Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXVIII. February, 1843. Vol. LIII.

Part 5 out of 6

following close upon each other, disgusted our officers,
disheartened our soldiers, and finally sunk us all into
irretrievable ruin, as though Heaven itself, by a combination
of evil circumstances, for its own inscrutable purposes, had
planned our downfall.

"_November 16th_.--The impression made by the enemy by the
action of the 13th was so far salutary, that they did not
venture to annoy us again for several days. Advantage was taken
of this respite to throw magazine supplies from time to time
into the Bala Hissar, a duty which was ably performed by
Lieutenant Walker, with a resalah of irregular horse, under
cover of night. But even in this short interval of comparative
rest, such was the wretched construction of the cantonment,
that the mere ordinary routine of garrison duty, and the
necessity of closely manning our long line of rampart both by
day and night, was a severe trial to the health and patience of
the troops; especially now that the winter began to show
symptoms of unusual severity. There seemed, indeed, every
probability of an early fall of snow, to which all looked
forward with dread, as the harbinger of fresh difficulties and
of augmented suffering.

"These considerations, and the manifest superiority of the Bala
Hissar as a military position, led to the early discussion of
the expediency of abandoning the cantonment, and consolidating
our forces in the above-mentioned stronghold. The Envoy himself
was, from the first, greatly in favour of this move, until
overruled by the many objections urged against it by the
military authorities; to which, as will be seen by a letter
from him presently quoted, he learned by degrees to attach some
weight himself; but to the very last it was a measure that had
many advocates, and I venture to state my own firm belief that,
had we at this time moved into the Bala Hissar, Cabul would
have been still in our possession.

"But Brigadier Shelton having firmly set his face against the
movement from the first moment of its proposition, all serious
idea of it was gradually abandoned, though it continued to the
very last a subject of common discussion."

"_Nov_. 18. Accounts were this day received from Jellalabad, that
General Sale, having sallied from the town, had repulsed the enemy with
considerable loss.... The hope of his return has tended much to support
our spirits; our disappointment was therefore great, to learn that all
expectation of aid from that quarter was at an end. Our eyes were now
turned towards the Kandahar force as our last resource though an advance
from that quarter seemed scarcely practicable so late in the year."

The propriety of attacking Mahomed Khan's fort, the possession of which
would have opened an easy communication with the Bala Hissar, was
discussed; but, on some sudden objection raised by Lieutenant Sturt of
the engineers, the project was abandoned.

On the 19th, a letter was addressed by the Envoy to the General, the
object of which seems not to be very apparent. He raises objections to a
retreat either to Jellalabad or to the Bala Hissar, and expresses a
decided objection to abandon the cantonment under any circumstances, if
food can be procured; but, nevertheless, it is sufficiently evident
that his hopes of successful resistance had even now become feeble, and
he refers to the possibility that succours may arrive from Kandahar, or
that "something might turn up in our favour."

The village of Beymaroo, (or Husbandless, from a beautiful virgin who
was nursed there,) within half a mile of the cantonments, had been our
chief source of supply, to which the enemy had in some measure put a
stop by occupying it every morning. It was therefore determined to
endeavour to anticipate them by taking possession of it before their
arrival. For this purpose, a party moved out under Major Swayne of the
5th native infantry; but the Major, "it would seem, by his own account,
found the village already occupied, and the entrance blocked up in such
a manner that he considered it out of his power to force a passage." It
does not appear that the attempt was made. Later in the day there was
some skirmishing in the plain, in the course of which Lieutenant Eyre
was wounded.

"It is worthy of note that Mahomed Akber Khan, second son of the late
Ameer Dost Mahomed Khan, arrived in Cabul this night (22d Nov.) from
Bameean. This man was destined to exercise an evil influence over our
future fortunes. The crisis of our struggle was already nigh at hand."

"_Nov_. 23.--This day decided the fate of the Cabul force." It had been
determined by a council, at the special recommendation of the Envoy,
that a force under Brigadier Shelton should storm the village of
Beymaroo, and maintain the hill above it against any numbers of the
enemy that might appear. At two A.M., the troops[22] moved out of
cantonments, ascended the hill by the gorge, dragging up the gun, and
moved along the ridge to a point overlooking the village. A sharp fire
of grape created great confusion, and it was suggested by Captain Bellew
and others to General Shelton, to storm the village, while the evident
panic of the enemy lasted. To this the Brigadier did not accede.

[22] Five companies 44th; six companies 5th native infantry;
six companies 37th native infantry; 100 sappers; 2-1/2
squadrons cavalry; one gun.

When day broke, the enemy, whose ammunition had failed, were seen
hurrying from the village--not 40 men remained. A storming party, under
Majors Swayne and Kershaw, was ordered to carry the village; but Major
Swayne missed the gate, which was open, and arrived at a barricaded
wicket, which he had no means of forcing. Major Swayne was wounded, and
lost some men, and was ultimately recalled. Leaving a reserve of three
companies of the 37th native infantry, under Major Kershaw, at the point
overhanging Beymaroo, the Brigadier moved back with the rest of the
troops and the gun to the part of the hill which overlooked the gorge.
It was suggested to raise a sungar or breastwork to protect the troops,
for which purpose the sappers had been taken out, but it was not done.
Immense numbers of the enemy, issuing from the city, had now crowned the
opposite hill--in all, probably 10,000 men. Our skirmishers were kept
out with great difficulty, and chiefly by the exertions and example of
Colonel Oliver. The remainder of the troops were formed into two
squares, and the cavalry drawn up _en masse_ immediately in their rear,
and all suffered severely--the vent of the only gun became too hot to be
served. A party of cavalry under Lieutenant Walker was recalled to
prevent its destruction, and a demonstration of the Affghan cavalry on
our right flank, which had been exposed by the recall of Lieutenant
Walker, was repulsed by a fire of shrapnell, which mortally wounded a
chief of consequence. The enemy surrounded the troops on three sides.
The men were faint with fatigue and thirst--the Affghan skirmishers
pressed on, and our's gave way. The men could not be got to charge
bayonets. The enemy made a rush at the guns, the cavalry were ordered to
charge, but would not follow their officers. The first square and the
cavalry gave way, and were with difficulty rallied behind the second
square, leaving the gun in the hands of the enemy, who immediately
carried off the limber and horses. News of Abdoolah Khan's wound spread
amongst the Affghans, who now retired. Our men resumed courage, and
regained possession of the gun; and fresh ammunition having arrived from
cantonments, it again opened on the enemy: but our cavalry would not
act, and the infantry were too much exhausted and disheartened to make a
forward movement, and too few in number. The whole force of the enemy
came on with renewed vigour--the front of the advanced square had been
literally mowed down, and most of the gallant artillerymen had fallen.
The gun was scarcely limbered up preparatory to retreat, when a rush
from the Ghazees broke the first square. All order was at an end, the
entreaties and commands of the officers were unheeded, and an utter rout
ensued down the hill towards the cantonments, the enemy's cavalry making
a fearful slaughter among the unresisting fugitives. The retreat of
Major Kershaw's party was cut off, and his men were nearly all
destroyed. The mingled tide of flight and pursuit seemed to be about to
enter the cantonments together; but the pursuers were checked by the
fire of the Shah's 5th infantry and the juzailchees, and by a charge of
a fresh troop of cavalry under Lieutenant Hardyman, and fifteen or
twenty of his own men rallied by Lieutenant Walker, who fell in that
encounter. Osman Khan, too, a chief whose men were amongst the foremost,
voluntarily halted them and drew them off, "which may be reckoned,
indeed, (says Lieutenant Eyre,) the chief reason why _all_ of our people
who on that day went forth to battle were not destroyed." The gun and
the second limber which had arrived from the cantonments, in attempting
to gallop down hill, was overturned and lost. "Our loss was
tremendous--the greater part of the wounded, including Colonel Oliver,
having been left in the field, where they were miserably cut to

[23] In Mr Eyre's observations on this disastrous affair, he
enumerates six errors, which he says must present themselves to
the most unpractised military eye. "The first, and perhaps the
most fatal mistake of all, was the taking only one gun;" but he
admits that there was only one gun ready, and that, if the
Brigadier had waited for the second, he must have postponed the
enterprise for a day. This would probably have been the more
prudent course.

The second error was, that advantage was not taken of the panic
in the village, to storm it at once in the dark; but it appears
from his own account, that there were not more than forty men
remaining in the village when it was attacked, after daylight,
and that the chief cause of the failure of that attack, was
Major Swayne's having missed the gate, a misfortune which was,
certainly, at least as likely to have occurred in the dark.

The third was, that the sappers were not employed to raise a
breastwork for the protection of the troops. This objection
appears to be well founded.

The fourth was, that the infantry were formed into squares, to
resist the distant fire of infantry, on ground over which no
cavalry could have charged with effect. It appears to be so
utterly unintelligible that any officer should have been guilty
of so manifest an absurdity, that the circumstances seem to
require further elucidation; but that the formation was
unfortunate, is sufficiently obvious.

Fifthly, that the position chosen for the cavalry was
erroneous; and sixthly, that the retreat was too long deferred.
Both these objections appear to be just.

Thus terminated in disaster the military struggle at Cabul, and then
commenced that series of negotiations not less disastrous, which led to
the murder of the Envoy, to the retreat of the army, and to its ultimate
annihilation. In Lieutenant Eyre's account of their military operations,
we look in vain for any evidence of promptitude, vigour, or decision,
skill or judgment, in the commanders; and we have abundant evidence of a
lamentable want of discipline and proper spirit in the troops,
especially amongst the Europeans. Instances of high personal courage and
gallantry amongst the officers are numerous, and they always will be,
when the occasion requires them; but if the facts of this narrative had
been given without the names, no man would have recognised in it the
operations of a British army.

"_Nov_. 24.--Our troops (says Eyre) had now lost all
confidence; and even such of the officers as had hitherto
indulged the hope of a favourable turn in our affairs, began at
last reluctantly to entertain gloomy forebodings as to our
future fate. Our force resembled a ship in danger of wrecking
among rocks and shoals, for want of an able pilot to guide it
safely through them. Even now, at the eleventh hour, had the
helm of affairs been grasped by a hand competent to the
important task, we might perhaps have steered clear of
destruction; but, in the absence of any such deliverer, it was
but too evident that Heaven alone could save us by some
unforeseen interposition. The spirit of the men was gone; the
influence of the officers over them declined daily; and that
boasted discipline, which alone renders a handful of our troops
superior to an irregular multitude, began fast to disappear
from among us. The enemy, on the other hand, waxed bolder every
day and every hour; nor was it long ere we got accustomed to be
bearded with impunity from under the very ramparts of our

"Never were troops exposed to greater hardships and dangers;
yet, sad to say, never did soldiers shed their blood with less
beneficial result than during the investment of the British
lines at Cabul."

Captain Conolly now wrote from the Bala Hissar, urging an immediate
retreat thither; "but the old objections were still urged against the
measure by Brigadier Shelton and others," though several of the chief
military, and all the political officers, approved of it. Shah Shoojah
was impatient to receive them.

The door to negotiation was opened by a letter to the Envoy from Osman
Khan Barukzye, a near relation of the new king, Nuwab Mahomed Zuman
Khan, who had sheltered Captain Drummond in his own house since the
first day of the outbreak. He took credit to himself for having checked
the ardour of his followers on the preceding day, and having thus saved
the British force from destruction; he declared that the chiefs only
desired we should quietly evacuate the country, leaving them to govern
it according to their own rules, and with a king of their own choosing.
The General, on being referred to, was of opinion that the cantonments
could not be defended throughout the winter, and approved of opening a
negotiation on the basis of the evacuation of the country. On the 27th,
two deputies were sent by the assembled chiefs to confer with Sir W.
Macnaghten; but the terms they proposed were such as he could not
accept. The deputies took leave of the Envoy, with the exclamation, that
"we should meet again in battle." "We shall at all events meet," replied
Sir William, "at the day of judgment."

At night the Envoy received a letter, proposing "that we should deliver
up Shah Shoojah and all his family--lay down our arms, and make an
unconditional surrender--when they might, perhaps, be induced to spare
our lives, and allow us to leave the country on condition of never

The Envoy replied, "that these terms were too dishonourable to be
entertained for a moment; and that, if they were persisted in, he must
again appeal to arms, leaving the result to the God of battles."

