American Turban

Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Americans

Alexander Haughton Campbell Gardner (1785-1877), originally from Wisconsin, served as a colonel in Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army from 1831-1849. He was one of three Americans to serve the Sikh empire. (Source: Wikipedia)

Alexander Haughton Campbell Gardner (1785-1877), originally from Wisconsin, served as a colonel in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army from 1831-1849. He was one of three Americans to serve the Sikh empire. (Source: Wikipedia)

While we often discuss the first Sikhs who arrived in the United States (as early as the end of the 18th century, and more commonly in the early 20th), a recent article by Kulbir Colin Singh Dhillon provides short biographies about the earliest recorded Americans who served Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab in the first half of the 19th century:

In March 2007 whilst doing research on the Sikh Kingdom I came across a newspaper article titled, “A Yankee in the court of Maharajah Ranjit Singh” which described the life of one Alexander Haughton Campbell Gardner, an American who became a Colonel in the Sikh Kingdom. I found this intriguing, considering I knew about the British, French and Italians, not to mention the Spanish, German, Austrian and Russians serving the great Maharajah, some of whom had previously served the great Napoleon Bonaparte, was known to pay the Europeans handsomely for their knowledge of Industrial revolutionized arms and war tactics. (Though India was advanced in many other facets of life, the dynamic power of steel and steam had not quite reached its shores). A Yankee who travelled over 8,000 miles did make me raise an eyebrow.

As I began to read about Gardner I stumbled across Josiah Harlan, and then Colonel Canora; there was not one, but three Americans in the Sikh Kingdom.

Read the full article on The Sikh Foundation website.

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