Person:Robert Sale (2)

Major General Sir Robert Sale, GCB
b.19 Sep 1782 Vellore, India
d.21 Dec 1845 Mudki, India
  1. Major General Sir Robert Sale, GCB1782 - 1845
  • HMajor General Sir Robert Sale, GCB1782 - 1845
  • WFlorentia Wynch1790 - 1863
m. 16 May 1809
  1. Mary Harriet Sale1810 -
  2. George Henry Sale1811 -
  3. Harriet Flora Sale1812 - 1840
  4. Julia Catherine Sale1812 - 1815
  5. Robert Henry Sale1815 - 1876
  6. Caroline Catherine Sale1816 - 1890
  7. Julia Elizabeth Sale1818 - 1843
  8. Henrietta Sarah Sale1820 - 1897
  9. Alexandrina Sale1823 - 1857
Facts and Events
Name Major General Sir Robert Sale, GCB
Gender Male
Birth? 19 Sep 1782 Vellore, India
Marriage 16 May 1809 Mangalore,India to Florentia Wynch
Death? 21 Dec 1845 Mudki, India

Born 19th September 1782,the second son of Colonel Robert Sale of the East India service by his wife,Kitty daughter of Harry Brine esq,of Buckden,Huntingdonshire.

Educated at Dr Nicholas`s School at Ealing.

Sir Robert was first commissioned into the Army as an Ensign in the 36th Regiment of Foot on the 19th January 1795 aged approx.12 1/years. Promoted to Lieutenant in 1797 he transferred the following year to the 12th Regiment of Foot who were then stationed at Fort Madras,India,during the period 1st March 1798 to 23rd

arch 1806 when he was promoted to the rank of Captain,he served in the campaigns against Tippu Aultan at Naldrug, Seringgapatum,for which he received a silver Medal.Subsequently he served along with his Regiment under Colonel the Hon Arthur Wellesley,(afterwards `Duke of Wellington`)in the campaign against Dhundia Wagh, a freebooter who operated around Maisur. The 12th Foot then remained at Seringgapatum till the close of 1800,when it was ordered on the expedition into the Wainad and Malabar country against Paichi Raja,fighting in extreamly hilly and wooded terrain the expedition was not concluded until May 1801.The Regiment was employed for the next seven years at various posts in India.However in December 1808 it was back to war,first against the Rajah of Tranvacore, then in 1809 against the Dewan of Tranvacore. During.During this period of time many guns were captured and over five thousand enemy were defeated.Sir Robert arrived on the 24th July 1809 at Trichinoply,where he married in the same year.In august of 1810 the Sale`s accompanied the regiment to Madras,where it embarked in the fleet to take part in the Expedition against Mauritus. Sir Robert Landed with the troops at Mapon Bay on 28th November.He took part in the storming of the French positions a few miles from Port Louis,and in the other operations resulting in the surrender of the Island on the 3rd of December 1810.He remained in Mauritus until April 1813,from where he moved with his regiment to Borbon,being promoted to Regimental-Major in December of that year,serving on the staff during his stay on the island.On the retration of that Island to France in 1815,he sailed on the 25th July along with the regiment from Mauritus to England landing at Portsmouth on the 10th of November.The regiment them moved to Ireland.Here the two battalions of the 12th Foot met,the second being disbanded on the reduction of the Army.

Sir Robert as a junior Major was placed on half pay with effect from 25th March1818.Sir Robert was b rouht back to full pay as a Major in the 13th Foot in June of 1821.Joining the regiment at Dublin he then accompanied the regiment to Edinburgh in August to carry out duties for the visit of George the 1V.On competion of those duties the regiment proceeded to Chatham sailing from there to India arriving at Culcutta in May 1823.

Towards the end of 1923 Burmese incursions into territory claimed by the British led to the war being declared on Burma and an expedition was sent.The commanding Officer of the Regiment having been appointed to command a Brigade.Command of the regiment devolved on Sir Robert,who embarked with it in April 1824 for the Irrawaddy. Rangoon was occupied and Sale with the 13th Foot drove the enemy from the vicinity.During June Sale led a successful attack on the stronghold at Kamandin.The stockade which was ten foot high,the attackers encouraged by Sale helping each other up its face,entering the stronghold simultaneously with the party at the breach,He was mentioned in despatches for his action.During July Sale led the attack on the seven forts at Kamarut. At.At the head of his regiment.During these actions he had a personal encounter with the Burmese Commander-in-Chief,who he killed in a single combat taking from him a valuable gold-hilted sword and scabbard.

