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edited by A. P. NEWTON, M.A., D.Litt., B.Sc, and 
















Introductory 5 


I. Early Years . 8 

II. The Indian Frontier 12 

III. Among the Tribesmen 21 

IV. The First Mission to Kalat 27 

V. Kalat Again 34 

VI. Quetta in the Afghan War 43 

VII. The Further Settlement of Baluchistan ... 51 

VIII. Last Days 58 




Sir Robert Sandeman was one of many of our 
countrymen who have given their lives to the service of 
our Empire on the Indian frontier. He spent his life 
there, from early manhood until his death on January 29, 
1 892, in his fifty-seventh year. " He died, as he lived, 
in the discharge of his duty" — says the inscription on 
the memorial tablet in our church at Quetta — " Fervent 
in spirit and serving the Lord." The truth of these few 
simple words is not to be challenged. It is manifest to 
all who knew and remember him, as well as to those who 
know the wild country which he served so well. There 
his memory is yet green and his name still casts a 

It was in Baluchistan, the southern portion of our 
Indian frontier, that his life's work was done. That wide 
region of mountain and desert he found in a state of mis- 
rule and misery, at times of open civil war. At his death 
he left behind him a well-ordered country where British 
influence was supreme and — more than that — welcome. 
His was no military conquest. No great victories in the 
field marked his career. Force was not his weapon, al- 
though, on proper occasion, few could be more forceful 
or swift to act than he. In a country where bravery is 
the first of native virtues, his courage was often tried and 
his fearlessness well known. But over and above these 
qualities, which in our frontier service have been common 
and indeed are expected, there was in him much more. 
His leading motive, so strong that it was almost a passion, 



was love for his fellow-creatures, especially the half- 
civilised peoples among whom his life was spent. It was 
a delight to him to adjust their fierce quarrels, and re- 
dress the grievances among them which caused so much 
misery and bloodshed. This, coupled with a strong 
sense of duty and inexhaustible tenacity and patience, 
made him the great man that he was. For Sandeman 
was great undoubtedly, although he himself did not know 
it. "I might have been a great man," he once remarked 
in his home circle, "but for the telegraph." Official 
distinction was probably in his mind when he spoke : of 
this no great share fell to him. His greatness lies rather 
in the work which he actually did, the value of which is 
now clearer than it was in his lifetime. He came to that 
wild country as a messenger of peace and goodwill, much 
opposed, much misunderstood, and greatly daring. 
Peace and goodwill were the foundations that he built 
upon : a structure so founded was bound to last. In his 
lifetime his influence and hold upon the country stood 
firm in the Afghan War of 1878-80 under the most 
exacting strain. After his death the widespread frontier 
troubles of 1 897 did not affect Baluchistan. And now, 
in the past few years, when the strain on our Indian 
frontier has been greater and more protracted than ever 
before, Baluchistan has proved a source of strength and 
security. It has most amply fulfilled its founder's hopes 
and plans. 

Sandeman's life ] has already been written by his con- 
temporary, Dr. T. H. Thornton, who was Secretary to 
the Governments in India under which Sir Robert 
worked. This book is of great value and gives a full and 
sympathetic description of Sir Robert and his work. 
Much more, however, has been made public during the 
twenty-five years which have passed since the "Life" 
appeared ; and his story will bear telling again in the 

1 Thornton's " Life of Sir Robert Sandeman ". Murray, 1895. 


briefer fashion of this series of Empire Builders, among 
whom he merits a high and honoured place. The writer 
can only claim that, holding for upwards of two years 
(1905-7) the same office, he was able to learn on the spot 
how marvellous was the hold on the chiefs and peoples 
of Baluchistan which Robert Sandeman had established, 
and which his memory and system maintained. 



Robert Groves Sandeman was born at Perth on 
February 25, 1835. He came of a good old Scottish 
stock, which gave to Perth in the seventeenth and eight- 
eenth centuries several distinguished citizens. One of 
the best known was Robert Sandeman, who founded the 
" Sandemanian " Church of simple Christian people, to 
which the great scientist Faraday belonged. This Robert 
died in America in 1771. His "patience, boldness, and 
love of conciliation " passed in a marked degree to his 
namesake and kinsman a century later. His fourth 
brother, Thomas, was Treasurer and Magistrate of Perth. 
Thomas' grandson, Robert Turnbull Sandeman, entered 
the military service of the East India Company in 1824. 
His regiment was the 33rd Bengal Infantry which he 
commanded throughout the first Sikh War. He retired 
in 1862 with the rank of Brigadier-General. He married 
a Miss Barclay, and Robert, the subject of this memoir, 
was their son. 

Robert was one of a family of ten. When he was ten 
months old his parents returned to India, leaving him 
and his elder brother in the care of his aunts at Perth. 
For these four ladies, who were unmarried, Robert had 
and retained a lifelong affection. Their love he never 
forgot : the strong religious beliefs, which they imparted, 
he carried with him all his life. He did not see his 
father again until many years later, when he arrived in 
India, a young military Cadet, as his father had been 



before him. Then father and son at once became fast 
friends and companions : the man and the boy loved 
each other. 

Robert was sent to school at the Perth Academy, and, 
later, to St. Andrews University. At neither did he 
distinguish himself. He was not studious then or 
afterwards. Nor was he, when a boy, great at athletics. 
He was a strong fellow, mischievous and bold enough, 
ready to fight on occasion, tender-hearted to animals, 
and very sensitive and affectionate. When a home letter, 
which he expected, did not come, he walked thirty miles 
to Perth to find out the reason. Dr. Miller, his old 
schoolmaster, thus summed him up before he sailed for 
India : — 

" Robert Sandeman ! Ye did little work at school, 
but I wish ye well. And I would not like to be the 
Saracen of Bagdad or the Tartar of Samarkand that 
comes under the blow of your sabre." 

Robert went to India in 1856. Although for a brief 
while he had tried life in a business office, he was resolved 
to be a soldier. So he sailed as soon as his commission 
was granted, bearing with him a pleasant face and 
manner, a stout frame and heart, little learning, and no 
interest. In India he soon joined his father's regiment. 

Early in 1857 rumours were afloat in India of danger 
and coming trouble. The mysterious unleavened cakes 
were being passed from village to village. Mutiny by 
the native army was in the air. By May the cloud had 
burst in the outbreaks at Meerut and Delhi, and the storm 
was gathering strength on all sides. The disarming 
of all doubtful or disaffected regiments was ordered. 
Among them was the 33 rd. 

Colonel Sandeman was one of many British officers in 
the Indian Army who absolutely believed in their men. 
He and his officers, says Lord Roberts, 1 trusted in them 

111 Forty-one Years in India," Lord Roberts, Vol. I., Chap. X. 


"to any extent". The disarming was carried out on 
June 25, at Phillour, immediately after that of the 35th 
regiment, and on the same parade ground. In both cases 
the command was obeyed by the sepoys without a word. 

The order came to Colonel Sandeman and his officers 
as a bolt from the blue. They had been told nothing. 
The Colonel, on hearing it, exclaimed — " What ! Disarm 
my regiment ! I will answer with my life for the loyalty 
of every man." When Roberts repeated the order he 
burst into tears. In later life Sir Robert told Lord 
Roberts how terribly his father had felt the disgrace of 
his old corps. 

Lord Roberts makes it clear that there was great feel- 
ing. The officers of the 33rd, he says, did not take things 
so quietly as those of the 35 th had done. The scene 
must have been distressing to all, and especially to father 
and son. The latter acted admirably, with perception 
and discretion beyond his years. No doubt he softened 
the blow to his shocked and overstrung father. He did 
not share his father's sublime confidence in the sepoys. 
For some time past he had followed him through the 
lines, carrying a loaded pistol, ready to shoot the first 
man who threatened the Colonel's life. He had also 
escorted his two sisters to a place of greater safety, all 
three disguised as natives. It is pleasant to record that, 
after the disarming, the regiment remained faithful. The 
arms were publicly restored when the crisis was over. 

After the disarmament the younger Sandeman was 
transferred to another corps. He volunteered for active 
service before Delhi. After its fall he took part in 
various operations. He was in the storming of Dilk- 
husha and the final capture of Lucknow. He was twice 
severely wounded, and gained a high reputation for 
pluck and zeal. Report has it that he was sent to carry 
despatches to Sir John Lawrence, over a dangerous tract 
infested by mutineers, and that he performed this duty so 
quickly and well that Sir John offered him civil employ- 


merit under the Panjab Government It is probable that 
Sir John, who knew most men and things in his Province, 
took no leap in the dark when he made the offer. He 
and Colonel Sandeman were old friends. He knew the 
Phillour story and the young man's fighting record as 
well. Robert was still anxious to be a soldier : however 
he accepted the offer. In May, 1859, therefore, his 
strictly military career ended and he entered civil employ. 
After two and a half years' training in administration he 
was posted to the Panjab frontier. He brought to his 
new work an experience of men and things which must 
have been unusual in so young an officer, even in those 
stirring times. 



By the "frontier of India" is meant the north-west 
frontier : for the north-eastern frontier is impassable. 
With the far east borders, which touch China and Siam, 
this memoir is not concerned. The south-east and south- 
western borders of the great Dependency are, of course, 
the seas, by which we entered India and by which we 
hold it. The north-west frontier is India's land frontier. 
Our dealings with it commenced little more than a 
century ago, and form in our Indian history a chapter of 
their own. 

The frontier is some twelve hundred miles long, and 
is fenced by mountain barriers which stretch from the 
Himalayas to the coast of the Arabian sea. The river 
Indus may be conveniently taken as its base line, from 
the point where the stream bends southward in the 
great mountain ranges, to the sea which it reaches below 
our harbour at Karachi, the port and capital of Sind. 
But the river is by no means the frontier itself: that lies 
considerably to the west of it. The distinguishing- 
feature of the frontier is that its mountain walls are 
pierced by passes, by which the plains of India have been 
entered and overrun from Central Asia from time im- 
memorial. These passes are very few. The physical 
features of the frontier are stupendous. Its distances are 
immense. The mountains from which the river Indus 
flows are the highest in the world ; and the river itself is 
one of the greatest known to geographers. In the Indus 



valley and the foot-hills beyond it the heat of summer is 
terrible. In winter the cold is bitter everywhere, and 
above the lower levels it becomes piercing. So scorching 
is the heat of the desert which lies at the foot of the 
Bolan pass, that the native proverb says of the village 
there, " Having Dadar, why did the Almighty create a 
hell ? " The aspect of the mountains round the pass is 
so forbidding that Sir Charles Napier was moved to say, 
that this must be the place where, after the creation of the 
world, the spare rubbish was shot down. Of the passes 
the Bolan and the Khyber are the principal. The first 
leads from the Sind desert to Quetta, whence lies the 
road to Kandahar, the chief city of South Afghanistan. 
The Khyber leads from our border city of Peshawar to 
the Afghan border and the road to the Afghan capital, 
Kabul. There are other passes, but they are less im- 

These passes, or their ancient and mediaeval equivalents, 
have witnessed the passage into India of many invading 
hosts and hordes. Alexander the Great's legions (327-5 
B.C.) came through them ; as did armies led by Grseco- 
Bactrian kings who ruled in Central Asia after his time. 
One of these, 1 Menander (153 B.C.) was the last general 
of European extraction to lead an army into India by 
land. Great Hindu emperors controlled the frontier 
country in and about the Christian era. Buddhist re- 
mains still attest their ancient supremacy. In the long 
centuries that follow, Hun, Tartar, Afghan, Moghul, and 
Persian hosts have swept down the passes and plundered 
India below. The wasting of Baluchistan by the great 
Timur (A.D. 1399) is still remembered there with shudder- 
ing and dread. The last two of the invaders were Nadir 
Shah, the Persian conqueror who sacked Delhi (A.D. 
1739); and Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Afghan King of 
Kabul, who repeated the exploit (A.D. 1756). These 

1 " Early History of India," V. A. Smith, Chap. VIII. Oxford, 1904. 


two invasions took place when the empire of the Great 
Moghul at Delhi had fallen into decay. 

