Battle of Attock

Battle of Attock

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The Battle of Attock took place on 13 July 1813 between the Sikh Empire and the Durrani Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

. The battle was the first significant Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 victory over the Durranis.

Background



In 1811–12, Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

 invaded the hill states of Bhimber
Bhimber
Bhimber is the chief town of Bhimber District, Azad Kashmir. The town is situated on the border between Azad Kashmir and Pakistan at a distance of about 50 km from Mirpur, about 48 km from Gujrat and about 166 km from Islamabad.-History:...

, Rajauri
Rajauri
Rajouri is a town and a notified area committee in Rajouri district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.- Introduction :The District drives its name from Rajouri town which itself had been historically known as Rajapuri/Rajapura. Rajouri District had been part of Poonch district prior to 1967...

, and Kullu
Kullu
Kullu, once known as Kul-anti-peetha - "the end of the habitable world", is the capital town of the Kullu District, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is located on the banks of the Beas River in the Kullu Valley about ten kilometres north of the airport at Bhuntar.Kullu is a broad open...

 in preparation for an invasion of Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

. In late 1812, Fateh Khan
Fateh Khan
Fateh Khan is a town and union council of Dera Ghazi Khan District in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It is located at 31°4'0N 70°43'0E and has an altitude of 140 metres .-References:...

, the Vizier
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

 of Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, crossed the Indus river
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

 under orders from Mahmud Shah Durrani
Mahmud Shah Durrani
Mahmud Shah Durrani was born Prince and ruler of the Durrani Empire between 1801 and 1803, and again between 1809 and 1818...

 to raid Kashmir and to free Shuja Shah Durrani
Shuja Shah Durrani
Shuja Shah Durrani was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1803 to 1809. He then ruled from 1839 until his death in 1842. Shuja Shah was of the Sadozai line of the Abdali group of Pashtuns...

 from its renegade vizier
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

, Atta Muhammad Khan. In an 1812 interview with Ranjit Singh, Fateh Khan agreed to a joint invasion of Kashmir. He could not invade Kashmir if he was opposed by the Sikh Empire, and agreed that a small Sikh force under Dewan Mokham Chand
Dewan Mokham Chand
Ranjit Singh had seen him in action at Akalgarh three years earlier and again in the fight against the Bhangi Sardar of Gujarat. Mokham Chand had fallen out with his Bhangi master and had come to Ranjit for employment. Ranjit welcomed him with handsome gifts of an elephant and horses and granted...

 would receive one third of the plunder.

Both invasions began at Jhelum
Jhelum
Jhelum or Jehlum may refer to:* Jhelum, a city in Pakistan on the banks of the Jhelum River* Jhelum District, an administrative division in Punjab, Pakistan surrounding the city of Jhelum...

, but once the armies reached the Pir Panjal Range
Pir Panjal Range
The Pir Panjal ranges lie in the Inner Himalayan region, running from east southeast to west northwest across the states of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir in India as well as Pakistan-administered Kashmir, where the average elevation varies from to . The Himalayas show a gradual elevation towards...

, Fateh Khan used a heavy snowfall to double march his veteran mountain troops through the range. However, Dewan Mokham Chand
Dewan Mokham Chand
Ranjit Singh had seen him in action at Akalgarh three years earlier and again in the fight against the Bhangi Sardar of Gujarat. Mokham Chand had fallen out with his Bhangi master and had come to Ranjit for employment. Ranjit welcomed him with handsome gifts of an elephant and horses and granted...

 offered the Rajauri
Rajauri
Rajouri is a town and a notified area committee in Rajouri district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.- Introduction :The District drives its name from Rajouri town which itself had been historically known as Rajapuri/Rajapura. Rajouri District had been part of Poonch district prior to 1967...

 raja
Raja
Raja is an Indian term for a monarch, or princely ruler of the Kshatriya varna...

 a large jagir
Jagir
In historic India, a jagir was a small territory granted by the ruler to an army chieftain in fairly short terms usually of three years but not extending beyond his lifetime, in recognition of his military service...

 if he could find a path through the range that would allow the Sikhs to reach the valley of Kashmir at the same time as the Afghan troops and was able to have a small body of troops under Jodh Singh Kalsia and Nihal Singh Attari present at the captures of Hari Parbat
Hari Parbat
Hari Parbat is a hill overlooking Srinagar, the largest city and summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is the site of a Durrani fort, built in 1808. It has the famous Shakti Temple on the western Slope and Muslim shrines of Khwaja Makhdoom Sahib and Akhund Mullah Shah on the southern slope...

 and Shergarh
Shergarh, Pakistan
Shergarh is an historic town, union council and major administrative subdivision of Depalpur Tehsil, Okara District.- History :Sher Garh is one of the most historic towns of the district, along with Haveli Lakha, Hujra Shah Muqeem, Basir Pur, Depalpur & Satghara among others...

