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village of Ben-i-shehr, just under the Bala Hissar, would have given us a twelvemonth's provisions if we had only made the demonstration of a night march, to have the appearance of taking them by force. Sallies from thence inight also have been made into the town, where there was always a party, particularly the Kuzzilbashes, who would have covertly assisted us, until our returning fortunes permitted them to do so openly. Independent of --'s determination to return to India, he often refused to give any opinion when asked for it by the General, a cautious measure whereby he probably hoped to escape the obloquy that he expected would attach to the council of war, composed of Gen. Elphinstone, Brig. Shelton, Brig. Anquetil, and Col. Chambers. I might say nominally composed; numerically it was much more extended. Capt. Grant, with cold caution, obstructed every enterprise, and threw all possible difficulties in the way ; Capt. Bellew was full of doubts and suggestions, all tending to hamper and retard operations; and numbers of young men gave much gratuitous advice; in fact, the greater part of the night was spent in confusing the General's ideas, instead of allowing a sick man time by rest to invigorate his powers. Brig. Shelton was in the habit of taking his rezai with him, and lying on the floor during these discussions, when sleep, whether real or feigned, was a resource against replying to disagreeable questions. Major Thain, a sincere friend and good adviser of the General's, withdrew in disgust from the council : and Sturt, who was ever ready to do anything or give his opinion when asked, from the same feeling, no longer proffered it.
The Journal extends over twelve months ; commencing in September, 1811, and closing in the same month of the following year. The pen was taken up at a distinctly marked period; for threatening rumours were beginning to be circulated, and councils were conflicting. Sale's brigade had departed; and everything was in a state of uncertainty and indecision. It was on the 26th of September that the Journalist thus writes :
There being a report that all was peaceably settled at Tézeen, I became very anxious for intelligence. Two letters were brought to me, but alas ! neither of them were to my address, one being from Capt. Havelock to Gen. Elphinstone, the other from Capt. Paton to Major Thain. After giving them a reasonable time to ruminate over their news, I wrote to Major Thain, requesting him to give me any information in his power; and informing him that I had no letter; I got the provoking reply that the Sahib was gone out. Some time afterwards Major Thain called: he owned he was puzzled as to what was going on, but hoped that affairs would remain quiet until we got out of the country. * Capt. Havelock mentions that all is settled and hostages given, but remarks that, since the pacification, the camels have been fired on, as also our outposts, but says, the one may be attributable to the arrival of a chief, wbo was in ignorance of the treaty, and the other, to their people not being well in hand, a pretty sounding phrase ; but are we to understand that our men are so well in hand as not to resent it? Capt. Paton writes mysteriously, that he has much to communicate, “ better spoken than written,'' and says the enemy have consented
regarding the obnoxious chief (some person who they did not wish should participate in the benefits of the treaty). He adds that a force to be of any use in that country, must not be hampered with camels, tents, or baggage, and that the ammunition should be carried only on mules or yaboos. * * Last year, when Sir Willoughby Cotton commanded, and during the disturbances in the Kohistan, every despatch from Sale, who commanded the troops there, was promulgated in orders, and the present system of keeping information close is disgusting ; there can be no secrets regarding what passes in action in the field. The general impression is, that the Envoy is trying to deceive himself into an assurance that the country is in a quiescent state. He has a difficult part to play, without sufficient moral courage to stem the current singly. About two months since Sir William wrote to Lord Auckland, explaining to him the present state of Affghanistan, and requesting that five additional regiments should be sent to this country, two of them to be European. To these statements a written war succeeded between the Envoy and the Supreme Government of Bengal. Letter after letter came calling for retrenchment. Sir William had been appointed from home, Governor of Bombay, and was particularly chosen for the office from his being a moderator and a man unlikely to push any violent measures; he had hoped affairs might take a turn for the better, and was evidently anxious to leave Cabul and assume his new appointment. In an evil hour he acceded to the entreaties of Sir Alexander Burnes (who appears to have been blinded on the subject) and wrote to Lord Auckland to nullify his former request for troops, and to say that part of those now in the country might be withdrawn.
