Thomas Skinner (soldier)

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Thomas Skinner (1800? 1843), was a British soldier and author. He commanded the 31st Foot in the First Anglo-Afghan War in 1842 and 1843. While there he was made a C.B. and brevet lieutenant-colonel. In 1832 he had published Excursions in India and four years later Adventures during a Journey Overland to India. [1]

First Anglo-Afghan War one of the first major conflicts during the Great Game

The First Anglo-Afghan War was fought between the British East India Company and the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1839 to 1842. Initially, the British successfully intervened in a succession dispute between emir Dost Mohammad (Barakzai) and former emir Shah Shujah (Durrani), whom they installed upon conquering Kabul in August 1839. The main British Indian and Sikh force occupying Kabul along with their camp followers, having endured harsh winters as well, was almost completely annihilated while retreating in January 1842. The British then sent an Army of Retribution to Kabul to avenge their defeat, and having demolished parts of the capital and recovered prisoners they left Afghanistan altogether by the end of the year. Dost Mohamed returned from exile in India to resume his rule.


Born about 1800, he was son of Lieutenant-general John Skinner. He entered the army on 25 January 1816 as an ensign in the 16th Foot; he became lieutenant on 6 August 1819, captain on 9 October 1823, and exchanged into the 31st Foot on 25 March 1824. [1]

Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank acquired the name. This rank has generally been replaced in army ranks by second lieutenant. Ensigns were generally the lowest ranking commissioned officer, except where the rank of subaltern existed. In contrast, the Arab rank of ensign, لواء, liwa', derives from the command of units with an ensign, not the carrier of such a unit's ensign, and is today the equivalent of a major general.

Skinner went with his regiment to India shortly before 1826, and was stationed at Hardwar, in the North-West provinces, near the foot of the Himalayas. He made expeditions into little-known mountainous districts, and wrote up his explorations in Excursions in India (London, 1832). After returning home on leave, he went back to India in 1833 by the overland route through Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. He travelled down the Euphrates, and embarked on the Persian Gulf. He published an account of this journey in Adventures during a Journey Overland to India (London, 1836). [1]

Haridwar City in Uttarakhand, India

Haridwar (; local pronunciation , also spelled Hardwar, is an ancient city and municipality in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India. According to popular Hindu legend, it was here that Goddess Ganga when Lord Shiva released the mighty river from the locks of his hair. The River Ganga, after flowing for 253 kilometres from its source at Gaumukh at the edge of the Gangotri Glacier, enters the Gangetic Plain for the first time at Haridwar, which gave the city its ancient name, Gangadwára.

Euphrates river in Asia

The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia. Originating in eastern Turkey, the Euphrates flows through Syria and Iraq to join the Tigris in the Shatt al-Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf.

Persian Gulf An arm of the Indian Ocean in western Asia

The Persian Gulf, is a mediterranean sea in Western Asia. The body of water is an extension of the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz and lies between Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest. The Shatt al-Arab river delta forms the northwest shoreline.

On 24 November 1835 Skinner attained the rank of major, and in 1842 he joined the force assembled at Jalalabad under Sir George Pollock for the relief of Kabul. He commanded the 31st Foot in the campaign, and on 26 July 1842 was present at the conflict of Mazeena, near Jalalabad. He accompanied Pollock's advance, and was given the task of clearing the hills on the left of the valley of Tezin in the engagement there on 13 September. [1]

Jalalabad Place in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan

Jalālābād, or Dzalalabad, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. It is the capital of Nangarhar Province. Jalalabad is located at the junction of the Kabul River and the Kunar River. It is linked by an approximately 150-kilometre (95 mi) highway with Kabul to the west, and a 130-kilometre (80 mi) highway with the Pakistani city of Peshawar to the east. Jalalabad has a population of 356,274, making it one of the five largest cities of Afghanistan.

Kabul Metropolis and municipality in Afghanistan

Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipality, forming part of the greater Kabul Province. According to estimates in 2015, the population of Kabul is 4.635 million, which includes all the major ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Rapid urbanization had made Kabul the world's 75th largest city.

Skinner received for his services the Cross of the Order of the Bath and the Cabul medal, and was gazetted on 23 December to the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel. He died at Landaur on 6 May 1843, in bad health from the campaign. [1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Wikisource-logo.svg  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Skinner, Thomas (1800?-1843)". Dictionary of National Biography . 52. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 349.

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