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Full text of "The second Afghan war, 1878-79-80 : its causes, its conduct and its consequences"

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' You say my roads are bad, and country is impassable. It is 
well ; I am pleased to hear you speak as you do. Now you under- 
stand how the powerful Tsar, who will not submit to three kings, 
can still do nothing with me, though he never ceases to send his armies 
against me. I do not venture to compare myself to those powerful 
sovereigns. I am Shamyl, a common Tartar ; but my bad roads, 
my woods, and my defiles make me much stronger than a good many 
monarchs. I ought to anoint all my trees with oil, and mix my mud 
with fragrant honey, so much do they tend to the salvation of my 
country." — Words spoken by Shamyl, the great Circassian leader, who 
held Russia in check for thirty-ftve years. 

" Triumph you may ; confident you may be, as I am, in the 
gallantry of your troops : but when through these gallantries the 
victory has been gained, and you have succeeded, then will come your 
difficulties." — The Duke of Wellington on the Invasion, of Afghanistan, 
in 1838. 

" If we pass into Afghanistan and occupy Kabul and Kandahar, and, 
as some say, we are going to do, occupy Herat — and I can see no limits 
to these operations — everything of that kind means a necessity for more 
money, and means a necessity for more men. From whence are the 
money and men to come ? What do you mean by this sort of strengthen- 
ing of the Empire ? It is sunply loading the Empire." — Mr. Glad- 
stone's second Midlothian Speech, 1879. 

" Articles of provisions are not to be trifled with, or left to chance ; 
and there is nothing more clear than that the subsistence of the troops 
must be certain upon the proposed service, or the service must be 
relinquished." — The Duke of Wellington. 







Formerly belonging to the Punjab Frontier 

Force and late Commanding at Delhi 

Author of "Indian Problems," etc. 


I. Strategical Map of Theatre of War 
II. Reconnaissance Sketch of Al,i Masjid 
III. Sketch to Illustrate Action on the Peiwar Mountain 



2 Whitehall Gardens 

Vol. a. 



THE SELwooD Printing works, 


JCV3-.>L^Y ^ 


C^fe-^A^ , 

Oxford. Qeogr-apHLcaJ. Irvsti 



I The Taking of Alt Masjid .... 1 

Tlie Turning Movement 

II The Taking of Ali Masjid .... 7 
The Front Attack 

III The Occupation of Dakka .... 29 

IV The Occupation of Jellalabad ... 38 
V The First Bazar Expedition .... 47 

VI The Occupation of the Kuram Forts . . 56 
VII Preliminary Operations on the Peiwar Moun- 
tain . ....... 61 

VIII Reconnoitring the Peiwar Mountain . . 68 

IX Action on the Peiwar Mountain ... 75 
The Turning Movement 
X Action on the Peiwar Kotal . ... 86 

The Front Attack 




XI The Reconnaissance of the Shutaegardan Pass 96 

The Passage of the Manjiar Defile 
XII Occupation of the Khojak Pass .... 109 

XIII Concentration of the Kandahar Field Force in 

PiSHIN 117 

XIV Public Opinion in England . . . .133 

Debates in Parliament 
XV The Last Days of Shere Ali . . . .144 
Regency of Yakub Khan 

XVI January, 1879 159 

XVII Punitive Expeditions 171 

Mohmand, Shinwari, and Bazar Expeditions 

XVIII Alarms and Excursions 191 

XIX The Invasion of Khost 200 

Attack on British Camp at Matun 

XX The Retirement from Khost . . . .218 

Rescue of the Matun Garrison 
XXI The Occupation of Kandahar . . . .231 

Action at the Ghlo Kotal Pass 
XXII Expedition to Khelat-i-Ghilzai . . . 243 

XXIII Expedition to tub Helmand .... 261 

XXIV Visit of the Commander-in-Chief to Jellalabad 276 
XXV The Occupation of Gandamak .... 282 

10th Hussars' Disaster ; Action at Futtehabad ; 
Kam Dakka Affair 



XXVI Visit of the Commander-in-Chief to the Kuram 304 
Advance to Alikhel 

XXVII The Retirement of Biddulph's Division . . 316 

Action at Baghao 

XXVIII Negotiations and Conclusion of Peace . . 336 


The Taking of Ali Masjid 


Just before sunset, on the 20th November, 1878, the 2nd Brigade of 
the Peshawar Valley Field Force,^ consisting of the Guides' Infantry, the 
1st Sikhs, and the 17th Foot^ under Brigadier- General J. A. Tytler, 
left its camp at Jamrud to begin the flank march, which was to ensure 
the completeness of Sir S. Browne's victory over the garrison of Ali 
Masjid. Speed being essential to success, and the difficulties pre- 
sented by the country to be traversed very great — tents, bedding 
and baggage were left behind, to be sent up later through the Pass ; 
and the troops took with them only a small hospital establishment, a 
reserve of ammmiition, two days'cooked rations, and a supply of water 
stored in big leathern bags, known as pukkals,^ in addition to their 
great-coats, seventy rounds of ammunition, and one day's cooked ra- 
tions carried by each man. Unfortunately, the greater part of the 
transport allotted to the Brigade consisted of bullocks instead of mules 

1 Approximate strength — -40 British oflEicers, 1,700 men, of whom 600 were 

2 This regiment had spent the summer in the Mi.irree Hills, where it had 
been carefully trained for the work that lay before it. Evatt, inhis Recollections, 
says " that it was about the last of the long-service battalions of that army 
which was just then disappearing before the short-service system, and better 
specimens of that old r6gime could not be seen than the men of the 17th, who, 
for weight and space occupied per man, were probably 30 per cent, heavier, and 
much broader than the younger soldiers of to-day." 

3 These bags vary in size according to the nature of the anunal on which 
they are placed, but every camel, mule, or bullock carries one on each side, and 
the bheesHs have to exercise much discretion in drawing water, so that the 
two pukkals may continue to balance each other to the end. 

1 B 


-a mistake which was to leave the men without food for over twenty- 
four hours. Darkness soon closed in upon the column, and when the 
comparatively easy road across the Jam plain gave place to an ill- 
defined track running up a deep ravine, sometimes on one side of a moun- 
tain stream, sometimes on the other, sometimes in its very bed, even 
the Native guides, men of the district, familiar with its every rock and 
stone, were often at fault; the transport animals blundered into the 
midst of the troops; one corps lost touch with another; a large part 
of the 17th Regiment wandered away from the path, and was with 
difficulty brought back to it by the shouting and whistUng of its com- 
mander- and there was so much confusion and so many delays that 
it was ten o'clock before the force, tired and cold, the men's boots and 
putties^ soaked through and through, from frequent crossing and re- 
crossing of the Lashora River, arrived at the httle hamlet of the same 
name. Here it settled down to such rest as could be obtained under 
these uncomfortable conditions, for fires were out of the question, 
where there was no certainty that hidden foes might not be lurking 

close at hand. 2 

The 1st Brigade, consisting of the 4th BattaUon Rifle Brigade, the 
4th Gurklias, the 20th Punjab Infantry, and the Hazara Mountain 
Battery ,=» fared even worse than the 2nd, for it had to begin the 
day with marching from Hari Singh-ka-Burj to Jamrud, where it 
arrived to find, to the disgust of its commander, Brigadier-General 

1 » All the troops on this occasion wore woollen putties, or bandages, round 
the legs in place of gaiters. Now, these are excellent in the snows where they 
were first worn ; but after being wetted, they dry on the legs, tighten, and cause 
stiffness and cramp. . . . I have no doubt many men, both of the Ist and 
2nd Brigades, were hampered and hurt by these bandages durmg the long 
marches of November 21st and 22nd, without knowing the cause. -G. H. 

. In the recent Tirah Campaign, the men suffered terribly from the enforce- 
ment of this essential precaution. 

3 Approximate strength-45 British officers, 1,900 men, of whom 600 were 

Europeans, and four guns. 


Macpherson, that the supphes and transport which ought to have 
been awaiting it, were not ready, and to be kept hanging about till 
eleven p.m. before it could make a fresh start. Wliat with the 
darkness/ what with the practical absence of a road, and what 
with the difficulty of getting the laden bullocks along, the subsequent 
march proved very trying, and the position of the troops throughout 
the night was, potentially, one of great peril, for, if the Mohmands 
had come down the eastern slopes of the Rotas Heights, and fallen upon 
them as they stumbled and groped their way along the Lashora ravine, 
Macpherson would have had to choose between a retreat or an advance 
up the steep mountain side, three thousand feet high, in pursuit of 
an invisible enemy, and exposed to a shower of rocks and stones — 
missiles which every hill-man knows well how to handle. Fortunately, 
no such alternative was presented to him, and the head of the column 
— the rear-guard being still far behind — reached Lashora between 
six and seven o'clock on the morning of the 21st, just as the 2nd Brigade 
was preparing to leave it, and halted to lock up and give Tytler a fair 

The latter did his best to get and keep well ahead, but though 
his Brigade, led by that active and energetic officer. Colonel F. H. 
Jenkins, pushed on as fast as it could, its progress was painfully slow. 
The column, advancing in single file, extended over a distance of 
nearly three miles, and, as the sun rose high in the heavens, the reflected 
heat from the bare, slaty rocks became almost insupportable, and 
there were no trees to give the men shade, or springs to slake their 
thirst. For the first four miles, the road continued to ascend the 
Lashora ravine, between low hills on the right hand, and rocky, 
overhanging spurs a thousand feet high, on the left ; on issuing thence, 
it dwindled to a mere goat-track, which ran uphill and downhill, 

^ The escort in charge of the mules carrying the reserve ammunition of two 
of the regiments lost their way in the dark, and after vainly trying to regain 
the track, returned to Jamrud. 


scaling cliffs and dropping into gorges, the shaly soil at every step 
slipping away from under the feet of men, mules and bullocks, 
retarding the advance of the two former, and almost bringing the 
latter to a standstill, so that it was two o'clock in the afternoon when 
the column, having crossed the Sajaparai, or Grassy Flats, leading up to 
the watershed, arrived at Pani Pal, at the foot of the Pass connecting 
the Rotas Heights with the Tartara Mountain, the highest peak in 
this group of hills. Here a wide and varied view became suddenly 
visible. Far away to the north, the snowcapped Himalayas gleamed 
in the sunshine ; to the south, the broad Indus washed the base of 
Fort Attock, and wound through the salt hills and plains of the Derajat ; 
whilst to the west, almost immediately below the wilderness of rocks 
in which the invaders had halted, lay, in deep shadow, the yawning 
chasm of the Khyber. A magnificent prospect ; but a spring of 
cool, fresh water which was soon discovered, had more attractions for 
the hot and thirsty troops ; and Tytler's whole attention was absorbed 
in scanning the country for a possible enemy, and trying to trace 
the course of the three paths which branch off from this commanding 
point. One of these runs, northward by a circuitous and compara- 
tively easy route, through Mohmand territory to the Khyber ; the 
second descends abruptly to the same Pass through the gorge which 
separates the Tartara Mountain from the Rotas Heights ; and the 
third follows the crest of those heights to their highest point, just 
over Ali Masjid. It was by the second of these roads that the column 
was to find its way down to Kata Kushtia, and Tytler, though hard 
pressed for time, felt so strongly that he must not entangle his troops 
in such difficult ground without fii'st ascertaining whether danger 
would threaten their left flank and rear, that he decided to halt his 
Force, whilst Jenkins and a Company of the Guides reconnoitred 
towards the heights. Scarcely had this party left Pani Pal when a 
strange reverberation filled the air, which Jenkins, on laying his ear 
to the ground, at once pronounced to be the booming of heavy guns ; 


and as the reconnoitrers drew near to the edge of the ridge overlooking 
Ali Mas j id, the sound of Ai'tillery fire became more and more clear 
and distinct. So far, though cave-dwelhngs and patches of cultiva- 
tion had occasionally been passed, with, here and there, the tower of 
some robber cliieftain, the country, but for one small band of mar- 
auders, which exchanged shots with the head of the column, had 
appeared to be entirely deserted by its inhabitants ; now a large 
number of armed Mohmands came, suddenly, into sight, rushing down 
the liillside, and Jenkins fell back upon Pani Pal to report what he 
had heard and seen. 

The news that the main body of the Division was engaged with 
the enemy, quickly spread through the ranks, and the men, forgetting 
fatigue and hunger — the last of the food carried by them had been 
eaten before lea\ang Lashora, and the bullocks carrying the rest of 
the rations had long since parted company with the troops — were 
eager to push on. But Tytler saw clearly that the circumstances in 
which he now found himseK, demanded a change in the original plan, 
by which the whole of his force was to take up its position across the 
Khyber defile. As the Mohmands v/ere evidently present in great 
strength and hostilely inclined, as his hospital establishment and 
commissariat were six miles in rear, and the Brigade which ought 
to have covered his left flank, was also behind — by abandoning Pani 
Pal, he would not only lose his communications with the latter and 
expose the former to the risk of being cut off and captured, but would 
leave open the road by which the Mohmand contingent in Ali Masjid 
might retire from that fortress after its fall, or by which it could be 
reinforced in case that fall should be delayed. Very reluctantly, 
therefore, though with soldier-like promptness, he made up his mind 
to send Jenkins with the Guides and the major portion of the 1st 
Sikhs, to Kata Kushtia, whilst he himself, with a detachment of 
the latter corps and Her Majesty's 17th Regiment, remained at Pani 
Pal to guard Jenkins's rear and keep in touch with Macpherson. 


That General, having detached the 20th Punjab Infantry, under 
Major H. W. Gordon, to cover his left, had resumed his march at 
8 a.m., and, following in Tytler's wake, had soon overtaken that 
officer's commissariat bullocks, which so blocked the narrow path 
that the troops had considerable difficulty in forcing their way through 
them. Between two and three o'clock, the column arrived at the lower 
edge of the Flats (Sapparai), previously mentioned, where it was 
fortunate enough to find a little water. By this time the men, who 
had been over thirty hours under arms, were so worn out that Colonels 
Newdigate and Turton reported their respective regiments, the Rifle 
Brigade and the 4th Gurkhas, unfit to go further,^ and Macpherson, 
like Tytler, had to accept the responsibility of modifying the part 
assigned to him in the common programme and, to some extent, for 
the same reason, viz., the danger to which his hospital and com- 
: issariat transport would be exj)osed if, by pushing on to the summit 
of the Rotas Heights, he were to put it out of his power to protect 
them during the dark hours which were close at hand. On the Flats, 
then, the main body of the turning party bivouacked on the evening 
of the 21st of November ; whilst the flanking regiment, after many 
hours of stiff climbing, during the course of which it had been threat- 
ened by a large number of Mohmands, established itself at dusk on 
the top of Turhai, a ridge parallel to, and immediately under the 
Rotas Heights. 

1 " I asked Colonel Newdigate and Colonel Turton if their men could go on, 
and they said they were quite exhausted. There was no water further on, and 
the whole of the baggage might have been carried off and the escort cut up if 
wo had deserted it, and Tytler's baggage was all behind my Brigade." 

Extract from General Macpherson's Journal. 

The Taking of Ali Masjid 


The arrangements for the advance of the main body of the Peshawar 
Valley Field Force ^ had been completed on the evening of November 
20th, by the issuing of an order that no baggage should accompany the 
column to add to its responsibiHties and hamper its movements, nor 
any transport animals other than the mules set apart to carry the three 
days' cooked rations, which were to suffice for the needs of the troops 
till, Ali Masjid having fallen, the Pass would be open to the free 
passage of impedimenta of all kinds, which, meantime, were to 
remain at Jamrud in charge of the 45th Sikhs. 

Before daybreak on the 21st, Sir Samuel Browne and his Staff had 
taken up a position on some high ground a little beyond the British 
camp, and, as the sun rose, it showed them all the hill-tops crowned 
by groups of Afridis, intently watching the movements of the long 
column, which was already wdnding its way through the Jam plain 
towards the entrance of the Shadi Bagiar defile. ^ Two companies of 
Sappers and Mners led the van, accompanied by their regimental 
mules carrying intrenching and road-making tools, also by a wing of 
the 81st Foot, and one of the 14th Sikhs, furnished by the 3rd Brigade 
to protect and assist them in the work of smoothing and widening the 
stony track so as to render it practicable for the heavy guns drawn by 

1 Approximate strength — 110 British officers, 4,500 men, of whom 1,700 were 
Europeans, and 22 gmis. 

2 Shadi Bagiar — Wolf's mouth. 



elephants, and of ramping the sides of the numerous drainage lines 
which intersect this stretch of comparatively open country. The 
advanced guard was followed by the Artillery ; that, by the 3rd Brigade, 
the 4th Brigade bringing up the rear ; whilst a signalling party, under 
Major H. B. Pearson, which had been detached to occupy the Sarkai 
Hill, succeeded, later in the day, in establishing heliographic com- 
munication with Jamrud. 

In the Shadi Bagiar ravine, the troops struck the road built during 
the first Afghan War by Colonel Mackeson, Commissioner of Peshawar. 
It was found to be in a fair state of preservation, except in a few places 
where it had been damaged by floods. These were easily repaired, and, 
after a flanking party consisting of detachments of the 81st Foot, 
14th Sikhs, and a Mountain Battery, had been sent up a gully to occupy 
some heights from which they could cover its advance, the column 
pushed steadily on. About 10 a.m., the advanced guard reached 
the summit of the long, low, stony Shahgai Ridge, where it quickly 
deployed, and threw out skirmishers, who exchanged shots with the 
Afghan pickets and forced them to retire on Ali Masjid, which had 
now come into sight, about two thousand five hundred yards distant, 
in a northerly direction. The Khyber River, which here takes a sudden 
turn to westward, flows sixty feet below the ridge, and on its right 
bank, between Browne's Force and the Afghan fortress, lay a tangled 
maze of hills and ravines, clothed with low shrubs and tall coarse grass, 
in which any number of tribesmen might be lurking ; whilst, on its 
left bank, advance was rendered excessively difficult, and the dis- 
positions of the enemy were effectually concealed from view by a series 
of rocky spurs, thrown off from the precii^itous south-western face of 
the Rotas Heights. Those dispositions did credit to their author — 
possibly some British pensioner or deserter from the Indian Army, 
who had acquired his knowledge of the art of fortification when 
serving in the Sappers and Miners. The Afghan position stretched 
right across the valley of the Khyber River, and embraced not only 


the isolated hill on which Ali Masjid is perched/ but two other 
eminences. The first of these— a semicircular ridge eight hundred 
yards long, broken by three peaks— stretches from the Khyber River 
in the direction of the Bazar Valley, its southern face five hundred 
yards in advance, and a little to westward of the Ali Masjid Hill, 
from which its northern side is separated by a rocky gorge. This 
ridge, two hundred feet higher than the Fort which it completely 
dominates, is extremely difficult of access, its upper slopes being ex- 
cessively precipitous ; and the Afghans had shown that they recog- 
nized its tactical imioortance by erecting stone breastworks along its 
crest, and small redoubts on each of the three peaks, the whole line 
being defended by eight light guns. 

The gorge, previously mentioned, divides after running back some 
little distance ; one branch of it sweeping round to the north-west, 
the other, to the north-east. Between them, facing east and completely 
hidden from the Shahgai Plateau by the ridge just descri!)ed, rises 
the second hill, covering the western front of Ali Masjid, and com- 
manding from its summit the whole length of the gorge ; here two 
breastworks had been thrown up to shelter the Afghan riflemen. 

AH Masjid itself, hardly distinguishable from the grey rock on 
which it rests, was, at that time, an oblong building a hundred and 
sixty feet long by sixty broad, with circular towers connected by 
curtain walls, standing on the flat summit of a detached hill, which 
rises to a height of three hundred and fifty feet above the river that 
washes its eastern base. On the southern face of the Fort which looks 
to the Shahgai Ridge, eight heavy cannon had been mounted ; two 
more had been placed in position behind breastworks constructed in 
the face of the cliff, a hundred and fifty feet below the walls ; and, 
lower still, a single gun swept vnth. its fire the right bank of the Khyber 
River. Nor had the left bank of that stream been omitted from the 

1 Ali Masjid is about six miles from the eastern mouth of the Khyber Pass, and 
nine miles from Jamrud. 


Afghan engineer's plan of defence ; for, on precipitous cliflfs, near the 
foot of the Rotas Heights, joined together by entrenchments and a 
rough covered way, more stone works had been built up, and armed 
with five guns, to command the approaches on that side of the river, 
and enfilade the low ground in the vicinity of the three fortified hills.^ 
The garrison of this great fortress, consisting of three thousand regular 
infantry, six hundred militia, twenty-four guns, and two hundred 
cavalry, was, in point of numbers, adequate to its defence, and it had 
in Faiz Mahomed a brave and determined commander ; but its strength 
had been weakened by sickness, and the morale of the troops impaired 
by the knowledge that they stood alone, with no supports or reserves 
within reach, surrounded by tribes who, though of the same blood 
as themselves, regarded them with jealous eyes, and were as certain 
to fall upon them, in the event of defeat, as to snatch from them a large 
share of the spoils of victory, should they succeed in repelling the 
British attack. 

Sir Samuel Browne having secured the safety of his flanks by 
placing strong observation parties on suitable ground, proceeded to 
examine the Afghan position so far as it could be seen from the Shahgai 
Ridge. As the result of this examination, he ordered Applej^ard, with 
the 3rd Brigade, to drop down into the valley of the Khyber, which 
here flows in a broad and shingly bed, and to occupy the abandoned 
village of Lala Chena, ready, the moment Macpherson's Brigade came 
into sight on Rotas, to advance and carrj^ by assault the semicircular 
hill which has been showTi to be the key of the Afghan position. In 

1 Mr. Archibald Forbes, the well-known war-correspondent, who was present 
with the Force during the action and who carefully examined the position after- 
wards, wTites : — " The excessive labour which must have been expended in 
arming the position moved one's sui'prise and admiration. Guns had been hauled 
up precipices, and great stores of ammunition accumulated about them. One 
three-gun battery on the proper left of the Khyber River was perched on a mere 
ledge about half-way up the face of a beetling crag, and its guns covered the level 
sweep along which lay the only line of approach to the Afghan camp at the mouth 
of the defile commencing at Ali Masjid." 


the meanwhile, the sappers and miners, under the protection of a wing 
of the 14th Sikhs, were set to work to render the steep and rugged path 
leading down to the valley, practicable for artillery, and detachments 
of the 81st and 51st Foot were directed to take possession of the nearest 
of the Rotas spurs, in order to cover Appleyard's right flank and to 
watch the enemy holding the true left of the Afghan position ; whilst 
the Cavalry Brigade, under Brigadier-General C. Gough, was drawn 
up on the reverse slope of the Shahgai Heights. Wliile these movements 
were in progress, the two guns of the Royal Horse Artillery, with 
elephant equipment which had come up with the advanced guard, 
opened fire, at a distance of two thousand eight hundred yards, on 
the enemy's fortifications. Their guns promptly replied, and, as the 
Afghan gunners had previously ascertained the correct ranges all 
round AU Masjid, their practice was admirable ; and had they used live 
shell instead of round shot, the British losses would have been heavy. 
At noon, the Elephant Battery, consisting of three 40-pounder B.L. 
Armstrongs, under Major C. W. Wilson, and the 3rd Battery under Major 
T. M. Hazlerigg, came into action, the latter a few hundred yards in ad- 
vance of, and to the right of the former. At first their fire was not 
very accurate, the shells either dashing against the great mass of rock 
that rises close behind Ali Masjid, or falling into the deep gorge between 
the two hills ; but, the correct range once found, the parapets of the 
Fort were quickly reduced to ruins and considerable loss inflicted on 
their defenders. Yet, the enemy's artillery was only partially silenced, 
and the Afghan gunners stuck with remarkable tenacity to their guns. 
At two o'clock, the British ammunition began to run short, the wagons 
carrying the spare powder and shot were far in the rear, and there was 
still no sign of Macpherson's Brigade. The situation, from the political 
point of view, was, in Cavagnari's opinion, growing critical ; for he 
feared that, unless the Afghans were attacked, the Afridis and IMoli- 
mands would go over to them in a body, a secession which might 
oblige Sir S. Browne to remain on the defensive till reinforcements 


could reach him. Influenced by the PoHtical Officer's opinion, the 
General took ujd a more commanding position on high ground beyond 
Lala Chena, and ordered Appleyard to press forward without waiting 
for Macpherson's co-operation; the Mountain Battery, 11.9 Royal 
Artillery, to estabhsh itself at a point from which it could support 
him by shelling the fortifications he was about to attack ; and the 
4th Brigade, under Brigadier-General W. B. Brown, consisting of 
the 51st Light Infantry and the 6th Bengal Infantry, to cover his 
right flank by advancing along the rocks under Rotas, and driving 
the enemy from its spurs. Hardly had these orders been given than 
the Afghan fire which had slackened for a time, burst forth with 
renewed energy, whilst the British guns on the ridge, o-\ving to the 
threatened failure of their ammunition, were unable to reply with 
corresponding vigour. Major T. C. Manderson's troop of horse- 
artillery, however, with an escort of the lOtli Hussars and a company of 
Sappers, found its way dowa to the bed of the river, where, at a range of 
a thousand yards, it took up a good position for shelling the Afghan 
works on the semicircular hill, though not without drawing on itself 
a rather heavy fire from the enemy's guns. 

The movement along the base of Rotas was soon brought to a 
standstill by a precipitous cliff crowned by the enemy's skirmishers ; 
and, though Appleyard did his best to carry out his instructions, 
progress, owing to the intricate nature of the ground, was so slow that 
Sir S. Bro^-ne, seeing the impossibility of pushing the attack home 
before dusk, and feeling certain that, by morning, the movements of 
Tytler and Macpherson would have shaken the enemy's confidence, 
determined to postpone the assault till daybreak. Unfortunately, 
before Lord William Beresford to whom he entrusted the dangerous 
task of conveying a message to Appleyard, could reach the 3rd Brigade, 
part of its troops were already in action. Very injudiciously, the 27th 
Punjab Infantry, commanded by Major H. Birch, and a detachment 
of the 14th Sikhs, under Lieutenant F, G. Maclean, had been allowed 


to get far ahead of the rest of the Brigade ; ^ and, unconscious that the 
bulk of the troops had ceased to afford them support, these isolated 
bodies continued to fight their way up the steep sides of the ridge, 
Maclean leading, on the right, with his Sikhs ; Birch, on the left, with 
a portion of his Punjabis ; and the remainder of the 27th, under 
Captain Swetenham, some distance in the rear.^ Suddenly, issuing 
from thick jungle, the Sikhs found themselves under a heavy fire. 
Pressing boldly on, they succeeded in getting within sixty yards of the 
breastworks, but here, Maclean having been shot through the shoulder, 
they had to seek temporary shelter under a cliff and to call back for 
assistance to the Punjabis. Birch, with a few of his men, rushed to 
their aid, to be shot dead before he could reach tliem.^ His lieuten- 
ant, Fitzgerald, seeing him fall, dashed forward with fifteen of the Sikhs 
to try to recover his body, but the enemy's fire proved too deadly. 
Fitzgerald, twice wounded in the rush, was struck for the third time 
and killed outright in the very act of raising Birch, and most of his men 
shared his fate.* 

1 " The point in doubt is whether the 81st Foot were ordered to attack at 
the same time as the 14th Siklis and the 27th Punjabis, or whether they were held 
in reserve to support the attack as it developed. It seems, however, that they 
did in part advance and were recalled. The accoimts vary so far, as I am aware, 
but this I know, that no European soldier came back wounded from the assault, 
nor was any dead European soldier foimd on the hillside next morning, so that 
it is evident that the brunt of the attack did not come on them, but on the Native 
regiments of the Brigade." — Evatt's Eecollections. 

2 IMr. Archibald Forbes says that " Swetenham heard the call, but, with an 
acceptance of responsibihty which does him perhaps more credit than would the 
successful command of a forlorn hope, he dared to disobey it, for the sound had not 
reached Birch and Maclean, out there to his front, on the steep slope trending 
up to the Afghan position. . . . Had Swetenham obeyed the recall, he would 
have left them to their fate, and he held that his higher duty was to disobey and 
follow the fortunes of his advance." 

^ " Whilst examining the bullet of Captain Birch, which was in the 
region of the heart, it was found that a locket containing a picture of his wife had 
been carried into the wound by the bullet." — Evatt's Beeollections. 

* During the night several men of the 27th Pimjab Infantry crept up to the 


The position of the assaulting party was now extremely critical, 
but, fortunately, the Commanding Engineer, Colonel F. R. Mannsell, 
who arrived, at this juncture, at the foot of the slopes and assumed 
command of all the troops in the neighbourhood, prevented the enemy 
from improving his success by pushing forward a company of sappers, 
and ordering up every available man from the rear ; and at nightfall, 
when hostilities had ceased all over the field of operations, Maclean and 
his Sikhs stole from the shelter of the cliffs, and fell back on the 27th 
Punjab Infantry.^ 

Sir S. Browne, who had spent an anxious day, was destined to spend 
a yet more anxious night. Of the 1st and 2nd Brigades, he had still 
no tidings ; the 3rd Brigade, broken up into various small bodies, was 
in a dangerous position, scattered over a difficult and intricate country, 
where low scrub and high grass offered the enemy every advantage, in 
case the Afridis and Mohmands should combine with the Amir's 
troops in a night attack ; the 4th Brigade was cut off from rendering 
assistance to the 3rd by the river and the numerous drainage lines 
which intersect the valley ; the artillery ammunition was nearly ex- 
hausted, and the wagons with fresh supplies were still in the Pass, 
strugghng painfully forward in the face of the difficulties unavoidable 
where crowds of undisciplined camp followers, commissariat animals 
and vehicles are cooped up in a narrow and steep defile. 

bodies of their officers, and, with the devotion so often displaj^ed by the Native 
soldier towards his British leader, sat by them till da^vn, when they were 
removed and sent to Peshawar for burial. 

^ It had seemed for a time as if Sii- S. Browne's force would be left wntliout 
any hospital establishment, for the order issued on the evening of the 20th, for- 
bidding any but mule transport to enter the Pass, paralysed the action of a de- 
partment to which only camels had been allotted. Fortimately, Surgeon-Major 
Evatt was a man of resource. He obtained permission from the principal medical 
officer at Jamrud to pack a number of doolies with blankets, brandy, beef-tea 
and dressings, and he and Surgeon-Major Creagh managed to force their way to 
the front, where they arrived just as the men wounded in the assault, were 
being carried down to the river. 



Main Body. 

On the Sliahgai Heights — 

E Battery, 3rd Brigade Royal Artillery. 

13th Battery, 9th Brigade Royal Ai-tillery (heavy guns). 

3 Troops 10th Hussars. 

2 Squadrons 11th Bengal Lancers. 

2 Squadrons Guides Cavalry. 
In front of Shahgai Heights on right bank of Khyber River — 

Brown's Brigade. 

81st Foot. 

1 4th Siidis. 

27th Punjab Infantry. 
In the bed of the Khyber River below Shahgai Heights — 

I Battery, C Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, escorted by a troop 10th 
Hussars, and covered by the 2nd and 3rd Companies of Sappers and 
On a spur of the Rotas Heights, to the right, overlooking the Khyber River — 

Appleyard's Brigade. 

11th Battery, 9th Brigade Royal Ai'tillery (mountain guns). 

51st Light Infantry. 

6th Bengal Infantry. 
Troops belonging to Main Body had cooked rations, but no warm clothing. 

TuBNiNG Force. 
Macpherson's Brigade — 

On Sapparai Plateau, its left flank covered by four companies 20th Punjab 
Tytler's Brigade — 

Part at Pani Pal ; part at KataKhustia, commanding the road through the 

Khyber Pass. 

The troops belonging to Turning Force had neither food nor warm cloth- 

With the dawn came rehef from anxiety. Just after Sir. S. Browne 

had ordered an assault in force, and whilst he was awaiting the occu- 

1 Technical phrase used by Napoleon to denote strength, position, and con- 
dition of a Force. 

2 See sketch of dispositions for the attack on Ali Masjid. 


pation of some commanding ground on his right preparatory to the 
advance, news was brought in by a Kashmere trader that, on the 
pre^^ous evening, the enemy had heard that Tytler had crossed the 
Sapparai, and that he himseK had seen the Afghan cavalry escaping up 
the Khyber defile. A little later. Lieutenant J. J. S. Chisholme of the 
9th Lancers, rode up to report that he had just spoken with Captain 
Beresford, R.E., who, with another engineer officer and a small party 
of men, had crept forward at peep of day, to reconnoitre Ali Masjid, 
and had discovered that the place had been evacuated during the night. 
On this confirmation of the welcome news — for an assault would have 
entailed a great loss of life — the General and his Staff scrambled 
down to the enemy's encampment, which they found in a state of the 
utmost confusion, and of indescribable filth. Food and clothing, 
arms and ammunition, lay scattered about in every direction, and in 
the tents were many sick and wounded men. From the camp, General 
Browne ascended to the Fort, where, amid the ruins created by his 
guns, many more wounded were found, abandoned by their comrades 
in their hasty flight. All were removed as soon as possible to the 
field hospital, and later on to Peshawar. 

The portion of Tytler's Brigade which had given Ali Masjid so 
easily into Sir S. Browne's hands, had begun the descent to Kata 
Kushtia about three o'clock in the afternoon of the 21st. The waylay 
down a deep, dark, narrow ravine, sometimes in the bed of the torrent, 
sometimes through thorny acacia scrub. Climbing over boulders, 
scrambhng through difficult places on hands and knees, sliding down 
rocks so steep and high that return would have been impossible, each 
man, in turn, handing down his rifle to the comrade in front of him — the 
Guide Infantry and the 1st Sikhs made such despatch, that by 4.30, 
they had reached a rocky ledge a hundred feet above the little hamlet 
of Kata Kushtia, and about two miles in rear of Ali Masjid. Here, 
Jenkins decided to await the result of the engagement which he knew 
to be still proceeding. His force was too small and too exhausted 


with fatigue and hunger to assume the offensive, whilst its presence in 
the strong defensive position he had taken up, might be expected to 
reaHze the hopes which had been built on its advance. News of its 
arrival in the Khyber was certain to reach the garrison of Ah Masjid 
before long, and, unless the day had gone against Sir S. Browne's main 
body, the fear of being taken between two fires and having their retreat 
cut off, would exercise its usual dispiriting influence on the Afghans. 
Such a contingency as a failure of the front attack on Ali Masjid, 
was not so utterly impossible that it could be left entirely out of 
account, and Jenkins and his men must have had some very uneasy 
moments when they recalled the frightful difficulties of the road by 
which they had come, the swarms of Mohmands and Afridis whom 
they had seen on the hill tops, and had to tell themselves that no help 
could be looked for from the comrades whom they had left behind 
them at Pani Pal. At first, however, they had small time for such 
reflections, for hardly had they lined the rocks commanding the defile 
than a party of Afghan cavalry came leisurely trotting up the Pass. 
A volley from eight hundred rifles, at a distance of from three to 
five hundred yards, startled them out of their security, and sent 
some of them galloping back to Ah Masjid, whilst others dashed boldly 
forward and made good their escape. Presently, a second body of 
cavalry trotted round the spur close to Jenkins's position. Catching 
sight of his troops, they hesitated for a moment, then, urging their 
horses to their utmost speed, they, too, rushed past under a storm of 
bullets, leaving, hke their predecessors, several of their number on the 
ground. When they had disappeared. Captain A. G. Hammond, of 
the Guides, proposed to take a company and occupy Kata Kushtia, 
thus completely blocking the Pass, but Jenkins refused to entertain 
the proposal. Darkness was falling ; the sound of firing beyond Ali 
Masjid had died away. What had been the result of the engagement 
he had no means of knowing ; and to weaken liis force by dividing it, 
and expose a small body of his men to a possible attack under conditions 



which would prevent his coming to their assistance, seemed to him 
unjustifiable. Therefore, as there was no further chance of work that 
night, and no hope of food before morning, the troops lay down among 
the rocks, whilst their commander wrote the following letter to Sir S. 
Browne which he entrusted to one of his own men, with orders to 
find his way, as best he could, to Head Quarters, accompanied by one 
of the prisoners just taken. 

Kata Kushtia, 

November 21st, 1878. 

My dear Sir Sam, — 

I am here with Guides and 1st Sikhs. The enemy's cavalry came 
undei our fire from three to five hundred yards, and after considerable 
loss galloped up the valley in disorder. No infantry and guns have 
come our way. 

1st Brigade and rest of 2nd are at Pani Pal ; the road between 
that place and this is very difficult, and our mules could not come down, 
consequently we are very hungry, both officers and men. If you can 
signal to 2nd Brigade, I should like the mules with our food to come 
down to Tor Tang and then on to us ; the road between that place 
and Pani Pal is very easy, I believe. I presume, of course, that the 
Rotas mountain is in our hands. I send a prisoner, a cavalry man 
— he at one time belonged to the Indian army — who may give you 

I shall hunt for flour in Kata Kustia as soon as it is daylight, but 
I expect these fellows have cleaned the place right out ; you have no 
flour to send me, I suppose ? ? ? I hardly think the men could march 
without some food. 

Yours sincerely, 

F. H. Jenkins. 


Early the following morning three hundred Afghan Infantry, led by 
an officer on horseback, approached Jenkins's position, but, seeing the 
troops drawn up to receive them, they broke their ranks and tried to 
make good their escape up the rocky sides of the defile. It would have 
been easy to shoot them all do-RTi, but Jenkins, unwilling to kill brave 
men caught in a trap, sent one of the captured horsemen to assure them 
that, if they surrendered, they would be well treated. On receipt of 
this message, the Afghan ofiicer recalled the fugitives, and, forming 
them up, made them pile arms, at the same time tendering his own 
sword to Jenkins, who courteously returned it to him. Then, much to 
the astonishment and delight of the prisoners, they were allowed to sit 
down and eat the food they carried with them. This detachment had 
held the outlying pickets of Ali Masjid during the night of the 21st, 
and only at daybreak of the 22nd, had its commander discovered that 
he and his men had been deserted by the rest of the garrison, who, 
finding the Khyber closed against them, had hastily decided to retire 
on Jellalabad by the Bazar Valley. 

Tytler and Macpherson had been undisturbed during the night, but 
with the return of day numerous bodies of Mohmands and Afridis 
were seen moving about the hills ; and the former general, fearing lest 
they should cut his communications with his lieutenant at Kata 
Kushtia, determined to descend at once into the Khyber with the 17th 
Regiment, leaving the Sikhs strongly entrenched at Pani Pal. In their 
joy at this decision the troops forgot their hunger — successive messen- 
gers despatched during the night had failed to bring up the commis- 
sariat train — and they acliieved the descent of the ravine in high 
spirits, to be met on issuing from it by the good news of Sir S. Browne's 
success. In a surprisingly short time, they fraternized with the Afghan 
prisoners, who were quite willing to share their cakes with such friendly 
foes ; indeed, it was well for the whole Brigade that the retreating 
Afghans had been amply supplied with provisions, as, but for what they 
could spare, the_men of this column had no food till midnight of the 


22nd, when a half ration sent from Ali Masjid was served out to them. 

Macpherson's Brigade had been even earher afoot than Tytler's. 
Crossing the Flats, and turning southward at Pani Pal, it followed 
the track along which Jenkins had reconnoitred the previous day ; 
first, over rolling, grassy dowTis, and then, over broken, rocky ground, 
thickly strewn with boulders. Before reaching the Rotas Heights 
it fell in with the messenger carrjdng Jenkins's letter to Sir S. Browne. 
A little further on, the 20th Punjab Infantry, their special task 
accomplished, rejoined the Brigade, bringing with them fifty prisoners 
whom they had captured after a brush with a body of two hundred 
Mohmand fugitives, upon whom they had unexpectedly stumbled.^ 
Satisfied by the information he had now received, that he should 
meet with no opposition, Macpherson ordered the 20th, the Gurklias 
and guns to await his return, and pressed forward with the Rifle 
Brigade to the summit of the heights, where he found the sangars 
defending the Mohmands' late position intact, but deserted. From 
that commanding point, the course of events in the valley at their 
feet had been clearly visible to the tribesmen, and the moment they 
perceived that Ali Masjid had changed hands, they abandoned all 
thought of resisting the invaders and dispersed to their villages. 

After enjoying for a brief moment the sight of the British flag 

floating on the ruined walls of the Afghan stronghold, Macpherson 

retraced his steps to the spot where he had left the bulk of his force, 

and thence led the whole of the 1st Brigade down to the Khyber by 

the Tor Tangi, or Black Defile, a gully in what the General himself 

characterized as " the most curious pile of mountains ever traversed 

by soldiers." Night soon overtook it on its perilous way, and only 

by setting fire to the bushes and grass could the men keep the track, 

any deviation from which meant certain death. Food, of course, 

they had none, and, what was far worse, they met with little or no 

1 The command of the detachment had devolved on Captain W. H. Meikle- 
john, as Major Gordon had been disabled by a fall. 


water on the day's march. Yet nothing could have exceeded their 
cheerfulness and alacrity. Even when after hours of " slipping 
down rocks and floundering about in the dark " they had to bivouack 
at midnight, hungry and thirsty, without shelter or warm clothing, 
not a grumble was to be heard, and their commander might well 
declare that he " was delighted with his men." 

As Sir S. Browne was forbidden by his instructions to operate in 
the country lying to the south of the Khyber, it was impossible for 
him to follow up the Afghan Infantry in their retreat through the 
Bazar Valley, but the fate of these unfortunates was far harder than 
that which would have awaited them had they fallen into his hands ; 
for, though the Afridis spared their lives, they robbed them of their 
arms, supplies and clothing, and left them, starving and naked, to 
find their way, as best they could, across the mountains to Jellalabad ; 
whereas the sick whom they had left behind at Ali Mas j id, and the 
men captured by Jenkins, many of whom were in a very weakly 
state, were well nursed and kindly treated during their short 
captivity. Yet these prisoners, in the end, fared badly too ; for, on 
being dismissed — each man with the gift of a blanket and a 
couple of rupees, but without arms — they were waylaid by the Moh- 
mands, who_stripped them of all they possessed and turned them back 
to Peshawar. Here, many of them took service under the Engineer 
officers, and did excellent work in maMng the new Khyber Road. 
Being well paid, they saved a good deal of money, and, on the con- 
clusion of peace, got safely back to their homes. 

The capture of Ali Musjid, with its twenty-four pieces of ordnance, 
was acliieved at a cost of : — 

2 British officers killed. 

1 British officer wounded. 

2 British soldiers lulled. 

10 British soldiers wounded. 
12 Native soldiers lolled. 
23 Native soldiers wounded. 


Owing to the great extent and rugged nature of the field of opera- 
tions, the number of the enemy's killed and wounded was never 
accurately ascertained; but, with their whole position exposed for 
many hours to a crushing artillery and rifle fire,^ their losses must 
have been heavy, even without counting the men who perished in 
the retreat through the Bazar Valley, 

The Afghan troops having disappeared from the scene and the 
Tribesmen showing themselves, for the moment, friendly towards 
the winning side, all the four Brigades composing the First Division 
of the Peshawar Valley Field Force, were permitted to enjoy twenty- 
four hours well earned and much needed rest in the positions taken 
up by them on the 22nd of November : only the Commissariat and 
Transport Departments were busy, working hard to bring up supphes 
in preparation for a further forward movement.^ 


Observation i. The Viceroy's peremptory order to attack Ali 
Masjid on the 21st of November, nearly wrecked Sir S. Browne's 
careful and well-thought-out plan for the reduction of that fortress. 
Time was an essential element of its success, since a long detour 
had to be made by the Brigades engaged in the turning movement ; 
yet this order, coupled with the proliibition to cross the frontier till 
sundown on the 20th, gave them only a twelve hours' start of the 
main body of the Division — a quite inadequate advantage considering 
the nature of the country into which they were about to penetrate. 
Their march furnishes a striking example of the danger of interfering 
with a general when he is once in the presence of the enemy, and the 
futihty of trying to conduct a campaign at a distance from the scene 

1 The Artillery expended 639 rounds of ammunition, the Infantry, 11,250. 

2 Tytler's and Macpherson's belated transport rejoined them in the Kliyber, 
having followed the longer and easier of the two roads which branch off at Pani 


of operations. Even Napoleon who, of all men, was the one who 
might most safely have assumed such a responsibility, always refused to 
accept it. ToMassena, he wrote, in 1810 : — " I am too far off and the 
position of the enemy changes too often for me to give advice as to 
the way in which the attack should be conducted " ; and, again, in 
1813, to Soult : — " I have no orders to send ; it is impossible to give 
orders from such a distance." Had Browne, like Biddulph and 
Roberts, been simply directed to cross the Frontier on the 21st, full 
discretion being left to him as to the day on which he was to deliver 
the attack on Ali Mas j id, it is highly probable that he would have 
delayed it till the 22nd, and have detained the 1st and 2nd Brigades 
at Jamrud till the 21st, when, starting at dawn, with the whole day 
before them, they and their Transport and Hospital Estabhshment 
would have had no difficulty in reaching the Flats (Sapparai) before 
dark, and there, having entrenched themselves, they would have 
spent the night in perfect security and comparative comfort. The 
troops belonging to the Main Body would meantime have occupied 
the Shahgai Heights — or, better still; after seizing the Bagiar Pass, 
they might have spent the day in improving the road for the passage 
of the Artillery on the morrow and in reconnoitring as far as Shahgai. 
On the 22nd, all four Brigades would have started out well fed and 
fresh, and the combined movement have been executed with absolute 
precision, and, in all probabihty, without loss of Ufe. Hampered by 
a time-limit imposed by persons who had no means of judging of the 
difficulties to be overcome, such precision was unattainable — Mac- 
pherson, at least, knew this from the beginning. " I saw," he wrote, 
" that the task given me was an impossibility in one day, and I 
begged for two. Ross^ at Peshawar was quite of my opinion, and the 
result proved that we were right." 

Observation 11. The sending of large bodies of troops, accompanied 

1 Brigadier- General C. C. Ross, commanding at Peshawar. 


by a transport train and hampered by camp followers, into the 
mountains after daylight, is a measure greatly to be deprecated, 
because : — 

(a) It is impossible to secure the front, flanks, and rear of such 
a column, and, in this unprotected state, a well planned ambuscade, 
or a determined attack by a handful of men, must create a panic 
among the followers and a stampede among the cattle, in which the 
soldiers themselves may become involved, 

(b) Progress at night in wild mountainous regions will always be 
very painful and slow, and, as a consequence, the troops must suffer 
so severely from exposure and fatigue as to render them incapable of 
long-sustained effort next day, just when such effort is most needed. 

(c) The difficulty of maintaining touch in a long straggling column 
often advancing in single file, great in broad daylight, is nearly 
insuperable at night, for, even when the moon is at its full, the narrow 
gorges, shut in by high steep hills, through which the pathways chiefly 
run, are intensely dark. 

Sir S. Bro\^Tie, as was to be expected in an officer experienced in 
frontier warfare, had no love for night marches ; though unable on 
account of his instructions to avoid one altogether, he did his best to 
secure that the troops engaged in the turning movement should reach 
their camping ground as early as possible on the night of the 20th ; 
but a miscalculation of the distance from Jamrud, the mistake made 
in the nature of the transport of both Brigades, and the delay in 
pro\iding Macpherson with rations, frustrated his intentions in this 
respect. Such miscalculations and delaj^s, however, must always 
be reckoned with at the beginning of a campaign before things have 
properly shaken down into their places ; a fact which adds emphasis 
to what has been said above as to the folly of tjdng a commander 
down to any particular date. To expect an unwieldy machine like 
an army, carrying all its provisions and equix^ped with every variety 
of pack animal, to manoeuvre with as little friction as a company, 


argues an astonishing ignorance of war ; yet, such an expectation must 
have been in Lord Lytton's mind, when he ordered Sir S. Browne to 
take Ah Mas j id within twenty-four hours of crossing the Frontier. 

Night marches are usually undertaken with a view to surprising 
an enemy, and may be successful when the distance to be traversed 
is short, the route known, the troops unimpeded by transport, and when 
the enemy has no reason to expect an attack. In mountainous 
countries, however, they are no less futile than dangerous. The hill- 
man, ever on the alert, liidden among his native rocks, dogs every 
step of the invaders, who may think themselves lucky if, before 
dawn, they do not exchange the character of surprisers for that of 
the surprised. In the particular case under consideration, not only 
was it impossible to conceal the flanking movement, but nothing would 
have been gained by conceahng it, for, as Browne was forbidden to 
enter Afridi territory, a way of escape through the Bazar Valley was 
always open to the garrison of Ali Masjid, and, tliis being so, the 
sooner the Afghan troops reahzed that their position was untenable, 
the better for both sides. 

A fine example of a night march justified by the conditions under 
wliich it was undertaken and cro\\Tied by full success, occurred in 
1878, a few months before the Afghan War, when, to punish a raid 
of the Utman Kliels on British territory. Captain Wigram Battye 
with a detachment of the Guides, consisting of one British and ten 
Native officers, and two hundred and sixty-six men, started after dusk 
for Sapri, a village belonging to the offenders. To deceive the Tribes- 
men as to his real destination he made a long detour, yet he reached 
Sapri before dayhght, taking its inhabitants entirely by surprise, 
and capturing it without loss. In this case success was due to the 
correctness of the intelhgence furnished by the Political Officer ; 
to Battye's own knowledge of the district and its people ; to the close 
proximity of his objective to the British Frontier, which made it 
possible to dispense with baggage and commissariat ; to the secrecy 


of his preparations ; and to the rapidity with which his men, all 
mounted on handy ponies, were able to move. 

Observation in. The Staff, rather than the Commissariat Depart 
ment, must be held responsible for the blunder of equipping the 
1st and 2nd Brigades with bullocks instead of mules. It is the duty 
of the latter to collect every kind of animal likely to be needed in 
a campaign, and to provide for its maintenance and efficiency ; it 
is for the former to decide what particular transport shall be used on 
each occasion, according to the nature of the country to be traversed 
and the character of the force to be employed — knowledge which the 
Staff alone can justly be expected to possess. 

These observations apply less to Macpherson's Staff than to 
Ty tier's, since the 1st Brigade only reached Jamrud on the 20th, 
whilst the 2nd had been encamped there quite long enough for its 
Staff officers to see the Transport and to insist on its being adapted 
to the work in prospect. 

Observation iv. Political considerations may modify a plan of 
campaign, but they should never be allowed to interfere with a 
general's dispositions and movements when once fighting has begun. 
There was only a remote chance that a postponement of the attack on 
the Afghan position, would bring about a temporary coahtion of the 
Tribesmen with the garrison of Ali Masjid, but such attack, prema- 
turely dehvered, was pretty certain to fail, and, in faihng, to jeopardize 
the safety of all four British Brigades. In the end, Browne had to 
recall the orders which Cavagnari's reading of the situation on 
the afternoon of the 21st of November, had induced him to issue, 
and the result proved the groundlessness of the Political Officer's 


Observation v. The following letter from Colonel R. G. Waterfield 
to Sir S. Browaie, presents a vivid picture of the pei-plexities and 
uncertainties attendant on all operations in wild and mountainous 
countries, especially when these operations include movements in 


which the connection between the various corps engaged in thorn, is 
temporarily broken : — 


November 2\st, 1878, 6 p.m. 
My dear Sir Sam, — 

I will just tell you how I have acted on your orders so that 
you may understand and counteract any mistakes. I gave your 
orders for the Heavy Battery to encamp and protect themselves for 
the night to Major Wilson — then to Stewart of the Guides and 
Colonel C Gough, and I told them how matters stood. I also told 
Hazelrigg of the Field Battery exactly how matters were, and that he 
and Wilson were to look out and not hit Appleyard and his men if 
they took the hill. I rather suspect they will not take it, and will 
have a rough night of it. 

I then went on and found that the ammunition was not up and 
that Hazelrigg was sending back wagons for it. 

From Mackeson's Bridge along the causeway, to the foot of the 
slope, is one hne of ammunition wagons under Churchward, which 
camiot move, and yet there are plenty of elephants. I advised him 
to put in the elephants and walli up the wagons, crowds of grass- 
cutters aiid some grain. I advised all this to push up, and I think it 

I told all the ammunition to push along, and I tliink it will all 
get up all right and in good time, but I doubt if your artillery ammu- 
nition will. 

Then, at the foot of the slope up to Mackeson's Bridge, I met 
the officer commanding the rearguard. He was intelligent, and I 
told him to make a cheerful night of it, and to protect all that could 
not get up to the heavy guns on the upper ground. 

From the rearguard to Jamrud, nothing is on the road — all clear. 


At Jamrud, Colonel Armstrong appears quite clear on all points, 
and I have told him the orders given by you. 

He mil at once push on the second line of ammunition, under- 
standing from me that this is the one thing wanted. It will push on 
to you and I hope arrive before morning. Armstrong seems very 
good and intelligent and I should bring him forward. 

Now about the other columns. Colonel Armstrong says that 
about 12 o'clock the party in charge of the ammunition, 4th Rifles, 
returned to Jamrud, saying that they had lost their way. I flashed 
for instructions and got none. I then tried to push the ammunition 
through, but could get no guide. It is supposed that the two Brigades 
(Tytler's and Macpherson's) on the right have all their ammunition, 
and that of the first line, except the Rifle Battahon and Gurkhas. 
The ammunition of the latter was brought back by Beatson, who 
followed in the track of the two Brigades with a party of men to pick 
up sick men. They will therefore be a little short of ammunition. 

The question is whether Colonel Armstrong can push on any 
ammunition after the two regiments — I say decidedly not. They 
will lose their way, and the only way is to send their ammunition 
up the Pass in the hopes that you will meet at Ali Masjid. 

Nobody seems to know the route taken by the Brigades, and it 
would be impossible to follow them, and so I think that the only thing 
for the ammunition is to go up to you. 

I would use my elephants in helping up ammunition wagons. 

Now I'm off. 7.30. 

Yours truly, 



No baggage moving until further orders. 


^ The Occupation of Dakka 


i Sir S. Browne's position at Ali Masjid, in November, 1878, bore 
I a close resemblance to that of Sir G. Pollock at Peshawar, in 1841, 
; and, looking to the sickly condition of his troops and their lack of 
equipment and transport, he would have been justified in following 
his predecessor's example, and refusing to take a single step in advance 
till his Division had been placed in all respects on a proper footing ; 
for if, on the one hand, his men, 'in the first flush of military en- 
thusiasm, were as eager to press forward as Pollock's, after three 
years of weary, disastrous warfare, were reluctant to stir ; on the 
other, the motives and considerations urging to prompt action in 
the last phase of the first Afghan War, were entirely absent in the 
first phase of the second. No one now questions Pollock's wisdom 
in withstanding the pressure put upon him by pubHc opinion, at home 
and in India, to induce him to rush forward to the relief of Jellalabad, 
nor doubts that, if, in the end, he not only reached that city, but 
entered Kabul and rescued the English men and women held captive 
at Bamian, his success was due to the two months' delay which he 
turned to such good account in reorganizing his forces and restoring 
the health and spirits of his troops. A similar period devoted to 
; preparation in the winter of 1878, would have endangered not a single 
' British or Native life, nor have affected the amount and nature of 
the resistance to be encountered ; and if Browne, a man of good judg- 
ment and much independence of character, did not insist upon such 
delay, it was simply because he had no inkhng of the magnitude 


of the task that was to be imposed upon him. His instructions 
assumed that, Ali Masjid once captured, his work would be con- j 
fined to clearing the Khj^ber of the Amir's forces, and that as soon I 
as the necessary troops— to be selected for local knowledge and j 
frontier experience— had been estabHshed at its western extremity, 
he might safely withdraw the bullc of his Division to British territory, 
leaving Colonel Jenkins in military, and Major Cavagnari in political j 
charge of the Pass ; and it was in full reliance upon these instructions, j 
in the confident expectation that the policy embodied in them would 
undergo no material change, that he embarked upon an advance 
which was to carry him to Gandamak, and narrowly to escape landing 
him at Kabul. 

Leaving Appleyard with the remaining troops of the 3rd and 
4th Brigades at Ali Masjid, whilst the 1st and 2nd Brigades were 
concentrated at Kata Kushtia, under the command of Macpherson 
as senior officer on the spot— the General started for Dakka on the 
morning of the 24th November, with the 10th Hussars, Manderson's 
troop of Horse Artillery, the 14th Sikhs, and a company of Sappers. 
The Guides Cavalry joined him at Kata Kushtia, which lies just where 
the gorge of the Khyber proper expands from fifty to six hundred 
yards in width,^ and where the Khyber River takes its rise in a spring 
whose crystal waters, impregnated with sulphuret of antimony, 
had been one of the chief causes of the sickness and mortality that 
prevailed amongst the troops occupying Ali Masjid in the first Afghan 
War, and were to prove no less fatal to the regiments holding that 
position in the second.^ At Lala Beg, three-quarters of a mile beyond 
Kata Kushtia, the Pass widens out once more, and the advancing 
Force sighted a good many hamlets, each with loop-holed walls and I 

1 Tlio rugged, precipitoufs sides of this gorge rise from the river at an angle 
of 75°, and in places actually overhang it, shutting out the day. 

2 Between the 1st September and 27th October, 1839, the garrison of Ali 
Masjid lost 243 men, more than one-tenth of its total strength. 


one or two towers so substantially built of clay, mixed with chopped 
straw, as to be capable of resisting the fire of field guns. The number 
of these hamlets gives an air of fictitious prosperity to this little valley, 
which in dry seasons is often entirely deserted by its inhabitants.^ 
A little further on, the road, a mere tortuous track, became steep 
and difficult, and, at an awkward corner, one of the Artillery guns 
overturned, and three of its horses were flung over the side of the 
cliff, where they hung suspended in mid-air, their weight threaten- 
ing at every moment to drag the gun and the remaining horses after 
them. There was nothing to be done but to cut their harness, and 
let them fall eighty feet into the stony bed of a dry water-course. 
One was killed on the spot ; one so severely injured that it had to 
be shot ; but the third, strange to say, escaped with a few bruises. 
Leaving the Sappers to improve the road, and the 10th Hussars to 
guard them whilst they worked, Sir S. Browne continued his march 
over the Lundi Kotal — a col three thousand five hundred feet 
above sea level, two thousand three hundred above Peshawar — 
and down a steep road, cut shelf-like in the face of the precipice, 
to Lundi lOiana, a village lying a thousand feet below the summit 
of the Pass on its western side. Here, where the whole Brigade 
was to have bivouacked, he heard that the Afghan troops had retired 
from Dakka, and realizing that the place would be in danger of 
destruction at the hands of its neighbours, the Mohmands, whose 
chief village, Lalpura, lies facing it on the other side of the broad 
and rapid Kabul River, he sent on Jenkins and Cavagnari with the 
Guides to occupy it that night. The little party pushed on as quickly 
as the deepening darkness and the roughness of the road would permit ; 
but the Mohmand thieves had been beforehand with them, and they 

1 Irrigation is impossible in this valley, whose inhabitants have to depend 
upon tanks for their own water supply ; and as tlie rainfall never exceeds a few 
inches in the year, it is no unusual thing for the fields to yield no crops. 


emerged from the Pass to find Dakka swept bare of all its contents, 
and its despoilers safe on the other side of the river. On the follow- 
ing day, Sir S. Browne and the rest of the troops arrived, and took 
possession of the Fort, a large walled enclosure, flanked by sixteen 
towers, containing the barracks lately occupied by the Afghan gar- 
rison, and the house and garden where the Amir lodged when visiting 
this outpost of his dominions. The Khan of Lalpura, a big, broad- 
shouldered man of unprepossessing appearance, very soon came 
into camp to pay his respects to the British General and his Political 
Officer ; and the ostentatious cordiaHty with which he was received 
by the latter, may be regarded as a gauge of the political and military 
difficulties of the situation which a too hasty advance had created. 
Cavagnari was not the man to show undue consideration to Native 
potentates, great or small, and this particular potentate, whose troops 
had been on the way to reinforce Ali Mas j id when that fortress was 
evacuated by its garrison, had little claim on his forbearance. But 
Mahomed Shah could put twenty thousand armed men in the field, 
his territory commanded Browne's Hue of communications, and if 
these were to be kept open and his troops provisioned, the Mohmands, 
as a tribe, must not take sides against him ; so the offences of their 
chief were poHtely ignored, and his reception so framed as to relieve 
his mind of the fear that Cavagnari still harboured the intention of 
superseding him by one of the sons of Nuroz Shah, his predecessor 
in the Khanship. 

Though the attitude of the Afridis and Mohmands during the 
operations of the 21st and 22nd, had been threatening enough to add 
considerably to Browne's anxieties, they had not openly opposed 
his advance. It was one thing, however, to conciliate this or that 
chief, or to secure the momentary good-will of this or that section 
of a tribe, but quite another to induce its individual members to 
respect the peace of the Pass. On the advance from Ali Masjid to 
Dakka no opposition had been met with, but loiterers or stragglers 


had been cut off by unseen foes, and it was clear to Browne that, 
so far from being able to leave the protection of the Pass to a weak 
Brigade, it would be all he could do to keep it open with the whole 
of his Division, however skilful the dispositions by which he might 
seek to add to their strength and lighten their labours. It is curious 
to note how completely the simple programme in which Lord Lytton's 
views of the probable course of events in Afghanistan had found 
expression, went to pieces at the first contact with hard facts. There 
was no revocation or alteration of Sir S. Browne's instructions, but 
those clauses which were to come into force upon the capture of Ali 
Masjid, dropped silently away, leaving that General to adapt himself 
to the changing circumstances of the situation, as might seem best, 
from day to day. His first act was to strengthen his own position 
by calhng up Macpherson's and Tytler's Brigades from Kata Kushtia, 
and Gough's Cavalry Brigade from Ali Masjid ; to order the forma- 
tion of a really mobile frontier Brigade, consisting of No. 4 Peshawar 
Mountain Battery, the 3rd Sikhs, and the Guides, with Jenkins 
in command ; and to give greater unity to the troops holding the 
Shahgai Heights and Ali Masjid, by breaking up the 4th Brigade 
(Brown's), and transferring its regiments to the 3rd (Appleyard's). 
At the same time, he pushed forward Cavalry recormaissance parties 
in every direction, to ascertain the resources of the country in food 
and forage, and to get wind of any hostile gatherings of Tribesmen 
that might need to be summarily dispersed. He kept the Engineer 
officers and Sappers and Miners busy improving the road over the 
Lundi Kotal ; constructing strong posts to shelter his outlying pickets ; 
fortifying the ridge overlooking Dakka Fort ; and building two boats 
of considerable carrying capacity to secure his connexion with the 
northern bank of the Kabul River. He caused the high grass in the 
vicinity of the road between Lundi Khana and Dakka to be burned ; 
he placed, by day, strong pickets on the knolls adjacent to the Fort, 
withdrawing them at night, and he ordered that all marauders caught 


red-handed should be shot there and then ;— in a word, he took every 
precaution which his wide experience of frontier warfare could suggest 
to protect the traffic created by the presence of a large British force 
at Dakka, but with only partial success. The whole country swarmed 
with robbers. Bands of them hung about Dakka and infested the 
Pass. They lay in wait for, and cut up camp followers and stragglers ; 
they fired upon smaU parties of soldiers ; they were ever on the watch 
to steal horses, mules, or cattle watering in the river. Invisible and 
ubiquitous, they gave the troops no rest. Escorts and covering 
parties had to be doubled to enable the most necessary functions 
of camp hfe to be carried on at all, and the strain grew daily more 
severe as fatigue and sickness reduced the number of men fit for duty. 
Bad, however, as things were around Dakka, they were far worse 
round AH Masjid. Not a yard of the road between Jamrud and 
Lundi Kotal was safe, although dihgently patrolled by strong bodies 
of troops. The camps were fired into by night, and by day ; the 
ArtiUery men employed in removing the Afghan guns from the Fort 
were attacked at their work ; strongly guarded convoys, en route to 
Dakka, were boldly intercepted in the Khyber, grain and stores 
carried off, and the transport animals themselves hurried away into 
the hills. Emboldened by repeated isolated successes, the Afridis 
occupying the upper part of the Pass, very shortly persuaded their 
kinsfolk inhabiting its lower end, who had, so far, been comparatively 
quiet, to combine with them in still more daring measures. The 
united Tribesmen attacked the outlying pickets and advanced posts 
at Ali Masjid, seized the Shahgai Heights— thus severing Dakka 
from its base at Peshawar— and drove Major Pearson and his signal- 
ling party from their station on the Sarkai Hill, kiUing one signaUer, 
three foUowers, and several mules, a loss which might have been 
much heavier had not the firing been heard in Jamrud, and the 
45th Sikhs, supported by a company of the 9th Foot, been hurriedly 
despatched to the scene of action. Appleyard quickly recaptured 


the Shahgai Heights, and, on the 30th, retahated on his assailants 
by sending three companies of Infantry, a Mountain Battery, and 
a small body of " FriendHes " to destroy Kadam, a village over- 
looking the Jam plain, whose inhabitants were known to have taken 
a chief part in the recent outrages. Cavagnari, who had hurried 
down from Dakka to try what his influence could do towards checking 
the disaffection that was spreading through the Tribe which he had 
been at such pains to detach from its allegiance to the Amir, accom- 
panied the expedition ; but the Afridis, who had removed their women 
and children and their household goods to a place of safety, would 
neither negotiate nor fight, and, as the troops had forgotten to bring 
a supply of powder, they had to content themselves with burning 
the roofs of the houses, leaving their walls and watch-towers standing 

Appleyard's prompt action somewhat reheved the tension of 
the situation. The convoys that had returned to Jamrud, started 
out once more, and there was no longer reason to fear that the troops 
at Dakka would be left without food ; but, between Ali Mas j id and 
Dakka, the marauders were as active as ever, and every convoy 
paid its toll to the wild lords of the land. Up and down the Pass, 
hundreds of hapless transport animals were ever on the move; 
yet, toil as they might, it seemed impossible to do more than keep 
the troops fed from day to day.^ In the hope of obtaining local 
supphes, if only of forage for the horses, Browne, on the 1st of Decem- 
ber, threw forward portions of Macpherson's, Jenkins's and Gough's 
Brigades to Basawal, ten miles west of Dakka. To connect this ad- 

1 On the 7th December, Colonel J. Hunt, Principal Commissariat Officer, wrote 
to Sir S. Browne that he feared little progress was being made with the collecting 
of supplies at Peshawar, for the stores at Jamrud had decreased. A few days 
later. Hunt reported that the camels were going to ruin in the Pass, and unless 
he could get them back to the plains for a fortnight's grazing, a fresh lot would 
be wanted in the spring, and the rotting carcases of the thousands that would 
die in the Pass must breed a pestilence. 


vanced guard with the main body of his force, he entrenched a detach- 
ment of Infantry on the summit of the narrow rocky Khud Khyber 
Defile.^ Still further to reduce the strain on his Commissariat, he 
sent his most sickly regiment, the 14th Sikhs, back to India. But 
the same causes which led him to desire to diminish the number of 
mouths for which he must provide, forced him to add to their number, 
and ten days' experience having convinced him that, although the 
Amir's troops had disappeared for good, he was none the less en- 
camped in an enemy's country, he telegraphed, on the 1st of December, 
to the Government of India for reinforcements. That night, General 
Maude at Nowshera was roused from sleep by an aide-de-camp, bring- 
ing a telegram which directed him to despatch instantly two Infantry 
regiments in support of Browne's communications. The selected 
regiments— the 5th FusiUers and the Mliairwarra BattaUon— started 
at daybreak of the 2nd, and marched with such goodwill that they 
reached Hari Singh-ka-Burj, half-way between Peshawar and Jamrud, 
the same evening, the distance being thirty-one miles. But whilst 
asking for help, Browne continued to take vigorous measures for 
clearing his communications. On the day that he telegraphed for 
reinforcements, he had sent a column under General Tytler to co- 
operate with a smaller force, furnished by Appleyard, in punishing 
the Zakka Khel, the most troublesome section of the Afridis. The 
1 The disposition of the troops west of the Khyber Pass after the advance 
to Basawal, was as follows : — 

Half Battery R.H. Artillery. 
No. 2 Peshawar Mountain Battery. 
10th Hussars. 
Guides Cavalry. 
4th Battalion Rifle Brigade. 
4th Gurkhas. 

Dakka Forte. 
Half Battery R.H. Artillery. 
Guides Infantry. 
Ist Sikhs. 


two columns entered the Lala Beg Valley from either end, and, 
between them, levelled the fortified walls of its numerous hamlets 
to the ground ; but, as had been the case at Kadara, the inhabi- 
tants were forewarned, and only empty huts remained to suflFer the 
vengeance of the harassed and embittered invaders. Large numbers of 
armed Tribesmen watched from the hills the destruction of their homes, 
and exchanged shots with the troops ; but the casualties on either side 
were few, and the Zakka Khel soon resumed their troublesome 
tactics, with appetite for plunder whetted by the desire to make 
good their losses. 

It was well for the troops in Dakka at this time that casualties were 
few, for if many wounded had been added to the rapidly growing 
number of the sick, the hospital arrangements there must have com- 
pletely broken down. As it was, they were inadequate enough, 
consisting, for the first fortnight, merely of a temporary hospital 
organized by Surgeon-Major Creagh from his Battery equipment ; and, 
when, on the 8th of December, a fifty-bed Division of the Field Hospital, 
under Surgeon-Major Evatt and Surgeon Shaw, Medical Staff, arrived 
from Ali Masjid, as regards service it was quite defective, being 
without hospital sergeant, writer, and European orderlies, whilst 
to use Evatt's own words, "its Native establishment was wretchedly 
bad— literally and actually the lame, the halt, and the blind; as 
Falstaffian a corps as any man could ever see." The diseases to 
which this imperfect instrument had to minister, were due in part, 
of course, to exposure and incessant harassing work, but still more 
to the nature of the vaUey in which Dakka is situated. A low-lying 
basin, surrounded by peaked hills from two to four thousand feet 
in height, it is fiercely hot in summer, cruelly cold in Avinter, and 
subject to floods, which have not even the grace to impart fertility 
to the lands they devastate, but, in subsiding, leave nothing behind 
them but fever, and an efflorescence of soda (reh) that sterilizes and 
impoverishes thejsoil. 

The Occupation of Jellalabad 


The Commander-in-Chief, Sir F. Haines, had no intention of Umiting 
the response made to Sir S. Browne's request for reinforcements to 
the despatch of a couple of regiments, and his arguments in favour 
of moving up the whole of the 2nd Division of the Peshawar Valley 
Field Force, prevailed over the Viceroy's unwiUingness to recognize 
the necessity of a measure so far exceeding the limits of the programme 
to which he had given his sanction some weeks before. Lord Lytton's 
consent once obtained, no time was lost in giving effect to it. A very 
few hours after the departure of the 5th Fusiliers and the Mhairwarra 
Battahon from Nowshera, Maude received a second telegram from 
the Adjutant-General at Lahore directing him to assume command 
of all troops in the field, as far as and including the Ali Masjid garrison, 
in addition to those of the Second Division ; to endeavour to keep 
open the Pass, strengthening the troops in advance if required, and 
fortifying all commanding positions and posts with sangars (breast- 
works) ; to act in conformity with the views of the Pohtical Authorities, 
and, if considered advisable by the Political Officer, to attack Chura or 
other locality ; to clear the Pass of aU animals not required, also cavahy 
not actually employed, whilst the heavy artillery might be placed in 
position ; to urge on the supply of provisions and stores for the front ; 
to telegraph daily to the Adjutant-General ; and, lastly, to keep down 
all unnecessary excitement. 


On the 5th of December, General Maude with Head Quarters of 
Division, arrived at Jamrud, where his first business was to re-organize 
his Force. The following table shows its composition after that process 
had been completed, and the various changes which took place in 
it during the campaign. 


Lieutenant - General F. F. Maude, 

V.C., C.B Commanding Division 

Captain F. W. Hemming .... Aide-de-Camp 

Captain A. Leslie Orderly Officer 

Major G. Hatchell Assistant Adjutant-General 

Lieutenant-Colonel M. Heathcote 

(joined 15th December, taken away 

6th February) Assistant Quarter-Master-General 

Major A. A. Kinloch Deputy Assistant Quarter-Master- 

Captain S. Brownrigg Deputy Assistant Quarter-Master- 

Colonel Hon. D. Fraser, C.B. . . . Commanding Royal Artillery 
Major C. A. Sim (officiating till end 

of January) Commanding Royal Engineers 

Lieutenant-Colonel Limond (from 

beginning of February) .... Commanding Royal Engineers 
Colonel C. M. Macgregor, C.S.I., 

CI-E. Deputy Quarter-Master-General in 

charge of communications 

Major Dyson Laurie Assistant in charge of communications 

Surgeon-Major J. A. Hanbury (joined 

in January, 1879) Principal Medical Officer 

Colonel W. C. R. Mylne (health broke 

down about April) Principal Commissariat Officer 

Major N. R. Bm-lton (succeeded 

Colonel Mylne) Principal Commissariat Officer 

Rev.A.N.W.Spens (joined 15th March) Chaplain 

Colonel B. Soady Superintendent Transport 

Lieutenant B. E. Spragge .... Superintendent Army Signalling 

Major P. FitzGerald Gallwey . . In charge of Field Park 

Captain W. F. Longbourne . . . Provost Marshal 

Lieutenant C. J. R. Hearsay , . . Field Treasiu-e Chest 


Brigadier- General J. E. Michell, C.B. . Commanding Cavalry Brigade and 

second in command of Division 

Lieutenant C. T. W. Trower . . . Aide-de-Camp 

Captain M. G. Gerard Brigade Major 

Brigadier- General F. S. Blyth . . Commanding Ist Infantry Brigade 

Captain W. C Farvvell Brigade Major 

Brigadier-General J. Doran, C.B. . . Commanding 2nd Infantry Brigade 

Lieutenant H. Gall Aide-de-Camp 

Captain X. Gwynne Brigade Major 

Brigadier-General F. E. Appleyard, 

C.B Commanding 3rd Infantry Brigad* 

RoYAii Artillery 

D— A Royal Horse Artillery . . . Major P. E. Hill 

H— C Royal Horse Artillery . . . Major C. E. Nairne. (This Battery sent 

back 6th May in consequence of diffi- 
culty in bringing up forage) 

C— 3 Royal Artillery Major H. C. Magenis 

11—9 Mountain Battery .... Major J. R. Dyce 

British Cavalry 

9th Lancers Colonel H. Marshall, part of time; 

Lieutenant- Colonel Cleland remainder 

British Infantry 

5th Fusiliers Lieutenant-Colonel T. Rowland 

12th Foot Lieutenant-Colonel G. F. Walker (Regi- 
ment came up in April) 

25th „ Colonel J. A. Ruddell 

5jgt Colonel S. A. Madden (Regiment trans- 

ferred to 1st Division in March) 

gjgt Colonel R. B. Chichester (Regiment sent 

back in December on account of 
general bad health) 

Native Troops 

10th Bengal Lancers Major O. Barnes (Regiment joined 

Division in April) 
j3th ^ „ Lieutenant- Colonel R. C. Low 


Native Infantry 

6th Bengal Native Infantry . . . Colonel G. H. Thompson 

24th Punjab Infantry Colonel F. B. Norman 

2nd Gurkhas Colonel D. Macintyre, V.C. 

Mhairwarra Battalion Major F. W. Boileau 

Bhopal BattaUon Colonel Forbes (half the Battalion came 

up in the middle of the campaign, and 
the other half later) 
Two companies Madras Sappers and 

Miners Major C A. Sim 

The number of troops at Maude's disposal seems never to have 
exceeded 6,000. He had, indeed, at one time three Brigades under 
his command, but these lacked their full complement of regiments ; 
and though, at the outset of the campaign, the Second Division was 
fairly healthy, 3^et there soon was sickness enough among the men, 
owing to the malarial nature of the country, and the arduous and 
monotonous character of their duties, to keep the real strength of 
the Division considerably below its nominal strength. Yet, this 
curtailed Force had to maintain its own communications and those 
of the First Division from Peshawar to Lundi Kotal, and, subsequently, 
as far as Jellalabad, a distance of eighty- one miles ; to furnish, from 
the first, a strong garrison for a partly entrenched camp at Lundi 
Kotal, later on, a second for the Fort at Dakka, where there was 
a large depot of commissariat and ordnance stores to guard, and a 
third for the partially entrenched position at Basawal ; to hold a 
number of small fortified posts erected, at intervals, along the whole 
line of communications for the protection of the numerous convoys 
traversing the Pass ; to provide escorts for the said convoys, which 
were daily moving up from Peshawar to the front ^ ; to perform very 

1 Between Ali Masjid and Lundi Kotal there were no troops, consequently the 
escorts for convoys daily provided by the garrison of the former place were 
reheved half-way by detachments from the latter. " The convoy duties were 
very severe, commencing at daylight and lasting till dusk during the winter 
months. The camels were over-worked and constantly broke down, and the 


heavy fatigue duties, including, amongst other things, the construction 
of a good cart road from Jamrud to Dakka, a service of much labour 
and difficulty— at Ali Masjid the bed of a river had to be turned 
and the road carried along a gallery in the rock ' ; and, lastly, to be 
always in readiness to carry out the views of the Political Officers, by 
attacking any Tribe which those officials might consider deserving of 

The actual date of the order to occupy JeUalabad, was determined 
by the news that the Afghan troops had evacuated that town; but 
the advance of the Second Division, by aggravating the supply diffi- 
culty, tended inevitably to push on the First. The hope of substantial 
additions to food and forage, disappointed at Dakka and Basawal, 
turned to the district lying around JeUalabad. Political considera- 
tions had, however, much to do with the forward movement. Winter 
which had now set in, by closing the road over the Shutargardan, had 
put an end to aU thought of exercising pressure at Kabul from the 
Kuram side, and, if the war was not to degenerate into a fatal farce, 
the influence of our vast mihtary preparations must be brought to 
bear upon the Amir and his Durbar from some other quarter. 

To prepare the way for the advance which he saw to be inevitable, 
Browne despatched Tytler on the 9th of December to punish the Shin- 
troops in charge of them had to do the best they could to bring them on, or to 
divide the loads amongst some of the stronger camels. All this took tune. 
The escorts had nothing but badly cooked rations with them, and they arrived 
in camp so jaded that they had no appetite, and there was not much food to 
tempt them when they got in. The night duties-guards, pickets, etc.-were 
numerous and trying. The stations were liable to constant attack, and therefore 
the sentries guarding the camp, whether furnished by the guards round camp, 
or by the pickets at some distance in advance, generally on high ground command- 
ing the camp, were liable to be attacked at any moment by the Afndis, more 
or fewer in number according to circumstances, who crept up to the sentries 
and tried (sometimes successfully) to wound or kill them."-General Maude. 

1 " This was a most creditable performance carried out under Colonel Limond, 
K.E." — Greneral Maude. 


waris, a powerful clan inhabiting the upper end of the Khyber, and the 
valleys in the western slopes of the Safed Koh, which, at the instigation 
of the Mir Akhor, had been making itself extremely obnoxious to the 
troops. About the same time, he sent across the Kabul River 
a reconnaissance party consisting of Major H. F. Blair, R.E., Captains 
Wigram Battye, and G. Stewart of the Guides, and Mr. G. A. Scott, of 
the Survey Department, to seek for a second road to the plains for 
the use of the convoys, in case the disaffection of the Afridis should 
grow so serious as virtually to close the Khyber against them, and 
also to ascertain exactly how he was likely to stand with the Moh- 
mands, when their power to harm him would be increased by a 
movement which must place them in his rear, as well as on his flank. 

Tytler's expedition met with no resistance, and though it failed to 
capture the Mir Akhor, the destruction of the strongly fortified village 
of Chenar quieted the Shinwaris for a time. The reconnaissance 
party, after an absence of several days, returned with the news that 
the Mohmands were apparently well disposed towards the British 
Government, and that an alternative route debouching at Michni, 
had been discovered, but one so circuitous, difficult, and dangerous 
that nothing would be gained by substituting it for the Khyber as 
a line of communication, even apart from the obvious consideration 
that such a change would necessitate the transfer to Michni of the 
great depot, so laboriously formed at Jamrud. 

These and many other prehminaries accomplished, Sir Samuel 
Browne handed over the command at Dakka to Tytler, and started 
for Jellalabad on the 17th of December, with Macpherson's, Jenkins's 
and Gough's Brigades. His march was unopposed and uneventful. The 
road as far as Chardeh was fairly good, but between Chardeh and Ali 
Baghan almost impassable, so thickly was it strewn with boulders ; 
water, too, proved scarce, and the great variation in temperature — 
60° between daybreak and midday — told severely both on the troops 
and the transport animals. The final march from Ali Baghan to 


Jellalabad, was short and comparatively easy, the last three miles, 
over partially cultivated plains. 

The impression produced by Jellalabad on its new garrison was 
not favourable. Though the capital of a district, the houses were 
small, mean, and wretchedly built of sunburnt bricks ; the streets 
nothing better than badly paved lanes, filthy and malodorous. The 
fortifications destroyed by General Pollock's order in 1842, still lay 
in the ruins to which he had reduced them. Trade and manufactures 
there were none, and the resident population did not exceed three 
thousand, though it had been recently swelled to a much larger figure 
by the return of numerous shepherd families from their summer 
quarters in the hills. The scenery, sternly grand at the time of year 
when the invaders first beheld it, grew into unsurpassable beauty 
a few months later, when spring had added the charm of blossom and 
tender green to the wilder features of the landscape — towering moun- 
tains, vast snow fields, broad belts of dark-hued pine — but from the 
Commissariat Ofiicer's point of view the valley was disappointing, 
its cultivated area being pretty strictly confined to a broad flat band 
on either side of the rapid Kabul River, and to similar, narrower strips, 
bordering the water-courses that drain the lateral valleys, formed by 
the spurs thrown off by the Safed Koh. The climate for the first 
few weeks, showed the new-comers its better side ; the temperature, 
though cold at night, being just pleasantly warm by day ; but in 
January severer weather set in, accompanied by snowstorms that 
brought much suffering to the shelterless followers and transport 
animals, whilst, at uncertain intervals throughout the period of the 
British occupation, dense clouds of dust, blown from the sandy wastes 
at the eastern end of the valley by the terrible Simoom, involved the 
whole camp in darkness and misery. 

The very day of his arrival at Jellalabad, Sir S. Browne entered 
upon a repetition of the labours which had engrossed him at Dakka. 
Once again, sanitary conditions had to be introduced into a town which 


knew nothing of sanitation, and a camp to be fortified and drained. 
Once again, there was a hospital to organize, cavalry posts to establish, 
great sheds for the shelter of stores to erect, and communica- 
tion between the two banks of the Kabul River to secure, this time 
l)y the construction of a wooden bridge, four hundred and seventy-two 
feet long. And, over and above all these things, there lay upon the 
Commander of a Force, now encamped at a point eighty-one miles from 
its base, the responsibility of providing the daily bread of a large body 
of men and animals, and of filling the store sheds with the reserve of 
food without which the further advance that might one day be 
demanded of him, would be an impossibility. Upon this ceaseless 
round of duties which distant critics eager for news of battles fought, 
too often characterize as inaction, the year 1878 closed for Sir S. 
Browne, and the Staff which shared his anxieties and his work, the 
only military movement in which the First Division took part during 
the interval, being one to which Browne had given his sanction before 
leaving Dakka, and in which a column under Tytler co-operated with 
a larger force belonging to the Second Division. 


There can be no doubt that the Second Division of the Peshawar 
Valley Field Force was too weak for the work expected of it, and its 
Commander was right in pointing this out and in asking for reinforce- 
ments ; his requests, nevertheless, were persistently refused by the 
Government, sometimes on the score of expense, sometimes on the 
plea that there were no regiments available. Now, war is always a 
costly game, and it is quite possible that there were no troops to 
spare ; but the vaHdity of the excuses offered only accentuates two 
truths which have already been insisted on : the first, that Lord 
Lytton rushed into a big war without counting its cost, and without 
making the needful preparations for bringing it to a successful issue ; 


the second, that lie frittered away upon three long lines of advance 
the troops and transport which would not have been too numerous if 
concentrated on one.^ ^ 

1 The minimum number of troops required to properly guard the commtini- 
cations of an army, in a mountainous country, is 100 men per mile, and 
Maude's force was, at least, two thousand short of that minimum. — H.B.H. 

^ Though there may have been no reinforcements to send. Government 
certainly had at its disposal oflficers quaUfied to fill Staff appointments, and its 
poverty did not justify it in leaving General Maude without his full authorised 
Staff, under circumstances which called for a large addition to its strength. — 

The First Bazar Expedition 

There was one part of liis Instructions which General Maude viewed 
with grave dissatisfaction. He would have welcomed the advice of 
a capable and experienced civil officer, such as Mr. Donald Macnabb, 
but he felt very strongly the impropriety of subordinating him, in 
matters involving field operations, to a young military officer in civil 
employ ; more especially, as the latter was not on the spot for dis- 
cussion and consultation, but many miles away and absorbed in other 
matters. He had grave doubts, too, as to the wisdom of undertaking 
expeditions into unknown valleys whilst the daily routine work of 
keeping the Passes open was so heavy; nevertheless, he loyally 
accepted the restriction imposed upon his freedom of initiative, and 
before leaving Nowshera, forwarded to Cavagnari a copy of the 
Adjutant-General's telegram of December 2nd, and asked to be favoured 
with the Pohtical Officer's views as to the advisability of attacking 
" Chura, or any other locality." On the 1 1th of December, he received 
a reply in which Major Cavagnari, after referring him to his assistants, 
Mr. A. F. D. Cunningham at Jamrud and Captain L. H. E. Tucker at Ali 
Masjid, for information and assistance, expressed the opinion that the 
conduct of the Zakka Khel of the Bazar and Bara Valleys, caUed for their 
punishment, as soon as the military arrangements would allow of the 
work being taken in hand, but that the Malikdin Khel of Chura were 
professedly friendly, and he could see no reason for meddhng with 
them. The foUowing day. General Maude asked for further particulars 
as to the proposed expedition, and received by hehograph the reply 


that he was to invade Bazar in co-operation with a column from the 
First Division under Tytler, and this plan, after some misunderstand- 
ings and uncertainties, was finally carried out. 

