Forty-One Years in India
From Subaltern to Commander-In-Chief
FIELD MARSHAL LORD ROBERTS
My wife and I thought and talked much over our new life on the frontier, to which we both looked forward with great interest and pleasure, but, before entering upon it, we settled to go home for a time to place our boy at school and see our friends, and we were arranging our plans accordingly, when suddenly our 'castles in the air' were dashed to the ground by a ruthless blow from the hand of Fate, and[Page 383] the whole of India, the whole of the civilized world, was struck with grief, horror, and indignation at the awful news of the massacre at Kabul of Cavagnari and his gallant companions.
Throughout the month of August telegrams and letters constantly came from Cavagnari (now a Lieutenant-Colonel and a K.C.B.) to the Viceroy, the Foreign Secretary, and myself, in which he always expressed himself in such a manner as to lead to the belief that he was perfectly content with his position, and felt himself quite secure; and in his very last letter, dated the 30th August, received after his death, he wrote: 'I personally believe that Yakub Khan will turn out to be a very good ally, and that we shall be able to keep him to his engagements.' His last telegram to the Viceroy, dated the 2nd September, concluded with the words, 'All well.' Cavagnari mentioned in one of his letters that the Afghan soldiers were inclined to be mutinous, and in another that a dispute had arisen in the bazaar between them and the men of the British escort, but at the same time he expressed his confidence in the Amir's ability and determination to maintain order; I could not, however, help being anxious about Cavagnari, or divest myself of the feeling that he might be over-estimating Yakub Khan's power, even if His Highness had the will, to protect the Mission.
Between one and two o'clock on the morning of the 5th September, I was awakened by my wife telling me that a telegraph man had been wandering round the house and calling for some time, but that no one had answered him.1 I got up, went downstairs, and, taking the telegram from the man, brought it up to my dressing-room, and opened it; it proved to be from Captain Conolly, Political Officer at Alikhel, dated the 4th September. The contents told me that my worst fears—fears I had hardly acknowledged to myself—had been only too fully realized. The telegram ran:
'One Jelaladin Ghilzai, who says he is in Sir Louis Cavagnari's secret service, has arrived in hot haste from Kabul, and solemnly states that yesterday morning the Residency was attacked by three regiments who had mutinied for their pay, they having guns, and being joined by a portion of six other regiments. The Embassy and escort were defending themselves when he left about noon yesterday. I hope to receive further news.'
I was paralyzed for the moment, but was roused by my wife calling out, 'What is it? Is it bad news from Kabul?' She had divined my fears about Cavagnari, and had been as anxious about him as I had been myself. I replied, 'Yes, very bad, if true. I hope it is not.' But I felt it was. I woke my A.D.C., and sent him off at once to the Viceroy with the telegram. The evil tidings spread rapidly. I was no sooner dressed than Mr. Alfred Lyall arrived. We talked matters[Page 384] over, I despatched a telegram2 to Captain Conolly, and we then went off to Lord Lytton.
Early as it was, I found the Council assembled. The gravity of the situation was thoroughly appreciated, and it was unanimously decided that, should the disastrous report prove to be true, troops must proceed to Kabul with the least possible delay to avenge or, if happily incorrect or exaggerated, to support the Mission.
Sir Samuel Browne's force had been broken up, Sir Donald Stewart was in far off Kandahar, and his troops had, all but a small number, left on their return march to India; the Kuram force was, therefore, the only one in a position to reach Kabul quickly, and I was ordered to proceed at once to Kuram and resume my command.
As a preliminary measure, Brigadier-General Massy, who had been placed in temporary command during my absence, was directed to move troops to the Shutargardan, where they were to entrench themselves and await orders, while Stewart was directed to stop all regiments on their way back to India, and himself hold fast at Kandahar.
Massacre of the Embassy During the day further telegrams were received confirming the truth of the first report, and telling of the Mission having been overwhelmed and every member of it cruelly massacred; and later Captain Conolly telegraphed that messengers had arrived from the Amir bringing two letters addressed to me giving his version of what had occurred.
