before the 20th November
hostilities would immediately commence. Meanwhile military preparations
were actively pushed forward. The scheme of operations was as follows:
three columns of invasion were to move simultaneously, one through the
Khyber Pass to Dakka, another through the Kuram valley, south of the
Khyber, with the Peiwar Pass as its objective, and a third from Quetta
into the Pisheen valley, to march forward to Candahar after reinforcement
by a division from Mooltan. To General Sir Sam Browne was assigned the
command of the Khyber column, consisting of about 10,000 men, with thirty
guns; to General Roberts the command of the Kuram valley column, of about
5,500 men, with twenty-four guns; and to General Biddulph the command of
the Quetta force, numbering some 6000 men, with eighteen guns. When
General Donald Stewart should bring up from Mooltan the division which
was being concentrated there, he was to command the whole southern force
moving on Candahar. The reserve division gathering at Hassan Abdul and
commanded by General Maude, would support the Khyber force; another
reserve division massing at Sukkur under General Primrose, would act in
support of the Candahar force; and a contingent contributed by the Sikh
Feudatory States and commanded by Colonel Watson, was to do duty on the
Kurum line of communication. The Generals commanding columns were to act
independently of each other, taking instructions direct from Army and
Government headquarters.

No answer to the ultimatum was received from the Ameer, and on the
morning of November 21st Sir Sam Browne crossed the Afghan frontier and
moved up the Khyber on Ali Musjid with his third and fourth brigades and
the guns. Overnight he had detached Macpherson's and Tytler's brigades
with the commission to turn the Ali Musjid position by a circuitous
march, the former charged to descend into the Khyber Pass in rear of the
fortress, and block the escape of its garrison; the latter instructed to
find, if possible, a position on the Rhotas heights on the proper left of
the fortress from which a flank attack might be delivered. About noon Sir
Sam reached the Shagai ridge and came under a brisk fire from the guns of
Ali Musjid, to which his heavy cannon and Manderson's horse-battery
replied with good results. The Afghan position, which was very strong,
stretched right athwart the valley from an entrenched line on the right
to the Rhotas summit on the extreme left. The artillery duel lasted about
two hours, and then Sir Sam determined to advance, on the expectation
that the turning brigades had reached their respective objectives. He
himself moved forward on the right upland; on the opposite side of the
Khyber stream Appleyard led the advance of his brigade against the Afghan
right. No co-operation on the part of the turning brigades had made
itself manifest up till dusk; the right brigade had been brought to a
halt in face of a precipitous cliff crowned by the enemy, and it was
wisely judged that to press the frontal attack further in the meantime
would involve a useless loss of life. Sir Sam therefore halted, and sent
word to Appleyard to stay for the night his further advance, merely
holding the ridge which he had already carried. But before this order
reached him Appleyard was sharply engaged with the enemy in their
entrenched position, and in the fighting which occurred before the
retirement was effected two officers were killed, a third wounded, and a
good many casualties occurred among the rank and file of the native
detachments gallantly assailing the Afghan entrenchments.

Early next morning offensive operations were about to be resumed, when a
young officer of the 9th Lancers brought intelligence that the Afghan
garrison had fled under cover of night, whereupon the fort was promptly
occupied. The turning brigades had been delayed by the difficult country
encountered, but detachments from both had reached Kata Kustia in time to
capture several hundred fugitives of the Ali Musjid garrison. The mass of
it, however--its total strength was about 4000 men--effected a retreat by
the Peshbolak track from the right of the entrenched position. Sir Sam
Browne's advance to Dakka was made without molestation, and on 20th
December he encamped on the plain of Jellalabad, where he remained
throughout the winter, Maude's reserve division keeping open his
communications through the Khyber Pass. The hill tribes, true to their
nature, gave great annoyance by their continual raids, and several
punitive expeditions were sent against them from time to time, but seldom
with decisive results. The tribesmen for the most part carried off into
the hills their moveable effects, and the destruction of their petty
forts apparently gave them little concern. For the most part they
maintained their irreconcilable attitude, hanging on the flanks of our
detachments on their return march through the lateral passes to their
camps, and inflicting irritating if not very severe losses. Occasionally
they thought proper to make nominal submission with tongue in cheek,
breaking out again when opportunity or temptation presented itself.
Detailed description of those raids and counter-raids would be very
tedious reading. It was when starting to co-operate in one of those
necessary but tantalising expeditions that a number of troopers of the
10th Hussars were drowned in a treacherous ford of the Cabul river near

General Roberts, to whom the conduct of operations in the Kuram district
had been entrusted, crossed the frontier on November 21st, and marched up
the valley with great expedition. The inhabitants evinced friendliness,
bringing in live stock and provisions for sale. Reaching Habib Killa on
the morning of the 28th, he received a report that the Afghan force which
he knew to be opposed to him had abandoned its guns on the hither side of
the Peiwar Kotul, and was retreating in confusion over that summit.
Roberts promptly pushed forward in two columns. Building on the erroneous
information that the enemy were in a hollow trying to withdraw their
guns--in reality they were already in their entrenched position on the
summit of the Kotul--he ordered Cobbe's (the left) column to turn the
right of the supposed Afghan position, and debar the enemy from the
Kotul, while the other column (Thelwall's) was ordered to attack in
front, the object being to have the enemy between two fires. Cobbe's
leading regiment near the village of Turrai found its advance blocked by
precipices, and a withdrawal was ordered, the advantage having been
attained of forcing the enemy to disclose the position which he was
holding. Further reconnaissances proved that the Afghan line of defence
extended along the crest of a lofty and broken mountainous range from the
Spingawai summit on the left to the Peiwar Kotul on the right centre, the
right itself resting on commanding elevations a mile further south. The
position had a front in all of about four miles. It was afterwards
ascertained to have been held by about 3500 regulars and a large number
of tribal irregulars. General Roberts' force numbered about 3100 men.

His scheme of operations he explained to his commanding officers on the
evening of December 1st. With the bulk of the force he himself was to
make a circuitous night march by his right on the Spingawai Kotul, with
the object of turning that position and taking the main Afghan position
on the Peiwar Kotul in reverse; while Brigadier Cobbe, with whom were to
remain the 8th (Queen's) and 5th Punjaub Infantry regiments, a cavalry
regiment and six guns, was instructed to assail the enemy's centre when
the result of the flank attack on his left should have made itself

The turning column, whose advance the General led in person, consisted of
the 29th N. I. (leading), 5th Goorkhas, and a mountain battery, all under
Colonel Gordon's command; followed by a wing of the 72d Highlanders, 2d
Punjaub Infantry, and 23d Pioneers, with four guns on elephants, under
Brigadier Thelwall. The arduous march began at ten P.M. Trending at first
rearward to the Peiwar village, the course followed was then to the
proper right, up the rugged and steep Spingawai ravine. In the darkness
part of Thelwall's force lost its way, and disappeared from ken. Further
on a couple of shots were fired by disaffected Pathans in the ranks of
the 29th N. I. That regiment was promptly deprived of the lead, which was
taken by the Goorkha regiment, and the column toiled on by a track
described by General Roberts as 'nothing but a mass of stones, heaped
into ridges and furrowed into deep hollows by the action of the water.'
Day had not broken when the head of the column reached the foot of the
steep ascent to the Spingawai Kotul. The Goorkhas and the 72d rushed
forward on the first stockade. It was carried without a pause save to
bayonet the defenders, and stockade after stockade was swept over in
rapid and brilliant succession. In half-an-hour General Roberts was in
full possession of the Spingawai defences, and the Afghan left flank was
not only turned but driven in. Cobbe was ordered by signal to co-operate
by pressing on his frontal attack; and Roberts himself hurried forward on
his enterprise of rolling up the Afghan left and shaking its centre. But
this proved no easy task. The Afghans made a good defence, and gave
ground reluctantly. They made a resolute stand on the further side of a
narrow deep-cut ravine, to dislodge them from which effort after effort
was ineffectually made. The General then determined to desist from
pressing this line of attack, and to make a second turning movement by
which he hoped to reach the rear of the Afghan centre. He led the 72d
wing, three native regiments, and ten guns, in a direction which should
enable him to threaten the line of the Afghan retreat. Brigadier Cobbe
since morning had been steadily although slowly climbing toward the front
of the Peiwar Kotul position. After an artillery duel which lasted for
three hours the Afghan fire was partially quelled; Cobbe's infantry
pushed on and up from ridge to ridge, and at length they reached a crest
within 800 yards of the guns on the Kotul, whence their rifle fire
compelled the Afghan gunners to abandon their batteries. Meanwhile
Roberts' second turning movement was developing, and the defenders of the
Kotul placed between two fires and their line of retreat compromised,
began to waver. Brigadier Cobbe had been wounded, but Colonel Drew led
forward his gallant youngsters of the 8th, and after toilsome climbing
they entered the Afghan position, which its defenders had just abandoned,
leaving many dead, eighteen guns, and a vast accumulation of stores and
ammunition. Colonel H. Gough pursued with his cavalry, and possessed
himself of several more guns which the Afghans had relinquished in their
precipitate flight. The decisive success of the Peiwar Kotul combat had
not cost heavily; the British losses were twenty-one killed and
seventy-two wounded.

His sick and wounded sent back to Fort Kuram, General Roberts advanced to
Ali Khel, and thence made a reconnaissance forward to the Shutargurdan
Pass, whose summit is distant from Cabul little more than fifty miles.
Its height is great--upwards of 11,200 feet--but it was regarded as not
presenting serious obstacles to the advance by this route of a force from
the Kuram valley moving on Cabul. A misfortune befell the baggage guard
on one of the marches in the trans-Peiwar region when Captains Goad and
Powell lost their lives in a tribal onslaught. The somewhat chequered
experiences of General Roberts in the Khost valley need not be told in
detail. After some fighting and more marching he withdrew from that
turbulent region altogether, abjuring its pestilent tribesmen and all
their works. The Kuram force wintered in excellent health spite of the
rigorous climate, and toward the end of March 1879 its forward
concentration about Ali Kheyl was ordered, which was virtually
accomplished before the snow had melted from the passes in the later
weeks of April. Adequate transport had been got together and supplies
accumulated; Colonel Watson's contingent was occupying the posts along
the valley; and General Roberts was in full readiness promptly to obey
the orders to advance which he had been led to expect, and on which his
brother-general Sir Sam Browne had already acted to some extent.

The march on Candahar of the two divisions under the command of General
Stewart had the character, for the most part, of a military promenade.
The tramp across the deserts of Northern Beloochistan was arduous; the
Bolan, the Gwaga, and the Kojuk passes had to be surmounted, and the
distances which both Biddulph and Stewart had to traverse were immensely
in excess of those covered by either of the forces operating from the
north-western frontier line. But uneventful marches, however long and
toilsome, do not call for detailed description. Stewart rode into
Candahar on January 8th, 1879, and the troops as they arrived encamped on
the adjacent plain. The Governor and most of his officials, together with
the Afghan cavalry, had fled toward Herat; the Deputy-Governor remained
to hand over the city to General Stewart. For commissariat reasons one
division under Stewart presently moved by the Cabul road on
Khelat-i-Ghilzai, which was found empty, the Afghan garrison having
evacuated it. Simultaneously with Stewart's departure from Candahar
Biddulph marched out a column westward toward the Helmund, remaining in
that region until the third week in February. On its return march to
Candahar the rear-guard had a sharp skirmish at Khushk-i-Nakhud with
Alizai tribesmen, of whom 163 were left dead on the field. Soon after the
return of Stewart and Biddulph to Candahar, orders arrived that the
former should retain in Candahar, Quetta, and Pishin a strong division of
all arms, sending back to India the remainder of his command under
Biddulph--the march to be made by the previously unexplored Thal-Chotiali
route to the eastward of the Pisheen valley.

Before Sir Sam Browne moved forward from Jellalabad to Gundamuk he had
been able to report to the Viceroy the death of Shere Ali. That
unfortunate man had seen with despair the departure on December 10th of
the last Russian from Cabul--sure token that he need hope for nothing
from Kaufmann or the Tzar. His chiefs unanimous that further resistance
by him was hopeless, he released his son Yakoub Khan from his long harsh
imprisonment, constituted him Regent, and then followed the Russian
mission in the direction of Tashkend. Kaufmann would not so much as allow
him to cross the frontier, and after a painful illness Shere Ali died on
February 21st, 1879, near Balkh in northern Afghanistan. He was a man who
deserved a better fate than that which befell him. His aspiration was to
maintain the independence of the kingdom which he ruled with justice if
also with masterfulness, and he could not brook the degradation of
subjection. But, unfortunately for him, he was the 'earthen pipkin' which
the 'iron pot' found inconvenient. There had been plenty of manhood
originally in his son and successor Yakoub Khan, but much of that
attribute had withered in him during the long cruel imprisonment to which
he had been subjected by his father. Shere Ali's death made him nominal
master of Afghanistan, but the vigour of his youth-time no longer
characterised him. He reigned but did not rule, and how precarious was
his position was evidenced by the defection of many leading chiefs who
came into the English camps and were ready to make terms.

After the flight of Shere Ali some correspondence had passed between
Yakoub Khan and Major Cavagnari, but the former had not expressed any
willingness for the re-establishment of friendly relations. In February
of his own accord he made overtures for a reconciliation, and soon after
intimated the death of his father and his own accession to the Afghan
throne. Major Cavagnari, acting on the Viceroy's authorisation, wrote to
the new sovereign stating the terms on which the Anglo-Indian Government
was prepared to engage in negotiations for peace. Yakoub temporised for
some time, but influenced by the growing defection of the Sirdars from
his cause, as well as by the forward movements of the forces commanded by
Browne and Roberts, he intimated his intention of visiting Gundamuk in
order to discuss matters in personal conference with Major Cavagnari. A
fortnight later he was on his way down the passes.

Instructions had been given by the Viceroy that Yakoub Khan should be
received in the British camp with all honour and distinction. When his
approach was announced on May 8th, Cavagnari and a number of British
officers rode out to meet him; when he reached the camp, a royal salute
greeted him, a guard of honour presented arms, and Sir Sam Browne and his
staff gave him a ceremonious welcome. Cavagnari had full powers to
represent his Government in the pending negotiations, as to the terms of
which he had received from the Viceroy detailed instructions. The Ameer
and his General-in-Chief, Daoud Shah, came to the conference attired in
Russian uniforms. The negotiations were tedious, for the Ameer, his
Minister, and his General made difficulties with a somewhat elaborate
stupidity, but Cavagnari as a diplomatist possessed the gift of being at
once patient and firm; and at length on May 26th the treaty of peace was
signed, and formally ratified by the Viceroy four days later. By the
treaty of Gundamuk Afghanistan was deprived for the time of its
traditional character of a 'buffer state,' and its Ameer became virtually
a feudatory of the British Crown. He was no longer an independent prince;
although his titular rank and a nominal sovereignty remained to him, his
position under its articles was to be analogous to that of the mediatised
princes of the German Empire. The treaty vested in the British Government
the control of the external relations of Afghanistan. The Ameer consented
to the residence of British Agents within his dominions, guaranteeing
their safety and honourable treatment, while the British Government
undertook that its representatives should not interfere with the internal
administration of the country. The districts of Pisheen, Kuram, and Sibi
were ceded to the British Government along with the permanent control of
the Khyber and Michnai passes, and of the mountain tribes inhabiting the
vicinity of those passes; all other Afghan territory in British
occupation was to be restored. The obligations to which the treaty
committed the British Government were that it should support the Ameer
against foreign aggression with arms, money, or troops at its discretion,
and that it should pay to him and his successor an annual subsidy of
£60,000. Commercial relations between India and Afghanistan were to be
protected and encouraged; a telegraph line between Cabul and the Kuram
was forthwith to be constructed; and the Ameer was to proclaim an amnesty
relieving all and sundry of his subjects from punishment for services
rendered to the British during the war.

That the treaty of Gundamuk involved our Indian Empire in serious
responsibilities is obvious, and those responsibilities were the more
serious that they were vague and indefinite, yet none the less binding on
this account. It is probable that its provisions, if they had remained in
force, would have been found in the long run injurious to the interests
of British India. For that realm Afghanistan has the value that its
ruggedness presents exceptional obstacles to the march through it of
hostile armies having the Indian frontier for their objective, and this
further and yet more important value that the Afghans by nature are frank
and impartial Ishmaelites, their hands against all foreigners alike, no
matter of what nationality. If this character be impaired, what virtue
the Afghan has in our eyes is lost. In his implacable passion for
independence, in his fierce intolerance of the Feringhee intruder, he
fulfils in relation to our Indian frontier a kindred office to that
served by abattis, _cheveux de frise,_ and wire entanglements in front of
a military position. The short-lived treaty, for which the sanguine Mr
Stanhope claimed that it had gained for England 'a friendly, an
independent, and a strong Afghanistan,' may now be chiefly remembered
because of the circumstance that it gave effect for the moment to Lord
Beaconsfield's 'scientific frontier.'

The withdrawal of the two northern forces to positions within the new
frontier began immediately on the ratification of the treaty of Gundamuk,
the evacuation of Candahar being postponed for sanitary reasons until
autumn. The march of Sir Sam Browne's force from the breezy upland of
Gundamuk down the passes to Peshawur, made as it was in the fierce heat
of midsummer through a region of bad name for insalubrity, and pervaded
also by virulent cholera, was a ghastly journey. That melancholy
pilgrimage, every halting-place in whose course was marked by graves, and
from which the living emerged 'gaunt and haggard, marching with a
listless air, their clothing stiff with dried perspiration, their faces
thick with a mud of dust and sweat through which their red bloodshot eyes
looked forth, many suffering from heat prostration,' dwells in the memory
of British India as the 'death march,' and its horrors have been
recounted in vivid and pathetic words by Surgeon-Major Evatt, one of the
few medical officers whom, participating in it, it did not kill.


There were many who mistrusted the stability of the treaty of Gundamuk.
Perhaps in his heart Sir Louis Cavagnari may have had his misgivings, for
he was gifted with shrewd insight, and no man knew the Afghan nature
better; but outwardly, in his quiet, resolute manner, he professed the
fullest confidence. Cavagnari was a remarkable man. Italian and Irish
blood commingled in his veins. Both strains carry the attributes of
vivacity and restlessness, but Cavagnari to the superficial observer
appeared as phlegmatic as he was habitually taciturn. This sententious
imperturbability was only on the surface; whether it was a natural
characteristic or an acquired manner is not easy to decide. Below the
surface of measured reticent composure there lay a temperament of ardent
enthusiasm, and not less ardent ambition. In subtlety he was a match for
the wiliest Oriental, whom face to face he dominated with a placid
dauntless masterfulness that was all his own. The wild hill tribes among
whom he went about escortless, carrying his life continually in his hand,
recognised the complex strength of his personal sway, and feared at once
and loved the quiet, firm man, the flash of whose eye was sometimes
ominous, but who could cow the fiercest hillman without losing a tittle
of his cool composure.

[Illustration: _From a Photograph by Bourne & Shepherd: Sir Louis
Cavagnari and Sirdars_]

Cavagnari had negotiated the treaty of Gundamuk, the real importance of
which consisted in the Afghan acceptance of a British Resident at Cabul.
The honour, the duty, and the danger naturally fell to him of being the
first occupant of a post created mainly by his own mingled tact and
strength. Many of his friends regarded him in the light of the leader of
a forlorn hope, and probably Cavagnari recognised with perfect clearness
the risks which encompassed his embassy; but apart from mayhap a little
added gravity in his leave-takings when he quitted Simla, he gave no
sign. It was not a very imposing mission at whose head he rode into the
Balla Hissar of Cabul on July 24th, 1879. His companions were his
secretary, Mr William Jenkins, a young Scotsman of the Punjaub Civil
Service, Dr Ambrose Kelly, the medical officer of the embassy, and the
gallant, stalwart young Lieutenant W. R. P. Hamilton, V.C., commanding
the modest escort of seventy-five soldiers of the Guides. It was held
that an escort so scanty was sufficient, since the Ameer had pledged
himself personally for the safety and protection of the mission. The
Envoy was received with high honour, and conducted to the roomy quarters
in the Balla Hissar which had been prepared as the Residency, within easy
distance of the Ameer's palace. Unquestionably the mission was welcome
neither to the Afghan ruler nor to the people, but Cavagnari, writing to
the Viceroy, made the best of things. The arrival at the adjacent Sherpur
cantonments of the Herat regiments in the beginning of August was
extremely unfortunate for the mission. Those troops had been inspired by
their commander Ayoub Khan with intense hatred to the English, and they
marched through the Cabul streets shouting objurgations against the
British Envoy, and picking quarrels with the soldiers of his escort. A
pensioned sepoy who had learned that the Afghan troops had been ordered
to abuse the Eltchi, warned Cavagnari of the danger signals. Cavagnari's
calm remark was, 'Dogs that bark don't bite.' The old soldier earnestly
urged, 'But these dogs do bite, and there is danger.' 'Well,' said
Cavagnari, 'they can only kill the handful of us here, and our death will
be avenged.' The days passed, and it seemed that Cavagnari's diagnosis of
the situation was the accurate one. The last words of his last message to
the Viceroy, despatched on September 2d, were 'All well.' The writer of
those words was a dead man, and his mission had perished with him, almost
as soon as the cheerful message borne along the telegraph wires reached
its destination.

In the morning of September 3d some Afghan regiments paraded without arms
in the Balla Hissar to receive their pay. An instalment was paid, but the
soldiers clamoured for arrears due. The demand was refused, a riot began,
and the shout rose that the British Eltchi might prove a free-handed
paymaster. There was a rush toward the Residency, and while some of the
Afghan soldiers resorted to stone-throwing, others ran for arms to their
quarters, and looted the Arsenal in the upper Balla Hissar. The Residency
gates had been closed on the first alarm, and fire was promptly opened on
the rabble. The place was never intended for defence, commanded as it was
at close range from the higher level of the Arsenal, whence a heavy
continuous fire was from the first poured down. The mob of the city in
their thousands hurried to co-operate with the mutinied soldiers and
share in the spoils of the sack, so that the Residency was soon besieged.
As soon as the outbreak manifested itself Cavagnari had sent a message to
the Ameer, and the communication admittedly reached the latter's hands.
He had more than 2000 troops in the Balla Hissar, still at least
nominally loyal; he had guaranteed the protection of the mission, and it
behoved him to do what in him lay to fulfil his pledge. But the Ameer sat
supine in his palace, doing no more than send his General-in-Chief Daoud
Shah to remonstrate with the insurgents. Daoud Shah went on the errand,
but it is questionable whether he showed any energy, or indeed desired
that the besiegers should desist. It was claimed by and for him that he
was maltreated and indeed wounded by the mob, and it appears that he did
ride into the throng and was forcibly dismounted. He might perhaps have
exerted himself with greater determination if he had received more
specific orders from his master the Ameer. That feeble or treacherous
prince never stirred. To the frequent urgent messages sent him by
Lieutenant Hamilton, he replied vaguely: 'As God wills; I am making
preparations.' Meanwhile the little garrison maintained with gallant
staunchness hour after hour the all but hopeless defence.' While the
fighting was going on,' reported the pensioner who had previously warned
Cavagnari, 'I myself saw the four European officers charge out at the
head of some twenty-five of the garrison; they drove away a party holding
some broken ground. When chased, the Afghan soldiers ran like sheep
before a wolf. Later, another sally was made by a detachment, with but
three officers at their head. Cavagnari was not with them this time. A
third sally was made with only two officers leading, Hamilton and
Jenkins; and the last of the sallies was made by a Sikh Jemadar bravely
leading. No more sallies were made after this.' About noon the gates were
forced, and the Residency building was fired; but the defenders long
maintained their position on the roof and in a detached building. At
length the fire did its work, the walls and roof fell in, and soon the
fell deed was consummated by the slaughter of the last survivors of the
ill-fated garrison. Hamilton was said to have died sword in hand in a
final desperate charge. Tidings of the massacre were carried with great
speed to Massy's outposts in the Kuram valley. The news reached Simla by
telegraph early on the morning of the 5th. The authorities there rallied
from the shock with fine purposeful promptitude, and within a few hours a
telegram was on its way to General Massy's headquarters at Ali Khel
instructing him to occupy the crest of the Shutargurdan Pass with two
infantry regiments and a mountain battery, which force was to entrench
itself there and await orders.

The policy of which Lord Lytton was the figurehead had come down with a
bloody crash, and the 'masterly inactivity' of wise John Lawrence stood
vindicated in the eyes of Europe and of Asia. But if his policy had gone
to water, the Viceroy, although he was soon to default from the constancy
of his purpose, saw for the present clear before him the duty that now in
its stead lay upon him of inflicting summary punishment on a people who
had ruthlessly violated the sacred immunity from harm that shields alike
among civilised and barbarous communities the person and suite of an
ambassador accepted under the provisions of a deliberate treaty. Burnes
and Macnaghten had met their fate because they had gone to Cabul the
supporters of a detested intruder and the unwelcome representatives of a
hated power. But Cavagnari had been slaughtered notwithstanding that he
dwelt in the Balla Hissar Residency in virtue of a solemn treaty between
the Empress of India and the Ameer of Afghanistan, notwithstanding that
the latter had guaranteed him safety and protection, notwithstanding that
Britain and Afghanistan had ratified a pledge of mutual friendship and
reciprocal good offices. Lord Lytton recognised, at least for the moment,
that no consideration of present expediency or of ulterior policy could
intervene to deter him from the urgent imperative duty which now suddenly
confronted him. The task, it was true, was beset with difficulties and
dangers. The forces on the north-western frontier had been reduced to a
peace footing, and the transport for economical reasons had been severely
cut down. The bitter Afghan winter season was approaching, during which
military operations could be conducted only under extremely arduous
conditions, and when the line of communications would be liable to
serious interruptions, The available troops for a prompt offensive did
not amount to more than 6500 men all told, and it was apparent that many
circumstances might postpone their reinforcement.

When men are in earnest, difficulties and dangers are recognised only to
be coped with and overcome. When the Simla council of war broke up on the
afternoon of September 5th the plan of campaign had been settled, and the
leader of the enterprise had been chosen. Sir Frederick Roberts was
already deservedly esteemed one of the most brilliant soldiers of the
British army. He had fought with distinction all through the Great
Mutiny, earning the Victoria Cross and rapid promotion; he had served in
the Abyssinian campaign of 1868, and been chosen by Napier to carry home
his final despatches; and he had worthily shared in the toil, fighting,
and honours of the Umbeyla and Looshai expeditions. In his command of the
Kuram field force during the winter of 1878-9 he had proved himself a
skilful, resolute, and vigorous leader. The officers and men who served
under him believed in him enthusiastically, and, what with soldiers is
the convincing assurance of whole-souled confidence, they had bestowed on
him an affectionate nickname--they knew him among themselves as 'little
Bobs.' His administrative capacity he had proved in the post of
Quartermaster-General in India. Ripe in experience of war, Roberts at the
age of forty-seven was in the full vigour of manhood, alert in mind, and
of tough and enduring physique. He was a very junior Major-General, but
even among his seniors the conviction was general that Lord Lytton the
Viceroy, and Sir F. Haines the Commander-in-Chief, acted wisely in
entrusting to him the most active command in the impending campaign.

Our retention of the Kuram valley was to prove very useful in the
emergency which had suddenly occurred. Its occupation enabled Massy to
seize and hold the Shutargurdan, and the force in the valley was to
constitute the nucleus of the little army of invasion and retribution to
the command of which Sir Frederick Roberts was appointed. The apex at the
Shutargurdan of the salient angle into Afghanistan which our possession
of the Kuram valley furnished was within little more than fifty miles of
Cabul, whereas the distance of that city from Lundi Kotul, our advanced
position at the head of the Khyber Pass, was about 140 miles, and the
route exceptionally difficult. Roberts' column of invasion was to consist
of a cavalry brigade commanded by Brigadier-General Dunham-Massy, and of
two infantry brigades, the first commanded by Brigadier-General
Macpherson, the second by Brigadier-General Baker, three batteries of
artillery, a company of sappers and miners, and two Gatling guns. The
Kuram valley between the Shutargurdan and the base was to be garrisoned
adequately by a force about 4000 strong, in protection of Roberts'
communications by that line until snow should close it, by which time it
was anticipated that communication by the Khyber-Jellalabad-Gundamuk line
would be opened up, for gaining and maintaining which a force of about
6600 men was to be detailed under the command of Major-General Bright,
which was to furnish a movable column to establish communications onward
to Cabul. A strong reserve force was to be gathered between Peshawur and
Rawal Pindi under the command of Major-General Ross, to move forward as
occasion might require, in the south-west Sir Donald Stewart was to
recall to Candahar his troops, which, having begun their march toward
India, were now mainly echeloned along the route to Quetta, when that
General would have about 9000 men at his disposition to dominate the
Candahar province, reoccupy Khelat-i-Ghilzai, and threaten Ghuznee, his
communications with the Indus being kept open by a brigade of Bombay
troops commanded by Brigadier-General Phayre.

