|LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR HARRY
BURNETT LUMSDEN, C.B., K.C.S.I.
Harry Burnett Lumsden (knows as Joe to his friends) was the eldest
son of Colonel Thomas Lumsden, C.B., of the Bengal Artillery and his
wife Hay, youngest daughter of John Burnett of Elrick. He was born
aboard the HEIC ship Rose in the Bay of Bengal on the 12th of
Having been educated in Scotland, in 1828 at age 16 he returned to
his family in India. A year later, in March of 1838, he was
commissioned an Ensign in the Bengal infantry.
In 1842 Lumsden was promoted Lieutenant and served as Interpreter
and Quarter Master to the 33rd Regiment with General Pollock’s
Force in Afghanistan. He was present at the forcing of the Khyber
Pass and the operations in the Mazeena and Sungoo Khale Valleys
under Brigadier Monteith, the battle of Tazeen, the forcing of the
Jugdulluck Pass, and the recapture of Cabul. (Medal.)
During the Sutlej campaign in 1846 he served as Interpreter and
Quarter Master to the 59th Native Infantry. He was severely
wounded with the attacking column at the battle of Sobraon. (Medal.)
In April of 1846 he was appointed extra-assistant to the Governor-
General’s Agent of the Northwest Provinces at Lahore, Sir Henry
Lawrence. He was present with a Brigade of Sikhs against fanatical
Hindostanees and also took part in the forcing of the Doob Pass and
the affair at Ballakote and for which he received the thanks of the
government for his services.
He was subsequently ordered to raise and command a unit to be known as the Corps of Guides, consisting of both infantry and
cavalry. The object of the Corps was to provide trustworthy men to act as guides to troops in the field and to collect
intelligence both in and beyond the boundaries of the Northwest Frontier of India. Lunsdem commanded the Corps of Guides at
the siege of Multan in January of 1847. They cut up a strong detachment of rebel Sikh infantry under Maharajah Gunda Singh’
s in Golab Singh’s territory and he again received the thanks of the Government. He also commanded the Corps of Guides at the
battle of Goojerat. (Mention in Despatches, Brevet of Major, medal with two clasps.)
The Corps of Guides was stationed at Mardan on the Peshawar border and became one of the most famous and respected native
regiments in the Indian army. For the equipment of the Corps, Lumsden originated the khaki uniform in 1848. Lumsden
commanded the Guides in sixteen affairs with Hill Tribes on the Peshawar Frontier including Lieutenant-Colonel G. St. Lawrence’s
attack on Baboozie, Pulie Zoormundie, and Shere Khanie in 1847, Lieutenant-Colonel Bradshaw’s attack on the same villages and
the villages of Suggow and Moora in 1850, and Sir Colin Campbell’s affairs of Dubb, Nawadund, Planghar and Iskakote in 1852.
Lunsdem was promoted Captain in February of 1854, and Brevet-Major the same year.
In 1857, prior to the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, Brevet-Major Lunsdem was sent on a political mission to Kandahar with his
younger brother, Sir Peter Lumsden, I.S.C., in connection with a subsidy paid by the Indian government to the Amir. Although
the Guides stayed loyal to the British and did good service against the rebels during the Mutiny, particularly at siege and
capture of Delhi, Lumsden remained in Afghanistan throughout the entire period of the Indian Mutiny. Although Lumsden again
received the thanks of the government for his services during his diplomatic mission to Afghanistan, Lumsden missed the
opportunity to command his regiment during the largest and most important campaign to occur during his career and a Bengal
Lumsden commanded the Guides in Brigadier General Chamberlain’s expedition in 1859 against the Cabul Khels and the Mahsud
Wuzeerees. He also commanded the left attack at the forcing of the Barrera Pass, as well as Camp Pulloseen when a heavy night
attack was repulsed and the enemy severely punished. (Medal with clasp.)
In May of 1858, Lumsden was promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel. In December of 1859, in recognition of his services in
Afghanistan he was made a Commander of the Bath (Civil Division). He was promoted Major in 1861.
On the 2nd of August, 1862, Lumsden was severely wounded by a Muslim fanatic who severely wounded him in the left arm with a
sword while attempting to decapitate him. In the same year, Lumsden was promoted Brevet Colonel and appointed to command the
Hyderabad Contingent with Lieutenant-Colonel Wilde succeeding Lumsden as the commander of the Corps of Guides. Lumsden
was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1864.
While on furlough to England in September of 1866, Lumsden married Fanny, the daughter of Rev. C. J. Myers of Dunningwell,
Cumberland. He returned to India with his new wife, setting her up in residence at Auragnabad while he continued to command
the Hyderabad Contingent. In March of 1867, Lumsden was arm was severely mauled by a wounded leopard while hunting.
In 1868, Lumsden was promoted Major-General and in 1869, having command the Hyderabad Contingent for the maximum
allowable period and with no suitable command being available, Lumsden returned to England with his wife. He was knighted in
1873 when he was made a Knight Commander of the Star of India, and was promoted Lieutenant-General in 1875. Declining to
accept command of a division in India in September of 1865, he chose instead to retired from the Army.
Following his retirement from the Army, Lieutenant-General Lumsden returned to the Lumsden family home, Belhelvie Lodge, near
Aberdeen, and continued to reside there until his death on the 12th of August, 1896. He was buried in the old Churchyard of
Times, 13 August 1895, Obituary.
Lumsden of the Guides, P. Lumsden and G. Elsmie, London, 1900.
Hart’s Annual Army List for 1899, H.G. Hart, London.