Through Persia in Disguise, with Reminiscences of the Indian Mutiny


Through Persia in Disguise, with Reminiscences of the Indian Mutiny consists of diary entries written by Charles Edward Stewart, an officer in the Indian Army and later British consul general at Tabriz and at Odessa, edited and published posthumously by members of his family. Part one of the book recounts Stewart’s role in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Rebellion), an uprising of sepoys (native soldiers) against the army of the British East India Company. Much of the action described takes place in Peshawar (in present-day Pakistan). Stewart also participated in and describes the Umbeylah (also seen as Ambela and Umbeyla) Campaign of 1863, in which an Anglo-Indian force marched against Pashtun (also seen as Pushtun) tribes opposed to British colonial rule. Part two deals with several missions that Stewart undertook in the early 1880s, in which he traveled across Persia to the Persian-Afghan frontier and into Afghanistan. The purpose of his trips was to gather intelligence for the British government, and for much of the time he traveled disguised as an Armenian horse dealer from Calcutta. In 1884 Stewart was appointed the second assistant commissioner on the Afghan Boundary Commission under Sir Peter Lumsden, and the book has a chapter on the work of the commission in the city of Herat and its environs. The book includes illustrations and a map of the Afghan-Persian border region and four appendices: the text of a paper read at the Royal Geographical Society in June 1887, “The Country of the Tekke Turkomans, and the Tejend and Murghab Rivers,” based on Stewart’s mission of 1880; an article on the use of petroleum as a fuel for locomotives and steamships (based on Stewart’s observation of this new technology as used by the Russians in the region of the Caspian Sea); an article on a possible railway extension to link the Russian Central-Asian Railway and the Indian Railway System; and a short article entitled “Bible Work in Persia” in which Stewart makes a number of observations about different religious groups in Persia, including Shia Muslims, Nestorian and Armenian Christians, and Babis.

Last updated: September 30, 2016