Cavagnari and Sirdars


Cavagnari was an interesting choice of envoy. He was the son of an Italian Aristocrat and Irish mother, he managed to get his posting through his personal friendship with Lord Lytton. Earlier he had been brought up in Britain entering the East India College at Addiscombe. He served with the 1st Bengal Fusiliers during the Mutiny. He then transferred to the Political service becoming Deputy Commissioner at Peshawar. His knowledge of the frontier situation made him a natural choice for the post of envoy to Kabul. However, his off handed manners were not to endear him to the Afghans to whom he represented national humiliation by the British. His murder at Kabul turned him into something of a Victorian hero.

The picture was taken in 1879 of Cavagnari attempting to liaise with the local Afghan Sirdars in Gandamak in 1879.

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by Stephen Luscombe