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MA.l()K-(Il.M.l^\l. Sir Binhon Blood, K.C.B.,
Conimaiiclin<; Malakand l""ielcl Force.
MALAKAND FIELD FORCE
AN EPISODE OF FRONTIER WAR
WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL
Lieutenant, /^th Queen's Own Hussars
" They (Frontier Wars) are but the surf that marks the edge and
the advance of the wave of civilisation. "
Lord Salisbury, Guildhall, 1892
WITH MAPS, PLANS. ETC.
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK AND BOMBAY
First printed, March, 1898.
Silver Library Edition, January, 1899.
Colonial Library Edition, March, 1898 ; Reprinted, March,
1898; November, i8g8.
IS INSCRIBED TO
Major-General Sir BINDON BLOOD, K.C.B.,
UNDER WHOSE COMMAND THE OPERATIONS THEREIN
RECORDED WERE CARRIED OUT ; BY WHOSE GENERALSHIP
THEY WERE BROUGHT TO A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION ;
AND TO WHOSE KINDNESS THE AUTHOR IS INDEBTED
FOR THE MOST VALUABLE AND FASCINATING EXPERIENCE
OF HIS LIFE.
On general grounds I deprecate prefaces.
I have always thought that if an author
cannot make friends with the reader, and
explain his objects, in two or three hundred
pages, he is not likely to do so in fifty lines.
And yet the temptation of speaking a few
words behind the scenes, as it were, is so
strong that few writers are able to resist it.
I shall not try.
While I was attached to the Malakand
Field Force I wrote a series of letters for
the London Daily Telegraph. The favour-
able manner in which these letters were
received, encouraged me to attempt a more
substantial work. This volume is the result.
The original letters have been broken up,
and I have freely availed myself of all pas-
sages, phrases, and facts, that seemed ap-
propriate. The views they contained have
not been altered, though several opinions
and expressions, which seemed mild in the
invigorating atmosphere of a camp, have
been modified, to suit the more temperate
climate of peace.
I have to thank many gallant officers for
the assistance they have given me in the
collection of material. They have all asked
me not to mention their names, but to accede
to this request would be to rob the story
of the Malakand Field Force, of all its
bravest deeds, and finest characters.
The book does not pretend to deal with
the complications of the frontier question,
nor to present a complete summary of its
phases and features. In the opening chapter
I have tried to describe the general character
of the numerous and powerful tribes of the
Indian Frontier. In the last chapter I have
attempted to apply the intelligence of a plain
man, to the vast mass of expert evidence,
which on this subject is so great, that it
baffles memory and exhausts patience. The
rest is narrative, and in it, I have only desired
to show the reader what it looked Hke.
As I have not been able to describe in the
text, all the instances of conduct and courage
which occurred, I have included in an ap-
pendix the official despatches.
The impartial critic will at least admit that
I have not insulted the British public, by
writing a party pamphlet, on a great Imperial
question. I have recorded the facts as they
occurred, and the impressions as they arose,
without attempting to make a case against
any person or any policy. Indeed, I fear that
assailing none, I may have offended all.
Neutrality may degenerate into an igno-
minious isolation. An honest and unpre-
judiced attempt to discern the truth, is my
sole defence, as the good opinion of the
reader has been throughout my chief aspira-
tion, and can be in the end my only support.
Winston S. Churchill.
Bangalore, 30//^ December, 1897.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The expediency of publishing a book on a
subject of passing interest, while the events
were fresh in the mind of the world, tempted
me to forego the opportunity of revising the
proofs, in order to avoid the long delay
involved by their transmission to India.
This tribute to the slovenly hurry of the
times has merited the severe rebukes of
literary critics and particularly of The
To these opinions I can only bow my
head. The second edition, which is now
placed before the public, has been most
thoroughly revised, and though it may not
deserve the praise, it may, I trust, escape
the censure, which has been bestowed upon
I must also record my thanks to Sir Robert
Warburton, K.C.I.E., who has kindly cor-
rected the spelling of some of the native
Winston S. Churchill.
15//^ October, 1898.
" According to the fair play of the world,
Let me have audience."
" King John," Act v., Sc. 2.
I. The Theatre of War
The Scenery— The Flora and Fauna— The People— Their
Weapons — Their Disposition — The Ambitious Pathan
—Quarrels with the British— Their Honour— A Re-
deeming Feature— The Darker Side— The Other Point
of View— The Scale of the Work— Its Scope— Its
II. The Malakand Camps
Nowshera— The Road to the Malakand— At the Top of
the Pass — The Camp — Life on the Frontier — The
Swat Valley— The Chitral Road— The Retention of
III. The Outbreak
The Causes — Prosperity — The Undercurrent— The
Means — The Miracles — Rumours of War — Prepara-
tions — The Movable Column — The Storm Bursts.
IV. The Attack on the Malakand ....
The Surprise— The Defence of the Defile— " Rattray's
Sikhs"— The Central Position— The Fight for the
Quarter Guard— Lieutenant Costello, V.C.— Repulse
of the Enemy— Casualties— Evacuation of the North
Camp— Approach of Reinforcements— The Night of
the 27th — The Serai — Lieutenant Climo's Counter
Attack— Merciful Courage— The Night of the 29th—
The Repulse of the Enemy— Casualties.
V. The Relief of Chakdara 76
The Force of Circumstances — Formation of the Malakand
Field Force — Sir Bindon Blood — Chakdara in Danger
— First Attempt to Relieve Chakdara — Arrival of the
General — His Dispositions — The Key of the Position
— The Morning of the and of August — Rout of the
Enemy— The Cavalry Pursuit— Vengeance— Chak-
dara Relieved — Casualties.
VI. The Defence of Chakdara go
The Fort— The Warning— A Gallop Home— The First
Attack — The Cavalry Dash — Continued Assaults —
The Signal Tower — Exhaustion of the Defenders —
Sepoy Prera Singh — Critical Situation — The Urgent
Appeal — The Final Attack — The Cavalry to the
Rescue — A Finish in Style — The Casualties.
VII. The Gate of Swat 107
Formation of the 3rd Brigade — The Marks of War
— Submission of the Lower Swatis — The Special
Force — The Action of Landakai — The Artillery
Preparation — The Flank Attack — Capture of the
Ridge — Pursuit — A Disastrous Incident — A Gallant
Feat of Arms — The Victoria Cross — Knights of the
Sword and Pen — Buddhist Remains — The Light of
Other Days — Buner — Return of the Troops.
VIII. The Advance Against the Mohmands . . 127
Causes of the Expedition — Summary of the Action of
Shabkadr — The Forces Employed — General Plan of
the Operations — Advance of the Malakand Field
Force — The Passage of the Panjkora — Political
Aspect of the Country.
IX. Reconnaissance 146
The Jandul Valley— The Seven Khans— Frontier
Diplomacy — Barwar — An Afghan Napoleon — Un-
practical Reflections — Under the Chenars — The Arrns
Question — Its Significance — The Utman Khel Passes
—A Virgin Valley— A Successful " Bluflf"— The
Camp at Night.
X. The March to Nawagai 163
March to Shumshuk— The First Shot— The Koh-i-Mohr
—The Rambat Pass— The Watelai Valley— Night of
the 14th of September — The Camp at Inayat Kila.
XI. The Action of the Mamund Valley, i6th Sept. . 181
The Cavalry Skirmish — The Advance on Shahi-Tangi —
The Counter Attack — Retirement down the Spur —
Repulse of the Enemy — Second Attack and Capture
of Shahi-Tangi— Darkness — The Guides to the
Rescue — The Rear-guard — The Night.
XII. At Inayat Kila
The Relief of Bilot— The Story of the Night— Rest and
Recuperation — Domodoloh — Zagai — Negotiations for
Peace — The Situation.
XIII. Nawagai 222
" The Light of Asia " — The Strategic Situation — Decision
of the General — Rival Inducements — Alarums and
Excursions — The Night Attack — The Casualties —
Dismay of the Tribes — The Mohmand Field Force —
Sir Pertab Singh — Polo as an Imperial Factor — De-
parture of the 3rd Brigade.
XIV. Back to the Mamund Valley .... 234
Dulce Domum — Reorganisation — The Peace Negotia-
tions — Renewal of Hostilities — Destruction — Some
Misconceptions — The Attack upon Agrah — The Royal
West Kent— A Soldier's Fate— The Artillery— The
Casualties — Reinforcements — Affair of 3rd October —
The loth Field Battery — The Compensations of War.
XV. The Work of the Cavalry 254
Progress of the Negotiations— Cavalry Skirmish, 6th
October — General Rdsum.^ of Cavalry Work through-
out the Campaign— The Neglect of British Cavalry —
Departure of the R. W. K.— Health of British Infantry
—Jar, 9th October—" Sniping "—A Typical Night—
Across the Panjkora.
XVI. Submission 269
Negotiations with the Mamunds — Surrender of Rifles —
The Durbar — The Political Officers — The Last of
Inayat Kila — Matashah — Submission of the Salarzais
— The Sikh and the Pathan : A Comparison — The
Return to Malakand.
XVII. Military Observations 283
Transport — Camps — Attacks — Retirements — Employ-
ment of Artillery — Signalling — The Dum-Dum Bullet
—The Military Problem— The Young Soldier— Short
Service — The Courage of the Soldier.
XVIII. AND LAST. The Riddle of the Frontier . 303
The Question — The "Forward Policy" — Its Present
Results — What might have been — Actuality — The
Responsibility — At Sea— The Course — Silver v. Steel
— Looking Backward — The End.
APPENDIX. Extracts from Official Despatches
LIST OF MAPS, ETC.
Major-General Sir Bindon Blood, K.C.B.,
Commanding Malakand Field Force . Frontispiece
1. Map of N.W. Frontier of India, showing
the Theatre of the War .... facing page i
2. Sketch of the Malakand Camps ... ,,49
3. Rough Sketch of the Cavalry Action of ist
August „ 76
4. Sketch of the Mamund Valley — with plan
of the Action of the i6th September . . ,, 192
5. Map of the Operations in Bajaur ... 232
6. Rough Sketch explaining the Attack upon
Agrah, 30th September .... 242
acLcn^ -New York ?r Bombay^.
THE STORY OF THE MALAKAND
THE THEATRE OF WAR.
The Ghilzaie chief wrote answer : " Our paths are narrow and
The sun burns fierce in the valleys, and the snow-fed streams run
So a stranger needs safe escort, and the oath of a valiant friend ".
" The Amir's Message," Sir A. Lyall.
The Scenery — The Floraand Fauna— The People — Their Weapons
— Their Disposition — The Ambitious Pathan — Quarrels with
the British — Their Honour — A Redeeming Feature — The
Darker Side— The Other Point of View— The Scale of the
Work — Its Scope — Its Objects.
All along the north and north-west frontiers of
India lie the Himalayas, the greatest disturbance of
the earth's surface that the convulsions of chaotic
periods have produced. Nearly four hundred
miles in breadth and more than sixteen hundred
in length, this mountainous region divides the
great plains of the south from those of Central
Asia, and parts as a channel separates opposing
shores, the Eastern Empire of Great Britain from
2 The Malakand Field Force.
that of Russia. The western end of this tumult
of ground is formed by the peaks of the Hindu
Kush, to the south of which is the scene of the
story these pages contain. The Himalayas are not
a line, but a great country of mountains. By one
who stands on some lofty pass or commanding point
in Dir,Swat or Bajaur, range after range is seen as the
long surges of an Atlantic swell, and in the distance
some glittering snow peak suggests a white-crested
roller, higher than the rest. The drenching rains
which fall each year have washed the soil from the
sides of the hills until they have become strangely
grooved by numberless water-courses, and the black
primeval rock is everywhere exposed. The silt and
sediment have filled the valleys which lie between,
and made their surface sandy, level and broad. Again
the rain has cut wide, deep and constantly-changing
channels through this soft deposit ; great gutters,
which are sometimes seventy feet deep and two or
three hundred yards across. These are the nul-
lahs. Usually the smaller ones are dry, and the
larger occupied only by streams ; but in the season
of the rains, abundant water pours down all, and in
a few hours the brook has become an impassable
torrent, and the river swelled into a rolling flood
which caves the banks round which it swirls, and
cuts the channel deeper year by year.
From the level plain of the valleys the hills rise
abruptly. Their steep and rugged slopes are
thickly strewn with great rocks, and covered with
coarse, rank grass. Scattered pines grow on the
higher ridges. In the water-courses the chenar,
the beautiful eastern variety of the plane tree
The Theatre of War.
of the London squares and Paris boulevards, is
occasionally found, and when found, is, for its
pleasant shade, regarded with grateful respect.
Reaching far up the sides of the hills are tiers of
narrow terraces, chiefly the work of long-forgotten
peoples, which catch the soil that the rain brings
down, and support crops of barley and maize. The
rice fields along both banks of the stream display a
broad, winding strip of vivid green, which gives the
eye its only relief from the sombre colours of the
In the spring, indeed, the valleys are brightened
by many flowers — wild tulips, peonies, crocuses and
several kinds of polyanthus ; and among the fruits
the water melon, some small grapes and mulberries
are excellent, although in their production, nature
is unaided by culture. But during the campaign,
which these pages describe, the hot sun of the
summer had burnt up all the flowers, and only a
few splendid butterflies, whose wings of blue and
green change colour in the light, like shot silk,
contrasted with the sternness of the landscape.
The valleys are nevertheless by no means barren.
The soil is fertile, the rains plentiful, and a con-
siderable proportion of ground is occupied by cul-
tivation, and amply supplies the wants of the
The streams are full of fish, both trout and mahseer.
By the banks teal, widgeon and wild duck, and in
some places, snipe, are plentiful. Chikor, a variety
of partridge, and several sorts of pheasants, are to
be obtained on the hills.
Among the wild animals of the region the hunter
4 The Malakand Field Force.
may pursue the black or brown mountain bear, an
occasional leopard, markhor, and several varieties
of wild goat, sheep and antelope. The smaller
quadrupeds include hares and red foxes, not unlike
the British breed, only with much brighter coats,
and several kinds of rats, some of which are very
curious and rare. Destitute of beauty but not
without use, the scaly ant-eater is frequently seen ;
but the most common of ail the beasts is an odious
species of large lizard, nearly three feet long, which
resembles a flabby-skinned crocodile and feeds on
carrion. Domestic fowls, goats, sheep and oxen,
with the inevitable vulture, and an occasional eagle,
complete the fauna.
Over all is a bright blue sky and powerful sun.
Such is the scenery of the theatre of war.
The inhabitants of these wild but wealthy valleys
are of many tribes, but of similar character and
condition. The abundant crops which a warm sun
and copious rains raise from a fertile soil, support a
numerous population in a state of warlike leisure.
Except at the times of sowing and of harvest, a
continual state of feud and strife prevails through-
out the land. Tribe wars with tribe. The people
of one valley fight with those of the next. To
the quarrels of communities are added the com-
bats of individuals. Khan assails khan, each sup-
ported by his retainers. Every tribesman has a
blood feud with his neighbour. Every man's hand
is against the other, and all against the stranger.
Nor are these struggles conducted with the
weapons which usually belong to the races of such
development. To the ferocity of the Zulu are
The Theatre of War.
added the craft of the Redskin and the marksman-
ship of the Boer. The world is presented with
that grim spectacle, "the strength of civilisation
without its mercy". At a thousand yards the
traveller falls wounded by the well-aimed bullet
of a breech-loading rifle. His assailant, approach-
ing, hacks him to death with the ferocity of a
South-Sea Islander. The weapons of the nine-
teenth century are in the hands of the savages, of
the Stone Age.
Every influence, every motive, that provokes the
spirit of murder among men, impels these moun-
taineers to deeds of treachery and violence. The
strong aboriginal propensity to kill, inherent in all
human beings, has in these valleys been preserved
in unexampled strength and vigour. That religion,
which above all others was founded and propagated
by the sword — the tenets and principles of which
are instinct with incentives to slaughter and which
in three continents has produced fighting breeds of
men — stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism.
The love of plunder, always a characteristic of hill
tribes, is fostered by the spectacle of opulence
and luxury which, to their eyes, the cities and
plains of the south display. A code of honour not
less punctilious than that of old Spain, is supported
by vendettas as implacable as those of Corsica.
In such a state of society, all property is held
directly by main force. Every man is a soldier.
Either he is the retainer of some khan — the man-
at-arms of some feudal baron as it were — or he is
a unit in the armed force of his village — the burgher
of mediaeval history. In such surroundings we
6 The Malakand Field Force.
may without difficulty trace the rise and fall of an
ambitious Pathan. At first he toils with zeal and
thrift as an agriculturist on that plot of ground
which his family have held since they expelled some
former owner. He accumulates in secret a sum
of money. With this he buys a rifle from some
daring thief, who has risked his life to snatch it
from a frontier guard-house. He becomes a man
to be feared. Then he builds a tower to his house
and overawes those around him in the village.
Gradually they submit to his authority. He might
now rule the village ; but he aspires still higher.
He persuades or compels his neighbours to join
him in an attack on the castle of a local khan.
The attack succeeds. The khan flies or is killed :
the castle captured. The retainers make terms
with the conqueror. The land tenure is feudal.
In return for their acres they follow their new chief
to war. Were he to treat them worse than other
khans treated their servants, they would sell their
strong arms elsewhere. He treats them well.
Others resort to him. He buys more rifles. He
conquers two or three neighbouring khans. He
has now become a power.
Many, perhaps all, states have been founded in
a similar way, and it is by such steps that civilisa-
tion painfully stumbles through her earlier stages.
But in these valleys the warlike nature of the
people and their hatred of control, arrest the
further progress of development. We have watched
a man, able, thrifty, brave, fighting his way to
power, absorbing, amalgamating, laying the founda-
tions of a more complex and interdependent state
The Theatre of War.
of society. He has so far succeeded. But his
success is now his ruin. A combination is formed
against him. The surrounding chiefs and their
adherents are assisted by the village populations.
The ambitious Pathan, oppressed by numbers, is
destroyed. The victors quarrel over the spoil, and
the story closes, as it began, in bloodshed and
The conditions of existence, that have been thus
indicated, have naturally led to the dwelling-places
of these tribes being fortified. If they are in the
valley, they are protected by towers and walls loop-
holed for musketry. If in the hollows of the hills
they are strong by their natural position. In either
case they are guarded by a hardy and martial
people, well armed, brave, and trained by constant
This state of continual tumult has produced a
habit of mind which recks little of injuries, holds
life cheap and embarks on war with careless levity,
and the tribesmen of the Afghan border afford the
spectacle of a people, who fight without passion, and
kill one another without loss of temper. Such a dis-
position, combined with an absolute lack of rever-
ence for all forms of law and authority, and a
complete assurance of equality, is the cause of
their frequent quarrels with the British power.
A trifle rouses their animosity. They make a
sudden attack on some frontier post. They are
repulsed. From their point of view the incident
is closed. There has been a fair fight in which
they have had the worst fortune. What puzzles
them is that " the Sirkar " should regard so small an
8 The Malakand Field Force.
affair in a serious light. Thus the Mohmands cross
the frontier and the action of Shabkadr is fought.
They are surprised and aggrieved that the Govern-
ment are not content with the victory, but must
needs invade their territories, and impose punish-
ment. Or again, the Mamunds, because a village
has been burnt, assail the camp of the Second
Brigade b}^ night. It is a drawn game. They are
astounded that the troops do not take it in good
They, when they fight among themselves, bear
little mahce, and the combatants not infrequently
make friends over the corpses of their comrades or
suspend operations for a festival or a horse race.
At the end of the contest cordial relations are at
once re-established. And yet so full of contradic-
tions is their character, that all this is without
prejudice to what has been written of their family
vendettas and private blood feuds. Their system
of ethics, which regards treachery and violence as
virtues rather than vices, has produced a code of
honour so strange and inconsistent, that it is in-
comprehensible to a logical mind. I have been
told that if a white man could grasp it fully, and
were to understand their mental impulses — if he
knew, when it was their honour to stand by him,
and when it was their honour to betray him ; when
they were bound to protect and when to kill him —
he might, by judging his times and opportunities,
pass safely from one end of the mountains to the
other. But a civilised European is as little able to
accomplish this, as to appreciate the feelings of
those strange creatures, which, when a drop of
The Theatre of War.
water is examined under the microscope, are revealed
amiably gobbling each other up, and being them-
selves complacently devoured.
I remark with pleasure, as an agreeable trait
in the character of the Pathans, the immunity,
dictated by a rude spirit of chivalry, which in their
ceaseless brawling, their women enjoy. Many forts
are built at some distance from any pool or spring.
When these are besieged, the women are allowed
by the assailants to carry water to the foot of the
walls by night. In the morning the defenders come
out and fetch it — of course under fire — and are en-
abled to continue their resistance. But passing
from the military to the social aspect of their lives,
the picture assumes an even darker shade, and is
unrelieved by any redeeming virtue. We see them
in their squalid, loopholed hovels, amid dirt and
ignorance, as degraded a race as any on the fringe
of humanity : fierce as the tiger, but less cleanly ;
as dangerous, not so graceful. Those simple
family virtues, which idealists usually ascribe to
primitive peoples, are conspicuously absent. Their
wives and their womankind generally, have no
position but that of animals. They are freely
bought and sold, and are not infrequently bartered
for rifles. Truth is unknown among them. A single
typical incident displays the standpoint from which
they regard an oath. In any dispute about a field
boundary, it is customary for both claimants to
walk round the boundary he claims, with a Koran
in his hand, swearing that all the time he is walking
on his own land. To meet the difficulty of a false
oath, while he is walking over his neighbour's land,
lo The Malakand Field Force.
he puts a little dust from his own field into his
shoes. As both sides are acquainted with the
trick, the dismal farce of swearing, is usually soon
abandoned, in favour of an appeal to force.
All are held in the grip of miserable superstition.
The power of the ziarat, or sacred tomb, is wonder-
ful. Sick children are carried on the backs of
buffaloes, sometimes sixty or seventy miles, to be
deposited in front of such a shrine, after which they
are carried back — if they survive the journey — in
the same way. It is painful even to think of what
the wretched child suffers in being thus jolted over
the cattle tracks. But the tribesmen consider the
treatment much more efficacious than any infidel
prescription. To go to a ziarat and put a stick
in the ground is sufficient to ensure the fulfilment
of a wish. To sit swinging a stone or coloured
glass ball, suspended by a string from a tree, and
tied there by some fakir, is a sure method of secur-
ing a fine male heir. To make a cow give good
milk, a little should be plastered on some favourite
stone near the tomb of a holy man. These are but
a few instances ; but they may suffice to reveal a
state of mental development at which civilisation
hardly knows whether to laugh or weep.
Their superstition exposes them to the rapacity
and tyranny of a numerous priesthood — " Mullahs"
Sahibzddasl' Akhundzddasl' ''Fakirs'^' — and a
host of wandering Talib-ul-ilms^v^ho correspond with
the theological students in Turkey, live free at the
expense of the people. More than this, they enjoy
a sort of " droit du seigneur'' and no man's wife or
daughter is safe from them. Of some of their
The Theatre of War.
manners and morals it is impossible to write. As
Macaulay has said of Wycherley's plays, " they are
protected against the critics as a skunk is protected
against the hunters They are " safe, because too
filthy to handle, and too noisome even to approach
Yet the life even of these barbarous people is not
without moments when the lover of the picturesque
might sympathise with their hopes and fears. In
the cool of the evening, when the sun has sunk
behind the mountains of Afghanistan, and the
valleys are filled with a delicious twilight, the
elders of the village lead the way to the chenar trees
by the water's side, and there, while the men are
cleaning their rifles, or smoking their hookas, and the
women are making rude ornaments from beads, and
cloves, and nuts, the Mullah drones the evening
prayer. Few white men have seen, and returned to
tell the tale. But we may imagine the conversation
passing from the prices of arms and cattle, the
prospects of the harvest, or the village gossip, to the
great Power, that lies to the southward, and comes
nearer year by year. Perhaps some former Sepoy,
of Beluchis or Pathans, will recount his adventures
in the bazaars of Peshawar, or tell of the white
officers he has followed and fought for in the past.
He will speak of their careless bravery and their
strange sports ; of the far-reaching power of the
Government, that never forgets to send his pension
regularly as the months pass by ; and he may even
predict to the listening circle the day when their
valleys will be involved in the comprehensive grasp
of that great machine, and judges, collectors and
commissioners shall ride to sessions at Ambeyla, or
12 The Malakand Field Force.
value the land tax on the soil of Nawagai. Then
the Mullah will raise his voice and remind them
of other days when the sons of the prophet drove
the infidel from the plains of India, and ruled at
Delhi, as wide an Empire as the Kafir holds to-
day: when the true religion strode proudly through
the earth and scorned to lie hidden and neglected
among the hills : when mighty princes ruled in
Bagdad, and all men knew that there was one God,
and Mahomet was His prophet. And the young
men hearing these things will grip their Martinis,
and pray to Allah, that one day He will bring
some Sahib — best prize of all — across their line of
sight at seven hundred yards so that, at least, they
may strike a blow for insulted and threatened Islam.
The general aspect of the country and character
of its inhabitants have thus been briefly described.
At this stage it is not necessary or desirable to
descend to detail. As the account proceeds the
reader may derive a more lively impression of the
sombre mountains, and of the peoples who dwell
beneath their shadow.
The tale that I have to tell is one of frontier
war. Neither the importance of the issues, nor the
numbers of the combatants, are on an European
scale. The fate of empires does not hang on the
result. Yet the narrative may not be without
interest, or material for reflection. In the quarrels
of civilised nations, great armies, many thousands
strong, collide. Brigades and battalions are hur-
ried forward, and come perhaps within some fire
zone, swept by concentrated batteries, or massed
musketry. Hundreds or thousands fall killed and
The Theatre of War. 13
wounded. The survivors struggle on blindly, dazed
and dumfoundered, to the nearest cover. Fresh
troops are continuously poured on from behind. At
length one side or the other gives way. In all this
tumult, this wholesale slaughter, the individual and
his feelings are utterly lost. Only the army has a
tale to tell. With events on such a scale, the hopes
and fears, the strength and weakness, of man are
alike indistinguishable. Amid the din and dust
little but destruction can be discerned. But on the
frontier, in the clear light of morning, when the
mountain side is dotted with smoke puffs, and every
ridge sparkles with bright sword blades, the specta-
tor may observe and accurately appreciate all grades
of human courage — the wild fanaticism of the
Ghazi, the composed fatalism of the Sikh, the
stubbornness of the British soldier, and the
jaunty daring of his officers. He may remark
occasions of devotion and self-sacrifice, of cool
cynicism and stern resolve. He may participate
in moments of wild enthusiasm, or of savage anger
and dismay. The skill of the general, the quality
of the troops, the eternal principles of the art of
war, will be as clearly displayed as on historic fields.
Only the scale of the statistics is reduced.
A single glass of champagne imparts a feeling of
exhilaration. The nerves are braced, the imagina-
tion is agreeably stirred, the wits become more
nimble. A bottle produces a contrary effect.
Excess causes a comatose insensibility. So it is
with war, and the quality of both is best discovered
I propose to chronicle the military operations
14 The Malakand Field Force.
of the Malakand Field Force, to trace their politi-
cal results, and to give, if possible, some picture of
the scenery and people of the Indian Highlands.
These pages may serve to record the actions of
brave and skilful men. They may throw a side-
light on the great drama of frontier war. They
may describe an episode in that ceaseless struggle
for Empire which seems to be the perpetual in-
heritance of our race. They may amuse an idle
hour. But the ambition I shall associate with
them is, that in some measure, however small, they
may stimulate that growing interest which the
Imperial Democracy of England is beginning to
take, in their great estates that lie beyond the seas.
THE MALAKAND CAMPS.
Ibam forte via sacra. — Horace.
Nowshera — The Road to the Malakand — At the Top of the Pass —
The Camp— Life on the Frontier— The Swat Valley— The
Chitral Road— The Retention of Chitral.
The town and cantonment of Nowshera was the
base from which all the operations of the Malakand
Field Force were conducted. It is situated on the
India side of the Cabul River and is six hours by
rail from Rawal Pindi. In times of peace its garrison
consists of one native cavalry regiment, one British,
and one native infantry battalion. During the war
these troops were employed at the front. The
barracks became great hospitals. The whole place
was crowded with transport and military stores ;
and only a slender force remained under the orders
of Colonel Schalch, the Base Commandant.
The road from Nowshera to the Malakand Pass
and camps is forty-seven miles long, and divided
into four stages. Usually there is an excellent
ton£^a service, and the distance is covered in about
six hours ; but while the Field Force was mobilised
so much traffic and so many officers passed up
and down the line, that the tonga ponies were
soon reduced to a terrible condition of sores and
emaciation, and could hardly drag the journey out
1 6 The Malakand Field Force.
in nine, ten, or even twelve hours. After leaving
Nowshera, and crossing the Cabul River, a stage
of fifteen miles brings the traveller to Mardan.
This place — pronounced Merddne — is the perman-
ent station of the Corps of Guides. It is shady
and agreeable, though terribly hot in the summer
months. It boasts an excellent polo ground and
a comfortable rest-house. The passer-by should
pause to see the Guides' cemetery, perhaps the only
regimental cemetery in the world. To this last rest-
ing-place under the palm trees, close to the fields
where they have played, and the barracks in which
they lived, have been borne the bodies of successive
generations of these wardens of the marches, killed
in action across the frontier line. It is a green and
pleasant spot. Nor is there any place in the world
where a soldier might lie in braver company.
After Mardan the road becomes more dusty, and
the surrounding country barren and arid.^ The
mountains are approached, and as the tonga ad-
vances their shapes and colours are more distinctly
seen. A few knolls and ridges rising from the
level plain, mark the outposts of that great array of
hills. Crossing a shallow stream — a tributary of
the Cabul River, Jalala, the second stage is reached
In peace time a small mud fort is the only indication,
but this is expanded by the proximity of war to a
considerable camp, with an entrenchment around it.
Stopping only to change ponies, for it is a forsaken
spot, the journey is resumed. The avenue of trees
on either side has ceased. The road is seen simply
^ This description applies to the autumn season. In the winter
and spring the country for a time is green and the air cold.
The Malakand Camps. 17
as a white streak stretching towards the mountains.
It is traversed in a sweltering heat and choking dust.
All around the country is red, sterile and burnt up.
In front the great wall of hills rises dark and
ominous. At length Dargai at the foot of the pass
is reached. It is another mud fort, swelled during
the operation's into an entrenched camp, and sur-
rounded by a network of barbed wire entanglement.
The Malakand Pass can now be seen — a great cleft
in the line of mountains — and far up the gorge, the
outline of the fort that guards it, is distinguishable.
The graded road winds up, with many a turn,
the long ascent from Dargai to the top of the pass.
The driver flogs the wretched, sore-backed ponies
tirelessly. At length the summit is neared. The
view is one worth stopping to look at. Behind
and below, under the haze of the heat, is the wide
expanse of open country — smooth, level, stretch-
ing away to the dim horizon. The tonga turns the
corner and enters a new world. A cooler breeze is
blowing. A single step has led from peace to war ;
from civilisation to savagery; from India to the
mountains. On all sides the landscape is wild and
rugged. Ridge succeeds ridge. Valley opens into
valley. As far as the eye can reach in every
direction are jagged peaks and spurs. The country
of the plains is left, and we have entered a strange
land, as tangled as the maze at Hampton Court,
with mountains instead of hedges. So broken and
so confused is the ground, that I despair of con-
veying a clear impression of it.
The Malakand is like a great cup, of which the
rim is broken into numerous clefts and jagged
1 8 The Malakand Field Force.
points. At the bottom of this cup is the " crater "
camp. The deepest cleft is the Malakand Pass.
The highest of the jagged points is Guides Hill, on
a spur of which the fort stands. It needs no
technical knowledge to see, that to defend such
a place, the rim of the cup must be held. But in
the Malakand, the bottom of the cup is too small
to contain the necessary garrison. The whole
position is therefore, from the military point of
view, bad and indefensible. In the revised and
improved scheme of defence, arrangements have
been made, to command the available approaches,
and to block such as cannot be commanded with
barbed wire entanglements and other obstructions ;
and by a judicious system of works much of the
rim is now held. But even now I am told by
competent judges that the place is a bad one for
defence ; that the pass could be held by the fort
alone, and that the brigade stationed there would
be safer and equally useful, if withdrawn to Dargai.
At the time this story opens the Malakand South
Camp was an impossible place to put troops in.
It was easy of access. It was cramped and com-
manded by the neighbouring heights.^
The small area of the camp on the Kotal neces-
sitated the formation of a second encampment in
the plain of Khar. This was close under the North
outer edge of the cup. It was called for political
reasons North Malakand. As a military position
1 Under the arrangements which have been made since the war,
the Malakand position and the works at Chakdara and Dargai will
be held by two battalions and some details. These will be sup-
ported by a flying column, the exact location and composition of
which are as yet undetermined.
The Malakand Camps. 19
it, also, was radically bad. It was everywhere
commanded, and surrounded by ravines and
nullahs, which made it easy for an enemy to get in,
and difficult for troops to get out. It was, of
course, of no strategic value, and was merely used
as a habitation for the troops intended to hold
Malakand, for whom there was no room in the
crater and fort. The north camp has now been
Nobody, however — least of all those who se-
lected the site — would seem to have contemplated
the possibility of an attack. Indeed the whole sit-
uation was regarded as purely temporary. The
vacillation, caused by the change of parties and
policies in England, led to the Malakand garrison,
remaining for two years in a position, which could
not be well defended either on paper or in reality.
At first, after the Chitral campaign of 1895, it was
thought that the retention of the brigade in this
advanced post, was only a matter of a few weeks.
But as the months passed by the camp began, in
spite of the uncertainty, to assume an appearance
of permanency. The officers built themselves huts
and mess rooms. A good polo ground was dis-
covered near Khar, and under careful management
rapidly improved. A race-course was projected.
Many officers who were married brought their
wives and families, to the camp among the moun-
tains, and the whole place was rapidly becoming a
regular cantonment. No cases of Ghazi outrage
broke the tranquillity. The revolvers, which all
persons leaving camp were by regulations obliged
to take, were either unloaded or carried by a native
20 The Malakand Field Force.
groom. Shooting parties were organised to the
hills. A well-contested polo tournament was held
in Christmas week. Distinguished travellers — even
a member of Parliament — visited this outpost of
empire, and observed with interest the swiftness
and ease with which the Anglo-Saxon adapts
every situation to his sports and habits.
At the same time the station of the Malakand
Brigade was far from being a comfortable one. For
two years they lived under canvas or in rude huts.
They were exposed to extremes of climate. They
were without punkahs or ice in the hot weather.
They were nearly fifty miles from the railway, and
in respect of companionship and amusements were
thrown entirely on their own resources. When the
British cavalry officer succeeds, in spite of official
opposition, expense and discouragement, in getting
on service across the frontier, he is apt to look
with envious eyes at the officers of the Frontier
Force, who are taken as a matter of course and
compelled to do by command, what he would
solicit as a favour. But he must remember that
this is their compensation for long months of dis-
comfort and monotony in lonely and out-of-the-
way stations, and for undergoing hardships which,
though honourable and welcome in the face of the
enemy, become obnoxious in times of peace.
After crossing the Malakand Pass the first turn-
ing to the right leads to the Swat Valley. The
traveller is now within the mountains. In every
direction the view is restricted or terminated by
walls of rock. The valley itself is broad, level and
fertile. The river flows swiftly through the middle.
The Malakand Camps. 21
On either side of it, is a broad strip of rice fields.
Other crops occupy the drier ground. Numerous
villages, some of which contain large populations,
are scattered about. It is a beautiful scene. The cool
breezes of the mountains temper the heat of the sun.
The abundant rains preserve the verdure of the earth.
In ancient times this region was the seat of a
Buddhistic kingdom, and was known as Woo-
Chang or " Udyana," which means " the Park," and
proclaims the appreciation, which its former pos-
sessors had of their pleasant valley. " The people,"
says the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hien, who visited the
country in the fifth century, " all use the language
of Central India, ' Central India ' being what we
should call the ' Middle Kingdom '. The food and
clothes of the common people are the same as in
that Central Kingdom. The law of Buddha is very
flourishing in Woo-Chang." "The Park," which
includes all the country on both banks of the Swat
River — then called the Subhavastu — but which
perhaps applies more particularly to the upper end
of the valley, was famous for its forests, flowers and
fruit. But though the valley retains much of its
beauty, its forests have been destroyed by the im-
providence, and its flowers and fruit have declined
through the ignorance, of the fierce conquerors into
whose hands it fell.
The reputation which its present inhabitants
enjoy is evil. Their treacherous character has dis-
tinguished them even among peoples notoriously
faithless and cruel. Among Pathans it is a
common saying : " Swat is heaven, but the Swatis
are hell-fiends ". For many years they had lain
22 The Malakand Field Force.
under the stigma of cowardice, and were despised
as well as distrusted by the tribes of the border ;
but their conduct in the recent fighting has cleared
them at least from this imputation.
Several minor chieftains now divide authority in
the Swat Valley, but till 1870 it was governed by
a single ruler. The i\hkund of Swat was by origin
a cowherd, an office considered most honourable in
India. The cow is a sacred beast. His service is
acceptable to the Gods and men. Princes glory in
the name — though they do not usually carry their
enthusiasm further. " Guicowar" translated literally
means " cowherd From such employment the
future Ahkund received his inspiration. He sat
for many years by the banks of the Indus, and
meditated. Thus he became a saint. The longer
his riparian reflections were continued, the greater
his sanctity became. The fame of his holiness
spread throughout all the region. The Swatis be-
sought him to come and live in their valley. After
dignified and diplomatic reluctance, he consented
to exchange the banks of the Indus, for those of the
Swat. For some years, he lived in the green valley,
and enjoyed the reverence of its people. At the time
of the great mutiny. Said Akbar, the King ol Swat,
died, and the saint succeeded to the temporal as well
as the spiritual authority. In 1863 he preached the
JehaddLgddn^t the British, and headed the Sw^atis and
Bunerwals in the Ambeyla campaign. The powder
which the Sirkar so extravagantly displayed to bring
the war to an end, evidently impressed the old man,
for at its close he made friends with the Government
and received from them many tokens of respect.
The Malakand Camps. 23
Before he died in 1870, he summoned his people
around him and declared to them that one day
their valley would be the scene of a struggle be-
tween the Russians and the British. When that
came to pass he charged them to fight on our side.
The saying is firmly fixed in the hearts of the
tribesmen, and is associated with the memory of
their famous priest, known to English minds chiefly
through the medium of the " Bab Ballads
His two sons are dead, but his two grandsons,^
both quite young, live on in the valley, and are the
owners of the Ahkund's freeholds, which are in
every section of the Swat country. They have
very little political influence ; but their persons and
property are respected by the people and by the
British for the sake of their grandfather, who sleeps
in an odour of sanctity at Saidu, near Mingaora.
From the Malakand the signal tower of Chak-
dara can be seen eight miles away to the eastward.
Thither the broad graded road runs like a ribbon
across the plain. Seven miles from the Kotal Camp,
it crosses the Amandara Pass, a gap in a consider-
able underfeature, which juts from the southern
mountains. After this it turns more to the north
and leads to the fortified bridge across the river.
I invite the reader to remark this road, for it is
historic. It is not only the route by which the
Malakand Field Force was able to advance, but it
is the very reason of their existence. Without this
road there would have been no Malakand Camps,
no fighting, no Malakand Field Force, no story.
It is the road to Chitral.
^ The Mianguls of Swat.
24 The Malakand Field Force.
Here then, at once, the whole vast question of
frontier policy is raised. We hold the Malakand
Pass to keep the Chitral road open. We keep the
Chitral road open because we have retained Chitral.
We retain Chitral in accordance with the " Forward
Policy ". I am thus confronted at the very outset
of this book, which was intended to be devoted
chiefly to the narration of military events and small
incidents, with that wide political question, on which
the keenest intellects in England are in doubt, and
the most valuable expert evidence in India is divided.
The reader must not think me pusillanimous or
weak if I postpone the discussion of so great and
controversial a matter till a later chapter, when I
may perhaps enjoy a larger measure of his sym-
pathy and agreement. After the story has been
told, it may be not inappropriate to point the moral.
Prudence encourages procrastination. But while
the consideration of the advisability of the retention
of Chitral m.ay be deferred, a description of the means
is convenient, if not necessar}^, to the present chapter.
Xowshera is the railway base of the road. Thence
we have followed it toMardan and across the frontier.
Here the new and disputed portion begins. Passing
at first through the Lower Ranizai country, it climbs
the Malakand Pass, descends into the valley beyond
and runs thence through Upper Ranizai territory
and Lower Swat to Chakdara. Here it crosses the
Swat River by the fine suspension bridge which the
fort guards. The three spans of this bridge are
together nearly 1500 feet long. It was constructed
in 1895, during the operations, in about six weeks,
and is a very remarkable piece of military engineer-
The Malakand Camps. 25
ing. Beyond the Swat the road runs through the
territories of the Khan of Dir, north and east to
Sadu, an obscure village thirty-five miles from
Malakand. This marks the end of the first section,
and further than this wheeled traffic cannot go.
The road, now become a camel track, winds along
the left bank of the Panjkora River to within five
miles of Dir, where it crosses to the right bank by
another suspension bridge. Thence it continues to
the junction of the Dir stream, along which it finds
its way to Dir itself, some fifty miles from Sadu.
Beyond Dir camels cannot proceed, and here begins
the third section — a path practicable only for mules,
and about sixty miles long. From Dir the road is
a triumph of engineering. In many places it is
carried on wooden galleries perched on the faces of
steep and tremendous cliffs, and at others it works
round spurs by astounding zig-zags, or is scarped
from the mountain side. At the end of the road is
Fort Chitral \yith a garrison of two battalions, one
company of sappers, and two mountain guns.
The road is maintained and protected by the
tribes through whose territories it passes ; but the
two principal points where it might be closed are
held by Imperial garrisons. The Malakand Fort
guards the passage of the mountains. Chakdara
holds the bridge across the river. The rest is left
to the tribal levies. The Ranizai tribe receive an
annual subsidy from the Indian Government of
30,000 rupees, out of which they maintain 200
irregulars armed with sniders, and irreverently
called by the British officers, " Catch-'em-alive-Os
These drive away marauders and discourage out-
26 The Malakand Field Force.
rage and murder. The Khan of Dir, through whose
territory the road runs for seventy-three miles, also
receives a subsidy from Government of 60,000
rupees, in consideration of which he provides 400
irregulars for its service.
Until the great rising these arrangements worked
admirably. The tribesmen interested in the main-
tenance of the route, were most reluctant to engage
in hostilities against the Government. The Lower
Ranizais, south of Malakand, abstained altogether.
The elders of the tribe collected all the arms of
their hot-headed youths, and forbade them to attack
the troops. The Upper Ranizais were nearer the
scene of the disturbance, and were induced by
superstition and fear to join the Mullah ; but very
half-heartedly. The Swatis were carried away by
fanaticism. The Khan of Dir throughout behaved
loyally, as he is entirely dependent on British
support, and his people realise the advantages of
If the road is interesting its story is more so, and
a summary of the events and causes which have led
to its construction, may also throw some light on the
political history and methods of the border tribes.
The uncertainty and insecurity of their power,
has always led petty chiefs to seek the support
of some powerful suzerain. In 1876 the Mehtar
of Chitral, Aman-ul-Mulk, was encouraged to
seek the protection, and become the vassal of our
vassal, the Maharaja of Cashmere. In accord-
ance w ith the general scheme of advance, then
already adopted by the Indian Government, a
British agency was at once established at Gilgit
The Malakand Camps. 27
on the Chitral-Cashmere frontier. Aman-ul-Mulk
was presented with a certain supply of arms and
ammunition, and an annual subsidy of 6000 rupees,
afterwards raised to 12,000 rupees. The British
thus obtained an interest in Chitral, and a point of
observation on its borders. In 1881 the agency
was withdrawn, but the influence remained, and in
1889 it was re-established with a much larger
garrison. Meanwhile Aman-ul-Mulk ruled in
Chitral, showing great respect to the wishes of the
Government, and in the enjoyment of his subsidy
and comparative peace. But in 1892 he died,
leaving many sons, all equally ferocious, ambitious
and unscrupulous. One of these, Afzal by name,
though not the eldest or acknowledged heir, had
the good fortune to be on the spot. He seized the
reins of power, and having murdered as many of
his brothers as he could catch, proclaimed himself
Mehtar, and invited the recognition of the Indian
Government. He was acknowledged chief, as he
seemed to be " a man of courage and determination,"
and his rule afforded a prospect of settled govern-
ment. Surviving brothers fled to neighbouring states.
Nizam, the eldest, came to Gilgit and appealed to
the British. He got no help. The blessing had
already been bestowed. But in November, 1892,
Sher Afzul, a brother of the late Aman, returned
by stealth to Chitral, whence fraternal affection had
driven him, and killed the new Mehtar and another
brother, both of whom were his nephews. The
wicked uncle," then ascended the throne, or its
equivalent. He was, however, opposed. The Indian
Government refused to recognise him. Nizam, at
2 8 The Malakand Field Force.
Gilgit, urged his claims, and was finally allowed
to go and try to regain his inheritance. The
moral support of 250 Cashmere rifles brought
him many adherents. He was joined by the people.
It was the landing of William of Orange on a re-
duced scale, and with Cashmere troops instead of
Dutch Guards. Twelve hundred men sent by
Sher Afzul to oppose him, deserted to his side.
The avuncular usurper, realising that it might be
dangerous to wait longer, fled to Afghanistan, as
James II. had fled to France, was received by the
ruler with hospitality, and carefully preserved as an
element of future disorder.
Nizam now became Mehtar according to his
desire. But he did not greatly enjoy his power,
and may have evolved some trite reflections on the
vanity of earthly ambition. From the first he was
poor and unpopular. With the support of the
Government of India, however, he managed to
maintain a weak, squalid rule for a space. To give
him countenance, and in accordance with the Policy,
Captain Younghusband was sent to the country
with a hundred bayonets. The Gilgit garrison was
increased by a battalion, and several posts were
established between that place and Mastuj.
Thus the Imperial forces had entered Chitral.
Their position was soon to become one of danger.
They were separated from Gilgit by many miles of
bad road, and warlike tribesmen. To move troops
from Gilgit, would always be slow and difficult.
Another route was however possible, the route I
have described — a route northwards from Peshawar
through Dir — shorter and easier, starting from
The Malakand Camps.
British territory and the railway. Towards this
line of communication the Indian Government
now looked. If British troops or agents were
to be retained in Chitral, if in other words their
recognised policy was to be continued, this
route must be opened up. They sounded the
Home Government. Lord Kimberley replied, de-
precating increase of responsibilities, of territory
and expenditure, and declining to pledge himself
to support such a scheme. At the same time he
sanctioned the temporary retention of the troops,
and the agent, in the hopes of strengthening Nizam.^
At this point Umra Khan must enter the story.
The Gilgit agency report, dated 28th April, 1890,
speaks of this chief, who was the Khan of Jandul,
but whose influence pervaded the whole of Bajaur
as "the most important man between Chitral and
Peshawar". To this powerful ruler, another of
the sons of Aman, named Amir, had fled from
the family massacre, which followed his father's
death. Umra Khan protected him and determined
to turn him to his own advantage. In May, 1894,
this youth — he was about twenty years of age —
returned to Chitral, professing to have escaped
from the hands of Umra Khan. He was kindly
received by Nizam, who seems to have been much
hampered throughout his career by his virtue. On
1st January, 1895, Amir availed himself of his
welcome, to murder his brother, and the principal
members of the Chitral Cabinet. He proclaimed
himself Mehtar and asked for recognition. The
Imperial officers, though used to frontier politics,
1 Despatch from Secretary of State, No. 34, ist Sept., 1893.
30 The Malakand Field Force.
refused to commit themselves to any arrangement
with such a villain, until the matter had been con-
sidered in India.
Umra Khan now advanced with a large force to
the head of the Chitral Valley, nominally to assist
his dear friend and ally, Amir, to consolidate his
rule, really in the hopes of extending his own
territories. But Amir, knowing Umra well, and
having won his kingdom, did not desire to share it.
Fighting ensued. The Chitralis were beaten. As
he could not make any use of Amir, Umra Khan
invited the wicked uncle to return. Sher Afzal
accepted. A bargain was struck. Sher Afzal claimed
to be made Mehtar. Umra supported his claims.
Both threatened force in the event of opposition.
But the Imperial Government rose in wrath,
•refused to have anything to do with the new
claimant, informed him that his language was
impertinent, and warned Umra Khan to leave
Chitral territory forthwith or take the consequences.
The answer was war. The scanty garrisons, and
scattered parties of British troops were attacked.
A company of the 14th Sikhs was cut to pieces.
Lieutenants Fowler and Edwards were taken
prisoners. Fort Chitral, into which the rest of the
Chitral mission and their escort had thrown them-
selves, was closely and fiercely besieged. To
rescue them was imperative. The ist Division of
the Field Army was mobilised. A force of nearly
16,000 men crossed the frontier on the ist April, from
Mardan, to advance to the relief by the shortest
route — the route through Swat and Dir — the line
of the present Chitral road. The command of the
The Malakand Camps. 31
expedition was confided to Sir Robert Low. Sir
Bindon Blood was Chief of the Staff.
So far the tale has been of the steady increase of
British influence, in accordance with an avowed
and consistent policy — primarily in Chitral, and
ultimately throughout the border tribes. One
movement has been followed by another. All have
been aimed at a common end. Now suddenly we
are confronted with an act by which the Govern-
ment of India with open eyes placed an obstacle
in the path, which they had so long pursued,
to follow which they had made so many efforts
themselves and demanded so many sacrifices from
their subjects. Perhaps from compunction, but
probably to soothe the Liberal Government, by
appearing to localise the disturbances, and disclaim-
ing any further acquisition of territory, they issued
a proclamation to " all the people of Swat and the
people of Bajaur, who do not side with Umra
Khan," in which they declared that they had " no
intention of permanently occupying any territory
through which Umra Khan's misconduct " might
" force them to pass, or of interfering with the inde-
pendence of the tribes "}
If this proclamation was intended for political
purposes in England, it, from one point of view,
succeeded most admirably, for there has been nearly
as much written about it as about all the soldiers
who have been killed and wounded in the war. It
had, however, no effect upon the tribesmen, who were
infuriated by the sight of the troops and paid no
attention to the protestations of the Government.
1 Proclamation, 14th March, 1895.
32 The Malakand Field Force.
Had they watched with care the long, steady, de-
liberate advance, which I have so briefly summarised ;
had they read the avowed and recorded determina-
tion of the Indian Administration " to extend and,
by degrees, to consolidate their influence " ^ in the
whole drainage system of the Indus, they might
have even doubted their sincerity. Instead, and
being unable to make fine distinctions, they saw
only invasion in the military movements.
They gathered accordingly, to oppose the ad-
vance of the troops. To the number of 12,000
they occupied the Malakand Pass — a tremendous
position. From this they were driven with great
slaughter on the 3rd of April, by the two leading
brigades of Sir Robert Low's force. Further
operations resulted in the passage of the Swat and
Panjkora Rivers being effected. The road to
Chitral was open. The besiegers of the fort fled,
and a small relieving force was able to push through
from Gilgit under Colonel Kelly. Umra Khan fled
to Afghanistan, and the question of future policy
came before the Government of India.
Two alternatives presented themselves : either
they must " abandon the attempt to keep up any
effective control " over Chitral, or they must put
a sufficient garrison there. In pursuance of their
recognised policy, the Council decided unanimously
that to maintain British influence in Chitral was " a
matter of first importance". In a despatch ^ to the
Home Government they set forth all their reasons,
and at the same time declared that it was impos-
^ Letter from Government of India, No. 407, 28th Februar}', 1879.
2 Despatch of Government of India, No. 240, 8th May, 1895.
The Malakand Camps. 33
sible to garrison Chitral without keeping up the
road from Peshawar, by which the Relief force had
On the 13th of June Lord Rosebery's Cabinet re-
pHed decisively, with courage if not with wisdom,
that " no military force or European agent should be
kept at Chitral, that Chitral should not be fortified,
and that no road should be made between Pesha-
war and Chitral ". By this they definitely and
finally repudiated the policy, which had been con-
sistently followed since 1876. They left Chitral to
stew in its own juice. They over-ruled the Govern-
ment of India. It was a bold and desperate attempt
to return to the old frontier line. The Indian
Government replied: "We deeply regret but loyally
accept decision," and began to gather up the
severed strings of their policy and weave another
But in the nick of time the Liberal Administra-
tion fell, and Lord Salisbury's Cabinet reversed
their decision. It is interesting, in reading the Blue
Books on Indian questions, to watch the emotions
of party principles, stirring beneath the uniform
mask of official responsibility — which the most
reckless of men are compelled to wear as soon as
they become ministers. The language, the style, the
tone of the correspondence is the same. It is always
a great people addressing, and instructing their pro-
consuls and administrators. But the influence
inclines backwards or forwards as the pendulum
of politics swings. And as the swing in 1895 was a
very great one, a proportionate impulse was given
to the policy of advance. " It seemed " to the new
34 The Malakand Field Force.
ministry " that the policy . . . continuously pur-
sued by successive Governments ought not to be
lightly abandoned unless its maintenance had be-
come clearly impossible ".^ Thus the retention of
Chitral was sanctioned,- and the road which that
retention necessitated was completed.
I approach with nervousness so great a matter
as the "Breach of Faith" question. In a book
devoted chiefly to the deeds of soldiers it seems
almost presumptuous to discuss an affair which
involves the political honour of statesmen. In
their unnecessary and gratuitous proclamation the
Government of India declared, that they had no
intention of interfering with the tribes, or of per-
manently occupying any territory, the troops might
march through ; whereas now they do interfere with
the tribesmen, aud have established garrisons at
Dargai, Malakand and Chakdara, all of which
are in the territory through which the troops
passed. But it takes two to make a bargain or
a breach of faith. The tribes took no notice of
the proclamation. They did not understand it.
They did not believe it. Where there is no faith
there can be no breach of faith. The border
peoples resisted the advance. That opposition
annulled the proclamation, and proved that it was
not credited by the tribesmen. They do not think
they have been tricked. They do not regard the
road as a " breach of faith ". What they do regard
it as, is a menace to their independence, and a pre-
lude to annexation. Nor are they wrong. Look-
ing at the road, as I have seen it, and have tried
^ Despatch, Secretary of State, No. 30, i6th Aug., 1895.
The Malakand Camps. 35
to describe it, running broad and white across the
valley ; at the soldiers moving along it ; at the
political officers extending their influence in all
directions ; at the bridge and fort of Chakdara ; and
at the growing cantonment on the Malakand Pass,
it needs no education to appreciate its significance.
Nor can any sophistry obscure it.
Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum,
The Causes — Prosperity — The Undercurrent — The Means — The
Miracles — Rumours of War — Preparations — The Movable
Column — The Storm Bursts.
The historian of great events is always oppressed
by the difficulty of tracing the silent, subtle in-
fluences, which in all communities precede and pre-
pare the way for violent outbursts and uprisings.
He may discover many causes and record them
duly, but he will always be sensible that others
have escaped him. The changing tides of public
opinion, the undercurrents of interest, partisanship
and caprice, the whirlpools of illogical sentiment or
ignorant prejudice, exert forces so complex and
numerous, that to observe and appreciate them all,
and to estimate the effect of each in raising the
storm, is a task beyond the intellect and industry of
man. The chronicler of small things lies under
even greater disabilities. He has fewer facts to
guide his judgment, nor is it as easy to read small
print as capital letters.