Towards the end of November 1824,Sale was placed in command of one of the columns which advanced from Rangoon to attack the Burmese lines,fighting various actions on the 1st, 5th and 8th of December.During the storming of the enemy`s entrenchment at Kokein he was severely wounded in the head.He was again mentioned in despatches as `A Officer whose gallantry has been most conspicuous on every occasion since our arrival at Rangoon and alluding to his wound.`I trust his valuable services will not remain long unavailable`.

Returning to duty with expedition in February 1825 Sale led the column which reduced the province of Bassein,attacking in turn the various forts on the river.On finding the city of Bassein on fire and abandoned,he then took an expedition 120 miles up country.Returning to Rangoon arriving on 2nd of May.

Sale was promoted to be Regimental-Lieutenant-Colonel on the 3rd of June the same day as his brother George,then serving in the 4th Dragoons,was promoted to the same rank:so that for some years their names were together on the Army list.In August Robert Sale embarked with his regiment at Rangoon to rejoin he Army at Prome. During.During December he was placed in command of the 1st Brigade.On the 1st he repulsed the Shans and Burmese at Simbike near Prome;the next day he stormed the enemy`s positions in the Napadi Hills.On the 19th he commanded the successful assault from boats on the main face of the fortification at Malown,where he was again seriously wounded;and again mentioned in despatches.The following month the war in Burma was concluded and Sale returned with his regiment to India,arriving at Calcutta in the middle of April 1826.He was made a Companion of the Bath for his services in Burma.

For the next five years the regiment was stationed at Danapur then Agra for the following four years.On the 28th June 1838 he was promoted to Brevet-Colonel.In October he was appointed to command the 1st Bengal Brigade of Indus,then assembling at Karnal. This brigade which formed the advance brigade throughout the first campaign in Afghanistan was composed of the 13th Light Infantry and the 16th and 48th Native Infantry Regiments.

The March began on 8th November 1838.The brigade reaching Rohri at the end of January 1839,crossing the Indus by a bridge of boats and reached Shakarpur on 20th Febuary.Halting at Dadar for five days,continuing the march the brigade reached Quetta via the Bolan Pass on 26th March ith little opposition but with great loss of Brigade animals.Want of supplies greatly felt and the force had to be placed on reduced rations.After several more delays the column entered Kandahar in late April where a halt of some two months was mad to allow crops to ripen and the army to rest and refit.During this period Sale wasemployed with a column of some 2500 men.Artillery and mortars in attacking Giishk and dislodging the Afghan Chiefs from their refuge.Finding the town desserted and the enemy Chiefs having left the district he lefta garrison of Native troops at Garishk and returned the main body to Kandahar.

In late March the march on Kabul was resumed,arriving there on 21 July. The Engineers having breeched the defences on the morning of the 23rd. Sale led the storming column comprising of all the European Infantry in the force,Sir Robert was brought to the ground by a defender and was wounded in the face,after a desperate struggle with his assailant,whose skull he clave,he regained his feet and the fortress was soon in British hands.After resting the Army entered Kabul without further opposition on 7th August.

On 23rd July 1839 Sale was given the local rank of Major--General while serving in Afghanistan.He was created a Knight Commander of the Bath for his services with the Army of the Indus. The.The Shah also bestowed the order -2nd-class of the Durani Empire on him.Upon the breakup of the invading Army Sale was made second-in-command of the garrison troops in Afghanistan.He spent the winter in Jalalabad where his wife and daughter joined him later accompanying him back to Kabul in the spring of 1840.In the Autumn of 1840 the enemy once again took to the field and raised the whole country against the British.He was ordered to take a column and attack the enemy in the hill country north of Kabul.After attacking and investing several major forts in this aera he was engaged for the remainder of October in minor operations and ineffectual attempts to capture the enemy chief Dost Muhammad.Sale entered the Kohistan Valley and met the Afghan Army on the 2 November near Parwan.

After a fierce battle during which several British Officers were killed and wounded the enemy was completely defeated.Dost Muhammad seeing the hopelessness of the situation surrendered to the British at Kabul.

