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Title: Military Service and Adventures in the Far East, Vol. II (of 2) - Including Sketches of the Campaigns Against the Afghans in 1839, and the Sikhs in 1845-6
Author: MacKinnon, Daniel Henry
Language: English
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Including Sketches of the Campaigns
Against the Afghans in 1839,
and the Sikhs in 1845-6.


In Two Volumes.


Charles Ollier,
Southampton Street, Strand.



  The commander-in-chief returns to England--Disastrous
  insurrection throughout Afghanistan--Jellalabad holds
  out, and General Pollock advances upon Caubul                   p. 1


  Visit to Agra--Journey through Central India via Gwalior
  and Indore to Bombay                                              16


  Arrival in Calcutta--Departure for the south-western frontier--Arrival
  at Merut--State of affairs on the north-western
  frontier--The Sikh military establishment--The British
  position                                                          37


  The British forces--The Sikh army cross the Sutlej--The
  battle of Moodkee--Position and operations considered             65


  The army advance to attack the Sikhs in their entrenched
  camp at Ferozeshuhur--The actions of the 21st and 22nd
  of December--Sikhs retreat behind the Sutlej--Observations        91


  Assemblage of the British forces on the Sutlej--Sikhs
  threaten to recross--Sir Harry Smith detached towards
  Loodiana--Skirmish near Buddewal                                 133


  Sir Harry Smith advances to attack the Sikhs in their camp--The
  battle of Aliwal--The enemy defeated and driven
  across the river--Observations                                   163


  Sir Harry Smith's division march to rejoin the head-quarters
  of the army--Preparations to eject the enemy from their
  position on the British side of the river                        207


  The battle of Sobraon--The enemy defeated and driven
  across the river with enormous loss                              223


  The British forces cross the Sutlej, and are concentrated at
  Kussoor--Visit of Ghoolab Singh and Dhuleep Singh to
  the Governor-general--The army advance to Lahore--The
  Sikh army disperse, and surrender their guns                     249


  Ratification of the treaty--Observations on the effects likely
  to be produced thereby--Conclusion                               269





After the breaking up of the army of the Indus, Sir John Keane
proceeded down the Indus, and shortly afterwards embarked for England,
where those honours, titles, and pecuniary rewards awaited him, which
would have entitled him to the appellation of one of the most fortunate
soldiers who ever acquired laurels in India--had he survived long to
enjoy the distinction.

Fortunate, indeed, may Sir John Keane be termed, in having brought to
an apparently successful conclusion a campaign which was founded in
error and injustice, and placed in the hands of the commander-in-chief
with the fullest assurance of the directing arm of Providence leading
the small band through a country of which the little that was known
should have induced a supposition that an army provided with an
insufficient amount of supplies must meet with enormous difficulties.
By some unaccountable fatality, the Afghans neglected the advantages
thus afforded them, and thereby induced a supposition that the warlike
spirit of the tribes who had overrun and conquered Hindostan had
departed for ever; and that a handful of British soldiers would be
sufficient to maintain possession of a country inhabited by a nation
whose hands were fitted at their birth to the cimeter, and whose eyes,
when capable of distinguishing objects with accuracy, were directed
along the barrel of a rifle.

Trusting, doubtless, in the resources of their monarch to repel the
British invasion, no coalition was formed amongst the mountain tribes;
but when the abhorred Feringhee had seized their king and established
himself in the land of their fathers, and when, moreover, they beheld
him, lulled into security, break up his forces and march the greater
portion of his army homewards through the jaws of the tremendous
portals of Afghanistan, the lighted torch flew with resolute speed
from the valley of Quetta to the mountains of Kohistan. The Ghilzie,
whose heel had been bruised, but whose arm was not unnerved, roused
his brethren to vengeance, and the eloquence of Akbar, pleading for
the diadem which had been snatched from his ambitious hopes, found a
responsive echo in the heart of every true Barukzye.

A tribe of insolent plunderers had established themselves in the Khoord
Caubul, and had the audacity to interfere with the letter-carriers.
The gallant Sale, with his brigade, hastened to brush these intruders
from the surface of the mountains, but the band of robbers had swollen
to an army; and though, by desperate valour and unwearied exertion, a
passage was forced through every obstacle, yet the passes closed upon
the isolated brigade, and the communication with the ill-fated garrison
of Caubul was cut off for ever.

Red with the slaughter of their enemies, and faint from their own
wounds, the wearied band of soldiers, under Sale, threw themselves
into Jellalabad. Then burst the startling intelligence over the plains
of India that an insurrection had broken out amongst the far-distant
mountains of Afghanistan, and that our fellow-soldiers were ill
provided with sustenance, short of ammunition, and enveloped amongst
countless swarms of enemies. I will not enter minutely on the details
of that insurrection, which shook the fabric of our Eastern power
to its centre, brought unmerited obloquy on the British name, and
entailed the most harrowing series of disasters on the hapless army in
Afghanistan that England's history can record in her military annals.

The task of recapitulating the succession of horrors which took place
in Caubul has been undertaken by eye-witnesses and sufferers from the
small remnant of the Caubul garrison who escaped.

Amongst that catalogue of miseries and massacre we have the consolatory
reflection that the Afghans found no grounds to assert that the
British, though worn with toil, and pierced by incessant cold,
derogated in aught from their national fame. From the first struggle on
leaving the entrenched camp at Caubul, unto the final catastrophe at
Gundamuk, the Afghans were cautious of meeting our fellow-countrymen
at close quarters. When they tried the experiment, led by the alluring
satisfaction of revelling in Feringhee gore, they found that, although
heart-broken and disorganized, the Briton was ever ready to die facing
his enemy. Peace to the manes of those maligned and hapless warriors,
whose bones are bleaching on every height and valley of that rugged
desolation (fit scene for such a catastrophe) which disfigures the
face of the country, from the gates of the Bala Hissar to the walls
of Jellalabad! And, peace to the ashes of the worthy and amiable
Elphinstone! It rested not with him that, suffering under bodily
weakness and worn by mental anxieties in his arduous command, he should
have lived to end his honourable days in an enemy's camp. The soldier
has no choice but to obey the authority which places him in command,
and those authorities are answerable to their countrymen for the

But the British power fell not with her general and his army. Kandahar
was held with security in the iron grasp of Nott.[1] The little
garrison of Khelat-i-Ghilzie held resolutely their post against the
repeated and determined attacks of their blood-thirsty foe; and the
haughty Akbar, with the bravest of his mountain tribes, was checked in
his murderous career under the walls of Jellalabad. The "illustrious
garrison" maintained their isolated post against cold, starvation, the
overwhelming mass of vaunting Afghans, and against the convulsions
of nature when an earthquake cast down their fortifications and left
no artificial barrier, beyond their weapons, between the hordes of
Afghanistan and Sale's devoted band.

Vain were the efforts made by the Native Infantry Brigade, from
Peshawur, to force the passage of the Khyber, for the spirit of those
savage mountaineers was roused; every hill was watched with untiring
vigilance, and the two regiments which penetrated to Ali Musjid had
little cause to congratulate themselves on their undertaking. At
length, the "avenging army," under the guidance of General Pollock,
having traversed the Punjaub with rapid strides, arrived at the gorge
of the Khyber, and joyfully received the tidings of Jellalabad being
still in the hands of Sale.

Resting awhile to give breath to his soldiers, and to see his army
properly equipped, the gallant general (armed with full discretionary
power from the noble and sagacious Ellenborough, whose strong arm now
guided the helm of India) prepared to advance. From every village
and fastness of the gloomy Khyber the gathering call had gone
forth, and the ready mountaineers hastened to the defence of their
hereditary defiles; but their haste was of no avail, for the Britons
were advancing to save their gallant countrymen, to retaliate on the
authors of the Caubul atrocities, and to rescue their countrywomen from
captivity. Advancing, with his main body in the jaws of the defile,
whilst his two wings spread over the flanking mountains, General
Pollock drove the reluctant Khyberees from hill and sungahe[2] of
their mountain chain, and, with a trifling loss, stood inside the
barriers of Afghanistan, and within a few marches of Jellalabad; but
Sale's daring band of warriors had provided for their own safety.
Their bastions had sunk into dust before the earthquake, which rolled
from the mountains of the Indian Caucasus across the Punjaub and
into the heart of India; but, undaunted in heart and resolution, the
garrison of Jellalabad opposed their breasts to the enemy, whilst the
workmen repaired the damages: and let Akbar Khan (the treacherous
and cold-blooded assassin) and the remnant of his twenty thousand
companions in arms, bear witness to the unimpaired energy and
courage of the garrison of Jellalabad. Heedless of the approaching
reinforcements from India, they sallied, scarce two thousand in number,
from the gates of their fortress, piercing the centre of the Afghan
hosts, where the flashing sabre and deadly bayonet inflicted a partial
retribution on their enemies, still reeking with the blood of the
Caubul Tragedy.

That victory was purchased with the life of the heroic Dennie.[3] But
where, save on the battle-field, should the soldier hope to fall, and
when can the dart of death be more welcome to the warrior's breast than
when, falling in the arms of victory, he feels the immortal laurel
wreath rest lightly on his brow? Maligned by those who were jealous of
his fame and acquirements, he fell in the vigour of manhood, and we may
sadly concur with the panegyrist of Moore, in exclaiming--

 "Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
 And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him;
 But nothing he'll reck if they let him sleep on
 In the grave where a Briton has laid him."

I can neither envy nor estimate the feelings which must have occupied
the hearts of his invidious traducers, (and one especially, high in
rank and authority, though ennobled only by name,) when the deeds and
fate of the talented and lion-hearted Dennie wrung from the senate of
England, after his death, that well-merited tribute which had not
fallen to his lot during a life of gallant exploits, hardships, and

The simultaneous advances of Generals Pollock and Nott from Jellalabad
and Kandahar, were almost daily marked by the defeat or flight of the
savage tribes who had aided in the massacre of the ill-fated garrison
of Caubul. Ghuzni was not defended a second time, but evacuated on the
approach of Nott, who dismantled its blood-stained fortifications, and
thence moved, unopposed, to unite his army with Pollock's at Caubul.
The tribes under Akbar Khan were more resolute in their defence; but
light mountain troops, without artillery, and ignorant even of the most
simple methods of rendering their passes more difficult of approach,
present but a contemptible barrier to a well-organized and effective
army. Marching over the heights, which were strewn with the mangled
corpses of their ill-fated comrades, peals of British musketry rung a
tardy death-knell to their memories, but wrote the epitaph in the blood
of their assassins.

Leaving Khoord Caubul, the most formidable barrier to the metropolis,
undefended, Akbar and his forces fled from the field of Tezeen, and
left the country again in the hands of the British conquerors.

The capture of Istalif closed the three years' tragedy enacted amidst
the rugged defiles of Afghanistan.

The unexpected release of the prisoners crowned the successes of this
fortunate expedition; and it now remained only to retire, with as
good a grace as possible, from a country where the most extraordinary
vagary which had ever invaded the head of civilized man had originally
conducted the army of the Indus.

As a last memento of the British invasion, the arched bazaars of
the city of Caubul were destroyed, and buried in a confused mass
of blackened ruins. This has always appeared to me rather a wanton
mode of exciting the hostility of the harmless bunneahs[4] of Caubul
against us: for the insurrection and its concomitant disasters arose
not amongst the mercantile community of Caubul, but amongst the
warlike mountain tribes. To punish the unfortunate house-owners of the
bazaars, was not a dignified retaliation for our losses.

In November, 1842, the united forces quitted the metropolis of the
Afghans, leaving the inhabitants of these barbarous regions to their
wonted occupation of cutting each other's throats ad libitum. That
soil can surely never flourish, which is eternally watered with
human blood. The earliest records of Afghan history present to us
the same prevalence of murderous tastes, from the days of Sinkol,
the contemporary of Romulus, throughout the Middle Ages, down to the
year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and forty-two, when the British
Government wisely resolved to have nothing more to do with Afghanistan.

Were the invasion of that country a measure conducive to our interests,
it follows that the occupation thereof must have been necessary,
in order to render it a bulwark against the nations lying to the
north-west, of whom, in 1838, such unnecessary apprehensions were
entertained. As this measure required a large subsidiary force to be
maintained in the country, entailing a consequent augmentation of our
army in the East, which was not convenient to the wishes or coffers of
the Anglo-Indian Government, there cannot exist a doubt of the wisdom
of Lord Ellenborough's administration in correcting the errors of his
predecessor, and withdrawing the army from a country which was never
likely to become a profitable territory.

The question of its advantages as a military position, may form
a theoretical subject for discussion; but practically, the utter
inability of the country to pay and maintain a large subsidiary force,
and the impracticability of the exhausted revenues of India furnishing
the sinews of war, sets the question at rest.

The finishing stroke yet required to be put to the Afghan policy, in
disposing of Dost Mahomed, who had remained for some time in our hands;
but now that his country was no longer an object of interest, of course
the ex-king was less so. The release of that monarch, and his return
to the throne--to hurl him from which had impoverished India, besides
draining it of some of its best blood, was the practical and final
satire on the Caubul campaign.

I have not been diffuse in entering on minute details of the losses
experienced on our march into that country, because I cannot flatter
myself that the subject possesses sufficient general interest; but
should any one have any curiosity regarding the number of men, camels,
horses, bullocks, and asses that died during the first campaign,
together with the minutest particulars, more than the most inquisitive
disciple of Hume could require, let him not languish in ignorance, for
are they not written in the Book of Hough?

Our questionable allies, the Sikhs, having been a cause of some
disquietude, it was thought prudent to assemble a large force on
the north-west frontier, at the close of the year 1842, which was
denominated the "Army of Reserve." This force, encamped on the banks
of the Sutlej, in the vicinity of Ferozepore, awaited the return of
the victorious troops from Afghanistan, and Lord Ellenborough was
present in person to welcome the arrival of the Caubul warriors under
a triumphal arch which he had caused to be erected at the extremity of
a bridge of boats thrown across the Sutlej. The united forces, when
Generals Nott and Pollock had joined us, exceeded forty thousand men;
and thus the nations of the East were shown that Afghanistan was not
abandoned owing to any weakness in a military point of view.

After two reviews of the army on the frontier, at which some of the
Sikh Durbar were present, in the beginning of January, 1843, the army
was broken up, and marched to their cantonments in Bengal.


[Footnote 1: Ghuzni, with its garrison, under command of Colonel
Palmer, fell into the enemy's hands.]

[Footnote 2: The sungah is a stockade of loose stones, thrown up on the
hill-side, or crest.]

[Footnote 3: Colonel Dennie, of H. M. 13th Light Infantry, was killed
by a matchlock ball from a fort which he stormed when this sally was

[Footnote 4: Shopkeepers.]



All chance of active service in India being apparently over, I availed
myself of leave of absence, and began preparations for my journey
towards Bombay. The route through central India, from Delhi or Agra,
was at that time rarely travelled, and presented numerous attractions
from the accounts I had read of its wild country and inhabitants. I
was fortunate enough to find four acquaintances, who were also about
to proceed homewards, and desirous of taking the nearest road, as the
season was now far advanced, and the heat a little later becomes
severe. Having appointed Agra as our rendezvous, I proceeded, with
my valued friend L---- in advance. Our marching establishment to
Delhi consisted of our riding-ponies and three camels, to carry our
baggage, which, on arrival at that city, we agreed to reduce to the
least possible compass. Having traversed the rich tract of country
lying between Kurnaul and Delhi, we arrived on the fourth morning at
that city. We now reduced our baggage to a pair of light boxes each;
and leaving our tents, ponies, and other encumbrances, got into our
palanquins, and at the usual rate of about four miles an hour, were
jolted into Agra, and safely deposited under the verandah of our
hospitable entertainer, Mr. A. Plowden, of the civil service.

During my sojourn in India, I had hitherto had no opportunity of
visiting Agra, much and anxiously as I had wished to see its numerous
objects of interest, but above all, the far-famed Taj Mahal.

The town itself presented little to interest the traveller; and having
ridden through its narrow bazaars, we made a point, during the
remainder of our stay, to avoid their unalluring precincts, even at the
expense of an extra mile or two of ground.

The second evening of our residence, we petitioned our friend to delay
no longer the visit to the Taj; and in accordance with our request,
the dog-cart made its appearance, and I mounted beside our host, while
L---- took up his place behind, to take charge, as he professed, of the
whole concern. As we wound about the rocks in the suburbs of the city,
the Jumna lay winding its tortuous course beneath us, and the summit of
the glorious Taj suddenly opened on our view from amongst its graceful
garland of thick cypress groves.

We had no time to express our admiration of the sight, for L----,
who had been, as usual, overflowing with spirits the whole way, now
exclaimed, as we were tearing along towards the monument at a pace
which did credit to our little hack, "It matters more to you men of
weight, physically speaking, than to me; but I do think there ought to
be a linch-pin in the wheels of this uneasy machine."

Our host was turning round to make some rejoinder, when away spun the
wheel in right earnest, and each occupant took involuntarily a line of
country of his own. Fortunately for us, the road was some two feet deep
in very fine dust, and we rested unharmed, though rather bewildered,
on its woolly surface. After a few seconds, we all wheeled about, and
meeting face to face, burst into laughter at each other's ludicrous

In the midst of our merriment, a britzka drove rapidly round the
corner, and pulled up beside us, when we were rejoiced to find that its
fair tenant was our hostess. Having committed the damaged cart to the
charge of two sable attendants, we proceeded to our destination in the
britzka, though not before L---- had carefully inspected the linch-pins
of the carriage.

The shades of evening were thickening fast around us as we drew up
at the archway, where it is necessary to dismount, and proceed on
foot into the gardens of the Taj. Strolling on through avenues of
cypress, speckled occasionally with basins of white marble amongst the
evergreens which surround them, we arrived at the foot of the square
platform on which the monument rests, at each angle of which rose an
elaborately carved minaret.

The Taj itself is built entirely of white marble, and conveyed to
my senses the very poetry of architecture. A good drawing might
convey a better idea of its exterior than any amount of description
could effect; but I have never seen one which at all satisfied me.
The interior of the edifice, which is octagonal, and inlaid with
mosaic of precious stones representing fruits and flowers, no drawing
could ever do justice to. In the centre, surrounded by a screen of
exquisitely-wrought white marble fretwork, stand beside each other the
tombs of Shah Jehan and his sultana, Mumtaza Zemâni. As we gazed with
solemn and mute admiration on the glorious objects around us, feeling
that she who had stood unrivalled amongst the favourites of the East
while living, had prevailed even beyond the grave in tenanting a
resting-place which asserts an easy superiority over the handiworks of
the children of men, a low strain of music arising from the waters of
the Jumna poured its soft melody through the gratings of the edifice,
and echoed in gently-repeated harmony along the roof.

As the last faint notes died away, we gradually awoke to the world
around us, which we had long before quitted for the realms of
imagination, and were almost startled by the tones of a human voice
informing us that the music was of this earth, and had been provided
for the occasion by our considerate host.

Never will be obliterated those happy hours from my memory, which
I passed wandering amongst the groves and terraces of that type of
symmetrical beauty. I have often thought, that should any immoderate
afflictions fall to my lot in after life, I would make a pilgrimage
to this spot; and there, though oblivion might be denied, yet, under
the soothing influence of such a scene, the mind must be rendered more
qualified to ascend from the highest and most perfect works of men to
the throne of Him who controls their destinies.

Never having been a very enthusiastic admirer of architecture, and
cordially admitting that "God made the country, man the town," I
approached the Taj, dishonestly prejudiced against it, especially as I
had heard the united voices of men raised in its favour; but no sooner
had sufficient time been allowed for the mind to comprehend all its
beauties, than I succumbed, and became a most passionate admirer of the
Eastern sultana, so lovely in death.

Afterwards, we visited many other beautiful structures in the vicinity
of Agra, especially the tomb and gardens of the Emperor Akbar; but
we ought to have visited them first, for it was now too late; my
affections had been engaged, and were ever recurring to, and dwelling
with, the absent beauty on the banks of the Jumna.

Nearly a week having now elapsed since our arrival at Agra, and the
whole of our travelling-party being assembled, a council of war was
called, to debate on our future proceedings. It was ascertained, that
in Agra barely a hundred men could be mustered to accompany us, as
palanquin-bearers, across to Indore; and as thirty were required for
each palanquin to carry it and our baggage an average rate of thirty
miles a day, it became necessary to divide our party, two procuring
horses and ponies for the transport of themselves and impedimenta,
as the Romans appropriately termed it; and three, including Colonel
L----, my friend L----, and myself, proceeding with the main body of
Palkee bearers. We could only procure one servant to accompany us, (for
the natives of Bengal seldom migrate to Bombay,) and the restless and
untiring Dereah undertook that arduous office on the understanding that
we provided him with treble wages, and a pony for the transport of his
almost imperceptible person.

All arrangements having been completed, we left the sacred city, on the
evening of the 10th of February, accompanied by as yelling and motley a
crew of gentlemen in black as ever followed the track of a roving band
of Pindarrees.

After numerous stoppages during the night, and angry expostulations
with our detainers for the delay, and waste of strength by thus
interrupting our rest, we arrived at Dholpore, a distance of about
thirty-five miles, early next morning.

The Rajah of Dholpore, who resided near the stage bungalow where we
halted, very politely sent us a present of rice, milk, fowls, and
sweet-meats, for which we returned our hearty thanks, having nothing
more valuable to offer, and we hoped few things could have been more

At Dholpore we held a council to arrange plans for directing, with
some regularity, the movements of our numerous forces, which, in their
present state of anarchy, were not so effective as could be wished.
Colonel L---- was unanimously elected as our commander-in-chief.
Captain S---- was appointed quartermaster-general, and I was nominated
to the united duties of adjutant-general and military secretary. Major
L---- was appointed to superintend and represent the infantry, and,
being unhappily very badly off for cavalry, Captain U---- undertook to
represent that important branch of the service, and forthwith assumed
command of the cook, Dereah; but to this an immediate objection was
made, the commander-in-chief claiming him as a private orderly.

It now occurred to us that a most material omission had been made in
neglecting to provide any artillery; but, after much deliberation,
this difficulty was removed by Major L---- kindly volunteering to
officiate also in that capacity. This offer was accepted by universal
acclamation, as that gallant officer wore in his belt a pistol in
proportion to his own stature, and was moreover known to have made as
much noise since he came into the world as qualified him to compete, in
that respect, with the artillery of the whole British army.

Leaving Dholpore in the evening, and walking most part of the way,
for the road was very wild and rugged, we arrived, late at night, on
the banks of the river Chumbul. After a detention of many hours, in
consequence of no notice having been sent to the ferry, we were, early
in the morning, transported across under the auspices of a boatman, who
we agreed must have been Charon's representative on earth, for a more
grim and ungainly looking savage I never beheld. He either could not or
would not use his tongue, answering our inquiries about the road with
impatient gestures. Giving him the benefit of the doubt about the use
of his tongue, he escaped chastisement.

We reached the city of Gwalior about mid-day, and were kindly
entertained at the house of the British resident, Colonel Spiers.

A few days before our arrival, the King of Gwalior had died, and, as
usual, in states not completely under British control in India, this
event caused a great commotion, which did not subside before they had
been embroiled with the British government[5] and taught to be quiet.

In the course of the day a Vakeel arrived from the Gwalior-court at
Colonel Spiers' residence, and, hearing that we were about to proceed
across the Gwalior territories, he volunteered to send with us an
escort of Native Cavalry, who, he informed us, would be of use in
procuring supplies from the villages, as also in acting as guides. We
gladly accepted his offer, and, in the afternoon, quitted the residency
with our savage-looking escort of Mahratta cavalry, dressed in flowing
robes of cotton or silk of various colours, confined at the waist, with
a coarse shawl or cotton kummurbund,[6] bound closely round the body,
and furnished with an armoury of crooked knives and long pistols. Their
legs were ensconced in long deerskin boots, and their heads in steel
semicircular helmets, with a loose piece of chain armour attached and
hanging over the shoulders. In the heat of the day a part of the silk
or cotton round the waist was detached, and bound over the helmet to
protect the wearer from the rays of the sun, which, striking on the
polished steel, would have rendered it nearly intolerable. Behind their
backs were slung matchlocks of great length of barrel; and in their
hands, or thrown loosely on the hollow of the shoulder, were lances,
calculated to reach an enemy at about ordinary pistol-shot range. We
now really began to feel that we were an army, and, on entering on the
duties of office, I received orders from the commander-in-chief, of the
most peremptory nature, to take care that he was always provided with
milk for breakfast. This duty I assigned to the most brawny looking
warrior in our escort, and he received the order with as much gravity
as if I had desired him to charge a host of Pindarrees.

Passing the fortress of Gwalior, constructed on a rocky eminence, we
wound about the city, which is prettily situated beneath a semicircle
of low hills, and appeared to have been built with more attention to
substantial comfort and cleanliness than is generally bestowed on
eastern cities. In the north-western quarter, where the cantonments are
situated, the ground was laid out in large squares for parades, and
shaded by rows of fruit trees fronting each side.

Having walked nearly five hours, enjoying the beautiful and temperate
night, in company with my friend L----, we ascended our palanquins, and
woke not till the sun was high next morning, when we put up, during
the heat of the day, under the friendly shade of a banyan tree, and
beside a small village, where, alas! no milk was procurable for the
commander-in-chief's breakfast. My Mahratta friend brought two of the
chiefs of the village at the point of his spear, who, after numerous
salaams, protested most earnestly that there were no goats in their
village to afford milk; and, after earnest protestations of their
poverty, they were silent, and looked like condemned criminals. I told
them it was a most grave offence they had committed, in not having or
procuring any milk; but, being disposed to leniency, I would overlook
the offence if they brought immediately some fresh eggs. This was
at once complied with, and the village delinquents, having received
payment for the same, retired overjoyed at this unexpected munificence.
The commander-in-chief's resentment was in some measure appeased by
using a fresh egg as a substitute for milk; and a young peacock and
a brace of partridges, which I shot in time to be placed in Dereah's
hands for breakfast, earned a full pardon.

We continued to traverse a bare rocky country for many leagues,
travelling all night, and putting up, during the heat of the day,
under some friendly tree or shed, where, with the produce of my gun,
and the assistance of collections made by our escort in the villages,
(when any were met with, but here they were few and far between) we
reached the cantonment of Sipree on the 15th of February. The Sipree
contingent were absent on active service, in the jungles of Bundelkund;
but we put up at the house of one of the officers, which was situated
on a hill commanding an extensive view over the bare country, and where
the breeze whistled most musically along the verandahs.

The character of the country we now traversed was the opposite to
that of Bengal: high and rocky hills skirted us on each side, and
occasionally crossed our route: now, we plunged into a dense and
apparently endless jungle, from which we suddenly emerged on a tract
intersected by ravines, which nearly broke our palanquin bearers'

The most unaccountable animals of our party were the cook, Dereah,
and his little Agra pony, which was rarely known to feed during our
toilsome journey. The cook, his master, was certainly never found
napping except during one hour previous to our evening meal, whilst
the pea-fowl soup was simmering on the embers, and both readily
and cheerfully resumed their route, as if that was the only really
important object of their lives.

At the frontiers of Scindiah, our escort was relieved by another
cavalcade of similar strength, who proved equally useful; and the
commandant seemed much offended at our tender of money for their
services. He requested we would give him a note to testify that all had
faithfully discharged their duty; which was, of course, done.

At length, we reached Indore, which was about half-way to Bombay, and
had, by this time, become thoroughly weary of our narrow palanquin

On our arrival at Indore, we found that Sir Claude Wade, the British
resident, was absent on a tour of inspection in the jungles, but
we were taken charge of by Dr. Bruce, the medical attaché of the
residency, and we required much at the hands of our kind host.

I do not remember having seen any place in India bearing a resemblance
to Indore. The residency is a magnificent building, situated on a
rising ground, and overlooking a country which resembled an English
park, in its pastures, trees, and evergreens. The trees looked
thoroughly English; the turf, though something of a bilious hue,
deserved the name; and the deer which speckled it completed the picture
we had been drawing in our imaginations of some English grandee's
residence. Nor was there anything to interfere with the comparison,
until, arriving at the hall, you were greeted by a challenge from
the Sepoy sentry, an incident decidedly at variance with an English

Having remained two days at Dr. Bruce's house, we proceeded to Mhow,
about fourteen miles distant, the frontier station of the troops in
the Bombay Presidency, where we put up at a stage bungalow built by
Government for the convenience of travellers. Bungalows are shortly to
be constructed at regular intervals along the whole road which we have
traversed. Our palanquin bearers refused to proceed any further, save
at an exorbitant rate, whereupon L---- and I quietly paid our people
their demands, and requested them to depart in peace, adding that we
would seek more useful and expeditious means of proceeding. Colonel
L----, unfortunately, had suffered much from fatigue; he consequently
retained all his people, and proceeded with the other half of our
party, who were provided with ponies, whilst L---- and I started off to
the bazaar to see what means of conveyance were procurable. We found a
Parsee merchant, with whom we made friends by making some purchases,
and were by him introduced to a great proprietor of ponies, who engaged
to carry all that was required by us, ourselves included, as far as
Dhoolia cantonments, whence, we were informed, bullock-carts might be
obtained to take us on to Kirkee, which was our destination for the

We continued our journey, mostly on foot, over the wild and beautiful
Ghauts, on this frontier, and in a few days came to a regular chain
of stage bungalows, which afforded us comparative luxuries, after our
long sojourn amongst sheds and native serais. After a weary journey in
bullock-carts, we reached Ahmednuggur, from whence one night's ride,
with relays of horses furnished by our friends at the latter station,
brought us to Kirkee, where I met with a friend, to visit whom had been
the principal object of my expedition to this part of the world.

To this meeting I had long looked forward with much delight, for there
is no happiness to which this life has treated me, surpassing, in my
estimation, that of meeting with a dearly-loved friend after a long
separation. Upwards of seven years had elapsed since we parted. We had
each been wandering in various parts of this beautiful world; we had
passed from the embryo period of life to manhood; and I firmly believe
our friendship had lasted untainted by experience and intercourse with
the rough edges of the world; an attrition which is apt to render the
patient too callous to understand the true meaning of friendship.

I dwell with fond but mournful reflection on that meeting, for, alas,
it cannot be repeated on this side of the grave! A few months after I
had quitted India, my noble and highly-gifted friend met with a sudden
and tragical death. The trigger of a pistol, incautiously handled, was
touched, and the fatal slip of the thumb off the hammer, destroyed,
in a few seconds, one of the noblest of mankind. Possessing a mind of
gigantic natural ability, aided by an accurate and retentive memory,
and great power of application, he was qualified to be an ornament to
any profession or country. With pride and confidence I looked forward
to a future brilliant career, when his capacity should be known to
those who might have the means of serving him and his country by its
development. But in the enjoyment of robust health, and unrivalled
bodily strength, the irresistible arm of Destiny interposed and led him
to the grave.

 "Ω, πολυπονοι, πολυσονοι, γενος εφαμεοὡν
 Αευσσεθ' ωζ παῥ ελπιδαϛ ἡ μοιοα ζαινει
 Και βροτὡν πας ασταθμητος αιων."

Farewell, for ever, my fondly-valued, Sydney! Though in this world
we shall not meet again, I yet shall never part with your image; in
contemplating which I shall learn to admire and reverence a character
in strange contrast with the result of daily experience--a character
surpassing in reality those imaginative sketches on the monuments
of the posthumous successors to virtue, or the titled inheritors of
greatness they never earned, who are flattered into the presence of
their God with a lying epitaph, when--

                         "On the tomb is seen,
 Not what they were, but what they should have been."

If a life of stern and undeviating integrity, and a practice of the
duties enjoined to man by Him who made the stars, afford hopes of
immortality, Sydney, you alone, of those with whose characters I have
been conversant, possess an irreproachable title.


[Footnote 5: The war was decided, in _one_ day, by the actions of
Maharajpore and Punniaz.]

[Footnote 6: Waistbelt.]



After two years' absence, early in October, 1845, I disembarked from
one of those monster steamers at Calcutta, by whose assistance the
months occupied in our former intercourse with India are reduced to
weeks, and the probability of arrival, not only to a day, but almost
to an hour. Not ten years ago I remember hearing an eminent lecturer
in London prove to the complete satisfaction (apparently) of a crowded
amphitheatre, that steam communication with India, via the Red Sea and
Arabian Gulf, _was impossible_. We were told that the monsoons, the
shoals in the Red Sea, and the tornadoes which rush from the gullies
across its fatal waters, were too much even for the iron heart of
a steamer to encounter; and should any fortunate passengers escape
these evils, the sands of the desert between Suez and Alexandria were
prepared to overwhelm the caravan of presuming adventurers.