In an attempt to state the causes of the great tribal
upheaval of 1897, these difficulties are increased by
the fact that no European can gauge the motives
or assume the points of view of Asiatics. It is,
however, impossible to pass the question by, and
ignoring the detail, I shall endeavour to indicate
some at least of the most important and apparent
forces, which have led to the formidable combina-
tion, with which the British power in India has
The most marked incident in the " Forward
Policy " has been the retention of Chitral. The
garrisons, the road, the tribal levies have made the
tribesmen realise the proximity and the advance of
civilisation. It is possible — even probable — that
with all their love of independence, the majority of
the inhabitants of the mountains would have been
willing, until their liberties were actually curtailed,
to remain in passive submission, soothed by the
increase of material prosperity. During the two
years that the British flag had floated over Chak-
dara and the Malakand the trade of the Swat
Valley had nearly doubled. As the sun of civilisa-
tion rose above the hills, the fair flowers of com-
merce unfolded, and the streams of supply and
demand, hitherto congealed by the frost of bar-
barism, were thawed. Most of the native population
were content to bask in the genial warmth and
enjoy the new-found riches and comforts. For two
years reliefs had gone to and from Chitral with-
out a shot being fired. Not a post-bag had been
stolen, not a messenger murdered. The political
officers riding about freely among the fierce hill
men were invited to settle many disputes, which
would formerly have been left to armed force.
But a single class had viewed with quick in-
38 The Malakand Field Force.
telligence and intense hostility the approach of the
British power. The priesthood of the Afghan
border instantly recognised the full meaning of the
Chitral road. The cause of their antagonism is
not hard to discern. Contact with civilisation
assails the ignorance, and credulity, on which the
wealth and influence of the Mullah depend. A
general combination of the religious forces of
India against that civilising, educating rule, which
unconsciously saps the strength of superstition^ is
one of the dangers of the future. Here Mahom-
medanism was threatened and resisted. A vast,
but silent agitation was begun. Messengers passed
to and fro among the tribes. Whispers of war,
a holy war, were breathed to a race intensely
passionate and fanatical. Vast and mysterious
agencies, the force of which is incomprehensible
to rational minds, were employed. More astute
brains than the wild valleys of the North produce
conducted the preparations. Secret encouragement
came from the South — from India itself Actual
support and assistance was given from Cabul.
In that strange half light of ignorance and
superstition, assailed by supernatural terrors and
doubts, and lured by hopes of celestial glory, the
tribes were taught to expect prodigious events.
Something was coming. A great day for their
race and faith was at hand. Presently the moment
would arrive. They must watch and be ready.
The mountains became as full of explosives as a
magazine. Yet the spark was lacking.
At length the time came. A strange combina-
tion of circumstances operated to improve the
opportunity. The victory of the Turks over the
Greeks ; the circulation of the Amir's book on
''Jehad'' ; his assumption of the position of a
Caliph of Islam, and much indiscreet writing in
the Anglo-Indian press/ united to produce a
"boom" in Mahommedanism.
The moment was propitious ; nor was the man
wanting. What Peter the Hermit was to the
regular bishops and cardinals of the Church, the
Mad Mullah was to the ordinary priesthood of
the Afghan border. A wild enthusiast, convinced
alike of his Divine mission and miraculous powers,
preached a crusade, or Jehad, against the infidel.
The mine was fired. The flame ran along the
ground. The explosions burst forth in all direc-
tions. The reverberations have not yet died away.
Great and widespread as the preparations were,
they were not visible to the watchful diplomatic
agents who maintained the relations of the Govern-
ment with the tribesmen. So extraordinary is the
inversion of ideas and motives among these people
that it may be said that those who know them
best, know them least, and the more logical the
mind of the student the less he is able to under-
stand of the subject. In any case among those
able men who diligently collected information and
observed the state of feeling, there were none who
realised the latent forces that were being accumu-
lated on all sides. The strange treachery at Maizar
^ Articles in Anglo-Indian papers on such subjects as " The
Recrudescence of Mahommedanism " produce more effect on the
educated native mind than the most seditious frothings of the
40 The Malakand Field Force.
in June was a flash in the pan. Still no one saw
the danger. It was not until the early days of July
that it was noticed that there was a fanatical move-
ment in Upper Swat. Even then its significance
was disregarded and its importance underrated.
That a Mad Fakir had arrived was known. His
power was still a secret. It did not long remain so.
It is, thank heaven, difficult if not impossible for
the modern European to fully appreciate the force
which fanaticism exercises among an ignorant, war-
like and Oriental population. Several generations
have elapsed since the nations of the West have
drawn the sword in religious controversy, and the
evil memories of the gloomy past have soon faded
in the strong, clear light of Rationalism and human
sympathy. Indeed it is evident that Christianity,
however degraded and distorted by cruelty and in-
tolerance, must always exert a modifying influence
on men's passions, and protect them from the more
violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected
from smallpox by vaccination. But the Mahom-
medan religion increases, instead of lessening, the
fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated
by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been
subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this
form of madness. In a moment the fruits of patient
toil, the prospects of material prosperity, the fear of
death itself, are flung aside. The more emotional
Pathans are powerless to resist. All rational con-
siderations are forgotten. Seizing their weapons,
they become Ghazis — as dangerous and as sensible
as mad dogs : fit only to be treated as such. While
the more generous spirits among the tribesmen,
become convulsed in an ecstasy of religious blood-
thirstiness, poorer and more material souls, derive
additional impulses from the influence of others, the
hopes of plunder and the joy of fighting. Thus
whole nations are roused to arms. Thus the Turks
repel their enemies, the Arabs of the Soudan break
the British squares, and the rising on the Indian
frontier spreads far and wide. In each case civilisa-
tion is confronted with militant Mahommedanism.
The forces of progress clash with those of reaction.
The religion of blood and war is face to face with
that of peace. Luckily the religion of peace is
usually the better armed.
The extraordinary credulity of the people is
hardly conceivable. Had the Mad Mullah called
on them to follow him to attack Malakand and
Chakdara they would have refused. Instead he
worked miracles. He sat at his house, and all who
came to visit him, brought him a small offering of
food or money, in return for which he gave them
a little rice. As his stores were continually re-
plenished, he might claim to have fed thousands.
He asserted that he was invisible at night. Looking
into his room, they saw no one. At these things
they marvelled. Finally he declared he would
destroy the infidel. He wanted no help. No one
should share the honours. The heavens would
open and an army would descend. The more he pro-
tested he did not want them, the more exceedingly
they came. Incidentally he mentioned that they
would be invulnerable ; other agents added argu-
ments. I was shown a captured scroll, upon which
the tomb of the Ghazi — he who has killed an
42 The Malakand Field Force.
infidel — is depicted in heaven, no fewer than seven
degrees above the Caaba itself. Even after the
fighting — when the tribesmen reeled back from the
terrible army they had assailed, leaving a quarter
of their number on the field — the faith of the sur-
vivors was unshaken. Only those who had doubted
had perished, said the Mullah, and displayed a
bruise which was, he informed them, the sole effect
of a twelve-pound shrapnel shell on his sacred
I pass with relief from the tossing sea of Cause
and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact.
The rumours and reports which reached the Mala-
kand of the agitation in Upper Swat and among
the surrounding tribes were fully appreciated by
the Pathan Sepoys of the garrison. As July ad-
vanced, several commanding officers were warned
by their men, that great events were impending.
Major Deane, the political agent, watched with
great anxiety, the daily progress of the fanatical
movement. No one desires to be thought an
alarmist, least of all on the frontier where there is
always danger. At length, however, he felt com-
pelled to officially report the disquieting signs.
Warnings were then issued to the officers in charge
of the various posts, and the troops were practised
in taking up alarm stations. By the 23rd of July
all had been informed that the aspect of affairs
was threatening, and ordered to observe every pre-
caution. But to the last everybody doubted that
there would be a rising, nor did any one ima<;ine
that even should one occur, it would lead to more
than a skirmish. The natives were friendly and
respectful. The valley smiled in fertile prosperity.
It was not strange, that none could foresee the
changes a week would bring, or guess that in a few
days they would be fighting for their lives ; that
they would carry fire and sword through the peace-
ful landscape ; that the polo ground would be the
scene of a cavalry charge, or that the cheery bar-
barians among whom they had lived quietly for so
many months would become maddened and fero-
cious savages. Never was transformation scene
more complete, or more rapid.
And all the while the rumours of coming war
grew stronger and stronger. The bazaars of
India, like the London coffee-houses of the last
century, are always full of marvellous tales — the
invention of fertile brains. A single unimportant
fact is exaggerated, and distorted, till it becomes
unrecognisable. From it, a thousand wild, illogical,
and fantastic conclusions, are drawn. These again
are circulated as facts. So the game goes on. But
amid all this falsehood, and idle report, there often
lies important information. The bazaar stories not
only indicate the state of native opinion, but not
infrequently contain the germ of truth. In Eastern
lands, news travels by strange channels, and often
with unaccountable rapidity. As July advanced
the bazaar at Malakand became full of tales of the
Mad Fakir. His miracles passed from mouth to
mouth, with suitable additions.
A great day for Islam was at hand. A mighty
man had arisen to lead them. The English
would be swept away. By the time of the new-
moon, not one would remain, The Great Fakir
44 The Malakand Field Force.
had mighty armies concealed among the mountains.
When the moment came these would sally forth
— horse, foot and artillery — and destroy the
infidel. It was even stated that the Mullah had
ordered that no one should go near a certain
hill, lest the heavenly hosts should be prematurely
revealed. So ran the talk. But among all these
frothy fabrications there lay a solemn warning.
Though the British military and political officers
were compelled to take official notice of the reports
received with reference to the tribal gathering, and
to make arrangements for the safety of their posts,
they privately scouted the idea that any serious
events were impending.
On the afternoon of the 26th July the subalterns
and younger officers of the Malakand garrison pro-
ceeded to Khar to play polo. Thither also came
Lieutenant Rattray, riding over from Chakdara
fort. The game was a good one, and the tribes-
men of the neighbouring village, watched it as
usual in little groups, with a keen interest. Nothing
in their demeanour betrayed their thoughts or in-
tentions. The young soldiers saw nothing, knew
nothing, and had they known would have cared
less. There would be no rising. If there was, so
much the better. They were ready for it. The
game ended and the officers cantered back to their
camps and posts.
It was then that a strange incident occurred —
an incident eminently characteristic of the frontier
tribes. As the syces were putting the rugs and
clothing on the polo ponies, and loitering about the
ground after the game, the watching natives drew
near, and advised them to be off home at once, for
that there was going to be a fight. They knew,
these Pathans, what was coming. The wave of
fanaticism was sweeping down the valley. It would
carry them away. They were powerless to resist.
Like one who feels a fit coming on, they waited.
Nor did they care very much. When the Mad
Fakir arrived, they would fight and kill the infidels.
In the meantime there was no necessity to deprive
them of their ponies. And so with motives, partly
callous, partly sportsmanlike, and not without some
faint suspicion of chivalry, they warned the native
grooms, and these taking the hint reached the camp
Late on this same afternoon Major Deane re-
ported to Brigadier-General Meiklejohn, who com-
manded the Malakand garrison, that matters had
assumed a very grave aspect ; that a great armed
gathering had collected around the Mad Mullah's
standard, and that an attack was probable. He
advised that the Guides should be called up to
reinforce the brigade. A telegram was immediately
despatched to Mardan ordering them to march
without delay. At 8*30 Lieutenant P. Eliott-
Lockhart, who was the senior officer then with the
regiment, received the order. At 1*30 A.M. they
began their now famous march.
After sending for the Guides, the brigadier, at
about seven o'clock, interviewed his different com-
manding officers, and instructed them to be pre-
pared to turn out at any moment. Major Deane
now reported that the Mad Mullah and his
gathering were advancing down the valley, and
46 The Malakand Field Force.
recommended that the Amandara Pass, four miles
away, should be held. General Meiklejohn
accordingly issued orders for a movable column,
to be formed as follows : —
2 Cos. 31st Punjaub Infantry.
2 Guns No. 8 Mountain Battery.
I Squadron iith Bengal Lancers.
This force, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel
McRae, 45th Sikhs, was to start at midnight and
would be supported by the rest of the troops under
command of the brigadier at 3 A.M.
All preparations were swiftly made. At 9*45, a
telegram from Chakdara — which got through just
before the wire was cut — reported that large forces
of Pathans were rapidly moving towards the
camps. A quarter of an hour later a Jemadar of
the Levies galloped in with the news that, to quote
the official despatch: "The Fakir had passed
Khar and was advancing on Malakand, that neither
Levies nor people would act against him, and that
the hills to the east of the camp were covered with
As soon as the officers had returned from polo,
they found plenty of work waiting for them.
Bandsmen and boys incapable of carrying arms
had to be hurried up to the fort. Indents
had to be made out for transport, rations and
ammunition. There was much to do, and little
time to do it in. At length all was finished,
and the troops were in readiness for their early
morning start. At 9* 30 the officers sat down to
dinner, still in their polo kit, which there had
been no time to change. At lo o'clock they were
discussing the prospects of the approaching march,
and eagerly weighing the chances of a skirmish.
The more sanguine asserted that there would be a
fight — a small one it was true — but still a skirmish.
Many of those who had never been in action before
congratulated themselves on the unlooked - for
opportunity. The older and more experienced
regarded the matter in the light of a riot. They
might have to fire on the tribesmen, but Swatis
were such cowards that they would never stand up
to the troops. Still it was a chance.
Suddenly in the stillness of the night a bugle-
call sounded on the parade ground of the " crater "
camp. Every one sprang up. It was the " As-
sembly ". For a moment there was silence while
the officers seized their swords and belts and
hurriedly fastened them on. Several thinking that
it was merely the warning for the movable column
to fall in, waited to light their cigarettes. Then
from many quarters the loud explosion of musketry
burst forth, a sound which for six days and nights
was to know no intermission.
The attack on the Malakand and the great
frontier war had begun.
The noise of firing echoed among the hills. Its
echoes . are ringing still. One valley caught the
waves of sound and passed them to the next, till
the whole wide mountain region rocked with the con-
fusion of the tumult. Slender wires and long-drawn
cables carried the vibrations to the far-off countries
of the West. Distant populations on the Continent
of Europe thought that in them they detected the
48 The Malakand Field Force.
dull, discordant tones of decline and fall. Families
in English homes feared that the detonations marked
the death of those they loved — sons, brothers or
husbands. Diplomatists looked wise, economists
anxious, stupid people mysterious and knowledge-
able. All turned to have the noise stopped. But
that was a task w^hich could not be accomplished
until thousands of lives had been sacrificed and
millions of money spent.
THE ATTACK ON THE MALAKAND.
Cry " Havoc " and let slip the dogs of war.
"Julius C^sar," Act iii., Sc. i.
The Surprise— The Defence of the Defile— " Rattray's Sikhs"—
The Central Position — The Fight for the Quarter Guard —
Lieutenant Costello, V.C.^ — Repulse of the Enemy — Casualties
— Evacuation of the North Camp — Approach of Reinforce-
ments — The Night of the 27th — The Serai — Lieutenant
Climo's Counter Attack — Merciful Courage — The Night of the
2gth — The Repulse of the Enemy — Casualties.
It has long been recognised by soldiers of every
nation that, to resist a vigorous onslaught by night,
is almost the hardest task that troops can be called
upon to perform. Panics, against which few brave
men are proof, arise in a moment from such situa-
tions. Many a gallant soldier has lost his head.
Many an experienced officer has been borne down
unheeded by a crowd of fugitives. Regiments that
have marched unflinchingly to almost certain death
on the battlefield, become in an instant terrified and
In the attack on the Malakand camp, all the
elements of danger and disorder were displayed.
The surprise, the darkness, the confused and
broken nature of the ground ; the unknown
numbers of the enemy ; their merciless ferocity ;
every appalling circumstance was present. But
50 The Malakand Field Force.
there were men who were equal to the occasion.
As soon as the alarm sounded Lieutenant-Colonel
McRae of the 45th Sikhs, a holder of the Gold
Medal of the Royal Humane Society and of long
experience in Afghanistan and on the Indian
frontier, ran to the Quarter Guard, and collecting
seven or eight men, sent them under command of
Major Taylor, of the same regiment, down the
Buddhist road to try and check the enemy's ad-
vance. Hurriedly assembling another dozen men,
and leaving the Adjutant, Lieutenant Barff, with
directions to bring on more, he ran with his little
party after Taylor in the direction of the entrance
gorge of the Kotal camp. Two roads give access
to the Malakand camp, from the plain of Khar.
At one point the Buddhist road, the higher of the
two, passes through a narrow defile and turns a
sharp corner. Here, if anywhere, the enemy might
be held or at least delayed until the troops got
under arms. Overtaking Major Taylor, Colonel
McRae led the party, which then amounted to
perhaps twenty men, swiftly down the road. It
was a race on which the lives of hundreds depended.
If the enemy could turn the corner, nothing could
check their rush, and the few men who tried to
oppose them would be cut to pieces. The Sikhs
arrived first, but by a very little. As they turned
the corner they met the mass of the enemy, nearly
a thousand strong, armed chiefly with swords and
knives, creeping silently and stealthily up the gorge,
in the hope and assurance, of rushing the camp and
massacring every soul in it. The whole road was
crowded with the wild figures. McRae opened fire
The Attack on the Malakand. 51
at once. Volley after volley was poured into the
dense mass, at deadly range. At length the Sikhs
fired independently. This checked the enemy, who
shouted and yelled in fury at being thus stopped.
The small party of soldiers then fell back, pace by
pace, firing incessantly, and took up a position in
a cutting about fifty yards behind the corner.
Their flanks were protected on the left by high
rocks, and on the right by boulders and rough
ground, over which in the darkness it was im-
possible to move. The road was about five yards
wide. As fast as the tribesmen turned the corner
they were shot down. It was a strong position.
In that strait path a thousand
Might well be stopped by three.
Being thus effectively checked in their direct
advance, the tribesmen began climbing up the hill
to the left and throwing down rocks and stones on
those who barred their path. They also fired their
rifles round the corner, but as they were unable to
see the soldiers without exposing themselves, most
of their bullets went to the right.
The band of Sikhs were closely packed in the
cutting, the front rank kneeling to fire. Nearly all
were struck by stones and rocks. Major Taylor,
displaying great gallantry, was mortally wounded.
Several of the Sepoys were killed. Colonel McRae
himself was accidentally stabbed in the neck by a
bayonet and became covered with blood. But he
called upon the men to maintain the good name of
''Rattray s Sikhs'' and to hold their position till
death or till the regiment came up. And the
52 The Malakand Field Force.
soldiers replied by loudly shouting the Sikh war-
cry, and defying the enemy to advance.
After twenty minutes of desperate fighting, Lieu-
tenant Barff arrived with thirty more men. He was
only just in time. The enemy had already worked
round Colonel McRae's right, and the destruction
of the few soldiers left alive could not long have
been delayed. The reinforcement, climbing up the
hillside, drove the enemy back and protected the
flank. But the remainder of the regiment was now
at hand. Colonel McRae then fell back to a more
extended position along a ridge about fifty yards
further up the road and reinforcing Lieutenant
Barff s party, repulsed all attacks during the night.
About 2 A.M., the tribesmen, finding they could
make no progress, drew off leaving many dead.
The presence of mind, tactical knowledge and
bravery displayed in this affair are thus noticed in
the official despatches by General Meiklejohn : —
" There is no doubt that the gallant resistance
made by this small body in the gorge, against
vastly superior numbers, till the arrival of the
rest of the regiment,, saved the camp from being
rushed on that side, and I cannot speak too highly
of the behaviour of Lieutenant-Colonel McRae and
Major Taylor on this occasion
While these things were passing on the right,
the other attacks of the enemy had met with more
success. The camp was assaulted simultaneously
on the three sides. The glow of the star shells
showed that the north camp was also engaged. The
enemy had been checked on the Buddhist road, by
Colonel McRae and the 45th Sikhs, but another
The Attack on the Malakand. 53
great mass of men forced their way along the
Graded road in the centre of the position. On
the first sound of firing the inlying picquet of the
24th Punjaub Infantry doubled out to reinforce the
pickets on the road, and in the water-gorge.
They only arrived in time to find these being
driven in by overpowering numbers of the enemy.
Hundreds of fierce swordsmen swarmed into the
bazaar and into the serai^ a small enclosure which
adjoined. Sharpshooters scrambled up the sur-
rounding hills, and particularly from one ragged,
rock-strewn peak called Gibraltar, kept up a
The defence of the left and centre of the camp
was confided to the 24th Punjaub Infantry. One
company of this regiment under Lieutenant Climo,
charging across the football ground, cleared the
bazaar at the point of the bayonet. The scene
at this moment was vivid and terrible. The
bazaar was crowded with tribesmen. The soldiers
rushing forward amid loud cheers, plunged their
bayonets into their furious adversaries. The sound
of the hacking of swords, the screams of the un-
fortunate shopkeepers, the yells of the Ghazis were
plainly heard above the ceaseless roll of musketry.
The enemy now tried to force their way back into
the bazaar, but the entrance was guarded by the
> troops and held against all assaults till about I0'45.
The left flank of the company was then turned,
and the pressure became so severe that they were
withdrawn to a more interior line of defence, and
took up a position along the edge of the " Sappers'
and Miners' enclosure ". Another company held the
54 The Malakand Field Force.
approaches from the north camp. The remainder
of the regiment and No. 5 company Sappers and
Miners, were kept in readiness to reinforce any part
of the Hne.
It is necessary to record the actual movements
of the troops in detail, but I am anxious above all
things to give the reader a general idea. The
enemy had attacked in tremendous strength along
the two roads that gave access on the eastern side
to the great cup of the Malakand. On the right
road, they were checked by the brilHant movement
of Colonel McRae and the courage of his regiment.
Pouring in overwhelming force along the left road,
they had burst into the camp itself, bearing down
all opposition. The defenders, unable to hold the
extended Hne of the rim, had been driven to take
up a central position in the bottom of the cup.
This central position comprised the " Sappers' and
Miners' enclosure," the commissariat lines and the
Field Engineer Park. It was commanded on every
side by the fire from the rim. But the defenders
stood at bay, determined at all costs to hold their
ground, bad though it was.
Meanwhile the enemy rushed to the attack with
wild courage and reckless fury. Careless of life,
they charged the slender line of defence. Twice they
broke through and penetrated the enclosure. They
were met by men as bold as they. The fighting be-
came desperate. The general himself hurried from
point to point, animating the soldiers and joining in
the defence with sword and revolver. As soon as the
enemy broke into the commissariat lines they rushed
into the huts and sheds eager for plunder and victims.
The Attack on the Malakand. 55
Lieutenant Manley, the Brigade Commissariat
Officer, stuck stubbornly to his post, and with
Sergeant Harrington endeavoured to hold the hut
in which he lived. The savage tribesmen burst in
the door and crowded into the room. What
followed reads like a romance.
The officer opened fire at once with his revolver.
He was instantly cut down and hacked to pieces.
In the struggle the lamp was smashed. The room
became pitch dark. The sergeant, knocking down
his assailants, got free for a moment and stood
against the wall motionless. Having killed Manley,
the tribesmen now began to search for the sergeant,
feeling with their hands along the wall and groping
in the darkness. At last, finding no one, they
concluded he had escaped, and hurried out to look
for others. Sergeant Harrington remained in the
hut till it was retaken some hours later, and so
saved his life.
Another vigorous attack was made upon the
Quarter Guard. Lieutenant Watling, who met it
with his company of sappers, transfixed a Ghazi
with his sword, but such was the fury of the fanatic
that as he fell dead he cut at the officer and wounded
him severely. The company were driven back.
The Quarter Guard was captured, and with it the
reserve ammunition of the sappers. Lieutenant
Watling was carried in by his men, and, as soon as
he reached the dressing station, reported the loss of
this important post.
Brigadier-General Meiklejohn at once ordered a
party of the 24th to retake it from the enemy.
Few men could be spared from the line of defence.
56 The Malakand Field Force.
At length a small but devoted band collected. It
consisted of Captain Holland, Lieutenant Climo,
Lieutenant Manley, R.E., the general's orderly, a
Sepoy of the 45th Sikhs, two or three sappers and
three men of the 24th ; in all about a dozen.
The general placed himself at their head. The
officers drew their revolvers. The men were in-
structed to use the bayonet only. Then they
advanced. The ground is by nature broken and
confused to an extraordinary degree. Great rocks,
undulations and trees, rendered all movements
difficult. Frequent tents, sheds and other build-
ings increased the intricacies. Amidst such sur-
roundings were the enemy, numerous and well
armed. The twelve men charged. The tribesmen
advanced to meet them. The officers shot down
man after man with their pistols. The soldiers
bayoneted others. The enem}- drew off discom-
fited, but half the party were killed or wounded.
The orderly was shot dead. A sapper and a
havildar of the 24th were severely wounded. The
general himself was struck by a sword on the neck.
Luckily the weapon turned in his assailant's hand,
and only caused a bruise. Captain Holland was
shot through the back at close quarters by a man
concealed in a tent. The bullet, u hich caused four
wounds, grazed his spine. The party were now too
few to effect anything. The survivors halted.
Lieutenant Climo took the wounded officer back,
and collecting a dozen more men of the 24th, re-
turned to the attack. The second attempt to regain
the Quarter Guard was also unsuccessful, and the
soldiers recoiled with further loss ; but with that
The Attack on the Malakand. 57
undaunted spirit, which refuses to admit defeat they
continued their efforts, and at the third charge
dashed across the open space, bowHng over and
crushing back the enemy, and the post was re-
covered. All the ammunition had, however, been
carried off by the enemy, and as the expenditure
" of that night had already been enormous, it was a
serious loss. The commissariat lines were at length
cleared of the tribesmen, and such of the garrison
as could be spared were employed in putting up a
hasty defence across the south entrance of the en-
closure, and clearing away the cook-houses and
other shelters, which might be seized by the enemy.
The next morning no fewer than twenty-nine
corpses of tribesmen were found round the cook-
house, and in the open space over which the three
charges had taken place. This, when it is remem-
bered that perhaps twice as many had been
wounded and had crawled away, enables an esti-
mate to be formed, of the desperate nature of the
fight for the Quarter Guard.
All this time the fire from the rim into the cup
had been causing severe and continual losses. The
enemy surrounding the enclosure on three sides,
brought a cross fire to bear on its defenders, and
made frequent charges right up to the breastwork.
Bullets were flying in all directions, and there was
no question of shelter. Major Herbert, D.AA.G.,
was hit early in the night. Later on Lieutenant-
' Colonel Lamb received the dangerous wound in his
thigh, which caused his death a few days afterwards.
Many Sepoys were also killed and wounded.
The command of the 24th Punjaub Infantry de-
58 The Malakand Field Force.
volved upon a subaltern officer, Lieutenant Climo.
The regiment, however, will never be in better
At about one o'clock, during a lull in the firing,
the company, which was lining the east face of the
enclosure heard feeble cries for help. A wounded
havildar of the 24th was lying near the bazaar.
He had fallen in the first attack, shot in the
shoulder. The tribesmen, giving him two or three
deep sword cuts to finish him, had left him for dead.
He now appealed for help. The football ground
on which he lay was swept by the fire of the troops,
and overrun by the enemy's swordsmen, yet the
cry for help did not pass unheeded. Taking two
Sepoys with him. Lieutenant E. W. Costello, 24th
Punjaub Infantry, ran out into the deadly space,
and, in spite of a heavy fire, brought the wounded
soldier in safely. For this heroic action he has
since received the Victoria Cross.
As the night wore on, the attack of the enemy
became so vigorous, that the brigadier decided to
call for a reinforcement of a hundred men from the
garrison of the fort. This work stood high on a
hill, and was impregnable to an enemy unprovided
with field guns. Lieutenant Rawlins volunteered
to try and reach it with the order. Accompanied
by three orderlies, he started^ He had to make his
way through much broken ground infested by the
enemy. One man sprang at him and struck him
on the wrist with a sword, but the subaltern, firing
his revolver, shot him dead, reached the fort in
safety, and brought back the sorely-needed rein-
The Attack on the Malakand. 59
It was thought that the enemy would make a
final effort to capture the enclosure before dawn,
that being the hour which Afghan tribesmen usually
select. But they had lost heavily, and at about
3*30 A.M. began to carry away their dead and
wounded. The firing did not, however, lessen until
4' 1 5 A.M., when the sharpshooters withdrew to the
heights, and the fusillade dwindled to " sniping " at
The first night of the defence of the Malakand
camp was over. The enemy, with all the advan-
tages of surprise, position and great numbers, had
failed to overcome the slender garrison. Every-
where they had been repulsed with slaughter. But
the British losses had been severe.
Killed — Hon. Lieutenant L. Manley, Commissariat Department.
Wounded dangerously — Major W. W. Taylor, 45th Sikhs.
Wounded severely — Lieut. -Colonel J. Lamb, 24th P.L
Major L. Herbert, D.A.A.G.
Captain H. F. Holland, 24th P.L
„ ,, Lieutenant F. W. Watling, Q.O. Sappers
Of these Lieut. -Colonel Lamb and Major Taylor
died of their wounds.
As soon as the first light of morning began to
grow in the valley, two companies of the 24th
advanced and cleared the bazaar of such of the
enemy as had remained behind to plunder. The
whole place had been thoroughly ransacked, and
6o The Malakand Field Force.
everything of value destroyed or carried off. The
native manager had had a strange experience, and
one which few men would envy. He had remained
hidden in the back of a tent during the whole
night in equal danger and terror of the bullets of
the soldiers and the swords of the enemy. Hearing
the friendly voices, he emerged uninjured from his
Desultory firing was maintained by the tribes-
men all day.
While the close and desperate fighting, which
has been described, was raging in the south camp,
the north camp had not been seriously involved,
and had spent a quiet, though anxious night. On
the sound of the firing on the Kotal being heard,
four guns of No. 8 Mountain Battery were moved
over to the south-east side of the camp, and several
star shells were fired. No large body of the enemy
was however discovered. Twice during the night
the camp was approached by the tribesmen, but a
few rounds of shrapnel were sufficient to drive these
When General Meiklejohn found that the garri-
son of the north camp had not been severely
engaged, he ordered a force consisting of two guns
and the 31st Punjaub Infantry, under Major Gibbs,
covered by forty sowars of the iith Bengal
Lancers, and supported by a wing of the 24th, to
move out, reconnoitre the valley and clear it, as much
as possible, of the enemy. The column advanced
in pursuit as far as Bedford Hill. Here they came
upon a large gathering of tribesmen, and as it was
now evident that a great tribal rising had broken
The Attack on the Malakand. 6i
out, Major Gibbs was ordered to return and to
bring his stores and troops into the Kotal camp
without delay. The infantry and guns thereupon
retired and fell back on the camp, covered by the
24th Punjaub Infantry.
As this regiment was being withdrawn, a sudden
attack was made from the high ground above the
Buddhist road, and directed against the left flank
of the troops. A front was immediately shown,
and the 24th advanced to meet their assailants.
Lieutenant Climo, who commanded, detached a
company to the right, and by this turning move-
ment drove them off, inflicting some loss and
capturing a standard. This officer's skill and con-
duct in this retirement was again the subject of
commendation in despatches. The troops reached
their respective camps at about 1 1 o'clock. Mean-
while the cavalry had been ordered to push on, if
possible, to Chakdara and reinforce the garrison at
that post. The task was one of considerable
danger, but by crossing and recrossing the Swat
River, the squadron managed to cut their way
through the tribesmen and reached the fort with
slight loss. This brilliant ride will receive a fuller
description in a later chapter.
The eva<:uation of the north camp proceeded
very slowly. The troops packed up their kits with
great deliberation, and applications were made for
transport. None was, however, available. All the
camels were at Dargai, on the India side of the
mountains. Repeated orders to hurry were sent
from the Kotal. All hated leaving their belongings
behind, having no confidence in the liberality of a
62 The Malakand Field Force.
paternal Government. As the afternoon passed,
the aspect of the enemy became very threatening
and formidable. Great numbers drew near to the
camp, and the guns were compelled to fire a good
many rounds. At length, at 4 o'clock, impera-
tive orders were sent that the north camp was to
be at once abandoned, that the force there was to
march to the Kotal, and that all baggage and stores,
not yet removed, were to be left where they were.
All the tents were struck, but nothing else could
be done, and to the deep disgust of all — officers and
men — their property was left to the mercies of the
enemy. During the night it was all looted and
burnt. Many of the officers thus lost every stitch
of clothing they possessed. The flames rising from
the scene of destruction were visible far and wide,
and the tribesmen in the most distant valleys were
encouraged to hurry to complete the slaughter of
the accursed infidels.
It cannot be doubted, however, that the concen-
tration of the troops was a wise and judicious step.
The garrison of the Kotal and south camp was
insufficient, and, whatever happened, it was better
for the troops to stand or fall together. The situa-
tion was also aggravated by the appearance of
large numbers of tribesmen from the Utman Khel
country, who crowded the hills to the west of the
camp, and thus compelled the defenders to hold a
greatly extended line. The abandonment of the
north camp was carried out none too soon, for the
enemy pressed the withdrawal of the troops, and
they reached the south camp under cover of the
fire of the 24th Punjaub Infantry, and the Guides
The Attack on the Malakand. 63
Cavalry. These latter had arrived in camp at 8*30
that morning after marching all night. They found
plenty of employment.
The telegraph had carried the news of the events
of the night to all parts of the world. In England
those returning from Goodwood Races read the
first details of the fighting on the posters of the
evening papers. At Simla, the Government of
India awoke to find themselves confronted with
another heavy task. Other messages recalled all
officers to their regiments, and summoned reinforce-
ments to the scene by road and rail. In the small
hours of the 27th, the officers of the nth Bengal
Lancers at Nowshera were aroused by a frantic
telegraph operator, who was astounded by the
news his machine was clicking out. This man in
his shirt sleeves, with a wild eye, and holding an
unloaded revolver by the muzzle, ran round waking
every one. The whole country was up. The
Malakand garrison was being overwhelmed by
thousands of tribesmen. All the troops were to
march at once. He brandished copies of the wires
he had received. In a few moments official in-
structions arrived. The nth Bengal Lancers, the
38th Dogras and the 35th Sikhs started at dawn.
No. I and No. 7 British Mountain Batteries were
also ordered up. The Guides Cavalry had already
arrived. Their infantry under Lieutenant Lock-
hart reached the Kotal at 7-30 P.M. on the 27th,
having, in spite of the intense heat and choking
dust, covered thirty-two miles in seventeen and a
half hours. This wonderful feat was accomplished
without impairing the efficiency of the soldiers, who
64 The Malakand Field Force.
were sent into the picket line, and became en-
gaged as soon as they arrived. An officer who
commanded the Dargai post told me, that, as they
passed the guard there, they shouldered arms with
parade precision, as if to show that twenty-six miles
under the hottest sun in the world, would not take
the polish off the Corps of Guides. Then they
breasted the long ascent to the top of the pass, en-
couraged by the sound of the firing, which grew
louder at every step.
Help in plenty was thus approaching as fast as i
eager men could march, but meanwhile the garrison i
had to face the danger as best they could alone.
As the 31st Punjaub Infantry, who had been the :
last to leave the north camp, were arriving at the ■
. Kotal, about 1000 tribesmen descended in broad j
daylight and with the greatest boldness, and i
threatened their left flank. They drove in two <
pickets of the 24th, and pressed forward vigor- i
ously. Lieutenant Climo with two companies ;
advanced up the hill to meet them, supported by ^
the fire of two guns of the Mountain Battery. A i
bayonet charge was completely successful. The t
officers were close enough to make effective use of 1
their revolvers. Nine bodies of the enemy were
left on the ground, and a standard was captured.
The tribesmen then drew off, and the garrison pre-
pared for the attack, which they knew would come
with the dark.
As the evening drew on the enemy were observed I
assembling in ever-increasing numbers. Great }
crowds of them could be seen streaming along the ^
Chakdara road, and thickly dotting the hills with r
The Attack on the Malakand. 65
spots of white. They all wore white as yet. The
news had not reached Buner, and the sombre-clad
warriors of Ambeyla were still absent. The glare
of the flames from the north camp was soon to
summon them to the attack of their ancient enemies.
The spectacle as night fell, was strange, ominous,
but not unpicturesque. Gay banners of every
colour, shape and device, waved from the surround-
ing hills. The sunset caught the flashing of sword-
blades behind the spurs and ridges. The numerous
figures of the enemy moved busily about preparing
for the attack. A dropping fire from the sharp-
shooters added an appropriate accompaniment. In
the middle, at the bottom of the cup, was the "crater"
camp and the main enclosure with the smoke of
the evening meal rising in the air. The troops
moved to their stations, and, as the shadows grew,
the firing swelled into a loud, incessant roar.
The disposition of the troops on the night of the
27th was as follows : —
1. On the right Colonel McRae, with 45th Sikhs
and two guns supported by 100 men of the Guides
Infantry, held almost the same position astride the
Buddhist road as before.
2. In the centre the enclosure and Graded road
were defended by —
31st Punjaub Infantry.
No. 5 Company Q.O. Sappers and Miners.
3. On the left the 24th Punjaub Infantry, with the
two remaining guns under Lieutenant Climo, held
the approaches from the abandoned north camp
and the fort.
66 The Malakand Field Force.
Most of this extended line, which occupied a
great part of the rim, was formed by a chain of
pickets, detached from one another and fortified
by stone breastworks, with supports in rear. But in
the centre the old line of the " Sappers' and Miners'
enclosure" was adhered to. The bazaar was left
to the enemy, but the serai, about a hundred yards
in front of the main entrenchment, was held by a
picket of twenty-four men of the 31st Punjaub
Infantry, under Subadar Syed Ahmed Shah. Here
it was that the tragedy of the night occurred.
At eight o'clock, the tribesmen attacked in tremen-
dous force all along the line. The firing at once
became intense and continuous. The expenditure
of ammunition by the troops was very great, and
many thousands of rounds were discharged. On the
right Colonel McRae and his Sikhs were repeatedly
charged by the swordsmen, many of whom succeeded
in forcing their way into the pickets and perished by
the bayonet. Others reached the two guns and were
cut down while attacking the gunners. All assaults
were however beaten off. The tribesmen suffered ter-
rible losses. The casualties among the Sikhs were also
severe. In the morning Colonel McRae advanced
from his defences, and, covered by the fire of his two
guns, cleared the ground in his front of the enemy.
The centre was again the scene of severe fight-
ing. The tribesmen poured into the bazaar and 1
attacked the serai on all sides. This post was a
mud-walled enclosure about fifty yards square. It
was loopholed for musketry, but had no flank j
defences. The enemy made determined efforts to i
capture the place for several hours. Meanwhile, so \
The Attack on the Malakand. 67
tremendous was the fire of the troops in the main
enclosure, that the attack upon the serai was hardly
noticed. For six hours the picket there held out
against all assaults, but the absence of flank de-
I fences enabled the enemy to come close up to the
walls. They then began to make holes through
them, and to burrow underneath. The little garrison
rushed from place to place repelling these attacks.
But it was like caulking a sieve. At length the
1 tribesmen burst in from several quarters, and the
j sheds inside caught fire. When all the defenders
I except four were killed or wounded, the Subadar,
himself struck by a bullet, ordered the place to be
evacuated, and the survivors escaped by a ladder
over the back wall, carrying their wounded with
them. The bodies of the killed were found next
morning, extraordinarily mutilated.
The defence of this post to the bitter end must
be regarded as a fine feat of arms. Subadar Syed
Ahmed Shah was originally promoted to a com-
mission for an act of conspicuous bravery, and his
gallant conduct on this occasion is the subject of
a special paragraph in despatches.^
On the left, the 24th Punjaub Infantry were also
hotly engaged, and Lieutenant Costello received
his first severe w^ound from a bullet, which passed
through his back and arm. Towards morning the
enemy began to press severely. Whereupon Lieu-
tenant Climo, always inclined to bold and vigorous
action, advanced from the breastworks to meet
them with two companies. The tribesmen held
I ^ The Subadar and the surviving Sepoys have since received
j the Order of Merit ".
68 The Malakand Field Force.
their ground and maintained a continual fire from
Martini-Henry rifles. They also rolled down great
stones upon the companies. The 24th continued
to advance, and drove the enemy from point to
point, and position to position, pursuing them for a
distance of two miles. " Gallows Tree " hill, against
which the first charge of the counter attack was de-
livered, was held by nearly 1000 tribesmen. On such
crowded masses, the fire of the troops was deadly.
The enemy left forty dead in the path of Lieutenant
Climo's counter attack, and were observed carrying
off many wounded. As they retreated, many took
refuge in the village of Jalalkot. The guns were
hurried up, and ten shells were thrown into their
midst causing great slaughter. The result of this
bold stroke was, that the enemy during the rest of
the fighting invariably evacuated the hills before
daylight enabled the troops to assume the offensive.
Thus the onslaught of the tribesmen had again
been successfully repelled by the Malakand garrison.-
Many had been killed and wounded, but all the
tribes for a hundred miles around were hurrying to
the attack, and their numbers momentarily in-
creased. The following casualties occurred on the
night of the 27th : —
Wounded— Lieutenant E. W. Costello.
During the day the enemy retired to the plain of
Khar to refresh themselves. Great numbers of
Bunerwals now joined the gathering. The garrison
The Attack on the Malakand. 69
were able to distinguish these new-comers from the
Swatis, Utman Khels, Mamunds, Salarzais and
others, by the black or dark-blue clothes they wore.
The troops were employed in strengthening the
defences, and improving the shelters. The tribes-
men kept up a harassing and annoying long-range
fire, killing several horses of the Guides Cavalry.
Towards evening they advanced to renew the
attack, carrying hundreds of standards.
As darkness fell, heavy firing recommenced along
the whole front. The enemy had apparently plenty
of ammunition, and replied with effect to the heavy
fire of the troops. The arrangement of the regiments
was the same as on the previous night. On the right,
Colonel McRae once more held his own against all
attacks. In the centre, severe fighting ensued. The
enemy charged again and again up to the breastwork
of the enclosure. They did not succeed in penetrat-
ing. Three officers and several men were however
wounded by the fire. Lieutenant Maclean, of the
Guides Cavalry, who was attached temporarily to the
31st Punjaub Infantry, had a wonderful escape. A
bullet entered his mouth and passed through his
cheek without injuring the bone in any way. He con-
tinued on duty, and these pages will record his tragic
but glorious death a few weeks later at Landakai.
Lieutenant Ford was dangerously wounded in the
shoulder. The bullet cut the artery, and he was
bleeding to death when Surgeon-Lieutenant J. H.
Hugo came to his aid. The fire was too hot to
allow of lights being used. There was no cover of
any sort. It was at the bottom of the cup. Never-
theless the surgeon struck a match at the peril of
yo The Malakand Field Force.
his life and examined the wound. The match went
out amid a splutter of bullets, which kicked up the
dust all around, but by its uncertain light he saw
the nature of the injury. The officer had already
fainted from the loss of blood. The doctor seized
the artery, and, as no other ligature was forthcom-
ing, he remained under fire for three hours holding
a man's life, between his finger and thumb. When
at length it seemed that the enemy had broken
into the camp he picked up the still unconscious
officer in his arms, and, without relaxing his hold,
bore him to a place of safety. His arm was for
many hours paralysed with cramp from the effects
of the exertion of compressing the artery.
I think there are few, whatever may be their views
or interests, who will not applaud this splendid act of
devotion. The profession of medicine, and surgery,
must always rank as the most noble that men can
adopt. The spectacle of a doctor in action among
soldiers, in equal danger and with equal courage,
saving life where all others are taking it, allaying
pain where all others are causing it, is one which
must always seem glorious, whether to God or man.
It is impossible to imagine any situation from which
a human being might better leave this world, and
embark on the hazards of the Unknown.
x'^ll through the night, the enemy continued their
attacks. They often succeeded in reaching the
breastworks — only to die on the bayonets of the
defenders. The guns fired case shot, with terrible
effect, and when morning dawned the position was
still held by the Imperial Forces. The casualties
of the night were as follows ; —
The Attack on the Malakand. 71
Wounded severely — Lieutenant H. B. Ford, 31st Punjaub Infantry.
,, H. L. S. Maclean, the Guides.
Wounded slightly — Lieutenant G. Swinley, 31st Punjaub In-
On the morning of the 29th signalling communi-
cation with Chakdara, was for a few moments re-
established. The garrison of that post announced
their safety, and that all attacks had been repulsed
with heavy loss, but they reported that ammunition
and food were both running short. During the day
the enemy again retired to the plain to rest, and
prepare for the great attack, which they intended
making that night. The hour would be propitious.
It was Jumarat, on which day the prophet watches
with especial care over the interests of those who
die for the faith. Besides, the moon was full, and
had not the Great Fakir declared that this should
be the moment of victory ? The Mullah exhorted
them all to the greatest efforts, and declared that
he would himself lead the assault. To-night the
infidels would be utterly destroyed.
Meanwhile the troops were busily employed, in
spite of their terrible fatigues, in strengthening the
defences. The bazaar and the serai were levelled.
Trees were blown up, and a clear field of fire was
obtained in front of the central enclosure. Great
bonfires wei"e also prepared on the approaches,
to enable the soldiers to take good aim at their
assailants, while they were silhouetted against the
light. In such occupations the day passed.
72 The Malakand Field Force.
The tribesmen continued to fire at long range and
shot several horses and mules. These sharpshooters
enjoyed themselves immensely. After the relief of
Chakdara, it was found that many of them had
made most comfortable and effective shelters among
the rocks. One man, in particular, had ensconced
himself behind an enormous boulder, and had built
a little wall of stone, conveniently loopholed, to
protect himself when firing. The overhanging rock
sheltered him from the heat of the sun. By his
side was his food and a large box of cartridges.
Here for the whole week he had lived, steadily
dropping bullets into the camp and firing at what
an officer described as all " objects of interest ".
What could be more attractive?
At four o'clock in the afternoon Major Stuart
Beatson, commanding the nth Bengal Lancers,
arrived with his leading squadron. He brought a
small supply of ammunition, which the garrison was
in sore need of, the expenditure each night being
tremendous, some regiments firing as much as
30,000 rounds. The 35th Sikhs and 38th Dogras
under Colonel Reid arrived at Dargai, at the foot
of the pass, in the evening. They had marched all
day in the most intense heat. How terrible that
march must have been, may be judged from the
fact, that in the 35th Sikhs twenty-one men actually
died on the road of heat apoplexy. The fact that
these men marched till they dropped dead, is
another proof of the soldierly eagerness displayed
by all ranks to get to the front. Brigadier-
General Meiklejohn, feeling confidence in his ability
to hold his own with the troops he had, ordered
The Attack on the Malakand. 73
them to remain halted at Dargai, and rest the next
The attack came with the night, but the defences
in the centre had been much improved, and the
tribesmen were utterly unable to cross the cleared
glacis, which now stretched in front of the enclosure.
They, however, assailed both flanks with deter-
mination, and the firing everywhere became heavy.
At 2 A.M. the great attack was delivered. Along
the whole front and from every side enormous
numbers swarmed to the assault. On the right and
left, hand-to-hand fighting took place. Colonel
McRae again held his position, but many of the
tribesmen died under the very muzzles of the rifles.
The 24th Punjaub Infantry on the left, were the
most severely engaged. The enemy succeeded in
breaking into the breastworks, and close fighting
ensued, in which Lieutenant Costello was again
severely wounded. But the fire of the troops was
too hot for anything to live in their front. At 2 30
the Mad Mullah being wounded, another Mullah
killed and several hundreds of tribesmen slain, the
whole attack collapsed. Nor was it renewed again
with vigour. The enemy recognised that their
chance of taking the Malakand had passed.
The casualties were as follows on the night of
the 29th : —
Wounded severely — Lieutenant E. W. Costello, 24th P. I., who
had already been severely wounded, but
continued to do duty.
„ ,, Lieutenant F. A. Wynter, R.A.
■ Killed I
74 The Malakand Field Force.
All the next day the enemy could be seen
dragging the dead away, and carrying the wounded
over the hills to their villages. Reinforcements,
however, joined them, and they renewed their
attack, but without much spirit, at 9*30 P.M.
They were again repulsed with loss. Once, during
a thunderstorm that broke over the camp, they
charged the 45th Sikhs' position, and were driven
off with the bayonet. Only two men were wounded
during the night.
In the morning the 38th Dogras, and 35th Sikhs
marched into the camp. The enemy continued
firing into the entrenchments at long range, but
without effect. They had evidently realised that
the Malakand was too strong to be taken. The
troops had a quiet night, and the weary, worn-out
men got a little needed sleep. Thus the long and
persistent attack on the British frontier station of
Malakand languished and ceased. The tribesmen,
sick of the slaughter at this point, concentrated
their energies on Chakdara, which they believed
must fall into their hands. To relieve this hard-
pressed post now became the duty of the garrison
The chapter, which may now appropriately end,
has described in detail, and, necessarily, at length,
the defence of an outpost of our Empire. A
surprise, followed by a sustained attack, has been
resisted. The enemy, repulsed at every point,
have abandoned the attempt, but surround and
closely watch the defences. The troops will now
assume the offensive, and the hour of reprisals will
The Attack on the Malakand. 75
The casualties sustained by the Malakand
garrison between 26th July and ist August were
as follows : —
British Officers Killed and Died of Wounds — 3.
Lieutenant-Colonel J. Lamb, 24th Punjaub Infantry.
Major W. W. Taylor, 45th Sikhs.
Lieutenant L. Manley, Commissariat.
Wounded — 10.
Major L. Herbert, D.A.A.G.
Captain G. Baldwin, D.S.O., Guides Cavalry.
Captain H. F. Holland, 24th Punjaub Infantry.
Lieutenant F. A. Wynter, R.A.
F. W. Watling, R.E.
E. W. Costello, 24th Punjaub Infantry.
„ H. B. Ford, 31st Punjaub Infantry.
„ H. L. S. Maclean, Guides Cavalry.
2nd Lieutenant G. Swinley, 31st Punjaub Infantry.
„ C. V. Keyes, Guides Cavalry.
Native Officers Wounded — 7.
Total Officers Killed and Wounded — 20.
British Non-Commissioned Officer Killed.
Sergeant F. Byrne, R.E.
Native Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates.
No. 8 Bengal Mountain Battery - - - ... 5
nth Bengal Lancers 3
No. 5 Company Q.O. Sappers and Miners - 3 18
24th Punjaub Infantry 3 14
31st „ „ 12 32
38th Dogras i
45th Sikhs 4 28
Q.O. Corps of Guides 3 27
Total Non-Commissioned Officers and Men Killed and
Wounded — 153.
THE RELIEF OF CHAKDARA.
The Force of Circumstances — Formation of the Malakand Field
Force — Sir Bindon Blood — Chakdara in Danger — First At-
tempt to Relieve Chakdara — Arrival of the General — His
Dispositions — The Key of the Position — The Morning of the
2nd of August — Rout of the Enemy — The Cavalry Pursuit —
Vengeance — Chakdara Relieved — Casualties.
While the events described in the last chapter had
been watched with interest and attention in all
parts of the world, they were the subject of anxious
consultation in the Council of the Governor-General.
It was only natural, that the Viceroy, himself, should
view with abhorrence the prospect of military opera-
tions on a large scale, which must inevitably lead to
closer and more involved relations with the tribes
of the Afghan border. He belonged to that party
in the State which has clung passionately, vainly,
and often unwisely to a policy of peace and re-
trenchment. He was supported in his reluctance
to embark on warlike enterprises by the whole
force of the economic situation. No moment could
have been less fitting : no man more disinclined.
That Lord Elgin's Viceroyalty and the Famine
year should have been marked by the greatest
Frontier War in the history of the British Empire
in India, vividly displays how little an individual,
however earnest his motives, however great his
The Relief of Chakdara.
authority, can really control the course of public
The Council were called upon to decide on
matters, which at once raised the widest and most
intricate questions of frontier policy ; which might
involve great expense ; which might well influence
the development and progress of the great popula-
tions committed to their charge. It would be
desirable to consider such matters from the most
lofty and commanding standpoints ; to reduce
detail to its just proportions ; to examine the past,
and to peer into the future. And yet, those who
sought to look thus on the whole situation, were
immediately confronted with the picture of the
rock of Chakdara, fringed and dotted with the
v/hite smoke of musketry, encircled by thousands
of fierce assailants, its garrison fighting for their
lives, but confident they would not be deserted.
It was impossible to see further than this. All
Governments, all Rulers, meet the same difficulties.
Wide considerations of principle, of policy, of conse-
quences or of economics are brushed aside by im-
petuous emergency. They have to decide off-hand.
The statesman has to deal with events. The
historian, who has merely to record them, may
amuse his leisure by constructing policies, to ex-
plain instances of successful opportunism.
On the 30th of July the following order was offic-
ially published : " The Governor-General in Council
sanctions the despatch of a force, to be styled the
Malakand Field Force, for the purpose of holding the
Malakand, and the adjacent posts, and of operating
against the neighbouring tribes as may be required
7 8 The Malakand Field Force.
The force was composed as follows : —
Commanding — Colonel W. H. Meiklejohn, C.B., C.M.G., with
the local rank of Brigadier-General.
I St Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment.
24th Punjaub Infantry.
31st Punjaub Infantry.
45th (Rattray's) Sikhs.
Sections A and B of No. i British Field Hospital.
No. 38 Native Field Hospital.
Sections A and B of No. 50 Native Field Hospital.
Commanding — Brigadier-General P. D. Jeffreys, C.B.
I St Battalion East Kent Regiment (the Buffs).
Sections C and D of No. i British Field Hospital.
No. 37 Native Field Hospital.
Sections C and D of No. 50 Native Field Hospital.
4 Squadrons nth Bengal Lancers.
1 „ loth
2 ,, Guides Cavalry.
22nd Punjaub Infantry.
2 Companies 21st Punjaub Infantry,
loth Field Battery.
6 Guns No. i British Mountain Battery.
6 „ No. 7 „
6 „ No. 8 Bengal
No. 5 Company Madras Sappers and Miners.
No. 3 „ Bombay
Section B of No. 13 British Field Hospital.
Sections A and B of No. 35 Native Field Hospital
Line of Communications.
No. 34 Native Field Hospital.
Section B of No. i Native Field Hospital.
This complete division amounted to a total available field
strength of 6800 bayonets, 700 lances or sabres, with 24 guns.
The Relief of Chakdara. 79
The command of this powerful force was en-
trusted to Brigadier- General Sir Bindon Blood,
K.C.B., who was granted the local rank of Major-
As this officer is the principal character in the
tale I have to tell, a digression is necessary to
introduce him to the reader. Born of an old Irish
family, a clan that has been settled in the west of
Ireland for 300 years, and of which he is now the
head, Sir Bindon Blood was educated privately, and
at the Indian Military College at Addiscombe, and
obtained a commission in the Royal Engineers in
December, i860. For the first eleven years he was
stationed in England, and it was not until 1871
that he proceeded to India, where he first saw
active service in the Jawaki Afridi Expedition
(medal with clasp). In 1878 he returned home,
but the next year was ordered to the Zulu war.
On the conclusion of hostilities, for which he re-
ceived a second medal and clasp, he again sailed
for India and served throughout the Afghan war of
1880, being for some time with the troops at
Cabul. In 1882 he accompanied the Army to
Egypt, and was with the Highland Brigade, which
was the most severely engaged at Tel-el-Kebir.
He received the medal and clasp, Khedive's star and
the 3rd class of the Medjidie. After the campaign
he went home for two years, and in 1885 made
another voyage to the East, over which the Russian
war-cloud was then hanging. Since then the
general has served in India, at first with the Sap-
pers and Miners, with whose reorganisation he was
closely associated, and latterly in command of the
8o The Malakand Field Force.
Agra District. In 1895 he was appointed Chief of
the Staff to Sir Robert Low in the Chitral Expedi-
tion, and was present at all the actions, including
the storming of the Malakand Pass. For his ser-
vices he received a degree of knighthood of the
Military Order of the Bath and the Chitral medal and
clasp. He was now marked as a man for high com-
mand on the frontier at the first opportunity. That
opportunity the great rising of 1897 has presented.
Thirty-seven years of soldiering, of war in many
lands, of sport of every kind, have steeled alike
muscle and nerve. Sir Bindon Blood, himself, till
warned by the march of time, a keen polo player,
is one of those few officers of high rank in the army,
who recognise the advantages to soldiers of that
splendid game. He has pursued all kinds of wild
animals in varied jungles, has killed many pig with
the spear and shot every species of Indian game,
including thirty tigers to his own rifle.