The Kabul Field Force During the few hours I remained at Simla I was busily engaged in discussing with Sir Frederick Haines the formation of the Kabul Field Force,3 as my new command was designated, and the many important matters which had to be considered. More troops had to[Page 385] be hurried up, for it would be necessary to hold Kuram in strength while I moved on to Kabul, and, as communication by the Shutargardan could not be depended upon after December, on account of snow, the Khyber route would have to be opened out.
At the commencement of the last year's campaign my anxiety had been so largely increased by having been given officers totally inexperienced in war to fill the higher posts in the Kuram column, that I did not hesitate to press upon the Commander-in-Chief, now that I had a far more difficult operation to carry through, the importance of my senior officers being tried men on whom I could implicitly rely; and I succeeded in getting for the command of my two Infantry brigades Herbert Macpherson4 and T. D. Baker,5 the Viceroy's Military Secretary, both of whom had seen a good deal of service, while the former had already commanded a brigade in the field.
To the command of the Artillery and Cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel B. Gordon and Brigadier-General Massy were appointed, neither of whom had much experience of war. Gordon had served in Central India during the Mutiny, and Massy by his pluck as a subaltern of Infantry in the Crimea had gained for himself the sobriquet of 'Redan' Massy.[Page 386] But he had not served with Cavalry in the field, and from my slight acquaintance with him I could not say whether he possessed the very exceptional qualities required in a Cavalry Commander.
My staff had proved themselves so capable and reliable that I had no wish to make any change; it was, however, materially strengthened by the addition of Colonel MacGregor,6 as 'Chief of the Staff,' with Captain Combe,7 10th Hussars, and Lieutenant Manners Smith8 as Deputy-Assistant Quartermaster-Generals.
Mr. H.M. Durand9 was attached to me as Political Secretary, and Major Hastings as Political Officer, in place of Colonel Waterfield, who was hors de combat from a broken leg. Hugh Gough, with the rank of Brigadier-General, and Major Mark Heathcote as his assistant, were placed in charge of the lines of communication.
Lord Lytton's Foresightedness Before leaving Simla I paid a farewell visit to Lord Lytton. I found him in a state of deep distress and depression. To a man of his affectionate disposition, the fate of Cavagnari, for whom he had a great personal regard, was a real grief. But on public grounds he felt still more strongly the collapse of the Mission and the consequent heavy blow to the policy he had so much at heart, viz., the rectification of our defective frontier, and the rendering India secure against foreign aggression—a policy which, though scouted at the time by a party which later became all-powerful, has since been justified by the action of successive Governments, Liberal and Conservative alike, until at the present moment our frontier is gradually becoming what Lord Lytton, with his clear foresightedness and intelligent appreciation of our responsibilities and India's requirements, would then have made it.
In answer to my request for instructions as to the line I should take about our future relations with the Afghans, Lord Lytton said: 'You can tell them we shall never again altogether withdraw from Afghanistan, and that those who help you will be befriended and protected by the British Government.'
While I was with Lord Lytton, a telegram10 was brought in from Captain Conolly, reporting the details of the attack upon the Embassy,[Page 387] as given to him by the messenger who had been entrusted by the Amir to deliver the two letters addressed to me. In this telegram Conolly solicited instructions as to what he was to communicate to the Amir in reply to His Highness's request for aid, and inquired whether he was at liberty to make terms with one Badshah Khan, an influential Ghilzai Chief, who had come to Alikhel to offer his services.
The following telegram was sent in reply by the Foreign Secretary:
'Your telegram 6th. Reply to the Amir at once from the Viceroy that a strong British force under General Roberts will march speedily on Kabul to his relief, from the Shutargardan, and that he should use all his resources to co-operate with, and facilitate, the advance of the troops through his country. Your proposal to subsidize Badshah Khan and accept his services is approved. Roberts will send detailed instructions.'
Start for Kabul Late in the afternoon of the same day (September 6th) I left Simla, accompanied by my wife as far as Umballa, where I found my staff waiting for me. She saw us off in the train, bidding us a cheery good-bye and good luck, but I am afraid the return journey must have been a sad one for her.
