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Campaign of the Indus by T.W.E. Holdsworth

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whole time, expecting an attack on the baggage, but we only lost a few
camels. Here we caught up the 17th and artillery, which left Dadur
before us. If our toils had been great, those of the 17th and artillery
were twice as much, as it took them two days and two nights to get the
guns through, and they were obliged to bivouack in the Pass, and were
attacked once or twice by the Ghiljees; whom, however, one section or so
easily drove off. I must now tell you that on leaving the Bolan Pass the
Kaukers &c. made their bows to us, but handed us at the same time over
to the care of their intimate friends the Ghiljees. These are a kind of
half-civilized robbers, a large clan, and abound throughout the whole of
Afghanistan. Their chief is a friend of Dost Mahomed. They gave us a
little annoyance on the road, but whenever they did so they managed to
get the worst of it. They murdered a few poor camp followers. At one
place they fired on some grass-cutters belonging to the 4th Light
Dragoons, after coming among them and talking with them in a friendly
manner, as is their usual custom, in order to ascertain what might be
the chance of an attack. A troop of that corps was immediately sent out,
with nearly all the officers. Some villagers who had been bringing
things to our camp joined the robbers, but the 4th played the d--l with
them, killing or wounding about forty, and only one horse belonging to
the 4th was wounded. Major Daly, who commands the corps, killed four men
himself with a simple bamboo hunting spear, used for killing boars. Sir
J. Keane had fourteen of them shot that had been caught stealing camels
at Quittah, one march from Siriab, where we left our sick: a brigade of
the Bengal army is quartered there.

Well; in spite of Ghiljees, Kaukers, Passes, &c., we reached Candahar on
the 4th of May, having only halted two days since we left Dadur,--pretty
good work! We were very much disappointed in the country, which is
little better than a desert, and the weather cruelly hot. I remember
very little of what occurred after I was on the sick-list, except that
on arriving at our ground at one place, after a march of eighteen miles,
we found that the natives had destroyed the well which was to have
supplied us with water,--pleasant news for a man laid up with fever; in
consequence of which they made a good profit by bringing it in for sale.
About as much as would fill two moderate-sized pitchers was sold for
half a rupee, about 14d. My European servant came and begged to be
allowed to drink the water in my basin with which I had just washed
myself, and before I could say anything, drank down the whole of it with
a zest as if it had been champagne.

We reached Candahar on the 4th, and on the 8th his Majesty Shah
Shooja-ool-Moolk was crowned, after which there was a review of all the
troops that were here by his Majesty, a grand "tomasha;" but such, I am
told, was the unpopularity of the Shah that out of the whole population
of Candahar very few persons were looking on, though the Easterns are
devoted sight-hunters. On the -- he held a levee, where every officer
had the honour of making his leg to his Majesty. I was not present at
either of these grand occasions, being at the time still on the
sick-list. I, however, had a glimpse of his Majesty the other morning as
he was taking his airing. He is a fine-looking man, with a splendid
black beard. I am told that he is a very accomplished man, but an
exceedingly bad ruler. He has written his own life, which is said to be
very interesting: I should think it must be so, as few men have
experienced so many changes of fortune as he has. You will find a very
good description of him, as well as of Cabool and Sinde, in "Burnes'
Travels in Bokhara," the present Sir Alexander Burnes, who is second in
command to Macnaghten, and a great deal with the Shah. I read also an
excellent article on this country &c. in the last December or January
number of "Blackwood's Magazine."

Another horrible murder, somewhat similar to that of Capt. Hand,
occurred here about the middle of last month. Two officers of the 16th
Lancers, Inverarity and Wilmer, went one day on a fishing excursion to a
small river about seven miles from this; several parties had been there
before on pic-nic excursions, as it was much cooler, and there were some
beautiful gardens, with lots of fruit, on the banks of the stream. There
is a slight hill to be crossed in getting to it, at the top of which is
a cut-throat narrow pass, formed out of the rock; you must pass through
it in single file, and the bottom being of rock is so slippery and rough
that it is with difficulty a horse can keep his footing on it. They were
returning home about half-past eight o'clock, when Wilmer, being rather
wrong in his stomach, got off his horse for a short time, and Inverarity
said he would walk to the top of the hill to look at the view by
moonlight; Wilmer followed in a few minutes on foot, his ghorewalla
following with his horse. On coming near the top of the hill before
mentioned, he was somewhat astonished at a large stone whizzing by his
head, and immediately afterwards about six or seven men jumped on him
out of the rocks. He had time to draw back, and received two different
cuts on his walking stick, which cut it through, and slightly wounded
him on the forehead. He managed to draw back from another, which was
made at him with such strength that the fellow fell with the force of
his own blow. Wilmer then thought it as time to cut and run, and bolted
as fast as he could with these chaps after him. They luckily, however,
stopped to rob his and Inverarity's bangies, containing their kit, which
they met his servant carrying, &c. Wilmer did not stop till he reached a
detachment of the Shah's force which is stationed there, he returned
with a party from them, and on reaching the other side of the hill found
poor Inverarity lying on the ground dreadfully mutilated; he was not
quite dead when they came up, and Wilmer says he can never forget the
convulsive shudder he gave on their arrival, taking them for the
murderers returning to finish him. He died, however, almost immediately,
merely saying, "For God's sake, look at my hands! I am afraid I am very
badly wounded." Thus fell another victim, as we all feel, to the
conciliation principle! Neither Inverarity's horse nor anything of then
kit has been since seen, though Wilmer has recovered his horse. This
will give you a pretty idea of the country we are living in. The next
day there was an order out from Sir J. Keane, in which, after giving an
account of the murder, he begged all officers never to go out into the
country on sporting expeditions unless in large parties and well armed.
The Shah and Sir John were also on the point of burning down the village
near which the murder occurred, but the political department would not
allow it. Seven or eight men were, however, taken up, though nothing
certain has been proved. They are still in chains in the town; what will
be done with them I don't know. I always have my holster pipes, and
pistols loaded, whenever I ride out, as there is nothing like being

I have little to say of Candahar, which appears to me to be just the
same as every other town I have seen in the East, very dirty, &c. It
stands in a tolerably fertile plain, with hills scattered all round it.
It is a perfect square, each side of which is nearly a mile in length;
two streets, one from north to south, the other from east to west, run
through it, and bisect each other in the centre: in these are the
different bazaars. The rest of the town, as it appeared to me as I rode
round the walls the other day, is perfectly deserted. There are double
walls to the town, entire all the way round, but I should think it could
be easily taken. A great number of the inhabitants have left it on
account of the dearness of provisions, occasioned by the hungry mouths
of so large a force as ours, and also because, on his first arrival, the
Shah wished to play some of his old arbitrary acts over again.

The Ghiljees have been at their old tricks lately, robbing some supplies
for the army, which came up by the Bolan Pass about a week ago, and
which they followed nearly into our camp. The caravan, however, was
under the charge of a right sort of fellow, the Rajah of Buhawulpoor,
who was bringing up a contingent to the Shah's force, and if any of his
camels were taken away he took two for one from the first village he
arrived at. The Ghiljees got more bold afterwards, and actually
endeavoured to walk off with the camels of the Bengal army, and five or
six were taken prisoners by some Sepoys, and one blown from a gun in the
town. They, however, killed one, and severely wounded two other unarmed
soldiers of H.M. 13th Light Infantry, who were out with the camels of
their regiment, the guard for the camels having very quietly gone to
sleep in a house. The poor fellows made a desperate fight, defending
themselves with their shoes; and one of them pulled a mounted Ghiljee
off his horse, but had his arm cut through before he could get the
fellow's sword from him: they lost a great many camels.

_June 29th_.--Well, to-morrow we are off for Cabool; I hope the country
may improve as we advance. Everybody speaks very highly of Cabool
itself--a fine climate, 6000 feet above the sea. It has been very hot
the whole time we have been here. They say there is plenty of grain to
be had on the road; I hope this may be true, and that we shall not have
a repetition of what took place before in regard to expense. I was
congratulating myself, a day or two since, on the prospect of getting my
back pay, but now I hear that I shall not only be minus that, but that
we are not to get any more pay for three months, owing to some
mismanagement or other; consequently, we shall be obliged to get into
debt, with a nice little interest to pay off. I wish, therefore, that
next year you would give me credit for another 60l. I do not wish you
to send it out to me, but that you would let me draw upon you as far as
that sum, in case I should find it necessary, as this campaign has sadly
crippled me. Your last 60l. is nearly gone, and yet I have not spent a
farthing that I could help: this irregular way of paying troops is very
disgusting to them.

The report is now that we are not likely to have any regular fighting,
as it is pretty generally believed that Dost Mahomed has agreed to our
terms; the "on dit" is, that he is at Peshawur, and awaits our arrival
in Cabool, to give himself up to the British government. Colonel Wade,
one of the political diplomatic line, is near Peshawur with a part of
Runjet's army, but Dost Mahomed will not surrender himself to him, nor
will Colonel Wade cross the Punjab frontiers, on account of the great
enmity which exists between the Afghans and Sikhs: however, all this is
to be proved. I wish we could have one good brush with them, as we
should then have plain sailing; as it is, I suppose we shall be annoyed
by these rascally Ghiljees all the way up: out-lying pickets to take
care of camels, &c. With regard to the climate of this country I can say
little, as we have only been here during the hot weather, and hot we
have found it with a vengeance; but then we have been living in tents.
One man of ours has died by a coup de soleil; he was one of the camel
guard. I do not consider the climate an unhealthy one. It is a very
lucky thing for us that we were not left in Sinde: the troops left there
have suffered terribly. Sinde is one of the hottest places in the
world, and very unhealthy; in fact, I consider it to be about one of the
most disgusting countries in the world. The 17th regiment lost an
officer there under very melancholy circumstances. He was coming up to
join his regiment, having been only lately appointed to it, and lost his
way in that dreadful desert I told you of, where he wandered in a
wretched state for two days, during which time the simoom came on, and
he died from its effects a short time after reaching his tent; the
simoom was still so violent that his servants were obliged to dig his
grave inside his tent: his body turned black immediately after death.

We have had excellent European fruit here, and the gardens about the
place are very large and beautiful--peaches, apricots, cherries, apples,
grapes, and mulberries. I never tasted anything more delicious than the
melons here. You cannot imagine, in your temperate climate, how
refreshing they are on a hot day; but, then, they are said to be very
dangerous. The vegetables, too, are good, particularly to those who had
been without them so long as we had. There are peas, beans, salad,
cucumber, but, unfortunately, no potatoes; what would we not give for a
nice mealy murphy! we have not tasted one for four months; however, in
all these respects Cabool is much superior. What we shall do when we
reach that place I cannot imagine,--one thing, the Hindoo Koosh,
prevents our marching further. The report is, that if everything goes
smooth we shall go back again this year; but this I do not believe, as
I hardly think it probable that the government would be at such expense
in marching us such a distance just to keep us at Cabool for a month,
and if we overstay that it will be too late, and the snow and severity
of the climate will hinder our returning. Moreover, Runjet Sing is very
ill, and, they say, is likely to kick, in which case there will, I take
it, be a regular shindy in the Punjab; and John Company, when he has
once put his foot into a country, does not withdraw it very soon.
Besides, there is Herat and Persia to be looked to. For my part, I have
no objection to a winter in Cabool; and if we can only get up our
supplies in the liquor line, we shall, I have no doubt, make ourselves
very comfortable. The 16th Lancers have an excellent pack of foxhounds
with them, and horses are very cheap. There are to be races &c. on a
grand scale also when we get there; and if we can get our supplies up by
that time, we may look forward to spending a merry Christmas even in
such a distant country. How curious all this must sound to you in your
quiet, lovely home of Brookhill. I have often thought of you all during
this campaign, particularly the other day, when I had the fever; and I
hope and trust my life maybe spared that I may see you all once more,
particularly as I have never seen you at Brookhill.

With regard to myself, my health, with the exception of the fever, has
been much better than I could have expected, considering what we have
gone through. I have, however, been sadly bothered the whole time I
have been in the country with rheumatism; at times, during the march, I
was so bad with it that I could not walk ten minutes at a time. I have
also had terrible pains in the joints of my arms, and have them still,
and it is with difficulty I can get a gun to my shoulder. I can walk
pretty well now, but running is totally out of the question; so that I
am afraid I should come off poorly in a hand-to-hand encounter with
these rascals. I applied to the doctor for some medicine, but he said
"he could give me none;" in fact, they will not give an officer any
medicine now unless he is very seriously ill, as they are very short of
medical stores.