It would not be fitting for me, a subaltern of
horse, to offer any criticism, though eulogistic, on
the commander under whom I have had the honour
to serve in the field. I shall content myself with
saying, that the general is one of that type of
soldiers and administrators, which the responsi-
bilities and dangers of an Empire produce, a type,
which has not been, perhaps, possessed by any
nation except the British, since the days when the
Senate and the Roman people sent their proconsuls
to all parts of the world.
Sir Bindon Blood was at Agra, when, on the
evening of the 28th of July, he received the telegram
from the Adjutant-General in India, appointing him
The Relief of Chakdara.
to the command of the Malakand Field Force, and
instructing him to proceed at once to assume it.
He started immediately, and on the 31st formally
took command at Nowshera. At Mardan he
halted to make arrangements for the onward
march of the troops. Here at 3 A.M. on the ist
of August, he received a telegram from Army
Headquarters informing him, that Chakdara Fort
was hard pressed, and directing him to hurry
on to the Malakand, and attempt its relief at all
costs. The great numbers of the enemy, and the
shortness of ammunition and supplies from which
the garrison were suffering, made the task difficult
and the urgency great. Indeed I have been told,
that at Simla on the ist of August it was feared,
that Chakdara was doomed, and that sufficient
troops to fight their way to its relief could not be
concentrated in time. The greatest anxiety pre-
vailed. Sir Bindon Blood replied telegraphically
that "knowing the ground" as he did, he "felt
serenely confident ". He hurried on at once, and,
in spite of the disturbed state of the country, reached
the Malakand about noon on the ist of August.
The desperate position of the garrison of Chak-
dara was fully appreciated by their comrades
at the Malakand. As the night, of the 31st
had been comparatively quiet, Brigadier-General
Meiklejohn determined to attempt to force his
way to their relief the next day. He accordingly
formed a column as follows : —
24th Punjaub Infantry.
No. 5 Company Sappers and Miners.
4 Guns of No. 8 Mountain Battery,
82 The Malakand Field Force.
At 1 1 A.M. he sent the cavalry, under«Lieutenant-
Colonel Adams of the Guides, to make a dash for
the Amandara Pass, and if it were unoccupied to
seize it. The three squadrons started by the short
road to the north camp. As soon as the enemy
saw what was going on, they assembled in great
numbers to oppose the advance. The ground was
most unsuitable for cavalry. Great boulders
strewed the surface. Frequent nullahs intersected
the plain, and cramped the action of the horsemen.
The squadrons soon became hotly engaged. The
Guides made several charges. The broken nature
of the ground favoured the enemy. Many of them
were, however, speared or cut down. In one of
these charges Lieutenant Keyes was wounded.
While he was attacking one tribesman, another
came up from behind, and struck him a heavy
blow on the shoulder with a sword. Though
these Swatis keep their swords at razor edge, and
though the blow was sufficiently severe to render
the officer's arm useless for some days, it raised
only a thin weal, as if from a cut of a whip.
It was a strange and almost an inexplicable
The enemy in increasing numbers pressed upon
the cavalry, who began to get seriously involved.
The tribesmen displayed the greatest boldness and
determination. At length Lieut.-Colonel Adams
had to order a retirement. It was none too soon.
The tribesmen were already working round the left
flank and thus threatening the only line of retreat.
The squadrons fell back, covering each other by
dismounted fire. The 24th Punjaub Infantry pro-
The Relief of Chakdara. 83
tected their flank as they reached the camp. The
cavalry losses were as follows : —
Wounded severely — Captain G. M. Baldwin, the Guides.
,, slightly — Lieutenant C. V. Keyes, the Guides.
nth Bengal Lancers - - - ... 3
Horses i 4
Guides Cavalry - - . - i 10
Horses 3 18
Total casualties — 16 men and 26 horses.
The vigorous resistance which the cavalry had
encountered, and the great numbers and confidence
that the enemy had displayed, effectually put an
end to any idea of relieving Chakdara that day.
The tribesmen were much elated by their tem-
porary success, and the garrison, worn and wearied
by the incessant strain, both mental and physical,
were proportionately cast down. Every one antici-
pated tremendous fighting on the next day. Make
the attempt, they must at all hazards. But there
1 were not wanting those who spoke of " forlorn
I hopes " and " last chances ". Want of sleep and
I rest had told on all ranks. For a week they had
grappled with a savage foe. They were the
j victors, but they were out of breath.
I It was at this moment, that Sir Bindon Blood
f arrived and assumed the command. He found
\ General Meiklejohn busily engaged in organising
f a force of all arms, which was to move to the relief
! of Chakdara on the following day. As it was
dangerous to denude the Malakand position of
> troops, this force could not exceed 1000 rifles, the
84 The Malakand Field Force.
available cavalry and four guns. Of these arrange-
ments Sir Bindon Blood approved. He relieved
Brigadier-General Meiklejohn of the charge of the
Malakand position, and gave him the command
of the relieving column. Colonel Reid was then
placed in command of Malakand, and instructed to
strengthen the pickets at Castle Rock, as far as
possible, and to be ready with a force taken from
them, to clear the high ground on the right of the
Graded road. The relieving column was composed
as follows : —
400 Rifles 24th Punjaub Infantry.
400 „ 45th Sikhs.
200 Guides Infantry.
2 Squadrons iith Bengal Lancers) under Lieutenant-
2 „ Guides Cavalry ) Col. R. B. Adams.
4 Guns No. 8 Mountain Battery.
50 Sappers of No. 5 Company.
Sir Bindon Blood ordered General Meiklejohn to
assemble this force before dark near the centre of
the camp at a grove of trees called " Gretna Green,"
to bivouac there for the night, and to be ready to
start with the first light of morning. During the
afternoon the enemy, encouraged by their success
with the cavalry in the morning, advanced boldly
to the pickets and the firing was continuous. So
heavy indeed did it become between eleven and
twelve o'clock at night, that the force at " Gretna
Green " got under arms. But towards morning the
The reader may, perhaps, have in his mind
the description of the Malakand as a great cup
with jagged clefts in the rim. Much of this rim
The Relief of Chakdara. 85
was still held by the enemy. It was necessary
for any force trying to get out of the cup, to
fight their way along the narrow roads through
the clefts, which were commanded by the heights
on either side. For a considerable distance it was
impossible to deploy. Therein lay the difficulty of
the operation, which the General had now to per-
form. The relieving column was exposed to the
danger of being stopped, just as Colonel McRae had
stopped the first attack of the tribesmen along the
Buddhist road. On the ist of August the cavalry
had avoided these difficulties by going down the
road to the North camp, and making a considerable
detour. But they thus became involved in bad
ground and had to retire. The Graded " road, if
any, was the road by which Chakdara was to be
relieved. Looking at the tangled, rugged, nature of
the country, it seems extraordinary to an untrained
eye, that among so many peaks and points, one
should be of more importance than another. Yet
it is so. On the high ground, in front of the
position that Colonel McRae and the 45th Sikhs
had held so well, was a prominent spur. This was
the key, which would unlock the gate and set free
the troops, who were cramped up within. Every
one realised afterwards how obvious this was and
wondered they had not thought of it before. Sir
Bindon Blood selected the point as the object of
his first attack, and it was against this that he
directed Colonel Goldney with a force of about 300
men to move, as soon as he should give the signal
At half-past four in the morning of the 2nd of
86 The Malakand Field Force.
August, he proceeded to " Gretna Green " and
found the relieving column fallen in, and ready to
march at daybreak. All expected a severe action.
Oppressed with fatigue and sleeplessness, there were
many who doubted that it would be successful. But
though tired, they were determined, and braced
themselves for a desperate struggle. The General-
in-Chief was, as he had said, confident and serene.
He summoned the different commanding officers,
explained his plans, and shook hands all round. It
was a moment of stern and high resolve. Slowly
the first faint light of dawn grew in the eastern sky.
The brightness of the stars began to pale. Behind
the mountains was the promise of the sun. Then
the word was given to advance. Immediately the
relieving column set off, fours deep, down the
" Graded " road. Colonel Goldney simultaneously
advanced to the attack of the spur, which now
bears his name, with 250 men of the 35th Sikhs
and 50 of the 38th Dogras. He moved silently
towards the stone shelters, that the tribesmen had
erected on the crest. He got to within a hun-
dred yards unperceived. The enemy, surprised,
opened an irregular and ineffective fire. The
Sikhs shouted and dashed forward. The ridge
was captured without loss of any kind. The enemy
fled in disorder leaving seven dead and one prisoner
on the ground.
Then the full significance of the movement was
apparent alike to friend and foe. The point now
gained, commanded the whole of the "Graded"
road, right down to its junction with the road to the
North camp. The relieving column, moving down
The Relief of Chakdara. 87
the road, were enabled to deploy without loss or
delay. The door was open. The enemy, utterly
surprised and dumfoundered by this manoeuvre,
were seen running to and fro in the greatest con-
fusion : in the graphic words of Sir Bindon Blood's
despatch, " like ants in a disturbed ant-hill At
length they seemed to realise the situation, and,
descending from the high ground, took up a position
near Bedford Hill in General Meiklejohn's front, and
opened a heavy fire at close range. But the troops
were now deployed and able to bring their numbers
to bear. Without wasting time in firing, they ad-
vanced with the bayonet. The leading company
of the Guides stormed the hill in their front with
a loss of two killed and six wounded. The rest of
the troops charged with even less loss. The enemy,
thoroughly panic-stricken, began to fly, literally by
thousands, along the heights to the right. They left
seventy dead behind them. The troops, maddened
by the remembrance of their fatigues and sufferings,
and inspired by the impulse of victory, pursued
them with a merciless vigour.
Sir Bindon Blood had with his staff ascended the
Castle Rock, to superintend the operations gener-
ally. From this position the whole field was
visible. On every side, and from every rock, the
white figures of the enemy could be seen in full
flight. The way was open. The passage was
forced. Chakdara was saved. A great and brilli-
ant success had been obtained. A thrill of exulta-
tion convulsed every one. In that moment the
general, who watched the triumphant issue of his
plans, must have experienced as fine an emotion as
88 The Malakand Field Force.
is given to man on earth. In that moment, we may
imagine, that, the weary years of routine, the long
ascent of the lower grades of the service, the fre-
quent subordination to incompetence, the fatigues
and dangers of five campaigns, received their com-
pensation. Perhaps, such is the contrariness of
circumstances, there was no time for the enjoyment
of these reflections. The victory had been gained.
It remained to profit by it. The enemy would be
compelled to retire across the plain. There at last
was the chance of the cavalry. The four squadrons
were hurried to the scene.
The nth Bengal Lancers, forming line across the
plain, began a merciless pursuit up the valley. The
Guides pushed on to seize the Amandara Pass and
relieve Chakdara. All among the rice fields and the
rocks, the strong horsemen hunted the flying enemy.
No quarter was asked or given, and every tribes-
man caught, was speared or cut down at once.
Their bodies lay thickly strewn about the fields,
spotting with black and white patches, the bright
green of the rice crop. It was a terrible lesson and
one, which the inhabitants of Swat and Bajaur
will never forget. Since then their terror of Lancers
has been extraordinary. A few sowars have fre-
quently been sufficient to drive a hundred of these
valiant savages in disorder to the hills, or prevent
them descending into the plain for hours.
Meanwhile the infantry had been advancing
swiftly. The 45th Sikhs stormed the fortified
village of Batkhela near the Amandara Pass,
which the enemy held desperately. Lieut- Colonel
McRae, who had been relieved from the command
The Relief of Chakdara. 89
of the regiment by the arrival of Colonel Sawyer,
was the first man to enter the village. Eighty of
the enemy were bayoneted in Batkhela alone. It
was a terrible reckoning.
I am anxious to finish with this scene of carnage.
The spectator, who may gaze unmoved on the
bloodshed of the battle, must avert his eyes, from
the horrors of the pursuit, unless, indeed, joining
in it himself, he flings all scruples to the winds, and,
carried away by the impetus of the moment, in-
dulges to the full those deep-seated instincts of
savagery, over which civilisation has but cast a
veil of doubtful thickness.
The casualties in the relief of Chakdara were as
follows : —
nth Bengal Lancers — killed and died from wounds, 3 ; wounded, 3.
Guides Infantry - - - - 2 7
35th Sikhs 2 3
45th Sikhs 7
24th Punjaub Infantry - - - ... 5
No. 8 Bengal Mountain Battery - ... i
Total Casualties — 33.
The news of the relief of Chakdara was received
with feelings of profound thankfulness throughout
India. And in England, in the House of Commons,
when the Secretary of State read out the telegram,
there were few among the members, who did not
join in the cheers. Nor need we pay much atten-
tion to those few.
THE DEFENCE OF CHAKDARA.
, . . That tower of strength
Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew.
The Fort— The Warning— A Gallop Home— The First Attack—
The Cavalry Dash — Continued Assaults — The Signal Tower
— Exhaustion of the Defenders — Sepoy Prem Singh — Critical
Situation — The Urgent Appeal — The Final Attack — The
Cavalry to the Rescue — A Finish in Style — The Casualties.
The episode with which this chapter is concerned
is one that has often occurred on the out-post Hne
of civilisation, and which is peculiarly frequent
in the history of a people, whose widespread Empire
is fringed with savage tribes. A small band of
soldiers or settlers, armed with the resources of
science, and strengthened by the cohesion of
mutual trust, are assailed in some isolated post,
by thousands of warlike and merciless enemies.
Usually the courage and equipment of the garrison
enable them to hold out until a relieving force
arrives, as at Rorke's Drift, Fort Chitral, Chakdara
or Gulistan. But sometimes the defenders are
overwhelmed, and, as at Saraghari or Khartoum,
none are left to tell the tale. There is something
strangely terrible in the spectacle of men, who fight
— not for political or patriotic reasons, not for the
sake of duty or glory - -but for dear life itself ; not
The Defence of Chakdara. 91
because they want to, but because they have to.
They hold the dykes of social progress against
a rising deluge of barbarism, which threatens every
moment to overflow the banks and drown them
all. The situation is one which will make a coward
valorous, and affords to brave men opportunities for
the most sublime forms of heroism and devotion.
Chakdara holds the passage of the Swat River —
a rapid, broad, and at most seasons of the year an
unfordable torrent. It is built on a rocky knoll
that rises abruptly from the plain about a hundred
yards from the mountains. Sketches and photo-
graphs usually show only the knoll and buildings,
on it, and any one looking at them will be struck
by the picturesque and impregnable aspect of the
little fort, without observing that its proportions
are dwarfed, and its defences commanded, by the
frowning cliffs, under which it stands. In its con-
struction the principles of defilade have been
completely ignored. Standing on the mountain
ridge, occupied by the signal tower, it is possible to
look or fire right into the fort. Every open space
is commanded. Every parapet is exposed. Against
an enemy unprovided with artillery, however, it
could be held indefinitely ; but the fact that all
interior communications are open to fire, makes its
defence painful to the garrison, and might, by gra-
dually weakening their numbers, lead to its capture.
The narrow, swinging, wire bridge across the
Swat, is nearly 500 yards long. At the southern
end, it is closed by a massive iron door, loopholed
for musketry, and flanked by two stone towers, in
one of which a Maxim gun is mounted. On the
92 The Malakand Field Force.
further side is the fort itself, which consists of the
fortified knoll, a strong stone horn-work, an en-
closure for horses, protected by a loopholed wall
and much tangled barbed wire, and the signal tower,
a detached post 200 yards up the cliff.
The garrison of this place consisted at the time
of the outbreak of twenty sowars of the nth
Bengal Lancers and two strong companies of the
45th Sikhs, in all about 200 men, under the com-
mand of Lieutenant H. B. Rattray.^ As the
rumours of an impending rising grew stronger and
stronger, and the end of July approached, this
officer practised his men in taking stations in the
event of an alarm, and made such preparations as
he thought necessary for eventualities. On the
23rd he received an official warning from the
D.A.A.G.,^ Major Herbert, that a tribal rising was
" possible but not probable ". Every precaution
was henceforth taken in the fort. On the 26th, a
Sepoy, who was out sketching, hurried in with the
news that a large body of tribesmen were advancing
down the valley, and that he himself had been robbed
of his compass, his field-glasses and some money.
But, in spite of the disturbed and threatening
^ The actual strength was as follows: iith Bengal Lancers,
20 sabres ; 45th Sikhs, 180 rifles ; 2 British telegraphists ; i Hospi-
tal Havildar ; i Provost Naick (24th Punjaub Infantry) ; i Jemadar
(Dir Levies). British Officers — 45th Sikhs, Lieutenants Rattray
and Wheatley ; Surgeon-Captain V. Hugo; Political Agent,
2 Deputy-Assistant-Adjutant-General. Surely this astounding
title, with that of the Deputy-Assistant-Quarter-Master-General,
might be replaced with advantage by the more sensible and appro-
priate terms " Brigade Adjutant " and "Brigade Quartermaster " !
The Defence of Chakdara. 93
situation, the British officers of the Malakand
garrison, though they took all military precau-
tions for the defence of their posts, did not abandon
their practice of riding freely about the valley, armed
only with revolvers. Nor did they cease from their
amusements. On the evening of the 26th, Lieu-
tenant Rattray went over to Khar as usual to play
polo. Just as the game was ended, he received a
letter, brought in haste by two sowars, from Lieu-
tenant Wheatley, the other subaltern at Chakdara,
warning him that a great number of Pathans with
flags were advancing on the fort. He at once
galloped back at full speed, passing close to one
large gathering of tribesmen, who for some reason
of their own took no notice of him, and so reached
the fort in safety, and just in time. Formidable
masses of men were then closing in on it. He
telegraphed to the staff officer at the Malakand
reporting the impending attack. Immediately
afterwards the wire was cut by the enemy and
the little garrison got under arms.
A havildar of the Khan of Dir's Levies had
promised the political agent to give warning of
any actual assault, by lighting a fire on the opposite
hills. At 1015 a solitary flame shot up. It was
the signal. The alarm was sounded. The garrison
went to their posts. For a space there was silence,
and then out of the darkness began a fusillade,
which did not stop until the 2nd of August.
Immediately the figures of the tribesmen, as they
advanced to the attack on the western face of
the fort, became visible. The defenders opened
fire with effect. The enemy pressed on vigorously.
94 The Malakand Field Force.
Their losses were severe. At length they retreated
A second attack was immediately delivered against
the north-east corner and again beaten off by the
garrison. At 4 A.M. a third assault was made
upon the cavalry enclosure. The tribesmen, carry-
ing scaling ladders, advanced with great determina-
tion. They were received with a deadly fire. They
then drew off, and the first night of the siege was
terminated by desultory firing. The garrison re-
mained at their posts all night, and when it became
day the enemy were seen to have retired, to the hills
to the north-west, whence they maintained a cease-
less fire. Although the defenders were protected
by their stone walls, many had strange escapes from
the bullets, which fell incessantly into the interior.
Meanwhile, in spite of the vigorous attack that
was being made on the Malakand, it had been
decided to send some assistance to the little band at
Chakdara. Captain Wright and forty sowars of the
nth Bengal Lancers with Captain Baker of the
2nd Bombay Grenadiers and transport officer at
the Malakand, started at dawn on the 27th, by the
road from the north camp. Before they had gone
very far they came under the fire of the enemy
on the hills. These did not dare to venture into
the plain, but availed themselves of the broken
nature of the country. As the squadron reached
the road leading to the polo ground, Captain Wright
received information that the enemy were collected
on the plain and immediately the pace was quickened
in the hopes of a charge being possible. But the
tribesmen ran to the hills at the sight of the Lancers,
The Defence of Chakdara. 95
and maintained a constant, though luckily, an ill-
aimed fire. At length the village of Batkhela was
reached, and beyond it the Amandara Pass came
in sight. This is a gap in a long spur, which runs
from the southern side of the valley to the rapid
river in the middle. As the river was then in full
flood and unfordable, the only road to Chakdara
lay over or through the spur. But the pass was
held by the enemy.
Captain Wright had by this time realised, what
probably no one at the Malakand then knew, that
the enemy's numbers were enormous. The whole
way from Malakand to Amandara — every ridge
and hill was crowned with their banners. Wherever
the ground protected them from the horsemen they
gathered thickly. Cemeteries,^ nullahs and villages
swarmed with men. Their figures could be seen in
all directions. Far beyc^nd the Amandara Pass
bands of tribesmen, of varying strengths, could be
observed hurrying with their standards to the
attack. But these formidable signs, far from deter-
ring the cavalry soldier, only added, by displaying
how great was the need of Chakdara, to his deter-
mination to force his way through at all costs.
Under a dropping fire from the cemetery on the
right of the road, a brief consultation was held.
The Amandara defile was occupied on both sides
by the enemy. With the loss of perhaps a dozen
men the squadron might gallop through. But this
meant leaving all who fell, to perish miserably, by
^ Cemeteries are frequent and prominent features of Frontier
landscapes. Some of them are of great extent ; all of remarkable
96 The Malakand Field Force.
torture and mutilation. To attempt to pick up the
wounded, would lead to the annihilation of the
squadron. Any alternative was preferable, though
if there were no other way, the dash would have to
be made, and the wounded left, A sowar now said
there was a path round the rock by the bank of the
river. Captain Wright determined to take it.
The path was bad. After about half the spur
had been passed, it ended abruptly in a steep white
rock. It was, in fact, a path leading to a point
where the natives were in the habit of floating
across the river upon " mussucks " (inflated skins).
To go back now was to fail. Without hesitation,
the horsemen turned to the right up the hill and
among the rocks, trusting to get through somehow.
After passing over ground, which would be difficult
to move across on foot, they saw a gorge to their
left which appeared as if it would lead to the open
plain, on the other side of the ridge. Down this
gorge forty horses huddled together, with no room
to pick their way, were scrambling and jumping
from rock to rock, apparently as conscious as their
riders, that their lives depended on their cleverness
— when, suddenly, the enemy appeared.
As soon as the tribesmen, who were holding the
pass, saw the squadron trot off to their right towards
the river, they realised that they intended to make
a desperate effort, to get through to Chakdara.
They knew what the ground was like, and confident
they would kill them all, if they could get there soon
euough, ran swiftly along the spur. It was a race.
The leading tribesmen arrived in time to fire on
the cavalry, while they were in the gorge. So close
The Defence of Chakdara. 97
were they, that the officers used their revolvers.
■ But the Pathans were out of breath and shot badly.
Several horses were hit, including Captain Wright's,
but though the large thigh bone was penetrated, the
gallant beast held on, and carried his rider to
By the extraordinary activity of the horses the
rocks were cleared before the enemy could collect
in any strength. But, to the dismay of all, the
gorge was found to lead, not to the plain, but to a
I branch of the river. A broad, swift channel of
I water of unknown depth confronted the cavalry.
To go back was now, however, out of the question.
They plunged in. The nth Bengal Lancers are
perhaps better mounted than any native cavalry
regiment in India. Their strong horses just held
their own against the current. Several were nearly
, swept away. Captain Wright was the last to cross.
All this time the enemy were firing and approaching.
At length the passage was made and the squadron
collected on an island of flooded rice fields, in which
the horses sank up to their hocks. Beyond this
ran another arm of the river about fifty yards wide,
and apparently almost as deep as the first. The
bullets of the enemy made " watery flashes " on
5 all sides. After passing this second torrent the
. squadron found themselves again on the same bank
I of the river as the enemy. They were in swampy
ground. Captain Wright dismounted his men and
returned the fire. Then he turned back himself,
and riding into the stream again, rescued the hos-
pital assistant, whose pony, smaller than the other
horses, was being carried off its legs by the force of
98 The Malakand Field Force.
the water. After this the march was resumed.
The squadron kept in the heavy ground, struggHng
along painfully. The enemy, running along the edge
of the rice fields, maintained a continual fire, kneel-
ing down to take good aim. A sowar threw up his
hands and fell, shot through the back. Several
more horses were hit. Then another man reeled in
his saddle and collapsed on the ground. A halt was
made. Dismounted fire was opened upon the enemy.
The wounded were picked up, and by slow degrees
Chakdara was approached, when the Bridgehead
Maxim gun compelled the tribesmen to draw off.^
Thus the garrison of the fort received a needed
reinforcement. I have given a somewhat long
description of this gallant ride, because it shows
that there are few obstacles that can stop brave
men and good horses. Captain Wright now as-
sumed command of Chakdara, but the direction of
the defence he still confided to Lieutenant Rattray,
as fighting behind walls is a phase of warfare, with
which the cavalry soldier is little acquainted.
At 11*30, in the heat of the day the tribesmen
attacked again. They surrounded the north and east
sides of the fort, and made strenuous efforts to get
in. They suffered heavy losses from the musketry
of the defence, and their dead lay scattered thickly on
the approaches. Nor were they removed till night-
fall. Many Ghazis, mad with fanaticism, pressed
on carrying standards, heedless of the fire, until
they fell riddled with bullets under the very walls.
To communicate with the Malakand was now
^ For the particulars of this affair I am indebted to Captain
Baker, 2nd Bombay Grenadiers, who shared its perils.
The Defence of Chakdara. 99
almost impossible. To heliograph, it was necessary
that the operator should be exposed to a terrible
fire. In the evening the signal tower was sur-
rounded by men in stone sungars, who kept up an
incessant fusilade, and made all exposure, even for
an instant, perilous.
At midday, after the repulse of the main attack,
the guard of the signal tower was reinforced by six
men and food and water were also sent up. This
difficult operation was protected by the fire of both
the Maxims, and of all the garrison who could be
spared from other points. Until the ist of August,
water was sent up daily to the signal tower in this
way. The distance was long and the road steep.
The enemy's fire was persistent Looking at the
ground it seems wonderful that supplies could have
been got through at all.
As night approached, the defenders prepared to
meet a fresh attack. Lieutenant Wheatley, observ-
ing the points behind which the enemy usually
assembled, trained the fort Maxim and the
9-pounder gun on them, while daylight lasted. At
II P.M. the tribesmen advanced with shouts, yells
and the beating of drums. The gun and the Maxims
were fired, and it is said, that no fewer than seventy
men perished by the single discharge. At any rate
the assault was delayed for an hour and a half. All
day long the garrison had remained at their posts.
It was hoped they would now get a little rest. But
at I o'clock the attack was renewed on the north-
east corner. Again the enemy brought up scaling
ladders and charged with desperate ferocity. They
were shot down.
loo The Malakand Field Force.
Meanwhile every spare moment was devoted to
improving the cover for the garrison. Captain
Baker appHed himself to this task, and used every
expedient. Logs, sand bags, stones, boxes filled
with earth were piled upon the walls. It is due to
these precautions that the loss of life was no larger.
Continuous firing occupied the 28th, and at 5-30
P.M. the enemy again assaulted. As in previous
attacks, they at first advanced by twos and threes,
making little dashes over the open ground, for bits
of natural cover, and for the stone sungars, they had
built all round the fort under cover of darkness.
Some of these were within 200 yards of the wall.
As they advanced the fire became intense. Then
the main rush was delivered. In a great semi-
circle round the face of the fort held by the cavalry,
and displaying nearly 200 standards, whose gay
colours were representative of every tribe on the
border, they charged right up to the walls. Some
of them actually got across the tangled barbed wire
and were destroyed in the enclosure. But all
efforts were defeated by the garrison, and towards
morning the attack melted away, and only the
usual sharpshooters remained. Some of these dis-
played a singular recklessness. One man climbed
up into the barbed wire and fired three shots at the
defenders at close quarters before he was killed.
Thursday morning dawned on similar scenes.
The garrison employed such intervals as occurred
in strengthening their defences and improving their
cover, particularly in the approaches to the Maxim
and field gun platforms. At 3 P.M. the enemy
came out of Chakdara village, and, carrying ladders
The Defence of Chakdara. loi
to scale the walls, and bundles of grass to throw on
the barbed wire, made a formidable effort. They
directed the attack, mainly against the signal
station. This building is a strong, square, stone
tower. Its entrance is above six feet from the
ground. All around the top runs a machiconlis
gallery, a kind of narrow balcony, with holes in the
floor to fire through. It is well provided with
loopholes. At 4 o'clock it was closely assailed.
The garrison of the fort aided the tower guard by
their fire. So bold were the enemy in their efforts,
that they rushed in under the musketry of the de-
fence, and lighted a great heap of grass about three
yards from the doorway. The flames sprang up. A
howl of ferocious delight arose. But the tribesmen
relapsed into silence, when they saw that no real
harm was done. At sunset the fore sight of the
fort Maxim was shot away, and the defenders were
temporarily deprived of the service of that powerful
weapon. They soon rnanaged, however, to rig up
a makeshift, which answered all practical purposes.
At 8 P.M. the enemy wearied of the struggle, and
the firing died away to desultory skirmishing. They
toiled all night carrying away their dead, but next
morning over fifty bodies were still lying around
the signal tower. Their losses had been enormous.
The morning of the 30th brought no cessation
of the fighting, but the enemy, disheartened by
their losses of the previous night, did not attack
until 7 P.M. At that hour they advanced and made
a fresh effort. They were again repulsed. Per-
haps the reader is tired of the long recital of the
monotonous succession of assaults and repulses.
I02 The Malakand Field Force.
What must the garrison have been by the reality?
Until this day — when they snatched a few hours'
sleep — they had been continually fighting and
w^atching for ninety-six hours. Like men in a leak-
ing ship, who toil at the pumps ceaselessly and find
their fatigues increasing and the ship sinking hour
by hour, they cast anxious, weary eyes in the direc-
tion whence help might be expected. But none came.
And there are worse deaths than by drowning.
Men fell asleep at the loopholes and at the service
of the field gun. Even during the progress of the
attacks, insulted nature asserted itself, and the
soldiers drifted away from the roar of the musketry,
and the savage figures of the enemy, to the peaceful
unconsciousness of utter exhaustion. The officers,
haggard but tireless, aroused them frequently.
At other times the brave Sepoys would despair.
The fort was ringed with the enemy. The Mala-
kand, too, was assailed. Perhaps it was the same
elsewhere. The whole British Raj, seemed passing
away in a single cataclysm. The officers en-
couraged them. The Government of the Queen-
Empress would never desert them. If they could
hold out, they would be relieved. If not, they
would be avenged. Trust in the young white
men who led them, and perhaps some dim half-
idolatrous faith in a mysterious Sovereign across
the seas, whose soldiers they were, and who would
surely protect them, restored their fainting strength.
The fighting continued.
During the whole time of the siege the diffi-
culty of maintaining signalling communication
with the Malakand was extreme. But for the
The Defence of Chakdara. 103
heroism of the signallers, it would have been in-
superable. One man in particular, Sepoy Prem
Singh, used every day at the risk of his life to
come out through a porthole of the tower, estab-
lish his heliograph, and, under a terrible fire from
short range, flash urgent messages to the main
force. The extreme danger, the delicacy of the
operation of obtaining connection with a helio, the
time consumed, the composure required, these
things combined to make the action as brave as any
which these or other pages record.^ Early on
Saturday morning a supply of water was sent to
the guard of the signal tower. It was the last
they got until 4" 30 on Monday afternoon.
When the attack on the fort began, the enemy
numbered perhaps 1500 men. Since then they
had been increasing every day, until on the ist and
2nd, they are estimated to have been between
12,000 and 14,000 strong. Matters now began to
assume a still graver aspect. At 5 o'clock on
the evening of the 31st a renewed attack was made
in tremendous force on the east side of the fort.
But it was beaten back with great loss by the
Maxims and the field gun. All night long the
firing continued, and Sunday morning displayed
the enemy in far larger numbers than hitherto.
They now captured the Civil Hospital, a detached
building, the walls of which they loopholed, and
^ A proposal has recently been made, to give the Victoria Cross
to native soldiers who shall deserve it. It would seem, that the
value of such a decoration must be enhanced by making it open
to all British subjects. The keener the competition, the greater
the Iionour of success. In sport, in courage, and in the sight of
heaven, all men meet on equal terms.
I04 The Malakand Field Force.
from which they maintained a gaUing fire. They
also occupied the ridge, leading to the signal tower,
thus cutting off all communication with its guard.
No water reached those unfortunate men that day.
The weather was intensely hot. The fire from the
ridge made all interior communication difficult and
dangerous. The enemy appeared armed to a great
extent with Martini-Henry rifles and Sniders, and
their musketry was most harassing. The party in
the tower kept sending by signal, pressing requests
for water, which could not be supplied. The situa-
tion became critical. I quote the simple words of
Lieutenant Rattray's official report : —
Matters now looked so serious that we decided
to send an urgent appeal for help, but owing to
the difficulty and danger of signalling we could
not send a long message, and made it as short as
possible, merely sending the two words, ' Help us ' ".
Still the garrison displayed a determined aspect,
and though the tribesmen occupied the ridge, the
Civil Hospital and an adjoining nullah, none set
foot within the defences.
At length the last day of the struggle came. At
daybreak the enemy in tremendous numbers came
on to the assault, as if resolute to take the place at
any cost. They carried scaling ladders and bundles
of grass. The firing became intense. In spite of
the cover of the garrison several men were killed
and wounded by the hail of bullets which was
directed against the fort, and which splashed and
scarred the walls in every direction.
Then suddenly, as matters were approaching a
crisis, the cavalry of the relieving column appeared
The Defence of Chakdara. 105
over the Amandara ridge. The strong horsemen
mercilessly pursued and cut down all who opposed
them. When they reached the Bridgehead on the
side of the river remote from the fort, the enemy
began to turn and run. The garrison had held
out stubbornly and desperately throughout the
siege. Now that relief was at hand, Lieutenant
Rattray flung open the gate, and followed by half
a dozen men charged the Civil Hospital. Captain
Baker and Lieutenant Wheatley followed with a
few more. The hospital was recaptured. The
enemy occupying it, some thirty in number, were
bayoneted. It was a finish in style. Returning,
the sallying party found the cavalry — the nth
Bengal Lancers — checked by a sungar full of tribes-
men. This they charged in flank, killing most of
its occupants, and driving the rest after their com-
rades in rout and ruin. The last man to leave the
sungar^ shot Lieutenant Rattray in the neck, but
that officer, as distinguished for physical prowess,
as for military conduct, cut him down. This ended
the fighting. It is not possible to think of a more
The casualties in the siege were as follows : —
iith B. L. - ... I I
45th Sikhs - ... 4 lo
Dir Levies - - - - i
Followers . . . . i 2
Total, all ranks — 20.
This was the loss ; but every man in the fort had
held death at arm's length, for seven nights, and
It is a significant fact, that, though the cavalr)-
io6 The Malakand Field Force.
horses were exposed to the enemy's fire the whole
time, hardly any were killed or wounded. The
tribesmen, feeling sure that the place was theirs,
and hoping that these fine beasts would fall into
their hands alive, had abstained from shooting
As far as could be ascertained by careful official
inquiries the enemy lost over 2000 men in the
attack upon Chakdara.^
^ The following statistics as to the expenditure of ammunition
may be of interest : —
28th July. Maxim . . . . 843
Martini-Henry - - - 7170
29th July. Maxim . . . . 667
,, Martini-Henry - - - 4020
30th July. Maxim . . . . 1200
Martini-Henry - - - 5530
31st July. Maxim . . . . 180
,, Martini-Henry - - - 2700
This is approximately twenty rounds per man per diem. The
fire control must have been excellent.
THE GATE OF SWAT.
Formation of the 3rd Brigade — The Marks of War — Submission
of the Lower Swatis — The Special Force — The Action of
Landakai — The Artillery Preparation — The Flank Attack —
Capture of the Ridge — Pursuit — A Disastrous Incident — A
Gallant Feat of Arms — The Victoria Cross — Knights of the
Sword and Pen — Buddhist Remains — The Light of Other
Days — Buner — Return of the Troops.
The Malakand Pass gives access to the valley of
the Swat, a long and wide trough running east and
west, among the mountains. Six miles further
to the east, at Chakdara, the valley bifurcates. One
branch runs northward towards Uch, and, turning
again to the west, ultimately leads to the Panjkora
River and beyond to the great valley of Nawagai.
\ For some distance along this branch, lies the road
to Chitral, and along it the Malakand Field Force
, will presently advance against the Mohmands.
The other branch prolongs the valley to the east-
ward. A few miles beyond Chakdara a long spur,
jutting from the southern mountains, blocks the
valley. Round its base the river has cut a channel.
The road passes along a narrow stone causeway be-
tween the river and the spur. Here is the Landakai
position, or, as the tribesmen have for centuries called
it, the " Gate of Swat ". Beyond this gate is Upper
Swat, the ancient, beautiful and mysterious " Ud-
io8 The Malakand Field Force.
yana". This chapter will describe the forcing of
the gate and the expedition to the head of the
The severe fighting at the Malakand and Chak-
dara had shown how formidable was the combina-
tion, which had been raised against the British
among the hill tribes. The most distant and
solitary valleys, the most remote villages, had sent
their armed men to join in the destruction of the
infidels. All the Bajaur tribes had been well repre-
sented in the enemy's ranks. The Bunerwals and
the Utman Khels had risen to a man. All Swat
had been involved. Instead of the two or three
thousand men that had been estimated as the
extreme number, who would follow the Mad
Fakir, it was now known that over 12,000 were in
arms. In consequence of the serious aspect which
the military and political situation had assumed, it
was decided to mobilise a 3rd and Reserve Brigade
composed as follows : —
Commanding — Brigadier-General J. H, Wodehouse, C.B., C.M.G.
2nd Battalion Highland Light Infantry.
ist ,, Gordon Highlanders.
2ist Punjaub Infantry.
2nd Battalion ist Gurkhas.
No. 3 Company Bombay Sappers and Miners.
,, 14 British Field Hospital.
„ 45 Native „
,, I Field Medical Depot.
The fighting of the preceding fortnight had left
significant and terrible marks on the once smihng
landscape. The rice crops were trampled down in
all directions. The ruins of the villages which had
The Gate of Swat. 109
been burned looked from a distance like blots of
ink. The fearful losses which the enemy had
sustained, had made an appreciable diminution, not
of an army, but of a population. In the attacks
upon the Malakand position, about 700 tribesmen
had perished. In the siege of Chakdara, where the
open ground had afforded opportunity to the modern
weapons and Maxim guns, over 2000 had been
killed and wounded. Many others had fallen in the
relief of Chakdara and in the cavalry pursuit. For
days their bodies lay scattered about the country.
In the standing crops, in the ruins of villages, and
among the rocks, festering bodies lay in the blazing
sun, filling the valley with a dreadful smell. To
devour these great numbers of vultures quickly
assembled and disputed the abundant prey with
the odious lizards, which I have mentioned in an
earlier chapter, and which emerged from holes and
corners to attack the corpses. Although every
consideration of decency and health stimulated the
energy of the victors in interring the bodies of
their enemies, it was some days before this task
could be accomplished, and even then, in out-of-the-
way places, there remained a good many, that had
escaped the burying parties.
Meanwhile the punishment that the tribesmen
of the Swat Valley had received, and their heavy
losses, had broken the spirit of many, and several
deputations came to make their submission. The
Lower Swatis surrendered unconditionally, and were
allowed to return to their villages. Of this per-
mission they at once availed themselves, and their
figures could be seen moving about their ruined
no The Malakand Field Force.
homes and endeavouring to repair the damage.
Others sat by the roadside and watched in sullen
despair the steady accumulation of troops in their
valley, which had been the only result of their
appeal to arms.
It is no exaggeration to say, that perhaps half
the tribesmen who attacked the Malakand, had
thought that the soldiers there, were the only troops
that the Sirkar ^ possessed. " Kill these," they had
said, " and all is done." What did they know
of the distant regiments which the telegraph wires
were drawing, from far down in the south of India ?
Little did they realise they had set the world
humming ; that military officers were hurrying
7000 miles by sea and land from England, to the
camps among the mountains ; that long trains were
carrying ammunition, material and supplies from
distant depots to the front ; that astute financiers
were considering in what degree their action had
affected the ratio between silver and gold, or that
sharp politicians were wondering how the outbreak
in Swat might be made to influence the impending
bye-elections. These ignorant tribesmen had no
conception of the sensitiveness of modern civilisa-
tion, which thrills and quivers in every part of its
vast and complex system at the slightest touch.
They only saw the forts and camps on the Mala-
kand Pass and the swinging bridge across the river.
While the people of Lower Swat, deserted by the
Mad Mullah, and confronted with the two brigades,
were completely humbled and subdued, the Upper
Swatis, encouraged by their priests, and, as they
believed, safe behind their gate," assumed a much
^ The Government.
The Gate of Swat.
more independent air. They sent to inquire what
terms the Government would offer, and said they
would consider the matter. Their contumacious atti-
tude, induced the political officers to recommend the
' movement of troops, through their country, to impress
them with the determination and powerof the Sirkar.
The expedition into the Upper Swat Valley was
accordingly sanctioned, and Sir Bindon Blood
- began making the necessary preparations for the
advance. The prospects of further fighting were
eagerly welcomed by the troops, and especially by
those who had arrived too late for the relief of
Chakdara, and had had thus far, only long and
I dusty marches to perform. There was much specu-
[ lation and excitement as to what units would be
\ selected, every one asserting that his regiment was
sure to go ; that it was their turn ; and that if they
were not taken it would be a great shame.
Sir Bindon Blood had however already decided.
He had concentrated a considerable force at Aman-
; dara in view of a possible advance, and as soon as
1 the movement was sanctioned organised the column
\ as follows : —
Commanding — Brigadier-General Meiklejohn.
Royal West Kent Regiment.
24th Punjaub Infantry.
With the following divisional troops : —
loth Field Battery.
No. 7 British^
„ 5 Company Madras Sappers and Miners.
2 Squadrons Guides Cavalry.
4 „ iith Bengal Lancers.
1 1 2 The Malakand Field Force.
This force amounted to an available fighting
strength of 3500 rifles and sabres, with eighteen
guns. Supplies for twelve days were carried, and
the troops proceeded on " the 80 lb. scale " of bag-
gage, which means, that they did not take tents,
and a few other comforts and conveniences.
Before the force started, a sad event occurred.
On the 1 2th of August, Lieut.-Colonel J. Lamb,
who had been wounded on the night of the 26th of
July, died. An early amputation might have
saved his life ; but this was postponed in the ex-
pectation that the Rontgen Rays, would enable the
bullet to be extracted. The Rays arrived from
India after some delay. When they reached
Malakand, the experiment was at once made. It
was found, however, that the apparatus had been
damaged in coming up, and no result was obtained.
Meanwhile, mortification had set in, and the gallant
soldier died on the Sunday, from the effects of an
amputation, which he was then too weak to stand.
His thigh bone had been completely shattered by
the bullet. He had seen service in Afghanistan
and the Zhob Valley and had been twice mentioned
On the 14th Sir Bindon Blood joined the special
force, and moved it on the i6th to Thana, a few
miles further up the valley. At the same time he
ordered Brigadier-General Wodehouse, to detach a
small column in the direction of the southern passes
of Buner. The Highland Light Infantry, No. 3
Company Bombay Sappers and Miners, and one
squadron of the lOth Bengal Lancers accordingly
marched from Mardan, where the 3rd Brigade then
The Gate of Swat. 1 1 3
was, to Rustum. By this move they threatened the
Bunerwals and distracted their attention from the
Upper Swat Valley. Having thus weakened the
enemy, Sir Bindon Blood proceeded to force the
.''Gate of Swat".
On the evening of the i6th, a reconnaissance by
the nth Bengal Lancers, under Major Beatson,
revealed the fact, that the Landakai position was
strongly held by the enemy. Many standards
were displayed, and on the approach of the cavalry,
shots were fired all along the line. The squadron
I retired at once, and reported the state of affairs.
The general decided to attack at daybreak.
At 6'30 A.M. on the 17th, the cavalry moved off,
and soon came in contact with the tribesmen in
! some Buddhist ruins near a village, called Jalala.
A skirmish ensued. Meanwhile the infantry were
j approaching. The main position of the enemy
j was displayed. All along the crest of the spur of
Landakai could be seen a fringe of standards, dark
against the sky. Beneath them the sword blades
of the tribesmen glinted in the sunlight. A long
line of stone sungars crowned the ridge, and behind
the enemy clustered thickly. It is estimated that
! over 5000 were present.
I It is not difficult to realise, what a strong posi-
i tion this was. On the left of the troops, was an
I unfordable river. On their right the mountains
I rose steeply. In front was the long ridge held by
i the enemy. The only road up the valley was
along the causeway, between the ridge, and the
river. To advance further, it was necessary to dis-
\ lodge the enemy from the ridge. Sir Bindon
114 The Malakand Field Force.
Blood rode forward, reconnoitred the ground, and
made his dispositions.
To capture the position by a frohtal attack
would involve heavy loss. The enemy were
strongly posted, and the troops would be exposed
to a heavy fire in advancing. On the other hand,
if the ridge could once be captured, the destruction
of the tribesmen was assured. Their position
was good, only as long as they held it. The
moment of defeat would be the moment of ruin.
The reason was this. The ground behind the ridge
was occupied by swampy rice fields, and the enemy
could only retire very slowly over it. Their safe
line of retreat lay up the spur, and on to the main
line of hills. They were thus formed with their line
of retreat in prolongation of their front. This is, of
course, tactically one of the worst situations that
people can get into.
Sir Bindon Blood, who knew what the ground
behind the ridge was like, perceived at once how
matters stood, and made his plans accordingly. He
determined to strike at the enemy's left, thus not
only turning their flank, but cutting off their proper
line of retreat. If once his troops held the point,
where the long ridge ran into the main hills, all the
tribesmen who had remained on the ridge would be
caught. He accordingly issued orders as follows : —
The Royal West Kent were to mask the front
and occupy the attention of the enemy. The rest
of the infantry, vis., 24th and 31st Punjaub Infantry
and the 45th Sikhs, were to ascend the hills to the
right, and deliver a flank attack on the head of the
ridge. The cavalry were to be held in readiness to
The Gate of Swat. 115
dash forward along the causeway — to repair which
a company of sappers was posted — as soon as the
enemy were driven off the ridge which commanded
it, and pursue them across the rice fields into the
open country beyond. The whole of the powerful
artillery was to come into action at once.
The troops then advanced. The Royal West Kent
Regiment began the fight, by driving some of the
enemy from the Buddhist ruins on a small spur in
advance of the main position. The loth Field
Battery had been left in rear in case the guns might
stick in the narrow roads near Thana village. It
had, however, arrived safely, and now trotted up,
and at 8-50 A.M. opened fire on the enemy's position
and at a stone fort, which they occupied strongly.
A few minutes later No. 7 Mountain Battery came
into action from the spur, which the Royal West
Kent had taken. A heavy artillery fire thus pre-
pared the way for the attack. The great shells of
the Field Artillery astounded the tribesmen, who
had never before witnessed the explosion of a
twelve-pound projectile. The two mountain bat-
teries added to their discomfiture. Many fled
during the first quarter of an hour of the bombard-
ment. All the rest took cover on the reverse slope
and behind their sungars.
Meanwhile the flank attack was developing.
General Meiklejohn and his infantry were climbing
up the steep hillside, and moving steadily towards
the junction of the ridge, with the main hill. At
length the tribesmen on the spur perceived the
danger, that was threatening them. They felt the
grip on their line of retreat. They had imagined
1 1 6 The Malakand Field Force.
that the white troops would try and force their path
along the causeway, and had massed considerable
reserves at the lower end of the ridge. All these
now realised, that they were in great danger of being
cut off. They were on a peninsula, as it were,
while the soldiers were securing the isthmus. They
accordingly began streaming along the ridge to-
wards the left, at first with an idea of meeting
the flank attack, but afterwards, as the shell fire
grew hotter, and the musketry increased, only in the
hope of retreat. Owing to the great speed with
which the mountaineers move about the hills, most
of them were able to escape before the flank attack
could cut them off. Many, however, were shot
down as they fled, or were killed by the artillery
fire. A few brave men charged the 31st Punjaub
Infantry, but were all destroyed.
Seeing the enemy in full flight. Sir Bindon Blood
ordered the Royal West Kent to advance against
the front of the now almost deserted ridge. The
British infantry hurrying forward climbed the
steep hill and captured the stone sungars. From
this position they established touch with the flank
attack, and the whole force pursued the flying
tribesmen with long-range fire.
The " Gate of Swat " had been forced. It was
now possible for troops to advance along the cause-
way. This had, however, been broken in various
places by the enemy. The sappers and miners
hastened forward to repair it. While this was
being done, the cavalry had to wait in mad im-
patience, knowing that their chance lay in the
plains beyond. As soon as the road was suffi-
The Gate of Swat. 117
ciently repaired to allow them to pass in single file,
they began struggling along it, and emerged at the
other end of the causeway in twos and threes.
An incident now ensued, which, though it
afforded an opportunity for a splendid act of
courage, yet involved an unnecessary loss of life,
and must be called disastrous. As the cavalry got
clear of the broken ground, the leading horsemen
saw the tribesmen swiftly running towards the hills,
about a mile distant. Carried away by the excite-
ment of the pursuit, and despising the enemy for
their slight resistance, they dashed impetuously
forward in the hope of catching them before they
could reach the hills.
Lieutenant-Colonel Adams, on entering the
plain, saw at once that if he could seize a small
clump of trees near a cemetery, he would be able
to bring effective dismounted fire, to bear on the
retreating tribesmen. He therefore collected as
many men as possible, and with Lieutenant Maclean,
and Lord Fincastle, the Times correspondent, rode in
the direction of these points. Meanwhile Captain
Palmer, who commanded the leading squadron, and
Lieutenant Greaves of the Lancashire Fusiliers,
who was acting war correspondent of the Times of
India, galloped across the rice fields after the enemy.
The squadron, unable to keep up, straggled out in
a long string, in the swampy ground.
At the foot of the hills the ground was firmer,
and reaching this, the two officers recklessly dashed
in among the enemy. It is the spirit that loses the
Empire many lives, but has gained it many battles.
But the tribesmen, who had been outmanoeuvred
1 1 8 The Malakand Field Force.
rather than outfought, turned savagely on their
pursuers. The whole scene was witnessed by the
troops on the ridge. Captain Palmer cut down a
standard-bearer. Another man attacked him. Rais-
ing his arm for a fresh stroke, his wrist was smashed
by a bullet. Another killed his horse. Lieutenant
Greaves, shot through the body, fell at the same
moment to the ground. The enemy closed around
and began hacking him, as he lay, with their swords.
Captain Palmer tried to draw his revolver. At this
moment two sowars got clear of the swampy rice
fields, and at once galloped, shouting, to the rescue,
cutting and slashing at the tribesmen. All would
have been cut to pieces or shot down. The hill-
side was covered with the enemy. The wounded
officers lay at the foot. They were surrounded.
Seeing this Lieutenant-Colonel Adams and Lord
Fincastle, with Lieutenant Maclean and two or
three sowars, dashed to their assistance. At their
charge the tribesmen fell back a little way and
opened a heavy fire. Lord Fincastle's horse was im-
mediately shot and he fell to the ground. Rising,
he endeavoured to lift the wounded Greaves on to
Colonel Adams' saddle, but at this instant a second
bullet struck that unfortunate officer, killing him
instantly. Colonel Adams was slightly, and Lieu-
tenant Maclean mortally, wounded while giving
assistance, and all the horses but two were shot.
In spite of the terrible fire, the body of Lieutenant
Greaves and the other two wounded officers were
rescued and carried to the little clump of trees.
For this gallant feat of arms both the surviving
officers, Colonel Adams and Lord Fincastle, were
The Gate of Swat.
recommended for, and have since received, the
Victoria Cross. It was also officially announced,
that Lieutenant Maclean would have received it,
had he not been killed. There are many, especially
on the frontier, where he was known as a fine
soldier and a good sportsman, who think that the
accident of death should not have been allowed to
interfere with the reward of valour.
The extremes of fortune, which befell Lord Fin-
castle and Lieutenant Greaves, may well claim a
moment's consideration. Neither officer was
employed officially with the force. Both had
travelled up at their own expense, evading and
overcoming all obstacles in an endeavour to see
something of war. Knights of the sword and pen,
they had nothing to offer but their lives, no troops
to lead, no duties to perform, no watchful com-
manding officer to report their conduct. They
played for high stakes, and Fortune, never so
capricious as on the field of battle, dealt to the one
the greatest honour that a soldier can hope for,
as some think, the greatest in the gift of the
Crown, and to the other Death.
The flight of the enemy terminated the action of
Landakai. Thus in a few hours and with hardly
any loss, the " Gate of Swat," which the tribesmen
had regarded as impregnable, had been forced. One
squadron of the Guides cavalry, under Captain Brasier
Creagh, pursuing the enemy had a successful skir-
mish near the village of Abueh, and returned to
camp about 6*30 in the evening.^ During the fight
^ This officer was mentioned in despatches for his skill and
judgment in this affair ; but he is better known on the frontier for
I20 The Malakand Field Force.
about I GOO tribesmen had threatened the baggage
column, but these were but poor-spirited fellows,
for they retired after a short skirmish with two
squadrons of the nth Bengal Lancers, with a loss
of twenty killed and wounded. The total casualties
of the day were as follows : —
Killed — Lieutenant R. T. Greaves, Lanes. Fusiliers.
H. L. S. Maclean, Guides.
Wounded severely — Captain M. E. Palmer, Guides.
Wounded slightly — Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. Adams, Guides.
Native Ranks — Wounded — 5.
Followers — Wounded — 2.
Total Casualties — 11.
It must be remembered, that but for the incident,
which resulted in the deaths of the officers, and
which Sir Bindon Blood described in his official
despatch as an " unfortunate contretemps,'' the total
casualties would have only been seven wounded.
That so strong a position should have been cap-
tured with so little loss, is due, firstly, to the disposi-
tions of the general ; and secondly, to the power
of the artillery which he had concentrated. The
account of the first attempt to storm the Dargai
position on the 20th of October, before it had been
shaken by artillery fire, when the Dorsetshire Regi-
ment suffered severe loss, roused many reflections
among those, who had witnessed the action of Lan-
The next morning, the i8th, the force continued
their march up the valley of the Upper Swat. The
his brilliant reconnaissance towards Mamani, a month later, in
which in spite of heavy loss he succeeded in carrying out General
Hammond's orders and obtained most valuable information.
The Gate of Swat. 121
natives, thoroughly cowed, offered no further opposi-
tion and sued for peace. Their losses at Landakai
were ascertained to have exceeded 500, and they
realised that they had no chance against the regu-
lar troops, when these were enabled to use their
As the troops advanced up the fertile and beauti-
ful valley, all were struck by the numerous ruins of
the ancient Buddhists. Here in former times were
thriving cities, and civilised men. Here, we learn
from Fa-hien,^ were " in all 500 Sangharamas," or
monasteries. At these monasteries the law of hos-
pitality was thus carried out : " When stranger
bhikshus (begging monks) arrive at one of them,
their wants are supplied for three days, after which
they are told to find a resting-place for themselves ".
All this is changed by time. The cities are but
ruins. Savages have replaced the civilised, bland-
looking Buddhists, and the traveller who should
apply for hospitality, would be speedily shown
^ "a resting-place," which would relieve his hosts
from further trouble concerning him.
" There is a tradition," continues the intrepid
monk, who travelled through some of the wildest
countries of the earth in the darkest ages of its his-
tory, " that when Buddha came to North India, he
came to this country, and that he left a print of his
foot, which is long or short according to the ideas
of the beholder." Although the learned Fa-hien
asserts that " it exists, and the same thing is true
about it at the present day," the various cavalry
^ Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms. Translated by James Legge,
122 The Malakand Field Force.
reconnaissances failed to discover it, and we must
regretfully conclude that it has also been obliterated
by the tides of time. Here too, says this Buddhis-
tic Baedeker, is still to be seen the rock on which
" He dried His clothes ; and the place where He
converted the wicked dragon (Naga)". " The rock
is fourteen cubits high and more than twenty broad,
with one side of it smooth." This may well be be-
lieved ; but there are so many rocks of all dimensions
that the soldiers were unable to make certain which
was the scene of the dragon's repentance, and
His companions went on ahead towards Jellala-
bad, or some city in that locality, but Fa-hien,
charmed with the green and fertile beauties of
" the park," remained in the pleasant valley and
" kept the summer retreat ". Then he descended
into the land of So-hoo-to, which is perhaps Buner.
