Colonel Alexander Gardner called Gordana Khan was born in Wisconsin in 1785. His father was Scottish and his mother was Anglo-Spanish. He traveled to Ireland around 1809, and returned to the USA in 1812. His father had died, and so he returned to Europe.
He traveled through Russia and Central Asia for many years. In 1823, he was captured in Afghanistan by Habib Ullah Khan, the nephew of Dost Mohammed Khan. Habib Ullah was fighting his uncle for the throne of Afghanistan. Habib Ullah recruited Alexander and made him a commander of 180 horsemen.
After capturing a princess of Dosts’ harem to be held for ransom, and triumph in an ensuing skirmish, Alexander was rewarded in lieu of gold, with marriage to a native girl who accompanied the princess. He and his wife had a son. Both mother and child died tragically when Habib Ullah was defeated. His wife took her own life rather than be dishonored by invaders. Badly wounded Alexander Gardner fled north.
For the next few years Alexander wandered through Asia, and had a variety of adventures in Badakshan, Kafirstan, and Afghanistan.
In August of 1831, he arrived in Punjab, where he was appointed a Commander of Artillery. He served there for many years and then was transferred to the services of Raja Ranjit Singh. Gardner was promoted to the rank Colonel by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and he continued to serve in the Sikh Army after Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839. After the first Anglo-Sikh War, he joined the service of Gulab Singh in Kashmir. He spent the rest of his life in Srinagar.
Soldier and Traveler
Memoirs of Alexander Gardner
Colonel of Artillery in Service of Maharaja Ranjit Singh