Battle of Goojerat
The final battle of the
Sikh Wars, in which Gough’s Army
of the Punjab methodically destroyed the last Sikh army.
War: Second Sikh War.
Date: 21st February 1849.
Place: In the Punjab in the North West of India.
Combatants: British troops and Indian troops of the Bengal
and Bombay Presidencies against Sikhs of the Khalsa, the army of the
Punjab with their Afghan allies.
Bengal Horse Artillery
Generals: Major General Sir Hugh Gough against the Sikh
general, Shere Singh.
Size of the armies: 24,000 British, Bengal Army and Bombay Army
troops with 96 guns against 60,000 Sikhs with 59 guns.
Uniforms, arms and equipment (this section is identical for
each of the battles in the Sikh Wars):
The two wars fought between 1845 and 1849 between the British
and the Sikhs led to the annexation of the Punjab by the British
East India Company and one of the most successful military
co-operations between two races, stretching into a century of strife
on the North West Frontier of British India, the Indian Mutiny,
Egypt and finally the First and Second World Wars.
The British contingent comprised four light cavalry regiments
(3rd, 9th, 14th and 16th Light Dragoons- the 9th and 16th being
lancers) and twelve regiments of foot (9th, 10th, 24th, 29th, 31st,
32nd, 50th, 53rd, 60th, 61st, 62nd and 80th regiments).
The bulk of General Gough’s “Army of the Sutlej” in the First
Sikh War and “Army of the Punjab” in the Second comprised regiments
from the Bengal Presidency’s army: 9 regular cavalry regiments (the
Governor-General’s Bodyguard and 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th
and 11th Bengal Light Cavalry), 13 regiments of irregular cavalry
(2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th to 9th and 11th to the 17th Bengal Irregular
Cavalry), 48 regiments of foot (1st to 4th, 7th, 8th, 12th to 16th,
18th, 20th, 22nd, 24th to 27th, 29th to 33rd, 36th, 37th, 41st to
54th, 56th, 59th, 63rd and 68th to 73rd Bengal Native Infantry),
horse artillery, field artillery, heavy artillery and sappers and
The Bombay presidency contributed a force that marched in from
Scinde in the West and gave considerable assistance at the Siege of
Multan; the 19th Bombay Native Infantry gaining the title of the
Multan Regiment for its services in the siege, a label still held by
its Indian Army successor. A Bombay brigade under Brigadier Dundas
joined General Gough’s army for the final battle of the Second Sikh
War at Goojerat, where the two regiments of Scinde Horse, Bombay
Irregular Cavalry, particularly distinguished themselves. The
brigade comprised: 2 regiments of Scinde Horse, 3rd and 19th Bombay
Native Infantry and Bombay horse artillery and field artillery.
Each of the three presidencies in addition to their native
regiments possessed European infantry, of which the 1st Bengal
(European) Infantry, 2nd Bengal (European) Light Infantry and 1st
Bombay (European) Fusiliers took part in the Sikh Wars.
Other corps fought under the British flag, such as the Shekawati
cavalry and infantry and the first two Gurkha regiments: the Nasiri
Battalion (later 1st Gurkhas) and the Sirmoor Battalion (later 2nd
General Gough commanded the British/Indian army at 6 of the 7
major battles (not Aliwal). An Irishman, Gough was immensely popular
with his soldiers for whose welfare he was constantly solicitous.
The troops admired Gough’s bravery, in action wearing a conspicuous
white coat, which he called his “Battle Coat”, so that he might draw
fire away from his soldiers.
Gough’s tactics were heavily criticised, even in the Indian press
in letters written by his own officers. At the Battles of Moodkee,
Sobraon and Chillianwallah Gough launched headlong attacks
considered to be ill-thought out by many of his contemporaries.