The peoples that dwell in the frontier countries match 
well with its stern conditions. They are hardy, brave, 
fierce, and lawless. They have long been Mohammedans ; 
though the precise dates when they embraced Islam are 
not known. The Arabs from Mesopotamia entered 
Baluchistan in the eighth century, passing through the 
coastal country between Persia and the Indus. They 
conquered the lower and middle Indus valleys, and held 
them for two centuries, when their rule ended. The date 
of the conversion in this region has been placed in this 
period. The inhabitants of the frontier country at the 
present day are composed, broadly, of two races. The 
tribes on the northern portion, from the Himalayas to 
the middle Indus valley, are Pathan. From there to the 
sea the tribes are Baluch, or akin to Baluch. Between 
the two races there is a considerable difference. The 
Pathans (the name is supposed to mean " hill-men ") x 
include the Afghans, by whom we generally mean the 
inhabitants of Afghanistan proper. There are numerous 
Pathan tribes and clans outside Afghanistan. The 
Afghans call themselves children of Israel, although it 
is not clear that they claim Jewish descent. 2 

The Baluch, who have given their name to Baluchistan, 
by tradition came from the region of Aleppo, whence they 
migrated, through Mesopotamia and Southern Persia, to 
Baluchistan. They are said to have first settled in the 
coastal tract which is called Mekran, and borders with 
Persia. This is the country where Alexander's army 
suffered cruelly from thirst on its way back to Persia. 

The Baluch then moved north-eastwards in the direc- 
tion of the Indus valley, in which the towns of Dera 
Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan bear the names of 

1 Thornton's "Sandeman," Chap. II. 

9 Ibid. t Chap. II. ; also " The Life of Amir Abdur Rahman," Vol. II., 
Chap. VII. ^Murray, 1900. 


Baluch chiefs, who pitched their encampments (de>as) 
there. The Baluch migration was followed by that of 
the Brahuis ! (Brohis), who occupied the tracts which the 
Baluch had vacated, and fixed their stronghold at Kalat 
in the uplands. The date of neither migration is known. 
The Brahuis also came, by their tradition, from Aleppo. 

Both Baluch and Brahuis are divided into numerous 
tribes and clans. The Murrees and the Boogtis are, 
perhaps, the chief Baluch tribes. The Brahui tribes 
form a loose confederacy, of which the Khan of Kalat is 
the head. They are divided into two main groups — the 
highlanders (Sarawans), who inhabit the uplands; and 
the lowlanders (Jhalawans), who live in the country 
below. The Brahuis greatly outnumber the Baluch. 

The Baluch, though fierce and warlike, are not fanatical 
or bigoted. They are brave, with a bold and manly 
bearing and frank manners ; good horsemen, and of good 
physique. Their long oiled curls, which hang down to 
their shoulders, give them a most striking appearance ; 
and a Baluch chief in gala dress is a fine figure of a man. 
They are profuse in hospitality and expect to receive it 
in equal measure. The Brahuis are not unlike them, but 
are less striking and martial. The Baluch appear to be 
the older and purer race. They do not give their 
daughters in marriage to the Brahuis, but the latter will 
marry daughters into a Baluch family, without scruple. 2 
Some of the Brahui clans are called Baluch : others seem 
to have absorbed Hindu and other races whom they 
found in the country. The Baluch recognise and obey 
the leader of the tribe, or "Tumandar," as he is called — 
" the leader of ten thousand ". With the Pathan tribes 
this is, generally, not the case. Here the tribesmen 
are democratic, obey no authority for long, and are, 

1 Colonel Webb Ware, "Journal, Central Asian Society," Vol. VI., 

2 •* The Brahui Language," Bray, Part I., 1919, Introduction, CzU 
cutta, 1909. 


moreover, fanatical, vindictive, and treacherous. The 
Pathan tribes in Baluchistan live in the country north- 
east of Quetta, which includes Pishin, and the Zhob 
valley and its outskirts. 

The whole tribal country has been called " Yaghistan," 
or the " country of the lawless/' by all outside authorities 
that have had to deal with it, Persian and Afghan as 
well as ourselves. The love of freedom is strong in all 
the border tribes, although Baluchistan has never been 
independent for long. This passion for independence 
would merit respect, were it not for the fierce and cruel 
rapacity which has long made and still makes the 
tribesmen a terror to their peaceful neighbours in the 

In the days of the Moghul Empire at Delhi, which 
Babar founded in 1526, the frontier country was con- 
trolled by Viceroys or Governors at Kabul and Kandahar. 
This last province was wrested from the Moghul by 
Persia. On the break-up of the Persian Empire, after 
Nadir Shah's death in 1 747, a powerful Afghan kingdom 
was established by Ahmed Shah Abdali. This covered 
much of the frontier region and the Panjab, while the 
Afghans further claimed suzerainty over the Amirs of 
Sind. Ahmed Shah died in 1773. His successor was 
ousted from the Panjab by the powerful and warlike 
Hindu government established by the Sikhs at Lahore, 
which developed into the Sikh kingdom ruled by the 
famous Maharaja Ranjit Singh. By this ruler the 
Afghans were driven beyond the passes, and the Sikh 
border was carried to the foot of the network of mountains 
that forms the home of the Pathan tribes. In the 
southern portion of the frontier Afghan rule was better 
preserved. But Baluchistan contained a ruler of its own in 
the Khan of Kalat, the head of the Brahui confederacy. 
Nasir Khan I. (1755-95) was the great Khan of Kalat, 
and is still the hero of Baluch legend and lay. He con- 
trived to avoid absorption, proved a useful ally both to 


the Persian and the Afghan, and added much to his own 
dominions and power. 

Our dealings with the frontier countries commenced in 
1809. We were then engaged in our great struggle 
with France, and Napoleon had planned to attack our 
Indian possessions, in concert with Persia. The value 
of a friendly alliance with Afghanistan was realised, and 
a treaty was concluded with Shah Shuja, the Afghan 
King. Shah Shuja was soon afterwards driven from his 
country and replaced by a ruler of the Barakzai dynasty ; 
but the danger from France had ceased in 18 15. By 
that time British ascendancy was established in India, 
and we controlled the whole country, except the two 
frontier kingdoms of the Panjab and Sind. With 
Afghanistan and Baluchistan we had little to do. 

By 1837 a new danger to India had arisen — the ad- 
vance of Russia in Central Asia. This menace, which 
still exists, has been ever since a dominant factor in the 
frontier policy of the Government of India. The exiled 
Afghan ruler, Shah Shuja, had sought refuge in India, 
and had more than once endeavoured to regain his 
throne. Afghanistan was now of prime importance to 
India, as an outwork against the aggression of a great 
foreign power ; and Baluchistan, which marches with 
south Afghanistan and Persia, was hardly less so. We 
engaged to replace Shah Shuja on the throne in Kabul, 
and he guaranteed to us in return a friendly alliance. 

The project failed disastrously. British armies were 
sent up the Indus, with a contingent under Shah Shuja. 
They passed up the Bolan and through Quetta and 
Kandahar to Kabul in 1838. There the exiled ruler was 
reinstated and maintained for two years. In 1 84 1 there 
was a general rising against both him and us. Our 
envoys at Kabul were murdered ; and our Kabul garrison, 
compelled to retreat to India by the nearest road, was 
massacred on the way. Avenging armies were sent from 
Kandahar and India to Kabul. They withdrew in 1842, 



when Afghanistan regained, in Amir Dost Mahomed, a 
ruler of its own choosing. 

A minor incident in this unhappy story was the storm- 
ing of Kalat in 1839. The Khan had engaged to sup- 
port us. He was — unjustly, as it proved — suspected of 
treachery. Kalat was stormed by our troops and Khan 
Mehrab died fighting in defence of his fort and palace. 
His death was followed by disorder, in which our agent 
at Kalat was barbarously murdered. Mehrab Khan's 
son was installed as his successor, partly in tardy justice 
to his father's memory, partly as the best means of paci- 
fying the country ; and a treaty was concluded with him 
in 1 841, which was negotiated by Major, afterwards Sir 
James, Outram. Sandeman used to tell afterwards that 
this son, Khudadad, the young Khan of his day, could 
never speak of his father's death without marked agita- 
tion and grief. 

During these hostilities our troops and transport 
suffered heavily all along the immense line of communi- 
cations from the tribesmen, who lost no opportunity of 
plundering and murdering the unarmed and unwary. On 
the Baluchistan side the Murree tribe were the most 
mischievous. In 1840 a force was sent to their country 
to punish them. One detachment was surrounded and 
besieged at Kahan, the chief Murree village. It was 
withdrawn after a memorable defence, but not until a 
relieving column had been beaten back by the tribesmen, 
who captured three guns and almost destroyed it. Two 
of these guns were recovered in 1859. The third, which 
could not then be found, was still in Kahan twelve years 

In 1843 we conquered the Amirs of Sind and annexed 
that country. We were then, for the first time, brought 
up against the tribal country, border to border. Our 
border, or rather the only dangerous part of it, was 
covered by the Sind desert, which stretches from the 
Indus to the foot of the hill countrv and the mouth of 


the Bolan pass. This desert, which is the hottest part of a 
burning country, is about 200 miles long and 1 50 across. 

In 1845 an d again in 1848 we were at war with the 
Sikhs : for on the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839 
his kingdom had lapsed into anarchy. The Sikh armies 
were defeated after a very severe struggle, and the Panjab 
became a British province. We were then again brought, 
border to border, with the tribal country over a long 
stretch of 800 miles. And here, all along, the tribes are 
Pathan, except at the southern extremity where the 
Panjab and Sind meet, and the Baluch tribal country 

One of the first tasks of our two border administra- 
tions was the protection of the Indian plains. Sir Charles 
Napier, conqueror and governor of Sind, was compelled 
by continued raids to march into the Murree and Boogtee 
tribal country in 1845. He proclaimed the tribesmen to 
be outlaws, and offered a reward for every one of them 
who was killed or captured within his borders. He tried 
to guaru his border by military posts and forts ; but he 
had little success until, in 1847, he formed a frontier 
force, and gave its command to Captain, afterwards 
General, John Jacob. Jacob soon brought the raiders 
under control. Disdaining the use of forts or defensive 
posts he used his troopers to wage swift and unceasing 
war against cattle-lifters and all who harried the plains. 
The desert and its heat were no obstacle to his in- 
domitable energy and courage. In 1847 a force of 
marauders, seven hundred strong, was cut off by a 
detachment of the Sind Horse under Lieut. Merewether. 
The band was destroyed, only two men escaping death 
or capture. This, with other successes, effectually 
stopped the evil. Nor did Jacob confine himself to 
watch and ward. He dug canals, made roads, and 
founded in the desert the thriving town of Jacobabad 
which is called after him. He also conducted our rela- 
tions with the Khan of Kalat, with whom he had much 


influence, and arranged with him the treaty of 1854. 
Jacob clearly saw the value of Quetta ; and in 1855 he 
was as anxious that our troops should be there, as 
Sandeman was many years later. Jacob left the frontier 
in 1855 : he returned there to die in 1858 at Jacobabad, 
where he is buried. In the Mutiny he would have been 
given a high military command, had he not been struck 
down suddenly by fever. His early death was a heavy 
loss to the Government which he had served so ardu- 
ously. The Khan of Kalat died shortly before him, and 
was succeeded by his half-brother, Khudadad Khan, 
then a boy. 

After Jacob's death Kalat affairs fell into disorder. 
The Baluch, afraid of plundering Sind, raided the Khan's 
country and made the Bolan pass impassable, save by 
large caravans. So widespread and destructive were the 
Murree raids that the Khan, assisted by our Resident, 
overran their country in 1859. For the moment the 
tribes were repressed, but not for long. Fierce disputes 
broke out between the Khan and his chiefs. He was 
deposed in 1863, and restored in 1864. Anarchy con- 
tinued. The Khan employed a force of mercenaries, 
mostly Pathans. They are described as scoundrels of all 
sorts and a scourge to the country. He fought with 
his chiefs with varying success, capturing some and then 
pardoning them ; defied and resisted by others. The 
Bolan pass remained quite unsafe, and other ways were 
closed altogether. This was the general condition of 
Baluchistan in 1866. 



