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28 AUGUST

BRITISH CHAPLAIN SHOCKED BY THE BARBARITY OF HIS OWN ARMY

[ 28 August 1842 ]

On this day in 1842, during the advance of a British punitive expedition led by Major General Sir William Nott, the Reverend Isaac Allen recalled the indiscriminate slaughter of men in a fortified Afghan village, deemed to have been responsible for staging an earlier attack on British troops.  Every man, regardless of age and wherever he was found, was shot or bayoneted and every dwelling burned, while the women and children were forced out of the village.

“Seldom, I apprehend” reflected Allen in his diary, “has a clergyman looked on such a scene. Destruction was going on in every form; dead bodies were lying here and there, sepoys (Indian soldiers under British command) were dragging out sheep, goats, oxen and goods…. European and native soldiers were breaking open doors where they supposed anything might be concealed; and every now and then the discharge of a firelock proclaimed the discovery of a concealed victim… (The village) was one mass of blazing ruin before we left it, and continued flaming all night.” [1]

FOOTNOTES

  1. The Reverend Isaac Nicholson Allen, (1843) “Diary of a March through Sinde and Afghanistan,” J Hatchard and Son, London p241-242.  See also Margaret Kekewich, (2011), “Retreat and Retribution in Afghanistan, 1842: Two Journals of the First Afghan War,” Pen and Sword Military, Barnsley, p127.

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