|Second Anglo–Afghan War|
|Part of the Great Game|
92nd Highlanders at Kandahar. Oil by Richard Caton Woodville
|Commanders and leaders|
Sher Ali Khan, |
|Casualties and losses|
|5,000+ killed in major battles, total unknown.||
1,850 killed in action or died of wounds,|
8,000 dead of disease
The Second Anglo–Afghan War was fought between the United Kingdom and the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1878 to 1880, when the nation was ruled by Sher Ali Khan of the Barakzai dynasty, the son of former Emir Dost Mohammad Khan. This was the second time British India invaded Afghanistan. The war ended in the Treaty of Gandamak after attaining all the British geopolitical objectives. Most of the British and Indian soldiers withdrew from Afghanistan. The Afghans were permitted to maintain internal sovereignty but they had to cede control of their nation's foreign relations to the British.
After tension between Russia and Britain in Europe ended with the June 1878 Congress of Berlin, Russia turned its attention to Central Asia. That same summer, Russia sent an uninvited diplomatic mission to Kabul. Sher Ali Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, tried unsuccessfully to keep them out. Russian envoys arrived in Kabul on 22 July 1878, and on 14 August, the British demanded that Sher Ali accept a British mission too.
The Amir not only refused to receive a British mission under Neville Bowles Chamberlain, but threatened to stop it if it were dispatched. Lord Lytton, the viceroy, ordered a diplomatic mission to set out for Kabul in September 1878 but the mission was turned back as it approached the eastern entrance of the Khyber Pass, triggering the Second Anglo–Afghan War.
A British force of about 40,000 fighting men, mostly British and Indians, was distributed into military columns which penetrated Afghanistan at three different points. An alarmed Sher Ali attempted to appeal in person to the Russian Tsar for assistance, but unable to do so, he returned to Mazari Sharif, where he died on 21 February 1879.
With British forces occupying much of the country, Sher Ali's son and successor, Mohammad Yaqub Khan, signed the Treaty of Gandamak in May 1879 to prevent a British invasion of the rest of the country. According to this agreement and in return for an annual subsidy and vague assurances of assistance in case of foreign aggression, Yaqub relinquished control of Afghan foreign affairs to Britain. British representatives were installed in Kabul and other locations, British control was extended to the Khyber and Michni passes, and Afghanistan ceded various North-West Frontier Province areas and Quetta to Britain. The British Army then withdrew.
However, on 3 September 1879 an uprising in Kabul led to the slaughter of Sir Louis Cavagnari, the British representative, along with his guards, and staff – provoking the next phase of the Second Afghan War.
Major General Sir Frederick Roberts led the Kabul Field Force over the Shutargardan Pass into central Afghanistan, defeated the Afghan Army at Char Asiab on 6 October 1879, and occupied Kabul two days later. Ghazi Mohammad Jan Khan Wardak, and a force of 10,000 Afghans, staged an uprising and attacked British forces near Kabul in the Siege of the Sherpur Cantonment in December 1879. Despite besieging the British garrison there, he failed to maintain the Siege of Sherpur, instead shifting focus to Roberts' force, and this resulted in the collapse of this rebellion. Yaqub Khan, suspected of complicity in the massacre of Cavagnari and his staff, was obliged to abdicate. The British considered a number of possible political settlements, including partitioning Afghanistan between multiple rulers or placing Yaqub's brother Ayub Khan on the throne, but ultimately decided to install his cousin Abdur Rahman Khan as emir instead.
Ayub Khan, who had been serving as governor of Herat, rose in revolt, defeated a British detachment at the Battle of Maiwand in July 1880 and besieged Kandahar. Roberts then led the main British force from Kabul and decisively defeated Ayub Khan on 1 September at the Battle of Kandahar, bringing his rebellion to an end. Abdur Rahman had confirmed the Treaty of Gandamak, leaving the British in control of the territories ceded by Yaqub Khan and ensuring British control of Afghanistan's foreign policy in exchange for protection and a subsidy.
Abandoning the provocative policy of maintaining a British resident in Kabul, but having achieved all their other objectives, the British withdrew.