Robert Sandeman's service on the frontier began at 
the close of 1861. He was first sent north and did good 
work of a minor kind in more than one district. In 
1863 he did duty with one of the military expeditions 
sent against tribes on the Peshawar border. He was 
in charge of communications, scoured the country with 
mounted levies, collected intelligence, and was happy. 
He is said to have put a telegram, postponing the attack 
on a fort, in his pocket, and kept it there until the place 
had been carried. Several similar stories cling to his 
memory : he did not like telegrams. He was then en- 
gaged to be married to his cousin, Miss Allen.' He was 
seen under dropping matchlock fire reading a letter from 
her, laying it down to issue an order and then taking it 
up again. The marriage took place in 1 864 ; and after 
two more years' service in this part of the border he was 
promoted to the charge of the district of Dera Ghazi 
Khan, in the mid-Indus valley, where the borders of the 
Panjab and of Sind meet and the Baluch tribal country 
begins. He arrived there in 1866. 

Along this frontier raiding by the tribesmen was still, 
as it always had been, the order of the day. It was met 
by stern reprisals. Before the Panjab was annexed, the 
Sikh governor at Peshawar, the Italian general, Avitabile, 
used to have captured raiders flung to the ground from a 
high tower in the city. In 1853 an officer employed on 
our frontier writes : " All outside our border, and many 



within it, were to us thieves and robbers. Our outposts 
brought in heads. I saw them rolled out on the ground 
by the troopers." I have mentioned Sir Charles Napier's 
proclamation of outlawry. His officers were of milder 
mood and withdrew it. Jacob, riding through the desert, 
was met by a man carrying a sack, who rolled out two 
heads of tribesmen and asked what reward should be 
given to him. " Give him two dozen " was Jacob's 

The head of a border district in those days was, and 
still is, a " universal provider" of administration. He 
controlled the land, the taxes, the magistrates, and the 
police. He had a voice in the management of roads, 
canals, hospitals, forests, and schools. He was re- 
sponsible for the good behaviour of the tribesmen within 
his border, and dealt with aggressors from beyond it. 
To guard against raids he had border police and levies, 
and was supported by military garrisons from which he 
could call for aid on occasion. But there was on the 
Panjab border a stringent rule that district officers, with- 
out special sanction, were never to risk their lives beyond 
it, or to dream of its extension beyond present limits. 
This rule, which dates from Sir John Lawrence's day, 
has often been criticised. But there were excellent 
reasons for it. 

Sandeman's district was a strip of the Indus valley 
about 200 miles long. Away from the river it was a 
dreary country, intolerably hot in summer. The Baluch 
lands of the district stretched to its border, where they 
came close to the hilly tribal country of the Murrees and 
other tribes over whom Sandeman had no authority. 
The control of these tribes rested in the Sind frontier 
officer at Jacobabad, who was subordinate to the Com- 
missioner in Sind, while Sandeman served under the 
Lieutenant-Governor of the Panjab. These high 
authorities, and the services under them, were indepen- 
dent of each other but both alike subordinate to the 


Government of India. Either could make or mar the 
career of any of his officers. 

Sandeman first set to work to gain the respect and 
confidence of the tribes under his own control. This did 
not take him long. He was Scotch himself and clannish- 
ness appealed to him. He liked the men and understood 
them. He found their chiefs wanting in authority and 
means ; and he gave them both. The chief Baluch tribe 
of Dera Ghazi Khan was the Mazaris, so called from 
the word Mazar which means a tiger in the Baluch 
tongue. 1 Their chief was then young and poor. 
Sandeman restored him and other chiefs to their rightful 
places as '* Tumandars ". Henceforward he had no more 
faithful and valued adherent than Nawab Sir Imam 
Baksh Mazari, as the chief afterwards became. Sir 
Imam Baksh is now dead ; but his son, Nawab Sir 
Bahram Khan, survives him and well maintains the 
reputation of his loyal and distinguished father. Nawab 
Jamal Khan, chief of the Lagharis, was another of the 
Baluch chiefs who worked with Sandeman from the be- 
ginning and proved a worthy colleague of the Mazari 

In another matter Sandeman was fortunate. He 
found in 1866, in Dera Ghazi Khan, a valued assistant 
in Mr. Bruce, who worked with him for more than 
eighteen years. In the early Quetta days Mr. Bruce was 
Sandeman's right hand ; and he has published a graphic 
account 2 of the work which he and Sandeman did to- 
gether. Sandeman found, too, in a very lowly position, 
a Hindu clerk named Hittu Ram. This extraordinary 
man was little more than five feet high, spare and thin, 
and perhaps the last person in the world to be thought 
capable of dealing with the stalwart tribesmen. But 
Sandeman saw that there was good stuff in him, tested 

" The Baluch Race," Dames, Royal Asiatic Society, 1904. 
a " The Forward Policy and its Results," R. I. Bruce, CLE. Long- 
mans, 1900. 


him, and soon made him one of his most trusted sub- 
ordinates. Hittu has left a full record of Baluchistan 
history, one section of which deals with Sir Robert's 
work from 1866 until his death. This has been admir- 
ably translated by General Sir Claud Jacob, himself an 
old Baluchistan officer ; while Colonel Archer, who long 
served under Sir Robert, has written the preface. As 
one reads it one seems to hear the little man's wonder- 
ful voice dominating, as Colonel Archer tells us it did, 
the clamour of a tribal assembly, and seeming to " ride 
the whirlwind and direct the storm ". On this work 1 I 
shall draw largely, speaking of its author as the 
" Chronicler " ; since his quaint, simple, and obviously 
truthful narrative often recalls other chronicles. Indeed 
the country, and its peoples and their doings, frequently 
bring to mind Old Testament scenes. 

Another of Sir Robert's trusted and valued Hindu 
subordinates was Diwan Ganpat Rai. He, too, was most 
insignificant in physique, but his authority and ability 
were not far short of Hittu Ram's. Both these Hindu 
officers are now dead. Both received and enjoyed well- 
earned honours. Sandeman's judgment in the choice 
of the men who worked for him, seldom erred ; it was 
shown conspicuously in the careers of these two men. 

When Sandeman had composed the many feuds and 
quarrels within his own limits, set the chiefs on their 
legs, and got his own house fairly in the way to order, 
he turned to his border neighbours. With these he had 
a long account to settle for raids, murders, and other 
heinous offences; but his authority was confined to 
offenders captured within his border. He began by 
summoning the chiefs concerned to a conference. To 
this they came ; but they flatly declined to enter into any 
arrangement for keeping the peace. Sandeman therefore 
dismissed them, warning one notorious raider that, if he 

1 " Sandeman in Baluchistan," by the late R. B. Hittu Ram, C.I.E., 
Government of India. Calcutta, 1916. 


again crossed the border for plunder, he would not return 
alive. The ruffian, one Ghulam Husain (Mr. Bruce des- 
cribes him as the most ill-favoured looking scoundrel in all 
the Baluch hills) laughed at the warning, and went his 
way. He soon gathered a force of twelve hundred men, 
and broke into the plains again. He was not unexpected ; 
for Sandeman had organised his own chiefs well, and 
various parties were on the watch. The fire of burning 
hamlets gave the alarm to one of the military posts. 
Forty troopers, with a contingent of five hundred tribes- 
men, galloped to the spot. A fierce fight ensued and 
the raiders were cut to pieces. The leader, with one 
hundred and twenty of his followers were killed, and two 
hundred were made prisoners. Sandeman, riding fast 
to the scene, was met by a mounted tribesman, much 
excited, who galloped up to him. Crying " Here is the 
head of Ghulam Husain," he rolled it out of his mare's 
nose-bag on to the road. Sandeman gave orders for its 
decent interment. It was carried away afterwards by 
relations and buried with the body, which they had 
taken back to the hills. 

The fame of this achievement spread far and wide. 
Sandeman's star was regarded as lucky, and his words 
of warning were proved to be words of weight. The 
border respected him. He kept his prisoners and 
summoned their chiefs to appear before him, if they wanted 
them back. At first the chiefs feared to obey the sum- 
mons. Some had gone before the Khan of Kalat and 
been flung into prison. Others, shortly before, had ap- 
peared before the Afghan governor at Sibi, and been 
beheaded. However, they had some trust in Sandeman, 
and at length they came. They then agreed to abstain 
from further outrages on his border and were honourably 
dismissed ; while a few horsemen from each tribe were 
taken into Government service to be employed as des- 
patch riders and the like. This new arrangement worked 
well. Sandeman also introduced among the tribes the 


system of referring their disputes to councils of chiefs 
and notables, according to the usage of the country. 
This system, which he had first seen at work among the 
Pathan tribes, took wonderful hold among the Baluch 
It is now extended all over their country, and forms one 
of the most popular and useful features of the adminis- 
tration. It is called the " Jirga " system, from the Persian 
word for a "circle/' and is, in practice, a form of trial by 

So far Sandeman had done very well. Much of his 
influence with the Baluch tribes was due to his habit 
of always dealing with them in the Baluch manner and 
settling disputes in accordance with their own customs. 
He used the Baluch chiefs whenever he could. Baluch 
horsemen generally formed his escorts, and offered them- 
selves eagerly for the duty. They liked his well-looking 
features, and, in the lays of which they are so fond, the 
praises of "Sinniman" were sung in many a border 
village. But in 1868 a heavy blow fell upon him. 
His wife and children were attacked by diphtheria, 
which broke out in the cantonment in a very fatal form. 
His wife and one child died : another, whom he was 
taking to the hills, died on the journey. Grief-stricken 
he returned to a desolate house, after a short journey to 
England to take home the child left to him. The tribes- 
men saw and felt for his sorrow, and they respected the 
patience with which he bore it. He flung himself into 
his work with tenfold vigour. It was then that it 
became his absorbing passion. He had begun to feel 
his strength and know that there was work for him to 
do, and that, under Providence, he could do it. 



FROM 1869 onwards Sandeman began to range further 
afield. He was now well established within his own 
border. He and his officers could travel about without 
fear of harm in hills that had been " Yaghistan" for 
centuries; where, says the Chronicler, "even natives 
could only resort at peril of their lives ". He broke the 
border rule repeatedly and successfully. These trans- 
gressions were condoned : it was impossible to resist 
him. He was allowed to place his summer headquarters 
in a hill twenty-five miles beyond his own border ; and 
he named the place " Fort Munro," after his Commis- 
sioner, Colonel Munro. 