Active hostilities were not renewed till the 1st of December, when a
desperate effort was made by the enemy to gain possession of the Bala
Hissar; but they were repulsed by Major Ewart with considerable
slaughter. On the 4th, they cannonaded the cantonment from the Beymaroo
hills, but did little mischief, and at night they made an unsuccessful
attempt on Mahomed Shereef's fort. On the 5th, they completed, without
opposition, the destruction of the bridge over the Cabul river. On the
6th, the garrison of Mahomed Shereef's fort disgracefully abandoned it,
the men of the 44th apparently being the first to fly; and a garrison of
the same regiment, in the bazar village, was with difficulty restrained
from following their example. On the 7th, this post of honour was
occupied by the 37th native infantry; the 44th, who had hitherto been
intrusted with it, being no longer considered worthy to retain it.

It is but justice to Mr Eyre to give in his own words some remarks which
he has thought it right to make, with reference to what he has recorded
of the conduct of that unhappy regiment:--

"In the course of this narrative, I have been compelled by
stern truth to note down facts nearly affecting the honour and
interests of a British regiment. It may, or rather I fear it
must, inevitably happen, that my unreserved statements of the
Cabul occurrences will prove unacceptable to many, whose
private or public feelings are interested in glossing over or
suppressing the numerous errors committed and censures
deservedly incurred. But my heart tells me that no paltry
motives of rivalry or malice influence my pen; rather a sincere
and honest desire to benefit the public service, by pointing
out the rocks on which our reputation was wrecked, the means by
which our honour was sullied, and our Indian empire endangered,
as a warning to future actors in similar scenes. In a word, I
believe that more good is likely to ensue from the publication
of the whole unmitigated truth, than from a mere garbled
statement of it. A kingdom has been lost--an army slain;--and
surely, if I can show that, had we been but true to ourselves,
and had vigorous measures been adopted, the result might have
been widely different, I shall have written an instructive
lesson to rulers and subjects, to generals and armies, and
shall not have incurred in vain the disapprobation of the
self-interested or the proud."

The Envoy having again appealed to the General, again received an
answer, stating the impossibility of holding out, and recommending that
the Envoy should lose no time in entering into negotiations. This letter
was countersigned by Brigadiers Shelton and Anquetil, and Colonel

On the 11th December, the Envoy, accompanied by Captains Lawrence,
Trevor, and Mackenzie, and a few troopers, went out by agreement to meet
the chiefs on the plain towards the Seah Sung hills. A conciliatory
address from the Envoy was met by professions of personal esteem and
approbation of the views he had laid before them, and of gratitude for
the manner in which the Ameer Dost Mahomed Khan had been treated. The
Envoy then read to them a sketch of the proposed treaty, which was to
the following effect:--

"That the British should evacuate Affghanistan, including
Candahar, Ghuznee, Cabul, Jellalabad, and all the other
stations absolutely within the limits of the country so called;
that they should be permitted to return not only unmolested to
India, but that supplies of every description should be
afforded them in their road thither, certain men of consequence
accompanying them as hostages; that the Ameer Dost Mahomed
Khan, his family, and every Affghan now in exile for political
offences, should be allowed to return to their country; that
Shah Shoojah and his family should be allowed the option of
remaining at Cabul, or proceeding with the British troops to
Loodiana, in either case receiving from the Affghan Government
a pension of one lac of rupees per annum; that means of
transport, for the conveyance of our baggage, stores, &c.,
including that required by the royal family, in case of their
adopting the latter alternative, should be furnished by the
existing Affghan Government: that an amnesty should be granted
to all those who had made themselves obnoxious on account of
their attachment to Shah Shoojah and his allies, the British;
that all prisoners should be released; that no British force
should be ever again sent into Affghanistan, unless called for
by the Affghan government, between whom and the British nation
perpetual friendship should be established on the sure
foundation of mutual good offices."

After some objections on the part of Mahomed Akber Khan, the terms were
agreed to, and it was further arranged that provisions should be
supplied to our troops, and that they should evacuate the cantonment in
three days.

Preparations were immediately commenced for the retreat. Arms were
ordered to be distributed from the stores, now about to be abandoned, to
some of the camp-followers, and such of the soldiers as might require
them; and a disgraceful scene of confusion and tumult followed, which
showed the fearful extent to which the army was disorganized.

The troops in the Bala Hissar were moved into cantonments, not without a
foretaste of what they had to expect on their march to Jellalabad, under
the safe conduct of Akber Khan.

The demands of the chiefs now rose from day to day. They refused to
supply provisions until we should further assure them of our sincerity,
by giving up every fort in the immediate vicinity of the cantonment. The
troops were accordingly withdrawn, the forts were immediately occupied
by the Affghans, and the cantonment thus placed at their mercy. On the
18th, the promised cattle for carriage had not yet been supplied, and a
heavy fall of snow rendered the situation of the troops more desperate.
On the 19th, the Envoy wrote an order for the evacuation of Ghuznee. On
the 20th, the Envoy had another interview with the chiefs, who now
demanded that a portion of the guns and ammunition should be given up.
This also was agreed to. At this stage of the proceedings, Lieutenant
Sturt of the engineers proposed to the General to break off the treaty,
and march forthwith to Jellalabad; but the proposal was not approved.
The arrangements for giving effect to the treaty were still carried on;
and the Envoy again met Akber Khan and Osman Khan on the plain, when
Captains Conolly and Airey were given up as hostages, and the Envoy sent
his carriage and horses, and a pair of pistols, as presents to Akber
Khan, who further demanded an Arab horse, the property of Captain Grant,
assistant adjutant-general:--

"Late in the evening of the 22d December," (says Capt.
Mackenzie, in a letter to Lieut. Eyre,) "Capt. James Skinner,
who, after having been concealed in Cabul during the greater
part of the siege, had latterly been the guest of Mahomed
Akber, arrived in cantonments, accompanied by Mahomed Sudeeq
Khan, a first cousin of Mahomed Akber, and by Sirwar Khan, the
Arhanee merchant, who, in the beginning of the campaign, had
furnished the army with camels, and who had been much in the
confidence of Sir A. Burnes, being, in fact, one of our
stanchest friends. The two latter remained in a different
apartment, while Skinner dined with the Envoy. During dinner,
Skinner jestingly remarked that he felt as if laden with
combustibles, being charged with a message from Mahomed Akber
to the Envoy of a most portentous nature.

"Even then I remarked that the Envoy's eye glanced eagerly
towards Skinner with an expression of hope. In fact, he was
like a drowning man catching at straws. Skinner, however,
referred him to his Affghan companions, and after dinner the
four retired into a room by themselves. My knowledge of what
there took place is gained from poor Skinner's own relation, as
given during my subsequent captivity with him in Akber's house.
Mahomed Sudeeq disclosed Mahomed Akber's proposition to the
Envoy, which was, that the following day Sir William should
meet him (Mahomed Akber) and a few of his immediate friends,
viz. the chiefs of the Eastern Giljyes, outside the
cantonments, when a final agreement should be made, so as to be
fully understood by both parties; that Sir William should have
a considerable body of troops in readiness, which, on a given
signal, were to join with those of Mahomed Akber and the
Giljyes, assault and take Mahmood Khan's fort, and secure the
person of Ameenoolah. At this stage of the proposition Mahomed
Sudeeq signified that, for a certain sum of money, the head of
Ameenoolah should be presented to the Envoy; but from this Sir
William shrunk with abhorrence, declaring that it was neither
his custom nor that of his country to give a price for blood.
Mahomed Sudeeq then went on to say, that, after having subdued
the rest of the khans, the English should be permitted to
remain in the country eight months longer, so as to save their
_purdah_, (veil, or credit,) but that they were then to
evacuate Affghanistan, as if of their own accord; that Shah
Shoojah was to continue king of the country, and that Mahomed
Akber was to be his wuzeer. As a further reward for his
(Mahomed Akber's) assistance, the British Government were to
pay him thirty lacs of rupees, and four lacs of rupees per
annum during his life! To this extraordinary and wild proposal,
Sir William gave ear with an eagerness which nothing can
account for but the supposition, confirmed by many other
circumstances, that his strong mind had been harassed until it
had in some degree lost its equipoise; and he not only assented
fully to these terms, but actually gave a Persian paper to that
effect, written in his own hand, declaring as his motives that
it was not only an excellent opportunity to carry into effect
the real wishes of Government--which were to evacuate the
country with as much credit to ourselves as possible--but that
it would give England time to enter into a treaty with Russia,
defining the bounds beyond which neither were to pass in
Central Asia. So ended this fatal conference, the nature and
result of which, contrary to his usual custom, Sir William
communicated to none of those who, on all former occasions,
were fully in his confidence, viz. Trevor, Lawrence, and
myself. It seemed as if he feared that we might insist on the
impracticability of the plan, which he must have studiously
concealed from himself. All the following morning his manner
was distracted and hurried, in a way that none of us had ever
before witnessed.

* * * * *

"After breakfast, Trevor, Lawrence, and myself were summoned to
attend the Envoy during his conference with Mahomed Akber Khan.
I found him alone, when, for the first time, he disclosed to me
the nature of the transaction he was engaged in. I immediately
warned him that it was a plot against him. He replied hastily,
'A plot! let me alone for that--trust me for that!' and I
consequently offered no further remonstrance. Sir William then
arranged with General Elphinstone that the 54th regiment, under
Major Ewart, should be held in readiness for immediate service.
The Shah's 6th, and two guns, were also warned."

Sir W. Macnaghten, halting the troopers of the escort, advanced about
500 or 600 yards from the eastern rampart of the cantonment, and there
awaited Akber Khan and his party:--

"Close by where some hillocks, on the further side of which
from the cantonment a carpet was spread where the snow lay
least thick, and there the khans and Sir William sat down to
hold their conference. Men talk of presentiment; I suppose it
was something of the kind which came over me, for I could
scarcely prevail upon myself to quit my horse. I did so,
however, and was invited to sit down among the Sirdars. After
the usual salutations, Mahomed Akber commenced business by
asking the Envoy if he was perfectly ready to carry into effect
the proposition of the preceding night? The Envoy replied, 'Why
not?' My attention was then called off by an old Affghan
acquaintance of mine, formerly chief of the Cabul police, by
name Gholam Moyun-ood-deen. I rose from my recumbent posture,
and stood apart with him conversing. I afterwards remembered
that my friend betrayed much anxiety as to where my pistols
were, and why I did not carry them on my person. I answered,
that although I wore my sword for form, it was not necessary to
be armed _cap-a-pie_. His discourse was also full of
extravagant compliments, I suppose for the purpose of lulling
me to sleep. At length my attention was called off from what he
was saying, by observing that a number of men, armed to the
teeth, had gradually approached to the scene of conference, and
were drawing round in a sort of circle. This Lawrence and
myself pointed out to some of the chief men, who affected at
first to drive them off with whips; but Mahomed Akber observed,
that it was of no consequence, as they were in the secret. I
again resumed my conversation with Gholam Moyun-ood-deen, when
suddenly I heard Mahomed Akber call out, 'Begeer, begeer,'
(seize! seize!) and, turning round, I saw him grasp the Envoy's
left hand, with an expression in his face of the most
diabolical ferocity. I think it was Sultan Jan who laid hold of
the Envoy's right hand. They dragged him in a stooping posture
down the hillock; the only words I heard poor Sir William utter
being, 'Az barae Khooda' (for God's sake!) I saw his face,
however, and it was full of horror and astonishment. I did not
see what became of Trevor, but Lawrence was dragged past me by
several Affghans, whom I saw wrest his weapons from him. Up to
this moment I was so engrossed in observing what was taking
place, that I actually was not aware that my own right arm was
mastered, that my urbane friend held a pistol to my temple, and
that I was surrounded by a circle of Ghazees, with drawn swords
and cocked juzails. Resistance was in vain, so, listening to
the exhortations of Gholam Moyun-ood-deen, which were enforced
by the whistling of divers bullets over my head, I hurried
through the snow with him to the place where his horse was
standing, being despoiled _en route_ of my sabre, and narrowly
escaping divers attempts made on my life. As I mounted behind
my captor, now my energetic defender, the crowd increased
around us, the cries of 'Kill the Kafir' became more vehement,
and, although we hurried on at a fast canter, it was with the
utmost difficulty Gholam Moyun-ood-deen, although assisted by
one or two friends or followers, could ward off and avoid the
sword-cuts aimed at me, the rascals being afraid to fire lest
they should kill my conductor. Indeed he was obliged to wheel
his horse round once, and taking off his turban, (the last
appeal a Mussulman can make,) to implore them for God's sake to
respect the life of his friend. At last, ascending a slippery
bank, the horse fell. My cap had been snatched off, and I now
received a heavy blow on the head from a bludgeon, which
fortunately did not quite deprive me of my senses. I had
sufficient sense left to shoot a-head of the fallen horse,
where my protector with another man joined me, and clasping me
in their arms, hurried me towards the wall of Mahomed Khan's
fort. How I reached the spot where Mahomed Akber was receiving
the gratulations of the multitude I know not, but I remember a
fanatic rushing on me, and twisting his hand in my collar until
I became exhausted from suffocation. I must do Mahomed Akber
the Justice to say, that, finding the Ghazees bent on my
slaughter, even after I had reached his stirrup, he drew his
sword and laid about him right manfully, for my conductor and
Meerza Baoodeen Khan were obliged to press me up against the
wall, covering me with their own bodies, and protesting that no
blow should reach me but through their persons.