Some reductions and alterations were made to the army of occupation,which then settled down to the quiet life in contonments.Many of the married Officers having sent for their wives and families.families. Wrapt in a false sense of security they were oblivious to the coming storm.On 9h August 1841 Sale`s youngest daughter Alexandrina was married to Lieutenant Sturt of the Engineers.Not withstanding the fact that antipathy of the Afghans to the Army of occupation the daily alienation of his subjects by the Shah;and that not a single month went by without a punitive expedition,no suspicion of danger influenced the actions of the political and military authorities.At an early stage of the occupation had protested against putting the troops in cantonments in the position proposed and had vainly advocated the occupation and garrisoning of the Bala-Hissar fortress from where a British garrison could have held Kabul against all odds.

A political decision to cut the bribe to the hill tribes to keep open passes and the reduction of the not overly large army of occupation resulted in the hill tribes occupying the passes in force so cutting communications betweenb Kabul and India.

Sale who was about to proceed with his brigade to India was directed to clear the passes to Jalalabad. Moving.Moving on 12 October:into Khurd-Kabul Pass he successfully forced the pass,but was wounded early in the fight by a bullet in the ankle.The brigade remained in Khurd-Kabul for 9 days,Sale refusing to continue without reinforcements and additional transport and supplies.Moving out on the 22 October; he made his way cautiously through the defiles of the Haft-Kotul,upon reaching the valley of the Tezin attacked and captured the fort,During these actions a good deal of baggage and supplies were captured by the enemy.Precious days were lost by political interference in attempting to treat with the Afghans instead of seizing their forts and breaking their power.On 26th October Sale sent part of his force back to Kabar-Jabar,between Tezin and Kabul to keep open the route through which he had just passed,and to wait the arrival of troops from Kabul.On the same day he commenced his march towards India.Reaching his camp grounds at Sehba that night with no other opposition but skirmishes between his baggage guard and the enemy.Moving towards Kata-sang on the 27 October;through a narrow pass,it became necessary for the rear-guard upon the summit of the pass to fight through out the remainder of the day inflicting severe losses to the enemy.At Kata-Sang information was received that the enemy were massing to resist him in the Pari-dara and Jagdalak Passes.The political Officer assured him that after the treaty he had made at Tezin there would be no organised attack.Sale however avoided the Pari-dara route and took an alternitive route to the south over the hills,here Sale missed an opportunity of striking a deadly blow and of crushing the opposition had he turned sharpely to his left when opposite the passes,he would have caught the enemy in a hopeless position,waiting as they beleived to overwhelm the column in the passes below,he could have caught them in their own trap.It is possible that ignorance of the ground or deference to the treaty may have been the reason for the omission,it was a serious blunder having momentous consequences. The column was attacked after passing the outlets to the passes but held the enemy in check.Owing to the condition of the baggage train a good deal of equipment had to be destroyed to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.Marching from Jagdalak to Gandamak on the 29th the columns rear guard came in for some fierce fighting during the passage through the Kotal-i-Jagdalak Pass,hitting on the representations of the political department in Kabul on the 5th November;Sale sent a force to capture and reduce enemy positions at Mamu-Khel.

Receiving further despatches from Kabul on the 10th November;Sale learnt of the murders in Kabul on the 2nd. Sale was also ordered peremptory to return immediately to Kabul with his force.After calling a Council of war,and concurring with its advice he continued his march the following day towards Jalalabad where after a successful encounter with the enemy he arrived on the 12th November.On 15th November he communicated with Kabul giving his reasons for taking this course which were his camp equipment had been destroyed.He had large numbers of wounded.There was no longer any supply depots on the road to Kabul.His baggage train was such that he no longer could carry even one days supply the whole country was in arms against the British.He had insufficient ammunitions with the means at his disposal he could no longer force his way back to Kabul through the passes and if he attempted to return and reached Kabul with the remains of his brigade it would only be to join the Kabul garrison without subsistance. Taking into consideration the above considerations he felt compelled to put Jalalabad into a state of defence until the Kabul force should fall back on it or that succour arrive from India.

Considering that the force detached by him to garrison Kabar-Jabar and subsequently recalled to Kabul arriving there without loss on 3rd November.It is difficult to understand why Sale did not place his sick and wounded and his remaining baggage into one of the defensible forts in his neighbourhood and then unencumbered made a rapid march to Kabul where the appearance of his force would have been a blow to the enemy and bought about new life to the British garrison.Even if he did not march on Kabul his force would have been better placed to assist the Kabul garrison had he defended Gandamak where he could have maintained himself just as easily as at Jalalabad.On the other hand his decision must have been deliberately made,for he had the strongest of reasons for returning to Kabul,as his wife and daughter and son-in-law were still part of the Kabul garrison.