But the Murrees and their neighbours, while they re- 
spected the district of Dera Ghazi Khan, could not be 
held back from harrying Kalat lands and the Sind 
border villages, where they had no longer Jacob to fear. 
Sandeman did his best. He was in friendly correspond- 
ence with the Sind frontier superintendent, Colonel 
Phayre, who sympathised largely with Sandeman's 
method of dealing directly with the tribes. But Kalat 
had now gone from bad to worse. The chiefs, highland 
and lowland, were again at open rupture with the young 
Khan, who remained in his fort at Kalat, while his 
soldiery ravaged the country and committed every sort 
of excess. The chiefs clamoured for the disbandment 
of his troops, and the restoration of their own ancient 
rights. Their demands were flatly refused and anarchy 



So serious was the situation that high authority 
was called on to intervene. A conference was held in 
February, 1 871, between the Lieutenant-Governor of 
the Panjab and Sir William Merewether, the Commis- 
sioner in Sind, who in 1847, when a young lieutenant, 
had inflicted such signal chastisement on the Baluch 
raiders. The conference did little. Sir William held 
strongly to the view that the Khan was a supreme ruler, 
and that all dealings with the tribes of his country must 
be carried on through him. Sandeman, however, gained 
one point. His dealings with the Murrees were recog- 
nised, and, as far as they were concerned, he was placed 
in subordination to the Sind frontier officer. The 
Khan's troubles with his chiefs were not touched. By 
the close of 1 87 1 there was a general rising, and some 
of the Khan's towns were seized. His post at Dadar 
was attacked and his official there burned alive ; robberies 
and murders took place all over the country. Sir William 
was then called upon to arbitrate between the Khan and 
his rebellious Sardars. He reached the frontier for this 
purpose in March, 1872. Sandeman was sent to 
Jacobabad to attend this meeting, but was not allowed 
to take part in it. Sir William, who regarded the rising 
as due to sympathy with the cause of the chiefs indis- 
creetly shown by our frontier officers, removed Colonel 
Phayre from his post, and ordered Sandeman to leave 
Jacobabad — it is said, within twenty-four hours. This 
Sandeman did without a word : but before he left he put 
on record a note on the position of the chiefs, of which 
he had gained a fairly accurate knowledge. His fol- 
lowers were more upset than Sandeman himself. They 
had heard him described as a mere boy, and consoled 
themselves with the Persian proverb that "greatness 
depends on the intellect, not on the age ". Thus they 
went back, much grieved. Sandeman observed that 
right would win at last, and that he looked for the day 
when he himself would be at Quetta and control Kalat 


affairs. " That," ill though he was, he would say, " is 
where we ought to be, and where I will be." 

Sir William's award effected little : it was based upon 
his view that the Khan was supreme, and that the chiefs 
had no valid grievances. The award was approved by 
the Government of India (of which Lord Northbrook was 
then the head), but it was not more fruitful than the con- 
ference of the year before. 

The Khan, indeed, did visit the Viceroy in Sind in 
November, 1872. But Kalat affairs did not mend, and 
in 1873 tne Khan's subsidy was stopped and our agent 
withdrawn. This was a curious step to take at a time 
when friendly personal influence with the Khan was 
clearly needed ; and misrule continued. The Khan's 
minister, who was a party to the award, fled from Kalat 
and sought refuge in Sind. The Brahui chiefs fled to 
the Murree hills and raided the Sind border, along with 
the Murrees. Sir William Merewether was driven to 
propose the despatch of a military force to Kalat, the 
deposition of the Khan, and the blockade of the Murrees. 
To these steps the Government were unwilling to agree. 
The question was long debated. Sandeman offered to 
proceed himself to the Baluch hills and ascertain by 
friendly enquiry the cause of these disturbances. His 
offer was at length accepted, and he was authorised to 
proceed on this mission, acting under the orders of Sir 
William, the Commissioner in Sind. He was to deal 
with the Murrees, make them give up their plunder and 
then, as he understood, go on to Kalat. The decision to 
send him was not easily taken. Sandeman was a young 
officer, quite unknown ; while the Commissioner, with 
the high authority of his long and distinguished record, 
was much opposed to him. However, Lord Northbrook's 
Government decided that they would try Sandeman, and 
he was sent. 

Before Sandeman started for Kalat he set to work to 
settle with the Murrees in his own special way. The 


tribe, always dangerous, were then unusually restless and 
disturbed. They knew of his errand to them, and re- 
sented it. But he knew them, too, and he knew himself. 
With no military escort he rode into their hills, insisted 
on the return of the stolen cattle, and remained as a 
hostage until messengers came back to report that this 
had been done. He then went back, on good terms with 
the Murree chief, who sent his brother with the mission. 

The mission started in November, 1875. It had a 
small British escort of one hundred and twenty men ; and 
a numerous tribal following went with it. Chief after 
chief joined Sandeman. From his own district came the 
Mazari chief, the Laghari, and many more: the Baluch 
tribes outside were not behind-hand. In all, the train, 
as recorded by the Chronicler, comprised eleven chiefs 
of rank, with 1 106 horsemen and 300 footmen. The 
Chronicler was himself in the mission, as was his Hindu 
colleague. And with it too went Sandeman's major-domo, 
"Mr. Bux," whose infinite resource and stately presence 
have been admired by all Sir Robert's many guests, and 
by those too who have stayed at the Residency after Sir 
Robert's time. " Mr. Bux," now a titled native gentle- 
man, still lives in retirement at Quetta, where any one 
bearing the name of Sandeman is very dear to him. 

The mission did well. It passed through the Murree 
country. Among the halting-places was one known as 
"the place of vast mutton feasts," where returning 
raiders were in the habit of feasting on their way back 
from a foray. A halt was made at Sibi, then in Afghan 
hands, where the Murrees were a terror to the villages 
outside the town. Then the Bolan was entered at 
Dadar, which the Chronicler calls a small town and very 
dirty. Here the shopkeepers used to carry their goods 
every evening for safety to the house of a holy man, and 
bring them back the next morning. The Khan had 
troops at this place and his representative was a negro 
slave. The troops saluted the mission, and supplies were 


provided. Then the mission wound its way by three 
long marches through this grim defile, suffering much 
from lack of forage. Reaching the head of the pass they 
entered the " plain of destitution," and then passed on 
to Sar-i-ab, the " head of the water," with its springs. 
This village was empty, as the tribesmen had gone down 
the pass as usual, to winter in the plains below. The 
mission was now in the Quetta valley, and entered 
Quetta, then known as Shal, on the next day. 

But while the business of the mission was progressing 
thus hopefully, affairs had taken an ill turn behind 
Sandeman's back. The Commissioner, far away at 
Karachi, was still in touch with Kalat, and his informa- 
tion from that quarter caused him to send express 
despatches, ordering Sandeman not to proceed beyond 
the Murree country, not to enter the Bolan, and to return 
at once. He had, in fact, been told that a revolution in 
Kalat was imminent. Sandeman was now in a most 
difficult position. The success of the mission seemed 
assured ; he was in no alarm, and had no occasion to ask 
for help. On the other hand, disregard of these specific 
orders might bring danger to the mission and ruin to 
himself. But his natural tenacity and shrewdness did 
not fail him. He decided to refer the whole matter to 
the Government of India, and then proceeded on his way. 
Kalat was reached on December 30, when he saw for the 
first time the great palace-fort, or " Miri," on the hill, 
and the clustered dwellings round it that form the town. 

The Khan received the mission in state; but when 
Sandeman paid his first visit to His Highness on De- 
cember 31, one of the notables asked the significant 
question : " Has the post from Sind reached the mission ? " 
Kalat, then, was well aware of the purport of the Sind 
despatches. The Khan held a formal Durbar on Janu- 
ary 1, when he received Sandeman and the chiefs who 
had joined the mission. These now included various 
Brahui chiefs, among them the premier chieftain of the 


Highlanders. The Khan met Sandeman at the door and 
seated him on his right, placing his own eldest son on 
his left. The premier chief he stood up to greet ; to the 
Baluch chiefs he half rose ; to the others he merely gave 
greeting without rising. All the chiefs sat on the carpet, 
as was, and is, the Baluch way. Then conversation was 
opened on the matters in dispute, and resumed on the 
next and following days. In the course of the discussion 
the Khan observed that he had heard that Captain 
Sandeman was without authority. 

The discussions were friendly. The Khan seemed 
willing to come to an understanding with the chiefs, if 
they would undertake to be loyal to him. He was warm 
in his expressions of loyalty to the Government of India 
and Her Majesty the Queen, saying that he was pre- 
pared to appear at any place to which they might 
summon him, even in London. The Murrees and other 
tribes spoke of amendment. At this stage, on January 
4, 1876, news arrived of an affray between the Khan's 
troops and certain Brahui villagers, ten of whom were 
killed. Sandeman gave orders for striking camp and re- 
turning at once. This reached the Khan's ears, for he 
came on that same evening to the mission camp. He 
was, however, in an intractable mood, and treated the 
affray with levity. "It is impossible," he said, "to rule 
the country without the sword. If Captain Sandeman 
is so annoyed at this insignificant matter, what will he be 
if I kill an ill-behaved chief to-morrow ? " The mission 
marched for the plains on the next morning, but not by 
the route by which they had come. On January 13 the 
Khan wrote reporting a fight between his men and one 
of the leading lowland chiefs, who was killed. He said 
also that he was releasing, at Captain Sandeman's 
instance, the villagers whom his troops had captured in 
the recent affray. Thus he showed some sort of feeling 
of responsibility. With this the work of the first mission 
ended. It was disappointing : nothing definite had been 


achieved. Sandeman, however, had gained much know- 
ledge, and made some impression upon the Khan ; nor 
was he without hope for the future, although he saw 
that he "had a hard nut to crack in His Highness the 

When he reached the plains good news awaited him. 
The Commissioner's action in recalling him had been 
considered by the Government, and held to be mistaken. 
The supreme authorities decided that Sandeman must be 
supported. As his views and the Commissioner's could 
not be reconciled, they relieved the latter of all further 
responsibility for Kalat affairs. 

Thus ended a long controversy. The relief to Sande- 
man was immense. Writing to his father he says : " I 
have had a hard battle, but the conquest is complete. 
Thank God for His goodness to the people and to me." 
That was his first thought. It was clearly recognised, 
moreover, that the success of his mission had been 
affected injuriously by the orders which sought to recall 
him, when his work was hardly begun. 



KalAt affairs did not improve after the first mission. 
The chiefs, enraged at the killing of one of their number, 
took to reprisals. The tribesmen were up and the Bolan 
was closed. Caravans could not pass through, and the 
traders clamoured for redress. The Government of 
India could not remain inactive. They resolved to try 
Sandeman again, and to give him this time a better 
chance. He was now sent on a formal mission, bearing 
a letter from the Viceroy to the Khan, in which Lord 
Northbrook said that he was sending Major Sandeman 
(as he had now become), in whom he had full confidence, 
to confer with His Highness on the affairs of Kalat, and 
effect a settlement, if possible, of all disputes. The 
strength of the escort by which the mission was accom- 
panied has sometimes been criticised to Sandeman's dis- 
advantage : but it was clearly appropriate to the occasion 
and was not excessive. The Baluch following was much 
reduced. The faithful Mazari chief, with his colleague, 
the Laghari, went with the mission ; the Chronicler was 
in due attendance. The mission started on April 4, 
1876, and six marches brought them to the mouth of the 
Bolan. The summer heat had now set in. Cholera 
broke out, and the mission had to make a long halt in 
the pass, until the disease was stayed. A large caravan, 
which had followed in its wake, was also attacked and 
had to be moved up the pass as quickly as possible. By 
April 27 the mission had reached Mastung, in the up- 



lands, and left the scorching pass behind. By that time 
Sandeman was in correspondence with the Khan, and 
numerous chiefs had joined him. There was much 
fencing by His Highness with the invitation to meet the 
mission. There were rumours of disturbances, and 
threats and counter-threats of action by the Khan's 
troops and the chiefs. Sandeman remained calm and 
unperturbed. The news of his father's death reached 
him at this time. He felt it deeply, but bore the blow 
with his customary patience and resignation. At last 
the Khan decided to accept the invitation ; and he 
arrived at Mastung on May 31. 

Meantime Sandeman had other anxieties. Lord 
Northbrook, who had much regard for him, had resigned 
the Viceroyalty ; and Lord Lytton was appointed by Mr. 
Disraeli's Government to succeed him. The position on 
the Indian frontier had become a matter of grave con- 
cern to the British Government. Khiva had been con- 
quered by Russia in 1873, an< ^ m tne two following years 
Russian occupation had been pushed much further 
towards India. Russian intercourse and influence with 
the Afghan Amir, Sher Ali, had rapidly grown. It was 
rightly surmised in India that a change of policy in our 
Afghan and other frontier relations would be initiated by 
the new Viceroy ; but how that change might affect his 
mission Sandeman could not forecast. Lord Lytton had, 
in fact, projected, with the authority of the Cabinet, the 
despatch of a friendly mission to Kabul, to be combined 
with one to Kalat and reach Kabul by Quetta and 
Kandahar ; * and he had asked Lord Northbrook there- 
fore to suspend Sandeman's mission. To this Lord 
Northbrook was unable to agree. In the event Sandeman 
had started only a few days before Lord Lytton 's arrival 
in India, feeling that his mission might be superseded or 
modified at any moment. He received no communica- 

1 " Lord Lytton's Indian Administration," Lady Betty Balfour. Long- 
mans, 1S92. 


tion from the Viceroy until June, and that was nothing 
more than a very guarded message of congratulation on 
his progress. Thus he was kept in a state of suspense 
which he felt acutely. Still he set himself steadily to 
the work in hand. 