I hope you may be able to get through this letter; the blue paper I have
been writing on is Russian, and bought in Candahar. I do not think I
have anything more to say. I will write again when I reach Cabool. Tell
Kate I will write to her too: I hope she got my letter which I wrote in
January last under cover to you.

With best love to all at home,

Believe me your very affectionate son,

P.S.--By-the-bye, there is an officer here in H.M. 13th Light Infantry,
with the Bengal force, who knows Arthur very well, in fact, I think a
great deal better than I do myself. His name is Wood; he is a
Canterbury man, and seems to know Mr. Baylay and everybody else there.
He was in the 48th when Arthur was at Canterbury with the 4th Drag.
Guards. He desired to be kindly remembered to Arthur when I wrote. I
hope Eliza's hooping-cough is well. I was very sorry to hear of poor
Sluman's death: as far back as I can recollect he is always associated
in my mind with home. I hope Ghiljee, Kauker, Beloochee, and Co., will
let this pass.


Camp, near Ghuzni, July 24th, 1839.

MY DEAR FATHER,--You must put down yesterday, the 23rd of July, in your
memorandum book as a memorable day for your son Tom, and, I may say, for
the British army. Ghuzni, the strongest fortress in Afghanistan, was
taken by assault in three-quarters of an hour, by the four European
regiments of the army--viz., the Queen's, 13th Light Infantry, 17th
regiment, and Bengal European regiment. The storming party, or forlorn
hope, consisted of the Light Companies of the four regiments. The whole
right in front--ergo, our company (the Light Company of the Queen's) was
the first in. I may well remember it, as it was the first time I smelt
gunpowder and saw blows given in real earnest. It is the most splendid
thing for us that could have happened: if we had failed, we should have
had the whole country down upon us in a few days; now, they say, the
country is ours.

It is reported that Sir J. Keane was so very anxious about it, that when
he heard our first cheers, after entering the gate of the town, he
actually cried, it was such a relief to his mind; and that he told
Brigadier Sale, lieutenant-colonel of the 13th Light Infantry, who
commanded on the occasion, that it was very likely that the fate of
India depended on our taking this place. Ghuzni was considered Dost
Mahomed's principal fortress; his son commanded in it, and it was
garrisoned by 3000 Afghans. Young Dost expected to hold it out for a
fortnight; and his father was to have come to his relief in a day or
two, when we should have had a difficult part to perform, as we should
have been surrounded in this valley by armed parties on all sides; so
that it would have been really a ticklish job. They had collected
provisions in the town for three months, and arms and ammunition; in
fact, it was the regular depot for their army. They had also about four
or five lacs of rupees; but that will not give us much prize money. Our
loss was very trifling, owing to the daring and sudden nature of the
attack, as they were taken totally by surprise. Our regiment suffered
the most, and we have thirty-seven killed and wounded, including
officers, of whom six out of eighteen were wounded--one-third of the
whole,--however, none of the latter dangerously, thank God, though two
of them are returned severely wounded. Five men of our regiment were
killed outright on the spot, and I am afraid we shall lose some more in
a few days from the effects of their wounds. Of the enemy, about 500
were killed, and more than 1500 made prisoners; and of the remainder,
who made their escape over the walls, the greater part were cut down by
the Dragoons, or spifflicated by the Lancers. Among the prisoners is
young Dost himself, the greatest prize of all. More than a thousand
magnificent horses have also been taken, besides pack-horses, camels,
and grain in abundance. However, I never can tell a story without going
back to the very commencement.

I finished my last letter to you the day before we left Candahar. Well;
we started on Sunday, the 30th of June, and made seven marches to
Belanti Ghiljee, where we caught up the Shah's army, with a Bengal
division. Here Sir John Keane had first come in sight of young Dost's
army, who, however, retired very quickly, though there was some talk of
their holding out at this place, and we were pushed on rapidly in
consequence. They shewed their sense in not holding out there, as it
would not have taken us long to dislodge them. We halted here a day, and
then marched on by very short and easy marches, halting every third or
fourth day, and taking things very easy, although we were constantly
annoyed by the Ghiljees, who murdered several of our camp followers, and
tried to rob us whenever they could find an opportunity, until we were
within five good marches of Ghuzni, when General Willshire received an
order to push on by forced marches, and to make these five into three.
After making two out of these three, (and precious long ones they were,)
we found out that we were still upwards of twenty miles from Ghuzni,
with the men so fatigued that it was nearly impossible for them to do
it, and that we should therefore be obliged to make two of it. The
event, however, proved the contrary; for, about seven o'clock in the
evening, a dispatch came from General Willshire, and about eight, just
as we were preparing to turn in, the orders were out to strike our
tents, and march in an hour's time, and catch up Sir John Keane and the
Shah, who were halted about nine miles in advance of us. Sir John was
anxious to have the whole force concentrated before marching on Ghuzni.
Nothing, however, was certain; and we were all in a high state of
excitement, not knowing what to expect: this was the evening of the
20th. We made quick work of this march, and reached Sir John Keane about
half-past twelve. Here we heard that Sir John Keane was in expectation
of a night attack. He had fallen in that morning with the advance of the
enemy, who had, however, upon the appearance of the British force,
retired upon Ghuzni. We bivouacked on our ground, after throwing out
strong pickets, and marched again at 5 A.M., Sir John Keane, the
Bengalees, and cavalry in advance, then the Shah, and then our small
party. We, however, sent our artillery to join Sir John. About eight
o'clock, when within about three miles of Ghuzni, we heard the first
symptoms that the game of war was beginning: our batteries were firing
on the place, and the garrison were returning it with good effect; it
served as a sort of overture to the opera in which we knew we must soon
be actors.

In consequence of the great quantity of baggage, now the whole army was
joined, we were halted for a couple of hours to protect it, and the
whole of the cavalry was sent back for that purpose; and well it was
that they were, as a part of the enemy's cavalry made a demonstration
for attacking it, but withdrew on seeing ours. We were at length marched
on, and took up our ground a little to the S.W. of the fort, but out of
harm's way, when we heard a more definite account of what had been done.
The advance of the Bengal column, H.M. 13th Light Infantry and the 16th
Native Infantry, had some little work in driving the enemy out of the
gardens and old buildings that surround the town. This, however, they
accomplished with a trifling loss; our guns then opened on the place,
but as they were light ones (the heaviest being still in the rear), with
little effect. This desultory fire on both sides was, however, kept up
for about three hours: little execution being done, and a few casualties
having occurred among the artillery, Sir John Keane ordered the guns to
be withdrawn. We had not been on our ground more than three hours when
we were ordered once more on the march, and to march by a circuitous
route across the mountains, in order to avoid the fire of the town, and
take up our ground on the other side of it. We reached our new ground
about nine, after a fatiguing march of seven miles, crossing the river,
and, by an infernal path, through the hills. Here we bivouacked again
for the night, as little of our baggage had arrived.

The enemy took this move of ours as a defeat, and concluded that we had
marched on to Cabool, despairing of taking their fort: the event proved
how wofully they were mistaken! They wasted a good deal of powder in
firing for joy, and young Dost sent a dispatch from the place to his
father, apprizing him of the fact, and begging him to come down upon us
immediately, while he would follow upon our rear. He also sent to a
Ghiljee chieftain near us, telling him to collect as many followers and
country people as he could to make an attack upon our baggage, as he had
only to come down and take it. We sold this fellow a bargain, however,
the next day. Well; the first thing we heard the next morning was from
young Keane, and to this effect, that we were to rest for that day, and
that the four European corps were to storm the place the next morning
before daylight, as the state of the country was such that Sir John
could not waste time in breaching it; and, moreover, it was doubtful
whether, from the nature of the walls, it could be breached at all. We
did not, however, learn the final dispositions till the evening.

That day, the 22nd, I shall never forget; it was a very dismal one; much
more so than the next. There was a nervous irritability and excitement
about us the whole day; constantly looking at the place through
spy-glasses, &c.; and then fellows began to make their wills, and tell
each other what they wished to have done in case they fell; altogether
it was not at all pleasant, and every one longed most heartily for the
morrow, and to have it over. I felt as I used to do when I was a child,
and knew I must take a black dose or have a tooth drawn the next
morning. About twelve o'clock a great deal of firing took place on our
left; this we soon ascertained to be the Ghiljee chief I have before
mentioned, coming down with the amiable purpose of lootzing our camp. A
part of the Shah's Afghan cavalry, a few guns of the Horse Artillery,
and a squadron of Lancers, were ordered out, who soon sent them to the
right-about. The chief, when he saw that it was not such an easy job as
he expected, cut his stick the first, with his horsemen, about 2000,
leaving the poor footpads, about 1000, to shift for themselves. They
were terribly mauled, and a great number of prisoners taken, whose heads
the Shah struck off immediately. Well; evening came at last! and then we
heard the morning's news confirmed; that the Light Companies of the
four corps were to form the storming party, that an Engineer officer,
with some Sappers, each carrying a bag of gunpowder (in all 300lbs.),
was to advance to the Cabool gate, and place it there, in order to blow
it down; that immediately upon the gates falling we were to rush in and
take possession of the town, &c. At the same time a false attack was to
be made by the 16th Bengal Native Infantry on the Candahar gate, in
order to divert the enemy's attention. Brigadier Sale, lieut.-colonel of
the 13th, was to command the whole, and Col. Dennie, of the same corps,
the storming party. Three regiments of Native Infantry were to be in
reserve, under Sir Willoughby Cotton; and the cavalry were to be
stationed so as best to intercept the flight of those who might manage
to make their escape from the place. We were to be formed ready for the
attack at two o'clock in the morning, close to a high pillar, about half
a mile from the fort; we were to advance under cover of the Artillery,
who were to fire over and clear the walls for us. I laid down in my
cloak directly after mess, and, being dreadfully tired, never slept more
soundly than I did the night before the storming of Ghuzni.

At one o'clock we turned out; I took a cup of tea and a couple of ginger
biscuits, and joined my company: in a quarter of an hour we were on our
march to the pillar, where we were to be formed. Here we found Col. Sale
and the Engineer officers, &c. Col. Sale called out the officers, and
told them the plan of the attack, which was to be the same as mentioned
before, except that the 13th Light Infantry were to line the ditch
outside the town, and fire on the ramparts, while we advanced. The
storming party, Queen's and Bengal European regiments, were, after
entering the gate, to move along a street to the left, clearing the
houses, &c., and on arriving at the end to mount the ramparts, and to
return by them. Our object in doing this was to drive as many men as
possible into the citadel, and having obtained this object, a signal was
to be given, and the artillery were to fire shells into the citadel,
which, particularly as their powder magazine was there, it was expected
would soon make them cut and run. The 17th and 13th regiments being
nearest, were then to rush up and take possession of the citadel, and
the Native regiments, being in reserve, were to assist them. Col. Sale
then said a few words of encouragement, and concluded by hoping "we
should all have luck"--on the whole a very neat and appropriate speech.
We then piled arms, and officers fell out. I never saw fellows more
merry than most of us were while we were waiting there; in fact, if we
had been going to the most delightful place in the world, we could not
have appeared in better spirits; and this put me strongly in mind of a
scene I had read in a book called "The Subaltern," where the feelings of
the officers, waiting for an attack, are described as being just the
same. At length, "bang" went a gun from our batteries. Col. Sale said,
"Ah, there goes the signal; we had better be starting:" just as if one
was to get ready to take a ride to Brixham or elsewhere. Well; we fell
in, and in about a quarter of an hour off we went. The enemy returned
the fire from our batteries in good style, and there was a regular row.
They pointed their "Long Tom," a fifty-two pounder, towards us, and sent
the shot over our heads and a little to our left. The ball made a
terrific row rushing over us. Whilst we were marching down to the attack
the fire on both sides was at its height. The noise was fearful, and the
whole scene the grandest and, at the same time, the most awful I ever
witnessed. I caught myself, once or twice, trying to make myself as
small as I could. As we got nearer the gate it grew worse, and the
enemy, from their loop-holes, began to pepper us with matchlocks and
arrows. The scene now was splendid. The enemy, at the commencement of
the firing, threw out blue lights in several places, which looked
beautiful, and the flames of their and our artillery, together with the
smaller flashes from the matchlock men, added to the roar of their big
guns, the sharp cracking of the matchlocks, the whizzing of their cannon
balls and ours, (the latter of which, by-the-bye, went much nearer our
heads than the enemy's, as our artillery fired beautifully, and sent
their shot close over our heads, on the ramparts,) the singing of the
bullets, and the whizzing of their arrows, all combined, made up as
pretty a little row as one would wish to hear. Add to this, that it was
as dark as pitch, and you may judge of the effect. We made a rush over
the bridge, which the enemy had not destroyed, and continuing it up a
slight ascent, we found ourselves of a sudden close to the gate. Here
there was a check. Although the gate was blown down, still the remains
of it, and the barricade on the inside, rendered it a difficult place to
get over, particularly as it wanted at least half an hour of daylight,
and was perfectly dark. The two first sections were therefore a long
time getting through, during which the two last, to which I belonged,
were standing still outside, exposed to a cross fire from two round
towers, which flanked the entrance. Our men, however, kept up such a
smart fire upon every hole and opening that no man dared shew his nose,
and their fire was therefore rendered harmless. At length we moved in,
and found that, besides what I have mentioned above, there was a large
hole in the roof of the portico over the gate, through which the enemy
were pitching earth, beams of wood, stones, &c.; one of these beams
knocked over my European servant, who was next to me, and dislocated his
arm, and, taking me in the flank, made me bite the dust also; however, I
had no further hurt than a slight bruise, and was up again immediately,
as I heard one of the soldiers say, "Oh! there is poor Mr. Holdsworth:
he's down!"

