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them, so that we could not observe what effect on their looks
had been produced by the suffering and hardships they had un-
dergone. The male part were all " bearded like the pard," sun-
burnt to the native hue, and all wore the Afghan costume, with
the single exception of General Shelton, whose abhorrence of
that dress had induced him to adhere most perseveringly to the
garments of English fashion in which he had been captured nine
months before, and whose condition, it may be well supposed,
was now none of the most brilliant. He was cordially greeted
by his old friends of the 9th, in which regiment he passed his
early career, and in whose ranks at the storm of St. Sebastian,
he lost his arm. We had now, safe within our camp, nine ladies
and their children, thirty- three officers, and thirty-eight soldiers,
all of whom had been long in the hands of the Afghans, and
who must have often thought despairingly of their chance of
ever witnessing this happy consummation."

Among the prisoners were some of high social

20 *

404 Life of Sir George Pollock.

position, and others who attained distinction in the
cabinet or the field, and whose names are as familiar
as household words in the mouths of the Anglo-In-
dian public. Besides Ladies Sale and Macnaghten
the latter now Dowager Marchioness of Headfort
there were Major-General Shelton, and the surviving
officers and men of H.M.'s 44th Eegiment, the noble
Eldred Pottinger, the hero no less of the cantonments at
Cabul than of Herat, Captain (now Lieut. -General Sir
George) Lawrence, Lieutenant (now Major- General Sir
Vincent) Eyre, the " hero of Arrah," and the companion
in arms of Outram and Havelock at Lucknow, Cap-
tains Colin Mackenzie, and Colin Troup, whose services
have not even yet received the re ward soldiers most covet,
the ribbon of the Bath, or the Star of India ; then
there was Nicholson, who immortalized himself at the
breach of Delhi, and other brave soldiers, as Haughton,
Mein, and many more too numerous to mention. The
entire number of European prisoners and hostages
released in consequence of the advance, numbered 128
men, women, and children. Truly this was a noble
work, and the consciousness of its consummation
being due to his determination to persevere in his
efforts, was ever the chief consolation to the gallant
veteran in his declining years, when tempted to
dwell on the absence of any recognition from the
State at all commensurate with his eminent services.
On the 27th September, Captain (now General)
By grave, the last of the prisoners in Mahomed Akbar's
hands, arrived in camp, having been generously re-

Life of Sir George Pollock. 405

leased by the Sirdar without ransom, or any condition.
It should never be forgotten by those who may be still
survivors of that captivity, that their release may be said
to be due, under Providence, to General Pollock from
first to last. Lord Ellenborough, whose great desire was
to secure the safe return of the army from Afghan-
istan, was so engrossed in effecting this imperial
duty, that he considered the release of his unfor-
tunate countrymen a matter of but very minor im-
portance, and, latterly, scarce even referred to them
in his correspondence with Pollock. General Nott
cared less about the matter, and was content to leave
the honourable task of effecting their release to other
hands. General Pollock alone thought it worth
while to use his' utmost efforts to bring about the
happy consummation, and the ladies and gentlemen
who were saved from unutterable misery and woe, owe
their release to the subject of this memoir. Their
condition was ever present to his mind at Jellalabad,
and occupied his thoughts to a degree only inferior to
his solicitude for his country's honour, and it is placed
on record that but for the opportune arrival of Sir E.
Shakespear, and afterwards of Sir E. Sale, they must
have fallen into Sultan Jan's hands.

General Pollock had from the first set his face
against any plundering or other excesses of his troops,
but Nott was not equally particular on this point. He
considered every Afghan, even the Kuzzilbashes, as
our bitter enemy, and had declined to receive Khan
Shereen Khan, the chief of that friendly tribe, and

406 Life of Sir George Pollock.

Futteh Jung's new minister, and even refused to ac-
knowledge the Suddozye prince as the ruler of Cabul.
He says in a letter to his senior officer, dated the
22nd September :