Even in these busy, practical, matter-of-fact,
modern times, where nothing is desirable unless
economically sound, it is not unprofitable for a
moment to raise the veil of the past, and take a
glimpse of the world as it was in other days. The
fifth century of the Christian era was one of the
most gloomy and dismal periods in the history of
mankind. The Great Roman Empire was collaps-
ing before the strokes of such as Alaric the Goth,
Attila the Hun, and Genseric the Vandal. The
art and valour of a classical age had sunk in that
deluge of barbarism, which submerged Europe.
The Church was convulsed by the Arian controversy.
That pure religion, which it should have guarded,
was defiled with the blood of persecution and de-
The Gate of Swat. 123
graded by the fears of superstition. Yet, while all
these things afflicted the nations of the West, and
seemed to foreshadow the decline or destruction of
the human species, the wild mountains of Northern
India, now over-run by savages more fierce than
those who sacked Rome, were occupied by a placid
people, thriving, industrious, and intelligent; devoting
their lives to the attainment of that serene annihila-
tion, which the word nirvana expresses. When we
reflect on the revolutions which time effects, and
observe how the home of learning and progress
changes as the years pass by, it is impossible to
avoid the conclusion, perhaps a mournful one, that
the sun of civilisation can never shine all over the
world at once.
On the 19th, the force reached Mingaora, and
here for five days they waited in an agreeable camp,
to enable Major Deane to receive the submission
of the tribes. These appeared much humbled by
their defeats, and sought to propitiate the troops
by bringing in supplies of grain and forage. Over
800 arms of different descriptions, were surrendered
during the halt. A few shots were fired into the
camp on the night of the arrival at Mingaora,
but the villagers, fearing lest they should suffer,
turned out and drove the " snipers " away. On the
2 1st a reconnaissance as far as the Kotke Pass
afforded much valuable information as to the
nature of the country. All were struck with the
beauty of the scenery, and when on the 24th the
force marched back to Barikot, they carried away
with them the memory of a beautiful valley, where
the green of the rice fields, was separated from the
124 The Malakand Field Force.
blue of the sky by the glittering snow peaks of the
While the troops rested at Barikot, Sir Bindon
Blood personally reconnoitred the Karakar Pass,
which leads from the Swat Valley into the country
of the Bunerwals. The Buner\vals belong to the
Yusaf section, of the Yusafzai tribe. They are
a warlike and turbulent people. To their valley,
after the suppression of the Indian Mutiny, many
of the Sepoys and native officers who had been in
revolt fled for refuge. Here, partly by force and
partly by persuasion, they established themselves.
They married women of the country and made
a settlement. In 1863 the Bunerwals came into
collision with the British Government and much
severe fighting ensued, known to histor^^- as the
Ambe}'la Campaign. The refugees from India
renewed their quarrel with the white troops with
eagerness, and by their extraordinary courage and
ferocity gained the name of the " Hindustani
Fanatics ''. At the cost of thirty-six officers and
eight hundred men Buner was subdued. The " Crag
Picket" was taken for the last time by the lOist
Fusiliers, and held till the end of the operations.
Elephants, brought at great expense from India,
trampled the crops. Most of the Hindustani
Fanatics " perished in the fighting. The Buner-
wals accepted the Government terms, and the troops
retired. Since then, in 1868, in 1877 and again in
1884 they raided border villages, but on the threat
of an expedition paid a fine and made good the
damage. The reputation they have enjoyed since
their stout resistance in 1863, has enabled them to
The Gate of Swat.
take a leading position among the frontier tribes ;
and they have availed themselves of this to foment
and aggravate several outbreaks against the British.
Their black and dark-blue clothes had distinguished
them from the other assailants of Malakand and
Chakdara. They had now withdrawn to their
valley and thence defied the Government and
refused all terms.
J,. As Sir Bindon Blood and his escort approached
^ the top of the pass, a few shots were fired by the
watchers there, but there was no opposition. All
the Bunerwals had hurried over to defend the
southern entrances to their country, which they
conceived were in danger of attack from Brigadier-
General Wodehouse's force at Rustum. The
general reached the Kotal, and saw the whole
valley beneath him. Great villages dotted the
[ plains and the aspect was fertile and prosperous.
The unguarded Karakar Pass was practicable
for troops, and if the Government would give
their consent, Buner might be reduced in a fort-
night without difficulty, almost without fighting.
Telegrams were despatched to India on the
H subject, and after much delay and hesitation the
Viceroy decided against the recommendation of his
victorious general. Though the desirability of
settling with the Bunerwals was fully admitted, the
Government shrank from the risk. The Malakand
Field Force thus remained idle for nearly a fort-
night. The news, that the Sirkar had feared to
attack Buner, spread like wildfire along the frontier,
and revived the spirits of the tribes. They fancied
y they detected a sign of weakness. Nor were they
126 The Malakand Field Force.
altogether wrong. But the weakness was moral
rather than physical.
It is now asserted, that the punishment of Buner
is only postponed, and that a few months may see
its consummation.^ The opportunity of entering
the country without having to force the passes may
not, however, recur.
On the 26th of August the force returned to
Thana, and the expedition into Upper Swat
' Written in 1897.
2 The following is the most trustworthy estimate obtainable of
loss of life among the tribesmen in the fighting in the Swat
Valley from 26th July to 17th August. The figures include
wounded, who have since died, and are more than double those
killed outright in the actions : —
Buried in the
Lower Swat Pathans
Buner proper -
Utman Khel -
I, 2 and 3 are the result of recent inquiry on the spot.
4, 5 and 6 are estimates based on native information.
The proportion of killed and died of wounds to wounded would
be very high, as the tribes have little surgical or medical
knowledge and refused all offers of aid. Assuming that only an
equal number were wounded and recovered, the total loss would
be approximately 4000. A check is obtained by comparing these
figures with the separate estimates for each action : —
Siege of Chakdara . . . _ 2000
Relief,, ,, 500
Action of Landakai . . . . 500
Total — 3700.
THE ADVANCE AGAINST THE MOHMANDS.
Causes of the Expedition — Summary of the Action of Shabkadr —
The Forces Employed — General Plan of the Operations —
Advance of the Malakand Field Force — The Passage of the
Panjkora — Political Aspect of the Country.
The beginning of this chapter must mark a change
in the standpoint from which the story is told.
Hitherto the course of events has been recorded
in the impersonal style of history. But henceforward
I am able to rely on my own memory as well as
on other people's evidence.^ It may be doubtful
whether an historical record gains or loses value
when described by an eye-witness. From the per-
sonal point of view, all things appear in a gradual
perspective, according to the degree in which they
affect the individual ; and we are so prone to exag-
gerate the relative importance of incidents, which
we see, over those we hear about, that what the
narrative gains in accuracy of detail, it may lose in
^ I do not desire to bore the reader or depreciate the story by
the introduction of personal matters. It will be sufficient if, in the
interests of coherency, I explain my connection with the Malakand
Field Force. Having realised, that if a British cavalry officer waits
till he is ordered on active service, he is likely to wait a consider-
able time, I obtained six weeks' leave of absence from my regiment,
and on the 2nd of September arrived at Malakand as press corre-
spondent of the Pioneer and Daily Telegraph, and in the hope of
being sooner or later attached to the force in a military capacity.
The Malakand Field Force.
justness of proportion. In so nice a question I
shall not pronounce. I remember that the original
object with which this book was undertaken, was to
present a picture of the war on the North-West
Frontier to the Englishmen at home ; a picture
which should not only exist, but be looked at ; and
I am inclined to think, that this end will be more
easily attained by the adoption of a style of per-
sonal narrative. Many facts, too local, too special-
ised, too insignificant, for an historical record, and
yet which may help the reader to form a true im-
pression of the scene and situation, are thus brought
within the compass of these pages. The account
becomes more graphic, if less imposing, more vivid
if less judicial. As long as each step down from the
" dignity of history," is accompanied by a corre-
sponding increase of interest, we may pursue without
compunction that pleasant, if descending, path.
The ninth chapter also introduces a new phase
of the operations of the force. The Mohmands
now become the enemy and the scene is changed
from Swat to Bajaur. Before marching into their
country, it will be desirable to consider briefly those
causes and events, which induced the Government
of India, to despatch an expedition against this
powerful and warlike tribe.
The tidal wave of fanaticism, which had swept
the frontier, had influenced the Mohmands, as all
other border peoples. Their situation was, how-
ever, in several important respects, different from
that of the natives of the Swat Valley. These
Mohmands had neither been irritated nor inter-
fered with in any way. No military road ran
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 129
through their territory. No fortified posts stirred
their animosity or threatened their independence.
Had they respected in others the isolation, which
they themselves have so long enjoyed, they might
have remained for an indefinite period in that state
of degraded barbarism, which seems to appeal
so strongly to certain people in England. They
became, however, the aggressors.
In the heart of the wild and dismal mountain
region, in which these fierce tribesmen dwell, are the
temple and village of Jarobi : the one a consecrated
hovel, the other a fortified slum. This obscure and
undisturbed retreat was the residence of a priest of
great age and of peculiar holiness, known to fame as
the Hadda Mullah. His name is Najb-ud-din,
but as respect has prevented it being mentioned
by the tribesmen for nearly fifty years, it is only
preserved in infidel memories and records. The
Government of India have, however, had this man's
personality brought vividly before them on several
occasions. About thirteen years ago he quarrelled
with the Amir and raised the Mohmands against
him. The Amir replied by summoning his re-
bellious subject — for Hadda, the Mullah's home and
birthplace, is a village of Afghanistan — to answer
for his conduct at Cabul. But the crafty priest, who
was well acquainted with Afghan legal procedure,
declined the invitation, and retired to the independent
Mohmand territory, where he has lived ever since.
Content with thus inflicting the punishment of
exile, the Amir was disposed to forget the offence.
In a letter to his Commander-in-Chief, the " Sipah
Salar," a great friend of the Mullah, he described
130 The Malakand Field Force.
him as a light of Islam ". So powerful a light,
indeed, he did not desire to have in his own
dominions ; but across the border it was fitting that
respect should be shown to so holy a man. He
therefore directed his officials to cherish and honour
him. Thus he retained a powerful weapon — to be
used when desirable. Whether by instigation or
from personal motives, the Hadda Mullah has long
been a bitter foe to the British power. In 1895 he
sent the fighting men of the Mohmands to resist
the Chitral Relief Force. Since then he has been
actively engaged, by preaching and by correspon-
dence with other Mullahs, in raising a great com.-
bination against the advancing civilisation.
In 1896 he terminated a long religious contro-
versy with the Manki Mullah of Nowshera and
Spinkhara — a comparatively tame Mullah, who now
supports the Indian Government — by publishing a
book setting forth his views, and demolishing those
of his antagonist. This work was printed in
Delhi and had an extensive sale among Mahom-
medans all over India. Complimentary copies
were sent to the " Sipah Salar" and other Afghan
notabilities, and the fame of the Hadda Mullah was
known throughout the land. Besides increasing his
influence, his literary success stimulated his efforts.
While the Mad Fakir was rousing Swat and
Buner, this powerful priest incited the Mohmands.
Though he was known to be a physical coward, his
sanctity and the fact that he was their own particular
holy man, not less than his eloquence, powerfully
moved this savage tribe. A Jehad ^dj^ proclaimed.
How long should Islam be insulted ? How long
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 131
!| should its followers lurk in the barren lands of the
North ? He urged them to rise and join in the
destruction of the white invaders. Those who fell
should become saints ; those who lived would be rich,
jj for these Kafirs had money and many other things
ij besides, for which a true believer might find a use.
Ij The combined allurements of plunder and para-
[j dise proved irresistible. On the 8th of August a
; great gathering, nearly 6000 strong, crossed the
frontier line, invaded British territory, burned the
village of Shankargarh, and attacked the fort of
Shabkadr. This place is an advanced post in
the defensive system of the frontier, and is situated
some nineteen miles to the north-west of Peshawar.
Its ordinary garrison consists of about fifty Border
Police. It is strongly built, and is intended to
attract the attention and delay the advance of a
raiding-party, until the Peshawar garrison has
had time to take the field. Both of these objects
it admirably fulfilled in this case.
As soon as the news of the incursion of the Moh-
mands was received in Peshawar, a flying column
was mobilised and proceeded under the command
of Lieut. -Colonel J. B. Woon, 20th Punjaub In-
fantry, in the direction of the fort. At dawn on
the 9th of August they found the tribesmen in
force in a strong position near Shabkadr. The
force at Colonel Woon's disposal was small. It
consisted of: —
4 Guns 51st Field Battery.
2 Squadrons 13th Bengal Lancers - - 151 lances.
2 Companies Somersetshire Light Infantry 186 rifles.
20th Punjaub Infantry .... ^00 ,,
132 The Malakand Field Force.
A total of about 750 men. The enemy numbered
6000. Nevertheless it was decided to attack at once.
As the action which followed is but remotely
connected with the fortunes of the Malakand Field
Force, I do not intend to describe it in detail. The
infantry in advancing could only attack on a front
of 600 yards. The enemy's line, being much
longer, quickly turned both flanks. The fire be-
came severe. Numerous casualties occurred. A
retirement was ordered. As is usual in Asiatic
warfare, it was considerably pressed. The situa-
tion at about nine o'clock appeared critical. At
this point Brigadier-General Elles, commandmg
the Peshawar District, arrived on the field. He
immediately ordered the two squadrons of the
13th Bengal Lancers, to move well to the right
flank, to charge across the front and check the
enemy's advance. The "cease fire" sounded as
on a field day. Then there was a pause. The
movements of the cavalry were concealed from
most of the troops, but suddenly all noticed the
slackening of the enemy's fire. Then the tribes-
men were seen to be in retreat and disorder.
The power of cavalry had been strikingly dis-
played. The two squadrons, ably led, had exe-
cuted a fine charge over what theorists would call
impossible ground for a distance of one and a
half miles along the bed of a great nullah, and
among rocks and stones that reduced the pace to a
trot. The enemy were driven from the field. Sixty
were actually speared by the Lancers, and the rest
retreated in gloom and disorder to their hills across
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 133
The casualties were as follows : —
Wounded severely — Major A. Lumb, Somersetshire Light
„ Captain S. W. Blacker, R.A.
„ „ 2nd Lieut. E. Drummond, Somersetshire
Wounded slightly — Lieut. A. V. Cheyne, 13th Bengal Lancers.
British N.C.O.'s and Soldiers.
51st Field Battery, R. A. 2
Somersetshire Light Infantry - - - 3 9
13th Bengal Lancers . . . - i 12
20th Punjaub Infantry - - - - 5 35
Total casualties, all ranks — 72.
That such an outrage, as the deliberate violation
of British territory by these savages, should remain
unpunished, "Forward Policy" or no Forward
Policy," was of course impossible. Yet the vacilla-
tion and hesitancy which the Government of India
had displayed in the matter of the Bunerwals,and the
shocking and disgraceful desertion of the forts in the
Khyber Pass, were so fresh in all men's minds, that
the order to advance against the Mohmands was re-
ceived with feelings of the greatest relief throughout
the forces. The general plan of the operations as ar-
ranged by the Commander-in-Chief was as follows : —
1. Sir Bindon Blood with two brigades of the Malakand Field
Force and due proportions of cavalry and guns was to move
through South Bajaur to Nawagai, and on the 15th of September
invade the Mohmand country from that place.
2. On the same date Major-General Elles with an equal force
would leave Shabkadr, and entering the mountains march north-
east to effect a junction,
134 The Malakand Field Force.
3. This having been done, the combined forces under the
stipreme command of Sir Bindon Blood would be brought back
through the Mohmands' territories to Shabkadr. Incidentally
they would deal with the Hadda Mullah's village of Jarobi, and
inflict such punishment on the tribesmen as might be necessary
to ensure their submission. The troops would then be available
for the Tirah Expedition, which it had by this time been decided
The fact that after leaving Nawagai, nothing was
known of the configuration of the country, of which
no maps existed ; nor of the suppHes of food, forage
and water available by the way, made the prepara-
tions for, and the execution of, these operations
somewhat difficult. Wide margins had to be
allowed in the matter of rations, and in order to be
prepared for all contingencies and obstructions of
ground. Sir Bindon Blood equipped his 2nd Brigade
entirely with mule transport. The 3rd Brigade with
camels would follow if the road was passable.
The following was the composition of the forces
employed : —
I. Malakand Field Force.
Commanding — Major-General Sir Bindon Blood.
Brigadier-General Jeffreys, C.B.
No, 4 Company (Bengal) Sappers and Miners.
No. 7 Mountain Battery.
The Queen's Regiment.^
22nd Punjaub Infantry.
1 This regiment had replaced the Gordon Highlanders in tht
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 135
39th Punjaub Infantry.
No. 3 Company (Bombay) Sappers and Miners.
No. I Mountain Battery, R.A.
Cavalry — nth Bengal Lancers.
Line of Communications, ist Brigade.
Royal West Kent.
Highland Light Infantry.
31st Punjaub Infantry.
24th ,, ,,
No. 7 British Mountain Battery.
And the following additional troops : —
1 Squadron loth Bengal Lancers.
2 Squadrons Guides Cavalry.
II. The Mohmand Field Force,
ist Battalion Somersetshire Light Infantry.
Maxim Gun Detachment, ist Battalion Devonshire Regiment.
20th Punjaub Infantry.
2nd Battalion ist Gurkhas.
Sections A and B No. 5 British Field Hospital.
Three Sections No. 31 Native ,,
Section A No. 45 ,, ,, „
2nd Battalion Oxfordshire Light Infantry,
gth Gurkha Rifles.
Sections C and D No. 5 British Field Hospital.
No. 44 Native Field Hospital.
13th Bengal Lancers.
No. 3 Mountain Battery, Royal Artillery.
No. 5 (Bombay) Mountain Battery.
No. 5 Company (Bengal) Sappers and Miners.
28th Bombay Pioneers.
ist Patiala Infantry.
Sections C and D No. 63 Native Field Hospital.
136 The Malakand Field Force.
To record the actual movements of troops in a
campaign, is among the most important duties of
one who undertakes to tell its tale. For the sake
of clearness, of brevity, and that the reader who is
not interested may find convenience in skipping, I
shall at once describe the whole of the marches and
manoeuvres, by which Sir Bindon Blood moved his
brigades across the Panjkora River, and after the
Malakand Field Force is safely camped at Ghosam,
the reader will be invited to return to examine the
scenery, and remark the incidents of the way.
During the end of August, the 2nd Brigade,
equipped with mule transport, was at Khar in the
Swat Valley. The 3rd Brigade was at Uch. On
the 2nd of September, definite orders to advance
were received from Simla. In pursuance of these
instructions, Sir Bindon Blood ordered Brigadier-
General Wodehouse with the 3rd Brigade, which in
anticipation had been moved from Uch a few days
previously, to take over the bridge across the Panj-
kora from the Khan of Dir's Levies, and secure the
passage. On the 6th, the 3rd Brigade marched
from Sarai to Panjkora, and obtained possession
of the bridge just in time to prevent it falHng into
the hands of the enemy, who had already gathered
to seize it. The 12-pounder guns of the lOth Field
Battery, were placed in a strong position command-
ing the passage, and the brigade camped on the
left bank. On the same day, Brigadier-General
Jeffreys with headquarters marched from Khar, to
Chakdara. On the 7th he proceeded to Sarai,
and on the 8th effected the passage of the Panj-
kora, and camped on the further bank at Kotkai.
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 137
On the loth, both brigades marched to Ghosam,
where they concentrated. On the Hne of communi-
cations to the Malakand, stages were estabhshed at
Ciiakdara and Sarai, with accommodation for sick
and wounded. An advanced depot was formed
behind the Panjkora, to guard which and to hold
the passage, an additional force was moved from the
This concentration at Ghosam, of which the
details had worked out so mechanically, had been
necessitated by the attitude of the tribesmen of
Bajaur and the adjoining valleys. Great gather-
ings had collected, and up to the 7th of September,
there had been every sign of determined opposition.
So formidable did the combination appear, that
Sir Bindon Blood arranged to have at his disposal
a force of six squadrons, nine battalions and three
batteries, in the expectation of an action at or near
Ghosam, which would perhaps have been on a
larger scale than any British engagement since
These anticipations were however doomed to dis-
appointment. The methodical, remorseless advance
of powerful forces filled the tribesmen with alarm.
They made a half-hearted attempt to capture the
Panjkora bridge, and finding themselves forestalled,
fell again to discussing terms. In this scene of in-
decision the political officers employed all their arts.
And then suddenly the whole huge combination,
^ As so many misconceptions exist as to the British casualties
in this victory, it is necessary to state that in the twenty minutes'
fighting II officers and 43 men were killed and 22 officers and 320
men were wounded.
138 The Malakand Field Force.
which had been raised in our path, collapsed as an
iceberg, when southern waters have melted its base.
Whatever the philanthropist may say, it would
appear to have been better policy, to have en-
couraged the tribesmen to oppose the advance in
the open, on some well-defined position. Had they
done so, there can be no doubt that the two fine
brigades, backed by a powerfiil artillery, and under
a victorious commander, who knew and had fought
over every inch of the ground, would have defeated
them with severe loss. Bajaur would have been
settled at a single blow and probably at a far less
cost in lives than was afterwards incurred. Instead
of this, it was the aim of our diplomacy to dissipate
the opposition. The inflammation, which should
have been brought to a head and then operated on,
was now dispersed throughout the whole system,
with what results future chapters will show.
Having thus brought the brigades peacefully to
Ghosam, I ask the reader to return to the Malakand
and ride thence with the Headquarter Staff along
the line of march. On the 5th of September, Sir
Bindon Blood and his staff, which I had the
pleasure to accompany, started from the Kotal
Camp and proceeded across the plain of Khar to
Chakdara. Here we halted for the night, and as
the scenery and situation of this picturesque fort
have already been described, the march may be
continued without delay next morning. From
Chakdara to Sarai, is a stage of twelve miles. The
road runs steadily up the valley until the summit
of the Catgalla Pass is reached. " Catgalla " means
" Cut-throat," and indeed, it is not hard to believe
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 139
that this gloomy defile has been the scene of dark and
horrid deeds. Thence a descent of two miles leads to
Sarai. On the way, we fell in with the 2nd Brigade,
and had to leave the road to avoid the long lines of
mules and marching men, who toiled along it.
The valley at Sarai is about two miles wide, and
the mountains rise steeply from it. On every ridge
it is possible to distinguish the red brick ruins
which were the dwellings of the ancient Buddhists.
These relics of an early civilisation, long since over-
thrown and forgotten, cannot fail to excite interest
and awaken reflection. They carry the mind back
to the times " when the smoke of sacrifice rose from
the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers
bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre". And they
also lead us to speculations of the future, till we
wonder whether the traveller shall some day in-
spect, with unconcerned composure, the few scraps
of stone and iron, which may indicate the British
occupation of India. Few indeed, the remains
would be — for we build for immediate use, not
future ostentation in these days, and if we should
ever cease to be a force in the world, all traces of
us would soon be obliterated by time. Yet, perhaps,
if that unborn critic of remote posterity would re-
member that " in the days of the old British," the
rice crop had been more abundant, the number
of acres under cultivation greater, the population
larger and the death rate lower, than at any period
in the history of India — we should not be without
a monument more glorious than the pyramids.
We camped with the 2nd Brigade on the night
of the 6th, and next morning, while the stars were
140 The Malakand Field Force.
still shining, resumed the march. Five miles from
Sarai the road dwindles to a mule track, and hence-
forward is not fit for wheeled traffic. In spite of
this, the loth Field Battery had succeeded in
getting their guns along it, and had brought them
safely to Panjkora. But soldiers will accomplish
a good deal to get nearer the enemy. The scenery
before the gorge of the river is reached is gloomy,
but grand. Great cliffs tower up precipitously on the
further bank and the path is cut in the face of the
rock. The river, which flows swiftly by, plunges into
a narrow cleft about a mile below the bridge, and dis-
appears among the mountains. It abounds in fish,
but is rapid and dangerous, and, while the troops
were encamped near it, two gunners lost their lives
by falling in, and being carried down. Indeed, watch-
ing the dead bodies of several camels being swept
along, swirled around, and buffeted against the rocks,
it was not hard to understand these accidents.
At length the bridge is reached. It is a frail
structure, supported on wire ropes. At each end
are gates, flanked by little mud towers. The
battery was established on a knoll to the right, and
the long muzzles of the guns, peered through stone
embrasures at the opposite hills. It was round the
bases of these hills, that much hard fighting took
place in the Chitral campaign. About half a mile
beyond the bridge, I was shown the place where
the Guides had been so hard pressed, and for a
whole night, had had to stand at bay, their colonel
killed, the bridge broken, and the river in flood,
against the tribesmen in overwhelming numbers.
The field telegraph stopped at the bridge-
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 141
head, and a small tent with a half-dozen military
operators, marked the breaking of the slender
thread, that connected us across thousands of miles
of sea and land, with London. Henceforward a line
of signal stations with their flickering helios would
be the only links. We were at the end of the wire.
I have often stood at the other and watched the
tape machine click off the news as it arrives ; the
movements of the troops ; the prospects of action ;
the fighting ; the casualties. How different are
the scenes. The club on an autumn evening — its
members grouped anxiously around, discussing,
wondering, asserting ; the noise of the traffic out-
side ; the cigarette smoke and electric lights within.
And, only an hour away along the wire, the field,
with the bright sunlight shining on the swirling
muddy waters ; the black forbidding rocks ; the
white tents of the brigade a mile up the valley ;
the long streak of vivid green rice crop by the
river ; and in the foreground the brown-clad armed
men. I can never doubt which is the right end to
be at. It is better to be making the news than
taking it ; to be an actor rather than a critic.
To cross the bridge, it was necessary to dismount
and lead the horses over in single file. Even
then the swinging of the whole structure made it
difficult to walk. The passage of the transport
under such conditions occupied all the day, and
the unfortunate officers in charge of the mule
trains were working incessantly. The staff passed
quickly, however, and riding on about a mile forded
the tributary stream of the Jandol, and reached the
camp at Kotkai about noon. Thence we pro-
142 The Malakand Field Force.
ceeded on the following day to Ghosam, but as the
road is uninteresting, and I am beginning to think
the reader will readily excuse further description,
we need not toil along it in the dust and the heat.
The narration of the daily movements of troops,
unmarked by variety of incident, is dull and weary-
ing. Yet he who would obtain a true idea of the
soldier's life on service, must mentally share the
fatigues of the march and the monotony of the
camp. The fine deeds, the thrilling moments of war,
are but the high lights on a picture, of which the
background is routine, hard work, and discomfort.
At Ghosam the 2nd Brigade remained until
joined by the 3rd and pending negotiations between
the political officers and the tribal Jirgahs.
The use of purely local terms in all writing is to
be deprecated. Perhaps the reason that no popular
history of India exists, is to be found in the out-
landish names of the characters, and the other ex-
pressions with which the pages are sprinkled. In
this account I have zealously tried to avoid the
ugly jargon of a degraded language, and to mini-
mise the use of native names. The term just
employed has, however, been so freely used in the
newspapers recently, that it is perhaps as well to
explain its meaning. A Jirgah is a deputa-
tion of tribesmen. It does not necessarily
represent the tribe. It may present — and very
often does — a minority report. Occasionally it
expresses the opinion only of its own members.
What has been settled one day is therefore very
often overruled the next. The Jirgah may accept
terms of peace in the morning, and the camp
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 143
may be rushed that night. These were, however,
genuine, and spoke in the name, and with the
authority of the tribes. All day they kept arriving
and squatting in rows before Major Deane's tent, to
hear the Government terms. The chief condition
imposed, was the surrender of rifles. A fixed num-
ber, based on calculation of wealth and population,
was demanded from each clan. This method of
punishment is peculiarly galling to a people, whose
life is so full of war. No other course was, however,
open but submission, and, promising that the terms
should be complied with, the deputations departed.
To stimulate their efforts and zeal in collecting their
arms, the combined movements were delayed for
three days, and the forces remained encamped at
Ghosam, near Manda.
I avail myself of this halt to touch, albeit with no
little trepidation, the tangled and obscure subject of
tribal politics in Dir and Bajaur. All the people,
incited by their priests, are bitterly hostile to the
British Government, except those benefited by the
subsidies paid. They were now anxious to fight,
and were only restrained by a fear, which fury or
fanaticism, might at any moment overcome. Four
principal khans, exercise an authority which varies
locally, from absolute dominion to a shadowy suze-
rainty, over the whole region. The Khan of Dir, the
most important, is a Government nominee. He is
supported by the British influence, and is, as I have
already noticed, entrusted with the raising of Levies
to protect and keep in repair the Chitral road. For
these services he receives pay, and a certain allow-
ance of arms, and ammunition. His own subjects
144 The Malakand Field Force.
are strongly opposed to his rule from dislike of his
British sympathies, and he only maintains himself
by the assistance, which the Government gives him
in arms and money. In other words he is a pup-
The Khan of Nawagai is constrained by fear, to
display a friendly attitude towards the Sirkar. His
subjects resent this and his position is insecure.
He receives some moral support from the British
agents, and as his people are uncertain how far the
Government would go to uphold him, and also as
they partly realise his difficult position, they have
hitherto submitted sullenly to his rule.
The position and attitude of the Khan of Jar are
similar, but he is a less influential chief The fourth
potentate, the Khan of Khar, is perhaps the most
honest and trustworthy. He will appear in a later
chapter, and the reader will have the opportunity
of judging of his character from his conduct. Thus
in these valleys, while the people are all hostile,
their rulers find it expedient to preserve a friendly
demeanour to the British, and for this they are hated
by their subjects.
At this stage, the leader of the popular party
claims attention. As is usual, he is out of office.
After the Chitral expedition of 1895, Umra Khan
was expelled from his territories, and escaped to
Cabul. There he has remained. The Amir is
under an obligation to the British Government to
prevent his raising trouble in Bajaur. If the
Amir desired war he would send Umra Khan back.
This would create a strong faction throughout the
whole country — but particularly in the Jandol,
The Advance Against the Mohmands. 145
Salarzai and Mamund Valleys — hostile to the
British and the friendly khans. The Amir hinted
at this in a recent letter to the Government of
India ; and such a step would probably precede his
declaration of war, or follow ours. The Afghan
sovereign is, however, well aware that he has at
present nothing to gain, and many things to lose, by
provoking a war with the great power, which gave
him his throne and has since increased his revenue
by subsidies. In the meanwhile, anxious to pre-
serve his influence with the border tribes, and to
impress the Indian Government with the fact that
he could be a powerful foe, he keeps Umra Khan
as a trump card, to be played when the occasion
arises. That he may maintain his authority in
Bajaur, the exiled khan is well supplied with
funds, with which to arm and pay his retainers.
The situation, I have thus briefly described, has
been little altered by the operations, with which
future chapters are concerned. The friendly khans
have been fortified in their allegiance and position
by the military demonstration and by the severe
punishment inflicted on, those tribes who resisted.
On the other hand, the hostility of the people has
been not unnaturally increased by war, and one
tribe in particular has gained a reputation for
courage, which will give them the power to cause
trouble in the future. I shall not, however, antici-
pate the tale.
The Jandul Valley — The Seven Khans — Frontier Diplomacy —
Barwa — An Afghan Napoleon — Unpractical Reflections —
Under the Chcnars — The Arms Question — Its Significance —
The Utman Khel Passes — A Virgin Valley — A Successful
"Bluff"— The Camp at Night.
While the infantry of both brigades remained
halted at Ghosam, near Manda, the cavalry made
daily reconnaissances in all directions. Sometimes
the object in view was topographical, sometimes
military, and at others diplomatic, or to use the
Indian application of the term, "political".
On the loth, Major Deane visited the various
chiefs in the Jandol Valley. I asked and obtained
permission to accompany him. A change from the
hot and dusty camp was agreeable to all who could
be spared, and quite a party was formed, among
whom were some, whose names have occurred
previously in these pages — Major Beatson, Major
Hobday, and Lord Fincastle. A squadron of the
nth Bengal Lancers acted as escort.
The valley of the Jandul is about eight miles
long and perhaps half as broad. It opens out of the
main valley which extends from the Panjkora to
Nawagai, and is on all other sides surrounded by
high and precipitous mountains. The bed of the
river, although at the time of our visit occupied only
by a small stream, is nearly half a mile broad and
bordered by rice fields, to which the water is con-
ducted by many artfully contrived dykes and con-
I duits. The plain itself is arid and sandy, but at the
winter season yields a moderate crop. The presence
of water below the surface is attested by numerous
groves of chenar trees.
This valley may, in natural and political features,
be taken as typical of the Afghan valleys. Seven
separate castles formed the strongholds of seven
separate khans. Some of these potentates had
been implicated in the attack on the Malakand,
and our visit to their fastnesses was not wholly of
an amicable nature. They had all four days before
been bound by the most sacred oaths to fight to the
death. The great tribal combination had, however,
broken up, and at the last moment they had decided
upon peace. But the Pathan does nothing by
halves. No black looks, no sullen reserve, marred
n the geniality of their welcome. As we approached
' the first fortified village the sovereign and his army
rode out to meet us, and with many protestations of
fidelity, expressed his joy at our safe arrival. He
was a fine-looking man and sat well on a stamping
roan stallion. His dress was imposing. A waistcoat
of gorgeous crimson, thickly covered with gold lace,
displayed flowing sleeves of white linen, buttoned
at the wrist. Long, loose, baggy, linen trousers, also
fastened above the ankle, and curiously pointed
shoes clothed his nether limbs. This striking
costume was completed by a small skull-cap, richly
embroidered, and an ornamental sabre.
He sprang from his horse with grace and agility
148 The Malakand Field Force.
to offer his sword to Major Deane, who bade
him mount and ride with him. The army, four or
five rascally-looking men on shaggy ponies, and
armed with rifles of widely different patterns, fol-
lowed at a distance. The fort was an enclosure
about a hundred yards square. Its walls were per-
haps twenty feet high and built of rough stones
plastered together with mud and interspersed with
courses of timber. All along the top was a row of
loopholes. At each corner a tall flanking tower en-
filaded the approaches. At the gate of this warlike
residence some twenty or thirty tribesmen were
gathered, headed by the khan's own cousin, an
elderly man dressed in long white robes. All
saluted us gravely. The escort closed up. A troop
trotted off to the right out of the line of fire of the
fort. The advance scouts, passing round the walls,
formed on the farther side. These matters of de-
tail complied with, conversation began. It was
conducted in Pushtu, and was naturally unintel-
ligible to every one of our party except the two
political officers. Apparently Major Deane re-
proached the two chiefs for their conduct. He ac-
cused them of having seized the bridge across the .
Panjkora and delivered the passage to the fanatic
crowds that had gathered to attack the Malakand. :
This they admitted readily enough. ''Well, why
not ? " said they ; " there was a good fair fight."
Now they would make peace. They bore no
malice, why should the Sirkar?
It was not, however, possible to accept this sports-
manlike view of the situation. They were asked
where were the rifles, they had been ordered to sur-
render. At this they looked blank. There were no
rifles. There never had been any rifles. Let the
soldiers search the fort and see for themselves. The
order was given ; three or four sowars drew their
carbines, dismounted and entered the great and heavy
gate, which had been suspiciously opened a little way.
The gate gave access to a small courtyard, com-
manded on every side by an interior defence. In
front was a large low room of uncertain dimensions :
a kind of guard-house. It simply hummed with
men. The outer walls were nearly five feet thick
and would have resisted the fire of mountain guns.
It was a strong place.
The Lancers, accustomed to the operation of
hunting for arms, hurriedly searched the likely and
usual places, but without success. One thing, how-
ever, they noticed, which they immediately reported.
There were no women and children in the fort. This
had a sinister aspect. Our visit was unexpected and
had taken them by surprise, but they were prepared
for ail emergencies. They had hidden their rifles
and cleared for action.
The two chiefs smiled in superior virtue. Of course
there were no rifles. But matters took, for them, an
unexpected turn. They had no rifles — said Major
Deane — very well, they should come themselves.
He turned to an officer of the Lancers ; a section
rode forward and surrounded both men. Resistance
was useless. Flight was impossible. They were
, prisoners. Yet they behaved with oriental com-
tj posure and calmly accepted the inevitable. They
ordered their ponies and, mounting, rode behind
us under escort.
1 50 The Malakand Field Force.
We pursued our way up the valley. As we
approached each fort, a khan and his retainers
advanced and greeted us. Against these there was
no definite charge, and the relations throughout
were amicable. At the head of the valley is Barwa,
the home of the most powerful of these princelets.
This fort had belonged to Umra Khan, and attested,
by superiority of construction, the intellectual de-
velopment of that remarkable man. After the
Chitral expedition it had been given by the Govern-
ment to its present owner, who, bitterly hated by
the other chieftains of the valley, his near relatives
mostly, had no choice but loyalty to the British.
He received us with courtesy and invited us to
enter and see the fort. This, after taking all
precautions and posting sentries, we did. It was
the best specimen of Afghan architecture I have
seen. In this very fort Lieutenants Fowler and
Edwards were confined in 1895, when the prisoners
of Umra Khan. The new chief showed their room
which opened on a balcony, whence a fine view of
the whole valley could be obtained. There are many
worse places of durance. The fort is carefully
defended and completely commands the various
approaches. Judicious arrangements of loopholes
and towers cover all dead ground. Inside the
walls galleries of brushwood enabled the defenders
to fire without exposing themselves. In the middle
is the keep, which, if Fortune were adverse, would
be the last stronghold of the garrison.
What a strange system of society is disclosed by
all this ! Here was this man, his back against the
mountains, maintaining himself against the rest of
the valley, against all his kin, with the fear of
death and the chances of war ever in his mind, and
holding his own, partly by force of arms, partly
by the support of the British agents, and partly
through the incessant feuds of his adversaries.
It is " all against all," in these valleys. The two
khans, who had been arrested would have fled to the
hills. They knew they were to be punished. Still
they dared not leave their stronghold. A neighbour,
a relation, a brother perhaps, would step into the
unguarded keep and hold it for his own. Every
stone of these forts is blood-stained with treachery ;
each acre of ground the scene of a murder. In Barwa
itself, Umra Khan slew his brother, not in hot anger
or open war, but coldly and deliberately from behind.
Thus he obtained power, and the moralist might
observe with a shudder, that but for the "Forward
Policy " he would probably be in full enjoyment to-
day. This Umra Khan was a man of much talent, a
man intellectually a head and shoulders above his
countrymen. He was a great man, which on the
frontier means that he was a great murderer, and
might have accomplished much with the quick-
firing guns he was negotiating for, and the troops he
was drilling " on the European model ". The career
of this Afghan Napoleon was cut short, however,
by the intervention of Providence in the guise or
disguise of the Indian Government. He might have
been made use of. People who know the frontier
well, say that a strong man who has felt the grip
of the British power, is the best tool to work with,
and that if Umra Khan, humbled and overawed,
had been reinstated, he might have done much
The Malakand Field Force.
to maintain law and order. As long as they fight,
these Afghans do not mind much on which side
they fight. There are worse men and worse allies
helping us to-day. The unpractical may wonder
why we, a people, who fill some considerable place
in the world, should mix in the petty intrigues of
these border chieftains, or soil our hands by using
such tools at all. Is it fitting that Great Britain
should play off one brutal khan against his neigh-
bours, or balance one barbarous tribe against
another? It is as much below our Imperial
dignity, as it would be for a millionaire to count
the lumps in the sugar-basin. If it be necessary for
the safety of our possessions, that these territories
should be occupied, it would be more agreeable to
our self-respect, that we should take them with a
strong hand. It would be more dignified, but nothing
costs more to keep up than dignity, and it is perhaps
because we have always been guided by sound com-
mercial principles in this respect that we have
attained our present proud position.
After looking round the fortress and admiring
the skill and knowledge, with which it was built, we
were conducted by the khan, to the shade of some
beautiful chenar trees, which grew near a little spring
not far from the walls of the fort. Here were a
number of chai'poys^ or native bedsteads, very com-
fortable, but usually full of bugs, and on these we sat.
Remembering Maizar, and many other incidents
of frontier hospitality, sentries were posted on all the
approaches and a sufficient guard kept under arms.
Then we had breakfast — a most excellent breakfast.
The arrangements for the comfort and conveni-
ence of the troops of the Frontier Force are un-
equalled. They live more pleasantly and with less
discomfort, on active service than does a British
regiment at the Aldershot manoeuvres. Whether
the march be long or short, peaceful or opposed,
whether the action be successful or the reverse, their
commissariat never fails. In fact it is only just to
say that they have always lances and bullets for an
enemy, and sandwiches and " pegs " for a friend.
On this occasion, our provisions were supple-
mented by the hospitality of the khan. A long
row of men appeared, each laden with food. Some
carried fruit, — pears or apples ; others piles of chu-
patties, or dishes of pillau.
Nor were our troopers forgotten. The Mahom-
medans among them eagerly accepted the proffered
food. But the Sikhs maintained a remorseful silence
and declined it. They could not eat what had
been prepared by Mussulman hands, and so they
sat gazing wistfully at the appetising dishes, and
contented themselves with a little fruit.
Very austere, and admirable they looked, almost
painfully conscious of their superior virtue. But
I could not help thinking that had we not been
spectators the chenar trees might have witnessed
the triumph of reason, over religious prejudice.
During the heat of the day we rested in this
pleasant grove, and with sleep and conversation,
passed the hours away, while the sentries pacing
to and fro, alone disturbed the illusion, that this
was some picnic party in a more propitious land.
Then, as the shadows lengthened, we started upon
our return to camp.
T54 The Malakand Field Force.
On arriving, the poHtical officers were pleased
and the soldiers disappointed, to find that the
tribesmen were determined to accept the Govern-
ment terms. A hundred rifles from the Utman
Khels had already been surrendered, and now lay
outside Major Deane's tent, surrounded by a crowd
of officers, who were busily engaged in examining
Opinion is divided, and practice has followed
opinion as to whether, in a tale of travel or of war,
it is preferable to intersperse the narrative with
conclusions and discussions, or to collect them all
into a final chapter. I shall unhesitatingly embrace
the former method. The story shall be told as it
happened, and the reader's attention will be directed
to such considerations and reflections as arise by
the way. It will therefore be convenient to make
a digression into the question of the supply of arms
to the frontier tribes, while a hundred rifles, pro-
bably a representative hundred, are piled in the
main street of the camp at Ghosam.
The perpetual state of intestine war, in which the
border peoples live, naturally creates a keen demand
for deadly weapons. A good Martini-Henry rifle
will always command a price in these parts of Rs.
400 or about ^25. As the actual value of such a rifle
does not exceed Rs. 50, it is evident, that a very
large margin of profit accrues to the enterprising
trader. All along the frontier, and from far down
into India, rifles are stolen by expert and cunning
thieves. One tribe, the Ut Khels, who live in the
Laghman Valley, have made the traffic in arms their
especial business. Their thieves are the most daring
and their agents the most cunning. Some of their
methods are highly ingenious. One story is worth
repeating. A coffin was presented for railway
transport. The relatives of the deceased accom-
panied it. The dead man, they said, had desired to
be buried across the frontier. The smell proclaimed
the corpse to be in an advanced state of decomposi-
tion. The railway officials afforded every facility
for the passage of so unpleasant an object. No one
checked its progress. It was unapproachable. It
was only when coffin and mourners were safe across
the frontier, that the police were informed, that a
dozen rifles had been concealed in the coffin, and
that the corpse was represented by a quarter of
well hung " beef !
I regret to have to state, that theft is not the only
means by which the frontier tribes obtain weapons.
Of a hundred rifles, which the Utman Khels had
surrendered, nearly a third were condemned Govern-
ment Martinis and displayed the Government
stamp. Now no such rifles are supposed to exist.
As soon as they are condemned, the arsenal
authorities are responsible that they are destroyed,
and this is in every case carried out under European
supervision. The fact, that such rifles are not de-
stroyed and are found in the possession of trans-
frontier tribesmen, points to a very grave instance of
dishonest and illegal traffic being carried on by some
person connected with the arsenal. It need hardly
be said that a searching inquiry was instituted.
Another point connected with these rifles is that
even when they have been officially destroyed, by
cutting them in three pieces, the fractions have a
156 The Malakand Field Force.
marketable value. Several were shown me, which
had been rejoined by the tribesmen. These were,
of course, very dangerous weapons indeed. The
rest of the hundred had strange tales to tell. Two
or three were Russian military rifles, stolen probably
from the distant posts in Central Asia. One was
a Snider, taken at Maiwand, and bearing the number
of the ill-fated regiment to which it had belonged.
Some had come from Europe, perhaps overland
through Arabia and Persia ; others from the arms
factory at Cabul. It was a strange instance of the
tireless efforts of Supply to meet Demand.
The importance of the arms question cannot
be exaggerated. The long-range rifle fire, which
has characterised the great frontier war, is a new
feature. Hitherto our troops have had to face,
bold sword charges but comparatively little firing.
Against the former, modern weapons are effective.
But no discipline and no efficiency can stop bullets
hitting men. This is a small part of the question.
In the matter of fighting, what is good enough for
the tribesman should be good enough for the soldier.
A more serious consideration is raised, than that of
casualties, which are after all only the inseparable
concomitant of glory. Transport in mountainous
countries depends entirely on mules and camels. A
great number are needed even to supply one brigade.
At night these animals have to be packed closely in
an entrenched camp. It is not possible to find
camping grounds in the valleys, which are not com-
manded by some hill or assailable from some nullah.
It is dangerous to put out pickets, as they may be
" rushed " or, in the event of a severe attack, shot
down, by the fire of their main body.^ The result
is that the transport animals, must be exposed to
long-range fire, at night. The reader will observe,
as the account proceeds, that on two occasions a
large number of transport mules were killed in
this way. When a certain number are killed, a
brigade is as helpless as a locomotive without
coal. It cannot move. Unless it be assisted it
must starve. Every year the tribesmen will become
better marksmen, more completely armed with
better rifles. If they recognise the policy of con-
tinually firing at our animals, they may bring all
operations to a standstill. And so by this road I
reach the conclusion that whatever is to be done
on the frontier, should be done as quickly as
possible. But to return to the story.
The next day, the nth of September, the troops
remained halted at Ghosam, and another squadron
was ordered to escort the Intelligence Officer,
Captain H. E. Stanton, D.S.O., while making a
topographical reconnaissance of the passes into
the Utman Khel country. The opportunity of
making fresh maps and of adding to and correct-
ing the detail of existing maps only occurs, when
troops are passing through the country, and must
not be neglected. The route lay up the main
valley which leads to Nawagai. We started early,
but the way was long and the sun high before we
reached the entrance of the pass. The landscape was
one of the strangest, I shall ever see. On the opposite
bank of the river, were the dwellings of the Utman
1 This applies to Swat and Bajaur, where the sword charge is
still to be apprehended.
158 The Malakand Field Force.
Khels, and in an area seven miles by three, I counted
forty-six separate castles, complete with moats,
towers and turrets. The impression produced was
extraordinary. It suggested Grimm's fairy tales. It
almost seemed as if we had left the natural earth
and strayed into some strange domain of fancy, the
resort of giants or ogres.
To reach the pass, we were compelled to traverse
a large village, and as the situation in the narrow,
winding streets was about as awkward for cavalry
as could be imagined, every possible precaution was
taken to guard against attack. At length the
squadron passed safely through and formed up on
the farther side. The steep ascent to the passes
became visible. As there were two routes to be re-
connoitred, the party was divided and after a hasty
breakfast we commenced the climb. For a con-
siderable distance it was possible to ride. At every
difficult turn of the track sowars were posted to
secure the retreat, if it should be necessary to come
back in a hurry. The head man of the village
furnished a guide, a cheery and amusing fellow,
who professed much solicitude for our safety. But
no reliance could be placed on these people, and on
the opposite side of the valley numerous figures
could be seen moving along and keeping pace
with our advancing party. At length the horses
and the greater part of the escort had to be
abandoned. I accompanied Captain Stanton, and
Captain Cole, who commanded the squadron and was
also Renter's correspondent, with a couple of troop-
ers to the top of the pass. The day was intensely
hot, and the arduous climb excited a thirst, which
there was nothing to allay. At length we gained
the summit, and stood on the Kotal.
Far below us was a valley, into which perhaps
no white man had looked, since Alexander crossed
the mountains on his march to India. Numerous
villages lay dotted about in its depths, while others
nestled against the hills. Isolated forts were dis-
tinguishable, while large trees showed there was
no lack of water. It was a view that repaid the
exertions of the climb, even if it did not quench the
thirst they had excited.
While Captain Stanton was making his sketch, —
one of those useful view-sketches, now taking the
place of all others, in rapid cavalry reconnaissance,
we amused our fancy by naming the drinks we
should order, were a nice, clean European waiter at
hand to get them. I forget what my selection was,
but it was something very long and very cold.
Alas ! how far imagination lags behind reality. The
vivid impressions, which we conjured up — the deep
glasses, and the clinking ice — did little to dissipate
the feelings of discomfort.
Our guide meanwhile squatted on the ground and
pronounced the names of all the villages, as each one
was pointed at. To make sure there was no mistake,
the series of questions was repeated. This time he
gave to each an entirely different name with an
appearance of great confidence and pride. However,
one unpronounceable name is as good as another,
and the villages of the valley will go down to official
history, christened at the caprice of a peasant. But
perhaps many records, now accepted as beyond dis-
pute, are derived from such slender authority.
i6o The Malakand Field Force.
The sketch finished, we commenced the descent
and reached our horses without incident. The
squadron concentrated near the village, and we
heard that the other sketching party had met with
more adventures than had fallen to our lot.
It was commanded by Lieutenant Hesketh, a
young officer, who was severely wounded at the
storming of the Malakand Pass in 1895, and who,
having again volunteered for active service, was
attached to the i ith Bengal Lancers. At the foot of
the pass he dismounted his troop and, taking a few
men with him, began the climb. The pass was occu-
pied by tribesmen, who threatened to fire on the party,
if they advanced farther. The subaltern replied,
that he only wished to see the country on the other
side and did not intend to harm any one. At the
same time he pursued his way and the tribesmen, not
wishing to bring matters to a crisis, fell back slowly,
repeatedly taking aim, but never daring to fire. He
reached the top of the pass and Captain Walters,
the Assistant Intelligence Officer, was able to make
a most valuable sketch of the country beyond. It
was a bold act and succeeded more through its
boldness than from any other cause ; for, had the
tribesmen once opened fire, very few of the party
could have got down alive. Making a detour to
avoid the village, which it was undesirable to traverse
a second time, the squadron returned and arrived
at the camp at Ghosam as the sun was setting.
The service camp of an Anglo-Indian brigade is
arranged on regular principles. The infantry and
guns are extended in the form of a square. The
animals and cavalry are placed inside. In the
middle is the camp of the Headquarters staff, with
the tent of the brigadier facing that of the general
commanding the division. All around the peri-
meter a parapet is built, varying in height
according to the proximity, and activity of the
enemy. This parapet, not only affords cover from
random shots, but also makes a line for the men to
form on in case of a sudden attack. Behind it the
infantry lie down to sleep, a section of each company,
as an inlying picket, dressed and accoutred. Their
rifles are often laid along the low wall with
the bayonets ready fixed. If cavalry have to be
used in holding part of the defences, their lances
can be arranged in the same way. Sentries every
twenty-five yards surround the camp with a line
To view the scene by moonlight is alone an ex-
perience, which would repay much travelling. The
fires have sunk to red, glowing specks. The bayo-
nets glisten in a regular line of blue-white points.
The silence of weariness is broken by the incessant
and uneasy shuffling of the animals and the occa-
sional neighing of the horses. All the valley is
plunged in gloom and the mountains rise high and
black around. Far up their sides, the twinkling
watch-fires of the tribesmen can be seen. Over-
head is the starry sky, bathed in the pale radiance
of the moon. It is a spectacle that may inspire the
philosopher no less than the artist. The camp
is full of subdued noises. Here is no place for re-
flection, for quiet or solemn thought. The day may
have been an exciting one. The morrow may bring
an action. Some may be killed, but in war-time
1 62 The Malakand Field Force.
life is only lived in the present. It is sufficient to
be tired and to have time to rest, and the camp, if
all the various items that compose it can be said
to have a personality, shrugs its shoulders and, re-
garding the past without regret, contemplates the
future without alarm.
THE MARCH TO NAWAGAI.i
March to Shumshuk-The First Shot— The Koh-i-Mohr— The
Rambat Pass— The Watelai Valley— Night of the 14th of
September — The Camp at Inayat Kila.
After considering such maps and information as
to the nature of the country as were available, Sir
Bindon Blood decided to enter the territories of the
Mohmands by two routes, (i) The 3rd Brigade
through the pass of Nawagai. (2) The 2nd
Brigade over the Rambat Pass. This would sweep
the country more thoroughly, and afford increased
facilities, for drawing supplies. As the 3rd Brigade
had a greater distance to cover, it passed in front
of the 2nd, and on the 12th of September, by
a march of twelve miles, reached Shumshuk. The
2nd Brigade, which had hitherto been leading,
moved by an easy stage of seven miles to Jar, and
there camped within supporting distance.
The Headquarters' staff was now transferred to
the 3rd Brigade and marched with them. The road
lay for the first five or six miles over the ground,
which the cavalry had reconnoitred the day before,
j Again all were struck by the great array of castles
r| on the Utman Khel side of the valley. Many
eager spirits would have liked to stop and blow up
^ See Map of operations in Bajaur facing page 232,
164 The Malakand Field Force.
some of these fine places. But the Government
terms had been compHed with and the columns
moved slowly by, eyeing the forts, which were
covered with the white and blue clad figures of
their defenders, with a sour disdain.
After riding for a couple of hours, the staff halted
for breakfast under a shady tree by the banks of a
clear and rapid stream.
Two hundred yards away we observed a large
flight of teal sitting tamely on the water. Every
one became interested. Rifles there were in plenty ;
but where could a gun be found ? Rigorous and
hasty search was made. The political officer of the
force, Mr. Davis, being consulted, eventually pro-
duced a friendly khan, who was the owner of a shot
gun. After further delay this weapon was brought.
The teal still floated unconcernedly on the water.
A gun awakened no sense of danger. Shots in
plenty they had heard in the valley, but they
were not usually fired at birds. The exciting
moment now arrived. Who should shoot? The
responsibility was great Many refused. At length
Veterinary-Captain Mann, who was wounded a few
days later at Nawagai, volunteered. He took the
gun and began a painful stalk. He crawled along
cautiously. We watched with suppressed emotion.
Suddenly two shots rang out. They were to be the
first of many. The men in the marching column
200 yards away became wide awake. The teal
rose hurriedly and flew away, but four remained
behind, killed or wounded. These birds we picked
up with a satisfaction, which was fully justified by
their excellence that night at dinner.
The March to Nawagai. 165
Another mile or so brought us to the Watelai
River, a stream about thirty yards broad, which flows
into the Jandul, and thence into the Panjkora.
I Crossing this and climbing the opposite bank, the
troops debouched on to the wide level plateau of
Khar, perhaps ten miles across and sixteen in length
Standing on the high ground, the great dimensions
of the valley were displayed. Looking westward it
was possible to see the hills behind the Panjkora,
the sites of the former camps, and the entrance of the
subsidiary valley of the Jandul. In front, at the
further end, an opening in the mountain range, showed
the pass of Nawagai. Towering on the left was
the great mass of the Koh-i-mohr, or " Mountain of
Peacocks " — a splendid peak, some 8000 feet high,
the top of which is visible from both Peshawar
and Malakand. Its name is possibly a corruption.
Arrian calls it Mount Meros. At its base the city
of Nysa stood in former times, and among many
others fell before the arms of Alexander. Its in-
habitants, in begging for peace, boasted that they
conducted their government " with constitutional
order," and that " ivy, which did not grow in the
rest of India, grew among them ". City, ivy, and
constitutional order have alike disappeared. The
mountain alone remains. A little to the northward
the Rambat Pass was distinguishable. On the
right the smooth plain, appeared to flow into the
hill country, and a wide bay in the mountains,
roughly circular in shape and nearly twelve miles
across, opened out of the valley. The prominent
I spurs which ran from the hills formed many dark
j ravines and deep hollows, as it were gulfs and inlets
The Malakand Field Force.
of the sea. The entrance was perhaps a mile broad.