Casualties were high and excited concern in Britain and India. His
final battle, Goojerat, decisively won the war, cost few of his
soldiers their lives and was considered a model of care and
The Battle of Goojerat
Every battle saw vigorous cavalry actions with HM 3rd King’s Own
Light Dragoons and HM 16th Queen’s Royal Lancers particularly
distinguishing themselves. The British light cavalry wore
embroidered dark blue jackets and dark blue overall trousers, except
the 16th who bore the sobriquet “the Scarlet Lancers” for their red
jackets. The headgear of the two regiments of light dragoons was a
shako with a white cover; the headgear of the lancers the
traditional Polish tschapka.
HM regiments of foot wore red coats and blue trousers with shakos
and white covers.
The Bengal and Bombay light cavalry regiments wore pale blue
uniforms. The infantry of the presidency armies wore red coats and
peakless black shakos.
The weapons for the cavalry were the lance for the lancer
regiments and sword and carbine for all; the infantry were armed
with the Brown Bess musket and bayonet.
Commands in the field were given by the cavalry trumpet and the
infantry drum and bugle.
In the initial battles the Sikh artillery outgunned Gough’s
batteries. Even in these battles and in the later ones the Bengal
and Bombay horse and field artillery were handled with great
resource and were a major cause of Gough’s success.
Many of the more senior British officers had cut their military
teeth in the Peninsular War and at the Battle of Waterloo: Gough,
Hardinge, Havelock of the 14th Light Dragoons, Cureton, Dick,
Thackwell and others. Many of the younger men would go on to fight
in the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny.
The Sikhs of the Punjab looked to the sequence of Gurus for their
spiritual inspiration and had established their independence
fiercely resisting the Moghul Kings in Delhi and the Muslims of
Afghanistan. The Sikhs were required by their religion to wear the
five “Ks”, not to cut their hair or beard and to wear the highly
characteristic turban, a length of cloth in which the hair is
wrapped around the head.
The Maharajah of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh, whose death in 1839
ended the Sikh embargo on war with the British, established and
built up the powerful Sikh Army, the “Khalsa”, over the twenty years
of his reign. The core of the “Khalsa” was its body of infantry
regiments, equipped and trained as European troops, wearing red
jackets and blue trousers. The Sikh artillery was held in high
esteem by both sides. The weakness in the Sikh army was its horse.
The regular cavalry regiments never reached a standard comparable
to the Sikh foot, while the main element of the mounted arm
comprised clouds of irregular and ill-disciplined “Gorcharras”.
The traditional weapon of the Sikh warrior is the “Kirpan”, a
curved sword kept razor sharp and one of the five “Ks” a baptised
Sikh must wear. In battle, at the first opportunity, many of the
Sikh foot abandoned their muskets and, joining their mounted
comrades, engaged in hand to hand combat with sword and shield.
Horrific cutting wounds, severing limbs and heads, were a frightful
feature of the Sikh Wars in which neither side gave quarter to the
It had taken the towering personality of Ranjit Singh to control
the turbulent “Khalsa” he had established. His descendants found the
task beyond them and did much to provoke the outbreak of the First
Sikh War in the hope that the Khalsa would be cut down to size by
the armies of the British East India Company. The commanders of the
Sikh armies in the field rarely took the initiative in battle,
preferring to occupy a fortified position and wait for the British
and Bengalis to attack. In the opening stages of the war there was
correspondence between Lal Singh and the British officer, Major
Nicholson, suggesting that the Sikhs were being betrayed by their
Pay in the Khalsa was good, twice the rate for sepoys in the
Bengal Army, but it was haphazard, particularly after the death of
Ranjit Singh. Khalsa administration was conducted by clerks writing
in the Persian language. In one notorious mutiny over pay Sikh
soldiers ran riot looking for anyone who could, or looked as if they
could, speak Persian and putting them to the sword.
The seven battles of the war and the siege of the city of Multan
were hard fought. Several of the battle fields were wide flat spaces
broken by jungly scrub, from which the movement of large bodies of
troops in scorching heat raised choking clouds of dust. As the
fighting began the dust clouds intermingled with dense volumes of
musket and cannon smoke. With the thunder of gunfire and horse
hooves, the battle yells and cries of the injured, the battles of
the Sikh Wars were indeed infernos.