The Khan rode into Mastung on May 31. Sandeman 
with a troop of cavalry rode out to meet him. He and 
the Khan dismounted, shook hands, and rode in together 
in friendly talk. This ceremony is one to which great 
importance is attached ; it is called the " Peshwai," or 
advance meeting. The Khan brought with him an 
escort of three hundred horse and foot, and many villagers 
were gathered in to swell the grandeur of his camp in the 
Mastung "Miri". In the afternoon Sandeman visited 
him there, performing the ceremony of " Mizaj-pursi," or 
"asking after health". This, too, is a grave ceremony 
that must never be omitted. On June 1 a formal Durbar 
was held in the mission camp, where it was noticed that 
the Khan looked ill at ease and gloomy. Sandeman 
said a few general words only, on the need for union and 
consultation, and the uselessness of seeking peace by 

On the next day Sandeman, with his two Baluch 
chiefs, visited the Khan, who asked, point-blank, if the 
Government would help him with an army to punish the 
Brahuis. Sandeman replied, point-blank and emphati- 
cally, that they would not. This frank exchange alto- 
gether cleared the air ; for the Khan at once agreed that 
he would leave his affairs in the hands of Major Sandeman, 
and abide by his decision. A Commission was then 
appointed. The Khan named two representatives ; and 
Sandeman nominated the two Baluch chiefs as arbitrators 
on the part of the Brahui chiefs. Two better mediators 
could not have been found ; since the Baluch were in- 
dependent of the Khan and were not connected with the 
Brahuis. Statements of grievances by both parties were 
drawn up, and good progress was made towards agree- 


ment. The lowland chiefs were now on their way up. 
They did not get through, however, without a skirmish 
with the Khan's troops, in which men were killed on 
both sides. 

By June 7 the agreement regarding the disputes be- 
tween the Khan and the chiefs was ready. The Khan 
had assented to it and affixed his seal. The highland 
chiefs were summoned to the mission : each came in with 
a following of two hundred men. The premier chief, the 
Raisani, was taken by Sandeman to see the Khan on the 
next day. The Khan's manner was off-hand : he did not 
give the chief the customary greeting. Some of the 
chiefs followers kissed the Khan's hand : some did not. 
There was silence, when Sandeman, rising, took the 
chief's hand and placed it in the Khan's, saying, "The 
Khan is the master : you are his chief. He should be 
favourable to you." The Khan replied that, if God 
willed, all would be well. 

On June 10 and 11 all the highland chiefs attended 
the Khan's Durbar. They were well received. The 
Khan observed that they now attended his Durbar 
according to the old custom, and how beautiful and 
pleasant a thing it was. The chiefs replied that they 
considered the day very fortunate, in that they held their 
seats in the Durbar of their old ruler. 

On June 12 a characteristic incident occurred. The 
mission post-bags were attacked in the Bolan. The 
carriers, having dismounted to drink, were fired on and 
fled to a hill. The horses, which ran away with the bags, 
were carried off. They were recovered later. On June 
16 the premier highland chief went to see the Khan 
alone. He touched the Khdn's feet, and laid his sword 
before him saying, " I offer my head also ". The Khan 
was much moved. He embraced him, and girt him with 
the sword with his own hands, saying, " You are my old 
Sardar and I consider you my arm. Use this sword 
against my enemies. I will favour you to the utmost of 


my power." The news of this, soon noised abroad, 
caused general cheerfulness. The Khan ordered his 
troops to withdraw to Kalat. 

The lowland chiefs were now drawing near, while 
messengers came in from the Pathan tribes beyond 
Quetta and from the Zhob valley. They were perturbed 
at the arrival of British officers and troops, and anxious to 
find out what it all meant. They had grievances against 
the Murrees for raids, and said that they would fall upon 
and annihilate them. On June 29 measures were ar- 
ranged for the protection of the Bolan pass. The Khan 
agreed to keep it secure, and for this purpose to act in 
consultation with Major Sandeman, and to maintain 
communications with his subjects. He and Sandeman 
were now on very friendly terms. " The burden," His 
Highness said, " must now be borne half by myself and 
half by Major Sandeman." On July 5, the lowlanders 
arrived. They were no small body : the chiefs and their 
following numbered 2000 men. They had been delayed, 
they said, by the heat of the road and the loss of eighty 
camels and horses. Otherwise they would have travelled 
as fast as a bird. The settlement already agreed to by 
the highlanders was announced to them. Councils were 
convened to hear and decide minor disputes. Concilia- 
tion made rapid strides in all directions. Prisoners and 
their families were released, as well as female slaves who 
had been sent to the Khan's harem. On July 13, when 
agreement had been reached on all matters, a final 
Durbar was held. 

This was a great and imposing function. On chairs in 
the centre sat the Khan and Sandeman. On the right 
sat the Khan's relations and officials: on the left the 
chiefs in due order. The mission escort furnished one 
guard of honour. The Khan's troops furnished another, 
with a band. The document containing the agreed terms 
of the settlement was brought in, with the Koran, and 
placed on a chair. All Mohammedans rose as their sacred 


book was brought in. The document was read aloud. 
The seals attached to it were shown to, and recognised 
by, the parties. All affirmed the binding nature of the 
agreement in the most solemn manner. Then a salute 
was fired : gifts of embroidered turbans, brocade and 
muslin, horses and silver-mounted saddles, were bestowed : 
and the Durbar ended. The Mastung Settlement, which 
is the foundation of all order in the Kalat country, thus 
came about, and it has remained in force ever since. 
The parties then dispersed, the Khan going back to 
Kaldt. Sandeman soon followed, after sending back part 
of his escort, and he remained there until December. 

It was in these two months, June and July, 1876, that 
the pacification of Baluchistan was accomplished. To 
Sandeman it was a time of strenuous and constant effort. 
The pleasant Mastung valley in the upland mountains 
was strangely transfigured. One can picture the group 
of mission tents, with the flag flying on the flag-staff 
before them ; the long lines of the escort ; the scattered 
camps of the chiefs with their crowds of retainers and 
horses ; the Khan in the fort, with his escort and follow- 
ing pitched round its walls. The camp was full of stir 
and animation. Messengers were coming in hourly with 
news from all quarters, sometimes good, sometimes 
alarming. Rumour was busy : wild men brought in wild 
stories and talked them over with excited groups of men 
as wild as themselves. Over all this stir and hum 
Sandeman was the one controlling influence. Anxious, 
but unperturbed, he steadily pursued his one aim ot con- 
ciliation, overcoming difficulty after difficulty, composing 
quarrel after quarrel. The chiefs now knew and trusted 
him, and he had secured also the Khan's goodwill. 
He was a commanding figure, with heavy frame, strong 
jaw, and small light eyes which, when he was — as often 
— deep in thought, looked rather through than at the 
person or thing before him. At Mastung in this wild 
mixed concourse he was at his best. Among the curious 


features of his unequalled hold on the tribes was his 
ignorance of their language. He could speak Hindu- 
stani fluently, but incorrectly : few beside the chiefs could 
understand him. Yet they rarely failed to gather his 
meaning, and, still more rarely, did they disregard it. 
He was no lawyer: he disliked law. But the most 
eminent lawyer could not have drawn up a better settle- 

Sandeman was able in September to report to the 
Viceroy the settlement which he had effected. Lord 
Lytton, says the Chronicler, was "not quite convinced 
of the improved state of the country ". The Chronicler, 
as usual, puts matters in a nut-shell. The settlement, 
in view of the past and recent history, must have 
appeared almost incredible. Lord Lytton's Military 
Secretary, Colonel Colley (who afterwards fell on Majuba 
Hill), was sent to Kalat. He bore letters from the 
Viceroy to the Khan and to Major Sandeman. These 
dealt with the preparation of a fresh treaty with the 
Khan, which the Viceroy proposed to ratify at Jacobabad, 
where he invited His Highness to meet him. Lord 
Lytton also invited His Highness to take part in the 
coming great assembly at Delhi, when Her Majesty 
Queen Victoria was to assume the title of " Empress of 
India ". The Khan received Colonel Colley in Durbar, 
pressed the Viceroy's letter to his forehead, accepted its 
invitations, and prepared for the coming meeting. 
Colonel Colley' s report on Kalat affairs was favourable, 
and Robert Sandeman's official reputation was made. 

In the interval at Kalat, Sandeman and the Khan met 
frequently. Khudadad Khan had entered young on his 
stormy public life. Young advisers seem to have had 
the same attraction for him as they had for King Reho- 
boam ; and but for Sandeman he could hardly have kept 
his kingdom. He reminds one constantly of Mr. 
Kipling's words: — 

Half devil and half child. 

kalAt AGAIN 41 

At this moment, however, the Khan and the envoy de- 
bated matters of State policy with mutual goodwill. The 
Khan, in dealing with his chiefs and subjects, favoured 
a doggerel Hindustani couplet, which may be para- 
phrased : — 

First beat them ; 
Then treat them. 

Sandeman suggested a better rhyme : — 

When reasoning fails, 
Then twist their tails. 

This has been labelled an old proverb ; but it seems pos- 
sible that it was an original effort of the Sandemanian 
muse. If so it stands alone. The two couplets were 
gravely discussed in Durbar, and show what manner of 
people Sandeman had to deal with. 

From Kalat to Jacobabad and Delhi the road was now 
easy. The Khan with a retinue of 3000 followers moved 
down to the plains. The chiefs passed down the Bolan. 
A portion of the British escort marched to Quetta, where 
we had by treaty the right to place troops. Early in 
December Lord Lytton reached Jacobabad. He re- 
ceived the Khan in a great Durbar, and the new treaty 
was signed. Lord Lytton describes the assembly as 
most picturesque and uncouth. "The little Khan," he 
says, "was very nervous or alarmed and trembled 
violently. He has the furtive face and restless eye of a 
little hunted wild beast which has long lived in danger of 
its life. But his manners were good, and his face, as 
soon as it loses its expression of alarm and mistrust, not 
unpleasing." Poor Khudadad ! He was deposed not 
long after the death of Sandeman — his elder brother, as 
he used to call him. A cruel series of murders, which 
he directed, was the occasion of his fall. He lived many 
years in retirement, in comfort and ease. His manners 
were pleasing to the last ; the restless eye he never lost, 
but he caused no difficulties and passed a peaceful old 
age, a fatalist and a philosopher. 


At the Delhi assembly the Khan and his wild Sardars 
were an object of great interest. The chiefs and re- 
tainers, with their long ringlets, were the observed of all 
observers. The KMn was much delighted with all that 
he saw, especially with the banners given to the feudatory 
princes of India ; for one of which he pleaded, although 
he was no feudatory but an ally. Sandeman received 
Lord Lytton's cordial congratulations. The C.S.I, was 
bestowed on him, and he was now appointed as the 
representative of our Government at Kalat, with head- 
quarters at Quetta and a suitable staff. He was anxious 
for a holiday after his long and strenuous labours. But 
leave could not be granted. Trouble was coming on the 

Of the decorations then bestowed a good share fell to 
those who had worked for Sandeman. He never forgot 
his men. The two Baluch chiefs received honours : the 
Chronicler was not overlooked. Of his leader he writes : 
" No sooner had the boat of his mission reached the shore 
of success than the first thing he did was to reward those 
who had prominently assisted him ". 



