General Lieutenant Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden..jpg

Lieutenant-General
Sir Harry Burnett "Joe" Lumsden KCSI CB
1821 - 1896

Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Burnett "Joe" Lumsden KCSI CB (12 November 1821 – 12 August 1896) was a British military officer active in India.

Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden

SIR HARRY BURNETT LUMSDEN (1821-1896), Anglo Indian soldier, son of Colonel Thomas Lumsden, C.B., was born on the 12th of November 1821. He joined the 59th Bengal Native Infantry in 18 3 8, was present at the forcing of the Khyber Pass in 1842, and went through the first and second Sikh wars, being wounded at Sobraon. Having become assistant to Sir Henry Lawrence at Lahore in 1846, he was appointed in 1847 to raise the Corps of Guides. The object of this corps, composed of horse and foot, was to provide trustworthy men to act as guides to troops in the field, and also to collect intelligence beyond as well as within the North-West frontier of India. The regiment was located at Mardan on the Peshawar border, and has become one of the most famous in the Indian army. For the equipment of this corps, Lumsden originated the khaki uniform. In 1857 he was sent on a mission to Kandahar with his younger brother, Sir Peter Lumsden, in connexion with the subsidy paid by the Indian government to the amir, and was in Afghanistan throughout the Mutiny. He took part in the Waziri Expedition of 1860, was in command of the Hyderabad Contingent from 1862, and left India in 1869. He became lieutenant-general in 1875, and died on the 12th of August 1896.

See Sir Peter Lumsden and George Elsmie, Lumsden of the Guides (1899).

I The "cock-padle" was formerly esteemed also in Scotland, and figures in the Antiquary, chap. xi.

Background

Lumsden was born aboard the East India Company's ship Rose in the Bay of Bengal. He spent the first six years of his life in Bengal, where his father Colonel Thomas Lumsden was serving as an Artillery officer.[1] His father Thomas entered the Bengal Army in 1808 and served in the Anglo-Nepalese War, Third Anglo-Maratha War and First Anglo-Burmese War achieving distinction.[2] His first cousin once removed was the orientalist Matthew Lumsden. He had six brothers, three of whom emigrated to Canada, whilst his younger brother Peter followed his path to India.  He was sent to Scotland at age six, where he was cared for by his grandmother in Aberdeenshire.

Early Career

At the age of 16, he was nominated by John Shepherd, a fellow Aberdeenshire man and a Director of the East India Company for a direct cadetship in India.[3] He travelled to India in 1838 commissioned into the 59th Bengal Native Infantry. During the First Anglo-Afghan War he was appointed as interpreter and quartermaster to the 33rd Bengal Native Infantry, marching to Peshawar with the army of George Pollock.[1] He was present at the forcing of the Khyber Pass in 1842. During the war he would become close friends with two fellow officers who would also achieve distinction John Nicholson and Neville Bowles Chamberlain.

Following the war he returned to base in Ferozepur, having earned a campaign medal and six months extra pay.[1] In early 1843, he rejoined the 59th Bengal Native Infantry stationed in Ludhiana, indulging in his passion for shikar with hunting expeditions throughout the Punjab. During this time he explored the region, learning near perfect Punjabi and growing accustomed to local customs and traditions.[1]

The Punjab

During the First Anglo-Sikh War, Lumsden served as a commander of a company in his regiment. At the Battle of Sobraon he was part of the storming division on Hugh Gough's left flank. During the escape of the Sikh cavalry, Lumsden was shot in the foot which left him with a slight but permanent limp for the rest of his life.[1]

At the conclusion of the war, Lumsden was hand-picked by Sir Henry Lawrence to become one of his assistants, a band of chosen men who would become known as Henry Lawrence's "Young Men". A number of these assistants had been brought to Lawrence's attention on the battlefield at Sobraon, including John Nicholson, William Hodson and Herbert Edwardes. Lawrence had been a friend of Thomas Lumsden, serving with him as an artillery officers earlier in his career. Lumsden later claimed that what first brought him to the attention of Lawrence was an incident a year or two previously, when he and a subaltern had been held prisoner by a gang of robbers following a shooting expedition on the banks of the Sutlej. A servant smuggled them a pencil and paper allowing them to call for help; help coming in the form of a cavalry led by Lawrence that same evening.[1]

Lumsden's first posting was to Kangra in 1846, where he served out the summer. He was thereafter summoned to Lahore. Whilst in Lahore, he became privy to the politics of the Lahore Durbar, at the time dominated by the Maharani Jind Kaur and her lover Lal Singh.[1] Noting how everyone of the Sirdars made no secret of their dislike for Lal Singh, he concluded that they were anxiously awaiting the time when the British would withdraw, and Lal Singh would consolidate power. In response to the political instability, like many fellow offers, but in contrast to his superior, Lawrence, Lumsden favoured the annexation of the Punjab.[1]