Sir Frederick Roberts left Simla on ET September along with Colonel
Charles Macgregor, C.B., the brilliant and daring soldier whom he had
chosen as chief of staff, and travelling night and day they reached Ali
Khel on the 12th. The transport and supply difficulty had to be promptly
met, and this was effected only by making a clean sweep of all the
resources of the Peshawur district, greatly but unavoidably to the
hindrance of the advance of the Khyber column, and by procuring carriage
and supplies from the friendly tribes of the Kuram. Notwithstanding the
most strenuous exertions it was not until the 1st October that Roberts'
little army, having crossed the Shutargurdan by detachments, was
rendezvoused at and about the village of Kushi in the Logur plain, within
forty-eight miles of Cabul. Some sharp skirmishes had been fought as the
troops traversed the rugged ground between Ali Khel and the Shutargurdan,
but the losses were trivial, although the General himself had a narrow
escape. A couple of regiments and four guns under the command of Colonel
Money were left in an entrenched camp to hold the Shutargurdan.

The massacre of the British mission had no sooner been perpetrated than
Yakoub Khan found himself in a very bad way. The Cabul Sirdars sided with
the disaffected soldiery, and urged the Ameer to raise his banner for a
_jehad_ or religious war, a measure for which he had no nerve. Nor had he
the nerve to remain in Cabul until Roberts should camp under the Balla
Hissar and demand of him an account of the stewardship he had undertaken
on behalf of the ill-fated Cavagnari. What reasons actuated the anxious
and bewildered man cannot precisely be known; whether he was simply
solicitous for his own wretched skin, whether he acted from a wish to
save Cabul from destruction, or whether he hoped that his entreaties for
delay might stay the British advance until the tribesmen should gather to
bar the road to the capital. He resolved to fly from Cabul, and commit
himself to the protection of General Roberts and his army. The day before
General Roberts arrived at Kushi the Ameer presented himself in Baker's
camp, accompanied by his eldest son and some of his Sirdars, among whom
was Daoud Shah the Commander-in-Chief of his army. Sir Frederick on his
arrival at Kushi paid a formal visit to the Ameer, which the latter
returned the same afternoon and took occasion to plead that the General
should delay his advance. The reply was that not even for a single day
would Sir Frederick defer his march on Cabul. The Ameer remained in camp,
his personal safety carefully protected, but under a species of
honourable surveillance, until it should be ascertained judicially
whether or not he was implicated in the massacre of the mission.

Yakoub had intimated his intention of presenting himself in the British
camp some days in advance of his arrival, and as telegraphic
communication with headquarters was open, his acceptance in the character
of an honoured guest was presumably in accordance with instructions from
Simla. The man who had made himself personally responsible for the safety
of Cavagnari's mission was a strange guest with an army whose avowed
errand was to exact retribution for the crime of its destruction. It
might seem not unreasonable to expect that, as an indispensable
preliminary to his entertainment, he should have at least afforded some
_prima facie_ evidence that he had been zealous to avert the fate which
had befallen the mission, and stern in the punishment of an atrocity
which touched him so nearly. But instead, he was taken on trust so fully
that Afghans resisting the British advance were not so much regarded as
enemies resisting an invasion and as constructive vindicators of the
massacre, as they were held traitors to their sovereign harbouring in the
British camp.

On the morning of October 2d the whole force marched from Kushi toward
Cabul, temporarily cutting loose from communication with the
Shutargurdan, to avoid diminishing the strength of the column by leaving
detachments to keep the road open. All told, Roberts' army was the
reverse of a mighty host. Its strength was little greater than that of a
Prussian brigade on a war footing. Its fate was in its own hands, for
befall it what might it could hope for no timely reinforcement. It was a
mere detachment marching against a nation of fighting men plentifully
supplied with artillery, no longer shooting laboriously with jezails, but
carrying arms of precision equal or little inferior to those in the hands
of our own soldiery. But the men, Europeans and Easterns, hillmen of
Scotland and hillmen of Nepaul, plainmen of Hampshire and plainmen of the
Punjaub, strode along buoyant with confidence and with health, believing
in their leader, in their discipline, in themselves. Of varied race, no
soldier who followed Roberts but came of fighting stock; ever blithely
rejoicing in the combat, one and all burned for the strife now before
them with more than wonted ardour, because of the opportunity it promised
to exact vengeance for a deed of foul treachery.

The soldiers had not long to wait for the first fight of the campaign. On
the afternoon of the 5th Baker's brigade, with most of the cavalry and
artillery, and with the 92d Highlanders belonging to Macpherson's
brigade, camped on the plain to the south of the village of Charasiah,
Macpherson remaining one march in rear to escort the convoy of ammunition
and stores. North of Charasiah rises a semicircular curtain of hills
ascending in three successive tiers, the most distant and loftiest range
closing in the horizon and shutting out the view of Cabul, distant only
about eleven miles. The leftward projection of the curtain, as one looks
northward, comes down into the plain almost as far as and somewhat to the
left of Charasiah, dividing the valley of Charasiah from the outer plain
of Chardeh. To the right front of Charasiah, distant from it about three
miles, the range is cleft by the rugged and narrow Sung-i-Nawishta Pass,
through which run the Logur river and the direct road to Cabul by Beni
Hissar. Information had been received that the Afghans were determined on
a resolute attempt to prevent the British force from reaching Cabul, and
the position beyond Charasiah seemed so tempting that it was regarded as
surprising that cavalry reconnaissances sent forward on three distinct
roads detected no evidences of any large hostile gathering.

But next morning 'showed another sight.' At dawn on the 6th General
Roberts, anxious to secure the Sung-i-Nawishta Pass and to render the
track through it passable for guns, sent forward his pioneer battalion
with a wing of the 92d and two mountain guns. That detachment had gone
out no great distance when the spectacle before it gave it pause. From
the Sung-i-Nawishta defile, both sides of which were held, the
semicircular sweep of the hill-crests was crowned by an Afghan host in
great strength and regular formation. According to subsequent information
no fewer than thirteen regiments of the Afghan regular army took part in
the combat, as well as large contingents of irregular fighting men from
Cabul and the adjoining villages, while the British camp was threatened
from the heights on either side by formidable bodies of tribesmen, to
thwart whose obviously intended attack on it a considerable force had to
be retained. The dispositions of the Afghan commander Nek Mahomed Khan
were made with some tactical skill. The Sung-i-Nawishta Pass itself, the
heights on either side, and a low detached eminence further forward, were
strongly held by Afghan infantry; in the mouth of the pass were four
Armstrong guns, and on the flanking height twelve mountain guns were in
position. The projecting spur toward Charasiah which was the extreme
right of the Afghan position, was held in force, whence an effective fire
would bear on the left flank of a force advancing to a direct attack on
the pass. But Roberts was not the man to play into the hands of the
Afghan tactician. He humoured his conception so far as to send forward on
his right toward the pass, a small detachment of all arms under Major
White of the 92d, with instructions to maintain a threatening attitude in
that direction, and to seize the opportunity to co-operate with the
flanking movement entrusted to General Baker as soon as its development
should have shaken the constancy of the enemy. To Baker with about 2000
infantry and four guns, was assigned the task of attacking the Afghan
right on the projecting spur and ridge, forcing back and dispersing that
flank; and then, having reached the right of the Afghan main position on
the farthest and loftiest range, he was to wheel to his right and sweep
its defenders from the chain of summits.

Baker moved out toward his left front against the eminences held by the
Afghan right wing, which Nek Mahomed, having discerned the character of
Roberts' tactics, was now reinforcing with great activity. The 72d
Highlanders led the attack, supported vigorously by the 5th Goorkhas and
the 5th Punjaub Infantry. The resistance of the Afghans was stubborn,
especially opposite our extreme left, whence from behind their sungahs on
a steep hill they poured a heavy fire on the assailants. A yet heavier
fire came from a detached knoll on Baker's right, which the artillery
fire gradually beat down. The Afghans continued to hold the advanced
ridge constituting their first position until two o'clock, when a direct
attack, accompanied by a double flanking fire, compelled their
withdrawal. They, however, fell back only to an intermediate loftier
position about 700 yards in rear of the ridge from which they had been
driven. Approached by successive rushes under cover-of artillery fire,
they were then attacked vigorously and fell back in confusion. No rally
was permitted them, and by three o'clock the whole Afghan right was
shattered and in full flight along the edge of the Chardeh valley. Baker
unfortunately had no cavalry, else the fugitives would have suffered
severely. But the rout of the Afghan right had decided the fortune of the
day. Its defenders were already dribbling away from the main position
when Baker, wheeling to his right, marched along the lofty crest, rolling
up and sweeping away the Afghan defence as he moved toward the
Sung-i-Nawishta gorge. That defile had already been entered by the
cavalry of White's detachment, supported by some infantry. While Baker
had been turning the Afghan right, White and his little force had been
distinguishing themselves not a little. After an artillery preparation
the detached hill had been won as the result of a hand-to-hand struggle.
Later had fallen into the hands of White's people all the Afghan guns,
and the heights to the immediate right and left of the gorge had been
carried, the defenders driven away, and the pass opened up. But the
progress through it of the cavalry was arrested by a strongly garrisoned
fort completely commanding the road. On this fort Baker directed his
artillery fire, at the same time sending down two infantry regiments to
clear away the remnants of the Afghan army still lingering in the pass.
This accomplished, the fighting ceased. It had been a satisfactory day.
Less than half of Roberts' force had been engaged, and this mere brigade
had routed the army of Cabul and captured the whole of the artillery it
had brought into the field. The Afghan loss was estimated at about 300
killed. The British loss was twenty killed and sixty-seven wounded. On
the night of the combat part of Baker's troops bivouacked beyond the
Sung-i-Nawishta, and on the following day the whole division passed the
defile and camped at Beni Hissar, within sight of the Balla Hissar and
the lofty ridge overhanging Cabul.

On the afternoon of the 7th a violent explosion was heard in the Beni
Hissar camp from the direction of the Sherpur cantonment north of Cabul,
near the site of the British cantonments of 1839-41. Next morning
information came in that the Sherpur magazine had been blown up, and that
the cantonment had been abandoned by the Afghan regiments which had
garrisoned that vast unfinished structure. General Massy led out part of
his brigade on a reconnaissance, and took possession of the deserted
Sherpur cantonment, and of the seventy-five pieces of ordnance parked
within the walls. Massy had observed from the Siah Sung heights that the
Asmai heights, overhanging the Cabul suburb of Deh Afghan, were held by a
large body of Afghan soldiery, a force, it was afterwards learned,
composed of the remnants of the regiments defeated at Charasiah, three
fresh regiments from the Kohistan, and the rabble of the city and
adjacent villages, having a total strength of nearly 3000 men, with
twelve guns, under the leadership of Mahomed Jan, who later was to figure
prominently as the ablest of our Afghan enemies. Massy heliographed his
information to General Roberts, who sent Baker with a force to drive the
enemy from the heights; and Massy was instructed to pass through a gap in
the ridge and gain the Chardeh valley, where he might find opportunity to
intercept the Afghan retreat toward the west. Massy pierced the ridge at
the village of Aushar, and disposed his troops on the roads crossing the
Chardeh valley. Meanwhile Baker found the ascent of the Sher Derwaza
heights so steep that the afternoon was far spent before his guns came
into action, and it was still later before part of his infantry effected
their descent into the Chardeh valley. Reinforcements necessary to enable
him to act did not reach him until dusk, when it would have been folly to
commit himself to an attack. A night patrol ascertained that the Afghans
had evacuated the position under cover of darkness, leaving behind their
guns and camp equipage. On the 9th the divisional camp moved forward to
the Siah Sung heights, a mile eastward from the Balla Hissar, and there
it was joined by Baker, and by Massy, who on his way to camp led his
wearied troopers through the city of Cabul without mishap or insult. The
Goorkha regiment was detached to hold the ridge commanding the Balla
Hissar, and a cavalry regiment was quartered in the Sherpur cantonment to
protect it from the ravages of the villagers.

A melancholy interest attaches to the visit paid by Sir Frederick Roberts
to the Balla Hissar on the 11th. Through the dirt and squalor of the
lower portion he ascended the narrow lane leading to the ruin which a few
weeks earlier had been the British Residency. The commander of the
avenging army looked with sorrowful eyes on the scene of heroism and
slaughter, on the smoke-blackened walls, the blood splashes on the
whitewashed walls, the still smouldering debris, the half-burned skulls
and bones in the blood-dabbled chamber where apparently the final
struggle had been fought out. He stood in the great breach in the
quarters of the Guides where the gate had been blown in after the last of
the sorties made by the gallant Hamilton, and lingered in the tattered
wreck of poor Cavagnari's drawing-room, its walls dinted with
bullet-pits, its floor and walls brutally defiled. Next day he made a
formal entry into the Balla Hissar, his road lined with his staunch
troops, a royal salute greeting the banner of Britain as it rose on the
tall flagstaff above the gateway. He held a Durbar in the 'Audience
Chamber' in the garden of the Ameer's palace; in front and in flank of
him the pushing throng of obsequious Sirdars of Cabul arrayed in all the
colours of the rainbow; behind them, standing immobile at attention, the
guard of British infantry with fixed bayonets which the soldiers longed
to use. The General read the mild proclamation announcing the disarmament
of the Cabulese and the punishment of fine which was laid upon the city,
but which never was exacted. And then he summarily dismissed the Sirdars,
three only, the Mustaphi, Yahuja Khan the Ameer's father-in-law, and
Zakariah Khan his brother, being desired to remain. Their smug
complacency was suddenly changed into dismay when they were abruptly told
that they were prisoners.

Another ceremonial progress the General had to perform. On the 13th he
marched through the streets of Cabul at the head of his little army, the
bazaars and dead walls echoing to the music of the bands and the wild
scream of the bagpipes. In the Afghan quarter no salaams greeted the
conquering Feringhees, and scowling faces frowned on the spectacle from
windows and side-streets. Three days later occurred an event which might
have been a great catastrophe. Captain Shafto of the ordnance was
conducting an examination into the contents of the arsenal in the upper
Balla Hissar, and had already discovered millions of cartridges, and
about 150,000 lbs. of gunpowder. Daoud Shah, however, expressed his
belief that at least a million pounds were in store. Captain Shafto, a
very cautious man, was pursuing his researches; the Goorkhas were
quartered in the upper Balla Hissar near the magazine shed, and the 67th
occupied the Ameer's garden lower down. On the 16th a dull report was
heard in the Siah Sung camp, followed immediately by the rising above the
Balla Hissar of a huge column of grey smoke, which as it drifted away
disclosed flashes of flame and sudden jets of smoke telling of repeated
gunpowder explosions. The 67th, powdered with dust, escaped all but
scathless; but the Goorkha regiment had been heavily smitten. Twelve poor
fellows were killed, and seven wounded; among the former were five
principal Goorkha officers.

The Balla Hissar was promptly evacuated. Occasional explosions occurred
for several days, the heaviest of those on the afternoon of the 16th,
which threw on the city a great shower of stones, beams, and bullets. By
a jet of stones blown out through the Balla Hissar gate four Afghans were
killed, and two sowars and an Afghan badly hurt. Captain Shafto's body
and the remains of the Goorkhas were found later, and buried; and the
determination was formed to have no more to do with the Balla Hissar, but
to occupy the Sherpur cantonment. Meanwhile General Hugh Gough was
despatched with a small force of all arms to escort to Cabul Money's
gallant garrison of the Shutargurdan, and to close for the winter the
line of communication _via_ the Kuram valley. Colonel Money had undergone
with fine soldierly spirit and action not a few turbulent experiences
since Roberts had left him and his Sikhs on the lofty crest of the
Shutargurdan. The truculent Ghilzais gave him no peace; his method of
dealing with them was for the most part with the bayonet point. The last
attempt on him was made by a horde of Ghilzais some 17,000 strong, who
completely invested his camp, and after the civility of requesting him to
surrender, a compliment which he answered by bullets, made a close and
determined attack on his position. This was on the 18th October; on the
following day Gough heliographed his arrival at Kushi, whereupon Money
took the offensive with vigour and scattered to the winds his Ghilzai
assailants. On 30th October the Shutargurdan position was evacuated, and
on the 3d November the Cabul force received the welcome accession of
headquarters and two squadrons 9th Lancers, Money's 3d Sikhs, and four
mountain guns.


Sir Frederick Roberts had been hurried forward on Cabul charged with the
duty of avenging the perpetration of a foul and treacherous crime, 'which
had brought indelible disgrace upon the Afghan nation.' The scriptural
injunction to turn the other cheek to the smiter has not yet become a
canon of international law or practice; and the anti-climax to an
expedition engaged in with so stern a purpose, of a nominal disarmament
and a petty fine never exacted, is self-evident. Our nation is given to
walk in the path of precedent; and in this juncture the authorities had
to their hand the most apposite of precedents. Pollock, by destroying the
Char bazaar in which had been exposed the mangled remains of Burnes and
Macnaghten, set a 'mark' on Cabul the memory of which had lasted for
decades. Cavagnari and his people had been slaughtered in the Balla
Hissar, and their bones were still mingled with the smouldering ruins of
the Residency. Wise men discerned that the destruction of the fortress
followed by a homeward march as swift yet as measured as had been the
march of invasion, could not but have made a deep and lasting impression
on the Afghans; while the complications, humiliations, and expense of the
long futile occupation would have been obviated. Other counsels
prevailed. To discover, in a nation virtually accessory as a whole after
the fact to the slaughter of the mission, the men on whom lay the
suspicion of having been the instigators and the perpetrators of the
cruel deed, to accord them a fair trial, and to send to the gallows those
on whose hands was found the blood of the massacred mission, was held a
more befitting and not less telling course of retributive action than to
raze the Balla Hissar and sow its site with salt. Skilfully and patiently
evidence was gathered, and submitted to the Military Commission which
General Roberts had appointed. This tribunal took cognisance of crimes
nominally of two classes. It tried men who were accused of having been
concerned in the destruction of the British mission, and those charged
with treason in having offered armed resistance to the British troops
acting in support of the Ameer, who had put himself under their
protection. Of the five prisoners first tried, condemned, and duly
hanged, two were signal criminals. One of them, the Kotwal or Mayor of
Cabul, was proved to have superintended the contumelious throwing of the
bodies of the slaughtered Guides of the mission escort into the ditch of
the Balla Hissar. Another was proved to have carried away from the
wrecked Residency a head believed to have been Cavagnari's, and to have
exhibited it on the ridge above the city. The other three and many of
those who were subsequently executed, suffered for the crime of 'treason'
against Yakoub Khan. Probably there was no Afghan who did not approve of
the slaughter of the Envoy, and who would not in his heart have rejoiced
at the annihilation of the British force; but it seems strange law and
stranger justice to hang men for 'treason' against a Sovereign who had
gone over to the enemy. On the curious expedient of temporarily governing
in the name of an Ameer who had deserted his post to save his skin,
comment would be superfluous. Executions continued; few, however, of the
mutinous sepoys who actually took part in the wanton attack on the
British Residency had been secured, and it was judged expedient that
efforts should be made to capture and punish those against whom there was
evidence of that crime, in the shape of the muster-rolls of the regiments
now in the possession of the military authorities. It was known that many
of the disbanded and fugitive soldiers had returned to their homes in the
villages around Cabul, and early in November General Baker took out a
force and suddenly encircled the village of Indikee, on the edge of the
Chardeh valley--a village reported full of Afghan sepoys. A number of men
were brought out by the scared headmen and handed over, answering to
their names called over from a list carried by Baker; and other villages
in the vicinity yielded a considerable harvest of disbanded soldiers.
Before the Commission the prisoners made no attempt to conceal their
names, or deny the regiments to which they had belonged; and forty-nine
of them were found guilty and hanged, nearly all of whom belonged to the
regiments that had assailed the Residency.

On 12th November Sir Frederick Roberts proclaimed an amnesty in favour of
all who had fought against the British troops, on condition that they
should surrender their arms and return to their homes; but exempted from
the benefit were all concerned in the attack on the Residency. The
amnesty was well timed, although most people would have preferred that
fewer sepoys and more Sirdars should have been hanged.

Our relations with the Ameer during the earlier part of his residence in
the British camp were not a little peculiar. Nominally he was our guest,
and a certain freedom was accorded to him and his retinue. There was no
doubt that the Sirdars of the Ameer's suite grossly abused their
privileges. Whether with Yakoub Khan's cognisance or not, they authorised
the use of his name by the insurgent leaders. Nek Mahomed, the insurgent
commander at Charasiah, was actually in the tents of the Ameer on the
evening before the fight. To all appearance our operations continued to
have for their ultimate object the restoration of Yakoub Khan to his
throne. Our administrative measures were carried on in his name. The
hostile Afghans we designated as rebels against his rule; and his
authority was proclaimed as the justification of much of our conduct. But
the situation gradually became intolerable to Yakoub Khan. He was a guest
in the British camp, but he was also in a species of custody. Should our
arms reinstate him, he could not hope to hold his throne. His harassed
perplexity came to a crisis on the morning of the 12th October, the day
of General Roberts' durbar in the Balla Hissar, which he had been desired
to attend. What he specifically apprehended is unknown; what he did was
to tell General Roberts, with great excitement, that he would not go to
the durbar, that his life was too miserable for long endurance, that he
would rather be a grass-cutter in the British camp than remain Ameer of
Afghanistan. He was firmly resolved to resign the throne, and begged that
he might be allowed to do so at once. General Roberts explained that the
acceptance of his resignation rested not with him but with the Viceroy,
pending whose decision matters, the General desired, should remain as
they were, affairs continuing to be conducted in the Ameer's name as
before. To this the Ameer consented; his tents were moved to the vicinity
of General Roberts' headquarters, and a somewhat closer surveillance over
him was maintained.

Secrecy meanwhile was preserved until the Viceroy's reply should arrive.
The nature of that reply was intimated by the proclamation which General
Roberts issued on the 28th October. It announced that the Ameer had of
his own free will abdicated his throne and left Afghanistan without a
government. 'The British Government,' the proclamation continued, 'now
commands that all Afghan authorities, chiefs, and sirdars, do continue
their functions in maintaining order ... The British Government, after
consultation with the principal sirdars, tribal chiefs, and others
representing the interests and wishes of the various provinces and
cities, will declare its will as to the future permanent arrangements to
be made for the good government of the people.'

This _ad interim_ assumption of the rulership of Afghanistan may have
been adopted as the only policy which afforded even a remote possibility
of tranquillity. But it was essentially a policy of speculative
makeshift. The retributive and punitive object of the swift march on
Cabul can scarcely be regarded as having been fulfilled by the execution
of a number of subordinate participants and accessories in the
destruction of the mission and by the voluntary abdication of Yakoub
Khan. That the Afghan 'authorities, chiefs, and sirdars,' would obey the
command to 'maintain order' issued by the leader of a few thousand
hostile troops, masters of little more than the ground on which they were
encamped, experience and common sense seemed alike to render improbable.
The Afghans subordinated their internal quarrels to their common hatred
of the masterful foreigners, and the desperate fighting of December
proved how fiercely they were in earnest.

Yakoub Khan had been regarded as merely a weak and unfortunate man, but
the shadows gradually darkened around him until at length he came to be a
man under grave suspicion. General Roberts became satisfied from the
results of the proceedings of the court of inquiry, that the attack on
the Residency, if not actually instigated by him, might at least have
been checked by active exertion on his part. Information was obtained
which convinced the General that the ex-Ameer was contemplating a flight
toward Turkestan, and it was considered necessary to place him in close
confinement. He remained a close prisoner until December 1st. On the
early morning of that day he was brought out from his tent, and after
taking farewell of the General and his staff, started on his journey to
Peshawur, surrounded by a strong escort. If the hill tribes along his
route had cared enough about him to attempt his rescue, the speed with
which he travelled afforded them no time to gather for that purpose.

During those uneventful October and November days, when the little army
commanded by General Roberts lay in its breezy camp on the Siah Sung
heights, there was no little temptation for the unprofessional reader of
the telegraphic information in the newspapers to hold cheap those
reputedly formidable Afghans, whose resistance a single sharp skirmish
had seemingly scattered to the winds, and who were now apparently
accepting without active remonstrance the dominance of the few thousand
British bayonets glittering there serenely over against the once
turbulent but now tamed hill capital. One may be certain that the shrewd
and careful soldier who commanded that scant array did not permit himself
to share in the facile optimism whether on the part of a government or of
the casual reader of complacent telegrams. It was true that the
Government of India had put or was putting some 30,000 soldiers into the
field on the apparent errand of prosecuting an Afghan war. But what
availed Roberts this host of fighting men when he had to realise that,
befall him what might in the immediate or near future, not a man of it
was available to strengthen or to succour him? The quietude of those cool
October days was very pleasant, but the chief knew well how precarious
and deceitful was the calm. For the present the Afghan unanimity of
hostility was affected in a measure by the fact that the Ameer, who had
still a party, was voluntarily in the British camp. But when Yakoub's
abdication should be announced, he knew the Afghan nature too well to
doubt that the tribal blood-feuds would be soldered for the time, that
Dooranee and Barakzai would strike hands, that Afghan regulars and Afghan
irregulars would rally under the same standards, and that the fierce
shouts of 'Deen! deen!' would resound on hill-top and in plain. Cut loose
from any base, with slowly dwindling strength, with waning stock of
ammunition, it was his part to hold his ground here for the winter, he
and his staunch soldiers, a firm rock in the midst of those surging
Afghan billows that were certain to rise around him. Not only would he
withstand them, but he would meet them, for this bold man knew the value
in dealing with Afghans of a resolute and vigorous offensive. But it
behoved him above all things to make timely choice of his winter quarters
where he should collect his supplies and house his troops and the
followers. After careful deliberation the Sherpur cantonment was
selected. It was overlarge for easy defence, but hard work, careful
engineering, and steadfast courage would redeem that evil. And Sherpur
had the great advantage that besides being in a measure a ready-made
defensive position, it had shelter for all the European troops and most
of the native soldiery, and that it would accommodate also the horses of
the cavalry, the transport animals, and all the needful supplies and

An Afghan of the Afghans, Shere Ali nevertheless had curiously failed to
discern that the warlike strength of the nation which he ruled lay in its
intuitive aptitude for irregular fighting; and he had industriously set
himself to the effort of warping the combative genius of his people and
of constituting Afghanistan a military power of the regular and
disciplined type. He had created a large standing army the soldiery of
which wore uniforms, underwent regular drill, obeyed words of command,
and carried arms of precision. He had devoted great pains to the
manufacture of a formidable artillery, and what with presents from the
British Government and the imitative skill of native artificers he was
possessed at the outbreak of hostilities of several hundred cannon. His
artisans were skillful enough to turn out in large numbers very fair
rifled small-arms, which they copied from British models; and in the
Balla Hissar magazine were found by our people vast quantities of
gunpowder and of admirable cartridges of local manufacture. There were
many reasons why the Cabul division of Shere Ali's army should be
quartered apart from his turbulent and refractory capital, and why its
cantonment should take the form of a permanent fortified camp, in which
his soldiers might be isolated from Cabul intrigues, while its proximity
to the capital should constitute a standing menace to the conspirators of
the city. His original design apparently was to enclose the Behmaroo
heights within the walls of his cantonment, and thus form a great
fortified square upon the heights in the centre of which should rise a
strong citadel dominating the plain in every direction. The Sherpur
cantonment as found by Roberts consisted of a fortified enciente,
enclosing on two sides a great open space in the shape of a parallelogram
lying along the southern base of the Behmaroo heights. When the British
troops took possession, only the west and south faces of the enciente
were completed; although not long built those were already in bad repair,
and the explosion of the great magazine when the Afghan troops abandoned
the cantonment had wrecked a section of the western face. The eastern
face had been little more than traced, and the northern side had no
artificial protection, but was closed in by the Behmaroo heights, whose
centre was cleft by a broad and deep gorge. The design of the enciente
was peculiar. There was a thick and high exterior wall of mud, with a
banquette for infantry protected by a parapet. Inside this wall was a dry
ditch forty feet wide, on the inner brink of which was the long range of
barrack-rooms. Along the interior front of the barrack-rooms was a
verandah faced with arches supported by pillars, its continuity broken
occasionally by broad staircases conducting to the roof of the barracks,
which afforded a second line of defence. The closing in of the verandah
would of course give additional barrack accommodation, but there were
quarters in the barrack-rooms for at least all the European troops. In
the southern face of the enciente were three gateways, and in the centre
of the western face there was a fourth, each gate covered adequately by a
curtain. Between each gate were semicircular bastions for guns. In the
interior there was space to manoeuvre a division of all arms. There was a
copious supply of water, and if the aspect of the great cantonment was
grim because of the absence of trees and the utter barrenness of the
enclosed space, this aesthetic consideration went for little against its
manifest advantages as snug and defensible winter quarters. Shere Ali had
indeed been all unconsciously a friend in need to the British force
wintering in the heart of that unfortunate potentate's dominions. Human
nature is perverse and exacting, and there were those who objurgated his
memory because he had constructed his cantonment a few sizes too large to
be comfortably defended by Sir Frederick Roberts' little force. But this
was manifestly unreasonable; and in serious truth the Sherpur cantonment
was a real godsend to our people. Supplies of all kinds were steadily
being accumulated there, and the woodwork of the houses in the Balla
Hissar was being carried to Sherpur for use as firewood. On the last day
of October the force quitted the Siah Sung position and took possession
of Sherpur, which had undergone a rigorous process of fumigation and
cleansing. The change was distinctly for the better. The force was
compacted, and the routine military duties were appreciably lightened
since there were needed merely piquets on the Behmaroo heights and
sentries on the gates; the little army was healthy, temperate, and in
excellent case in all respects.