I remember, that, when T first looked into the valley,
the black clouds of a passing storm hung gloomily
over all, and filled it with a hazy half-light that con-
trasted with the brilliant sunshine outside. It was
the Watelai, or as we got to call it later — the Ma-
The Khan of Khar met the general on the farther
bank of the river. He was a tall, fine-looking
man with bright eyes, bushy black whiskers and
white teeth, which his frequent smiles displayed.
He was richly dressed, attended by a dozen horse-
men and mounted on a handsome, though vicious
dun horse. He saluted Sir Bindon Blood with great
respect and ceremony. Some conversation took
place, conducted, as the khan only spoke Pushtu,
through the political officer. The khan asserted
his loyalty and that of his neighbour the khan of
Jar. He would, he said, do his utmost to secure the
peaceful passage of the troops. Such supplies as
they might need, he would provide, as far as his
resources would go. He looked with some alarm
at the long lines of marching men and animals. The
general reassured him. If the forces were not inter-
fered with or opposed, if the camps were not fired into
at night, if stragglers were not cut off and cut up by
his people, payment in cash would be made for all
the grain and wood it was necessary to requisition.
The khan accepted this promise with gratitude
and relief, and henceforth during the operations
which took place at Nawagai and in the Mamund
Valley, he preserved a loyal and honourable be-
haviour. To the best of his power he restrained
The March to Nawagai.
his young bloods. As much as he was able, he
used his influence to discourage the other tribes
from joining the revolt. Every night his pickets
watched our camps and much good sleep was ob-
tained by weary men in consequence. At the end
of the fighting he was the intermediary between
the Government and the Mamund tribesmen. And
on one occasion he rendered a signal service,
though one which should hardly have been en-
trusted to him, by escorting with his own retainers
an ammunition convoy to the 2nd Brigade, when
troops and cartridges were alike few and sorely
needed. Had he proved treacherous in this instance,
the consequences might have been most grave.
Throughout, however, he kept his word with the
general, and that in the face of opposition from his
own people, and threats of vengeance from his
He on his part will not complain of British good
faith. Although the fighting was continued in the
district for nearly a month, not one of his villages
was burnt, while all damage done to his crops was
liberally compensated. He was guaranteed against
reprisals, and at the end of the operations the gift
of a considerable sum of money, proved to him, that
the Sirkar could reward its friends, as well as punish
The camel transport of the 3rd Brigade lagged
on the road, and the troops, tired after their long
march, had to wait in the blazing sun for a couple
of hours without shelter until the baggage came up.
At length it arrived, and we proceeded to camp
as far as is possible without tents. Shelters were
1 68 The Malakand Field Force.
improvised from blankets, from waterproof sheets
supported on sticks, or from the green boughs of
some adjacent trees. Beneath these scanty cover-
ings the soldiers lay, and waited for the evening.
Every one has read of the sufferings of the British
troops in having to campaign in the hot weather dur-
ing the Indian Mutiny. September in these valleys
is as hot as it is easy to imagine or elegant to de-
scribe, and the exposure to the sun tells severely on
the British battalions as the hospital returns show.
Of course, since Mutiny days, many salutary changes
have been made in the dress and equipment of the
soldier. The small cap with its insufficient puggaree
is replaced by the pith helmet, the shade of which
is increased by a long quilted covering. The high
stock and thick, tight uniforms are gone, and a cool
and comfortable khaki kit has been substituted. A
spine protector covers the back, and in other ways,
rational improvements have been effected. But the
sun remains unchanged, and all precautions only
minimise, without preventing the evils.
Slowly the hours pass away. The heat is intense.
The air glitters over the scorched plain, as over the
funnel of an engine. The wind blows with a fierce
warmth, and instead of bringing relief, raises only
whirling dust devils, which scatter the shelters and
half-choke their occupants. The water is tepid, and
fails to quench the thirst. At last the shadows begin
to lengthen, as the sun sinks towards the western
mountains. Every one revives. Even the animals
seem to share the general feeling of relief. The
camp turns out to see the sunset and enjoy the
twilight. The feelings of savage hatred against the
The March to Nawagai. 169
orb of day fade from our minds, and we strive to
forget that he will be ready at five o'clock next
morning to begin the torment over again.
As there were still several days to spare before
the Malakand Field Force was due to enter the
Mohmand country, Sir Bindon Blood, ordered both
brigades to remain halted on the 13th: the 3rd
Brigade at Shumshuk ; the 2nd at Jar. Mean-
while two reconnaissances were to be sent, one to
the summit of the Rambat Pass, and the other up
the Watelai V^alley.
The night of the 12th was the first occasion of
"sniping," since the advance against the Mohmands
had begun. About half a dozen shots were fired
into camp, without other result, than to disturb
light sleepers. Still it marked a beginning.
The reconnaissances started next morning. The
general accompanied the one to the Rambat
Pass, to satisfy himself as to the nature of the
unexplored country on the other side. Two com-
panies of infantry were ordered to clear the way,
and two others remained in support half-way up the
pass. Sir Bindon Blood started at six o'clock ac-
companied by his escort, whose gay pennons com-
bined with the Union Jack of the Headquarters'
staff, to add a dash of colour to the scene. After
riding for a couple of miles we caught up the in-
fantry and had to halt, to let them get on ahead and
work through the broken ground and scrub. A
mile further it was necessary to dismount and pro-
ceed on foot. No opposition was encountered,
though the attitude and demeanour of the natives
was most unfriendly. The younger ones retired to
lyo The Malakand Field Force.
the hills. The elder stayed to scowl at, and even curse
us. The village cemetery was full of property of all
kinds, beds, pitchers, and bags of grain, which the
inhabitants had deposited there under the double
delusion, that we wanted to plunder, and that in so
sacred a spot it would be safe — were such our inten-
tion. In spite of their black looks, they were eventu-
ally all made to stand up and salute respectfully.
The climb was a stiff one and took at least an
hour. But the track was everywhere passable, or
capable of easily being made passable for mules.
The general, trained and hardened by years of
shooting of all kinds in the jungles, arrived at the
top first, followed by Brigadier-General Wodehouse,
and a panting staff. A fine view of the Ambasar
Valley was displayed. It w^as of arid aspect.
Villages in plenty could be seen, but no sign of
water. This was serious, as information as to wells
was unreliable, and it was desirable to see some
tanks and streams, before allowing a column to
plunge into the unknown dangers of the valley.
After some consideration Sir Bindon Blood decided
to modify the original plan and send only two
battalions of the 2nd Brigade with one squadron
over the pass, while the rest were to march to join
him at Nawagai. We then returned, reaching camp
in time for luncheon.
Meanwhile the reconnaissance up the Watelai or
Mamund Valley had been of a more interesting
nature. Two squadrons of the i ith Bengal Lancers,
under Major Beatson, and with Mr. Davis, the
political officer, were sent to put some pressure on
the Mamunds, to make them carry out the terms
The March to Nawagai. 171
agreed upon. They had promised to surrender
fifty rifles. This they now showed no intention of
doing. They had realised, that the brigades were
only marching through the country and that they
had no time to stop, and they were determined to
keep their arms as long as possible.
As the cavalry approached the first village, about
300 men gathered and, displaying standards, called
on the Lancers to stop. An altercation ensued.
They were given half an hour to remove their women
and children. Then the squadrons advanced. The
tribesmen, still menacing, retired slowly towards the
hills. Then a small party came up and informed
Major Beatson, that in the next village was a troop-
horse, which had been captured in the fighting in
the Swat Valley. This admission, that the Mamunds
had been implicated in the attack on the Malakand,
was sufficiently naive. The cavalry rode on to the
village. The horse was not to be found, but the offi-
cious informers from the first village eagerly pointed
out where it had been stabled. In consequence of
this information, and to stimulate the tribesmen to
carry out the original terms, Mr. Davis decided to
make an example and authorised Major Beatson
to destroy the house of the owner of the stolen
property. This was accordingly done. As soon as
the smoke began to rise, the tribesmen, who had
waited, half a mile away, opened a dropping fire from
Martini-Henry rifles on the cavalry. These, not
wishing to engage, retired at a trot. They were
followed up, but though the fire was well directed,
the range was too great for accurate shooting and
the bullets whizzed harmlessly overhead.
172 The Malakand Field Force.
As the Lancers left the valley, an incident oc-
curred, which illustrates, what has been said in an
earlier chapter, and is characteristic of the daily
life of the natives. The people of the first village
had directed the attention of the cavalry to the
second. Part of the second had been in consequence
burnt. The inhabitants of both turned out to dis-
cuss the matter with rifles and, when last seen that
night, were engaged in a lively skirmish. Appar-
ently, however, they soon forgot their differences.
The rumour that the cavalry had been fired on
preceded them to camp, and the prospects of some
opposition were everywhere hailed with satisfaction.
Many had begun to think that the Mohmand ex-
pedition was going to be a mere parade, and that
the tribesmen were overawed by the powerful forces
employed. They were soon to be undeceived. I
watched the squadrons return. Behind them the
Mamund Valley was already dark with the shadows
of the evening and the heavy clouds that had hung
over it all day. They were vastly pleased with
themselves. Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to
be shot at without result. The sowars sat their
horses with conscious pride. Some of the younger
officers still showed the flush of excitement on their
cheeks. But they pretended excellently well, to have
forgotten all about the matter. They believed a
few fellows had " sniped " at them ; that was all.
But it was by no means all. Whatever is the
Afghan equivalent of the " Fiery Cross " was cir-
culated among the tribes. There was no time for
them to gather to attack that night, and the situation
of the camp in the open was unsuited to night firing.
The March to Nawagai. 173
The other brigade was coming. They would wait.
They therefore contented themselves with firing
occasional shots, beginning while we were at dinner,
and continuing at intervals until daylight. No one
was hurt, but we may imagine that the tribesmen,
who spent the night prowling about the nullahs, and
firing firom time to time, returned to their country-
men next morning boasting of what they had done.
" Alone, while ye all slumbered and slept, in the
night, in the darkness, I, even I, have attacked the
camp of the accursed ones and have slain a Sahib.
Is it not so, my brothers ? " Whereupon the brothers,
hoping he would some day corroborate a lie for them,
replied, that it was undoubtedly so, and that he had
deserved well of the tribe. Such is the reward of
the " sniper ".
Early next morning the 3rd Brigade and three
squadrons of the iith Bengal Lancers moved on to
Nawagai and crossed the pass without opposition.
The general and Headquarters' staff accompanied
them, and we found ourselves in a wide and exten-
sive valley, on the far side of which the Bedmanai
Pass could be plainly seen. Here, at last, we got
definite information of the Mohmands' intentions.
The Hadda Mullah with 1000 tribesmen had
gathered to oppose the further advance. After all
there would be a fight. In the evening Sir Bindon
Blood, taking a squadron of cavalry, rode out to re-
connoitre the approaches to the pass and the general
configuration of the ground. On his return he sent
a despatch to the Government of India, that he
would force it on the i8th. The soldiers, especially
the British troops, who had not yet been engaged,
The Malakand Field Force.
eagerly looked forward to the approaching action.
But events were destined to a different course.
It was already dusk when we returned from the
reconnaissance. The evening was pleasant and we
dined in the open air. All the valley was very dark
The mountains showed a velvet black. Presently
the moon rose. I repress the inclination to try to
describe the beauty of the scene, as the valley was
swiftly flooded with that mysterious light. All the
suitable words have probably been employed many
times by numerous writers and skipped by countless
readers. Indeed I am inclined to think, that these
elaborate descriptions convey little to those who
have not seen, and are unnecessary to those who
have. Nature will not be admired by proxy.
In times of war, however, especially of frontier war,
the importance of the moon is brought home to
everybody. " What time does it rise to-night ? " is
the question that recurs ; for other things — attacks,
" sniping," rushes, — besides the tides are influenced
by its movements.
Meanwhile, as at Nawagai, at a peaceful camp
and a quiet dinner we watched the " silvery maiden"
swiftly appear over the eastern mountains. She
was gazing on a different scene eleven miles away,
in the valley we had left.
The 2nd Brigade had marched that morning
from Jar to the foot of the Rambat Pass, which it
was intended to cross the next day. Brigadier-
General Jeffreys, in anticipation of this movement,
sent the Buffs up to hold the Kotal, and camped at
the foot with the rest of his force. The situation
of the camp, which had been adopted with a view
The March to Nawagai. 175
to the advance at daybreak, favoured the approach
of an enemy. The ground was broken and inter-
sected by numerous small and tortuous nullahs, and
strewn with rocks. Any other site would, however,
have necessitated a long march the next day, and
no attack was thought likely.
At 8*15, as the officers were finishing dinner,
three shots rang out in the silence. They were a
signal. Instantly brisk firing broke out from the
nullahs on 'the face of the square occupied by the
Guides Infantry. Bullets whistled all about the
camp, ripping through the tents and killing and
wounding the animals.
The Guides returned the fire with steadiness,
and, as the shelter trench they had dug in front of
their section of the line was higher than at other
parts, no officers or men were hit. At ten o'clock
a bugler among the enemy sounded the " Retire,"
and the fire dwindled to a few dropping shots.
All were congratulating themselves on a termina-
tion of the event, when at 10*30, the attack was
renewed with vigour on the opposite side of the
camp, occupied by the 38th Dogras. The enemy,
who were largely armed with Martini-Henry rifles,
crept up to within 100 yards of the trenches.
These were only about eighteen inches high, but
afforded sufficient cover to the soldiers. The
officers, with a splendid disregard of the danger,
exposed themselves freely. Walking coolly up
and down in the brilliant moonlight, they were
excellent targets. The brigadier proceeded him-
self to the threatened side of the camp, to con-
trol the firing and prevent the waste of ammunition.
176 The Malakand Field Force.
A good many thousand rounds were, however, fired
away without much result. Several star shells were
also fired by the battery. The ground was so
broken that they revealed very little, but the
tribesmen were alarmed by the smell they made,
thinking it a poisonous gas. The officers were
directed to take cover, but the necessity of sending
messages and regulating the fire involved a great
deal of exposure. And to all, who showed above
the trench, the danger was great. Captain Tomkins
of the 38th Dogras was shot through the heart, and
a few minutes later the adjutant of the regiment,
Lieutenant Bailey, was also killed. In assisting to
take these officers to the hospital, where a rough
shelter of boxes had been improvised, Lieutenant
Harington, an officer attached to the Dogras, re-
ceived a bullet in the back of the head, which pene-
trated his brain and inflicted injuries, from which
he died subsequently. All tents were struck and
as much cover as could be made from grain-bags
and biscuit-boxes was arranged. At 2'I5 the firing
ceased and the enemy drew off, taking their killed
and wounded with them. They had no mind to
be surprised by daylight, away from their hills. But
they had already remained a little too long.
As soon as the light allowed, the cavalry squadron
under Captain Cole started in pursuit. After a long
gallop down the valley, he caught one party making
for the mountains. Charging immediately, he suc-
ceeded in spearing twenty-one of these before they
could reach the rocks. The squadron then dis-
mounted and opened fire with their carbines.
But the tribesmen turned at once and made a
The March to Nawagai.
dash in the direction of the led horses. A sowar
was wounded and a couple of horses killed. The
cavalrymen, threatened in a vital point, ran hurriedly
back, and just got into their saddles in time. In
the haste of mounting four horses got loose and
galloped away, leaving six dismounted men. Cap-
tain Cole placed one of them before him on the
saddle, and the troopers followed his example.
The squadron thus encumbered, retired, and after
getting out of range, succeeded in catching their
loose horses again. The enemy, seeing the cavalry
mounted once more, took refuge on the hills. But
it was evident, they were eager for fighting.
The casualties in the night attack of Markhanai
were as follows : —
Killed— Capt. W. E. Tomkins, 38th Dogras.
,, Lieut. A. W. Bailey, 38th Dogras.
Died of wounds — Lieut. H. A. Harington, attd. 38th Dogras.
Wounded - - i
No. 8 Mountain Battery - . - - i i
35th Sikhs I 3
38th Dogras - - - - - - i
Guides Infantry i
Followers 2 2
Total Casualties, 16 ; and 98 horses and mules.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Brigade had passed a tran-
quil night at Nawagai. Next morning, however,
at about six o'clock, a message was heliographed
from the Buffs on the Rambat Pass, to the effect
that an attack had been made on General Jeffreys'
1 78 The Malakand Field Force.
camp ; that heavy firing had continued all night, and
that several officers were among the casualties.
This news set every one agog. While we were
breakfasting, a native officer and ten sowars of the
nth Bengal Lancers arrived at speed with full
details : six hours' fighting with the Mamunds :
three officers killed or mortally wounded ; and
nearly a hundred animals hit. In consequence of
this information, Sir Bindon Blood cancelled the
orders for the passage of the Rambat Pass and in-
structed General Jeffreys, to enter the Mamund
Valley and thoroughly chastise the tribesmen.
I was allowed to go back with the native officer's
escort to the 2nd Brigade, in order to witness the
operations, which had been ordered. Judiciously
selecting a few things, which could be carried on the
saddle, of which the most important were a cloak,
some chocolate and a tooth-brush, I hurried after
the escort, who had already started, and overtook
them just as they had got through the pass ot
For the first six miles the road lay through a
"network of deep ravines," i through which the
troopers picked their way very carefully. It would
have been a bad place for a small party to have
been attacked in, but fortunately, though several
armed tribesmen were seen, they did not fire at us.
At one point the route lay through a deep nullah,
along which some of the assailants of the night
before had retired. These were probably from the
Charmanga Valley. They had evidently suffered
losses. Several native beds on which wounded men
The March to Nawagai. 179
had been carried lay scattered about. At this
place they had probably found some oxen, to
which they had transferred their bodies. At length
we got clear of the difficult ground, and entering
the smooth plain of Nawagai looked out eagerly
for the brigade. Seven miles away across the
valley was a long brown^ streak. It was the troops
marching from Markhanai to the entrance of the
Mamund Valley. The smoke of five burning
villages rose in a tall column into the air — blue
against the mountains, brown against the sky. An
hour's riding brought us to the brigade. Every
one was full of the events of the night, and all
looked worn from having had no sleep. You
were very lucky to be out of it," they said.
/'There's plenty more coming."
The cavalry soon returned from their pursuit. The
points of their lances were covered with dark smears.
A sowar displayed his weapon proudly to some
Sikhs, who grinned in appreciation. " How many ? "
was the question asked on all sides. " Twenty-one,"
replied the officer. " But they're full of fight."
Orders were now issued for the brigade to camp
on the open ground near Inayat Kila, which,
translated means Fort Grant, and is the name of
a considerable stone stronghold belonging to the
Khan of Kahr. Although the troops were very
tired from their march, and the fighting of the
preceding night, they began entrenching with
alacrity. Besides making an outer wall to the
camp, about three and a half feet high, everybody
scratched a little hole for himself In these occupa-
tions the afternoon passed.
i8o The Malakand Field Force.
The Buffs came in at sunset, having marched
from the top of the Rambat Pass. They had heard
the firing of the night and were disappointed
at having been absent. It was "just their luck " they
said. During the Chitral campaign of 1 895, they had
had the ill-fortune to miss every engagement. It
would be the same now. All tried to reassure them.
As soon as it was dark an attack was probable.
A dropping fire began after dinner from the great
nullah to the north of the camp, and all lights were
put out and the tents struck. Every one retired to
the soup-plate he had scooped in the earth. But
no attack was made. The enemy had informed the
politicial officer through the friendlies, that they
were weary and would rest that night. They sent
a few "snipers" to fire into the camp, and these
kept up a desultory fusillade, until about two o'clock,
when they drew off.
Those, who had been deprived of their rest the
night before, soon dropped off to sleep, in spite of
the firing. Others, not overpowered by weariness,
found no occupation but to lie in their holes and
contemplate the stars — those impartial stars which
shine as calmly on Piccadilly Circus as on Inayat
THE ACTION OF THE M^MUND VALLEY, i6th SEPT.i
Sound as of bugle in camp, how it rings through the chill air of
Bidding the soldier arise, he must wake and be armed ere the
Firm be your faith and your feet, when the sun's burning rays shall
be o'er you.
' When the rifles are ranging in line, and the clear note of battle is
" A Sermon in Lower Bengal," Sir A. Lyall.
The Cavalry Skirmish — The Advance on Shahi-Tangi — The
Counter Attack — Retirement Down the Spur — Repulse of the
Enemy — Second Attack and Capture of Shahi-Tangi — Dark-
ness — The Guides to the Rescue — The Rear-guard — The
The story has now reached a point, which I can-
not help regarding as its cHmax. The action of
the Mamund Valley is recalled to me by so many
vivid incidents and enduring memories, that it
assumes an importance, which is perhaps beyond its
true historic proportions. Throughout the reader
must make allowances for what I have called the
personal perspective. Throughout he must remem-
ber, how small is the scale of operations. The
panorama is not filled with masses of troops. He will
not hear the thunder of a hundred guns. No
^ See Map of the Mamund Valley facing page 192.
1 82 The Malakand Field Force.
cavalry brigades whirl by with flashing swords.
No infantry divisions are applied at critical points.
The looker-on will see only the hillside, and may,
if he watches with care, distinguish a few brown
clad men moving slowly about it, dwarfed almost to
invisibility by the size of the landscape. I hope to
take him close enough, to see what these men are
doing and suffering ; what their conduct is and
what their fortunes are. But I would ask him to
observe that, in what is written, I rigidly adhere to
my role of a spectator. If by any phrase or sentence
I am found to depart from this, I shall submit to
whatever evil things the ingenuity of malice may
On the morning of the i6th, in pursuance of Sir
Bindon Blood's orders, Brigadier-General Jeffreys
moved out of his entrenched camp at Inayat Kila,
and entered the Mamund Valley. His intentions
were, to chastise the tribesmen by burning and
blowing up all defensible villages within reach
of the troops. It was hoped, that this might be
accomplished in a single day, and that the brigade,
having asserted its strength, would be able to march
on the 17th to Nawagai and take part in the attack
on the Bedmanai Pass, which had been fixed for
the 1 8th. Events proved this hope to be vain, but
it must be remembered, that up to this time no
serious opposition had been offered by the tribes-
men to the columns, and that no news of any
gathering had been reported to the general. The
valley appeared deserted. The villages looked insig-
nificant and defenceless. It was everywhere asserted
that the enemy would not stand.
The, Action of the Mamund Valley. 183
Reveille sounded at half-past five, and at six
o'clock the brigade marched out. In order to
deal with the whole valley at once, the force was
divided into three columns, to which were assigned
the following tasks: —
I. The right column, under Lieut.-Col. Vivian, consisting of
the 38th Dogras and some sappers, was ordered to attack the
village of Domodoloh.
II. The centre column, under Colonel Goldney, consisting of
six companies Buffs, six companies 35th Sikhs, a half-company
sappers, four guns of No. 8 Mountain Battery and the squadron
of the nth Bengal Lancers, was ordered to proceed to the head of
the valley, and destroy the villages of Badelai and Shahi-Tangi
III. The left column, under Major Campbell, consisting of
five companies of the Guides Infantry, and some sappers, was
directed against several villages at the western end of the valley.
Two guns and two companies from each battalion,
were left to protect the camp, and a third company
of the Guides was detached to protect the survey
party. This reduced the strength of the infantry
in the field to twenty-three companies, or slightly
over 1200 men. Deducting the 300 men of the 38th
Dogras who were not engaged, the total force em-
ployed in the action, was about 1000 men of all arms.
It will be convenient to deal with the fortunes
of the right column first. Lieut-Colonel Vivian,
after a march of six miles, arrived before the
village of Domodoloh at about 9 A.M. He found
it strongly held by the enemy, whose aspect was
so formidable, that he did not consider himself
strong enough to attack without artillery and
supports, and with prudence returned to camp,
which he reached about 4 P.M. Two men were
wounded by long-range fire.
184 The Malakand Field Force.
The centre column advanced covered by Captain
Cole's squadron of Lancers, to which I attached
myself. At about seven o'clock we observed the
enemy on a conical hill on the northern slopes of
the valley. Through the telescope, an instrument
often far more useful to cavalry than field-glasses,
it was possible to distinguish their figures. Long
lines of men clad in blue or white, each with his
weapon upright beside him, were squatting on the
terraces. Information was immediately sent back
to Colonel Goldney. The infantry, eager for
action, hurried their march. The cavalry ad-
vanced to within 1000 yards of the hills. For some
time the tribesmen sat and watched the gradual
deployment of the troops, which was developing
in the plain below them. Then, as the guns and
infantry approached, they turned and began slowly
to climb the face of the mountain.
In hopes of delaying them or inducing them to
fight, the cavalry now trotted to within closer range,
and dismounting, opened fire at 7*30 precisely. It
was immediately returned. From high up the hill-
side, from the cornfields at the base, and from the
towers of the villages, little puffs of smoke darted.
The skirmish continued for an hour without much
damage to either side, as the enemy were well
covered by the broken ground and the soldiers by
the gravestones and trees of a cemetery. Then
the infantry began to arrive. The Buffs had been
detached from Colonel Goldney's column and were
moving against the village of Badelai. The 35th
Sikhs proceeded towards the long ridge, round
the corner of which Shahi-Tangi stands. As they
crossed our front slowly — and rather wearily, for
The Action of the Mamund Valley. 185
they were fatigued by the rapid marching — the
cavalry mounted and rode off in quest of more
congenial work with the cavalryman's weapon —
the lance. I followed the fortunes of the Sikhs„
Very little opposition was encountered. A few
daring sharpshooters fired at the leading com-
panies from the high corn. Others fired long-
range shots from the mountains. Neither caused
any loss. Colonel Goldney now ordered one and
a half companies, under Captain Ryder, to clear
the conical hill, and protect the right of the regi-
ment from the fire — from the mountains. These
men, about seventy-five in number, began climbing
the steep slope ; nor did I see them again till
much later in the day. The remaining four and
a half companies continued to advance. The line
lay through high crops on terraces, rising one
above the other. The troops toiled up these,
clearing the enemy out of a few towers they tried
to hold. Half a company was left with the dress-
ing station near the cemetery, and two more were
posted as supports at the bottom of the hills. The
other two commenced the ascent of the long spur
which leads to Shahi-Tangi.
It is impossible to realise without seeing, how
very slowly troops move on hillsides. It was eleven
o'clock before the village was reached. The enemy
fell back " sniping," and doing hardly any damage.
Everybody condemned their pusillanimity in making
off without a fight. Part of the village and some
stacks of bhoosa, a kind of chopped straw, were
set on fire, and the two companies prepared to
return to camp.
But at about eight the cavalry patrols had re-
1 86 The Malakand Field Force.
ported the enemy in great strength at the north-
west end of the valley. In consequence of this
Brigadier-General Jeffreys ordered the Guides In-
fantry to join the main column.^ Major Campbell^
at once collected his men, who were engaged in
foraging, and hurried towards Colonel Goldney's
force. After a march of five miles, he came in
contact with the enemy in strength on his left front,
and firing at once became heavy. At the sound of
the musketry the Buffs were recalled from the
village of Badelai and also marched to support the
While both these regiments were hurrying to the
scene, the sound of loud firing first made us realise,
that our position at the head of the spur near Shahi-
Tangi, was one of increasing danger. The pressure
on the left threatened the line of retreat, and no sup-
ports were available within a mile. A retirement
was at once ordered. Up to this moment hardly any
of the tribesmen had been seen. It appeared, as if
the retirement of the two companies was the signal
for their attack. I am inclined to think, however,
that this w^as part of the general advance of the
enemy, and that even had no retirement been ordered
the advanced companies would have been assailed.
In any case the aspect of affairs immediately
changed. From far up the hillsides men came
running swiftly down, dropping from ledge to ledge,
1 Copy of message showing the time : —
" To Officer, Commanding Guides Infantry. — Despatched 8"i5
A.M. Received 8-57 a.m. Enemy collecting at Kanra ; come up
at once on Colonel Goldney's left.
" C. Powell, Major, D.A.Q.M.G."
The Action of the Mamund Valley. 187
and dodging from rock to rock. The firing in-
creased on every hand. Half a company was left
to cover the withdrawal. The Sikhs made excellent
practice on the advancing enemy, who approached
by twos and threes, making little rushes from one
patch of cover to another. At length a consider-
able number were accumulated behind some rocks
about a hundred yards away. The firing now
became heavy and the half-company, finding its
flank threatened, fell back to the next position.
A digression is necessary to explain the peculiar
configuration of the ground.
The spur, at the top of which the village stands,
consists of three rocky knolls, each one higher
than the other, as the main hill is approached.
These are connected by open necks of ground,
which are commanded by fire from both flanks.
In section the ground resembles a switchback
The first of these knolls was evacuated without
loss, and the open space to the next quickly
traversed. I think a couple of men fell here, and
were safely carried away. The second knoll was
commanded by the first, on to which the enemy
climbed, and from which they began firing. Again
the companies retired. Lieutenant Cassells re-
mained behind with about eight men, to hold the
knoll, until the rest had crossed the open space.
As soon as they were clear they shouted to him
to retire. He gave the order.
Till this time the skirmishing of the morning
might have afforded pleasure to the neuropath,
experience to the soldier, " copy " to the journalist.
1 88 The Malakand Field Force.
Now suddenly black tragedy burst upon the scene,
and all excitement died out amid a multitude
of vivid trifles. As Lieutenant Cassells rose to
leave the knoll, he turned sharply and fell on the
ground. Two Sepoys immediately caught hold of
him. One fell shot through the leg. A soldier
who had continued firing, sprang into the air, and,
falling, began to bleed with strange and terrible
rapidity from his mouth and chest. Another
turned on his back kicking and twisting. A fourth
^lay quite still. Thus in the time it takes to write
half the little party were killed or wounded. The
enemy had worked round both flanks and had also
the command. Their fire was accurate.
Two officers, the subadar major, by name Mangol
Singh, and three or four Sepoys ran forward from
the second knoll, to help in carrying the wounded
off. Before they reached the spot, two more men
were hit. The subadar major seized Lieutenant
Cassells, who was covered with blood and unable to
stand, but anxious to remain in the firing line. The
others caught hold of the injured and began drag-
ging them roughly over the sharp rocks in spite of
their screams and groans. Before we had gone
thirty yards from the knoll, the enemy rushed on to
it, and began firing. Lieutenant Hughes, the adju-
tant of the regiment, and one of the most popular
officers on the frontier, was killed. The bullets
passed in the air with a curious sucking noise, like
that produced by drawing the air between the lips.
Several men also fell. Lieut.-Colonel Bradshaw
ordered two Sepoys to carry the officer's body away.
This they began to do. Suddenly a scattered crowd
The Action of the Mamund Valley. 189
of tribesmen rushed over the crest of the hill and
charged sword in hand, hurling great stones. It
became impossible to remain an impassive spectator.
Several of the wounded were dropped. The sub-
adar major stuck to Lieutenant Cassells, and it is to
him the lieutenant owes his life. The men carrying
the other officer, dropped him and fled. The body
sprawled upon the ground. A tall man in dirty
white linen pounced down upon it with a curved
sword. It was a horrible sight.
Had the swordsmen charged home, they would
have cut everybody down. But they did not. These
wild men of the mountains were afraid of closing.
The retirement continued. Five or six times the two
companies, now concentrated, endeavoured to stand.
Each time the tribesmen pressed round both flanks.
They had the whole advantage of ground, and
commanded, as well as out-flanked the Sikhs. At
length the bottom of the spur was reached, and the
remainder of the two companies turned to bay in
the nullah with fixed bayonets. The tribesmen
came on impetuously, but stopped thirty yards
away, howling, firing and waving their swords.
No other troops were in sight, except our cavalry,
who could be seen retiring in loose squadron column
— probably after their charge. They could give no
assistance. The Buffs were nearly a mile away.
Things looked grave. Colonel Goldney himself
tried to re-form the men. The Sikhs, who now
numbered perhaps sixty, were hard pressed, and fired
without effect. Then some one — who it was, is un-
certain — ordered the bugler to sound the " charge ".
The shrill notes rang out not once but a dozen
190 The Malakand Field Force.
times. Every one began to shout. The officers
waved their swords frantically. Then the Sikhs
commenced to move slowly forward towards the
enemy, cheering. It was a supreme moment. The
tribesmen turned, and began to retreat. Instantly
the soldiers opened a steady fire, shooting down
their late persecutors with savage energy.
Then for the first time, I perceived that the
repulse was general along the whole front. What
I have described was only an incident. But the
reader may learn from the account the explanation
of many of our losses in the frontier war. The
troops, brave and well-armed, but encumbered with
wounded, exhausted by climbing and overpowered
by superior force, had been ordered to retire.
This is an operation too difficult for a weak force
to accomplish. Unless supports are at hand, they
must be punished severely, and the small covering
parties, who remain to check the enemy, will very
often be cut to pieces, or shot down. Afterwards
in the Mamund Valley whole battalions were em-
ployed to do what these two Sikh companies had
attempted. But Sikhs need no one to bear witness
to their courage.
During the retirement down the spur, I was un-
able to observe the general aspect of the action, and
now in describing it, I have dealt only with the misad-
ventures of one insignificant unit. It is due to the
personal perspective. While the two advanced com-
panies were being driven down the hill, a general
attack was made along the whole left front of the
brigade, by at least 2000 tribesmen, most of whom
were armed with rifles. To resist this attack there
The Action of the Mamund Valley. 191
were the cavalry, the two supporting companies of
the 35th Sikhs and five of the Guides Infantry, who
were arriving. All became engaged. Displayingtheir
standards, the enemy advanced with great courage
in the face of a heavy fire. Many were killed and
wounded, but they continued to advance in a long
skirmish line, on the troops. One company of the
35th became seriously involved. Seeing this. Cap-
tain Cole moved his squadron forward, and though
the ground was broken, charged. The enemy took
refuge in the nullah, tumbling into it standards and
all, and opened a sharp fire on the cavalry at close
range, hitting several horses and men. The squadron
fell back. But the moral effect of their advance had
been tremendous. The whole attack came to a
standstill. The infantry fire continued. Then the
tribesmen began to retire, and they were finally
repulsed at about twelve o'clock.
An opportunity was now presented of breaking off
the action. The brigade had started from camp
divided, and in expectation that no serious resist-
ance would be offered. It had advanced incautiously.
The leading troops had been roughly handled.
The enemy had delivered a vigorous counter
attack. That attack had been repulsed with
slaughter, and the brigade was concentrated. Con-
sidering the fatigues to which the infantry had
been exposed, it would perhaps have been more
prudent to return to camp and begin again next
morning. But Brigadier-General Jeffreys was de-
termined to complete the destruction of Shahi-Tangi,
and to recover the body of Lieutenant Hughes,
which remained in the hands of the enemy. It was
192 The Malakand Field Force.
a bold course. But it was approved of by every
officer in the force.
A second attack was ordered. The Guides were
to hold the enemy in check on the left. The Buffs,
supported by the 35th Sikhs, were to take the village.
Orders were signalled back to camp for all the
available troops to reinforce the column in the
field, and six fresh companies consequently started.
At one o'clock the advance recommenced, the guns
came into action on a ridge on the right of the
brigade, and shelled the village continuously.
Again the enemy fell back " sniping," and very
few of them were to be seen. But to climb the hill
alone took two hours. The village was occupied
at three o'clock, and completely destroyed by the
Buffs. At 3 '30, orders reached them to return to
camp, and the second withdrawal began. Again
the enemy pressed with vigour, but this time there
were ten companies on the spur instead of two, and
the Buffs, who became rear-guard, held everything
at a distance with their Lee-Metford rifles. At a
quarter to five the troops were clear of the hills and
we looked about us.
While this second attack was being carried out,
the afternoon had slipped away. At about two
o'clock Major Campbell and Captain Cole, both
officers of great experience on the frontier, had
realised the fact, that the debate with the tribesmen
could not be carried to a conclusion that day. At
their suggestion a message was heliographed up to
the General's staff officer on the spur near the
guns, as follows : " It is now 2*30. Remember we
shall have to fight our way home." But the
C.PIa2xp & S0n.32 FUd: 5? Laridun.
The Action of the Mamund Valley. 193
brigadier had already foreseen this possibility, and
had, as described, issued orders for the return
y march. These orders did not reach Captain Ryder's
^1 company on the extreme right, until they had be-
1! come hard pressed by the increasing attack of
I the enemy. Their wounded delayed their re-
^1 tirement. They had pushed far up the mountain
y side, apparently with the idea they were to crown
[ | the heights, and we now saw them two miles away
on the sky line hotly engaged.
While I was taking advantage of a temporary
;! halt, to feed and water my pony, Lieutenant
MacNaghten of the i6th Lancers pointed them
out to me, and we watched them through our
glasses. It was a strange sight. Little figures
running about confusedly, tiny puffs of smoke, a
I miniature officer silhouetted against the sky waving
I his sword. It seemed impossible to believe that
fi they were fighting for their lives, or indeed in any
danger. It all looked so small and unreal. They
were, however, hard pressed, and had signalled that
they were running out of cartridges. It was then
five o'clock, and the approach of darkness was
accelerated by the heavy thunderclouds, which
were gathering over the northern mountains.
At about 3 "30 the brigadier had ordered the
Guides to proceed to Ryder's assistance and en-
deavour to extricate his company. He directed
Major Campbell to use his own discretion. It was
a difficult problem, but the Guides and their leader
were equal to it. They had begun the day on the
extreme left. They had hurried to the centre.
Now they were ordered to the extreme right.
194 The Malakand Field Force.
They had already marched sixteen miles, but they
were still fresh. We watched them defiling across
the fi-ont, with admiration. Meanwhile, the retire-
ment of the brigade was delayed. It was necessary
that all units should support each other, and the
troops had to wait, till the Guides had succeeded
in extricating Ryder. The enemy now came on,
in great strength from the north-western end of the
valley, which had been swarming with them all
day, so that for the first time the action presented a
Across the broad plain the whole of the brigade
was in echelon. On the extreme right Ryder's com-
pany and the Guides Infantry were both severely
engaged. Half a mile away to the left rear the
battery, the sappers and two companies of the
35th Sikhs were slowly retiring. Still farther to
the left were the remainder of the 35th, and, at an
interval of half a mile — the Buffs. The cavalry
protected the extreme left flank. This long line of
troops, who were visible to each other but divided
by the deep broad nullahs, which intersected the
whole plain, fell back slowly, halting frequently to
keep touch. Seven hundred yards away were the
enemy, coming on in a great half-moon nearly
three miles long and firing continually. Their fire
was effective, and among other casualties at this
time Lieutenant Crawford, R.A., was killed. Their
figures showed in rows of little white dots. The
darkness fell swiftly. The smoke puffs became
fire flashes. Great black clouds overspread the
valley and thunder began to roll. The daylight
died away. The picture became obscured, and
The Action of the Mamund Valley. 195
presently it was pitch dark. All communication,
all mutual support, all general control now ceased.
Each body of troops closed up and made the best
of their way to the camp, which was about seven
miles off. A severe thunderstorm broke overhead.
The vivid lightning displayed the marching columns
and enabled the enemy to aim. Individual tribes-
men ran up, shouting insults, to within fifty yards
of the Buffs and discharged their rifles. They were
answered with such taunts as the limited Pushtu of
the British soldier allows and careful volleys. The
troops displayed the greatest steadiness. The men
were determined, the officers cheery, the shooting
accurate. At half-past eight the enemy ceased to
worry us. We thought we had driven them off,
but they had found a better quarry.
The last two miles to camp were painful. After
the cessation of the firing the fatigue of the soldiers
asserted itself. The Buffs had been marching and
fighting continuously for thirteen hours. They had
had no food, except their early morning biscuit,
since the preceding night. The older and more
seasoned amongst them laughed at their troubles,
declaring they would have breakfast, dinner and tea
together when they got home. The younger ones
collapsed in all directions.
The officers carried their rifles. Such ponies and
mules as were available were laden with exhausted
soldiers. Nor was this all. Other troops had passed
before us, and more than a dozen Sepoys of different
regiments were lying senseless by the roadside. All
these were eventually carried in by the rear-guard,
and the Buffs reached camp at nine o'clock.
196 The Malakand Field Force.
Meanwhile, the Guides had performed a brilliant
feat of arms, and had rescued the remnants of li
the isolated company from the clutches of the
enemy. After a hurried march they arrived at the ) j
foot of the hill down which Ryder's men were ii
retiring. The Sikhs, utterly exhausted by the ||
exertions of the day, were in disorder, and in U
many cases unable from extreme fatigue even ij
to use their weapons. The tribesmen hung in !^
a crowd on the flanks and rear of the struggling j.j
company, firing incessantly and even dashing in t
and cutting down individual soldiers. Both officers *
were wounded. Lieutenant Gunning staggered i
down the hill unaided, struck in three places \i
by bullets and with two deep sword cuts besides, f j
Weary, outnumbered, surrounded on three sides, 11
without un wounded officers or cartridges, the \\
end was only a matter of moments. All must I'i
have been cut to pieces. But help was now
at hand. |j
The Guides formed line, fixed bayonets and i-j
advanced at the double towards the hill. At a
short distance from its foot they halted and ' j
opened a terrible and crushing fire upon the |
exulting enemy. The loud detonations of their ji
company volleys were heard and the smoke seen i|
all over the field, and on the left we wondered what rj
was happening. The tribesmen, sharply checked, ' ^
wavered. The company continued its retreat. U
Many biave deeds were done as the night closed t
in. Havildar Ali Gul of the Afridi Company of the \l
Guides, seized a canvas cartridge carrier, a sort of '
loose jacket with large pockets, filled it with ammu- \i
The Action of the Mamund Valley. 197
nition from his men's pouches, and rushing across the
fire-swept space, which separated the regiment from
the Sikhs, distributed the precious packets to the
struggling men. Returning he carried a wounded
native officer on his back. Seeing this several
Afridis in the Guides ran forward, shouting and
cheering, to the rescue, and other wounded Sikhs
were saved by their gallantry from a fearful fate.
-At last Ryder's company reached the bottom of
the hill and the survivors re-formed under cover
of the Guides.
These, thrown on their own resources, separated
from the rest of the brigade by darkness and dis-
tance and assailed on three sides by the enemy,
calmly proceeded to fight their way back to camp.
Though encumbered with many wounded and amid
broken ground, they repulsed every attack, and bore
down all the efforts which the tribesmen made to
intercept their line of retreat. They reached camp
at 9*30 in safety, and not without honour. The
skill and experience of their officers, the endurance
and spirit of the men, had enabled them to accom-
plish a task, which many had believed impossible,
and their conduct in the action of the Mamwnd
Valley fills a brilliant page in the history of the
finest and most famous frontier regiment.^
As the Buffs reached the camp the rain which
had hitherto held off came down. It poured. The
1 The gallantry of the two officers, Captain Hodson and Lieut.
Codrington, who commanded the two most exposed companies,
was the subject of a special mention in despatches, and the whole
regiment were afterwards complimented by Brigadier-General
Jeffreys on their fine performance.
198 The Malakand Field Force.
darkness was intense. The camp became a sea of
mud. In expectation that the enemy would attack
it, General Jeffreys had signalled in an order to
reduce the perimeter. The camp was therefore
closed up to half its original size.
Most of the tents had been struck and lay with
the baggage piled in confused heaps on the ground.
Many of the transport animals were loose and
wandering about the crowded space. Dinner or
shelter there was none. The soldiers, thoroughly
exhausted, lay down supperless in the slush. The
condition of the wounded was particularly painful.
Among the tents which had been struck were several
of the field hospitals. In the darkness and rain
it was impossible to do more for the poor fellows
than to improve the preliminary dressings and give
morphia injections, nor was it till four o'clock on
the next afternoon that the last were taken out of
After about an hour the rain stopped, and while
the officers were bustling about making their men
get some food before they went to sleep, it was
realised that all the troops were not in camp.
The general, the battery, the sappers and four
companies of infantry were still in the valley.
Presently we heard the firing of guns. They were
being attacked, — overwhelmed perhaps. To send
them assistance was to risk more troops being cut
off. The Buffs who were dead beat, the Sikhs who
had suffered most severe losses, and the Guides who
had been marching and fighting all day, were not
to be thought of. The 38th Dogras were, how-
ever, tolerably fresh, and Colonel Goldney, who
The Action of the Mamund Valley. 199
commanded in the absence of the General, at once
ordered four companies to parade and march to the
relief. Captain Cole volunteered to accompany
them with a dozen sowars. The horses were
saddled. But the order was countermanded, and
no troops left the camp that night.
Whether this decision was justified or not the
reader shall decide. In the darkness and the broken
ground it was probable the relief would never have
found the general. It was possible that getting
involved among the nullahs they would have been
destroyed. The defenders of the camp itself were
none too many. The numbers of the enemy were
unknown. These were weighty reasons. On the
other hand it seemed unsoldierly to lie down to
sleep while at intervals the booming of the guns
reminded us, that comrades were fighting for their
lives a few miles away in the valley.
AT INAYAT KILA.
" Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail.
Strike hard who cares. Shoot straight who can.
The odds are on the cheaper man."
The ReHef of Bilot — The Story of the Night— Rest and Recuperation
— Domodoloh — Zagai— Negotiations for Peace — The Situation.
Half an hour before dawn on the 17th, the cavalry
were mounted, and as soon as the Hght was strong
enough to find a way through the broken ground,
the squadron started in search of the missing troops.
We had heard no more of their guns since about
two o'clock. We therefore concluded they had
beaten off the enemy. There might, of course, be
another reason for their silence. As we drew near
Bilot, it was possible to distinguish the figures of
men moving about the walls and houses. The ad-
vanced files rode cautiously forward. Suddenly
they cantered up to the wall and we knew some
at least were alive. Captain Cole, turning to his
squadron, lifted his hand. The sowars, actuated by
a common impulse, rose in their stirrups and began
to cheer. But there was no response. Nor was
this strange. The village was a shambles. In an
angle of the outside wall, protected on the third
At Inayat Kila.
side by a shallow trench, were the survivors of the
fight. All around lay the corpses of men and mules.
The bodies of five or six native soldiers were being
buried in a hurriedly dug grave. It was thought
that, as they were Mahommedans, their resting-
place would be respected by the tribesmen. ^ Eigh-
teen wounded men lay side by side in a roofless hut.
Their faces drawn by pain and anxiety, looked
ghastly in the pale light of the early morning. Two
officers, one with his left hand smashed, the other
shot through both legs, were patiently waiting for
the moment when the improvised tourniquets could
be removed and some relief afforded to their suffer-
ings. The brigadier, his khaki coat stained with
the blood from a wound on his head, was talking to
his only staff-officer, whose helmet displayed a bullet-
hole. The most ardent lover of realism would have
been satisfied. Food, doolies, and doctors soon ar-
rived. The wounded were brought to the field hos-
pitals to be attended to. The unwounded hurried
back to camp to get breakfast and a bath. In half
an hour, the ill-omened spot, was occupied only by
the few sowars engaged in shooting the wounded
mules, and by the vultures who watched the pro-
ceedings with an expectant interest.
Gradually we learnt the story of the night. The
battery, about thirty sappers and half the 35 th
Sikhs, were returning to camp. At about seven
^ These bodies were afterwards dug up and mutilated by the
natives : a foul act which excited the fury and indignation of
soldiers of every creed in the force. I draw the reader's attention
to this unpleasant subject, only to justify what I have said in an
earlier chapter of the degradation of mind, in which the savages of
the mountains are sunk.
202 The Malakand Field Force.
o'clock an order was sent for them to halt and re-
main out all night, to assist the Guides Infantry,
whose firing could be heard and for whose safety
the brigadier was above all things anxious. This
order reached the battery and with the sappers as
an escort they turned back, recrossed a nullah and
met the general with two companies of Sikhs out-
side the village of Bilot. The half-battalion of the
35th did not apparently receive the order, for they
continued their march. Lieutenant Wynter, R.A.,
was sent back to look for them. He did not find
them but fell in with four fresh companies, two of
the Guides and two of the 35th, who, under Major
Worlledge, had been sent from camp in response
to the general's demand for reinforcements. Lieu-
tenant Wynter brought these back, as an escort to
the guns. On arrival at the village, the brigadier
at once sent them to the assistance of the Guides.
He counted on his own two companies of Sikhs.
But when Worlledge had moved off and had already
vanished in the night, it was found that these two
companies had disappeared. They had lost touch
in the darkness, and, not perceiving that the general
had halted, had gone on towards camp. Thus the
battery was left with no other escort than thirty
A party of twelve men of the Buffs now arrived,
and the circumstances which led them to the
guns are worth recording. When the Buffs were
retiring through the villages, they held a Mahom-
medan cemetery for a little while, in order to check
the enemy's advance. Whilst there, Lieutenant
Byron, Orderly Officer to General Jeffreys, rode up
At Inayat Kila.
and told Major Moody, who commanded the rear
companies, that a wounded officer was lying in a
dooly a hundred yards up the road, without any
escort. He asked for a few men. Moody issued an
order, and a dozen soldiers under a corporal started
to look for the dooly. They missed it, but while
searching, found the general and the battery outside
the village. The presence of these twelve brave
men — for they fully maintained the honour of their
regiment — with their magazine rifles, just turned
the scale. Had not the luck of the British army
led them to the village, it can hardly be doubted,
and certainly was not doubted by any, who were
there, that the guns would have been captured
and the general killed. Fortune, especially in war,
uses tiny fulcra for her powerful lever.
The general now ordered the battery and sappers
to go into the village, but it was so full of burning
bhoosa, that this was found to be impossible, and
they set to work to entrench themselves outside.
The village was soon full of the enemy. From the
walls and houses, which on two sides commanded
the space occupied by the battery, they began to
fire at about thirty yards' range. The troops were as
much exposed as if they had been in a racket court,
of which the enemy held the walls. They could
not move, because they would have had to desert
either the guns or the wounded. Fortunately,
not many of the tribesmen at this point, were
armed with rifles. The others threw stones and
burning bhoosa into the midst of the little garrison.
By its light they took good aim. Everybody got
under such cover as was available. There was not
204 The Malakand Field Force.
much. Gunner Nihala, a gallant native soldier,
repeatedly extinguished the burning bhoosa with
his cloak at the imminent peril of his life. Lieu-
tenants Watson and Colvin, with their sappers and
the twelve men of the Buffs, forced their way into
the village, and tried to expel the enemy with the
bayonet. The village was too large for so small a
party to clear. The tribesmen moved from one part
to another, repeatedly firing. They killed and
wounded several of the soldiers, and a bullet smashed
Lieutenant Watson's hand. He however continued
his efforts and did not cease until again shot, this
time so severely as to be unable to stand. His men
carried him from the village, and it was felt that it
would be useless to try again.
The attention of the reader is directed to the
bravery of this officer. After a long day of march-
ing, and fighting, in the dark, without food and with
small numbers, the man who will go on, unshaken
and unflinching, after he has received a severe
and painful wound, has in respect of personal
courage few equals and no superior in the world.
It is perhaps as high a form of valour to endure, as
to dare. The combination of both is sublime.^
At nine o'clock the rain stopped the firing, as the
tribesmen were afraid of wetting their powder, but
at about ten they opened again. They now made
a great hole in the wall of the village, through which
about a dozen men fired with terrible effect. Others
began loopholing the walls. The guns fired case
shot at twenty yards' range at these fierce pioneers,
smashing the walls to pieces and killing many. The
1 Both officers have received the Victoria Cross for their con-
duct on this occasion.
At Inayat Kila.
enemy replied with bullets, burning bhoosa and
showers of stones.
So the hours dragged away. The general and
Captain Birch were both wounded, early in the night.
Lieutenant Wynter, while behaving with distin-
guished gallantry, was shot through both legs at
about I I'SO. He was thus twice severely wounded
within forty-five days. He now continued to com-
mand his guns, until he fainted from loss of blood.
A native gunner then shielded him with his body,
until he also was hit. The whole scene, the close,
desperate fighting, the carcasses of the mules, the
officers and men crouching behind them, the flam-
ing stacks of bhoosa^ the flashes of the rifles, and
over all and around all, the darkness of the night —
is worthy of the pencil of De Neuville.
At length, at about midnight, help arrived.
Worlledge's two companies had gone in search of
the Guides, but had not found them. They now re-
turned and, hearing the firing at Bilot,sent an orderly
of the nth Bengal Lancers to ask if the general
wanted assistance. This plucky boy — he was on^.y
a young recruit — rode coolly up to the village
although the enemy were all around, and he stood
an almost equal chance of being shot by our own
men. He soon brought the two companies to the
rescue, and the enemy, balked of their prey, presently
drew off in the gloom. How much longer the battery
and its defenders could have held out is uncertain.
They were losing men steadily, and their numbers
were so small that they might have been rushed at
any moment. Such was the tale.
No operations took place on the 17th. The
2o6 The Malakand Field Force.
soldiers rested, casualties were counted, wounds
were dressed, confidence was restored. The funerals
of the British officers and men, killed the day before,
took place at noon. Every one who could, attended ;
but all the pomp of military obsequies was omitted,
and there were no Union Jacks to cover the bodies,
nor were volleys fired over the graves, lest the
wounded should be disturbed. Somewhere in the
camp — exactly where, is now purposely forgotten —
the remains of those who had lost, in fighting for
their country, all that men can be sure of, were
silently interred. No monument marked the spot.
The only assurance that it should be undisturbed
is, that it remains unknown. Nevertheless, the
funerals were impressive. To some the game of
war brings prizes, honour, advancement, or expe-
rience ; to some the consciousness of duty well
discharged ; and to others — spectators, perhaps —
the pleasure of the play and the knowledge of
men and things. But here were those who had
drawn the evil numbers — who had lost their all, to
gain only a soldier's grave. Looking at these
shapeless forms, coffined in a regulation blanket,
the pride of race, the pomp of empire, the glory of
war appeared but the faint and unsubstantial fabric
of a dream ; and I could not help realising with
Burke : " What shadows we are and what shadows
The actual casualties were, in proportion to the
numbers engaged, greater than in any action, of the
British army in India for many years. Out of a
force, which at no time exceeded looo men, nine
British officers, four native officers, and 136 soldiers
At Inayat Kila.
were either killed or wounded. The following is
the full return : —
Killed — Lieutenant and Adjutant V. Hughes, 35th Sikhs.
A. T. Crawford, R.A.
Wounded severely — Captain W. L Ryder, attd. 35th Sikhs.
,, Lieutenant O. G. Gunning, 35th Sikhs.
„ „ „ O. R. Cassells, 35th Sikhs.
T. C. Watson, R.E.
F. A. Wynter, R.A.
Wounded slightly — Brigadier-General Jeffreys, Commanding
2nd Bde. M.F.F.
,, Captain Birch, R.A.
nth Bengal Lancers
No. 8 Mountain Battery -
Guides Infantry . . . .
Total Casualties, 149 ; with 48 horses and mules.
The action of the i6th September is considered
by some to have been a reverse. I do not think
this view is justified by the facts. The troops ac-
complished every task they were set. They burned
the village of Shahi-Tangi most completely, in spite
of all opposition, and they inflicted on the tribesmen a
loss of over 200 men. The enemy, though elated by
the capture of twenty-two rifles from the bodies of the
killed, were impressed by the bravery of the troops.
" If," they are reported to have said, they fight
like this when they are divided, we can do nothing."
Our losses were undoubtedly heavy and out of all
2o8 The Malakand Field Force.
proportion to the advantages gained. They were
due to an ignorance, shared by all in the force, of
the numbers and fighting power of the Mamunds.
No one knew, though there were many who were
wise after the event, that these tribesmen were as
well armed as the troops, or that they were the
brave and formidable adversaries they proved them-
selves. "Never despise your enemy" is an old
lesson, but it has to be learnt afresh, year after year,
by every nation that is warlike and brave. Our
losses were also due to the isolation of Captain
Ryder's company, to extricate which, the whole
force had to wait, till overtaken by darkness. It
has been said that war cannot be made without
running risks, nor can operations be carried out in
the face of an enemy armed with breech-loaders
without loss. No tactics can altogether shield men
from bullets. Those serene critics who note the
errors, and forget the difficulties, who judge in
safety of what was done in danger, and from the
security of peace, pronounce upon the conduct of
war, should remember that the spectacle of a
General, wounded, his horse shot, remaining on the
field with the last unit, anxious only for the safety
of his soldiers, is a spectacle not unworthy of the
pages of our military history.
