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Battle of Sabraon

10 February 1846

Following the arrival of heavy artillery from Delhi and the rejoining of forces engaged at Aliwal, the British proceeded towards the fortified Sikh positions at Sabraon.

Despite being Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh Army, Tej Singh proceeded to secure the destruction of the Sikh Army by placing his forces behind fortifications with their rear to a wide, fast-flowing river, thus severely inhibiting the Army's manoeuvrability and affording no means of effective withdrawal.

Following a punishing two hour bombardment by the British siege artillery, the lines of British infantry began their assault. Initially, the Sikhs were able to repulse the attacks. However, having deployed further men, the British were able to exploit the weak east wing of the Sikh defences.

As with the previous engagements, the fighting was bitter, with close hand to hand fighting; the Sikhs preferring to rely on their tulwars while the British pressed forward with their bayonets. The ferocity of the battle was described by the veteran Sir Henry Smith as 'A brutal bulldog fight'. As Tej Singh fled across the single and feeble bridge of boats which afforded the sole means of withdrawal, it broke, resulting in the British Army advancing on the Sikh forces. Thousands would be killed, either fighting to the end alongside their resilient Sikh commander, Sham Singh Attariwala, or otherwise drowning in attempting to reach the other side of the river.

The Sikh Army was decimated at Sabraon and would never fully recover, with around 10000 having been killed or wounded. British losses were also high, with over 23,000 killed and wounded. This battle effectively ended the first of the Sikh Wars, resulting in a peace treaty whose provisions included the keeping of the Lahore Court as well as a continued place for Tej Singh in the Council at Lahore under British dependency. This loss of autonomy for the Council though, was inevitable as the Sikh army would now be unable to protect it.