Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Monday, May 9, 2011

LINK to thesis article about Maiwand

Just came across this paper, written by Michael T. Grissom, a US Army officer, for his Master's thesis at Fort Leavenworth in 2009. The full title is: TEUTOBURG FOREST, LITTLE BIGHORN, AND MAIWAND: WHY SUPERIOR MILITARY FORCES SOMETIMES FAIL.

Speaking for myself, I would take some issue with the premise of the Battle of Maiwand being an example of the failure of "suprerior military forces," considering how the Afghan army not only greatly outnumbered their British foes, but also far outclassed them in both numbers and technological quality of artillery. Another point of the thesis is that these three battles are all examples of primitive native forces overcoming more disciplined, regular army enemies. Although this may apply somewhat to Maiwand, the truth is that in addition to large numbers of tribal foot and horse and a great many Ghazis (religious fanatics), the Afghan army at Maiwand contained large numbers of regular troops, both infantry and cavalry, as well as that vitally significant aforementioned artillery. The last thing I'll take issue with is that IMHO the author lets Brigadiers Burrows and Nuttall off the hook a bit too easily. Of course hindsight is always 20/20, and it's stupendously easy to sit back and point out fatal flaws committed by commanders in the field, who were struggling at the time to overcome obstacles and meet challenges we barely begin to truly comprehend, but with that said, Burrows (the overall British commander) and Nuttall (commander of the cavalry brigade) both delivered poor performances as generals on Maiwand Day.

Nonetheless, even with these caveats, I think the paper is worth reading. There's nothing new in terms of newly discovered primary sources, or groundbreaking insight, but it's not often we get to see the Battle of Maiwand seriously reconsidered in any fashion, and considering the battle in combination with an ancient Roman defeat at the hands of the Germanic tribes, and Custer and the 7th Cavalry's defeat at the hands of the Sioux, is not without value.

I plan to add a permanent link to the page in my "Maiwand Links" section some time soon, but for now here it is:



  1. Thanks for the link. I've just saved said document for digesting a little later on.


  2. Thanks for taking the time to let me know, Darrell. I appreciate it!