Reports still more alarming, indecision and contradictions still more perplexing, distracted the British. Attacks were made upon them; and Lady Sale's son-in-law, Captain Sturt, was severely wounded. This was on the first day of the open revolt. The record thus runs :
I cannot describe how shocked I felt when I saw poor Sturt; for Lawrence, fearing to alarm us, had said he was only slightly wounded. He had been stabbed deeply in the shoulder and side, and on the face (the latter wound striking on the bone just missed the temple): he was covered with blood issuing from his mouth, and was unable to articulate. From the wounds in the face and shoulder, the nerves were affected; the mouth would not open, the tongue was swollen and paralysed, and he was ghastly and faint from loss of blood. He could not lie down, from the blood choaking him ; and had to sit up in the palkee as best he might, without a pillow to lean against.
Yet within eight days, the entry in the Journal says,
and energy appear little short of miraculous ; he nearly possesses the power of ubiquity. He cannot yet mount his own tall horses, and must astonish my little Cape horse, for he gallops him the whole day from bastion to gate, and gate to bastion, laying guns, and off like a shot ; his aim being to show the enemy that all our batteries and gates had guns in position, which we could fire nearly simultaneously,---for they know how weak we are in artillery officers.
But not to run so fast, and to learn a little more of the progress of the insurrection: the following is after the butchery of Burnes and the perpetration of other outrages :
The state of supineness and fancied security of those in power in cantonments is the result of deference to the opinions of Lord Auckland, whose sovereign will and pleasure it is that tranquillity do reign in Affghanistan; in fact, it is reported at Government House, Calcutta, that the lawless Affghans are as peaceable as London citizens; and this being decided by the powers that be, why should we be on the alert ? Most dutifully do we appear to shut our eyes on our probable fate. The Shah is, however, to be protected, whatever may be the fate of the English in the city; and Brig. Shelton is sent with the Shah's 6th, some of the 44th Queen's, and three horse-artillery guns under Capt. Nicholl, to the Bala Hissar. The King, as he well may be, is in great consternation. At about 9 A.M. Capt. Sturt arrived at Siah Sung from the cantonments, bearing orders from Major-gen. Elphinstone for the 54th N.I., Capt. Nicholl's three horse-artillery guns, and a company of the 44th, accompanied by the Shah's 6th regiment, to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice to the Bala Hissar. As they had all been on the qui vive since daybreak, they were ready in an instant, and eagerly expecting orders to march, when a note came from Capt. Lawrence (the Envoy's military and private secretary) dated Bala Hissar, 10 A.M., telling them, “Stay where you are,—all is quiet; you need not come.” This caused great surprise, as the firing was brisk in the city. After waiting another hour under arms, the Brigadier ordered Sturt to go in and see what was going on : this he gladly did, and, accompanied by eight suwars of the Shah's 2nd cavalry, went to the Bala Hissar. In half an hour a suwar returned, saying he had been badly wounded entering the palace gates, and bearing an order for an immediate advance of the troops. ward,” was the word ; and, anticipating an attack on the city, the troops gladly set out, and arrived unopposed in presence of the King, when, to their sorrow, instead of receiving hookm to enter the city, Shah almost rudely inquired why they had come !
Lady Sale declares that no military steps were taken to suppress the insurrection, "not even to protect our only means of subsistence (the store-houses,) in the event of a siege." ir That the insurrection could have been easily crushed at its commencement is evident from the circumstance that on the 2nd of November a considerable number of chiefs went to Captain Trevor's house, to lend him assistance.” “It is further worthy of remark, that Taj Mahommed Khan went to Sir A. Burnes the very day before the insurrection broke out, and told him what was going on. Burnes, incredulous, heaped abuse on this gentleman's head.” It was at this juncture that the fate of the expedition appears to have been sealed. And yet, it is thought, that even at a somewhat later period, had energy been exhibited, and those steps taken which the exigencies of the army naturally suggested, viz., to retire into the Bala Hissar, the greatest of the disasters might have been averted: and that instead of utter defeat and
extermination, a period or retaliation would soon have arrived, and when our troops might have covered themselves with glory. But we again quote, and from the entry on the 8th of November:-
At daybreak, finding Sturt's servant still in the verandah, and knowing that his master was to have been up at half-past four, I went to the door to inquire, and found that the General, or rather his advisers, had decided that nothing was to be done. The enemy are using our guns against us, throwing shot into cantonments from Mahmood Khan's fort. Our men are so overworked that it is intended to give them rest to-day. Sturt went out early this morning, and found the garden next the Commissariat fort unoccupied ; he immediately took the sappers under Lieut. Laing, with fifty of the Juzailchees under Mackenzie to cover them, and sent for two companies of Sipahees as a covering party whilst they pulled down the wall, which was quickly accomplished. There is a report that we are to be attacked in cantonments to-night. Sturt went to Gen. Elphinstone and Brig. Anquetil, who both gave him carte blanche, and desired that all his instructions should be obeyed. He has accordingly placed 15 guns in position.
