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The attack on the Peiwar Kotal, Afghanistan, by 5th Gurkha Rifles, December 1878

Oil on canvas by Vereker Monteith Hamilton (1856-1931), 1890 (c).

The Gurkhas are advancing with Snider rifles fixed with yatagan bayonets up a wooded hillside; the Highlander in the foreground carries the newer Martini-Henry Rifle.

After the declaration of war on Afghanistan in November 1878, a force under the command of Major-General Frederick (later Field Marshal Lord) Roberts advanced along the Kurram Valley towards Kabul. At Peiwar Kotal an enemy force of 18,000 men with 11 artillery pieces was found to be awaiting the invaders.

While a feint attack was made on the Afghans, Roberts commanded a turning movement by the 5th Goorkha Regiment (The Hazara Goorkha Battalion) and other troops, which succeeded in dislodging the enemy, inflicted heavy casualties and captured all their artillery. Roberts lost fewer than 100 killed and wounded. This defeat resulted in the flight of the Amir, Sher Ali, and his replacement by Yakub Khan, who signed the Treaty of Gandamak, ending the first phase of the 2nd Afghan War (1878-1880).

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1951-05-84-1


National Army Museum, Out of Copyright


National Army Museum, Study Collection

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