1 AUGUST 1840, Page 16


CAPTAIN OUTRAN, of the Bombay army, was "permitted to vo- lunteer for service" with the forces invading Afghanistan and was appointed an extra Aide-de-camp to Sir JOHN KEANE. lie accom- panied the army from its arrival at the Indus, till the capture of Ghizni and the expulsion of Don MAHOMMED from his king- dom, and was also present at the taking of Khelat by a division of the army under General WILLSHIRE. By some means Captain OUTRAN'S various services were passed unnoticed by the Corn- mander-in-Chief; and to remedy this neglect, the gallant officer printed these extracts from his journals, for private circulation in India, from which edition the volume before us is republished. Either the printing had the effect of " shaming the fools," or the author was only unpanegyrized, not overlooked, for he has been promoted to a Majorship, and appointed political agent in Sinde. The form of mere extracts from his diary, which Major OUTRAN doubtless felt it necessary to adopt for his purpose, (since any change would have subjected the narrative to the suspicion of having been enlarged by after-touches,) is not favourable to the attraction of the work for the general reader. Except in occa- sional passages, where the nature of the subjects or the character of the events possesses an intrinsic interest, and compels a full notice from the writer, the journal of Major OuraAst is rather a bald and meagre affair. It appears to have been begun without any. idea of publication, for the purpose of enabling the author at a future period to recal the occurrences of each day. Hence a good deal of it is rather jotting than journalizing; consisting of mere memo- randa or key-words, which no doubt conjure up the whole con- comitants to the writer, but suggest nothing of interest to strangers. To geographers, politicians, or military men, this objection does not so much apply. A person interested in the country or its inhabitants, and who desires to study the position of places, the local character of districts, or the feelings of the people and their petty rulers towards the English power, may glean something to forward his inquiries from nearly every day s entry of Major


The most attractive parts for other readers will be the pas- sage of the Bolan Pass, where a small and resolute division might delay an army till it perished of thirst and finnine ; the cap- ture of Ghizni and Khelat ; and the pursuit of DOST MAHOMM The general impression which the whole book leaves upon the mind is, that the war was an atihir of blind hazard, or a very bold and skilful enterprise. Nearly all the chieftains displayed an aversion, which they did not even attempt to conceal, towards the British; contingents, provisions, and baggage-camels, were in- sufficiently supplied, or not at all; many of the followers of SHAH. SOOJA himself were in communication with POST .MAHOMMED and it was owing to the treachery of the officer commanding the Afghans sent in pursuit of him, that the deposed ruler was enabled to escape. During the advance, the troops were a long time upon half-rations, and the camp-followers reduced to live upon what they could find; marauders constantly hung upon the flanks and rear of the army, or hovered in the front, stealing horses and cutting off stragglers, whilst pursuit was difficult, and time, as in the Russian invasion, too precious to waste upon efforts to punish them. The campaign of Moscow, indeed, constantly rises to the mind. One cannot but feel that a series of delays would most probably have ended in a retreat as disastrous as that of NAPOLEON. Had Ghizni not been carried as it was,. or had DOST MAHOMMED, like Ilynsa, possessed a disciplined force to have kept continually checking the British as they advanced through the long and narrow mountain-passes, " who knows ? "—as the Asiatics say when they intimate a result they will not broadly state.

On the other hand, it is probable that the nature of the country and the absence of an efficient defence were weighed by the skilful and experienced officers who collected the information on

which the campaign was hazarded, and by those who carried its execution through. In this point of view, and patting financial considerations aside, the war was a bold stroke. If we were to go to Afghanistan at all, it was much better to go there before the Russian influence was powerful at the court of Cabul, and its army disciplined by Russian officers. Supposing we can maintain

ourselves, it is probably a better outpost to our empire than the Indus. Should a Russian army reach Afghanistan from Khiva, it could never force its way through the mountain-defiles to- lerably defended, and delay would involve destruction. Look, for instance, at


