Gulab Singh defeats Sher Singh’s mighty army

By PANKAJ KHAJURIA                                                                                                  In the month of the January 1841, the civil war was at full swing at Lahore Kingdom. Prince Sher Singh was leaving no stone unturned to dethrone the ‘Maharani Maee Chand Kour’ with the help of the British. On one side Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s successors were fighting for their vested interests and on the other the loyal people of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Dogra Raj were struggling to defend the Sikh Kingdom in the interest of Lahore Darbar.
Prince Sher Singh entered Lahore City with mighty forces and arsenals. Alexander Gardner wrote,” Arrangements for blowing up everything having been made, on the morning of January 17 Sher Singh summouned Gulab Singh to surrender the Suman Burj. But the latter asked for a truce until Shian Singh’s return.” But Sher Singh, excited by the unlimited force at his command, enough to blow up his enemy (Maharani Chand Kour and Lahore city), did not agree.
The over-confident Prince Sher Singh played a trick to terrify the defenders of Lahore city. He ordered his men to open fire with blank cartridges. But Commander-in-Chief Gulab Singh was not the man to lose heart, patience and determination.
Prince Sher Singh pointed 12 guns at Hazoori Bagh gate. Loud and savage voices were heard, fiercely demanding the opening of the gate. But the call went unheeded and immediately the 12 guns were fired at once and the old gate with 37 out of 39 men placed inside to defend it, fell before the terrible discharge.
Here the C-in-C Gulab Singh adopted the Dogra martial tradition. He adopted the wait and watch policy with Guerilla warfare. He kept his Dogra forces silent. During the war it is very important to deceive the enemy. As Gulab Singh remained silent and no resistance was offered, some 300 troops of Sher Singh swept up the Hazuri Bhag and crowded into the gate with a yell. They were packed as close as fish.
This was the moment the Gulab Singh was waiting for. He ordered his cavalry to fire and in a single round of firing, blew them into pieces. This was followed by three artillery guns firing from the Hazuri gate. These three artillery gunners survived but were paralyzed by the severity of the attack.
Dogras are the finest marksmen and their martial traditions don’t let them to miss a target. C-in-C Gulab Singh had fewer forces but their better understanding of war tactics forced Sher Singh to flee.
The whole of Sher Singh’s artillerymen were killed. At the Hazuri Bhag gate they counted the bodies of not less than 2,800 soldiers, 200 gunners and 180 horses.
After this, Sher Singh escaped and went back to his former quarters in the barrack of Mewa Singh.