Campaign of the Indus
Part 3 out of 3
masters of a place conceited to be impregnable, when defended, in the
short space of two hours, and in less than forty-eight hours after we
came before it. His Majesty was, of course, greatly delighted at the
result. When I afterwards, in the course of the day, took Mahomed Hyder
Khan, the governor, first to the British Minister, and then to the King,
to make his submission, I informed his Majesty that I had made a promise
that his life should not be touched, and the King, in very handsome
terms, assented, and informed Mahomed Hyder, in my presence, that
although he and his family had been rebels, yet he was willing to forget
and forgive all.
Prince Mahomed Hyder, the Governor of Ghuzni, is a prisoner of war in my
camp, and under the surveillance of Sir Alexander Burnes, an arrangement
very agreeable to the former.
From Major General Sir W. Cotton, commanding the 1st infantry division,
(of the Bengal army,) I have invariably received the strongest support;
and on this occasion his exertions were manifest in support of the
honour of the profession and of our country.
I have likewise, at all times, received able assistance from
Major-General Willshire, commanding the 2nd infantry division, (of the
Bombay army,) which it was found expedient on that day to break up, some
for the storming party, and some for other duties. The Major-General, as
directed, was in attendance upon myself.
To Brigadier Sale I feel deeply indebted for the gallant and soldierlike
manner in which he conducted the responsible and arduous duty entrusted
to him in command of the storming party, and for the arrangements he
made in the citadel immediately after taking possession of it. The sabre
wound which he received in the face did not prevent his continuing to
direct his column until everything was secure; and I am happy in the
opportunity of bringing to your Lordship's notice the excellent conduct
of Brigadier Sale on this occasion.
Brigadier Stevenson, in command of the Artillery, was all I could wish;
and he reports that Brigade-Majors Backhouse and Coghlan ably assisted
him. His arrangements were good; and the execution done by the arm he
commands, was such as cannot be forgotten by those of the enemy who have
witnessed and survived it.
To Brigadier Roberts, to Colonel Dennie, who commanded the advance, and
to the different officers commanding regiments already mentioned, as
well is to the other officers, and gallant soldiers under them, who so
nobly maintained the honour and reputation of our country, my best
acknowledgments are due.
To Captain Thomson, of the Bengal Engineers, the chief of the department
with me, much of the credit of the success of this brilliant
_coup-de-main_ is due. A place of the same strength, and by such simple
means as this highly-talented and scientific officer recommended to be
tried, has, perhaps, never before been taken; and I feel I cannot do
sufficient justice to Captain Thomson's merits for his conduct
throughout. In the execution he was ably supported by the officers
already mentioned; and so eager were the other officers of the Engineers
of both Presidencies for the honour of carrying the powder bags, that
the point could only be decided by seniority, which shews the fine
feeling by which they were animated.
I must now inform your Lordship, that since I joined the Bengal column
in the Valley of Shawl, I have continued my march with it in the
advance; and it has been my good fortune to have had the assistance of
two most efficient staff-officers in Major Craigie, Deputy
Adjutant-General, and Major Garden, Deputy Quartermaster-General. It is
but justice to those officers that I should state to your Lordship the
high satisfaction I have derived from the manner in which all then
duties have been performed up to this day, and that I look upon them as
promising officers to fill the higher ranks. To the other officers of
both departments I am also much indebted for the correct performance of
all duties appertaining to their situations.
To Major Keith, the Deputy Adjutant-General, and Major Campbell, the
Deputy Quartermaster-General of the Bombay army, and to all the other
officers of both departments under them, my acknowledgments are also
due, for the manner in which their duties have been performed during
Captain Alexander, commanding the 4th Bengal Local Horse, and Major
Cunningham, commanding the Poona Auxiliary Horse, with the men under
their orders, have been of essential service to the army in this
The arrangements made by Superintending-Surgeons Kennedy and Atkinson
previous to the storming, for affording assistance and comfort to the
wounded, met with my approval.
Major Parsons, the Deputy Commissary-General, in charge of the
department in the field, has been unremitting in his attention to keep
the troops supplied, although much difficulty is experienced, and he is
occasionally thwarted by the nature of the country and its inhabitants.
I have throughout this service received the utmost assistance I could
derive from Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonald, my officiating military
secretary, and Deputy Adjutant-General of her Majesty's Forces, Bombay;
from Captain Powell, my Persian interpreter, and the other officers of
my personal staff. The nature of the country in which we are serving,
prevents the possibility of my sending a single staff-officer to
deliver this to your Lordship, otherwise I should have asked my
aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Keane, to proceed to Simla, to deliver this
despatch into your hands, and to have afforded any further information
that your Lordship could have desired.
The brilliant triumph we have obtained, the cool courage displayed, and
the gallant bearing of the troops I have the honour to command, will
have taught such a lesson to our enemies in the Afghan nation as will
make them hereafter respect the name of a British soldier.
Our loss is wonderfully small considering the occasion, the casualties
in killed and wounded amount to about 200.
The loss of the enemy is immense; we have already buried of their dead
nearly 500, together with an immense number of horses.
I enclose a list of the killed, wounded, and missing. I am happy to say
that, although the wounds of some of the officers are severe, they are
all doing well.
It is my intention, after selecting a garrison for this place, and
establishing a general hospital, to continue my march to Cabool
forthwith--I have, &c.,
(Signed) JOHN KEANE, Lieut.-General.
_List of killed, wounded, and missing, in the army under the command of
Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane, before Ghuzni, on the 21st of July_,
2nd Troop Bengal Horse Artillery--3 horses wounded.