" I left Candahar with sufficient supplies to take my force to
Jellalabad on full rations, but in consequence of the great delay
which has occurred at this place, I am now reduced to provisions
for seven days, exclusive of the little grain procured yesterday.
The people are not inclined to sell even at the high price offered.
I cannot see my troops, who have overcome so many difficulties
during the last four years, starve as long as supplies are in the
country, and I must therefore send parties out to seize what will
be sufficient to take my army to Jellalabad, paying for the same ;
but I cannot properly arrange unless I am made acquainted
with the probable date of our march from this place. I know
that Futteh Jung and his party will do all in their power to
keep us here as long as possible ; but what is called his party is
really the party of Mahomed Akbar, and while we are delaying
here I have no doubt they are organizing a regular system of
opposition in the passes, and unless we act with decision and
energy, throwing aside pretended friends, we shall meet with
considerable difficulty, and perhaps suffer some new disasters
from the want of provisions or the severity of the weather,
which will soon become too cold for our men, and our cattle
will perish."

There are certainly passages in this letter, in which
Nott gave advice to his superior officer that was never
solicited, and in a dictatorial tone almost unparalleled
as proceeding from a subordinate, that must have
tried even the patience and mildness of character for
which (jreorge Pollock was distinguished. Nott was
also incensed, as appears from the question he put
to Lieutenant Mayne during his interview with that

Life of Sir George Pollock. 407

officer, because General Pollock had not brought
sufficient provisions to carry him back through the
passes. Altogether the gallant old soldier was in an
exceedingly bad temper at this time, and did not
care much to make inquiries regarding the excesses
said to be daily committed by his troops. That
rumour was not far wrong in this instance, appears
from passages in Major Bawlinson's journal. The
following are the extracts referred to :

" September 19M. Our Sepoys and camp followers, taking their
cue, I fancy, from their officers, are very unruly, and commit
extensive depredations on the lands and villages near our camp,
and as the property thus plundered chiefly belongs to the Kuzzil-
bash chiefs, General Pollock, who relies mainly on these people
for the consolidation of the new government, is subject to great
embarrassment. I have a sort of misgiving that Cabul will
after all be destroyed. In the present state of feeling any
accidental quarrel would lead to a general rush upon the town,
and the Sepoys once there, massacre and conflagration would
assuredly follow. General Pollock, by proclamations of en-
couragement, has been endeavouring to persuade the Cabullers
to return to their houses and reopen their shops ; but after all
that has happened it is difficult to persuade the townspeople
that we do not aim at retribution, and the proceedings about
our camp at Char Deh are anything but calculated to allay their
suspicions. The city continues, therefore, more than half closed,
and supplies are procured with difficulty.

" September 20th. Our men have been plundering to-day as
usual about the camp, and in some scuffle which took place at
Deh Afshur, four of the Kuzzilbashes, with Khassim Khan, a
chief, were slain by the Sepoys.

" September 21st. The fort of Mahomed Murza, one of our
worst enemies, was given up to plunder, and we did not even
respect the property at Aliabad, which belongs to Gholam
Mahomed Khan, the lately appointed minister. . . . The

408 Life of Sir George Pollock.

townspeople had returned in small numbers to the town and had
reopened their shops ; but owing to the affair at Deh Afshur, I
believe a panic seized the people and every one fled, believing
that orders had been issued for a general massacre.

" September 22nd. The depredations of the Sepoys and fol-
lowers from this camp continue, notwithstanding all the efforts
that are made to repress them. The Kuzzilbashes cannot help
believing that we encourage these excesses, and, in consequence,
they are not half satisfied of General Pollock's sincerity."

Futteh Jung's minister and the chief of the
Kuzzilbashes complained in a joint letter of these
excesses, and General Pollock forwarded a translation
of the document to General Nott, who sent it back
with his comments. These were in effect denials of
the charges written, though in somewhat intemperate
language, and he concluded his remarks with an
opinion " that the writer should be instantly seized,
and punished for sending such a grossly false and
insolent statement." He also addressed the following
letter, dated " 22nd September, Camp near Cabul," to
General Pollock's Assistant Adjutant-General on the
same subject, in addition to one to the General
himself :

" I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of
this day's date, and to acquaint you that I conceive that General
Pollock, C.B., must have received some erroneous information.
No army ever moved with fewer instances of plunder than that
under my command, and not an instance of irregularity has
occurred without punishment being inflicted. The persons who
have made this complaint ought to be made to prove the truth
of what they say. I believe the enemy (I mean Futteh Jung's
party and the rest of the people) are organizing a system to
bring our men to the same state of starvation to which General

Life of Sir George Pollock. 409

Elphinstone's army was reduced, in hopes of the same results.
While I think it my duty to state this, I must declare that I
will not, to please a few Afghans, who have scarcely washed
their hands from the blood of our country, be dishonoured.
There is grain in the country, and I think it ought to be brought
in immediately, the same being paid for. General Pollock's
order shall be proclaimed through my camp immediately, but I
have not heard of a single act of plunder during the last twenty-
four hours."

