Posted on: 9 January 2013

'Captain Colin Mackenzie, Madras Army, lately a hostage in Caubool, in his Affghan Dress', 1842 (c).

Oil on canvas by James Sant (1820-1916), 1842 (c).

This flamboyant portrait is in keeping with an officer who enjoyed as dashing a career as Captain (later Lieutenant-General) Colin Mackenzie (1806-1881). Joining the 48th (Madras) Native Infantry in 1825, he fought in various local campaigns, accompanying an expedition against piracy in the Straits of Malacca in 1836. Then, as Assistant Political Agent at Peshawar, Lieutenant Mackenzie was sent to Kabul in 1840, during the 1st Afghan War (1838-1842). He led the defence of Kabul fort against the Afghans and the subsequent night fight to escape from it, leading General Sale's retreating force to Gandamak. He returned to Kabul and was present at the conference between the Afghan Chief, Akbar Khan, and the British envoy, Sir William Macnaghten, where the latter was murdered.

Mackenzie survived the ill-fated retreat to Jalalabad, only to be chosen as a hostage by Akbar Khan. He was freed by a force commanded by Sir George Pollock before Akbar Khan could sell him into slavery. Deeply religious, he was respected by the Afghans, who called him 'the English Mullah'.

In 1848 Mackenzie raised and commanded a Sikh regiment to keep peace on the north-west frontier of India. As an expert on this area, it was said to have been his influence which persuaded Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General, to give up the idea of ceding the land from the Indus to Peshawar, to Afghanistan.

Source: National Army Museum, London

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White Mughal. Memoona Sajjad


thanks for many thanks....

not to forget his contribution in the discovery of Vijaynagar empire.....


even the foes of pathans are great

Fascinating history. Thanks for posting.

I think the sash with the long Khyber knife is a Kashmir shawl, such as were also very popular with ladies.

He also had a great role in winning the uprising of 1857.

Alsn made me think of Flashman :-)