Being still without any map of the country, Maude had to rely for 
information as to the road into Bazar, partly on Native reports— 
always misleading so far as times and distances are concerned — and 
partly on Captain Tucker's memory, that officer having visited the 
valley in disguise some years before. From these two sources the 
General had obtained the impression that, by leaving Ali Masjid on 
the evening of one day, he should reach the first village in Bazar by 
dawn of the next, and as the Assistant PoHtical Officer was very 
anxious to take the Zakka Khel at unawares, he determined on a 
night march. The manoeuvre was not one which, as a general rule, 
approved itself to his judgment, but, in this particular instance, there 
were reasons which led him to feel that it might legitimately be 
adopted. The road to be foUowed during the hours of darkness ran, 
not through the enemy's country, but through the territory of the 
friendly Malikdin Khel, and the guides of the expeditionary force 
were to be furnished by the same tribe, so there was little risk of its 
being led astray, or exchanging the part of the surpriser for that of the 

Bazar, into which British troops were now about to penetrate from 
two sides, is situated sixteen miles west of Jamrud and a somewhat 
less distance south of Dakka, and is one of those comparatively fruitful 
upland valleys which occasionally vary the savage desolation of the 
Afghan hills. It is about ten miles long, by three wide. Mountains 
six and seven thousand feet high shut it in on every side, their lateral 
spurs terminating sometimes in a singlg detached hill. The ground, 
generally level, but, in parts, much cut up by deep nullahs or ravines, 
is drained by the Chura, an affluent of the Khyber River. The villages, 
of which there are many, are of two kinds : in the open plain, ordinary 
collections of mud huts, roofed with wood and shingle, surrounded by 


walls and defended by one or more loop-holed towers ; along the 
edges of the valley, nests of cave dwellings, hewed into, or scooped 
out of, the hill sides, with wooden porticoes over their entrances : in 
the former, live the settled, in the latter, the nomadic portion of the 
tribe. Lying to the south of Bazar are the valleys of Bara and Tirah, 
in both of which no European had ever set foot. 

At five o'clock on the evening of the 19th of December, the troops 
noted below,^ under the personal leadership of Lieutenant-General 
Maude — Brigadier-General Doran, C.B., being his second in command 
— assembled near Ali Masjid, and began their march to Bazar by the 
road that led past the village of Chura. The night being dark — the 
moon did not rise till 3 a.m. — and the path a mere mountain-track, 
so narrow and choked with thorny bushes that much of the way the 
men had to move in single file, and seldom could see more than ten 
yards ahead — progress was necessarily very slow, but in other 
respects the march was perfectly performed. Communication 
between aU parts of the long line was well maintained, and the advance 
was delayed by none of those untoward accidents which had marred 
the night march of Generals Macpherson and Tytler ; yet, at four 
o'clock next morning, the column was still half a mile short of Chura, 
and Captain Tucker had to report that his memory and his guides 
had alike misled him as to the distance, that Bazar was still eight 
miles off, and that, as the road to it lay in the bed of the Chura stream 
which would have to be frequently forded by the infantry, there was 
no longer any hope of taking the inhabitants of the valley by surprise. 
Under these circumstances. General Maude ordered a halt, that the 
troops, especially that portion of them which had started from Jamrud 
and been, more or less, under arms since 9 a.m. the previous day, 
might have a breathing space for rest and food. 

1 Two guns, R.H.A., on elephants; 4 mountain guns 11.9 R.A. ; 1 Troop 
13th Bengal Lancers ; 300 men 5th Fusiliers ; 200, Slst Light Infantry ; 560, 
2nd Gurkhas ; and 400, Mhairvvarras. 


When the march was resumed by dayUght and the village of Chura 
had been passed, orders were given to crown the heights on both sides 
of the river, and Lieutenant-Colonel Heathcote, Assistant-Quarter- 
Master-General, was sent forward with a troop of the 13th Bengal 
Lancers to reconnoitre. That officer reporting that he could discover 
no sign of an enemy, the column moved on unopposed except by the 
firing of an occasional shot from the hills, till it reached Wallai, the 
first village in the Bazar Valley. This proved to have been abandoned by 
its inhabitants, and here, about 2 p.m., the troops bivouacked, waiting for 
news of Tytler, with whom, before evening, communication was opened 
up. That officer had moved from Dakka, on the 18th of December, 
with 300 men of the 17th Foot. On the 19th, he was joined at the 
western end of the Khyber Pass, by two guns 11.9 Royal Artillery 
(Mountain Battery) and 250 rifles of the 27th Punjab Infantry, and the 
united Force — 22 officers, 768 men, and 2 guns — continuing its march 
past Chenar, the village which General Tytler had destroyed only ten 
days before, arrived early on the morning of the 20th, at the foot 
of the Sisobi Pass. Traversing this by a zig-zag path, leading upwards 
between oak-clad slopes, and downwards through a narrow gorge, the 
troops descended without hindrance into the Bazar Valley, and 
halted for the night near Kwar, a cave village, three miles north-west 
of Wallai, where not a living creature was to be found. En route, 
Tytler had received the submission of the five villages of the Sisobi 
region, whose headmen made offers of help, and furnished him with 

In Major Cavagnari's arrangements with the Khyber clans, wherever 
he could not prevail upon the whole of the headmen of a tribe to come 
in and accept their share of the subsidy, he came to terms with such 
of them as presented themselves — generally the leaders of the weaker 
of the two factions into which every clan was split. Among the Zakka 
Khel, a tribe even more divided by internal feuds than their neigh- 
bours, such a minority had given in their adhesion to the British 


Government. The chief of this party was Malik Khwas, whom Tucker 
describes as a " tall, handsome, delicate-featured man," who " dresses 
well, and wiU promise to do anything . . . who is considered by his 
own countrymen rapacious, stingy, and absolutely treacherous. His 
word is never believed ; and to these qualities he adds the shameless- 
ness of a beggar." This Khwas had accompanied the expedition into 
Bazar for a purpose which became apparent when, in the afternoon of the 
20th of December, theMaliks of the hostile sections of the Zakka Khel 
came into Maude's camp, to learn from the Political Officer's lips, on 
what conditions their submission would be accepted, and their past 
offences condoned. Tucker was prostrate with fever at the time, 
but Mr. Cunningham, who had volunteered to accompany him, acted 
as his spokesman. The terms to be imposed were as follows— 
First, the payment of a fine of one thousand rupees. 
Second, the providing of six hostages to be named by the Political 

Third, the acceptance of Malik Khwas as their chief. 
The fine might be paid in cash, in arms, or in cattle. Matchlocks 
to be taken at fifteen rupees, rifles, at forty rupees, and cattle, at 
the Commissariat Officer's valuation ; or if the chief, who was to 
be placed over them, considered that their being indebted to him 
would rivet their allegiance, then his security would be accepted for 
the whole sum. These terms were so easy, except as regards the 
clause appointing Khwas chief of the whole Zakka Khel clan, 
which ran counter to all Afridi custom— that General Maude might 
weU feel indignant at having been called upon to make such a display 
of force for so small an object, yet, to Tucker's great surprise, the 
Jirga left camp without accepting them. The explanation of the 
mystery lies in the fact that the deputation, alarmed at sight of the 
troops, had retreated into a cave and left it to Khwas Khan and his 
friend Afridi Khan to negotiate for them. The conference— a lengthy 
one— took place round a camp fire, and, at its conclusion, the two 


chiefs went back to the cave, ostensibly to communicate Cavagnari's 
terms to the expectant headmen. What passed there may be guessed 
from the Jirgah's hasty departure, taken in conjunction with an 
incident that occurred later on in the night. Mr. G. B. Scott, of the 
Survey Department, perhaps the only man in the expedition versed 
in the Afridi tongue, lying awake in the darkness, overheard Khwas 
Khan tell his ally that he had not brought the British into Bazar to 
impose thousand-rupee fines, but to blow up the towers of China, 
which had long been his bane. Khwas had his wish. At nine o'clock 
on the morning of the 21st December, the troops paraded, ready to 
enter on the work of destruction marked out for them by the Political 
Authorities. At the same moment Tytler appeared on the ground 
and had a short interview with Maude, in which it was settled that 
the former should return to Kwar, complete the destruction of that 
place, which his troops had already begun, treat Nikai, a village two 
miles from his position, in a similar manner, and then return to 
Dakka ; whilst the latter was to deal with the remainder of the valley.^ 
Tytler accompUshed his share of the programme by 2 p.m., but even 
that early hour was far too late to admit of his re-crossing the Sisobi 
Pass before dark ; and, as on its southern side no water was to be met 
with, he determined to return by the hitherto unexplored Tabai Pass. 
A suitable camping ground, half-way up a wooded valley, was reached 
by 4.30 p.m., where the column bivouacked for the night ^ in tolerable 

1 General Maude was opposed to the indiscriminate destruction of the tribes- 
men's villages. " As a general rule," he wrote, " the towers only were destroyed 
by the troops vmder my immediate command ; an odd dwelling-house or so 
may also have been burned, but that was an exceptional case. My own feehngs 
have always been opposed to destruction of this sort, its natural tendency bemg 
to exasperation against us." 

2 " It is highlv interesting to note the result of this expedition for a few days 
without tents on the Khyber Hills. The 17th were a .singularly fit regiment, 
and for several days after their return did exceedingly well ; but when the excite- 
ment passed off. the wear and tear and the exposure to the biting cold began 
to tell, and thirty-one cases of pneumonia resulted with eleven deatlis. Thi- 


tranquiUity, owing to the skilful way in which the pickets had been 
placed ; but, by the following morning, the news of the invasion of 
Bazar had spread far and wide, and the tribesmen had gathered in 
such large numbers that Ty tier had to fight his way for miles, first up a 
steep winding road to the top of the Pass, and then down the other side 
along a torrent's rugged bed till, on nearing a small cultivated plain 
owned by friendly Shinwaris, the enemy at last desisted from opposi- 
tion and \vithdrew. 

General Maude's force had a longer day's work before it. Whilst 
the Infantry, with the exception of a strong guard left in charge 
of the camp, advanced upon China, a large cave-viUage in the 
side of the mountain of the same name, a troop of the 18th Bengal 
Lancers, under Major W. H. Macnaughten, which had been despatched 
in advance by a different road to cut off stragglers, penetrated to 
the extreme west of the valley and destroyed the towers of Halwai 
a \illage at the foot of the Pass leading into Bara. At China, 
both the towers and the porticoes of the cave-dweUings were 
blown up, and stacks of fodder burned to the ground. Later in the 
day, Maude sent the 2nd Gurkhas, under Lieutenant-Colonel D. Mac- 
intyre, V.C, to the south of the vaUey, and a detachment of the 
Mhairwarra BattaUon, under Captain O'M. Creagh, to scour the country 
lying to the east of China. When every part of Bazar had been 
visited, the whole force returned to WaUai for the night, and the next 
day re-crossed the mountains to Ali Masjid. The enemy showed 
themselves as the troops retired, and foUowed them up at a distance 
till they entered the Hmits of the Mahkdin Khel, who turned out to 
cover Maude's retirement. 

Except in as far as it failed to surprise the vaUey, the 
First Bazar Expedition was quite successful, and attended by 

was amongst the European soldiers only. But the mortality in the ranks of 
the Native Army and among the wretched followers was much greater." 

Evatt's Personal Recollections. 


hardly any loss, only one man, a private of the 17th Foot, being 
killed, and two British and seven Native soldiers wounded, two 
of the latter subsequently dying. The loss of the Zakka Khel 
must also have been small, as, everywhere, they had disappeared 
before the troops could reach their villages, carrying off their families, 
cattle, and household goods to inaccessible refuges amongst the 
hills. One untoward incident, however, marred the satisfaction with 
which the Political Officer regarded this punitive raid into the territory 
of the most troublesome of the Khyber tribes. The Kadah (families 
and cattle) of the nomadic portion of the Malakdin Khel, which clan 
had excited the anger of the Zakka Khel by entering into alhance 
with the invading force, had been waiting for a favourable opportunity 
to pass through Bazar, on their way from their summer quarters in 
Tirah to their winter homes near Kajurai, and, counting on the presence 
of the British troops for protection, they tried, on the 21st of December, 
to rush through the valley. Mistaken for a party of the enemy, they 
were pursued and captured by a detachment out in search of cattle, 
one man being unfortunately shot. As soon as Captain Tucker dis- 
covered the mistake that had been made, he released the captives, 
ordered their arms and possessions to be returned to them, and gave 
three hundred rupees to the family of the dead man. Not content 
with tliis reparation, though it seems to have contented the Malikdin 
Khel, he suggested to Cavagnari that a further sum of two hundred 
rupees should be divided among the party as compensation for the 
loss of any httle articles that the troops might have taken from 
them, and failed to give back ; and as an acknowledgment of the 
friendly spirit displayed by the whole tribe, he also advised that 
three hundred rupees should be given to its chief, and another three 
hundred to the inhabitants of Chura. These recommendations were 
sanctioned by Major Cavagnari who, in reporting the occurrence to 
Government, called attention to the " strange coincidence that 
during the advance through the Khyber in 1837 a similar mistake 


occurred, and a relative of Khan Bahadur Khan, the friendly chief 
of this very same tribe, was shot by some of our troops." 


On his return march, Tytler adopted the unusual course of giving 
to eacli regiment the charge of its own baggage, thus interposing 
camp followers and baggage animals between the different units of 
the column, a disposition which must have interfered with the mobility 
of his troops and with his power of control over them as a united body. 
In his report, Tytler mentioned that the 17th Regiment and the 
27th Native Infantry emerged from a portion of the Pass only five 
or six feet wide, " in some confusion," and were met, at the outlet, 
by a heavy fire from Afridis hidden in a gorge. Such confusion was 
inseparable from the formation he had given to his Force ; and had a 
large body of the enemy, instead of only a hundred men, been posted 
at this point, disaster might have ensued. 

Wlien an enemy has been dislodged from the entrance to a defile 
by the leading troops, the heights crowned by strong flanking parties, 
and tactical points in the Pass itself occupied (and all these things 
Tytler had done), there need be little fear for the baggage if each 
regiment has furnished a detachment for the supervision of its own 
and the column is covered by a strong rearguard, for it will then 
be in the centre of a hollow square, two sides of which are the flanking 
parties, and the other two the advanced and rearguards— the safest 
position it could possibly occupy. 

The Occupation of the Kuram Forts 

The Kuram Valley, the scene of General Roberts's advance, is separated, 
on the north, from the Khyber and the Valley of Jellalabad where 
General Maude and Sir Sam Browne were operating, by the impassable 
barrier of the Safed Koh. To the south lies the smaller Valley of 
Khost, embedded in savage hills which no Englishman had yet ex- 
plored, and to the west, thrown off from Sika Ram, the highest peak 
of the Safed Koh, rises the Peiwar Mountain, a formidable spur with 
flanking buttresses and intersecting ravines, clothed from base to 
summit with cedars, pine and oak, interlaced by an almost impene- 
trable undergrowth. 

The valley is about sixty miles long, and from three to 
twelve miles wide. The river from which it takes its name, 
rushes out of a deep rocky chasm a few miles above the 
Kuram Forts, and broadens out almost immediately to a width 
of four hundred and fifty feet. Twenty miles below the Forts, 
its bed measures seven hundred and fifty feet, and at Badish 
Khel, eighteen miles further on, twelve hundred. From this 
point, it continues to widen slowly till it reaches the hilly country 
near Thai where it contracts, opening out again four miles above that 
village, opposite which its bed attains to a width of fifteen hundred 
feet, though its water-channel in the cold weather, is barely a hundred 
feet wide and three feet deep. 


There are villages on its banks, and in the open country between 
Badish Khel and Keraiah. These are surrounded by orchards, and 
the land in their neighbourhood has been elaborately terraced and 
irrigated by channels brought from higher up the stream ; but, except 
for these oases, the creation of man's toil, the Kuram Valley is a stony 
waste, offering a striking contrast to the pretty, green glens lying 
between the well wooded offshoots of the Safed Koh. Its upper part 
is inhabited by the Turis, and the lower, by the Bungash, a clan that 
once owned the whole district, but has gradually been dispossessed and 
driven lower down the river by the former people, who, in their turn, 
live in constant terror of the tribes dwelhng among the hill-ranges to 
the West and South. 

There were paths up the valley on either side the river, but that 
on the right bank, although it entailed a two-fold crossing of its bed, 
was the one selected by General Roberts for the advance of his Force, 
on account of its greater openness and comparative immunity from 
the raids of the marauding Zymukhts, whose territory marches with 
the Kuram Valley on the east. This route starts from Kapiyang, the 
fortified Afghan Customs' Post, whose mud walls and round corner 
towers had, for many days past, been an object of curious attention to 
the British and Native troops collecting at Thai. Afghan soldiers had 
been seen going in and out of its gates : were they few or many, and 
what were the chances of their allowing themselves to be surprised 
and made prisoners ? The little fort was no Ali Masjid, and there 
would be small glory in taking it ; but every man in Roberts's com- 
mand felt that it would be pleasant to fire a few shots on the first day 
of the campaign, and trusted that the Afghans would stick to their 

This very natural hope was, however, doomed to disappointment. 
The Afghans knew perfectly well that the 21st of November would 
see the war begin, and, although the vanguard of the Kuram Field Force 
was afoot long before day, and the passage of the river was rapidly 


effected, the only prisoners taken were three little children left 
behind by their people in the confusion of a hasty retirement. 

That retirement, however, had evidently been so recent that there 
seemed reason to beheve that the fugitives might still be overtaken on 
the road, or at Ahmed-i-Shama, a second Afghan post, the exact 
counterpart of the first, eight miles higher up the valley. So the 10th 
Hussars and the 12th Bengal Cavalry— the former regiments had 
forded the river a mile below the trestle bridge, and two companies of 
the 29th Punjab Infantry a mile above it i— rushed off in pursuit, 
and rode at break-neck pace, up hill and down hiU, over the roughest 
of rough ground, past position after position, where resolute foes with 
rifles in their hands could literally have annihilated them ; but not 
a gUmpse did they catch of any living soul, and the fort at Ahmed-i- 
Shama they found deserted. Here, therefore, the cavalry rested for the 
day, and here, in the evening, they were joined by the remainder of 
the vanguard, under Colonel J. J. H. Gordon, which had waited at 
Kapiyang till Cobbe's Brigade had crossed the Kuram. 

The foUowing day, Thelwall's Brigade being still detained at Thai, 
Cobbe's Brigade had to be split up into two detachments, one of which 
under the Brigadier himself, continued to occupy Kapiyang, and the 
other under Colonel Stiriing, its progress impeded by the Horse 
Artillery Battery, and the Commissariat camels, carrying twelve 
days' provisions for the whole Force, moved slowly and painfuUy up 
to Ahmed-i-Shama to replace the advanced guard, which had pushed 
on to Hazir Pir Ziarat, sixteen miles beyond its first halting-place. 

For the first four miles of this second day's march, the narrow, 
tortuous track, thickly strewn with boulders, ran, once again, through a 
silent wilderness ; but, on emerging from a forest of dwarf-palm, the 
troops entered on a belt of cultivation half a mile broad and twelve 

1 The fords were only three feet deep ; but, according to the Regimental 
Records of the 10th Hussars, the current was so rapid that several horses were 
swept down stream, their riders narrowly escaping drowning. 


miles long, where villages were numerous, and welcome supplies and 
some information as to the whereabouts of the enemy, who were re- 
ported to be still at the Kuram Forts, could be obtained. 

Gordon's party spent the 23rd of November at Hazir Pir in 
waiting for Stirling's detachment to come up ; but those first four miles 
out of Ahmed-i-Shama presented such difficulties to the advance of the 
Artillery — the Engineers were kept busy blowing up boulders to clear 
the way for the guns — that the latter had to halt for the night at 
Esoar, four miles short of its destination. The same day, Thelwall's 
Brigade, bringing with it the Divisional Reserve ammunition, at last 
crossed the river, thus setting Cobbe free to move up to Ahmed-i- 
Shama, and Headquarters to push on to Hazir Pir, where General 
Roberts held a Durbar, to which all the headmen of the valley were 
invited to receive, from his own lips, the assurance of the British 
Government's benevolent intentions towards the inhabitants, so long 
as they offered no resistance and abstained from plundering. 

On the 24th, there was movement all along the line : Thelwall's 
Brigade marching to Ahmed-i-Shama, Cobbe's two detachments 
coming together at Hazir Pir, and the vanguard re-inforced by a 
wing of the 5th Punjab Infantry, escorting Headquarters to a camp- 
ing ground at the southern end of the Darwaza Pass. Here, for the 
first time, real cold was experienced, the thermometer falling at night 
several degrees below freezing-point ; luckily, however, the air was 
dry and still, and even the camp followers suffered little from the low 

On the 25th, news having been brought in that the last of the 
Amir's troops had evacuated the Kuram Forts, Headquarters, escorted 
as before, marched through the Darwaza Pass, crossed the river, and 
pitched their camp in an open plain well supplied with water, half a 
mile below the Forts. That night was spent by the 1st Brigade at the 
entrance to the Darwaza Pass, and by the 2nd, at Hazir Pir. The 
former was to have joined General Roberts the next day, but the Horse 


Artillery Battery once again acted as a drag, and it got no further 
than Koh Mangi. As a consequence of this delay, both Brigades 
crossed on the 27th of November, when all the separate units of 
General Roberts's command were united for the first time on Afghan 
soil, and the first object of the campaign had been accomplished— 
in six days, and without the striking of a blow. 

The advance from Thai to the Kuram Forts was conducted 
throughout on the assumption that the Afghans would make no use 
of the many opportunities for faUing unexpectedly on the invading 
Force, afforded to them by the nature of the ground through 
which the narrow, stony track threaded its difficult way. From the 
first, the column was divided into four, afterwards, into three detach- 
ments, and these, again, were separated by marches so long that each 
body was completely isolated. Hazir Pir Ziarat was sixteen miles 
from Ahmed-i-Shama ; yet the vanguard, numbering hardly eight 
hundred men, lay two nights at the former viUage, awaiting the 
arrival of the leading detachment of Cobbe's Brigade, which found it 
impossible to accomphsh the march from the latter place in a single 
day. Again, the same body, re-inforced only by a wing of the 5th 
Punjab Infantry, the General and his Staff being with it, spent two 
days and nights outside the Kuram Forts, two thousand regular Afghan 
troops with twelve cannon, and an unknown number of warlike 
tribesmen in its front, a river at its back, and, for the greater part of 
the time, twelve miles of exceptionally difficult country between it 
and its nearest support. 


Preliminary Operations on the Peiwar Mountain 

General Roberts's first act after crossing theKuram, was to inspect 
the Forts; his second, to reconnoitre the enemy's position. Accom- 
panied by two squadrons of the 12th Bengal Cavaky, he rode forward 
twelve miles to a point near the village of Peiwar, from which, through 
field-glasses, the Afghans could be observed retiring in the direction 
of the Kotal, a col eight thousand six hundred feet above the level 
of the sea, three thousand eight hundred and twenty above the Forts, 
over which runs the road that connects the Kuram Valley with Kabul. 
Turi spies reported that the movements of the retreating troops, con- 
sisting of three infantry regiments, were much hampered by the 
twelve field-guns they had with them. Later on this rumour took 
a more definite form-the twelve gun-carriages had stuck in the 
ravine at the foot of the Pass— and in this shape it was so frequently 
and 80 positively repeated, that, in therad, General Roberts was fuUy 
convinced of its truth, and based upon it the plan of attack which he 
attempted to carry out two days later. At the moment, no advan- 
tage could be taken of the supposed difficulties of the enemy, so the 
reconnoitring party returned to camp to await the arrival of Cobbe's 
and Thelwall's Brigades.^ 

' It was rather hard to retire, and one could see that Colonel H. Gough was 
dying to make a dash at the enemy. But General Roberts wisely restrained 
him, and after a good look, we returned to camp with the firm behef that the 
guns would fall into our hands whenever we were prepared to take them. 
(Timts Correspondent, November 29th, 1878.) 



The 27th was a busy day for the sappers, who were set to work at 
the Kuram Forts, improving gateways, re-roofing sheds, and generally 
repairing the damage done by the Turies during the interval which 
elapsed between the withdrawal of the Afghan and the arrival of the 
British troops. Both the upper and the lower forts were in too ruinous 
a condition to be rendered defensible, but a little labour adapted them 
to the purpose for which they were required. The least dilapidated 
buildings were set aside as hospitals and storehouses for surplus stores 
of all kinds, and a small garrison, consisting of two guns F.A Royal 
Horse ArtiUery, a squadron of the 10th Hussars, three guns G.3 
Royal Artillery, the 7th Company Sappers and Miners, and the sick 
and weakly men of all regiments were detailed for their protection. 
With these exceptions, aU the troops under General Roberts's command 
were to take part in the advance on the Peiwar Mountain, which had 
been arranged for the foUowing day. In order to march lightly througli 
the difficult hill-country in which the force was about to operate, the 
already low scale of baggage, both for officers and men, was ordered 
to be still further cut down ; only seven days' supplies were to 
accompany the expedition, and commanding officers were directed to 
dispense, as far as possible, with camp-foUowers ; even then, there 
were neariy three thousand of these necessary evils, owing to the 
number of dandies and doolies which, with severe fighting in pros- 
pect, it was impossible to leave behind. 

The troops were under arms by five o'clock, on the morning of the 
28th, formed up in two columns :— 

Left Column. Right Column. 

Brigadier-General Cobbe, Brigadier-General Thelwall, 

commanding. commanding. 

Advanced Guard. Advanced Guard. 

1 Squadron 12th Bengal Cavalry. 1 Squadron 12th Bengal Cavalry. 

2 guns No. 1 Mountain Battery. 2 Guns No. 1 Mountain Battery. 
4 Companies 5th Punjab Infantry. 4 Companies 5th Gurkhas. 


Main Body 

5th Punjab Infantry. 5th Gurkhas. 

23rd Pioneers. 72 Highlanders. 

29th Punjab Infantry. 2nd Punjab Infantry. 

8th " King's." 2 Guns F.A.,Royal Horse Artillery 

2 guns, F.A., Royal Horse Ax- on elephants, 

tillery, on elephants. 

It was bitterly cold, and so dark that some of the regiments had 
hardly left their respective camping grounds before they became 
entangled in a net-work of ravines and watercourses, in which they 
wandered about, lost and bewildered, till the dawning of light enabled 
them to discover the direction of the appointed rendezvous} By six 
o'clock order had been restored, except that aU the four guns carried 
on elephants, attached themselves to-Thelwall's Brigade with which 
they remained during the day, and the two columns moved off parallel 
to each other.^ As a whole, the force moved but slowly, for the 
banks of numerous drainage lines had to be ramped before the guns 
and baggage could pass over them, but the head of the left column which were the General and his Staff, pressed on in front and 
reached Habib I^lla, fourteen miles from the Kuram Forts, soon after 
10 a.m. Here, Roberts halted the Cavalry; but, deceived anew bv 
fresh reports that the Afghans were retreating in disorder, he deter'- 
mmed to push forward the Infantry in the hope of capturing the guns 
which he believed to be within his grasp. Accordingly, as soon as 

y' On the 28th November, at 3.30, the regiment (8th King's) paraded 
Its tents bemg by this time struck and loaded on mules . . . We had a haM 
day smarehmg before us, so the men were obliged to parade as lightly dothed as 
possible. The morning was dark and bitterly cold, and for the best pa ' o 
iZatTTl TTt ''°''' ^^^^^°^^^-^' - °- P-de or close to it I " 
™et^:tt"^^^ ''' '' ^^^""--^' ^- ^ ^^^-on,8th, the 

' '• The stars were still shining when we started, but it was very dark and we 
were chilled to the bone by a breeze blowing straight off the snows of the SafaL 
Koh ; towards sum-Lse it died away, and was followed by oppressive heat and 
clouds of dust." (Forty-one Years in India, page 131.) 


the left column had closed up, he directed Cobbe to turn the spur that 
overlooks the ascent to the Peiwar Kotal, and to seize Turrai, a village 
lying at the base of that spur about a mile in a straight Hne from the 
summit of the pass, to foUow up closely any body of troops they 
:night come across ^ at the same time, orders were despatched to 
Thelwall to support Cobbe's movement by marching on Turrai by 
the direct road that traverses the village of Peiwar. 

In the thickets of prickly oak through which the 1st Brigade had 
now to struggle, it was an easy thing to miss the direction, and for 
one corps to lose touch of another ; and thus it happened that, though 
Cobbe with the 5th and 29th Punjab Infantry and two guns, carried 
out his instructions, the 8th King's and the 23rd Pioneers went astray, 
and, keeping on the northern side of the spur eventuaUy fell in with 
Thelwall's column. Seeing nothing of the enemy on the southern 
slope of the hill, Cobbe struck across it by a track which appeared to 
lead straight to Turrai, but which brought him instead to the entrance 
of a narrow gorge opening into a small valley, since known as "The 
Devil's Punch Bowl." Hardly had the leading files set foot in this pas- 
sage, when, high above their heads, crowning inaccessible heights, the 
Afghans started into view. A glance at their numbers and the formid- 
able position they had taken up. convinced Cobbe that the only course 
open to him was instantly to withdraw his tired and weakened force 
from the defile, and to faU back upon Turrai which now lay a quarter 
of a mile in his rear, though whether he should find that viUage aban- 
doned or held by the enemy, he had no means of knowing. The order 
to retire was accordingly given, but no sooner had the retreat begun 
than a number of Afghans rushed down the steep mountain-side, and 
the troops had to turn to meet their attack. Some sharp fighting 
followed, in which a driver was killed, and one British officer-Captain 
A. J. F. Reid— and one Native officer and eight sepoys wounded. The 

1 With the Kuram Field Force, page 89, by Major Colquhoun. 


two mountain-guns were brought into action, but the shells they threw 
did little harm to the enemy; and though the 29th, supported by a 
wing of the 5th Punjab Infantry, drove back their assailants, and even 
pursued them up the hill for a short distance, Cobbe would have had 
great difficulty in making good his retreat to Turrai, if, at 2 p.m.. 
General Roberts had not come up with Thelwall's column, and instantly 
sent forward the 5th Gurkhas who, from behind some sheltering rocks, 
poured a deadly &e into the advancing Afghans, under cover of 
which the 29th were safely withdrawn out of action. Fighting now 
ceased ; the enemy retired to the hill-tops from which they had 
descended, whilst Roberts, recognizing, at last, that nothing could 
be successfuUy attempted against them without far better informa- 
tion as to their strength and position than he had hitherto possessed, 
and perceiving that his men, who had been on foot and almost con- 
stantly in motion for ten consecutive hours, were utterly worn out, 
gave the order to encamp. Unluckily, in selecting a site for the camp 
on the terraces below Turrai, he reckoned ^without the Afghans, 
who were not slow to discover that the British position was com- 
manded by one of the many spurs of the Peiwar Mountain, and, being 
as fresh as their adversary was jaded, had soon dragged a gun to its 

About 4 p.m., shells began unexpectedly to drop among the groups 
of British and Native soldiers who, having piled arms, had thrown 
themselves on the ground to rest, and it became apparent that safer 
quarters must be sought, and sought quickly, since the short winter's 
day was already near its close.i The neighbourhood of Turrai 

^ "One shell burst on the gi^ound mthin six or seven yards of Villiers N 
Chamberlain, Perkins and myself, sending the pebbles and stones flyin- all 
round my ears. Several about the same range bm-st at a place where some 
two hundred Gurkhas were standing, but ciu-ioasly enough only two or three 
were hit." ("Old Memories," by General Sir Hugh Gough, V.C, G.C B • the 
May number of the Pall Mall Magazine for 1 898, page 45. ) 



afforded no position out of range of the Afghan fire ; further advance 
was impossible ; there was tlierefore no alternative but to faU back 
along the road by which Thelwall's column had marched, and up 
which the baggage was stiU advancing. On the rough, narrow track, 
in the gathering darkness, troops and baggage met, and soon men 
and animals, soldiers and camp-followers were mingled in one confused 
and struggUng mass. And when, at last, the troops succeeded in 
forcing their way through the living stream opposed to them, and 
reached the new camping-place which meanwhile had been hastily 
selected, about a mile and a quarter to the west of Turrai, they found 
it strewn with rocks and stones, dotted over with dwarf oak and thorny 
bushes, and shut in on three sides by jungle and broken ground in 
which a scattered enemy might lurk unobserved, whilst a deep ravine 
running along the remaining side, afforded cover in which they might 
have collected in large numbers, to rush the camp. The spot was 
utterly unsuitable as a resting-place, and yet the best that could be 
found, short of falling back another three miles to the more open 
country near the village of Peiwar. 

Little by little, as the strayed mules and camels were recovered 
and brought in, tents were pitched and the different regiments sought 
and found their baggage ; but so great were the difficulties of the situa- 
tion and the hour that, in the end, many a man " went supperless to 
bed or to the strong pickets which were placed on the adjoining 
heights." ^ 

General Roberts, in his despatch of the 5th of December, 
calls the operations of the 28th of November a Reconnaissance 
in Force, but, looking carefully at all the events of the day 
and taking special note of the order given to Cobbe to attack 
and follow up the enemy, it is impossible to accord to them this 

1 With the Kuram Field Force, 1878-79, by Major Colqiihoun, page 92. 


misleading name.t It is contrary to all military precedent for a 
Commander to make a reconnaissance with the whole of his force, 
including guns on elephants ; and no General would direct his subordi- 
nates, at the end of a twenty-one miles' march, to attack, with hungry 
and exhausted men, an unkno^vn enemy in a position of extraor- 
dinary natural strength, except in the hope of snatching a success by 
the very irregularity and temerity of his tactics. There can be no 
doubt that Roberts, misled by the Turi spies, who were probably 
employed by the Afghans to deceive him,^ imagined that he could 
make himself master of the Peiwar Kotal by a couv-de-main, and 
started from the Kuram Forts with this object in view. The retreat- 
ing enemy proved to be calmly awaiting his approach, protected by 
the cannon which were supposed to be lying bogged at the foot of 
the pass ; Cobbe's troops, that had been pushed forward into the very 
heart of the Afghan position, were for a time in extreme peril ; and 
that the whole Division escaped an overwhelming disaster in with- 
drawing from their first untenable camping-ground, was due entirely 
to the lack of judgment displayed by the adversary. ^ 

^ " One Brigade, under Brigadier-General Cobbe, . . . was sent sldrmishing 
over the hills overlooking the pass on the left, to seek for the enemy and make 
a strong demonstration on his right flank ; and General Thelwall's Brigade 
somewhat in echelon by the right ; with this latter column the General proposed 
maUng a direct attack through the pass.^' (Italics not in original text ) (" Old 
Memories," page 44, by Sir Hugh Gough in Pall Mall Magazine, May, 1898 ) 

" In war, spies and their information count for nothing. To trust to them 
is to risk men's lives on trifling grounds." (Napoleon.) 

' " The eagerness of the Afghans to commence hostihties, was the salvation 
of the force. If, knowing the range as they did, and being in an inaccessible 
position, they had been content to wait till the camp was pitched at Turrai 
and had commenced to shell the camp with all their mountain-guns after dark 
had set m, the consequence would have been most serious. Nothinc. could 
then have been done, except to withdraw from the camp ; but, in all probability 
there would have been a stampede among the mules and their owners who 
with the other camp-followers, would have taken themselves well out of reach of 
danger. The camp, with all the bedding and baggage, miglit have been burned 
down, and the Kuram Field Force have been rendered hors de combat for 
some time." ( With the Kuram Field Force, page 92, by Major Colquhoun ) 


Reconnoitring the Peiwar Mountain 

On the morning of the 29th of November, having again sHghtly shifted 
his camp which took the name of Gubazan from an adjacent hamlet, 
and taken steps to improve its approaches and to render it somewhat 
less open to attack, General Roberts, taught caution by the events of 
the preceding day, went to work to reconnoitre the Peiwar Moun- 
tain ; but the parties he sent out were too weak to venture into the 
vicinity of the enemy, and the reports they brought back were, in 
consequence, incorrect in more than one particular .^ 

There were three reconnoitring parties. The first, consisting of 
two companies of the 23rd Pioneers, under Colonel JE. Perkins, Com- 
manding Engineer, was directed to investigate the ridge lying im- 
mediately to the north of the camp ; the second, one company of the 
29th Punjab Infantry, Colonel J. H. Gordon commanding, was dis- 
patched to the southernmost spur of the Peiwar, the foot of which 
approaches the Kuram River ; to the third, consisting, like the first, 
of two companies of the Pioneers, under Major H. CoUett, who was 
accompanied by Captain F. S. Carr, Captain R. G. Woodthorpe, R.E., 
and Lieutenant Manners-Smith-the two latter officers belonging to 

1 "We halted the two following days. Men and cattle were exhausted from 
their fatiguing marches, and supplies had to be brought up before we could ad- 
vance further ; besides, I required time to look about me before making up ray 
mind how the Peiwar Kotal could most advantageously be attacked." (Forty- 
One Years in India r p. 133.) Napoleon bitterly complained that Wellington 
had been attacked at Talavera without first ascertaining whether his position 
could be carried. " So long as these errors are committed," he said, " my men 
will be led on to destruction and to no good piu-pose." 



the Survey Department— was allotted the task of examining the 
alternative road over the Peiwar Mountain, known as the Spin 
Gawai, or White Cow Pass, which starts from the village of Peiwar 
and crosses the main ridge about two miles to the north-east of the 
Peiwar Kotal. 

Perkins reported unfavourably of the spur north of the camp : 
it did not run up direct to the main ridge, but dipped suddenly into 
a deep valley, to descend into and to emerge from which under the fire 
of a strongly posted enemy, must necessarily entail heavy loss on a 
flanking party. Colonel Gordon, on the contrary, was satisfied that 
the southern spur was really a continuation of the main ridge, and 
practicable for a turning movement, an opinion which proved to be 
well grounded. The third reconnoitring party, which had scaled a 
hill overlooking the Spin Gawai Ravine, a mile and a half south-east 
of the Spin Gawai Kotal, also brought back a favourable report ; but 
in this case the judgment formed by Major H. Collett, based as it was on 
a bird's-eye view of a very rugged and thickly wooded country, was 
vitiated by several errors. He pronounced the Spin Gawai Pass 
practicable for all arms ; and in this he was right. But when he gave 
it as his opinion that an unbroken ridge connected the two kotals, 
and that the Spin Gawai position was held only by a picket and two 
guns, he was mistaken ; nor was he more happy in his estimate of the 
time required to reach the Peiwar Kotal by this route, which he set 
down at seven hours. 

The following day, Gordon again reconnoitred the southern spur 
of the Peiwar Mountain, and Roberts went over the ground that 
Perkins had examined, whilst Collett and Carr, this time without any 
escort, succeeded in getting, once again, within a mile and a half of the 
Spin Gawai Kotal, and returned to camp with the opinions they had 
previously formed so strengthened that the former officer laid a plan 
for surprising the Spin Gawai position, and then advancing along the 
ridge to the storming of the Peiwar Kotal, before the General who 


adopted it, under the erroneous impression that the Afghan strength 
which he would have to encounter, did not exceed the 1,800 men, with 
five field and six mountain guns, that had occupied the Kuram Valley, 
and withdrawn from it, at the approach of the British. This was, indeed, 
the case on the 30th of November ; but by the evening of December 1st, 
the Afghan force holding the Peiwar Mountain, had been increased 
to 4,800 men with seventeen guns, by the arrival of four regiments and 
six guns from Kabul ; and there is the best authority for saying that this 
force was no untrained rabble. " I may be permitted to point out," 
wrote General Roberts in his despatch of the 5th of December, " that no 
similarity exists between the Afghan army of the former war and that 
which has now been put into the field. The men are now armed with 
excellent rifles, and provided with abundance of ammunition . . . 
Their shooting is good ; their men are of large stature and great 
physical strength and courage, and are well clothed. The Afghan 
artillery is well served and efficiently equipped."^ The military 
knowledge and ability of the generals in command of this excellent 
material — Kerim Khan and his Brigadiers, Gool Mahomed Khan and 
Abdul Ali — is attested by their choice of a position and their disposi- 
tions for defending it. Its only defect was its length — four miles 
from the end of the spur reconnoitred by Gordon on its extreme 
right, to the Spin Gawai Kotal on its extreme left ; but the whole of 
the ridge was so difficult of access, and so completely dominated at 
various points by knolls and peaks, which had been carefully fortified, 
that they were justified in believing it to be practically safe against 

This long ridge extends from south-west to north-east, the suc- 

* General Roberts's comparison, so far as it implies that the Afghans were 
more on an equality with their invaders in the matter of weapons in the second 
war than in the first, is incorrect, as the jazails of the Tribesmen who shot down 
Elphinstone's men like sheep, were better arms, carrying farther than themuskots 
of the British and native troops. — H.B.H. 


cessive hills that rise from it, increasing in height as they recede from 

the Kuram River till they culminate in the mountain above the Spin 

Gawai Kotal— that kotal being itself nine thousand four hundred 

feet above sea-level— from which point a spur runs nearly due 

north to the majestic peak of Sikka Ram. The Afghan position 

on the Peiwar Kotal, was crescent-shaped, facing south-east — more 

east than south— its horns threatening the British camp. Guarding the 

head of the pass on its northern side, rises a conical hill, and beyond 

this, a little to eastward, running from south-east to north-west and 

forming a right angle with the true front of the position, stretches a 

ridge a mile and a half long, afterwards known as Afghan HiU. The 

north-eastern face of this ridge dips suddenly into a deep hollow with 

precipitous sides, which hollow falls away at either end, leaving as 

the only traversable ground, a narrow strip of land, overlapped by 

Afghan HiU for a mile on the left, and half a mile on the right. This neck 

connects that hill with a higher peak, to which, on the 2nd December, 

General Roberts's troops gave the name of Pic-nic Hill. Looked at 

from the spot reached by Major CoUett, these two hills would seem 

to spring from an unbroken ridge ; but between them, in reality, lies 

this deep and difficult hollow, cutting the Peiwar Mountain into two 

distinct halves, only united by the narrow strip of land between the 

points where the drainage hues, to either side, begin their precipitous 

descent. Between Pic-nic Hill and the Spin Gawai Kotal stretches a 

plateau, or, more properly speaking, an upland vaUey, about a mile 

long and three-quarters of a mile broad, bordered by a succession of 

wooded hillocks. Afghan Hill is covered with dense forest, laced 

together by tangled undergrowth, whilst the south-eastern slope of 

Pic-nic Hill is comparatively open. From this latter, spring two 

spurs, one flanking the Peiwar Ravine, the other abutting on the valley 

close to Gubazan. The direct road to the Peiwar Kotal is exceedingly 

difficult — rough, narrow, steep — especially for the last half-mile. 

At the summit it turns away to the left, and descends towards Zabar- 


dust Killa through a deep defile, at the entrance of which, unseen from 
below, the Afghans had pitched their camp. 

Although possessing seventeen guns, the Afghans, on the 2nd 
December, only brought nine into action — three field and six mountain- 
guns — probably for lack of trained artillerymen to work the other eight ; 
but those nine were most judiciously placed. The three field-pieces — 
two twelve-pounder Howitzers and one six-pounder — were ranged 
thirty yards apart on the reverse slope of the Peiwar Kotal, where they 
completely commanded the pass, and were well protected against fire 
from below. The mountain-gun which had shelled the British camp on 
the evening of the 28th of November, was still on the edge of the hill over- 
looking the village of Turrai, christened "One Gun Spur" by Roberts's 
men, out of compliment to that weapon ; whilst a second was placed 
half-way up the same hill, in a rocky hiding-place, known subsequently 
as the " Crow's Nest." The former swept the road leading up to the 
kotal from Turrai, and the latter, the series of spurs which branch off 
from the hill bounding the valley on its north-eastern side. Two 
mountain-guns were posted to the right of the Peiwar Kotal to guard 
against attack from the south-west, whilst two more were emj)loyed 
in the defence of the Spin Gawai Kotal. The approach to this last- 
named summit being somewhat less difficult than that to the Peiwar 
Kotal, what was deficient in the natural defensibihty of the position, 
had been artificially supplied. The Afghans, like all hill-tribes, excel 
in the construction of sangars or breastworks. These are usually formed 
of large trees, placed lengthwise one above the other, or, where timber 
is scarce, of stones and brushwood, and give excellent cover to their 
defenders. Three such lines of defence had been erected on the spur 
up which the road runs in zig-zags to the top of the Spin Gawai Pass. 
The lowest breastwork spanned the ridge, completely blocking the 
pathway ; the second, two hundred and fifty feet higher up, extended 
only partially across the spur which had widened out ; behind the 
third, three hundred feet above the second, and parallel with the last 


zig-zag, the two mountain-guns had been posted. The kotal itself 
was dotted over with knolls, and beyond these to the north-east rose 
thickly wooded slopes. 

Such was the enemy and such the position which General Roberts, 
acting on the information laid before him by Major Collett on the 30th of 
November, had determined to attack at daybreak of the 2nd December, 
^vith thirteen guns and three thousand three hundred and fourteen troops 
of all arms ; meantime, however, he kept his own counsel, deceiving 
the Amir's commanders and the " friendly " natives as to his inten- 
tions and his strength, by marking out sites for batteries near Turrai, 
and parading his reinforcements of Cavalry and Artillery brought up 
from Habib Killa and the Kuram Forts, in full view of the Afghans, 
whilst secretly working out the details of the plan which, at 4 p.m. on 
the 1st of December, he laid before his staff and the senior regimental 

The main body of the British force, consisting of the 29th Punjab 
Infantry, 5th Gurkhas, Wing 72 Highlanders, 2nd Punjab Infantry, 
23rd Pioneers, No. 1 Mountain Battery and four guns F.A. Royal 
Horse Artillery on elephants, under the General's own command, were 
to start from camp Gubazan at ten o'clock that night ; and he calcu- 
lated that, allowing for one halt, it would reach the Spin Gawai Kotal 
at dawn the next day. This it was to storm, and then to press on 
along the Spin Gawai Plateau to attack the left of the Peiwar Kotal 
position. The troops and artillery left with Cobbe, namely, the 5th 
Punjab Infantry, a wing of the 2/8, " King's," two guns F/A Royal 
Horse Artillery, three guns G/3 Royal Artillery, and two squadrons 
12th Bengal Cavalry, were to steal out of camp very early on the 
morning of the 2nd, and to establish themselves at the foot of the 
Peiwar Pass. As soon as it was light enough to distinguish the enemy's 
guns, the British guns were to open upon them, and when their fire had 

1 Despatch of December the 5th, 1878. 


begun to tell, the Infantry was to push its way along the hills on the 
right of the valley, so as to be in readiness to assault the Kotal in front, 
when the turning party should attack it in flank ; meanwhile Major A. 
P. Palmer was to lead five hundred friendly Turisup Gordon's Spur, to 
threaten the true right of the Afghan position. The turning party 
was to consist of two thousand two hundred and sixty-three officers 
and men and eight guns ; whilst with Cobbe, who would have to per- 
form the threefold duty of protecting the camp, keeping open the 
communications with Thai, and making the front attack, there were 
to remain but five guns and one thousand and fifty-one men of all 
ranks, of whom eight hundred and sixty-eight were to be employed 
in the advance on the Kotal. 

Action on the Peiwar Mountain 


At dusk, on the evening of the 1st of December, the troops selected to 
take part in the night-march, were warned, and at 10 p.m. the Turn- 
ing Party started, each regiment being followed by its own ammunition 
mules, and by its hospital doolies and dandies. Those belonging to the 
29th Punjab Infantry, who, with the 5th Gurkhas, formed the advanced 
guard under Colonel Gordon, Brigadier-General Thelwall command- 
ing the main body, went astray almost at once, and proceeded up the 
valley towards Turrai. The challenge of an outlying piquet showed 
them their mistake, and they hurried back in time to take up their 
proper place in the column. 

The first stage of the march lay over ground already known to 
many of the men ; the road also was fairly good ; yet, so slow was the 
movement of the long line of troops, hampered as they were by the 
intervening mules and litters, that it was midnight before they passed 
the village of Peiwar and arrived at the edge of the Spin Gawai Nullah. 
Here they were to have rested, but as i by this time ithad become clear 
that, if the Spin Gawai Kotal was to be attacked at dawn, no time 
must be lost by the way, the leading regiments at once plunged 
down into the ravine. The descent was twenty feet deep, rough 
with projecting ledges, and slippery with frost, so that great difficulty 
was experienced in getting the mules safely to the bottom. As the 
Force advanced the cold grew more and more severe ; the darkness, 
too, deepened, for though the waning moon had risen, its light hardly 


penetrated into the nullah, and it was no easy matter to keep the regi- 
ments in touch. At one point, where there was a turn in the track, 
the 2nd Punjab Infantry lost their way, and, as their lead was followed 
by the 23rd Pioneers, the four guns on elephants and all the animals 
and camp-followers belonging to both corps, nearly half the column 
had gone two miles in a wrong direction, actually heading back to the 
village of Peiwar, before it was overtaken and recalled by Lieutenant 
G. V. Turner, who had been sent by Thelwall to look for them. Further 
on, the 72nd Highlanders halted in perplexity, vainly straining their 
eyes to discover what had become of the 5th Gurklias, which was 
immediately in their front. It turned out that one regiment had gone 
to the right, the other to the left of a wooded island lying in mid- 
channel. Still, progress was made. Very slowly, and in profound 
silence, the men moved upwards, climbing over ridges of loosely lieaped- 
up stones, stumbling over boulders, splashing through icy water, avoid- 
ing the deep holes of dried-up pools, or falling into them, as the case 
might be. Every ear was on the alert to catch the faintest sound that 
might betray the proximity of an enemy, or reveal that their march 
had been discovered. Suddenly, about a mile and a half up the nullah, 
there rang out the sharp report of a rifle, and this first report was 
instantly followed by a second. The sounds came from the head of 
the column, and clearly issued from the ranks of the 29th Punjab 
Infantry. There was no mistaking their meaning : the regiment con- 
sisted largely of Pathans, the kinsmen and friends of the Afghans, and 
the shots had been fired to warn the garrison of the Spin Gawai Kotal 
of the approach of their foes, thus justifying the fear which had been 
present to General Roberts's mind ever since his arrival at Kohat.^ In 

1 " I had chosen the 29th Punjab Infantry to lead the way on account of 
the high reputation of Colonel John Gordon, who commanded it, and because 
of the excellent character the regiment had always borne ; but on overtaking 
it, my suspicions were excited by the unnecessarily straggling manner in which 
the men were marching, and to which I called Gordon's attention. No sooner 


the darkness it was impossible to discover the culprits, so all that could 
be done was to put the 5th Gurkhas and one company of the 72nd 
Highlanders in the place of the 29th, and to trust that the disaffection 
which had manifested itself would go no further.^ 

Again, the long line of now wearied men and beasts got under weigh, 
and by 3 a.m. the point where the track leaves the Spin Gawai Nullah 
and enters a side ravine, had been reached. As the troops moved 
upwards in the darkness, they could see fires blazing in a village on 
the edge of the plateau, overlooking the nullah they had just quitted, 
but whether, or not, they were signal fires, it was impossible to tell. 
At last, the path issued from the gorge and entered the woods which 
clothe the spur leading up to the top of the pass. It was six o'clock 
and day was at hand, but in the shadow of the pines it was still 
quite dark. Feeling their way, step by step, the Gurkhas had come 
within a very short distance of the lower of the three breast-works, 
when a sentry, posted one hundred and fifty yards in advance of it, 
became aware of their approach, and fired off his rifle to give the 

In a moment, the Afghans were afoot, and as the Gurkhas, led 
by Major A. Fitzhugh and Captain J. Cook, rushed forward, they were 
met by a volley which failed, however, to check their onslaught. In 
a moment they were pouring over the barricade, and, after a brief hand- 
to-hand struggle, the Amir's troops were driven back upon their second 
line of defence. Here, again the stand they made was short ; the Gur- 
khas and one company of the Highlanders, who had hurried forward 

had I done so than a shot was fired from one of the Pathan companies, followed 
in a few seconds by another. The Sikh companies of the regiment immediately 
closed up, and Gordon's Sikh orderly whispered in his ear that there was treachery 
among the Pathans." (Forty-one Years in India, vol. ii. p. 138.) 

^ It transpired later that the reports were heard by an Afglian sentry on the 
hill above, who reported the occurrence to his officer ; but this latter, appar- 
ently, thought little of it, for he took no steps to find out by whom, and for what 
purpose the shots had been fii-ed. — H.B.H. 


at the first sound of the firing, outflanked the sangars and compelled its 
defenders to take refuge behind the third and last stockade. The 
two mountain-guns posted there, came immediately into action, but, 
owing to the darkness, with very little result. The three remaining 
companies of the Highlanders who, finding the path blocked by the 
mules and dandies of the Gurklias, had pushed their way up through 
the woods on its right, now reinforced the ranks of the assailants, and 
all pressing forward up the zig-zag track, which led over open ground 
to the Kotal, this breastwork also had soon changed hands. But on a 
knoll above it, the Afghans were still strongly posted, and they swarmed 
in the woods and on the Spin Gawai Plateau. The Highlanders, with 
whom were the General and his Staff, soon dislodged them from the 
knoll, and orders were sent back to Captain J. A. Kelso, R.A., to bring 
up one of two mountain-guns which had already established them- 
selves in the abandoned battery, and were firing on its recent occu- 
pants. Kelso hastened to obey ; but, on issuing from the battery, 
he was shot through the head ; the mule carrying the wheels of the 
gun-carriage broke away, and was never seen again ; the mule with 
the spare wheels could not be found ; and the gun was disabled for the 
rest of the day. Its help could ill be spared. Even after the knoll 
had been captured, the Afghans twice issued from the woods into 
which they had been swept by the impetuous advance of the High- 
landers, and charged down upon the kotal, where the Native troops, 
broken up and dispersed by the nature of the ground, and deficient in 
officers to hold them together and lead them on, were perilously open 
to attack. The first charge was repulsed by Major Galbraith, Assis- 
tant Adjutant-General, and by Captain J. Cook. The former collected 
a few stragglers, whose fire checked the Afghan rush, and the latter, 
after rescuing Galbraith from great danger, put himself at the head of 
twenty men and drove back the assailants at the point of the bayonet.^ 

1 For this gallant act Cook received the Victoria Cross. 


The second charge was defeated by the Sikh companies of the 29th 
Punjab Infantry ; but the Pathan companies hung back, showing the 
greatest reluctance to turn their weapons against men of their own 
blood, eighteen of them actually deserting the field and returning to 
Camp Gubazan, as waS discovered when the roll was called over at 

This skirmish, in which Lieutenant S. C. H. Munro was wounded, 
proved the enemy's last attempt to retain possession of the Spin Gawai 
position, and by 7 a.m., after barely an hour's fighting, they were in 
full retreat towards the Peiwar Kotal, unpursued, but harassed 
so long as they were within range, by the fire of the mountain-guns. 
At 7.30 a.m. the news of the capture of the left of the Afghan position 
was heHographed to Cobbe, who was instructed " to co-operate vigor- 
ously from below in attacking the Kotal." ^ This message, owing to 
some mistake on the part of the intervening signalling party, who failed 
to take up the position selected for them by the Signalling Officer, 
Captain A. S. Wynne, was the only one which passed that day 
between the two portions of the Kuram Field Force. 

Unwilling to allow the Afghans time to recover from their defeat, 
Roberts determined not to await the arrival of the 2nd Punjab Infan- 
try, the 23rd Pioneers and the Elephant Battery, which were still 
far behind, but to press forward to the storming of the Peiwar Kotal 
with the troops under his hand ; so, after a very brief interval of rest, 
the little column of about twelve hundred and fifty men was again in 
motion, led, as at the beginning of the night march, by the 29th Pun- 
jab Infantry, the three mountain-guns, the command of which had 
now devolved on Lieutenant J. C. Sherries, bringing up the rear. The 
sun had now risen above the hill-tops diffusing a genial warmth 
very pleasant to the tired men after the bitter cold of the previous 
night, and lighting up a scene of exquisite loveliness. On either side, 
the Spin Gawai Plateau was bordered by picturesque knolls and grassy 
^ Roberts's Despatch of the 5th December, 1878. 


undulations, cro-«Tied by spreading deodars and lofty pines between 
which, to the north-west, many glades sloped away to the Harriab 
Valley, through which the road over the Spin Gawai Kotal runs down 
to Zabardust Killa. 

The troops quickly crossed the plateau, and began to ascend 
the peak at its south-western extremity. The difficulties opposed to 
their advance by the steep hill-side, by the dense forest, by tangled 
brushwood, by trunks of fallen trees, by rocks and stones, were enor- 
mous ; but, urged on to ever greater exertions by the fiery impatience 
of their leader. General Roberts himself, the 29th Punjab Infantry— 
now creeping, now climbing— worked their Avay upwards till, at the end 
of two hours, they gained the summit, to find that there was no con- 
tinuous ridge between the two kotals ; for at their feet, lay the deep 
hollow mentioned in the description of the Afghan position, and oppo- 
site them rose another hill, its precipitous face clothed with dense 
woods, whose dark recesses they felt, rather than saw, to be alive with 
the enemy. The disappointment to the General was of the keenest, 
but the anxieties of the moment left him no time to dwell upon it, 
— all his thought, all his energy, were needed to cope with the situation 
which revealed itself, when, turning to organize his Troops, he dis- 
covered that he and his Staff were alone wdth the untrustworthy 
29th, face to face with an enemy of unknown strength ; Highlanders, 
Gurklias, and guns had all disappeared, and the pathless forest upon 
which he looked back, gave no hint of their whereabouts. 

Many men would have withdrawn instantly from a position fraught 
with such great and pressing danger, but Roberts's indomitable courage 
and resolution saved him from what would have been a fatal error ; 
for a backward movement on his part must have drawn the enemy after 
him, and shown them the possibihty of destropng, singly, the scattered 
members of his Force. With imperturbable sangfroid he stuck to the 
summit of the hill, and had he had an army-corps at his back, instead 
of a single regiment, one half of which was in a state of incipient mutiny, 


he could not have sIiouti a bolder front to fiiend and foe. Tliough lost 
to view, the missing troops must, he knew, be close at hand, and, at 
first, he hoped that the Afghan fire, which had begun as soon as the 
29th had shown itself on the crest of Pic-nic Hill, and which was grow- 
ing momentarily heavier and heavier, might give them the direction, 
and bring them to the spot where their presence was so urgently 
needed ; but when a httle while had elapsed, and still there was no 
sign of their approach, he sent off one Staff- officer after another in 
search of them. The last to leave him, was the Rev. J. W. Adams, the 
Chaplain of the Force, who had accompanied him that day in the 
capacity of aide de camp ; and when, after an interval of cruel sus. 
pense, he returned with no news of those he had gone to seek, the ten- 
sion of the situation had become so great that Roberts felt it safer to 
break it himself than to stand idle any longer, waiting for it to be 
broken for him by some act of treachery on the part of his own men, 
or by an overwhelming rush of the Afghans, who must, by this time, 
have discovered the weakness of their adversary. Accordingly, after 
starting Adams off in a new direction, he turned to the 29th, and, in a 
few brief sentences, bade them seize the opportunity now afforded 
them to retrieve the honour they had lost the previous night ; but 
tliough Captain G. N. Chaimer, the officer in command, was able in- 
stantly to answer for the loyalty of the Sikh companies which had 
never been in question, the Pathan companies stood silent and sullen, 
and it was evident that the utmost to be hoped from them, was that 
they would not turn their weapons against their officers and comrades. 
Relying on this chance, the General now ordered Captain Channer and 
Lieutenant H. P. Picot to lead the Sikhs cautiously do-\vn into the hol- 
low, hehimseK following a short distance behind to judge, with his 
own eyes, of the feasibility of the enterprise on which he had bidden them 
embark. That it was an impossible one, he had soon to confess, and 
the whole party returned to the crest of the hill, where good news 
awaited them : Adams had returned, having found not only the 



Gurkhas, Highlanders and mountain-guns, but also the 2nd Punjab 
Infantry, and the 23rd Pioneers. The elephants with the Horse Artil- 
lery guns, were also close behind. 

Great must have been the relief to the General and the handful of 
British officers who had shared his suspense, with courage and cool- 
ness only second to his own, when, one after another, the eagerly 
expected reinforcements were seen to issue from the woods ; and, as 
soon as the Pioneers had been substituted for the 29th, confidence and 
hope took the place of a sense of insecurity and helplessness. Yet, 
beyond a strengthening of the British power of defence, no change had 
come over the position of affairs. Broken up into groups to take 
advantage of the cover afforded by the trees and crags, Roberts's 
men could do little more than keep up a rifle duel with the Afghans 
on the other side of the chasm. The latter were armed with Enfield 
rifles, the gifts of Lord Mayo and Lord Northbrook to Shere Ali, 
which, at close range — and the two hills were only from a hundred 
to one hundred and fifty yards apart — were but slightly inferior, except 
in being muzzle-loaders, to the Sneiders of the Native troops, and they 
were amply provided with ammunition, supplies of which were dis- 
tributed at convenient points all along their line. Time after time, 
the enemy made determined charges from behind the barricades with 
which they had obstructed the narrow causeway in front of their 
position, only to be driven back. But when Roberts ordered a party 
of the 23rd Pioneers to deliver a counter-attack, they, in their turn, 
were repulsed, losing their leader. Major A. D. Anderson, and a havildar 
and two sepoys who tried to recover his body. A second party of the 
same regiment, led by its commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel A. A. 
Currie, after some hand-to-hand fighting, was likewise compelled to 
retire, with the loss of one havildar and three men killed, and 
seven wounded. It seemed as if the two forces might continue 
facing each other and firing into each other's ranks till the ammunition 
of one side, or both, ran short ; but an event was at hand which was to 


change this state of things and give victory to the British arms, though 
not to the troops under General Roberts's immediate command. 

Observation I. Turning movements have always played a great 
part in war, but no sound strategist has ever undertaken one with the 
bulk of his force, nor under circumstances which isolated each detach- 
ment, and left both, incase of disaster— a contingency which should never 
be lost sight of— without any safe line of retreat. At Aroza del Morino, 
General Girard, having made a flank movement which severed his 
force entirely from its base, was surprised and overthrown by General 
Hill, on the 18th of October, 1811. Napoleon characterized the man- 
oeuvre as " so ill managed that the enemy might have cut him off at any 
time." " Remind him," he wrote to Berthier, " that when one has to 
fight . . . one must not divide one's forces, but collect them and 
present imposing numbers, as all the troops which are left behind run 
the risk of being beaten in detail, or forced to abandon their positions. 
General Roberts fell into the very error here condemned. He divided 
his troops in the presence of the enemy, thus jeopardizing the safety 
both of those under his command, and those left behind in camp. He 
himself has admitted that, unless he could reach the Spin Gawai Kotal 
while his approach was still concealed by the darkness, " the turning 
movement would in all probability end in disaster" (see Forty -One 
Years in India,^^ vol. ii. page 139). It is also not only probable, but 
certain, that if the Afghans had poured down from the hills whilst 
the Turning Party was struggling up the Spin Gawai NuUah — and this 
had really been their intention, though on account of the fatigued state 
of the newly arrived reinforcements the projected attack was put off 
for twenty-four hours ^ — the little body of men occupying Gubazan 

1 " If we could have looked behind the wall of rock that rose in om* front, 
we should have seen that the enemy also had received their reinforcements, 
four regiments of infantry with a mountain battery, and, on their side too, were 


must have been overwhelmed, the camp and all it contained captured, 
and General Roberts would have found himself shut up in the nullah, 
with one half of the enemy on the heights above him, and the other 
half attacking his rear. 

Out of innumerable instances of successful turning movements 
which will occur to every student of military history, none more clearly 
illustrates the conditions subject to which such a manoeuvre may 
legitimately be resorted to, than Sir Arthur Wellesley's double flank 
movement at the actions of Rori9a and Vimeiro, fought, like the action 
of the Peiwar, in a wild, mountainous country. ^ Wellesley's army, 
consisting of thirteen thousand four hundred and eighty British Infan- 
try, four hundred and twenty Cavalry, eighteen guns, and a contingent 
of Portuguese, divided, almost immediately on issuing from the town 
of Obidos, into three columns. The left, commanded by Major- 
General Furguson, was composed of four thousand nine hundred 
British troops of all arms, and six guns ; the right, under Colonel Trant, 
of one thousand and fifty Portuguese, and the centre, led by Sir Arthur 
in person, of nine thousand men with twelve guns. The advance 
of the flanking parties, neither of which was ever more than a mile and 
a half distant from the main body, and the vigorous attack delivered 
by the latter, compelled the French general, Laborde, to retreat ; and 
when, with admirable skill, he secured a second strong position, one 

meditating an attack on the camp ; but though they had the will, by not attack- 
ing on the night of the 1st, but postponing the assault to the 2nd, they lost 
their opportunty for ever. Their reinforcements may have been tired, and 
probably were, as the garrisons of the Peiwar and Spin Gawai Kotals were not 
very much on the alert on the morning of the 2nd December ; but whatever may 
have been the cause of the delay ... it was fatal to the Afghans." {With the 
Kuram Field Force, by Major Colquhoun, p. 97.) 

* The Duke of Wellington in his Dispatches uses the generic name of Vimeiro 
for the two actions, of which he wrote : — " The action of Vimeiro is the only 
one I have ever been in, in which everything passed as was directed, and no 
mistake was made by anj^ of the officers charged with its conduct." (Dispatch 
of August 22nd, 1808.) 


and a quarter miles in rear of the first, a repetition of the triple move- 
ment, carried out with the same caution and precision, soon rendered 
that, too, untenable. 

Observation II. No commander is justified in pushing forward 
one portion of his force into a patliless wilderness in such a manner as to 
separate it entirely from the remaining portion ; still less, in accompany- 
ing that advanced guard, and thus allowing himself to lose all know- 
ledge of and control over his main body. The imprudence in General 
Roberts's case was doubly reprehensible, as the regiment whose leader 
he constituted himself, had just given proof of disloyalty. 

Action on the Peiwar Kotal 


At 5 a.m. on the morning of the 2nd December, Major Palmer and his 
Turis set out to endeavour to turn the right of the enemy's position, 
and the two Horse Artillery and three Field guns, escorted by one 
hundred men of the 8th " King's," under Captain J. Dawson, Major 
S. Parry commanding the whole body, moved out of camp and took up 
a position about a mile higher up the valley, waiting for day to dawn 
to open fire upon the gun half-way up One Gun Spur. At 6.15 a.m., 
when it was just light enough for them to come into action, the 
5th Punjab Infantry and the 2/ 8th " King's "—the two regiments 
combined only numbering seven hmidred and sixty-three officers 
and men, including the one hundred men of the 8th, detailed 
to protect the guns— left Camp Gubazan and, passing the Artillery, 
took ground to the right amidst sheltering jungle, behind a lateral 
spur, one of many which descend from the ridge flanking the valley 
on its north-eastern side. There they remained till 8 a.m., when two 
companies of the " King's," under Lieutenant-Colonel E. Tanner, and 
the 5th Punjab Infantry, under Major J. M. McQueen, secured a 
position three hundred and fifty yards nearer to the enemy. Meantime, 
the guns had been turned upon the Afghan battery on the Kotal 
which replied vigorously, until, about eleven o'clock, two of its pieces 
were silenced. Wliilst this fierce Artillery duel was raging, the Infantry 


pressed steadily on, crossing spur after spur — the 8th " King's " on 
the left, the 5th Punjab Infantry on the right — working their way 
towards the ridge from which, as from a backbone, these spurs descend. 
Once, about ten o'clock, the enemy made a movement to cross the 
ravine and come to close quarters, but the two squadrons of the 
12th Bengal Cavalry which, so far, had been drawn up out of range 
in front of the camp, undeterred by the frightful nature of the ground — 
a perfect wilderness of rocks and stones — led by Captain J. H. Green, 
charged up the valley, and the Afghans fell back ; and, though the 
Cavalry also retired, their watchful attitude at the foot of the pass 
prevented any renewal of the attempt to take the Infantry in flank. 
About noon, the 8th " King's " came out upon the crest of a spur 
distant only fourteen himdred yards from the kotal, and just opposite 
the ridge running up to it from the " Crow's Nest," the summit and 
slopes of which were held by the enemy in considerable strength. Here, 
where the regiment was exposed not only to a direct, but also to an 
enfilade fire, the chief losses of the day occurred, the drum-major being 
killed, and two sergeants and several men wounded, whilst Brigadier- 
General Cobbe received a bullet in the thigh which obliged him to resign 
the command to Colonel F. Barry Drew. The change of command 
made no difference to the vigour with which the " King's " returned the 
Afghan fire ; but for so small a force, in the presence of a strongly posted 
and unshaken enemy, the position was a critical one, all the more so 
because the 5th Punjab Infantry, whose duty it was to cover their 
right flank, had failed to do so.^ The incident has never been ex- 
plained, but a study of the geography of the Peiwar Mountain throws 
light upon what occurred. Up to a certain point, the two regiments 
kept in touch with each other, so far as the violent accidents of the 
groimd would permit ; but, entangled among ravines and scrub jungle, 
they drew apart ; and, in the end, the 5th, bearing more and more away 

^ See Sketch of Operations on the Peiwar Mountain. 


to the right, came out in the rear of Pic-nic Hill.^ As, under the 
enemy's fire, it pushed u^ the last ascent, through a narrow opening 
in the pine-woods, its commander, Major McQueen, caught a ghmpse 
of the Afghan camp with all its followers and baggage- animals, 
lying, in fancied security, at the entrance to the defile behind the 
Kotal. McQueen instantly realized that it M^as possible, from this 
point, to carry confusion and dismay into the very heart of the 
enemy's position, and pointed this out to Colonel Perkins, the Com- 
manding Engineer, who, on joining the Turning Party, reported the 
matter to General Roberts. Lieutenant Sherries was at once directed 
to take two of his mountain-guns to the spot indicated, and, a few 
minutes later, their shells were bursting in the camp and among the 
crowded transport animals. The shells set fire to some of the tents ; 
the conflagration spread ; the terrified mules, camels and ponies, 
and their no less terrified drivers fled in hot haste, hurrying away to 
westward in the direction of Zabardust Killa. The panic communi- 
cated itself to the Afghans on the conical hill a little to the left of 
the camp, and these, fancying themselves in danger of being cut off, 
abandoned their post and joined in the flight. Their retreat exposed 
the right of the enemy's position on Afghan Hill, and some, at least, 
of its defenders must very quickly have followed the example thus set 
them, for the withering fire to which General Roberts's men had been 
so long exposed, began to slacken. About the same time, the Horse 
Artillery guns on elephants came up and fired a few rounds into the 
dense woods in which the Afghan left lay concealed. Wliether they 
did any execution it was impossible to discover, but they probably 
contributed to the enemy's discomfiture. 

General Roberts and his Staff now crossed the neck of land con- 

" The 5th Punjab Infantry liad worked away we knew not whither (they 
eventually joined Roberts's column), and we began to tliink we should really 
have to storm the Kotal with the weak battalion of the King's." ("Old 
Memories," by Sii- Hugh Gough; Pall Mall Magazine for May, 1808, p. 47.) 


necting the two hills, and pushed a little way up the opposite slope. 
The reconnaissance only proved that it was vain to attempt to reach 
the Peiwar Kotal from this side. The trees and undergrowth with 
which the mountain was thickly covered, formed a barrier too strong 
to be broken through, even if no other resistance were to be feared ; 
and of this there could be no certainty, for although the enemy had 
disappeared from Roberts's left, they were still firing away on his 
right, and it was impossible to know in what direction and for what 
purpose they had withdrawn. It was already one o'clock ; only a 
few hours of daylight remained ; and the men who had been marching 
and fighting for fifteen hours, were, for the most part, without food, 
and all, without water, none having been met with since leaving the 
Spin Gawai Kotal. Under these circumstances, his communications 
being already lost, General Roberts decided on separating himself still 
further from the troops he had left behind, by entering on a second 
turning movement in the direction of Zabardust Killa, with the object 
of getting in rear of the Afghans' position, and, supposing them to be 
really retiring, of cutting off their retreat.^ 

After a short interval of rest, during which the men who were 
lucky enough to have any food remaining in their haversacks, shared 
that little with less fortunate comrades, and British lightheartedness 
gave to the scene of this scanty repast the name by which, in anticipa- 
tion, it has already been designated — General Roberts's troops, with 
the exception of the 2nd Punjab Infantry which stayed behind to 
guard against a possible return of the enemy, retraced their steps to 
the edge of the Spin Gawai Plateau. Here, after parting from the 
29th Punjab Infantry ordered back to the kotal to watch over the 
Field Hospital estabHshed there, they dropped down into a nullah on 
the northern side of the plateau, crossed its frozen stream, pushed up 

1 " I asked Perkins to retiu-n and tell Drew to press on to the kotal in the 
hopes that Sherries's fire and the turning movement I was about to make would 
cause the enemy to retreat." {Forty-One Years, vol. ii. p. 145.) 


its further bank and came out upon high ground, over which they 
dragged along, their progress constantly delayed by precautions 
which the fear of surprise imperatively demanded, till, at last, the 
resolution of their Commander had to yield to their utter weariness 
and the lateness of the hour. 

Since it was clearly impossible to cut off the Afghans' retreat by 
occupying Zabardust Killa before dark, there would be nothing gained 
by lessening the distance between the two forces, so, at 4 p.m., the 
order to halt was given, and, on the open hill-side, nine thousand four 
hundred feet above the sea, in bitter frost, without tents, warm 
clothing, or food, in ignorance of the fate of their comrades scattered 
in small parties over an area of many miles, in doubt as to what the 
morrow had in store for themselves — the Turning Party settled down 
for the night.^ Luckily, there was an abundance of pine-trees on the 
spot, and when the Pioneers had felled a few, large fires were lighted, 
round which the tired and hungry men gathered to get what comfort 
they could from the cheerful light and heat. At 8 p.m. the anxiety 

^ In his despatch of the 5th December, 1878, General Roberts describes this 
second movement thus — " Having ascertained, at one o'clock, from a reconnais- 
sance that the Peiwar Kotal was practically inaccessible from the northern side 
on which I was operating, I resolved to withdraw the troops from this line of 
attack altogether, and ordered the following disposition : . . . A column formed 
as follows to march imder my command in the Zabardust Killa direction, so 
as to threaten the enemy's line of retreat." {See Map.) 

In Forty-One Years in India, vol. ii. p. 145, he says — " The enemy's 
position, it was found, could only be reached by a narrow causeway, which 
was swept by direct and cross-fire, and obstructed by trunks of trees and 
a series of barricades. It was evident to me that under these circmiistances 
the enemy could not be cleared out of their entrenchments by direct 
attack without entailing heavy loss, which I could ill afford, and was most 
anxious to avoid. I therefore reconnoitred both flanks to find, if possible, a 
way round the hill. On our left front was a sheer precipice ; on the right, 
however, I discovered, to my infinite satisfaction, that we could not only avoid 
the hill which had defeated us, but could get almost in rear of the Peiwar Kotal 
itself, and tlireaten the enemy's retreat from that position." 

The reader, to understand the movement, should consult the map. The line 
by which Roberts retired is marked by arrow-heads. 


which had lain heavy on every heart, was set at rest by the arrival of 
a messenger bearing a pencilled note from Colonel Barry Drew, which 
told that the Peiwar Kotal had been captured by the 8th " King's " 
at 2.30 p.m., just after Roberts had turned back from Pic-nic Hill. 
It was very shortly after taking over the command from General 
Cobbe that Barry Drew had ordered a further advance, and, after a 
desperate scramble up an almost precipitous hill, his gallant little band 
had gained a point only eight hundred yards from the Kotal, whence 
Martini-Henry rifles could be brought to bear on the Afghan gunners, 
who were picked off, one by one, as they bravely served their guns. No 
men could have behaved better, but the fire of the 8tli was too much 
for them, and, about 2 p.m., the battery was abandoned. By this 
time the effects of the destruction of the Afghan camp had made them- 
selves felt on the Kotal, and Colonel Barry Drew, perceiving that the 
enemy were much shaken, though ignorant of the cause of the con- 
fusion that reigned among them, judged that the moment for the 
crowning effort had arrived. He therefore directed the Artillery, 
supported by the 12th Bengal Cavalry, under Colonel Hugh Gough, 
to take up a more advantageous position for covering the attack, and 
called up the two companies of his own regiment which, so far, had 
protected the guns, to co-operate with their comrades in the final 
advance. Two deep and difficult ravines still lay between the com- 
panies on the ridge and the road leading up to the kotal. These were 
crossed under a dropping fire, and then, behind the shoulder of a 
projecting spur, the men were re-formed and pushed rapidly up the 
rough, steep path to the summit of the pass.i There was no resistance, 
and by 2.30 p.m. the Afghan position on the Kotal had been occupied, 
and eighteen guns and a large amount of ammunition captured. The 

^ " The reputation of our young soldiers was bravely sustained by the ' King's ' 
at the battle of the Peiwar Kotal. The average age of the men of this regiment 
is about twenty-two, but on this day in powers of endurance, in resolute courage, 
in a cheerful bravery and contempt of fatigue, they nobly sustained the honour 
of the British Army." (Civil and Military Gazette.) 


enemy's flight had evidently been very sudden, for they had left their 
tents standing, their food ready cooked, and a number of their dead 
lying near the guns. The 12th Bengal Cavalry which had followed 
the 8th up the pass, the men leading their horses, now remounted and 
started off in pursuit. But neither in the deep, dark defile immedi- 
ately behind the kotal, nor yet in the open country beyond, was any 
body of troops to be discerned, only, here and there, a solitary fugitive 
or a wounded man ; so, bringing with them a complete mule battery 
which they had found in the pass, the Cavalry returned to the Kotal.^ 
When all the fighting was over, the left Turning Party appeared 
in the nick of time to take an active share in the looting of the Afghan 
camp; a congenial work in which they were ably seconded by crowds 
of fellow- tribesmen who had hovered round the scene of war whilst 
the contest was going on, ready, with perfect impartiahty, to fall 
upon the defeated side whichever it might prove to be, and who now 
swarmed up the pass, with their ponies and camels, at the heels of 
the victorious " King's," and swooped down upon the abandoned 
position Uke hungry wolves, hacking the bodies of the slain, ripping 
up tents, tearing the prey from each other's hands, striking at each 
other with their long, sharp knives, and smashing and destroying 
what they could not carry off. The 8th were not well pleased to see 
what they held to be their well earned spoil snatched from them, 
under their very eyes, by men who had contributed nothing to the 
success of the day ; but the PoHtical Officer, Colonel Waterfield, 
thought it politic to allow those who, at least, professed to be friendly 
to profit by the British victory, and to carry away to the villages 
conclusive proofs of the defeat of their former rulers. Still, some 
share of the plunder was secured by the troops, who, in particular, 

^ " We went through an extremely narrow gorge for about three miles, 
over ground so broken and frozen that it was impossible to move except at a 
walk single file. Though still early in the day— about tliree o'clock— it was 
dark as night, the gorge bemg so shut in that the sim could never penetrate. 
("Old Memories," by Sir HughGough; Pall Mall Magazine, May 1898, p. 49.) 


laid hands on eveiy " pushteen "—sheepskin coat— they could find, 
in which, however dirty, they were glad to wrap themselves as a 
defence against the bitter cold. 

Looting, however, was not allowed for long ; day was decHning, 
and order must be restored before dark. Strong piquets had been 
thrown out as soon as the kotal had been occupied ; now. Colonel 
Barry Drew recalled the rest of the men to duty, and gave orders to 
clear the camp of all intruders. Turis and Jagis were summarily 
ejected, and when the baggage came up the 8th " King's " encamped 
in the position they had won, and the 12th Bengal Cavalry returned to 
camp Gubazan, where their presence was all the more welcome as, for 
some time, wounded men and stragglers had been dropping in with 
the news that, after severe fighting, the Right Turning Party had been 
driven back.^ 

Early on the morning of the 3rd December, General Roberts rode over 
to the Peiwar Kotal ; the troops with whom he had bivouacked during 
the previous night, moved nearer to Zabardust Killa; andtheKuram 
Field Force was once more practically united. 

(1) Peiwak Kotal. 

Wing 8th King's Tents and rations arrived before dark. 

(2) Gubazan. 

Two Squadrons 12th Bengal Cavah-y | j,^^^,^^^^ ^tli everything. 
Five Guns Royal Artillery . . . -' 

1 " On reaching camp news came in gradually of Roberts's force by stragglers 
and wounded men, whose account showed that he had had severe fighting. 
Many of the stragglers in question were Pathan sepoys of the 29th Punjab 
Infantry, who had treacherously left their regiment at the commencement of 
the attack, and whose false reports that we had been beaten back caused for a 
time much alarm amongst the camp-followers and others." (" Old Memories," 
by Sir Hugh Gough ; Pall Mall Magazine, May 1898, p. 49.) 

2 Technical phrase used by Napoleon to denote strength, position and con- 
dition of a Force. 

2 See Sketch of Operations on the Peiwar Moimtam. 

Bivouacking without food, water, 
or warm clothing. 


(3) PiC-NIO HiLTi. 

2nd Punjab Infantry Bivouacking without food, water, or 

warm clothing. 

(4) Spin Gawai Plateau. 
29th Punjab Infantry .... In charge of Field Hospital. Bivou- 
acking ^nthout food, or warm 

(5) Midway between Spin Gawai Kotal and Zabardust Killa. 

Four guns Royal Horse Artillery' 
(Elephant Equipment) 

Four guns No. 1 Mountain Battery . 

72nd Highlanders 

5th Gurkhas 

23rd Pioneers 

5th Punjab Infantry (originally belong- 
ing to Cobbe's Brigade) . . • • ; 


Observation I. The march to Zabardust Killa was as ill-advised 
as the turning movement by the Spin Gawai Kotal. It was begun too 
late — two o'clock in the afternoon, at a season of the year when the 
sun has set by five ; it followed a track nearly three times as long as 
the line of retreat open to the enemy ; and, with night in prospect, 
it took the main body of the Kuram Field Force farther and farther 
away from the troops on the Peiwar Mountain, and the handful of 
men guarding the camp at Gubazan. General Roberts's proper course, 
when he found that " the Peiwar Kotal was practically inaccessible 
on its northern side," ^ was to entrench an Infantry regiment and the 
Horse Artillery guns in an impregnable position on the brink of the 
chasm which had checked his advance, and to return to camp by the 
track up which McQueen liad led the 5tli Punjab Infantry, thus 
placing the safety of every portion of his Force on a perfectly secure 
basis, and sparing his own men much unnecessary suffering. 

Observation II. The Kuram Campaign was marked throughout 

^ General Roberts's Despatch of December 5th, 1878. 


by haste and rashness, and there was no need for the first, and no 
excuse for the second. Its object was the occupation of the valleys 
of Kuram and Khost with a view to their incorporation into the 
Indian Empire, not the capture of Kabul ; there was no question, 
therefore, of rushing on in order to cross the passes before snow had 
closed them for the winter ; and though General Roberts's instructions 
directed him to clear the gorge between the Peiwar and the Shutar- 
gardan of the enemy, the time and manner of that clearance was left 
to his discretion. From a political, as well as from a general military 
standpoint. General Roberts's aim, on discovering that the Peiwar 
was strongly held by the Afghans, should have been to facilitate the 
advance of the Kliyber Force by keeping the largest possible number 
of the Amir's troops at a distance from Kabul, and neither in his 
Despatch of December the 5th nor yet in his autobiography, has he shown 
any local military necessity for attacking those troops in an almost 
impregnable position. 1 On the contrary, military science demanded 
that General Roberts, bearing in mind the axiom that a commander 
should always try to fight under circumstances the most favourable 
to his own troops and the least favourable to those opposed to them,2 
should have manoeuvred to draw down the Afghans from their fast- 
nesses, as Lord Kitchener drew the Dervishes from their stronghold at 
Omdurman. By such tactics, the chances of success which were largely 
against the British and in favour of the Afghans, would have been 
reversed, and the victory that must have ensued, though a little later 
in time, would have been complete— no body of troops escaping to 
strengthen the Amir's position elsewhere. 

' " I confess to a feeling very nearly akin to despair when I gazed at the 
apparently impregnable position towering above us, occupied, as I could discern 
tlirough my telescope, by crowds of soldiers and a large number of guns." 
{Forty-One Years in India, vol. ii. p. 133.) 

2 Napoleon issued the following order in August, 1809 :— "A battle should 
never be risked imless the chances are 70 per cent, in favour of success ; in fact, 
a battle ought always to be the last resource, as, from the nature of things, its 
result is always doubtful." 


The Reconnaissance of the Shutargardan Pass 


The three days which followed on the reunion of the Peiwar Expedi- 
tionary Force, were spent in making arrangements for the security 
and comfort of the European troops who were to pass the winter on 
that mountain. Three guns, G.3 Royal Artillery, were got into 
position for the defence of the Kotal ; the 8th "King's," set to work 
to lower the cannon abandoned by the Afghans down the steep hill- 
side and to collect the enemy's scattered ammunition ; the Sappers, 
called up from the Kuram Forts to erect huts for officers and men ; 
the treacherous 29th Punjab Infantry, sent back to Gubazan ; whilst 
the other regiments that had borne the fatigues and anxieties of the 
1st and 2nd of December, were permitted to enjoy a well-earned rest 
in the position near Zabardust Killa to which they had been trans- 
ferred on the morning of the 3rd. In its neighbourhood, luckily for 
them, were discovered sufficient stores of rice and grain left behind by 
the Amir's army, to stay the hunger of men and animals, tiU, on the 
4th, Lieutenant Buckland appeared with a convoy of provisions. 

