Immediately after the action was over we surrounded the Emperor’s army, and took measures to prevent all communication with the adjacent country.”
Continuing Nadir Shah Captures Delhi,
our selection from History of Persia by Sir John Malcolm published in 1815. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in eleven easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Nadir Shah Captures Delhi.
It appears at this period to have been the policy of the conqueror to conciliate the Afghans. He had in a very great degree disarmed the prejudices of that nation, by the proclamation which he issued, on ascending the throne, against the tenets of the Shiahs; and he now sought, not merely to soften that resentment, but to attach them to his person and government by favors. He completely succeeded; some of the tribes of that nation continued during his life to rank among the bravest soldiers of his army and formed a powerful check upon the discontent and turbulence of his own countrymen.
While Nadir was employed in besieging Kandahar his generals had been successful in reducing the strongholds in its vicinity; and his eldest son, Reza Kuli, had, during this short period, obtained a fame which seemed to promise that his name would one day equal that of his father. The Afghan Prince of Kandahar had expected aid from the chief of Bulkh, against whom Nadir detached his son, with a chosen body of twelve thousand horse. The Prince not only defeated this ruler and took his capital, but passed the Oxus, and did not hesitate to give battle to the monarch of the Usbegs, who had advanced from Bokhara with an army far outnumbering the Persians. The rash valor of Reza Kuli was crowned with a signal victory; and the career of the young hero was only arrested by a mandate from his father, who desired him to re-cross the Oxus.
Nadir at the same time addressed two letters to the King of the Usbegs, and to the other chiefs of that part of Tartary, informing them that he had sent orders to his son to retreat within the limits of the Persian empire, and not to disturb countries which were the inheritance of the race of Genghis Khan and of high Turkoman families.
This conduct, which was evidently the result of that policy which affects moderation, that it may better accomplish its ambitious purposes, has been ascribed by some to a jealousy which they conceive Nadir, even at this early period, entertained of the rising reputation of his son; but those who impute it to this cause forget that Reza Kuli, when he returned, was not only received with extraordinary favor and affection, but soon afterward was entrusted with all the power of a sovereign, and left to govern Persia, while his father proceeded with his vast designs of subjugating to his authority the distant regions of India.
When Nadir Shah marched against the Afghans he had sent an ambassador to Delhi requesting the monarch of India would give orders to the governors of his northern provinces not to permit the enemies of Persia to find a refuge from an avenging sword in the territories of an ally. No satisfactory answer had been received to this mission; and, while the Afghans were allowed to take shelter within the limits of the Indian empire, obstacles were thrown in the way of the return of the Persian envoy. Nadir, incensed at these proceedings, pursued the fugitives to Kabul, and not only made himself master of that city, but of all the country in its vicinity. After this conquest he addressed another letter to the Emperor of India, in which he reproached him, in the bitterest terms, for his past conduct, but still professed a desire of maintaining the relations of friendship. The bearer of this letter was slain by the Afghan chief: and Nadir, perhaps, did not regret an event which added to the pretexts that before existed to justify him to the world in undertaking the most splendid of all his enterprises — the invasion of India (1738).
The progress of Nadir from Kabul to India was rapid and successful: almost all the governors of the principal provinces through which he passed anticipated the fate of the empire by their submission; but the conqueror has, in a letter to his son, Reza Kuli, given us the most authentic account we could desire to possess of events from the day on which he left Lahore till that on which he resolved to restore the vanquished Mahomet Shah to the throne of his ancestors. After informing that Prince of an advantage which his troops had gained over an advanced party of his enemies, and describing an ineffectual attempt he had made to prevent the junction of an army under Saadut Khan with Mahomet Shah, he states that the Indian monarch considered himself so strong from his reinforcement that he left his entrenchments, and drew up his troops in order of battle. The result will be best told in Nadir’s own words.
We,” he observes, “who wished for such a day, after appointing guards for our camp, and invoking the support of an all-powerful Creator, mounted, and advanced to the charge. For two complete hours the action raged with violence, and a heavy fire from cannon and musketry was kept up. After that, by the aid of the Almighty, our lion-hunting heroes broke the enemy’s line and chased them from the field of battle, dispersing them in every direction. This battle lasted two hours; and for two hours and a half more were our conquering soldiers engaged in pursuit. When one hour of the day remained, the field was entirely cleared of the enemy; and as the entrenchments of their camp were strong and the fortifications formidable, we would not permit our army to assault it.
An immense treasure, a number of elephants, part of the artillery of the Emperor, and rich spoils of every description were the reward of our victory. Upward of twenty thousand of the enemy were slain on the field of battle, and a much greater number were made prisoners. Immediately after the action was over we surrounded the Emperor’s army, and took measures to prevent all communication with the adjacent country; preparing at the same time our cannon and mortars to level with the ground the fortifications which had been erected.
As the utmost confusion reigned in the imperial camp, and all discipline was abandoned, the Emperor, compelled by irresistible necessity, after the lapse of one day, sent Nizam-ul-mulk, on Thursday, the 17th Zilkadeh, to our royal camp; and the day following, Mahomet Shah himself, attended by his nobles, came to our heaven-like presence, in an afflicted state.
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