Battle Report: 2nd May 1991
Late British Indian ~vs~ Late Afghan
Norgren ~vs~ Robert Avery)
The two generals positioned their men under cover of darkness. As day broke, it was seen that the British had concentrated their artillery in one spot, and split the rest of their force evenly into two groups: one on either flank.
The Afghans, on the other hand, had anchored their left flank on their fortifications, and formed a force of Pathan fanatics on their right in an attempt to roll up the British left, which consisted of the Highlanders and Ghurkas..
As the battle started, the Afghans pushed forward on their right, and their artillery began to exchange fire with one British battery. The other British battery opened up on the Afghan skirmishers, eventually demoralising them enough to send them off the field.
Afghan fanatics slammed into the British and, incredibly, managed to break
both the Highlanders and the Ghurkas. These troops, however, despite having
many of their companies routed, maintained some order: and began to
retreat across the board towards the rest of the British force.
The fanatics followed up, charging now in disorder. Unfortunately, the rest of the Afghan force moved too slowly, and failed to support the fanatics properly. As the fanatical charge petered out, the men exhausted, they were hit and recoiled by Sikh cavalry: giving the British time to consolidate their position around a hill.
Now the Afghan main body advanced and prepared to charge. As they gathered themselves, however, the British artillery, which up to now had been knocking huge holes in the Afghan works and destroying two of the three Afghan gun sections, opened fire at nigh on point blank range.
The Afghan centre wavered, and then fell apart: morale destroyed by the cumulative losses of units throughout the battle and the sheer firepower of the British.
Afghan losses, not including the many that would have been massacred by Lancers who charged the broken centre at the end of the battle, were 947 Pathans and 187 Waziri.
British losses were: 64 Highlanders; 51 Ghurkas; 98 artillerymen; 1 gun and the gatling gun; and 165 Sikh cavalry. This may seem quite light: but most of the British units that were broken fled the field before they could be massacred by Afghans who, as they lost the battle, would not have been able to follow up. The British CinC was also wounded.
A hard-won victory for the British.
The Afghan commander failed to properly follow up his successes on the right flank. The British commander kept his head in the face of massive disadvantage.
Lessons learnt in previous battles were applied here with some success.