Battle of Aliwal

Battle of Aliwal

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Aliwal

partof=First Anglo-Sikh War
date=January 28 1846
place=near the Sutlej river
result=British victory
combatant2=Sikh Khalsa Army
commander1=Sir Harry Smith
commander2=Runjodh Singh Majithia
32 guns
69 guns
casualties1=850 c.
67 guns|

The Battle of Aliwal was fought on January 28, 1846 between the British and the Sikhs. The British were led by Sir Harry Smith, while the Sikhs were led by Ranjodh Singh Majithia. The British won a victory which is sometimes regarded as the turning point of the First Anglo-Sikh War.


The First Anglo-Sikh War began six years after the death of Ranjit Singh, the Sikh Ruler of the Punjab. The Punjab became increasingly disordered, while the British increased their military forces on their border with the Punjab. Eventually, the increasingly turbulent Khalsa, the army of the Sikh kingdom, was goaded into crossing the Sutlej River and invading British territory, under leaders who were distrustful of their own troops.

On December 21 and December 22, 1845, the British army under Sir Hugh Gough and the Governor-General of Bengal, Sir Henry Hardinge, fought the bloody Battle of Ferozeshah. The Sikh armies under Vizier Lal Singh and Tej Singh eventually retreated. Hostilities temporarily ceased. The British army was shaken by its heavy losses. Hardinge sought to relieve Gough of his command, blaming his tactics for the heavy casualties.

The Sikhs were temporarily disheartened by the retreats ordered by their commanders. However, they were reinforced by troops who had not yet seen action, and moved back across the Sutlej to occupy a bridgehead at Sobraon, while, a detachment under Runjodh Singh Majithia (sometimes transcribed as Runjoor Singh), with 7,000 men and 20 guns, crossed higher up the Sutlej to besiege the British-held fortress of Ludhiana and menace Gough's and Hardinge's supply lines. The British commanders detached a division under Sir Harry Smith to clear this threat to their rear.


On January 16, 1846, Smith recovered two outposts which the Sikhs had seized at Fategarh and Dharmkot. Although Runjodh Singh's irregular cavalry had raided over a wide area and set fire to part of the British cantonments at Ludhiana, his main body was advancing only slowly on Ludhiana.

Harry Smith first intended to attack Runjodh Singh's army at Buddowal. However, on learning of the Sikh strength, and receiving further orders from Gough, he instead force-marched his troops via Jagraon, collecting a British regiment there, to reach Ludhiana ahead of the Sikh main body. On January 21, as he left Buddowal, the Sikh irregular cavalry (the "Gorchurras") continually attacked his rearguards. They captured most of Smith's baggage animals (mules, bullocks and elephants), and cut down any straggling troops. Nevertheless, Smith succeeded in reaching Ludhiana, with his troops exhausted. A brigade of troops from Delhi, including two Gurkha battalions, reinforced him.

After resting his troops, Smith once again advanced to Buddowal. The Sikhs had withdrawn to Aliwal on the Sutlej, awaiting reinforcements. On January 28, Smith advanced against them, cautiously at first.


The Sikhs had occupied a position four miles (6 km) long, which ran along a ridge between the villages of Aliwal, on the Sutlej, and Bhundri. The Sutlej ran close to their rear for the entire length of their line, making it difficult for them to manoevre and also potentially disastrous if they were forced to retreat.

After the initial artillery salvoes, Smith determined that Aliwal was the Sikh weak point. He sent two of his four infantry brigades to capture the village, from where they could enfilade the Sikh centre. They seized the village, and began pressing forwards to threaten the fords across the Sutlej.

As the Sikhs tried to swing back their left, pivoting on Bhundri, some of their cavalry tried to threaten the open British left flank. A British and Indian cavalry brigade, led by the 16th Lancers, charged and dispersed them. The 16th Lancers then attacked a large body of Sikh infantry. These were battalions organised and trained in contemporary European fashion by Neapolitan mercenary, Paolo Di Avitabile. They formed square to receive cavalry, as most European armies did. Nevertheless, the 16th Lancers broke them, with heavy casualties.

The infantry in the Sikh centre tried to defend a "nullah" (dry stream bed), but were enfiladed and forced into the open by a Bengal infantry regiment, and then cut down by fire from Smith's batteries of Bengal Horse Artillery.

Unlike most of the battles of both Anglo-Sikh Wars, when the Sikhs at Aliwal began to retreat, the retreat quickly turned into a disorderly rout across the fords. Most of the Sikh guns were abandoned, either on the river bank or in the fords, along with all baggage, tents and supplies. They lost 2,000 men and 67 guns.


Smith wrote afterwards:

Except for the 16th Lancers, who lost 144 men out of about 300, few of Smith's units had heavy casualties. Before the battle, it had been claimed that the Bengal Infantry regiments of the East India Company's army had been nervous and hesitant to attack the feared Sikhs, afterwards, they were eager to do so.


* Ian Hernon, "Britain's forgotten wars", Sutton Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0-7509-3162-0
* Byron Farwell, "Queen Victoria's little wars", Wordsworth Military Library, 1999, ISBN 1-84022-216-6

External links

* [ Sikh account of the battle]
* []

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Aliwal North — Aliwal Noord   Town   Entering Aliwal North from the west on the R58 …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Chillianwala — Part of Second Anglo Sikh War …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Sobraon — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of Sobraon caption= partof=First Anglo Sikh War date=February 10, 1846 place=Sobraon, Punjab result=Decisive British victory combatant1=Sikh Khalsa combatant2=British East India Company commander1=Tej… …   Wikipedia

  • Aliwal, Battle of — (1846)    A decisive British victory in the First Sikh War. The British and the Sikhs met at an open field near the village of Aliwal on the south bank of the Sutlej River on January 28, 1846. Although on the losing side at Ferozeshah, most in… …   Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914

  • Sir Harry Smith, 1st Baronet — Infobox Military Person name=Sir Harry Smith, 1st Baronet lived=1787 1860 caption= nickname= placeofbirth=Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire placeofdeath=London allegiance=flagicon|United Kingdom United Kingdom branch= serviceyears=1805 rank=Lieutenant… …   Wikipedia

  • 1 Gorkha Rifles — Infobox Military Unit unit name= 1 Gorkha Rifles caption=Regimental Insignia of the 1GR dates= 1815 Present country= India allegiance= branch= Army type= Rifles role=Light Role size=5 Battalions command structure= garrison=Subathu, Himachal… …   Wikipedia

  • 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) — The 2nd King Edward VII s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) was a regiment of the British Indian Army before being transferred to the British Army on India s independence. The 4th Battalion joined the Indian Army as the 5th Battalion the 8th …   Wikipedia

  • Mossel Bay —   Town   Mossel Bay …   Wikipedia

  • First Anglo-Sikh War — The First Anglo Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company between 1845 and 1846. It resulted in partial subjugation of the Sikh kingdom.Background and causes of the warThe Sikh kingdom of Punjab was expanded… …   Wikipedia

  • List of battles 1801–1900 — List of battles: before 601 601 1400 1401 1800 1801 1900 1901 2000 2001 current See also: Battles of the American Civil War 19th century 1801 to 1825* 1801 ** Battle of Aboukir March 20 British Turkish army under Sir Ralph Abernathy defeats… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”