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The 1842 Kabul Retreat (or Massacre of Elphinstone's Army) took place during the First Anglo-Afghan War. Following an uprising in Kabul, Major General Sir William Elphinstone negotiated an agreement with Wazir Akbar Khan, one of the sons of the Afghan Emir Dost Mohammad Barakzai, by which his army was to withdraw to the British garrison at Jalalabad, more than {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} away. As the army and its numerous dependents and camp-followers began its march, it came under attack from Afghan tribesmen. Many of the column died of exposure, frostbite or starvation or were killed during the fighting.<ref name="Colley 2010 349–350">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref>

The Afghans launched numerous attacks against the column as it made slow progress through the winter snows of the Hindu Kush. In total the British army lost 4,500 troops, along with about 12,000 civilians: the latter comprising both the families of Indian and British soldiers, plus workmen, servants and other Indian camp-followers. The final stand was made just outside a village called Gandamak on 13 January.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

Out of more than 16,000 people from the column commanded by Elphinstone, only one European (Assistant Surgeon William Brydon) and a few Indian sepoys reached Jalalabad. A few dozen British prisoners and civilian hostages were later released.<ref name="Dalrymple 2013, p.387">Dalrymple (2013), p.387</ref> Many of the British and Indians died of exposure, frostbite or starvation or were killed during the fighting.<ref name="Colley 2010 349–350"/> Around 2,000 of the Indians, many of whom were maimed by frostbite, survived and returned to Kabul to exist by begging or to be sold into slavery.<ref name="Dalrymple 2013, pp.387-388">Dalrymple (2013), pp.387-388</ref> Some at least returned to India after another British invasion of Kabul several months later, but others remained behind in Afghanistan.<ref>Dalrymple (2013), pp.462-463</ref>

In 2013, a writer for The Economist called the retreat "the worst British military disaster until the fall of Singapore exactly a century later."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>


1842 retreat from Kabul sections
Intro  Background  Occupation  Afghan uprising  Retreat and massacre  Aftermath  References in popular culture   See also   Notes  External links  

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