With regard to myself, my health, with the exception of the fever, has been much better than I could have expected, considering what we have gone through. I have, however, been sadly bothered the whole time I have been in the country with rheumatism; at times, during the march, I was so bad with it that I could not walk ten minutes at a time. I have also had terrible pains in the joints of my arms, and have them still, and it is with difficulty I can get a gun to my shoulder. I can walk pretty well now, but running is totally out of the question; so that I am afraid I should come off poorly in a hand-to-hand encounter with these rascals. I applied to the doctor for some medicine, but he said “he could give me none;” in fact, they will not give an officer any medicine now unless he is very seriously ill, as they are very short of medical stores.
I hope you may be able to get through this letter; the blue paper I have been writing on is Russian, and bought in Candahar. I do not think I have anything more to say. I will write again when I reach Cabool. Tell Kate I will write to her too: I hope she got my letter which I wrote in January last under cover to you.
With best love to all at home,
Believe me your very affectionate son,
P.S.—By-the-bye, there is an officer here in H.M. 13th Light Infantry, with the Bengal force, who knows Arthur very well, in fact, I think a great deal better than I do myself. His name is Wood; he is a Canterbury man, and seems to know Mr. Baylay and everybody else there. He was in the 48th when Arthur was at Canterbury with the 4th Drag. Guards. He desired to be kindly remembered to Arthur when I wrote. I hope Eliza’s hooping-cough is well. I was very sorry to hear of poor Sluman’s death: as far back as I can recollect he is always associated in my mind with home. I hope Ghiljee, Kauker, Beloochee, and Co., will let this pass.
Camp, near Ghuzni, July 24th, 1839.
MY DEAR FATHER,—You must put down yesterday, the 23rd of July, in your memorandum book as a memorable day for your son Tom, and, I may say, for the British army. Ghuzni, the strongest fortress in Afghanistan, was taken by assault in three-quarters of an hour, by the four European regiments of the army—viz., the Queen’s, 13th Light Infantry, 17th regiment, and Bengal European regiment. The storming party, or forlorn hope, consisted of the Light Companies of the four regiments. The whole right in front—ergo, our company (the Light Company of the Queen’s) was the first in. I may well remember it, as it was the first time I smelt gunpowder and saw blows given in real earnest. It is the most splendid thing for us that could have happened: if we had failed, we should have had the whole country down upon us in a few days; now, they say, the country is ours.