3rd Troop Bombay--2 rank and file, 2 horses, wounded.
4th Troop Bombay--1 horse killed.
2nd Regiment Bengal Cavalry--1 horse killed, 1 rank and file wounded.
4th Bengal Local Horse--1 rank and file and 1 horse missing.
Her Majesty's 13th Light Infantry--1 rank and file killed.
16th Bengal Native Infantry--1 captain wounded.
48th Bengal Native Infantry--1 lieutenant, and 2 rank and file wounded.
Total killed--1 rank and file, and two horses.
Total wounded--1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 5 rank and file, and 6 horses.
Total missing--1 rank and file, and 1 horse.
_Names of Officers wounded._
Captain Graves, 16th Bengal Native Infantry, severely.
Lieutenant Vanhomrigh, 48th Bengal Native Infantry, slightly.
(Signed) R. MACDONALD, Lieut.-Colonel,
Military Secretary, and Deputy Adjutant-Gen. to
her Majesty's Forces, Bombay.
_List of killed, wounded, and missing, in the army under the command of
Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane, K.C.B. and G.C.H., in the assault and
capture of the fortress and citadel of Ghuzni, on the 23rd of July,
General Staff--1 colonel, 1 major, wounded.
3rd Troop Bombay Horse Artillery--1 rank and file wounded.
4th Troop Bombay Horse Artillery--1 rank and file and 1 horse wounded.
Bengal Engineers--3 rank and file killed, 2 rank and file wounded, 1
rank and file missing.
Bombay Engineers--1 lieutenant, 1 rank and file, wounded.
2nd Bengal Light Cavalry--1 rank and file wounded.
1st Bombay Light Cavalry--1 havildar killed, 5 rank and file and 7
Her Majesty's 2nd Foot (or Queen's Royals)--4 rank and file killed; 2
captains, 4 lieutenants, 1 sergeant, and 26 rank and file wounded.
Her Majesty's 13th Light Infantry--1 rank and file killed; 3 sergeants
and 27 rank and file wounded.
Her Majesty's 17th Foot--6 rank and file wounded.
Bengal European Regiment--1 rank and file killed; 1 lieutenant-colonel,
1 major, 2 captains, 4 lieutenants, 1 ensign, 1 sergeant, 51 rank and
16th Bengal N.I.--1 havildar, 6 rank and file, wounded.
35th Bengal N.I.--5 rank and file killed; I havildar and 8 rank and file
48th Bengal N.I.--2 havildars killed, 5 rank and file wounded.
Total killed--3 sergeants or havildars, 14 rank and file.
Total wounded--1 colonel, 1 lieutenant-colonel, 2 majors, 4 captains, 8
lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 7 sergeants or havildars, 140 rank and file, 8
Total missing--1 rank and file.
Grand total on the 21st and 23rd of July, killed, wounded, and
missing--191 officers and men, and 16 horses.
_Names of Officers killed wounded, and missing._
General Staff--Brigadier Sale, her Majesty's 13th Light Infantry,
slightly; Major Parsons, Deputy Commissary-General, slightly.
Bombay Engineers--Second Lieutenant Marriott, slightly.
Her Majesty's 2nd (or Queen's Royals)--Captain Raitt, slightly; Captain
Robinson, severely; Lieutenant Yonge, severely; Lieut. Stisted,
slightly; Adjutant Simmons, slightly; Quartermaster Hadley, slightly.
Bengal European Regiment--Lieutenant-Colonel Orchard, slightly; Major
Warren, severely; Captains Hay and Taylor, slightly; Lieutenant
Broadfoot, slightly; Lieutenant Haslewood, severely; Lieutenants Fagan
and Magnay, slightly; Ensign Jacob, slightly.
(Signed) R. MACDONALD, Lieut.-Colonel,
Military Secretary, and Deputy Adjutant-Gen. to
her Majesty's Forces, Bombay.
_By his Excellency Lieutenant-Gen. Sir John Keane, Commander-in-Chief of
the Army of the Indus._
Head-Quarters, Camp, Ghuzni, July 23rd, 1839
Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane most heartily congratulates the army
he has the honour to command, on the signal triumph they have this day
obtained in the capture by storm of the strong and important fortress of
Ghuzni. His Excellency feels that he can hardly do justice to the
gallantry of the troops.
The scientific and successful manner in which the Cabool gate (of great
strength) was blown up by Captain Thomson, of the Bengal Engineers, the
chief of that department with this army, in which he reports having been
most ably assisted by Captain Peat, of the Bombay Engineers, and
Lieutenants Durand and MacLeod, of the Bengal Engineers, in the daring
and dangerous enterprise of laying down powder in the face of the enemy,
and the strong fire kept up on them, reflects the highest credit on
their skill and cool courage, and his Excellency begs Captain Thomson
and officers named will accept his cordial thanks. His acknowledgments
are also due to the other officers of the Engineers of both
Presidencies, and to the valuable corps of Sappers and Miners under
them. This opening having been made, although it was a difficult one to
enter by, from the rubbish in the way, the leading column, in a spirit
of true gallantry, directed and led by Brigadier Sale, gained a footing
inside the fortress, although opposed by the Afghan soldiers in very
great strength, and in the most desperate manner, with every kind of
The advance, under Lieutenant-Colonel Dennie, of her Majesty's 13th,
consisting of the light companies of her Majesty's 2nd and 17th, and of
the Bengal European Regiment, with one company of her Majesty's 13th;
and the leading column, consisting of her Majesty's 2nd Queen's, under
Major Carruthers, and the Bengal European Regiment, under
Lieutenant-Colonel Orchard, followed by her Majesty's 13th Light
Infantry, as they collected from the duty of skirmishing, which they
were directed to begin with, and by her Majesty's 17th, under
Lieutenant-Colonel Croker. To all these officers, and to the other
officers and gallant soldiers under their orders, his Excellency's best
thanks are tendered; but, in particular, he feels deeptly indebted to
Brigadier Sale, for the manner in which he conducted the arduous duty
entrusted to him in the command of the storming party. His Excellency
will not fail to bring it to the notice of his Lordship the
Governor-General, and he trusts the wound which Brigadier Sale has
received is not of that severe nature long to deprive this army of his
services. Brigadier Sale reports that Captain Kershaw, of her Majesty's
13th Light Infantry, rendered important assistance to him and to the
service in the storming.