On getting within the gate a few volleys cleared the opening of the
street. Robinson, (our captain,) Col. Sale, with Kershaw and Wood of
the 13th, Sale's staff, (the latter the man who knew Arthur at
Canterbury,) were the first in. Poor Col. Sale got a cut in the mouth,
and fell upon Kershaw, who went down with him; on rising, an Afghan was
lifting his sword to cut down Sale when Kershaw seized the hilt of his
sword, and ran his own into him. Robinson also got a terrible cut on the
side of his head, which would have done his business for him if he had
not had on a cap padded with cotton, which deadened the weight of the
blow. All the companies of the storming party, however, got in well,
except the last, the light company of the Bengal European regiment, and
they had a desperate fight, the enemy having returned to the gate in
great numbers, and twenty-seven men of the company were laid low in no
time. After this every company that came in had a shindy at the gate;
the fact was, that the enemy took every company for the last, and
therefore made a desperate attempt to escape through it. Our company,
with the advance, pushed through the town, clearing the tops of the
houses. We only lost one man of our company; we thought he was done for
at first, but he is still alive, and, I am glad to say, likely lo do
well; he was shot right through the breastplate, and the ball went round
his body and was taken out of his back; he is to wear the same
breastplate in future. On coming to the end of the town we halted, and
were agreeably surprised, shortly after, to see the British flag waving
on the top of the citadel: the fact of the matter was, that the enemy
never thought of retiring to the citadel at all, but endeavoured to make
their escape directly they found we were inside the gates; the 17th and
13th, therefore, quietly marched up and took possession of it.

We now returned by the ramparts, taking a great number of prisoners, and
on reaching the large street where the horses were, the scene was
perfectly ridiculous; the horses were loose, and running and charging
about in all directions, kicking, fighting, &c. On getting near the gate
we entered by, the effects of our fight became more apparent, as dying
and dead Afghans testified. There were eight lying at one particular
spot, where a tumbril had blown up, and their bodies were still burning
from the effects. I never saw finer men than some of these Afghans--they
were perfect models. The plunder now began, though to little purpose, as
prize agents were at the gates and made most of us refund. I managed,
however, to get through a rather handsome spear, which I took from
before the tent of one of the chiefs. If the carelessness of my servants
will allow it I mean to keep it till we get back whenever that may be,
and send it home by some trusty person, when perhaps you may think it
worthy of a place among your curiosities at Brookhill. The 13th and
17th, however, had the best of it in the citadel, which was also the
palace, and where all young Dost's women were. I hear that the soldiers
have possession of some very handsome articles which they boned there I
believe. After this, young Dost, or, to give him his right name, Hyder
Khan, was found in a large hole near the citadel, with about twenty
followers; they had some work, however, in securing him. About this time
I saw the Shah, with the diplomatic people, Sir J. Keane, and Sir W.
Cotton, enter the fort and proceed to the citadel. The old Shah was
mightily delighted, as well he might be, and expressed himself in
raptures with the European soldiery. I was back again to breakfast at
mess by eight o'clock. Several of our men were wounded by arrows. One
soldier swore "that a fellow had shot his ramrod into him." Stisted had
an arrow through the calf of his leg, but his wound is not considered of
any importance.

_July 30th_.--Sir J. Keane, with the greater part of the army, marched
this morning for Cabool; ours (the Bombay division) march to-morrow.
Although the greater part of the town was taken in the way I have
described, still a party of about 100 men, under Dost Mahomed's
standard-bearer, (a great man, of course,) held out till the next day,
when they were all taken, and soon afterwards shot. They certainly must
have been assisted by some Europeans, as their powder was made up in a
very scientific manner, and their grape was exceedingly well put
together. Young Dost cannot imagine how the gate was blown down; he
thinks, I hear, that we shot two men inside the fort from a big gun, who
opened the door for us. He was sleeping over it at the time; the
explosion must have "astonished him a few, I guess." He says some of his
father's best soldiers have fallen there; and one man in particular, a
great chief, said to be the best swordsman between Cabool and Candahar.
I have been in the fort since, and I am glad we took it in the dark, as
it is not at all a nice looking place by daylight. The rooms in the
citadel are very fine, particularly where the women were, the ceilings
of which are inlaid with gold work. All our sick and wounded are to be
left here: we only leave one officer behind, poor Young, who was shot
through the thigh very near the groin.

Reports have been very various since the fall of Ghuzni whether Dost
himself will fight or not. It seems to be generally expected that we
shall have another shindy before we get to Cabool, though a great number
of chiefs have lately come in to the Shah, among the principal of whom
is Hadjee Khan Kauker, the governor of Bamian, a man of great influence
in the country, and a great intriguer, formerly a great friend of Dost
Mahomed's. He came in to us about three hours after the place had
fallen: he had been waiting on the top of a hill to see the result, and
was prepared to join whichever side was victorious. I must tell you,
also, that on the 21st, the day we marched upon Ghuzni, another son of
Dost was waiting outside the town to attack us with about three thousand
men; but on seeing the size of our army he thought better of it, and cut
for Cabool as fast as he could; he was deserted on the way by most of
his army, and reached Cabool with scarcely a follower: his father was
exceedingly enraged, and is said to have put him in prison.

_Sunday, 28th_.--The day before yesterday, Dost Mahomed's brother, a man
who has always favoured the English, and advised Dost to have nothing to
do with the Persians, &c., but who lives quite retired, and has very
little to do with politics, came into our camp to endeavour to make
terms for his brother; but, it is said, neither party was satisfied:
they say that he was disgusted at our proposals, and replied, "that Dost
would rather lose his life than accept them." Dost wants to be made the
Shah's vizier; but that, of course, could not be allowed. How it will
end no one knows: however, a few days will shew. We have had several
deserters from Dost's army; they say he is encamped, and has thrown up
strong entrenchments about three miles in front of Cabool. I should
hardly, however, think that the people of Cabool will allow his doing
so, as there are several rich people in it who would not like to see
Ghuzni reacted at their own door. There would be lots of prize money for
us. Talking of prize money, I am afraid there will not be very much,
though the things that were taken sold remarkably well, as did also the
horses, &c. I managed to buy, though for much beyond its value, a rather
pretty coverlet for a bed, which was taken in the fort, which perhaps
belonged to some of the young ladies of the harem; it is of shawl
velvet, and said to be made in Cashmere. I intend to send it home with
the spear, and give it to Kate; though what use she can put it to I
hardly know, as I am sure it will not be large enough for her bed;
still, when one considers whence it was taken, it may possess some
little interest. Young Dost is left behind in the fort, which is to be
strongly garrisoned, and where we leave all our sick and wounded.

The climate of this place is delightful; it is about 6000 feet above the
level of the sea; and although this is the hottest month in the year,
still we do not find it at all unpleasant, living in tents: a delightful
change from Candahar. There is the most beautiful clover here I ever
saw, and lots of fruit.

We have just received intelligence of Runjet Sing's death; he has been
reported dead several times before; but they say this time it is really
the case; if so, we are still only at the beginning of our work, as we
shall most likely have something to do in the Punjab. The government, it
is said, have guaranteed the succession of Runjet's son, who is little
better than a natural idiot. The chiefs of the Sikhs, who are very
warlike people, and have often licked the Afghans, say they will not
consent to be ruled by such a person,--thereon hangs the matter. A large
force has been gradually concentrating at Delhi, Meerut, Loodiana, and
all the north-west stations in Bengal, ready to march into the Punjab in
case of Runjet's death, which has been long expected; and we very likely
shall make an advance by the line of the Cabool river to Peshawur, and
Attock, on the Indus. It is rather late to begin a campaign after
marching more than a thousand miles, and not meeting an enemy except
robbers. If I ever do get home safe and sound after all this work, I
shall consider myself very lucky.

_July 31st_.--Here we are, our first day's march to Cabool. Reports
still flying about as to whether Dost means to fight. I wore the pistols
you gave me in London at the storming,--they are a capital pair! The
post goes directly, so I must conclude, with best love to all, your very
affectionate son,


P.S.--They say Shah Shooja will give us all medals when everything is
settled; those for the officers to be a small gold one, with an
impression of the Fort of Ghuzni; those for the soldiers to be silver,
and the same pattern. If you look into the military papers when this
reaches you, I dare say you will find further accounts of the business.

NOTE.--"It was arranged that an explosion party, consisting of
three officers of engineers (Capt. Peat, Lieuts. Durand and
M'Leod), three Serjeants and eighteen men of the sappers in
working dresses, carrying three hundred pounds of powder in
twelve sand bags, with a hose seventy-two feet long, should be
ready to move down to the gateway at break of day.

"So quickly was the operation performed, and so little was the
enemy aware of the nature of it, that not a man of the party
was hurt."--_From Memoranda of Capt. Thompson, R.E., Chief
Engineer, Army of Indus_.


MEMORANDUM.--I have lost this letter, which I regret the more, because
it gave a very full account both, of Cabool and its environs, as well as
of many interesting circumstances which took place during the time the
Bombay division of the army remained there.

As far as I remember its contents, it began with the march of the army
from Ghuzni to Cabool, the desertion of the troops of Dost Mahomed, and
his flight from the capital. It described his pursuit by a party of
officers and cavalry, volunteers from the British army, commanded by
Captain Outram, who accompanied Hadjee Khan Kauker, the principal chief
of the country, with a body of 2000 Afghans, who had joined Shah Shooja
at Ghuzni.

It stated, that after a few days had expired, the party had nearly
reached the fugitive, when Hadjee Khan refused to proceed, stating,
amongst other excuses, that his men had dispersed to plunder, and that
he had not any means of preventing it; and Captain Outram was obliged to
proceed without him. It had been supposed by Shah Shooja, that Hadjee
Khan had been so committed with Dost Mahomed that he might be safely
trusted upon this occasion; but there is not the least doubt but that he
was engaged in correspondence with him during the whole time, and that
Dost Mahomed was thus enabled to effect his escape with his family,
although Captain Outram with his party pursued him as far as Bamian. If
Hadjee Khan had not acted in this most treacherous way, there could not
be a doubt but that Dost Mahomed must have fallen into the hands of
Captain Outram. Thus Hadjee Khan proved his double treachery; for which,
on his return to Cabool, it was understood the Shah would have put him
to death, but for the presence of the English, upon whose interference
his sentence was changed to perpetual confinement in one of the state

It described, also, the arrival of the eldest son of Shah Shooja, with
the contingent from Runjet Sing; his meeting with his youngest brother
on the road, near the city, who went out for that purpose upon an
elephant, richly caparisoned, attended by a suitable cortege; his
reception by the British army, and afterwards by his father, at the Bala
Hissar, where my son mixed with the troops of the Shah, who filled the
palace yard, and was thus enabled to witness the first interview, which
was anything but that which might have been expected when the eldest son
arrived at the palace to congratulate his father on his restoration to
his throne. The King was seated alone in an open balcony, slightly
raised above the court, where his officers of state were ranged on
either side, on the ground. The Prince advanced through a line of troops
and public officers, but did not raise his eyes from the ground. When he
came near his father, he prostrated himself in submission to the King,
who called to him "that he was welcome;" after which the son ascended to
the balcony, where he again made a prostration, when his father raised
him up, and seated him near him. The peculiarly careful conduct of the
son on his approach appears to have arisen from a consciousness of his
father's jealous and suspicious temper, and a fear lest even a smile
interchanged with a friend at the court might be construed into hidden
treachery. Soon after this, the chief persons of the court made their
salutations to the King, to each of whom he said a few words, and the
ceremony was ended.