"Pride, however, overcame Mahomed Akber's sense of courtesy,
when he thought I was safe, for he then turned round to me, and
repeatedly said, in a tone of triumphant derision, 'Shuma
moolk-i-ma me geered!' (_You'll_ seize my country, will
you!)--he then rode off, and I was hurried towards the gate of
the fort. Here new dangers awaited me, for Moolah Momin, fresh
from the slaughter of poor Trevor, who was killed riding close
behind me--Sultan Jan having the credit of having given him the
first sabre-cut--stood here with his followers, whom he
exhorted to slay me, setting them the example by cutting
fiercely at me himself. Fortunately a gun stood between us, but
still he would have effected his purpose, had not Mahomed Shah
Khan at that instant, with some followers, come to my
assistance. These drew their swords in my defence, the chief
himself throwing his arm round my neck, and receiving on his
shoulder a cut aimed by Moollah Momin at my head. During the
bustle I pushed forward into the fort, and was immediately
taken to a sort of dungeon, where I found Lawrence safe, but
somewhat exhausted by his hideous ride and the violence he had
sustained, although unwounded. Here the Giljye chiefs, Mahomed
Shah Khan, and his brother Dost Mahomed Khan, presently joined
us, and endeavoured to cheer up our flagging spirits, assuring
us that the Envoy and Trevor were not dead, but on the contrary
quite well. They stayed with us during the afternoon, their
presence being absolutely necessary for our protection. Many
attempts were made by the fanatics to force the door to
accomplish our destruction. Others spit at us and abused us
through a small window, through which one fellow levelled a
blunderbuss at us, which was struck up by our keepers and
himself thrust back. At last Ameenoollah made his appearance,
and threatened us with instant death. Some of his people most
officiously advanced to make good his word, until pushed back
by the Giljye chiefs, who remonstrated with this iniquitous old
monster, their master, whom they persuaded to relieve us from
his hateful presence. During the afternoon, a human hand was
held up in mockery to us at the window. We said that it had
belonged to an European, but were not aware at the time that it
was actually the hand of the poor Envoy. Of all the Mahomedans
assembled in the room discussing the events of the day, one
only, an old moollah, openly and fearlessly condemned the acts
of his brethren, declaring that the treachery was abominable,
and a disgrace to Islam. At night they brought us food, and
gave us each a postheen to sleep on. At midnight we were
awakened to go to the house of Mahomed Akber in the city.
Mahomed Shah Khan then, with the meanness common to all
Affghans of rank, robbed Lawrence of his watch, while his
brother did me a similar favour. I had been plundered of my
rings and every thing else previously, by the understrappers.

"Reaching Mahomed Akber's abode, we were shown into the room
where he lay in bed. He received us with great outward show of
courtesy, assuring us of the welfare of the Envoy and Trevor,
but there was a constraint in his manner for which I could not
account. We were shortly taken to another apartment, where we
found Skinner, who had returned, being on parole, early in the
morning. Doubt and gloom marked our meeting, and the latter was
fearfully deepened by the intelligence which we now received
from our fellow-captive of the base murder of Sir William and
Trevor. He informed us that the head of the former had been
carried about the city in triumph. We of course spent a
miserable night. The next day we were taken under a strong
guard to the house of Zuman Khan, where a council of the Khans
were being held. Here we found Captains Conolly and Airey, who
had some days previously been sent to the hurwah's house as
hostage for the performance of certain parts of the treaty
which was to have been entered into. A violent discussion took
place, in which Mahomed Akber bore the most prominent part. We
were vehemently accused of treachery, and every thing that was
bad, and told that the whole of the transactions of the night
previous had been a trick of Mahomed Akber, and Ameenoollah, to
ascertain the Envoy's sincerity. They declared that they would
now grant us no terms, save on the surrender of the whole of
the married families as hostages, all the guns, ammunition, and
treasure. At this time Conolly told me that on the preceding
day the Envoy's head had been paraded about in the court-yard;
that his and Trevor's bodies had been hung up in the public
bazar, or _chouk_; and that it was with the greatest difficulty
that the old hurwah, Zuman Khan, had saved him and Airey from
being murdered by a body of fanatics, who had attempted to rush
into the room where they were. Also, that previous to the
arrival of Lawrence, Skinner, and myself, Mahomed Akber had
been relating the events of the preceding day to the _Jeerga_
or council, and that he had unguardedly avowed having, while
endeavouring to force the Envoy either to mount on horseback or
to move more quickly, _struck_ him; and that, seeing Conolly's
eyes fastened upon him with an expression of intense
indignation, he had altered the phrase and said, 'I mean I
_pushed_ him.' After an immense deal of gabble, a proposal for
a renewal of the treaty, not, however, demanding all the guns,
was determined to be sent to the cantonments, and Skinner,
Lawrence, and myself were marched back to Akber's house,
enduring _en route_ all manner of threats and insults. Here we
were closely confined in an inner apartment, which was indeed
necessary for our safety. That evening we received a visit from
Mahomed Akber, Sultan Jan, and several other Affghans. Mahomed
Akber exhibited his double-barrelled pistols to us, which he
had worn the previous day, requesting us to put their locks to
rights, something being amiss. _Two of the barrels had been
recently discharged_, which he endeavoured in a most confused
way to account for by saying, that he had been charged by a
havildar of the escort, and had fired both barrels at him. Now
all the escort had run away without even attempting to charge,
the only man who advanced to the rescue having been a Hindoo
Jemadar of Chuprassies, who was instantly cut to pieces by the
assembled Ghazees. This defence he made without any accusation
on our part, betraying the anxiety of a liar to be believed. On
the 26th, Captain Lawrence was taken to the house of
Ameenoollah, whence he did not return to us. Captain Skinner
and myself remained in Akber's house until the 30th. During
this time we were civilly treated, and conversed with numbers
of Affghan gentlemen who came to visit us. Some of them
asserted that the Envoy had been murdered by the unruly
soldiery. Others could not deny that Akber himself was the
assassin. For two or three days we had a fellow-prisoner in
poor Sirwar Khan, who had been deceived throughout the whole
matter, and out of whom they were then endeavouring to screw
money. He, of course, was aware from his countrymen, that not
only had Akber committed the murder, but that he protested to
the Ghazees that he gloried in the deed. On one occasion a
moonshee of Major Pottinger, who had escaped from Charekhar,
named Mohun Beer, came direct from the presence of Mahomed
Akber to visit us. He told us that Mahomed Akber had begun to
see the impolicy of having murdered the Envoy, which fact he
had just avowed to him, shedding many tears, either of
pretended remorse or of real vexation at having committed
himself. On several occasions Mahomed Akber personally, and by
deputy, besought Skinner and myself to give him advice as to
how he was to extricate himself from the dilemma in which he
was placed, more than once endeavouring to excuse himself for
not having effectually protected the Envoy, by saying that Sir
William had drawn a sword-stick upon him. It seems that
meanwhile the renewed negotiations with Major Pottinger, who
had assumed the Envoy's place in cantonments, had been brought
to a head; for on the night of the 30th, Akber furnished me
with an Affghan dress, (Skinner already wore one,) and sent us
both back to cantonments. Several Affghans, with whom I fell in
afterwards, protested to me that they had seen Mahomed Akber
shoot the Envoy with his own hand; amongst them Meerza Baoodeen
Khan, who, being an old acquaintance, always retained a
sneaking kindness for the English.

"I am, my dear Eyre, yours very truly,


"Cabul, 29th July, 1842."

The negotiations were now renewed by Major Pottinger, who had been
requested by General Elphinstone to assume the unenviable office of
political agent and adviser.

"The additional clauses in the treaty now proposed for our
renewed acceptance were--1st. That we should leave behind our
guns, excepting six. 2nd. That we should immediately give up
all our treasures. 3d. That the hostages should be all
exchanged for married men, with their wives and families. The
difficulties of Major Pottinger's position will be readily
perceived, when it is borne in mind that he had before him the
most conclusive evidence of the late Envoy's ill-advised
intrigue with Mahomed Akber Khan, in direct violation of that
very treaty which was now once more tendered for

A sum of fourteen lacs of rupees, about L.140,000, was also demanded,
which was said to be payable to the several chiefs on the promise of the
late Envoy.

Major Pottinger, at a council of war convened by the General, "declared
his conviction that no confidence could be placed in any treaty formed
with the Affghan chiefs; that, under such circumstances, to bind the
hands of the Government by promising to evacuate the country, and to
restore the deposed Ameer, and to waste, moreover, so much public money
merely to save our own lives and property, would be inconsistent with
the duty we owed to our country and the Government we served; and that
the only honourable course would be, either to hold out at Cabul, or to
force our immediate retreat to Jellalabad."

"This however, the officers composing the council, one and all declared
to be impracticable, owing to the want of provisions, the surrender of
the surrounding forts, and the insuperable difficulties of the road at
the present season." The new treaty was therefore, forthwith accepted.
The demand of the chiefs, that married officers with their families
should be left as hostages, was successfully resisted. Captains
Drummond, Walsh, Warburton, and Webb, were accepted in their place, and
on the 29th went to join Captains Conolly and Airey at the house of
Nuwab Zuman Khan. Lieutenant Haughton and a portion of the sick and
wounded, were sent into the city, and placed under the protection of the
chiefs. "Three of the Shah's guns, with the greater portion of our
treasure, were made over during the day, much to the evident disgust of
the soldiery." On the following day, "the remainder of the sick went
into the city, Lieutenant Evans, H.M. 44th foot, being placed in
command, and Dr Campbell, 54th native infantry, with Dr Berwick of the
mission, in medical charge of the whole. Two more of the Shah's guns
were given up. It snowed hard the whole day."

"_January_ 5.--Affairs continued in the same unsettled state to this
date. The chiefs postponed our departure from day to day on various
pretexts.... Numerous cautions were received from various well-wishers,
to place no confidence in the professions of the chiefs, who had sworn
together to accomplish our entire destruction."

It is not our intention to offer any lengthened comments on these
details. They require none. The facts, if they be correctly stated,
speak for themselves; and, for reasons already referred to, we are
unwilling to anticipate the result of the judicial investigation now
understood to be in progress. This much, however, we may be permitted to
say, that the traces of fatal disunion amongst ourselves will, we fear,
be made every where apparent. It is notorious that Sir William
Macnaghten and Sir Alexander Burnes were on terms the reverse of
cordial. The Envoy had no confidence in the General. The General was
disgusted with the authority the Envoy had assumed, even in matters
exclusively military--and, debilitated by disease, was unable always to
assert his authority even in his own family. The arrival of General
Shelton in the cantonments does not appear to have tended to restore
harmony, cordiality, or confidence, or even to have revived the drooping
courage of the troops, or to have renovated the feelings of obedience,
and given effect to the bonds of discipline, which had been too much
relaxed. But, even after admitting all these things, much more still
remains to be explained before we can account for all that has
happened--before we can understand how the political authorities came to
reject every evidence of approaching danger, and therefore to be quite
unprepared for it when it came. Why no effort was made on the first day
to put down the insurrection: Why, in the arrangements for the defence
of the cantonments, the commisariat fort was neglected, and the other
forts neither occupied nor destroyed: Why almost every detachment that
was sent out was too small to effect its object: Why, with a force of
nearly six thousand men, we should never on any one occasion have had
two thousand in the field, and, as in the action at Beymaroo, only one
gun: Why so many orders appear to have been disregarded; why so few were
punctually obeyed.

"At last the fatal morning dawned (the 6th January) which was
to witness the departure of the Cabul force from the
cantonments in which it had endured a two months' siege.

