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The Governor-General to the Secret Committee.

Camp, Ferozepore, December 31, 1845.

Since my last despatch to you, of the 4th inst. events of great moment have occurred.

The Sikh army, in large numbers commenced crossing the Sutlej on the 11th, and after investing Ferozepore on one side, took up an entrenched position at the village of Ferozeshah, about ten miles from Ferozepore, and about the same distance from the village of Moodkee.

In this camp the enemy had placed 108 pieces of cannon, some of large calibre, with a force exceeding 50,000 men, for the purpose of intercepting the approach of the British force, moving up from Umballa, to the relief of Ferozepore, which had been thus treacherously attacked, without provocation or declaration of hostilities.

I had ordered on the 8th inst. that portion of our army posted at Umballa for defensive purposes, to move upon the 11th, and after a rapid march of 150 miles, it reached Moodkee on the 18th, where, on the evening of the same day, it repulsed an attack of the Sikh army, and captured seventeen guns; on the following day the army was concentrated at Moodkee, and on the 21st moved by its left on Ferozepore, and having on the march formed its junction at half-past one o'clock with 5,000 men and twenty-one guns, under Major-General Sir John Littler, which had moved from Ferozepore that morning, the Commander-in-Chief formed the army in order of battle, and attacked the enemy's entrenched camp; and on that evening and the following morning, captured seventy pieces of artillery, taking possession of the enemy's camp, with large quantities of ammunition and warlike stores.

These successful and energetic operations have been followed by the retreat of the Sikh army to the other side of the Sutlej, the British army being now encamped between Ferozepore and the fords of the Sutlej.

You will not fail to observe that these important and brilliant successes have been achieved by that portion of our army posted at and in advance of Umballa, for defensive purposes; and that, our forces from Meerut, and other stations from the rear, ordered to move up at the same time, are in reserve, and will reach this neighbourhood between the 5th and the 9th of January.

I have the honour to inclose two reports from the Commanderin-Chief, detailing the admirable manner in which these important duties have been performed, and I am convinced the Court of Directors of the East India Company, in concurrence with her Majesty's Government, will highly appreciate the eminent services rendered by the Commander-in-Chief, and by the officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers of the Indian army.

The Commander-in-Chief has successfully accomplished every object I had directed him to effect for the relief of Ferozepore, and the protection of these British states. No accident or failure has occurred during the complicated operations of a combined movement, and our army, whether for defence or attack, has shown, as heretore, that its power is irresistible.

1 also transmit a notification which I issued on the 25th inst., and a general order, recording the grateful acknowledgements of the Indian Government for these important services.

I now proceed to detail the events which preceded a resort to arms, and I am convinced that the forbearance manifested by me in all these transactions will meet with your approval.

My previous correspondence will show the extreme anxiety I felt to avoid hostilities, by friendly explanations required from the Lahore Durbar; and my reluctance to give any cause for jealousy or alarm to the Sikh army and Government was so strong, that from the 18th of November up to the 8th of December, I deferred to make any movement of troops, in the hope of proving the sincerity of our professions by the moderation of our actions. This forbearance, carried to the utmost limits which prudence could allow, was not appreciated at Lahore.

In the state of anarchy and uncontrollable power usurped by the Sikh army, my reluctance to resent their hostile conduct may have been misunderstood, as the effect of conscious weakness or of timidity; but the Lahore Government, there is every reason to believe, was not influenced by any such impressions.

The Regent and her advisers courted collision for the purpose of employing their unruly soldiers against their friendly neighbour, as the safest means of extricating themselves from the personal dangers to which they were constantly exposed; the Lahore Government deceived their army by false statements of the fidelity of our native troops, whom they have in vain attempted to corrupt by emissaries employed by that Government.

And there is also reason to believe that active intrigues had for some time past been resorted to, in order to induce the chiefs of our protected Sikh territories to rise in arms against the British power, as soon as a Sikh army should cross the Sutlej.

There was no proof that such a conspiracy existed on the part of the leading Sikh chiefs on this side the Sutlej, although in a very few instances, where the personal character of the individuals accounted for the folly of their conduct, there were reasons for believing that disaffection did exist, and would be exhibited with activity on the first favourable opportunity, and particularly if any reverse should attend our arms.