The sale of Kashmir to Gulab Singh had created considerable unrest amongst Kashmiri locals. In late 1846, Lumsden accompanied an expedition led by Lawrence to dispose the incumbent governor Imam ud-Din, who had the backing of Lal Singh and support the new rule of Gulab Singh.[1] On his return to Lahore, Lumsden was given a mission to command a force of Sikh infantry to reconnoitre the hills of Hazara. Despite initial concerns of leading men he had formerly seen as the enemy, and noting their fondness for opium, he would remark of his Sikh sepoys that "they were first rate men, ready for any work, always in the best of humours, fond of their officers, and just as obedient to orders as our own troops, and not giving one quarter the trouble as the latter do."[1] Lumsden's mission was a success and he received the thanks of the government, and what he prized more, the approbation of Henry Lawrence.[1]

Corps of Guides

During the First Anglo-Sikh War, Lumsden served as a commander of a company in his regiment. At the Battle of Sobraon he was part of the storming division on Hugh Gough's left flank. During the escape of the Sikh cavalry, Lumsden was shot in the foot which left him with a slight but permanent limp for the rest of his life.[1]

At the conclusion of the war, Lumsden was hand-picked by Sir Henry Lawrence to become one of his assistants, a band of chosen men who would become known as Henry Lawrence's "Young Men". A number of these assistants had been brought to Lawrence's attention on the battlefield at Sobraon, including John Nicholson, William Hodson and Herbert Edwardes. Lawrence had been a friend of Thomas Lumsden, serving with him as an artillery officers earlier in his career. Lumsden later claimed that what first brought him to the attention of Lawrence was an incident a year or two previously, when he and a subaltern had been held prisoner by a gang of robbers following a shooting expedition on the banks of the Sutlej. A servant smuggled them a pencil and paper allowing them to call for help; help coming in the form of a cavalry led by Lawrence that same evening.[1]

Lumsden's first posting was to Kangra in 1846, where he served out the summer. He was thereafter summoned to Lahore. Whilst in Lahore, he became privy to the politics of the Lahore Durbar, at the time dominated by the Maharani Jind Kaur and her lover Lal Singh.[1] Noting how everyone of the Sirdars made no secret of their dislike for Lal Singh, he concluded that they were anxiously awaiting the time when the British would withdraw, and Lal Singh would consolidate power. In response to the political instability, like many fellow offers, but in contrast to his superior, Lawrence, Lumsden favoured the annexation of the Punjab.[1]

The sale of Kashmir to Gulab Singh had created considerable unrest amongst Kashmiri locals. In late 1846, Lumsden accompanied an expedition led by Lawrence to dispose the incumbent governor Imam ud-Din, who had the backing of Lal Singh and support the new rule of Gulab Singh.[1] On his return to Lahore, Lumsden was given a mission to command a force of Sikh infantry to reconnoitre the hills of Hazara. Despite initial concerns of leading men he had formerly seen as the enemy, and noting their fondness for opium, he would remark of his Sikh sepoys that "they were first rate men, ready for any work, always in the best of humours, fond of their officers, and just as obedient to orders as our own troops, and not giving one quarter the trouble as the latter do."[1] Lumsden's mission was a success and he received the thanks of the government, and what he prized more, the approbation of Henry Lawrence.[1]

North West Frontier

In the years after the annexation of the Punjab, Lumsden was largely concerned with affairs of the border tribes. In 1849, he assisted in an expedition against the Baizai, who had been refusing to pay tribute to the British.[6] The next year, he replaced John Lawrence as the political agent in Peshawar whilst Lawrence recuperated from fever in Shimla.[6] Later that year he was part of a force moving against Afridi tribesmen who had attacked engineers building a road through the Kohat Pass killing twelve and wounding eight.[11] Lumsden had favoured friendly relations with the hill tribes, especially the Afridis, as he feared military occupation would be prohibitively costly in terms of lives and treasure and his views were cordially endorsed by the new military commander in Peshawar, Sir Colin Campbell.[6] Their views however gave way to the orders of the Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie, who demanded an iron handed response.[6]

Throughout the summer of 1851, Mohmand tribesmen harassed the borders of British control. Lord Dalhousie advised that punishment should be as severe as was consistent with humanity, however such retaliation was opposed by both Lumsden and Campbell.[6] They were able to convince Dalhousie to attempt measures of prevention rather than retaliation, however as the skirmishes continued, Dalhousie grew more incensed, and ordered military intervention. Campbell launched an expedition with Lumsden at his side, noting that "Lumsden's views, those of common sense, are the most prudent and best....Punish those of the leading men who have shown emnity or have done injury to those who are bound to protect but leave the cultivators of the soil upon the land unmolested".[6] As operations became drawn out, criticism grew. On 5 January 1852, Dalhousie sacked Lumsden as Commissioner in Peshawar replacing him with Frederick Mackeson.

