KPK History / Pakistan

Ambela Campaign (Buner), 1863, Part 7

When we had passed the village of Umbeyla, which was in flames, having been set fire to by our Cavalry, the wing of the 32nd was brought up in prolongation of our line to the right. The advance was continued to within about 800 yards of the Buner Pass, when Turner, observing a large body of the enemy threatening his left flank, immediately sent two companies of the Royal Fusiliers in that direction. Just at that moment a band of Ghazis furiously attacked the left Bank, which was at a disadvantage, having got into broken ground covered with low jungle. In a few seconds five of the Pioneer British officers were on the ground, one killed and four wounded ; numbers of the men ,were knocked over, and the rest, staggered by the suddenness of the onslaught, fell back on their reserve, where they found the needed support, for the Fusiliers stood as firm as a rock. At the critical moment when the Ghazis made their charge, Wright, the Assistant-Adjutant-General, and I, being close by, rushed in amongst the Pioneers and called on them to follow us ; as we were personally known to the men of both regiments, they quickly pulled themselves together and responded to our efforts to rally them.

It was lucky they did so, for had there been any delay or hesitation, the enemy, who thronged the slopes above us, would certainly have come down in great numbers, and we should have had a most difficult task. As it was, we were entirely successful in repulsing the Ghazis, not a man of whom escaped. We counted 200 of the enemy killed; our losses were comparatively slight, 8 killed and 80 wounded.

We bivouacked for the night near the village of Umbeyla, and the next morning the Bunerwals, who, true to their word, had taken no part in the fighting on the 15th or 16th, came in and made their submission.

The question which now had to be decided was, whether a force fully equipped and strong enough to overcome all opposition should be sent to destroy the fanatic settlement of Malka, or whether the work of annihilation should be entrusted to the Bunerwals, witnessed by British officers. The latter course was eventually adopted, chiefly on account of the delay which provisioning a brigade would entail- delay which the Commissioner was anxious to avoid-for although for the present the combination had broken up, and most of the tribesmen were dispersing to their homes, the Akhund of Swat and his followers were still hovering about in the neighbourhood, and inaction on our part would in all probability have led to a fresh gathering and renewed hostilities.

Source of Information/Reference:

Fredrick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Forty One Years In India: From Subalturn to Commander-In-Chief, Volume II, London, Richard Bentley and Sons, 1897,17-19.

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