The practical comment of 1846 and some preceding years, has reduced
these imaginary terrors to their proper value; and a railroad across
the Isthmus, if the Pasha have the wisdom to benefit his country and
many others, by adopting the suggestions of British engineers, will
bring India three days nearer to Europe. Steam has so far substituted
time for distance, that I am sure I shall be excused for adopting the
modern change of terms. Miles and other barbarous terms may continue
to be used for many years to come in uncivilized climes, but who would
think of talking of the number of miles between London and Bristol,
when the Great Western authorities announce it to be, by express,
precisely two hours and forty-five minutes.

When will this happy system of railroads be applicable to India? or,
rather, when will it be applied? for a more favourable surface for
operations could hardly be selected in the world, and the advantages
to Government are incalculable. A British force, after defeating the
Burmese on the banks of the Burhampooter, might be steamed up to
the Sutlej in time to repulse the malignant Sikhs before supper the
following evening, and then proceed on their tour of conquest as long
as the steam could be kept up or an enemy found.

These may be termed little more than idle visions to the patient
sufferer who is about to undergo a transportation to the upper
provinces of Bengal, at the mournful average of three miles an hour, if
the weather be favourable--considerably less if a heavy fall of rain
should occur; and in October, 1845, the rain did come down in real
earnest, as I left Calcutta.

I shall not pause to acquaint the reader with the latitude and
longitude of Calcutta, neither will I expatiate on the beauties of
Government House, or the relative numbers and merits of the Hindoo and
Mussulman inhabitants. As the gazetteer can give that and much more
valuable information on the same head, I will not rashly enter into
competition with one possessed of so much general information, but
refer the curious to its pages, whilst I invite the less particular to
accompany me in a journey to the south-western frontier, and I will do
my best to entertain my companions.

Hearing that there was no necessity for being in the upper provinces
just now, inasmuch as the governor-general, and all India, except the
_Delhi Gazette_, seemed bent to maintain the most profound peace ever
known in Hindostan, I gladly seized the opportunity of paying a visit
to a valued friend dwelling amongst the jungles of the south-western

In company with a brother officer, who was travelling the same road, I
embarked in a palanquin amidst the torrents of rain which descended in
streams, threatening to convert our sturdy little bearers into strong
resemblances of water-rats.

We managed, fortunately, to ford the Damooda river before the storm
had attained its maximum, or the journey might have been seriously
interrupted, for during very heavy storms this river is subject to
violent inundations, when a rolling column of water, several feet in
height, and resembling the bore[7] on the Ganges, rushes down the
river's course, flooding the neighbouring country, and causing many
calamities. On the right bank of the Damooda was a shed, which afforded
a partial shelter to our exhausted palanquin bearers, and here we
rested in hopes of the tempest abating.

About midnight, a lull took place, and we proceeded, the bearers
staggering with difficulty through the swamp, which the surrounding
country had now become. Travelling that night, and the following day,
with the tempest bursting in fitful gusts, we reached the dwelling of
an indigo planter, in the lonely jungles, late in the evening, where we
were hospitably received, and rested a few hours.

At midnight we proceeded _en route_, and arrived, as the day broke, on
the bank of a swollen torrent. The primitive mode of crossing, which
we were compelled to adopt, was by means of a raft, made of bamboos,
bound together, crosswise, over a dozen large earthenware jars.[8]
Trusting to the declared experience of our bearers, we embarked on this
singular conveyance, the natives swimming alongside, and safely landing
everything on the opposite shore in two or three expeditions. Whilst
our bearers were engaged in this manner, I observed, a few yards above
the raft, something resembling a rope being dragged across the torrent,
and running down to the edge to ascertain what it was, an enormous
serpent landed beside me, and departed, without any delay, into the
woods. Although the stream was running with great rapidity, he had made
nearly a direct course across the torrent.

We proceeded onwards, during the whole day, through a heavy jungle,
scarcely meeting with any human abode--except the small sheds where our
relay of bearers awaited us, at the end of each stage of ten or twelve
miles--whilst the storm of rain continued with unabated vigour. At
nightfall we reached another torrent, or nullah, as they are called in
India, where our progress seemed altogether arrested, for it proved to
be more than ten feet deep, was running like a sluice, and no raft of
any kind was procurable; nor did our attendants seem disposed to make
any attempts; they remarked that an indigo shed was close at hand, and
that we should be all drowned if we attempted to cross. Then patiently
seating themselves, they looked steadily in our faces to await the
decision. The choice was not a matter of difficulty; we preferred the
indigo shed to being drowned, hoping that by daybreak the waters might
in some degree subside.

The ancients indulged their mirth at the simplicity of the

 "Rusticus expectans dum defluat amnis."

Yet the inhabitants of India have been pretty often constrained to
adopt the practice.

The indigo shed, after some demur on the part of the native in charge,
was opened for the reception of our palanquins and travelling cases,
which had long since been thoroughly soaked. We soon found that we
were not destined to be the sole tenants of the shed, for the swarms
of mosquitoes exceeded any display of the kind I had seen before. We
obtained a jar of charcoal to boil the kettle for our frugal meal of
tea and biscuits, which soon produced a suffocating sensation. We left,
in hopes of being rid of our tormentors by this expedient; but they had
not apparently the same objections as ourselves, and were buzzing with
renewed delight and welcome on seeing us return. In vain we closed the
doors of our palanquins, and nearly stifled ourselves with heat; our
active enemies forced a passage through the crevices of the blinds;
they would not be baulked of their rightful food, and it was evident
that a white victim was no ordinary delicacy.

We anxiously watched for the break of day, and when the dawn was
perceptible, arose from our restless mats, stirred up the sleeping
establishment, and proceeded to the banks of the nullah. The weather
had moderated a little, and, about mid-day, the water had sunk to
about five feet, which gave rather a precarious ford. As the deep part
was not very wide, though exceedingly rapid, our bearers consented
to make the passage with the empty palanquins on their heads, and
afterwards to carry each article separately, whilst we stripped and
took the water in support of the sable army. This mode was practised,
and successfully performed, though the passage of the palanquins was
rather precarious: to have lost them in these wild jungles would have
been an irreparable disaster.

From hence, our journey through the jungles and hilly country, which
we afterwards entered, was slow, but unobstructed. In many parts, the
country was eminently beautiful; especially so in the neighbourhood of
Ranchee, where dwelt the excellent and hospitable friend, to visit whom
had been the object of my journey.

The Kholes, who inhabit this tract of country, lay claim to be
aborigines of Hindostan; nay, more: they designate themselves as the
first people created, "except the English," added a polite barbarian,
who was recapitulating the claims to antiquity, with this unfortunate
exception, which tended to overthrow the whole fabric.

Early one morning, as we were sitting in the verandah of my friend's
house, two inhabitants of a neighbouring village made their appearance,
and began a most dolorous tale regarding the devastations committed
among their kindred by a cruel ghost, to eject which they solicited the
sahib's aid.

"It is well," replied the controller of spirits; "go, the ghost shall
be caught."

With a submissive reverence due to such power, the two gentlemen in
black took their departure, evidently satisfied with the success of
their mission.

The ghost complained of was the cholera, which pays frequent visits to
this country, but rarely resides more than a few days in a village,
when he takes wing in search of fresh victims.

A chuprassie, or messenger, dressed in the belt and insignia of office,
is sent to the village, and ordered to await until the scourge abates;
and as imagination, beyond a doubt, has much influence in this disease,
the arrival of the chuprassie, sent officially to catch the ghost, has
no doubt a salutary effect on the superstition of the sufferers; and
probably, on leaving, there is not a soul in the place foolhardy enough
to doubt that the ghost has taken his departure under the chuprassie's

In this part of India, a few years back almost unknown, and affording
a safe asylum for the predatory tribes of Pindarrees until the wise
policy of Lord Hastings' government uprooted those daring tribes of
banditti, the most profound tranquillity now prevails. The natives have
learned, not only to respect, but to love, the mild authority which
has restored the golden era, enabling all to repose in security, and
to lead the life of inoffensive simplicity for which the Hindoo is
eminently qualified, but which the oppressive rule of the Mussulman
conquerors long forbade him to enjoy.

The climate in this hilly district is temperate, presenting a
favourable contrast to the execrable damp heat of Calcutta, at the
close of the rainy season. The numerous conical hills, hinged with
thick jungle, afford an agreeable change of view to one accustomed
to the monotonous flat surface of the Bengal provinces from the
Rajemal to the Himalayah mountains; and these belts of jungle merit
the sportsman's attention, owing to the colonies of tigers, bears, and
leopards which seek their shelter. In the thick forests and prairies,
further to the west, is found a large beast of the bison kind,[9] whose
courage and ferocity recommend him to the most adventurous of Eastern
sportsmen; indeed, few would enjoy the daring toil and sport long,
unless provided with a heart and eye correctly placed.

My visit to these alluring regions, and to the residence of my kind and
valued friends, will always continue the most pleasing recollection
afforded by my sojourn in India; but that happy time was curtailed by
letters which reached me from Upper India. The aspect of affairs on
the north-west frontier, upwards of a thousand miles distant from
my present abode, was so warlike, that I felt it my duty to lose no
time in prosecuting that long and tedious journey, as my regiment were
cantoned in a neighbourhood which rendered the requisition for their
service a certainty, in case of hostilities ensuing.

Sending on our palanquins and bearers in the morning, we followed, in
the afternoon, on elephants, through the heavy jungles and deep, gloomy
ravines; and, travelling at a rate of about five miles an hour, reached
Hazarebaugh in the course of the next day.

Some of the Ameers of Scinde,[10] who had been recently deposed, were
then residing at this deserted cantonment under surveillance, and we
paid them a visit in the evening, accompanied by the officer in charge.
They were living in spacious bungalows, under little restraint, and
with many of their own people around them. Were it not that those
who have once been possessed of power seem to languish under its
loss--should the privation have been involuntary--I should have said
that the Ameers had more reason to be contented with their present lot
than when placed at the head of a lawless and warlike race, whom they
were unable to control, and of whom they stood in constant dread.

But the recommendation of sages, and the advice of poets, "privatus ut
altùm dormiret," have been alike disregarded; and although, from the
reign of Commodus to the accession of Constantine, every Roman emperor,
save Claudius, was assassinated, yet was there no dearth of candidates
for the fatal purple.

On informing the Ameers that we had recently arrived from England, they
eagerly questioned me as to the probability of their reinstatement.

They smiled incredulously, when I told them I was in no way connected
with the India house, and unable to afford them any information. We
then conversed upon Scinde, which I told them I had visited on a former
occasion, when with Sir John Keane's force, and they politely declared
that they remembered me well, an Asiatic _façon de parler_, for during
my Scindian tour, I had not seen one of the Ameers of the present party.

After an exchange of trifling presents, we took our leave of the
Ameers, and the same night left Hazarebaugh in our palanquins. After a
hot and tedious journey along the main trunk-road, resting for two or
three hours during the heat of each day at the government bungalows,
erected for that purpose, we reached Cawnpore. At this place, we found
that a great improvement[11] had taken place in the mode of travelling,
by placing the palanquin on a truck drawn by a horse, which is relieved
every ninth or tenth mile, and the traveller is thus enabled to proceed
at the rate of eight miles an hour in lieu of three.

I accomplished the journey to Merut in about thirty hours, having had
only one upset, and a few trifling bruises; for the horses seemed to
have come to an understanding with each other that they were to take
any direction, at first starting, but that of the main road. At almost
every stage, this system of bolting was attempted; but when once
impelled to a canter, they seemed generally to acknowledge the error of
their former ways, and to atone for it by making the best and steadiest
progress in their power. Though occasionally some headstrong novice
would try the effect of a few rapid swerves, he generally got the worst
of it in the end, receiving pretty smart chastisement from the native
driver, accompanied by torrents of abuse bestowed on the delinquent and
his whole generation, frequently intermingled with most opprobrious,
and doubtless unmerited, epithets on his mother and sisters. This
is, I am sorry to say, but too common a practice amongst the natives
throughout India; whenever man or beast offends them, they are in the
habit of retaliating immediately on his inoffensive female relatives.
Thus, lovely woman is ever wont to become the meek and unsuspecting
victim of him who should have been her protector; from Queen Pomare
to Mrs. Caudle, in modern times, from Medea to Xantippe, in ancient,
they are always right, and almost invariably suffer wrong. The main
cause of this injustice may be attributed to their having neglected to
maintain their undoubted right to a voice and seat in the legislature;
and though, from amiable weakness, or more laudable modesty, they have
hitherto refrained from urging their claims, it is base oppression to
take advantage of such honourable causes of reluctance. If a type of
power be wanting, it may be adduced at once; for did not the greatest
political despot of these, or any other times, refuse to accept office
until her Majesty would assent to change her female friends? A general
revolt, especially if the fair rebels only held out long enough, would
be certain of ultimate success. I speak only with regard to civilized
countries; for in the East, there are reasons which might interfere
most materially with the success of such a proceeding.

On my arrival at Merut, I found all parties deeply interested in the
news daily arriving from the frontier; the question of peace or war
decidedly held the next place in importance in the estimation of the
European community after that of the impending race meeting.

As the Merut races may not afford matter of so much general interest
elsewhere as they did in the north-western provinces of Bengal, I will
enter first on the question of secondary importance.

Notwithstanding the hostile attitude assumed by the Sikh army, Sir
Henry Hardinge continued to declare publicly his pacific wishes and
intentions, though, as a precautionary measure, the British regiments
had been drawn from the lower provinces of Bengal to strengthen the
north-western frontier.

The Sikh soldiery had held the upper hand of power since the demise of
Runjeet Singh, and, having elected their own Punchayut to legislate in
all matters connected with the army, an increase of numbers and advance
of pay had been the consequence, although the latter still continued
some months in arrears. The Ranee had continued to hold the name of
regent for her child Dhuleep Singh; and, being possessed of much
address and natural cunning, she had contrived to retain some semblance
of authority over the soldiery. Many of the sirdars, being possessed
of considerable wealth and a proportionate suite of dependents, might,
had they been united, have held a counteracting influence; but, in the
present state of affairs, they were compelled to seek popularity with
the soldiery as the most probable means of advancement. Those who of
late had held the responsible office of vizier, had found little cause
to exult in the precarious honour; for, when unpopular with the army
or brought into collision with rival chiefs, a bullet or a cimeter had
speedily ended their career. The last and recent victim had been the
Ranee's own brother, Jowahir Singh.

The winter was now far advanced; the main body of the Sikh army
assembled, as usual, at Lahore, or in its vicinity; and none of the
sirdars having of late become particularly obnoxious,[12] the soldiery
were at a sad loss in the selection of some victim to satisfy their
thirst for blood and plunder.

The idea soon suggested itself (home being nearly exhausted) to look
abroad for conquest and rapine. The most obvious and tempting prize
for their cupidity was Hindostan. The wealth of Delhi, Agra, Benares,
Calcutta, were proverbial; and the hateful Feringhees, what masses of
rupees must lay hidden in their store-houses! The British troops were
much scattered about the face of the country; many of the sepoys might
probably be induced to desert by the promise of increased pay; and were
not the Khalsas assembled together, ready for action, and irresistible?
These reflections were carefully fomented by a representation that the
governor-general was on his progress to the frontier, and had resolved
to demand from the Sikhs a cession of all lands on the British side of
the Sutlej.

What could be more conducive to the interests of the Ranee and many
of the sirdars than these projects? What easier than to write to the
British authorities a lamentation of her inability to restrain the
licentious soldiery? Should they be repulsed, the British government
must place them in a tractable and organized condition, but could
never deprive an inoffensive child, and the hereditary successor to
the throne, of its rights, for acts unauthorized by his advisers. The
moderation of the Indian government, in its successes against the
native powers, warranted such a conclusion. On the other hand, should
the Sikh army be successful, they must look to the Ranee in authority
at Lahore for numerous requisites to be supplied for the army in
the progress of the campaign, and in case of success how faithfully
they would have been supplied. Does the matter admit of a doubt? Her
faithful and confidential adviser, her more than friend, marched with
the forces, as second in command, Rajah Lal Singh.[13]

Of late, the Ranee had devoted herself much to intoxicating liquors,
and had indulged so freely that, according to the accounts forwarded
by the governor-general's agent, Major Broadfoot, she had lost much of
the energy and intelligence which used to mark her character; nor was
she by any means singular in this propensity, for the greater portion
of the Sikh sirdars followed zealously in the steps of their mistress.
The Shalimar gardens, a few miles distant from Lahore, have witnessed
scenes of drunkenness and debauchery, unparalleled, perhaps, in any of
the capitals of modern Europe. The letters from the governor-general's
agent on the north-western frontier, from May 8th to August 10th, 1845,
will throw as true a light on the occupation and morality of the court
and army of Lahore as could be sought or desired.

Rajah Ghoolab Singh,[14] the richest and most powerful of the chiefs,
having narrowly escaped the fury of the soldiery, on a recent occasion,
at Lahore, and being, moreover, unpopular with the Ranee, remained in
his own territories at Jamoo, in the hill districts, wisely resolving
to watch the progress of events, now evidently hurrying to a crisis,
and to play his own game in due season, which, in the sequel, it will
be acknowledged, he executed in masterly style. He was continually
invited and urged to descend and take a part in the impending
hostilities, but was so earnestly engaged in making preparations on an
extensive scale that it took him many weeks to reach the capital.

On more than one occasion the Sikh army had actually marched from
Lahore towards the Sutlej, with the avowed intention of invading the
British territories, but had, on second thoughts, returned to Lahore to
discuss the matter once more.

The most effective branch of the Sikh forces were the Aeen battalions,
whose discipline and formation had been the result of many years'
exertion, in the days of Runjeet, on the part of European officers in
his service. Their arms and uniform resembled much that of our native
troops, except the peculiar Sikh turban; and, until the revolutions
which succeeded Runjeet's death, their discipline had been strictly
maintained. As the officers who had brought them to a state of
efficiency and discipline had all either left the country, died, or
been otherwise summarily disposed of, the general supposition was that
these troops would no longer be very formidable, but this impression
proved incorrect. The Aeen forces have occasionally varied in strength
and numbers, but amounted at this time to sixty battalions, whereof
about forty were with the army of Lahore, and the remainder principally
quartered in the neighbourhood of Peshawur.

Six hundred men constituted the full effective strength of each
battalion, and to each were attached its own four pieces of cannon with
their complement of artillerymen.

The Sikh artillery we had seen at exercise on former occasions, and
their fire was known to be rapid and tolerably accurate; they had,
in fact, enjoyed the reputation of being, in all respects, the best
appointed arm of their service. All had been done that lay in our
power to render them effective, for, on previous occasions, when the
governor-general paid his visits to the Lahore Durbar, it had been
usual to present the best pieces of artillery procurable, which served
for excellent models in the Lahore arsenal.

The Sikh Regular Cavalry had been abolished, and replaced by hordes
of irregulars; and as no petty chief in the Punjaub appears on public
parade without a band of armed retainers, generally well mounted and
equipped, the irregular cavalry were almost numberless.

There were also some corps of irregular infantry or Bundookcheras;
these irregulars, both cavalry and infantry, might, on emergency, be
mustered to a numerical force at least double that of the regular

With an enemy of this description assembled forty miles from the
British frontier, and with fords innumerable along the line of the
Sutlej, between Ferozepore and Loodiana, during the cold season, it
must be acknowledged that the game was not an easy one to Sir Henry
Hardinge, when desirous of appearing peaceably disposed.

By the treaty of 1809, Runjeet Singh bound himself not to cross
any armed parties into the protected Sikh states, beyond what were
necessary for the collection of revenue; and when any large body of
troops were moved, an intimation of the march and the causes was
always sent to the British political agent. The vizier, Jowahir Singh,
insisted that this custom should be abolished, alleging that the Lahore
government had a right to send over any body of troops they might deem
requisite to suppress disturbances occurring in the lands in question,
without awaiting for the permission of the British authorities. The
protected Sikh chiefs, being mostly possessed of lands on both sides
of the Sutlej, concurred in Jowahir Singh's views, which tended to
establish their own independence, by permitting the passage of troops
from their possessions on one bank, to those on the other--a measure
evidently at variance with our interests and security, as it must
render all efforts to ascertain the numerical force of armed parties in
the Cis-Sutlej states abortive.

The actual assemblage of an army on the Sutlej was considered, by Sir
Henry Hardinge, unadvisable, as tending to display hostile intentions
on our part, and likely to cause a rupture with the Sikh forces in
their present excited state; yet, by refraining from such a measure,
our frontier was exposed, at any time during the winter and spring,[15]
to the ravages of an army which might commit serious depredations
before a British force could be assembled to oppose it.

The forts of Ferozepore and Loodiana were perfectly secure; the former,
being constructed on modern principles, and garrisoned by British
troops, might have held out as long as required; but both cantonments
and native towns were exposed to the will of the enemy. This was
a fundamental error in both positions, which, being thrown so far
forward from any support, should have been actually fortresses only,
constructed on the best modern principles, and unencumbered by large
towns and indefensible cantonments.

On the British side of the river, the population in the protected
Sikh states being intimately connected with that of the Punjaub, and
many portions of the land actually the property of Sikh sirdars with
the army, it is natural to suppose that we possessed but doubtful
friends in case of their being called upon. On the other hand, it was
maintained that the position of these lands would be a guarantee for
the good behaviour of their owners residing in the Punjaub, whose
interests would probably suffer in case of a rupture.

The Rajah of Puttealah, the most powerful chief residing in the
protected states, had long been a firm ally of the British Government,
but his power to restrain his followers was doubtful; at the best, no
doubt was entertained that they would not act in offensive measures
against their Sikh kinsmen.


[Footnote 7: Though from a different cause, the bore of the Ganges
proceeding from spring tides forced up the narrow gorge of the Bay
of Bengal; that on the Damooda, from the inundation bursting its

[Footnote 8: If there happen to be rocks in the stream, a strike is apt
to prove fatal to the raft.]

[Footnote 9: Known in India as the "gour." Those who may be desirous of
reading an animated description of the pursuit of this noble game, will
find an article in the first number of the "Indian Sporting Review,"
signed "Junglee," written by a sportsman who has few rivals and no
superiors. He is the acknowledged monarch of the jungles, and long may
he reign.]

[Footnote 10: The remainder resided near Calcutta, at Dum-dum, the
artillery cantonment.]

[Footnote 11: The credit of this improvement is due to Lord

[Footnote 12: Some of the soldiers had suggested the murder of the
sirdars, Lal Singh and Tig Singh (two chiefs of the army), as a
temporary amusement, but the majority being indifferent to the measure,
the subject was allowed to drop.]

[Footnote 13: Lal Singh's presence with the army was deemed, by the
Punchees, (military delegates,) a politic measure, and a sort of
security for the good behaviour of _her respectable_ majesty the Ranee.]

[Footnote 14: Ghoolab Singh, Soochet Singh, and Dyan Singh, were
three brothers who had risen to eminence in the time of Runjeet, from
comparative obscurity. The two latter fell, during the wholesale
massacres at Lahore, a short time ago.]

[Footnote 15: In the hot season, when the rains set in, the heavy
floods and inundations are a sufficient protection to the frontier.]



Under the circumstances thus briefly detailed, it would appear to have
been expedient to bring matters at once to a crisis; for this annual
threatening posture assumed by the gigantic incubus which Runjeet Singh
had created on our threshold, could not be suffered permanently to draw
the strength of the British forces in the presidency to guard their
frontier. But it was generally understood that the wishes of Leadenhall
Street were strongly in favour of a pacific line of conduct, and thus
the governor-general had little choice as to the line of operations to
be pursued.

No actual increase of numbers over the preceding year took place on the
frontier, but nearly every British regiment in Bengal had been marched
to the north-western provinces.

Umbala was the cantonment for the main body of the army, to which
Ferozepore and Loodiana were the outposts on the Sutlej, distant
respectively one hundred and ten, and seventy miles, whilst the base
line connecting the latter places measured about seventy-five miles.

The reserve force remained at Merut, which, being one hundred and fifty
miles from Umbala, and more than two hundred and sixty from Ferozepore,
might appear the most defective part of the arrangement.

The whole of the Bengal presidency had been so drained of British
troops to supply the north-western provinces, that from Merut
to Calcutta (nearly nine hundred miles,) there remained but one
British infantry regiment[16] to overawe the numerous independent
principalities of India, to garrison Fort William, and to show the
people of Hindostan that the British had not altogether forsaken them
in their ardour to form new acquaintances on the frontier. No one
will assert that the gallant 39th had not a handful of responsibility
assigned them, and none were more capable of undertaking whatever
Britons could effect, than the victors of Maharajpore.

The forces at Ferozepore, Loodiana, and Umbala, including the
regiments at the hill stations of Kussowlie and Subathoo, amounted to
about twenty thousand men, with seventy pieces of cannon, (six and
nine-pounders, and twelve and twenty-four-pound howitzers.) This force
having been warned some weeks previously to complete their marching
establishment, were available for field service at a few hours' notice.

The regiments composing the above-named force were as follow:--H.M.'s
3rd Light Dragoons, and seven regiments of Native Cavalry; H.M.'s 9th,
29th, 31st, 50th, 62nd, and 80th Regiments; the Company's European
Regiment, and fourteen regiments of Native Infantry, exclusive of
the Sirmoor and Nusseeree battalions, which were destined to garrison
Loodiana in case of emergency.

The reserve force, at Merut, amounted to more than four thousand
men, including H.M. 9th and 16th Lancers, 3rd Native Cavalry, H.M.
10th Regiment, two corps of Native Infantry, and two troops of Horse
Artillery. An elephant battery of twelve-pounders also moved with the
reserve force. Other corps in the neighbourhood or on the line of march
might complete the whole reserve force to a numerical strength of about
eight thousand men.

Thus, within a month, the whole army might, when concentrated on the
frontier, amount, in round numbers, to nearly thirty thousand men, with
one hundred pieces of artillery. Nearly one-third of which force would
consist of British troops, including the artillery, of which not more
than one-third were natives.

With such an army at his disposal, Sir Henry Hardinge cannot be deemed
guilty of having despised his enemies.

On the 20th of November, Major Broadfoot[17] communicated to the
governor-general that the information which he had received from Lahore
led him to suppose that the Sikhs had resolved on an advance towards
the Sutlej, for the purpose of invading the British territories, and
the next day's accounts tended to corroborate this statement.

On the 24th and 25th of November, a great portion of the Sikh
army were on their march towards the Sutlej, openly proclaiming
their intentions of crossing the river. On this news reaching the
governor-general's camp, the Sikh Vakeel (ambassador) was called upon
for an explanation of this hostile attitude, and being unable to give
any satisfactory answer, was ordered, on the 4th of December, to quit
the governor-general's camp at Umbala, and return to the Punjaub.

After the Vakeel's departure, Sir Henry Hardinge continued to advance
peaceably towards the frontier, visiting the protected Sikh states;
nor were orders issued for the movement of any portion of the army
until the 8th of December, which order did not reach army head-quarters
before the 10th of that month.

Sir Henry, in common with the primates in office, had unhappily so
far misjudged the Sikh character, as to suppose it was the intention
both of their government and soldiery to provoke, but not to commit,
hostilities.[18] The attitude and operations of the enemy, when once
the war broke out, evidently displayed the aggressive policy which
guided their efforts. One cause of ill-feeling engendered in the
Punjaub against the British Government, may be traced to a journal
published in the north-western provinces of India, whose inflammatory
articles had long-pointed out the Punjaub as a worthy object of
cupidity, and such sentiments, when circulated amongst the proud and
suspicious Sikhs, were doubtless mistaken for an exposition of the
views of Government, and must have gone far to stir the national

When the Sikh forces had actually quitted Lahore in progress to the
Sutlej, there could remain no doubt of the object of their march,
however sceptical many might be of the continuation of their humour;
and had it then been decided to move the Merut force[19] towards the
frontier, the features of the subsequent operations must have undergone
a material change by such an accession of strength, and especially of
cavalry, of which there was a sad deficiency. In lieu of being moved
on the 26th of November, the main column of that force did not quit
cantonments until the 16th of December, only two days before the action
fought at Moodkee. In the governor-general's dispatch, it is stated
that all troops destined for service on the frontier _had_ marched by
the 12th of December. Sir John Grey's division of the army were not all
on the line of march before the 16th, as before stated.

When the Sikhs had moved six brigades towards the Sutlej, on the 25th
of November, the most prudent and fastidious of the peace party could
not have reasonably objected to the advance of the reserve to Kurnal,
which would have brought them eighty miles nearer the scene of action,
and within three or four days reach of Umbala.

The force at army head-quarters having moved, pursuant to orders,
under the personal command of his Excellency Sir Hugh Gough, on the
11th and 12th of December, all doubt of the requisition of their
services was cleared up on the 13th, by receipt of intelligence at the
governor-general's camp, that the Sikhs, who had been assembled in
great force, for some days, at Hureeka ford, about twenty miles above
Ferozepore, had at length commenced the passage of the Sutlej. For two
or three days previously to their crossing, their hostile spirit was
fully evinced, by firing upon our reconnoitring parties from Ferozepore.

Sir John Littler, who was in command at Ferozepore, immediately
occupied a defensive position, but was not in sufficient force to
oppose the passage of so numerous an army as the Sikhs displayed, and
amply provided with heavy artillery to cover their landing.

It was fortunate that this important news reached head-quarters so
safely and expeditiously; for thenceforth a long farewell was taken of
all communication between the provinces and the interesting field of
operations on the north-west frontier.

On hearing that the enemy had actually invaded our territories, Sir
Henry Hardinge hastened with the small force at Loodiana[20] to form a
junction with Sir Hugh Gough, near Bussean, and issued a proclamation,
calling on the chiefs in the protected Sikh states to be quiet and
faithful, whilst the British army hastened to encounter and chastise
their treacherous invaders.

The junction between the Umbala and Loodiana forces was effected
without interruption; and all heavy baggage with the force having been
deposited at Bussean, where a large depôt for commissariat supplies
had been established, in case of the army being called into the field,
the forces hastily advanced towards Ferozepore to encounter the enemy.

Worn and harassed by forced marches,[21] and a constant scarcity
of water, the united forces, under the command of Sir Hugh Gough,
advanced, on the morning of the 18th of December, towards the fortified
village of Moodkee, pressing forward "with hot haste," lest the heart
of the Sikhs should fail them, and no fight take place. At least, such
appears to have been the object of these forced marches, for it is
distinctly asserted that Ferozepore was not considered in any danger,
as the fort could hold out for an indefinite time, and the town and
cantonment could not have been entitled to more consideration than was
bestowed on poor forsaken Loodiana.

On the memorable 18th of December, the cavalry and horse artillery
reached the village of Moodkee, about one P.M., after a severe march
of twenty-one miles, the greater portion of the infantry being still a
considerable distance in the rear, and, of course, much fatigued.

The cavalry pickets were moving to their posts soon after arrival, as
usual, when clouds of dust were discerned through the jungle, which
announced the approach of the enemy. Previously to arrival at Moodkee,
a small reconnoitring party of horse had been descried, who fell
back forthwith; but the enemy had scoured the whole country in the
morning, with their cavalry, and taken an officer prisoner,[22] and the
probable time of arrival had been well calculated. Major Broadfoot,
whose experience of native warfare had been gleaned amongst the rugged
defiles of Afghanistan, where his gallantry and intelligence had earned
him an undying fame, was firmly convinced of the enemy's vicinity,
and had some hours before intimated his belief: but doubts were still

Moodkee is a small compact fort, situated on a mound commanding the
country, which is open and sandy for a circle of about three quarters
of a mile radius, taking the fort as a centre; thence, the country
becomes close, with stunted trees and bushes at a few yards interval
from each other, affording excellent shelter for irregular troops, but
mainly obstructing operations of regular cavalry, or bodies moving in
compact order from manoeuvring with precision.

When the alarm of the Sikhs' approach reached camp, the cavalry and
horse artillery moved forward towards the jungle, and the infantry, as
each brigade arrived within reach of the scene of operation, hastened
to take part in the fray.

The enemy, whose numbers and intentions were effectually masked by
the nature of the ground which he occupied, opened a heavy fire of
artillery, which crashed through the jungle with serious effect upon
the advancing column, who received the deadly blows without perceiving
whence the missives proceeded.

Our light guns were brought rapidly into play; but the advantage of
position was with the Sikhs, added to which, they came fresh into the
field. The struggle under these disadvantages threatened to be severe.

As each of the brigades of infantry endeavoured to fall into its place
in advancing, they found themselves so much impeded by the number
of stunted trees, that it was difficult to ascertain their relative
positions or to form with their accustomed regularity, whilst the Sikh
cavalry, hovering in the vicinity, threatened momentarily to charge.

The infantry, being ordered to deploy, effected that movement with
as much regularity as the ground permitted, whilst the cavalry were
directed to attack and turn the Sikh flanks, and to disperse the hordes
of Goorcheras[23] who infested the jungle. The gallant 3rd Dragoons,
sweeping the Goorcheras from before them, penetrated the heavy covert,
and, riding through the Sikh artillery, silenced their fire for a time;
but the enemy's matchlock men, from behind the hillocks and bushes, and
many of them perched amongst the branches of the low trees, whence they
could act with impunity, inflicted a severe loss on the Dragoons. When
this fact was ascertained, the pistol and carbine were brought into
play with some effect on these jungle fowl, but many a gallant fellow
was stretched on the ground in this unequal contest.