The defences of Jalalabad were in a miserable condition and there was no supplies.The defenders numbered about two thousand men,comprising 700 men of the 13th Foot,half of whom were recruits who had joined from England during the summer.750 men of the 35th Native Infantry.150 sappers,40 men of the Shah`s infantry.100 men of the Bngal Cavalry,60 men of the mountain Artillery,100 men of Abbots Battery.

A successful sortie was made on the 14th November which cleared the neighbourhood of Afghans and enabled supplies to be got in.On the 21st news was received of the destruction of the Charikar garrison and the following day of the evacuation of Pesh-Bolak by the end of the month Sale was surrounded by six thousand Afghans.Another successful sortie was made on the 1st December which left the garrison unmolested for sometime and enabled the provisional defences to be completed.

On 2nd January 1842 news of the murder of Macnaughten at Kabul was received and on the 9th he received orders from Kabul to evacuate Jalalabad and march to Peshawar in accordance with the treaty made at Kabul.The despatch also informed him that safe conduct had been arranged,and that his forces would be unmolested on its march.It is impossible to account for the imbecility which put faith in the Afghans after the events which had occurred.Sale at this time intercepted a message from Akbar Khan to a Chief near Jalalabad to rise and slaughter the garrison.He informed Kabul of this and declined to move without further orders.On 13th January a solitary horseman Dr Brydon wounded and exhausted arrived to tell of the annihilation of the Kabul force of 4,500 men plus 10 000 camp followers. Jalalabad`s acting engieer advised Sale of the condition of the defences and that if it was considered that the garrison could not hold out to march to Peshwar immediately whilst a retreat was still possible.On 23rd January came news of the attempt to force the Khaibar and of the abandonment of Ali-Masjid. Every precaution was taken by the garrison to enable them to fight to the last,and they prepared for the worst.However on 26th January a letter received from the enemy referring to the treaty and asking Sale`s intensions of remaining at Jalalabad.A council of war was called the next morning presided over by Sale was devided. After a heated discussion the reply was agreed to.This reply stated that " if the Shah had no further need of their services they would evacuate Jalalabad on his giving them formal permission to do so,and also provided the enemy surrounding them withdrew and that a safe-conduct was guaranteed to the garrison for their return to India.That the hostages were given".

This decision was based on the consideration that the Governor-General had abandoned them by his despatch directing that if Kabul fell all other stations should be evacuated;and that if they defied the Shah.British captives might be endangered while by negotiating time would at least be gained.On 12 February the council reassembled to hear the Shah`s reply which was that all members of the council should sign the original letter.The Shah`s demand was seized upon as an oppertunity to withdraw from the demands and proposals of the letter of the 28th. The Shah was accordingly informed that no further negotiations would be entered into until assured that their services were no longer desired.These councils of war have been the subject of considerable discussion,not generally favourable to Sale.(The original papers only came into the India Office in 1890,and a study of them shows that whilst Sale was to easily influenced by his political Officer to put his trust in the word of the Afghan,his chief hope seems to have been that negotiations would gain time,which was all important.To George Broadfoot must go the credit for almost being a lone voice in upholding the necessity of maintaining the city as a defence position to the last).

The very day after the council was held intelligence was received that Sir George Pollock had arrived at Peshawar to command the Jelalabad relief force.On 19th February a severe earthquake occurred undoing in one hour what the garrison had constructed in the previous 3 months.Undaunted however Sale put into motion the reconstruction of the defences.Earthquake shocks of a milder form continued for the next month,but they did little damage.

On 28th February and on the 2nd, 4th march the enemy made unsuccessful attacks with provisions running shorthanded enemy lines growing closer.Successful sorties were made on 1st and 24th March and again on 1st April when 500 sheep were captured.A pleasing incident occurred during the distribution of these sheep amongst the garrison,the 35th Native Infantry desired that their share might be given to their friends,the 13th Light Infantry as animal food was less necessary to them than to European troops.

