The Military Operations at Cahill, which ended in the Retreat and Destruction of the British Army, January 1842; with a Journal of Imprisonment in Afghanis- tan. By Lieut. Vinceut Eyre, Bengal Artillery. late Deputy Commissary of Ord- nance at Cahill Murray. Ficnow.
The Life and Adventures of Martin Churzlewit. his Relatives. Friends, and Enemies; comprising all his Wills and his Ways ; with an Historical Record of What he Did and What he Didn't; showing. moreover. who inherited the Family Plate, who came in for the Silver Spoons, and who for the Wooden Ladles : the whole forming a complete key to the House of Chuzzlewit. Edited by Boz. With Illus- trations by Phis. Chapman clad Hall. Jessie Phillips ; a Tale of the New Poor-law. With illustrations by Leech. To be completed in twelve Monthly Parts. By Frances Trollope, Authoress of " Mi-
chael Armstrong, the Factory Boy," &c. Bac .. Cohort,. Pozzar, The Fountain and other Poems. By William Cullen Bryant.
Wiley and Putnam. Laidon and New Poll, LIEUTENANT EYRE'S ACCOUNT OF THE DISGRACES AT CABUL, AND OF HIS OWN IMPRISONMENT. LIEUTENANT EYRE was on active service in Cabul at the first otrtp., break of the 2d November 1841, which ended in the death of ti BURNES and others ; he continued in the cantonments, bearing a part in the different " affairs " that took place, till the retreat was commenced on the 5th January 1842 ; and he accompanied the dis- organized and disastrous route until the married ladies and their husbands were delivered up to MAHOMED AKBAR, as the only means of preserving their lives. Wounded and incapable of ser- vice, Lieutenant EYRE followed his wife, and underwent the long detention and many pilgrimages about the country of the other pri- soners, till the advance of General POLLOCK and their own resolution effected their escape to Cabul on the 21st September. During this time, Lieutenant EYRE kept a journal of events, with remarks upon them : this diary was sent piecemeal to a military friend in India, as opportunity offered, and by him transmitted to the author's relations in England. The volume before us consists of the entire journal, from the first outbreak in Cabul till the destruction of the five thousand fighting men and the twelve thousand camp- followers of which the army consisted, and a narrative -of the pri- soners detention from January till June ; after which time, there are only occasional fragments, and a brief letter by Mr. EYRE an- nouncing his safe arrival at Cabul.
In reading this work, great allowance should perhaps be made for the temporary interest of the subject, which has for so long a period excited the public mind, not merely for the national loss and discredit, but from the political feelings connected with the events. Thus qualified, the " Journal of an Afghan Prisoner" is one of the most enchaining narratives we have met with for a long time. The book deals only with negligence, incapacity, sloth, disaster, disgrace, and at last destruction, mingled here and there with individual traits of conduct or heroism ; but the reader is hurried on as in a tragic story, till the fatal close of the most disas- trous retreat on record, when Dr. BRYDON, the sole representative of seventeen thousand persons, was hunted into Jellalabad. The account of the detention, though wanting the historical attraction of great events, and not distinguished by the interest of danger, (for the prisoners on the whole appear to have been humanely treated,) yet exhibits so much of novelty in the modes of living and conse- quent privation, that, coupled with the foregone conclusion of their dangers, the reader is unwilling to quit the narrative till its close. How much of this may be intrinsic, and how much dependent upon contemporary feelings, we cannot undertake to say ; but none of it arises from the art of the narrator. The literary merits of the book are fulness of information, distinctness of arrangement and of view, with a kind of military precision of style, which rises in spirit rather than in composition with the rising interest of events. But Lieutenant EYRE has no literary or rhetorical skill: in pro- fessional matters, especially, his descriptions have the technical minuteness of particularity which resembles a reporter's account of the name, number, and letter of one of " the force" ; and his diction might be found somewhat clogged by the inartificial posi- tion of his words, were the style considered apart from the interest of the matter.
It is not, however, for its literature, or its interest as an histo- rical narrative, that Lieutenant EYRE'S work derives its-chief im- portance, but for its astounding picture of the blindness which caused and consummated the Cabul tragedy. In The Military Operations at Cabul the reader has a general view of the supineness and false economy of Lord AUCKLAND'S Government, and the dis- regarded premonitions of the coming event by the resident autho- rities, together with a day-by-day picture of their benumbed inertiae, by which it would seem the ancient proverb was fulfilling, " quem Deus vult perdere prius dementat." The facts unfolding these things, and the commentaries upon them, are by an eye-witness professionally engaged in the events he is recording, and by an eye- witness fully aware of the responsibility attending the statements of a man of his rank and position.* The author also pledges himself to the accuracy of his facts, and upholds the propriety of his comments. " In these notes," he says, "I have been careful to state only what I know to be undeniable facts. I have set down nothing on mere hearsay evidence, nor any thing which cannot be attested by living witnesses, or by existing documentary evidence.
• The reader must not confound a Lieutenant of Artillery with a Lieute- nant in any other arm : the paucity of high grade, and the promotion by seniority in the scientific branches of the Army, render rank in them very rare ; and we believe a captain was the commander of the Artillery during the Peninsular war. ;' In treating of matters which occurred under my own personal ob- servation, it has been difficult to avoid altogether the occasional ex- pression of my own individual opinion ; but I hope it will be found that I have made no observations bearing hard on men or measures, that are either uncalled-for or will not stand the test of future in- vestigation." That Lieutenant ETRE must have his own views, is
clear ; that he may have prejudices connected with military points which may unconsciously bias his opinions, or that be may give way to personal feelings, is probable; and it is self-evident that he is passing a judgment after the event. But with every allow- ance for these circumstances, his story conveys so gross a charge against all concerned, and calls so loudly for keen inquiry, and if the conclusions be established for the severest censure, that we shall as little as possible trust ourselves to convey the impressions that we have derived from Lieutenant ESEE'S book, but allow him to express his charges in his own words.
