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between the two principal villages, the movement was
covered by a squadron of the 5th and one of the 10th
Light Cavalry ; but though the Ooloos made some
feeble attempts to molest the British, they were re-
pulsed without a casualty on our side. The enemy
thus had a severe lesson read to them, the first of a
short but effective series that must have left an
indelible impression on the Afghan mind.

Every object having been secured, when the heights
were cleared, General Pollock withdrew from Koochlie
Khail, which was first destroyed by fire, as the force
occupying it might have been exposed to considerable
risk, unless very strongly supported. The whole
column accordingly retired upon Mamoo Khail, which
was also destroyed by fire, and the trees cut down,
or " ringed," as the General considered it of impor-
tance to hold the place which, although not on the
road to Cabul, was the enemy's original position. He
then wrote to Gundamuck for the whole camp, which
arrived in the afternoon of the following day, the 25th



346 Life of Sir George Pollock.

August. The chiefs Hadji Ali and Khyroolah Khan
fled to Cabul, attended by about sixty followers. The
British loss during these operations was comparatively
very small, and consisted of seven privates and Sepoys
killed, and forty-five wounded. The following officers
were also wounded : Captain Tait, Captain Edmunds,
H.M.'s 9th Foot, severely, Major Huish, commanding
the 26th Native Infantry, severely, and Ensign
Eobertson, of the 37th Native Infantry.

Major Smith, who participated in the action, thus
describes the operations of the day :

" General Pollock having decided on attacking the enemy, we
moved out next morning at four o'clock, with all onr force,
except six hundred men left to guard the camp. Captain Broad-
foot's irregular corps of Sappers had joined from Futtehabad
during the night, and, though exhausted by a long and fatiguing
march, took their place in the column with great alacrity.
Mamoo Khail is distant about three miles from camp, and the
road in several places extremely difficult for guns. When near
the village, General Pollock formed the troops into two columns,
each headed by a wing of the 9th. A line of cavalry were posted
in rear, and a troop of the 5th Cavalry and Tait's Irregular
Horse, formed in column on the right. In this order, covered by
skirmishers, we advanced, the enemy awaiting us in front of the
village. The right column had orders to assail the left of the
position, and the left column, under Brigadier Tulloch, with
which I was, to clear the village and move on to the fort in its
rear. Our guns opened and fired a few rounds of shrapnel and
round shot ; we pressed forward, and after a little skirmishing, in
which no great damage was done, the enemy retired before us.
We pushed on over the narrow ridges, by which alone the culti-
vated fields could be traversed. The Afghans abandoned the
village, and their whole force betook themselves with all speed to
another and far stronger position, at a fort close to the hills
called Khochlee Khail, about a mile to the right. The right



Life of Sir George Pollock. 347

column and cavalry followed them, and a tough "scrimmage" of
some duration took place, in which my chum, Captain Edmunds,
of the 9th, received a very severe wound in the foot, and Major
Huish, commanding officer of the 26th Native Infantry, was shot
through the thigh. General Pollock took post midway between
the two columns, and General McCaskill at Khoochlee Khail.
Orders were sent to Brigadier Tulloch to reinforce the right
column with two companies of the 9th, to occupy Mamoo Khail
with the remainder of his force, and to set to work ' tooth and
nail ' burning and destroying. We found ourselves in the midst
of most luxuriant vineyards ; the grapes were in perfection and
profusion, so abundant that after every officer, soldier, and
Sepoy had feasted on them to satiety, the diminution of quantity
was imperceptible.

" Meantime, the enemy having retired, contending with our
troops, higher and higher up their mountains, it was judged
advisable, as the evening approached, to withdraw from Khoo-
chlee Khail. The camp was brought over from Gundamuck,
and for some days we remained established among the richly
cultivated fields and orchards, our strength augmented by the
arrival of two squadrons of the 3rd Light Dragoons. Our loss
in this action was a total of fifty-six killed and wounded ; that
of the enemy supposed to be about equal. The pickets were
occasionally fired on, and an attempt to astonish us in the mess-
tent, with a few long juzzail shots, was made one night, but we
saw no more of the enemy. Many chiefs came in and tendered
their submission, making fair promises, even to the extent of
assuring us of provisions as far as Tezeen."

