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MA.l()K-(Il.M.l^\l. Sir Binhon Blood, K.C.B., 
Conimaiiclin<; Malakand l""ielcl Force. 






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 






First printed, March, 1898. 
Silver Library Edition, January, 1899. 
Colonial Library Edition, March, 1898 ; Reprinted, March, 
1898; November, i8g8. 



Major-General Sir BINDON BLOOD, K.C.B., 



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. 

Cavalry Barracks, 
Bangalore, 30//^ December, 1897. 


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 
the first. 

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 



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 Ghilzaie chief wrote answer : " Our paths are narrow and 

The sun burns fierce in the valleys, and the snow-fed streams run 
deep ; 

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 
by sipping. 

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. 




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 
definitely abandoned. 

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 
the subsidy. 

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 

The Outbreak. 


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 
been confronted. 

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 

The Outbreak. 


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 
vernacular press, 

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, 

The Outbreak. 


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 

The Outbreak. 


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 

The Outbreak. 


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 
in safety. 

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 : — 

45th Sikhs. 

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 
Pathans ". 

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 

The Outbreak. 


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. 




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 
tremendous fire. 

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 
long range. 

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. 

British Officers. 
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 

and Miners. 

Of these Lieut. -Colonel Lamb and Major Taylor 
died of their wounds. 

Native Ranks. 

Killed 21 

Wounded 31 

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. 

The Guides. 

Two Guns. 

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 : — 

British Officer. 
Wounded— Lieutenant E. W. Costello. 

Native Ranks. 

Killed 12 

Wounded 29 

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 

British Officers. 
Wounded severely — Lieutenant H. B. Ford, 31st Punjaub Infantry. 

,, H. L. S. Maclean, the Guides. 

Wounded slightly — Lieutenant G. Swinley, 31st Punjaub In- 

Native Ranks. 

Killed 2 

Wounded 13 

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 : — 

British Officers. 
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. 

Native Ranks. 

■ Killed I 

Wounded 17 

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 
of Malakand. 

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. 

Killed. Wounded. 

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 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 : — 

1st Brigade. 

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. 

2nd Brigade. 

Commanding — Brigadier-General P. D. Jeffreys, C.B. 
I St Battalion East Kent Regiment (the Buffs). 
35th Sikhs. 
38th Dogras. 
Guides Infantry. 

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. 

Divisional Troops. 
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 : — 

45th Sikhs. 

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 : — 

British Officers. 
Wounded severely — Captain G. M. Baldwin, the Guides. 
,, slightly — Lieutenant C. V. Keyes, the Guides. 

Native Ranks. 

Killed. Wounded, 

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. 
Hospital details. 

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 
tribesmen retired. 

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 
to advance. 

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. 

Killed. Wounded. 
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. 



, . . 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, 
Lieutenant Minchin. 

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 
Chakdara safely. 

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 
fitting conclusion. 

The casualties in the siege were as follows : — 

Killed. Wounded, 
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 
seven days. 

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. 




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 : — 

2,rd Brigade. 

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 : — 

1st Brigade. 
Commanding — Brigadier-General Meiklejohn. 
Royal West Kent Regiment. 
24th Punjaub Infantry. 

45th Sikhs. 

With the following divisional troops : — 
loth Field Battery. 
No. 7 British^ 

Mountain Batteries. 

„ 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 
in despatches. 

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 : — 

British Officers. 
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 
powerful weapons. 

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, 
M.A., LL.D. 

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 
Buddha's desiccation. 

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 



Upper „ 



Buner proper - 



Utman Khel - 






Other tribes 


Total— 2080. 

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 : — 

Malakand 700 

Siege of Chakdara . . . _ 2000 

Relief,, ,, 500 

Action of Landakai . . . . 500 
Total — 3700. 




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 frontier. 

The Advance Against the Mohmands. 133 

The casualties were as follows : — 

British Officers. 
Wounded severely — Major A. Lumb, Somersetshire Light 

„ Captain S. W. Blacker, R.A. 

„ „ 2nd Lieut. E. Drummond, Somersetshire 

Light Infantry. 

Wounded slightly — Lieut. A. V. Cheyne, 13th Bengal Lancers. 

British N.C.O.'s and Soldiers. 

Killed. Wounded. 
51st Field Battery, R. A. 2 
Somersetshire Light Infantry - - - 3 9 

Native Ranks. 
13th Bengal Lancers . . . - i 12 
20th Punjaub Infantry - - - - 5 35 

Followers i 

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 
to organise. 

