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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much heavier had not the firing been heard in Jamrud, and the
45th Sikhs, supported by a company of the 9th Foot, been hurriedly
despatched to the scene of action. Appleyard quickly recaptured


the Shahgai Heights, and, on the 30th, retahated on his assailants
by sending three companies of Infantry, a Mountain Battery, and
a small body of " FriendHes " to destroy Kadam, a village over-
looking the Jam plain, whose inhabitants were known to have taken
a chief part in the recent outrages. Cavagnari, who had hurried
down from Dakka to try what his influence could do towards checking
the disaffection that was spreading through the Tribe which he had
been at such pains to detach from its allegiance to the Amir, accom-
panied the expedition ; but the Afridis, who had removed their women
and children and their household goods to a place of safety, would
neither negotiate nor fight, and, as the troops had forgotten to bring
a supply of powder, they had to content themselves with burning
the roofs of the houses, leaving their walls and watch-towers standing

Appleyard's prompt action somewhat reheved the tension of
the situation. The convoys that had returned to Jamrud, started
out once more, and there was no longer reason to fear that the troops
at Dakka would be left without food ; but, between Ali Mas j id and
Dakka, the marauders were as active as ever, and every convoy
paid its toll to the wild lords of the land. Up and down the Pass,
hundreds of hapless transport animals were ever on the move;
yet, toil as they might, it seemed impossible to do more than keep
the troops fed from day to day.^ In the hope of obtaining local
supphes, if only of forage for the horses, Browne, on the 1st of Decem-
ber, threw forward portions of Macpherson's, Jenkins's and Gough's
Brigades to Basawal, ten miles west of Dakka. To connect this ad-

1 On the 7th December, Colonel J. Hunt, Principal Commissariat Officer, wrote
to Sir S. Browne that he feared little progress was being made with the collecting
of supplies at Peshawar, for the stores at Jamrud had decreased. A few days
later. Hunt reported that the camels were going to ruin in the Pass, and unless
he could get them back to the plains for a fortnight's grazing, a fresh lot would
be wanted in the spring, and the rotting carcases of the thousands that would
die in the Pass must breed a pestilence.


vanced guard with the main body of his force, he entrenched a detach-
ment of Infantry on the summit of the narrow rocky Khud Khyber
Defile.^ Still further to reduce the strain on his Commissariat, he
sent his most sickly regiment, the 14th Sikhs, back to India. But
the same causes which led him to desire to diminish the number of
mouths for which he must provide, forced him to add to their number,
and ten days' experience having convinced him that, although the
Amir's troops had disappeared for good, he was none the less en-
camped in an enemy's country, he telegraphed, on the 1st of December,
to the Government of India for reinforcements. That night, General
Maude at Nowshera was roused from sleep by an aide-de-camp, bring-
ing a telegram which directed him to despatch instantly two Infantry
regiments in support of Browne's communications. The selected
regiments— the 5th FusiUers and the Mliairwarra BattaUon— started
at daybreak of the 2nd, and marched with such goodwill that they
reached Hari Singh-ka-Burj, half-way between Peshawar and Jamrud,
the same evening, the distance being thirty-one miles. But whilst
asking for help, Browne continued to take vigorous measures for
clearing his communications. On the day that he telegraphed for
reinforcements, he had sent a column under General Tytler to co-
operate with a smaller force, furnished by Appleyard, in punishing
the Zakka Khel, the most troublesome section of the Afridis. The
1 The disposition of the troops west of the Khyber Pass after the advance
to Basawal, was as follows : —

Half Battery R.H. Artillery.
No. 2 Peshawar Mountain Battery.
10th Hussars.
Guides Cavalry.
4th Battalion Rifle Brigade.
4th Gurkhas.

Dakka Forte.
Half Battery R.H. Artillery.
Guides Infantry.
Ist Sikhs.


two columns entered the Lala Beg Valley from either end, and,
between them, levelled the fortified walls of its numerous hamlets
to the ground ; but, as had been the case at Kadara, the inhabi-
tants were forewarned, and only empty huts remained to suflFer the
vengeance of the harassed and embittered invaders. Large numbers of
armed Tribesmen watched from the hills the destruction of their homes,
and exchanged shots with the troops ; but the casualties on either side
were few, and the Zakka Khel soon resumed their troublesome
tactics, with appetite for plunder whetted by the desire to make
good their losses.

