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Afghanistan 1838-1842: Sources in the India Office Records

Chronology 1838-1842

Defile between Deyra and Kahun

Defile between Deyra and Kahun. By Dr.Kirk, 1st Bombay Granadiers, 1841. ©The British Library Board [1786.d.5]



JunBritish naval expedition against Persia. Conclusion of a Tripartite Treaty between the Government of India, Ranjit Singh and Shah Shuja for the latter's restoration
SepPersians raise siege of Herat; Pottinger appointed British Political Agent
1 OctLord Auckland issues the Simla Manifesto announcing the intention of the Government of India to restore Shah Shuja to the throne of Afghanistan
NovThe Army of the Indus sets off
AprThe Army of the Indus reaches and takes Kandahar
 Death of Ranjit Singh
 Shah Shuja re-enters Kabul. Treaty concluded with Shah Kamran of Herat
 After raising support in the north and some military success in Kohistan Dost Muhammad Khan surrenders to the British and is sent to India. Major D'Arcy Todd, Political Agent, withdraws from Herat
 General William Elphinstone appointed to command of British forces in Afghanistan
OctGeneral Sale's brigade marches to Jalalabad through hostile tribes
NovInsurrection breaks out in Kabul: Burnes murdered; British besieged in cantonment. Shah Shuja deposed and imprisoned; Zeman Khan Muhammadzai appointed Amir
23 DecSir William Macnaghten, British envoy and minister, killed during a conference with Afghan sirdars
6 Jan4,500 troops (British and Indian) and 12,000 camp-followers leave Kabul to march to Jalalabad; Dr Brydon, only European survivor, reaches Jalalabad. Jalalabad and Kandahar garrisons under attack but continue to hold out
FebShah Shuja murdered; Fath Jang, his son, proclaimed Saddozai Amir, civil war
MarYar Muhammad in Herat assassinates Shah Kamran and takes power
SepPollock relieves Jalalabad; Pollock enters Kabul, followed shortly afterwards by Nott from Kandahar. British withdraw from Afghanistan



As well as the items in the India Office Records listed below, researchers are advised to consult the numerous contemporary published narratives relating to the campaign, e.g. History of the war in Afghanistan by Sir J W Kaye (1851) is a standard although biased account. It is also recommended to search the private papers of officers, other ranks and non-combatants, in the India Office Records and elsewhere, principally the School of Oriental and African Studies, the National Army Museum and headquarters of the various regiments involved.

[IOR:F] Board of Control Records

F/4 Board's Collections, 1796-1858
See under specific events or persons in the subject index.

[IOR:H] Home Miscellaneous Series

H/543-45 Papers connected with Sale's Brigade

H/546 Letter book of Major-General Sir Willoughby Cotton, commanding at Kabul, Sep 1840-Feb 1841

See Subject Index in the Catalogue for other references scattered in various volumes.

[IOR:L/MIL] Military Department

L/MIL/3 Correspondence with India, 1803-1937

L/MIL/5/259-61, Prize and Batta Rolls for the Afghan Campaigns, 1839-l844

L/MIL/17/14 Military Department Library: Afghanistan

See also Service Army Lists [L/MIL/10, L/MIL/12] for details of EIC officers involved.

It should be noted, in the case of both Departmental Records and Proceedings that matters dealt with under 'Military' are mainly of an administrative nature and that 'Political' and 'Secret' records are much more informative, even on military topics.

[IOR:L/PARL] Parliamentary Branch

L/PARL/2/87 Afghanistan and Aden: confidential papers presented to Parliament 1839

L/PARL/2/87A Parliamentary Papers 1839-43

[IOR:L/PS] Political and Secret Department

L/PS/3 Home correspondence, 1807-1911

L/PS/5 Secret correspondence with India, 1756-1874

L/PS/6 Political correspondence with India, 1792-1874

L/PS/9 Correspondence with areas outside India, 1781-1911

L/PS/9/115-20 include correspondence directly from the Envoy at Kabul to the Secret Committee as well as enclosures in letters from the Envoy in Persia; L/P&S/9/115-17 include letters from the Political Agent Herat to the Secret Committee.

L/PS/14/1 Board's copies (in English) of correspondence of the King or Queen of England, the Board of Control and the Foreign Office with Asian Rulers and Indian Princes, 1796-1858

L/PS/20 Political and Secret Department Library
Odd items among 'A' and 'B' books and in miscellaneous material Geographical memoir to accompany papers respecting Afghanistan and Persia (Printed by order of the House of Commons) (No 91)

[IOR:P] Proceedings

India: Secret
Bombay: Secret

Passing references in Bengal and North-Western Provinces Political

[MSS EUR] Private Papers

Mss Eur A42

EYRE (Vincent ), Maj-Gen Sir
`The Military Operations at Cabul, which ended in the Retreat and Destruction of the British Army, January 1842. With a Journal of Imprisonment in Afghanistan' (London 1843), by Lt (later Maj-Gen Sir) Vincent Eyre (1811-81), Bengal Artillery 1829-63; with manuscript notes including extracts from reviews, and from letters from the author, dated 1841-43, describing the march to Kabul, the city and the surrounding country.
1 volume, 1841 - 1843