The Sikh artillery, having again opened fire, continued to tell with
murderous effect, and did material damage to our Light Artillery, whose
horses, wearied with a long march, were not in the best condition for
hard work.

Meanwhile, our infantry, having approached the Sikh position, poured in
a steady rolling fire, which was, however, as steadily met, whilst the
grape-shot from their battery in the centre caused fearful gaps amongst
the British ranks.

The enemy, under cover of the hillocks and thick patches of jungle,
maintained his post with the utmost resolution, whilst the declining
light favoured this mode of warfare on the part of the Sikhs. Our
troops continued gradually to advance, whilst the enemy, falling back,
and having abandoned his heaviest battery, was not disposed to await
the issue of the bayonet, when the choice rested on his side.

A bright December's evening enabled the contending parties faintly
to distinguish each other's outline, but the Sikhs had now suffered
severely; and, having failed in their main object of surprise, Lal
Singh conveyed the orders to his troops to retire. The enemy therefore
abandoned the field to the British, having been compelled to suffer a
loss of fifteen guns and to cast others into the wells in the village
in rear of his position.

When it was ascertained that the Sikhs had finally retired, the men
rested themselves for the first time during that toilsome and eventful
day; but bodily fatigue was a trifling evil when compared with the
parching thirst from which all had long suffered, and from which there
was yet no relief. But if those who escaped unharmed had undergone
incredible hardships, the agonies of the wounded can scarcely be
conjectured, as only partial relief could be afforded amongst the
crowds of sufferers.

The enemy having made no demonstrations of renewing the attack, the
troops were withdrawn, about midnight, to their encampments at Moodkee.

The forces engaged on the British side, during this action, amounted
to something less than ten thousand men and forty-five guns. The return
of losses gives two hundred and fifteen killed and six hundred and
fifty seven wounded.

The enemy's force encountered at Moodkee was estimated, in the
despatches, at fifteen thousand Infantry, as many cavalry, and
forty guns.[24] Of course it is necessary to form some estimate of
the enemy's force on such occasions; but though always a difficult
operation with regard to native armies, in this instance it could be
no more than mere conjecture, for the jungle prevented the chance of
giving anything resembling an accurate judgment.

The enemy's loss was never ascertained; but, judging from the bodies
scattered over the country, the number of killed may be set down at
about three hundred. Their wounded were carried to Ferozeshuhur and
the villages in the neighbouring country, so that the Sikhs themselves
were, doubtless, never aware of the actual amount.

Amongst the officers who fell in this action was the gallant Sir Robert
Sale, whose leg was shattered by a grape shot. The shock proved fatal
to him in the course of the night of the 18th.

Ever foremost in the numerous actions in which he was engaged, it is
only a matter of wonder that so fearless a soldier should so long
have been spared. The battle-field was his element; and had the fates
permitted him to select his last resting-place, he would have asked no
other than the path of victory, beneath which he sleeps. The combined
roar of eighty pieces of cannon saluted the parting spirit of the hero
of Jellalabad on the field of strife; and though his remains rest
on the far-distant eastern plains which have witnessed his warlike
achievements, yet will his name descend to posterity bright in the
ranks of England's departed heroes.

Sir Hugh Gough heartily congratulated the troops on their gallantry.
Such an eulogium is valuable, coming from a veteran, whose undaunted
bearing and personal example (on every occasion in the front, or "where
death came thickest,") was the universal theme of applause in the army.

When we consider the position and the circumstances under which the
action was fought, the principal difficulty that presents itself
for explanation is the extreme alacrity manifested to commence the
engagement before the whole army was prepared. It has long been the
practice in India to hasten forward under all disadvantages, and attack
an enemy when once within reach; but, although this system has often
been successfully practised, under the impression that such active and
bold measures inspire confidence and daring amongst our native army,
it becomes a critical experiment when brought into play with a more
enterprising foe.

After crossing the Sutlej, the Sikhs, leaving a small force to watch
Ferozepore, advanced more than twelve miles into our territories, and
occupied a position, which they speedily entrenched, at Ferozeshuhur.
From the latter place a division of their army was detached to Moodkee,
with the evident intention of surprising the Governor-general's camp,
after a long march.

On the arrival of the Governor-general at Bussean, it is probable
that the enemy's spies gave intelligence of the Loodiana force being
at Bussean with the Governor-general; and the enemy, unaware of the
junction which had been arranged with Sir Hugh Gough, conceived that
when the force advanced to Moodkee a master-stroke might be effected,
at the outset of the war, by surprising and capturing Sir Henry
Hardinge, and destroying the force which accompanied his excellency
as an escort. Had they imagined that the main body of the army were
advancing on Moodkee, the enemy would surely have attached a larger
force of artillery, on which arm, as before stated, they place their
main confidence.

At two P.M. on the day of the battle--viz., at the time our troops
turned out to attack, the cavalry and artillery had just arrived,
much jaded after their long march, and the infantry brigades had not
all arrived, but received their orders whilst on the line of march,
to hasten forward with all possible speed, and take up their posts on
the field of action. On riding over the ground, some time after the
action was fought, it appeared to me that the fortified village of
Moodkee would have afforded an admirable position to be occupied by
such portion of the wearied infantry and artillery, as had arrived on
the ground; and their numbers would have been concealed from the enemy.
This would have afforded them rest, and water, of which there was an
abundance around the village; and our cavalry pickets, falling back,
would have drawn the enemy most probably upon the open ground, which
he had then nearly reached; and, being emboldened by perceiving few
of the British forces, and those not advancing, is it not reasonable
to conclude that he would have become the assailant? Had the Sikhs
attacked us while so posted, the force in Moodkee might have engaged
the attention of the enemy, whilst our cavalry and rear brigades of
infantry, by making a trifling detour in the jungle, would have taken
the Sikh forces in reverse, and probably given them more cause to
regret their advance from Ferozeshuhur than as matters actually befel.

Had the Sikhs not attacked when our cavalry pickets retired upon
Moodkee, our forces would have been fresh, and better prepared for
action the following morning; and the 19th of December ought to have
yielded more favourable results, under such circumstances, than the

Taking, as a third supposition, that the Sikh force would have fallen
back during the night on their main column at Ferozeshuhur, the
conclusion is, that there would have been no battle of Moodkee, and
that Ferozeshuhur might have been fought on the 20th, in lieu of the
21st and 22nd of December, in neither of which cases can I see any
ground for supposing that our interests would have suffered.

I have heard it suggested, that if the enemy had not been engaged
at Moodkee, there was a probability of his turning our flank, and
threatening the provinces; if such had been his intention, it is
probable that he would have taken another line of country, and not
the road by which our forces were advancing, for the country affords
anywhere a ready passage for troops, and they are not confined to any
particular track, as in inclosed countries.


 |                             |        KILLED.         |         WOUNDED.       |
 |                             +------+-------+---------+------+-------+---------+
 |                             |Offi- |Native |Privates.|Offi- |Native |Privates,|
 |                             | cers.|& non  |         | cers.|& non  |Fifers, &|
 |                             |      |commis-|         |      |commis-|Drummers.|
 |                             |      |sioned.|         |      |sioned.|         |
 |Personal staff               |    2 |    -- |    --   |    2 |  --   |   --    |
 |General staff                |    1 |    -- |    --   |    1 |  --   |   --    |
 |                             |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |Artillery Division.          |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  (Col. Brooke, com.)        |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  Horse                      |    2 |     3 |    11   |    4 |   3   |   19    |
 |  Foot                       |    1 |     1 |     2   |   -- |  --   |    8    |
 |                             |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |Cavalry Division.            |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  (Brig. White.)             |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  Staff                      |   -- |    -- |    --   |    2 |  --   |   --    |
 |  H.M.'s 3rd Light Dragoons  |    2 |     5 |    53   |    3 |   3   |   29    |
 |  Body-guard (natives)       |    1 |    -- |     6   |    2 |   2   |   15    |
 |  4th Native Cavalry         |  --  |    -- |     2   |   -- |  --   |    4    |
 |  5th ditto                  |   -- |    -- |     8   |    2 |   1   |   16    |
 |  9th ditto Irregulars       |   -- |     1 |     3   |   -- |   1   |    7    |
 |                             |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |1st Infantry Division.       |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  (Sir Harry Smith.)         |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  Staff                      |   1  |    -- |    --   |    4 |  --   |   --    |
 |  1st Brigade, H.M. 31st Rgt.|   1  |     2 |    22   |    7 |   4   |  121    |
 |     " 47th Native Infantry  |  --  |    -- |     6   |    1 |  --   |    8    |
 |  2nd ditto H.M. 50th Rgt.   |   1  |    -- |    11   |    5 |   5   |   87    |
 |  " 42nd Native Infantry     |   1  |     1 |    25   |    1 |   6   |   55    |
 |  " 48th ditto               |  --  |     2 |     5   |   -- |   7   |   28    |
 |                             |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |2nd Infantry Division.       |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  (Gen. Gilbert.)            |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  Staff                      |  --  |    -- |    --   |    1 |  --   |   --    |
 |  45th Native Infantry       |  --  |    -- |     1   |   -- |  --   |    1    |
 |  2nd ditto                  |  --  |    -- |    14   |    3 |   6   |   48    |
 |  16th ditto                 |  --  |     1 |     2   |   -- |   9   |   32    |
 |                             |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |3rd Infantry Division.       |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  (Sir J. M'Caskill.)        |      |       |         |      |       |         |
 |  Staff                      |   1  |    -- |    --   |      |       |         |
 |  H.M.'s 9th Regiment        |  --  |    -- |     2   |    1 |   2   |   47    |
 |  26th Native Infantry       |  --  |    -- |    --   |   -- |   1   |    3    |
 |  73rd ditto                 |  --  |    -- |     1   |   -- |   1   |    5    |
 |  H.M.'s 80th Regiment       |  --  |     1 |     3   |   1  |  --   |   19    |
 |  11th Native Infantry       |  --  |    -- |    --   |   -- |  --   |   --    |
 |  41st ditto                 |  --  |    -- |    --   |   -- |  --   |   --    |


 European officers                           13
 Native ditto                                 2
 Non-commissioned officers, privates, &c.   192
 Syces, followers, &c.                        3
                                   Total    210


 European officers                           39
 Native ditto                                 9
 Non-commissioned officers, privates, &c.   588
 Syces, drivers, &c.                         21
                                   Total    657



 Head 2nd staff      Major-General Sir R. Sale.
       "             Major Herries, A.D.C.
       "             Capt. Munro, A.D.C.
 Artillery           Captain Trower.
       "             Lieut. Pollock.
 3rd Light Dragoons  Capt. Newton.
       "             Cornet Worley.
 Body-guard          Lieut. Fisher.
 Staff               Capt. Van Homrigh, 48th N.I.
 H.M.'s 31st         Lieut. Hart.
 H.M.'s 50th         Assistant-Surgeon Graydon.
 42nd N.I.          Lieut. Spence.
 3rd Division        Major-General Sir J. M'Caskill.


 Head 2nd staff      Major Grant, D.A.G., dangerously.
       "             Capt. Hillier, A.D.C., severely.
       "             Capt. Edwards, A.D.C.
       "             Capt. Dashwood, since dead.
       "             Lieut. Cox.
 Artillery           Lieut. Wheelright.
       "             Lieut. Bowie.
       "             Brigadier Mactier, severely.
       "             Brigade-Major Capt. Harrington, do.
 3rd Light Dragoons  Lieut. Fisher, ditto.
       "             Lieut. Swinton, ditto.
       "             Lieut. Cureton, ditto.
 Body-guard          Capt. Dawkins, ditto.
       "             Lieut. Taylor, ditto.
 5th Cavalry         Major Alexander.
       "             Lieut. Christie.
 1st Division        Brigadier Bolton, since dead.
       "             Brigadier Wheeler, severely.
 Engineers           Lieut. Nicolls, ditto.
 H.M.'s 31st         Captain Lugard.
       "             Lieut.-Col. Byrne, since dead.
       "             Capt. Willis, dangerously.
       "             Capt. Bulkeley, ditto.
       "             Capt. Young, ditto.
       "             Lieut. Pollard.
       "             Lieut. Brenchley, since dead.
 47th N.I.          Lieut. Pogson, dangerously.
 H.M.'s 50th         Capt. Needham, severely.
       "             Lieut. Bishop, ditto.
       "             Lieut. Young, ditto.
       "             Lieut. Montmorency, ditto.
       "             Lieut. Carter.
 42nd N.I.          Lieut. Holt.
 H.M.'s 9th          Assist.-Surgeon Gahan, dangerously.
       "             Lieut. Hanham, slightly.
 Staff               Major Codrington, severely.
 2nd N.I.            Captain Bolton, ditto.
       "             Captain Gifford, ditto.
 H.M.'s 80th         Ensign Walden, ditto.
       "             Colonel Bunbury, ditto.


 |         |           |         |          | Weight   |
 | Number. | Ordnance. |  Metal. | Calibre. | of shot. |
 |         |           |         | in. tenths.         |
 |    6    |   Guns    |  Brass  |  4     6    12 pr.  |
 |    1    | Howitzer  |  Ditto  |  6     5     6-1/2  |
 |    4    |   Guns    |  Ditto  |  4     2     9 pr.  |
 |    3    |   Ditto   |  Ditto  |  3     6     6 pr.  |
 |    1    |   Ditto   |  Ditto  |  2     9     3 pr.  |
 |   --    |           |         |                     |
 |   15    |           |         |                     |

 It was impossible to compute the metal in these guns; but it was
 evident they were heavier than those of similar calibre in the Bengal

 The carriages all in good repair, except one or two, struck by our
 shot. The whole were destroyed, and the guns left at Moodkee.

 Four guns, reported to have been dismounted, and left on the ground by
 the men of the Horse Artillery, for want of means to bring them away.

 (Signed)      G. Brooke,
 Brigadier, Artillery.


[Footnote 16: H.M. 39th. The 61st Regiment landed in December, and were
immediately ordered up the country.]

[Footnote 17: Governor-General to the Secret Committee. Letter No. 9.]

[Footnote 18: Vide Governor-General's Minute, dated, "Camp, Umbala,
Dec. 4, 1845."]

[Footnote 19: H.M.'s 9th Lancers were actually moved about this time,
_by mistake_, but, three days afterwards, were counter-marched to
Merut again, the commander-in-chief's measures being cancelled. Sir H.
Gough's letter to Major Broadfoot, Nov. 20, 1845.]

[Footnote 20: The few men incapable of severe duty were left in the
fort of Loodiana. The cantonments were unoccupied.]

[Footnote 21: Some petty chiefs manifested their hostility by shutting
their gates and refusing supplies, but were speedily brought to

[Footnote 22: Captain Biddulph, who was taken prisoner at Moodkee, was
restored, two days after the battle, having undergone great hardships.]

[Footnote 23: Sikh irregular horse.]

[Footnote 24: I was informed, at Lahore, that their whole force at
Moodkee was under twenty thousand men; but it was only the bare
assertion of a Sikh officer, and may be taken at its value.]



On the morning of the 19th, intelligence was brought by the spies that
the whole forces of the Sikhs had resolved upon advancing to attack the
British army at Moodkee. Preparations were made to receive them, and a
more advantageous post than that of the former day was taken up, to act
on the defensive, as reinforcements were hourly expected.

The spies' reports proved false, as is not unfrequently the case in
Indian warfare, and on the night of the 19th, the arrival of H.M. 29th
Regiment, and the Company's 1st European Regiment, from their hill
cantonments, was welcomed with much satisfaction.

The 20th of December was given to the army to recruit their strength,
after the toil they had endured, and to prepare for the approaching

Authentic accounts having been received of the enemy being in position
at Ferozeshuhur, about nine miles from Moodkee, and twelve from
Ferozepore, and on the direct line of communication between those
places, orders were sent to Sir John Littler, commanding at Ferozepore,
to move out, with his division, from cantonments, and unite with the
main column in the attack on the enemy planned for the following day.

Early on the morning of the 21st of December, the British forces
advanced from Moodkee, having left the wounded in charge of a small
party in the fort, and marching slowly in order of battle, moved
obliquely from the enemy's position towards Ferozepore. Having marched
across about fifteen miles of country, covered mostly with the same
stunted trees as at Moodkee, and in other places with a sandy soil, on
which grain and wheat had been planted, Sir John Littler's division was
descried advancing about one in the afternoon.

Sir John Littler having left two regiments of Native Infantry to
protect Ferozepore, and eluded the vigilance of the enemy's cavalry,
who were posted to watch his division, effected a junction with the
main column unmolested by the enemy.

The position of Ferozeshuhur was then hastily reconnoitred. The Sikh
camp, consisting of a dense and confused mass of tents, encompassed the
village of Ferozeshuhur, which occupied a rising ground, and was armed
with batteries of heavy guns. The entrenchments, which had been thrown
forward to cover the village, were an irregular quadrangular figure,
of upwards of eighteen hundred yards in length, and rather more than
half that distance in breadth, and consisted of a ditch, about four
feet in depth and from six to seven in breadth, the deblai earth from
which formed a parapet, protecting the defenders from fire of grape
or musketry. Batteries of the enemy's lighter guns were disposed at
intervals in rear of the parapets, where the ground was uniformly flat,
save in the centre of the position, where it rose gradually into the
mound, covered by the mud-houses of the village, as before mentioned.

In front of the entrenchment, every obstacle to the range of fire had
been removed, and a plain, mostly bare, or producing scanty crops,
presented no shelter for the assailants; such trees or shrubs as might
have afforded any cover, having been lopped or cleared away by the

The village of Ferozeshuhur is situated on the road between Moodkee and
Ferozepore, but the road is rarely a matter of much consideration in
military operations in India, where the country is usually flat, and
unobstructed by fences.

It was past four in the afternoon when the British forces advanced
to storm this position, defended, as it was conjectured, by an
army of more than fifty thousand Sikhs. The investing force,
numbering altogether about sixteen thousand five hundred men, with
sixty-six pieces of artillery, (six and nine-pounders, twelve and
twenty-four-pound howitzers, and two eight-inch mortars,) were formed
in two lines; the first consisted of Generals Gilbert and Littler's
divisions, and Col. Wallace's brigade, with the principal force of
artillery in the centre, and one troop of horse artillery on each flank.

The reserve force, comprising the division of Sir Harry Smith, the
cavalry, and a troop of horse artillery, formed a second line.

Sir Hugh Gough personally directed the operations of the right, and Sir
Henry Hardinge, who had volunteered his services, as second in command,
superintended the movements on the left.

When at a distance of about eleven hundred yards from the works, the
oppressive silence was broken by the voice of our mortars hurling
their loads of hissing iron through the air. The enemy's batteries
opened forthwith, and soon enveloped the works in smoke. The light
field batteries now began their part in the fray, at a distance of
about eight hundred yards, to cover the advance, and shortly afterwards
the whole of our artillery opened at a nearer range; but the Sikh
fire told with deadly effect, and many of the British light guns were
disabled, even before they were unlimbered. It soon became evident that
the Sikhs had the range of their batteries accurately measured, and
that our light guns were unable to cope with the enemy's artillery,
which being of very heavy metal, though not of large calibre, they were
enabled to use double charges of powder, grape, and round shot.

Under cover of the clouds and dust which wrapped the scene of
contention, our line of infantry continued to advance, and the
commander-in-chief, perceiving that the contest could only be decided
by a hand to hand struggle, ordered the entrenchments to be stormed
with the bayonet.

One incessant stream of fire continued to issue from the canopy of
smoke which enveloped the works, and the deadly breaks in each regiment
told with what murderous effect the enemy served his batteries; yet
their assailants, though broken and checked, still approached the
entrenchments with invincible resolution; but now, from behind the
batteries, poured forth a rolling shower of musketry, which seemed to
threaten utter annihilation to the daring and exposed force of Britons,
now reduced from brigades to regiments.

Night was fast approaching; the Sikh army continued to pour death into
our ranks, and received the roll of our musketry, under cover of their
trenches, with comparative impunity.

With that unconquerable determination which has marked the British
soldier in the hour of direst carnage, that gallant band rushed
onwards, seeking only to close in hand to hand conflict with their
galling antagonists, through the iron shower which tore their ranks
at every step, checked only where death had made so wide a gap, that
time was required to fill the deadly intervals, and give breath to the

At one point, on the left of the attacking line, where Sir John
Littler's division was engaged, the incessant stream of fire from the
batteries, and the rain of musketry from behind them, was such, that
one British regiment (the 62nd) was nearly destroyed.[25] One-third of
the regiment were stretched on the field, when the brigadier, seeing
the utter hopelessness of carrying the enemy's strongest battery,
defended by thousands of musketeers, with the shattered remainder of
the 62nd, which had been left to do the work single-handed, gave orders
to retire.

On the centre and right the attack was more successful, the enemy's
entrenchments being penetrated, after a desperate struggle, at several
points, by General Gilbert's and Colonel Wallace's attack; but so
intermixed were the combatants, and so stunning was the din of battle
around the entrenchments, which were enveloped in impenetrable clouds
of smoke and dust, that it was impossible for the leaders to ascertain
the success or even the position of other brigades. Cheering on his
men, and just surmounting the enemy's entrenchments, fell Colonel
Taylor, at the head of his regiment, the gallant 9th, which he had led
so often to victory, but never before under such a fire as poured from
the trenches of Ferozeshuhur.

Chafing under the obstinate resistance of the enemy, the rash
Broadfoot, with his characteristic contempt of danger, charged,
single-handed, one of the enemy's howitzers with countless defenders,
and fell at its mouth.

Sir Hugh Gough and Sir Henry Hardinge were ever with the foremost in
the fight, cheering all to renewed exertions, and affording personal
examples of contempt for danger which were gloriously followed by their
dauntless comrades.

Three batteries were captured, and on those points the enemy fell back
from their entrenchments; but from the village and the inner trenches
on the flanks still streamed forth the iron shower, rendered less
deadly by the obscurity of evening. In the meantime, the reserve, under
Sir Harry Smith, had forced their way through every obstacle, and,
having penetrated the entrenchments, established themselves in the
village, unaware of the post of the remainder of the army; but there,
in the midst of the enemy's lines, stood the banners of the glorious

Hoping that yet, ere night had fallen, the Sikhs might be driven from
all their entrenchments, an order was issued for Colonel White's
brigade of cavalry to charge the daring front which was still presented
for defence. With alacrity was the order obeyed, and the exhausted
British infantry rested for an interval on their arms, whilst a rushing
sound, as of a suddenly bursting tempest, was heard approaching the
fray, and onwards came H.M. 3rd Light Dragoons to the charge. The
entrenchments and the batteries were equally futile obstacles to
oppose those gallant cavaliers, though the former brought many a horse
and rider to the ground, and the latter tore a deadly gap through
their ranks. Onwards poured the glittering squadrons, in spite of all
resistance, over the entrenchments, past the batteries, through the
very heart of the enemy's camp, the Sikhs falling back bewildered at
this unexpected mode of warfare.

Though paralyzed for a time by the strange onslaught of these bold
horsemen charging for a second time resolutely into the midst of their
army, yet the Sikhs, recovering from their surprise, began to pour a
destructive fire of musketry amongst the Dragoons,[26] who had been
much scattered, owing to the ground over which they had charged; and,
as each saddle was emptied, countless knives and tolwars awaited the
ill-fated soldier who was dismounted.

Having ridden throughout the enemy's lines, and being much broken
and thinned in numbers, they now charged back again, though scarcely
bringing two thirds of their numbers unwounded out of the enemy's lines.

One officer, Lieut. Burton, having lost his charger amongst hordes
of the enemy, and sought hopelessly for another, perceived a party
of dragoons close to him, and, seizing the tail of a horse, was
dragged by him at full speed through the camp, until, on arriving at
the entrenchments, the trooper, bounding over the ditch, dashed the
officer with such violence against the counterscarp that he lost the
hold he had so desperately retained, but still lives to confirm the

Darkness now caused the fire on each side to slacken, part of the
enemy's camp and field works being in our possession, whilst the Sikhs
continued to hold the remainder; but darkness brought no rest to the
brave and wearied soldier; for the enemy's expense magazines continued
to explode in various parts of the works, the slow matches or burning
cartridges falling amongst them, and several were blown up or scorched
thereby. The main column of our troops were, in consequence of these
disasters, ordered to withdraw outside the trenches, where they lay
amongst the bodies of their dead and dying comrades, worn out with
their almost unremitted exertions; faint from hunger, but, worse than
all, parched with intolerable thirst, as few of the water-carriers who
accompany an Indian army on active service had ventured to the ground
where the Britons lay during that awful night.

The enemy had no intention of allowing the time to pass unprofitably
while darkness prevailed, but, on ascertaining the position occupied by
our soldiers outside the entrenchments, they sent spies who indicated
the direction by tinkling a bell and running off, or by affixing a blue
light to a stick, which was placed in the ground and lighted to serve
as a direction for the Sikh guns, which forthwith opened a galling
fire. One cannon of heavy metal was plied with such effect that H.M.
80th Regiment, and 1st Europeans were ordered to advance and take it,
which duty they speedily accomplished.

The night of the 21st of December, naturally the longest of the year,
seemed almost an eternity to the wearied "army of the Sutlej," and
unhappily proved so to many, for the Sikhs lost no opportunity of
inflicting injury.

The thirst which afflicted many was so oppressive, that it overcame
all other considerations, and many of the soldiers strayed in search of
water towards the village, heedless of the vicinity of the enemy.

A portion of Sir Harry Smith's division, which had occupied the village
in the entrenchments, remained a great part of the night in that post,
darkness preventing them from ascertaining the position occupied by the
remainder of the army. In the pell-mell assault, regiment had become
so intermixed with regiment, that it is difficult to particularize the
exploits of an individual corps, as a portion of some other, in all
probability, bore a share of the labour.

In the course of the night Sir Harry Smith's division withdrew
from their advanced post, and, being unable to discover the
commander-in-chief's column, retired to a village at about a mile and a
half's distance from the trenches.

Sir John Littler's division was also unsuccessful in finding
head-quarters during this awful night of errors, nor did either of
these divisions reach the main column of the army till they had renewed
the attack on the following morning.

The dawn of day on the 22nd of December served to restore some order
amongst the troops, and to discover the enemy still occupying the
entrenchments. The British soldier was again called to action, sinking
with hunger, thirst, and toil, and responded to that call on which hung
the fate of the British empire in India, with untiring devotion. A
line was formed of our shattered forces, and Sir Hugh Gough, animating
all around him by his zeal and example, pressed forwards to clear the
entrenchments, and again began the work of death.

The enemy's position, the whole of which was again manned, was for
the second time stormed by the British infantry; but, as they were
assailed now from a nearer range, the struggle was on more favourable
terms, though the overpowering numbers of the enemy rendered his losses
comparatively trifling, whilst ours was most severe, considering
the small band of warriors now opposed to the foe. The Sikh dead,
intermixed with our own, strewed the face of the soil, and the footing
of the combatants was slippery with blood. Never had so resolute an
enemy opposed the British arms in India, and never had the aspect of
British interests in the East rested on so slender a thread. But the
Sikh powers of endurance had reached their limit; and, deeming the
British indomitable, they fell back, leaving their camp and guns in
the hands of the victors. Pressing forward upon the retiring enemy,
the British line swept the Sikh soldiery from the whole position, and
rested on the Sutlej front of the works.

The resolution and courage of the British troops had probably never
undergone a more severe test than on the field of Ferozeshuhur, and
when victory at length appeared to have crowned their efforts, a
heartfelt cheer burst from the ranks. No thoughts were entertained of
pursuing the enemy, for both strength and ammunition were expended.

Congratulations on the ultimate success of the day went round amongst
the victors as they rested on their arms; and perhaps the sudden and
successful result was hailed by none with more sense of thankfulness
than by the two chiefs of the army.

But this satisfaction was destined to be of short duration; for scarce
two hours had elapsed after the retreat, when the enemy were seen
advancing again. The British troops were eagerly searching for water
in the blood-stained village of Ferozeshuhur, having piled their arms
outside, when the alarm was given of the enemy's advance. The column
which now approached was ascertained to be the reserve force under Tej
Singh, consisting principally of cavalry and horse artillery, with some
of the Aeen battalions; this force had advanced from their position
near the river, to take part in the fray, and were estimated at about
twenty-five thousand strong.

Again burst the storm of artillery over our army, and apparently with a
sure prospect of success for the enemy; for our guns were all crippled,
the ammunition was exhausted, and the troops now advancing to attack
were fresh, and doubtless well provided with all material for action.

There remained now only the prospect of allowing as many of the enemy's
missiles to fly over the soldiers' heads as would take that desirable
course, and to bring the matter as speedily as possible to the final
issue of a hand to hand struggle. This the enemy also seemed resolved
to expedite; for having altered his front of attack, he appeared
desirous of turning the left of the British, and intercepting all
retreat, while the main attack was directed on the village.

A partial change of front was made on the British side to meet this,
and the cavalry advanced against the enemy's right flank; which
threatened attack, Sir Hugh Gough states, in his despatch, he intended
to have supported with infantry. The fatal crisis had now apparently
arrived; but our soldiers had become of late too intimate with death to
think of avoiding it. At all events, the Sikhs would not have obtained
a bloodless victory, though our ammunition was expended; but at this
critical moment the battle was ended in the most unexpected and sudden
manner, by Tej Singh withdrawing his forces from the field. Although
not suffering from a hostile fire, nor in any way incommoded in his
operations or intentions, the enemy suddenly converted his threatened
attack into a precipitate retreat, and fell back towards the fords of
the Sutlej, where the main column of his army had already preceded him.

This extraordinary conclusion of the battle was soon ascertained by our
cavalry reconnoitring parties to be no feint on the part of the enemy,
but a final retreat.

The only means of accounting for Tej Singh's extraordinary departure,
after having beforehand stood his ground so manfully, is on the
supposition that his second advance with the reserve force under his
personal direction, was meant only to cover the retreat of the main
column, and that he knew not the extent to which the British forces
were crippled.

The supposition that the movement of Colonel Harriott's brigade of
cavalry towards Ferozepore alarmed the Sikh general, lest _we should
intercept his retreat_ by that manoeuvre, is almost too wild a
conjecture to be entertained.

No attempt, of course, was made to pursue the enemy: he had already
been sufficiently obliging, and such a proceeding would have been

The cannon taken from the enemy in this action amounted to
seventy-three pieces, which, added to their loss at Moodkee, made
a total of eighty-eight captured during the two actions. Some were
afterwards discovered thrown into wells in the village, when rendered

The return of killed and wounded on the British side was not published
for some time afterwards, which caused an injurious effect, when the
news of the battle reached the provinces, as it opened a path for much
exaggeration. It was confidently whispered amongst the natives of
Hindostan that the British had met with their match at last; and though
the Sikhs had recrossed the river, that they had left their opponents
in such a condition, as to be unable to reap any advantages from their
victory. The state of suspense in which the friends and families of
those engaged at Ferozeshuhur were kept, for want of authenticated
returns of the casualties may be well imagined; but the mystery which
enveloped this sanguinary engagement was, for a time, so impenetrable,
that the reserve force under Sir John Grey were actually unaware of the
killed and wounded amongst their comrades, when they crossed the field
of battle a fortnight afterwards, and recognised amongst the corpses
many of which yet lay unburied, the friends of whose fate they had been

The forces engaged on the British side in this action were, seven
troops of Horse Artillery, and four companies of foot; one regiment of
British Dragoons, seven regiments of British Infantry, seven regiments
of Native Cavalry, and fourteen regiments of Native Infantry.

The casualties were, 694 killed, and 1721 wounded; but, of these,
the British regiments suffered a heavy proportion, losing nearly 500
killed, and more than 1100 wounded. These losses, added to those at
Moodkee, gave a sum total of 3287 _hors de combat_, out of an army
amounting altogether to about 16,000 actually engaged.

Those who had fallen in action were only partly interred in the
trenches, for the wounded demanded all the attention that could be

The enemies' bodies were left to the disposal of the jackals and
vultures, who fulfilled their task very imperfectly, satiety having
made them epicures.

The country, from the field of Ferozeshuhur to the fords of Hureeka,
marked the track of the enemy's retreat by the corpses of soldiers
wounded in the battle, who had died on the road, but the actual number
of the enemy's loss could not have exceeded our own.

The whole army with which Tej Singh crossed the Sutlej has been
estimated at sixty thousand men; but more than this number must be
allowed them if the entrenchments of Ferozeshuhur held fifty thousand
defenders, as conjectured; for Sir Hugh Gough conceives that Tej Singh,
when renewing the action of the 22nd of December, brought up several
fresh battalions, supported by thirty thousand Goorcheras, and the
greater portion of these must have constituted the force which was
placed to watch Ferozepore, or to cover their retreat.