It was well for the troops in Dakka at this time that casualties were
few, for if many wounded had been added to the rapidly growing
number of the sick, the hospital arrangements there must have com-
pletely broken down. As it was, they were inadequate enough,
consisting, for the first fortnight, merely of a temporary hospital
organized by Surgeon-Major Creagh from his Battery equipment ; and,
when, on the 8th of December, a fifty-bed Division of the Field Hospital,
under Surgeon-Major Evatt and Surgeon Shaw, Medical Staff, arrived
from Ali Masjid, as regards service it was quite defective, being
without hospital sergeant, writer, and European orderlies, whilst
to use Evatt's own words, "its Native establishment was wretchedly
bad— literally and actually the lame, the halt, and the blind; as
Falstaffian a corps as any man could ever see." The diseases to
which this imperfect instrument had to minister, were due in part,
of course, to exposure and incessant harassing work, but still more
to the nature of the vaUey in which Dakka is situated. A low-lying
basin, surrounded by peaked hills from two to four thousand feet
in height, it is fiercely hot in summer, cruelly cold in Avinter, and
subject to floods, which have not even the grace to impart fertility
to the lands they devastate, but, in subsiding, leave nothing behind
them but fever, and an efflorescence of soda (reh) that sterilizes and
impoverishes thejsoil.

The Occupation of Jellalabad


The Commander-in-Chief, Sir F. Haines, had no intention of Umiting
the response made to Sir S. Browne's request for reinforcements to
the despatch of a couple of regiments, and his arguments in favour
of moving up the whole of the 2nd Division of the Peshawar Valley
Field Force, prevailed over the Viceroy's unwiUingness to recognize
the necessity of a measure so far exceeding the limits of the programme
to which he had given his sanction some weeks before. Lord Lytton's
consent once obtained, no time was lost in giving effect to it. A very
few hours after the departure of the 5th Fusiliers and the Mhairwarra
Battahon from Nowshera, Maude received a second telegram from
the Adjutant-General at Lahore directing him to assume command
of all troops in the field, as far as and including the Ali Masjid garrison,
in addition to those of the Second Division ; to endeavour to keep
open the Pass, strengthening the troops in advance if required, and
fortifying all commanding positions and posts with sangars (breast-
works) ; to act in conformity with the views of the Pohtical Authorities,
and, if considered advisable by the Political Officer, to attack Chura or
other locality ; to clear the Pass of aU animals not required, also cavahy
not actually employed, whilst the heavy artillery might be placed in
position ; to urge on the supply of provisions and stores for the front ;
to telegraph daily to the Adjutant-General ; and, lastly, to keep down
all unnecessary excitement.


On the 5th of December, General Maude with Head Quarters of
Division, arrived at Jamrud, where his first business was to re-organize
his Force. The following table shows its composition after that process
had been completed, and the various changes which took place in
it during the campaign.


Lieutenant - General F. F. Maude,

V.C., C.B Commanding Division

Captain F. W. Hemming .... Aide-de-Camp

Captain A. Leslie Orderly Officer

Major G. Hatchell Assistant Adjutant-General

Lieutenant-Colonel M. Heathcote

(joined 15th December, taken away

6th February) Assistant Quarter-Master-General

Major A. A. Kinloch Deputy Assistant Quarter-Master-

Captain S. Brownrigg Deputy Assistant Quarter-Master-

Colonel Hon. D. Fraser, C.B. . . . Commanding Royal Artillery
Major C. A. Sim (officiating till end

of January) Commanding Royal Engineers

Lieutenant-Colonel Limond (from

beginning of February) .... Commanding Royal Engineers
Colonel C. M. Macgregor, C.S.I.,

