The existence of British territory in India, side by side with territory under British protection and States wholly under native rule, was a condition of things neither conducive to peace nor likely to be of a permanent nature. A single spark dropped among the warlike races inhabiting that vast peninsula was often enough to cause wide-spreading conflagration; and, however agreeable it might be to British consciences, it would be unphilosophic in the highest degree to attribute the blame for such outbreaks exclusively to the native rulers and people. Trouble broke out early in 1843 which led to the annexation by the British of Scinde, a fine territory lying between the Indian Ocean and the Cutch on the south, and southern Afghanistan and the Punjab on the north. Scinde had been divided into three provinces—Hyderabad, Khyrpore, and Meerpore—each ruled by a group of Ameers or hereditary chiefs, descended from Beloochee conquerors, who, it was said, most cruelly oppressed the people under them. Successive treaties had been effected with these rulers by the Indian Government, but the disaster which fell on the British arms in Cabul seems to have encouraged them to withhold some of the tribute due by them under the latest treaty, and they began warlike preparations. In 1842 Lord Ellenborough appointed Sir Charles Napier Commander-in-Chief of the British troops in Scinde, with instructions to inflict signal punishment on any chiefs detected in treachery, at the same time empowering him to make a fresh treaty, relieving the Ameers from the payment of any subsidy for the support of British troops This treaty was at length signed, though it must be confessed that the Ameers were only induced to consent to it by the threatening display of Napier's force. On February 15, 1843, the British Residency at Hyderabad was attacked by 8,000 troops with six guns, led by one or more of the Ameers, and the garrison of 100 men under Major Outram was driven out after a gallant resistance.

Napier marched to Muttaree the following day with a force of 3,000, attacked the Ameers, who had an army of 22,000 Beloochees, on the morning of the 17th at Meeanee, six miles from Hyderabad, defeated them, and captured their whole artillery, ammunition, baggage, and considerable treasure. The British loss amounted to 256 killed and wounded. Hyderabad was occupied, but the Ameer of Meerpore was still under arms, holding a strong position at Dubba, about four miles from Hyderabad, with 20,000 men. Napier attacked him, and a battle lasting for three hours ended in the complete defeat of Shere Mahomed and the occupation of Meerpore by the British. Sir Charles Napier continued warlike operations at intervals against the hill tribes north of Shikarpore, and there can be but one opinion of the masterly way in which he handled the troops under his command. But the policy of the Governor-General was open to some difference of opinion. He had carried things with a high hand in dealing with the Ameers, and early in 1844 he was recalled by the unanimous vote of the Court of Directors of the East India Company, and Sir Henry Hardinge was appointed in his place.


Hardinge applied himself to the peaceful preparation of railroad schemes for the development of India, but at the close of 1845 events again forced the Government forward on the path of fresh conquest. At that time the Punjab, a kingdom consisting both of independent Sikh States and those under British protection, was under nominal rule of the boy-king, Dhuleep Singh, and his mother, the Ranee; but his government at Lahore was distracted by faction and lay at the mercy of his own powerful army. In December 1845, the Sikh forces, for some reason which has never been clearly explained, began massing on the British frontier, and crossed the Sutlej, 15,000 or 20,000 strong, on the 13th. Sir Hugh Gough advanced by forced marches to meet them, attacked them at Moodkee and defeated them, capturing seventeen guns. The Sikhs retired to a strongly-entrenched camp at Ferozeshah, whither Gough, reinforced by Sir John Littler's division from Ferozepore, followed them on the 21st. The Sikh army was now upwards of. 50,000 strong, with 108 heavy guns in fixed batteries. The British force consisted of 16,70o men and sixty-nine guns, chiefly horse artillery. There ensued one of the severest conflicts in the history of our Indian Empire. Beginning on the 21st it lasted through part of the 22nd, and ended in the gallant Sikhs being driven across the Sutlej with the loss of many killed and wounded, and no less than seventy guns. The Governor-General, Sir Henry Hardinge, acted as a volunteer, second in command to Sir Hugh Gough, in this memorable action.

Early in January 1846, Sirdar Runjoor Singh, again advancing towards the 'frontier, took up a strong position on the British side of the Sutlej, threatening Gough's line of communications with Loodiana. Major-General Sir Harry Smith attacked him at Aliwal on January 28, and, notwithstanding the great superiority in numbers of the enemy, obtained a brilliant victory over the Sikhs, capturing their camp and fifty-two guns. But more fighting had to be done before the army of the Punjab could be finally subdued. The Sikhs still lay at Sobraon with 30,000 of their best troops, defended by a triple line of breast works, flanked by redoubts, and armed with seventy guns. Here Sir Hugh Gough attacked them on the morning of February 10, the Governor-General again being present as second in command. At nine o'clock, after an hour's cannonade, Brigadier Stacey advanced to storm the entrenchments with four battalions, which behaved with splendid gallantry under a very heavy and well-directed fire. They stormed the position, and, being well supported, forced their way into the fortress. By eleven o'clock all was over. The Sikhs were in full flight across the Sutlej, leaving behind them piles of dead and wounded, sixty - seven guns, 200 camel swivels, and all their baggage and ammunition. The British loss consisted of 320 killed, including seventeen officers (among whom were Major-General Sir Robert Dick, General McLaren, and Brigadier Taylor), and 2,063 wounded, including 139 officers. But the carnage among the Sikhs was far more terrible. It is supposed that not less than eight or ten thousand of them perished in action or were drowned in crossing the river under the fire of the British artillery. On February 22 Gough occupied the citadel of Lahore ; the Governor-General issued a proclamation from that place, and a treaty was subsequently concluded establishing Dhuleep Singh as Maharajah, tributary to the British Government.


THE BATTLE OF SOBRAON, February so, 0846.

This illustration is reproduced from a popular, but somewhat quaint, coloured print representing the 3rd Regiment, with Major-General Sir Henry Smith's division, in action at Sobraon. It forms an instructive contrast with the military prints of the present day.


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