So, in the spring of 1877, Sandeman went to Quetta, 
where he had long said that he meant to be. He was 
now clothed with authority, and was, in fact, supreme in 
Baluchistan. He was cheered by letters from Lord 
Northbrook, and by the cordial support given to him by 
Lord Lytton. On his way he was badly thrown from 
his horse and had to be carried in on a litter. At Quetta 
he purchased land for a Residency and for lines for the 
troops. During the building of the Residency one of 
the engineers, Lieutenant Hewson, was murdered by 
fanatical Pathans who had become " ghazi " ; that is, had 
vowed at all cost to take the life of an unbeliever. The 
men came behind the officers, with knives hidden in 
their cloaks. Hewson was stabbed through the back, 
and his companion wounded. The murderers did not 
escape. Captain Scott, who was not far away on parade, 
heard the shouting and ran to the spot, taking a rifle and 
bayonet from his orderly. He bayoneted two of them 
and closed with the third, who was also cut down. 
Captain Scott's conspicuous gallantry was rewarded with 
the Victoria Cross. There were several of these murders 
in the early Quetta days. The valley was water-logged 
and unhealthy; and the town long had an ill name, 
preserved in Mr. Kipling's "Jack Barrett went to 
Quetta » :— 

I shouldn't like to be the man, 
Who sent Jack Barrett there. 



At that time the Khan's representative occupied the old 
fort, with a few troops ; and within its enclosure were 
the dwellings of Hindu traders and artisans, squalid and 
poverty-stricken. The Bolan traffic, by which these men 
had lived, had ceased. They could not cultivate, as the 
Khan's revenue charges were enormous, and their har- 
vests were raided. Cattle were only safe close to the 
fort. The Khan's official could not go far outside it. 
The Brahuis defied him : so strong had been the feeling 
between them and the Khan that the latter had said 
openly : " Should a Brahui chance to find his way to 
Heaven, I will apply to God either to allot me a separate 
room or permit me to go and live in hell ". The Pathan 
tribes were equally lawless and defiant. Pishm was in 
Afghan hands and the roads were closed. "When 
Major Sandeman first came to Quetta it was," says the 
Chronicler, "a fearful time. Thieves and robbers in- 
fested it in those days. It was seldom that a night 
passed over our heads without the report of firearms, 
and often one would get out of bed through fear." 

Sandeman dealt successfully with these evil surround- 
ings. From the Khan he leased the Quetta valley on a 
favourable rent, which was nearly double the amount of 
its yearly value to him. He took over the fort, removed 
the traders to a site outside, and housed the escort there. 
The Residency was built on another site. It was a 
domed mud house, comfortable, but very different from 
the luxurious residence of his successors. He then 
turned to the Bolan pass and completed the arrange- 
ments for protecting and keeping it open. This done, 
after a visit to Kalat and the lowland chiefs' country, he 
was able to snatch a brief visit to England. He was 
back in July, 1878. 

By this time war with Afghanistan was imminent. A 
"jehad," or holy war against the unbeliever, had been 
proclaimed at Kandahar. The Pathan tribes round 
Quetta were much excited, as were the Khan's soldiery 


and some of the Baluch chiefs. Sandeman had no light 
task in keeping the country quiet and preserving loyalty 
and goodwill. He also gathered intelligence from south 
Afghanistan and Kandahar, and stored advance sup- 
plies of grain and fodder. All these things, says the 
Chronicler, he did exceedingly well. 

In September, 1878, the storm broke, and our mission 
to the Amir of Afghanistan was refused passage through 
the Khyber pass. The Quetta garrison was at once 
strengthened by a division under General Biddulph. On 
November 2 1 war was declared. Biddulph's force moved 
forward and occupied Pishin without resistance. Sande- 
man went with it. Sibi, below, was also occupied. In 
both places the inhabitants were quite friendly. A 
further force, seven thousand strong, moved up the Bolan 
under General Stewart, while a reserve force was placed 
at Sukkur on the Indus. Meantime Sandeman, with the 
aid of the Pathan tribes, crossed the mountains between 
Pishin and Kandahar, and found the pass, the Khojak, 
unoccupied. The Khan of Kalat proved a loyal and 
helpful ally. Stewart crossed the Afghan border on 
January 1 , 1 879. Sandeman was most anxious to go with 
him ; for he thought that, acting with the chiefs, he could 
effect a settlement at Kandahar, as he had done at Mas- 
tung. But he was considered indispensable at Quetta. 
Stewart reached Kandahar on January 9, 1879, without 
righting. Meantime on the Kabul side events were hap- 
pening in quick succession. General Roberts, advancing 
on Kabul through the Kurram valley, gained a brilliant 
victory at the Peiwar Kotal on December 1, 1878. The 
Amir, Sher Ali, fled from Kabul ; and in February, 1879, 
he died. His son, Yakub Khan, succeeded him and sued 
for peace. 

So far everything had been easy, far too easy. The 
great value of Quetta and Sandeman's pacification had 
been clearly shown. Stewart was left in Kandahar with 
a garrison of six thousand men. Biddulph's force was sent 


back to India, not by the Bolin pass, but by a much 
shorter road which led to Sandeman's old district of Dera 
Ghdzi. On this road Sandeman set a high value. It 
was an old trade route between India and Kandahar, and 
passed through Pathan tribal country, adjacent to the 
Zhob valley, of which a certain Shah Jahan, a tribal 
chieftain, was called Padshah, or King. 

Amir Abdur Rahman l had passed down this valley 
in 1869, with his uncle, when both were fugitives after 
their defeat by Amir Sher AH. They were in evil case, 
hard put to it to find food enough to keep them alive. 
The " King of Zhob w was an old man, wearing an old 
patched coat of sheepskin and a filthy turban. His mare, 
all skin and bone, had bells tied round her knees, and 
bells hung from her cloth bridle. This dreadful appari- 
tion scared the uncle's horse and he cried to his nephew 
for help. This Abdur Rahman refused ; he could not, he 
said, come between two Kings. Nor would he help until 
his uncle promised to give him one of his two swords. 
Then he quieted the animals. The " King" was a sub- 
ject of much mirth to Abdur Rahman: "King of the 
Devils " he calls him, and curses him for leading them 
the wrong way among thieves. 

Shah Jahan was still to the fore in 1879. He was a 
holy man and a reputed worker of miracles. He gathered 
together a large body of tribesmen and attacked Sande- 
man, who was with the advance party of Biddulph's 
force. The tribesmen were defeated in a sharp fight and 
sued for peace. At one place the advance was delayed 
by a single tribesman, who, behind a stone barricade, 
defied the whole force. He was entangled in shawls 
thrown over him by friendlies, and made prisoner. On 
the next day the hillmen collected in another defile and 
refused to give way. The prisoner broke loose ; and 
shouting to them, " Who are you to dare to fight when I 
have surrendered ! " he dispersed them. 

1 " Life of Abdur Rahman, Amir of Afghanistan." Murray, 1900. 


On May 26, 1879, the peace treaty of Gandamak 
between ourselves and Amir Yakub Khan was signed. 
This ceded to us Pishfn, Sibi, and other Afghan places 
in Baluchistan. An uncle of the Amir was sent to 
Kandahar as Governor, and our troops were ordered to 
withdraw. Sandeman was busy taking over the ceded 
districts, when an outbreak of cholera swept over Quetta. 
Mrs. Bruce, the only lady there during the first three years 
of our occupation, was attacked. Sandeman at once 
took her children into the Residency, where several of his 
servants died of the disease ; but Mrs. Bruce herself 
recovered after a very dangerous illness. In July, 1879, 
appeared the Honours Gazette for services rendered in 
the war. Sandeman became a K. C.S.I. "No decora- 
tion," says Dr. Thornton, his biographer, " was ever better 

The work and strain had told heavily on Sir Robert, 
who suffered from insomnia and greatly needed rest. 
But it was no time for rest. The boundary with Kan- 
dahar had to be fixed that summer. On September 5, 
when the tents had been struck in Kandahar, and the 
division had started on its march back to Quetta, came 
the grave news of the massacre at Kabul of our envoy, 
Sir Louis Cavagnari, and his entire staff and escort. 

Kandahar was at once occupied again. Sandeman 
left for the Afghan border to reassure the tribes, and help 
to keep open communications. On the Peshawar side 
General Roberts reached Kabul, after severe fighting, on 
October 12. The Amir Yakub Khan abdicated and was 
sent to India. In December there was heavy fighting 
round Kabul, and a general rising : but Roberts held his 
ground. At Kandahar things were quiet. Below Quetta 
the railway was pushed on as fast as possible from 
Sukkur to the foot of the Bolan. It was open for traffic 
up to Sibi by January, 1880. One of the stations in the 
Sind desert is still called "Jhutput," which means 
" Hurry". The engineers had to find a name for it and 


could think of none better. It was arranged that the line 
should be taken on through the mountains, not by the 
Bolan but by the Harnai valley. This lies in Murree and 
Pathan tribal country. Great numbers of labourers were 
employed, and it was not easy to protect them. The 
Pathans ambushed and shot down Captain Showers, of 
the Baluch guides, and defied Sandeman. He at once 
attacked them with a small escort, drove them from the 
hills and blew up their towers. He was conspicuous in 
the fight in white clothes : and his sun-hat was pierced 
by a bullet, as he stooped down to help his orderly who 
had fallen wounded. In the spring of 1880, an indepen- 
dent ruler of Kandahar was recognised. Stewart's force 
was relieved by a division under General Primrose, and 
marched to Kabul ; where it arrived at the end of April. 
On the way Stewart had fought and won two fierce battles 
before Ghazni. 

In England a general election took place at this time 
(March, 1880), and on April 28, Lord Beaconsfield's 
Government was replaced by Mr. Gladstone's. As the 
Afghan War had been denounced by the new Prime 
Minister, Lord Lytton resigned the Viceroyalty; and 
his successor, the Marquis of Ripon, reached India on 
June 8. The policy of cutting off Kandahar from 
Afghanistan was abandoned. Abdur Rahman, a member 
of the ruling house, who now had returned to his country 
after twelve years of exile in Russian Turkestan, was re- 
garded with favour as a likely successor to the vacant 
throne of Afghanistan. 

At the same time rumour had long been busy regard- 
ing the plans and movements of Ayub Khan, Yakub's 
younger brother, who had fled to Herat on his father's 
death. No importance was attached to these stories at 
Kandahar ; but Sandeman, at Quetta, is said to have 
warned the Government that there was danger from 
Ayub. The warning, if given, was not heeded, and in 
June it was known that Ayub was marching on Kanda- 


har in force. The Kandahar Governor sent troops to 
drive him back. They were mistrusted, and a British 
brigade was sent with them. On July 13 they mutinied, 
and moved off to join the enemy. The British brigade 
attacked and dispersed them, and then marched to 
Maiwand to intercept Ayub. It was attacked on July 27, 
by Ayub's force, which was largely swollen by fanatics 
and tribesmen. The brigade gave way, and the battle 
of Maiwand ended in a disastrous defeat in which we lost, 
in killed and missing, over 1200 officers and men. 
The news reached Quetta on the morning of July 28. 
By August 8, Ayub had invested Kandahar. 

At this crisis Sandeman's resource and counsel were 
most helpful. General Phayre, his old comrade of 
Jacobabad days, was now commanding in Quetta. Jointly 
they pressed for an immediate concentration on Pishin of 
all troops that could be spared. This involved the aban- 
donment of the great railway works and the posts on the 
new road to India. It was done at once, and Phayre's 
column started to relieve Kandahar. On August 9, 
Sir Frederick Roberts also started for Kandahar from 
Kabul, on the long and difficult march of 313 miles 
which is famous in our history. He reached Kandahar 
on August 31, and on the following day completely routed 
Ayub. Abdur Rahman had been recognised already as 
Amir of Afghanistan. The war was now over. 

