Captivity of the Hostages

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This was an event during the 1st Afghan War


On 21 December Captains Conolly and Airey were given as hostages for compliance with the treaty agreed with Mohammad Akbar Khan for the withdrawal of British forces from Afghanistan.

On 29 December it was agreed that Captains Drummond, Walsh, Warburton and Webb would be hostages as the Afghan demand for four married hostages and their families was not acceptable to the British.

On 8 January 1842 Mohammed Akbar Khan agreed to protect Elphinstone's army on a promise of 15,000 rupees. He also demanded Major Pottinger, Captain Lawrence and Captain Mackenzie as hostages to guarantee that General Robert Sale would evacuate Jalalabad. This was agreed.

On 9 January 1842 Mohammed Akbar Khan persuaded General Elphinstone to hand over the women, children and wounded officers hostages in return for supplies and a safe escort for his army. Though none of Akbar Khan's promises had been kept previously, it was seen as the only way to protect the women and children from further suffering on the march. Four officers, ten women and twenty-two children were escorted to Khoord-Kabul fort where they joined the three officers taken the day before. See separate article Hostages taken at Khoord-Kabul.

On 10 January Lieut. Melville was severely wounded trying to defend his regimental colours. An Afghan rescued him and he was taken prisoner by Akbar Khan. Mr Magrath, surgeon of the 37th Native Infantry was also wounded and taken prisoner. Six men of 44th Foot were also taken prisoner. Captain Anderson was ordered by the General to join the married men and families.

On 11 January General Elphinstone, Brigadier Shelton and Captain Johnson were called to a conference by Akbar Khan and detained as hostages.

On 12 January after the massacre on the retreat from Jugdulluk Captain Bygrave took to the mountains and was eventually captured. He joined the others at Badiabad on 23 February

On 13 January Major Griffiths and Mr Blewitt were detained when they tried to negotiate a truce. Lieutenant Thomas Souter and several privates were captured after the last stand of the 44th Regiment.

On 14 January Sergeant-Major Lisson, 37th Native Infantry and five other Europeans were captured between Gundamak and Jalalabad. They joined the other hostages at Badiabad Fort on 12 February.

All those made over to Akbar Khan on the march were taken by stages to Badiabad Fort in the Lughman District which they reached on 17 January. They were joined at intervals by others who had been captured. During this time there was correspondence between Lady Sale and her husband who was besieged at Jalalabad.

At the approach of the Army of Retribution through the Khyber Pass the hostages were moved east on 11 April. They reached Tezeen on 19 April where General Elphinstone died four days later. They were then moved to a fort about 12 miles away where they stayed for a month. Moved again on 23 May they passed through the Khoord-Kabul pass and came to the fort of Ali Mohammed Khan at Sewrekkee six miles from Kabul where they remained for two months while various Afghan factions vied for control and there were negotiations with the advancing British. On 23 August the nine hostages from Kabul joined them.

General Pollock started to advance from Jalalabad on 20 August and this caused the hostages (except those too sick to travel) to be moved on 25 August further east to Bamian which was reached on 3 September. They were able to bribe/persuade their captors to assist their escape and on 16 September they made their way west and south to the Kalu Pass where they were met by Sir Richmond Shakespear and 600 cavalry. They were finally safe when Sale's brigade reached Kowt e Ashrow and escorted them to Kabul. They had been hostages nearly nine months.

Dates and Hostages Taken

21 December

  • Captain John Conolly - died of typhus & dysentery 7 August 1842
  • Captain James Airey, 3rd Foot

29 December

  • Captain Drummond
  • Captain Walsh
  • Captain Robert Warburton
  • Captain Webb
  • Lieutenant John Haughton
  • A portion of the sick and wounded

30 December

  • Lieutenant Evans, 44th Foot
  • Dr Campbell, 54th Native Infantry
  • Dr Berwick
  • Remainder of the sick

8 January

  • Major Eldred Pottinger - wounded at Charikar 23 Nov
  • Captain George Lawrence - wounded at Cabul 23 Nov
  • Captain Colin Mackenzie

9 January

  • Capt. Troup, Brigade-Major Shah's Force - wounded at Khoord Cabul Pass 8 Jan
  • Lieut. G. Mein, 13th Light Infantry - wounded at Khoord Cabul Pass
  • Lieut. Waller, Mrs Waller and child
  • Lieut. Vincent Eyre, Mrs Eyre and child
  • Lady Macnaghten
  • Lady Florentia Sale
  • Mrs Sturt (Lady Sale's daughter)
  • Mrs Trevor and seven children
  • Mrs Smith
  • Mrs Burnes
  • Two soldiers' wives
  • Seymour Stoker (rescued from kidnap)
  • 12 other children

10 January

  • Lieut. Melville, 54th Native Infantry
  • Mr Magrath, Surgeon of 37th Native Infantry
  • Six men of 44th Foot
  • Capt. Anderson

11 January

  • General William Elphinstone - died of dysentery at Tezin 23 April 1842
  • Brigadier Robert Shelton
  • Captain Hugh Johnson

12 January

  • Capt. Bygrave escaped the slaughter but was later captured.

