Initial Deployment

Burrows had been ordered to prevent Ayub by-passing Kandahar and moving on to Ghazni and then Kabul. Arriving near Maiwand too late to make any defensive preparations, he found that the enemy's main body was already marching from the west across the valley ahead of him, apparently about to move on up the Khakrez valley east towards Ghazni. Thus, despite the overwhelming numbers opposing him, he had to attack immediately to deflect them away from this course. So it was that the guns of E/B in order to be in range of Ayub's line of march were initially deployed in advanced positions on the flat open floor of this wide valley, about a mile out from Mundabad. As the rest of the force arrived they formed up around the guns with the baggage echelon remaining back at Mundabad in a good defensive position protected by a ravine on the north (valley) side of the village.

Six weeks after the battle, Burrows, seeking to justify the positions his troops had occupied, claimed that his hand was forced by the length of the initial "unauthorised" advance of Maclaine's guns beyond the ravine: "I was compelled to send the cavalry and artillery in support at once and hasten on the infantry. Thus the whole affair was precipitated and I had lost the opportunity of reconnoitring the enemy and selecting the position in which I would give battle". Maclaine, a rather arrogant Old Etonian, could certainly be awkward and had a reputation as a 'glory hunter', but it reflects no credit on Burrows that he should have attributed his troubles to a dead subaltern.

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by Stephen Luscombe