As a preliminary, however, it may be proper to observe, that besides the national spirit of the people, and their dislike to foreign interference, one first cause of the insurrection was the reduction of the stipends of certain Giljye chiefs, under circumstances that looked like breach of public faith; another, the manner in which the disaffected and rebellious were allowed to take shelter in half- insurrectionary districts, which gave an idea of British weakness; a third was a resolution, in spite of warning, to persist in considering Afghanistan a conquered country and the Afghans a subdued and settled people; and lastly, the employment of an insufficient force by the Indian Government, which rendered it impossible to occupy the country properly, even had the authorities at Cabul been so in- clined. To facilitate the full apprehension of the following ex- tracts, we may remark, that the causes which enabled the insur- rection to succeed were-1. The self-confidence and negligence of the authorities immediately preceding the outbreak and during its early stage : 2. The ill-judged position and construction of the cantonment and commissariat, with all the arrangements connected therewith : 3. The indecision, approaching to mental paralysis, of General ELEHINSTONE ; and the equal incapacity as a captain, though with more activity as a soldier, of General SHELTON : 4. The consequent disorganization, depression, and eventually the panic-cowardice of the troops ; the British, strange to write it, being worse than the Sepoys, whilst at last the officers themselves disobeyed, or at least made an option of obeying orders. To this specific list may be added more general causes—a difference between the Envoy and the Commander ; the soldier considering retreat desirable, the Political wishing to "hold out" as long as possible, among other reasons, as he expressed it in a public letter, that " something might turn up in our favour," (page 96 ;) the two months wasted in doing nothing at all, or in occasionally attempting petty operations, which, if they had been fully success- ful, could not have put down the insurrection or extricated the army; the immense number of camp-followers, and of women and children, who had been encouraged (page 81) by the authorities to follow their husbands into Afghanistan ; and the evidently critical condition of the army, which prevented our native friends from showing themselves, whilst our numbers and the British nat'ie kept our enemies from quarrelling, which they did as soon as the army was destroyed. Limited as we are by space, these gen eral causes must be taken upon our credit : of the more specific charges we will adduce some evidence.
It Mist be remarked that, for some time previous to these overt acts of re- bellion, (before the outbreak,] thealways strong and Nil-repressed personal d's like of the Afghans towards Europeans had been manifested in a more than usually open manner in and about Cabul. Officers had been insulted and at- tempts made to assassinate them. Two Europeans had been murdered, as also several camp-followers. But these and other signs of the approaching storm bad unfortunately been passed over as mere ebullitions of private angry feeling. This incredulity and apathy is the more to be lamented, as it was pretty well known that on the occasion of the shub-khoom, or first night attack on the Thirty-fifth Native Infantry at Bootkhak, a large portion of our assailants consisted of the armed retainers of the different men of consequence in Cabal itself, large parties of whom had been seen proceeding from the city to the scene of action on the evening of the attack, and afterwards returning. Al- though these men had to pass either through the heart or round the skirts of our camp at Seeah Sung, it was not deemed expedient even to question them, far less to detain them.
Widely-spread and formidable as this insurrection [the actual outbreak]
proved to be afterwards, it was at first a mere insignificant ebullition of discon- tent on the part of a few desperate and restless men, which military energy and promptitude ought to have crushed in the bud. Its commencement was an attack, by certainly not three hundred meo, on the dwellings of Sir Alex- ander Burnes and Captain Johnson, Paymaster to the Shah's force; and so little did Sir Alexander himself apprehend serious consequences, that he not only refused, on its first breaking out, to comply with the earnest entreaties of the wuzeer to accompany him to the Bala Hissar, but actually forbade his guard to fire on the assailants; attempting to check what he supposed to be a mere riot, by haranguing the attacking party from the gallery of his house.
No man, surely, in a highly-responsible public situation—especially in such a one as that held by the late Sir Alexander Burnes—ought ever to indulge in a state of blind security, or to neglect salutary warnings, however small. It is indisputable that such warnings had been given to him ; especially by a re- spectable Afghan named Taj•Mahomed, on the very previous night, who went in person to Sir Alexander Burnes to put him on his guard, but retired dis- gusted by the incredulity with which his assertions were received.
The King, who was in the Bala Hissar, being somewhat startled by the in- creasing number of the rioters, although not at the time aware, so far as we can judge, of the assassination of Sir Alexander Burnes, despatched one of his sone with a number of his immediate Afghan retainers, and that corps of ilindoostaneea commonly called Campbell's Regiment, with:tvro guns, to restore order : no support, however, was rendered to these by our troops, whose leaders appeared so thunderstruck by the intelligence of the outbreak, as to be inca- pable of adopting more than the most puerlle defensive measures. Even Sir William Macnaghten seemed, from a note received at this time from him by Captain Trevor, to apprehend little danger, as he therein expressed his perfect confidence as to the speedy and complete success of Campbell's Hindoostanees in putting an end to the disturbance. Such, however, was not the case ; for the enemy, encouraged by our inaction, increased rapidly in spirit and numbers, and drove back the King's guard with great slaughter, the guns being with dif-
ficulty saved. • •
Soon after this, Brigadier Shelton's force arrived ; but the day was suffered to pass without any thing being done demonstrative of British energy and power. The murder of our countrymen, and the spoliation of public and pri- vate property, was perpetrated with impunity within a mile of our cantonment, and under the very walls of the Bala Masan
THE CHOICE OF HEAD•QUAETERS.