On 5th April Spies brought in false news of the defeat of the relief column in the Khaibar. On the 6th the enemy fired a salute supposedly in honour of this victory,but in reality the salute had been made by Akbar to celebrate the murder of Shah Shuja at Kabul. Urged on by his officers Sale resolved to fight and arranged to give battle the following day the 7th .That evening he learned that the relief column had been victorious at Khaibar. He nevertheless determined to fight as already arranged.Accordingly at day break he formed his forces into 3 columns of attack under Dennie, Monteith and Havelock. The attack was completely successful but Dennie was killed leading the 13th to victory.By 7am Akbar Khan`s lines were carried,his camp, baggage, artillery,arms,ammunitions and horses were in British hands.Akbar Khan with the wreck of his army fled towards Kabul and the Afghan chiefs of districts in the Khaibar direction hurried to submit Sale.

On 16th April the relief column under Pollock arrived to find that the Jalalabad Garrison had releaved itself.The new Governor-General Lord Ellenbourgh issued a highly complementary order in which he alluded to that "Illustrious Garrison" at Jalalabad. A silver medal and 6 months pay was granted to every Officer and man,both European and native who belonged to the garrison on 7th April 1842.The order was directed to be read to all the troops and a salute of 21 guns at every principal station of the army in India.

A long stay was made by the relief force at Jalalabad,partly on account of sickness and want of transport,but mainly because of government indecision as to further action to be pursued.

On 16 June 1842 Sir Robert was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Bath for his defence of Jalalabad.

Towards the end of July Sale moved his division to Fatehabad,on the road to Kabul.On 20th August Pollock moved the remainder of the force out of Jalalabad. On September the enemy were encountered at Jagdaluk Pass where they occupied a position of great strength after some heavy fighting and fatiguing climbing dispersed them.Sale always to the front when fighting was going on was wounded leading his men up the heights.On the 12th and 13th September some 20,000 Afghans had occupied every post of vantage point in the Tezin Pass,but Sale drove them from crag to crag,contested at every step until the pass was cleared,but only to find the enemy in force on an almost impregnable position on the Haft-Kotal (7,800`).His position was after great difficulty scaled and the enemy driven from it in a decisive victory gained.Sale encamped at Kabul on the 15 September.On arrival at Kabul a relief column of some 6oo horsemen under Sir R.O.Shekspear was despatched to rescue the British captives at Bamain.On 17th Sale took a brigade of his Jalalabad troops and pushed on to Sheakspear`s support.The captives who by bribery had already effected their own release met Sheakspear on the 17th September.The following day they were safe in Sale`s camp.

The Sale`s returned from Afghanistan with Pollock`s Army of Retribution and reached India in late December 1842 to find that the new Govenor-General Ellenbourgh had determined to make General Sale and his illustrious Garrison from Jalalabad the heroes of the war.Then came home leave and a triumphal welcome in England.On 24th February 1843 the thanks of Parliament were unanimously voted to Sale for the skill,intrepidity and perseverance displayed in the military operations in Afghanistan.The resolution was moved in the House of Lords by the Duke of Wellington and in the House of Commons by Sir Robert Peel.The Times of 26th July 1843 reported the arrival at Lyme Regis (landed by pilet boat from a becalmed East Indiaman) of Major-General Sir Robert Sale,the equally heroic Lady Sale and their widowed daughter Mrs Sturt and child.

As soon as their presence was noted in the town the church bells were rung merrily and the townsfolk vied with each other in offering congratulations on their safe return.

The Sale`s were royally entertained at Londonderry and Southampton and were received by the Queen at Windsor.

Sir Robert returned to India on 29th March 1844 as a Quarter-Master-General of the Queens Troops in the East Indies.

At the outbreak of the Sikh war towards the end of 1845 he served as Quarter-Master- General to the British Army.His left thigh was shattered by grape-shot at the battle of Mudki on 18th December and he died from the effects on 21 December 1845 aged 63.

Sir Robert was a brave soldier.He was nicknamed"Fighting Bob" and where ever there was fighting he was in the thick of it.His men would follow him anywhere.He was too much afraid of responsibility to make a good General.Nor had he those special gifts which make a great Commander.Sir Robert Peel paid tribute to his memory during a speech in the House of Commons whilst proposing a vote of thanks to the Army of Satlaj and suggested a public monument.

His portrait was painted by George Clint A.R.A.,which was engraved in mezzotint by Thomas Burton. Another portrait was painted by Scarlet Davis.