Mss Eur A186

SALE (Florentia ), Lady
Letter, dated 8 May [1842], from Florentia, Lady Sale (1790-1853), to her husband Maj-Gen Sir Robert Henry Sale (1782-1845), British Army 1795-1845, second in command, British Forces in Afghanistan 1839-42, giving news of herself and other hostages during their captivity in Afghanistan during the First Afghan War.
1 folio, 1842 - 1842

Mss Eur B191

EDEN (George ), Earl of Auckland
Ten letters from George Eden, Earl of Auckland (1784-1849), Governor-General of India 1836-42, to Lt-Gen Sir Jasper Nicolls (1778-1849), British Army 1793, C-in-C, India 1839-43, discussing details of military administration, and affairs in Afghanistan and the Punjab; also letter to Nicolls, dated 5 Jul 1841, from John Cam Hobhouse, Baron Broughton (1786-1869), President of the Board of Control 1835-41 and 1846-52.
1 portfolio, 1839 - 1841

Mss Eur B234

BIRD (William Wilberforce)
Letter, dated 11 Jun 1840, from William Willerforce Bird (d 1857), Bengal Civil Service 1803-44, Member, Supreme Council of India 1838-44, to William Butterworth Bayley (1782-1860), Bengal Civil Service 1799-1830, East India Company Director 1834-58, Chairman 1840, mainly discussing affairs in Afghanistan and relations with Russia.
5 folios, 1840 - 1840

Mss Eur B255

KEANE (John ), Lt-Gen 1st Baron Keane
Letters received by Lt-Gen Sir John Keane, 1st Baron Keane of Ghuznee (1781-1844), British Army 1793, C-in-C, Bombay 1834-40, commanded advance of Army of Indus into Afghanistan 1839: (i) dated 1836-39, from General Sir Henry Fane (1778-1840), British Army 1792, C-in-C, India 1835-39 on various matters; (ii) dated 1838-41, from Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India 1836-42, chiefly relating to the progress of the Afghan War.
2 volumes, 1836 - 1841

Mss Eur B275

SALE (Florentia ), Lady
Journal kept by Florentia, Lady Sale (1790-1853), wife of Maj-Gen Sir Robert Henry Sale (1782-1845), British Army 1795-1845, second in command, British Forces in Afghanistan 1839-42, recording her experiences during the first Afghan war, the retreat from Kabul, and as a captive of Muhammad Akbar Khan. Published as `A Journal of the Disasters in Afghanistan 1841-42' (London 1843).
1 volume, 1841 - 1842

Mss Eur B360

SALE (Florentia ), Lady
Notebook of Florentia, Lady Sale (1790-1853), wife of Maj-Gen Sir Robert Henry Sale (1782-1845), British Army 1795-1845, second in command, British Forces in Afghanistan 1839-42; including a history of her husband's service, intermittent diary entries, an account of the deposed queen of Gwalior, and a description of Agra illustrated with watercolours; with companion volume of watercolours, and mica paintings.
2 volumes; 30 mica paintings, 1832 - 1833

Mss Eur B315

KEANE (Edward Arthur Wellington), 2nd Baron Keane
`Rough Notes of the Campaign in Sinde and Afghanistan' by Sir James Outram (Bombay, 1840) and `Narrative of the Campaign of the Army of the Indus', vol 1, by Richard Hartley Kennedy (London, 1840), with occasional annotations by Edward Arthur Wellington Keane, 2nd Baron Keane, ADC to his father Lt-Gen Sir John Keane who commanded the Army of the Indus during the campaign of 1839.
2 volumes, 1804 - 1804

Mss Eur B415

SALE (Robert Henry), Maj-Gen Sir
Letter, dated 19 Dec 1841, from Maj-Gen Sir Robert Henry Sale (1782-1845), British Army 1795-1845, second in command, British Forces in Afghanistan 1839-42, to Lt-Gen Sir Jasper Nicolls (1778-1849), British Army 1793, C-in-C, India 1839-43, reporting on the situation of the British troops at Kabul Nov-Dec 1841; with typescript transcript.
4 folios, 1841 - 1841

Mss Eur C181

DOUGLAS (James Dundas), Capt
Five letters to his father and brother from Capt James Dundas Douglas (1801-41), Bengal Army 1820-41, written from Kandahar, Jalalabad and Kabul describing his experiences during the 1st Afghan War; with typescript transcripts.
9 folios, 1839 - 1840

Mss Eur C182

ORR (Sutherland George Gordon), Maj
Two letters, dated Jun and Jul 1842, from Lt (later Maj) Sutherland George Gordon Orr (b 1816), Madras Army 1835-58, written from Jalalabad to his mother and sister, and describing conditions during the 1st Afghan War.
4 folios, 1842 - 1842

Mss Eur C573

`Hostage in Afghanistan': unpublished book by Peter Collister giving an account of the experiences of the British men and women taken hostage during the Afghan War 1839-42, as a guarantee against treaty violation, including illustrations and maps.
1 portfolio, 1839 - 1842

