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was to pay to the British Government £220,000 a year " for the maintenance of this force, and to meet the expenses incurred by the British Government." And these arrangements were to continue during the Maharaja's minority, and to “cease and terminate on His Highness attaining the full age of 16 years, or on the 4th of September of the year 1854.” 1
Maharaja Dhalip Singh was virtually the ward of the British Government; the British Government had undertaken to protect him, to control the administration of his country, and to preserve peace. And Lord Hardinge had taken adequate measures to fulfil the task imposed on the British Government. Fifty thousand men, with sixty guns, commanded the line of the Sutlej. A standing camp of nine thousand men held Lahore. Another standing camp of equal strength, with infantry, cavalry, and artillery complete, lay at Firozpur. Everything was in a state of perfect preparation to meet any contingency that might arise.
And yet no timely action was taken when trouble arose shortly after the departure of Hardinge. Dewan Mulraj's father had governed Multan for thirty years with almost independent sway. When the British Resident called for an account of his stewardship from Mulraj, he made various delays, and pretended to resign. He was taken at his word, and a successor was sent to Multan under the protection of two Englishmen, Vans Agnew and Colonel Henderson. The fort was at first surrenderad, but soon after Agnew and Henderson were treacherously murdered, and Mulraj regained and kept possession of the fort. The British Resident, Sir Frederick Currie, called on the Commander-in-chief, Lord Gough, to advance with a British force from Firozpur, and to stamp out the rebellion. But Lord Gough declined, and Lord Dalhousie supported the decision of Lord Gough. The rebellion was thus allowed time to spread.
* Articles VI., VII., VIII., IX., and XI. of the Treaty of December 16, 1846. One English officer did his duty promptly and well. Lieutenant Edwards was in his tent on the banks of the Indus when he heard of the murder of the English officers and of Mulraj's rebellion. He made a rush with only 400 men to Multan, but he could effect little against Mulraj's 4000 men and eight heavy guns defending the fort. All through the heat of the summer he did what it was possible for a British officer to do. He obtained levies from the State of Bhawalpur, defeated Mulraj in two battles in June and July, and drove him to the shelter of his fort. Had the higher authorities sent him aid from Lahore and Firozpur, as they were bound to do by the treaty of December 1846, the Multan rebellion would have been put down. And “had the Multan rebellion been put down,” says Lieutenant Edwards himself, “ the Sikh insurrection would never have grown out of it.”
While no timely action was taken to put down the local rebellion, measures were adopted by the British Resident which created a general consternation among the Sikhs. Ranjit Singh's widow, the mother of Maharaja Dhalip Singh, was an intriguing woman; but she had been excluded from all share in the government, and had been removed to Sheikh pur, and had ceased to be a source of danger. According to Lieutenant Edwards, “ The Rani Jhanda, who had more wit and daring than any man of her nation, was weary of scattering ambiguous voices and of writing incendiary epistles. ... There was no longer a man found in the Punjab who would shoulder a musket at her bidding."1 Under these circumstances the Resident's order to banish her from the Punjab to Benares was a measure of doubtful necessity, while its effect on the Sikh soldiery was instantaneous. “The reports from Raja Sher Singh's camp,” wrote the Resident on May 25, “are that the Khalsa soldiery, on hearing of the removal of the Maharani, are much disturbed. They
1 A Year on the Punjab Frontier, by Major Edwards, C.B.
said she was the mother of the Khasla, and that as she was gone, and the young Dhalip Singh in our hands, they had no longer any one to fight for or uphold.” 1
The postponement of the young Maharaja's marriage was another measure which created an unfavourable impression. Lieutenant Edwards saw this, and wrote to the Resident on July 28: “An opinion had gone very prevalently abroad, and been carefully disseminated by the evil-disposed, that the British meditate declaring the Punjab forfeited by the recent troubles and misconduct of the troops. . . . It would, I think, be a wise and timely measure to give such public assurance of Britisli good faith, and intention to adhere to the Treaty, as would be involved in authoritative preparations for providing the young Maharaja with a Queen. It would, no doubt, settle men's minds greatly."2 This wise counsel was unheeded.
