The Lady of Kabul
By Michael Scott
In January 1842, the British garrison of Kabul, besieged, badly led, and out of food and ammunition, began its retreat to India. In the depths of winter, through mountainous passes, the column was constantly harassed by the Afghans.Discipline collapsed and every day hundreds died from hunger and cold, or attacks by insurgents. Very few survived. It was, arguably, the biggest military disaster of the 19th century.
Among the refugees was Lady Florentia Sale. During the march, Florentia and a number of others were taken hostage by an Afghan chieftain. Constantly being moved to avoid abduction attempts by rival factions and kept prisoners as a bargaining counter for future safe conduct, life was miserable. Florentia was, though, unfazed by the perils in which she found herself. Lice, fleas, earthquakes, rain, snow, lack of hygiene, glutinous mutton stew and little bedding or shelter were taken in her stride. Her captors were quite prepared to kill her and her companions if it suited them. She knew the penalties.
This is the story of one of the most remarkable women of the 19th century – the true Lady of Kabul – by the author of In Love and War, Scapegoats and Royal Betrayal.