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The circumstance of an English army penetrating into Central Asia, through countries which had not been traversed by European troops since Alexander the Great led his victorious army from the Hellespont to the Jaxartes and Indus, is so strong a feature in our military history, that I have determined, at the suggestion of my friends, to print those letters received from my son which detail any of the events of the campaign. As he was actively engaged with the Bombay division, his narrative may be relied upon so far as he had an opportunity of witnessing its operations; and it being my intention to have only a few copies printed, to give to those friends who may take an interest in his letters, I need not apologize for the familiar manner in which they are written, as they were intended by him only for his own family, without an idea of their being printed. A history, however, may be collected from them most honourable to the British soldiers, both Europeans and natives of India. They shew the patience with which, for more than twelve months, the soldiers bore all their deprivations and fatiguing marches through countries until then unknown to them, whether moving through arid sands or rocky passes, under a burning sun; or over desolate mountains, amidst the most severe frosts, with scarcely an interval of repose. Neither was their gallantry less conspicuous than their patience, when they had the good fortune to find an enemy who ventured to face them. Although the circumstances which his letters detail might well deserve a better historian than my son, yet are they of that high and honourable character, that they cannot lose any part of their value by his familiar manner of narrating them.
When I decided upon printing these letters, it became a matter of interest to place before the reader a short account of the countries in which the operations of the army were conducted, as well as of the native rulers who took part in, or were the cause of them; in order that the letters might be more clearly understood by those friends who have not felt sufficiently interested in the history of those countries to make any inquiries about them. But, before I do so, I shall draw the attention of the reader to the army of Alexander, to which I have before alluded.
Without entering into the causes which led to his extraordinary conquests, predicted by Daniel as the means ordained of God to overthrow the Persian empire, then under the government of Darius, certain it is that he conquered the whole of those countries which extend from the Hellespont to the Indus, when his career was arrested by his own soldiers. Having overrun Syria, Egypt, Media, and Parthia, keeping his course to the north-east, he not only passed the Oxus, and forced his way to the Jaxartes, but, pressed by the Scythians from its opposite shore, he crossed