On the 24th September I started on another excursion, though under very different circumstances; our party on this occasion consisting of Her Majesty’s 13th Light Infantry, two companies of the 37th Native Infantry, two squadrons of the Bengal 2nd Cavalry, a small body of Affgh[=a]n horsemen under Prince Timour Shah, three nine-pounders, two 24-inch howitzers, and two 8 1/2-inch mortars, the whole under the command of Sir Robert Sale, the object of the expedition being to quell some refractory chiefs inhabiting the northern and some hilly parts of the Kohist[=a]n.
It would be beyond the sphere of this little book to enter into a detailed account of our operations in the field, nor do I pretend to have sufficient materials by me for such a delicate task, in the execution of which I might by erroneous statements expose myself to just animadversion.
I had not, I regret to say, the means of ascertaining with precision the different causes which had driven these hill chiefs into rebellion. The footing which Dost Mahomed had lately acquired in the north-west encouraged them to persist, and it will be seen in the sequel, that at the disgraceful scene of Purwun Durrah the Dost was almost a prisoner in the hands of those who were considered, by the unversed in the intricacies of Affgh[=a]n policy, to be only in arms for the restoration of their favourite to the throne of C[=a]bul.
Were it in my power to give an accurate description of the different positions assumed by the enemy, and provided I had the leisure to survey the ground, then I am well aware that I might have claimed additional interest for my pages, as I should have elucidated the mode of warfare peculiar to the Affgh[=a]ns; but such an attempt would perhaps carry me out of my depth. I must therefore be content with remarking, that though in action the Affgh[=a]ns acknowledge some guiding chieftain, yet the details of position are left to each tribe. They have no confidence in each other; it follows, therefore, that the wisest plan is to turn either or both flanks, as this manoeuvre is almost sure to require a change in the original disposition of their force, which they, for want of good communications between their detached parties, are unable to effect. Hence confusion arises, and the uncertainty of support generally causes the whole to retreat. The Affgh[=a]ns have great dread of their flanks being turned, and will sometimes abandon an almost impregnable position in consequence of a demonstration being made to that effect, which after all could never have been carried out.