* * * * *

"Dreary indeed was the scene over which, with drooping spirits
and dismal forebodings, we had to bend our unwilling steps.
Deep snow covered every inch of mountain and plain with one
unspotted sheet of dazzling whiteness; and so intensely bitter
was the cold, as to penetrate and defy the defences of the
warmest clothing."

Encumbered with baggage, crowded with 12,000 camp-followers, and
accompanied by many helpless women and children, of all ranks and of all
ages--with misery before, and death behind, and treachery all around
them--with little hope of successful resistance if attacked, without
tents enough to cover them, and without food or fuel for the march, 4500
fighting men, with nine guns, set out on this march of death.

At 9 A.M. the advance moved out, but was delayed for upwards of an hour
at the river, having found the temporary bridge incomplete; and it was
noon ere the road was clear for the main column, which, with its long
train of loaded camels, continued to pour out of the gate until the
evening, by which time thousands of Affghans thronged the area of the
cantonment rending the air with exulting cries, and committing every
kind of atrocity. Before the rearguard commenced its march it was night;
but by the light of the burning buildings the Affghan marksmen laid
Lieut. Hardyman, and fifty rank and file, lifeless on the snow. The
order of march was soon lost; scores of sepoys and camp-followers sat
down in despair to perish, and it was 2 A.M. before the rearguard
reached the camp at Bygram, a distance of five miles. Here all was
confusion; different regiments, with baggage, camp-followers, camels,
and horses, mixed up together. The cold towards morning became more
intense, and thousands were lying on the bare snow, without shelter,
fire, or food. Several died during the night, amongst whom was an
European conductor; and the proportion of those who escaped without
frostbites was small. Yet this was but the _beginning_ of sorrows.

_January 7th_.--At 8 A.M. the force moved on in the same inextricable
confusion. Already nearly half the sepoys, from sheer inability to keep
their ranks, had joined the crowd of non-combatants. The rearguard was
attacked, and much baggage lost, and one of the guns having been
overturned, was taken by the Affghans, whose cavalry charged into the
very heart of the column.

Akber Khan said, that the force had been attacked because it had marched
contrary to the wish of the chiefs. He insisted that it should halt, and
promised to supply food, forage, and fuel for the troops, but demanded
six more hostages, which were given. These terms having been agreed to,
the firing ceased for the present, and the army encamped at Bootkhak,
where the confusion was indescribable. "Night again," says Lieutenant
Eyre, "closed over us, with its attendant horrors--starvation, cold,
exhaustion, death."

At an early hour on the 8th the Affghans commenced firing into the camp;
and as they collected in considerable numbers, Major Thain led the 44th
to attack them. In this business the regiment behaved with a resolution
and gallantry worthy of British soldiers. Again Akber Khan demanded
hostages. Again they were given, and again the firing ceased. This seems
to prove that Akber Khan had the power, if he had chosen to exert it, to
restrain those tribes. Once more the living mass of men and animals was
put in motion. The frost had so crippled the hands and feet of the
strongest men, as to prostrate their powers and to incapacitate them for

The Khoord-Cabul pass, which they were about to enter, is about five
miles long, shut in by lofty hills, and by precipices of 500 or 600 feet
in height, whose summits approach one another in some parts to within
about fifty or sixty yards. Down the centre dashed a torrent, bordered
with ice, which was crossed about eight-and-twenty times.

While in this dark and narrow gorge, a hot fire was opened upon the
advance, with whom were several ladies, who, seeing no other chance of
safety, galloped forwards, "running the gauntlet of the enemy's bullets,
which whizzed in hundreds about their ears, until they were fairly out
of the pass. Providentially the whole escaped, except Lady Sale, who was
slightly wounded in the arm." Several of Akber Khan's chief adherents
exerted themselves in vain to restrain the Giljyes; and as the crowd
moved onward into the thickest of the fire, the slaughter was fearful.
Another horse-artillery gun was abandoned, and the whole of its
artillerymen slain, and some of the children of the officers became
prisoners. It is supposed that 3000 souls perished in the pass, amongst
whom were many officers.

"On the force reaching Khoord-Cabul, snow began to fall, and
continued till morning. Only four small tents were saved, of
which one belonged to the General: two were devoted to the
ladies and children, and one was given up to the sick; but an
immense number of poor wounded wretches wandered about the camp
destitute of shelter, and perished during the night. Groans of
misery and distress assailed the ear from all quarters. We had
ascended to a still colder climate than we had left behind, and
we were without tents, fuel, or food: the snow was the only bed
for all, and of many, ere morning, it proved the
_winding-sheet_. It is only marvellous that any should have
survived that fearful night!

"_January 9th_.--Another morning dawned, awakening thousands to
increased misery; and many a wretched survivor cast looks of
envy at his comrades, who lay stretched beside him in the
quiet sleep of death. Daylight was the signal for a renewal of
that confusion which attended every movement of the force."

Many of the troops and followers moved without orders at 8 A.M., but
were recalled by the General, in consequence of an arrangement with
Akber Khan. "This delay, and prolongation of their sufferings in the
snow, of which one more march would have carried them clear, made a very
unfavourable impression on the minds of the native soldiery, who now,
for the first time, began very generally to entertain the idea of
deserting." And it is not to be wondered at, that the instinct of
self-preservation should have led them to falter in their fealty when
the condition of the whole army had become utterly hopeless.

Akber Khan now proposed that the ladies and children should be made over
to his care; and, anxious to save them further suffering, the General
gave his consent to the arrangement, permitting their husbands and the
wounded officers to accompany them.

"Up to this time scarcely one of the ladies had tasted a meal
since leaving Cabul. Some had infants a few days old at the
breast, and were unable to stand without assistance. Others
were so far advanced in pregnancy, that, under ordinary
circumstances, a walk across a drawing-room would have been an
exertion; yet these helpless women, with their young families,
had already been obliged to rough it on the backs of camels,
and on the tops of the baggage yaboos: those who had a horse to
ride, or were capable of sitting on one, were considered
fortunate indeed. Most had been without shelter since quitting
the cantonment--their servants had nearly all deserted or been
killed--and, with the exception of Lady Macnaghten and Mrs
Trevor, they had lost all their baggage, having nothing in the
world left but the clothes on their backs; _those_, in the case
of some of the invalids, consisted of _night dresses_ in which
they had started from Cabul in their litters. Under such
circumstances, a few more hours would probably have seen some
of them stiffening corpses. The offer of Mahomed Akber was
consequently their only chance of preservation. The husbands,
better clothed and hardy, would have infinitely preferred
taking their chance with the troops; but where is the man who
would prefer his own safety, when he thought he could by his
presence assist and console those near and dear to him?

"It is not, therefore, wonderful, that from persons so
circumstanced the General's proposal should have met with
little opposition, although it was a matter of serious doubt
whether the whole were not rushing into the very jaws of death,
by placing themselves at the mercy of a man who had so lately
imbrued his hands in the blood of a British envoy, whom he had
lured to destruction by similar professions of peace and

Anticipating an attack, the troops paraded to repel it, and it was now
found that the 44th mustered only 100 files, and the native infantry
regiments about sixty each. "The promises of Mahomed Akber to provide
food and fuel were unfulfilled, and another night of starvation and cold
consigned more victims to a miserable death."

_January_ 10.--At break of day all was again confusion, every one
hurrying to the front, and dreading above all things to be left in the
rear. The Europeans were the only efficient men left, the Hindostanees
having suffered so severely from the frost in their hands and feet, that
few could hold a musket, much less pull a trigger. The enemy had
occupied the rocks above the gorge, and thence poured a destructive fire
upon the column as it slowly advanced. Fresh numbers fell at every
volley. The sepoys, unable to use their arms, cast them away, and, with
the followers, fled for their lives.

"The Affghans now rushed down upon their helpless and
unresisting victims sword in hand, and a general massacre took
place. The last small remnant of the native infantry regiments
were here scattered and destroyed; and the public treasure,
with all the remaining baggage, fell into the hands of the
enemy. Meanwhile, the advance, after pushing through the Tungee
with great loss, had reached Kubbur-i-Jubbar, about five miles
a-head, without more opposition. Here they halted to enable the
rear to join, but, from the few stragglers who from time to
time came up, the astounding truth was brought to light, that
of all who had that morning marched from Khoord-Cabul they were
almost the sole survivors, nearly the whole of the main and
rear columns having been cut off and destroyed. About 50
horse-artillerymen, with one twelve-pounder howitzer, 70 files
H.M.'s 44th, and 150 cavalry troopers, now composed the whole
Cabul force; but, notwithstanding the slaughter and dispersion
that had taken place, the camp-followers still formed a
considerable body."

Another remonstrance was now addressed to Akber Khan. He declared, in
reply, his inability to restrain the Giljyes. As the troops entered a
narrow defile at the foot of the Huft Kotul, they found it strewn with
the dead bodies of their companions. A destructive fire was maintained
on the troops from the heights on either side, and fresh numbers of dead
and wounded lined the course of the stream. "Brigadier Shelton commanded
the rear with a few Europeans, and but for his persevering energy and
unflinching fortitude in repelling the assailants, it is probable the
whole would have been there sacrificed." They encamped in the Tezeen
valley, having lost 12,000 men since leaving Cabul; fifteen officers had
been killed and wounded in this day's march.

After resting three hours, they marched, under cover of the darkness, at
seven P.M. Here the last gun was abandoned, and with it Dr Cardew, whose
zeal and gallantry had endeared him to the soldiers; and a little
further on Dr Duff was left on the road in a state of utter exhaustion.

"Bodies of the neighbouring tribes were by this time on the
alert, and fired at random from the heights, it being
fortunately too dark for them to aim with precision; but the
panic-stricken camp-followers now resembled a herd of startled
deer, and fluctuated backwards and forwards, _en masse_, at
every shot, blocking up the entire road, and fatally retarding
the progress of the little body of soldiers who, under
Brigadier Shelton, brought up the rear.

"At Burik-ab a heavy fire was encountered by the hindmost from
some caves near the road-side, occasioning fresh disorder,
which continued all the way to Kutter-Sung, where the advance
arrived at dawn of day, and awaited the junction of the rear,
which did not take place till 8 A.M."

_January_ 11.-- ...

"From Kutter-Sung to Jugdulluk it was one continued conflict;
Brigadier Shelton, with his brave little band in the rear,
holding overwhelming numbers in check, and literally performing
wonders. But no efforts could avail to ward off the withering
fire of juzails, which from all sides assailed the crowded
column, lining the road with bleeding carcasses. About three
P.M. the advance reached Jugdulluk, and took up its position
behind some ruined walls that crowned a height by the
road-side. To show an imposing front, the officers extended
themselves in line, and Captain Grant, assistant
adjutant-general, at the same moment received a wound in the
face. From this eminence they cheered their comrades under
Brigadier Shelton in the rear, as they still struggled their
way gallantly along every foot of ground, perseveringly
followed up by their merciless enemy, until they arrived at
their ground. But even here rest was denied them; for the
Affghans, immediately occupying two hills which commanded the
position, kept up a fire from which the walls of the enclosure
afforded but a partial shelter.

"The exhausted troops and followers now began to suffer greatly
from thirst, which they were unable to satisfy. A tempting
stream trickled near the foot of the hill, but to venture down
to it was certain death. Some snow that covered the ground was
eagerly devoured, but increased, instead of alleviating, their
sufferings. The raw flesh of three bullocks, which had
fortunately been saved, was served out to the soldiers, and
ravenously swallowed."

About half-past three Akber Khan sent for Capt. Skinner, who promptly
obeyed the call, hoping still to effect some arrangement for the
preservation of those who survived. The men now threw themselves down,
hoping for a brief repose, but the enemy poured volleys from the heights
into the enclosures in rapid succession. Captain Bygrave, with about
fifteen brave Europeans, sallied forth, determined to drive the enemy
from the heights or perish in the attempt. They succeeded; but the
enemy, who had fled before them, returned and resumed their fatal fire.
At five P.M. Captain Skinner returned with a message from Akber Khan,
requesting the presence of the General at a conference, and demanding
Brigadier Shelton and Capt. Johnson as hostages for the surrender of
Jellalabad. The troops saw the departure of these officers with despair,
feeling assured that these treacherous negotiations "were preparatory to
fresh sacrifices of blood." The General and his companions were received
with every outward token of kindness, and they were supplied with food,
but they were not permitted to return. The Sirdar put the General off
with promises; and at seven P.M. on the 12th, firing being heard, it was
ascertained that the troops, impatient of further delay, had actually
moved off. Before their departure Captain Skinner had been treacherously
shot. They had been exposed during the whole day to the fire of the
enemy--"sally after sally had been made by the Europeans, bravely led by
Major Thain, Captain Bygrave, and Lieutenants Wade and Macartney, but
again and again the enemy returned to worry and destroy. Night came, and
all further delay in such a place being useless, the whole sallied
forth, determined to pursue the route to Jellalabad at all risks."

