Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in 1839 after a reign of nearly forty years, leaving seven sons by different wives, none of whom was a worthy successor to the ‘Lion of the Panjab’. Two main factions, the Hindu Dogra brothers and the Sikh aristocracy, fought for control.
Kharrak Singh was the first successor, but his weakness, indolence and opium addiction, allowed his son, Nau Nihal Singh, to become effective ruler within two months. The following year he was dead, and Nau Nihal Singh was killed the day after his father’s funeral by falling masonry.
After a stormy interval, Sher Singh became maharaja early in 1841. An impressive figure, he was painted by many of the foreign visitors to the court, including August Schoefft and Emily Eden. With the army in open mutiny and the British hovering on his borders, Sher Singh was forced to make drastic changes in his foreign policy. None was more difficult than when he welcomed to Lahore the former enemy of the Sikhs, Dost Muhammad Khan, as he travelled to Kabul to regain the throne of Afghanistan.
Violent deaths continued, including Sher Singh’s own, in 1843. Finally, the only remaining son of Ranjit Singh became maharaja: the seven-year-old Dalip Singh. Real power rested with the Dogras, whose leading figures were Hira Singh, the former favourite of Ranjit Singh, and Gulab Singh, a loyal supporter of Ranjit Singh who now offered his services to the British in the event of war against the Sikh kingdom.
First Anglo-Sikh War
The First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company between 1845 and 1846. It resulted in partial subjugation of the Sikh kingdom and cession of Jammu and Kashmir as a separate princely state under British suzerainty.
Background and causes of the war
The Sikh kingdom of Punjab was expanded and consolidated by Maharajah Ranjit Singh during the early years of the nineteenth century, about the same time as the British-controlled territories were advanced by conquest or annexation to the borders of the Punjab. Ranjit Singh maintained a policy of wary friendship with the British, ceding some territory south of the Sutlej River, while at the same time building up his military forces both to deter aggression by the British and to wage war against the Afghans. He hired American and European mercenary soldiers to train his artillery, and also incorporated contingents of Hindus and Muslims into his army.
Aided by disunity among the Afghans, the Sikhs conquered the cities and provinces of Peshawar and Multan from them, and also incorporated the states of Jammu and Kashmir into their empire. Once order was restored in Afghanistan, the British became obsessed with the idea that Emir Dost Mohammed Khan of Afghanistan was conspiring with Imperial Russia and launched the First Anglo-Afghan War to replace him with the compliant Shuja Shah Durrani. This move had Sikh support, in return for the formal cessation of Peshawar to the Sikhs by Shuja Shah. Initially successful, the British invasion took a disastrous turn with the Massacre of Elphinstone’s Army, which lowered the prestige of the British, and the Bengal Army of the British East India Company in particular. The British finally withdrew from Afghanistan, and from Peshawar which they held as an advance base, in 1842.
Events in the Punjab
Ranjit Singh died in 1839. Almost immediately, his kingdom began to fall into disorder. Ranjit’s unpopular legitimate son, Kharak Singh, was removed from power within a few months, and later died in prison under mysterious circumstances. It was widely believed that he was poisoned. He was replaced by his able but estranged son Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh, who also died within a few months in suspicious circumstances, after being injured by a falling archway at the Lahore Fort while returning from his father’s cremation.
At the time, two major factions within the Punjab were contending for power and influence: the Sikh Sindhanwalias and the Hindu Dogras. The Dogras succeeded in raising Sher Singh, the eldest illegitimate son of Ranjit Singh, to the throne in January 1841. The most prominent Sindhanwalias took refuge on British territory, but had many adherents among the Army of the Punjab.
The army was expanding rapidly in the aftermath of Ranjit Singh’s death, from 29,000 (with 192 guns) in 1839 to over 80,000 in 1845 as landlords and their retainers took up arms. It proclaimed itself to be the embodiment of the Sikh nation. Its regimental panchayats(committees) formed an alternative power source within the kingdom, declaring that Guru Gobind Singh’s ideal of the Sikh commonwealth had been revived, with the Sikhs as a whole assuming all executive, military and civil authority in the State, which British observers decried as a “dangerous military democracy”. British representatives and visitors in the Punjab described the regiments as preserving “puritanical” order internally, but also as being in a perpetual state of mutiny or rebellion against the central Durbar (court).