Supplies came in but slowly, though the camps
revelled in fruit ; apples, pears, melons, and grapes
being abundant. The weather was also extremely
fine and pleasant, the sun still rather more powerful
than could have been wished, but the morning and
evening and night were cool and enjoyable. Those
who could manage it, had equipped themselves in the
Afghan cloak, called a postheen, made, like the in-
teguments of Mr. Bryan O'Lynn, of sheepskin, with
the wool on, and having the leathern side richly
worked. This garment is described by a gallant
officer as " very comfortable, and would afford security
against the severest cold."

In the meanwhile Ameenoollah Khan, one of the
most ferocious opponents of British authority in
Afghanistan, was collecting the scattered remains of
Akbar's forces in the Kohistan or highlands of
Cabul, to renew the struggle; as it was said he
designed to fall upon the British during their retreat,
the General determined to break up his force, and at
the same time punish the insurgents who had been
active participants in the atrocities of the previous

Life of Sir George Pollock.

winter. A strong force, taken from both Pollock's
and Nott's divisions,* was accordingly detached,
under command of General McCaskill, and the opera-
tions were crowned with the most complete success,
a result chiefly owing to the admirable strategy of
Captain Havelock, who drew up the plan of attack.
The fortified town of Istaliff, deemed so strong that
the Afghans had lodged their treasure and families
in it, was carried by assault with trifling loss,
Ameenoollah being among the first to fly. Charee-
kur, where an entire Groorkha regiment had been
slaughtered, and some other fortified places, were
also destroyed, and then the force returned to Cabul,
where they arrived on the 7th September.

But there was yet one thing more to be done.
It had been the declared wish of the Grovernor-

* When General Pollock was officers of the Cabul and Ghuznee
making arrangements for the troops who had not been surren-
march of the force to Kohistan, a dered as hostages. An anecdote
young officer, one of the late illustrative of the character of this
Ghuznee garrison, who has left his young hero, who was with his re-
mark in Indian history, by his giment at the latter fort when it
energy and activity in the Pun- was surrendered by Colonel Pal-
jaub in 1848-9, and again in the mer, is told by Rattray : " Nichol-
crisis of the Indian Mutiny En- son, then quite a stripling, when
sign Nicholson, of the 27th Ben- the enemy entered Ghuznee, drove
gal Native Infantry presented them thrice back beyond the walls
himself at his tent, and preferred, at the point of the bayonet before
with much earnestness, a request he would listen to the order given
that he might be allowed to ac- him to make his company lay
company the troops. Of course down their arms. He at length
this was out of the General's obeyed, gave up his sword with
power, as, obedient to instructions bitter tears, and accompanied his
from the Governor-General, he comrades to an almost hopeless
had placed under arrest all the imprisonment."

Life of Sir George Pollock. 411

General that the army should leave behind it some
decisive proof of its power without impeaching its
humanity. The General was undecided whether the
Bala Hissar, the citadel of Cabul, should be selected
as the memorial of England's vengeance for her out-
raged honour ; the nature and object of the act of
retributive justice was, therefore, dependent on the
constitution of the new Afghan government, and it
was long uncertain what it would be. Had General
McCaskill killed or captured Akbar Khan in the
Kohistan, Futteh Jung might have summoned reso-
lution to maintain his throne ; but with the Sirdar
at large, the pusillanimous Prince declined to wear
the crown, and implored the British General to afford
him the protection of his camp, and convey him to
India on his return. Had Nott been in power, the
mark he would have left on Cabul would have been
the entire destruction of the city, Bala Hissar and all ;
but George Pollock, being of a more merciful and
temperate nature, was unwilling to allow retribution
to run into the excess of unreasoning vengeance, and
desirous of sparing both, sent his military secretary
to the Kuzzilbash camp, which was then in the Ko-
histan, to take counsel with Khan Shereen Khan and
the other chiefs of the party.

