BATTLE OF MUDKI
And we may now tell the tale of the battles of Mudki, Ferozeshah and Sabraon and the part played by the traitors. Gulab Singh Dogra, Missar Tej Singh and Missar Lal Singh were the three arch traitors whose services had been, through intrigue, secured before hand by the British. The former had been assured the provinces of Jammu and Kashmir and the latter, both mercenaries from Uttar Pradesh and Rohtas had been guaranteed rich fortunes and their offices as Commander-in-Chief and Prime Minister respectively.
Lal Singh was unwilling to cross Sutlej but when forced by his zealous soldiery to do so, he wrote to Captain Nicholson at Ferozepur, I have crossed the river with the Sikh Army. You know my friendship for the British. Tell me what to do. Nicholson answered, Don’t attack Ferozepur. Halt as many days as you can. And then march towards the Governor General1
About this incident, Cunningham says, The object, indeed, of Lal Singh and Tej Singh was not to compromise themselves with the English by destroying an isolated division, (at Ferozepur) but to get their own troops dispersed by the converging forces of their opponents.”2
About this Ludlow says, Had he attacked, our garrison of 8000 men (at Ferozepur) would have been destroyed and the victorious 60,000 would have fallen on Sir Henry Hardinge, who had then but 8,000. So utterly unprepared were we, that even this treachery of one of our enemies scarcely sufficed to save us.3
About the general temperament of the Sikh soldiers, Cunningham says: Every Sikh considered the cause as his own, and he would work as a labourer as well as carry a musket; he would drag guns, drive bullocks, lead camels, and load and unload boats with a cheerful alacrity, which contrasted strongly with the inapt and sluggish obedience of mere mercenaries, drilled-indeed, and fed with skill and care, but unwarmed by one generous feeling for their country or their foreign employers. 4
Lal Singh’s force comprised of 18,000 infantry, 16,000 cavalry and 85 Guns. Leaving about 7000 men with 20 guns to watch over Ferozepur, he moved towards Mudki on the afternoon of 17th December, 1845. During the course of their march, whether by design or accident, the troops lost their way. After a whole night’s wandering, they arrived not at Mudki but at Ferozeshah, in the morning. It was here that he got the message that the Governor General had reached Mudki. Lal Singh moved from Ferozeshah with only half the force with him on the false plea that Tej Singh might require the remainder. Under such circumstances of intrigue and treachery began the battle of Mudki on the afternoon of December 18th, about which Cunningham writes, Lal Singh headed the attack, but in accordance with the original design, he involved his followers in an engagement, and then left them to fight as their undirected valour might prompt.
The battle lasted for about less than two hours, during which, in the words of Lord Hugh Gough, the Sikhs fought as if they had every thing at stake. Considering the brevity of the action, the British losses were deemed heavy. General Sir Robert Sale and Sir Joseph Macgaskill and two aids of the Governor General being amongst the 215 killed. On close of the battle, the Sikhs withdrew to Ferozeshah by mid-night.
Source:Anglo-Sikh Wars and its Inside Tale – Karnail Singh