To render our position intelligible, it is necessary to describe the canton- ment, or fortified lines so called. It is uncertain whether, for the faults which I am about to describe, any blame justly attaches to Lieutenant Sturt, the en- gineer, a talented and sensible officer, but who was often obliged to yield his better judgment to the spirit of false economy which characterized our Afghan policy. the credit, however, of having selected a site fur the cantonments, or controlled the execution of its works, is not a distinction now likely to be claimed exclusively by any one. But it must always remain a wonder that any government, or any officer or set of officers, who bad either science or caper'• euce in the field, should, in a half-conquered country, fix their forces (already inadequate to the services to which they might be called) in so extraordinary and injudicious a military position. Every Engineer officer who had been con- sulted, since the first occupation of Cabal by our troops, had pointed to the Bala Hissar as the only suitable place for a garrison which was to keep in sub• jection the city and the surrounding country ; but, above all, it was surely the only proper site for the magazine, on which the army's efficiency depended. In defiance, however, of rule and precedent, the position eventually fixed upon for our magazine and cantonment was a piece of low, swampy ground, com- manded on all sides by bills or forts. It consisted of a low rampart and a nar- row ditch in the form of a parallelogram, thrown up along the line of the Rohistan road, 1,000 yards long and 600 broad, with round flanking bastions at each corner, every one of which was commanded by sonic fort or hill. To one end of this work was attached a space nearly half as large again, and sur- rounded by a simple wall. This was called the "'Mission Compound " : half of it was appropriated for the residence of the Envoy; the other half being crowded with buildings, erected without any attempt at regularity, for the ac- commodation of the officers and assistants of the mission, and the Envoy's body-guard. This large space required in time of siege to be defended, and thus materially weakened the garrison; while its very existence rendered the whole face of the cantonment, to which it was annexed, nugatory for purposes of defence. Besides these disadvantages, the lines were a great deal too ex- tended, so that the ramparts could not be properly manned without harassing the garrison. On the eastern side, about a quarter of a mile off, flowed the Cabal river in a direction parallel with the Kohistan road. Between the river and cantonments, about la) yards from the latter, was a wide canal. General Elphinatone, on his arrival in April 1841, perceived at a glance the utter un- fitness of the cantonment for purposes of protracted defence ; and when a new fort was about to be built for the magazine on the South side, he liberally offered to purchase for the Government, out of his own funds, a large portion of the land in the vicinity, with the view of removing some very objectionable enclosures and:gardens, which offered shelter to our enemy within 200 yards of our ramparts : but neither was his offer accepted, nor were his repre- sentations on the subject attended with any good result. He lost no time, however, in throwing a bridge over the river, in a direct line between the can- tonmenta and the Seeah Sung camp, and in rendering the bridge over the canal passable for guns. • ' •But the most unaccountable oversight of all, and that which may be said to have contributed most largely to our subsequent dis- asters, was that of having the Commissariat stores detached from cantonmeuts; in an old fort, which, in an outbreak, would be almost indefensible. Captain Skinner, the chief Commissariat officer, at the time when this arrangement was made, earnestly solicited from the authorities a place within the cantonment for his stores ; but received for answer, that "no such place could be given him, as they were far too busy in erecting barracks for the men to think ot Commis- sariat stores." The Envoy himself pressed this point very urgently, but with-. out avail.
THE LOSS OF THE COMMISSARIAT.
Ensign Warren, of the Fifth Native Infantry, at this time occupied the Com- missariat fort with one hundred men ; and having reported that he was very hard pressed by the enemy, and in danger of being completely cut off, the General, either forgetful or unaware at the moment of the important fact that upon the possession of this fort we were entirely dependent for provisions, and anxious only to save the lives of men whom he believed to be in imminent peril, hastily gave directions that a party under the command of Captain Swayne of her Majesty's Forty-fourth Regiment should proceed immediately to bring off Ensign War- ren and his garrison to cantonments, abandoning the fort to the enemy. • • It now seemed to the officer on whom the command bad devolved, impracti- cable to bring off Ensign Warren's party, without risking the annihilation of his own, which had already sustained so rapid and severe a loss in officers: he therefore returned forthwith to cantonments. In the course of the evening, another attempt was made by a party of the Fifth Light Cavalry; but they encountered so severe a fire from the neighbouring enclosures as obliged them to return without effecting their desired object, with the loss of eight troopers killed, and fourteen badly wounded. Captain Boyd, the Assistant-Commis-a- riat-General, having meanwhile been made acquainted with the General's in- tention to give up the fort, hastened to lay before him the disastrous conse- quences that would ensue from so doing. He stated that the place contained, besides large supplies of wheat and atta, all his stores of rum, medicine, cloth- ing, Ere., the value of which might be estimated at four Inca of rupees; that to abandon such valuable property would not only expose the force to the im- mediate want of the necessaries of life, but would infallibly inspire the enemy with tenfold courage. lie added, that we had not above two days' supply of provisions in cantonments, and that neither himself nor Captain Johnson of the Shah's Commissariat had any prospect of prccuring them elsewhere under existing circumstances. In consequence of this strong representation on the part of Captain Boyd, the General sent immediate orders to Ensign Warren to hold out the fort to the last extremity. (Ensign Warren, it must be re- marked, denied having received this note.) Early in the night a letter was received from him, to the effect that he believed the enemy were busily en- gaged in mining one of the towers, and that such was the alarm among the Se- poys that several of them had actually made their escape over the wall to can- tonments; that the enemy were making preparations to burn down the gate; and that, considering the temper of his men, he did not expect to he able to hold out many hours longer, unless reinforced without delay. In reply to this, he was informed that he would be reinforced by two a. m.