Sir John Keane was happy, on this proud occasion, to have the assistance
of his old comrade, Major-General Sir Willoughby Cotton, who, in command
of the reserve, ably executed the instructions he had received, and was
at the gate ready to enter after the storming party had established
themselves inside, when he moved through it to sweep the ramparts, and
to complete the subjugation of the place with the 16th Bengal Native
Infantry, under Major M'Laren; Brigadier Roberts, with the 35th Native
Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Monteath; and the 48th Native
Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Wheeler. His arrangements afterwards,
in continuation of those Brigadier Sale had made for the security of the
magazine and other public stores, were such as meet his Excellency's
The Commander-in-Chief acknowledges the services rendered by Captain
Hay, of the 35th Native Infantry, in command of three companies of that
regiment sent to the south side of the fortress to begin with a false
attack, and which was executed at the proper time, and in a manner
highly satisfactory to his Excellency.
Nothing could be more judicious than the manner in which Brigadier
Stevenson placed the artillery in position. Captain Grant's troop of
Bengal Artillery, and the camel battery, under Captain Abbott, both
superintended by Major Pew; the two troops of Bombay Horse Artillery,
commanded by Captains Martin and Cotgrave; and Captain Lloyd's battery
of Bombay Foot Artillery, all opened upon the citadel and fortress in a
manner which shook the enemy, and did such execution as completely to
paralyse and to strike terror into them; and his Excellency begs
Brigadier Stevenson, the officers, and men of that arm, will accept his
thanks for their good service.
The 19th Regiment Bombay Native Infantry, under the command of
Lieutenant-Colonel Stalker, having been placed in position to watch any
enemy that might appear on the Cabool road, or approach to attack the
camp, had an important post assigned to them, although, as it happened,
no enemy made an attack upon them.
In sieges and stormings it does not fall to the lot of cavalry to bear
the same conspicuous part as to the other two arms of the profession. On
this occasion, Sir John Keane is happy to have an opportunity of
thanking Major-General Thackwell, and the officers and men of the
cavalry divisions under his orders, for having successfully executed the
directions given, to sweep the plain, and to intercept fugitives of the
enemy attempting to escape from the fort in any direction around it; and
had an enemy appeared for the relief of the place during the storming,
his Excellency is fully satisfied that the different regiments of this
fine arm would have distinguished themselves, and that the opportunity
alone was wanting.
Major-General Willshire's division having been broken up for the day, to
be distributed as it was, the Major-General was desired to be in
attendance upon the Commander-in-Chief. To him and to the officers of
the Assistant Quartermaster-General's department of the Bengal and
Bombay army, his Excellency returns his warmest thanks for the
assistance they have afforded him.
The Commander-in-Chief feels--and in which feeling he is sure he will be
joined by the troops composing the Army of the Indus--that, after the
long and harassing marches they have had, and the privations they have
endured, this glorious achievement, and the brilliant manner in which
the troops have met and conquered the enemy, reward them for it all. His
Excellency will only add, that no army that has ever been engaged in a
campaign deserves more credit than this which he has the honour to
command, for patient, orderly, and correct conduct, under all
circumstances, and Sir John Keane is proud to have the opportunity of
thus publicly acknowledging it.
By order of his Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane,
Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Indus.
(Signed) R. MACDONALD, Lieut.-Colonel,
Military Secretary, and Deputy Adjutant-Gen. of
her Majesty's Forces, Bombay.
* * * * *
ENTRANCE INTO CABOOL.
(_From the Delhi Gazette Extraordinary, of Thursday, Aug. 29_.)
Simla, August 26th, 1839.
The Governor-General of India publishes for general information, the
subjoined copy and extracts of despatches from his Excellency the
Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Indus, and from the Envoy and
Minister at the Court of his Majesty Shah Shooja-ool-Moolk, announcing
the triumphant entry of the Shah into Cabool, on the 7th instant.
In issuing this notification, the Governor-General cannot omit the
opportunity of offering to the officers and men composing the army of
the Indus, and to the distinguished leader by whom they have been
commanded, the cordial congratulations of the government upon the happy
result of a campaign, which, on the sole occasion when resistance was
opposed to them, has been gloriously marked by victory, and in all the
many difficulties of which the character of a British army for
gallantry, good conduct, and discipline has been nobly maintained.
A salute of twenty-one guns will be fired on the receipt of this
intelligence at all the principal stations of the army in the three
By order of the Right Hon. the Governor-General of India,
Officiating Secretary to the Government of
India, with the Governor-General.
* * * * *
TO THE RIGHT HON. LORD AUCKLAND, G.C.B., ETC.
MY LORD,--We have the honour to acquaint your Lordship that the army
marched from Ghuzni, _en route_ to Cabool, in two columns, on the 30th
and 31st ult., his Majesty Shah Shooja-ool-Moolk, with his own troops,
forming part of the second column.
