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Unnatural Enemies - First Anglo-Afghan War (P. 3)

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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down

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  Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Comment ReplyReply Direct Link To This Comment Article: Unnatural Enemies - First Anglo-Afghan War (P. 3)
    Posted: 24 Nov 2009 at 09:17
Unnatural Enemies  - First Anglo-Afghan War - Part Three


The painfully inadequate Kabul garrison had been wiped out. However they wer not the only troop in Afghanistan. General Nott was still in Kandahar with 3,000 men and Sale was Jalalabad with 2,000.

Hostilities in Kandahar had broken out a week before Kabul and Nott had fought a prolonged struggle around Kandahar. At first quickly recalling all his brigades and outlying garrisons to the city and venturing out to clear the hills of the 18,000 strong enemy. This prompt concentration of troops and decisive action avoided saved the city from being besieged.

After the massacre of the Kabul Garrison Afghan attention fell on Kandahar. Messagers from Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah now a puppet of Akbar Khan with 2 month old orders from Elphinstone telling him to retreat from Kandahar and a letter from the Shah himself saying as monarch he no longer wishes them to stay and offers them safe passage from Kandahar to Quetta. Nott’s response was to march his main force out of the city on 7th March and attack the Afghans. The war was on.

The Afghan leader was the canny Mirza Ahmed as Nott’s forces moved into the hills, the Afghan forces retreated rather hastily and unknown to Nott as he pursued Mirza Ahmed’s forces double backed and attacked the weakened Kandahar, successfully enough to overrun the old part of the city. Messengers were sent out to Nott to tell him of the ploy and quickly return to the city.

In Kandahar itself a desperate struggle was taking place the Afghan had already taken the Heart Gate and were assaulting two other gates. In a desperate struggle that lasted to midnight the garrison fought them off. On the 12th March after a forced March Nott made it back to Kandahar and brutally retook the city.

A few days later Afghan forces began to return to the hills around Kandahar. Nott was more reluctant to march out and face them this time. Instead he dispatched his cavalry. His Hindoostan cavalry proved painfully inferior to the Afghan. On the 26th March Nott marched out from the city again, this time with only a brigade to fight off the enemy main body.


The fortress had been garrisoned by Colonel Palmer and had been besieged on the 20th November. On the 16th December with the city almost dry of water, the inhabitants of the city undermined the walls allowing thousands of the enemy in, the small garrison locking itself in the citadel until they finally made terms with the Afghans on 6th March that they should be escorted safely to Peshawar if they surrendered the citadel. However upon when the doors were opened, three days of terror reigned and half the garrison was slaughtered and the other half taken hostage.

Located halfway between Ghazni and Kandarhar, Capatin Craige still held out at with 250 sepoys and other forces. There was plenty of grain instore and they manufactured makeshift mills and looholed the wall. Meanwhile the Afghan placed parapets around the walls to maintain constant fire upon the garrison. As the few British noted the subzero winter was particularly terrible for the Hindu troops, however they never wavered.

General England was at Dadur with the Sindh Field Force (2,500 strong). He was ordered forward through the Bolan Pass to Quetta, with intention to reinforce Nott.
On the 16th of March England arrived at Quetta and set out for the Kojuck Pass, but was repulsed by the Afghani defenders suffering 500 casualties. England retreated to Quetta where he reported the Kojauck Pass fortification to be unbreachable with aid from Nott and the number of Afghan defenders to be 3000. Both were gross overestimates. Nott complained to England about his failure informing him apart from Quetta being no place to leave a large body of troops, he himself had crossed the Kojuck Pass many times. Nott promised to send support from the north.

A month later England tried to assault the pass again, the Afghani defenders emboldened by their previous victory. England’s assault went well lead by able subordinate who after routing all the Afghans on the south side of the pass saw England inexplicably dismount from his horse sit on a chair and halt the advance. Meanwhile Nott was assaulting the north of the pass. England’s subordinates beseeched him to support Nott’s attacked but instead the General obviously offended by Nott’s criticism of him refused. Fortunately Nott’s assault succeeded and the two forces united in the centre of the pass. With additional troops and even more valuable supplies the united for marched for Kandahar.


Unfortunately the remainder of Unnatural Enemies was lost when the content management system crashed at the end of 2008. If you would like to finish this article it would be much appreciated.
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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down

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  Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Comment ReplyReply Direct Link To This Comment Posted: 24 Nov 2009 at 09:20
Unnatural Enemies - First Anglo-Afghan - Appendix A

Chronology of important events

1800 Mahmud Shah becomes Amir of Afghanistan with help of Fatteh Khan.

1803 Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah deposes his brother, becomes Amir and allies himself with Britain.

1809 Mahmud Shah regains power with help of Fatteh Khan but after has him murdered. He is eventually deposed by another brother. Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah gives the Ko-Hi-Noor to Ranjit Singh in exchange for safe exile, later Ranjit kicks Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah out and Britain gives him exile.

1826 Dost Muhammad Khan brother of Fatteh Khan usurps the throne out of revenge after a long bloody civil war.

1830 Alexander ‘Bokhara’ Burnes begins a series of diplomatic missions to Afghanistan, Punjab and visits Shuja-ul-Mulk. Burnes thinks little of Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah but admires Dost Muhammad Khan. He recommends to the government in Calcutta they ally with him. He also surveys the country and concludes the northern mountains make it impossible for Russia to cross into Afghanistan from Turkestan, so would more likely invade via Kashmir.