Maharajah Sher Singh was unable to meet the pay demands of the army, although he reportedly lavished funds on a degenerate court. In September 1843 he was murdered by his cousin, an officer of the army, Ajit Singh Sindhanwalia. The Dogras took their revenge on those responsible, and Jind Kaur, Ranjit Singh’s youngest widow, became regent for her infant son Duleep Singh. After the vizier Hira Singh was killed, while attempting to flee the capital with loot from the royal treasury (toshkana), by troops under Sham Singh Attariwala, Jind Kaur’s brother Jawahar Singh became vizier in December 1844. In 1845 he arranged the assassination of Peshaura Singh, who presented a threat to Duleep Singh. For this, he was called to account by the army. Despite attempts to bribe the army he was butchered in September 1845 in the presence of Jind Kaur and Duleep Singh.
Jind Kaur publicly vowed revenge against her brother’s murderers. She remained regent. Lal Singh became vizier, and Tej Singh became commander of the army. Sikh historians have stressed that both these men were prominent in the Dogra faction. Originally high caste Hindus from outside the Punjab, both had converted to Sikhism in 1818.
Immediately after the death of Ranjit Singh, the British East India Company had begun increasing its military strength, particularly in the regions adjacent to the Punjab, establishing a military cantonment at Ferozepur, only a few miles from the Sutlej River which marked the frontier between British-ruled India and the Punjab. In 1843, they conquered and annexed Sindh, to the south of the Punjab, in a move which many British people regarded as cynical and ignoble. This did not gain the British any respect in the Punjab, and increased suspicions of British motives.
The actions and attitudes of the British, under Governor General Lord Ellenborough and his successor, Sir Henry Hardinge, are disputed. By most British accounts, their main concern was that the Sikh army, without strong leadership to restrain them, was a serious threat to British territories along the border. Sikh and Indian historians have countered that the military preparations made by these Governors-General were offensive in nature; for example, they prepared bridging trains and siege gun batteries, which would be unlikely to be required in a purely defensive operation.
The British attitudes were affected by reports from their new political agent in the frontier districts, Major George Broadfoot, who stressed the disorder in the Punjab and recounted every tale of corrupt behaviour at the court. For some British officials, there was a strong desire to expand British influence and control into the Punjab, as it was the only remaining formidable force that could threaten the British hold in India and the last remaining independent kingdom not under British influence. The kingdom was also renowned for being the wealthiest, the Koh-i-Noor being but one of its many treasures. Despite this, it is unlikely that the British East India Company would have deliberately attempted to annex the Punjab had the war not occurred, as they simply did not have the manpower or resources to keep a hold on the territories (as proven by the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Sikh War).
Nevertheless, the unconcealed and seemingly aggressive British military build-up at the borders had the effect of increasing tension within the Punjab and the Sikh Army.
Outbreak and course of the war
After mutual demands and accusations between the Sikh Durbar and the East India Company, diplomatic relations were broken. An East India Company army began marching towards Ferozepur, where a division was already stationed. This army was commanded by Sir Hugh Gough, the Commander in Chief of the Bengal Army, and was accompanied by Sir Henry Hardinge, the British Governor General of Bengal, who placed himself beneath Gough in the military chain of command. The British East India Company forces consisted of formations of the Bengal Army, with usually one British unit to every three or four Bengal infantry or cavalry units. Most of the artillery on the British side consisted of light guns from the elite Bengal Horse Artillery.
The Sikh Army at that time was led by General Raja Lal Singh who, with Tej Singh, betrayed the Sikhs during the course of the war. Lal Singh was regularly supplying information and even receiving instructions from British officers.
In response to the British move, the Sikh army began crossing the Sutlej on 11 December 1845. Although the leaders and principal units of the army were Sikhs, there were also Punjabi, Pakhtun and Kashmiri infantry units. The artillery consisted mainly of units of heavy guns, which had been organised and trained by European mercenaries.
The Sikhs claimed they were only moving into Sikh possessions (specifically the village of Moran, whose ownership was disputed) on the east side of the river, but the move was regarded by the British as clearly hostile and they declared war. One Sikh army under Tej Singh advanced towards Ferozepur but made no effort to surround or attack the exposed British division there. Another force under Lal Singh clashed with Gough’s and Hardinge’s advancing forces at the Battle of Mudki on 18 December. The British won an untidy encounter battle.