On the arrival of the Commander-in-Chief with the first column, at Hyde
Khail, on the 1st inst., information reached him, and the same reached
the Envoy and Minister at Huft Assaya, that Dost Mahomed, with his army
and artillery, were advancing from Cabool, and would probably take up a
position at Urghundee or Midan, (the former twenty-four, the latter
thirty-six miles from Cabool.) Upon this it was arranged that his
Majesty, with the second column, under Major General Willshire, should
join the first column here, and advance together to attack Dost Mahomed,
whose son, Mahomed Akhbar, had been recalled from Jellahabad, with the
troops guarding the Khyber Pass, and had formed a junction with his
father; their joint forces, according to our information, amounting to
about 13,000 men.
Every arrangement was made for the King and the army marching in a body
from here to-morrow; but in the course of the night, messengers arrived,
and since (this morning) a great many chiefs and their followers,
announcing the dissolution of Dost Mahomed's army, by the refusal of a
great part to advance against us with him, and that he had in
consequence fled, with a party of 300 horsemen, in the direction of
Bamian, leaving his guns behind him, in position, as they were placed at
His Majesty Shah Shooja has sent forward a confidential officer, with
whom has been associated Major Cureton, of her Majesty's 16th Lancers,
taking with him a party of 200 men and an officer of artillery, to
proceed direct to take possession of those guns, and afterwards such
other guns and public stores as may be found in Cabool and the Balla
Hissar, in the name of, and for his Majesty Shah Shooja-ool-Moolk, and
the King's order will be carried by his own officer with this party, for
preserving the tranquillity of the city of Cabool.
A strong party has been detached in pursuit of Dost Mahomed, under some
of our most active officers. We continue our march upon Cabool
to-morrow, and will reach it on the third day.
We have, &c.,
(Signed) JOHN KEANE, Lieut.-General,
(Signed) W.H. MACNAGHTEN,
Envoy and Minister.
* * * * *
_Extract from a Letter from his Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir John
Keane, K.C.B. and G.C.H., dated Head-Quarters, Camp, Cabool, August 8th,
"It gives me infinite pleasure to be able to address my despatch to your
Lordship from this capital, the vicinity of which his Majesty Shah
Shooja-ool-Moolk and the army under my command reached the day before
yesterday. The King entered his capital yesterday afternoon, accompanied
by the British Envoy and Minister and the gentlemen of the mission, and
by myself, the general and staff officers of this army, and escorted by
a squadron of her Majesty's 4th Light Dragoons, and one of her Majesty's
16th Lancers, with Captain Martin's troop of Horse Artillery. His
Majesty had expressed a wish that British troops should be present on
the occasion, and a very small party only of his own Hindostanee and
Afghan troops. After the animating scene of traversing the streets, and
reaching the palace in the Bala Hissar, a royal salute was fired, and an
additional salvo in the Afghan style, from small guns, resembling
wall-pieces, named gingalls, and carried on camels. We heartily
congratulated his Majesty on being in possession of the throne and
kingdom of his ancestors, and upon the overthrow of his enemies; and
after taking leave of his Majesty, we returned to our camp.
"I trust we have thus accomplished all the objects which your Lordship
had in contemplation when you planned and formed the army of the Indus,
and the expedition into Afghanistan.
"The conduct of the army both European and native, which your Lordship
did me the honour to place under my orders, has been admirable
throughout, and, notwithstanding the severe marching and privations they
have gone through, their appearance and discipline have suffered
nothing, and the opportunity afforded them at Ghuzni of meeting and
conquering their enemy has added greatly to their good spirits.
"The joint despatch addressed by Mr Macnaghten and myself to your
Lordship, on the 3rd instant, from Shikarbad, will have informed you
that at the moment we had made every preparation to attack (on the
following day) Dost Mahomed Khan, in his position at Urghundee, where,
after his son, Mahomed Akhbar, had joined him from Jellahabad, he had an
army amounting to 13,000 men, well armed and appointed, and thirty
pieces of artillery, we suddenly learned that he abandoned them all, and
fled, with a party of horsemen, on the road to Bamian, leaving his guns
in position, as he had placed them to receive our attack.
"It appears that a great part of his army, which was hourly becoming
disorganized, refused to stand by him in the position to receive our
attack, and that it soon became in a state of dissolution. The great
bulk immediately came over to Shah Shooja, tendering their allegiance,
and I believe his Majesty will take most of them into his pay.
"It seems that the news of the quick and determined manner in which we
took their stronghold, Ghuzni, had such an effect upon the population of
Cabool, and perhaps also upon the enemy's army, that Dost Mahomed from
that moment began to lose hope of retaining his rule, for even a short
time longer, and sent off his family and valuable property towards
Bamian; but marched out of Cabool, with his army and artillery, keeping
a bold front towards us until the evening of the 2nd, when all his hopes
were at an end by a division in his own camp, and one part of his army
abandoning him. So precipitate was his flight, that be left in position
his guns, with their ammunition and wagons, and the greater part of the
cattle by which they were drawn. Major Cureton, of her Majesty's 16th
Lancers, with his party of 200 men, pushed forward, of the 3rd, and took
possession of those guns, &c. There were twenty-three brass guns in
position, and loaded; two more at a little distance, which they
attempted to take away; and since then, three more abandoned, still
further off on the Bamian road; thus leaving in our possession
twenty-eight pieces of cannon, with all the materiel belonging to them,
which are now handed over to Shah Shooja-ool-Moolk."
