Campaign of the Indus: In a Series of Letters from an Officer of the Bombay Division


Campaign of the Indus: In a Series of Letters from an Officer of the Bombay Division is a privately published collection of letters, written by Lieutenant T.W. Holdsworth between November 27, 1838, and April 21, 1840. Holdsworth’s division was part of the Anglo-Indian force that invaded Afghanistan during the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1839–42. Most of the letters are addressed to Holdsworth’s father, A.H. Holdsworth, who wrote the introduction and edited and published the book. The introduction sketches some of the history of Afghanistan, from the campaigns of Alexander the Great to the recent involvement of the British in the country, and their attempt, temporarily successful, to install the pro-British Shāh Shujāʻ as ruler. The letters recount the journey by sea of Lieutenant Holdsworth and his unit to the mouth of the Indus River, the march to Afghanistan, and encampments at Kandahar and other locations. Holdsworth was severely wounded in the capture of the fort and citadel of Kelat on November 13, 1839, which he recounts in his letter to his father of December 8. The letters contain descriptions of the Afghan countryside; reports and speculations on Dōst Moḥammad, the leader of the resistance to the invaders; and details about the workings of the Anglo-Indian army that included British officers, Indian troops, and Indian sirdars (noblemen) engaged on the British side. The appendix reproduces official dispatches relating to the campaign, the numbers of men killed and wounded from the different units, and the names of British officers and Baluchi sirdars killed and wounded.

Last updated: September 30, 2016