On the next day, the British came in sight of the large Sikh entrenchment at Ferozeshah. Gough wished to attack at once, but Hardinge used his position as Governor General to overrule him and order him to wait for the division from Ferozepur to arrive. When they appeared late on 21 December, Gough attacked in the few hours of daylight left. The well-served Sikh artillery caused heavy casualties among the British, and their infantry fought desperately. On the other hand, the elite of the Sikh army, the irregular cavalry or ghodachadas (alt. gorracharra, horse-mounted), were comparatively ineffective against Gough’s infantry and cavalry as they had been kept from the battlefield by Lal Singh.
By nightfall, some of Gough’s army had fought their way into the Sikh positions, but other units had been driven back in disorder. Hardinge expected a defeat on the following day and ordered the state papers at Mudki to be burned in this event. However, on the following morning, the British and Bengal Army units rallied and drove the Sikhs from the rest of their fortifications. Lal Singh had made no effort to rally or reorganise his army. At this point, Tej Singh’s army appeared. Once again, Gough’s exhausted army faced defeat and disaster, but Tej Singh inexplicably withdrew, claiming that British cavalry and artillery which were withdrawing to replenish ammunition were actually making an outflanking move.
Operations temporarily halted, mainly because Gough’s army was exhausted and required rest and reinforcements. The Sikhs were temporarily dismayed by their defeats and by their commanders’ actions, but rallied when fresh units and leaders joined them, and Maharani Jind Kaur exhorted 500 selected officers to make renewed efforts.
When hostilities resumed, a Sikh detachment crossed the Sutlej near Aliwal, threatening Gough’s lines of supply and communications. A division under Sir Harry Smith was sent to deal with them. Sikh cavalry attacked Smith continually on his march and captured his baggage, but Smith received reinforcements and at the Battle of Aliwal on 28 January 1846, he won a model victory, eliminating the Sikh bridgehead.
Gough’s main army had now been reinforced, and rejoined by Smith’s division, they attacked the main Sikh bridgehead at Sobraon on 10 February. Tej Singh is said to have deserted the Sikh army early in the battle. Although the Sikh army resisted as stubbornly as at Ferozeshah, Gough’s troops eventually broke into their position. The bridges behind the Sikhs broke under British artillery fire, or were ordered to be destroyed behind him by Tej Singh. The Sikh army was trapped. None of them surrendered, and the British troops showed little mercy. This defeat effectively broke the Sikh army.
Maharaja Dalip Singh, entering his palace in Lahore, escorted by British troops after the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–46)
In the Treaty of Lahore on 9 March 1846, the Sikhs were made to surrender the valuable region (the Jullundur Doab) between the Beas River and Sutlej River. The Lahore Durbar was also required to pay an indemnity of 15 million rupees. Because it could not readily raise this sum, it ceded Kashmir, Hazarah and all the forts, territories, rights and interests in the hill countries situated between the Rivers Beas and Indus to the East India Company, as equivalent to ten million of rupees. In a later separate arrangement (the Treaty of Amritsar), the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, purchased Kashmir from the East India Company for a payment of 7.5 million rupees and was granted the title Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
Maharaja Duleep Singh remained ruler of the Punjab and at first his mother, Maharani Jindan Kaur, remained as Regent. However, the Durbar later requested that the British presence remain until the Maharaja attained the age of 16. The British consented to this and on 16 December 1846, the Treaty of Bhyroval provided for the Maharani to be awarded a pension of 150,000 rupees and be replaced by a British resident in Lahore supported by a Council of Regency, with agents in other cities and regions. This effectively gave the East India Company control of the government.
Sikh historians have always maintained that, in order to retain their hold on power and maintain the figurehead rule of Duleep Singh, Lal Singh and Tej Singh embarked on the war with the deliberate intent of breaking their own army. In particular, Lal Singh was corresponding with a British political officer and betraying state and military secrets throughout the war. Lal Singh’s and Tej Singh’s desertion of their armies and refusal to attack when opportunity offered seem inexplicable otherwise.
