Winston Churchill Publishes 'The Story of the Malakand Field Force'

Every influence, every motive, that provokes the spirit of murder among men, impels these mountaineers to deeds of treachery and violence. The strong aboriginal propensity to kill, inherent in all human beings, has in these valleys been preserved in unexampled strength and vigour. That religion, which above all others was founded and propagated by the sword--the tenets and principles of which are instinct with incentives to slaughter and which in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men--stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism.”

— Winston Churchill

The Siege of Malakand was the 26 July – 2 August 1897 siege of the British garrison in the Malakand region colonial India's North West Frontier Province. The British faced a force of Pashtun tribesmen whose tribal lands had been bisected by the Durand Line, the 1,519 mile (2,445 km) border between Afghanistan and British India drawn up at the end of the Anglo-Afghan wars to help hold the Russian Empire's spread of influence towards the Indian subcontinent.

The unrest caused by this division of the Pashtun lands led to the rise of Saidullah, a Pashtun fakir who led an army of at least 10,000 against the British garrison in Malakand. Although the British forces were divided amongst a number of poorly defended positions, the small garrison at the camp of Malakand South and the small fort at Chakdara were both able to hold out for six days against the much larger Pashtun army.

The siege was lifted when a relief column dispatched from British positions to the south was sent to assist General William Hope Meiklejohn, commander of the British forces at Malakand South. Accompanying this relief force was second lieutenant Winston Churchill, who later published his account as The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War.