Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/198

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Kabul; his available carriage was insufficient to bring on one day's rations with it; the whole country was in arms; his ammunition was insufficient; with the means at his disposal he could force neither the Jagdalak nor the Khurd Kabul pass, and if the débris of his force should reach Kabul, it would be only to find the Kabul garrison without the means of subsistence. Regard for the honour and interests of the government compelled him to put Jalalabad into a state of defence until the Kabul force should fall back on it or succour arrive from Peshawar.

Considering that Major Griffiths, with the 37th native infantry and three guns, sent back by Sale to Kabar Jabar and recalled to Kabul by Elphinstone, made good his way through the passes in spite of the Ghilzai attack, and reached Kabul on 3 Nov. without even the loss of any baggage, it is difficult to understand why Sale could not have secured his sick and wounded and his baggage in one of the defensible forts in his neighbourhood, and then, unencumbered, made a rapid march to Kabul, where his appearance would have been a blow to the insurrection and new life to the British cause. Even if he did not go to Kabul, he would have been of much greater use to the Kabul force had he remained at Gandamak, where he could have maintained himself at least as easily as at Jalalabad, and could have held out a helpful hand to the retiring Kabul force. On the other hand it must be remembered that Sale's decision must have been deliberately taken, for he had the strongest personal inducements to return to Kabul, where his wife and daughter and son-in-law shared the dangers of the garrison.

The defences of Jalalabad were in a miserable condition, and there were no food supplies. Sale's force numbered about two thousand men, composed of seven hundred men of the 13th light infantry, half of whom were recruits who had joined from England during the summer; the 35th native infantry, 750 men; Broadfoot's sappers, 150 men; forty men of the shah's infantry; one squadron (130 men) of the 5th Bengal cavalry under Captain Oldfield; one risala of Shah Shuja's contingent (ninety sabres); Backhouse's mountain train (sixty men); and Abbott's battery (120 men). A successful sortie was made by Monteith on 14 Nov., which cleared the neighbourhood of Afghans and enabled supplies to be got in. Abbott and Broadfoot were entrusted with the duty of placing the town in a state of defence. On the 21st Sale heard of the destruction of the Charikar garrison, and the following day of the evacuation of Pesh Bolak, east of the Khaibar pass, and by the end of the month Sale was surrounded by six thousand Afghans. Another successful sortie was made by Dennie on 1 Dec., which left the garrison unmolested for some time and enabled the provisional defences to be completed. On 2 Jan. 1842 Sale heard of the murder of Macnaghten, and on the 9th he received orders from Elphinstone to evacuate Jalalabad and march to Peshawar, in accordance with a convention made at Kabul. The despatch informed Sale that Akbar Khan had given a safe-conduct, and that he would be unmolested on his march. It is impossible to account for the imbecility which could put faith in the Afghans after the events which had occurred. Sale at this time intercepted a despatch from this very Akbar Khan to a chief near Jalalabad exhorting the faithful to assemble and fight the infidels, and he so informed Elphinstone, and declined to move without further orders. On 13 Jan. a solitary horseman, Dr. Brydon, wounded and exhausted, arrived to tell the fearful tale of the annihilation of the Kabul force of 4,500 men with its ten thousand camp followers. Broadfoot, the acting engineer, laid before Sale the condition of Jalalabad, and advised him, if he thought he could not hold out, to march that night for Peshawar while retreat was possible.

On 23 Jan. came news of Colonel Wild's attempt to force the Khaibar and the abandonment of Ali Masjid. Every precaution was taken by Sale and the Jalalabad garrison to enable them to fight to the last, and they prepared for the worst. On 26 Jan., however, Macgregor received a letter from Shah Shuja referring to the treaty, and asking Sale's intentions in remaining in Jalalabad. A council of war was called on the following day, which was presided over by Sale and attended by Captain Macgregor, political officer, Lieutenant-colonels Dennie and Monteith, and Captains Abbott, Broadfoot, Oldfield, and Backhouse. Captains Havelock and Wade, Sale's staff officers, were also present, but had no vote. Sale and Macgregor proposed to negotiate for the evacuation, which was vehemently opposed by Broadfoot and Oldfield, but agreed to by the rest; the meeting was, however, adjourned until the following day, when, after a heated discussion, the reply to Shah Shuja, agreed to by the majority, modified as regards hostages, was approved and sent. This reply was briefly that, if the shah had no further need of their services, they would evacuate Jalalabad on his giving them formal permission to do so, provided Akbar Khan were withdrawn, that safe-conduct were guaran-