Later Life

In 1852, Lumsden took leave in Britain after fifteen years continuous service in India. On 1 March 1853 he was promoted to captain and on 6 February 1854 was made a brevet Major for services in the last Sikh war. He returned to India in 1855 and resumed command of the Guides.

In 1857 he was sent on a mission to Kandahar with his younger brother Peter and Henry Bellew to assess the current military and political situation in Afghanistan. In May 1857, the Indian Mutiny broke out, causing Lumsden to fear for his safety six hundred miles from the nearest British post in Jacobabad and dependent entirely on the caprice of the Amir.[12] Lumsden, relying on regular updates from Herbert Edwardes in Peshawar, requested permission to return to India, but his service in Afghanistan was deemed vital in the interests of the Empire by the Governor General.[13] On 1 September 1857 he received news from his friend John Nicholson that his younger brother William had been killed in Delhi, whilst later that month he was informed Nicholson himself had been killed.[13] On 15 May 1858, Lumsden was instructed to return to India. He was gazetted lieutenant-colonel and resumed life with the Guides. His services were recognised by John Lawrence who remarked of him:[14]

"One of the ablest and best military officers in the service. He has distinguished himself in the Afghan war, both the Punjab wars, and in most of the border fights on the Peshawar frontier in the last ten years. He raised, organised and commanded the famous Guide corps. While he was absent at Kandahar, the corps performed excellent service before Delhi. Therefore, in undertaking the Candahar mission, Major Lumsden missed the opportunity of commanding his corps and of winning rank and distinction before Delhi; while on the other hand he gained little but honour and risk in the interior in Afghanistan".

In 1860 he served under his friend Neville Bowles Chamberlain in the Waziri Expedition. On 2 August 1860, whilst attending a regimental ball practice an assassin grabbed his sword and struck his arm. The assassin was subsequently apprehended by a Guide. In 1862, he was offered and accepted the command of the Nizam of Hyderabad's army in the Deccan. He pithily summarised his service in the Deccan saying, "ffound the Hyderabad Contingent in debt, and left it clear."[15]

In 1866, whilst on leave in Britain he married Fanny Myers of Cumberland. He returned to India in November the same year, and resided in Aurangabad with his wife. In 1869 his commission in Hyderabad expired and with no immediate prospects available in India, he resolved to return to England on leave.[16] Before returning, he rested some months in the Deccan on account of his wife's health. In the spring of 1869, on the invitation of Lord Mayo he travelled to Ambala for the Durbar of Sher Ali Khan, affording him the change to re-acquaint with old friends and comrades.[17]

Lumsden left India with his wife on 12 April 1869, never to return. On the death of his father in 1874 he inherited the family estate in Belhelvie and made it their permanent home. He was made a Knight Commander of the Star of India in 1873 and retired in 1875 with the honorary rank of Lieutenant-General. He died on 12 August 1896 in Belhevlie following a short illness and was buried in the local church graveyard.

Born  12 November 1821
On board the Rose, Bay of Bengal

Died  12 August 1896 (aged 74)
Belhelvie, Scotland, United Kingdom

Buried  Belhelvie Kirkyard

Allegiance East India Company
British India

Service/branch  Bengal army

Years of service  1841-1882

Rank  Lieutenant-General

Battles/wars 

First Anglo-Afghan War
First Anglo-Sikh War
Second Anglo-Sikh War
Indian Rebellion

Awards 

Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India
Companion of the Order of the Bath

Spouse(s)

Fanny Myers  (m. 1866)

The Guides Cavalry Frontier Force

The Corps of Guides was raised at Peshawar on 14 December 1846 by Lieutenant Harry Burnett Lumsden on the orders of Sir Henry Lawrence, the British Resident at Lahore, capital of the enfeebled Sikh Empire. Initially composed of a troop of cavalry and two companies of infantry mounted on camels, the Guides were organized as a highly mobile force. The corps was ordered to recruit,

Trustworthy men, who could, at a moment's notice, act as guides to troops in the field; men capable, too, of collecting trustworthy intelligence beyond, as well as within, our borders; and, in addition to all this, men, ready to give and take hard blows, whether on the frontier or in a wider field.[1]

These were qualities that would become the hallmark of the Guides. Although the corps recruited men from all over the country and even beyond the Frontier of India, Pathans, Punjabi Muslims, Sikhs and Dogras later formed the bulk of their manpower.[2]