At about nine o'clock p. in. there was an assembly of Staff and other officers at the General's house ; when the Envoy came in and expressed his serious con- viction, that unless Mahomed Shereers fort were taken that very night, we should lose the Commissariat fort, or at all events be unable to bring out of it provisions for the troops. The disaster of the morning rendered the General extremely unwilling to expose his officers and men to any si alar peril; button the other hand, it was urged that the darkness of the night would nullify the
enemy's fire, who would also most likely be taken unawares, as it was not the custom of the Afghans to maintain a very strict watch at night. A man in Captain Johnson's employ was accordingly sent out to reconnoitre the place : be returned in a few minutes with the intelligence that about twenty men were seated outside the fort near the gate, smoking and talking; and from that he overheard of their conversation, he judged the garrison to be very small, aid unable to resist a sudden onset. The debate was now resumed, but an- other hour passed and the General could not make up his mind. A second spy was despatched, whose report tended to corroborate what the first had said. I was then sent to Lieutenant Start, the engineer, who was nearly recovered from his wounds, for his opinion. He at first expressed himself in favour of an immediate attack ; but, on bearing that some of the enemy were on the watch at the gate, he judged it prudent to defer the assault till an early hour in the morning : this decided the General, though not before several hours had slipped away in fruitless discussion. Orders were at last given for a detachment to be in readiness at four a. m., at the Kohistan gate ; and Captain Bellew, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster- General, volunteered to blow open the gate ; another party of her Majesty's Forty-fourth were at the same time to issue by a cut in the south face of the rampart, and march simultaneously towards the Commissariat fort, to reinforce the garrison. Morning had, however, well dawned ere the men could be got under arms; and they were on the point of marching off, when it was reported that Ensign Warren had just arrived in cantonments with his garrison, having evacuated the fort. It seems that the enemy had actually set fire to the gate ; and Ensign Warren, seeing no prospect of a reinforcement, and expecting the enemy every moment to rush in, led out his men by a hole which he had prepared in the wall. Being called upon in a public letter from the Assistant-Adjutant- General to state his reasons for abandoning his post, be replied, that he was ..c-fitly to do so before a court of inquiry, which he requested might be assembled &Investigate his conduct : it was not, however, deemed expedient to comply with his request.
NEGLECT OP THE BRIDGE.
I have already mentioned the new bridge thrown over the river by Gene- ral Elpbinstone : this the enemy, advancing up the bed of the river under cover of the bank, today began to demolish. I must do Brigadier Shelton the justice to say that he, seeing the vast importance of the bridge in case of a re- treat, (an alternative of which he never lost sight,) had strongly urged the erec- tion of a field-work for its protection: in fact, there was a small unfinished fort near at hand, which one night's work of the sappers would have rendered St for the purpose, and a small detachment thrown into it would have perfectly commanded the bridge. But madness was equally apparent in all that was done or left undone : even this simple precaution was neglected, and the result will be seen in the sequel. • • * December 5th.—This day the enemy completed the destruction of our bridge over the river, which they commenced on the 24th ultimo ; no precaution hav- ing been taken to prevent the evil. Day after day we quietly looked on with- out an effort to save it ; orders being in vain solicited by various officers for pre- ventive measures to be adopted.
DEPRESSION OF THE ARMY.
This sort of despondency proved, unhappily, very infections. It soon spread its baneful influence among the officers, and was by them communicated to the soldiery. The number of croakers in garrison became perfectly frightful, lu- gubrious looks and dismal prophecies being encountered everywhere. The se- vere losses sustained by her Majesty's Forty-fourth, under Captain Swayne, on the 4th instant, had very much discouraged the men of that regiment ; and it is a lamentable fact, that some of those European soldiers, who were na- turally expected to exhibit to their native brethren in arms an example of en- durance and fortitude, were among the first to lose confidence and give vent to feelings of discontent at the duties imposed on them. The evil seed once sprung up, became more and more difficult to eradicate ; showing daily more and-more how completely demoralizing to the British soldier is the very idea of a retreat.