The dispositions for field service made at the outset of the campaign by
the military authorities have already been detailed. Regarded simply as
dispositions they left nothing to be desired, and certainly Sir Frederick
Roberts' force had been organised and equipped with a fair amount of
expedition. But it was apparent that the equipment of that body of 6500
men--and that equipment by no means of an adequate character, had
exhausted for the time the resources of the Government as regarded
transport and supplies. Promptitude of advance on the part of the force
to which had been assigned the line of invasion by the Khyber-Jellalabad
route, was of scarcely less moment than the rapidity of the stroke which
Roberts was commissioned to deliver. The former's was a treble duty. One
of its tasks was to open up and maintain Roberts' communications with
India, so that the closing of the Shutargurdan should not leave him
isolated. Another duty resting on the Khyber force was to constitute for
Roberts a ready and convenient reserve, on which he might draw when his
occasions demanded. No man could tell how soon after the commencement of
his invasion that necessity might arise; it was a prime _raison d'être_
of the Khyber force to be in a position to give him the hand when he
should intimate a need for support. Yet again, its presence in the passes
dominantly thrusting forward, would have the effect of retaining the
eastern tribes within their own borders, and hindering them from joining
an offensive combination against the little force with which Roberts was
to strike at Cabul. But delay on delay marked the mobilisation and
advance of the troops operating in the Khyber line. There was no lack of
earnestness anywhere; the eagerness to push on was universal from the
commander to the corporal. But the barren hills and rugged passes could
furnish no supplies; the base had to furnish everything, and there was
nothing at the base, neither any accumulation of supplies nor means to
transport supplies if they had been accumulated. Weeks elapsed before the
organisation of the force approached completion, and it was only by a
desperate struggle that General Charles Gough's little brigade received
by the end of September equipment sufficient to enable that officer to
advance by short marches. Roberts was holding his durbar in the Balla
Hissar of Cabul on the day that the head of Gough's advance reached
Jellalabad. No man can associate the idea of dawdling with Jenkins and
his Guides, yet the Guides reaching Jellalabad on October 12th were not
at Gundamuk until the 23d, and Gundamuk is but thirty miles beyond
Jellalabad. The anti-climax for the time of General Bright's exertions
occurred on November 6th. On that day he with Gough's brigade reached so
far Cabulward as Kutti Sung, two marches beyond Gundamuk. There he met
General Macpherson of Roberts' force, who had marched down from Cabul
with his brigade on the errand of opening communications with the head of
the Khyber column. The two brigades had touch of each other for the
period of an interview between the Generals, and then they fell apart and
the momentary union of communication was disrupted. General Bright had to
fall back toward Gundamuk for lack of supplies. The breach continued open
only for a few days, and then it was closed, not from down country but
from up country. Roberts, surveying the rugged country to the east of
Cabul, had discerned that the hill road toward Jugdulluk by Luttabund,
was at once opener and shorter than the customary tortuous and overhung
route through the Khoord Cabul Pass and by Tezeen. The pioneers were set
to work to improve the former. The Luttabund road became the habitual
route along which, from Cabul downwards, were posted detachments
maintaining the communications of the Cabul force with the Khyber column
and India. Nearly simultaneous with this accomplishment was the
accordance to Sir Frederick Roberts of the local rank of
Lieutenant-General, a promotion which placed him in command of all the
troops in Eastern Afghanistan down to Jumrood, and enabled him to order
up reinforcements from the Khyber column at his discretion, a power he
refrained from exercising until the moment of urgent need was impending.

After his interview at Kutti Sung with General Bright, Macpherson, before
returning to Cabul, made a short reconnaissance north of the Cabul river
toward the Lughman valley and into the Tagao country inhabited by the
fanatic tribe of the Safis. From his camp at Naghloo a foraging party,
consisting of a company of the 67th escorting a number of camels and
mules, moved westward toward a village near the junction of the Panjshir
and Cabul rivers, there to obtain supplies of grain and forage. The
little detachment on its march was suddenly met by the fire of about 1000
Sari tribesmen. Captain Poole, observing that the tribesmen were moving
to cut him off, withdrew his party through a defile in his rear, and
taking cover under the river bank maintained a steady fire while the
camels were being retired. The Safis were extremely bold and they too
shot very straight. Captain Poole was severely wounded and of his handful
of fifty-six men eight were either killed or wounded, but their comrades
resolutely held their position until reinforcements came out from the
camp. The Safis, who retired with dogged reluctance, were not finally
routed until attacked by British infantry in front and flank. After they
broke the cavalry pursued them for six miles, doing severe execution; the
dead of the 67th were recovered, but the poor fellows had been mutilated
almost past recognition. General Macpherson returned to Sherpur on the
20th November, having left a strong garrison temporarily at Luttabund to
strengthen communications and open out effectually the new route

General Roberts, with all his exertions, had been unable to accumulate
sufficient winter of grain for his native troops and forage for his
cavalry and baggage animals. Agents had been purchasing supplies in the
fertile district of Maidan, distant from Cabul about twenty-five miles in
the Ghuznee direction, but the local people lacked carriage to convey
their stocks into camp, and it was necessary that the supplies should be
brought in by the transport of the force. The country toward Ghuznee was
reported to be in a state of disquiet, and a strong body of troops was
detailed under the command of General Baker for the protection of the
transport. This force marched out from Sherpur on November 21st, and next
day camped on the edge of the pleasant Maidan plain. Baker encountered
great difficulties in collecting supplies. The villages readily gave in
their tribute of grain and forage, but evinced extreme reluctance to
furnish the additional quantities which our necessities forced us to
requisition. With the villagers it was not a question of money; the
supplies for which Baker's commissaries demanded money in hand
constituted their provision for the winter season. But the stern maxim of
war is that soldiers must live although villagers starve, and this much
may be said in our favour that we are the only nation in the world which,
when compelled to resort to forced requisitions, invariably pays in hard
cash and not in promissory notes. Baker's ready-money tariff was far
higher than the current rates, but nevertheless he had to resort to
strong measures. In one instance he was defied outright. A certain
Bahadur Khan inhabiting a remote valley in the Bamian direction, refused
to sell any portion of his great store of grain and forage, and declined
to comply with a summons to present himself in Baker's camp. It was known
that he was under the influence of the aged fanatic Moulla the
Mushk-i-Alum, who was engaged in fomenting a tribal rising, and it was
reported that he was affording protection to a number of the fugitive
sepoys of the ex-Ameer's army. A political officer with two squadrons of
cavalry was sent to bring into camp the recalcitrant Bahadur Khan. His
fort and village were found prepared for a stubborn defence. Received
with a heavy fire from a large body of men while swarms of hostile
tribesmen showed themselves on the adjacent hills, the horsemen had to
withdraw. It was judged necessary to punish the contumacious chief and to
disperse the tribal gathering before it should make more head, and Baker
led out a strong detachment in light marching order. There was no
fighting, and the only enemies seen were a few tribesmen, who drew off
into the hills as the head of Baker's column approached. Fort, villages,
and valley were found utterly deserted. There were no means to carry away
the forage and grain found in the houses, so the villages belonging to
Bahadur Khan were destroyed by fire. Their inhabitants found refuge in
the surrounding villages, and there was absolutely no foundation for the
statements which appeared in English papers to the effect that old men,
women, and children were turned out to die in the snow. In the words of
Mr Hensman, a correspondent who accompanied the column: 'There were no
old men, women, and children, and there was no snow.' British officers
cannot be supposed to have found pleasure, on the verge of the bitter
Afghan winter, in the destruction of the hovels and the winter stores of
food belonging to a number of miserable villagers; but experience has
proved that only by such stern measures is there any possibility of
cowing the rancour of Afghan tribesmen. No elation can accompany an
operation so pitiless, and the plea of stern necessity must be advanced
alike and accepted with a shudder. Of the necessity of some such form of
reprisals an example is afforded in an experience which befell General
Baker a few days later in this same Maidan region. He visited the village
of Beni-Badam with a small cavalry escort. The villagers with every
demonstration of friendliness entertained the officers and men with milk
and fruit, and provided corn and forage for their horses. There were only
old men in the village with the women and children, but no treachery was
suspected until suddenly two large bodies of armed men were seen hurrying
to cut off the retreat, and it was only by hard fighting that the General
with his escort succeeded in escaping from the snare. Next day he
destroyed the village. Baker probably acted on general principles, but
had he cared for precedents he would have found them in the conduct of
the Germans in the Franco-Prussian war. He remained in the Maidan
district until the transport of the army had brought into Sherpur all the
supplies which he had succeeded in obtaining in that region, and then
returned to the cantonment.

By the terms of the proclamation which he issued on the 28th October Sir
Frederick Roberts was announced as the dominant authority for the time
being in Eastern and Northern Afghanistan. He occupied this position just
as far as and no further than he could make it good. And he could make it
good only over a very circumscribed area. Even more than had been true of
Shah Soojah's government forty years previously was it true of Roberts'
government now that it was a government of sentry-boxes. He was firm
master of the Sherpur cantonment. General Hills, his nominee, held a
somewhat precarious sway in Cabul in the capacity of its Governor,
maintaining his position there in virtue of the bayonets of his military
guard, the support of the adjacent Sherpur, and the waiting attitude of
the populace of the capital. East of Cabul the domination of Britain was
represented by a series of fortified posts studding the road to Gundamuk,
whence to Jumrood the occupation was closer, although not wholly
undisturbed. When a column marched out from Sherpur the British power was
dominant only within the area of its fire zone. The stretch of road it
vacated as it moved on ceased to be territory over which the British held
dominion. This narrowly restricted nature of his actual sway Sir
Frederick Roberts could not but recognise, but how with a force of 7000
men all told was it possible for him to enlarge its borders? One
expedient suggested itself which could not indeed extend the area of his
real power, but which might have the effect, to use a now familiar
expression, of widening the sphere of his influence. From among the
Sirdars who had regarded it as their interest to cast in their lot with
the British, he selected four to represent him in the capacity of
governors of provinces which his bayonets were not long enough to reach.
The experiment made it disagreeably plain that the people of the
provinces to which he had deputed governors were utterly indisposed to
have anything to do either with them or with him. The governors went in
no state, they had no great sums to disburse, they were protected by no
armed escorts, and they were regarded by the natives much as the Southern
states of the American Union after the Civil War regarded the 'carpet
bag' governors whom the North imposed upon them. The Logur Governor was
treated with utter contempt. The Kohistanees despitefully used Shahbaz
Khan, and when a brother of Yakoub Khan was sent to use his influence in
favour of the worried and threatened governor, he was reviled as a
'Kafir' and a 'Feringhee,' and ordered peremptorily back to Sherpur if he
had any regard for his life. Sirdar Wali Mahomed, the governor-nominate
to the remote Turkestan, found pretext after pretext for delaying to
proceed to take up his functions, and had never quitted the British camp.
When Baker returned from Maidan he reported that he had left the district
peaceful in charge of the governor whom he had installed, the venerable
and amiable Hassan Khan. Baker's rear-guard was scarcely clear of the
valley when a mob of tribesmen and sepoys attacked the fort in which the
old Sirdar was residing, shot him through the head, and then hacked his
body to pieces. It was too clear that governors unsupported by bayonets,
and whose only weapons were tact and persuasiveness, were at an extreme
discount in the condition which Afghanistan presented in the end of
November and the beginning of December.


The invader of Afghanistan may count as inevitable a national rising
against him, but the Afghans are a people so immersed in tribal quarrels
and domestic blood feuds that the period of the outbreak is curiously
uncertain. The British force which placed Shah Soojah on the throne and
supported him there, was in Afghanistan for more than two years before
the waves of the national tempest rose around it. The national
combination against Roberts' occupation was breaking its strength against
the Sherpur defences while as yet the Cabul field force had not been
within sight of the capital for more than two months. There seems no
relation between opportunity and the period of the inevitable outburst.
If in November 1841 the Cabul Sirdars had restrained themselves for a few
days longer two more regiments would have been following on Sale's track,
and the British force in the cantonments would have been proportionately
attenuated. Roberts might have been assailed with better chance of
success when his force was dispersed between the Siah Sung camp, the
Balla Hissar, and Sherpur, than when concentrated in the strong defensive
position against which the Afghans beat in vain. Perhaps the rising
ripened faster in 1879 than in 1841 because in the former period no
Macnaghten fomented intrigues and scattered gold. Perhaps Shere Ali's
military innovations may have instilled into the masses of his time some
rough lessons in the art and practice of speedy mobilisation. The
crowning disgrace of 1842 was that a trained army of regular soldiers
should have been annihilated by a few thousand hillmen, among whom there
was no symptom either of real valour or of good leadership. To Roberts
and his force attaches the credit of having defeated the persistent and
desperate efforts of levies at least ten times superior in numbers, well
armed, far from undisciplined, courageous beyond all experience of Afghan
nature, and under the guidance of a leader who had some conception of
strategy, and who certainly was no mean tactician.

In the Afghan idiosyncrasy there is a considerable strain of practical
philosophy. The blood of the massacred mission was not dry when it was
recognised in Cabul that stern retribution would inevitably follow. Well,
said the Afghans among themselves, what must be must be, for they are all
fatalists. The seniors recalled the memory of the retribution Pollock
exacted--how he came, destroyed Istalif, set a 'mark' on Cabul by sending
the great bazaar in fragments into the air, and then departed. This time
Istalif was not compromised; if Roberts Sahib should be determined to
blow up the Char Chowk again, why, that infliction must be endured. It
had been rebuilt after Pollock Sahib's engineers had worked their will on
it; it could be rebuilt a second time when Roberts Sahib should have
turned his back on the city, as pray God and the Prophet he might do with
no more delay than Pollock Sahib had made out yonder on the Logur plain.
So after a trial of Roberts' mettle at Charasiah, and finding the testing
sample not quite to their taste, the Afghans fell into an attitude of
expectancy, and were mightily relieved by his proclamation read at the
Balla Hissar durbar of October 12th. After a reasonable amount of hanging
and the exaction of the fine laid on the city, it was assumed that he
would no doubt depart so as to get home to India before the winter snows
should block the passes. But the expected did not happen. The British
General established a British Governor in Cabul who had a heavy hand, and
policed the place in a fashion that stirred a lurid fury in the bosoms of
haughty Sirdars who had been wont to do what seemed good in their own
eyes. He engaged in the sacrilegious work of dismantling the Balla
Hissar, the historic fortress of the nation, within whose walls were the
royal palace and the residences of the principal nobles. Those were
bitter things, but they could be borne if they were mere temporary
inflictions, and if the hated Feringhees would but take themselves away
soon. But that hope was shattered by the proclamation of October 28th,
when the abdication of the Ameer was intimated and the British _raj_ in
Afghanistan was announced. Yes, that pestilent _zabardasti_ little
General, who would not follow the example of good old Pollock Sahib, and
who held Yakoub Khan and sundry of his Sirdars in close imprisonment in
his camp, had now the insolence to proclaim himself virtually the Ameer
of Afghanistan! Far from showing symptom of budging, he was sending out
his governors into the provinces, he was gathering tribute in kind, and
he had taken possession of Shere Ali's monumental cantonment, under the
shadow of the Behmaroo heights on which Afghan warriors of a past
generation had slaughtered the Feringhee soldiers as if they had been
sheep; and it was the Feringhee General's cantonment now, which he was
cunningly strengthening as if he meant to make it his permanent fortress.

Yakoub Khan had gained little personal popularity during his brief and
troubled reign, but he was an Afghan and a Mahomedan; and his deportation
to India, followed shortly afterwards by that of his three Ministers,
intensified the rancour of his countrymen and co-religionists against the
handful of presumptuous foreigners who arrogantly claimed to sway the
destinies of Afghanistan. _Cherchez la femme_ is the keynote among
Western peoples of an investigation into the origin of most troubles and
strifes; the watchword of the student of the springs of great popular
outbursts among Eastern nations must be _Cherchez les prêtres_. The Peter
the Hermit of Afghanistan was the old Mushk-i-Alum, the fanatic Chief
Moulla of Ghuznee. This aged enthusiast went to and fro among the tribes
proclaiming the sacred duty of a _Jehad_ or religious war against the
unbelieving invaders, stimulating the pious passions of the followers of
the Prophet by fervent appeals, enjoining the chiefs to merge their
intestine strifes in the common universal effort to crush the foreign
invaders of the Afghan soil. The female relatives of the abdicated Ameer
fomented the rising by appeals to popular sympathy, and by the more
practical argument of lavish distribution of treasure. The flame spread,
tribesmen and disbanded soldiers sprang to arms, the banner of the
Prophet was unfurled, and the nation heaved with the impulse of
fanaticism. Musa Khan, the boy heir of Yakoub, was in the hands of the
Mushk-i-Alum, and the combination of fighting tribes found a competent
leader in Mahomed Jan, a Warduk general of proved courage and capacity.
The plan of campaign was comprehensive and well devised. The contingent
from the country to the south of the capital, from Logur, Zurmat, and the
Mangal and Jadran districts, was to seize that section of the Cabul ridge
extending from Charasiah northward to the cleft through which flows the
Cabul river. The northern contingent from the Kohistan and Kohdaman was
to occupy the Asmai heights and the hills further to the north-west;
while the troops from the Maidan and Warduk territories, led by Mahomed
Jan in person, were to come in from the westward across the Chardeh
valley, take possession of Cabul, and rally to their banners the
disaffected population of the capital and the surrounding villages. The
concentration of the three bodies effected, the capital and the ridge
against which it leans occupied, the next step would be the investment of
the Sherpur cantonment, preparatory to an assault upon it in force.

The British general through his spies had information of those projects.
To allow the projected concentration to be effected would involve serious
disadvantages, and both experience and temperament enjoined on Roberts
the offensive. The Logur contingent was regarded as not of much account,
and might be headed back by a threat. Mahomed Jan's force, which was
reckoned some 5000 strong, needed to be handled with greater vigour. Meer
Butcha and his Kohistanees were less formidable, and might be dealt with
incidentally. Roberts took a measure of wise precaution in telegraphing
to Colonel Jenkins on the 7th December to march his Guides (cavalry and
infantry) from Jugdulluk to Sherpur.

On the 8th General Macpherson was sent out toward the west with a column
consisting of 1300 bayonets, three squadrons, and eight guns. Following
the Ghuznee road across the Chardeh valley, he was to march to Urgundeh,
in the vicinity of which place it was expected that he would find Mahomed
Jan's levies, which he was to attack and drive backward on Maidan, taking
care to prevent their retreat to the westward in the direction of Bamian.
On the following day General Baker marched out with a force made up of
900 infantrymen, two and a half squadrons, and four guns, with
instructions to march southward toward the Logur valley, deal with the
tribal gathering there, then bend sharply in a south-westerly direction
and take up a position across the Ghuznee road in the Maidan valley on
the line of retreat which it was hoped that Macpherson would succeed in
enforcing on Mahomed Jan. In that case the Afghan leader would find
himself between two fires, and would be punished so severely as to render
it unlikely that he would give further trouble. To afford time for Baker
to reach the position assigned to him Macpherson remained halted during
the 9th at Aushar, a village just beyond the debouche of the Nanuchee
Pass, at the north-western extremity of the Asmai heights. On that day a
cavalry reconnaissance discovered that the Kohistanee levies in
considerable strength had already gathered about Karez Meer, some ten
miles north-west of Cabul, and that masses of Afghans presumably
belonging to the force of Mahomed Jan were moving northward in the
Kohistan direction, apparently with the object of joining Meer Butcha's
gathering at Karez. It was imperative that the latter should be dispersed
before the junction could be effected, and Sir Frederick Roberts had no
option but to order Macpherson to alter his line of advance and move
against the Kohistanees. Necessary as was this divergence from the
original plan of operation, it had the effect of sending to wreck the
combined movement from which so much was hoped, and of bringing about a
very critical situation. If Lockhart's reconnaissance had been made a day
earlier, Macpherson might probably have utilised to good purpose by
dispersing the Kohistanees, the day which as it was he spent halted at
Aushar. He might have accomplished that object equally well if, instead
of the cavalry reconnaissance made by Lockhart, Macpherson himself had
been instructed to devote the 9th to a reconnaissance in force in the
direction of Karez Meer.

[Illustration: Map of Cabul and surroundings.]

The country being held unsuited for the action of wheeled artillery and
cavalry, Macpherson left his details of those arms at Aushar, and marched
on the morning of the 10th on Karez with his infantry and mountain guns.
As his troops crowned the Surkh Kotul they saw before them an imposing
spectacle. The whole terrain around Karez swarmed with masses of armed
tribesmen, whose banners were flying on every hillock. Down in the
Pughman valley to the left rear, were discerned bodies of the hostile
contingent from the west, between which and the Kohistanees no junction
had fortunately as yet been made. Macpherson's dispositions were simple.
His mountain guns shelled with effect the Kohistanee tribesmen, and then
he moved forward from the Surkh Kotul in three columns. His skirmishers
drove back the forward stragglers, and then the main columns advancing at
the double swept the disordered masses before them, and forced them
rearward into their intrenched position in front of the Karez village.
There the resistance was half-hearted. After a brief artillery
preparation the columns carried the position with a rush, and the
Kohistanees were routed with heavy loss. Meer Butcha and his Kohistanees
well beaten, Macpherson camped for the night near Karez. Baker had
reached his assigned position in the Maidan valley, and there seemed a
fair prospect that the operation against Mahomed Jan as originally
designed might be carried out notwithstanding the interruption to its
prosecution which had been found necessary. For there was good reason to
believe that the Afghan commander and his force, whose strength was
estimated at about 5000 men, were in the vicinity of Urgundeh, about
midway between Macpherson at Karez and Baker in the Maidan valley. If
Mahomed Jan would be so complaisant as to remain where he was until
Macpherson could reach him, then Roberts' strategy would have a
triumphant issue, and the Warduk general and his followers might be
relegated to the category of negligable quantities.

Orders were sent to Macpherson to march as early as possible on the
morning of the 11th, follow up the enemy who had been observed retiring
toward the west and south, and endeavour to drive them down toward
General Baker. He was further informed that the cavalry and
horse-artillery which he had left at Aushar would leave that village at
nine A.M. under the command of Brigadier-General Massy, and would cross
the Chardeh valley by the Urgundeh road, on which he was directed to join
them on his march. The specific instructions given to General Massy were
as follows: 'To advance from Aushar by the road leading directly from the
city of Cabul toward Urgundeh and Ghuznee' (the main Ghuznee road), 'to
proceed cautiously and quietly feeling for the enemy, to communicate with
General Macpherson, and to act in conformity with that officer's
movements, but on no account to commit himself to an action until General
Macpherson had engaged the enemy.'

Macpherson marched at eight A.M., moving in a south-westerly direction
toward Urgundeh by a direct track in rear of the range of hills bounding
the western edge of the Chardeh valley. To the point at which it was
probable that he and Massy should meet he had considerably further to
travel than had the latter from the Aushar camp, and Macpherson's force
consisted of infantry while that of Massy was cavalry and
horse-artillery. Massy left Aushar at nine A.M. in consideration of the
shorter distance he had to traverse, and he headed for Killa Kazee, a
village near the foothills of the western ridge about four miles from
Aushar as the crow flies. He did not comply with the letter of his
instructions to follow the Ghuznee road because of the wide detour
marching by it would have involved, but instead made his way straight
across country. That he should have done this was unfortunate, since the
time he thus gained threw him forward into a position involving danger in
advance of any possible co-operation on the part of Macpherson, who was
still far away from the point of intended junction while Massy was
comparatively near it. Massy's force consisted of two squadrons 9th
Lancers and a troop of 14th Bengal Lancers, escorting four
horse-artillery guns. He had detached a troop of 9th Lancers to endeavour
to open communication with Macpherson, in compliance with his
instructions. As he approached Killa Kazee, Captain Gough commanding the
troop of 9th Lancers forming the advance guard, sent back word that the
hills on either side of the Ghuznee road some distance beyond the village
were occupied by the enemy in considerable force. Massy, in his
unsupported condition and destitute of any information as to Macpherson's
whereabouts, would have shown discretion by halting on receipt of this
intelligence pending further developments. But he probably believed that
the Afghans flanking the road were casual tribesmen from the adjacent
villages who were unlikely to make any stand, and he determined to move

What he presently saw gave him pause. A great mass of Afghans some 2000
strong were forming across the Ghuznee road. From the hills to right and
left broad streams of armed men were pouring down the hillslopes and
forming on the plain. The surprise was complete, the situation full of
perplexity. That gathering host in Massy's front could be none other than
Mahomed Jan's entire force. So far from being in retreat southward and
westward, so far from waiting supinely about Urgundeh until Macpherson as
per programme should drive it on to the muzzles of Baker's Martinis, here
it was inside our guard, in possession of the interior line, its front
facing toward turbulent Cabul and depleted Sherpur, with no obstruction
in its path save this handful of lancers and these four guns! Massy's
orders, it was true, were to act in conformity with Macpherson's
movements, and on no account to commit himself to an action until that
officer had engaged the enemy. Yes, but could the framer of those orders
have anticipated the possibility of such a position as that in which
Massy now found himself? There was no Macpherson within ken of the
perplexed cavalryman, nor the vaguest indication of his movements. The
enemy had doubled on that stout and shrewd soldier; it was clear that for
the moment he was not within striking distance of his foe, whether on
flank or on rear. No course of action presented itself to Massy that was
not fraught with grave contingencies. If he should keep to the letter of
his orders, the Afghan host might be in Cabul in a couple of hours.
Should he retire slowly, striving to retard the Afghan advance by his
cannon fire and by the threatening demonstrations of his cavalry, the
enemy might follow him up so vigorously as to be beyond Macpherson's
reach when that officer should make good his point in the direction of
Urgundeh. If on the other hand he should show a bold front, and departing
from his orders in the urgent crisis face to face with which he found
himself should strain every nerve to 'hold' the Afghan masses in their
present position, there was the possibility that, at whatever sacrifice
to himself and his little force, he might save the situation and gain
time for Macpherson to come up and strike Mahomed Jan on flank and in

For better or for worse Massy committed himself to the rasher enterprise,
and opened fire on the swiftly growing Afghan masses. The first range was
held not sufficiently effective, and in the hope by closer fire of
deterring the enemy from effecting the formation they were attempting,
the guns were advanced to the shorter ranges of 2500 and 2000 yards. The
shells did execution, but contrary to precedent did not daunt the
Afghans. They made good their formation under the shell fire. Mahomed
Jan's force had been estimated of about 5000 strong; according to Massy's
estimate it proved to be double that number. The array was well led; it
never wavered, but came steadily on with waving banners and loud shouts.
The guns had to be retired; they came into action again, but owing to the
rapidity of the Afghan advance at shorter range than before. The carbine
fire of thirty dismounted lancers 'had no appreciable effect.' The
outlook was already ominous when at this moment Sir Frederick Roberts
came on the scene. As was his wont, he acted with decision. The action,
it was clear to him, could not be maintained against odds so overwhelming
and in ground so unfavourable. He immediately ordered Massy to retire
slowly, to search for a road by which the guns could be withdrawn, and to
watch for an opportunity to execute a charge under cover of which the
guns might be extricated. He despatched an aide-de-camp in quest of
Macpherson, with an order directing that officer to wheel to his left
into the Chardeh valley and hurry to Massy's assistance; and he ordered
General Hills to gallop to Sherpur and warn General Hugh Gough, who had
charge in the cantonment, to be on the alert, and also to send out at
speed a wing of the 72d to the village of Deh Mazung, in the throat of
the gorge of the Cabul river, which the Highlanders were to hold to

The enemy were coming on, the guns were in imminent danger, and the
moment had come for the action of the cavalry. The gallant Cleland gave
the word to his lancers and led them straight for the centre of the
Afghan line, the troop of Bengal Lancers following in support. Gough,
away on the Afghan left, saw his chief charging and he eagerly
'conformed,' crushing in on the enemy's flank at the head of his troop.
'Self-sacrifice' the Germans hold the duty of cavalry; and there have
been few forlorner hopes than the errand on which on this ill-starred day
our 200 troopers rode into the heart of 10,000 Afghans flushed with
unwonted good fortune. Through the dust-cloud of the charge were visible
the flashes of the Afghan volleys and the sheen of the British lance
heads as they came down to the 'engage.' There was a short interval of
suspense, the stour and bicker of the _mêlée_ faintly heard, but
invisible behind the bank of smoke and dust. Then from out the cloud of
battle riderless horses came galloping back, followed by broken groups of
troopers. Gallantly led home, the charge had failed--what other result
could have been expected? Its career had been blocked by sheer weight of
opposing numbers. Sixteen troopers had been killed, seven were wounded,
two officers had been slain in the hand-to-hand strife. Cleland came out
with a sword cut and a bullet wound. Captain Stewart Mackenzie had been
crushed under his fallen horse, but distinguished himself greatly, and
brought the regiment out of action. As the dust settled it was apparent
that the charge had merely encouraged the enemy, who as they steadily
pressed on in good order, were waving their banners in triumph and
brandishing their tulwars and knives. The fire from the Sniders and
Enfields of their marksmen was well directed and deliberate. While
Cleland's broken troopers were being rallied two guns were brought into
action, protected in a measure by Gough's troop and the detachment of
Bengal Lancers, which had not suffered much in the charge. But the
Afghans came on so ardently that there was no alternative but prompt
retreat. One gun had to be spiked and abandoned, Lieutenant Hardy of the
Horse Artillery remaining by it until surrounded and killed. Some 500
yards further back, near the village of Baghwana, the three remaining
guns stuck fast in a deep watercourse. At General Roberts' instance a
second charge was attempted, to give time for their extrication; but it
made no head, so that the guns had to be abandoned, and the gunners and
drivers with their teams accompanied the retirement of the cavalry. Some
fugitives both of cavalry and artillery hurried to the shelter of the
cantonment somewhat precipitately; but the great majority of Massy's
people behaved well, rallying without hesitation and constituting the
steady and soldierly little body with which Roberts, retiring on Deh
Mazung as slowly as possible to give time for the Highlanders from
Sherpur to reach that all-important point, strove to delay the Afghan
advance. This in a measure was accomplished by the dismounted fire of the
troopers, and the retirement was distinguished by the steady coolness
displayed by Cough's men and Neville's Bengal Lancers. Deh Mazung was
reached, but no Highlanders had as yet reached that place. The carbines
of the cavalrymen were promptly utilised from the cover the village
afforded; but they could not have availed to stay the Afghan rush. There
was a short interval of extreme anxiety until the 200 men of the 72d,
Brownlow leading them, became visible advancing at the double through the
gorge. 'It was literally touch and go who should reach the village first,
the Highlanders or the Afghans,' who were streaming toward it 'like ants
on a hill,' but the men of the 72d swept in, and swarming to the house
tops soon checked with their breechloaders the advancing tide. After
half-an-hour of futile effort the Afghans saw fit to abandon the attempt
to force the gorge, and inclining to their right they occupied the
Takht-i-Shah summit, the slopes of the Sher Derwaza heights, and the
villages in the south-eastern section of the Chardeh valley.