It is not a matter of surprise that success rewarded
the efforts of the British soldiers, when their leader
animated them, not only by word, but by example.
Sir Archibald Alison, in his " History of Europe/'
recounts how, at the attack on the village of Mamoo
Khail, " Pollock, at the head of a wing of the 9th,
himself forced the village amidst the cheers of the
whole army."



348 Life of Sir George Pollock.

The General having dispersed the enemy, and
punished the villagers of Mamoo Khail who had
harboured them, retired from the village on the 30th
August, and took up his position at Gundamuck, where
he busied himself in collecting supplies, and making
all the necessary arrangements for the advance on
Cabul. Lord Ellenborough, in his letters to General
Pollock of the 17th and 23rd July, did not anticipate
that he would be able to supply him with sufficient
carriage to support the march of Major-General Nott
on Cabul, according to the plan he had sketched out
for him, before, at the earliest, the 21st of September,
but he scarcely did justice to the fine spirit that
animated both the General and his troops, who were
not only willing to forego all the comforts ordinarily
supplied to any army in the field, but were content
to have marched without baggage at all, had it been
found impossible to procure cattle.

While at Gundamuck waiting for the arrival of the
remainder of his troops and supplies, Pollock or-
ganized a body of 200 " jezailchees," or matchlockmen,
for the general purpose of holding posts between it
and Jellalabad, but more particularly with the object
of securing the passage of dawks, which since his
march from Jellalabad had been detained by some
robbers, who had established themselves at Neemlah,
between his camp and that of Sale's at Futtehabad.

On the 1st September, an unexpected visitor arrived
at the British camp, in the person of Futteh Jung,
son of the late Shah Shooja, and titular king of Cabul ;



Life of Sir George Pollock. 349

he had been placed on the "musnud" by Akbar
Khan, whose tool the wretched young man had been
ever since his accession. Captain Burn and Lieutenant
Mayne, when riding out in the morning, found him
at the advanced picket, where he had just arrived,
attended by only two followers, and presenting a most
forlorn aspect in his tattered garments, and mounted
on a broken-down pony. The officers, recognizing
the prince, took him to the General's tent, who received
him kindly. A salute was also fired in his honour, and
accommodation befitting his rank was provided for
him. The unhappy prince, described as a slender and
rather good-looking young man, but neither gifted
with brains nor entitled to much respect on the score
of morality, told a pitiable story of the treatment he
had received at the hands of Akbar Khan, who
seemed to play at Cabul the part of the king-maker
Warwick in our own history. The sirdar not only
stripped him of all power, but deprived him of his
money, and, by means of threats, compelled him to
attach his seal or his signature to papers resigning all
power into the hands of his persecutor, who, having
the substance of power, contented himself with the
title of vizier. In one letter to General Pollock,
dated the 21st July, 1842, the prince had been com-
pelled to write,

" I have given to Sirdar Mahomed Akbar the full and entire
management of all my property and affairs of every description,
and have resigned to him in perpetuity full power to judge and
settle all questions on all points. Whatever arrangements he



350 Life of Sir Georye Pollock.

may make with the English Government I agree to confirm, and
no alteration shall be made."

And again,

" The arrangements which have been made with Captain Troup
and Hadji Buktear have been all approved of by me. I have dele-
gated all powers over my country and wealth to the Wuzeer
Mahomed Akbar Khan, Barukzye."

But the prince took the first opportunity to write
privately to the General :

" My friend, it will have been evident to you that in this matter
I have been compelled to act thus. I did not even know that
Captain Troup and Hadji Buktear had been sent, and I had not
the slightest knowledge of the proposals made by them. Captain
Troup is well aware of this, since we had never met, nor had any
of my confidential people been employed between us."

This letter was evidently written in a state of pain-
ful alarm. It concludes with the words,

" You must be very careful not to let it be known that I have
written to you ; since, should these villains hear of it they
would put me and my family to death."

In reply, Pollock expressed his surprise that,

" Notwithstanding his Majesty's friendship, the good- will of
the chiefs, and the unanimity of the people at Cabul, still they
cannot prevent the treachery of one man from causing dissension
between the two Governments, and that they are unable to show
their good-will to us by releasing our prisoners."

To this, on the 1st August, Futteh Jung replied :

" You express surprise at my many well-wishers not being able



Life of Sir George Pollock. 351

to find a remedy for one evil-disposed person. Yon write, ' If
this could be effected a great object would be obtained.'
Eminent in rank ! You write truly. But in a religious war a
father cannot trust his son, a son, his father." (Quoted by Kaye.)