December 6th.—The garrison of Mahomed Shereers fort was relieved at an early hour by one company of her Majesty's Forty-fourth, under Lieutenant Grey, and one company 'Thirty-seventh Native Infantry, under Lieutenant Bawtrey; an amply sufficient force for the defence of the place against any sud- den onset, but, unhappily, the fears of the old garrison were communicated to the new ; and, owing to the representations of Lieutenant Haw trey, the de- fences were minutely examined by Lieutenant Sturt, the garrison engineer, and by him pronounced to be complete. Scarcely, however, had that officer re- turned to cantonments, ere information was conveyed to the General that the detachment, having been seized with a panic, had taken flight over the walls, and abandoned the fort to the enemy. It would appear that a small party of juzailchees, having crept up to the undermined tower under cover of the trees an the Shah Bugb, had fired upon the garrison through the barricaded breach which I have above described, unfortunately wounding Lieutenant Grey; upon whose departure for medical aid, the Europeans, deprived of their officer, lost what little confidence they bad before possessed, and collecting their bed- ding under the walls, betrayed symptoms of an intention to retreat. The enemy, meanwhile, emboldened by the slackened fire of the defenders, approached mo- mentarily nearer to the walls, and making a sudden rush to the barricade, com- pleted the panic of the garrison ; who now made their escape over the walls in the greatest consternation, deaf to the indignant remonstrances of their gallant commander, who in vain entreated them nut to disgrace themselves and him by such cowardly proceedings. Even the Sepoys, who at first remained stanch, contaminated by the bad example set them by their European brethren, re- fused to rally ; and Lieutenant Flawtrey, finding himself deserted by all, was obliged reluctantly to follow, being the last to leave the fort. It is, however, worthy of mention, that two Sepoys of the Thirty-seventh Native Infantry, were left dead in the, fort, and two others were wounded, while not a man of the Forty-fourth was touched, excepting one, whose hand suffered from the ac- cidental explosion of a grenade.
The enemy, though at first few in numbers, were not slow to avail them- selves of the advantage afforded them by this miserable conduct of our troops, and their banner was soon planted in triumph on the walls, amidst the exulting shouts of hundreds. Much recrimination took place between the Europeans and the Sepoys engaged in this affair; each declaring the other had been the first to run ; and a court of inquiry was assembled to investigate the matter, the result of which, though never entirely divulged, was generally supposed to be favourable to the Sepoys; it being a known fact, that the Europeans bad brought off nearly all their bedding safe, whilst the Sepoys had left every thing behind. At all events, a circumstance soon occurred which abundantly testi- fied the impression made on thole in command. At this time the bazaar-vil- lage was garrisoned by a party of her Majesty's Forty-fourth ; who, on observ- ing the flight of the soldiers from Mahomed Shereef's fort, were actually on the point of abandoning their own post, when they were observed and stopped by some officers, of whom one was Lieutenant White, the Adjutant of the regiment ; but so little dependence could now be placed on their stability, that a guard from the Thirty-seventh Native Infantry was stationed at the entrance of the bazaar, with strict orders to prevent the exit of any Europeans on duty in the place.
THE TREATY PROPOSED BY LORD AUCKLAND'S REPRESENTATIVE.
That the British should evacuate Afghanistan, including Candahar, Ghuz- nee, Cabal, Jellalabad, and all the other stations absolutely within the limits of the country so called; that they should be permitted to return not only un- molested to India, but that supplies of every description should be afforded them on their road thither, certain men of consequence accompaning them as hostages ; that the Ameer Dost Mahomed Khan, his family, and every Afghan now in exile for political offences, should be allowed to return to their country ; that Shah Shoojah and his family should be allowed the option of remaining at Cabal or proceeding with the British troops to Loodiana; in either case re- ceiving from the Afghan Government a pension of one lac of rupees per an- num ; that means of transport for the conveyance of our baggage, stores, &c., including that required by the Royal Family in case of their adopting the latter alternative, should be furnished by the existing Afghan Government ; that an amnesty should be granted to all those who had made themselves obnoxious on account of their attachment to Shah Shoojah and his allies the British ; that all prisoners should be released; that no British force should be ever again sent into Afghanistan, unless called for by the Afghan Government ; between whom and the British nation perpetual friendship should be established on the sure foundation of mutual good offices.
In reviewing Mr. ATKINSON'S work on Afghanistan, we com- mented on Sir WILLIAM MACNAGHTEN'S recourse to subornation of forgery to accomplish his public objects. The practice of simi- lar bad acts led to his death. After the above treaty had beet/ agreed to, the Envoy received a private communication from MAHOMED AKBAR, proposing to betray his associates, to murder one of the chief of them, to retain SHAH SHOOJAH as King, MA- HOMED to be his Vizir, and our troops to remain in Cabul till the spring. In despite of his treaty and of the proverbial trickery of Orientals, Sir WILLIAM MACNAGHTEN signed his assent to the terms, (excepting the murder,) and fell into a trap laid by the chiefs to test his sincerity. The subsequent seizure of himself and his attendants took place; and he was slain in resisting or struggling— for it does not appear that his murder was premeditated. Two accounts of these occurrences have been furnished to Lieutenant EYRE, by Captains MACKENZIE and LAURENCE, who were in per- sonal attendance upon the Envoy throughout. The following is by Captain MACKENZIE ; who is the more graphic in his personal details.
THE ARTIFICER PERISHING BY HIS OWN ART.
The two latter [Afghans] remained in a different apartment, while Skinner dined with the Envoy. During dinner, Skinner jestingly remarked, that he felt as if laden with combustibles, being charged with a message from Mahomed Akbar to the Envoy of a most portentous nature.