CI-E. Deputy Quarter-Master-General in

charge of communications

Major Dyson Laurie Assistant in charge of communications

Surgeon-Major J. A. Hanbury (joined

in January, 1879) Principal Medical Officer

Colonel W. C. R. Mylne (health broke

down about April) Principal Commissariat Officer

Major N. R. Bm-lton (succeeded

Colonel Mylne) Principal Commissariat Officer

Rev.A.N.W.Spens (joined 15th March) Chaplain

Colonel B. Soady Superintendent Transport

Lieutenant B. E. Spragge .... Superintendent Army Signalling

Major P. FitzGerald Gallwey . . In charge of Field Park

Captain W. F. Longbourne . . . Provost Marshal

Lieutenant C. J. R. Hearsay , . . Field Treasiu-e Chest


Brigadier- General J. E. Michell, C.B. . Commanding Cavalry Brigade and

second in command of Division

Lieutenant C. T. W. Trower . . . Aide-de-Camp

Captain M. G. Gerard Brigade Major

Brigadier- General F. S. Blyth . . Commanding Ist Infantry Brigade

Captain W. C Farvvell Brigade Major

Brigadier-General J. Doran, C.B. . . Commanding 2nd Infantry Brigade

Lieutenant H. Gall Aide-de-Camp

Captain X. Gwynne Brigade Major

Brigadier-General F. E. Appleyard,

C.B Commanding 3rd Infantry Brigad*

RoYAii Artillery

D— A Royal Horse Artillery . . . Major P. E. Hill

H— C Royal Horse Artillery . . . Major C. E. Nairne. (This Battery sent

back 6th May in consequence of diffi-
culty in bringing up forage)

C— 3 Royal Artillery Major H. C. Magenis

11—9 Mountain Battery .... Major J. R. Dyce

British Cavalry

9th Lancers Colonel H. Marshall, part of time;

Lieutenant- Colonel Cleland remainder

British Infantry

5th Fusiliers Lieutenant-Colonel T. Rowland

12th Foot Lieutenant-Colonel G. F. Walker (Regi-
ment came up in April)

25th „ Colonel J. A. Ruddell

5jgt Colonel S. A. Madden (Regiment trans-

ferred to 1st Division in March)

gjgt Colonel R. B. Chichester (Regiment sent

back in December on account of
general bad health)

Native Troops

10th Bengal Lancers Major O. Barnes (Regiment joined

Division in April)
j3th ^ „ Lieutenant- Colonel R. C. Low


Native Infantry

6th Bengal Native Infantry . . . Colonel G. H. Thompson

24th Punjab Infantry Colonel F. B. Norman

2nd Gurkhas Colonel D. Macintyre, V.C.

Mhairwarra Battalion Major F. W. Boileau

Bhopal BattaUon Colonel Forbes (half the Battalion came

up in the middle of the campaign, and
the other half later)
Two companies Madras Sappers and

Miners Major C A. Sim

The number of troops at Maude's disposal seems never to have
exceeded 6,000. He had, indeed, at one time three Brigades under
his command, but these lacked their full complement of regiments ;
and though, at the outset of the campaign, the Second Division was
fairly healthy, 3^et there soon was sickness enough among the men,
owing to the malarial nature of the country, and the arduous and
monotonous character of their duties, to keep the real strength of
the Division considerably below its nominal strength. Yet, this
curtailed Force had to maintain its own communications and those
of the First Division from Peshawar to Lundi Kotal, and, subsequently,
as far as Jellalabad, a distance of eighty- one miles ; to furnish, from
the first, a strong garrison for a partly entrenched camp at Lundi
Kotal, later on, a second for the Fort at Dakka, where there was
a large depot of commissariat and ordnance stores to guard, and a
third for the partially entrenched position at Basawal ; to hold a
number of small fortified posts erected, at intervals, along the whole
line of communications for the protection of the numerous convoys
traversing the Pass ; to provide escorts for the said convoys, which
were daily moving up from Peshawar to the front ^ ; to perform very

1 Between Ali Masjid and Lundi Kotal there were no troops, consequently the
escorts for convoys daily provided by the garrison of the former place were
reheved half-way by detachments from the latter. " The convoy duties were
very severe, commencing at daylight and lasting till dusk during the winter
months. The camels were over-worked and constantly broke down, and the


heavy fatigue duties, including, amongst other things, the construction
of a good cart road from Jamrud to Dakka, a service of much labour
and difficulty— at Ali Masjid the bed of a river had to be turned
and the road carried along a gallery in the rock ' ; and, lastly, to be
always in readiness to carry out the views of the Political Officers, by
attacking any Tribe which those officials might consider deserving of

The actual date of the order to occupy JeUalabad, was determined
by the news that the Afghan troops had evacuated that town; but
the advance of the Second Division, by aggravating the supply diffi-
culty, tended inevitably to push on the First. The hope of substantial
additions to food and forage, disappointed at Dakka and Basawal,
turned to the district lying around JeUalabad. Political considera-
tions had, however, much to do with the forward movement. Winter
which had now set in, by closing the road over the Shutargardan, had
put an end to aU thought of exercising pressure at Kabul from the
Kuram side, and, if the war was not to degenerate into a fatal farce,
the influence of our vast mihtary preparations must be brought to
bear upon the Amir and his Durbar from some other quarter.

