Truly on this thirteenth day of April the outlook was not a bright one ; but here came in one of those flashes of genius which go to win campaigns and undoubtedly helped to win this one. It occurred to those responsible for the conduct of the campaign that though it was impossible to convey a large force to Chitral in the given time, yet it was quite feasible to push through a small number of men who, falling on the rear of Sher Afzul, the general left by Umra Khan in charge of the siege, might form a welcome diversion. At first it was contemplated sending a mixed force of regulars and levies, but after careful deliberation it was decided that regulars would impede the rate of march, and that the effect being chiefly a moral one could be almost as surely gained by levies alone. The plan therefore was for the main force to cross the Panjkora, and to fight a decisive battle with Umra Khan, whilst our ally the Khan of Dir, covered by this movement, was despatched up the left bank of the Panjkora River with orders to cross the Lowarai Pass, 10,450 feet high, to descend into the Chitral Valley, and to give out far and wide that he was merely the advanced guard of the force, which had conquered Swat and Bajour, and had heavily defeated the hitherto invincible general Umra Khan.

In pursuance of this plan the Khan of Dir was ordered to move forward with 1,000 men and to cross the Lowarai Pass and immediately the bridge over the Panjkora River was completed. General Blood moved rapidly forward in charge of a cavalry reconnaissance towards Umra Khan s stronghold at Munda, Advancing with a squadron of the Guides Cavalry, General Blood moved up the Jandul River till the large and important village of Miankila was in sight. Here a peasant was met who entered freely into conversation. The General asked him where Umra Khan was. He said '' Over there in that fort," pointing to Munda, just over the brow of a rise in the ground. "Will you take him a note and bring an answer."asked the General. “ Certainly," said the peasant, “ I will be back in half an hour." So calling into his assistance the linguistic proficiency of Captain Nixon, of the Intelligence Department, a polite and cordial note was written to Umra Khan, asking him to come out into the open and have a talk with the General, in all good fellow- ship, and “ without prejudice." The answer came back before long, and was to the following effect : “ After greetings, I should greatly like to meet your excellency, and to have a quiet talk with you, whereby the whole affair might be easily settled. But unfortunately I am surrounded by about 3,cxx) Ghazis, and the scoundrels won't hear of my going out to see. You too I notice are accompanied by those cutthroats of yours. Assuredly no quiet conversation can take place under these circumstances. Now I would propose that you send away your cutthroats and I will send away mine, and then you and I can have our conference alone in the field.' This was all very nice and friendly ; but meanwhile dense columns of the enemy began to issue from Meankila and Munda, and moving with astonishing rapidity, occupied both banks of the river, which is here easily fordable everywhere, and began to press on the cavalry. The reconnoitring party moved back quietly, till the head of the infantry column became visible, hastening up. This was the 3rd Infantry Brigade under General Gatacre, accompanied by the nth Bengal Lancers and the Derajat Mountain Battery.

The battery opened fire at once, and the cavalry moved up the river bed, here very broad and open, whilst the infantry advanced to the attack up the right bank of the stream. But from the first moment, though Umra Khan was present in person, it was quite evident that the enemy did not mean '' business." The severe lessons of former battles had begun to tell upon them, and their resistance was only half-hearted. The 3rd Brigade pushed home their advantage, and the enemy retired before them, losing only a few men, till towards evening their whole force was to be seen in full retreat up the distant valley into Nawagai. The troops bivouacked in the forward position they had gained, and the 2nd Brigade was ordered up in the expectation that the enemy would make a determined stand on the morrow. But the morrow showed nothing but deserted positions and deserted forts, and thus easily had been fought and won the final engagement which decided the campaign, and sent Umra Khan, the victor in a hundred fights, ruined and broken into everlasting exile.

When we say ruined, however, let us understand the word in a moral sense. Pecuniarily Umra Khan is anything but ruined, for one of our spies counted eleven mule loads of treasure leaving Munda fort one night under a strong escort. Each mule would carry Rs.6,cxx) in silver, or Rs. 120,000 in gold, or any sum one likes to mention in jewels. Taking a rough average between silver and gold, and leaving jewels out of consideration, we shall be able to calculate that eleven mule loads of treasure would keep Umra Khan and his family very comfortably for the rest of their days.