Thought for the immediate future filled my mind as we sped on our way to the front, and not a few difficulties connected with the proposed advance on Kabul presented themselves to me. My chief causes for anxiety were the insufficiency of transport, and the great extent of the lines of communication which would have to be guarded. It would be necessary to hold the country in strength from Thal to the Shutargardan, a distance of 115 miles, until such time as the Khyber route could be opened, and I felt that the force at my disposal (7,500 men and 22 guns) was none too large for the work before it, considering that I should have to provide a garrison for the Shutargardan, if not[Page 388] for other posts between that place and Kabul.
My Commissariat arrangements, too, caused me many misgivings, increased by the fact that Major Badcock, my chief Commissariat Officer, and Major Collett, my Assistant Quartermaster-General, who had afforded such valuable aid in Kuram, thinking the war was at an end, had taken leave to England. My doubts vanished, however, and my spirits rose at the sight of my brave troops, and the enthusiastic welcome they gave me as I rode through Kuram on the 12th September on my way to Alikhel. A splendid spirit pervaded the whole force; the men's hearts were on fire with eager desire to press on to Kabul, and be led against the miscreants who had foully massacred our countrymen, and I felt assured that whatever it was possible for dauntless courage, unselfish devotion, and firm determination to achieve, would be achieved by my gallant soldiers.
Letter to the Amir On reaching Alikhel, Captain Conolly handed to me the Amir's letters,11 to which I replied at once, and the next day, under instructions from the Government of India, I wrote to His Highness that, in conformity[Page 389] with his own special request that an English officer should be deputed as Envoy to his Court, and on condition that he would himself be responsible for the protection and honourable treatment of such an Envoy, Major Cavagnari and three British officers had been allowed to go to Kabul, all of whom within six weeks had been ruthlessly murdered by his troops and subjects; that his inability to carry out the treaty engagements, and his powerlessness to establish his authority, even in his own capital, having thus become apparent, an English army would now advance on Kabul with the double object of consolidating his Government, should he himself loyally do his best to fulfil the terms of the treaty, and of exacting retribution from the murderers of the British Mission. But that, although His Highness laid great stress in his letter of the 4th September on the sincerity of his friendship, my Government had been informed that emissaries had been despatched from Kabul to rouse the country people and tribes against us, and as this action appeared inconsistent with friendly intentions, I considered it necessary for His Highness to send a confidential representative to confer with me and explain his object.
I had little doubt as to the truth of the report that the Amir was using every effort to incite the Ghilzais and other tribes to oppose us, and I was confirmed in my conviction by a Native gentleman, Nawab Ghulam Hussein Khan,12 at one time our agent at Kabul, who told me that, although he did not believe that Yakub Khan had actually planned the massacre of the Embassy, he had certainly taken no steps to prevent it, and that he, Ghulam Hussein Khan, was convinced that the Amir was now playing us false. It was, therefore, a relief to find awaiting me at Alikhel several of the leading men from the neighbouring districts, to whom I had telegraphed, before leaving Simla, asking them to meet me.
These men were profuse in their proffers of assistance, and, although I did not place a great deal of faith in their promises, I came to the conclusion that, notwithstanding Yakub Khan's treacherous efforts to stir up the tribes, if I could only push on rapidly with a fairly strong force, I need not anticipate any opposition that I could not overcome. Everything depended on speed, but rapidity of movement depended on the condition of the transport service, and my inspection of the animals, as I passed through Kuram, was not calculated to raise hopes of being able to make a very quick advance; for, owing to continuous hard work and the want of a staff of trained transport attendants, the numbers of animals had steadily diminished, and those that remained[Page 390] were for the most part sickly and out of condition.