13 January

  • Major Griffiths, 44th Foot
  • Mr Blewitt
  • Lieut Thomas Souter, 44th Foot - wounded at Gandamak 13 Jan
  • Sgt. Fair, mess sergeant 44th Foot
  • Seven privates, 44th Foot

14 January

  • Sgt-Maj. Lisson, 37th Native Infantry
  • Five other Europeans

23 August
Prisoners from Ghazni

  • Col Palmer
  • Capt Burnett (54th)
  • Lieut Crawford
  • Lieut John NIcholson
  • Lieut Harris
  • Lieut Poett
  • Capt Alston
  • Ensign Williams
  • Dr Thomas Thomson

23 August
Prisoners from Kabul

  • Lieut Haughton
  • Lieut Evans
  • 40 European soldiers

Died in Captivity

Sick and wounded of 44th Foot left behind in Kabul

  • Orderly Room Clerk George Reynolds
  • Corp Robert Rodgers
  • Corp Henry Smith
  • Drummer John Hamlinton
  • Private Daniel Collins
  • Private William Connors
  • Private Barnard Handley
  • Private Charles Kennedy
  • Private Joseph Lewis
  • Private Dennis Murray
  • Private Michael O'Brien
  • Private Timothy Rock
  • Private Cornelius Tierney
  • Private James Wackerley

Release of Hostages

16 September
Sick left behind at Sewrekkee

  • Mrs Trevor with eight children
  • Capt. & Mrs Anderson and three children
  • Capt. Troup
  • Dr Campbell

21 September

Regiment listed where known

  • Maj-Gen Shelton, HM 44th Regt
  • Lt-Col Palmer, 27th Bengal NI
  • Maj Griffiths, 37th Bengal NI
  • Maj Pottinger, Bombay Artillery
  • Capt Alston, 27th Bengal NI
  • Capt Boyd, Commissariat
  • Capt Burnet, 54th Bengal NI
  • Capt Drummond, 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry
  • Capt Johnson, Commissariat 27th BNI
  • Capt Lawrence, 11th Light Cavalry
  • Capt Mackenzie, 48th Madras NI
  • Capt Poett, 27th Bengal NI
  • Capt Waller, Bengal Horse Artillery
  • Capt Walsh, 52nd Madras NI
  • Lieut Airey, HM 3rd Regt
  • Lieut Crawford, 3rd Bengal NI
  • Lieut Evans, HM 44th Regt
  • Lieut Eyre, Bengal Artillery
  • Lieut Harris, 27th Bengal NI
  • Lieut Mein, HM 13th Light Infantry
  • Lieut Melville, 54th Bengal NI
  • Lieut Nicholson, 27th Bengal NI
  • Lieut Thomas Souter, HM 44th Regt
  • Lieut Warburton, Bengal Artillery
  • Lieut Webb, 38th Bengal NI
  • Ensign Haughton, 31st Bengal NI
  • Ensign Williams, 27th Bengal NI
  • Conductor Ryley, Ordnance Commissariat
  • Surgeon McGrath
  • Asst Surgeon Berwick
  • Asst Surgeon Wade
  • Sgt Cleland, Bengal Horse Artillery
  • Lance-Sgt Alexander Fair, HM 44th Regt
  • Sgt McNee, Bengal Horse Artillery
  • Sgt Wade, Baggage Sgt to Kabul Mission
  • Colour-Sgt James Wedlock, HM 44th Regt
  • Sgt James Weir, HM 44th Regt
  • Corp Thomas Beavan, HM 44th Regt
  • Corp William Sumpter, HM 44th Regt
  • Gunner Dulton, Bengal Horse Artillery
  • Gunner A. Hearne, Bengal Horse Artillery
  • Gunner Keane, Bengal Horse Artillery
  • Drummer Thomas Brannigan, HM 44th Regt
  • Drummer John Higgins, HM 44th Regt
  • Drummer Thomas Lavall, HM 44th Regt
  • Private William Arch, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Binding, HM 13th Light Infantry
  • Private Patrick Brady, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Patrick Burns, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Robert Cox, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Michael Cresham, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Timothy Cronan, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Cuff, HM 13th Light Infantry
  • Private Daniel Driscoll, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Martin Devaney, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Patrick Duffy, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Elisha Durrant, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Maccullar, HM 13th Light Infantry
  • Private Magary, HM 13th Light Infantry
  • Private Patrick Marron, HM 44th Regt
  • Private John Marshall, HM 44th Regt
  • Private James Mathews, HM 44th Regt
  • Private McConnell, HM 13th Light Infantry
  • Private Daniel McCarthy, HM 44th Regt
  • Private James McCabe, HM 44th Regt
  • Private John McDede, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Thomas McGlynn, HM 44th Regt
  • Private James Miller, HM 44th Regt
  • Private William Moore, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Monks, HM 13th Light Infantry
  • Private Patrick Murphy, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Murray, HM 13th Light Infantry
  • Private James Nowlan, HM 44th Regt
  • Private James Robinson, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Errington Robson, HM 44th Regt
  • Private John Stott, HM 44th Regt
  • Private James Seyburne, HM 44th Regt
  • Private Jeremiah Sheehan, HM 44th Regt
  • Private William Tonge, HM 44th Regt
  • Private George Wilson, HM 44th Regt
  • Boy Wiliam Grieas, HM 44th Regt
  • Boy Joseph Millwood, HM 44th Regt
  • Lady Macnaghten
  • Lady Sale
  • Mrs Stuart and child
  • Mrs Mainwaring and child
  • Mrs Boyd and child and 3 children
  • Mrs Eyre and child
  • Mrs Waller and 2 children
  • Mrs Riley and 3 children
  • Mrs Bourne
  • Mrs Wade
  • Mrs Fallon
  • Mrs Clerk
  • Mrs Blewitt

27 September

  • Capt Bygrave


Entries in the Dictionary of Indian Biography 1906:
James Airey (1812-1898)
Mahommed Akbar Khan (1813?-1849)
William Brydon (1811-1873)
William Elphinstone (1782-1842)
Vincent Eyre (1811-1881)
John Haughton (1817-1887)
George Lawrence (1804-1884)
Colin Mackenzie (1806-1881)
William Macnaghten (1793-1841)
Eldred Pottinger (1811-1843)
Robert Sale (1782-1845)
Richmond Shakespear (18122-1861)

External Links

Historical Books on-line