8th April. Our spies from the Bolan Pass report that the tribes which occupied it, having quarrelled and fought among themselves about the division of booty, no opponents are now to be seen. 9th. Marched with the Artillery Brigade, escorted by her Majesty's Seventeenth Foot, eleven and a half miles into the Pass, along the bud of the Bolan river, the channel of* which is the only road—a stream of clear water, from thirty to forty feet broad and from one to three in depth, crossing the road six times. During the flood, the stream, which is in some places confined between perpendicular precipices within a channel sixty or eighty feet wide, would preclude the possibility or escape to an army caught in the torrent. The mountains on every side are the most abrupt, sterile, and inhospitable I ever beheld ; not a blade of vegetation of any kind being found, save in tie bed of the stream, where there is Bons coarse grass, on which horses and camels pick a scanty subsistence. The mountains are as repulsive in appearance as they arc barren in reality, being everywhere of a dull and uniform brown colour.

The scarcity of forage throughout the Pass, which extends to seven marches, renders it indispensable that we should take with us grain for the cainels, and as much grass or straw as can be carried. All the detachments which have preceded us have suffered lamentably, owing to a neglect of' precaution in this respect ; a fact which is attested by the putrefying carcases of camels which are scattered along the whole route. Deluehe scouts were occasionally seen on the heights flanking our road; but, warned by the disasters of our pre. deeessors, such precautions hall been adopted to guard our baggage, that the banditti tbund no opportunity of pouncing upon it. Distressitig evidence pre. seated itself of thew previ ma handiwork, in the bodies of upwards of thirty Sepoys and followers of the Bengal and Shales columns, which were lying ex- posed on the coin), together with the remains of carts, by burning which others of the slain appeared ti have been consumed. In the evening, inlbrmation was brought that the Beluelles were assembled in our neighbourhood, to the number of about three thousand, and were preparing for an attack, either at night or on the line of march to-morrow morning. Ilad they come, we were well prepared to receive them; but our slumbers were undisturbed, except by a single shot, fired by a sentry, either at a real or supposed enemy lurking In our front.

10th. Marched at daybreak, the first mile through a narrow defile with

precipitous scarps, three or four hundred feet high on either side. * *

This day's march was about thirteen and a half' miles and very similar to that of yesterday ; the road crossing the stream no less tlitin seventeen times, 11th. Left the river, and march,id nine miles through a broad valley covered with loose pebbles and large stones, and evidently overflowed at sonie seasons, although at present there is not a drop of water, except in a shallow stream at our encamping ground. 12th. Advanced ten nines, across a serond valley, of the same description as that crosseti yesterday, affording no water save at the encamping ground. 13th. A. march of eight miles; road much the saute as Waive, covered with Ions,' stones, most trying to cattle and guns. Numbers of our camels have sunk durino.' the last two 'nacelles, owing to the ruggedness of the road and the paucity of food. Passed several bodies of murdered fidlowers of fiwmer detachments lying a little off the road. 14th. Marched at half-past one r.m.,the first six or seven miles through a nar- row defile, seldom more than sixty or seventy yards in width, and commanded by perpendicular scarps on both sides, from one to three hundred feet high; the road, as before, being over loose shingle, which proved most fatiguing both to man and horse. In the next three or four miles the valley widens ini'd the stones cease, while the hills on either side become less precipitous, and now and then a few stunted trees and bushes appearing, form an agreeable relief to the eye, accustomed for so many days past to the most dismal sterilitv. About ten miles from our last ground occurs a steep and heavy ascent or above one hun- dred yards, which was surmounted. by all the guns without accident, although not without considerable labour. At 9 P.M. we bivouacked about live miles beyond the ghaut, from which the descent is gradual to Shawl. The valley, widening as we advanced, presented a surface totally devoid of stones, and covered with southernwood, which the camels devoured greedily.

With the ascent last mentioned terminates the 11:dan Pais, of which we are

now clear. The rise, up to that point, although almost imperceptible, and pro- bably not exceeding one foot in a hundred, would yield a considerable height, the Pass being about seventy-five miles in length.

And occupying we have seen, seven days for an army to pass it when unresistai.

The non-capture of Dosr Motu:am:I) is attributed by Major

OUTRAN entirely to the treachery of the Afghan who commanded the detachment sent in pursuit of' him. That the man was a traitor, there is no doubt ; but that he was not the only one, is equally clear; and it is possible that one of his excuses for not pressing the pursuit was valid—that his troops would not support him, or might probably turn against him.

