The Military Operations at Cabul, which ended in the retreat and destruction of the British army, January 1842. With a Journal of Imprisonment in Affghanistan - Lieut. Vincent Eyre 1843 - John Murray, London - Fifth Edition A substantial part of Eyre’s narratives where written whilst actually imprisoned by the Afghans. Eyre, seriously wounded, and his family were captured by Akbar Khan and held for nine months until rescued by General Pollock’s forces. Some of the manuscript was smuggled out of his cell while he remained a captive and on its arrival in England it was published. At the time, Eyre’s account and that recounting similar experiences by Lady Florentia Sale were considered companion pieces that would enable the British public to understand the Afghan debacle, the disaster that had there befallen the army under Elphinstone and the resulting annihilation of the army in the Afghan passes as it struggled to retreat into India. Eyre provides a detailed and moving description of the misfortunes of the British forces and the indiscriminate slaughter of their retreating column by their enemies, as well as a unique account of the harrowing conditions and distressing treatment that were inflicted on the British hostages by their Afghan captors.

Illustrated with folding lithographed ‘ Plan of the Cantonment and Surrounding Country’ of Cabul. The edition, published the same year as the first, includes corrections and additions by Edward Eyre not found in earlier issues, including an Appendix with copies of various previously unpublished dispatches.

From the library of Colonel Reynolds (1863-1931), the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, a regiment that over time has been amalgamated into the Royal Irish Regiment, and who, despite the disastrous military campaign of 1841-2, were deployed to Afghanistan 150 years later, serving with distinction.
  This work was later republished as The Kabul Insurrection below is a review by The Spectator - 31st May 1879
‘This is a very seasonable reprint (with additions and reflections suggested by subsequent events) of a narrative which made a profound sensation at the time, costing the Great Duke, as the author tells us, a sleepless night. Lieutenant Eyre, as he then was, being one of the married officers, was given up as a hostage to the Afghans, and thus escaped the fate which overtook the whole, one solitary fugitive excepted, of the army which retreated from Cabul. He begins his narrative with the successful defence of Herat, a defence to which Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger, of the Bombay Artillery, mainly contributed, and carries us through all the dismal scenes of incapacity and treachery of which the history of our occupation of Cabul is made up. Never, surely, were greater or more fatal mistakes committed than those by which General Elphinstone and Sir William Macnaughten, between them, inflicted upon England this terrible disaster. It is not likely that these mistakes will be repeated. We shall not attempt to occupy Afghanistan again. For all that, this book is worth reading, not only for its intrinsic interest, but for its political value ; and the sad record of misfortune and failure is not unfrequently relieved by stories of successful daring.’

Vincent Eyre (1811-81) had a distinguished military career in Afghanistan and India. Blockaded in Cabul in 1840 and seriously wounded in a sortie, Eyre and his family were among the hostages kept by Akber Khan in return for permission to evacuate the British force. He also distinguished himself in the Indian mutiny of 1857, leading a force that relieved government employees at Arrah and defeating the Koor Singh. For this feat he was later awarded the Star of India, second-class. He remained in the army until his retirement in 1863, by which time he had achieved the rank of Major-General. He remained active until his death and with his wife helped to organise an ambulance service in France during the Franco-Prussian War.

Provenance: Colonel Thomas Godwin Campbell Reynolds (1863-1931) of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Commissioned 15th April 1882), with his armourial bookplate.

pp. [2] xxvii [1] [Folding Map] 436 [4 Publisher’s Catalogue]. In publisher’s blind stamped green cloth lettered and lined in gilt to spine, front panel with gilt blocked vignette of three Afghan tribesmen.
  Condition: Very good, rubbing to panels, spine sunned with two short tears to cloth, some foxing to first and last few pages, short tear to tab of folding map.   Ref: 107909   Price: HK$ 1,800