The First Afghan War and Its Causes


Sir Henry Marion Durand (1812−71) was a British army officer and colonial administrator who took part in the early stages of, and later wrote a history of, the First Afghan War (1838−42). He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Bengal Engineers at age 15 and sailed for India in October 1829. In 1839, he was part of the column of British and Indian soldiers that invaded Afghanistan under Sir John Keane. On July 23, 1839, with a British sergeant and a small number of Indian sappers, Durand blew open the Kabul Gate to the city and fortress of Ghazni and thus played a major role in the capture of the city. Durand subsequently had a falling out with his superiors and left Afghanistan; he thus was not part of the disastrous march to Jalalabad, in which a British column of 4,500 soldiers and 12,000 camp followers was annihilated by Ghilzai warriors in January 1842. Durand went on to serve at other posts in Burma and India and in 1847, while on home leave in England, began writing The First Afghan War and Its Causes. He never finished the work, which his son published in 1879. Durand was critical of many aspects of British policy in Afghanistan.

Last updated: September 30, 2016