The Second Sikh War broke out unexpectedly in early 1848, triggered by a rebellion in the south of the Punjab that left both the Lahore Sikh state and the British East India Company unprepared for war.
The British failure to recognise the Sikh Army’s strength resulted in a couple of indecisive encounters. In the third and climactic event, near the village of Chillianwalla on 13 January 1849, the British force suffered a near-defeat with heavy casualties, and was saved only by the Sikh commander Shere Singh’s hesitation in advancing. However, the British were able to regroup and reinforce, later winning a decisive victory at the Battle of Gujrat.
On the 29 March 1849, the Punjab was annexed by the East India Company, a decision that would have a great effect not just in the Punjab and on the East India Company, but a dramatic impact a few years later during the Mutiny of 1857.
Amarpal Singh Sidhu spent 20 years in the software industry before turning to his real interest: military history and the exploration and analysis of battlefields, especially of the Anglo-Sikh Wars.
In 2021, he published ‘The Siege of Delhi’, the story of the capture of the Mughal capital by the British in 1857. He is currently working on ‘Punjab 1857’, chronicling the events of the 1857 Mutiny in the Punjab. Amarpal has appeared and collaborated on several history programmes for TV.