A Journal of the Disasters in Affghanistan, 1841-2 - Lady Florentia Sale 1843 - John Murray, London - First Edition Let’s get this straight, Lady Florentia Sale was not someone to trifle with, in fact she would have been perfectly capable of leading the India Company into battle against the Akbar Khan, which according to many accounts would have been the better option than Elphinstone’s disastrous decision to retreat from Kabul. Lady Sale’s Journal covers the events in Kabul and the retreat as well as her nine month's captivity and eventual rescue.

Harry Flashman on Elphinstone - ’Elphy outshines them all as the greatest military idiot of our own or any other day.’

The great Flashy on Lady Sale - ‘Dear dreadful Florentia. If you’ve read my Afghan story, you know her, a raw-boned old heroine who’d ridden with the army all through that nightmare retreat over the passes from Kabul, when a force of 14,000 was whittled to almost nothing by the Dourani snipers and Khyber knives. She hadn’t shut up the whole way, damning the administration and bullying her bearers: Colin Mackenzie said it was a near thing which was more fearsome - a Ghazi leaping from the rocks yelling murder, or Lady Sale’s red nose emerging from a tent demanding to know why the water was not thoroughly boiling.’

This is Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Pratt’s copy, Commander of the 17th Lancers, a regiment notable for their participation in the Charge of the Light Brigade (yes of course ‘Flashy’ was there too).

Dubbed the soldier's wife par excellence by
The Times, Florentia Sale was one of the most remarkable figures of the First Afghan War. The wife of Brigadier (Later Major-General Sir) Robert Sale, who was to die in the first Sikh War at Mudki in 1845, she had remained in Kabul with her daughter and son-in-law whilst her husband defended Jalalabad. She was forced to join the disastrous retreat from Kabul in January 1842, when she was twice wounded, and taken into captivity with a number of others by Akbar Khan. It is estimated that during the retreat ,commanded by Major General Sir William Elphinstone, over 4,500 troops and 12,000 support staff and families were lost, only one European and a few Sepoys would eventually reach Jalalabad.

Illustrated with large folding map opposite title page and small map.
  ‘Only he [Elphinstone] could have permitted the First Afghan War and let it develop to such ruinous defeat. It was not easy: he started with a good army, a secure position, some excellent officers, a disorganised enemy, and repeated opportunities to save the situation. But Elphy, with the touch of true genius, swept aside these obstacles with unerring precision, and out of order wrought complete chaos. We shall not, with luck, look upon his like again.’ - The Flashman Papers.

Provenance: Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Pratt, commander of the 17th Lancers (1837-9). With his armourial bookplate.

12mo. pp. [2] xvi 451 [1] 12 advertisements. In original cloth gilt.
  Condition: Very good, rear outer cloth split to spine, spine sunned sand with ends chipped, internally fine.   Ref: 106931   Price: HK$ 3,800