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Title: Military Service and Adventures in the Far East: Vol. 1 (of 2) - Including Sketches of the Campaigns Against the Afghans - in 1839, and the Sikhs in 1845-6.
Author: MacKinnon, Daniel Henry
Language: English
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  AND THE SIKHS IN 1845-6.



  VOL. I.



  of the
  Late Field of Operations
  on the






I shall not venture, in accordance with modern usage, to compose
an elaborate panegyric and exhaust the epithets of flattery in my

Such an essay would be out of my power, and far beneath Sir Henry's




    Arrival in India, and march to the north-western provinces      p. 1


    Visit to the Himalayah mountains                                  33


    Matters relating to the Afghans--March through Delhi to
    Ferozepore--Runjeet's interview--March towards Buhawulpore        49


    Arrival at Buhawulpore--Sir Henry Fane's interview with
    the Khan--Progress to Scinde across the Indus                     78


    Advance from Shikarpore--Passage through the Bolan Pass
    into Afghanistan--Advance from Quetta                             98


    Kandahar--Murder of Lieut. Inverarity--The army concentrated--Advance
    by the valley of the Turnuk upon Ghuzni                          130


    Storm and capture of Ghuzni--Advance to meet Dost Mahomed--His
    army desert him, and he flies towards the Hindoo Koosh           159


    Arrival at Caubul--Death of Colonel Arnold--Return of the
    expedition in pursuit of Dost Mahomed--The Russian
    bugbear--Fall of Khelat                                          184


    The army at Caubul broken up--March of Sir John Keane's
    escort by Jellalabad, and through the Khyber Pass, to
    Peshawur                                                         211


    Peshawur--Skirmishes with the Khyberees across the
    Indus--Manikyala--The passage of the Jhelum                      244


    Cross the Chenab and Ravee--Arrive at Lahore--Lahore--Ceremonial
    visits--Review of the Sikh army--Recross
    the Sutlej--March to cantonments                                 272





Any one who has coasted the Andamans will bear witness to the beauty
of those Islands, of which, at the time I visited them, marvellous
tales were related. The predilection of the inhabitants of those
realms for their white brethren, when shipwrecked on these shores, was
said to have been evinced in a manner singularly contrasted to other
philanthropists, for they actually devoured them. It has moreover been
stated, that the biped islanders were not the only philanthropists
dwelling in these alluring scenes, but that the woods swarmed with a
variety of wild beasts, who were also epicures in human flesh. It is,
indeed, wonderful that man, being so great a luxury, should continue to
exist in such regions. Unfortunately, we were unable to put any reports
to the test, not having set foot ashore.

The sun, which had been shining brilliantly all the morning over these
green isles, became obscured in the afternoon, when a breeze springing
up soon caused a musical ripple of the waters, and wafted us in four
days to the Sandheads; where, receiving our pilot on board, we coasted
the low sandy ridge of Saugar, and anchored off Kedgeree, there to
await the steamer which was to tow us up the Hoogly to the capital.

No sooner was our anchor dropped, than the river suddenly swarmed
with boats full of the wildest-looking savages, in a perfect state of
nature, saving a dingy clout bound about their waists. The hair hung
like horses' tails over the shoulders of some; others had gathered up
and twisted the sable mass into a knot on the top of their heads, which
led us into considerable doubt as to the gender of the individuals,
this being the generally approved method of arranging the hair amongst
the ladies of our northern climes. But we did injustice, in this
instance, to the more gentle and better sex, who in this region are
as superior in shape and feature to the males, as an English woman
is to every other on the face of the earth! Nevertheless, these dusky
anatomies possessed singularly Stentorian lungs, as we experienced when
they came whooping and jabbering alongside.

Our worthy mate, being thoroughly versed in savage intercourse, loudly
exclaimed, "Ho! you d--d Dinghee Wallahs! nickal jao there, will you?
Quartermaster, hand up a bit of pork, heave it into that boat astern,
and shove off those shoals at the gangway."

The sovereign remedy, a bit of pork, was carefully distributed among
the boats, and relieved us of their presence; for when the savoury
morsel alighted, they cast off, eyeing us with as much sorrowful
disgust as the bit of unclean animal, which was taken up by one of the
boatmen between two sticks, thrown overboard, and the polluted spot
well scoured with the mud and water of the brown Hoogly.

In the afternoon, I went ashore, at Kedgeree, with a party of officers,
to shoot. We wandered in various directions over the marshy rice
fields, and through the low jungle, in quest of game: most of us loaded
one barrel with small shot, and the other with ball, being uncertain as
to the probability of meeting with a tiger or a snipe in those unknown
regions; but fortune having conceded neither, we returned at nightfall
to the appointed rendezvous for re-embarking, and found the ship's
boats had returned on board: our two linguists had gone with them. As
it was getting pitch dark, our prospects of a comfortable night's rest
were becoming correspondingly gloomy. In these straits, we wandered
along the banks to a village, where, endeavouring to make the natives
aware of our wants by signs, they immediately brought us some fruits,
making countersigns for money; that and food being pretty nearly the
sum total of their worldly concernments. At this juncture, one of our
party returned from a successful forage, having found a tent occupied
by a European.

We hastened readily to the canvas abode, and our deliverer having
treated us to a few tumblers of cold water, and explained our wishes to
the natives, in a few minutes we each mounted our savage, and rode him
over the mud and water to a canoe moored near the bank.

An hour's hard rowing, enlivened, at times, by the wild and discordant
singing, or rather yelling, of our swarthy boatmen, brought us once
more alongside the ship, anything but pleased with our first excursion
on the shores of Hindostan.

I am persuaded that the phosphorescent appearance which we often
observe on the ocean, must hold some invisible and fiery influence
over the minds of those whose business for a time is on the great
waters. To this cause I venture to attribute the strong matrimonial
epidemic which broke out on board our trusty ship, many marriages being
meditated, and some celebrated by certain of my fellow-passengers.
The gaiety which ought to be consequent on weddings was not, at
first, very perceptible; but this, I take it, was mainly attributable
to the nautical stomach-pump, which took severe effect during the
first fortnight, principally, (I lament to say,) on the fair sex. The
operations of this fearful tormentor at length ceased. Had the immortal
Lawrence Sterne but enjoyed the advantages of a voyage to India, what
a mighty field would have been thrown open for the indulgence of his
favourite reflections to the edification of his readers and advancement
of natural philosophy. But he and his class have long passed from among
us, and I must leave to such as deem themselves competent to the task,
the elucidation of a theory, (holding doubtless the most absolute
influence over the intricate human system,) a subject far too abstruse
for this feeble pen.

Having spent two days at anchor off Kedgeree, on the third morning we
joyfully descried a dark little steamer, which, though more resembling
a demon than a saint, proved our deliverer from the shoals of the muddy

The slimy banks of the river, fringed at a short distance from the
water with stunted jungle, gradually gave place to a more civilized
appearance as we advanced up the stream; and on rounding Garden Reach,
the view was eminently beautiful. The neat villas of the Calcutta
merchants, now partially hidden amongst their gardens and shrubberies,
and now bursting full upon the view--the river, with the ceaseless stir
of business skimming across its waters, and the distant prospect of the
city of palaces, flanked by a forest of bare and taper masts, presented
altogether a picture of exciting interest, especially to one about to
set foot for the first time in a new country, and, to him, almost a new

We came to anchor, on the third morning after quitting Kedgeree,
under the walls of Fort William, and found H.M.'s third Dragoons
encamped on the glacis. About four in the afternoon, the heat having
considerably abated, we disembarked, and marched into the Fort, where
quarters had been provided for our men, though none for the officers,
as the brigade-major informed us, at the same time stating, that as
a difference of opinion existed on that subject between himself and
the fort-major, we must wait until he (of the Queen's) had craftily
overcome him (of the Company's), and induced the latter individual to
house us.

There is an old proverb about a man between two stools being likely to
come to the ground, which was fully illustrated in our case, for, both
of our supports for a night's rest in Fort William having given way, we
came to the earth, though fortunately in the tents of the 3rd Dragoons,
immediately under the walls of the fort, where our fall was kindly
broken by cloaks spread on the ground to receive us.

I was composing myself to sleep as comfortably as circumstances would
permit, when suddenly a volley of screams, as though proceeding from
the lungs of ten thousand demons, caused me to start on my feet,
supposing the camp to have been invaded by the infernal regions. My
host, lying in the opposite recess of the tent, being a man of some
days' experience, begged me not to disturb myself, as it was only the
jackals. "Only the jackals!" but they are pretty nearly enough to
murder sleep, I thought, as I laid myself down to await the cessation
of their intolerable howls.

Silence at length ensued, and I was just falling asleep, when a
low gurgling noise arose close to my ears, and continued with the
most monotonous regularity: "Good Heaven!" I cried, after listening
intently for a few minutes, "that must come from the diabolical
bandicoots, of which I have often heard from old Indians." I drew my
sword, and awaited their advance in a violent perspiration, for I have
an insuperable abhorrence to the whole rat tribe; but they had no
intention of coming to close quarters. No, their cursed pipes sounded
the advance, unheeded by the main body. My enemies, nevertheless,
seemed to be mustering; for the gurgle was taken up by a reinforcement
from the opposite side of the tent, interrupted occasionally by a low,
muttering sound:

  "Jam jam efficaci do manus scientiæ.

"I submit; it is impossible to sleep through this interminable
persecution, and a man's days in this climate must be necessarily
short without rest!" Thus I exclaimed, as, jumping up, I threw my
cloak aside, and paced the tent in a fever, saluted incessantly by the
unearthly gurgle.

My friend lay on the opposite side, sleeping as calmly as if there were
no such things in the world to torture us as jackals or bandicoots.

The morning was just breaking, and I stepped out of the tent, in hope
of being taken for a ghost by the jackals, and thus retaliating by
fright on a portion of my enemies--when, lo! the veil of mystery was
withdrawn, and there sat two Hindoos smoking the pipe of the country,
commonly known by the name of hubble-bubble, which noisy instrument I
had mistaken all night for the bandicoots.

This was too absurd. I burst into a fit of laughter, which awakened
my friend, who hastily joined me, when I related my grievance. Having
silenced the smokers, I soon enjoyed the rest I had almost despaired of

The following day, having stated our houseless condition to Sir
Willoughby Cotton, commanding the division, we were, by his order,
allotted quarters in the Fort, where the bugs and mosquitoes were as
unwelcome visitants as the jackals and hubble-bubbles of the preceding

Having procured some native servants, deposited our baggage in the
barracks, and bought large cane bedsteads with mosquito curtains,
we began to consider ourselves in clover, though our ignorance of
Hindustani left us completely at the mercy of the natives, my sirdar
(valet) being not of the most intelligent order. At night, when he had
succeeded in clearing my bed of mosquitoes, and carefully arranged the
curtains, I signed to him to take away the light. He immediately left
the room, but took not the candle. "Sirdar!" He immediately re-entered.
I telegraphed him with much energy, pointing to the candle and thence
to the door. He shook his head and looked bewildered. This was not to
be endured; I darted out of bed to extinguish the light; and a colony
of mosquitoes, who had been awaiting this opportunity, immediately
established themselves inside, and conversed with me during the night.

Notwithstanding our numerous tormentors, the season of the year at
which we landed was the coolest and most salubrious of any--that
is, the mornings were coldest, and the mid-day heat was also at its
minimum; but even a December sun, at noon, was not to be encountered
with impunity.

I sallied forth in one of those coffin-like conveyances termed
palanquins, to visit the city, which is about a mile distant from the
fort, and extends along the banks of the river. Enormous store-houses
and merchants' offices skirt the river; but the interior of the city,
and especially that portion adjacent to the plain around Fort William
contains several fine public buildings and extensive private mansions.
The streets and squares are wide and handsome; but the bazaars and
the portion of the town tenanted by natives are wretchedly narrow and
confined, and usually thronged nearly to suffocation; for the natives
love to huddle together in contradistinction to the whites, who seem
even on this broiling and dreary side of the world to preserve that
cold and forbidding demeanour which distinguishes the English in
particular from other nations of the globe.

I believe the case was materially different a few years ago; but we
found cause to remark, during our fortnight's sojourn in Calcutta,
that we had experienced less hospitality and more incivility than in
any other city of the world, not excepting even New York. The then
revolution in the social system of the East has been attributed to the
recent establishment of hotels in the city, but this appears more of a
subterfuge than a palliation. The absence of the governor-general and
commander-in-chief, who were at that time in the upper provinces, had
drained Calcutta of the best of its population, as we were informed
and afterwards experienced; and we therefore saw the place under
unfavourable circumstances.

After a comfortless delay of a fortnight, in this city of contrasted
luxury and indigence, we gladly received the route to march for our
destination in the north-western provinces.

Having provided ourselves with tents, and bullock hackeries for the
conveyance of them and our baggage, we left Calcutta about sunrise on
the 4th January, and marched along the banks of the river, through
avenues of cocoa-nut and palm trees, to our first encampment, a
distance of about ten miles.

Our party mustered nearly five hundred strong, and included detachments
for all of her Majesty's regiments in the upper provinces. Both
officers and privates were, almost to a man, commencing their first
march in India, or, to use an Indian expression, "griffins;" and
in consequence many forebodings had been uttered, in Calcutta, of
depredations, blunders, and miseries we were to encounter: "mais il est
plus facile d'être sage pour les autres, que de l'être pour soi-même,"
saith Rochefoucauld, and with truth, in the present instance, for we
encountered few of the ills presaged by the Indian prophets, who had
probably drawn their conclusions from sad experience.

The second morning we marched in the dark, and reached the river Hoogly
about daylight. The transit occupied the greater portion of the day,
having to unload the beasts of burden and convey the men and baggage
in boats. The most interesting and novel sight to us was that of the
huge elephants swimming across this broad and rapid river, with the
mahout, or driver, standing or sitting on their necks. Immediately the
elephant gets beyond his depth, his whole body and head disappear, and
nothing is seen to mark his locale, save the head and shoulders of the
mahout. The obedient monster performs the submarine passage with an
occasional jerk of the head and trunk out of water, to take breath and
see where he is going, although in the latter instance he is generally
subservient to his driver.

Some accidents were nearly occurring from the elephants having been
swept down by the current among the boats in which the troops were
crossing, but the mahouts piloted their charges dexterously through the
fleet, without a single collision.

After crossing the Hoogly, we marched, for the first few days, through
a well cultivated country, but afterwards struck into a newly made
road, lying amid thick low jungle, until we reached the Rajmahal
hills, which in some places are thickly and prettily wooded, whilst
the intervening plains and valleys diversify the scene with their
irregular patches of Indian corn, sugar cane, and barley fields. The
Rajmahal hills abound with bears, tigers, wild hog, and elephants; but
all chance of sport in wild beast hunting was denied us; we had no
shikar wallahs, or sporting elephants among our party; for in India
it is quite as necessary--nay, more so--that the elephant should be
a sporting character as the rider, for the uninitiated usually dread
the sight of a wild beast, and at the critical moment of encounter
the unhappy sportsman often finds himself involuntarily taking to an
ignominious flight. It is impossible to beat the heavy coverts of this
part of India, with a moderate chance of success, except on elephants.
Our principal amusement during the whole march consisted in partridge
and snipe shooting, and even these were exceedingly scarce in the
neighbourhood of our camp; but this was on account of the distance we
generally kept from the Ganges, the banks of which are well supplied
with game. In fact, throughout India, game is rarely found anywhere
save in the vicinity of rivers, theels, or inundated ground.

Our friends, the jackals, continued their nightly lamentations,
varied occasionally by the deep bass of a bear, or hyæna's eccentric
cry; but I heard of only one actual encounter between man and beast
in the Rajmahals, which was between an infantry soldier and a bear,
beside the stump of an old tree, which both approached, unconscious
of each other's presence, to use as a seat. Having eyed one another
with feelings of mutual aversion, they executed a chassée-croisée,
and parted. When a bear is desirous of being on intimate terms with
a man, he rears himself on his hind legs, and advances to embrace,
but the cruel sportsman marks, with his keen eye, a white mark on the
affectionate creature's breast, and repays the advance by a bullet
sent through this vital spot--that is, if his hand be steady enough to
execute the act of ingratitude.

On emerging from the hills, we marched over an almost uninterrupted
plain, which preserves the same smooth features almost to the very foot
of the Himalayahs.

After an uninteresting and monotonous march of four hundred miles,
which occupied about six weeks, always halting on Sundays, the first
military station we reached was the sacred city of Benares. Here we
crossed the Ganges, above whose muddy waters we descried the minarets
of the holy places towering in the cloudless sky, and, from their
lofty relief, rendering more apparent the insignificance of the low mud
and brick dwelling-places clustered around their bases.

The cantonments lie about four miles from the city, laid out with
strict military precision: most of the officers' bungalows thatched
with dry grass, standing in the midst of their square compounds,
enclosed by a high mud wall.

Even the native soldiers are different looking beings from their
unenlisted brethren, and stalk along with the conscious importance of
improved condition.

The roads, which are made of concha,[1] are broad and excellent, and
everything wears an air of starch discipline.

Near the cantonment lived a Madras rajah, who, having been deprived of
his power and estates in that presidency, had been transplanted here
and pensioned by government. With the customary adulation of the East,
he readily licks the hands of his oppressors, apes English manners, and
courts English society.

I accompanied a brother officer, who had been previously acquainted
with him, to the rajah's mansion, which was a comfortable residence,
without any attempt at magnificence. The room into which we were
ushered was adorned with pictures representing the victories of
Wellington, Nelson, and Napoleon. After keeping us some time
waiting, his highness at length made his appearance. He was a tall,
sallow-complexioned man, attired in a white frock coat, black silk
handkerchief, brown silk pajamas,[2] and red morocco slippers.
Supposing the principal means of entertaining Englishmen to be the
satisfying of their appetites, he lost not a minute in introducing
us to the supper-table, where he begged us to be seated, setting the
example himself--at least, if his might be termed an example, for he
perched himself most uncomfortably on the extreme edge of a large
arm-chair, and with the assistance of its arms and his own, managed to
preserve a very precarious equilibrium.

As it is very difficult for a person to feel at ease when he perceives
that his companion is not, I hoped every instant to see him glide from
the chair, and squat on the floor, in the position natural to his
countrymen, but he did not, in this instance, gratify us or himself.

Supper being over, we adjourned to an inner room, where, to my
surprise, we were presented to his wife and daughters. The former
was about thirty years of age, glittering with jewels, and retaining
visible proofs of having been a beauty in her day. Her eldest daughter,
about thirteen years of age, (advanced womanhood in India,) was the
most perfect dark beauty I have ever seen: her figure was slight, yet
round and elegant--as are those of most Indian women of high caste; an
invidious veil covered the greater portion of her glossy hair, but her
clear olive complexion, and lustrous black eyes--too dazzling to be
looked on with impunity--were a _chef-d'oeuvre_ of Nature. Never, till
that night, did I bitterly repent my neglect of the Hindustani tongue.

The rajah told us that he fully intended to pass the evening of his
days in England, where his beautiful daughter, with her ample dowry,
will probably become the victim of some expert adventurer.

Having halted two days at Benares, we proceeded through as
uninteresting a country as before, passing, occasionally, a mud town
or village, with the usual appendages of a small grove of trees and a
few square patches of cultivation round the wells, whilst two or three
hundred natives, huddled together, and squatted like so many vultures
on the walls and by the road-side, watched our onward progress, and
chattered their rapid jargon.

Ten marches from Benares we again crossed the Ganges where it unites
its polluting waters with those of the rocky and clear Jumna, and
entered the cantonments of Allahabad. The fort commands a view of the
two rivers as they flow onwards to their junction, immediately under
its walls; but excepting these waters, the eye wanders over a continued
parched and arid plain, save where a small grove of trees presents
occasionally a relieving object.

The festival of the Mohurrem was about to take place as we quitted
Allahabad. The scenes of riot and debauchery annually consequent on
this as well as other festivals, have entailed a lasting disgrace
on the government of India, which not only tolerates, but actually
encourages them. Nor has it scrupled to convert the superstition of
the deluded natives into a substantial accession to the revenues of
the country. Those who may be affected with any scruples on this
subject, possibly reconcile the matter to their conscience by the
disbursement of a few rupees annually for the maintenance of a handful
of missionaries to convert the people of India to Christianity; but
it will require something more than the present feeble efforts to
accomplish that object, and possibly a little more sincerity in the
authors of such an endeavour. In these modern days of toleration, it
will hardly answer to follow the policy of the Emperor Julian towards
the early Christians, and apply it to the Mussulman or Hindoo--as, when
the emperor says, "I show myself the true friend of the Galileans.
Their admirable law has promised the kingdom of heaven to the poor,
and they will advance with more diligence and virtue in the paths of
salvation when they are relieved, by my assistance, from the load of
temporal possessions."[3]

The dust on the road between Allahabad and Cawnpore passeth all
understanding. The head of our column got along tolerably well, not
sinking much above their knees in the impalpable soil; but the centre
and rear staggered blindly onward, and not unfrequently downward,
through the clouds raised by their predecessors, till they reached more
substantial ground; others jostled against mud walls and trees, trod
on their neighbour's toes, or, wandering from their comrades, groped
their way out of the dense atmosphere, and only discovered the locality
of the column by the glimpse of a few miller-like objects preceding the

Ten marches from Allahabad, over roads of the above description, and
through a country which, being hid by a dusty screen, I seldom saw, and
cannot therefore describe, brought us into the cantonments of Cawnpore,
which appear to rise like a city in the desert. Not a tree was to be
seen, and scarce a vestige of animal or vegetable life was presented
to our view, as the morning broke upon us crossing the arid and almost
trackless plain near Cawnpore. At length, when the sun arose, a dim
line of conical objects was descried through the lurid atmosphere, and,
at the same time, the roar of some half-dozen pieces of cannon, at
practice on the plain, announced the vicinity of cantonments.

Here the men of the detachments were placed in barracks, and the
officers' tents pitched in a compound, where the sun blazed fiercely
enough to roast a live lobster in his shell, though, from our species
of that animal, nothing was elicited beyond moisture and murmuring.

Three days having been passed in this eligible situation, I was
despatched up the country with my own detachment and sundry others for
regiments in the north-western provinces, an escort of a havildar[4]
and twelve Sepoys having been provided to _take charge_ of us, which
trust they faithfully performed.

At this time, a dreadful famine was prevalent in the districts through
which we passed, which was fearfully evidenced by the appalling sights
we daily witnessed on the march. Living skeletons crowded round us
in thousands, stretching forth their meagre hands and supplicating
relief with countenances which beggared description. Scarcely a mile of
ground was passed without seeing some wretched creature breathing his
last by the road-side, or some, whose sufferings ended, were affording
a scanty meal to the famished Pariah dogs. All caste and heathenish
scruples were overcome by the craving for food, and the poor creatures
tore each other in the avidity with which they scrambled for bones or
offal thrown to them by the soldiers. The myriads which thronged our
camp became a crying nuisance; and the dictates of humanity were so far
repressed by the calls of duty and necessity, that I was compelled to
encircle our small encampment with a chain of sentries to exclude them,
and prevent their diseases from spreading amongst our own camp.

No permanent relief could be afforded by our people, and the bestowal
of a morsel here and there was merely a protraction of suffering.

About fifty miles from Cawnpore, and on the banks of the former bed
of the Ganges, are the ruins of Kanoge, formerly one of the principal
cities of India, and by some supposed to have been the limit of
Alexander the Great, in his Eastern campaign.[5]

Above the congregated heaps of mud and brick are seen the white domes
of monuments and temples of later construction, like the ghosts of
decayed Eastern grandeur peering out on the surrounding desolation. The
vicinity of an ancient ruin incites most of us to a contemplative mood.
We reflect on the scenes that have been enacted there when the building
was tenanted, and its inmates were playing their part on the stage
of life. It is true, that the events of those days we have wandered
back upon, may not have been a whit more interesting than those at
present before us; yet Time generally hallows the past with a certain
veneration, especially when connected with associations of classical
antiquity such as may be conjured up in Kanoge; and the faintest
evidence may lead us to walk on the track of the mighty Macedonian, and

  "Hic illius arma--
  Hic currus fuit."

The atmosphere of Kanoge certainly conveys a sense of desolation
surpassing that of any other ruinous city I have visited, and mutely
explains its fallen condition unaided by native legends or speculative
historians. I have read many discussions on the present and past state
of this city; but none, I am convinced, could have visited it at a more
impressive period than I did, when a dreadful famine was testifying
itself in the faces and forms of the scanty, emaciated inhabitants.

Advancing up the country, we found during nearly every march a grove
of trees sufficiently extensive to encamp under, which sheltered
us considerably from the sun and dust, both of which were becoming
seriously disagreeable, especially the latter, which rose daily about
noon, with the wind setting in at that time, and lasted till sunset,
when it dropped, leaving everything in the tent buried an inch deep in
dust; and then came our ancient enemies the mosquitoes.

Three weeks marching carried us over two hundred miles of country,
and to a town called Koorja, within sixty miles of Merut, where we
experienced a severe typhoon, which, though of common occurrence
in Upper India, was the first I had seen, and the most destructive
that had been felt that season. It came on suddenly about four in
the afternoon, having given us no notice of its approach, for the
appearance all round had been hazy during the afternoon. In five
seconds, we were enveloped in complete darkness, caused by clouds of
sand and dust raised by the tempest, and whirled through the air. The
howling of the storm was accompanied by almost incessant peals of
thunder. As the typhoon increased in violence, the fiery appearance
of the dust, from the continued gleaming of lightning, presented a
singular effect. In the course of a quarter of an hour, two tents
were levelled and torn to pieces, and my own quivered to such a
degree, that, expecting to be carried away with it, I got clear of the
impending wreck, and, groping my way out to leeward, came immediately
in contact with a huge bullock. Any port in a storm, thought I, as I
clung to the monster's horns for an anchorage. He, like an unfeeling
brute, struggled hard to get rid of the burden; and the contest was
at the fiercest, when, coming in contact with a hackery, to which he
was attached, we both rolled on the ground together. "Taree machee!"
screamed an unhappy gharuwan,[6] against whom we fell; but his
invective was cut short by a kick in the stomach from my antagonist.
Rejoiced to find a more passive assistant in the hackery-wheels, I
let go the refractory bullock, and held on by the cart until the
storm abated. This took place in a few minutes; when, creeping from
my shelter, amid a deluge of rain, into a portion of the tent that
fortunately remained standing, I lay in comparative comfort, listening
to the retiring rattle of the thunder.

We then set about repairing the damages of the camp, and soon put it in
condition to afford shelter for the night.

At daybreak, the whole country appeared one sheet of water, through
which we marched; and, having lost our guide, soon afterwards lost our
way. Having wandered some miles in search of a road, we came at length
to a village, where, seizing upon an unwilling guide, we were by him
conducted across country, or rather across water, to our destination.

The land assumed a more green and cheerful aspect for the last five
marches into Merut, which we reached, without any further accidents, on
the 10th of April.

As the hot winds, which are not agreeable "compagnons de voyage," were
daily expected to set in, we congratulated ourselves on the conclusion
of this long and weary march of nearly nine hundred miles, which was
accomplished in ninety-six days.

Although the labours of the march were ended, I felt myself far from
comfortable in my new quarters, for the greater part of my baggage
was on the Ganges--some eight hundred miles off; I was not settled
in any habitation; and lastly, I was among strangers: the two latter
objections were soon overcome, but the former I found a serious

No life of which I can form an estimate, even that on board ship, can
present fewer attractions than a residence, during the hot season, in
India. In the upper provinces, about the end of April, the hot winds
come rushing from the sandy deserts to the westward, bearing on their
fiery wings columns of burning dust, which penetrate to every room in
the house, and replenish the eyes, ears, and mouth of the sufferer who
ventures to face them faster than he can dispose of the nuisance. A
framework of bamboos, covered with long roots of grass termed cuscus,
is placed against the windows and doors to the westward, which are
continually watered outside by a native, at the expense of keeping up
his attention by an occasional "halloo." About sunset, the wind usually
drops, and the air remains impregnated with particles of fiery red
dust; and as that is the time for coming out of the heated dwelling to
swallow the hotter air outside, we may as well change the subject, for
it is not likely to prove interesting or agreeable.

Towards the end of June, these messengers of the desert cease to
arrive; a calm interval (but rather a _restless_ calm) succeeds, which
is shortly broken, if the season be favourable, by the approach of
heavy columns of clouds from the east, which burst over the thirsty
plains of India like angels' visits. The sensation of renovated
existence conveyed by this first fall of rain both to animal and
vegetable may be imagined even by those who have witnessed the rare
effect of a short summer's drought in rainy England.

From the descriptions I had heard of our present quarters, I imagined
Merut to be a most picturesque little elysium; but those accounts were
generally spitefully uttered by discontented Indians, during a summer's
drizzle or a London fog. The stern reality varied little from the
character of other cantonments which I had visited during my march up
the country, either in point of climate or scenery. The barracks are
oblong, single-storied buildings, dressed with mathematical precision,
(and conveying from a distance the idea of so many petrified columns of
troops,) flanked with equally precise roads.

In rear of the men's barracks are arranged, in similar order, the
officers' bungalows, each enclosed in a small square compound, the
condition of which depends of course on the pursuits or taste of the

The massive bungalow to the right of the line, is flanked by high mud
walls, to which are appended dog-kennels on one side and extensive
stables on the other. More care and attention have evidently been
bestowed on this than on the dwelling-house. The available land,
embellished by a patch of oats and a parterre of half-demolished
lucerne, proclaims the owner an amateur of the turf and field.

The small, but neater-looking building at the further extremity of the
line, situated in the midst of a garden, fragrant with many a variety
of flower and carefully-pruned shrub, tell, beyond a doubt, that some
benign influence has dispensed these blessings on the soil, whilst the
house contains the gem itself:

        "In the cup of life,
  That honey drop--the virtuous wife."

Gardens overgrown with weeds, dilapidated walls and gates, testify the
indolence or indifference of other owners; and yonder drowsy-looking
building, with most of its shutters closed, and the verandah piled with
six dozen chests, beside which are reclining, in good-humoured repose,
a numerous and motley group of _marines_, who have travelled from the
generous vineyards of France and Germany to perform their last duty on
the burning soil of Hindostan,--all these afford too strong evidence to
require explanation.

The heat of the weather during June, this year, certainly exceeded
anything I had ever anticipated, and its continuance day and night
became deeply oppressive to the spirits of the uninitiated. About
the middle of the month, we had a smart shock of an earthquake, which
was felt from Calcutta to the Himalayah mountains, although it caused
little injury. The sensation was of a most singular and disagreeable
nature, the roof of the house assuming a menacing attitude, and
appearing to rock to and fro; but giddiness prevented me from being
over particular in taking observations. A small cistern of water
becoming violently agitated and overflowing its sides, was illustrative
of what happened after the shock was over.

We were, at length, relieved from the violent and sickening heat, by a
strong easterly breeze, bringing a mass of threatening clouds, which
burst like a water-spout over the plains. In twenty-four hours, the
cantonments and surrounding country were flooded, and the before arid
plains now presented the appearance of an extensive lake. When the
rains cease, and the clouds, rolling away, give place to the sun to
look upon the waters, his influence soon dries a large portion of the
soil, and the vapours which rise from the earth produce a damp heat,
less endurable than the preceding dryness, and much more insalubrious.

After this change in the weather, I paid a visit to the Himalayah
mountains, which lie about a hundred and ten miles north of Merut, and
presented a most tantalizing sight during the hot season, rearing their
snow-capped peaks at apparently so short a distance from the scorched
and glistening plains of our present quarters.


[Footnote 1: Concha is a species of siliceous clay, lying in strata at
a depth of from three to four feet beneath the surface of the whole
alluvial plain of the Ganges.]

[Footnote 2: Pajamas are loose trousers.]

[Footnote 3: Julian, Ep. xliii. Gibbon, ii. 48.]

[Footnote 4: A havildar is the serjeant of a native regiment.]

[Footnote 5: Kanoge was built about 1000 years B.C., and _was said_
to exceed 100 miles in circumference; it was besieged by Mahmoud of
Ghuzni, and surrendered about A.D. 1020.--(R. Dow's Works.)]

[Footnote 6: Gharuwan--a bullock-driver.]



Our party, consisting of three officers of my regiment and myself,
started on the evening of the 1st of August, and having halted during
the heat of the next day at a house on the road, erected for the
convenience of travellers by government, we reached the foot of the
hills at daybreak on the 3rd instant.

We remained at a small inn recently established there, awaiting an
interval in the torrents of rain which were descending, before we
commenced our ascent. After the greater part of the day had passed
without the occurrence of this lucid interval, I started with one
of our party to mount the precipitous hills which towered above us,
enveloped in mist. We procured two sturdy little mountain-ponies,
that despised our weight, and, dashing through the torrents of rain,
breasted the rough acclivity. The mountains from Rajpore rise abruptly
in a constant succession of sharp and lofty peaks, whose sides from
beneath appear nearly perpendicular. The roads, which are about two
yards in breadth, are cut round the sides of the mountains, and winding
by a gradual ascent round some, conduct you slowly upwards; on others,
the circuit being impeded, or too extensive for the former system,
a zig-zag road is made, to bring you more rapidly, though much more
laboriously, to their brow, whence a ridge frequently stretches across
to the adjacent mountains.

The spirited little hill-ponies carried us fearlessly across these
narrow passes, on each side of which a yawning abyss frequently
descends, till lost to sight amid the gloomy shade of the rocks and
shrubs projecting from its sides; whilst the mountain torrents, roaring
above and beneath, and frequently dashing, in their impetuous course,
across the path you are pursuing, present a wild and magnificent sight.

Night had far advanced, and our ponies began to exhibit unequivocal
symptoms of weariness from their severe toil, when we arrived at the
hotel, then standing at Mussouri, for the reception of travellers.
Here we soon divested ourselves of our well-soaked garments, and
enjoyed the unusual Eastern luxury of a blazing fire.

Next morning, the weather having cleared up, I sallied forth to enjoy
the varied and beautiful scenery, and scrambled to the summit of
Landour, which stands about 7000 feet above the level of the sea. On
the front, towered the Tyne range, about 10,000 feet in height; and
far beyond these, Jumnootri and Gungootri, whence flow the sources
of the Jumna and Ganges, are visible, their summits glittering with
everlasting snow, from an elevation of 24,000 feet. On the right of
this barrier of eternal snow, was dimly visible the peak of Dwalagiri,
whose hoary heights, though untrodden by the foot of mortal man, have
been measured by his ingenuity, and pronounced to be the loftiest in
the world.[7]

Dazzled with the resplendent and gorgeous scene, whose reflection from
the morning sun became too much for the eye to endure, I turned to
look down on the beautiful and fertile valley of the Doune, which lay
stretched beneath, and through which the Ganges, extricating itself
from the mountains, rushed, in its turbid and meandering course,
into the plains; whilst on the other side of the same fairy valley,
the clear and stately Jumma flowed majestically onwards, to unite its
crystal waters with its sister river at Allahabad.

The scenery here is excessively striking to the traveller, on account
of the miserably barren and uninteresting flats he must traverse ere
reaching these mountains, which nature appears to have raised to a
stupendous elevation, in atonement for her negligence to other parts
of Hindostan. The mild climate of these regions has rendered them a
favourite resort, during the summer months, for the families of those
eking out their eastern servitude; and many neat villas, partaking more
of the character of European than of Asiatic architecture, ornament
the sides and summits of Landour and Mussouri. The woods, which cover
with great luxuriance the lower ranges of hills, from the base to
the summit, constitute the principal beauty of the mountains. The
trees most abundant near Landour are the oak and rhododendron; the
latter grows to a large size, and produces a rich crimson flower, far
exceeding in size and brilliancy of colour the shrub producing that
blossom in England; and in the spring so great is its abundance, that
it appears to cast a ruddy hue on the sides of the mountains. In the
interior of the mountains, I have seen, growing wild, almost every kind
of fruit tree[8] met with in Europe. Here is also a very beautiful and
gigantic fir growing in the higher altitudes, termed the deodar, which
is peculiar, I believe, to the Himalayahs, and much valued for its
durable properties when used in building.

The rains continued to fall with untiring assiduity until the latter
part of September.

Early in October, I set out with a party of friends on a tour in
the interior. We were each provided with a small tent holding a
bed and table, which, in addition to our guns and a few bottles of
wine and spirits, were all we could take with us; for so rugged and
precipitous are the paths, that everything belonging to travellers
in these mountains must be carried by the Paharries, (natives of the
mountains,) who scramble up the steepest precipices with considerable
loads strapped on their backs. There is generally much difficulty in
procuring a quantum sufficit of these useful animals. The natives of
the plains have a great aversion to the climate of the mountains, which
usually disagrees with them, and cannot be made of much use in a
journey in the interior. The Paharries, indeed, have a similar feeling
towards the plains, and can seldom be prevailed on to remain any length
of time in the lower regions.

