The Second Anglo – Sikh War

The Second Anglo-Sikh War was a military conflict between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company that took place in 1848 and 1849. It resulted in the fall of the Sikh Empire, and the annexation of the Punjab and what subsequently became the North-West Frontier Province, by the East India Company.

On April 19, 1848 Vans Agnew of the civil service and Lieutenant Anderson of the Bombay European regiment, having been sent to take charge of Multan from Diwan Mulraj, were murdered there, and within a short time the Sikh troops and sardars joined in open rebellion. Governor-General of India Lord Dalhousie agreed with Sir Hugh Gough, the commander-in-chief, that the British East India Company’s military forces were neither adequately equipped with transport and supplies, nor otherwise prepared to take the field immediately. He also foresaw the spread of the rebellion, and the necessity that must arise, not merely for the capture of Multan, but also for the entire subjugation of the Punjab. He therefore resolutely delayed to strike, organized a strong army for operations in November, and himself proceeded to the Punjab. Despite the brilliant successes gained by Herbert Edwardes in the Second Anglo-Sikh War with Mulraj, and Gough’s indecisive victories at Ramnagar in November, at Sadulapur in December, and at the Battle of Chillianwala on January 13, 1849, the stubborn resistance at Multan showed that the task required the utmost resources of the government. At length, on January 22, the Multan fortress was taken by General Whish, who was thus set at liberty to join Gough at Gujarat. Here a complete victory was won on the February 21 at the Battle of Gujarat, the Sikh army surrendered at Rawalpindi, and their Afghan allies were chased out of India.

After the victory at Gujarat, Lord Dalhousie annexed the Punjab for the East India Company in 1849. For his services the Earl of Dalhousie received the thanks of the British parliament and a step in the peerage, as marquess.

The Sikh Wars gave the two sides a mutual respect for each other’s fighting prowess. The Sikhs would fight loyally for the British in the Indian Mutiny and in many other campaigns and wars up until Indian Independence in 1947.

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