(Last Updated on : 24/02/2015)
Battle of Aliwal was a historical battle fought between the Sikh army and the British army. It was fought on 28th of January, 1846. During the battle of Aliwal, the Sikh forces were led by Ranjodh Singh Majithia while the British forces were led by Sir Harry Smith. This battle was won by the British forces. Punjab became highly disordered after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The English forces were awaiting more reinforcements which were on the way from the south. General Smith was, therefore, sent to cover the approach of the force. Meanwhile Sardar Ranjodh Singh, with about 8,000 irregular cavalry and seventy guns, had crossed Sutlej River
and occupied Baddowal and threatened Ludhiana.
Advancement of Sikh and British Forces in Battle of Aliwal
While General Smith was advancing with the intention of affecting a junction with the Ludhiana
brigade Ranjodh Singh made another bold move. He marched parallel to the English force and captured nearly the whole of its baggage without so much of a fight on January 22, 1846. By the time the English returned to give battle with a force of 11,000 men and horses, the Sikhs had taken up positions with Aliwal on their left and village Bhundri on their right. Their forces now numbered 12,000. They had been recently reinforced with another 4,000 men and twelve guns. Their positions were in the form of a semi-circle with all the guns, howitzers and mortars in front.
The battle of Aliwal began late in the morning of 28th January with the Sikhs opening fire from their guns. General Smith pressed the left flank of the Sikhs resting on Aliwal. This portion was held by comparatively untrained troops. The Khalsa
regiments on the other side stood their ground in a most befitting manner. The battle lasted till the evening and the Sikhs were forced to retire across the Sutlej with the loss of sixty-seven guns and heavy casualties in men and material. The main condition which the English had desired was the disbandment of the Sikh army. They all knew that the Khalsa army was still very powerful, in spite of the recent defeats. The Sikh leaders did not have the power to enforce their decisions on the army. The main Sikh army which had already crossed over to the south of the Sutlej built up defences at Sobraon and strengthened them. The soldiers and subordinate commanders did everything while the generals allowed things to take their own course. However, the defences were not properly organised and were faulty at many a place. The total Sikh force on this side of the river was 20,000 strong under the command of General Tej Singh. Further, morale of the Sikhs
was also low. Thus, after a tough fight the British army had a victory.