The sick and the wounded were necessarily abandoned to their fate. For
some time the Giljyes seemed not to be on the alert; but in the defile,
at the top of the rise, further progress was obstructed by barriers
formed of prickly trees. This caused great delay, and "a terrible fire
was poured in from all quarters--a massacre even worse than that of the
Tunga Tarikee[24] commenced, the Affghans rushing in furiously upon the
pent-up crowd of troops and followers, and committing wholesale
slaughter. A miserable remnant managed to clear the barriers. Twelve
officers, amongst whom was Brigadier Anquetil, were killed. Upwards of
forty others succeeded in pushing through, about twelve of whom, being
pretty well mounted, rode on a-head of the rest with the few remaining
cavalry, intending to make the best of their way to Jellalabad."

[24] Strait of Darkness.

The country now became more open--the Europeans dispersed, in small
parties under different officers. The Giljyes were too much occupied in
plundering the dead to pursue them, but they were much delayed by the
amiable anxiety of the men to carry on their wounded comrades. The
morning of the 13th dawned as they approached Gundamuk, revealing to the
enemy the insignificance of their numerical strength; and they were
compelled, by the vigorous assaults of the Giljyes, to take up a
defensive position on a height to the left of the road, "where they
made a resolute stand, determined to sell their lives at the dearest
possible price. At this time they could only muster about twenty
muskets." An attempt to effect an amicable arrangement terminated in a
renewal of hostilities, and "the enemy marked off man after man, and
officer after officer, with unerring aim. Parties of Affghans rushed up
at intervals to complete the work of extermination, but were as often
driven back by the still dauntless handful of invincibles. At length,
all being wounded more or less, a final onset of the enemy, sword in
hand, terminated the unequal struggle and completed the dismal tragedy."
Captain Souter, who was wounded, and three or four privates, were spared
and led away captive. Major Griffiths and Captain Blewitt, having
descended to confer with the enemy, had been previously led off. Of the
twelve officers who had gone on in advance eleven were destroyed, and Dr
Brydon alone of the whole Cabul force reached Jellalabad.

"Such was the memorable retreat of the British army from Cabul, which,
viewed in all its circumstances--in the military conduct which preceded
and brought about such a consummation, the treachery, disaster, and
suffering which accompanied it--is, perhaps, without a parallel in

* * * * *


Since the day when Lord Auckland, by his famous proclamation in October
1838, "directed the assemblage of a British force for service across the
Indus," we have never ceased to denounce the invasion and continued
occupation of Affghanistan as equally unjust and impolitic[25]--unjust,
as directed against a people whose conduct had afforded us no legitimate
grounds of hostility, and against a ruler whose only offence was, that
he had accepted[26] the proffer from another quarter of that support and
alliance which we had denied to his earnest entreaty--and impolitic, as
tending not only to plunge us into an endless succession of ruinous and
unprofitable warfare, but to rouse against us an implacable spirit of
enmity, in a nation which had hitherto shown every disposition to
cultivate amicable relations with our Anglo-Indian Government. In all
points, our anticipations have been fatally verified. After more than
two years consumed in unavailing efforts to complete the reduction of
the country, our army of occupation was at last overwhelmed by the
universal and irresistible outbreak of an indignant and fanatic
population; and the restored monarch, Shah-Shoojah, ("whose popularity
throughout Affghanistan had been proved to the Governor-general by the
strong and unanimous testimony of the best authorities") perished, as
soon as he lost the protection of foreign bayonets, by the hands of his
outraged countrymen.[27]

[25] See the articles "Persia, Affghanistan, and India," in
Jan. 1839--"Khiva, Central Asia, and Cabul," in April
1840--"Results of our Affghan Conquests," in Aug.
1841--"Affghanistan and India," in July 1842.

[26] It now seems even doubtful whether the famous letter of
Dost Mohammed to the Emperor of Russia, which constituted the
_gravamen_ of the charge against him, was ever really written,
or at least with his concurrence.--_Vide_ "Report of the
Colonial Society on the Affghan War," p. 35.

[27] The particulars of Shah-Shoojah's fate, which were unknown
when we last referred to the subject, have been since
ascertained. After the retreat of the English from Cabul, he
remained for some time secluded in the Bala-Hissar, observing
great caution in his intercourse with the insurgent leaders;
but he was at length prevailed upon, by assurances of loyalty
and fidelity, (about the middle of April,) to quit the
fortress, in order to head an army against Jellalabad. He had
only proceeded, however, a short distance from the city, when
his litter was fired upon by a party of musketeers placed in
ambush by a Doorauni chief named Soojah-ed-Dowlah; and the king
was shot dead on the spot. Such was the ultimate fate of a
prince, the vicissitudes of whose life almost exceed the
fictions of romance, and who possessed talents sufficient, in
more tranquil times, to have given _eclat_ to his reign. During
his exile at Loodiana, he composed in Persian a curious
narrative of his past adventures, a version of part of which
appears in the 30th volume of the _Asiatic Journal_.

The tottering and unsubstantial phantom of a _Doorauni kingdom_ vanished
at once and for ever--and the only remaining alternative was, (as we
stated the case in our number of last July,) "either to perpetrate a
second act of violence and national injustice, by reconquering
Affghanistan _for the vindication_ (as the phrase is) _of our military
honour_, and holding it without disguise as a province of our empire--or
to make the best of a bad bargain, by contenting ourselves with the
occupation of a few posts on the frontier, and leaving the unhappy
natives to recover, without foreign interference, from the dreadful
state of anarchy into which our irruption has thrown them." Fortunately
for British interests in the East, the latter course has been adopted.
After a succession of brilliant military triumphs, which, in the words
of Lord Ellenborough's recent proclamation, "have, in one short
campaign, avenged our late disasters upon every scene of past
misfortune," the evacuation of the country has been directed--not,
however, before a fortunate chance had procured the liberation of _all_
the prisoners who had fallen into the power of the Affghans in January
last; and ere this time, we trust, not a single British regiment remains
on the bloodstained soil of Affghanistan.

The proclamation above referred to,[28] (which we have given at length
at the conclusion of this article,) announcing these events, and
defining the line of policy in future to be pursued by the Anglo-Indian
Government, is in all respects a remarkable document. As a specimen of
frankness and plain speaking, it stands unique in the history of
diplomacy; and, accordingly, both its matter and its manner have been
made the subjects of unqualified censure by those scribes of the
Opposition press who, "content to dwell in forms for ever," have
accustomed themselves to regard the mystified protocols of Lord
Palmerston as the models of official style. The _Morning Chronicle_,
with amusing ignorance of the state of the public mind in India,
condemns the Governor-general for allowing it to become known to the
natives that the abandonment of Affghanistan was in consequence of a
change of policy! conceiving (we suppose) that our Indian subjects would
otherwise have believed the Cabul disasters to have formed part of the
original plan of the war, and to have veiled some purpose of inscrutable
wisdom; while the _Globe_, (Dec. 3,) after a reluctant admission that
"the policy itself of evacuating the country _may be wise_," would fain
deprive Lord Ellenborough of the credit of having originated this
decisive step, by an assertion that "we have discovered no proof that a
permanent possession of the country beyond the Indus was contemplated by
his predecessor." It would certainly have been somewhat premature in
Lord Auckland to have announced his ultimate intentions on this point
while the country in question was as yet but imperfectly subjugated, or
when our troops were subsequently almost driven out of it; but the views
of the then home Government, from which it is to be presumed that Lord
Auckland received his instructions, were pretty clearly revealed in the
House of Commons on the 10th of August last, by one whose authority the
_Globe_, at least, will scarcely dispute--by Lord Palmerston himself.
To prevent the possibility of misconstruction, we quote the words
attributed to the late Foreign Secretary. After drawing the somewhat
unwarrantable inference, from Sir Robert Peel's statement, "that no
immediate withdrawal of our troops from Candahar and Jellalabad was
contemplated," that an order had at one time been given for the
abandonment of Affghanistan, he proceeds--"I do trust that her Majesty's
Government will not carry into effect, either immediately or at _any_
future time, the arrangement thus contemplated. It was all very well
when we were in power, and it was suited to party purposes, to run down
any thing we had done, and to represent as valueless any acquisition on
which we may have prided ourselves--it was all very well to raise an
outcry against the Affghan expedition, and to undervalue the great
advantages which the possession of the country was calculated to afford
us--but I trust the Government will rise above any consideration of that
sort, and that they will give the matter their fair, dispassionate, and
deliberate consideration. I must say, I never was more convinced of any
thing in the whole course of my life--and I may be believed when I speak
my earnest conviction--that the most important interests of this
country, both commercial and political, would be sacrificed, if we were
to sacrifice the military possession of the country of Eastern
Affghanistan." Is it in the power of words to convey a clearer
admission, that the pledge embodied in Lord Auckland's manifesto--"to
withdraw the British army as soon as the independence and integrity of
Affghanistan should be secured by the establishment of the Shah"--was in
fact mere moonshine: and the real object of the expedition was the
conquest of a country advantageously situated for the defence of our
Indian frontier against (as it now appears) an imaginary invader? Thus
Napoleon, in December 1810, alleged "the necessity, in consequence of
the new order of things which has arisen, of new guarantees for the
security of my empire," as a pretext for that wholesale measure of
territorial spoliation in Northern Germany, which, from the umbrage it
gave Russia, proved ultimately the cause of his downfall: but it was
reserved for us of the present day, to hear a _British_ minister avow
and justify a violent and perfidious usurpation on the plea of political
expediency. It must indeed be admitted that, in the early stages of the
war, the utter iniquity of the measure met with but faint reprobation
from any party in the state: the nation, dazzled by the long-disused
splendours of military glory, was willing, without any very close
enquiry, to take upon trust all the assertions so confidently put forth
on the popularity of Shah-Shoojah, the hostile machinations of Dost
Mohammed, and the philanthropic and disinterested wishes of the Indian
Government for (to quote a notable phrase to which we have more than
once previously referred) "_the reconstruction of the social edifice_"
in Affghanistan. But now that all these subterfuges, flimsy as they were
at best, have been utterly dissipated by this undisguised declaration of
Lord Palmerston, that the real object of the war was to seize and hold
the country on our own account, the attempt of the _Globe_ to claim for
Lord Auckland the credit of having from the first contemplated a measure
thus vehemently protested against and disclaimed by the late official
leader of his party, is rather too barefaced to be passed over without

[28] It is singular that this proclamation was issued on the
fourth anniversary of Lord Auckland's "Declaration" of Oct. 1,
1838; and from the same place, Simla.

Without, however, occupying ourselves further in combating the attacks
of the Whig press on this proclamation, which may very well be left to
stand on its own merits, we now proceed to recapitulate the course of
the events which have, in a few months, so completely changed the aspect
of affairs beyond the Indus. When we took leave, in July last, of the
subject of the Affghan campaign, we left General Pollock, with the force
which had made its way through the Khyber Pass, still stationary at
Jellalabad, for want (as it was said) of camels and other means of
transport: while General Nott, at Candahar, not only held his ground,
but victoriously repulsed in the open field the Affghan _insurgents_,
(as it is the fashion to call them,) who were headed by the prince
Seifdar-Jung, son of Shah Shoojah! and General England, after his
repulse on the 28th of March at the Kojuck Pass, remained motionless at
Quettah. The latter officer (in consequence, as it is said, of
peremptory orders from General Nott to meet him on a given day at the
further side of the Pass) was the first to resume active operations; and
on the 28th of April, the works at Hykulzie in the Kojuck, which had
been unaccountably represented on the former occasion as most formidable
defences,[29] were carried without loss or difficulty, and the force
continued its march uninterrupted to Candahar. The fort of
Khelat-i-Ghiljie, lying about halfway between Candahar and Ghazni, was
at the sane time gallantly and successfully defended by handful of
Europeans and sepoys, till relieved by the advance of a division from
Candahar, which brought off the garrison, and razed the fortifications
of the place. Girishk, the hereditary stronghold of the Barukzye chiefs,
about eighty miles west of Candahar, was also dismantled and abandoned;
and all the troops in Western Affghanistan were thus concentrated under
the immediate command of General Nott, whose success in every encounter
with the Affghans continued to be so decisive, that all armed opposition
disappeared from the neighbourhood of Candahar; and the prince
Seifdar-Jung, despairing of the cause, of which he had perhaps been from
the first not a very willing supporter, came in and made his submission
to the British commander.

