Sikh Wars

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

Sikh Wars (1845–49), two conflicts preceding the British annexation of the Punjab. By a treaty with the British in 1809, the Sikh ruler of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh, had accepted the Sutlej River as the southern boundary of his domain. After his death (1839) the Punjab fell into a state of disorder in which a succession of rulers were rapidly overthrown by the army. In 1845 the regent, Jhindan, who was both fearful of British intentions and anxious to distract the Sikh army, sent troops across the Sutlej (Dec. 11). The British, under Sir Hugh (later Viscount) Gouge, Sir Harry Smith, and others, won several preliminary victories and then decisively defeated the Sikhs at Aliwal (Jan. 28, 1846) and Sobraon (Feb. 10). They occupied Lahore on Feb. 20. By the Treaty of Lahore (Mar., 1846), the Sikhs were forced to cede Kashmir and to pay an indemnity of 55 million rupees. The British established a protectorate, which was resented. In Apr., 1848, a riot occurred, in which two British officers were killed. There was a general uprising, followed by a second war. A costly (for the British) battle at Chilianwalla (Jan. 13, 1849) was indecisive, but the British completely routed the Sikhs at Gujrat (Feb. 21). The Sikhs surrendered on Mar. 12. Lord Dalhousie, the governor-general, annexed all the Sikh territory on Mar. 30.

See B. J. Hasrat, Anglo-Sikh Relations, 1799–1849 (1968).

views updated

Sikh Wars (1845–46, 1848–49) Two conflicts between the Sikhs and the British in nw India. After the death of Ranjit Singh in 1839, disorder affected the Sikh state in the Punjab. When Sikh forces, including many non-Sikhs, crossed the frontier on the River Sutlej, the British declared war. After several battles involving heavy casualties on both sides, the British advanced to Lahore where peace was agreed (1846). The conflict renewed two years later, but superior British artillery led to a heavy Sikh defeat at Gujarat (1849). The Sikhs surrendered and the Punjab became part of British India.

views updated

Sikh wars. The wars of 1845–6 and 1848–9 originated over the Sutlej river area of north-west India between the Sikh sect in Punjab and the British. General Sir Hugh Gough defeated the numerically superior Sikh army at Mudki (18 December 1845), Ferozeshah (21 December) and Sobraon (10 February 1846). The Sikhs renounced their claims to the territory and recognized British supremacy. However, in 1848 they launched a rebellion. After an initial set-back at Ramnagar on 22 November, Gough defeated the Sikhs at Jallianwalla (14 January 1849) but sustained heavy casualties. Reinforced, he finally broke Sikh resistance on 22 February 1849 at Gujrat. Thereafter the Sikhs remained loyal to the British.

Richard A. Smith