Harry Lumsden was the perfect choice to train and lead this corps d'elite:

He was a man of strong character, athletic, brave, resolute, cool and resourceful in emergency; a man of rare ability and natural aptitude for war, and possessed, moreover, of that magnetic influence which communicates the highest confidence and devotion to those who follow. Lumsden upheld the principle that the greatest and best school for war is war itself. He believed in the elasticity which begets individual self-confidence, and preferred a body of men taught to act and fight with personal intelligence.[1]

Lumsden left a lasting imprint on the Guides, who soon showed their mettle in numerous frontier operations. Believing that fighting troops were for service and not for show, Lumsden introduced loose and comfortable dust-coloured uniforms for the first time, which would soon become famous as "khaki"[3] and within decades would be adopted by most of the armies of the world. In 1851, the Guides established themselves at Mardan, which would remain their cherished home until 1938.[1]

In 1851, The Corps of Guides became part of the Punjab Irregular Force, which later became famous as the Punjab Frontier Force or Piffers. The Piffers consisted of five regiments of cavalry, eleven regiments of infantry and five batteries of artillery besides the Corps of Guides. Their mission was to maintain order on the Punjab Frontier;[4] a task they performed with great aplomb during the next fifty years.[5]

Lumsden (1821-1896) wears the uniform of the Queen's Own Corps of Guides, which was originally known as 'Lumsden's Guides' and which he was responsible for raising in 1846. He is also credited with the introduction of khaki (of which drab is a specific shade) for uniform. The light brown cotton clothing which he ordered for his men was dyed with river mud, and the colour was known as 'khaki'. 'Khaki' is a Persian term for earth-coloured or dusty. Khaki was worn extensively in India during the Indian Mutiny (1857-1859) and eventually it came to be used by most armies throughout the world.

Lumsden was married to Mary Marriott in 1862.[16] His father was Colonel Thomas Lumsden CB,[2] with one of his three older brothers being Harry Burnett Lumsden. Thomas Lumsden was a distinguished officer of the Bengal Horse Artillery who had served in the Nepal Campaign of 1814 and at the siege of Hatrass and the capture of Kalunga in 1817.[18][19] Thomas was himself the son of Harry Lumsden, an advocate in Aberdeen who had bought an estate at Belhelvie. He returned home on leave from the Bengal Army in 1819 to marry Hay Burnett of Elrick, and went on to serve another 23 years in India before retiring to Belhelvie in 1842. They had a total of six sons, of whom three emigrated to Canada and two (Harry and Peter) followed in their father's footsteps by pursuing military careers in India.[20]

References

    • Younghusband, Col GJ. (1908). The Story of the Guides. London: MacMillan.

    • Hayauddin, Maj Gen M. (1950). One Hundred Glorious Years: A History of the Punjab Frontier Force, 1849-1949. Lahore: Civil and Military Gazette Press.

    • From the Urdu word "khak" meaning "dust". The clothing was dyed using mulberry juice to produce the drab colour - a pinkish shade of khaki.

    • Until 1903, North West Frontier Province was part of the Punjab.

    • North, REFG. (1934). The Punjab Frontier Force: A Brief Record of Their Services 1846-1924. DI Khan: Commercial Steam Press.

    • Gaylor, John (1991). Sons of John Company: The Indian and Pakistan Armies 1903–91. Stroud: Spellmount.

    • Khan, Maj Muhammad Nawaz. (1996). The Glorious Piffers 1843-1995. Abbottabad: The Frontier Force Regimental Centre.

    • Khan, Maj Gen Fazal Muqeem. (1996). History of the 2nd Battalion (Guides) Frontier Force Regiment 1947-1994. Rawalpindi: The Army Press.

    • Forbes, Cynthia. 1910 ... and then?.

    • MM Kaye's husband, Major General Goff Hamilton was an officer of the Guides Cavalry.

    • Sandhu, Maj Gen GS. (1991). The Indian Armour: History of the Indian Armoured Corps (1941-71). New Delhi: Vision Books.

    • Husain, Maj Gen Abrar. (2005). Men of Steel: 6 Armoured Division in the 1965 War. War Despatches of Major General Abrar Husain. Rawalpindi: Army Education Publishing House.

    • Ahmed, Lt Gen Mahmud. (2006). History of Indo-Pak War – 1965. Rawalpindi: Services Book Club.

    • The Sabre & Lance: Journal of the Pakistan Armoured Corps. (1997). Nowshera: The School of Armour & Mechanised Warfare.

    • Rodger, Alexander. (2003). Battle Honours of the British Empire and Commonwealth Land Forces 1662-1991. Ramsbury: The Crowood Press.