I shall have occasion to advert to this subject when I notice the proclamation I issued on the 13th instant.

But I will previously resume the narrative of the daily intelligence from Lahore, as affording a connected series of the events which have occurred since the 4th of December, when I informed you that I had deemed it expedient to desire the Lahore Vakeel to leave my camp, in consequence of the disregard shown by his court to my political agent's remonstrance of the 18th of November, and of the determination evinced by the Durbar to withhold all explanation of their conduct.

I had moved with my camp on the 6th of December from Umballa towards Loodiana, peaceably making my progress by the route I had announced, with the intention of visiting the Sikh protected states, according to the usual custom of my predecessors.

In common with the most experienced officers of the Indian


Government, I was not of opinion that the Sikli army would cross the Sutlej with its infantry and artillery.

I considered it probable that some act of aggression would be committed by parties of plunderers, for the purpose of compelling the British Government to interfere, to which course the Sikh chiefs knew I was most averse; but 1 concurred with the Commander-in-Chief, and the chief secretary to the Government, as well as with my political agent, Major Broadfoot, that offensive operations, on a large scale, would not be resorted to.

Exclusive of the political reasons which induced me to carry my forbearance as far as it was possible, I was confident, from the opinions given by the Commander-in-Chief and Major-General Sir John Littler, in command of the forces at Ferozepore, that that post would resist any attack from the Sikh army, as long as its provisions lasted; and that I could at any time relieve it, under the ordinary circumstances of an Asiatic army making an irruption into our territories, provided it had not the means of laying siege to the fort and the entrenched camp.

Up to this period no act of aggression had been committed by the Sikh army. The Lahore Government had as good a right to reinforce their bank of the river Sutlej, as we had to reinforce our posts on that river.

The Sikh army had, in 1843 and 1844, moved down upon the river from Lahore, and, after remaining there encamped a few weeks, had returned to the capital. These reasons, and above all my extreme anxiety to avoid hostilities, induced me not to make any hasty movement with our army, which when the two armies came into each other's presence, might bring about a collision.

The army had, however, been ordered to be in readiness to move at the shortest notice; and, on the 7th and 8th of December, when I heard from Lahore that preparations were making on a large scale for artillery, stores, and all the munitions of war, I wrote to the Commander-in-Chief, directing his Excellency on the 11th, to move up the force from Umballa, from Meerut, and some other stations in the rear.

Up to this time no infantry or artillery had been reported to have left Lahore, nor had a single Sikh soldier crossed the Sutlej. Nevertheless, I considered it prudent no longer to delay the forward movement of our troops, having given to the Lahore Government the most ample time for a reply to our remonstrance.

On the 9th, at night, Captain Nicolson, the assistant political agent at Ferozepore, reported that a portion of the Sikh army had approached within three miles of the river. On the other hand, the information received by Major Broadfoot on that day from Lahore was not of a character to make it probable that any Sikh movement on a large scale was meditated.

On the 10th, no intelligence was received from Lahore confirmatory of Capt. Nicolson's report, and the usual opinion continued to prevail that the Sikh army would not cross the Sutlej.

The troops, however, moved on the 10th, 11th, and 12th, in pursuance of the orders given on the 7th and 8th; and the whole of the forces destined to move up to the Sutlej were in full march on the 12th.

I did not consider the force moving up from Umballa to be sufficient to force its way to relieve Ferozepore, if a large Sikh army, with a numerous and well-served park of artillery, should attempt to intercept it in its approach to Ferozepore, as, in such case, it could with difficulty receive any aid from that garrison. Being some days' march in advance of the Commander-in-Chief, I rode over to Loodiana; and, having inspected the fort, the cantonments and the troops, it appeared to me most advisable that the whole of this force should be moved up with the Umballa force, restricting the defence of Loodiana to the fort, which could be securely garrisoned by the more infirm soldiers of the regiments at that post, unless attacked by heavy artillery, which was a very improbable contingency.

The risk to be incurred of leaving the town and the cantonments liable to be plundered, was maturely considered, and I had no hesitation in incurring that risk to insure the strength and sufficiency of the force which might separately be brought into

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