After the capture of Khelat, active military service having ceased, our author undertook to carry the despatches to Bombay ; and, disguising himself as a Peer, (or devotee,) he chose the route through Belochistan, with the view of ascertaining it' a practicable road existed for troops from Khelat to Sonincance, the seaport of Lus. The journey was successfully accomplished, notwithstand- ing it had to he made through a population excited by the capture of Khelat, and often amid fugitives from the city. It was only by a few hours, however, that the bold adventurer escaped. The ruler of bus had his suspicions awakened, and sent down to stop

Captain OUTRAN at Sonmeanee, where the messengers arrived just after he hail embarked. As regards the main object of his journey, Captain (helium failed : one of the passes was not only impracticable, but it appears doubtful whether it could be made passable by art.

The narrative of this journey is the most interesting section of the book. It has the unity of a single and personal interest, with the risk of detection, and the excitement of a chase. It also fur- nishes several sketches of the country passed through, some curious incidents, and a picture of the feelings of the Belochees after the capture of Khclat. Here is an instance, with the chances and changes of Oriental life-

" During this day's march we passed many groups of fugitive women from Khelat, the men who ought to have protected them having either been slain in the conflict or contrived to outstrip their wives in flight. -One party, however, was better attended than the others, being accompanied by several armed men; but even here, with the exception of one old lady, all the-females were on foot,

By these my friends the Syuds were recognized as old acquaintances, and a long detail was entered into by the ladies of the hardships they had endured. They proved to be the families of Mehrab Khan's brother, and of his principal mi- nister, Mahommed Hoossain Khan, and none of them, poor things, had ever before been beyond the precincts of a harem. It behoved us, while we kept the same road, to remain eith this party a sufficient time to listen to all their griefs; and having been previously introduced by my companions in the character of a Peer, which holy disguise I had afterwards to support during the whole journey,

I was most especially called upon to sympathize in their woes. This I did by assuming an air of deep gravity end attention, although in reality I did not un- derstand a single word that was uttered : and in the meanwhile one of my corn- anions relieved the 'wither for a time of the burden of Mahommed Hoossain Khan's inthut child, w bich he carried before hint on the saddle.

"During the time that we accompanied this party, it may be imagined that my situation was far from being an enviable one. Independently of the fair- ness of my complexion, which, although concealed as much as possible by a large turban bound over the chin, was eminently. calculated to excite suspicion, it so happened that I had equipped both myself end my servant with raiment taken from Mahommed Hoossuin Khan's own wardrobe ; from amongst the contents of which the prize agents had permitted me to select whatever was necessary for my disguise. Most fortunately indeed, I had conceived the humblest garb to be the best suited to the pious character I was to sustain ; and the apparel I had chosen was therefore, in all probability, of too common a description to have passed through the harem, by the fair hands of the in- mates of which the more costly suits are wont to be embroidered. Whether front this circumstance, or because weightier cares diverted their thoughts from such trifles, our garments were not recognized; and we took the very first opportunity of pleading an excuse to leave the poor creatures in the rear. We AMC pestered, nevertheless, throughout the journey, by horsemen galloping up front different directions to inquire the particulars of the Khelat disaster ; but my friends the Syuds always contrived to place themselves in such a posi- tion as to be the first mmemdioned; when they founa so much of interest to communicate to the inquirers, that I mmained altogether unnoticed.

" The sensation created by the news of the overthrow of Khelat, and by the fate of .11ebrab Khan with his chiefs and vassals, was very great ; and so thr as I could comprehend, many were the curses poured out upon the heads of the Feringees, and numerous were the vows of vengeance and retaliation to which the auditors gave utterance ; their tuitional vanity the while indming them to employ every argument by which to excuse the complete defeat of their coun- trymen. The more they interrogated, however, the more were they down- hearted at the undeniable evidence that had been given of Ferinace prowess; and although we were informed that the hhan's brother, (who with hisspiritual adviser yesterday passed us in flight,) had publicly given out that he was pro- ceeding to assemble the tribes, in order to assail our troops during their descent through the passes, I tun strongly inclined to the belief that their ardour to avenge the cause of their Beloche brethren has been Cu considerably cooled by what they have learned, that it will shortly evaporate altogether."