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LORD AUCKLAND AND RUNJEET SINGH.
INTRIGUES AT AVA AND NEPAUL-INTERVIEW BETWEEN LORD AUCK
LAND AND RUNJEET SINGH-THE AMEERS OF SCINDE-ADVANCE INTO AFGHANISTAN-TAKING OF CANDAHAR AND GHUZNEE-ENTRY OF SHAH SUJAH INTO CABOOL-DOURANEE ORDER OF KNIGOTHOOD
FALL OF KHELAT.
THE warlike attitude assumed by the British authorities in India, led to various intrigues on the part of the courts of Ava and Nepaul. An emissary from the lastmentioned state having attempted to sow discord between the English and Runjeet Singh, was arrested, and a strong force encamped on the Nepaulese frontier. In like manner, reinforcements were sent to the corps stationed in Arracan and Tenasserim, in order to check any warlike demonstration on the part of the Burmese. Having adopted these precautions against turbulent neighbours, the governor-general took a journey to Ferozepore, for the purpose of inspecting the army of invasion and to exchange civilities with the Maharajah Runjeet Singh.
On the 28th of November, 1838, the Lion of Lahore paid his first visit to the representative of the British Queen. Runjeet Singh has been described as “diminutive in person, but of a most expressive countenance ; his forehead was broad and capacious, his right eye-the only one he possessed, having lost the other by smallpox-was large, prominent, and brilliant, glancing continually and restlessly around; and his appearance altogether was singular and impressive.” Such was the figure who, having dismounted from his elephant, entered the tent of council supported by Lord Auckland and Sir Henry Fane. There he received the magnificent presents prepared for his acceptance, and performed an act of reverential homage to the portrait of Queen Victoria, which Sir Willoughby Cotton placed before him. The crowd was immense, and the noise considerable, but the magnificence of the spectacle yielded in impressiveness to the gorgeous scene which presented itself on the following day, when the governor-general returned the visit of the Maharajah. The crimson tents of the Seikhs, the gorgeous robes and arms of their officers, the glitter of armour, and the variety of colours that everywhere met the eye, constituted a magnificent illustration of Oriental splendour.
Amid this pageantry and warlike display, intelligence arrived that the Persians had retreated from Herat, -a circumstance which led to the diminution of the invading army. As Sir H. Fane judged it necessary to select the corps that were to accompany the expedition by lot, for the purpose of avoiding all invidious distinctions, one of the most effective-the Buffs—were left behind, while the 13th Light Infantry, an invalid regiment, occupied their place. Shortly after this arrangement, Sir Henry resigned his post, being compelled by ill health to return to England, and the chief command was made over to Sir John Keane, then at the head of the Bombay division.
The commencement of the expedition could hardly be considered fortunate, inasmuch as the advance of the troops through Scinde occasioned much hostile feeling on the part of the Ameers of that province, which manifested itself in their reluctance to provide supplies of provisions for the troops, and to contribute twenty-eight lacs of rupees as their share towards the expenses of the war. Originally vassals of the Afghan kingdom, they feared that the restoration of Shah Sujah would affect their independence, the more especially as that monarch, whose ideas of royalty were truly Oriental, had threatened
either to reduce them to their former condition, or to transfer his claims on their obedience to the British Government. Their inimical spirit soon rendered it necessary to menace their capital of Hyderabad; and this measure, while it unquestionably retarded the movements of the army, obliged the Ameers to enter into more amicable arrangements,
On the 20th of February, Sir Willoughby Cotton joined the Shah's Contingent at Shikarpoor. Three days afterwards, the English commander continued his march with the first division towards the Bolan pass, while the Shah and Mr. Macnaghten, the British Envoy, remained stationary, waiting for the coming up of the Bombay army, under Sir John Keane. The advance of the troops was beset on every side by the most formidable difficulties. They wanted water and forage, losing daily some of the camels and beasts of burden, while the wild Beloochee tribes hung upon the flanks and rear, plundering the stores, and murdering all the stragglers that fell into their hands. Many of these impediments were attributable to the conduct of Mihrab Khan, of Khelat, the ruler of the provinces through which the troops were now passing, who, although not openly at war with the English, disapproved of their policy, and was disposed to hinder their progress as much as possible. Others arose from the excessive amount of baggage, which re. quired 30,000 camels to transport it; and from the number of the camp followers, who were four times more than the fighting men. Thus the army was not only obliged to provide for its own necessities, but for those of an useless and unwarlike crowd, by whom the stores were consumed, and the movements of the troops considerably retarded.