The Battle of Goojerat in the Second Sikh War, 1849: by Henry
For more details on a picture and how to buy a copy, please click on
Winner: This convincing victory by Gough’s army brought
the Sikh Wars to an end and brought about the annexation of the
Punjab into British India.
British and Indian Regiments:
HM 3rd King’s Own Light Dragoons, now the Queen’s Royal Hussars. *
HM 9th Queen’s Royal Light Dragoons (Lancers), now the 9th/12th
Royal Lancers. *
HM 14th the King’s Light Dragoons, now the King’s Royal Hussars.*
HM 16th Queen’s Light Dragoons (Lancers), now the Queen’s Royal
HM 10th Foot, later the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and now the
Royal Anglian Regiment.*
HM 24th Foot, later the South Wales Borderers and now the Royal
HM 29th Foot, later the Worcestershire Regiment and now the
Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment. *
HM 32nd Foot, later the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and now
HM 1st Battalion, 60th Rifles, later Royal Green Jackets and now the
HM 61st Foot, later the Wiltshire Regiment and now the Royal
Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. *
|Bengal Army regiments:
1st Bengal Light Cavalry.*
5th Bengal Light Cavalry.*
6th Bengal Light Cavalry.*
8th Bengal Light Cavalry.*
3rd Bengal Irregular Cavalry.*
9th Bengal Irregular Cavalry.*
11th Bengal Irregular Cavalry.*
14th Bengal Irregular Cavalry.*
2nd Bengal (European) Fusiliers.*
8th Bengal Native Infantry.*
15th Bengal Native Infantry.*
20th Bengal Native Infantry.*
25th Bengal Native Infantry.*
30th Bengal Native Infantry.*
31st Bengal Native Infantry.*
36th Bengal Native Infantry.*
45th Bengal Native Infantry.*
46th Bengal Native Infantry.*
51st Bengal Native Infantry.*
52nd Bengal Native Infantry.*
56th Bengal Native Infantry.*
69th Bengal Native Infantry.*
70th Bengal Native Infantry.*
72nd Bengal Native Infantry.*
An officer of Bengal Light Cavalry.
Horse Artillery and Field Artillery.
Bombay Army regiments:
1st Scinde Irregular Horse.*
2nd Scinde Irregular Horse.*
The Scinde Horse
1st Bombay (European) Fusiliers.*
3rd Bombay Native Infantry.*
19th Bombay Native Infantry.*
Corps of Guides.*
1st Scinde Irregular Horse in 1861 became the 5th Bombay Cavalry,
from 1903 35th Scinde Horse, from 1922 the 14th Prince of Wales’s
Own Scinde Horse and from 1950 the 14th Scinde Horse of the Indian
2nd Scinde Irregular Horse in 1861 became the 6th Bombay Cavalry,
from 1903 36th Jacob’s Horse, from 1922 the 14th Prince of Wales’s
Own Scinde Horse and from 1950 the 14th Scinde Horse of the Indian
The Corps of Guides in 1874 became the Queen’s Own Corps of Guides,
in 1922 10th Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides Cavalry (FF), in
1927 The Guides Cavalry (10th) (Queen Victoria’s Own FF) and in 1947
the Guides Cavalry of the Pakistan Army.*
All the Bengal cavalry regiments that fought at Goojerat ceased to
exist in 1857.