The Sikh empire was until then one of the few remaining kingdoms in India after the rise of the company and the fall of the Mughal empire. Although the Sikh Army was weakened by the war, resentment at British interference in the government led to the Second Anglo-Sikh War within three years
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 Patrick Vans Agnew of the civil service and Lieutenant William 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 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 Gujrat, the Sikh army reveller stop fighting 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.
Background of the War
The Sikh kingdom of the Punjab was consolidated and expanded by Maharaja Ranjit Singh during the early years of the nineteenth century. During the same period, the British East India Company’s territories had been expanded until they were adjacent to the Punjab. Ranjit Singh maintained an uneasy alliance with the East India Company, while increasing the military strength of the Sikh Khalsa Army, which also saw itself as the embodiment of the state and religion, to deter British aggression against his state and to expand Sikh territory to the north and north west, capturing territory from Afghanistan and Kashmir.
When Ranjit Singh died in 1839, the Sikh Empire began to fall into disorder. There was a succession of short-lived rulers at the central Durbar (court), and increasing tension between the Army and the Durbar. The East India Company began to build up its military strength on the borders of the Punjab. Eventually, the increasing tension goaded the Sikh Army to invade British territory, under weak and possibly treacherous leaders. The hard-fought First Anglo-Sikh War ended in defeat for the Sikh Army.
Aftermath of the First Anglo-Sikh War
At the end of the war, the Sikh Empire was forced to cede some valuable territory (the Jullundur Doab) to the East India Company, and Gulab Singh, the ruler of Jammu, was allowed to acquire entire Jammu and Kashmir from the Sikh Empire by a large cash payment to the East India Company. Some of the Sikh Army were forced to make an expedition to oust the Governor of Kashmir in favour of Gulab Singh.
The infant Maharaja Duleep Singh of the Sikh Empire was allowed to retain his throne, but a British Resident, Sir Henry Lawrence, controlled the policy of the Durbar. Duleep Singh’s mother, Maharani Jind Kaur, continually tried to regain some of her former influence as Regent and was eventually exiled by Lawrence. While some Sikh generals and courtiers welcomed her dismissal, others resented Lawrence’s action.
Some of the Sikh Army had to be kept in being, since many predominantly Muslim areas of the Sikh Empire threatened to ally with Dost Mohammed Khan in Afghanistan or to lapse into disorder, and only force of arms could keep them in subjugation. The British were unwilling to incur the financial and manpower costs of using large numbers of British or Bengal Army units for this task. To the contrary, the Governor-General of India, Viscount Hardinge sought to make economies after the war by reducing the size of the Bengal Army by 50,000 men. The Sardars (generals) of the Sikh Army naturally resented carrying out the orders of comparatively junior British officers and administrators.
Early in 1848, Sir Henry Lawrence, who was ill, departed on leave to England. Although it was assumed that his younger brother John Lawrence would be appointed in his place, Lord Dalhousie, who had replaced Lord Hardinge as Governor-General, appointed Sir Frederick Currie instead. Currie was a legalist, based in Calcutta, who was unfamiliar with military matters and with the Punjab. While the Lawrences were comparatively informal and familiar with the junior officers who were Residents and Agents in the various districts of the Punjab, Currie was stiffer in manner and was inclined to treat his subordinates’ reports with caution. In particular, he refused to act on reports from James Abbott, the Political Agent in Hazara, who was convinced that Sardar Chattar Singh Attariwalla, the Sikh Governor of Hazara, was actively plotting a rebellion with other Sirdars.
The city of Multan was part of the Sikh kingdom, having been captured by Ranjit Singh in 1818. In 1848, it was governed by a Hindu viceroy, Dewan Mulraj. After the end of the First Anglo-Sikh war, Mulraj had behaved independently. When he was required by the British-controlled Durbar in Lahore to pay an increased tax assessment and revenues which were in arrears, Mulraj attempted to give up power to his son, so as to maintain his family’s position as rulers. Currie instead imposed a Sikh governor, Sardar Kahan Singh, with a British Political Agent, Lieutenant Patrick Vans Agnew.
On 18 April 1848, Vans Agnew arrived at Multan with another officer, Lieutenant William Anderson, and a small escort. Mulraj handed over the keys of the fortress, but as Vans Agnew’s party attempted to take possession, they were attacked by a party of Mulraj’s irregular troops, and a mob from the city. Both officers were wounded, and were rescued by Kahan Singh. They were taken to a mosque outside the city. Their escorts defected to Mulraj, and the officers were murdered by the mob the next day.