From Landour we descended amongst the thick brushwood, and long tangled
grass which clad the mountain sides until we reached the bottom of a
kudd, or valley, not far above the level of the plains, through which
foamed an impetuous mountain torrent. We had some difficulty in fording
this stream, on account of its rapidity and the quantity of large
moveable stones in its bed. Being surrounded by precipitous mountains,
which completely intercepted every current of air, the heat in this
valley was exceedingly oppressive. The vegetation around us was most
luxuriant, and it was with considerable toil we forced our way through
the wilderness of shrubs, interwoven with long matted grass.

We now commenced the abrupt ascent of the Tyne mountains, along a
narrow Paharrie track, where the footing was extremely precarious,
and a false step would have consigned the perpetrator to the tender
mercies of the sharp pointed rocks several hundred feet beneath. About
nightfall it became very difficult to distinguish the track, but our
ponies, who scrambled along without any accidents behind us, seeming to
make light of the matter, we mounted and trusted to their sagacity.

I had cause, ere long, to repent this misplaced confidence, for, on
turning a sharp angle of rock, I was interrupted during an energetic
argument with my successor by a most appalling stumble, and, in an
instant, disappeared with my faithless quadruped, from the eyes of my
astonished brother disputant.

A few feet under the ledge of rock grew a kind hearted shrub, (better
deserving of immortality than the tree of murderous intentions upon
Horace,) which I embraced and clung to with affectionate eagerness. My
poor pony fared otherwise, and by the crashing amongst the stones and
shrubs underneath, I had cause to conjecture he was suffering bitter
punishment for his error: far from it, the fall had soon been converted
into a roll, on the fortunately gradual slope of this especial spot,
and we found him busily engaged with the thick grass which had
preserved, and was now nourishing, the little viper.

The moon now made her appearance, and we reached a platform of land
where fields of wheat and barley announced the vicinity of a village,
whose mud huts we descried on the side of a steep ravine; above which
towered a noble grove of the picturesque and lofty deodar. Under these
we pitched our tents, and soon became unconscious alike of time and

Rising at daybreak, we recommenced the toilsome ascent, and, shortly
after noon, reached the summit, whence was beheld an apparently endless
range of mountain upon mountain, the nearest bristling with forests,
the furthest hoary with snow. The description would be but a continual
recurrence to the same imagery, so much does, nature resemble herself
in the drapery which she has spread on these wild regions.

Next morning, we commenced our preparations for the chase, and having
each taken up a position, our dogs and Paharries entered the heavy
cover, each giving tongue as the game started. The ear was now awake
with intense expectation; the before-predominating silence was broken
by echoed sounds.

The whirr of the gaudy pheasant as he sprang upwards from the covert,
was succeeded by the roar of the murderous fowling-piece ringing his
death-knell among his native hills; and the sharp crack of the rifle
followed the track of the deer, as he dashed from the woods, and
bounded wildly down the rocky precipices.

I had remained perched on my rock, contemplating the scene for a
considerable time without being called upon to use my weapons, when
suddenly a noble tehr[9] stood before me, his long dun hair hanging
in ringlets over his body, and his head erect, listening to the cries
of the beaters, now growing faint in the distance. I hastily snatched
up my rifle, (as I thought,) and taking a steady aim at his shoulder,
fired. Though barely forty yards from me, to my utter surprise, he
dashed away unharmed, and in two minutes I saw him bounding at full
speed along the ridge of a hill nearly a mile off. Turning away in
silent disgust, I felt almost inclined to vent my anger on the rifle,
but discovered that, in the haste of the moment, in lieu of the rifle
I had snatched up a fowling-piece loaded with shot. Having lost an
opportunity such as is rarely met with in tehr shooting, for they rank
among the wildest of mountain game, I descended the hill in search of
my companions, but they were far away, and I contented myself with the
pursuit of small game.

At nightfall, our party straggled into camp, having all had but poor
sport, which was a trifling consolation to me.

The game in these mountains, though of great variety, are exceedingly
difficult to come at, owing to the heavy coverts which shelter them,
and it is by no means singular for the best sportsmen to return empty
handed. During my residence in the Himalayahs, I have frequently
wandered the greater part of the day without meeting with a head
of game--at other times, by being on the spot by daybreak, I have
succeeded in bringing down two or three chamois before sunrise. It is
requisite to approach them with great caution, and always from above;
if the first ball be unsuccessful, the deer will sometimes wheel
suddenly round, and stop from full speed to ascertain the reason of the

The gooral (or, more intelligibly speaking, the chamois) affords the
best sport of all the mountain tribe. He is to be found early in the
morning, feeding among the long grass, generally on the side of the
steepest mountains, and must be carefully stalked, for his senses are
of a refined order. When wounded, he often leads his destroyer a chase
of many a weary mile down the steepest kudds, and over sharp pointed
rocks, where the trail must be followed by the signs of the mountain
dew brushed from the surface of the grass, or the rocks stained by the
ebbing blood of the stricken animal. The sagacity of the Paharries
in following this trail, and the sharpness of their sight, are very
remarkable, in contradistinction to their neighbours of the plains; but
the fact is easily accounted for, from their having exercised these
faculties in the chase from childhood amongst the same scenes, as they
very seldom quit their native mountains. I have often seen a Paharrie
detect, at the first glance, over a mountain, a gooral feeding on the
further side, at a distance which took some landmark given me by my
companion to ascertain the spot, and I have hardly ever known them to
err. They are a hardy, active and courageous race, who, having been a
most formidable foe to the British in the earlier periods of Indian
warfare, have, now that they have enlisted under the banners of the
Company, proved the bravest and best of the native army.

Many kinds of deer are to be found amongst the mountains, and an
endless variety of the feathered tribe, amongst which the most
remarkable are the distinct species of pheasants which haunt the
mountains, the species varying with the altitude; but this subject is
rather too plentiful a theme for the present narrative, and must be
left to competent ornithologists.

The Jerrow, or maha, is the noblest specimen of the stag to be met
with, and may be ranked as the elk of the Himalayah. He stands from
four to five feet in height; his colour is a rich brown, and his
antlers, branching into six on each side, have obtained for him the
name of bara singh[10] in the plains. During the day time, they usually
lie in the heaviest jungle; but at morning and evening they may be seen
grazing in the rich pastures, and usually in pairs. The Jerrow, as he
stalks majestically through the woods, bearing proudly aloft his high
branching antlers, looks the undisputed monarch of the mountain forests.

The next in size to the Jerrow is a deer about three and a half feet
in height at full growth, and termed the Surrow. He is of a dark hue,
with short deflected horns, thickly built, and with coarse bristling
hair, much like the wild hog. His head and shoulders resemble a donkey
ornamented with a horse's mane and a goat's horns. This scarce and
singular beast has a spirit in proportion to his deformity.

His habitation is among the gloomiest rocks and caverns, and when
roused from his solitude he prepares readily for the conflict, and
charges with desperate ferocity.

I remember an encounter between a brother-officer and sportsman, in
the hills, and a surrow, which he had wounded, which nearly proved
serious to the gallant and athletic soldier. M... threw himself upon
the wounded animal, when he charged, and seized him in his iron grasp,
so as to pinion the surrow and prevent his making use of his deadly
antlers. The struggle continued a long time; the deer ultimately
succeeded in getting his head free, and immediately struck savagely
backwards with his horns, when M... narrowly escaped the fatal stroke,
and casting himself sideways, grasped the surrow's neck with one arm,
so that he could not use his horns with effect, while with the other he
succeeded in drawing a clasp-knife, which put an end to the contest.

Besides the animals above mentioned, the Himalayahs can show to the
persevering sportsman the small kaukur, or barking deer, the musk-deer,
the hog deer, and in the snowy regions, the ibex, and burral, or wild
sheep. The tiger and leopard frequent the deepest valleys of the lower
ranges, and, late in the autumn, the bear-shooting of these mountains
will rank with any sport that is to be met with in India.

I was preparing for the journey towards the sources of the Ganges,
when a most unwelcome visitor, in the shape of a fever, summoned me
homewards. It was in vain to struggle any longer with my obstinate
antagonist, so I yielded to the advice of my fellow-travellers, and
turned my back for ever on these wild and glorious mountains. The
floor-cloth of my tent was taken up, and the two corners bound together
by ropes which also attached it to the tent pole. In this primitive
conveyance I was borne by eight Paharries homewards to Landour.

The jolting I underwent, and the stumps of trees that left their
numerous prints on my back, brought me in a few hours into a state
bordering on delirium. On descending the last valley before reaching
Landour, a severer thump than usual caused me to start up, and bless
my tormentors; the pole of the litter snapped, and away I rolled, with
my dusky companions, towards the lower regions. The circular motion
soon made me so giddy, that I might have rolled unconsciously into the
next world, but my guardian angel interposed a little copse of bamboos
between me and it. When I had recovered the senses remaining to me, and
peered out of the copse to ascertain the locale of my fellow rollers,
it was with feelings of mortification I counted and found all present
and sound except one, who had luckily broken his nose.

Two hours after this event, I found myself in bed, contemplating
the surgeon, as he tried the point of his lancet, with the feelings
which a pig evidently possesses and betrays on perceiving the butcher
sharpening his knife, preparatory to the final gash.

The fever was not unto death, as the reader (if there be such a person)
will doubtless have concluded by the continuance of my narrative, and
therefore as I cannot hope to excite much sympathy for my sufferings,
or doubt as to the result, I had better recover at once, especially as
that will occupy but a few words in the present instance, though it
took me five weeks at that time.

I had scarcely recovered my strength after this attack, when news of
a most warlike character arrived from the lower regions, inducing me
to start immediately to rejoin my regiment, which it was rumoured was
about to proceed immediately on active service. I reached Merut after
two days' journey, and found all minds intent upon the approaching
campaign in Scinde and Affghanistan.

I had not been many days in cantonments, before conjecture was changed
to certainty, by the arrival of despatches from head-quarters,
ordering my regiment to form part of the army destined to assemble at
Ferozepore on the Sutlej, about the latter end of November.

All now was bustle and business in our previously quiet cantonment.
The furnace in the armourer's forge glowed with as much assiduity,
and more brilliancy, doubtless, than that of yore at the shrine of
the incomprehensible Vesta. On every side were heard the clicking of
carbine and pistol locks; swords and lance-points sent sparkles of
fire from countless grindstones, and above all other sounds rose the
tumultuous din of the anvils.


[Footnote 7: The peak of Dwalagiri exceeds 27,000 feet.]

[Footnote 8: I hear that botanists deny the unity of the genus.]

[Footnote 9: The tehr is a mountain goat.]

[Footnote 10: Bara singh--twelve horns.]



The circumstances on the north-western frontier, and beyond it, which
caused these warlike preparations, were nearly as follow:--

The fortress of Herat, which formed the frontier bulwark of the
kingdom of Caubul, but which was now in possession of Prince Kamran,
(son of Mahmood, a deposed monarch of Afghanistan,) had been for some
time invested by a large Persian force, instigated, it was imagined,
by Russian influence. As this fortress opens a free ingress to the
countries on our north-western frontier, the government of India felt
particularly sensitive on its account, and suddenly commiserating its
forlorn condition, seized the present opportunity and pretext for
advancing to its relief.

Shah Soojah Ool Moolk, having been deposed from the throne of Caubul,
after the battle of Neemla, in 1809, had for many years been residing
at Loodianah as a pensioner of the East India Company. At this
juncture, the government of India, pitying the kingdomless state of
that able monarch, resolved to reseat him on the throne, and thereby,
and, in the accomplishment of that purpose, to further the following

1st. The relief of the besieged fortress of Herat.

2ndly. The establishment of British supremacy and a military force in
Afghanistan, as an outwork to obstruct any encroachments.

3rdly. The secure establishment of that long-meditated project, the
navigation of the river Indus: the savage nations bordering thereon,
with the exception of the Sikhs, having had but little intercourse with
the British until Sir Alexander Burnes' memorable visit.

The throne of Caubul was at this time usurped by Dost Mahomed,
brother of the late enterprising vizier, Futteh Khan, whose courage
and abilities alone had retained the kingdom in the hands of the
descendants of Ahmed Shah; until after the dethronement of Soojah, and
murder of Mahmood, he transmitted it into more capable authority, the
royal line having become equally obnoxious from imbecility, cowardice,
and tyranny.

Numerous factions, opposed to Dost Mahomed, still existed in
Afghanistan, amongst the leaders of which, the most powerful were,
Prince Kamran, the independent chief of Herat, and Dost Mahomed's own
brothers, the Ameers of Candahar. There also existed considerable
animosity between the members of rival families and tribes in
Afghanistan, similar to those feuds which divided the clans of the
Highlands even in the recent periods of Scottish history.

Sir Alexander Burnes had been resident for some time at the court
of Dost Mahomed, but that monarch had latterly exhibited a decided
Philo-Russian propensity, although, in the language of the East,
he continued to profess himself the slave of the British: Burnes
distrusted the royal sincerity, and had been recalled.

The fortress of Herat had been reduced to so weak a state, that
apprehensions were daily entertained of its falling[11] a prey to the
Persians, when an emissary from the British arrived with an offer of
relief, which was joyfully accepted, and the defence of the city was
carried on with renewed vigour, under the superintendence of Lieut.
Pottinger, an officer of the East India Company's Engineers.

The Candahar chiefs, though suspected of being in communication with
Persia, observed a strict neutrality in the present aspect of affairs.

Regarding the countries bordering on the Indus, no doubt was
entertained of a ready compliance with the proposals of government,
when accompanied by an argument of 20,000 well-disciplined troops.

The Punjaub, lying between the British frontier and Afghanistan, was
at that time subject to the renowned Maharajah Runjeet Singh, between
whom and the British power a well-observed alliance had existed for
many years; but an insuperable religious hostility divided the Sikhs
from the Afghans. Shah Soojah himself had experienced scanty clemency,
when flying from his country through the Punjaub, after his defeat at
Neemla, for he was seized by the old Lion of the Sikhs, thrown into
prison, and robbed of every article he possessed, among which was
the celebrated Koh-i-noor,[12] one of the most valuable jewels in
existence. Shah Soojah having escaped from, or been let out of prison,
as useless lumber, found a permanent refuge in the British territories.

A meeting was arranged to take place at Ferozepore between Runjeet
Singh and the governor-general of India (Lord Auckland), at which the
movements of the former, in co-operation with the British forces, were
to be arranged.

Matters stood on the footing thus briefly described, when a portion
of the Bengal army were ordered to assemble at Ferozepore, about the
end of November, 1838; and, at the same time, a force from Bombay
was directed to sail to the mouth of the Indus, and march along the
banks of that river, meeting the Bengal army in the neighbourhood of

At the latter end of October, the regiment to which I belonged marched
out of cantonments, and encamped on the turf where many a spirited
field day had been enacted during the previous season. On the following
day our tents were all struck at the dawn of morning, and the regiment
marched about eight miles towards Delhi.

The fourth morning after leaving Meerut, we crossed the Jumna on a
bridge of boats, and entered Delhi, the far-famed residence of the
Mogul emperors; formerly a city conspicuous for wealth and luxury,
now equally so for the impudent demeanour of its inhabitants, the
manufacture of shawls, and an intolerable abundance of flies.

Delhi still contains many substantial native residences, a vast extent
of ruins in its suburbs, a few old tombs and mosques, the royal palace,
and a thickly-peopled bazaar.

A high flight of steps at the end of one of the principal bazaars,
leads to the mosque built by Shah Jehan, some two hundred years since.
Passing under a narrow archway at the head of the steps, you enter a
large square court, paved with stone. At the eastern side stands the
high-domed praying-place, and each angle of the square is garnished
with a lofty minaret, all built of red sandstone.

The court is edged with a low range of cloisters, over which is a
battlemented terrace, commanding an extensive view of the city and

In the distance is seen the celebrated Koutub--a monument erected
by an emperor of that name. This pillar is elegantly and elaborately
carved, stands about two hundred and fifty feet in height, and is
ascended by a spiral staircase.[13]

The original intention of the architect is unknown; the hieroglyphics
supposed to convey important intelligence being a mystery; but it
is conjectured that it must have been intended as a minaret for a
projected mosque, which was never completed. Near the Koutub is a
curious iron pillar, the intention of which is as much hidden in
obscurity as that of the elegant minar. It appears to have irritated
the destructive organ of Nadir Shah, who vainly endeavoured to dig
it up, and failing in the experiment, brought his largest cannon to
bear on the obnoxious pillar, which bears the impression of the ball,
but stands as firmly as ever. We were informed that the mystery had
recently been penetrated by a Brahmin sage, who had discovered that it
was the axis of the earth: the principal objection to this ingenious
theory perhaps consists in the latitude of this immovable pole.

In the palace of the city still dwells the nominal King of Delhi,
the fallen representative of the Mogul empire, now unable to command
his own movements--that is, if they should be directed to an escape
from the courteous but actual thraldom he undergoes. The palace is
surrounded by lofty battlemented walls of red granite, and a deep moat.
Passing through the ponderous gateway, you enter a large square court,
whence another archway leads into a second court, of still greater
dimensions, at the extremity of which stands the audience hall, built
on eight massive pillars of alabaster. In the centre of this hall
stands a throne of pure crystal, on which, our native guide informed
us, had sat many a mighty emperor. "See, then, a mightier than the
present king of the Mogul empire sit on that throne," exclaimed one
of our officers, bringing himself to an anchor on the tempting seat.
The amazed guide turned up his eyes in pious horror, expecting the
apparition of some monarch of that mighty line to avenge this invasion
of his royal seat of honour; but they seemed disposed to put up with
the affront, or perhaps to acquiesce in the observation, and remained
quiet in their graves.

From hence we passed into the palace gardens, on the Jumna's banks,
which were once the admiration of all beholders, but now much
neglected. Here I observed, under an alcove, a sickly-looking lad,
who proved to be the king's eldest son, and heir-apparent, amusing
himself with lighting crackers, and pelting them at his attendants,
or thrusting them in the faces of those he could reach--a pretty fair
emblem of what the petty tyrant might become were time and opportunity
afforded him. Yet, even in modern times, have men raised an incubus of
this class to oppress and torture themselves, and, bending meekly to
the royal idol, earned and deserved the infliction. The recent history
of India, not a century ago, teems with instances which cast far in the
shade the comparatively feeble efforts of Domitian or Commodus.

The cholera was raging to an awful extent whilst we were encamped
outside the walls of Delhi, and upwards of two hundred were daily
falling victims. Though we felt not the scourge at once, the column had
not proceeded many marches before the seeds of the disease, probably
brought from hence, and lurking among us, burst and spread devastation

The experimental camel-battery, in charge of Major Pew, joined our
brigade, which had been formed at Delhi, and accompanied us to

On the 4th of November we quitted Delhi, and marched through an
uninteresting country, over-spread with low jungle and marsh, save
where a small village, perched on an eminence, enlivened the view by
the cultivation in its neighbourhood. A chain of pickets was now posted
daily, and an officer sent about twenty miles in advance to explore and
report on the country to our brigadier.

The cholera, that scourge of the east, now made its appearance amongst
us, carrying off three of our men the first day, and sending numbers
into hospital, but singularly enough not another fell a victim to the
disease, which confined itself to the natives and committed dire havoc
amongst them. Numbers died on the line of march daily, and the camp and
hospital were literally strewn with dead bodies.

No sooner had the pestilence stricken them than they succumbed to fate
without using an effort to obtain relief, and died often without a
struggle in less than an hour after their seizure.

Grass-cutters, coolies, and the lower castes, were the principal
victims, and few were the officers in camp who had not to lament the
loss of some servants carried off during the four days the epidemic
resided with us.

The causes assigned, by the medical men, for the outbreak of cholera,
were the unripe grain used by the natives as food, and the rank
vegetation springing around us; for we were passing still through
jungle, interwoven with long coarse grass. However, this continued
the same the whole way to Ferozepore nearly, and the scourge remained
but four days upon us, which does not tend to strengthen the above
mentioned reason. I know not why we should attempt to assign causes
for the prevalence of cholera, whilst those of many other diseases are

One learned practitioner (a Dr. Tytler) has written a book to prove
that the malady is caused by the prevalent use of rice amongst the
natives of India, and proposes calling the cholera the "Morbus
Oryzeus." No doubt the change of name was in order to show the choleric
imp how well we knew him, and to warn him off.

But, however applicable the theory might seem to India, the learned
doctor must find some other reason for its European visit, where rice
is certainly not the principal food of the inhabitants. To those
acquiescing in the Tytler theory, I can only recommend, in the words of

  "Spectatum admissi _risum_ teneatis amici."

On the 28th of November we reached Ferozepore, the general rendezvous
for the Bengal force, and found the army encamped about four miles from
the left bank of the Sutlej.

Lord Auckland and Sir Henry Fane had also arrived, to meet Runjeet
Singh, who was encamped, with a force of 20,000 troops, on the opposite
bank, and had thrown a bridge of boats across the river. The Sutlej was
then about two hundred and fifty yards in breadth, rolling sluggishly
over its muddy bed, and through a country where little was to be seen
but long dry grass and low jhow jungle.

The town was undergoing considerable improvements, under the hands
of our engineers. The fort, too, was re-echoing to the mason's and
carpenter's weapons, and most of the narrow streets in the suburbs were
being levelled, to make way for a wide and massive bazaar, so that,
from a mean and dirty place, Ferozepore bids fair to become, ere long,
a large and flourishing town.

The army, daily arriving, were encamped north-west of Ferozepore,
between it and the Sutlej, and consisted of--

 The Cavalry Brigade, commanded by Colonel Arnold, comprising Her
 Majesty's 16th Lancers, 2nd and 3rd Native Cavalry, and one troop
 Horse Artillery.

 1st Infantry Brigade, commanded by Colonel Sale: of Her Majesty's 13th
 Light Infantry, two regiments Native Infantry, and the Camel Battery.

 2nd Infantry Brigade, Colonel Dennis: Her Majesty's 3rd Buffs, two
 regiments Native Infantry, Sappers.

 3rd Infantry Brigade, Colonel Roberts: Company's European regiment,
 two regiments Native Infantry, Park of Artillery.

 4th Brigade, Colonel Nott: three regiments Native Infantry.

 5th Brigade, Colonel Paul: three regiments Native Infantry, one
 company Artillery, besides engineers, commissariat, and staff.

The day after our arrival, Maharajah Runjeet Singh came over to visit
Lord Auckland, and I accompanied the governor-general's escort on
the occasion. After remaining upwards of six hours in the saddle, in
front of Lord Auckland's Durbar tents, we heard the welcome sound
of Runjeet's gongs and nousheras approaching, and shortly after,
from beneath a massive canopy of dust, emerged the motley array of
Runjeet's elephants and cavalcade. Now, hundreds of gaily clad Sikh
horsemen--some in bright chain armour, others in various coloured silks
and cloth of gold, brandished their long spears, flung back their
brass embossed shields, and galloped with headlong fury around the
maharajah's elephants, exhibiting to us the singular dexterity with
which they could wield their arms and manage their horses.

As the procession approached, Runjeet was conspicuous in front, on
an enormous elephant, and dressed in a plain suit of ruby coloured
cashmere, with a turban of the same colour, whilst on his arm glittered
the famous koh-i-noor, the diamond which, as I before mentioned, his
highness obtained in no very creditable manner from Shah Soojah.

The maharajah was rather below the middling stature, slight in form,
and his face expressive of the shrewdest cunning. The leer that
occasionally escaped from his single optic seemed to tell a clear tale
of debauchery. He was then about fifty-six years of age, although I
should have taken him to be more; but an unbridled devotion to ardent
spirits tells on personal appearance, and appeared to have corroded his
iron frame.

After the chief had passed, a swarm of Sikhs followed, some on
horseback and some on foot, dressed in the most fantastical and
grotesque style, but at the same time the materials were generally of a
costly and extravagant quality.

The long spear and matchlock appeared to be their favourite weapons;
but many were armed only with tolwars and daggers. The rear was closed
up by a battalion of infantry, dressed much like our sepoys, and
drilled according to the French system of military tactics, introduced
by General Alard.

As Runjeet approached the audience tent, Lord Auckland and Sir Henry
Fane put their elephants in motion to meet him, and, after sundry
greetings and salaams, the whole party proceeded to the Durbar, where
the principal actors were obscured from our view by the dense mass of
British officers and Sikhs, who thronged in after them. What passed is
barely worthy of record. Lord Auckland presented a picture of Queen
Victoria, which Runjeet, with becoming gallantry, pressed to his
lips. After sundry professions of inviolable friendship, Runjeet made
some inquiries regarding Aden, which Sir Henry Fane informed him was
occupied by a British garrison. In a short time they adjourned to look
at some cannon, which had been brought as a present to the maharajah,
and over which both he and Sir Henry narrowly escaped breaking their
heads, having stumbled on a heap of cannon balls arranged near the tent.

Accompanied by his suite, Runjeet remounted his elephant amidst a
deafening salute from the guns of the camel-battery; these seemed
to take his fancy vastly; and, drawing up opposite them, he saw the
camels yoked and the guns drawn past him, expressing great delight and
astonishment at the neatness and regularity of this newly constructed

When the maharajah had departed, we also returned to camp, which we did
not reach before one o'clock, when the sun, although a December one,
was fiercely hot.

On the 1st of December, Lord Auckland returned Runjeet's visit. We
arrived at the river about sunrise, and having crossed on the bridge
of boats, found Runjeet's army drawn up, and forming a street from
the river to the Durbar tents. Nearest to us were the cavalry, the
same motley hordes we had seen two days before; beyond them, stood the
infantry, dressed, both in the military and common acceptation of the
term, with extraordinary attention; and if they will fight as well as
they look, are likely to do their master good service. Next came a
body of goorcheras, or irregular horsemen, dressed in white, and armed
with lances and matchlocks--a remarkably fine-looking body of men, but
generally believed to have an insuperable objection to injure their
fellow-creatures. Much as we may admire their philanthropy, we must
nevertheless admit the quality to be objectionable in a military point
of view. In rear of this array of philanthropists, were disposed a
numerous body of surwars, mounted on camels, and carrying swivel-guns,
which looked like large blunderbusses, from which abominable
instruments an incessant firing was kept up from the time we crossed
the river until we recrossed on our return.

The governor-general having made his appearance in the street of Sikhs,
Runjeet and his court advanced at a rapid pace on their elephants to
greet his excellency. The dust arose in such masses as for a time
obscured every object; but at the point of junction of the two parties,
the concentrated cloud slowly drifted aside, and displayed to our
dazzled sight the richest blaze of Eastern splendour that for many
years had reflected the rays of our destructive enemy.

The elephants' housings in Runjeet's suite were made of
gorgeously-embroidered gold cloth, and surmounted by howdahs, inlaid
with ivory and ebony; and Runjeet and his attendants, glittering with
silver and gold, silks and precious stones, formed a marked contrast to
the governor-general and his retinue in their scarlet or blue uniforms.

The maharajah, as before, was remarkable among the Sikh throng for the
uniformity of his costume, and the noble elephant which carried him, on
which Lord Auckland had now seated himself, at Runjeet's invitation;
and the whole procession moved rapidly towards the Durbar tents.

Disengaging myself from the mêlée which ensued, I galloped up the
street, and after some difficulty, succeeded in effecting an entrance
through the silken gateway. Within, was a garden, where the rarest
evergreens and flowers were growing, having sprung up, as if by
magic,[14] during the night. In the centre, was the Durbar-tent, made
of strongly-woven Cashmere, and supported by silver poles. The floor
was spread with Persian carpets, and the furniture was of frosted
silver, inlaid with golden ornaments.

The maharajah having seated himself, Sir Henry Fane and Lord Auckland
took their places on each side.

Behind Runjeet stood his prime minister, the wily and tyrannous Dhian
Singh, clad in a panoply of bright steel armour, elaborately gilded.
Little could be seen of his face besides the dark flashing eyes and
high-bridged nose, for a monstrous pair of moustaches and a beard
covered his visage and a great part of his body also.

A glittering string of diamonds and emeralds encircled his neck; and
in his turban stood a bustard's feather, fastened by a diamond brooch.
Scattered about the tent were many of the sirdars and ministers,
remarkable, principally, for the variety and magnificence of their
attire and the length of their beards.

Mr. Macnaghten, who had been appointed British envoy to Caubul in the
meditated operations, stood in front of the trio, acting as interpreter
on the occasion, during which I did not hear any political subject

Runjeet, finding matters look heavy and irksome, sent for a party
of Punjaubee girls, to dance and sing for the amusement of his two
solemn visitors. The young ladies who made their appearance were not
remarkable for beauty: amongst the whole coterie, I saw but two girls
who could be called pretty. I did not hear, and lament I cannot record,
the opinions of the governor-general and commander-in-chief on this

The imposing ballet being ended, and the little Nautch damsels having
filed off, presents of Cashmere shawls and jewellery were brought on
trays and exhibited. When these had been taken away, there seemed no
chance of any more amusements. Poor Runjeet's stock was exhausted;
he looked dreadfully ennuyé; and it certainly seemed a relief to the
chief performers when the party broke up. We all hastened to get back
to our posts when the ceremony was over, though much impeded by the
inquisitiveness of the Sikhs, whose curiosity about every trifle was
quite insatiable. A long-haired barbarian begged to be informed the
use of a sabretash, which seemed to take his fancy much, and inquired
if it was used to carry provisions? He was informed that we seldom or
ever touched food for many days on a campaign if there were much hard
fighting. "Wau, wau!" exclaimed the astonished barbarian, dropping the
sabretash, and gazing in his informant's face with equal amazement and

A Sikh sipahee, remarking some British officers with few symptoms of
manhood visible on their faces, quaintly inquired what rank those
young ladies held in the army!

Benighted savage! he little knew, and perhaps could never understand,
the absolute and tyrannous sway maintained by our Northern fair!

About mid-day, we recrossed the bridge of boats, and returned, under a
scorching sun, to camp.

The following day, a review of the British forces was held, for the
benefit of the maharajah. About ten thousand men were under arms at
daybreak; but from that time till noon, when we returned to camp,
everything was wrapped in an almost impenetrable veil of dust.

The next day, Runjeet gave us a field-day on his side of the river,
which I was prevented by duty from witnessing; but from the picket
near the Sutlej, where I was posted, the firing of the infantry and
artillery seemed quite as rapid, though not quite so steady, as our
own. Indeed, most of the officers returned astonished to find the Sikh
army so effective and well-disciplined.

For this discipline, Runjeet was mainly indebted to Generals Alard and
Ventura, two officers of the French imperial army, who passed through
Lahore on their travels from Persia to Hindostan.

They were detained by Runjeet in a sort of honorary captivity, until
he succeeded in inducing them to enter his service. At the expiration
of six months, Ventura exhibited to the maharajah a battalion of Sikhs,
organized on the French system of military tactics, and Runjeet, as may
be supposed, was greatly pleased at the incalculable improvement in his
men's appearance.

One circumstance gave considerable annoyance to the sensitive general,
which was the indomitable taste for finery among the subordinate
officers, many of whom far surpassed their commander in richness of
costume. This circumstance was turned to some account by the politic
Ventura, who insinuated to his master that many officers of his
battalion were enabled to wear richer lace and bullion than he could
procure or afford. Runjeet replied, that he would put it beyond their
power to do so any longer, and caused to be made and presented to
Ventura a pair of pearl epaulettes of unrivalled magnificence.

Both these officers remained long in the service of the Sikhs. Alard
died shortly before the old Lion himself, but Ventura remained to serve
his successor Shere Singh.

A continual scene of festivity prevailed in Runjeet's camp during our
halt at Ferozepore. The sound of music and revelry was borne on the
evening breeze, the rattle of feu-de-joie rang daily in our ears, and
at night the welkin glowed with fireworks and illuminations.

At length, the order for our march was issued, and the proclamation
stated, that in consequence of recent intelligence[15] from Herat,
the commander-in-chief, and governor-general deemed it requisite to
prosecute the campaign with the following troops only--viz.,

 The Cavalry Brigade, and Camel Battery.

 Three Brigades of Infantry and the Artillery of the Park, with two
 troops of Horse Artillery.

The whole Bengal force was placed under command of Sir Willoughby
Cotton, until its junction with the Bombay army, when Sir John Keane
was to assume command of the united forces, as Sir Henry Fane was
suffering severely from ill health, and about to resign his command and
return to England.

Colonel Thackwell, of the 3rd Light Dragoons, was appointed to command
the cavalry division, consisting of two brigades, one from the Bengal,
the other from the Bombay presidency.

On the tenth of December, we commenced our march from Ferozepore,
passing, during the first four days, through the protected Sikh
states, and encamping near villages where supplies were abundant and
water excellent.

On the fifth day, we entered the territories of Bahawul Khan,
concerning whom many false reports had been prevalent in camp, setting
forth his ill disposition towards the British, and his desire to impede
our progress through his country; the propagators of these fanciful
rumours fathering them invariably on the most plausible and least
tangible authorities.

The confidential whispers of the envoy who was in our rear, or of
Sir Alexander Burnes, who was in advance, were usually quoted by
these alarmists to command attention to their fabrications. At first,
these tales formed matter of amusement and speculation on the line of
march; but as falsehoods were daily multiplied, the authors, and their
inventions, became a fair subject of ridicule, and, as in the fable of
the shepherd's boy and the wolf, all reports were alike disbelieved.
However, the information department, during the whole campaign, was
not eminently successful; and this may, in some degree, palliate the
superabundance of false reports prevalent during the whole march,
which, in many instances, had influence over those in command, and
were productive of mischievous results.

During our march through the Bahawulpore country, we found an abundant
stock of grain collected for us at each encampment, which enabled the
commissariat to reserve the stores laid in for the campaign.

During each morning's march, the Sutlej lay about two or three miles
distant. The country adjacent to it was well cultivated, and in some
places covered with thick underwood; yet, notwithstanding the abundant
supply of fuel on the river's banks, many commissariat camels had been
laden with wood for the use of the army, which had much more need of
grain and other useful stores, of which ere long they bitterly felt the
want. It is worthy of observation, that Burnes, in his report of the
Indus and Sutlej, made frequent mention of the jungle in their vicinity.

Although the prospect, thus far, was sufficiently cheering on the
right, that on our left flank presented a dreary contrast. We had
reached the borders of that extensive desert which lies south and east
of Bahawulpore, and reduces the cultivated tract of this country to a
mere strip of land, bordering the Sutlej. Far as the eye could reach
when turned towards the British possessions, nothing was discernible
but a barren and trackless desert. Here and there, a few hillocks
had collected and risen over some untimely shrubs, which had sprung
up unconscious of their fatal position, until the domineering sands,
jealous of such an encroachment on their demesnes, arose and entombed
their helpless victims, leaving these mounds as so many trophies to
assert their resistless and desolating sway.

The roads were deep and sandy, causing the artillery horses and
bullocks severe labour in dragging the guns. But the camels of Major
Pew's battery were quite in their element on the desert, and stalked
lustily away with the heavy guns and carriages.

About the end of December, we had some light showers of rain, which
rendered the climate delightfully cool in the daytime, (the nights and
mornings had been piercingly cold for some weeks,) and cloth garments
were in great requisition.

The inhabitants of the country were so peaceably disposed, that we were
enabled to send on tents over night according to the custom in India,
which ensures, on arrival in camp, every morning, the luxuries of a cup
of coffee, a couch, and a bath; the latter is taken _al fresco_ from
a skin filled with water, and poured over the shoulders by a native.
Notwithstanding the good feeling exhibited by the country-people, our
military authorities seemed resolved to distrust them, and posted a
squadron on picket, day and night, with orders to keep mounted patrols
on the alert. An opportunity was hereby afforded of exercising our
vigilance on the camel-drivers and grass-cutters near the camp, and
also of ascertaining by experiment, how much deterioration would be
effected in the constitution of man and horse, by a curtailment of
natural rest, added to long daily marches, and what length of time
would be required to effect that object: the result amply solved the

The jungle, on the banks of the river, held a vast quantity of game;
the most numerous of which, was the black partridge--a bird also found
in many parts of Hindostan, and the most beautifully marked, I think,
of the feathered tribe. They frequent the jhow[16] jungle during the
heat of the day, and require an extensive and compact line of beaters
to get them out of the thick covert. Hare, snipe, and quail, were also
plentiful, and, occasionally, we met with a great variety of wild
duck and water-fowl of almost every description, among the marshes
by the river side. The shooting in these marshes can only be followed
by those who despise malaria, for they are proverbially unhealthy:
the excitement of meeting a stray tiger, or sinking in one of the
treacherous quicksands which abound in the vicinity of the Sutlej,
and are generally felt before they are seen, may add zest to more
adventurous sportsmen.