Proclamation to the People of Kabul On the 16th of September I issued a Proclamation,13 copies of which I caused to be sent to the people of Kabul, Ghazni, and all the neighbouring tribes; this, I hoped, would facilitate our advance, and reassure those who had taken no part in the attack on the Residency. I also wrote a letter14 to the maliks of the Logar valley, whose territory we must enter directly we had crossed the Shutargardan, and whose co-operation[Page 391] I was most anxious to obtain. On the 18th I again wrote15 to the Amir, enclosing copies of these two documents, and informing him that I was still awaiting a reply to my first letter and the arrival of His Highness's confidential representative; that I hoped he would soon issue the necessary orders for the furtherance of our plans and that he might rest assured of the support of the British Government.
On the 19th September matters had so far progressed that I was able to tell the Viceroy that Brigadier-General Baker was entrenched with his brigade on the Shutargardan, and engaged in improving the road to Kushi, the first halting-place in the Logar valley; that supplies were being collected by means of local transport; that I was bringing up reserve ammunition and treasure from the rear on Artillery waggons; and that every possible effort was being made to render the force mobile.
Yakub Khan's Agents On the 20th I received the Amir's reply. He expressed regret that he was unable to come to Alikhel himself, but intimated that he was sending two confidential agents, his Mustaufi (Finance Minister), Habibulla Khan, and his Wazir (Prime Minister), Shah Mahomed Khan, who accordingly arrived the next day.
At each interview I had with these gentlemen during the three days they remained in my camp, they impressed upon me that the Amir was inclined to be most friendly, and that his only wish was to be guided by the advice of the British Government. But, notwithstanding these plausible assurances, I soon discovered that Yakub Khan's real object in sending these two high officials was to stop the advance of the force, and induce me to leave the punishment of the troops who had committed the massacre in the hands of the Afghan authorities, or else to delay us long enough to give time for the whole country to rise against us.
As the conversations which were carried on at the meetings with the Afghan agents are interesting, and have an important bearing on the subsequent proceedings, I give in the Appendix the notes taken at the time by my Political Secretary.
I was anxious to keep one of the Amir's representatives with me, but neither of them was willing to remain, so I felt bound to let them[Page 392] both depart, taking with them the following letter to the Amir:
TO HIS HIGHNESS THE AMIR OF KABUL.
Camp, Alikhel, 25th September, 1879.
(After compliments.) I have received Your Highness's two letters of the 19th and 20th September (1st and 2nd Shawal), delivered to me by the hands of Your Highness's two confidential representatives, Mustaufi Habibulla Khan and Wazir Shah Mahomed.
I am much obliged to Your Highness for sending me two such well-known men, and of such character as the Mustaufi and the Wazir. They have informed me of Your Highness's wishes, and I quite understand all they have told me. It is unfortunate that the season is so late, and that winter will soon be here; but there is yet time for a British army to reach Kabul before the great cold sets in.
The Viceroy of India is much concerned that there should have been any delay in promptly acceding to Your Highness's request for advice and assistance, as conveyed in Your Highness's letters of the 3rd and 4th instant. It was His Excellency's earnest wish that troops should march on Kabul at once, so as to ensure Your Highness's personal safety and aid Your Highness in restoring peace and order at your capital.
Unfortunately, the want of transport, and the necessity for collecting a certain amount of supplies, have caused a few weeks' delay; it is, however, a source of gratification and happiness to the Viceroy to learn that Your Highness's safety is not at present endangered, and His Excellency trusts Your Highness will be able to keep everything quiet in your kingdom, until such time as British troops may reach Kabul.
I am glad to be able to inform Your Highness that news reached me yesterday of the departure of a considerable force from Kandahar under the command of a brave and distinguished officer, and that a large body of troops, under command of General Bright, were advancing rapidly from Peshawar to Jalalabad and onwards viâ Gandamak to Kabul. My own force will, I hope, be in a state to march before long. As Your Highness is aware, the Shutargardan has been occupied for some days. Meanwhile regiments of Cavalry and Infantry and batteries of Artillery have reached Kuram to replace those I am taking on with me, and to reinforce my own column should a necessity for more troops arise—a contingency I do not in the least expect.