Mulraj later claimed that he had not instigated these attacks, but he was committed to rebellion because of them. He presented Vans Agnew’s head to Sardar Kahan Singh, and told him to take it back to Lahore. The news of the killings spread over the Punjab, and unrest and disquiet increased. Large numbers of Sikh soldiers deserted the regiments loyal to the Durbar to join those prepared to rebel under the leadership of Mulraj and disaffected Sirdars.
Lieutenant Herbert Edwardes, the British Political Agent in Bannu, had been near Multan in April but was unable to save Vans Agnew. He hastily levied some Pakhtun irregular troops, and together with some Sikh regiments, defeated Mulraj’s army at the Battle of Kineyri near the Chenab River on 18 June. He drove them back to the city but was unable to attack the fortified city itself.
Meanwhile, on learning of the events at Multan, Currie wrote to Sir Hugh Gough, the Commander in Chief of the Bengal Army, recommending that a major British force should at once move upon Multan. However Gough, supported by Dalhousie, the Governor General, declined to order major units of the East India Company to the Punjab until the end of the hot weather and monsoon seasons, which would not be until November. Instead, Currie ordered only a small force from the Bengal Army under General Whish to begin the siege of the city, joined by several contingents of locally recruited irregulars and detachments of the Sikh Khalsa Army. These forces joined Edwardes at Multan between 18 and 28 August. To the alarm of several Political Agents, the force from the Sikh Army included a large contingent commanded by Sardar Sher Singh Attariwalla, Chattar Singh’s son.
Some Agents were already taking action to forestall outbreaks of rebellion. Captain John Nicholson, leading irregular cavalry based at Peshawar, seized the vital fort of Attock on the Indus River from its Sikh garrison while they were still unprepared, or undecided on rebellion. Nicholson’s force then linked up with James Abbott’s local Hazara levies to capture the Margalla Hills which separated Hazara from the other parts of the Punjab. When Chattar Singh openly rebelled in August, his force was unable to leave Hazara without fighting a battle. Although Chattar Singh twice succeeded in capturing the passes through the hills, he nevertheless failed to take advantage of this (possibly because of dissension among his senior officers and continual harassment by pro-British irregulars), and retreated into Hazara.
On 14 September, Sher Singh’s army openly rebelled at Multan. He did not join Mulraj however. He and Mulraj conferred at a carefully chosen neutral site, at which it was agreed that Mulraj would give some money from his treasury to Sher Singh’s army, which would march north into the Central Punjab and ultimately rejoin Chattar Singh. Meanwhile, Whish was forced to raise the siege until he was reinforced.
Course of the war
As the cold weather began in November, substantial contingents from the East India Company’s armies at last took the field.
A contingent from the Bombay Army (administered separately from the Bengal Army) had been ordered to reinforce Whish and besiege Multan. This force was delayed by a petty squabble over seniority and could arrive only when its first commander (who was senior to Whish and refused to serve under him) was replaced by a more junior officer. Whish’s army was supplied and reinforced by sea and river transport up the rivers Indus and Chenab.
Sir Hugh Gough led his main force against Sher Singh’s army, which defended the line of the River Chenab against Gough for several weeks. On 22 November, the Sikhs repelled a British cavalry attack on a bridgehead on the eastern side of the river at the Battle of Ramnagar. Although they subsequently withdrew from their exposed bridgehead, the Sikhs regarded the battle as a victory and their morale was raised. Gough forced his way across the Chenab in December and outflanked the Sikhs defending the fords, but his cavalry then paused to await infantry reinforcements, allowing the Sikhs to withdraw without interference.
At the start of 1849, Amir Dost Mohammed Khan of Afghanistan sided with the rebellious Sikhs, who agreed to cede the city of Peshawar and its surrounding area which had been conquered by Ranjit Singh early in the nineteenth century. Dost Mohammed Khan’s support of the Sikhs was cautious, but when 3,500 Afghan horsemen approached the vital fort of Attock on the Indus River, its garrison of Muslim troops installed earlier by Nicholson defected. This allowed Chattar Singh to move out of Hazara and march west and then south, intending to link up with Sher Singh’s army. Dalhousie had earlier ordered Gough to halt operations while waiting for Multan to fall, which would allow Whish to reinforce him. Learning of the fall of Attock, he instead ordered Gough to destroy Sher Singh’s army before Chattar Singh could join him.