The distance from Ferozepore to Bahawulpore was two hundred and
twenty-one miles, according to our route; this, we overcame in eighteen
marches, having halted twice for a day. The government agents had been
exerting themselves to get supplies laid in for us at each march, but
complaints were urged against Bahawul Khan, of not having duly exerted
himself in forwarding this object. Poor man! no doubt he entertained
strong fear regarding his own independence, after the military visit
with which he was now threatened--no British troops having marched this
road previously. Shah Soojah, with his motley contingent,[17] preceded
the column, and no doubt seized the lion's share of whatever supplies
he met with, and from his previous character, there is no reason to
suppose that Bahawul Khan entertained a high opinion of our royal

Our army now marched in five columns, the sappers and miners in
advance, the cavalry-brigade next, and the three infantry-brigades in
succession, at intervals of one day's march between each brigade.


[Footnote 11: It must be borne in mind that forts are not carried by
eastern nations with the celerity of modern art. A siege of two or
three years' duration being a matter of frequent occurrence.]

[Footnote 12: "Koh-i-noor" means Mountain of Light, and is applied to a
diamond something less than a pigeon's egg!]

[Footnote 13: Koutub means, literally, the pole. The title of the
emperor of that name was Koutub-ul-dien, or the pole-star of religion.
He reigned at Lahore and Delhi, and died about A.D. 1210.]

[Footnote 14: This _magic_ garden had been imported from Lahore, and
planted during the night.]

[Footnote 15: Viz., the news then received of the Persians having
retired from Herat.]

[Footnote 16: The jhow is a shrub resembling the yew tree, and affords
good food for the camels.]

[Footnote 17: This contingent consisted of raw Hindoo levies raised for
Shah Soojah's guard, in Afghanistan, amounting to about five thousand
men and four guns.]



On the 29th of December, the cavalry-brigade reached Bahawulpore, in
the vicinity of which the country is richly cultivated. The view was
enlivened by hordes of Bahawul Khan's wild-looking cavalry, encamped
amongst the groves of palm and date trees in the neighbourhood.

We marched into our camp near the city under a heavy fall of rain, and
were met by a son of the khan, who came to pay his respects to Sir
Willoughby Cotton, whilst his father visited Sir Henry Fane on board
his boats, which kept parallel with the army during its progress.

On the 31st, Sir Henry returned the visit, attended by a numerous suite
of officers. Bahawul Khan made no efforts to display any splendour;
perhaps, he considered it politic to affect poverty in the presence of
the British chief. The conversation was as interesting as usual on the
like occasions, and ran, as well as I can remember, nearly as follows:--

SIR HENRY.--I come as the emissary of the British government, to offer
you their friendship.

B. KHAN.--I am sensible of the condescension displayed towards me, both
by them and yourself, in granting this interview.

SIR HENRY.--The British government are just and equitable, faithful to
their friends, terrible to their enemies, (looking very dignified, and
rather fierce.)

B. KHAN.--I fully appreciate the magnitude of the British name, and see
their power. All I have is theirs, and I am your slave.

SIR HENRY.--Now, talk we of other matters. Is not the climate unusually
cold for this season of the year, at Bahawulpore?

B. KHAN.--It is, undoubtedly; but at the present moment, I feel neither
cold nor damp, whilst basking in the sunshine of your presence.

Sir Henry was looking blue with cold, and stiff with dignity; so the
khan must have been of a fiery temperament if he spoke the truth.

Such was the substance of the conversation that passed between the
two potentates; but setting bombast aside, Bahawul Khan has always
expressed to those officers who visited his capital the utmost respect
for the British, and an anxiety to preserve a sincere alliance. His
decision has been unquestionably politic; for, by placing himself under
British protection, he has saved his country from the rapacity of his
formidable neighbours, the Sikhs.

The city of Bahawulpore is of considerable extent, and surrounded
by a dilapidated mud wall, about twelve feet in height and four in
thickness. The principal houses are built of brick, but huddled so
closely together, as to engender filth and heat to an unnecessary
degree. The khan's palace is in the centre of the town, and presents
as mean an exterior as the other houses. Of the interior, I can form
no estimate, not having visited it. The narrow bazaars were thronged
all day; and trade seemed to be flourishing briskly amongst the twenty
thousand inhabitants which Bahawulpore is said to contain.

Woollens, hardware, and a variety of fruit, seemed to be the principal
articles exposed for sale; but the prevalent commodity is undoubtedly

The men are certainly a larger, better looking, and more brawny race
than that of the upper provinces of Bengal.

The women are so carefully wrapped in veils, that I was enabled to
catch only a faint glimpse of their faces, and a very indistinct one
of their figures; but the damsels of the East usually evince greater
anxiety to conceal their face than any other part of their persons.

The only Bahawulpore fair ones I had a good opportunity of seeing and
speaking to, were some dancing-girls, attending the khan's party,
whilst in our camp. They were lively creatures, with very fair skins,
laughing black eyes, and the airy, graceful figures that are almost the
universal characteristic of Eastern belles.

The city is about three miles distant from the Sutlej, which must ere
long be the grand channel of communication between the upper provinces
of Bengal and the Bombay presidency. Its turbid surface, now seldom
unruffled by aught save the occasional plunge of a startled alligator,
will soon resound to the cries of busy boatmen and the plash of
innumerable oars.

On New Year's day, 1839, we resumed our march, bidding adieu to the
Sutlej, which diverges hence a little to the west, and unites its
waters with the Chinab, which, thirty miles below this confluence,
falls into the Indus.

As we advanced, the desert continued on our left, cheerless as ever;
but at every ten or twelve miles, we found a halting-place at some
village, near which were usually some fields of grain, and invariably
good water.

The stunted shrubs continued to afford us ample firewood, and the
occasional hamlets grain enough to feed our horses without indenting on
the commissariat stores.

Khanpore, eight marches from Bahawulpore, is a city of considerable
extent, and occasionally the residence of Bahawul Khan, who visits it
on account of the abundance of wild boar and hog deer frequenting the
neighbouring jungles, many of which we saw in our shooting-excursions,
and occasionally on the line of march.

The governor fired a royal salute as the cavalry-brigade marched
through the city, which compliment was cheaply returned (ammunition
being valuable) by our band striking up "God save the king!"--who the
monarchs were, to whom these royal honours were paid, we were unable to

Here, many of our servants and camp-followers deserted during the
night; nor were we able to recover any of the runaways. There is a
track from hence to Hissar, across the desert, which they probably
took, being weary of the long march, and frightened by the account of
some fruit-merchants from Caubul, in camp, who expatiated on the cold
of Afghanistan and the ferocity of its inhabitants.

Five marches beyond this place, brought us to the frontiers of the
Ameers of Scinde, where we were joined by Sir Alexander Burnes, who
seemed dubious of the peaceful disposition of the Hydrabad Ameers,
though their cousin of Khyrpoor professed his readiness to co-operate
in the free navigation of the Indus.

This part of Upper Scinde is overgrown with thick jungle, which is
cleared in the neighbourhood of villages, to make room for crops of
jewar, coarse sugar-cane, and wheat. The natives seem a hardy and
industrious race; but the tribes of Beloochees, from the mountains on
the right bank of the Indus, infest the country, and are its bane,
exercising a despotic authority over the unfortunate and peaceable
Scindians, and plundering travellers and merchants of all countries who
venture this road without a sufficient protection. No sooner had we
crossed the boundary-line, than we were cautioned not to venture singly
any distance from camp, as these marauders were sure to be hovering in
the vicinity, on the look-out for plunder; and several camp-followers
were daily murdered by these savages for the sake of the few pieces of
silver in their possession, or, failing these, for the clothes they
wore; yet in spite of these numerous examples, the roving propensities
of our followers were not easily overcome.

Hitherto, no communication had been received from Sir John Keane, who
was to land at Kurachee, one of the mouths of the Indus, and advance by
the right bank of the river to Shikarpore, having previously arranged
the terms of a treaty with the Ameers of Hydrabad, either amicably or
with the bayonet.

When we had arrived within three marches of Bukkur Island and
fort, where it was intended that the army should cross the Indus,
intelligence was received from Sir John Keane, announcing his arrival
at Tatta, a large town on the right bank, about forty miles below
Hydrabad;[18] he had experienced great difficulties even in reaching
that place, from want of carriage, and the unfriendly disposition of
the Ameers.

Hydrabad was fortified in the usual native fashion, and was said to be
garrisoned by more than twenty thousand Beloochees: confiding in these
troops, (or, at their dictation,) the Ameer had rejected the terms
proposed by the political agent, Colonel Pottinger, which were--

 1st. The payment of thirty lakhs of rupees, the arrears of tribute due
 to Shah Soojah.

 2ndly. To throw open, and promote by every means in their power, the
 free navigation of the Indus.

 3rdly. To support a force of four thousand troops to be quartered in

It appeared far from surprising that the Ameers, who had always been
noted for a jealousy of intercourse with strangers, and especially
with the British, should have felt averse to comply with terms which
rendered Scinde, at one stroke of the pen, a mere dependency on our
colossal Eastern empire.

On the march towards Bukkur, the jungle was so thick on each side of
the road, that the Scindians, had they been disposed to annoy us, had
many opportunities of effecting that object almost with impunity.
One morning, about daybreak, the advanced guard missed the road,
and led nearly the whole army astray in the woods, where the paths
branching in many directions, induced each party to wander according
to their fancy. Col. Ninny, an officer of remarkable intelligence, who
accompanied the party with which I was wandering, pushed resolutely
forward, insisting that the path he followed must be the right one.
"But surely, sir," remonstrated one of the officers, "this cannot be
the way, for we now face the rising sun, and our proper direction is
nearly west." The intellectual features of the gallant colonel were
contracted with ineffable scorn, as he replied, "And pray, sir, what
has the sun got to do with our road?"

Though blind at the time to the acuteness of the observation, I have
since dwelt upon it, as singularly characteristic of that gifted
individual, who, with a steady perseverance, has braved obstacles,
which, (as in the present case,) judged by the fallacious test of
reason, would have appeared to ordinary men insuperable! Unhappily, in
this instance, the combinations of that _great mind_ were not allowed
time for development, as an aide-de-camp rode up, and pointing to the
rear, indicated that the road lay in that direction, and the general
would be happy to see us on it.

On the morning of the 25th of January we marched up to the town of
Rohree and encamped on the banks of the Indus.

Rohree is built on a flinty rock that rises abruptly on the left
side of the river, which had hitherto been low and full of dangerous
quicksands. A range of bare hills, trending to the south, run from
Rohree, throughout lower Scinde, and terminate in the Delta, a few
miles from the sea. From the southern part of the town, a thick grove
of bastard date-trees extends many miles along the river's banks,
adding considerably to the beauty of the view. In the river, opposite
to Rohree, and between it and Sukkur, stands the important island and
fortress of Bukkur. The site is low and sandy, but the fort, which is
built of brick, stands about thirty feet in height, and is commanded
from either bank, as the Indus is less than eight hundred yards in
breadth at this season.

From Sukkur, on the opposite shore, the bank rises to a considerable
elevation, opposing a barrier to the encroachment of the waters at
the periods of inundation. On the left shore, the whole country is
intersected by watercourses, made for the purpose of retaining the
water after the inundation, which is said to cover a large extent of

A few miles from Rohree are the ruins of the ancient city of Alore,
which present to the view an extensive field of devastation. They
afford little interest to the traveller, as the few edifices standing
are so dilapidated, and the imagery so nearly effaced, as to baffle the
researches of the most patient antiquarian. The indefatigable Burnes
has pursued the subject with his usual intelligence, but such matters
afford more scope for conjecture than research, as the earlier periods
of Indian history are deeply involved in darkness and fable. We were,
however, informed by a learned aide-de-camp of the commander-in-chief,
that Alexander the Great had halted there for two days, and he even
indicated the position of the royal pavilion with as much confidence
as if he had been present on the occasion, which placed the question
beyond a doubt.

The river was now a scene of much activity, the chief engineer being
engaged in collecting boats to form a bridge to Sukkur, which required
a numerous assemblage, the distance to Bukkur island being nearly 400
yards, though beyond it the channel was very narrow.

Ameer Roostum Khan, to whom this part of Scinde belonged, was residing
at Khyrpore, about fifteen miles from Rohree, and came into camp the
day after our arrival, to visit the commander-in-chief. The treaty
above mentioned was shown to him, and he laid it on his head in token
of obedience. The hostile disposition of his relatives at Hydrabad
being alluded to, he urged the improbability of their offering any
resistance, and entreated permission to negotiate with them.

Sir Henry Fane replied that the day for any mediation had passed, and
broke up the Durbar, by inviting the Ameer to ride with him and see
the troops, which would march the following day towards Hydrabad, to
co-operate with Sir John Keane in enforcing the terms proposed.

Meer Roostum, mounting his horse, accompanied Sir Henry along the line,
appearing far from at his ease whilst inspecting the display of force
which reduced him to a vassal, and was intended to operate against his

Arrangements were then made for the cession of Bukkur island fort,
to be garrisoned by a British force, which he assented to with great
reluctance, but it was then too late to raise objections, as the net
for Scinde was cast, and he had become entangled in its meshes. The
second and third day, however, passed without any intimation being
given that the fort was at our service, and the force intended for
Hydrabad having been delayed in consequence, Sir Henry resolved
to wait no longer. On the evening of the 30th, a sepoy regiment,
accompanied by Sir Willoughby Cotton, embarked from Rohree, to occupy
Bukkur, and two guns were posted above the town to command the fort in
case of resistance.

The squadron to which I belonged was that evening on picket near the
town, from whence we had a favourable position for observing the
operations of this memorable siege. The boats were off, and we now
fancied we saw the garrison training a large gun on the walls to bear
against the fleet. All stood in breathless expectation for the signal
which would, in all probability, kindle far and wide the devastating
flames of war.

The troops now reached the island, and as yet no shot had been fired;
admittance was demanded, and no answer returned. Sir Willoughby ordered
a skin filled with powder to be attached to the gate and fired, and
whilst a party were in the act of obeying this order, the portals were
suddenly thrown open, and we observed the garrison, amounting perhaps
to _twenty_ in number, not in the act of levelling their matchlocks at
the intruders, but more prudently sallying from a side postern, and
quietly dropping down the river towards Hydrabad.

The transition was so sudden and absurd, that a general burst of
laughter issued from the spectators at sight of the formidable
garrison, which was expected to make so daring a resistance.

That evening the fort was occupied by a regiment of native infantry,
and before the sun went down we beheld the British flag slowly unfold
itself to the evening breeze, and float for the first time in authority
over the waters of the majestic Indus.

Early next morning, the cavalry, artillery, and first brigade of
infantry, under Colonel Sale, commenced their march towards Hydrabad.
Accounts were rife in camp that a force of six or seven thousand
Beloochees were lying in ambush to attack us on the march, or fail on
our camp during the night, and therefore the cavalry threw out parties
in advance to feel for these hidden savages. For the first six miles,
we marched in a thick grove of bastard date trees, the road through
which was flanked by mud walls about six feet high--a glorious chance
for the Beloochee tirailleurs, which they unwisely neglected. Emerging
from this grove, we entered a well-cultivated, though woody country,
and plainly discovered the traces of a camp broken up that morning. The
force (whatever it might have been) were no doubt retreating before us
upon Hydrabad.

Accounts were this day received that Sir John Keane had been detained
some days at Jerrikh, two marches from Hydrabad, but had arrived at
Kotra, on the right bank of the Indus, and nearly opposite Hydrabad.
The following day, native reports reached us that the Beloochees had
floated across the Indus on rafts supported on Kedgeree pots,[19] and
routed the British forces; but we unanimously concluded that the Ameers
were on far too bad terms with his excellency to think of crossing the
river and taking such _pot luck_ with the British.

Shah Soojah, who had reached Shikarpore, with his contingent, some days
before our arrival at Rohree, was now marching on the right bank of the
Indus towards Larkhana, which place (a city of the Hydrabad Ameers) he
occupied with little resistance.

No baggage being allowed to precede our column on the line of march,
and the weather becoming exceedingly hot, we suffered severely from the
heat before our tents came up, which they rarely did before mid-day,
and on a long march not till considerably later.

The soil in this district is fertile and well cultivated, and
the population must be considerable, judging from the numerous
well-inhabited villages we passed, where the natives regarded us in
a friendly light, and brought abundance of supplies into camp. The
rule of the Ameers is far from popular amongst the Scindians; and
the tribes of marauding Beloochees, whom the Ameers confessed their
inability to restrain, are of course viewed with horror by the peaceful
agriculturists, who therefore hailed us in the light of deliverers.
Their intercourse with our camp-followers, who, having long worn the
collar, were no doubt willing to see it encircle strange necks also,
tended to encourage this amicable disposition.

The fifth march from Rohree, we closed with the river near Noona
Goth, where the lower range of the Hala mountains were distinctly
seen, trending, apparently, in a direct line towards the Indus. These
mountains, the Scindians told us, were about forty miles distant. The
seventh march, we reached Kanjaree, a frontier town of the Hydrabad
district, where, in the course of the morning, a courier arrived from
Sir J. Keane, announcing the submission of the Hydrabad Ameers. They
had held out, it appeared, until the appearance of the British forces
on the bank of the river opposite the capital, when, after frequent
unsuccessful negotiations, a treaty was at length concluded by Colonel
Pottinger, with the modification that no British troops should be
quartered in Hydrabad. In signing this treaty, the Ameers declared they
were acting in opposition to the wishes of their soldiery, and that in
doing so they sealed irrevocably their own doom.

Thus ended our chance of a golden harvest in Hydrabad, then known to be
one of the richest cities of the East; the policy which saved it for
a few years ended in annexing the lands to the British possessions,
and in consigning the rulers to captivity: but the merits of this
subject now form a matter of debate between two of the most gallant and
accomplished soldiers of the age, Sir C. Napier and Colonel Outram.

We now turned our heads and thoughts towards Afghanistan with a
pleasanter prospect for the ensuing summer than that of passing it
under canvas in Scinde, which is notoriously one of the hottest and
most unhealthy parts of the world.[20]

We reached Rohree in a week, retracing the route by which we had
advanced, and found that the bridge of boats across the Indus had been
completed, and that the part of our force which had remained behind at
Rohree, commenced the transit on the 14th of February.

Having halted three days, we crossed the river at sunrise in single
files, dismounted, and leading our horses, such being deemed the safest
method. The passage was effected without a single accident, even to the
baggage. The bridge was firmly constructed, and well moored, reflecting
credit on Captain Thompson, of the Bengal engineers, under whose
direction it had been formed. The stream near the left bank ran with
great velocity; but as we approached Bukkur Island, there was little
or none; beyond the fort, the bridge was scarcely a hundred yards in
length, and the current very weak. Four hundred and ninety yards were
mentioned, in general orders, as the distance bridged; but the portion
of the island we crossed must have been upwards of two hundred and
fifty yards in breadth.

We now, for the first time, marched in rear of the army; and on our
arrival at Shikarpore, found the whole force, including Shah Soojah and
his new levies, encamped round the city.

Shikarpore stands in a barren and desolate-looking plain, which well
assorts with the white and mouldering mud walls surrounding the place.
This was the general depôt of supplies for the army; but in lieu of the
commodious and well-stocked shops we had expected to see, we found the
bazaar little superior to Bahawulpore, or even Rohree, except being
somewhat larger and more thronged, if possible, than that of the former

On entering the busy scene, the first object that strikes the visitor
is the pale, business-like money-changer, his anxious forehead bedaubed
with the white paint of his caste, peering over the pyramids of silver
and copper heaped ostentatiously before him. Opposite, wrangling
with half a dozen sepoys, in voices that might wake the dead, stands
the noisy, energetic cloth-merchant, extolling his wares amidst the
altercation with a fluency that would break the heart of a London Jew

On each side, as you struggle onward, are squatted, in the peculiar
Oriental fashion, vendors of dried fruits, seeds, spices, opium,
_cum plurimis aliis_; but your good-natured Arab charger halts in
despair at the shop where yonder greasy cook is flourishing in his
long, bony hands a wooden ladle, with which he bedaubs, in oily
costume, a hissing mass of kabobs, or kidneys, which are emitting a
savoury odour throughout that quarter of the bazaar, and engaging the
attention of an impenetrable cloud of half-famished-looking wretches
watching the inviting process. On extricating your embarrassed steed
from this difficulty, and moving up another bazaar, at right angles
to the former, the ears are saluted with the stunning and monotonous
clang proceeding from the anvils of armorers and blacksmiths, who
continue their noisy labour with an assiduity that, conjointly with
their hissing fires and diabolical countenances, give an unpleasant
presentiment of the world below.

Speckle the scene with a number of savage-looking fellows in dingy
dresses, with matchlocks slung over their shoulders, a pair of
business-like pistols, and a greasy-handled knife stuck in their belt,
whilst a broad, iron-handled tolwar brings up the rear, and you will
complete the best picture I can afford of Shikarpore bazaar, with its
lazy, lounging soldiery.


[Footnote 18: Sir J. Keane's forces were about three thousand five
hundred men, and thirty guns.]

[Footnote 19: A common way of crossing rivers in the East, the pots
being bound together by a framework of bamboo.]

[Footnote 20: The reserve force from Bombay, which occupied Scinde soon
after our departure, (amounting to about three thousand men,) bore
witness to its qualities in both respects.]



Sir John Keane's force was advancing by another route, nearer the foot
of the mountains of Beloochistan, towards the Bolan pass; and Sir
Willoughby Cotton, thinking it prudent to secure that defile with the
least possible delay, pushed on after one day's halt at Shikarpore.
The commissariat subsequently urged this rapid advance as the cause of
many difficulties, alleging that they had no time given them to make
arrangements for the conveyance of supplies.

To enhance these difficulties, an order arrived from Sir John Keane,
directing a large number of camels to be furnished by the Bengal
commissariat for the supply of the Bombay troops, who were almost at
a stand-still for want of carriage.[21] We had now scarcely a month's
supplies for the army, and were about to enter a country of which
little was known beyond native reports of its remarkable barrenness.
Mehrab Khan of Kebat, the most influential chief of this portion of
Beloochistan, had given the British agent assurances of furnishing the
army with supplies, and, relying on his assistance, the forces advanced
towards those sterile regions.

Mr. M'Naghten (the envoy to Cabul) received intelligence of the
pass being occupied by the enemy, but he did not deem the source a
creditable one; however, military precautions were properly taken,
supposing the information correct.

The first march from Shikarpore was partly through a low jungle, which
yielded, as we advanced, to a barren plain, that had lain apparently
under water, and been recently dried by the powerful effects of the
sun, which had cracked the surface with innumerable fissures. Not a
shrub nor a blade of grass was visible, as far as the eye could reach,
around this desert, which was bounded on our front by a lofty barrier
of mountains, at about a hundred miles' distance. We had become nearly
reconciled to barren views when they caused us no inconvenience beyond
unsightliness; but when, after a wearisome night-march of twenty-eight
miles over the desert, we reached our halting-place, where only two or
three wells of muddy and brackish water (and these nearly exhausted)
were found, matters began to look serious for man and quadrupeds.

Orders were sent to the rear to stop the progress of the army, whilst
a wing of the 16th Lancers were detached, as a reconnoitring party, in
advance. We started in the evening, and marched, till the following
morning was well advanced, over precisely the same picturesque country,
as far as the imperfect light showed us, for about thirty miles, when
our eyes were rejoiced by the sight of a clear, rippling stream in the
desert, near whose banks patches of grass and small fields of young
wheat were growing, announcing the grateful intelligence of the desert
being passed. Those who have suffered the pangs of thirst in a hot
climate will estimate the feelings of the cavalcade as they hastened
to avail themselves of the watery blessing.

Over the blighted waste we had crossed, (the Putt,) the deadly simoom
occasionally blows in the hot season. Fortunately for us, we made the
transit when the climate was moderate; but four months afterwards, two
melancholy tragedies occurred to detachments marching to join the army
in Afghanistan.

A portion of a native infantry regiment, escorting treasure from
Shikarpore, were passing the desert in the night, when they mistook the
way, and wandered the greater part of the next day in search of the
track without meeting with any water to moisten their parched throats.
One after another, they dropped, until two officers and twenty-one
sepoys were lost. The remainder, many of them delirious, found the
track and a stream of water in the evening.

The second catastrophe occurred to an officer of her Majesty's 17th
Regiment, who with a Serjeant and twelve men was sent to recover a gun
which had stuck in the sand. The difficulty was greater than had been
anticipated, and they were detained till mid-day, by which time the
officer and eight men had fallen victims to the sun, and died raving
mad. The serjeant and four men returned, debilitated for life, to
report the success of the expedition.

The forces gradually closed to the front on receiving the report of the
reconnoitring party.

Several marauding Beloochees, who had been hovering near us,
committed a most impudent depredation here on some camels, which they
carried off in broad daylight. General Thackwell, who was one of the
sufferers, ordered a squadron in pursuit. Away we went, in full cry,
at a hand-gallop, across some ten miles of country, mostly rocky,
and intersected by numerous ravines; here and there, the steep and
dangerous chasms were so artfully hid that it required a keen eye to
avoid them. At length, we came to a halt, no Beloochees in sight, and
our list of casualties great: three horses lame, and ten horses and
men missing, who had been deposited in the cavities by the way. We
now scoured the country in every direction, but found no suspicious
characters, except in a small village, where the inhabitants forthwith
protested vehemently that they were exceedingly honest people, which,
of course, led us to suppose the contrary. It was now getting dark;
and having no further evidence against the villagers beyond their own
professions, we abandoned the pursuit, and reached camp soon after

We resumed our march towards the mountains through a better country;
water was abundant, and occasionally a little grass was procurable for
the horses, who were beginning to look much jaded.

On the morning of the 10th of March, we reached Dadur, which is close
to the foot of a continuous chain of barren, rocky hills, and four
miles from the gorge of the Bolan Pass. At this place, hopes were
entertained that an abundance of supplies would be awaiting. Alas!
there were none--the commissariat were informed that the force had not
been expected so soon, (a fortunate excuse,) and that consequently
little was to be procured.

The melancholy truth transpired: there was absolutely not one day's
provision for the army, and we were led to infer a similar fate at
the places upon which we were about to march. The consequence was,
an immediate reduction to half rations for man and beast; and Sir
Willoughby saw that he had now no alternative but to push on through
the mountain-pass, and take the chance of what might be found on the
other side.

Major Cureton, of the 16th Lancers, who had been detached with
a squadron of native cavalry, and a wing of a sepoy regiment of
infantry, reported that no enemy was to be seen, but that forage was
nearly equally scarce the first three marches in the Pass. The Bengal
column being assembled at Dadur, orders were issued to advance, the
cavalry-brigade being now preceded by the first brigade of infantry
under Colonel Sale.

At daybreak, we reached the gorge of the Pass, which is wide enough
to admit a regiment of cavalry in line. The road is level, but rocky;
and through the centre runs a clear stream, with an abundance of long,
coarse grass, nearly resembling dried flags, on its banks. The hills,
without a sign of vegetation on them, rise abruptly on each side, at
first, five or six hundred feet, but gradually increase in elevation
as you advance. Our first day's march continued to follow the course
of the mountain stream, on whose banks we encamped, surrounded by
desolate and rocky hills. The camels had no food but the reedy grass,
which contained little nutriment; but for our horses we had provided
better, by carrying on from Dadur two days' supply of green forage. In
the night, an alarm was given that the Beloochees had come down from
the hills, and carried off some camels. As I happened to be on picket,
a detail of my party went in pursuit, but no vestige of the robbers was
found, and the clouds, which had long been lowering, now gave us such
a sprinkling, that it was impossible to see twenty yards off, so the
pursuit was abandoned.

In consequence of the tents being saturated with rain in the night,
our march was deferred till mid-day, to give them a chance of being
dried, for a wet tent and a bad road soon render camels unserviceable.
We continued to march, henceforth, at mid-day, the weather being cool;
and although a strong guard accompanied the baggage, the Beloochees
managed to pounce upon some daily, plundering the camels and murdering
our camp-followers. The infantry had frequent skirmishes with these
marauders, but rarely succeeded in capturing any, so nimbly did the
scoundrels mount the craggy sides of the mountains with their plunder
and conceal themselves in ravines and caverns, which could only be
approached at great disadvantage by the assailants.

The second march, we could scarcely move three abreast in many places,
owing to the narrowness of the passage, (a chasm through a rocky
mountain,) along which dashed a torrent, not deep, but extremely
rapid. The sharp stones in its bed lacerated the horses' feet a
good deal, and took rather severe effect on our bare-legged native
followers. A man and horse belonging to the rear-guard of the 16th
Lancers were lost on this march, but how the former lost his life is
uncertain--he dropped behind his comrades on the line of march, and was
never again seen alive.

Our three next marches were through a plain, environed by an
amphitheatre of distant and lofty hills; but the road was rough, nor
was there any appearance of vegetation to cheer the miserable cattle.
The camels dropped daily on the route in great numbers; and many a
tent, camel-trunk, and wine-chest, fell into the hands of our ruthless
enemies the Beloochees, who doubtless celebrated several midnight
orgies with our lamented luxuries.[22]

Three seers of grain (6 lbs.) per horse, and no grass, had reduced our
steeds to mere apparitions, Scholastikos that stumbled mechanically
onwards, having almost reached the valuable habit of living on nothing.
The result was nearly the same as that which attended the horse of the
Σχολαστικος, in the Greek fable, whose animal had learned to live upon
nothing, but died shortly after trying the experiment.

Having ascended to a considerable height, the climate was fine, and we
experienced no inconvenience from the sun; but so dreary and oppressive
to the spirits were these bleak and craggy mountains that frowned over
us, and so jaded were man and beast, that it was with feelings of great
relief in anticipation that we approached the termination of the dismal
Bolan defile.

The most formidable position throughout the pass was certainly that
which we reached just previously to quitting the above-named range of
mountains. Having marched at mid-day, and ascended rapidly for about
seven miles, we arrived at the passage I allude to, which was about
twelve yards in width, over each side of which the high craggy hills
beetled in irregular and threatening shapes. For a distance of about
two miles we pursued the sinuous passage through this chasm,[23]
looking upwards in amazement to find so formidable a succession of
natural fortresses unoccupied, from whence a resolute body of troops
might have effectually checked our progress. A short distance beyond
its gorge, we descended into an extensive plain, covered with a small
aromatic plant resembling wild thyme, on which our cattle fed with
avidity, and no wonder, for from recent appearances they must have
conjectured that the earth had ceased to vegetate. Here, we expected
to encamp; but water was found to be so scarce that the cavalry were
ordered to proceed. We marched along the foot of a dark range of
hills, from which the numerous lights glimmering through the darkness
announced our old friends the Beloochees on the alert. About midnight,
after a tedious march of thirty miles, we arrived at Sir-i-ab, which
is called the outlet of the pass, although even here we lay in a
valley flanked by lofty hills, whose summits were covered with snow.
Of course, no tents or provisions arrived that night, but we were all
too fatigued to grumble properly, and a cloak and saddle soon proved
themselves effectually soothing.

After a halt of three days, the principal part of the force advanced
to Quetta, a small fortified town, ten miles from Sir-i-ab, and about
three from the hills on either side.

The plain was covered with the same scented plant we had seen before.
Mint, tulips, hyacinths, and a great variety of wild flowers,
enlivened the face of the soil.

Near the foot of the hills were several villages, mostly deserted, and
groves of apple, pear, apricot, and plum trees, the luxuriant foliage
and blossoms of which reminded us of the gardens of our beloved native
country. The inhabitants of Quetta and its vicinity were rather shy at
first, but finding we did not plunder them, they concluded we must be a
set of fools, and resolved to profit by the opportunity.

Small quantities of grain, fruit, and lucerne were brought into our
camp and sold at exorbitant prices; however, after the experiments
which had been tried on our cattle and horses, we were only too happy
to try and prolong their lives at any cost. Here the startling truth
soon became known, that Mehrab Khan had formed no depôt of grain for
the army. Sir Alexander Burnes, with Lieut. Pattinson and a few local
horse, set out for Mehrab's residence, about eighty miles distant, in
the hopes of inducing that treacherous chief to assist in procuring
supplies; but this resource was now known to be almost desperate. In
the meantime, foraging parties of cavalry ranged the country daily to
procure fodder in the villages and amongst the fields.

Fortunately for us, a fine breed of sheep, known as the Dhoomba,[24]
abounded here, and afforded no mean exchange for the tough and muscular
flesh of such animals as had been brought from Bengal, and had
walked into incredible condition, insomuch that they were now better
calculated for supplying the artillery with traces than the soldiers
with food.

Since entering Afghanistan, we remarked a material improvement in the
dimensions and looks of the inhabitants, compared to the natives of the
other side of the Bolan mountains. Their dress was mostly composed of
sheepskins, camels'-hair, and other warm materials, requisite from the
coldness of the climate, even at this season: the thermometer stood
about freezing-point at daybreak; but Quetta is table land, nearly six
thousand feet above the sea.

Women, except the old or very young, were nowhere to be seen, so
prevalent were their unjust suspicions of our behaviour.

Our diet was now one that should have gladdened the heart of the
doctors, (of course I speak only of military ones,) being confined to
bread, mutton, and water; for those who had been fortunate enough to
get wines and other luxuries as far as the Bolan pass, had almost all
been obliged to drop them ere they quitted that gloomy defile, to carry
absolute requisites, such as a tent and clothes; and fortunate were
they who even accomplished that object throughout the campaign.

As there were few regiments able to keep up a mess, an application
was made by the officers to be allowed to draw the same rations as
were issued to the soldiers. This was refused; but subsequently we
were allowed to draw on the commissariat for one bottle each week of a
fiery, unwholesome spirit, made in India, and called arrack.

The audacious attacks made upon our people and cattle by the Kaukers,
a tribe of hill-bandits, made it hazardous for any one to stray beyond
the outposts. Every night some unfortunate camp followers, returning
from seeking grass or tending cattle, were murdered, and usually
mutilated in a wanton and barbarous manner.

Before leaving Quetta, an opportunity occurred for a small retaliation
on the savages.

An alarm having been given early in the day that a party of Kaukers
were hovering near the outposts, Lieut. Yule, of the 16th Lancers, who
was on picket with a party of his regiment, turned out in pursuit.
Within two miles of camp, he perceived a party of about thirty Kaukers,
armed with swords and matchlocks, retiring towards the hills on foot;
when pursued at speed, they fired and wounded one of the Lancers, and
separating, some escaped to the hills, whilst others threw themselves
into a small mud fort, whence they fired on the cavalry party, but
without effect. Yule, having dismounted his men, scaled the fort,
killed seven inside, and took one prisoner, mortally wounded, whom Sir
J. Keane (who had just arrived in camp, and assumed command of the
army) immediately ordered to be hanged. The next evening ten more who
had been taken prisoners were also hanged on trees near Quetta.

Notwithstanding this salutary example, a daring attack was made
immediately afterwards on our cattle, by two or three hundred of the
same tribe. At mid-day they issued from the mountains, cut down several
surwans,[25] and carried off a number of camels; but a wing of an
infantry regiment and a squadron of cavalry coming up, the marauders
retired, driving their booty to the hills, which were so precipitous,
that many of the camels were recovered, being abandoned by the Kaukers
in their retreat amongst their native crags.

Sir Alexander Burnes having reached Mehrab Khan's residence, now sent
intimation that no assistance could be expected from that chief, who,
so far from procuring grain for the army, had instigated the tribes
to annoy us in every way, and to conceal or carry away the produce of
the country. Time could not now be wasted in punishing Mehrab for his
duplicity, but a day of severe retribution awaited him on the return of
the Bombay division of the army from Caubul.

Our position was now far from comfortable. If the army advanced, and
all supplies were removed out of our way by the natives, starvation and
the loss of all our cattle appeared the probable result. And in case
of a retreat through the Bolan pass, every crag would, of course, have
held an enemy to oppose such invaders. Independently of this, the moral
effect of a retreat at the commencement of a campaign would have been
in the last degree disastrous; yet such an alternative was advocated by
many officers on whose shoulders the main responsibility did not rest.
Sir John Keane could not but see that entering the Bolan pass was the
passage of the Rubicon, and orders were issued for the army to advance
towards Kandahar on the morning of the 7th of April: the men were
reduced to an allowance of one pound of flour, and non-combatants to
half a pound per diem; meat and spirits were issued as usual.

No grain was in store for the cavalry, but the horse artillery were
allotted rations of three seers a horse daily, without which the guns
could never have been drawn. The cavalry troop horses subsisted almost
entirely on green wheat, collected by foraging parties. The officers
were occasionally able to purchase small quantities of barley, or
Indian corn, for their chargers, by paying an exorbitant sum to an
Afghan extortioner.

On the morning we left Quetta, fifty horses of the cavalry brigade were
shot, in the lines, being too weak to carry their load. This melancholy
process of slaughtering horses was repeated daily, before or on the

The first morning, on leaving Quetta, we descended, through a steep
and rocky pass, into an extensive valley. A few scattered villages
were seen, whose inhabitants had betaken themselves to the hills,
whence they sallied occasionally to commit atrocities on any stragglers
from the lines in retaliation for the damages committed by the camp
followers on their habitations, and by our horses on their corn fields.

