A great column of soldiers arrived at the mouth of the Kohat Pass shortly after 3.0am on 10 October 1897. Specially trained Gurkhas acted as scouts and a permanent advance guard with the 1st battalion, the Devonshire Regiment providing protection from the rear. General Hamilton said of them in a letter home: "I have a grand Battalion in the the Devonshire regiment" and many other accounts support the view that their morale and discipline were exceptional throughout.
At Kohat, each man was issued with his kit which included
1 waterproof sheet
An extra pair of puttees
A woollen cardigan
A knitted head covering rather like a balaclava
A khaki jacket lined with serge
100 rounds carried in a pouch
Additional items such as reserve ammunition , great coats etc. were carried by pack animals in the baggage trains. Facilities were provided at Kohat for sharpening swords and bayonets.
On 17 October, the 1st Battalion set out on its journey to Shinwari. By this time, General Hamilton had had his accident and Brigadier General Hart VC had taken over the command. The group consisted of 24 officers, 1 Warrant officer, 709 Other Ranks and 88 camp followers, some the servants of individuals, others engaged in more general support duties.