[29] "The fieldworks _believed to be described_ in the despatch
as 'consisting of a succession of breastworks, improved by a
ditch and abattis--the latter being filled with thorns,' turned
out to be a paltry stone wall, with a cut two feet deep, and of
corresponding width, to which the designation of ditch was most
grossly misapplied.... A score or two of active men might have
completed the work in a few days."--(Letter quoted in the
_Asiatic Journal_, Sept., p. 107.) On whom the blame of these
misrepresentations should be laid--whether on the officer who
reconnoitred the ground, or on the general who wrote the
despatch--does not very clearly appear: yet the political agent
at Quettah was removed from his charge, for not having given
notice of the construction in his vicinity of works which are
now proved to have had no existence!

During the progress of these triumphant operations in Western
Affghanistan, General Pollock still lay inactive at Jellalabad; and some
abortive attempts were made to negotiate with the dominant party at
Cabul for the release of the prisoners taken the preceding winter. Since
the death of Shah-Shoojah, the throne had been nominally filled by his
third son, Futteh-Jung, the only one of the princes who was on the spot;
but all the real power was vested, with the rank of vizier, in the hands
of Akhbar Khan, who had not only possessed himself of the Bala-Hissar
and the treasure of the late king, but had succeeded in recruiting the
forces of the Affghan league, by a reconciliation with Ameen-ullah
Khan,[30] the original leader of the outbreak, with whom he had formerly
been at variance. All efforts, however, to procure the liberation of the
captives, on any other condition than the liberation of Dost Mohammed,
and the evacuation of Affghanistan by the English, (as hostages for
which they had originally been given,) proved fruitless; and at length,
after more than four months' delay, during which several sharp affairs
had taken place with advanced bodies of the Affghans, General Pollock
moved forward with his whole force, on the 20th of August, against
Cabul. This city had again in the mean time become a scene of tumult and
disorder--the Kizilbashes or Persian inhabitants, as well as many of the
native chiefs, resisting the exactions of Akhbar Khan; who, at last,
irritated by the opposition to his measures, imprisoned the titular
shah, Futteh-Jung, in the Bala-Hissar; whence he succeeded after a time
in escaping, and made his appearance, in miserable plight, (Sept. 1,) at
the British headquarters at Futtehabad, between Jellalabad and
Gundamuck. The advance of the army was constantly opposed by detached
bodies of the enemy, and several spirited skirmishes took place:--till,
on the 13th of September, the main Affghan force, to the number of
16,000 men, under Akhbar Khan and other leaders, was descried on the
heights near Tazeen, (where the slaughter of our troops had taken place
in January,) at the entrance of the formidable defiles called the
Huft-Kothul, or Seven Passes. It is admitted on all hands that in this
last struggle, (as they believed, for independence,) the Affghans fought
with most distinguished gallantry, frequently charging sword in hand
upon the bayonets; but their irregular valour eventually gave way before
the discipline of their opponents, and a total rout took place. The
chiefs fled in various directions, "abandoning Cabul to the _avengers of
British wrongs_," who entered the city in triumph on the 15th, and
hoisted the British colours on the Bala-Hissar. The principal point now
remaining to be effected was the rescue of the prisoners whom Akhbar
Khan had carried off with him in his flight, with the intention (as was
rumoured) of transporting them into Turkestan; but from this peril they
were fortunately delivered by the venality of the chief to whose care
they had been temporarily intrusted; and on the 21st they all reached
the camp in safety, with the exception of Captain Bygrave, who was also
liberated, a few days later, by the voluntary act of Akhbar himself.[31]

[30] It was this chief whose betrayal or destruction Sir
William McNaghten is accused, on the authority of General
Elphinstone's correspondence, of having meditated, on the
occasion when he met with his own fate. We hope, for the honour
of the English name, that the memory of the late Resident at
Cabul may be cleared from this heavy imputation; but he
certainly cannot be acquitted of having, by his wilful
blindness and self-sufficiency, contributed to precipitate the
catastrophe to which he himself fell a victim. In proof of this
assertion, it is sufficient to refer to the tenor of his
remarks on the letter addressed to him by Sir A. Burnes on the
affairs of Cabul, August 7, 1840, which appeared some time
since in the _Bombay Times_, and afterwards in the _Asiatic
Journal_ for October and November last.

[31] The kindness and humanity which these unfortunate
_detenus_ experienced from first to last at the hands of
Akhbar, reflect the highest honour on the character of this
chief, whom it has been the fashion to hold up to execration as
a monster of perfidy and cruelty. As a contrast to this conduct
of the Affghan _barbarians_, it is worth while to refer to
Colonel Lindsay's narrative of his captivity in the dungeons of
Hyder and Tippoo, which has recently appeared in the _Asiatic
Journal_, September, December, 1842.

General Nott, meanwhile, in pursuance of his secret orders from the
Supreme Government, had been making preparations for abandoning
Candahar; and, on the 7th and 8th of August, the city was accordingly
evacuated, both by his corps and by the division of General England--the
Affghan prince, Seifdar-Jung, being left in possession of the place. The
routes of the two commanders were now separated. General England, with
an immense train of luggage, stores, &c., directed his march through the
Kojuck Pass to Quettah, which he reached with little opposition;--while
Nott, with a more lightly-equipped column, about 7000 strong, advanced
by Khelat-i-Ghiljie against Ghazni. This offensive movement appears to
have taken the Affghans at first by surprise; and it was not till he
arrived within thirty-eight miles of Ghazni that General Nott found his
progress opposed (August 30) by 12,000 men under the governor,
Shams-o-deen Khan, a cousin of Mohammed Akhbar. The dispersion of this
tumultuary array was apparently accomplished (as far as can be gathered
from the extremely laconic despatches of the General) without much
difficulty; and, on the 6th of September, after a sharp skirmish in the
environs, the British once more entered Ghazni. In the city and
neighbouring villages were found not fewer than 327 sepoys of the former
garrison, which had been massacred to a man (according to report)
immediately after the surrender; but notwithstanding this evidence of
the moderation with which the Affghans had used their triumph, General
Nott, (in obedience, as is said, to the _positive tenor of his
instructions_,) "directed the city of Ghazni, with the citadel and the
whole of its works, to be destroyed;" and this order appears, from the
engineer's report, to have been rigorously carried into effect. The mace
of Mamood Shah Ghaznevi, the first Moslem conqueror of Hindostan, and
the famous sandal-wood portals of his tomb, (once the gates of the great
Hindoo temple at Somnaut,[32]) were carried off as trophies: the ruins
of Ghazni were left as a monument of British vengeance; and General Nott,
resuming his march, and again routing Shams-o-deen Khan at the defiles
of Myden, effected his junction with General Pollock, on the 17th of
September, at Cabul; whence the united corps, together mustering 18,000
effective men, were to take the route for Hindostan through the Punjab
early in October.

[32] The value still attached by the Hindoos to these relics
was shown on the conclusion of the treaty, in 1832, between
Shah-Shoojah and Runjeet Singh, previous to the Shah's last
unaided attempt to recover his throne; in which their
restoration, in case of his success, was an express

Such have been the principal events of the brief but brilliant campaign
which has concluded the Affghan war, and which, if regarded solely in a
military point of view, must be admitted to have amply vindicated the
lustre of the British arms from the transient cloud cast on them by the
failures and disasters of last winter.

The Affghan tragedy, however, may now, we hope, be considered as
concluded, so far as related to our own participation in its crimes and
calamities; but for the Affghans themselves, "left to create a
government in the midst of anarchy," there can be at present little
chance of even comparative tranquillity, after the total dislocation of
their institutions and internal relations by the fearful torrent of war
which has swept over the country. The last atonement now in our power to
make, both to the people and the ruler whom we have so deeply injured,
as well as the best course for our own interests, would be at once to
release Dost Mohammed from the unmerited and ignominious confinement to
which he has been subjected in Hindostan, and to send him back in honour
to Cabul; where his own ancient partisans, as well as those of his son,
would quickly rally round him; and where his presence and accustomed
authority might have some effect in restraining the crowd of fierce
chiefs, who will be ready to tear each other to pieces as soon as they
are released from the presence of the _Feringhis_. There would thus be
at least a possibility of obtaining a nucleus for the re-establishment
of something like good order; while in no other quarter does there
appear much prospect of a government being formed, which might be either
"approved by the Affghans themselves," or "capable of maintaining
friendly relations with neighbouring states." If the accounts received
may be depended upon, our troops had scarcely cleared the Kojuck Pass,
on their way from Candahar to the Indus, when that city became the scene
of a contest between the Prince Seifdar-Jung and the Barukzye chiefs in
the vicinity; and though the latter are said to have been worsted in the
first instance, there can be little doubt that our departure will be the
signal for the speedy return of the quondam _Sirdars_, or rulers of
Candahar, (brothers of Dost Mohammed,) who have found an asylum in
Persia since their expulsion in 1839, but who will scarcely neglect so
favourable an opportunity for recovering their lost authority. Yet
another competitor may still, perhaps, be found in the same quarter--one
whose name, though sufficiently before the public a few years since, has
now been almost forgotten in the strife of more mighty interests. This
is Shah Kamran of Herat, the rumours of whose death or dethronement
prove to have been unfounded, and who certainly would have at this
moment a better chance than he has ever yet had, for regaining at least
Candahar and Western Affghanistan. He was said to be on the point of
making the attempt after the repulse of the Persians before Herat, just
before our adoption of Shah-Shoojah; and his title to the crown is at
least as good as that of the late Shah, or any of his sons. It will be
strange if this prince, whose danger from Persia was the original
pretext for crossing the Indus, should be the only one of all the
parties concerned, whose condition underwent no ultimate change, through
all the vicissitudes of the tempest which has raged around him.

Nor are the elements of discord less abundant and complicated on the
side of Cabul. The defeat of Tazeen will not, any more than the
preceding ones, have annihilated Akhbar Khan and his confederate
chiefs:--they are still hovering in the Kohistan, and will doubtless
lose no time in returning to Cabul as soon as the retreat of the English
is ascertained. It is true that the civil wars of the Affghans, though
frequent, have never been protracted or sanguinary:--like the
Highlanders, as described by Bailie Nicol Jarvie, "though they may
quarrel among themselves, and gie ilk ither ill names, and may be a
slash wi' a claymore, they are sure to join in the long run against a'
civilized folk:"--but it is scarcely possible that so many conflicting
interests, now that the bond of common danger is removed, can be
reconciled without strife and bloodshed. It is possible, indeed, that
Futteh-Jung (whom the last accounts state to have remained at Cabul when
our troops withdrew, in the hope of maintaining himself on the musnud,
and who is said to be the most acceptable to the Affghans of the four
sons[33] of Shah-Shoojah) may be allowed to retain for a time the title
of king; but he had no treasure and few partizans; and the rooted
distaste of the Affghans for the titles and prerogatives of royalty is
so well ascertained, that Dost Mohammed, even in the plenitude of his
power, never ventured to assume them. All speculations on these points,
however, can at present amount to nothing more than vague conjecture;
the troubled waters must have time to settle, before any thing can be
certainly prognosticated as to the future destinies of Affghanistan.

[33] The elder of these princes, Timour, who was governor of
Candahar during the reign of his father, has accompanied
General England to Hindostan, preferring, as he says, the life
of a private gentleman under British protection to the perils
of civil discord in Affghanistan. Of the second,
Mohammed-Akhbar, (whose mother is said to be sister of Dost
Mohammed,) we know nothing;--Futteh-Jung is the third, and was
intended by Shah-Shoojah for his successor;--Seifdar-Jung, now
at Candahar, is the youngest.

