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First Sikh War

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Bit of a nasty ol' business the First Sikh War. The whole thing started when the Sikhs, (quite rightly) a suspicious lot, got paranoid about being invaded by those dastardly Breetish pigdogs. This paranoia was a consequence of them not allowing passage of the British Army through their territory in the Punjab during the First Afghan War (1838-42). A pre-emptive strike (in today's terms) was decided upon, and the Sikh army crossed the River Sutlej in December of 1845. Bad move!

Four horrendous battles ensued, kicking off at Moodkee on the 18th December to the cost of 2,400 British casualties. This was followed by the two-day event at Ferozeshah three days later on 21st & 22nd. This was the first major arrse-kicking of the campaign, with 18,000 British (under General 'Frontal Attack' Gough) giving the ol' Sikhs (under Lal Singh - and all 35,000 of 'em) rooty toot at the point of the bayonet - a close run thing that nearly ended in disaster.

Things weren't helped by the fact that the Sikhs were not only trained in modern European fighting techniques, but were well 'ard anyhow. A sleepless night later, and a drubbing after brekkie (of course), sorted Johnny Foreigner out for good... well as far as that particular battle was concerned anyway. The score? 8,000 - 2,400. Another (costly) win for the Brits.

Next on the menu was Aliwal on the 28th January the following month (immortalised by the charge of the 16th Lancers) - a less costly affair thankfully (for the British at least), but all was not over just yet. The final ding dong was at Sobraon on the 10th February - the Sikhs losing around 10,000 men to the British tally of 3,200 casualties on that particular day. Mind you, more than a few Sikhs drowned when their pontoon bridge over the Sutlej collapsed due to the sheer numbers trying to flee the ensuing rout. A grim ol' day indeed.

And that was pretty much it really. 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 and it was cricket & Pimms all the way.

Sets the scene for Round Two - Second Sikh War.