Gough unexpectedly encountered Sher Singh’s position near the Jhelum River on 13 January 1849. Sher Singh had cunningly concealed his army, and Gough was faced with the choice of withdrawing, or attacking when it was late in the day. Gough unhesitatingly took the latter course. The resulting Battle of Chillianwala was desperately fought. Gough’s troops, attacking into thick scrub without effective artillery support, suffered heavy losses. Some units lost their colours (which was regarded as a disgrace) and part of one British cavalry regiment fled in panic, resulting in the loss of four guns, also reckoned a humiliation. Sher Singh’s army was also hard hit, losing twelve of its own guns.
Three days of heavy rain followed, discouraging both sides from renewing battle. After both armies had faced each other for three days without renewing the action, both withdrew. Sher Singh continued northwards to join Chattar Singh, which made the battle into a strategic British defeat.
There was much alarm at the losses Gough had suffered. His tactics were severely criticised and he was replaced by General, although the order did not arrive until after hostilities had ceased. Some junior officers reckoned that the true cause of the setback lay lower down the ranks. Promotion in both the British and Bengal armies came slowly, and by the time officers were appointed to command regiments and brigades, they were too old, and worn out by harsh climate and disease. At Chillianwala, several senior officers had proved unable to command their units effectively.
Meanwhile, Whish’s force completed their siege works around Multan, their batteries opened fire and made a breach in the defences, which the infantry stormed. Mulraj surrendered on 22 January. He was imprisoned for the remainder of his life. The ending of the siege allowed Whish to reinforce Gough. In particular, Whish’s division had large numbers of heavy guns, which the Sikhs lacked.
As Gough’s army closed in on the Sikh Army, Sher Singh attempted a last outflanking move, sending cavalry to cross the Chenab, and re-cross in Gough’s rear. They were thwarted by heavy rains which made the river difficult to cross, and by British irregular cavalry led by Harry Burnett Lumsden and William Hodson. On 13 February, Gough attacked the Sikh Army at the Battle of Gujrat. Here, he began the battle with a three-hour bombardment from almost 100 guns, which drove the Sikhs from their hasty entrenchments. He then sent his cavalry and horse artillery after them in a pursuit which lasted for four hours.
On 12 March, Chattar Singh and Sher Singh surrendered near Rawalpindi. Some 20,000 men (mainly irregular cavalry) laid down their arms. The Afghan contingent hastily withdrew through Attock and Peshawar, which the British reoccupied. Dost Mohammed Khan later signed a treaty acknowledging British possession of these cities.
On 30 March, Duleep Singh held his last court at Lahore, at which he signed away all claims to the rule of the Punjab. A proclamation by Dalhousie, annexing the Punjab, was then read out. For his services the Earl of Dalhousie received the thanks of the British parliament and a step in the peerage, as Marquess. Gough also received rewards for his services, although his tactics at Chillianwala were to be questioned for the remainder of his life. Many of the junior British Political Agents who had organised local resistance to the Sikh Armies were to have distinguished later careers.
The Sikh defeat had resulted from several causes. Their administration of the population of the Punjab had been poor, which meant that their large armies found it difficult to find enough food. Finally, the East India Company had brought overwhelming force against them.
The Sikh Wars gave the two sides a mutual respect for each other’s fighting prowess (although the war itself had been unchivalrously fought; the Sikhs took no prisoners at Chillianwala, and the British had taken no prisoners at Gujrat)
There was an increased recruitment of people from various communities of the Punjab in the Punjab Irregular Force under British command. These recruits fought for the East India Company during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, against the mutineers and other opponents (mostly high-caste Hindus from Eastern provinces, and forces or loyalists of Shia, Maratha and Mughal rulers). These Punjabi recruits had especially little sympathy with the Hindu mutineers of the Bengal Army, ironically contributed to by the latter’s role in helping the British in the Anglo-Sikh wars. A long history of enmity of the Sikhs with Mughal rule did not help the mutineers’ cause either, given their choice of Bahadur Shah Zafar as a symbolic leader.
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