On the 20th of October, the Envoy wrote to Sir Alexander Burnes, in consequence of information he had received from Capt. Trevor, which indicated an unquiet state of feeling among the people of Cabul. But Sir A. Burnes, on whom the intelligence department devolved, assured him that Trevor must be mistaken; as he knew nothing of any meditated rising of the people: and that all was as it ought to be. Notwithstanding this, Trevor assured the Envoy that a number of Ghilzye chiefs had left Cabul for hostile purposes.
On the 1st of November, Sir A. Burnes congratulated Sir William on the prospect of soon leaving Cabul in a perfect state of tranquillity. We might attribute his anxiety to calm the Envoy's mind, by assurances of the peaceful feelings of the people of the country, to anxiety on his part to succeed to the situation to be vacated by Sir William: but it appeared questionable whether he would permanently have done so; as Col. Sutherland had, it was said, been nominated for the appointment.
There can be no doubt, from what we have since heard from the Affghans, that Sir A. Burnes wrote to Sir William Macnaghten for a regiment: and that no aid was given, either to him or Trevor, Anquetil or Mackenzie, is well known. Where the blame rests, it is not for me to determine.
Not only did Taj Mahommed Khan, but also the Naib Shureef, warn Sir Alexander. The latter was very intimate with him; and they were both well known to most of those officers who at all associated with the Affghan gentlemen.
Mention is made of the Naib in one of the Bombay papers; in which he is represented as a very respectable person,--a Naib in Capt. Johnson's office. Khan Shireen Khan is the head of the Kuzzilbashes; and Mahommed Shureef was his Naib, or the governor under him;--a man of large estates; who, from his adherence to our cause, has had to fly his country, with what little he could save; but leaving landed property, worth above two lakhs of rupees, to the mercy of his enemies, the Barukzyes. Naib Shureef paid a large sum for the interment of the bodies of Burnes and his brother. It was asserted that he was deceived, but his intention was equally good. After the return of the British force to Cabul, the bodies were reinterred.
Taj Mahommed Khan and Naib Shureef have both paid every attention in their power to the hostages, left in Cabul: and, as far as regards Mrs. Sturt and myself, they sent us, whenever they could obtain a secret conveyance, various little comforts. Tea, sugar, stockings, gloves, and money we received: and much, which they sent, never reached us.
Taj Mahommed Khan is the son of Gholam Mahommed Khan; who formerly assisted Shah Shoojah in his fruitless attempt to gain the throne. His family were long the hereditary Wuzeers of the country. That family are so influential, that they can hold their ground with all parties. We leave him in the Wuzeerat. Jan Fishan Khan is now, as he says, only the poor Syud Mahommed. Two of his brothers have fallen in battle: one son was burnt alive, when a child: another has had his throat cut; though he begged hard for life, stating that he was a little child, and never could have harmed any one. The wretched father, with the remnant of his family, accompanies us to India. He never was rich. He possessed lands in the Pughman valley; a fertile vale, with magnificent vineyards and orchards. Despoiled of them, he is all but a beggar; but looks for the favourable consideration of the Government of India.
A trifling subscription was raised by Sale and some officers, to enable him to purchase camels, &c., that he and his family might travel with us.
In the absence of actual returns, I believe that the force, which left Cabul, was nearly as follows:--
4 Horse Artillery guns. | 4th Local Horse 70 3 Mountain Train do. | Envoy's Escort 70 Bengal Sappers & Miners 20 | 2nd Shah's Cavalry 500 Shah Shoojah's do. 250 | Half Mountain Train 30 Queen's 44th 600 | 5th N.I. 700 Troop H. A. 80 | 37th Do. 600 5th Cavalry 260 | 54th Do. 650 1st Local Horse 70 | 6th Shah's 600
At the last stand, on the hill at Gundamuk, there remained--
20 Officers. | 4 or 5 Sipahees. 50 men of the 54th. | 300 Camp followers. 6 of the Horse Artillery. |
Amongst them all about twenty muskets.
In reading over these Notes, I believe I have not done justice to Borne of the men who were our fellow-captives. The day after that on which Saleh Mahommed Khan offered them the arms, a few men of the artillery, and perhaps, in all, half a dozen others, asked for and obtained them. Swords were difficult to procure for the officers:
Lieut. Eyre, not being able to get one, took a musket; which was very troublesome and heavy; as, from the wound he received at Cabul, he has lost the use of one hand.
It is now said, that though we all at the time believed Saleh Mahommed's assertion, that Akbar ordered the death of those who could not march, it is probable that this was a fiction. No one actually read the letter, that I can discover: and he probably wished to enhance the value of his releasing us. The order for our being sent to Khoolloom was read by several of the officers.
Here follow copies of a few notes that have been recovered. The first is not dated; but, if I mistake not, I have made allusion to the order for cutting away the weeds that grew on the ramparts; lest they should facilitate the enemy's entrance into the cantonments. The Affghans had first to cross the ditch, twenty feet wide.
TO LIEUT. STURT.