On the 6th, everything being in train, and his presence no longer 
necessary on the Peiwar Mountain, General Roberts started off to 
complete the first part of his work by reconnoitring the Shutargardan, 
taking with him No. 1 Mountain Battery, a detachment of the 12th 
Bengal Cavalry, a wing of the 72nd Highlanders, the 2nd and 5th 
Punjab Infantry, and the 5th Gurkhas, the whole under the command 
of Colonel Barry Drew. That day, the Force marched twelve miles, and 


halted for the night at the village of Alikhel. On the the 7tli, Roberts 
with an escort of two hundred and fifty Highlanders and two hundred 
and fifty men of the 5th Punjab Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel 
F. Brownlow, encamped at Rokian three and a half miles west of 
Alikhel. On the 8th, he and his escort pushed on through the Hazar 
Darakht ^ defile to Jaji Tanna, where Ghilzai territory begins; whilst 
two mountain guns and the 2nd and 5th Punjab Infantry, Colonel 
Tyndall commanding, moved up to Rokian to be at hand to cover 
the General's retreat should the Shutargardan prove to be strongly 
occupied by the enemy. On the 9th, leaving its camp standing, the 
reconnoitring party crossed the Surkai Kotal and descended to the 
plateau on its further side. Here, Roberts halted his escort whilst he 
himself, accompanied by a few ofiicers and some Ghilzais, ascended 
to the summit of the Shutargardan Pass, from whence the fertile 
vallej^s of the Logar and Kabul rivers could clearly be discerned, though 
enshrouding mist hid the Amir's capital from view. An abandoned 
battery of mountain-guns was observed at no great distance — a tempt- 
ing prize — but, for lack of means of transport, it had to be left where 
it lay, the Afghans subsequently recovering and removing it,^ 

The features of each day's march had been the same — a boulder- 
strewn pathway, running, for the most part, up the bed of a frozen 
stream at the bottom of a deep ravine, above whose precipitous banks, 
steep hill-sides, dark with deodar and pine, sloped boldly upward, 
but emerging, here and there, on to open spaces where a village or two 
and patches of cultivated ground might be seen, and whence the eye 
could roam over an endless maze of mountains. Day by day, too, 
the cold had deepened, bitterest at dawn when icy winds swept down 

1 "Hazar Darakht or the Thousand-Tree Defile, so named from a forest of 
pines and yew-trees near its centre." (Bellew.) 

2 According to the Times Correspondent (Dec. 9, 1878), the guns had already 
been carried away, and the six gun-carriages and four Umbers were discovered 
" tlu-own down a steep ravine and irredeemably smashed." 


the narrow gorges ; i and everywhere the inhabitants, though anxious 
to concihate the invaders whom they had so recently helped to oppose, 
had had nothing but their services as carriers to offer ; for the country, 
which yielded them a bare subsistence, could furnish neither food 
nor forage to the strangers who had so unexpectedly intruded on its 
remote soHtudes. 

Having convinced himself that there were no Afghan troops remain- 
ing on the eastern side of the Shutargardan, General Roberts returned 
on the 10th of December, to Alikhel, to arrange for the withdrawal of the 
troops to lower ground before the advent of snow should render the 
mountain-roads impassable. Judging, however, that it was important 
to exercise some supervision during the winter over the region lying 
between th'e two Kotals, he invested Captain R. H. F. Rennick, an 
officer of much resolution and well versed in the language and habits 
of the frontier tribes, with political powers, selected a house domi- 
nating the village as his residence, and ordered up a company of the 
29th Punjab Infantry for his protection.* 

On the 11th, the 2nd and 5th Punjab Infantrj^ and the four guns 
Royal Horse Artillery, started for the Kuram Valley via the Peiwar 
Kotal, and, next morning, the Highlanders, Gurkhas, Pioneers and 
the Mountain Battery, with a long transport train consisting of 
baggage, ordnance stores and a commissariat column,^ marched for 

^ " Letter- writing was a difficulty, as the ink froze in the bottles, and washing 
was out of the question, as sponges and water were alike blocks of ice." ("Old 
Memories," by Sir Hugh Gough ; Pall Mall Magazine, June 1898, p. 200.) 

" The sun was completely hidden by the hills on each side, and there was a 
cutting wind sweeping down the gorges. I thought I should never feel warm 
again." (Ibid. p. 202.) 

* " A small body of troops would have been useless unless Captain Rennick 
had been able to keep his position by force of character instead of force of 
arms, and that he was able to do this, is, in itself, sufficient praise." (Major 

3 " The baggage of foui" regiments, even on the reduced scale, made a tolerably 
ong column, and the Commissariat camels added somewhat to the length to be 
protected." (With the Kuram Field Force, by Major Colquhoun, p. 130.) 


the same goal by the more southerly patli that traverses tlie difficult 
tangle of hiUs lying between the Peiwar Mountain and the Kuram 
River. This path first followed the Harriab to its confluence with 
the Kuram River, and then, after crossing and recrossing the latter 
stream, turned sharply away to the left, and ascended a narrow, 
thickly wooded glen tiU it came out into an upland valley on the 
further side of which stood the village of Sappari, against whose 
people— Mangals by race— General Roberts had been warned by the 
headmen of a hamlet previously passed through.^ As, however, day 
was dechning when Sappari came in sight, he thought it better to 
spend the night on open ground than to tempt, in the dark, the perils 
of the terrible Manjiar defile, which he knew to lie two and a half miles 
ahead ; and accordingly, though he sent on the Pioneers to secure 
the summit of the Sappari Pass overlooking the defile, he encamped 
the remainder of the troops in the vicinity of the viUage, whose inhabi- 
tants showed much alacrity in bringing in supplies, and seemed alto- 
gether friendly and harmless. At 1 a.m., however, orders were 
suddenly issued to strike tents and load up the camels which were 
at once sent forward in charge of the Transport Officer, Captain F.T. 
Goad, in advance of the main column, which marched an hour later. 
No doubt Roberts's idea in making this sudden move, was to frus- 
trate any treacherous plans which the villagers might have laid, by 
getting through the defile hours before they expected him to enter 
It, and had the road and the hour lent themselves to a rapid march, 
he would probably have succeeded in outwitting them ; unfortunately,' 
the night was dark, and the path steep, rugged and fearfully shppery, 

j'u\V'T ^ ''^'''^^'^ ""^ ^^'^ '^"^S^ °^ Kamana, about three miles from Ali 
Khel, he headmen came to pay their respects, and informed mo that it was 
probable the force would be annoyed by the men of the Mangal tribe when 
passmg through the defile which lay between Sappari and the next halting-place 
Keramh, on the Kvn-am River. Although I was anxious not to come to blows 
mth the Mangals, yet it was now too late to ttu-n back." (Despatch of General 
Koberts, dated 18th December, 1878.) 


having been converted into a succession of ice-slides by the recent 
overflowing of a mountain stream.^ On these the laden camels 
slipped and feU, and soon the track was strewn with frightened animals 
struggling vainly in the darkness to regain their footing. Forcing 
their way, as best they could, through this helpless mass, Roberts 
and his troops left the miserable beasts and their miserable drivers 
behind, and, toiling up the pass, joined the Pioneers on its summit. 
Tlie morning light showed many small groups of herdsmen scattered 
among the rocks, but their peaceful demeanor 2 apparently laid 
the General's suspicions to rest,^ for leaving the Gurkhas as an escort 
for the camels when they should come up, and giving the mules in 
charge of a wing of the Pioneers, he started off with the remainder 
of the troops and the Artillery, '' and descending the broken, rocky 
staircase which constitutes the reverse side of the Sappari Pass, 
threaded his way through the Manjiar Defile, and came safely down 
to Keraiah on the Kuram River, where he encamped. 

Matters went less smoothly with the Transport Train and its 

1 Roberts attributes this unexpected difficulty " to the machinations of 
our false friends in the village (Sappari), who directed on to the precipitous 
path we had to ascend a stream of water which soon turned into a sheet of ice." 
[Forty-One Years in India, vol. ii. ; p. 153.) 

2 " It was believed that these few men were shepherds herding their flocks, 
and so no further notice was taken of them or their movements." [With the 
Kuram Field Force, by Major Colquhoun, p. 140.) 

" In fact so peaceful did it all seem that Brabazon and I, preferring walking 
to riding on a cold morning, entered occasionally into conversation with some 
of the groups, though, our knowledge of their lingo being limited, we did not 
gain much information." ("Old Memories," by Sir Hugh Gough ; The Pall Mall 
Magazine, June 1898, p. 203.) 

^ Roberts himself mentions that they had cut down two camp-followers who 
had lingered behind, but he probably learnt this fact later in the day. 

* " The troops, with the exception of the 5th Gm'khas, were allowed to push 
ahead of the baggage, and to make their way to camp, which was pitched at a 
place called Keraiah." {With the Kuram Field Force, by Major Colquhoun, 
pp. 140, 141.) 


guard. " The ruined staircase, with its missing steps," ^ which had 
no terrors for active men and sure-footed mules, was a fearful trial 
to the camels. Slowly, painfully, with many halts and mishaps, they 
stumbled down it, and, as the last weary beast disappeared into the 
shadow of the defile, the peaceful herdsmen who for hours had sat 
quietly watching their movements, sprang to their feet, the hidden 
weapons flashed out, and a sudden rush was made to seize the stores 
that had so long tempted their cupidity ; at the same time, from 
every projecting crag commanding the road — deep-sunken between 
towering rock-walls, and so narrow that the camels had to squeeze 
their way along — bullets flew down into the gorge; for there were 
no flankers, no pickets holding the heights above the defile to make 
such vantage-points untenable by the foe.^ Captain Goad did his 
utmost to keep order among the animals, and the Gurkhas, distributed 
in strong parties along the column, protected ita rear and warded off 
flank attacks from the side ravines which, running far back into the hills, 
gave the Mangals access to the defile at many points. Fighting and 
running, now turning to fire a volley, now charging back with the 
bayonet, leading with their own hands the camels whose drivers 
had deserted — for five long miles, the gallant regiment covered the 
Transport Train's advance. Captain C. F. Powell, commanding the 
rear-guard, was twice hit, and both he and Captain Goad, who was 
shot through both legs, and only saved from falling into the enemy's 
hands by the courage and devotion of Sergeant William Greer ^ and 
three men of the 72nd Highlanders in charge of the regimental bag- 
gage — subsequently succumbed to their wounds. At last, the rocky 

* See Forty-One Years in India, vol. ii. p. 152. 

2 " The Commissioner, Colonel Waterfield, who had gone on with the advance 
guard, had assured the General that no resistance was likely, hence there was 
some relaxation of the extra precautions taken in clearing the defile, nor were 
the heights crowned as had been first intended by the General." (See Times 
Correspondent's letter, dated January 5, 1879.) 

3 A Commission in the army was subsequently conferred upon tliis gallant 
non-commissioned officer. 


walls receded, the pathway widened out, and .the harassed column 
issued from the defile in which, in addition to the^two British officers 
mortally wounded, it had lost three Guikhas and two camp-followers, 
killed, and eleven Gurkhas wounded, but, to its honour be it spoken, 
not a single baggage-animal. i 

That it should have escaped from such a trap at so small a cost 
wa^ due primarily, of course, to the courage and coolness of the troops, 
but also, in part, to the superiority of their weapons, ^ and, in part, 
to the difficulty experienced by the Mangals in firing from the top of 
lofty perpendicular rocks into the narrow cutting below; luckily, 
they did not resort to the hillman's usual habit of hurling down 
stones, which would have done far more damage than their bullets. 

News that fighting was going on in the defile, reached Roberts 
early in the afternoon, and he at once sent back two hundred High- 
landers and two hundred Pioneers; but the column had extricated 
itself from its difficulties before this relief-party came on the scene.3 
Tribesmen were stiU, indeed, following it at a respectful distance, 
who disappeared at sight of reinforcements, but attacks on the bag- 
gage-train had ceased as soon as the gorge had been left behind. 

On the 14th, the General and his staff rode on twenty- one miles 

^ In his despatch of the 18th December, Roberts showed his sense of obliga- 
tion to the 5th Gurkhas for saving him from the discredit of losing a large part of 
his baggage, by warmly praising the gallantry of the whole regiment, and by 
naming, individually, every officer who had been present with it at the Manjiar 
Defile, viz. : Major A. Fitzhugh, Captain T. Cook, Captain C. F. Powell, Lieu- 
tenant A. R. Martm, Lieutenant C. C St. E. Lucas, and Surgeon-Major G. 


2 " To the fact that the Mangals are but scantily furnished with fire-arms 
must be attributed the smallness of oiu- loss." (The Tiines Correspondent, 
January 10, 1879.) 

3 " We passed on, and had barely reached camp when the alarm was raised 
that the Mangals had attacked the baggage and rear-guard, consisting of the 
5th Gurkhas. Heavy fu-ing was heard, and reinforcements were at once sent 
back. As soon as they appeared insight the Mangals retired. ("Old Memories," 
by Sir Hugh Gough ; The Pall Mall Magazine, June 1898, p. 203.) 


to the Kurani Forts, following a track on the left bank of the river, 
which proved to be impracticable for wheeled carriage. The troops 
jemained for a day or two longer at Kerariah whilst Captain R. G. 
Kennedy reconnoitred the adjacent country with a view to discovering 
whether it would be possible to punish the Mangals for their treacherous 
conduct ; ^ but as soon as it had been ascertained that the offenders 
possessed no property to confiscate and no villages to destroy, except 
one in an inaccessible nook of the Laggi Glen, all thoughts of retribution 
were abandoned, and the little force rejoined its Commander; the 
whole result of the difficult and dangerous march thus brought to a 
conclusion, being the certainty attained to that there was no alternative 
road to the Shutargardan, and that, in the event of an advance on 
Kabul, both troops and convoys must keep to the Peiwar route.2 

1 It was said that the Mangals were assisted by the Jajis aad Chakmanis and 
some of the Amii-'s soldiers who had remained in hiding near the Peiwar. As 
regards the presence of regular troops on this occasion, the only evidence 
consists in the fact that an Enfield rifle was picked up, and a few men partially 
dressed in uniform were seen. 

2 Much dissatisfaction was rife in camp owing to the way in which the whole 
afiair had been mismanaged. Writing on December 19th, the Special Correspon- 
dent of the Standard says : — " I heard such questions as these asked over and 
over again — ' Why did we recklessly expose our small force in an miknown 
country, the inhabitants of which might have massacred nearly every soul ? 
Why, if it was considered necessary, for deep political reasons, that we should 
brave the Mangal in his den, were inquiries not made about the character of 
the road, so that it might have been seen whether it would not be desirable to 
send the convoy roiind, easily and safely, by Alikhel and the Peiwar ? And 
why, above all things, were proper precautions not taken to have the convoy 
protected the whole way through the defile, instead of leaving it solely to the 
care of a rear-guard, in a declared hostile country ? ' It is the absence of any 
satisfactory answer to questions Uke these, that makes attached friends use 
such violent language as ' down-right murder,' when talking of the death of 
those unfortunate officers who were killed by the Mangals." 

" Although men were seen perched on the crags, beetling over the river 
below, in a position described by an eye-witness as the ' nastiest one many of us 
had ever seen,' no steps were taken by the General to cover the retreat of the rear- 
guard, because he had been assured that resistance was imUkoly. There was, 
in fact, a relaxation of the usual precautions adopted in hill warfare ; the heights 
covering the pass were not even crowned . . . This affair calls for searcliing 


On his return to Kuram, General Roberts convened two Courts ; — 
the one, a Court of Inquiry to investigate an unpleasant incident 
which had occurred in his absence, the stealing of all the Government's 
bank-notes from the field treasury chest, whilst in the charge 
of a guard furnished by the 29th Punjab Infantry ; the other, a 
Court-Martial for the trial of a Native officer and twenty men of the 
same regiment for the crime of treachery committed on the night- 
march to the Spin Gawai Kotal, and at the subsequent storming of the 
Afghan position. The Court of Inquiry reported that the notes had 
been kept in an ordinary mule-trunk instead of in a proper treasure- 
chest, but came to no conclusion as to how and by whom they had 
been abstracted ; subsequently, however, they were traced to the 
Native non-commissioned officer in command of the guard, some, 
if not all, of the men composing which must have been privy to the 
theft. The Court-Martial found 'all the accused guilty, and the 
severity of the sentences it passed on the offenders, marked its sense 
of the extreme gravity of their crime. Sepoy Hazrat Shah, the man 
who had fired the first of the two shots which so nearly betrayed 
the approach of a British force to the garrison of the Spin Gawai Kotal, 
was condemned to death, and Kazan Shah — the officer who had failed 
at the time to point out the offender, and had continued to screen him 
till he became aware that a wounded sepoy had given evidence by 
which he himself was inculpated — to seven years' transportation. 
The remaining nineteen men were sentenced to punishments varying 
from one year's imprisonment to fourteen years' transportation. 
Sepoy Mira Baz, who had fired the second shot, pleaded that he had 
done so without criminal intent in the surprise caused by hearing a 
rifle go off close to his ear, and as he had shown conspicuous bravery 

investigation. The commonest rules of hill warfare were neglected. An un- 
known defile, with a hostile population, was traversed as if an ordinary route 
march were being executed . . . Hurrying on with the main body, he (Roberts) had 
actually reached the camp, eight miles from the defile, when his rear-guard 
was heavily attacked." (The Times Correspondent, January 8, 1878.) 


in the fighting of the 28th November, he escaped with the compara- 
tively shght penalty of two years' imprisonment with hard labour. 
The sentences were confirmed by General Roberts, who declared 
that the Court-Martial would have been justified in condemning 
every one of the prisoners to death, and Hazrat Shah was hanged 
in the presence of all the troops who could be brought together to 
witness his execution. 

Affairs had now assumed such an aspect in the Kuram as appeared 
to Roberts to justify him in carr5dng out that portion of his instruc- 
tions which related to the occupation of the adjacent Kliost Valley ; 
but, before entering on a second campaign, he desired to mark, in an 
official manner, the successful conclusion of the first. He, accord- 
ingly, called together the chief men of the tribes whose lands he had 
traversed or had overrun, and announced to them the definite and 
unalterable substitution of British for Afghan rule in the whole 
country lying between Thai and the Shutargardan, and the deter- 
mination of the Indian Government to permit no further meddling, 
on the part of the Amir of Kabul, with the Indejaendent Tribes bor- 
dering on the annexed territory. To allay any alarm that these 
declarations might arouse in the minds of his hearers, he enumerated 
the blessings that they would enjoy under a British administration, 
and assured them that their religion would never be interfered with, 
that their prejudices would be respected, and that they would be 
allowed as much liberty as was compatible with good order. For 
evildoers, he had words of warning : headmen were reminded of 
the punishments that had been inflicted on two villages which, trust- 
ing to the remoteness of their situation, had dared to connive, the 
one, at the cutting of the telegraph line, the other, at an attack upon 
a cavalry post ; priests were told that the undertaking not to interfere 
with the religion of the people contained no promise to tolerate 
attempts on the part of their religious instructors " to preach politics 
and oppose the ruling power." " Government," so General Roberts 


went on to declare, " must prevent the ignorant from being misled," 
and, in proof of its power to do so, he cited the case of a Mulla ^ who 
was in confinement to keep him from doing harm, and of another, 
" notorious as an ill-wisher of the British Government," who, having 
failed to pay his respects when called upon to do so, and having left 
his home, " had had his house burned as a warning to others." 
" Mullas," he added in conclusion, " who are dissatisfied with British 
rule, should leave the country." ^ 

With the distribution of presents which followed this address, the 
gathering came to an end ; and the political annexation of the Kuram 
was thencefoiivard an accomplished fact. 


Observation I. That General Roberts should have wished to 
examine the Sappari Pass with a view to ascertaining if it could 
serve as an alternative route to Kabul, was natural and right ; but to 
encumber the exploring column with a large commissariat convoy, 
especially as the transport animals consisted of camels, was most 
unwise and played into the enemy's hands. As the expedition was 
only to last a few days, the regimental transport should have been 
cut down to a minimum, and the surplus baggage, together with the 
convoy, should have been sent round by the Peiwar route. 

Observation II. The occupation of the Sappari Pass by the Pion- 
eers on the afternoon of the 12th of December, was a serious error. To 
break up a small force in a country known to be ill-disposed was, in 
itself, a dangerous thing to do, but to break it up at night and under 
local conditions that rendered it equally impossible for the main 
body to hasten forward to the relief of the advanced guard, or for 
the advanced guard to hurry back to the assistance of the main body, 
was to run a great risk for no useful end ; and the measure deserves 
condemnation on the further ground of having exposed the troops to 
intense cold without shelter of any kind. 

1 Mulla, Priest. 2 Afghanistan, No. 4 of 1879. 


The despatch of the baggage in advance of the troops, on the morn- 
ing of the 13th, was a no less faulty disposition. Had the Mangals 
showed as much enterprise when the convoy was struggling up the 
slippery ascent to the top of the pass, as they displayed later in the 
day, they would undoubtedly have stampeded a number of camels 
and secured a considerable amount of loot. 

To abstain from crowning the heights was a yet more serious 
mistake ; and to march away with the main body, leaving the 
transport train and the rear-guard without support, showed either 
an ignorant contempt for the warlike aptitudes of the tribesmen, or 
an equally ignorant trustfulness in their goodwill. The loss of life 
on this occasion, was entirely due to the omission of military precau- 
tions which are always imperative when troops are acting in a hostile, 
or semi-hostile, country. Colquhoun excuses this neglect on the 
ground that it would have been difficult to crown the heights on each 
side, as these, in their turn, were commanded by successive ridges 
or spurs, running parallel to the ravine, on all of which it would have 
been necessary to place troops ; but such is almost always the case 
in mountain warfare, and however difficult the duty of securing the 
flanks of a force may be, it must be done before troops, especially if 
encumbered with a convoy, should be permitted to enter any narrow 

To the non-performance of this duty was due the destruction of 
the Italian army by the Abyssinians a few years ago, and the fatal 
consequences of its neglect were shown, on a smaller scale, during 
General Sale's retreat to Jellalabad, in October 1841. That officer 
did, indeed, picket the heights overlooking the defile between Jagda- 
lak and the river Surkliab; but, that done, he and his main body 
marched on, leaving the posts and rear-guard to withstand the 
whole force of the enemy, now concentrated at the exit of the pass. 
The pickets, finding themselves unsupported, soon fell back on the 
rear-guard, which, seized with panic, rushed bhndly forward, while 


the Ghilzais fired into the fugitives from above, and pressed them 
in rear. " During this scene of terror all who fell wounded were 
abandoned, the enemy, as they came up, falling upon them in heaps 
like hounds on a fox." ^ In the Manjiar Defile it may have been im- 
possible, owing to lateral ravines, to move flanking parties along the 
cliffs overlooking it ; but there was no reason why pickets, protected 
by sangars, should not have been established on those cliffs at con- 
venient points, such pickets eventually falling back on the rear- 
guard ; and the main body should have held the lower end of the 
pass until the baggage and rear-guard were clear of the hills.^ 

1 The Career of Major Broadjoot, C.B., by his son, Major W. Broadfoot, 
R.E.,p. 36 That the disaster was not greater was largelj' due to the courage 
and skill of that officer, who was afterwards the moving spirit in the defence 
of Jellalabad.— H. B. H. 

^ Lord Roberts, in Forty-One Years in India, vol. ii. p. 153, thus describes 
the passage of the Manjiar Defile : — "It was important to secure the exit from 
this gorge without delay, and for this pm-pose I pashed on four companies of 
the 23rd Pioneers, and, in support, when the ravine began to widen out a little, 
T hurried on the Highlanders and the Moimtain Battery, leaving the Gurkhas 
to protect the baggage and bring up the rear. We only got possession of the 
exit just in time. The Pioneers, by occupying commanding positions on either 
Bide of the opening, effectually checkmated several large bodies of armed men 
who were approaching from different directions, and whose leaders now declared 
they had only come to help us ! Later on, we discovered still more formidable 
gatherings, which, doubtless, would all have combined to attack us had they 
been able to catch us in the ravine." But General Roberts, in his despatch of the 
18th December, 1878, says not a word about seizing the exit of the defile, and omits 
all reference to the Pioneers and Highlanders in connexion with the action ; 
while the evidence of the witnesses present establishes, beyond all dispute, the 
fact that he and the main body marched straight away to the new encamping 
ground, leaving the rear-guard unsupported, and that it was not until the 
middle of the afternoon, when news reached the camp of the perilous position 
of the Giirkhas, that re-inforcements of Highlanders and Pioneers were hastily 
prepared and sent to the rescue of that gallant reguuent, which meanwhile 
had succeeded in extricating itself from its difficulties. 

To re-write despatches, after a lapse of nearly twenty years, is a dangerous 
thing. Memory is not always trustworthy ; and moved by the desire to meet or 
- to forestall criticism, a man is apt to write not what he did, but what he now 
sees he ought to have done. — H. B. H. 


Occupation of the Khojak Pass 

At dawn on the 21st November, just when Sir S. Browne's Division 
was starting from Jamrud, and Roberts's troops were crossing the 
Kuram River, a portion of the Force which Major-General Biddulph had 
succeeded in echelonning along the Quetta-Pishin road, issued from 
Kuchlak under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel H. Fellowes, passed 
the Anglo- Afghan frontier into the wilderness of sandhills lying on 
its further side, and, after an unopposed but heavy march of eight 
miles, pitched its camp near the village of Haramzai on the Kakar 
River where, on the morrow, it was joined by the General with the 
remainder of the Infantry. The advance, however, was merely a 
nominal one, intended to satisfy Lord Lytton's dramatic instinct, 
by carrying out, to the letter, his programme of a threefold invasion 
of Afghanistan, on one and the same day ; for the Cavalry which had 
been sent back to Mustang in search of grass had to rejoin, and supplies 
of food, forage and fuel to be procured before any serious forward 
movement could be begun. The small reserve of those necessaries 
of existence with which Biddulph had entered Quetta had soon run 
out — all the sooner, because, in the first instance, he had with him 
not a single Commissariat Officer to check waste by organizing a 
proper system of distribution ; and when the Principal Commissariat 
Officer did appear on the scene, being without assistants, subordinates 
and clerical staff, he could do but little to mend matters. For- 
tunately, the Governor-General's Agent in Beluchistan — Major R. 


Sandeman — whose activity in collecting supplies has already been 
mentioned 1 — was able to furnish the reinforcements with seven 
days' rations and two days' fuel ; and the foraging parties that scoured 
the country in all directions, accompanied by officers acquainted 
\vith the language of the inhabitants, succeeded in purchasing, at 
exorbitant rates, sufficient grain and bousa (chopped straw) to save 
the Cavalry and Artillery horses from actual starvation.^ But as 
no price, however high, could induce the people to part with their own 
winter-stores, and as General Biddulph was too wise and too humane 
a man to sanction their being deprived of them by force, the troops 
that were hurried forward into Afghanistan, would have been in evil 
case if Sandeman had not again come to their assistance by stacking 
at Kuchlak, out of his Quetta magazine, just sufficient supplies to 
meet their more pressing needs till the provision convoys from India 
should begin to arrive — a very considerable interval, as the first of 
these convoys came up the Bolan in the wake of Stewart's Division. 
On the 25th November, the British camp was shifted to the further 
side of the Kakar River, and, on the 27th, the whole force crossed the 
Anjeran range of hills into Pishin. A more desolate spot for a winter 
sojourn can scarcely be conceived than this upland valley. Of con- 
siderable extent — thirty miles broad by sixty long — its treeless sur- 
face is intersected in all directions by formidable gullies. Down 
these, when the snows melt in the encircling hills, raging torrents 
rush along to swell the Kakar Lora River, chafing against its high 
restraining banks ; but, at all other seasons of the year, main streams 
and tributaries are alike empty of water, save for a few standing pools 
all more or less impregnated with medicinal salts. Irrigation being 

1 Vol. i. p. 316. 

^ " In 1839 the Cavalry and Artillery horses belonging to Keane's Army 
had no grain for twenty-seven days, and were in such a state of weakness 
on arriving at Kandahar that not a single troop was fit for detached duty." 
(The March of the Indus Army, by Major Hough.) 


thus nearly everywhere impracticable, and the rainfall light, but 
few of the inhabitants are cultivators of the soil, and the traders 
and shepherds who resort thither in the summer-time disappear 
before the icy winds which blast all vegetation and make life almost 
impossible for man, and quite impossible for his herds and flocks. 
How deadly their breath, the British invaders learnt to know, when, 
day after day, scores of famished camels were found of a morning 
dead, frozen fast to the ground on which they had sunk down the 
previous evening. 

The site of the new camp was close to the village of Haikalzai, 
a spot of much historic interest, since on the hills overlooking it could 
be discerned the sangars, still in a fair state of preservation, which, 
in the year 1840, the Afghans defended so stubbornly against General 
England that that Commander fell back upon Quetta, and refused 
to renew the attack, though well aware that the ammunition and 
treasure he was escorting, were urgently needed by General Nott at 
Kandahar.^ Here, on the 28th of November, Biddulph made over the 
command of the Division to Colonel H. de R. Pigott, the senior officer 
present at the time, and joined Clay's column which, so far, had 
been covering the right flank of the main body. With this he pro- 
ceeded to reconnoitre towards the territory of the Kakars, lying 
some thirty miles to the east of Haikalzai, with the object, as he has 
himself stated, of "making our presence felt on the Kakar border, 
of examining the passes leading towards Sibi and to the historic 
Thal-Chotiali route, and at the same time of defining the limits of 
the plains of the province along the east and north-east." 

The movements of the column were kept within the limits of the 
Afghan province of Pishin, whose inhabitants, even in the more remote 

1 During the halt of Biddulph's Division at Haikalzai, the scene of this 
action was a favourite resort of officers and men. It was easy to trace the 
broken track by which the gallant Apthorpe advanced to the attack, in which 
be fell, and a hundred of his men were killed or wounded. — H. B. H. 


districts, gave the troops a more friendly welcome than had been 
anticipated. Nowhere was their march impeded, and the only baggage 
plundered had been left all night unguarded among the hills, and 
may well have appeared to the inhabitants legitimate treasure- trove. 
Its owners, however, took a different view of its character, and as 
the two villages implicated in the theft failed, after notice given, to 
restore the stolen property, their cattle were driven in and sold to 
adjust the loss. The fort of Khushdil Khan-Ka-Killa, 40 miles north 
of Quetta, which appeared to General Biddulph a point of sufficient 
strategic importance to warrant its being put in repair, and gar- 
risoned by a company of native troops, was, a few months later, 
to be the point of assembly for his Division on its return march 
to India. 

f Wliilst this expedition which occupied a week, was in progress, 
Major H. B. Hanna and Captain C. A. de N. Lucas, with fifty sabres 
3rd Sind Horse, reconnoitred the Khojak Pass, and Colonel T. G. 
Kennedy, with the 2nd Punjab Cavalry, the Rogani and Gwaja 
Passes, with a view to determining the best route, or routes, for 
the impending advance on Kandahar. The first of these recon- 
noitring parties rode one afternoon across the valley to Arambi- 
Karez, fifteen miles north-west of Haikalzai, where the Political 
Agent had pitched his tents; and the following morning, accom- 
panied by Sandeman and some of his Baluchi chiefs, it entered 
the long defile at the lower end of the Khojak Pass, exchanging, 
in a moment, warmth and sunshine for darkness and cold. Not a 
ray of light fell across the path, which lay in the bed of a rapid 
brook, shut in by towering cliffs devoid of all vegetation, save where 
a weather-beaten olive, with spectral foliage and gnarled and twisted 
trunk, grew out of some narrow cleft. Now and again, a pair of 
magpies flew from among the rocks, and alighted on a boulder a few 
hundred feet ahead of the column, but no other living creature wag 
to be seen, and the rush of the water and the crunching of the shingle 


under the horses' hoofs were the only sounds. As, however, any 
number of Afghans might be lurking near, the advance was made 
with great caution, and, at every mile or so, on some projecting crag, 
a couple of videttes took up a position whence to watch the defile 
and give notice to the reconnoitrers of the approach of an enemy 
from the rear, or down some side ravine. 

After a five or six miles' ride, the party, now considerably reduced 
in numbers, emerged from the defile, and saw before them the rugged 
hillside up which the track rose steeply to the summit of the Khojak 
Pass, seven thousand three hundred and eighty feet above sea-level. 
Dismounting and leaving their escort and horses in the bed of the 
stream which here widens out sufficiently to form a good camping- 
ground, the three officers and their native companions chmbed to 
the kotal and looked down over the vast, treeless waste broken, here 
and there, by fantastic-shaped hiUs of marvellous hues, their jagged 
outlines standing out sharply against the cloudless sky, which con- 
stitutes the major portion of the Province of Kandahar. Looked 
at from above, that wide plain seemed to the beholders as lifeless 
as the mountains among which they stood, for the few hamlets scat- 
tered over its surface, were too small to be distinguishable, and one 
of those weird ranges hid the embattled walls of the city of Kandahar 
from view. 

Turning from the contemplation of this strangely varied and 
beautiful desert — for desert it may be termed, since its intermittent 
rivers and scanty rainfall can endow it with but brief and fitful life — 
the English officers carefully examined the reverse side of the pass, 
and convinced themselves that, with time and labour, the long aban- 
doned track could be fitted for the use of the troops, baggage and 
guns, but not for that of a siege-train. Luckily, however, Colonel 
Kennedy's reconnaissances showed that, although the Rogani Pass 
could only be used by Infantry and dismounted Cavalry, the Gwaja 
Pass, owing to its easier gradients, would admit of the passage of 



the heavy cannon which were coming up with General Stewart, and 
in expectation of which Biddulph's men ha4 been busily at work 
improving the road from Quctta into the Pishin Valley, via the Ghaza- 

band Pass. , -j u i ,.> 

Wlien the reports of the three reconnaissances were laid before 
General Biddulph on his return to camp, he liad no hesitation m 
deciding that the advance of his Division should be made by the 
Khoiak as the most direct and best watered road to Kandahar, and 
he at once hurried forward » strong detachment to occupy the pass. 
On the resumption of the advance, on the 12th of December, thejorce was 
somewhat better off in the matter of superior officers than had hitherto 
been the case, for Brigadier-General C. H. PaUiser. C.B.. command- 
ing the Cavalry, and the two Infantry Brigade Commanders, B. 
Jcy and T. NuttaU. had arrived in camp during Biddulph s absence, 
and though each was without his proper Staii, they had been able 
to do something towards putting the organization of their respective 
Brigades on a proper footing. . ,. j „ 

On the 12th of December, Biddulph took up a new position at AbduUa 
Khan.ka.Killa, a well watered spot about three miles from the mouth 
of the Khoiak Defile; Clay's column, which he had left at Khushdd 
Khan-Ka-Killa,' covering his right flank, whilst at Gulistan Karez 
on his left, General PaUiser watehed the outlets of the Gwaja and 
Kogani Passes. Thus protected, the 5th and 9th Companies of Bengal 
Sappers and Miners, the 32nd Pioneers, the 26th Punjab Infantry 
and a gang of Ghikai labourers, set to work to restore the nearly 
obUterated path on both sides of the pass, and, notwithstanding a 
heavy taU of snow and the extensive blasting operations rendered 
necessary by the hardness of the rock, on the Uth, ^je Engineers 
were able to report that, though impracticable for the Field Battery, 
the road could safely be used for the passage of the Mountain Guns, 

1 At this place Colonel Clay d«ooverea and seixed a large quantity 
o, bariey and corn belonging to the Amir-a great wiad.all tor the troops. 


Cavalry and loaded transport. The following day, Colonel Kennedy, 
with two Mountain Guns, the 2nd Punjab Cavalry and the 26th Pun- 
jab Infantry, crossed the Pass, and occupied Chaman on the western 
side of the Khwaja Amran Mountains, pushing out examining parties 
well to his front and flanks. 

General Biddulph, in consultation with his principal Engineer 
and Artillery Officers, Colonels W. Hichens and C. B. Le Messurier, 
now decided to form a ramp, or slide, on the further side of the pass, 
and down this, on the 18th December, the guns were successfully low- 
ered by the ropes which Captain W. G. Nicholson's foresight had 
provided; ^ but as the shde was, at best, but a temporary expedient, and 
provision would ultimately have to be made for the passage of wheeled 
carriage, the Commanding Engineer was directed to select a good 
aUgnment for a new road ; and when a thirteen-foot track, with a 
maximum gradient of 1' in 10', had been properly traced, Lieuten- 
ant H. L. Wells, R.E., came up from Quetta with a gang of Ghilzai 
labourers, to complete the work.^ 

The lowering of the guns down the ramp, and the initiation 
of the permanent roadway which was to supersede it, were the last 
acts of General Biddulph's independent command, for General Stewart 
had now arrived at Quetta, and assumed supreme control of all the 
British Forces in Southern Afghanistan. 


Though the reconnaissance of the Kakar country doubtless added 
to our geographical knowledge of Afghanistan, it was not demanded 
by the circumstances of the moment, and it had the worst possible 
effect on the neighbouring tribes, rousing in their minds well founded 

1 Vol. i. p. 302. 

2 General Biddulph had the satisfaction of inspecting this road on his return 
to India, in March 1879, and of seeing the first wheeled carriages — a train of 
carts laden with telegraph material — safely cross the pass. — H. B. H. 


suspicions of ulterior objects inimical to their independence ; and 
if it had been an absolutely necessary operation, it was not one which 
the General should have undertaken in person. The proper place 
of a Commander moving in an enemy's country, especially if ignorant 
of that enemy's whereabouts and intentions, is with his main body. 
Not only was Biddulph quite in the dark as to whether the moun- 
tains in his front were held by the enemy and as to hostile gatherings 
beyond them, but his communications with Quetta were none of 
the surest, and an enterprising foe might have cut them at any moment 
by occupying the Gazaband Pass. 


Concentration of the Kandahar Field Force in 


The truth that the real difficulty and danger of the war lay, not in 
the organized resistance which the Amir could offer to the British 
advance, but in the extent and nature of the country to be traversed, 
and in the character and habits of the tribes distributed over its vast 
surface, was destined to be as fully realized by the troops belonging 
to Stewart's Division as by those who, under Browne, Roberts and 
Biddulph, had preceded them into Afghanistan. At Rohri, on the 
left bank of the Indus, they had been delayed for a considerable time 
by the scanty provision made for conveying them and their stores to 
the ^opposite shore, and at Sukkur, on the right bank, by the unwilling- 
ness of the Sind camel-owners to furnish the transport needed to en- 
able them to take the next step towards their distant objective — Kanda- 
har — an unwillingness only overcome by the Sind Government's solemn 
promise that their animals should not be required to go beyond Dadar, 
where hill-camels would be waiting to take their place. As the 
reluctantly accorded supply came slowly in, the troops were moved 
forward in small bodies, across a foetid swamp reeking with poisonous 
emanations from millions of dead fish left behind by the subsiding 
floods, to Jacobabad (forty-five miles) ; through a belt of jungle 


interspersed with slimy pools, to Nusserabad (eleven miles) ; and 
lastly through the horrible Kachi desert/ where dust storms often 
obliterate the only track, and where the length of each day's march — 
twenty-eight miles in one instance — is regulated by the wells and pools 
of brackish, turbid water scattered, at irregular intervals, along its 
course, to Dadar (one hundred and thirteen miles), that "hell upon 
earth" already described in Chapter XVI., Vol. I. 

Starting a month later than Biddulph's Force, they had less to 
suffer from heat, but more from cold, the thermometer often falling 
below freezing-point at night ; and though they had no single experi- 
ence to be compared to the terrible march from Bandowali to Kabra- 
dani, their trials were of longer duration and their daily fatigues 
even greater, for, early and late,2 they were engaged in helping forward 
the Heavy Guns, whose carriages and ammunition waggons were 
perpetually sticking fast in swamps and pools, lying helpless at the 
bottom of the deep nullahs with which the flat surface of the desert 
is intersected, breaking through that desert's hard upper crust, known 
locally as pat, and sinking up to their axles in the loose sand below. ^ 
So great were the delays thus occasioned, that rear-guards had hardly 

1 " It," — the Kachi desert — " is, in the hotter and drier months, a plain of 
arid sand, but is converted by the first heavy fall of rain into a salt marsh. The 
whole of it is swept at periods by the fatal simoon ; it is pestilential amidst the 
extreme heats of April and May ; not less so when its sands have been converted 
into swamps by the rains of June, July, August and September, or when the 
exhalations rise in dense vapour from it a month later." (Havelock's History of 
the First Afghan War). 

2 Asked by a comrade in the Infantry why his Battery — a heavy one — was 
called 5-11, a gurmer promptly replied, "Why, to be sm'e, we march at five 
o'clock in the morning, and don't get into camp till eleven at night." 

"^ " The siege-train I have given up as hopeless for the next two montlis, but 
if I can get on the two elephant batteries, I hope to be in a position to take 
Ghazni as well as Khelat-i-Ghilzai before the spring. . . . Men and officers 
have been employed in hauling guns through the sand, and the officers themselves 
had to put their hands to the rope and pull. I must say all have shown the best 
spirit." (Elmie's Life of Sir Donald Stewart, p. 233.) 


arrived in camp before they were called upon to load iip again, and 
resume their march. Over-work soon bore its natural fruits. Many 
men went sick, and each day showed larger gaps in the ranks of the 
camp-followers and transport-animals. The mortality among the 
latter filled their drivers with angry alarm ; and when rumours reached 
them that no hill-camels had been collected at Dadar, and they began 
to understand that they and their exhausted and over-laden beasts 
would have to go on through the pass, in which, just forty years 
earlier, so many of their fathers had perished, they took every oppor- 
tunity of steaUng away from the line of march by day, or from the 
camping- grounds at night ; and their desertions meant not only the 
loss of valuable baggage and stores, but a serious addition to the 
labours and responsibilities of the troops, who dared not lose sight of 
their transport, lest man and beast should vanish in the trackless desert. 
On arriving at Dadar, it proved only too true that the Baluchi 
chiefs, still uncertain whether they would, or would not, throw in their 
lot with the British Government, had failed to keep their promise 
to provide camels of hardier breed ; and, notwithstanding the despair- 
ing protests of their owners, the remnant of the twenty thousand Sind 
camels, together with many thousands brought from the Punjab, 
were ordered to proceed to Pisliin. The step, inevitable under the 
circumstances, had serious consequences apart from the discredit 
which it brought upon British honour.^ All the arrangements for 
keeping up a constant stream of supplies between India and the 
Forces in Southern Afghanistan, had been based upon the expectation 
that the plain-camels, after making over their loads to animals better 
adapted than they to tread rough mountain-paths, and endure the 

' " But of all the evils which beset the fair progress of the Expedition, there 
is nothing to my mind, so disgraceful as the breach of good faith committed 
with the camel- men. ... A native will stand by the Sirkar (Government) 
because he believes its word, but here, at the outset, was a distinct breach of 
faith." (Major Le Messurier, Kandahar in 1879, p. 23.) 


intense cold of an Alpine winter, would return to Sukkur, where vast 
quantities of military and commissariat stores were daily accumu- 
lating, to re-load, and were to continue plying between the Indus 
and the foot of the Bolan, so long as the war should last. Now, how- 
ever, the transport which was to have played a similar part between 
Multan and Rohri, had to cross the river and go on, in its turn, to 
Pishin ; and the Indian Government found itself driven to make a great 
effort to replace it with inferior animals, purchased at enhanced prices. 
The measure must have been a bitter pill to Lord Lytton, whose 
pleasing dream of war waged at no expense worth mentioning, was 
fast melting away on every side ; but, having once launched troops 
into regions where food of every description was non-existent, no cost 
could be allowed to stand in the way of providing for their necessities ; 
and it shows what pressure must have been put upon the Punjab 
peasant to compel him to part with his remaining stock of camels, 
that the Kandahar Field Force escaped starvation, for the leakage 
of stores by the way, was simply enormous. It was not merely that 
the loads of thousands of the transport-animals whose corpses 
strewed the road from Sukkur to Pishin, had to be left lying in the 
desert or on the mountain-side — but that the Baluchis, not content 
with these windfalls, were very active in plundering the convoys 
whose scanty escorts could neither protect them on the march, nor 
effectually guard their camping-grounds. After a time, two causes 
brought about a marked improvement in a state of things which 
was tlireatening to reduce Stewart's and Biddulph's Divisions to a 
state of impotence : Sandeman, at last, succeeded in inducing the 
Baluchis to keep their promise to supply hill- transport, and the Bombay 
troops to whom the duty of guarding the communications of the 
Kandahar Field Force had been assigned, began to appear on the 
scene. Of course, Baluchi aid had to be dearly bouglit ; the rates 
asked — eight rupees for the conveyance of a camel-load (three hundred 
and twenty pounds) from Dadar to Quetta — staggered the British 


negotiator ; but the wily old Brahui ^ chief, who had been the first 
to consent to treat, knew the state of things prevailing along the 
whole fine of advance, too well, to abate one tittle of his demands ; and 
the prices agreed upon with him, had to be conceded to all. The 
arrangements once concluded, thousands of hill-camels poured into 
Dadar, and the Sind and Punjab camels were relegated to their proper 
sphere of work. 

The Bombay Division, details of which are given in the accom- 
panying table, estabHshed its headquarters at Jacobabad about the 
middle of December, and from that point the troops belonging to 
Brigadier- General Phayre's Brigade, spread gradually along the entire 
line of communications : — 

Bombay Division. 

Major-General J. M. Primrose . . . Commanding. 

Lieutenant E. O. F. Hamilton . . . Aide- de-Camp. 

Colonel E. A. Green Assistant Adjutant-General. 

Major Lloyd Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General. 

Captain A. B. Stopford Deputy Assistant Quartermaster- 

Lieutenant-Colonel A. M. Shewell . . Principal Commissariat Officer. 


B-B Royal Horse Artillery .... Major W. H. Caine, Commanding. 
H-i Boyal Artillery Major H. F. Pritchard, Commanding. 

1 The Brahui is not a true Baluch, but the two races intermarry, and the 
differences between them are fast disappearing. Thornton, in his Life of Sir 
R. Sandeman, writes (page 110): — "In character, both Brahui and Baluch 
are frank and open in their manner, and their hospitality is proverbial ; they 
are brave and enduring, predatory, but not pilferers ; vindictive, but not 
treacherous. With all the virtues of their neighbours, the Afghans, they are 
more rehable and less truculent ; and on two points, which have an important 
bearing on their management, they differ widely : the Baluch is amenable to 
the control of his chief ; the Afghan is a republican and obeys the Jirga, or 
council of the dominant faction of his tribe. The Afghan is fanatical and 
priest-ridden ; the Baluch is singularly free from rehgious bigotry." 


14th Hussars. 
1st Sind Horse. 

Infantry Brigade. 

Brigadier- General R. Phayre . . . Commanding. 
Major C. J. Burnett Brigade Major. 

83rd Foot. 

Ist Bombay Grenadiers. 

19th Bombay Infantry. 

Two Companies Bombay Sappers. 

Their presence soon insured the safety of the convoys, and their 
labour, in due time, facihtated their movements, for the 1st Bombay 
Grenadiers and the 19th Bombay Infantry so widened and repaired 
the road up the Bolan, modifying gradients, ramping ravines, bridging 
the river at many points and clearing away shingle and boulders 
along an aligned route extending for nearly seventy miles — a work 
which it took them six months of incessant toil to complete — that, 
just at the very time when the mortality among the camels had 
thinned their ranks beyond all hope of replenishment, it became 
possible to replace them by bullock-carts. 

At Dadar, confusion still reigned supreme. There had been no 
leisure in which to arrange for proper commissariat and conservancy 
establishments ; no opportunity of procuring and stacking fuel and 
forage for the use of the regiments that emerged from the hot plain 
one day, to disappear the next into the cold hills ; and the few 
fields of jowari, now ripe along the river-banks, had to be reaped, 
without sickles, by the men themselves, and the crop carried on their 
pack-animals, without ropes to secure, or saletas (coarse canvas bags) 
to contain it. Again and again, it looked as if the troops could never 
be got to the front ; yet, the stream of men and beasts never actually 
stopped, and, by the latter half of December, after much suffering and 
the loss of a large part of its transport, the 1st Division of the Kan- 
dahar Field Force had arrived at Quetta. 


General Stewart, who, with his Staff, had hurried forward in advance 
of the troops, had reached that town on the 8th of December. It 
must have been a rehef to his mind, harassed by a load of mihtary 
cares, to find a man of Sandeman's experience, tact, and resolution, 
waiting there to discuss the political situation, and soon to have proof 
in the conclusion of the transport arrangement already chronicled, 
of his great influence over the Baluchis. Unfortunately, the General's 
relations with his Second-in-Command were less satisfactory. On 
his way up the Bolan, Stewart had been much shocked by the foul 
and insanitary state of the camping-grounds, and the number of dead 
camels lying iinburied in the pass. New to such scenes, and not 
suspecting that, if there were any fault in the matter, his own troops 
would shortly deserve far greater condemnation, he hastily concluded 
that the Quetta Reinforcements had neglected their duty, and wrote 
his displeasure in strong terms. Biddulph, a proud and sensitive 
man, bitterly resented the undeserved rebuke, and the absence of all 
recognition of the great services which his tired and sickly troops had 
rendered to Stewart's Division by smoothing the way for their advance. 
His vexation was natural ; yet, to some extent, he had himself to blame. 
Had he gone to Quetta to meet his Chief, a few words of explanation 
would have shown Stewart his mistake ; but he could not bring 
himself to take this step, and there was no meeting between the two 
Generals till the senior rode into the junior's camp, by which time 
their mutual feelings had been so much embittered as to injure, per- 
manently, their relations to each other, and to impair the cordiality 
wliich, under other circumstances, would have existed between their 
respective Staffs, and between the rank and file of their respective 

If the state of the Bolan had alarmed General Stewart, the condition 
of Quetta was not such as to lessen his disquietude. Outside that town, 
lay the corpses of the six or seven hundred camels which Biddulph, hav- 
ing neither labour at his command to bury, nor fuel to burn them, had 


caused to be dragged to leeward of the station.i The sight was a 
sickening one, though, owing to the unusual dryness of the season, the 
bodies, instead of decaying, shrivelled up in the sun and wind, and 
did little to poison either the air or the water ; but the filth which 
abounded on every side, was a real and most serious danger. In vain 
the medical officers offered suggestions, and the military authorities 
issued stringent orders for its disinfection or removal ; the evil which 
grew rapidly as more and more troops passed through the valley, was 
beyond all cure; and Quetta had to continue a hot-bed of disease 
throughout the entire campaign.^ 

On the 14th of December, General Stewart and his Staff left Quetta, 
Deputy Surgeon-General Alexander Smith remaining behind to subject 
the Kandahar Field Force to the same rigorous inspection which 
the Quetta Reinforcements had already undergone at his hands. The 
result so far as the European regiments were concerned, proved 
satisfactory. The keen air of the Bolan had so braced and invigorated 
the men, that but few had the mortification of hearing themselves 
pronounced unfit to go further ; but among the Native troops, to 
whom cold is a poison — not a tonic, there was much sickness ; and many 

1 " Experience showed that when fuel was available (which was very seldom) 
tlie easiest mode of disposing of dead animals was to disembowel them, fill their 
interiors with dry straw, grass, thorns, or any other inflammable materials avail- 
able, which, when fired, gradually consumed the whole body." (Deputy Surgeon 
General A. Smith.) 

2 If stringent orders could have ensured the health and well-being of the 
Force, its condition should liave been perfect, for plenty of them were issued. 
Major Le Messurier, writing from Dadar, gives a caustic account of one batch of 
them. " These orders," he writes, " which, by the way, were handed to us on 
several pieces of paper and disconnected, desired, or, rather, laid down that all 
followers were to be clothed: — admitted; but where the clothing? That all 
camels were to be protected by a jhool (covering) : — good again ; but where the 
jhools ? That so many days' provisions were to be carried through the Pass : — 
excellent ; but where the rations and forage ? That all camps on being abandoned 
were to be thoroughly cleaned : — but where was the conservancy staff ? " 
{Kandahar in 1879, p. 23.) 


of them, and still larger numbers of the camp-followers, had to be 
detained in Quetta for medical treatment. 

At Abdulla Khan-Ka-Killa, Stewart found himself confronted with 
the same difficulties which he had had to face at Quetta. The hospitals 
were full ; deaths had been numerous among troops and followers ; 
many of the Cavalry-horses had died or broken down ; much of the 
original transport had perished, and httle had been done to renew 
it ; 1 and the one fresh element in the situation — the attitude of the 
Pathans in the Native regiments — was far from re-assuring. The men 
could not be called disaffected, for they were loyal to their officers 
and quite ready to fight against the Amir ; but they were restless and 
uneasy with the consciousness that scenes like to those in which they 
were bearing a part, were being enacted in the Khyber, where many 
of them had their homes. The news of Maude's expedition into the 
Bazar Valley, so increased their alarm that many Afridis came boldly 
forward to ask for leave of absence in order to place their families 
in safety, promising to rejoin as soon as this duty had been accom- 
pUshed. On the refusal of their request, these men deserted in a body, 
leaving however, their rifles, ammunition, and accoutrements behind 
them, as a proof that they were acting in good faith, and had no 
intention of turning traitors to their salt. 

After visiting Chaman to select a site for a redoubt, which was 
to cover the western end of the Khojak Pass and to contain a large 
commissariat depot. General Stewart addressed himself to the task 
of re-organizing the whole of the troops now under liis command, 
into two bodies, which were thenceforward to be known as the 1st 
and 2nd Divisions of the Kandahar Field Force; the former, to continue 

^ General Stewart to the Adjutant-General of the Army in India : 

" Camp, Killa Abdulla, 22nd December, 1878. 

" We are halted here because we have no money and our transport is in pieces 
— due no doubt to scarcity of forage and cold. . . . Many of the poor 
brutes were unfit for the hard work of knocking about Pishin, and have died of 
exhaustion." {Life of Sir Donald Stewart, page 232.) 



Colonel R. H. Sankey 
Major A. Le Messurier . 
Lieutenant C. F. Call 
Lieutenant E. S. E. Childers 
Lieutenant G. R. R. Savage 

under his own immediate command, the latter, under Biddulph's ; 
no change being made in the Divisional Staff of the respective Generals. 


1st Division. 
Royal Engineers. 

Brigade Major. 
Assistant Field Engineer. 
Assistant Field Engineer. 
Superintendent of Field Telegraphs. 
Three Companies of Sappers and Miners. 
Engineer Field Park. 

Brigadier-General C. G. Arbuthnot, C.B. Commanding. 

Captain A. D. Anderson Brigade Major. 

Major C. Cowie Commissary of Ordnance. 

Captain R. A. Lanning Adjutant. 

Colonel A. C. Johnson Commanding Royal Horse and Field 


Colonel A. H. Dawson Commanding Heavy Artillery. 

5-11 Royal Artillery (Heavy) . . . Major C. CoUingwood, Commanding. 
6-11 Royal Artillery (Heavy) . . . Major J. A. Tillard, Commanding. 
11-11 Royal Artillery (Mountain) . . Major N. H. Harris, Commanding. 
Ordnance Field Park. 

Cavalry Brigade. 
Brigadier-General W. Fane, C.B. . . Commanding. 

Captain H. H. F. Giftord Brigade Major. 

15th Hussars Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. Swindley, 


8th Bengal Cavalry Colonel B. W. Ryall, Commanding. 

19th Bengal Lancers Colonel P. S. Yorke. 

A.B. Royal Horse Artillery .... Colonel D. MacFarlan. 

^ Siege Train en route from India. 

Colonel E. J. Bruce . 
Major W. H. Noble . . 
13-8 Royal Artillery (Siege) 
16-8 Royal Artillery (Siege) 
8-11 Royal Artillery (Siege) 


Staff Officer. 

Major E. S. Burnett, Commanding. 

Major J. H. Blackley, Commanding. 

Major H. H. Murray, Commanding. 


1st Infantry Brigade. 
Brigadier-General R. Barter . . . Commanding. 

Captain C. M. Stockley Brigade Major. 

2nd Battalion 60th Rifles .... Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. Collins, Com- 

15th Sikhs Major G. R. Hennessy, Commanding. 

25th Pimjab Infantry Lieutenant-Colonel J. W. Hoggan, 

I-l Royal Artillery Major H. B. Lewes, Commanding. 

2nd Infantry Brigade. 

Brigadier-General R. J. Hughes . . . Commanding. 

Captain A. G. Handcock Brigade-Major. 

59th Foot Major J. Lawson, Commanding. 

1st Gurkhas Colonel R. S. Hill, Commanding. 

3rd Gurkhas Colonel A. Paterson, Commanding. 

12th Bengal Infantry Colonel R. H. Price, Commanding. 

D-2 Royal Artillery Major E. Staveley, Commanding. 

2nd Division. 
Royal Engineers. 
Lieutenant-Colonel W. Hichens . . . Commanding. 

Captain W. S. S. Bisset Field Engineer. 

Captain W. G. Nicholson Field Engineer. 

5th Company Bengal Sappers and Miners. 
Engineer Field Park. 

Lieutenant-Colonel C. B. Le Messurier Commanding. 
Lieutenant F. H. G. Cruickshank . . Adjutant. 

Major F. V. Eyre Commissary of Ordnance. 

E-4 Royal Artillery Major T. C. Martelli. 

No. 2 Jacobabad Mountain Battery . Captain R. Wace. 
No. 3 Peshawar Mountain Battery . . Captain J. Charles. 
Ordnance Field Park. 

Cavalry Brigade. 
Brigade-General C. H. Palliser, C.B. . Commanding. 

Captain H. R. Abadie Brigade-Major. 

1st Punjab Cavab-y Major G. S. Maclean, Commanding. 

2nd Punjab Cavalry Colonel T. G. Kennedy, Commanding. 

3rd Sind Horse Lientenant-Colonel J. H. P. Malcohn- 

son. Commanding. 

Ist Infantry Brigade. 
Brigadier-General R. Lacy .... Commanding. 


Captain M. H. Nicolson Brigade Major. 

70th Foot Colonel H. de R. Pigott, Commanding. 

19th Punjab Infantry Colonel E. B. Clay, Commanding. 

2nd Infantry Brigade. 

Brigadier-General T. Nuttall . . . Commanding. 

Captain W. W. Haywood .... Brigade-Major. 

26th Punjab Infantry Lieutenant-Colonel M. G. Smith 


32nd Pioneers Lieutenant-Colonel H. Fellows, Com- 

29th Baluchis Lieutenant-Colonel G. Nicholetts, 



Two Guns Jacobabad Mountain Battery -i Major F. T. Humphrey, 
30th Bombay Infantry (Jacob's Rifles) j Commanding. 

Moveable Column in Pishin. 
Two Guns Peshawar Mountain Battery 

1st Punjab Infantry ^ Major F. J. Keen, Commanding 

Chaman Fort. 

Two Guns Jacobabad Mountain Battery ^Lieutenant-Colonel A. TuUoch, 
One Troop 3rd Sind Horse .... V Commanding. 
Two Companies 26th Punjab Infantry 

Hand in hand with this measure, went the working out of a simple 
but effective plan of campaign, its twofold object being speed in its 
earUer stages, attained by a separation of the invading forces, and 
strength, in its final stage, by their re-union at Takht-i-Pul, thirty-two 
miles short of Kandahar, and still outside the zone in which organized 
resistance might be expected, if the Amir's father-in-law, Sirdar 
Afzul Khan, carried out the peremptory instructions which he was 
known to have received from Kabul, to oppose with his cavalry the 
British advance. 

The First Division was to cross the Khwaja Amran mountains 
by the Gwaja Pass— its commanding Engineer, Colonel R. Sankey, 
had confirmed Colonel Kennedy's report as to the practicability of 


that Pass for Heavy Artillery ; — the Second, by the Khojak.^ The 
working parties required to complete the work of widening the road 
through the Gwaja and reducing its gradients, were to be furnished 
by the Second Division, as the First was only just beginning to con- 
centrate at Gulistan Karez; and Major A. Le Messurier, with a party 
of sappers, was to be sent forward to develop and regulate the water 
supply which, contained in deep wells varying in depth from a 
hundred and fifty to three hundred feet, and yielding about eight 
hundred gallons at a time, would have to be drawn and stored in 
puddled tanks, the process being repeated as fast as the wells refilled. 

1 Stewart's original intention was to send the Heavy Guns along the 
foot of the mountains to Chaman — from the exit of the Gwaja Pass to Chaman 
was about twenty-eight miles — thus avoiding the long and waterless march be- 
tween Gwaja and Konchai ; but a reconnaissance made by Major C. S. Maclean 
with his regiment, the 1st Punjab Cavaky, showed that it was not practicable 
for wheeled carriage, and no time could be spared to improve it. 

From Quetta 

TO Kandahar. 











in Feet 

in Miles 

in Miles 

in Feet 


Quetta to — . 

Quetta to — , 




Gazarband . . . 

Kushlak . 






Syud Yarn . 





Gulistan . . 






Gundawanni . 

Arambi Karez . 





Gwaja Kotal 

Killa Abdulla . 





Spintaza . 

Khojak Post 






Khojak Kotal 





Konchai . 

Chaman . 





Shahpasand . 

Gatai .... 





Takht-i-pul . . 






Abdul Rahman 

Abdul Rahman 











Kandahar City . 

Kandahar City . 



Table compiled by Major A. Le Messurier from Captains Bevan's and 

Roger's Surveys. 



On the 26th of December, General Stewart transferred his Head- 
quarters to Guhstan Karez, and the same day the survivors of the 
regimental and commissariat camels — in a single march thirty-five 
had died, eight strayed, and twenty-one been incapacitated ^ — were 
sent back to Abdulla Killa to load up and take forward the supplies 
with which it had been decided to provision the different camping- 
grounds — an excellent arrangement that had been rendered possible 
by Sandeman's successful handling of the Achakzais, a nomadic tribe 
which in 1839, had given Keane's army endless trouble, but now, 
for the moment, was showing itself friendly." On the 30th of Decem- 
ber, Sankey reported that the Pass was ready for the advance of the 
troops and baggage, and the last day of the year saw the First 
Division concentrated at Gulistan Karez, with its advanced guard 
on the western slopes of the Khwaja Amran Mountains, and the 
Second Division, at Chaman, re-inforced by A.B. Royal Horse 
Artillery (three guns), I. 1 Royal Artillery, 11. 11 Royal Artillery, 
and the 15th Hussars, transferred on account of the scarcity of water 
in the Gwaja Pass. 

Water was not the only necessary of life of which there was a 
deficiency ; only ten days' supply of food remained to the whole Force, 
and the mind of its Commander-in-Chief was heavy with anxious 
thought as he looked forward to the long march that still lay before 

^ The mortality amongst the transport animals had been now increased by 
the prevalence of a poisonous bush in appearance like a bastard indigo, with 
a small hard grain, which the camels eat with avidity. The Anglo-Indian Press 
about this time, teemed with accounts of their sufferings over the whole area of 
operations. The Pioneer, after giving the case of an officer who started from 
Mithankote with five hundred and twenty camels and lost them all before he got 
to Quetta, and quoting from a correspondent at Jellalabad the statement that the 
camels in the Khyber were dying at the rate of two hundred a day — ended a 
leading article with the words : " Losses of this kind are not only wasteful but 

^ According to Major H. B. Lumsden, the tents of the Achakzais, each one 
containing a family, number 14,000. 


it, and to the chance that bad weather might cause delay, and leave 
him no choice but to put lii.s troops on half rations. 1 

To complete the history of the military movement connected with 
the advance of the Kandahar Field Force, it remains only to state 
that Sibi was occupied by a detachment of Bombay troops, and the 
Bhawalpur Contingent which had temporarily garrisoned Multan, 
was relieved, early in December, by a Brigade from Madras commanded 
by Brigadier-General A. C. MacMaster, consisting of the following 
StaflF and Troops : — 

Captain S. W. Bell, Brigade Major. 

1st Madras Cavalry. 

67th Foot. Lieutenant-Colonel C. B. Knowles, 

30th Madras Infantry. 
36th Madras Infantry. 
Two Companies Madras Sappers. 


The importance of the work performed by troops employed on 
lines of communication is so great and so often overlooked, that 
it is well to emphasize it by a brief summary of the duties dis- 
charged by the Bombay Division. On it devolved : — 

1. Every arrangement connected with the prompt, efficient and 
safe transmission of troops, transport and supplies of every kind to 
the Advanced Force. 

^ " Camp, Gulistan Karez. 

"December Slst, 1878. 
" I am very down in my luck to day, owing to the breakdown of the Com- 
missariat. . . . We are now in possession of only ten days' supphes, and 
we may have to go on half rations if we are snowed up, or anything of that sort . 
(Life of Sir D. Stewart, pp. 232-233.) 


2. The construction and garrisoning of the fortified posts along 
the whole line of communications. 

3. The provision of troops for the various moveable columns. 

4. Road and bridge making. 

5. Furnishing escorts for convoys, survey parties, officers, etc. 

6. Escorting sick and wounded to the base hospitals. 

7. Patrolling and outpost duty. 

8. Telegraph arrangements. 

9. Signalling. 

10. Recoimoitring. 

11. Minor expeditions against recalcitrant tribes. 

12. Re-inforcing the Main Army at any time, and at a moment's 

Public Opinion in England 


The indifference which prevailed in the United Kingdom during the 
weeks of grace accorded by Lord Beaconfield's Government to Shere 
Ali, contrasts strongly with the excitement pervading all classes of 
society before the late South African war ; but the reason for the 
difference is not far to seek. In 1899, military preparations were 
carried on under the eyes of the people of these islands, whose hearts 
were daily thrilled, or wrung, by the sight of their sons, husbands, 
brothers, friends, starting forth to meet unknown dangers. In 1878, 
there were no martial scenes in the streets to arouse popular passion, 
no public partings to touch the springs of deeper feeling, and to the 
great mass of Englishmen the prospect of a conflict with Afghanistan 
brought no fear of personal loss. India has never filled a large place 
in the mind of the British public, and \\dth trade stagnant, manufac- 
tures crippled, agriculture — despite a good wheat-harvest — depressed 
by unseasonable weather and disastrous floods, home troubles would 
have left little time for weighing Lord Lytton's conduct to Shere Ali 
against Shere All's attitude towards the British Government, even 
had men been in possession of the facts essential to the forming of 
an independent judgment on either point. And no one had any 
knowledge of those facts ; even the Indian experts who fought against 
the coming war in the columns of the daily press, even Lord Lawrence 
and Lord Northbrook, had only their own former experience to go 
on in arguing that Shere Ali was no enemy of the British Empire, and 


that if lie had come to look like one, it was because Lord Lytton had 
forced him to assume a character which he had no desire to wear. 
It was a year and a half since British relations with Afghanistan had 
been last discussed in Parliament, and dismissed by Lord Sahsbury 
with the assurance that Great Britain was still on good terms with 
that country and its ruler, and since then, beyond the bare fact that 
a Russian Mission had visited Kabul, and a British Mission been 
refused a passage through the Khyber, not a crumb of information 
to account for the imminence of hostilities with a government so 
recently friendly, had been vouchsafed to the British people or its 
representatives ; not even the withdrawal of the Vakil from Kabul, 
having been allowed to transpire. 

This lack of data from which to reason, coupled with the pre- 
vaiHng behef that war, if it came, would be short, bloodless, and 
cheap, deprived those who sought to avert it, of the advantage which 
the absence of popular excitement miglit otherwise have given 
them. It is ill standing for principles, when the case to which they 
have to be applied, is shrouded in obscurity ; yet, there were men 
who did not shrink from the task. Dean Plumptre, preaching in 
St. Paul's Cathedral on the 17th of November, from the text, " Shall 
we smite with the sword ? " reminded his hearers that they who 
sowed the wind of aggressive ambition, must look to reap the whirl- 
wind of disastrous failure ; and Dr. Eraser, the Bishop of Manchester, 
in a pastoral letter, bade Englishmen ask themselves whether the 
rectification of a frontier, or the desire to avenge an insult to an 
envoy— if insult had been oiiered, of which there was no proof— was 
a sufficient reason, in the sight of God, for plunging into the unspeak- 
able horrors and incalculable consequences of war. There were other 
ministers of the Church of England who appealed earnestly to their 
congregations to use their influence to induce the Government to 
delay hostilities until the Amir's reply to the ultimatum had been 
received and made public ; but, as a body, the clergy of the National 


Church remained passive and mute, leaving it to the pastors of the 
dissenting churches to take anything Uke united action in vindication 
of the fundamental principles of the Christian religion, those of the 
Midland Counties lodging a strong protest against the war, whilst, all 
over the country, individuals like Paxton Hood and Baldwin Brown, 
boldly denounced it from their pulpits.^ 

On the 21st November, when the war had already begun, the Govern- 
ment broke its long silence by the pubhcation, in the Times and other 
leading journals, of the very latest document relating to Afghan 
affairs— a secret Despatch, but three days old, addressed by Lord 
Cranbrook, Secretary of State for India, to Lord Lytton. This docu- 
ment, which professed to be a true summary of the events that had 
led to the rupture with the Amir, was merely the echo of Lord Salis- 
bury's Despatches to Lord Northbrook, of his letter of instructions to 
Lord Lytton, and of that Viceroy's letter of instructions to Sir Lewis 
Pelly, and it was marked by the same misstatement or concealment 
of facts at variance with the impression it desired to convey, the same 
skill in drawing false conclusions from those it could not omit or 

1 In a speech delivered by Sir William Harcourt at Oxford, on January the 
17th, 1879, he commented severely on the attitude taken up by the Bishops regard- 
ing the war : — 

" The Viceroy " (he said) " declared at the outset that we had no quarrel 
with the people of Afghanistan, but only with Shore Ali. Shore Alt is gone, and 
we are now waging hostilities against a people with whom we had no quarrel . . . 
whose homes we have invaded and whose territory we have annexed ; and when 
they resist — not, perhaps, an unnatural thing— we find it necessary to cut their 
throats and exterminate their villages. To my conscience, this sort of thing, 
though it may be very scientific, is not altogether comfortable or pleasant ; but 
I suppose I am wrong, for I find the Bishops approve and vote for it (laughter). 
One of them, I think, has said it is the best way of propagating the Gospel 
(laughter). I don't mean all the Bishops, for I am glad to think there was one 
Bishop, who, at this Christmas time, voted for "peace on earth and goodwill 
to men " ,- and I am proud to remember that prelate was the Bishop of Oxford " 
(cheers). (The Times report.) 

Unfortunately, the Bishop of Manchester was too ill to record his vote against 
the war. 


distort, which distinguished those docimients. It emphasized the 
Treaty of 1855, where all the obligations were imposed on the Amir, 
and ignored the Treaty of 1857 by which the British Government 
bound itself to send none but a Native Envoy to Kabul, although the 
subsequent attempt to escape from that pledge, lay at the root of the 
misunderstanding that had now culminated in war. It repeated the 
assertion that the Simla Conference owed its origin to Shere All's 
anxiety to obtain from Lord Northbrook a distinct promise of assistance 
against Russia, though Nur Mahomed had had no difficulty in showing 
at Peshawar that it was Lord Northbrook, not the Amir, who had 
desired to draw closer to Afghanistan, and taken steps to bring the 
two Governments into direct communication. It dwelt on Lord 
Lytton's eagerness to assure Shere Ali of the British Government's 
friendly feehng towards him, and omitted all mention of the threats 
in which that eagerness manifested itself. It re-asserted the accusation 
of ambiguous conduct on the part of the Amir prior to the Peshawar 
Conference, and branded his subsequent attitude as openly inimical, 
and it had not a word to say about the numerous unfriendly acts 
which had robbed him of his faith in the value of the British alliance. 
It reproached him with having received the Russian Mission with 
hospitality, and made no mention of the displeasure with which he 
had viewed its approach, or of his attempts to delay its arrival in his 
capital. In a word, from the first paragraph to the last, it repre- 
sented the British Government as a benefactor, seeking to confer 
favours on a valued ally, and Shere Ali as a treacherous ingrate, 
plotting to rid himself of his obligations towards a generous friend, 
though its author had before him official proof that, for years, British 
benefits had only taken the form of pious wishes for his prosperity. 
It may seem strange that Lord Cranbrook should have ventured 
to pubhsh such a travesty of British relations with the ruler of Afghan- 
istan, when the means of testing its value would soon be within the 
reach of all who cared to compare it with the documents which it 


distorted. It must be remembered, however, that Lord Cranbrook 
could reckon on an enormous disproportion in his favour between 
the readers of a Parliamentary Blue Book, and the readers of a docu- 
ment published in the public Press ; and that the latter had on its 
side, the immense advantage of being the first in the field. Eight days 
later, when the first batch of Afghan papers was issued, the tale of 
Shere iUi's duplicity and ingratitude had already sunk deep into the 
public mind; and he himself had to pass away and the objects for 
which his ruin had been compassed, to fade out of men's recollection, 
before it could give place to a truer picture of his character and 

The Afghan papers appeared on the 29th of November, and on the 
5th of December, Parliament met to receive from Ministers an announce- 
ment of the outbreak of hostilities between Great Britain and Afghanis- 
tan, and to record its judgment on the policy which had brought about 
so unexpected a state of things. On the opening day of the Session, 
Lord Grey moved an amendment to the Address, censuring the Govern- 
ment for entering upon hostilities, without affording Parliament the 
opportunity of expressing an opinion on their expediency. On the 
9th, Lord Halifax met Lord Cranbrook's resolution asking the Peers 
to consent to the debiting of the Indian revenues with the expense 
of the Expedition against Afghanistan, by an amendment which 
declared that the House of Lords, whilst ready to consent to provide 
means to carry on the war to an honourable conclusion, regretted that 
the conduct of the Government had involved the country in an 
unnecessary conflict. Lord Grey's amendment was negatived without 
a division ; that of Lord Halifax, after a two days' debate, in whicli 
every man of special experience in Indian affairs on both sides had 
taken part — by a majority of one hundred and thirty-six — the figures 
being two hundred and one, against sixty-five. The first sitting of 
the House of Commons was marked by a sharp discussion, in the course 
of which the Government was vigorously attacked by Mr. Fawcett, 


Lord Hartington, Mr. Gladstone/ and Sir C. Dilke, and equally 
vigorously defended by Mr. Stanhope, the Under Secretary for India ; 
but no direct vote of censure was proposed till four days later, when, 
on the Report stage of the Address, Mr. Whitbread moved a Resolution 
disapproving of the conduct of her Majesty's Government in bringing 
about war with Afghanistan. After a discussion lasting four days, 
this Resolution was defeated by three hundred and twenty- eight 
votes to two hundred and twenty-seven, and an amendment, moved 
by Mr. Fawcett to Mr. Stanhope's proposal to saddle the revenues of 
India with the cost of the war, shared the same fate ; though Govern- 
ment met its supporters so far as to promise that, in case the war 
should assume larger dimensions and last longer than was then 
anticipated, the question of transferring some portion of its expense 
to the British Exchequer, should be favourably considered. The 
original Resolution was then agreed to, and the Government being 
now free to prosecute the war to any end, and at any cost which the 
course of events might make desirable or necessary. Parliament 

The first impression made on the mind of the student of history 
who goes back to these debates, is one of astonishment at the large 
part plaj'ed in the discussions of both Houses by questions of fact. 
The conflicting principles underlying the old and the new Afghan 
policies, were indeed more or less clearly in the mind of every speaker, 
and some, notably Lord Lawrence and Lord Beaconsfield, defined 
and defended them with precision and force ; but more time and more 

1 Mr. Gladstone strongly condemned the Government's policy in Afghanistan 
and its treatment of her ruler, and the House on both sides cheered long and 
warmly the noble peroration which concluded his speech : — " Those members 
of this House " — he said in deep and solemn tones — " those members of this 
House who oppose your course will believe that they have performed a solemn 
duty incmnbent on men who believe that truth and justice are tlie only sure 
foundations of international relations, and that there is no possession so precious, 
either for peoples or men, as a just and honourable name." 


passion were spent on wrangling over whether the Government had, 
or had not, deceived Parhament with regard to Afghan affairs ; whether 
attempts had, or had not, been made to coerce Shere Ali into receiving 
British Officers ; whether that Prince had been ill-disposed towards 
the British alliance since the days of the Duke of Argyll and Lord 
Mayo, or only since those of Lord Sahsbury and Lord Lytton ; 
whether he had welcomed a Russian Mission, or received it under the 
stress of circumstances beyond his control. It would seem as if, when 
both parties had access to the same sources of information, there 
ought to have been agreement as to the facts to be found in them ; 
but the speeches show that the speakers on the Opposition side based 
their attack on the enclosures contained in the Despatches, and the 
speakers on the Government side, on the Despatches themselves ; 
between enclosures and Despatches, however, as has been previously 
pointed out, there exists a divergence amounting, at times, to contra- 
diction. It was natural that Ministerialists should have stuck to the 
brief so carefully prepared for them by Lord Lytton and two successive 
Secretaries of State for India, and no one wiU feel surprise that Lord 
Salisbury and Lord Cranbrook should, in a general way, have repeated 
their former statements and arguments with unshaken faith in their 
truth and validity. Yet, there was one point on which change might 
have been looked for : in the Despatch which led to the resignation 
of Lord Northbrook, Lord Salisbury had declined to believe that the 
Amir's disinchnation to allow the establishment of a British Agency 
in his capital, was more than a passing sentiment, and in his Letter of 
Instructions to Lord Lytton he had spoken of the " apparent reluc- 
tance " of Shere Ali to receive British Officers ; now, with the record 
of Nur Mahomed's long struggle against the " essential preliminary " 
in his hands ; after a rupture with Afghanistan which had for its 
immediate cause and excuse the attempt to send a British Mission to 
Kabul — he was still found asserting that it was "pure imagination" 
to say that the Amir had any real aversion to a British Resident ; a 


truly amazing example of the power of opinion to blind men to the 
most patent truth — truth that, in this instance, went deeper than the 
mere personal feeling of a single ruler since, in opposing the intrusion 
of British Agents into his country, Shere Ali was the embodiment of 
that jealous dread of the foreigner which had possessed his people long 
before he came to the throne, and was to lose none of its force under 
his successors. 

But if the first thing to strike the reader of these debates, is the want 
of agreement as to the facts upon which they turn, what remains 
with him when he has finished studying them, is a strong impression 
of the lack of insight and foresight displayed by all the speakers on 
the Ministerial side. Not a man among them seems to have been able 
to catch so much as a glimpse of the Afghan view of the policy which 
had brought about the war ; and inability to understand the 
feelings and aims of one party to the strife, rendered them incapable 
of looking beyond the temporary successes of the moment achieved 
over the Armies of the Amir, to the inevitable failure in store for 
Great Britain, when her forces should find themselves confronted by 
a nation in arms. And if they were blind to the issue of their policy, 
they were ludicrously wrong in their assumption of its importance. 
Prophecies of danger to India and the Empire which the presence of 
a British Agent at Herat alone could dissipate ; solemn assurances 
that it was no longer possible to maintain satisfactory relations with 
Afghanistan unless a British Resident were permanently established 
in Kabul — read in the light of subsequent events, would provoke a 
smile, did not the recollection of the price paid for opening men's eyes 
to their futility, check any inclination to mirth. Twenty-five years 
have passed since, trusting to those prophecies and assurances, the 
two Houses of Parliament gave to Lord Beaconsfield and his colleagues 
the moral support which they claimed for their Afglian policy, and the 
material means to enable them to enforce it ; and yet though, from 
that day to this, there has never been a British Agent in Herat, and, 


only for the shortest interval, a British Resident in Kabul — India's 
security has not been imperilled, and, in the eyes of her inhabitants, 
the British Empire has suffered no loss of prestige. 

There were fair grounds for disagreement between speakers on 
the Ministerialist and speakers on the Opposition side, as to whether 
Ministers had, or had not, exceeded their powers in going to war 
without having first obtained the sanction of Parhament, for the 
" Act of 1858," transferring the Government of India from the 
Company to the Crown, on which both relied, contradicts itself 
on the point 1 ; but there could be no question as to the 
illegality of the treatment which the Indian Council had suffered 
at the hands of Lord Cranbrook. That Council, created by the 
above named Act, consists of fifteen men whose long and intimate 
acquaintance with India fits them, above all others, to assist in- 
experienced Secretaries of State in the task of ruling the greatest 
dependency for which any modern State has ever been responsible. 
Its functions, except in the province of finance, are purely advisory, 
and even in that province, though by Article 41 " no grant or appro- 
priation of any part of the revenues of India . . , can be made without 
the concurrence of a majority of votes at a meeting of the Council," 
its control over its Chief is really illusory, since, by simply transferring 

1 Article 65 of that Act by which the Government of India was transferred 
from the Company to the Crown directs that " except for preventing or repelling 
actual invasion of Her Majesty's Indian possessions, or under other sudden and 
urgent necessity, the revenues of India shall not, without the consent of both 
Houses of Parliament, be applicable to defray the expenses of any military 
operation carried on beyond the external frontiers of such possessions by Her 
Majesty's Forces charged upon such revenues" ; whilst Article 54 declares that 
" when any order is sent to India directing the actual commencement of hostili- 
ties by Her Majesty's Forces in India, the fact of such order having been sent 
shall be communicated to both Houses of Parliament within three months of 
the sending of such order if Parliament is sitting, unless such order shall have 
been in the meantime revoked or suspended ; and if Parliament be not sitting 
at the end of such tliree months, then within one month of the next meeting of 


business to the Secret Department of his office, the Secretary of State 
for India can escape from it until the time for enforcing it has gone by. 
It was by the exercise of this power of transference, that Lord SaHsbury 
and Lord Cranbrook had been able, without overstepping the letter 
of the Act of 1858, to keep their Council for three years in ignorance 
of the disquieting change which was passing over the relations of the 
Indian Government to that of Afghanistan ; but when, early in 
October, 1878, Lord Lytton added ninety-six men to every Native 
Cavalry, and two hundred men to every Native Infantry regiment 
north of the Narbudda, thereby increasing the mihtary expenditure 
of India by two hundred and seventy thousand pounds,^ and Lord 
Cranbrook kept to himself the telegram asking for his sanction to the 
measure — the Secretary of State was guilty of an illegal act, for the 
exceptional case had arisen in which he could only take a decision 
in conjunction with his Council, and in accordance with the views of 
a majority of its members. The result of the voting, when, on the 4:th 
of December, the Council was at last consulted, affords good ground 
for believing that, but for this illegality, there might have been no 
war ; for its consent to the augmentation of the Indian Army was 
given by a majority of one vote only ; and the Minutes in which two 
of the members who voted for it — Sir Erskine Perry and Sir William 
Muir — recorded their reasons for doing so, show conclusively that 
had hostilities been in prospect, instead of in progress, their votes 
would have been given against it. ^ Neither of them called 

' This method of augmenting the Native Army had the merit of simph'city, but 
it had two serious defects : it increased the disproportion between the Native 
troops and the British officers, a disproportion aheady dangerously large, and 
it discontented the rank and file of every affected regiment by diminishing 
each man's chances of promotion. 

^ Sir Barrow H. Ellis and Sir R. Montgomery, though approving of the 
Goverrunent's Afghan policy, protested against placing on India any part of 
the extraordinary charges connected with a war which they believed to be 
duo entirely to European complications. 


attention to Lord Cranbrook's unconstitutional action ; but 
Sir Erskine Perry gave strong expression to the feelings of 
mortification with which all the members of the Council regarded 
the position assigned to them by law, and to his own personal 
desire that Parliament should be made clearly to understand that 
the Secretary of State had been under no obligation to consult them 
in regard to his i\.fghan policy. The desire was a very natural one, 
for, in the absence of an oJSicial proclamation of their impotence, it 
was impossible for the general public to believe that the men who knew 
most about India, were debarred from expressing any opinion on 
matters in which that country's gravest interests were involved ; but, 
however natural, it does not seem to have been gratified, and the 
anomaly^ which hurt the dignity and shocked the common sense of 
the Indian Council in 1878, remains untouched up to the present 

The Last Days of Shere Ali 


Whilst the friends of peace in England were pleading Shere Ali's 
cause before the tribunal of public opinion in their own country, that 
prince sat silent in the capital of his threatened kingdom. The ulti- 
matum must have been in his hands by the 4th or 5tli of November, but 
he made no attempt to answer it. Another decision had to be come 
to before he could determine the nature of the reply to be given to its 
demands. He himself was a broken man ; broken in health, broken 
in heart, by the death of Abdullah Jan ; it behoved him to choose a 
successor quickly if the sceptre of Afghanistan was not to pass away 
from his family, and on whom could his choice fall save on the son who 
had sirmed against him, and against whom he himself had sinned ? It 
was, perhaps, bitterer to him to yield as a father than to yield as a 
Prince ^ ; and the thought that, by bowing to British pressure, he 
might escape the necessity of accepting Yakub Khan as his heir, must 
often have crossed his mind, since, to oppose a British invasion, he 
must have behind him a united people and a united Royal House ; but 
the pecuniary assistance which a British Envoy would be empowered 
to grant to a submissive Amir, might enable him to dispense with unity 

1 It is curious that the one proof of British ill-will named in the answer to the 
ultimatum, should have been Lord Northbiook's intervention in favour of " my 
undutiful son, that ill-starred wretch Yakub Khan," epithets which show that the 
Amir's feelings towards the rebellious prince had undergone no change. — H.B.H. 



in either.i In the end, national feeling triumphed over personal pre- 
judice ; Yakub Khan was not, indeed, immediately set free, but his 
release was involved in the tone and tenour of the letterwhich, on the 
19th of November, after the period of grace accorded to him had virtually 
expired,^ he at last brought himself to write to Lord Lytton ; for its 
key-note was resentment for wrong done to him and his country, not 
contrition for the offences with which he himself was charged. In it 
he offered no apology for the rebuff administered to Sir Neville Cham- 
berlain and his companions ; on the contrary, he defended the refusal 
to allow them to enter the Khyber, on the ground of the fear felt by 
the officials of his Government that the coming of the British Mission 
would affect injuriously the independence of Afghanistan, and her 
friendship with Great Britain ; he declared that he cherished no feelings 
of hostility and opposition towards the British Government, that he 
sincerely desired to be on good terms with it, but its officials must 
refrain from inflicting injury upon well disposed neighbours. Let 
them do their part towards maintaining good relations between the 
two Governments, and then, if they should desire to send a purely 
friendly and temporary Mission to Kabul, with a small escort, not 
exceeding twenty or thirty men, similar to that which attended the 
Russian Mission, he would undertake not to oppose its progress.^ 

There was nothing of a conciliatory nature in this letter, yet it seems 
to have undergone some softening modifications. " Make peace with 
the English if they offer it," Kaufmann had written on the 4th of 
November ; and on the 20th, Sliere Ali replied that the advice had 

* Yakub Khan's mother was a Mohmand Princess, and Shore Ali had alienated 
the Ghilzais by imprisoning his son in violation of a promise given to certain of 
their chiefs.— H.B.H. 