Mss Eur C814

MEIN (George ), Maj-Gen
Copies of papers relating to the services of Lt (later Maj-Gen) George Mein (1817-96), British Army, during the first Afghan War. [Copies of photographs taken by his son, Capt Alexander Lechmere Mein (1854-1927), during the second Afghan War, are available in Prints and Drawings section].
1 folder, 1841 - 1842

Mss Eur D634

Extracts from memoirs of Maj-Gen Alexander Ross Elliott Hutchinson, Bengal Army 1843-77, and journal of James Alexander Caldwell Hutchinson (1828-95), Bengal Medical Service 1850-84, and other Hutchinson family papers, chiefly relating to the Indian mutiny; also `Journal of the Campaign in Afghanistan': manuscript account of 1st Afghan War compiled from letters of Capt Christopher Codrington, Bengal Army 1830-41, by his widow.
1 portfolio, 1838 - 1859

Mss Eur D649

NICOLLS (Jasper ), Lt-Gen Sir
Correspondence and papers of Lt-Gen Sir Jasper Nicolls (1778-1849), British Army 1793, C-in-C, India 1839-43, on matters concerning the British force at Kabul including the conduct of Capt Besant, Bengal Army, and the movement of troops to and from Afghanistan; including letters from the C-in-C at Kabul, Maj-Gen William George Keith Elphinstone (1782-1842).
24 folios, 1840 - 1841

Mss Eur D937

NICHOLL (Thomas ), Capt
Papers of and relating to Capt Thomas Nicholl (1796-1842), Bengal Artillery 1816-42, and his son General Thomas Nicholl (1831-1903), Bengal (later Royal) Artillery 1849-97, including references to the British retreat from Kabul 1842, and the Indian Mutiny; other papers relating to the Nicholl and Boileau families.
8 items, 1840 - 1895

Mss Eur D1089

BROADFOOT (George ), Maj
Precis of correspondence, dated July 1841-Feb 1842, of the Government of India with and concerning Afghanistan; made in about 1885 for Maj William Broadfoot when writing the life of his uncle Maj George Broadfoot (1807-45), Madras Army 1826-45, the defender of Jalalabad.
1 portfolio, 1841 - 1842

Mss Eur D1118

NICOLLS (Jasper ), Lt-Gen Sir
Letters and sketch map received by Lt-Gen Sir Jasper Nicolls (1778-1849), British Army 1793, C-in-C, India 1839-43, relating to 1st Afghan War, including three (1839) from Lt-Gen Sir John Keane, C-in-C, Bombay 1834-40 (one on the storming of Ghazni); and one (27 Feb 1842) from Maj-Gen George Pollock, Commander of expedition to relieve Jalalabad 1842, urging an advance into Afghanistan.
30 folios, 1839 - 1842

Mss Eur D1165

MCNEILL (John ), Sir
McNeill Collection: private and official correspondence and papers of Sir John McNeill (1795-1883), Bombay Medical Service 1816-36, chiefly relating to his negotiations as British Envoy to Persia 1836-42.
19 items, 1824 - 1857

Mss Eur F336

MACNAGHTEN (William Hay), Sir, Bart
Letter book, dated Feb 1839-Mar 1841, of Sir William Hay Macnaghten, Bart (1793-1841), Madras Army 1809, Bengal Civil Service 1814-41, Envoy and Minister at the Afghan Court of Shah Shuja from 1838, containing copies of his letters to the Governor-General Lord Auckland, and other British civil and military officers, on foreign political and administrative matters, and in particular on policy towards Afghanistan.
1 volume, 1839 - 1841

Mss Eur F439

POLLOCK (George ), Field Marshal Sir, 1st Bart
Miscellaneous papers of Maj-Gen (later Field Marshal) Sir George Pollock, 1st Bart (1786-1872), Bengal Artillery 1803, relating to his campaign as Commanding Officer in Afghanistan 1842.
16 items, 1841 - 1843

Mss Eur G134

KEANE (John ), Lt-Gen 1st Baron Keane
Grants, dated 19 and 22 Aug 1840, of augmentations supporters to arms borne by Lt-Gen Sir John Keane, 1st Baron Keane of Ghuznee (1781-1844), British Army 1793, C-in-C, Bombay 1834-40, commanded advance of Army of Indus into Afghanistan 1839.
2 folios, 1840 - 1840

Mss Eur K488

GRIFFITH (William )
Report by William Griffith (1810-45), Madras Medical Service 1832-45, on the botanical, agricultural and natural products of Afghanistan, printed in part in `Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal', nos x-xi (1841-42) and in Griffith's `Journals of Travels', 6 vols (Calcutta 1847-54). See printed catalogue for full description; requisition as Mss Eur D 159.
1 volume, 1841 - 1842

Mss Eur Photo Eur 452

Photocopies of selected Secret Department (Confidential) Newsletters compiled in India, dated Jan -Dec 1841. (The items selected appear not to be available in India Office Records L/PS/5 series.)
1 portfolio, 1841 - 1841