Kandahar, Battle of

Kandahar, Battle of
   The decisive engagement of the Second Afghan War. After the defeat of British forces at Maiwand, an Afghan army under Ayub Khan laid siege to the British garrison at Kandahar. A relief force under the command of General Frederick Roberts covered the 313 miles between Kabul and Kandahar in 22 days in one of the most storied marches of British imperial history. Roberts had a force of Gordon and Seaforth Highlanders, Rifles, and Lancers, supplemented by Gurkhas, Sikhs, and Indian cavalry, for a total of just under 10,000 men. He defeated Ayub Khan’s army of 11,000 men, inflicting Afghan casualties of 1,200 against 40 British killed and 228 wounded. As the siege and relief of Kandahar had been followed closely in Britain, Roberts was instantly a national hero. Already a recipient of the Victoria Cross, he was showered with further honors. A special Kabul-to-Kandahar medal, subsequently nicknamed the “Roberts Star,” was struck and awarded to all who had taken part in the march.
   See also <>; <>.
    Heathcote, T. A. The Afghan Wars, 1839–1919. Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2003;
    Tanner, Stephen. Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander to the Fall of the Taliban. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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