STOCKHOLMIA 2019 Private Treaty Sale

Lot 78

Great Britain, 1842, First Afghan War Correspondence from Maj. William Brydon and Captain William Riddell. First-hand accounts from Britain's first, disastrous move in the Great Game.

Included here are three pieces from Brydon, plus an additional letter from Riddell.

Brydon's material begins with an autograph letter signed, dated Jellabad June 14, 1842. Addressed to a Mrs. Coni at Simla, he regretfully informs her that he has heard nothing about her husband, and fears he was killed in the retreat from Kabul. The letter is accompanied by its original outer lettersheet, charged 1 anna at Loodhana, with partial boxed handstamp on reverse with framed "L.P.O." Also included is a contemporary copy of Dr. Brydon's letter written January 20, 1842, to his brother Tom, headed "The Disaster in Afghanistan/Dr. Brydon's Narrative of his Escape/(From the Times)", on five pages with mourning borders. The final bit of Brydon is a photo of the man himself in uniform in later years.

Riddell's letter, headed "Major General Pollock's Camp at Jellabad 7th August 1842" and addressed to his wife at Malwah, Indore. In it, he expresses hope for the release of prisoners taken during the January retreat, but observes that "Muhumed Uckbar is still playing us false and only temporising until the season is too far advanced for us to attempt an advance on Cabool." Four-page letter in all (with cross-writing), the face with choice strike of "FEROZEPORE/Bearing 10 as" boxed handstamp, with manuscript "Bearing" and "Via Loodianah".

Remarkable eye-witness accounts, with all material expertly written up and or transcribed. Perfect for the historian or the exhibitor.

* * *

Brydon was an Assistant Surgeon in the British East India Company Army, and believed at the time to be the sole survivor of Major-General Elphinstone's January 1842 retreat from Kabul. Following the British decision to abandon their cantonment outside the Afghan capital, Elphinstone's forces—4,500 military personnel and over 12,000 camp followers (including women and children)—set out for the British garrison at Jalalabad, under promise of safe passage. This promise was immediately broken, with decimating ambushes, desertions and freezing temperatures. Riddell was a Surgeon in Major General Pollock's "Army of Retribution", sent to avenge the massacres between April and September.


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