Even then I remarked that the Envoy's eye glanced eagerly towards Skinner with an expression of hope. In fact, he was like a drowning man catching at straws. Skinner, however, referred him to his Afghan companions ; and after dinner the four retired into a room by themselves. My knowledge of what there took place is gained from poor Skinner's own relation, as given during
my subsequent captivity with him in Akbar's house. • • • So ended this fatal conference ; the nature and result of which, contrary to his usual custom, Sir William communicated to none of those who on all former occasions were folly in his confidence, viz. Trevor, Lawrence, and my- self. It seemed as if he feared that we might insist on the impracticability of the plan, which he must have studiously concealed from himself. All the fol- lowing morning his manner was distracted and hurried in a way that none of us had ever before witnessed. It seems that Mahomed Akbar had demanded a .favourite Arab horse belonging to Captain Grant, Assistant-Adjetant- General of' force. To avoid the necessity of parting with the animal, Captain Grant had fixed his price at the exorbitant sum of 5,000 rupees : unwilling to give so large a price, but determined to gratify the Sirdar, Sir William sent me to Captain Grant, to prevail upon him to take a smaller sum, but with orders that, if he were peremptory, the 5,000 rupees should be given. I obtained the horse for 3,000 rupees; and Sir William appeared much pleased with the pro- spect of gratifying Mahomed Akbar by the present. After breakfast, Trevor, Lawrence, and myself, were summoned to attend the Envoy during his conference with Mahomed Akbar Khan. I found him alone; when, for the first time, he disclosed to me the nature of the transaction he was engaged in. I immediately warned him that it was a plot against him. He replied hastily, " A plot ! let me alone for that ; trust me for that ": and I consequently offered no further remonstance. • • • About twelve o'clock, Sir William, Trevor, Lawrence, and myself, set forth on our ill-omened expedition. As we approached the Seah Sang gate, Sir William observed, with much vexation, that the troops were not in readiness; protesting at the same time, however, that, desperate as the proposed attempt was, it was better that it should be made, and that a thousand deaths were pre- ferable to the life he had lately led.
After the usual salutations, Mahomed Akbar commenced business by asking the Envoy if he was perfectly ready to carry into effect the proposition of the preceding night ? The Envoy replied, " Why not ? " My attention %las then called off by an old Afghan acquaintance of mine, formerly chief of the Cabal Police, by name Gholam Moyun-ood-deen. I rose from my recum- bent posture, and stood apart with him conversing. I afterwards remembered that my friend betrayed much anxiety as to where my pistols were, and why I did not carry them on my person. I answered, that although I wore my sword for form, it was not necessary at a friendly conference to be armed cap-it-pee. His discourse was also full of extravagant compliments ; I suppose for the pur- pose of lulling me to sleep. At length my attention was called off from what he was saying, by observing that a number of men, armed to the teeth, had gradually approached to the scene of conference, and were drawing round in a sort of circle. This Lawrence and myself pointed out to some of the chief men ; who affected at first to drive them off with whips; but Mahomed Akbar observed that it was of no consequence, as they were iu the secret. I again resumed my conversation with Gisehun Moyun-ood-deep ; when sud- denly I heard Mahomed Akbar call out, "Zegeer, begeer," (seize, seize); and turning round, 1 saw him grasp the Envoy's left hand with an expression in his face of the most diabolical ferocity. 1 think it was Sultan Jan who laid hold of the Envoy's right hand. They dragged him in a stooping posture down the hillock; the only words I heatd poor Sir William atter, being, " Az barae Khooda." (FA. God's sake.) I saw his face, however, and it was full of horror and astonishment. I did not see what became of Trevor ; but Lawrence was dragged past me by several Afghans, whom I saw wrest his weapons from him. Tip to this moment I was so engrossed in observing what was taking place, that I actually was not aware that my own right arm was mastered, that my urbane friend held a pistol to my temple, and that 1 was surrounded by a ircle of Ghazeea with drawn swords and cocked juzails.
The disasters of the retreat, so far as we can venture a judg- ment, could not have been prevented after the unwieldy mass was once set in motion. Time, no doubt, was lost by halting to listen to AKBAR'S insidious proposals, instead of unceasingly pressing e,onward to the goal : but if this fault bad been avoided, it is questionable whether any other result would have followed than a difference in the distance of the dead from Cabot. Had XENOPHON himself been raised from the grave to conduct this retreat, his only course, it strikes us, would have been—to select the efficient men, seize upon the scanty provisions, and to press on regard- less of friend or foe, abandoning the wounded, the sick, the feeble, and the helpless to their fate. By this means, it is probable that a remnant might have reached Jellalabad : but it is also possible that it might not ; for the real destroyer was cold and hunger. It is true, the Afghans constantly hung upon the rear, and occu- pied the defensive positions in front ; whilst their marksmen, lining the heights of the narrow defiles, and safely screened, poured in a deadly fire upon the dense masses impeding one another in their struggles to escape, and spreading disorganization to such a de- gree, that at last the rear-guard, " finding delay was only destruc- tion," abandoned their post, and, forcing their passage through the mass, " made the best of their way to the front." Still, the ex- posure to the night-frosts, without covering and without food, killed more, probably, than the enemy : and it must not be forgotten that it was cold and hunger which created this confusion and ren- dered the enemy formidable. Here is a picture of
THE PASSAGE OF A DEFILE.
Once more the living mass of men and animals was in motion. At the en- trance of the Pass an attempt was made to separate the troops from the non- combatants ; which was but partially suceesaful, and created considerable delay. The rapid effects of two nights' exposure to the frost in disorganizing the force can hardly be conceived. It had so nipped the hands and feet of even the strongest men, as to completely prostrate their powers and incapacitate them for service: even the cavalry, who suffered less than the rest, were obliged to be lifted on their horses. In fact, only a few hundred serviceable fighting men remained.
