The Afghan War of 1879–80


The Afghan War of 187980 is a detailed account of the final phase of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–80), consisting of a reprinting in book form of letters originally written from the field and published in an Indian newspaper. The author, Howard Hensman, was a special correspondent of the Allahabad Pioneer. He was the only journalist to accompany the Anglo-Indian Kurram Valley Field Force that marched from Ali Kheyl, Afghanistan, to Kabul in the fall of 1879 following the uprising of Afghan forces in Kabul in September of that year and the massacre of the British envoy, Sir Louis Cavagnari, and other British officials in the city. The first letter is dated September 28, 1879, the last September 20, 1880. Brief explanatory texts are used to introduce some of the letters and provide context. Each letter runs to several pages, and collectively they offer a vivid first-hand account of the war as seen from a British perspective. Hensman describes, for example, the courageous charge by Afghan Ghazis at the Battle of Ahmed Khel (April 19, 1880) and the desperate, hand-to-hand fighting with British, Sikh, and Gurkha troops that ensued; the Battle of Maiwand (July 27, 1880), in which a force of 2,500 British and Indian troops was routed by a much larger Afghan force; and many other engagements. The book contains ten detailed foldout maps of the major military operations and battles of the war. A short appendix provides information about the heights above sea level of places in Afghanistan, distances by road between key points, and transportation in the Indian army.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

W.H. Allen and Company, London


Title in Original Language

The Afghan war of 1879-80, being a complete narrative of the capture of Cabul, the siege of Sherpur, the battle of Ahmed Khel, the brilliant march to Candahar, and the defeat of Ayub Khan, with the operations on the Helmund, and the settlement with Abdur Rahman Khan

Type of Item

Physical Description

567 pages : maps ; 23 centimeters

Last updated: July 28, 2017