A field hospital was established for the wounded: those regiments which
had suffered most severely were moved to Ferozepore, where they were
enabled to receive medical attention under better cover than could
be provided in camp. The main column of the army under Sir Hugh Gough
proceeded towards the river, and encamped about twelve miles north-east
of Ferozepore, and three miles from the banks of the Sutlej.

The enemy, immediately after crossing, had taken up the position he
now occupied near the fords of Hureeka, anticipating, no doubt, that
an immediate passage of the river would be attempted by the British
generals. The Sikhs, in coming to this conclusion, were evidently
ignorant of the amount of injury which they had inflicted, and of the
state of our magazines on the north-western frontier.

Immediately after the action of Ferozeshuhur, when thanks had been
returned to the Supreme Being for deliverance, every available regiment
was ordered to the frontier, and an ample siege train from the Delhi
magazine, with abundant supplies of ammunition, and every requisite for
the prosecution of the campaign, were ordered forward with the most
urgent despatch.

Regiments of irregular cavalry,[28] and large levies of infantry, were
ordered to be forthwith raised with all the energy which the critical
situation of affairs demanded, for a golden opportunity now offered
itself to any malcontent chiefs in Hindostan to take advantage of the
concentration of the Bengal army on the far-distant frontier. These
orders were now enabled to reach the provinces in safety, as the
population of the protected Sikh states no longer considered it prudent
to interrupt the communication after their friends had recrossed the

The 21st and 22nd of December will ever be the most memorable (if it
be not also deemed the most critical) epoch since the establishment of
British supremacy in India.

Had the British forces been overwhelmed by the continual influx of
fresh troops from the enemy's reserve force, and the failure of
ammunition on their own, the sole barrier to the advance of the Sikh
army into the British territories was the Merut force, less than five
thousand strong, under Sir John Grey. And, that such a casualty had
been deemed more than _possible_, may be concluded from the fact of
Count Ravensberg, who accompanied the Governor-general's camp (and of
whom continual mention is made in the despatches) being requested to
quit the field, that he might not be a witness of, or a sufferer in,
the issue which was anticipated. That nobleman, following the request
which had been conveyed to him, proceeded reluctantly to Ferozepore,
and thence to Buhawalpore on the Indus, before news reached him of the
unexpected issue of the struggle.

In entering upon a consideration of the tactics adopted, let me not be
judged guilty of such unpardonable presumption as that of canvassing
the measures of officers whose conduct has been rewarded by the highest
honours their country could bestow. My humble remarks are addressed
to my brother officers of the subordinate ranks; and if these casual
observations should succeed in meriting the attention of any one who
takes sufficient interest in his profession to discuss such topics, I
profess my readiness to give up my imaginary line of operations as soon
as I am convinced that the position is untenable. These subjects, when
we had little else to think of, or talk about, formed an ample theme
for discussion; and though they have often provoked the remark that
"all the subalterns of the army had promoted themselves to generals,"
the cavil did not produce any argument against so advantageous and
extensive a brevet. Indeed, such a line of promotion might give an
opportunity to the military chiefs of later days to earn the applause
of their countrymen before the weight of years should finally consign
the military hero to the family physician or the nursery.

When the Sikh forces fell back, on the night of the 18th of
December, from the battle-field of Moodkee upon the main body in the
entrenchments of Ferozeshuhur, the reserve force, stationed to watch
Ferozepore by the Sikh general's orders, continued to occupy the same

The avowed object in the hasty attack on the enemy's strong position at
Ferozeshuhur was to prevent the Sikh forces from forming a junction,
and to relieve Ferozepore.

Had the enemy been desirous to effect the junction alluded to, it would
appear difficult to account for his not taking advantage of the respite
on the 19th and 20th of December to ensure the movement. But, perhaps,
a strong reason for his not doing so may be adduced by the fact of the
area of his entrenchments being already so crowded with defenders,
that it is almost difficult to assign places within the dimensions[29]
of the works for such hordes of Sikh soldiery as, by the published
estimates, would seem to have occupied the position.

In the next place, had the Sikhs been anxious to attack Ferozepore,
it is strange that they neglected to attempt the siege or investment
between the 13th and 18th of December. Nay, instead of doing so, they
immediately advanced and took up a strong position, leaving a reserve
force to watch the garrison, and perhaps to cover their own retreat
in case of a reverse, whilst they pushed boldly forward to occupy
a position in the direct route of our forces, which post, judging
from former military transactions in India, they expected would be
immediately stormed.

The force detached to Moodkee, having failed in their object, fell back
upon Ferozeshuhur, where no disposition was manifested for a farther
retreat; but the enemy calmly awaited, in that advantageous position,
the attack which they doubtless hoped would ensue.

By following the line of operations expected by the Sikhs, the British
forces came into action late in the afternoon, having been under arms
and marching the whole of that day, and weakened from want of food and
water; whilst the horses, already much jaded, were ill prepared for the
work they had to undergo. These evils, great on the night of the 21st,
were not alleviated after the sanguinary struggle; and on the 22nd,
being far from all resources and supplies, the failure of ammunition
might be viewed as an almost desperate misfortune.

The _veni, vidi, vici_ principle has been in some measure warranted,
in Indian campaigns, by the great precedents of Assye and Lord
Hastings's Mahratta campaigns. It had been employed with considerably
less success during the Goorkha war, where the reverses of other
divisions of the army were fortunately counteracted by General
Ochterlony's prudence and foresight. But the Sikhs were a far different
enemy[30] from the Mahrattas or any power we had hitherto encountered
in India, and worthy of the respect which they inspired after the first
two engagements.

To view the subject under its various phases, I will now proceed to
consider the probable results had the army been advanced to a position
in the vicinity of Ferozeshuhur, where free communication could have
been maintained with the garrison of Ferozepore, and where, as the
enemy had established himself in a fixed position, his intercourse with
Lahore might have been threatened at the same time that we had free
range of the country.

In such a position, the enemy might have been safely watched, whilst
preparations were made to attack his entrenchments in due form,[31] and
our troops would have been fresh, and ought not to have been without
ammunition in case of being suddenly brought into action. The Merut
reserve force, with the 9th and 16th Lancers, H.M. 10th Regiment,
and four regiments of Native Troops, accompanied by three troops of
Artillery and the elephant battery of twelve pounders, would, by
using despatch, have arrived in less than ten days[32] had an order
been forwarded from Bussean, and such a force would have been beyond
the reach of any coup-de-main of a detachment from the enemy's camp.
Then, with properly constructed batteries, (for the fort at Ferozepore
contained some heavy guns) and with regular approaches, the Sikh
position would have been advantageously assailed, and there is little
doubt that a well directed fire of artillery, poured into such crowded
works, would have been severe in its effect, and would ultimately have
compelled the enemy to evacuate them. When the Sikhs should have been
once compelled to take to the open ground, their heavy siege guns would
have been too unwieldly to manoeuvre, whilst our light artillery would
have been on advantageous ground, and, with an effective force of
cavalry, the victory ought to have been speedy, and the enemy's retreat
to the ford not altogether unmolested.

To all this, perhaps it may be objected that the Sikhs would assuredly
not have awaited a concentration of our forces, and these preparations
for attack. In reply, it must be borne in mind that the choice of
battle rested with the British, unless the enemy vacated his post, when
the advantages to be derived in the open plain would have been ours,
and rendered a much easier victory a matter beyond a question with an
army like our own, whose whole "materiel" were expressly qualified for
action in the open plain, where superior discipline and rapidity of
movement, with a fresh and well appointed army of sixteen thousand men,
ought to have ensured success upon easier terms than when storming the
same enemy in a strong position.

With an effective British force of 16,000 or 20,000 men in the open
plain, I conceive it to be a matter of unimportance whether a native
enemy be double or treble that amount; for when confusion once ensues
amongst a half-disciplined multitude, it doubtless is greater in
proportion to the number.

In the battle of Ferozeshuhur, the fate of the day was committed to the
gallantry and bull-dog qualities of the British soldiers, and the issue
proved that they had not been over-rated; but as these were resources
which would always have remained in reserve, and ready for action when
called upon, a question may be raised as to the policy of employing
this reserve before the advantages of strategy had been employed.

The result of this action would hardly answer to establish a precedent
for the repetition of similar measures under similar circumstances;
for three or four such battles would have used all the European
material, and British regiments cannot be hastily recruited or replaced
in India.


 |                             |             KILLED.    |          WOUNDED.      |
 |                             +-------+-------+--------+------+-------+---------+
 |                             |Offi-  |Native |Trumpe- |Offi- |Native |Privates,|
 |                             | cers. |& non- | ters,  | cers.|& non- |   &c.   |
 |                             |       |commis-|Drumm-  |      |commis-|         |
 |                             |       |sioned | ers,   |      |sioned |         |
 |                             |       |offic- |Privates|      |Offic- |         |
 |                             |       | cers. |        |      | cers. |         |
 |Personal staff               |  --   | --    |  --    |   2  | --    |   --    |
 |General staff                |   1   | --    |  --    |   1  | --    |   --    |
 |                             |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |Artillery.                   |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |  (Col. Brooke, com.)        |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |Staff                        |  --   |  --   |  --    |   2  | --    |   --    |
 |Horse                        |   2   |   1   |  26    |   1  |   7   |    54   |
 |Foot                         |  --   |   2   |  10    |   1  |   5   |    18   |
 |                             |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |Cavalry Division.            |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |  (Col. White.)              |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |Staff                        |  --   |  --   |  --    |   3  | --    |    --   |
 |1st Brig., H.M. 3rd Lt. Drag.|   3   |   2   |  55    |   6  |  6    |    80   |
 | "  8th Native Cavalry       |  --   |   1   |   3    |  --  |  2    |     7   |
 | "  9th Irregulars           |  --   |   2   |   8    |  --  | --    |    11   |
 |2nd ditto, Body-guard        |  --   |  --   |  --    |  --  | --    |     2   |
 | "  5th Native Cavalry       |  --   |   1   |  --    |  --  | --    |     2   |
 | "  8th Irregular Horse      |  --   |  --   |   1    |  --  | --    |     4   |
 |3rd do. 4th Native Cavalry   |  --   |  --   |   9    |  --  |  2    |     6   |
 | "  3rd Irregulars           |  --   |  --   |   3    |  --  | --    |    13   |
 |                             |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |1st Infantry Division.       |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |  (Sir Harry Smith.)         |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |Staff                        |  --   |  --   |  --    |   3  | --    |    --   |
 |  1st Brigade, H.M. 31st Rgt.|   2   |   2   |  57    |   5  |  4    |    92   |
 |   "  24th N.I.              |   1   |   3   |   4    |   1  |  2    |    24   |
 |   "  47th ditto             |       |       |   9    |      |  2    |    24   |
 |  2nd ditto H.M. 50th Regt.  |       |       |  27    |   6  |  5    |    86   |
 |   "  42nd Native Infantry   |   1   |   4   |  10    |   2  |  5    |    35   |
 |   "  48th ditto             |       |   2   |  13    |   2  |  3    |    46   |
 |                             |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |2nd Infantry Division.       |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |    (Gen. Gilbert.)          |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |  Staff                      |   2   |       |        |   1  |       |         |
 |  1st Brigade, H.M. 29th Rgt.|   2   |   1   |  67    |      |  6    |   110   |
 |   "  45th N.I.              |       |   2   |  14    |   1  |  2    |    30   |
 |  2nd do. 1st European Regt. |   2   |   2   |  43    |   6  | 12    |   139   |
 |   "      2nd Native Infantry|   1   |   2   |  15    |   2  |  5    |    43   |
 |   "     16th ditto          |   1   |   2   |  11    |   1  | 10    |    51   |
 |                             |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |3rd Infantry Division.       |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |    (Brigadier Wallace.)     |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |  Staff                      |   1   |       |        |      |       |         |
 |  1st Brigade, H.M. 9th Rgt. |   3   |   1   |  66    |   6  |  5    |   192   |
 |   "  26th Native Infantry   |   2   |   1   |   8    |      |  3    |    42   |
 |   "  73rd ditto             |   1   |   1   |  19    |      |  6    |    31   |
 |  H.M. 80th Regiment         |   4   |       |  20    |   3  |  1    |    53   |
 |                             |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |4th Infantry Division.       |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |    (Sir J. Littler.)        |       |       |        |      |       |         |
 |  Staff                      |   1   |       |        |   2  |       |         |
 |  1st Brigade, H.M. 62nd Rgt.|   7   |   6   |  76    |  10  |  5    |   156   |
 |   " 12th Native Infantry    |       |   1   |  10    |   4  |  5    |    61   |
 |   " 14th ditto              |       |   3   |  12    |   5  |  5    |    59   |
 |  2nd ditto, 33rd ditto      |       |   2   |   6    |      |  8    |    32   |
 |   " 44th ditto              |       |       |   9    |      |  2    |    14   |
 |   " 54th ditto              |       |       |   2    |      |       |     6   |
 |                             +-------+-------+---+----+------+-------+---------+
 |         Grand total         |  73   |  44   | 613    |  78  |120    |  1523   |


 Personal Staff             Capt. Hare, Deputy Secretary.

   2nd Troop, 1st Bat.      Capt. Todd.
   3rd   "    3rd  "        Lieut Lambert.

   H.M. 3rd Lt. Drag.       Capt. Codd.
         "                  Cornet Ellis.
         "                  Cornet Bruce, 16th Lancers.

 1st. Division (Infantry)--
   H.M. 31st Regt.          Lieut. Pollard.
         "                  Lieut. and Adjutant Bernard.
   24th N.I.               Brevet-Major Griffin.
   42nd N.I.               Lieut. Woollen.

 2nd Division--
   Staff                    Capt. Lucas, B.M.
          "                 Capt. Burnett, ditto.
   H.M. 29th Regt.          Capt. Molle.
          "                 Lieut. Simmons.
   1st European Regt.       Capt. Box.
          "                 Ensign Moxon.
   2nd N.I.                Ensign Armstrong.
   16th N.I.               Major Hull.

 3rd Division--
                            Lieut.-Col. Wallace, B.
   H.M. 9th Regt.           Lieut.-Col. Taylor.
          "                 Capt. Dunn.
          "                 Capt. Field.
   H.M. 80th Regt.          Capt. Best.
          "                 Capt. Scheberras.
          "                 Lieut. Warren.
          "                 Lieut. Bythesea.
   26th N.I.               Lieut. Croly.
          "                 Lieut. Eatwell.
   72nd N.I.               Capt. Hunter.

 4th Division--
   Staff                    Lieut. Harvey, A.D.C.
   H.M. 62nd Regt.          Capt. Clarke.
          "                 Capt. Wells.
          "                 Lieut. Scott.
          "                 Lieut. M'Nair.
          "                 Lieut. Gubbins.
          "                 Lieut. Kelly.
          "                 Lieut. and Adjutant Sims.


 Personal Staff             Lieut.-Col. Wood, A.D.C., severely.
          "                 Lieut. Haines, A.D.C., ditto.
          "                 Major F. Somerset, Military Secretary,
                            since dead.

   Staff                    Capt. Warner, Commissary of Ordnance, slightly.
          "                 Capt. Mackenzie, B.M., ditto.
   1st Troop, 3rd Bat.      1st Lieut. Paton, ditto.
   3rd Company              1st Lieut. Atlay, ditto.

       Staff                Lieut.-Col. Harriott, ditto.
          "                 Capt. Havelock, H.M. 9th Regt., Assistant
                            Quartermaster-Gen., ditto.
          "                 Lieut.-Col. White, 3rd Light Dragoons,
                            Brigadier, ditto.
   H.M. 3rd Lt. Drag.       Major Balders, ditto.
          "                 Lieut. Morgan, severely.
          "                 Lieut. Burton, slightly.
          "                 Cornet Orme, severely.
          "                 Lieut. White, slightly.
          "                 Lieut. Rathwell, ditto.

 1st Division (Infantry)--
   Staff                    Capt. Lugard, 31st Regt., A.A.G.
          "                 Lieut. Galloway, Assistant
          "                 Lieut. Holdich, A.D.C.
   H.M. 31st Regt.          Major Baldwin, severely.
          "                 Lieut. Plasket, ditto.
          "                 Lieut. Pilkington, ditto.
          "                 Ensign Paul, slightly.
          "                 Ensign Hutton, ditto.
   H.M. 50th Regt.          Capt. Knowles, ditto.
        "                   Lieut. Chambers, ditto.
        "                   Lieut. Moualt, ditto.
        "                   Lieut. Barnes, ditto.
        "                   Ensign White, ditto.
        "                   Lieut. and Adjutant Mullen, ditto.
   24th N.I.               Ensign Grubb, ditto.
   42nd N.I.               Lieut. and Adjutant Ford, ditto.
   48th N.I.               Ensign Wardlaw, ditto.
        "                   Lieut. Litchford, ditto.
        "                   Lieut. Taylor, ditto.

 2nd Division--
   Staff                    Lieut.-Colonel Taylor, H.M. 29th Regt.,
   H.M. 29th Regt.          Major Congreve.
          "                 Capt. Stepney.
   1st European Regt.       Capt. Clerk, severely.
          "                 Capt. Kendall, dangerously.
          "                 Lieut. Beatson, severely.
          "                 Lieut. Fanshaw, slightly.
          "                 Ensign Wriford, ditto.
   2nd N.I.                Ensign Salusbury, severely.
          "                 Capt. Bolton, ditto.
          "                 Ensign Hodson, slightly.
   16th N.I.               Ensign O'Bryen, ditto.
          "                 Lieut. Hamilton.

 3rd Division--
   H.M. 9th Regt.           Capt. Barton, severely.
          "                 Lieut. Taylor.
          "                 Lieut. Vigors.
          "                 Lieut. Sievewright, dangerously.
          "                 Lieut. Cassidy.
   H.M. 80th Regt.          Ensign Forster, contused.
          "                 Major Lockhart.
          "                 Capt. Fraser, since dead.
          "                 Lieut. Freeman.

 4th Division--
   Staff                    Capt. Egerton.
          "                 Capt. Burnett, B.M., slightly.
   H.M. 62nd Regt.          Lieut.-Col. Reed, Brigadier, ditto.
          "                 Major Short, ditto.
          "                 Capt. Graves, badly.
          "                 Capt. Sibley.
          "                 Capt. Garroch, slightly.
          "                 Lieut. Gregorson, badly.
          "                 Lieut. Craig, ditto.
          "                 Lieut. Ingall, slightly.
          "                 Ensign Roberts, severely.
          "                 Ensign Hewett, slightly.
          "                 Lieut.-Col. Bruce, very severely.
          "                 Capt. Holmes, ditto.
          "                 Lieut. Tulloch, ditto.
          "                 Ensign Ewart, slightly.
          "                 Capt. Struthers.
          "                 Capt. Walsh.
          "                 Lieut. Wood, severely.
          "                 Lieut. Lukin, slightly.
          "                 Ensign Weld, severely.

_Return of Ordnance captured at Ferozeshuhur._

 |         |          |                |               | Weight of |
 | Number. |          |    Calibre.    |    Length.    |   shot.   |
 |         |          | inch.  tenths. | feet.  inch.  |           |
 |    1    |   Gun    |  4       5     |   5    10     |   9 lbs.  |
 |    2    | Howitzer |  7       0     |  14    10     |  42       |
 |    3    |   Gun    |  5       0     |   7     0     |  18       |
 |    4    |          |  5       0     |   6     9     |  18       |
 |    5    |          |  5       0     |   6     6     |  18       |
 |    6    |          |  4       5     |   5    10     |   9       |
 |    7    |          |  4       5     |   5    10     |   9       |
 |    8    |          |  4       5     |   8     4     |   9       |
 |    9    |          |  4       0     |   6     4     |   8       |
 |   10    |          |  4       5     |   7     0     |   9       |
 |   11    |          |  4       5     |   6     0     |   9       |
 |   12    |          |  4       5     |   6     0     |   9       |
 |   13    |          |  5       0     |   6     9     |  18       |
 |   14    |          |  4       2-1/2 |   6     0     |   9       |
 |   15    |          |  4       2-1/2 |   6     0     |   9       |
 |   16    |          |  5       5     |   7     6     |  18       |
 |   17    |          |  4       0     |   5     9     |   8       |
 |   18    |          |  4       0     |   5     9     |   8       |
 |   19    |          |  4       0     |   5     6     |   8       |
 |   20    |          |  3       7-1/2 |   4     7     |   6       |
 |   21    |          |  4       5     |   5     9     |   9       |
 |   22    |          |  4       7-1/2 |   6     0     |  12       |
 |   23    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   7       |
 |   24    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   7       |
 |   25    |          |  4       0     |   6     5     |   8       |
 |   26    |          |  5       3     |  10     0     |  18       |
 |   27    |          |  5       0     |   7     6     |  15       |
 |   28    |          |  4       7     |   6     6-1/2 |  11       |
 |   29    |          |  5       7     |   2     1     |  24       |
 |   30    |          |  2       8     |   8    11     |   3       |
 |   31    |          |  2       8     |   3    11     |   3       |
 |   32    |          |  3       7     |   7    11-1/2 |   6       |
 |   33    |          |  5       7     |   3    11-1/2 |  24       |
 |   34    |          |  3       7     |   4    11-3/4 |   6       |
 |   35    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   6       |
 |   36    |          |  4       0     |   6     6     |   9       |
 |   37    |          |  2       7     |   3     0     |   3       |
 |   38    |   Gun    |  3       9     |   4    11-1/2 |   8 lbs.  |
 |   39    |          |  3       7     |   4    11     |   6       |
 |   40    |          |  4       0     |   6     0     |   9       |
 |   41    |          |  4       2     |   6     1     |   9       |
 |   42    |          |  4       0     |   6     2     |   9       |
 |   43    |          |  4       5     |   6     1     |  12       |
 |   44    |          |  4       3     |   6     1     |  10       |
 |   45    |          |  3       5     |   6     4-1/2 |   6       |
 |   46    |          |  3       8     |   4    11-1/2 |   8       |
 |   47    |          |  4       7     |   7    11     |  12       |
 |   48    |          |  4       3     |   6     1     |  10       |
 |   49    |          |  4       3     |   6     9-1/2 |  10       |
 |   50    |          |  4       7     |   4    10     |  12       |
 |   51    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   8       |
 |   52    |          |  2       7     |   3    11-1/2 |   3       |
 |   53    |          |  4       2     |   7    11-1/2 |  10       |
 |   54    |          |  4       3     |   7    11-1/2 |   9       |
 |   55    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   8       |
 |   56    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   8       |
 |   57    |          |  4       2     |   5     8     |   9       |
 |   58    |          |  2       7     |   3     0     |   2       |
 |   59    |  Mortar  |  9       5     |   2     5     |  10in.    |
 |   60    |   Gun    |  2       8     |   3    11-1/2 |   3 lbs.  |
 |   61    |          |  3       6     |   4     6     |   6       |
 |   62    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   8       |
 |   63    |          |  3       7     |   4    11-3/4 |   7       |
 |   64    |          |  2       8     |   2    11     |   3       |
 |   65    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   8       |
 |   66    |          |  3       8     |   4    11     |   8       |
 |   67    |          |  6       0     |   3     9     |  32       |
 |   68    |          |  4       3     |   7    10-1/4 |   9       |
 |   69    |  Mortar  |  5       7     |   2     0     |  24       |
 |   70    |   Gun    |  4       3     |   7    10-1/2 |   9       |
 |   71    | Howitzer |  4       3     |   3     9     |   9       |
 |   72    |   Gun    |  5       2     |   8     8-1/2 |  18       |
 |   73    |          |  6       0     |   8     9     |  30       |

 Many of these guns have long Persian inscriptions,[33] and very
 old dates, some are highly ornamented. The carriages are closely
 assimilating to those in use with the Bengal artillery, the whole
 well fitted for post guns. The metal is much heavier than those of a
 similar calibre in use with the Bengal artillery.

 Two more guns were discovered at Sooltan Khan Wallah, of which no
 return has yet been received.

 (Signed)      G. Brooke,
           Brigadier, &c. &c.


[Footnote 25: Much has been said and written concerning the carnage
and retreat of the 62nd, which has engendered, unnecessarily, some ill
feeling. Sir John Littler states explicitly, in his despatch, that the
Sikh fire was "furious and _irresistible_;" therefore if he expected
that regiment to accomplish what he allows to be impossible, we need
not set any value on the unfortunate general's opinion.]

[Footnote 26: The enemy's fire was opened from the low doorways of the
tents, inaccessible to horsemen.]

[Footnote 27: Another officer of the 3rd Dragoons, who had been
dismounted and wounded in this charge, whilst wandering among the
entrenchments, met a body of native soldiers, who demanded ransom, and
ordered him to strip off his jacket; he pointed to his broken arm; but
they were not chivalrous enough to admit this appeal, and, taking his
uniform, allowed him to escape. This was the sole act of clemency on
the Sikhs' part I have heard recorded.]

[Footnote 28: This expedient has often been resorted to in critical
times, as it gives employment to many doubtful characters, and raises a
temporary bulwark, which can easily be disposed of when danger is over.]

[Footnote 29: About eighteen hundred yards by nine hundred and fifty,
as well as a horse's stride enabled me to judge.]

[Footnote 30: I allude only to their bravery and discipline. Their
generalship brought the war to a speedy conclusion.]

[Footnote 31: The batteries at Ferozeshuhur were attacked in front. Had
they been taken in flank or reverse many heavy guns in fixed positions
could not have been brought to bear readily against the assailants.]

[Footnote 32: That is, they might have reached Moodkee by the 28th of
December. The advanced guard of the reserve were within hearing of the
cannonade of Ferozeshuhur.]

[Footnote 33: The inscriptions on these guns, like that on the
celebrated pocket-pistol at Dover, were much given to boasting.]



During the first week in January, the reserve force, under Sir John
Grey, joined the main column of the army, and took post near the river,
along which pickets were thrown out by the divisions nearest the
enemy's position, to watch their proceedings on the opposite bank.

Nearly every soldier in the north-western provinces was at,
or approaching, the head-quarter camp, which extended over no
inconsiderable portion of ground. Large supplies had been laid in for
the army at Ferozepore and from the country bordering on Bussean. The
British generals now became masters of their own time for the planning
and prosecution of further operations.

On the opposite bank of the Sutlej, the Sikh camp, with its hives of
parti-coloured canvas, speckled the country as far as the eye could
reach, and appeared to shelter a mighty host, notwithstanding their
recent losses. Nearly opposite the village of Sobraon the tents
appeared more closely packed together, about a mile distant from
the river, and thence the banks sloped gradually towards the water;
but, about three miles higher up, and immediately above the fords of
Hureeka, the banks rise precipitously, on the right shore, to a height
of about forty or fifty feet, and overlook the British side of the
river where the slope is very gradual and nearly uniform.

The country on the left bank is mostly bare, except near the river and
close above Hureeka, where some thick reeds and underwood served as a
cover for the enemy's spies and stragglers to watch or fire upon our
videttes, but this jungle was shortly afterwards burnt.

Opposite Sobraon the Sikhs appeared to be remarkably busy, and it was
shortly discovered that they were employed in constructing a bridge of
boats across the Sutlej. This, at the time, was considered a mere piece
of bravado. Few conjectured that the enemy would have the hardihood to
attempt a passage in the face of the British army, and they were left,
unmolested, to complete their purpose. In a few days the bridge was
complete save four boats, and we began to suspect that the deficiency,
which was of some days' continuance, was intentional, when one morning
the gap was filled up, and their workmen were seen busily constructing
a tête-de-pont on the British shore.

A battery of Sikh guns was posted on the right bank which would sweep
the bridge, and it was conjectured that the enemy had mined some of
the boats, so that in case of the British attempting to use them they
might at any time be blown up; but no inclination was manifested on
our part to accept this invitation.

The hum in the enemy's camp towards nightfall, and the glare of their
camp fires, caused the scene to resemble the vicinity of a large city,
whilst the occasional arrival of a chief from Lahore was greeted with
acclamations and the roar of cannon. From the ramparts of a small
fortified village on the right flank of our position, we could observe
the Sikh battalions turning out every evening for parade and exercise,
and their artillery practice was almost unremitting. The fire of cannon
and musketry, which was constantly heard even after nightfall, made
us frequently conjecture that some point of our position had been
attacked, but it proved that the enemy were only amusing themselves.

Our spies brought word that an attack on the British army was meditated
on the part of the enemy, who only awaited a report, from their
astrologers, of the stars being favourable to the success of the

On the 13th of January, a battery of guns was brought up by Sir Hugh
Gough's orders, and placed in position; and, as soon as the daylight
enabled him to ascertain the distance, a cannonade was opened on their
advanced lines, which was promptly replied to by the enemy. Little
or no damage ensued except the bursting of our largest gun (an iron
eighteen pounder), which wounded an artilleryman severely, and put an
end to the game. That evening the Sikhs struck their tents, which had
been impudently pitched so near our position, not wishing to risk the
effects of a chance shot on a repetition of that day's proceeding; but
they might have spared themselves the trouble, for the first experiment
was sufficient.

Occasional skirmishes took place at the outposts along the river,
which served to interrupt in a measure the tedium of camp routine. The
Sikhs, who now crossed in great numbers during the day to work at their
entrenchments, and usually retired towards nightfall, amused themselves
with ball practice at any moving object they could discern within
musket range.

A small look-out tower, which we had thrown up to watch their
proceedings, served the Sikhs for constant practice, and the compliment
was returned upon such of their marksmen as ventured to offer
themselves for targets.

As our officers were strictly interdicted from the pursuit of small
game in the jungles which bordered on the river, some were obliged to
content themselves with this inferior sport, but the practice, being at
a long range, was nearly innocent.

One night a party of Sikhs made a successful foray upon a picket of
irregular cavalry, and killed three or four of them. As the enemy
occupied the high ridge above Hureeka ford, which precluded any view
into the interior, it was impossible to ascertain the post or strength
of their pickets, although the videttes on the bank were always
visible. The Sikhs had therefore the advantage of commanding the fords
whenever they pleased to make use of them for predatory excursions.

Our inaction at this time, when in face of the whole Sikh army, may
appear strange to many, but the British generals had wisely resolved
that offensive operations should not be resumed, if avoidable, until
the means were at hand for striking an effective blow and pursuing the
advantage when gained. The siege train had only quitted Delhi early
in January, and the pontoon train at Ferozepore was, in the meantime,
being secretly but effectively prepared for service. Any operations
which might be undertaken before the whole machinery could be brought
into action would therefore have been of little avail.

The time dragged slowly and monotonously on with us. The outpost
duties of outlying and inlying pickets and camp guards were severe and
tiresome; but even when free from such restraints, few quitted the
lines of their regiments, as we knew not the hour we might be called on
for action.

This state was not destined to be of long duration. Reports had already
been forwarded to head-quarters that Loodiana was threatened by the
enemy, and about the middle of January the communication with that
place was interrupted.

The Sikh army, swollen daily by the influx from Lahore, began to
experience a scarcity of provisions, which induced them to send
foraging parties across, on the line of the upper Sutlej, to procure
supplies. As our line of frontier was too considerable to be properly
watched without an extension of front, which was deemed imprudent,
the fords of the Sutlej being very numerous, the enemy were enabled
hitherto to communicate freely with the opposite shore.

It now became necessary, however, to sweep the country of the obstacles
to a free communication with Loodiana. To effect this object, Sir Harry
Smith was detached, on the 17th of January, with the first brigade[34]
of his division, two corps of Native cavalry, and a light field
battery, to clear the country of the enemy.

The day after the major-general had quitted camp, intelligence arrived
which proved that the enemy were in much greater force than had been at
first supposed, and had committed some ravages at Loodiana, which place
was now threatened by a considerable body from the right bank.

On the 19th, Brigadier Cureton was despatched, with the 16th Lancers
and two troops of Horse Artillery, to reinforce Sir Harry Smith.

Brigadier Cureton, after two forced marches, overtook the major-general
at the town and fort of Jugraon, where H.M.'s 53rd Regiment, on its
route from the lower provinces, also joined Sir Harry's column.

Accounts were received at Jugraon, of the enemy being in great force
on the British side of the river; and it was stated that a portion of
the cantonments of Loodiana had been destroyed by the Sikhs, who had
afterwards encamped on the plain below the town, and between it and the

Brigadier Godby now held the cantonments with one corps of native
cavalry and three of native infantry, (including a Goorkha[35]
battalion, recently arrived from their mountain quarters,) and a light
field battery. The fort, which stands in the town of Loodiana, on
the side looking towards the river, but beyond cannon-range from the
Sutlej, was garrisoned by a few convalescents, and the depôt of the

The enemy were reported to have thrown an advanced party into the
fort of Buddewal, which lay on the road between Jugraon and Loodiana,
and belonged to the Ladwa Rajah, a Sikh chief, who had instigated
this expedition, and had conveyed his family and valuables from the
protected Sikh states into the Punjaub.

