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A Narrative Of The March And Operations Of The Army Of The Indus, In The Expedition To Affghanistan In The Years 1838-1839: Comprising Also The History Of The Dooranee Empire From Its Foundation To The Present Time
W.H. Allen, 1841
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Some Exerts from this Book
The Bombay army was this day at Gundava, five from Dadur, and 11 marches from this place. Water was found at Dusht-i-Bedowlut, a collection of rain-water, after a fall of rain, two days before; otherwise, we must have made a march of 28? miles. Thermometer here at 5 P.M. 60?; at day-break it was as low as 26?.
8. March to Sir-i-Ab,26 (23rd March, 1839.)–Thermometer 38? at 4 A.M. Marched at 5 A.M.27 The road, consisting of numerous foot-paths of sand and pebbles, lay, N. W. over the Dusht-i-Bedowlut, on which nothing but wild thyme was seen. The valley is extensive to the right and left, after leaving Dusht-i-Bedowlut. To the N. and S. were hills covered with snow; bleak mountains, crags, and steeps, bounded the plain on every side. The traveller may picture to his mind, the horrors of a winter in such a place. At 1? miles from last camp, crossed two ghauts over dry ravines. Within two miles of the new ground near the road, and by the sides of the hills we found some wheat-fields. At Sir-i-Ab, there were no human habitations to be seen. On the mountains were a few black sheep-skin tents, and a flock of sheep and goats. The plain is a wilderness covered with southern-wood (or old man). The crocus and tulip, bloomed in the waste.
There was a slight descent in the country at about 12 miles from the last ground.
Here for the first time, we saw a long line of Karezees28 running across the valley from N. to S.
To the left of Sir-i-Ab and S. from our camp is a valley which leads to the road to Khelat about 112 miles distant.29
The troops did not reach this ground till 11 A.M., and the whole of the baggage not till 2. P.M. About a mile before we arrived at Sir-i-Ab, (or near the Karezees) there was a dry nullah, over which the Pioneers had to make a road.30 Comg. officers of corps and Heads of Depts. reminded of the order against the destruction of growing crops of wheat, &c.
Distance marched to-day was 15 miles, 5 furlongs. The thermometer at 3 P.M. 75?.
To-night, unexpectedly, H. M.’s 16th Lancers marched into camp from Sir-i-Bolan, 28? miles.
March, 1839, Sir J. Keane marched from Gundava, 12 marches behind, to join us. This morning the 16th N. I., the 3rd Cavy. and camel battery, marched into camp.
At the request of Major Leech (P. A. at Hd. Qrs.) attention of officers Comg. Brigades, Corps, and at the head of Depts. called, requiring the troops and followers to be “careful not to interfere with, or Insult the prejudices of the people of the country, through which the army is about to advance.”
“The mosques not to be entered by any one, not of the faith of those by whom they have been erected.”
“The poles and flags, by the way-sides, are considered sacred by the people, being emblematical of the grave of a pilgrim; these are, on no account to be removed.”
“The surwans and others, are to be directed to abstain from cutting fruit trees for forage, for their cattle, or for ether purposes; and signal example will be made, on the. spot, of any one who may be detected, in the act of committing this offence.”
“Caution to European and Native soldiers from interfering, when in the bazars, or villages, with the women of the country; quarrels, and loss of life will attend a disregard of this warning.”
“The substance of the above order to be particularly explained to the troops; and proclaimed by Tom-tom throughout the different bazars, and lines of the camp.”
24th March.–The 4th Brigade marched into camp. Few of the corps have their baggage up, and in several the men have lost their quilts.
The wind rushing down the crannies in the mountains, sweeps clouds of dust into camp, and nearly blows down our tents. Hence, no doubt, the natives live in the caves in the side of the mountains, or in small, low tents. The 37th N. I. still at the head of the Pass.
To-day the Cavalry horses were put on half rations. Officers allowed none. Brigadiers to-day, directed to protect their own camps.