The idea of threading the stupendous Pass before us, in the face of an
armed tribe of bloolthirsty barbarians, with such a dense irregular multitude, was frightful; and the spectacle then presented by that waving sea of animated beings, the majority of whom a few fleeting hours would transform into a line of lifeless carcases to guide the future traveller on his way, can never be for- gotten by those who witnessed it. We bad so often been deceived by Afghan professions, that little or no confidence was placed in the present truce; and we commenced our passage through the dreaded Pan in no very sanguine temper of mind. This truly formidable defile is about five miles from end to end, and is shut in on either hand by a line of lofty hills, between whose precipitous sides the sun at this season could dart but a momentary ray. Down the cen- tre dashed a mountain-torrent, whose impetuous course the frost in vain at- tempted to arrest, though it succeeded in lining the edges with thick layers of ice, over which the snow lay consolidated in slippery masses, affording no very easy footing for our jaded animals. This stream we had to cross and recross about eight-and-twenty times. As we proceeded onwards, the defile gradually narrowed, and the Giljyes were observed hastening to crown the heights in considerable force. A hot fire was opened on the advance, with whom were several ladies ; who, seeing their only chance was to keep themselves in rapid motion, galloped forward at the head of all, running the gauntlet of the enemy's bullets, which whizzed in hundreds about their ears, until they were fairly out of the Pass. Providentially, the whole escaped, with the exception of Lady Sale, who received a slight wound in the arm. It ought, however, to be men- tioned, that several of Mahomed Akbar's chief adherents, who had preceded the advance, exerted themselves strenuously to keep down the fire: but no- thing could restrain the Giljyes, who seemed fully determined that nobody should interfere to disappoint them of their prey. Onward moved the crowd into the thickest of the fire, and fearful was the slaughter that ensued. An universal panic speedily prevailed; and thousands, seeking refuge in flight, hurried forward to the front, abandoning baggage, arms, ammunition, women, and children, regardless for the moment of every thing but their own lives.
CONDITION OF THE LADIES.
Up to this time scarcely one of the ladies bad tasted a meal since leaving Cabal (three days.) Some had infants a few days old at the breast, and were unable to stand without assistance ; others were so far advanced in preg- nancy, that, under ordinary circumstances, a walk across a drawing-room would have been an exertion : yet these helpless women, with their young families, had already been obliged to rough it on the backs of camels, and on the tops of the baggage yahoos ; those who had a horse to ride, or were capa- ble of sitting on one, were considered fortunate indeed. Most had been with- out shelter since quitting the cantonment ; their servants had nearly all de- serted or been killed; and, with the exception of Lady Macnaghten and Mrs. Trevor, they had lost all their baggage, having nothing in the world left but the clothes on their backs; those, in the case of some of the invalids, consisted of night-dresses, in which they had started from Cabal in their litters. Under such circumstances, a few more hours would probably have seen some of them stiffening corses. The offer of Mahomed Akbar was consequently their only chance of preservation. The husbands, better clothed and hardy, would have infinitely preferred taking their chance with the troops; but where is the man who would prefer his oe n safety, when he thought he could by his presence assist and console those near and dear to him ?
Amidst all these accumulated horrors, two slight circumstances are worth noting as traits of Afghan humanity, or perhaps of human nature. Two little children were lost in the course of the confusion, and preserved safe amid the thousand deaths around them. One, a boy, was immediately taken to AKBAR, or to the English officers he bad detained, and was among the first objects which greeted the parents' eyes when they arrived at the chieftain's quarters; the other, a girl, was carried all the way to Cabul, and adopted into a family, but restored to her parents some months afterwards, when AKBAE brought his prisoners close to the capital.
CONDUCT IN MISERY.
About twenty juzailchees, who still held faithfully by Captain Mackenzie, suffered less than the rest, owing to their systematic mode of proceeding. Their first step on reaching the ground was to clear a small space from the snow, where they then laid themselves down in a circle, closely packed toge- ther, with their feet meeting in the centre ; all the warm clothing they could muster among them being spread equally over the whole. By these simple means, sufficient animal warmth was generated to preserve them from being frost- bitten ; and Captain Mackenzie, who himself shared their homely bed, declared that he bad felt scarcely any inconvenience from the cold. It was different with our Sepoys and camp-followers, who, having had no former ex- perience of such hardships, were ignorant bow they might best provide against them; and the proportion of those who escaped, without suffering in some de- gree from frost-bites, was very small. Yet this was but the beginning of sorrows 1
TUE END OF ALL.
The General became impatient to rejoin his force, and repeatedly urged the Sirdar to furnish him with the necessary escort ; informing him at the same time, that it was contrary to British notions of military honour that a general should be separated from his troops in the hour of danger, and that he would infinitely prefer death to such a disgrace. The Sirdar put him off with pro- mises, and at seven p. m., firing being heard in the direction of the Pass, it was ascertained that the troops. impatient of further delay, had actually moved off. * • • The whole sallied forth, determined to pursue the route to Jellalabad at all risks.