It was carefully circulated amongst the natives who came near us,
that grain and all other supplies would be paid for, and also that
a reimbursement would be made for damages done to their property. It
was further hinted to them that we were friends (not enemies) who were
bringing a virtuous monarch to rule their country; but this they were
unable to comprehend.

As we advanced, however, the same system prevailed with the
inhabitants, and not a soul was to be seen in the villages or on the
line of march, except when levelling a matchlock from some almost
inaccessible crag. Our foraging parties occasionally found young wheat
fields, which were demolished in a few minutes; but had it not been
for that inestimable little aromatic shrub, which grew in the most
hopeless solitudes, it would have been impossible for us to proceed, as
it afforded almost the only food for the camels and beasts of burden,
as well as fuel for the army, which it would have been a difficulty
to dispense with, man having been essentially a cooking animal from
the days of Prometheus, before whose well authenticated exploits it is
difficult to say how mortals fared.

Having crossed a succession of rocky mountains and barren valleys, the
fourth march from Quetta brought us to the Pisheen valley, which is
said to be the best cultivated part of lower Afghanistan, which it
might well be without exhibiting much fertility.

The valley is very extensive, and appeared, as we advanced into it, to
be well inhabited. The corn and barley fields were rich and numerous.
The natives of Pisheen had not deserted their homes, and flocked to
our camp, bringing camels, horses, bullocks, sheep, and grain for
sale, but all at the same exorbitant rate which had been exacted at
Quetta. The better class of inhabitants, terming themselves Synds, or
descendants of the Prophet, (the prolific Mahomet,) were well attired,
and certainly the finest men I have seen in the East. I was much taken
with a richly-mounted cimeter worn by a noble-looking Afghan, and
endeavoured to tempt his cupidity by offering in exchange a pair of
English pistols liberally bedizened with silver ornaments, money being
out of the question, as that article was more than usually scarce,
and more than usually necessary, in those days of famine: but though
the pistols took his fancy much, they still did not succeed, and he
returned them, saying, "It would be unjust to take these weapons which
you will soon stand in need of, for the Ameers of Kandahar will meet
you in the field before you have approached much nearer their city."
"We shall be happy to see them," I replied, "and after the rencontre,
cimeters will be cheap and plentiful in the British camp."

The Synd had some authority for his assertion, as that day intelligence
was received that the Kandahar chiefs were concerting measures to
oppose our advance.

Kandahar was under the control of three princes, Kohun Dil, Raheem Dil,
and Mehn Dil, Khans, brothers of Dost Mahomed, but never on amicable
terms with the Caubul monarch.

The authority of the Kandahar chiefs had been long unpopular; but
of late their oppressive rule had rendered them more odious, as the
exactions on the inhabitants had been increased in order to levy an
army to oppose the British invasion.

The northern side of the Pisheen valley is crossed by a range of
mountains called the Kojuck, a rugged pass leading to Kandahar.
Brigadier Arnold rode forward in the evening to reconnoitre this
defile, and, on reaching its gorge, found the heights occupied by a
party of horsemen, who fired upon him; but a small party of sappers
ascended and dislodged them. A spy was also observed lurking near camp
at night, and was shot by a sentry of the 13th Light Infantry.

The 1st brigade of infantry led the way through the Kojuck pass, and
were followed next morning by the Cavalry Brigade, who started two
hours before daybreak. On entering the pass, about five miles from
camp, we found it completely blocked by the camels of the preceding
brigade. Having halted for about three hours, until these obstacles
were removed, we commenced the ascent--the dragoons dismounting and
leading their horses, whilst a party was detached from each squadron to
assist in dragging the guns of the Horse Artillery.

The dry bed of a torrent, winding round the foot of a precipitous
mountain, was the course by which we commenced the ascent. Having
followed this track a few hundred yards, we struck off on a road which
our sappers had cut on the side of the mountain, and up which the guns
were drawn with considerable labour. We were occupied a great part of
the day in surmounting this steep and rough ascent, casting into the
ravine beneath the dead bodies of men, camels, and bullocks, who had
been murdered the night before by our restless old friends the Kaukers.

By four o'clock in the afternoon, the cavalry and artillery reached
the summit of the pass. From this elevated position we looked down on
a barren, extensive plain, on the edge of which the snowy tents of
the 1st brigade formed the only interesting object, as they intimated
a termination of our labours for the day. A fine mountain breeze was
whistling over the heights and overcame the sun's influence.

We were astonished that the Kandahar chiefs had not occupied this
defile, which had taken us much labour to surmount even with the
indispensable aid of the sappers, and unmolested by the enemy.

With the aid of our glasses, we discerned a few spies or marauders
(probably both) among the rocky peaks, watching our proceedings, but
keeping out of musket-shot from the native infantry pickets, which
crowned the neighbouring heights.

Our descent of the Kojuck was even more precipitous than the ascent,
and many a horse and camel ended his weary career on this precipice
during the night.

When we bivouacked at sunset, the agreeable intelligence was made
known of no water having yet been discovered, and of course no food
was procurable, the commissariat stores being far behind. The soldiers
stood the want of food for twenty-four hours of hard labour without a
murmur; but when they heard no water was procurable, they gave vent
to many a hearty malediction on these inhospitable regions. Several
started off to the hills with waterskins on their backs, and returned
after a long search, the greater part unsuccessful, but some few with a
little filthy mud and water, which was swallowed with an avidity that
extreme thirst only could produce.

As very few tents had made their appearance, and the night was wearing
apace, we laid ourselves on the least rocky piece of ground that we
could select in the dark, and rested till three in the morning, when
the musical invitation of the trumpet called us again to the saddle,
and, after a march of eighteen miles across the desert plain, and under
a sun which, in these lower regions, did not spare us, we came at
length to a small pond of dirty water, where we halted.

I threw myself down beside this inestimable puddle completely
exhausted; and my horse having taken a drink, which threatened rivalry
with Munchausen's notorious steed, followed my example; but our repose
was soon cruelly interrupted by a requisition for our services on
outlying picket, some two miles in advance. We both arose, stretching
and shaking ourselves into consciousness; my charger certainly yawned
widest, although I explained to him how much he had the best of it, as
no dread of a court-martial need await him for sleeping on his post.

My tents and servants did not arrive till late next evening, having
been absent three days without leave, and leaving me to luxuriate
during that time in the same clothing, and on a loaf of tolerably
hard and stale ammunition bread, about the _weight_, size, and
_consistency_, of a twelve-pound shot.

We had been compelled to halt here, to enable the rear-guard to come
up, who had been frequently fired on by the Kaukers; but no casualties
occurred, which does not say much for our enemies as marksmen, though
the long rifle, termed a "jezzail," which they use with a forked rest,
carries a great distance, and with tolerable accuracy, when properly

Some camels and servants belonging to the rear-brigades were shot in
the transit of the Kojuck Pass, and many of the officers' and soldiers'
tents and baggage were plundered; but these unaccountable mountain
warriors almost invariably allowed the cavalry to pass unscathed
through defiles, where they would have been almost helpless if attacked.

Amongst other troubles and privations, we had now daily to reckon the
badness and scarcity of water. The wells being dug in ground whose
surface was white with saltpetre,[26] we found the water partook so
strongly of this mineral, that it was not only nauseous to the taste,
but affected man and beast with a diarrhoea, which, combined with the
fatigues and exposure to which all had been subjected, reduced the
greater part to a debilitated condition.

As we had descended a good deal since leaving Quetta, the heat of the
sun daily increased; and although we marched every morning long before
daybreak, the roads were so bad and our cattle so weak from want of
sustenance, that we had generally to pass the noon-day unsheltered.

On the 23rd of April, we had, according to the most prevalent
conjectures, arrived within about fifty miles of Kandahar, and met no
enemy. Having marched about twelve miles in the morning, we reached our
appointed ground for halting about nine A.M., when some assistants,
in the quartermaster-general's department, reported to the brigadier
of the cavalry that the water in camp[27] would barely suffice for
a brigade of infantry. We were accordingly ordered to remount, and
proceed towards a river, which was supposed to be some ten miles'
distant. Few who were present will ever forget that dreadful march.
The reflection of the sun from the burning dust and barren hills was
so dazzling, that many who underwent it have never recovered their
strength of sight. We had marched about ten miles, when the halt was
sounded. It was mid-day; about twenty men of the leading regiment held
together, the remainder of the cavalry-brigade were straggling over
four or five miles of country in the rear; some were urging their jaded
beasts with the spur, some leading them on foot, and others driving
their chargers before them at the point of the lance or sword. But far
the hottest thing I beheld that day, was the talented Colonel Ninny,
purple with heat and anger, and seeking an object to vent it upon.

"Where the devil is your squadron, sir?" was demanded, in a voice of
thunder, of a ponderous captain, with a face like a salamander, and a
corporation like a hogshead.

"Four miles behind, sir, at least," replied the hogshead, proud of
having got so far along the road, (as well he might be.)

"How dare you, sir, give me such an answer, and leave your squadron
behind?" cried the enraged genius.

Poor hogshead, frothing with excitement, turned round in search of
relief, and lighting on the officer in charge of his troop, poured
forth the full tide of his indignation on him for not bringing the
stragglers to the front.

"And pray, sir, where is my troop?"

"Here are the serjeant-major and two privates; the remainder vary from
four to five miles in the rear; and as I could not carry them, they are
left behind," replied the troop-leader.

"There is no excuse," cried Ninny.

"But, sir----"

"Hold your tongue, and join your troop."

This was conclusive, and broke up the agreeable interview.

When the sun had begun to decline upon the scene of suffering he had
caused that day, the river was descried from the brow of a sandy knoll,
winding its shining path through the sterile soil. Man and beast rushed
in uncontrollable confusion to the waters, and quenched the fiery
thirst under which both had suffered severely.

Our baggage did not arrive in camp till about midnight; and so severe
had been the heat, that almost every dog belonging to the officers of
the brigade either dropped dead on the road, or was long in recovering
the effects of the cruel experiment. Many men were much broken down,
and one or two in the hospital doolies died on the road.

The cavalry-brigade alone having advanced, and intimation having
been received that the Kandahar chiefs, with three or four thousand
cavalry, had left the city to attack us, General Thackwell considered
it probable that they would attempt a surprise that night, as their
spies would probably have time to inform them of our forced march.
Accordingly, pickets, consisting of about one half of our force, were
posted to protect the remainder, and sentries, videttes, and patrols,
with loaded pistols and carbines, spent the evening of that merciless
day in watching for any approaching party. Our vigilance was all in
vain: the Kandahar chiefs did not deserve the compliment we paid them;
and we lay on watch all night, undisturbed by any sound more warlike
than the complaint of a camel, or the bray of a donkey.

The next day, I was sent with a party of four men to reconnoitre some
hills about three miles distant, on the opposite bank of the river,
and finding many deep ravines in the way, I left my party behind,
and fording the stream, ascended the heights, where the sand was so
deep, that my charger sank up to his knees at every step. I was about
half way up the hill, when an Afghan, armed to the teeth with tolwar,
matchlock, and pistols, started suddenly from a cavern behind a rock,
a few paces above me. I drew a pistol from my holsters, and levelling
it at him, recommended him to surrender. He stood a few seconds,
apparently irresolute; then darted behind the rock, which was close
beside, and out of my sight. I spurred forwards through the sand to
meet my friend on the opposite side; but he had ascended by a narrow
ravine, and in a few seconds I caught sight of him among some crags,
about fifty yards above me, and in full retreat.

I pursued again, but in vain; for the mountain, which had now become
rocky, presented obstacles every ten yards; and when I reached the
summit, I caught a glimpse of three or four mountaineers a few hundred
yards from me, stealing round the mountain, apparently with the
intention of intercepting my retreat. No signs of a camp or any body
of men were to be seen in the plain, as far as my glass enabled me to
discern; I therefore descended the mountain on the opposite side from
which I had ascended, perceiving that my _longue_ carabine attendants
were prepared for a shot, which I preferred making a difficult one.

Having reached the foot of the mountain, I stirred my Arab's mettle
across the plain, receiving three or four salutes from my polite
acquaintances above, some of which whistled as if they had been well

Having struggled through a quicksand, which lay between me and the
bank, I recrossed the river, and joined my party on the other side.

I have little doubt that the men I encountered on the hills were
spies from the Kandahar army. The matchlock of the Afghan I came upon
unawares, must have been unloaded, or he would certainly have tried
to prevent my ever reporting our interview. I might easily have sent
a pistol-ball through him, for he was not ten paces from me; but it
looked so much like murder that I could not draw the trigger.

Marching from hence by the banks of the river, we reached an inhabited
village, in which a little grain was procured for our famished horses.
News arrived in the course of the day that the Kandahar chiefs had
given up all thoughts of opposing us, and retreated towards Herat,
leaving the field open to Shah Soojah. That illustrious monarch
preceded us next day to Kandahar, where, from the confused salute
we heard in the evening of cannon, matchlocks, and various noisy
instruments, we conjectured he had been received with tumultuous joy.
Public exultation is a cheap commodity at all times, but never less
valuable than when inspired by personal fear; and the citizens of
Kandahar were actuated, I think, by interested motives towards their
new monarch. History assigns no cause he had ever given to render
himself popular.

The defection of Hadji Khan (chief of the Kaukers) was the cause
assigned by the Afghans for the Kandahar chieftains abandoning their
territories without a struggle; but as they could not, at that time,
muster above five or six thousand troops, it is probably as well for
them that they did not make the experiment.

Some days before we arrived, they advanced a few marches, with
the intention of attempting to surprise us by a night attack; but
afterwards hearing that we were not all in the habit of going to sleep
at night, they retired to Kandahar, to deliberate on the subject,
and thereby saved the army of the Indus from utter and immediate

Hadji Khan, who had been long in correspondence with Burnes, and also
in the confidence of the Kandahar Ameers, was not a bad specimen of
a traitor. His whole life had been devoted to the profession, and he
had risen by it from an obscure station to considerable influence,
changing his politics with the times, and also his friends, when more
influential ones presented themselves. Believed and trusted by all, he
was faithful to none.

This clever traitor now attached himself to Shah Soojah, being the
first chief of any influence who joined that monarch.


[Footnote 21: The cause of all this difficulty in procuring carriage
for the Bombay army, was a demand of the Scindian camel-owners for
payment from the time they were originally hired, which responsibility
Sir J. Keane would not undertake, and the camel-owners refused to
advance. The demand was no more than usual; and the results of this
economy were injurious, and might have been fatal.]

[Footnote 22: It was afterwards known that these tribes had been
instigated by Mehrab Khan of Kheiat to annoy us as much as possible
during our progress.]

[Footnote 23: The rear columns were attacked here, but by a very small
body of Beloochees, who soon retired.]

[Footnote 24: The Dhoomba sheep is so named from Dhoom, the tail, which
grows to a great size with this species.]

[Footnote 25: Surwans are camel-drivers.]

[Footnote 26: The cold of Afghanistan may be partly owing to the great
quantity of saltpetre diffused over its surface.]

[Footnote 27: On a more accurate survey of the country, water enough
was found here to have sufficed the whole army.]



On the morning of the 27th of April we entered the plain in which
Kandahar is situated, and encamped about two miles from the city.
This plain is well irrigated and tilled. Gardens enclosed by high mud
walls, and abounding with a great variety of fruit, are seen on almost
every side on approaching the city; and so level is the plain in its
vicinity, that nothing could be discerned but a long mud wall with
a few domes looking over it. The wall which encloses Kandahar in an
oblong figure, (whose perimeter exceeds three miles,) is flanked by
numerous circular bastions, and defended by an irregular dry ditch.
The curtain is about twenty feet in thickness at the base, and its
relief varies from thirty-five to forty feet, according to the depth
or shallowness of the ditch. In the parapet are numerous embrasures
and loopholes for matchlocks or jingals. I need scarcely annex to this
brief description that it is a place of no strength.

The bazaar runs from the Shikarpore gate, by which we entered, across
the city, and is intersected at right angles by a similar bazaar from
east to west. At the point of intersection is a large dome, which
affords a respite from the sun, now becoming intolerably hot. The city
was thronged with inhabitants, in every variety of Eastern costume,
busily engaged in their various avocations; and notwithstanding their
material change of administration which took place yesterday, business
seemed to be going on as quietly as if nothing unusual had occurred.
From the estimate formed on that occasion, I should say the natives of
Kandahar were not very violent politicians.

The women were clad cap-à-pie in a flowing white robe, (not always
particularly clean,) in which a piece of netting was inserted over the
eyes, to give them an opportunity of seeing what was passing; although
it precluded them from what is said, perhaps unjustly, to constitute
a source of satisfaction amongst northerly dames--being seen. A neat
green or scarlet leather slipper gave some relief to the ghostlike
appearance, and generally attracted observation to a pretty foot.

The palace is situated in the southern quarter, and surrounded by
a high shot-proof wall, which was garnished by several old guns of
curious workmanship: a legend is attached to some of them, which is not
likely to be interesting to the world at large.

An abundance of supplies were procured for the army in Kandahar, and
the surviving horses of the cavalry brigade (nearly three hundred had
died on the march) once more tasted grain: but the relief came too late
with many, whose hearts had been broken, and the greater portion never
recovered condition.

About a fortnight after our arrival, the Bombay division joined us,
consisting of a wing of H.M. 4th Light Dragoons, H.M.'s 2nd and 17th
Regiments, two troops of Horse Artillery, 1st Native Cavalry, 19th
Native Infantry, and two companies of Foot Artillery; and now, for
the first time, the "Army of the Indus" were assembled, though many
hundred miles distant from the river in whose name they were baptized.

The Bombay force had suffered less from famine than ourselves, having
marched a shorter distance, and been better supplied with grain: two
thousand camel loads were dispatched for their use from Shikarpore, to
the grief of the Bengal commissariat.

In May, the hot winds set in with much virulence, and the heat in our
tents became very oppressive. In spite of every effort on our parts to
reduce the temperature by throwing horse-cloths over the canvas, and
keeping wet grass, day and night, against the doors, the thermometer
stood at 110° during the heat of the day, and did not fall more than
twelve degrees at night. The camp, which was now a long standing one,
became exceedingly offensive, owing to the number of dead cattle in the
vicinity, principally camels; and the swarms of flies that worried us,
enabled one to comprehend what that visitation must have amounted to
when sent to plague the Egyptians.

The hospital began to fill rapidly. By the middle of May ours held
more than one fourth of the regiment to which I belonged. Jaundice,
dysentery, and fever were the prevalent complaints; the two latter,
far the most fatal. The 13th Light Infantry and Company's European
regiment were very severe sufferers, and were ultimately reduced from
sickness and death to a very weak state, especially the former, who
buried more than an average of a man a day during the two months we
halted at Kandahar. The causes of these complaints, independent of
heat, were the bad water drank on the march, and the dampness of the
soil in the neighbourhood of the city.

The people of the country being apparently better disposed towards
us now than at first, the officers of the army strayed occasionally
some miles from camp on fishing and shooting excursions, until these
amusements were checked by a tragical event, which occurred on the
evening of the 28th of May.

Two officers of the 16th Lancers, Lieuts. Wilmer and Inverarity, were
returning towards camp on a sporting excursion rather later in the
evening than usual. On ascending an eminence, about four miles from
camp, (having given their guns to the grooms to carry,) Inverarity
preceded his friend, and rode to the top of a rocky hillock, from
whence the camp fires were visible. When he reached this spot about
twenty Afghan savages rushed upon their unarmed victim, tore him from
his horse (as supposed), and inflicted several mortal wounds with
their cimiters. Wilmer, following, unconscious of what had occurred,
was suddenly attacked by some of the same gang. Providentially he had
a thick walking stick in his hand, which he raised in time to parry
the first blow made at his head, and, escaping from his assailants,
descended the hill, pursued by the assassins. These he soon distanced,
and reaching an outpost of irregular horse about a mile from the place,
returned with some of the party in search of the banditti. The cowardly
villains had absconded, leaving poor Inverarity covered with wounds,
but still alive. He spoke but a few words, faintly describing how he
had met with the disaster, and begged for some water, which, as soon
as it could be procured, he drank, and almost immediately afterwards

In the dead of night the party arrived in camp with his corpse, so
gashed and disfigured, that it could scarcely be recognised by his
brother-officers, and the following day his remains were interred with
the usual military honours in front of the standard guard.

The malice of his murderers rested not even in the grave, for some
months after we heard of a gang (who came from the direction of the
place where he was murdered) attempting to dig up his body. Having
demolished the tomb, they were interrupted in their accursed project by
a party of native infantry quartered in Kandahar, and fled to the hills.

Inverarity's remains were afterwards removed from the spot, and
interred in the city of Kandahar.

The barbarians who, it is supposed, committed the deed, were
subsequently secured by the exertions of Major Mac Laren[28]
of the 16th Native Infantry, while storming a small fort near
Khelat-i-Ghilzie. Some articles, supposed to have belonged to
Inverarity, were found in their possession; but the punctilious judge
did not consider them legally identified, and the assassins were
liberated, about in sufficient time, it was conjectured, to fall in
with another officer, who was murdered between Kandahar and Caubul.

Had the detection and punishment of the murderers been committed to
Shah Soojah (as he requested) there is every reason to suppose they
would not have escaped so easily, and the business would have afforded
his Majesty sincere pleasure.

Rumours of Dost Mahomed's preparations for an obstinate resistance were
now reaching us daily; but the envoy frequently expressed his firm
conviction that no opposition would be made. Sir John Keane differed
in opinion, and refused to leave the Bombay division behind, according
to Mr. Mac Naghten's suggestion, unless the envoy could guarantee that
Dost Mahomed would surrender.

This was of course out of the question, and it was at length determined
that the whole force should advance, except a small garrison for
the city. The commissariat exerted themselves to complete their
arrangements for the march, and the approaching departure was joyfully
welcomed by the army.

A Kafila, with grain from Shikarpore, arrived opportunely in camp
previous to our move, under the escort of two regiments and some local
horse, despatched from Kandahar to protect this caravan, as news had
been received that two chiefs of the powerful Ghilzie tribe were
preparing to pounce on the convoy.

It was fortunate that this precaution had been taken; for it was
ascertained that a large body of the enemy had made preparations to
surprise these necessary supplies on the road, and the fidelity of the
merchant who brought up the caravan was somewhat doubted, until the
arrival of the reinforcement put treachery out of his power.

In the beginning of June, the force under Brigadier Sale, which had
been detached soon after our arrival in pursuit of the Kandahar chiefs,
returned. Those princes had fled to Girishk, a fortress about eighty
miles distant from Kandahar, and near the Helmund river, but abandoned
it on the approach of their pursuers, and fled towards Herat.

Thus ended, in the most undignified manner, the authority of the three
Ameers, for the present. It is singular that in such extremities the
scheme of a reconciliation with their brother, Dost Mahomed, had not
been resorted to, for it would have been unquestionable policy in that
monarch to insure the re-establishment of the Kandahar chiefs to them
in their principality, in case of the united forces succeeding to repel
the British invasion.

It is evident, however, that no such measures could have been
preconcerted to oppose our advance, from the non-occupation of the
Kojuck and Bolan passes. The Afghans, near Kandahar, informed us that
the chiefs distrusted their subjects, and perhaps with cause.

Weak both in mind and authority, these chiefs hovered irresolutely
around their capital, but abandoned the power they had usurped when
danger accompanied its retention.

On the 27th of June, our camp was struck, and the Cavalry division,
with the 1st Brigade of Infantry and head-quarters, preceded.

Next day, came the second Brigade, Shah Soojah and his motley
procession, which swelled daily in numbers, with hordes of Afghans, who
came to join the Shah and tender their allegiance (as they affirmed),
but in reality, no doubt, to watch the progress of events: to remain
_faithful_ in case of success, or plunder in case of a reverse.

The Bombay division of Infantry, under Brigadier Willshire, brought up
the rear. One regiment of Bengal Native Infantry and the heavy guns
were left at Kandahar.

Most of our officers were on the sick list, and on the remainder the
duty was severe, consisting principally of guards to protect the
baggage, and pickets. The outlying cavalry picket was ordered, by the
commander-in-chief, to take post four miles in advance, where, of
course, no baggage was allowed, nor even a groom (strictly speaking) to
hold your charger. This picket was posted at nightfall, with orders to
fall back on the main picket, in case of feeling an enemy. The main
picket was usually posted about a mile from camp, consisting of a
squadron of cavalry, four companies of infantry, and two six-pounders,
from whence a chain of pickets communicated along the front and round
the flanks of the army, whence patrols from the rear-guards completed
the circuit.

The third day's march brought us to the Turnuk river, which is a clear
and shallow mountain stream, running through a valley sown abundantly
with barley and Indian corn. The water was excellent, and supplies for
our cattle were daily procurable; but numbers continued to die, unable
to overcome the debility ensuing from previous overwork and starvation.

The natives of the valley were peaceable agriculturists, who came
constantly into our camp, bringing for sale corn, eggs, fowls, and
fruit; but the mountains which flanked our march, at a short distance,
were amply stocked with marauders. The sickness under which the army
had long suffered now began to abate, or at least, to assume a less
virulent character; but the appearance of the sufferers was materially
altered. Those of previously stout and portly figures were seen walking
about in clothes once fitting closely, but now hanging down like empty
pudding-bags; and faces, whose rubicundity once emulated the richest
hues of Chateau Margaux, now wore a puckered-up, gamboge aspect, which
made sympathy no easy matter with those who were prone to laughter.

Many who had never much flesh to spare, were reduced to varieties
of angular shapes, which might have been useful to a mathematician
when studiously inclined, on the line of march. Such had been the
devastating effects of dysentery and fever on most of the community.

The zealous and able managers of the intelligence department had
prophesied that we should probably be seriously molested by the tenants
of a strong fort in the Ghilzie country, seven marches from Kandahar,
called Khelat-i-Ghilzie.

A bribe had been sent to the two principal chiefs of the Ghilzies,[29]
accompanied by a letter from Shah Soojah, desiring their assistance.
The money was retained, and an insulting answer of defiance returned.

On approaching Khelat-i-Ghilzie, the adjutant-general of cavalry was
sent, with a small escort, to reconnoitre the place.

The brigadier commanding the advanced guard of two squadrons of
cavalry, two guns, and a small body of infantry, on approaching this
memorable place, espied two or three hundred well-armed Ghilzies on an
eminence not far from the road.

Having minutely examined their position, the brigadier pronounced it to
be remarkably strong, and prudently resolved to await the arrival of
the main body of the army, previously to dislodging the party.

Whilst revolving in his mind the most advisable method of attack,
unfortunately, the head of the column hove in sight, and the doubtless
brilliant result that might have ensued was precluded by the Ghilzies
taking to flight.

It was considered fortunate that the enemy knew not their own strength,
or that a more rash officer had not been in command on the occasion,
who, in attempting to intercept the retreat of the Ghilzies, might have
incurred serious responsibility.

Sir John Keane, on his arrival at the encamping ground, was so
satisfied with the arrangements, that he is reported even to have
instituted a comparison between the gallant colonel and the Duke of
Wellington, in his usual energetic and classical mode of expression.

As we had ascended considerably since leaving Kandahar, and were
frequently on high tableland, the heat ceased to annoy us so severely
as during the three preceding months, and we considered we had overcome
by far our most formidable enemy in the relentless sun.

Various and contradictory rumours continued to pour daily into camp.
At one time, it was said that Dost Mahomed, at the head of an army
of thirty thousand men, with eighty guns, had taken up a strong
position near Caubul; at another, that his chiefs and Kuzzilbaches
(Persian mercenaries) having deserted him, he had despaired of making
any effectual resistance, and fled towards the Hindoo Koosh. Lastly,
we were informed that he had detached two of his sons, with chosen
men from the army, to garrison the fortress of Ghuzni; but the same
evening, perhaps, merchants would travel through our camp, _en route_
for Kandahar, and declare they had left Ghuzni but a few days, and had
not seen a single soldier in the place! These reports, when compared
with the actual events, are more reconcilable than appears at a first

Small parties continued to arrive daily, and tender their allegiance
to Shah Soojah; and we were authentically informed, that the two
before-mentioned Ghilzie chiefs, with about five or six thousand
horse each, were moving daily on both flanks, parallel with our line
of march, and would neglect no opportunity to harass the army. Of the
truth of the latter part of the information, we entertained no doubt,
_provided_ they could do it with impunity.

About seventy miles from Ghuzni, we quitted the rich valley of the
Turnuk river, and crossed an extensive, well-cultivated plain, thickly
studded with small mud forts. The inhabitants of this part of the
country dare not dwell in open towns or villages, owing to the numerous
bands of marauders infesting the neighbouring mountains, who have no
mercy on the defenceless villages.

Small, but luxuriant groves of fruit-trees, bending beneath their loads
of rosy-cheeked apples, speckled the plain, and formed a pleasing
resting-place for the eye, fatigued with the ceaseless range of barren
mountains skirting the valley.

On the 20th of July, we reached a small place called Nance, about
twelve miles from Ghuzni; and as yet no authentic intelligence had been
received of Dost Mahomed's intentions or movements, nor of any steps
having been taken to interrupt our progress.

Sir John Keane, however, received news at this place which induced him
to order the rear column to close up to us in the evening. The fort
was said to be garrisoned by a body of Dost Mahomed's troops; and Ufzul
Khan, his second son, was supposed to be near us with four thousand
cavalry. As it was probable that Ufzul Khan would effect a junction
with the Ghilzie chiefs, and attempt to surprise our camp during the
night, the whole army were drawn up in line on their standard guards
soon after sunset, and lay under arms during the night.

Nevertheless, nothing certain was known regarding these reports. Major
Garden, the quartermaster-general, had ridden to reconnoitre Ghuzni in
the evening, and perceived no signs of its being garrisoned.

At daybreak, on the morning of the 21st, our line broke into three
columns, the cavalry on the right, the artillery in the centre, and the
infantry on the left, and in this order advanced over the plain, at the
extremity of which the fortress of Ghuzni is situated.

As we approached, a nephew of Dost Mahomed came to tender his
submission to the Shah, and gave information of the fort being occupied
by Hyder Khan, a son of Dost Mahomed, with a garrison of three thousand
infantry and a few cavalry; but he expressed a suspicion that they
would evacuate the place. This individual complained of having been
ill-treated by his uncle; but there appeared little doubt that the
gentleman came into camp merely as a spy.

Reports from the advanced parties continued to state that no garrison
was to be seen on the ramparts: however, we continued to advance in the
same order.

When within about a mile of the walls, a smart fire of matchlocks
was suddenly opened on the advanced guard of infantry on our left,
from a small village, and from behind some garden walls. The column
immediately halted; the 16th Native Infantry were detached to clear the
village, in rear of which was a small redoubt, protected by the fire of
a bastion of the fort, on which the Afghans fell back.

Two officers,[30] and several men of the 16th Native Infantry, were
wounded by the Afghans in the skirmish.

The artillery now swept past us, and took up their position on an
elevated post in a village about four hundred yards distant from the
nearest bastion of the fort. At the same time the 4th Dragoons were
ordered to the rear to protect the baggage, which, it was supposed, was
likely to be attacked by a body of the enemy's cavalry, which had been
descried on the right, moving in that direction.

The remainder of the cavalry-division were drawn up in close column of
squadrons, about three quarters of a mile from Ghuzni, and supplied
escorts to the reconnoitring parties.

The garrison now opened their fire upon us, which was answered by our
artillery from the village, but the guns, which were only six-pounders,
were found to have little or no effect on the walls, in consequence of
which they were soon withdrawn, having lost two or three horses from
the enemy's fire. Sir John Keane, in his despatch, assigns as a reason
for this eccentric cannonade, a desire to unmask the enemy's batteries.

About the same time the infantry were also withdrawn, and bivouacked in
rear of some gardens, enclosed by mud walls, and about a mile from the

The cavalry entirely escaped his excellency's notice. Early in the
day, several troops had been detached with the different reconnoitring
officers; but now being of no further use for the present, we were left
standing to our horses' heads, and meditating on what kind of service
we could be employed while the rest of the army were bivouacked.

At length, the garrison, being unemployed for the present, pitied
our forlorn condition, and prepared to provide for our amusement. A
monstrous gun from the citadel, carrying a sixty-eight pound shot,
was seen to be trained with much assiduity, in our direction, and we
awaited in agreeable suspense the result of the process.

Two little tents had been procured by some of the officers, and pitched
on the spot where we had dismounted. Some luxurious fellows had been
out on a foraging excursion amongst the baggage, and returned laden
with a supply of bread, fowl, cold meat, and milk. This collation was
being discussed, and a vote of thanks to the industrious foraging
party was in the act of passing, when a loud report from the citadel
interrupted them, followed by a load of iron hurtling over our heads,
and plunging amongst the mass of baggage and camp followers in rear.
This was immediately succeeded by another, better directed, which cut
the ropes of our neighbours' tent, wounded one of their servants, and
killed a trooper of Native Cavalry.

I never saw two tents struck with such admirable alacrity as on this
occasion. I am sure I do not exaggerate when I say that in less than
two minutes the tents had disappeared, and the spy-glasses of the
inmates were directed at the walls to ascertain the cause of this
uncourteous interruption.

The senior officer present now ordered the cavalry to mount, and we
retreated half a mile to the rear, through the midst of a mass of
baggage which our camp followers were hurrying off with incredible
despatch, perceiving the probability of their becoming a target for the
merciless Golundauze in the fort.

Scarcely had we picketed our horses, when the trumpet called us again
to the saddle, and we changed position to the northern front of Ghuzni,
on the Caubul road, and about a mile from the nearest bastion. We
reached this ground about sunset; but the infantry, who passed by a
more circuitous route, round the other side of the fortress, did not
arrive in camp many of them till near midnight.

An incessant fire of cannon, matchlocks, and jingals, was kept up
during the night on the troops whilst marching, and after their arrival
in camp; but the enemy lost a night's rest, and wasted their ammunition
to very small purpose. As they had done us very little injury in the
daytime, the night fire was not a subject of much apprehension; but
all Asiatics have much confidence in great noise and constant firing,
without taking pains about its direction and effect; it keeps up their
courage by diverting their thoughts.

At daylight the following morning, from the intelligence received, and
the observations of reconnoitring parties, we were better enabled to
judge of the difficulties opposed.

Ghuzni is situated in a plain, which it commands easily on every side
but the north, where a small range of hills run down to within one
hundred and fifty yards of the walls. It is built on a low extensive
mound, the foot of which is surrounded by a mud rampart, flanked by
numerous circular bastions. The curtain of this enceinte varied from
thirty-five to forty-five feet in height, and averaged perhaps twenty
in thickness, which rendered it shot-proof to our artillery, as our
heaviest guns had been left at Candahar to be sent as a present to
Prince Kamran of Herat!

The rampart was defended by a deep wet ditch, over which permanent
bridges were built at the gates.

The citadel stands on a rock on the central and most elevated part of
the mound, commanding the whole of the town, and about two hundred and
fifty yards of the hills on the north, and is surrounded by a thick mud
rampart, defended by a fausse-braye. The soles of the embrasures and
loopholes in the parapet of the latter were not sufficiently depressed
to enfilade the approaches to the citadel.

The gates were all blocked with masonry excepting that which leads to
Caubul, and this was built of massive wood, strengthened by iron clamps
and bars, and defended by the cross fire of two adjacent bastions.

Hyder Khan, a son of Dost Mahomed, commanded the garrison, which
consisted of three thousand infantry and one thousand four hundred
cavalry: amongst the former were about one hundred artillerymen, who
had deserted or been reduced in the East India Company's artillery.

The heights on one side of the plain were occupied by a body of about
three thousand cavalry, commanded by Ufzul Khan; and on the other, a
body of infidels, of similar strength, but infantry, were posted to
harass our left.

It was also conjectured that the two Ghilzie chiefs who had been
hovering on our flanks on the line of march, had joined their forces
with those of Ufzul Khan; and these chiefs were reported to be in
command of eight or ten thousand horsemen.

The news of Runjeet Singh's death (which occurred on the 27th of June,
1839) having set Dost Mahomed's mind at rest, regarding any serious
co-operation on the part of the Sikhs against him, he was now preparing
to move down with all the forces he could assemble, and attack us
whilst engaged with the siege of Ghuzni.

His eldest son, Mahomed Akbar Khan, had been detached with about five
thousand men to the entrance of the Khyber pass, which Colonel Wade was
preparing to enter, in company with the Shah Zada Timoor, Shah Soojah's

Colonel Wade commanded a few companies of native infantry and some raw
levies, and was supported by a Sikh auxiliary brigade.

Before Colonel Wade entered the Khyber Pass, the Afghan force under
Mahomed Akbar had been recalled by Dost Mahomed, under the urgent
circumstances then pressing upon him; and the Khyber was entrusted
to the defence of the wandering tribes of Khyberees who infest those
extensive ranges of mountains.