2 The Amir's letter could, in no case, have reached the nearest British author 
ities in time to hinder the invasion of his dominions ; as it happened, however, it 
was not delivered at Sir S. Browne's headquarters till the 30th of November, the 
messenger to whom originally it had been entrusted, having returned with it to 
Kabul on learning, at Basawal, that Ali Masjid was already in British hands. 

^ See Appendix I. 



reached him whilst he was engaged in answering a letter " from the 
Officers of the British Government, containing very severe, harsh and 
hostile expressions," and that though he knew " from the conduct and 
manners " of that Government that it was vain to attempt to disarm 
its enmity, he had " made overtures for peace according to the advice 
given him by command of the Emperor ; that was to say," he had 
" sent a friendly reply to their letter, containing civil and polite expres- 
sions." If the " civil and polite expressions " contained in that reply, 
were inserted in it in deference to Russian counsels, then, in its original 
form, it must have been a declaration of war, since, after their inser- 
tion, it remained an acceptance of the hostilities with which the ulti- 
matum had threatened him. 

Shere Ali may have flattered himself that his newly created army 
would prove a match for British troops, but the fate of Ali Masjid must 
quickly have undeceived him ; and, though the news of Roberts's 
discomfiture, on the 28th of November, revived his hopes, the final 
issue of the fighting on the Peiwar Kotal extinguished them for ever.^ 
For the moment, he met the crisis with energy and decision. He 
ordered his people of all ranks to send away their wives and children 
and to prepare to meet the invaders ; he reminded the Russian Govern- 
ment of the dishonour it would incur should ruin overtake Afghan- 
istan; and he requested Kaufmann to assist him by despatching all 
his available troops to Afghan Turkestan. Yet, on the 10th of De- 
cember, only two days after the letter to Kaufmann had been written, 
Shere Ali held a durbar in which he announced his intention of travel- 
ling to St. Petersburg, there to lay his case against the EngUsh before 
a Congress to be summoned by the Czar. 

* The spirited letters of thanks and encouragement addressed to the Afghan 
officers and troops in the Kuram after the news of the repulse of Roberts's first 
attack on the Peiwar Kotal, were written, not by Shere Ali, but by his wife, the 
bereaved mother of Abdullah Jan. These letters were found in the Afghan camp 
on tlie Peiwar Kotal, and are now in tlie possession of Major-General Barry-Drew, 


Such a radical change of plans, taking place apparently in the short 
space of two days, may seem vmaccountably sudden ; it is probable, how- 
ever, that it had been long in the background of the Amir's thoughts. 
The breach in his diplomatic relations with India had not shut him 
out from all knowledge of what was passing in that country, and in the 
world beyond. Both from British and Russian sources, he had heard 
of the Berlin Congress, and, in Stolietoff and Rosgonoff he had at his 
elbow men who would make the most of the part played at it by 
Russia, and teach him to see in its decisions a proof of her moral 
victory over Great Britain. Out of such lessons, there must have 
dawned upon him the thought of appealing, under Russian protection, 
to a similar assemblage of Powers ; and the confusion into which hia 
kingdom seemed falling under the shock of a threefold invasion, the 
loosening of the ties of discipline among his troops,^ the knowledge 
that, if he delayed too long, the passes of the Hindu Kush would be 
closed against him, the desire not to part from Rosgonoff, who had 
received imperative orders to return at once to Tashkent,^ above all, the 
repugnance with which he faced the prospect of remaining in Kabul 
to share his authority with Yakub Khan— turned thought into resolve. 

When once the Amir's journey had been sanctioned by his principal 
chiefs and officials, the release of Yakub Khan could no longer be 
delayed. He was sent for to the durbar which had just taken so 
momentous a decision, and, having solemnly pledged himself to obey 
all instructions that he might receive from his father, was formally 
invested with the civil and mihtary powers pertaining to Afghan 
sovereignty. The change which a single hour made in his position 
was enormous, but it must not be imagined that he exchanged a 
dungeon for a throne. His captivity had never been rigorous,^ except, 

* Afghanistan, No. 7 (1879), p. 7. 

2 The Amii- had refused to allow Rosgonoff to depart, and the latter may have 
encouraged the former's plan of proceeding in person to St. Petersburg, with a 
view to securing his own return to Russia. 

^ Letter of Times special correspondent, January 3rd. 1879. 


in the sense, that he was not allowed to go beyond his own garden, and 
that opportunities of intriguing with his former adherents were denied 
him. His prison was his owti house, and news from the outer world 
must sometimes have penetrated within its walls. The din of war 
can certainly not have been excluded from it ; and the captive prince 
may have known enough of the troubles in which the kingdom was 
involved, to guess that he himself might be called upon to assist in 
facing them. 

The meeting between father and son must have been painful and 
embarrassing to both, and Shere Ah's departure may have been has- 
tened by his desire to escape from the necessity of pubhcly honouring 
his now acknowledged heir. All the preparations for the great journey 
that lay before him, were completed in three days' time, and, on the 
13th of December, he left Kabul, his last act of sovereignty being to 
write a letter to the officers of the British Government informing them 
of the step he was taking, and challenging them to establish their case 
and explain their desires before a Congress to be held at St. Petersburg.^ 
He was accompanied by his family, by the Mustaufi and other great 
Officers of State, and by Colonel Rosgonoff and the remaining members 
of the Russian Mission, and he took with him his treasure, amounting, 
according to rumour, to seventy lakhs of rupees.^ On the 22nd of 
December, from some vmnamed halting-place, he wrote to General 
Kaufmann announcing his approach and issued the following 
Firman : — 

" Let the high in rank, etc., Sirdar Muhammad Omer Khan, the 
Governor of Herat, Tolmshir Sahib and Hasan Ali Khan, the Sipah 
Sala-i-Aazim, be honoured by this Royal Firman and know — 

" That, having previously announced the result of the fights of our 
victorious troops to-day, also that by the Grace of God a series of 
victories have been won by the lion-devouring warriors, we have 

^ Afghanistan, No. 7 (1879), p. 9. 
2 jvioro likely seven. 


deemed it necessary to announce the details of the same to you, so 
that you may be made fully aware of the facts. 

" The state of affairs and of hostilities on the Khyber frontier line 
are as follows : — At the outset there were only five regiments stationed 
at Ali Masjid as a permanent garrison when the British troops ad- 
vanced to attack them. The said five regiments gave battle to fourteen 
of the infidel white regiments, and for about eight hours the roaring 
of the cannon and musketry, together with the clashing of the swords, 
were incessant ; till, in accordance with the words of the holy verse, 
' There is no victory except that which comes from God,' the goodness 
and strength of the Almighty aided the lion-catching warriors, and 
they totally defeated the English army, when a considerable number 
being kiUed and wounded on both sides, a stop was put to further 
fighting and each side retired to his own camp. 

"Six days after, two other engagements took place at Peiwar, where 
the victorious troops, again in their zeal to push back the infidel army, 
brought on a day like that of the Day of Judgment, and rushing on like 
a torrent compelled the infidels to fall back. 

" Since then to the present moment the English troops have not 
dared to show fight, nor to make any advance. In fact, on account 
of the severity of the winter and especially by the action of Ooloosat 
people and the Afridi tribes, who are anxious for the infliction of loss 
on their (the English) lives and property, it is quite certain that they 
will not make any forward advance. 

"As perfect harmony exists in all the affairs of this mighty Govern- 
ment, most of the Nobles and Chiefs of this country have made certain 
representations to us in person with the view of putting a stop to this 
mischief wliich may affect the peace of this Government. The opinion 
of our ministers and military officers being also in conformity with our 
royal views, we have decided that to put a stop to the present trouble 
there is no alternative but to have recourse to friendly negotiations as 
opposed to hostility and warfare ; for instance, although our enemy 


should give up his hostile attitude and the idea of interference in 
Afghanistan, yet having taken up arms against us he ought to be bound 
down by diplomatic action. 

"It now being winter and his advance difificult, and, as in the spring 
this evil will be sure to break out afresh, there is no better opportunity 
than the present, when the enemy has not the power of moving in 
consequence of the severity of the winter, that our royal self should 
proceed to the capital of Russia, and open an official correspondence 
with the British Government. We have accordingly, in conformity 
with the approval of our ministers and a number of our well-wishers, 
decided on proceeding to St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian 
Emperor, and have appointed our elder and beloved son, Sardar 
Muhammad Yakub Khan, to act in our absence, leaving the whole of 
our Sardars . . . under his immediate orders. We also, under an 
auspicious fortune, and putting our trust in Almighty God, left Kabul, 
on the 13th December, accompanied by our illustrious brother {sic) 
Sardar Sher Ali Khan, Shah Muhammad Khan, our Minister for For- 
eign Affairs, Mirza Habibullah, the Mustaufi-ul-Momalek, Kazi Abdul 
Kadar Khan, a few servants, and one ' Namadek Kadek Uptur,' the 
Russian envoys who also took part in the council we held respecting 
this journey, together with the High Princes, Sardar Muhammad 
Ibrahim Khan and Sardar Muhammad Taki Khan. 

" We received letters from the Governor-General, General Stolietoff, 
at the station named Sir Cheshmeh ; Stolietoff, who was with the 
Emperor at Livadia, having written to us as follows : — 

" The Emperor considers you as a brother, and you also, who are on 
the other side of the water,i must display the same sense of friendship 
and brotherhood. The English Government is anxious to come to 
terms with you through the intervention of the Sultan, and wishes you 
to take his advice and counsel ; but the Emperor's desire is that you 
should not admit the English into your country, and, like last year, 

^ i.e. Oxus. 


you are to treat them with deceit and deception until the present cold 
season passes away, then the Almighty's will will be made manifest to 
you, that is to say, the (Russian) Government having repeated the 
Bismillah, the Bismillah will come to your assistance. In short, you 
are to rest assured that affairs will end well. If God permits, we will 
convene a Government meeting at St. Petersburg, that is to say, a 
congress which means an assembly of powers. We will then open an 
official discussion with the English Government, and either by force 
of words and diplomatic action we will entirely cut off all English 
communication and interference with Afghanistan for ever, or else 
events wall end in a mighty and important war. By the help of God, 
by spring not a symptom or vestige of trouble and dissatisfaction will 
remain in Afghanistan. 

" It therefore behoves our well-wishing servants to conduct the affairs 
entrusted to them in a praiseworthy and resolute manner better than 
before, and having placed their hopes in God, rest confident that the 
welfare and affairs of this glorious Government will continue on a firm 
footing as before, and the mischief and disaffection which seem to 
have arisen in the country will disappear. 

" Let it be known to the high in rank, Tolmshir Bahadur and HafizuUa 
Khan, Secretary to the Sipah Salar-i-Aazim, that, thanks to God, the 
trouble we have been taking for a series of years in instructing and 
improving the officers of our victorious regiments has not been lost, 
and in fighting the English troops they have displayed the same bravery 
as the force of the civilized nations. Not one of the victorious troops 
went to Heaven until he had himself slain three of the enemy. In 
short, they fought in such a way, and made such a stand, that both 
high and low praised them. We are fully confident that our victorious 
troops wherever they may fight will defeat the enemy. 

" The Herat Army is also noted for its bravery and discipline, a result 
of your devoted services. You will convey otir royal satisfaction to 
all the troops and inhabitants of Herat, high and low, and tell them 


that our hope is that God and His Prophet may be as satisfied with 
them as we are." ^ 

The interest of this Proclamation lies not so much in its distortion 
of tlie facts of the war — for the device of keeping up the spirits of an 
army, or a nation, by concealing defeat or exaggerating successes, is not 
confined to Eastern potentates — but in the use made in it of Stolietofif's 
letter of the 8th of October to Wazir Shah Muhammad Khan, the 
vague promises in which it translated into the proposal of a Congress, 
and an invitation to the Amir to visit St. Petersburg.^ It may be 
that the Amir read into the letter what he desired to find there ; it 
may be that he deliberately falsified its tenour ; in either case the para- 
phrase of it given in the Firman, shows how keenly he felt the need of 
strengthening the defence of his conduct in abandoning his country, 
by adducing evidence to prove that he had reason to believe that he 
could best serve his people by leaving them. 

The 1st of January, witnessed Shere All's arrival at Mazar-i-Sharef, 
the chief town of his province of Turkestan. Only three hundred and 
eighty-one miles of the five thousand seven hundred which separate 
Kabul from St, Petersburg, lay behind him, and already his strength 
was failing fast. A pause for rest and medical treatment had become 
imperative, and during the first weeks of that pause he received, in 
rapid succession, three letters from Kaufmann, which destroyed the 

1 Afghanistan, No. 7, pp. 8, 9. 

2 See vol. i. pp. 252, 253. The second half of Stolietoff's letter, which is 
the part epitomized in the Firman, runs thus : — " Now, my kind friend, I inform 
j'ou that the enemy of your famous religion wants to make peace with you througli 
the Kaiser (Sultan) of Turkey. Therefore you should look to yovu" brothers who 
live on the other side the river. If God stirs them up and gives the sword of fight 
into their hands, then go on in the name of God {Bismullah) ; otherwise you 
should be as a serpent ; make peace openly and in secret prepare for war ; and 
when God reveals His order to you, declare yourself. It will be well when the 
envoy of your enemy wants to enter the country, if you send an able emissary, 
possessing the tongue of a serpent and full of deceit, to the enemy's country, so 
that he may, with sweet words, perplex the enemy's mind and induce him to 
give up the intention of fighting with you." 


hopes that had so far supported him.i The first of the three, dated 
the 2nd of January, 1879, written after Kaufmann had heard that the 
Amir had come out of Kabul, but whilst he was still in the dark as to 
the motive which had prompted that step, did, indeed, contain the 
good news that the British Ministers had promised the Russian Am- 
bassador in London not to injure the independence of Afghanistan ; 
but it also conveyed the information that the Emperor had decided 
against the possibility of assisting him with troops. The second, 
dated the 7th of January, urgently entreated him not to leave 
his kingdom, but to preserve its independence by coming to terms 
with the English, either in person or through Yakub Khan, and 
ended with the warning that his arrival in Russian territory would 
make things worse. The third, written on the 11th of January, curtly 
informed him that the writer had been directed by the Emperor to 
invite him to Tashkent, but that he had received no instructions with 
regard to his journey to St. Petersburg. 

Shere Ali must have felt that the advice to preserve the independence 
of his kingdom by making terms with the English, was a mere mockery 
of his troubles. If he had not been convinced that the British Govern- 
ment's terms, whatever form they might assume, would be such as he 
could not accept, he would not have allowed himself to be goaded into 
war, and the promise given to the Russian Ambassador failed to 
reassure him. Independence was an elastic term that might mean 
much or little, and he could not trust the Russian Government to look 
too closely into the interpretation that the British Government might 
see fit to give to it. Kaufmann's second letter made it too clear that 
the Amir would be an unwelcome guest, for the permission to visit 
Tashkent, contained in the third, to afford him any gratification. Yet 
his disappointment found no expression in the one letter — his last — 
which served as an answer to the three communications.^ In his 

^ Central Asia. No. 1 (1881 ), pp. 24, 25. 
2 Ibid. p. 25. 


correspondence with Foreign Governments he had always maintained 
a dignified reserve, more or less tinged with irony, and he preserved 
that attitude to the last. There was irony in his brief acknowledg- 
ment of " the royal favours of the Emperor," and of Kaufmann's 
" sweet expressions," and in his assurance of his own " desire for a 
joyous interview with the latter" ; and no one can deny dignity to the 
brief reference to his own illness, " sent by the decree of God," to 
the request to Kaufmann to consider as true whatever the Ministers 
whom he was despatching to wait upon him, might state regarding the 
affairs of his kingdom, or to his praise of the " noble qualities and good 
manners " of General Rosgonoff and his companions. Sick, helpless, 
and deserted, he was yet a prince whose word was to be accepted, and 
whose praise honoured him on whom it was bestowed. 

Shere Ali might write that his intention to continue his journey was 
unchanged, but he knew that his travels, hardly begun, had already 
ended. There was nothing to be gained by going on, and it was idle to 
think of going back. A sovereign who, in the crisis of his country's 
fate, had misjudged his duty, could never again sit on the throne of 
Afghanistan. The news that continued to reach him from Kabul, must 
have added to his self-reproach. Everywhere the English advance 
bad been checked by natural difficulties. One part of Stewart's army, 
which had begun to push forward towards Herat, had come to a stand- 
still on the Helmand ; another portion had occupied Khelat-i-Ghilzai, 
only to fall back upon Kandahar. Browne's forces were still station- 
ary at Jellalabad, unable to move for lack of carriage. Roberts's 
troops, compelled to withdraw from Khost and weather-bound on the 
Peiwar Kotal, were daily being thinned by disease ; there was no sign 
of that rapid advance on Kabul, of that general occupation of Afghan- 
istan, the expectation of which had seemed to justify him in placing 
the Hindu Kush between himself and his enemies. Wliat might not 
have been achieved against them if he had remained at Kabul, and, 
sinking his differences with his son, who had even less love of British 


domination than himself, had worked with him for tlieir common 
cause ? 

It is easy to believe that thoughts such as these must have crowded 
upon the Amir's failing mind and reconciled him to death ; and there is 
nothing improbable in the story told by one of his companions at Mazir-i- 
Sliarif to an officer of the British Survey Department/ of how he made 
no effort to recover, but refused food, medicine and consolation, and 
died lamenting his folly in having left his friends to seek aid from his 
enemies. He passed away on the 21st of February, 1879, in his fifty- 
sixth year, after a life of exceptional activity, marked by varied vicissi- 
tudes of fortune. In his childhood, he had witnessed the first British 
invasion of Afghanistan, and had shared his father's Indian exile. In 
his early manhood, he had contributed to the successes which crowned 
Dost Mahomed's steady determination to reconstitute and consoHdate 
his former kingdom, and on the death of his brother, Gholam Hyder 
Khan, he was rewarded for his ability and valour by being appointed 
heir to the throne ; a costly reward, which involved him in years of 
sanguinary struggle with his two elder half-brothers, who had been 
passed over in his favour. Driven from his capital and, again and 
again, defeated in his attempts to return thither, he showed himself 
resourceful in raising fresh armies, and brave and skilful in leading 
them ; and though, in his nephew, Abdur Rahman, he encountered a 
man as bold and capable as himself, that prince, handicapped by the 
tyranny of his uncle Afzul and the vices of his father, Azim Khan, 
had to fly the field when popular feeling in Kabul veered round to the 
side of the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan. 

The subsequent events of Shere Ali's life, so far as they 
brought him into contact with the British and Russian Govern- 
ments, have been told in the foregoing pages. Of his internal 
government comparatively little is known, but that it did not 
entirely disappoint the hopes with which he had inspired Lord 

1 Mr. G. B. Scott. 


Mayo, is proved by the testimony borne to its fruits by Lord 
Northbrook, in 1876. He may not always have shown himself per- 
fectly just and merciful ; but, at least, he consohdated his kingdom, 
commanded the loyalty and devotion of the officers who helped in its 
administration, and taught the most lawless of his subjects to appre- 
ciate the advantages of a firm rule.i If his firmness effected fewer 
improvements in the condition of his people than Abdur Rahman 
afterwards carried through, it must be remembered that he had a much 
shorter reign, and, that by entering into an alhance with a civilized 
State, he deprived himself of the liberty to clear the ground for reforms 
by cutting off the heads of all who might be suspected of wishing to 
oppose them. 

A man of strong affections and violent passions, Shere All's private 
life was darkened by sorrows, many of which he brought upon himself. 
When the battle of Kajbaz seemed to be going against him, he over- 
whelmed his idolized son, Prince Mahomed Ali, with such bitter re- 
proaches that the high-spirited youth rushed madly into the thickest 
of the fight, and singling out his uncle, Mahomed Amir, engaged him in 
single combat, and perished by his sword ; the victor in this unnatural 
combat being at once slain by the victim's enraged followers. The 
double tragedy so affected its unhappy author's mind that for many 
months he was practically insane, fits of deepest gloom alternating 
with outbursts of frenzied grief. His son, Yakub Khan, who had been 
his right hand during the last years of his struggle for the throne, 
turned against him as soon as he had regained it ; and when he stooped 
to treachery to punish the traitor, he became his own worst enemy, 
since, by shocking Lord Northbrook's moral sense, he drew upon him- 
self remonstrances, coupled with threats, that shook his confidence in 
the British Government, and led him to adopt towards it an aloofness 
of attitude in which a later Viceroy was to find the best defence of the 

' Alghayvislan,'ii<i. 1 (1878), pp. 147-149. 


policy that brought about the war. He had nothing to reproach 
himself with in the death of the darling of his later days, Abdullah 
Jan, but his sorrow for the boy's death was intensified by the know- 
ledge that its untoward political consequences were of his owti creating. 
The place in history to be finally awarded to Shere Ali will be deter- 
mined, however, not by the achievements or failures of his internal 
administration, not by the loves or hatreds of his private life, but 
solely by his foreign policy, and more especially by his refusal 
to yield one jot of his own dignity and his country's independence 
to the demands of the British ultimatum. That refusal may stamp 
him as a madman, or a fool, in the eyes of those who look merely 
to the sequel of events as they affected him and his dynasty; but 
viewed in the broader light of subsequent history as it affected 
Afghanistan, his unbending attitude bears testimony to his foresight 
and patriotism. The choice offered him, as he understood it, was not 
between war and peace, but between war then, and war at some not 
distant date. He knew that if he apologized for the conduct of his 
officers, who had done their duty in upholding his authority and 
dignity, he would forfeit their respect ; he felt sure that if he consented 
to receive a British Envoy in his capital, he would soon be called upon 
to permit British officers to reside in his frontier towns, and that when 
their presence had inflamed to the highest jDoint his subjects' hatred 
of foreigners, and that passion had found its natural expression in the 
murder of the intruders, he would either have to bear the responsibility 
for their deed, or to become the instrument of British revenge ; and 
whether he elected to side with, or against, his people, the result would 
stiU be the same — for them, war ; for himself, the certain loss of reputa- 
tion, the probable loss of life. And underlying these considera- 
tions, was his profound conviction that the new policy of the British 
Government aimed at destroying the independence and integrity of 
his kingdom, and that he himself was the object of that Government's 
special ill-will, or, at least, of the ill-will of the man through whom 


alone lie was able to approach it ; and thus his personal interests and 
the interests of his people alike led him to the conclusion that it was 
better to have war before suffering humiliation, than after. That he 
did the intentions and aims of the British Government, so far as they 
were represented by Lord Lytton, no injustice, must be admitted by 
all who have read the letter in which the Viceroy, writing to the Secre- 
tary of State for India, in January, 1879, declared that the three main 
points for which the war had been undertaken were (a) the punishment 
of Shere Ali ; (b) the permanent improvement of India's present 
frontier ; (c) the establishment of paramount (British) political influ- 
ence over all the Afghan territories and tribes between our present 
frontier and the Oxus.^ Shere All's mistake lay, not in mistrusting 
one of his neighbours, but in placing too much trust in the other. He 
had undoubtedly a strong moral claim on the Russian Emperor ; but, 
as an experienced statesman, he ought to have known that no prince 
will ever allow his regrets and sympathies to override the interests of 
his country. He should have remembered, too, that armed inter- 
vention on his behalf would have meant, in the end, the same danger 
from the North- West which was then threatening him from the South- 
East, and that the only assistance Russia could safely give, and Afghan- 
istan safely receive — money and arms — was more likely to be accorded 
to him, secretly, in his own land than, openly, on Russian soil. Had 
he been as clear-sighted in judging one side of the situation as he was 
in judging the other; had he remained with his people; had he held 
on to his capital to the last possible moment ; and had he then retired to 
Ghazni, or beyond the Hindu Kush — the national resistance would 
have centred round him, and he, not Abdur Rahman, would have 
reaped the fruits of the difficulties which, a year later, were to gather 
so thickly round the British forces, that how to retire from Afghanistan, 
not how to stay there, became the problem for which the British 
Government had to seek a solution. 

1 Lord Lyllon''8 Indian Adininislralion, p. 312. 


January, 1879 

The new year brought with it no improvement in the situation by 
which the Government of India had been confronted in the old. The 
winter rains had failed in the Punjab, the North- West Provinces and 
Oudh ; the death-rate throughout the three Presidencies was abnor- 
mally high, the poverty of the people widespread and acute. Money, 
judiciously expended, might have done much to lessen misery and 
restore health ; wise remissions of land revenue would have saved 
thousands of peasants from the clutches of the village usurer ; but 
no money could be spared for commonplace, every-day objects of 
utility whilst the war continued to shake credit, depreciate securities 
and swallow up the cash balances in the Civil Treasuries ; and instead 
of a generous lightening of the burdens of the people, old taxes were 
relentlessly collected, and every rupee produced by fresh taxation, 
nominally imposed to form a fund for the protection of the country 
against famine, was quickly diverted to military purposes.^ 

1 " India seems to have fallen on evil daj^s. It has often been observed 
that in the wake of an iniquitous and fooUsh war follow a train of internal calami- 
ties which, though not always to be traced to a blundering foreign policy, 
are still none the less disastrous and aggravate the calamities which 
have been wantonly invited. The tlireatened dearth in the North-West Pro- 
vinces, now officially recognized, the deficiency of crops now feared in the Pun- 
jab, are circumstances sufficient to cause uneasiness, and deserve anxious 
attention on the part of our rulers. . . . But are the local authorities really 
aware of the agricultural and other difficulties at our doors ? Have they 
received any official intimation of the calamities that threaten the eastern and 
south-eastern parts of our own Presidency ? The Kharif (autumn) crop in these 
parts is said not to have yielded more than a two annas proportion, (one-eighth), 
and even this miserably small yield has been damaged by tub, little beast-like 



But the injury inflicted upon the civil population by the war, 
was, for the moment, less embarrassing to the Government than the 
military perplexities to which it was daily giving birth. Though 
the peasant and the trader should suffer from lack of beasts of 
draught and burden, yet agriculture and trade would be carried on 
after a fashion ; but a dearth of transport animals might, at any 
moment, bring a moving army to a standstill, or threaten the exist- 
ence of a stationary force ; and whilst, from each of the lines of com- 
munication came the cry for more mules, more camels, the difficulty 
of responding to it steadily increased. Already, on the 1st of the year, 
when the campaign had lasted barely six weeks and before snow 
had fallen, Colonel J. V. Hunt, Sir S. Browne's Principal Commissariat 
Officer, had complained that his camels were going to ruin in the 
Khyber, and that, unless he could get them back to the plains for a 
fortnight's grazing, he should want a fresh lot for work in the spring, 
and that the carcases of the thousands that would have died, must 
inevitably breed a pestilence. Similar complaints came from the 
Kuram, and the state of things on the Kandahar route was even 
more disheartening. Supplies of every description were rotting 
at Bukkur, on the left bank of the Indus, for want of a bridge,^ and 
at Sukkur, on the right bank, for lack of camels. At Dadar, at 
Jacobabad, at Quetta, there was the same dearth of transport facili- 
ties, and desert and pass were strewn with dead camels and aban- 

insects. ... As to rahi (spring crops) tliree-fourths of the fields lie covered 
with rank weeds and grass. ... In the beginning the rahi crop promised well, 
especially whore ryots (peasants) could afford to prepare the land. But since 
the middle of December, rats, in millions, have poured into the fields and 
destroyed the crops. . . . The people have been suffering during the last two 
years ; their resources are exhausted ; migration has recommenced as the only 
means of escape from starvation and death — for death overtakes many victims 
of privation." (Bombay Review, February 1st, 1879.) 

* The railway had been completed between Kuraclii and Multan, but the 
Indus was not bridged till after the war. 

JANUARY, 1879 161 

doned stores. The advantages to be reaped from General Andrew 
Clarke's scheme of a railway, connecting the Indus with the Bolan, 
had, by this time, become too apparent for Lord Lytton to continue 
to oppose it, and Colonel G. Medley, Consulting Railway Engineer 
to the Government of India, was hurriedly despatched to examine 
the ground and prepare plans and estimates. But the hot weather 
had begun before he could complete his survey and present his 
report, and the work had to be postponed until the following cold 
season. Meantime, the Governor of Bombay, Sir Richard Temple, 
was struggling, in person, with the supply chaos at Sukkur,i and 
Colonel Hogg, Deputy Quarter-Master General of the Bombay Army, 
with the reorganization of the Transport Service. The Commissioner 
of Sind, having provided the military authorities with six thousand 
camels over and above the thirteen thousand orginally demanded 
from him, had desisted from efforts which were ruining his district ;« 
now, under the double pressure brought to bear upon him, he suc- 
ceeded in getting together an additional six hundred, and sent up 
two hundred and fifty carts to clear out some of the stores that had 
accumulated at Jacobabad. But no zeal on the part of the military 
officers, no assistance rendered by civil officials could keep the supply 
of transport equal to the demand, and, given a sufficient duration of 

1 "Sir Richard Temple has had to send all the way to Bombay for carts ; 
he has had camel-drivers engaged in northern Gujerat at extravagant pay, and 
his emissaries are now scouring Rajpiitana in search of more camels." (Bombay 
Review, January 25th, 1879.) 

2 " One hears the Commissioner loudly al)used on all sides for having so sun- 
denly stopped collecting transport animals, but one must boar in mind that 
he looks at the case from a purely civil point of view, and naturally does not wish 
to denude the whole of his district of its beasts of burden, representing, as they 
do in many instances, the sole means of subsistence of the inhabitants. The 
military estimate, framed in solemn conclave at Sukkur, was under 13,000 camels, 
and when the Commissioner had handed over 19,000, ho fancied he had done 
his duty, and allowed a very liberal margin for all sorts of casualties." {Corre 
spondence Times of India.) 



hostilities, the coming of a day when the invading forces must lose 
their mobility could clearly be foreseen. 

The prospect as regarded the continued efficiency of the troops 
was little brighter. Despite, or perhaps in consequence of, the 
mildness of the season, there was much sickness in all the columns, 
more especially among the men employed on the lines of communica- 
tion whose lot was cast in the most unhealthy districts. On all three 
lines of advance, there were regiments so sickly as to be unfit for active 
service ; and though the courage and resolution of officers and men 
enabled some of these to hold out to the end of the campaign, there 
were others, no less brave and zealous, who had to submit to the 
humiHation of being ordered back to India. In Maude's Division, 
this was the fate of Her Majesty's 81st Regiment ; in Browne's, of 
the 14th Sikhs ; in Stewart's, of the 12th Khelat-i-Ghilzai ; i and 
the carriage of all supply convoys, on their return march, had 
to be utilized for the conveyance of invalids, pronounced medically 
unequal to further duty in the field. Recruiting for the Native Army 
had already begun to fall off; the drafts sent from India to make 
good gaps caused by disease in both British and Native corps, were 
not in proportion to the casualties incurred ; and though many of the 
Independent Princes were eager to take part in the war, considera- 
tions of distance and expense had made it impossible for the Indian 
Government to accept more than the services of a Contingent fur- 
nished by six Punjab Chiefs ^ — the Rajahs of Patialla, Nabha, Jhind, 
Kappathala, Nahun and Farid Kot. The four thousand four hundred 
and sixty-six troops composing this Force, after undergoing a course of 
instruction in the use of the Enfield rifle, were sent to guard the com- 
munications of the Kuram Force and to strengthen the garrison of 
Bunnu, a British frontier station whose safety had been endangered 
by tribal discontent, due to the war. 

* This regiment had greatly distinguished itself in the First Afghan War. 
^ The Maharajahs of Hyderabad and Baroda were among the Native 
Rulers whose offers of troops were declined. 

JANUARY, 1879 


Table showing the Constitution of the Punjab Chiefs' 
Contingent as reviewed by Lord Lytton at Lahore in 
December, 1878. 

13 Guns 

8G8 Cavalry 

2,685 Infantry 


10 Elephants 
1,145 Horses 
825 Camels 
240 Mules and Bullocks 

Principal Officers. 

Bimshee Gunda Singh ) 

Syud Jurdan Ali ^Patiala Contingent 

Lalla Bhugman Doss J 

Sirdar Juggat Singh ->-,,., ^ 

Q- ^ 15 f^ o- jJhind Contingent 

Sirdar Ruttan Smg / * 

Dewan Beshun Sing ^ 

Bunshee Budroodun Khan J^Nabha Contingent 

LaUa Nuthoo Lall j 

Dewan Ram Jas > 

Sirdar Nubbi Bux > Kapathala Contingent 

Colonel Mahomed Ali ^ 

Sirdar Golun Singli "V 

Sirdar Albail Singh } Farid Kot Contingent 

Sirdar Buh Singh 

Colonel Whiting Nahun Contingent 

British Officers attached to Contingent. 

Brigadier-General J. Watson, V.C., C.B., Commandant and Chief Political 

Major W. C. Anderson, 3rd Punjab Cavalry, Assistant Adjutant-General. 
Captain V. Rivaz, 4tli Punjab Infantry Deputy Assistant Quarter-Master 

Captain J. Pearson, R.A., Brigade-Major. 
Captain F. C. Massey, Political Officer. 
Captain J. D. Tumbull, 15th Bengal Cavah-y, A.D.C. 
Surgeon-Major J. R. Drew, in Medical Charge. 
Captain F. Burton, 1st Bengal Cavalry, and Captain A. K. Abbott, 42nd 

Bengal Infantry. 

Native Aides-de-Camp to the General. 

Sirdar Mahomed Enzat Ali Khan. 
Sirdar Gholab Singh. 


That discontent extended the whole length of India's North- 
West frontier. In Buner and Swat mullahs were preaching a jehad 
against the enemies of their religion, and only the influence of some 
of the chiefs kept the people's excitement within bounds. Mohmands 
and Afridis were vying with each other in obstructing the movements 
of Maude's and Browne's forces. The Orakzais, long friendly, were 
preparing to raid upon Roberts's communications, and the Zymukhts, 
a tribe that had given no trouble since 1856, were busy attacking that 
General's convoys and driving off his camels from their grazing- 
grounds. Last, but not least, four thousand Malisud Waziris, con- 
sisting largely of Powindars — men of the carrier class — many of whose 
camels had been seized for Government purposes, had entered British 
territory on New Year's day, burnt Tank, and taken up a strong position 
between that town and the Zam Pass ; and, though General G. J. 
Godby employed five thousand Infantry and two hundred Cavalry 
against them, it was not tiU the 20th of January, and after several 
skirmislies, in which the British loss was two men killed, and 
Captain T. Shepperd and nine men wounded, that the invaders 
were finally driven back into their hills. 

A further source of increasing regimental weakness was the growth 
in the normal disproportion between the Native troops and their 
European officers. Not a single Native corps had taken the field with 
its full complement of British Officers, and many of these had already 
been removed by death, wounds, or sickness, or had been absorbed by 
one or other of the Army Staffs . At the attack on the Peiwar Kotal, the 
29th Punjab Infantry had gone into action with only five European 
Officers, the Gurkhas, with but four ; and according to a report furnished 
to Government by General Maude, four came to be the number both 
in the 10th Bengal Lancers and the 24th Punjab Infantry — a state of 
things aggravated by the fact that each of these regiments was broken 
up into small, widely separated detachments, so that many of the 
men were entirely removed from what ought always to be the ruling 

JANUARY, 1879 165 

influence of the sepoy's professional life.^ Maude's report was not 
written till almost the end of the first phase of the war, but he and 
the other Commanders had all along striven to impress the Indian 
Government with the evils resulting from the paucity of European 
Officers ; and though Lord Lytton could not be brought to face the 
expense of a permanent addition to their number, he did, in January, 
throw open the Indian Staff Corps to Officers of British regiments 
other than those serving in India. Little advantage, however, was 
taken of the concession, and the failure of what was, at best, but a 
temporary expedient, can hardly be regretted, for, if successful, it 
would have furnished the Native regiments in the field with leaders 
ignorant of the country in which they had been called upon to serve, 
and of the language, character and habits of the men whom they 
were expected to command. 

Under the sobering influence of growing difficulties and waning 
resources, the thoughts of the Home and the Indian Governments 
had begun to turn towards peace, only to discover that it was easier 
to begin a war than to end one. " We cannot " — wrote Lord Lytton to 
Lord Cranbrook — " we cannot close the Afghan war satisfactorily, or 
finally, without an Afghan Treaty ; we cannot get an Afghan Treaty 
without an Afghan Government willing to sign and fairly able to 
maintain it. It is only, therefore, in the early establishment of 
such a Government that we can find a satisfactory solution of our 
present difficulties. Its early establishment mainly depends on our 
policy; and we must, I think, be prepared to do whatever may be 
necessary on our part to promote and maintain the existence of such 
a Government at Kabul." ^ 

* " Under the foregoing circumstances, I am at a loss to imderstand how 
either of these two fine regiments can be considered to have been in a state of 
efficiency for active service in the field as regards the nimiber of British Officers, 
on whom devolves the all-important duty of commanding and leading their 
men in the day of battle." [Report of Sir F. Maude, May, 1879.) 

^ Lord LyttorC 8 Indian Administration, p. 312. 


By the expression, " whatever may be necessary on our part," 
Lord Lytton evidently meant promises of support, and gifts of money 
and arms. To the gifts the Beaconsfield Mnistry were not Hkely 
to take exception ; however large, they would be cheap compared 
to the expense of an indefinite prolongation of the war ; but where 
was the Amir on whom to bestow them ? No sooner had the news 
of Shere Ali's virtual abdication reached India than Cavagnari had 
been instructed to make cautious advances to Yakub Khan, but 
Yakub Khan had shown no inclination to allow himself to be 
approached. His coldness might be due to the pledge exacted from 
him by his father, and might disappear if circumstances should release 
him from his oath ; but he was known to be incensed at the invasion 
of his country, and Lord Lytton doubted his abihty to maintain 
himself in power, and thought it probable that he would soon follow 
his father into exile. Actuated by these misgivings, the Viceroy 
looked about for some member of the Barakzai House whom he 
could have under his hand, ready, at an opportune moment, to be 
put forward as a successor to Shere Ali; though, meantime, he left 
the door for negotiations with Yakul Khan open, and, to avoid com- 
plicating an already tangled situation, ordered Cavagnari to abstain 
from intriguing either with parties in the Afghan capital or with 
any of the Afghan tribes. The Viceroy's choice of a possible British 
nominee fell upon Shere Ali's half-brother, Wali Mahomed Khan, 
who had let it be known that, if he could escape from Kabul and 
reach the protection of a British Force, he would be found willing 
to play the part filled by Shah Sujah in the first Afghan war. 

There had been a difference of opinion between the Viceroy and 
the Home Government as to the lines on which Afghanistan should 
ultimately be re-settled ; the former desiring to split her up into 
several weak states, the latter preferring to retain her as a strong 
and united kingdom. The views of the higher authority had prevailed 
on paper ; but wlieii Lord Lytton, in recommending his protege, 

JANUARY, 1879 167 

honestly warned Lord Cranbrook that Wali Mahomed, though prob- 
ably strong enough to establish himself in Kabul, was hardly the 
man to extend his rule to Kandahar and Herat, Ministers, having 
no one else to propose, gave a provisional consent to the Viceroy's 
request to be allowed to make use of the uncle against the nephew, 
should circumstances -seem to render such a course advisable.^ 

It must have added to Lord Lytton's vexations, if not to his 
anxieties, to know that whilst he was casting about to find some 
safe ground from which to take the initial step in the direction of 
peace, the Government Press, both at home and in India, was treat- 
ing the war as a thing concluded and done with, and counting up 
the gains, financial and political, which must accrue to India from 
a rectified frontier.^ It was hard for a man oppressed by the know- 
ledge of India's growing expenditure, and harassed by the diffi- 
culty of temporarily keeping open the Khyber, to be told that, as 
a consequence of the permanent occupation of that and other passes, 
he would be able to reduce the Indian Army and cut down Indian 

^ It is curious that Lord Lytton, whose pohcy of weakening Afghanistan 
was based on the conviction that, if strong, she would gravitate towards an 
" alliance with the ambitious, energetic and not over-scrupulous Government of 
such a miUtary empire as Russia," rather than towards an alliance " with a 
Power so essentially pacific, so sensitively scrupulous as our own," (Lord Lytton's 
Indian Administration, p. 311) should have failed to perceive that the dis- 
integration he aimed at was incompatible with one of the three main objecta of 
the war ; yet it is an absolute certainty that a break-up of Afghanistan would 
have resulted then, would result now, in the annexation of Herat and Afghan 
Turkestan by Russia, after which annexation thei'e could be no more dreams 
of extending British influence to the Oxus. Even Lord Lytton could see that, 
when Russia was once in actual possession, it was vain to think of ousting her 
influence by ours. (Vide the allusion to Merv on page 254 of Lord Lytton's 
Indian Administration. 

^ See Times and other Journals for January and February, 1879. 

" The war arose from a conviction that, so long as our frontier was fixed 
on the eastern side of great passes into Afghanistan, oiu" military security was 
dependent upon the degree in which we could rely upon the friendUness of the 
Amir of Kabul. This alliance, ... at a critical moment, broke down, and it 
consequently became necessary that we should rectify our frontier in such a 


taxation. 1 The pleasant stories sent home by special correspondents 
at Jellalabad of regimental sports, of hunting parties, of scientific 
and historic explorations, stories which seemed to readers in India 
and England conclusive testimony to the completeness of British 
success, had a different meaning for the man who read them in the 
light of Browne's Despatches and Cavagnari's Reports. The obstacles 
in the way of making a fresh advance was the ever recurring theme 
of the former ; the difficulties attendant upon keeping a hold on the 
short and narrow stretch of country already occupied, of the latter. 
How to accumulate stores and transport whilst working under con- 
ditions which perpetually exhausted both, was the problem that 
pressed, day and night, on the Mhtary Officer; how to induce the 
tribes to faciUtate tliis accumulation, the task at which the Political 
Officer incessantly toiled. 

The negotiations with certain Afridi tribes, begun to smooth Sir 
Neville Chamberlain's passage through the Kliyber, had widened 
out into a scheme which embraced all the subdivisions of that power- 
ful clan, as well as other tribes occupying territory within striking 
distance of the Pass. Its arrangements, similar in their general 
character to those devised for a like purpose forty years before, had 
a twofold aim — to attract the individual tribesmen of warlike pro- 
clivities to the British side by the offer of well paid 2 military service, 

manner as to make its secm-ity independent of anything so capricious as the 
will of an Asiatic Prince. This has now been done." (Times article, February 
21st, 1897.) 

^ " Those passes have now been seized by us and we shall not relinquish them. 
We have thus secured what was described beforehand as a ' scientific frontier, ' 
and military men are agreed that a moderate force in the strongholds thus 
occupied w^ill suffice to insure us against all external danger from Central Asia. 
. . . More money cannot be raised, and the expenditure therefore must by 
some means be reduced. The means for that reduction are opportunely afforded 
by the security which our recent acquisition of a satisfactory frontier has given 
to our military position." (Ibid.) 

2 The monthly cost of this force was 2,740 rupees. 

JANUARY, 1879 169 

under their own Officers, and to disarm the hostihty of the tribes, 
as a whole, by the payment of a monthly subsidy of seven thousand 
six hundred and sixteen rupees, in return for which each tribe pos- 
sessed of land bordering on the Kliyber, was to furnish a certain 
number of chowkidars (watchmen) to protect its section of the Pass ; 
the largest number demanded from any one tribe being sixty, the 
smallest, tw^elve. No difficulty was experienced in raising and main- 
taining the three hundred and twenty Jezailchis — matchlock men — and 
their fifteen Officers ; and Cavagnari was able to report, when handing 
over political charge of the Khyber to Mr. Donald Macnabb, that 
they had given satisfaction to the Military Commanders, and con- 
siderably relieved the troops in the matter of convoy duty ; but 
the subsidy negotiations proved exceedingly troublesome. It was 
no easy matter to decide the proportion in which the whole sum 
allowed should be divided among the different tribes ; it was harder 
to discover to which party in each tribe that proportion should be 
paid, for, in every case, the party inclined to look favourably on British 
overtures of friendship, proved to be the weaker, therefore of less 
value as an ally, than the party which held aloof. In the end, how- 
ever, a division based upon some rough appraisement of the claims 
and merits of each recipient, was arrived at, but the plan, so far as the 
return to be made for the money was concerned, proved worse than 
a failure. The chowkidars were utterly untrustworthy, a danger 
instead of an assistance to the British Forces, as their licensed pre- 
sence in the passes enabled them to keep a watch upon the move- 
ments of convoys and troops, and to signal the approach of the one, 
and the withdrawal of the other to their friends lurking in the hills 
above ; and the chiefs and headmen soon learned that they could 
make double profits by sending one half of a tribe to make submis- 
sion and finger the Government rupees, while the other haK harried 

^ Cavagnari's Report on Matters relating to Arrangements with the Khyber 
Tribes, dated Safed Sang, April 28, 1879. 


the road and, by night, even ventured to attack the British out- 
lying pickets.^ The wiser policy would have been to give the sub- 
sidy freely, as an acknowledgment of the Afridi and Shinwari claim 
to levy tolls on a road the use of which was being monopolized by the 
British Forces, withholding or redistributing it as a punishment for 
breaches of faith, and to forbid armed Natives, under the severest 
penalties, within the British outposts. These measures would have 
done as much as those adopted to influence the tribes through the 
hope of gain, and more to check their power to harm and harass ; 
thus diminishing the temptation to indulge in punitive expeditions 
to which Cavagnari, by reason of his exceptional position, was pecu- 
liarly exposed. One such expedition — the first invasion of the Bazaar 
Valley — has already been chronicled ; the story of three others has 
now to be told. 

1 Report of Captain Tticker to Major Cavagnari, dated Lundi Kotal, April 
9th, 1879. 

Punitive Expeditions 


On the first day of the year 1879, Sir S. Browne held a Durbar at 
Jellalabad, at which Cavagnari explained to a few, by no means very 
representative Afghan Chiefs, the reasons which had led the British 
Government to go to war with Shere Ali, and its intentions towards 
the tribes with whom, in the course of certain military operations, it 
must come into temporary contact. Those reasons embraced all the 
impugnments of the Amir's character and conduct which figure in 
Lord Lytton's Despatches, with the addition of the entirely new 
charge of having put to death, mutilated, imprisoned, or fined all 
persons whom he suspected of supplying the British authorities with 
information as to the state of Afghan affairs. There exists no official 
or private confirmation of this charge which has, therefore, no more 
claim to credence than hundreds of other rumours, most of them 
palpably false, which were put into circulation by the enemies of 
Shere Ali after the withdrawal of the Native Envoy from Kabul ; 
but to appreciate its value, if true, it must be understood that, in the 
East, so-called news-agents are simply spies, who earn large rewards 
by a trade whicli men in all countries carry on with the fear of death 
before their eyes. To Cavagnari's auditors, however, it mattered 


little whether this or any other accusation brought against the Amir 
was true or false, since none of them would strike them as reflecting 
on his character ; even the distinction drawn by the Viceroy's pro- 
clamation between the Sovereign and the people of Afghanistan had 
little interest for them, for they knew that, whatever the action of 
the tribes, as tribes, the conduct of the British Forces towards them 
would be determined, in part, by the latter's need of their neutrality, 
in part, by the acts of individual tribesmen whose predatory instincts, 
stimulated by opportunity, might at any moment embroil them with 
these would-be well-wishers and friends. Nevertheless, by the mouth 
of Abdul Khalik, Khan of Besud, the assembled Chiefs accepted 
Cavagnari's enumeration of their Sovereign's misdeeds, denounced 
the oppression which they themselves had suffered at his hands, and 
expressed their thankfulness for the prospect of the even-handed 
justice and kindness which the arrival of the British in their districts 
was to ensure to them. 

The relations between the Mohmands, the tribe to which Abdul 
Khalik belonged, and the British troops, had been peaceful ever since 
Mahomed Shah, the Khan of Lalpura, had paid his respects to Sir S. 
Browne at Dakka ; for though Moghal Khan of Goshta, the Chief second 
to him in authority, had held aloof from the British authorities, he 
had not shown himself openly hostile. That those relations should 
remain peaceful was of vital importance to a Force whose communica- 
tions, separated from Mohmand territory only by the Kabul River, 
lay for forty-two miles open to attack ; yet, eleven days after the 
Durbar, they were disturbed by a punitive Expedition, the first of many 
which were to prove a source of anxiety to the Commander, and of 
worry and fatigue to the troops. The occasion for the expedition 
was an attack made by some hillmen on a lowland village ; the [raiders 
and the raided alike were Mohmands. The incident was an entirely 
domestic one, calling for no foreign interference ; but Cavagnari saw 
in it an opportunity for putting pressure on Moghal Khan, who was 


suspected of having instigated the outrage/ and at his request a 
small force, under the command of Brigadier- General Jenkins, con- 
sisting of two guns, Hazara Mountain Battery, fifty men of the Guide 
Cavalry and three hundred of the Guide Infantry, crossed the river, 
surprised the village of Shergarh, where the raiders were supposed to 
be hidden, and failing to capture the offenders, carried off as prisoners 
the headmen who had given them shelter, and had possibly con- 
nived at their offence, and sent them prisoners to Peshawar. 

On the 24th of January, a punitive Expedition, consisting of three 
hundred and fifty men, drawn from the 17th Foot, the Rifles, 4th 
Gurkhas, Guide Cavalry and Sappers, and commanded by Lieutenant 
Colonel A. H. Utterson, entered Shinwari territory to avenge the death 
of .the regimental Bheestie of the 17th. The column surrounded 
and burned the villages of Nikoti and Raja Miani, killed five men 
who tried to escape, and returned to camp with seventy prisoners and 
two hundred head of cattle, and some sheep and mules. The latter 
seem to have been retained ; the former, except two who were be- 
lieved to be implicated in the murder, were soon released. 

Between these two incursions into tribal territory, an expedition of 
a far more serious character had been planned and begun. The inva- 
sion of the Bazar Valley, in the month of December, had exasperated 
instead of cowing the Afridis, who had seized the opportunity 
afforded them by the absence of some of the best troops of the 
2nd Division, to cut telegraph wires, attack small detachments and ill- 
guarded convoys, fire into standing camps, and temporarily close the 
pass. Their dej)redations were checked by the return of the punitive 
Force, and after a while they were coaxed or threatened into tran- 
quillity, with the exception of the Zakka Khel who continued to give 
trouble whenever they saw the chance. 

1 Moghal Khan was also suspected of being concerned in the death of two 
camel-men belonging to the Jellalabad Force, who were murdered about this 
time, but there was no proof of his complicity — none, even, that tlio nuirderer.s 
were Mohmands : they may just as well have been Shinwaris. 


Early in January, an important step had been taken in the direction 
of efficiency and economy by the appointment of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Charles M. Macgregor, an Officer of great energy and experience, to the 
charge of the communications between Jumrud and Jellalabad. So 
far, Browne's and Maude's independence of each other had extended 
to their supply and transport ; now, in all that regarded these depart- 
ments, Macgregor became a connecting link between them, and in 
that character was able to smooth away difficulties, diminish friction, 
and arrange for a more equitable distribution of work between the 
1st and 2nd Divisions.i The new Officer in command of com- 
munications quickly discovered the insecure state of the Khyber, and 
at once wrote direct to Cavagnari recommending a second invasion 
of the Bazar Valley, and the occupation both of it and the adjoining 
Bara Valley till the complete submission of the Zakka Khel had been 
obtained. The suggestion fell in so entirely with Cavagnari's own 
aims, that he hastened to draw up a memorandum setting forth the 
reasons for the proposed expedition, and calling upon General Maude 
to arrange for its despatch. That Commander's task had not growm 
lighter since his return from Bazar. Every day, men were breaking 
down from exposure and over-work, and the duties which had to be 
performed by those who kept off the sick-list, became, proportionally, 
heavier. Reinforcements were urgently needed to bring the 2nd 
Division up to full working strength, and when, instead of additional 
troops, he received an invitation to divert a large part of his already 
over-taxed Force from work which could not for a moment be 
lessened or put aside, to an undertaking of unknown magnitude and 
duration, his astonishment and displeasure were very great. What- 
ever his feelings, however, he kept them to himself, and, in obedience 
to the instructions he had received to act in conformity with the wishes 

^ Macgregor had seen a great deal of active service, and in the famine of 1874 
he had filled the important post of Director of Transport. He had an efficient 
assistant in Major J. D. Dyson-Laurie. 


of the political authorities, he lost no time in considering how he 
could best fulfil the Political Officer's clearly implied desire. On the 
15th of January he telegraphed to Colonel C. C. Johnson, Quarter- 
master-General in India, recapitulating the substance of Cavagnari's 
memorandum, and stating that, with the Commander-in-Chief's 
sanction, he intended to carry out the suggestions it contained with 
two columns from his own Division, the one starting from Jumrud, 
the other from Ali Masjid, in conjunction with a Force from Basawal, 
under Brigadier- General Tytler ; each column to visit the villages that 
lay within reach of its line of march, so that the concentration of the 
troops would not take place till the fifth day. Once concentrated, 
he thought that three days would suffice to complete the work which 
had to be done in the Bazar Valley, but that as regarded the operations 
in Bara, he was not yet in a position to form any plan, and could only 
say that he thought the Force he intended to employ would be equal 
to any demands that might be made upon it. 

Though General Maude had wisely refrained from hazarding an 
opinion as to the length of time that would be required to execute the 
second part of his programme, it was clear to him, and ought to have 
been equally clear to the authorities at Headquarters, that it would 
take longer to penetrate into and subdue Bara, an utterly unknown 
country, further removed from the invading Army's base, than to over- 
run Bazar for the second time ; yet the Government's sanction to the 
scheme was clogged by the extraordinary proviso that the time devoted 
to the whole expedition was not to exceed ten days, accompanied by 
the contradictory comment that the Commander-in-Chief thought 
three days too short a time to do the work needed in Bazar. General 
Maude felt strongly that the imposition of a time-limit on a Military 
Commander was absolutely unprecedented, and that, in this particular 
case, it must result in placing him in a position of great perplexity, 
since it virtually vetoed a part of the plan which had professedly 
been sanctioned in its entirety ; but being unwilling to " foreshadow 


difficulties," he accepted the decision of the Government, and did 
his best to make the short campaign as successful and complete as 

The Jumrud column, consisting of twelve hundred and thirty-five 
men of all ranks, commanded by the Lieutenant-General in person, 
started on the 24th of January, and followed the road by the Khyber 
stream which runs, at first, through Kuka Khel territory. Here no 
opposition was met with, the tribe being classed as " friendly," and 
having been warned by Captain Tucker that armed men were not to 
show themselves. This column spent the first night in the bed of the 
river — below the Shudanna tower, and the second, at Barakas, where 
it was joined by the baggage-camels of the Ali Masjid Force. The 
baggage-party had been fired on, about a mile from camp, and, after 
dusk, shots were fired into the camp itself. 

The Ali Musjid column, under Brigadier- General Appleyard, ad- 
vanced by the Alachai road to Karamna, where it effected a junction 
with the 6th Native Infantry, under Colonel G. H. Thompson, which 
had marched the same morning from Lundi Kotal. The Force, now 
numbering twelve himdred and five officers and men, blew up the 
towers of Karamna, and on the following day those of Burj, at which 
village it was met by a detachment from the Jumrud column, and then 
entered the Bazar Valley and joined General Maude. Tytler's 
column, twelve hundred and eighty-three strong, which had to cross 
the Sisobi Pass, did not arrive till the afternoon of the 27th. Wliilst 
waiting for it to appear. General Maude sent out three hundred men, 
under Colonel Ruddell, to scour China, and a detachment of Cavalry, 
under Lieutenant-Colonel R. G. Low, 13th Bengal Lancers, to the 
west of that hill to cut off fugitives ; also three hundred men, under 
Major E. B. Burnaby, to clear the hills to the south-east of the valley, 
from which the rear-guard had been harassed the previous day. On 
China, a few Zakka Khel were found and killed ; but Burnaby's party 
did not come into contact with the enemy. Wlien the concentration 


of his troops had been accomplished, Maude moved the united Force to 
a strong position in the centre of the valley, out of range of the hills — 
a necessary precaution, as the Zakka Khel had already shown unmis- 
takably that thej^ had no intention of submitting tamely to this 
second invasion of their territory ; baggage had been attacked, rear- 
guards harassed and camps kept on the alert at night by constant 
firing. Perhaps the clearest proof of their determination to offer a 
stubborn resistance to the advance of the expedition, was to be read in 
the fact that, in the Bazar Valley, all the villages were found in flames, 
fired by the hands of their own inhabitants. Foreseeing such a catas- 
trophe, and anxious to avert it, Captain Tucker had instructed Malik 
Khwas, the Zakka Khel Cliief of evil repute whom the tribe had been 
ordered to accept as its head, to assure his clansmen that their dwel- 
lings would be spared. Possibly Malik Khwas never gave the 
message ; possibly he gave it and was not believed ; whatever the 
truth of the matter, the Political Assistant's humane intentions were 

On the 28th of January, General Maude recormoitred in person the 
Bukhar Pass, through which runs the road to Bara. Tytler was in 
command of the covering party, fortunately a strong one — a thousand 
men of all arms — as the enemy held every hill-top on the line of advance, 
from which they had successively to be driven, and they followed up 
the troops as they retired, to within two miles of the camp. The next 
morning, when Colonel G. H. Thompson led a detachment to Hulwai, 
to blow up the towers of that village, the tribesmen showed in much 
greater numbers, and Lieutenant-Colonel Low, who was sent out with 
a squadron of his regiment to look for a site with water suitable for a 
camp near the Bara Pass, found the hills beyond the point to which 
General Maude had penetrated the previous day, occupied by strong 
parties. All this showed that the numbers of the enemy were daily 
increasing, and pointed to the probability that neighbouring tribes 
were coming to the help of the Zakka Khel, though Major Cavagnari 


had positively asserted that nothing of the kind would occur. Bear- 
ing in mind that five days of his allotted time had already expired, 
and fearing that the invasion of Bara would be the signal for a 
general rising of the Afridis, the extreme inopportuneness of which, 
at this particular juncture, he could well appreciate — General 
Maude, though doing full justice to the energy of Captain Tucker, 
judged that, before proceeding further, he ought to have the opinion 
of an older and more experienced Political Officer ; and he therefore 
sent a telegram to Major Cavagnari asking him to come at once to 
the Bazar Valley. But Cavagnari was busy at Jellalabad with work 
which he deemed more important, and declined to comply with the 
summons ; ridiculing in his telegraphic answer the idea of an Afridi 
war, and referring the General back to Captain Tucker for advice on 
all political matters. Maude, however, whose views on the gravity 
of the situation were shared by Brigadier- General Tytler and Colonel 
Macgregor, both men well versed in frontier affairs, was no longer 
inclined to allow the movements of his Force to be decided for him by 
an officer of Captain Tucker's standing, and he therefore resolved to 
lay the question of the invasion of Bara before the Indian Government. 
If he had felt any doubts about taking this step, they must have been 
dispelled by the receipt of a circular letter from the Quartermaster- 
General in India, dated the 26th of January, and addressed to him — 
General Maude — by name, in which he was reminded of the terms of 
the Viceroy's proclamation of the 21st of November, 1878, re- 
quested to bear in mind that " the British Government had declared 
war, not against the people of Afghanistan and the adjoining tribes, 
but against the Amir and his troops," and desired to use his 
best endeavours to avoid unnecessary collisions with the tribes and 
other inhabitants of the country, and to render its occupation as 
little burdensome to them as possible, " for the British Govern- 
ment was anxious to remain on friendly terms with the people of 


Such a letter, reacliing a Commander in the midst of a punitive 
Expedition against one of these very adjoining tribes — an Expedition 
sanctioned only seven days earlier by the Government which now, by 
implication, condemned it — must necessarily compel him to ask for 
definite instructions ; and this General Maude accordingly did in the 
following outspoken telegram : — 

" 1. 30th January, 1879, from General Maude to Quartermaster- 
General and Viceroy. 

" Your letter 327H, 26tli inst., was received last evening, directing 
me to use my utmost endeavours to avoid provoking unnecessary 
collisions with the Tribes. 

" 2. In my telegram to you, dated 15th inst., I proposed, at 
Major Cavagnari's suggestion, to visit Bazar, Bara and other vil- 

" 3. I proposed on the 8th day, should my information be sufficient 
to proceed to Bara, an unknown place. The number of days required 
to embrace the execution of my plans could not be named on account 
of want of information, which could only be obtained after my arrival 
here, but it evidently embraced from sixteen to twenty days. In 
reply I was informed that the Government sanctioned my beino- out 
for ten days only. 

" 4. I conclude Government fixed ten days to cut short the extent 
of my programme, and as your 327H throws all the responsibility of 
collisions with the Tribes on me, and as every time my troops proceed 
from camp one mile in any direction, they come into collision with 
the Tribes, and at night my pickets round the camp are attacked 
by them, I require specific instructions as to my future proceedings, 
whether I am to force my way to Bara against such opposition as I 
may meet. 

" 5. The report of my reconnaissance on the 28th, will have in- 
formed you of the opposition I am likely to meet. Yesterday, further 


reconnaissances showed the enemy to be on the alert in every direction. 
"6. I am ready and willing to carry out any orders I may be 
entrusted with, but I decline, at the suggestion of a Political Officer, 
making a raid into a country which I am instructed to avoid provoking 
unnecessary collision with, unless I receive distinct orders to that effect 
from competent authority. I wait here for orders." 

The answer to this telegram was not received till the 2nd of 
February, and meantime circumstances had occurred which obliged 
Maude to settle the matter for himself. On the 30th, Captain Tucker, 
who hitherto had maintained that only the Zakka Khel were assembled 
to dispute the British advance, informed the General that members 
of other tribes were present with them, some from a considerable 
distance, thus confirming the opinion of the Military Officers that the 
resistance of the inhabitants of a single valley might grow into a great 
Afridi war. It subsequently transpired that detachments from the 
Kuki Khel, Aka Khel, Kambar Khel, Malik Din Khel, and Sipah 
Afridis, as well as from the Sangu Khel Shinwaris and the Orakzais, 
were assembled in the Bara Passes. This information was brought in 
by Jemadar Yussin Khan, who, with Subadars Said Mahomet, Sultan 
Jan and Kazi Afzal, had been sent out by Captain Tucker to try to 
establish friendly relations with the headmen of Bazar, an attempt 
in which they met with unexpected success. As a first result of their 
representations there was no firing into the camps on the night of the 
30th, and on the 31st, the Jirga of the Zakka Khel of Bazar came into 
camp, followed, on the 1st of February, by the Jirga of the Zakka 
Khel of Bara. Wliilst the Political Officer was busy negotiating Avith 
these representative bodies, the camels, which had been sent back to 
Ali Masjid for fresh supplies, returned, bringing only half the quantity 
expected, and General Maude saw himself compelled to place his 
British troops on half rations ; and — a still more serious matter so far 
as the question of a further advance was concerned — Sir S. Browne 


alarmed by a rumour that the Mohmands and Bajauris were to make 
a simultaneous attack on Jellalabad and Dakka, on the 7th of 
February, telegraphed an urgent request for the return of Tytler's 
troops. Now, as the Letter of Instructions which directed Maude " to 
act in conformity with the views of the political authorities," also 
ordered him " to strengthen troops in advance, if required " — i.e. 
Sir S. Browne's Division — this telegram imposed upon him the necessity 
of coining to an immediate and definite decision on the very point 
which he had referred to Government; for to let Tytler's Brigade go, 
was to abandon the Expedition, which could certainly not be carried 
further without its co-operation in the face of the formidable opposi- 
tion that was developing. When it came to be a question between 
the safety of the 1st Division and the desire of Major Cavagnari to 
see Bara invaded, Maude was not likely to hesitate. He telegraphed 
to Browne that Tytler's Brigade should return to Dakka in time, and 
he informed Captain Tucker that no further advance was possible. 
That Officer seems, for the time being, to have been quite in accord 
with the General as to the wisdom of bringing the Expdietion to a 
speedy end ; anxious even to take the credit of the withdrawal to liim- 
self, since he wrote as follows in a letter to Maude, dated Camp Bazar, 
2nd of February : — 

" I myself think that a more lengthened occupation of the valley 
will arouse much irritation, and suggest that the Army which has now 
been here a full week, should march to-morrow, the Afridis under- 
taking to supply escorts whose business it will be to see that no attack 
is made on the retiring columns. I am led to recommend this — 
firstly, on account of the risk of a collision with other Pathan Tribes, 
wliich I beheve Government is anxious to avoid; and secondly, on 
account of the threatened attack on Dakka and JeUalabad, and 
necessity of weakening the Force by sending back General Tytler's 
Brigade which Sir S. Browne has recalled. 


" I have, therefore, felt myself bound to make a somewhat hasty 
settlement, but I trust it may, nevertheless, be lasting." 

This hasty settlement was based on the restitution of some camels 
stolen by the Zakka Khel in recent raids in the Khyber, and an under- 
taldng on their part to send two representatives to Jellalabad to lay 
before Major Cavagnari their claim to a portion of the subsidy promised 
by the Indian Government to all tribes possessing land in the Passes ; 
and even these tokens of submission were qualified by the declaration 
of the headmen that " they were unable long to restrain the mixed 
inhabitants of the country from acts of hostiHty." This warning 
probably referred to the state of things then existing in the Bazar 
Valley, but it contained a truth of wider application. Among all the 
independent Tribes the power of the Chiefs is small, the licence 
claimed, or exercised by individuals, very large. As a clan, the 
Zakka Kliel had at no time opposed the British occupation of the 
Khyber, but bold and stirring spirits among them had been busy cutting 
telegraph wires, plundering convoys, and murdering camp-followers ; 
and this they were likely to do on every favourable opportunity, 
whatever arrangements their headmen might come to with the British 
Political Officers. 

On the 2nd of February, when terms had been settled and the 
return of the three columns fixed for the morrow, General Maude 
received from the Quartermaster-General the following answer to his 
telegram asking for explicit orders : — 

" The instructions of Government regarding avoiding collision 
with people of Afghanistan are accepted as general and applicable 
more particularly to tribes which have hitherto been directly under 
Afghan rule. Your Expedition was undertaken entirely on the advice 
of the local and pohtical authorities with a view of more efficiently 
controlUng the Khyber and its Tribes. Mr. Macnabb, invested with 


full political authority, has been directed to join you at once, and, on 
consultation with him, you are left entirely free to act on your own 
judgment in carrying out the intention for which the Expedition was 

No better man that Donald Macnabb could have been selected to 
assist General Maude with his counsel and influence, and it was reason- 
able that the latter, after consultation with his new adviser, should be 
accorded complete freedom " to act on his own judgment in carrying 
out the intention for which the Expedition was planned" ; but the 
adviser and the permission came too late : the time-limit and the 
recall of Tytler's Brigade, between them, had killed the Expedition ; 
and though the former was now virtually cancelled, it would have 
been a breach of faith to persist in entering Bara after an agreement 
had been come to with its inhabitants. So, early on the 3rd of 
February, the Force broke up, each column returning to its starting- 
place. On the 4th, General Maude met Mr. Macnabb at Ali Masjid, 
and had the satisfaction of hearing from his own lips that he considered 
the solution arrived at satisfactory under the circumstances ; whilst 
on the 5th, the telegraph brought him the assurance of the full approval 
of the Commander-in-Chief.^ 

There were no engagements to which names can be given, in the 
Second Bazar Expedition, any more than in the First ; but there was 
constant skirmishing, in which five men were killed, and one Officer, 
Lieutenant H. R. L. Holmes, and seventeen men were wounded.^ 

1 The same day Maude received a letter from Macnabb, in which he wrote 
that he was svire the Government would be very glad that the Bazar Expedition 
terminated without a serious collision with the Afridis, for he had got a telegram, 
on returning home the previous night, saymg that they particularly wanted to 
avoid anything of the kind, if consistent with military exigencies. 

2 " It is highly interesting to note the result of this short Expedition, without 
tents, on the Kliyber Hills. The 17th were a singularly fit regiment, and for 


The loss in life to the Zakka Khel was far larger, and much suffering 
must have been inflicted on the women and children of the Bazar 
Valley by their hasty flight to the hills in mid- winter. 

In his report to Government of the 13th of February, General 
Maude, whilst admitting that " the operations in Bazar did not afford 
the troops opportunities for the display of much gallantry," claimed 
that " both Officers and men showed themselves possessed of high 
military qualities," and that " all ranks gave proof of the greatest 
anxiety to meet the enemy on all occasions " ; and he spoke warmly 
of the " gallant and devoted spirit of those of the men who ran the 
gauntlet of the enemy carrying letters. It was in rescuing one of 
these, that Lieutenant R. C. Hart, Royal Engineers, won the Victoria 
Cross whilst serving with a Comj)any of the 24th Native Infantry, 
under Captain E. Stedman, engaged in covering the rear of the convoy 
of supplies that arrived in camp on the 31st of January. The con- 
voy had cleared the hills and entered on the plain, when, half a mile 
in its rear, post-runners, escorted by troopers of the 13tli Bengal 
Cavalry, came cantering down the defile, and were fired on by the 
Afridis who had been l3ang in wait for the convoy, but had not dared 
to attack it. The sound of shots attracted the attention of the cover- 
ing party, and, looking back, they saw one of the troopers lying 
wounded on the ground, and some twenty Afridis rushing do^vn the 
hill towards him. Lieutenant Hart instantly ran to the assist- 
ance of the defenceless man, followed by Captain Stedman and six 
men. He so completely outstripped them that when he reached the 
trooper, whom the Afridis had already surrounded and were slashing 
with their knives, he was alone. At his ajaproach the murderers ran 
off to a little distance and opened fire ; but Hart had already dragged 

several days after their return did excellently well ; but when the excitement 
passed off, the wear and tear and the exposure to the biting cold began to tell, 
and 31 cases of pneumonia resulted, with 11 deaths." — "Recollections of the 
Afghan Campaign of 1878, 1879, and 1880," by Surgeon-Major J. H. Evatt, 
Journal of the United Service Institution of India, 1890, vol. xix. No. 82. 


the wounded man behind a rock, where the two remained till Captain 
Stedman and his party came up and drove oflf the enemy. The trooper 
died whilst being carried into camp. 


Observation I. The first Expedition recorded in this chapter 
was uncalled for and unwise. By interfermg in the domestic quarrels 
of the Mohmands, Cavagnari turned the whole tribe into enemies, and 
compelled Sir S. Browne to waste the strength of his troops in exhaust- 
ing and futile operations.^ 

Observation II. There was good gromid for the Expedition 
against the Shinwaris, but no excuse for burning down two of their 
villages, and turning their women and children adrift in midwinter. 
The proper punishments to be inflicted on a community which, by 
refusing to surrender a criminal, associates itself with his crime, are 
(a) fines ; (6) confiscation of arms ; (c) the blowing up of towers. These 
fall directly on the men of the tribes, and only indirectly affect its 
women and children. The two former penalties have the advantage 
of being revocable, for the hope of obtaining their full or partial 
remission may sometimes lead the tribal authorities to the act of sub- 
mission originally demanded of them. 

Observation III. The Second Bazar Expedition, like the First, 
was admirably planned, with one exception, for which General Maude 
cannot be held responsible — namely, the unsupported advance of 
Tytler's force from the distant bases of Dakka and Basawal, through 
a wild hill-country, where, had the enemy possessed a spark of military 
ability, it might easily have been overwhelmed. This movement was 
arranged by Cavagnari with Sir S. Browne, but its real authors were 
the Viceroy and his Government, who kept the 2nd Division so 

1 The relations between Cavagnari and Sir S. Browne are somewhat obscure. 
Nominally, the latter had been invested with full poHtical powers ; practically, 
they would seem to have been exercised entirely by the former, who corresponded 
direct with the Government of India. 


weak that its Commander had not sufficient troops to carry out single- 
handed the behests of the Political Officer to whom they had sub- 
ordinated him. The Reconnaissance of the 28th of January was also 
an excellent military movement. The covering party, whilst not so 
numerous as unduly to weaken the camp, was large enough to enable 
General Maude to force his way, against strong opposition, to a point 
from which he could get a view of the passes into Bara, and to feel the 
strength of the enemy, knowledge without which he would have been 
unable to form a true estimate of the opposition that he must expect 
if the advance into Bara were persisted in. 

Observation IV. The two Bazar Expeditions were merely 
episodes in the Kliyber campaign, but episodes which deserved to be 
told in detail ; partly, because, as military operations, they were con- 
ducted on right principles, with a due regard to the fact that Bazar 
was an enemy's country, praise which must be denied to much of the 
strategy and the tactics displayed in both phases of the war ; partly, for 
the sake of several points which they suggest for consideration. The 
first of these is the vexed question of the relations between Mihtary 
Commanders and Political Officers, a question which they go far to 
settle, since they are an object-lesson in the disadvantages and dangers 
of divided authority. Here was General Maude, a man of mature 
years, of great experience and ability, burdened with responsibility 
for the safety of the communications of the whole Khyber Force— com- 
pelled to take his orders from men, his inferiors in age, standing and 
experience. Bound by the Letter of Instructions, which he had 
received immediately after assuming the command of the 2nd 
Division, he carried out with singular loyalty the schemes of the 
Political Officers ; but how inopportune, how foolish such raids into 
outlying valleys must have appeared to him, may be gathered from the 
fact that during the whole time occupied by the second Expedition 
he had to leave many of the guards and pickets in the Kliyber standing, 
reliefs not being available. Maude knew the hard work his troops had 


to perform, and the hardships to which they were subjected, for he 
had to take daily anxious thought for their health and efficiency. 
Major Cavagnari was ignorant of these matters, and indifferent to 
them. Altogether absorbed in his own schemes, he seems never to 
have asked himself — " Is the 2nd Division strong enough in num- 
bers, strong enough in health, to be able to spare a thousand, or two 
thousand, men for a week, or a fortnight, or a month, or whatever the 
length of time necessary to occupy the Bazar and Bara Valleys until 
all opposition is at an end ? " And what were the objects which he 
deemed sufficiently important to justify him in weakening the com- 
munications of an Army, and doubling the work of overtaxed troops ? 
The Expeditions were intended to bring about the submission of the 
Zakka Khel, to avenge " outrages committed by them during a period of 
over half a century," and to strengthen" the Political Officer's arrange- 
ments with the Khyber Afridis. It is not too much to say that no 
man who had to bear both the political and the military responsibility 
for his actions, would have engaged in either Expedition on any such 
grounds. Feeling the heavy pressure of the present, he would have 
had no room in his mind for the petty offences of the past, and he would 
have trusted to severe and summary measures in the Kliyber to keep 
the Zakka Khel and all the robber tribes in order. What was really 
wanted to check their raid.s — and beyond tliis there was no need for 
their submission to go — was not punitive expeditions to Bazar or Bara, 
or any other valley whose inhabitants had a natural hereditary 
tendency to possess themselves of other people's camels ; but sufficient 
regiments in the Pass to make camel-raiding an altogether dangerous 
amusement. Yet General Maude, from whom so much was expected, 
asked in vain for a regiment to replace the SLst Foot which he had had 
to send back to India " saturated with malaria." Political Officers 
are useful and necessary to furnish the General to whose force they are 
attached, with information and advice, supposing them to know the 
country in which war is being waged, better than he does, and to act as 


intermediaries between liim and its inhabitants ; but when it comes to 
military measures, great or small, only he who will be held accountable 
for their failure, should they fail, can justly be invested with the power 
to initiate, control, and end them. There may be safety in many coun- 
sellors, but there is nothing but weakness and blundering to be got 
out of many heads. In the field, a Commander should be an autocrat ; 
if a bad one, the remedy is not to give him a civilian, or, what is worse, 
a comparatively junior Military Officer as his master, but to recall him, 
and put a better man in his place. 

The second point raised by the Bazar Expeditions is the wisdom of 
taking the Khyber tribes into some form of alliance with the Indian 
Government. Major Cavagnari seems to have been fairly satisfied 
with the arrangements made with them, but they amounted to very 
little, and the good got out of them could have been obtained in a much 
simpler and cheaper way. Had there been a really efficient British 
Force between Dakka and Peshawar, there would have been no need 
for this elaborate system of holding the passes through their own 
tribes, a system which kept them constantly on the skirts of the army, 
and gave them the opportunities of thieving, under pretext of pro- 
tecting. An extra British or Native regiment would have been 
worth far more to the safety of Browne's communications than three 
hundred and thirty-five Jezailchies, and a handful of treacherous 

The third point which the Bazar Expeditions suggest for considera- 
tion, is the question why the Government which subordinated a General 
Commanding in the field to a Political Officer, and trusted so blindly 
to that Officer's judgment and knowledge that it took no trouble to 
form any opinion as to the justice and good sense of his schemes, but 
actually desired General Maude to attack Chura— a friendly village ^ — 
or any other locality at his bidding— why this Government did not 

1 See Chapter V. 


choose tlie best man so fill so invidious a position. It is impossible 
that the Viceroy and his Council should not have known that Mr. 
Donald IVIacnabb was, of all men living in India at that time, the one 
most conversant with Border affairs, and possessed of most mfluence 
with the Border Tribes. He yvas a civilian of long experience, of ripe 
judgment — too well kno\\Ti in India to require to advertise himself 
by showy undertakings ; too well known to the Afridis to need to fear 
that, in him, moderation and patience could be mistaken for weakness 
and timidity. If General Maude was to have a superior, that superior 
should have been the Civilian Commissioner of Peshawar, not the 
Military Deputy Commissioner, with his soldier's instincts still strong 
within him, and no military responsibility to hold them in check ; 
a man whom Lord Lytton's favour had suddenly raised into notice, 
and who was, not unnaturally, eager to achieve such personal dis- 
tinction as should justify his elevation. Then why was Macnabb left 
at Peshawar, and Cavagnari appointed Political Officer in the Khyber 1 
The answer is not far to seek. Macnabb was known to disagree with 
the Afghan policy of the Viceroy, whilst Cavagnari was its enthusiastic 
supporter. So the comparatively untried man went to the front, 
and the tried man was kept in the background, till the former having 
brought the Government face to face with danger, the latter was asked 
to conjure it away. Fortunately, Macnabb's services were not re- 
quired in Bazar, and it was only in April, when Cavagnari was sent 
to Gandamak to negotiate a treaty with Yakub Khan, that the manage- 
ment of affairs in the Khyber fell into the hands of the man who ought 
to have been entrusted with them from the beginning. 

Lastly, it is worth noting that these Bazar Expeditions, though 
avowedly punitive in their nature, and directed against a tribe that 
really had been guilty of offences against us, were not stained by any 
acts of wanton cruelty. The reports both of General Maude and of 
Captain Tucker bear witness to the fact that, where the destruction 
of villages is spoken of, nothing more was meant than the bloA\ang up 


of the towers which are their defence. The only houses burned were 
those to which the inhabitants themselves set fire ; and, though large 
stores of boosa and grain were destroyed, or seized for the use of the 
troops, there was none of that injuring of fruit-trees and blowing up 
of wells which inflict permanent injury on a district. Judged both 
from the poHtical and the military standpoint, there should have been 
no Bazar Expeditions ; but since they were undertaken, it is a satis- 
faction to be able to say of them, that they were conducted in a manner 
which reflects no discredit on the humanity of the authorities con- 


Alarms and Excursions 

The reports of the 28tli of January, which had obliged Sir S. Browne 
to ask for the return of Ty tier's Force, were of a very disquieting nature. 
Mohmands and Bajauris were said to have fraternized ; the Mir 
Akhor, assisted by local mullas, was preaching a Jehad amongst the 
Shinwaris and Ghilzais ; ^ whilst the Lagmani had already given proof 
of their ill-will by firing on British reconnoitring parties. On the 2nd 
of February came news that twenty thousand armed Mohmands and 
other tribesmen had been actually seen in the mountainous country 
near the Kunar River, and that the friends of the headmen captured 
at Shergarh were inciting them to attack Jellalabad. At first, Browne 
contented himself with sending out reconnoitring parties in all direc- 
tions, and with strengthening his own position which was far from 
strong — for a cluster of villages commanded his commissariat lines, and 

^ " The Ghilzais may, roughly speaking, be said to inhabit the country 
bounded by Khelat-i-Ghilzai and Poli on the south, the Gulkoh range on the 
west, the Suliman on the east and the Kabul River on the north. In many places 
they overflow these boundaries, as to the east, they come down into the tribu- 
taries of the Gomal, and, on the north, they in many places cross the Kabul River 
and extend to the east, along its course, at least as far as Jellalabad. This 
country is about 300 miles long and 100 miles broad in its southern portion, and 
35 miles in the northern." (SiK Charles Macgregor. ) 

Broadfoot estimated the number of the Ghilzais at 100,000 families, and 
Masson put do\\^l their fighting strength at 35,000 to 50,000 men. On the 
approach of danger the men hastily gather together their flocks, take up strong 
positions on the hills behind stone walls, and fight well, their women-folk bring- 
ing them ammunition, food and water, and not infrequently fighting by their 


gardens which might afford good slielter to an enemy, lay between 
his camp and the town ; but the time had come for assuming the 
offensive when, on the 6th, Captain W. North, who commanded the 
Sappers at Gidi Kach, on the right bank of the Kabul River, ten miles 
from Jellalabad, telegraphed that, on the opposite bank, five thousand 
footmen and fifty horsemen had passed wdthin eye-shot of that post. 
The British Commander's plans were quickly made, and, very early next 
day, he sent out Macpherson, with four guns, Hazara Mountain Bat- 
tery, and twelve hundred men, consisting of one troop 10th Hussars, 
one squadron 1 1th Bengal Lancers, one wing 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, 
one wing 4th Gurkhas, one wing 20th Punjab Infantry, and two com- 
panies 1st Sikh Infantry, to attack the raiders. At the same time, he 
despatched Colonel Charles Gough to watch the fords at Ali Boghan, 
with two guns F. C. Royal Horse Artillery, a squadron of the 10th 
Hussars, and one of the 11th Bengal Lancers, and ordered Tytler, with 
three guns 11-9 Royal Artillery, a squadron of the Guide Cavalry, and 
a wing of the 1-1 7th Foot to move up the river from Basawal to Char- 
deh, opposite Goshta, through which place the enemy were known to 
have passed, with a view to intercepting them, should they try to 
retrace their steps. 

Macpherson crossed the Kabul River by the new trestle bridge, and 
sent forward his Cavalry, supported by the 20th Punjab Infantry, to 
seize some high ground on the further side of the Kunar river, with the 
object of surprising the Mohmands and cutting off their retreat from 
Shergarh and the neighbouring villages ; their advance, however, was 
checked by numerous irrigation-channels and retarded by the boggy 
nature of the ground, ^ and when, at last, the river was reached, its 
channel proved to be so wide, its current so swift, that the Commanding 
officer wisely decided not to attempt to cross it in the dark. In the 
interval, the Infantry, unencumbered by baggage and doolies which, 

^ Many of the mounted men slipped into the bog and were with difficulty 
drawn out again. 


under a strong escort, had been left to follow, came up, and at dawn 
the whole Force was thrown across the stream — not without many acci- 
dents, though none of them, fortunately, of a fatal character ; ^ but 
the enemy had got wind of its approach, and had disappeared, leaving 
only a few men to cover their retreat. The 10th Hussars, with their 
Martini-Henry carbines, got a few shots at this rear-guard, whose 
position was betrayed by the glittering of its weapons, and Major E. J. de 
Lautour's mountain-guns dislodged another small party from a higher 
peak beyond ; but the main body had secured too good a start to be 
overtaken, and so the Cavalry, after a pursuit of some miles, turned 
back, and joined by the guns and the 1st Sikhs, returned the same day 
to Jellalabad. The rest of the Infantry bivouacked in a raging north 
wind, and the next morning Macpherson himself superintended its 
re-passage of the Kunar River, which was again effected without loss 
of life, though several men were carried off their feet, and many ren- 
dered nearly insensible by the intense cold of waters which flow direct 
from the great glaciers of the Hindu Kush. 