The sick and wounded were necessarily abandoned to their fate. Descend- log into the valley of Jugdulluk, they pursued their way along the bed of the stream for about a mile and a half, encountering a desultory fire from the Giljyes encamped in the vicinity ; who were evidently not quite prepared to see them at such an hour, but were soon fully on the alert, some following up the rear, others pressing forward to occupy the Pass. This formidable defile is about two miles long, exceedingly narrow, and closed in by lofty precipitous heights. The road has a considerable slope upwards ; and, on nearing the sum- mit, further progress was found to be obstructed by two strong barriers formed of branches of the prickly. holly-oak, stretching completely across the defile. Immense delay and confusion took place in the general struggle to force a pas- age through these unexpected obstacles; which gave ample time for the Giljyes to collect in force. A terrible fire was now poured in from all quarters, and a massacre even worse than that of Tung t Tareekee commenced ; the Afghans rushing in furi- ously upon the pent-up crowd of troops and followers, and committing whole- sale slaughter. A miserably small remnant managed to clear the barriers. Twelve officers, among whom was Brigadier Anquetil, were killed. Upwards of forty others succeeded in pushing through; about twelve of whom, heir; pretty well mounted, rode on ahead of the rest with the few remaining cavalry, intending to make the best of their way to Jellalabad. Small straggling-par- ties of the Europeans marched on under different officers : the country became more open ; and they suffered little molestation for several miles, most of the Giljyes being too busily engaged in the plundering of the dead to pursue the living. But much delay was occasioned by the anxiety of the men to bring on their wounded comrades; and the rear was much harassed by sudden onsets from parties stationed on the heights, under which the road occasionally wound. On reaching the Sourkab river, they found the enemy in possession of the bridge ; and a hot fire was encountered in crossing the ford below it, by which Lieutenant Cadet, of her Majesty's Fourty-fourth, was killed, together with several privates.
January 13th.—The morning dawned as they approached Gandanink ; revealing to the enemy, who had by this time increased considerably in their front and rear, the insignificance of their numerical strength. To avoid the vigorous assaults that were now made by their confident foe, they were com- pelled to leave the road, and take up a defensive position on a height to the left of it; where they made a resdute stand, determined to sell their lives at the dearest possible price. At this time they could only muster about twenty muskets. • • •
Several Afghans now ascended the height, and assumed a friendly tone to- wards the little party there stationed; but the calm was of short duration, for the soldiers, getting provoked at several attempts being made to snatch away their arms, resumed a hostile attitude, and drove the intruders fiercely down. The die was now cast, and their fate sealed ; for the enemy, taking up their post on an opposite hill, marked off man after man, officer after officer, with unerring aim. Parties of Afghans rushed up at intervals to complete the work of extermination, but were as often driven back by the still dauntless hand- ful of invinciblea. At length, nearly all being wounded more or less, a final onset of the enemy, sword in hand, terminated the unequal struggle, and com- pleted the dismal tragedy. Major Griffiths and Mr. Blewitt had been previ- ously led off to a neighbouring fort, and were thus saved. Of those whom tiey left behind, Captain flouter alone, with three or four privates, was spared, and carried off captive, having received a severe wound in the shoulder: he had tied round his waist before leaving Jugdulluk the colours of his regiment, which were thus miraculously preserved. It only remains to relate the fate of those few officers and men who rode on ahead of the rest after passing the barriers. Six of the twelve officers—Cap- tains Bellew, Collier, Hopkins, Lieutenant Bird, Drs. Harpur and Brydon- reached Fnttehabad in safety ; the other six having dropped gradually off by the way, and been destroyed. D:ceived by the friendly professions of some peasants near the above-named town, who brought them bread to eat, they un- wisely delayed a few moments to satisfy the cravings of hunger ; the inhabit- ants meanwhile armed themselves, and, suddenly sallying forth, cut down Captain Bellew and Lieutenant Bird ; Captains Collier and Hopkins, and Drs. Harpur and Brydon, rode off, and were pursued; the three former were overtaken and slain within four miles of Jellalabad t Dr. Brydon by a miracle escaped, and was the only officer of the whole Cabul force who reached that garrison in safety.
It should be stated, that though this work was designed for pub- lication, it has been published by the relations of the author on their own prompting. The reason assigned for this is, that though bearing heavily on questions now under investigation by the Indian Government, it will not reach India till the inquiry is over. This is sufficient to the parties concerned ; but the British public have something to do with the Cabul tragedy as well as the Government of India. They have borne the risk and the discredit ; they will have to bear the loss ; and they have a right to an inquiry into the whole question—into the origin and the originators of the war—into the conduct of the superior authorities after we had arrived at Cabul- into the alleged penny-wise and pound-foolish economy of Lord AUCKLAND'S Government—into the alleged refusal of MAC.. NAGHTEN'S demands, and the influence or persuasion used with him to withdraw them—into the alleged wish of General ELPHIN• STONE to resign, and its too long-delayed acceptance. If the Indian inquiry go thus far, all well. But if it be confined to the mere conduct of the parties managing the outbreak, it is a bottle of smoke. The two ostensibly responsible persons—the Envoy, MACNAGHTEN, and the Commander, ELPHINSTONE—are dead. Neither the murdered Envoy nor the worn-out General can defend themselves ; and it may suit the purposes of many to blacken their characters in order to screen their own misconduct. This large inquiry is the more needful, because, while the war it- self was grounded on a naked preference of the utile to the honesturn, (common enough, it must be admitted, in governments,) the ma- nagement of it proceeded on the same principles, and indicates a lamentable change in the morale of our Indian rulers. In the Despatches of the Marquis of WstLEst,EY will be found a severely indignant rebuke of a man in Sir WILLIAM MACNAGHTEN'S situa- tion, who did not insist upon a change in the doubtful terms of a treaty with an ally because we might afterwards interpret them ac- cording to our convenience; and the chivalrous character of Lord HASTINGS forbids the supposition that he would countenance subornation of forgery and breach of public faith as a recognized mode of advancing public business. Yet these two crimes by the representative of the British character in Afghanistan seem now to pass without comment, except as what FOUCHE called a " blunder," and would almost indicate that we have an Oriental bureaucracy with all the unscrupulous practices of WARREN HAST- INGS, without his energybis foresight, and:his resources. Another Parliamentary storm is wanted to purify the Indian atmosphere; but we want the magicians to raise it.