" It seems," says Kaye, " they had been sceptical of the in-
tentions of the British General to evacuate the country ; but
Shakespear now announced that the departure of the army was
at hand, and that it was necessary finally to determine upon the
, nature of the new government. In this conjuncture, the Kuzzil-

412 Life of Sir George Pollock.

bashes, trembling for the safety of the city, and feeling that
there was little hope of their being reconciled to the Barukzye
party, laid their hands upon another puppet. There was a
younger, scion of the Suddozye house then at Cabul the Prince
Shahpoor. His mother was a high-born Populzye lady, and it
was believed that this recognition would tend to conciliate the
Douranees. Postponing, however, the final enunciation of their
views until their return to Cabul, they now proposed that the
young Prince should be set up in the place of his brother. At
Cabul a general meeting of the chiefs was held. The voice of
the assembly declared in favour of the elevation of Shahpoor.
The Prince himself, a high-spirited boy, willingly accepted the
crown that was offered to him, and a declaration to that effect
from the Wuzeer and Kuzzilbash chief was then sent into Pol-
lock's camp."

The General, in a letter to Lord Ellenborough,
detailing the negotiations regarding the succession of
Shahpoor to the throne, says :

" I received a letter, a translation of which I have now the
honour to forward, from Crholam Mahomed Khan (the minister)
and Khan Shereen Khan, the chief of the Kuzzilbashes, on the
part of several other chiefs, .avowing their determination to
support the brother of Futteh Jung (Shahpoor) on the throne
of Cabul. It was long before I could convince the chiefs com-
prising this party that they could not hope for any assistance
from the British Government, either in money or troops ; but
as they still persisted in urging me to allow the Prince Shahpoor
to remain, and as he repeatedly assured me he was anxious to
do so, I did not conceive myself authorized by my instructions
to remove him forcibly from Cabul, and only stipulated that the
British Grovernment should not be supposed to have raised him
to the throne. On the morning of the 12th October, after the
British troops had marched from Cabul, Prince Shahpoor was
put on the throne, and the chiefs took the oaths of fidelity to

After General Pollock refused the Kuzzilbash chiefs

Life of Sir George Pollock. 413

both troops and money, the question of the mark that
was to be left on Cabul came up for consideration.
They pleaded earnestly for the city and the Bala
Ilissar ; they set forth the necessity that the newly-
elected Suddozye Prince should maintain the pomp
of royalty, as his father had done ^before him, in the
palatial residence that overlooked the city ; they
pleaded the fact that the Hindostanees and Arabs,
who had ever been faithful to Putteh Jung, were all
located in the Bala Ilissar ; and, finally, they showed
that its destruction would injure chiefly those who
were least deserving of punishment. The General,
therefore, for all these reasons, consented to spare the
Bala Hissar, and ultimately fixed upon the celebrated
Char Chutter (or four bazaars), built in the reign of
Aurungzebe by the celebrated Ali Murdan Khan,
and regarded as the grand emporium of this part
of Central Asia, as the most suitable object for
destruction. Here had been exhibited the head and
mutilated remains of our Envoy and Minister to the
court of Shah Soojah, Sir William Macnaghten,
who perished by the hand of the fierce Akbar Khan
at the interview with that Sirdar on the memorable
23rd December, 1841.

Accordingly, on the 9th October, the General in-
structed his chief Engineer, Captain Abbott,* who
had joined him at Jellalabad, to demolish this mag-
nificent bazaar ; but so anxious was he not to extend
the work of destruction, that he strictly enjoined

* Now Major-General Sir Frederick Abbott.

414 Life of /Sir George Pollock.

Captain Abbott to abstain from applying fire to the
building, and even from the employment of gun-
powder, in order that other parts of the city might
not suffer from the explosions. A force of four
companies of the 31st Eegiment, and of detachments
from the native regiments, was sent under that able
officer, Colonel Eichmond, to assist the Engineers.

