A Journal of the Disasters in Afghanistan,1841-2




THE absence of the Author from England, and the consequent impossibility of consulting her during the progress of this work through the press, may have caused some errors to creep in,--especially in the spelling of the oriental words. The greatest care, however, has been taken to adhere exactly to the original manuscript.

--A 2--

Plan of the Cantonments and the Surrounding Country--Bala Hissar
Plan of the Cantonments and the Surrounding Country


Vocabulary Page ix
Introduction 1
The Zoormut Expedition 6
Revolt of Tézeen and Bhoodkhak 8
Departure of Gen. Sale's Brigade from Cabul 10
Losses at the Khood Cabul pass 11
Terms made with the Chiefs 21
Outbreak in Cabul 31
Captain Johnson's Treasury plundered 35
Supineness of the British Chiefs 38
Capt. Campbell's regiment repulsed 39
State of the cantonments 42
Return of the 37th N. I. 43
Attack on the Commissariat fort 50
Loss of Mackenzie's fort 54
Outbreak in the Kohistan 56
Want of provisions 58
Loss of the Commissariat fort 59
Disastrous attempt to recapture the small fort 62
Shah Zeman declared King 66
Recall of Gen. Sale 69
Position of the cantonments 70
Arrival of Brig. Shelton in cantonments 83
Losses at the Rikabashees' fort 87
Death of Col. Mackrel 89
Losses at Kandahar 95


Action on the Western Heights 97
Affairs in the Kohistan 103
Accounts from Jellalabad 108
Dissensions in the British councils 120
Action on the hills above Behmaru 121
Terms proposed by the enemy 135
Reply of the Envoy 142
Difficulty of obtaining supplies 149
Attack on the captured fort 152
Disgraceful loss of the fort 157
The General urges the necessity of negotiating 168
Terras made with the enemy 173
Hostages demanded by them 176
The forts given up to them 181
The seizure of the Envoy by Mahommed Akbar Khan 194
News received of the Envoy's death 197
Negotiations resumed 201
Preparations for evacuating cantonments 208
Departure postponed 215
Cantonments evacuated 221
Difficulties encountered by the rear guard 227
Loss of the guns and ammunition 231
Terms made with Mahommed Akbar 235
Losses in the Khoord Cabul pass 236
Akbar demands possession of the ladies and children 244
Destruction of the rear column 264
Attempt of the remnant of the army to reach Jugdaluk 259
Gen. Elphinstone and Brig. Shelton go to Mahommed Akbar 264
Deliberations of the Chiefs 267
Attack at Jugdaluk 273
The final struggle at Gundamuk 278


March of the prisoners towards the Lughman valley 279
Accommodation at Buddeabad 284
Accounts from Jellalabad 288
Severe earthquake 297
Adventures of Capt. Bygrave 300
Accounts from the garrison at Ghuznee 305
Ferocity and cruelty of Mahommed Akbar 307
Change of jailors 309
Offers for ransoming the Prisoners 311
Report of the murder of Shah Shoojah 317
March for Tézeen 321
Major Pottinger expostulates with the Sirdar 328
Death of Gen. Elphinstone 332
Insults offered to his corpse on its way to Jellalabad 334
Akbar acknowledges that he slew the Envoy 337
Treachery of Shumshudeen at Ghuznee 340
Visit to the ladies of Mahommed Shah's family 345
Accounts from Jellalabad 351
Proceedings at Cabul 351
March to Khoord Cabul 352
Offers for exchange of Prisoners 357
Reports from Cabul 365
The Bala Hissar is surrendered to Akbar 307
Sufferings of Col. Stoddart and Capt. A. Conolly in Bokhara 376
Friendly conduct of the Nawaub, Zeman Shah Khan 381
Gen. Pollock offers to treat with the Sirdar 384
Gloomy prospects 386
Policy of Mahommed Akbar Khan 386
Death of Capt. John Conolly 392
Accounts of the Kandahar force 397
Newspaper controversy 399
Review of Akbar's conduct 400


His treatment of the Prisoners 403
Futteh Jung challenges Akbar to battle 409
Removal of the Prisoners to the Loghur country 410
Proposed plan for their release 415
March to Bamean 421
Terms made by the Prisoners with their jailor 425
He hoists the flag of defiance on the fort 426
The Prisoners are joined by several native Chiefs 427
They commence their March 430
Arrival of Sir Richmond Shakespear 432
Rescue by Gen. Sale 436
Addenda 439
Appendix 449


Afghan and Other Oriential Words
Employed in this Volume

Akukzye. The name of one of the great Afghan tribes.

Aloo-baloo. The wild sour cherry.

Aman. The cry for mercy--quarter.

Ameer. Commander or chief.

Ana. A small coin; sixteen of which make a rupee. Its value is about three halfpence.

Ashurpee. A mohur--a gold coin. Its value is about thirty shillings English.

Ayah. A female attendant--a nurse.

Bahadur. A bravo--a boaster or braggadocio; also a brave man--a hero.

Bahadur (verb). To boast or brag.

