Sir Peter Lumsden


This military portrait of Sir Peter Lumsden (1829–1918) is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Lumsden’s first posting in the region was in the North-West Frontier of British India in the 1850s, where as an ensign in the 60th Bengal Native Infantry he participated in the suppression of rebellions by several Pashtun tribes. He also served in the Second Opium War and the Bhutan War. He was adjutant general of the Indian army 1874–79 and then was promoted in 1879 to chief of staff under the commander in chief of India, Sir Frederick Haines (1819–1909). The Second Anglo-Afghan War began in November 1878 when Great Britain, fearful of what it saw as growing Russian influence in Afghanistan, invaded the country from British India. The first phase of the war ended in May 1879 with the Treaty of Gandamak, which permitted the Afghans to maintain internal sovereignty but forced them to cede control over their foreign policy to the British. Fighting resumed in September 1879, after an anti-British uprising in Kabul, and finally concluded in September 1880 with the decisive Battle of Kandahar. The album includes portraits of British and Afghan leaders and military personnel, portraits of ordinary Afghan people, and depictions of British military camps and activities, structures, landscapes, and cities and towns. The sites shown are all located within the borders of present-day Afghanistan or Pakistan (a part of British India at the time). About a third of the photographs were taken by John Burke (circa 1843–1900), another third by Sir Benjamin Simpson (1831–1923), and the remainder by several other photographers. Some of the photographs are unattributed. The album possibly was compiled by a member of the British Indian government, but this has not been confirmed. How it came to the Library of Congress is not known.

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1 photographic print in an album : albumen


  1. Rob Johnson, “Lumsden, Sir Peter Stark (1829–1918),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

Last updated: September 30, 2016