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How the Afghans Fight.

A correspondent of the Pioneer contributes to that paper “ Some reminiscences of the war in Afghanistan.” Referring to the fighting qualities of the Afghan soildery, he says : —“ An Afghan never thinks of asking for quarter, but fights with the ferocity of a tiger, and clings to life until his eyes glaze and his hands refuse to pull a pistol trigger, or use a knife in a dying effort to maim or kill his enemy. The stern realities of war were more pronounced on the battle fields in Afghanistan than perhaps they have ever been in India, if we except the retributive days of the Mutiny. To spare a wounded man for a minute was probably to cause the death of the next soldier who unsuspiciously walked past him One thing our men

certainly learned while in Afghanistan, and that was to keep their wits about them when pursuing an enemy or passing ovei a hard-won field. There might be danger lurking in each seemingly inanimate form studding the ground, and unless care and caution were exercised, the wounded Afghan would steep his soul in bliss by killing a Kaffir just when life was at its last ebb. The stubborn love of fighting “in extremis ” is promoted doubtless by fanaticism, and we saw so much of it that our men at close quarters always drove their bayonets well home, so that there should be no mistake as to the deadliness of the wound. The physical courage which distinguished the untrained mobs who fought so resolutely against us, was worthy of all admiration ; the tenacity with which men badly armed and lacking skilled leaders clung to their positions was remarkable, to say nothing of the sullen doggedness they often showed when retiring. But when the tide of the fight set in against them, and they saw further resistance would involve them more deeply, there was so sudden a change always apparent that one could scarcely believe the fugitives hurrying over the hill were the same men who had resisted so desperately but a few minutes before. They acted wisely ; they knew their powers in scaling, or making their escape by fleetness of foot; and the host generally dissolved with a rapidity which no one but an eye-witness can appreciate. If cavalry overtook them, they turned like wolves and fought with desperation, selling their lives as dearly as men ever sold them ; but there was no rally in the true sense of the word, and but

faint attempts at aiding each other. Their regular troops were but little amenable to discipline, by reason of deficient training, and they resorted to the tactics they had pursued as tribesmen when once they were forced to retire.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18810319.2.11

Bibliographic details

How the Afghans Fight., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 297, 19 March 1881

Word Count
455

How the Afghans Fight. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 297, 19 March 1881

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