This Day in History: 1878-10-12

Deteriorating relations with Afghanistan led to war being declared – subsequently named the 2nd Afghan War.  The 2nd Goorkhas, part of 2nd Infantry Brigade of the Peshawar Valley Field Force, moved into the Bazar Valley near the Khyber Pass ‘to punish the inhabitants who had misbehaved’. Surprise was not achieved and after blowing up some towers the force returned, having been fired upon by local tribesmen.  Rifleman Sarjan Pun was killed.  A second expedition into the Valley was similarly inconclusive and resulted in 2 men being wounded.  Amir Shere Ali, the main Afghan antagonist, died in March 1879, making it possible to bring the first phase of the campaign to a negotiated close in May 1879, but not before cholera had broken out among the troops, making it necessary to disperse the Field Force ‘until the disease passed off’.  However, the War continued into 1880.  Click here to read details of the campaign.