H. B. (Henry Bathurst) Hanna.

The second Afghan war, 1878-79-80 : its causes, its conduct and its consequences (Volume 2) online

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February, and meantime circumstances had occurred which obliged
Maude to settle the matter for himself. On the 30th, Captain Tucker,
who hitherto had maintained that only the Zakka Khel were assembled
to dispute the British advance, informed the General that members
of other tribes were present with them, some from a considerable
distance, thus confirming the opinion of the Military Officers that the
resistance of the inhabitants of a single valley might grow into a great
Afridi war. It subsequently transpired that detachments from the
Kuki Khel, Aka Khel, Kambar Khel, Malik Din Khel, and Sipah
Afridis, as well as from the Sangu Khel Shinwaris and the Orakzais,
were assembled in the Bara Passes. This information was brought in
by Jemadar Yussin Khan, who, with Subadars Said Mahomet, Sultan
Jan and Kazi Afzal, had been sent out by Captain Tucker to try to
establish friendly relations with the headmen of Bazar, an attempt
in which they met with unexpected success. As a first result of their
representations there was no firing into the camps on the night of the
30th, and on the 31st, the Jirga of the Zakka Khel of Bazar came into
camp, followed, on the 1st of February, by the Jirga of the Zakka
Khel of Bara. Wliilst the Political Officer was busy negotiating Avith
these representative bodies, the camels, which had been sent back to
Ali Masjid for fresh supplies, returned, bringing only half the quantity
expected, and General Maude saw himself compelled to place his
British troops on half rations ; and — a still more serious matter so far
as the question of a further advance was concerned — Sir S. Browne


alarmed by a rumour that the Mohmands and Bajauris were to make
a simultaneous attack on Jellalabad and Dakka, on the 7th of
February, telegraphed an urgent request for the return of Tytler's
troops. Now, as the Letter of Instructions which directed Maude " to
act in conformity with the views of the political authorities," also
ordered him " to strengthen troops in advance, if required " — i.e.
Sir S. Browne's Division — this telegram imposed upon him the necessity
of coining to an immediate and definite decision on the very point
which he had referred to Government; for to let Tytler's Brigade go,
was to abandon the Expedition, which could certainly not be carried
further without its co-operation in the face of the formidable opposi-
tion that was developing. When it came to be a question between
the safety of the 1st Division and the desire of Major Cavagnari to
see Bara invaded, Maude was not likely to hesitate. He telegraphed
to Browne that Tytler's Brigade should return to Dakka in time, and
he informed Captain Tucker that no further advance was possible.
That Officer seems, for the time being, to have been quite in accord
with the General as to the wisdom of bringing the Expdietion to a
speedy end ; anxious even to take the credit of the withdrawal to liim-
self, since he wrote as follows in a letter to Maude, dated Camp Bazar,
2nd of February : —

" I myself think that a more lengthened occupation of the valley
will arouse much irritation, and suggest that the Army which has now
been here a full week, should march to-morrow, the Afridis under-
taking to supply escorts whose business it will be to see that no attack
is made on the retiring columns. I am led to recommend this —
firstly, on account of the risk of a collision with other Pathan Tribes,
wliich I beheve Government is anxious to avoid; and secondly, on
account of the threatened attack on Dakka and JeUalabad, and
necessity of weakening the Force by sending back General Tytler's
Brigade which Sir S. Browne has recalled.


" I have, therefore, felt myself bound to make a somewhat hasty
settlement, but I trust it may, nevertheless, be lasting."

This hasty settlement was based on the restitution of some camels
stolen by the Zakka Khel in recent raids in the Khyber, and an under-
taldng on their part to send two representatives to Jellalabad to lay
before Major Cavagnari their claim to a portion of the subsidy promised
by the Indian Government to all tribes possessing land in the Passes ;
and even these tokens of submission were qualified by the declaration
of the headmen that " they were unable long to restrain the mixed
inhabitants of the country from acts of hostiHty." This warning
probably referred to the state of things then existing in the Bazar
Valley, but it contained a truth of wider application. Among all the
independent Tribes the power of the Chiefs is small, the licence
claimed, or exercised by individuals, very large. As a clan, the
Zakka Kliel had at no time opposed the British occupation of the
Khyber, but bold and stirring spirits among them had been busy cutting
telegraph wires, plundering convoys, and murdering camp-followers ;
and this they were likely to do on every favourable opportunity,
whatever arrangements their headmen might come to with the British
Political Officers.

