In 1842, Maj. Gen. William Elphinstone led his army to avoidable catastrophe in Afghanistan

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Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it

— George Santayana


Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it

— Churchill



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On January 6, 1842, a British Army under the command of Major General William Elphinstone began its disastrous retreat from Kabul.  Elphinstone threw away every advantage and lost his entire army.



On 13 January, a British officer from the 16,000 strong column rode into Jalalabad on a wounded horse (a few sepoys, who had hidden in the mountains, followed in the coming weeks). The sole survivor of the 12-man cavalry group, assistant Surgeon William Brydon, was asked upon arrival what happened to the army, to which he answered “I am the army.” Although part of his skull had been sheared off by a sword, he ultimately survived because he had insulated his hat with a magazine which deflected the blow. Brydon later published a memoir of the death march. The pony he rode was said to have lain down in a stable and never got up.

The Last Stand

Doctor Brydon arrives alone in Jalalabad

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* This article was originally published here

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