Posted by: Christian | March 13, 2007

Totally out of context quote #5

March 13, 2007.

“I often hear the Afghans designated as cowards…..and I can only suppose it arises from the British idea among civilised people that assassination is a cowardly act. The Afghans never [hesistate] to use their long knives for that purpose, ergo they are cowards; but they show no cowardice in standing as they do against guns without using any themselves, and in escalading and taking forts which we cannot retake.”

Context: Lady Florentia Sale, wife of a British officer and one of the few members of the British expeditionary force to survive, comments on the bravery of the Afghans. Quote taken from her book Journal of the Disasters in Afghanistan 1841-2. (Published in numerous versions by various publishers.)

The book is a great critique of the incompetent and arrogant officers who led the expedition in the First Anglo-Afghan War. Some officers brought as many as 40 servants for a total of 38,000 servants for half as many soldiers, one brigadier had 60 camels to carry his belongings, one general had 260 camels for his necessities, one officer brought two camels to carry his cigar collection, one brigade brought their foxhounds, and Lady Sale cut back her entourage to 45 servants.

The military and political errors that followed inside Afghanistan secured the destruction of the British forces.


  1. […] British disregarded the factors ‘at play’ on the ground that disaster was incurred. The incompetent and arrogant officers of the first Anglo-Afghan war described by Lady Sale are just one […]


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