The Viceroy of India, in His Excellency's anxiety for Your Highness's welfare and safety, issued orders that each of the three armies, now advancing from Kandahar, Kuram, and the Khyber, should be strong enough to overcome any opposition Your Highness's enemies could possibly offer. That each is strong enough there can be no doubt.
I understand that there is no one at Kelat-i-Ghilzai or Ghazni to stop the progress of the troops en route from Kandahar. There is no reason, therefore, why they should not reach Kabul in a very short time.
The Khyber tribes, having understood and appreciated the Treaty of peace made by Your Highness with the British Government in May last, have unanimously agreed to assist the troops from Peshawar in every way, and are now eager to keep the road through the Khyber safe, and to place all their transport animals at the disposal of the British Commander, who will thus be enabled to concentrate his force rapidly at Kabul. Through the kindness of Your Highness I have experienced much less difficulty than I could have expected, and I may now reasonably hope to be with Your Highness at least as soon as either the Kandahar or Khyber column. I look forward with great pleasure to the meeting with Your Highness,[Page 393] and trust that you will continue your kind assistance to obtain for me supplies and transport.
I have carefully considered Your Highness's proposal that you yourself should be permitted to administer just punishment to the mutinous troops and others who shared in the treacherous and cruel attack on the British Envoy and his small escort, and thus save Her Majesty's troops the trouble, hardship, and privation which must necessarily be encountered by an advance on Kabul at this season of the year. I thank Your Highness most cordially, on the part of the Viceroy and Government of India, for this further proof of Your Highness's friendly feelings. Under ordinary circumstances such an offer would be gratefully and willingly accepted, but after what has recently occurred, I feel sure that the great British nation would not rest satisfied unless a British army marched to Kabul and there assisted Your Highness to inflict such punishments as so terrible and dastardly an act deserves.
I have forwarded Your Highness's letters in original to the Viceroy; a copy of this, my reply, will be submitted by to-day's post for His Excellency's consideration. Meanwhile I have permitted Mustaufi Habibulla Khan and Wazir Shah Mahomed to take their leave and rejoin Your Highness.
Reasons for Remaining a Alikhel I delayed my own departure from Alikhel until a sufficiency of supplies had been collected at Kushi, and everything was ready for as rapid an advance on Kabul as my limited transport would admit of; for, so long as I remained behind, the people of Afghanistan could not be sure of my intentions, and no doubt hoped that the Amir's remonstrances would have the desired effect, and prevent our doing more than occupying the Shutargardan, or making a demonstration toward Kushi. My crossing the pass would, I knew, be the signal for all those determined on opposition to assemble; it was politic, therefore, to remain behind until the last moment.
When all arrangements were complete, so far as was possible with the means at my disposal, I issued the following Field Force Order:
'The Government of India having decided that a force shall proceed with all possible despatch to Kabul, in response to His Highness the Amir's appeal for aid, and with the object of avenging the dastardly murder of the British representative and his escort, Sir Frederick Roberts feels sure that the troops under his command will respond to the call with a determination to prove themselves worthy of the high reputation they have maintained during the recent campaign.
'The Major-General need address no words of exhortation to soldiers whose courage and fortitude have been so well proved. The Afghan tribes are numerous, but without organization; the regular army is undisciplined, and whatever may be the disparity in numbers, such foes can never be formidable to British troops. The dictates of humanity require that a distinction should be made between the peaceable inhabitants of Afghanistan and the treacherous murderers for whom a just retribution is in store, and Sir Frederick Roberts desires to impress upon all ranks the necessity for treating the unoffending population with justice, forbearance, and clemency.
'The future comfort and well-being of the force depend largely on the friendliness of our relations with the districts from which supplies must be drawn; prompt payment is enjoined for all articles purchased by departments and individuals, and all disputes must be at once referred to a political officer for decision.
'The Major-General confidently looks forward to the successful accomplishment[Page 394] of the object of the expedition, and the establishment of order and a settled Government in Afghanistan.'
FOOTNOTES, CHAPTER XLIX
[Footnote 1: There are no such things as bells or knockers in India.]