My son added, that he little expected when he was at the levee of his
late Majesty King William, before he left England, that the next
ceremony of the sort at which he should be present would be that of the
King of Afghanistan, in Central Asia, a person with whose name and
country he had not then the slightest acquaintance.

The youngest son of Shah Shooja, whom I have mentioned, is described as
a beautiful boy, under twelve years of age, ruddy and fair as an English
child. He is a great favourite with his father at present, and usually
accompanies the Shah wherever he goes. His childhood probably protects
him from suspicion of treachery or intrigue.

My son appeared to have mixed occasionally with the inhabitants of
Cabool, and, through the introduction of the Persian interpreter, to
have become personally acquainted with some of the leading persons of
the city. They are described by him as being particularly affable and
civil to the officers of our army, with, some of whom he paid a visit to
a man of rank, at his country-house, and with whom they dined. Nothing
could exceed the attention of their host. He shewed them his stud
consisting of more than fifty horses, and every other thing that he
possessed, (except his women,) and the hospitality and good fare was
unbounded. Neither was the curiosity of these persons less in inquiring
minutely into everything they saw when they visited the officers in the
camp, than their desire to please in their own houses; and he appeared
to have left the place with a most favourable impression of the upper
ranks of the city.

Of the city itself, its magnificent bazaar, filled with the richest
manufactures of the East, its gardens abounding with the finest fruits
in the world, and the fertile country that surrounds it, his
description is the same as that which will be found much more at length
in the Travels of Lieut. Burnes, in 1832.

Cricket and horse-racing appeared to be the chief recreation of the army
during the time it remained inactive; and the two divisions having
fortunately come from different Presidencies, the same spirit of rivalry
amongst the officers, in the sports of the camp, was as naturally
excited at Cabool as in any of the counties or garrisons of their native

The evening before they left their ground, two miles from Cabool, he was
sent with a subaltern's party to search through all the worst parts of
the city for men who were missing from the camp, but after spending many
hours, he returned without finding any. They had been paid the day
before, and had got away to the liquor-shops; but all turned up in the
morning except one, whose body was found murdered, near the camp.



Camp at Kotree, in Cutch Gundava,
December 8th, 1839.

MY DEAR FATHER--As I am now tolerably recovered and my wounds nearly
healed, I take the first opportunity (as my arm is losing its stiffness)
of writing to you, as I have no doubt you will be very anxious to hear
how I am going on. I desired Stisted, the day after the taking of Kelat,
to write, as I was myself then unable. I have no doubt but that he did
so; yet I know you must have been anxious before you heard the final
result; and I am now happy to inform you that I am getting rapidly well,
and expect in a short time to be out of the "sick list." My wound was
esteemed a rather ugly one at first; and I must consider it one of the
most fortunate cases of Providence that the bullet took the direction it
did, as had it swerved in the least degree it must have gone through my
lungs, or downward through my liver; and in either case would most
likely have done my business completely. As the man who fired at me was
so very close, the ball went clear through, and so saved me from the
unpleasant process of having it extracted by the doctor, &c. I had my
right flank exposed to the man who pinked me, and so the ball passed
through my right arm into my right side, and passing downwards to the
rear, came out at my back, about an inch from the back-bone. Had it
passed to the front instead of to the rear, I should have most assuredly
left my bones at Kelat: as it was, from my coughing up a tolerable
quantity of blood when I was first hit, the doctor imagined that my
lungs had been affected, and for a couple of days, as I have since
heard, was very doubtful as to my eventual recovery. However I may now,
I believe, consider myself completely out of the wood.

I find I have not written since the last day I was at Cabool; and I have
had few opportunities of doing so, as we have been on the move ever
since, and until we reached Kelat there was very little to write about.
We broke ground and marched to the other side of Cabool on Monday, the
16th of September, and halted on the 17th for a grand tomasha at the
Bala Hissar, or Shah's Palace, being no less than the investiture of the
order of the Doorannee Pearl, which was conferred by Shah Shooja on the
big-wigs of the army. Sir John Keane, Sir Willoughby Cotton, and Mr.
Macnaghten get the first order; generals of divisions and brigadiers,
the second; and all field officers engaged at Ghuzni and heads of
departments, the third; for the rest, all officers engaged at Ghuzni get
a gold medal, and the soldiers a silver one: however, all this depends
on the will and sanction of Queen Victoria.

On Wednesday, the 18th, we took our final leave of Cabool and its
beautiful environs, and reached Ghuzni on the 26th, where we halted two
days, and then struck off in a new direction, straight across country to
Quettah, by a new road, and very little known, leaving Candahar to our
right, and thereby cutting off a considerable angle. Our object in doing
this was, besides saving distance, to afford assistance, if required, to
Captain Outram, who had preceded us by about a week, and was gone with
some of the Shah's force into the Ghiljee country, and was employed in
destroying the forts, &c., of some of the refractory Ghiljee chiefs. He
captured one fort in which were found forty or fifty fellows who were
identified as being the same men who had murdered so many camp followers
and some of our officers during our march through the country. I saw
them at Ghuzni, where they were under confinement, and about to be
executed in a few days, as I was told. About eight marches from Ghuzni,
Outram sent to General Willshire for assistance, as his force was not
sufficient; he was then before the largest of these hill forts,
belonging to one of the most influential and refractory of the chiefs,
and who had given us a great deal of annoyance in our way up. A wing of
the 19th Native Infantry, some Artillery, and the Light Companies were
therefore sent to his assistance; but they made a miserable failure as
the chief, putting himself at the head of about a hundred faithful
followers, dashed through their pickets at night, and made his escape
with all his valuables, and without losing a man. We marched at an easy
pace, detaching a force now and then to take a fort, which was
invariably found, deserted on our approach. Nevertheless, we had hard
work of it, as our route lay through and over high and barren mountains
with scarcely an inhabitant or village to be seen, and nothing to be got
for our cattle. For three days my horse, and those of most of us, lived
on bushes and rank grass that we found occasionally. We had to depend on
our commissariat for everything; and they found it difficult to supply
grain for the staff and field officers' horses, so, of course, ours were
quite left out of the question. Guns, powder, and shot were in great
requisition; and, luckily, hares and Khorassan partridges were tolerably
abundant. At times, even our guides confessed themselves at fault, so
difficult was it to make our way through such a country. However, one
thing was greatly in our favour--we had a splendid, bracing climate the
whole way, the nights and mornings being "_rayther_" too cold, the
thermometer ranging at that time between 20 and 30 degrees. The poor
Sepoys and camp-followers, however, suffered severely. We experienced
scarcely the slightest annoyance from the inhabitants although we passed
through the most disaffected part of the country--viz., the Ghiljee
country, and latterly through the heart of the Kauker country, whose
chief, Hadjee Khan Kauker, is a prisoner at Cabool, as I told you in my
former letter.

At length, on the 31st of October, we reached Quettah, where we were
delighted to find a few Parsee merchants, who had come up from Bombay,
and from whom we were enabled to get a few European comforts, in the
shape of brandy, gin, wine, tea, pickles, &c., which we had long been
without; even milk and butter were luxuries to us.

General Willshire now ordered the 31st Bengal Native Infantry, which had
been left here in our march up, together with H.M. 17th, and a small
detail of Artillery, to proceed to Kelat, under Colonel Baumgardt, our
Brigadier. The 31st were to garrison it; and the 17th were sent because
Mehrab Khan, the Kelat chief, had declared that "he would not surrender
to any but European troops, and see the Sepoys d--d first, if they came
alone." However, no resistance was expected, as Mehrab had been offered
very liberal terms, which he had apparently accepted. The rest of the
force was to go down by the Bolan Pass, and wait at Bukkur, or somewhere
in Upper Sinde, till joined by the 17th. However, the next day a new
order came out, and the Queen's, together with a stronger detail of
Artillery, were ordered to reinforce the detachment to Kelat.

Well; we marched on the 5th of November; and the next day, after we had
readied our ground, when we had just sat down to breakfast, great was
our surprise to see General Willshire himself ride into camp with a few
of his staff. All we could learn on the subject was, that on that
morning, which was the day fixed for the rest of the division to begin
their march down the Bolan Pass, and just as they were about to start,
the General sent for his Adjutant and Quarter-master-general, and,
taking them and his Aides with him, started for our camp. Things now
looked a little more warlike; still we experienced no annoyance during
the whole march; few of us but thought that on our approach Mehrab Khan
would give in.

We halted a day at Mostrong, which was about half way, and here General
Willshire and the political agent communicated with the Khan, who
replied, that "as to the terms, he was willing to meet General Willshire
half way, with a small escort, and there talk them over; but that if we
advanced against him with an army, he should shut his gates, and we
should find him at the door of his citadel with his drawn sword." There
was "no mistake about that 'ere," as Sam Weller would say. However, most
of us thought it was merely bravado, as our progress was not molested
at all; this, however, was afterwards accounted for by the Khan's having
called in all his fighting-men to his standard.

The last three days before arriving at Kelat we marched in order of
battle, and had strong pickets at night, the whole force sleeping on
their arms, and ready to fall in at a moment's notice.

On the 12th we were within eight miles of the fort; and on our arriving
on our ground a few horsemen were observed reconnoitring us, who fired
on our advance, but retired leisurely on the approach of the column. By
that hour the next day "Kelat was prize money." We strongly expected to
be attacked that night, and were all ready for a shindy; the artillery
loaded with grape, and port-fires lighted, &c. However, it passed over
very quietly; but we had hardly marched a mile from our encampment the
next morning, when, in an opening through the hill to our right, we
observed a large cloud of dust, which we soon discovered to be raised by
a strong body of horsemen. They were about a mile and a half from our
flank, and kept moving on in a parallel line with our column. However,
at a point where the road took a turn towards the hills they halted, at
about 150 yards from the advance guard, and deliberately fired into them
with their matchlocks, but at too great a distance to do much harm. One
company from the advance was sent to dislodge them; upon which they
moved quickly down towards the main body, and taking up a position at
about the same distance from us as before from the advance, gave us the
same salute as they had before treated those in front to. Their balls
came whistling in upon us on all sides, and knocked up the dust like
drops of rain, but no damage was done; they then galloped off. It was a
great pity we had no more cavalry with us; only fifty Bengal, or
Irregular Horse, and their cattle were so done up that they were
perfectly useless. The enemy laughed at the advance companies that were
now sent out to skirmish with them. The ground consisted of undulating
hills, and rather rough, over which our skirmishers, encumbered as they
were with knapsacks and other absurdities, "selon les regles," found it
very difficult to move quickly, and the enemy, riding their sure-footed
horses to the top of one of those hills, would fire down, and wheel
round, and be under cover of the other side of the hill before our men
could return the compliment effectually. If we had had a squadron of
Dragoons with us, lightly equipped, the result would have been very
different. But, unfortunately, the only time during nearly the whole
campaign when cavalry would have been of important service to us we were
without them. However, very little blood is ever shed in desultory
affairs of this sort, and they only wounded about three or four of our
men; and at one place, a party of them coming unexpectedly upon the
reserve of the skirmishers, two sections opened a fire upon them,
emptied a few saddles, and sent the rest flying. We with the main body
had a very good view of the whole affair, and a very animating scene it
was. Our road had hitherto lain through a valley, about four miles
broad; but when within about three miles and a half from Kelat, it takes
a sudden turn to the right, and leads, for the next mile and a half,
through a narrow and straight pass, after penetrating which, and
arriving at the debouche, the fortress of Kelat appeared before us,
frowning defiance. The first sight of it had certainly a very pretty
effect: the sun had just burst out, and was lighting the half-cultivated
valley beneath us, interspersed with fields, gardens, ruinous mosques,
houses, &c.; while Kelat, being under the lee of some high hills, was
still in the shade; so that, while all around presented a smiling and
inviting appearance, as if hailing our approach with gladness, the
fortress above seemed to maintain a dark and gloomy reserve, in high
contrast with the rest of the picture; nor was the effect diminished
when a thin cloud of smoke was seen spouting forth and curling over its
battlements, followed, in a short interval, by the report of a large
gun, which came booming over the hills towards us. "Hurrah! they have
fired the first shot," was the exclamation of some of us, "and Kelat is
prize-money!" On looking more minutely at it, however, it had rather an
ugly appearance, and seemed, at that distance, much more formidable than
Ghuzni did at the first view. We could only see the citadel, which was
much more commanding and difficult of access than that of Ghuzni. The
outworks, however, as we afterwards found, were not half so strong;
these were, however, hidden from our view by two hills, rather
formidable in appearance, covering the approach to the fortress, on each
of which a redoubt was erected, and which we could perceive covered with
men. Beneath us in the valley the advance companies were seen pushing on
to occupy the gardens and other inclosures, while nearer the fort we
could observe the body of cavalry we had been before engaged with drawn
up, as if waiting our approach, under cover of the redoubts on the
hills. Half way down the road leading into the valley was our Artillery,
consisting of four six-pounders, field-pieces belonging to the Shah, and
two nine-inch howitzers, with our Horse Artillery. Here, also, was
General Willshire and staff, who now ordered one of the guns to open on
the horsemen, in order to cover the movements of the advance companies,
who were driving the enemy's matchlock men before them out of the
inclosures in good style. The first shot struck wide of them, the second
kicked up a dust rather too close to be pleasant, and the third went
slap in among them, knocking over a horse or two, when these gallant
cavaliers cut their sticks, and we saw no more of them. We soon moved
into the valley, and halted for a considerable time at the foot of the
hill. We were here within three-quarters of a mile of the nearest
redoubt, and about a mile and half from Kelat itself. General Willshire
now made a reconnaissance, and the men from the different baggage guards
came in and joined their respective regiments. After halting here about
an hour, (the guns from the nearest redoubt every now and then pitching
a shot rather close to us,) the brigade-major made his appearance with
orders for the three regiments to form in quarter distance column of
companies, to attack the two redoubts, each leaving one company with the
colours to form the reserve. The 17th were to attack the nearest
redoubt, and the 31st Bengal Native Infantry to turn its right, while we
were to push on and carry the other, which was the nearest to the fort.
At the same time, our artillery were brought into position, and covered
our advance.