As the tribesmen retired by a different route from that by which 
they had advanced, neither Tytler's nor Gough's co-operation was 
required; but the former's column came in for its share of difficulties, 
for, after marching do-wn to Chardeh in the dark, and crossing three 
channels of the Kabul River, it was brought to a standstill by a fourth, 
which was too deep for the Infantry and guns. Major Battye, with the 
Cavalry, however, managed to get over, and reconnoitred to the foot 
of the hills, three miles away. No enemy was met with, but it was dis- 
covered that, the previous day, the invaders had attacked a group 
of villages called Maya, lying to the west of Goshta, one of which they 
had burned after killing and wounding a score of its defenders, a son 
of the Chief being among the dead. 

The danger that had threatened Sir S. Browne's Forces had been for 

^ Three camp-followers and some mules that were carried away and reported 
drowned, were subsequently recovered and resuscitated. 



a short time very grave, for later information left no doubt that the 
Mohmand raid was part of a scheme for an attack upon Jellalabad, 
planned by the Mir Akhor, in which the Mohmands and Bajauries, 
the Ghilzais, Shinwaris and Kujianis were to have taken part. The 
death of its author, who was accidentally killed before it could be 
put into execution, led to its abandonment, and Macpherson's Expedi- 
tion broke up, for the time, the confederacy of the tribes, and relieved 
the pressure on Jellalabad and its communications. Other troubles, 
however, soon cropped up. Azmatulla, the chief of the northern section 
of the Ghilzais, was reported to be busy in the populous and fertile 
Lagman Valley, arranging for a fresh rising, and on the 22nd of Febru- 
ary, Jenkins, with a small column, penetrated into and reconnoitred 
it for a distance of thirty miles. Crowds of armed men were seen, but 
they kept beyond the range of the British rifles, and though a number 
of headmen were seized and carried off as hostages for the good be- 
haviour of their respective clans, Azmatulla and the Lagman Chief 
made good their escape. The intelligence that the eldest son of the 
Akliand of Swat, with a following of five thousand men, had entered 
Lalpura territory, and was trying to induce Mahomed Shah Khan to 
make common cause with him and the Afridis against the British, was 
not re-assuring ; nor yet, the news that Yakub Khan was working 
hard to re-constitute the Afghan Army, and that the seven thousand 
Cavalry and twelve thousand Infantry, with sixty guns, already con- 
centrated in and about Kabul and Ghazni, were in high spirits and 
eager to avenge the defeats of Ali Masjid and the Peiwar. 

Each of these reports, emanating, as they all did, from Native 
sources, was accepted with large deductions ; but, even after due allow- 
ance had been made for intentional, or natural exaggeration, the 
cumulative effect of so many was to add heavily to the burden of care 
borne by the British Commander, and to the labours and fatigues of 
his troops ; yet, as if the dangers inevitably attendant on an occupation 
of tribal territory were not sufficiently numerous, the passion of the 


Survey Department for adding to its knowledge of the topography of 
the country, gratuitously provoked others. Mr. G. B. Scott and his 
assistants when sketching near Michni Fort, on the 26th of Febru- 
ary, were fiercely attacked by a number of hillmen, probably Moh- 
mands. Scott, though a civilian, at once took command of the escort, 
consisting of twenty men of the 24th Punjab Infantry, and by his cool- 
ness and skill brought off his party, not, however, without loss, four 
of the escort being killed and two wounded.^ Three weeks later, a 
similar incident occurred in Shinwari territory. A survey party, in 
charge of Captain E. P. Leach, escorted by a troop of the Guide Cavalry, 
under Lieutenant W. R. P. Hamilton, and a Company of the 45th 
Sikhs, commanded by Lieutenant F. M. Barclay, started on the 16th 
of March from Barikab, a British post midway between Basawal and 
Jellalabad, and encamped for the night near the village of Chilgazai. 
The next morning, leaving half his infantry and a few sabres to guard 
his camp. Leach pushed on to a hill lying about four miles to the south. 
On the further side of this hill, there is a group of villages called Mai- 
danak, the inhabitants of which were thrown into a state of the wildest 
excitement at sight of the survey party and its escort. Swarmincr out 

1 " The Pathans have an inveterate hatred of the surveyor. They have an 
idea that Government sends a surveyor first, then an army. This is not the only 
time that Mr. Scott has been placed in the same predicament. In August 1 868 
when surveying the Khogam Valley, he was attacked by a large body of Cis-Indus 
Swatis. He was accompanied by a small escort of the 2nd Punjab Infantry 
(5th Gurkhas ?), who behaved in the most gallant manner, and thouo-h harassed 
for many miles by several hundreds of hillmen, he succeeded in beating them off 
and reached camp at Oghi without loss, though not without casualties. The 
men of the escort received substantial rewards ; the Non-commissioned Officer 
in charge was decorated with the Order of Merit, and Mr. Scott received the warm 
acknowledgements of the Viceroy, Sir John Lawrence. It was rvunoured that 
he was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but there were difficulties in the way 
which proved insuperable." {Times Correspondent, 8th of March, 1879.) The 
Sepoys on this occasion refused to leave Scott when he urged them to secure 
their own safety by abandoning him. The retreat to Oghi lasted several days. 
— H.B.H. 


of their houses like angry bees, they made a rush for some rising ground 
that commanded the eminence occupied by the intruders. In vain 
the Malik of Chilgazai was despatched to calm and reassure them, 
— they continued firing volley after volley. Barclay soon fell, 
dangerously wounded, and Leach, assuming command, ordered the 
handful of Infantry to fall back on the Cavalry which had been left 
with Hamilton at the foot of the hill. Instantly the villagers began 
gathering from all directions round the retreating troops, and one 
compact body of fifty men were advancing boldly to the attack, when 
Leach shouted to the Sikhs to fix bayonets, and, charging at their head, 
drove back the assailants. The hesitation which followed on this 
spirited counter-attack, lasted long enough to enable the survey party 
to rejoin the Cavalry ; and, when once the escort was re-united, the vil- 
lagers lost courage and ceased to pursue. Barclay succumbed to his 
wounds, and the gallant conduct of Leach who, in the charge, had 
received a severe cut from an Afghan knife, was brought by Sir S. 
Browne to the notice of the Commander-in-Chief, and rewarded by the 
bestowal of the Victoria Cross.^ 

Sir S. Browne, whose earnest desire it was to avoid an open rupture 
with the Shinwaris — a powerful, well armed clan, a portion of whose 
scattered territory commanded the left flank of his communications — 
was glad that the attack on Leach's party had been so clearly unpre- 
meditated, and due to surprise and alarm as to call for no heavy punish- 
ment. Some notice he was obliged to take of it, but he instructed 
Tytler, to whom he committed the task of obtaining reparation, to 
avoid bloodshed, and to use no unnecessary severity. With four guns 
and twelve hundred men, Tytler marched quickly to Maidanak, blew 
up the towers, levied small fines on the villagers, and, thanks to the 

^ In recommending Captain Leach for this honour. Sir S. Browne wrote : — 
" In this encounter Captain Leach killed three or four of the enemy himself, and 
he received a severe wound from an Afghan knife in the left arm. Captain 
Leach's determination and gallantry in this affair, in attacking and driving back 
from the last position, saved the whole party from annihilation." 


excellence of his dispositions and to the tact shown by Captain E. R. 
ConoUy, the Assistant Political Officer attached to his force, returned 
to his Headquarters at Basawal without having fired a shot, though, 
from all the hills around, crowds of armed tribesmen had watched his 
proceedings. It was mortifying to find that, during his short absence, 
a convoy had been waylaid and plundered near Deh Sarak by the in- 
habitants of another group of Shinwari villages, and to have to enter 
at once on a second punitive Expedition. 

Misled by his experience at Maidanak, Tytler, on this second occa- 
sion, took with him only seven hundred men and two guns. The start 
was made at 1 a.m. ; at daybreak, Mausam, the principal village of the 
offending group, came into sight. At the first glimpse he caught of 
its strong defences and commanding position, high up on a slope of the 
Safed Koh, with a great drainage line protecting it on either side, 
Tytler understood his mistake ; and his anxiety deepened when he saw 
the villagers hurrying to man the walls, and streaming through the gate 
to take up a position outside. From the high ground on which he 
had halted, he could see a troop of the lltli Bengal Lancers working 
up one of the nullahs, and in imminent danger of being cut off and over- 
whelmed. Hastily recalling them, he waited for the rest of his Force 
to come up, and then ordered the Infantry, under cover of the fire of 
the guns, to make a direct assault on the village, and sent Captain 
D. H. Thompson, with the Cavalry, to surprise the villagers collected 
on a plateau beyond it. Thompson carried out his instructions with 
promptitude and skill . Taking advantage of the accidents of the ground 
to conceal his movements, he crossed the nullah, circled round to his 
right, recrossed higher up and charged down upon the enemy, who, 
busily engaged in firing on the Infantry, had taken no heed of his 
approach.^ Yet, though caught at unawares, the Shinwaris fired off 
their matchlocks, killing two men and wounding seven, before they 
broke and fled. The pursuit was short ; horses had no chance against 

i Captain Thompson was highly commended for this gallant charge. 


the nimble Afghans on a steep hillside, and the charge had effected 
its purpose. At sight of their friends' discomfiture, the men within the 
village, who had hitherto offered the most desperate resistance, 
abandoned their defences and fled ; all but a single man, who, for some 
time, continued to hold one of the towers and to keep the victors at 
bay. When he had been shot down, Mausam was in Tytler's hands, 
and he at once blew up its towers, as well as those of Darwaza, a 
neighbouring village whose people had fired on his rear-guard, and 
promptly began his retreat. The moment the troops were seen to be 
retiring, the men of Mausam rallied and became, in their turn, the 
assailants. By this time, the news of the British invasion had spread 
far and wide, and large reinforcements came hurrying up, many of the 
newcomers being inhabitants of Maidanak, eager to avenge the punish- 
ment to which a few days previously they had had to submit. All in 
all, Tytler reckoned that on that day he had had to deal with three 
thousand tribesmen ; and, though many of them were only armed with 
matchlocks and swords, their courage and determination and their skill 
in taking shelter made them formidable foes. So great was the peril, 
that only a General possessing the entire confidence of his men could 
have brought them safely through it. That confidence Tytler had 
won for himself ; and, secure in the certainty that he had nothing to fear 
from panic, he echelonned the Cavalry on his flanks, and coolly retired 
his Infantry by alternate lines, halting the whole Force, from time to 
time, to bring the guns into action against the enemy, pressing in upon 
his flanks and rear with such boldness that, at one point, they came 
within eighty yards of the troops. This running fight was maintained 
for nearly ten miles until, on high ground under the walls of Pesh 
Bolak, Tytler's men found safety, and the enemy drew off into the 
adjacent hills. In this expedition the British loss was only two killed 
and twelve wounded, but the Shinwaris buried one hundred and sixty 
men the following day, and they must have had at least three hundred 
wounded. Tytler had only been twenty-four hours away from his 


Headquarters, and yet, in that brief interval, men of the same tribe 
had made a serious raid on his communications, in which two men of 
the 17th Foot were killed, and forty-four camels carried off. 

Tytler's column was badly constituted, as well as dangerously 
weak. In addition to the guns, it consisted of detachments drawn 
from no less than six regiments : — 

11th Bengal Lancers 
13th Bengal Lancers 
1/5 Foot .... 
l/17th Foot . . . 
27th Punjab Infantry 
2nd Gurkhas . 

1 squadron. 

1 troop. 

2 companies. 
2 companies. 
J a company. 
J a company. 

The system of mixing up men of a variety of regiments is vicious 
in principle, as, so constituted, a Force lacks cohesion owing to the 
multiplication of Commanding Officers, and the fact that the different 
units have not been accustomed to work together. This faulty 
organization was of frequent occurrence during the war, on all three 
lines of advance. Sometimes it was imavoidable when, as in the case 
under review, the troops destined for an Expedition were scattered 
on the Hne of communication, though a better disposition of them 
on that hne, with a view to such a contingency, might have been 
made. In the Peninsular War, the rule was that a company, or a 
troop, was to be regarded as the smallest unit for detached duty, and, 
if any increase was necessary, such increase was not to be less than the 
prescribed unit. In Afghanistan, the Indian Government was making 
war with inadequate armies, for neither Browne nor Maude was strong 
enough to form the moveable columns which should have been stationed 
at Jamrud, Lundi Kotal and Basawal, ready to move at a moment's 
notice, and they were driven to the dangerous expedient of weakening 
the posts guarding their communications, and getting up scratch Forces 
whenever an emergency arose. 


The Invasion of Khost 


If the condition of affairs in the Khyber at the beginning of the year 
1879, was unsatisfactory, that in the Kiiram was distinctly worse. 
Browne had in Peshawar, distant only a few miles from the Afghan 
frontier, a real base ; Roberts's true base was at Rawal Pindi, 171 
miles from Thai, and Thai was again 82 miles from the British out- 
post at Ali Khel. No river broke the communications of the former ; 
those of the latter were cut by the Kuram and the Indus, the flooding 
of either of which streams would bring his Force face to face with 
starvation, since there were no local supplies to count upon, and no 
reserve of food had been accumulated in the valley.^ The weather, 
though exceptionally dry, was very severe, and the health of the troops 
had suffered so grievously from exposure and fatigue that, although 
a large convoy of sick and wounded had left for India on the 2nd of 
December, a week later there were no fewer than five hundred and 

^ "My Commissary-General reported to me that only a few days' provisions 
for the troops remained in hand, and that it was impossible to lay in any reserve 
unless more transport could be provided. About this reserve, I was very anxious, 
for the roads might become temporarily impassable from the rising of the rivers, 
after the heavy rain to be expected about Christmas. Contractors were de- 
spatched to all parts of the country to procure camels, and I suggested to Govern- 
ment that pack-bullocks should be bought at Mirzapiu" and railed up country, 
which suggestion being acted upon, the danger of the troops having to go hungry 
was warded off." {Forty-One Years in India, p. 155.) 



twenty-four officers and men in hospital. Great difficulty had been 
experienced in getting together the camels required for the above- 
named convoy, and a large proportion of the regimental transport 
and of the animals incessantly engaged in provisioning the scattered 
units of the Army, was non-effective/ The new road by which the 
double crossing of the Kuram River would be avoided, was still un- 
finished ; and the old road, from end to end, was infested by Mangals 
and Zymukhts, who hung on the flanks and rear of the troops in 
movement, and murdered stragglers and carried off camels from 
under the very walls of Thai ; even the friendly Turis were suspected 
of plundering whenever they had the chance.^ Thus every circum- 
stance connected with the Kuram Field Force, pointed to the need of 
consolidating the position it had won before calling upon it to extend 
the sphere of its operations ; but the restless activity of its Commander 
could so ill brook delay that, within three weeks of his return to the 
Kuram from reconnoitring the Shutargardan, he had concentrated 
two thousand and eighty-two men, with eight guns, and transport 
amounting to fifteen hundred and thirty-nine camels and five hundred 

^ In six months the Kuram Field Force lost 8,828 out of 10,861 hired camels, 
besides a large number belonging to the Government." (Commissariat Return 
of Camel Carriage, Kuram Field Force.) " The position of the camp at Kuram 
. . . was not suited to keeping camels in a healthy condition. The distance 
of the nearest range of hills where brushwood, which would do for their food, was 
found, was about seven miles, and the camels had thus to walk foiu-teen miles, 
there and back, to their feeding groimd daily ; the cold, added to their change of 
diet, was trying to their constitutions, and the damage which was done in a few 
weeks at the commencement of the campaign from these causes, which were 
evident, and from other causes, which may not have been so clear, materially 
affected the movements of the Force later on." (With the Kuram Field Force, by 
Major Colquhoim, p. 150.) 

^ " Our line of conuiiunications was constantly harassed by raiders, convoys 
were continually threatened, outposts fu-ed into and telegraph wires cut. The 
smallness of my force made it difficult for me to deal with these troubles, so I 
applied to the Commander-in-Chief for the wing of the 72nd Highlanders left at 
Kohat and the 5th Pimjab Cavalry at Thai to be ordered to join me at Kuram." 
(Forty-One Years in India, p. 154.) 


and sixty-five mules/ at Hazir Pir, and had completed the changes in 
the distribution of the troops to be left behind in the Kuram, rendered 
necessary by the withdrawal of a large part of its garrison. 



No. 1 Mountain Battery. 

No. 2 Mountain Battery. 

1 Squadron 10th Hussars. 

3 Troops 5tli Bengal Cavalry. 

200 men of the 72nd Highlanders. 

21st Punjab Infantry. 

28th Punjab Infantry. 

JANUARY, 1879 


3 Guns F.A. Royal Horse Artillery. 
1 Troop 5th Pvmjab Cavalry. 
1 Company 8th Foot. 
Wing 29th Punjab Infantry. 

Hazib Pir 
3 Giuis F.A. Royal Horse Artillery. 
3 Troops 12th Bengal Cavalry. 
1 Company 8th Foot. 
Wing 29th Punjab Infantry. 

Darwaza Pass 
23rd Pioneers road-making between Kiu-am Forts and Hazir 

Fort Kuram 
1 Troop 12th Bengal Cavalry. 
1 Company 72nd Highlanders. 
5th Gurkhas. 

1 " Total Regimental Carriage, which included sick and non-effective 
attached to the Kuram Field Force on January 1, 1879 : 1257 camels, and 1169 
mules." (Assistant Adjutant-General's Return.) Of these, 539 camels and 556 
mules were absorbed by the Khost Expedition. 


Peiwab Kotal and Vicinity 
3 Guns C-3 Royal Artillery. 
1 Squadron l'2th Bengal Cavalry. 
Wing 8th Foot. 

3 Companies 72nd Highlanders. 
1 Company Sappers and Miners. 
Total strength : 5,694 Officers and Men, and 6 gims. 

No maps of Khost, or of the district lying between it and the Kuram, 
were in existence,^ but from Native sources it had been ascertained 
that the distance between the starting-point and the goal of the 
expedition was only thirty-five miles, divided into four stages : — 

Hazir Pir to Jaji Maidan 11 miles. 

Jaji Maidan to Balk 10 „ 

Balk to Khubi 6 

Khubi to Matun 8 „ 

and Captain F. S. Carr, who had reconnoitred the road for fifteen 

miles, reported that it ran through fairly open country, and was 

practicable for Cavalry. No organized resistance was expected on 

the way, and Mahomed Akram Khan, the Afghan Governor of Khost, 

had signified his readiness to hand over the administration and the 

revenue records of the valley to General Roberts as soon as the latter 

could take charge of them, in return for an assurance that he himself 

should be free either to return at once to Kabul, or to take up his 

residence in India till the war should have come to an end. 

Preceded by a squadron of the 10th Hussars with flanking parties 

furnished by the 5th Punjab Cavalry, the troops designed to add 

Khost to the British Empire, left Hazir Pir, at 9 a.m. on the 2nd of 

January, 1879, and pitched their camp early in the afternoon in the 

rice-fields that surround the cluster of villages known as Jaji Maidan — 

the plain of the Jajis — whose inhabitants brought in plentiful supplies 

of milk, fowls, etc. 

^ " The Khost country had till this time been represented on the map by a 
blank space. The streams which ran into the Kuram River at Hazir Pir were 
just marked at then embouchures as the roads by which the Amir's Sirdars went 
to collect the revenue." (Major Colquhoun, p. 181.) 


The second day's march proved more trying : first, a network 
of small irrigation-canals so hamj)ered and hindered the movements 
of the transport that it was noon before the rear-guard got clear of the 
camping ground ; next, followed a long, steep, slippery descent, 
strewn with boulders and cut by water-courses, where the ice lay five 
to six inches thick ; and, beyond this, the valley was shut in to the 
south, by a belt of rugged hills, four miles in depth, the path through 
which was so rough and broken that the 23rd Pioneers, who had been 
temporarily withdrawn from road-making in the Darwaza Pass, to 
smooth and widen the track leading into Khost, had hard work to 
render it practicable for camels. 

Hearing on the northern side of this belt that Mangals had been 
seen in the neighbourhood, and feeling sure that it would be impossible 
to get the whole of his Force through the passes before dark, Roberts 
parked his supply-convoy near the village of Dhani, and leaving the 
rear-guard to protect it through the night, moved cautiously forward 
with the main body. No opposition was met with, and the troops, 
having threaded their way through the hills, passed down a wide 
drainage channel to Balk, a group of villages like those at Jaji 
Maidan, situated in a perfectly flat, cultivated plain. Here, there was 
a day's halt to give time for tb.e supply-convoy to come up, and to 
rest the camels, which were already in miserable plight.^ During this 
halt, a Non-commissioned Officer of the 28th Punjab Infantry was 
murdered within fifty yards of the camp sentries. The murderer 
escaped, but, fortunately for the villagers, there was strong reason to 
identify him with a man who, sometime before, had been flogged at 

^ " On the next day, the 4th, we were obhged to halt, owing to the done-up 
condition of the baggage-animals, and to allow the convoy and troops left behind 
the evening before to come up. When these arrived, which was about noon, the 
camels looked totally unfit to go another step, and a good many died the same 
night." (Surgeon R. Gillham-Thomsett's Kohat, Kuram and Khost, p. IGl.) 
The same writer mentions having seen " lovely, fair children m Balk." 


Hazir Pir, and who, quite recently, had been heard to threaten to 
avenge the deaths of four Natives, hanged under revolting circum- 
stances for killing some camp-followers in the Darwaza Pass.^ 

On the 5th, the march was resumed, troops and baggage moving 
on a broad front, through open country, to the Kam Khost River, 
which, owing to the absence of the winter rains, they had little diffi- 
culty in crossing. At Khubi, on the southern bank, where the Force 
halted for the night. General Roberts and Colonel Waterfield, his 
political adviser, had an interview with the Governor of Khost, who 
came to renew in person the promises already made by him in writing. 
Next morning the Force marched for Matun in three columns, and, 
at the outset, in open order, the Infantry stretching right across a 
flat boggy plain ^ three miles in width ; then, as the valley contracted, 
drawing closer together, till, on arriving at the foot of a low range of 
hills, pierced by a track scarce wide enough to admit of the passage 
of laden beasts in single file, a complete change of formation became 
necessary. Beyond these hills, the road descended into the rich and 
peaceful Khost Valley, with its terraced rice-fields, irrigated by 
numerous channels drawn from the streams that flow down into it 
from the surrounding mountains,^ and dotted with pretty, clean, 

1 " Four of the prisoners were hanged, and the fiftli, who was proved to be 
a milder offender, was doomed to be an eye-witness of the scene, and then 
stripped and horse-whipped. It was, indeed, a horrible sight ; there stood 
the gallows — an unfinished one surely, but looking, perhaps, more grim in its 
simpUcity than would be a better made one. In front and beneath the gallows 
were dug graves for the reception of the culprits ; in fact, they were actually 
being made under their very eyes." The unfinished structvare gave way, and only 
two of the men were hanged. " The other two actually got up and staggered 
about, and, amidst struggling and groaning, were brained by the Provost- 
Sergeant." (Ibid. p. 129.) 

2 " I saw two or three horses with their riders sink suddenly down for three 
or four feet deep and have the greatest difficulty in getting up again." (Ibid. p. 

3 "On arriving at the summit of the last hill, a beautiful view of the Khost 
Valley lay beneath us, which contrasted well with the surrounding mountains. 


whitewashed villages ; a smiling scene, pleasant to look upon, but 
with fever lurking in the fertile, water-logged ground.^ 

Whilst the troops halted to allow the baggage to come up, the 
General, accompanied by his Political Officer, Colonel Waterfield 
and his Staff, galloped on to Matun, where the Governor formally 
surrendered to him the dilapidated, unsanitary fort — a square enclosure 
with circular bastions at the corners, connected by curtain-walls a 
hundred feet long. 

With the fulfilment of his own engagements, Mahomed Akram's 
power to serve the new Government of Khost was exhausted, and he 
had to warn the British General that the inhabitants of the valley, 
though peaceable enough when left to themselves, might be forced 
into resistance by their warlike neighbours, whom he knew to be 
gathering in the hills, attracted by the smallness of the British Force, 
which they believed to have " been delivered into their hands." ^ 
Roberts's personal observations confirmed the ex-Governor's warnings, 
so far as the uncertain temper of the people of Khost was concerned — 
he had noticed that many Maliks refrained from waiting on him till 
sent for, and that some of those who had come out to meet him had 
asked leave to return to their villages ; » and though, as yet, no armed 
hillmen had been sighted, he knew by this time enough of their ways 
to be aware that there might be thousands of them close at hand, for, 

The valley indeed looked very snug and peaceful. ... As we descended into 
the valley signs of agriculture became very apparent. . . . Rice ... is growTi 
plentifully in the Khost district, and the inhabitants lay out the ground in tiers, 
one below the other, so that it can be well supplied with water by a stream 
running along the border of each tier. . . . The little wliite cottages, garnished 
as they were with cherry trees, looked uncommonly pretty in the distance." 
(Ibid. pp. 158-59.) 

^ " I discovered that there was water very near the surface of the ground 
upon which we had formed our camp. . . . This, doubtless, was the cause to a 
great extent of the malarious diseases which prevailed among the troops during 
our stay in the Khost Valley." (Ibid. p. 171.) 

2 Major Colquhoun, p. 189; Forty-One Years in India, vol. ii., p. 159. 

3 Despatch dated Matun, Khost Valley, Jan. 10, 187'J. 


in the mountains that surround Khost, dwell some of the most formid- 
able of the Independent Tribes — Mangals, with whom he had already 
made acquainance in the Sappari Pass, who could put some eight 
thousand fighting men into the field ; Darwesh Khels, a section of the 
powerful Waziri tribe ; and Judrans, a smaller people, but so uncouth 
and savage that Elphinstone had described them as more like bears 
than men. 

In view of the grave uncertainties that overhung the fast approach- 
ing night, where to place the British camp was an anxious question. 
The fort had, for tlie moment, to be left in the hands of the ex-Governor 
and his two hundred native levies, whose loyalty was not so assured 
as to allow of taking up a position under its walls, and, in its neighbour- 
hood, there was no good site. The imperative need of a large supply 
of water determined the one finally selected, which was defective 
from the fact that the southern side of the camp would rest on the 
edge of a deep, wide nullah, where the enemy might collect unobserved. 
Whilst the work of pitching and fortifying the camp was being pressed 
forward, Akram Khan sent in word that the Mangals were assembling 
in large numbers ; that some of the Khost people had joined them ; 
and that an attack on the British position might be looked for after 
dark. On receipt of this message the British General sent for the 
headmen of all the adjacent villages, and curtly informed them that 
they and their fellow-villagers would incur severe punishment if any 
hillmen were found next day within their boundaries. The terrified 
Maliks hurried away to see what they could do to avert the evils 
hanging over their homes, and returned before midnight bringing word 
that the Mangals had promised to leave the valley, and offering them- 
selves as hostages for the good faith of their own people.^ Their 
presence was some guarantee for the safety of the camp, and every 
precaution had been taken for its protection — rifle-pits dug, sentries 
doubled, strong pickets placed on either flank, each with two guns ; 
1 Despatch, January 10, 1879. 


nevertheless, the Infantry lay down with their arms beside them, and 
the Cavalry stood all night at their saddled horses' heads.^ 

Next morning Roberts sent out some of the Maliks to ascertain 
the position of affairs, and the news that they brought back was very 
disquieting : — the Mangals who, the previous evening, had pledged 
themselves to leave the valley, had, indeed, started for their homes, 
but, on meeting crowds of their kinsfolk streaming down from the 
hiUs, had turned back, and all Khost, with the exception of the 
villages nearest to the British position, was now swarming with armed 
men. At the time, it seemed strange that the camp should have 
remained unmolested during the night, but it was discovered later 
that, trusting in their numerical superiority, and believing that by 
daylight they could more easily compass the total destruction of the 
British Force, the tribesmen had dehberately put off attacking till 
morning ; - when Roberts, who was not the man to wait inactive 
whilst dangers thickened round him, forestalled them by himself 
assuming the offensive. 

The General's first step was to despatch a troop of the 5th Punjab 
Cavalry under Major J. C. Stewart, accompanied by Captain F. S. Carr, 
to test by a reconnaissance the truth of the Malik's report. Three 
miles from camp, the party came upon fifteen hundred to two thousand 
tribesmen, and as in the face of so formidable a body there was nothing 
to be done but to retire, Stewart having sent off a messenger to ask for 
assistance fell back slowly, till the appearance of Hugh Gough, at 
the head of two hundred and fifty troopers, turned the tables on the 
Mangals, who, quickly dispersing, made a rush for the hills. The 
Cavalry, admirably handled, gallantly followed them up,^ and seizing 

^ Telegram to Standard, dated January 7th, 1879. 

^ Desaptch of January 10, 1879. 

3 " A troop of the 5th Punjab Cavalry made a brilliant charge up a hill in 
the centre of the enemy's position, and rapidly dismounting, commenced to 
harass them in their retreat. This charge, which was personally led by Major B. 
Williams, struck me as one of the most gallant episodes in CavalryVarfare I had 
ever seen." (Brigadier-General H. Cough's Report, dated 9th January, 1879.) 


commanding positions with dismounted men, tenaciously held their 
ground, till the arrival of Colonel J. Hudson, with the 28th Punjab 
Infantry, and of Major Swinley's mountain-guns, compelled the tribes- 
men to retreat to still more inaccessible heights. Acting in accordance 
with instructions received from General Roberts, Gough at once with- 
drew the whole Force, covering its slow, steady retirement by the fire 
of the mountain-guns, and holding his Cavalry in readiness to charge 
should the enemy venture down into open ground. 

Wliilst one body of Mangals was drawing away a large part of the 
British Force, other bodies had stolen so secretly into the hitherto 
unoccupied villages that no one in camp suspected their proximity ; 
even the hurried return of some camel drivers, who had been set 
upon, robbed of their camels, and one of their number killed, only half 
a mile from the British position, awakened so little suspicion of the 
true state of things that, about 1 p.m., Roberts rode out with his Staff 
to see how Gough had fared, leaving Colonel Barry Drew in charge 
with orders to stand on the defensive till he, the General, should 
return. Hardly had Roberts and his party disappeared from view, 
than large numbers of armed men ^ were seen to issue from the villages 
lying north-west of the British position, and to gather in dense masses 
in front of the nearest of them. The troops remaining in camp after 
the departure of the 2Sth Punjab Infantry and practically of the whole 
of the Cavalry, were too few in number to admit of any being held in 
reserve, but each side of the camp was adequately protected — the 
eastern, by a wing of the 21st Punjab Infantry and two guns. No. 1 
Mountain Battery, under Major F. H. Collis, the southern, by the 
remaining guns of the Mountain Battery and the other wing of the 
21st, under Captain J. G. T. Carruthers, the northern and western sides, 
by the 72nd Highlanders, under Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. J. Clarke 
— and the enemy, though bold and wary, never had a chance of deliver- 

^ Four thousand, according to Sir Hugh Gough. See article entitled " Old 
Memories," in Pall Mall Magazine for June, 1898, p. 207. 



ing the intended assault. On the east, Captain Morgan's guns were 
quickly at work dropping shells into their midst, and as they streamed 
away southward. Captain Kennedy, with a handful of troopers, 
dashed out to cut them off, but was pulled up by the nullah that lay 
between him and them, and had to recognize that he was too weak to 
attempt to recapture the stolen camels, which could be seen moving 
away in a northerly direction. Meantime, a general fusillade had broken 
out from the Afghan Cavalry Lines beside the fort. Protected by the 
fire of the guns, a detachment of Highlanders and of Punjab Infantry, 
commanded by Captain N. J. Spens, soon drove the Mangals from 
their cover, but only for them to find fresh shelter in villages just out 
of range. The fort, so far as could be seen, was not occupied by the 
enemy, but from its roof the Governor's levies watched the fight, 
ready, should the attack on the British camp succeed, to come to 
the aid of the tribesmen, with whom they were suspected of having 
communicated during the preceding night by means of vivid 
flames, which, from time to time, had been seen to burst forth on the 

At 2.30 p.m., the General, having returned to find his camp intact, 
but the Mangals still in possession of the ground on three sides of it, 
gave orders to carry all the villages lying to the east and south of the 
British position, and to plunder and burn them as a punishment to 
their inhabitants for having admitted the hillmen within their walls ; 
but to spare those to westward, which had not been occupied by the 
enemy, and where, earty in the day, camp-followers had been warned 
of danger.^ Barry Drew, at the head of the 72nd Highlanders, and 
a wing of the 21st Punjab Infantry, drove out the defenders of the 
eastern villages and followed them up to the foot of the hills, three 
miles away, whilst two guns and the other wing of the 21st cleared 
the southern villages, from the back of one of which a large body of 
tribesmen was seen to issue. Roberts instantly ordered Captain 
* Despatch of January 10th, 1879. 


J. C. Stewart, who, -svith thirty men of the 5th Punjab Cavalry, had 
accompanied him back to camp, to charge, and, in answer to a question 
put to him by that Officer, directed him not to burden himself with 
prisoners. The sowars, dashing forward, overtook the enemy in a 
nullah, and drove them, with a loss of some sixty killed and wounded, 
up its broad, stony bed, till, in a village on its further bank, the 
fugitives found temporary shelter, and, opening fire on their pursuers, 
obliged them to withdraw out of range. The respite, however, was 
short ; reinforcements of Infantry were already coming up, at sight 
of which the hillmen made a rush for another village beyond a second 
ravine. An attempt to intercept them proved partially successful. 
Eighty or ninety, cut off from their comrades, ran back to the refuge 
they had just deserted, and, after considerable hesitation, were induced 
to lay down their arms and give themselves up. The Military Officers 
on the spot, would have let them go, but Colonel Waterfield, discovering 
that they were Waziris, decided to have them taken into camp, where 
Roberts placed them in charge of the 21st Punjab Infantry, to be 
kept in captivity till ransomed by their tribe.^ In addition to these 
prisoners, the enemy had, at least, eighty men killed and wounded in 
the course of the day, while the British casualties were only three 
killed and four wounded — an extraordinary disproportion ; ^ but when 
Major Colquhoun, in his narrative of the Khost Expedition, declare^ 
that " not a man turned on the small handful of troops who were 
carrying fire and sword into their villages," he misses the true 
explanation of the tribesmen's apparent cowardice. It was just 
because the villages were not their own, that Mangals and Waziris — 
the latter, perhaps, the bravest of all the Pathan tribes — abandoned 
them to their fate, and recognizing that their attack upon the British 

^ Parliamentary Paper of 17th Juno, 1879, proceedings of Major- General 
Roberts in Khost on 7th and 8th of January, 1879. 

2 " Our casualties were very small indeed, which was no doubt due to the 
inferior weapons of the enemy, and to the longer range of ours." (Kohat, Kuram 
and Khost, p. 190, by Surgeon R. Gillam Thomsett.) 


camp had failed, hurried back to the hills to devise fresh schemes for 
driving its occupants from the valley. The people into whose homes 
fire and sword were carried, were really men of unwarlike disposition 
and habits, accustomed to look to the Afghan troops quartered in 
their midst, for protection against the very tribesmen who, having 
coerced them into a contest with their new rulers, now left them to 
bear the consequences of their weakness. There were no Afghan 
troops to defend them now ; so they could but watch from afar, whilst 
eleven of the pretty villages that had charmed the eyes of the British 
soldier as he marched down into Kliost only the day before, were 
burned to the ground, and all their treasured possessions, all their 
means of subsistence, " bullocks, sheep, goats, fowls, ponies, gun- 
powder, old-fashioned matlocks and swords of every Asiatic descrip- 
tion," ^ were carried off by camp-followers, to whom General Roberts 
had given leave to take whatever they could snatch before the torch 
was applied to the houses, and, in some instances, by soldiers to whom, 
apparently, such permission had not been accorded.^ 

Before dark the troops had been withdrawn to camp, the outposts 
strengthened, and a strong in-lying picket posted in readiness to 
proceed to their aid at a moment's notice. There was, however, so 
little chance that the enemy would renew the attack that night, and 
the brilliant moonlight and the glare from the burning villages made 
it so impossible for them to approach unnoticed, that all who were 
not on duty, could lie down to sleep with easy minds. ^ 

* Special Correspondent of tlie Standard, dated Matun, January 11th, 1879. 

^ " VVlien the first village had been occupied and set alight, the camp- 
followers, who had been on the watch for plunder, swooped down upon them 
and carried off whatever was portable, though there was nothing left in them 
to speak of." {With the Kuram Field Force, p. 199, by Major Colquhoun.) 

^ "The night that set in on that day of fighting and devastation was one of 
wonderful beauty. The moon shone in a blue sky, freckled with rippling snow- 
clouds. On the broad plain around the camp, villages were burning luridly. 
Sometimes a roof fell in, when sprays of fire shot high into the air. Altogether, 
the scene was one as suggestive of the horrors of war as remarkable for its terrible 
beauty." (Letter in Standard from " One who was Present.") 


Certain questions addressed by Mr. Anderson, M.P., to the Under- 
Secretary of State for India, on the 17th of February, gave General 
Roberts the opportunity of stating the grounds which he held to justify 
the order given to Stewart to refuse quarter to the enemy on the after- 
noon of the 8th of January, and the looting and burning of the villages 
in the neighbourhood of Matun.^ Those grounds may be summed up 
in the words — " miHtary necessity " ; the position of the troops under 
his command in Khost, so he alleged, having been such that he could 
not afford to take prisoners, and was obliged to inflict " speedy and 
severe punishment " on " the tribes who had dared to organize an 
attack on his camp," and to plunder and destroy " villages which had 
harboured the enemy, and from which hostile shots had been fired." - 
This defence must be rejected as invalid, for the barbarities it sought 
to excuse cannot be shown to have lessened the hostility of the tribes, 
and they certainly destroyed any chance there may have existed, of 
retaining some kind of shadowy hold upon the valley till circumstances 
should permit of its effective occupation. General Roberts's reputation, 
however, would gain nothing by its acceptance, for it implied either 
that he did not know before entering on the Expedition that " the 
strength of his column was insignificant in comparison of the numbers 
that might be arrayed against it," and that " it would be separated 
by many miles of difficult country from its nearest supports " ^ — in 
which case he had neglected the first duty of a Commander in failing 
to acquaint himself with the conditions under which his projected 
operations would have to be conducted — or, else, that knowing what 
lay before him, he deliberately chose to run risks so great that, in his 
opinion, they must absolve him from the necessity of observing the 
honourable traditions of the Army to which he belonged. Those 
traditions dated from the days when the East India Company was 

1 Parliamentary Paper of 17th June, 1879, regarding proceeding in Khoot. 
^ Ibid. 3 Ibid. 


gradually extending its authority over a vast country, inhabited by 
an enormous population, differing from their new rulers in colour, 
customs, laws, and religion. The soldier-statesmen who wrought 
what, viewed as a whole, seems little less than a miracle, never forgot 
" the enormous disparity between their forces and those that might be 
arrayed against them," and always sought to disarm the hostility 
of the peoples with whose Governments they came in collision, by 
making the burden of war fall as lightly as possible on all non-com- 
batants. In the campaigns against Sultan Tippoo Sahib, at the end 
of the eighteenth century, the troops of the East India Company not only 
abstained from inflicting injury on the unhappy peasantry of Mysore, 
but protected them, by force when necessary, against the lawlessness 
and cruelty of the contingent furnished by the Company's ally, the 
Nizam of Hyderabad. " A reputation for justice and humanity 
preceding an Army, is of more consequence than an advanced guard 
of 10,000 men," ^ wrote John Malcolm in commenting on this episode 
in Indian history ; and Malcolm's friend, Arthur Wellesley, to whom 
much of the credit of winning this -reputation for the Company's Forces 
was due, carried faith in the same great truth back with him to Europe, 
and acted on it when, after a five years' struggle to free Spain from 
French domination, he followed Soult's retreating forces into France. 
The General Orders of England's greatest Commander teem with 
instructions as to the conduct of his troops now that they, in their 
turn, were operating in an enemy's country ; instructions based as 
much on enlightened concern for the safety and well-being of his Army, 
as on a generous recognition of the rights of a vanquished people. 

The higher code of military ethics which the East had given to the 
West in the person of Wellington, the West gave back to the East 
in his example and influence. A certain William Nott, who, as 
an unknown officer, had made "a perfect study of the Wellington 

^ Kaye's Life of tiir John Malculm, G.C.B., vol. i. p. 23. 


Despatches," ^ came, in due course, to hold first a subordinate, and 
later an independent command in the first Afghan war, and, in both 
positions, never deviated from " the humane principles of conduct 
which had invariably animated the mighty Duke." ^ Standing by 
them steadily, undeterred by misrepresentation and censure, for four 
long years, he reaped at last his just reward in the tardily 
bestowed confidence of the Indian Government, in the grateful 
affection of the people of Kandahar, and in the consciousness that he 
returned to India with a reputation alike free from the stain of cruelty 
and the shadow of failure.^ 

Followdng closely in Nott's steps, John Jacob, whose life presented 
the world with the rare spectacle of a man of great military genius 
entirely free from the lust of personal distinction, insisted on applying 
the rules of civilized warfare to the savage and troublesome tribes of 
Sind, and their no less savage and troublesome neighbours. Punish- 
ment, with Jacob, never degenerated into revenge, and he scorned the 
cowardly method of striking at the guilty through the innocent. 
Even when pursuing a marauding band across the frontier, he suffered 
no looting of villages, no destruction of houses, or trees, or crops ; 
every unarmed or unresisting man was certain of his protection, and 
he, too, reaped his reward in the rapid pacification of a Province, and 
the devoted attachment of its inhabitants. 

Trained under Wellington in the Peninsula, Charles Napier, as 
Commander-in-Chief in India, held no less staunchly than Nott to 
the wise and humane principles of his great Chief. The burning of 
some villages, during a punitive Expedition in the winter of 1849-50, 

^ Memoirs of Sir William Nott, G.C.B., by J. H. Stocqueler, vol. i. p. 63. 

2 Ibid. p. 2G7. 

3 " I put do%vn rebellion, and quelled ail resistance to the British power ; 
in spite of the fears and weakness of my superiors. By mild persuasive meeisures 
I induced the whole population to return to the cultivation of their lands, and 
to live in peace. I left them as friends and on friendly terms. On my leaving 
Kandahar . . . my soldiers and the citizens were seen embracing." (Letter of 
Sir W. Nott to the Adjutant-General, dated April 4th, 1843.) 


drew from him the following official Memorandum, addressed to Sir 
Colin Campbell : — 

" It is with surprise and regret I have seen in Lieutenant-Colonel 
Bradshaw's report of his march into the Eusofzie country that villages 
have been destroyed by the troops. 

" I desire to know why a proceeding at variance with humanity 
and contrary to the usages of civilized warfare, came to be adopted. 
I disapprove of such cruelties, so unmilitary and so injurious to the 
discipline and honour of the Army. Should the troops be again called 
upon to act, you will be pleased to issue orders that war is to be made 
on men ; not upon defenceless women and children, by destroying 
their habitations and leaving them to perish without shelter from 
the inclemency of the winter. I have heard of no outrages committed 
by the wild mountaineers that could call for conduct so unmilitary 
and so impolitic." ^ 

The officer to whom Napier forwarded this Memorandum, was 
to remain faithful to its teachings under the strongest possible 
temptation to repudiate them. The outrages committed by the 
mutineers of 1857, on British women and children, might easily 
have been made the excuse for terrible acts of retaliation; but 
Lord Clyde never allowed indignation to betray him into injustice, 
or to blind him to the truth that only by giving the people no 
cause for siding with the revolted soldiery, could he hope for a 
peace which should leave British authority still supreme in India. 
Knowing human nature too well to believe that fear is the strongest 
lever by which it can be moved, making generous allowance for the 
instinct of race, the promptings of family affection and the pressure 
of circumstance, he avoided the mistake of trying to shorten the life- 
and-death struggle in wliicli he was engaged, by striking terror into 

^ Defects Civil and Military of the Indian Government, by General Sir William 
Napier, K.C.B., pp. 114-5. Initials in the Memorandum. It transpired 
that these villages were destroyed by the Political Officer. — H.B.H. 


the souls of the villagers who, willingly or unwiUingly, were daily 
harbouring and befriending the mutineers. No defenceless towns or 
villages were burned or plundered by his orders, no fields laid waste, 
no cattle slaughtered, no bullock-carts confiscated, no women and 
children driven from their homes ; and, as a consequence of this 
resolute limiting of the evils of the war to its original authors and their 
active abettors, when hostilities ceased, the whole country resumed 
its normal aspect ; and bitterness against their alien rulers, on the score 
of the severity with which they had put down a military revolt, soon 
died out of the hearts of the Indian peasantry. The foregoing 
examples might be multiphed indefinitely, but enough have been 
adduced to prove that in the rules and practice of the Anglo-Indian 
Army, prior to 1879, Christian ethics, as applied to war, had touched 
their high-water mark, and in lowering the standard of humanity 
upheld by a long line of illustrious soldiers. General Roberts put back 
the clock of progress for the whole world. 

The Retirement from Khost 


Reconnoitring parties that were out very early the day after the 
attack on the British camp, scouring the valley for seven or eight 
miles around Matun, discovered no traces of the enemy ; yet, rumours 
of so disquieting a nature were afloat, that General Roberts felt it 
necessary to order the construction of shelter trenches in advance of 
his position, to give time for the troops to fall in in the event of a 
night-attack. None was made, but there were several scares, one of 
which ended in a strange tragedy.^ 

Soon after dark a false alarm turned out the troops, who began 
firing on all sides. In an instant the captive Waziris were on their 
feet, struggling to free themselves from the ropes that bound them 
together, and to wrest their rifles from the sentries. The Native Officer 
in command of the guard, fearing that his men would be overpowered, 
shouted to the prisoners, in Pushtu, to keep quiet, or he would shoot 
them down. The warning was unheeded, and the order to fire or to 
use the bayonet had to be given. Nine men were killed and thirteen 
wounded, four of them mortally, and in the darkness it was difficult 

^ " We had no end of scares about night- attacks, which is a favourite mode 
of fighting with these people. For myself I have a horror of night- attacks, 
all confusion and bother, and often firing into friends as well as foes. They are 
very trying even to the best and most disciplined troops. On one occasion, in 
the middle of dinner, a sudden alarm took place. The troops turned out in 
a moment, and there were volleys as if 30,000 Mangals were on us. There was 
really no attack and the firing soon ceased." (" Old Memories," by Sir Hugh 
Gough, Pall Mall Magazine, June 1898, pages 208, 209.) 



to separate the uninjured from the injured, the living from the dead. 
As soon as possible, however, the wounded were placed in a roughly- 
improvised shelter, where Surgeon W. E. Griffiths, of the 21st Punjab 
Infantry, and Surgeon H.Cotton, of the 72nd Highlanders, did all in their 
power to save life and mitigate suffering. In the confusion attendant 
on this unfortunate occurrence, a friendly Chief, returning home with 
his followers after paying a visit to the General, was fired upon and 
wounded. It is probable that the shots which had alarmed the camp 
and led to both these regrettable incidents, had been fired for the 
purpose of creating a state of panic favourable to the escape of the 
prisoners, but the good discipline of the troops frustrated the plan, 
and the only men to suffer by it were those whom it was intended 
to help, for a Court of Inquiry held to investigate the unfortunate 
affair, exonerated the Native Officer from blame : he had warned the 
Waziris before firing on them, and he only did liis duty in using force 
to prevent their escape.^ 

On the 9th, foraging parties brought in large quantities of grain 
and firewood from the ruined and deserted villages round Matun. On 
the same day, a Non-commissioned Officer and eight men of the 
5th Punjab Cavalry rejoined the main body, after a very chequered 
experience. They had been left, with a view to protecting the road 
to Hazir Pir, at a village named Yakubi, whose headmen _,had under- 
taken to protect them. So long as there was no temptation to break it, 
this promise was kept ; but during the attack on the British position, 
the Httle party was overpowered and disarmed, plundered and stripped. 
A few hours later, when the light of the blazing villages proclaimed the 
victory of the British, the villagers repented of their hasty act, released 
the captives, and restored to them their arms and personal possessions. 
The Non-commissioned Officer in command immediately seized two 
Mahks, who had been forward in inciting their people to violence, and, 
on withdrawing from llic village, carried lliem off to camp, where 

^ Roberts's despatch, 10th January, 1879. 


they were tried by a Military Court, and sentenced to seven years' 
transportation, whilst a third Malik, who had done his best to protect 
the outpost, was rewarded. 

During the evening of the 7th, Roberts had caused the Maliks, 
who the previous night had placed themselves in his hands, to be 
brought before him, and, in full view of their burning villages, had 
reproached them with having brought their misfortunes on themselves, 
and expressed the hope that they would now see the futility of attempt- 
ing to withstand disciplined troops, however small their numbers. His 
account of the transaction, put forward in an Official Despatch written 
three days later, followed the same lines. The villages had been 
destroyed " as a punishment to the inhabitants for having given 
shelter to his assailants." It had been " severe, but the lesson was 
certainly needed," and he expected that " its results " would be 
" satisfactory." " There was evidence that the combination against 
him (me) was widespread, and if a severe example had not been made 
of those who fought against him (me) on the 7th of January, the ill- 
feeling would have extended. Now, the headmen of the neighbouring 
villages had come in, and the remainder were reported to be anxious 
to submit." So satisfied was the British General that the punishment 
inflicted was a certain guarantee of future good order and peace in 
the valley, that he could end his Despatch with the assurance that it 
would now be safe to leave " an adequate Force " — defined as half a 
Mountain Battery, two troops of Native Cavalry, and a regiment of 
Native Infantry — in Khost, provided that the troops in the Kuram 
were maintained in sufficient strength to keep open its long line of 

In accordance with the views expressed in this Despatch, the Native 
levies were now disbanded, the Ex-Governor and his attendants placed 
in tents, and, when the fort had been thoroughly cleansed and stocked 
with food and ammunition, all the sick and such of the Waziri prison- 

1 Ibid. 


ers as had not been ransomed, were moved thither, Major Collis 
appointed Commandant, with Mr. Archibald Christie, C.S., as Political 
Officer, and the 21st Punjab Infantry and a troop of the 5th Punjab 
Cavahy, for a garrison. These arrangements completed, Roberts 
struck his camp, at 8 a.m., on the 13th of January, and entered on the 
subsidiary work of the Expedition — the exploring and surveying of the 
Khost Valley. In three days' time, he visited the whole of the western 
side of the valley, without encountering any opposition, though, in 
consequence of rumours that the Mangals intended making a night- 
attack, measures of precaution had to be taken on the evening of the 
14th. On the return of the Force to Matun, the camp was established 
on a fresh site, nearer the fort, and on the southern, instead of on the 
northern, side of the watercourse on which its water supply depended. 
As soon as it had become evident that the whole of the Expedition- 
ary Force would be detained in Khost for a longer period than had 
been planned for, orders for a second fifteen days' supply had been 
sent to Hazir Pir ; and, on the 18th of January, the expected convoy, 
escorted by the 23rd Pioneers, a party of the 5th Gurkhas, and a draft 
of recruits from the 72nd Highlanders, arrived in camp. The Gurkhas 
returned the following morning, taking with them all the camels still 
with the Force ; but the greater number of those whose loads had been 
consumed, had already left on the 16th, in charge of a party of armed 
Turis, sent from the Kuram to bring them back. The same day. 
Captain Woodthorpe, accompanied by Captain Wynne, the Super- 
intendent of Army Signalling, and escorted by the 28tli Punjab 
Infantry, began a survey of the southern side of the valley. In order 
to connect his operations with the great Trigonometrical Survey of 
India, Woodthorpe obtained leave from a Waziri Chief, Kiput by name, 
to ascend the Lazam Peak, six thousand four hundred feet high — from 
the summit of which Wj^nne, having succeeded in opening heliographic 
communication with Bunnu, received from Colonel Godby, connnanding 
the Punjab Frontier Force, who chanced to be there, the news of the 


Mahsud Waziris' raid into British territory and the burning of Tank. 
The bearing of this raid upon his own position was not lost upon 
General Roberts. With one subdivision of the Waziris he had already 
come into colHsion, and he knew that in Dawar, the valley lying south 
of Khost, where the bulk of the population was of Waziri stock, a 
certain Mulla Adkar was busy preaching a Jehad. Other news of 
an alarming nature had been in his possession for some time. The 
Mangals and Jajis had taken advantage of the weakening of the Forces 
in the Kuram to threaten the Peiwar Kotal, an extensive position 
inadequately held by three guns and about a thousand men; and 
though the courage and coolness of Captain Rennick,^ the officer in 
command of the isolated, advanced post of Ali Khel, had averted the 
danger by giving Brigadier-General Thelwall time to bring up re- 
inforcements, there could be no certainty that it might not recur, and 
with more serious results, for, with the hundred and fifty men of the 
72nd Highlanders and the two hundred Gurldias already called up, 
Thelwall had exhausted the troops on whom he could draw in an 
emergency ; and the strength of every post, from Thai to the Peiwar 
Kotal, was steadily diminishing under the wasting inroads of disease. 
The same process of attrition was going on in the Kliost Force, 
where, to the fever and dysentery bred by the water-logged ground, 
the setting in of severe weather had now added pneumonia of a very 
acute type,2 while the causes that were predisposing the men to sick- 

^ Renniek, threatened by a very large force, first persuaded the villagers of 
Ali Khel to side with him, and then sent out their headmen to warn the enemy 
that he should certainly oppose their advance. This resolute attitude on the 
part of a single Englishman, backed by only a handful of Native troops, so 
amazed and disconcerted the Mangals that they allowed two days to slip by 
unused, and when, avoiding Ali Khel, they swarmed into the Harriab Valley and 
advanced in dense masses towards the Kotal, they found the garrison so fully 
prepared to receive them, that they dared not venture an attack, and dispersed 
as rapidly as they had assembled. — H.B.H. 

2 (a) Extracts from Surgeon R. Gillam-Thomsett's Journals, 15th January 
(p. 20G) : " The men now began to suffer a good deal from fever, neuralgia, 


ness of all sorts were telling in still greater degree on the transport- 
animals in both valleys. All these untoward circumstances were 
weighing on General Roberts's mind whilst engaged in carrying out 
the subsidiary objects of the Expedition ; j^et, he continued to cling 
to his scheme for the permanent occupation of Khost till the 
23rd of January, when reports reached him of a second great 
gathering of Tribesmen in the mountains bordering on that valley. 
The immediate danger was promptly met. A messenger was 
despatched to recall the 23rd Pioneers, who had been sent on in 
advance of the troops to improve the eastern road into the Kuram, 
by which they were to return to Hazir Pir ; ^ the camp was entrenched, 
so far as defective tools would permit, and further protected by a 
rampart of camel-saddles, piled one upon another and picketted down 
to the ground by ropes, whilst, during the night, star-shells were fired 
off at intervals ; but the safety thus secured was so evidently of a 
temporary nature, that there could be no further question of leaving 
a fourth part of the troops to continue a work which was taxing to 
the utmost the strength of the whole Force. A reconnaissance, made 
by Hugh Gough, revealed no large body of the enemy within six miles 
of the British position ; but the attitude of the people on the lower hill- 
slopes was unfriendly, and nowhere was there any sign of that willing- 

and chest complaints." 21st January (p. 210) : — " A great many of the men 
were knocked down with lung complaints, which proved fatal in many cases, 
especially among Natives." January 27th (p. 212) : — " In common with many 
others, the malarious influence of the Khost Valley had now begun to tell on me. 
... I really thought I was quite breaking up." January 30th (p. 215) : — " One 
soldier of the 10th Hussars died during the journey from lung complaint. Indeed, 
pneumonia was dreadfullj^ prevalent just at that time, and I believe the 21st 
Punjab Infantry and the 5th Punjab Cavalry suffered very much from it, the 
former regiment losing ten, the latter six men during the last three or four days 
we were in lihost." 

(6) " I believe more men died in Khost during our .short period of occupation 
than General Roberts had lost since we crossed the Kuram." (Special Corre- 
spondent of Standard, January 31.) 

^ The Pioneers had reached Hazir Pir before the messenger could overtake 


ness to submit to British authority whicli the General and tlie PoUtical 
Officer had expected to follow upon the punishment meted out to the 
villages lying around Matun. 

Unwilling, how^ever, to admit the failure of his costly enterprise, 
Roberts fell back upon a plan by which he hoped to be able to retain 
Khost for the British Empire, whilst putting an end to its occupation 
by British troops. A certain Sultan Jan, an Indian Civil Servant 
and, at the same time, a scion of the Saduzai Royal House, a man 
of distinguished manners and appearance, had arrived in camp on the 
22nd, summoned thither with a view to the eventuality which had now 
arisen. If any man could hold Khost without the aid of British troops, 
resting his authority simply on his personal influence, supported by a 
small body of Native levies— all Turis, for the people of the valley 
declined to enlist in it— which Captain Conolly had been organizing, 
that man was Sultan Jan, and him, therefore, Roberts now appointed 
Governor of the valley, to hold it until it could be brought more 
directly under British rule. The appointment once made, no time 
was lost in giving effect to the change of mihtary policy which it 
denoted, and, on the 25th, all the headmen of Khost appeared, by 
order, at Matun to be instructed in the new arrangements which recent 
occurrences had rendered necessary. Roberts's speech on this occasion 
was an echo of that which, two months earlier, he had addressed to 
the people of Kuram. It contained the same explanation of the 
causes of the war ; the same assurance that the British Government's 
quarrel was with the Amir, and not with his subjects;^ the same 
promises of religious toleration and non-interference in local customs 

1 " Maliks of Khost, you all know the reason of our coming here. It had 
nothing to do with the people of Afghanistan ; with them the British Government 
has been, and still is, at peace. Our quarrel is with the Amir, Shere AU alone 
and, with him, only because he was ill-advised enough to break off friendly 
relations which, for many years, had subsisted between him and the British 
and to throw himself into the hands of the Russians." (Letter of Special 
Correspondent of Standard, dated January 31st, 1879.) 


and affairs ; ^ the same picture of the blessings of peace and good 
government ; the same praise of British honesty and humanity ; ^ and if 
it differed from the earHer oration in that it announced the approaching 
evacuation of the valley, instead of its continued occupation by British 
troops, the difference was concealed under the threat of returning, at 
short notice, should the authority of the new ruler of Khost, Shazada 
Sultan Jan, be disputed, or attacked. 

The encomium passed by the General on British honesty and 
humanity must have sounded strange in the ears of men who had seen 
their own or their neighbours' houses looted and destroyed, and had 
suffered the loss of all their cattle and winter stores of grain ; ^ but the 
time and place were not favourable to the expression of dissent, and 
the submissive attitude of the audience confirmed Roberts's confidence 
in the stability of the Government he had so hastily set up. On 
leaving the durbar tent, to which only natives of Khost had been 
admitted, he addressed a few words to a group of hillmen gathered 
outside, who had come in, by invitation, to pay a visit to their late 
antagonists. The interview closed with the gift of a few rupees and 
of twenty sheep, on which the guests were feasted to the accompani- 
ment of the band of the 21st Punjab Infantry. 

The next morning, the order for the return of the Expeditionary 
Force to Kuram was issued, and the necessary preparations were 
pushed forward with cheerful alacrity, for, the excitement of novelty 
having worn off, the troops were eager to get back to somewhat 

^ " You have been assured that the British Government have no wish to 
molest you or interfere in any way with your Uberties, either social or religious. 

2 " Discipline has been well maintained among my troops, not a complaint 
having been made, and all supplies have been regularly paid for. In short, 
you have been treated with the greatest forbearance and kindness." (Ibid.) 

3 "I think the whole Valley of Khost and the surroimding tribes will remember 
our visit for some time to come, and the rough handling they have received will 
go far to ensure our safe return to Hazir Pir." {The Times Correspondent* 
14th February, 1879.) 



healthier and less trying conditions.^ A very different spirit, however, 
animated the Turi levies. With ever increasing anxiety and depression, 
they watched the activity prevaihng in camp, and when the Fort, 
with its stores of ammunition and grain, had been formally handed 
over to Sultan Jan, and there could no longer be any doubt that all 
the British troops were about to withdraw from the valley, they flatly 
refused to be left behind, and only by much persuasion, and the promise 
of increased pay were they at last induced to remain. 

On the morning of the 28th of January, the Force began its return 
march to Hazir Pir by the new route prepared for them by the Pioneers, 
and after crossing a rugged range of mountains, on the further side of 
whi^h the country proved to be much cut up by ravines and water- 
com-ses, encamped at Sabbri, a village twelve miles from Matun. 
Here, the next day was spent for the double object of reconnoitring 
the district and resting the camels, some of which, whilst grazing, were 
driven off by hillmen and only recovered after a sharp chase. That 
halt saved the hves of Sultan Jan and his Turi levies. The Mangals 
had lost no time in showing the kind of attention that the British 
nominee might expect to receive from them. They had gathered at 
once round Fort Matun in such numbers as left its little garrison 
no hope of defending it successfully,^ and had the retiring 
troops been two marches off, instead of only one, the messenger 
despatched to ask for assistance, would have arrived too late 
for a reheving force to regain the Fort before the threatened 
attack on it had been delivered. As it was, starting very early next 

1 " Nobody in the Khost Expedition regretted in the least that he was leaving 
the Khost Valley, and would never, in all probabiUty, see it again." (Special 
Correspondent of Standard, January 31st, 1879.) 

2 " The Shahzada's message spoke of 10,000 Mangals, or Jadrans, as 
assembled round Matun, and a few horu-s later. Captain Wynne, who had estab- 
lished a signalling-post on a peak from which he could see the whole valley, 
signalled to Barry Drew that it was black with Mangals." (Special Correspondent 
of Standard, January 3l8t, and Times Correspondent, March 7th, 1879.) 


day, Roberts, with No. 2 Mountain Battery, one Squadron lOtli 
Hussars, one Squadron 5th Punjab Cavalry, a small detachment 
72nd Highlanders, and the 28th Punjab Infantry, penetrated once 
again into the Khost Valley, which by this time was swarming with 
tribesmen, and reached Matun by 9.30 a.m. to the intense joy of the 
terrified Turis. Wliilst the Cavalry watched the enemy, six thousand 
of whom occupied a strong position only two miles away, the Infantry 
loaded their camels with as much grain as they could carry, flung the 
remainder into a neighbouring pond, destroyed the ammunition and 
set fire to the Fort. The retirement was carried out with great skill 
and coolness. Behind a screen of Cavalry skirmishers, thrown forward 
as if to attack the enemy, the mountain-guns and the Infantry gained 
so great a start that the Mangals' chance of falling upon them with 
any prospect of success, was lost, and they made no attempt to meddle 
with the Cavalry when the time had come for these also to withdraw. 
At 5 p.m. relievers and relieved arrived safely at Sabbri, where Barry 
Drew and his men, whilst on the alert to respond to a call for assistance, 
should any such call reach them from Roberts's column, had been busy 
all day, first, striking half the tents so as to bring the camp into smaller 
compass, and then, surrounding it with a rampart, three feet six inches 
high, built up of men's kits, Officers' baggage, camel-saddles, flour-bags, 
tents, etc. 

The next day, escorted by the 5th Punjab Cavalry, General Roberts 
and his Staff rode into Hazir Pir, followed, on the 31st, by the main 
body under Barry Drew. Its starting-point regained, the Expedition- 
ary Force was broken up and the troops composing it distributed 
along the line of communications, which the Viceroy, on the recom- 
mendation of the Commander-in-Chief, had strengthened during their 
absence by the addition of the 14th Bengal Cavalry, the 92nd High- 
landers, the 11th Native Infantry, and the troops contributed by the 
Rajahs of Fared Kot, Nabha, Pattiala, and Nahun, under the com- 
mand of Brigadier-General John Watson, V.C, C.B. 



Observation I. There are notable discrepancies between the de- 
spatch of the 10th of January, 1879, and the Memorandum of the 1st of 
April, of the same year. In the former. General Roberts gave a straight- 
forward and fairly full account of the circumstances connected with the 
attack on liis camp ; in the latter, he omitted all reference to the efforts 
made by the Mahks of the Matun villages to induce the Mangals to retire 
from the valley, and suppressed the fact that, in proof of their good 
faith, these same men had voluntarily constituted themselves his 
prisoners. On the other hand, the murder of " unarmed camp- 
followers in villages within half a mile " of the British camp, mentioned 
in the justificatory documents, finds no place in the purely historical 
narrative, and Major Colqulioun's detailed diary of the operations in 
Khost, makes no mention of any camp-follower who lost his life before 
the Matun villages were destroyed, except the driver killed by the 
Mangals when they captured and carried off some camels, an offence 
which Roberts also sought to saddle upon the people of Khost. ^ One 
point, however, on which both accounts agree is the putting forward 
of the threat to exact summary and severe retribution from all who 
should give admittance to " persons having hostile intentions towards 
us," made on the 6th of January, as an excuse for the destruction 
wrought on the 7th. But that threat was, in itself, a violation of 
justice and policy ; firstly, because there were no means of ascertaining 
whether admittance to the Matun villages would be given, or forced ; 
secondly, because only an effective occupation can, morally and 
legally, deprive a people of the right to defend its territory against 
invasion, and the arrival of a British Force at Matun did not constitute 
an effective occupation of Khost ; thirdly, because a punishment 
inflicted on the inhabitants of the valley could have no deterrent effect 
on the inhabitants of the hills, whose homes were in no danger of 

^ Parliamentary Paper of 17th June, 1879, '•Proceedings in Klwst.", 


suffering a like fate ; fourthly, because the fear of being called to 
account for the acts of the Mangals, was certain to drive the villagers 
into co-operation with the former ; fifthly, because the execution of 
the threat could not fail to alienate completely the people of the valley, 
whom it was Roberts's interest to reconcile. Memories of burned 
houses are not to be blotted out, either by moral lectures, or promises 
of future benefits ; and in Khost, as later on in Kabul, Roberts did his 
country the disservice of associating the British name with acts of 
" implacable vengeance," ^ which, but for his own reckless generalship, 
he would never have been tempted to commit. 

Observation II. Responsibihty for the costly and unsuccessful 
Expedition into Khost must be borne entirely by General Roberts. 
His instructions did, indeed, order him to take possession of that 
valley, but, as regarded the time and manner of the occupation, they 
left him the latitude without which no discreet and independent- 
minded Officer would care to accept a command in the field ; yet, he 
rushed into it at the earliest possible moment, taking with him an 
inadequate Force and leaving behind him a dangerously weakened and 
sickly garrison to keep open his communications, and its own. His 
preparations made no provision for the state of things that any intelli- 
gent Frontier Officer could have told him would confront him at Matun ; 
and, as the whole business was planned and conducted on a scale com- 
mensurate to a punitive Expedition, into a punitive Expedition it 
soon degenerated, with the ordinary ending of all such expeditions — 
a rapid retreat from an untenable position. That it ended merely in 
failure, and not in disaster, was due to two causes, on neither of which 
was it possible to count beforehand, viz., the dryness of the season, 
and the lack, on the enemy's side, of any leader endowed with average 

^ " In the eyes of the Afghans, General Roberts is the personification of the 
implacable vengeance of a conqueror " — words used by an Afghan Khan in a 
letter to a Persian Minister. (See, Letter to Sir Henry Rawlinson, in a volume 
entitled Tracts : Central Asia.) 


military ability. Had the winter rains set in after the arrival of the 
troops at Matun, flooding the rice-fields in which they were encamped, 
and filling the wide river-beds in their rear, they would have been 
unable to move in any direction, the supply-convoy could not have 
come up from Hazir Pir, and man and beast would have had reason 
to be thankful if nothing worse happened to them than the being put, 
temporarily, on half rations ; ^ and had the Mangals understood their 
business as well as the Afridis in the Tirah Campaign of 1897-98 under- 
stood theirs ; had they kept to the ordinary tactics of hill-peoples, and 
contented themselves with nightly firing into camp, and with daily 
cutting the Force's communications with Hazir Pir, the troops would 
have had no chance of lightening the pressure of peril for as much 
as a day ; and the retreat that had in the end to be accepted, would 
have come earher, and been carried out under worse conditions. 

^ " Rain himg about for the first few days, and had it come down we would 
have been in an awful hat, for we had only seventeen days' provisions with us. 
. . . We were therefore praying that no rain might fall to complicate matters." 
{Kohat, Ktiram and Khost, p. 172, by Surgeon R. Gillham-Thomsett.) 


The Occupation of Kandahar 


On the 1st of January, 1879, the day after the 1st Division of the 
Kandahar Field Force had concentrated at Guhstan Karez, on the 
hither side of the Khwaja Amran Mountains, and the 2nd Division 
at Ghaman, on the further side of the same range, the advance 
guards of both forces started for the Takht-i-Pul Valley, where the 
converging tracks to be followed by the left and the right columns, re- 
spectively, merge into one ; the Brigades composing the main body of 
each, following at intervals of a day's march. 

The advanced guard of Stewart's column, under Brigadier- 
General Palliser, was composed of the — 

15th Hussars, one squadron ; 
lat Punjab Cavalry, two squadrons ; 
A.B. Royal Horse Artillery, two guns ; 
25th Punjab Infantry ; 
32nd Pioneers ; 

Wing of 2nd Beluchi Regiment ; 
4th and 9th Companies of Sappers and Miners ; 
Strength about 1,800 men. 

Biddulph's advanced guard, commanded by Colonel T. G. Ken- 
nedy, consisted of the — 

15th Hussars, one troop ; 
2nd Punjab Cavalry, two squadrons ; 
3rd Sind Horse, one troop ; 
A.B. Roj'al Horse ArtUlery, two guns ; 
Strength about 350 men, 



Nominally, Palliser was in command of both bodies, for Stewart, 
knowing that the distance between them — only twenty-five miles at 
the outset — would steadily diminish, supposed that they would all 
along be able to co-operate, their cavalry joining hands to screen the 
march of the entire force ; but the intricate nature of the ground separ- 
ating them, rendered joint action impossible ; each had to act inde- 
pendently of the other, and all correspondence between the Divisional 
Commanders was carried on by relays of horsemen, posted at convenient 
distances, in rear of their respective forces. The distance by either 
route was much the same — about fifty miles, divided into three 
marches ; the country to be traversed a rough, stony plain, broken 
by rocky hillocks and cut up by nullahs ; but Stewart's line of advance 
had no exposed flank, his left being covered by the drifting sands of 
the Registan Desert ; whilst Biddulph's right had to be carefully 
patrolled, and great care taken to maintain touch between the advanced 
guard and the two Brigades — Nuttall's and Lacy's — echelonned in 
its rear, in order to guard against surprise from the extensive Kadani 
valley, which it was impossible to reconnoitre satisfactorily. 

It would be hard to exaggerate the barrenness and loneliness of 
the region into which the troops had now descended, for two days 
the only sign of life was a group of Kabitkas,' the temporary dwellings 
of a party of nomads, which Palliser's men caught sight of ; and 
though, on the third morning, after the Mel Manda Valley had been 
entered, a few scattered habitations were discerned and strips of 
cultivation here and there, these were confined to the banks of 
artificial watercourses, and far away the greater part of the land was 
clothed with thick brushwood, smelling of sage. The foliage of this 

1 These Kabitkas are formed of branches bent in a curve and stuck in the 
ground, and then the framework is covered with a thick, coarse camel-hair 
cloth, most neatly pinned together with large thorns, and fixed to the ground 
by short ropes and pegs. In these domed tents, men, women, children and 
animals all live together, and they suit the climate, being warm to a degree." 
Kandahar in 1879, by Major A. Le Messurier. 


shrub — though not actually poisonous — proved fatal to many a 
starvmg camel, whose weakened stomach was unable to digest the 
unaccustomed food which hunger compelled it to devour ; for the 
difficulty of feeding the transport animals still weighed heavily on 
the Kandahar Field Force, as did also the allied difficulty of keeping 
up their numbers to a point compatible with the efficiency of the 
Army. Even as late as the 1st of January, the Commissariat Officer 
attached to Lacy's Brigade, had reported that very necessary stores 
would have to be left behind for lack of carriage ; and when, the 
next day, an Afghan brought in three hundred donkeys, they had 
to be hired at the exorbitant rate which their owner's knowledge 
of the Army's needs emboldened him to ask. Fortunately,^they were 
particularly fine animals, almost as big as mules. ^ 

About the middle of the morning of the 4th of January, when the 
two advanced guards were within three or four miles of each other, 
parties of the enemy's horse were discovered, pushed well forward in 
front of a low rugged chain of hills to protect the passes which lead 
from the Mel Manda, into the Tukht-i-Pul Valley. Major G. Luck who, 
with a squadron of the 15th Hussars, was scouting well ahead of 
Palliser's force, pressed back the Afghans opposed to him into the 
Karkoma Pass, and, driving them before him, descended at their heels 
into the last named valley. Here the fugitives came upon their sup- 
ports, and, turning back, rushed upon their pursuers, shouting and 
waving their swords. Though greatly outnumbered. Luck boldly 
galloped forward to meet the charge, and when the opponents were 
only a few hundred paces apart, the Afghans hesitated, paused, broke, 
and, scattering right and left, sought shelter in ground too rough and 
rocky to make it safe for a mere handful of men to follow them up. 

I Some people may ask why they were not pressed into tlie service, and fair 
wages allotted to their owner. The answer to this is that the Afghan would 
have taken the first opportunity to desert with his beasts, and no further trans- 
port animals would have been brought into camp. — H. B. H. 


Hardly had the squadron come to a halt, before a detachment of 
the 1st Punjab Cavalry, led by Major C. S. Maclean, rode up, bringing 
the order to fall back upon the guns which, by this time, were in the 
Pass, and if possible to lure the enemy under their fire. This with- 
drawal was part of a general scheme suggested by Kennedy, who, 
finding himself confronted by a considerable body of Afghan Cavalry 
and learning from his scouts that the Ghlo Kotal Pass was strongly 
held, had determined, before advancing, to dislodge the former and 
clear the latter, and had sent off a note to Palliser asking for his co- 
operation in reconnoitring the Tukht-i-Pul Valley. Palliser took the 
necessary steps for carrying out the proposed joint movement, by 
recalling and, at the same time, strengthening Luck, by directing the 
32nd Pioneers to hold the Karkoma Pass, and the 25th Punjab Infantry 
to move rapidly in support of the Artillery, which was to stick to the 
Kafila track. Meantime, Kennedy had reinforced his scouts, and 
whilst they were gradually enveloping the enemy's flanks, he himself, 
with the remainder of his cavalry, threatened them with a frontal 
attack. Skilfully hidden by this screen of horsemen, the guns were 
brought to the front, and, coming into action, compelled the Afghans 
to fall back. At the first sound of Artillery fire, Palliser, with his 
Brigade-Major, Captain H. R. Abadie, hurried forward to meet Luck's 
party, placed himself at its head, turned sharply to the right, and, 
as quickly as the rugged nature of the ground would allow, pushed 
on towards the northern mouth of the Ghlo Kotal Pass. Just then, 
a dust storm sprang up, so thickening the air that Palliser was for 
an instant deceived into believing that a body of Afghan horsemen 
who were just then issuing, in good order, from the pass, were Ken- 
nedy's men ; whilst the Afghans, unaware that the British had already 
penetrated into the valley, mistook Palliser's troops for a party of 
their own cavalry. The deception was a short one on either side. 
Maclean and Luck, at the head of Palliser's column, saw more clearly 
than their chief, and, quickly deploying, dashed into the enemy's 


exposed flank. Though taken by surprise and their ranks broken 
by the impetus of the British charge, the Afghans gathered in groups 
and fought on bravely, till Kennedy's Cavalry, pressing them in 
rear, obliged them to seek safety in flight, and they galloped away, 
unpursued, in the direction of Kandahar.^ Wliilst this fighting was 
in progress on the eastern side of the valley, the guns which Palliser 
had left on the western Kafila road, and, as he thought, under the 
protection of his Infantry, had, by some mistake, been pushed forward 
four or five miles, escorted only by a small party of Cavalry. Near 
the village of Saif-u-Din they came suddenly in sight of the main 
body of the enemy, twelve hundred strong, posted on a hill about 
a mile away. At the same moment, they were themselves discerned, 
and the Afghans, seeing them so weakly guarded, poured down 
towards the stream on the banks of which they had halted. Marshall, 
the officer commanding, at once began to retire slowly on his distant 
supports, and sent back an urgent message asking for assistance, 
which Colonel H. Moore who^ had assumed command in Palliser's 
absence, was not slow in rendering. Hurrying forward cavalry and 
infantry, he covered the retirement of the guns with mounted skir- 
mishers, whom he directed to fall back slowly as soon as they had 
come into touch with the enemy ; and, in this way, he not only brought 
the Artillery into safety, but, by its fire, inflicted some loss upon its 
would-be captors. 

1 " The curious mistakes during the day are worth noting, for they were 
made by one and all. In the first place, the Afghans themselves, on issuing 
from the Ghlo Kotal, saw the 15th Hussars and Punjab Cavalry, and at first 
set them down for their own cavalry coming in from Kandahar ; then the 15th 
Hussars took Kennedy's men for the enemy, and instances could be given in 
which individuals nearly suffered, for their want of knowledge of the men in 
whose vicinity they remained. One man of the 15th Hussars was out as a 
scout, and actually, for a time, did left flanker to a party of the enemy ; and 
in the evening, General Palhser, Sankey and myself at first thought we had 
run on the main body of the enemy when we were close to our own men." — 
Kandahar in 1879, by Major Le Messurier, pp. 57, 58. 


The brief danger was over before Palliser rejoined his men, but 
with evening closing in, the British forces in the valley widely scat- 
tered, and the main body of the enemy still unshaken and near at 
hand, it would have been imprudent to carry the reconnaissance 
any further ; so the troops bivouacked as they stood, with strong 
outposts thrown out on every side. The night proved a wild one. 
At first it rained heavily, then a sharp wind arose, and, in its wake, 
a second dust storm, making the darkness doubly dark ; and when 
morning broke, Palliser and Kennedy found themselves in undis- 
puted possession of the valley, for, under cover of that darkness, the 
Afghans had retreated on Kandahar. 

In his report on this very creditable little affair — the only engage- 
ment on the whole long march from the Indus to Kandahar — General 
Palliser brought to special notice Colonel Kennedy whose admirable 
dispositions had contributed so much to its success. Majors Maclean 
and Luck, Captain Abadie, and his own Aide-de-camp, Lieutenant 
the Hon. R. Rupert. Three men of the 1st Punjab Cavalry enjoyed 
a similar distinction : Sowar Mahomed Takhi, who in the face of 
the enemy had picked up a dismounted comrade, and Ram Rukha 
and Akhmat Khan, who, together, had boldly charged into the ranks 
of a considerable body of Afghans to rescue J. Lower, a private of 
the 15th Hussars. All these men were subsequently decorated with 
the Order of Merit ; had they been British soldiers, or negroes belong- 
ing to a West Indian regiment, they would have got the Victoria 

The British casualties in the action were small : — in the 15th 
Hussars, one officer, Major Luck, contusion of shoulder ; ^ one non- 
commissioned officer and five troopers wounded, two severely ; in 
the 1st Punjab Cavalry a native officer, Jemadar Huknewary Khan 

1 Luck would have lost his ana but for the fortunate coincidence that the 
night before the action he received a pair of steel epaulettes from his wife in 
India, which his bearer at once sewed on his uniform. 


and three sowars wounded, one severely ; whilst the enemy's losses 
amounted to about a hundred men killed and wounded. 

On the 6th of January, at Abdur Rahman, in the Tukht-i-Pul 
Valley, the two divisions of the Kandahar Field Force concentrated 
for the first time, and all the regiments and corps that had been 
temporarily transferred from the one to the other, returned to their 
respective commands. On the 7th, the combined forces marched 
to Kushab, a village about eight miles short of Kandahar. The 
two Cavalry Brigades, under General Palliser, carefully covered the 
movement, and at night encamped well in advance of the main 
body of the army, for news received at Abdur Rahman had pointed 
to a stout resistance on the part of the enemy, and to the need of 
regular siege operations for the reduction of Kandahar. On the line 
of march, however, a deputation from that city waited upon the 
British Commander-in-Chief to inform him that the Governor, Sirdar 
Mir Afzul, had fled, with two hundred horsemen, to Herat, that the 
troops retiring from Tukht-i-Pul had been refused admittance within 
its walls, that the rest of the Afghan garrison had dispersed to their 
homes, and that the citizens were prepared to submit to British 

Stewart immediately decided to make, on the morrow, a cere- 
monial entry into Kandahar. The whole army, except the two 
Batteries, Heavy Artillery, C-4, and 1-1 Royal Artillery,^ escorted 

^ By this time it had become a difficult matter to move the Artillery at all. 
On the 1st January, General Stewart wrote, as follows, to the Adjutant 
General: " The Artillery have simply collapsed, owing to complete failure of the 
bullocks. They have died in large numbers, and from sore feet and from other 
causes are hardly able to drag themselves, much less loaded waggons, along 
even an easy road. ... At present most of the troops in this force are simply 
working parties for the Artillery, and if I had not arranged for this, not one of 
them would have reached Quetta. This is a very serious matter, especially as 
we cannot get bullocks in this country." Again, on January the 4th, he wrote : 
" If I had known they were in such a plight I should have left, the waggons 
at Quetta, for as matters stand I am always in dread of beuag obliged to abandon 
them." — Life of Sir Donald Stewart, pp. 235, 236. 


by 59th Foot ^ and the troops needed to guard the baggage, was 

to share in the triumphal march, passing in one long stream from 

the Shikarpur Gate on the southern, to the Kabul Gate on the eastern 

side of the town.^ The start next day was made early, but, owing 

to the cutting of numerous watercourses,^ the road for miles was little 

better than a swamp,* and the difficulties of getting the infantry, 

guns and baggage along so great that it was four p.m. before the 

head of the British column, after threading its way through the 

narrow lanes of an extra-mural suburb, passed through the Shikapur 

Gate into the broad street which runs northward in a straight line 

^ 59th Foot came up the next day with C-4 and 1-1 Royal Artillery, and 

the two Heavy Batteries, 5-11 and 6-11.— T. C. Hamilton' 8 Diary. 

2 Order of March through the City of Kandahar: — 

15th Hussars. 

A-B Royal Horse Artillery. 

1st Punjab Cavalry. 

2nd Punjab Cavalry. 

E-4 Royal Artillery. 

D-2 Royal Artillery. 

Peshawar Mountain Battery. 

Jacobabad Moimtain Battery. 

2-60th Rifles. 

70th Foot. 

25th Punjab Infantry. 

32nd Pioneers. 

29th Baluchies. 

No. 9 Company Sappers and Miners. 

8th Bengal Cavalry ") ^ . , 

, „ , ^ , \ Detachments. 
19th Bengal Cavalry ) 

Generals Stewart, Biddulph, Fane, Palliser, Nuttall, and Barter took part 
in the Procession. — Diary of the March of the I5th King's Hussars to Kandahar, 
by T. C. Hamilton. 

3 These watercourses had probably been cut to impede the advance of the 
Force before the intention of defending the city had been given up. — H. B. H. 

* " An officer galloping from rear, assured the General that his Infantry 
were miles behind toiling through the slough, his Guns were entangled, his 
Baggage in a desperate case. The sappers told off had doubtless done their 
best, but the water was too much for them. . . . After weary hours the Infantry 
appeared, crowning the slope, and with them A.B. Battery of Horse Artillery."— 
Life of Sir Donald Stewart, p. 237. 


to the citadel, and which, in the centre of the city, is crossed, at right 
angles, by a similar thoroughfare connecting the Eastern, or Kabul 
Gate, with the Western, or Herat Gate. At the point of intersec- 
tion, both streets are arched over by the Charsu, a circular dome, 
fifty feet in diameter ; and under this vast roof and along the half 
mile of road between it and the Shikarpur Gate, are the principal 
bazaars. These, as a rule, swarm with men of many nationalities, 
all wearing Afghan dress, but in endless variety of hue and shade, 
and through this bright crowd carts filled with country produce, and 
camels laden with merchandise, come and go, whilst here and there 
a woman, clothed from head to foot in the " burkha," a formless robe, 
or domino, glides silently by. For the traveller, weary and hungry 
after weeks of toilsome journeyings, no pleasanter sight, even in 
winter, can be imagined than the food shops of Kandahar, with their 
piles of juicy pomegranates and almonds and raisins, of dried figs 
and apricots, to say nothing of cooked vegetables and fish and cresses, 
fresh from the watercourses which give life and fertility to the valley 
in which the southern capital is situated. But on that January 
evening, all these tempting delicacies were hidden from the eyes of 
the British soldier and his Native comrade. Every shop was closed ; 
buyers and sellers stood, sullen and scowling, in dense ranks on 
either side the road ; and every roof was crowded with women gazing 
downi, half in wonder, half in fear, on the white-faced infidels, rumours 
of whose approach had so long agitated the city, and who were now 
actually in its midst. 