While these events were happening, Sandeman was 
tireless in his activities. He defeated Ayub's attempts 
to intrigue with Kalat, and both the Khan and the chiefs 
remained thoroughly loyal. The heavy demand for 
transport and supplies to serve our armies at Kandahar 
was largely borne by Baluchistan. Sandeman was the 
inspiring genius. Twenty thousand camels were col- 
lected, hired, and worked in relays over the long road 
from rail-head to Kandahar. No such transport had 
been got together and paid for in the country before. 
Sandeman was everywhere conspicuous, encouraging, 



threatening, persuading, and settling with the chiefs 
and camel owners. His work was on the simple lines 
of prompt, just payment ; and he carried it through. 
The tribesmen along the railway alignment gave trouble. 
The Murrees could not keep their hands from a weakly 
guarded treasure convoy, which they fiercely attacked 
and plundered. The Pathan tribesmen, too, broke out. 
Shah Jahan of Zhob, with a large gathering, attacked 
one of our posts, but he was beaten off. The Murrees 
were severely punished when Roberts' force returned to 
India through Quetta. The railway alignment was 
again guarded, and the military road to the plains once 
more taken in hand. 

The Afghan frontier was now quiet, and a breathing 
time began. Baluchistan had come well through the 
long crisis. The Chronicler observes that, " had not 
Sir Robert Sandeman already spread the influence of 
the British power, the people would have deserted the 
country on seeing such a large number of troops pass 
through it ; and the troops would have been put to great 
inconvenience and trouble ". He is right. In January, 
1 88 1, the Home Government decided to abandon Kan- 
dahar ; and the troops were withdrawn in April. On 
this question of large policy Sandeman's opinion was 
clear. "The new Amir of Afghanistan, whoever he 
may be," he wrote, " can never be our friend as long as 
the most valuable part of the Afghan kingdom is in 
our possession." In the spring of 1881, he left for 
England on his first long holiday since he landed in 
India twenty-five years before. The Khan of Kalat's 
farewell letter to him ends : "I pray you to think of the 
sincere friend who is ever with you, like a second kernel 
in one almond ". 



Sir Robert returned to India at the close of 1882. 
He had married again while on furlough, and the union 
was a most happy one. Lady Sandeman came out 
with him to see, in a wild, strange country, a wonderful 
welcome given to her husband. Horsemen dashed 
ahead and signalled his coming as he marched through 
the Bolan : great and small rejoiced as one man. He 
had not been idle in England. In the settlement with 
Afghanistan the proposal to cede Pishin and Sibi had 
been entertained favourably by the British Government. 
Sandeman would have none of it. He knew how 
slender was the Afghan claim to these places, and their 
importance to Baluchistan, of which they formed an in- 
tegral part He urged his views strongly in every way 
open to him. Sir Charles Dilke (who was then at the 
Foreign Office) is believed to have adopted them and 
pressed them on the Cabinet. In the end the districts 
were retained. 

Sandeman was now free to resume the task of estab- 
lishing order throughout Baluchistan. There still re- 
mained great areas where peace was unknown, life cheap, 
the land untilled, and the people backward and impover- 
ished. Hitherto the strain of the war had kept him 
busy at Quetta — now a great place of arms — and in 
northern Baluchistan, where the work which he had done 
was bearing fruit. In the winter of 1883, therefore, he 
went south to visit the lowland country, where many 



disputes were composed. He then passed on to Kharan, 
the desert stronghold of a chief whose name was very- 
famous on the Persian border. Azad Khan of Kharan 
— the chief in question — was then ninety-seven years 
old. Bowed with age, he could still, once assisted into 
the saddle, sit his horse and ride with the endurance of 
a much younger man. He could look back on a long 
career of border forays and strife. He claimed Persian 
rather than Baluch descent : though his house and that 
of the Khan of Kalat were connected by marriage. He 
had fought against us in 1839, and again in 1856. He 
had joined the Brahui chiefs in their rebellion in 1 871 ; 
and in 1876 he had raided the Persian border. He was 
now at feud with the Khan of Kalat and the lowland 
chiefs on the Mekran side, one of whom his son had 
lately attacked and slain. He was no party to the 
Mastung settlement. However, he trusted Sir Robert, 
and knew, as all the country knew, what had been done 
in northern Baluchistan. Hence the aged chief received 
the British Resident and his cortege with every mark of 
favour, welcoming the prospect of peace at last. His 
disputes and feuds were enquired into and settled, and 
Kharan joined the Baluch confederacy. No British 
official had visited this region before, and the " Kharan 
conciliation " was one of the most striking of Sandeman's 
minor triumphs. Azad Khan died in 1886 in his 101st 
year. His son, Sir Nauroz Khan, who succeeded him, 
died not long ago. There were no further troubles in 
Kharan in Sandeman's time. From there he passed on 
into Mekran, composing quarrels as he marched along, 
much grieved by the misery which he found there. u A 
life," says the Chronicler, " would there be sacrificed for 
a piece of cloth worth a few pence." Having reached 
the coast, Sandeman took ship for Karachi, and returned 
to Quetta early in 1 884. 

In the spring he marched east to the other end of his 
vast charge. Shah Jahan of Zhob could not look on 


idly while a new road, with military posts, was being 
built on the outskirts of his country. Many murderous 
attacks were made on our people. A camp of labourers 
was badly cut up, and seven men killed. In these cir- 
cumstances a force was sent into the Zhob country in the 
autumn, which destroyed Shah Jahan's fort, dispersed his 
following and reduced the tribes to submission. 

Sandeman had also the task of transporting across the 
desert, as far as the Helmund river, the Indian section 
of the British Boundary Commission, which was to de- 
limit the Russo-Afghan border in conjunction with the 
Russian Commission. This was a matter of considerable 
difficulty. The party, which consisted of 1500 men 
and as many animals, had to be taken over 225 miles of 
desert, where a road had to be marked out with plough- 
shares, flares, and posts. 1 The number of wells that had 
to be dug was 800 ; and the party was formed into 
separate contingents which left at intervals of a day, 
so that the wells might have time to fill up again after 
they had been drained of water. These arrangements 
were carried out successfully, and the party crossed the 
desert without a hitch. In 1885, after what is called the 
Panjdeh incident, when the Russian forces on the Afghan 
border attacked and routed the Afghans, war with Russia 
seemed imminent ; and Sandeman was again called upon 
to provide transport for a large force at Quetta. An- 
other great corps of camels was collected and worked on 
his simple and most efficient method. The crisis passed, 
however, and war was avoided. 

In 1886 the special calls on Sir Robert were less ex- 
acting. He could apply himself to making roads, re- 
placing military posts by tribal levies, starting hospitals, 
and generally improving the tracts which he administered. 
The work on the railway, which had been discontinued 
after the Afghan War of 1878-80, was resumed in 1884, 

1 Sir Hugh Barnes, " Journal, Central Asian Society," Vol. VI., p. 79, 


and the line was carried through the mountains on to the 
Afghan border. The condition of the country was im- 
proved so greatly that distinguished visitors began to 
find their way to Quetta. Among them were the Duke 
and Duchess of Connaught, who stayed there in March, 

1887. On this occasion the railway bridge across the 
great Chappar rift was opened for traffic by the Duchess, 
and its name, the " Louise Margaret " bridge, commemor- 
ates the event. Later on Sir Robert was able to take a 
six months' holiday in England. 

He returned to Quetta in December, and in April, 

1888, he was called away to Las Bela, where the chief 
had died. Towards the close of this year he marched up 
the Zhob valley, where he hoped that, in his own special 
way, he could make friends of the chiefs, bring the tribes 
under control, and put an end to the constant trouble 
in that quarter. The valley was still a no-man's land, 
neither British nor Afghan. Its tribes were at feud 
among themselves and a pest to their neighbours. 

This tour was most successful. The chiefs were re- 
conciled among themselves, and Sandeman was willing 
to support their authority. They petitioned that their 
country might be taken under British protection — a step 
which Sandeman strongly pressed. He was anxious, 
not only to benefit the inhabitants, but also to gain 
friendly access to the old trade route from Afghanistan, 
that entered India through the Gumal pass. This route 
he hoped to re-open and develop. It had long been 
closed to regular and peaceful traffic by the fierce and 
rapacious Waziris, through whose mountains the caravans 
bought, or fought, their way to the old trading centre 
of Dera Ismail Khan in the Indus valley. 1 The Zhob 
valley question was decided late in the year 1889. Sir 
Robert's proposals were adopted, and he started from 

1 It is with this large and powerful group of tribesmen that our forces 
have now (1920) long been fighting in what is called the Derajat cam- 


Quetta for the valley in December, taking a considerable 
staff and escort, and his customary following of Baluch 
chiefs. When he reached the village of Apozai l he was 
met by a small group of tribesmen, unmounted, ragged 
and unkempt. Four or five young men came to Sande- 
man's horse, kissed his hand, held his stirrup, and gave 
him a letter. It was from the chief, their father, written 
on his deathbed. He welcomed Sir Robert, commended 
his family to his care, and prayed him to excuse his sons 
if they were late for the meeting, since they had stayed 
to watch their father die. Sandeman, much moved, 
passed into camp. 2 

On December 27, Sir Robert proclaimed the pro- 
tectorate of Zhob, and commenced to build the station 
at Apozai, now called Fort Sandeman after its founder. 
He remained there until the latter half of January, to 
watch the new buildings and give time for the assembly 
of the tribesmen who had been summoned from Waziri- 
stan. These came in in great numbers, bristling with 
arms ; but they were well disposed and tractable. When 
all was in train at Apozai, the mission started for the 
Gumal pass, which had not been traversed before by 
any British official, marched through it and reached the 
plains below. There was but one misadventure. A 
non-commissioned native officer of the escort, who had 
gone, against orders, some distance from camp, was 
shot. Sandeman, writing, says : " The Waziris have 
behaved in a most exemplary way : not even a petty 
theft has occurred, and we have 700 in camp, many of 
them most accomplished thieves ". At the end of Janu- 
ary the pass was declared open : tribal service was ap- 
portioned on a new and liberal scale and posts established. 
This done, Sandeman reached the rail and moved back 
to Quetta. He was attracted by the Waziris, whom he 
describes as a wild but really fine people. He adds that 

1 Sir T. Holdich, "The Indian Borderland," Chap. VIII. 

2 The family is still cared for by the Government of India. 


a little time and patience with them would give our 
Government entire control of the pass. In this he was 
over-sanguine, as subsequent events have shown. 

Even at this time the work of settlement in this 
quarter was not complete. The Shiranis, a fierce Pathan 
tribe who live in the mountain range of the Suliman and 
on the slopes of the great peak which is called the Takht, 
or throne, of Solomon, had only in part come in to 
Apozai. Two of the Zhob chiefs were "out," and had 
also not come in. These men plundered the valley and 
even attacked Apozai. It was necessary in the autumn 
of 1890 to send a military expedition to bring them into 
order. The towers of the two outlaws were blown up 
and the Shiranis reduced to submission. The force met 
with little resistance and returned to Quetta in November. 
Sir Robert was badly hurt by a fall from his horse, which 
came down with him and crushed his knee ; but there 
was no rest for him. In December, 1890, he was called 
to the distant coastal region, where disturbances had 
broken out. The work took him far inland and was 
important. He returned in February, 1891, leaving his 
assistant, Major Muir, to carry it on, and planned a 
journey to Calcutta where he was anxious to explain in 
person certain proposals which he was making regarding 
the Mekran country. But he was suddenly called back 
again. Major Muir had been attacked and wounded very 
seriously by one of the Mekran chiefs. The man was 
well known personally to Sir Robert as a thorough 
scoundrel. Muir was strolling outside his tents in the 
evening with only one attendant, when he met him. The 
chief cut down and killed the attendant, and Muir, who 
carried only a walking stick, was terribly wounded by 
sword cuts. Sir Robert reached the coast in March, and, 
having sent Major and Mrs. Muir by troopship to Bombay, 
arranged matters in Mekran and returned to Quetta. Here 
he framed his Mekran proposals. That dry, sun-baked 
border region had a great hold on him. He was most 


anxious to redress the misery which he found there, and 
to develop the country in various ways. But his health 
broke down. He was worn out by work and exposure, 
and compelled to take leave home in May. He was 
replaced at Quetta by Sir O. St. John, who died there 
in June. Sir Robert returned in November, 1 891. He 
should never have done so. But his passion for work 
was strong, and Mekran had greatly moved him. The 
call for one more tussle with his old enemies of misrule 
and misery was irresistible. Disregarding his doctor's 
urgent protests, he set his face once more to the East. 