Captured British soldiers
The British officer John Masters recorded in his autobiography that Afghan women in the North-West Frontier Province (1901–1955) of British India during the Second Anglo-Afghan War would castrate non-Muslim soldiers who were captured, like British and Sikhs. They also used an execution method involving urine; Pathan women urinated into prisoner's mouths. Captured British soldiers were spread out and fastened with restraints to the ground, then a stick, or a piece of wood was used to keep their mouth open to prevent swallowing. Pathan women then squatted and urinated directly into the mouth of the man until he drowned in the urine, taking turns one at a time.
Timeline of battles
There were several decisive actions in the Second Anglo–Afghan War, from 1878 to 1880. Here are the battles and actions in chronological order. An asterisk (*) indicates a clasp was awarded for that particular battle with the Afghanistan Medal.
- Action at Takht-i-Pul
- Action at Matun
- Battle of Khushk-i-Nakud
- Battle of Fatehabad* (Afghan victory)
- Battle of Kam Dakka* (Decisive Afghan victory)
- Battle of Charasiab*
- Battle of Shajui
- Battle of Karez Mir
- Battle of Takht-i-Shah
- Battle of Asmai Heights* (Decisive Afghan victory)
- Siege of Sherpur* (Decisive British victory)
- Battle of Ahmed Khel* (British victory)
- Battle of Arzu
- Second Battle of Charasiab
- Battle of Maiwand (Decisive Afghan victory)
- Battle of Deh Koja (Afghan Victory)
- Battle of Kandahar* (Decisive British victory)
- Kandahar (and Afghanistan) Evacuation
Order of battle
- Peshawar Valley Field Force Lt Gen Sir Samuel Browne
- Cavalry Brigade Brig Gen C. J. S. Gough
- Royal Artillery
- First Infantry Brigade Brig Gen H. T. Macpherson
- Second Infantry Brigade Brig Gen J. A. Tytler
- Third Infantry Brigade Brig Gen F. Appleyard
- Fourth Infantry Brigade Brig Gen W. Browne
- Kurram Valley Field Force Major General Roberts
- Cavalry Brigade Brig Gen Hugh Gough
- Royal Artillery Col A. H. Lindsay
- First Infantry Brigade Brig Gen A. H. Cobbe
- Second Infantry Brigade Brig Gen J. B. Thelwell
- Kandahar Field Force
- First Division Lt Gen Donald Stewart
- Cavalry Brigade Brig Gen Walter Fane
- Royal Artillery Brig Gen C. G. Arbuthnot
- First Infantry Brigade Brig Gen R. Barter
- Second Infantry Brigade Brig Gen W. Hughes
- 2nd Division Maj Gen M A Biddulph
- Cavalry Brigade Brig Gen C. H. Palliser
- 21st Daly's Horse
- 22nd Sam Browne's Horse
- 35th Scinde Horse
- Artillery Col Le Mesurier
- First Infantry Brigade Brig Gen R. Lacy
- Second Infantry Brigade Brig Gen Nuttall
- Cavalry Brigade Brig Gen C. H. Palliser
- First Division Lt Gen Donald Stewart
- At the beginning of Study in Scarlet, the first of the Sherlock Holmes books, Dr. Watson is mentioned as having been wounded in the Second Anglo–Afghan War and invalided home.
- M.M. Kaye's novel The Far Pavilions is set, in part, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Second Anglo-Afghan War.|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- First Anglo–Afghan War
- Third Anglo-Afghan War
- European influence in Afghanistan
- Military history of Afghanistan
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- Barthorp, Michael. 2002. Afghan Wars and the North-West Frontier 1839–1947. Cassell. London. ISBN 0-304-36294-8
- Gathorne-Hardy, Gathorne (1878). The Afghan War. Publications of the National Union. Westminster: National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations.
- Wilkinson-Latham, Robert. 1977. North-West Frontier 1837–1947. Osprey Publishing. London. ISBN 0-85045-275-9
- Second Anglo-Afghan War Chronology
- British Battles
- Online Afghan Calendar with Historical dates
- Frederick Roberts and the long road to Kandahar
- Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library William Simpson's diary and album of sketches and watercolors covering the early part of the campaign, and done for the Illustrated London News
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