Arrived at the Charsu, the column ought to have turned to the 
right, but its guide went steadily forward into the Topkana, or 
Place d'Armes ; a square closed, on the further side, by the citadel's 
southern wall. At sight of this unexpected obstacle, the leading 
troops came to a standstill ; and, whilst Sir Donald Stewart and his 
staff rode forward to ascertain the cause of the halt, the regiments 
behind continued to advance, and soon there was a dangerous block 


just outside the square, where the roadway narrowed down to half 
its original width, and in the still narrower stretch of street just out- 
side the Charsu. The growing darkness added to the difficulty of 
the situation ; but coolness and discipline soon set matters straight. 
The Commander-in-Chief and his staff forced their way back through 
the press ; the men faced about where they stood ; the Artillery, with 
a good deal of trouble, turned their horses' heads in the right direction, 
and then the column once more got into motion, and after retracing 
its steps to the covered crossways, swung round to the left and, a 
few minutes later, began issuing from the Kabul Gate and marching 
north-eastward towards the old graveyard of the city, in the vicinity 
of which tents and baggage were expected to be awaiting its arrival.^ 
This expectation was fulfilled for half the Force only. The original 
order with regard to the impedimenta of the Army, had been that they 
should all follow the road which, much cut up by watercourses, run 
through the villages on the south and eastern side of the city ; but an 
officer on Biddulph's Staff who, after careful inquiry, had convinced 
himself that the Mand-i-Hissar road, which branches off from the 
southern road three miles from the Shikarpur Gate, though rough and 
winding, yet, as lying outside the region of irrigation, was safer and 
easier than the route selected, went to General Stewart, and, with 
some difficulty, obtained his permission to use it for the stores and 
baggage of the 2nd Division. This officer's information proved 
correct, and Biddulph's tents were being pitched and food got ready 
for issuing when his troops reached their camping ground ; but 
Stewart's transport, entangled in narrow streets, and perpetually 

1 " Retracing our steps we again reached the Charau, and turned down the 
road leading to the Kabul Gate, from whence we emerged at about five o'clock 
in the evening. The troops, however, continued to pass through the streets 
until long after dark. The guns had some difficulty in getting through the 
narrow turnings of the Shikarpur Gate, there was consequently delay, and it was 
nearly nine o'clock before the bayonets of the last regiment filed through the 
streets." — Correspondent of the Bombay Gazette. 


stopped by canals, many of them with broken bridges, moved so 
slowly that it was hours late in arriving, and in the First Division 
of the Kandahar Field Force, man and beast celebrated the end 
of their long march by going supperless to bed.^ 


Observation I. In their advance from the Kliwaja Amran range 
to Kandahar, both Stewart's and Biddulph's advanced guards were 
too weak in Artillery ; a complete battery should have been attached 
to each, and Kennedy should also have been given a regiment of In- 
fantry and a company of Sappers and Miners, because (1) opposition 
was expected and its strength uncertain ; (2) the country, especially 
as regarded the eastern column, offered the Afghans many oppor- 
tunities for concealment and attack ; (3) the advanced guards were 
not marching in light order, but had their baggage to protect ; (4) 
the supports of each were a day's march in the rear. 

Observation II. It is a matter of regret that Sir Donald Stewart 
should have allowed himself to run so great a risk as was involved 
in his triumphant entry into Kandahar, for the sake of a mere 
spectacular effect ; for no practical end was served by rushing into 
the town in ignorance of the temper of its notoriously treacherous 
population, and with no certain information as to the whereabouts 

^ In a letter, dated 4th March, 1879, General Stewart writes : — 
" That account of our march to Candahar is quite true. We were seven 
or eight hours doing eight miles, and a weary time we had of it. I don't admit, 
however, than any part of the delay was due to avoidable causes, because the 
stoppage was caused by watercourses, which had to be bridged over for the 
guns. The mistake was bringing the guns at all. But, before I ordered them 
to go, I had ascertained from our news-writer, a man who had only left Can- 
dahar a week before, that the road was a splendid one, fit for guns of any size, 
etc., etc. A native's idea of a good road is a place along which a pony or mule 
can scramble, and the country round the city was so intersected by water- 
courses that we had to work our way in. It was very aggravating, but liaving 
once got into the labyrinth of lanes and watercourses, there was no way of 
getting out of a fix except by going on." — Life of Sir Donald Stewart, p. 253. 


of the large body of troops which had so recently been within its 
walls. And not only was the march through Kandahar a grave error 
in itself, it was marked by faults of still greater gravity. No pre- 
cautions were taken to diminish its dangers ; not a gate was seized, 
nor any strong force of Artillery and Infantry told off to hold the 
Charsu and the Citadel ; nor, yet, were patrols sent out to make sure 
that every part of the town was clear of the Afghan soldiery. Had 
there been a capable leader within its walls that winter afternoon, 
its inhabitants, all of whom were armed, might have annihilated 
their invaders when closely jammed together in the cul-de-sac, into 
which ignorance of its topography had betrayed them. That the 
Kandahar Field Force escaped unscathed, is no excuse for the temerity 
which exposed them to the chance of destruction; and the success 
of the demonstration was one of many incidents in the war which 
tended to confirm British officers in their inveterate habit of neglect- 
ing precautions and courting unnecessary danger. 


Expedition to Khelat-i-Ghilzai 

Early on the morning of the 9th January, the gateways of Kandahar 

were occupied by strong European detachments, and the wing of a Native 

regiment was encamped in the square outside the citadel — measures 

excellent in themselves, but quite inadequate to the protection of the 

soldiers and camp followers who, later in the day, poured into the city ; 

for bazaars and streets were swarming with disbanded soldiers, armed 

with the jezail or the terrible Afghan knife ; and amongst those 

seetning crowds were many Ghazis (religious fanatics), men ever ready 

to give their lives for the chance of slaying an unbeliever. That 

first afternoon, Major St. John, riding in the principal bazaar, had 

his bridle seized and a gun fired point-blank into his face, by a man 

who sprang suddenly out of the throng. The startled horse swerved 

aside, the bullet whistled harmlessly by, and, with the assistance of his 

companion, Nawab Gholam Hussain Khan, late British Resident at 

the Court of Shere Ali, St. John succeeded in securing his assailant, 

who was subsequently tried by a military commission, found guilty, 

and hanged on the scene of his attempted crime. In a different part 

of the town. Lieutenant Willis, a young Artillery officer, was stabbed 

to the heart ; and the assassin cut down three soldiers and wounded 

Captain H. De la M. Hervey, 1st Punjab Cavalry, who bravely tried to 

seize him, before he was killed by a non-commissioned officer of the same 

regiment.^ Strong detachments of troops were hurried into the city, 

1 Referring to these outrages in a letter dated 12th January, 1879, General 
Stewart writes : " There are a lot of Ghazis about the place, but I have told the 
troops they must look out for themselves, as I am not going to let them bully 

us or frighten us into not going about the town, or wherever we like." Sir 

Donald Stewart's Life, p. 242. 



where the merchants were hastily closing their shops, to collect and 
bring out their comrades scattered about its streets ; and, when this 
had been accomplished, the gate guards strengthened and the bazaars 
diligently patrolled — the dangerous wave of excitement sweeping over 
the population died away ; but from that time forward no officer or 
soldier was permitted to enter Kandahar singly and unarmed ; and its 
citizens were warned, by proclamation, that every man among them 
was liable to be searched, and that whoever should be found with 
weapons concealed on his person, would be handed over to the Provost 
Marshal for condign punishment. 

With an almost immediate further advance in prospect, Stewart's 
most pressing business was to provide for the safety of the city and its 
garrison during his absence. To render an alien rule as little irksome 
as possible to its inhabitants, he appointed Nawab Gholam Hussain 
Khan, a man of the same religion if not of the same race, to the Civil 
Governorship, with Major St. John, his own Principal Political officer, 
as his adviser.^ The command of the garrison, consisting of — 

Colonel C. Collingwood Commanding — 
E-4 Royal Artillery, 

> Heavy Batteries, 
6-11 j -^ 

Major C. S. Maclean Commanding — 

5 troops 1st Punjab Cavalry, 

Wing 59th Foot 

6 Companies 26th Bengal Infantry, 
4 „ 12th „ 

Strength — 14 gmis, 1,735 effective European and Native Troops, 

^ In a letter dated 9th January, 1879, Stewart writes : " I am in a difficulty 
to know what to do with the country now we have got it. I have to arrange. 
for the government of the city and the collection of taxes. This is no easy matter, 
as most of the officials have disappeared." — Ibid. p. 240. 


he conferred on Nuttall, one of Biddulpli's Brigadiers ; and he 
directed that the sick, of whom there were four hundred and sixty- 
six, in charge of the Senior Medical Officer, Surgeon J. B. C. 
Reade, should be accommodated in the Citadel — one hundred and 
fifty beds for the Europeans in certain of its buildings, two to three 
hundred for Native soldiers and camp-followers, in tents pitched in 
its central square, which the Garrison Engineer, Captain W. S. S. 
Bissett, was directed to put, as quickly as possible, into a defensible 
and sanitary condition. ^ 

Meanwhile the subordinate General Officers and their respective 
Staffs were employed in arranging for the occupation of further points 
of the Amir's territory. The immediate goal of the First Division 
was Khelat-i-Ghilzai, and that of the Second, Girishk, a fort of con- 
siderable size, situated on the right bank of the River Helmand ; but 
it was rumoured m camp that if the weather continued favourable — 
so far it had been unprecedentedly fine — the former might go on to 
Ghazni ; and every one regarded Girishk as only a halting place on 
the way to Herat. Stewart certainly arrived m Kandahar with 
both these distant objects in view, but a very few days in the " vile 
barren country " ^ lying around that city, sufficed to limit his am- 
bition to the attainment of either the one or the other. Any hopes 
that he may have cherished of replenishing his supplies and renewing 
his transport at the end of the first stage of his great under- 
taking, had been quickly dissipated : Kandahar might offer a few 
luxuries to those who were able to pay for them, but it could 
not entirely support its own small garrison, still less furnish 
the stores of food that would be needed by two large forces 
on a journey of several hundred miles ; and if, to use his own 
words, " having to draw all European supplies for three hundred miles 

^ Deputy-Surgeon-General A. Smith, Principal Medical Officer. 
^ Tlie expression appears in a letter of Stewart's dated 8th January, 1879. — 
Sir Donald Stewart's Life, p. 240. 


and more, through a country which produces little or nothing is a 
serious undertaking, and anything that throws it out of gear plays 
the mischief with us " ^ — to what straits would not his men have 
been reduced by a doubling, in two directions, of the distance which 
separated them from their depots ? Already the margin that lay 
between them and starvation, was of the narrowest ; only seven days' 
supplies remained in camp on the 13th January, and, four days 
earlier, Stewart had written to the Adjutant-General that if he was not 
to go on to Herat, he should like, on account of the scarcity, to send 
some of the Force back to India. ^ 

* Sir Donald Stewart's Life, p. 243. 

2 Ibid. p. 241. In his admirable little book, Kandahar in 1879, Major Le 
Messurier gives an interesting calculation to show the daily consumption of food 
by a force of 14,000 men — the total strength of the Forces at Kandahar and on 
the line of communications being 14,025. 

For Europeans 

5,300 Loaves or 25 Camel loads of flour. 

265 Sheep „ 25 „ „ of meat. 

Rice 4 „ „ 

Sugar 3 ,, ,, 

Tea 1 

Salt 1 

Vegetables 10 „ „ 

100 gallons Rum 3 ,, „ 

Wood 50 


Native Troop.s and Followers 

Flour 183 Camel loads. 











The First Divison of the Kandahar Field Force,^ consisting of the 
following troops : — 

A-B Royal Horse Artillery. 
D-2 „ Artillery. 
11-11 „ „ (4 gims). 

15th Hussars. 
8th Bengal Cavalry. 
19th Bengal Lancers. 

1st Brigade 
2nd 60th Rifles. 
15th Siklis. 
25th Bengal Infantry. 

2nd Brigade 
59th Foot. 
3rd Gurkhas. 
12th Bengal Infantry (4 Companies). 

Strength— 4,182 officers and men, 5,119 camp followers, 22 guns, 1,564 horses, 
78 gun bullocks, 4,439 transport animals, of which 3,930 were camels. 

set out on the 15th Jruuary for Khelat-i-Ghilzai, in the following 
order — 

Each horse 8 lbs. grain, 8 lbs. bhoosa ; other animals, ponies, mules, and 

bullocks, half that rate ; each elephant 1 camel load. 

For horses, ponies, \ ( 500 maunds grain 165 Camel loads. 

mules, and bullocks) ( 500 „ bhoosa 200 

/-, 1 r G50 ,, bhoosa \ .^_ 

Camels ■ ■ ■ • \ n^n ■ 450 „ 

l 650 ,, gram J 

Elephants 15 ,, ,, 

Total ... 830 „ 

Grand Total for one day's consumption, 1,453 Camel loads. 
1 No change was made in the Divisional and Brigade Staff, but in Major St. 
John's stead Lieutenant-Colonel Browne, R.E., accompanied the Force as 
Political Officer. 


Advanced Guard 
Cavalry Brigade and Battery Royal Artillery, under Brigadier-General W. 
Fane, one day's march in advance of Main Body. 

Main Body 
General Stewart's Head Quarters, 2nd Brigade, under Brigadier-General 
Hughes, and three Batteries Royal Artillery under Brigadier-General Arbuthnot. 

Rear Guard 

1st Brigade under Brigadier-General Barter, one day's march in rear of 
Main Body. 

The distance to be traversed was 84 miles, divided into eight 
stages — 

1 Mohmand • ... 12 miles 

2 Robat 8 „ 

3 Khel-i-Akhimi 12 „ 

4 Shahr-i-Safa 12 „ 

5 Tirandaz 10 ,, 

6 Jaldak 14 „ 

7 Pul-i-Sang 9 „ 

8 Khelat-i-Ghilzai 7 „ 

and the road, which, after the third day's march, ran for the most 
part in the valley of the Turnak,^ presented only one difficulty — 
numerous irrigation channels — which was met, on the suggestion of 
Captain A. Gaselee of the Quarter-Master-General 's Staff, by sending 
ahead camels carrying gang boards, and laying them down for the use 
of the Transport and Artillery over each watercourse in turn. But 
all the way the ground rose steadily ; with each march the cold at night 
grew greater, the east wind, which, day after day, swept down the 
valley from dawn till noon, more and more cutting ; and though no 
oj^position was encountered, the possibility of it had to be so constantly 
guarded against that, short as were most of the stages, the men were 

^ This tributary of the Argandab, at the time of Stewart's advance only 
16 feet wide and 2 deep, diu-ing the rains is a considerable stream. " Its water 
is good, and the country in its vicinity is extensively cultivated, yielding for 
Afghanistan fair crops of wheat, the young shoots of which were just beginning 
to show themselves above ground." — Surgeon-Major H. S. Muir's Diary. 


kept under arms from before daylight until after dark.^ Cold and 
fatigue would have been easily borne if those who endured them had 
been well clad and well fed ; but nearly all the camp-followers and 
many of the Native soldiers were still without warm clothing ; and, 
by the substitution of meat for part of the usual allowance of flour and 
ghee, soldier and camp-follower alike were put practically on half 
rations for the whole period of their absence from Kandahar.^ This 
confession of the paucity of the supplies accompanying the Force, 
was made at the end of the first day's march ^ ; by the end of the 
second, scarcity of forage, coupled with cold, had begun to tell on the 
camels ; by the end of the sixth, the losses among them had been so 
heavy that the Commissariat Department could no longer supply the 
necessary carriage,* and General Stewart saw himself compelled to 
decide that the Rear-Brigade and the Divisional Hospital should go 
no further than Jaldak — a decision which dislocated the new medical 
organization, left the greater part of the European troops ill-furnished 
with medical necessaries and comforts,^ and, as the number of sick 

1 Ibid. 

^ This statement of Major Le Messurier's is confirmed by Deputy-Surgeon 
General A. Smith. " The reduction of rations," wrote the latter, " fell most 
heavily on the Native soldiers and followers, whose diet is mostly of a farinaceous 
description. ... It was not until their return to Kandahar that the whole of 
the Native troops were again able to have their full rations issued to them." 

^ " Articles of provision are not to be trifled with or left to chance, and there 
is nothing more clear than that the subsistence of the troops must be certain 
upon the proposed service, or the service must be relinquished." — Duke of 
Wellington's Despatch, dated February 18th, 1801. 

* January 19th. " We are getting into cold regions again, and ovu' camels are 
dying in large numbers every day." — Sir Donald Stewart's Life, p. 245. 

^ " As there was no other arrangement to meet this unlooked-for contingency, 
the European portion of the advanced Brigade had to go forward trusting to the 
medical aid which could be afforded to the sick through the means at the disposal 
of Batteries and Corps as provided under the arrangements prescribed in Appen- 
dix A of the Precis." — Deputy-Surgeon- General A. Smith. 

It is probable that the regimental hospital system, though less economical, 
is the one best suited for campaigning in a country like Afghanistan, where troops 
are constantly on the move, and forces are so often split up into small divisions. 
-H. B. H. 


outran the accommodation that could be provided for them in 
Khelat-i-Ghilzai, subjected the worst cases among them to the suffering 
attendant on removal. 

On the 22nd, General Stewart, with the Divisional troops and the 
2nd Brigade, arrived at Khelat-i-Gliilzai, which had been occupied by 
the advanced guard two days before. Native reports asserted that the 
garrison of six to seven hundred men, had originally intended to defend 
the place, but that, disheartened by the splitting of their largest gun, 
they relinquished theii- purpose and withdrew in the direction of Ghazni, 
carrying off with them as much food and forage as they required for 
their own use, and distributing the balance of their stores amongst 
the inhabitants of the surrounding districts. Had they stood firm, 
however, it is probable that the place would have been taken, without 
great difficulty, by a cowp de main,^ for, though strongly situated on 
the summit of an isolated eminence, well supplied with water by two 
copious springs,^ and possessed of strongly defensible works — ram- 
parts scarped out of the face of the hill, a substantial encircling 
parapet, and on its western front a natural cavalier^ in the shape of 
a rough pyramid of conglomerate, shooting up to a height of nearly 
a hundred feet — its northern gateway had no flanking defences, and 
large masses of conglomerate scattered in its vicinity would have 
given good shelter to a covering party.'* 

The First Division remained eleven days in Khelat-i-Ghilzai, and 

^ This was the conclusion come to by Colonel Sankey and Major Le Messurier 
after a careful inspection of the fort and its surroundings. 

^ There are two copious springs of water, giving an abundant supply, rising 
in the fort below the northern face of the cavalier ; its quality is said, however, 
not to be good, but the existence of these springs in an isolated hill formed of 
conglomerate and sandstone is curious, to say the least." — Kandahar in 1879, by 
Major Le Messurier. 

3 A work situated behind another, over which it has a command of fire. 
From this point there is an extensive view of tlie bare, treeless plain, and also of 
distant hills, with some small villages, half hidden in orchards lying at their foot. 
— H. B. H: 

* Major H. B. S. Lumsden. 


during the whole of that tune, apart from some valuable surveying 
work, its entire energies were devoted to keeping itself alive. To 
make its supplies go further, the men's rations were reduced in respect 
of several small articles of diet ; but the resultant economies were 
effected at the expense of the health of the troops, more especially the 
Native troops, amongst whom there were already many cases of 
dysentery and pulmonary complaints. Dried fruits, eggs and fowls 
found their way into the fort; but the men, being in arrears of pay, had 
ittle spare cash, and the high prices offered by the Commissariat authori- 
ties failed to induce the people to bring in the grain and bousa, deprived 
of which they and their live stock, with one bad harvest behind them 
and another in prospect, would be in danger of starvation. 1 What 
could not be obtained by consent, had to be taken by force ; and a duel 
of wits between the two interested parties ensued, the villagers growing 
more and more cunning in hiding their stores, and the British foraging 
parties more and more skilful in scenting them out and rifling their 
caches. 2 On the whole, the despoilers had the better of the despoiled ; 
but in the daily search for forage and food, camels and men were 
worn out , and the only gai n resulting from their sufferings and exertions 
was a slight prolongation of the term during which Khelat-i-Ghilzai 
remained in British hands. ^ 

^ " There is forage in the country, but it is only natural that the villagers 
should wish to keep it until their spring harvest is gathered." — Kandahar in 1879, 
p, 102, by Major Le Messurier. 

2 " Hereabout the people have no love for the Amir, and decline to do any- 
thing for him. But they don't care about us, and would prefer our room to our 
company ; my plan is to keep on good terms with them, but I insist on getting 
wliat tlie troops want. They always say they have nothing, and yesterday, 
when a foraging party went into a house to search for grain, they were shown 
into a room where a woman was found moaning and groaning, and the people said 
she had been delivered of a baby that morning. On asking to look at the child, 
a thumping thing of five or six months old was shown, and the woman was re- 
quested to get up. Under her bedding was foimd the entrance to a granary, in 
which 150 maunds of wheat were hidden." — Sir Donald Stewart's Life, p. •249. 

3 On the arrival of the Cavalry Brigade at Khelat-i-Ghilzai, its Commander, 


Not all the Force shared in this prolongation. Partly in order to 
lessen the Commissariat difficulty, partly with a view to examining 
into the resources of new districts, Stewart, very soon after his arrival 
at Khelat, sent two small columns back to Kandahar — the one via 
the Argandab, the other via the Arghesan Valley ; the former, com- 
manded by Colonel B. W. Ryall, consisting of 2 guns of 11-11 
Brigade Royal Artillery, 1 squadron 19th Bengal Lancers, 25th Pun- 
jab Infantry ; the latter, under Lieutenant-Colonel J. W. Hoggan, 
2 guns of 11-11 Brigade Royal Artillery, 1 squadron of the 15th 
Hussars and one of the 8th Bengal Cavalry. To these last-named 
troops a wing of the 3rd Gurkhas, sent up from Mundi Hissar, was 
added en route,^ when Colonel A. Paterson, as senior officer, assumed 

With the exception of an attack on this second column, delivered 

with great courage and determination by a small party of horse and 

footmen, who were driven back with loss into the hills, neither Force 

was molested on its march, but both were delayed for some days by 

snowstorms ; and the result of the investigation into the resources of 

the two valleys was disappointing — there was fish in the rivers, and 

plenty of mallard, teal and other wild ducks along their course ; also, 

in sheltered places, an abundance of fruit trees, already white with 

blossom ; but the quantity of grain and forage in the possession of 

the people barely sufficed for their own wants, and the attempt to 

extort from them so much as a few days' supplies deepened their 

natural dislike to the invaders of their country. ^ 

Brigadier-General W. Fane, deeply impressed by its miserable condition — 
Stewart himself states that the Cavalry and Artillery horses were half starved — 
recommended that it should be sent back to Kandahar before things grew worse. 
Had his suggestion been acted upon, the Infantry and Artillery must have starved, 
since it was only the ceaseless activity of the Cavalry which secured to them their 
daily bread. 

^ The march of the Gurkhas was much impeded by a heavy snowstorm. 

" The people hero say they can't fight us, but they don't hesitate to give 
out that they will worry us in every way they can." — General ^Stewart, 
26th January, 1879, p. 247 


General Stewart had held on to Khelat-i-Ghilzai in the hope of 
obtaining the Indian Government's sanction to an advance on 
Ghuzni, and when that hope had been disappointed, he was not sorry 
to receive an order to return with his Division to Kandahar. So 
great, however, had been the deterioration in his transport service, 
that by no possibility could sufficient camels be mustered to admit of 
his whole Force getting under weigh together, and he had to arrange 
to leave Brigadier-General Hughes with the Head Quarters and 
wing 19th Bengal Lancers, Head Quarters and wing 12th Bengal 
Infantry, 9th Company Sappers and Miners, and the Engineer Field 
Park, at Khelat-i-Ghilzai until such time as more could be pro- 
cured, when the fort was to be handed over to a Ghilzai chief, who 
had undertaken to hold it for the British Government against the 

In the teeth of a bitter wmd laden with sharp dust, Head Quarters 
and the bulk of the Division marched on the 2ndof February to Jaldak, 
where the Divisional Hospital was waiting to join them. The next 
day proved calm and mild, but the transport animals were so exhausted, 
that the day's march had to stop short of Firandaz, the next halting 
place ; and hardly had the Force encamped when the long delayed 
rain, alternating with violent snowstorms, descended in torrents, 
turning the ground into a half frozen quagmire, sunk in which the 
starving camels died as they lay.^ The state of the horses was hardly 
less wretched . Fuel ran short ; the men shivered in their wet clothes ; 
and had the storm continued for a week, the whole Force might have 
perished of cold and hunger, or been destroyed by the Ghilzais, who 
would have been as willing to complete the work of destruction begun 

^ " Unluckily, last night we were caught in a storm of rain and snow ; the 
former has, however, prevailed ; the camp is simply a sea of mud, and the poor 
camels can't move to feed themselves. The horses, too, are in a miserable 
plight, and it is difficult to see how they are to bo fed if this weather continues. 
... If we had had this weatlier at the proper season, the troops would have been 
unable to do anything." — Sir Donald Stewart's Life, p. 250. 


by the elements, as their fathers had shown themselves thirty-seven 
years before in the Khurd Kabul Pass.^ Luckily, it only lasted two 
days,and on the 6th, the march could be resumed ; but the loss of camels 
had been so enormous that only a portion of the troops could move 
at one time, and those who got off first had to halt two miles south of 
Tirandaz, that their transport might be sent back to bring up the bag- 
gage left behind . The same state of things repeated itself day by day, 
progress growing slower as more and more camels gave out; and it 
was not till the last day of February that the 1st Division was once 
again concentrated at Kandahar. Its Commander had arrived there 
on the nth, to find that during his absence his orders with regard to 
providing accommodation for the sick^ had been effectually carried 
out ; also that only one serious incident had occurred, and that, out- 
side the city, not within its walls. One morning, late in January, a 
band of Pathans , eluding the sentries , rushed into the camp of the Royal 
Artillery and 59th Foot, cutting and slashing right and left. Some 
of the soldiers lost their heads, and, instead of using their bayonets, 
seized their rifles and began firing with such recklessness that more 
of their comrades were injured by their bullets than by the knives of 
theGhazis. Of these latter, five or six were killed on the spot, but not 
a single man taken alive; and, as in the confusion, no one saw in what 
direction the survivors made good their escape, the affair could never 
be thoroughly investigated ; but from the fact that none of the dead 
were identified as belonging to the town, it was surmised that the 

1 " The Commissariat are out of wood, camels are dying off, and move we 
must before long, if we want to get out of our trip with any chance of success."- 
Kandahar in 1879 (February 4), p. 103, by Major Le Messurier. 

2 Native string beds had been provided, with thick felt mats m lieu of 
mattresses, and each patient was provided with a rough table. The whole citadel 
had been put into excellent sanitary condition ; the dry earth system mtroduced ; 
all refuse removed daily and buried in trenches outside the city walls. In the 
opinion of the Principal Medical Officer, Dy. Surgeon-General A. Smith, the 
whole arrangements, considering the means at his disposal, reflected the highest 
credit on Brigade-Surgeon J. B. C Reade's zeal and energy. 


whole party had entered it, in twos and threes, the evening before de- 
Uvering their desperate attack.' ^ 

Observation I. Wliere a captured or occupied city is without 
any civil authority, or machinery for the control of its turbulent 
elements, the more drastic the measures adopted to prevent disturb- 
ance and crime, the better both for the victors and the vanquished. 
General Stewart's first act on entering Kandahar, should have been to 
issue two proclamations : the one, to its inhabitants, commanding them 
to bring in and give up their weapons of every description ; the other, 
to the people of the surrounding country, forbidding them to come 
armed within the British outposts ; and until time had been allowed 
for these proclamations to have their full effect, no camp-follower or 
soldier, not on duty, should have been permitted to pass through the 
city gates, at each of which a search party should have been stationed, 
with orders to arrest every man found in possession of arms, whether 
worn openly or concealed about his person. A fair interval should 
have been granted to the townspeople and the villagers in which to 
learn and obey the order affecting them ; but, after a specified date, 

1 In this affray one Artilleryman lost his life, and three were wounded, of 
whom one mortally ; one man of the 59th and one of the 70th Foot woimded ; also 
a Native officer of the Ist Punjab Cavalry and three followers. After this occur- 
rence the troops were strictly enjoined to make use of their side arms, not of their 
rifles. " Our only excitement is trying to avoid these rascally Ghazis. A gang 
of them ran amuck in camp a few days ago, and the soldiers, losing their presence 
of mind, began to fire recklessly, and killed more men with their bullets than the 
Ghazis did with their knives. It is very disgusting having to guard against these 
brutes, and I am surrounded by sentries as if I were the Emperor of Germany. 
The mischief of the whole matter is that all the sentries in the world won't save 
one from a man who has no regard for his own Hie."— Sir Donald Stewart's Life, 
p. 250. 

2 The following extracts from a Diary of the march of the 15th Hussars in 
1878-9, kept by " A Soldier in the Ranks " (T. C. Hamilton), give a vivid pictiu-e 
of the hardships undergone by the men and the suffering endured by the animals 
who took part in the Khelat-i-Ghilzai Expedition : — January 15. " Halt at 


any violation of either proclamation should have rendered the 
offender liable to capital punishment. In a country like Afghanistan, 
however, where every man habitually carries arms for his own de- 
fence, the area within which such a proclamation should apply, 
ought always to be small, and so distinctly marked out that there 
can be no question as to its limits; and in no case should the death 
penalty attached to its violation be inflicted, except on a sentence 
pronounced by a regularly constituted military court, confirmed by 
the General Commanding, for its object is not the terrorizing of a 
people, but the prevention of crime, and the detection and punishment 
of the criminal. Had the measures recommended above been 
adopted, Lieutenant Willis would not have lost his life ; there would 
have been no rushing of the camp of the Royal Artillery and 59th 
Foot, and many outrages of later date would never have occurred. 

Robat. Forage rims short ; horses on half rations." January 16. " Numerous 

fatigues, these last two days getting in forage." January 18. ... " Fatigues 

for foraging. Commissariat is getting scanty. Got one pound of bread. 

January 19. " Got extra feeds for our horses to-day." January 20. " Very cold 

to-day ; out foraging till 6 p.m. Not much grain to be got, and not enough 

wood to cook all our rations. The element fire is. indeed, scarce up here. Roti 

(bread) getting short ; want of grain one of the reasons we left Kandahar." 

January 22. "Fearfully cold last night and this morning. No wood. 

Am weaker to-night." January 23. "General Stewart inspects our 

horses, which are mostly in very poor condition . . . supplies are very 

short now." 24th. " Awfully cold last night ; the thermometer down to 

5° or 6°. Stock of vegetables run out. Foraging parties out every day." 25th. 

" Out foraging till 6 p.m. . . . Our tea and sugar is further cut." 26th. " Troops 

go off reconnoitring to the Arghasan Valley, probably on account of scarcity of 

supplies. Got extra half-pound of mutton yesterday in lieu of groceries cut. 

Rain at night. 27th. " Out foraging Patrolling still kept up every 

night " 28th. " Very cold. Great scarcity of wood." 29th. " Find extra 
sentries and picket . . . duty is heavy." February 1. " Out foraging . . . 
Send a great many sentries and pickets now ; am gettmg only two or three 
nights in bed." February 5th. "Convoy comes in with highlows, socks, 
gloves, guernseys and waterproof sheets." 6th. "Very great difficulty m 
getting the camels to move in the mornings, as they are often frozen to the 
ground and unable to rise." 8th. Baggage often late, as the camels succumb m 
numbers to cold and hunger." 


Observation II. Although the occupation of Khelat-i-Ghilzai 
formed part of the Indian Government's programme of operations 
in Southern Afghanistan, the time of that operation was left as much 
to the discretion of General Stewart as the time of the annexation of 
Khost to the discretion of General Roberts ; and the responsibility for 
a risky and futile expedition rests even more exclusively with the man 
who planned and conducted it in the former case than in the latter, 
since the Viceroy and Commander-in-Chief were aware of Roberts's 
intention to invade Khost at the beginning of the year 1879, and for- 
bore to interfere ; but they had no knowledge of Stewart's intention to 
march on Khelat-i-Ghilzai within a week of arriving at Kandahar, 
till too late for their attempt to stop him to prove successful. That 
Stewart knew the expedition to Khelat-i-Ghilzai to be risky and futile 
can be shown from his own correspondence. 

On the 15th January, he wrote to his wife : " It has been rather a 
risky trip, this, as we have only two or three days' supplies in hand, 
and are living from hand to mouth on what we can pick up." And 
again, three days later, " A fall of snow would cut us off entirely from 
our base and source of supply." He might, with equal truth, have 
added, " And from the opportunities of picking up enough to keep us 
going from day to day," on which he had come to depend. The day 
after his entry into Kandahar he had written : "I am ordered to take 
Khelat-i-Ghilzai and Girishk, which I can easily do in eight or ten 
days, but what is to be done after that is a puzzle to me. I cannot 
get to Ghazni till spring, and by that time the Government of Afghanis- 
tan will have tumbled to pieces " ; and in the letter of the 18th 
already quoted from, he admitted that he did not know what he was to 
do after he got to Khelat-i-Ghilzai, unless it were to return to 
Kandahar. Of the two reasons assigned by General Stewart for doing 
what, on his own showing, he had better have left undone, the one — 
that " it is better to keep moving about and occupying the country 
than squatting in a place like Kandahar, where the troops will suffer 


from sickness and ennui " — though sometimes vaHd, had no applica- 
tion to the circumstances of the case ; and the other — that he wanted 
" to show the Russians that we can go where we Hke, even in winter 
^^l^Q " 1 — savours more of the spirit of the EngHsh schoolboy than of 
the judgment of a British Commander, Who can doubt that what 
Stewart's troops needed, after a long and terribly arduous march, was 
rest, and that they were far more likely to suffer from ennui in the 
wilderness into which he flung them, than in a large town, with bazaars 
full of objects of interest, and streets teeming with strange and vivid 
life ; and what could his advance to Khelat-i-Ghilzai teach the Russians 
save the old, old lesson, that, in a country like Afghanistan, the armies 
of a civilized state may, indeed, go where they like ; but how long they 
can remain at the points reached, and in what condition withdraw 
from them, depend, not on the will of their Commander or on their own 
courage and discipline, but upon their ability to procure food, and 
upon the greater or less severity of the season. How many of 
Stewart's camp-followers and men succumbed on the march to and 
from Khelat-i-Ghilzai, how many of the sick sent back to India shortly 
after the return of the Expedition to Kandahar, had belonged to it — 
cannot be ascertained ; but the corpses of nineteen hundred and twenty- 
four camels^ strewn along its route, reveal something of the price paid 
by General Stewart to vindicate his liberty of movement in the eyes 
of men who, noting his losses with cynical satisfaction, were in no 
danger of being deceived into mistaking failure for success. The 
extraordinary errors into which British Commanders allowed themselves 
to fall, both in the First and Second Afghan Wars, were largely due 
to ignorance of, or incapacity for assimilating the teachings of military 

1 Life of Sir Donald Stewart, pp. 243, 244. 

2 " Out of curiosity I asked Brigadier Hughes to count the skeletons of camels 
lying on the road from Khelat-i-Gilzai to Kandahar, and the list was 1,924. 
This was what we lost out of a division transport of about 3,500. Many more 
disappeared, but there is no doubt about those, as the carcases were counted 
by officers." (Ibid. p. 25.5.) 


history. If General Stewart had had present to his mind the example 
set him by the Duke of Welhngton, when, arriving victorious on the 
northern frontier of Spain, he disappointed the expectations of those 
who beheved he would at once invade France ; had he reflected on 
the reasons assigned by that great soldier for his determination to 
consider the question of such an invasion only in reference to the 
convenience of his (my) " own operations," — he would have spared his 
troops the trouble of marching to Khelat-i-Ghilzai, only to march back 
again. " An army which has made such marches and fought such 
battles as that under my command has," so wrote the Duke to Earl 
Bathurst from Lusaca on the 8tli August, 1813, "is necessarily much 
deteriorated. Independently of the loss of numbers by death, wounds 
and sickness, many men and officers are out of the ranks for various 
causes. The equipment of the army, their ammunition, the soldiers' 
shoes require renewal. The magazines for the new operations require 
to be collected and formed, and many arrangements to be made with- 
out which the Army could not exist a day, but which are not generally 
understood by those who have not had the direction of such concerns 
in their hands." Leaving out the allusions to battles fought and to 
the numbers of killed and wounded, this passage describes exactly 
the state of things in Stewart's army when it entered Kandahar. 
Men and transport were exhausted with long marches, the ranks of 
both thinned by death, sickness and various other causes ; equipment 
of all kinds required renewal, magazines re-stocking, and there were 
endless arrangements calling for attention — when the man who had 
" the direction of such concerns in his hands," for no object that he 
could himself define, decided to press on into a country resembling 
France in that " everybody was a soldier and the whole population 
armed," ^ but differing from it, in being poor and barren instead of 
rich and fertile. 

^ " Then observe that this new operation is the invasion of France, in which 
country everybody is a soldier, where the whole population is armed." — Despatch 
dated 8th August, 1813. 


To General Stewart's honour, however, it must be recorded that, 
though he did not profit by other men's experience, he learned wisdom 
from his own. Kandahar once regained, he embarked on no more 
adventures, but set himself steadily to the work of reorganizing and 
re-equipping his Force ; and when the day came for him to be consulted 
with regard to the terms of peace, ^ he opposed the retention of a 
province which, as he had come to recognize, could never maintain 
either a British or a Russian army of occupation of even twenty 
thousand men.^ 

^ See Memorandum on the Strategical and Political value of Kandahar as 
a Position, given on pp. 263-5 of Field-Marshal Sir Donald Stewarfs Life. 

^ " I am quite sure that, with all India at our back, we could not keep up a 
force of 20,000 men in one place, and I don't think Russia could do much better 
than ourselves in that respect." (Ibid. p. 248. ) 


Expedition to the Helmand 

The constitution of the 2nd Division of the Kandahar Field Force, 
after contributing its quota to the garrison of the city, was as follows :— 

I Battery, 1st Brigade Royal Artillery, 6 guns. 
nth Battery, 11th Brigade „ 2 mountain guns. 

Peshawar Mountain Battery, 4 guns. 
2nd Punjab Cavalry. 
3rd Sind Horse. 

70th Foot. 

Wing 19tli Punjab Infantry. 
29th Bombay Infantry (Baluchis). 
32nd Pioneex's. 

5th and 10th Companies Sappers and Miners. 
Engineer Field Park. 
2 Pontoon Boats. 

Strength of Force 

3,035 Troops of all ranks. 

2,087 Camp-followers. 

991 Horses. 

278 Bullocks. 

3G4 Ponies and Mules. 

2,251 Camels. 

The Division had lost Brigadier- General Nuttall, Captain Bissett, 
R.E., and Lieutenant Colonel Lane, placed in charge of the important 
depot of Kandahar ; but Brigadier-General Palliser and his Brigade- 
Major, Captain Abadie, had been re-transferred to it, and Captain 
W. Luckhardt had succeeded Lane as Principal Commissariat Officer, 

8 in: 

lies (1) 


, (2) 

m , 

, (3) 

8| , 

, (4) 


, (5) 


. (6) 

/ 9 

7 , 

, (8) 


Lieutenant J. E. Dickie, R.E., being attached as signalling officer, 
and Captain R, Beavon in charge of Survey party. 

Girishk, the objective of the expedition, lies on the right bank 
of the Helmand, and the distance from Kandahar to Abbazai, the 
village facing it on the left bank, is seventy- six and a half miles by 
the southern, and seventy-four and a half, by the northern road, 
divided, in each case, into eight stages, four of which coincide. 

(1) 8 miles Kokeran .... 

(2) 4 ,, Sinjiri .... 

(3) 12| „ Haus-i-Madat Khan . 

(4) 8J „ Ata Karez 

(5) 10 „ Killa Sayad. Kushk-i-Nakhud 

(6) 11 „ Band-i-Tomtir. Kliak-i-Chopan 

(7) 12 „ Bala Khana. Heckelial 

(8) 10 „ Abbazai 

Immediately after his arrival at Kandahar, General Biddulpli 
had personally reconnoitred the first of these stages, and had subse- 
quently sent out working parties to widen the road where it runs 
through the suburbs of the city, and to strengthen the bridges over 
the numerous water-courses by which it is intersected. On the 
14th of January, Palliser, with the cavalry, proceeded to Kokeran, 
on the left bank of the Ai-gendab, to collect supplies, and, that duty 
accomplished, gave place on the 16th, to Headquarters and the 
main body, and, crossing the river, occupied Sinjiri, where, on the 
17th, he was reinforced by the 32nd Pioneers, who had pushed on 
to join him after helping the Sappers and Miners to ramp the banks 
of the Argendab 1 for the passage of the guns. On the 18th, the 
main body encamped at Sinjiri, and the advanced guard, a march 
ahead, at Haus-i-Madat Khan. There was nothing in the nature of 
the country — a hard, flat, stony plain — to have prevented a rapid 
advance; but Biddulph, solicitous for the well-being of his sickly 

1 The Argendab is not a difficult river to cross, its fords, except during 
floods, being only two feet deep, with good gravelly bottoms, and its current 
not exceeding four miles an hour. 


transport, aware that the immediate object of his expedition was 
to relieve the pressure on the scanty food stores of Kandahar — he 
had started out with supplies for only one and a half days — and 
anxious, alike from motives of policy and humanity, to avoid driving 
the people along his route to despair by cruelly enforced exactions, 
moved slowly, drawing grain and forage from as wide an area as 
possible, and enforcing his requisitions according to a scheme thought 
out by his political officer, Colonel Moore, through the Maliks of the 
principal villages within reach.^ 

Advancing thus in leisurely fashion, he arrived at Ata Karez 
on the 23rd, where, to protect his right flank, and to reconnoitre the 
northern route to Abbazai, he detached a small column, under 
Colonel Tanner, to Kushk-i-Nakliud, with orders to regulate its sub- 
sequent movements by those of the main body, which was to follow 
the southern road, because, running for two more marches at no 
great distance from the Argendab, it seemed to hold out a better 
prospect of supplies. The reality proved so disappointmg, that at 
Killa Sayad, the very next halting place, Biddulph ordered General 
Lacy, with the undermentioned troops — 

I-l Royal Artillery, 4 gmis. 
11-11 Royal Artillery, 2 giins. 
70th Foot. 

Wing 19th Punjab Infantry. 
Wing 29th Baluchis— 

to retrace his steps to Ata Karez, whilst he transferred his own Head- 
quarters, the Peshawar Battery, the 10th Company of Sappers and 
the Pontoon Train, to Palliser's column at Bala Khana. Lacy 
executed a delicate duty with energy and discretion ; but his troops 
soon swept the district lying round Ata Karez bare of food and 
fodder, and, notwithstanding the exertions of his Purchasing Agents, 
Major C. Sartorius and Captam J. E. Waller, who visited many dis- 

^ See General Biddulph's Lecture, vol. 24, No. cvii. of the Journal of the 
Royal United Service Institution. 


tant villages in search of supplies, he had to fall back on Haus-i- 
Madat Khan, where he put himself into communication with Kan- 
dahar, by establishing a heliographic station on an isolated hUl near 
his camp. 

Even after the sacrifice of so large a part of its strength, it looked 
as if the second Division would faU to reach the Helmand ; and only 
by extending the operations of Colonel Moore's Purchasing Agents 
to the right bank of the Argendab, could Biddulph obtain sufficient 
food to carry his men through the last stage of their arduous journey. 
On the 29th, he reconnoitred the Helmand, and determined the ulti- 
mate disposition of his troops ; and the next day his Force, preceded 
by an advanced guard under Colonel Kennedy, consisting of — 

2nd Punjab Cavalry. 

32nd Pioneers. 

5th and 10th Company of Sappers and Miners — 

moved slowly forward through an apparently illimitable desert, 
stretching away westward to where, on the far horizon, a range of 
hills, bare and stony as the plain from which they spring, could be 
descried. Suddenly, at the men's very feet, lay a deep valley, two 
to three miles broad, its fertile surface diversified with hamlets and 
orchards ; Girishk, half hidden in jungle, on the further side ; and, 
flowing under the cliffs on which they stood, the swift, clear stream 
of the Helmand, winding among yellow sands, and giving the finishing 
toucli to the beauty which, in countless centuries of ceaseless change 
it had itself called into being, and then hidden from sight — for to step 
back only a few paces, was to lose all hint of it and its surroundings. 
That night, the troops, including Tanner's flanking party, slept 
on the left bank of the river ; but by ten o'clock the next morning, 
the Sappers, under the direction of Lieutenant L. F. Browne, R.E., 
had established a flying ferry across its channel. Mir Afzul, in his 
flight from Kandahar, had destroyed all the boats on the river except 
one, which the people of Abbazai saved by sinking it out of sight. 


This and the pontoon raft,^ brought up by the 5th Company of Sappers, 
sufficed for the conveyance of the Infantry, camp-followers and baggage 
belonging to the Force with which Palliser was to occupy positions 
on the further shore, the Cavalry and unladen camels crossing by 
the ford, in small groups, each accompanied by two or three guides, 
thanks to whose intimate knowledge of the stream, not a life was 
lost, though the water in places was four feet in depth, the current 
rapid, and the diagonal passage narrow and difficult to keep.^ 

Wlien all the dispositions previously determined on by the General 
had been carried out, only the Divisional Headquarters, the Pesha- 
war Mountain Battery, the Field Park and two hundred Baluchis 
remained on the southern side of the Helmand, encamped on the 
summit of the cliffs above Abbazai— the valley itself reeked with 
malaria. Two companies of Sappers were employed m ferry opera- 
tions on the right, and two companies of Pioneers on the left bank 
of the channel, whilst the bulk of Palliser's troops occupied a position 
on high ground above Girishk, which fort was garrisoned by small 
detachments of Pioneers and Baluchis, under Colonel Tanner, and 
gave shelter to the Commissariat depot and, in the first instance, to 

1 A raft consists of two pontoon boats. 

2 During the tiiiie the Force remained on the Hehnand only one man was 
drowned, and he lost his hfe in attempting, in defiance of orders, to cross the 
river without a guide. A dog belonging to the author frequently crossed the 
river at night to visit the only other canine member of the expedition, visits 
which were never returned. The following are the Helmand's principal fords : — 

(a) Koji Bazak Ford, about three miles above Abbazai, bottom stony, 
passage difficult. 

(6) Abbazai Ford. Very fair bottom ; water about 3| feet deep in dry weather. 

(c) A Ford about 700 yards below b and similar in character. Above Abbazai 
the river divides into two branches, which reunite three-quarters of a mile lower 
down, thus forming a long island between 300 and 400 feet wide, covered with 
brushwood and small jungle. Fords 6 and c cross the two channels on either 
side this island. 

(d) Ford Malger, 5 miles below Abbazai and of the same nature as b and 
c, minus the island. 

(e and /) The two Fords at Killa-i-Bist, both very easy to cross. (H.B.H.) 


the hospital ; but as every case of pneumonia — and there were many, 
especially among the Pioneers — treated within its walls, ended fatally, 
the sick were very soon removed into tents, pitched in a wide hollow, 
where, sheltered from the keen winds, they rapidly recovered.^ 

Hardly, however, had the arrangements for a prolonged sojourn 
on the Helmand been completed, than all illusions as to the value of 
its valley, as a source of supply, were roughl}^ dispelled. Both up 
and down stream, the stocks of grain and bliousa, within anything 
like easy reach of Girishk, were quickly exhausted, and the foraging 
parties and Purchasing Agents had to go ever further and further 
afield. Wlien one of these latter had been murdered by the Alizais 
of the Zemandawar, a district twenty-five miles from the British 
camp, and it had become impossible for the transport camels and 
the horses of their escort to go and return in a single day, — Palliser 
reported that some other system of collecting supplies would have 
to be devised, and Biddulph was driven to the dangerous expedient 
of scattering his cavalry over the country, leaving each detachment to 
forage for itself. How dangerous that expedient was, no one knew 
better than the General, whose thoughts were continually occupied 
with the problem of how to keep on good terms with tribes whom 
he saw himself compelled to strip of the very necessaries of life, and 
who was well aware that the discontent provoked by his exactions 
— pay as he might for the stores taken — was growing daily deeper 
and more widespread. That he adopted it, is the best proof of 
the straits to which he had been reduced within ten days of his 
arrival at Girishk.^ He continued, nevertheless, to believe that his 

^ Girishk, as a fort, is quite useless, as, being commanded by the opposite 
bank, it would be untenable under the fire of modern artillery. Forty years 
before Biddulph occupied it, Major J. Woodburn, one of Nott's most trusted 
officers, had recommended that it should be blown up. (H.B.H.) 

^ The troops were generally short of tea, sugar and vegetables. Scurvy 
was showing itself, and there was no lime-juice in camp. The grain procured 
locally was not unfrequently poisonous. At first, treachery was suspected, 
but a searching inquiry bhowcd that datuia plant had been garnered with the 


men were the advanced guard of a larger body that would march 
triumphantly on Herat, and, in that belief, began preparations for 
the building of a bridge over the river and for the improvement of 
the ferry service ; constructed a good military road between the ferry 
and the Helmand's northern bank — a work which called for the 
bridging of three wide water-courses — and sent out towards Herat, 
one reconnoitring party in the direction of Wasliir, sixty-two miles 
from Abbazai, and another, for three marches, towards Farrah, both 
of which brought back reports showing that, by either route, an 
invading army would have to carry all its supplies, and was likely 
to fare badly in the matter of water. He also took advantage of 
the scattering of the cavalry to extend his knowledge of the country 
through which he had advanced. An excellent traverse of the road 
between Kandahar and Abbazai had already been made by Captain 
Beavon ; now, the whole of the Argendab-Helmand Doab ^ was 
thoroughly surveyed ; and Biddulph himself, escorted by the Peshawar 
Battery and the Baluchi Infantry, visited Killa-i-Bist and the point, 
some miles below that ancient city, where the two rivers meet. From 
this interesting excursion he was recalled by news that the Alizais and 
other tribes were about to deliver simultaneous attacks on the British 
camps at Abbazai and Girishk.^ A forced march of forty miles 

corn, and this, though eaten with impunity by the people of the country, was 
hurtful to the troops, seventy of whom, from this cause, were under treatment 
at one time. The symptoms were extreme giddiness, followed in some cases by 
uiaconsciousness. No deaths occurred (H.B.H.) 

^ Doab. Strip of country lying between two rivers. 

^ " The Headquarters Camp commanded the passages (of the Hehnand), 
nevertheless our situation was critical, divided as we were by such an obstacle 
as lay between the two camps. Zemindawar, the country of the Alizais, a war- 
like tribe, was only 25 miles distant. There were signs of excitement in that 
quarter and a blow was threatened on both banks at the same time. Had an 
attack been made, we should have been found weak in numbers, as the troops 
were much occupied in distant expeditions ; reconnoitring and bringing in sup- 
plies." See General Biddulph's Lecture, vol. 24, No. cvii. of the Journal of the 
Royal United Service Institution. 


brought him to the latter place m time to frustrate plans which, in 
the dispersed state of his troops, might have proved successful ; and 
a few days later — the 15th of February — he received the unexpected 
order to withdraw his Force to Kandahar, preparatory to returning 
to India by the Thai Chotiali route. 

In view of the heat that would soon be setting in below the passes, 
delay was to be deprecated ; but it was impossible to move without 
supplies, and Biddulph had to wait till the 22nd of February for a convoy 
from Killa-i-Bist, where he had established a Purchasing Agency, 
and another from Kandahar, to ensure the safe arrival of which 
large bodies of cavalry were sent out. On the 19th, whilst strong 
reconnoitring parties watched the Zemandawar frontier to give timely 
notice of any symptoms of hostile unrest on the part of its inhabit- 
ants, Biddulph shifted his Headquarters back to the cliffs above 
Abbazai, and, in the course of the three following days, withdrew 
all the troops, sick and baggage from the right to the left bank of 
the Helmand. 

The retirement to AtaKarez, which began on the 23rd, via Kushk 
i-Nakhud, was covered by a rear-guard under Colonel H. P. Malcolm- 
son's command, consisting of two squadrons 3rd Sind Horse and 
one company 29tli Baluchis — strength seven officers and four hundred 
and six men, of whom two hundred and eighty-five were Cavalry. 
Malcolmson's orders were to watch the up-stream fords for a day 
and a night, and so to time his subsequent movements as to be always 
one march in rear of the main body, which, by the recall of Lacy to 
Kandahar, had lost the support it had hitherto enjoyed from the 
presence of a British column at Haus-i-Madat Khan. 

Ata Karez was reached, without incident, on the 26th ; but, after 
dark, two men of the 3rd Sind Horse galloped into camp bringing a 
message from Malcolmson, asking urgently for reinforcements both 
of Cavalry and Infantry, as he was surrounded by a large body of 
Tribesmen, and, though he had beaten off their attack, there was 


every likelihood of its being renewed during the night. The messengers 
were evidently very anxious, and there could be no doubt that the 
rear-guard was in danger of being overwhelmed before help could 
reach it, though Biddulph lost not a moment in despatching Lieutenant- 
Colonel G.Nicholetts with a squadron of the 2nd Punjab Cavaky and 
a wing of the 29th Baluchis — strength, two hundred and nmety-one 
officers and men — to its assistance. Wlien, after a rapid march, 
this little relief party arrived m the neighbourhood of Kushk-i-Nakhud, 
there were no lights to indicate the presence of friend or foe, and the 
stillness of the desert — that stillness which only they who have lived 
in that land of rocks and stones, can realize — was unbroken by the 
slightest movement of man or horse. For a moment Nicholetts thought 
of sounding a bugle call to give Malcolmson notice that friends were 
at hand ; but the reflection that the signal would be equally under- 
stood by the enemy, and must destroy any chance, there might be, 
of taking them by surprise m the morning, made him abandon the 
idea. So, in drizzling rain, he and his men lay hidden till dawn, 
silent and watchful, their minds full of doubt and anxiety ; for what 
disaster might not the darkness conceal from them, and what would 
be their own fate if those they came to succour, had already been 
anniliilated ? Daybreak dissipated their fears. An early patrol 
sent out by Nicholetts fell in with one of Malcolmson's ; and soon the 
two forces were merged into one, and the former officer had heard 
from the latter, the story of his narrow escape from destruction. 

Malcolmson had marched into Kushk-i-Nakhud at noon the pre- 
vious day, without the slightest suspicion that fifteen hundred Alizais 
and other Tribesmen, who, on the 25th, had crossed the Helmand 
by a ford far up-stream and, after a rapid march of thirty miles along 
the foot of the hills to the north of the Kandahar road, had spent 
the night in a ravine not far from Kushk-i-Nakliud — were, at that 
very time gathering on the reverse slope of some high ground, a mile 
and a half to the left front of the British position. Just as the officer 


in command of the Sind Horse was holding an inspection of the men's 
saddles, which, together with the bridles, were laid out on the ground — 
vedettes galloped in to report that they had seen a large body of 
men streaming over the adjacent ridge. The troopers coolly put their 
accoutrements together, saddled their horses and mounted. With 
equal steadiness, the Infantry fell in, and, in obedience to Malcolmson's 
order, Colonel Tanner brought their right shoulders forward so that 
their rifles might bear on the enemy's left. The Baluchis reserved 
their fire till the assailants were within five hundred yards of their 
ranks, and then poured into them such a storm of bullets that, to avoid 
it, they edged off to their own right, with the evident intention of occu- 
pying some huts and enclosed gardens. In doing this, they brought 
themselves on to ground favourable to Cavalry, and Malcolmson 
instantly wheeled his squadrons to the left, formed line and charged 
into the enemy's centre. A determined attack met with an equally 
determined resistance ; — the Cavalry rode through the heavy masses 
opposed to them, sabring right and left ; the Tribesmen forced their 
way through the Cavalry, hamstringing the horses as they pressed 
forward. At last the Zemandawaris' stubborn valour gave wav before 
the desperate courage of the Indian liorsemen, and, dividing into two 
columns, they retreated, still fighting, towards the hills. Major W. 
Rejmolds was sent in pursuit of the enemy's right wing ; Tanner, 
with the bulk of the Infantry, followed up the left, driving them, 
with heavy loss, into broken ground ; whilst Malcolmson, with a troop 
of horse and a small detachment of Baluchis, tried to cut off a 
third body that was making for a village not far from camp. A 
deep, wide water-course intervened, and a false alarm that the right 
of his position was threatened, reaching him as he pulled up on its 
edge, he recalled his troops, and set all hands to work to strike the tents 
and get the camp equipage, ammunition, treasure and stores into the 
fort before dark. This done, he placed his men in an enclosure, 
protected on three sides by a wall two and a half feet high, and all 


through the night sent out patrols, none of which chanced to approach 
the hollow where Nicholetts's party lay concealed. 

In this sharp afifair, the Infantry had no casualties, but the Cavalry 
had their second in command, Major William Reynolds, and four 
men killed, and Colonel Malcolmson and twenty-three men wounded, 
besides losing twenty-eight horses. Reynolds had been wounded 
early in the action, but continued to lead his men, and fell in the pur- 
suit. In his despatch, Malcolmson, whose own wound fortunately 
was slight, brought the following officers' names to notice : — 

Lieutenant-Colonel O. V. Tanner. 
Captain J. P. Maitland. 
Lieutenant H. C. Hogg. 
Lieutenant F. D. N. Smith. 
Lieutenant B. L. P. Reilly. 
Surgeon C. E. E. Boroughs. 

Praise of Boroughs' gallantry failed to save him from being re- 
minded by the Deputy-Surgeon-General that a medical officer's place 
was with the wounded, not in the fighting line ; an undeserved rebuke, 
since, in this case, every man was needed to repulse the enemy, who, 
led by^iiefs of distinction, displayed both military skill, and the 
utmost coolness and contempt of death. The total number of their 
killed probably exceeded two hundred — one hundred and sixty-three 
bodies were counted in the open, amongst them that of Abu Bukker, 
the Alizai chief who had murdered the Purchasing Agent's party a 
week or two before. One of the three men taken prisoners, stated 
that a hundred and twenty wounded had escaped, or been carried 
off by their friends ; but the explanation of the fact that only these 
three fell alive into Malcolmson's hands was an ugly one : whilst the 
troops were in pursuit, the camp-followers broke loose ; and, as they 
certainly mutilated the bodies of their dead foes in barbarous fashion, 
there is strong reason to suspect that they murdered all whom they 
found still living ; but as there were no outside witnesses of their 
brutal deeds, the crime could not be brought home to them. 


General Biddulph and his StafT rode into Kushk-i-Nakhud shortly 
after the meeting of Malcolmson and Nicholetts, and after inspecting the 
field of battle and visiting the wounded,returned, with the troops, to Ata 
Karez. The next morning, just when all was ready for a start, camels 
laden, Infantry fallen in. Cavalry thrown forward to examine the ground 
to the front and flanks — an officer galloped up to announce that the 
Tribesmen were rapidly advancing in numerous columns, with banners 
displayed and flags flying. Apparently, the Zemandawaris defeated 
by Malcolmson, had been reinforced, and were about to try their for- 
tune a second time. Camels and baggage were hastily parked, with 
strong guards told off to protect them ; the reserve ammunition 
was placed at points convenient for the troops, who were drawn up in 
line of contiguous columns ready to deploy, and then — another mes- 
senger arrived, breathless, to explain that the dust-enveloped masses 
of the enemy had resolved themselves into flocks of mountain sheep, 
whose long tails, wagging in the air, had been changed into waving 
banners by the mirage, so common in Afghanistan. The news was 
received with shouts of laughter, mingled with some grumbling over 
lost time and wasted energy, and tempered by a general feeling of dis- 
appointment that, after all, the bulk of the troops were to see no 
fighting ; then the quickly made preparations were as quickly un- 
done, and the interrupted march resumed. 

Two days later, March 1st, Biddulph's Division re-entered Kan- 
dahar in a storm of sleet and rain. It had been absent exactly six 
weeks; and thougli it had had the same Commissariat difficulties 
to struggle with that had troubled Stewart's Force, in coping with 
which the Cavalry horses were well-nigh worn out, yet, thanks to a 
milder climate and an abundance of fuel all along the course of the 
Helmand, it had suffered comparatively little in health, and there 
were no heavy losses among its transport animals to deplore. 



Observation I. Biddulph's expedition to Girishk was as barren of 
results as Stewart's to Khelat-i-Ghilzai ; it failed even of the immediate 
advantage expected of it, for the troops had to be mainly supported 
by provision convoys sent out from Kandahar ; and, though the camels 
improved in condition, the cavalry horses were worn out in the inces- 
sant search for food. Its chief effect was to rouse the inhabitants 
of the Zemandawar into active hostility, and to bring trouble on the 
peaceable inliabitants of the Doab,^ whose villages were threatened 
and, in some cases, plundered by the Tribesmen in revenge for their 
defeat at Kushk-i-Nakhud, lack of carriage for a time rendering it 
impossible to afiford them the protection to which they had a claim 
at the hands of their ne^ rulers. All that was really gained would 
have been attained, without these drawbacks, by sending the spare 
camels to Ata Karez with a strong Cavalry and Infantry guard. 

Observation II. The disposition of Biddulph's troops on the Hel- 
mand was faulty in the extreme. In an enemy's country to divide 
so small a force — fifteen hundred men with only four guns, its nearest 
supports fifty miles aw^y — would have been unwise under any cir- 
cumstances ; but to place the bulk of the troops on the further side 
of a deep and rapid river, flowing through a vallej' so intersected by 
water-courses as to be impassable by night, and to leave Headquarters, 
the mountain guns, and the Engineer Park on the hither side, pro- 
tected only by a few hundred men with a desert at their back — was 

1 " The defeat of the Alizais on the 26th ultimo has had less effect than was 
expected. Bands of Alizais and other vagabonds, religious and predatory, 
collecting to the number of two thousand in the neighbourhood of Kandahar, 
at a distance of thirty miles, are looting weak and threatening strong villages, 
in the name of the Amir and Islam. The respectable inhabitants, including the 
Barakzais, are inclined to assist in putting the vagabonds down, but nearly all 
the means of carriage have been absorbed by the returning force, and none are 
left for columns strong enough to restore order at any distance." — Telegram 
from the Kandahar correspondent of the Times, dated 6th Marcli, 1879. 



to expose the latter to serious risks. Yet, to have kept the whole force 
together on the left bank of the stream, would have added enormously 
to the labour and danger incurred in the collection of supplies, as the 
resources from which they were drawn, lay on the right bank, and the 
unsupported foraging parties would have been constantly liable to 
attack and capture. It should never be forgotten that a commander's 
first duty is to his troops, and that only exceptional circumstances — 
circumstances in which some much higher interest than that of their 
safety is involved — can justify him in exposing them to the possibility 
of having to choose between starvation and annihilation at the hands 
of the enemy. In the case under consideration, there were neither 
political nor military reasons calling for the maintenance of a position 
on the Helmand. There was no enemy to keep at baj^ no friendly 
force to rescue or support, no rich province to hold for the sake of 
its teeming supplies. Biddulph, therefore, when brought face to 
face with two equally unwise courses, should have informed the Indian 
Government that he had been given a task to which his troops and 
his material resources were alike inadequate, and have asked either 
to be placed in a position to perform it satisfactorily, or to be permitted 
to return to Kandahar. 

Observation III. In the retirement from the Helmand, wise caution 
was shown in watching the fords till the troops were clear of the river, 
but only Cavalry, unencumbered with baggage, should have been used 
for that purpose, with orders to rejoin the main body the same evening ; 
for the safety of a small force depends on keeping its units together, 
and on making up for its deficiency in numbers by enhanced vigilance, 
surprise being guarded against by night and day patrolling ; by sur- 
rounding camps with strong outlying pickets, protected by sangars ; 
l>y holding a certain proportion of the troops ever ready to fall in ; 
and by so timing marches that baggage and rear-guard shall reach 
the camping ground before dark. Malcolmson's detachment was 
not a rear-guard in the ordinary acceptance of that term, for it had 


no connection with the main body ; and, for the same reason, the 
detachment which marched to Abbazai by the northern road was 
not a flanking party. Both were dangerously weak, and the recon- 
noitring performed by Tanner's men could have been done equally 
well from the Helmand. On the important point of keeping a force 
together. Sir William Nott gave excellent advice to Colonel Wymer 
in the letter already quoted from. " The Major-General," so he wrote, 
" has taken every precaution in his power to fit out your detachment 
in the most efficient manner, and provided you keep it together and, 
unless absolutely necessary in your military judgment, never allow 
of it being divided and frittered away into parties, it must be suc- 
cessful." ^ 

Observation IV. In the action of the 26th February, the troops 
were skilfully handled and well led ; but, before the fight, military 
precautions seem to have been neglected. Had Malcolmson on his 
arrival at Kushk-i-Nakhud despatched strong Cavalry patrols to 
search the ground beyond the screen of hills, and posted an observa- 
tion party on its crest, he would have received timely warning of the 
enemy's presence. Until this step had been taken, a saddle parade 
was out of place, and one half the troops should have been held 
ready to mount at a moment's notice. 

^Major-General Sir William Nott, G.C.B., by J. H. Stoqueler, vol. I. 
p. 337. 


Visit of the Commander-in-Chief to Jellalabad 

In the midst of the Mohmand troubles, Sir S. Browne received the 
welcome news that the Commander-in-Chief and the Headquarters 
Staff had left Calcutta, and were on their way up country to visit 
the Peshawar Valley and the Kuram Field Forces. It was a relief 
to the harassed General to have the prospect of submitting his 
arrangements to a higher judgment, and of obtaining from the best 
authority some information as to the work which he might still be 
called upon to perform. 

On the 24th of February, Sir Frederick Haines arrived at Jumrud, 
where he visited the hospitals, inspected the fortifications, and re- 
viewed the troops, on whose soldierly appearance he was able to 
compliment General Maude.i That night he slept at Ali Masjid, 

1 " On this occasion the 5th Fusiliers (1st Battalion) turned out so strong 
that, as the ground available for parade purposes was limited in space, the 
Regiment formed up in half battalions. This regiment had passed the hot 
weather of 1878 in the hills, and was largely composed of seasoned soldiers, 
who maintained their efficiency and health during the campaign, while other 
regiments, such as those that had been stationed at Peshawar, . . . were so 
impregnated with fever that hard duty and variations of climate soon told on 
their shattered constitutions. . . . No regiment should, if possible, be kept 
at a notoriously unhealthy station . . . for a longer period than a year. The 
prospect of a change for the better . . . would have a good effect on the men's 
spirits, and any expense the Government would incur in carrying out these reliefs 
would be amply compensated for by the increased efficiency of the regiments 
concerned, to say nothing of the saving of life and health." — General Maude's 
Diary, 24th February, 1879. 



and the next day rode through the Khyber, the hills on either side 
of the pass being crowned with troops to ensure him and his party 
against the possibility of attack. On the 28th he was at Jellalabad, 
where he remained till the 3rd of March. During this time he in- 
spected the garrison, selected a site on the hills, about a mile from 
the town, for the cantonments which had become necessary since 
the Government had made up its mind to a permanent occupation 
of that post, issued orders for the erection of huts for the accom- 
modation of the men during the coming hot season, and sanctioned 
the construction of a fortified enclosure to protect the great sheds con- 
taining supplies and military stores. But whilst busy with these 
immediate details, the Commander-in-Chief was on the alert to take 
in and weigh every feature of the general situation, a knowledge of 
which might enable him to advise the Government as to its future 
military policy, and afterwards he held a long consultation with Sir 
S. Browne and General Maude at Peshawar, when many important 
matters were discussed. 

The distribution of troops between Jumrud and Jellalabad had 
not satisfied Sir Frederick ; it seemed to him that there was too much 
overlapping of Browne's and Maude's commands, and that Jella- 
labad, at the extreme end of the line of advance, and the point from 
which a further forward movement would have to be made, was far 
too weak. To obviate these defects it was now agreed that the 2nd 
Division should take over charge of the whole line of communica- 
tions, with its Headquarters at Lundi Kotal, where a fort and huts 
were to be erected ; and that, strengthened by the addition of a wing 
of the 9th Lancers, the 10th Bengal Lancers, the 12th Foot ^ and the 
39th Bengal Infantry, it should be distributed for the time being, 
at its Commander's discretion, between Jumrud, Ali Masjid, 

* " The 12th Foot, a very nice Battalion, commanded by Colonel Walker, 
joined my Division. ... A good many young soldiers in it." — General Maude's 
Diary, 18th April, 1879. 


Lundi Kotal, Dakka, BasawaP and Barikab, with the addition, 
later on, of Jellalabad.- The 1st Division, reinforced by the Heavy 
Battery and the 51st Foot, whilst temporarily continuing to have 
its Headquarters at Jellalabad, was to occupy Gandamak, at which 
place, in view of the likelihood that it might have to serve as a 
secondary base of operations, a strong position was to be secured, 
extensive enough to contain a field hospital and a depot for Commis- 
sariat stores, but not so extensive as to require to be defended by 
a large force. 

When these and other matters had been settled, the Commander- 
in-Chief left Peshawar for the Kuram, and Sir S. Browne returned 
to Jellalabad charged with the responsibility of preparmg a com- 
prehensive scheme for that advance on Kabul which the political 
aims of the Indian Government might at any moment demand. The 
desire to have his name associated with the capture of the Afghan 
capital must have been a powerful inducement to Browne to place 
the undertaking m the most favourable light ; but the uprightness 
of his character, and his exhaustive knowledge of all the conditions 
of the problem given him to solve, prevailed over personal ambition, 
and the document which was to have shown how Kabul could be 
reached, amounted, when complete, to a demonstration of the fact 
that, under then existing circumstances, it could not be reached at all. 

So far as troops were concerned, Browne considered that if he 

took with him his whole Division and estabhshed no posts to keep 

open his communications,^ he would be strong enough to overcome 

^ A Commissariat depot was to be formed at this place, and shelter pro- 
vided for troops and Commissariat establishment. 

2 The new arrangement gave Maude — 

4 Batteries Royal Artillery, 

1 Regiment of British Cavalry, 

2 Regiments of British Infantry, 
6 Regiments of Bengal Infantry. 

3 Browne justified this departure from ordinary miUtary caution on the 
grovmd that he would not be able to spare the men to hold tlie posts, and that 


any resistance he might encounter, either in going or returning, and, 
marching by the Khurd Kabul route— the same that Pollock had taken 
in 1842— he would reach Kabul on the eighth day ; but he could not 
assume a like adequacy with regard to transport. The weather would 
be warm, therefore tents could be dispensed with, and little baggage 
need be taken ; but in the matter of food there could be no stuiting 
and no trusting to the resources of the country. An ill-fed army, 
his experience taught him, was an inefficient one ; and though he 
did not anticipate delays, he felt bound to provide against them to 
the extent of carrymg fifteen days' supplies for his eight days' march. 
Calculating on this basis, he found that for eight thousand men and 
two thousand one hundred horses he should need — 






For Guns . 
Baggage Stores 
and Ammunition. 
15 Days' Supplies . 

Total . . . 








and if, to save the time and stores and labour that would be con- 
sumed in converting Gandamak into an auxiliary base, the expedition 
started from Jellalabad — an alternative preferred by him— fourteen 
hundred and fifty-two additional camels would be required. But 
as two mules are always reckoned equal to one camel, the necessary 
carrying capacity expressed in camel-loads would amount to ten 
thousand six hundred and sixty-seven,i while the carriage actually 
at his disposal amounted only to three thousand five hundred and 
sixty loads — two thousand eight hundred camels, fifteen hundred 

the posts themselves would be in danger of being cut off, and unable to com- 
municate with either the front or the rear. If the point should be decided 
against him, he suggested that fortified enclosures should be established at 
Jugdallak, Kala Sang and Tezin. 

1 Sir George Pollock, for 8,000 men, took with him 10,736 camel-loads. 


and twenty mules. Colonel G. S. Macbean whom he had consulted, 
had promised to provide him with a fresh draft of eleven hundred and 
thirty-two camels and twelve hundred and fifty-eight mules, and 
to transfer two thousand camels and one thousand mules from the 
line of communications ; ^ yet, even then, the total carrying capacity 
of the transport provided would be equivalent but to seven thousand 
five hundred and forty-three camel-loads, three thousand one himdred 
and twenty-four loads less than his mmimum requirements.^ Under 
these circumstances, all that he felt justified in recommending in 
the matter of an advance on Kabul, was the immediate transference 
of his Division to the cooler and healthier climate ^ of Gandamak. * 
Preparations for this next step, which had long been in progress, 
were now pressed forward with redoubled activity. In addition 
to military movements, to be dealt with in a later chapter, they 
included fresh efforts to accumulate supplies, to increase the stock 
of transport animals, and to allay the suspicions and soften the 
hostility of the Afridis ; for though the arrangements to secure 
the line of communications through the Khyber were by this time 
excellent, they were not so perfect but that a combination of the Pass 

^ This transference would have deprived the Second Division of mobihty. 

2 Sir S. Browne noted that his estimate made no allowance for deaths among 
the transport animals, or for their drivers deserting with them, though he believed 
that the losses from both causes would liave been heavy. He mentioned, too» 
that he had no hope of obtaining any further camels from the Kabul traders. 

3 There had been a sudden increase of sun heat, and the Eiuopean troops 
had begun to suffer from fever, pneumonia and dysentery, in consequence of 
the difference in temperature between the days and the nights : Maximum, 86° 
minimum, 46^. 

4 Sir S. Browne sent in his draft-scheme early in April, and it was quickly 
apparent that his blunt statement of the difficulties standing in the way of an 
advance on Kabul had not shaken Lord Lytton's desire to bring the war to 
an end by the capture of that city, for, on the 13th, General Maude received, 
from the Adjutant-General, an official intimation that, in such an advance, 
he would command the First Division, Major-General R. O. Bright, the Second, 
and Sir S. Browne, the whole Force, with Colonel C M. Macgregor as chief of 
the staff. 


Tribes might jeopardize them, and, with them, the very existence 
of the troops in advance. And the Afridis were mieasy ; they had 
not forgiv^en the invasion of Bazar, and the attempt to penetrate 
into Bara, and they could not see why, now Shere Ali was dead, the 
Indian Government should continue to keep an army in Afghanistan 
and to build forts and barracks in their territory. It was no easy 
matter to explain conduct so distinctly at variance with the promises 
made to them at the beginning of the war ; but the Viceroy did the 
best he could to appease their discontent by appointing Mr. Donald 
Macnabb as Political Officer of Maude's Division, in succession to 
Cavagnari, when the latter moved on to Gandamak. 

Dvu-ing his visit to Jellalabad, Sir Frederick Haines was shown many places 
of interest connected with the memorable siege of that town, by the only officer 
in Sir Samuel Browne's Force, who had been a member of its " illustrious garrison" 
— Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. Bailey, Rifle Brigade. 

This officer was able to point out the bastion held by what was then his 
regiment, the 13th Foot, from which Dr. Brj'don, the sole survivor of the British 
Army massacred in the I^urd Kabul and Jagdalak Passes was first descried ; 
the garrison graveyard, now covered by a mosque ; the tracings of the fortifica- 
tions which it had taken the garrison three months to construct, and an earth- 
quake an hour or two to destroy ; and, lastly, the spot, where his owna gallant 
commanding officer. Colonel Dennie, fell in the engagement, in which Mahomed 
Akbar was driven across the Kabul river with the loss of all his tents and baggage. 
— H.B.H. 


The Occupation of Gandamak 


On the last day of March, information reached Sir S. Browne that 
Azmutulla Khan, with a large following, had again descended into 
the Laghman Valley, where he was working to bring about a fresh 
combination of the Tribes against the British occupation of their 
country, and that the Khugianis, a powerful clan, occupying the 
fertile lands that lie to the south of Futtehabad, a large village seven- 
teen miles west of Jellalabad, were assembling in great numbers in the 
neighbourhood of Khaja, their principal border fortress. To prevent 
the threatened mischief assuming larger proportions, Browne in- 
stantly organized three lightly equipped columns — no tents were 
taken, and the ammunition mules carried only half loads — one of 
which, under Major E. Wood, was to march to Chaharbagh in the 
Laghman Valley and capture, or drive out, Azmutulla ; another, under 
Brigadier-General Macpherson, was to cross the Siah Koh (Black 
Mountain) by the Jowari Chann Pass into the valley on its further 
side, to cut what was expected to be that chief's line of retreat ; and 
the third, under Brigadier-General Charles Gougli, was to march on 
Futtehabad, and disperse the Khugianis. 
Macpherson's Column, consisting of : — 

The Hazara Mountain Battery, 
A wing 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, 
Do. 4th Gurkhas, 
Do. 20th Punjab Infantry, 
A Company of Sappers and Miners, 
Approximate strength — 1,000 men and 4 guns. 


was the first to move. It left camp at 9 p.m. and, marching quickly, 
followed the course of the Kabul River up-stream for nine miles, and 
then, turning sharply northward, made its way through lands cut up 
by muddy irrigation channels, which so delayed it that the moon had 
set before it reached the Surkhab.^ Here, the usual ford was found 
to be impassable, and another had to be sought. When this had been 
discovered, about half a mile lower down, at a point where the river 
divides into two branches — the whole force crossed m pitch darkness, 
and, pressing on, arrived about 4 a.m., at the foot of the Siali Koh. 
Here, there was a pause of fifty minutes, to allow of the troops closing 
up, and then the passage of that range began. The track presented 
many difficulties, its steep ascents and descents being strewn with 
huge boulders, or running over layers of sheet rock, so slippery that 
it seemed impossible for horse or mule to keep its footing ; but at 
last the crest — five thousand three hundred feet above sea level — was 
reached, and Macpherson, hearing that AzmatuUa was still in Laghman, 
and hoping to catch him near Bairam Khan Fort, where he would 
probably try to cross the Kabul River, hurried down the further 
side of the pass with a detachment of the Rifle Brigade, only to find 
that his expected prisoner had made good his escape, and that his 
followers had dispersed to their villages. 

As pursuit was out of the question, and the troops — the same who 
five months previously had scaled the rocky heights of Rotas — 
though now inured to steep hillsides and stony ways, were exhausted 
by the long march, Macpherson determined to spend the night on the 
further side of the mountains, and the men's eyes turned anxiously 
to the path by which they had descended, watching for the rear- 
guard and the loaded mules. But nothing was seen of them that 
day, nor till 2 p.m. on the morrow, when they rejoined the main body 
on its homeward march. It turned out that they had missed their way 

^ A tributary of the Kabul River, and, like that stream, very dangerous 
at the season of the melting of the snows. 


and wandered down to Futtehabad, where they had blundered into 
Gough's column, and been promptly sent back, by paths so steep and 
narrow, that the 20th Punjab Infantry had been obliged, again and 
again, to unload and reload their mules. 

At midnight, orders reached Macpherson to detach De Lautour's 
Mountam Battery, with an escort of two hundred Infantry, to rein- 
force Gough, and to return himself, with the rest of the troops, to 
Jellalabad. A few hours later, the column was again in motion, and 
though the Duranda Pass, by which its commander had elected to 
return, proved little less difficult than the Jowari Chann, by nightfall 
it was once more in quarters. 

Major Wood's Column, consisting of a squadron of the 10th Hussars 
and one of the 11th Bengal Lancers, had left camp half an hour after 
Macpherson's.^ To reach the Laghman Valley the Kabul River had to 
be crossed, and as, owmg to its swollen state, the trestle bridge had 
been removed, the troops were obliged to make use of the ford just 
below the spot where that bridge had stood. The bed of the river at 
this point is about three-quarters of a mile broad ; but, in mid-stream, 
a stony island divides it into two channels. Between the right bank 
and this island, the ford — a wide strip of gravel strewn with boulders — 
is drawn in a straight line from shore to shore ; but between the 
island and the left bank, it runs first down the stream at an angle of 
45°, then up-stream at the like angle, and above and below it, are 
rapids, broken by sandbanks and rocks. The V-shaped half of this ford 
is at all times dangerous, yet Jenkins and Gough seem to have been 
the only two senior officers who recognized the danger, and, unfor- 
tunately, a report of the former, in which he deprecated the use of it at 
night, was forgotten, or overlooked, by the Quartermaster- General's 
Department, in the hurry and stress of preparing three forces, at short 
notice, for the field. The moon was sinking and the dark shadows of 

1 The infantry supports which were to have followed the next day, were 
countermanded when news came that the Ghilzais had fled from Laghman. 


the hills were falling across the valley when the column rode down to 
the river, and crossed over to the island without mishap, the single 
guide attached to it, leading the way, followed first by the squadron of 
the 11th Bengal Lancers in half sections, i.e. four abreast ; next, by 
two mules led by their drivers ; and, lastly, by the squadron of the 
10th Hussars, also in half sections. Captain R. C. D'E. Spottiswoode at 
their head. By this time the darkness had deepened, so that no man 
could do more than dimly discern his neighbour, and the roar and rush 
of the river drowned every voice save its own ; yet, once again, the 
guide and the Bengal Lancers, composed of men accustomed from 
youth up to the treacherous rivers of the Punjab, reached the opposite 
bank in safety. Nevertheless, in the long column there had been a 
slight yielding to the pressure of the stream, so that at the apex of the 
V its tail had been dangerously near the edge of the ford ; so near, that 
the mules and muleteers, following close behind, stepped off into deep 
water and were at once swept over the rapids.^ Almost at the same 
moment, Spottiswoode's horse— a powerful English charger— lost his 
footing, recovered it, lost it again, and finally, after being carried 
down some distance, swam to land with his rider, on the further shore. 
As with the leader, so with the rank and file. Too closely locked up 
for one section to take warning by the fate of that in front of it, the 
whole squadron missed the ford at the same point, and in a moment 
men and horses, closely packed, were fighting for life, rolling over and 
over in the swift, strong flood. Many of the men were drowned, or 
kicked to death by the struggling chargers, a few carried on to 
sandbanks and so saved. The last to enter the water, Sub-Lieutenant 
C. M. Grenfell, escaped through the wise instincts of his horse, who 
swung round the moment he felt himself in deep water, and regained 
the shore which he had just left. The Bengal Lancers on the left 

^ The official reports say nothing as to the fate of the mules and drivers, 
but, according to private sources of information, they all succeeded in gettini? 
back to land. 


bank of the river knew nothing of this sudden tragedy; but two men 
of the 10th who had lingered on the island when their comrades entered 
the river, saw, as it seemed to them, the whole squadron in mid- 
channel suddenly face to the right, gallop down stream and vanish 
from sight.^ The first intimation of what had occurred, was carried 
into camp by riderless, dripping horses, who about 11 p.m. rushed 
through the lines of the Horse Artillery to those of the 10th 
Hussars. That a great disaster had befallen that regiment was 
evident, and the officers in camp belonging to it, hurried down to the 
ford, followed by doctors and ambulances, and, as quickly as possible 
by Major G. E. L. S. Sandford with the elephants of the Heavy 
Battery, equipped with ropes, and carrying large bundles of firewood. 
Soon a huge bonfire was blazing on the island, and, by its light, Lieu- 
tenant the Hon. J. P. Napier and a few of his men were discovered 
on a sandbank below the rapids, and dragged, bruised and exhausted, 
to shore. Not till morning could there be any search for the dead, 
and then only the bodies of Lieutenant Harford and eighteen men 
were recovered ; '- all the rest had been swept away and were never 
seen again, though, later on, a report was current that they had 
been cast up by the flood, stripped by the Natives and flung back 
into the river. 

The loss sustained by the 10th Hussars on that fatal night was 
one officer, three non-commissioned officers and forty-two rank and 
file—total casualties forty-seven; nearly two-thirds of the squadron 

^ Memoirs of the Tenth Royal Hussars, p. 402. 

2 " As daylight came and the banks lower down were searched, the bodies 
were found jammed amongst the boulders and under the rocky banks. The 
men were in full marching order, khaki, with putties and warm underclothing. 
They had their swords on and carried their carbines slung over their shoulders 
and their pouches were full. A man so accoutred simply had no chance against 
the swollen river."— Surgeon-Major George T. H. Evatt's Personal Recollections. 

" Many amongst them were excellent swimmers . . . but the water was 
bitterly cold from the molting snows, and the poor fellows were quickly be- 
numbed."— Memoirs of the Tenth Royal Hussars, p. 401. 


which had left camp seventy-five strong.* Only thirteen horses were 
drowned ; the rest, when freed from their riders, having swum to land, 
on one bank or the other. 

In the hurry and horror of this unexpected catastrophe, Sir S. Browne 
did not forget the important movement that was in progress, and 
quickly despatched another troop of the 11th Bengal Lancers to take 
the place of the lost Hussars. Furnished with guides and lighted by 
the fire on the island, the Lancers crossed over safely, and, thus re- 
inforced. Wood pushed on to his destination, where he arrived too 
late to capture AzmutuUa, who, warned of his approach, had quitted 
the valley, and was by that time well on his way to Kabul. 

Saddened by the knowledge of the misfortune which had overtaken 
Wood's force, Gough's Column left camp at 1 a.m. of the 1st of April. 
The night was intensely dark, and difficulty was experienced in forming 
up the men, so hard was it to distinguish the stony track from the stony 
plain through which it ran; but, once started, its progress was fairly 
rapid, and daybreak found it within a mile of Futtehabad. It was 
soon discovered that the inhabitants, who were reputed friendly, had 
deserted the village, and there was reason to fear that many of them 
had gone to swell the ranks of the Khugianis. A site for a camp 

^ " Several instances of gallantry, worth recording, took place during this 
terrible calamity, and none more so than the conduct of Lieutenant Charles 
Greenwood, who, although much exhausted by his efforts, had extricated hhn- 
self from the quicksands and found himself on an island. Hearing cries for help 
he again entered the water and found a man thirty yards out, unable to move 
m the deep gravel and almost drovvning. Lieutenant Greenwood failed in 
getting the man out alone, when Lieutenant Grenfell, hearing the shouts came 
to his assistance, and together they brought the man in safety to the shore 
Lieutenant Greenwood received the Humane Society's medal for his conduct 
on the occasion. 