In November Sir Robert returned with Lady Sandeman 
to Quetta. Much work awaited him and kept him there 
till Christmas. Early in January (1892) he started for 
Mekran. He sailed from Karachi with his staff on the 
1 6th; but he had arranged to visit Las Bela, where the 
chief and his son were at strife, on his way down the 
coast, and for this purpose the party disembarked at the 
little roadstead of Somniani. From this point they 
marched for Bela, which was reached on January 23. 
Heavy rain fell on the way. Sir Robert caught cold, 
but made light of it. At Bela, where he was received with 
ceremony, he was busy with work, and equal to seeing 
the illuminations of the little town. But in the evening 
he was very unwell and took to his bed. On the 24th 
Dr. Fullerton found him down with influenza. His lungs 
were affected and pleurisy set in. The camp was moved 
to higher ground, and he was carried there in a litter. 
On the 26th he was a little better. He sent for Hittu 
Ram (the " Chronicler ") and talked with him pleasantly, 
saying that he had thought yesterday that he, too, was 
departing from this world, like Sir O. St. John ; and that 
if Baluchistan treated him like Sir Oliver, no officer would 
willingly come to take charge of it. He was anxious, 
too, about the arrival in his camp of the Mekran chiefs. 
But on the next day he was in high fever. Again he 
spoke with Hittu Ram, saying: "Rai Sahib, I have 



been caught as in a net. I feel very uneasy. I cannot 
recollect having done an injustice to any one for which I 
should suffer. Mind that no one is tyrannised over." 
To Hittu Ram it then appeared that Sir Robert had be- 
come conscious of the approach of the angel of death : 
his conversation was of eternal separation. All was done 
for him that could be done, but Sir Robert sank. He 
spoke little ; but his few words were very courteous and 
kind to those about him. On the 28th he was a little 
better. He asked that prayers might be said, and was 
anxious to say good-night to his staff. But on the 29th 
he was much weaker. He spoke but little, but once or 
twice he repeated the text : "If the trumpet give forth 
an uncertain sound, who shall prepare for battle ? " It 
may be that he was thinking of his own failing strength, 
and the battle with the misery of Mekr&n, to which he 
was no longer equal. In the afternoon he fainted. 
When he recovered consciousness, he called for the chiefs 
and his native assistants, raised his hand as they drew 
near him, and heard and returned their salaams. To 
Hittu Ram he whispered — "This is our last interview. 
Give my salaams to all." They touched his hand and 
withdrew, some with tears running down their cheeks. 
He fell back on his pillow. The last words that fell from 
him were " The Baluch people ". At about seven o'clock 
Robert Sandeman passed away. 

The grief in the camp was intense. All the Sardars 
and the camp followers refused to take a morsel of food. 
On the next day great numbers of them begged that they 
might see his face once more. This was allowed ; and 
they passed through the tent where he lay, with his 
sword and decorations beside him, to make their last 
salaam to one whose love for them they knew. He was 
buried at Las Bela on February 1, on a spot where he 
had held his Durbar in 1889, when he proclaimed the 
chief. His staff and escort, the chief of Las Bela, the 
Sardars of Mekrdn and some 1000 persons in all were 


present to see him laid to rest. "Those," says the 
Chronicler, " who had witnessed the Durbar and now saw 
his burial on the same spot, were very much astonished 
and overawed to see the works of Providence — that Sir 
Robert, who was one day making a speech like a lion at 
that place in a Durbar among thousands of men, should 
now be buried there." 

The Government of India deeply deplored Sir Robert 
Sandeman's sudden and unexpected death ; and an 
official Durbar of mourning was held at Sibi. The chiefs 
and all who attended it expressed their deep sorrow, and 
determined to erect a memorial to him. Offerings came 
in freely, and the Sandeman Memorial Hall was erected 
at Quetta. It is a fine domed building, well suited to 
its purpose. Once a year the chiefs assemble there and 
decide, by the usage of the country, as Sir Robert laid 
down, the matters in dispute between the different tribes. 
This is one of the great assizes of the country. The 
other is held at Sibi in winter, in the plains below. The 
Hall has been the scene of every great Durbar held in 
Quetta. Viceroys have addressed gatherings there ; but 
the greatest has been that presided over by His Majesty 
King George, the present King-Emperor, who, when 
Prince of Wales, visited Quetta in March, 1906. The 
Princess, now the Queen-Empress, was with him and 
witnessed the Durbar from a private gallery. In his 
address the Prince recalled Sir Robert Sandeman, and 
all that he had done for Baluchistan. These words went 
straight to the hearts of those who heard them. Chiefs 
and the sons of chiefs who had worked for and loved Sir 
Robert were greatly moved. 

Nor was Sandeman forgotten in his old district of 
Dera Ghazi Khan. The faithful Baluch chiefs erected to 
him there a memorial of their own. The Las Bela chief 
built a dome over his tomb, and his resting-place there 
below the Baluch mountains is still carefully tended. 
The Khan of KaUt expressed profound grief. He was 


surprised, he said, that Sir Robert's last resting-place 
should be in Las Bela. "He should be buried," His 
Highness continued, " either in his native home or in my 
dominions. If the Las Bela chief objects, I am prepared 
to send an army and forcibly convey the body from 
his territory to Quetta." I doubt if any Mohammedan 
ruler has ever, before or since, made such a proposal. 

In my Introduction I claimed for Sir Robert a high 
and honoured place among our Empire Builders. May 
I hope that the claim has been made good ? For the 
value, political and strategical, of Baluchistan to the 
Empire I would refer the reader to the standard works 
of Sir Charles Dilke and Sir Alfred Lyall. 1 But Sande- 
man's aim was not only to secure for the British Common- 
wealth of nations a position of rightful advantage. He 
knew the importance of Baluchistan as an outpost of the 
Empire — none better. But he was moved also by the 
strong conviction that his work was for the good of the 
people of Baluchistan; and that it would give them, as 
he says in one of his letters, " a larger share of happiness 
in this glorious world of ours ". To his success in this 
respect there is a cloud of witnesses. He was not, of 
course, the first in the field. His predecessors at Kalat 
were brave and able men. But they lacked the oppor- 
tunity for which Sandeman had to struggle, and at last 
made for himself. I doubt if there is any part of India 
where our influence and authority have taken root more 
kindly and rapidly than they have done in Baluchistan 
under Sandeman. And yet he had not to deal with fertile 
plains teeming with Hindu villages, ready to submit to 
any ruler who might happen to gain power. His work 

1 " Problems of Greater Britain," by Sir Charles Dilke, Vol. II. ; 
*• British Dominion in India," by Sir A. Lyall, Chaps. XVII. to XIX. 


lay in a wide barren region inhabited by fierce peoples, 
very different from those of the Indian plains. Whether 
or not he would have been successful in dealing with 
Afghanistan must always be a matter of conjecture. At 
one time he was willing to be sent on a mission to the 
Amir. In whatever dealings he had with the Afghans 
he showed himself conciliatory and just. He favoured 
the restoration of Kandahar. He was averse from the 
piercing of the Khojak railway tunnel, which Amir 
Abdur Rahman regarded as a knife thrust in his vitals. 
With his peculiar gifts he might have done much in 
Afghanistan, and have made the story of our relations 
with that country very different. But he did not have 
the opportunity. He had hoped to carry his own 
methods of friendly conciliation further with the Waziri 
country. But the prospect ended with his death, and 
Waziristan has since remained hostile and untameable. 

Like most successful men he had critics and detractors. 
His large employment of tribal levies has been called 
extravagant, organised blackmail, and the like. The 
criticism is ill-founded. He had no police in the tracts 
which he administered or supervised. His levies did, 
and do, much Government work. They are contented 
and loyal and belong to the people. His police force 
was confined to cantonments and towns. There was no 
police oppression in Sandeman's day. Oppression of 
any sort was hateful to him; and he would have no 
alien departments playing mischief among his tribesmen. 
His own men he kept in perfect order. 

As a high official he was, probably, a mystery to 
Viceroys until they knew him. Then they recognised 
his sterling character and work. He never had the gift 
of writing clearly and expressing, in reasoned sequence, 
all that he had to say. Baluchistan, when he entered it, 
was an uncharted country, largely unknown. Sandeman 
knew its conditions, and expected them to be understood 
equally well at Calcutta. He was something of a 


stumbling-block to distant secretaries. His hand-writ- 
ing, often almost illegible, did not help matters. Hence 
his despatches were not always well received. A com- 
plaint that, instead of answering a specific question, he 
had telegraphed five pages of irrelevant matter, was 
probably justified. In these ways Sandeman was a law 
to himself. He would break every rule of correspond- 
ence, and seek the aid of any personage whom he knew 
in support of his plans, which were all in all to him. 
His tenacity was invincible. He hated red tape, and 
red tape did not always like him. In later life when he 
had troublesome telegrams from the Government of India 
("ring-tailed roarers" he used to call them), he would 
leave the framing of the answer to his assistants, after a 
talk. In work of his own choice he never grew weary. 
He loved to get to the spot and see things himself. He 
complains of some of his officers that they will not see 
that good work means ceaseless labour. There is no 
doubt that his life was shortened by toil and exposure. 
A rapid journey from Zhob to the coastal country seems, 
on paper, a small thing. In fact it meant a dozen long 
daily marches, sometimes as long as forty miles, with a 
three days' rail and steamer journey in between. Once 
in the war he rode eighty miles on each of three con- 
secutive days. 

In his dealings with the tribesmen he was quite fear- 
less. The Chronicler records that he used to travel 
freely among the Baluch and Pathans and mix with 
them. M He was in no danger of any sort with them, 
owing to his own goodwill and pure-mindedness, so much 
so that they were prepared to sacrifice their lives at his 
order." His cheery but masterful presence and address 
appealed to them. Once in his younger days he found 
that the Murrees, who had come into Jacobabad, were 
willing enough to pay their respects to the Khan ot 
Kalat there, but could not stay on longer, as they were 
without money. Sandeman had no authority at all in 


the matter, but he was very anxious that they should 
pay their respects to the Khan. So he had it whispered 
to the Murree chief that, if one of his men stole that 
night into his tent, he would find something that might 
be of use to all of them under his pillow. The man 
came. Sandeman watched the bearded Baluch lift the 
tent curtain, felt him grope for the bag of money, and 
heard him creep away with it, breathing heavily. He 
used to chuckle at the story afterwards. The visit of 
ceremony was paid ; but not many men would have 
taken such a risk. One other instance may be given. 
Once, when he was without escort in the Murree country, 
the tribesmen gathered and threatened to carry off his 
horses. Sandeman came out of his tent, faced the crowd, 
and dared them to do it. The horses remained. 

He could not, I think, be called a clever man ; nor 
was he witty or widely read. His talk abounded in old 
saws and sayings, and was full of interest when he was 
on his own ground, where there was no better travelling 
companion. Kindness and hospitality abounded in him. 
Ambition he had, but no sort of self-seeking entered into 
it. His shrewdness was remarkable : none of his plans 
when put into effect has ended in failure or fiasco. The 
punitive expeditions, which have been so often necessary 
on the northern section of the frontier, have been a very 
small feature in our Baluchistan story. Like most men 
who have done lasting work in India, he had a mission. 
His was to pacify a large wild country, and he did 
it. The Chronicler sums up his career in two pregnant 
sentences : " Sir Robert Sandeman was not a man of 
ordinary nature. He was created by God, it would 
appear, for putting in order the disturbed country of 
Baluchistan, and as soon as the country was settled God 
called him to Himself." Few of our countrymen have 
received or deserved so noble a tribute. Robert Sande- 
man did both. 




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