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 the Sikh army blamed that defeat on the leadership and felt confident that they were superior to the British army. The Sikh army of about 13,000 had its back to the Sutlej, while the British army of 10,000, led by General Sir Harry Smith, marched down from a ridge to attack. The Sikhs fired from 700 yards. From the ridge, Smith could see the Sikh weakness and ordered the village of Aliwal, on the Sikh left flank, to be taken. The Sikhs formed squares but these were broken. Fighting was vicious. The Sikhs sought cover behind the banks of the Sutlej but were dispersed by artillery fire and a battalion of sepoys . It was a complete route for the British, who suffered only 500 casualties to the Sikhs’ 3,000. The loss of men and material was high, but what was perhaps more devastating to the Sikh army was the loss of morale as a result of the defeat.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Bruce, George. Six Battles for India: The Anglo-Sikh Wars, 1845-6, 1848-9. London: Arthur Barker, 1969;
    Cook, Hugh. The Sikh Wars: The British Army in the Punjab, 1845-1849. London: Leo Cooper, 1975;
    Crawford, E. R. “The Sikh Wars, 1845–9.” In Brian Bond, ed. Victorian Military Campaigns. New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, 1967;
    Farwell, Byron. Queen Victorias Little Wars. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1972.
   DAVID TURPIE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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