The Return to Cabul

There is little more to add. It had been part of Elphinstone's shameful bargain with Akbar Khan that Jellalabad and Candahar should be evacuated before the army of Cabul should reach the former place, and orders had been sent to General Sale in Jellalabad and General Nott in Candahar to abandon these towns. Luckily, these officers were of the right British stamp, and they refused to obey. Akbar Khan besieged Sale in Jellalabad ; Sale not only held that place but gave battle to the Afghans outside the fort, routed them, and made ready to co-operate with General Nott at Candahar for a forward movement on Cabul. But the faculties of Lord Auckland, the Governor-General, seemed paralysed. Regardless of British prestige, the very keystone of our rule in India, he ordered the precipitate recall of all the troops in Afghanistan. Luckily, again, his term of office was just drawing to a close, and Lord Ellenborough came out to take the reins of government. At first he issued a proclamation endorsing the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but more spirited counsel prevailed in the end. The re-conquest of Cabul was accomplished by the entry of General Pollock into the capital on September 15, 1842, when it was found that the unfortunate Shah Soojah had paid the penalty of the greatness thrust on him by English diplomacy, and had been assassinated by the people he had been set to rule. Of the English ladies and children who had been taken under the protection of Akbar Khan the story has been written in a once famous book, Lady Sale's Journal. The husband of that lady, General Sir Robert Sale, was sent to recover the captives, who had suffered innumerable hardships.

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General Elphinstone had died—the best thing that could happen for his fame; the rest were found in a hill fort in the Indian Caucasus, in charge of a chief, who, having heard of Akbar Khan's defeat, was easily bribed to surrender his trust. The retreat from Cabul had begun on January 6, but the news did not reach England till March 7.

CABUL IN 1839.
Cabul, the seat of government of the Ameer of Afghanistan, is at the present time (1897) an open town, though it was formerly surrounded by walls of brick and mud. The only building of any importance is the Bala Hissar, or Citadel, containing the apartments of the Ameer. Besides being a place of great strategic importance, Cabul is the centre of the trade of Central Asia.


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