At length Futteh Jung determined to take refuge
in Pollock's camp, but Akbar Khan, suspecting his
intention, confined him in a room in the Bala Hissar.
From hence he was delivered by one Aga Mahomed,
a man of position of the Kuzzilbashes , a tribe of
Persian extraction settled in Cabul. A hole was cut
through the mud roof of his prison by means of a
knife, and he was brought out, but, so overcome with
terror was the wretched prince, that he implored his
deliverer to carry him back to his place of captivity.
The resolution, however, of Aga Mahomed prevailed,
and he was lodged in safety in the house of the Kuz-
zilbash's aunt in the Chundarwal, the part of the city
occupied by the tribe. After lying in concealment
here for ten or twelve days, his preserver raised a few
thousand rupees by pledging his own and his mother's
property, and then started him off on his perilous
journey to the British camp. Futteh Jung got away
to the Logur country, whence he proceeded through
the passes by by-paths, often fired upon on his way,
until he arrived at the British camp on the 1st o;"
September, and found there a kind welcome, and a
consideration for his rank and evil fortune that
must have astonished him.

One morning, while at Gundamuck, General Pollock
took a strong escort, and rode out with the staff two



352 Life of Sir George Pollock.

or three miles in advance on the Cabul road. An
Afghan chief accompanied the party as guide, and
pointed out the fatal hill on which the last remnant of
H.M.'s 44th made their final stand, and were anni-
hilated during the terrible retreat of the previous
January. The General's party encountered about 100
Afghan horsemen, who retired as they approached.
In a ravine on the way several skeletons were found,
which it was not difficult, from the fair hair still
adhering to the skulls, to identify as the remains of
our slaughtered countrymen.

While at Gundamuck supplies had been pouring
into camp. There was also a profusion of fruit of
various sorts, and both officers and men luxuriated in
the unwonted delicacy. The neighbouring chiefs were
coming in and tendering their submission to the
General, and there were numerous indications that the
people of Afghanistan were beginning to understand,
from recent experience, that they had to deal with a
person whom they could neither cajole nor frighten.
General Pollock was detained at Gundamuck not only
while the commissariat officers were occupied in bring-
ing up supplies, but he was waiting for further intelli-
gence from Nott.

During the halt at Jellalabad, communications
between the gallant officers by means of " cossids," or
letter-carriers, had been frequent. In forwarding to
Nott the letter from Government of the 1st June,
which (as the reader will remember) suggested his
drawing the enemy into a position which might enable



Life of Sir George Pollock. 353



him to strike a blow, he accompanied it with the

following letter, dated

" Camp, Jellalabad, 14^ June.

" I had yesterday the pleasure to receive the original, of which
the above is a copy. It is most satisfactory, and will, I trust,
enable us to retrieve all our disasters. I cannot of course tell
what are your orders from Government, but I trust they will be
such as to enable you to co-operate with me. My plans are not
quite decided yet, but all difficulties may be said to be conquered
now that Government authorize my acting with energy. A few
hours before the receipt of the Government letter, MajorRawlin-
son's of the 31st, to Shakespear, came to hand, and this morning
I had the gratification to receive yours of the 30th ult. Most
cordially do I congratulate you on the success of your brilliant
little affair, and I trust, ere many months have elapsed, we shall
have given these Afghans several similar lessons, for their late
successes have made them very bold."

The biographer of General Nott writes of the
subject of this memoir:

" The impressions which Nott received of his brother General
from the private letters of the officers at Peshawur, were very
favourable. He was described as deserving of success, for, says
one writer, ' he is one of the most thoughtful commanding officers
we could possibly meet with. He issues now and then small short
orders, to be read at the head of regiments and companies,
telling the men to trust in him, and that he will not unnecessarily
expose them, and he backs up his protestations by giving little
things. The last boon from Government was haversacks for
the whole force.' It was natural that Nott should be anxious
to co-operate with so good a soldier as Pollock, and he was
proportionately vexed at his utter inability to stir. In the intensity
of his distress he writes to General Pollock, ' I believe I shall
go mad!' 'I ought to have been on my way to Ghuznee to
extend my hand to you, instead of which I am obliged to
make a movement on the Kojuck.' ' As far as cattle are
concerned we are nearly helpless. God knows why such delay
has occurred in -sending me money and stores. This is dreadful.' "