Some weeks after, when escorting Sher Afzul to India, I heard many stories of Umra Khan. Like a wise man, knowing the uncertain tenor of an Eastern monarch's reign, he had taken care to feather his nest whilst his power lasted. He exacted a tithe of their profits from all, merchants or agriculturists, and the money thus accumulated he changed into gold at a rate of exchange fixed by himself. Thus if the real value of a Russian gold coin was Rs. 20, by royal edict, and for the benefit of the royal purchaser, it became Rs.i8. Gold is very scarce in Asia, but a certain number of Russian coins filter across, and gold ornaments are to be found here and there. All these Umra Khan assiduously collected, so that at the time of his flight he probably had a goodly treasure.

One evening before the British advance began, after attending evening prayers on the praying plat- form in the clump of chenars below Munda fort, Umra Khan, turning to his followers, said : “ I have just received a letter from Gholam Hyder, the Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan army. His proposal is that I shall invade the Peshawur Valley by way of the Malakand with 30,000) men, and that he will co-operate through the Khyber Pass with 10,000 men. What say you, my brave warriors ? " Whereupon the whole assembly arose with a mighty shout, " To Peshawur ! travestying a somewhat more celebrated cry which was heard in Europe in 1870. Whether such a letter had been received or not, and whether, if it had been, it was anything more than one of those neighbourly acts by which, in the East, one friend lures another to certain destruction, it is not necessary here to discuss. The anecdote is merely told as showing the immense confidence Umra Khan had in his own powers, and the faith his followers had in his skill. Years of conquest, and years of unchequered success, had led the petty border chieftain into half thinking that he could with- stand the power of a mighty empire. It was a thousand pities that this chief took up the attitude he did. If he had chosen to be the friend of the British he might now be despotic ruler of all the country which lies between Chitral and the Peshawur Valley, with the firm alliance of the British Government at his back.

When the cavalry, riding on rapidly, captured the abandoned fort of Munda, every trace of a rapid flight was apparent. Books and grain were strewn about, dismounted cannon lay at the gate, everything was topsy-turvey and turned inside out, and the sole occupant was a poor, deformed idiot. Amongst the papers found lying about were some of considerable interest. One was from a certain mullah who, before the battle, wrote from the summit of the Malakand Pass. He said : ** We see the infidels, the sons of pigs, encamped down in the plains below us. There are very few of them, and we shall easily send them all to Hell. On our side we have twelve or fifteen thousand Ghazis, and the place is well fortified with sangars. To-morrow or next day I shall have the honour of informing your Excellency that the infidels have been extirpated " ; and so on. It is highly probable that the worthy mullah spent the next few days in breaking the record towards Upper Swat, or else, perchance, his bones now lie on the Malakand.

Another literary curiosity found in Munda fort was a letter from a Scotch firm in Bombay offering to provide Umra Khan with every luxury in the way of arms and ammunition, from Maxim guns at Rs.3,700 each, down to revolvers at Rs.34 a piece. Luckily the benevolent intentions of this patriotic firm had been frustrated by the astute intervention of Major Deane, at that time Deputy Commissioner of Peshawur. The firm in question has found it expedient to transfer itself, and the benefits to humanity which it provides, to Cairo. Many other letters too lay about showing how wide was the influence of the departed chief ; offers of help, spontaneous and otherwise, showed that the total resources at his command were not much under 30,000 men, all armed in some fashion or another, with a good sprinkling of breech-loading rifles, late the property of Her Majesty the Queen of England.