The depression, caused by the loss of amiable
and gallant comrades, was dispelled by the prospects
of immediate action. Sir Bindon Blood, whose
position at Nawagai was now one of danger, sent
the brigadier, instead of reinforcements, orders
to vigorously prosecute the operations against the
tribesmen, and on the morning of the i8th the force
At Inayat Kila.
moved to attack the village of Domodoloh,
which the 38th Dogras had found so strongly
occupied on the i6th. Again the enemy were
numerous. Again they adopted their effective
tactics ; but this time no chances were given them.
The whole brigade marched concentrated to the
attack, and formed up on the level ground just out
of shot. The general and his staff rode forward
The village lay in a re-entrant of the hills, from
which two long spurs projected like the piers of a
harbour. Behind, the mountains rose abruptly to a
height of 5000 feet. The ground, embraced by the
spurs, was filled with crops of maize and barley.
A fort and watch-tower guarded the entrance. At
8*30 the advance was ordered. The enemy did not
attempt to hold the fort, and it was promptly seized
and blown up. The explosion was a strange, though,
during the fighting in the Mamund Valley, not an
uncommon sight. A great cloud of thick brown-red
dust sprang suddenly into the air, bulging out in
all directions. The tower broke in half and toppled
over. A series of muffled bangs followed. The
dust-cloud cleared away, and nothing but a few
The enemy now opened fire from the spurs, both
of which became crowned with little circles of white
smoke. The 35th Sikhs advancing cleared the right
ridge: the 38th Dogras the left. The Guides
moved on the village, and up the main re-entrant it-
self The Buffs were in reserve. The battery came
into action on the left, and began shelling the crests
of the opposite hills. Taking the range with their
2IO The Malakand Field Force.
instruments, they fired two shots in rapid succession,
each time at slightly different ranges. The little
guns exploded with a loud report. Then, far up
the mountain side, two balls of smoke appeared,
one above the other, and after a few seconds
the noise of the bursting shells, came faintly back.
Usually one would be a little short of — and the other
a little over — the point aimed at. The next shot, by
dividing the error, would go home, and the dust of
the splinters and bullets would show on the peak,
from which the tribesmen were firing, and it would
become silent and deserted — the scene of an
unregarded tragedy. Gradually the spurs were
cleared of the enemy and the Guides, passing
through the village, climbed up the face of the
mountain and established themselves among the
great rocks of the steep water-course. Isolated
sharpshooters maintained a dropping fire. The
company whose operations I watched, — Lieutenant
Lockhart's, — killed one of these with a volley, and
we found him sitting by a little pool, propped against
a stone. He had been an ugly man originally, but
now that the bones of his jaw and face were
broken in pieces by the bullet, he was hideous to
look upon. His only garment was a ragged blue
linen cloak fastened at the waist. There he sat — a
typical tribesman, ignorant, degraded, and squalid,
yet brave and warlike ; his only property, his
weapon, and that his countrymen had carried off.
I could not help contrasting his intrinsic value as a
social organism, with that of the officers who had been
killed during the week, and those lines of Kipling
which appear at the beginning of this chapter were
At Inayat Kila.
recalled to mind with a strange significance. Indeed
I often heard them quoted in the Watelai Valley.
The sappers had now entered the village, and
were engaged in preparing the hovels of which it
consisted for destruction. Their flat roofs are
covered with earth, and will not burn properly, unless
a hole is made first in each. This took time. Mean-
while the troops held on to the positions they had
seized, and maintained a desultory fire with the
enemy. At about noon the place was lighted up,
and a dense cloud of smoke rose in a high column
into the still air. Then the withdrawal of the troops
was ordered. Immediately the enemy began their
counter attack. But the Guides were handled with
much skill. The retirement of each company was
covered by the fire of others, judiciously posted
farther down the hill. No opportunity was offered
to the enemy. By one o'clock all the troops were
clear of the broken ground. The Buffs assumed
the duty of rear-guard, and were delighted to have a
brisk little skirmish — fortunately unattended with
loss of life — with the tribesmen, who soon reoc-
cupied the burning village. This continued for,
perhaps, half an hour, and meanwhile the rest of
the brigade returned to camp.
The casualties in this highly successful affair
were small. It was the first of six such enter-
prises, by which Brigadier-General Jeffreys, with
stubborn perseverance, broke the spirit of the
35th Sikhs -
38th Dogras -
Total casualties, 8.
212 The Malakand Field Force.
The enemy's losses were considerable, but no re-
liable details could be obtained.
On the 19th the troops rested, and only foraging
parties left the camp. On the 20th, fighting was re-
newed. From the position at the entrance to the
valley it was possible, to see all the villages that
lay in the hollows of the hills, and to distinguish
not only the scenes of past but also of future
actions. The particular village, which was selected
for chastisement, was never mentioned by name,
and it was not until the brigade had marched some
miles from the camp, that the objective became
evident. The tribesmen therefore continued in a
state of " glorious uncertainty," and were unable to
gather in really large numbers. At 5 "30 A.M. the
brigade started, and, preceded by the cavalry,
marched up the valley — a long brown stream of
men. Arrived nearly at the centre, the troops closed
up into a more compact formation. Then suddenly
the head wheeled to the left, and began marching
on the village of Zagai. Immediately from high up
on the face of the mountain a long column of smoke
shot into the air. It was a signal fire. Other hills
answered it The affair now became a question
of time. If the village could be captured and
destroyed before the clans had time to gather, then
there would be little fighting. But if the force
were delayed or became involved, it was impossible
to say on what scale the action would be.
The village of Zagai stands in a similar situation
to that of Domodoloh. On either side long spurs
advance into the valley, and the houses are built
in terraces on the sides of the hollow so formed.
At Inayat Kila.
Great chenar trees growing in all their luxuriant
beauty out of the rocky ground by the water-course,
mark the hillside with a patch of green in contrast
to the background of sombre brown. As the troops
approached in fine array, the sound of incessant
drumming was faintly heard, varied from time to
time by the notes of a bugle. The cavalry re-
connoitred and trotted off to watch the flank, after
reporting the place strongly occupied. The enemy
displayed standards on the crests of the spurs.
The advance continued : the Guides on the left,
the 38th Dogras in the centre, the Buffs on the right,
and the 35th Sikhs in reserve. Firing began on the
left at about nine o'clock, and a quarter of an hour
later the guns came into action near the centre.
The Guides and Buffs now climbed the ridges to
the right and left. The enemy fell back according
to their custom, " sniping ". Then the 38th pushed
forward and occupied the village, which was handed
over to the sappers to destroy. This they did most
thoroughly, and at eleven o'clock a dense white
smoke was rising from the houses and the stacks of
bhoosa. Then the troops were ordered to withdraw.
" Facilis ascensus Averni sed ... ; " without allow-
ing the quotation to lead me into difficulties, I will
explain that while it is usually easy to advance
against an Asiatic, all retirements are matters of
danger. While the village was being destroyed,
the enemy had been collecting. Their figures
could be distinguished on the top of the mountain
— a numerous line of dark dots against the sky ;
others had tried to come, from the adjoining valleys
on the left and right. Those on the right sue-
214 The Malakand Field Force.
ceeded, and the Buffs were soon sharply engaged.
On the left the cavalry again demonstrated the
power of their arm. A large force of tribesmen,
numbering at least 600 men, endeavoured to reach
the scene of action. To get there, however, they had
to cross the open ground, and this, in face of the
Lancers, they would not do. Many of these same
tribesmen had joined in the attack on the Malakand,
and had been chased all across the plain of Khar
by the fierce Indian horsemen. They were not
ambitious to repeat the experience. Every time
they tried to cross the space, which separated them
from their friends, Captain Cole trotted forward with
his squadron, which was only about fifty strong, and
the tribesmen immediately scurried back to the hills.
For a long time they were delayed, and contented
themselves by howling out to the sowars, that they
would soon " make mincemeat of them," to which the
latter replied that they were welcome to try. At
length, realising that they could not escape the
cavalry, if they left the hills, they made a long
circuit and arrived about half an hour after the
village was destroyed and the troops had departed.
Nevertheless, as soon as the retirement was seen
to be in progress, a general attack was made all
along the line. On the left, the Guides were
threatened by a force of about 500 men, who ad-
vanced displaying standards, and waving swords.
They dispersed these and drove them away by a
steady long-range fire, killing and wounding a large
number. On the right, the Buffs were harassed by
being commanded by another spur. Lieutenant
Hasler's company, which I accompanied, was pro-
At Inayat Kila.
tected from this flanking fire by the ground. A
great many bullets, however, hummed overhead, and
being anxious to see whence these were coming, the
lieutenant walked across the crest to the far side.
The half-company here was briskly engaged.
From a point high up the mountain an accurate
fire was directed upon them. We tried to get the
range of this point with the Lee-Metford rifles.
It was, as nearly as could be determined, 1400 yards.
The tribesmen were only armed with Martini-
Henrys. They nevertheless made excellent practice.
Lieutenant R. E. Power was shot through the arm
and, almost immediately afterwards, Lieutenant
Keene was severely wounded in the body. Luckily,
the bullet struck his sword-hilt first or he would
have been killed. Two or three men were also
wounded here. Those, who know the range and
power of the Martini-Henry rifle, will appreciate the
skill and marksmanship, which can inflict loss, even
at so great a range.
As the retirement proceeded, the tribesmen came
to closer quarters. The Buffs, however, used their
formidable weapon with great effect. I witnessed
one striking demonstration of its power. Lieu-
tenant F. S. Reeves remained behind with a dozen
men to cover the withdrawal of his company, and
in hopes of bringing effective fire to bear on the
enemy, who at this time were pressing forward
boldly. Three hundred yards away was a nullah,
and along this, they began running, in hopes of cut-
ting off the small party. At one point, however,
the line of their advance was commanded by our
fire. Presently a man ran into the open. The
2i6 The Malakand Field Force.
section fired immediately. The great advantage
of the rifle was that there was no difficulty about
guessing the exact range, as the fixed sight could
be used. The man dropped — a spot of white.
Four others rushed forward. Again there was a
volley. All four fell and remained motionless.
After this we made good our retreat almost un-
As soon as the troops were clear of the hills,
the enemy occupied the rocks and ridges, and fired
at the retreating soldiers. The Buffs' line of re-
tirement lay over smooth, open ground. For ten
minutes the fire was hot. Another officer and
seven or eight men dropped. The ground was
wet and deep, and the bullets cutting into the soft
mud, made strange and curious noises. As soon
as the troops got out of range, the firing ceased,
as the tribesmen did not dare follow into the open.
On the extreme left, considerable bodies of the
enemy appeared, and for a moment it seemed,
that they would leave the hills, and come into the
plain. The cavalry, however, trotted forward, and
they ran back in confusion, bunching together as
they did so. The battery immediately exploded
two shrapnel shells in their midst with great effect.
This ended the affair, and the troops returned to
camp. The casualties were as follows : —
Wounded severely — 2nd Lieutenant G. N. S. Keene.
,, slightly — Captain L. I. B. Hulke.
,, ,, Lieutenant R. E. Power.
Buffs I 10
(Died of wounds).
At Inayat Kila.
38th Dogras 2
Total casualties, 16.
I shall make the reader no apology for having
described at such length, what was after all only a
skirmish. The picture of the war on the frontier
is essentially one of detail, and it is by the study
of the details alone, that a true impression can be
On the 22nd and 23rd the villages of Dag, and
Tangi, were respectively captured, and destroyed,
but as the resistance was slight and the operations
were unmarked by any new features, I shall not
weary the reader by further description. The
casualties were : —
Wounded — Major S. Moody, the Buffs.
Guides Infantry i 2
38th Dogras 2
By these operations the tribesmen of the Mamund
Valley had been severely punished. Any exultation
which they might have felt over the action of the
i6th was completely effaced. The brigade had
demonstrated its power to take and burn any
village, that might be selected, and had inflicted
severe loss on all who attempted to impede its
action. The tribesmen were now thoroughly dis-
heartened, and on the 21st began to sue for peace.
The situation was, however, complicated by the
proximity of the Afghan frontier. The western
21 8 The Malakand Field Force.
side of the Mamund Valley is bounded by the
mountains of the Hindu Raj range, along the sum-
mits of which is the Durand line of demarcation
with the Amir. On the farther side of this range
Gholam Hyder, the Afghan commander-in-chief,
lay with a powerful force, which, at the time of the
actions, I have described, amounted to nine bat-
talions, six squadrons and fourteen mountain guns.
During the attack upon Zagai, numerous figures in
khaki uniform, had been observed on the higher slopes
of the hills, and it was alleged, that one particular
group appeared to be directing the movements of
the tribesmen. At any rate, I cannot doubt, nor
did any one who was present during the fighting
in the Mamund Valley, that the natives were aided
by regular soldiers from the Afghan army, and to
a greater extent by Afghan tribesmen, not only by
the supply of arms and ammunition but by actual
I am not in possession of sufficient evidence to
pronounce on the question of the Amir's complicity
in the frontier risings. It is certain, that for many
years, the Afghan policy has consistently been to
collect and preserve agents, who might be used in
raising a revolt among the Pathan tribes. But the
advantages, which the Amir would derive from a
quarrel with the British are not apparent. It would
seem more probable, that he has only tried through-
out to make his friendship, a matter of more im-
portance to the Indian Government, with a view to
the continuance or perhaps the increase of his sub-
sidy. It is possible, that he has this year tested and
displayed his power ; and that he has desired to show
At Inayat Kila.
us what a dangerous foe he might be, were he not
so useful an ally. The question is a delicate and
difficult one. Most of the evidence is contained in
Secret State Papers, The inquiry would be profit-
less ; the result possibly unwelcome. Patriotic dis-
cretion is a virtue which should at all times be
I do not see that the facts, I have stated, diminish
or increase the probability of the Amir's complicity.
As the American filibusters sympathise with the
Cuban insurgents ; as the Jameson raiders supported
the outlanders of the Transvaal, so also the soldiers
and tribesmen of Afghanistan, sympathised with and
aided their countrymen and co-religionists across the
border. Probably the Afghan Colonial Office would
have been vindicated by any inquiry.
It is no disparagement but rather to the honour
of men, that they should be prepared to back with
their lives, causes which claim their sympathy. It
is indeed to such men, that human advancement
has been due. I do not allude to this matter, to
raise hostile feelings against the Afghan tribesmen
or their ruler, but only to explain the difficulties
encountered in the Mamund Valley by the 2nd
Brigade of the Malakand Field Force : to explain
how it was that defenders of obscure villages were
numbered by thousands, and why the weapons of
poverty-stricken agriculturists, were excellent Mar-
The Mamunds themselves were now genuinely
anxious for peace. Their valley was in our hands ;
their villages and crops were at our mercy ; but
their allies, who suffered none of these things, were
220 The Malakand Field Force.
eager to continue the struggle. They had captured
most of the rifles of the dead soldiers on the i6th,
and they had no intention of giving them up. On
the other hand, it was obvious, that the British Raj
could not afford to be defied in this matter. We
had insisted on the rifles being surrendered, and that
expensive factor, Imperial prestige, demanded that,
we should prosecute operations till we got them, no
matter what the cost might be. The rifles were
worth little. The men and officers, we lost, were
worth a great deal. It was unsound economics, but
Imperialism and economics clash as often as honesty
and self-interest. We were therefore committed to
the policy of throwing good money after bad, in
order to keep up our credit ; as a man who cannot
pay his tradesmen, sends them fresh orders in lieu
of settlement. Under these unsatisfactory con-
ditions, the negotiations opened. They did not,
however, interfere with the military situation, and
the troops continued to forage daily in the valley,
and the tribesmen to fire nightly into the camp.
At the end of the week a message from the
Queen, expressing sympathy with the sufferings of
the wounded, and satisfaction at the conduct of
the troops, was published in Brigade orders. It
caused the most lively pleasure to all, but particu-
larly to the native soldiers, who heard with pride
and exultation, that their deeds and dangers were
not unnoticed by that august Sovereign, before
whom they know all their princes bow, and to whom
the Sirkar itself, is but a servant. The cynic and
the socialist may sneer after their kind ; yet the
patriot, who examines with anxious care those forces,
At Inayat Kila.
which tend to the cohesion or disruption of great
communities, will observe, how much the influence
of a loyal sentiment promotes the solidarity of the
The reader must now accompany me to the camp
of the 3rd Brigade, twelve miles away, at Nawagai.
We shall return to the Mamund Valley and have
a further opportunity of studying its people and
" When the wild Bajaur mountain men lay choking with their blood,
And the Kafirs held their footing. ..."
"A Sermon in Lower Bengal," Sir A. Lyall.
" The Light of Asia " — The Strategic Situation — Decision of the
General — Rival Inducements — Alarums and Excursions — The
Night Attack— The Casualties— Dismay of the Tribes— The
Mohmand Field Force — Sir Pertab Singh — Polo as an
Imperial Factor — Departure of the 3rd Brigade.
Few spectacles in nature are so mournful and so
sinister, as the implacable cruelty with which a
wounded animal is pursued by its fellows. Perhaps
it is due to a cold and bracing climate, perhaps to
a Christian civilisation, that the Western peoples of
the world have to a great extent risen above this
low original instinct. Among Europeans power
provokes antagonism, and weakness excites pity.
All is different in the East. Beyond Suez the bent
of men's minds is such, that safety lies only in
success, and peace in prosperity. All desert the
falling. All turn upon the fallen.
The reader may have been struck, in the account
of the fighting in the Mamund Valley, with the
vigour with which the tribesmen follow up a retreat-
ing enemy and press an isolated party. In war this
is sound, practical policy. But the hillmen adopt it
* See map of operations in Bajaur, facing p. 232.
rather from a natural propensity, than from military
knowledge. Their tactics are the outcome of their
natures. All their actions, moral, political, strategic,
are guided by the same principle. The powerful
tribes, who had watched the passage of the troops
in sullen fear, only waited for a sign of weakness to
rise behind them. As long as the brigades dominated
the country, and appeared confident and successful,
their communications would be respected, and the
risings localised ; but a check, a reverse, a retreat
would raise tremendous combinations on every side.
If the reader will bear this in mind, it will enable
him to appreciate the position with which this
chapter deals, and may explain many other matters
which are beyond the scope of these pages. For
it might be well also to remember, that the great
drama of frontier war is played before a vast,
silent but attentive audience, who fill a theatre, that
reaches from Peshawar to Colombo, and from
Kurrachee to Rangoon.
The strategic and political situation, with which
Sir Bindon Blood was confronted at Nawagai on
the 17th of September, was one of difficulty and
danger. He had advanced into a hostile country.
In his front the Mohmands had gathered at the
Hadda Mullah's call to oppose his further progress.
The single brigade, he had with him, was not strong
enough to force the Bedmanai Pass, which the enemy
held. The 2nd Brigade, on which he had counted,
was fully employed twelve miles away in the
Mamund Valley. The ist Brigade, nearly four
marches distant on the Panjkora River, had not
sufficient transport to move. Meanwhile General
224 The Malakand Field Force.
Elles's division was toiling painfully through the
difficult country north-east of Shabkadr, and
could not arrive for several days. He was there-
fore isolated, and behind him was the " net-work of
ravines," through which a retirement would be a
matter of the greatest danger and difficulty.
Besides this, his line of communications, stretching
away through sixty miles of hostile country, or
country that at any moment might become hostile,
was seriously threatened by the unexpected out-
break in the Mamund Valley. He was between two
fires. Nor was this all. The Khan of Nawagai, a
chief of great power and influence, was only kept
loyal by the presence of Sir Bindon Blood's brigade.
Had that brigade marched, as w^as advocated by
the Government of India, back to join Brigadier-
General Jeffreys in the Mamund Valley, this power-
ful chief would have thrown his whole weight
against the British. The flame in the Mamund
Valley, joining the flame in the Bedmanai Pass,
would have produced a mighty conflagration, and
have spread far and wide among the inflammable
tribesmen. Bajaur would have risen to a man.
Swat, in spite of its recent punishment, would have
stirred ominously. Dir would have repudiated its
ruler and joined the combination. The whole
mountain region would have been ablaze. Every
valley would have poured forth armed men.
General Elles, arriving at Lakarai, would have
found, instead of a supporting brigade, a hostile
gathering, and might even have had to return to
Shabkadr without accomplishing anything.
Sir Bindon Blood decided to remain at Nawagai ;
to cut the Hadda Mullah's gathering from the
tribesmen in the Mamund Valley ; to hold out a
hand to General Elles ; to keep the pass open and
the khan loyal. Nawagai was the key of the situa-
tion. But that key could not be held without much
danger. It was a bold course to take, but it suc-
ceeded, as bold courses, soundly conceived, usually
do. He therefore sent orders to Jeffreys to press
operations against the Mamund tribesmen ; assured
the Khan of Nawagai of the confidence of the
Government, and of their determination to " pro-
tect " him from all enemies ; heliographed to Gen-
eral Elles that he would meet him at Nawagai ;
entrenched his camp and waited.
He did not wait long in peace. The tribesmen,
whose tactical instincts, have been evolved by cen-
turies of ceaseless war, were not slow to realise, that
the presence of the 3rd Brigade at Nawagai was
fatal to their hopes. They accordingly resolved to
attack it. The Sufifi and Hadda Mullahs exerted
the whole of their influence upon their credulous
followers. The former appealed to the hopes of
future happiness. Every Ghazi, who fell fighting
should sit above the Caaba at the very footstool of
the throne, and in that exalted situation and august
presence should be solaced for his sufferings by the
charms of a double allowance of celestial beauty.
Mullah Hadda used even more concrete induce-
ments. The muzzles of the guns should be stopped
for those who charged home. No bullet should
harm them. They should be invulnerable. They
should not go to Paradise yet. They should continue
to live honoured and respected upon earth. This
226 The Malakand Field Force.
promise appears to have carried more weight, as the
Hadda Mullah's followers had three times as many
killed and wounded as the candidates for the pleas-
ures of the world to come. It would almost seem,
that in the undeveloped minds of these wild and
superstitious sons of the mountains, there lie the
embryonic germs of economics and practical philo-
sophy, pledges of latent possibilities of progress.
Some for the pleasures of this world, and some
Sigh for the prophet's paradise to come.
Ah ! take the cash and let the credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant drum.^
It is the practice of wise commanders in all war-
fare, to push their cavalry out every evening along
the lines of possible attack, to make sure that no
enemy has concentrated near the camp in the hopes
of attacking at nightfall. On the i8th. Captain
Delamain's squadron of the nth Bengal Lancers
came in contact with scattered parties of the enemy
coming from the direction of the Bedmanai Pass.
Desultory skirmishing ensued, and the cavalry
retired to camp. Some firing took place that night,
and a soldier of the Queen's Regiment who strayed
about fifty yards from his picket, was pulled down
and murdered by the savage enemies, who were
lurking all around. The next evening the cavalry
reconnoitred as usual. The squadron pushed for-
ward protected by its line of advanced scouts across
the plain towards the Bedmanai Pass. Suddenly
from a nullah a long line of tribesmen rose and
fired a volley. A horse was shot. The squadron
wheeled about and cantered off, having succeeded
^ Omar Khayyam.
in what is technically called "establishing con-
A great gathering of the enemy, some 3000 strong,
now appeared in the plain. For about half an hour
before sunset they danced, shouted and discharged
their rifles. The mountain battery fired a few shells,
but the distance was too great to do much good,
or shall I say harm ? Then it became dark. The
whole brigade remained that night in the expecta-
tion of an attack, but only a very half-hearted
attempt was made. This was easily repulsed, one
man in the Queen's Regiment being killed among
On the 20th, however, definite information was re-
ceived from the Khan of Nawagai, that a determined
assault would be made on the camp that night.
The cavalry reconnaissance again came in touch
with the enemy at nightfall. The officers had dinner
an hour earlier, and had just finished, when, at
about 8*30, firing began. The position of the camp
was commanded, though at long ranges, by the
surrounding heights. From these a searching rifle
fire was now opened. All the tents were struck.
The officers and men not employed in the trenches
were directed to lie down. The majority of the
bullets, clearing the parapets of the entrenchment on
one side, whizzed across without doing any harm to
the prostrate figures ; but all walking about was
perilous, and besides this the plunging fire from the
heights was galling to every one.
Determined and vigorous sword charges were
now delivered on all sides of the camp. The enemy,
who numbered about 40CX), displayed the greatest
22 8 The Malakand Field Force.
valour. They rushed right up to the trenches and
fell dead and dying, under the very bayonets of
the troops. The brunt of the attack fell upon
the British Infantry Regiment, the Queen's. This
was fortunate, as many who were in camp that
night say, that such was the determination of the
enemy in their charges, that had they not been con-
fronted with magazine rifles, they might have got
into the entrenchments.
The fire of the British was, however, crushing.
Their discipline was admirable, and the terrible
weapon with which they were armed, with its more
terrible bullet, stopped every rush. The soldiers,
confident in their power, were under perfect control.
When the enemy charged, the order to employ
magazine fire was passed along the ranks. The
guns fired star shell. These great rockets, bursting
into stars in the air, slowly fell to the ground shed-
ding a pale and ghastly light, on the swarming figures
of the tribesmen, as they ran swiftly forward. Then
the popping of the musketry, became one intense
roar as the ten cartridges, which the magazine of
the rifle holds, were discharged almost instan-
taneously. Nothing could live in front of such a
fire. Valour, ferocity, fanaticism, availed nothing.
All were swept away. The whistles sounded. The
independent firing stopped, with machine-like pre-
cision, and the steady section volleys were resumed.
This happened not once, but a dozen times during
the six hours that the attack was maintained. The
20th Punjaub Infantry, and the cavalry also, sus-
tained and repulsed the attacks delivered against
their fronts with steadiness. At length the tribes-
men sickened of the slaughter, and retired to their
hills in gloom and disorder.
The experience of all in the camp that night
was most unpleasant. Those who were in the
trenches were the best off. The others, with
nothing to do and nothing to look at, remained
for six hours lying down wondering whether the
next bullet would hit them or not. Some idea
of the severity of the fire may be obtained from
the fact that a single tent showed sixteen bullet
Brigadier-General Wodehouse was wounded at
about eleven o'clock. He had walked round the
trenches and conferred with his commanding
officers as to the progress of the attack and the
expenditure of ammunition, and had just left Sir
Bindon Blood's side, after reporting, when a bullet
struck him in the leg, inflicting a severe and pain-
ful, though fortunately not a dangerous, wound.
Considering the great number of bullets, that had
fallen in the camp, the British loss was surprisingly
small. The full return is as follows : —
Wounded severely — Brigadier-General Wodehouse.
,, slightly — Veterinary-Captain Mann.
Queen's Regiment - - - 1 3
Native Ranks — Wounded, 20.
Followers — 6.
Total, 32 of all ranks.
The casualties among the cavalry horses, and
transport animals were most severe. Over 120
were killed and wounded,
230 The Malakand Field Force.
The enemy drew off, carrying their dead with
them, for the most part, but numerous bodies
lying outside the shelter trench, attested the valour
and vigour of their attack. One man was found
the next morning, whose head had been half blown
off, by a discharge of case shot from one of the
mountain guns. He lay within a yard of the
muzzle, the muzzle he had believed would be
stopped, a victim to that blind credulity and
fanaticism, now happily passing away from the
earth, under the combined influences of Rationalism
and machine guns.
It was of course very difficult to obtain any
accurate estimate of the enemy's losses. It was
proved, however, that 200 corpses were buried on
the following day in the neighbourhood, and large
numbers of wounded men were reported to have
been carried through the various villages. A rough
estimate should place their loss at about 700.
The situation was now cleared. The back of the
Hadda Mullah's gathering was broken, and it dis-
persed rapidly. The Khan of Nawagai feverishly
protested his unswerving loyalty to the Govern-
ment. The Mkmunds were disheartened. The
next day General Elles's leading brigade appeared
in the valley. Sir Bindon Blood rode out with his
cavalry. The two generals met at Lakarai. It
was decided that General Elles should be reinforced
by the 3rd Brigade of the Malakand Field Force,
and should clear the Bedmanai Pass and complete
the discomfiture of the Hadda Mullah. Sir Bindon
Blood with the cavalry would join Jeffreys' force
in the Mamund Valley, and deal with the situation
there. The original plan of taking two brigades
from the Malakand to Peshawar was thus discarded ;
and such troops of Sir Bindon Blood's force as
were required for the Tirah expedition would,
with the exception of the 3rd Brigade, reach their
points of concentration via Nowshera. As will be
seen, this plan was still further modified to meet
the progress of events.
I had rejoined the 3rd Brigade on the morning
of the 2 1 St, and in the evening availed myself of an
escort, which was proceeding across the valley, to
ride over and see General Elles's brigade. The
mobilisation of the Mohmand Field Force, was
marked by the employment, for the first time, of
the Imperial Service Troops. The Maharaja of
Patiala, and Sir Pertab Singh, were both with the
force. The latter was sitting outside his tent, ill
with fever, but cheery and brave as ever. The
spectacle of this splendid Indian prince, whose
magnificent uniform in the Jubilee procession had
attracted the attention of all beholders, now clothed
in business-like khaki, and on service at the head
of his regiment, aroused the most pleasing reflec-
tions. With all its cost in men and money, and all
its military and political mistakes, the great Frontier
War of 1897 has at least shown on what founda-
tions the British rule in India rests, and made clear
who are our friends and who our enemies.
I could not help thinking, that polo has had a
good deal to do with strengthening the good rela-
tions of the Indian princes and the British officers.
It may seem strange to speak of polo as an Imperial
factor, but it would not be the first time in history
232 The Malakand Field Force.
that national games have played a part in high
politics. Polo has been the common ground, on
which English and Indian gentlemen have met on
equal terms, and it is to that meeting that much
mutual esteem and respect is due. Besides this,
polo has been the salvation of the subaltern in
India, and the young officer no longer, as hereto-
fore, has a " centre piece " of brandy on his table
night and day. The pony and polo stick have drawn
him from his bungalow and mess-room, to play a
game which must improve his nerve, his judgment
and his temper. The author of the Indian Polity
asserts that the day will come when British and
native officers, will serve together in ordinary
seniorit}^, and on the same footing. From what I
know of the British officer, I do not myself believe,
that this is possible, but if it should ever come to
pass, the way will have been prepared on the polo
The camp of the 3rd Brigade, was not attacked
again. The tribesmen had learnt a bitter lesson
from their experiences of the night before. The
trenches were, however, lined at dark, and as small
parties of the enemy were said to be moving about
across the front, occupied by the Queen's, there
was some very excellent volley firing at intervals
throughout the night. A few dropping shots came
back out of the darkness, but no one was the worse,
and the majority of the force, made up for the sleep
they had lost the night before.
The next morning Sir Bindon Blood, his staff
and three squadrons of the nth Bengal Lancers,
rode back through the pass of Nawagai, and joined
General Jeffreys at Inayat Kila. The 3rd Brigade
now left the Malakand Field Force, and passed
under the command of General Elles and beyond
the proper limits of this chronicle ; but for the sake
of completeness, and as the reader may be anxious
to hear more of the fine regiment, whose astonishing
fire relieved the strategic situation at Nawagai, and
inflicted such terrible losses on the Hadda Mullah's
adherents, I shall briefly trace their further fortunes.
After General Wodehouse was wounded the com-
mand of the 3rd Brigade devolved upon Colonel
Graves. They were present at the forcing of the
Bedmanai Pass on the 29th of September, and on
the two following days they were employed in
destroying the fortified villages in the Mitai and
Suran valleys ; but as these operations were
unattended by much loss of life, the whole brigade
reached Shabkadr with only three casualties.
Thence the Queen's were despatched to Peshawar
to take part in the Tirah expedition, in which
they have added to the high reputation they had
acquired in the Malakand and Mohmand Field
BACK TO THE MAMUND VALLEY.
" Again I revisit the hills where we sported,
The streams where we swam, and the fields where we fought."
" On a Distant View of Harrow," Byron.
Dulce Domum — Reorganisation — The Peace Negotiations — Re-
newal of Hostilities — Destruction — Some Misconceptions —
The Attack upon Agrah — The Royal West Kent — A Soldier's
Fate — The Artillery — The Casualties — Reinforcements —
Affair of 3rd October — The loth Field Battery — The Com-
pensations of War.
It is with a vague and undefined feeling of satisfac-
tion, that I conduct the reader back to the entrenched
camp of Inayat Kila at the entrance of the Mamund
Valley, where so much happened, and with which
so many memories and experiences are associated.
Now that the troops are gone, the scene of life and
activity has become solitary and silent. The graves
of the officers and men, who fell there, are lost in the
level of the plain. Yet the name is still remembered
in not a few English homes, nor will the tribesmen,
looking at the deserted entrenchment, easily forget
the visit of the 2nd Brigade.
When, on the afternoon of the 15th, the camp had
first been pitched, only a small and hasty shelter-
trench surrounded it. But as the weeks passed, the
parapets grew higher, the ditches deeper, and the
pits more numerous, until the whole place became
Back to the Mamund Valley. 235
a redoubt. Traverses were built along the perimeter
to protect the defenders from flanking fire. Great
walls of earth and stone sheltered the horses and
mules. Fifty yards out, round the whole camp, a
wire trip was carefully laid, to break a rush, and the
paths and tracks leading to the entrances, had be-
come beaten, level roads. The aspect of permanency
Since the action of the i6th September, the 2nd
Brigade had been unable to move. Transport —
the life and soul of an army — is an even more
vital factor here, than in less undeveloped countries.
The mobility of a brigade depends entirely on its
pack animals. On the 14th many mules were
killed. On the i6th the field hospitals were
filled with wounded. It now became impossible
for the camp to move, because the wounded
could not be carried. It was impossible to leave
them behind, because, deducting an adequate
guard, the rest of the brigade would have been too
few for fighting. The 2nd Brigade was therefore a
fixture. Its striking power was limited to out and
home marches. The first step taken by Sir Bindon
Blood was to restore its mobility by getting the
wounded sent down to the base. Some changes
in the constitution of the force were also made.
The nth Bengal Lancers, who now joined the
Mohmand Field Force, were succeeded by the
Guides Cavalry. The 35th Sikhs, who had suffered
such severe losses, were replaced by the 31st Pun-
jaub Infantry from Panjkora. The Buffs, who
were full of fever, were exchanged for the Royal
West Kent from the Malakand. No. 7 British
236 The Malakand Field Force.
Mountain Battery took the place of No. 8, which
was now reduced to four guns, having lost in the
week's fighting half its officers, a third of its mules,
and a quarter of its men.
Camels to carry the wounded were sent up from
Panjkora. The Buffs escorted the long convoy
down the line of communications. Every one in
camp was sorry to see the last of them. In the
fighting of the week they had made it clear, that
the British Infantry battalion, is the backbone of
every mixed brigade, and they shared with the
Guides Infantry one of those enviable reputations
for steadiness, which are so hard to gain and so easy
to lose on active service.
On the 24th of September Sir Bindon Blood
received despatches appointing him to the com-
mand of the First Division of the Tirah Expedi-
tionary Force, and as the negotiations with the
Mamund Jirgahs were then in progress, and it
seemed that a settlement might be reached, he pro-
ceeded with his staff to Panjkora. Here he was
on the telegraph wire, and could communicate
easily and quickly with India, and at the same
time watch the progress of events at Inayat Kila.
Mr. Davis conducted the diplomatic relations with
the Mamunds. On the 26th a Jirgah from the
tribe came into camp. They deposited 4000
rupees as a token of submission, and brought in
fifty firearms. These, however, were of the oldest
and most antiquated types, and were obviously
not the weapons, with which so many soldiers
had been killed and wounded. This was pointed
out to the tribal representatives. They protested
Back to the Mamund Valley. 237
that they had no others. They were poor men, they
said, and their property was at the mercy of the
Government. But they had no other arms.
The political officer was firm, and his terms were
explicit. Either they must give up the twenty-two
rifles captured from the 35th Sikhs, on the i6th, or
their villages would be destroyed. No other terms
would he accept. To this they replied, that they
had not got the rifles. They had all been taken, they
said, and I think, with truth, by the Afghan tribes-
men from the Kunar Valley. These would not
give them up. Besides — this also with truth — they
had been taken in "fair war".
One man, who had lived some years in Calcutta,
was especially eloquent on the subject, and argued
the case with much skill. He was, however,
crushed by Mr. Davis asking whether there were
" no greybeards in the tribe," and why they were
" led by a babu ".^ The discussion was extended
to the whole question of their quarrel with the
British power. They admitted having sent their
young men to attack the Malakand and Chakdara.
" All the world was going ghaza^ they said. They
could not stay behind. They also owned to having
gone five miles from their valley to attack the
camp at Markhanai. Why had the Sirkar burnt
their village? they asked. They had only tried to
get even — for the sake of their honour. All this
showed a most unsatisfactory spirit from the
Government point of view, and it was evident, that
the brigade could not leave the valley until the
tribesmen adopted a more submissive attitude. The
^ A native clerk — the Oriental embodiment of Red Tape.
238 The Malakand Field Force.
matter reverted to the crucial point. Would they give
up their rifles or not? To this they replied evasively,
that they would consult their fellow-tribesmen and
return an answer on the next day. This practically
amounted to a refusal, and as no reply was received
on the 27th, the negotiations ceased.
In consequence of this and of the threatening
attitude of the tribesmen throughout Dir and
Bajaur, Sir Bindon Blood telegraphed to the
Government of India and recommended the reten-
tion of a large force in these territories. By so
doing he virtually resigned the command which
awaited him in the Tirah expedition. This dis-
interested decision caused the liveliest satisfaction
throughout the force. The Government accepted
the advice of their general. The Tirah force was
reconstituted, and Major-General W. P. Symons
received the command of its first division. A force
of eleven battalions, seven squadrons and three
batteries was placed at Sir Bindon Blood's disposal,
and he was directed to deal with the local situation
as he should see fit. He immediately ordered
General Jeffreys to resume the punitive operations
against the Mamunds.
In pursuance of these orders, the 2nd Brigade, on
the 29th, destroyed all the villages in the centre of
the valley, some twelve or fourteen in number, and
blew up with dynamite upwards of thirty towers
and forts. The whole valley was filled with the
smoke, which curled upwards in dense and numer-
ous columns, and hung like a cloud over the
scene of destruction. The continued explosions of
the demolitions resembled a bombardment. The
Back to the Mamund Valley. 239
tribesmen, unable to contend with the troops
I in the open, remained sullenly on the hillsides, and
\ contented themselves with firing from long range at
I the cavalry patrols.
I I feel, that this is a fitting moment to discuss
I the questions which village-burning raises. I have
j described with independent impartiality the progress
of the quarrel between the British and the tribesmen.
In a similar spirit I approach the examination of
the methods of offence employed. Many miscon-
ceptions, some of which are caused by an extra-
ordinary ignorance, exist on this subject in England.
One member of the House of Commons asked the
Secretary of State whether, in the punishment of
villages, care was taken that only the houses of the
guilty parties should be destroyed. He was
gravely told that great care was taken. The
spectacle of troops, who have perhaps carried a
village with the bayonet and are holding it against
a vigorous counter-attack, when every moment
means loss of life and increase of danger, going
round and carefully discriminating which houses
are occupied by " guilty parties," and which by
unoffending people, is sufficiently ridiculous.
Another member asked, " Whether the villages were
destroyed or only the fortifications". Only the
fortifications," replied the minister guilelessly.
What is the actual fact ? All along the Afghan
border every man's house is his castle. The villages
are the fortifications, the fortifications are the
villages. Every house is loopholed, and whether
it has a tower or not depends only on its owner's
wealth. A third legislator, in the columns of his
240 The Malakand Field Force.
amusing weekly journal, discussed the question at
some length, and commented on the barbarity of
such tactics. They were not only barbarous, he
affirmed, but senseless. Where did the inhabitants
of the villages go ? To the enemy of course !
This reveals, perhaps, the most remarkable miscon-
ception of the actual facts. The writer seemed
to imagine, that the tribesmen consisted of a regular
army, who fought, and a peaceful, law-abiding
population, who remained at their business, and
perhaps protested against the excessive military
expenditure from time to time. Whereas in reality,
throughout these regions, every inhabitant is a
soldier from the first day he is old enough to hurl
a stone, till the last day he has strength to pull
a trigger, after which he is probably murdered as
an encumbrance to the community.
Equipped with these corrected facts, I invite the
reader to examine the question of the legitimacy of
village-burning for himself A camp of a British
brigade, moving at the order of the Indian Govern-
ment and under the acquiescence of the people of
the United Kingdom, is attacked at night. Several
valuable and expensive officers, soldiers and trans-
port animals are killed and wounded. The
assailants retire to the hills. Thither it is im-
possible to follow them. They cannot be caught.
They cannot be punished. Only one remedy
remains — their property must be destroyed.^ Their
^ It may be of interest, to consider for a moment the contrast
between the effects of village-burning on the Indian Frontier
and in Cuba. In Cuba a small section of the population are in re-
volt ; the remainder are sympathisers. To screw these lukewarm
partisans up to the fighting-point, the insurgents destroy their
Back to the Mamund Valley. 241
villages are made hostages for their good behaviour.
They are fully aware of this, and when they make
an attack on a camp or convoy, they do it because
they have considered the cost and think it worth
while. Of course, it is cruel and barbarous, as is
everything else in war, but it is only an unphilo-
sophic mind, that will hold it legitimate to take a
man's life, and illegitimate to destroy his property.
The burning of mud hovels cannot at any rate
be condemned by nations, whose customs of war
justify the bombardment of the dwelling-houses of
a city, like Paris, to induce the garrison to sur-
render by the sufferings of the non-combatants.
In official parlance the burning of villages is
, usually expressed euphemistically as So many
villages were visited and punished," or, again, " The
fortifications were demolished I do not believe in
all this circumlocution. The lack of confidence in
the good sense of the British democracy, which the
Indian Government displays, is one of its least
admirable characteristics. Exeter Hall is not all
England ; and the people of our islands only require
to have the matter put fairly before them to arrive at
sound, practical conclusions. If this were not so, we
should not occupy our present position in the world.
villages and burn the sugar-cane. This, by placing the alterna-
tive of" fight or starve " before the inhabitants, has the effect of
driving them to take up arms against the Spaniards, whom they
all hate, and join the rebels in the field. Thus in Cuba it is
the endeavour of the Government to protect property, and of the
rebels to destroy it. It was with the aim of keeping the wavering
population loyal, that General Weyler collected them all into the
towns, with such painful results. His policy was cruel but sound,
and, had it been accompanied by vigorous military operations,
might have been successful.
242 The Malakand Field Force.
To return to the Mamund Valley. The differ-
ence between villages in the plains, and those in the
hills, was forcibly demonstrated. On the 29th over
a dozen villages in the plains were destroyed with-
out the loss of a single life. On the 30th the tale
ran somewhat differently. The village of Agrah
adjoins the village of Zagai, the capture of which
has already been recorded. It stood in a broad
re-entrant of the mountains, and amid ground so
tangled and broken, that to move over it is
difficult, and to describe it impossible. On the
steep face of the mountain great rocks, sometimes
thirty feet high, lay tossed about : interspersed with
these were huts or narrow terraces, covered with
crops, and rising one above the other by great
steps of ten or twelve feet each. The attack on
such a place, was further complicated by the fact
that the same re-entrant contained another village
called Gat, which had to be occupied at the
same time. This compelled the brigade to attack
on a broader front than their numbers allowed.
It was evident, as the Guides Cavalry approached
the hills, that resistance was contemplated. Several
red standards were visible to the naked eye, and
the field-glasses disclosed numerous figures lining
the ridges and spurs. The squadrons, advancing as
far as the scrub would allow them, soon drew the
fire of isolated skirmishers. Several troops dis-
mounted, and returned the salute with their car-
bines, and at 8*45 a dropping musketry fire began.
The brigade now came into action in the follow-
ing formation. The cavalry on the extreme left,
covered the head of a considerable valley, from
Back to the Mamund Valley. 243
which the flank was threatened ; the Guides In-
fantry and the Royal West Kent Regiment pro-
longed the line to the centre of the attack ; the
31st Punjaub Infantry moved against the spurs to
the right of the village, and the 38th Dogras were
in reserve. The action was begun by the Guides
Infantry storming the ridges to the left of the
enemy's position. These were strongly held and
fortified by sungars, behind which the defenders
were sheltered. The Guides advanced at a brisk
pace, and without much firing, across the open
ground to the foot of the hills. The tribesmen,
shooting from excellent cover, maintained a hot
fire. The bullets kicked up the dust in all direc-
tions, or whistled viciously through the air ; but
the distance was short, and it was soon apparent,
that the enemy did not mean to abide the assault.
When the troops got within 100 yards and fixed
bayonets, a dozen determined men were still firing
from the sungars. The Afridi and Pathan com-
panies of the Guides, uttering shrill cries of exulta-
tion, culminating in an extraordinary yell, dashed
forward, climbed the hill as only hillmen can
climb, and cleared the crest. On the side of the
next hill the figures of the retreating tribesmen
were visible, and many were shot down before they
could find shelter.
It was a strange thing, to watch these conspicuous
forms toiling up the hillside, dodging this way and
that way, as the bullets cut into the earth around
them ; but with the experience of the previous ten
minutes fresh in the memory, pity was not one of
the emotions it aroused. A good many fell, sub-
244 The Malakand Field Force.
siding peacefully, and lying quite still. Their fall
was greeted by strange little yells of pleasure from
the native soldiers. These Afridi and Pathan com-
panies of the Guides Infantry suggest nothing so
much as a well-trained pack of hounds. Their cries,
their movements, and their natures are similar.
The West Kents had now come into line on the
Guides' right, and while the latter held the long
ridge they had taken, the British regiment moved
upon the village. Here the resistance became very
severe. The tangled and broken ground, rising in
terraces, sometimes ten feet high, and covered with
high crops, led to fighting at close quarters with
loss on both sides. Loud and continuous grew
the musketry fire. The 31st Punjaub Infantry,
who had ascended the spur on the right, soon joined
hands with the West Kents, and both regiments
became hotly engaged. Meantime the Mountain
Battery, which had come into action near the
centre, began to throw its shells over the heads of
the infantry on to the higher slopes, from which the
enemy were firing. It soon became evident, that
the troops were too few for the work. On the left
the Guides Infantry, were unable to leave the ridge
they had captured, lest it should be reoccupied by
the enemy, who were showing in great strength. A
gap opened in consequence, between the Guides
and Royal West Kents, and this enabled the tribes-
men to get round the left flank of the British
regiment, while the 31st Punjaub Infantry, on the
right, were also turned by the enveloping enemy.
It is to these circumstances that most of the losses
Back to the Mamund Valley. 245
The British regiment forced its way through the
village, and encountered the enemy strongly posted
in sungars among the rocks above it. Here they
were sharply checked. The leading company had
stormed one of these fortifications, and the enemy
at once retired higher up the hill. About fifteen
men were inside the work, and perhaps thirty more
just below it. The whole place was commanded
by the higher ground. The enemy's fire was
accurate and intense.
Of those inside, four or five were instantly killed
or wounded. The sungar was a regular trap, and
the company were ordered to retire. Lieutenant
Browne-Clayton remained till the last, to watch the
withdrawal, and in so doing was shot dead, the
bullet severing the blood-vessels near the heart. The
two or three men who remained, were handing down
. his body over the rock wall, when they were charged
by about thirty Ghazis and driven down the hill.
A hundred and fifty yards away, Major Western
had three companies of the West Kents in support.
He immediately ordered Captain Styles to retake
the sungar, and recover the body. The company
charged. Captain Styles was the first to reach the
stone wall, and with Lieutenant Jackson cleared it
of such of the enemy as remained. Five or six
men were wounded in the charge, and others fell in
the sungar. The advanced position of this company
was soon seen to be untenable, and they were
ordered to fall back to the edge of the village,
where the whole regiment was hotly engaged.
Meanwhile the 31st Punjaub Infantry, who had
advanced under Colonel O'Bryen on the right,
246 The Malakand Field Force.
were exposed to a severe fire from a rocky ridge on
their flank. Their attack was directed against a
great mass of boulders, some of them of enormous
size, which were tenaciously held by the enemy.
The fighting soon became close. The two ad-
vanced companies were engaged at a distance of
under 100 yards. Besides this the cross fire from
their right flank added to the difficulties. In such
a position the presence of Colonel O'Bryen was in-
valuable. Moving swiftly from point to point, he
directed the fire and animated the spirit of the
men, who were devoted to him. It was not long
before the enemy's marksmen began to take aim
at this prominent figure. But for a considerable
period, although bullets struck the ground every-
where around him, he remained unhurt. At last,
however, he was shot through the body, and carried
mortally wounded from the action.
I pause to consider for a moment the conditions,
and circumstances, by which the pursuit of a military
career differs from all others. In political life, in
art, in engineering, the man with talents who
behaves with wisdom, may steadily improve his
position in the world. If he makes no mistakes he
will probably achieve success. But the soldier is
more dependent upon external influences. The
only way he can hope to rise above the others, is
by risking his life in frequent campaigns. All his
fortunes, whatever they may be, all his position
and weight in the world, all his accumulated
capital, as it were, must be staked afresh each time he
goes into action. He may have seen twenty en-
gagements, and be covered with decorations and
Back to the Mamund Valley. 247
medals. He may be marked as a rising soldier.
And yet each time he comes under fire his chances
of being killed are as great as, and perhaps greater
than, those of the youngest subaltern, whose luck is
fresh. The statesman, who has put his power to the
test, and made a great miscalculation, may yet re-
trieve his fortunes. But the indiscriminating bullet
settles everything. As the poet somewhat grimly
has it : —
Stone-dead hath no better.
Colonel O'Bryen had been specially selected,
while still a young man, for the command of a
battalion. He had made several campaigns. Al-
ready he had passed through the drudgery of the
lower ranks of the service, and all the bigger prizes of
the military profession appeared in view: and though
the death in action, of a colonel at the head of his
regiment, is as fine an end as a soldier can desire, it
is mournful to record the abrupt termination of an
honourable career at a point when it might have
been of much value to the State.
The pressure now , became so strong along the
whole line that the brigadier, fearing that the troops
might get seriously involved, ordered the withdrawal
to commence. The village was however burning,
and the enemy, who had also suffered severely from
the close fighting, did not follow up with their usual
vigour. The battery advanced to within 600 yards
of the enemy's line, and opened a rapid fire of shrap-
nel to clear those spurs that commanded the line of
retirement. The shells screamed over the heads of
the West Kent Regiment, who were now clear of
the hills and in front of the guns, and burst in little
248 The Malakand Field Force.
white puffs of smoke along the crest of the ridge,
tearing up the ground into a thick cloud of dust by
the hundreds of bullets they contained.
A continuous stream of doolies and stretchers
commenced to flow from the fighting line. Soon
all available conveyances were exhausted, and the
bodies of the wounded had to be carried over the
rough ground in the arms of their comrades — a very
painful process, which extorted many a groan from
the suffering men. At length the withdrawal was
completed, and the brigade returned to camp. The
presence of the cavalry, who covered the rear, de-
terred the enemy from leaving the hills.
Riding back, I observed a gruesome sight. At
the head of the column of doolies and stretchers,
were the bodies of the killed, each tied with cords
upon a mule. Their heads dangled on one side
and their legs on the other. The long black hair
of the Sikhs, which streamed down to the ground,
and was draggled with dust and blood, imparted a
hideous aspect to these figures. There was no other
way, however, and it was better than leaving their
remains to be insulted, and defiled by the savages,
with whom we were fighting. At the entrance to
the camp a large group of surgeons — their sleeves
rolled up — awaited the wounded. Two operating
tables, made of medical boxes, and covered with
waterproof sheets, were also prepared. There is a
side to warfare browner than khaki.
The casualties in the attack upon Agrah were as
follows : —
Killed — Lieut. -Col. J. L. O'Bryen, 31st Punjaub Infantry.
2nd Lieut. W. C. Browne-Clayton, Royal West Kent.
Back to the Mamund Valley. 249
Wounded severely — Lieutenant H. Isacke, Royal West Kent,
,, ,, ,, E. B. Peacock, 31st Punjaub In-
Wounded slightly— Major W. G. B. Western,
„ Captain R. C. Styles,
N. H. S. Lowe,
,, ,, 2nd Lieut. F, A. Jackson,
Royal West Kent - - - 3 20
1 Royal West Kent.
Guides Cavalry - - - - ... 4
31st Punjaub Infantry * - 7 15
38th Dogras 4
Total casualties, 61.
As soon as Sir Bindon Blood, at his camp on
the Panjkora, received the news of the sharp
fighting of the 30th,^ he decided to proceed himself
to Inayat Kila with reinforcements. He arrived
on the 2nd October, bringing No. 8 Mountain
Battery ; a wing of the 24th Punjaub Infantry ; and
two troops of the Guides Cavalry ; and having also
sent orders for the Highland Light Infantry and
four guns of the loth Field Battery to follow him at
once. He was determined to make a fresh attack
1 After the action of the 30th of September, Lieut. -Colonel
McRae, of the 45th Sikhs, was sent up to command the 31st
Punjaub Infantry in the place of Lieut. -Colonel O'Bryen, and I was
myself attached as a temporary measure to fill another of the
vacancies. This is, I believe, the first time a British Cavalry
officer has been attached to a native infantry regiment. After
the kindness and courtesy with which I was treated, I can only
hope it will not be the last.
250 The Malakand Field Forc^.
on Agrah, and burn the village of Gat, which had
only been partially destroyed. And this attack was
fixed for the 5th. By that date the big 12-pounder
guns of the Field Battery were to have arrived, and
the fire of fourteen pieces would have been concen-
trated on the enemy's position. Every one was
anxious to carry matters to a conclusion with the
tribesmen at all costs.
On the 3rd, the force was ordered to take and
burn the village of Badelai, against which, it may
be remembered, the Buffs had advanced on the
i6th, and from which they had been recalled in a
hurry to support the 35 th Sikhs. The attack and
destruction of the village presented no new features ;
the tribesmen offered little resistance, and retired
before the troops. But as soon as the brigade
began its homeward march, they appeared in much
larger numbers, than had hitherto been seen. As
the cavalry could not work among the nullahs, and
the broken ground, the enemy advanced boldly
into the plain. In a great crescent, nearly four
miles long, they followed the retiring troops. A
brisk skirmish began at about 800 yards. Both
batteries came into action, each firing about 90
shells. The Royal West Kent Regiment made good
shooting with their Lee-Metford rifles. All the
battalions of the brigade were engaged. The
enemy, whose strength was estimated to be over
3000, lost heavily, and drew off at 2*30, when
the force returned to camp. Sir Bindon Blood
and his staff watched the operations and recon-
noitred the valley. The casualties were as
follows : —
Back to the Mamund Valley. 251
Royal West Kent — dangerously wounded, i.
Guides Cavalry — wounded, 2.
31st Punjaub Infantry — killed, i ; wounded, 5.
Guides Infantry — wounded, 3.
38th Dogras — killed, i ; wounded, 3.
Total casualties, 16.
The next day the Highland Light Infantry and
the field guns arrived. The former marched in over
700 strong, and made a fine appearance. They
were nearly equal in numbers, to any two battalions
in the brigade. Sickness and war soon reduce
the fighting strength. The guns had accomplished
a great feat in getting over the difficult and roadless
country. They had had to make their own track,
and in many places the guns had been drawn by
hand. The loth Field Battery had thus gone sixty
miles further into the hill country, than any other
wheeled traffic. They had quite a reception when
they arrived. The whole camp turned out to look
with satisfaction on the long polished tubes, which
could throw twelve pounds a thousand yards further
than the mountain guns could throw seven. They
were, however, not destined to display their power.
The Mamunds had again sued for peace. They
were weary of the struggle. Their valley was deso-
late. The season of sowing the autumn crops
approached. The arrival of reinforcements con-
vinced them, that the Government were determined
to get their terms. Major Deane came up himself
to conduct the negotiations. Meanwhile all im-
portant operations were suspended, though the
foraging and " sniping " continued as usual.