The plot now began to thicken, and altogether the whole affair was the
most exciting thing I ever experienced, and beat Ghuzni out of the pit.
We moved steadily on, the guns from the redoubts blazing at us as fast
as they could load them; but they were very inferior workmen, and only
two shots struck near us, one knocking up the dust close to us, and
bounding over our heads, and the other whizzing close over our leading
company; however, they kept their ground till we arrived at the foot of
the hills, when our artillery having unshipped one of their guns, and
otherwise deranged their redoubts, they exploded their powder, and
retired, some leisurely, but most in the greatest disorder. Here, again,
we had occasion to regret having no cavalry, as a troop or two would
have effectually cut off or dispersed them. On reaching the top of the
hill which they had abandoned, we found ourselves within a quarter of a
mile of the lower end of the town, with the Beloochees making the best
of their way towards the gate, which was open to admit them. Captain
Outram here rode up to us, and cried out, "On men, and take the gate
before they can all get in." This acted like magic on the men. All order
was lost, and we rushed madly down the hill on the flying enemy, more
like hounds with the chase in view than disciplined soldiers. The
consequence was, we were exposed to a most galling fire from the
ramparts, by which several of our best men were put _hors de combat_;
the fugitives were too quick for us, and suddenly the cry was raised by
our leading men, "The gate is shut." All was now the greatest confusion,
and shelter was sought for wherever it could be found. Unluckily a rush
was made by the greatest part of the regiment to an old shell of a
house, which could scarcely afford cover to twenty men, much less to the
numbers who thronged into it, and who were so closely jammed that they
could not move; and so the outside portion were exposed to the fire from
the left bastion of the town, which completely out-flanked them, and
from which the matchlock-men kept pouring in a cool and most destructive
fire upon this dense mass with the utmost impunity; while a wide,
broken-down doorway in the centre exposed them to a fire from another
bastion in their front, if ever they shewed their nose for an instant to
see how matters were going on, or to return their fire. Poor fellows!
you may guess their situation was anything but pleasant. The
consequences soon began to shew themselves--eight men and one officer
(poor Gravatt) were shot dead, and several more were severely wounded,
and had the artillery been less expeditious in knocking down the gate,
the greatest part of them would have been annihilated. The other part of
the regiment (myself among the rest) were more fortunate. Seeing so many
rushing to one place, I made for another shelter, about twenty paces to
the rear, which consisted of a long wall, about five feet high, and
which afforded ample cover to us all. It was within seventy yards of the
bastion that proved so fatal to the other party, and from which they
kept up a pretty good fire upon us whenever we exposed ourselves.
However, I was so excited that nothing would do but I must see the whole
affair; this, however, was rather foolish, as every now and then they
would direct their attention to us, and send in a volley, which would
sing over us and knock up the dust and the old wall about us in good
style. Simmons's horse (the Adjutant's) was foolishly brought down, and
had not been a second there when it was shot slap through the hind-leg.
The ground behind us was raised a little, so that the horse's leg was in
a line with and nearly touching my head as I stood looking over the
wall; on reaching the cover we found four or five poor fellows who had
been wounded in the rush down the hill, and who had crawled in here as
well as they could.

I had an excellent view of the further proceedings from this place.
Right above us on the redoubt, from which we had driven the enemy, our
artillery had now established themselves, and were slapping away as hard
as they could at the gate. I could see every shot as it struck: they
made some very clever shots, sending the balls all about the gate, and
sometimes knocking down a portion of the bastion over it, considerably
deranging the operations of the matchlock-men who were in it; but still
the old gate would not fall. In the mean time, the advance companies,
which had been in quiet possession of the gardens, inclosures, &c.,
since the beginning of the affair, were now ordered up to a wall about
thirty yards in front of the doorway. They had to run over about three
hundred yards of open country before they could get to it, exposed to a
fire from the bastion over the door. I saw them make a splendid rush,
but three poor fellows and a native water-bearer fell, whom I saw crawl
under cover afterwards. All this time the artillery were banging away,
but as they made so slight an impression on the gate, two guns of the
Shah's were moved down the hill a little to our left, and within about
one hundred and fifty yards of the gate. They fired two shots; the first
made the old gate shake; the second was more fortunate, and took it
about the middle, and brought it completely down. Our men gave a general
hurrah; and Outram galloping down the hill at full speed, gave the word,
"Forward;" and General Willshire came up to us at his best pace, waving
his hat, "Forward, Queen's," he sung out, "or the 17th will be in before
you." On we rushed again for the gate as hard as we could; the enemy
treated us to one more volley, by which they did some execution, and
Dickenson was wounded in his leg, and then abandoning the lower defences
of the town, retreated to the citadel.

However, on entering the gate, we found matters not so easy as we
expected. The streets were very narrow and so intricate that they formed
a perfect labyrinth, and it was very difficult to make any progress
through them. The men, therefore, soon got scattered about and broken
into small parties; and some, I am afraid, thought of loot, or plunder,
more than of endeavouring to find their way to the citadel. I forgot to
mention that during the time we were under cover, the 17th and 31st
Native Infantry had moved round the hill and taken up a position on our
right. These two regiments were ordered forward and into the town and at
the same time and the same gate as we were. The whole force, therefore,
entered the town nearly together. I followed with a party of our men,
and we pushed along as well as we could through streets, by-ways, &c.
This was rather nervous work, as we never could tell what we had to
expect before us; there was no open enemy to be seen, but whenever we
came to an opening exposed to the citadel, a few bullets invariably came
whizzing in about us, and knocked over a man or two; moreover, having
the recollection of Ghuzni fresh in our minds, we expected every moment
a rush of some desperate fellows from the narrow holes we passed
through. After groping my way through narrow passages and all sorts of
agreeable places, I found myself in the exact spot I had started
from--viz., the gate by which we had entered. Here a man of our Light
Company came and told me that he had discovered a way to the citadel,
and begged me to put myself at the head of a few men there collected. Of
course I did so, and in a short time we found ourselves in a large
courtyard, with stables, &c., full of horses and Beloochees; right under
the windows of the citadel. These men cried out for "aman," or "mercy;"
but the soldiers recollecting the treachery that had been practised at
Ghuzni in a similar case were going to shoot the whole kit of them. Not
liking to see this done, I stopped their fire, and endeavoured to make
the Beloochees come out of their holes and give themselves up. I was
standing at this time in the centre of the court, and had heard a few
shots whizzing rather close over my head, when I suddenly received a
shock, which made me think at the moment I was smashed to bits, by a
ball from a ginjall, or native wall piece. I was knocked senseless to
the ground, in which state I suppose I lay for a few minutes, and when I
came to myself I found myself kicking away, and coughing up globules of
clotted blood at a great pace. I thought at first I was as good as done
for; however, on regaining a little strength, I looked around, and
seeing none of our men in the place, and thinking it more than probable,
from what I knew of their character, that the very men whom I had been
endeavouring to save might take it into their heads to give me the
"_coup de grace_" now I was left alone, I made a desperate effort, got
on my legs, and managed to hobble out, when I soon found some of our
men, who supported me until a dooly could be brought, into which I was
placed, and was soon on my way to the doctor.

You may imagine my feelings all this time to be anything but pleasant. I
still continued coughing up blood, which was flowing also pretty freely
from my side. The idea that you may probably have only a few hours
longer to exist, with the many recollections that crowd into your mind
at such a time, is anything but a delightful one; and the being so
suddenly reduced from a state of vigorous activity to the sick, faintish
feeling that came over me, by no means added to the _agremens_ of my

I well recollect being carried through the gate, where General Willshire
with his staff and the officers who had been left with the reserve
companies were, and who all pressed forward to see who the unfortunate
fellow in the dooly was, when the low exclamation of "Poor Holdsworth!"
and the mysterious and mournful shaking of heads which passed among
them, by no means tended to enliven my spirits. I soon reached the place
where the doctors, with their understrappers, were busily employed among
the wounded, dying, and dead. I was immediately stripped and examined,
and then, for the first time, heard that the ball had passed through and
out of my body. I also now discovered that it had struck and gone
through my arm as well. Being very anxious, I begged Hunter, the doctor,
to let me know the worst. He shook his head, and told me "he thought it
a rather dangerous case, principally from my having spit so much blood."
He had not time, however, to waste many words with me, as he had plenty
of others to attend. Dickenson, also, I found here; having been wounded,
as I before told you. He did all he could to keep my spirits up, but, as
you may suppose, I felt still very far from being comfortable. Nor were
the various objects that met my eye of a consolatory nature: men lying,
some dead, others at their last gasp, while the agonizing groans of
those who were undergoing operations at the hands of the hospital
assistants, added to the horror of the scene. I may now say that I have
seen, on a small scale, every different feature of a fight.

In the meantime, there had been sharp fighting in the citadel. Our men,
after forcing their way through numerous dark passages, in sonic places
so narrow and low that they were forced to crawl singly on their hands
and knees, at length arrived there; but as there were a great number of
approaches to this their last place of refuge, our men got broken up
into small detached parties, and entered it at different places. One
party reached the place where Mehrab Khan, at the head of the chiefs who
had joined his standard, was sitting with his sword drawn, &c. The
others seemed inclined to surrender themselves, and raised the cry of
"Aman!" but the Khan, springing on his feel, cried, "Aman, nag!"
equivalent to "Mercy be d--d," and blew his match; but all in vain, as
he immediately received about three shots, which completely did his
business; the one that gave him the "_coup de grace_," and which went
through his breast, being fired by a man of our regiment, named Maxwell.
So fell Mehrab Khan, having fulfilled his promise to General Willshire,
and died game, with his sword in his hand, in his own citadel.

Other parties, however, were not so fortunate, as each being too weak,
the enemy generally offered a determined resistance, and several, after
giving themselves up, finding the numbers to whom they had surrendered
smaller than they had at first appeared, turned upon them suddenly; for
which, however, they suffered in the long-run, as the soldiers, at
last, maddened by this conduct, refused quarter, and fired at once into
whatever party they met, without asking any questions.

At length the few survivors, being driven to their last stronghold at
the very top of the citadel, surrendered on condition of their lives
being granted to them; when one loud and general "hurrah!" proclaimed
around that Kelat was ours. The greatest part of the garrison had,
however, before this managed to make their escape over the hills.
Dickenson, while he was lying wounded by my side, saw quantities of them
letting themselves down the walls of the citadel by means of ropes,
shawls, &c.