* * * * *
_Extract from a Letter from W.H. Macnaghten, Esq., Envoy and Minister to
the Court of Shah Shooja-ool-Moolk, dated Cabool, 9th of August,
"By a letter signed jointly by his Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir
John Keane and myself, dated the 3rd inst., the Right Hon. the
Governor-General was apprised of the flight of Dost Mahomed Khan.
"The ex-chief was not accompanied by any person of consequence, and his
followers are said to have been reduced to below the number of 100 on
the day of his departure. In the progress of Shah Shooja-ool-Moolk
towards Cabool, his Majesty was joined by every person of rank and
influence in the country, and he made his triumphal entry into the city
on the evening of the 7th instant. His Majesty has taken up his
residence in the Bala Hissar, where he has required the British mission
to remain for the present."
* * * * *
(_From the Bombay Government Gazette Extraordinary of August 29th._)
Simla, August 26th, 1839.
A letter from Shikarbad, of August 3rd, states--
"The chiefs with their military followers are flocking in by thousands.
No better commentary on the feeling regarding Dost Mahomed Khan could be
given than the fact of his having been able to induce only 300 out of
12,000 men to accompany him; Capt. Outram and seven other officers
accompany the pursuing party."
The dates from the army at Cabool are to August the 9th. The letters
from thence give the following intelligence:--
"The Shah's reception at this place was equally gratifying as at
Candahar, though the enthusiasm was not so boisterous.
"We arrived here yesterday, and, I am happy to say, with a sufficient
stock of supplies in our Godown to render us quite independent of any
foreign purchases for the next ten days, which will keep down prices,
and save us from the extravagant rates which we were obliged to purchase
at when we reached Candahar. I have not been to the city yet, but am
told it is far superior to Candahar. Our people are now very well off;
for the increased rations, and abundance and cheapness of grain as we
came along, have left them nothing to want or wish for."
Extract of a further letter from Shikarbad, August 3rd:--
"The Afghans have not yet recovered from their astonishment at the
rapidity with which Ghuzni fell into our hands, nor up to this moment
will they believe how it was effected.
"This morning we received intelligence of Dost Mahomed's flight towards
Bamian; for several days past many of his former adherents had been
joining the King. Since this morning, thousands of Afghans have been
coming in to tender their allegiance to his Majesty, who is in the
greatest spirits at this pacific termination to the campaign, and says
that God has now granted all his wishes, --Cabool is at hand!
"We are all delighted at it. Few armies have made so long a march in the
same time that the army of the Indus has done. The country is every day
improving. The road to Candahar from where we are now encamped lies in a
continued valley seldom stretching in width above two miles; cultivation
on each side of the road, and numberless villages nestling under the
hills. Since we left Ghuzni, the fruits have assumed a very fine
appearance; the grapes, plums, and apples have become very large, like
their brethren of Europe. The climate now is very fine. The rapid
Loghurd river is flowing close to our encampments, and the European
soldiers and officers are amusing themselves with fishing in it. We are
beginning to get vegetables again. I passed this morning through fields
of beans, but only in flower. Our attention must be turned to the
cultivation of potatoes; they grow in quantities in Persia, and this
seems to be just the country for them. To revert from small things to
great: a party has just been detached towards Bamian with a view of
cutting off Dost Mahomed. It would be a great thing to catch him. The
party consists chiefly of Afghans, headed by Hajee Khan Kaukur, and
about eight or ten British officers have been sent with it, to prevent
the Afghans from committing excesses."
LONDON GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY,
_Thursday, Feb. 13th._
INDIA BOARD, FEB. 13TH.
A despatch has been this day received at the East India House, addressed
by the Governor-General of India to the Select Committee of the East
India Company, of which the following is a copy:--
"Camp at Bhurtpore, Dec. 12th, 1839.
"I do myself the honour to forward copies of the despatches noted in the
margin, relative to the assault and capture of the fort of Kelat.
"2. The decision, the great military skill, and excellent dispositions,
of Major-General Willshire, in conducting the operations against Kelat,
appear to me deserving the highest commendation. The gallantry,
steadiness, and soldier-like bearing of the troops under his command
rendered his plans of action completely successful, thereby again
crowning our arms across the Indus with signal victory.
"3. I need not expatiate on the importance of this achievement, from
which the best effects must be derived, not only in the vindication of
our national honour, but also in confirming the security of intercourse
between Sinde and Afghanistan, and in promoting the safety and
tranquillity of the restored monarchy; but I would not omit to point out
that the conduct on this occasion of Major-General Willshire, and of the
officers and men under his command, (including the 31st regiment of
Bengal Native Infantry, which had not been employed in the previous
active operations of the campaign,) have entitled them to more prominent
notice that I was able to give them in my general order of November
18th; and in recommending these valuable services to the applause of
the committee, I trust that I shall not be considered as going beyond my
proper province in stating an earnest hope that the conduct of
Major-General Willshire in the direction of the operations will not fail
to elicit the approbation of her Majesty's Government.--I have, &c.
* * * * *
_By the Governor-General of India._
Camp Doothanee, December 4th, 1839.
The many outrages and murders committed, in attacks on the followers of
the army of the Indus, by the plundering tribes in the neighbourhood of
the Bolan Pass, at the instigation of their chief, Meer Mehrab Khan, of
Kelat, at a time when he was professing friendship for the British
Government, and negotiating a treaty with its representatives, having
compelled the government to direct a detachment of the army to proceed
to Kelat for the exaction of retribution from that chieftain, and for
the execution of such arrangements as would establish future security in
that quarter, a force, under the orders of Major-General Willshire,
C.B., was employed on this service; and the Right Hon. the
Governor-General of India having this day received that officer's report
of the successful accomplishment of the objects entrusted to him, has
been pleased to direct that the following copy of his despatch, dated
the 14th ultimo, be published for general information.