[Footnote 2: 'Lose no time and spare no money to obtain reliable information of what is going on in Kabul, and keep me constantly informed by urgent telegrams. I am in hopes that Jelaladin's report will turn out to be greatly exaggerated, if not untrue. As, however, his intelligence is sure to spread and cause a certain amount of excitement, warn General Massy and Mr. Christie (the Political Officer in Kuram) to be on the alert.']
[Footnote 3: The Kabul Field Force was composed as follows:
Lieutenant-Colonel B.L. Gordon, commanding.
Lieutenant-Colonel Ć. Perkins, C.B., commanding.
Brigadier-General W.D. Massy, commanding.
1ST INFANTRY BRIGADE.
Brigadier-General H. Macpherson, C.B., V.C.,
2ND INFANTRY BRIGADE.
Brigadier-General T.D. Baker, C.B., 18th Foot,
Return to CHAPTER XLIX.3
[Footnote 4: The late Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Macpherson, V.C., K.C.B., who died as Commander-in-Chief of Madras.]
[Footnote 5: The late Sir Thomas Baker, K.C.B., who died as Quartermaster-General at the Horse Guards.]
[Footnote 6: The late Sir Charles MacGregor, K.C.B.]
[Footnote 7: Now Major-General Combe, C.B.]
[Footnote 8: This promising young officer greatly distinguished himself at Kabul, and died a few years afterwards of cholera.]
[Footnote 9: Now Sir Mortimer Durand, K.C.S.I., K.C.I.E., British Minister at Teheran.]
[Footnote 10: TELEGRAM DATED 6TH SEPTEMBER, 1879.
From CAPTAIN CONOLLY, ALIKHEL.
To FOREIGN SECRETARY, SIMLA.
'Clear the Line.—Sirkai Khan, bearer of the Amir's first letter, confirms previous reports of disaster, and describes how Badshah Khan visited the spot, and saw the dead bodies of the Envoy, staff, and escort. Of the latter, some nine sowars are said to have been out getting grass that day, and were not killed with the rest; defence was very stubborn, and the loss of the Kabulis heavy, put down at one hundred, or more. Finding they could not storm the place, the mutineers set fire to the doorway below, and, when that gave way, swarmed in and up to the upper story, overwhelmed the defenders, and sacked the place.
'The second letter was brought by another messenger, servant of the Embassy Mehmandar, whose story in all but a few unimportant details is the same as that first received.
'If an advance on Kabul is decided on to revenge massacre of Embassy, and also to quiet surrounding tribes, whom any (?) action would tempt to break out, it appears to me all-important to secure safe passage of the Shutargardan, and with this object to subsidize Badshah Khan handsomely.
'I have detained the Kabul messengers pending receipt of instructions as to the line of policy to follow, and what to communicate to the Amir or Badshah Khan. The former invokes our aid; the latter expresses himself, through his messenger, anxious to serve us. Once in Logar valley, where they have had a bumper harvest, we could live on the country.']
[Footnote 11: TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM THE AMIR OF KABUL TO GENERAL ROBERTS, DATED KABUL, 8 A.M., THE 3RD SEPTEMBER, 1879.
(After compliments.) The troops who had assembled for pay at the Bala Hissar suddenly broke out and stoned their officers, and then all rushed to the Residency and stoned it, receiving in return a hail of bullets. Confusion and disturbance reached such a height that it was impossible to quiet it. People from Sherpur and country around the Bala Hissar, and city people of all classes, poured into the Bala Hissar and began destroying workshops, Artillery park, and magazine; and all the troops and people attacked the Residency. Meanwhile, I sent Daud Shah* to help the Envoy. On reaching the Residency, he was unhorsed by stones and spears, and is now dying. I then sent Sirdar Yahia Khan and my own son, the heir-apparent, with the Koran to the troops; but no use. I then sent well-known Syads and Mullahs of each class, but of no avail; up till now, evening, the disturbance continues. It will be seen how it ends. I am grieved with this confusing state of things. It is almost beyond conception. (Here follow the date and the Amir's seal.)]
[Note *: The Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan army.]