Dooly, the most faithful of his chiefs and followers, remained by Mehrab
Khan to the last. These were all either taken prisoners or killed.
Besides the Khan himself, the Dadur chief, who had been the cause of
great annoyance to us in our way up, and the Governor of the Shawl
district, were among the slain. The only two men of his council of any
note among the survivors are at present prisoners in our camp, on their
way to Bengal.

Thus ended this short, but decisive affair, which I consider to be a
much more gallant one than that of Ghuzni, both in regard to the numbers
engaged on each side and the manner in which it was taken. We merely
halted for an hour, and then went slap at it, as if it was merely a
continuation of our morning's march. General Willshire was exceedingly
pleased with the result, as well he might be, and issued a very
complimentary address to the force engaged, the next day. I hope and
conclude his fortune will be made by it.

The loss on our side at Kelat was, in proportion, a great deal greater
than at Ghuzni. We had altogether about 1100 bayonets engaged, and the
loss was 140, being about one in seven; of this loss, the Queen's bear a
proportion equal to that of the other two regiments together, having
returned about seventy in the butcher's bill out of 280, which was the
number we brought into the field, being about one in four. Out of
thirteen officers, we had one killed, four severely, and one slightly,
wounded; twenty-three men were killed, and forty-one wounded, of whom
some have died since, and most will feel the effect of their wounds till
their dying day, as the greatest portion are body wounds.

With regard to prize-money, I have no doubt that had things been even
tolerably well managed, there would have been plenty of it, but we did
not stay there long enough to search the place thoroughly. I hear also
that the other part of the force that went down by the Bolan Pass claim
to share with us, which we do not allow; so that, perhaps, it may get
into the lawyers' hands, and then good-bye to it altogether, I do not
expect, under any circumstances, more than 100l. Some of the rooms of
the citadel were very handsomely fitted up, particularly one in the old
fellow's harem, which was one entire mirror, both sides and ceiling.

We remained at Kelat till the 21st of November, and then marched by the
Gundava Pass on this place. During the week that we remained there, my
wounds continued doing very well, and I had very little fever; and on
the third and fourth days after I was hit, the doctor considered me "all
right." On the two first days of our march, however, I caught a low
fever, which left me on the third, and I have continued to grow
gradually better ever since. We found the Gundava a much longer and more
difficult pass than that of the Bolan, and could get very little grain
or supplies either for ourselves or our cattle. Our march was perfectly
unmolested, as by that time the new Khan had arrived at Kelat, and most
of the principal chiefs had acknowledged him. I do not know, however,
what has become of Mehrab Khan's eldest son, a lad of fifteen years old,
who was bringing up a reinforcement to his father in our rear, while we
were marching on Kelat, but did not arrive in the neighbourhood until
after the place was taken. He, however, threatened us with a night
attack while we were lying in front of it, so that we were on the alert,
every one sleeping on his arms during the whole time we were there.

"We laid not by our harness bright,
Neither by day nor yet by night."

During the whole of this time the weather set in dreadfully cold, colder
than I ever experienced it anywhere in my life; sharp frosts, &c.

Well; to cut the matter short, yesterday, the 7th of December, we
arrived at this place, which is the same that we halted at for a week in
our march up. Here, at length, we are in the land of plenty, and enjoy
such luxuries as fresh eggs, butter, milk, vegetables, &c., with a gout
that those only can feel who have been so long without them as we have.
We find the climate, however, very hot, and I am sorry to say that we
are losing many fine fellows from the effect of the change. It is very
painful to witness these poor fellows going off in this miserable
manner, after surviving the chances of fire and steel, and all the
harassing duties they have had to perform during the campaign, now when
they have arrived at nearly the very end of it.

_Larkhanu, Dec. 24th_.--I have delayed sending this till our arrival
here, as the communication between this and Bombay is perfectly open,
which might not have been the case at Kotra. We have been here about a
week, and report says that we are to finish our marching here, and drop
down the river to Curachee in boats. I hope this may prove the case, as
I am sure we have had marching enough for one campaign. Another report,
however, says, that there is a kick-up in the Punjab, and that we shall
be detained in this country in consequence; but I do not think it

That part of our force which was not employed at Kelat went down by the
Bolan Pass, and have suffered considerably from cholera, which luckily
we have as yet escaped. The men that we have lost since our arrival in
this low country have all died from complaints of the lungs, from which
they were perfectly free in the cold country above the hills. Since
writing the former part of this letter, I have received a letter from
Kate, dated September 10th, which I will answer as soon I have finished
this letter to you.

_December 25th, Christmas day_.--I hope to spend this evening more
comfortably than I did last year, when I was on out-lying picket, the
night before we commenced our first march. Now, I trust, we have
finished our last. We have luckily met all our mess supplies here, which
have been waiting for us about six months, having never managed to get
further than Bukkur. So now it is a regular case of--

"Who so merry as we in camp?
Danger over,
Live in clover," &c.

I have just heard that the order is out for our marching the day after
to-morrow to the banks of the river, there to remain till the boats are
ready. Now the campaign is so near its close, I feel very glad that I
have been on it, as it is a thing that a man does not see every day of
his life in these times; and I consider it to be more lucky than
otherwise that I have four holes in my body as a remembrance of it; but
I cannot say that I relish a longer sojourn in India, unless we have the
luck to be sent to China, which I should like very much, (fancy sacking
Pekin, and kicking the Celestial Emperor from his throne,) as I do not
think the climate has done me any good, but on the contrary.

I do not know whether these wounds of mine will give me any claim;--and,
talking about that, I would wish you to inquire whether or not I am
entitled to any gratuity for them. I hear that officers returned
"wounded" on the list in the Peninsular Campaign, no matter how slight
the wound might have been, received a gratuity of one year's pay as a
compensation; and this, I think, was called "blood-money." I do not know
how far this may be the case at present, but I do not think that 120l.
ought to be lost sight of for want of a little inquiry.

By-the-bye, I had nearly forgotten to say that I have received two
letters from Eliza, which I will answer as soon as possible; but I do
not think it safe to keep this open any longer, as I may lose the mail
to Bombay; so must conclude, with best love to all at home,

Your very affectionate son,


Camp Larkanu, Dec. 26th, 1839.

MY DEAR ELIZA,--I finished and sent off a letter to my father yesterday,
giving an account of the storming of Kelat, and the wounds I received in
the skrimmage, and telling him of everything that had happened since I
wrote before, which was the day we left Cabool. You can see his letter,
which gives a pretty full account of all our proceedings up to the
present time.

I have now to make many apologies for not having answered your two
letters, one dated May 29th, giving an account of Kate's wedding, and
the other, dated the 29th of July, from Bristol, and likewise for having
forgotten to thank you for the money you were kind enough to send out
with my father's, last year. I can assure you never came money more
acceptable, as no one can imagine what expenses we have unavoidably been
obliged to incur in this campaign, which I suppose has cost officers
more than any other campaign that ever was undertaken. I think there are
few of us who have come off under 100l. besides our pay; and yet this
was merely for the common necessaries of life,--just sufficient to keep
body and soul together. I can assure you I feel very much obliged for
your present, as also for the two letters which I received while on the
march. I have often thought of Brookhill during the many dreary marches
that we have made, and on the solitary out-lying pickets, with no one to
speak to, and deplored my unlucky fate, in being obliged to leave home
just as you seem to be comfortably settled there. Still I have hope that
I may yet return, some day or other.

I can now give you more definite intelligence with regard to our
movements than I did in my father's letter; since sending off which
orders have come out, and the campaign, as far as our regiment is
concerned, is decidedly brought to a close. H.M. 17th, with Gen.
Willshire, Baumgardt, and Head-quarter Staff, marched this morning for
Bukkur, where they are to remain for four or five months, so report
says, and longer than that I suppose, if their services are required.
The Queen's, and the 4th Light Dragoons, are to return to Bombay as soon
as the necessary arrangements for their transportation thither &c. are
completed. We march from this to-morrow for the banks of the river,
about twelve miles, and shall probably remain there for three weeks or
so, until the shipping is got ready in Bombay, when we shall drop down
the Indus in boats, and embark from Curachee for the Presidencies: would
it were for England. Most of our married officers have obtained leave to
precede the regiment, and are off in a day or two.

I hope to see Lieutenant-Colonel Fane when we arrive at Bombay. His
father, Sir H. Fane, has publicly and officially resigned the
commander-in-chief-ship in favour of Sir Jasper Nicolls. Sir Henry has
been dangerously unwell at Bombay; but report says he is now getting
better. He intends sailing as soon as possible, I believe, and so will
most likely be gone before we arrive there. Sir J. Keane has also
resigned, and is to be succeded by Sir Thomas M'Mahon. It is not quite
certain that we shall go to Bombay, as some say that we shall land at
Cambay, and go up to Deesa, and others that we shall return to Belgaum.
Last night we received Bombay papers, giving an account of the taking of
Kelat. They have buttered us up pretty well, and seem to think it a much
more gallant affair than that of Ghuzni--in this last particular they
are only doing us justice.

_Dec. 30th, Camp, Taggur Bundur; Banks of the Indus_.--We arrived here
the day before yesterday, and are likely to remain, I believe, a
fortnight or so. We muster rather small, as most of the married officers
are off to-day and yesterday. As to my wounds, I have only one hole
still open--namely, the one through which the bullet took its final
departure, and that, I think, will be closed in a day or two. I am
sorry to say that since arriving here I have caught a "cruel cold," from
which I am suffering severely at present.

By-the-bye, there are a few incidents connected with the taking of Kelat
which I forgot to mention in my letter to my father. Mehrab Khan, the
chief of Kelat, managed to send away all his harem and family on the
morning of the fight, directly we were seen approaching, but his other
chiefs were not so fortunate, and the greater part of them deliberately
cut the throats of all the females belonging to their establishments,
including wives, mothers, and daughters, as soon as we established
ourselves within the town, rather than suffer them to fall into the
hands of us infidels. I forgot, I think, also, to mention that I managed
to procure rather a handsome Koran, which was found in the citadel, and
also an excellent Damascus blade, both of which I intend giving to my
father, and a few articles of native costume, which would go far to make
up a neat fancy dress, but it is not quite complete. A great number of
handsome articles were stolen by the camp followers and other rascals,
worse luck for us poor wounded officers, who could not help ourselves.
We were rather surprised at finding some excellent European articles in
the shape of double-barrelled guns, pistols, beautiful French musical
boxes, prints, looking-glasses, and pier-glasses, &c., in the rooms of
the citadel. Where Mehrab Khan could have picked them up I cannot
think, unless they were the result of some successful foray on some
unfortunate caravan.

The day after the fight, Captain Outram, of whom I have so often spoken
in my letters to my father, volunteered to take the dispatches to
Bombay, and started for that purpose straight across country to Someanee
Bay, on the sea-coast, a distance of 350 miles, and across the barren
mountains that compose the greatest part of Beloochistan. This route had
up to that time never been traversed by any European, except Pottinger,
who passed through all these countries twenty years ago, disguised as a
native. It was attempted last year by Captain Harris, of the Bombay
Engineers, author of the "African Excursions," a very enterprising
officer, and who landed at Someanee Bay for that purpose; but after
getting about twenty miles into the interior, reported the route as
impracticable. When this is taken into consideration, with the great
chance there was of Captain Outram's falling into the hands of the many
straggling fugitives from Kelat, and the well-known character of these
_gentlemen_, now smarting under the painful feeling of being driven from
their homes, &c., it must be confessed that it required no little pluck
to undertake it. The plan proved, however, perfectly successful. He
travelled in the disguise of an Afghan Peer or holy man, under the
guidance of two Afghan Seyds, a race of men much looked up to and
respected in all Mahomedan countries, on account of their obtaining,
[whether true or not, I know not] a pure descent from the Prophet.
Outram and his party fell in with several bands of fugitives, and
actually came up and were obliged to travel a day or two with the harem
and escort of Mehrab Khan's brother. As there was a chance of Outram's
being discovered by this party, the Seyd introduced him in the character
of a Peer, which holy disguise he had to support during the whole
journey; and after some extraordinary escapes he arrived at Someanee Bay
in seven or eight days.

