Littler, Sir John Hunter
Garrison Commander at Firozpur (1783-1856)
Garrison commander at Firozpur, the concentration point of British forward movement preparatory to the first Anglo-Sikh war, was born on 6 January 1783 at Tarvin, Cheshire, England. He joined the 10th Bengal Native Infantry in August 1800 and served in the campaigns under Lord Lake in 1804-05, and at the reduction of Java in 1811.
In 1841, he was promoted major-general. At the outbreak of the first Anglo-Sikh war in 1845 he was in command of the Firozpur division. He had 7,500 troops and 35 guns at Firozpur, when, in December 1845, two divisions of the Sikh army under Tej Sindh laid siege to it. Although Firozpur lay isolated and vulnerable, the siege was not pressed with any seriousness. The Sikh commanders having encircled it in a bold sweeping move made no attempt to capture it, with the result that, after the battle of Mudki (18 December 1845), Littler was able to move out with all his men and guns and, three days later, effecting junction with the main British army under Lord Gough, his troops took part in the battle of Ferozeshah (21 December 1845).
After the first Anglo-Sikh war, Littler was put in command of the occupation troops at Lahore. He opposed evacuation of Lahore as the date stipulated in the Agreement of 11 March 1846 for the withdrawal of British troops drew close. He wrote on 31 August to Lord Hardinge putting forth the view that the British occupation force was needed for public safety. He made out the point that the Sikh Darbar was incapable of maintaining its integrity without British support. A ruse was played on the Darbar. Littler threw out a hint to the Darbar that the troops would leave soon, and a few regiments were kept ready for a fictitious move across the Sutlej to Firozpur. It was then given out that Wazir Lal Singh and other chiefs had solicited the prolongation of occupation to support the government.
Sir John Littler left the Punjab in January 1848 to become the military member of the Governor-General’s council and Major-General Whish replaced him at Lahore. He returned home with the rank of Lieutenant-General in 1851. He died on 18 February 1856.