Bengal Irregular Cavalry
2nd Bengal (European) Light Infantry, in 1861 became 102nd Light
Infantry and from 1880 the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Disbanded in
31st Bengal Native Infantry in1861 became the 2nd Bengal Light
Infantry, in 1903 2nd (Queen’s Own) Rajput Light Infantry, in 1922
1st (Queen Victoria’s Own) Light Infantry Battalion 7th Rajput
Regiment and in 1950 became 4th Battalion the Brigade of the Guards
of the Indian Army.*
70th Bengal Native Infantry in 1861 became the 11th Bengal Native
Infantry and from 1903 11th Rajputs, from 1922 5th Battalion 7th
Rajput Regiment; from 1947 5th Battalion, the Rajput Regiment of the
1st Bombay (European) Fusiliers in 1862 became HM 103rd (Royal
Bombay Fusiliers) and from 1880 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin
Fusiliers. Disbanded in 1922.*
3rd Bombay Native Infantry in 1903 became the 103rd Mahratta Light
Infantry and from 1922 1st Battalion 5th Mahratta Light Infantry;
from 1947 1st Battalion, the Mahratta Light Infantry of the Indian
19th Bombay Native Infantry in 1903 became the 119th Infantry (The
Mooltan Regiment) and from 1922 2nd Battalion (Mooltan Battalion)
9th Jat Regiment; from 1947 Battalion (Mooltan Battalion), the Jat
Regiment of the Indian Army.*
19th Bombay Native Infantry, one of the Bombay Army regiments at
the Battle of Goojerat
The remaining Bengal infantry regiments that fought at Goojerat
ceased to exist in 1857.
Order of Battle of the Army of the Punjab at the Battle of Goojerat.
General Sir Hugh Gough, Commander-in-Chief:
The Cavalry Division: Major General Sir Joseph Thackwell.
1st Brigade: Brigadier Lockwood; HM 14th Light Dragoons, 1st Bengal
Light Cavalry, elements of 11th and 18th Bengal Irregular Cavalry.
2nd Brigade: Brigadier Hearsey; 3rd and 9th Bengal Irregular
3rd Brigade: Brigadier White; HM 3rd Light Dragoons, HM 9th Lancers,
8th Bengal Light Cavalry, Scinde Irregular Horse and 2 troops of
The Guides Cavalry.
A Sikh Gocharra Horseman
1st Infantry Division: General Whish.
Lieutenant Colonel Hervey’s Brigade: HM 10th Foot, 8th and 52nd
Bengal Native Infantry, 1 company of Pioneers and 1 troop of horse
Brigadier Markham’s Brigade: HM 32nd Foot, 51st and 72nd Bengal
Native Infantry, 2 troops of horse artillery and a light field
Brigadier Hoggan’s Reserve Brigade: 5th and 6th Bengal Light
Cavalry, 45th and 69th Bengal Native Infantry and 1 Bombay light
2nd Infantry Division: General Gilbert.
Brigadier Penny’s Brigade: 2nd Bengal (Europeans) Fusiliers, 31st
and 70th Bengal Native Infantry.
Brigadier Mountain’s Brigade: HM 29th Foot, 30th and 56th Bengal
3rd Infantry Division: Major General Sir Colin Campbell.
Brigadier Carnegy’s Brigade: HM 24th Foot and 25th Bengal Native
Brigadier McLeod’s Brigade: HM 61st Foot, 36th and 46th Bengal
Native Infantry and 2 light field batteries.
Brigadier Dundas’ Brigade (Bombay Army): HM 60th Rifles, 1st Bombay
(European) Fusiliers, 3rd and 19th Bombay Native Infantry and 1
Bombay light field battery. Also the Scinde Camel Baggage Corps.
10 eighteen pounders
8 eight inch howitzers.
Following the carnage of the Battle of Chillianwallah, General
Gough’s Army of the Punjab camped around the village, while for
three days it poured with rain. Shere Singh’s Sikh Army lay at the
village of Rasul between Chillianwallah and the River Jhelum.
The weather cleared but Gough resolved not to attack the Sikhs
until General Whish had captured Multan and rejoined him with his
division. Shere Singh tried to lure Gough into a premature battle,
but to no avail.
Maharajah Shere Singh, the son of Ranjit Singh, commanding the Sikh
Army at the Battle of Goojerat
The army of Chattar Singh joined the Sikhs at Rasul, bringing a
force of 1,500 Afghan cavalry commanded by the son of Dost Mohammed,
the Amir of Afghanistan who had so humiliatingly defeated the
British in the First Afghan War.
On 25th January 1849 shortage of supply forced Shere Singh to
leave Rasul and march for the more fertile country around Goojerat
on the Chenab River to the East.