On the 2nd of February, when terms had been settled and the
return of the three columns fixed for the morrow, General Maude
received from the Quartermaster-General the following answer to his
telegram asking for explicit orders : —

" The instructions of Government regarding avoiding collision
with people of Afghanistan are accepted as general and applicable
more particularly to tribes which have hitherto been directly under
Afghan rule. Your Expedition was undertaken entirely on the advice
of the local and pohtical authorities with a view of more efficiently
controlUng the Khyber and its Tribes. Mr. Macnabb, invested with


full political authority, has been directed to join you at once, and, on
consultation with him, you are left entirely free to act on your own
judgment in carrying out the intention for which the Expedition was

No better man that Donald Macnabb could have been selected to
assist General Maude with his counsel and influence, and it was reason-
able that the latter, after consultation with his new adviser, should be
accorded complete freedom " to act on his own judgment in carrying
out the intention for which the Expedition was planned" ; but the
adviser and the permission came too late : the time-limit and the
recall of Tytler's Brigade, between them, had killed the Expedition ;
and though the former was now virtually cancelled, it would have
been a breach of faith to persist in entering Bara after an agreement
had been come to with its inhabitants. So, early on the 3rd of
February, the Force broke up, each column returning to its starting-
place. On the 4th, General Maude met Mr. Macnabb at Ali Masjid,
and had the satisfaction of hearing from his own lips that he considered
the solution arrived at satisfactory under the circumstances ; whilst
on the 5th, the telegraph brought him the assurance of the full approval
of the Commander-in-Chief.^

There were no engagements to which names can be given, in the
Second Bazar Expedition, any more than in the First ; but there was
constant skirmishing, in which five men were killed, and one Officer,
Lieutenant H. R. L. Holmes, and seventeen men were wounded.^

1 The same day Maude received a letter from Macnabb, in which he wrote
that he was svire the Government would be very glad that the Bazar Expedition
terminated without a serious collision with the Afridis, for he had got a telegram,
on returning home the previous night, saymg that they particularly wanted to
avoid anything of the kind, if consistent with military exigencies.

2 " It is highly interesting to note the result of this short Expedition, without
tents, on the Kliyber Hills. The 17th were a singularly fit regiment, and for


The loss in life to the Zakka Khel was far larger, and much suffering
must have been inflicted on the women and children of the Bazar
Valley by their hasty flight to the hills in mid- winter.

In his report to Government of the 13th of February, General
Maude, whilst admitting that " the operations in Bazar did not afford
the troops opportunities for the display of much gallantry," claimed
that " both Officers and men showed themselves possessed of high
military qualities," and that " all ranks gave proof of the greatest
anxiety to meet the enemy on all occasions " ; and he spoke warmly
of the " gallant and devoted spirit of those of the men who ran the
gauntlet of the enemy carrying letters. It was in rescuing one of
these, that Lieutenant R. C. Hart, Royal Engineers, won the Victoria
Cross whilst serving with a Comj)any of the 24th Native Infantry,
under Captain E. Stedman, engaged in covering the rear of the convoy
of supplies that arrived in camp on the 31st of January. The con-
voy had cleared the hills and entered on the plain, when, half a mile
in its rear, post-runners, escorted by troopers of the 13tli Bengal
Cavalry, came cantering down the defile, and were fired on by the
Afridis who had been l3ang in wait for the convoy, but had not dared
to attack it. The sound of shots attracted the attention of the cover-
ing party, and, looking back, they saw one of the troopers lying
wounded on the ground, and some twenty Afridis rushing do^vn the
hill towards him. Lieutenant Hart instantly ran to the assist-
ance of the defenceless man, followed by Captain Stedman and six
men. He so completely outstripped them that when he reached the
trooper, whom the Afridis had already surrounded and were slashing
with their knives, he was alone. At his ajaproach the murderers ran
off to a little distance and opened fire ; but Hart had already dragged

several days after their return did excellently well ; but when the excitement
passed off, the wear and tear and the exposure to the biting cold began to tell,
and 31 cases of pneumonia resulted, with 11 deaths." — "Recollections of the
Afghan Campaign of 1878, 1879, and 1880," by Surgeon-Major J. H. Evatt,
Journal of the United Service Institution of India, 1890, vol. xix. No. 82.


the wounded man behind a rock, where the two remained till Captain
Stedman and his party came up and drove oflf the enemy. The trooper
died whilst being carried into camp.