Our own _effective_ force now scarcely amounted to two thousand
eight hundred European cavalry, infantry, and artillery, and about
four thousand sepoys: so much had the army been reduced by sickness,
death, and the detachments left to garrison the places we had passed
through--viz., Bukkur, Shikarpore, Quetta, and Candahar.

Exclusive of these, of course, were the Shah's troops, whose
contingent, in case of an action, would, it was conjectured, be fully
employed in watching the numerous Afghan rabble which flocked around
Shah Soojah. These had now swelled to a large amount by the daily
influx of armed horsemen, who were as likely to be spies and adherents
of Dost Mahomed, as friends of Shah Soojah.

At the best, the bare suspicion of treachery from this armed host
rendered it necessary to keep a force on the watch, and the contingent
must have been used for that purpose in case of a general engagement.

On the morning of the 22nd of July, Sir John Keane and the engineers
were actively employed in reconnoitring the fortress.

Captain Thompson, the chief engineer, having completed his
observations, and remarked that a communication was kept up by the
garrison with the exterior, through the Caubul gateway, gave it as
his opinion that apparently the most practicable means of assault
were presented by a coup-de-main, in lieu of a regular assault, (for
which we were not provided,) and suggested as a method to attain this
purpose, that the Caubul gate should be destroyed by bags of powder.

Some officers were in favour of an immediate escalade, but as that
method would necessarily involve a greater loss, and might still remain
in reserve, in case of the failure of the former and more expeditious
method, Sir John Keane resolved on adopting Captain Thompson's

During the morning of the 22nd, we were most of us endeavouring to make
amends for the two days and nights of almost unremitting vigilance
that had been exercised, when the shrill tones of the alarm trumpet
rang confusedly from many quarters of the camp, and caused us all to
start up and prepare for the saddle. A smart rattling fire of musketry,
interrupted by the occasional roar of cannon, was heard, apparently
near the foot of the hills, on our left flank, and a hurried report
ran along the lines, that Dost Mahomed, with his whole army, had come
suddenly upon us.

We were now become too well used to our harness to take long in
preparing, and a very few minutes served to show us formed, on our
alarm posts.

The Bengal cavalry brigade were immediately dispatched at a round pace
towards the scene of action. The ground we passed over was rough and
undulating, and in many places covered with crops of high standing
corn, which completely intercepted our view; but the nearer rattle of
musketry indicated we were not far from the field of strife.

Having ridden over about two miles of country, of the above
description, we came upon an open and barren plain, which extended
to the foot of the hills, where we descried some of Shah Soojah's
contingent, accompanied by two or three guns, closely engaged with a
body of two or three thousand Afghans.

On our approach, the Afghans commenced a retreat upon the hills,
pressed hard by the Shah's troops, who were unable, however, to bring
their guns far up the hill-side.

The cavalry brigade were detached by wings of regiments to the flanks
and rear of the heights, in order to intercept the enemy, should the
infantry succeed in dislodging them.

The Afghans having ascended to the summit of the hill, took up a hasty
order for battle, and awaited their enemies. A deep ravine skirted
the base of their position, and its crest was occupied by a party of
matchlock-men, thus enfilading the approach by the only practicable
ascent. The Shah's troops were not inclined to storm this strong
defensible position, but halted behind the ravine, and under cover of
rocks and broken ground endeavoured to drive the enemy from the heights
by musketry; but the distance between the skirmishing parties, to admit
of either fire being very galling, was much too considerable.

We remained watching the skirmish taking place on the heights, in
expectation of seeing a reinforcement arrive from camp, which would
enable the infantry to dislodge their enemies, and force them into
collision with us; but the commander-in-chief refused the application
for reinforcements, being resolved to keep the infantry fresh for the
work which awaited them on the morrow, and Shah Soojah would not part
with any more of his guards. A body of cavalry, as a last resource,
endeavoured to mount the hill side, and take the Afghans in reverse,
but after ascending a few hundred yards, the rocks and ravines became
so numerous that the ascent was quite impracticable, and they
reluctantly descended under a harmless salute from the enemy on the

At sunset, the forces were withdrawn to camp, having killed about sixty
Afghans, and taken fifty prisoners, with a loss of only a few wounded
on the side of the British.

The prisoners being brought into the presence of Shah Soojah, declared
they were Ghazees, or Crusaders, bound by a religious vow to take
his head, and that the oath of the party would sooner or later be
accomplished, although they had not been successful in the present

"I will, at all events, secure your head now," replied the indignant
monarch; and beckoning to his executioner, (who was never far from his
master's side, knowing the Shah's predilection for the office,) the
speaker's head rapidly disappeared.

The comrades of the decapitated being loth to part with this useful
article, showed signs of resistance, when the brave and zealous
attendants of his majesty rushed upon the unarmed prisoners,
unrestrained by word or gesture of their king, and massacred their

One old man, it is said, escaped to tell his comrades in the mountains
the fate of the captives. And this act was perpetrated in the midst of
the first Christian army which had set foot in Afghanistan since the
creation of the world.

Let it not be supposed that the suppression of the murder lay in the
power of the British authorities; there was not, I believe, one British
officer present, and the whole merit rests with Shah Soojah; but he was
viewed as a mere puppet in our hands, and on us, throughout Asia, will
rest the obloquy of this savage massacre. No doubt the Afghans have
done as bloody deeds, but it became, therefore, more incumbent to show
a better example.


[Footnote 28: This gallant soldier fell at the battle of Sobraon.]

[Footnote 29: In the subjugation of this country in 1840, this tribe of
Ghilzies were found the most obstinate and inveterate foes to British
influence. Khelat-i-Ghilzie was gallantly held by a native infantry
regiment (which now bears the name) against frequent attacks of the
Ghilzies during the insurrection.]

[Footnote 30: Captain Graves and Lieutenant M'Mullen, 16th Native



The plan of operations against Ghuzni having now been arranged, general
orders directed the troops to move as quietly as possible from their
quarters to the allotted positions. About three in the morning the
artillery had occupied the heights near the Caubul gate of the fort,
and about three hundred yards from the ramparts. The infantry were
drawn up in columns of companies on the road beneath the hills, and to
the left rear of the artillery. The cavalry were posted round the fort
to intercept the retreat of the garrison and the advance of relief.

The 16th Lancers were on the Caubul road, in the rear of the infantry,
as a diversion was expected from the enemy's cavalry in the mountains,
in favour of the besieged.

The morning was exceedingly dark, and all around quiet as death; for
the garrison, who had hitherto kept up an almost incessant cannonade,
seemed to think they had done enough, and were enjoying repose. We
began to imagine that they had used up their ammunition in the past
vigorous efforts to alarm us, and that the fort had been evacuated.

This oppressive silence was interrupted by the word of command passing
down the ranks in a whisper; and the forlorn hope moved to their post
near the Caubul gate, to await the result of the engineers' experiment.
The bags of powder, amounting to three hundred pounds in weight, were
carried by the sappers, supported by a party of European volunteers;
and the engineer officers, who placed the powder at the gate,
distinctly heard the voices of the Afghan-guard conversing near the
gateway. The saucisson was laid, and fired by an officer of the Bengal

Suddenly, a broad glare lit up the ramparts, and with a smothered,
crushing report, the Caubul gate was shattered into innumerable
fragments. In one moment, the face of nature seemed to have awoke in
uproar. The rushing and confusion in the city, and on the ramparts,
was accompanied by a hasty and random fire from any gun which could
be manned, no matter where it was pointed. The whole city, aroused
instantaneously from repose, and yet too late, hurried in confused
masses to man the walls, ignorant of the disaster which had befallen
the gateway. Then burst from the hills the solemn, majestic roar of our
artillery; light flashed upon light in uninterrupted succession, and
the shell, sped on its mission of death, curved steadily through the
lurid atmosphere.

The fort continued a random answer from its guns, and hung out lights
from the walls, to discover the locality of their assailants; but this
served to direct the fire of our artillery, and the walls were soon
cleared of their occupants. The wing of a Native Infantry regiment,
posted on the south-eastern front, drew a part of the besieged in that
direction, to repel this false attack.

Under cover of the artillery fire, sweeping the parapets, Colonel
Dennie, leading four light companies from the 2nd, 13th, 17th, and
Company's European Regiment, advanced to storm the Caubul gate, closely
followed by Brigadier Sale, in command of the main body of the storming
party, consisting of the remainder of those four British regiments.

The enemy opened a smart fire of matchlocks upon the advance, and the
gateway was found much obstructed with rubbish and splintered beams
from the demolished framework. The postern, turning sharply to the
right, and leading to the interior of the place, induced an officer in
the passage to suppose it blocked up, in consequence of which, he took
upon himself to order a bugler to sound the retreat; but the advanced
party having penetrated to the interior, heard, or heeded not, the

Overcoming every obstacle, the gallant Britons rushed, with a loud
cheer, through the postern, at whose entrance they were met by a body
of Afghan desperadoes, who had thrown themselves devotedly into this
passage, resolved to defend it with their lives. Here, the struggle was
short, but deadly. Armed with sword and daggers, each Afghan fought and
fell, with his face to the enemy; and if a spark of life remained after
he had been hurled to the earth, his last act was to direct a sword or
pistol against the breast of his hated foe as our men trampled over him
in their ownward career. So confined had been the area for combat, that
many of the soldiers, being unable to use their weapons at full length
in the mêlée, unfixed their bayonets, and used them as daggers; and
the broken and blood-stained weapons told with what effect they had
been wielded.

The resistance at the entrance having been overcome by the destruction
of this desperate band, the cry was, "On--on! to the citadel!"

A panic had now seized and paralysed many of the garrison, for they
huddled together in confined spaces, and stood to be slaughtered like
sheep, or rushed in frenzy to the walls, and cast themselves from the

No thought of refuge and opposition in the citadel seemed to have
occurred to any, nor had it been sufficiently equipped for defence.

The efforts of the most rational were directed towards an escape
outside the walls, by secret outlets; but there, the clear light of
morning, and the sabres of the cavalry, left slender hopes of escape.

As daylight brought each minute tracing of the works into view, the
gallant British regiment were seen winding up the steep, rocky ascent
which led to the citadel, where, with a wild "hurrah!" they burst the
gate, mounted the ramparts, and cast loose the gay blazonry of their
banners to the wind as it moaned along the shattered battlements of
captured Ghuzni.

Scattered parties of the besieged now fled to the tops of the houses,
whence, after they had recovered a little from the prevalent panic, a
desultory fire was maintained on our soldiery. This useless resistance
nullified all attempts to restrain the carnage which ensued, and which
the garrison, by not surrendering at once, brought upon themselves.
So determined were many to carry war "to the knife," that they would
discharge their last pistol at the party advancing to capture them, and
then resign themselves, sullenly, to the fate which followed this last
act of outrage in the shape of a bullet or a bayonet. Probably, they
imagined that no quarter would be granted them; "the quality of mercy"
being rarely found "dropping like the gentle dew from heaven" on the
rugged surface of Afghanistan.

Possibly, the intelligence of yesterday's massacre of the prisoners
by Shah Soojah might have induced them to expect a similar fate in

A brigade of sepoys which had entered the town and spread on the
ramparts, having scoured the buildings, soon cleared them of their
defenders, and put an end to all resistance in a few hours, the British
regiments being withdrawn to their lines.

Confusion, however, continued to prevail throughout the day, for a
herd of about one thousand two hundred horses belonging to the garrison
were dashing wildly through the town, driven frantic by wounds or
alarm. An officer, with a party of dragoons, was sent into the fort
to secure these horses, which now resembled wild beasts more than
domestic animals; and it was with much difficulty this roving band
were at length secured and led off. Very few horses of much value or
of sufficient size and strength for a cavalry remount were selected
from these captives. Those, however, which were used for that purpose
have mostly proved active and hardy animals, and are considered by many
superior to the general run of stud-bred horses in Bengal.

In the course of the day, Hyder Khan, the governor of Ghuzni, was
captured, and brought into camp, where Shah Soojah, at the instigation
of the commander-in-chief, reluctantly granted him his life, which the
Shah no doubt considered forfeited, for bearing arms against a king who
had been deposed before, or very shortly after, the delinquent's birth.

Not so fared Woolee Mahomed, (a relative of Dost Mahomed, and
standard-bearer of the army,) who defended himself to the last
extremity in the cellar, where he had taken refuge, close to his
Zenana,[31] which he protested should be entered by none, save over his
dead body. He surrendered, ultimately, to two officers on political
employ, who ventured to promise that his life should be spared, and was
brought before the tyrant Soojah, who immediately ordered him to be

It has been alleged that Woolee Mahomed had proved treacherous to the
Shah in some previous intercourse; but no sophistry can prove that Shah
Soojah was then a king, when Dost Mahomed sat on the throne, and, with
the approbation of his subjects, exercised supreme authority.

Many causes, too numerous to dwell upon, have been assigned for this
act of severity, by those desirous to defend Shah Soojah, but none
apparently can justify so cold-blooded a murder, when the words of two
British officers had been pledged for the safety of the unhappy victim.
Surely, blood enough had been shed that day to appease the royal
resentment, had it been confined to anything resembling moderate limits.

Amongst the besieged the carnage was found to be considerable. Upwards
of seven hundred bodies were interred in the fort, and about two
thousand were taken prisoners. It was impossible to ascertain the
number of wounded, for many crawled out of their hiding-places, in the
city, several days afterwards, and were taken charge of by such of the
citizens as had resumed their usual avocations; and in the villages,
some distance from Ghuzni, a few days afterwards, I found several,
dreadfully scorched and wounded, who admitted they had escaped over the
walls, on the morning of the storm, shortly before daylight.

Nearly all the prisoners were liberated, by direction of the
commander-in-chief, in the course of the day; for this, there was no
alternative, as we had not the means of taking charge of and supporting
such a large body of men, in the present state of affairs, and this act
of clemency, it was supposed, would produce a beneficial effect in the
beginning of the campaign.

Amongst our own troops, the list of killed and wounded amounted to
two hundred, but of this number not more than thirty were killed, or
died of their wounds. In the list of wounded were nineteen officers,
but none of their injuries proved fatal. Some had been wounded by a
short barbed arrow or bolt, shot from a cross-bow, which implement the
Afghans are tolerably expert in using; but these weapons had been in
the hands of the townspeople during the defence. The garrison had been
selected from the best of Dost Mahomed's troops, and were about three
thousand in number, and universally well equipped and armed.

Among the prisoners were found several Golundauze or Foot Artillery,
from Hindustan. One of these declared that, the day preceding the
storm, he had suggested to the governor the probability of our
attempting to blow in the gate of the fortress, and recommended that
a palisade should be thrown across the entrance; but his advice had
been disregarded, the gate being considered strong enough to resist any

The place being now in our hands, guards were posted at the gate, and
parties patrolled the town to prevent any more plundering, and to
collect the prize property.

Eight pieces of cannon, of various calibres, and twenty two jingals, or
wall pieces, were taken. Among the ordnance, was our old antagonist of
the 21st instant, which was found to carry a sixty-eight pound shot,
though assuredly at greater risk to the artillerymen who were rash
enough to fire it than to the enemy, for the interior was curiously

Few things of much value were taken except horses, of which about one
thousand were picketed in front of the 1st Cavalry Brigade, but owing
to the insufficiency of ropes and picketing pegs, the greater part of
the horses broke loose during the night, and more than half escaped or
were stolen!

The whole of the prize property taken at Ghuzni, when sold, it is said,
fetched less than three lakhs of rupees, although the horses, arms,
and other articles, when put up for auction, sold for most exorbitant
prices, and the amount was realized in a few weeks. Yet an impenetrable
veil of mystery encompasses the subject. No officers to the present
date have received any part of the treasure; and information, though
frequently and publicly solicited, has been equally scarce.

After the capture of the fort, the enemy, who had occupied the adjacent
heights, retired, and left us for awhile at rest. Parties of Afghan
horsemen arrived daily in camp, from Caubul and its vicinity, to tender
their allegiance to Shah Soojah. These people concurred in asserting
that Dost Mahomed was still at Caubul, collecting his forces to give us
battle, and that his present army amounted to fifteen thousand men and
forty guns.

On July 27th, a deputation under Jubbar Khan (brother of Dost Mahomed)
arrived at our outposts, and were conducted to head-quarters. They came
to inquire what terms would be granted to Dost Mahomed by the British

They were answered that Dost Mahomed must surrender himself into our
hands, and return with a portion of the army to Hindostan, where
a jageer would be allotted him, and a pension of a lakh of rupees

Indignant at the severity of the terms, the Afghan ambassador replied
nearly as follows:--

"These proposals are so insulting that I will not even mention them
to my brother; for what less could have been offered had you already
vanquished him in the field? We have hitherto heard that the English
were a just and equitable nation; but on what plea can you found the
right of dethroning a monarch, the choice of his country, and placing
on the throne yonder deposed puppet whom I spit at?[32] You have taken
our stronghold of Ghuzni; you may also, perhaps, overcome the army
which my brother has raised to defend himself; but the eyes of all Asia
are upon you. Asiatics will judge and appreciate your conduct; and the
blood of those innocent men who fall in the contest rests on your own
heads. May Allah defend the right!"

I have rarely heard a speech more to the purpose, and never one more
difficult to answer.

Jubbar Khan, having made more than half his auditors look
uncomfortable, returned to Caubul, after resting a short time at
the quarters of his friend, Sir Alexander Burnes, who spoke of him
in the highest terms. Jubbar Khan had formerly been ill treated by
Dost Mahomed, and been estranged thereby from his brother; but now
that adversity loured, forgetting all former differences, he came to
tender what service lay in his power, and remained faithful to the
last, although through his friend Sir Alexander Burnes, he might,
doubtless, have provided well for his own interests. A rare example
of disinterestedness, and almost a solitary case, according to all
accounts of Afghan character.

Jubbar Khan's escort consisted of about one hundred cavalry, who were
nearly all uncommonly fine and powerful-looking fellows, mostly clad
in chain armour, and armed with lances and matchlocks, but mounted
on horses apparently not up to their weight: these animals, however,
are more active and hardy than would be supposed, and are trained to
perform long journeys at a shuffling pace of about five miles an hour,
and frequently on very short allowances of fodder.

On the morning of the capture of Ghuzni, the Cavalry Brigade turned out
about eleven o'clock, in consequence of the approach of a large body of
horsemen, which proved to be Hadji Khan, Kauker, with his followers.
He had kept some distance in our rear since quitting Kandahar, and now
pushed forward to join us, seeing our affairs wore a more favourable
aspect. This chief had maintained a correspondence with the political
agent since the army had entered Afghanistan, offering to remain with
the Kandahar chiefs, and do them all the injury in his power until
our arrival! Yet Hadji Khan never actively assisted the army, nor
did he restrain his people from committing depredations whilst we
were passing through his own hills. He now came forward with a camel
load of letters, (an excellent pretext,) asserting that he had been
earnestly engaged in collecting and forwarding our communication. His
influence might possibly have effected that object, without remaining
two or three marches in rear with his whole force. This new addition
augmented the Shah's force to so large a body of Afghans, that they
were prudently kept at arm's length; for treachery from that camp was
now quite as formidable as resistance from the enemy in our front.

On the 30th of July, we advanced from Ghuzni towards the capital, the
cavalry brigade preceding as before, accompanied by the first brigade
of infantry. Colonel Roberts's brigade followed, next day, with the
Shah; and General Willshire's division formed the rear-guard of the

At the commencement of the march, we passed through a narrow defile,
which would have been an admirable position for Dost Mahomed to hold
during the siege of Ghuzni, or to select afterwards to oppose our
progress. The summit of this defile was found to be the highest ground
we had crossed, being fully 1000 feet above the site of Ghuzni, and
that fortress was computed at nearly 8000 feet above the level of the

Having traversed a considerable tract of rocky undulating ground, we
entered, on the third day's march, a small but well irrigated valley,
where the turf and bright corn fields beneath us, partially shaded
by avenues of fruit trees, nourished by the friendly assistance of a
mountain stream, whose course they closely and eagerly pursued to the
end of the valley, presented a prospect which would anywhere have been
admired, but, in these barren regions, it looked like

                  "That vale enchanting
  Where all looks flowery, wild and sweet,
  And nought but love is wanting."

Possibly, on reflection, we might have found other wants; but at
present it was necessary to dispense with wishes and encounter stern

Several deserters of Dost Mahomed's army joined us here, with
intelligence of his being in position about thirty miles from us, at
a place called Urghundee, with a force of fifteen thousand men and
thirty pieces of cannon; but the deserters suggested that he would
probably advance to meet us at Maidan, an open ground, which sloped
gradually towards a rivulet lying in our route. On receipt of this
news, orders were issued to the rear columns to close immediately to
the front, and we marched next morning about ten miles in momentary
expectation of encountering some of the enemies' advanced posts. Our
pickets were strengthened and carefully disposed along the front; and
our men, elated at the prospect of the approaching struggle, burnished
their arms and looked keenly to the condition of their chargers and
accoutrements. Every heart beat high in the confident anticipation of
shortly essaying what might be effected by a small band of resolute
and disciplined soldiers against this overwhelming mass of vaunting
Afghans, who amounted to more than double our numbers.

Such were the hopes entertained by our army; but, ere mid-day, these
brilliant anticipations were given to the winds; for a large body of
Afghans arrived at our pickets, bringing accounts that Dost Mahomed's
army was breaking up and deserting; and that, in despair, he had
abandoned them and his guns at Urghundee, and fled towards Bameean.
This news was soon after confirmed by numerous bodies of the ex-king's
cavalry arriving in camp to tender their useful submission and services
to Shah Soojah, until in the hour of need they might find it more
profitable and less dangerous to choose another master.

Major Cureton, with a squadron of the 16th Lancers, one of Native
Cavalry, and a few artillerymen, was immediately despatched to take
possession of the cannon. Twenty-five pieces were found in position
under the brow of a hill, near Urghundee, about twenty-two miles
distant from our present encampment.

At the same time, Captain Outram, A.D.C.[33] to the commander-in-chief,
with twelve other officers, and about two hundred and fifty Native
Cavalry, undertook the pursuit of Dost Mahomed towards the Hindoo
Koosh. Hadji Khan, Kaukur, volunteered to act as their guide, and to
assist in capturing the late monarch with several hundred of his Afghan
retinue; but these rapidly decreased in numbers as they approached

The gallant Outram, whose whole life has been a scene of daring
exploits, which obtained for him the appropriate designation of Bayard,
"Le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche," has sketched, in his "Rough
Notes," the details of this expedition, and I shall therefore not
presume to trace that ground.

Thus was the object of this singular campaign accomplished, and
Shah Soojah, after an exile of thirty years, re-established in his
dominions. The feeble resistance offered by Dost Mahomed was a matter
of surprise to all the army, considering the character for enterprise,
courage, and ability universally assigned him, and which the earlier
period of his career fully testified; but he had been many years a
king, which may perhaps account for the difficulty. Possessing such
strong natural obstacles to the advance as well as maintenance of
an invading army, as Afghanistan unquestionably does, he profited
by none of them. In the most rugged and formidable defiles, a few
marauders only were posted to assail our rear guards and baggage; and
even these not always at the suggestion of their prince, but to glut
their own appetites for blood and plunder. As we advanced through the
inhospitable regions of Lower Afghanistan, the inhabitants generally
fled from before us, but often left their standing crops for the
maintenance of our cattle. Had these been cut down and carried away to
the mountains by the villagers, our horses must all have died, for they
endured, even as it happened, starvation enough to destroy half and
enfeeble the remainder.

Though many opportunities presented themselves for cutting off our
supplies of water, this expedient was only once or twice attempted, and
that in so slovenly a manner that a party of twenty or thirty troopers
sufficed to restore the water to its channel, unopposed by the enemy.
These circumstances amply prove, without entering further into details,
that Dost Mahomed had neglected the important opportunities which lay
in his grasp, of multiplying our difficulties at the outset. He might
assuredly have induced the chiefs of Kandahar (his own brothers) to
make common cause against their common invaders, and, in conjunction
with the Ghilzie chiefs and Mehrab Khan of Khelat (both of whom, as
well as their adherents, showed abundant proofs of their readiness to
bear arms against us) dispute the passage of the numerous and difficult
passes we were compelled to traverse. This supposition may be fully
warranted by the reply which Burnes describes Dost Mahomed to have
given on a former occasion to the Kandahar chiefs, when threatened by
the Persians. "When the Persians approach, let me know; and as I am
_now_ your enemy will I then be your friend."[34]

Such would have appeared the most rational course to pursue; and had
he taken these measures and executed them with vigour, there is little
doubt that his own army would have remained faithful to him when the
prospect appeared favourable, and when an example should be set by
other tribes. It is no matter of surprise that an army of lawless
tribes should desert a chief whom they deem unable or unwilling to
direct their efforts to the best advantage.

The chieftains, whose aggregate force would have been considerable,
were allowed to be beaten in detail, or to abandon their position as
we advanced. Mehrab Khan, with two thousand brave followers, fell
in the defence of his fortress, even after the dethronement of his
sovereign. The Kandahar chiefs, with what remained of their army,
having lingered to the last moment, were compelled to abandon their
city without a struggle. The Ghilzie chiefs were willing enough,[35] as
they afterwards proved, to meet their invaders in the field, and their
numbers must have been considerable, as more than six thousand were
known to be moving on our flanks on the advance to Ghuzni.

Lastly, a garrison of less than three thousand men in a fortress,
which, by the modern rules of the art of war, must inevitably fall in
a few days, (considering the Gothic tracing of its defences,) was the
forlorn bulwark opposed by the monarch himself to the approaches of his

However, this dernier resort, even, was made the least of by his
majesty's unaccountable desire to linger near the capital. Had the
defile, five miles on the Caubul side of Ghuzni, been selected as a
position for his army, they would have been advantageously placed to
intercept our advance upon Caubul, and from thence dispositions might
have been made for the relief of Ghuzni, or to surprise us by a chupao,
or night attack, which mode of warfare has often been successfully
practised among the Afghans. What might have been the result of such a
manoeuvre it is difficult even to conjecture;[36] for in the darkness
of night many advantages of discipline are lost, where the enemy is
felt before he is seen, and fire is almost as likely to tell upon
friend as foe; their habit, it is said, is to attack the rear of camp,
where the confused mass of cattle driven from the bazaar into the lines
must create no trifling confusion amongst the troops turning out to
form on their alarm posts.

The fall of Ghuzni greatly dispirited Dost Mahomed's army;[37] they
became distrustful of him, and he of them, and the result was a mutual

Many of his soldiers concurred in stating, that they had assured
Dost Mahomed of their faith, and would have abided by him; but when
it became known that Jubbar Khan had proceeded to Ghuzni to open a
negotiation, they doubted him, and concluded he was about to provide
for himself at their expense.

Taking all these circumstances into consideration, this campaign,
in an abstract military point of view, has thus far turned out more
fortunately, and with less and feebler opposition from the enemy, than
the most sanguine of its instigators or conductors could reasonably
have anticipated.

Politically, I shall not discuss the subject, because I could never
perceive one sound reason for taking the haphazard and unprofitable

On advancing towards the position lately occupied by Dost Mahomed,
nearly the whole line of march was flanked by troops of the deposed
monarch. Many of them were well mounted, and all well armed, although
little uniformity was maintained in dress or weapons.

Some wore steel caps and gauntlets, chain-armour variously wrought, and
light, neatly-finished cimeters, which bore a remarkably keen edge,
owing to the hardness of the material; others were clad in padded
cotton or silk dresses, of every variety of colour, the head being
covered by turbans of thick and embroidered Cashmere, or plain white
muslin. They carried over their shoulders long matchlocks, inlaid with
silver or ivory.

The Kuzzilbashes, or Persian mercenaries, were the only troops amongst
whom prevailed any uniformity, and they were generally distinguished by
a high, black, sheepskin cap, with a small red cloth top, and a sort of
frock dress, generally white, which reached to the knees, opening in
four places from the waist. Light deerskin boots, fitting closely to
the leg, completed this plain and serviceable costume.

Amongst the cavalry were certainly some of the handsomest and most
powerful-looking fellows I ever saw; the complexions of many were
fairer than those of some of our own sunburnt veterans; and amongst
them, also, were some of the dirtiest, long-bearded, ferocious-looking
savages I had hitherto seen: men who would doubtless have taken no
small pleasure in carving and dissecting any luckless straggler from
our camp whom they might happen to meet singly and unarmed. The
descriptions I have read of the Huns and Goths who overran the Roman
empire in the fifth century, forcibly occurred to me as I marked their
personification on each side of the road, unaltered and unimproved
by a lapse of fourteen centuries; while the western emigrants have
progressed to a state of civilization and intelligence, having
subverted nations and monarchies in their resistless course.

As we surmounted the hill near Urghundee, which is flanked by dark
lofty mountains, without a trace of vegetation, the peaks of the Hindoo
Koosh were visible, glittering in the morning sun from their snowy
summits. The intervening country, to the foot of this mighty barrier of
Afghanistan, presented a most unattractive appearance: an undulating,
rocky soil, with a few patches of short dry grass, extended apparently
a great portion of the way towards their foot.

The guns remained in the same position in which they had been left by
Dost Mahomed, on high ground, and were ranged to command a gorge from
which our army issued. The ground, in front and rear, was flat and
favourable for cavalry, in which his principal strength consisted.
All that was requisite for the fray was a little more heart and less


[Footnote 31: The Zenana is the sanctum allotted to the ladies.]

[Footnote 32: This compliment was addressed to Shah Soojah.]

[Footnote 33: Governor of Scinde, afterwards, or as it was then
designated, "Political Agent."]

[Footnote 34: Vide Burnes' Travels, vol. iii. p. 272.]

[Footnote 35: The Ghilzies were the chief actors in the insurrection
and massacre of 1842.]

[Footnote 36: One of our chiefs suggested, in the event of a night
attack, that the men should remain in their tents, and fire upon the
assailants from the cover thus afforded.]

[Footnote 37: They expected Ghuzni to detain us many months, judging
from the difficulties it had presented in recent periods of Afghan



On the morning of the 6th of August, the army moved through a
well-irrigated and woody valley, to the foot of a small hill, on the
further side of which lay the celebrated metropolis of Afghanistan.

Next morning, accompanied by some of my brother officers, I visited
the city of Caubul, which lies under some steep and rugged hills
at the extremity of a flat and extensive valley, whose site at the
city was estimated at six thousand five hundred feet above the sea.
On surmounting the eminence on its western side, Caubul appears to
great advantage, lying immediately beneath, with the white tops of its
various structures peering out from amongst thick groves of almond,
walnut, plum, and various kinds of fruit trees which flourish in this
quarter of the city.

Crossing a bridge over the Caubul river, and winding through some
narrow lanes, on each side of which were houses surrounded by gardens,
we entered the principal bazaar, which extends completely across
the city to the gates of the Bala Hissar, or Shah's palace. At the
commencement of the bazaar, we were much struck with the appearance of
the fruiterers' shops, where grapes, peaches, melons, pomegranates,
and other fruits, were tastefully hung amidst branches of trees, to
which they were suspended. This street entered a small square, which
looked much like an European market-place, the centre being occupied
by stalls of vendors of vegetables, milk, and ice, while the houses
in the square were occupied by tea, spice, and sherbet merchants. The
sight of the latter soon brought our party to a halt to enjoy the
unwonted treat of a bowl of iced sherbet. In Kandahar, the sherbet was
also sold cooled with snow, but the ice was acknowledged to be a great
improvement. From the further side of this market-place, an arched
bazaar, occupied entirely by silk and cloth merchants, conducted us
into a second square, tenanted by shawl makers and dyers. Thence we
passed through another well-thronged arcade into the third square,
where resided the tanners and dressers of sheepskins, for which Caubul
is celebrated. These skins are very neatly dressed, the wool being worn
next the body, and the exterior tastefully ornamented by embroidery in
silk of different colours. During the cold season, the working classes
usually wear long jackets of these skins, with short sleeves reaching
to the elbow, whilst the merchants, and those unaccustomed to manual
labour, adopt a warmer but less commodious mantle, which reaches to the
ankles. The black lamb-skins, brought from Bokhara and Persia for the
manufacture of caps, are highly prized; they are made of the skin of
the lamb immediately after its birth, and are extremely soft and glossy.

Beyond this square, the bazaar becomes more narrow, and much more
noisy, as you enter the quarter occupied by saddlers and armorers,
who form no inconsiderable portion in the manufacture of articles so
requisite and so much used in this land of violence. The saddlery is
made of durable materials, though clumsily put together; and in the
armorer's shop,[38] it is a rare thing to find a piece of good steel
among the many fantastically shaped weapons, where the ingenuity of the
workman appears to have been called in play to invent these fanciful
methods of inflicting torture on his fellow-creatures.

The Bala Hissar, standing apart on a mound which overlooks the city,
is surrounded by a rampart garnished with circular bastions, and
parapets, similarly to most of the fortresses of the East. The wall
was in somewhat bad repair on our arrival, but this was soon remedied
after the Shah had taken up his residence there. The place is of no
importance as a fortress, being completely commanded by the range of
hills in its immediate vicinity. The palace itself conveyed little idea
of grandeur to the spectator; but Shah Soojah took pains in rendering
it more consistent in appearance with the notions he entertains of the
dignity and state requisite for the abode of so mighty and independent
a monarch.[39]

In a burying ground, near the Bala Hissar, was found a tomb, with an
English inscription, to the memory of one John Hicks, who died A.D.
1666. This monument formed a plentiful subject for conjecture as to
who this individual could have been, who had penetrated into a country
infested from time immemorial by hordes of robbers, who consider all
travellers, especially when alone and unprotected, as their legitimate
property. The Afghan tradition was, that two Europeans had arrived with
a Persian caravan in Caubul, and had entered the service of the Shah
of Afghanistan, and that this monument had been carved and built by
the survivor.[40] But what brought these adventurers into Afghanistan
is likely to remain a matter of some ambiguity at this distance of
time, especially as the _biographer_ of John Hicks contented himself
with inscribing the date of his death and the Christian names of the
deceased's parents, leaving the object and success of his travels a
mystery to puzzle and embarrass posterity.

The city was thronged, on the morning Shah Soojah entered Caubul to
resume his seat on the throne of his ancestors, with the former
adherents of Dost Mahomed, and many a scowl was bestowed on the Shah
and his escort (consisting of a squadron of the 4th Dragoons, one of
the 16th Lancers, and some Horse Artillery) as they wended their way
through the streets, towards the palace, although none ventured to
offer any insulting language to the conquerors of Afghanistan. The
reception here was far different from that he had received at Kandahar,
where he was little known. He passed in solemn silence through the
bazaars, where, probably, but few spectators were present who had taken
an active part in his deposition thirty years since; yet tradition had
handed down many a tale of oppression, and, regretting the mild and
popular rule of Dost Mahomed, the inhabitants now submitted in silence
to the evil they could not remedy. Such was the general impression
conveyed by the demeanour of the soldiers and citizens; but, obedient
to the time-serving impulse which characterizes the venal soldiery of
the two nations, both the Kuzzilbashes and Afghan cavalry flocked to
tender their allegiance and services to the reinstated potentate. To
the loyal and civilized inhabitants of the north this comparatively
patient endurance of a change of masters may appear incredible; but a
perusal of the Afghan Dynasty will abundantly show that habit in this
respect, as well as in many others, becomes a second nature. In the
present instance, a considerable difficulty presented itself in the
number of candidates for military employ; the revenue of the country
being inadequate to maintain so large a force in addition to the
numerous contingent which had been levied for the Shah in Hindostan. On
the other hand, to reject the offers of these troublesome volunteers
was tantamount to the distribution of an equal number of malcontents
and robbers throughout Afghanistan, which was already abundantly
supplied with these industrious communities. For the present, a great
portion of the Kuzzilbashes were retained, and bodies of Afghan troops
were shortly afterwards to be seen on the Champ-de-Mars of Caubul,
practising, with laudable perseverance, the rigid miseries of the goose

A few days after our arrival the detachment which had been sent with
Captain Outram, in pursuit of Dost Mahomed, returned from their
laborious and unsuccessful chase. They had come within about twenty
miles of the fugitive, who was accompanied by fifteen hundred Afghans,
preferring to share the flight and dangers of Dost Mahomed to becoming
renegades. Hadji Khan was nearly frantic with fear when he found the
party had approached so much nearer the fugitives than he wished or
intended. He entreated the British officers to abandon the pursuit,
urging that their party was too small, and that not an Afghan of his
retinue would raise a weapon against Dost Mahomed. This appears to
have been one of the few truths he was known to utter, for the greater
part of his retinue had already deserted. The party, however, in spite
of all obstacles, strained every nerve to reach their object, but in
the snowy fastnesses of the Hindoo Koosh these hardy mountaineers were
not to be overcome, and the detachment was, at last, compelled to
relinquish the pursuit and return to Caubul, where Hadji Khan was put
in confinement, and afterwards sent as a prisoner to Hindostan.