Gough dispatched Lieutenant Hodson with a force of cavalry to
Wazirabad on the far side of the Chenab to watch for a Sikh
incursion across the river.
On 15th February 1849 Gough broke camp and moved towards the
Chenab in order to meet Whish’s division and put himself in a
position to attack the Sikhs.
On Gough’s direction Whish sent a small force to reinforce Hodson
On 16th, 17th and 18th February 1849, Gough approached the Sikh
army in Goojerat; on the last day of the march Whish’s division
rejoined the army. On 19th and 20th February 1849, Dundas’s Bombay
brigade and Markham’s Bengal brigade marched in, giving Gough his
decisive force for the final battle with the Sikhs; 24,000 troops
and 96 guns.
Gough found the Sikh army numbering 60,000 men, drawn up to the
South of Goojerat, the mass of the regular Sikh infantry with 59
guns in line in the two mile gap between the dry river Dwara on the
right and the flowing Katela river on the left. On each flank the
Sikh cavalry continued the line beyond the two river beds with the
Afghan cavalry on the right. The Sikhs had fortified a number of
villages lying in advance of their line.
A Sikh Gocharra Horseman
Behind the Sikh line the distant Himalayas gave a dramatic snow
tipped backdrop to the forthcoming battle.
Gough planned to launch his main attack alongside the Dwara
nullah, while the 1st and 2nd cavalry brigades pinned the Sikh left
flank and centre. His infantry brigades would be formed for the
attack: from the right, Hervey’s, Penny’s and Mountain’s brigades,
with Markham’s brigade in support. To the left of Hervey’s would be
the heavy guns on the bank of the Dawa: on the left bank of the dry
nullah, Carnegy’s, McLeod’s and Dundas’s brigades with Hoggan’s
reserve in support. White’s cavalry brigade would cover the left
The British, Bengal and Bombay troops fell in for the battle soon
after dawn on 21st February 1849. Gough rode down the line, wearing
his white “Fighting Coat”, and was cheered vigorously by his men.
On the signal the Army of the Punjab advanced two miles towards
the Sikh positions, halting as the Sikh guns opened fire. Gough
ordered his gun batteries forward, with a covering of skirmishers,
and a heavy duel opened between the opposing artilleries, the Bengal
and Bombay artillery outnumbering the Sikh guns nearly two to one.
The decisive point came when the two Bengal horse artillery reserve
batteries took several Sikh guns in enfilade and destroyed them.
After two and half hours bombardment the Sikh fire began to fade.
With the slackening gunfire the Sikh cavalry on Gough’s right
moved forward towards Hearsay’s cavalry division, leading to
extensive manoeuvring between the opposing forces.
The main British infantry attack began as Penny’s and Mountain’s
brigades, supported by the heavy guns, moved forward towards the
centre of the Sikh line and were received with a heavy fire from the
surviving guns. The village of Bara Kalra (Great Kalra) lay in
advance of the right of the Sikh centre. A party of light troops
moved forward to take the apparently empty village, to be met by a
storm of shots from the loopholed houses. Gilbert, the divisional
commander, dispatched the 2nd Bengal (European) Fusiliers to attack
the Sikh garrison, the regiment pushing through the village in the
face of a stubborn resistance. The Sikhs counter-attacked, pushing
the 2nd Fusiliers back through Bara Kalra, until they were halted by
blasts of grape shot at close range from Fordyce’s troop of Bengal
Horse Artillery and the finally cleared from the village.
At the same time, Hervey’s brigade attacked the twin village of
Chota Kalra (Little Kalra), HM 10th Foot and 8th BNI leading the
attack. Again the resistance was fierce and the fire extremely
heavy. Sikh cavalry threatened the right flank of the brigade,
forcing the third regiment, 52nd BNI, to form to the flank.
Markham’s brigade came up and with the supporting fire of
Mackenzie’s and Anderson’s batteries of Bengal Horse Artillery,
Hervey’s battalions took Chota Kalra.