Macpherson, marching from the Surkh Kotul toward Urgundeh, had observed
parties of Afghans crossing his front in the direction of the Chardeh
valley, and when the sound reached him of Massy's artillery fire he
wheeled to his left through a break in the hills opening into the Chardeh
valley, and approached the scene of the discomfiture of Massy's force.
This he did at 12.30 P.M., four and a half hours after leaving the Surkh
Kotul. As the length of his march was about ten miles, it may be assumed
that he encountered difficulties in the rugged track by which he moved,
for Macpherson was not the man to linger by the way when there was the
prospect of a fight. Had it been possible for him to have marched two
hours earlier than he did--and his orders were to march as early as
possible--his doing so would have made all the difference in the world to
Massy, and could scarcely have failed to change the face of the day. He
did not discover the lost guns, but he struck the Afghan rear, which was
speedily broken and dispersed by the 67th and 3d Sikhs. Macpherson's
intention to spend the night at Killa Kazee was changed by the receipt of
an order from General Roberts calling him in to Deh Mazung, where he
arrived about nightfall. Sir Frederick Roberts then returned to Sherpur,
for the defence of which General Hugh Gough had made the best
dispositions in his power, and the slender garrison of which was to
receive in the course of the night an invaluable accession in the shape
of the Guides, 900 strong, whom Jenkins had brought up by forced marches
from Jugdulluk.

The misfortunes of the day were in a measure retrieved by a well-timed,
ready-witted, and gallant action on the part of that brilliant and
lamented soldier Colonel Macgregor. A wing of the 72d had been called out
to hold the gorge of the Cabul river, but the Nanuchee Pass, through
which led the direct road from the scene of the combat to Sherpur,
remained open; and there was a time when the Afghan army was heading in
its direction. Macgregor had hurried to the open pass in time to rally
about him a number of Massy's people, who had lost their officers and
were making their way confusedly toward the refuge of Sherpur. Remaining
in possession of this important point until all danger was over, he
noticed that the ground about Bagwana, where the guns had been abandoned,
was not held by the enemy, and there seemed to him that the opportunity
to recover them presented itself. Taking with him a detachment of lancers
and artillerymen, he rode out and met with no molestation beyond a few
shots from villagers. From Macpherson's baggage guard, met as it crossed
the valley toward Sherpur, he requisitioned sixty infantrymen who entered
and held Bagwana, and covered him and the gunners during the long and
arduous struggle to extricate the guns from their lair in the deep and
rugged watercourse. This was at length accomplished, scratch teams were
improvised, and the guns, which were uninjured although the ammunition
boxes had been emptied, were brought into the cantonment to the general

The result of the day's operations left General Baker momentarily
belated. But on the morning of the 11th that officer, finding that no
Afghans were being driven down upon him in accordance with the programme,
quitted the Maidan country and marched northward toward Urgundeh. An
attack on his baggage and rearguard was foiled; but as he reached his
camping ground for the night at Urgundeh the Afghans were found in
possession of the gorge opening into the Chardeh valley, through which
ran his road to Cabul. They were dislodged by a dashing attack of part of
the g2d Highlanders led by Lieutenant Scott Napier. It was not until the
morning of the 12th that Baker was informed by heliograph from Sherpur of
the occurrences of the previous day, and received directions to return to
the cantonment without delay. In the course of a few hours he was inside
Sherpur, notwithstanding that his march had been constantly molested by
attacks on his rear-guard.

The casualties of the 11th had been after all not very serious. All told
they amounted to thirty men killed and forty-four wounded; fifty-one
horses killed and sixteen wounded. But the Afghans were naturally elated
by the success they had unquestionably achieved; the national rising had
been inaugurated by a distinct triumph, the news of which would bring
into the field incalculable swarms of fierce and fanatical partisans. It
was clear that Mahomed Jan had a quick eye for opportunities, and some
skill in handling men. That he could recognise the keypoint of a position
and act boldly and promptly on that recognition, his tactics of the 11th
made abundantly obvious, and his commanding position on the morning of
the 12th still further demonstrated his tactical ability. _L'audace,
encore l'audace, et toujours l'audace_ is the game to be played by the
commander of disciplined troops against Asiatic levies, and no man was
more sensible of this than the gallant soldier who now from the bastion
of Sherpur could see the Afghan standards waving on the summit of the
Takht-i-Shah. Indeed he was impressed so thoroughly by the force of the
maxim as to allow himself to hope that some 560 soldiers, of whom about
one-third were Europeans, backed by a couple of mountain guns, would be
able to carry by assault the lofty peak, strongly held by resolute
Afghans in protected positions, supported by several thousands of their
fellows lying out of sight until an attack should develop itself, to meet
which they were at hand to reinforce the garrison of the Takht-i-Shah.
From the gorge of the Cabul river there runs due south to near Charasiah
a lofty and rugged range, the highest point of which, the Takht-i-Shah,
is about midway from either extremity. From this main ridge there project
eastward at right angles two lateral spurs. The shorter and more
northerly of those runs down to the Balla Hissar, the longer and more
southerly obtruding itself into the plain as far as the village of Beni
Hissar. This latter spur quits the main ridge no great distance south of
the Takht-i-Shah peak, and on the 12th the Afghan reserves were massed in
rear of the peak, both on the main ridge and on this spur. The steep
faces of the mountain were strewn with great smooth boulders and jagged
masses of rock; the ascent, everywhere laborious, was complicated in
places by sheer scarps, and those formidable impediments were made still
more difficult by frequent sungahs, strong stone curtains behind which
the defenders lay safe or fired with a minimum of exposure. On the summit
was a great natural cavity which had been made bomb proof by art, and
further cover was afforded by caves and lines of rock. The most northerly
portion of the ridge described is known as the Sher Derwaza heights,
which Macpherson had occupied on the morning of the 12th, and his brigade
it was which furnished the little force already mentioned as charged to
attempt the task of storming the Takht-i-Shah.

For several hours Morgan's two mountain guns industriously shelled that
peak, and then the infantry made their effort. The Afghans fought
stubbornly in defence of a lower hill they held in advance of the
Takht-i-Shah, but after a hard struggle they had to abandon it to
Macpherson's resolute men. But the exertions of the latter to ascend the
peak were baulked by its rugged steepness and the fire of the Afghans
holding the sungahs on its face. Sir Frederick Roberts had to recognise
that the direct attack by so weak a force unaided by a diversion, could
not succeed, and he ordered further efforts to be deferred. The
casualties of the abortive attempt included three officers, one of whom,
Major Cook, V.C. of the Goorkhas, than whom the British army contained no
better soldier, died of his wound. Macpherson was directed to hold the
ground he had won, including the lower advanced hill, and was informed
that on the following morning he was to expect the co-operation of
General Baker from the direction of Beni Hissar.

The lesson of the result of attempting impossibilities had been taken to
heart, and the force which Baker led out on the morning of the 13th was
exceptionally strong, consisting as it did of the 92d Highlanders and
Guides infantry, a wing of the 3d Sikhs, a cavalry regiment, and eight
guns. Marching in the direction of the lateral spur extending from the
main ridge eastward to Beni Hissar, Baker observed that large masses of
the enemy were quitting the plain villages about Beni Hissar in which
they had taken shelter for the night, and were hurrying to gain the
summit of the spur which constituted the defensive position of the Afghan
reserve. Baker's _coup d'oeil_ was quick and true. By gaining the centre
of the spur he would cut in two the Afghan line along its summit, and so
isolate and neutralise the section of it from the centre to the Beni
Hissar extremity, toward which section the reinforcements from the plain
villages were climbing. But to accomplish this shrewd stroke it was
necessary that he should act with promptitude and energy. His guns opened
fire on the summit. The Sikhs, extended athwart the plain, protected his
right flank. His cavalry on the left cut into the bodies of Afghans
hurrying to ascend the eastern extremity of the spur. With noble
emulation the Highlanders and the Guides sprang up the rugged slope,
their faces set towards the centre of the summit line. Major White, who
already had earned many laurels in the campaign, led on his Highlanders;
the Guides, burning to make the most of their first opportunity to
distinguish themselves, followed eagerly the gallant chief who had so
often led them to victory on other fields. Lieutenant Forbes, a young
officer of the 92d heading the advance of his regiment, reached the
summit accompanied only by his colour-sergeant. A band of ghazees rushed
on the pair and the sergeant fell. As Forbes stood covering his body he
was overpowered and slain. The sudden catastrophe staggered for a moment
the soldiers following their officer, but Lieutenant Dick Cunyngham
rallied them immediately and led them forward at speed. For his conduct
on this occasion Cunyngham received the Victoria Cross.

With rolling volleys Highlanders and Guides reached and won the summit.
The Afghans momentarily clung to the position, but the British fire swept
them away and the bayonets disposed of the ghazees, who fought and died
in defence of their standards. The severance of the Afghan line was
complete. A detachment was left to maintain the isolation of some 2000 of
the enemy who had been cut off; and then swinging to their right Baker's
regiments swept along the summit of the spur toward the main ridge and
the Takht-i-Shah, the Highlanders leading. As they advanced they rolled
up the Afghan line and a panic set in among the enemy, who sought safety
in flight. Assailed from both sides, for Macpherson's men from the
conical hill were passing up the north side of the peak, and shaken by
the steady fire of the mountain guns, the garrison of the Takht-i-Shah
evacuated the position. Baker's soldiers toiled vigorously upward toward
the peak, keen for the honour of winning it; but the credit of that
achievement justly fell to their comrades of Macpherson's command, who
had striven so valiantly to earn it the day before, and who had gained
possession of the peak and the Afghan standards flying on its summit, a
few minutes before the arrival of White's Highlanders and Jenkins'
Guides. As the midday gun was fired in the cantonment the flash of the
heliograph from the peak told that the Takht-i-Shah was won.

While Baker was sweeping the spur and climbing the lofty peak of the main
ridge, his reserve, which remained in the plain, was in sharp action
against masses of assailants from the city and other bodies from the
villages about Beni Hissar. Those were beaten off by the 3d Sikhs and
Baker's flanks were thus cleared, but the resolute Afghans, bent on
interfering with his return march, surged away in the direction of the
Siah Sung ridge and gathered thereon in considerable strength. The guns
of Sherpur shelled them smartly, but they held their ground; and Massy
went out to disperse them with the cavalry. The Afghans showed unwonted
resolution, confronting the cavalry with extraordinary steadiness in
regular formation and withholding their fire until the troopers were
close upon them. But the horsemen were not to be denied. Captains Butson
and Chisholme led their squadrons against the Afghan flanks, and the
troopers of the 9th avenged the mishap which had befallen that gallant
regiment two days before, riding through and through the hostile masses
and scattering them over the plain. But in the charge Butson was killed,
Chisholme and Trower were wounded; the sergeant-major and three men were
killed and seven were wounded. Brilliant charges were delivered by the
other cavalry detachments, and the Siah Sung heights were ultimately
cleared. The Guides' cavalry attacked, defeated, and pursued for a long
distance a body of Kohistanees marching from the north-east apparently
with intent to join Mahomed Jan. The casualties of the day were sixteen
killed and forty-five wounded; not a heavy loss considering the amount of
hard fighting. The Afghans were estimated to have lost in killed alone
from 200 to 300 men.

The operations of the day were unquestionably successful so far as they
went, but the actual results attained scarcely warranted the anticipation
that the Afghans would acknowledge themselves defeated by breaking up
their combination and dispersing to their homes. It was true that they
had been defeated, but they had fought with unprecedented stubbornness
and gave little evidence of being cowed. Throughout the day the villages
around Cabul had evinced a rancorous hostility which had a marked
significance. Not less significant was the participation in the fighting
of the day on the part of the population of Cabul. As Baker was returning
to Sherpur in the evening he had been fired upon from the Balla Hissar,
and his flanking parties had found ambushes of armed Afghans among the
willows between the city and the cantonment. But for the skill and
courage of the non-commissioned officer in charge a convoy of wounded on
its way to Sherpur would certainly have been destroyed. But there was a
stronger argument than any of those indications, significant as they were
of the unbroken spirit of the Afghans, telling against the probability
that the operations of the day would have the effect of putting down the
national rising. The hordes which had gathered to the banners of the
Mushk-i-Alum and Mahomed Jan combined with the fanaticism of the _jehad_
a fine secular greed for plunder. Was it likely that they would scatter
resignedly, leaving untouched the rich booty of the city that had been
almost within arm's-length as they looked down on it from the peak of the
Takht-i-Shah, and whose minarets they were within sight of on the spur
and in the villages of Beni-Hissar? Was that ever likely? And was it not
made more and yet more unlikely when on the afternoon of the 13th
Macpherson, acting on orders, moved his camp to the Balla Hissar heights,
evacuating Deh Mazung and leaving open to the enemy the road into the
city through the Cabul gorge? The following morning was to show how
promptly and how freely the Afghans had taken advantage of the access to
the capital thus afforded them. It must never be forgotten that at this
time our people in Afghanistan held no more territory than the actual
ground they stood upon and the terrain swept by their fire. No
trustworthy intelligence from outside that region was procurable; and of
this there can be no clearer evidence than that the General was under the
belief that the enemy had been 'foiled in their western and southern

The morning of the 14th effectually dispelled the optimistic
anticipations indulged in overnight. At daybreak a large body of Afghans,
with many standards, were discerned on a hill about a mile northward of
the Asmai ridge, from which and from the Kohistan road they were moving
on to the crest of that ridge. They were joined there by several
thousands coming up the slopes from out the village of Deh Afghan, the
northern suburb of Cabul. It was estimated that there were about 8000 men
in position along the summit of the ridge, and occupying also a low
conical hill beyond its north-western termination. The array of Afghans
displayed itself within a mile of the west face of the Sherpur
cantonment, and formed a menace which could not be brooked. To General
Baker was entrusted the task of dislodging the enemy from the threatening
position, and there was assigned to him for this purpose a force
consisting of about 1200 bayonets, eight guns, and a regiment of native
cavalry. His first object was to gain possession of the conical hill
already mentioned, and thus debar the Afghan force on the Asmai heights
from receiving accessions either from the masses on the hill further
north or by the Kohistan road. Under cover of the artillery fire the
Highlanders and Guides occupied this conical hill after a short conflict.
A detachment was left to hold it and then Colonel Jenkins, who commanded
the attack, set about the arduous task of storming from the northward the
formidable position of the Asmai heights. The assault was led by
Brownlow's staunch Highlanders, supported on the right by the Guides
operating on the enemy's flank; and the Afghan position was heavily
shelled by four of Baker's guns, and by four more in action near the
south-western corner of the Sherpur cantonment. Macpherson from his
position on the Balla Hissar hill aided the attack by the fire of his
guns, and also by despatching two companies of the 67th to cross the
Cabul gorge and operate against the enemy's left rear.

In the face of a heavy fire the Highlanders and Guides climbed with great
speed and steadiness the rugged hillside leading upward to the Afghan
breastwork on the northern edge of the summit. Their approach and the
crushing shrapnel fire from the guns near Sherpur had caused numerous
Afghans to move downward from the position toward Deh Afghan, heavily
smitten as they went; but the ghazees in the breastworks made a strenuous
resistance and died under their banners as the Highlanders carried the
defences with a rush. The crest, about a quarter of a mile long, was
traversed under heavy fire and the southern breastwork on the peak was
approached. It was strong and strongly held, but a cross fire was brought
to bear on its garrison, and then the frontal attack led by a
lance-corporal of the 72d was delivered. After a hand-to-hand grapple in
which Highlanders and Guides were freely cut and slashed by the knives of
the ghazees, the position, which was found full of dead, was carried, but
with considerable loss. The whole summit of the Asmai heights was now in
British possession, and everything seemed auspicious. The Afghans
streaming down from the heights toward the city were being lacerated by
shell fire and musketry fire as they descended. When they took refuge in
Deh Afghan that suburb was heavily shelled, and it was gradually

Scarcely had Jenkins won the summit of the Asmai ridge when the fortune
of the day was suddenly overcast; indeed while he was still engaged in
the attainment of that object premonitory indications of serious mischief
were unexpectedly presenting themselves. A vast host of Afghans described
as numbering from 15,000 to 20,000, debouched into the Chardeh valley
from the direction of Indikee, and were moving northwards, apparently
with the object of forming a junction with the masses occupying the hills
to the north-west of the Asmai heights. About the same time cavalry
scouting in the Chardeh valley brought in the information that large
parties of hostile infantry and cavalry were hurrying across the valley
in the direction of the conical hill the defence of which had been
entrusted to Lieutenant-Colonel Clark with 120 Highlanders and Guides.
Recognising Clark's weakness, General Baker had judiciously reinforced
that officer with four mountain guns and 100 bayonets. The guns opened
fire on the Afghan bodies marching from the Killa Kazee direction, and
drove them out of range. But they coalesced with the host advancing from
Indikee, and the vast mass of Afghans, facing to the right, struck the
whole range of the British position from near the Cabul gorge on the
south to and beyond the conical hill on the north. The most vulnerable
point was the section at and about that eminence, and the necessity for
supplying Clark with further reinforcements became urgently manifest.
Baker sent up a second detachment, and 200 Sikhs came out from Sherpur at
the double. But the Afghans, creeping stealthily in great numbers up the
slope from out the Chardeh valley, had the shorter distance to travel,
and were beforehand with the reinforcements. Their tactics were on a par
with their resolution. The left of their attack grasped and held a knoll
north of the conical hill, and from this position of vantage brought a
cross fire to bear on Clark's detachment. As their direct attack
developed itself it encountered from the conical hill a heavy rifle fire,
and shells at short range tore through the loose rush of ghazees, but the
fanatics sped on and up without wavering. As they gathered behind a mound
for the final onslaught, Captain Spens of the 72d with a handful of his
Highlanders went out on the forlorn hope of dislodging them. A rush was
made on him; he was overpowered and slaughtered after a desperate
resistance, and the Afghan charge swept up the hill-side. In momentary
panic the defenders gave ground, carrying downhill with them the
reinforcement of Punjaubees which Captain Hall was bringing up. Two of
the mountain guns were lost, but there was a rally at the foot of the
hill under cover of which the other two were extricated. The Afghans
refrained from descending into the plain, and directed their efforts
toward cutting off the occupants of the position on the Asmai summit.
They ascended by two distinct directions. One body from the conical hill
followed the route taken by Jenkins in the morning; another scaled a spur
trending downward to the Chardeh valley from the southern extremity of
the Asmai ridge.

It was estimated that the Afghan strength disclosed this day did not fall
short of 40,000 men; and General Roberts was reluctantly compelled to
abandon for the time any further offensive efforts. His reasons, stated
with perfect frankness, may best be given in his own words. 'Up to this
time,' he wrote, 'I had no reason to apprehend that the Afghans were in
sufficient force to cope successfully with disciplined troops, but the
resolute and determined manner in which the conical hill had been
recaptured, and the information sent to me by Brigadier-General
Macpherson that large masses of the enemy were still advancing from the
north, south, and west, made it evident that the numbers combined against
us were too overwhelming to admit of my comparatively small force meeting
them. I therefore determined to withdraw from all isolated positions, and
to concentrate the whole force at Sherpur, thus securing the safety of
our large cantonment, and avoiding what had now become a useless
sacrifice of life.' The orders issued to Generals Baker and Macpherson to
retire into the cantonment were executed with skill and steadiness.
Jenkins' evacuation of the Asmai position was conspicuously adroit. When
the order to quit reached that able officer, Major Stockwell of the 72d
was out with a small detachment, maintaining a hot fire on the Afghan
bodies ascending by the southern spur from the Chardeh valley. He fell
back with great deliberation, and when he rejoined the retirement down
the hill face looking toward Sherpur was leisurely proceeded with, the
hostile advance from, the northern side being held in check by the fire
of covering parties from Jenkins' left flank. General Macpherson's
retirement was masterly. Flanking his march through the Cabul gorge with
two companies of the 67th who stalled off a rush of ghazees from the
Asmai crest, he continued his march through the suburb of Deh Afghan, his
baggage in front under a strong guard. Some few shots were exchanged
before the suburb was cleared, but the casualties were few and presently
the brigade entered the cantonment. General Baker continued to hold a
covering position with part of his force, until the troops from the
heights and Macpherson's command had made good their retirement, and he
was the last to withdraw. By dusk the whole force was safely concentrated
within the cantonment, and the period of the defensive had begun. The
casualties of the day were serious; thirty-five killed, and 107 wounded.
During the week of fighting the little force had lost somewhat heavily;
the killed numbered eighty-three, the wounded 192. Eight officers were
killed, twelve were wounded.


Although overlarge for its garrison, the Sherpur cantonment had many of
the features of a strong defensive position. On the southern and western
faces the massive and continuous enciente made it impregnable against any
force unprovided with siege artillery. But on the eastern face the wall
had been built to the elevation only of seven feet, and at either end of
the Behmaroo heights, which constituted the northern line of defence,
there were open gaps which had to be made good. The space between the
north-western bastion and the heights was closed by an entrenchment
supported by a 'laager' of Afghan gun-carriages and limbers, the ground
in front strengthened by abattis and wire entanglements, beyond which a
village flanking the northern and western faces was occupied as a
detached post. The open space on the north-eastern angle was similarly
fortified; the village of Behmaroo was loopholed, and outlying buildings
to the front were placed in a state of defence. The unfinished eastern
wall was heightened by logs built up in tiers, and its front was covered
with abattis, a tower and garden outside being occupied by a detachment.
A series of block houses had been built along the crest of the Behmaroo
heights supporting a continuous entrenchment, gun emplacements made in
the line of defence, and the gorge dividing the heights strongly
fortified against an attack from the northern plain. The enciente was
divided into sections to each of which was assigned a commanding officer
with a specified detail of troops; and a strong reserve of European
infantry was under the command of Brigadier-General Baker, ready at short
notice to reinforce any threatened point. It was presumably owing to the
absorption of the troops in fighting, collecting supplies, and providing
winter shelter, that when the concentration within Sherpur became
suddenly necessary the defences of the position were still seriously
defective; and throughout the period of investment the force was
unremittingly engaged in the task of strengthening them. Nor had the
military precaution been taken of razing the villages and enclosures
within the fire zone of the enciente, and they remained to afford cover
to the enemy during the period of investment.

Before the enemy cut the telegraph wire in the early morning of the 15th
Sir Frederick Roberts had informed the authorities in India of his
situation and of his need for reinforcements; and he had also ordered up
General Charles Gough's brigade without loss of time. Gough was already
at Jugdulluk when he received the order calling him to Cabul, but he had
to wait for reinforcements and supplies, and the tribesmen were
threatening his position and the line of communication in rear of it. He
did not move forward until the 21st. On the following day he reached
Luttabund, whence he took on with him the garrison of that post, but
although his march was unmolested it was not until the 24th that he
reached Sherpur, a day too late to participate in repelling the assault
on the cantonment.

While General Roberts' force was busily engaged in making good the
defences of Sherpur, the Afghans refrained from attempting to back their
success on the Asmai heights by an assault on the defensive position
which seemed to invite an attack. During the first two days of their
possession of the city they were enjoying the fruits of their occupation
in their own turbulent manner. Roberts' spies reported them busily
engaged in sacking the Hindoo and Kuzzilbash quarters, in looting and
wrecking the houses of chiefs and townsfolk who had shown friendliness to
the British, and in quarrelling among themselves over the spoils.
Requisitioning was in full force. The old Moulla Mushk-i-Alum was the
temporary successor of General Hills in the office of Governor of Cabul;
and spite of his ninety years he threw extraordinary energy into the work
of arousing fanaticism and rallying to Cabul the fighting men of the
surrounding country. The _jehad_ of which he had been the chief
instigator had certainly attained unexampled dimensions, and although it
was not in the nature of things that every Afghan who carried arms should
be inspired with religious fanaticism to such a pitch as to be utterly
reckless of his life, swarms of fierce ghazees made formidable the levies
which Mahomed Jan commanded.

On the 17th and 18th the Afghans made ostentatious demonstrations against
Sherpur, but those were never formidable, although they made themselves
troublesome with some perseverance during the daytime, consistently
refraining from night attacks, which was remarkable since ordinarily they
are much addicted to the _chapao_. There never was any investment of
Sherpur, or indeed any approximation to investment. Cavalry
reconnaissances constantly went out, and piquets and videttes were
habitually on external duty; infantry detachments sallied forth whenever
occasion demanded to dislodge the assailants from points occupied by them
in inconvenient proximity to the defences. The Afghan offensive was not
dangerous, but annoying and wearying. It was indeed pushed with some
resolution on the 18th, when several thousand men poured out of the city,
and skirmished forward under cover of the gardens and enclosures on the
plain between Cabul and Sherpur, in the direction of the southern front
and the south-western bastions. The Afghans are admirable skirmishers,
and from their close cover kept up for hours a brisk fire on the soldiers
lining the Sherpur defences, but with singularly little effect. The
return rifle fire was for the most part restricted to volleys directed on
those of the enemy who offered a sure mark by exposing themselves; and
shell fire was chiefly used to drive the Afghan skirmishers from their
cover in the gardens and enclosures. Some of those, notwithstanding, were
able to get within 400 yards of the enciente, but could make no further
headway. On the morning of the 19th it was found that in the night the
enemy had occupied the Meer Akhor fort, a few hundred yards beyond the
eastern face, and close to the Residency compound of the old cantonments
of 1839-42. The fire from this fort was annoying, and General Baker went
out on the errand of destroying it, with 800 bayonets, two mountain guns,
and a party of sappers. As the fort was being approached through the
dense mist a sudden volley from it struck down several men, and
Lieutenant Montenaro of the mountain battery was mortally wounded. The
fort was heavily shelled from the south-eastern bastion; its garrison
evacuated it, and it was blown up.

