* * * * I have not only daily noted down events as they occurred, but often have done so hourly. I have also given the reports of the day, the only information we possessed; also such news as was telegraphed from the Bala Hissar, or sent in by the King or by Capt. Conolly to the Envoy; and many other reports brought by Affghan gentlemen of Capt. Sturt's* acquaintance, and by others of lower degree, who having had dealings with him in the engineer department and public works, and having received kindness from him, gave him such intelligence and warning as was in their power: all of which he communicated [to his superior officers] at different times; but the warnings were not attended to; and as when he gave his advice it was seldom
* Lady Sale's son-in-law.
adhered to, he became disgusted, and contented himself with zealously performing his duties and making himself generally useful, acting the part of an artillery officer as well as that of an engineer. Had poor Sturt's life been spared, it was his intention to have worked up my Rough Notes, and to have added much valuable information: he was too much overworked to afford leisure to give me assistance at the time. His plans, drawings, &c, with his public and private papers, were lost, except a note or two that were, just a few days before we left Cabul, put with my Journal. I believe several people kept an account of these proceedings, but all except myself lost all they had written; and had recourse to memory afterwards. I lost everything except the clothes I wore; and therefore it may appear strange that I should have saved these papers. The mystery is, however, easily solved. After every thing was packed on the night before we left Cabul, I sat up to add a few lines to the events of the day, and the next morning I put them in a small bag and tied them round my waist. I am indebted to Capt. Souter, of H. M. 44th Regiment, for a plan, from recollection, of the cantonment and forts. The inaccuracies, if any, are but trifling; and it is sufficiently clear to indicate the positions of the principal places alluded to.
A much better narrative of past events might have been written, even by myself; but I have preferred keeping my Journal as originally written, when events were fresh, and men's minds were biassed by the reports of the day, and even hour.
It is easy to argue on the wisdom or folly of conduct after the catastrophe has taken place. With regard therefore to our chiefs, I shall only say that the Envoy has deeply paid for his attempt to out diplomatize the Affghans. Gen. Elphinstone, conscious that his powers of mind had become enfeebled with those of his body, finding there was no hope of Gen. Nott's arrival to assume the command, called in another officer to his aid, who had but one object in view (to get back, at all hazards, to Hindostan). He averred that a retreat to the Bala Hissar was impossible, as we should have to fight our way (for one mile and a half)! If we could not accomplish that, how were we to get through a week's march to Jellalabad? Once in the Bala Hissar, which would have been easily defended by one thousand men, we should have had plenty of troops for foraging purposes; and the 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 might 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 any thing or give his opinion when asked, from the same feeling no longer proffered it.
As a proof that Sir William Macnaghten's confidence in Shah Shoojah was latterly much shaken, he wrote to the Governor of India, proposing that, if it really should be proved that His Majesty was acting treacherously against us, the Dost should be restored to his country. But it is very doubtful whether this despatch ever reached the Governor-General.
I shall not refer back to many small insurrections that took place, but only allude to the events that immediately preceded the grand insurrection at Cabul.
I believe I have indifferently written the name of a village as Dehmaru and Behmaru; it is called both, but Behmaru is the correct name, signifying the husbandless: Dehmaru would be the Husband's Village. It takes its name from a romantic legend of a girl of rank betrothed to a chief who was said to have been slain in combat, and she consequently pined away and died also; but the lover recovered from his wounds, and placed a stone, said to be one of those white ones that look like women in Bourkhor, over her grave on the Behmaru hill; and when he died he was buried beside her, with a similar stone to mark the spot.
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