A small party belonging to the Puttealah Rajah had for some time before
the arrival of Colonel Godby's force occupied the town of Loodiana, but
had not stirred a hand in defence of the cantonment.

Sir Harry Smith had met with none of the enemies' parties on his march
to Jugraon, except in the fort of Durrumkhote, where a few shrapnel
induced the garrison to abandon the place, and a small party of sepoys
were placed to occupy it.

At two o'clock on the morning of the 21st of January, the British
forces moved from Jugraon towards Loodiana, instructions having been
forwarded to Brigadier Godby to march out of cantonment, and effect
a junction with the advancing column, on its line of march, about
daybreak. The heavy baggage and wheel-carriages were ordered to be
left in the citadel of Jugraon, which was occupied by two companies of
sepoys. The cavalry and horse artillery took the head of the column;
and after a slow and weary march in the dark,[36] Sir Harry's forces
arrived about sunrise within two miles of Buddewal, all baggage
being kept in rear of the column, to prevent any obstruction in the
operations which might be requisite.

During the halt, a native spy arrived with information of the enemy
having advanced, and occupied the fort of Buddewal in strength; but the
general discredited the report, and the advance was sounded without any
alteration of route being determined on. Brigadier Godby's forces did
not make their appearance, although the time for meeting as appointed
had passed; it was therefore evident that they must have taken another
route, and have probably missed us in the dark.

On issuing from the close country upon the plain, a cloud of dust
was discerned rising over some trees on our left flank, and soon
afterwards, some Goorchera horsemen, galloping through the grove,
announced the enemy to be on the alert. In a few minutes, the grove
was swarming with the Sikh irregular cavalry, who continued to move
parallel with our brigade, which advanced steadily into the plain,
having wheeled into open column of troops. Several of the Sikh chiefs
rode boldly up within a hundred yards of us, and watched the cavalry
brigade passing in review, and approaching the fort of Buddewal.
On our front, and to the right, nearly as far as the eye could
reach, stretched a sandy plain, with scarcely a bush on its surface,
beyond which lay Loodiana, about six miles distant. Our left was
flanked by groves of trees, and on the left front was the town and
fort of Buddewal, frowning over the low range of mud houses in its
neighbourhood, the whole of which swarmed with the enemy's infantry.

The fort was a brick building of some solidity, in which were placed
the heaviest guns; but entrenchments and abattis were thrown up round
the town, which were defended by lighter guns and musketeers.

The cavalry and horse artillery continued to advance into the plain,
and deployed under cover of some sand hills, whilst Sir Harry Smith
rode along the position, to reconnoitre the enemy. Several Sikh
chiefs continued busily employed in the same manner; but as yet, no
hostilities had taken place, though each sought eagerly an opening to
give the first advantageous blow. At length, the head of our infantry
column came in sight, and the Sikhs, who had been intently watching
their movements, now ranged themselves in continuous line amongst
the trees up to the walls of the town. A quick flash from the Sikh
position, succeeded by a cannon-ball, which plunged heavily into
the sand, announced the enemy's hostile intentions; but the cavalry
brigade were cleverly posted among the sand hills, which defiladed them
from fire in a great measure, although they were too low to be quite
effectual for that useful purpose.

The infantry, as they advanced into the plain, toiling through the deep
sand, fared much worse; for the Sikh light guns, being pushed forward,
soon got the range, and the shot tore through the ranks with deadly

The enemy's shells were comparatively harmless, being made of pewter or
lead, and simply loaded with powder; but the round and chain-shot came
hurtling through the air, or playfully ricochetting from the sand ere
they plunged through or over our line, seldom missing their object by
an interval which the next discharge was not likely to correct.

One direct shot from a battery, which must, I think, have been a
chain-shot, I saw strike a subdivision of infantry on the flank, and
turn over every man. At length, the toilsome and blood-stained advance
was accomplished, and the infantry, nearly exhausted, formed a second
line to the cavalry, and halted to recover breath.

The Sikhs, emboldened at the paucity of our numbers, advanced from
under cover into the open plain, whilst a body of cavalry, issuing
from the grove of trees before-mentioned, pounced upon our baggage,
which had not yet reached the open ground. Two Ressalahs of irregular
horse, and details of a few men from each regiment, were marching
with the baggage. The enemy, taking two light field-pieces with them,
fired upon the confused heap of cattle, and soon caused such a scene
of commotion, that they were enabled to plunder as much as they
could carry away; and a great portion of the sick men, carried in
doolies,[37] fell into the enemy's hands. Some were taken prisoners,
but the greater part were massacred.

The rear portion of the baggage, by taking to flight, escaped to
Jugraon; and a few stray camels, with drivers possessed of some
presence of mind, by making a circuit, arrived safely at Loodiana.
A small guard of H.M.'s 53rd Regiment, under the command of the
quarter-master, kept together, and saved a portion of the regimental
stores of that corps, with which they retired on Jugraon.

In the meantime, the enemy, having drawn up his forces on the open
plain, seemed disposed to follow up his advantage, and the Sikh chiefs,
galloping along the front of their line, were seen directing the
advance, and animating the soldiers. Our artillery being advantageously
posted behind some low sand-hills, now opened a well-directed fire of
shrapnel upon the enemy's left, which soon appeared to check their
ardour, and seriously disturb the meditated operations.

Brigadier Cureton pushed forward with the 16th Lancers, in echelon of
squadrons, to follow up the confusion which had ensued from the fire of
our artillery, and threatened a charge on the left flank of the Sikhs,
when the movement was countermanded by Sir Harry Smith's orders.

The British General having found himself much outflanked by the enemy's
line, (and the infantry being greatly exhausted by the toil they had
undergone,) resolved not to hazard an action under such disadvantages,
and before a junction with Brigadier Godby, who had not yet been
discovered. Orders were therefore sent to the cavalry to retire, but to
keep the enemy in check.

The cavalry-brigade having deployed, retired by alternate squadrons,
covering the line of infantry, which had, in the meantime, made a
partial change of front, to repel a demonstration which the Sikhs had
made against the British left. The enemy, advancing boldly, when he
discovered that Sir Harry was unwilling to come to close quarters,
opened a galling fire of artillery along his whole line; but the front
shown by the British cavalry-brigade deterred him from coming up to

Under the able direction of the gallant Cureton, the cavalry were
manoeuvred as steadily as at an ordinary field-day. Presenting
a moveable target, which called forth all the skill of the Sikh
artillerymen, the 16th Lancers, 3rd Cavalry, and Captain Hill's
Irregulars, continued to menace the enemy, and to despise the deadly
missiles which showered around them; whilst, among that overwhelming
host of Sikh Goorcheras, not one effort was made to measure lance or
sabre with their opponents. They were content to leave us to be dealt
with by the artillery.

The prudence of such a measure on the enemy's part was perhaps

Thus, gradually retiring across the plain, and placing on the
ammunition carts, or on horseback, the unfortunate men who were
wounded by the incessant cannonade to which the Sikhs subjected the
force, we reached a distance of about two miles from Buddewal, when the
enemy ceased to advance.

When our retreat was first commenced, nearly all the officers
conjectured it was Sir Harry's object to draw the Sikh forces well
out of their position, and attack them in the open plain; but as we
continued to retire, it soon became evident that no action was to take
place, and we were compelled to receive the numerous kicks which were
bestowed upon us with all the philosophy that could be mustered. "Now
we are going at 'em--now for it, lads!" burst from the ranks on many
occasions, when the squadrons faced about and confronted the foe; but
the fatal "threes about," gradually diminished these hopes, and at last
the homely observation of "By G--, if we are not bolting from a parcel
of niggers!" called something between a blush and a smile to many a

About sunset, the troops arrived before the half-burned cantonments
of Loodiana, and bivouacked on the plain. Hardly a tent or a native
follower made their appearance in our gloomy lines, and many a bitter
lamentation was vented over departed comforts and luxuries seized by
the ruthless Sikhs. Nearly all the hospital stores had fallen into the
hands of the Philistines, which was a heavy misfortune; but we dwelt
with some satisfaction on the probability of their being mistaken for
wines and liqueurs, in which event we anticipated, with much glee,
the effects likely to ensue, and only regretted we had no chance of
witnessing the commotions which would prevail in the Sikh camp on the
auspicious occasion.

Late in the evening, a few camp-followers, and a very few
baggage-animals, came straggling into the lines, having made a detour,
and avoided the plunderers. With the usual native propensity for
exaggeration, they expatiated on their own hairbreadth escapes, and
gave mournful details of the tragic sufferings and deaths of most
of those who were missing. One man was describing in glowing terms
the resolute defence of a fellow-servant, who fell, covered with
innumerable wounds, when the innocent hero of the tale actually walked
up, and had the honesty to confess that he owed his safety to his
fleetness of foot.

Very few of our camp-followers were maltreated by the enemy, beyond
taking away any property found on their persons, and keeping some of
them prisoners a few days, whilst they extracted any intelligence they
were able to afford. Most of the prisoners were then turned loose, and
furnished with the information that the Sikhs entertained no animosity
towards the natives of Hindostan, but had resolved to conquer and rule
the country, and would not fail to massacre every Feringhee who was
foolhardy enough to give them an opportunity. At the same time, with
the candour becoming true chivalry, they strongly recommended the
British to abandon all useless resistance, to submit to the modest
Khalsas, or take to flight--in fact, to do anything rather than fight,
as that might be inconvenient.

The actual loss at Buddewal has never been published, as a great
portion of those reported missing had escaped to Jugraon, and six or
seven were carried prisoners to Lahore.[38] The total amount of killed,
wounded, and missing, were between three and four hundred, but more
than half this number subsequently made their appearance. The report
which prevailed in India, that the losses were amalgamated in one
return with those killed at Aliwal, is a stupid fabrication.

Early in the day, Captain A.W. Campbell, of H.M. 14th Regiment, was
killed by a cannon-shot, whilst acting as aide-de-camp to Sir Harry
Smith. He had only succeeded in reaching the army the preceding night,
after a hasty journey from Calcutta, and was struck down on his first
field of action: but whoever accompanies Sir Harry Smith in battle,
must be prepared to encounter the thickest of the fire.

In our destitute condition, we were most hospitably treated by Col.
Godby's Brigade, who had marched out in the morning to meet us,
according to the instructions received, but we had missed each other,
owing to the brigadier supposing that we should not march directly
under the guns of the enemy's position.

On the day succeeding our arrival, some of the scared merchants of
Loodiana disclosed their hidden stores in cellars and outhouses, and we
were enabled to replace many deficiencies.

The fort of Loodiana was garrisoned by a few convalescents from the
50th Regiment, and a small detail of native troops; but being on the
outskirts of the town, the Sikhs had not ventured within sweep of its
guns to pillage, and had satisfied themselves with burning the furthest
and most exposed part of the cantonments.

The Puttealah Rajah's troops, who were stationed as a protection for
the buildings, viewed the proceedings with indifference, nor was it
to be expected they would be very energetic in our cause, against
their own countrymen. The small party of Sepoys then at Loodiana were
quite insufficient for hostile measures, but the damages have been
much exaggerated. The brunt of the losses fell on the officers and men
of H.M. 50th, and if ever a regiment deserved to be indemnified, the
gallant half hundred have earned the claim.

Our spies, returning from the enemy's post at Buddewal, reported that
the Sikhs had come to the determination of attacking us immediately,
most probably that night, as the stars were propitious. Being now
reduced to the lightest possible marching order, it was impossible
to find us better prepared for an active campaign; and we looked
forward with much satisfaction to the visit, which was promised on the
fine open plain on which we were bivouacked. To ascertain the time
of arrival, our pickets were posted far in advance, and patrols and
reconnoitring parties were constantly on the move.

At sunrise, on the 23rd of January, news arrived of the enemy being
in motion, and the forces immediately turned out with much alacrity.
The cavalry and Horse Artillery moved under a ridge nearly parallel
with the Sutlej, and marking the limits of its extreme course, whilst
the infantry shortly afterwards took the upper route on the same line.
About 9 A.M. we were informed that the whole Sikh forces had quitted
Buddewal, and were marching towards the heights of Valore, which flank
the direct road between Loodiana and Ferozepore, and extend to the
waters of the Sutlej.

Brigadier Cureton, who was in advance with a small party of cavalry,
sent an urgent request for the cavalry brigade to push forward, as he
had come up with the enemy's rear guard, and could cut them off with
a large quantity of baggage and ammunition under their care; but Sir
Harry Smith was unwilling to make the experiment. After halting for
about two hours, information was sent from the reconnoitring party
that the Sikhs had taken up a position near Valore. On receipt of this
intelligence Sir Harry Smith ordered his forces to advance and occupy
the enemy's vacated position at Buddewal. On arriving at that place
in the afternoon, we found the fort and town completely deserted, the
Sikhs having marched out during the night and left quantities of grain
and stores behind them, for which they had no carriage, as we had
encumbered them with a superfluity of valuables, which were, no doubt,
ere then safely lodged in the Punjaub.

Buddewal was speedily and thoroughly ransacked, but very little was
found worth carrying off. Tents, empty trunks, and crazy furniture
abounded in and around the palace (as it was called) of our friend the
Ladwa Rajah, the author of the Sikh expedition into this neighbourhood,
and a quantity of grain and cattle were found in the town.

Our camp followers soon made the place a wreck; nor did their vengeance
stay here, but, wandering in parties about the country, they set fire
to several villages in the vicinity, and nightfall exhibited a long
series of conflagrations marking their track. This was condemned in the
severest terms by Sir Harry Smith, and all officers of the army were
called upon to exert themselves in suppressing a system which tended
to engender a spirit of animosity towards us among the inhabitants of
this country, who were not guilty of the origin of these hostilities.

Our camp followers, in palliation of their conduct, declared that
the inhabitants of all these villages had taken an active part in
plundering them and our camels on the 21st, which was not at all

The bodies of several soldiers who had fallen in the recent skirmish
were found on the plain near Buddewal, and interred. Amongst the slain,
Captain Campbell's body was found, and buried by two officers, who went
for the purpose of discovering the body of their fallen comrade.

Many of our servants, who had escaped to Jugraon with part of the
baggage, now rejoined us, and also a great portion of the sick under
protection of the Shekawattee brigade, which added one thousand native
troops to our force.

Some of our servants, having escaped from the Sikhs, came to the
outposts with their mouths full of the extensive armament which the
Sikhs were preparing for our destruction; but all united in asserting
that reinforcements were pouring into their camp from the opposite side
of the river. Our best spies were furnished by Captain Hill's corps
of Irregular Horse, many of whom, disguised as faqueers, entered the
Sikh camp and brought accounts of the enemy being about forty thousand
strong, with seventy or eighty guns, and of their being employed in
throwing up entrenchments similar to those of Ferozeshuhur. This
burrowing system was universally practised by the enemy, even when they
were meditating offensive measures, and therefore it formed no clue to
their present intentions.

Our cavalry reconnoitring parties were daily in the enemy's vicinity,
and officers were employed to form plans of their position; but our
adversaries had great objections to this inquisitive practice, and
threw forward their outposts to check the intruders. But, amongst
the whole army, for constant activity and careful observation of the
enemy's proceedings, none, even in the prime of life, displayed more
alacrity than the two generals, Sir Harry Smith and Brigadier Cureton.

Daily, at the first peep of dawn, our indefatigable commanders were
hovering around the enemy's post, whilst the whole of the troops stood
ready accoutred for immediate action in case of the enemy being equally
vigilant; but our opponents testified less appetite for the keen
morning air.

The Sikhs talked boldly in their own lines of their daily intention
of coming out to attack us, and the spies failed not to report the
resolution; but as it had now been deferred so many days, there
appeared some probability of their being anticipated.

The main object of the Sikh's change of position seemed to be to secure
a post on the river where they could receive reinforcements which had
been sent from their head-quarter camp, and at the same time occupy our
_direct_[39] road of communication with the main column. The siege
train, which was approaching from Delhi with a very small escort of
native troops, was also, beyond doubt, the ultimate object of their
manoeuvres, although it had not yet approached within reach of a safe

By advancing from Loodiana to Buddewal, Sir Harry Smith was better
enabled to watch the enemy until the time for action; and the post
being (as we recently experienced) on the line of communication with
our head-quarters, by Jugraon and Dhurrumkote, the main object of the
Sikhs was, in a great measure, neutralized, and we had much reason to
be thankful to them for having given us so eligible a lodgment without
a struggle. In the meantime, reinforcements were in full march, to
join Sir Harry Smith, from head-quarters by the Jugraon route; and two
eight inch howitzers were being equipped for field service, having been
hastily mounted and brought to Buddewal from the fort of Loodiana.


[Footnote 34: H.M.'s 31st Regiment, 24th N.I., 47th N.I.]

[Footnote 35: The troops commonly called "Goorkhas," are three
battalions, termed the Sirmoor, Nusseeree, and Goorkha, which
are recruited in the Himalayahs. They are a small, hardy race of
mountaineers, and the best soldiers in the native army.]

[Footnote 36: During this night march, large fires were constantly lit
by the camp-followers, which must have indicated our line of march to
the enemy. These blazed with such vehemence on every elevated spot we
reached, that it looked more like design than accident.]

[Footnote 37: "Doolies" are litters for carrying the sick or wounded
men off the field, or on the line of march.]

[Footnote 38: These prisoners were released and restored after the
British forces crossed the Sutlej and reached Kussoor.]

[Footnote 39: The route we had taken by Dhurrumkote and Jugraon is not
the direct line between Ferozepore and Loodiana.]



On the 27th of January, all the reinforcements which had been on the
march to join our column had arrived, and Colonel Godby's force, part
of which were in Loodiana, moved out in the evening to Buddewal. The
whole force, which amounted to about ten thousand men, were brigaded
for the approaching struggle, and verbal orders were issued to the
several commanders.

The cavalry,[40] which were formed into two brigades, were placed under
the direction of Brigadier Cureton, of H.M. 16th Lancers; and to the
cavalry division were attached the four troops of horse artillery.

The infantry consisted of four brigades, under Brigadiers Hicks,
Wheler, Wilson, and Godby.

A nine-pounder, light field-battery, and the eight-inch howitzers
completed the sum of the force under Sir Harry Smith's command.

Shortly before daybreak on the 28th of January, the "Arouse bugle" from
the general's quarters, taken up by each regiment successively along
the line, summoned all to prepare for the fray.

The camp was speedily levelled, and all camp-followers and
"impedimenta" (as the Romans aptly termed their baggage) were left
in charge of a detail of Native Cavalry and Infantry at the fort of

Slowly and silently the dark masses of cavalry, infantry, and
artillery, fell into their respective places on the sandy alarm post
in front of the general's quarters, and soon after daybreak the army
advanced in compact order, over the open plain, under the guidance of
the acting engineers.

Advanced guards, and flanking parties of cavalry, were thrown out from
the main column, and every eye watched eagerly for the first glitter
of the Sikh weapons.

The suspense was not destined to be of long duration; for soon after
sunrise, having marched about eight miles, we reached the verge of a
sandy ridge, beneath which lay a hard, level plain, nearly two miles in
breadth, and about one in length, flanked on our right by the Sutlej,
and on the left by trees, through which an open country could be
discerned to a considerable distance.

To our right front lay the fortified village of Aliwal, and to our left
front that of Boondree, amidst a thin grove of trees. Along the ridge
connecting these villages were thrown up light field entrenchments,
(then invisible to us,) from whence a gradual slope towards the ridge
where we stood gave the position a resemblance to the glacis of a low
fort, and rendered it peculiarly suited for defensive purposes.

Descending into this plain, in column of threes, the cavalry deployed,
and advanced a few yards, whilst the infantry and artillery formed a
second line, masked effectually by the advance.

The enemy were soon perceived rapidly occupying the position between
the villages of Aliwal and Boondree, pouring from their entrenched
camp, which lay about a mile in rear of the second ridge, on the bank
of the river, but concealed from our view.

Sir Harry Smith, whose watchful eye, from the top of a village-hut on
the first ridge, had detected the enemy in motion from their camp, now
rode forwards to make his dispositions for the battle, which the most
sanguine had not ventured to anticipate as likely to take place on open
ground, whilst a fortified camp lay scarcely a mile in rear.

The British line was speedily formed. The 2nd Brigade of Cavalry, under
the personal direction of Brigadier Cureton, stretched nearly to the
banks of the Sutlej; the infantry and artillery held the centre; and
the 1st Brigade of Cavalry, under Brigadier M'Dowell, formed the left
wing of the army.

It was reported to the general, that morning, by a spy, that the Sikhs
were about to move forward on Jugraon as a new position, and there is
some reason to suppose that we found them actually commencing their
march. Be that as it may, they manifested an equal alacrity with
ourselves for action; the cannon soon opened their iron mouths upon us,
but with little effect, the distance being as yet too great.

Sir Harry Smith, with his characteristic readiness, had formed his
plan of attack. Perceiving that the village of Aliwal, the strongest
point of the enemy's position, was apparently weakly garrisoned, the
first and fourth brigades were ordered to advance and carry it by a
coup-de-main, which was soon effected, after a faint resistance. The
remainder of the British line continued steadily to advance, and when
under fire of the Sikh batteries, our own artillery opened along the
whole line.

The enemy, although Aliwal was carried, and that important battery
silenced, bravely maintained their position, and poured a steady
rolling fire upon our advancing line. The noble 50th Regiment being in
the centre, and opposed to the heaviest battery, fell fast under the
fire; but their path has ever led to victory, and no storm of round
shot and grape, supported by countless musketry, has yet availed to
repulse those gallant warriors.

A small band of Sikh horsemen, many of them richly attired, suddenly
rode forth from behind the batteries, and charged wildly down upon our
advancing line;[41] but they never lived to reach it; a sheet of fire
streamed from the centre, and a cloud of smoke slowly drifted over the
writhing forms of the devoted Goorcheras.

Brigadier Cureton, whose experienced eye observed the enemy's left
gradually giving way, now advanced his second brigade of cavalry,
sweeping the banks of the river towards the enemy's camp, in hopes
of cutting off that change of front, should the enemy attempt the
manoeuvre, and also of intercepting all communication with that
quarter, and the fords of the Sutlej in the vicinity.

The left of the Sikh line having been much doubled up by the foregoing
operations, and Runjoor Singh finding it now impracticable to hold his
present ground with a reasonable chance of success, endeavoured, by a
retrograde movement, taking Boondree as the pivot of his manoeuvre, to
change front left back, and thus take the British line in flank, whilst
his own troops might regain their order.

A large body of Goorchera horsemen thrown forward amongst the groves of
trees in the neighbourhood of the village of Boondree, announced some
new intention on the enemy's part.

The extreme British left then consisted of the 1st Brigade of Cavalry,
under Brigadier M'Dowell, (H.M. 16th Lancers and the 3rd Native
Cavalry,) who had continued to advance until they had become a target
on which the Sikh artillerymen had hitherto practised with impunity.
The bold approach of the Sikh Goorcheras on the British left, soon
altered the aspect of affairs in this part of the field. A squadron
of the 3rd Native Cavalry, supported by one from H.M. 16th Lancers,
were detached to check the operations of these Sikh Goorcheras. The
Native Cavalry advanced through the trees towards the Goorcheras, but,
finding them in considerable force, retreated, when the left squadron
of the 16th Lancers advancing and wheeling to the left, charged
through the grove of trees, breaking and putting to flight a band of
Goorchera horse, who, whilst retiring at full speed, wheeled round in
their saddles, and fired their matchlocks at their pursuers, but with
trifling effect.

Returning from their charge, this squadron suddenly found that a
regiment of Aeen infantry had advanced from Boondree to secure Runjoor
Singh's new change of front, and were in possession of the ground over
which the squadron had recently passed. The Sikh infantry hastily
formed square, and a sharp rattle of musketry emptied several saddles,
but "Charge!" from the squadron leader soon put the cavalry at full
speed, and, although interrupted by a small grove of trees in their
course, they tore like a whirlwind through the enemy's ranks, hurling
numbers to the earth, and putting the whole in a state of hopeless

On the other side of the square, the fourth squadron joined the
third, which was returning from a similar charge made on a square of
Aeen infantry,[42] and with similar success, though the cavalry had
suffered severely, owing to the isolated charges they had been fated to

At this juncture two guns of the Horse Artillery, under Lieut. Bruce,
dashing to the front, sent a flight of shrapnel whizzing amongst the
enemy's disordered masses, which diversion was seconded by the 3rd
brigade of infantry, who hastened, by a flank movement, to the scene
of action, and followed the enemy through the village of Boondree, in
which they would otherwise have made a stand.

Just before these operations had taken place, on the extreme left of
the British line, the right wing of the 16th Lancers, having stood
exposed to the fire of a galling battery in their direct front, were
advanced to the attack under the directions of their gallant leader
Major J.R. Smyth,[43] commanding the regiment. The two squadrons,
moving forward in compact and beautiful order, charged home, and
captured every gun under a storm of fire, for the Sikh artillerymen
and musketeers stood their ground and fought with desperate bravery
and resolution. Venting their unconquerable hatred in savage yells of
abuse, the swarthy warriors cast away their discharged muskets, and
rushed sword in hand, to meet their abhorred opponents, preferring
death to retreat; but no efforts of despair could now restore the day
to the Khalsas, for their line had been doubled back and penetrated in
several places, and the greater part of their artillery captured or

The Khalsa army, hurled from the ridge on which they had taken up their
position, now directed their retreat on the nearest fords of the Sutlej
below the entrenched camp.

Sir Harry Smith, ordering the artillery forward, and still keeping
his forces in compact order, descended from the ridge towards the
retreating enemy, saluted by the deafening cheers of each regiment
as the gallant and victorious general rode past them. One such day
is worth years of repose and inactivity to the soldier, and Aliwal
has inscribed the name of Sir Harry Smith on the deathless scroll of
British conquerors.

The Sikh general had conducted his retreat with such precipitation,
that when the British forces approached the bank of the river the
greater part of the Sikh army had crossed, though many, losing the
fords or trampled by the cavalry, had been swept down the Sutlej and

A few shots were fired, on our advance, from some pieces of cannon on
our side of the river, but they were the last those guns were destined
to fire against the British army, as the enemy were compelled to
abandon them, and provide for their own safety on the further shore.

Our artillery, having formed on the bank, opened a fire of shrapnel
on the retreating masses upon the further shore, who soon dispersed,
some taking refuge in villages near the river, and others directing
their retreat towards the fortress of Philore, which is nearly opposite

As the sun sunk beneath the horizon, the whole British force, drawn up
in line on the bank of the Sutlej, rested on their arms for the first
time since the morning's dawn had lighted their path to victory.

The enemy's deserted camp on the river, protected by a semicircular
entrenchment, had long been in the hands of our Native Cavalry,
and when our brigade arrived at their bivouac, at nightfall, it was
found most effectually stripped,[44] and I did not hear of any of the
Buddewal sufferers recovering as much as a stable jacket from the
wreck. A few books and other trifles of which the Sikhs could make
no use, found their way back to the original proprietors; but the
newspaper-report, that we had enriched ourselves with Sikh precious
stones and metals is, unfortunately, quite devoid of foundation.
Those who had carried away any Sikh metals usually found them more
troublesome than useful.

Camels, laden with tents, strayed in different directions over the
plain; but most of them were furnished with owners in the course of
the night, although our camp followers remained huddled together in
their den of safety at Buddewal. Enormous quantities of ammunition had
been collected in the Sikh camp, to carry on the long operations they
meditated against the British forces, and the cartridges, which were
packed in large wooden cases, continued to explode during the night.
Large portions were collected by our parties sent out for the purpose,
and, when fired, shook the earth as with an earthquake, and lit up
the surrounding country, causing our horses to break loose from their
pickets, when, conceiving that they had not been sufficiently worked
during the day, they galloped wildly through our bivouac.

The day of slaughter was certainly followed by a night of confusion;
but the Sikh army had been beaten, and few in our camp gave much
thought to anything beyond the exploits of the day. Covered with such
fragments of tents, or Sikh horse clothing as we could lay our hands
upon, or rolled in our cloaks, (the few happy men to whom Buddewal had
left such a garment,) we clustered together and discussed the day's
proceedings. Most of those who had escaped unwounded were splashed
with the blood of their comrades or enemies, and the field where we
lay was amply spotted with ghastly looking corpses, which would have
afforded valuable subjects for newspaper tales of horror; yet few, if
any, of our numerous party complained of their night's slumbers being
interrupted or haunted by such apparitions.

The human organ of destructiveness requires exercise for its
development, and with those advantages it becomes, with many, one of
the most engrossing of earthly passions. I have seen instances in
many veterans of men whose eye never brightened with such radiance
at any prospect as that of returning to their old gory pastime;
ay, and amongst that number were examples of warm-heartedness and
benevolence, which it would puzzle the metaphysician to reconcile with
their destructive propensities. Ambition is perhaps the best cause or
palliative for these inconsistencies; and I trust, from the examples
above alluded to, it may be deduced that war does not necessarily
harden the heart, though it nourishes the ambition of its votary. I
will never admit that worldly distinction is sought invariably on
selfish motives; for the gratification of one who is prized more than
life is a sufficient inducement, and I do not envy the soldier without
some such guiding star.

At daylight, on the morning of the 29th, orders were issued to change
ground from our bivouac, to the neighbourhood of Aliwal, a short
distance higher up on the same bank of the river, whilst parties
were detached to inter the bodies of the soldiers who had fallen the
preceding day.

A field-hospital had been established at a village on the ridge whence
we first descended into the plain of Aliwal, before the action. Parties
from each regiment, when the battle was over, took the wounded to this

At daylight, on the morning of the 29th, so industrious had been the
plunderers accompanying the army, that scarcely a soldier's corpse
remained unstripped, with the exception of those whose numerous and
deep gashes had rendered any article they wore unserviceable.

The plunderers had the prudence to accomplish their desecrations under
the cover of night; had they been detected in the daylight, a short
shrift and an ounce of lead would have been their well-merited reward;
and, for my own part, I would rather have bestowed the contents of my
pistols on one of them, than on the most fanatic Alkali in the whole
Sikh army.

It was not easy to determine whence the miscreants had come, for the
Sikh villages were all deserted, and the camp-followers, who must have
heard the firing until nightfall, were not the most likely people to
venture forth ten miles on such an errand. Some of the natives in the
field-hospital, doubtless, assisted in the undertaking, but the task
was too laborious to be completed by them alone.

The amount of losses on our part were, in killed, wounded, and missing,
five hundred and eighty-nine men, and three hundred and fifty-three
horses. The enemy's loss, by their own statement, exceeded three
thousand. Many went to their homes, after the defeat, disheartened,
and laid aside the profession of arms against the British as an
unprofitable business.

The ordnance captured amounted to sixty-seven guns, mortars, and
howitzers, and forty swivel guns,[45] which were destroyed as an

During the 29th and 30th of January, cartloads of captured ammunition
were taken to the enemy's forts in the neighbourhood, all of which were
deserted, and continual explosions told far into the Punjaub the tale
of their destruction. These forts belonged to the troublesome Ladwa
Rajah, who had instigated the recent expedition across the Sutlej,
mainly in order to carry off the most valuable portion of his moveable
property in the protected Sikh states, which feat having been performed
more easily than he expected, he was emboldened to act on the offensive.

The announcement of Buddewal having become a blackened heap of ruins,
was generally received with a savage degree of satisfaction, and the
very name of the place became a convenient resource and by-word for all
stray articles. Our native servants made it answer their purpose as a
receptacle for every valuable article afterwards missing, until the end
of the campaign, or an inventory checked the useful excuse.

A deserter from the Bengal Horse Artillery (John Porter, by name)
fell into our hands during the enemy's retreat, and was recognised
by some of his former associates. He had been some time in the Sikh
service, and had been instrumental in directing the fire of the light
guns upon his countrymen, for which employment he would have been
speedily consigned to the tender mercies of the kites and vultures,
had not the soldiers who captured him been restrained from carrying
their resentment to such lengths, and the political agent, hoping to
make some use of the renegade, saved his life. Mr. John Porter had
apparently imbibed a strong predilection for his adopted country,
and maintained that it would be impossible to subdue the Sikhs with
the present forces which the British Government had assembled on the
north-western frontier; but his opinion on this and other matters was
hardly of sufficient value to have saved his life.

This man was more fortunate than another Englishman in the Sikh ranks
at Ferozeshuhur, who, during the storm of the works by the British
infantry, fell amongst the assailants, crying aloud--"Spare me, lads!
I am an Englishman, and belonged to the old 44th!" His appeal was
answered by several bayonets and execrations.

