British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

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British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

Postby Mad Guru » 19 Feb 2016 06:05

I'm preparing to build a miniature version of the fortified camp occupied by British and Indian troops outside the walls of Kabul, for a wargame set in the Winter of 1841-42.

I've found contemporary First Afghan War visual reference with regard to various Afghan cities and British troops, but when it comes to specific images of the Kabul Cantonments themselves -- other than a couple of period maps showing the position of the camp in relation to the city of Kabul and its surroundings (the Seah Sung and Beymaroo Heights, the River and Canal, the various roads to various gates in the city walls) I haven't been able to find any visuals related to the cantonments themselves.

I know the camp was 1000 yds by 600 yds, with earthwork walls, a round bastion at each corner, and one gate facing the Kohistan Road, but that's about it.

The thing I'd like to find most is either an image or written description of the cantonment entrance. Considering how long the Anglo-Indian army occupied the position, I would assume the gateway was somewhat substantial, perhaps even incuding an elevated rampart with swinging doors below... or perhaps it was a more simple affair. A lot of time and effort was invested in building the cantonment, but most of it focused on the barracks for the men and more spacious quarters for the officers.

If anyone reading this can point me to a source for even the slighest additional detail with regard to the First Afghan War Kabul Cantonments, be it written or visual, I will be very grateful indeed -- and thank you in avance for taking the time to read this request!
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Re: British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

Postby Maureene » 21 Feb 2016 02:50

Perhaps this is the map you already have:
Plan of the Cantonment and the Surrounding Country
https://archive.org/stream/militaryoper ... 6/mode/1up
Facing page xx, The Military Operations at Cabul by Lieut. Vincent Eyre, Bengal Artillery. 2nd edition 1843 Archive.org

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Re: British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

Postby Mad Guru » 22 Feb 2016 01:35

Marueen,

I do indeed have that map, but thanks very much nonetheless for going through the trouble to post it here for me!

If anyone else has an image or even just some info re: a written description of the gateway, I'd still love to see it...

Thanks again to everyone reading this for your time.

-Ethan
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Re: British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

Postby Liz » 22 Feb 2016 13:18

Hi Ethan

If you have not already done so, you may wish to check out Lady Florentia Sale's Journal of the Disasters in Affghanistan (sic).

She describes her son-in-law Sturt galloping from gate to bastion and back at one point, there is likely to be more as she recorded casualties, supplies and so on in some detail.

There are several historic editions of the journal available free online, and if you have the patience to check out different editions this can sometimes yield additional info on some points.

All the best,

Liz
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Re: British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

Postby mike snook » 22 Feb 2016 13:23

Ethan

I can only report in the negative I'm afraid, in the sense that even though I have my snout into VMH most of the time, (and have stood on the real-world spot in question), I have never seen an image of the gateway. I will spend half an hour grubbing about my library for a description, but I have no great hopes of coming up with anything.

Good luck with the hunt,

M

PS. I see Liz has posted while I've been typing and Lady Sale was one of the texts in the library I was thinking of. Good advice from Liz. I'll leave that to you and see what else I have.
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Re: British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

Postby mike snook » 22 Feb 2016 13:50

Ethan

There were two gateways, western and eastern (Kohistan Rd), which can be seen on the map.

You may already be aware of Lt Vincent Eyre's account, The Military Operations at Cabul, which devotes two pages to a description of the cantonment; but no description of the gate within those pages. He is interesting on how badly commanded (as in overlooked) the cantonment was from various outlying places. From what he says, describing in essence a, 'low rampart and a narrow ditch in the form of a parallelogram, thrown up along the line of the Kohistan Road, 1000 yards long and 600 yards broad, with round flanking bastions at each corner....', I should be surprised to find that the gateway was in any way a substantial structure. I'm thinking of a couple of gate posts in a gap in the earthworks, facing a filled in stretch of the ditch (but could be wrong!).

Eyre is certainly available in cheap paperback reprints (I have seen two or three I seem to recall) and I should think will be online too. But you may already have read him...?

I'll see if he returns to the subject as an excuse to read some more!

M
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Re: British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

Postby mike snook » 22 Feb 2016 14:28

'....such was the wretched construction of the cantonment...' (Eyre).
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Re: British Kabul Cantonment c.1841 - details...?

Postby Mad Guru » 23 Feb 2016 12:46

Many thanks to Maureene, and many thanks to Mike!

I am familiar with the primary sources and own a copy of Lady Sale, but to be honest, have not read her or Eyre for several years. Mike, your description is basically what I have had in mind, and have now begun to build, on a very modest scale. I'd still like to find a somewhat contemporary image of a British army camp gateway -- say from the late Napoleonic period through to the Mutiny, so I can make a better educated guess re: details of the camp entrance, but even if I can't find such, I will make do.

Thank you again for your time and effort!

-Ethan
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