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Jugdelluk, the last stand made by General Elphinstone's army in the calamitous retreat

Jugdelluk, the last stand made by General Elphinstone's army in the calamitous retreat

Artist: Rattray, James (1818-1854)

Medium: Lithograph, coloured

Date: 1848

Shelfmark: X562(21)

Item number: Plate 21

Length: 30.3

Width: 40.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Print

This lithograph was taken from plate 21 of 'Afghaunistan' by Lieutenant James Rattray. The British army suffered its worst disaster while retreating from Kabul in January 1842. On 6 January, the British force of 4,500 soldiers and about 12,000 followers under Major-General Elphinstone pulled out of Kabul and left for Jallalabad. They had been guaranteed safe passage by 18 tribal leaders, but fell prey to the extreme cold, lack of food and supplies and attacks from higher ground by local tribesmen. The column suffered terrible losses and upon reaching Gandamak near the Jagdalak Pass the survivors made a last stand, only to be massacred in a final ambush on 12 January. A single European survivor, Dr William Brydon, managed to reach Jalalabad the following day. Rattray himself rode through the pass in October 1842, as part of Nott's rear-guard.

The pass rises in steep ascent; between its walls of blackened granite remnants of barricades still stood, interlaced with bones. Piles of mummified bodies and whitening bones were everywhere. Rattray, depressed that noone had the time to perform a decent burial, wrote: "we were led on by our skeleton guides from mountain to deep ravine, over valley and rugged cliff, skeletons for landmarks, for direction posts, skeletons."

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