Mahomed Jan and his coadjutors could hardly flatter themselves that as
yet they had made any impression on the steadfast defence which the
British force was maintaining in the Sherpur cantonment. The Afghan
leader had tried force in vain; he knew the history of that strange
period in the winter of 1841 during which Afghan truculence and audacity
had withered the spirit of a British force not much less numerically
strong than the little army now calmly withstanding him. Things had not
gone very well with that little army of late, possibly its constancy
might have been impaired, and its chief might be willing, as had been
Elphinstone and the Eltchi, to listen to terms. Anyhow there could be no
harm in making a proffer based on the old lines. So the Afghan leader
proposed to General Roberts, apparently in all seriousness, that the
British army should forthwith evacuate Afghanistan, encountering no
molestation in its march; that the British General before departing
should engage that Yakoub Khan should return to Afghanistan as its Ameer;
and that there should be left behind two officers of distinction as
hostages for the faithful fulfilment of the contract. 'We have a lakh of
men; they are like wolves eager to rush on their prey! We cannot much
longer control them!'--such were said to have been the terms of a message
intended to disturb the equanimity of the British commander. Meer Butcha
and his Kohistanees, again, were not to all appearance anxious for the
restoration of Yakoub. They professed themselves content to accept our
staunch friend Wali Mahomed as Ameer, if only the British army would be
good enough to march home promptly and leave to Afghans the
administration of Afghan affairs. It was not likely that a man of
Roberts' nature would demean himself to take any notice of such
overtures. For the moment circumstances had enforced on him the wisdom of
accepting the defensive attitude, but he knew himself, nevertheless, the
virtual master of the situation. He had but one serious anxiety--the
apprehension lest the Afghans should not harden their hearts to deliver
an assault on his position.

That apprehension was not long to give him concern. On the 20th, as a
menace against the southern face of Sherpur, the enemy took strong
possession of the Mahomed Shereef fort, stormed so gallantly by Colonel
Griffiths on 6th November 1841; and they maintained themselves there
during the two following days in face of the fire of siege guns mounted
on the bastions of the enciente. On the 21st and 22d large numbers of
Afghans quitted the city, and passing eastward behind the Siah Sung
heights, took possession in great force of the forts and villages outside
the eastern face of Sherpur. On the 22d a spy brought in the intelligence
that Mahomed Jan and his brother-chiefs had resolved to assault the
cantonment early on the following morning, and the spy was able to
communicate the plan of attack. The 2000 men holding the King's Garden
and the Mahomed Shereef fort had been equipped with scaling ladders, and
were to make a false attack which might become a real one, against the
western section of the southern front. The principal assault, however,
was to be made against the eastern face of the Behmaroo
village--unquestionably the weakest part of the defensive position. The
23d was the last day of the Mohurrum--the great Mahomedan religious
festival, when fanaticism would be at its height; and further to
stimulate that incentive to valour, the Mushk-i-Alum would himself kindle
the beacon fire on the Asmai height which was to be the signal to the
faithful to rush to the assault.

The information proved perfectly accurate. All night long the shouts and
chants of the Afghans filled the air. Purposeful silence reigned
throughout the cantonment. In the darkness the soldiers mustered and
quietly fell into their places; the officers commanding sections of the
defence made their dispositions; the reserves were silently standing to
their arms. Every eye was toward the Asmai heights, shrouded still in the
gloom of the night. A long tongue of flame shot up into the air, blazed
brilliantly for a few moments, and then waned. At the signal a fierce
fire opened from the broken ground before one of the gateways of the
southern face, the flashes indicating that the marksmen were plying their
rifles within 200 yards of the enciente. The bullets sped harmlessly over
the defenders sheltered behind the parapet, and in the dusk of the dawn
reprisals were not attempted. But this outburst of powder-burning against
the southern face was a mere incident; what men listened and watched for
was the development of the true assault on the eastern end of the great
parallelogram. The section commanders there were General Hugh Gough in
charge of the eastern end of the Behmaroo heights, and Colonel Jenkins
from the village down to the Native Hospital and beyond to the bastion at
the south-eastern corner. The troops engaged were the Guides from the
ridge down to Behmaroo village and beyond to the Native Hospital, in
which were 100 men of the 28th Punjaub Infantry, and between the Hospital
and the corner bastion the 67th, reinforced by two companies of 92d
Highlanders from the reserve, which later sent to the defence of the
eastern face additional contributions of men and guns. 'From beyond
Behmaroo and the eastern trenches and walls,' writes Mr Hensman, 'came a
roar of voices so loud and menacing that it seemed as if an army fifty
thousand strong was charging down on our thin line of men. Led by their
ghazees, the main body of Afghans hidden in the villages and orchards on
the east side of Sherpur had rushed out in one dense mob, and were
filling the air with their shouts of "Allah-il-Allah." The roar surged
forward as their line advanced, but it was answered by such a roll of
musketry that it was drowned for the moment, and then merged into the
general din which told us that our men with Martinis and Sniders were
holding their own against the attacking force.' When the first attack
thus graphically described was made the morning was still so dark and
misty that the outlook from the trenches was restricted, and the order to
the troops was to hold their fire till the assailants should be
distinctly visible. The detachment of the 28th opened fire somewhat
prematurely, and presently the Guides holding Behmaroo and the trenches
on the slopes followed the example, and sweeping with their fire the
terrain in front of them broke the force of the attack while its leaders
were still several hundred yards away. Between the Hospital and the
corner bastion the men of the 67th and 92d awaited with impassive
discipline the word of permission to begin firing. From out the mist at
length emerged dense masses of men, some of whom were brandishing swords
and knives, while others loaded and fired while hurrying forward. The
order to fire was not given until the leading ghazees were within eighty
yards, and the mass of assailants not more distant than 200 yards.
Heavily struck then by volley on volley, they recoiled but soon gathered
courage to come on again; and for several hours there was sharp fighting,
repeated efforts being made to carry the low eastern wall. So resolute
were the Afghans that more than once they reached the abattis, but each
time were driven back with heavy loss. About ten o'clock there was a lull
and it seemed that the attacking force was owning the frustration of its
attempts, but an hour later there was a partial recrudescence of the
fighting and the assailants once more came on. The attack, however, was
not pushed with much vigour and was soon beaten down, but the Afghans
still maintained a threatening attitude and the fire from the defences
was ineffectual to dislodge them. The General resolved to take their
positions in flank, and with this intent sent out into the open through
the gorge in the Behmaroo heights, four field guns escorted by a cavalry
regiment. Bending to the right, the guns came into action on the right
flank of the Afghans, and the counter-stroke had immediate effect. The
enemy wavered and soon were in full retreat. The Kohistanee contingent,
some 5000 strong, cut loose and marched away northward, with obvious
recognition that the game was up. The fugitives were scourged with
artillery and rifle fire, and Massy led out the cavalry, swept the plain,
and drove the lingering Afghans from the slopes of Siah Sung. The false
attack on the southern face from the King's Garden and the Mahomed
Shereef fort never made any head. Those positions were steadily shelled
until late in the afternoon, when they were finally evacuated, and by
nightfall all the villages and enclosures between Sherpur and Cabul were
entirely deserted. Some of those had been destroyed by sappers from the
garrison during the afternoon, in the course of which operation two
gallant engineer officers, Captain Dundas and Lieutenant Nugent, were
unfortunately killed by the premature explosion of a mine.

Mahomed Jan had been as good as his word; he had delivered his stroke
against Sherpur, and that stroke had utterly failed. With its failure
came promptly the collapse of the national rising. Before daybreak of the
24th the formidable combination which had included all the fighting
elements of North-Eastern Afghanistan, and under whose banners it was
believed that more than 100,000 armed men had mustered, was no more. Not
only had it broken up; it had disappeared. Neither in the city, nor in
the adjacent villages, nor on the surrounding heights, was a man to be
seen. So hurried had been the Afghan dispersal that the dead lay unburied
where they had fallen. His nine days on the defensive had cost General
Roberts singularly little in casualties; his losses were eighteen killed
and sixty-eight wounded. The enemy's loss from first to last of the
rising was reckoned to be not under 3000.

On the 24th the cavalry rode far and fast in pursuit of the fugitives,
but they overtook none, such haste had the fleeing Afghans made. On the
same day Cabul and the Balla Hissar were reoccupied, and General Hills
resumed his functions as military governor of the city. Cabul had the
aspect of having undergone a sack at the hands of the enemy; the bazaars
were broken up and deserted and the Hindoo and Kuzzilbash quarters had
been relentlessly wrecked. Sir Frederick Roberts lost no time in
despatching a column to, the Kohistan to punish Meer Butcha by destroying
that chief's forts and villages, and to ascertain whether the tribesmen
of the district had dispersed to their homes. This was found to be the
case, and the column returned after having been out five days. After
making a few examples the General issued a proclamation of amnesty,
excluding therefrom only five of the principal leaders and fomentors of
the recent rising, and stipulating that the tribesmen should send
representatives to Sherpur to receive explanations regarding the
dispositions contemplated for the government of the country. This policy
of conciliation bore good fruit; and a durbar was held on January 9th,
1880, at which were present about 200 sirdars, chiefs, and headmen from
the Kohistan, Logur, and the Ghilzai country. Rewards were presented to
those chiefs who had remained friendly; the General received the salaams
of the assembled sirdars and then addressed them in a firm but
conciliatory speech.

The country remained still in a disturbed state, but there was little
likelihood of a second general rising. General Roberts was resolved,
however, to be thoroughly prepared to cope with that contingency should
it occur. Sherpur was encircled by a military road, and all cover and
obstructions for the space of 1000 yards outside the enciente were swept
away. Another road was constructed from Behmaroo village to the Siah Sung
heights and yet another from the south-eastern gateway direct to the
Balla Hissar, on both of which there were bridges across the Cabul river.
Along the northern face of Cabul from Deh Afghan to the Balla Hissar, a
road broad enough for guns was made, and another broad road cut through
the lower Balla Hissar. Another military road was built through the Cabul
gorge to the main Ghuznee and Bamian road in the Chardeh valley. Strong
forts were built on the Asmai and Sher Derwaza heights and on the spur
above the Balla Hissar, which, well garrisoned and supplied adequately
with provisions, water, and ammunition, would enable Cabul as well as
Sherpur to be held. The latter was greatly strengthened, the eastern
point of the Behmaroo heights being converted into something like a
regular fortress. Later, in March, when the Cabul force had increased to
a strength of about 11,500 men and twenty-six guns, the command was
formed into two divisions, of which the first remained under the
Lieutenant-General, the second being commanded by Major-General John
Ross. The line of communications was in charge of Major-General Bright,
and Brigadier-General Hugh Gough was the cavalry commander in succession
to Brigadier-General Massy. On the 2d of May, Sir Donald Stewart arriving
at Cabul from Candahar, took over the chief command in North-Eastern
Afghanistan from Sir Frederick Roberts. Sir Donald's march from Candahar,
which was an eventful one, is dealt with in the next chapter.


While Sir Frederick Roberts had been fighting hard in North-Eastern
Afghanistan, Sir Donald Stewart had been experiencing comparative
tranquillity in his Candahar command. As soon as the news reached him of
the destruction of Cavagnari's mission he had promptly concentrated his
troops, and so early as the third week of September (1879) he was in a
position to carry out his orders to create a diversion in aid of Roberts'
advance on Cabul by making a demonstration in the direction of Ghuznee
and placing a garrison in Khelat-i-Ghilzai. No subsequent movements of
importance were undertaken in Southern Afghanistan during the winter, and
the province enjoyed almost unbroken quietude. In Herat, however,
disturbance was rife. Ayoub Khan, the brother of Yakoub Khan, had
returned from exile and made good his footing in Herat, of which formerly
he had been conjoint governor with Yakoub. In December he began a hostile
advance on Candahar, but a conflict broke out between the Cabul and Herat
troops under his command, and he abandoned for the time his projected

[Illustration: ACTION AT AHMED KHEL. 20 Miles from GHUZNEE. 19th. April

In the end of March Sir Donald Stewart began the march toward Cabul which
orders from India had prescribed. He left behind him in Candahar the
Bombay division of his force under the command of Major-General Primrose,
whose line of communication with the Indus valley was to be kept open by
Phayre's brigade, and took with him on the northward march the Bengal
division, consisting of two infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade. The
first infantry brigade was commanded by Brigadier-General Barter, the
second by Brigadier-General Hughes, and the cavalry brigade, which
divisional headquarters accompanied, by Brigadier-General Palliser.
Khelat-i-Ghilzai was reached on 6th April; the Bengal portion of its
garrison joined the division and the advance was resumed on the following
day. Until Shahjui, the limit of the Candahar province, the march was
uneventful; but beyond that place extreme difficulties were experienced
in procuring supplies, for the villages were found deserted and the
inhabitants had carried off, destroyed, or hidden their stores of grain.
The force was embarrassed by a horde of Hazaras, who swarmed in wild
irregularity on its flanks, plundering and burning with great
vindictiveness, eager to wreak vengeance on their Afghan foes. And it had
another although more distant companionship, in the shape of several
thousand hostile tribesmen and ghazees, whose fanaticism their moullas
had been assiduously inciting, and who marched day by day parallel with
the British right flank along the foothills at a distance of about eight
miles. Their attitude was threatening but it was not thought wise to
meddle with them, since their retreat over the hills could not well be
cut off, and since the policy of non-interference would tend to encourage
them to venture on a battle. The soundness of this reasoning was soon to
be made manifest.

On the night of April 18th the division was encamped at Mushaki, about
thirty miles south of Ghuznee. The spies that evening brought in the
information that the enemy had resolved on fighting on the following
morning, and that the position they intended to take up was the summit of
a low spur of the Gul Koh mountain ridge, bounding on the west the valley
followed by the road. This spur was said to project in a north-easterly
direction toward the Ghuznee river, gradually sinking into the plain.
During a great part of its length it flanked and overhung the road, but
near where it merged into the plain the road passed over it by a low
saddle at a point about six miles beyond Mushaki. At dawn of the 19th the
column moved off, Palliser leading the advance, which Sir Donald Stewart
accompanied, Hughes commanding the centre, Barter bringing up the rear
and protecting the baggage. An hour later the enemy were visible in great
strength about three miles in advance, presenting the aspect of a vast
body formed up on the spur and on the saddle crossed by the road, and
thus threatening Stewart at once in front and on both flanks. The British
general at once made his dispositions. His guns were on the road in
column of route. The three infantry regiments of Hughes' brigade came up
to the left of and in line with the leading battery, the cavalry took
ground on the plain on its right, and a reserve was formed consisting of
an infantry regiment, two companies sappers and miners, and the General's
escort of a troop and two companies. Orders were sent back to Barter to
send forward without delay half the infantry of his brigade. In the
formation described the force resumed its advance until within striking
distance. Then the two batteries came into action on either side of the
road; the horse-battery on the right, the flat ground to its right being
covered by the 2d Punjaub Cavalry; the field-battery on the left. Sir
Donald Stewart's proper front thus consisted of the field and
horse-batteries with their supports, but since it was apparent that the
greatest strength of the enemy was on the higher ground flanking his
left, it behoved him to show a front in that direction also, and for this
purpose he utilised Hughes' three infantry regiments, of which the 59th
was on the right, the 2d Sikhs in the centre, and the 3d Goorkhas on the
left. Part of the reserve infantry was sent to make good the interval
between the left of the artillery and the right of the infantry.

The guns had no sooner come into action than the enemy in great masses
showed themselves on spur and saddle and plain, bent seemingly on an
attempt to envelop the position held by the British. 'Suddenly,' writes
Hensmen, 'a commotion was observed in the most advanced lines of the
opposing army; the moullas could be seen haranguing the irregular host
with frantic energy, the beating of the tom-toms was redoubled, and then
as if by magic waves on waves of men--ghazees of the most desperate
type--poured down upon the plain, and rushed upon General Stewart's
force. The main body of the Afghan army remained upon the hill to watch
the ghazees in their reckless onslaught, and take advantage of any
success they might gain. The fanaticism of the 3000 or 4000 men who made
this desperate charge has perhaps never been equalled; they had 500 or
600 yards to cover before they could come to close quarters, and yet they
made nothing of the distance. Nearly all were well armed with tulwars,
knives, and pistols. Some carried rifles and matchlocks, while a few--and
those must have been resolute fanatics indeed--had simply pikes made of
bayonets, or pieces of sharpened iron fastened on long shafts. Their
attack broke with greatest violence on our flanks. On our left flank the
19th Bengal Lancers were still moving into position when the ghazees
rushed in among them. In an instant they were hidden in the cloud of dust
and smoke, and then they galloped toward the right rear, and struck into
the reserve in rear of the Lieutenant-General and his staff. All was
confusion for a moment; the ammunition mules were stampeded, and with the
riderless horses of the lancers killed or wounded in the _mêlée_, dashed
into the headquarter staff. The ghazees had continued their onward rush,
and were engaged in hand-to-hand fighting with our infantry. Some of them
penetrated to within twenty yards of the knoll on which the staff were
watching the action, and so critical was the moment that Sir Donald
Stewart and every man of his staff drew their swords and prepared for
self-defence.' The hurried retirement of the lancers had left the left
flank bare. It was turned by the fierce rush of the fanatics, who were
actually in rear of the leftward infantry regiment and in the heart of
the British position. The Goorkhas had been thrown into momentary
confusion, but their colonel promptly formed them into rallying squares,
whose fire mowed down the ghazees and arrested the headlong vehemence of
their turning movement. But it was not the British left only which was
temporarily compromised by the furious onslaught of the fanatics. Their
enveloping charge broke down the defence of the weakly-manned interval
between the left of the artillery and the right of the infantry. The
detachments holding that interval were forced back, righting hand-to-hand
as the sheer weight of the assault compelled them to give ground; the
59th, in its effort to throw back its right to cover the interval and
protect the guns, was thrown into confusion and gave ground; and the
guns, their case shot exhausted and the Afghans within a few yards of
their muzzles, had to be retired. The onslaught on the right front of the
horse-battery was delivered with great determination, but was held at bay
and finally crushed by the repeated charges of the 2d Punjaub cavalry.

Every man of the reserves was hurried into the fighting line; the
soldiers were steadied by the energetic efforts of their officers and
settled down to a steady and continuous fire from their breechloaders;
the guns poured their shells into the hostile masses; and the fire of the
forty-pounders on the left effectually arrested the attempt of the Afghan
horse to move round that flank. The hard-fought combat lasted for an
hour; at ten o'clock the 'cease fire' sounded, and the British victory
was signal. The enemy was dispersing in full flight, and the cavalry was
chasing the fugitives across the plain on the right. How reckless had
been the whirlwind charges of the ghazees was evidenced by the
extraordinary number of their dead whose corpses strewed the battlefield.
In no previous conflict between our troops and the Afghans had the latter
suffered nearly so heavily. More than 1000 dead were counted on the
field, and many bodies were carried away; on a moderate computation their
total loss must have been between 2000 and 3000, and that in an estimated
strength of from 12,000 to 15,000. The casualties of the British force
were seventeen killed and 124 wounded, of whom four died of their wounds.
The injuries consisted almost wholly of sword slashes and knife stabs
received in hand-to-hand encounters. The pursuit was soon recalled, but
the Hazaras took up the chase with ardour and in the rancour of vengeance
slew and spared not.

Sir Donald Stewart tarried on the field only long enough to bury his dead
and have his wounded attended to; and soon after noon his force resumed
its march. Ghuznee was reached on the 21st, where there was a halt of
three days. It had been reported that the indomitable Mushk-i-Alum was
raising the tribesmen of Zurmut and Shilgur to avenge the defeat of Ahmed
Khel, and a cavalry reconnaissance made on the 22d had found a gathering
of 2000 or 3000 men about the villages of Urzoo and Shalez, six miles
south-east of Ghuznee. On the morning of the 23d a strong column
commanded by Brigadier-General Palliser moved on the villages, which were
found occupied in considerable force. They were too solidly built to be
much injured by artillery fire, and the Afghans lay close in the shelter
they afforded. Palliser hesitated to commit his infantry to an attack.
Sir Donald Stewart having arrived, ordered the infantry to carry the
villages without delay, and the affair was soon over, the tribesmen
suffering severely from the rifle fire as they evacuated the villages,
and later in the pursuit made by the cavalry and horse-artillery. On the
following day the march toward Cabul was resumed.

On the 16th April Major-General Ross had been despatched from Cabul by
Sir Frederick Roberts on the mission of joining hands with Stewart's
division. On the 20th Ross opened heliographic communication with Sir
Donald, and was informed of the latter's victory at Ahmed Khel. But the
junction of the two forces was not accomplished until the 27th; and in
the interval the force commanded by General Ross had received
considerable annoyance at the hands of tribal levies gathered by local
chiefs. The tribesmen interfered with the roadmaking operations of his
sappers in the vicinity of Sheikabad, and some fighting occurred in very
rugged country on the 23d. Trivial loss was experienced by his command,
but the demonstrations of the tribesmen evinced with what inveterate
determination, notwithstanding so many severe lessons, the Afghans
persisted in their refusal to admit themselves conquered. Driven away
with severe loss on the 25th, those indomitable hillmen and villagers
were back again on the following morning on the overhanging ridges; nor
were they dispersed by the 'resources of civilised warfare' until more of
them had paid with their lives the penalty of their obstinate hostility.
On the 28th, at Sheikabad, Sir Donald Stewart took leave of the division
which he had led from Candahar, and proceeded to Cabul with General Ross'
force to assume the chief command in North-Eastern Afghanistan. His
division turned aside into the Logur valley, where it remained at until
the final concentration about Cabul in anticipation of the evacuation. By
the reinforcement brought by Stewart the Cabul field force was increased
to a strength of about 18,000 men.


The occupation of Afghanistan by the British troops had been prolonged
far beyond the period originally intended by the authorities. But the
strain of that occupation was great, and although it had to be maintained
until there should be found a ruler strong enough to hold his own after
the evacuation, the decision was definitely arrived at to withdraw from
the country before the setting in of another winter. Mr Lepel Griffin, a
distinguished member of the political department of the Indian Civil
Service, reached Cabul on 20th March, his mission being to further the
selection and acceptance of a capable ruler to be left in possession. The
task was no easy one. There was little promise in any of the Barakzai
pretenders who were in Afghanistan, and in the address which Mr Griffin
addressed in Durbar to a number of sirdars and chiefs in the middle of
April, he preserved a tone at once haughty and enigmatical. One thing he
definitely announced, the Viceroy's decision that Yakoub Khan was not to
return to Afghanistan. The State was to be dismembered. As to the future
of Herat the speaker made no allusion; but the province of Candahar was
to be separated from Cabul and placed under an independent Barakzai
prince. No decision could for the present be given in regard to the
choice of an Ameer to rule over Cabul. The Government desired to nominate
an Ameer strong enough to govern his people and steadfast in his
friendship to the British; if those qualifications could be secured the
Government was willing and anxious to recognise the wish of the Afghan
people, and nominate an Ameer of their choice.

But in effect the choice, so far as the English were concerned, had been
already virtually made. On the 14th of March Lord Lytton had telegraphed
to the Secretary of State advocating the 'early public recognition of
Abdurrahman as legitimate heir of Dost Mahomed, and the despatch of a
deputation of sirdars, with British concurrence, to offer him the throne,
as sole means of saving the country from anarchy'; and the Minister had
promptly replied authorising the nomination of Abdurrahman, should he be
found 'acceptable to the country and would be contented with Northern
Afghanistan.' Abdurrahman had known strange vicissitudes. He was the
eldest grandson of the old Dost; his father was Afzul Khan, the elder
brother of Shere Ali. After the death of the Dost he had been an exile in
Bokhara, but he returned to Balkh, of which province his father had been
Governor until removed by Shere Ali, made good his footing there, and
having done so advanced on Cabul, taking advantage of Shere Ali's absence
at Candahar. The capital opened its gates to him in March 1866; he fought
a successful battle with Shere Ali at Sheikabad, occupied Ghuznee, and
proclaimed his father Ameer. Those were triumphs, but soon the wheel came
round full circle. Afzul had but a short life as Ameer, and Abdurrahman
had to retire to Afghan Turkestan. Yakoub, then full of vigour and
enterprise, defeated him at Bamian and restored his father Shere Ali to
the throne in the winter of 1868. Abdurrahman then once more found
himself an exile. In 1870, after much wandering, he reached Tashkend,
where General Kaufmann gave him permission to reside, and obtained for
him from the Czar a pension of 25,000 roubles per annum. Petrosvky, a
Russian writer who professed to be intimate with him during his period of
exile, wrote of him that, 'To get square some day with the English and
Shere Ali was Abdurrahman's most cherished thought, his dominant,
never-failing passion.' His hatred of Shere Ali, his family, and
supporters, was intelligible and natural enough, but why he should have
entertained a bitter grudge against the English is not very apparent; and
there has been no overt manifestation of its existence since he became
Ameer. To Mr Eugene Schuyler, who had an interview with him at Tashkend,
he expressed his conviction that with £50,000 wherewith to raise and
equip an army he could attain his legitimate position as Ameer of
Afghanistan. Resolutely bent on an effort to accomplish this purpose, he
was living penuriously and saving the greater part of his pension, and he
hinted that he might have Russian assistance in the prosecution of his
endeavour. The selection of a man of such antecedents and associations as
the ruler of a 'buffer' state in friendly relations with British India
was perhaps the greatest leap in the dark on record. Abdurrahman came
straight from the position of a Russian pensionary; in moving on
Afghanistan he obeyed Russian instructions; his Tashkend patrons had
furnished him with a modest equipment of arms and money, the value of
which he undertook to repay if successful. It is of course possible that
those functionaries of a notoriously simple and ingenuous government
started and equipped him in pure friendly good nature, although they had
previously consistently deterred him. But there was not a circumstance in
connection with Abdurrahman that was not suspicious. Three distinct
hypotheses seem to present themselves in relation to this selection as
our nominee; that Lord Lytton had extraordinary, almost indeed
preternatural foresight and sagacity; that he was extremely fortunate in
his leap in the dark; that he desired to bring to the naked _reductio ad
absurdum_ the 'buffer state' policy. When Abdurrahman began his movement
is uncertain. So early as the middle of January it was reported at
Sherpur that he had left Tashkend, and was probably already on the Afghan
side of the Oxus. In a letter of February 17th Mr Hensman speaks of him
as being in Badakshan, where his wife's kinsmen were in power, and
describes him as having a following of 2000 or 3000 Turcoman horsemen and
possessed according to native report of twelve lakhs of rupees. On the
17th of March Lord Lytton telegraphed to the Secretary of State that he
was in possession of 'authentic intelligence that the Sirdar was in
Afghan Turkestan, having lately arrived there from Badakshan.'

[Illustration: The Ameer Abdurrahman.]

It was regarded of urgent importance to ascertain definitely the
disposition of Abdurrahman, and whether he was disposed to throw in his
lot with the British Government, and accept the position of its nominee
in Northern Afghanistan. The agent selected by Mr Griffin to open
preliminary negotiations was a certain Mohamed Surwar, Ghilzai, who had
been all his life in the confidential service of the Sirdar's family.
Surwar was the bearer of a formal and colourless letter by way simply of
authentication; but he also carried full and explicit verbal
instructions. He was directed to inform the Sirdar that since he had
entered Afghan Turkestan and occupied places there by force of arms, it
was essential for him to declare with what object he had come, and
whether actuated by friendly or hostile feelings toward the British
Government, which for its part had no ill-feeling toward him because of
his long residence within the Russian Empire and his notoriously close
relations with that power. That the British Government was able to
benefit him very largely in comparison with that of Russia; and that
wisdom and self interest alike suggested that he should at once open a
friendly correspondence with the British officers in Cabul. That his
opportunity was now come, and that the British Government was disposed to
treat him with every consideration and to consider most favourably any
representations he might make. It had no intention of annexing the
country, and only desired to see a strong and friendly chief established
at Cabul; and that consequently the present communication was made solely
in Abdurrahman's own interest, and not in that of the British Government.
He was desired to send a reply by Surwar, and later to repair to Cabul,
where he should be honourably received.