The force was now large enough for two brigades
to be formed, and on the arrival of Brigadier-
252 The Malakand Field Force.
General Meiklejohn it was reconstituted as
follows : —
Commanding — Brigadier-General Meiklejohn, C.B., C.M.G.
Highland Light Infantry.
31st Punjaub Infantry.
4 Cos. 24th Punjaub Infantry,
loth Field Battery.
No. 7 British Mountain Battery.
Commanding — Brigadier-General Jeffreys, C.B.
The Royal West Kent.
No. 8 Mountain Battery.
The Guides Cavalry.
The camp was greatly extended and covered a
large area of ground. In the evenings, the main
street presented an animated appearance. Before
the sun went down, the officers of the different
regiments, distinguished by their brightly-coloured
field caps, would assemble to listen to the pipes of
the Scottish Infantry, or stroll up and down dis-
cussing the events of the day and speculating on
the chances of the morrow. As the clear atmo-
sphere of the valley became darkened by the
shadows of the night, and the colours of the hills
faded into an uniform black, the groups would gather
round the various mess tents, and with vermuth,
cigarettes and conversation pass away the pleasant
half-hour before dinner and " sniping" began.
I would that it were in my power to convey to
the reader, who has not had the fortune to live with
troops on service, some just appreciation of the
compensations of war. The healthy, open-air life,
Back to the Mamund Valley. 253
the vivid incidents, the excitement, not only of
realisation, but of anticipation, the generous and
cheery friendships, the chances of distinction which
are open to all, invest life with keener interests, and
rarer pleasures. The uncertainty and importance
of the present, reduce the past and future, to com-
parative insignificance, and clear the mind of minor
worries. And when all is over, memories remain,
which few men do not hold precious. As to the
hardships, these though severe may be endured.
Ascetics and recluses have in their endeavours
to look beyond the grave suffered worse things.
Nor will the soldier in the pursuit of fame and the
enjoyment of the pleasures of war, be exposed to
greater discomforts than Diogenes in his tub, or the
Trappists in their monastery. Besides all this, his
chances of learning about the next world, are
infinitely greater. And yet, when all has been said,
we are confronted with a mournful but stubborn
fact. In this contrary life, so prosaic is the mind
of man, so material his soul, so poor his spirit, that
there is no one who has been six months on active
service, who is not delighted to get safe home again,
to the comfortable monotonies of peace.
THE WORK OF THE CAVALRY.
" Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum."
Progress of the Negotiations — Cavalry Skirmish, 6th October —
General Resuvie of Cavalry Work throughout the Campaign
—The Neglect of British Cavalry— Departure of the R.W.K.
— Health of British Infantry — Jar, gth October — " Sniping "
— A Typical Night — Across the Panjkora.
The negotiations of the Mamunds had this time
opened under more propitious circumstances.
The tribesmen were convinced by the arrival of
the large reinforcements that the Government were
in earnest. The return of " the big general," as
they called Sir Bindon Blood, to distinguish him
from the brigadiers, impressed them with the fact
that the operations would be at once renewed,
if they continued recalcitrant. They had still a
few villages unburned, and these they were anxious
to save. Besides, they disliked the look of the
long topes, or field guns, of whose powers they were
uncertain. They therefore displayed a much more
On the other hand every one in the force had
realised that there were "more kicks than ha'pence"
to be got out of the Mamund Valley. All the
villages in the plain had been destroyed. Only a
The Work of the Cavalry. 255
few of those in the hollows of the hills remained.
To these the enemy had retired. In Arrian's
History of Alexander' s Conquests we read the follow-
ing passage : The men in Bazira [Bazira is the
same as Bajaur], despairing of their own affairs,
abandoned the city . . . and fled to the rock, as
the other barbarians were doing. For all the
inhabitants deserted the cities, and began to fly to
the rock which is in their land." Then it was that
Alexander's difficulties began. Nor need we
wonder, when the historian gravely asserts that ' ' so
stupendous is the rock in this land . . . that it
was found impregnable even by Heracles, the son
of Zeus Thus history repeats itself, and the
people of Bajaur their tactics. There was, how-
ever, no doubt as to the ability of the brigades to
take and burn, any village they might select. At
the same time it was certain, that they would
encounter relays of Afghan tribesmen, and regular
soldiers from the Amir's army, and that they would
lose officers and men in the operation. The matter
had to be carried to a. conclusion at whatever cost,
but the sooner the end was reached, the better.
But in spite of the auguries of peace, the foraging
parties were usually fired upon, and this furnished
several opportunities for the display of the value of
the cavalry. I shall avail myself of the occasion to
review the performances of the mounted arm during
the operations. As soon as the brigades entered
Bajaur, the nth Bengal Lancers were employed
more and more in that legitimate duty of cavalry —
reconnaissance. Major Beatson made daily expe-
ditions towards the various valleys and passes,
256 The Malakand Field Force.
about which information was needed. This use of
cavalry is an entirely new one on the frontier — it
having been thought that it was dangerous to em-
ploy them in this way. Though horsemen need
good ground to fight on to advantage, they can
easily move over any country, however broken, and
where they are boldly used, can collect as much
information as is necessary.
Reconnaissance is by no means the only oppor-
tunity for cavalry employment on the frontier.
They are as formidable in offensive tactics, as they
are useful in collecting intelligence.
The task which is usually confided to them
in these mountain actions is to protect one of the
flanks. The ground hardly ever admits of charging
in any formation, and it is necessary for the men to
use their carbines. On 30th September the cavalry
were so employed. On the left of the hostile posi-
tion was a wide valley full of scrubby trees, and
stone walls, and occupied by large numbers of the
enemy. Had these tribesmen been able to debouch
from this valley, they would have fallen on the flank
of the brigade, and the situation would have become
one of danger. For five hours two weak squadrons
of the Guides Cavalry were sufficient to hold them
The methods they employed are worth noticing.
Little groups of six or seven men were dismounted,
and these with their carbines replied to the enemy's
fire. Other little groups of mounted men, remained
concealed in nullahs or hollows, or behind obstacles.
Whenever the enemy tried to rush one of the dis-
mounted parties, and to do so advanced from the
The Work of the Cavalry. 257
bad ground, the mounted patrols galloped forward
and chased them back to cover. The terror
that these tribesmen have of cavalry, contrasts
with their general character. It was a beautiful
display of cavalry tactics in this kind of warfare,
and, considering the enormous numbers of the
enemy, who were thus kept from participating in
the main action, it demonstrated the power and
value of the mounted arm with convincing force.
On the 6th of October, I witnessed some very
similar work, though on a smaller scale. A
squadron was engaged in covering the operations
of a foraging party. A line of patrols, moving
rapidly about, presented difficult targets to the
enemy's sharpshooters. I found the remainder of
the squadron dismounted in rear of a large bank
of stones. Twenty sowars with their carbines were
engaged in firing at the enemy, who had occupied
a morcha — a small stone fort — some 300 yards
away. Desultory skirmishing continued for some
time, shots being fired from the hills, half a
mile away, as well as from the morcha. Bullets
kept falling near the bank, but the cover it afforded
was good and no one was hurt. At length word
was brought that the foraging was finished and
that the squadron was to retire under cover of
the infantry. Now came a moment of some ex-
citement. The officer in command knew well that
the instant his men were mounted they would be
fired at from every point which the enemy held.
He ordered the first troop to mount, and the
second to cover the retirement The men scrambled
into their saddles, and spreading out into an ex-
258 The Malakand Field Force.
tended line cantered away towards a hollow about
300 yards distant. Immediately there was an out-
burst of firing. The dust rose in spurts near the
horsemen, and the bullets whistled about their ears.
No one was however hit. Meanwhile, the remain-
ing troop had been keeping up a rapid fire on the
enemy to cover their retirement. It now became
their turn to go. Firing a parting volley the men
ran to their horses, mounted, and followed the first
troop at a hand-gallop, extending into a long line
as they did so. Again the enemy opened fire, and
again the dusty ground showed that the bullets
were well directed. Again, however, nobody was
hurt, and the sowars reached the hollow, laughing
and talking in high glee. The morning's skirmish
had, nevertheless, cost the squadron a man and
horse, both severely wounded.
Such affairs as these were of almost daily occur-
rence during the time that the 2nd Brigade occu-
pied the camp at Inayat Kila. They were of the
greatest value in training the soldiers. The Guides
Cavalry know all there is to know of frontier war,
but there are many other regiments who would be
made infinitely more powerful fighting organisa-
tions, if they were afforded the opportunity for such
The great feature which the war of 1897 on the
Indian Frontier has displayed is the extraordinary
value of cavalry. At Shabkadr a charge of the
13th Bengal Lancers was more than successful.
In the Swat Valley, during the relief of Chakdara,
the Guides Cavalry and nth Bengal Lancers
inflicted the most terrible loss on the enemy. To
The Work of the Cavalry. 259
quote the words of Sir Bindon Blood's official
report to the Adjutant-General, these regiments,
" eager for vengeance, pursued, cut up and speared
them in every direction, leaving their bodies
thickly strewn over the fields". Again, after the
action of Landakai, the cavalry made a most
vigorous pursuit and killed large numbers of the
enemy. While I was with the Malakand Field
Force, I was a witness of the constant employment
of the cavalry, and was several times informed by
general officers, that they would gladly have a larger
number at their disposal. The reader may recall
some of the numerous instances, which these pages
have recorded of cavalry work. On the morning of
the 1 5 th September, it was the cavalry who were able
to catch up the enemy, before they could reach the
hills, and take some revenge for the losses of the
night. In the action of the i6th, the charge of
Captain Cole's squadron, brought the whole attack
of the enemy to a standstill, and enabled the in-
fantry by their fire to convert the hesitation of the
tribesmen into a retreat. Indeed, in every fight in
the Mamund Valley, the cavalry were the first in,
and the last out. In the official despatches Sir
Bindon Blood thus alludes to the work of the
cavalry : —
" I would now wish to invite attention to the
invaluable nature of the services rendered by the
cavalry. At Nawagai, three squadrons of the nth
Bengal Lancers swept the country everywhere that
cavalry could go, carrying out reconnaissances,
protecting signalling parties and watching every
movement of the enemy. In the Mamund Valley
26o The Malakand Field Force.
a squadron of the same regiment, under Captain
E. H. Cole, took part in every engagement that
occurred while they were there, establishing such a
reputation that the enemy, even when in greatly
superior numbers, never dared to face them in the
open. Afterwards, when Captain Cole and his
men left the Mamund Valley, the Guides Cavalry,
under Lieut.-Col. Adams, being in greater strength,
acted still more effectually in the same manner,
showing tactical skill of a high order, combined
with conspicuous gallantry." — Official Despatches.
From Gazette of India, 3rd December, 1897.
There has been a boom in cavalry. But one sec-
tion, and that the most important, has been deprived
of its share in the good fortune. The authorities have
steadily refused to allow any British cavalry to cross
the frontier. Of course this is defended on the
ground of expense. " British cavalry costs so
much," it is said, " and natives do the work just as
well." " Better," say some. But it is a poor kind
of economy thus to discourage a most expensive
and important branch of the service. The ambition
that a young officer entering the army, ought to set
before him, is to lead his own men in action. This
ought to inspire his life, and animate his effort.
" Stables " will no longer be dull, when he realises
that on the fitness of his horses, his life and honour
may one day depend. If he thinks, that his men
may soon be asked to stand beside him at a pinch,
he will no longer be bored by their interests and
affairs. But when he realises that all is empty dis-
play, and that his regiment is a sword too costly to
be drawn, he naturally loses keenness and betakes
The Work of the Cavalry. 261
himself to polo as a consolation. It is a good
It was my fortune to meet many young men in
frontier regiments, both cavalry and infantry, who
had already served in three, and even four, cam-
paigns. Daring, intelHgent and capable, they are
proofs of the value of their training, and are fit to
lead their men under any conditions, and in any
country. Subalterns in British cavalry regiments,
do occasionally manage to see a little active
service as transport officers, signalling officers, war
correspondents, or on the staff; but to lead in the
field the men they have trained in peace, is a possi-
bility which is never worth contemplating. To the
young man, who wants to enjoy himself, to spend a
few years agreeably in a military companionship,
to have an occupation — the British cavalry will be
suited. But to the youth, who means to make him-
self a professional soldier, an expert in war, a
specialist in practical tactics, who desires a hard
life of adventure and a true comradeship in arms,
I would recommend the choice of some regiment on
the frontier, like those fine ones I have seen, the
Guides and the nth Bengal Lancers.
I am aware, that those who criticise an existing
state of things ought to be prepared with some
constructive legislation, which would remedy the
evils they denounce. Though it is unlikely, that
the Government of India will take my advice, either
wholly or in good part, I hereby exhort them to
quit the folly of a " penny wise " policy, and to
adhere consistently to the principles of employing
British and native troops in India in a regular
262 The Malakand Field Force.
proportion. That is to say, that when two native
cavalry regiments have been sent on service across
the frontier, the third cavalry regiment so sent shall
Besides this, in order to give cavalry officers as
many opportunities of seeing active service as
possible, subalterns should be allowed to volunteer
for emergency employment with native cavalry. I
have talked to several officers, who command native
cavalry regiments, and they tell me, that such an
arrangement would work excellently, and that, as
they are always short of officers, it would supply
a want. I would suggest that subalterns should,
with the approval of their colonels, be attached to
the native regiment, and after passing in Hindu-
stani and being reported as qualified to serve
with the native troops, be considered available for
employment as described. I shall be told there are
financial difficulties. I do not believe this. There
are plenty of cavalry subalterns whose eagerness
to see service is so strong, that they would submit
to any arrangement that the rapacity of Govern-
ment might impose. Indeed there is no reason
that an actual economy should not be effected.
The sums of money, that the Indian Government
offer, as rewards for officers who can speak Hindu-
stani, have not hitherto tempted many cavalry
officers to make a study of tt^ language. Here is
an incentive, more powerful and costing nothing.
To be technical is, I am aware, a serious offence,
and I realise, that if this book ever obtained so evil
a reputation it would be shunned, as the House of
Commons is shunned on a Service night. I have
The Work of the Cavalry. 263
strayed far away from the Malakand Field Force,
into the tangled paths of military controversy, and
I must beg the reader to forgive, as he will surely
forget, what has been written.
The fighting described in the last chapter, and
the continual drain of disease, had again filled the
field hospitals, and in order to preserve the mobility
of the force, it was decided to send all sick and
wounded down to the base at once. The journey —
over 100 miles by road — would take nearly a fort-
night, and the jolting and heat make such an ex-
perience, a painful and weary one to injured men.
But the stern necessities of war, render these things
inevitable, and the desire of the men to get nearer
home soothes much of their suffering. The convoy
of sick and wounded was to be escorted as far as
the Panjkora River by the Royal West Kent, who
were themselves in need of some recuperation. To
campaign in India without tents is always a trial to
a British regiment ; and when it is moved to the
front from some unhealthy station like Peshawar,
Delhi, or Mian Mir, and the men are saturated with
fever and weakened by the summer heats, the sick
list becomes long and serious. Typhoid from
drinking surface water, and the other various kinds
of fever, which follow exposure to the heats of the
day or the chills of the night, soon take a hundred
men from the fighting strength, and the general of
an Indian frontier force has to watch with equal care
the movements of the enemy and the fluctuations
of the hospital returns. As soon, therefore, as
Sir Bindon Blood saw, that the Mamunds were
desirous of peace, and that no further operations
264 The Malakand Field Force.
against them were probable, he sent one of his
British regiments to their tents near the Panjkora.
About sixty wounded men from the actions of
30th September and 3rd October, and the same
number of sick, formed the bulk of the convoy.
The slight cases are carried on camels, in cradles
made by cutting a native bedstead in two, and
called " Kajawas ". The more serious cases are
carried in doolies or litters, protected from the
sun by white curtains, and borne by four natives.
Those, who are well enough, ride on mules. The
infantry escort is disposed along the line with
every precaution that can be suggested, but the
danger of an attack upon the long straggling string
of doolies and animals in difficult and broken
ground is a very real and terrible one.
The cheeriness and patience of the wounded
men, exceeds belief. Perhaps it is due to a realisa-
tion of the proximity, in which they have stood to
death ; perhaps partly to that feeling of relief, with
which a man turns for a spell from war to peace.
In any case it is remarkable. A poor fellow — a
private in the Buffs — was hit at Zagai, and had
his arm amputated at the shoulder. I expressed
my sympathy, and he replied, philosophically :
" You can't make omelettes without breaking eggs,"
and after a pause added, with much satisfaction,
The regiment did well that day". He came of a
fighting stock, but I could not help speculating on
the possible future which awaited him. Discharge
from the service as medically unfit, some miserable
pension insufficient to command any pleasures but
those of drink, a loafer's life, and a pauper's grave.
The Work of the Cavalry. 265
Perhaps the regiment — the officers, that is to say
— would succeed in getting him work, and would
from their own resources, supplement his pen-
sion. But what a wretched and discreditable
system is that, by which the richest nation in the
world neglects the soldiers who have served it well,
and which leaves to newspaper philanthropy, to
local institutions, and to private charity, a burden
which ought to be proudly borne by the State.
Starting at six, the column reached Jar, a march
of eight miles, at about ten o'clock. Here we were
joined by a wing of the 24th Punjaub Infantry,
who were coming up to relieve the Royal West
Kents. The camp at Jar has the disadvantage of
being commanded by a hill to the north, and the
Salarzais, another pestilent tribe, whose name alone is
an infliction, delight to show their valour by firing at
the troops during the night. Of course this could
be prevented by moving the camp out of range of
this hill. But then, unfortunately, it would be
commanded by another hill to the south, from
which the Shamozai section of the Utman Khels
— to whom my former remarks also apply — would
be able to amuse themselves. The inconvenience
of the situation had therefore to be faced.
We had not been long in camp before the eldest
son of the Khan of Jar, who had been compara-
tively loyal during the operations, came to inform
the colonel in command that there would be
" sniping " that night. Certain evil men, he said,
had declared their intention of destroying the force,
but he, the heir-apparent to the Khanate of Jar,
and the ally of the Empress, would protect us,
266 The Malakand Field Force.
Four pickets of his own regular army should
watch the camp, that our slumbers might not be
disturbed, and when challenged by the sentries,
they would reply, " chokidar " (watchman). This
all seemed very satisfactory, but we entrenched
ourselves as usual, not, as we explained, because
we doubted our protector's powers or inclinations,
but merely as a matter of form.
At midnight precisely, the camp was awakened
by a dozen shots in rapid succession. The khan's
pickets could be heard expostulating with the
enemy, who replied by jeers and bitter remarks.
The firing continued for an hour, when the
" snipers," having satisfied their honour, relieved
their feelings and expended their cartridges, went
away rejoicing. The troops throughout remained
silent, and vouchsafed no reply.
It may seem difficult to believe, that fifty bullets
could fall in a camp, only lOO yards square —
crowded with animals and men — without any other
result than to hit a single mule in the tail. Such
was, however, the fact. This shows of what value,
a little active service is to the soldier. The first
time he is under fire, he imagines himself to be in
great danger. He thinks that every bullet is going
to hit him, and that every shot is aimed at him.
Assuredly he will be killed in a moment. If he
goes through this ordeal once or twice, he begins to
get some idea of the odds in his favour. He has
heard lots of bullets and they have not hurt him.
He will get home safely to his tea this evening,
just as he did the last time. He becomes a very
much more effective fighting machine.
The Work of the Cavalry. 267
From a military point of view, the perpetual
frontier wars in one corner or other of the Empire
are of the greatest value. This fact may one day
be proved, should our soldiers ever be brought into
contact, with some peace-trained, conscript army, in
anything like equal numbers.
Though the firing produced very little effect on
the troops — most of whom had been through the
experience several times before — it was a severe
trial to the wounded, whose nerves, shattered by
pain and weakness, were unable to bear the strain.
The surgeon in charge — Major Tyrrell — told me
that the poor fellows quivered at every shot as if in
anticipation of a blow. A bullet in the leg will
make a brave man a coward. A blow on the
head will make a wise man a fool. Indeed I have
read that a sufficiency of absinthe can make a
good man a knave. The triumph of mind over
matter does not seem to be quite complete as
I saw a strange thing happen, while the firing
was going on, which may amuse those, who take an
interest in the habits and development of animals.
Just in front of my tent, which was open, was
a clear space, occupied by a flock of goats and
sheep. The brilliant moonlight made everything
plainly visible. Every time a bullet whistled over
them or struck the ground near, they ducked and
bobbed in evident terror. An officer, who also
noticedthis, told me it was the first time they had
been under fire ; and I have been wondering ever
since, whether this explains their fear, or makes it
268 The Malakand Field Force.
I have devoted a good deal in this chapter to the
account of the " sniping " at Jar on the night of the
9th of October, and, perhaps, a critic may inquire,
why so much should be written about so com-
mon an incident. It is, however, because this
night firing, is so common a feature, that I feel,
no picture of the war on the Indian frontier, would
be complete without some account of it.
The next day we crossed the Panjkora River,
and I started to ride down the line of communica-
tions to the base at Nowshera. At each stage
some of the comforts of civilisation, and peace re-
appeared. At Panjkora we touched the telegraph
wire ; at Sarai were fresh potatoes ; ice was to be
had at Chakdara ; a comfortable bed at the Mala-
kand ; and at length, at Nowshera, the railway.
But how little these things matter after all. When
they are at hand, they seem indispensable, but
when they cannot be obtained, they are hardly
missed. A little plain food, and a philosophic
temperament, are the only necessities of life.
I shall not take the reader farther from the scene
of action. He is free and his imagination may
lead him back to the highland valleys, where he
may continue for a space among camps and men,
and observe the conclusion of the drama.
" Their eyes were sunken and weary
With a sort of Hstless woe,
And they looked from their desolate eyrie
Over the plains below.
" Two had wounds from a sabre,
And one from an Enfield ball."
" Rajpoot Rebels," Lyall.
Negotiations with the Mamunds — Surrender of Rifles — The Dur-
bar—The Political Officers— The Last of Inayat Kila— Mata-
shah — Submission of the Salarzais — The Sikh and the Pathan :
A Comparison — The Return to Malakand.
At last the negotiations with the Mamunds began to
reach a conclusion. The tribe were really desirous
of peace, and prepared to make any sacrifices to
induce the brigades to leave the valley. The Khan
of Khar, now proved of valuable assistance. He
consistently urged them to make peace with the
Sirkar, and assured them that the troops would not
go away, until they had their rifles back. Finally
the Mamunds said they would get the rifles. But
the path of repentance was a stony one. On the
very night that the tribesmen decided for peace at
any price, a thousand warlike Afghans, spoiling for
a fight, arrived from the Kunar Valley, on the other
side of the mountains, and announced their inten-
tion of attacking the camp at once. The Mamunds
expostulated with them. The retainers of the Khan
270 The Malakand Field Force.
of Khar implored them not to be so rash. In
the end these unwelcome allies were persuaded
to depart. But that night the camp was warned
that an attack was probable. The inlying pickets
were accordingly doubled, and every man slept in
his clothes, so as to be ready. The pathos of the
situation was provided by the fact, that the
Mamunds were guarding us from our enemies.
The wretched tribe, rather than face a renewal of
hostilities, had posted pickets all round the camp
to drive away "snipers" and other assailants.
Their sincerity was beyond suspicion.
The next day the first instalment of rifles was
surrendered. Fifteen Martini-Henrys taken on
the 1 6th from the 35th Sikhs were brought into
camp, by the Khan of Khar's men, and deposited in
front of the general's tent. Nearly all were hacked
and marked by sword cuts, showing that their
owners, the Sikhs, had perished fighting to the last.
Perhaps, these firearms had cost more in blood and
treasure than any others ever made. The remainder
of the twenty-one were promised later, and have
since all been surrendered. But the rifles as they
lay on the ground were a bitter comment on the
economic aspect of the " Forward Policy ". These
tribes have nothing to surrender but their arms.
To extort these few, had taken a month, had cost
many lives, and thousands of pounds. It had been
as bad a bargain as was ever made. People talk
glibly of " the total disarmament of the frontier
tribes " as being the obvious policy. No doubt
such a result would be most desirable. But to
obtain it would be as painful and as tedious an
undertaking, as to extract the stings of a swarm of
hornets, with naked fingers.
After the surrender of the rifles, the discussion of
terms proceeded with smoothness. Full jirgahs
were sent to the camp from the tribe, and gradually
a definite understanding was reached. The tribes-
men bewailed the losses they had sustained. Why,
they asked, had the Sirkar visited them so heavily ?
Why, replied Major Deane, had they broken the
peace and attacked the camp ? The elders of the
tribe, following the practice of all communities,
threw the blame on their " young men These
had done the evil, they declared. All had paid the
penalty. At length definite terms were agreed to,
and a full durbar was arranged for the nth of the
month for their ratification.
Accordingly on that date, at about one o'clock in
the afternoon, a large and representative jirgah of
Mamunds, accompanied by the Khans of Khar,
Jar and Nawagai, arrived at the village of Nawa Kila,
about half a mile from the camp. At three o'clock
Sir Bindon Blood, with Major Deane, Chief Political
Officer; Mr. Davis, Assistant Political Officer; most
of the headquarters' staff, and a few other officers,
started, escorted by a troop of the Guides Cavalry,
for the durbar. The general on arrival shook hands
with the friendly khans, much to their satisfaction,
and took a seat which had been provided. The
tribesmen formed three sides of a square. The
friendly khans were on the left with their retainers.
The Mamund jirgahs filled two other sides. Sir
Bindon Blood, with Major Deane on his left and
his officers around him, occupied the fourth side.
272 The Malakand Field Force.
Then the Mamunds solemnly tendered their sub-
mission. They expressed their deep regret at their
action, and deplored the disasters that had be-
fallen them. They declared, they had only fought
because they feared annexation. They agreed to
expel the followers of Umra Khan from the valley.
They gave security for the rifles, that had not yet
been surrendered. They were then informed that
as they had suffered severe punishment and had
submitted the Sirkar would exact no fine or further
penalty from them. At this they showed signs of
gratification. The durbar, which had lasted fifteen
minutes, was ended by the whole of the tribesmen
swearing with uplifted hands to adhere to the
terms and keep the peace. They were then dis-
The losses sustained by the Mamunds in the
fighting were ascertained to be 350 killed, besides
the wounded, with whom the hill villages were all
crowded, and who probably amounted to 700 or
800. This estimate takes no account of the casual-
ties among the transfrontier tribesmen, which were
presumably considerable, but regarding which no
reliable information could be obtained. Sir Bindon
Blood offered them medical aid for their wounded,
but this they declined. They could not understand
the motive, and feared a stratagem. What the
sufferings of these wretched men, must have been,
without antiseptics or anaesthetics, is terrible to think
of. Perhaps, however, vigorous constitutions and
the keen air of the mountains were Nature's substi-
Thus the episode of the Mamund Valley came to
an end. On the morning of the 12th, the troops
moved out of the camp at Inayat Kila, for the last
time, and the long line of men, guns and transport
animals, trailed slowly away across the plain of
Khar. The tribesmen gathered on the hills to
watch the departure of their enemies, but whatever
feelings of satisfaction they may have felt at the
spectacle, were dissipated, when they turned their
eyes towards their valley. Not a tower, not a fort
was to be seen. The villages were destroyed.
The crops had been trampled down. They had lost
heavily in killed and wounded, and the winter was at
hand. No defiant shots pursued the retiring column.
The ferocious Mamunds were weary of war.
And as the soldiers marched away, their reflec-
tions could not have been wholly triumphant. For
a month they had held Inayat Kila, and during
that month they had been constantly fighting.
The Mamunds were crushed. The Imperial power
had been asserted, but the cost was heavy. Thirty-
one officers, and 251 men had been killed and
wounded out of a fighting force that had on no
occasion exceeded 1200 men.^
1 The casualties of General Jeffreys' brigade in the Mamund
Valley were as follows : —
British Officers - - Killed or died of wounds 7
Horses and mules
274 The Malakand Field Force.
The main cause of this long list of casualties
was, as I have already written, the proximity of
the Afghan border. But it would be unjust and
ungenerous to deny to the people of the Mamund
Valley, that reputation for courage, tactical skill
and marksmanship, which they have so well de-
served. During an indefinite period they had
brawled and fought in the unpenetrated gloom of
barbarism. At length they struck a blow at
civilisation, and civilisation, though compelled to
record the odious vices, that the fierce light of
scientific war exposed, will yet ungrudgingly admit,
that they are a brave and warlike race. Their
name will live in the minds of men for some years,
even in this busy century, and there are families in
England, who will never forget it. But perhaps the
tribesmen, sitting sullenly on the hillsides and con-
templating the ruin of their habitations, did not
realise all this, or if they did, still felt regret at
having tried conclusions with the British Raj.
Their fame had cost them dear. Indeed, as we
have been told, nothing is so expensive as glory ".
The troops camped on the night of the 12th
at Jar, and on the following day moved up
the Salarzai Valley to Matashah. Here they re-
mained for nearly a week. This tribe, terrified by
the punishment of the Mamunds, made no regular
opposition, though the camp was fired into regularly
every night by a few hot-blooded "snipers". Several
horses and mules were hit, and a sowar in the
Guides Cavalry was wounded. The reconnais-
sances in force, which were sent out daily to the
farther end of the valley, were not resisted in any
way, and the tribal jirgahs used every effort to
collect the rifles, which they had been ordered to
surrender. By the 19th all were given up, and on
the 20th the troops moved back to Jar. There
Sir Bindon Blood received the submission of the
Utman Khels, who brought in the weapons de-
manded from them, and paid a fine as an indemnity
for attacking the Malakand and Chakdara.
The soldiers, who were still in a fighting mood,
watched with impatience the political negotia-
tions, which produced so peaceful a triumph.
All Indian military commanders, from Lord
Clive and Lord Clive's times downwards, have
inveighed against the practice of attaching civil
officers to field forces. It has been said, fre-
quently with truth, that they hamper the military
operations, and by interfering with the generals, in-
fuse a spirit of vacillation into the plans. Although
the political officers of the Malakand Field Force
were always personally popular with their military
comrades, there were many who criticised their
official actions, and disapproved of their presence.
The duties of the civil officers, in a campaign, are
twofold : firstly, to negotiate, and secondly, to
collect information. It would seem that for the
first of these duties they are indispensable. The
difficult language and peculiar characters of the
tribesmen are the study of a lifetime. A knowledge
of the local conditions, of the power and influence
of the khans, or other rulers of the people ; of the
general history and traditions of the country, is a
task, which must be entirely specialised. Rough
and ready methods are excellent while the tribes
276 The Malakand Field Force.
resist, but something more is required when they
are anxious to submit. Men are needed, who
understand the whole question, and all the details
of the quarrel, between the natives and the Govern-
ment, and who can in some measure appreciate
both points of view. I do not believe that such
are to be found in the army. The military pro-
fession is alone sufficient to engross the attention
of the most able and accomplished man.
Besides this I cannot forget how many quiet
nights the 2nd Brigade enjoyed at Inayat Kila
when the " snipers " were driven away by the
friendly pickets ; how many fresh eggs and water
melons were procured, and how easily letters and
messages were carried about the country^ through
the relations which the political officers, Mr. Davis
and Mr. Gunter, maintained, under very difficult
circumstances, with these tribesmen, who were not
actually fighting us.
Respecting the second duty, it is difficult to be-
lieve, that the collection of information as to the
numbers and intentions of the enemy, would not be
better and more appropriately carried out, by the
Intelligence Department, and the cavalry. Civil
^ As correspondent of the Pioneer, I invariably availed myself
of this method of sending the press telegrams to the telegraph
office at Panjkora, and though the route lay through twenty miles
of the enemy's country, these messages not only never miscarried,
but on several occasions arrived before the official despatches or
any heliographed news.
By similar agency the bodies of Lieutenant-Colonel O'Bryen
and Lieutenant Browne-Clayton, killed in the attack upon Agrah
on the 30th of September, were safely and swiftly conveyed to
Malakand for burial.
officers should not be expected to understand what
kind of military information, a general requires.
It is not their business. I am aware that, Mr. Davis
procured the most correct intelligence, about the
great night attack at Nawagai, and thus gave ample
warning to Sir Bindon Blood. But on the other
hand the scanty information available about the
Mamunds, previous to the action of the i6th, was
the main cause of the severe loss sustained on that
day. Besides, the incessant rumours of a night
attack on Inayat Kila, kept the whole force in their
boots about three nights each week. Civil officers
should discharge diplomatic duties, and military
officers the conduct of war. And the collection of
information is one of the most important of military
duties. Our Pathan Sepoys, the Intelligence Branch,
and an enterprising cavalry, should obtain all the
facts that a general requires to use in his plans.
At least the responsibility can thus be definitely
On one point, however, I havfe no doubts. The
political officers must be under the control of the
General directing the operations. There must be
no hnperium in imperio'\ In a Field Force one
man only can command — and all in it must be
under his authority. Differences, creating difficulties
and leading to disasters, will arise whenever the
political officers are empowered to make arrange-
ments with the tribesmen, without consulting and
sometimes without even informing the man on
whose decisions the success of the war and the lives
of the soldiers directly depend.
The subject is a difficult one to discuss, without
278 The Malakand Field Force.
wounding the feelings of those gallant men, who
take all the risks of war, while the campaign lasts,
and, when it is over, live in equal peril of their lives
among the savage populations, whose dispositions
they study, and whose tempers they watch. I am
glad to have done with it.
During the stay of the brigades in Bajaur, there
had been several cases of desertion among the
Afridi Sepoys. On one occasion five men of the
24th Punjaub Infantry, who were out on picket,
departed in a body, and taking their arms with
them set off towards Tirah and the Khyber Pass.
As I have recorded several instances of gallantry
and conduct among the Afridis and Pathans in our
ranks, it is only fitting that the reverse of the
medal should be shown. The reader, who may be
interested in the characters of the subject races of
the Empire, and of the native soldiers, on whom so
much depends, will perhaps pardon a somewhat long
digression on the subject of Pathans and Sikhs.
It should not be forgotten by those who
make wholesale assertions of treachery and un-
trustworthiness against the Afridi and Pathan
soldiers, that these men are placed in a very
strange, and false position. They are asked to
fight against their countrymen and co-religionists.
On the one side are accumulated all the forces of
fanaticism, patriotism and natural ties. On the other
military associations stand alone. It is no doubt
a grievous thing to be false to an oath of allegiance,
but there are other obligations not less sacred.
To respect an oath is a duty which the individual
owes to society. Yet, who would by his evidence
send a brother to the gallows ? The ties of nature
are older and take precedence of all other human
laws. When the Pathan is invited to suppress his
fellow-countrymen, or even to remain a spectator
of their suppression, he finds himself in a situation
at which, in the words of Burke, " Morality is per-
plexed, reason staggered, and from which affrighted
There are many on the frontier, who realise these
things, and who sympathise with the Afridi soldier
in his dilemma. An officer of the Guides Infantry,
of long experience and considerable distinction,
who commands both Sikhs and Afridis, and has
led both many times in action, writes as follows :
" Personally, I don't blame any Afridis who desert
to go and defend their own country, now that we
have invaded it, and I think it is only natural and
proper that they should want to do so
Such an opinion may be taken as typical of
the views of a great number of officers, who have
some title to speak on the subject, as it is one,
on which their lives might at any moment depend.
The Sikh is the guardian of the Marches. He
was originally invented to combat the Pathan. His
religion was designed to be diametrically opposed
to Mahommedanism. It was a shrewd act of policy,
Fanaticism was met by fanaticism. Religious
abhorrence was added to racial hatred. The
Pathan invaders were rolled back to the mountains,
and the Sikhs established themselves at Lahore
and Peshawar. The strong contrast, and much of
the animosity, remain to-day. The Sikh wears his
hair down to his waist ; the Pathan shaves his head.
2 8o The Malakand Field Force.
The Sikh drinks what he will ; the Pathan is an
abstainer. The Sikh is burnt after death ; the
Pathan would be thus deprived of Paradise. As
a soldier the Pathan is a finer shot, a hardier man,
a better marcher, especially on the hillside, and
possibly an even more brilliant fighter. He relies
more on instinct than education : war is in his
blood ; he is a born marksman, but he is dirty,
lazy and a spendthrift.
In the Sikh the more civilised man appears. He
does not shoot naturally, but he learns by patient
practice. He is not so tough as the Pathan, but he
delights in feats of strength — wrestling, running, or
swimming. He is a much cleaner soldier and more
careful. He is frequently parsimonious, and always
thrifty, and does not generally feed himself as well
as the Pathan.^
There are some who say that the Sikh will go on
under circumstances which will dishearten and
discourage his rival, and that if the latter has
more dash he has less stamina. The assertion is
not supported by facts. In 1895, when Lieut. -
Colonel Battye was killed near the Panjkora River
and the Guides were hard pressed, the Subadar of
the Afridi company, turning to his countrymen,
shouted : " Now, then, Afridi folk of the Corps of
Guides, the Commanding Officer's killed, now's the
time to charge ! " and the British officers had the
greatest difficulty in restraining these impetuous
soldiers from leaving their position, and rushing to
^ Indeed in some regiments the pay of very thin Sikhs is given
them in the form of food, and they have to be carefully watched
by their officers till they get fat and strong.
certain death. The story recalls the speech of the
famous cavalry colonel at the action of Tamai,
when the squares were seen to be broken, and an
excited and demoralised correspondent galloped
wildly up to the Squadrons, declaring that all was
lost. How do you mean ' all's lost ' ? Don't you
see the loth Hussars are here ? " There are men
in the world who derive as stern an exultation from
the proximity of disaster and ruin, as others from
success, and who are more magnificent in defeat,
than others are in victory. Such spirits are un-
doubtedly to be found among the Afridis and
I will quote in concluding this discussion, the
opinion of an old Gurkha Subadar, who had seen
much fighting. He said that he liked the Sikhs
better, but would sooner have Afridis with him at
a pinch, than any other breed of men in India. It
is comfortable to reflect, that both are among the
soldiers of the Queen.
Although there were no Gurkhas in the Mala-
kand Field Force, it is impossible to consider
Indian fighting races without alluding to these
wicked little men. In appearance they resemble a
bronze Japanese. Small, active and fierce, ever
with a cheery grin on their broad faces, they com-
bine the dash of the Pathan with the discipline of
the Sikh. They spend all their money on food,
and, unhampered by religion, drink, smoke and
swear like the British soldier, in whose eyes they
find more favour than any other — as he regards
them — breed of niggers ". They are pure
mercenaries, and, while they welcome the dangers,
The Malakand Field Force.
they dislike the prolongation of a campaign, being
equally eager to get back to their wives and to the
big meat meals of peace time.
x\fter the Utman Khels had been induced to com-
ply with the terms, the brigades recrossed the Panj-
kora River, and then marching by easy stages down
the line of communications, returned to the Mala-
kand. The Guides, moving back to Mardan, went
into cantonments again, and turned in a moment
from war to peace. The Buffs, bitterly dis-
appointed at having lost their chance of joining
in the Tirah expedition, remained at Malakand in
garrison. A considerable force was retained near
Jalala, to await the issue of the operations against
the Afridis, and to be ready to move against the
Bunerwals, should an expedition be necessary.
Here we leave the Malakand Field Force. It
may be, that there is yet another chapter of its
history which remains to be written, and that the
fine regiments of which it is composed, will, under
their trusted commander, have other opportunities
of playing the great game of war. If that be so,
the reader shall decide, whether the account shall
prolong the tale I have told, or whether the task
shall fall to another hand.^
^ It is an excellent instance of the capricious and hap-hazard
manner in which honours and rewards are bestowed in the army,
that the operations in the Mamund Valley and throughout Bajaur
are commemorated by no distinctive clasp. The losses sustained
by the Brigade were indisputably most severe. The result was
successful. The conduct of the troops has been officially com-
mended. Yet the soldiers who were engaged in all the rough
fighting I have described in the last eight chapters have been
excluded from any of the special clasps which have been struck.
They share the general clasp with every man who crossed the
frontier and with some thousands who never saw a shot fired.
"... And thou hast talk'd
Of sallies and retires, of trenches, tents,
Of palisadoes, frontiers, parapets.
Of basilisks, of cannon, culverin."
" Henry IV.," Part I., Act ii., Sc. 3.
Transport — Camps — Attacks — Retirements — Employment of
Artillery— Signalling— The Dum-Dum Bullet— The Military
Problem — The Young Soldier — Short Service — The Courage
of the Soldier.
It may at first seem, that a chapter wholly devoted
to military considerations, is inappropriate to a
book, which, if it is to enjoy any measure of success,
must be read by many unconnected with the army.
But I remember that in these days it is necessary
for every one, who means to be well informed, to
have a superficial knowledge of every one else's
business. Encouraged also by what Mr. Gladstone
has called " the growing militarism of the times," I
hope that, avoiding technicalities, it may be of
some general interest to glance for a moment at
the frontier war from a purely professional point of
view. My observations must be taken as apply-
ing to the theatre of the war, I have described, but
I do not doubt, that many of them will be appli-
cable to the whole frontier.
The first and most important consideration is
284 The Malakand Field Force.
transport. Nobody who has not seen for himself,
can reaHse what a great matter this is. I well
recall my amazement, when watching a camel con-
voy more than a mile and a half long, escorted
by half a battalion of infantry. I was informed
that it contained only two days' supplies for one
brigade. People talk lightly, of moving columns
hither and thither, as if they were mobile groups of
men, who had only to march about the country and
fight the enemy wherever found, and very few
understand that an army is a ponderous mass
which drags painfully after it, a long chain of ad-
vanced depots, stages, rest camps, and communica-
tions, by which it is securely fastened to a stationary
base. In these valleys, where wheeled traffic is
impossible, the difficulties and cost of moving sup-
plies are enormous ; and as none, or very few, are
to be obtained within the country, the consideration
is paramount. Mule transport is for many reasons
superior to camel transport. The mule moves
faster and can traverse more difficult ground. He
is also more hardy and keeps in better condition.
When Sir Bindon Blood began his advance against
the Mohmands he equipped his 2nd Brigade
entirely with mules. It was thus far more mobile,
and was available for any rapid movement, that
might become necessary. To mix the two — camels
and mules— appears to combine the disadvantages
of both, and destroy the superiority of either.
I have already described the Indian service camp
and the " sniping," without which no night across
the frontier could be complete. I shall therefore
only notice two points, which were previously
Military Observations. 285
omitted, as they looked suspiciously technical. As
the night firing is sometimes varied by more serious
attacks, and even actual assaults and sword rushes,
it is thought advisable to have the ditch of the
entrenchment towards the enemy. Modern weapons
notwithstanding, the ultimate appeal is to the bayo-
net, and the advantage of being on the higher
ground is then considerable.
When a battery forms part of the line round a
camp, infantry soldiers should be placed between the
guns. Artillery officers do not like this ; but, though
they are very good fellows, there are some things
in which it is not well to give way to them. Every
one is prone to over-estimate the power of his
In the Mamund Valley all the fighting occurred
in capturing villages, which lay in rocky and broken
ground in the hollows of the mountains, and were
defended by a swarm of active riflemen. Against
the quickly moving figures of the enemy it proved
almost useless to fire volleys. The tribesmen would
dart from rock to rock, exposing themselves only
for an instant, and before the attention of a section
could be directed to them and the rifles aimed,
the chance and the target would have vanished
together. Better results were obtained by picking
out good shots and giving them permission to fire
when they saw their opportunity, without waiting
for the word of command. But speaking generally,
infantry should push on to the attack with the
bayonet without wasting much time in firing, which
can only result in their being delayed under the fire
of a well-posted enemy.
2 86 The Malakand Field Force.
After the capture and destruction of the village,
the troops had always to return to camp, and a
retirement became necessary. The difficulty of
executing such an operation in the face of an active
and numerous enemy, armed with modern rifles,
was great. I had the opportunity of witnessing
six of these retirements from the rear companies.
Five were fortunate and one was disastrous, but all
were attended with loss, and as experienced officers
have informed me, with danger. As long as no one
is hit everything is successful, but as soon as a few
men are wounded, the difficulties begin. No sooner
has a point been left — a knoll, a patch of corn, some
rocks, or any other incident of ground — than it is
seized by the enemy. With their excellent rifles,
they kill or wound two or three of the retiring
company, whose somewhat close formation makes
them a good mark. Now, in civilised war these
wounded would be left on the ground, and matters
arranged next day by parley. But on the frontier,
where no quarter is asked or given, to carry away
the wounded is a sacred duty. It is also the strenu-
ous endeavour of every regiment to carry away their
dead. The vile and horrid mutilations, which the
tribesmen inflict on all bodies that fall into their
hands, and the insults to which they expose them,
add, to unphilosophic minds, another terror to
death. Now, it takes at least four men, and very
often more, to carry away a body. Observe the
result. Every man hit, means five rifles withdrawn
from the firing line. Ten men hit, puts a company
out of action, as far as fighting power is concerned.
The watchful enemy press. The groups of men
bearing the injured are excellent targets. Presently
the rear-guard is encumbered with wounded. Then
a vigorous charge with swords is pushed home.
Thus, a disaster occurs.
Watching the progress of events, sometimes
from one regiment, sometimes from another, I
observed several ways by which these difficulties
could be avoided. The Guides, long skilled in
frontier war, were the most valuable instructors.
As the enemy seize every point as soon as it is
left, all retirements should be masked by leaving
two or three men behind from each company.
These keep up a brisk fire, and after the whole
company have taken up a new position, or have
nearly done so, they run back and join them.
Besides this, the fire of one company in retiring
should always be arranged to cover another, and at
no moment in a withdrawal should the firing ever
cease. The covering company should be actually in
position before the rear company begins to move, and
should open fire at once. I was particularly struck
on 1 8th September by the retirement of the Guides
Infantry. These principles were carried out with
such skill and thoroughness that, though the enemy
pressed severely, only one man was wounded.
The way in which Major Campbell, the command-
ing officer, availed himself of the advantages of
retiring down two spurs and bringing a cross fire
to bear to cover the alternate retirements, re-
sembled some intricate chess problem, rather than
a military evolution.
The power of the Lee-Metford rifle with the new
Dum-Dum bullet — it is now called, though not
288 The Malakand Field Force.
officially, the ''ek-dum"^ bullet — is tremendous.
The soldiers who have used it have the utmost con-
fidence in their weapon. Up to 500 yards there is
no difficulty about judging the range, as it shoots
quite straight, or, technically speaking, has a flat
trajectory. This is of the greatest value. Of the
bullet it may be said, that its stopping power is
all that could be desired. The Dum-Dum bullet,
though not explosive, is expansive. The original
Lee-Metford bullet was a pellet of lead covered by
a nickel case with an opening at the base. In the
improved bullet this outer case has been drawn
backward, making the hole in the base a little
smaller and leaving the lead at the tip exposed.
The result is a wonderful and from the technical
point of view a beautiful machine. On striking a
bone this causes the bullet to set up " or spread
out, and it then tears and splinters everything
before it, causing wounds which in the body must
be generally mortal and in any limb necessitate
amputation. Continental critics have asked whether
such a bullet is not a violation of the Geneva or St.
Petersburg Conventions ; but no clause of these
international agreements forbids expansive bullets,
and the only provision on the subject is that shells
less than a certain size shall not be employed.
I would observe that bullets are primarily intended
to kill, and that these bullets do their duty most
effectually, without causing any more pain to those
struck by them, than the ordinary lead variety.
As the enemy obtained some Lee-Metford rifles
and Dum-Dum ammunition during the progress
1 Hindustani for " at once ".
Military Observations. 289
of the fighting, information on this latter point
is forthcoming. The sensation is described as
similar to that produced by any bullet — a
violent numbing blow, followed by a sense of
injury and weakness, but little actual pain at
the time. Indeed, now-a-days, very few people
are so unfortunate as to suffer much pain from
wounds, except during the period of recovery. A
man is hit. In a quarter of an hour, that is to say,
before the shock has passed away and the pain be-
gins, he is usually at the dressing station. Here he
is given morphia injections, which reduce all sensa-
tions to a uniform dulness. In this state he remains,
until he is placed under chloroform and operated on.
The necessity for having the officers in the
same dress as the men, was apparent to all
who watched the operations. The conspicuous
figure which a British officer in his helmet pre-
sented in contrast to the native soldiers in their
turbans, drew a well-aimed fire in his direction. Of
course, in British regiments, the difference is not
nearly so marked. Nevertheless, at close quarters
the keen-eyed tribesmen always made an especial
mark of the officers, distinguishing them chiefly, I
think, by the fact that they do not carry rifles. The
following story may show how evident this was : —
When the Buffs were marching down to Panj-
kora, they passed the Royal West Kent coming up
to relieve them at Inayat Kila. A private in the
up-going regiment asked a friend in the Buffs what
it was like at the front. " Oh," replied the latter,
" you'll be all right so long as you don't go near no
officers, nor no white stones." Whether the advice
290 The Malakand Field Force.
was taken is not recorded, but it was certainly
sound, for three days later — on 30th September —
in those companies of the Royal West Kent regi-
ment, that were engaged in the village of Agrah,
eight out of eleven officers were hit or grazed by
The fatigues experienced by troops in mountain
warfare are so great, that every effort has to be
made to lighten the soldier's load. At the same
time the more ammunition he carries on his person
the better. Mules laden with cartridge-boxes, are
very likely to be shot, and fall into the hands of
the enemy. In this manner over 6000 rounds were
lost on the i6th of September by the two companies
of Sikhs, whose retirement I have described.
The thick leather belts, pouches, and valise equip-
ment of British infantry are unnecessarily heavy. I
have heard many officers suggest having them made
of web. The argument against this is that the web
wears out. That objection could be met by having
a large supply of these equipments at the base and
issuing fresh ones as soon as the old were unfit for
use. It is cheaper to wear out belts than soldiers.
Great efforts should be made to give the soldier a
piece of chocolate, a small sausage, or something
portable and nutritious to carry with him to the
field. In a war of long marches, of uncertain for-
tunes, of retirements often delayed and always
pressed, there have been many occasions when regi-
ments and companies have unexpectedly had to
stop out all night without food. It is well to re-
member that the stomach governs the world.
The principle of concentrating artillery has long
Military Observations. 291
been admitted in Europe. Sir Bindon Blood is
the first general who has applied it to mountain
warfare in India. It had formerly been the custom
to use the guns by twos and threes. As we have
seen, at the action of Landakai, the Malakand Field
Force had eighteen guns in action, of which twelve
were in one line. The fire of this artillery drove
the enemy, who were in great strength and an
excellent position, from the ground. The infantry
attack was accomplished, with hardly any loss, and
a success was obtained at a cost of a dozen lives
which would have been cheap at a hundred.
After this, it may seem strange if I say, that
the artillery fire in the Mamund Valley, did very
little execution. It is nevertheless a fact. The
Mamunds are a puny tribe, but they build their
houses in the rocks ; and against sharpshooters in
broken ground, guns can do little. Through field-
glasses it was possible to see the enemy dodging
behind their rocks, whenever the puffs of smoke
from the guns told them that a shell was on its
way. Perhaps smokeless powder would have put
a stop to this. But in any case, the targets pre-
sented to the artillery, were extremely bad.
Where they really were of great service, was not
so much in killing the enemy, but in keeping them
from occupying certain spurs and knolls. On 30th
September, when the Royal West Kent and the
31st Punjaub Infantry were retiring under consider-
able pressure, the British Mountain Battery moved
to within 700 yards of the enemy, and opened a
rapid fire of shrapnel on the high ground, which
commanded the line of retreat, killing such of the
292 The Malakand Field Force.
tribesmen as were there, and absolutely forbidding
the hill to their companions.
In all rearguard actions among the mountains
the employment of artillery is imperative. Even
two guns may materially assist the extrication of
the infantry from the peaks and crags of the hill-
side, and prevent by timely shells the tribesmen
from seizing each point as soon as it is evacuated.
But there is no reason why the artillery should be
stinted, and at least two batteries, if available,
should accompany a brigade to the attack.
Signalling by * heliograph, was throughout the
operations of the greatest value. I had always
realised the advantages of a semi-permanent line of
signal stations along the communications to the
telegraph, but I had doubted the practicability
of using such complicated arrangements in action.
In this torrid country, where the sun is always
shining, the heliograph is always useful. As soon
as any hill was taken, communication was established
with the brigadier, and no difficulty seemed to be
met with, even while the attack was in progress,
in sending messages quickly and clearly. In a
country intersected by frequent ravines, over which
a horse can move but slowly and painfully, it is the
surest, the quickest, and indeed the only means of
intercommunication. I am delighted to testify to
these things, because I had formerly been a scoffer.
I have touched on infantry and artillery, and,
though a previous chapter has been almost wholly
devoted to the cavalry, I cannot resist the desire to
get back to the horses and the lances again. The
question of sword or lance as the cavalryman's
weapon has long been argued, and it may be of
interest to consider what are the views of those whose
experience is the most recent. Though I have had
no opportunity of witnessing the use of the lance, I
have heard the opinions of many officers both of the
Guides and the nth Bengal Lancers. All admit
or assert, that the lance is in this warfare the better
weapon. It kills with more certainty and con-
venience, and there is less danger of the horseman
being cut down. As to length, the general opinion
seems to be in favour of a shorter spear. This, with
a counter poise at the butt, gives as good a reach
and is much more useful for close quarters. Major
Beatson, one of the most distinguished cavalry
officers on the frontier, is a strong advocate of this.
Either the pennon should be knotted, or a boss of
some sort affixed about eighteen inches below the
point. Unless this be done there is a danger of the
lance penetrating too far, when it either gets broken
or allows the enemy to wriggle up and strike the
lancer. This last actually happened on several
Now, in considering the question to what extent
a squadron should be armed with lances, the system
adopted by the Guides may be of interest. In this
warfare it is very often necessary for the cavalry-
man to dismount and use his carbine. The lance
then gets in the way and has to be tied to the
saddle. This takes time, and there is usually not
much time to spare in cavalry skirmishing. The
Guides compromise matters by giving one man in
every four a lance. This man, when the others dis-
mount, stays in the saddle and holds their horses,
294 The Malakand Field Force.
They also give the outer sections of each squadron
lances, and these, too, remain mounted, as the drill-
book enjoins. But I become too technical.
I pass for a moment to combined tactics. In
frontier warfare Providence is on the side of the
good band-o-bust} There are no scenic effects
or great opportunities, and the Brigadier who leaves
the mountains with as good a reputation as he
entered them has proved himself an able, sensible
man. The general who avoids all "dash," who
never starts in the morning looking for a fight and
without any definite intention, who does not
attempt heroic achievements, and who keeps his
eye on his watch, will have few casualties and little
glory. For the enemy do not become formidable
until a mistake has been made. The public who
do not believe in military operations without blood-
shed may be unattentive. His subordinate officers
may complain that they have had no fighting. But
in the consciousness of duty skilfully performed and
of human life preserved he will find a high reward.
A general review of the frontier war will, I
think, show the great disadvantages, to which
regular troops are exposed in fighting an active
enterprising enemy that can move faster and shoot
better, who knows the country and who knows the
ranges. The terrible losses inflicted on the tribes-
men in the Swat Valley show how easily disciplined
troops, can brush away the bravest savages in the
open. But on the hillside all is changed, and the
observer will be struck by the weakness rather
than the strength of modern weapons. Daring
riflemen, individually superior to the soldiers, and
Military Observations. 295
able to support the greatest fatigues, can always
inflict loss, although they cannot bar their path.
The military problem with which the Spaniards
are confronted in Cuba is in many points similar
to that presented in the Afghan valleys ; a roadless,
broken and undeveloped country ; an absence of
any strategic points ; a well-armed enemy with
great mobility and modern rifles, who adopts
guerilla tactics. The results in either case are,
that the troops can march anywhere, and do any-
thing, except catch the enemy ; and that all their
movements must be attended with loss.
If the question of subduing the tribes be re-
garded from a purely military standpoint, if time
were no object, and there was no danger of a
lengthy operation being interrupted by a change of
policy at home, it would appear that the efforts of
commanders should be, to induce the tribesmen to
assume the offensive. On this point I must limit
my remarks to the flat-bottomed valleys of Swat
and Bajaur. To coerce a tribe like the Mamunds,
a mixed brigade might camp at the entrance to the
valley, and as at Inayat Kila, entrench itself very
strongly. The squadron of cavalry could patrol
the valley daily in complete security, as the tribes-
men would not dare to leave the hills. All sowing
of crops and agricultural work would be stopped.
