Sikh Wars

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Sikh Wars

Sikh Wars (1845–49), two conflicts preceding the British annexation of the Punjab. By a treaty with the British in 1809, the Sikh ruler of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh, had accepted the Sutlej River as the southern boundary of his domain. After his death (1839) the Punjab fell into a state of disorder in which a succession of rulers were rapidly overthrown by the army. In 1845 the regent, Jhindan, who was both fearful of British intentions and anxious to distract the Sikh army, sent troops across the Sutlej (Dec. 11). The British, under Sir Hugh (later Viscount) Gouge, Sir Harry Smith, and others, won several preliminary victories and then decisively defeated the Sikhs at Aliwal (Jan. 28, 1846) and Sobraon (Feb. 10). They occupied Lahore on Feb. 20. By the Treaty of Lahore (Mar., 1846), the Sikhs were forced to cede Kashmir and to pay an indemnity of 55 million rupees. The British established a protectorate, which was resented. In Apr., 1848, a riot occurred, in which two British officers were killed. There was a general uprising, followed by a second war. A costly (for the British) battle at Chilianwalla (Jan. 13, 1849) was indecisive, but the British completely routed the Sikhs at Gujrat (Feb. 21). The Sikhs surrendered on Mar. 12. Lord Dalhousie, the governor-general, annexed all the Sikh territory on Mar. 30.


See B. J. Hasrat, Anglo-Sikh Relations, 1799–1849 (1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sikh Wars


(in Russian, Anglo-Sikh Wars), predatory wars of the English East India Company in 1845–46 and 1848–49 against the Sikh state in Punjab (India). After provoking a border conflict, the British forced the Sikhs to begin military activities in December 1845.

In the first Sikh War the Sikhs were sucessful in battles at Mudki (December 18) and Firozpur (December 21), but they suffered a defeat at the battle at Sobraon on Feb. 10, 1846. After the first Sikh War, the colonialists maintained something like an independent government. However, the Sikhs were forced to surrender the region of Jullundur to the East India Company and Kashmir to the company ally Gulab Singh, raja of Jammu; they also had to agree to accept an English resident at Lahore. The East India Company decreased the number of Punjab troops, placed the state’s taxation department under its control, and took other such steps. This produced an anti-English uprising in the Sikh army in April 1848. Under pretext of struggling against mutineers, the East India Company began the second Sikh War in November 1848. At the end of January 1849 it managed to seize Multan. On February 21 in the battle at Gujarat the Sikh forces were decisively smashed, after which the East India Company annexed Punjab.


Semenova, N. I. Gosudarstvo sikkhov. Moscow, 1958.
Kochnev, V. I. Gosudarstvo sikkhov i Angliia. Moscow, 1968.
Panjab on the Eve of the First Sikh War. Hoshiarpur, 1956.
Gough, C., and A. Innes. The Sikhs and the Sikh Wars. . . . London, 1897.
Singh, Ganda. The British Occupation of the Panjab. Amritsar-Patiala, 1955.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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