Surwar returned to Cabul on 21st April, bringing a reply from Abdurrahman
to Mr Griffin's letter. The tone of the reply was friendly enough, but
somewhat indefinite. In conversation with Surwar as reported by the
latter, Abdurrahman was perfectly frank as to his relations with the
Russians, and his sentiments in regard to them. It had been reported that
he had made his escape clandestinely from Tashkend. Had he cared to stand
well with us at the expense of truth, it would have been his cue to
disclaim all authority or assistance from the Russian Government, to
confirm the current story of his escape, and to profess his anxiety to
cultivate friendly relations with the British in a spirit of opposition
to the power in whose territory he had lived so long virtually as a
prisoner. But neither in writing nor in conversation did he make any
concealment of his friendliness toward the Russians, a feeling which he
clearly regarded as nowise incompatible with friendly relations with the
British Government. 'If,' said he to Surwar, 'the English will in
sincerity befriend me, I have no wish to hide anything from them'; and he
went on to tell how the Russians had forbidden him for years to make any
effort to interfere in Afghan affairs. This prohibition stood until
information reached Tashkend of the deportation of Yakoub Khan to India.
Then it was that General Kaufmann's representative said to him: 'You have
always been anxious to return to your country; the English have removed
Yakoub Khan; the opportunity is favourable; if you wish you are at
liberty to go.' The Russians, continued Abdurrahman, pressed him most
strongly to set out on the enterprise which lay before him. They lent him
33,000 rupees, and arms, ammunition, and supplies; he was bound to the
Russians by no path or promise, but simply by feelings of gratitude. 'I
should never like,' said he, 'to be obliged to fight them. I have eaten
their salt, and was for twelve years dependent on their hospitality.'

Surwar reported Abdurrahman as in fine health and possessed of great
energy. He had with him a force of about 3000 men, consisting of four
infantry and two cavalry regiments, with twelve guns and some irregulars.
He professed his readiness, in preference to conducting negotiations
through agents, to go himself to Charikar in the Kohistan with an escort,
and there discuss matters with the English officers in person. Surwar
testified that the Sirdar had with him in Turkestan no Russian or Russian
agent, and this was confirmed through other sources. He had sent forward
to ascertain which was the easiest pass across the Hindoo Koosh, but
meanwhile he was to remain at Kondooz until he should hear again from Mr

While the wary Sirdar waited on events beyond the Hindoo Koosh he was
sending letters to the leading chiefs of the Kohistan and the Cabul
province, desiring them to be ready to support his cause. That he had an
influential party was made clear at a durbar held by Mr Griffin on April
21st, when a considerable gathering of important chiefs united in the
request that Abdurrahman's claim to the Ameership should be favourably
regarded by the British authorities. In pursuance of the negotiations a
mission consisting of three Afghan gentlemen, two of whom belonged to Mr
Griffin's political staff, left Cabul on May 2nd carrying to Abdurrahman
a letter from Mr Griffin intimating that it had been decided to withdraw
the British army from Afghanistan in the course of a few months, and that
the British authorities desired to leave the rulership in capable and
friendly hands; that they were therefore willing to transfer the
Government to him, recognise him as the head of the State, and afford him
facilities and even support in reorganising the Government and
establishing himself in the sovereignty. The mission found the attitude
of Abdurrahman scarcely so satisfactory as had been reported by Surwar,
and its members were virtual prisoners, their tents surrounded by
sentries. Abdurrahman's explanation of this rigour of isolation was that
he could not otherwise ensure the safety of the envoys; but another
construction conveyed to them was that they were kept prisoners that they
might not, by mixing with the people, learn of the presence on the right
bank of the Oxus of a Russian officer with whom Abdurrahman was said to
be in constant communication and on whose advice he acted. Their belief
was that Abdurrahman was entirely under Russian influence; that Mr
Griffin's letter after it had been read in Durbar in the camp was
immediately despatched across the Oxus by means of mounted relays; and
that Russian instructions as to a reply had not been received when they
left Turkestan to return to Cabul. They expressed their belief that the
Sirdar would not accept from British hands Cabul shorn of Candahar. They
had urged him to repeat in the letter they were to carry back to Cabul
the expression of his willingness to meet the British representative at
Charikar which had been contained in his letter sent by Surwar; but he
demurred to committing himself even to this slight extent. The letter
which he sent by way of reply to the weighty communication Mr Griffin had
addressed to him on the part of the Government of India that official
characterised as 'frivolous and empty, and only saved by its special
courtesy of tone from being an impertinence.'

An Afghan who had sat at Kaufmann's feet, Abdurrahman was not wholly a
guileless man; and the truth probably was that he mistrusted the Greeks
of Simla and the gifts they tendered him with so lavish protestation that
they were entirely for his own interest. There was very little finesse
about the importunity of the British that he should constitute himself
their bridge of extrication, so that they might get out of Afghanistan
without the dangers and discredit of leaving chaos behind them. But
Abdurrahman had come to know himself strong enough to reduce to order
that legacy of chaos if it should be left; and in view of his future
relations with his fellow Afghans he was not solicitous to be beholden to
the foreigners to any embarrassing extent. He knew, too, the wisdom of
'masterly inactivity' in delicate conditions. And, again, he had no
confidence in our pledges. On the 4th of August, the day after the
meeting between him and Mr Griffin at Zimma, the latter wrote: 'They
(Abdurrahman and his advisers) feared greatly our intention was to rid
ourselves of a formidable opponent, and dreaded that if he had come
straight into Cabul he would have been arrested, and deported to India.'

A Liberal Government was now in office in England, and was urgent for the
speedy evacuation of Afghanistan. Lord Lytton had resigned and had been
succeeded as Viceroy by the Marquis of Ripon. Lieutenant-General Sir
Donald Stewart was in chief command at Cabul. A great number of letters
from Abdurrahman to chiefs and influential persons throughout Afghanistan
were being intercepted, the tone of which was considered objectionable.
He was reported to be in close correspondence with Mahomed Jan, who had
never ceased to be our bitter enemy. The fact that negotiations were in
progress between the British Government and Abdurrahman had become matter
of general knowledge throughout the country, and was occasioning
disquietude and excitement. So clear were held the evidences of what was
termed Abdurrahman's bad faith, but was probably a combination of genuine
mistrust, astute passivity, and shrewd playing for his own hand, that it
became a serious question with the Indian Government on the arrival of
the new Viceroy, whether it was good policy to have anything more to do
with him. It was resolved that before breaking off intercourse the
suggestion of Sir Donald Stewart and Mr Griffin should be adopted, that a
peremptory although still friendly letter, demanding a definite
acceptance or refusal of the proffers made, within four days after the
receipt, should be sent to Abdurrahman, with a detailed explanation of
the arrangements into which we were prepared to enter with regard to him
and the future of Afghanistan. A letter was forwarded from Cabul on 14th
June, in which Mr Griffin informed the Sirdar that since the British
Government admitted no right of interference by foreign powers in
Afghanistan, it was plain that the Cabul ruler could have no political
relations with any foreign power except the English; and if any foreign
power should attempt to interfere in Afghanistan, and if such
interference should lead to unprovoked aggression on the Cabul ruler,
then the British Government would be prepared to aid him, if necessary,
to repel it. As regarded limits of the territory, the latter stated that
the whole province of Candahar had been placed under a separate ruler,
except Sibi and Pisheen, which were retained in British possession.
Consequently the British Government was unable to enter into any
negotiations on those points, or in respect to arrangements in regard to
the north-western frontier which were settled by the treaty of Gundamuk.
Subject to those reservations, the British Government was willing that
Abdurrahman should establish over Afghanistan--including Herat when he
should have conquered it--as complete and extensive authority as was
swayed by any previous Ameer. The British Government would exercise no
interference in the internal government of those territories nor would it
demand the acceptance of an English Resident anywhere within Afghanistan,
although for convenience of ordinary friendly intercourse it might be
agreed upon that a Mahommedan Agent of the British Government should be
stationed at Cabul.

Abdurrahman's reply to this communication was vague and evasive, and was
regarded by Sir Donald Stewart and Mr Griffin as so unsatisfactory that
they represented to the Government of India, not for the first time,
their conviction of the danger of trusting Abdurrahman, the imprudence of
delaying immediate action, and the necessity of breaking off with him and
adopting other means of establishing a government in Cabul before the
impending evacuation. Lord Ripon, however, considered that 'as matters
stood an arrangement with Abdurrahman offered the most advisable
solution, while he doubted whether it would not be found very difficult
to enter into any alternative arrangement.' His Excellency's decision was
justified by the event. Meanwhile, indeed, Abdurrahman had started on
June 28th for the Kohistan. He crossed the Hindoo Koosh and arrived on
July 20th at Charikar, where he was welcomed by a deputation of leading
chiefs, while the old Mushk-i-Alum, who for some time, thanks to Mr
Griffin's influence, had been working in the interests of peace,
intimated on behalf of a number of chiefs assembled in Maidan that they
were ready to accept as Ameer the nominee of the British Government.

So propitious seemed the situation that it was considered the time had
come for formally acknowledging Abdurrahman as the new Ameer, and also
for fixing approximately the date of the evacuation of Cabul by the
British troops. The ceremony of recognition was enacted in a great durbar
tent within the Sherpur cantonment on the afternoon of July 22d. The
absence of Abdurrahman, and the notorious cause of that absence,
detracted from the intrinsic dignity of the occasion so far as concerned
the British participation in it; nor was the balance restored by the
presence of three members of his suite whom he had delegated to represent
him. A large number of sirdars, chiefs, and maliks were present, some of
whom had fought stoutly against us in December. Sir Donald Stewart, who
presided, explained to the assembled Afghans that their presence and that
of the officers of the British force had been called for in order that
the public recognition by the British Government of the Sirdar
Abdurrahman Khan as Ameer of Cabul should be made known with as much
honour as possible. Then Mr Griffin addressed in Persian a short speech
to the 'sirdars, chiefs, and gentlemen' who constituted his audience.
Having announced the recognition of Abdurrahman by 'the Viceroy of India
and the Government of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen Empress,' he
proceeded: 'It is to the Government a source of satisfaction that the
tribes and chiefs have preferred as Ameer a distinguished member of the
Barakzai family, who is a renowned soldier, wise, and experienced. His
sentiments towards the British Government are most friendly; and so long
as his rule shows that he is animated by these sentiments, he cannot fail
to receive the support of the British Government.' Mr Griffin then
intimated that the British armies would shortly withdraw from
Afghanistan; and in his formal farewell there was a certain appropriate
dignity, and a well-earned tribute to the conduct of our soldiers during
their service within the Afghan borders. 'We trust and firmly believe,'
said Mr Griffin, 'that your remembrance of the English will not be
unkindly. We have fought you in the field whenever you have opposed us;
but your religion has in no way been interfered with; the honour of your
women has been respected, and every one has been secure in possession of
his property. Whatever has been necessary for the support of the army has
been liberally paid for. Since I came to Cabul I have been in daily
intercourse with you, but I have never heard an Afghan make a complaint
of the conduct of any soldier, English or native, belonging to Her
Majesty's army.' The durbar was closed by an earnest appeal by Sir Donald
Stewart to all the sirdars and chiefs that they should put aside their
private feuds and unite to support the new Ameer.

On August 3d Abdurrahman and Mr Griffin at length met, about sixteen
miles north of Cabul. His adherents were still full of excitement and
suspicion; but the Ameer himself was calm, cheerful, and dignified. The
conference between him and Mr Griffin lasted for three hours and was
renewed on the following day. 'He appeared,' wrote Mr Griffin, 'animated
by a sincere desire to be on cordial terms with the British Government,
and although his expectations were larger than the Government was
prepared to satisfy, yet he did not press them with any discourteous
insistence, and the result of the interview may be considered on the
whole to be highly satisfactory.' The tidings of the Maiwand disaster had
reached Sherpur by telegraph, and the Ameer was informed that a necessity
might occur for marching a force from Cabul to Candahar. His reply was
that the tribes might be hostile, but that if no long halts were made by
the way he would have no objections to such a march. In this he showed
his astuteness, since the defeat of Ayoub Khan by a British army would
obviously save him a contest. So willing to be of service on this matter
was he that when the march was decided on he sent influential persons of
his party in advance to arrange with the local maliks to have supplies
collected for the column. The arrangements made with him were that he was
to fall heir to the thirty guns of Shere Ali's manufacture which the
out-marching army was to leave in Sherpur, and was to receive 19-1/2
lakhs of rupees (£190,500); ten lakhs of which were given as an earnest
of British friendship, and the balance was money belonging to the Afghan
State, which had gone into the commissariat chest and was now restored.
At the Ameer's earnest and repeated request the forts which had been
built around Cabul by the British army, were not destroyed as had been
intended, but were handed over intact to the new Ameer.

It seemed that Sir Donald Stewart, who was to evacuate Sherpur on the
11th August, would leave Cabul without seeing Abdurrahman. But at the
last moment Mr Griffin succeeded in arranging an interview. It was held
early in the morning of the evacuation, in a tent just outside the
Sherpur cantonment, was quite public, and lasted only for quarter of an
hour. Abdurrahman was frank and cordial. He said that his heart was full
of gratitude to the British, and desired that his best thanks should be
communicated to the Viceroy. At the close of the interview he shook hands
with all 'who cared to wish him good-bye and good luck,' and sent his
principal officer to accompany the General on his first day's march,
which began immediately after the parting with Abdurrahman. Sir Donald
Stewart's march down the passes was accomplished without incident, quite
unmolested by the tribes. Small garrisons were temporarily left in the
Khyber posts, and the war-worn regiments were dispersed through the
stations of North-Western India.


When in the early spring of 1880 Sir Donald Stewart quitted Candahar with
the Bengal division of his force, he left there the Bombay division, to
the command of which General Primrose acceded, General Phayre assuming
charge of the communications. The province during the early summer was
fairly quiet, but it was known that Ayoub Khan was making hostile
preparations at Herat, although the reports as to his intentions and
movements were long uncertain and conflicting. Shere Ali Khan, who had
been Governor of Candahar during Stewart's residence there, had been
nominated hereditary ruler of the province with the title of 'Wali,' when
it was determined to separate Candahar from North-Eastern Afghanistan. On
June 21st the Wali, who had some days earlier crossed the Helmund and
occupied Girishk with his troops, reported that Ayoub was actually on the
march toward the Candahar frontier, and asked for the support of a
British brigade to enable him to cope with the hostile advance. There was
reason to believe that the Wali's troops were disaffected, and that he
was in no condition to meet Ayoub's army with any likelihood of success.
After Stewart's departure the strength of the British forces at Candahar
was dangerously low--only 4700 of all ranks; but it was important to
thwart Ayoub's offensive movement, and a brigade consisting of a troop of
horse-artillery, six companies of the 66th, two Bombay native infantry
regiments, and 500 native troopers, in all about 2300 strong, under the
command of Brigadier-General Burrows, reached the left bank of the
Helmund on July 11th. On the 13th the Wali's infantry, 2000 strong,
mutinied _en masse_ and marched away up the right bank of the river,
taking with them a battery of smooth bore guns, a present to Shere Ali
Khan from the British Government. His cavalry did not behave quite so
badly, but, not to go into detail, his army no longer existed, and
Burrows' brigade was the only force in the field to resist the advance of
Ayoub Khan, whose regular troops were reported to number 4000 cavalry,
and from 4000 to 5000 infantry exclusive of the 2000 deserters from the
Wali, with thirty guns and an irregular force of uncertain strength.

[Illustration: ACTION AT MAIWAND. 27th. July 1880.]

Burrows promptly recaptured from the Wali's infantry the battery they
were carrying off, and punished them severely. The mutineers had removed
or destroyed the supplies which the Wali had accumulated for the use of
the brigade, and General Burrows therefore could no longer remain in the
vicinity of Girishk. The Helmund owing to the dry season was passable
everywhere, so that nothing was to be gained by watching the fords. It
was determined to fall back to Khushk-i-Nakhud, a point distant thirty
miles from Girishk and forty-five from Candahar, where several roads from
the Helmund converged and where supplies were plentiful. At and near
Khushk-i-Nakhud the brigade remained from the 16th until the morning of
the 27th July. While waiting and watching there a despatch from army
headquarters at Simla was communicated to General Burrows from Candahar,
authorising him to attack Ayoub if he thought himself strong enough to
beat him, and informing him that it was considered of the greatest
political importance that the force from Herat should be dispersed and
prevented from moving on toward Ghuznee. Spies brought in news that Ayoub
had reached Girishk, and was distributing his force along the right bank
between that place and Hydrabad. Cavalry patrols failed to find the enemy
until the 21st, when a detachment was encountered in the village of
Sangbur on the northern road about midway between the Helmund and
Khushk-i-Nakhud. Next day that village was found more strongly occupied,
and on the 23d a reconnaissance in force came upon a body of Ayoub's
horsemen in the plain below the Garmao hills, about midway between
Sangbur and Maiwand.

Those discoveries were tolerably clear indications of Ayoub's intention
to turn Burrows' position by moving along the northern road to Maiwand
and thence pressing on through the Maiwand pass, until at Singiri Ayoub's
army should have interposed itself between the brigade and Candahar.
There was certainly nothing impossible in such an endeavour, since
Maiwand is nearer Candahar than is Khushk-i-Nakhud. Why, in the face of
the information at his disposal and of the precautions enjoined on him to
hinder Ayoub from slipping by him toward Ghuznee through Maiwand and up
the Khakrez valley, General Burrows should have remained so long at
Khushk-i-Nakhud, is not intelligible. He was stirred at length on the
afternoon of the 26th, by the report that 2000 of Yakoub's cavalry and a
large body of his ghazees were in possession of Garmao and Maiwand, and
were to be promptly followed by Ayoub himself with the main body of his
army, his reported intention being to push on through the Maiwand pass
and reach the Urgundab valley in rear of the British brigade. Later in
the day Colonel St John, the political officer, reported to General
Burrows the intelligence which had reached him that the whole of Ayoub's
army was at Sangbur; but credence was not given to the information.

The somewhat tardy resolution was taken to march to Maiwand on the
morning of the 27th. There was the expectation that the brigade would
arrive at that place before the enemy should have occupied it in force,
and this point made good there might be the opportunity to drive out of
Garmao the body of Yakoub's cavalry reported in possession there. There
was a further reason why Maiwand should be promptly occupied; the brigade
had been obtaining its supplies from that village, and there was still a
quantity of grain in its vicinity to lose which would be unfortunate. The
brigade, now 2600 strong, struck camp on the morning of the 27th. The
march to Maiwand was twelve miles long, and an earlier start than 6.30
would have been judicious. The soldiers marched fast, but halts from time
to time were necessary to allow the baggage to come up; the hostile state
of the country did not admit of anything being left behind and the column
was encumbered by a great quantity of stores and baggage. At Karezah,
eight miles from Khushk-i-Nakhud and four miles south-west of Maiwand,
information was brought in that the whole of Yakoub's army was close by
on the left front of the brigade, and marching toward Maiwand. The spies
had previously proved themselves so untrustworthy that small heed was
taken of this report; but a little later a cavalry reconnaissance found
large bodies of cavalry moving in the direction indicated and inclining
away toward Garmao as the brigade advanced. A thick haze made it
impossible to discern what force, if any, was being covered by the
cavalry. About ten A.M. the advance guard occupied the village of
Mundabad, about three miles south-west of Maiwand. West of Mundabad,
close to the village, was a broad and deep ravine running north and
south. Beyond this ravine was a wide expanse of level and partially
cultivated plain across which, almost entirely concealed by the haze,
Ayoub's army was marching eastward toward Maiwand village, which covers
the western entrance to the pass of the same name. If General Burrows'
eye could have penetrated that haze, probably he would have considered it
prudent to take up a defensive position, for which Mundabad presented
many advantages. But he was firm in the conviction that the enemy's guns
were not up, notwithstanding the reports of spies to the contrary; he
believed that a favourable opportunity presented itself for taking the
initiative, and he resolved to attack with all possible speed.

Lieutenant Maclaine of the Horse-Artillery, a gallant young officer who
was soon to meet a melancholy fate, precipitated events in a somewhat
reckless fashion. With the two guns he commanded he crossed the ravine,
galloped across the plain, and opened fire on a body of Afghan cavalry
which had just come within view. General Nuttall, commanding the cavalry
and horse-artillery, failing to recall Maclaine, sent forward in support
of him the four remaining guns of the battery. Those approached to within
800 yards of the two advanced pieces, and Maclaine was directed to fall
back upon the battery pending the arrival of the brigade, which General
Burrows was now sending forward. It crossed the ravine near Mundabad,
advanced on the plain about a mile in a north-westerly direction, and
then formed up. There were several changes in the dispositions; when the
engagement became warm about noon the formation was as follows:--The 66th
foot was on the right, its right flank thrown back to check an attempt
made to turn it by a rush of ghazees springing out of the ravine in the
British front; on the left of the 66th were four companies of Jacob's
Rifles (30th Native Infantry) and a company of sappers, the centre was
occupied by the horse-artillery and smooth bore guns, of which latter,
however, two had been moved to the right flank; on the left of the guns
were the its Grenadiers somewhat refused, and on the extreme left two
companies of Jacob's Rifles. The cavalry was in the rear, engaged in
efforts to prevent the Afghans from taking the British infantry in
reverse. The position was radically faulty, and indeed invited disaster.
Both flanks were _en l'air_ in face of an enemy of greatly superior
strength; almost from the first every rifle was in the fighting line, and
the sole reserve consisted of the two cavalry regiments. The baggage had
followed the brigade across the ravine and was halted about 1000 yards in
rear of the right, inadequately guarded by cavalry detachments.

For half-an-hour no reply was made to the British shell fire, and an
offensive movement at this time might have resulted in success. But
presently battery after battery was brought into action by the Afghans,
until half-an-hour after noon the fire of thirty guns was concentrated on
the brigade. Under cover of this artillery fire the ghazees from the
ravine charged forward to within 500 yards of the 66th, but the rifle
fire of the British regiment drove them back with heavy loss, and they
recoiled as far as the ravine, whence they maintained a desultory fire.
The enemy's artillery fire was well sustained and effective; the infantry
found some protection from it in lying down, but the artillery and
cavalry remained exposed and suffered severely. An artillery duel was
maintained for two hours, greatly to the disadvantage of the brigade,
which had but twelve guns in action against thirty well-served Afghan
pieces. The prostrate infantry had escaped serious punishment, but by two
P.M. the cavalry had lost fourteen per cent, of the men in the front
line, and 149 horses; the Afghan horsemen had turned both flanks and the
brigade was all but surrounded, while a separate attack was being made on
the baggage. Heat and want of water were telling heavily on the sepoys,
who were further demoralised by the Afghan artillery fire.

A little later the smooth bore guns had to be withdrawn for want of
ammunition. This was the signal for a general advance of the Afghans.
Their guns were pushed forward with great boldness; their cavalry
streamed round the British left; in the right rear were masses of mounted
and dismounted irregulars who had seized the villages on the British line
of retreat. Swarms of ghazees soon showed themselves threatening the
centre and left; those in front of the 66th were still held in check by
the steady volleys fired by that regiment. At sight of the ghazees, and
cowed by the heavy artillery fire and the loss of their officers, the two
companies of Jacob's Rifles on the left suddenly fell into confusion, and
broke into the ranks of the Grenadiers. That regiment had behaved well
but it caught the infection of demoralisation, the whole left collapsed,
and the sepoys in utter panic, surrounded by and intermingled with the
ghazees, rolled in a great wave upon the right. The artillerymen and
sappers made a gallant stand, fighting the ghazees hand-to-hand with
handspikes and rammers, while the guns poured canister into the advancing
masses. Slade reluctantly limbered up and took his four guns out of
action; Maclaine remained in action until the ghazees were at the muzzles
of his two guns, which fell into the enemy's hands. The torrent of
mingled sepoys and ghazees broke in upon the 66th, and overwhelmed that
regiment. The slaughter of the sepoys was appalling--so utterly cowed
were they that they scarcely attempted to defend themselves, and allowed
themselves without resistance to be dragged out of the ranks and killed.
A cavalry charge was ordered in the direction of the captured guns, but
it failed and the troopers retired in disorder. The infantry, assailed by
hordes of fierce and triumphant ghazees, staggered away to the right, the
66th alone maintaining any show of formation, until the ravine was
crossed, when the broken remnants of the sepoy regiments took to flight
toward the east and the General's efforts to rally them were wholly
unavailing. The 66th with some of the sappers and grenadiers, made a
gallant stand round its colours in an enclosure near the village of Khig.
There Colonel Galbraith and several of his officers were killed, and the
little body of brave men becoming outflanked, continued its retreat,
making stand after stand until most were slain. The Afghans pursued for
about four miles, but were checked by a detachment of rallied cavalry,
and desisted. The fugitives, forming with wounded and baggage a
straggling column upwards of six miles long, crossed the waterless desert
sixteen miles wide, to Hanz-i-Madat, which was reached about midnight and
where water was found. From Asu Khan, where cultivation began, to Kokoran
near Candahar, the retreat was harassed by armed villagers and the troops
had to fight more or less all the way. Officers and men were killed,
Lieutenant Maclaine was taken prisoner, and five of the smooth bore guns
had to be abandoned because of the exhaustion of the teams. About midday
of the 28th the broken remnants of the brigade reached Candahar. When the
casualties were ascertained it became evident how disastrous to the
British arms had been the combat of Maiwand. Out of a total of 2476
engaged no fewer than 964 were killed. The wounded numbered 167; 331
followers and 201 horses were killed and seven followers and sixty-eight
horses wounded. Since Chillianwallah the British arms in Asia had not
suffered loss so severe.

The spirit of the Candahar force suffered materially from the Maiwand
disaster, and it was held that there was no alternative but to accept the
humiliation of a siege within the fortified city. The cantonments were
abandoned, the whole force was withdrawn into Candahar, and was detailed
for duty on the city walls. The effective garrison on the night of the
28th numbered 4360, including the survivors of the Maiwand brigade. So
alert were the Afghans that a cavalry reconnaissance made on the morning
of the 29th, found the cantonments plundered and partly burned and the
vicinity of Candahar swarming with armed men. The whole Afghan population
amounting to about 12,000 persons, were compelled to leave the city, and
then the work of placing it in a state of defence was energetically
undertaken. Buildings and enclosures affording cover too close to the
enciente were razed, communication along the walls was opened up, and gun
platforms were constructed in the more commanding positions. The walls
were both high and thick, but they were considerably dilapidated and
there were gaps and breaks in the bastions and parapet. The weak places
as well as the gates were fronted with abattis, the defects were made
good with sandbags, and wire entanglements and other obstructions were
laid down outside the walls. While this work was in progress the covering
parties were in daily collision with the enemy, and occasional sharp
skirmishes occurred.

On the 8th August Ayoub opened fire on the citadel from Picquet hill, an
elevation north-westward of the city, and a few days later he brought
guns into action from the villages of Deh Khoja and Deh Khati on the east
and south. This fire, steadily maintained though it was day after day,
had little effect, and the return fire gave good results. It was not easy
to invest the city since on the west and north there was no cover for the
besiegers, but in Deh Khoja on the east there was ample protection for
batteries, and the ground on the south-west was very favourable. Its
advantages were improved so skilfully that it was at one time believed
there was a European engineer in Ayoub's camp. Deh Khoja was
inconveniently near the Cabul gate, and was always full of men. So
menacing was the attitude of the Afghans that a sortie was resolved on
against the village, which was conducted with resolution but resulted in
utter failure. The attempt was made on the morning of the 16th. The
cavalry went out to hinder reinforcements from entering the village from
the eastward. An infantry force 800 strong commanded by Brigadier-General
Brooke and divided into three parties, moved out later covered by a heavy
artillery fire from the city walls. The village was reached, but was so
full of enemies in occupation of the fortress-like houses that it was
found untenable, and the three detachments extricated themselves
separately. In the course of the retirement General Brooke and Captain
Cruickshank were killed. The casualties were very heavy; 106 were killed
and 117 were wounded.