It was on the 17th day of April that Umra Khan made his last stand and disappeared permanently from the theatre of operations. On the very same day the garrison of Chitral made the splendid sortie led by Lieutenant Harley of the 14th Sikhs, a full account of which will appear in a future chapter, and on the night of the i8th of April the siege was raised, and Sher Afzul and his whole force fled to the hills. Here the general with 1,500 of his men, were cleverly captured and brought in prisoners to Dir. The history of our recent wars does not furnish an example of a more signal and sweeping success. In the space of exactly one month from the day on which the mobilisation of the relief force was ordered, the main object of the campaign was obtained, the whole of the enemy's numerous and ubiquitous forces were defeated and dispersed, and every one of the important chiefs was a prisoner in our hands, or in that of our ally the Amir. Setting aside the superiority in armament and organisation which were undoubtedly on our side — though in passing it may be noted that the Soudan and the Cape furnish instances where both availed not against determined savages — it may be well to examine the chief causes which led to this signal success. The result may be described briefly as due to three main causes : To the rapid and successful mobilisation of the Relief Force ; to the crushing defeat of the enemy in Swat, on the Panjkora, and in the Jandul Valley ; and to the hardy and determined advance of Colonel Kelly's small column from the north. Nor must we forget the stout resistance of the garrison placed perforce in an almost untenable position against overwhelming odds, which thoroughly damped the ardour of the besiegers and paved the way for the effective result obtained by the approach of the relief columns. It was in fact the game of war played on sound principles, and with a fine all-round combination which commanded success. How nice this calculation had to be will be appreciated by the military student, when he considers how far diver- gent were the bases from which the two columns had to start, and what immense physical difficulties had to be overcome by each. It does not require much imagination to show that Umra Khan, acting, as he was, on interior lines as against exterior lines, might, if less skilfully assailed, have first thrown his whole force on Colonel Kelly's weak column, entangled in almost impossible defiles ; next, with troops elated with victory, to have swamped the small garrison of Chitral, already hard pressed and short of food, and then, with a dozen tribes at his back, stirred up to the highest pitch of Mahomedan fanaticism, to have turned and assailed the main column under Sir Robert Low. The final result of the campaign must undoubtedly have gone against Umra Khan, but he would have had some signal successes to show in return. It happened to be one of the writers duties to escort Sher Afzul to India as a prisoner of war, and from conversation held with him it appeared that such in fact had been in the main the plan of campaign which Umra Khan had contemplated, and he was frustrated only by the superior combination and strategic skill which directed the march of the relieving columns.

All need for any hurry was now over. Colonel Kelly reached Chitral unopposed on April 20th. I was the first to shake hands with the brave defenders. Sir Robert Low s leading brigade, under General Gatacre, set to work to construct a mule road over the Lowarai Pass, still deep in snow, and a few troops were marched up the Chitral Valley- just to show themselves without straining unnecessarily the difficult task of feeding large bodies of troops so far from their base : and the campaign ended with one of those gracious messages with which Her Majesty the Queen never fails to acknowledge the gallantry of her Army ; whilst in the hearty and soldierly message of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief every man of the Force felt that his services had been appreciated by one who knew well the difficulties that had been overcome and the stern hardships that had been cheerfully borne.

The British soldier, and his friend and comrade of the Indian army, are accustomed to serve in every degree of climate, and in every nature of country, for an empire of the vast dimensions of the British Empire must needs embrace every variety of climate and country. In the brief and brilliant campaign just concluded perhaps these various conditions were as numerously represented as is possible. There were fierce heat and piercing cold, deluges of rain and blinding storms of snow and hail ; the highest mountain system in the world to be climbed, rivers, deep and wide and astonishing in their treacherous strength, to be crossed. With his greatcoat and a blanket for his baggage, the sturdy British soldier and his strapping Indian war comrade, faced these many hardships with the cheerful alacrity of men ready and accustomed to overcome unusual difficulties, and to face tremendous odds by land and sea. It is seldom, too, that a British campaign does not produce its men of mark and those who have done heroic deeds, nor is this one an exception to the rule, for the names of Sir Robert Low, General Bindon Blood, and General Waterfield stand high in the historic roll of successful generals, whilst Colonel Kelly s brilliant feat of arms has made him famous for ever. But perhaps the deed of all others which appeals most to the soldier's heart was the desperate and successful sortie from Chitral made by the brave and gallant Harley and his Sikhs on the 17th day of April, 1895.