Order for March.–The whole of the troops (except the 4th Brigade, under Major-Genl. Nott.) will move
to-morrow morning towards Quetta, in the following order; right in front.
1. The Cavy. Brigade.
2. Troop of H. A.
3. 2 Regts. of Infy. 4. No. 6 Lt. Field battery.
5. A Regt. of Infy.
The March countermanded; the Engineer Dept. and a Compy. of N. Infy. alone to march to Quetta, to-morrow.
10. March-order repeated, (25th March.)–Thermometer at 5 A.M. 44?. The order of yesterday repeated, except that no baggage animals to precede the column, or proceed over night; the baggage to follow the troops. The crops on the line of march to be preserved, and parties posted to prevent animals going over the corn-fields. On the arrival at Quetta, guards to be posted at each of the gates of the town, and orders given to prevent any soldiers, or followers, except the buneeahs of the different bazars, entering it.32
The Post, or D?k, having been cut off for 10 days, 4 mails came in at once. One of the runners had been shot dead, and the blood-stained packet left on the road, and picked up by the next. Attah at 1? seers per Rs. Oram, none.33 Thermometer at 3 P.M. 66?.
This afternoon Sir A. Burnes, accompanied by Lieut. Pattison, (16th Lancers and A. D. C. to late Brigr. Arnold) Lt. Simpson, S. A. G. G., and Moonshee Mohunlal, started for Khelat, the object being to induce Mehrab Khan to come to tender his submission to H. M. Shah Shoojah-ool-Moolk;
and to obtain a supply of grain. Sir A. B. intended to reach his destination, a distance of 112 miles, in 3 days: an escort of 1 Duffadar and 15 troopers, 1st Local Horse, went with him.
March to Quetta, (26th March, 1839.) Thermometer at 4 A.M. 34?. Marched at day-break; the road was by an old foot-path, or bullock track; it wound up the valley, which, after a march of 3 or 4 miles, exhibited signs of cultivation. The mountain peaks, on our right and left, were covered with snow. These mountains divide the valley of Pesheen from Candahar. The route, had a straight line been drawn, would have been N. N. W. to N. W. by N. After a short but cold march, we reached Quetta–a most miserable mud town, with a small castle on a mound, on which there was a small gun, on a ricketty carriage. The peach and almond trees were in blossom. There is a garden, enclosed by a mud-wall, surrounded by poplars; numerous streamlets watered the valley, only a few inches broad, and as many deep; except a broad one near camp, which was deep. Camp N. E. of Quetta. Thermometer at 3 P.M. 60?.34
The elevation of this place above the sea is 5,637 feet, or 156 feet lower than Dusht-i-Bedowlut.
Sir J. Keane, to-day, met Shah Shoojah at Noushera, one march from Dadur, near the entrance to the Bolan Pass. Halt until further orders.
Brigr. Arnold (Comg. Cavy.) and Brigr. Sale (Comg. Infy.) were directed to protect their Camps, while at Quetta
QUETTA, AND MARCH FROM IT TO CANDAHAR.
1. Quetta, (27th March, 1839.)–To-day H. M. Shah Shoojah-ool-Moolk, the Envoy and Minister, and Sir J. Keane, arrived at Dadur, 8 marches in our rear. H. M.’s force had been attacked by the Belochees, between Shikarpoor and Dadur, and at one place lost 250 camels. They likewise suffered much from want of water and forage.
