On the morning of December 21 Gough came in sight of the Punjabi entrenchments at Ferozeshahr, By the afternoon General Littler, who had eluded Tej Singh, was able to join forces with Gough. The British commanders ordered an immediate attack. The battle commenced late in the afternoon on what happened to be the shortest day of the year. The British tried to overrun the Punjabis in one massive cavalry, infantry, and artillery onslaught. The battle raged with extreme ferocity through the evening till both armies were enveloped in the dark. A shell hit the Punjabi powder magazine and set many tents on fire. The Punjabis turned the misfortune to their advantage by falling on parties of the enemy who had penetrated their entrenchments.

At midnight the moon rose over the battlefield giving the Punjabis another opportunity to liquidate enemy pockets and recover the ground they had lost. The British suffered terrible casualties; every single member of the governor general’s staff was killed or wounded. That frosty night “the fate of India trembled in the balance.

The sun rose on the plains of Ferozeshahr over a ter¬ ribly battered British army. It had run out of ammunition, and the men had no stomach left for battle. At this pointTej Singh arrived from Ferozepur with troops, fresh and eager for combat.

Tej Singh’s guns opened fire. The British artillery had no shot with which to reply. Then, without any reason, Tej Singh’s guns also fell silent, and, a few minutes later, Tej Singh ordered his troops to retreat. Lord Gough quickly realised that the Sikh commanders had fulfilled their treacherous promise. He ordered his cavalry to charge the entrenchments at Ferozeshahr. The defenders, who were confidently expecting Tej Singh to give the enemy the coup de grace, were taken by surprise. They fled from their encampment, abandoning their guns, 80,000 lbs. of gun-powder, and all their stores.

The disaster at Ferozeshahr broke the morale of the few Durbar notables who had remained loyal to the state. Gulab Singh Dogra sent his agent to Ludhiana to negotiate terms for his assistance to the British; his example was followed by many other chieftains. To induce further desertions Hardinge issued a proclamation inviting all natives of Hindustan to quit the service of the Durbar on pain of forfeiting their property and to claim protection from the British Government.


  • History Of The Sikhs, Vol. 2: 1839-1964 By Khushwant Singh, p.g no.48-49
error: Alert: Content is protected !!