The Governor-General is happy to avail himself of this opportunity to
record his high admiration of the signal gallantry and spirit of the
troops engaged on this occasion, and offers, on the part of the
government, his best thanks to Major-General Willshire, and to the
officers and men who served under him.
By command of the Governor-General,
Officiating Secretary to the Government of
India, with the Governor-General.
FROM MAJOR-GENERAL SIR THOMAS WILLSHIRE, K.C.B., TO THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL
Camp, near Kelat, Nov. 14th. 1839.
MY LORD,--In obedience to the joint instructions furnished to me by his
Excellency the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Indus, and the
Envoy and Minister to his Majesty Shah Shooja, under date Cabool, the
17th of September, 1839, deputing to me the duty of deposing Mehrab Khan
of Kelat, in consequence of the avowed hostility of that chief to the
British nation during the present campaign, I have the honour to report,
that on my arrival at Quettah, on the 31st ultimo, I communicated with
Captain Bean, the political agent in Shawl, and arranged with him the
best means of giving effect to the orders I had received.
In consequence of the want of public carriage, and the limited quantity
of commissariat supplies at Quettah, as well as the reported want of
forage on the route to Kelat, I was obliged to despatch to Cutch Gundava
the whole of the cavalry and the greater portion of the artillery,
taking with me only the troops noted in the margin,[B] and leaving
Quettah on the 3rd instant.
[Footnote B: Two guns Bombay Horse Artillery; four guns Shah's ditto;
two Ressalaghs Local Horse; Queen's Royals; Her Majesty's 17th regiment;
31st regiment Bengal Native Infantry; Bombay Engineers.]
During the march, the communications received from Mehrab Khan were, so
far from acceding to the terms offered, that he threatened resistance if
the troops approached his capital. I therefore proceeded, and arrived at
the village of Giranee, within eight miles of Kelat, on the 12th
Marching thence the following morning, a body of horse were perceived on
the right of the road, which commenced firing on the advanced guard,
commanded by Major Pennycuick, her Majesty's 17th regiment, as the
column advanced, and the skirmishing between them continued until we
came in sight of Kelat, rather less than a mile distant.
I now discovered that three heights on the north-west face of the fort,
and parallel to the north, were covered with infantry, with five guns in
position, protected by small parapet walls.
Captain Peat, chief engineer, immediately reconnoitered; and having
reported that nothing could be done until those heights were in our
possession, I decided upon at once storming them simultaneously, and, if
practicable, entering the fort with the fugitives, as the gate in the
northern face was occasionally opened to keep up the communication
between the fort and the heights.
To effect this object I detached a company from each of the European
regiments from the advanced guard with Major Pennycuick, her Majesty's
17th regiment, for the purpose of occupying the gardens and enclosures
to the north-east of the town, and two more companies in the plain,
midway between them and the column; at the same time I ordered three
columns of attack to be formed, composed of four companies from each
corps, under their respective commanding officers, Major Carruthers, of
the Queen's, Lieutenant-Colonel Croker, her Majesty's 17th regiment, and
Major Western, 31st Bengal Native Infantry, the whole under the command
of Brigadier Baumgardt, the remainder of the regiments forming three
columns of reserve, under my own direction, to move in support.
A hill being allotted to each column, Brigadier Stevenson, commanding
the artillery, moved quickly forward in front towards the base of the
heights, and when within the required range opened fire upon the
infantry and guns, under cover of which the columns moved steadily on,
and commenced the ascent for the purpose of carrying the heights,
exposed to the fire of the enemy's guns, which had commenced while the
columns of attack were forming.
Before the columns reached their respective summits of the hills, the
enemy, overpowered by the superior and well-directed fire of our
artillery, had abandoned them, attempting to carry off their guns, but
which they were unable to do. At this moment, it appearing to me the
opportunity offered for the troops to get in with the fugitives, and if
possible gain possession of the gate of the fortress, I despatched
orders to the Queen's Royal and 17th Regiments to make a rush from the
heights for that purpose, following myself to the summit of the nearest,
to observe the result. At this moment, the four companies on my left,
which had been detached to the gardens and plain, seeing the chance that
offered of entering the fort, moved rapidly forward from their
respective points towards the gateway, under a heavy and well-directed
fire from the walls of the fort and citadel, which were thronged by the
The gate having been closed before the troops moving towards it could
effect the desired object, and the garrison strengthened by the enemy
driven from the heights, they were compelled to cover themselves, as far
as practicable, behind some walls and ruined buildings to the right and
left of it, while Brigadier Stevenson, having ascended the heights with
the artillery, opened two guns, under the command of Lieutenant Foster,
Bombay Horse Artillery, upon the defences above the gate and its
vicinity, while the fire of two others, commanded by, Lieutenant Cowper,
Shah's Artillery, was directed against the gate itself; the remaining
two, with Lieutenant Creed, being sent round to the road on the left
hand, leading directly up to the gate, and when within two hundred
yards, commenced fire, for the purpose of completing in blowing it open,
and after a few rounds, they succeeded in knocking in one half of it. On
observing this, I rode down the hill towards the gate, pointing to it,
thereby announcing to the troops it was open. They instantly rose from
their cover and rushed in. Those under the command of Major Pennycuick,
being the nearest, were the first to gain the gate, headed by that
officer, the whole of the storming columns from the three regiments
rapidly following and gaining an entrance, as quick as it was possible
to do so, under a heavy fire from the works and from the interior, the
enemy making a most gallant and determined resistance, disputing every
inch of ground up to the walls of the inner citadel.
