Papers Relating to Military Operations in Afghanistan


Papers Relating to Military Operations in Afghanistan is a compilation of official documents relating to the conduct of British forces during a part of the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42). It contains the texts of 547 letters, dispatches, reports, memoranda, general orders, and other documents from the period between October 1841 and December 1842. The authors of the documents include Lord Auckland, governor-general of India, Major General George Pollock, commander of the relief column sent to try to rescue the Anglo-British force that was decimated by Afghan tribesmen in the retreat from Kabul in January 1842, Major General William Nott, who defeated an Afghan force at Ghazni in August 1842, and many lower ranking military officers and civilian officials. Among the more arresting documents in the compilation is number 132, a dispatch dated February 19, 1842, in which the governor-general reports to the Secret Committee of the East India Company in London on the disaster of the previous month. The report begins by stating that “we have to deplore the occurrence of heavy calamity to the British arms, and at the same time lament the great obscurity which still hangs over many of the most important circumstances connected with the causes and course of the disasters which have been suffered.” Other documents provide further details about the scale of the defeat, the measures undertaken by Auckland and his subordinates to recoup the situation by sending reinforcements, and their decision ultimately to withdraw all British forces from Afghanistan.

Last updated: August 25, 2016