Many are of opinion that Hadji Khan was harshly used by the Indian
government, considering his ready adherence to the Shah on his arrival,
and assert that, having openly abandoned his master, it became
apparently his interest to secure his person. It is somewhat singular
that, amongst a nation of renegades and traitors, any partiality
should have been evinced in selecting an individual traitor, and one
who, being influential, might have been made useful; whereas, if all
had been convicted on suspicion, it would have been difficult to find
conveyances and prisons for the state prisoners.

The Cavalry had now an opportunity offered them of replacing some
of the horses which had been lost, for a very small number had been
collected at Kandahar and Ghuzni.

Being on tolerably good terms with the Afghans, we were now able to see
some of their best blood. The Government price for Cavalry remounts was
restricted to four hundred and fifty rupees each horse, which was one
hundred and fifty under the stud price, and the general opinion was in
favour of the Caubul horse, when he could be found of sufficient size;
but, generally speaking, they were so well fattened up for the market
that it required the eye of a good judge to detect faults under this
general rotundity. The horse dealers were also found, in every respect,
capable of competing with their brotherhood in England.

The only instance of an Afghan dealer being "done," which I saw or
heard of, occurred on our march towards Caubul.

A dealer, one morning, came into the Cavalry lines, bringing a
showy-looking nag for sale, which seemed a well bred animal, and
certainly cocked its tail and pawed the ground in a most imposing
manner. J----, a young Dragoon officer, who was a very respectable
jockey, asked the animal's price. "Fifteen hundred rupees," was the
modest request; "and you have not a sounder or fleeter animal in the
Feringhee camp," added the Afghan. J---- quietly noticed one or two
defects; and pointing to a little old chesnut Arab, who certainly
looked as if he were the ghost of some departed racer, but whose
muscle and sinews only required the hand upon them to be acknowledged,
offered to ride him a mile against the Afghan on his vaunted steed. The
dealer eagerly closed the wager for a hundred rupees, and the ground
was selected, as nearly as it could be guessed, for the distance.
The riders were soon up, (the Afghan apparently the heavier;) the
word was given, and away they went, the Afghan leading at a tearing
pace, flourishing his legs and whip, and chuckling and hallooing with
delight. J---- saw there was no necessity for collaring him, the
Afghan doing all that could be desired. When within fifty yards of the
winning-post, J----, having waited steadily on his competitor until
the sleek animal was beat, gave the gallant little Arab his head and
the Afghan the go-by, telling him to take his useless fifteen hundred
rupees' worth home, as he had beaten him with the slowest horse in the

The fame of this race must have preceded the army, for I never heard
another instance of an Afghan dealer wishing to match his horse for
speed against any of our chargers. Their own races are generally for
great distances, and the race-course is usually in the main road,
where rocks and sharp stones are not scarce; but the horses are shod
with a plate of steel which covers nearly the whole foot--a mode of
shoeing adopted almost throughout the army. The Caubul ponies were very
powerful and hardy animals, and have been much sought after and prized
in Hindostan.

The Afghans do not appear to possess much attachment to their
sovereign, though the feudal system prevalent would induce a contrary
inference. Their merchandize fetching a favourable price, or the
success of a marauding party, constitute their chief concernment; and
the occupation of the musnud by a Barukzye, or Suddozye, is a matter of
secondary importance to all, save, perhaps, the members of those two
families, provided the people are unmolested in their avocations. In
such a case, the usual practice has been to get rid of the obnoxious
monarch as soon as a convenient conspiracy can be organized, which has
been rarely unsuccessful. An escort, or pass, from a mountain-chief,
will carry the bearer safely through that chief's territory; but he
must beware how he uses it beyond the assigned boundary, where it may
prove worse than useless. Afghanistan is occupied by such a variety of
tribes, each possessing their mountain fastnesses to retreat upon in
case of need--men under no control beyond the temporary influence of
their several leaders and chiefs--that it would certainly be an arduous
undertaking to reduce the country to a complete state of subordination.

Under the different Shahs of Afghanistan, that portion of the people
only who could be attracted and held by interested motives rallied
round their king in times of trouble; and amongst so capricious and
disunited a people, the connecting link with their sovereign has always
been weak, and often broken.

Whilst encamped in the vicinity of Caubul, a party of officers visited
some hills about ten miles distant, under the escort of a petty
mountain-chief, tributary to the Shah; the party were, of course,
hospitably received by himself and the tribe, but his jurisdiction did
not extend far. Pointing out the limits of his domain, he showed a
dark range of hills, barely thirty miles' distant, belonging, as he
said, to two chiefs, from whom Dost Mahomed had been unable to exact
tribute or submission, although their dwellings were almost within
sight of his palace-windows.

Even at this time, the British authority could not be said to extend
beyond the chain of guards encircling our camp; for any soldiers
or camp-followers straying far from the lines at night, and not
unfrequently in the daytime also, stood a good chance of being shot,
or cut down by some band of marauders. This hapless state of affairs
remained unaltered during the whole time of our residence at Caubul.

Having been encamped for a fortnight, eight miles south of Caubul, the
army were ordered to change ground to the north-eastern side, about two
miles from the Bala Hissar, and on the Peshawur Road.

The day before moving, Brigadier Arnold (who had been suffering
severely from illness since the army left Kandahar) died, universally
regretted by the whole army, and especially by the 16th Lancers,
which regiment he commanded, and to whom his loss was irreparable. We
marched, in the evening, to the city; and the Lancers attended the
remains of their colonel to the grave, which was dug at the foot of a
steep, rocky mountain, about a quarter of a mile distant from the Bala
Hissar. The funeral procession was attended by nearly all the officers
of the army; and amongst them were few who had not experienced and
appreciated the merits of that gallant soldier, who was now borne to
the grave, from the effects of a bullet, which had pierced his breast
when charging with the 10th Hussars at Waterloo.[41]

When the loose earth, which hides the tenement of the dead from the
last sad gaze of the living, was cast on his coffin, the sullen roar
of the cannon, which awakened from their reverie the abstracted group
of mourners, and ran, telling their tale of woe, amongst the craggy
precipices of the mountains of Caubul, found an echo of melancholy
which thrilled in the hearts of his bereaved friends. I turned from the
grave with the oppressive feeling of destitution which every soldier
must experience on losing as gallant a colonel as ever drew a sabre,
and as warm-hearted and accomplished a gentleman as even England can

 "Requiescat in pace."

Reports were in daily circulation that Dost Mahomed had crossed the
Hindoo Koosh, and taken up his quarters with his brother-in-law, the
King of Bokhara, who had promised his aid to the fugitive monarch in
regaining the sovereignty, of which he had been deprived. Improbable
as this was,--for had such been the intentions of the King of Bokhara,
he would surely have advanced to the assistance of Dost Mahomed before
his kingdom had been wrested from him,--Dr. Lord, of the political
department, was sent with a military escort to cross the Indian
Caucasus, and convey despatches, as well as gain intelligence, in that
part of the country. The doctor had not reached Bameean, when, from the
exaggerated reports of the inhabitants, he was led to suppose that Dost
Mahomed, with a considerable force, was already between him and the
mountain-pass. Not desiring a personal interview with the deposed Shah,
whose arguments in favour of his own cause were likely to be weighty
and incontrovertible, the political doctor wheeled about, and hastened
to Caubul, where the intelligence induced Sir John Keane to order a
force, under Colonel Sale, to be in readiness to move towards Bameean.

Two days after these orders were issued, news arrived that Dost
Mahomed, so far from crossing the Hindoo Koosh, was hastening in an
opposite direction, with as much speed as the worthy doctor had used in
his return to the capital. The force was consequently countermanded;
and a detachment only, consisting of part of the Shah's goorkhas, and
a few guns, were sent to occupy Bameean, which lies about eighty miles
from Caubul, at the foot of the mountainous barrier, which divides
Afghanistan from Bokhara. The road to this outpost was exceedingly bad;
and even the small force of artillery which accompanied the party,
delayed them nearly a fortnight, in crossing the rugged mountains and
ravines which obstruct the road from Caubul to Bameean.

So much paper has been already wasted on the Russo-phobia, that it
would be superfluous to enter on a discussion of the obstacles which
might oppose a march from the Caspian to the Indian Caucasus, over a
country of which the little that is known has been gleaned from the
scanty details of a few adventurous travellers, stealing in disguise
over these inhospitable regions, and necessarily gleaning but meagre
information. But of the difficulties which would present themselves
to an army, on its arrival at the Hindoo Koosh, I think a very simple
estimate may be formed. The pass over those mountains, on account
of its elevation, and the heavy falls of snow which constantly occur
during the greater part of the year, is only practicable in the summer
months, which would ensure the advantage of knowing at what time to
expect an enemy. The road, by Herat, does not possess this advantage,
being the easiest and most frequented passage into Afghanistan; but
thence to Kandahar, the country possesses all the obstacles which
opposed our progress through Lower Afghanistan, which would seriously
affect a force whose strength and resources must have been materially
weakened during a laborious march from the shores of the Caspian, even
unopposed by an enemy. When arrived in the heart of Afghanistan, the
greatest difficulties would oppose themselves to the maintenance of so
numerous an army as would be requisite for so important an enterprise;
and the palpable truth, that amongst these barren mountains a small
army would be annihilated and a large one starved, must obtrude itself
on the minds of all who are qualified to canvass the dilemma.

But an army which, by an effective commissariat and consummate
fortune, advanced with its efficiency but little impaired, towards
the frontiers of Hindostan, from the centre of Afghanistan, need not
hastily congratulate itself on the charms of ultimate success, for the
passages _out_ of that country present as formidable barriers as the
entrance _into_ it, and these are the true outposts to the defensive
frontier line of our Eastern Empire.

The intricate pass of the Kyber on the one side, and that of the Bolan,
with the neighbouring Gundava, on the other frontier, being the sole
outlets for an effective army,[42] form the natural outworks to the
Indus, taken as a base of operations; and the policy which suggested
the isolated position taken up in Afghanistan, with the far distant and
imperfect lines of the Sutlej and lower Indus, was surely at variance
with the admitted principles of military defence.

In either of the above-named passes, a small British force would
maintain their ground against any odds; for the defiles being in
many places not five yards in width, and flanked by craggy mountains
which rise nearly perpendicularly on each side in many places, the
numbers of the enemy would advantage him nothing, the heights being
in our possession, whilst a strong palisade and battery, thrown across
the road and covered by musketry from the adjacent heights, ought
effectually to check his progress.[43]

That Russia _did_ meditate hostilities in the East may be inferred
from the detection of her envoy's intrigues at the courts of Persia
and Caubul; but the reliance to be placed on the faith and promises
of these agents may be fairly estimated from the observance of the
following article in a treaty between the Shah of Persia and the Ameers
of Kandahar.

  Dated June, 1838.

Art. V. "If an enemy[44] should appear from any quarter, and the
sirdars should not be able to repel him themselves, the Shah of Persia
binds himself to supply the sirdars of Kandahar with troops, artillery,
and money, to whatever extent may be necessary, and not to withhold any
description of assistance or support."

The treaty, from which this article is extracted, was remitted to
England by Dr. M'Neill. It is thus countersigned by Count Simonich,
the Russian agent:

"I, minister plenipotentiary[45] of the government of Russia, will be
guarantee that neither on the part of H.M. &c. &c. &c., the Shah of
Persia, nor on the part of the powerful[46] sirdars shall there arise
any deviation from, or violation of, this entire treaty and their

  (Signed)      "L.S. SIMONICH."

Notwithstanding these promises of vigorous assistance from Persia,
we had not the pleasure of meeting any portion of their armament in
the vicinity of Kandahar, nor, to the best of our knowledge, were any
Russian agents seen enforcing the Shah to perform Article No. V. of
the above-named treaty. Yet an enemy did appear unto the sirdars of
Kandahar, and from a quarter whence he had been many months expected,
and those "powerful" chiefs did not even make the experiment of their
ability to repel him.

Perhaps this article of the Shah's treaty was founded on the chance of
the sirdars making the experiment; but, having adopted a more prudent
course, there can be no doubt that a king, who possesses so many
sublime titles as the Shah of Persia, would not be guilty of a breach
of faith; and therefore the Kandahar chiefs will speedily return from
Persia with artillery, troops, and money, to an unlimited amount; in
fact, sufficient (as the word "necessary," in the article quoted,
must imply) to expel the British from Afghanistan; and, moreover, it
is Count Simonich's duty to see this done. As Russia has disowned
the threats, and the author met a conveniently political death, we
may infer that the project of holding India with a chain of posts,
stretching over mountains and deserts more than the semi-diameter of
the globe in measurement, whilst the troublesome Dardanelles would
materially interfere with all commercial intercourse, when watched by
a British fleet, has been abandoned, and for the present a Russian
invasion of India may be deemed improbable.

Although Afghanistan was now nominally subdued, the animosity and power
of many mountain-tribes was unabated, and a few hours' ride from Caubul
a cold-blooded murder was committed on Colonel Herring, commanding a
regiment of Native Infantry, on the march from Kandahar to join the
army at Caubul. About forty miles from the capital, he strolled from
camp in the evening, accompanied by two brother officers, with two
sepoys in attendance. The party reached the summit of a hill, not
more than a mile from the camp, when they descried a body of armed
mountaineers advancing rapidly towards them. As the intention of the
Afghans was evident, and their numbers considerable, Colonel Herring's
party retired towards camp; but the assassins gained on them; and,
in descending the hill, the Colonel, struck down by a stone or a
matchlock ball, was immediately butchered. One of the sepoys, who was
near Colonel Herring, in trying to defend him, was severely wounded,
and left on the ground for dead. The regimental guard, on the alarm
reaching the camp, hastened to the spot, but the miscreants had fled,
after perpetrating their brutal outrage.

Shortly after the regiment's arrival at head-quarters, Sir John Keane
ordered a part of the 16th Native Infantry, under Major Maclaren,
accompanied by some irregular horse, to scour the neighbourhood, and
endeavour to ferret out the assassins. This object was successfully
attained, and the indefatigable Maclaren, having traced them to a hill
fort, assaulted and carried the place, when the garrison, conscious of
fighting with halters round their necks, made a determined resistance,
and were nearly all exterminated. This example had not the effect of
restraining the bloodthirsty disposition of other bands of marauders;
and the road between our camp and the city continued to be infested
with assassins after nightfall. A dragoon was cut down, a night or two
after, within a few yards of the standard guard, and similar instances
were constantly occurring during our residence in the country. So
expert were they at the practice, that retaliation could seldom be
made. One instance I must relate, of a singular shot made by a soldier
of a Dragoon regiment, who was skirting the hills, a few miles from
camp, in pursuit of snipe and partridge, with a fowling piece loaded
with small shot. He suddenly perceived an Afghan, forty paces from him,
kneeling behind a rock, on which he had rested his matchlock, to make
sure of his aim, and coolly waiting till his intended victim approached
a little nearer. The soldier instantly threw the fowling-piece to his
shoulder, fired, and rolled over his black game stone dead. A few shots
had entered the brain and temples, and told with deadly haste.

As it was now considered improbable that any serious opposition to
Shah Soojah's authority would be attempted, an order was issued,
directing the Bombay column of the army of the Indus to return to their
presidency by the route we had advanced.

On the 15th of September, 1839, our Bombay brethren quitted us, and
proceeded on their homeward route, destroying, on their way, some
petty hill forts, tenanted by refractory tribes. On approaching the
fortress of Khelat, the residence of Mehrab Khan, whose duplicity had
thrown such difficulties in our way by the promise of supplies, which
were never sent, a deputation was forwarded to that chief, demanding
atonement for his behaviour, and intimating, that nothing short of
the most unqualified submission to Shah Soojah's clemency would
avert the fall of his city and destruction of his power. Mehrab Khan
preferred reposing confidence in the temper of his cimeter rather than
in that of his sovereign; and General Willshire advanced upon Khelat
with a brigade of infantry, consisting of her Majesty's 2nd and 17th
regiments, and the 31st Bengal Native Infantry, accompanied by a troop
of horse artillery, and some irregular horse. The remainder of the
column pursued their way towards the mountain-passes.

On approaching the fort, a large party of the enemy, who held
possession of the heights, opened their fire on the head of the British
column. The enemy were soon dislodged from this post by the infantry;
and, rushing from the heights into the city, were so closely pursued
by their assailants, that the gates were shut barely soon enough to
prevent the British from entering also. The troops, when falling back
under cover from the galling fire which was now poured upon them from
the walls of Khelat, lost several men.

Two horse artillery guns came up without delay, and their fire
sufficed, in a few strokes, to crush the unprotected gate sufficiently
to render an assault practicable. General Willshire now ordered the
infantry to advance, which was hailed with the alacrity usual on
similar occasions. With a cheer, they rushed up the ascent, regardless
of the fire from the walls, and soon, beating down all opposition,
took possession of the city. Mehrab Khan, surrounded by many of his
chieftains and the greater part of the garrison, betook himself to
the citadel, but this was incapable of defence; and the prince, with
the greater part of his kinsmen and retinue, fell gallantly defending
themselves at the gateway. Amongst the chief and his sirdars, no
thoughts of surrender were harboured: each fought with a determination
which put all chance of quarter out of the question; but the flashing
cimeters of the Afghans, though wielded with the energy of desperation,
soon drooped before the irresistible stroke of the British bayonet,
which drank deeply that morning of the blood which, according to
Colonel Mitchel, it never had, and never possibly could, shed.

When Mehrab Khan and his sirdars had fallen in the front of the
struggle, the remainder of the garrison surrendered; and thus, under
the prowess of British arms, fell the second important fortress of
Afghanistan, and with a rapidity which, to the Afghans, must have been
bewildering; for the bayonet glittered on the parapets of the citadel
in less than two hours from the time it was levelled to drive the enemy
on the heights under cover of the walls, which they fondly believed

Such examples as had now been shown would, it was supposed, have taught
the Afghans the vanity of resistance; but many revolting lessons
of blood were yet requisite to teach these fierce mountaineers the
necessity of submission, and our resolution of benefiting them, whether
they wished it or not, with the inestimable advantages of civilization.
But this radical reform can never be consummated in our day; nor can I
imagine a more arduous undertaking than such a crusade would be amongst
a nation with whom the "lex fortioris" has been the established code of

The garrison of Khelat amounted to about two thousand men, as near as
an estimate could be formed; but the greater part of these fell during
the storm.[47]

In General Willshire's force, which numbered about twelve hundred
men, the casualties were--one lieutenant and thirty men killed; four
captains, four subalterns, and ninety-seven men wounded; killed, Lieut.
Gravatt, 2nd, or Queen's Regiment.

A great number of the wounded afterwards died before reaching Bombay,
which induced a supposition of the enemies' weapons having been
poisoned; but there seems no foundation for the report. The climate
below the mountain-passes was most probably the poison which carried
off so many gallant fellows.


[Footnote 38: The best cimiters are of steel made in Persia, where they
are so hard and highly polished as to take the keenest edge; but this
makes them necessarily very brittle.]

[Footnote 39: Had the Shah paid less attention to _meretricious_
ornament, and more to its defensive requisites, it would have
contributed much to his credit and safety.]

[Footnote 40: He must have been a stonemason, for it was beautifully

[Footnote 41: Colonel Arnold fell in the same charge, and with the same
squadron, as Howard, the kinsman of Byron, immortalized in "Childe

[Footnote 42: The passes of Dera Ismael Khan, I have neglected to
notice, as, after an active survey, they were reported impracticable
for artillery.]

[Footnote 43: Had Dost Mahomed adopted these measures, it is probable
Sir John Keane would never have obtained nobility.]

[Footnote 44: At this period, there could be little doubt who were
the expected enemy, for Pottinger had proceeded, with a promise of
assistance, to Herat.]

[Footnote 45: Russia denies this big word.]

[Footnote 46: This irony is unbecoming the character of a

[Footnote 47: The names of the chiefs who fell cannot be a matter of
general interest; but those who have any curiosity on the subject, may
find the list in General Willshire's despatch.]



The army of the Indus having effected the object for which they had
been assembled, it was resolved to leave Shah Soojah to the charge
of his loving subjects, supported by the contingent, and a small
portion only of the force. The country being ill-adapted for cavalry,
the news that the brigade, excepting one native regiment, were to be
withdrawn, was received by the greater part with decided satisfaction;
for many began to pine with regret at the protracted absence from their
amiable halves; others were anxious to bind themselves in rosy (or
thorny?) fetters; and, last and least, a few, after a long and painful
estrangement, sighed deeply to participate once more in the pleasures
of that deity, whose benign influence has been said to surpass "all
that life can supply"--riches, love, ambition, friendship--

                  "For what tongue will avow
  That friends, rosy wine, are so faithful as thou?"

So wrote the virtuous and inconsistent Byron; and I have no doubt that
a few habitual drunkards may concur in such an opinion.

The sole recommendation to Caubul was the temperate climate, which
served to invigorate many who had severely felt the fatigues and
exposure of this campaign, or who still suffered from the effects of
their Indian enemy. To those who took pleasure in an active life and
field-sports, our present quarters were irksome. The country possessed
no attractions for the sportsman; and even in the pursuit of small game
at any distance from camp, it was necessary to go prepared for more
serious encounters; inasmuch as any straggler from the party stood an
uncommonly good chance of being bagged by some Afghan huntsmen, whose
sporting propensities led them to pursue white game with quite as much
zest as ever, though, from the royal proclamation, it might be inferred
that the season had closed.

Not satisfied with simply destroying their prey, these wild beasts
mutilated the dead bodies, and arranged them in fanciful attitudes.
Occasionally, a leg would be cut off, and placed under the head, for
a pillow; the head itself would sometimes be found supported by the
hands, in lieu of the neck; and I have seen things in a man's mouth
which were never intended by nature to occupy such a situation.

To the antiquarian, Afghanistan presented some interest and employment
in the collection of coins and antiques: many of the former were bought
from the Afghans, bearing the names of the ancient Bactrian dynasty,
and successors of Alexander the Great. The Afghans had, however,
imbibed so great a taste for these antiquities, when they discovered
the value we set upon them, that the manufacture and sale of the most
ancient Bactrian coins is becoming a trade of some profit. Even at this
day, both the Sikhs and Afghans converse with great interest on the
feeble tradition they possess of events which occurred in the days of
Shah Sikunder (Alexander the Great) and his generals, who subsequently
governed this country. Alexander's Eastern expedition, the countries
which he traversed, the localities of his engagements, and the modern
names of the nations with whom he fought, have been much veiled in
obscurity, owing to the very slender knowledge possessed by Europeans
of the countries lying between Persia and Chinese Tartary.

The numerous ancient coins and reliques, monuments of Grecian design,
the tradition of the natives, and the names borne by many ancient
cities of Afghanistan and the Punjaub, (some of which, at the present
day, assimilate much to those recorded by historians,) being matters
of recent discovery, will tend to assist the classic labourer in such
an investigation with materials which have hitherto been wanting or
imperfect. As several officers who were with the army have succeeded in
making extensive collections of ancient coins, I trust that, ere long,
these may tend to throw some light on the interesting subject. The
evidence of Alexander's advance into Hindostan, south of the Sutlej,
is very vague, especially as the princes of India made no attempt to
oppose his approach towards their frontier, as the more warlike nations
of Afghanistan and the Punjaub undoubtedly did; and Porus, with his
herds of elephants, marks pretty accurately the neighbourhood of the
Hydaspes in the modern Jelum, because the country north of Peshawur
is unfitted to nurture elephants. South of the Jelum or Hydaspes,
I conceive the difficulty of tracing his route to be much greater,
for the rivers are so numerous in the rainy season, and have changed
their courses so materially, that the modern streams must differ
considerably, both in number and position, from the ancient.

The accounts from the north of the Hindoo Koosh, about the beginning of
October, showed the probability of a storm arising, ere long, in that
quarter, directed by the hand of Dost Mahomed; and, in consequence, Sir
John Keane ordered the whole of the Bengal infantry division to stand
fast, for the present, in Afghanistan, for the security of Shah Soojah,
who daily prophesied that our departure would be his death warrant.

The commander-in-chief himself, having resolved on returning to
England, now signified in general orders, that on his departure the
supreme command would devolve on Sir Willoughby Cotton.

The cavalry-brigade, (except the 2nd Native Cavalry, which was left
in Afghanistan,) with a detachment of the European Regiment, and a
few Sappers, formed the whole of the returning party escorting his

I little thought, at the time of quitting Bengal, that any fit of
desperation could ever induce me to look forward with anything like
pleasure to a residence in Hindostan; yet an experience of a few
months' sojourn in the inhospitable and dreary wastes of Afghanistan
proved that there were worse places on the face of this chequered globe
than India.

Our retrospect, since leaving Merut, was not a very attractive one.
Nearly a year had now been spent under canvas, or, more frequently,
under the canopy of heaven, with a fierce sun scorching us unmercifully
by day, and occasionally a damp chill to vary it by night. During the
year, we had risen nearly every day about two or three hours before
daybreak, and undergone the monotonous and wearisome marches, which
resembled at last, in many respects, the morning's employment of a
malefactor at the treadmill; and, to crown all, we had arrived at
last in a country of rocks, savages, and starvation, where our chief
occupation consisted in hunting continually for an enemy, who took care
to deny us the excitement anticipated in the discovery. Such having
been, with trifling exceptions, the result of our campaign, every
source of employment, beyond that above mentioned, was confined to
the narrow limits of a little canvas world, peopled almost entirely
by the grosser sex of black and white; for the small portion of the
opposite sex and former colour who sojourned amongst us, were scarcely
attractive enough to remind one of the generic distinction which
existed. To these hardships, and others in addition, we would more
cheerfully have submitted, had an enemy kept us on the alert, and
played, on an extensive board, the rough game of war; but the only
enemies we had met were scarcely deserving such a name--ensconcing
themselves behind mud walls, or perched on inaccessible heights--and as
there appeared now little chance of tilting with the Afghan clans in
the open field, it was with feelings of pleasure we looked forward to
an emancipation from the barren mountains of Afghanistan.

The Punjaub was, at this period, in so distracted a state, that the
government of the country betrayed a marked anxiety that we should not
become witnesses of their anarchy and disunion. Even in the days of
Runjeet Singh, the Sikhs beheld with feelings of uneasiness the advance
and establishment of the British outposts on the Sutlej; and the
passage of troops through their country caused even greater jealousy
and alarm, for they considered, not perhaps without some foundation,
from a few precedents in the East, that when the English had once got a
footing, they might take a fancy to remain there.

In the present crisis of affairs, it was apprehended that these Sikh
scruples would act as a temporary obstacle to our departure; but,
fortunately for us, the court of Lahore yielded a reluctant assent to
our passing through their country, and on the morning of the 15th of
Oct. we quitted Caubul.

The breaking up of a long-standing camp is a scene of no trifling
bustle and confusion. The previous day is usually one of considerable
trouble to those who have suffered their marching-establishment to get
out of order; and when it is requisite to replace a camel or a bullock,
the new comer, even if found, (and that is generally at a ruinous
price,) not unfrequently evinces the most marked repugnance to tents
or bullock-trunks. Yet, however great the difficulty, the peremptory
necessity of the habitation being moved before next morning, causes all
to be prepared at sunset, either by a reduction of baggage, or increase
of cattle, save the more provident campaigners, who rectify such
deficiencies without delay. The earliest practicable hours are kept by
all off duty, and two hours after sunset the camp (if well regulated)
is quiet enough, unless a horse breaks loose and sets the whole brigade
in a state of ferment; for all seem to take a deep interest in the
progress of any mad animal who tears through the camp, with ropes and
pegs flying in wild confusion about his heels. As night advances,
even these stray madcaps betake themselves to rest, and the quiet is
only disturbed by the hourly tramp of patrols, or the challenge of a
sentry. This gloom and stillness are suddenly dissipated by the shrill
startling blast of the trumpet, wakening all around to consciousness
and activity. The loud and continued neigh from the pickets, and the
angry remonstrances of the camels, amidst the extensive buzz of human
voices and barking of dogs, tell that man and brute are both aware of
the time having come for their allotted duties. Sticks and dry grass
raked into pyramids are sending forth volumes of smoke in one place,
and in another are rising into high crackling fires, round which may
be seen groups of dusky figures squatted together, inhaling their
morning hookahs, or spreading their long bony hands to the flames, and
listlessly regarding their more assiduous brethren occupied in striking
the tents, or fitting loads on the backs of the beasts of burden. But
think not, my lazy fire-worshipper, this indolence is unobserved; the
eye of the occupant of yonder tent is upon you: he advances softly
towards the fire, his arm is raised, and the descending lâttie causes a
momentary scene of flight and confusion which is immediately succeeded
by a zealous attention to duty, proving the salutary force of the
"Argumentum ad baculum." Although this is not an orthodox, logical, or
even legal argument, it is, nevertheless, frequently used in India,
and is generally conclusive. Next morning, the voice, unaccompanied by
manual exercise, will produce the desired effect.

The loads being packed, and all the tents, save three or four lazy
stragglers, having disappeared, the second trumpet sends its shrill
echoes through the lines, and gives warning that the treadmill will
soon be at work. Beware of that camel's mouth gaping close to your hand
in the dark, or he will spoil it for holding a rein or a sabre; and
beware the treacherous tent-peg, which lurks in savage gloom for the
shins of the unwary. "It is no use cursing the peg. Why did you not get
out of its way when you found it was not inclined to get out of yours?"
cries a facetious neighbour, as you stoop to rub the lacerated shin,
and narrowly escape being trampled by an elephant, who is hustling off
with a few hundred weight of canvas and tent-poles hanging about him.

The third trumpet and a cup of _boiling_ coffee generally accompany
each other, if your khansanah belong to the right Dean Swift's breed;
and it is no punishment to insist on his drinking it himself--the man
would swallow a cup of cayenne and fire, without winking.

The troops are formed in dusky masses on their alarm-posts; the
commanding-officer rides along the line; the word of command is given,
and passed down the squadrons; the welcome note for the march is heard,
and the tramping of the steeds raises an impenetrable cloud of dust
around the column, as we cheerfully turn our backs on Caubul, most
probably for ever; the band prophetically striking up, "Ha til mi
tulidh," or something which I mistook for it.

Sir John Keane marched with the head column, consisting of the 16th
Lancers, one troop of Horse Artillery, and four companies of Native
Infantry. General Thackwell followed, the next day, with the 3rd Native
Cavalry, detachments of Infantry, and the state prisoners, Hyder Khan,
late governor of Ghuzni, and Hadji Khan Kaukur. The former was destined
for Bombay, the latter, for Bengal, where it was intended to place him
in close confinement at Chunar, on the Ganges; but this was afterwards
commuted for a more salutary and agreeable durance at Landour, where
Hadji Khan had little cause to complain of the severity of his captors.

The 2nd Bengal Cavalry, which were left at Caubul, soon afterwards had
an opportunity of distinguishing themselves at Purwan Durrah, in an
encounter with Dost Mahomed. The Ameer having been nearly surrounded
by his enemies, and entertaining a low opinion of the courage of the
Native Cavalry, resolved to dash through the circle at the post held
by the above-named corps, and accompanied by a determined body of his
adherents, he charged two squadrons of the 2nd Cavalry.

The officers of the regiment having tried unsuccessfully to induce
their men to follow, formed a line, and gallantly charged the Afghan
force. Three of the regiment were killed, and most of the remainder
severely wounded; but such was the moral effect of this behaviour,
that Dost Mahomed exclaimed, "that war against such a nation must be

The dastardly black fugitives who had been spectators, during their
flight, of the self-devotion and butchery of their officers, spread
themselves in the wildest disorder and affright, but the avenging
cimeters of the Afghans soon flashed amongst them, and dealt a partial
retribution for their detestable cowardice.

The number of this regiment was afterwards erased from the list of the
Company's troops, and the corps was disbanded at Kurnaul, with the
exception of one squadron, which, not having been present at Purwan
Durrah, was distributed throughout the remaining regiments of Native
Cavalry. The officers were provided with various situations in the
Company's service, and subsequently incorporated in a new cavalry
regiment, (the 11th.)

Some attempts to palliate the conduct of the 2nd Cavalry, on this
occasion, have been attempted; and I have heard it adduced in
extenuation, that the men (save the mark!) had no confidence in their
arms and equipments or their _horses' bits_--that they reverenced Dost
Mahomed and the Afghans as the heads of their religion[48]--and that
British cavalry have also been known to be backward.

Regarding the first of these assertions, we need but ask--Is not the
Native Cavalry soldier as carefully instructed in the use of his weapon
as the English Dragoon? If he be, there is no reason for his running
away. If he be not, I cannot admit that a brave man is likely to run
away with a piece of English steel in his hands, because he thinks he
is not sufficiently instructed in the use of the sabre, or because he
prefers Hindustanee manufacture.

In answer to the second apology, it is only requisite to state, that if
they did respect the Afghans as brother Mussulmans, experience should
long before have taught them that the feeling was by no means mutual.
The irregular horse were affected with no such compunctions, but
evinced a laudable desire to destroy their enemies, when called upon to
do so, on several occasions, in Afghanistan.

To the third charge, I must plead guilty of ignorance; for I cannot
remember having heard or read of any British cavalry regiment
absconding in the face of an enemy, and leaving their officers to
charge, unaided by a single trooper of the corps.[49]

On quitting our camp at Caubul, we marched over a rough and stony
road for about ten miles, and encamped on some high grounds. In the
afternoon, we experienced a smart shock of an earthquake here, which
appeared to come rumbling towards us from the mountains of the Hindoo
Koosh, and upset nearly everything in our tents. From the elevated
ground on which we were encamped, we had a farewell view of Caubul and
the noble chain of the Indian Caucasus, still clad in bright snowy

The next morning, we entered a steep, rocky[50] pass, between two
ranges of mountains, where the cold before sunrise was intense, and
the aspect certainly the most dreary we had hitherto experienced. We
emerged, half frozen, from this stony sepulchre, and gladly thawed
ourselves in the sun, which shone dimly on the platform of rock where
our camp was pitched.

Each day, as we advanced, the roads (if they can be deemed worthy such
a title) became decidedly worse. Our third day's march lay through
another narrow defile, across which dashed several rapid mountain
torrents at intervals of about a mile from each other. The next day's
occupation was a steep, rocky ascent, and an equally sudden fall,
which caused a corresponding one with our unfortunate beasts of burden.

A succession of deep, stony ravines, and occasionally sharp-pointed
rocks, presented the next variety.

On the 7th of March, we wound up a long gradual ascent of some twelve
or fourteen miles, and on descending from this elevation two guns were
discovered not far off the road, embedded in the sand. These had been
abandoned here by Dost Mahomed's son, (Mahomed Akbar,) when retreating
from the gorge of the Khyber to join his father previous to their
flight from Urghundee.

On the eighth march from Caubul, we descended into the celebrated
valley of Neemla, where Shah Soojah had been finally defeated in 1809,
and expelled from his kingdom. It is a small, well-cultivated valley,
surrounded by barren, craggy mountains, (as is the case, indeed,
with almost every valley in the country.) If the numbers present at
this battle are correctly stated, it must have been a business of
tolerably close quarters, and little scope could have been afforded
for manoeuvring: but the Afghans are not much addicted to wasting time
in military operations. A favourite mode of attack is the chupao, or
surprise by night, (which was practised at Neemla,) and if the enemy
be found prepared, or the first charge prove unsuccessful, they prefer
reserving their energies for a more favourable opportunity, to pressing
the matter any further under such critical circumstances as a spirited
resistance might entail. The party making the night attack certainly
act under the more favourable circumstances of the two, as in case of
failure a retreat is open under cover of the darkness, and unmolested;
whereas, the party attacked once getting into disorder, can scarcely
hope to rally under such disadvantageous circumstances. Thus it was
at the battle, or, rather, the route of Neemla, where Shah Soojah was
encamped, with a force exceeding fifteen thousand men, whilst his
adversary, with barely two thousand fighting men, coming down suddenly
during the night, took the Shah so completely by surprise, that he
forthwith devoted all his attention to preserve his own royal person,
leaving his army to do all the fighting part without any general. Of
course they soon got into hopeless confusion, and followed the example
of their prudent master before the chiefs were able to marshal their
numerous forces. Such are the chances and vicissitudes of war. Want of
timely information, a picket ill posted, or a vidette falling asleep,
may cause the loss of an army and an empire.

The tenth march from Caubul brought us to the green and lively-looking
valley which contains Jellalabad, and the march between this and
Caubul, which we had now happily overcome, was unanimously allowed
to be the worst we had experienced. Our camels had certainly great
cause to complain, and they neglected not to do so; but man and beast
endured much on this march--the former a pecuniary, the latter a bodily
suffering--let naturalists decide which endured the heavier affliction.