On the afternoon of the 29th of January, the field-hospital, with
the wounded men, was removed into Loodiana. I rode over to see a
brother-officer who had been seriously wounded, and shall never forget
the sad scene of human suffering presented to view. Outside the
hospital tents were lain the bodies of those who had recently died;
many in the contorted positions in which the rigid hand of death had
fixed them; others, more resembling sleep than death, had calmly
passed away, struck down in full vigour and robust bodily health,
when the human frame, it was natural to suppose, would have struggled
more fiercely with its arch enemy; but the groans of the sufferers
undergoing painful surgical operations were more grievous to the
senses than the sight of those who needed no mortal aid. Pain, in all
its degrees and hideous varieties was forcibly portrayed on every
square yard of earth which surrounded me; and, passing from sufferer
to sufferer, I felt, or fancied I felt, each patient's eye following
wistfully the movements of such fortunate visitants as were exempted
from the services of the knife or lancet, and sometimes dwelling
reproachfully on the useless spectator of their sufferings. I felt it
was almost a sacrilege to remain in such a place without being useful;
but the medical officers and hospital-assistants so zealously fulfilled
every minute detail for the relief of their patients, that sympathy was
the only offering we could present to our stricken comrades.

Whilst raising the canvas door of a dark tent which I was entering,
I stumbled, and nearly fell over the leg of some one stretched across
the entrance. When I turned to make apologies to the owner, I found it
had none, but, on a pallet beside it, lay its former possessor, who
had just undergone amputation; beyond him lay a dead artilleryman; and
further on, amongst stumps of arms protruding from the pallets, lay
my wounded brother-officer, who appeared to suffer much more from the
surrounding objects than from his own severe personal injuries. But the
attention bestowed on those wounded at Aliwal, differed much from a
preceding occasion,[46] where the hospital stores and conveniencies had
been so far outmarched, that only two rush-lights were procurable to
_illuminate_ the hospital.

In the course of the 29th, at Loodiana, better shelter was afforded;
and its proximity to the sanatorium in the mountains gave a cheering
prospect for the approaching hot season to those who were not
qualified to become food for powder.

On the evening of the 29th, the remains of all the officers who had
fallen in action were interred in front of the standard guards, and
amongst them were many deeply regretted by their comrades. All were
young, and most had fallen in their first field; but a soldier's
grave has, from the earliest records of mankind, been deemed the most
honourable, and often the most desirable passage from this scene
of trial. No mourning group of relatives surround the couch of the
attenuated sufferer, to aggravate the grief of parting--no lingering
shaft of fate reduces the vigour of manhood to pitiful imbecility, but
the winged messenger or the flashing steel summons the victim, and
amidst the roar of battle's thunder, he bows to the destroying angel.
The warrior's grave, dug on the field of strife, and his bier shrouded
by the proud flag of his country, and surrounded by war-worn veterans
and faithful comrades, are funeral obsequies befitting the close of
the soldier's career. The hearse bedecked with lugubrious trappings
and nodding plumes, which conveys the remnants of frail mortality to
the sepulchre, the train of hired mourners, with their insignia of
office and the pompous mockery of woe, have always been, to my mind,
objects of peculiar disgust. Why should we seek to dress out death in
such fantastic guise, when the ceremonial can only be calculated to
harrow the feelings of suffering relatives by protracted mummery? The
active scene of the undertaker's solemnities closes with the church
portals upon the retiring crowd; but the mouldering corpse has yet to
undergo the sculptor's operations; and the carved sarcophagus tells to
posterity, as far as time will permit, how great and good a worm has
crawled out its allotted course on this scene of trial; and wondering
acquaintances are often astonished to read, after death, a catalogue
of virtues which they had failed to discover during a life of apparent
uselessness. I never could comprehend the object of these strange,
but not uncommon, deceptions. Friends and acquaintances must have
formed their own estimates before the closing scene, and can hardly
be deceived by an epitaph; the opinion of strangers must be a matter
of indifference; and the recommendations of a monument can hardly be
expected to pass current as an introduction to the invisible world. I
cannot think otherwise than that--

 "Praises on tombs are trifles vainly spent;
 A man's good name is his best monument."

But the poet and the cynic appear to have railed at, and ridiculed the
custom in vain, for the stone-mason continues to flourish with unabated

The operations of Sir Harry Smith's division of the army afford
interesting matter for consideration, in a military point of view,
both on account of the enemy's embarrassing manoeuvres against the
weakly-defended points on the upper line of the Sutlej, and also
because the Sikhs ventured to fight for the first time on the open
plain: the light entrenchments, thrown up to cover partially the
working of their guns, will hardly obstruct the use of that term.

It will be remembered, that when Sir Harry Smith was first detached
from Hureeka, the intention was merely to re-open the communication
with Loodiana, brushing away such foraging or predatory bands as
were supposed to infest the intervening country. Dhurrumkote, about
twenty-six miles distant from army head-quarters, and an insignificant
fort, had refused an entrance, but three or four shrapnel speedily
induced the garrison to sue for terms, and a small detachment of native
troops were established in the place, which was hastily put under

In progress from that place, it was first ascertained that the enemy
were in greater force than was before supposed; and no sooner did
reinforcements move to join Sir Harry Smith, than a column of dust,
extending from the Sikh camp up the river, announced a corresponding
movement on the enemy's side, and the reports of our spies soon
corroborated the supposition.[47]

I think it hardly admits of a doubt, that the enemy's flank movement at
Loodiana, besides a predatory excursion, was intended to act against
our siege train, on its arrival at or near Bussean; for on the approach
of Sir Harry Smith's division, the Sikhs _advanced_ to Buddewal,
retreating again only to cover the passage of their reinforcements,
and again moving forwards towards Jugraon (as it was supposed), on the
morning of the 28th of January, when Sir Harry Smith fortunately met
them on their march.

Sir Harry has been violently assailed by the Indian press for the
operations in the neighbourhood of Buddewal; but it must be remembered
that his authority for the enemy occupying that position rested solely
on the report of a spy on the line of march; nor did he make any report
as to the batteries being manned and ready to open on us; the General,
therefore, saw no reason to suppose that it was more than an advanced
post, as had been intimated to him the preceding day.

The order for the march, on the morning of the 21st, had already
provided for that measure; and a party of irregular horse had been
directed "to watch the small fortress occupied by the enemy."

Our gallant General frequently expressed himself in the strongest terms
hostile to credulity in rumours, and doubtless acted on this principle
on the 21st of January. Had he decided to halt that morning, when the
enemy were first discovered, there was an excellent position beyond the
reach of their batteries, where the troops might have been assembled,
and the march towards Loodiana resumed over the open plain, and out of
reach of the Sikhs' heavy artillery.

Sir Harry had resolved upon reaching Loodiana that day, according to
the orders for the march; and when it became apparent that the enemy
was in full strength, and had unmasked his batteries, the British
General immediately perceived the disadvantages under which he must
have suffered had a general action ensued, and withdrew his forces with
a masterly hand, although the Sikhs exhibited an equally _masterly_ one
over our baggage.

Few military men will venture to blame Sir Harry Smith for declining
an action with the enemy on the 21st of January, when it is taken into
consideration--firstly, that Colonel Godby's force, taking another line
of country, had not arrived when the Sikhs were upon us; secondly,
that our infantry were nearly exhausted by fatigue, and scarcely able
to make their way through the deep sand, whilst the enemy were quite
fresh; and, lastly, that the Sikhs could have compelled us to attack
them under cover of their batteries in Buddewal, for which operations
we had no sufficient ordnance.

When also a great disparity of numbers exists, as on the occasion in
question, there can be no doubt of its being incumbent on the General
to bring the lesser body at least fresh upon the field, where so much
activity is required to counterbalance the opposing force; and in the
open plain the Sikhs so far outflanked our line, that Sir Harry was
compelled to make a defensive change of front when threatened by a
demonstration made by Runjoor Singh against the British left.

The want of heavy guns, and the paucity of our numbers compared to
the Sikhs, caused the attack of their post to be deferred, after
our bivouac at Loodiana, until the arrival of reinforcements from
head-quarters. After the enemy had evacuated their position at
Buddewal, and our expected reinforcements had arrived, many were
strongly of opinion that no attack could in prudence be attempted
until guns of heavier metal were procurable. Sir Harry Smith, however,
wisely foresaw the evil effect which must have ensued, should it be
promulgated throughout India that the right wing of the British forces
had been checked by the Sikhs, and continued inactive at Loodiana,
apparently unable to commence offensive operations.

The news of a daring conspiracy[48] at Patna had, at this juncture,
reached the Governor-general's camp; and an immediate and decisive blow
was especially necessary, to convince the people of India that the
British resources were sufficient to crush the invaders and to punish
domestic sedition. The whole province of Bengal having been nearly
denuded of British troops, any internal disaffection being allowed to
develop itself might have led to most disastrous consequences; but this
was happily discovered, and repressed in due season.

Had the Sikhs retreated across the Sutlej after the skirmish at
Buddewal, carrying off their booty unmolested, the result of Sir
Harry Smith's expedition would have been far from satisfactory; but,
fortunately for that gallant officer, the enemy had been inspired with
so much confidence, that they not only remained on the left bank, but
actually came out of their entrenched camp, and gave him battle on the
very day and hour he desired to bring on the engagement.

To so high a pitch had Sikh confidence risen since the operations
of the 21st of January, that there appears every reason to suppose
that their movement on the morning of the 28th was intended as much
to intercept us from the main column, as to threaten the siege train
advancing from Delhi. Had the Sikhs been in earnest in this manoeuvre,
and gained Jugraon by a forced march, the character of the subsequent
operations must have undergone a material change, the fort of that town
being of solid masonry, and capable of standing a siege; and there
is little doubt that they would have gained an acquisition of force
when in the protected Sikh states, by so bold an advance. But such a
movement must ultimately have proved fatal to their interest, when cut
off from the river, and placed between the two British columns.

It was reserved for the issue of the battle of Aliwal to teach our
enemies how rapid a defeat the best of their troops must suffer when
opposed in the open plain to a well organized British army, directed by
an experienced, brave, and intelligent leader.

In manning the position they had assumed, much had been neglected on
the part of the Sikhs. The fortified village of Aliwal, which covered
their left flank, and would have insured a most galling fire on our
advancing line, if resolutely defended by an effective garrison, was
occupied by an insufficient body of irregular troops, and defended only
by two or three pieces of ordnance, which were carried with little
resistance. Such an oversight must be attributed to surprise; for, if
the enemy were actually on their march towards Jugraon on the morning
of the 28th, they certainly had not time to throw a sufficient force,
with heavy guns, into the village (which held an advanced position)
before Sir Harry Smith was upon them.

When Aliwal was once carried, the only resource left was that which was
readily adopted by Runjoor Singh, namely, changing front left back,
thus endeavouring to throw his left into the entrenched camp on the
Sutlej, whilst his right rested on Boondree. But even this manoeuvre
was almost desperate, for the extent of front along this new position
was so great, that ere the movement could be effected, his flanks were
doubled up and his line pierced in several places, nor were the Sikhs
a sufficiently disciplined army to manoeuvre steadily under fire.
When driven at every point from their well chosen position, the Aeen
battalions fell doggedly back, but never condescended to fly, though
plied with musketry and shrapnel. They retreated, maintaining the
character they had earned, and facing about at intervals to check their
pursuers by a retreating fire. Those troops, the pupils of Avitabile,
did credit that day to themselves and their master; and, however
we may abhor their treachery and thirst of blood, displayed in the
revolutionary annals of the Punjaub since the death of the old Lion of
Lahore, we must at least bear witness to their resolute courage and
soldierlike bearing.

The Goorcheras and Irregular Infantry (as we were subsequently
informed) had not the same heart in the cause as the Aeen battalions,
of whom war was the profession and livelihood, and plunder and
assassination the pastime.

It has been asserted that Sir Harry Smith might, without difficulty,
have crossed the Sutlej with his victorious army after the battle of
Aliwal, and seized on or destroyed the fortress of Philoor, which
had been the harbour of assemblage for the Sikhs whilst threatening
Loodiana; but it must be taken into consideration that the British
general's directions were only to clear the left bank of the enemy,
and that our forces were not equipped for an incursion into the Sikh
territories. Had such a measure been deemed prudent, it would have
called for extensive commissariat arrangements. To have crossed merely
to destroy the innocent fort of Philoor, and then to retire, would have
been useless and undignified.

But there were stronger reasons even than these. Sir Harry Smith had
no authority to cross the Sutlej. The Sikhs were playing our game so
industriously on our own side of the river, in crossing and occupying
in force their most inexplicable position near Hureeka, that the
final act of the tragedy was at hand, for which it was necessary to
concentrate the whole British strength.


 |                        |          KILLED.     |         WOUNDED.            |
 |                        +------+-------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+
 |                        |Offi- |Non-   |Trumpe-|Offi- |Non-   |Trump- |Mis-  |
 |                        | cers.|commis-| ters, | cers.|commis-| eters,| sing.|                            |
 |                        |      | sioned|Drum-  |      | sioned|Drum-  |      |
 |                        |      |offi-  | mers, |      |offi-  | mers, |      |
 |                        |      | cers. |Rank & |      | cers. |Rank & |      |
 |                        |      |       | File. |      |       | File. |      |
 |Cavalry Division--      |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |  1st Brigade:          |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |    H.M. 16th Lancers   |   2  |  --   |  56   |   6  |   --  |    77 |    1 |
 |    3rd Light Cavalry   |  --  |   2   |  27   |  --  |    1  |    21 |      |
 |    4th Irregulars      |   1  |  --   |  --   |  --  |   --  |     2 |      |
 |  2nd Brigade:          |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |    Body-Guard          |  --  |  --   |  --   |  --  |   --  |       |      |
 |    1st Cavalry         |  --  |  --   |   9   |   2  |   --  |    14 |      |
 |    5th ditto           |  --  |  --   |   1   |  --  |    1  |     8 |      |
 |    Shekawattee Cavalry |  --  |  --   |   1   |  --  |    2  |    12 |      |
 |                        |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |Artillery               |  --  |  --   |   3   |  --  |   --  |    15 |    5 |
 |                        |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |Infantry--              |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |  1st Brigade:          |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |    H.M. 31st Regt.     |  --  |  --   |   1   |   1  |   --  |    14 |      |
 |    24th Native Infantry|  --  |  --   |  --   |   1  |   --  |     5 |    7 |
 |    47th ditto          |  --  |  --   |   1   |  --  |   --  |     9 |      |
 |  2nd Brigade:          |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |    H.M. 50th Regt.     |   1  |  --   |   9   |  10  |   --  |    59 |    4 |
 |    48th Native Infantry|  --  |   1   |   9   |   4  |     1 |    36 |      |
 |    Sirmoor Battalion   |  --  |  --   |   9   |  --  |     1 |    39 |      |
 |  3rd Brigade:          |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |    H.M. 53rd Regt.     |  --  |  --   |   3   |  --  |    -- |     8 |    2 |
 |    30th Native Infantry|  --  |  --   |   4   |  --  |    -- |    24 |    1 |
 |  4th Brigade:          |      |       |       |      |       |       |      |
 |    36th Native Infantry|  --  |  --   |   3   |   1  |    -- |    10 |    1 |
 |    Nusseeree Battalion |  --  |  --   |   6   |  --  |    -- |    16 |      |
 |    Shekawattee Infantry|  --  |  --   |   2   |  --  |    -- |    13 |    4 |
 |                        +------+-------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+
 |          Total         |   4  |   3   | 144   |  25  |     6 |   382 |   25 |

     Horses killed     177
       "    wounded     79
       "    missing     97

 Total killed, wounded, and missing, 589 men,
           "           "             353 horses.

_Nominal Roll of Officers Killed and Wounded at the Battle of Aliwal,
28th Jan. 1846._


 1st Cavalry Brigade--
   H.M. 16th Lancers    Lieut. Swetenham.
           "            Cornet G.B. Williams.
   4th Irreg. Cavalry   Lieut. and Adjutant Smalpage.

 2nd Infantry Brigade--
   H.M. 50th Regt.      Lieut. Grimes.


 1st Cavalry Brigade--
   H.M. 16th Lancers    Major Smyth, severely.
           "            Capt. E. Bere.
           "            Capt. L. Fyler, severely.
           "            Lieut. W.K. Orme, ditto.
           "            Lieut. T. Pattle.
           "            Lieut. W. Morris.

 2nd Cavalry Brigade--
   1st Light Cavalry    Cornet Farquhar, mortally.
           "            Cornet Beatson, slightly.

 1st Infantry Brigade--
   H.M. 31st Regt.      Lieut. Atty, slightly.
   24th N.I.           Lieut. Scott.

 2nd Infantry Brigade--
   H.M. 50th Regt.      Capt. O'Hanlon, badly.
           "            Capt. Knowles, dangerously.
           "            Capt. Wilton, severely.
           "            Lieut. Frampton, dangerously.
           "            Lieut. R.H. Bellers, slightly.
           "            Lieut. W.P. Elgree, slightly.
           "            Lieut. A.W. White, severely.
           "            Lieut. W.C. Vernett, ditto.
           "            Lieut. T. Purcell, ditto.
           "            Lieut. W. Farmer, ditto.
   48th N.I.           Capt. Troup, slightly.
           "            Capt. Palmer, ditto.
           "            Lieut. and Adjutant Wall, severely.
           "            Ensign Marshall, slightly.

 4th Infantry Brigade--
   36th N.I.           Ensign Bagshaw.

 _Return of Ordnance captured from the Enemy in action at Aliwal, by
 the 1st Division of the Army of the Sutlej, under the personal command
 of Major-General Sir Harry Smith, K.C.B., on the 28th Jan. 1846._

 _Camp, Aliwal, 30th Jan._

 13 Howitzers:

  8 inch, brass, 2ft. 9in., serviceable.
 24 pounder, 3ft. 11in., do.
 13 pounder, copper, 3ft. 9in., do.
 12 pounder, brass, 4ft. 9in., do.
 12 pounder, do.       do.     do.
  7 pounder, do., 3ft. 5-1/2in., unserviceable.
 12 pounder, copper, 3ft. 9in., serviceable.
 12 pounder, do.          do.        do.
 12 pounder, do.          do.        do.
 12 pounder, brass, 3ft. 9in., highly ornamented, serviceable.
  9 pounder, copper, 3ft. 11in., do. do.
  9 pounder, do., 2ft. 9-1/2in., do.
 12 pounder, do., 3ft. 4-1/2in., do.

 4 Mortars:

 10 inch, brass, 2ft. 3in., mounted, and field carriage,
  8-1/2 inch, copper, 1ft. 9in., do. do.
 6 inch, brass, 1ft. 4-1/2in., a curious old piece,
       with highly carved and ornamented carriage, do.
 4-1/2 inch, brass, 1ft. 4-1/2in., do. do.

 52 Guns:

  1. 8 pounder, brass, 10ft. 2in., ornamented with dolphin
       and rings, apparently a French battering
       gun, heavy metal, serviceable.
  2. 8 pounder, copper, 4ft. 11-3/4in., do.
  3. 8 pounder, brass, 4ft. 11in., do.
  4. 8 pounder, brass, 5ft. 1in., do.
  5. 7 pounder, do., 4ft. 11in., heavy metal, do.
  6. 7 pounder, do., 4ft. 3-1/2in., do. do.
  7. 6-1/2 pounder, copper, 5ft. 1in., do.
  8. 6 pounder, brass, 5ft., do.
  9. 6 pounder, do., 4ft. 1in., do.
 10. 6 pounder, copper, 5ft. 3-1/2in., do.
 11. 6 pounder, brass, 5ft. 5-1/2in., heavy metal, unserviceable.
 12. 6 pounder, do., 4ft. 11in., do., serviceable.
 13. 6 pounder, do., 4ft. 10in., inscription in English
       characters--Owner, King Runjeet Sing; Commander,
       Meg Sing Kakur; Maker, Rai Sing;
       Lahore, 1833, No. 1, serviceable.
 14. 6 pounder, do., 4ft. 8in., do.
 15. 6 pounder, do., 4ft. 11-1/4in., highly ornamented carriage, do.
 16. 6 pounder, do., 4ft. 11in., do., same as No. 13, do.
 17. 6 pounder, 4ft. 8in., Persian inscription, do.
 18. 6 pounder, do., 5ft., do.
 19. 6 pounder, copper, do. do.
 20. 6 pounder, brass, 4ft. 10-1/2in., do.
 21. 6 pounder, do. do. do.
 22. 6 pounder, copper, 4ft. 11in., highly ornamented
       carriage, inlaid with brass and steel, do.
 23. 6 pounder, do. do. do. do.
 24. 6 pounder, brass, do. do. do.
 25. 6 pounder, 4ft. 9-1/2in., do. do.
 26. 6 pounder, copper, 4ft. 10-3/4in., do. do.
 27. 6 pounder, gun metal, 4ft. 10-1/2in., apparently a
       capital gun, do.
 28. 5-3/4 pounder, brass, 5ft. 7in., Persian inscription, do.
 29. 5-3/4 pounder, 5ft. 9in., heavy metal, would ream out
       to a 9 pounder, do.
 30. 4 pounder, 4ft. 7in., heavy metal, do.
 31. 3 pounder, copper, 3ft., Persian inscription, do.
 32. 3-1/2 pounder, brass, 4ft. 7in., heavy metal, do.
 33. Unknown, sunk in the Sutlej.
 34. Do. do.
 35. Do. do.
 36. Do. do.
 37. Do., spiked on opposite bank.
 38. Do. do.
 39. 6 pounder, brass, do., taken possession of in the fort of Gungrana.
 40. 9 pounder, do., do., do.
 41. 6 pounder, 4ft. 11-1/2 in., serviceable.
 42 to 52. Unknown, sunk in the Sutlej, or since brought in.

 Abstract of Captured Ordnance:

 Serviceable, 12 howitzers, 4 mortars, 33 guns.
 Unserviceable, 1 howitzer, 2 guns.
 Sunk and spiked, 13 guns.
 Since brought in, 2 guns.

 Grand total, 67 guns.

Forty swivel camel guns also captured, which have since been destroyed.

 (Signed)                  W. Barr,
               Lt. and Bt. Capt. II. Artillery,
                   Adjt. Artillery Division.

 (Signed)                G. Lawrenson,
                    Major 2nd Brigade H.A.,
                 Commanding Artillery 1st Divn.
                      Army of the Sutlej.

N.B.--The quantity of ammunition captured with the artillery, and found
in the camp of the enemy, is beyond accurate calculation, consisting
of shot, shell, grape, and small-arm ammunition of every description,
and for every calibre. The powder found in the limbers and wagons
of the guns, and in the magazines of the entrenched camp, has been
destroyed, to prevent accidents. Six large hackery loads have also been
appropriated to the destruction of forts in the neighbourhood. As many
of the shot and shell as time would admit of being collected, have been
brought into the park. The shells, being useless, have been thrown into
the river. The shot will be appropriated to the public service.

 (Signed)                G. Lawrenson,
                    Major 2nd Brigade H.A.,
                 Commanding Artillery 1st Divn.
                      Army of the Sutlej.

 (Signed)                   W. Barr,
                 1st Lieut. and Bt. Capt. Adjt.
                      Artillery Division.


[Footnote 40:

     1st Brigade      H.M. 16th Lancers.
          "           3rd Native Cavalry.
          "           4th Irregulars.

     2nd Brigade      Body-Guard.
          "           1st Native Cavalry.
          "           5th ditto.
          "           Shekawattee Horse.

     1st Brigade      H.M. 31st Regt.
          "           24th Native Infantry.
          "           47th ditto.

     2nd Brigade      H.M. 50th Regt.
          "           Sirmoor battalion.
          "           48th Native Infantry.

     3rd Brigade      H.M. 53rd Regt.
          "           30th Native Infantry.

     4th Brigade      36th Native Infantry.
          "           Nusseeree Battalion.
          "           Shekawattee Infantry.
          "           Sappers.

[Footnote 41: I have particularized this case, because there were few
instances of the Sikh cavalry emulating the example of their comrades
on foot during the whole campaign.]

[Footnote 42: These Aeen troops were Avitabile's battalions, formed
and drilled by him at Peshawur. Their uniforms were scarlet with
green facings; their arms were a musket and sword. The Sikh irregular
infantry were usually dressed in white, and armed with a matchlock,
sword, and shield--the latter slung on the back.]

[Footnote 43: In this charge Major Smyth was severely wounded; but,
regardless of personal injury, he continued to direct the operations of
his regiment until the Sikhs finally abandoned their position.]

[Footnote 44: It was here that the Shekawattee brigade and body guard
earned their _undying renown_. This was the last chance for them, as,
during the day, they had not come into collision with the enemy.]

[Footnote 45: These swivel guns were fired from camels' backs, and
usually carried balls of about one pound weight.]

[Footnote 46: At Moodkee.]

[Footnote 47: This imitative propensity of the Sikhs had often amused
us. If a new picket were ever posted in any out of the way place, the
Sikhs invariably posted a party of similar strength within a few hours.
If the videttes or sentries were doubled, their shadows forthwith
appeared on the opposite bank.]

[Footnote 48: Some men of influence and property in the neighbourhood
of Patna tampered with the native officers of a sepoy regiment
quartered there, but the plot was divulged and crushed in its infancy.]



Sir Harry Smith's forces, with the exception of details of native
troops, left for the protection of Loodiana, having been recalled to
head-quarters, commenced their march on the morning of the 3rd of
February, taking the direct road near the banks of the Sutlej.

To Brigadier Wheler was entrusted the command of the forces left at
Loodiana, (consisting of twelve guns, the 1st Cavalry, 4th Irregulars,
and four regiments of Native Infantry.) These troops were intended
to act as a moveable column for the protection of the line of country
between Loodiana and Dhurrumkote. Matters were thus placed on a more
organized footing; a communication being secured with Loodiana, the
fords of the Sutlej watched, and the Sikh predatory bands confined to
excursions amongst the villages on their own side of the river, which
were by this time pretty nearly exhausted.

Most of the regiments returning from Aliwal presented a sadly
diminished front; and H.M.'s 31st and 50th, the former of which had
been present in every action and skirmish hitherto fought with the
Sikhs, scarcely covered the ground of one weak battalion. In the
officers' lines, the diminution was equally perceptible; and in the
reduced mess-tents of each regiment, wide and melancholy intervals
around the once-crowded tables told but too truly of the fatal
precision of the enemy's fire, and of the ready and forward breasts
which had been presented to their aim.

Wine had become scarce at every table; but the absence of this
incentive to the spirits and conversation of the assemblies did not
produce a very depressing effect. The stirring events of the campaign,
in which all had been engaged, afforded ample subject for discussion;
but the sharp routine of duty, and the daily call to arms at break of
day, made early hours universally fashionable and headaches scarce.

The literary characters of the army (not a very numerous class) were
perhaps more at a loss than their comrades; for our books had nearly
all deserted to the enemy on the 21st of January, and a very scanty
sprinkling were recovered when the Sikh camp was captured on the 28th.

Most of the army were utterly at a loss to know what that camp
contained; but perhaps the mystery may be solved by the Shekawattee
cavalry, or the irregular horse, whose operations were principally
confined to that part of the field.

My own share of plunder on that occasion amounted to a bottle of London
porter, wrapped carefully in a Sikh blanket, and stowed on a camel's
back. A native follower was stalking hastily away with this inestimable
treasure, when my groom overtook the delinquent, and I scrupled not to
appropriate the booty to my own use.

I never tasted more refreshing beverage than that same bottle
contained; and I do not remember ever having found a blanket more
acceptable than on the night of the 28th of January, 1846.

On the morning of the 6th of February, Sir Harry Smith's column,
bringing as trophies a portion of the Sikh ordnance captured at Aliwal,
returned to their former position near Hureeka ford. On arrival, they
were met by the gallant commander-in-chief with his staff. Sir Hugh
rode along the line, and expressed in the warmest terms his approbation
of the services rendered by each regiment; and the emotion with which
the kind-hearted veteran spoke, effectually supplied the place of the
studied oratory in general use for parade purposes.

Our pickets were again thrown out on the Sutlej, and resumed nearly the
same position which had been occupied previous to the late operations;
and nothing, apparently, gave evidence of the recent important events,
save the diminished strength of the squadrons and companies under arms.
The Sikh videttes, at regular intervals, stood, like so many white
statues, on their allotted posts, and the patrols sauntered hourly
along the high banks between the chain of pickets.

During our excursion to Loodiana, the Sikhs had not remained inactive.
Their bridge of boats having been completed and strengthened, the
enemy had crossed, and thrown up a large, semicircular entrenchment,
embracing the re-entering sinuosity of the river, with a face of about
three miles in extent. At first, the Sikhs crossed only in small
numbers, sufficient to protect the working-parties in the trenches; but
finding these unmolested, they brought their guns across the Sutlej,
and established themselves in full strength in their strange position.

Parties of Goorchera horsemen, fording daily above and below the bridge
of boats, showed us that the transit of the river near Sobraon might
be accomplished with facility by the whole army when it should be
deemed requisite. Formerly, the Sikhs had been in the habit of crossing
a few thousand by day, and retiring again at nightfall; but now that
the works had assumed a more permanent appearance, the enemy seemed to
have nearly vacated their camp on the right shore, and to have occupied
permanently the entrenchments with battalions of regular infantry.
The cavalry spread themselves along the banks, scouring the immediate
neighbourhood, and watching for any aggressive movement on our part.

A better system also prevailed at the outposts: no firing at each
other, or useless waste of human life, took place; and on more than one
occasion, Sikh officers visited and returned from the British camp.

The redoubtable Ghoolab Singh had arrived in Lahore from his mountain
principality of Jamoo, and the Sikh soldiery gained much confidence
from this supposed acquisition of strength, which they hourly
expected to reinforce their camp. It was reported that Ghoolab Singh
had brought with him his whole army, amounting to thirty pieces of
artillery, and upwards of thirty thousand men; but this account
afterwards proved to be incorrect; his forces did not exceed, in all,
ten thousand troops.

However, Ghoolab and his army seemed to have taken root at Lahore; and
no entreaties of his countrymen prevailed with that cunning chief to
commit himself by joining the Khalsa army in front of Sobraon. Nor is
it matter of surprise, that so cunning a diplomatist as the aforesaid
rajah proved himself, should have wished to see the result of the
struggle which was now impending, before he openly joined an army
which had already experienced three defeats. The chances of a British
alliance were too favourable a reserve to be sacrificed, so long as a
double game could be played with any chance of success.

On the 8th of February, a portion of the long-desired siege train,
consisting of twelve ten-inch howitzers, and a large quantity of
ammunition, arrived in camp, after a laborious march from Delhi, with
an escort of one regiment of native cavalry and small details of native
infantry; and Sir Hugh Gough at length found himself prepared with
materials for recommencing active operations when such should be deemed

The main body of the British army was now encamped in line nearly
parallel with the Sutlej, and about three miles distant from the bridge
of boats at Sobraon. One brigade of infantry occupied the fortified
post at Rhodawallah, on the left, whence a good view was obtained
of the Sikh camp and proceedings. The enemy's advanced posts were
thrown forward into a small fortified position, within musket-shot of
Rhodawallah, and a chain of pickets environed the whole front of his

Sir Harry Smith's division, at an interval of about three miles on the
extreme right of the army, continued to watch the fords of Hureeka. Sir
John Grey's division, consisting entirely of native troops, were with
the Governor-general at Ferozepore, about sixteen miles distant; and
the engineers were busily occupied in preparing, on the river near that
town, a pontoon train, by which it had been resolved that the British
army should cross when the position at Sobraon had been stormed, and
the theatre of war transferred to the Sikh territories in the Punjaub.

We were, of course, all aware that the day of action could not be far
distant, as the long-expected siege-train had now poured the greater
part of its materials for destruction into camp; but the precise time
of operations had not as yet been announced.

On the evening of the 9th of February, as I rode along the river, in
company with some brother-officers, we perceived that the enemy had
just brought six guns into a village on the high bank above Hureeka.
These were probably planted to defend the ford, in case the British
cavalry should attempt to cross the river at the same time that the
entrenchments were attacked.

About sunset, we observed the enemy's patrols taking their usual
excursion along the banks; and so proud were the troops in the village
of the new playthings which they had got, that they could not resist
the temptation of showing us they were all kept in good order, by
firing two or three rounds from each gun.

European nations are not much in the habit of wasting ammunition in
that playful manner, and when a battery opens, it generally means
something; but this is by no means the case amongst the Asiatics.
The Sikhs especially delight in noise, and neglect no opportunity of
indulging the propensity. Indeed, it was a matter of surprise to us,
how they could ever rest with such a perpetual clatter of cannon and
musketry going on in their camp.

With the above-named exception, the Sikh pickets did not appear more on
the alert than usual; nor were they strengthened at any point; so that
there is no reason to suppose the enemy anticipated the attack which
was to ensue in a few hours.

That night, when assembled in our mess-tent, we indulged in a
discussion as to the means available for repelling the Sikhs from
the insolent position they had assumed on our territories; but many
were of opinion that the day of aggression was yet far distant; and
some thought--nay, decided--that Sir Henry Hardinge would not feel
himself prepared to cross the Sutlej before the ensuing autumn. The
argument, when at its height, was interrupted by the hasty arrival of
a staff-officer, with orders for the brigadier. Those orders were for
the preparation of the mighty machinery which was to be brought into
operation ere the morning sun had lit the rival camps, and which was
destined to hurl the boasting invaders from the segment of land they
occupied, headlong into the pitiless waters of the Sutlej.