To prepare the way for the advance which he saw to be inevitable,
Browne despatched Tytler on the 9th of December to punish the Shin-
troops in charge of them had to do the best they could to bring them on, or to
divide the loads amongst some of the stronger camels. All this took tune.
The escorts had nothing but badly cooked rations with them, and they arrived
in camp so jaded that they had no appetite, and there was not much food to
tempt them when they got in. The night duties-guards, pickets, etc.-were
numerous and trying. The stations were liable to constant attack, and therefore
the sentries guarding the camp, whether furnished by the guards round camp,
or by the pickets at some distance in advance, generally on high ground command-
ing the camp, were liable to be attacked at any moment by the Afndis, more
or fewer in number according to circumstances, who crept up to the sentries
and tried (sometimes successfully) to wound or kill them."-General Maude.

1 " This was a most creditable performance carried out under Colonel Limond,
K.E." — Greneral Maude.


waris, a powerful clan inhabiting the upper end of the Khyber, and the
valleys in the western slopes of the Safed Koh, which, at the instigation
of the Mir Akhor, had been making itself extremely obnoxious to the
troops. About the same time, he sent across the Kabul River
a reconnaissance party consisting of Major H. F. Blair, R.E., Captains
Wigram Battye, and G. Stewart of the Guides, and Mr. G. A. Scott, of
the Survey Department, to seek for a second road to the plains for
the use of the convoys, in case the disaffection of the Afridis should
grow so serious as virtually to close the Khyber against them, and
also to ascertain exactly how he was likely to stand with the Moh-
mands, when their power to harm him would be increased by a
movement which must place them in his rear, as well as on his flank.

Tytler's expedition met with no resistance, and though it failed to
capture the Mir Akhor, the destruction of the strongly fortified village
of Chenar quieted the Shinwaris for a time. The reconnaissance
party, after an absence of several days, returned with the news that
the Mohmands were apparently well disposed towards the British
Government, and that an alternative route debouching at Michni,
had been discovered, but one so circuitous, difficult, and dangerous
that nothing would be gained by substituting it for the Khyber as
a line of communication, even apart from the obvious consideration
that such a change would necessitate the transfer to Michni of the
great depot, so laboriously formed at Jamrud.

These and many other prehminaries accomplished, Sir Samuel
Browne handed over the command at Dakka to Tytler, and started
for Jellalabad on the 17th of December, with Macpherson's, Jenkins's
and Gough's Brigades. His march was unopposed and uneventful. The
road as far as Chardeh was fairly good, but between Chardeh and Ali
Baghan almost impassable, so thickly was it strewn with boulders ;
water, too, proved scarce, and the great variation in temperature —
60° between daybreak and midday — told severely both on the troops
and the transport animals. The final march from Ali Baghan to


Jellalabad, was short and comparatively easy, the last three miles,
over partially cultivated plains.

The impression produced by Jellalabad on its new garrison was
not favourable. Though the capital of a district, the houses were
small, mean, and wretchedly built of sunburnt bricks ; the streets
nothing better than badly paved lanes, filthy and malodorous. The
fortifications destroyed by General Pollock's order in 1842, still lay
in the ruins to which he had reduced them. Trade and manufactures
there were none, and the resident population did not exceed three
thousand, though it had been recently swelled to a much larger figure
by the return of numerous shepherd families from their summer
quarters in the hills. The scenery, sternly grand at the time of year
when the invaders first beheld it, grew into unsurpassable beauty
a few months later, when spring had added the charm of blossom and
tender green to the wilder features of the landscape — towering moun-
tains, vast snow fields, broad belts of dark-hued pine — but from the
Commissariat Ofiicer's point of view the valley was disappointing,
its cultivated area being pretty strictly confined to a broad flat band
on either side of the rapid Kabul River, and to similar, narrower strips,
bordering the water-courses that drain the lateral valleys, formed by
the spurs thrown off by the Safed Koh. The climate for the first
few weeks, showed the new-comers its better side ; the temperature,
though cold at night, being just pleasantly warm by day ; but in
January severer weather set in, accompanied by snowstorms that
brought much suffering to the shelterless followers and transport
animals, whilst, at uncertain intervals throughout the period of the
British occupation, dense clouds of dust, blown from the sandy wastes
at the eastern end of the valley by the terrible Simoom, involved the
whole camp in darkness and misery.

