The following letter was written, during the Retreat from Kabul in 1842, by my ancestor Captain Robert Waller, Bengal Horse Artillery, to his parents after he had been taken hostage. It was printed in the Irish Times. Of 16,700 who left Kabul only one – Dr. Brydon – reached Jalalabad. Captain Waller was later released.
* * * * *
A few days from the commencement of the retreat completed the destruction of the force – it was a dreadful time as we passed along over the dead and dying, the wounded and frostbitten of our comrades and friends. No questions were asked, no assistance to the wounded could be afforded, where they fell there they lay to be butchered in our sight by our enemy who spared none except a very few who happened to fall into the hands of the chief men – among who were myself, wife and child – I was severely wounded in the action previous to the retreat and have a bullet in my right side now which passed through my arm below the shoulder and before that I had been wounded in the head, but not severely.
Akbar Khan has treated us with much more kindness and consideration than we had reason to expect under all circumstances. He supplied our wants to the best of his ability for we saved not an article or sixpence, hving escaped but with the clothes on our backs, and for more than a fortnight we had nothing but these, day or night in the middle of winter, and having been on the bare ground or on the snow. Negotiations for our release have been tried, but without success as yet. I believe, however, that Akbar is willing to make terms if they are not too hard upon him. He has promised to forward this letter for us, and I am going to send it open.”