The tidings of the Maiwand disaster reached Cabul on the 29th July by
telegram from Simla. The intention of the military authorities had
already been intimated that the Cabul force should evacuate Afghanistan
in two separate bodies and by two distinct routes. Sir Donald Stewart was
to march one portion by the Khyber route; the other under Sir Frederick
Roberts was to retire by the Kuram valley, which Watson's division had
been garrisoning since Roberts had crossed the Shutargurdan in September
1879. But the Maiwand news interfered with those arrangements. Stewart
and Roberts concurred in the necessity of retrieving the Maiwand disaster
by the despatch of a division from Cabul. Roberts promptly offered to
lead that division, and as promptly the offer was accepted by Stewart. By
arrangement with the latter Roberts telegraphed to Simla urging that a
force should be despatched from Cabul without delay; and recognising that
the authorities might hesitate to send on this errand troops already
under orders to return to India, he took it on himself to guarantee that
none of the soldiers would demur, providing he was authorised to give the
assurance that after the work in the field was over they would not be
detained in garrison at Candahar. The Viceroy's sanction came on the 3d
August. The constitution and equipment of the force were entrusted to the
two generals; and in reply to questions His Excellency was informed that
Roberts would march on the 8th and expected to reach Candahar on 2d
September. Sir Donald Stewart gave his junior full freedom to select the
troops to accompany him, and placed at his disposal the entire resources
of the army in transport and equipment. It cannot truly be said that it
was the _elite_ of the Cabul field force which constituted the column led
by Roberts in his famous march to Candahar. Of the native infantry
regiments of his own original force which he had mustered eleven months
previously in the Kuram only two followed him to Candahar, the 5th
Goorkhas and 23d Pioneers, and the second mountain battery adhered to him
staunchly, Of his original white troops the 9th Lancers, as ever, were
ready for the march. His senior infantry regiment, the 67th, would fain
have gone, but the good old corps was weak from casualties and sickness,
and the gallant Knowles denied himself in the interests of his men. The
two Highland regiments, the 72d and 92d, had done an infinity of fighting
and marching, but both had received strong drafts, were in fine
condition, and were not to be hindered from following the chief whom,
though not of their northern blood, the stalwart sons of the mist swore
by as one man.

Sir Frederick Roberts had already represented that it would be impolitic
to require the native regiments to remain absent from India and their
homes for a longer period than two years. In the case of many of the
regiments that term was closely approached, and the men after prolonged
absence and arduous toil needed rest and were longing to rejoin their
families. 'It was not,' in the words of General Chapman, 'with eager
desire that the honour of marching to Candahar was sought for, and some
commanding officers of experience judged rightly the tempers of their men
when they represented for the General's consideration the claims of the
regiments they commanded to be relieved as soon as possible from field
service.... The enthusiasm which carried Sir Frederick Roberts' force
with exceptional rapidity to Candahar was an after-growth evolved by the
enterprise itself, and came as a response to the unfailing spirit which
animated the leader himself.' The constitution of the force was made
known by the general orders published on 3d August. It consisted of three
batteries of artillery commanded by Colonel Alured Johnson; of a cavalry
brigade of four regiments commanded by Brigadier-General Hugh Gough; and
of an infantry division of three brigades commanded by Major-General John
Ross. The first brigade was commanded by Brigadier-General Herbert
Macpherson, the second by Brigadier-General T. D. Baker, and the third by
Brigadier-General Charles Macgregor. Colonel Chapman, R.A., who had
served in the same capacity with Sir Donald Stewart, was now Roberts'
chief of staff. The marching out strength of the column was about 10,000
men, of whom 2835 were Europeans. Speed being an object and since the
column might have to traverse rough ground, no wheeled artillery or
transport accompanied it; the guns were carried on mules, the baggage was
severely cut down, the supplies carried were reduced to a minimum, and
the transport animals, numbering 8590, consisted of mules, ponies, and
donkeys. It was known that the country could supply flour, sheep, and

The time specified for the departure of the force from Sherpur was kept
to the day. On the 8th the brigades moved out a short distance into camp,
and on the following morning the march begun in earnest. The distance
from Cabul to Candahar is about 320 miles, and the march naturally
divides itself into three parts; from Cabul to Ghuznee, ninety-eight
miles; from Ghuznee to Khelat-i-Ghilzai, one hundred and thirty-four
miles; and from Khelat-i-Ghilzai to Candahar, eighty-eight miles, Ghuznee
was reached on the seventh day, the daily average being fourteen
miles--excellent work for troops unseasoned to long continuous travel,
tramping steadily in a temperature of from 84° to 92° in the shade. When
possible the force moved on a broad front, the brigades and regiments
leading by rotation, and halts were made at specified intervals. The
'rouse' sounded at 2.45 A.M. and the march began at four; the troops were
generally in camp by two P.M. and the baggage was usually reported all in
by five; but the rearguard had both hard work and long hours. There was
no sign of opposition anywhere, not a single load of baggage was left
behind, comparatively few men fell out foot-sore, and the troops were
steadily increasing in endurance and capacity of rapid and continuous

At Ghuznee there was no rest day, and the steadfast dogged march was
resumed on the morning of the 16th. The strain of this day's long tramp
of twenty miles to Yergati was severe, but the men rallied gamely, and
the General by dint of care and expedient was able to keep up the high
pressure. 'The method,' writes General Chapman, 'of such marching as was
now put in practice is not easy to describe; it combined the extreme of
freedom in movement with carefully regulated halts, and the closest
control in every portion of the column; it employed the individual
intelligence of each man composing the masses in motion, and called on
all for exertion in overcoming the difficulties of the march, in bearing
its extraordinary toil, and in aiding the accomplishment of the object in
view.' On the 20th a distance of twenty-one miles was covered--the
longest day's march made; the effort was distressing owing to the heat
and the lack of shade, but it was enforced by the absence of water. There
was no relaxation in the rate of marching, and Khelat-i-Ghilzai was
reached on the eighth day from Ghuznee, showing a daily average of nearly
seventeen miles.

The 24th was a halt day at Khelat-i-Ghilzai, where Sir Frederick Roberts
received a letter from General Primrose in Candahar, describing the
sortie made on the village of Deh Khoja and giving details of his
situation. It was resolved to evacuate Khelat-i-Ghilzai and take on its
garrison with the column, which on the 25th resumed its march to
Candahar. On his arrival at Tir Andaz on the following day the General
found a letter from Candahar, informing him that at the news of the
approach of the Cabul force Ayoub Khan had withdrawn from his investment
of Candahar, and had shifted his camp to the village of Mazra in the
Urgundab valley, nearly due north of Candahar. On the morning of the 27th
General Hugh Gough was sent forward with two cavalry regiments a distance
of thirty-four miles to Robat, the main column moving on to Khel Akhund,
half way to the former place. Gough was accompanied by Captain Straton
the principal signalling officer of the force, who was successful in
communicating with Candahar, and in the afternoon Colonel St John, Major
Leach, and Major Adam rode out to Robat, bringing the information that
Ayoub Khan was engaged in strengthening his position in the Urgundab
valley, and apparently had the intention to risk the issue of a battle.
On the 28th the whole force was concentrated at Robat; and as it was
desirable that the troops should reach Candahar fresh and ready for
prompt action, the General decided to make the 20th a rest day and divide
the nineteen miles from Robat to Candahar into two short marches.

The long forced march from Cabul may be regarded as having ended at
Robat. The distance between those two places, 303 miles, had been covered
in twenty days. It is customary in a long march to allow two rest days in
each week, but Roberts had granted his force but a single rest day in the
twenty days of its strenuous march. Including this rest day, the average
daily march was a fraction over fifteen miles. As a feat of marching by a
regular force of 10,000 men encumbered with baggage and followers, this
achievement is unique, and it could have been accomplished only by
thorough organisation and steady vigorous energy. Sir Frederick Roberts
was so fortunate as to encounter no opposition. For this immunity he was
indebted mainly to the stern lessons given to the tribesmen by Sir Donald
Stewart at Ahmed Khel and Urzoo while that resolute soldier was marching
from Candahar to Cabul, and in a measure also to the good offices of the
new Ameer. But it must be remembered that Roberts had no assurance of
exemption from hostile efforts to block his path, and that he marched
ever ready to fight. It will long be remembered how when Roberts had
started on the long swift march, the suspense as to its issue grew and
swelled until the strain became intense. The safety of the garrison of
Candahar was in grave hazard; the British prestige, impaired by the
disaster of Maiwand, was trembling in the balance. The days passed, and
there came no news of Roberts and of the 10,000 men with whom the wise,
daring little chief had cut loose from any base and struck for his goal
through a region of ill repute for fanaticism and bitter hostility. The
pessimists among us held him to be rushing on his ruin. But Roberts
marched light; he lived on what the country supplied; he gave the
tribesmen no time to concentrate against him; and two days in advance of
the time he had set himself he reached Candahar at the head of a force in
full freshness of vigour and burning with zeal for immediate battle.

While halted at Robat on the 29th Sir Frederick heard from General Phayre
that his division had been retarded in its march by lack of transport,
but that he hoped to have it assembled at Killa Abdoolla on the 28th, and
would be able to move toward Candahar on the 30th. But as Killa Abdoolla
is distant some eight marches from Candahar, it was obvious that General
Phayre could not arrive in time to share in the impending battle. On the
morning of the 31st the Cabul force reached Candahar. Sir Frederick
Roberts, who had been suffering from fever for some days, was able to
leave his dhooly and mount his horse in time to meet General Primrose and
his officers to the east of Deh Khoja. The troops halted and breakfasted
outside the Shikapore gate, while General Roberts entered the city and
paid a visit to the Wali Shere Ali Khan. On his arrival he assumed
command of the troops in Southern Afghanistan; and he remained resting in
the city while the Cabul force marched to its selected camping ground
near the destroyed cantonments on the north-west of Candahar. A few shots
were fired, but the ground was occupied without opposition. Baker's
brigade was on the right, camped in rear of Picquet hill, in the centre
was Macpherson's brigade sheltered in its front by Karez hill, and on the
left among orchards and enclosures was Macgregor's brigade, in rear of
which was the cavalry.


Although Yakoub Khan had ceased to beleaguer Candahar, he had withdrawn
from that fortress but a very short distance, and the position he had
taken up was of considerable strength. The Urgundab valley is separated
on the north-west from the Candahar plain by a long precipitous spur
trending south-west from the mountainous mass forming the eastern
boundary of the valley further north. Where the spur quits the main
range, due north of the city, the Murcha Pass affords communication
between the Candahar plain and the Urgundab valley. The spur, its summit
serrated by alternate heights and depressions, is again crossed lower
down by an easy pass known as the Babawali Kotul. It is continued beyond
this saddle for about a mile, still maintaining its south-westerly trend,
never losing its precipitous character, and steeply scarped on its
eastern face; and it finally ends in the plain in a steep descent of
several hundred feet. The section of it from the Babawali Kotul to its
south-western termination is known as the Pir Paimal hill, from a village
of that name in the valley near its extremity. Ayoub Khan had made his
camp near the village of Mazra, behind the curtain formed by the spur
described, and about a mile higher up in the valley than the point at
which the spur is crossed by the road over the Babawali Kotul. He was
thus, with that point artificially strengthened and defended by
artillery, well protected against a direct attack from the direction of
Candahar, and was exposed only to the risk of a turning movement round
the extremity of the Pir Paimal hill. Such a movement might be made the
reverse of easy. A force advancing to attempt it must do so exposed to
fire from the commanding summit of the Pir Paimal; around the base of
that elevation there were several plain villages, and an expanse of
enclosed orchards and gardens which strongly held were capable of
stubborn defence. In the valley behind the Pir Paimal hill there was the
lofty detached Kharoti hill, the fire from which would meet in the teeth
a force essaying the turning movement; and the interval between the two
hills, through which was the access to the Mazra camps, was obstructed by
deep irrigation channels whose banks afforded cover for defensive fire,
and could be swept by a cross fire from the hills on either flank.

[Illustration: Kandahar.]

Sir Frederick Roberts at a glance had perceived that a direct attack by
the Babawali Kotul must involve very heavy loss, and he resolved on the
alternative of turning the Afghan position. A reconnaissance was made on
the afternoon of the 31st by General Gough, accompanied by Colonel
Chapman. He penetrated to within a short distance of the village of Pir
Paimal, where it was ascertained that the enemy were strongly entrenched,
and where several guns were unmasked. A great deal of valuable
information was obtained before the enemy began to interfere with the
leisurely withdrawal. The cavalry suffered little, but the Sikh infantry
covering the retirement of the reconnaissance were hard pressed by great
masses of Afghan regulars and irregulars. So boldly did the enemy come on
that the third and part of the first brigade came into action, and the
firing did not cease until the evening. The enemy were clearly in the
belief that the reconnaissance was an advance in force which they had
been able to check and indeed drive in, and they were opportunely
audacious in the misapprehension that they had gained a success. The
information brought in decided the General to attack on the following
morning; and having matured his dispositions, he explained them
personally to the commanding officers in the early morning of September
1st. The plan of attack was perfectly simple. The Babawali Kotul was to
be plied with a brisk cannonade and threatened by demonstrations both of
cavalry and infantry; while the first and second brigades, with the third
in reserve, were to turn the extremity of the Pir Paimal hill, force the
enemy's right in the interval between that hill and the Kharoti eminence,
take in reverse the Babawali Kotul, and pressing on up the Urgundab
valley, carry Ayoub Khan's principal camp at Mazra. The Bombay cavalry
brigade was to watch the roads over the Murcha and Babawali Kotuls,
supported by infantry and artillery belonging to General Primrose's
command, part of which was also detailed for the protection of the city;
and to hold the ground from which the Cabul brigades were to advance.
General Gough was to take the cavalry of the Cabul column across the
Urgundab, so as to reach by a wide circuit the anticipated line of the
Afghan retreat.

Soon after nine A.M. the forty-pounders on the right of Picquet hill
began a vigorous cannonade of the Babawali Kotul, which was sturdily
replied to by the three field-guns the enemy had in battery on that
elevation. It had been early apparent that the Ayoub's army was in great
heart, and apparently meditating an offensive movement had moved out so
far into the plain as to occupy the villages of Mulla Sahibdad opposite
the British right, and Gundigan on the left front of the British left.
Both villages were right in the fair way of Roberts' intended line of
advance; they, the adjacent enclosures, and the interval between the
villages were strongly held, and manifestly the first thing to be done
was to force the enemy back from those advanced positions. Two batteries
opened a heavy shell fire on the Sahibdad village, under cover of which
Macpherson advanced his brigade against it, the 2d Goorkhas and 92d
Highlanders in his first line. Simultaneously Baker moved out to the
assault of Gundigan, clearing the gardens and orchards between him and
that village, and keeping touch as he advanced with the first brigade.

The shell fire compelled the Afghan occupants of Sahibdad to lie close,
and it was not until they were near the village that Macpherson's two
leading regiments encountered much opposition. It was carried at the
bayonet point after a very stubborn resistance; the place was full of
ghazees who threw their lives away recklessly, and continued to fire on
the British soldiers from houses and cellars after the streets had been
cleared. The 92d lost several men, but the Afghans were severely
punished; it was reported that 200 were killed in this village alone.
While a detachment remained to clear out the village, the brigade under a
heavy fire from the slopes and crest of the Fir Paimal hill moved on in
the direction of that hill's south-western extremity, the progress of the
troops impeded by obstacles in the shape of dry water-cuts, orchards, and
walled enclosures, every yard of which was infested by enemies and had to
be made good by steady fighting.

While Macpherson was advancing on Sahibdad, Baker's brigade had been
pushing on through complicated lanes and walled enclosures toward the
village of Gundigan. The opposition experienced was very resolute. The
Afghans held their ground behind loopholed walls which had to be carried
by storm, and they did not hesitate to take the offensive by making
vigorous counter-rushes. Baker's two leading regiments were the 72d and
the 2d Sikhs. The left wing of the former supported by the 5th Goorkhas,
the old and tried comrades of the 72d, assailed and took the village. Its
right wing fought its way through the orchards between it and Sahibdad,
in the course of which work it came under a severe enfilading fire from a
loopholed wall which the Sikhs on the right were attempting to turn.
Captain Frome and several men had been struck down and the hot fire had
staggered the Highlanders, when their chief, Colonel Brownlow, came up on
foot. That gallant soldier gave the word for a rush, but immediately fell
mortally wounded. After much hard fighting Baker's brigade got forward
into opener country, but was then exposed to the fire of an Afghan
battery near the extremity of the Pir Paimal spur, and to the attacks of
great bodies of ghazees, which were withstood stoutly by the Sikhs and
driven off by a bayonet attack delivered by the Highlanders.

The two brigades had accomplished the first part of their task. They were
now in alignment with each other; and the work before them was to
accomplish the turning movement round the steep extremity of the Pir
Paimal ridge. Macpherson's brigade, hugging the face of the elevation,
brought up the left shoulder and having accomplished the turning
movement, swept up the valley and carried the village of Pir Paimal by a
series of rushes. Here, however, Major White commanding the advance of
the 92d, found himself confronted by great masses of the enemy, who
appeared determined to make a resolute stand about their guns which were
in position south-west of the Babawali Kotul. Reinforcements were
observed hurrying up from Ayoub's standing camp at Mazra, and the Afghan
guns on the Kotul had been reversed so that their fire should enfilade
the British advance. Discerning that in such circumstances prompt action
was imperative, Macpherson determined to storm the position without
waiting for reinforcements. The 92d under Major White led the way,
covered by the fire of a field battery and supported by the 5th Goorkhas
and the 23d Pioneers. Springing out of a watercourse at the challenge of
their leader, the Highlanders rushed across the open ground. The Afghans,
sheltered by high banks, fired steadily and well; their riflemen from the
Pir Paimal slopes poured in a sharp cross fire; their guns were well
served. But the Scottish soldiers were not to be denied. Their losses
were severe, but they took the guns at the point of the bayonet, and
valiantly supported by the Goorkhas and pioneers, shattered and dispersed
the mass of Afghans, which was reckoned to have numbered some 8000 men.
No chance was given the enemy to rally. They were headed off from the Pir
Paimal slopes by Macpherson. Baker hustled them out of cover in the
watercourses in the basin on the left, and while one stream of fugitives
poured away across the river, another rolled backward into and through
Ayoub's camp at Mazra.

While Macpherson had effected his turning movement close under the ridge,
Baker's troops on the left had to make a wider sweep before bringing up
the left shoulder and wheeling into the hollow between the Pir Paimal and
the Kharoti hill. They swept out of their path what opposition they
encountered, and moved up the centre of the hollow, where their commander
halted them until Macpherson's brigade on the right, having accomplished
its more arduous work, should come up and restore the alignment. Baker
had sent Colonel Money with a half battalion away to the left to take
possession of the Kharoti hill, where he found and captured three Afghan
guns. Pressing toward the northern end of the hill, Money to his surprise
found himself in full view of Ayoub's camp, which was then full of men
and in rear of which a line of cavalry was drawn up. Money was too weak
to attack alone and sent to General Baker for reinforcements which,
however, could not be spared him, and the gallant Money had perforce to
remain looking on while the advance of Macpherson and Baker caused the
evacuation of Ayoub's camp and the flight of his cavalry and infantry
toward the Urgundab. But the discovery and capture of five more Afghan
cannon near Babawali village was some consolation for the enforced

Considerable numbers of Ayoub's troops had earlier pushed through the
Babawali Pass, and moved down toward the right front of General Burrows'
Bombay brigade in position about Picquet hill. Having assured himself
that Burrows was able to hold his own, Sir Frederick Roberts ordered
Macgregor to move the third brigade forward toward Pir Paimal village,
whither he himself rode. On his arrival there he found that the first and
second brigades were already quite a mile in advance. The battle really
had already been won but there being no open view to the front General
Ross, who commanded the whole infantry division, had no means of
discerning this result; and anticipating the likelihood that Ayoub's camp
at Mazra would have to be taken by storm, he halted the brigades to
replenish ammunition. This delay gave opportunity for the entire
evacuation of the Afghan camp, which when reached without any further
opposition and entered at one P.M. was found to be deserted. The tents
had been left standing; 'all the rude equipage of a half barbarous army
had been abandoned--the meat in the cooking pots, the bread half kneaded
in the earthen vessels, the bazaar with its _ghee_ pots, dried fruits,
flour, and corn.' Ayoub's great marquee had been precipitately abandoned,
and the fine carpets covering its floor were left. But in the hurry of
their flight the Afghans had found time to illustrate their barbarity by
murdering their prisoner Lieutenant Maclaine, whose body was found near
Ayoub's tent with the throat cut. To this deed Ayoub does not seem to
have been privy. The sepoys who were prisoners with Maclaine testified
that Ayoub fled about eleven o'clock, leaving the prisoners in charge of
the guard with no instructions beyond a verbal order that they were not
to be killed. It was more than an hour later when the guard ordered the
unfortunate officer out of his tent and took his life.

The victory was complete and Ayoub's army was in full rout. Unfortunately
no cavalry were in hand for a pursuit from the Mazra camp. The scheme for
intercepting the fugitive Afghans by sending the cavalry brigade on a
wide movement across the Urgundab, and striking the line of their
probable retreat toward the Khakrez valley, may have been ingenious in
conception, but in practice did not have the desired effect. But Ayoub
had been decisively beaten. He had lost the whole of his artillery
numbering thirty-two pieces, his camp, an immense quantity of ammunition,
about 1000 men killed; his army was dispersed, and he himself was a
fugitive with a mere handful along with him of the army of 12,000 men
whom he had commanded in the morning.

The battle of Candahar was an effective finale to the latest of our
Afghan wars, and it is in this sense that it is chiefly memorable. The
gallant men who participated in the winning of it must have been the
first to smile at the epithets of 'glorious' and 'brilliant' which were
lavished on the victory. In truth, if it had not been a victory our arms
would have sustained a grave discredit. The soldiers of Roberts and
Stewart had been accustomed to fight and to conquer against heavy
numerical odds, which were fairly balanced by their discipline and the
superiority of their armament. But in the battle of Candahar the
numerical disparity was non-existent, and Ayoub had immensely the
disadvantage as regarded trained strength. His force according to the
reckoning ascertained by the British general, amounted all told to 12,800
men. The strength of the British force, not including the detail of
Bombay troops garrisoning Candahar, was over 12,000. But this army 12,000
strong, consisted entirely of disciplined soldiers of whom over one-fifth
were Europeans. The accepted analysis of Ayoub's army shows it to have
consisted of 4000 regular infantry, 800 regular cavalry, 5000 tribal
irregular infantry of whom an indefinite proportion was no doubt ghazees,
and 3000 irregular horsemen. In artillery strength the two forces were
nearly equal. When it is remembered that Charasiah was won by some 2500
soldiers of whom only about 800 were Europeans, contending against 10,000
Afghans in an exceptionally strong position and well provided with
artillery, Sir Frederick Roberts' wise decision to make assurance doubly
sure in dealing with Ayoub at Candahar stands out very strikingly.
Perforce in his battles around Cabul he had taken risks, but because
those adventures had for the most part been successful he was not the man
to weaken the certainty of an all-important issue by refraining from
putting into the field every soldier at his disposal. And he was wisely
cautious in his tactics. That he was strong enough to make a direct
attack by storming the Babawali Kotul and the Pir Paimal hill was clear
in the light of previous experience. But if there was more 'brilliancy'
in a direct attack, there was certain to be heavier loss than would be
incurred in the less dashing turning movement, and Sir Frederick with the
true spirit of a commander chose the more artistic and less bloody method
of earning his victory. It did not cost him dear. His casualties of the
day were thirty-six killed including three officers, and 218 wounded
among whom were nine officers.

The battle of Candahar brought to a close the latest of our Afghan wars.
Sir Frederick Roberts quitted Candahar on the 9th September, and marched
to Quetta with part of his division. On the 15th October, at Sibi, he
resigned his command, and taking sick leave to England sailed from Bombay
on the 30th October. His year of hard and successful service in
Afghanistan greatly enhanced his reputation as a prompt, skilful, and
enterprising soldier.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Pisheen and Sibi valleys are the sole tangible results remaining to
us of the two campaigns in Afghanistan sketched in the second part of
this volume--campaigns which cost the lives of many gallant men slain in
action or dead of disease, and involved the expenditure of about twenty
millions sterling. Lord Beaconsfield's vaunted 'scientific frontier,'
condemned by a consensus of the best military opinions, was rejected by
the Liberal Government which had recently acceded to power, whose
decision was that both the Khyber Pass and the Kuram valley should be
abandoned. On this subject Sir Frederick Roberts wrote with great
shrewdness: 'We have nothing to fear from Afghanistan, and the best thing
to do is to leave it as much as possible to itself. It may not be very
flattering to our _amour propre_, but I feel sure I am right when I say
that the less the Afghans see of us the less they will dislike us. Should
Russia in future years attempt to conquer Afghanistan, or invade India
through it, we should have a better chance of attaching the Afghans to
our interest if we avoid all interference with them in the meantime.'
During the winter of 1880-1 the Khyber and the Kuram were evacuated by
the British troops, the charge of keeping open and quiet the former being
entrusted to tribal levies paid by the Indian Government.

So far, then, as regarded the north-western frontier, the _status quo
ante_ had been fallen back upon. But there was a keen difference of
opinion in regard to the disposition of the salient angle furnished by
Candahar. Throughout the British occupation and the negotiations with
Abdurrahman, the annexation of Candahar had been consistently repudiated.
The intention on our part announced was to separate it from Cabul, and to
place it under the independent rule of a Barakzai prince. Such a prince
had actually been appointed in Shere Ali Khan, and although that
incompetent Sirdar was wise enough to abdicate a position for which he
was not strong enough, this action did not relieve us from our pledges
against annexation. Nevertheless many distinguished men whose opinions
were abstractly entitled to weight, were strongly in favour of our
retention of Candahar. Among those were the late Lord Napier of Magdala,
Sir Henry Rawlinson, Sir Edward Hamley, Sir Donald Stewart, and Sir
Frederick Roberts. Among the authorities opposed to the occupation of
Candahar were such men as the late Lord Lawrence and General Charles
Gordon, Sir Robert Montgomery, Lord Wolseley, Sir Henry Norman, Sir John
Adye, and Sir Archibald Alison.

While the professional experts differed and while the 'Candahar debates'
in Parliament were vehement and prolonged, the issue, assuming that
fidelity to pledges was still regarded as a national virtue, was
perfectly clear and simple. In the frank words of Sir Lepel Griffin: 'We
could not have remained in Candahar without a breach of faith.' And he
added with unanswerable force: 'Our withdrawal was in direct accordance
with the reiterated and solemn professions which I had been instructed to
make, and the assurances of the Government of India to the chiefs and
people of Cabul.... The wisdom of the policy of retiring from Candahar
may be a fair matter for argument, but it was one on which both
Governments were agreed. I am convinced that withdrawal, after our public
assurances, was the only practicable policy.'

Lord Ripon acted on his instructions 'to keep in view the paramount
importance of effecting a withdrawal from Candahar on the earliest
suitable occasion.' The abdication of the Wali Shere Ali Khan cleared the
air to some extent. A British garrison under the command of General Hume
wintered in Candahar. Ayoub Khan was a competitor for the rulership of
the southern province, but he received no encouragement, and after some
negotiation the Ameer Abdurrahman was informed that Candahar was
reincorporated with the kingdom of Afghanistan, and it was intimated to
him that the capital would be given over to the Governor, accompanied by
a suitable military force, whom he should send. On the 1st of April an
Afghan force entered Candahar, followed presently by Mahomed Hassan Khan,
the Governor nominated by the Ameer. General Hume soon after marched out,
and after halting for a time in the Pisheen valley to watch the course of
events in Candahar, he continued his march toward India. The restless
Ayoub did not tamely submit to the arrangement which gave Candahar to
Abdurrahman. Spite of many arduous difficulties, spite of lack of money
and of mutinous troops, he set out toward Candahar in July 1881. Mahomed
Hassan marched against him from Candahar, and a battle was fought at
Maiwand on the anniversary of the defeat of General Burrows on the same
field. Ayoub was the conqueror, and he straightway took possession of the
capital and was for the time ruler of the province. But Abdurrahman,
subsidised with English money and English arms, hurried from Cabul,
encountered Ayoub outside the walls of Candahar, and inflicted on him a
decisive defeat. His flight to Herat was followed up, he sustained a
second reverse there, and took refuge in Persia. Abdurrahman's tenure of
the Cabul sovereignty had been at first extremely precarious; but he
proved a man at once strong, resolute, and politic. In little more than a
year after his accession he was ruler of Shere Ali's Afghanistan;
Candahar and Herat had both come to him, and that without very serious
exertion. He continues to reign quietly, steadfastly, and firmly; and
there never has been any serious friction between him and the Government
of India, whose wise policy is a studied abstinence from interference in
the internal affairs of the Afghan kingdom.

       *       *       *       *       *



ABDOOLAH JAN, to be Shere Ali's successor.

ABDURRAHMAN, the Ameer, son of Afzul Khan, the eldest son of Dost
Mahomed, his early career; his connection with Russia; sounded by the
British Government; Sir Lepel Griffin's mission to; enters Afghanistan;
recognised as Ameer; defeats Ayoub Khan; his subsequent reign.