Has the breast-work on the Musjid been improved? This Lieut. Sturt was to have done yesterday. It must be, and as effectually as circumstances will admit, done to-day.
The bridge at the rear gate does not seem to be understood. The planks must be always kept ready to lay down. The breach of the captured fort ought to be strengthened. (The officer must be told, on the appearance of any people near it, to warn them off, and immediately let a party fall in near it); this latter does not apply to Lieut. Sturt.
Can any thing be done to the magazine or other forts during this quiet day?
Weeds on ramparts to be cut.
My dear Sturt,
I send you the above for your attention and consideration, to do what you can.
(Signed) W. K. E.
LIEUT. STURT. Immediate.
My dear Sturt, 3d Dec.
On my return from the Envoy's I heard you had taken out a gun at the Bazar fort. I hope there is no risk, although I feel rather uneasy about its having been done before the work for its protection was completed; but as it has been done, you must look to the work, and carry it on without the least delay. See that this is carried on.
(Signed) W. K. E.
I was not aware you intended to take it out, and I hear the Brigadier was opposed to it. I hope, however, for to-night the gun is safe: to lose it would be disastrous.
My dear Sturt,
It is deemed too bad that we should suffer ourselves to be bullied in the way we have been to-day outside the Siah Sung gate, to say nothing of people being fired at every night coming to us with supplies; therefore it is determined that you throw up some sort of flÍche, or other work, to hold a dozen men or so, which would keep these fellows at a more respectable distance, protect our animals and camp followers, save our bridge, and do away with the necessity of a cavalry piquet. If we have a quiet night, the General wishes you would plan out such a work on paper, and have it marked out on the ground, ready for the 200 Sappers and Miners to commence on the first thing in the morning, and as many other workpeople as can be got. The Brigadier has spoken to you about a trench across the road from our ditch to the Captured fort. [No. 1.] The enemy set us a good example last night. You must have thought it necessary when you went to it and returned this evening.
4th Dec. 8 P.M. WM. THAIN.
Another line for the last-named trench is mentioned, which would be shorter than from our ditch, viz., from a barricadoed door in the old bazar near the S.W. angle.
My dear Sturt,
In rear of the old commissariat godown the rebels have prepared a platform to-day, about twelve
feet by four. Hay says they were looking at them all day from the Bala Hissar; that they began it at about one p. m., and seemed to have finished it before dark, and left it then; and that they seemed to be trying it, by walking on it, before they went away; it seemed to be a contrivance for crossing our ditch. The enemy appeared more numerous to-day than for some days past.
(Signed) WM. THAIN.
10th Dec. 8½ p.m.
My dear Sturt,
Have we the means, by taking the beams of some building, of making a bridge over the canal? and how long would it take?
The guns, I fear, cannot cross otherwise, or the carriages for the bridge over the river.
The scarping the bank of the canal would render it practicable for the cavalry and baggage, and save some time. How long will it take to complete the opening for the egress of the troops? Pray attend to all this. I have told Pottinger to ask for a guard to protect our party; but the bridge might be prepared directly, ready to lay down the morning we go. Send for the Sappers, and see what you can do as to this. How many bullocks will be required to draw the carriages to the river? This we must get assistance to do just before we march.
(Signed) W. K. E.
[No date, but, from the context, a few days previous
to our leaving the cantonments, and Sturt making the bridge of gun-carriages, which was effected the day we started (the 6th of January).]
My dear Sturt,
The General wishes to know what you have done about cutting a passage through the rampart for our exit; if the Sappers are unable to do the job, you might have an European working party, if you will let me know the number you require; and the work should be done to-night, if possible.
(Signed) W. GRANT.
My dear Grant,
A party of forty Europeans with the regular Sappers will do the job in about three hours: all inside is cleared away.
I cannot help giving the warning before doing this to-night. If we do not march to-morrow, we shall want a gun and a very strong guard, to prevent the Ghazeeas entering.
Perhaps the General is not aware that about 500 men were on the point of forcing the gate to-day, and, being prevented, tore up the remaining portion of the canal bridge, which now no longer exists. While giving this warning, I have ordered the work to be begun now; therefore, if it is desired to be
stopped, send to me; if not, send the Europeans. I am not answerable if accident happens, as I now wish you to tell the General that, in my opinion, no other than concealed measures should be used for moving out, until a few hours before that event takes place. If we march to-morrow, it should be done or commenced now; if not, it is my deliberate advice--do not execute it, or you endanger cantonments.
(Signed) J. L. D. STURT.
Thursday, 30th Dec. 1841.
The dhooley bearers just returned are specimens of what can be, is, and will again, be done by these men, if we place even the smallest unguarded confidence in them.
When Istalif was taken, the book of Gen. Elphinstone's Orders was found there.
To show how inaccurately it was kept, I am told, by those who saw it, that the orders of the 11th and 12th were inserted before those of the 10th of December. The book was made over to General Pollock; and does not agree with General Elphinstone's last memoranda regarding Brigadier Shelton; as he is there thanked for the assistance always given by him to General Elphinstone.
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