Lastly, the treatment accorded to Sardar Chatra Singh, whose daughter the young Maharaja was to have married, further inflamed men's minds. Chatra Singh was the Governor of the Hazara province, inhabited by an armed Mahomedan population, warlike and difficult to control. Captain Abbot, an assistant of the Resident, was appointed to aid and advise him, but he placed himself in open opposition to the Sardar from the commencement. In August 1848 the mountaineers of Hazara, roused by Captain Abbot, closed the passes and surrounded the town where Chatra Singh was residing. The Sardar ordered the troops, stationed for the protection of the town, to encamp under the guns of the fort. Colonel Canora refused to move out of the city, and threatened to fire upon the first man that came near. Chatra Singh sent two companies of the Sikh infantry to take possession of the guns. Canora applied the match to one of the guns, missed fire, and was immediately after struck down
1 Punjab Papers, 1849, pp. 168 and 179.
by musket shots from the infantry. Captain Abbot called this incident the murder of Canora by the instigation of Chatra Singh. He was justly rebuked by the Resident, who wrote: “I have given you no authority to raise levies and organise paid bands of soldiers. . . . It is much, I think, to be lamented that you have kept the Nizam [Chatra Singh] at a distance from you; have resisted his offers and suggestions to be allowed himself to reside near you. . . . None of the accounts which have yet been made justify you in calling the death of Commedan Canora a murder, nor in asserting that it was premeditated by Sardar Chatra Singh.”1 Nevertheless, orders were passed in August, not to punish Captain Abbot, but to deprive Sardar Chatra Singh of the post of Governor, to resume his Jaigir, and to humiliate before the Sikh people the man whose daughter was to have been wedded to their sovereign.
All these impolitic acts roused the Sikh nation, and the rebellion of Multan began to spread. Chatra Singh's son, Sher Singh, went over to Mulraj with 5000 Sikhs, and the British force had to raise the siege of Multan. Nearly all the Sardars joined the insurrection, and the whole of the open country was in their hands.
In November 1848, seven months after the rising at Multan, Lord Gough at last moved out with his grand army. But at the first action at Ramnagar on the Chinab, he received a serious check; and the second action at Sadulapur was scarcely a victory. The third action at Chilianwala was disastrous. The British infantry proceeded to the attack when exhausted and breathless, and were compelled to make a retreat; the British cavalry, advancing without the support of guns, were similarly forced to a retreat which was soon converted into a flight; the colours of three regiments and four guns were captured by the Sikhs; and a total loss of 89 officers and 2350 men was the end of a hasty and
1 Punjab Papers, 1849, p. 316.
ill-judged attack. Lord Dalhousie claimed this also as a victory in his public despatches, but in his private letter regretted “the lamentable succession of three unsuccessful actions” at Ramnagar, Sadulapur, and Chilianwala.
When the news of this last action was received in England, public indignation exceeded all bounds. Lord Gough was recalled, and Sir Charles Napier was appointed Commander-in-chief. Before his arrival, however, Lord Gough had retrieved his reputation by a decisive victory at Gujrat on February 20, 1849. Multan had already fallen into the hands of the British in January. The Sikh army, beaten at Gujrat, was pursued across the plains of the Punjab by Gilbert, "the best rider in India," and surrendered at Rawal Pindi on March 12. Peace was restored within one year from the date of the first trouble at Multan.
By the treaty of December 1846 the British Government had undertaken to suppress risings in the Punjab, and to protect the minor Maharaja Dhalip Singh. By a proclamation, which was issued in November 1848 with Lord Dalhousie's sanction, it was declared that the British army "entered the Lahore territories, not as an enemy of the constituted Government, but to restore order and obedience.” Nevertheless, as soon as order was restored, the constituted Government was set aside. The Maharaja was dethroned and the Punjab was annexed to the British dominions. Sir Henry Lawrence, the first Resident appointed after the treaty of December 1846, protested against the annexation, and tendered his resignation. But Lord Dalhousie knew his worth as a pacificator, and induced him to withdraw his resignation. Of this great and gifted soldier we shall have more to say when we speak of the administration of the Punjab.
Another war was undertaken by Lord Dalhousie, three years after, in the eastern frontiers of the Indian