Eldred Pottinger

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Pottinger, Eldred, Major, the "Defender of Herat," nephew of preceding, son of Thomas Pottinger. of Mount Pottinger, in the County of Down, was born 12th August 1811. When but fourteen he was placed at Addiscombe, and after two years' training joined the head-quarters of an artillery regiment in India. In 1837, disguised as a native Cutch horse-dealer, he proceeded on an exploring expedition into Afghanistan. After his arrival in Herat in September, the city was invested by a Persian army under Mahomed Shah, largely officered by Russians. Considering it would be conducive to British interests that the designs of the Persians should be thwarted, he made himself known to Yar Mahomed, and engaged resolutely in the organization of the defence. It was owing to Pottinger's courage and determination that the Persians were compelled to raise the siege at the end of a year. For this service he was promoted to a brevet majority, was made a Companion of the Bath, and in 1841 was appointed political agent at Herat, and soon afterwards at Cabul.

In December 1841 the small British force at Cabul was suddenly attacked by the Kohistanees, and several of his companions were murdered. With a little body of Ghoorkas he made an effort to reach Charekur, but was ultimately obliged to surrender on humiliating terms, and for nine months remained a prisoner in the hands of Akbar Khan, who treated him with great consideration. In 1843, after his release, a court of inquiry was held to consider a certain treaty he had signed for the evacuation of Afghanistan, and bills for large amounts drawn by him on the British government in payment of an indemnity to the enemy. His judgment and conduct were amply justified. Major Pottinger did not live long to enjoy his honours, or receive the further rewards that were in store for him. He died of fever, while on a visit to his uncle, Sir Henry Pottinger, at Hong Kong, 15th November 1843, aged 32.

Sources

169a. Indian Officers, Lives of: John W. Kaye, F.R.S. London, 1867.

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