The natives would retaliate by firing into the camp
at night. This would cause loss ; but if every one
were to dig a good hole to sleep in, and if the officers
were made to have dinner before sundown, and for-
bidden to walk about except on duty after dark,
there is no reason why the loss should be severe. At
296 The Malakand Field Force.
length the tribesmen, infuriated by the occupation
of their valley, and perhaps rendered desperate by
the approach of famine and winter, would make a
tremendous attempt to storm the camp. With a
strong entrenchment, a wire trip to break a rush,
and modern rifles, they would be driven off with
great slaughter, and once severely punished would
probably beg for terms. If not, the process would
be continued until they did so.
Such a military policy would cost about the same
in money as the vigorous methods I have described,
as though smaller numbers of troops might be
employed, they would have to remain mobilised
and in the field for a longer period. But the loss
in personnel would be much less. As good an
example of the success of this method as can be
found, is provided by Sir Bindon Blood's tactics at
Nawagai, when, being too weak to attack the enemy
himself, he encouraged them to attack him, and
then beat them off with great loss.
From the point which we have now reached, it is
possible, and perhaps not undesirable, to take a
rapid yet sweeping glance, of the larger military
problems of the day. We have for some years
adopted the "short service" system. It is a con-
tinental system. It has many disadvantages.
Troops raised under it suffer from youth, want of
training and lack of regimental associations. But
on the Continent it has this one, paramount recom-
mendation : it provides enormous numbers. The
active army is merely a machine for manufacturing
soldiers quickly, and passing them into the reserves,
to be stored until they are wanted. European
Military Observations. 297
nations deal with soldiers only in masses. Great
armies of men, not necessarily of a high standard
of courage and training, but armed with deadly
weapons, are directed against one another, under
varying strategical conditions. Before they can
rebound, thousands are slaughtered and a great
battle has been won or lost. The average courage
of the two nations may perhaps have been decided.
The essence of the continental system is its gigantic
We have adopted this system in all respects but
one, and that the vital one. We have got the poor
quality, without the great quantity. We have, by
the short service system, increased our numbers a
little, and decreased our standard a good deal.
The reason that this system, which is so well
adapted to continental requirements, confers no
advantages upon us is obvious. Our army is
recruited by a voluntary system. Short service
and conscription are inseparable. For this reason,
several stern soldiers advocate conscription. But
many words will have to be spoken, many votes
voted, and perhaps many blows struck before the
British people would submit to such an abridgment
of their liberties, or such a drag upon their com-
merce. It will be time to make such sacrifices,
when the English Channel runs dry.
Without conscription we cannot have great
numbers. It should therefore be our endeavour
to have those we possess of the best qualit}/ ; and
our situation and needs, enforce this view. Our
soldiers are not required to operate in great masses,
but very often to fight hand to hand. Their
298 The Malakand Field Force.
campaigns are not fought in temperate climates,
and civilised countries. They are sent beyond the
seas to Africa or the Indian frontier, and there,
under a hot sun and in a pestilential land, they are
engaged in individual combat with athletic savages.
They are not old enough for the work.
Young as they are, their superior weapons and
the prestige of the dominant race enable them to
maintain their superiority over the native troops.
But in the present war several incidents have
occurred, unimportant, insignificant, it is true, but
which, in the interests of Imperial expediency, are
better forgotten. The native regiments are ten
years older than the British regiments. Many of
their men have seen service and have been under fire.
Some of them have several medals. All, of course,
are habituated to the natural conditions. It is
evident how many advantages they enjoy. It is
also apparent how very serious the consequences
would be if they imagined, they possessed any
superiority. That such an assumption should even
be possible is a menace to our very existence in
India. Intrinsic merit is the only title of a domi-
nant race to its possessions. If we fail in this it is
not because our spirit is old and grown weak, but
because our soldiers are young, and not yet grown
Boys of twenty-one and twenty-two are expected
to compete on equal terms with Sikhs and Gurkhas
of thirty, fully developed and in the prime of life.
It is an unfair test. That they should have held
their own, is a splendid tribute to the vigour of
our race. The experiment is dangerous, and it is
Military Observations. 299
also expensive. We continue to make it because
the idea is still cherished that British armies will
one day again play a part in continental war.
When the people of the United Kingdom are foolish
enough to allow their little army to be ground
to fragments between continental myriads, they will
deserve all the misfortunes that will inevitably
come upon them.
I am aware that these arguments are neither
original nor new. I have merely arranged them. I
am also aware that there are able, brilliant men
who have spent their lives in the service of the
State, who do not take the views I have quoted.
The question has been regarded from an Indian
point of view. There is probably no colonel in
India, who commands a British regiment, who
would not like to see his men five years older.
It may be that the Indian opinion on the subject
is based only on partial information, and warped
by local circumstances. Still I have thought it
right to submit it to the consideration of the public,
at a time when the army has been filling such a
prominent position, not only in the Jubilee proces-
sion and the frontier war, but also in the esti-
mates presented to the House of Commons.
Passing from the concrete to the abstract, it may
not be unfitting that these pages, which have re-
corded so many valiant deeds, should contain
some brief inquiry into the nature of those motives
which induce men to expose themselves to great
hazards, and to remain in situations of danger.
The circumstances of war contain every element
that can shake the nerves. The whizzing of the
300 The Malakand Field Force.
projectiles ; the shouts and yells of a numerous and
savage enemy ; the piteous aspect of the wounded,
covered with blood and sometimes crying out in
pain ; the spurts of dust which on all sides show
where Fate is stepping — these are the sights and
sounds which assail soldiers, whose development
and education enable them to fully appreciate
their significance. And yet the courage of the
soldier is the commonest of virtues. Thousands of
men, drawn at random from the population, are
found to control the instinct of self-preservation.
Nor is this courage peculiar to any particular
nation. Courage is not only common, but cosmo-
politan. But such are the apparent contradictions
of life, that this virtue, which so many seem to
possess, all hold the highest. There is probably no
man, however miserable, who would not writhe at
being exposed a coward. Why should the common
be precious ? What is the explanation ?
It appears to be this. The courage of the soldier
is not really contempt for physical evils and in-
difference to danger. It is a more or less success-
ful attempt to simulate these habits of mind.
Most men aspire to be good actors in the play.
There are a few who are so perfect that they do
not seem to be actors at all. This is the ideal
after which the rest are striving. It is one very
Three principal influences combine to assist men
in their attempts : preparation, vanity and senti-
ment. The first includes all the force of discipline
and training. The soldier has for years contem-
plated the possibility of being under fire. He has
Military Observations. 301
wondered vaguely what kind of an experience it
would be. He has seen many, who have gone
through it and returned safely. His curiosity is
excited. Presently comes the occasion. By road
and railway he approaches daily nearer to the
scene. His mind becomes familiar with the pros-
pect. His comrades are in the same situation.
Habit, behind which force of circumstances is con-
cealed, makes him conform. At length the hour
arrives. He observes the darting puffs of smoke in
the distance. He listens to the sounds that are in
the air. Perhaps he hears something strike with a
thud and sees a soldier near him collapse like a
shot pheasant. He realises that it may be his turn
next. Fear grips him by the throat.
Then vanity, the vice which promotes so many
virtues, asserts itself. He looks at his comrades
and they at him. So far he has shown no sign of
weakness. He thinks, they are thinking him brave.
The dearly longed-for reputation glitters before his
eyes. He executes the orders he receives.
But something else is needed to make a hero.
Some other influence must help him through the
harder trials and more severe ordeals, which may
befal him. It is sentiment which makes the dif-
ference in the end. Those who doubt should stroll
to the camp fire one night and listen to the soldiers'
songs. Every one clings to something that he
thinks is high and noble, or that raises him above the
rest of the world in the hour of need. Perhaps he
remembers that he is sprung from an ancient stock,
and of a race, that has always known how to die ;
or more probably it is something smaller and more
302 The Malakand Field Force.
intimate ; the regiment, whatever it is called — " The
Gordons," " The Buffs," " The Queen's,"— and so
nursing the name — only the unofficial name of an
infantry battalion after all — he accomplishes great
things and maintains the honour and the Empire of
the British people.
It may be worth while, in the matter of names, to
observe the advantages to a regiment, of a mono-
syllabic appellation. Every one will remember
Lieut-Colonel Mathias' speech to the Gordons.
Imagine for a moment that speech addressed to
some regiment saddled with a fantastic title on the
territorial system, as, for instance, Mr. Kipling's
famous regiment, The Princess Hohenzollern-
Sigmaringen-Anspach's Merthyr Tydvilshire Own
Royal Loyal Light Infantry". With the old
numbers all started on equal terms.
This has been perhaps a cold-blooded chapter.
We have considered men as targets ; tribesmen,
fighting for their homes and hills, have been re-
garded only as the objective of an attack ; killed
and wounded human beings, merely as the waste of
war. We have even attempted to analyse the high
and noble virtue of courage, in the hopes of learning
how it may be manufactured.
The philosopher may observe with pity, and the
philanthropist deplore with pain, that the attention
of so many minds should be directed to the scien-
tific destruction of the human species ; but practical
people in a business-like age will remember that
they live in a world of men — not angels — and
regulate their conduct accordingly.
CHAPTER XVIII. AND LAST.
THE RIDDLE OF THE FRONTIER.
" Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and saint, and heard great argument
About it and about, but evermore
Came out by the same door wherein I went."
The Question — The " Forward Policy " — Its Present Results —
What might have been — Actuality — The Responsibility —
At Sea — The Course — Silver v. Steel — Looking Backward —
These pages, which have chronicled a variety of
small incidents, have hitherto concerned themselves
little, with the great matters out of which those in-
cidents have arisen. As an opening chapter should
lead the reader to expect the considerations that the
book contains, so the conclusion should express the
opinion he might form from the perusal. When, at
an earlier period, I refrained from discussing the
question of frontier policy, I declared that its con-
sideration was only postponed until a more propi-
tious moment. That moment now presents itself.
There will not be wanting those, who will remind
me, that in this matter my opinion is not sup-
ported by age or experience. To such I shall reply,
that if what is written is false or foolish, neither age
nor experience should fortify it ; and if it is true, it
needs no such support. The propositions of Euclid
304 The Malakand Field Force.
would be no less indisputable were they propounded
by an infant or an idiot.
The inquirer sees the vast question unfold itself
with feelings like those, with which the fisherman
in the old story watched the genius, he had un-
wittingly released, rise from the bottle in clouds of
smoke, which overspread the whole sky. Every
moment the subject appears not only wider but
deeper. When I reflect on the great number of
diverse and often conflicting facts, which may be
assembled under every head — military, economic,
political or moral — and consider the accumulations
of specialised, and technical knowledge, necessary
for their proper appreciation, I am convinced that
to compass the whole is beyond the mind and
memory of man. Of such a question it is difficult
to take broad views, and dangerous to generalise.
Still less is it possible, as many people appear to
imagine, to settle it with a phrase or an epigram.
A point is reached where all relation between
detail and proportion is lost. It is a picture of
such great size that to see it all, it is necessary to
stand so far off that neither colours nor figures are
distinguishable. By constantly changing the point
of view, some true perspective is possible, and even
then the conception must be twisted and distorted,
by the imperfections of the mental mirror.
Sensible of the magnitude of the task, and con-
scious of my own weakness, I propose to examine
in a spirit of cautious inquiry and of tolerance the
present " Forward Policy," and thence to approach
the main question, to the answer of which that
policy is only a guess.
The Riddle of the Frontier. 305
I must revert to a period when the British power,
having conquered the plains of India and subdued
its sovereigns, paused at the foot of the Himalayas
and turned its tireless energy to internal progress
and development. The " line of the mountains "
formed a frontier as plain and intelligible as that,
which defines the limits of the sea. To the south
lay the British Empire in India ; to the north
were warlike tribes, barbarous, unapproachable, ir-
reclaimable ; and far beyond these, lay the other
great Power of Asia.
It was long the wisdom of Anglo-Indian states-
men, to preserve a situation, which contained so
many elements of finality, and so many guarantees
of peace. When the northern savages, impelled
by fanaticism or allured by plunder, descended from
the mountains and invaded the plains, they were
met by equal courage and superior discipline,
and driven in disorder to their confines. But this
was found to be an inadequate deterrent, and the
purely defensive principle, had to be modified in
favour of that system of punitive expeditions, which
has been derided as the policy of " Butcher and
Gradually, as the circumstances altered, the
methods of dealing with them changed. The
punitive expeditions had awakened an intense
hostility among the tribesmen. The intrigues of
Russia had for some time been watched with alarm
by the Indian Government. As long as the border
could remain a " No-man's land " — as it were a
"great gulf fixed" — all was well ; but if any power
was to be supreme, that power must neither be
3o6 The Malakand Field Force.
Russia nor Afghanistan. ^ The predominance of
Russian influence in these territories would give
them the power to invade India at their discretion,
with what chances of success need not be here dis-
cussed. The predominance of Afghan influence
would make the Amir master of the situation, and
enable him to blackmail the Indian Government
indefinitely. A change of policy, a departure from
the old frontier line, presented itself with increasing
force to responsible men. To-day we see the evils
that have resulted from that change. The dangers
that inspired it have been modified.
For some years the opinion in favour of an
advance grew steadily among those in power in
India. In 1876 a decisive step was taken. Roused
by the efforts of the Amir to obtain the suzerainty
of the Pathan tribes. Lord Lytton's Government
stretched a hand through Cashmere towards
Chitral, and the Mehtar of that State became the
vassal, nominally of the Maharaja of Cashmere,
but practically of the Imperial Government. The
avowed object was to ultimately secure the effectual
command of the passes of the Hindu Kush.^
The British Ministry, the famous ministry of Lord
Beaconsfield, approved the action and endorsed
the policy. Again, in 1879, Vice-regal Govern-
ment, in an official despatch, declared their inten-
tion of acquiring, " through the ruler of Cashmere,
^ " We shall consider it from the first incumbent upon the
Government of India to prevent, at any cost, the establishment
M'ithin this outlying country of the political preponderance of any
other power." — Letter from Government of India to the Secretary
of State, No. 49, 28th February, 1879.
2 Despatch No. 17, nth June, 1877.
The Riddle of the Frontier. 307
the power of making such political and military
arrangements as will effectually command the
passes of the Hindu Kush ".^ " If," so runs the
despatch, " we extend and by degrees consolidate our
influence'^ over this country, and if we resolve
that no foreign interference can be permitted on
this side of the mountains or within the drainage
system of the Indus, we shall have laid down a
natural line of frontier, which is distinct, intelligible
and likely to be respected."^
No declaration of policy or intention could have
been more explicit. The words " to extend and
consolidate our influence" can, when applied to
barbarous peoples, have no other meaning than
ultimate annexation. Thus the scheme of an ad-
vance from the plains of India into the mountain
region, which had long been maturing in men's
minds and which was shaped and outlined by
many small emergencies and expedients, was
clearly proclaimed. The forward movement had
A fresh and powerful impulse was imparted after
the termination of Lord Ripon's viceroyalty. The
open aggression which characterised the Russian
frontier policy of '84 and '85, had been met by
a supine apathy and indifference to the interests
of the State, which deserved, and which, had the
issues been less important, might have received ac-
tual punishment. It was natural, that his immediate
successors should strive to dissociate themselves
1 Despatch No. 49, 28th February, 1879.
2 The italics are mine.
2 Despatch No. 49, 28th February, 1879.
3o8 The Malakand Field Force.
from the follies and the blunders of those years.
The spirit of reaction led to the final abandonment
of the venerable policy of non-intervention. Instead
of the "line of the mountains," it was now maintained,
that the passes through them must be held. This
is the so-called " Forward Policy ". It is a policy
which aims at obtaining the frontier — Gilgit, Chit-
ral, Jelalabad, Kandahar.
In pursuance of that policy we have been led to
build many frontier forts, to construct roads, to
annex territories, and to enter upon more intimate
relations with the border tribes. The most marked
incident in that policy has been the retention of
Chitral. This act was regarded by the tribes-
men as a menace to their independence, and by
the priesthood as the prelude to a general
annexation. Nor were they wrong, for such is the
avowed aim of the " Forward Policy ". The result
of the retention of Chitral has been, as I have
already described, that the priesthood, knowing
that their authority would be weakened by civilisa-
tion, have used their religious influence on the
people, to foment a general rising.
It is useless to discuss the Chitral question inde-
pendently. If the "Forward Policy" be justified,
then the annexation of Chitral, its logical outcome,
is also justified. The bye and the main plots
stand or fall together.
So far then we have advanced and have been
resisted. The " Forward Policy " has brought an
increase of territory, a nearer approach to what is
presumably a better frontier line and — war. All
this was to have been expected. It may be said of
The Riddle of the Frontier. 309
the present system that it precludes the possibility
of peace. Isolated posts have been formed in the
midst of races, notoriously passionate, reckless and
warlike. They are challenges. When they are
assailed by the tribesmen, relieving and punitive
expeditions become necessary. All this is the
outcome of a recognised policy, and was doubtless
foreseen by those who initiated it. What may be
called strange is that the forts should be badly
constructed — cramped, as the Malakand positions ;
commanded, like Chakdara ; without flank defences,
as at Saraghari ; without proper garrisons, as in the
Khyber. This is a side issue and accidental. The
rest of the situation has been deliberately created.
The possibility of a great combination among
the border tribes was indeed not contemplated.
Separated by distance, and divided by faction,
it was anticipated, they could be dealt with in de-
tail. On this point we have been undeceived.
That period of war and disturbance which was
the inevitable first consequence of the " Forward
Policy" must in any case have been disturbed
and expensive. Regarded from an economic stand-
point, the trade of the frontier valleys, will never
pay a shilling in the pound on the military ex-
penditure necessary to preserve order. Morally, it
is unfortunate for the tribesmen, that our spheres
of influence clash with their spheres of existence.
Even on the military question, a purely technical
question, as to whether an advanced frontier line
is desirable or not, opinion is divided. Lord
Roberts says one thing ; Mr. Morley another.
There is no lack of arguments against the " For-
3IO The Malakand Field Force.
ward Policy ". There were many who opposed its
initiation. There are many who oppose it now ;
who think that nothing should have lured the
Government of India beyond their natural frontier
line, and who maintain that it would have been
both practical and philosophic, had they said :
" Over all the plains of India will we cast our rule.
There we will place our governors and magistrates ;
our words shall be respected and our laws obeyed.
But that region, where the land rises like the waves
of a sea, shall serve us as a channel of stormy waters
to divide us from our foes and rivals."
But it is futile to engage in the controversies of
the past. There are sufficient in the present, and
it is with the present we are concerned.
We have crossed the Rubicon. In the opinion of
all those who know most about the case, the
forward movement is now beyond recall. Indeed,
when the intense hostility of the Border tribes, the
uncertain attitude of the Amir, the possibilities of
further Russian aggression and the state of feeling
in India are considered, it is difficult to dispute this
judgment. Successive Indian Administrations have
urged, successive English Cabinets have admitted,
the necessity of finding a definite and a defensible
frontier. The old line has been left, and between
that line, and an advanced line, conterminous with
Afghan territory, and south of which all shall be
reduced to law and order, there does not appear
to be any prospect of a peaceful and permanent
The responsibility of placing us in this position
rests with those who first forsook the old frontier
The Riddle of the Frontier. 311
policy of holding the " line of the mountains
The historian of the future, with impartial pen and a
more complete knowledge, must pronounce on the
wisdom of their act. In the meantime it should be
remembered of these great men, that they left their
public offices, amid the applause and admiration of
their contemporaries, and " in the full tide of
successful experiment Nor can so much be said
of all those who have assailed them. Those who
decided, have accepted the responsibility, and have
defended their action. But I am inclined to think
that the rulers of India, ten years ago or a hundred
years ago, were as much the sport of circum-
stances as their successors are to-day.
Let us return to the present and our own affairs.
We have embarked on stormy and perilous waters.
The strong current of events forbids return. The
sooner the farther shore is reached, the sooner will
the dangers and discomforts of the voyage be over.
All are anxious to make the land. The suggestions
as to the course are numerous. There are some,
bad and nervous sailors perhaps, who insist upon
returning, although they are told it is impossible, and
who would sink the ship sooner than go on, were
they not outnumbered by their shipmates. While
they are delaying, the current bears us towards more
disturbed waters and more rocky landing places.
There are others who call out for " Full steam
ahead," and would accomplish the passage at once,
whatever the risks. But, alas ! the ship is run out
of coal and can only spread its sails to the varying
breezes, take advantage of favourable tides, and
must needs lie to, when the waves are high.
312 The Malakand Field Force.
But the sensible passenger may, though he
knows the difficulties of the voyage and the dangers
of the sea, fairly ask the man at the wheel to keep
a true and constant course. He may with reason
and justice insist that, whatever the delays which
the storms or accidents may cause, the head of the
vessel shall be consistently pointed towards the
distant port, and that come what will she shall not
be allowed to drift aimlessly hither and thither on
the chance of fetching up somewhere some day.
The "Full steam ahead" method would be
undoubtedly the most desirable. This is the
military view. Mobilise, it is urged, a nice field
force, and operate at leisure in the frontier valleys,
until they are as safe and civilised as Hyde Park.
Nor need this course necessarily involve the exter-
mination of the inhabitants. Military rule is the
rule best suited to the character and comprehension
of the tribesmen. They will soon recognise the
futility of resistance, and will gradually welcome
the increase of wealth and comfort that will follow
a stable government. Besides this, we shall obtain
a definite frontier almost immediately. Only one
real objection has been advanced against this plan.
But it is a crushing one, and it constitutes the
most serious argument against the whole " Forward
Policy". It is this : we have neither the troops nor
the money to carry it out.
The inevitable alternative, is the present system,
a system which the war has interrupted, but to
which we must return at its close ; a system of
gradual advance, of political intrigue among the
tribes, of subsidies and small expeditions.
The Riddle of the Frontier. 313
Though this policy is slow, painful and somewhat
undignified, there is no reason that it should not
be sure and strong. But it must be consistently
pursued. Dynamite in the hands of a child is not
more dangerous, than a strong policy weakly
carried out. The reproach which may be justly
laid upon the rulers of India whether at home or
abroad, is that while they recognise the facts, they
shrink from the legitimate conclusions.
They know they cannot turn back. They fully
intend to go on. Yet they fear to admit the situa-
tion, to frankly lay their case before the country,
and trust to the good sense and courage of an
ancient democracy. The result is, that they tie
their hands by ridiculous and unnecessary pro-
clamations, such as that which preceded the Chitral
expedition of 1895. The political officers who
watch the frontier tribes are expected to obtain
authority by force of personal character, yet strictly
according to regulations, and to combine individual-
ity with uniformity. And sometimes this timidity
leads to such dismal acts of folly as the desertion
of the Khyber forts.
But in spite of all obstacles and errors there is
a steady advance, which may be accelerated, and
made easier, by many small reforms. These ques-
tions of detail, approach so near the province of
the specialist, that I shall not attempt to enumerate,
or discuss them. It is suggested among other
things that wider powers, should be given to the
political officers, in their ordinary duties of peace.
Others advocate occasional demonstrations of
troops, to impress the tribesmen with the fact that
314 The Malakand Field Force.
those they see, are not the full strength of the
Sirkar. Bolder minds have hinted at transplanting
young Pathans, and educating them in India after
the custom of the Romans. But this last appears to
be suitable to a classic, rather than a Christian age.
From a general survey of the people and the
country, it would seem, that silver makes a better
weapon than steel. A system of subsidies must
tend to improve our relations with the tribes, enlist
their interests on the side of law and order, and by
increasing their wealth, lessen their barbarism. In
the matter of the supply of arms the Government
would find it cheaper to enter the market as a pur-
chaser, and have agents to outbid the tribesmen,
rather than to employ soldiers. As water finds its
own level, so the laws of economics will infallibly
bring commodities to the highest bidder. Doubtless
there are many other lessons which the present war
will have taught. These may lighten a task which,
though long and heavy, is not beyond the powers, or
pluck of the British people.
We are at present in a transition stage, nor is the
manner, nor occasion of the end in sight. Still
this is no time to despair. I have often noticed
in these Afghan valleys, that they seem to be
entirely surrounded by the hills, and to have no exit.
But as the column has advanced, a gap gradually be-
comes visible and a pass appears. Sometimes it is
steep and difficult, sometimes it is held by the
enemy and must be forced, but I have never seen a
valley that had not a way out. That way we shall
ultimately find, if we march with the firm, but pru-
dent step of men who know the dangers ; but con-
The Riddle of the Frontier. 315
scious of their skill and discipline, do not doubt
their ability to deal with them as they shall arise.
In such a spirit I would leave the subject, with one
Looking on the story of the great frontier war ;
at all that has been told, and all that others may tell,
there must be many who to-day will only deplore
the losses of brave soldiers, and hard-earned money.
But those, who from some future age shall, by the
steady light of history, dispassionately review the
whole situation, its causes, results and occasion,
may find other reflections, as serious perhaps, but
less mournful. The year 1897, in the annals of the
British people, was marked by a declaration to the
whole world of their faith in the higher destinies of
their race. If a strong man, when the wine sparkles
at the feast and the lights are bright, boasts of his
prowess, it is well, he should have an opportunity
of showing in the cold and grey of the morning,
that he is no idle braggart. And unborn arbiters,
with a wider knowledge, and more developed
brains, may trace in recent events the influence of
that mysterious Power, which, directing the progress
of our species, and regulating the rise and fall of
Empires, has afforded that opportunity to a people,
of whom at least it may be said, that they have
added to the happiness, the learning and the
liberties of mankind.
EXTRACTS FROM OFFICIAL DESPATCHES.
THE ATTACK ON THE MALAKAND.
26th July — ist August, 1897.
FROM THE DESPATCH OF BRIGADIER-GENERAL
W. H. MEIKLEJOHN, C.B., C.M.G.
FORWARDED TO THE ADJUTANT-GENERAL IN
INDIA BY SIR BINDON BLOOD.
43. All have done well, but I should like to bring
before His Excellency for favourable consideration the
following names of officers and men : —
2^th Punjauh Infantry.
Lieut. -Colonel J. Lamb, who, on the first alarm
being sounded on the night of the 26th July, had taken
prompt action in reinforcing the outpost line held by
his regiment, and later was of great assistance in
directing the defence of the central enclosure, till he
was severely wounded.
Captain H. F. Holland, showed great courage in
assisting to drive a number of the enemy out of the
central enclosure, and was severely wounded in doing
The Attack on the Malakand. 317
I would specially wish to mention Lieutenant S. H.
Climo, who commanded the 24th Punjaub Infantry
after Lieut.-Colonel Lamb and Captain Holland had
been wounded. This officer has shown soldierly
qualities and ability of the highest order. He has
commanded the regiment with dash and enterprise,
and shown a spirit and example which has been
foltowed by all ranks. I trust His Excellency will
be pleased to favourably notice Lieutenant Climo,
who has proved himself an officer, who will do well
in any position, and is well worthy of promotion.
Lieutenant A. K. Rawlins has behaved well all
through. I would recommend him to His Excellency,
for the plucky way in which he went to the fort on
the 26th July to bring down reinforcements, and again
for the dash he showed in leading his men on the 27th
and 28th, of which Lieutenant Climo speaks most
Lieutenant E. W. Costello, 22nd Punjaub Infantry,
temporarily attached to the 24th Punjaub Infantry,
has behaved exceedingly well, and is the subject of a
315^ Punjaub Infantry.
Major M. I. Gibbs, who commanded the regiment
in the absence of Major O'Bryen, with skill and in
every way to my satisfaction.
Lieutenant H. B. Ford, Acting- Adjutant, 31st Pun-
jaub Infantry, rendered valuable assistance in helping
to bring in a wounded Sepoy during the withdrawal
from north camp. He also behaved with courage
in resisting an attack of the enemy on the night of
the 28th, when he was severely wounded.
Surgeon-Lieutenant J. H. Hugo, attached to 31st
Punjaub Infantry, rendered valuable service on the
The Malakand Field Force.
night of the 28th in saving Lieutenant H. B. Ford from
bleeding to death. Lieutenant Ford was wounded and a
branch of an artery was cut. There were no means of
securing the artery, and Surgeon-Lieutenant Hugo for
two hours stopped the bleeding by compressing the
artery with his fingers. Had he not had the strength
to do so, Lieutenant Ford must have died. Early in
the morning, thinking that the enemy had effected *an
entrance into camp, Surgeon-Lieutenant Hugo picked
up Lieutenant Ford with one arm, and, still holding
the artery with the fingers of the other hand, carried
him to a place of safety.
Colonel H. A. Sawyer was away on leave when
hostilities broke out, but he returned on the 29th and
took over command of the regiment from Lieut-Colonel
McRae, and from that time rendered me every assist-
I would specially bring to the notice of His Excellency
the Commander-in-Chief the name of Lieut. -Colonel H.
N. McRae, who commanded the regiment on the 26th,
27th and 28th. His prompt action in seizing the gorge
at the top of the Buddhist road on the night of the
26th, and the gallant way in which he held it, un-
doubtedly saved the camp from being rushed on that
side. For this, and for the able way in which he com-
manded the regiment during the first three days of the
fighting, I would commend him to His Excellency's
Also Lieutenant R. M. Barff, Officiating-Adjutant
of the regiment, who, Lieut. -Colonel McRae reports,
behaved with great courage and rendered him valuable
The Attack on the Malakand. 319
I also wish to bring the name of Lieut. -Colonel R.
B. Adams of the Guides to His Excellency's notice.
The prompt way in which the corps mobilised, and their
grand march, reflect great credit on him and the corps.
Since arrival at the Malakand on the 27th July and till
the morning of the ist August, Lieut. -Colonel Adams
was in command of the lower camp, i.e., that occupied
by central and left position, and in the execution of this
command, and the arrangements he made for improv-
ing the defences, he gave me every satisfaction. I have
also to express my appreciation of the way in which
he conducted the cavalry reconnaissance on the ist
August, on which occasion his horse was shot under
Great credit is due to Lieutenant P. C. Eliott-Lock-
hart, who was in command of the Guides Infantry, for
bringing up the regiment from Mardan to Malakand in
such good condition after their trying march.
Captain G. M. Baldwin, D.S.O., behaved with great
courage and coolness during the reconnaissance of the
ist August, and though severely wounded by a sword
cut on the head, he remained on the ground and con-
tinued to lead his men.
Lieutenant H. L. S. Maclean also behaved with
courage, and displayed an excellent example on the
night of the 28th July, when he was severely wounded.
nth Bengal Lancers.
Major S. Beatson commanded the squadron, nth
Bengal Lancers, which arrived at Malakand on the
2gth, and led them with great skill and dash on the
occasion of the reconnaissance on the ist August.
320 The Malakand Field Force.
No. 8 Bengal Mountain Battery.
Lieutenant F. A. Wynter was the only officer with
No. 8 Bengal Mountain Battery from the 26th till the
30th July, and he commanded it during that time when
all the severest of the fighting was going on, with
great ability, and has proved himself a good soldier. I
should like especially to mention him for His Ex-
cellency's consideration. The battery did excellent
work all through.
No. 5 Company Queen s Own Madras Sappers and
Lieutenant A. R. Winsloe, R.E., commanded the
company from the 27th July till the ist August to my
entire satisfaction. His services in strengthening the
defences were invaluable.
Lieutenant F. W. Watling, R.E., was in command
of the company in the absence of Captain Johnson on
the 26th, and commanded it well until he was wounded
in gallantly trying to resist a charge of the enemy.
After Lieutenant Watling was wounded the command
of the company for the remainder of the night of the
26th, and till Lieutenant Winsloe returned on the
27th, devolved on Lieutenant E. N. Manley, R.E.
He performed his duties with great credit, and after-
wards was of great assistance, by his zeal and his
exertions, to Lieutenant Winsloe.
Brigade-Surgeon-Lieut. -Colonel F. A. Smyth, was
most zealous, and performed his duties to my satisfac-
tion. He volunteered to perform the duties of Provost
Marshal, and did so for a short time during the illness
of Lieutenant H. E. Cotterill.
The arrangements made by Surgeon-Major S.
The Attack on the Malakand. 321
Hassan, Senior Medical Officer, 38th Native Field
Hospital, and the indefatigable attention and care
with which he devoted himself to the wounded, de-
serve great praise. The list of casualties is large,
and Surgeon-Major Hassan, has been untiring in his
exertions for their relief. I hope His Excellency will
think fit to consider his services favourably.
Surgeon-Captain T. A. O. Langston, 38th Native
Field Hospital, rendered valuable assistance in at-
tending to the wounded under a heavy fire on the
night of the 26th and each following night, and be-
haved with courage and devotion in carrying out his
duties under very exceptional circumstances. Surgeon-
Lieutenant W. Carr has worked night and day in the
hospitals, in trying to alleviate the sufferings of the
wounded, and has most ably and efficiently aided
Surgeon- Major Hassan.
Major L. Herbert, my Deputy Assistant Adjutant and
Quartermaster-General, was of the greatest assistance
to me by the zeal and energy with which he performed
his duties from the moment the news of the approach
of the enemy was received till he was severely wounded
while standing next to me in the enclosure of the
Sappers and Miners' camp on the night of the 26th.
Since being wounded, he has carried on all his office
duties on his bed. I would wish to commend his
gallant conduct for the favourable consideration of the
Although Major H. A. Deane is in no way under my
authority, I feel I am under a great obligation to him
for the valuable assistance he rendered me with his ad-
vice and for volunteering to put himself at my disposal
with the object of carrying on the active duties of Deputy
322 The Malakand Field Force.
Assistant Adjutant-General, when Major Herbert was
wounded. He was indefatigable in assisting me in
every way he could, and I am anxious to put on re-
cord my grateful appreciation of the services he rendered
44. The above list of names may appear to be some-
what long ; but I would point out that the fighting was
almost constant for a week, and was of such a close
nature as to demand incessant exertion from every
officer in the force, and to elicit constant acts of courage
and gallant example which cannot be overlooked.
45. I would not like to close this despatch without
paying a tribute to the memory of a fine soldier, and
charming companion whose death the whole force de-
Major W. W. Taylor had behaved with the greatest
gallantry and dash in meeting the enemy's first charge
with Lieut.-Colonel McRae, and, had he lived, he would
undoubtedly have distinguished himself in his career.
His loss is a heavy one to his regiment, and to the
Service, and there is no one in the brigade who does
not mourn him as a friend.
I have also to deplore the death of Honorary-Lieu-
tenant L. Manley, who as my Commissariat Officer, had
rendered me great assistance, and who died fighting
manfully. His loss is a very serious one to the
46. I attach separately, for favourable consideration,
a list of native officers, non-commissioned officers
and men, who have done especially good service ; some
of whom, I have therein recommended for the order of
I trust these recommendations will meet with the
favourable consideration of His Excellency the Com-
THE RELIEF OF CHAKDARA.
2ND August, 1897.
FROM THE DESPATCH OF MAJOR-GENERAL SIR
BINDON BLOOD, K.C.B.
ig. I have the honour to invite the special attention
of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief in India to
the good services of the following officers during the
operations described above, namely: —
Brigadier-General W. H. Meiklejohn, C.B., C.M.G.,
carried out his duties in command of the force which
relieved Chakdara Fort, with great gallantry, and
Colonel A. J. F. Reid, Officiating Colonel on the
Staff, Malakand Brigade, afforded me valuable assist-
ance by carrying out the rearrangement of the defen-
sive posts at the Malakand on the ist August, after the
Relieving Force had been drawn from them, and in
making the preparations for Colonel T. H. Goldney's
attack on the 2nd.
Colonel T. H. Goldney, 35th Sikhs, disposed and
led the troops on the morning of the 2nd in the suc-
cessful attack on the hill, since named after him, in a
most judicious and satisfactory manner.
Major E. A. P. Hobday, R.A., was most energetic
and indefatigable in assisting Colonel A. J. F. Reid
and me, in carrying out the multifarious work, which
had to be done at the Malakand, and in the Swat
Valley on the ist, 2nd and 3rd.
324 The Malakand Field Force.
Brigadier-General Meiklejohn, reports favourably on
the following officers who were under his command
during the operations above detailed, viz. : —
Captain G. F. H. Dillon, 40th Pathans, who acted
as StalT Officer to the Relieving Force, showed great
readiness and resource, and his assistance was of the
Lieutenants C. R. Gaunt, 4th Dragoon Guards,
Orderly Officer, and E. Christian, Royal Scots Fusiliers,
Signalling Officer, carried out their duties most satis-
Lieut.-Colonel R. B. Adams, Queen's Own Corps of
Guides, commanded the cavalry (four squadrons) with
the Relieving Force, in the most gallant and judicious
The following officers commanding units and de-
tachments of the Relieving Force, are stated by Briga-
dier-General Meiklejohn to have carried out their
duties in a thoroughly capable and satisfactory manner,
viz. : —
Colonel H. A. Sawyer, 45th Sikhs.
Major Stuart Beatson, nth Bengal Lancers.
Major J. G. Ramsay, 24th Punjaub Infantry.
Captain A. H. C. Birch, R.A. (8th Bengal Moun-
Lieutenant G. de H. Smith, 2nd Regiment, Central
India Horse, attached to Queen's Own Corps of Guides
Lieutenant A. R. Winsloe, R.E. (No. 5 Company
Queen's Own Sappers and Miners).
Lieutenant P. C. Eliott-Lockhart, Queen's Own
Corps of Guides (infantry).
Surgeon-Captain H. F. Whitchurch, V.C., attended
to the wounded under fire throughout the fighting.
The following officers under Colonel T. H. Goldney's
The Relief of Chakdara. 325
command led their detachments under my own ob-
servation with gallantry and judgment, viz. :■ —
Lieut.-Colonel L. J. E. Bradshaw, 35th Sikhs.
Captain L. C. H. Stainforth, 38th Dogras.
Jemadar Nawab, who commanded two guns of
No. 8 Bengal Mountain Battery in support of Colonel
Goldney's attack, attracted my favourable notice by
his smartness, quickness and thorough knowledge of
I would also wish to bring to His Excellency's
notice the good work done by Major H. Burney,
Gordon Highlanders, Assistant Adjutant-General ;
Major H. Wharry, D.S.O., Chief Commissariat Officer,
and Captain A. B. Dunsterville ist Battalion East
Surrey Regiment, my Aide-de-Camp ; the only officers
of the Divisional Staff of my force, who had arrived
at the Malakand on the 2nd August. These officers
worked very hard and were of great use to me.
20. Major H. A. Deane, C.S.I., Political Agent, Dir
and Swat, was not in an}^ way under my orders
during the operations above described, but notwith-
standing, I hope I may be permitted to express the
obligations under which I lie to him for valuable
information and general assistance which he gave
THE DEFENCE OF CHAKDARA.
26th July — 2nd August, 1897.
FROM THE DESPATCH OF MAJOR-GENERAL SIR
BINDON BLOOD, K.C.B.
15. During the fighting above described, the conduct
of the whole of the garrison, whether fighting men,
departmental details, or followers, is reported to have
been most gallant. Not the least marked display of
courage and constancy was that made by the small
detachment in the signal tower, who were without
water for the last eighteen hours of the siege. The
signallers, under No. 2729, Lance-Naik Vir Singh, 45th
Sikhs, who set a brilliant example, behaved through-
out in a most courageous manner ; one of them, No.
2829, Sepoy Prem Singh, climbing several times out
of a window in the tower with a heliograph, and
signalling outside to the Malakand under a hot fire
from smigars in every direction.
16. I would beg to recommend all the British and
native officers, who took part in the defence, I have
described for the favourable consideration of His
Excellency the Commander-in-Chief as under, viz. : —
Captain H. Wright, nth Bengal Lancers, who,
with his detachment of forty sabres of his regiment,
made the gallant ride through the enemy from the
Malakand to Chakdara Fort, on the morning of the
27th July, and commanded the garrison from thaf
morning till its relief on the 2nd August,
The Defence of Chakdara. 327
Captain D. Baker, 2nd Bombay Infantry, who rode
to Chakdara Fort with Captain Wright, and made
himself most useful. Lieutenant H. B. Rattray, 45th
Sikhs, who commanded the garrison from the com-
mencement of the attack on the 26th July till the
arrival of Captain Wright next day, and is reported
by that officer to have been the life and soul of the
defence. 2nd Lieutenant J. L. Wheatley, 45th Sikhs,
had charge of the gun and Maxim detachments, and it
was largely owing to his care and judgment that these
weapons were so effective in the defence.
Lieutenant A. B. Minchin, 25th Punjaub Infantry,
Assistant Political Agent, was in the fort throughout
the siege, and was most useful.
Ressaidar Tilok Singh, nth Bengal Lancers, ac-
companied Captain Wright in his ride of the 27th
July, and is very favourably mentioned by that officer.
Jemadar Sudama commanded the detachment of the
2 1 St Bengal Lancers who were at Chakdara Fort on
the 26th July, and was present throughout the siege,
and is also very favourably reported on.
Subadar Jwala Singh, 45th Sikhs, was present
throughout the siege, and showed great intelligence
and readiness of resource, as well as courage and cool-
ness, under fire.
Jemadar Ala Singh, 45th Sikhs, had command of
the sections on the parapet of the river fort, and
showed conspicuous courage and coolness under heavy
Lieutenant Rattray reports that No. 522 Hospital
Assistant Piara Singh, nth Bengal Lancers, rendered
valuable assistance, not only in attending the wounded
under fire, but also in the sortie on the 2nd, and at
other times in bringing up ammunition, etc., to the
men on the parapets under fire.
328 The Malakand Field Force.
17. I shall further have the honour, in a separate
communication, to submit, for the favourable considera-
tion of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, the
names of several non-commissioned officers and men,
who distinguished themselves during the siege of
Chakdara Fort, in view of their being granted the
order of merit, should His Excellency think them
deserving of that distinction.
From Major- General Sir B. Blood, K.C.B.,
Commanding the Malakand Field Force, to the
Adjutant-General in India, — No. 5, " De-
spatches, Malakand Field Force,'' — dated 2jth
I regret to find that in my report, " Despatches,
Malakand Field Force," No. 3, of the 20th August, 1897,
I omitted to include the name of Surgeon-Captain
E. V. Hugo, Indian Medical Service, amongst those of
the officers recommended to the favourable considera-
tion of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief for
their services during the recent defence of Chakdara
Fort. I now have great pleasure in stating that Sur-
geon-Captain Hugo served with distinction throughout
the defence in question, and in recommending him for
favourable consideration accordingly.
ACTION OF LANDAKAI AND EXPEDITION
INTO UPPER SWAT.
FROM THE DESPATCH OF MAJOR-GENERAL SIR
BINDON BLOOD, K.C.B.
32. In concluding this part of my report, I would
wish to express my admiration of the fine soldierly
qualities exhibited by all ranks of the special force
which I led into Upper Swat. They fought the action
at Landakai in a brilliant manner, working over high
hills, under a burning sun, with the greatest alacrity,
and showing everywhere the greatest keenness to close
with the enemy. They carried out admirably the trying
duties necessitated by marching in hot weather with
a transport train of more than 2000 mules, and they
endured with perfect cheerfulness, the discomforts of
several nights' bivouac in heavy rain. The officers of
the Divisional Staff and of my personal staff who were
with me,i Brigadier-General W. H. Meiklejohn, C.B.,
1 Major H. H. Burney, Assistant Adjutant-General (Gordon
Highlanders) ; Lieut. -Colonel A. Masters, Assistant Quarter-
master-General (2nd Regiment Central India Horse) ; Captain
H. E. Stanton, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General, Intelli-
gence Branch (Royal Artillery) ; Colonel W. Aitken, Colonel on
the Staff, Royal Artillery; Captain H. D. Grier, Adjutant, R.A. ;
Major E. Blunt, Senior Officer of Royal Engineers ; Captain E.
W. M. Norie, Superintendent, Army Signalling (Middlesex Regi-
ment) ; Captain C. G. F. Edwards, Provost Marshal (5th Punjaub
Cavalry) ; Captain A, B. Dunsterville, A.D.C. (ist Battalion
330 The Malakand Field Force.
C.M.G., and his staff, and the several heads of depart-
ments and commanding officers of Divisional Troops,
all carried out their duties in an entirely satisfactory
Major H. A. Deane, Political Agent, and his assist-
ant. Lieutenant A. B. Minchin, gave valuable assistance
in collecting intelligence and supplies.
33. While the operations above described were in
progress, a diversion was made towards the southern
border of the Buner country from Mardan by the ist
Reserve Brigade, which, on its headquarters leaving
Mardan, came under my command as the 3rd Brigade,
Malakand Field Force.
34. A force 1 under Brigadier-General J. Wode-
house, C.B., C.M.G., was concentrated on the 17th
August at Rustum, eighteen miles north-east of Mardan,
East Surrey Regiment) ; Captain A. R. Dick, Orderly Officer.
Brigade Staff. — Major E. A. P. Hobday, Deputy Assistant Adju-
tant-General (Royal Artillery) ; Captain G. F. H. Dillon, Deputy
Assistant Quartermaster-General (40th Bengal Infantry) ; Captain
C. H. Beville, Commissariat Transport Department ; Captain J.
M. Camilleri, in charge of Transport (13th Bengal Infantry) ; Sur-
geon-Lieut. -Colonel J. T. B. Bookey, I.M.S. ; Lieutenant C. R,
Gaunt, Orderly Officer, 4th Dragoon Guards. Commanding Offi-
cers of Divisional Troops. — Lieut.-Colonel R. B. Adams, Queen's
Own Corps of Guides ; Major C. A. Anderson, loth Field Battery,
Royal Artillery ; Major M. F. Fegan, No. 7 Mountain Battery,
Royal Artillery ; Captain A. H. C. Birch, No. 8 Bengal Mountain
Battery ; Captain E. P. Johnson, No. 5 Company Queen's Own
Sappers and Miners.
^ ist Battalion Highland Light Infantry, under Lieut.-Colonel
R. D. B. Rutherford ; 39th Garhwal Rifles, under Lieut.-Colonel
B. C. Greaves ; No. 3 Company Bombay Sappers and Miners,
under Captain C. E. Baddeley, R.E. ; one squadron loth Bengal
Lancers, under Captain W. L. Maxwell ; two guns No. i Moun-
tain Battery, Royal Artillery, und^r Lieutenant H, L, N. Beynon,
Action of Landakai, etc. 331
and about four miles from the Buner border, with the
object of acting as a containing force, and so prevent-
ing the sections of the Bunerwals who had not already
committed themselves against us from joining in op-
position to our advance into Upper Swat.
35. The presence of this force had the desired effect,
and Brigadier-General Wodehouse and his staff made
good use of the time they spent at Rustum in acquiring
valuable information about several of the passes in the
36. Brigadier-General Wodehouse states that
throughout the operations of his force, which involved
considerable fatigue and exposure to heat and rain,
the spirit of his troops left nothing to be desired. He
makes special mention of the work of No. 3 Company
Bombay Sappers and Miners, under Captain C, E.
Baddeley, R.E. He also reports very favourably on
the assistance given him by Lieutenant C. P. Down,
Assistant Commissioner, and has expressed to me a
high opinion of that officer's abilities and acquirements,
particularly of his proficiency in the local vernacular.
THE ACTION OF THE i6th SEPTEMBER.
FROM SIR BINDON. BLOOD'S DESPATCH, CONTAIN-
ING THE SUMMARY OF BRIGADIER-GENERAL
JEFFREYS' REPORT OF THE ACTION.
27. The behaviour of the troops throughout this
trying day was very good. The steadiness and dis-
cipHne shown by the ist BattaHon of the Buffs, under
Lieut.-Colonel Ommanney, were admirable, while
Brigadier-General Jeffreys has specially commended
the gallantry with which the Guides Infantry, under
Major Campbell, brought off Captain Ryder's detach-
ment of the 35th Sikhs, carrying the wounded on
their backs under a heavy fire. He has further
strongly endorsed Major Campbell's favourable men-
tion of the courage and judgment shown by Captain
G. B. Hodson, and Lieutenant H. W. Codrington, of
the Guides, who commanded the companies of the
battalion which were chiefly in contact with the
enemy; the gallantry of Surgeon-Captain J. Fisher,
Indian Medical Service, who made a most determined,
though unsuccessful, attempt to take medical aid to
the wounded of Captain Ryder's detachment through
a hot fire ; of Surgeon-Lieutenant E. L. Perry, Indian
Medical Service ; of Jemadar Sikandar Khan of the
Guides, and of several non-commissioned officers and
Sepoys of the same corps, regarding whom I have had
the honour to make a separate communication.
28. Brigadier-General Jeffreys has also described in
very favourable terms the gallant and valuable work
done on this day by Captain Cole and his squadron
of the nth Bengal Lancers. He has commended the
conduct of Captain W. I. Ryder and Lieutenant O. G.
Gunning, 35th Sikhs, who were both wounded, and
The Action of the i6th September. 333
of Jemadar Narayan Singh, Havildar Ram Singh and
Sepoy Karram Singh ^ of the same regiment. He has
also brought to notice a gallant act of Captain A. H. C.
Birch, R.A., commanding No. 8 Bengal Mountain
Battery, and his trumpeter, Jiwan, in rescuing a
wounded Sepoy of the 35th Sikhs, as well as the dis-
tinguished gallantry of Jemadars Nawab and Ishar
Singh and several non-commissioned officers and men
of the same battery, in regard to which I have made
separate communications to you.
29. Brigadier-General Jeffreys further refers in the
strongest terms of commendation to the gallant con-
duct of Lieutenants T. C. Watson 2 and J. M. C.
Colvin, R.E., and of the handful of men of the Buffs
and No. 4 Company Bengal Sappers and Miners, who
spent the night of the iGth-iyth with him in the village
of Bilot. The conduct of these officers and men ^ in
entering the village several times in the dark in face
of a heavy fire directed upon them at close quarters,
seems deserving of the highest recognition, and I
have consequently made a special communication to
you on the subject. Brigadier-General Jeffreys has
also commended the gallant conduct of his Deputy
Assistant Adjutant-General,'^ Major E. O. F. Hamilton,
I St Battalion the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regi-
ment, and finally he has praised the courage and re-
solution of Lieutenant W. L. S. Churchill, 4th Hussars,
the correspondent of the Pioneer newspaper with the
force, who made himself useful at a critical moment.
^ This man's case has formed the subject of a separate com-
2 Twice wounded in attempting to clear the village.
^ Of whom six were killed and eighteen wounded on this occa-
sion, out of a total strength of fifty-four.
^ The remainder of Brigadier-General Jeffreys' staff was with
the main body when it got separated from him.
OPERATIONS OF THE MALAKAND FIELD
FROM THE CONCLUDING DESPATCH OF MAJOR-
GENERAL SIR BINDON BLOOD, K.C.B.
58. The commissariat arrangements under Major
H. Wharry, D.S.O., were most successful. The
rations were always abundant, and of uniformly good
quality ; and I may here observe that in five previous
campaigns I have never seen the supply of bread
anything like so continuously good, as it has been
throughout the operations of the Malakand Field
Force. No doubt the excellence of the commissariat
arrangements, has had a great deal to do with the good
state of health of the troops, which I have remarked
59. The transport was most efficient throughout the
operations under reference, and its management, under
the direction of Captain C. G. R. Thackwell, Divisional
Transport Officer, who was most ably and energeti-
cally assisted by Veterinary-Captain H. T. W. Mann,
Senior Veterinary Officer, was most successful. In
proof of this I will cite a report just made to me
by Brigadier-General Jeffreys, commanding the 2nd
Brigade of my force, that this morning, on inspecting
1265 rnules attached to his brigade, which have just
returned from seven weeks in the field, he found
fourteen sore backs, and four animals otherwise unfit
for work, or a total of only eighteen disabled animals
Operktions of the Malakand Field Force. 335
60.1 The medical service was carried out in a very
satisfactory manner. Some difficulties arose on the
transfer of officers and material to the Tirah Ex-
ped'Honary Force on its formation, especially as large
convoys of sick and wounded were on the line of this
force at the time, but these difficulties were successfully
overcome by Colonel A. J. F. Reid, commanding the
Malakand Brigade, who was in charge of the Line,
2 id matters were ultimately restored to smooth
working on the arrival of Surgeon-Colonel J. C. G.
Carmichael, Indian Medical Service, who is now
Principal Medical Officer of the Force.
61. The telegraph arrangements were well carried
out by Lieutenant W. Robertson, R.E., under the
direction of Mr. C. E. Pitman, CLE. The postal .
service under Mr. H. C. Sheridan was also satis-
62. The working of the several departments of the
headquarters' staff was most satisfactory and success-
ful. The heads of departments were : —
Major H. H. Burney, Gordon Highlanders, Assist-
Lieutenant-Colonel A. Masters, 2nd Regiment Cen-
tral India Horse, Assistant Quartermaster-General.
Captain H. E. Stanton, D.S.O., R.A., Deputy
Assistant Quartermaster-General (Intelligence).
Captain E. W. M. Norie, Middlesex Regiment,
Superintendent, Army Signalling.
"Surgeon-Colonel J. C. G. Carmichael, Indian Medi-
cal Service, Principal Medical Officer.
' Lieutenant-Colonel W. Aitken, C.B., R.A., Com-
manding Royal Artillery.
Colonel J. E. Broadbent, R.E., Commanding Royal
Engineers — relieved early in October by Lieutenant-
Colonel W. Peacocke, C.M.G., R.E.
336 The Malakand Field Force.
Captain W. E. Banbury, 25th Madras Ini'antry,
Field Treasure Chest Officer.
Captain W. W. Cookson, R.A., Ordnance Officer.
Major H. Wharry, D.S.O., Staff Corps, Chief .'Om-
Captain C. G. R. Thackwell, Staff Corps, Divisional
Veterinary-Captain H. T. W. Mann,i Army Veterin-
ary Department, Senior Veterinary Officer.
Captain C. L. Robertson, R.E., Survey Officer.
Captain C. G. F. Edwards, 5th Punjaub Cavahy,
The Rev. L. Klogh, Chaplain.
Lieutenant W. Robertson, R.E., in charge of Tele-
63. I am under great obligations to my personal
staff— Captain A. B. Dunsterville, ist Battalion East
Surrey Regiment, Aide-de-Camp ; Captain A. R. Dick^
2nd Punjaub Cavalry, and Lieutenant Viscount Fin-
castle, i6th (The Queen's) Lancers.
64. It will have been gathered from the foregoing
narrative that the three brigades of the force were ably
commanded by Brigadier-Generals W. H. Meiklejohn,
C.B., C.M.G., ist Brigade; P. D. Jeffreys,^ C.B., 2nd
Brigade, and J. H. Wodehouse, C.B., C.M.G.,=^ 3rd
Brigade, who were efficiently seconded by their staffs.
The Line of Communications and the Base were also
most efficiently managed by Colonel A. J. F. Reid,
Commanding the Malakand Brigade, and by Lieiit.-
Colonel A. V. Schalch, nth Bengal Infantry, the Bat^e
Commandant, and their respective staffs.
65. In my final report on the conclusion of the
^ Wounded in action, 20th September, 1897.
- Wounded in actioi?, i6th September, 1897.
• Wounded in action, 20th September, 1897.
Operations of the Malakand Field Force. 337
operations of the force, I shall have the honour to
bring the services of the officers above briefly referred
to more fully to the notice of His Excellency the Com-
66. Major H. A. Deane, C.S.I., Political Agent,
Dir, Chitral and Swat, was in separate and inde-
pendent charge of the political arrangements connected
with the operations I have described, as far as Nawa-
gai. He accom.panied my headquarters to Ghosam,
where I left him on the 12th September, and rejoined
me at Inayat Kila on the 4th October. He gave much
assistance in arranging for the collection of local sup-
67. Mr. W. S. Davis was my political officer through-
out the operations beyond Nawagai, and in the Mamund
Valley prior to Major Deane's return to my head-
quarters on the 4th October. He carried out his duties
to my complete satisfaction. His native assistant,
Khan Bahadur Ibrahim Kham, also made himself very
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