A few weeks ago, the eve of a battle, suddenly announced, would have
sent half the party at table to make their wills, or to prepare for
the coming event as well as a few hours' notice would permit; but now,
most of these preparations had already been made;--(and as few were
sanguine enough to suppose they could last much longer, as fully half
their comrades had been killed or crippled, and the enemy appeared
fresher than ever,)--the approaching struggle excited perhaps a trifle
more of interest than would have been bestowed on a hurdle-race or
steeple-chase, to come off next morning.

We were ordered to be under arms and moving about two hours before
daybreak; and therefore an early retreat was advisable, in order to be
in proper condition for the labours which the coming day threatened to
entail on some, and to terminate for ever with others.

However lightly the subject may be treated, with lively companions
and flashing lights around you, yet, when the scene is changed to the
dusky canvas walls of a solitary tent, and the subsiding hubbub of the
camp leaves one to court sleep or reflection, I confess, for my own
part, that the eve of a battle has never been the calmest of my nightly
rests. The probability that ere to-morrow's sun has set we may be one
of that loathsome class for whom the "hiatus maxime deflendus"--"to
be filled up by spade and mattock"--is awaiting, usually causes a
retrospect which, unless with a man possessing the philosophy or vanity
of a Cicero,[49] must be somewhat perplexing. When the deeds of a life
are hurriedly compressed into a few hours' consideration, I have always
found the dark side inevitably gaining the ascendance, and no effort of
will would cause the imaginary sphere to revolve and present a luminous
surface to view. That austere judge, whom the ancients described as
inflicting punishment on the hapless shades who, though guiltless of
heinous crimes, had yet neglected numerous opportunities of benefiting
mankind, appeared to me to discharge his duty so rationally, that I
could not impugn the decision.

Although our actions may be matter of very light reflection whilst time
floats gaily onwards, yet a life of uselessness does not afford a very
satisfactory retrospect, especially when it appears likely to come to
an abrupt conclusion. Seeking earnestly for some familiar spirit to
avert the unpromising theme, the demon Ambition rises, and points, with
beckoning gestures, to worldly distinctions, success, and military
renown. The fascinating vision then appears entitled to be treated with
some respect, and away flies Mammon with his unresisting victim. Cruel
seducer! As in the case of a rustic caught by the recruiting serjeant
with a bunch of coloured ribbons and an Eldorado in the distance, sad
experience alone unmasks the sombre reality, and the disappointed
aspirant to a shadow, finds that rank and honours are reserved for the
soldier's declining years; but youth and glory are rarely companions[50].
Perhaps it may be good policy to keep the phantom hovering in sight,
when possession destroys the mistaken pursuit, or at all events,
discovers its true value. Notwithstanding these trite complaints, the
subordinate regimental ranks have ever proved faithful to their duty,
and the English soldier has continued "to conquer under the cold shade
of aristocracy."[51]

In the midst of reflections of this useless nature, I was roused by the
mild voice of a native attendant whispering, as softly as if he feared
the enemy might overhear him, that the camp was stirring, and that the
appointed hour had arrived. To my surprise, I found that the hands of
my watch confirmed the Hindoo's assertion; and my night of intended
repose had slipped away in a less profitable employment.

Hastily buckling on my equipments, and having seen that my saddle was
equally prepared for the emergencies of the day, I rode on to where the
dark array of troops were gathering on their alarm posts in the dim
star-light. Each brigadier had received, overnight, his instructions
for the position to be occupied on this momentous occasion; and the
movement of the forces was conducted with that silence and regularity
which complete discipline, and an intimate knowledge amongst those in
command of their respective duties in the field, can always ensure.
Each word of command, though softly uttered, was effectually obeyed,
and the column proceeded to take up their position on the extensive
curve assumed by the investing army.

The atmosphere, laden with heavy vapours, spread a darkening veil
between the rival hosts, and thousands of eyes watched earnestly for
the rising of the curtain and the beginning of the tragedy.


[Footnote 49: Cicero declared, that if any deity permitted him to live
his life over again, he should refuse, on the plea of being unable to
do better.]

[Footnote 50: None under the rank of field-officers are promoted to the
honours of the "Bath;" and knighthood is usually reserved for generals.]

[Footnote 51: Vide Napier's "Peninsular War," vol. iii. p. 272.]



It has before been mentioned, that the Sikh entrenchments presented to
us a semicircular figure, the rear of their position resting on the
re-entering sinuosity of the river. On the left of the enemy's works, a
high parapet had been thrown up, and part of this front was protected
by a nullah, with a steep bank acting as a counterscarp, and the bed of
this watercourse was filled, in some places, by deep pools of stagnant
water, which extended along the centre. On the right flank, the track
of the nullah was but faintly marked; and in this quarter, the works
had not been completed, and were not more formidable than the trenches
at Ferozeshuhur, before described. Batteries were disposed along the
face of the entrenchments, and the whole area had been defended with
traverses and ditches, which defiladed the garrison from a direct fire,
in any direction where our guns could be brought to attack. A raised
battery of the enemy's heavy guns, placed at the bridge, commanded the
approaches, and swept the whole works in reverse. Guns were also placed
on the opposite side of the river, which threatened the position, in
case of its falling into the hands of the British.

The works were garrisoned principally by regular battalions of
infantry, whose cantonments consisted of wicker-work huts, behind the
parapet along the right.

The British forces advanced to envelop these works, one regiment being
ordered to precede and carry the enemy's main picket at the point of
the bayonet, when the mortars and howitzers, which were to be advanced
to the front, were to open on the Sikhs.

The cavalry formed a wing on each flank of the British attack, to guard
against any diversion which might be attempted by the enemy's cavalry,
which swarmed in incalculable numbers near the fords on the opposite
bank of the Sutlej.

As we lay under arms on our allotted posts, every ear was intently
listening, in expectation of the first boom from the mortars and
howitzers, which were to announce the commencement of the work of death.

All awaited in silent and earnest attention the appointed signal, and
scarcely the clash of a sabre could be heard which might convey to the
enemy's pickets an alarm of the approach of the formidable host which
were preparing to assail the doomed garrison. Not even an expiring
groan or shriek had been heard from the Sikh advanced posts, which had
been marked for destruction, and we were speculating whether the misty
appearance round the horizon would be dispelled by the increasing light
of day, when a flash from our batteries, succeeded by the roar of one
of the monster howitzers, and the rushing sound of the hissing mass
of iron hurled forth and bursting over the Sikh entrenchments, was the
long-expected herald of battle.

Light flashed upon light in regular succession from the batteries, but
the fuses of the shells were too short, and they burst high in the air,
much to the enemy's comfort. The fire from the howitzers appeared to be
more effectual, and we marked them bursting and ricochetting along the
entrenchments. Hitherto, not a shot had been returned by the Sikhs, and
we almost conjectured, owing to this unusual silence, that the enemy
had either evacuated their position, or had lost heart, and resolved
to retire. The heavy guns were limbered up, and advanced further to
the front, and when daylight began to show with some distinctness the
neighbouring objects, our batteries once more opened at a nearer range.

All doubt as to the Sikhs being still in their works was soon cleared
up, for no sooner had they felt the weight of our shot, and perceived
we were in earnest, than a fierce reply of defiance was hurled from
every battery, and the stunning roar of the rival artillery rolled in
tremendous waves along the plain.

The dense clouds of smoke which enveloped the front of the contending
armies, rolled thicker and thicker, penetrated by the angry and rapid
flashes from the heavy guns; and as the destroying missiles hissed and
ricochetted along the hard ground, it appeared wonderful that any were
spared from the iron paths of devastation torn along the soil in almost
every direction.

Our mortars still continued to burst harmlessly in the air, and the
Sikh works were so well defiladed from direct or even ricochet fire,
that it soon became evident that the enemy would never be driven
from his position by a cannonade, which was answered with unabated
vigour. The investing force was therefore ordered to advance to closer
quarters, whilst the artillery, which was disposed in positions with
each division, covered the approach by an incessant cannonade. The
centre and right divisions of the British line were intended to engage
the enemy's attention, whilst the real attack was directed against the
Sikhs' extreme right, where the entrenchments were known to be weakest,
being incomplete. Each brigade moved forwards with alacrity to the
attack, hastening onwards, under cover of the wreaths of smoke which
rolled along their front.

No sooner did the Sikhs perceive that the storm of their works was
resolved upon, than the whole of their infantry lined the parapets,
and the roll of musketry which tore through our ranks, accompanied by
the steady and regular booming of their guns from every battery along
their position, seemed to threaten our army with ultimate destruction.
Struggling forward a few paces, and then lying down whilst the iron
storm swept over them, each brigade continued to advance, including the
centre and right, for the enemy's numbers were so great, that he was
enabled to maintain the defence of his whole extensive front.

A rolling fire of musketry now burst from the line of British
assailants, as they neared the object of attack in sadly diminished
numbers, and with numerous breaks, caused by the obstinate and
incessant storm of destruction poured from the Sikh batteries and

On the British left the struggle was less fierce, for the Sikhs had
most unaccountably placed fewer numbers to defend their weakest
points, and the fifth brigade of Sir Robert Dick's division penetrated
the enemy's works with trifling loss, thus taking the position in
reverse. But, in the meantime, each brigade along the line had closed
with the entrenchments, marking their advance by a crimsoned track of
fallen soldiers upon the glacis, where the dead and wounded told an
incontrovertible tale of the resolution with which Sobraon had been

On the left centre of the British attack, Lieut.-Col. Franks, of the
10th Foot, had led his regiment to within a distance of about one
hundred and fifty yards of the entrenchments, when, reserving their
fire, they rushed forwards, and bore down all opposition, driving
before them the Bundookcheras, and using the bayonet with a deadly
effect, and such as served to refute, for a second time, Colonel
Michel's strictures on that incomparable weapon.[52] This advantage
being gallantly seconded by every brigade in the division, placed the
ultimate success of the day beyond a doubt, though it was purchased by
the life of their leader, the gallant Sir Robert Dick.

On the extreme right of the British attack, the enemy's works had been
completed, and more resembled a fortification than a common field-work.
The storm of this post had been assigned to Sir Harry Smith's division,
and to them were opposed the flower of the Sikh army. The resolution
with which it was defended was tragically proved by the mangled and
shattered bodies of the assailants strewed along the front. Twice had
H.M. 31st Regiment nearly surmounted the lofty parapets, when they were
hurled back by the overpowering weight of the defenders, and reduced
to the mere skeleton of a regiment;[53] but the gallant 50th rushed
forwards in support of their old comrades; and these two regiments,
conjointly, overcame every obstacle, and plunged amongst the masses of
the enemy, where the conflict raged for a time with desperate ferocity.

One of the enemy's howitzers, served with incredible activity,
committed dire havoc amongst the British ranks. Lieut. Smyth, of the
50th Regiment, being on that flank, dashed forward with the remnant of
his company to capture the obnoxious engine of destruction. When within
a few yards' distance, the howitzer was trained upon the intrepid
assailants, and discharged its murderous contents of grape-shot upon
the devoted band.

The greater portion of the storming party, including their leader, were
swept down by the fire; but the eight or nine men remaining untouched,
rushed with irresistible fury on the foe; and the wounded officer,
when he arose, found that the shattered remnant of his soldiers had
bayoneted the artillerymen beside their howitzer, and repulsed the
defenders, who exceeded their assailants by at least five to one. I
consider this individual instance serves as an illustration of how the
enemy were defeated on this as on previous occasions. When a small body
of devoted soldiers, careless of life, resolved on victory, and united
by the iron bands of discipline, are brought to bear on a portion of an
enemy who want confidence in each other, the attack must be successful,
although the loss sustained may be severe.

In the meantime, whilst the combat raged with unabated fury at the
entrenchments, Gen. Gilbert's division, to whom was allotted the attack
of the centre, had been exposed to the fire of the heaviest batteries,
and a shower of musketry, which would have staggered and repulsed any
but the hardiest British veterans. Winning their way gradually, though
occasionally wide gaps were torn through the line by the sweeping fire
from the batteries and parapets, this gallant band at length surmounted
the entrenchments, which were as formidable an obstacle as had fallen
to any soldier's lot to carry during this campaign. When once within
the works, and the mortal hand-to-hand conflict raged around, the
result was no longer doubtful, although the obstinacy of the enemy's
resistance promised a piteous bill of mortality in this division.

Under General Gilbert's command were the Sirmoor battalion, which had
joined the force at Loodiana, and these fine little Goorkhas gave
evidence that they had not degenerated in military prowess since the
memorable Nepaulese war. The corps is composed of riflemen, carrying
in their girdles a crooked knife, (termed a "kookery,") to give the
coup-de-grace to the wounded, and they used the hideous instrument
with unaccountable zeal against the Sikhs. As they were known to
possess relatives and connexions amongst the Khalsa troops, it had
been a matter of doubt with many that their hands would have been
amongst the foremost in the field, but the battle-cry roused their
hereditary ardour, and overcame every other consideration. Their
gallant leader, Captain J. Fisher, whose exploits with the rifle are
well known to those who have been his companions in the hunting-fields
of the Dhoon,[54] had just surmounted the parapet, when he perceived a
battery not sixty yards distant from him, which continued to gall the
assailants with incessant rounds of grape. Seizing a rifle from the
hands of one of his Goorkhas, Fisher rested his arm on the parapet, and
the next second pierced with a rifle-ball the artilleryman, who was
about to apply the slow match to the touch-hole of a cannon. Receiving
the loaded rifles from the hands of the soldiers, who handed them up
to their commander, he continued to deal rapid destruction amongst the
Sikh golundauze.

A party of Sikh infantry, who were placed in defence of the battery, at
last perceived the marksman, who was quickly silencing their cannon,
and, pouring a volley in that direction, the gallant soldier rolled
back amongst the corpses which strewed the exterior of the works.

The field of Sobraon did not bear on its crimsoned surface a soldier
more deeply regretted by all who knew him than the fallen chief of the
Sirmoor battalion.

The Sikh breastworks had now been carried at several points, and
the enemy fell back towards their second lines. Slowly retreating
towards the inner entrenchments, and yet holding their assailants in
check whilst retiring, they now received a cross-fire from the left
division of the British, which had gained their position by a flank
attack, and with inconsiderable loss. A rolling and tremendous fire
now opened along the whole victorious line of the British, which tore
the Sikh battalions with murderous effect, as their order became more
compact from being compressed on each side. Still, the enemy retired
in creditable array, and showed a threatening front, whilst mown down
by musketry, and charged by the 3rd Light Dragoons, which were led by
Sir Joseph Thackwell into the Sikh entrenchments. Forced backwards,
step by step, towards the river, the foremost of the retreating enemy
thronged upon the bridge of boats, which soon gave way under the
inordinate weight, and left the fugitives to perish in the waters
under the accumulated pressure of their wounded and drowning comrades.
Most of the Sikh battalions, finding the bridge destroyed, entered the
fords, still preserving their ranks to the very edge of the river; but
the waters had risen considerably during the night, and the fords were
nearly impracticable.

The banks of the Sutlej were now lined by the whole force of our
infantry; and the horse artillery having hastily taken up the most
advantageous position which could be found for pouring destruction
into the retiring army, the storm fell with merciless violence upon
the fugitives, who were now struggling in one mighty, confused mass to
reach the opposite shore. So large a mark as the enemy's commingled
hordes presented, could scarcely be missed; and the round shot,
musketry and shrapnel, which swept the surface of the river with deadly
precision, soon converted the greater portion of the Sikh army into a
hideous and straggling wreck of humanity.

The sluggish waters of the Sutlej, clogged with human carcases, swelled
and foamed over wounded and unwounded, locked in the struggling
embrace of mortal peril, and bore them slowly onwards to destruction,
making room for succeeding crowds destined to share a similar fate.
The scattered remnants of the battalions which had defended the
entrenchments of Sobraon with such gallantry and resolution, landing
on the opposite shore, fled wildly from the awful scene of carnage;
and half a winter's day served to destroy for ever those daring and
organized battalions, to accomplish whose discipline and efficiency
had occupied the lifetime, and employed unceasingly the energies of
the old Lion of the Punjaub. Had the master and founder of the Sikh
military power been spared, or his sagacity and political wisdom been
inherited by any of his successors, this day of death would have been
averted, or at least deferred to a succeeding generation. But the God
of Christians, Sikh, and Mahomedans, ordained it; and let the cavillers
at our day's labour turn over the pages of the Old Testament, and
study the military commission of Joshua, before they exclaim against
the catastrophe of Sobraon.

Sixty-seven pieces of cannon were abandoned by the enemy in their
entrenchments, and round every gun in the batteries lay the golundauze,
who had sworn to conquer or die, and had fulfilled their oath.

Every trench was filled to the brim with Sikh corpses, and the
blood-stained area of the entrenchments told a fearful tale of
massacre; but whilst that overgrown assemblage of lawless soldiery
continued in existence, the Punjaub or the British frontier could
entertain no hope of permanent security. Every Sikh carcase which
floated on the Sutlej, or lay stiffening on the gory field of Sobraon,
was one obstacle removed to the re-establishment of order and good
government; and with such an object in view, the destruction of the
Sikh army became a more imperative duty than the removal of any noxious
or venomous animal which might lie in the path we are about to pursue.

The enemy's cavalry, and a few battalions of infantry, which had been
posted in a threatening attitude at the fords of Hureeka, when the
result of the day became apparent, opened a harmless cannonade, from
their nine pounder battery, on the British Cavalry Brigade (which had
been placed to check any diversion in that quarter), and then departed,
taking the route leading towards Lahore.

Before the sun had reached the horizon, not a vestige of that mighty
host which had so long insulted our north-western frontier was to
be seen, save a few dusky tents on the verge of the plain, and
the lifeless bodies lying in the trenches of Sobraon, the lawful
inheritance of the vulture and jackals.

Abundance of Sikh ammunition and stores for carrying on the war,
found in the works, were collected by our artillery and destroyed.
To a late hour of the night of the 10th of February the explosion of
these magazines caused the earth to tremble as with an earthquake, and
sounded like the expiring echo of the thunders which had rolled in
deafening peals throughout the morning.

Immediately the enemy had finally disappeared, parties were detached
from each regiment to bury their dead, and the British army returned to
the quarters which they had quitted on that memorable morning. The 10th
of February brought no rest to our gallant chief, who hastened, after
the enemy's defeat, to Ferozepore, to direct the passage of the Sutlej
by Sir John Grey's division on that very night, when, it was natural
to suppose, there was little likelihood of the Sikh army taking any
measures to oppose our progress. The pontoon train, under the direction
of our engineers, was in readiness for this important movement, and the
advanced guard of the army crossed without any accident on the bridge,
which was finally completed within two days for the transit of the
whole army.

The wounded on the British side had been better provided for than on
any former occasion, although the number of soldiers who had been
struck down caused a scarcity of conveyances. All were as speedily
as possible removed into Ferozepore, where the whole cantonment had
been converted into a hospital, and every attention was bestowed which
medical aid could afford or humanity suggest.

On the day following the action, many Sikhs came across, unarmed, in
search of their deceased comrades, and no interruption being offered
to them in the discharge of these sacred duties, in a short time small
fires were seen to arise on various parts of the field of battle, and
many of the fallen warriors were consigned to the flames.

Two days after the battle, the strange sight was witnessed of British
and Sikhs, Hindoos and Mussulmen, wandering indiscriminately over the
field where all had so recently been engaged in mortal contest.

 _Return of Killed, Wounded, and Missing, of the Army of the Sutlej,
 under the command of his Excellency Sir Hugh Gough, Bart., G.C.B., in
 the action of Sobraon, Feb. 10th, 1846._

 |                         |       KILLED.            |        WOUNDED.         |
 |                         +-------+----------+-------+------+-----------+------|
 |                         |Offi-  |N.C. Offi-|Rank & |Offi- |N.C. Offi- |Rank &|
 |                         | cers. |     cers.| File. | cers.|     cers. | File.|                                                    |
 | General Staff           |   ... |     ...  |  ...  |    2 |           |      |
 | Artillery               |    1  |     ...  |   3   |    1 |      1    |   33 |
 | Engineers               |   ... |     ...  |   2   |    3 |      1    |   16 |
 |                         |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |Cavalry--                |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |  1st Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |   H.M. 3rd Lt. Drag.    |   ... |     ...  |   5   |    4 |     ...   |   22 |
 |   4th Cavalry           |   ... |     ...  |  ...  |   ...|     ...   |    5 |
 |   5th ditto             |   ... |     ...  |  ...  |   ...|     ...   |   10 |
 |   9th Irregulars        |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |  2nd Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |   H.M. 9th Lancers      |   ... |     ...  |   1   |   ...|     ...   |    1 |
 |    2nd Irregulars       |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |  3rd Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |   H.M. 16th Lancers.    |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |   Body-Guard.           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |   3rd Light Cavalry.    |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |                         |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |1st Infantry Division--  |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |  Staff                  |    1  |     ...  |  ...  |    3 |           |      |
 |  1st Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |   H.M. 31st Regt.       |   ... |     ...  |  35   |    7 |     ...   |  112 |
 |   47th Native Infantry  |   ... |      1   |   7   |   ...|      4    |   64 |
 |  2nd Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |   H.M. 50th Regt.       |    1  |     ...  |  41   |   11 |     ...   |  186 |
 |   42nd Native Infantry  |   ... |     ...  |   8   |    2 |      3    |   53 |
 |   Nusseeree Battalion.  |   ... |     ...  |   6   |    1 |      6    |   74 |
 |2nd Division--           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |  Staff                  |    2  |     ...  |  ...  |    3 |           |      |
 |  3rd Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |    H.M. 29th Regt.      |   ... |      1   |   35  |   13 |      7    |  132 |
 |    41st Native Infantry |   ... |      2   |   14  |    8 |      8    |  100 |
 |    68th ditto           |   ... |      1   |   10  |    2 |      3    |   67 |
 |  4th Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |    1st Europeans        |    2  |      2   |   31  |   10 |     16    |  142 |
 |    16th Native Infantry |   ... |     ...  |    6  |    2 |     23    |  123 |
 |    Sirmoor Battalion    |    1  |     ...  |   13  |   ...|      7    |  123 |
 |3rd Division:--          |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |  Staff                  |    1  |          |       |      |           |      |
 |  5th Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |    H.M. 9th Regt        |   ..  |     ...  |    5  |    1 |      2    |   26 |
 |    26th Native Infantry |   ... |     ...  |    3  |    2 |      3    |   19 |
 |    H.M. 62nd Regt.      |    1  |     ...  |    3  |    1 |      3    |   40 |
 |  6th Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |    H.M. 80th Regt.      |   ... |     ...  |   13  |    4 |      3    |   71 |
 |    33rd Native Infantry |    1  |      2   |    3  |    1 |      5    |   54 |
 |    63rd ditto           |   ... |      1   |    2  |    3 |      5    |   26 |
 |  7th Brigade:           |       |          |       |      |           |      |
 |    H.M. 10th Regt.      |    1  |      1   |   29  |    2 |      2    |   98 |
 |    43rd Native Infantry |   ... |     ...  |    7  |    2 |      9    |   85 |
 |    59th ditto           |   ... |     ...  |    4  |    1 |      7    |   53 |
 |    H.M. 53rd Regt.      |    1  |     ...  |    7  |    8 |      1    |  104 |


 13 officers, 3 native officers, 301 non-commissioned officers and rank
 and file, killed.

 101 officers, 39 native officers, 1913 non-commissioned officers, and
 rank and file, wounded.

 Lascars, Syces, and drivers, 3 killed, 10 wounded.

 Grand total of killed and wounded, 2383.

_Nominal Roll of Officers Killed and Wounded at the Battle of Sobraon,
Feb. 10th, 1846._


    1st Troop, 2nd Brig.  1st Lieut. H.J. Faithful.

  1st Infantry Division--
    Staff                 Lieut Hay.
    H.M. 50th Regt.         "   Grimes.

  2nd Infantry Division--
    Staff                 Lieut.-Col. C. Taylor, Brigadier.
        "                 Lieut. T.S. Rawson.
    1st Europeans           "    Shuttleworth.
        "                 Ensign F. Hamilton.
    Sirmoor Battalion     Capt. J. Fisher.

  3rd Infantry Division--
    Staff                 Major-Gen. Sir R. Dick, K.C.B., K.C.H.
    H.M. 62nd Regt.       Lieut. Bartley.
    33rd N.I.               "   Playfair.
    H.M. 10th Regt.          "   W. Beale.
    H.M. 53rd Regt.       Capt. Warren.


  General Staff           Lieut.-Colonel Gough, Q.M.G., very severely.
        "                 Lieut.-Col. Barr, A.G., severely and dangerously.

    2nd Troop, 2nd Brig.  Brevet-Major C. Grant, slightly.

    H.M. 3rd Lt. Drag.      Lieut. J.B. Hawkes, slightly.
            "                "    H.W. White, ditto.
            "               Cornet Kauntze, severely.
            "               Quartermaster Crabtree, slightly.

  1st Infantry Division--
    Staff                   Lieut. Holdich, severely.
            "               Lieut.-Col. Penny, ditto.
            "               Capt. Garvock, ditto.
    H.M. 31st Regt.         Lieut. Law, ditto.
            "                "    Elmslie, ditto.
            "                "    Timbrell, dangerously.
            "                "    Gabbet, slightly.
            "                "    H.G. Tritton, mortally.
            "               Ensign Jones, severely.
            "               Lieut. and Adjt. Bolton, ditto.
    47th N.I.              Lieut. and Adjt. Renny, ditto.
            "               Lieut. James, slightly.
            "               Ensign Walcot, ditto.
            "                "    Oyston, ditto.
    H.M. 50th Regt.         Lieut.-Col. Ryan, dangerously.
            "               Bt.-Lieut.-Col. Pettit, ditto.
            "               Capt. G. Tew, ditto.
            "                "   Bonham, ditto.
            "                "   Needham, ditto.
            "                "   Wilton, very severely.
            "               Lieut. Hough, severely.
            "                "    J.G. Smyth, ditto.
            "                "    C. Mouat, ditto.
            "               Ensign Slessor, slightly.
    42nd N.I.              Lieut. C. Tottenham, ditto.
            "               Major  Polwhele, slightly.
            "               Lieut. Macqueen, severely.
    Nusseeree Battalion.    Capt.  C. O'Brien, ditto.

  2nd Infantry Division--
    Staff                   Major-Gen. Gilbert, slightly.
            "               Lieut. F. Gilbert, A.D.C., ditto.
            "               Lieut.-Col. Maclaren, C.B., dangerously.
    H.M. 29th Regt.         Lieut. G.H. Jones, very severely.
            "               Capt.  Stepney, severely.
            "                 "    Young, slightly.
            "                 "    Murchison, ditto.
            "               Lieut. Henry, severely.
            "                 "    Duncan, ditto.
            "                 "    W. Kirby, very severely.
            "                 "    C. Macdonnel, severely.
            "                 "    Walker, slightly.
            "                 "    St. G. Nugent, severely.
            "                 "    G. Henderson, contusion.
            "                 "    Scudamore, severely.
            "               Ensign Mitchell, very severely.
    1st Europeans           Capt.  Magnay, severely.
            "               Lieut. Patullo, ditto.
            "                 "    Lambert, ditto.
            "                 "    Dennis, ditto.
            "                 "    Hume, dangerously.
            "                 "    Staples, slightly.
            "               Ensign Palmer, ditto.
            "                 "    Davidson, mortally (dead).
            "                 "    Innes, slightly.
    Sirmoor Battalion       Lieut. Beatson, severely.
    16th N.I.              Capt.  Balderston, ditto.
            "               Ensign Hodson, slightly.
    41st N.I.              Capt.  Halford, severely.
            "                 "    Cumberlege, ditto.
            "               Lieut. J. Stephen, slightly.
            "                 "    Onslow, ditto.
            "                 "    Kemble, ditto.
            "               Ensign Scatchard, mortally (dead).
            "                 "    Aikman, slightly.
            "                 "    J. Bennet, ditto.
    68th N.I.              Lieut. Robertson, slightly.
            "               Ensign Dorin, ditto.

  3rd Infantry Division--
    H.M. 9th Regt           Lieut. Daunt, slightly.
    26th N.I.              Lieut. Mackenzie, severely.
            "               Ensign R. White, slightly.
    H.M. 62nd Regt.         Lieut. Haviland, severely.
    H.M. 80th Regt.         Capt.  Cookson, slightly.
            "               Lieut. Crawley, severely.
            "                 "    Kingsley, ditto.
            "               Ensign Wandesford, ditto.
    33rd N.I.              Lieut. Tulloh, ditto.
    63rd N.I.              Capt.  Ormsby, ditto.
            "               Lieut. Morrison, slightly.
            "               Ensign Barber, ditto.
    H.M. 10th Regt.         Lieut. R. Evans, ditto.
            "                 "    C. Lindham, ditto.
    43rd N.I.              Capt.  Lyell, very severely.
            "               Ensign Munro, severely.
    59th N.I.              Lieut. H. Lumsden, ditto.
    H.M. 53rd Regt.         Capt.  Smart, severely.
            "               Lieut. Chester, ditto.
            "                 "    Stokes, ditto.
            "               Ensign Dunning, ditto.
            "               Lieut.-Col. Gold, slightly.
            "               Lieut. Breton, ditto.
            "               Lieut. Clarke, severely.
            "               Ensign Lucas, slightly.

  (Signed)           P. Grant,
              D.A. Gen. of the Army.

(Sixty-seven pieces of artillery captured, of which no official
description is published.)


[Footnote 52: Vide Col. Michel's "Abuse of the Bayonet."]

[Footnote 53: The enemy, sallying from their works, massacred the
wounded soldiers lying near the entrenchments.]

[Footnote 54: The Dhoon is a rich valley under the foot of the
Himalayahs, and the head-quarters of the Sirmoor battalion.]



No action ever fought in the East was more decisive than that of
Sobraon, and few battles of modern times have exhibited a greater loss
in proportion to the numbers engaged.

It must appear that the enemy's intentions in building a bridge of
boats across the river, in face of the British army, was to deter Sir
Henry Hardinge from transferring the war to the opposite shore, where
the Sikh soldiery were well aware that they had much to apprehend from
national dissension as well as private intrigue amongst the sirdars.

As the British army, after its concentration, subsequent to the battle
of Ferozeshuhur, remained some time inactive, awaiting the arrival
of the siege train, the enemy began to regain confidence. It appears
probable that the Sikhs would, ere long, have commenced active hostile
measures, otherwise the attitude assumed at Sobraon must be quite

It is almost superfluous to notice the error committed by the Sikhs in
neglecting to complete their entrenchments, (for which they had ample
time,) and in weakly garrisoning the weakest part of their works. To
that cause, and fighting with a river in their rear, which offered a
main obstacle to their retreat, must be attributed the enormous losses
suffered by the enemy, from which a hasty retirement had saved them on
former occasions.

In each action, the Sikhs had lost nearly all their cannon, and the
greater part of their artillerymen; and as these could not be replaced
by raw levies, each defeat had been more serious than at the first
glance it may have been considered. Indian history offers no parallel
to the resolution displayed by the enemy in preparing for a renewal of
active measures immediately after each defeat.[55] It had long been
a favourite saying with military men in India, that the Sikhs would
certainly fight one good battle when hostilities ensued, and that the
remainder of the war would amount to no more than the reduction of
their forts. This established maxim, however, did not prove that we
were very thoroughly acquainted with the Sikh disposition--and after
Ferozeshuhur, it lost all its advocates. The military theorists were
compelled to trace a new line of operations, which proved, even after
Sobraon, tolerably indefinite, for there were few officers in the army
who did not expect a smart action on the opposite shore.

The heavy losses suffered by the British at Sobraon, were mainly owing
to the strong works which the centre and right divisions of the army
so gallantly stormed. Had the attack upon those points been delayed
until the enemy's weaker parts on his right had been carried, (the Sikh
entrenchments being then taken in reverse,) his batteries would have
been rendered unserviceable, whilst our horse artillery might, with the
sappers' assistance, have been brought into the area of the works, to
act against the disordered masses. Under such circumstances, it appears
likely that the action would have been sooner over, and Sir Harry
Smith's and General Gilbert's divisions spared the storm in which they
suffered so heavily. At the same time that the enemy would have been
compelled to face his new assailants, being attacked by the reserve
division, his retreat would have been completely intercepted, and his
final and utter destruction been apparently inevitable.

As it happened, the Sikh losses were undoubtedly enormous. The
entrenchments were defended by about thirty thousand troops, Aeen
battalions and Bundookcheras, besides irregulars and cavalry, who
retreated early from the scene of action. Of this army, fully one
half were destroyed in the trenches, or in the passage of the river.
During the battle, four boats, connecting the bridge of boats with the
opposite shore, had been removed, which caused the whole fabric rapidly
to give way when oppressed with the weight of the retreating multitude.
This removal of the boats was generally understood to have been a
pre-concerted arrangement with Ghoolab Singh, for the destruction
of a force which caused him, as well as many others, considerable
disquietude. I give this merely as a prevalent report, and one likely
enough to be true, judging from the accomplishments in treachery which
the Sikh history evinces, in common with other nations of Hindostan;
but the secrets of the political department are necessarily maintained
for a time, and have not yet become public.