Bala Hissar. Upper citadel--royal palace.

Barats. Legal documents--assignments--promissory notes.

Barukzye. The name of one of the five great Dooranee tribes.

Bash or bosh. Nothing--humbug.

Bashee. A head-man.

Bédanas. A sort of mulberry.

Behmaru. The name of a village near Cabul. The word signifies "the husbandless."

Bhanghys. Baggage.--Boxes. They are boxes hung at each end of a pole and carried on a man's shoulder.

Bheestees. Water-carriers.

Bhoosa or Boussa. Chopped straw--chaff.


Bhoodkhees. Presents.

Bildars. Excavators--sappers.

Bourj or Burj. A fortified hill or tower.

Bukshees. Gifts--presents--douceurs.

Bukhraeed. A Mahommedan feast. The festival of the goat; held to commemorate the history of Abraham and Ishmael (Isaac).

Bunneah. A trader--a corn-merchant or dealer in grain, flour, &c.

Cafila. A caravan--a convoy.

Cass. A kind of furze.

Caupoochees. Porters.

Chaoney. An encampment--cantonments.

Charpoys. A bed on four poles, with ropes crossed over them.

Chattak. A measure for grain, &c. The 16th part of a seer, or about 2 ounces English.

Chebootras. Small thick mats, on which slaves usually sit or squat.

Chillum. The part of the hookah, or pipe, containing the lighted tobacco--hence used for the pipe itself.

Chillumchee A washand-basin.

Chiragh. A lamp.

Chogah. A sort of cloak.

Chokey. A police station.

Chouk. A bazaar--a street. Also the portion of the taxes excused to the native Chiefs for keeping the passes open, and for keeping the tribes in check.

Chowdry. The chief man or head of a bazaar.

Chuddah. A sheet or veil.

Chupao. A night attack--a surprise--a foray.

Chupao (verb). To attack by night--to surprise by stealth.

Chupatties. Unleavened cakes, made of ottah.

Chuprassy. A messenger--a servant bearing a badge or brass plate.

Chuttah or chatta. An umbrella or parasol.


Compound. An enclosed space--the ground round a house.

Cossid. A courier--an express--a foot messenger.

Crore. Ten lakhs of rupees, or one million pounds sterling.

Duk. Letter post.

Dallies. Baskets for fruits, &c.--panniers.

Dewan. A steward.

Dhal. A kind of split pea--pulse.

Dhooley. A palanquin for the sick.

Dhye. Sour curds.

Dooranee. The general name of the five great tribes; the Populzye--Barukzye--Nurzye--Barmizye and Abkhuzye.

Durbar. Levee.

Duffodar. A non-commissioned officer of cavalry.

Elchee. An ambassador--an agent.

Eusofzyes. An Affghan tribe north of Peshawer.

Fakirs. Devotees--mendicants.

Fatcha. The prayer for the reigning monarch--a part of the Mahommedan service; the reading of which is equivalent to doing homage.

Feringhees. Europeans--Franks--foreigners.

Fernez. Sweet curds.

Fouj. An army.

Ghee. Clarified butter.

Ghuzee or Ghazeea. A champion of religion--a fanatic.

Gilzye. The name of a great Affghan tribe.

Gobrowed. Dumbfounded--at a non-plus.

Godowns. Storehouses--granaries.

Golees. Balls--bullets.

Golundaz. Artillerymen--literally, throwers of balls.

Goor. Coarse brown sugar or molasses.

Goorkha. A native of Nepaul.

Gulas. Cherries.

Hamaum. A vapour bath--baths; commonly written Hummums.


Haut. A measure equal to half a yard--a cubit.

Havildar. A serjeant in the native troops.

Hazir-Bashes. The king's body guard. The words imply "Ever ready."

Hookm. An order--permission--the word of command.

Hoosseinee-Angoor. A peculiarly fine sort of grape, of immense size, called "the bull's eye."

Huft Kohtul. The seven passes.

Hurkaru. A messenger.

Janbaz. The Affghan cavalry.

Jee. Life--spirit--"with right goodwill."

Jeerga. An assembly or council--a diet.

Jemadar. A native officer holding the rank of lieutenant.

Jhala. A raft.

Jingals. Wall pieces, carrying a ball of about a quarter of a pound.

Jorabs. Boots.

Jung. The fight or battle.

Juwans. Young men.

Juzail. The long rifle of the Affghans.

Juzailchees. Riflemen.

Kaffirs. Infidels.

Kaloss. Safe--free. Finished.

Kazanchez. A treasurer--a treasury.

Keshmish. Raisins--grapes.

Khan. A nobleman. In Cabul the title is assumed by every one.

Khelluts. Dresses of honour.

Khootba. The prayer for the king.

Kirkee. A wicket or window.

Kos. A measure of distance, equal to about two English miles.

Kote. A fort.

Kotilla Taj-i. The name of a pass--literally, the crown of the mountains.

Kotilla Murdee. The dead men's pass.


Kujavas. Camel-panniers.

Kulassy. A tent pitcher--a baggage servant.

