Lumsden of the Guides: A Sketch of the Life of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden


Lumsden of the Guides is a biography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden (1821‒96), co-authored by his younger brother, General Sir Peter Stark Lumsden (1829–1918) and George R. Elsmie (1838‒1909), a judge and writer in British India. Harry Lumsden was a soldier in the army of the British East India Company who was part of the Anglo-Indian force that occupied Kabul during the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839−42). He subsequently held posts on the North-West Frontier of India and in 1857‒58 undertook a mission to Kandahar to ascertain whether the Afghan ruler Dost Mohammad Khan was adhering to the terms of a treaty that required the Afghans, in exchange for British subsidies, to maintain their defenses against Persia in the region of Herat. The “guides” of the title refers to the corps of guides, locally recruited soldiers that the British used to defend the frontiers of India from attacks and uprisings by warlike tribes hostile to British rule. Lumsden recruited and commanded this force at different times in his career, beginning in 1846. The book covers Lumsden’s background and education and his military career and diplomatic missions. Three appendices consist of unpublished writings by Harry Lumsden, including sections from a notebook entitled “Frontier Thoughts and Frontier Requirements” concerning all aspects of the recruitment and command of the guides; an essay entitled “A Few Notes on Afghan Field-Sports” dealing with hawking, hunting, and related subjects; and a few pages of recollections of the march from Peshawar to Jalalabad in 1842. The book is illustrated with drawings and photographs and contains a fold-out map of the Afghan frontier with an inset of the route from Kandahar to Herat. Peter Stark Lumsden was also a distinguished soldier in the Indian army. He accompanied his brother on the Kandahar mission of 1857‒58 and in the 1880s headed the Anglo-Indian side of the Joint Boundary Commission formed with Russia to define the northern border of Afghanistan.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

J. Murray, London


Title in Original Language

Lumsden of the Guides, a sketch of the life of Lieut.-Gen. Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden, K. C. S. I., C. B., with selections from his correspondence and occasional papers, by General Sir Peter S. Lumsden and George R. Elsmie

Type of Item

Physical Description

336 pages : portraits, maps, plans ; 22 centimeters

Last updated: August 17, 2016