23 f



354 Life of Sir George Pollock.

We have seen how prompt General Pollock was in
communicating with Nott, as soon as he was apprised
of the discretionary power vested in the latter. In a
cordial letter he expressed his conviction that they
(Pollock and Nott) would " be enabled to punish those
fellows [the Cabul and Ghuznee chiefs] to their hearts'
content." He considered that Akbar Khan would
be " a capital prize, as would that rascal at Ghuznee,
and one or two more/ 5 He also requested the fullest
particulars as to the force Nott intended to take with
him to Cabul, as well, as the quantity of food and
fodder for the horses. General Pollock was now
anxiously waiting at Gundamuck for intelligence of
Nbtt's departure from Candahar, as he had heard
nothing since the brief letter of the 27th July,
though he had despatched ten messengers to the west-
ward. At length, at midnight of the 6th September,
the long-expected letters were received, and, on the
following day, the General started on his adventurous
march for the capital.

On the morning of the 7th September, he marched
from Gundamuck, with his force organized in two
divisions. The first, which he himself accompanied,
was under the immediate command of Sir Eobert
Sale, and consisted of two guns, 3rd troop, 1st Bri-
gade, Horse Artillery; six guns, Captain Abbott's
Light Field Battery ; three guns of Captain Back-
house's Mountain Train ; H.M/s 3rd Light Dragoons ;
one squadron 1st Light Cavalry; three Eissalahs,
3rd, or Tait's, Irregulars; H.M.'s 9th Foot; H.M.'s



Life of Sir George Pollock. 355

13th Light Infantry; 26th and 35th Native In-
fantry ; 5th Company Sappers and Miners ; Broad-
foot's Sappers ; and Mr. Mackeson's Pioneers. With
this division the General arrived the same day at
Soorkab, a march which, though only nine miles in
length, it took more than five hours to accomplish,
the road being extremely rough, and the guns requir-
ing assistance from the men in many places. The
farthest point attained by any portion of our Cabul
army, except the single individual, Dr. Brydon, who
alone reached Jellalabad, was a conical hill in the
neighbourhood of Gundamuck. Here the last stand
was made, of which melancholy traces were found in
the numerous skeletons strewed upon the top and
sides of the hill. From that point every mile of the
way was marked by similar memorials of massacre.
At Soorkab (Red Biver) there is a bridge, on which
the Afghans were posted when the miserable fugitives
attempted to pass ; and as the latter strove to ford
the stream below, the enemy shot them down in great
numbers. Their ghastly skeletons were found (most
of them covered by the skin hardened into a sort
of leather, the cold at the time having prevented
decomposition) lying in all the various attitudes in
which they had fallen. No hand had disturbed them
since they fell in the last sleep.

The camp at Soorkab was pitched on both sides of
a stream, in a sort of basin enclosed by hills, on which
the pickets were placed.

The second division, under General McCaskill and

23 * f



3 56 Life of Sir George Pollock.



Brigadier Tulloch, marched from Gundamuck on the
following day. It was composed of two guns 3rd
troop, 1st Brigade, and two guns 3rd troop, 2nd
Brigade, Horse Artillery ; two squadrons and head-
quarters 1st Light Cavalry ; three Eissalahs, 3rd
Irregulars ; H.M.'s 31st Foot ; right wing of the 33rd
and 60th N. I., and that portion of the Sikh Con-
tingent, 300 horse, 200 foot, 5 camel-guns, and 10 long
jezails, under Captain Henry Lawrence, which had
arrived at camp on the 6th September.

General Pollock was obliged to leave a strong de-
tachment behind at Gundamuck, owing to his old
trouble, the want of carriage cattle 50 bullocks and
600 camels, which had been despatched from Attock
and Peshawur the previous month, not having ar-
rived. In a private letter, dated the 23rd September,
he wrote :

" I have had great difficulties to contend against, even to the
last, from the great want of carriage cattle. At Gundamuck,
after my first engagement with the enemy, I found myself so
reduced in cattle that, to enable me to take on only fourteen
days' supplies, I was obliged to leave at that place two horse
artillery guns, two squadrons of cavalry, and two wings of
Native Infantry ; and yet, with all this, all the camp followers,
public and private, were compelled to carry eight days' supplies.
The fighting men carried three; the 1st Cavalry carried eight
days' supplies on their horses ;* the rest of the cavalry carried

* We remember Sir George mounted troops had in their kit a

telling us an anecdote illustrative spare pair of pantaloons apiece ;

of the straits to which he was put on learning this, he ordered the

for want of carriage. After load- legs to be tied up, and the panta-

ing all the commissariat camels to loons to be filled with grain and

their utmost carrying capacity, he carried by the men in front of

ascertained, after enquiry, that the them on their saddles.