28th March.–The want of grain now began to be severely felt. After our arrival, we found the shops which contained grain, shut. Recourse was had to a strict search in the town, and at last, Major Leech, the Pol. Asst., ordered the grain-shops to be forced open; but the Commissariat only obtained a supply of about 3 or 400 maunds of flour, not equal to a day’s supply for the troops. Some condemned this measure as likely to prevent people coming to the camp; but we were in want of grain.1 The following order was, therefore, to-day published: “In consequence of the limited quantity of supplies at present in camp, and the country so destitute as to afford nothing to replenish the Commissariat stores, Sir W. Cotton is sorry to be under the necessity of placing the European and Native troops and followers on the following rations, until supplies come in: European soldiers, ? seer (1 lb.) of Attah (flour) in place of bread; except to men in hospital. Native soldiers and followers half of their present ration.”2
“The Native troops and followers will receive compensation in money, in lieu of their half-ration of Attah, at the Nerikh (price) of the day. Major Genls. Thackwell and Nott will cause it to be explained by Brigadiers, and by Officers Comg. Regts, to the Native Commissioned and European and Native N. C. O., rank and file, the urgency of the case; he fully relies on the military spirit which has always animated the Bengal soldier, and that they will meet him, willingly, in overcoming this difficulty; which he trusts will be of short duration.”3 This gave the soldier a pound of flour and 2 ounces of Dhall,4 and the servants half a pound of flour, and half an ounce of Dhall.
29th March.–Grain selling at 3 seers, and flour 2? seers per Rs.; a small bundle of Lucerne for 5 Rs.; a maund of Bhoosa, 4 Rs.; a grass sheep, 3 Rs.
30th March.–(Genl. orders) “The store of grain for H. A. and Cavy. horses being consumed, and the Commissariat Dept. being unable to collect a sufficient quantity of Bhoosa,5 or other forage for a general issue of rations to troop horses; to preserve their condition, till a further supply of grain reaches the army, Officers Comg. Corps to make arrangements, under instructions from Maj. Genl. Thackwell, for the purchase of such forage as may be procurable, to serve out to the horses, at a rate not exceeding the Govt. ration.” Statements certifying the quantity of forage, and rate of purchase, countersigned by Comg. Officers, to be sent to D. C. G., who will cause a refund to be made.”
“To be clearly explained that no interference with the inhabitants of the country is to take place; armed-men not to enter their villages under any pretext. If conciliatory means be used, the Major Genl. is confident they will readily bring supplies to camp. Major Genl. T. to hold Comg. officers responsible.”
“The Arty. Park, on reaching Sir-i-Ab to remain halted there till further orders; the 37th N. I. with it, to rejoin its brigade.”
“Comisst. Dept. to entertain an establishment of 10 Domes,7 to remove and bury all dead animals found near camp.”
A d?k runner murdered in the Pass, but the mail found.
2. Camels driven off, &c. (31st March, 1839.)–About mid-day the enemy came down from the hills and drove off 200 camels. The history of the case is this: the Cazy or Governor of Quetta,8 in the valley of Shawl, had, for a certain consideration received from Major Leech, agreed to protect the gorge of a pass to the N. E. of our camp, distance five or six miles; he did post his people, and while there we had no attacks from that quarter; but they deserted last night, and the Governor also disappeared!9 Parties went out from camp in pursuit,10 but the camels were carried off, and the troops returned to camp in the evening. This was by the facetious called the battle of Cockatoo, the valley being near a hill called Tukatoo.
1st April.–The Major Genl., though he complimented the zeal of officers, directed that, “when a party is detached, or ordered out, no officer, except those belonging to it, to proceed with it, as he may be wanted with his own corps.”
A picquet was sent early this morning, consisting of two Cos. of Infy., (one of H. M’s 13th Lt. Infy.) and a troop of 3rd Cavy. to the gorge of the Pass, to prevent camels entering the valley beyond it, to graze; or the ingress of the Kakurs.
The people appear alarmed, and are deserting their villages. Many camp-followers killed and wounded in the villages, to which they go to purchase grain,11 and the cultivation near them often destroyed in retaliation.
2nd April.–The picquet at the pass allowed their own camels to go into the proscribed valley, when the Kakurs came down, and drove them off. The Cavy. pursued, and returned in the evening without a camel; but they overtook the fellows, killed three, wounded four, and made one prisoner.