It is added,—“Sturt is gone to lie down to recruit his strength, knowing that I never dose now till daylight, but sit up to watch passing events, and give the alarm if need be ; I have kept my nightly watch ever since the insurrection commenced.”
Folly goes before disgrace, madness before ruin. The supineness of the British generals grew with the audacity of the enemy, and despair with the nearer approach of danger.
On the 22nd of November we meet with this in the Journal :
Grand dissensions in military councils. High and very plain language has been this day used by Brig. Shelton to Gen. Elphinstone, and people do not hesitate to say that our chief should be set aside—a mode of proceeding recommended a fortnight ago by Mr. Baness, the merchant. The poor General's mind is distracted by the diversity of opinions offered; and the great bodily ailments he sustains are daily enfeebling the powers of his mind. He has lost two of his best advisers in Paton and Thain ; the former confined by his wound, the latter declining to offer advice, from disgust at its being generally overruled by the counsel of the last speaker being acted on. There is much reprehensible croaking going on; talk of retreat, and consequent desertion of our Mussulman troops, and the confusion likely to take place consequent thereon. All this makes a bad impression on the
Our soldiery like to see the officers bear their part in privation ; it makes them more cheerful; but in going the rounds at night officers are seldom found with the men. There are those that always stay at their posts on the ramparts, and the men appreciate them as they deserve. To particularize them would be too openly marking the rest; but their names will
, I trust, be remembered to their honour and advantage hereafter. Amongst these, Capt. Bygrave, the Paymaster-General, was onspicuous ; he never slept away from his post (the battery near his house) for a single night, and took his full share of fatigue, without adverting to his staff
appointment. Col. Oliver is one of the great croakers. On being told by some men of his corps, with great jee, that a certain quantity of grain had been brought in, he replied, “It was needless, for they would never live to eat it." Whatever we think ourselves, it is best to put a good face on the business.
Lady Sale was in the habit of viewing with painful interest from a position on the house-top the skirmishes and battle-scenes that were enacted in the immediate neighbourhood. In that position, “ I had a fine view of the field of action, and whence, by keeping behind the chimneys, I escaped the bullets that continually whizzed past me." How must her heart have sunk, or how must her resolute and courageous nature have been aroused, on witnessing the dastardly rout when the attempt was made on Beymaroo, and when our men ran like sheep before the fanatic Ghazeeas :
When they fairly appeared above-ground, it was very evident that ou men were not inclined to meet them. Every field-glass was now pointed to the bill with intense anxiety by us in cantonments, and we saw the officers urging their men to advance on the enemy. Most conspicuous were Mackintosh, Laing, Troup, Mackenzie, and Layton ; who, to encourage the men, pelted the Ghazeeas with stones as they climbed the hill; and, to do the fanatics justice, they returned the assault with the same weapons. Nothing would do, our men would not advance, though this party did not appear to be 150 in number, At length one of the Ghazeeas rushed forward, waving his sword over his head : a Sipahee of the 37th darted forth and met him with his bayonet; but instead of a straight charge, he gave him a kind of side stroke with it, and they both fell, and both rose again. Both were killed eventually; the Ghazeea was shot by another man. It was very like the scenes depicted in the battles of the crusaders. The enemy rushed on; drove our men before them very like a flock of sheep with a wolf at their heels. They captured our gun. The artillerymen fought like heroes : two were killed at the gun; Sergeant Mulhall received three wounds ; poor Laing was shot whilst waving his sword over the gun and cheering the men. It was an anxious sight and made our hearts beat : it lasted but for a few minutes.
The journalist had but rarely an opportunity to record the occurrence of a beautiful sight; but, to her heroic thinking there was at least one vision of the sort:
Capt. Hay was this day sent with a message of consequence to the king, attended by an escort of fifty horse. He went out of cantonments at a brisk trot and forded the river. The enemy kept an excellent look-out; they were immediately in pursuit, but our party got safe into the Bala Hissar. It was a beautiful sight to see Hay with his cap pulled down on his brows, his teeth set, neither looking right nor left, but leading his men with the air of a man ready and expecting to encounter the worst, and fully determined to do his devoir. We were all very anxious about him, and were delighted to hear that he had got back safe, for they were fired on in returning, and ten horses without riders were the heralds of their return.