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. 
2.nd Brigade. 
Brigadier-General Jeffreys, C.B. 
The Buffs. 
35th Sikhs. 
38th Dogras. 
Guides Infantry. 

No, 4 Company (Bengal) Sappers and Miners. 
No. 7 Mountain Battery. 

^rd Brigade. 
Brigadier-General Wodehouse. 
The Queen's Regiment.^ 
22nd Punjaub Infantry. 

1 This regiment had replaced the Gordon Highlanders in tht 
3rd Brigade. 

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. 
Brigadier-General Meiklejohn. 
Royal West Kent. 
Highland Light Infantry. 
31st Punjaub Infantry. 
24th ,, ,, 
45th Sikhs. 

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 Brigade. 
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 Brigade. 

2nd Battalion Oxfordshire Light Infantry, 
gth Gurkha Rifles. 
37th Dogras. 

Sections C and D No. 5 British Field Hospital. 
No. 44 Native Field Hospital. 

Divisional Troops. 

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 
Swat Valley. 

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 
of watchers. 

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. 




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- 
mund Valley. 

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 
its enemies. 

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 : — 

British Officers. 
Killed— Capt. W. E. Tomkins, 38th Dogras. 

,, Lieut. A. W. Bailey, 38th Dogras. 
Died of wounds — Lieut. H. A. Harington, attd. 38th Dogras. 

Native Officer. 
Wounded - - i 

Native Soldiers. 

Killed. Wounded. 
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 
' Despatches. 

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 




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 
(pronounced Shytungy). 

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 
35th Sikhs. 

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 
fine spectacle. 

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 
the doolies. 

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. 




" 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." 

RuDYARD Kipling. 

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 
we pursue". 

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 : — 

British Officers. 
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. 

British Soldiers. 



The Buffs 



Native Ranks. 



nth Bengal Lancers 


No. 8 Mountain Battery - 



Guides Infantry . . . . 



35th Sikhs 



38th Dogras 





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 
and reconnoitred. 

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 
ruins remained. 

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 
Mamund tribesmen. 

35th Sikhs - 
Guides Infantry 
38th Dogras - 

Killed. Wounded. 
2 3 



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 : — 

British Officers. 
Wounded severely — 2nd Lieutenant G. N. S. Keene. 
,, slightly — Captain L. I. B. Hulke. 
,, ,, Lieutenant R. E. Power. 

British Soldiers. 

Killed. Wounded. 

Buffs I 10 

(Died of wounds). 

At Inayat Kila. 


Native Ranks. 


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 : — 

British Officer. 
Wounded — Major S. Moody, the Buffs. 

Native Ranks. 

Killed. Wounded. 
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 
zealously cultivated. 

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- 
tini-Henry rifles. 

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 
natural features. 




" 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 
the troops. 

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 : — 

British Officers. 
Wounded severely — Brigadier-General Wodehouse. 
,, slightly — Veterinary-Captain Mann. 

British Soldiers. 

Killed. Wounded. 
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 




" 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 
was comforting. 

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 
were due. 

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 : — 

British Officers. 
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, 

British Soldiers. 

Killed. Wounded. 
Royal West Kent - - - 3 20 

1 Royal West Kent. 

Native Ranks. 

Killed. Wounded. 
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 : — 

1st Brigade. 

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. 

2.7id Brigade. 
Commanding — Brigadier-General Jeffreys, C.B. 
The Royal West Kent. 
38th Dogras. 
Guides Infantry. 
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. 




" 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 
humble spirit. 

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 
in check. 

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 
be British. 

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 
more inexplicable. 

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 

Native Officers 

Native Soldiers 

Soldiers - 

Killed - 
Killed - 
Killed - 







Total - 

- 282 

- 150 

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 
nature recoils 

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 

Military Observations. 


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 

Military Observations. 


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 
^ Arrangements. 

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 
rarely attained. 

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. 




" 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." 

Omar Khayyam. 

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. 

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 
farewell glance. 

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. 





26th July — ist August, 1897. 



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 
separate recommendation. 

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. 

(Rattray's) Sikhs. 

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 
favourable consideration. 

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 

The Guides. 

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. 

Medical Staff. 

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. 

Brigade Staff. 

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- 


2ND August, 1897. 


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 
utmost value. 

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- 
tain Battery). 

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 
his work. 

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 



26th July — 2nd August, 1897. 


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 
October, 1897. 

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. 


August, 1897. 


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. 




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. 




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 
in all. 

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- 
ant Adjutant-General. 

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- 
missariat Officer. 

Captain C. G. R. Thackwell, Staff Corps, Divisional 
Transport Officer. 

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, 
Provost Marshal. 

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