1st Afghan War

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1st Afghan War
1839-42
Chronological list of Wars and Campaigns
150px-Shah Shujah of Afghanistan.jpg
Location: Afghanistan
Combatants:
East India Company Afghan tribes
Result:
Disastrous defeat of first invasion
Qualified success of second invasion
Medals:
Ghuznee 1839
Jellalabad 1841-42
Defence of Kelat-I-Ghilzie 1842
Candahar
Cabul and Ghuznee 1842-43
Links:
Category: 1st Afghan War
Invasion of the HEIC Army
General Sale's March from Kabul to Jalalabad
Kabul Uprising
Retreat from Kabul to Gandamak
The Army of Retribution March to Kabul
The Withdrawal from Afghanistan


Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
Invasion of the HEIC Army
locations and routes on Google Maps
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
The March from Kabul to Jalalabad
locations and routes on Google Maps
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
Kabul Uprising and
The Retreat from Kabul to Gandamak
locations and routes on Google Maps
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
The Captivity of the Hostages
locations and routes on Google Maps
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
General Nott at Kandahar
locations and routes on Google Maps
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
The Army of Retribution March to Kabul
locations and routes on Google Maps
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
The Evacuation of Kandahar
locations and routes on Google Maps
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
Withdrawal from Afghanistan
locations and routes on Google Maps

THE 1ST ANGLO-AFGHAN WAR 1839-42

Synopsis

In the face of a perceived threat of expansion of the Russian Empire, Britain sought to secure the northwestern borders of British India by establishing Afghanistan as an ally and buffer. The Governor-General of India, Lord Auckland, knew little of the politics of India or Afghanistan. Despite advice from Alexander Burnes in Kabul to support Amir Dost Mohammed, he was persuaded by William Macnaghten and Claude Wade that regime change was necessary. Under the pretext of restoring the former ruler Shah Shuja to the throne the British assembled an invading army. 21,000 troops under Sir John Keane entered Afghanistan via Quetta occupying Kandahar and Kabul. The ruling Amir Dost Mohammad Khan was defeated and exiled to India. Shah Shujah was installed but it became clear that he did not have popular support and he was subsequently murdered.

In January 1842 there was a general uprising in Kabul and the invaders were besieged in the military cantonment. With only a few days supplies left, the Britsh were forced to agree terms dictated by Mohammad Akbar Khan the son of Dost Mohammad.This led to the disastrous retreat to Gundamak and the Siege of Jalalabad. A second invasion by the Army of Retribution was launched under Maj-Gen George Pollock. General William Nott advanced from Kandahar meeting Pollock and recapturing Kabul. After releasing British prisoners and destroying Kabul bazaar the British returned to India.

Related articles

For the sequence of events see 1st Afghan War Timeline
For further details see the following main articles:

Troop Strength

1st Army of the Indus (Bengal) under Maj-Gen Sir Willoughby Cotton 9,500
2nd Reserve Division at Ferozepore under Maj-Gen Duncan 4,250
3rd Shah Shooja ul Mulk’s Contingent 6,000
4th Bombay Force under HE Lt-Gen Sir John Keane 5,600
5th Bombay Reserve (Sind Force) 3,000
_______
To act in Sind & Afghanistan 28,350
6th The Shahzada’s Force 4,800
7th Sikh Contingent 6,000
To move from Peshawar to Kabul 10,800
_______
Total 39,150
8th Sikh Army of Observation at Peshawar 10,800
_______
Grand total 54,150

Casualties

Names of fallen officers from the British Army and native forces can be found on Stephen Lewis' Officers Died site.
(Note: this link refers wrongly to Maj-Gen Sir Howard Elphinstone. It should be Maj-Gen William Elphinstone.)

Biographies

Entries in the Dictionary of Indian Biography 1906:

Augustus Abbott (1804-1867)
James Airey (1812-1898)
Mahommed Akbar Khan (1813?-1849)
Thomas Anquetil (1781-1842)
Lord Auckland (1784-1849)
Paolo Avitabile (1791-1850)
Captain George Broadfoot (1807-1845)
William Brydon (1811-1873)
Alexander Burnes (1805-1841)
Willoughby Cotton (1783-1860)
William Dennie (1785?-1842)
Richard England (1793-1883)
Lord Ellenborough (1790-1871)
William Elphinstone (1782-1842)
Vincent Eyre (1811-1881)
John Haughton (1817-1887)
John Keane (1781-1844)
George Lawrence (1804-1884)
George Macgregor (1810-1883)
Colin Mackenzie (1806-1881)
William Macnaghten (1793-1841)
John McCaskill (?-1845)
Thomas Monteath (Douglas) (1787-1868)
William Nott (1782-1845)
George Pollock (1786-1872)
Eldred Pottinger (1811-1843)
Henry Rawlinson (1810-1895)
Abraham Roberts (1784-1873)
John Shelton (?-1845)
Shah Shuja (1780?-1842)
Robert Sale (1782-1845)
Claude Wade (1794-1861)
Thomas Willshire (1789-1862)
George Wymer (1788-1868)

Recommended Reading

  • "Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan" by William Dalrymple 2013 ISBN 978 1 4088 1830 5
  • "The First Afghan War 1838-1842" by J A Norris 1967 ISBN 0521130964
  • "First Afghan War" by H Durrand 1879 ISBN 818650530X. Also available to read online, refer below

Images

External links

Library.gif The FIBIS Google Books Library
has books tagged:
1st Afghan War Afghanistan

Map

Historical books online

Note: The Sketches were published as a separate book Sketches in Afghaunistan, 1842 consisting of 26 lithographs. NYPL Digital Gallery. The British Library Online Gallery also contains many works including a watercolour of plate 7 "The opening into the narrow Pass above the Siri Bolan" ( Search for other images)
  • The Campaign in Affghanistan, Journal of an Officer of the Army of the Indus by Captain Ogle HM 4th Lt Drags published 1840 and 1841 in the Asiatic Journal (Google Books). The author died of cholera 29 November 1839, towards the end of the campaign.
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7
Personal Narrative of the Campaigns in Affghanistan, Sinde, Beloochistan, etc. Detailed in a series of letters of the late Colonel William H. Dennie, C.B. 1843 Google Books. Includes additions and corrections to the content appearing in the Dublin University Magazine.