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The First Anglo-Afghan War was the first of three invasions of Afghanistan by the United Kingdom. Among the first major conflicts in the Great Game, the 19th-century competition for power and influence in Central Asia between the British and Russian Empires, it is infamous for the near annihilation of the main force of the British Army by Afghan tribal fighters, for which it earned the nickname, Auckland's Folly.[1]


In 1839, the campaign was initiated by George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland. Thereupon, it was largely waged through the forces of the British East India Company.[1]

The expedition was intertwined with Templar operations under the command of Major General William Sleeman to uncover Isu sites such as the Herat Temple. In spite of initial successes, such as the capturing of the Citadel of Herat in 1841 for the aforementioned purpose,[2][3] the campaign ended in a bloodbath in 1842 with the virtual destruction of the main detachment of the British Army led by Major General William Elphinstone.[1][4] Much like an earlier scenario in the aftermath of the Siege of Fort William Henry during the French and Indian War,[5], this occurred during a disastrous withdrawal from the capital of Kabul to Jalalabad when Afghan fighters under the command of Wazir Akbar Khan betrayed the negotiations for a protected retreat.[4]

The notorious incident became iconic to the war, shocking the British Empire and leading to its defeat although they would return in two further invasions in 1878 and 1919.



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