The kingdom of the Punjab will now become the barrier between
Affghanistan and our north-western frontier in India; and it is said
that the Sikhs, already in possession of Peshawer and the rich plain
extending to the foot of the Khyber mountains, have undertaken in future
to occupy the important defiles of this range, and the fort of
Ali-Musjid, so as to keep the Affghans within bounds. It seems to us
doubtful, however, whether they will be able to maintain themselves
long, unaided, in this perilous advanced post: though the national
animosity which subsists between them and the Affghans is a sufficient
pledge of their good-will for the service--and their co-operation in the
late campaign against Cabul has been rendered with a zeal and
promptitude affording a strong contrast to their lukewarmness at the
beginning of the war, when they conceived its object to be the
re-establishment of the monarchy and national unity of their inveterate
foes. But the vigour of the Sikh kingdom, and the discipline and
efficiency of their troops, have greatly declined in the hands of the
present sovereign, Shere Singh, who, though a frank and gallant soldier,
has little genius for civil government, and is thwarted and overborne in
his measures by the overweening power of the minister, Rajah Dhian
Singh, who originally rose to eminence by the favour of Runjeet. At
present, our information as to the state of politics in the Punjab is
not very explicit, the intelligence from India during several months,
having been almost wholly engrossed by the details of the campaign in
Affghanistan; but as far as can be gathered from these statements, the
country has been brought, by the insubordination of the troops, and the
disputes of the Maharajah and his Minister, to a state not far removed
from anarchy. It is said that the fortress of Govindghur, where the vast
treasures amassed by Runjeet are deposited, has been taken possession
of by the malecontent faction, and that Shere Singh has applied for the
assistance of our troops to recover it; and the _Delhi Gazette_ even
goes so far as to assert that this prince, "disgusted with the perpetual
turmoil in which he is embroiled, and feeling his incapacity of ruling
his turbulent chieftains, is willing to cede his country to us, and
become a pensioner of our Government." But this announcement, though
confidently given, we believe to be at least premature. That the Punjab
must inevitably, sooner or later, become part of the Anglo-Indian
empire, either as a subsidiary power, like the Nizam, or directly, as a
province, no one can doubt; but its incorporation at this moment, in the
teeth of our late declaration against any further extension of
territory, and at the time when the Sikhs are zealously fulfilling their
engagements as our allies, would be both injudicious and unpopular in
the highest degree. An interview, however, is reported to have been
arranged between Lord Ellenborough and Shere Singh, which is to take
place in the course of the ensuing summer, and at which some definitive
arrangements will probably be entered into, on the future political
relations of the two Governments.[34]

[34] The war in Tibet, to which we alluded in July last,
between the followers of the Sikh chief Zorawur Singh and the
Chinese, is still in progress--and the latter are said to be on
the point of following up their successes by an invasion of
Cashmeer. As we are now at peace with the Celestial Empire, our
mediation may be made available to terminate the contest.

The only permanent accession of territory, then, which will result from
the Affghan war, will consist in the extension of our frontier along the
whole course of the Sutlej and Lower Indus--"the limits which nature
appears to have assigned to the Indian empire"--and in the altered
relations with some of the native states consequent on these
arrangements. As far as Loodeana, indeed, our frontier on the Sutlej has
long been well established, and defined by our recognition of the Sikh
kingdom on the opposite bank;--but the possessions of the chief of
Bhawulpoor, extending on the left bank nearly from Loodeana to the
confluence of the Sutlej with the Indus, have hitherto been almost
exempt from British interference;[35] as have also the petty Rajpoot
states of Bikaneer, Jesulmeer, &c., which form oases in the desert
intervening between Scinde and the provinces more immediately under
British control. These, it is to be presumed, will now be summarily
taken under the _protection_ of the Anglo-Indian Government:--but more
difficulty will probably be experienced with the fierce and imperfectly
subdued tribes of Scindians and Belooches, inhabiting the lower valley
of the Indus;--and, in order to protect the commerce of the river, and
maintain the undisputed command of its course, it will be necessary to
retain a sufficient extent of vantage-ground on the further bank, and to
keep up in the country an amount of force adequate to the effectual
coercion of these predatory races. For this purpose, a _place d'armes_
has been judiciously established at Sukkur, a town which, communicating
with the fort of Bukkur on an island of the Indus, and with Roree on the
opposite bank, effectually secures the passage of the river; and the
ports of Kurrachee and Sonmeani on the coast, the future marts of the
commerce of the Indus, have also been garrisoned by British troops.

[35] Bhawulpoor is so far under British protection, that it was
saved from the arms of the Sikhs by the treaty with Runjeet
Singh, which confined him to the other bank of the Sutlej; but
it has never paid allegiance to the British Government. Its
territory is of considerable extent, stretching nearly 300
miles along the river, by 100 miles average breadth; but great
part of the surface consists of sandy desert.

It has long since been evident[36] that Scinde, by that _principle of
unavoidable expansion_ to which we had so often had occasion to refer,
must eventually have been absorbed into the dominions of the Company;
but the process by which it at last came into our hands is so curious a
specimen of our Bonapartean method of dealing with reluctant or
refractory neutrals, that we cannot pass it altogether without notice.
Scinde, as well as Beloochistan, had formed part of the extensive empire
subdued by Ahmed Shah, the founder of the Doorani monarchy; but in the
reign of his indolent son Timour, the Affghan yoke was shaken off by the
_Ameers_, or chiefs of the Belooch family of Talpoor, who, fixing their
residences respectively at Hydrabad, Meerpoor, and Khyrpoor, defied all
the efforts of the kings of Cabul to reduce them to submission, though
they more than once averted an invasion by the promise of tribute. It
has been rumoured that Shah-Shoojah, during his long exile, made
repeated overtures to the Cabinet of Calcutta for the cession of his
dormant claims to the _suzerainte_ of Scinde, in exchange for an
equivalent, either pecuniary or territorial; but the representations of
a fugitive prince, who proposed to cede what was not in his possession,
were disregarded by the rulers of India; and even in the famous
manifesto preceding the invasion of Affghanistan, Lord Auckland
announced, that "a guaranteed independence, on favourable conditions,
would be tendered to the Ameers of Scinde." On the appearance of our
army on the border, however, the Ameers demurred, not very unreasonably,
to the passage of this formidable host; and considerable delay ensued,
from the imperfect information possessed by the British commanders of
the amount of resistance to be expected; but at last the country and
fortress were forcibly occupied; the seaport of Kurrachee (where alone
any armed opposition was attempted) was bombarded and captured by our
ships of war; and a treaty was imposed at the point of the bayonet on
the Scindian rulers, by virtue of which they paid a contribution of
twenty-seven laks of rupees (nearly L300,000) to the expenses of the
war, under the name of arrears of tribute to Shah-Shoojah,
acknowledging, at the same time, the supremacy, _not of Shah-Shoojah_,
but of the English Government! The tolls on the Indus were also
abolished, and the navigation of the river placed, by a special
stipulation, wholly under the control of British functionaries. Since
this summary procedure, our predominance in Scinde has been undisturbed,
unless by occasional local commotions; but the last advices state that
the whole country is now "in an insurrectionary state;" and it is fully
expected that an attempt will erelong be made to follow the example of
the Affghans, and get rid of the intrusive _Feringhis_; in which case,
as the same accounts inform us, "the Ameers will be sent as
state-prisoners to Benares, and the territory placed wholly under
British administration."

[36] So well were the Scindians aware of this, that Burnes,
when ascending the Indus, on his way to Lahore in 1831,
frequently heard it remarked, "Scinde is now gone, since the
English have seen the river, which is the road to its

But whatever may be thought of the strict legality of the conveyance, in
virtue of which Scinde has been converted into an integral part of our
Eastern empire, its geographical position, as well as its natural
products, will render it a most valuable acquisition, both in a
commercial and political point of view. At the beginning of the present
century, the East-India Company had a factory at Tatta, (the Pattala of
the ancients,) the former capital of Scinde, immediately above the Delta
of the Indus; but their agents were withdrawn during the anarchy which
preceded the disruption of the Doorani monarchy. From that period till
the late occurrences, all the commercial intercourse with British India
was maintained either by land-carriage from Cutch, by which mode of
conveyance the opium of Malwa and Marwar (vast quantities of which are
exported in this direction) chiefly found its way into Scinde and
Beloochistan; or by country vessels of a peculiar build, with a
disproportionately lofty poop, and an elongated bow instead of a
bowsprit, which carried on an uncertain and desultory traffic with
Bombay and some of the Malabar ports. To avoid the dangerous sandbanks
at the mouths of the Indus, as well as the intricate navigation through
the winding streams of the Delta, (the course of which, as in the
Mississippi, changes with every inundation,) they usually discharged
their cargoes at Kurrachee, whence they were transported sixty miles
overland to Tatta, and there embarked in flat-bottomed boats on the main
stream. The port of Kurrachee, fourteen miles N.W. from the Pittee, or
western mouth of the Indus, and Sonmeani, lying in a deep bay in the
territory of Lus, between forty and fifty miles further in the same
direction, are the only harbours of import in the long sea-coast of
Beloochistan; and the possession of them gives the British the undivided
command of a trade which, in spite of the late disasters, already
promises to become considerable; while the interposition of the now
friendly state of Khelat[37] between the coast and the perturbed tribes
of Affghanistan, will secure the merchandise landed here a free passage
into the interior. The trade with these ports deserves, indeed, all the
fostering care of the Indian Government; since they must inevitably be,
at least for some years to come, the only inlet for Indian produce into
Beloochistan, Cabul, and the wide regions of Central Asia beyond them.
The overland carrying trade through Scinde and the Punjab, in which
(according to M. Masson) not less than 6500 camels were annually
employed, has been almost annihilated--not only by the confusion arising
from the war, but from the absolute want of means of transport, from the
unprecedented destruction of the camels occasioned by the exigencies of
the commissariat, &c. The rocky defiles of Affghanistan were heaped with
the carcasses of these indispensable animals, 50,000 of which (as is
proved by the official returns) perished in this manner in the course of
three years; and some years must necessarily elapse before the chasm
thus made in the numbers of the species throughout North-western India
can be supplied. The immense expenditure of the Army of Occupation, at
the same time, brought such an influx of specie into Affghanistan, as
had never been known since the sack of Delhi by Ahmed Shah
Doorani--while the traffic with India being at a stand-still for the
reasons we have just given, the superfluity of capital thus produced was
driven to find an outlet in the northern markets of Bokhara and
Turkestan. The consequence of this has been, that Russian manufactures
to an enormous amount have been poured into these regions, by way of
Astrakhan and the Caspian, to meet this increasing demand; and the value
of Russian commerce with Central Asia, which (as we pointed out in April
1840, p. 522) had for many years been progressively declining, was
doubled during 1840 and 1841, (_Bombay Times_, April 2, 1842,) and is
believed to be still on the increase! The opening of the navigation of
the Indus, with the exertions of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce to
establish depots on its course, and to facilitate the transmission of
goods into the surrounding countries, has already done much for the
restoration of traffic in this direction, in spite of the efforts of the
Russian agents in the north to keep possession of the opening thus
unexpectedly afforded them; but it cannot be denied that the "great
enlargement of our field of commerce," so confidently prognosticated by
Lord Palmerston, from "the great operations undertaken in the countries
lying west of the Indus," has run a heavy risk of being permanently
diverted into other channels, by the operation of the causes detailed

[37] Khelat (more properly Khelat-i-Nussear Khan, "the citadel
of Nussear Khan," by whom it was strongly fortified in 1750,)
is the principal city and fortress of the Brahooes or Eastern
Baloochee, and the residence of their chief. It had never been
taken by any of the Affghan kings, and had even opposed a
successful resistance to the arms of Ahmed Shah;--but on
November 13, 1839, it was stormed by an Anglo-Indian force
under General Wiltshire, and the Khan Mihrab was slain sword in
hand, gallantly fighting to the last at the entrance of his
zenana. The place, however, was soon after surprised and
recaptured by the son of the fallen chief, Nussear Khan, who,
though again expelled, continued to maintain himself with a few
followers in the mountains, and at last effected an
accommodation with the British, and was replaced on the musnud.
He has since fulfilled his engagements to us with exemplary
fidelity; and as his fears of compulsory vassalage to the
nominally restored Affghan monarchy are now at an end, he
appears likely to afford a solitary instance of a trans-Indian
chief converted into a firm friend and ally.