Observation I. The first Expedition recorded in this chapter
was uncalled for and unwise. By interfermg in the domestic quarrels
of the Mohmands, Cavagnari turned the whole tribe into enemies, and
compelled Sir S. Browne to waste the strength of his troops in exhaust-
ing and futile operations.^

Observation II. There was good gromid for the Expedition
against the Shinwaris, but no excuse for burning down two of their
villages, and turning their women and children adrift in midwinter.
The proper punishments to be inflicted on a community which, by
refusing to surrender a criminal, associates itself with his crime, are
(a) fines ; (6) confiscation of arms ; (c) the blowing up of towers. These
fall directly on the men of the tribes, and only indirectly affect its
women and children. The two former penalties have the advantage
of being revocable, for the hope of obtaining their full or partial
remission may sometimes lead the tribal authorities to the act of sub-
mission originally demanded of them.

Observation III. The Second Bazar Expedition, like the First,
was admirably planned, with one exception, for which General Maude
cannot be held responsible — namely, the unsupported advance of
Tytler's force from the distant bases of Dakka and Basawal, through
a wild hill-country, where, had the enemy possessed a spark of military
ability, it might easily have been overwhelmed. This movement was
arranged by Cavagnari with Sir S. Browne, but its real authors were
the Viceroy and his Government, who kept the 2nd Division so

1 The relations between Cavagnari and Sir S. Browne are somewhat obscure.
Nominally, the latter had been invested with full poHtical powers ; practically,
they would seem to have been exercised entirely by the former, who corresponded
direct with the Government of India.


weak that its Commander had not sufficient troops to carry out single-
handed the behests of the Political Officer to whom they had sub-
ordinated him. The Reconnaissance of the 28th of January was also
an excellent military movement. The covering party, whilst not so
numerous as unduly to weaken the camp, was large enough to enable
General Maude to force his way, against strong opposition, to a point
from which he could get a view of the passes into Bara, and to feel the
strength of the enemy, knowledge without which he would have been
unable to form a true estimate of the opposition that he must expect
if the advance into Bara were persisted in.

Observation IV. The two Bazar Expeditions were merely
episodes in the Kliyber campaign, but episodes which deserved to be
told in detail ; partly, because, as military operations, they were con-
ducted on right principles, with a due regard to the fact that Bazar
was an enemy's country, praise which must be denied to much of the
strategy and the tactics displayed in both phases of the war ; partly, for
the sake of several points which they suggest for consideration. The
first of these is the vexed question of the relations between Mihtary
Commanders and Political Officers, a question which they go far to
settle, since they are an object-lesson in the disadvantages and dangers
of divided authority. Here was General Maude, a man of mature
years, of great experience and ability, burdened with responsibility
for the safety of the communications of the whole Khyber Force— com-
pelled to take his orders from men, his inferiors in age, standing and
experience. Bound by the Letter of Instructions, which he had
received immediately after assuming the command of the 2nd
Division, he carried out with singular loyalty the schemes of the
Political Officers ; but how inopportune, how foolish such raids into
outlying valleys must have appeared to him, may be gathered from the
fact that during the whole time occupied by the second Expedition
he had to leave many of the guards and pickets in the Kliyber standing,
reliefs not being available. Maude knew the hard work his troops had