Captain Abbott used his utmost endeavours to
carry out the General's instructions, but the Char
Chutter was constructed with such massive strength
that the only agency by which its demolition could
be effected was gunpowder. Whatever had to be
done must be done quickly, as the season for active
operations was passing away, and winter that in-
sidious enemy to which one British army had already
succumbed was fast approaching. On his own re-
sponsibility, the Engineer officer employed gunpowder,
and the buildings marked for destruction were
speedily reduced to ruins. The operations against
the great bazaar lasted throughout the 9th and 10th
October. On its demolition, a scene of pillage and
rapine ensued which no one deplored more than the
kind-hearted, though strict disciplinarian, at the head
of the army. But there are times in which the
bonds of discipline are loosed in the best-cond acted
army, and such an one now occurred.

"The cry arose," writes Major Rawlinson, in his journal,
" that Cabul was given up to plunder. Both camps rushed into
the city, and the consequence has been the almost total de-
struction of all parts of the town, except the Gholam-Khana

Life of Sir George Pollock. 415

quarter and the Bala Hissar Numbers of people

(about 4,000 or 5,000) had returned to Cabul, relying on our
promises of protection, rendered confident by the comparative
immunity they had enjoyed during the early part of our sojourn
here, and by the appearance, ostentatiously pat forth, of an
Afghan government. They had, many of them, reopened their
shops. These people have been now reduced to utter ruin.
Their goods have been plundered, and their houses burnt over
their heads. The Hindoos in particular, whose numbers amount
to some 500 families, have lost everything they possess, and
they will have to beg their way to India in rear of our columns.
The Chunderwal has had a narrow escape. Safeguards have
been placed at the different gates ; but I doubt if our parties
of plunderers would not have forced an entrance had not the
Gholam Khana stood to their arms, and showed and expressed
determination to defend their property to the last."

Nor is it a matter for any surprise that the deeds
which wera perpetrated during those few days of
licence disfigured the closing page of this glorious
campaign ; rather, when we consider the deep and
dire provocation sustained hy the troops, European
and native alike, who, during their progress from
Gundamuck, found the entire road lined with the
ghastly skeletons and decaying remains of their coun-
trymen, should we wonder that the army lay before
the accursed city for so many weeks without exacting
any retribution for the fearful wrongs they had sus-
tained. Now, in this mad hour, guilty and innocent
suffered equally ; the unoffending Hindoo and friendly
Kuzzilbash alike with the blood-stained Cabulee, who
had returned home a few short months before laden
with the spolia opima of his hated foe.

In vain Colonel Eichmond exerted himself to re-

4i 6 Life of Sir George Pollock.

strain the infuriated soldiers and camp followers, who
were incensed to madness by the visible signs that
were so plentiful in every street of the atrocities of
the previous winter ; such as quantities of English
belts and pouches, and a profusion of wearing ap-
parel that had belonged to the officers and men of
General Elphinstone's force.

A mosque at one end of the bazaar, and another
near the cantonment, ornamented with European
materials, which the Afghans had built in commemo-
ration of their success, and called the Feringhee
Mosque, was also blown up and destroyed. It was
almost impossible to extinguish the conflagration
in which a portion of the city was involved, as
the houses were nearly all built of dry wood.
"The fire burned," writes Lieutenant Greenwood,
"during the whole time we remained encamped in
the vicinity, and we still saw it when entering the
Khoord Cabul Pass on our return."

All was now done that General Pollock had desired
to effect. The defeat and humiliation of the Afghans
was complete, and he had left his mark in the city
that had sinned' against the laws of a common
humanity. On the llth October, General Pollock
issued orders for the commencement of the return
march on the following day ; and in the evening, the
old blind king, Zemaun Shah, the brother of Shah
Soojah, whose negotiations with Tippoo and the other
native princes had, in 1798, caused Lord Wellesley
serious disquiet, together with Futteh Jung, and the

Life of Sir George Pollock. 417

late king's family, sought refuge in the British camp.
The General received them with considerate courtesy
and a respect for their misfortunes ; they were placed
under the care of Captain George Lawrence, and
accompanied the army back to India. The British
colours were now hauled down from the Bala Hissar,
the regiment posted there was withdrawn, and every
preparation made for commencing the retrograde
movement on the following day.

Life of Sir George Pollock.


Cabul to Ferozepore : 12th October to 19th December, 1842. The fetes
at Ferozepore. "Palmam qui meruit ferat." The distribution of

Online LibraryCharles Rathbone LowThe life and correspondence of Field Marshall Sir George Pollock ...(constable of the Tower) → online text (page 30 of 40)