Before we finally dismiss the subject of the Affghan war and its
consequences, we cannot overlook one feature in the termination of the
contest, which is of the highest importance, as indicating a return to a
better system than that miserable course of reduction and parsimony,
which, for some years past, has slowly but surely been alienating the
attachment, and breaking down the military spirit, of our native army.
We refer to the distribution, by order of Lord Ellenborough, of badges
of honorary distinction, as well as of more substantial rewards, in the
form of augmented allowances,[38] &c., to the sepoy corps which have
borne the brunt of the late severe campaign. Right well have these
honours and gratuities been merited; nor could any measure have been
better timed to strengthen in the hearts of the sepoys the bonds of the
_Feringhi salt_, to which they have so long proved faithful. The policy,
as well as the justice, of holding out every inducement which may rivet
the attachment of the native troops to our service, obvious as it must
appear, has in truth been of late too much neglected;[39] and it has
become at this juncture doubly imperative, both from the severe and
unpopular duty in which a considerable portion of the troops have
recently been engaged, and from the widely-spread disaffection which has
lately manifested itself in various quarters among the native
population. We predicted in July, as the probable consequence of our
reverses in Affghanistan, some open manifestation of the spirit of
revolt constantly smouldering among the various races of our subjects in
India, but the prophecy had already been anticipated by the event. The
first overt resistance to authority appeared in Bhundelkund, a wild and
imperfectly subjugated province in the centre of Hindostan, inhabited by
a fierce people called Bhoondelahs. An insurrection, in which nearly all
the native chiefs are believed to be implicated, broke out here early
in April; and a desultory and harassing warfare has since been carried
on in the midst of the almost impenetrable jungles and ravines which
overspread the district. The Nawab of Banda and the Bhoondee Rajah, a
Moslem and a Hindoo prince, respectively of some note in the
neighbourhood of the disturbed tracts, have been placed under
surveillance at Allahabad as the secret instigators of these movements,
"which," (says the _Agra Ukhbar_) "appear to have been regularly
organized all over India, the first intimation of which was the Nawab of
Kurnool's affair"--whose deposition we noticed in July. The valley of
Berar, also, in the vicinity of the Nizam's frontier, has been the scene
of several encounters between our troops and irregular bands of
insurgents; and the restless Arab mercenaries in the Dekkan are still in
arms, ready to take service with any native ruler who chooses to employ
them against the _Feringhis_. In the northern provinces, the aspect of
affairs is equally unfavourable. The Rohillas, the most warlike and
nationally-united race of Moslems in India, have shown alarming symptoms
of a refractory temper, fomented (as it has been reported) by the
disbanded troopers of the 2d Bengal cavalry,[40] (a great proportion of
whom were Rohillas,) and by Moslem deserters from the other regiments in
Affghanistan, who have industriously magnified the amount of our
losses--a pleasing duty, in which the native press, as usual, has
zealously co-operated. One of the newspapers printed in the Persian
language at Delhi, recently assured its readers that, at the forcing of
the Khyber Pass, "six thousand Europeans fell under the sharp swords of
the Faithful"--with other veracious intelligence, calculated to produce
the belief that the campaign must inevitably end, like the preceding, in
the defeat and extermination of the whole invading force. The fruits of
these inflammatory appeals to the pride and bigotry of the Moslems, is
thus painted in a letter from Rohilcund, which we quote from that
excellent periodical the _Asiatic Journal_ for September:--"The
Mahomedans throughout Rohilcund hate us to a degree only second to what
the Affghans do, their interest in whose welfare they can scarcely
conceal.... There are hundreds of heads of tribes, all of whom would
rise to a man on what they considered a fitting opportunity, which they
are actually thirsting after. A hint from their moolahs, and the display
of the green flag, would rally around it every Mussulman. In March last,
the population made no scruple of declaring that the _Feringhi raj_
(English rule) was at an end; and some even disputed payment of the
revenue, saying it was probable they should have to pay it again to
another Government! They have given out a report that Akhbar Khan has
disbanded his army for the present, in order that his men may visit
their families; but in the cold weather, when our troops will be
weakened and unfit for action, he will return with an overwhelming
force, aided by every Mussulman as far as Ispahan, when they will
annihilate our whole force and march straight to Delhi, and ultimately
send us to our ships. The whole Mussulman population, in fact, are
filled with rejoicing and _hope_ at our late reverses."

[38] By a general order, issued from Simla October 4, all
officers and soldiers, of whatever grade, who took part in the
operations about Candahar, the defence of Khelat-i-Ghiljie, the
recapture of Ghazni or Cabul, or the forcing of the Khyber
Pass, are to receive a silver medal with appropriate
inscriptions--a similar distinction having been previously
conferred on the defenders of Jellalabad. _What is at present
the value of the Order of the Doorani Empire_, with its showy
decorations of the first, second, and third classes, the last
of which was so rightfully spurned by poor Dennie?

[39] The following remarks of the _Madras United Service
Gazette_, though intended to apply only to the Secunderabad
disturbances, deserve general attention at present:--"We
attribute the lately-diminished attachment of the sepoys for
their European officers to _a diminished inclination for the
service_, the duties whereof have of late years increased in
about the same proportion that its advantages have been
reduced. The cavalry soldier of the present day has more than
double the work to do that a trooper had forty years ago;...
and the infantry sepoy's garrison guard-work has been for years
most fatiguing at every station, from the numerical strength of
the troops being quite inadequate to the duties.... These
several unfavourable changes have gradually given the sepoy a
distaste for the service, which has been augmented by the
stagnant state of promotion, caused by the reductions in 1829,
when one-fifth of the infantry, and one-fourth of the cavalry,
native commissioned and non-commissioned officers, became
supernumerary, thus effectually closing the door of promotion
to the inferior grades for years to come. Hopeless of
advancement, the sepoy from that time became gradually less
attentive to his duties, less respectful to his superiors, as
careless of a service which no longer held out any prospect of
promotion. Still, however, the bonds of discipline were not
altogether loosened, till Lord W. Bentinck's abolition of
corporal punishment; and from the promulgation of that
ill-judged order may be dated the decided change for the worse
which has taken place in the character of the native soldiery."

[40] This corps, it will be remembered, was broken for its
misconduct in the battle of Purwan-Durrah, against Dost
Mohammed, November 2, 1840.

It may be said that we are unnecessarily multiplying instances, and that
these symptoms of local fermentation are of little individual
importance; but nothing can be misplaced which has a tendency to dispel
the universal and unaccountable error which prevails in England, as to
the _popularity of our sway in India_. The signs of the times are
tolerably significant--and the apprehensions of a coming commotion which
we expressed in July, as well as of the quarter in which it will
probably break out, are amply borne out by the language of the
best-informed publications of India. "That the seeds of discontent" says
the _Delhi Gazette_--"have been sown by the Moslems, and have partially
found root among the Hindoos, is more than conjecture"--and the
warnings of the _Agra Ukhbar_ are still more unequivocal. "Reports have
reached Agra that a general rise will erelong take place in the Dekkan.
There have already been several allusions made to a very extensive
organization among the native states[41] against the British power, the
resources of which will, no doubt, be stretched to the utmost during the
ensuing cold season. Disaffection is wide and prevalent, and when our
withdrawal from Affghanistan becomes known, it will ripen into open
insurrection. With rebellion in Central India, and famine in Northern,
Government have little time to lose in collecting their energies to meet
the crisis." The increase of means which the return of the army from
Affghanistan will place at the disposal of the Governor-General, will
doubtless do much in either overawing or suppressing these
insurrectionary demonstrations; but even in this case the snake will
have been only "scotched, not killed;" and the most practical and
effectual method of rendering such attempts hopeless for the future,
will be the replacing the Indian army on the same efficient footing, as
to numbers and composition, on which it stood before the ill-judged
measures of Lord William Bentinck. The energies of the native troops
have been heavily tasked, and their fidelity severely tried, during the
Affghan war; and though they have throughout nobly sustained the high
character which they had earned by their past achievements, the
experiment on their endurance should not be carried too far. Many of the
errors of past Indian administrations have already been remedied by Lord
Ellenborough; and we cannot refrain from the hope, that the period of
his Government will not be suffered to elapse without a return to the
old system on this point also--the vital point on which the stability of
our empire depends.

[41] The Nawab of Arcot, one of the native princes, whose
fidelity is now strongly suspected, assured the Resident, in
his reply to the official communication of the capture of
Ghazni in 1839, that from his excessive joy at the triumph of
his good friend the Company, his bulk of body had so greatly
increased that he was under the necessity of providing himself
with a new wardrobe--his garments having become too strait for
his unbounded stomach! A choice specimen of oriental bombast.

Such have been the consequences, as far as they have hitherto been
developed, to the foreign and domestic relations of our Eastern empire,
of the late memorable Affghan war. In many points, an obvious parallel
may be drawn between its commencement and progress, and that of the
invasion of Spain by Napoleon. In both cases, the territory of an
unoffending people was invaded and overrun, in the plenitude of (as was
deemed by the aggressors) irresistible power, on the pretext, in each
case, that it was necessary to anticipate an ambitious rival in the
possession of a country which might be used as a vantage ground against
us. In both cases, the usurpation was thinly veiled by the elevation of
a pageant-monarch to the throne; till the invaded people, goaded by the
repeated indignities offered to their religious and national pride, rose
_en masse_ against their oppressors at the same moment in the capital
and the provinces, and either cut them off, or drove them to the
frontier. In each case the intruders, by the arrival of reinforcements,
regained for a time their lost ground; and if our Whig rulers had
continued longer at the helm of affairs, the parallel might have become
complete throughout. The strength and resources of our Indian empire
might have been drained in the vain attempt to complete the subjugation
of a rugged and impracticable country, inhabited by a fierce and bigoted
population; and an "Affghan _ulcer_." (to use the ordinary phrase of
Napoleon himself in speaking of the Spanish war) might have corroded the
vitals, and undermined the fabric, of British domination in the East.
Fortunately, however, for our national welfare and our national
character, better counsels are at length in the ascendant. The triumphs
which have again crowned our arms, have not tempted our rulers to resume
the perfidious policy which their predecessors, in the teeth of their
own original declarations, have now openly avowed, by "retaining
military possession of the countries west of the Indus;" and the candid
acknowledgement of the error committed in the first instance, affords
security against the repetition of such acts of wanton aggression, and
for adherence to the pacific policy now laid down. The ample resources
of India have yet in a great measure to be explored and developed, and
it is impossible to foresee what results may be attained, when (in the
language of the _Bombay Times_) "wisdom guides for good and worthy ends,
that resistless energy which madness has wasted on the opposite. We now
see that, even with Affghanistan as a broken barrier, Russia dares not
move her finger against us--that with seventeen millions sterling thrown
away, we are able to recover all our mischances, if relieved from the
rulers and the system which imposed them upon us!"

* * * * *

The late proclamation of Lord Ellenborough has been so frequently
referred to in the foregoing pages, that for the sake of perspicuity we
subjoin it in full.

"Secret Department, Simla,

"Oct. 1, 1842.

"The Government of India directed its army to pass the Indus, in order
to expel from Affghanistan a chief believed to be hostile to British
interests, and to replace upon his throne a sovereign represented to be
friendly to those interests, and popular with his former subjects.

"The chief believed to be hostile became a prisoner, and the sovereign
represented to be popular was replaced upon his throne; but after events
which brought into question his fidelity to the Government by which he
was restored, he lost, by the hands of an assassin, the throne he had
only held amidst insurrections, and his death was preceded and followed
by still existing anarchy.

"Disasters, unparalleled in their extent, unless by the errors in which
they originated, and by the treachery by which they were completed, have
in one short campaign been avenged upon every scene of past misfortune;
and repeated victories in the field, and the capture of the cities and
citadels of Ghazni and Cabul, have again attached the opinion of
invincibility to the British arms.

"The British army in possession of Affghanistan will now be withdrawn to
the Sutlej.

"The Governor-General will leave it to the Affghans themselves to create
a government amidst the anarchy which is the consequence of their

"To force a sovereign upon a reluctant people, would be as inconsistent
with the policy, as it is with the principles, of the British
Government, tending to place the arms and resources of that people at
the disposal of the first invader, and to impose the burden of
supporting a sovereign without the prospect of benefit from his

"The Governor-General will willingly recognize any government approved
by the Affghans themselves, which shall appear desirous and capable of
maintaining friendly relations with neighbouring states.

"Content with the limits nature appears to have assigned to its empire,
the Government of India will devote all its efforts to the establishment
and maintenance of general peace, to the protection of the sovereigns
and chiefs its allies, and to the prosperity and happiness of its own
faithful subjects.

"The rivers of the Punjab and the Indus, and the mountainous passes and
the barbarous tribes of Affghanistan, will be placed between the British
army and an enemy from the west, if indeed such an enemy there can be,
and no longer between the army and its supplies.

"The enormous expenditure required for the support of a large force in a
false military position, at a distance from its own frontier and its
resources, will no longer arrest every measure for the improvement of
the country and of the people.


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