1st Sikh War

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1st Sikh War
Chronological list of Wars and Campaigns
Punjab district map.jpg
Location: Punjab
East India Company Sikh Empire
Result: British victory
Sutlej Medal
Clasps: Moodkee, Ferozeshuhur, Aliwal, Sobraon
Category: 1st Sikh War
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
1st Sikh War
locations and routes on Google Maps

The 1st Sikh War, also called the First Anglo-Sikh War or the Sutlej Campaign.


After the death of Ranjit Singh in 1839, there was a period of internal strife as the succession to Sikh leadership was contested. Sikh forces were increased as were those of the British in the newly acquired territory adjoining the Punjab. Tension built up with demand and counter-demand until the British moved forces toward Firozpur and the Sikh Khalsa crossed the Sutlej. Four major actions were fought and all were won by the British. Large areas of territory were ceded to the British and a British Resident placed in Lahore effectively controlled the Sikh government.

Related articles

For details of events during this campaign see the following articles

16 December 1845 Battle of Wadni Fort
18 December 1845 Battle of Moodkee
21 December 1845 Battle of Ferozeshah
17 January 1846 Surrender of Dharmkot Fort
21 January 1846 Occupation of Badhowal Fort
28 January 1846 Battle of Aliwal
10 February 1846 Battle of Sobraon
17 February 1846 Occupation of Phillour
28 May 1846 Battle of Kangrah


Entries in the Dictionary of Indian Biography 1906
Walter Gilbert (1785-1853)
Hugh Gough (1779-1869)
Henry Hardinge (1785-1856)
John McCaskill (17??-1845)
Robert Sale (1782-1845)
Dulip Singh (1837-1893)
Ranjit Singh (1780-1839)
Harry Smith (1787-1860)
Joseph Thackwell (1781-1859)
Hugh Wheeler (1789-1857)

Other biographies
Tej Singh Sikhiwiki

The Army of the Sutlej

Units at the first engagement at Moodkee. See other actions for forces on those occasions.
Commanding in Chief: Maj-Gen Sir Hugh Gough
Second in Command: Maj-Gen Sir Henry Hardinge, Governor General of Bengal

Cavalry Division
Major General Sir Joseph Thackwell

  • Brigadier Mactier’s Brigade
  • Brigadier Gough’s Brigade
  • Brigadier White’s Brigade

1st Infantry Division
Maj-Gen Sir Harry Smith

  • 1st Brigade: Brigadier Bolton

2nd Infantry Division
Major General Walter Gilbert

  • 1st Brigade
  • 2nd Brigade

3rd Infantry Division
Major General Sir John McCaskill

  • 1st Brigade


  • 5 troops of Horse Artillery
  • 2 batteries of light Field Artillery

Sikh Khalsa Army

The Sikh army created by Ranjit Singh was a formidable fighting force trained by European instructors to fight and drill in the Western manner. They were thought (especially the artillery) to be the equal of the Company's troops. At the outbreak of the 1st Sikh War the army's strength was 45,000 infantry, 26,000 cavalry and 376 guns.

FIBIS resources

  • Video: The First Anglo-Sikh War by Amarpal Sidhu, author of the book of that name. Talk given at the FIBIS AGM and Open Lecture Meeting on 26 October 2013. Video available to logged in FIBIS members in the FIBIS Social Network
  • "Captain Hunter: researching a memorial in Durham Cathedral" by Geoffrey Fox FIBIS Journal Number 31 (Spring 2014) pages 36-48. For access, see FIBIS Journals. Captain Hunter of the 73rd Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry was killed in action 21 December 1845 at the Battle of Ferozeshah


Also see Medals and Medal Rolls


  • N. W. Bancroft of the Bengal Horse Artillery published his memoirs in 1885, "telling of the campaigns of his career. He gives particular emphasis on the Sikh wars that culminated in the three Sutlej battles, which he describes in gory detail. His account of the actions of the artillery in the Sikh battles match with accuracy to the official accounts, giving a reliable illustration of the tactics of that time. Bancroft gives a tactile description of the sights and sounds of the battlefield, as they were seen and heard from the men on the ground". For more details see, Bengal Horse Artillery.

External Links

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1st Sikh War Sikhs

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