On the left bank of the Dawa Nullah the artillery cleared the row
of villages of their Sikh garrisons and Campbells’ three brigades
advanced unopposed, enabling the guns to move forward and take the
main Sikh line in enfilade across the Dawa, causing numerous
casualties and contributing to the general retreat of the Sikh army.
On Gough’s left the Sikh cavalry moved forward and round his
flank, but were halted by the fire of Duncan’s and Huish’s batteries
of Bengal Horse Artillery. This was followed by a charge delivered
by the Scinde Horse and a squadron of HM 9th Lancers, which drove
the Sikh cavalry back.
All along the line the Sikh formations were collapsing and taking
to flight, in striking contrast to their measured withdrawal in all
the previous battles of the wars, other than Aliwal.
Thackwell’s cavalry pursued the Sikhs beyond Goojerat for 12
miles towards the River Jhelum, halting only when his artillery
horses were exhausted and could go no further. Hearsey with the
right flank cavalry brigades joined the rest of the Cavalry Division
beyond Goojerat and continued the chase until nightfall.
Pickets were placed on the Chenab fords, permitting the Sikh
soldiers to cross and return to their farms provided they
surrendered their weapons.
Casualties: British and Indian casualties were 96 killed and
750 wounded. The units that suffered most heavily were the 2nd
Bengal (European) Fusiliers and the 31st BNI of Penny’s brigade
during the attacks on Bara Kalra.
Sikh casualties have been estimated at 2,000. They lost 56 guns.
General Gilbert with a force of infantry, cavalry and guns took up
the pursuit the next day, marching fifty miles to the North in three
days, halting for three and then resuming the advance. On 14th March
1849 Gilbert reached Rawalpindi and received the surrender of Shere
Singh and Lal Singh. On 19th March 1849 Gilbert crossed the Indus
River at Attock in pursuit of Dost Mohammed’s Afghan troops and on
21st March 1849 Gilbert’s troops marched into Peshawar. The war was
over, the Punjab became part of British India and Sikh soldiers
began to join the East India Company’s army.
Regimental anecdotes and traditions:
• During the battle a party of Sikh horse circled round behind
Gough’s lines and attempted to attack him, being driven off by his
escort of 5th Bengal Light Cavalry.
• The Scinde Irregular Horse excited great admiration from onlookers
who saw their charge on the left wing, delivered at great speed and
in the closest of order. The regiment captured two Sikh standards.
During the pursuit after the battle the Scinde Irregular Horse
pursued the Afghan troops to the Khyber Pass.
• Aspects of the Scinde horsemen’s equipment were much admired and
emulated by Indian and British cavalry regiments, such as the
shoulder chains designed to deflect sword cuts, which became and are
still characteristic features of cavalry full dress.
• At Goojerat, General Gough placed all his irregular cavalry
regiments in the battle line, leaving two regular Bengal Light
Cavalry regiments, the 5th and 6th, to guard the camp.
• The 56th BNI lost its colours during the battle. One was
recaptured and returned to the regiment by Sepoy Raganuth Dube of
the 70th BNI, now the 5th Battalion of the Rajput Regiment of the
• Following the two Sikh Wars Major General Sir Hugh Gough became a
peer as Viscount Gough.
|Medals and decorations:
British and Indian soldiers who took part in the Second Sikh War
received the silver medal entitled “Punjab Campaign, 1848-9”.
Clasps were issued for the battles (or in the case of Mooltan the
siege) which were described as: “Mooltan”, “Chillianwallah”, and “Goojerat”.
Description of the medal:
Obverse.-Crowned head of Queen Victoria. Legend: “Victoria Regina.”
Reverse.-The Sikh army laying down its arms before Sir W.R. Gilbert
and his troops near Rawal Pindi. Inscription “To the Army of the
Punjab.” In exergue “MDCCCXLIX.”
Mounting.-Silver scroll bar and swivel.
Ribbon.-Dark blue with two thin yellow stripes, 1 ¼ inch wide.
• History of the British Army by Fortescue.
• History of British Cavalry by the Marquis of Angelsey.
The Punjab Campaign Medal (1848-9)