The revelation would certainly be inconvenient to Ghoolab Singh; and
its suppression, if founded in fact, is perhaps incumbent on those in

Whilst the Sikhs were thus being effectually repelled from our
north-western frontier, the force in Scinde, under Sir Charles Napier,
was rapidly advancing, to co-operate with the British main column. That
energetic warrior hastened towards the scene of warfare, in advance of
his forces, but did not succeed in reaching the field of operations
before the final act of the tragedy had been performed, and the curtain
had fallen. Those who are acquainted with that chivalrous family may
judge of the disappointment endured by a Napier arriving too late for a

At the same time that the British army were concentrated at Kussoor,
Brigadier Wheler's division at Loodiana crossed the Sutlej, opposite
the fortress of Philoor, unopposed by the Sikhs, although a portion of
the Khalsas made their appearance in the neighbourhood; but finding
that the ground had been preoccupied, no attempt was made to molest
the British general.

On the 11th, 12th, and 13th of February, the whole of the British army
having been poured across the bridge of boats, advanced, and took
post on the strong defensible ridge at Kussoor, where a picket of the
enemy, which had occupied that position, fell back, and left them in
undisputed possession of the strongest ground between the river and the

The shattered remnant of the Sikh army, after the defeat at Sobraon,
had fallen back, and bivouacked in the neighbourhood of Umritsir, where
they remained irresolute, and awaiting the result of the deliberations
going on at Lahore. The whole _materiel_ of that army had been so
utterly dismantled, that little apprehension was entertained of even
such efforts as might be prompted by the influence of despair. Their
guns,[56] in which the main confidence of the Sikh army had ever
been placed, had been nearly all captured, and their artillerymen lay
on the field of Sobraon. The Aeen battalions, who had readily and
gallantly borne the brunt of battle in defence of the batteries and
entrenchments, had suffered most severely, especially in the two last
engagements. Under this combination of disasters, the Khalsa army was
from that day forth no longer worthy of consideration; nor is there any
probability that the Sikhs will ever again, during our time, arrive at
the same military predominance which they once possessed.

Still, it appeared doubtful that our advance towards the capital would
be effected without another struggle, for their mettle had been now
too fully tested to be treated any longer with contempt; though any
efforts which might be made when reinforced from Lahore must have been
hopeless, as no time had been allowed them to entrench themselves. It
was conjectured that the sirdars would willingly come forward to sue
for terms, but their influence with the Punchayut was not reckoned on
with much certainty.

In the midst of all doubts on this head, on the 15th of February Rajah
Ghoolab Singh, who had long corresponded through secret emissaries with
the British government, approached the lines of Kussoor in order to sue
for a suspension of hostilities, and, accompanied by a slender escort,
arrived at our outposts.

The Sikh chieftains, with little show of the pride or pomp of other
days, and dressed in the simplest garb of Asiatic soldiery, were
conducted to the quarters of Sir Henry Hardinge, and received with
solemn distrust.

No eagerness was manifested on the part of the British government to
negotiate with the deputation from the Lahore court; but Ghoolab Singh
and his companions exhibited such unquestionable proofs of uneasiness,
anxiety, and humility, that it was almost painful to behold the stately
and chilling deportment which it was deemed politically expedient to
assume towards the humbled Sikh chieftains. No firing of cannon, no
ceremonious salutes were made use of on the occasion; and when Ghoolab
Singh tendered his nazzur[57] he was requested to keep his presents
until he had sufficiently testified, by his future fidelity, the
dependence which might be placed upon his amicable professions towards
the British.

The crest-fallen chiefs appeared willing and anxious to assent to such
conditions as were demanded, and listened with affected humiliation and
evident apprehension to the catalogue of iniquities laid to the charge
of their countrymen. When, at length, Ghoolab and his chosen colleagues
retired to a secret and conclusive interview with the secretaries, it
was more with the air of malefactors about to receive their sentence,
than with the bearing of men who professed themselves the firm and
faithful advocates of British supremacy. The Sikh chiefs were vested
with full powers from the Lahore Durbar and the military Punchayut,
to arrange whatever terms could be obtained, and, after an interview
protracted to a late hour of the night, the rajah took his departure,
having assented to every proposal, and no doubt much relieved to find
the terms were not more stringent[58].

The conditions demanded on our part, and agreed to on that of Ghoolab
Singh, were--

 1. The surrender to the British of the lands[59] lying between the
 rivers Beeas and Sutlej.[60]

 2. The payment of one and a half crore of rupees (a million and a half
 pounds sterling) as an indemnity for the expenses of the war.

 3. The disbandment of the Sikh army, and its reorganization on the
 system and pay of the time of Runjeet Singh.[61] The limitation
 of this army to be determined in communication with the British

 4. The surrender of all guns used in the late campaigns against the

 5. The entire control of the river frontier, and the organization of
 future administration in the Punjaub.

It was also arranged that the young Maharajah, Dhuleep Singh, should
be sent from Lahore to meet the Governor-general on his advance from
Kussoor, and to accompany him to the capital.

Before leaving Kussoor, an officer and six privates, who had been
taken prisoners at Buddewal, were sent from Lahore, where they had
experienced the most liberal treatment from their captors, especially
after the news of Sobraon reached the capital.

The population of the district in which we were encamped professed much
satisfaction at the change of administration about to be effected.
One hoary headed old Mahommedan advanced towards a group of officers
in our lines, smacking his lips, and protesting that he felt immense
confidence in the new government, and had already enjoyed a fair
taste of its benefits, by eating a portion of a slaughtered bull,[62]
a food of which he had not partaken for upwards of forty years. The
superannuated epicure met with very little encouragement from our party.

On the morning of the 18th of February the whole British army advanced
from Kussoor towards Lahore, marching in order of battle, to guard
against any change of mind on the part of our newly acquired friends.

A brigade of cavalry were left in charge of the baggage, and this
onerous duty caused the troops to march more in the semblance of a
funeral procession than that of the advance of a victorious army.

The weather, at this season, was fine, though the sun at noon was
becoming rather severe. The country was generally open and cultivated,
but with large patches of low jungle or underwood interspersed, which
rendered it unfavourable for cavalry manoeuvres, and would have
afforded excellent shelter for the enemy's Light Infantry; but they had
had fighting enough to satisfy them for the present.

On the evening of the 18th, after our arrival in camp, at a small
village named Lullianee, the Sikh chiefs arrived from Lahore, escorting
their youthful Maharajah. The deputation were fully as humble in their
deportment as the most punctilious despot could have required; and
Dhuleep Singh, having been graciously forgiven for the offences of
his countrymen, and raised to the precarious honours of acknowledged
sovereignty, was at last treated to a royal welcome from the voices
of our heavy cannon. A proclamation had been issued from Kussoor,
giving notice that territorial aggrandisement was not the object of the
British government, but that they were desirous only of establishing
such authority at Lahore as would be competent to restrain the
soldiery from the perpetration of outrages similar to the past. The
chiefs and sirdars were invited to act in concert for the furtherance
of such an arrangement, and as the wording of the proclamation gave a
special invitation to the "well wishers of the descendants of Runjeet
Singh," the Lahore Durbar were made aware that the semblance and name
of a kingdom would not be taken from them.

Subsequently to Dhuleep Singh's visit at Lullianee, a second
proclamation was issued from our camp, giving notice that the Durbar
had acquiesced in all the terms, and that if no further opposition were
offered to the British arms, measures would be taken to re-establish
the descendants of Runjeet, and to protect the inhabitants.

The British army, continuing to advance in the same order as before,
came in sight of Lahore on the morning of the 20th of February, and
took up their encampment about three miles from the city, forming three
sides of a square, and occupying the parade ground and cantonments
recently held by the Aeen battalions.

The soldiers were strictly required not to stray from their lines or
visit the city, which at present was crowded with people of every
denomination, few of whom, it may be supposed, could feel very
favourably disposed towards their conquerors. The troops of Ghoolab
Singh were encamped near the walls, and held the most important
positions in the capital.

On the afternoon of our arrival, the secretary to government,
accompanied by a large military escort, under the directions of
Brigadier Cureton, proceeded to the palace with the young Maharajah.
Marching round the walls of the city, nearly suffocated with dust,
which rolled in dense columns and obscured the whole scene, we were
received and saluted by Ghoolab Singh's forces, drawn up on their
several posts around Lahore. Most of these were fine wiry looking
soldiers, and bore some resemblance in appearance to our Goorkha
battalions, though inferior in appointments, and evidently not half
disciplined. The gateway to the palace, then occupied by the Ranee,
opened from the north-western quarter of the city, and the escort
formed line fronting the citadel, whilst the governor-general's
representative and his party proceeded on their mission. On arriving at
the entrance, the political agent and a few officers proceeded to the
interior, and shortly afterwards a salute from the light guns announced
that the boy whom we had set up to be a king over the Sikhs had been
placed in the hands of his anxious mother, the Ranee, of drunken

The interview was not of long duration, much to our relief, as the
sombre walls which we were left to contemplate did not present a very
cheerful aspect, and the inhabitants of Lahore evinced no interest or
curiosity in the transactions.

The ceremonial being ended, we wound about the exterior of the city
towards our camp, thus completing the whole circuit of the walls, and
returned to our quarters about nightfall, after a tolerably fatiguing
day; but we had now become so well used to living in our saddles, that
it was rather a variety to pass the day anywhere else.

As the conclusion of the war now rested in the hands of the political
department, we were at length able to lie down at night, with some
hopes of not being trumpeted into our saddles before we had well fallen
asleep; and there were few soldiers of the British army who did not
take full advantage of this immunity, save the unfortunate members of
the standard guards and outlying pickets.

The remainder of the Sikh forces still continued encamped between the
river and Lahore, but an intimation was sent to them, that such as
chose to come into Lahore would receive payment of all arrears due
to them, and must then consider themselves as no longer required for
military service. The Irregular Cavalry hastened in crowds to take
advantage of this offer, but the regular battalions heard at first with
feelings of indignation that they were to be disbanded, and professed
their resolution to hazard another battle with the remaining thirty-six
cannon which had been saved from the wreck at Sobraon, owing to
their remaining on the opposite bank. The chiefs, Tej Singh and Lal
Singh, seeing the game was up, refused to lead the soldiers to action,
and having also assured the Sikh army that a great portion would be
re-enlisted for future service, and that those who were most ready to
accept the proffered terms would undoubtedly have the first choice in
re-enlistment, these arguments produced a salutary effect.

The surrender of all the cannon which had been used against the British
was at length reluctantly complied with, for the attachment of native
troops to their guns is proverbial throughout the East, and when this
point was carried, the complete dispersion of the regular battalions

The reluctance on the Sikh part to abandon their profession, must
appear an inexplicable matter to those who judge of soldiers'
attachment to their trade by its unpopularity amongst our countrymen;
but throughout the greater portion of Asia military zeal is a prevalent
feature, and in the Indian armies, dismissal from the service has
hitherto been deemed one of the gravest punishments which could be

The most surprising feature in this campaign was the readiness with
which the Sikhs rose after each defeat, fresh for another contest.
But with that nation war is one of the principles of religion, and as
the wily Mahomet led his daring soldiers to believe that they were
fighting their way to Paradise, so the presumptuous Sikh was taught
that his greatest moral obligation consisted in being a brave soldier.
To further this object, he was trained in early youth to the use of
his weapons, and learned to consider them as the most useful part of
his costume. Under this hardy regime they rose from a sect into a
formidable nation. In this instance they formed no exception to the
general rule amongst all nations, where military prowess has always
been a necessary condition in the scale of ascendancy.


[Footnote 55: Trained from childhood to the profession of arms, every
Sikh is by the tenets of his religion a soldier, not even excepting the
_priesthood_; nay, these church militants were the most intolerant and
unmanageable--the noisiest and worst soldiers in the army.]

[Footnote 56: Thirty-six pieces of cannon were all that could be
scraped together by the residue of the Sikh forces, and these were the
guns which had been used to man the batteries on the right bank.]

[Footnote 57: Presents offered at all amicable meetings with native

[Footnote 58: The Sikh chiefs expressed much anxiety that the army
should not advance to the capital; but this suggestion was sternly
refused, and they were informed that the Governor-general would sign no
treaty except under the walls of Lahore.]

[Footnote 59: Governor-general of India to the secret committee, letter
dated Feb. 19, 1846.]

[Footnote 60: This tract is a strongly defensible country overlooking
the principal cities.]

[Footnote 61: The pay of the soldier, as before stated, had been
greatly increased.]

[Footnote 62: The bull is sacred amongst the Sikhs, and their Mussulman
subjects were prohibited from tasting the holy flesh.]



The restrictions regarding officers visiting the city of Lahore being
removed, we hastened to take advantage of this liberty. The streets
and bazaars were so thronged with inhabitants, and the recently
disbanded soldiery, that it was exceedingly difficult to force a path
on horseback, and an elephant was found to be the most advantageous
mode of travelling. A brigade of our native infantry were cantoned
in the Badshahee mosque, a large, half-dismantled building, which
had stood the test of a good many pieces of artillery during the late
effervescences in Lahore. The walls which enclose it were speckled
with the prints of grape-shot and bullets, and the angry passions of
men had left their marks on every portion of the once sacred edifice.
The mosque afforded a strong military position, and Allah's mansion
promised a commodious quarter for Christian, Mahommedan, and Hindoo.

The gardens, amidst this general revolution, had not shared the same
fate, or had been more easily restored, for the flowers and shrubs were
flourishing and exhaling fragrance around, nourished, perhaps, by the
gory manure which had been lavishly spread on the parterres.

Adjoining these gardens, was the tomb of the old Lion of
Lahore--Runjeet Singh--as yet unfinished, but a humble monument to the
memory of such a chief. The Sikh nation, since Runjeet's death, had
been too busily employed in slaughtering each other to afford leisure
for national testimonies to the founder of their dynasty; but that
chieftain can dispense with monumental records to hand his name to
posterity. History will not neglect him.

Our engineers were actively employed in repairing the Badshahee mosque,
and in improving its defences, that it might become an eligible
situation for the garrison, which was destined to remain at Lahore for
the present, according to the articles of the treaty.

In other parts of the city, we found Lahore little altered from the
condition in which we left it on our return from Afghanistan in the
winter of 1839-40.

Very few European adventurers had withstood the late turbulency of the

A German, who had superintended the manufacture of gunpowder, a
Spaniard, who had planned the engineer's work at Sobraon, and a
Frenchman, (Mons. Mouton,) who had held a subordinate command in the
cavalry and artillery, formed the wreck of the European officers in the
Sikh service.

The inhabitants, having now so far regained their confidence as to
feel assured that the British had no intention of plundering the city,
reopened their shops, and our camp was daily crowded with itinerant
tradesmen, offering their wares for sale. The prices put on their goods
led to a supposition that the vendors entertained a high opinion of our
wealth and a low one of our knowledge of the value of their merchandize.

The Shalimar Gardens, about four miles from the city, formerly the
chosen scene of the Ranee's entertainments, were a favourite resort
for our leisure hours. The luxuriant shrubberies and flower-beds, with
marble aqueducts and fountains, rendered these gardens a delightful
retreat from the noonday sun, which was now becoming oppressive under
our canvas abodes on the plain.

During several interviews held with the Sikh Durbar, the terms of
arrangement with the Lahore chiefs were finally settled, which provided
for the fulfilment of all the clauses specified in the before-mentioned
treaty with Ghoolab Singh. That chief[63] was selected as prime
vizier, whilst the Ranee continued as regent during the minority of
Dhuleep Singh. A force of 10,000 British troops, under command of Sir
John Littler, were named to occupy Lahore,[64] and assist the Sikh
Durbar in the fulfilment of the measures which were deemed necessary
for the future government of the country.

The native army of Lahore were to be re-enlisted under a reduced
system of pay--viz., under the same footing as they enjoyed during the
lifetime of Runjeet Singh; and their establishment was never to exceed
twenty-five battalions, of eight hundred men to each battalion, with
12,000 cavalry.

The Sikh Durbar, being unable to raise at once the sum of one and
a half crore of rupees demanded as an indemnification for the war
undertaken by the British government, ceded in perpetual sovereignty,
as equivalent for one crore of rupees, (one million sterling,) all
interest in the territories lying in the hill districts, between the
Beeas and Indus, including the provinces of Cashmere and Hazarah.[65]

Fifty lacs (500,000_l._) were paid down before the ratification of the

If the British government should at any time wish to send troops
through the Punjaub, on notice being given, they are to be allowed to
pass through the Lahore territories. The Maharajah is never to retain
in his service any British subject, nor the subject of any European or
American state, without the consent of the British government being
previously obtained.

The Maharajah agreed to recognise the independent sovereignty of
Ghoolab Singh to such hill territories as were guaranteed to him by
the British government, and that Sirdar was to be admitted to the
privilege of a separate treaty with the British, in consideration of
the good services rendered by him in procuring peace.

The limits of the Lahore territories are not to be changed without the
British concurrence.

This treaty, consisting of sixteen articles, was signed by the
Maharajah and his ministers, and by the governor-general of India and
his secretaries, on the 9th of March, 1846.

The day following the signature of this treaty, on the governor-general
paying a visit to the Lahore court, a paper was read, conveying the
thanks of the Sikh Sirdars to his excellency for his generosity,
kindness, and mercy shown towards the Sikh nation, and for having
consented to leave a force for the maintenance of the Sikh government,
until a satisfactory settlement of affairs could be arranged, provided
that could be effected within twelve months.

In the separate treaty concluded with Ghoolab Singh, the British
government transferred, as an independent possession to that chief, all
the hill countries east of the Indus[66] and west of the Ravee.

In consideration of this transfer, Ghoolab Singh bound himself to
pay to the British Government a sum of seventy-five lacs of rupees,
(750,000_l._ sterling.)

Ghoolab Singh bound himself to refer any disputes between himself and
any other state to the arbitration of the British Government. Also to
join, with his whole force, the British troops, when employed within
the hills adjoining his possessions; and the British engaged to aid in
protecting the sirdar from external enemies.

Ghoolab Singh engaged to take no British subject, nor European, nor
American, into his service without the consent of the British; and, in
acknowledgment of the supremacy of the British Government, promised to
present, annually, a horse, twelve shawl goats, and three pairs of
Cashmere shawls.

This treaty was concluded at Umritsir, on the 16th of March, 1846.

Whilst these treaties were in progress, continual meetings between
the chiefs occurred, and it was a matter of much interest to view
the changed deportment which the _vis fortioris_ had inflicted on
the Sikh sirdars. Runjoor Singh, who had directed the operations at
Buddewal and Aliwal, requested a special introduction to his friend,
Sir Harry Smith; and Tej and Lal Singh, the commandants at Moodkee and
Ferozeshuhur, now converted into ministers of state, were most diffuse
in their expressions of friendship and gratitude towards the British

The coin which was brought for the payment of the fine inflicted,
proved pretty correctly that the vast treasures stored by Runjeet Singh
in the treasury of Govindghur, had been melted down into soldiers' pay,
and that the sirdars had been too lavish in their expenditure to retain
much ready money for the benefit of the commonwealth.

Russian, Persian, Chinese, and Afghan currencies, intermingled with
gold and silver jewellery, were scraped together to meet the exigencies
of the case, and the far-boasted wealth of the Punjaub appeared to have
evaporated during a two months' campaign.

Silver being the current coin throughout India, the counting out of
large sums occupied a very considerable time, and thus afforded leisure
to the Lahore Durbar to make exertions to raise the sums of money
demanded, which they had with much alacrity promised to pay, but which
they counted out with much difficulty and evident reluctance.

News having ere this reached the furthermost parts of the country
of the termination of the war, it became necessary to hasten the
reduction of the Sikh forces to the stipulated amount; and orders were
forwarded to the killedars of forts, and commandants of districts, to
take measures for effecting this purpose. Less difficulty than was
apprehended was experienced with the portions of the army which were
cantoned in distant parts of the country, and, with the exception of a
fortress of great strength, named Kote Kangra, in the hill districts,
none of the Sikh officers held out for any time against the British

The army of the Punjaub had been so heavily disabled at Sobraon, and
during each of the previous actions the loss in artillery had been so
considerable, that these circumstances could not be concealed from
their fellow-soldiers and countrymen, which tended to dishearten the
rest of the army for any further resistance.

The fanatic Akalees, so notorious in the military annals of Runjeet
Singh, and who had been exceedingly abusive formerly to such British
officers as had attended at reviews of the Sikh army, were scarcely
ever beheld during our late engagements, nor did I see a man wounded
by a quoit[67] during any of the battles. I was told by a Sikh officer
in Lahore, that this race of priest soldiery had been so active and
forward during the Lahore massacres of the few preceding years,
that the greater portion of them had met with the fate they so amply
deserved, and were nearly destroyed. If this be true, it is certainly
one of the chief benefits conferred on the Punjaub by their sanguinary

The fate of the Sikh sirdars, since Runjeet's death, has presented
also a tragical catalogue: thirty-five have been murdered, seven died
a natural death, eleven were killed in the late actions, twelve remain
living at Lahore.

Under the present reduced state of the Sikh army, it is not the least
probable that the nation can ever become again the formidable enemy
which they have lately been found.

In the first place, their military establishment being numerically
reduced to one-third of their late numbers, and the extent of the
country requiring these to be quartered far apart, a British force of
superior numbers could, in a few days, in case of an insurrection,
take post under the walls of Lahore. The reduction of an army must,
doubtless, impair the martial propensities of a nation, and when these
weakened battalions are under the surveillance of the keen-eyes of the
British agents, who must, henceforward, dwell in Lahore, we may reckon
almost as safely on information reaching us of any irregularities, as
we might in the native forces of India.

But, as I have before stated, the principal confidence of all Indian
armies is placed in their guns. As the greater part of these are in
our possession, and the Lahore arsenal cannot be as busily employed
now, without our knowledge and consent, as formerly, the scarcity of
cannon will be an obstacle, to which it ought not to be difficult to
add a scarcity of artillerymen, for the profession is a noisy one, and
therefore their practice is easily overheard, and without unremitting
attention and practice, artillery are not usually very formidable.

In Ghoolab Singh, the British Government ought to possess a tower of
strength, for they have made him a greater man than he ever was before;
and it must palpably be his interest to maintain amicable relations
with the British, having paid beforehand for his alliance in solid
rupees. The tribute of a few goats and shawls cannot be very irksome
to the governor of Cashmere, as the price of the guarantee for his
dominions; and not being himself a Sikh by parentage, and most of his
army being also aliens to the Punjaubees, there cannot be much danger
of a collusion between that chief and any Sikh sirdars who might desire
a change of administration.

The establishment of so powerful a chief as Ghoolab Singh as our ally,
on a line of hill territories bordering the whole Punjaub on the north,
has afforded a security sufficient to deter the Sikhs from any thoughts
of hostility, so long as the chief of Cashmere remains contented with
his principality, or unable to discover more powerful friends than the

I cannot for one moment do Ghoolab Singh the injustice of supposing,
that he would prefer the precarious sovereignty of the Punjaub to his
present secure and extensive government. The lesson which that sirdar
must have learned, when within a hair's breadth of being sacrificed
to a popular turmoil in Lahore, operated so favourably, that he
manifested the utmost desire to return to his mountains as soon as
practicable after the departure of the British authorities from the
Sikh capital. But should ambition whisper such a wild project in his
ear as to aim at the throne of Lahore, prudence would surely suggest
that the Sikh nation had recently experienced how much could be done
against the British with a chance of success.

The tract of country between the Beeas and the Sutlej, known as the
Jullundur Dooab[68] which was ceded to us in the first treaty arranged
by Ghoolab Singh at Kussoor, though _extending_ over territory, will,
on reference to the map, be seen to _contract_ the actual frontier line.

That frontier, uniting at the northern angle with the territories of
our ally, Ghoolab Singh, and overlooking, from a strongly defensible
country, the city of Umritsir and fort of Govindghur, has materially
altered our position relative to the Punjaub.

The new forts built as our outposts on that frontier will not, it is
to be devoutly hoped, be encumbered by large towns and cantonments; or,
if that be deemed indispensable, the area of the new fortresses should
be sufficiently extensive to admit all European inhabitants to take
refuge within their defences.

The part enacted during the late war by our old enemies, the Afghans,
has been a matter of surprise to many. The natural and religious
antipathy between the Afghans and Sikhs is a sufficient cause for a
want of co-operation at the outset, but the overthrow of the Feringhee
would have been a temptation which, if gilded with a fair chance
of success, must have overcome all minor prejudices. Situated at a
distance of five hundred miles from the scene of action, and the news
travelling at anything but a railroad pace over this long interval,
the Afghan chiefs learned of the Sikh invasion and the result of the
actions under so many shapes, that they were at a loss which to believe.

Akbar Khan, having assembled his forces, was hurrying in a state of
commotion towards the lower gorge of the Khyber pass, when the news
of the Sikh defeat at Sobraon reached him, which induced that chief
to refrain from any further proceedings. If any entertain a doubt as
to whether his real intentions were to co-operate with the British or
with the Sikhs, this last measure must amply explain them, for what
better opportunity could have presented itself to the mountain chief
for striking a blow at Peshawur than the period of paralyzation ensuing
after so many rapid and severe defeats of the Sikh forces?

Had matters befallen otherwise, there is little doubt that success
on the part of the Sikhs would have ensured the performance of the
promises of assistance sent by Akbar Khan to Lahore, and such a swarm
of Eastern warriors would have spread over our north-western provinces,
as had never been seen since the days of the victorious Nadir Shah.

Affairs being now in a train for settlement, it was no longer deemed
necessary to keep the whole army concentrated at Lahore. Two regiments
(the 16th Lancers and 31st Foot) were permitted to volunteer previously
to proceeding to Calcutta and embarking for England, and as, during
such occasions, liquor is freely administered, and discipline
necessarily relaxed, the camp afforded daily evidence of the prevailing
tastes of the English soldier.

It is a general opinion in the service, and I believe a correct one,
that soldiers who have served long in India are not the best material
for home employment. It does not at all surprise me, that men who have
been employed in storming batteries and overcoming armies, whose days
have been passed in marching under the fiery beams of an Eastern sun,
and whose nights have been spent in watchfulness through the chilling
damps of a January night in India, should not feel much relish for
resuming their recruit's skin. When a man has done the utmost which
the service requires of him, nay more, when his conduct has become the
theme of encomium, and he has enjoyed a private's full share of the
thanks of Parliament, he is not generally over well pleased when set
assiduously to work at battalion drill with a herd of recruits, to help
and make a new regiment. It is on this account, I think, that soldiers
who have served in India are not the best qualified for English duties,
and not because the habits they have contracted in the East have become
so inveterate that they are unable to shake them off. Yet, with this
conviction on my mind, it certainly was a painful sight to witness the
breaking up of a regiment, which must ensue under the volunteering
system. A man awakes on the morrow after his intoxication, and finds
that he had bound himself with hopeless fetters to exile. Another
presents himself as a willing offering for service in the East, which
he could hardly hope to see to an end, abandoning all ties of home
and kindred, and embracing with satisfaction, as his adopted country,
in lieu of old England, the land of the stranger and of the heathen.
How many an anxious mother, or orphan sister, has looked forward,
with eager expectation, for the return of a regiment to their native
country, and found that after all the perils of war had been overcome,
the blandishments of an Eastern bazaar had induced the expected son
or brother to abandon and forget the natural ties of kindred, and to
separate himself for ever from those who ought to have some hold on his

On the evening of the 3rd of March, previously to the breaking up of
the army, the three British cavalry regiments which had been engaged in
the late actions, assembled to dine together, when the extensive tables
spread under long rows of tents exhibited a motley array of uniforms,
and an equally varied collection of dinner-equipage, such as will
rarely be met with again. The number of black bottles would have been
startling to the advocates of plate and decanters; but on this occasion
they were all applied to their legitimate purposes. Formerly, the case
had been widely different; for many regiments, after the sorrows of
Buddewal, had devoted those unseemly flagons, not only to the service
of wine, but to the more urgent calls of illuminating the tables; and
Guinness's portly bottles had often stood in homely familiarity beside
their more slender and elegant claret brethren; both alas! degraded to
the vile purpose of supporting wax candles.

The next morning, the two regiments above-named quitted their
fellow-comrades to commence their roasting expedition towards Calcutta;
and a few days afterwards, the greater part of the army returned
towards their allotted cantonments in India, leaving Sir John Littler,
with ten thousand men, to form the garrison of Lahore.

The Governor-general, who had now been raised to the honour of a
peerage, proceeded by the sacred city of Umritsir towards his summer
abode in the Himalayah mountains; and the forces under Brigadier
Wheler, with some additional native corps, occupied the newly-ceded
territories in the Jullundur Dooab.

Amidst this general departure and dispersion of our forces, there
remained but one troublesome and refractory party, in the killedar,
or native governor of a fort, near the foot of the hills, called Kote
Kangra. Deaf to the orders from the Lahore Durbar, he resolutely
objected to surrender his command; and the fort was known to be so
strong, that it was found necessary to despatch additional troops, with
some guns of heavier metal, to reduce the place.

For upwards of three months, this obstinate killedar continued
to refuse possession of his fortress. After numerous parleys and
conferences, which were accorded with the humane intention of
preventing any further bloodshed on either side, a suitable train of
battering-guns reached the British camp, when, seeing that any further
resistance would be hopeless, the commandant of the fort surrendered to
the detested Feringees, marching out his garrison with the honours of

Thus ended the sanguinary struggles with an enemy who had caused the
British supremacy in India to quake to its foundations, and who had
so far profited by the often-repeated lessons taught them in European
tactics, that it is not surprising that clauses should be inserted in
the treaties to restrict such inconvenient knowledge for the future.
But, although the instruction may be discontinued, yet the information
gained, and the practical purposes to which it has been applied, cannot
be annihilated by treaties and proclamations. Few will now venture to
question the soundness of the maxim, that our Indian empire must be
maintained by the sword.

The practical comment on the late war has been a large reduction of
our native army, recently promulgated. If this be followed by an
augmentation of the European troops employed in the north-western
provinces, we may understand the economy, and applaud the policy, which
dictated such a measure; but if, with the extension of territory, a
reduction of the forces--which already had just sufficed to turn the
scale in our favour--should ensue, a second campaign on the Sutlej will
be likely to render the abolition of the Queen's and Company's forces
in India a probable result.

My tale of Eastern Wanderings, and of the campaigns in which it has
been my lot to bear a humble share, is told.

The subject of these pages has beguiled many a leisure hour in camp and
quarters. I hope I may not have retaliated unfavourably on such of my
readers as have been liberal enough to accompany me throughout my long

I have spoken freely on all subjects connected with military matters,
because I take the deepest interest in my profession, and feel
convinced that the trade of war cannot be better served than by a
minute and free investigation of all its details.

If, in the description of active operations, any errors of details
may be detected, let me be judged leniently; for the confusion of the
field of battle not only prevails at the moment, but its din will often
bewilder the mind of the eye-witness long after the cannon have ceased.

That it is not an easy matter to be accurate in such details, may be
inferred from the fact, that in the despatches of Sobraon, especial
thanks were given to a brigadier for his exertions in the field during
that day, when the innocent hero of the despatch was fast asleep
on a sick bed at Ferozepore. Such is the fortune of war, that the
feather-bed is often more prolific of honour than the path of thorns,
and "the bubble reputation sought in the cannon's mouth."

Now that the scene of active operations has closed, I cannot flatter
myself that the author of these volumes can have excited sufficient
interest in his movements to be followed any further in his pilgrimage.
Therefore, on the sun-burnt plains of Lahore we will part; and we
cannot do so under more favourable terms than those emphatically
recommended by the eccentric Terence--

 "Vos valete et plaudite."


[Footnote 63: Rajah Lal Singh was afterwards made vizier, but recently
deposed for treachery.]

[Footnote 64: These troops to be withdrawn as soon as affairs have
been satisfactorily settled.--Government notification, Camp, Umritsir,
March 16th. Within the last few months, the Sikh government, feeling
themselves still inadequate to continue the government unassisted,
petitioned that the British force might for the present be retained at
Lahore, which was agreed to, the Lahore government paying for their

[Footnote 65: Treaty between the British government and the court of
Lahore, Nov. 4.--Government notification.]

[Footnote 66: This includes the whole of Cashmere, and other smaller
tracts, in addition to the lands formerly held by Ghoolab Singh.]

[Footnote 67: The favourite weapon of the Akalees.]

[Footnote 68: Dooab (two rivers) is a term applied to any tract of land
lying between two rivers.]

T.C. Savill. Printer, 4, Chandos Street, Covent Garden.

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