Kulma. The Mahommedan creed.

Kuneh. A private dwelling.

Kurtoot. The name of a village--literally, the donkey's mulberry.

Kurwar or Khurwah. A measure; equal to 700 lbs English.

Kuzzilbashes. Persians; or persons of Persian descent, residing in Cabul.

Kyde. Prison.

Kysee. The white apricot.

Lakh. One hundred thousand.

Lakh of Rupees. Ten thousand pounds sterling.

Larye. A battle--an engagement.

Lascar. An attendant on guns, magazines, &c.

Loonghee. The cloth of a turban.

Loot. Plunder.

Loot (verb). To sack--to plunder.

Mast. Curds.

Maund. A measure of grain; about 80 lbs. English.

Maush. A sort of grain.

Meerza. A secretary--a Mahommedan writer.

Meer Wyse. A teacher--the high priest.

Mehmandar. A cicerone--a man of all work--a factotum.

Mehter. A class of camp-followers--a sweeper.

Mohur. A coin, generally gold; its value is about thirty shillings English.

Moollah. A priest.

Moong. Pulse.

Moonshee. A secretary or interpreter.

Muezzin. The call of the Faithful to prayers.

Mushk. A leathern bag for holding water--a goat's skin.

Musjid. A temple or place of worship.


Nagura. A set of drums which the natives beat to announce the presence of the king or any great chief.

Naib. A deputy or lieutenant.

Naich. A corporal in the native troops.

Nal. A horse-shoe.

Nalbunds. Farriers.

Nalkee. A palanquin.

Nans. Cakes of bread.

Nawaub. A prince.

Nazir. A master of the household.

Neemchees. A kind of spencer made of sheep-skins.

Neencha. A coat.

No-roz. The Vernal Equinox. The Mohammedan New Year's Day.

Nullah. The bed of a river; also used for a river.

Numdas. Coarse felt carpets.

Ooloos. The tribes or clans. To summon the Ooloos, answers to our "calling out the militia."

Oorsees. Open-work lattices.

Ottah or Attah. Ground wheat--flour, or rather what is called pollard.

Palkee. A palanquin.

Pall. A kind of tent.

Pesh Khedmuts. Attendants.

Pillau. A dish of meat and rice.

Posha Khana. An armoury.

Poshteen. A sheep-skin; also a fur-pelisse.

Pushtoo. The language of the natives of Afghanistan.

Pyjania. Loose trowsers.

Raj. A government--a province.

Rajah. A prince.

Ressalah. A troop of horse.

Rezai or Resaiz. A counterpane--a quilt.

Rui-band. A veil.

Rupee. A silver coin; its value is about two shillings English.


Saces. A groom.

Sahib. Sir--master.

Salaam. Salutation. To make salaam--to pay one's respects.

Seer. A measure; about equal to two lbs. English.

Shah Bagh. The king's garden.

Shah Guzees or Shahghasses. The household troops--the " yeomen of the guard." Officers of the court.

Shah-zada. A king's son--a prince.

Shalu. Red cotton cloth from Turkey.

Shikar. Field sports.

Shikargurs. Hunting grounds--preserves.

Shoke. A hobby--a mania.

Shroffs. Native bankers--money changers.

Shubkoon. A surprise at night.

Shytan. The devil.

Siah Sung. The black rock.

Siahs. A large sect of the Mahommedans; opposed to the Soonees.

Sipahees. The native Hindostanee troops. Sepoys.

Sir-i-chusm. The name of a village--the words signify "the head of the spring."

Sirdar. A general. The title assumed by Mahomed Akbar Khan.

Sirdar-i-Sirdan. The chief of the generals. Generalissimo.

Soonees. A large sect of the Mahommedans.

Subadar. A native officer, holding the rank of captain.

Sugs. Dogs. A term of contempt.

Sungah. Breast work. Fortifications.

Surda. A species of melon. The cold melon.

Surwans or Surwons. Camel drivers--grooms.

Setringees. A kind of small carpet.

Suwars. Horsemen--troopers.

Syud. The title of a chief of the Ooloos

Syud. A holy man--a saint.


Syuds. A sect of the Mahommedans; claiming to be the descendants of the prophet; and who therefore wear the green turban.

Tattoes. Ponies.

Topes. Tombs--mounds--barrows. There are several in Afghanistan, built in the time of Alexander.

Topshee Bashee. The commander of the artillery. "The master-general of the ordnance."

Turnasook. The red plum.

Tykhana. A cellar.

Usufzyes. An Affghan tribe north of Peshawer.

Vakeel. A deputy--a commissioner--one who acts or negotiates for another.

Wuzeer. Vizier.

Wuzeerat. The office of vizier.

Xummuls. Coarse blankets.

Yaboos. Affghan ponies.

Yaghi. Rebellions--in a state of rebellion--or of independence.

Zenana. A harem.

Zerdaloos. Apricots.

Zilzilla. An earthquake.

Zubberdust. Overbearing--"with the strong arm."

Zuna. A dwelling.


Map of the route
The route from Cabul


Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Larry Jewell & Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation