'The Amir Yakub Khan...', 1879.
© NMeM / Kodak Collection / Science & Society
A photograph of a British cavalry escort at an historic meeting in the rugged plains of Afghanistan, taken by John Burke [1845-1900] in 1879. This photograph is from an album entitled 'The Afghan War, Attogk to Jellalabad, Gandamak and Surkhab'. As the escort of British cavalry look on, the Amir Yaqub Khan [ d 1914] can be seen in the road on the left meeting with Major Sir Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari [1841-1879]. Defeats at Ali Masjid and Peiwar Kotal had forced the Amir, Afghanistan's new ruler, to accept a humiliating peace with the British which included accepting Major Cavagnari as envoy in Kabul. However, widespread resentment at the British presence led to an attack on the British residency in Kabul on 3 September 1879. Despite fighting bravely, Cavagnari and his small escort were killed. This in turn led the British to resume the war to avenge their deaths. A pioneer of photography in India, John Burke began working in Peshawar, as an assistant to the commercial photo