to perform, and the hardships to which they were subjected, for he
had to take daily anxious thought for their health and efficiency.
Major Cavagnari was ignorant of these matters, and indifferent to
them. Altogether absorbed in his own schemes, he seems never to
have asked himself — " Is the 2nd Division strong enough in num-
bers, strong enough in health, to be able to spare a thousand, or two
thousand, men for a week, or a fortnight, or a month, or whatever the
length of time necessary to occupy the Bazar and Bara Valleys until
all opposition is at an end ? " And what were the objects which he
deemed sufficiently important to justify him in weakening the com-
munications of an Army, and doubling the work of overtaxed troops ?
The Expeditions were intended to bring about the submission of the
Zakka Khel, to avenge " outrages committed by them during a period of
over half a century," and to strengthen" the Political Officer's arrange-
ments with the Khyber Afridis. It is not too much to say that no
man who had to bear both the political and the military responsibility
for his actions, would have engaged in either Expedition on any such
grounds. Feeling the heavy pressure of the present, he would have
had no room in his mind for the petty offences of the past, and he would
have trusted to severe and summary measures in the Kliyber to keep
the Zakka Khel and all the robber tribes in order. What was really
wanted to check their raid.s — and beyond tliis there was no need for
their submission to go — was not punitive expeditions to Bazar or Bara,
or any other valley whose inhabitants had a natural hereditary
tendency to possess themselves of other people's camels ; but sufficient
regiments in the Pass to make camel-raiding an altogether dangerous
amusement. Yet General Maude, from whom so much was expected,
asked in vain for a regiment to replace the SLst Foot which he had had
to send back to India " saturated with malaria." Political Officers
are useful and necessary to furnish the General to whose force they are
attached, with information and advice, supposing them to know the
country in which war is being waged, better than he does, and to act as


intermediaries between liim and its inhabitants ; but when it comes to
military measures, great or small, only he who will be held accountable
for their failure, should they fail, can justly be invested with the power
to initiate, control, and end them. There may be safety in many coun-
sellors, but there is nothing but weakness and blundering to be got
out of many heads. In the field, a Commander should be an autocrat ;
if a bad one, the remedy is not to give him a civilian, or, what is worse,
a comparatively junior Military Officer as his master, but to recall him,
and put a better man in his place.

The second point raised by the Bazar Expeditions is the wisdom of
taking the Khyber tribes into some form of alliance with the Indian
Government. Major Cavagnari seems to have been fairly satisfied
with the arrangements made with them, but they amounted to very
little, and the good got out of them could have been obtained in a much
simpler and cheaper way. Had there been a really efficient British
Force between Dakka and Peshawar, there would have been no need
for this elaborate system of holding the passes through their own
tribes, a system which kept them constantly on the skirts of the army,
and gave them the opportunities of thieving, under pretext of pro-
tecting. An extra British or Native regiment would have been
worth far more to the safety of Browne's communications than three
hundred and thirty-five Jezailchies, and a handful of treacherous

The third point which the Bazar Expeditions suggest for considera-
tion, is the question why the Government which subordinated a General
Commanding in the field to a Political Officer, and trusted so blindly
to that Officer's judgment and knowledge that it took no trouble to
form any opinion as to the justice and good sense of his schemes, but
actually desired General Maude to attack Chura— a friendly village ^ —
or any other locality at his bidding— why this Government did not

1 See Chapter V.


choose tlie best man so fill so invidious a position. It is impossible
that the Viceroy and his Council should not have known that Mr.
Donald IVIacnabb was, of all men living in India at that time, the one
most conversant with Border affairs, and possessed of most mfluence
with the Border Tribes. He yvas a civilian of long experience, of ripe
judgment — too well kno\\Ti in India to require to advertise himself
by showy undertakings ; too well known to the Afridis to need to fear
that, in him, moderation and patience could be mistaken for weakness
and timidity. If General Maude was to have a superior, that superior
should have been the Civilian Commissioner of Peshawar, not the
Military Deputy Commissioner, with his soldier's instincts still strong
within him, and no military responsibility to hold them in check ;
a man whom Lord Lytton's favour had suddenly raised into notice,
and who was, not unnaturally, eager to achieve such personal dis-
tinction as should justify his elevation. Then why was Macnabb left
at Peshawar, and Cavagnari appointed Political Officer in the Khyber 1
The answer is not far to seek. Macnabb was known to disagree with
the Afghan policy of the Viceroy, whilst Cavagnari was its enthusiastic
supporter. So the comparatively untried man went to the front,
and the tried man was kept in the background, till the former having
brought the Government face to face with danger, the latter was asked
to conjure it away. Fortunately, Macnabb's services were not re-
quired in Bazar, and it was only in April, when Cavagnari was sent
to Gandamak to negotiate a treaty with Yakub Khan, that the manage-
ment of affairs in the Khyber fell into the hands of the man who ought
to have been entrusted with them from the beginning.