When Sir W. Cotton arrived at Dadur, he possessed only a month's supply of provisions, and had little expectation of collecting more until he reached the open country of Afghanistan. He was now at the entrance
of the Bolan pass, a narrow defile, about seventy miles in length, and hedged in on both sides by precipitous rocks and mountains more than five thousand feet high. Owing to the exertions of Sir Alexander Burnes, who went on before with a small force to remove obstacles and prepare the way for the rest of the army, the passage was accomplished in a week, the column reaching Quettah on the 26th of March. Here the scarcity of provisions obliged the commander to diminish by nearly one half the daily allowance served out to his men, a measure which, although imperatively necessary, tended to depress their spirits, and rendered them anxious with respect to the issue of the campaign.
From Quettah Sir A. Burnes hastened to Khelat, where he used every effort to conciliate Mihrab Khan. That chieftain commented unfavourably on the measures of the English, predicted an unsuccessful termination to the invasion, and complained of the losses he had sustained by the passage of an army through his territories. The promise of a lac and a half of rupees annually, as payment for supplies of provisions, rendered him apparently more favourable, but his means of aiding the army seem to have been overrated, and a blight during the preceding year had occasioned throughout the country a scarcity of grain. Moreover, notwithstanding that a treaty was entered into with the Khan, he secretly encouraged his dependents to harass and annoy the English in every possible manner. These outrages being continually committed by the savage mountaineers, naturally led to instances of severe retaliation. Their lands were devastated, and many persons suspected of robbery or murder underwent the severest penalties of martial law.
The sufferings and inconveniences endured by the troops rendered both officers and men querulous and discontented. The English. generals complained that an undue share of the camels and stores were allotted to
SHAH SUJAH AT CANDAHAR.
the undisciplined rabble termed the Shah's Contingent, while the divisions destined to bear the whole brunt of the war were neglected and overlooked. This display of irritation might, perhaps, be excusable, but it was, unfortunately, succeeded by a discreditable manifestation of jealousy on the part of the Bengal and Bombay forces, each accusing the other of appropriating more than its share of the camels and stores.
At length, Sir John Keane having joined the leading column, the troops pushed on to Candahar, the capital of Western Afghanistan, which they reached on the 25th of April, 1839. The governors of the city fled at their approach, and Shah Sujah entered in solemn state, accompanied by his English allies. His reception was most flattering. The streets were crowded with spectators, who strewed flowers before the king, and hailed him with shouts of " Welcome to the son of Timour Shah !” “ Candahar is rescued from the Barukzyes !" “May your enemies be destroyed !” and similar acclamations, many of which may have been as insincere as the acclamations of an ignorant and excited populace usually are. The Douranees, however, crowded around their ancient king, pleading past loyalty and sufferings, and demanding that for the future their privileges and possessions should be restored, and themselves advanced to the highest posts of the State. In a few days Shah Sujah found himself beset with the same difficulties that harassed Charles II. after the Restoration, and Louis XVIII. after the downfall of Buonaparte.
In the meantime, the English army suffered considerably from fever and dysentery, occasioned by the unprecedented heat of the weather and the privations they had undergone in their toilsome march. The Afghans regarded the invaders with unmitigated hostility, and two English officers having gone out on a fishing excursion, they were attacked by assassins at a short distance from the city, who murdered the one, and severely