Ali Masjid from the Shagai Heights


In the fall of 1878, The Illustrated London News dispatched the Scottish artist William Simpson (1823–99) to Afghanistan in anticipation of a conflict between Britain and Afghan tribal leaders. The British were concerned about growing Russian influence in the region and a possible Russian threat to British India. Fighting broke out in November 1878, precipitating what became known as the Second Afghan War (1878–80). One of the British military objectives was to take the fort at Ali Masjid and thereby establish British control of the Khyber Pass. Shown here is Simpson’s watercolor sketch of Ali Masjid as seen from the Shagai Heights. The sketch is from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.

Last updated: September 30, 2016