ADAM, Major.

ADVE, Sir John, against keeping Candahar.

AFGHANISTAN, events in, previous to the first Afghan war; 'a bundle of
provinces;' its condition under Abdurrahman.

AFGHAN WAR, FIRST, the responsibility for; objects of and preparations

AFGHAN WAR, SECOND, the policy of England leading to; the force employed
in; tangible results to England.

AFREEDI HILLMEN oppose Pollock.

AFZUL KHAN, the Ameer, eldest son of Dost Mahomed, and father of

ARMED KHEL, battle of.

AIREY, Captain, a hostage.

AKBAR KHAN, son of Dost Mahomed, joins his father with a force; covers
his father's retreat; in Khooloom; among the Ghilzais; in Cabul;
negotiations with Macnaghten; interview with and murder of Macnaghten;
forecast of his intentions; meets the retreating British army at
Bootkhak, his demands; conduct to the fugitives; offers to treat; invests
Jellalabad; resistance to Pollock; treatment of his captives; sends the
body of Elphinstone to Jellalabad.

AKRAM KHAN put to death by Timour.


ALI MUSJID FORT, the, key of the Khyber pass; partially destroyed; Sir
Sam Browne's attack upon.

ALISON, Sir Archibald, against keeping Candahar.

AMEENOOLLA KHAN, an Afghan chief.


ANDERSON, Captain, skirmish with the Ghilzais.

ANDERSON, Mrs, her child.

ANQUETIL, Brigadier, in command of Shah Soojah's contingent; exertions
during the retreat; replaces Shelton in command.

APPLEYARD, at Sir S. Browne's attack upon Ali Musjid.

ASMAI HEIGHTS, the, Afghans driven from; reoccupied; beacon on; fortified
by Sir F. Roberts.


ATTA MAHOMED KHAN, overcome by General Nott.


AUCKLAND, Lord; becomes Governor-General of India 1836, his undecided
policy; treatment of Dost Mahomed's appeal; his policy becomes warlike;
treaty with Runjeet Singh and Shah Soojah; determines to support Shah
Soojah with an army; objects of the expedition; the Simla manifesto;
disagreement with Macnaghten; forbids an expedition against Herat; the
Home Government presses the reconsideration of the Afghan questions;
after the disasters; has the credit of Pollock's appointment.

AUSHAR; Massy at.

AYOUB KHAN, brother of Yakoub, in command of Herat regiments; in
possession of Herat; his victory at Maiwand; besieges Cabul; shifts to
Mazra; defeated by Sir F. Roberts; drives Mahomed Hassan out of Candahar,
defeated by Abdurrahman.


BABA WALI KOTUL, pass of the; cannonaded; village of.

BACKHOUSE, Captain, on the council of war at Jellalabad; his diary.


BADIABAD, the fort of, the captives at the.

BAGHWANA, guns abandoned at; recovered.

BAHADUR KHAN refuses to furnish forage.


BAKER, Brigadier-General; battle of Charasiah; pursues the mutinous
sepoys; in the Maidan valley; marches to Sherpur; takes the Takht-i-Shah;
in the attack on the cantonments; takes the Meer Akhor fort; in the Great
March; his position at Candahar, the battle.


BALLA HISSAR, the; evacuated; Cavagnari at; Sir F. Roberts at; explosions
in, evacuated; road cut through.

BAMIAN, hill country of; Abdurrahman defeated by Yakoub Khan at.


BARTER, Brigadier-General, commands the infantry at Ahmed Khel.

BEACONSFIELD, Lord, 'scientific frontier'.

BEHMAROO RIDGE; village of.

BELLEW, Captain, at the storming of the Rikabashee fort.


BENI BADAM, Baker treacherously attacked at.


BENTINCK, Lord William; his opinion of the first Afghan expedition.

BERLIN, Treaty of.



BIDDULPH, General, in command of the Quetta force.

BIRD, Lieutenant, at the storming of the Rikabashee fort.




BOYD, Mrs, in the retreat.

BROADFOOT, Captain George, his sappers; in the Gundamuk council of war;
garrison engineer at Jellalabad; urges Sale to hold the place; his
account of the council of war.

BROADFOOT, with Fraser's Bengal Cavalry, killed at Purwan Durrah.

BROADFOOT, William, Secretary to Sir A. Burnes, murdered with him.

BROOKE, Brigadier-General, killed in attack on Deh Khoja.

BROWNE, Sir Sam, in command of the Khyber column; attack on the Ali
Musjid; reports the death of Shere Ali; receives Yakoub Khan; commands in
'the Death March'.

BROWNLOW, Colonel, of the 72d Highlanders, in the attack on the
cantonments; killed in the battle of Candahar.


BRYDON, Dr, sole survivor of the Khyber disaster.

BURNES, Sir Alexander, sent by Lord Auckland to Cabul; favourable to Dost
Mahomed, reprimanded by his superiors, leaves Cabul; re-enters with Shah
Soojah; his opinion of Shah Soojah's ministers; advice to Macnaghten; his
character; murdered; revenged.

BURROWS, Brigadier-General, in the Maiwand disaster; in the battle of

BUTLER'S, Lady, picture.

BUTSON, Captain, killed at Sherpur.


CABUL, PASS OF KHOORD; description of, slaughter in; Pollock's army
marches up.

CABUL, Shah Soojah ousted from the throne of; Shah Soojah re-enters;
British troops in; Dost Mahomed surrenders at; murder of Burnes at; Shah
Soojah murdered at; Nott arrives at; punished; Cavagnari at; the Sherpur
cantonments, north of; Roberts near; Mahomed Jan plans to take; hostility
of villages round; Mushk-i-Alum governor of; re-occupied by Roberts;
fortifications and communications improved; Sir Lepel Griffin arrives at;
holds a durbar at.

CAMPBELL, sent by Shah Soojah to assist Burnes, fails.

CANDAHAR, siege of, by Shah Soojah, relieved by Dost Mahomed; entered by
Shah Soojah and Keane; occupied by British troops; independent province
of; Timour, Shah Soojah's viceroy at; British troops to leave; Nott in;
Afghans beaten off; General Stuart's march on; evacuated; to be separated
from Cabul; Shere Ali Khan governor of; Burrow's army withdrawn into; Sir
F. Roberts marches on; arrives at; battle of; question of retention of;
battle between Abdurrahman and Ayoub Khan at.

CAVAGNARI, Sir Louis; ineffectual attempt to enter Cabul; correspondence
with Yakoub Khan; at Cabul, his character; the massacre.

CHAMBERLAIN, Sir Neville, abortive attempt to enter Afghanistan as Envoy.

CHAMBERS, Colonel, defeats the Ghilzais.

CHAPMAN, Colonel (now Major-General) E. F., chief of the staff; in the
Great March; reconnaissance before the battle of Candahar.

CHARASIAH, battle of.


CHARIKAR, capital of the Kohistan, troops quartered in; disaster of;
punishment of; Abdurrahman arrives at.

CHISHOLM, Captain, wounded at the Seah Sung ridge.

CLARK, Lieutenant-Colonel.

CLELAND, gallant conduct of.

CLERK, Mr, demands right of way through the Punjaub.

CLIBBORN, Colonel, defeated by Beloochees.

COBBE, leads the attack of the Peiwar Kotul.

CODRINGTON, commandant of Charikar; killed; revenged.


CONOLLY, Lieutenant John; a hostage.

COOK, Major, V.C., of the Goorkha regiment, killed at the Takht-i-Shah.

COTTON, Sir Willoughby, commands first infantry division; on the march to
Cabul; in chief command in Afghanistan; a respectable nonentity.'.

CRAIGIE, defence of Khelat-i-Ghilzai.

CRISPIN, with Eraser's Bengal Cavalry, killed at Purwan Durrah.

CRUICKSHANK, Captain, killed at the attack on Deh Khoja.

CUNYNGHAM, Lieutenant Dick, V.C., gallant conduct at the Takht-i-Shah.



DADUR, in.


DAOUD SHAH, Yakoub Khan's general; accompanies the Ameer to Roberts'

DEH-I-AFGHAN, a suburb of Cabul.






DENNIE, Colonel, of the 13th, at the taking of Ghuznee; in command at
Bamian; replaces Sale in command; heads a sortie from Jellalabad; in the
council of war; commands the centre at the great sortie and is killed.

DENNIS, Colonel.

DODGIN, Captain, valour in the retreat.


DOST MAHOMED, origin; early career; asks for terms; forsaken by his
troops; a fugitive; in Bokhara and Khooloom; at Bamian and Kohistan;
surrenders to Macnaghten; sent into British India; to be allowed to
return to Afghanistan; his return to his sovereignty; dies.

DREW, Colonel, enters the Peiwar Kotul.

DUNCAN, General.

DUNDAS, Captain, killed at Sherpur.

DUNHAM-MASSY, Brigadier-General.

DURAND, on the siege of Herat; on Lord Auckland's manifesto; on
Macnaghten's appointment; at siege of Ghuznee; on the restoration of Shah
Soojah; on Dost Mahomed's surrender; on the retreat on Jellalabad; on
Macnaghten's ill-faith.


EDWARDES, Sir Henry, on Lord Auckland's manifesto.

ELLENBOROUGH, Lord, on Sale's brigade; first manifesto; vacillations;
orders the removal of the gates of Somnath from Sultan Mahmoud's tomb;
reception of the returning armies.

ELLIS, Mr, British Envoy to Persia.

ELPHINSTONE, General; succeeds Cotton in chief command; his character and
infirmities; orders Sale to return to Cabul; about to leave India; orders
the abandonment of the Commissariat fort; the Duke of Wellington's
verdict on his position; hopeless; 'scents treachery'; calls upon
Pottinger to open negotiations; in the retreat; consents to hand over the
ladies; and their husbands; refuses Akbar's proposal that the Europeans
should lay down their arms; conference; made a hostage; at Jugdulluk;

ELPHINSTONE, Mr, on the Afghan expedition.

ENGLAND, Brigadier, defeated at the Kojuk pass.

EVATT, Surgeon-Major, on the 'Death March.'

EYRE, Vincent, opinion on Shelton's defeat at Behmaroo; description of
the sufferings of the retreat; his 'Captivity.'.


FANE, Sir Harry, Commander-in-Chief; heads the expedition to Cabul.

FARRINGTON, routs Uktar Khan at Zemindawar.


FORBES, Lieutenant, of the 92d Highlanders, killed at the Takht-i-Shah.


FROME, Captain, killed in the battle of Candahar.


FUTTEH ALI, Shah of Persia.

FUTTEH JUNG, second son and successor of Shah Soojah; abdicates.

FUTTEH KHAN, eldest brother of Dost Mahomed, his fate.


GALBRAITH, Colonel, killed at Maiwand.



GHILZAIS, the; description of; brave conduct of under the 'Gooroo,'; gain
terms from Macgregor; attack Sale's force; slaughter by, in the Khoord
Cabul; hang on the rear of the retreat; slaughter by, at Jugdulluk;
attack Pollock; harass Money.


GHUZNEE. siege of; occupied by British troops; surrendered to the
Afghans; retaken by Nott.

GOAD, Captain, killed.



GOOROO, the Ghilzai leader.

GORDON, Colonel, his command in the attack on the Spingawai and Peiwar

GORDON, General Charles, against keeping Candahar.



GOUGH, Captain, with the 9th Lancers; in the charge of December 11th.

GOUGH, General Charles.

GOUGH, General Hugh.

GRANT, Dr, gallant conduct at Charikar.

GREEN, in the Retreat.

GRENADIERS, its, the.

GRIFFIN, Sir Lepel, his mission to arrange for the succession to Yakoub
Khan; on the retention of Candahar.

GRIFFITHS, Major, gallant march from Kubbar-i-Jubbar; storms Mahomed
Shereef's fort.

GUIDES, the; in the attack on the Beni-Hissar.


GUNDAMUK, Sale's council of war at; final tragedy of the Retreat near;
evacuated; Pollock's troops concentrate at; treaty of 1879; conclusion






HAINES, Sir F., Commander-in-Chief.

HALL, Captain.

HAMILTON, Lieutenant W. R. P., V.C., with Cavagnari at Cabul; killed.

HAMLEY, Sir Edward, in favour of keeping Candahar.


HARDY, Lieutenant, killed.


HASSAN KHAN, governor of Maidan, killed.

HAUGHTON, desperately wounded in the Charikar disaster.

HAVELOCK, Captain Henry, aide-de-camp to Sir W. Cotton; on Shah Soojah's
reception in Candahar; description of Shah Soojah; staff officer to Sale;
authenticates Broadfoot's account of Sale's council of war at Jellalabad;
in the great sortie from Jellalabad.

HAY, at the siege of Ghuznee.

HAZARAS, horde of.


HENSMAN, Mr; on the defence of Sherpur; on the battle of Ahmed Khel; on

HERAT, Persia and; siege of, by the Persians; independent; Macnaghten
presses for an expedition against; Ayoub Khan in; Ayoub driven from, by

HIGHLANDERS, the 72d and 92d.

HILLS, Major-General, governor of Cabul.


HOBHOUSE, Sir John Cam, Lord Broughton, president of the Board of
Control, claims the responsibility of the first Afghan war in 1851,
contradictory statement in 1842.

HUFT KOTUL, the; last stand of the Afghans at.

HUGHES, Brigadier-General, at Ahmed Khel.

HUME, General.


HYDER KHAN, son of Dost Mahomed, and governor of Ghuznee, taken prisoner.



INDIAN CONTINGENT in the Mediterranean, the.

INDIKEE, mutinous sepoys captured in.

INDUS, the.


ISTALIF, a Kohistan village destroyed.

JACOB'S RIFLES (30th Native Infantry) at the Maiwand disaster.


JAZEE, Anderson encounters Ghilzais at.

JELLALABAD; British troops quartered in; march on resolved upon; Durand's
opinion of; Akbar's conditions for the evacuation of; defence of; Pollock
at; Elphinstone buried at; partially destroyed; Sir S. Browne's camp
near; disaster to the 10th Hussars near.

JENKINS, Colonel, of the Guides; storms the Asmai heights; adroit
evacuation of Asmai heights.

JENKINS, William, Secretary to Cavagnari.

JOHNSON, Captain, in charge of the Treasury at Cabul; hostage; arranges
the redemption of the captives.

JOHNSON, Colonel Alured, commands the artillery in the Great March.

JUBBUR KHAN, brother to Dost Mahomed, 28; in charge of Dost Mahomed's
family at Khooloom.

JUGDULLUK VALLEY, the; retreating column harassed at; slaughter at;
captives arrive at; Pollock engaged with Ghilzais at.

JULGAH FORT, the, Sale fails to take.



KAMRAN, Shah of Herat.







KAUFMANN, General.

KAYE, Sir John; history of the Afghan war; opinion of Burnes; account of
Macnaghten's murder.

KEANE, Sir John, Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay army; marches towards
Hyderabad; his character; marches on Cabul; siege of Ghuznee; camp near

KELLY, Dr Ambrose, with Cavagnari.

KERSHAW, at siege of Ghuznee.




KHELAT; occupied by Nott.


KHELAT-I-GHILZAI; occupied by Nott; garrisoned; garrison withdrawn; one
of the stages on the Great March.




KHOOLOOM; Akbar at.

KHOOLOOM, Wali of.


KHUSHK-I-NAKHUD, skirmish at.

KHYBER-Jellalabad-Gundamuk route, the.

KHYBER PASS, the; the clans of; Ghilzais intercept the communication by;
Wild fails to force; Pollock marches through; Cavagnari turned back from;
question of the retention of; evacuated.


KILLA KAZEE; Massy at.

KING'S GARDEN, the, at Cabul.



KOH-I-NOOR, the, taken by Runjeet Singh from Shah Soojah.

KOHISTAN, Dost Mahomed in.

KOJUK PASS, the; Brigadier England repulsed at.



KOTWAL OF CABUL, the, tried for the massacre of Cavagnari, etc.






KUSHI; General Roberts meets Yakoub Khan at.



LAHORE, Mr Clerk at.


LANCERS, the 9th.

LANCERS, Bengal, the.

LAWRENCE, Captain, warns Macnaghten; made prisoner; sends messages from
the chiefs to Elphinstone; description of the retreat; made hostage; in

LAWRENCE, Lord, his 'masterly inactivity;' against keeping Candahar.

LEACH, Major.


LOGUR VALLEY, the; plain; river.

LOODIANAH, Shah Soojah's refuge in.

LORD, Dr, political officer in the Bamian district; killed at Purwan

LOVEDAY, Lieutenant, political officer at Khelat, barbarously murdered.


LUGHMANEE, Pottinger besieged in.



LYTTON, Lord, Viceroy, 1876; his instructions; ratifies the treaty of
Gunda-Gundamuk; prepares to revenge Cavagnari; decides that Yakoub Khan
does not return to Afghanistan; recommends Abdurrahman.


MACGREGOR, Brigadier-General Charles, C. B., chief of Sir F. Roberts'
staff; recovers the guns at Baghwana; in the Great March; in the battle
of Candahar.

MACGREGOR, Major, deceived by the Ghilzai chief of Tezeen; Sale's

MACKENZIE, Captain Colin, at the defeat of Dost Mahomed near Bamian;
gallant conduct of; with Macnaghten; a hostage; story of the Retreat.

MACKENZIE, Captain Stuart, gallant conduct of.

MACKESON, political officer at Peshawur.

MACKRELL, Colonel, killed at the storming of the Rikabashee fort.

MACLAINE, Lieutenant, of the Horse Artillery, in the Maiwand disaster;
taken prisoner; murdered.


MACNAGHTEN, Lady; in the Retreat.

MACNAGHTEN, Sir William Hay, envoy to Shah Soojah, influence with Lord
Auckland; his use of bribery; on the reception of the Shah at Candahar;
enters Cabul with Shah Soojah; convinced of the Shah's popularity; real
sovereign of Afghanistan; his mistakes; relations with the Ghilzais;
consents to the abandonment of the Balla Hissar; relations with Herat;
nervous about the communication; relation with Dost Mahomed; proposes to
put a price on his head; receives his surrender; his peculiar
temperament; his finance; discovers the unpopularity of the Shah; his
conduct to the 'Gooroo' and Ghilzais; appointed Governor of Bombay;
called upon to retrench; his conduct to Elphinstone; despatches Sale; his
quarters at Cabul; demands the reduction of the Rikabashee fort;
depression; negotiation about the Retreat; murdered.

MACPHERSON, Brigadier-General; in the December operations round Cabul; in
the Great March; in the battle of Candahar.

MAHMOOD KHAN, fort of.

MAHMOUD SHAH, brother of Shah Soojah.

MAHOMED HASSAN KHAN, Abdurrahman's governor of Candahar, defeated by

MAHOMED JAN, a Warduk general, defends the Asmai heights; attacked by
Massy and Macpherson; attack on the Sherpur cantonments.

MAHOMED MEERZA, Shah of Persia, his ambition, designs on Herat.

MAHOMED SHAH KHAN, Akbar's lieutenant.


MAHOMED SURWAR, agent of Sir Lepel Griffin.



MAINWARING, Mrs, in the Retreat.

MAIWAND; disaster at; battle at, between Mahomed Hassan and Ayoub.



MARSHALL, Colonel, routs Nusseer Khan.

MASSY, Brigadier-General; occupies the Shutargurdan pass; takes
possession of the Sherpur cantonments; in the attack on Mahomed Jan; in
the defence of the Sherpur cantonments.

MAUDE, General.

MAULE, Lieutenant.

MAZRA; Ayoub's camp at, during battle of Candahar.

M'CASKILL, Brigadier-General, with Pollock; in the last skirmishes.

MEER AKHOR FORT, the, blown up.

MEER BUTCHA, a chief of Kohistan.

MEERZA AHMED, a Dooranee chief.

MEHRAB, Khan of Khelat.


M'Neill, British Envoy to Persia.

MOHUN LAL, agent for Macnaghten's 'blood money.'

MONEY, Colonel, left to hold the Shutargurdan pass; brought out by Gough;
in the battle of Candahar.

MONTEATH, Colonel, sent against the Ghilzais; in the council of war at
Jellalabad; at the great sortie.

MONTENARO, Captain, killed at the Meer Akhor fort.

MONTGOMERY, Sir Robert, against keeping Candahar.


MOOLLA SHIKORE, Shah Soojah's minister.


MOORE, Elphinstone's servant.





MUSA KHAN, heir of Yakoub Khan.


MUSHK-I-ALUM, a Moulla of Ghuznee; his influence; governor of Cabul,
fires the beacon on the Asmai heights.

MUSTAPHI, the, punished for the Cavagnari massacre.




NAPIER, Lieutenant Scott, of the 92d Highlanders.

NAPIER, Lord, of Magdala, in favour of keeping Candahar.

NEK MAHOMED KHAN, Afghan commander at the battle of Charasiah.


NEVILLE, of the Bengal Lancers.

NICHOLL, Captain, his heroism in the Retreat.


NORMAN, Sir Henry, against keeping Candahar.

NORTHBROOK, Lord, relations with Shere Ali.

NOTT, General; in command at Candahar; occupies Khelat; his character;
discipline; disagrees with Macnaghten; receives orders from Elphinstone
to evacuate Candahar, refuses to obey; fighting with Meerza Ahmed; his
letter to Brigadier England; Lord Ellenborough repeats orders to evacuate
Candahar, obeys; marches towards Cabul; drives Afghans out of Ghuznee;
refuses to aid in the rescue of the prisoners.

NUGENT, Lieutenant, killed.

NUSSEER, Khan of Khelat.

NUTTALL, General.


OLDFIELD, Captain, in the Council of War at Jellalabad.



OUTRAM pursues Dost Mahomed; raid on the Ghilzais.


PALLISER, Brigadier-General.

PALMER, Colonel, tortured.

PALMERSTON'S, Lord, ultimatum to Persia.




PEAT, Captain, at siege of Ghuznee.


PELLY, Sir Lewis, at the conference of Peshawur.


PERSIA, relations between Great Britain and.



PETROFFSKY, a Russian writer.

PHAYRE, Brigadier-General.

PICQUET HILL, the, attacked by Ayoub Khan.


PISHEEN VALLEY, the; retained by us.

POLLOCK, General; arrives in Peshawur; at Jellalabad; his qualifications;
his work; the rescue and retribution; contrast between Nott and; arrives
at Cabul; punishment of Cabul.

PONSONBY, with Fraser's Bengal Cavalry in Purwan Durrah.

POOLE, Captain, wounded.

POTTINGER, Major, defends Herat against the Persians; warns Macnaghten of
the danger in Kohistan; in the disaster at Charikar; conducts
negotiations for the retreat; a hostage.

POWELL, Captain, killed.

POYNDAH KHAN, father to Dost Mahomed.

PRIMROSE, General; in the battle of Candahar.





QUETTA; occupied.



RAWLINSON, Sir Henry; his warnings to Macnaghten; Macnaghten's orders to,
respecting Uktar Khan; in favour of retaining Candahar.




RIPON, Marquis of, Viceroy; in favour of the settlement with Abdurrahman;
sanctions General Roberts' March on Candahar.

ROBAT, Great March ends at.

ROBERTS, Colonel.

ROBERTS, Sir Frederick, in command of the Kuram column; his scheme of
operations; battle of the Peiwar Kotul; his previous career; with the
army of invasion; battle of Charasiah; at Cabul; revenge for Cavagnari;
intercourse with Yakoub Khan; in the Sherpur cantonment; active
operations round Cabul; on the defensive in Sherpur; the Great March on
Candahar; battle of Candahar; in favour of keeping Candahar.


ROSE, Ensign, in the retreat from Charikar.

ROSS, Major-General John; in the Great March; in the battle of Candahar.

RUNJEET SINGH Sikh ruler of the Punjaub, treatment of Shah Soojah;
occupies Peshawur; death.

RUSSIA, relations with Persia; policy towards Dost Mahomed; Afghanistan
to be used as a 'buffer state' between British India and; Russo-Turkish
war; relations with Abdurrahman; opinion of Roberts on Afghanistan and.


SAFI TRIBE, the, engage Macpherson.

SALE, Lady, her journal; account of the Retreat; Akbar's kindness to.

SALE, Sir Robert; at siege of Ghuznee; in command at Cabul; chastises the
Kohistanees; his character; fighting in the Khoord Cabul at Bootkhak; at
Gundamuk; occupies Jellalabad; defence of Jellalabad; fighting with the
Ghilzais at Jugdulluk; ordered to rescue captives.

SALEH MAHOMED KHAN, arranges the escape of the captives.




SCOTT, Major.

SCHUYLER, Mr Eugene, interviews Abdurrahman.



SEISTAN, province of.

SHAFTO, Captain, killed at the Balla Hissar.






SHAKESPEAR, Sir Richmond.


SHELTON. Brigadier, arrives at Jellalabad; character; at Cabul; receives
contradictory orders from Macnaghten; in the Balla Hissar; takes the
Rikabashee fort; opposes the removal of the troops into the Balla Hissar;
attacks Bemaroo; commands the main body in the Retreat; his dogged
valour; a hostage.


SHERE ALI, the Ameer, son of Dost Mahomed, accession and character;
refuses to receive a Resident; negotiations with Lord Lytton; cordial
reception of the Russians, refuses to receive Sir Neville Chamberlain;
death at Balkh; his mistakes.

SHERE ALI KHAN, Wali of Candahar; abdicates.

SHERPUR CANTONMENTS, the; description of; operations round; defence of;
durbar at; interview between Sir Donald Stewart and Abdurrahman at.



SHUMSHOODEEN, an Afghan leader.


SIBI; retained by us.





SKINNER, Captain, a hostage.

SLADE, at the Maiwand disaster.

SOMNATH, gates of.

SOOJAH-OOL-MOOLK, Shah; early career; intrigues; Lord Auckland determines
to restore him; his share in the expedition; replaced on the throne,
entry into Cabul; his position; with Macnaghten at Cabul; refuses to see
Dost Mahomed; goes to Jellalabad; his errors; disaffection towards him;
recommends the occupation of the Balla Hissar; stipulations with regard
to; remains in Cabul; letter to Sale at Jellalabad; murdered.


SOUTER, Captain, escapes from the slaughter at Gundamuk.

SPENS, Captain of the 72d Highlanders, killed.

SPINGAWAI KOTUL, the, attack on, by Roberts.

STANHOPE, Mr, on the treaty of Gundamuk.

STEWART, Sir Donald; marches into Candahar; begins his march to Cabul;
battle of Ahmed Khel and Urzoo; continues his march to Cabul; relations
with Abdurrahman; in favour of keeping Candahar.

ST JOHN, Colonel.

STODDART, Colonel.

STOLIETOFF, defender of the Schipka pass, received by Shere Ali.


STRATON, Captain.








SWAYNE, Major.





TASHKEND, Russians at; Shere Ali at; Abdurrahman at.



THELWALL, Brigadier.

THOMSON, engineer to Keane.

TIMOUR, Prince, son of Shah Soojah, supported by Runjeet Singh; Soojah's
viceroy at Candahar; cruelty.


TODD, Major, political agent in Herat.


TREVOR, with Macnaghten at his death; murdered.

TROUP, Captain.

TUNGHEE TARIKI, gorge of, scene of slaughter.





UKTAR KHAN, a discontented Dooranee chief; Macnaghten offers reward for
his head.



URZOO, affair of.


VAKEEL, the, obnoxious minister of Shah Soojah.




WADE, escorts Prince Timour by the Khyber route.

WALI MAHOMED, governor designate of Turkestan.

WARREN, evacuates the Commissariat fort.

WATSON, Colonel, in command of the Sikh Feudatory contingent.

WELLESLEY, the Marquis, criticism on Lord Auckland's decision.

WELLINGTON, Duke of, criticism on Lord Auckland's decision; on
Elphinstone's position at Cabul; on English troops v. hillmen.

WHITE, Major, of the 92d Highlanders, at the attack on Beni Hissar; in
the battle of Candahar.

WILD, Brigadier, attempts to force the Khyber pass.

WILLSHIRE, General, harassed in the Bolan pass; punishes Khelat.

WOLSELEY, Lord, against keeping Candahar.

WORSLEY, Colonel.

WYMER, Colonel, hard fighting with the Ghilzais.



YAKOUB KHAN, son of Shere Ali, released and made regent; intercourse with
Sir Sam Browne; question of his complicity in the Cavagnari massacre;
takes refuge in the English camp; a prisoner; the Viceroy's decision
against his return to power.

YAR MAHOMED, Shah Kamran's minister.



ZAKARIAH KHAN, Yakoub's brother.

ZANDEH, captives carried to.

ZEMINDAWAR, country of.

ZIMMA, Abdurrahman and Sir Lepel Griffin at.


       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

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