SECOND LETTER FROM THE AMIR, DATED KABUL, THE 4TH SEPTEMBER, 1879.
Yesterday, from 8 a.m. till evening, thousands assembled to destroy the Embassy. There has been much loss of life on both sides. At evening they set fire to the Residency. All yesterday and up till now, I with five attendants have been besieged. I have no certain news of the Envoy, whether he and his people have been killed in their quarters, or been seized and brought out. Afghanistan is ruined; the troops, city, and surrounding country have thrown off their yoke of allegiance. Daud Shah is not expected to recover; all his attendants were killed. The workshops and magazine are totally gutted—in fact, my kingdom is ruined. After God, I look to the Government for aid and advice. My true friendship and honesty of purpose will be proved as clear as daylight. By this misfortune I have lost my friend, the Envoy, and also my kingdom. I am terribly grieved and perplexed. (Here follow the date and the Amir's seal.)
[Footnote 12: The Nawab was on his way from Kandahar to Kabul, but on hearing of the massacre he came to Alikhel.]
[Footnote 13: TRANSLATION OF A PROCLAMATION ISSUED BY MAJOR-GENERAL SIR FREDERICK ROBERTS.
Alikhel, 16th September, 1879.
Be it known to all the Chiefs and the people of the country of Kabul and its dependencies that, in accordance with the Treaty concluded in May, 1879, corresponding to Jamdi-ul-Akhir 1296 Hijri, between the two great Governments, and to the terms of which His Highness the Amir expressed his assent, and agreed to the location of an Envoy of Her Imperial Majesty the Empress, a British Envoy was, at the special request of His Highness the Amir, located at the Kabul Court, and the Amir guaranteed that he should be treated honourably and protected.
Within six weeks after the said Envoy was received at and entered Kabul the whole Embassy was besieged and massacred in the very citadel of His Highness the Amir, who could not save or protect them from the hands of the soldiers and the people. From this, the lack of power of the Amir and the weakness of his authority in his capital itself are quite apparent and manifest. For this reason the British troops are advancing for the purpose of taking a public vengeance on behalf of the deceased as well as of obtaining satisfaction (lit., consolidation) of the terms entered into in the Treaty concluded. The British troops are entering Afghanistan for the purpose of strengthening the royal authority of His Highness the Amir on condition that His Highness loyally uses those powers for the maintenance of friendship and of amicable relations with the British Government. This is the only course by which the Amir's kingdom can remain intact, and (by which) also the friendly sentiments and sincerity expressed in his letter of the 4th September, 1879, after the occurrence of the (said) event can be proved.
For the purpose of removing any doubt about the concord of the two Governments, the Amir has been addressed to depute a confidential agent to my camp. The British force will not punish or injure anyone except the persons who have taken part or joined in the massacre of the Embassy unless they offer opposition. All the rest, the small and great, who are unconcerned (therein) may rest assured of this. Carriage and supplies of every description should be brought into the British camp. Full price and hire shall be paid for everything that may be taken. Whereas mercy and humanity are the characteristics of this great Government, this proclamation is issued beforehand for the information of the people at large.]
[Footnote 14: TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM MAJOR-GENERAL SIR FREDERICK ROBERTS TO CERTAIN maliks OF THE LOGAR VALLEY.
From the Proclamation already issued by me, you will have learnt the reasons for the march of the British troops to Kabul. Her Majesty's Government, by the movement of troops, intends to exact retribution for the massacre of the Embassy and to aid His Highness the Amir in restoring order.
Let all those not concerned in the massacre rest assured, provided no opposition is shown, His Highness the Amir, in communications received by me, expresses his friendship, and wishes to continue amicable relations. As the British troops under my command will shortly enter the Logar valley I write to reassure you, and expect that you will inform all the residents of the valley not concerned in the late hateful massacre the purport of the Proclamation, and give every assistance in providing carriage and supplies required for the troops for which adequate hire and payment will be made. I hope that after the above assurance all the headmen will come to meet me in my camp where I shall be glad to see them.]
[Footnote 15: This letter is given in full in the Appendix.]