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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

January 13th, 1849 - The Battle of Chilianwala

Conflict: Second Sikh War

Combatants: Anglo-Indians v. Sikhs

Location: India

Outcome: British Victory


Still seething from the loss to the British in the First Sikh War (1845-1846), Sikhs in the Punjab rose in revolt in April of 1848. Although, the local government initially sought to help put down the rebellion, they soon joined their countrymen against the British.


Battle of Chillianwala by Charles Becher Young

In November of 1848, an Anglo-Indian army of 15,000 soldiers under the command of Sir Hugh Gough crossed the Sutlej River into the Punjab. Sher Singh, commanding an army twice the size of the British forces, marched to meet the invaders. After a failed attempt to charge the Sikhs at the Chenab River, Gough took his army up the river and pressed into the West Punjab.


Battle of Chillianwallah. Charge of H M 24th Regiment through jungle and water, 13 January 1849 by E. Walker from a drawing by Lieutenant J.H. Archer

On January 13th of 1849, the Anglo-British army met the Sikh army, now some 40,000 strong, at the village of Chilianwala. Hugh's soldiers assaulted the entrenchments, inflicting 8,000 casualties and forced the Sikhs to withdraw. The Anglo-Indians, however, had suffered 2,800 killed and wounded and could not press their advantage without reinforcements.


Points of Interest:

  • When word of the losses at Chilianwala reached England, orders were issued for British commander Sir Henry Gough to step down. Gough, however, won a great victory at Gujrat before receiving the orders. He was made a viscount and would later be promoted to field marshal.

  • Gough never lost a major battle and his demonstrated concern for his troops inspired great loyalty.


Sikh soldiers at the time of the Second Sikh War by an unknown artist

Viscount Gough by Francis Grant.jpg

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Sources:


Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).


Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.


Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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