Kandahar in 1879;
being the Diary of. Reprinted, with Corrections and Additions, from the Royal Engineers' Journal.London, W. H. Allen & Co., 1880 Stock Code: 140749
NotesFirst and sole edition of this decidedly uncommon and important eye-witness account of the Second Afghan War (1878-80). This copy with a distinguished provenance: from the library of Field Marshal Sir Neville Bowles Chamberlain (1820-1902), with his armorial bookplate. At 17 Chamberlain was commissioned ensign in the Bengal army and his career is elucidated succinctly by the ever-reliable C. E. Buckland: "in the first Afghan War was with Nott's force; at the occupation of Kandahar, at Ghazni, Kabul and Istalif; constantly wounded, was in the Governor-General's bodyguard; in the Gwalior campaign in the second Sikh War, at Chilianwala and Gujarat; complimented by the C-in-C for personal gallantry Commandant of the Panjab Frontier Force; commanded several expeditions against the frontier tribes; in the mutiny of 1857 was in charge of the movable column of the Panjab until he became Adjutant-General of the army at Delhi, and Brig-General; severely wounded there and disabled commanded operations against the Waziris commanded in the Umbayla campaign in 1863, until severely wounded when personally leading an assault of a difficult position commanded the Madras Army, 1876-81 severely criticized the policy of part of the Boer war, 1899-1902; Field Marshal in 1900" (Dictionary of Indian Biography, 1906).
Le Messurier was brigade-major Royal Engineers with the Quetta Column, part of the 13, 000-man Kandahar Field Force under Sir Donald M. Stewart. This was one of three British columns that advanced into Afghanistan in the winter of 1878. Initially Stewart's force faced little opposition and when the British envoy, Sir Louis Cavagnari, was installed in Kabul it began redeploying to India (the other columns having been withdrawn earlier). However, when Cavagnari and his mission were massacred in September 1879 Stewart's force was ordered to remain in Kandahar and the surrounding area and engage in pacification operations, while Roberts, with the Kabul Field Force defeated the Afghans at Charasiab on 6 October 1879 and entered Kabul two days later.
Le Messurier (1837-1916), who before and after the conflict served as a senior railway engineer with the Bombay Public Works Department, also gives interesting information on the antiquities and scenery of Kandahar, historical notes, trades and manufactures, and sport and game. Chapter IX includes some engrossing detail on personal kit, comprising a breakdown of those items "with the Officer in the Field during the Cold Weather" and "At the Base during the Cold Weather" (the latter including "1 rough suit of thick Khakee" and "2 light suits of Khakee"), mess stores, clothing and horse gear, camel loads, "Summer Quarters Brickmaking".
Octavo. Original dark red sand-grain cloth, gilt-lettered spine, blind ornamental panel to sides, cocoa brown-coated endpapers.
3 sketch maps in the text (at p. 60, showing the small action in the Mala Valley, and 216-7, showing the Khojak Road and Khojak and Gwaja passes, 3 other full-page line illustrations of grapes and a porphyry bowl).
Binding skillfully refurbished, extremities of spine and corners consolidated, gilt lettering retouched, very faint contemporary ownership at head of title page. A very good copy, with the publisher's 40-page catalogue at the end (dated August 1880).
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