Life of Sir George Pollock. 357

three or four days'. In this way we were enabled to move.

The night before I left Gundamuck, I received an

official letter and a survey report, setting forth that the whole of
the camels of one regiment were unserviceable, and that they
could not get up even without their loads. This was rather
provoking, for I have only three native regiments with me. My
answer was short : * Tell the commanding officer that if his regi-
ment can't march, he will relieve the two wings ordered to re-
main behind, an who are willing to go forward on any terms.'
The regiment marched, and I heard no more about their camels.
After our last engagement with the enemy (it was a severe
struggle) we had 160 killed and wounded ; and again carriage
was in requisition. The spare horses about the cavalry were
had recourse to, and I lent my own riding-horse to one poor
fellow."

Tlie troops left behind included two guns, 3rd
troop, 2nd Brigade, Horse Artillery ; one squadron
5th, and one squadron and head-quarters 10th Light
Cavalry, and the left wings of the 33rd and 60th
N. I. They were further strengthened by the re-
mainder of the Sikh Contingent, and, subsequently,
by the arrival of a squadron of cavalry and a wing
of Native Infantry from Jellalabad. An entrenched
camp was formed in a good position, easily capable of
defence, and the place became a valuable depot for
supplies.

General Pollock left Soorkab on the morning of the
8th September, and marched towards the Jugdulluck
Pass. He had not heard of the proximity of the
enemy; but presently Captain Codrington, his
Deputy Quartermaster-General, who had gone on to
reconnoitre, rode back to report that they were in
great strength. The General pushed on in advance



358 Life of Sir George Pollock.

with the guns and European infantry. On ap-
proaching the hills, wnich command the road through
the pass, he perceived their summits were occupied
by a large force, who, assembled under different
chieftains, each having a distinguishing standard,
presented a very picturesque and impressive aspect ;
while scattered about on the flank of the road at a
considerable distance, but within jezail-shot of the
column, were parties of skirmishers, whose shots
began very soon to drop among our men. The
position they occupied was one of singular strength
and difficulty of approach. The hills on either side
were studded with " sungahs," or breastworks, and
formed an amphitheatre inclining towards the left of
the road. Here the troops were halted, while the
guns opened on the enemy, who, at this point,
owing to the nature of the ground, and to an inter-
vening deep ravine, which prevented any contact with
them, were enabled to fire into the columns. The
practice of the British gunners was excellent, but the
Grhilzyes appeared so determined on making a stand,
that the bursting of the shells among them on the
right hill, which was of a conical shape and of diffi-
cult ascent, had not the effect of making them re-
linquish it, or of slackening their fire, which now
became heavy from all parts of their position, causing
several casualties. It was at this time that Captain
Nugent, officiating sub-assistant Commissary-General,
an officer who had already distinguished himself, and
had been mentioned in despatches, met his death ; a



Life of Sir George Pollock. 359

ball struck him on the head, he fell from his horse,
and died almost immediately. In reporting his
decease, the commanding General wrote :

" I had lately received the most important and valuable assist-
ance from him ; the service has lost a promising officer, and the
department to which he belonged a most efficient member."

As the artillery fire appeared to have little effect
in forcing the enemy to quit the heights, General
Pollock determined to try the efficacy of cold steel.
He was standing by the guns, and turning to Sale,
who was at his side, requested him to disperse the
enemy with his brigade. For this purpose three
columns of attack were formed. Captain Broadfoot
and his Sappers were detached to the extreme left of
the enemy's position, and commenced ascending a
steep hill, on the top of which the Ghilzyes were en-
trenched in a sungah. Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor,
with his gallant 9th, accompanied by two companies
of the 35th N. I., under Lieutenants Boileau and



Online LibraryCharles Rathbone LowThe life and correspondence of Field Marshall Sir George Pollock ...(constable of the Tower) → online text (page 26 of 40)