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THE AFGHAN AFFAIR., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 138, 12 August 1880
THE AFGHAN AFFAIR.
FULLER ACCOUNT OF THE — — BEITISH_JDEEEA.TThe following cablegrams are from the Melbourne Age, per the Rotorua, and give a fuller account of the Afghan disaster than Reuter supplied to New Zealand : London, July 28. The startling intelligence has been received .from India that a terrible disaster has befallen a British column in Candahar. Several days ago a brigade under the commond of Brigadier-General G. K. S, Burrows, a well-known officer of the Bombay Native Army, was sent forward to intercept the advance of Ayoub Elian, Governor of Herat, Ayoub Khan had left Herat some weeks since at the head of several thousand men for the purpose of attacking the newly formed Province of Candahar, and was advancing by the regular route, via Girishk. General Burrows took up a position at Girishk, a fortified post commanding the ordinary passage and summer ford of the Helznund river, distant about seventy miles from Candahar. Ayoub’s forces arrived in the vicinity of Girishk last week. His army greatly outnumbered the troops under the command of General Burrows, who made preparations to act on the defensive until the arrival of reinforcements from Candahar. On the night of the 25th a sudden attack was made by Ayoub upon General Burrows’ position. The forces of the enemy were overwhelming. A desperate defence was made by the British and native troops, but a disastrous defeat was inflicted upon the Brigade, which was practically annihilated. Nearly the whole of the British troops were slaughtered, including most of the officers. The stragglers fled from the field, and arriving in small numbers, brought intelligence of the catastrophe to Candahar. They reported that a determined resistance was made, and that a small body of the troops were retiring in good order, taking with them four guns.
Immediately upon tlie receipt of the news, Major-General J. M. Primrose, C. 5.1., who exercises the supreme command in Candahar, took measures to protect the retreat of the fugitives, and to secure the four guns, which it is believed will be saved. After his victory, Ayoub Khan resumed his march upon Candahar, which he threatened to attack. General Primrose fearing his ability with the force at his command to meet the enemy in the field, retired to the citadel, which he placed in a strong date of defence, and where he now awaits relief. Urgent messages were despatched to Major-General R. Phayre, C. 8., who was in command of the -whole line of communication between the frontier and Candahar, having his head-quarters at Quettah. General Phayre at once started for the relief of General Primrose with all the troops available, and additional reinforcements are being hurried forward from Bombay. The Commander-in-Chief has given directions for the strengthening of the Bombay army, by further reinforcements from the Rengal army, with the view of placing an overwhelming body of troops in the country in order to promptly suppress any disturbance. The intelligence has ci’eated intense excitement both in India and Ragland, as it is feared that this disaster may . encourage a general rising among the Afghans. Later. Further intelligence has been received concerning the late disaster which has befallen the British troops in Candahar Province. General Burrows was accompanied by the Wali, or Native Governor, Shere Ali Khan, in his advance to intercept Ayoub Khan. The attack upon the British was a surprise, and in the darkness the utmost confusion arose. The troops behaved bravely, but the numbers of the enemy were so overwhelming that some of the native troops gave way, and caused a 'panic. The fugitives fled towards Candahar, but the British, under the immediate command of General
Burrows, retreated steadily and in good order, taking with them some of their guns. On the receipt of the news in Candahar, General Primrose despatched some troops to their assistance, retiring with the main body of his forces to the citadel, which is situated about two miles to the north of the city occupying a very strong position. General Burrows and Shero Ali have since arrived in safety with the remnant of the brigade, and measures have been taken for making a determined stand at Candahar. General Phayro is arranging to advance at the head of a considerable body of troops from Quettah to the assistance of General Primrose, and precautions have been taken to secure the safety of the line of communication with India. The Khan of Khelat, the territory in which Quettah is situated, and who is one of the subsidised allies of the Indian Empire, has tendered to General Phayre all the aid in his power, placing at his disposal the troops at his command. Reinforcements are being rapidly pushed forward from Bombay, the railway which now extends for some distance beyond the frontier being found to be of great service. July 30. General Primrose and the force under his command are strengthening the defences of the Citadel of Candahar. Intelligence has been received from him that Candahar is amply supplied w r ith provisions and munitions of war, and that he is confident of his ability to maintain his ground against the enemy until the arrival of the relief forces. Great stress is laid upon the importance of maintaining intact the line of communication. General Phayre has strengthened the principal forts held by the British, and is now completing his arrangements for the formation of a force sufficiently strong to cope with the enemy. The ie arch will bo commenced at the earliest possible moment, and the General expects to be able to relieve the British forces at Candahar within three weeks. J uly 31. Further particulars received concerning the disasters to General Burrows’ force in Candahar, show that the loss sustained was very heavy. The force under his command despatched to intercept Ayoub Khan numbered about 3,000 men, including one regiment of British infantry, the remainder of the brigade was native infantry, with some squadrons of cavalry and a battery of horse artillery. General Burrows was accompanied by Ali, the native ruler of the Province, with a body of Afghan troops, but upon the approach of Ayoub a number of these deserved. In resisting the attack the slaughter was very great, but in the retreat upon Candahar the Afghan cavalry caused fearful havoc amongst the fugitives, who were cut down in hundreds. Of the total force under General Burrows’ command it has been ascertained that 2,000 were killed, the greater proportion of the loss being sustained in the retreat.
THE AFGHAN AFFAIR., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 138, 12 August 1880
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