1833 Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah attempts to regain the throne with the aid of Ranjit Singh, in exchange for his help he gives Ranjit Peshawar. Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah’s attempt narrowly fails but the Sikhs successfully invade and capture Peshawar, the richest province in Afghanistan.

Akbar Khan defeats Sikh invasion west of Peshawar, Dost Muhammad Khan ask Governor General Auckland to preside over peace talks.

1836-1838 Russian ‘puppet’ Persia invades Afghanistan, with Russian officers helping the army. Britain aids Afghanistan in the war.

1838 Britain offers Dost Muhammad Khan protection against the Russians and Persians if he renounces any intention of trying to regain Peshawar from the Sikhs who Britain will also guarantee attack no more. Also he would also not try and take Kandahar then under his brother’s control.

The Russians however send an envoy and outmanoeuvre the British. They promise Dost Muhammad Khan considerable military aid to attack the Sikhs, regain Peshawar and take Kandahar. Dost Muhammad Khan accepts.

Britain, Ranjit Singh and Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah sign the Tripartite Treaty which agrees to install Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah as Amir, take Kandahar and cedes Peshawar to the Sikhs.

In December Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah re-invades Afghanistan leading his own force, supported by The British Army of the Indus and Sikh forces.

1839 The Army of the Indus captures Kabul, Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah is restored as Amir. Dost Muhammad Khan surrenders himself to British forces and accepts exile and a pension. Ranjit Singh dies.

1840 Budget cuts in London halves the occupying force in Afghanistan and the bribe being paid to the Ghilzais tribe controlling the Khyber Pass for Britain. The tribe deserts to the Afghan side.

1841 Kabul garrison is besieged by a quickly unifying Afghan nation under Akbar Khan (Dost’s son) in hatred of Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah’s corrupt rule. Meanwhile the Army of the Indus captures Jallalabad but ignores a call to return to Kabul. The Kabul garrison terribly mismanaged is forced to try and march to join The Army of the Indus at Jallalabad to save itself but is wiped out on route. Over 15,000 set out from Kabul, 12,000 Indian and Afghan civilians, 3,800 Sepoy troops, 700 British regulars. All are massacre except nearly 100 British civilians taken prisoner and Dr Brydon, only European survivor reaches Jallalabad.

1842 Shuja-ul-Mulk Shah is murdered in Kabul. The British Army of Retribution crosses from India into Afghanistan. The army unleashes a wave of terror, burning and destruction. Upon reaching Kabul it destroys the entire city and massacres many of the inhabitants before retreating back to India.

1843 Dost Muhammad Khan, returns to Afghanistan as Amir. Britain invades Sind which had supported Britain in the war but was now wavering towards the Afghans.

1845 Since death of Ranjit Singh in 1839 the Punjab had been in disarray. During his reign the state had been in permanent deficit from the enormous cost of funding his army, the Khalsa,. Ranjit had continually expanded his empire and annexed new land to fund it. Now frustrated by the weakness of his successors and fearing a downsizing, the Khalsa, now began murderously intervening in state affairs.

Britain now becoming very worried the pro-British ruler had lost control to the hostile Khalsa begins a policy of belligerence, building up forces on the previously demilitarised Sikh border.

Seeing this the Maharani Jindan, almost in desperation not to be the latest murder victim of her army launches the Khalsa in an all out invasion of India, hoping the British rid herself of them.

1846 Dost Muhammad Khan sends an Afghan army in support of the Sikhs. However the Sikhs are defeated by an inferior British army, the Kashmir is ceded to Britain and the Sikh government turned into a puppet regime.

1848-49 The Sikhs rebel against British rule, Dost Muhammad Khan supports the Sikhs. The Sikhs lose and the Punjab is annexed.

1855 Britain and Dost Muhammad Khan sign the treaty of Peshawar. Afghanistan allies itself with Britain against Russian aggression.

1856 Persia invades Afghanistan and Britain declares war on Persia.

1858 Persia sues for peace and recognises existing Afghan borders. Britain and Afghanistan become close friends.
Appendix B - The Army of the Indus

Army of the Indus

(Indian, British and East India Company)

3rd Sappers and Miners

4th Hussars
16th Lancers
2nd Bengal Light Cavalry
3rd Bengal Light Cavalry
3rd Skinner’s Horse
31st Lancers
34th Poona Horse
Bengal Horse Artillery

2nd Queen’s Foot
13th Foot
17th Foot
1st Bengal Fusiliers
2nd Bengal Native Infantry
16th Bengal Native Infantry
27th Bengal Native Infantry
31st Bengal Native Infantry
42nd Bengal Native Infantry
43rd Bengal Native Infantry
48th Bengal Native Infantry
3rd Bengal Native Infantry
5th Bengal Native Infantry
6th Bengal Native Infantry
35th Bengal Native Infantry
37th Bengal Native Infantry
38th Bengal Native Infantry

19th Bombay Infantry
22nd Bombay Native Infantry
23rd Bombay Native Infantry
26th Bombay Native Infantry

Sale’s column

British Regiments:
13th Foot.
35th Bengal Native Infantry.
1 Squadron of Skinner’s Horse.
Shah Shujah’s Sappers.

Edited by Omar al Hashim - 24 Nov 2009 at 09:21
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