The Retreat from Kabul during the First Afghan War: Chaos, Ambushes, and Survival

TLDR The British army faces chaos and attacks from Afghan fighters as they retreat from Kabul during the First Afghan War. Only a small fraction of the original force survives, with reports of cannibalism and brutality among the camp followers left behind.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The episode discusses the retreat from Kabul during the first Afghan war.
04:51 The British are in a vulnerable position in Kabul, with no defensive walls and surrounded by mountains, and the Afghans begin to attack and kill them, starting with Alexander Burns.
09:21 After the Afghans raid the British supplies and capture their cannon, gunpowder, and spare rifles, they use the cannon to shell the British cantonment, leading to chaos and the death of the British military commander, Elphinstone.
14:02 The British are trapped in the winter snow and are forced to negotiate with Akbar Khan, who is planning to ambush and wipe out the entire army.
18:30 The British army, along with sepoys and camp followers, are forced to retreat from Kabul in harsh winter conditions, experiencing frostbite and relentless sniping from Afghan fighters.
22:37 The British army, along with sepoys and camp followers, continue their retreat from Kabul, facing ambushes and sniper attacks from Afghan fighters along the way.
27:04 After facing ambushes and sniper attacks, the British army retreats from Kabul, with only 200 out of around 12,000 men making it over a thorny barrier called the Holly Hedge, and the women and children surrendering to Hakbar Khan for safe passage.
31:43 The hostages witness scenes of carnage and brutality as they pass through piles of dead bodies and encounter Afghans who have stripped and robbed sepoys and camp followers, leaving them to die in the snow.
36:03 The remaining hostages, including Dr. Brighton, are brutally attacked by Afghan horsemen, but Dr. Brighton miraculously survives thanks to a copy of Blackwood's magazine that he had placed in his cap, and eventually makes it to Jalalabad.
40:17 Of the 16,500 people who left Kabul, only one had made it through, but in the week that follows, many Gurkhas and other survivors, including a Greek grocer and a group of seapoys who attended the Kumbh Mela, make it to Jalalabad by different routes.
44:38 The camp followers who survived the retreat from Kabul were left to go feral in the streets, with reports of cannibalism, and when the British army returned, they found hundreds of these survivors begging outside the walls of Kabul.
Categories: History

The Retreat from Kabul during the First Afghan War: Chaos, Ambushes, and Survival

80. 1842: The Retreat from Kabul
by Empire

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