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The Battles for Empire Volume 1: Battles of the British Army through the Victorian Age, 1824-1857

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The Battles for Empire Volume 1: Battles of the British Army through the Victorian Age, 1824-1857
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Robert Blackwood and Bruce Hay
Date Published: 2023/03
Page Count: 204
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-916535-03-9
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-916535-02-2

The wars fought against revolutionary, consular and imperial France under Napoleon Bonaparte came to an end in June, 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo. Britain did not fight again in western Europe for almost another 100 years. However, in an age which took its name from the long reign of Queen Victoria, conflicts large and small, raged across the globe in often remote and exotic countries against determined indigenous enemies. This Leonaur two volume set focusses on the battles fought by the British Army from the close of the Napoleonic Wars until the early years of the 20th century. Wellington had built his renown in India and this 'jewel in the imperial crown' occupied the British Empire for first half of the 19th century as it struggled to establish its dominance. First, however, came a war with neighbouring Burma followed by a disastrous expedition into Afghanistan. By the middle years of the century the sub-continent was all but conquered with the exception the redoubtable armies and territories of the Emirs of Scinde and the Sikhs of the Punjab. Troubles once again broke out in Burma, shortly followed by one of the largest collisions of arms of the century between European and Turkish allies and Imperial Russia.This became the Crimean War with fearsome battles fought at the Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman as Sebastopol was besieged. This great conflict somewhat overshadowed the Anglo-Persian War which ignited because Persia (under the Qajar dynasty) attempted to reacquire the city of Herat. The most monumental shock of the 1850's was the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny when native troops of the Bengal Presidency Army rose to slaughter their officers, families and other British and European civilians. The event shook the British to the core and the numerically inferior and unprepared British initially suffered serverely. The tide would soon be turned and those battles appear in volume two of this set. Blackwood and Hay's views of these events benefits from their ability to draw upon sources contemporary to the events described which are sometimes missing from later works. This means that their views are predictably imperial in keeping with their times. Contains images that did not accompany original texts.

Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

Colonel Wheeler’s march, seems to have been conducted with equal diligence and care. He heard of the encounter of the 21st, and of its results; whereupon he abandoned the direct road to Loodiana, and following a circuitous route, went round the enemy’s position, without once coming under fire. He reached Sir Harry Smith’s camp in safety; and, on the 26th, Smith made his preparations to fight a great battle. But it was found, ere the columns were put in motion, that the enemy had abandoned their position at Buddewal, and were withdrawn to an entrenched camp nearer to the river, of which the village of Aliwal was the key, covering the ford by which they had crossed, and on which they depended, in the event of a reverse, as a line of retreat. Operations were accordingly suspended, and such further arrangements set going as the altered state of affairs seemed to require.
On the 27th, Runjoor Singh having been reinforced by Avitabile’s brigade, 4,000 Sikh regulars, some cavalry, and twelve guns, found himself, as he had reason to believe, in a condition to deliver battle; and to intercept the Anglo-Indian communications, he advanced towards Ingraon, where, early on the 28th, Sir Harry Smith found himself in position. His right rested on a height, his left on a field entrenchment, while his centre held ground in the immediate front of the: village of Aliwal (or Ulleéwal). The Anglo-Indian Army amounted to some 12,000 men of all arms; the Sikhs doubled them in numerical strength, and that too was composed of the flower of their army.
The subsequent details of this glorious action may be rapidly described. Smith boldly advanced against the Sikh position, under a heavy cannonade, while the right brigades were getting into line. The advance was splendid—the British cavalry driving the Sikh horsemen on their infantry, forced the left back, capturing several guns, while on the left of the British line the Ayeen brigade (Avitabile’s) were deforced, and the village of Bhoondi, where the right of the Sikhs endeavoured to make a stand, was carried with the bayonet. A general rout ensued, the enemy pressing in confused masses towards the ford, while every attempt they made to rally was anticipated by a charge, and the destruction of the flower of the Sikh Army was completed.
The firing began about ten in the morning; by one o’clock in the day the Sikh Army was broken and routed, the ground covered with its wreck, and the Sutlej choked with the dead and the dying. The whole of the artillery, fifty-seven guns, fell into the hands of the victors, and the booty was immense; but the victors had neither time nor inclination to dwell upon their triumphs. There was no further danger to be apprehended here. Of the 24,000 men who, in the morning, threatened Loodiana, scarcely as many hundreds held together; and these, after a brief show of rally on the opposite bank, melted away and disappeared entirely.
Having bivouacked that night, therefore, on the field which he had won, and sent in the wounded, with the captured guns, under sufficient escort, to Loodiana, Sir Harry Smith, with the bulk of his division, took the road to headquarters; and, in the afternoon of the 8th of February, came into position on the right of the main army, which was his established post.
In this most glorious battle, the Anglo-Indian Army had 151 men killed, 413 wounded, and 25 missing a loss comparatively small.
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