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On the morning of the 12th I was cheered by hearing that the Guides had arrived during the night under the command of Colonel F. Jenkins -a most welcome reinforcement, for I knew how thoroughly to be depended upon was every man in that distinguished corps.

The first thing now to be done was to endeavour to drive the Afghans from the crest of the Takht-i-Shah; and I directed Macpherson, as soon as his men had breakfasted, to attack the position from Deh-iMazang. Just then my mind was considerably relieved by a heliogram from Baker informing me that he was on his way back to Kabul. The message was despatched from near Kila Kazi, within four miles of which place Baker had encamped on the afternoon of the previous day. Macpherson deputed the task of trying to dislodge the enemy to Lieutenant-Colonel Money, of the 3rd Sikhs, with a detachment consisting of 2 Mountain guns and 560 British and Native Infantry.

It was a most formidable position to attack. The slopes leading up to it were covered with huge masses of jagged rock, intersected by perpendicular cliffs, and its natural great strength was increased by breastworks, and stockades thrown up at different points.

After a gallant and persistent attempt had been made, I ordered the assault to be deferred; for I perceived that the enemy were being reinforced from their rear, and to ensure success without great loss, it would be necessary to attack them in rear as well as in the front. The arrival of Baker's brigade made it possible to do this. I therefore ordered Macpherson to hold the ground of which he had gained possession until Baker could co-operate with him next morning from the Beni Hissar side.

During the night Mahomed Jan, who had been joined by several thousands from Logar and Wardak, occupied the villages situated between Beni Hissar and the Bala Hissar and along the sang-inawishta road. Baker, who started at 8 a.m. on the 13th,* had, therefore, in the first place, to gain the high ground above these villages, and, while holding the point over-looking Beni Hissar, to wheel to his right and move towards the Takht-i-Shah.

When he had proceeded some little distance, his advance guard reported that large bodies of the enemy were moving up the slope of the ridge from the villages near Beni Hissar. To check this movement, and prevent the already very difficult Afghan position being still further strengthened, Major White, who was in command of the leading

*His force consisted of 4 guns, Field Artillery; 4 Mountain guns; 1 squadron 9th Lancers; 5th Punjab Cavalry; 6 companies 92nd Highlanders; 7 companies Guides; and 300 3rd Sikhs; and subsequently it was strengthened by 150 of the 5th Punjab Infantry.

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1879]

le for the nearest point

e Highlanders and the the ridge first. The ards, and under cover 3, rushed up the steep and a desperate conflict 'orbes, a lad of great mond fell by his side. ere staggered by the for a moment. Lieu. er them on, and confighlanders threw themn driving them down

e was cut in two, and revented their rallying ides, protected by the ridge, and the Field The Takht-i-Shah. y 11.30 a.m. White's ce which formed the by some of the 72nd

der the command of rway from the upper

- took place, the two nour of reaching the eant Yulet of that The enemy made a severe struggle and

action of witnessing ort-lived, for almost the inhabitants had s being threatened; erging from the city between the Bala

e city, the value of to abandon it and him six companies ar, to which it was onspicuous gallantry following day.

CAPTURE OF SIAH SANG

443 desirable to hold on as long as possible. The remainder of his troops I ordered to be sent to Sherpur. To Baker I signalled to leave a party on the Takht-i-Shah under Lieutenant-Colonel Money, and to move himself towards the cantonment with the rest of his troops, driving the enemy off the Siah Sang on the way.

But from his point of vantage on the heights Baker could see, what I could not, that the Afghans had occupied two strongly fortified villages between Siah Sang and the Bala Hissar, from which it was necessary to dislodge them in the first instance, and for this service he detached the 5th Punjab Infantry and a battery of Artillery. It was carried out in a masterly manner by Major Pratt, who soon gained possession of one village. The other, however, was resolutely held, and the Artillery failing to effect a breach, the gates were set on fire; but even then a satisfactory opening was not made, and the place was eventually captured by means of scaling-ladders hastily made of poles tied together with the Native soldiers' turbans.

Baker was now able to turn his attention to Siah Sang, so I despatched the Cavalry under Massy, to act with him when a signal success was achieved. The enemy fought stubbornly, but were at last driven off. The 5th Punjab Cavalry, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Williams and Major Hammond, greatly distinguished themselves, and a grand charge was made by the Guides and 9th Lancers, in which Captain Butson, of the latter regiment, was killed, also the troop Sergeant-Major and 3 men; and Captain Chisholme,* Lieutenant Trower, and 8 men were wounded.

This ended the operations on the 13th. Our losses during the day were: killed, 2 British officers and 12 men; wounded, 2 British officers and 43 men, British and Native.

I was in great hopes that our successes and the heavy losses the enemy had sustained would result in the breaking up of the combination against us; but in case these hopes should not be realized, I decided to do away with some of the smaller posts on the line of communication, and order up more troops. Accordingly, I telegraphed to General Bright to send on Charles Gough's brigade, and I directed the detachment at Butkhak to return to Kabul, and that at Seh Baba to fall back on Lataband. Having great confidence in its Commander, Colonel Hudson, I determined to hold on to Lataband for a time, though by so doing the numbers I might otherwise have had at Sherpur were considerably diminished. Lataband was the most important link in the chain of communication between Kabul and Jalalabad; it was in direct heliographic connexion with Kabul; it had sufficient ammunition and supplies to last over the date on which Gough should arrive at Sherpur, and its being held would be a check *Notwithstanding that his wound was most severe, Captain Chisholme remained in the saddle, and brought the regiment out of action.

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Baker at once despatched a detachment of the 5th Punjab Infantry, under Captain Hall, to reinforce Clarke, who I could see might soon be hard pressed, and I sent 200 rifles of the 3rd Sikhs (the only troops available at the moment) to his assistance.

I watched what was taking place on the conical hill through my telescope, and was startled to perceive that the enemy were, unnoticed by him, creeping close up to Clarke's position. I could just see a long Afghan knife appear above the ridge, steadily mounting higher and higher, the bearer of which was being concealed by the contour of the hill, and I knew it was only one of the many weapons which were being carried by our enemies to the attack. The reinforcements were still some distance off, and my heart sank within me, for I felt convinced that after our recent victories the Afghans would never venture to cross the open and attack British soldiers unless an overwhelming superiority of numbers made success appear to them a certainty. Next I heard the boom of guns and the rattle of musketry, and a minute or two later (which, in my anxiety, seemed an eternity to me), I only too plainly saw our men retreating down the hill, closely followed by the enemy. The retirement was being conducted steadily and slowly, but from that moment I realized, what is hard for a British soldier, how much harder for a British commander, to realize, that we were over-matched, and that we could not hold our ground.

*

Clarke, as well as every man with him, fought splendidly; the Afghans by force of numbers alone made themselves masters of the position and captured two guns.†

* Clarke never recovered the loss of this post. He and I had been cadets together at Sandhurst, and I often visited him while he was in hospital at Sherpur. He was apparently suffering from no disease, but gradually faded away, and died not long after he reached India.

General Baker, in his despatch, stated that 'No blame for the loss of these guns is in any way to be attached to the officers and men of No. 2 Mountain Battery. Every credit is due to Captain Swinley, the late Lieutenant Montanaro, and Lieutenant Liddell, and the several Native officers, non-commissioned officers and men composing the gun detachments, for the gallant manner in which they stood to their guns to the last, and it was only on the sudden rush of this overwhelming force of the enemy that they had to retire with the loss of two guns.'

Of the men composing the gun detachments, one was killed and six wounded, and Surgeon-Major Joshua Duke was specially mentioned for his attention to the wounded under heavy fire.

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