Scenes and Adventures in Affghanistan


Scenes and Adventures in Affghanistan is a personal account, by a soldier in the army of the British East India Company, of his experiences during the First Anglo-Afghan War (1838−42). The author, Sergeant-Major William Taylor, tells of the march of his regiment from the vicinity of Bombay (present-day Mumbai) in India to the borders of Afghanistan. In the preface he states: “Mine is a simple, straightforward narrative of a soldier, more accustomed to wielding the sword than the pen…” The action takes place in 1838 and 1839. In Taylor’s telling, British forces were sent to Afghanistan to protect the possessions of the East India Company “from the intrigues and aggressions of Persia,” an explanation that misses the main point of the invasion. Although Persian expansion played a role in British strategic thinking, it was in fact the perceived ambitions of the Russian Empire that inspired the British occupation of Kabul and the removal of the Afghan leader Dōst Moḥammad Khān and his replacement by the more tractable emir, Shah Shujāʻ (circa 1780−1842). Taylor’s regiment spent little if any time in Afghanistan. His tale recounts the march north from Bombay and through Sind Province to the borders of what is now Pakistani Baluchistan. Taylor describes army camp life and frequent more-or-less peaceful encounters with the local population. He intersperses accounts of hunting and fishing with observations about weddings, shopping in the markets, and other scenes and activities. First published in 1842, the book enjoyed popularity as a travel account and was frequently reprinted. Presented here is the 1847 edition by the London publishers T.C. Newby and Parry, Blenkarn, & Company.

Last updated: December 20, 2016