"Private Crowley, who had swum with his horse a considerable distance and 
remained with it vmtil it succumbed, had great difficulty himself in reaching 
the shore, and on doing so went to the assistance of Lieutenant the Hon J 
Napjer. whom he helped to rescue. "-Memoir, of the Tenth Royal Hussars 


was selected, and the Cavalry found shelter under some trees whilst 
waiting for the rest of the Column to come up. The Infantry and 
guns came in at 10 a.m. ; the baggage animals not till nightfall. Gough 
made use of the day's halt to acquire all the information he could as 
to the strength and whereabouts of the enemy, sendmg out numerous 
patrols and interviewing a good many local chiefs, amongst whom the 
Khans of Gandamak and Khuja were conspicuous by their absence. 
Early next day, he despatched Major H.F. Blair, R.E., and Major the 
Hon. A. Stewart, commanding the Horse Artillery, with an escort 
of thkty men of the 10th Hussars, to reconnoitre the road as far as 
Nunla Bagh, at the foot of the ascent to Gandamak, and report on its 
condition ; whilst Captam J. Davidson, Quartermaster- General's Staff, 
and Lieutenant R. Purdy, R.H.A., with thirty men of the Guide Cavalry, 
were sent south towards Khuja, the principal village of the Khugianis, 
to try to ascertain the temper of that tribe. Its unfriendliness was 
shown by their firmg on the reconnoitring party ; and Davidson 
reported on his return that they were in large numbers, with outposts 
thrown forward to withm five miles of the British Camp, evidently 
prepared to give battle. Fmding that he was in presence of an enemy, 
Gough at once seized a hill from which the Khugianis' movements could 
be observed, the picket on which reported, about 1 p.m., that masses 
of men were advancmg from the direction of Khuja, and forming up 
on the edge of a plateau, four miles south of the Gandamak road. 
As Blah and his escort had not returned, Gough ordered Major 
Wigram Battye, with three troops Guide Cavalry, to go in search of 
them, as far as the point where that road crossed the slopes leading 
up to the plateau on its northern side, and here he was quickly joined 
by the missing party. 

Leavmg Lieutenant-Colonel C. M'Pherson, with three hundred 
Infantry and a squadron of Cavalry to guard the camp, Gough, with 

4 guns I.e. R.H.A. : Major the Hon. A. Stewart, 

3 troops 10th Hussars : Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Ralph Kerr, 


240 men 17tli Foot": Major F. S. S. Brind, 

220 „ 27th Punjab Infantry : Lieutenant-Colonel C. J. Hughes, 

240 „ 45th Sikhs : Major C. L. Woodruffe— 

followed Battye, and on reaching him found that the Khugianis, 
numbering about five thousand men, held a very strong position 
that stretched for a mile along the edge of the plateau, its flanks 
protected by steep bluffs, its front, by strong stone breastworks and by 
the lie of the ground, which fell, at first abruptly and then more gently, 
to the Gandamak road. A frontal attack on such a position was out 
of the question, and Gougli was too good an officer to dream of 
weakening his little force by detaching troops to turn it ; the only 
course open to him, therefore, was to draw the Khugianis from their 
stronghold, and this he did with singular skill and success. Having 
carefully explained his plan to his principal officers, he ordered the 
Cavalry and Artillery to advance together to within a mile of the 
enemy. Here the former were to halt, while the latter, with a strong 
escort, were to gallop forward several hundred yards, fire a few rounds, 
limber up and retire. Gough felt confident that, when they saw the 
guns begin to fall back, the brave but undisciplined Tribesmen would 
rush out from their defences to seize them, and that, by repeating 
the manoeuvre, he would, in time, draw them so far down the hill 
that it would be impossible for them, when attacked, to return 
to the position they had left. For the attack he made ample pro- 
vision by sending the Infantry up a nullah, through which, if his 
calculations proved correct, they would get unsuspected on the 
enemy's right flank. 

Everything worked out exactly as the General had hoped. Wlien 
the guns fell back for the first time, the Khugianis began streaming 
from their breastworks ; and when, after again firing a few rounds, 
they fell back the second time, accompanied by the Cavalry, the 
whole of the enemy's force abandoned their defences and rushed 
do^m into the plain, collecting on their own left to attack what they 



supposed to be the only troops opposed to them. At that moment 
the Infantry emerged from the nullah on their right ; the 17th Foot 
and the 27th Punjab Infantry deploying into line, whilst the 45th 
Sikhs were held in reserve. 

Making over the command of the Cavalry and Artillery to Lord 
Ralph Kerr, with strict injimctions to guard against the Khugianis 
cutting in on his right, and orders to charge them when a favourable 
opportunity should present itself —Gough now hurried away to a point 
from which he could direct the movements of the Infantry. The 
latter were already at close quarters with the enemy, whose courage 
had not been shaken by their unlooked-for appearance on the scene 
of action. One group of Khugianis, led by a man carrying a large 
flag which had been very conspicuous throughout the fight, rushed 
boldly forward, and was met with like boldness by a handful of the 
17th, led by Lieutenant Wiseman. A fierce hand-to-hand fight ensued, 
in which the gallant young officer and the equally gallant standard- 
bearer fell. The courage of the tribesmen, however, could not prevail 
over the admirable tactics of the British Commander, and, completely 
out-flanked on that side of the field, they had to give way. Seeing 
that the decisive moment had arrived, Gough despatched his A.D.C., 
Lieutenant the Hon. G. L. Bellew, to bid the Cavalry charge. But 
the order had been anticipated. Lord Ralph Kerr had recognized 
the opportunity for which he had been directed to watch, and forming 
up his men — barely two hundred, all told — the 10th Hussars on the 
right, the Guides on the left— had dashed straight into the crowd of 
Khugianis hovering on his right flank, and shattered it into fragments. 

Many groups of men still clung obstinately to their rocky slopes, 
and, for a time, fought on bravely ; but they could not reunite suffi- 
ciently to offer any effectual resistance to cavalry, and when they 
fled back to their original position, the mounted men were at their 
heels, and they were driven headlong over and beyond the breast- 
works, behind which, an hour before, they had enjoyed perfect security. 


On the ridge, Lord Ralph Kerr halted to rally his scattered men, and 
here Gough — riding ahead of the Infantry, who were pushing up the 
slope towards the other end of the plateau — joined him, and together 
they looked down over a plain, seamed with ravines and sowed 
with rock, over which the Khugianis were flying for their lives, towards 
the forts that could be seen dotting the fertile country on either side 
of this region of stone. The order to pursue was quickly given, and 
whilst the galloping Cavalry cut down scores of fugitives, the guns 
which had been placed in position on the ridge, opened fire, and mowed 
down every little body of men that still retained its formation, and 
was within their range. It was a terrible slaughter, but the Khugianis 
were brave men and they did not die tamely. Flymg, they fought on, 
till, under the walls of Khuja, they reached safety, and the victorious 
British Cavalry drew rein, and, turning, rode back over the blood- 
stained waste to the ridge where the Infantry awaited them. 

In this, the most successful engagement of the war, the Afghans 
cannot have lost less than three hundred killed, and three times that 
number wounded. The British loss, as the table on the following 
page shows, was also heavy in comparison with the number of troops 

In Major Wigram Batty e, the Indian Army lost one of the best and 
bravest of its officers.^ Wlien he fell, the command of the Guides 
Cavalry was taken by Lieutenant W. R. P. Hamilton, whose gallant 
conduct on this occasion won for him the Victoria Cross. 

The action was over by 5 p.m., and the same evening Gough's 
Column returned to camp by a valley lying to the east of the plateau 
on which it had been fought. Only a low range of hills separated 
the two, yet how great the contrast ! On one side the blood-stained 
battlefield, where dead and dying lay strewn among the rocks ; on 
the other, the homes of these very men — pretty villages, surrounded 

1 " In Major Wigram Battye the Government have lost an officer of whom 
any army would have been proud — a noble, chivalrous character and beloved 
by all who knew him." — Covering despatch by Sir S. Browne. 



by gardens, lialf hidden in fruit trees just bursting into bloom ; 
beyond the gardens, long fields of corn waving green in the evening 


Killed. 1 






















































I.C.R.H. Artillery . . 









10th Hussars 











Cavalry of Corps of 













1st Battalion 17th Foot 











27th Bengal Native 












45th Sikhs . . . . 









i 29 


Total . . . . 

2 1 









Grand Total 






a. Mortally wounded. 

6. One Sowar since died of his wounds. 

c. Horses missing, 31. 

Names of Officers Killed and Wounded. 

Major Wigram Battye, Bengal Staff Corps, Officiating Commandant Cavalry of Corps of Guides. 
Lieutenant Nicholas C. Wiseman, 1st Battalion 17th Foot. 
Kesaldar Mahmond Khan, Cavalry of Corps of Guides. 

Resaldar Dhuni Chand, Rcsaldar Kula Sing, Jemadar Jewand Sing, Jemadar Bishen Das, Cavalry 
of the Corps of Guides— all slightly. 


sunshine, and, on every hand, the ripple and glitter of the streams from 
which this favoured valley borrows its beauty and its wealth. 

Unwilling to inflict any further suffering on a brave people, Sir 
S. Browne waited for a day before resuming operations against the 
Khugianis, and sent two chiefs who had previously come in, to tell 
their head-man, Hyder Khan, of Gandamak, that their forts would be 
spared if they would undertake to give no further trouble. This 
message remaining unanswered, Gougli, reinforced by the remainder 
of Tytler's Brigade ^ and by the troops detached by Macpherson, 
started out again on the 4th of April to destroy the fortifications of 
Khuja. The Cavalry and Horse Artillery ascended the slopes ; the 
Infantry and Mountain Guns moved by the lateral valley, and the two 
bodies, meeting on the plateau, continued their united march to 
Sarna, the site of a post held by the British troops in 1840-2. Hearing 

^ The supersession of Tytler by Gough was much criticized at the time, and 
has never been explained or justified. The Bombay Review of the 5th of April 
1879, has the following passage : " From what we know of General Tytler as an 
experienced and eminently judicious Commandant of his own (Gurkha) Regiment, 
to say nothing of the Tinmistakably superior service he has rendered during the 
present campaign, we would emphatically endorse the following remarks by the 
Indian Daily News, which, indeed, only repeats what is being said on all sides : 
' A strong sense of injustice pervades the Peshawar Field Force, and great sym- 
pathy is felt for General Tytler, V.C. The records of the time testify that General 
Tytler has not been wanting in anything that has been required of him, and this 
supersession by a junior officer is felt to be one of those acts which is not only a 
personal wrong, but a course that tends to discovu^age men who have capacity 
and will to serve their country.' " 

There is no evidence to show whether Browne or the Military Authorities at 
Headquarters must bear the responsibility for what must be stigmatized as an 
act of injustice, for the fact that Gough acquitted himself admirably of the duty 
confided to him, did not make it less unjust that a man should have been passed 
over, who had so recently given proof of his ability to discharge it with equal 
success. Tytler's retreat from Mausam was masterly, and if he made a mistake 
in taking too small a force to attack that village, it must be remembered that he 
had the safety of an important part of the communications of the 1st Division 
to provide for, and that when he had gone out with a larger column, he had 
returned to find that a convoy had been plundered in his absence. — H.B.H. 


at this point, that the Khugiani chiefs were holding a Council of War, 
Gough despatched another messenger charged to assure them that, 
if they would surrender, aU hostile action on his part should cease. 
Again there was no answer ; so at 2 p.m. the march was resumed and 
the towers of Khuja, which village was found deserted, were blown up. 
Then, at last, Hyder Khan sent in to say that if the British General 
would promise to destroy no more forts, he and his chiefs would come 
m. The promise was given without demur, and the troops returned 
to Futtehabad, where, on the 6th, the Khugiani leaders made their 
submission to Gough, by whom they were courteously received and 
kindly treated; and, from that day to the close of the campaign, the 
tribe not only kept the peace but, by furnishmg working parties, 
rendered valuable assistance to the army of occupation. 

The action at Futtehabad and the agreement with the Khugianis 
having cleared the way for the long intended advance. Sir S. Browne, 
accompanied by a smaU column, left Jellalabad for Gandamak, on 
the 12th of April. The two valleys are thirty-five miles apart, and 
the distance is divided into three marches. The first day the General 
established his Headquarters at Rosabad ; the second, at Nimla,^ 
on the eastern side of the Gandamak heights, where he was joined 
by Gough and Tytler. On the 14th, the British troops entered the 
high-lying, well-watered valley of Gandamak, shady with mulberry 
trees, and cool with the breezes that blow down from the snow-capped 
peaks of the Safed Koh. It afforded ample accommodation for a 
large force ; but, as a military position. Sir S. Browne preferred the 
Safaid Sang, a ridge three miles nearer to Jellalabad, where there 
was an abundant supply of good water, and where his camp could 
not be overlooked. These advantages had, however, counterbalancing 

1 At Nimla is the beautiful garden laid out by the Emperor Barbar. The 

garden, which is a square, with sides over 1,000 feet in length, contains avenues 

of gigantic plane trees and many smnmer houses, and is famed for its narcissi. 

Here, in the year 1809, Shah Shuja was defeated and expelled from his kingdom 

by Futteh Khan, the elder brother of Dost Mahomed.— H.B.H. 


defects ; the ridge was stony and treeless, very hot by day, very cold 

at night, and it suffered from clouds of dust, which sudden winds 

swept up from below ; in the end, therefore, though the original 

camp was maintained, a large part of the First Division was removed 

to Gandamak, and the whole position was known by that name.^ 

It will be remembered that, by Sir F. Haines's arrangements, 

Jellalabad was to be transferred to the Second Division ; but when 

the time came for carrying this out, Maude's hands were too full to 

allow of his extending his responsibilities beyond Barikab, eight miles 

short of that town, and, accordingly, when Appleyard's Brigade 

moved on to Gandamak, a small force consisting of — 

2 guns E-3 Royal Artillery, 

One wing II th Bengal Lancers, 

1st Sikhs, 

One wing Gviide Infantry, 

One Company Sappers and Miners — 

was left behind as a garrison for Fort Sale,^ and its connexion with 
Safaid Sang was assured by the establishment of two strongly fortified 
posts — Fort Rosabad and Fort Battye — the one, twelve ; the other, 
twenty-one miles from Jellalabad. 

Though Gough's victory at Futtehabad had killed all resistance 
to the west of Jellalabad, to the east of that town, a fresh movement 
among the Tribesmen coincided with the British advance to Ganda- 
mak. First, came rumours that the Mohmands, under a certain 

1 miles from Gandamak is the hill where the last sm-vivors of the British 
army, retreating from Kabul in 1842, were massacred. Pollock's men, ad- 
vancing to avenge their fate, covered their bodies with stones. These, in course 
of time, became displaced, and when Browne moved to Gandamak, the bones 
of those brave men still whitened the hill-side, and received tardy biurial at the 
hands of the 17th Foot, a regiment which had formed part of " the illustrious 
garrison" of Jellalabad. — H.B.H. 

2 This important post was afterwards strengthened with two troops of Cavalry, 
a company of 51st Foot and two of Sappers and Miners ; and when the wing of 
the Guide Infantry was called up to Safaid Sang, it was replaced by fom- Com- 
panies furnished by the 45th Sikhs and the 27th Pimjab Infantry. — H.B.H. 


MuUa Khalil, were gathering in the hills beyond Lalpura, on the left 
bank of the Kabul River ; then, the officer commanding at Dakka, 
Major 0. Barnes, received a message from the Khan of that district 
asking for help against the insurgents, who were within three miles 
of his village, and had already exchanged shots with his outposts. 
The request put Barnes in an awkward position. He felt the hardship 
of leaving a chief who had entered into engagements with the British 
invaders, to the vengeance of his countrymen ; but more strongly still 
did he feel his responsibility for the safety of his own post, with its 
large hospital and Commissariat depot, and he knew that to detach 
any portion of its small garrison of eight hundred men and six guns 
to the further side of the river, would dangerously weaken its defences. 
Fortunately, the insurgents themselves relieved him from his dilemma 
by abandoning the threatened attack on Lalpura, and crossing over, 
in the night, to the northern bank of the river. Hearing, the next 
morning, that the enemy was at no great distance from Dakka, Barnes 
sallied out with two guns, C-3 Royal Artillery, a squadron 10th 
Bengal Lancers and three Companies of the Mhairwarra Battalion, 
to ascertain their character and number, and pushed forward, un- 
opposed save for a few shots fired from the opposite bank of the stream, 
as far as the Kam Dakka Pass, Here he halted his guns and Cavalry, 
and himself advanced cautiously with his Infantry, and a few mounted 
scouts to the village of the same name, whose inhabitants he found 
much alarmed by the news of the Mohmand gathering, and urgent 
in their entreaties that he and his troops would remain and defend 
them. Their prayer was refused at the time ; but on his return to 
Dakka, Barnes, after consulting the Political Officer, sent back a 
detachment of the Mhairwarra Battalion, consisthig of a hundred and 
thirty men of all ranks, under Captain O'Moore Creagh, well provided 
with entrenching tools, ammunition and rations, to give the protection 
asked for. It was no easy matter getting the laden mules over the 
hills in the dark, and it was eleven at night before Creagh, who had 


left Dakka Fort at five in the afternoon, arrived at the village, and 
prepared to occupy and entrench it. To his surprise, the inhabitants 
refused to admit him ; they were, so they declared, quite able to 
defend themselves, and the presence of a British detachment, without 
guns, could add nothmg to their safety, and would certainly compromise 
them with the Mohmands. To force an entry was out of the question ; 
so the troops bivouacked outside the walls, with strong pickets thrown 
out to guard against surprise. 

At 4 o'clock next morning, Creagh again summoned the elders of 
the village and ordered them to open their gates. But the men stood 
firm ; neither a Mohmand nor a Sepoy would they suffer withm their 
walls. At this time, very few of the enemy were in sight, and Creagh 
felt so little fear of an attack that the messenger whom he sent to 
Dakka to inform Barnes of the strange position in which he found him- 
self, was instructed to add that all was well. An hour later, he de- 
spatched a second messenger with very dififerent tidings : the Moh- 
mands had crossed the river in large numbers ; the inhabitants of 
Kam Dakka were showing themselves less and less friendly, and, his 
right flank being endangered, he had withdrawn to a fresh position 
covering the Pass, where he was momentarily expecting to be attacked. 
At half-past five, his right was again in danger, and once more he 
began slowly fallmg back. At 8 o'clock, he was joined by thirty-six 
men and a Native officer, who, leaving Dakka late the previous evening, 
had been benighted among the hills. Small as was this detachment, 
it was very welcome to Creagh, especially as it brought with it a fresh 
supply of ammunition ; but it was discouraging to hear that the 
Native officer doubted whether the second messenger would get 
through to Dakka, and was of opinion that no reinforcements could 
be counted on that day. Retreat, in the face of so numerous and 
determined an enemy, was impossible ; so Creagh looked about for a 
position m which his small force might defend itself until help should 
arrive, and found it in a graveyard lying in the plain between Kam 


Dakka and the Pass, midway between the river and the Dakka road. 
No wall surrounded it, but there were plenty of stones, and out of 
these, whilst some of the troops held the enemy in check and others 
watered the baggage animals and laid in a store of water for the use 
of the men, the remainder buUt up a good, solid breastwork. Just 
as they finished their task, the Mohmands, descending from the hills, 
drove in the skirmishers, and taking advantage of the high corn and 
other cover, closed round the graveyard to within a distance of from 
sixty to a hundred yards, cutting off the garrison alike from road and 
river. Again and again, did the enemy assault the entrenchments, 
and, again and again, were they driven back at the point of the bayonet. 
About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the attack on the front facing the 
Pass relaxed a little, but the other three sides were assailed with even 
greater fury than before ; and though the troops fought with unabated 
spirit, ammunition was running short, and every man knew that help 
must come soon, or it would come too late. Luckily, Creagh's second 
messenger did succeed in reachmg Dakka, and Barnes instantly 
telegraphed the bad news he brought, to Headquarters at Lundi 
Kotal. General Maude, who up to that moment had been unaware 
of the despatch of Creagh's Force to Kam Dakka, now took prompt 
steps to provide for its safety. In a very brief space of time, two 
Forces — the one starting from Dakka Fort, under Captain D. M. 
Strong, the other from Haftchar, a fort lying half way between Dakka 
and Lundi Kotal, under Major J. R. Dyce — were hurrying over the 
hills to the rescue of their beleaguered comrades, whilst Colonel F. B. 
Norman, who with a small column of Artillery and Infantry was re- 
cormoitring between Lundi Kotal and the Kabul River, warned by a 
heliographic message of the emergency which had arisen at Kam 
Dakka, was hastening across country to Creagh's assistance, and two 
companies 2nd Gurkhas from Basawal, and three companies 12th Foot, 
and two mountain guns 11-9 Royal Artillery from Lundi Kotal, under 
Lieutenant-Colonel C. J. C. Sillery, were on the march to strengthen 
the weakened garrison of Dakka. 


Strong's party, consisting of a troop of the 

lOth Bengal Lancers, 

One Company 5th Fusiliers, 

One of the Mhairwarra Battalions; 

and accompanied by Captain Trotter, the Political Officer, was the first 
to arrive on the scene of action. Soon after 3 p.m., descending the 
Kam Dakka Pass, it reached a point from which all the details of the 
unequal contest in the valley below, could distinctly be discerned. On 
its left lay the Kabul River, winding through yellowing cornfields ; 
the mountain slopes and the plain at its feet crowded with blue- 
togared Mohmands, and gay with red and white banners. But the 
point that drew all eyes was the graveyard, with its improvised defences, 
behind which glimpses could be caught of the gallant Mhairwarras, 
some with bandaged limbs and heads, firing slowly into the surg- 
ing throng which threatened every moment to overwhelm them. 
Recognizing the imminence of their peril, Strong, with the Fusiliers, 
scattered the nearest Mohmands, posted his Company of the Mhair- 
warras on a ridge to maintain communication with his rear and to 
protect his flanks ; and then, despatching Lieutenant C. E. Pollock 
to bring up at once the troop of the 10th Bengal Lancers, he and 
Tucker, at much risk, succeeded in getting mto Creagh's enclosure. 
When the Cavalry came up. Strong dashed out again, and succeeded 
in joining it unhurt. Putting himself at the head of the Lancers, 
he charged through the fields, driving the astonished Mohmands head- 
long down the steep bank into the river, which was soon full of strug- 
gling men and floating flags and turbans. Simultaneously, the 
garrison of the graveyard, its ammunition at last exhausted, rushed 
from its entrenchments, and attacking with the bayonet, completed 
the enemy's discomfiture. Bewildered and terror-stricken, the Tribes- 
men fled to high ground, and the combined British Force at once with- 
drew, with all its killed and wounded, to the shelter of the Pass. This 
retirement was the signal for the return of the Mohmands ; but hardly 


had they swarmed down into the valley, and occupied the abandoned 
entrenchments, than the relief Force from Haf tchar came hurrying up, 
and with its mountain guns soon drove them out, and forced them, for 
the second time, to seek safety among the hills. 

Strong had been instructed to hold the Pass till morning, but the 
Mohmands were still in great strength, and not only Creagh's men, 
but the corps which had come to his aid, were much exhausted ; there 
were wounded requiring treatment, and neither rations for the men, 
nor forage nor water for the horses and mules ; so Major Dyce, the 
senior officer of the united Force, very judiciously decided on an imme- 
diate withdrawal, and, thanks to his careful dispositions, Dakka was 
reached, with few casualties, at 8 p.m., though the column, hampered 
by baggage and doolies, moved slowly, and the Mohmands followed 
it up and harassed it by continuous and heavy firing. When, the 
following morning, Colonel Sillery, with a strong column, re-crossed 
the Pass, he met with no resistance, nor did Norman who joined him 
at Kam Dakka after a long march through the ShOman Valley. The 
Mohmands had melted away as quickly as they had come together ; 
and thenceforward, till the end of the campaign, they gave no further 
trouble as a tribe, though individuals still continued to steal, rob and 
murder whenever they had the chance. Their losses on the 22nd of 
April had been heavy — about two hundred killed and wounded — 
whilst the British casualties were only six killed and eighteen wounded, 
an inconsiderable number when it is remembered that the slightest 
hesitation or error of judgment on the part of Creagh or Strong must 
have entailed the destruction of the whole detachment. General 
Maude showed his appreciation of the former officer's skill, coolness and 
determination, by obtaining for him the Victoria Cross ; and he com- 
mended Captain Strong's name to the favourable consideration and 
notice of the Commandcr-m-Chief, an honour shared by Hospital- 
Assistant Syud IMur Khan and Bheestie Nadari, both belonging to 
Creagh's Company of the Mhaiiwarras. 


It was suspected that some of the Kam Dakka people took part 
in the attack on the graveyard ; but the offence coukl not be proved 
against them, and as, after the dispersal of the Mohmand gathering, 
they made haste to return to their original friendly attitude, it was 
deemed unwise to punish them for a change of front which was, to 
some extent, justified by the weakness of the column sent to their 
assistance. A body of armed tribesmen belonging to Lalpura, who 
had accompanied Captain Trotter, were also believed to have gone 
over to the enemy. Certainly they took no part in the action on the 
British side, and their unfriendliness, even if it went no further than 
abstention from aid, was a fresh proof of the folly of expectmg Moh- 
mands to fight against Mohmands, Afridis against Afridis, at the bid- 
ding of a foreign authority, and in any interest but their own. 

Observation I. The operations against Azmutulla emphasize 
what has already been written about night marches, and wide turning 
movements, in a mountainous country. In Wood's Column, the lives 
of forty-seven British soldiers were thrown away in the attempt to 
surprise an enemy, whose spies swarmed in Jellalabad, and watched 
every yard of the Kabul River ; and Macpherson's Column ran 
immense risks, and underwent exhausting fatigues, in striving to cut 
off the retreat of a fugitive who was practically certain to get away 
before the point at which, alone, there was a chance of intercepting 
him, could be reached. Cough's enterprise succeeded, not because he 
started out in the middle of the night — for the fact that he found 
Futtehabad deserted proved that the enemy had been warned of 
his approach — but because, after duly informing himself as to the 
strength and dispositions of the Khugianis, he adopted the only tactics 
by which the superiority due to position could be transferred from 
them to him. No such military success was possible in the Laghman 
Valley, but a single strong force, leaving Jellalabad by daylight, could 


have accomplished all that Wood's and Macpherson's combined 
movements were able to effect — namely, the evacuation of that valley 
by the Ghilzais — without the loss of a single life. In the whole of 
the first phase of the war, only one night march, Roberts's on the 
1st of December, can claim to have attained its object ; and that, 
though it succeeded, so far as the surprise of the Spingawai Kotal 
was concerned, failed as a turning movement, in co-operation with 
General Cobbe's frontal attack. 

Observation II, The proceedings of the Court of Inquiry held 
to take evidence as to the cause of the accident to the 10th Hussars, 
have never been made public, but Sir S. Browne attributed the disaster 
to a sudden rise in the Kabul River, similar to that which, in 1839, 
swept away the leading troop of the 16th Lancers, when effecting the 
passage of the Jhelam, on their return to India. The surmise was 
probably correct ; but that spates are of frequent occurrence in Afghan 
rivers, is an additional reason for the exercise of foresight and care in 
crossing them, and, on the occasion under review, the most ordinary 
precautions were neglected, the best known rules violated. The 
river was known to be in flood, yet (1) the eccentric course of the ford 
had not been staked out ; (2) only one guide was attached to the 
column ; (3) baggage animals were allowed to interpose between the 
two Cavalry corps ; (4) the troops were ordered to cross in half- 
sections ; (5) no Staff Officer was present to superintend the operation ; 
(6) the officer commanding the column, instead of remaining on the 
island till all his men had landed on the further bank, crossed with the 
first half of his Force, and left to subordinates the duty of watching 
over the safety of the second half ; (7) the passage, risky by day, was 
made at night. ' 

1 On the occasion of the accident to the 16th Lancers, the regiment entered 
the ford six abreast, and missed it in trying to pass some camels. After the 
accident, Sir J. Keane ordered the rest of the Cavalry to cross the Jhelam singly, 
with a horse's length between each animal, and every troop led by a guide. 


Observation III. Though the incident at Kam Dakka reflects 
nothing but credit on all concerned, it nevertheless brought out strongly 
the need for well organized moveable columns, unconnected with the 
defence of the communications, and free, therefore, to march to the 
assistance of any threatened post. Had Barnes, on the 22nd of April, 
been in command of such a column, anxiety for the safety of Dakka 
would not have obliged him to refuse the prayer of the people of 
Kam Dakka, and the adequate protection which he would have been 
able to afford them, would have commanded their fidelity and kept 
the Mohmands to their own side of the Kabul River. 

Visit of the Commander-in-Chief to the Kuram 


For some weeks after the close of the Khost Expedition, the Kuram 
Field Force, except for road-making, in which it was greatly helped 
by local labour, enjoyed a period of rest ; the severity of the weather 
which protected its outposts from attack, condemning it to not un- 
welcome inactivity. There was, however, no respite from toil and 
anxiety for the troops on the line of communication within British 
territory, where there was no snow to act as a check on the hostility 
of the tribes. Around Thai, cattle were still frequently carried off 
from their grazing grounds, and no man dared venture beyond the 
walls of that fort without a strong escort, which a garrison, so weak 
that it was not always able to relieve its outposts, could ill afford 
to furnish. Between Thai and Kohat, the Zymukhts, tempted by the 
stream of supplies flowing within sight of their hUls, were continually 
raiding, and, early in March, a section of the Orakzais made a night 
attack on an unfinished resting place for convoys, a walled, but gate- 
less, enclosure, killed four Commissariat servants and a police constable, 
wounded several drivers and carried off twenty-nine mules, without 
losing a single man, the small guard, in a better protected enclosure 
hard by, not daring to oppose or pursue them. 

The strain on the Commissariat and Transport Departments also 
knew no relaxation, for not only had the troops, from Kohat to the 
Peiwar, to be fed, but supplies had to be accumulated as far forward as 
possible "with a view to a fresh advance in the spring, a season of the 


year when local food stores are at their lowest. The toil which thi'' 
necessity imposed upon the transport animals, steadily thinned their 
ranks, and as each of the two thousand carts plying between Kohat 
and Thai, had to carry fodder and grain for its buUocks, the labour 
expended was out of all proportion to the result obtained.^ On 
this section of the road, some relief was given by contracts with the 
local Tribesmen for the conveyance of goods ; but beyond Thai, no 
such arrangements were entered into ; and though the civil authorities 
scoured the Bunnu district to replace losses among the camels, the 
animals obtained were of inferior quality and died off so quickly 
that when the order to prepare to march on Kabul was received, 
General Roberts found that he had only four thousand fit for service 
instead of the six thousand that would be needed, if his Force was 
to take the field in an efficient condition. 

Early in March, three guns, F.A. Royal Artillery, passed over 
the new road from Thai to Kuram, accompanied from Chapri, their 
first halting place, by the 23rd Pioneers.^ A week later, the 5th 
Punjab Infantry and a squadron of the 9th Lancers marched by the 
same road, which came thenceforward into general use. For its 
better protection, General Watson, who was now in command of 
Roberts's line of communications from Kohat to Thai, was requested 
to send the Nabha Contingent to Badish Khel, and orders were issued 
to prepare sites near Chapri, Shiimak and Badish Khel for the camp of 
the Commander-in-Chief, who was expected in the valley at the close 
of his visit to the Khyber. 

1 These bullocks had been purchased in Bengal on the suggestion made by 
General Roberts in December. 

2 Stages on Thax-Kuram Road. Miles. 

1. Thai to Chapri 7 

2. Chapri to Alizai' 12 

3. Alizai to Shinnak ....... 6 

4. Shinnak to Badish Khel 9 

5. Badish Khel to Wali Mahomed's Fort ... 7 

6. Wali Mahomed's Fort to'^Kuram .... 10 

51 milea. 


On the 22nd, Sir Frederick Haines, accompanied by General 
Roberts, arrived at Kuram, where he reviewed the troops assembled 
to meet him, and inspected the forts and hospitals. On the 23rd, 
he rode up to Peiwar, and after a day's delay, due to heavy rain, to 
the Kotal. Everywhere he was able to compliment the men on the 
excellence of their conduct, as attested by the fact that not a smgle 
complaint had been preferred agamst them ; and on the Kotal, he 
had words of special praise for the 8th " Kuig's," whose gallant deeds he 
could fully appreciate, now that he had seen with his own eyes what 
manner of ground it was over which they had climbed, in the teeth 
of the Afghan guns.^ Sir Frederick Haines began his return journey 
on the 27th, leaving with Roberts who took leave of him atShinnak— 
the second stage from the Kuram forts on the new road— the order to 
hold the undernamed troops m readiness to co-operate with Browne's 
Division in an advance on Kabul, as soon as the Shutargardan should 
be free from snow : — 

Royal Artillery. 

F-A. Royal Horse Artillery. 

G-3 Royal Artillery. 

No. 2 Mountain Battery. 

Cavalry Brigade. 
Squadron of 9th Lancers. 
12th Bengal Cavalry. 
14th Bengal Lancers. 
1st Infantry Brigade. 

72nd Highlanders. 

5th Gurkhas. 

28th Punjab Infantry. 

23rd Pioneers. 

7th Company Sappers and Miners. 

1 " Men of the ' King's ' Regiment, now that I have seen the ground that 
you have come over and taken, I thmk that you have done wonders, and that 
you have performed deeds that any man should be proud of." Words of the 
Commander-in-Chief as conveyed to the " King's " Regiment in Regimental 
Orders, 25th March, by Colonel Barry Drew. 


2nd Infantry Brigade. 
92nd Highlanders. 
5th Punjab Infantry. 
21st Punjab Infantry. 

380 men of all ranks and 18 guns. 

820 Sabres. 

3,500 of all ranks. 

Total 4,700 

Cobbe, who had recovered from the wound received in the attack 
on the Peiwar Kotal, was again in command of the 1st Brigade, but 
Brigadier-General Thelwall having been invalided back to India, the 
command of the 2nd Brigade was vacant, and remained so till the 
middle of AprU, when it was given to the Commandant of the Bhopal 
Battalion, Brigadier- General Forbes.^ The only change in the Stafif 
was the substitution of Captain E. Straton, 22nd Regiment, as 
Superintendent of Army Signallmg, for Captain Wynne, whose health 
had broken down in the Khost campaign. The Regiments and 
Corps selected to take part in the advance on Kabul were to assemble 
at Alikhel, and a Reserve, consisting of : — 

Half Battery C-4 Royal Artillery, 
No. 1 Mountain Battery, 

5th Punjab Cavalry, 

2nd Battalion 8th "King's," 
67th Foot, 

This appointment, except as regarded seniority, did injustice to Colonel 
Barry Drew. The man who had led the 1st Brigade when, weakened in 
numbers, it performed the deeds eulogized by SirF. Haines, and who had com- 
manded it in the Khost Campaign, had the best claim to the command of the 2nd. 
— H.B.H. 


11th Bengal Infantry, 
29th Punjab Infantry, 

was to be formed in the Kuram and afterwards transferred to the 
Harriab Valley. The command of this Reserve was conferred on 
Colonel Osborne Wilkinson only three days before the conclusion 
of peace. General John Watson's functions as Inspector-General of 
Communications were extended to the Kuram; and in the course 
of April, Colonel Mark Heathcote was appointed to his Staff as 
Assistant Quarter-Master-General, and Major G. Wolseley, then on 
his way back from Kandahar, as Assistant Adjutant-General. 

The 28th Punjab Infantry, the 23rd Pioneers, and the 72nd High- 
landers were the first regiments to be ordered to Alikhel, and each, 
as it marched up, improved the road for the troops that were to follow 
after. The advance above was supported by a corresponding advance 
below; the 92nd Highlanders, the Headquarter wing of the 14th 
Bengal Lancers and the 11th Punjab Infantry— regiments that had 
been placed on Roberts's line of communications during his absence 
in Khost— moved up to Kuram, also two companies of the 8th " King's " 
from Kohat, and the 67th Regiment from Multan, accompanied 
by half C-4 Royal Artillery, bringing with it thirty-seven elephants to 
carry the 9-pounder guns over the mountains. The Nabha Con- 
tingent already held posts on the new road ; now, half the Pattiala 
Contingent accompanied General Watson to the Forts, and went to 
work to improve their dilapidated defences, whilst the Artillery of 
the Force was further strengthened by raising the number of guns 
in each of the Mountain Batteries from four to six, and calling upon 
the 2nd Punjab Infantry, as it passed through Kuram on its way 
back to India, to furnish additional drivers.^ Two Catling guns 

1 "The 2nd Punjab Infantry, who had suffered much from exposure in the 
beginning of the campaign, wore now ordered to be withdrawn from the Kuram 
Force, and their place was to be taken by the Uth Native Infantry."— TFzV/i 
the Kuram Field Force, p. 288, by Major Colquhoun. 


that were brought up by elephants on the 9th of April, turned out 
to be defective ; and, though, after much tinkering, they were passed 
as fit for service and allowed to proceed to Alikhel, the practice made 
with them was never satisfactory. 

All through the month of April, there was no pause in the upward 
and onward movement of troops ; but the successive steps in advance 
were necessarily slow where regiments had to march by detachments, 
because the greater part of their transport was required to bring up 
supplies, where ordnance stores and ammunition had to be trans- 
ferred from one kmd of transport to another, at a great cost of time 
and labour — loads calculated for camels being quite unsuited to 
mules or men — and where weather varied from day to day, snowfalls 
following hard on sandstorms, and torrential rains on both. 

As it was clear that similar causes of delay would have to be 
reckoned with in an advance from Alikhel to Kabul, when speed 
might be of vital importance. General Roberts made up his mind 
to increase the mobility of his Force by diminishing its impedimenta. 
In accordance with this resolve, he ordered the daily ration of the 
Native troops and camp-followers to be reduced from two pounds of 
flour or rice to one and a half, and, in his plan for the coming cam- 
paign, cut down the Commissariat reserve of food stuffs to fifteen 
days, curtailed camp equipage both for officers and men, abolished 
it altogether for camp-followers, and reduced the supply of ammuni- 
tion, per man, to a hundred rounds for Infantry and fifty for Cavalry. 

If General Roberts imposed sacrifices on his troops and demanded 
of them unflagging industry and zeal, he certainly did not spare him- 
self. But though perpetually on the move, now at Kuram, now at 
Alikhel, again at Peiwar, Thai, and even at Kohat, seeing, with 
his own eyes, what was being done from one end of his long line of 
communication to the other, noting defects, ordering improvements, 
fertile in expedients to meet the difficulties which were constantly 
cropping up — he could not succeed in concentrating his troops and 


guns till the 28th of April, eleven days after the date on which he had 
telegraphed to Colonel Macgregor his readiness to begin the combined 
movement on Kabul at a day's notice. Even then, the greater 
number of his horses, mules and camels were still in the Kuram, 
recruiting their strength after the fatigue and semi-starvation of 
the winter, as well as six elephants, which had been sent back to 
Peiwar for medical treatment, in consequence of an outbreak of foot 
and mouth disease.^ He himself arrived at Alikhel on the 29th, 
and established his Headquarters near the First Brigade. The Second, 
and all the Artillery guns occupied a plateau six hundred yards away, 
a deep nullah separating the two camps. Breastworks of loose stones 
surrounded each, picket towers protected them at night against 
snipers, and a redoubt and other fortifications commanded their 
approaches. Strongly protected against attack, they had one internal 
weakness — water had, at first, to be procured from the Hazardarakht, 
a stream flowing in a deep ravine half a mile off ; and when, by the 
construction of a channel two miles long, water was brought in from 
a spring, there was always a chance that the supply thus obtained 
might be cut off. Beyond the camps, a road fit for wheeled carriage 
had been constructed, and a telegraph line laid to within eight miles 
of the Shutargardan. 

Whilst the military authorities, on both sides the Safed Koh, were 
occupying positions from which to attack Kabul, events were in 
progress which were to obviate the necessity for a further British 
advance. Sirdar Wali Mahomed Khan, the candidate for the throne 
of Afghanistan whose pretensions Lord Lytton was inclined to favour, 
had arrived in the Kuram late in January, and Roberts, on his return 
from Khost, had despatched him to Jellalabad, with Captain Conolly, 
Assistant Political Officer, as his companion, and a squadron of the 
10th Hussars as his escort. But the Viceroy's wish to impose a 

^ This outbreak was attributed to feeding the elephants on rice straw. One 
died of the seven attacked. 


sovereign with British proclivities on the people of Afghanistan, had 
already given place to the more sober desii'e of coming to an agree- 
ment with the prince in possession, and it was with Yak ub Khan that, 
after many delays, negotiations were at last opened. During their 
progress, no movements directly hostile to the Government at Kabul 
could be undertaken ; so the troops collected at Alikhel, filled up 
the weeks of waiting with extensive survey operations. On the 
1st of May, Generals Roberts and Watson rode up the Hazardarakht 
defile as far as Drekulla. On the 6tli, Colonel J. Gordon, Major 
Parry, Captains Rennick and Carr, Lieutenant Spratt and Dr. Duke, 
set out from Alikhel to explore some of the side guUeys leading to the 
Shutargardan plateau, on reaching which they split into two parties, 
one returning by the Thabai Pass, the other by the Gogizal road. 
The former, which runs into the Hazardarakht defile at Jaji Thanna, 
was found to be impracticable for laden camels and mules, and the 
latter, which debouches at Drekulla, was, in part, only thirty to forty 
yards wide and flanked by lofty precipices. On the 10th and 12th, 
the hills lying to the south of the Harriab valley were surveyed by 
Captain Clarke. On the 17th, Captain Woodthorpe succeeded in 
tracing the Hazardarakht stream to its junction with the Kuram 

The wild inhabitants of these solitary regions saw, with intense 
dislike and suspicion, strangers scaling their mountams and pene- 
trating into their most secluded ravines. Their acts of hostility 
might be few — a little firing into the camps at night, an attempt, 
nearly successful, to cut off Captain G. W. Martin's survey party, the 
murder of one or two camp-followers — but, at bottom, every man 
among them was ^he enemy of the invaders, and from the Shutargardan 
to the Peiwar Kotal, as Jrom the Peiwar Kotal to Thai, and from Thai 
to Kohat, the price of safety, for reconnoitring parties and convoys 
alike, was perpetual vigilance. 1 Still, there was no objection to 

1 The reconnaissance to the Shutargardan plateau nearly provoked a fresh 


profit by the needs of the Force ; poultry and vegetables, the latter 
specially welcome, were freely brought into camp, and the Jajis 
of the Harriab Valley showed themselves as ready as their kinsfolk 
in the Kuram, to make money by working on the roads ; though, at 
one moment, the reduction of their wages, from four annas a day 
to three, nearly provoked a strike among the Alikhel labourers/ 
The Hassan and Alimed Khels, more distant sections of the tribe, 
held aloof throughout April ; but the former attended a Durbar held 
by the General on the 3rd of May for the purpose of announcing 
to all concerned that the Kuram and the Harriab Valley were now 
definitely severed from Afghanistan and united to the British Empire ; ^ 
and the latter, alarmed by Roberts's threat that, if they did not come 
to visit him, he would go to visit them, came in on the 21st, in time 
for their leaders to accompany the General when, reconnoitring to 
the south-west of Alikhel, he reached a point from which he could 
look down upon their villages. 

As the belief gained ground that the negotiations in progress at 
Gandamak would be brought to a satisfactory conclusion, life in 
the camps became a little easier — sports and parades occasionally 
taking the place of work on roads and fortifications. The news that 

Qhilzai rising, and drew from the chief of the tribe, Padshah Khan, who hurried 
back to his own territory from Yaliub Iran's camp at Bhut Khak on hearing of it, 
a strongly worded protest. — H.B.H. 

^ Thelwall had paid his labourers four annas a day ; Roberts reduced their 
wages to three, and threatened to make them work for notliing, if they would 
not work for what he declared to be the recognized rate of wages. — H.B.H. 

2 General Roberts must have been conscious of a certain mu-eality in the 
threats and promises which he addressed to his audience at this Diu'bar. The 
conviction of the worthlessness to India of this barren and nearly inaccessible 
region, later expressed by him, may already have been growing in his mind ; 
and he knew that Colonel Colley, who had visited the Kuram in April and ridden 
with him to the mouth of the Hazardarakht defile, had come for the purpose 
of fitting himself to advise the Viceroy on the vexed question of which route 
to Kabul — that by the Shutargardan or that by the Khyber — should be re- 
tained in British hands, at the close of the war. — H.B.H. 


Yakub Khan had accepted the British terms was telegraphed to 
General Roberts at Alil^hel on the 20th, and after a grand review 
held on the 24th, in honour of the Queen's birthday,^ the orders for 
the return of the troops to the Kuram Valley were published. The 
following day the backward movement began with the march of the 
12th and 14tli Bengal Cavalry from ByanKhel to Ibrahamzai ; and, on 
the 26tli, Headquarters moved to Shaluzan, a village in the upper part 
of the Kuram Valley, which had been selected as the site for a per- 
manent British cantonment. Here a feast had been prepared by the 
Punjab Chiefs to celebrate the first occasion on which their troops 
had been employed in the service of the Empire ; ^ and here, in the 
midst of festivities, the news of the signature of the treaty of peace 
was received by the Commander of the Kuram Field Force, and 
communicated by him to his hosts and fellow-guests. 


A single general action, half a dozen skirmishes, would have 
exhausted the hundred rounds per man for Infantry, the fifty rounds 
for Cavalry to which General Roberts was prepared to limit his troops, 
and, apparently, the bayonet and the sabre were to be relied on in all 
subsequent engagements. 

To diminish the camp equipage of the British and Native soldier may 
have been a disagreeable necessity, but to expect the camp-follower 
to cross the Shutargardan without any, was to condemn him to intense 
suffering and, in many cases, to death. Half-clothed camel-drivers 

^ At this Parade, Captain John Cook was decorated with the Victoria Cross 
for saving Major Galbraith's Ufe in the attack on the Spin Gawai Kotal, and the 
Third Class Order of Merit was conferred on a Native officer and several men 
of the 3rd Gurkhas. 

^ Throughout the advance great hospitality had been exercised by tlie 
officers of the Native Contingents. The Chief of the Nabha Contingent, wliose 
troops occupied Badish Khel, had a mess tent pitched in the shade of a great 
chunar tree " which many a weary, hungry, and thirsty traveller " had cause 
to remember with gratitude. — See Major W. C. Anderson's Report. 


and doolie-bearers feel cold more than men in uniform, and, apart 
from all humane considerations, a prudent commander, recognizing 
that the efficiency of his Force depends largely on their capacity for 
work, would be equally solicitous for their well-being.^ 

^ The tendency to reduce baggage for officers and men to a point at which 
health cannot be maintained, commented on by Sir Donald Stewart (see his 
Life, p. 229) is, at all tunes, greatly exaggerated in the case of camp-followers. 
I have known an officer's servant die of cold outside Ids master's tent, and 
numbers of servants perished on the march to Kandahar for lack of shelter and 
proper clothing ; whilst warm coats and blankets and a tiny tent, just big enough 
to creep under, weighing less than fifteen pounds, kept others in perfect health ; 
but to give them these necessaries, their master had to cut down his own allowance 
of baggage. — H.B.H. 

Note to Whole Chapter. 

This chapter is based upon one authority only, viz., Major Colquhoun's TTi^fe 
the Kuram Field Force, a most valuable and painstaking work, enriched with 
many extracts from Divisional Orders. Since the war, no other writer has 
given his impressions of this particular period, and no contemporary in- 
formation of any importance bearing upon it, is to be foimd in English or Indian 
newspapei'S, an omission explained by the fact that, on the 7th of February 
General Roberts had summarily ordered Mr. McPherson, of the London Standard, 
the only independent Special Correspondent with the Kuram Field Force, back 
to India, on the ground that in his letters he had made " statements which kept 
the English public in a state of constant apprehension regarding the safety of 
the Kuram Force, which in the General's opinion had never been in peril," and 
" had been guilty of adding to a telegram after it had been approved of, and 

As regards the first of these accusations, no one who has read the accounts of 
the Peiwar episode given in chapters vii. ,ix. andx., can believe that, in "mak- 
ing statements which kept the English public in a state of apprehension regard- 
ing the safety of the Kuram Field Force," Mr. McPherson sinned against truth ; 
and, as regards the second — the offence had been committed and condoned, on 
a promise being given that it should not be repeated, before the Khost Expedi- 
tion, in which the offender was allowed to take part. 

In Forty-One Years in India Lord Roberts charges McPherson with having 
broken that promise, telegrams having appeared in the Standard which he, the 
General, had not seen before despatch, and which were most misleading to the 
British public ; but the letter of the Assistant Quarter-Mastcr-General, ordering 
the Correspondent to leave the Kuram, alludes only to the one telegram, and it 


was impossible that others should have been sent off without Roberts's knowledge, 
since they would not have been passed by the Telegraph Master unless signed 
by himself oi- by one of his StafT Oflficers. 

It would seem, therefore, that McPhorson's expulsion was solely due, as he 
himself asserted, to the severity with which he had criticized General Roberts's 
strategy m his letters, the newspapers containing whichhad reached theKuram, 
just before the Khost Expeditionary Force got back to Hazir Pir. — H.B.H. 


The Retirement of Biddulph's Division 


Though nearly a third of Stewart's Forces were employed in keeping 
open his communications, the poverty and physical difficulties of the 
country rendered it impossible to maintain more than four posts 
between Kandahar and Quetta. The first of these, at Mundi Hissar, 
eleven miles from Kandahar, was held by the wing of the 1st Gurkhas 
which subsequently joined the troops returning from Khelat-i-Ghilza 
by the Arghassan Valley ; the second, at Deh-i-Haji, the point where, 
twenty-one miles from Kandahar, the road via Kushab joins that 
via Mundi-Hissar, by 6-11 Royal Artillery and a company of the 
59th Foot ; the third, at Chaman, seventy-two miles from Kandahar 

Peshawar Mountain Battery, 2 guns, 
Bombay „ „ „ >, 

8th Bengal Cavalry, 
1st Punjab Infantry, 
26th Punjab Infantry ; 

and the fourth, at Haikalzai, a hundred and six miles from Kandahar 
by a detachment of the 29th Bombay Infantry, whilst Quetta itself 
originally garrisoned by — 

Bombay Mountain Battery, 2 guns, 
2nd Sikh Infantry, 
Wing 19th Punjab Infantry, 
Wing 30th Bombay Infantry, 


was strengthened, towards the end of January, by the arrival of the 
1st Gurkhas from India. In the wide gaps between Deh-i-Haji and 
Chaman, Chaman and Haikalzai, the Achakzais roamed at will ; 
and hardly had Biddulph's Division quitted Chaman than, abandon- 
ing their friendly attitude, they waylaid and murdered two native 
soldiers and a camp-follower, and attacked a convoy which had 
halted for the night at Killa Abdulla. Fortunately, Subadar 
Faiz Tullah, in charge of the escort of forty men of the 1st Punjab 
Infantry, was warned of their approach in time to throw up an 
entrenchment, from behind which, with the advantage of superior 
weapons, he beat off his assailants, though they outnumbered his 
Force ten times over, and advanced with such boldness that the 
Sepoys had, m the end, to have recourse to their bayonets. News of 
this affair was carried to Chaman, and Major F. J. Keen started at 
once for Arambi Karez, to which village some of the persons impli- 
cated in it, were believed to belong ; but the culprits, as was usual m 
such cases, had made good their escape, and Keen wisely abstained 
from punishing the villagers, as a whole, for the misdeeds of some of 
their number. Later, the Kadani plain — the great desert tract 
lying between Takt-i-Pul and the Khwaja Amran mountains, where 
the Achakzais make their winter home — became the scene of their 
predatory activity ; and to the very end of the war, the crossing of 
this particular district was never free from danger, though Lukhan 
Khan, a chief who had long been the terror of the Kafilas trading 
between Kandahar and India, pursued by a force under Major A. 
Tullock, was brought to bay by Lieutenant Wells and Surgeon O. T. 
Duke, at the head of a small body of Cavalry, and shot, with nine of his 
men, on refusing to surrender. 

To the east of Quetta, where the responsibility for Stewart's 
communications lay with General Phayre and the Bombay troops, 
the nature of the road placed them in constant jeopardy. In the 
narrow Bolan, convoys, full and empty, were perpetually jostling 


and impeding each other ; and, day by day, the task of accumulating 
enough supplies above the pass to ensure the troops in Southern 
Afghanistan against starvation, whilst they waited for the harvest 
to renew the sources of local supply, became harder and, at the same 
time, more pressing, for the time was not far off when all intercourse 
with India must cease. To relieve the congested traffic. Sir Richard 
Temple opened up a second route to the Pishin valley, via the Mula 
Pass, to guard which a wing of the 30th Bombay Infantry was placed 
at Khelat ; but this circuitous road was never sufficiently used to serve 
as an antidote to a continually increasing evil the magnitude of 
which— impressed upon him from all quarters— at last, extorted from 
Lord Lytton a reluctant consent to that reduction of the troops in 
Southern Afghanistan which their commander had early seen to be 
imperative. Yet, the Viceroy seems not to have grasped the meaning 
and consequences of the step he sanctioned, for, whilst directing 
Stewart to bring down the forces under his command to seventeen 
thousand five hundred men — a number barely sufficient to hold the 
Kandahar Line — he allowed the Siege Tram, of which the first section 
was still at Dadar, the second at Jacobabad, and the third at Sukkur,^ 
to go on to Quetta, though that reduction destroyed all chance of 
its ever being used against Herat, and its presence in the Bolan 
added enormously to the difficulties of the convoys, struggling to 
push through to relieve the straits to which the army of occupation 
had been reduced.^ 

^ Each Section consisted of a Battery — 

Section I. 13-8 Royal Artillery. 
„ II. 8-11 
„ III. 16-8 
Section II. never reached Quetta. 
2 " Ever since we left Pishin we have been living on the country ; two small 
convoys have reached us, and that is all I have heard of."— Letter of Sir D. 
Stewart, dated 26tli January, 1879. See p. 249 of his Life. 

" Depending on the Commissariat for a daily ration is a farce ; one day 


The Viceroy's orders, as embodied by the Commander-in-Chief in a 
telegram despatched early in February, 1879, directed General Stewart 
to retain for disposal at Kandahar and on his line of communications, 
the following troops belonging to the Bengal Presidency : Three Field 
Batteries, two Mountain Batteries, two Heavy Batteries, one of 
which was to be broken up to complete the carriage of the other, 
and its guns placed in position on the walls of Kandahar, two 
British Infantry Regiments, three Native Cavalry Regiments, seven 
Native Infantry Regiments, and two companies of Sappers and Miners. 
The Corps selected, in obedience to this order, together with the troops 
belonging to the Bombay Presidency, were distributed as follows :— 


11-11 Royal Artillery (Mountain Guns). 
2nd Punjab Cavalry. 
29th Bombay Infantry. 

A-B Royal Horse Artillery. 
D-2 Royal Artillery. 
G-4 „ „ 


1 9th Bengal Lancers. 
1st Punjab Cavalry. 
59th Foot. 
2-60tli Rifles. 
15th Siklis. 
3rd Gxu^khas. 
25th Punjab Infantry. 
10th Company of Sappers and Miners. 

you can get a httle wood ; another day you can get rice instead of flour ; other 
days you can get nothing, and if barley is issued for the horses, ten to one whether 
the bhoosa or dried lucerne is not withheld. The prices one has to pay are 
startling, and the forage of dried lucerne for one horse costs as much aa 
Rs. 2 per day" — equivalent in 1879 to 35. id. — Major Le Messurier's Kandahar 
in 1679, p. 72. 



Wing 3rd Sind Horse. 

2nd Sikhs. 

1 Company 19th Punjab Infantry. 


13-8, Royal Artillery ) c<- rr, • 
16-8 ", „ 1 ^^^® ^^^"" 

19th Punjab Infantry (7 Companies). 
Wing 30th Bombay Infantry. 

Wing 30th Bombay Infantry. 

Between Quetta and Sukkub. 
1st Sind Horse. 
1st Bombay Infantry. 
19th „ 
Nos. 2 and 5 Companies Bombay Sappers. 

Approximate strength, 17,500 of all ranks, and 40 guns. 

All other Regiments and Corps were to return to India — 
E-4 Royal Artillery ,i 
I-l „ „ ' 

12th Khelat-i-Ghilzais, 
26th Pmijab Infantry, 
326 Sick, 

vid the Bolan Pass ; and the 

Peshawar Mountain Battery, 

Jacobabad ,, ,, 

1.5th Hussars, 

8th Bengal Cavalry, 

70th Foot, 

32nd Pioneers, 

1st Gurkhas, 

1st Punjab Infantry, 

9tli Company Sappers and Miners, 

by the Thal-Chotiali route ; these latter joining hands in the Leghari 

Barklian Valley with a force consisting of — 

^ These Batteries were to park their guns, ammunition and equipment at 


15th Bengal Cavalry, 
Detachment 21st Madras Infantry,^ 
30th „ „ ^ 

„ Bhawalpur Contingent, 

which, under Colonel Prendergast, was to advance to meet them 

from Multan. 

As the object of the march through the Kakar country was to 

ascertain its fitness to serve as an alternative route from India to 

Pishin, to pave the way for the construction of a military road and 

railway, and to select a site for a future British Cantonment — Captain 

W. J. Heaviside, R.E., and Captain T. H. Holdich, R.E., were 

attached to the retiring Force ; the former, to connect the territory 

now to be explored, with the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India ; 

the latter, to fill in the topographical details. The command fell 

naturally to Biddulph, but all the arrangements for the march were 

made by Stewart, in consultation with Sandeman, before that General's 

return from the Helmand. There were to be three columns, all of 

which were to rendezvous at Khushdil Khan-ka-Killa, at the upper 

end of the Pishin Valley"; but the first of them, accompanied by 

Sandeman, was to start so long before the other two as to be entirely 

independent of them. 


Commanding, Major F. J. Keen. 

Staff, Major G. V. Prior. 

2 guns Jacobabad Mountain Battery. 

2 „ Peshawar ,, ,, 


1 Squadron 8th Bengal Cavalry. 

1 „ 2nd Sind Horse. 


1st Punjab Infantry. 

Strength, 775 men of all ranks, and 2 guns. 

During a whole month, the troops under orders to return to 

^ These two regiments had been ordered up from the Madras Presidency 
to strengthen Multan, which had been entirely denuded of its ordinary garrison. 



India, were slowly making their way to the appointed rendezvous ; 
how slowly and with what difficulty can best be shown by taking a 
single case, that of the 15th Hussars. So sudden and violent were 
the floods which poured down from the Khwaja Amran Mountains 
and filled to overflowing the streams and watercourses on their 
western side, that this regiment was nine days in marchmg from 
Mand-i-Hissar to Chaman. Here it was detained by the state of the 
Khojak Pass, which, blocked by snow when its foot was reached, was 
swept on the third day by a heavy flood, foUowing on a rapid thaw. 
On the 4th of March, the Hussars crossed the Pass, the men carrying 
their kilts and blankets on their horses, and halted at Abdul Khan-ka- 
Killa to rest the baggage animals. On the 7th, a fearful duststorm 
occurred, foUowed, in the evening, by heavy rain. In heavy rain, the 
march was continued for three consecutive days, the bad weather 
culminating, on the night of the 10th, in a terrific thunderstorm, 
which left the camp knee deep in mud ; and it was not till the 14th 
of March that the regiment arrived at Khushdil Khan-ka-KiUa, 
having taken twenty-two days to accomplish nine marches.^ 

The troops that started later, fared no better. Biddulph and his 
Staff, who left Kandahar on the 7th of March and reached Khushdil 
Khan-ka-Killa on the 20th, were as much hampered as the 15th Hussars 
by the swollen state of the rivers and drainage lines, in trying to ford 
one of which Captain Macgregor Stewart narrowly escaped drowning ; 
and the heaviest flood of the season occurred about the middle of 
March, sweeping, in a single hour, from the top of the Khojak to the 
bottom.2 But the worst feature of the journey for all concerned, 
especially for those who came last, was the terribly insanitary state 
of the camping grounds, and the stench from the dead camels that 
strewed the entire road, and blocked a portion of the Khojak.^ So 

1 Mr. T. C. Hamilton's Diary of the March of the I5th Hussars. 

2 The Indian Borderland, by Sir T. H. Holdich, p. 15. 

3 With the increasing heat the insanitary condition of the road grew worse- 


many of these had belonged to the retiring force — the 15th Hussars 
lost a hundred and eighty-seven in one march — that but for the 
strenuous exertions of Mr. Bruce, the Assistant to the Governor- 
General's Agent in Baluchistan, it would hardly have got further 
than Pishin. 

The first column of Biddulph's Force marched for India a 
week before its nominal Commander arrived at Khushdil Khan-ka- 
Killa. Its advance was slow, for the country was difficult, and one 
of the duties assigned to it was the collecting of supplies, and 
the establishing of depots for the use of the succeeding columns. 
On the 23rd, a series of low hills, barring the way, were found to be 
strongly occupied by the Damars of Smalan. A warning to disperse 
sent to them by Sandeman, was disregarded, and Keen, with two 
guns and a detachment of Infantry, was just on the point of dis- 
lodging them, when a prisoner, captured the previous day under 
curious circumstances,! shook himself free of the men in charge of 
him, and, rushing up a hill, dashed among his clansmen, shouting : 
" I have surrendered ; who are you to dare to oppose the British 

Major Le Messurier, who'rode over it on the 6th of April, writes : " The road is 
all fair to Mand-i-Hissar, but the stench from the dead camels along the line 
was only just bearable. There are thirty sabres at Mand-i-Hissar, but all round 
the camp are some forty dead camels, unburied and stinking enough to poison 
the post. ... At Deh Haji there were the usual number of dead camels. . . . All 
stages seem to have a fair stock of dead camels, and the men tell me that, althovigh 
the beasts manage to get in with their loads, it is even betting that a large 
percentage cannot get on their legs in the morning, and are left to die. Poor 
beasts, what a tale they could tell of our want of care and forethought ; and 
will the broad hint of their dead carcases have any effect on our future cam- 
paigns ? " (pp. 149, 150). 

1 " Just before we arrived at the crest of the Charri Momand plateau, I 
received notice that it was held by one man, who, sword in hand, refused the 
troops a passage. He had erected a small barricade, and there he stood alone, 
apparently determined to oppose us — a veritable Roderick Dhu. . . . On nearing 
him, the friendly headmen of the night before advanced rapidly on his position 
and throwing their long chuddars, or shawls, over him succeeded in bringing 
our opponent to the groimd. . . . When once captive the man soon became quite 
quiet and docile." — See Thornton's Life of Sandeman, p. 130. 


after I have submitted." The tribesmen's answer to this question was 
to disperse; but, about 3 o'clock the next afternoon, the headmen of 
Baghao, a village near which Keen had just pitched his camp, came 
to teU him that a large body of tribesmen from the Zhob and Bori 
valleys, under a certain Shah Jehan, a faithful adherent of the Amir 
of Kabul, was about to fall upon him. Scouts having confirmed these 
tidings, Keen left Major G. U. Prior, with the two guns of the Pesha- 
war Mountain Battery, one squadron Sind Horse, and two hundred 
and fifty men of the 1st Punjab Infantry, to fortify and defend the 
camp against any attack from the Smalan direction, and saUied 
forth with the two guns of the Jacobabad Mountain Battery, one 
Squadron 8th Bengal Cavalry and the remaining two hundred and 
fifty men of the 1st Punjab Infantry, to reconnoitre the enemy whom 
he almost immediately discovered, moving forward in a line some 
seven hundred yards long. Perceiving that his opponents were only 
armed with swords and matchlocks, he determined to read them 
such a lesson as would take from them all desire to interfere with 
him again ; so, sending Major Chapman with his squadron to see to the 
safety of his left flank, which they had begun to overlap, he threw 
forward a party of Infantry in skirmishing order, under Major 
Vallings, covered by the guns. After a few rounds of the latter, the 
enemy began working round to some hills commanding the British 
right, a movement which Keen met by sending Major Higginson, 
with another detachment of the 1st Punjab Infantry, to seize the 
position. The near side of the hills was very difficult, the further 
side almost perpendicular; so, when once Higginson and his men had 
reached the summit, the tribesmen, unable to escape, were shot down 
or captured in large numbers. Vallings, meantime, had driven the 
tribesmen with whom he had been engaged towards the same hills, 
and but for an intervening precipice would have come into touch with 
Higginson's party. The rout of the enemy was, however, complete, 
and Keen ordered the pursuit to stop, judging it unwise to adventure 


his men further in an intricate country, leaving the troops in camp 

In this action, the British had two men killed and one non- 
commissioned officer and four privates wounded, whilst the tribesmen's 
loss in killed and wounded was very heavy. Higginson, reconnoitring 
the scene of the engagement the next day to ascertain if any armed 
men were still lurking in the neighbourhood, counted a hundred and 
three bodies, and learned that parties of the enemy had returned 
during the night, and carried off some of the dead and all the wounded 
left on the ground. The gathering, according to the statements of 
some of its leaders, who came in to tender their submission, had 
numbered three thousand men; but fourfold numbers and equal 
courage could avail nothing against superior weapons.^ 

The following officers were mentioned in Major Keen's despatch : — 

Major H. Chapman. 
„ T. Higginson. 
„ A. Vallings. 
„ G. U. Prior. 
Captain L. R. H. D. Campbell. 
„ C. A. de N. Lucas. 

„ H. F. Showera 
R: Wace. 
Lieutenant R. W. P. Robinson. 
R. A. C. King. 
H. L. Wells. 
T. C. Ross. 
T. C. Pears. 

No further opposition was met with, and towards the middle of 
April, the first column of the retiring force emerged from Afghanistan 
at Fort Monro, and crossing the desert at its narrowest point, reached 

^ " The people who have never before seen Europeans object to our marching 
through their country and try to stop us. . . . Poor wretches ! They fancy we 
are no better armed than we were forty years ago, and it is not till they feel 
the power of our rifles that they see the hopelessness of interfering with us." — 
Life of Sir D. Stewart, pp. 265-6. 


Dera Ghazi Khan, where its units were dismissed to their respective 


On the day;^of his arrival at Khushdil Khan-ka-Killa, Biddulph 
organized the troops awaiting him there, and those that had already 
gone on to Balozai, 15| miles ahead— the 15th Hussars and the 
1st Gurkhas — into two columns. 

2nd column. 
Major-General M. A. Biddulph, Commanding Division. 

Headquarters Staff. 
Lieutenant S. F. Biddulph, Aide-de-Camp. 
Major G. B. Wolseley. 
Captain R. M. Stewart. 
„ W. G. Nicholson. 
„ W. Luckhardt. 
Dr. Surgeon-General J. Hendley. 
Colonel J. Browne, Political Officer. 

Colonel R. S. Hill, Commanding Column. 

Major H. H. F. Gifford. 
Lieutenant W. G. Smith. 

„ J. J. Money-Simons. 
2 guns Peshawar Mountain Battery. 
2 „ Jacobabad „ » 

15th Hussars. 

32nd Pioneers. 
1st Gurkhas. 
Approximate strength, 1,350 men and 4 guns. 

3rd COLUMN. 
Major-General T. Nuttall, Commanding. 

Major H. B. Hanna. 
Captain W. W. Haywood. 

2 guns Jacobabad Mountain Battery. 

2 Squadrons 8th Bengal Cavalry. 


6 Companies 70th Foot. 
9th Company Sappers and Miners. 
Approximate strength, 870 men and 2 guns. 

Both columns having filled up with supplies— thirty days for 
European, seven days for Native troops — the Second moved to 
Balozai on the 21st of March, where it halted two nights in order 
that the watershed separating the drainage lines which flow into 
Pishin, on the one hand, and into the Gumal River, on the other, might 
be surveyed, in performing which task a glimpse was caught of the 
open Zhob Valley.^ In consequence of this delay, the Thhd Column 
entered Balozai the evening before the Second left it ; but, from that 
point onwards, the former was a day's march behind the latter, till, 
on the 27th, at Chinjan, a village 57 miles from Khushdil Khan-ka- 
Killa, their respective positions were reversed. The depot of supplies 
established by Sandeman at this point, was found to have been 
plundered by the tribesmen dispersed by Keen, and as the people 
of the village, though friendly, could not meet the requirements of 
two columns, Biddulph ordered NuttaU to make a double march to 
Dargai, whilst he himself halted at Chinjan for the purpose of visiting 
the singular, detached, oval-shaped, table mountain of Siazghai, 
which, rising abruptly from the floor of a wide valley, dominates 
the Damar country for many miles round. 

This interesting piece of survey work accomplished, the Second 
Column pursued its way, nearly due eastward, down the Bori Valley 
to Chimalang. Here it turned south, to reach Nahar-ki-Kot in 

^ " Amongst the Generals who, throughout the course of that much 
chequered war of two years' duration, showed the keenest and most determined 
interest in clearing away geographical mists, in leaving no stone imturned that 
might add something to our knowledge of that strange combination of high- 
land, plain and rugged mountain . . . General Biddulph ranked first. ... It 
was consequently a happy omen for the success of the Chotiali Field Force, 
which was to find its way to India through an untraversed wilderness, that 
General Biddulph was placed in command of it." — Indian Borderland, p. II, 
by Sir T. H. Holdich. 


the Leghari Barkhan Valley, where it was to unite with the force 
under Prendergast, whilst the Third Column, following in the steps 
of the First, marched to the same rendezvous through Smalan and 
Baghao, Thai and Chotiali. 

During the thirteen days, from the 30th of March to the 11th of 
April, that the two columns were moving independently of each 
other, neither encountered any resistance, except that a small body 
of Ghazis rushed one of Nuttall's camping groimds, and wounded a 
man of the 70th Foot ; but two incidents betrayed the existence, in 
both forces, of that under-current of nervous tension which has always 
to be guarded against among troops on active service. One morning, 
as the Second Column, half its day's march accomplished, was halting 
for breakfast, some one spread the report that there was no water 
at the next camping ground. Instantly a scare set in, and though no 
one, so far, had been suffermg from thirst, the soldiers now drank 
up all the water left in their tins, and the camp-followers scattered 
in every direction, seeking vainly for some spring. " Had we," writes 
Holdich, " been caught at that juncture by anything like an organized 
attacking force, we should have fared very badly indeed." ^ 

On the other occasion referred to, the troops of the Third Column 
had turned in after an imusually long march, and both soldiers and 
followers were wrapped in profound sleep, when a dreamer uttered 
a piercing shriek. Some camel drivers instantly took alarm, and 
with loud cries, crowded with their camels into the spaces between 
the tents, stumblmg over the ropes in their haste. Instantly, the 
whole camp was afoot ; the men seized their arms and fell in, the 
outlying pickets opened fire, and it was not till the General and hia 
StafE were in their saddles that the^cause of the disturbance was 
discovered, and order restored. 

At Nahar-Ki-Kot, Biddulph, assembled a committee of civil and 
military officers to select a site for a permanent cantonment, which 

1 The Indian Borderland, p. 23. 


should command all the passes leading through the Kakar country 
into Peshin, and be within easy reach of the Indian frontier. The 
choice of the committee fell upon a place named Vitakri, at the southern 
end of the Barkhan Valley, and there Prendergast's men established 
themselves for the hot weather. Their experience soon showed that 
the site was very unhealthy, and the cantonment was subsequently 

In the Leghari Barkhan Valley the retiring Force again divided, 
the bulk of both columns retracing their steps northward to Hun Kua, 
whence they marched, via Fort Monro, to Dera Ghazi Khan, and crossed 
the Chenab and the Indus in steamers without hitch or accident, 
whilst the 15th Hussars, 1st Gurkhas and 32nd Pioneers, under their 
respective commanders, made for Mithankot by the Chachar Pass and 
entrained at Khanpur, on the eastern side of the Indus. 

With the arrival of General Buddulph and his Staff at Multan, 
on the 1st of May, 1879, the Thai Chotiali Force ceased to exist. All 
its units, except the 15th Hussars and the 1st Gurkhas, had belonged 
originally to the 2nd Division of the Kandahar Field Force, and their 
General, in parting from them, could assert with pride that they had 
marched twelve hundred miles, in intense heat and bitter cold, through 
a rude and inhospitable country, without slackening in the perform- 
ance of their duties, without losing any of their cheerfulness in the 
face of privations and hardships, and without being guilty of any act 
of cruelty or oppression — a record of discipline never excelled, and 
seldom equalled. 

Of fighting, Biddulph's troops had had little, and their roll of killed 
and wounded was very small ; but on the march to Kandahar, in the 
expedition to the Helmand, and on the way to Khushdil Khan-ka- 
Killa, fever, pneumonia, and dysentery had ravaged their ranks. At 
Kushdid Khan-ka-Killa all sick had been weeded out,^ and it was 

^ 66 men of the 70th Foot were reported unfit to proceed by the Thai Chotiali 


a thoroughly efificient Force which started from thence to find its 
way back to India ; and though the road was always rough, though 
provisions were not too plentiful, and water sometimes scarce and 
often bad, the pleasant weather and the knowledge that every step 
was bringing them nearer home, kept the men in good spirits and good 
health. Yet in this last stage of its long journey, the Force lost one of its 
best ofl&cers — Colonel H. Fellowes, the Commander of the 32nd Pioneers. 
On the march, always in front, smoothing the road for those behind ; 
at the camping grounds, struggling with the terrible water supply 
difficulty — his work, arduous and incessant, had worn him out, and he 
died before reaching Chin j an, just after crossing a most difficult and 
exhausting pass. 

Difficult passes, alternating with terrible defiles, were frequent all 
along the route, and, so far as exertion and the need for constant 
vigilance were concerned, there was little to choose between the road 
through the Bori and that through the Thai Chotiali Valley, though, as 
regards supplies, the first named had the advantage. Except between 
Spira Ragha and Obushkai, where the hills were clothed with forests 
of juniper,^ that most weird and fantastic of trees, there was little 
shade ; but the pure, high air tempered the sun's rays, though only 
to intensify the suffering of the troops when, at the end of their long 
march, they dropped suddenly from an elevation of several thousand 

" A juniper forest is picturesque with a weird form of attractiveness. No 
ordinary forest tree could imitate the attitudes, or follow the fantasies, of the 
juniper. White skeleton arms, twisted and gnarled, riven and bent, with but a 
ragged covering of black foliage, lift themselves to the glowing sky and cast 
intense shadows over the stunted yellow grass-growth below them. Each tree 
separates itself from tlie crowd, so that it is a dispersed and scattered forest, 
owning no friendly connection with trees of other sorts, but preserving a grim 
sort of isolation. Nevertheless, with a backing of snow peaks and the light of 
spring sunshine upon it, the strange beauty of that juniper forest became crystal- 
lized in the memory, ranking as a Baluch speciality with the olive groves of the 
more eastern uplands, and the solitary group of magnificent myrtles which stand 
near Sinjas." — The. Indian Borderland, p. 18, by Sir T. H. Holdich. 


feet, into the desert below.^ The 15th Hussars, on their way to Meerut, 
lost many men from cholera, as the result of traveUing in carriages 
recently used by pilgrims returning from Hurdwar, and the 32nd 
Pioneers were detained at Multan, owing to the prevalence of the 
same disease at Jhelam ; but once across the Indus, aU other corps 
and regiments proceeded without let or hindrance, to their appointed 


Wliilst General Biddulph's columns were makuig their way slowly 
back to India, General Stewart was engaged in providing for the health 
and comfort of the troops that, under any circumstances, would now 
have to spend the summer in Kandahar. In consultation with his 
Principal Medical Officer, his Quarter-Master-General, and his Engineer 
Staff, he resolved to house his English regiments in the old canton- 
ment buildings erected by the Army of Occupation, in 1839, and the 
necessary repairs and improvements were entrusted to Lieutenant 
C. F. Call, R.E. The first step was to put the whole place in a sanitary 
condition by thoroughly cleansing and draming the ground; and when 
this had been accomplished, the defects m the existmg buildings were 
madegood,andanewbarrack>rectedforthe accommodation of A.B. 
Battery, Royal Artillery. The old buildmgs, consisting of a series of 
blocks forming a great, hollow square, had been constructed of sun- 
dried bricks, with domed roofs and massive walls, and were very 
lofty in proportion to their other dimensions. To avoid over-crowding, 
platforms were now erected in the barrack squares, on which tents 
were pitched for a number of the men. Within the cantonment, a 
detached block was aUotted to the 25th Punjab Infantry, and, outside 
it, three villages were made over to the 19th Bengal Lancers, the 1st 
Punjab Cavalry, and the 3rd Gurkhas, the dispossessed inhabitants 
receivmg compensation for the temporary loss of their homes. The 
European sick were placed in a special square of considerable size. 

1 At Zorodan, at the foot of the pass in which Fort Monro stands, 6,158 feet 
above sea-level, the thermometer registered lOS'^ Fahrenheit in the shade.-H.B.H. 


and the 5-11 Royal Artillery, two Companies of the 59th Foot and 
the 15th Sikhs garrisoned the Citadel, where a large number of Depart- 
mental Officers also resided, and General Stewart found comfortable 
quarters for himself and his Staff in a country house, surrounded by a 
walled garden, prettily laid out with fruit trees and beds of flowers. 
His European guard occupied an enclosure on one side of this garden, 
and his Native guard, some old buildings on the opposite side. Another 
walled garden accommodated the Engineer officers, the Field Park 
and the Company of Sappers and Miners. The city, which was in a 
filthy condition, received its share of attention. Under the super- 
intendence of Major M. Protheroe, assisted by the Subadar Major of 
the 26th Punjab Infantry, himself a Pathan, drains were renovated, 
streets opened out, and the whole place cleaned and disinfected ; 
changes little to the taste of the inhabitants, but greatly to the 
advantage of their health, which was further benefited by the estab- 
lishment of a dispensary, under Dr. Brereton, whose knowledge of 
Persian put him in touch with the people. 

All these arrangements and improvements took time to effect, and 
building operations and repairs were delayed by heavy rains, which, 
on more than one occasion, destroyed the sun-burned bricks when 
just ready for use ; in consequence, the hot season was well advanced 
before the troops were properly housed ; but, though under canvas 
they suffered severely from heat and flies, except for a few cases of 
typhus,! the health of the Kandahar Field Force was, for a time, 
satisfactory, a result to which the amusements provided contributed 
their share. A racecourse was laid out, a polo groimd selected, and 
both officers and men were permitted to go out shooting small game — 
duck, black partridge and sand-grouse ; but always armed, and in 
parties large enough for defence, since, even within a mile of the can- 
tonment, the only security against attack was the ability to meet it. 

Between the departure of Biddulph's Division and the end of the 

1 Lieutenant Lendrum died of typhus on the 30th of March. 


war, nothing of importance occurred in and around Kandahar, though 
late in March there were rumours that a considerable Afghan force, 
composed both of regular and irregular troops, was about to leave 
Ghazni to re-occupy Khelat-i-Ghilzai, and it was persistently reported 
that the Amir's younger brother, Ayub Khan, was busy at Herat 
preparing for a resumption of hostilities. 

There was, however, always a certain amount of trouble on the 
line of communications, and on one occasion a large body of Afghans 
attacked a detachment of thirty sabres, 1st Punjab Cavalry and a 
hundred and seventy-six men of Jacob's rifles, commanded by Major 
F. J. Humphrey and accompanied by the Political Officer, Dr. 0. T. 
Duke, who were collecting supplies and camels in an outlying district 
of the Pishin Valley.^ A spirited action ensued, resulting in the defeat 
and dispersion of the tribesmen, who left sixty dead, including two 
leaders, and twenty-five wounded on the field, whilst, on the British 
side, only four men of the 1st Punjab Cavalry were wounded. 

The vicious system of breaking up a small force into insignificant 
detachments denounced by Kaye " as one of the great errors which 
marked our military occupation of Afghanistan," in the first war, 
has no more striking exemplification, in the second, than the march 
of General Biddulph's Division from Khushdil Khan-ka-Killa to Dera 
Ghazi Khan. From the outset, one of its three columns was so com- 
pletely separated from the other two, that it could not, under any 
circumstances, however critical, have fallen back upon them for 
support, or have entrenched itself to await their coming, with any 
reasonable hope of their arriving in time to rescue it from its difficulties. 
What those difficulties might prove to be, there was no means of know- 
ing, but it was safe to assume that the inhabitants of this terra incog- 
nita would not look favourably on its invaders, that the route to be 

1 March 29th, 1879. 


followed would present endless points at which an enemy, lying in 
wait, might attack with advantage, and that it would be impossible 
to protect the column's long baggage train by flanking the heights 
along the road in the daytime, or to protect its camp at night, by 
adequately picketing the hills surrounding it. This error, the re- 
sponsibility for which must be borne by General Stewart, was without 
excuse, there being no valid reason, military or political, for starting 
off the first column seven days before the other two ; but the 
separation of the second and third columns at Chignan was forced 
upon Biddulph by the same scarcity of food and fodder which had 
obliged him to divide his troops on the Helmand ; and he and his 
subordinate officers showed their appreciation of the risks they were 
running by the unusual precaution, enforced throughout the whole 
period during which the two columns were moving independently 
of each other, of making all the officers and half the men, in each, sleep 
fully accoutred and with their arms beside them. An expedition, 
however, in which such risks had| to be accepted,ought not to have been 
undertaken so long as a safer line of retirement — that by the Bolan — 
was open to the troops, and the only military object in view was the 
transference of a certain proportion of Stewart's army from Afghanis- 
tan to India. That no harm befell any one of the three columns is 
beside the question. A military movement is not justified by its 
success ; and the point of view of the military critic should always 
be that of the responsible Commander before, not that of the man in 
the street after, the event. Judged by his inability to constitute and 
equip a strong and self-sufficing force. General Stewart's action in 
sanctioning the return of Biddulph's Division through the Kakar 
country, must be condemned as an unjustifiable yielding to the counsels 
of Major Sandeman ; for the Government of India would hardly 
have maintained the order to adopt that route, had the General on the 
spot opposed the plan, even if he had based his opposition on purely 
military grounds, and had abstained from pointing out the contra- 


diction between the aims of the proposed movement and the Procla- 
mation of the 20th of November, 1878 ^ — a point which Generals like 
the Duke of Wellington and Sir John Malcolm, men who believed that 
a reputation for good faith was England's most valuable political 
asset, would not have failed to raise. ~ ^ 

* ' With the sirdars and people of Afghanistan this Government has still 
no quarrel, and desires none. They are absolved from all responsibility for the 
recent acts of the Amir, and as they have given no offence, so the British Govern- 
ment, wishing to respect their independence, will not wilHngly injure or interfere 
with them." — See Lord LyttorCs Proclamation, vol. i. Appendix ii. 

^ " I would sacrifice GwaUor, or every portion of India, ten times over, in 
order to preserve our credit for scrupulous good faith. . . . What brought me 
through many difficulties in the (Mahratta) war, and the negotiations for peace ? 
— The British good faith, and nothing else." — The Duke of Wellington' a Despatches 
Despatch, dated March 17th, 1804. 

^ " An invariable rule ought to be observed by all Europeans who have 
connection with the Natives of India . . . from the greatest occasion to the most 
trifling, to keep sacred their word. This is not only their best but their wisest 
policy." — Kaye's L^7e of General Sir John Malcolm, G.C.B., vol. i. p. 23. 




Though Yakub Khan had received Cavagnari's original overtures with 
coldness, he could not be indifferent to the anarchy into which his 
country was falling in consequence of the British invasion ; and, when 
it became clear that he would soon be called upon to rule in his own 
name and in his own right, he determined to ascertain the temper 
and intentions of the British Government by offering himself as a 
mediator between it and his father.^ The letter containing the pro- 
posal was written on the 20th of February, 1879 ; on the 21st, Shere 
Ali died ; on the 26th, his death was known in Kabul ; and on the 
28th, the Political Officer at Jellalabad received the tidings direct 
from the new Amir, and telegraphed to the Viceroy, suggesting a 
friendly letter of condolence, as a first step towards the opening of 
negotiations with the dead man's heir.^ Lord Lytton fell in with 
the suggestion, and followed up the telegram sanctioning it, by a 
second, in which he laid down the four conditions on which he was 
prepared to treat for peace,^ viz. : — 

1. The renunciation by the Amir of all authority over the Khyber 
and Michni Passes, and over the independent tribes inhabiting the 
territory directly connected with them. 

1 Afghanistan, No. 7 (1879), p. 11. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Ibid. pp. 12, 13. 


2. The continuance of British protection and control in the district 
of Kuram, from Thai to the crest of the Shutargardan, and in the 
districts of Pishin and Sibi. 

3. The conducting of the foreign relations of the Kabul Govern- 
ment in accordance with the advice and wishes of the British Govern- 

4. The permission to European British officers, accredited to the 
Kabul Government, to reside, with suitable personal guards, at such 
places in Afghanistan as might be determined on later. 