At this time I directed the reserve column to be brought near the gate,
and detached one company of the 17th Regiment, under Captain Darley, to
the western side of the fort, followed by a portion of the 31st Bengal
Native Infantry, commanded by Major Western, conducted by Captain
Outram, acting as my extra Aide-de-Camp, for the purpose of securing the
heights, under which the southern angle is situated, and intercepting
any of the garrison escaping from that side; having driven off the enemy
from the heights above, the united detachments then descended to the
gate of the fort below, and forced it open before the garrison (who
closed it as they saw the troops approach) had time to secure it.
When the party was detached by the western face, I also sent two
companies from the reserve of the 17th, under Major Deshon, and two guns
of the Shah's artillery, under the command of Lieutenant Creed, Bombay
Artillery, by the eastern to the southern face, for the purpose of
blowing open the gate above alluded to, had it been necessary, as well
as the gate of the inner citadel; the infantry joining the other
detachments, making their way through the town in the direction of the
After some delay, the troops that held possession of the town at length
succeeded in forcing an entrance into the citadel, where a desperate
resistance was made by Mehrab Khan, at the head of his people; he
himself, with many of his principal chiefs, being killed sword in hand.
Several others, however, kept up a fire upon our troops from detached
buildings difficult of access, and it was not until late in the
afternoon, that those that survived were induced to give themselves up
on a promise of their lives being spared.
From every account, I have reason to believe the garrison consisted of
upwards of 2000 fighting men, and that the son of Mehrab Khan had been
expected to join him from Nerosky, with a further reinforcement; the
enclosed return will shew the strength of the force under my command
present at the capture.
The defences of the fort, as in the case of Ghuzni, far exceeded in
strength what I had been led to suppose from previous report, and the
towering height of the inner citadel was most formidable, both in
appearance and reality.
I lament to say that the loss of killed and wounded on our side has been
severe, as will be seen by the accompanying return; that on the part of
the enemy must have been great, but the exact number I have not been
able to ascertain. Several hundreds of prisoners were taken, from whom
the political agent has selected those he considers it necessary for the
present to retain in confinement; the remainder have been liberated.
It is quite impossible for me sufficiently to express my admiration of
the gallant and steady conduct of the officers and men upon this
occasion; but the fact of less than an hour having elapsed from the
formation of the columns for the attack to the period of the troops
being within the fort, and this performed in the open day, and in the
face of an enemy so very superior in numbers, and so perfectly prepared
for resistance, will, I trust, convince your Lordship how deserving the
officers and troops are of my warmest thanks, and of the highest praise
that can be bestowed.
To Brigadier Baumgardt, commanding the storming column, my best thanks
are due, and he reports that Captain Willie, acting Assistant
Adjutant-General, and Captain Gilland, his aide-de-camp, ably assisted
him, and zealously performed their duties; also to Brigadier Stevenson,
commanding the artillery, and Lieutenants Forster and Cowper,
respectively in charge of the Bombay and Shah's, artillery. I feel
greatly indebted for the steady and scientific manner in which the
service of dislodging the enemy from the heights, and afterwards
effecting an entrance into the fort, was performed. The Brigadier has
brought to my notice the assistance he received from Captain Coghlan,
his brigade major, Lieutenant Woosnam, his aide-de-camp, and Lieutenant
Creed, when in battery yesterday.
To Lieutenant-Colonel Croker, commanding her Majesty's 17th Regiment;
Major Carruthers, commanding the Queen's Royals; Major Western,
commanding the Bengal 31st Native Infantry, I feel highly indebted for
the manner in which they conducted their respective columns to the
attack of the heights, and afterwards to the assault of the town, as
well as to Major Pennycuick, of the 17th, who led the advance-guard
companies to the same point.
To Captain Peat, chief engineer, and to the officers and men of the
Engineer Corps, my acknowledgments are due; to Major Neil Campbell,
Acting Quartermaster-General of the Bombay army; to Captain Hagart,
Acting Deputy Adjutant-General; and to Lieutenant Ramsay, acting
Assistant Quartermaster-General, my best thanks are due for the able
assistance afforded me by their services.
From my Aides-de-camp, Captain Robinson and Lieutenant Halket, as well
as from Captain Outram, who volunteered his services on my personal
staff, I received the utmost assistance; and to the latter officer I
fell greatly indebted for the zeal and ability with which he has
performed various duties that I have required of him, upon other
occasions, as well as the present.
It is with much pleasure that I state the great assistance I have
received from Captain Bean in obtaining supplies.
Major-Gen., Commanding Bombay Column,
Army of the Indus.
* * * * *
_Return of Casualties in the army under the command of Major-General
Willshire, C.B., employed at the storming of Kelat, on the 13th of
1st Troop of Cabool Artillery--2 rank and file, 6 horses, wounded.
Gun Lancers attached to ditto--1 rank and file, 1 horse, wounded; 1
corporal, since dead.
Her Majesty's 2nd, or Queen's Royal Regiment--1 lieutenant, 21 rank and
file, killed; 2 captains, 2 lieutenants, 1 adjutant, 2 sergeants, 40
rank and file, 1 horse, wounded.
Her Majesty's 17th Regiment--6 rank and file, killed; 1 captain, 3
sergeants, 29 rank and file, wounded.
