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Battle of Gandamak

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April 29, 1842
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Mohammed Abdulkarim
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Science
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Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857

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The Battle of Gandamak was a devastating defeat for the British forces during the First Anglo-Afghan War. After the fall of Kabul, General Elphinstone's army was retreating towards Jalalabad, through the treacherous winter terrain of the Afghan mountains. The retreating force was constantly harassed by Afghan tribesmen, who would launch surprise attacks and then retreat into the hills. On January 13, 1842, the biggest single surviving group of British soldiers, consisting of 20 officers and 45 European soldiers, found themselves surrounded on a snowy hillock near the village of Gandamak. The soldiers were mostly infantry from the 44th Regiment of Foot, and they had been marching for days in the freezing weather, with little food or water. Many were suffering from frostbite and dysentery. Despite their desperate situation, the soldiers refused to surrender. With only 20 working muskets and two shots per weapon, they knew that their chances of survival were slim. A British sergeant is said to have cried "not bloody likely!" when the Afghans tried to persuade the soldiers they would spare their lives. The Afghan tribesmen soon began sniping at the soldiers from all sides, followed by a series of rushes. The British soldiers fought back as best they could, but they were vastly outnumbered and outgunned. One by one, the soldiers fell, until only a handful were left. The last stand of the British soldiers at Gandamak has become legendary in military history. The soldiers fought bravely and stubbornly, determined to hold their ground to the last. They knew that they were fighting a losing battle, but they refused to give up. In the end, the remaining troops were killed. The 44th Regiment of Foot, which had been one of the oldest and most respected regiments in the British Army, was effectively wiped out. Only a few soldiers, who had been stationed at Jalalabad, survived the retreat from Kabul. The Battle of Gandamak was a crushing blow to British prestige and morale. The loss of so many soldiers was a bitter blow to the British Army, and it would take years for the wounds to heal. The defeat at Gandamak was a stark reminder of the dangers of foreign military intervention in Afghanistan, a lesson that would be ignored by later generations of British leaders.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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