There was nothing new in the third of these conditions. Shere Ali 
had agreed to a similar restriction on his liberty of action in the foreign 
relations of his kingdom, and Yakub Khan had no hesitation in accept- 
ing it as " a good and proper proposal." It may seem strange that 
he should have offered no objection to the fourth — the " essential 
preliminary," against which his father had fought so stoutly ; but 
something had to be yielded to the demands of men who were in 
possession of his chief highways, and of one of his three principal cities ; 
and by showing himself compliant with regard to a British envoy in 
Kabul — he did stipulate that only one European British Officer should 
reside in Afghanistan — he hoped to secure the withdrawal of demands 
which would limit his authority, and diminish his dominions' or, at 
least, to place himself in a better position for combating them ; for, 
as he argued in writing to Cavagnari, on the 12th of March, by agreeing 
to conduct his foreign relations in accordance with the advice and the 
wishes of the British Government, and to allow a British officer to 
watch over the manner in which he discharged his obligation, he was 
giving all necessary guarantees for the safety of India, and might 
fairly look for the extension, rather than for the curtailment, of his 
kingdom.^ Lord Lytton had no intention of yielding either in the 
matter of the control of the Pass tribes, or of the transfer of Kuram, 
Sibi and Pishin from the Afghan to the British Government ; 

1 Ibid. p. 15. 



yet, he felt so strongly that an entirely one-sided bargain would be 
difl&cult to strike, and still more difficult to enforce, that he telegraphed 
to Lord Cranbrook, on the 4th of April, asking that Cavagnari who, 
with the consent of the Amir, was about to proceed to Kabul, should 
be allowed to offer to the son, the concessions which Sir Neville Chamber- 
lain had been empowered to grant to the father.^ Lord Beaconsfield 
and his colleagues were inclined, in the first instance, to look at the 
question from a purely British point of view. They had gone to war 
to secure India, once and for ever, against Russian ambition and 
Afghan treachery ; they had been assured by the Viceroy that the 
presence of British "officers in Afghanistan, and the acquisition of a 
certain frontier, now in their possession, would effect this end, and they 
saw no reason for promises which might involve them in the quarrels 
of two states, whose governments they had ceased to fear. To a subsidy 
and a qualified recognition of Yakub Khan's heir, they were willing to 
agree, but not to a guarantee of Afghan territory. Eventually, how- 
ever, the urgent representations of the Viceroy wrung from Ministers 
the desired concession, couched in the following terms : — " If Yakub 
faithfully conducts his foreign policy under our direction, we shall 
be prepared to support him against any foreign aggression which may 
result from such conduct, with money, arms and troops, to be employed 
at our discretion, when and where we may think fit.^ 

Lord Lytton had good reasons for desiring to sweeten the pill 
which he was bent on administering to the Amir, for, whilst public 
opinion in England was showing itself, more and more, impatient of 
the protraction of the war, the prospect of bringing it to a conclusion, 
by force of arms, was growing daily more remote. There was trouble 
all along Browne's long line of communications, the very JezaUchies 
in the Khyber, hitherto faithful, lending themselves to outrages which 
they existed to suppress. The whole of the North-West Frontier of 

1 Ibid. p. 17. 

2 Ibid. p. 17 


India, from Jumrud to the mouth of the Gomal Pass, had been thrown 
into a state of ferment by Roberts's invasion of Khost. In Afghanistan 
proper, the inhabitants were ripe for a holy war ; the Amir's counsel- 
lors scouted the idea of surrendering a foot of Afghan territory, and 
the common people of Kabul were violently agitated by the report 
that an Englishman was about to visit their city.^ And, as the spirit 
of the defenders of the country had risen, the resources of its invaders 
had declined. Sir S. Browne had found it impossible to concentrate 
the whole of his Division at Gandamak ; his Forces there were three 
thousand short of eight thousand men, the smallest number with 
which he was willing to risk an occupation of Kabul. It was intended 
that his deficiency in this respect, should be made good by a simultane- 
ous advance of the Kuram force ; but the chances of a successful com- 
bined movement were poor where, for lack of transport, one General 
was unable to say when he should be able to stir, and the other wanted 
to start at once, lest his transport should perish whilst he waited. 2 
Cholera, too, had broken out at the great fair at Hurdwar ; the dis- 
persing multitudes had carried it to their homes ; it had already 
reached Peshawar ; any day it might fall upon the British camps 
and sweep away hundreds of tired and sickly men. In such dis- 
quieting circumstances, though Colonel Macgregor may have ex- 
pressed the prevailing feeling among soldiers, when he wrote to 
Roberts : — "I sincerely hope, for our sakes, that Yakub Khan may 
not treat," ^ the Indian Government had no stronger wish than to 
be spared the necessity of a further advance. 

^ Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, pp. 320, 321. 

2 General Roberts to Colonel Macgregor : — " I shall be ready to move any 
day after the twentieth ; a move will be advantageous, but I trust there will be 
no great delay, or camels may disappear." — Life and Opinions of Sir C. Mac- 
gregor, vol. ii. p. 84. 

' Macgregor suggested that the advance should be by the Lakari Pass, 
by which a junction of the two forces would have been made at Tezin, but Roberts 
preferred to march by the Shutargardan, on the double ground that the latter 


For a time, it seemed as if an advance, however dangerous and 
futile, would have to be risked, for days and weeks went by without 
Yakub Khan giving effect to his promise to receive a British envoy, 
though Cavagnari's messenger, Bukhtiar Khan, was constantly at his 
elbow, urging him to do so. Then, just when it looked as though the 
negotiations were at an end, came the welcome intelligence that they 
were to be renewed at Gandamak. 

Weary of finding himself the centre of an administrative chaos, 
too short-sighted to recognize the elements of national strength under- 
lying a military collapse, and too weak of wUl to dare to place himself 
at the head of a movement, which was threatening to carry him with 
it, or to sweep him from its path — the Amir had made up his mind 
to rid himself of the British by yielding what he must to their demands, 
in the hope that, when he had only his own people to deal with, he 
should be able to make order follow upon peace ; and as, in Kabul's 
angry mood, it would be unsafe for Cavagnari to come to him, there 
was nothing left but for him to go to Cavagnari. 

The letter announcing his resolve * was brought to Gandamak by 
Bukhtiar Khan on the 24th of April, and, on the 25th, the same mes- 
senger took back the reply, in which Cavagnari assured Yakub Khan, 
in the Viceroy's name, of the most honourable treatment so long as 
he remained the guest of the British Government.^ The arrangements 
for the journey, which was divided into seven stages,^ were left to 
the Afghan officials ; and the Amir, having regard to the fact that the 
British army was in " light marching order," undertook to provide 
tent equipage for himself and his four hundred followers. 

route was known to be practicable for camels, and that, by entering Kabul 
from different sides, the area from which supplies and forage might be collected 
would be enlarged. — Ibid. pp. 82-4. 
^ Afghanistan, No. 7, (1879), p. 18. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Begrami, Butkhak, Samu-Mulla Umr, Sibi-baba, Jugdallak, Surkhpul, 


Leaving the Bala Hissar on the 2nd^ of May, Yakub Khan reached 
Surkhpul^ on the 7th. On the 8th, he was met by Cavagnari, with 
an escort of one squadron of the 10th Hussars and one of the 11th 
Bengal Lancers, six miles from Gandamak ; and, four miles further on, 
by Sir S. Browne, who accompanied him to his camp, through two 
lines of troops drawn up under General Macpherson's command, on 
either side of the Kabul road. On the 9th, he paid a ceremonial visit 
to the British Commander in Cavagnari's Durbar tent. So far, all had 
gone smoothly ; the guest's good looks had pleased his hosts, and the 
hosts' courtesy had laid to rest any misgivings which the guest may 
have felt in placmg himself so unreservedly m their hands ; but with 
the beginnmg of business came hitches and delays. The Indian 
Government saw in the Amir's visit, a token of his unconditional 
acceptance of their terms ; he, on his part, was of opmion that 
so conspicuous a mark of his confidence and friendship, should be 
rewarded by the withdrawal of the most obnoxious of the British 
conditions. From the 10th to the 17th, negotiations dragged on ; 
then Cavagnari, who had conducted them throughout with scant 
ceremony,^ insisted on a private interview — so far, the Mustaufi and 
the Commander-in-Chief, Daud Shah, had been present at the con- 
ferences. Wliat passed at that interview has never been made public ; 
it was currently reported, however, at the time, that Cavagnari boasted 
of having rated the Amir as if he had been a mere Kohat Malik ; i.e. 
a petty border chieftain.^ But, whether browbeaten or reasoned 
into submission, Yakub Khan ceased to struggle; and though Sibi, 

^ It was uncertain whether Surkhpul was in British or Afghan possession, 
but, for the pleasure of the guest and the convenience of the host, the doubt 
was decided in favour of the latter. 

2 Afghanistan, No. 7 (1879), p. 20. 

3 Confirmed by a letter from Cavagnari to Lord Lytton, dated 23rd of 
May, 1879 : — " Their arguments were so feeble," he wrote, " and far from the 
point that I at once made up my mind to deal with the case as if it concerned 
an ordinary afTair connected with border Pathan tribes." — Lord Lytton' a Indian 
Administration, p. 322. 


Peshin and Kuram were not formally alienated from his dominions, 
but retained by the British Government under an assignment, he really 
agreed to all that originally had been asked of him, except that, as a 
personal favour, the limits of British administration in the Kuram 
were fixed at Alikhel, instead of at the crest of the Shutargardan. 

The treaty of peace signed at Gandamak on the 20th of May, and 
ratified on the 6th of June, contained articles by which the Amir 
further bound himself to grant an amnesty, to give trade facilities, 
to permit the construction of a telegraph line to Kabul, and to guarantee 
the safety and honourable treatment of all British agents, whether 
permanently resident in the capital, or temporarily deputed to the 
Afghan frontier ; also others, by which he received from the British 
Government the promise of a subsidy, and a conditional guarantee 
against foreign aggression, but not an undertaking to recognize and 
support his heir. 

In the opinion of Lord Lytton, Yakub Khan left Gandamak not 
merely submissive, but satisfied, trustful, and friendly.* Some men 
would have been disturbed to find in the Amir's farewell letter 2 not 
one word of praise for the instrument by which peace had been re- 
established between the British Government and his own ; but the 
Viceroy seems not to have been troubled by the omission. His 
aim had been " to secure for British interests and influence in Afghan- 
istan, a position substantially independent of the personal caprices of 
any Afghan ruler" ; and as " the territorial conditions of the Treaty," 
by placing " the British Power in permanent command of the main 
avenues from India to Kabul," had provided " strong natural guaran- 
tees " ifor the " effectual maintenance of that position " •' he could 
afford to be indifferent to the distaste which they had inspired in the 

1 Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, p. 326. The above are not Lord 
Lytton's own words, but the biographer's summing up of his impressions. 
^ Ajgluinistan, No. 7 (1879), p. 22. 
3 Ibid. p. 36. 


man, on whom he had imposed them. Nor does he appear to have 
had any misgivings as to the feelings of the Afghan people m respect 
of the practical transfer of a portion of their comitry to a foreign 
power, and of the approaching advent of British officers in thek midst. 
He had Cavagnari's assurance that m Afghanistan " so long as we 
have wealth and strength on our side, we shaU always be able to 
count on having plenty of supporters" ; ^ and what better proof of 
the probable acquiescence of the subjects m the arrangements accepted 
by their ruler, could be desired, than the fact that Yakub Khan should 
have returned quietly to Kabul, after repeatedly protestmg that he 
would either take back a settlement satisfactory to his countrymen 
or else go to India as a pensioner.^ Yet the most noticeable feature 
of the despatch m which Lord Lytton reaffirmed the objects of his 
Afghan policy, explained the military measures adopted for its attam- 
ment, and counted up its gains— is its studied moderation. No one 
reading it would suppose that the writer had ever dreamed of drivmg 
the Russians across the Oxus, or that the army which halted at the 
Helmand, had dragged across the Sind desert heavy cannon mtended 
to batter down the walls of Herat. Something of the old boastful 
spirit peeps out m the remark ^ that " the capture and occupation 
of Kabul ofiered no mUitary difficulty," but, for the most part, the 
desire to conciliate public opinion at home by showmg that operations 
had been kept, of set purpose, withm the narrowest lunits, and had 
inflicted the least possible loss on everybody concerned— colours the 
whole document, and lends to it a cautious and sober tone. Its value 
as a measure of Lord Lytton's statesmanship, cannot be estimated 
till it has been studied in the light of subsequent events ; but its trust- 
worthiness as an historical document, will be understood by the readers 
of the foregoing chapters when they discover that it contains not a 

1 Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, p. 326. 

2 Ibid. p. 323. 

3 Afghanistan, No. 7, p. 28. 


single admission from which the true state of the British armies in 
Afghanistan could be inferred, not a hint that the Indian Government's 
ability to keep up their strength and efficiency was exhausted, and not 
an allusion to the fact that, three weeks before peace was signed, a 
third of Stewart's force had returned to India, because, in the richest 
province of Afghanistan, there was not food enough, without starving 
the inhabitants, to feed twenty thousand alien troops. 

The conclusion of the peace was hailed in England with nearly 
universal satisfaction. To the Government, the treaty of Gandamak 
brought increased confidence in its stability at home,^ and the hope of 
greater mfluence abroad ; ^ to the great mass of the people, who had 
begun to tire of the war while continuing to lend it their support, it 
meant liberty to dismiss the subject from their minds ; to the minority 
who had opposed the war, and who still condemned it as begun on 
flimsy pretexts for foolish ends, it was welcome as an escape from 
the worse things threatened by an indefinite prolongation of hostilities. 
The only malcontents were to be found in the advanced section of 
the Forward Policy party, men who had always desired for India a 
frontier that should include Kandahar and Jellalabad, and who now 
refused to be convinced that to be within striking distance of strategic 
points, was tantamount to having them in actual possession ; and even 
they had the satisfaction of knowing that Kandahar must be retained 
till the cold weather,^ since there was always the chance that Yakub 

^ See Lord Beaconfield's letter of 11th August, p. 331 of Lord Lytton's 
Indian Administration. 

" The great military success has done us yeoman's service in negotiating 
with Russia, and I hope that the moderation of your terms will be of no smaller 
utility at Constantinople." — Letter of Lord Salisbury to the Viceroy, 23rd May, 
1879; Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, pp. 330-1. 

3 Yakub Khan was much annoyed when informed by Cavagnari that Kanda- 
har would not bo evacuated till the beginning of winter. He must have known 
that the troops could not re-cross the desert during this hot weather, but he 
may have hoped that they would be withdrawn to Quetta. — H. B. H. 


Khan's inabUity to fulfil his engagements, might release the British 
Government from theirs. 

Yet, had the whole truth as to the situation created by the Treaty 
of Gandamak, or which continued to exist in its despite, been known 
in England, public satisfaction over its signature would have been 
qualified by much anxiety, for never did a state of peace bear a 
stronger resemblance to a state of war, than in the countries which 
it was supposed to have reconciled to each other. There was unrest, 
throughout the summer of 1879, all along India's North-West Frontier, 
tribes, once trustful and friendly, showing themselves suspicious and 
hostile ; and not only in the ceded provmce of Kuram, but also at 
Kandahar, an army of occupation had to be maintained on a war- 
footing ; even on the Khyber Lme, the troops could only be slowly and 
partially withdrawn. But the maintenance of large forces on a war- 
footing, meant a contmuance of the waste of India's resources. Convoys 
and transport trains still toiled through passes reeking with fever and 
cholera, and left their toll of dead camels and dead men behind them. 
In the Punjab, supplies of every kmd were at famme prices, and agri- 
culture and commerce languished for lack of beasts of draught and 
burden. The finances of the whole country were in the utmost con- 
fusion ; no one knew what the war had cost, and, in this uncertainty, 
Civil Officers were forbidden to introduce administrative improvements, 
however desirable, if they involved mcreased expenditure; the 
Provincial Governments were warned that it might be necessary to 
decrease the sums allotted to public works, and the Central Govern- 
ment had already reduced its grant of capital for reproductive public 
works, an economy which, as the Times pointed out, " went far to 
impoverish the whole future of India." ^ 

1 Times, 23rd May, 1879. All quotations from this Journal have been taken 
from its weekly edition. 


Translation of Letter from His Highness the Amir of Kabul, to 
His Excellency the Viceroy, dated 19th November, 1878. 

Be it known to your Excellency that I have received, and read from 
beginning to end, the friendly letter which your Excellency has sent 
in reply to the letter I despatched by Nawab Ghulam Hassan Khan. 
With regard to the expressions used*{,by your Excellency in the 
beginning of your letter, referring to the friendly^ character of the 
Mission and the good-will of the British Government, I leave it to 
your Excellency, whose wisdom and justice are universally admitted, 
to decide whether any reliance can be placed upon good-will, if it be 
evidenced by words only. But if, on the other hand, good-will really 
consists of deeds and actions, then, it has not been manifested by the 
various wishes that have been expressed, and the proposals that have 
been made by British Officials during the last few years to Officials 
of this God-granted Government — proposals which, from their 
nature, it was impossible for them to comply with. 

One of these proposals referred to my undutiful son, the ill-starred 
wretch Muhammad Yakub Khan, and was contained in a letter 
addressed by the Officials of the British Government to the British 
Agent then residing in Kabul. It was written in that letter that if 
the said Yakub Khan be released and set at liberty, our friendship with 
the Afghan Government will be firmly cemented ; but that otherwise 
it will not. 

There are several other grounds of complaint of a similar nature 
which contain no evidence of good will, but which, on the contrary, 
were effective in increasing the aversion and apprehension already 
entertained by the subjects of this God-granted Government. 

With regard to my refusal to receive the British Mission, your 
Excellency has stated that it would appear from my conduct that I 
was actuated by feelings of direct hostility towards the British 

I assure your Excellency that, on the contrary, the Officials of 
this God-granted Government, in repulsing the Mission, were not 
influenced by any hostile or inimical feelings towards the British 
Government, nor did they intend that any insult or affront should be 
offered ; but they were afraid that the independence of this Govern- 
ment might be affected by the arrival of the Mission, and that the 


friendship which has now existed between the two Governments 
for several years might be anniliilated. 

A paragraph in your Excellency's letter corroborates the statement 
which they have made to this Government. The feelings of appre- 
hension which were aroused in the minds of the people of Afghanistan 
by the mere armouncement of the intention of the British Government 
to send a Mission to Kabul, before the Mission itself had actually 
started or arrived at Peshawar, have subsequently been fully justified 
by the statement in your Excellency's letter that I should be held 
responsible for any injury that might befall the tribes who acted as 
guides to the Mission, and that I should be called upon to pay com- 
pensation to them for any loss they might have suffered ; and that, 
if at any time those tribes should meet with ill-treatment at my 
hands, the British Government would at once take steps to protect 
them. Had these apprehensions proved groundless, and had the 
object of the Mission been really friendly, and no force or threats of 
violence used, the Mission would, as a matter of course, have been allowed 
a free passage, as such Missions are customary and of frequent occur- 
rence between allied States. I am now sincerely stating my own 
feelings when I say that this Government has maintained, and always 
will maintain, the former friendship which existed between the two 
Governments, and cherishes no feelings of hostility and opposition 
towards the British Government. 

It is also incumbent upon the Officials of the British Government, 
that, out of respect and consideration for the greatness and eminence 
of their own Government, they should not consent to inflict any 
injury upon their well-disposed neighbours, and to impose the burden 
of grievous troubles upon the shoulders of their sincere friends ; 
but, on the contrary, they should exert themselves to maintain the 
friendly feelings which have hitherto existed towards this God-granted 
Government, in order that the relations between the two Governments 
may remain on the same footing as before ; and if, in accordance 
with the custom of alUed States, the British Government should 
desire to send a purely friendly and temporary Mission to this country, 
with a small escort not exceeding 20 or 30 men, similar to that which 
attended the Russian Mission, this Servant of God will not oppose 
its progress. 


Treaty between the British Government and His Highness 
Muhammad Yakub Khan, Amir of Afghanistan and its depen- 
dencies, concluded at Gandamak on the 26th May, 1879, by His 
Highness the Amir Muhammad Yakub Khan on his own part, 
and on the part of the British Government by Major P. L. N. 
Cavagnari, C.S.I., Political Officer on Special Duty, in virtue of 
fuU powers vested in him by the Right Honourable Edward 
Robert Lytton, Bulwer-Lytton, Baron Lytton of Knebworth, 
and a Baronet, Grand Master of the Most Exalted Order of 
the Star of India, Knjght Grand Cross of the Most Honourable 
Order of the Bath, Grand Master of the Indian Empire, Viceroy 
and Governor-General of India. 
The following Articles of a Treaty for the restoration of peace and 
amicable relations have been agreed upon between the British Govern- 
ment and His Highness Muhammad Yakub Khan, Amir of Afghanistan 
and its dependencies : — 

Article 1. 

From the day of the exchange of the ratifications of the present 
Treaty there shall be perpetual peace and friendship between the 
British Government on the one part and His Highness the Amir of 
Afghanistan and its dependencies, and his successors, on the other. 

Article 2. 

His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies engages 
on the exchange of the ratifications of this Treaty, to publish a full 
and complete amnesty, absolving all his subjects from any respon- 
sibility for intercourse with the British Forces during the war, and 
to guarantee and protect all persons of whatever degree from any 
punishment or molestation on that account. 

Article 3. 

His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies agrees 
to conduct his relations with Foreign States, in accordance with the 
advice and wishes of the British Government. His Highness the 
Amir will enter into no engagements with Foreign States, and will 
not take up arms against any Foreign State, except with the con- 
currence of the British Government. On these conditions the British 


Government will support the Amir against any foreign aggression 
with money, arms, or troops, to be employed in whatsoever manner 
the British Government may judge best for this purpose. Should 
British troops at any time enter Afghanistan for the purpose of 
repelling foreign aggression, they will return to their stations in British 
territory as soon as the object for which they entered has been 

Article 4. 

With a view to the maintenance of the direct and intimate relations 
now established between the British Government and His Highness 
the Amir of Afghanistan and for the better protection of the frontiers 
of His Highness' dominion, it is agreed that a British Representative 
shall reside at Kabul, with a suitable escort in a place of residence 
appropriate to his rank and dignity. It is also agreed that the British 
Government shall have the right to depute British Agents with 
suitable escorts to the Afghan frontiers, whensoever this may be 
considered necessary by the British Government in the interests of 
both States, on the occurrence of any important external fact. His 
Highness the Amu- of Afghanistan may on his part depute an Agent 
to reside at the Court of His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor- 
General of India, and at such other places in British India as may 
be similarly agreed upon. 

Article 5. 
His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies 
guarantees the personal safety and honourable treatment of British 
Agents within his jurisdiction ; and the British Government on its 
part undertakes that its Agents shall never m any way interfere with 
the internal administration of His Highness' dommions. 

Article 6. 

His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies under- 
takes, on behalf of himself and his successors, to offer no impediment 
to British subjects peacefully trading within his dominions so long 
as they do so with the permission of the British Government, and in 
accordance with such arrangements as may be mutually agreed upon 
from time to time between the two Governments, 

Article 7. 

In order that the passage of trade between the territories of the 
British Government and of His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan, 
may be open and uninterrupted, His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan 
agrees to use his best endeavours to ensure the protection of traders 
and to facilitate the transit of goods along the well-known customary 


roads of Afghanistan. These roads shall be improved and maintained 
in such manner as the two Governments may decide to be most 
expedient for the general convenience of traffic, and under such 
financial arrangements as may be mutually determined upon between 
them. The arrangements made for the maintenance and security 
of tlie aforesaid roads, for the settlement of the duties to be levied 
upon merchandize carried over these roads, and for the general 
protection and development of trade with and through the dominions 
of His Highness, wiU be stated in a separate Commercial Treaty, to 
be concluded within one year, due regard being given to the state of the 

Article 8. 

With a view to facilitate communications between the allied 
Governments and to aid and develop intercourse and commercial 
relations between the two countries, it is hereby agreed that a line of 
telegraph from Kurram to Kabul shall be constructed by and at the 
cost of the British Government, and the Amir of Afghanistan hereby 
undertakes to provide for the protection of this telegraph line. 

Article 9. 

In consideration of the renewal of a friendly alliance between 
the two States which has been attested and secured by the foregoing 
Articles, the British Government restores to His Highness the Amir 
of Afghanistan and its dependencies the towns of Kandahar and 
Jellalabad, with all the territory now in possession of the British 
armies, excepting the districts of Kurram, Pishin, and Sibi. His 
Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies agrees on 
his part that the districts of Kurram and Pishin and Sibi, according 
to the limits defined in the schedule annexed, shall remain under 
the protection and administrative control of the British Government : 
that is to say, the aforesaid districts shall be treated as assigned 
districts, and shall not be considered as permanently severed from 
the limits of the Afghan kingdom. The revenues of these districts, 
after deducting the charges of civil administration shall be paid 
to His Highness the Amir. 

The British Government will retain in its own hands the control 
of the Khyber and Michni Passes, which lie between the Peshawar 
and JeUalabad Districts, and of all relations with the independent 
tribes of the territory directly connected with these Passes. 

Article 10. 

For the further support of His Highness the Amir in the recovery 
and maintenance of his legitimate authority, and in consideration 
of the efficient fulfilment in their entirety of the engagements stipulated 


by the foregoing Articles, the British Government agrees to pay to 
His Highness the Amir and to his successors an annual subsidy of 
six lakhs of Rupees. 

Done at Gandamak, this 26th day of May 1879, corresponding 
with the 4th day of the month of Jamadi-us-sani 1296, A.H. 

(Sd.) N. CAVAGNARI, Major, 

Poltl. Officer on Special Duty. 
(Sd.) LYTTON. 

This Treaty was ratified by His Excellency the Viceroy and 
Governor-General of India, at Simla, on Friday, this 30th day of 
May 1879. 

(Sd.) A. C. LYALL, 

Secry. to the Govt, of India, Foreign Dept. 


The Times.—" Now that opinion in regard to Indian frontier policy has imder- 
gone a marked change, Colonel 11. B. Hanna's careful study of the events which 
led up to the Second Afghan War is distinctly opportime. . . • From first to 
last, the book will well repay study by every one who cares to miderstand how 
wars can be made — and avoided." 

The Observer.—" We know of no one better qualified to deal with events in 
Afghanistan than Colonel H. B. Hanna." 

Pall Mall G.vzette.— " Colonel Hanna's tremendous care, completeness 
and clearness, with his intense conviction, make him a very powerful writer." 

Athen^um.— " The ability with whicli his case is presented is considerable, 
and it is probabl that in his inahi line his view is a well-fomided one." 

MoRNiNCx Leader.—" Colonel Hanna is peculiarly well fitted to handle the 
multiplicity of questions — political, military, financial, and social — that arise in 
connection with the Second Afghan War." 

Manchester Guardian. — " Colonel Hanna calls his book, of which the first 
volume has now been pubHshed, The Second Afghan War ; but its scope is wider 
than the title. . . . The present vokune justifies the hope that the work when 
completed will possess the highest political value. Colonel Hamia brings to his 
task a mind imbued with Liberal principles, as well as an almost imrivalled know- 
ledge of the frontier-problem in its military and political aspects." 

Leeds Mercury.—" Colonel Hanna's work promises to be the standard 
authority on the history of the Second Afghan War. It is written with con- 
spicuous abihty, and with a manifest desire to state the truth, the whole truth, 
and nothing but the truth, regarding one of the most senseless wars of aggres- 
sion recorded in the annals of the British Empu-e." 

Advocate of India.—" Colonel Hanna shows clearly and forcibly, and with 
the aid of vmimpeachable authorities, that on the brmk of war the army was 
foimd thoroughly incapable of effectvial warfare." 

United Service IMagazine.- " This is a remarkable, an excellent, and a most 
mterestmgly instructive work ; and the second volume when it appears will be 
eagerly seized upon by all readers of that which has now been published. . . . 
The volume before us is a most masterly exposition of the subject with which 
it deals, and cannot be too strongly recommended." 

Manchester Courier. — " The present volmno ends at the moment of the 
advance, and \\e shall therefore look eagerly for the continuation of the story. 
If it is continued in the same exhaustive and judicial manner as it has commenced, 
Colonel Hamia will have made a notable and valuable contribution to modern 
Indian history." 

Investers' Review. — " Nothmg is set down in it haphazard, nothing from 
mere impulse or passion. It is a calm and almost colom-less . . . narrative of 
facts based upon documents accessible to all." 

Glasgow Herald.—" The author writes with a very thorough knowledge 
of the subject ; that his facts are marshalled with remarkable skill, and that his 
argumentation is exceptionally vigorous. These qualities mark his book as a 

353 ^x 


valuable contribution towards the adequate vmderstanding of a question which 
has not yet lost its importance." , , ., ^ 

Western Mail, Caediff.— " Colonel Hanna tells his story in a style that 
makes interesting reading, whilst the sideUghts are of a character that one would 
not miss willingly. As it is, we think there should be a hearty welcome for the 
volume issued because of its general interest." 

The Abmy and Navy Gazette.—" Colonel Hanna's book, the first volmne 
of which was published on Thm-sday last, has come opportunely. It fau-ly 
shows that we have, as regards Afghan affairs, consistently done what we ought 
not to have done, and left midone or left misaid many things that belonged 

to our peace." . ,, 

The Literary World.—" A work like Colonel Hanna s appeals specially 
to the student, particularly to the poUtical and military student." 

Sheffield Daily Telegraph.—" All who take an earnest and continuous 
interest in British operations on the North-West Indian Frontier . . . will do 
well to get Colonel Hanna's book." 

Western Mercury.—" This bulky volume is a crushmg and remorseless 
exposm-e of the ' Forward PoUcy.' Colonel Hanna . . . has, in addition to 
miUtary knowledge, tireless industry and a firm grip of facts." 

Public Opinion.—" We heartily recommend this very able history of events 
that have proved so costly to England in lives and money. The work is well 
written, and should be widely read." 

Newcastle Leader.— " Such a task as Colonel Hanna has undertaken 
requires not only the faculty of the historian, but the special training of the 
soldier for its effective treatment ; and Colonel Hanna has both this historic 
abiUty and this special training." 

The Champion, Bombay.—" Colonel Hanna has akeady won his spurs as a 
writer and publicist of no mean renown, on questions relating to the Afghan 
and North-West Frontier politics, and he has well been described by one leadmg 
London joiu-nal as ' pecuharly fitted to handle the multipUcity of questions— 
pohtical, social and military— m connection with the Second Afghan War,' 
and by another as bringmg to his task ' care, clearness, completeness and con- 
viction.' W^e entirely concur in these views." 

The World.—" The first volume ... is now published, and contains a 
full and interesting account of the various events which led to the genesis and 
growth of the Forward PoUcy, and so to the outbreak of the war, which the next 
volume is to chronicle." , . r ^i 

Liverpool Post.—" Especially valuable is Colonel Hanna s analysis of the 
circmnstanccs attending the Russian Mission to Kabul, mider General Stohetoff, 
which have been put forward by apologists of Lord Lytton and the Beaconsfield 
Government as an ample justification of the Afghan War." 

No. I. Can Russia Invade India ? 
No. II. India's Scientific Frontier. 
No. III. Backwards or Forwards ? 

Manchester Guardian.—" Colonel Hanna has given in a comparatively 
small space, and with admirable clearness, such a conspectus of recent frontier 


policy in India as can hardly be foimd elsewhere, and such a demonstration of its 
real meaning and too probable consequences as should have an effect, even at 
this eleventh hour, on every mmd not obstimitely closed against conviction." 

Saturday Review. — " These problems are all of the highest interest and 
importance ; they dominate om' foreign policy both in Europe and Asia ; while 
for our Indian Empire, their proper interpretation and decision involve the 
gravest issues of prosperity and safety, bankruptcy and ruin." 

The Scotsman. — " Colonel Hanna's Indian Problem, Bachwards or Forwards, 
is quite as remarkable as his first and second for its strength of conviction, thor- 
ough knowledge of his subject, and force of reasoning. There seems to the 
inexpert reader no escape. He not only advances an opinion, but proves it 
ahnost hke a proposition in Evichd." 

The Daily Graphic. — " Colonel Hanna has certainly collected a striking num- 
ber of weighty utterances in favciu' of his main contention. That contention, 
briefly stated, is, that the Indian Govermnent ought never to have advanced 
beyond the Indian Frontier at the foot of the mountains, and ought, as speedily 
as possible, to retire to that frontier." 

Broad Arrow. — " Colonel Hamia may be satisfied that he has accomplished 
excellent and enduring work." 

Abchibald Const.ujle and Co., 2 Whitehall Gardens, S.W. 
Sold by all Booksellers. 



Abdullah Jan, Death of— Effect on 

Shere AH, 111 
Achakzais! — Raids on Kandahar Field 

Force Conimunications, 317 
Afghan Army — 

Ali Masjid Garrison — Strength, 

Morale, etc., 10 
Peiwar Mountain Operations — 

Number and Quality of 
Troops, 70, 82, 91 
Reconstitution by YaUub Khan — 
Spirit and Temper m Jan. 
1879, 194 
Afridis — 

Ali Masjid — Attack on advanced 

Posts, etc., 34 
Bazar Expeditions, .lee that title 
Hostile Attitude— Danger to Khy- 
ber Line of Communications, 
280, 321 
Kandahar Field Force, Pathans 
ser\'ing with — Afridi Deser- 
tions, 125 
Zakka Khel, see tliat title 
Ahmed Khel — Submission, 312 
Ali Khel— 

Kuram Field Force — 
Advance, 308, 310 
Withdrawal on Conclusion of 
Peace, 313 
Limit of British Administration in 

Kuram District, 342 
Native Labourers, Reduction of 
Pay — Strike threatened, 312 
and note 1 
Survov Operations, 311 
Ali Masjid, Taking of (Browne's 
Division) — 
Afghan Dispositions — Natural Sur- 
roundings of Ali Masjid, etc., 8 
Afghan C4arrison, Strengtli of, 10 
Afridi Attack on Advanced Posts, 34 
Appleyard left in Command, 30 
Casualties, 21, 22 


Ali :\rasjid {continued)— 

Etal de Situation on night of 

November 21st, 14, 15 
Evacuation by Afghans, 15 
Froiit Attack — 

Artillery Duel — British Ammu- 
nition running out, 11, 12 
Assault Postponed — Apple- 

yard's Brigade already partly 
in Action, Losses, etc., 12 
Cavagnari's, JNIajor, Opinion as to 
Need for immediate Assault, 
11, 20 
Dispositions for Attack, 10 
Order of Advance, 7, 8 
Fugitives and Prisoners, Fate of, 

Hospital Arrangements, 14, note 1 
Lytton's, Lord, Order to attack on 

21st. 22, 24 
Position of Sir S. Browne after 
Capture — Resemblance to 
Pollock's Position at Pesha- 
war in 1841, 29 
Shere All's Account of Action, 149 
Sickness due to Water of Khyber 

River, 30 
Turning INlovement — 

Concealment neither possible nor 
nseful— FutiUty of Night 
March, 25 
Inadequate Time allowed by 

Viceroy's Order, 23, 24 
jMacpherson's Brigade, 5, G 

March on November 22nd, Ex- 
collont boliaviour of Men, 20 
Transport Dinioulties duo to the 
use of Bullocks instead of 
Mules, 1 
Responsibility resting with 
Staff, 20 
Tytler's Brigade — 

Composition and Equipment 

of Force, 1, 2 
Difficulties of the March, 1, 2 



Ali Masjid (continued) — 
Turning j\Iovement (continued) — 
Ty tier's Brigade (contimied) — 
Jenkins' Descent on Kata Kush- 
tia — Prisoners captured on 
22nd, etc., 16, 19 
Mohmand Hostility — Change in 
Original Plan, 5, G, 19 
Waterfield's, Col. R. G., Letter to 
Sir S. Browne on night of 
21st November, 27 
Alizais — Attack on Rear-guard of 
Force retiring from Helmand, 
Amirs of Afghanistan, see Shere AH and 

Yakub Khan 
Appleyard's Brigade— Ali Masjid 

Operations, 10, 12, 34 
Argandab and Arghesan Valleys, In- 
vestigation of Resources, 252 
ArgandabRiver — Fords.etc, 262, note 1 
Azmatulla, Ghilzai chief — Disturbances 
in Lagman Valley, 194, 282 


Baggage, Disposition of in traversing 
a Defile — Gen. Ty tier's Mis- 
take on return March from 
Bazar, 55 
Baghao, Action at, 324 
Casualties, 325 

Officers mentioned in Despatch, 325 
Bajauris— Alliance with Mohmands 
for Attack on Browne's 
Division reported, 181, 191 
Baluchis — 

Characteristics, 121, note 1 
Hill Transport for Stewart's Divi- 
sion — 
Failure to supply Camels at 

Dadar, 119 
Price charged, etc., 120 
Plundering Stewart's Convoys, 120 
Barnes, Major O.— Kara Dakka Affair, 

Basawal, Browne's Advance to, 35 
Battye, Major Wigram — 
Killed at Futtehabad, 291 
Night March to Sapri, 25 
Bazar Expeditions against Zakka 
Khel (Maude)— 

Conducted on right Prin- 
ciples as Military Opera- 
tions, 186 
First Expedition — 
Casualties, 54 

Cavagnari's,';Major, Recommenda- 
tion, 47 

Bazar Expeditions (continued) — 
First Expedition (continued) — 
Effect on Afridis, 173 
Exposure, Results to Troops, 52, 

note 2 
Lack of Information as to Road, 

etc., 48, 49 
Malikdin Khel— 
Assistance rendered by, 47, 48, 53 
Nomadic portion mistaken for 
enemy, one man shot. Re- 
paration, etc., 54 
Night March, Reasons for, etc., 
. 48, 49 
Pathans serving with Kandahar 

Field Force, Effect on, 125 
Terms imposed as condition of 
Condoning Offences, 51 
Khwas Khan's Duplicity — 
Terms refused, 52 
Tytler's, Gen., Coluinn, 50 

Return March, 52— Mistake in 
disposition of Baggage, 55 
Villages and Forts destroyed, 52,53 
Humanity Shown, 189 
Inadequate Grounds for Expedi- 
tions, 187 
Political Officers and Military Com- 
manders, Relations between 
— Object lesson in dangers of 
Divided Authority, 186 
Second Expedition — 

Bara. proposed Invasion of — 
Risk of a General Rising, 178 
Cavagnari's, Major, Opinion, 178 
Definite Instructions from 
Headquarters, Gen. Maude's 
Request for, 179 — Reply, 182 
Neighbouring Tribes coming 
to Assistance of Zakka Khel, 
177, 180 
Quartermaster-General's Circu- 
lar directing Avoidance of 
unnecessary Collisions with 
the Tribes, 178 
Tytler's Column, Recall neces- 
sitating Abandonment of 
Scheme, 181 
Bukha Pass Recoimaissance, 177, 

Casualties, 183 

Conduct of Officers and Men — 
Lieut. Hart's Gallantry, etc., 
Dispositions — Communications to 

Headquarters, 175 
Exposure, Sickness resulting from, 
183, note 2 



Bazar Expeditions {contintied) — 
Second Expedition (continued) — 

Suggested by Col. C. M. Mac- 
gregor and approved by Major 
Cavagnari, 174 
Supplies, Deficiency in, 180 
Terms of Settlement, 182 
Time-Limit imposed from Head- 
quarters, 175 
Ty tier's Column, Unsupported 

Advance arranged by Cavag- 
nari with Sir S. Bro\\nie, 185 
Villages fired by their Inhabi- 
tants, 177 
Biddulph's Division— Gen. Biddulph's 
Independent Command — 
Commissariat Difficulties, Lack of 
Commissariat Officers,etc.,109 
Kakar Country, Reconnaissance, 

111, 115 
Khojak Pass selected for Advance 

— Passage of Pass, etc, 114 
Nominal Advance into Afghan 

Territory, 109 
Pishin, Advance into, 110 
Reconnaissances of Khojak, Rogani 

and Gwaja Passes, 112 
Superior Officers, Deficiency in — 
Arrival of Generals Palliser, 
Lacy and Nuttall, 114 
for Biddulph's Division of Kandahar 
Field Force, see titles Kan- 
dahar Field Force and Hel- 
mand Expedition 
Bombay Division guarding Kandahar 
Field Force Communications, 
Constitution, 121, 122 
Summary of Duties, 131 
Boroughs, Svirgeon, C. E. E. — Gallan- 
try at Kushk-i-Nakhud, Un- 
deserved Rebuke, 271 
Breaking up small Force into insignifi- 
cant Detachments, Vicious 
System, 43, 60, 83, lOG, 274, 
British Agents, Admission to Afghani- 
Conditions of Peace laid down by 
Lord Lytton, 337 
Acceptance of Condition — Stipu- 
lation that only one British 
Officer should reside in 
Afghanistan, 337 
Exaggerated Importance attached to 
policy by Ministerialists, 140 
Kabul, Dangerous Attitude of Com- 
mon People, 339, 340 

British Agents (continued) — 

Shere All's Refusal to receive 
Mission — 
Misrepresentation of Facts by 
Ministerialists in England, 
etc., 136, 139 
Refusal Justified by Events, 157 
Browne's Division — Peshawar Valley 
Field Force — 
Cavagnari, Major, Sir S. Browne's 

Relations with, 185, note 1 
Dakka, Occupation of, 30 
Dispositions after occupying Dakka, 
Reorganization of Force, etc., 
Forward Movement after Capture of 
Ali Masjid undertaken in 
Accordance with instructions 
and in ignorance of Policy 
which was to increase enor- 
mously the magnitude of his 
Task, '29 
Gandamak, Occupation of, 278, 280, 

Jellalabad, Occupation of, 42, 43, 45 
Kabul Advance on— Sn S. Bro^nme s 
'scheme demonstrating im- 
possibility of Advance, 278 
Khyber Tribes, Threatening Atti- 
tude, 191, 194 
Mohmands and Bajauris, rumours 
of impending Attack necessi- 
tating recall of Ty tier's 
Column from Bazar, 181 
Survey Parties, Hostilities pro- 
voked by, 195 
Lagman Valley Rising— 10th Hus- 
sars Disaster, etc., 282, 284, 
Line of Communications— Danger 

from Tribesmen, 280, 338 
Reinforcements requested, 36 
Sickness among Troops— 14th Sikhs 

ordered back to India, 162 
jor particular Operations, see their 
Bruce, Mr. — Aid given to Gen. Bid- 
dulph in Retirement from 
Kandahar, 323 

Causes of the War — 

British Agents— Shere All's refusal 
to receive a British Mission, 
etc., 136, 139, 140 
Cavagnari's, Maj., Explanation to Af- 
ghan chiefs at Jellalabad, 171 



Causes of the War (continued) — 

Cranbrook's, Lord, Secret Despatch 
pubhshed November 21 — 
Misstatement and Conceal- 
ment of Facts, etc., 135 
Cavagnari, Major, Political Officer in 
the Khyber — 
Ali Mas,]' id — Advocation of immedi- 
ate Assault, 11, 20 
Appointment, Reasons for — Superior 
Qualifications of Mr. Macnabb 
Arrangements with Khyber Clans, 
50, 168 
Futility of, 1G9, 188 
Bazar Expeditions advocated, 47, 
Bara, proposed Invasion of — 
Opinion as to risk of a general 
Afridi Rising, 178 
Browne. Sir S., Relations with, 185, 

note 1 
Causes of the War — Explanation to 
Afghan Chiefs at Jellalabad, 
Charges against Shere Ali, 
etc., 171 
Mohmand Punitive Expedition, 

Reasons for desiring, 172 
Peace Negotiations at Gandamak, 

Punitive Expeditions, Special Temp- 
tations to, 1 70 
Cholera Outbreak at Hurdwar and 

Jhelum, 331, 339 
Church of England— Attitude of Bish- 
ops and Clergy towards the 
War, 134, 135, note 1 
Clarke, Gen. Andrew — Scheme for 
Railway Connecting the Indus 
with the Bolan, 161 
Clyde, Lord — Humanity to Non-Com- 
batants in Suppression of 
Indian Mutiny, 216 
Cobbe, Gen. — Peiwar Kotal, 64, 60 
Collis, Major, 209, 221 
Commander-in-Clu'ef, see Haines, Sir F. 
Commissariat Difficulties — 

Basawal, Advance to, in hope of 
obtaining Local Svipplies, 35 
Biddulpli's Division — Lack of Com- 

missai'iat Officers, etc., 109 
Dakka, Sir S. Browne's DifficuUies 
— Tribesmen's AttaclvS on 
Convoys, etc., 34 
Helmand Expedition, 263, 266 
Jellalabad, Occiipation of — Reason 
for Forward Movement, etc., 
42. 45 

Commissariat Difficulties (continued) — 
Kandahar Field Force, 245, 249, 
251, 246, note 2, 256, note I, 
Km-am Field Force, 304 
Conducting a Campaign at a Distance, 
Futility of— Ali Masjid, Sir S. 
Bro\^aae's plan all but wrecked 
by the Viceroy's Order, 22 
Cook, Capt. — Gallantry at Spin Gawai, 
Victoria Cross Award, 131, riote 1 
Cost of the War, Charging on Indian 
Revenues — 
Fawcett's, Mr., Amendment de- 
feated, 138 
Protest by Members of Indian 

Council, 142, note 2 
Piiljlic Works, Administrative Im- 
provements, etc., Reduction 
in Expenditure on, 159, 345 
Cranbrook, Lord — Secretary of State 
for India — 
Illegal Treatment of Indian Council 
in regard to Augmentation 
of the Indian Army, 141, 142 
Secret Despatch published on 
November 21st — Conceal- 
ment and misstatement of 
Facts, etc., 135 
Creagh, Capt. O'Moore. — Conduct of 
Kam Dakka Affair, 290 
Victoria Cross Award, 300 
Crowley. Private. — Gallantry in 10th 
Hussars' Disaster, 287, note 1 

Dadar — Stewart's March, 117 
Dakka — Occupation by Sir S. Browne, 
etc., 30 
Cart Road from Jamrud Con- 
structed, 42 
Climate, etc., 37 
Fort looted by Mohmands, 31 
Hospital Arrangements, Inadequacy 

of, 37 
Transport and Commissariat Diffi- 
culties — Tribesmen's Attacks 
on Convoys, etc., 34 
Tytler, Gen., Command lianded 
over to, 43 
Darwaza Pass — Natives hanged for 
Mvu-der of Camp Followers, 
205 and note 1 
Defiles, Passage of — 

Baggage Disposition of — Tj^tler's 
mistake on return from First 
Bazar Expedition, 55 



Defiles, Passage of {continued) — 

Securing Flanks of a force nn essen- 
tial Precaution, 107 
Dissenting Chm-ches— Protests against 

the War, 135 
Drew, Col. Barry — 

Command of 2nd Brigade, Kuram 
Field Force given to General 
Forbes — Injustice to Colonel 
Drew, 307 and note 1 
Peiwar Kotal Action, 91 


England, General — Repulse at Hai- 
kalzai in 1840, HI 

Evatt, Surgeon-Major — Hospital Ar- 
rangements for Force attack- 
ing Ali Masjid, 14, note 1 


Fellowes, Colonel H.— Death, 330 
Fitzhugh, 77 

Forbes, General — Appointment to 
Command 2nd Brigade of 
Kuram Field Force— Injus- 
tice to Colonel Barry Drew, 
307 and 7iote 
Foreign Relations of Kabul Govern- 
ment, Conducting in Accord- 
ance with advice and wishes 
of British Government, 337 
Frazer, Dr., Bishop of Manchester — 
Warning against the War, 
Frontier Rectification — 

Government Press Assumption that 
Rectification was accom- 
plished (Jan., 1879), 1G7 
Object of the War, 158 
Futtehabad — Khugiani Rising, 282 
Casualties, 291— Return, 292 
Cough's March to Futtehabad, 287 
Khugiani Position — Gough's Plan 

of Attack, 289 
Khuja Fortifications destroyed, 294 
Submission of Khugiani Chiefs, 294 


Gandamak — 

Climate, etc., 294 

Occupation by Browne's Division, 

278, 280, 294 
Treaty of, 342 

Gandamak (continued)— 
Treaty of {continued) — 

Reception in England, 344 
Text, 349 
Ghazni— Supply and Transport Diffi- 
culties rendering advance on 
impossible, 245 
Ghilzais — 

Lagman Valley — Azmutulla Khan's 
Rising, 194, 282 
Macpherson's Column, March of, 

etc., 282, 301 
Wood's Column— 10th Hussars 
Disaster, etc., 284, 301, 302 
Strength and Territory, 191, note 1 
Ghlo Kotal Pass, Action at (Palliser), 
Officers mentioned in Report, 230 
Gholam Hussain Khan, Nawab— 
Governor of Kandahar, Ap- 
pointment, 244 
Girishk — 

Expedition to, see Helmand Expedi- 
Uselessness as Fort, 260 
Gough, General C. — Action at Futte- 
habad, see Futtehabad 
Greenwood, Lieut. C— Gallantry in 
10th Hussars Disaster, 287, 
7iofe 1 
Greer, Sergeant William— Gallantry in 

the Manjiar Defile, 101 
Guarantee of Afghan Territory- 
Terms of Peace, 338 
Gwaja Route to Kandahar — 

LeMessurier's, Maj., Table, 129, note 1 
Reconnaissance of Pass, 113 


Haikalzai, Village of — Scene of General 
England's Repulse in 1 840, 1 1 1 

Haines, Sir F. — Commander-in-Chief — 
Kuram Field Force, Visit to, 306 
Peshawar Valley Field Force, 
Alteration in Dispositions, 
Reinforcements, etc., 277 
Maude unable to take over Jella- 
labad, 295 

Hamilton, Lieut. W. R. P.— Gallantry 
at Futtehabad, 291 

Hanna, Major, 112 

Harcourt, Sir W. — Comments on Atti- 
tude of Bishops towards the 
War, 135 7iote 1 

Hart, Lieut. — Victoria Cross for Gallan- 
try in First Bazar Expedition, 

Hassan Khel — Submission, 312 



Hazir Pir — Durbar held by General 

Roberts, 59 
Helmand Expedition (Biddulph) — 
Constitution of Force, 261 
Dispositions on the Helmand, 265 — 

Criticism, 274 
Distance traversed — Table of Stages, 

Futility of Expedition, 273, 274 
Object of Expedition, 263 
Reconnaissances towards Herat, 267 
Retirement, 268 

Dispositions for — Covering by 

Rear Guard under Colonel 

Malcolmson, 268 

Division of Forces a mistake, 274 

False Alarm — Enemy resolved 

into Mountain Sheep, 272 
Rear-guard attacked by Alizais, 
Casualties, Officers mentioned in 

Report, etc., 271 
Precautions neglected on arrival 
at Kushk-i-Nakhud, 275 
Scarcity of Supplies — Lack of Local 

Resources, 263, 266 
Survey work, 267 

Tanner's, Colonel, Flanking Party, 
263, 275 
Herat — Advance on, rendered impossi- 
ble by Supply and Transport 
Difficulties, 245 
Hogg, Col. — Transport Service Re- 
organization, 161 
Hospital Arrangements — 

Ali Masjid Operations, 14, note 1 
Dakka — Inadequate Arrangements, 

Kandahar, 245, 254 
Khelat-i-Ghilzai Expedition — Divi- 
sional Hospital left at Jaldak, 
Hussars, 10th — Disaster in fording 
Kabul River, 284 
Neglect of Precautions, 302 
Night Marches, Dangers of, 301 

Inadequate Forces employed in the 
War — Dangerous Expedients 
necessitated in Emergencies 
— Scratch Forces, etc., 45, 
199, 303 

Indian Army — Native Army — 

Augmentation in October, 1878, 
Lord Cranbroolt's Illegal 
Treatment of Indian Council, 

Indian Army (continued) — 

British Officers, Paucity of — Grow- 
ing Disproportion between 
Native Troops in the Field 
and their European Officers, 

Recruiting, Falling off in, 162 
Indian Council — 

Illegal Treatment by Lord Cran- 
brook re Augmentation of 
Indian Army, 141, 142 

Status and Functions, 141, 143 

Jacob, John — Himianity Shown in 

Sind, 215 

Peiwar Kotal Position threatened 

by Mangals and Jajis, 222 
Road Work m Kuram District, 
Jellalabad — 

Attack planned by the Mir Akhor, 

Climate, Sanitation, Population, etc., 

Connexion with Gandamak Position, 

Occupation by Sir S. Browne, 42, 43 

Commissariat Difficulties, 45 
Permanent Occupation decided on, 
Sit&f or Cantonments Selected, 
etc., 277 
Jenkins, General — 

Lagman Valley Reconnaissance, 194 
Mohmand Punitive Expedition. 173 
Turning Movement on Ali Masjid — 
Kata Kushtia, Descent on — Pri- 
soners taken on 22nd, etc., 
Pani Pal, Reconnaissance from, 4 
Juniper Forest, 330, note 1 


Kabitkas, 232, note 1 
Kabul, Advance on — 

Browne's, Sir S., Scheiue amounting 
to demonstration of Impossi- 
bility, 278 
Kuram Field Force, Co-operation — 
Reserve, Formation of, 307 
Transport Difficulties — Reduction 
in Impedimenta ordered by 
General Roberts, 309, 313 
Troops Selected for Advance, 306 
Natural Difficulties,Advance checked 
bv — forces at a Stand- 
still, 154 



Kabul, Advance on (continued) 

Transport Difficulties, Position of 
Browne and Roberts, 339 
Kabul River — 10th Hussars Disaster, 

284, 301, 302 
Kachi Desert, 118, note 1 
Kadani Plain — Achakzai Raids, 317 
Kakar Coiuitry — 

Biddulph's Division of Kandahar 
Field Force, Retirement by 
Thal-Chotiali Route, see 
Kandahar Field Force 
Biddulph's Reconnaissance, 111, 115 
Kam Dakka Affair, 296 
Casualties, 300 
Moveable Columns, Instance of 

Need for, 303 
Results — Collapse of Mohmand Re- 
sistance, 300 
Kandahar — 

Governorship — Appointment of 

Nawab Gholam Hussain Khan 

with Major St. John as 

Adviser, 244 

Resources — Scarcely able to Support 

its own Garrison, 245 
Retention of Province opposed by 

General Stewart, 200 
Routes to — 

Le Messurier's, Major, table for 
Gwaja and Khojak Routes, 
Reconnaissance of Passes, 112 
Sanitary Improvements, 332 
Submission to British Authority, 

Temper of Populace — Inadequate 
Measures taken to protect 
Soldiers and Camp Followers, 
243, 255 
Kandahar Field Force (Stewart) — 
Advance from Quetta, 128 
Advance Guards — Jlarch on Takht- 
i-Pul 231 
Ghlo Kotal Pass Action, 233 
Weakness in Artillery, 241 
Advance on Ghazni and Herat im- 
possible owing to Supply and 
Transport Difficulties, 245 
Artillery, Lack of Bullocks for, 

Biddulph's Division — Retirement by 
Thai Chotiali Route 
Arrangements, Division of Force, 
etc., Responsibility of General 
Stewart, 321, 334 
Cholera among Troops. 331 
Difficulties of Route, 322, 330 

Kandahar Field- Force (continued) — 
Biddulph's Division,etc.(con<mMed) — 
First Column — 

Baghao — Affair with Tribesmen, 

Constitution, 321 
Damars of Smalan, Threatened 
Attack, 323 
Insanitary State of Camping 
Grounds — Stench from dead 
Camels, etc., 322 
No adequate grovmds for return 
by Thal-Chotiali Route, 334 
Objects of — Survey Arrangements, 

Record of discipline, 329 
Second and Third Columns — 
Nervous Tension among Troops, 

Organization, 326 
Separation at Chinjan owing to 

lack of Supphes, 327, 334 
Svu-vey Work, 327 
Sickness among Troops, 329 
Ceremonial Entry into Kandahar, 
Risks involved — Lack of Pre- 
cautionarv Measures, etc., 
Comparison between General 
Stewart's Position at Kanda- 
har and Wellington's at 
Lusaca, 259 
Concentration at Abdur Rahman, 

Constitution, 126 
Hospital Arrangements in Kandahar, 

245, 254 
Lino of Communications, 318 

Bombay Division Guarding Line, 

126, 121, 122, 131 
Posts between Kandahar and 

Quetta, 316 
Raids on, 317, 333 
Multan Garrison, 131 
Pathan Attack on Camp of Royal 
Artillery and 59th Foot, 254 
Pathans in Native Regiments, Dis- 
quieting Attitude, 125 
Quetta — Insanitary Condition, 123 
Reduction in Force — General 
Stewart's Proposal, 246 
Lytton's, Lord, Consent, 318 
Troops selected for return — 

Routes to be followed, 320 
see also subheading Biddulph's 
Reorganization, 125 



Kandahar Field Force (continued) — 
Strained Relations between Generals 

Stewart and Biddulph, 123 
Sickness among Troops, 124, 162 
Supplies, Scarcity of, 245, 246, note 2, 

Transport Difficulties — Mortality 
ainong Camels, etc., 117, 
119, 130, IGO, 233 
Broach of Faith with Sind Camel- 
men, 119 
Troops remaining for Summer of 
Distribution, 319 
Health, 332 

Quarters — General Stewart's Ar- 
rangements, 331 
see also Helmand and Kholat-i- 
Ghilzai Expeditions, 
Kaufmann — Advico to Shere Ali to 
make peace, 144 
Letters to Shere Ali at Mazar-i- 
Sharif, 152 
Keen, Major — Action at Baghao, 324 
Kennedy, Colonel — Dispositions in 
Action at Ghlo Kotal Pass, 
234, 236 
Khelat- i- Ghilzai Expedition (Stew- 
Afghan Garrison withdra^^Ti, 250 
Argandab and Arghesan Valleys — 
Investigation of Resources, 
Constitution of Force, 247 
Distance traversed, 248 
Order of Advance. 24S 
Position of Fort, 250 
Rear Brigade and Divisional Hospi- 
tal left at Jaldak, 249 
Responsibility of General Stewart 
for what he knew to be a 
risky and futile Expedition, 
Return to Kandahar — Difficulties of 
March, Lack of Transport, 
etc., 253 
Scarcity of Supplies, Lack of warm 
clothing, etc., 249, 251, 256, 
note 1 
Transport Difficulties — IVIortnlity 
among Camels, 249, 258 
Khojak Pass — 

Occupation by GJcncral Biddulph's 

Division, 114 
Reconnaissance of, 112 
Road Construction, 115 
Khojak Route to Kandahar — Major 
Le Messurier's table, 129, no/e 1 

Khost Expedition (Roberts) — 

Afghan Governor's Readiness to 
hand over Administration of 
Khost to General Roberts, 
Climate, etc., of Khost Valley, 205 
Constitution of Force, 202 
Distance traversed, 203 
Effect on Tribesmen throughout 

North-West Frontier, 339 
Exploration and Survey of Valley, 

Incidents of tlie March, 204 
Inhabitants of the Valley and 
Neighbouring Tribesmen, At- 
titude of — 
Mahomed Akram's Warning, 206 
Precautions taken by General 
Roberts — Warning to Villa- 
gers, Hostages taken, etc., 207 
Mangal Attack — 

Camp attacked, 209 
Casualties, 211 

Cavalry Reconnaissance under 
Major Stewart, 208 
Mahsud Waziri Raid and burning 
of Tank — Effect on General 
Roberts' Position, 222 
Responsibility of Expedition resting 
entirelj^ with General Roberts, 
Retirement, 226, 227 
Second Gatliering of Tribesmen re- 
ported — Retirement resolved 
on, 223 
Sickness among Troops, 222 
Sultan Jan appointed to hold Khost 
with Turi Levies, 224 
Rescued from Mangal Attack, 226 
Svipphes — Arrival of Convoy, 221 
Villages plundered and burnt — No 
Prisoners to be taken, etc., 
210, 211, 213 
Roberts's, General, Account of 
Transaction, 220 
Discrepancies between First and 
Second Accounts, 228 
Waziri Prisoners, 211 

Attempt to escape during Scare 
of Night Attack, Number 
Killed and Wounded, 218 
Yakubi Outpost, Experiences of, 
Khugiani Rising — Action at Futte- 
habad, etc., sec Fnttehabad 
Khushdil Khan - ka - Killa — Fort re- 
paired and garrisoned by 
General Biddulph, 112 



Khwas, INIalik, — Chief of Friendly 
minority of the Zakka Khel, 
50, 51/52 
Khyber Pass and Tribes — 

Alternative Route— Reconnaissance 
Party unable to discover 
practicable alternative route, 
Arrangements wdth Tribes — Major 
Cavagnari' s Arrangemen ts, 
etc., 50 
Force raised for service with the 
British, Cost, etc., 168 and 
note 2, 169 
Futility of Subsidy System, 169, 
188. 338 
Description of the Pass, 30 
Hostile Attitude of Tribes, 194, 280, 
Ty tier's Recall from Bazar Valley, 
181, 191 
Renunciation of Authority by Amir 
— Conditions of Peace laid 
down by Lord Lytton, 336 
Sm'vey Parties, Attacks on, 195 
see also Names of Tribes. 
Khyber River — Sickness due to Water 

of, 30 
" King's," 8th — Gallantry at Peiwar 
Kotal, 87, 91, note 1 
Haines', Sir F., Praise of, 306 
Kuram District — 

Annexation — General Roberts's ad- 

di'ess to Chiefs, etc., 105 
British Control— Conditions of Peace 
laid down by Lord Lytton, 
Lunit of British Administration 
fixed at Ali Khel, 342 
Description, 56 
Kuram Field Force (Roberts) — 
Commissariat Difficulties, 304 
Distribution of Troops, Jan. 1879. 202 
Haines', Sir F., Visit, 306 
Haste and Rashness displayed by 
General Roberts throughovit 
Campaign, 94 
Kabul, Advance on, Co-operation 

in, see Kabul 
Line of Communications — 
Length of, 200 

Raids by Tribesmen, 164, 201, 304 
Troops sent to strengthen, 227 
Watson's, General, Command, 305 
McPherson, Mr., Special Corre- 
spondent of Standard — Lord 
Roberts' Charges against, 
314, note 

Kuram Field Force (continued) — 
Position in January, 1879 — Length 
of Linos of Communication, 
etc., 200 
Sappari Pass, Examination of — • 
Mangal Attack on Transport 
Train in Manjiar Defile, 99 
Criticism of Gen. Roberts' Dis- 
positions, Neglect of Precau- 
tions, etc., 103, note 2, 106, 
108, note 2 
Shutargardan Reconnaissance, 96 
Sickness among troops, 200, 222 
Theft from Field Treasury Chest by 
Native non - commissioned 
officer of 29th Punjab In- 
fantry, 104 
Transport Difficulties, 201, 305 
see also Peiwar Kotal Action, Khost 
Expedition and Kiu'am Forts 
Kuram Forts, General Roberts's Ad- 
vance on. 
Cavalry rush — Attempt to inter- 
cept Fugitives from Kapi- 
yang, 58 
Difficulties of Route, 58, 59 
Division of Column and Isolation of 
Detachments — Advance con- 
ducted on assumption that 
Afghans would not attack, 
Evacuation by Amir's troops. News 

of, 59 
Garrison left by General Roberts, 62 
Route selected, 57 
Ruinous Condition, 62 

Lagman Valley — Distiu-bances stirred 
up by AzmatuUa, etc., 191, 
194, 282 

Lalpura District — 

Cavagnari's, Major, Reception of 
Mahomed Shah Khan after 
occupation of Dakka, 32 
Mohmands' threatened Attack on, 

Swat, Akliand of. Efforts to stir up 
Mahomed Shah Khan against 
the British, 194 

Leach, Capt. E. P., of Survey Depart- 
ment — Shinwari attack on, 
Gallantry of Capt. Leach, etc., 

Limond, Col. — Construction of cart 
road from Jamrud to Dakka, 
42 and note 



Lines of Communication — 

Kandahar Field Force, 316, 318 
Bombay Division, Work in 
Guarding Lines, 120, 121, 122, 
Raids on Lines, 317, 333 
Khyber Line — ^Hostility of Tribes, 
etc., 33, 32, 34, 280, 338 
Maude's Division, Duties of, 41, 
277, 295 
Kuram Field Force — Length of 
Lines. Tribesmen's Raids, 
etc., IG-i, 200, 201, 227, 304 
Lucas, Captain, 112 
Lytton, Lord — Viceroy of India — 
Augmentation of Indian Native 
Army in Oct. 1878 — Defects 
of Method, etc., 142 and 
note 1 
Cavagnari's, Maj., Khyber Appoint- 
ment due to his support of the 
Viceroy's Afghan Policy, 189 
Kandahar Field Force, Consent to 

Reduction of, 318 
Native Troops, Paucity of British 
Officers — Indian Staff Corps 
thrown open to Officers of 
Regiments not serving in 
India, 165. 
Objects of the War, 158 
Peace — 

Conditions laid down, 336 
Despatch announcing Conclusion 
— Moderation of tone. Value 
as historical document, etc., 
342, 343 
Difference of Opinion with Homo 
Government as to Re-settle- 
ment of Afghanistan, 166 
Establishment of an Afghan 
Govermnent an essential Pre- 
liminary, 165. 
Programme — Simultaneous three- 
fold Invasion of Afghanistan, 
Programme going to pieces at 
first contact with hard facts 
— Sir S. Browne's entire force 
occupied in keeping open the 
Khyber, 33 
Rushing into War without counting 
the Cost — Inability to rein- 
force the 2nd Division of 
Peshawar Valley Field Force, 
Throe Lines of Advance with 
Troops and Transport none 
too numerous for one, 46 

Lytton, Lord (continued) — 

Siege Train sent on to Quetta, in 
spite of reduction of Kanda- 
har Field Force, 318 
Wall Mahomed Khan, Selection as 
possible successor to Shere 
Ali, 166 
Candidature no longer pressed, 310 


Macgregor, Col. C. M. — Recommenda- 
tion of Second Invasion of 
Bazar Valley, 174 
Macnabb, Mr. — Political Adviser to 
Gen. Maude 
Appointment, 183, 281 
Bazar Expedition, Termination of — 
Approval of Gen. Maude's 
Action. 183 
Qualifications for Political Post in 
the Khyber superior to those 
of Major Cavagnari, 189 
Macpherson, Gen. — 

Ali Masjid, Turning Movement on 

2nd, 30 
Lagman Valley Expedition, 282, 
McPherson, Mr., Special Correspondent 
with Kuram Field Force — 
Charges against, by Lord 
Roberts, 314, note 
McQueen, Major — Shelling of Afghan 
Camp on the Peiwar Moun- 
tain, 88 
Mahomed Akram Khan, Governor of 

Khost, 203, 206 
Mahomed Ali, Prince — Circumstances 

of Death, 156 
Mahsud Waziris — Invasion of British 
Territory, Burning of Tank, 
Roberts's Position in Khost Valley, 
Effect on, 222 
Malcolmson, Col. — Retirememt from 
Hclmand, Alizai Attack on 
Rearguard under Col. Mal- 
colmson, 268, 275 
Malikdin Khel— 

Assistance rendered in First Bazar 

Expedition, 47, 48, 53 
Nomadic portion mistaken for 
Enemy and one man shot — 
Reparation, etc., 54 
Mangal Tribe — 

Kliost Expedition, Attack on, see 

Khost Expedition 
Kuram Force, Raids on Communi- 
cations, 201 



Mangal Tribe {continued) — 

Manjiar Defile — Attack on Trans- 
port Train, 101, 103, 7iotc 2, 

PeJwar Kotal Postion threatened by 
Mangals and Jajis, 222 
Manjiar Defile — Mangal Attack on 
Gen. Roberts' Transport 
Train, etc., 101, 103, note 2, 
lOG, 108, fiote 2 
Matun, Mangal attack on Camp, see 
Khost Expedition — Mangal 
Maude, Gen. — Opposition to indis- 
criminate Destruction of 
Tribesmen's Villages, 52, note 
Maude's Division — Peshawar Valley 
Field Force — 

Bazar Expeditions, see that title 

Constitution, 39 

Demands on — Severity of Convoy 
Duties, Length of Lines of 
Communication, etc., 41 

Haines's, Sir F., Arrangements — 
Division to take over Com 
munications as far as Jella- 
labad, 277 
Maude unable to take over 
Jellalabad, 295 

Instructions to Gen. Maude on taking 
up Command, 38 
Impropriety of subordinating 
Gen. Maude to a Young Mili- 
tary Officer in Civil Employ, 

Macnabb, Mr., Appointment as 
Pohtical Officer, 183, 281 

Re-organization of Force, 39 

Sickness due to Exposure and Over- 
work, 162, 174 

Weakness of Force — Reinforcements 
refused, 45 
Mel Manda Valley, 232 
Michni Pass — 

Alternative to Khyber Route, 43 

Renunciation of Authority by Amir 
— Conditions of Peace laid 
down by Lord Lytton, 336 
Mir Akhor — 

Jellalabad, Attack planned by the 
Mir Akhor, 194 

Preaching a Jehad among Shinwaris 
and Ghilzais, 191 
Mixing up Troops from a variety of 
Regiments — Vice of System, 
Frequency of Occurrence dvir- 
ing the War, etc., 199 

Mohmand Tribe — 

AH Masjid Tiu-ning Movement — 

Change of Plan necessitated 

by Mohmand Hostility, 5, 6, 

Attacks on Convoys in the Khyber, 

Outrages near Ali Masjid, etc., 

32, 33 
Bazar Expedition — Recall of Tytler's 

Column necessitated by 

Rumours of Mohmand and 

Bajam-i Rising, 181, 191 
Browne's Expedition against, 191, 

Macpherson's Column — Passage of 

Kunar River, 192 
Tytler's Column, March of, 193 
Dakka looted by Mohmands, 31 
Importance of securing Neutrality — 

Major Cavagnari's Cordiality 

to Khan of Lalpura, 32 
Kam Dakka Affair, 296 

Results — Collapse of Mohmand 

Resistance, 300 
Lalpm'a, threatened Attack on, 296 
Punitive Expedition undertaken at 

Cavagnari's Request, 172 
Muir, Sir William — Attitude towards 

the War, 142 
Multan garrison reinforced by Brigade 

from Madras, 131 


Napier, Charles — Insistence on Hu- 
manity to Non-Combatants, 
Night Marches, Dangers of, in Moun- 
tainous Country — 
Ali Masjid — Concealment of Flanking 
Movement neither possible 
nor useful, 25 
Bazar Expedition — Reasons for 

Night March, 48, 49 
Conditions of Success, 23 
Lagman Valley — 10th Hussars Dis- 
aster, etc., 301 
Peiwar Mountain Operations — 

Turning INIovement on night 
of 1st December, 75 
Non-Combatants, Just and Humane 
Traditions of Anglo-Indian 
Armv, Violation by Gen. 
Roberts, 213 
North-West Provinces and Oudh — 
Failure of Winter Rains, 
Distress, etc., 169 



Nott, Sir William — 

Humanity in First Afghan War, 214 
Importance of keeping a Force 

together — Advice to Col. 

Wyner, 275 


Objects of the War — Lord Lytton's 
Letter of January, 1879, 158 

Orakzais — Raids on Kuram Field 
Force Communications, 164, 

Palliser, Gen. — Action at Ghlo Kotal 

Pass, 233 
Parliament — 

Debates on the War, Vote of Censure 
proposed, etc., 137 
Facts, Disagreement as to, 13S 
Ministerial lack of Insight and 
Foresight, 140 
Legality of going to War without 
first obtaining Sanction of 
Parliament — Terms of " Act 
of 1858" ; 141 and note 1 
Pathans, see Tribesmen 
Peace — 

Afghan Government, Establishment 
of, a necessary Preliminary — 
Lord Lytton's Letter to Lord 
Cranbrook, 165 
Difference of Opinion between Lord 
Lytton and Home Govoi'n- 
ment as to Re-settlement of 
Afghanistan, 166 
Government Press Assumption that 
the War was over and its 
objects attained, January, 
1879, 167 
Negotiations with Yakub Khan, 311 
Conditions laid down by Lord 

Lytton, 336 
Guarantee of Afghan Territory 

conceded, 338 
Interviews between Yakub Khan 
and Cavagnari at Gandamak, 
Reasons for pressing Negotiations 
— Difhcultios in the way of an 
Advance on Kabul, etc., 338 
Treaty of Gandamak Concluded, 
Conditions prevailing on North- 
West Frontier — State of Peace 
strongly resembling State of 
War, 345 

Peace {continued) — 

Treaty of Gandamak (continued) — 
Kuram Field Force, Withdrawal 

from Ali Khel, 313 
Lytton's, Lord, Despatch, Terms 

of, 342, 343 
Reception of News in England, 
Peiwar Mountain, Action on (Roberts) 
Afghan Camp shelled, Panic created, 

etc., 88, 91, 92 
Afghan Force — Number and Quality 
of Troops, Reinforcements 
from Kabul, etc., 70, 82, 91 
Afghan Position, 71, 72 
Camp selected untenable, 65, 67 
Cobbe's Movement — Check at Devil's 
Punch Bowl, 28th November, 
64, 66 
True Nature of Operations of 
28th November, 67 
Constitution of Force, 62 
Difficulties of the Route, Slowness of 

Advance, 63 
Etat de Situation, Night of 2nd De- 
cember, 1878, 93 
Front Attack, 86, 91 
Haste and Rashness displayed by 
General Roberts throughout 
Operations, 94 
Native Troops, Paucity of European 

Officers, 164 
Picnic Hill, Advance on — Position of 

Gen. Roberts and Staff, 80 
Plan of Attack (2 December), 73 
Reconnoitring parties — Reports, 68, 

Second Turning Movement towards 
Zabardust Killa, 89— Criti- 
cism. 94 
Shere Ali's Account of Action in 
Firman of 22nd December, 
Spin Gawai Position — 
Attack and Capture, 78 
Turning Movement — Night March 
of 1st December, 75, 83 
Treachery of Pathans of 29th 
Punjab Infantry, 76, 79 — 
Punishment, 104 
Turi Spies, False Reports, 61, 63, 
Peiwar Mountain — Mangals and Jajis 

threatening Position, 222 
Perry, Sir Ersknie — Attitude towards 
the War, Protest against 
Position of Indian Council, 



Peshawar Valley Field Force, see 
Browne's Division and 
Maude's Division 
Pishin — 

British Control — Conditions of Peace 
laid down by Lord Lytton, 

Climate, etc., 110 

Friendliness of Inhabitants, 112 
Plumptre, Dean — Sermon against the 

War, 134 
Political Officers and Military Com- 
manders, Relations between. 
Dangers of Divided Au- 
thority — 

Ali Masjid Instance, 11, 26 

Bazar Expeditions, Object Lesson 
furnished by, 186 

Maude's, General, Instructions, 38, 
Pollock, Sir G. — Position at Peshawar 
in 1841, Comparison with Sir 
S. Browne's position at Ali 
Masjid, 29 
Public Opinion in England — Causes of 
Indifference — 

Clergy of Church of England, Atti- 
tude of, 134, 135, note 1 

Cranbrook's, Lord, Secret Despatch 
published 21 November — Mis- 
statement and Concealment of 
facts. Effect on public mind, 
etc., 135 

Dissenting Chiu-ches — Protests of 
Pastors, 135 

Ignorance of Facts leading to War, 
Effect on Public Opinion, 

Parliamentary Debates, Predomi- 
nance of questions of fact, 
etc., 137 
Pukkals, 1, note 3 

Punitive Expeditions against Tribes- 
men — 

Cavagnari, Major, Specially tempted 
to indulge in, 170 

for particular Expeditions, see their 
names, also Names of Tribes 
Punjab Chiefs' Contingent — 

Constitution, 163 

Hospitality of Officers, 313, note 2 

Kuram Force, Contingent guarding 

Lines of Communications, 162 

Punjab — Distress due to Failure of 

Winter Rains, 159 
Punjab Infantry, 29th — 

Pathan Treachery on Peiwar Moun- 
tain, 76, 81 

Punjab Infantry {continued} — 
Pathan Treachery (continued) — 
Court-Martial at Kuram — Sen 
tences on Offenders, 104 
Theft from Field Treasiu-y Chest at 
Kuram by Native Non-Com- 
missioned Officers, 104 
Putties, Woollen Putties, tightening 
when wetted, etc., 2, note 1 


Quetta — 

British Garrison, 316, 317 

Insanitary Condition, 123 
Quetta Reinforcements, see Biddulph's 


Rennick, Capt. — Political Officer in 
Peiwar Region, 98 
Courage and Coolness at Ali Khel, 
222 and note 1 
Roberts, Gen. — 

Diu-bar at Hazir Pir, 59 
Kabul, Arrangements for Advance 
on — Order cutting down Im- 
pedimenta, 309, 313 
Khost Expedition — 

Looting and burning of Villages, 
No Prisoners to be taken, 211 
Military Necessity pleaded as 
Justification — Defence in- 
valid, 213, 228 
Roberts', Gen., Account of 

Transaction, 220, 228 
Traditional Practice of Anglo- 
Indian Army reversed by 
Gen. Roberts, 213 
Responsibility resting entirely 
with Gen. Roberts, 229 
Kuram Campaign — Haste and Rash- 
ness characterizing, 94 
Kuram District, Political Annexa- 
tion of — Address to Chiefs, 
etc., 105 
McPherson, Mr., Standard Corre- 
spondent — Treatment of, 314, 
Peiwar Mountain Operations — 
Attack of November 28, an 
attempted Coup-de-Main, 67 
Turning Movement on Spin Gawai 
— Criticism of Gen. Roberts' 
strategy, 83, 85 
Sappari Pass, Examination of — 
Faulty Dispositions, etc., 103, 
note 2, 106, 108, note 2 

B B 



Roberts, Gen. (continued) — 
Sappari Pass (continued) — 

for details of Operations see their 

Names, also Kiiram Field 


Russia — Relations with Shore Ali, 158 

Congress to be summoned by the 

Czar — Shore Ali's Resolution 

to travel to St. Petersburg, 146 

Kaufmann's Letters — Shere All's 

Reply, 152, 153 
Stolietoff's Letter, Paraphrase of, 
in Firman of 22 December, 
150, 152 

St. John, Major — 

Adviser to Nawab Gholam Hussain 

Khan in Kandahar, 244 
Attack on, in Kandahar, 243 
Sale's, Gen., Retreat to Jellalabad, 
October, 1841 — Disaster in 
defile between Jagdalak and 
the River Surkhab, 107 
Sandemann, Major, R. — 

Biddulph's Force, Supplies furnished 

to, 109 
Influence with Baluchis, etc. — 
Assistance rendered to Kan- 
dahar Field Force, 120, 130 
Sappari Pass, Passage of — Mangal 
Attack, on Gen. Roberts' 
Transport Train, etc., 99 
Faulty Dispositions, Neglect of 
Precatations, etc., 103, note 2, 
lOG, 108, note 2 
Scott, Mr. G. B., of the Survey De- 
partment — Attack on,byHill- 
" • men near Michni Fort, 195 

Shere Ali — 

Appeal to Congress of Powers to be 
summoned by the Czar- 
Resolution to travel to St. 
Petersburg, 146 
Kaufmann's Letters, Reply to, 153 
Mistake in trusting to Russian 

Intervention, 158 

Stolietoff's Letter, Paraphrase of, 

in Firman of 22 December, 

150, 1.52 

British Mission, Refusal to receive — 

Misrepresentation of Facts in 

England, 13G, 139 
Refusal Justified by Events, 157 
Broken Health, etc., 144 
Cavagnari's, Major, Charge against — 
Execution, Mutilation, etc., 
of British newsagents in 
Afghanistan, 171 

Shere Ali (continued) — 

Death at Mazir-i-Sharif, 155 

Letter of Condolence to Yakub 
Khan sanctioned by Lord 
Lytton, 336 
Departure from Kabul, 148 
Firman of 22 December, 148 
Internal Administration of Afghani- 
stan, 155 
Letter in reply to Lord Lytton's 
Ultimatum, 145 
Text of same, 347 
Private Life, 156 
Vicissitudes of Career, 155 
Yakub Khan — 

Quarrel with — Effect on Shere 
All's relations with British 
Government, 156 
Release and Acceptance as Heir, 
145, 147 
Shinwari Clan — Punitive Expeditions, 
etc. — 
Destruction of Chenar Village, 

Leach's, Capt. E. P., Survey Party 
attacked by villagers of 
Maidanak, 195 
Tytler's Punitive Expedition, 196 
Mausam, Tytler's Punitive Expedi- 
tion, 197 
Constitution of Column — Danger- 
ous weakness, 197, 199 
Raid on Tytler's Communications 
during Expedition to Mau- 
sam, 199 
Utterson's Expedition, 173 
Shutargardan Reconnaissance, 96 
Sibi — British Control, Conditions of 
Peace laid down by Lord 
Lytton, 337 
Sickness among the Troops, 162 
Ali Masjid — Sickness due to Water 

of Khyber River, 30 
Kandahar Field Force, 162 
Kuram Field Force, 200, 222 
Maude's Division, 41, 162, 174 
Sind Camel-men, British Breach of 
Faith witli — Camel-men com- 
pelled to proceed to Pishin, 
117, 119 
Sind, Commissioner of — Number of 
Camels, etc., supplied to 
Military Authorities, 161 
Sisobi Region — Submission of Villages 

to Gen. Tytler, 50 
Spin Gawai Position — Night March, 
Attack and Capture, 75-79, 



Stewart, Gen. — 

Kandahar Province, Opposition to 

Retention of, 260 
Operations conducted by, see Kan- 
dahar Field Force and 
Khelat-i-Ghilzai Expedition. 

Stolietoff, General, Letter of 8 October 
to Wazir Shah Muhammed 
Khan — Shere Ali's Interpre- 
tation of Letter, 150, 152 

Strong, Capt. — Part in Kam Dakka 
Affair, 299 

Sultan Jan — Appointed to hold Khost 
Valley for the British, 224 

Survey Operations, Pathan Suspicion 
Hostility of Tribes, 311 
Attacks on Survey Parties in the 
Khyber, 195 

Swat, Akhand of — Efforts to stir up 
Mahomed Shah Khan against 
the British, 194 

Swetenham, Capt. — Assault on Ali 
Masjid — Heroism in disobey, 
ing call to retire, 13, tiote 2 


Takht-i-Pul Valley Reconnaissance — 
Action at Ghlo Kotal Pass (Palliser), 

Afghan Retreat on Kandahar, 236 
Temple, Sir R.— 

Mula Pass Route to Pishin Valley 

opened up, 318 
Supply Chaos at Sukkur, Struggle 
with, 161 
Thal-Chotiali Force, see Kandahar 
Field Force — Biddulph's Divi- 
Thal-Ktu'am Road, opening — Stages, 

etc., 305 and 7iote 2 
Transport Difficulties — 

Ali Masjid Turning Movement — 

Bullock Transport, 1, 26 
Increasing Difficulties — Impossi- 
bility of meeting Demand, 
Kabul, Preparations for Advance 
on, Position of Browne and 
Roberts as regards Transport, 
Kandahar Field Force — Mortality 
among Camels, etc., 130, 160, 
233, 245 
Breach of Faith with Sind Camel- 
men, etc., 117, 119 

Transport Difficulties (continued) — 
Khelat-i-Ghilzai Expedition, 253 
Kuram Field Force, 201, 305, 309, 
313, 339 
Treaty of 1857 — British Engagement 
to send none but a Native 
Envoy to Kabul, 136 
Tribesmen of North-West Frontier — 
Chiefs, Inabilitv to restrain Indi- 
viduals, 182 
Pathans in Native Regiments — 
Kandahar Field Force, Desertions 

from, 125 
Pimjab Infantrv, 29th, see that 
Punitive Expeditions — 

Cavagnari, Major, specially 

tempted to indulge in, 170 
see also Names of Tribes and 
Surveyors, Hatred of, 195, 7iote 1,311 
Svispicion and Hostility roused by 

the War, 164, 345 
Villages, Indiscriminate Destruc- 
tion, Gen. Maude's Opposition 
to, 52, note 1 
for particular Tribes see their Names. 
Tucker, Capt. — Assistant Political 
Officer with Second Bazar 
Expedition — Opinion as to 
wisdom of retiring, 181 
Turning Movements — 

Ali Masjid, Flank March on, 1, 16 
Inadequate Time allowed, etc., 
Conditions of Success — Actions at 

Vimeiro and Rori^a, 84 
Lagman Valley — 10th Hussars Dis- 
aster, etc., 301 
Peiwar Mountain Operations, 75 
Division of Forces in presence of 
enemy — Gen. Roberta' mis- 
take in March on Spin Gawai 
Position, 83, 85 
Second Turning Movement to- 
wards Zabardust Killa, 89 — 
Criticism, 94 
Tytler, Gen.— 

Ali-Masjid, Flank March on, 1, 3, 

16, 19 
Bazar Expedition, 50 

Mistake in disposition of Baggage 
on Return March, 65 
Dakka Command, 43 
Shinwari Punitive Expeditions, 43, 

196, 197 
Supersession by Gen. Gough, In- 
justice, 293, note 1 




Utterson, Col. A. H. — Shinwari Pvini- 
tive Expedition, 173 

Willis, Lieut. — Stabbed in Kandahar, 

Woods' Column — 10th Hussars' Dis- 
aster at Kabul River, 284, 301 

Viceroy, see Lord Lytton 
Victoria Cross Awards — 

Cook, Capt. J., 78, 313, tiote 1 
Creagli, Capt. O'Moore, 300 
Ghlo Kotal Action — Order of Merit, 
not V.C., awarded to Native 
Soldiers, 236 
Hamilton, Lieut. W. R. P., 291 
Vitakri — Site selected for Cantonment, 


Wali Mahomed Khan — Selected by 
Lord Lytton as possible Suc- 
cessor to Shere Ali, 166 
Candidature no longer pressed, 310 
Waterfield, Col. R. "g.— AH Masjid 
Operations, Letter to Sir S. 
Browne on 21 November. 27 
Watson, Gen. — Command of Kuram 
Field Force Communications, 
Wellington, Duke of — 

Comparison of Wellington's Position 

on arrival at Franco-Spanish 

Frontier with Stewart's on 

Entry into Kandahar, 259 

Non-Combatants, Justice and 

Humanity towards, 214 
Vimeiro and Rori^a, Actions of — 
Double Flank Movement, 84 

Yakub Khan — 

Afghan Army, Reconstitution of, 194 

Attitude towards Great Britain, 154, 

Peace Negotiations, 311 

Gandamak, Journey to — Accept- 
ance of Lord Lytton' s Terms, 
340, 341, 342 

Quarrel with Shere Ali, Effect on 
relations between Great Bri- 
tain and Afghanistan, 156 

Release and Acceptance as heir by 
Shere Ali, 145, 147 

Zakka Khel— 

Bazar Expeditions, see that title 
Depredations in the Khyber the 
work of Individuals, not the 
policy of the Clan, 182 
Divisions among — Minority adhering 

to British Government, 50 
Lala Beg Valley, Destruction of 
Hamlets by Sir S. Browne's 
Troops, 37 
Zymukhts — Raids on Communications 
of Kuram Force, 164, 201, 304 

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