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The Battle of Mudki- Anglo Sikh War

December 04, 2011  by: Madan G Singh  Points: 15   Category: Others    Views: 517

The Battle of Mudki was the opening battle of the first Anglo Sikh warin 1845 and was almost won by the Sikhs.

         

The Anglo Sikh wars are a part of history. In these wars the British faced a determined Khalsa Fauj (Army) in battle after the demise of Maharajah Ranjit Singh. The rulers at Lahore who succeeded Ranjeet Singh, did not have his caliber and fortitude and allowed the state to drift. They also thought it a good idea to attack the English, to keep the Khalsa Army occupied.

With this in view they authorized the Sikh Army to cross the Sutlej in a headlong confrontation with the English. Ranjit had signed a treaty with the British that forbade him to cross the Sutlej River, but this was broken. The English were however getting ready for the conflict and they had spies in the Lahore Durbar, with even the Prime Minister, the grandfather of the present Kashmir ruler( Now deposed) Karan Singh being in league with them and plotting the defeat of the Sikh Army. This service was in return for him to be made the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir.

On that fateful day the Sikh army crossed the Sutlej, near Ferozepur and mounted an attack on the English army. At the same time the Sikh gunners opened fire with their guns. Smoke and shot filled the air as the Sikh gunners, trained by French Generals gave a good account of themselves in the battle.

It must be mentioned that Ranjit Singh during his reign had hired foreign European advisors to help train his army. In particular his artillery was got ready with great care. This training paid of in the battle and the Sikhs surprised the English.

It is recorded by Cunningham and Metcalfe, the historians of that period that the Sikhs gave a commendable account of themselves in the battle. The English in all their campaigns had never met a more determined foe and they were in awe at the Sikh assault.

But the Sikh general Labh Singh did not wish the Sikhs to win as he was in league with the English. This is a sad commentary on the conduct of the battle as Labh Singh at a crucial time of the battle ran away. At that time the Sikh Army was readying itself for an assault on the British lines which were in disarray. The desertion of the Sikh general had a deleterious effect and the Army became rudderless and confused.

Sensing their chance the British counter attacked and held the Sikh advance. But they still could not dislodge the Sikhs and the fighting was heavy. By about 3 pm both sides disengaged with heavy causalities on both sides.

Both the British and the Sikhs claimed victory, but in real terms the battle was a draw, but the Sikhs had missed a golden chance to defeat the English, which never came later.

The battle is important as it was the opening battle of the First Anglo- Sikh war and revealed to the English the fighting qualities of the Sikh soldiery. It is recorded that this was the toughest battle that the English fought against any Indian army.

The battle is to be remembered as a tribute to Sikh courage as they fought and won the respect of the English though their Commander in Chief had deserted them.




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