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Stats: Britain Sikh War 1845-1846


pritam
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State---Entry---Exit---Combat Forces---Population---Losses

Britain--1845---1846------20000---------26000000---4000

Sikhs---1845---1846------100000--------4000000----10000

The first war was precipitated by mutual suspicions and the turbulence of the Sikh army. The Sikh state in the Punjab had been built into a formidable power by the maharaja Ranjit Singh, who ruled from 1801 to 1839. Within six years of his death, however, the government had broken down in a series of palace revolutions and assassinations. By 1843 the ruler was a boy, the youngest son of Ranjit Singh, whose mother was proclaimed queen regent. Actual power, however, resided with the army, which was itself in the hands of "punches," or military committees. Relations with the British had already been strained by the refusal of the Sikhs to allow the passage of British troops through their territory during the First Anglo-Afghan War (1838-42). Having determined to invade British India under the pretext of forestalling a British attack, the Sikhs crossed the Sutlej River in December 1845. They were defeated in the four bloody and hard-fought battles of Mudki, Firoz Shah (Firozpur), Aliwal, and Sobraon. The British annexed Sikh lands east of the Sutlej and between it and the Beas River; Kashmir and Jammu were detached and the Sikh army was limited to 20,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry. A British resident was stationed in Lahore with British troops.

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Battle of Firoz Shah (Dec. 21-22, 1845), conflict between the Sikhs and the British at Firoz Shah, in the Punjab, northern India. It was the first of two decisive battles in the First Sikh War, 1845-46. A British force of about 18,000 men under Sir Hugh Gough attacked a Sikh army of 35,000 under Lal Singh in late afternoon. After a near repulse and a night of peril, the British achieved victory in the morning at a cost of about 2,400 casualties compared to about 8,000 Sikh casualties. Gough was criticized for his costly frontal attacks but went on to win final victory of the war at Sobraon on Feb. 10, 1846.

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Battle of Sobraon (Feb. 10, 1846), the fourth, last, and decisive battle of the First Sikh War (1845-46). The Sikhs were entrenched on the eastern British-held bank of the Sutlej River, their retreat secured by a bridge of boats. After an intense artillery duel, the Sikh entrenchments were stormed. The collapse of the bridge of boats turned the retreat into a rout; more than 10,000 Sikhs were killed trying to cross the river.

The British also suffered severely, with 2,383 killed or wounded. Further resistance was impossible, and the Sikh state in northwestern India came under British domination.

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