The Afghan Artillery


The British seriously underestimated the fire power of the enemy artillery. The Afghans had 30 guns (as against the 12 under Major Blackwood). Most of them were 6 pounders but they also had three modern 14 pounder BL Armstrongs. The crippling effect on Burrowsâ troops of more than three hours of their bombardment in the open is reflected in the reports which have been quoted. Almost all the British/Indian casualties up until the withdrawal were caused by gunfire. The Afghans' guns were well handled and they used the ground to move them forward and close the range. When their final assault came in they had got ten of their guns forward firing from the ravine, some less than 500 yards from the British line. Reducing the range was a distinct advantage in the heat haze which made estimation of distance very difficult; it is an indication of this problem that not one of the 42 guns on the battlefield was damaged by gunfire.


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by Stephen Luscombe