Jellalabad[51] is an insignificant place of itself, though situated in
a fertile valley, through which rolls the clear Caubul river, washing
the foundations of the city walls, and they certainly required no
impotent scavenger. It has been selected as a residence by the kings
of Caubul for the winter season, owing to the mildness of the climate,
from its depressed situation, (about two thousand feet above the sea;)
and this recommendation induced the commander-in-chief to select it
as winter quarters for the greater portion of the army remaining in
Caubul during the ensuing cold season.

According to the prevalent opinion, Jellalabad lays claim to
considerable antiquity, as it has been supposed to represent the
site of ancient Nysa. Numerous copper coins, as well as some curious
antiques, have been from time to time collected in the vicinity of this
place by the natives. Unfortunately, nearly all the gold and silver
coins and reliques have been melted down, as the natives themselves
admitted, and converted into bangles, nose-and-ear rings, or other
ornaments, for the dusky beauties of Jellalabad. Several copper
coins, bearing the name of Hermæus, king of Nysa, distinctly legible,
were bought amongst the country people. The inscription was in Greek
letters, and as follows:


Those of the Bactrian monarchs found in different parts of the country
are also in Greek; and the figures and hieroglyphics on the coins
have been converted, by erudite conjectures, into an endless variety
of meanings. Heaven, earth, and sea have been ransacked to discover
the symbolical allusions on a piece of grangrened copper; and the
half-effaced toes of a Bactrian savage were successively mistaken
for the signs of the Zodiac, the trident of Neptune, and a Barbarian
coronet.[52] By dint of much cleansing, the toes became apparent, then
appeared the legs; and over them, the body and intellectual countenance
of the tiresome Hermæus shone conspicuous, with a well-flattened nose,
and a pair of monstrous eyes, one of which seemed to leer with a
knowing expression of cunning on his indefatigable polishers.

Near Jellalabad, we found encamped some of Runjeet's Mussulman troops,
which had accompanied Colonel Wade through the Khyber Pass, about three
months previously, when that distinguished officer advanced upon Ali
Musjid, and opened his batteries on that remarkable fortress. The siege
was conducted with such vigour, and so severe was the effect of the
cannonade, that the loss on the part of the besieged must have been
very serious, although the exact number of the sufferers could not be
ascertained. Colonel Wade's losses, in killed and wounded, during the
investment, amounted to something less than two hundred, which was
about the strength of half the garrison.

In the course of the first night after the investment of Ali Musjid,
intelligence reached the garrison of the fall of Ghuzni, and of
the return of Mahomed Akbar with his forces from the mouth of the
Khyber towards Caubul. This news, it is supposed, coupled with the
_incalculable_ losses of the previous day, induced the Khyberees to
evacuate Ali Musjid during the night. Next day, the fortress was
joyfully taken possession of by Col. Wade; and that celebrated despatch
was penned which informed Lord Auckland and the people of India that,
in consequence of "The capture of Ali Musjid, and the successful
advance of the British forces into Afghanistan, there remained no doubt
of the speedy dethronement of Dost Mahomed, and the favourable issue of
the Afghan campaign."

Having quitted Jellalabad, we proceeded along the banks of the Caubul
river, which is here skirted for some distance by a stony plain,
over which the deadly simoom is said to be an occasional traveller
during the hot season. Five marches from Jellalabad brought us to the
gorge of the formidable Khyber Pass, the position occupied by Mahomed
Akbar at the opening of the campaign. The mountains through which
this defile runs are inhabited by the Khyberees, a tribe who have
from time immemorial exacted tribute of all passengers through their
gloomy mountains, and Dost Mahomed himself considered it politic to
pay them annually a large sum to keep open the pass for traffic, as
well as to secure so formidable a barrier against any sudden freak of
his hereditary enemies in the Punjaub. These troublesome mountaineers
also succeeded in exacting contributions from the inhabitants of the
Peshawur district, in payment for a stream of water which issued from
the Khyber mountains, and supplied the frontier position of the Sikhs
at Futtehghur.

Colonel Wade, in his passage through this defile, endeavoured to treat
with the chiefs of the Khyberees; and even bribed some of them, by a
considerable bonus, to ensure a free passage; but, subsequently, so
many presented themselves to demand bribes, that the negotiation bade
fair to become expensive, and it was evident that this hydra was more
amenable to steel than gold.

Many of the chiefs had expected payment, for the use of their
productive mountains, on the return of the army through the Khyber
pass, but part of Colonel Wade's force had returned, and no bribes for
the chieftains had accompanied them. The Khyberees, therefore, were
much exasperated at the prospect of a failure of revenue; and, fearing
that if once the precedent of passing freely through their mountains
were established by the British, their black mail might henceforth be
reduced to a cipher, they vowed vengeance on the first intruders, and
had now an opportunity of trying the experiment.

The entrance of the Khyber much resembles that of the Bolan pass,
except that the footing was the same as on a beach of shingles in the
former, and in the latter a platform of rock. On our flanks rose abrupt
rocks, during the first day's march, untenanted by animal or vegetable;
barrenness held undisputed rule.

On the second day, we ascended a steep mountain by a path resembling
those cut on the Missourie and Landour range, and, descending by a
similar road of about ten feet in breadth and occasionally less,
entered a valley of some extent, sprinkled with several little villages
and some melancholy grainfields. Traversing this valley, we entered a
narrow, rocky defile, and following the course of a mountain torrent by
its narrow passage through the beetling rocks, arrived, unmolested by
the Khyberees, at Ali Musjid, after a march of about fifteen miles.

This fort, which stands on a steep hill about three hundred yards
from the gorge of the stony defile above mentioned, had been occupied,
since Colonel Wade's departure, by an officer of Native Infantry with
a levy of Mooltanee recruits and a few sepoys. During the summer, the
place had been found so extremely unhealthy that a great portion of
the garrison died, and most of those who escaped were left in a very
weak state. Inside the fort itself there is no water, and this useful
article was brought by the garrison from a water-course and well,
about three hundred yards distant from the walls. As there were no
cannon in this formidable place, the possession of the water-course
became very precarious in case of the enemy attempting to cut off
the communication. The Khyberees, well aware of these disadvantages,
came down, latterly, nearly every night to attack the place; but
were gallantly repulsed by the little garrison as often as they
came, and frequently with considerable loss. Five days before our
arrival, a regiment of Sikhs, from Peshawur, amounting to nearly eight
hundred, although many were in a sickly state, had occupied a small
stockade,[53] on an eminence, about one mile distant from Ali Musjid,
for the garrison of which place they had brought supplies.

During the night, this regiment was suddenly attacked by a force of
about two thousand Khyberees. The Sikhs defended themselves within
their stockade for above an hour, when their ammunition being spent,
and the enemy still pressing hard upon them, they quitted their
entrenchments in the hopes of effecting a retreat upon Ali Musjid. No
sooner had the unhappy men evacuated their stronghold than they were
surrounded by their merciless foes, and nearly the whole regiment was
destroyed. Not twenty men, it was believed, escaped to bear these
disastrous tidings to Peshawur. The little garrison in Ali Musjid had
been effectually prevented from attempting a diversion in favour of
their unfortunate allies, by a force of Khyberees, which were stationed
so as to intercept the communication between the fort and the stockade.
Had any part of the garrison, under such circumstances, quitted Ali
Musjid, they must inevitably have been overwhelmed by the Khyberees,
and in the darkness of night would, in all probability, have shared the
fate of the Sikhs; but no doubt was entertained in Ali Musjid that the
stockade would make good its defence.

We arrived late in the afternoon, and encamped by this field of
recent slaughter, which presented a dreary spectacle; the effluvia
arising from the half buried bodies and limbs of the Sikhs was almost
poisonous, though it seemed to give no inconvenience or nausea to the
Pariah dogs and vultures who were enjoying the ample repast provided
for them by and upon the lords of the creation.

An attack on our camp being anticipated at this place, orders were
issued, prohibiting both officers and men from quitting the lines, and
a chain of sentries were posted, in the evening, on the summit of the
lower range of hills which encircled our camp.

None of my baggage having made its appearance at nightfall, I fully
made up my mind to the loss of such part of the wreck as remained,
and seated myself, for the night, on a rock, where, having loaded
my pistols in anticipation of the Khyberees' visit, I awaited that
important event.

It was a bright starlight night. All in camp were hushed in sleep, save
the guardians of the lines, who testified their vigilance by striking
the hours on a lugubrious sounding gong, or by the ringing of their
arms as the patrols or reliefs traversed the encampment.

As I sat in contemplation of the still scene around me, the solemn
thought occurred that in a very few hours, this deathlike stillness
might be locked in that sleep to be disturbed only by the sound of
the last trumpet. That band of eight hundred Sikhs, which lay here but
five nights past, slept on, in all probability, (until aroused by the
war notes of the Khyberees,) with the same careless security that my
fellow-soldiers were now enjoying, and they awoke to be slain, in one
short hour--

                                  "A thing
  O'er which the raven flaps her fun'ral wing."

It is a strange sensation that interview which we are constrained to
hold with death; yet, with all the imaginary terrors in which he is
clad, the brave man readily meets him face to face. That those only
who are, morally speaking, prepared to die, fear not death, is too
wild a theory to be maintained: for many of us have seen the hardened
malefactor advance, with unfaltering step and fearless aspect, to the
scaffold, while in the ranks of the timid have been numbered some of
the best of mankind.

And my fellow-countrymen here, who have, at least, been educated in
the constant hearing of the word of God--are they more fitted to die
than those miserable heathens were, whose carcases are now tainting
the atmosphere? Let those who are more competent to judge of such
matters decide. We, who, according to the declaration of our divines
and the boast of government, are sent out to retain possession of this
vast country, and to exhibit to the benighted natives the benefits and
example of Christianity, have performed the latter part of our ministry
in a singular manner, unless it is to be effected by daily instances
of blasphemy, drunkenness, and debauchery, that the natives of India
are enabled to witness. And yet they have been inapt scholars, for
we have failed signally in propagating amongst them the two former
accomplishments, and I question much if they have excelled us in the
latter. And yet let it not be imputed to us that we are the only, or
the greatest, transgressors. Let the traveller who has wandered through
the bazaars of Cairo, Bombay, Caubul, Delhi, or Canton, and marked
the character and occupation of the Mussulman, Gheber, and idolator,
compare them with the gin palaces, cafés, bull fights, and gardens or
thoroughfares of London, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, and Naples, and exult
(if candour will admit) in the moral advantages of civilized Europe. I
ask him not to visit the palaces of the aristocracy, or the church and
chapel; in the former he will gain no knowledge, and in the latter,
perhaps, too much; for, of all sciences, theology has become the most
abstruse; and he who can recognise the immaculate precepts of Jesus of
Nazareth, amidst the fiery and relentless hostilities of modern sects,
must be an unhappy man. For my own part, the nice distinctions of party
in the early history of the church, the difficulty of deciding between
the mighty and learned differences of the Christian fathers, and the
inability to distinguish between the Homoosion and the Homouosion
quite disheartened me, at the outset, in the study of divinity; and
in modern days the fiery animosities of catholic and protestant,
transubstantiation, predestination, the gown and surplice riot, and
pulpit mendicity, drove me from the church portals to take refuge in
the book.

But, after this peregrination of the globe, to return to India: is
it by the example of the better-educated classes, and the stern and
impartial dealing of justice, that the natives of the East are to form
an estimate of our superior wisdom and excellence? If so, let them
look to some in the high places of this land, and be staggered at the
display of erudition, wisdom, and righteousness; and let them judge
of our notions of rigorous justice from the policy which dictated the
expedition from which we are now returning. Have we not marched into
the kingdom of Caubul, and without any pretext or right, save the
"lex fortioris," wrested the sceptre from the hands of one monarch,
the favourite of his subjects, as far as any Afghan could be so, to
transfer it to those of another, (and one avowedly of a tyrannous
and execrable disposition,) after shedding the blood of those who
stepped forward in defence of him whom they probably conceived to be
their rightful sovereign? It can hardly be assumed that the desire of
establishing legitimate rights led us romantically forth on the Caubul
expedition; for the government of India held friendly intercourse with
Dost Mahomed for many years, without questioning his sovereign rights,
and only discovered how ill-used a man Shah Soojah had been, when Dost
Mahomed showed a disinclination to enter into hostilities with those
who were deemed to be averse to British influence.

I had just come to the above conclusion, when a tramping behind aroused
me from my reverie; and starting up, I was agreeably surprised to find
that all my camels and servants had walked safely into camp. I rolled
myself in a cloak, and making a comfortable resting-place of the folds
of canvas composing the fly of the tent, soon became insensible alike
to the immoralities of mankind and the intentions of the Khyberees.

The morning sun, when I awoke, had burst brilliantly forth, even upon
the desolate and gloomy mountains of the Khyber, trying, but in vain,
to bid them look cheerful; and the night, contrary to all expectations,
had passed without an alarm. In the afternoon, the second column, under
General Thackwell, arrived at Ali Musjid; and orders were issued for
our march out of the Khyber Pass the following morning. In consequence
of the reports which had reached camp of the intention of the Khyberees
to attack us, the two companies of sappers and miners formed our
advanced guard, and the cavalry were disposed in single files on the
flanks of the baggage, with a rallying-party from each squadron in
rear, as a point of formation in case of a descent from the mountains.

We marched, at daybreak, along the rugged course of a torrent, which
had now degenerated to a shallow, trickling stream. High, barren
mountains beetled above and almost over our track; and frequently
their bases approached so near to one another, that six could scarcely
ride abreast. At every step, we expected to see our enemies make
their appearance on the heights, from whence they might almost with
impunity have done us any injury which their long rifles, or juzzails,
were capable of inflicting; but, singularly enough, not an enemy was
to be seen, and we passed unmolested through the rugged defile. At
about six miles from the outlet, we encountered a large body of Sikh
troops occupying the road, whilst detachments were posted above them
on the heights. These belonged to the army of the frontier, stationed
at Peshawur. With their national modesty, they failed not to inform
us that they were our deliverers from the hands of the Khyberees;
and loudly proclaimed, that without their co-operation, we never
should have escaped from the jaws of the Khyber Pass. Nevertheless,
these heroes had taken the precaution of not advancing into the most
arduous part of the defile; and previously to the British advance into
Afghanistan, they had not been much acquainted with the geography of
these mountains.

Towards the exit of the Pass, the mountains, though loftier and nearly
as abrupt, recede considerably from one another. On emerging from
them, we entered an extensive plain, and encamped near the fort of
Futtehghur, which was lately built by Runjeet Singh as a frontier
position. Near its walls, a long line of dusky tents marked the
station of the Peshawur forces. Our lines were soon overrun by swarms
of inquisitive Sikh warriors, mounted on lean, weedy horses, and
carrying lances and beards of nearly equal length.

We marched early the following morning. The ground we quitted was soon
occupied by the rear column, which also passed unobstructed through the
defile with the state-prisoners.

The Sikhs raised a yell of execration and abuse at the sight of
Hadji Khan; but he, turning in his saddle with a smile of contempt,

"Yelp on, ye dastardly curs--it was not _your_ prowess which made me a
captive! Many a time, at the head of a few brave Afghan followers, have
I made ye sing a different song; and, with Allah's help, I trust I may
live to do so again!"

On the morning of the 7th of November, we crossed the rich valley of
Peshawur, and approached the city, having bidden adieu to the rocks and
deserts of Afghanistan without a single regret, and with the fervent
hope of never revisiting the realms of our ally, Shah Soojah.


[Footnote 48: Most of the Company's cavalry regiments are composed of

[Footnote 49: A few days after this skirmish, Dost Mahomed surrendered
himself to the envoy, and was sent a prisoner to Hindostan.]

[Footnote 50: This was the pass of Khoord Caubul, afterwards memorable
in General Elphinstone's final retreat from Caubul.]

[Footnote 51: The well-known site of Sir Robert Sale's gallant defence.]

[Footnote 52: The coin which caused so much trouble and conjecture is
now in my possession.]

[Footnote 53: The stockades are made of loose stones and beams.]



The approaches to the city from the north-east are commanded by a large
fort, recently completed by the assistance of some French officers, and
under the eye of General Avitabilè.

The fort is surrounded by a dry ditch, and constructed on modern
principles of fortification, but placed in such convenient proximity
to the city, as to obviate the necessity of opening trenches and
labouring at parallels in case of a siege. Passing immediately under
this stronghold, we wound along the outside of the low mud-walls which
surround Peshawur, and encamped on its Eastern front. The city seemed
of enormous extent, and contained, as we were told, more than twelve
thousand houses within its walls; but certainly the greater part of
them were better adapted for pigsties than dwelling-houses.

The government of this district was in the hands of General Avitabilè,
an Italian officer, who had served for a long time under Runjeet Singh,
and had been raised by him to distinction and wealth. His government,
although severe, was generally allowed to have kept the savage
neighbours of the adjacent mountains in more terror and subjection
than any former governor was enabled to attain. According to Runjeet's
code, no capital punishment was inflicted on the Sikhs by law; but this
was in no way applicable to the marauders dwelling in the hills which
border Peshawur, on whom, as well as over the Mussulman population
of Peshawur, the governor occasionally endeavoured to make up for
Runjeet's misplaced leniency. Numerous examples of punishment were
presented to our view near the city walls on the high palm-trees, to
which were appended strings of such acorns as Trois Echelles and Petit
Andrè loved to adorn the oaks of Plessis les Tours with in the days
of Louis Onze. On every side of the city, were seen well-furnished
gibbets, or frail and wasted relics of humanity, strung upon beams,
nailed between the blighted palms. Those who had recently been promoted
to their exalted situations were favourites with the kites and
vultures, whose discordant screams of health and prosperity to Governor
Avitabilè, whilst circling round their hideous repast, were gloomily
answered by the rattling and clatter of some well-picked skeletons, as
they swung to and fro in the evening blast. Disgusting as these objects
seemed, we must nevertheless, according to the opinion and quotation of
an American traveller, hail them as testimonies of civilization. If an
appeal to the worst passions of mankind be a test of civilization, Mr.
Willis is in the right; but I confess I have felt much more gratified
in seeing a rude and uneducated Hindoo turn with loathing from the
execution of a criminal about to be blown from a cannon than I have at
the exhibition of thousands of my countrymen struggling for places,
and paying high prices for seats, to witness the protracted, dying
struggles of a malefactor and fellow-sinner.

In Afghanistan, no sooner is the light applied to the touchhole of
the cannon,[54] than the limbs of the victims are distributed to the
winds of heaven; but in England, in Christian England, where societies
for preventing cruelty to animals have been established, and rewards
offered for the speediest method of ending the sufferings of beasts,
the agonies and struggles of a fellow-creature, whilst undergoing a
death, (which, according to the letter of the law, is not expected to
be instantaneous,[55]) are deemed a fit subject for the entertainment
of the multitude; for it is notorious that Englishmen prefer attending
an execution to any other resort of public amusement. Yet this
disgusting spectacle, this barbarous relic of despotic authority, is
to be exhibited and justified solely on the plea of example. I cannot
bring myself to believe that one solitary mortal was ever deterred
from committing a murder by the fact of his having witnessed a public
execution; whereas the very notoriety has been known to excite men to
earn the vile publicity.

At Peshawur, the systematic method of suspension _by the neck_ was not
universally adopted, for the fancy of the executioner was occasionally
shown by a varied figure of victims suspended alternately by the head
and heels. At Peshawur, also, has been revived the nearly obsolete, but
classical, punishment of skinning alive. The executioner begins this
operation by raising the skin on the soles of the feet, which is then
torn in strips upwards, and the wretched creature is left vainly to
wish for the relief which death sometimes does not afford within two
hours of the infliction.

Cutting off the arms and legs, and steeping the stumps in hot oil,
putting out the eyes, or docking the ears of the culprits, are the
milder corrections for minor delinquencies.

I shall not attempt to deny that the daring atrocities which have been
perpetrated require to be restrained with a strong hand, and punished
with death, but the protraction of suffering cannot, I think, be
exculpated. If life must be taken, let it be done without parade or
procession, and, above all, let it be instantaneous.

On the evening of our arrival, the governor entertained the officers of
the first column with a banquet and fête, at his palace in Peshawur.
The edifice and gardens glittered with brilliant illuminations, and a
splendid display of fireworks was the prelude to the banquet. The table
groaned under a weight of food which far surpassed in quantity any
accumulation of the kind of which I have partaken; but, alas, I must
confess my utter ignorance of the vocabulary of the cuisine; and though
I was fortunate enough to sit by the side of a man who enumerated every
dish, and dignified some with very uncommon names, I was too absent or
too stupid to remember them.

Many complained of the want of recherche of his cook; but possibly he
conceived that, after the experience we had recently had of scarce and
coarse fare, dainties and the more abstruse arts of cookery would have
been wasted upon us. For my own part, I confess that the paraphernalia
of the surrounding gibbets haunted me so much at the table that I could
hardly take my eyes off an immense cone of rice, piled on a huge dish
in front of the master of the feast, and as the snowy covering was
shaken off, I could scarcely persuade myself that the boiled kid and
trussed-up capons were not some novel delicacies artistically carved
from a skinned criminal!

The feast being ended, we were ushered into a room above-stairs, where
a circle of Nautch girls were squatted round the room, who entertained
us with a repetition of those monotonous chants and attitudes which are
so generally popular amongst the Orientals.

Some of the women, especially the Punjaubees, were pretty: all had
fine lustrous eyes, and some fair and almost clear olive complexions;
but cocoa-nut oil, beetel nut, vermillion, henna, and black paint,
did their utmost to detract from the gifts of Nature. However, we
had been so long debarred from the sight of female charms, that few
had any reason to be fastidious or backward in admiration of such
novelties, and none of the damsels reckoned shyness or obstinacy as

On the morning of the 10th of November, the Sappers and Miners, and
two companies of Native Infantry, were detached to Ali Musjid in the
Khyber pass, as an escort to a quantity of camel-loads of supplies
of provision and ammunition for the use of the garrison. Having
performed this duty, on their return from Ali Musjid they were suddenly
attacked by a swarm of Khyberees. A party of Sikhs who accompanied
the detachment, either from treachery or fear, at the first alarm
severed the leading-strings of the camels, and thus threw the baggage
into a state of hopeless confusion. The Khyberees taking advantage
of this disorder, ham-strung many of the camels, and thus secured the
loads as a booty. The escort having with some difficulty, and the
loss of a few men, succeeded in repulsing their daring assailants,
returned to Peshawur, minus about five hundred camels and a quantity of
baggage, which fell into the hands of their enemies. The commissariat,
previously much straitened for carriage, now declared that they had not
the means of carrying the supplies requisite for the march.

A detachment, consisting of all the infantry of the column, (altogether
six companies, including one of the European Regiment,) were now
ordered to march to Ali Musjid, and occupy that fort, until relieved
by a party from the army in Afghanistan. Colonel Wheler's brigade of
Native Infantry was ordered to move from Jellalabad into the Khyber
pass; and thus the defile being entered by the two forces from opposite
sides, would be swept throughout, and a fair probability presented
itself of chastising and bringing to terms the daring banditti.

Colonel Wheler's advanced guard was attacked by a body of Khyberees
at the crest of the steep descent into the valley of Lumdeekhana, but
the marauders, seeing the columns advance in force, soon gave way,
and retired to the interior of the hills. Subsequently, some of the
Khyberee chiefs came down to hold a conference with Colonel Wheeler,
their followers burning fire with the Sepoys in token of amity; and
much regret was expressed for the injuries which had been sustained
at the hands of those chiefs who _had not_ been bribed. On arrival at
Ali Musjid, Colonel Wheeler found the detachments from Peshawur in the
fort, to which they had penetrated with a few supplies, after another
skirmish with the Khyberees, in which, however, the marauders were
roughly handled.

The chiefs had promised that on the payment annually of one lakh of
rupees, the passage of the Khyber should be kept open to the British;
and it was supposed that matters were finally arranged with the
Khyberees, but upon terms which did not sound agreeably in a soldier's
ear, though, politically speaking, they might be deemed expedient.

Matters having been brought to the conditions named above, by those
who were empowered to treat, the infantry brigade, accompanied by the
detachments from our column, which had been relieved, now proceeded
towards Peshawur. The troops had advanced but a short distance from
Ali Musjid, when a swarm of Khyberees once more rushed from the
heights, and, pouncing upon the baggage, succeeded in carrying off
a number of camels, principally laden with the officers' baggage,
which they drove up one of the numerous ravines communicating with
the main passage of the defile. The rear-guard, which had probably
been overlooked by the plunderers, immediately gave chase; and having
been reinforced by parties from the detachments which occupied the
heights flanking the ravine, who had witnessed the theft, came up with
the Khyberees, and having committed considerable havoc amongst the
traitorous rascals, succeeded in recovering some of the camels and
their burdens. The troops then proceeded on their route to Peshawur,
which was reached without any further molestation.

Such was the state in which we abandoned Afghanistan. Having marched
victoriously throughout the country, and thrust a monarch upon his
reluctant subjects, the ill-fated Shah Soojah, with ill-disguised
apprehension, beheld himself placed on the throne of a hostile country
supported only by too much weakened British regiments, a few sepoys,
and a small body of half-disciplined Hindoostan levies. The Bombay
division, on their return march, had found an enemy in nearly every
mud-fort, and met with a spirited resistance from Mehrab Khan at
Khelat; whilst the Khyber Pass, the direct gate of communication with
our far-distant provinces, closed behind the Bengal column as soon
as it had crossed the threshold. The savage and marauding Khyberees,
reckless of all faith and treaties, continued to commit numerous deeds
of rapine and violence, thus amply proving, had any proof been required
of such a self-evident fact, that these treacherous bandits were only
to be restrained from their hereditary profession of plunder whilst
their mountain-fastnesses were being actually swept by an overwhelming
military force; yet, in opposition to these stubborn arguments,
political agents were yet to be found who advocated, and endeavoured to
adopt, conciliatory measures.

In Dost Mahomed's time, the Khyberees had little or no temptation
offered them to infringe their agreement; but the sight of the baggage
which accompanied our column was too much for their resolution.

The garrison of Ali Musjid, having been left in unenviable quarters,
and our fellow-soldiers in Afghanistan to enjoy themselves as they
might in their isolated situation, we prepared to resume our march, and
traverse the remaining four hundred miles, which lay between us and
our advanced posts on the frontier of Ferozepore.

The infantry detachments, which had lately been engaged in the Khyber
Pass, had not rejoined, but followed shortly afterwards, whilst the
first column proceeded onwards through the valley of Peshawur.

On the morning of the 20th of November, we proceeded on our march, and
encamped a few miles distant from the city. At this place, in the broad
daylight, a party of plunderers from some adjacent hills came down and
carried off many camels, which were grazing at little more than a mile
from the lines. The rear-guard of the Lancers, immediately on the alarm
being given, turned out in pursuit, and from a small knoll in camp, we
had a favourable view of the chase.

The robbers, amounting to about forty, having got a good start, were
pushing for the hills, about five miles distant from camp, and driving
the camels before them at a round pace, pricking the bewildered animals
forward with the points of their lances and cimeters. The dragoons
gained steadily on them; but a few men of the irregular cavalry hung
closely on their flanks and rear, and although they were too few to
obstruct effectually the retreat of the banditti, yet they compelled
them to abandon several stray and restive camels. As they neared the
hills, the eagerness of the pursuers redoubled, and the camels dropped
fast to the rear, bearing on their flanks severe marks from the weapons
of their merciless captors. At length, the robbers, with the residue
of their booty, were close to the foot of the hills, the dragoons were
still half a mile behind, and the irregular horsemen, who were less
than two hundred yards off, drew up, and gave a parting fire from
their matchlocks, but without effect. With a shout of exultation,
the mountaineers wheeled about to return the fire, when two gallant
fellows from the irregular horse, dashing round their flank, threatened
an impediment to their line of retreat. The chances seemed, for a
moment, to be against the bandits, for none of them appeared willing to
encounter their daring opponents, and whilst wavering at the foot of
the heights, the dragoons had come within a few hundred yards. Choosing
the least of two evils, the marauders, driving the remainder of their
booty before them, rushed, _en masse_, upon the unfortunate irregulars,
who were unhorsed, but unwounded, ascended the hills, and dispersed in
many directions amongst the gullies and ravines which intersected the
face of the mountains.

Barely a dozen camels were altogether secured by the marauders out
of nearly a hundred which had been seized. During the pursuit, many
villagers from the plains turned out to offer assistance; for these
mountaineers are unfriendly neighbours to the agriculturists, and
scruple not, when urged by necessity, to take whatever may be useful to
them from the unwarlike and helpless dwellers in the plains.

From hence, crossing an extensive plain, we encamped near the banks of
the Caubul river on some greensward, and under a grove of trees.

This was a most luxurious day's residence, and the prospect was more
English than anything we had hitherto seen in the East, or perhaps
I should have rather said, Irish, for the mud huts of the country
bordering Peshawur bear a close resemblance to Irish cabins, although
the unclean animal, that prominent feature at the threshold of most
dwellings in the Emerald Isle, is here considered an unwelcome guest.

A traveller desirous of conciliating the natives of this country
must needs be choice in the selection of animal food; for in this
district--from Peshawur to the Jhelum river--dwell the Mussulman
population of the country, whose abhorrence is a pig; across that
boundary the imperious Sikhs look with pious horror on beef-eaters, for
one of their deities is a bull. The pea-fowl and pigeon are also held
in much veneration by the Sikhs, notwithstanding the ungodly voice of
the bird of Juno, and the destructive habits of the sacred pigeons.
The allurements of immortality, however, compensate for the loss of
temporal possessions, and the depredations of the sacred fowl are
viewed with indifference, and by the more devout, with satisfaction.

On leaving the Caubul river, we passed again over tracts of desolate
plains and barren hills, until we reached once more the banks of the
Indus, on the 26th of November, at the fortress of Attok.

About a mile above Attok, the Caubul river forms a junction with the
Indus, and the united streams rush with great rapidity in a deep and
narrow channel under the walls of that ancient and gloomy fortress. A
temporary bridge of boats had been thrown across the Indus, opposite
to the gates of Attok, which enabled us to cross the river without
much delay, at the end of the morning's march. At this season, the
breadth of the river did not exceed one hundred and fifty yards, and
the cavalry crossed the bridge without dismounting. From the approach
on the Caubul side, Attok presented rather a formidable appearance,
with its extensive and massive parapets frowning over the dark floods
beneath; but at the junction of the two rivers, about one mile higher
up, a passage might easily be effected with a pontoon train, where the
guns of the fort would be nearly inoffensive. When once landed on the
left bank, the fortress would not present a very formidable obstacle,
for the hills immediately above the town afford an excellent position,
whereon batteries might be placed which would command both the town and
fort at a range of something less than six hundred yards.

The Sikhs were very jealous of admitting any of the officers within the
fortress; but as the best view of the place was obtained from the hills
above mentioned, this reluctance on their part did not cause us any
disappointment, and the much-vaunted stronghold of Attok was generally
admitted to be a fortress of no importance, with regard to its present
strength and site. Had a strong detached work been placed on the upper
range of hills, it might have rendered the position more tenable,
although the whole rampart of the place being exposed to view from the
opposite bank, must soon be made to succumb to the stroke of a heavy
battery. Such a catastrophe, however, could never have been expected
from the Afghan quarter, as their battering trains are not of the most
effective description.

A merchant from India had arrived here with wines and other luxuries,
which, in addition to some we had procured at Peshawur from another
enterprising merchant, _en route_ for Caubul, introduced us once more
to those dainties with which previous experience had taught many of us
cheerfully to dispense.

Proceeding on our march from hence, I looked in vain for the fertile
land of which I had heard and read; the appearance of the country near
our line of march was but little superior to Afghanistan.

The tract between Peshawur and the Jhelum river is almost entirely
occupied by the Mussulman population of the Sikh territories, from
whom Runjeet Singh levied his Mussulman regiments, which are generally
supposed to have been the most efficient of his army.

The natives of this part of the country are not supposed to bear any
particular good will to their neighbouring masters, and were kept
in strict subjection by Runjeet. To quell their martial spirit, and
diminish the chances of a revolt, they were restricted from wearing
arms, whilst in the Punjaub almost every Sikh may be seen following the
plough with the singular encumbrance of sword and shield--at least, in
that part of the country bordering on the Mussulman districts.

Should a rupture ensue between the British and the Sikhs, there is
little doubt that if the war be carried into the heart of the Punjaub,
this ill-will on the part of the Mussulmans may be turned to our
advantage; for it is generally supposed that the immunity offered to
their religion and habits under the British rule, would induce them to
prefer it to their present state of subjection.

Six marches from Attok brought us to the celebrated Tope of Manikyala,
in which a vast quantity of coins were recently discovered.

This place is supposed to be the Bucephalia of Alexander's time, by
Mr. Ventura. Its modern name of Manikyala may appear to warrant such a
supposition; but as the Bucephalia was placed on the right bank of the
Jhelum, to command the passage of the river, Sir Alexander Burnes has
objected to the site. This I deem an inconclusive objection, for the
reasons already assigned in page 214.

The monument at Manikyala is a massive spheroidal building of stone
and brick. The perimeter of its base exceeds three hundred yards;
its altitude was computed at something more than fifty. On reaching
the summit, by the aid of some rude and time-worn steps, we found an
aperture, resembling a dry well, which descended apparently to the
foundation of the building. This well was searched, some years ago, by
General Ventura, and at the bottom was found a box, containing many
valuable coins, and also a phial, filled with some liquid.

Whilst peering into this cavity, a tall Sikh, who had arrived on the
same spot, stood watching me with that inquisitive stare which, at
first blush, excites the sufferer to anger, but which experience had
now taught me meant nothing more than simple curiosity.

"Has the sahib discovered any curiosities below?" demanded the
intruder, as I rose from my occupation.

"No; but perhaps you can enlighten me on the subject of this huge pile,
and as to your native traditions of the architect and his intentions,"
I replied, in mongrel Hindustani, which this native was intelligent
enough to comprehend.

"I was here some years ago," he answered, "when General Ventura
searched this well and discovered many ancient pieces of gold, and
silver, and copper. The mound has stood here many centuries, before
the Sikhs possessed this country, and is generally supposed by the
country-people to have been erected by Shah Sikunder (Alexander the
Great) as a monument over some one of his generals, who, probably, fell
in battle near this spot. Our architects declare that the monument was
of a foreign origin."

Such was the pith of the information given by my heathen companion,
as we descended together from the building by the rude staircase,
constructed, perhaps, by the hands of Macedonian engineers and masons,
and trodden by the foot of the invincible Alexander, whose mighty deeds
and conquests, although they have transmitted the deathless name of
the conqueror to posterity, have failed in assigning a definite spot
to his achievements here, or in marking the limit of his advances
into Hindostan--if, indeed, he ever did penetrate as far as those
realms--if, alas! that after a whole life devoted to the pursuit of
the phantom, Ambition, (which was, probably, nearer the grasp of the
Macedonian than that of any subsequent devotee,) the attainment of
his favourite project, the conquest of the East, should at this day
remain a matter of uncertainty. Such is fame, and so much worth, that
gnawing and unaccountable desire to live in the memories of posterity,
which animates alike the poet, the statesman, the soldier, and the
philosopher, to a life of labour, anxiety, hardships, or study, that
his name may survive when the body has partaken of the common lot of
mortality, and lies insensible alike to the worms which are gnawing the
flesh, and its fellow worms above who are probably toiling to destroy
that reputation which was the fond and nurturing object of its earthly

The keenest satire on ambition which I have read, lies in the
observation of Horace--

  "Expende Annibalem, quot libras in duce summo invenies?"

But let the cynic sneer his fill at the desire of distinction during
life, and the cravings for a name with posterity; such is the
indefinable condition of the animal, man, that I firmly believe no
mortal ever existed who could despise the prospect of their attainment.
Such are the uncertainties which attend human attainments and
foresight, that a heathen fanatic has, at one fell swoop, destroyed the
labours and monuments of ages of literature,[56] and left the very
existence of many sages of antiquity to be called in question: and the
stupendous pyramids, on which the suns and storms of unknown ages have
beaten, still rear their aged crests into the serene sky, whilst the
object and even the names of their projectors remain a matter of doubt
and dispute.

Whilst indulging these sombre reflections, at the foot of the Tope of
Manikyala, my reverie was interrupted by the approach of a Sikh, who
displayed some coins for sale, which the first glance assured me were
spurious. Reader, be not alarmed; after this dissertation on the novel
topic of the vanity of human forethought, I will not indulge you with a
treatise on the still more uncommon theme of dishonesty. I will merely
add, that I returned the Sikh his coins, telling him that they were
worth a trifle under their actual weight in copper, and then adjourned
to a breakfast which the impatience of two brother officers had made
cold and scanty. The village of Manikyala has been so completely
denuded of antiquities, by the diligence of European travellers, that
not a coin of any value was found there by any of our party.

As we proceeded, a barren country still surrounded us, intersected,
in the most singular manner, by deep ravines, which appeared to have
been caused by heavy floods from the mountains. So frequent, deep, and
precipitous are these rents in the soil, that even were the natives
ever so industriously disposed, the culture of such a surface would be
attended with great disadvantage, both on account of the infertility of
the soil, and the difficulty of tillage and communication.

