Personal Records of the Kandahar Campaign, by Officers Engaged Therein


The Kandahar Campaign was the last phase of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878‒80). It began in late June 1880, when Ayub Khan, the governor of Herat, led an Afghan force toward Kandahar, then occupied by an Anglo-Indian army. A column of troops under Brigadier General George Burrows was sent from Kandahar to try to intercept Ayub Khan’s force but was defeated in a fierce battle at Maiwand on July 27. The remnants of the British force struggled back to Kandahar, followed by Ayub Khan, who laid siege to the city. A column of approximately 10,000 soldiers under the command of Lieutenant General Frederick Roberts then was sent from Kabul to relieve the city. After marching some 480 kilometers to reach Kandahar, Roberts decisively defeated Ayub Khan at Baba Wali on September 1, thereby bringing the war to an end. The new Liberal government of Prime Minister William Gladstone, formed in April 1880, already had decided to terminate the war and had ordered the withdrawal to India of all British troops in Afghanistan, which the Kandahar Campaign delayed by some months. Personal Records of the Kandahar Campaign, by Officers Engaged Therein is a compilation of letters by officers serving with the armies of General Burrows and General Roberts, assembled by Waller Ashe, an author and retired British army major. The documents provide extensive and detailed accounts from the British perspective of this final phase of the war. Waller does not give the names of the men who wrote the letters, some of which may have been fictionalized or embellished by the compiler. The book contains an introduction by Ashe that summarizes the history of Afghanistan and of the two Anglo-Afghan wars of the 19th century. Ashe was an enthusiast for the British Empire and British military glory. He was also co-editor of The Story of the Zulu Campaign, published in 1880 and likewise compiled from the letters of officers who served in the campaign.

Last updated: August 25, 2016