Lastly, it is worth noting that these Bazar Expeditions, though
avowedly punitive in their nature, and directed against a tribe that
really had been guilty of offences against us, were not stained by any
acts of wanton cruelty. The reports both of General Maude and of
Captain Tucker bear witness to the fact that, where the destruction
of villages is spoken of, nothing more was meant than the bloA\ang up


of the towers which are their defence. The only houses burned were
those to which the inhabitants themselves set fire ; and, though large
stores of boosa and grain were destroyed, or seized for the use of the
troops, there was none of that injuring of fruit-trees and blowing up
of wells which inflict permanent injury on a district. Judged both
from the poHtical and the military standpoint, there should have been
no Bazar Expeditions ; but since they were undertaken, it is a satis-
faction to be able to say of them, that they were conducted in a manner
which reflects no discredit on the humanity of the authorities con-


Alarms and Excursions

The reports of the 28tli of January, which had obliged Sir S. Browne
to ask for the return of Ty tier's Force, were of a very disquieting nature.
Mohmands and Bajauris were said to have fraternized ; the Mir
Akhor, assisted by local mullas, was preaching a Jehad amongst the
Shinwaris and Ghilzais ; ^ whilst the Lagmani had already given proof
of their ill-will by firing on British reconnoitring parties. On the 2nd
of February came news that twenty thousand armed Mohmands and
other tribesmen had been actually seen in the mountainous country
near the Kunar River, and that the friends of the headmen captured
at Shergarh were inciting them to attack Jellalabad. At first, Browne
contented himself with sending out reconnoitring parties in all direc-
tions, and with strengthening his own position which was far from
strong — for a cluster of villages commanded his commissariat lines, and

^ " The Ghilzais may, roughly speaking, be said to inhabit the country
bounded by Khelat-i-Ghilzai and Poli on the south, the Gulkoh range on the
west, the Suliman on the east and the Kabul River on the north. In many places
they overflow these boundaries, as to the east, they come down into the tribu-
taries of the Gomal, and, on the north, they in many places cross the Kabul River
and extend to the east, along its course, at least as far as Jellalabad. This
country is about 300 miles long and 100 miles broad in its southern portion, and
35 miles in the northern." (SiK Charles Macgregor. )

Broadfoot estimated the number of the Ghilzais at 100,000 families, and
Masson put do\\^l their fighting strength at 35,000 to 50,000 men. On the
approach of danger the men hastily gather together their flocks, take up strong
positions on the hills behind stone walls, and fight well, their women-folk bring-
ing them ammunition, food and water, and not infrequently fighting by their


gardens which might afford good slielter to an enemy, lay between
his camp and the town ; but the time had come for assuming the
offensive when, on the 6th, Captain W. North, who commanded the
Sappers at Gidi Kach, on the right bank of the Kabul River, ten miles
from Jellalabad, telegraphed that, on the opposite bank, five thousand
footmen and fifty horsemen had passed wdthin eye-shot of that post.
The British Commander's plans were quickly made, and, very early next
day, he sent out Macpherson, with four guns, Hazara Mountain Bat-
tery, and twelve hundred men, consisting of one troop 10th Hussars,
one squadron 1 1th Bengal Lancers, one wing 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade,
one wing 4th Gurkhas, one wing 20th Punjab Infantry, and two com-
panies 1st Sikh Infantry, to attack the raiders. At the same time, he
despatched Colonel Charles Gough to watch the fords at Ali Boghan,
with two guns F. C. Royal Horse Artillery, a squadron of the 10th
Hussars, and one of the 11th Bengal Lancers, and ordered Tytler, with
three guns 11-9 Royal Artillery, a squadron of the Guide Cavalry, and
a wing of the 1-1 7th Foot to move up the river from Basawal to Char-
deh, opposite Goshta, through which place the enemy were known to
have passed, with a view to intercepting them, should they try to
retrace their steps.

Online LibraryH. B. (Henry Bathurst) HannaThe second Afghan war, 1878-79-80 : its causes, its conduct and its consequences (Volume 2) → online text (page 16 of 32)