Siege of Ghazni
|Siege of Ghazni|
|Part of 1st Afghan War 1839-42|
|Date:||20 November 1841 - 6 March 1842|
|British & Indians||Various Afghan tribes|
|Colonel Thomas Palmer, 27th BNI||Shumshoodeen Khan|
|600 27th Bengal Native Infantry||20,000|
Colonel Thomas Palmer with the 27th Bengal Native Infantry commanded the garrison of Ghazni in the winter of 1841. At the beginning of November there was a general uprising in Kabul and General Elphinstone ordered General Nott to send reinforcements from Kandahar. Colonel Maclaren who had just set out for to India with three regiments was recalled and despatched north on 8th November with the 16th, 42nd and 43rd Bengal Native Infantry with cavalry and artillery.
Meanwhile on 20 November Ghazni was besieged by an Afghan force under Shams-ud-Din, nephew of Mohammed Akbar Khan. This withdrew when news came of the approach of Maclaren's force. However, when a large number of his supply cattle died of exposure and the adverse weather compelled Maclaren to turn back, the besiegers returned on 7 December. Palmer was reluctant to clear the town of inhabitants as they would have died in the snow. Contrary to his belief however they were not sympathetic to the garrison and, on 16 December, let the besiegers into the town though a tunnel. The garrison were compelled to retreat to the citadel.
More snow fell and the temperature dropped to 14℉ below zero. Cold, wet and with dwindling supplies the garrison held out over the new year. On 15 January a truce was called pending the arrival of Shumshoodeen. Water had been cut off and supplies had run out so Palmer was forced to capitulate on a promise of safe escort to Peshawar. The garrison left the citadel on 6 March and were quartered in the town. Almost immediately they were attacked and fought desperately from house to house. The sepoys determined to escape through the walls, and, with no authority left, the ten remaining officers were persuaded to surrender and seek safety in the citadel on 10 March. The sepoys who escaped were killed or captured and the officers were confined in a small cell. Colonel Palmer was tortured to make him reveal where imagined treasure was concealed.
On 19 August the nine surviving prisoners were taken to Kabul and joined the other hostages on 23 August 1842. Despite having received separate orders from the Political Agent and the Commander-in-Chief at Kabul to evacuate Ghazni, Palmer was court-martialled for surrendering. He was acquitted.
- Col Palmer
- Capt. Burnett (54th)
- Lieut. Crawford
- Lieut John NIcholson
- Dr Thomas Thomson
- Lieut. Davis (died of typhus)
Modern name: Ghazni
1st Afghan War Wikipedia
Historical books online
History of the War in Afghanistan Google Books
Siege of Ghazni Google Books
Col Palmer's Despatch Google Books
Lieut Crawford's account of the captivity Google Books
Verdict at Palmer's Court-Martial Google Books
- This was the charismatic John Nicholson who was killed at the storming of Delhi in 1857