The very day of his arrival at Jellalabad, Sir S. Browne entered
upon a repetition of the labours which had engrossed him at Dakka.
Once again, sanitary conditions had to be introduced into a town which


knew nothing of sanitation, and a camp to be fortified and drained.
Once again, there was a hospital to organize, cavalry posts to establish,
great sheds for the shelter of stores to erect, and communica-
tion between the two banks of the Kabul River to secure, this time
l)y the construction of a wooden bridge, four hundred and seventy-two
feet long. And, over and above all these things, there lay upon the
Commander of a Force, now encamped at a point eighty-one miles from
its base, the responsibility of providing the daily bread of a large body
of men and animals, and of filling the store sheds with the reserve of
food without which the further advance that might one day be
demanded of him, would be an impossibility. Upon this ceaseless
round of duties which distant critics eager for news of battles fought,
too often characterize as inaction, the year 1878 closed for Sir S.
Browne, and the Staff which shared his anxieties and his work, the
only military movement in which the First Division took part during
the interval, being one to which Browne had given his sanction before
leaving Dakka, and in which a column under Tytler co-operated with
a larger force belonging to the Second Division.


There can be no doubt that the Second Division of the Peshawar
Valley Field Force was too weak for the work expected of it, and its
Commander was right in pointing this out and in asking for reinforce-
ments ; his requests, nevertheless, were persistently refused by the
Government, sometimes on the score of expense, sometimes on the
plea that there were no regiments available. Now, war is always a
costly game, and it is quite possible that there were no troops to
spare ; but the vaHdity of the excuses offered only accentuates two
truths which have already been insisted on : the first, that Lord
Lytton rushed into a big war without counting its cost, and without
making the needful preparations for bringing it to a successful issue ;


the second, that lie frittered away upon three long lines of advance
the troops and transport which would not have been too numerous if
concentrated on one.^ ^

1 The minimum number of troops required to properly guard the commtini-
cations of an army, in a mountainous country, is 100 men per mile, and
Maude's force was, at least, two thousand short of that minimum. — H.B.H.

^ Though there may have been no reinforcements to send. Government
certainly had at its disposal oflficers quaUfied to fill Staff appointments, and its
poverty did not justify it in leaving General Maude without his full authorised
Staff, under circumstances which called for a large addition to its strength. —

The First Bazar Expedition

There was one part of liis Instructions which General Maude viewed
with grave dissatisfaction. He would have welcomed the advice of
a capable and experienced civil officer, such as Mr. Donald Macnabb,
but he felt very strongly the impropriety of subordinating him, in
matters involving field operations, to a young military officer in civil
employ ; more especially, as the latter was not on the spot for dis-
cussion and consultation, but many miles away and absorbed in other
matters. He had grave doubts, too, as to the wisdom of undertaking
expeditions into unknown valleys whilst the daily routine work of
keeping the Passes open was so heavy; nevertheless, he loyally
accepted the restriction imposed upon his freedom of initiative, and
before leaving Nowshera, forwarded to Cavagnari a copy of the
Adjutant-General's telegram of December 2nd, and asked to be favoured
with the Pohtical Officer's views as to the advisability of attacking
" Chura, or any other locality." On the 1 1th of December, he received
a reply in which Major Cavagnari, after referring him to his assistants,
Mr. A. F. D. Cunningham at Jamrud and Captain L. H. E. Tucker at Ali
Masjid, for information and assistance, expressed the opinion that the
conduct of the Zakka Khel of the Bazar and Bara Valleys, caUed for their
punishment, as soon as the military arrangements would allow of the
work being taken in hand, but that the Malikdin Khel of Chura were
professedly friendly, and he could see no reason for meddhng with
them. The foUowing day. General Maude asked for further particulars
as to the proposed expedition, and received by hehograph the reply


that he was to invade Bazar in co-operation with a column from the
First Division under Tytler, and this plan, after some misunderstand-
ings and uncertainties, was finally carried out.

Being still without any map of the country, Maude had to rely for
information as to the road into Bazar, partly on Native reports—
always misleading so far as times and distances are concerned — and

Online LibraryH. B. (Henry Bathurst) HannaThe second Afghan war, 1878-79-80 : its causes, its conduct and its consequences (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 32)