The Life and Career of Major Sir Louis Cavagnari


Sir Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari (1841–79) was a French-born army and political officer who joined the army of the East India Company in 1858 and held a variety of military and political posts in India up until the time of his death. During the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–80), he negotiated the Treaty of Gandamak (signed May 26, 1879), which ended the first phase of the war. Under the terms of the agreement, the government of the new ruler of Afghanistan, Ya‘qub Khan, was obliged to receive a permanent British envoy at Kabul and Britain was given the right to exercise control over Afghan foreign policy. Lord Lytton, viceroy of India, appointed Cavagnari as the British envoy resident at Kabul. Cavagnari entered the city on July 24, 1879. His reception was at first friendly, but on September 3 several Afghan regiments mutinied and attacked the citadel where Cavagnari and other British officials were living. Cavagnari and his guards were killed. These events triggered a general uprising and a second phase of the war. The Life and Career of Major Sir Louis Cavagnari is a compilation of original documents relating to Cavagnari’s life and the diplomatic and military circumstances of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, published in Calcutta (present-day Kolkata) in 1881. The documents include dispatches about Afghanistan from the government of India to the government in London, correspondence between the British and Sher Ali Khan, ruler of Afghanistan in 1863‒66 and 1868‒79, excerpts from newspapers and official reports, and the complete text of the Treaty of Gandamack. The compiler was Kally Prosono Dey (also seen as Kaliprasanna De), who appears to have been a civil servant or clerk in the government of India.

Last updated: August 26, 2016