Our sick and wounded have been left behind at Kelat, under the charge of
an officer of the 17th, since which things have gone on very smoothly
there. The new Khan has been very accommodating, and has given fetes,
&c., to the officers left behind, in honour of our gallantry. He has
also written to General Willshire to say that he intends giving us all a
medal each, whether we are allowed to wear it or not, as he does not see
why, if the Shah did it for Ghuzni, he might not do it also for Kelat.
Lord Auckland has published an order that all regiments belonging to the
Company that went beyond the Bolan Pass shall wear Afghanistan on their
colours and appointments, and all engaged at Ghuzni that name also; and
has written to the Queen for permission for Queen's regiments employed
in like manner to bear the same. I suppose we shall get Kelat in

There is one other point which, in my hurry to get my letter off in
time for the January mail, I totally forgot to mention--viz., about
drawing some money on my father. I have before mentioned the great
expense we have been put to in this campaign; in addition to this, when
we were ordered from Quettah to take Kelat, we were also under orders to
return to Quettah after having taken the place. A sergeant was therefore
left behind at Quettah to take charge of whatever effects any person
might leave, and officers were strongly advised to leave the greater
part of their kit at this place. I, as well as most of my brother
officers, was foolish enough to follow this advice, and brought only a
bundle of linen; consequently now I am almost minus everything;
dress-coat, appointments, are all left behind, as General Willshire,
after the taking of Kelat, instead of returning to Quettah, proceeded
into Cutch Gundava by the Gundava Pass. Nothing has been since heard of
what we have left behind, except that the sergeant could not get camels
or carriage sufficient to bring them down. Moreover, it is unsafe to go
through the Bolan Pass without a tolerably strong escort; so, taking all
things into consideration, I do not think there is much chance of our
ever seeing anything of them again. The consequences will be, that, on
our arrival at Bombay, I shall be obliged to get an entire new fit out,
and as the campaign has drained me dry, I shall be obliged to draw upon
my father for it; however, I will repay him by the end of the year, as
by that time the Company will have given us half a year's full batta,
which they intend doing as a sort of indemnification for the losses we
have sustained on the campaign; my batta will be about 72l.

I do not think I have any more to say, and as the January overland sails
on the 25th, I hope this letter will reach Bombay in time to go by it,
as well as my father's. By-the-bye, how is old Nelly? If she has any
good pups, I wish you would manage to keep one for me, as I expect the
old girl will be either dead or very old by the time I return. I am
longing to get out of the "Sick-list," as the thickets here near the
river are full of partridges and hares, and the climate, at this time of
the year, is very cool and pleasant. My rheumatism is much better since
I was wounded; but I still have it in my left arm. Well, no more; but
wishing you, and all, a happy new year.

Believe me ever your very affectionate brother,


Camp, Curachee, Feb. 14th, 1840.

MY DEAR FATHER,--You will see, by my date, that our share of the
campaign is ended; in fact, we are only waiting here for shipping, which
is on its way from Bombay, to take us from this place to Mandavie, in
Cutch, where we land, and then march immediately to Deesa, in Guzerat;
so that, after all our toilsome marches, &c., we have yet another, still
more toilsome, before us of 240 miles. The climate of Cutch and Guzerat
during the period of year that we shall be occupied in marching is so
hot that no changes of station are ever made even by native corps, and
Europeans are never allowed to march in Guzerat except during the cold
months. It is sharp work on our poor men; many of whom appear very unfit
for it; but they are now so accustomed to hard work, that they will get
well through it I have little doubt.

We left Tuggur Bandur, from which place I wrote to Eliza and Kate, on
the 13th of January, and drifted quietly down the river in boats,
pulling up and coming to an anchor every evening at sunset. We reached
Tatta Bundur, about five miles from the town, on the 21st, and after
staying there a few days, started again for this place, which we reached
in five marches, on the 31st. We were immediately most hospitably
entertained by the officers of H.M. 40th, which is an excellent
regiment. Here we have been ever since, living on the fat of the land,
and enjoying ourselves very much, after all our toils. This is now a
rather considerable station: one Queen's and one Company's regiment, and
detail of foot artillery, and plenty of European supplies brought by the
Bombay merchants. It is a very decent climate; and would make a very
good station. I wish they would leave us here in place of sending us to
Deesa, at this time of the year. Sir John Keane, General Willshire, and
the Bombay staff are expected here in a day or two. Sir John is bringing
down with him Hyder Khan, Dost Mahomed's son, who commanded at Ghuzni
when it was taken. He is to be brought to Bombay, and as he is of a very
quiet, amiable disposition, will, so report says, be eventually allowed
to join his father. Poor Dost, they say, is in a very bad way, deserted
by nearly all his followers; but there still seems to be mischief
brewing in the north-west. All accounts say that Bokhara is very much
inclined to the Russian interest, and Shah Kamran's vizier at Herat has
been carrying on a correspondence with the Persians, the object of which
is said to be the delivery of Herat into their hands. The Punjab is also
in a very unsettled state; so there are plenty of materials for getting
up another row in these countries before long. War is most positively
said to be decided on with China, and seven regiments, to be followed by
a reserve of equal number, together with a considerable naval force, are
to be sent there as soon as possible. Lord Auckland, we are told, has
had _carte blanche_ from the Home government to act as he thinks fit
with regard to China, and that he has determined upon a hostile movement
as soon as this campaign is regularly finished, which it may be said to
be; so there will be glorious fun there. It is not yet known here what
regiments will go. I am afraid there is little chance for the Queen's.

The 4th Light Dragoons have arrived here, having come down by land; they
are to return to their old quarters at Kickee, near Poonah. The 17th may
also be expected in a few days; they are to occupy our old quarters at
Belgaum. The 18th (Royal Irish) have come on from Ceylon, and are to go
to Poonah; and the 6th go home (to England) as soon as possible. This is
understood to be the destination of each regiment, but this affair with
China may cause an alteration.

I am very sorry to mention the unfortunate death of poor little Halkett,
one of my best friends, and the son of General Halkett, of Hanover, who
was so very civil to me while I was there, and nephew of Sir Colin

Since we have been here, I have received your letter, dated November
2nd, by which it appears that you had just then heard of the taking of
Ghuzni. You mentioned, also, in it that you had received my letter from
Candahar, which I am very glad to hear, as I was very much afraid, from
the state of the country, that it would never reach its destination. As
you mention nothing about it, I suppose you had not received the letter
I wrote from Ghuzni almost immediately after the capture. I know many
letters were lost about that time, and mine, I am afraid, among the
number. There is a report here (but I think, too good to be true) that
all officers with the advance, or storming, party at Ghuzni, consisting
of the light companies of the European regiments, were to get brevet
rank. In that case, as the company to which I belong--viz, the
Light--was one of the number, and, in fact, headed the assault, Capt
Holdsworth would be my future rank. Tell Eliza that I got her letter
which was enclosed in yours, and was very much surprised at its

I do not know what to say about Deesa as station, reports are so various
on the subject. The heat, I believe is awful in the hot weather the
thermometer rising to 120 in the houses; and the worst part of the
business is, that this heat, which is occasioned by the hot winds, lasts
all night through; so that the night is nearly as hot as the day. At
other times of the year, I believe, the climate is very pleasant. The
40th give a very good account of it. There is a great quantity of game
there, and some of the best hog-hunting in India. Mount Aboo, called the
Parnassus of India, is within fifty miles of it, and is a great place of
resort during the hot weather.

Should this expedition to China take place, which seems decided upon at
present, what an immense power the English will eventually have in the
East. In a few years, I have no doubt it may extend from Herat to the
most eastern parts of China, including all the islands in the adjacent
seas. Like the Romans, England seems to be extending her dominion
everywhere--"super et Garamantes et Indos, proferet imperium," and yet
what a row she kicks up about Russia. The French papers seem to be
rather jealous about Ghuzni. How the English papers butter it up! and
yet it was not half so brilliant an affair as Kelat, nor so hardly
contested; but very little is said about the latter.

Enclosed, I send you a view of the north front of Kelat, shewing the
gate by which we entered. It gives you a pretty good idea of the place,
and was drawn by Lieutenant Creed, of the Engineers.

I went yesterday to see a tank, about seven miles from this place, in
which are a great quantity of alligators, half tame. The tank in which
they are belongs to a Mahomedan temple, which is considered a very holy
one, and much resorted to, and these animals are kept there by the
priests of the establishment, in order to induce a greater number of
visitors. A calf was killed and thrown in among the scaly gentlemen, who
very soon demolished it. I never saw anything so loathesome and
repulsive as these monsters.

This letter goes by the "Hannah" packet, which sails this evening for
Bombay, and will, I hope, reach that place in time to go by the
"overland packet." I suppose you know that this is classic ground, and
the place from which Nearchus, Alexander's admiral, started on his
return to the Euphrates. I have no time for more. So, with love to all
at home,

Believe me your affectionate son,


Deesa, April 21st, 1840.

MY DEAR FATHER,--I received your letter, dated January 18th, about the
beginning of this month, while on our march from Mandavie to this place.
I see by the papers that the news of the taking of Kelat had readied
England, as I find my name mentioned in the "Western Luminary," which
came out in this overland. I wrote you last from Curachee, about the
beginning or middle of February. We stayed there till the 20th. A few
days before we left, Lord Keane and suite arrived, bringing with him
Hyder Khan, the captured chief of Ghuzni. While there, Lord Keane
presented new colours to the 40th regiment, which we had an opportunity
of witnessing. He and all his party have since gone home.

On the 20th, I, with my company under my command, embarked for Mandavie,
in Cutch, where we arrived in two days, in Patamars, and waited till the
whole regiment came down, which they did by companies, so that it was
the 10th of March before we were able to start for this place.

We arrived here on the 4th of this month, pushing on as fast as we
could, as the commanding officer was anxious to get the men under cover,
on account of the great heat. There was excellent shooting the whole way
up; and if it had been the cold season, I should have enjoyed the march
amazingly; but it was too hot to venture out. On arrival here we found
about three hundred recruits, who had arrived since we went on service,
and about fifty of the men we left behind us; also seven new officers.
As I have a company under my command I have scarcely had a moment to
myself since I have been here; what with fitting and getting the
recruits in order, and new clothing the old hands, you have no
conception what tedious work it is getting into quarters.

I have bought a very comfortable little bungalo for four hundred rupees.
We were promised our full batta on our arrival here; but, although the
Bengalees, it is said, received theirs some time ago, yet there is a
screw loose, I fear, somewhere in the Bombay, and that it may be some
time before we get ours, and that it will not be as much as the
Bengalees: so much for being in an inferior Presidency. This is a great
disappointment, after our losses on the campaign.

With regard to this place, I have not been long enough in it to form an
opinion. Its appearance is decidedly against it, the soil being nothing
but a barren sandy desert, with the low hills of the Aravulles to the
eastward, running north to the mountain Aboo, the Parnassus of
Hindostan. The last week has been oppressive, and hot in the extreme;
and this is but the commencement of the hot weather, which I am told
will last about six weeks longer, when a very slight monsoon comes on,
and lasts at intervals till the end of October, when the cold season
commences, which is said to be very pleasant. There is a lot of game
here of every description, including lions; and it is one of the best
hog-hunting stations in India.

Our men, to the surprise of everybody, were very healthy in the march
up; and since they have been here, and not having their knapsacks to
carry, knocked off their work in grand style. The men we have brought
back with us are well-seasoned, hardy fellows, and I would back them to
march against any soldiers in the world.

I suppose you have long ere this received Stisted's letter and mine
about Kelat. Colonel Arnold[A] died at Cabool whilst we were there, and
was buried with a magnificent military funeral in the Armenian

[Footnote A: Colonel Arnold was in the 10th Hussars at Waterloo, and
shot through the body in the charge in which Major Howard, of that
regiment, was killed.]

I am sorry to say that, as I predicted, the spear which I took at the
storming of Ghuzni has been broken to pieces through the carelessness of
my servants. I have, however, the Koran and sword from Kelat; and I
think I shall be able to get a matchlock taken at that place,--a very
good specimen of the sort of thing I was wounded by; perhaps it may be
the identical one. The sword I left in Cutch, in my way up from
Mandavie, to be put to rights, as the workmen of that country are the
best in India, I will try if I can get another weapon, as a remembrance
of Ghuzni. I brought down from Cabool as far as Quettah a very good
specimen of the Kyber knife, a very cut-throat sort of instrument, with
which every Afghan is armed. I sent it down with my other things through
the Bolan Pass, when we turned off to Kelat, and I am sorry to say it
was stolen.

You write about old ----: did I never mention him to you? He is here;
but was not with us on the campaign, being too unwell when we started.
Though not an old man, he is a very old soldier for an Indian, and is
nearly worn out: he is anxious to get his discharge at the end of the
year, when he will have served his twenty-one years, and be entitled to
a decent pension. He is a very straight-forward, blunt, honest old
fellow, and when he first joined was a very powerful man, and the best
wrestler in the regiment, thereby proving his South Devon blood. He was
----'s servant when I joined, and I was delighted at hearing the South
Devon dialect again, which he speaks with so much truth and native
elegance that you would imagine he had but just left his native village.
There were a great many Devonshire men in the regiment; we lost one, a
very fine young man in the Grenadiers, in coming down from Kelat to
Cutch Gundava, by the same chest complaint that carried off so many: he
was a native of Tiverton.