Having descended into the dry course of a river, we pursued its sandy
track nearly to the banks of the Jhelum river, which is better known
under its classical name of Hydaspes.

About thirty large flat bottomed boats had been collected at the small
town of Jhelum, on the right bank, for the transport of troop baggage,
as also for the soldiers themselves, if it were deemed requisite; but
the river was supposed to be fordable about half a mile above the ferry
of Jhelum, and the ford, which was about four hundred yards in width
and very tortuous, was designated by several bamboos placed upright in
the stream to mark the course to be pursued in crossing.

An officer was sent to report on the practicability of the ford,
(the officials from the quartermaster-general's department having
already crossed in boats,) who crossed and recrossed on horseback,
and reported the greatest depth to be about four feet, and that his
horse had kept his legs firmly during the passage. The Lancers then
received orders from the brigadier to cross on horseback, and entered
the river by sections of threes. The advanced party, keeping close to
the canes which marked the ford, reached the opposite bank in safety;
but the mass of the column, when within about a hundred yards of the
left shore, lost the indications of the ford, which had probably been
destroyed by the advance, and, on diverging from the track, the greater
part were immediately out of their depth. The line of demarcation
being thus trampled over and lost sight of, nearly the whole regiment,
yielding imperceptibly with the current, got below the proper ford,
and, seeing no further marks to direct them, pushed indiscriminately
for the nearest landing-place. First one poor fellow, on a weak horse,
was swept away by the current; and, unable to extricate himself,
encumbered as he was with heavy accoutrements, soon lost his seat, and
being struck by the horse in his efforts to stem the current, sunk,
and was seen no more. Soon afterwards several more, mostly mounted
on animals which were too feeble[57] to swim with the heavy weights
on their backs, were seen struggling in vain to make headway, until,
exhausted with their endeavours, they parted company; and the Dragoons,
unless strong swimmers, were soon overcome, whilst their horses, when
freed from their weights, swam wildly down the river. Amongst the
victims was Captain Hilton, commanding the fourth squadron, who, being
a heavy man, unable to swim, and mounted on a weak old Arab charger,
sunk almost without a struggle. The confusion which prevailed may
be easily imagined, and it appears wonderful that so many managed
to reach the shore. The boats employed in the transport of baggage,
being all heavily laden, could move but slowly towards the scene of
disaster, which was more than half a mile distant from most of them,
and it was only by working up near the bank and thence pushing into
the stream that they could have reached the spot; but they were unable
to do so until all was nearly over, and few, if any, escaped by their
assistance. Those men who had succeeded in reaching the shore now
vociferated confused advice to their comrades in the water, each loudly
recommending some designated place of safety, whilst those struggling
with the current were unable to catch a single word of advice or
command from their numerous advisers, on account of the rushing and
stunning din of the stream, and the clatter of surrounding voices.
When the greater part of the regiment had reached the shore, a body of
the strongest swimmers stripped themselves of their encumbrances, and
hurried to the assistance of their comrades, many of whom were nearly
exhausted by their efforts to keep above water, or benumbed with the
cold, which, at eight o'clock on a December morning, is severe, even in
this latitude.

Numbers of camels, which had attempted a ford rather higher up the
river, with heavy loads on their backs, had been carried off their
legs, and these, floating down the river amongst the soldiers, were the
means of saving many a poor fellow's life, by affording him something
to cling to until he could be rescued from that precarious situation by
the vigorous exertions of his fellow-soldiers.

Soon after the regiment had crossed, it was mustered on the banks, and
Captain Hilton and ten men found missing. The bodies of Captain Hilton
and six men were found in the course of the morning, and interred
close to the river, but the bodies of the remaining sufferers were not
recovered during our halt at the fatal Jhelum.

Had we been compelled to cross this river in the face of an enemy,
the ford could not have been more boldly attempted than on this
occasion.[58] Because a single horseman had crossed in safety it was
deemed advisable that a whole regiment should do the same, neglecting
the probability of the alluvial deposits in the bed of the river
being trampled to the consistency of a quicksand by such constant and
heavy pressure. As a sufficient number of boats had been collected
to transport the whole regiment, with their horses, across the river
within the space of a few hours, it is difficult to assign a reason for
plunging into so deep and uncertain a ford, with a rapid current and an
unstable footing.

Major Hough, the diffuse historian of Indian warfare, has informed us
"that the commander-in-chief and staff regarded the distressing scene
with feelings of the deepest commiseration;" which must have been very
consolatory to the drowning men, and doubtless the survivors are duly
grateful to his excellency for such a flattering display of humanity.


[Footnote 54: This mode of execution has also been practised by the
princes of many independent states of Hindostan.]

[Footnote 55: In 1842 I witnessed a military execution at Merut, of a
private of the Horse Artillery. The numerous spectators present can
bear witness to the prolonged sufferings of the criminal. The rope
being adjusted, one native pushed him off a low cart under the gibbet,
whilst two others tugged at the rope to hoist him up. The convulsive
writhings of the sufferer long haunted me; they lasted for nearly
twenty minutes.]

[Footnote 56: The library of Alexandria was destroyed by the Arab,
Amrou, a few years after Mahomet. Abulphuragicus Dynast., p. 115. This
is questioned by Gibbon, (!) vol. iii. p. 478, quarto edition.]

[Footnote 57: The greater part of our horses had not regained much
strength after the sorrowful work and starvation they had encountered
during the recent campaign.]

[Footnote 58: In the month of April, upwards of two hundred years ago,
Jehangire's army forded this river with a force of Rajaputs opposing
them. Many were drowned, and most of the remainder fell into the hands
of their enemies. (Dow's India, vol. iii., p. 81.)]



Having thus floundered through the Jhelum, we had passed the boundary
of the Mussulmaun, and entered the Sikh division--i.e., the Punjaub.
The Punjaub is bounded on the north-west by the Jhelum river, and not
by the Attok, as usually marked in the charts. The five rivers, from
which it derives its name,[59] are the Sutlej, the Beeas, the Ravee,
the Chenab, and the Jhelum.

The country did not exhibit any sign of improvement until we neared
the Chenab, being mostly overgrown with long dry grass, not unlike
that which covers some of the prairies of America. But it cannot be a
matter of surprise, that the inhabitants should pay more attention to
war than agriculture; had it been otherwise, they would have sown only
for the hardy and warlike inhabitants of the neighbouring mountains.
A nation must be great in war ere it can hope to flourish in commerce
and agriculture, or the nest will surely be robbed ere the progeny
be full-grown and able to defend themselves--or rather, capable of
learning that useful art.

The cold of a winter's morning in India, though much less severe, of
course, than that of more northern latitudes, is still very smartly
felt on the line of march, for it is necessary to march in the morning,
to enable the cattle to go out and graze after their work is over.

Mounted on a charger, who is forbidden to deviate from a walk during
a morning's march of twelve or fifteen miles, with the feet in a
pair of heavy iron stirrups, and a keen blast driving the cold dust
through the half-frozen patient, is the daily lot of the soldier on a
winter's campaign in the East. With anxiety he looks forward through
the morning's gloom for the first peep of dawn; but no sooner has the
merciless sun attained a few degrees of elevation, than he exhibits
a fiery aspect which soon renders the shadow of a tree or a fold of
canvas by far the most interesting object in the view. Whilst the
European, clad in his tight and cumbersome costume and accoutrements,
toils wearily onward under the fiery noon-day heat on a long march,
the Asiatic warrior, divesting himself of a portion of his flowing
dress, twirls the light material round his head, and under its grateful
shadow encounters lightly and cheerfully the task which lies before
him. The graceful Oriental turban serves the invaluable purposes of
guarding the head from sun and cold, of defying the edge of the sabre,
and arresting the progress of a bullet; the European head-dress answers
no useful purpose: cannot the ingenuity of England's hatters suggest
some plausible scheme for defending the susceptible sculls of their
countrymen serving in India? Verily, if they cannot accomplish that
object, they deserve, and may they continue to enjoy, the imputation of

Five marches from the Jhelum brought us to the banks of the Chenab; of
the depth, rapidity, and means of transit over which, about as varied
and accurate reports had been received as were transmitted on our
arrival at the Jhelum.

On reaching the Chenab river, we encamped within a few yards of the
bank; and as the fortunate discovery was soon made that an abundance
of boats were in readiness, the greater part of the baggage was taken
across in them during the day, and next morning the regiment embarked.

The camels, when unloaded, as also the horses, with a native groom (or
"syce," as they are termed) on each, were enabled to cross at a ford,
about two miles down the river, which was more than four feet in depth.
These natives, being light weights and unencumbered with trappings--for
the saddles and all their weighty concomitants travelled in boats--took
the horses across the ford without any accident or difficulty. Nor was
there any risk in the experiment, for most Orientals swim soon after
they have learned to walk.

The country now assumed a much more cheerful and civilized appearance:
crops rose luxuriantly on each side of our line of march; and the
well-inhabited towns and villages told of an abundant, though not a
very wealthy[61] people, for the mud houses were little, if at all,
better than those of Hindostan.

Ofttimes, the massive and circular tomb of some Mussulman, now
falling fast to decay, (or in many instances, the ruthless hand of
time, having evidently been assisted by the unsparing jealousy of the
bigoted Sikhs,) glared upon us from out its gloomy and sepulchral
shade of banyans. Since the date which some of the buildings tried to
commemorate, the haughty Mussulman conqueror had yielded to the more
arrogant Sikh idolator, who must soon give place, in the inevitable
cycle of events, to a milder and more tolerant power.

These white and spectral monuments failed not in their object of
attracting observation, whilst the fretted and ostentatious carving
apprised us of the earthly resting-place of bones probably belonging
to some proud grandee, who had played his little part on the stage of
life, and whose deeds done in the flesh, though failing to rescue his
name from oblivion, had succeeded in earning a monument to become an
asylum of refuge for rats, owls, and jackdaws. This is as it should be,

  "Some proud son of man returns to earth,
  Unknown to glory, but upheld by birth."

Since leaving Attok, we had been accompanied by an escort of Sikhs,
under Sirdar Lana Singh, who, it was expected, would have met the
commander-in-chief on the frontier with an invitation to visit
Maharajah Kurruk Singh (the reigning monarch of the country) at Lahore.
Lana Singh being vested with no such authority, our original route,
which lay through Lahore, was altered, and the force proceeded by a
road which left the capital about fifteen miles to the East.

With a nation so punctilious in points of etiquette as the Sikhs had
hitherto been, the fact of allowing the British forces to approach
within so short a distance of their capital, without sending a
deputation to wait on the commander-in-chief with an invitation to
their court, betokened a slight which told plainly the ambiguous
relations existing between the Lahore government and the British. The
most probable cause of this omission was, that both the authority and
intellect of Kurruk Singh being feeble, and the court itself in a
turbulent and unsettled state, the ministers were unwilling that the
British should be eye-witnesses of their present state of anarchy.

Dhian Singh, the prime minister, had always testified an aversion to
the British, even in the days of Runjeet, according to Mr. Prinsep's
account, and there is little doubt that this marked neglect was owing
to his suggestion. Had they valued, or wished to court our friendship,
as the old Lion of Lahore had ever done,[62] they would not have been
thus tardy with their invitation, or at least, they would have made
some apologies for the maharajah's inability, from ill-health or some
other invention, to be honoured with an interview.

On the present occasion, we had arrived within fifteen miles of
Lahore without any communication from the durbar, and at a small town
named Budee, when late in the afternoon a party deputed by the Sikh
government entered our camp, bringing the commander-in-chief the tardy
courtesy of a request to visit the capital. Instructions having been
received from the governor-general of India, conveying a desire that
Sir John Keane should, if possible, visit the maharajah, the scanty
ceremony was overlooked, and the commander-in-chief, escorted by the
16th Lancers, a troop of horse artillery, and a few native infantry,
diverged from the route, and proceeded next morning towards Lahore,
whilst the second column, under General Thackwell, continued their
route by the more direct road to Ferozepore.

Having made two marches over an uninteresting country, speckled with
patches of long dry grass and underwood, we arrived on the banks of
the Ravee, and encamped close to the walls of Jehangire's tomb.

The city of Lahore lay about four miles distant, stretched along some
gently rising ground on the opposite shore of the Ravee, but we could
barely discern its locality owing to the haziness of the atmosphere.
It was Christmas day, and decidedly the least merry one I can remember
having passed. The gloom rivalled that of London at this period of the
year; the clouds occasionally indulged us with a smart shower of rain,
which, under canvas, is the most uncomfortable weather imaginable,
especially when accompanied, as this was, by a piercing easterly
wind, which swelled in the folds of our tents, and defied all efforts
to exclude the noisy intruder. In the afternoon, the weather having
cleared up a little, I visited the Emperor Jehangire's tomb, in company
with a brother officer. We entered the extensive building by a gateway
leading into a large square court, the four sides of which were pierced
by a succession of small casements, each divided into two cells, which
would have made very comfortable quarters for a Dragoon and his horse.

Calculating on the probability of their being ere long devoted to some
such purpose, we found that the square would have well accommodated a
cavalry regiment at its full strength. Crossing this yard, we passed
under a lofty, arched gateway, and entered the gardens in which stood
the tomb of the Emperor: a massive square building, of about thirty
feet in relief, from the four angles of which rose the usual flanking
parties, lofty and handsomely carved minarets. In the interior, we
found nothing costly or worthy of note. On a platform of white marble
steps, in the centre, stood the sarcophagus, made of the same material,
whose sides had been chipped and defaced by the Sikhs, to exhibit their
magnanimous contempt for the deceased Mussulman potentate. On ascending
the exterior of the monument, we found the flat roof paved with stones
of various colours, which had a singular effect, the whole constituting
a pattern of great dimensions. As none of the stones were of any value,
and all pretty tightly fastened with cement, the natural indolence
of the Sikhs had saved this part of the structure from injury. On
ascending one of the minarets, whence an excellent view of Lahore may
be obtained on a clear day, we observed, at the further side of the
garden, a small conical tomb, built to the memory of the far-famed,
beautiful Nourmahal, wife of the Emperor Jehangire. Her pathetic and
marvellous history has formed a theme for many relaters of tales
throughout the east; but for the enlightenment of the few whose ears
they may not have reached, I will give a brief sketch of the adventures
assigned to her lot.

Nourmahal was the daughter of a ruined Tartar chief, and was born
in the desert between Tartary and Hindostan when her parents were
emigrating to the latter country. Overcome by weakness and fatigue on
the journey, they found themselves unable to carry on the infant, and
Nourmahal was left to perish where she was born. The mother, after
deserting her child, was so overpowered with grief as to be unable to
proceed, whereupon Aiass, the father, returned in search of the infant,
which he found encircled by a large black snake. The reptile fled
at his approach, and Aiass, finding to his surprise that the infant
was uninjured, brought it to the mother. A caravan, shortly after,
opportunely arrived, and relieved them from their distresses; and,
without difficulty, the whole party reached Lahore, which was then the
seat of government of the Moguls conjointly with Agra. Aiass having
found a relative amongst the Omrahs of the Emperor Akbar, obtained,
through that influence, a place in the household of the monarch, and
rose in time to wealth and distinction. His daughter, who was called
Mher el Nissa, (the sun of women,) possessed unequalled attractions of
beauty, and was also remarkable for wit and accomplishments--a rare
combination for an Eastern beauty.

Selim, the son of Akbar, being present at an entertainment given by
Aiass, was much attracted by Mher el Nissa's graceful figure and
voice; and the accomplished beauty, having _accidentally_ dropt her
veil, discovered to the happy prince such charms as had never before
shone upon the eyes of man. Poor Selim, who was as much in love (as
the Asiatics fictitiously term a passion of which they are ignorant)
as a prince could be, applied to the Emperor Akbar to obtain for him
the beautiful toy he had beheld. It was discovered that Mher el Nissa
was betrothed to the Omrah Sher Afken, a Turcoman noble, who might
be a dangerous enemy, and Akbar refused to employ harsh measures to
dissolve the contract. The disappointed prince was therefore compelled
to defer his passion and projects till a more convenient season, and
Mher el Nissa became the wife of Sher Afken. After the lapse of a few
years, when Selim had ascended the throne under the name of Jehangire,
Sher Afken left the court and retired to Burdwan. He was recalled
from thence by Jehangire to the court then held at Delhi, and the
monarch testified so much regard for the Turcoman chief, that he very
naturally concluded that all was sincere and disinterested on the part
of Jehangire.

At a royal tiger-hunt which took place, the noble beast was marked
down in the jungle, and Jehangire, knowing Sher Afken's character
for strength, personal courage, and love of adventure, demanded that
volunteers, to meet the tiger single-handed with a sword, should
present themselves; four came forward, Sher Afken amongst them, and,
whilst the others were contending for the precarious honour, the
Turcoman Omrah offered to face the tiger without a weapon. Jehangire,
with inward joy and outward reluctance, assented. Sher Afken advanced
to the lair, and man and beast rushed into each other's clutches. The
tiger made some use of his claws, and mangled his opponent; but he
had to do with a hero of romance and not a mere mortal, consequently
the complaisant beast submitted, and allowed himself to be strangled.
The fame of Sher Afken rose with this exploit; he recovered from his
wounds, and became much honoured by the people and petted by the
monarch, who had many similar adventures in store for him. An elephant
was sent to crush Sher Afken in his palanquin. The hero arose, and,
with one blow of a _short_ sword, cut the elephant's trunk asunder at
the root, and killed him on the spot. Forty hired assassins tried to
murder him during the night; he slew twenty, and generously allowed
the remainder to escape. Sher Afken seems at last to have discovered
that Mher el Nissa was the object of Jehangire's persecutions, and
as it is considered a foul stain on a man's honour in the East to
part with any of his wives, the troublesome husband retired with the
sun of women, to his private residence at Burdwan. The chief of that
Bengal province immediately received instructions to remove the modern
Uriah to a better world, and, approaching under the pretext of a tour
of inspection, but with a large retinue, the king's official visited
Sher Afken, who met him unattended. The royal party soon proceeded to
business; but Sher Afken having pulled down an elephant and castle,
slain the emperor's agent, and killed a nobleman at every blow, was at
last surrounded by archers and matchlock men, who galled him from a
distance. He did not condescend to fall before his horse was killed,
and six bullets, and arrows innumerable, had perforated his body;
then, discovering he was mortal, the gallant and devout Omrah turned
towards Mecca, threw sand on his head, and began to die. The soldiers
dared not approach until he was in his last agonies. The party then
hastened in search of Mher el Nissa, fearing that in the first outburst
of regret for her irreparable loss she might wish to accompany her
deceased husband to Heaven; but happily she was less overcome than they
expected, and appeared resigned to her fate, declaring it was entirely
out of regard to her husband, that he might be immortalized by his wife
becoming afterwards Empress of India, that she submitted to become
Jehangire's sultana.

On her arrival at Delhi, to her surprise and mortification, she found
that some caprice of Jehangire not only assigned her the most paltry
rooms in the seraglio, but left her to poverty and neglect. The emperor
did not even visit the woman for whom he had stained his name with
indelible crimes.

Mher el Nissa, with laudable indifference, amused herself with
embroideries, (in which art she excelled,) and her talents in this
humble occupation soon brought her name into notice. After four years
spent in this manner, it appears that curiosity weighed more with
Jehangire than boyish love, for he stole to the apartments of the
beautiful embroideress to witness her toil. The result is evident, for
none could look on this dangerous beauty unmoved. The next day, the
Emperor Jehangire celebrated his nuptials with Mher el Nissa, under
the title of Nourmahal, (the Light of the Harem,) which was afterwards
changed to the more dignified and affectionate title of Sultana Noor
Jehan. The sultana continued to enjoy her husband's confidence, and
forms one of the few instances in Eastern history of a queen being
acknowledged more powerful than her lord.

By her influence, her father became prime vizier, and was renowned
for his virtue and abilities in office; but, unhappily, her influence
over Jehangire was afterwards exerted to produce less creditable and
less fortunate results.[63] She survived her husband for upwards of
seventeen years, which serves to account for the paltry tomb erected to
her memory.

On the morning of the 26th of December, we crossed the Ravee in boats;
but the horses, as well as the camels and other beasts of burden, were
able to ford the river without being unloaded, the Ravee being much
narrower than its two predecessors which we had crossed.

Shortly before mid-day, we arrived within a mile of the city, and
encamped in a ploughed field, the advantages of which position were by
no means enhanced by the fall of rain on the previous day. The weather
now promised to be fine, luckily for us, and the ground was soon
dried, and as soon levelled by the constant intercourse with Lahore.
Immediately on our arrival, intimation was received that we must
consider ourselves all as guests of the Sikh government, who would not
admit of our purchasing any of the daily supplies requisite in camp;
and it was requested, that a return might be furnished of the strength
of the escort, that provision might be made for ourselves and cattle.
This daily distribution of provender was continued during the remainder
of our sojourn in the Punjaub, up to the day we recrossed the Sutlej.
Heaps of grain, straw, grass, eggs, flour, &c., were piled every
morning in front of the commissariat-officer's tents, and beside them,
droves of sheep and poultry stood, awaiting their fate with bleating
and cackling sorrow.

This singular practice of feeding the troops of their allies was no
novelty on the part of the Sikhs; the same custom prevailed during
former visits of British embassies to the court of Lahore, in the
lifetime of Runjeet Singh.

A memorandum was issued shortly after our arrival, recommending the
officers to abstain from visiting Lahore, until Sikh guides had been
obtained, as a sort of safety escort; it was, at the same time,
notified that sundry long-bearded savages would shortly be waiting at
the commissary-general's quarters, for the benefit of any officers
desirous of keeping such company.

This recommendation was neglected by many, in their impatience to visit
the celebrated metropolis; and though, generally, the Sikhs behaved
with unusual civility towards us, there were not wanting some examples
of the contrary.

The approach to Lahore from our camp was certainly the most favourable
point of view which could be procured. An extensive plain, covered
with turf, and enlivened by occasional clumps of trees, is stretched
along the exterior of the city-walls in this quarter; and the view
of temples, barracks, minarets, arsenals, and battlemented-walls,
jumbled in thick and confused order behind the ramparts, announce to
the visitor that he is about to enter a city which has maintained
no inconsiderable part on the stage of Eastern history. As I rode
towards the city-gate, in company with another officer, a party of
some twenty Sikh horsemen were issuing from the portal. On perceiving
us, they levelled their long spears, and advanced towards us at full
gallop. I could not refrain from forthwith drawing my sword, to meet
this unprovoked act of aggression; but my companion, whom experience
had made acquainted with Sikh peculiarities, requested me to ride
unconcernedly forward, and pay no attention to them. When this
adventurous body of cavaliers arrived within two or three spears'
length of us, they checked their horses back upon their haunches,
tossed up the points of their lances, and dispersed over the plain,
indulging in loud shouts of exultation at such an unwonted display of
horsemanship and courage. I could not help thinking, that had I been
alone, and provided with the usual furniture in my holsters, the noisy
occupants of two saddles might have paid dearly for this uncourteous
display of activity to a stranger. However, it is better for both that
such was not the case.

Having crossed the bridge over the moat which defends the ramparts, we
entered Lahore through a series of narrow, dirty bazaars and lanes,
thronged, as usual, with inhabitants, yet so narrow, that three
horsemen could not ride abreast, except where some monument or temple
had been erected, in front of which the thoroughfares had been widened
and improved. It was with some difficulty that we made our way amongst
the crowds of people, who gazed at us more intently than if we had
been wild beasts in cages. The only recompence for this troublesome
curiosity was a good view of the fair-complexioned, dark eyed damsels,
who occupied many windows and balconies on the first story. As these
exalted beauties had the consideration to appear unveiled, we had ample
opportunities of admiring their charms.

Having caused so much sensation, we almost began to imagine that
hitherto a wrong estimate had been formed of our importance, and that
we really were not what we thought; but, unhappily, our rising notions
of greatness were sadly checked by the discovery that we were merely
regarded as curiosities, but did not possess even sufficient influence
to gain admittance to the arsenal.

The Sikhs were very jealous of allowing any of the officers of the
escort to visit their military establishments. In one of the temples
converted into a barrack, we were anxious to ascend a tower, which must
have commanded a good view of Lahore, but the sentry was inexorable.
We applied to the officer in command of the barrack, but he pretended
that the doors were locked, and the keys mislaid. This apprehension
of gratifying our curiosity was no matter of surprise, although the
precaution was useless, as we were not likely to benefit by the sight
of their military institution; and as Lahore, in its present state, is
incapable of defence as a fortress, the view enjoyed by two officers on
the summit of one of its towers would not have tended much to endanger
the safety of the city and its inhabitants.

This complaint of the Sikhs' jealousy was made by nearly all the
officers who visited the city, though many had gone with influential
natives as an escort.

Sir John Keane having been for some time suffering from illness,
which prevented him from quitting his tent, a deputation of officers
from head-quarters waited upon Kurruk Singh, in his palace, to tender
excuses for his excellency's inability to see the maharajah.

There was little display of magnificence or of munificence at this
Durbar compared to those which had taken place in the days of Runjeet;
and it was evident now that the paw of the old Lion of Lahore had
relaxed its grasp of authority, there remained little respect for the
present puppet-show of royalty.

Each officer attending the Durbar was presented with a dress of honour
of an average value of about two and sixpence sterling, and the damaged
Cashmere shawls presented as nuzzurs, would have been mean offerings to
send home to our respectable grandmothers. I have particularized those
reverend ladies, because their taste in the selection of that elegant
and becoming head-dress, the Cashmere turban, might enable them to roll
out of sight many of the defects of Kurruk Singh's presents, which
would have been fatally glaring when spread on the shoulders.

Notwithstanding the enormous importation of shawls from Cashmere
into the Punjaub, the difficulty of procuring a really rich and
handsome shawl is greater than is commonly supposed. The most valuable
are generally purchased by the wealthy natives, who have the best
opportunities of procuring them; secondly, a good judge is required for
the selection; and, thirdly, rupees to spare to the amount of from five
hundred to twelve hundred, for the purchase of each.

The day after the Durbar above named, Kurruk Singh, attended by
his court, visited the commander-in-chief at his tent. As some busy
gossips among the Sikhs had circulated a report that Sir John Keane's
illness was merely a pretext for withholding his company, and thus
evincing disrespect for the maharajah, Kurruk Singh and several of
his party were invited to enter the sleeping apartment, which they
did, and doubtless were convinced that the report of his excellency's
aristocratic disorder was not without foundation. Presents having been
made, and the usual forms and conversation having been conducted by
means of the interpreter, (Captain Powell,) the variegated mass of
silks, birds'-feathers, and jewellery, arose and departed. As this
shuffling crowd of Kurruk and his courtiers moved, bowing their heads,
through a lane of some two dozen brawny, square-built Englishmen, drawn
up as a guard of honour at the door-way, I could not forbear a smile at
the ludicrous contrast in manner and bearing, as well as the unusual
spectacle of the royal family of the Punjaubees, bowing and cringing to
the brave and sturdy descendants of some hard-working British artizans.

Let these arrogant Asiatics crow as they will during our absence,
it is very clear that they cannot refrain from evincing their mighty
respect for British prowess when brought into contact with it.

I always have, and still do entertain, the highest prepossession for
good blood and breeding, both in man and beast; nor was I staggered
in my opinion by this day's exhibition. It only tended to exalt the
estimate of my countrymen, for I should prefer the plainest drop of
English blood to the turbid streams flowing through the veins of the
proudest descendant of the Prophet, precisely as I should select a
sound English hack in preference to the weedy and stumbling offspring
of the best Hindustanee parents.

Whilst accompanying the maharajah's party across the plain, between
our camp and Lahore, I observed some Sikhs engaged in their favourite
diversion of hawking, which being a novelty to me, I joined the
party, and rode with them some distance in pursuit. A noble falcon
had been slipped, and was in full chase of a kite, much larger and
probably stronger than himself. The falcon had no easy game to play;
he practised several dextrous manoeuvres, and stooped with great
rapidity; but the quarry was equally wary, and cleverly avoided the
enemy's attack, though his inferiority in speed prevented him from
contending successfully when soaring for the higher place. At length,
night put an end to the contest, and the bird having been called in, we
rode homewards; but the kite, after his exertions, must have been ill
qualified to procure an evening's meal.

The Sikh sportsmen behaved with civility, and took some pains in
conveying instructions to me in falconry; but I derived little benefit
from their attentions, not being able to understand one-tenth of what
they said. Their knowledge of Hindustani appeared to be more limited
than my own, and one prevalent error was using the nose as much as
the mouth in the course of their conversation. I am not sure that I
am justified in calling this an error; for the Americans, who contend
that they speak English better than we can, adopt the same mode of
pronunciation. Their literature and social refinement must add weight
to the assertion. Washington Irving, by far the first of American
authors, complains of the ignorance and prejudice of English writers
on America: let me give him an example, taken from a book written by
an American of a learned profession. His opinion is not confined to
one country, and caused me a good hearty laugh. The author having
become intimately acquainted with the misery and ignorance of European
nations, proceeds to pronounce sentence at the end of his book--the
only good part:

"My soul has been sickened at the sight of oppression, ignorance,
abjectness, and vice, which I have seen everywhere the result of
arbitrary rule.[64] I contrast with these the general intelligence,
the independent spirit, the comparative virtue of my countrymen, and
I am proud of the name of an American. But it does not become us to
boast.[65] True greatness _never_ plays the part of the braggadocio.
If the people under the despotic governments of Europe are less
intelligent and happy than we, it is their misfortune, and not their
fault, and they are more deserving our pity than our scorn!!"[66]

I think we should be at a loss to find a parallel for this amongst the
most ignorant and prejudiced of our writers on America.

On the morning of the 28th of December, we quitted Lahore, having
discharged the required duty of visiting Runjeet's unworthy successor,
and witnessing the estimation in which he was held. The party of Sher
Singh (the next in succession to the throne) was supposed, at that
time, to be strong; and the death of Kurruk Singh, which occurred
shortly afterwards, is generally attributed to a plot to bring the
favourite to supreme authority. But the death of Runjeet rang the
death-knell of the nation he had brought to such rapid importance.

The reign of Kurruk's successor commenced with the massacre or removal
of most of the European officers in the Sikh service, by the soldiery;
the natural consequence of which must be the deterioration of that
discipline which Runjeet wisely devoted the greater part of his life
in endeavouring to establish. Could he have deputed his own abilities
to his successor, the Punjaub might have risen into one of the most
important nations of the East; but the army is becoming daily more
disorganized and under less control. Their arrears of pay remain
unsettled, which is a dangerous experiment; and the officers, although
possessing little authority with the troops under their command, are
among the disaffected. They are becoming troublesome neighbours on the
north-western frontier, especially as their country is so situated as
to interfere with our direct communication with the far-distant and
isolated position in Afghanistan. Under these circumstances, they must
necessarily be made either permanent friends or obedient subjects;
they will never become the former, and it will take a good many years
to reduce them to the latter alternative; yet, if we continue to hold
Afghanistan, it must be done.

At a distance of about six miles from Lahore, we passed the camp of the
main body of the Sikh army, consisting of about fifty thousand men and
one hundred and sixty pieces of cannon. Having pitched our camp about
four miles distant from this overwhelming host, we were invited by Sher
Singh to attend a review of the army, which he directed to be held that

On reaching their camp, it was already so late, that we had only time
to ride along their line, (which extended to an enormous distance,)
before sunset. Some of our officers, who had been with the previous
mission to Lahore, remarked regiments apparently of recent equipment.
On approaching the end of the line, torrents of abuse were lavished on
the British nation by the chivalrous Alkalees, who brandished their
weapons, shook their quoits, and behaved with incredible valour, if not
rashness, in exhibiting to four or five strangers and visitors what
a dangerous and formidable class the Alkalees were, and how much they
detested the Feringhees, even without knowing them.

These besotted fanatics, we were told, had done the old Lion some
service, when, excited by opium and exceeding pot-valour, they
dashed headlong into the ranks of their adversaries, who, being less
intoxicated than the Alkalees, or less capable of directing the effects
of their intoxication, gave way in confusion before these accomplished
drunkards. More worthy symbols of superstition could hardly be found
amongst the Fakeers and idiots[67] of the Hindoos.

The new regiments of cavalry, which appeared to have been equipped
or raised since our last rencontre at Ferozepore, were a brigade
of lancers, (a laughable caricature of the British regiment, which
they were intended to resemble,) two corps of cuirassiers, and some
mail-clad irregulars; the latter uncommonly fine, rough-and-ready
looking fellows--light troops which, well-handled, would cause much
inconvenience at outpost or guerilla-service, unless their appearance
belied them. I was told by an officer of an ingenious device which he
saw practised by the Sikh infantry. When wheeling into a parade-line, a
string had been laid on the ground, which was invisible to a looker-on
at a short distance, and when the word of command was given, each
regiment wheeled up to this mark, and thus formed a pretty correct
line without any trouble in dressing or posting markers. The evening
closed in so soon at this season, that we had little time afforded us
to observe their progress in manoeuvring, as the extensive line toiled
through the manoeuvre of changing front, whilst the artillery enveloped
the whole scene in dust and smoke. The Sikh artillery is, however,
beyond a doubt, the most effective branch of their service, working
with great rapidity, and firing with almost as much precision and
regularity as the British, who have been their model.

During the progress of this review, three or four officers, having
left their horses in charge of some Sikh soldiers, mounted the
elephants which had been sent by the Sikh sirdars as calculated to
give a better view of the field than could be obtained on horseback.
The review being over, these officers, returning to the spot where
their horses had been left, found, to their dismay, that chargers,
horse-trappings, and Sikhs had vanished. Search amongst such a host of
men and beasts, in the dusk of evening, presented very small chance of
success; so, endeavouring to reconcile their minds to the severity of
fate, they returned to camp. A complaint of the loss was immediately
forwarded by the British political agent to the Sikh authorities,
who promised that the horses should be recovered or their owners
indemnified. During our halt at Ferozepore, a few days afterwards, the
horses were restored to their owners, mainly owing, it is supposed,
to the enormous value attached by one of the officers to an animal
of decidedly unprepossessing appearance, whose unaccountable value
and good qualities were possibly known only to his master. The Sikh
thieves had been palpably ignorant of the value of their prize; for
this extraordinary charger, (though always belonging to the lean
kind,) had now been suffered to dwindle away until he became a close
resemblance of an engraving which I remember having seen, a few years
ago, in the London engravers' windows, entitled, "The Nightmare." The
facetious quadruped is represented with its head tied to a knocker, and
grinning in the face of the alarmed house-owner, who appears at the
door dressed in his night costume, with a rush-light in his hand and a
blunderbuss under his arm.

Several more petty thefts were committed on our camp whilst in the
vicinity of the Sikh army; and in some instances the dexterity of the
thieves was not inferior to that of the many renowned practitioners
throughout Hindostan.

Four days march from the Sikh camp brought us once more to the banks of
the Sutlej, which we crossed in boats, re-entering the provinces at the
point from which the army had started on this long and wearisome tour.
Ferozepore, which we had left a mean native town, was now embellished
with extensive, white-washed bazaars; and a neat little fort in the
centre of the town was occupying the attention of our engineers. The
ground, which had been covered by the canvas-abodes of a portion of
the army at the close of the year 1838, was now, in January, 1840, the
site of a large cantonment, which had risen, as if by magic, within the
space of fourteen months, and was then tenanted by three regiments of
native infantry and some artillery.[68]

From hence, we shortly afterwards dispersed in different directions,
to occupy our allotted quarters. We marched through Khytul and Kurnal,
to occupy our former quarters at Merut, which we had no sooner reached,
than the excitement of the campaign being over, the sufferings and
privations which all had undergone began to tell severely upon
their health, and many a gallant fellow was committed to his last
resting-place in the sombre burial-ground of Merut.


[Footnote 59: Punjaub means, literally, five rivers.]

[Footnote 60: "Mad as a hatter," is a favourite term of comparison.]

[Footnote 61: The chiefs take care to provide for this. Colonel Ford, a
British officer in Runjeet's service, had three villages given him for
pay, out of which he was allowed to make the most. This was the usual
practice; but the people are now growing stronger.]

[Footnote 62: The disposition of Eastern states, like the character
of froward children, may be tested by these trifling humours in their

[Footnote 63: For further information, I refer the reader to Dow's
"History of India."]

[Footnote 64: N.B.--Arbitrary rule, in his vocabulary, is explained to
mean, simply, any monarchy or empire.]

[Footnote 65: The author has made this discovery too late, and the next
sentence seals his fate.]

[Footnote 66: "Two Years and a Half in the American Navy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 67: An idiot is revered by the Hindoo, as a Heaven-afflicted

[Footnote 68: A fort on modern principles was soon after built in
cantonments, and quarters provided for a British regiment.]


T.C. Savill, Printer, 4, Chandos-street, Covent garden.

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