31st Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry--1 subadar, 2 rank and file,
killed; 1 captain, 1 ensign, 2 jemadars, 2 sergeants, 1 drummer, 14 rank
and file, 1 bheestie, wounded.
Sappers and Miners and Pioneers--1 sergeant wounded.
4th Bengal Local Horse--1 rank and file wounded.
Total--1 lieutenant, 1 subadar, 29 rank and file, killed; 4 captains, 2
lieutenants, 1 ensign, 1 adjutant, 2 jemadars, 8 sergeants, 1 drummer,
87 rank and file, 1 bheestie, 7 horses, wounded.
Total killed and wounded--138.
_Names of Officers killed and wounded._
Killed--Her Majesty's 2nd or Queen's Royal Regiment--Lieutenant T.
Wounded--Her Majesty's 2nd, or Queen's Royal Regiment--Captain W.M.
Lyster, Captain T. Sealy, Lieutenant T.W.E. Holdsworth, severely;
Lieutenant D.J. Dickenson, slightly; Adjutant J.E. Simmons, severely.
Her Majesty's 17th Regiment--Captain L.C. Bourchier, severely.
31st Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry--Captain Saurin, slightly;
Ensign Hopper, severely.
C. HAGART, Captain,
Acting Deputy Adjutant-Gen Bombay
Column, Army of the Indus.
* * * * *
_State of the Corps engaged at the storming of Kelat, on the 13th of
November, 1839, under the command of Major-General Willshire, C.B._
Camp at Kelat, November 13th, 1839.
Staff--1 major-general, 2 brigadiers, 5 aides-de-camp, 1 acting
deputy-adjutant general, 1 acting quartermaster-general, 1 deputy
assistant-quartermaster-general, 2 brigade-majors, 1 sub-assistant
Detachment 3rd Troop Horse Artillery--2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 36
rank and file.
1st Troop Cabool Artillery--1 lieutenant, 8 sergeants, 1 drummer, 1
farier, 58 rank and file.
Her Majesty's 2nd, or Queen's Royal Regiment--1 major, 3 captains, 7
lieutenants, 1 ensign, 1 adjutant, 31 sergeants, 10 drummers, 290 rank
Her Majesty's 17th Regiment--1 lieutenant-colonel, 2 majors, 4
captains, 13 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 1 quartermaster, 1 surgeon, 29
sergeants, 9 drummers, 338 rank and file.
31st Regiment Bengal Native Infantry--1 major, 2 captains, 3
lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 1 adjutant, 1 quartermaster, 1 surgeon, 12
native officers, 30 sergeants, 14 drummers, 329 rank and file.
Sappers and Miners and Pioneers--1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 assistant
surgeon, 3 native officers, 1 sub-conductor, 7 sergeants, 3 drummers,
117 rank and file.
Total--1 major-general, 2 brigadiers, 5 aides-de-camp, 1 acting deputy
adjutant-general, 1 acting quartermaster-general, 1 deputy
assistant-quartermaster-general, 2 brigade-majors, 1
sub-assistant-commissary-general, 1 lieutenant-colonel, 4 majors, 10
captains, 27 lieutenants, 5 ensigns, 2 adjutants, 2 quartermasters, 2
surgeons, 1 assistant-surgeon, 15 native officers, 1 sub-conductor,
107 sergeants, 37 drummers, 1 farrier, 1,166 rank and file.
The Sappers and Miners and Pioneers were not engaged until the gate was
C. HAGART, Captain,
Acting Deputy Adjutant-Gen., Bombay
Column, Army of the Indus.
Note--Two russalas of the Bengal Local Horse remained in charge of the
baggage during the attack.
* * * * *
_List of Beloochee Sirdars killed in the assault of Kelat, on the 13th
of November, 1839_:--
Meer Mehrab Khan, Chief of Kelat. Meer Wullee Mahomed, the Muengul
Sirdar of Wudd. Abdool Kurreem, Ruhsanee Sirdar. Dad Kurreen, Shahwanee
Sirdar. Mahomed Ruzza, nephew of the Vizier Mahomed Hoosein. Khysur
Khan, Ahsehrie Sirdar. Dewan Bucha Mull, Financial Minister. Noor
Mahomed and Taj Mahomed, Shagassa Sirdars.
Mahomed Hoossein, Vizier. Moola Ruheem Dad, ex-Naib of Shawl; with
several others of inferior rank.
J.D.D. DEAN, Political Agent.
* * * * *
CAPTURE OF THE FORT AND CITADEL OF KELAT.
Political Department Fort William, Dec. 14, 1839.
The Hon. the President in Council has much satisfaction in publishing
the following despatch from Major-General Willshire, C.B., with the
returns annexed to it, reporting the capture of the fort and citadel of
Kelat, by storm, on the 13th of November, which brilliant achievement
was effected by a force consisting of only 1200 men, with the loss, his
Honour in Council grieves to say, of 138 killed and wounded, including
amongst the former one officer, Lieutenant Gravatt, of her Majesty's
2nd, or Queen's Regiment, and amongst the latter, eight officers.
Meer Mehrab Khan himself, and eight other sirdars, were amongst the
slain of the enemy.
The general order issued by the Right Hon. the Governor-General, on the
receipt of this intelligence, is republished, and his Honour in Council
unites with his Lordship in recording his high admiration of the signal
gallantry and spirit of the troops engaged, and in offering his thanks
to Major-General Willshire, and to the officers and men who served under
him on this occasion.
A royal salute will be fired from the ramparts of Fort William, at noon
this day, in honour of the event.
By order of the Hon. the President in Council,
Secretary to the Government of India.
Back to Full Books