Well; it is twelve o'clock, and I am afraid I shall be too late for the
post; so good bye.

Your affectionate son,

* * * * *



_(From the Bombay Government Gazette Extraordinary of August 29th,


Bombay Castle, Aug 29th, 1839.

The Honourable the Governor in Council has the highest satisfaction in
republishing the following notification issued by the Right Honourable
the Governor-General, announcing the capture by storm of the town and
fortress of Ghuzni, as also the general order issued on the occasion by
his Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane, K.C.B. and G.C.H.,
Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Indus. By order of the Honourable
the Governor in Council,

L.R. REID, Acting Chief Secretary.

* * * * *


Simla, August 18th, 1839.

The Right Hon. the Governor-General of India has great gratification in
publishing, for general information, a copy of a report this day
received from his Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir John Keane, K.C.B,
Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Indus, announcing the capture, by
storm, on the 23d ult., of the important fortress of Ghuzni.

A salute of twenty-one guns will be fired on the receipt of this
intelligence at all the principal stations of the army in the three
Presidencies. By order of the Right Hon. the Governor-General of India,

(Signed) T.H. MADDOCK,
Officiating Secretary to the Government of
India, with the Governor-General.

* * * * *


MY LORD,--I have the satisfaction to acquaint your Lordship that the
army under my command have succeeded in performing one of the most
brilliant acts it has ever been my lot to witness during my service of
forty-five years in the four quarters of the globe, in the capture, by
storm, of the strong and important fortress and citadel of Ghuzni

It is not only that the Afghan nation, and, I understand, Asia generally
have looked upon it as impregnable; but it is in reality a place of
great strength, both by nature and art, far more so than I had reason to
suppose from any description that I had received of it, although some
are from others in our own service who had seen it in their travels.

I was surprised to find a high rampart in good repair, built on a
scarped mound about thirty-five feet high, flanked by numerous towers,
and surrounded by a fausse brayze and a wet ditch, whilst the height of
the citadel covered the interior from the commanding fire of the hills
from the north, rendering it nugatory. In addition to this, screen walls
had been built before the gates, the ditch was filled with water, and
unfordable, and an outwork built on the right bank of the river so as to
command the bed of it.

It is therefore the more honourable to the troops, and must appear to
the enemy out of all calculation extraordinary, that a fortress and
citadel to the strength of which, for the last thirty years, they had
been adding something each year, and which had a garrison of 3500 Afghan
soldiers, commanded by Prince Mahomed Hyder, the son of Dost Mahomed
Khan, the ruler of the country, with a commanding number of guns, and
abundance of ammunition, and other stores, provisions, &c., for regular
siege, should have been taken by British science and British valour in
less than two hours from the time the attack was made, and the whole,
including the governor and garrison, should fall into our hands.

My dispatch of the 20th instant, from Nanee, will have made known to
your Lordship that the camps of his Majesty Shah Shooja-ool-Moolk, and
of Major-General Willshire, with the Bombay troops, had there joined me
in accordance with my desire, and the following morning we made our
march of twelve miles to Ghuzni, the line of march being over a fine
plain. The troops were disposed in a manner that would have enabled me
at any moment, had we been attacked, as was probable, from the large
bodies of troops moving on each side of us, to have placed them in
position to receive the enemy. They did not, however, appear; but on our
coming within range of the guns of the citadel and fortress of Ghuzni, a
sharp cannonade was opened on our leading column, together with a heavy
fire of musketry from behind garden walls, and temporary field-works
thrown up, as well as the strong outwork I have already alluded to,
which commanded the bed of the river from all but the outwork. The enemy
were driven in under the walls of the fort in a spirited manner by
parties thrown forward by Major-General Sir Willoughby Cotton, of the
16th and 48th Bengal Native Infantry, and her Majesty's 13th Light
Infantry, under Brigadier Sale. I ordered forward three troops of horse
artillery, the camel battery, and one foot battery, to open upon the
citadel and fortress, by throwing shrapnel shells, which was done in a
masterly style under the direction of Brigadier Stephenson. My object in
this was to make the enemy shew their strength in guns, and in other
respects, which completely succeeded, and our shells must have done
great execution, and occasioned great consternation. Being perfectly
satisfied on the point of their strength in the course of half an hour,
I ordered the fire to cease, and placed the troops in bivouac. A close
reconnoissance of the place all around was then undertaken by Captain
Thomson, the chief engineer, and Captain Peat, of the Bombay Engineers,
accompanied by Major Garden, the Deputy Quartermaster-General of the
Bombay army, supported by a strong party of her Majesty's 16th Lancers,
and one from her Majesty's 18th Light Infantry. On this party a steady
fire was kept up, and some casualties occurred. Captain Thomson's report
was very clear, he found the fortifications equally strong all round;
and, as my own opinion coincided with him, I did not hesitate a moment
as to the manner in which our approach and attack upon the place should
be made. Notwithstanding the march the troops had performed in the
morning, and then having been a considerable time engaged with the
enemy, I ordered the whole to move across the river (which runs close
under the fort wall) in columns, to the right and left of the town, and
they were placed in opposition on the north side on more commanding
ground, and securing the Cabool road. I had information that a night
attack upon the camp was intended from without. Mahomed Ubzul Khan, the
eldest son of Dost Mahomed Khan, had been sent by his father with a
strong body of troops from Cabool to the brother's assistance at Ghuzni,
and was encamped outside the walls, but abandoned his position on our
approach, keeping, however, at the distance of a few miles from us. The
two rebel chiefs of the Ghiljee tribe, men of great influence--viz.,
Abdool Rhuman and Gool Mahomed Khan, had joined him with 1500 horse, and
also a body of about 3000 Ghazees from Zeimat, under a mixture of chiefs
and mollahs, carrying banners, and who had been assembled on the cry of
a religious war. In short, we were in all directions surrounded by
enemies. These last actually came down the hills on the 22nd, and
attacked the part of the camp occupied by his Majesty Shah Shooja and
his own troops, but were driven back with considerable loss, and banners

At daylight on the 22nd I reconnoitered Ghuzni, in company with the
chief engineer and the brigadier commanding the artillery, with the
adjutant and quartermaster-general of the Bengal army, for the purpose
of making all arrangements for carrying the place by storm, and these
were completed in the course of the day. Instead of the tedious process
of breaching, (for which we were ill prepared,) Captain Thomson
undertook, with the assistance of Captain Peat, of the Bombay Engineers,
Lieutenants Durand and Macleod, of the Bengal Engineers, and other
officers under him, (Captain Thomson,) to blow in the Cabool gate, the
weakest point, with gunpowder; and so much faith did I place on the
success of this operation that my plans for the assault were immediately
laid down and the orders given.

The different troops of horse artillery, the camel and foot batteries,
moved off their ground at twelve o'clock that night, without the
slightest noise, as had been directed, and in the most correct manner
took up the position assigned them, about 250 yards from the walls. In
like manner, and with the same silence, the infantry soon after moved
from their ground, and all were at their post at the proper time. A few
minutes before three o'clock in the morning the explosion took place,
and proved completely successful. Captain Peat, of the Bombay Engineers,
was thrown down and stunned by it, but shortly after recovered his
senses and feeling. On hearing the advance sounded by the bugle, (being
the signal for the gate having been blown in,) the artillery, under the
able directions of Brigadier Stevenson, consisting of Captain Grant's
troop of Bengal Horse Artillery, the camel battery, under Captain
Abbott, both superintended by Major Pew, Captains Martin and Cotgrave's
troops of Bombay Horse Artillery, and Captain Lloyd's battery of Bombay
Foot Artillery, all opened a terrific fire upon the citadel and ramparts
of the fort, and, in a certain degree, paralysed the enemy.

Under the guidance of Captain Thomson, of The Bengal Engineers, the
chief of the department, Colonel Dennie of her Majesty's 13th Light
Infantry, commanding the advance, consisting of the light companies of
her Majesty's 2nd and 17th regiments of Foot, and of the Bengal European
regiment, with one company, of her Majesty's 13th Light Infantry,
proceeded to the gate, and with great difficulty, from the rubbish
thrown down, and determined opposition offered by the enemy, effected an
entrance, and established themselves within the gateway closely followed
by the main column, led in a spirit of great gallantry by Brigadier
Sale, to whom I had entrusted the important post of commanding the
storming party, consisting (with the advance above-mentioned) of her
Majesty's 2nd Foot, under Major Carruthers; the Bengal European
regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Orchard, followed by her Majesty's
13th Light Infantry, under Major Thomson; and her Majesty's 17th
regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Croker. The struggle within the fort
was desperate for a considerable time. In addition to the heavy file
kept up, our troops were assailed by the enemy sword in hand, and with
daggers, pistols, &c.; but British courage, perseverance, and fortitude,
overcame all opposition, and the fire of the enemy in the lower area of
the fort being nearly silenced, Brigadier Sale turned towards the
citadel, from which could now be seen men abandoning the guns, running
in all directions, throwing themselves down from immense heights,
endeavouring to make their escape; and on reaching the gate with her
Majesty's 17th, under Lieutenant-Colonel Croker, followed by the 13th,
forced it open at five o'clock in the morning. The colours of her
Majesty's 13th and 17th were planted on the citadel of Ghuzni amidst the
cheers of all ranks. Instant protection was granted to the women found
in the citadel, (among whom were those of Mahomed Hyder, the governor)
and sentries placed over the magazine for its security. Brigadier Sale
reports having received much assistance from Captain Kershaw, of her
Majesty's 13th Light Infantry, throughout the whole of the service of
the storming.

Major General Sir Willoughby Cotton executed in a manner much to my
satisfaction the orders he had received. The Major General followed
closely the assaulting party into the fort with the reserve--namely,
Brigadier Roberts, with the only available regiment of his brigade; the
35th Native Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Monteath; part of
Brigadier Sale's brigade, the 16th Native Infantry, under Major
Maclaren; and 48th Native Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Wheeler;
and they immediately occupied the ramparts, putting down opposition
whenever they met any, and making prisoners, until the place was
completely in our possession A desultory fire was kept up in the town
long after the citadel was in our hands, from those who had taken
shelter in houses, and in desperation kept firing on all that approached
them. In this way several of our men were wounded, and some killed, but
the aggressors paid dearly for their bad conduct in not surrendering
when the place was completely ours. I must not omit to mention that
three companies of the 35th Native Infantry, under Captain Hay, ordered
to the south side of the fort to begin with a false attack, to attract
attention on that side, performed that service at the proper time, and
greatly to my satisfaction.

As we were threatened with an attack for the relief of the garrison, I
ordered the 19th Bombay Native Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant
Colonel Stalker, to guard the Cabool road, and to be in support of the
cavalry division. This might have proved an important position to
occupy, but as it was, no enemy appeared.

The cavalry division, under Major-General Thackwell, in addition to
watching the approach of an enemy, had directions to surround Ghuzni,
and to sweep the plain, preventing the escape of runaways from the
garrison. Brigadier Arnold's brigade--the Brigadier himself, I deeply
regret to say, was labouring under very severe illness, having shortly
before burst a blood-vessel internally, which rendered it wholly
impossible for him to mount a horse that day--consisting of her
Majesty's 16th Lancers, under Lieutenant-Colonel Persse, temporarily
commanding the brigade, and Major Mac Dowell, the junior major of the
regiment, (the senior major of the 16th Lancers Major Cureton, an
officer of great merit, being actively engaged in the execution of his
duties as Assistant Adjutant-General to the cavalry division,) the 2nd
Cavalry, under Major Salter, and the 3rd, under Lieutenant-Colonel
Smith, were ordered to watch the south and west sides. Brigadier Scott's
brigade were placed on the Cabool road, consisting of her Majesty's 4th
Light Dragoons, under Major Daly, and of the 1st Bombay Cavalry under
Lieutenant-Colonel Sandwith, to watch the north and east sides: this
duty was performed in a manner greatly to my satisfaction.

After the storming, and that quiet was in some degree restored within, I
conducted his Majesty Shah Shooja-ool-Moolk, and the British Envoy and
Minister, Mr. Macnaghten, round the citadel and a great part of the
fortress. The king was perfectly astonished at our having made ourselves

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