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Retreat from Kabul 1842

April 22, 1842
Mohammed Abdulkarim
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857




The 1842 retreat from Kabul was a disastrous military event that took place during the First Anglo-Afghan War. In the year 1839, the British East India Company, in an attempt to counter Russian influence in Central Asia, invaded Afghanistan and placed their favored ruler, Shah Shuja ul-Mulk, on the throne. However, the British soon found themselves in a difficult situation, as the Afghans resented foreign interference in their affairs and launched a guerilla war against the occupying forces. Despite initial successes, the British forces were stretched thin and lacked adequate supplies and reinforcements. In January 1842, a decision was made to evacuate the British forces from Kabul to Jalalabad, a distance of about 90 miles. The retreat was led by General William Elphinstone, who was in poor health and lacked military acumen. The British forces were accompanied by civilians, including women and children, and were subjected to constant attacks from Afghan guerilla fighters. The retreat quickly turned into a massacre, as the British forces were ambushed and overwhelmed by Afghan fighters. The harsh winter weather, lack of food and supplies, and disease also took a heavy toll on the retreating forces. The majority of the British forces and civilians were killed, including General Elphinstone, who surrendered to the Afghan forces. The 1842 retreat from Kabul was a significant military disaster for the British, and it highlighted the dangers of overstretching military forces in distant and hostile territories. The event also demonstrated the resilience and determination of the Afghan people to resist foreign invasion and occupation.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.


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