Last week the Battle of Ludhiana was paused at nightfall. A feature of the campaign was the lack of coordination of the several Sikh armies whose commanders had varying agendas. One Sikh army faced the British garrison at Ludhiana. A second Sikh army arrives to attack the British from the west, but while it was moving into position to attack a British relief force arrived on its flank. In typical Sikh fashion the first Sikh army failed to move to assist the second until late in the day - too late to stop the British coordinating their two forces to destroy the second Sikh army.
Overnight the British reorganised their forces ready to renew the attack The British force, though victorious on day 1 had significant casualties & faced a fresh Sikh army. (The defeated Sikh army had retired over the river & was regrouping).
Position at dawn. The Sikh army is on the left in the pics.
On the far flank a Sikh irregular infantry brigade has advanced through the wood past the fort & is moving towards Ludhiana. In the centre the British infantry (mostly loyal Sepoys) are advancing on the Sikh Sepoys. The Sikhs have moved half their artillery to their right to support their infantry while the other half continue to bombard the fort. On the near flank the truly British cavalry have charged with their Sepoy & irregular cavalry following up.
The British cavalry continued their poor dice rolling of the previous day & failing to break through. They have pulled back, now shaken, as their allied cavalry take over the attack.
The British Sepoy cavalry continue the cavalry fight. In the centre the infantry are slugging it out.
Some of the British cavalry have been rallied & returned to the fray & the Sikh cavalry brigade on the near flank has now broken.
In the centre casualties have mounted on both sides, but the Sikhs have the numbers to absorb the losses & the truly British infantry Brigade has broken.
On the far flank the Sikh irregulars are passing Ludhiana & are advancing on the British flank. On the near flank, one Sikh cavalry brigade has been broken, but the British cavalry have taken heavy losses & now face a fresh Sikh cavalry brigade.
The British decide they will be destroyed if they continue the attack & order a withdrawal.
The British attacked a Sikh force of about 40,000 men with only about 7,000 men, but the British had some advantages to counter the numbers:
- strategic surprise
- fewer irregular troops
- some very high quality truly British troops
- poor coordination of the two Sikh armies
The Brits could have won this battle, but a number of opportunies to make decisive breakthroughs were thwarted by the dice gods.
Left unsupported, the fort will fall within a day or so. The Sikhs have already taken & held Ferozepore. As a result the campaign is over & the Sikhs have won the war this time.