. The vizier
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

 of Kashmir, Atta Muhammad Khan, had offered no resistance to either army but Fateh Khan refused to share the spoils. Shuja Shah Durrani chose to be escorted by Dewan Mokham Chand to Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

, the capital of the Sikh Empire, out of fear of becoming a prisoner at Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

.

Ranjit Singh became annoyed at Fateh Khan's refusal to share plunder and opened negotiations with the renegade governor of Attock
Attock
Attock is a city located in the northern border of the Punjab province of Pakistan and the headquarters of Attock District...

, Jahandad Khan, brother to the recently deposed
Deposition (politics)
Deposition by political means concerns the removal of a politician or monarch. It may be done by coup, impeachment, invasion or forced abdication...

 Atta Muhammad Khan of Kashmir, and took control of the fort at Attock. After Jahandad Khan accepted his jagir, Dia Singh, a Sardar
Sardar
Sardar is a title of Indo-Aryan origin that was originally used to denote feudal princes, noblemen, and other aristocrats. It was later applied to indicate a Head of State, a Commander-in-chief, and an Army military rank...

 with a small contingent of troops in the area, took control of Fort Attock
Attock Fort
Attock fort was built at Attock Khurd during the reign of Akbar the Great from 1581 to 1583 under the supervision of Khawaja Shamsuddin Khawafi to protect the passage of the Indus....

 including 3,510 Maund
Maund
The maund is the anglicized name for a traditional unit of mass used in British India, and also in Afghanistan, Persia and Arabia: the same unit in the Moghul Empire was sometimes written as mun in English, while the equivalent unit in the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia was called the batman...

s of grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

, 439 rounds of cannon shot
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

, 70 cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 and small mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

s, and 255 Maunds of rock salt. Hari Singh Nalwa
Hari Singh Nalwa
Hari Singh Nalwa was Commander-in-chief of the Khalsa, the army of the Sikh Empire. He is known for his role in the conquests of Kasur, Sialkot, Multan, Kashmir, Attock, and Peshawar. He led the Sikh Army in freeing Shah Shuja from Kashmir and secured the Koh-i-Nor diamond for Maharaja Ranjit Singh...

 arrrived with Dewan Devi Das and a detachment of cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 to support the garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

 at an unknown date.

Battle



Accusing Ranjit Singh of treachery, Fateh Khan set off from Kashmir at the head of 15,000 cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 in April 1813 and invested
Investment (military)
Investment is the military tactic of surrounding an enemy fort with armed forces to prevent entry or escape.A circumvallation is a line of fortifications, built by the attackers around the besieged fortification facing towards the enemy fort...

 Attock Fort. At the same time Ranjit Singh rushed Dewan Mokham Chand and Karam Chand Chahal from Burhan
Burhan, Pakistan
Burhan is a village in Attock District of Punjab, Pakistan. It is famous for the M-1 motorway interchange located here. It also lies on the N-5 National Highway....

 with a force of cavalry, artillery, and a battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 of infantry to meet the Afghans.

Dewan Mokham Chand encamped 8 miles (12.9 km) from the Afghan camp, unwilling to risk a decisive engagement, although both sides engaged in numerous skirmishes and took losses. On 12 July 1812, the Afghans' supplies were exhausted and Dewan Mokham Chand marched 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Attock to Haidaru, on the banks of the Indus River, to offer battle. On 13 July 1812, Dewan Mokham Chand split the cavalry into four divisions, giving command of one division to Hari Singh Nalwa and taking command of one division himself. The lone battalion of infantry formed an infantry square
Infantry square
An infantry square is a combat formation an infantry unit forms in close order when threatened with cavalry attack.-Very early history:The formation was described by Plutarch and used by the Romans, and was developed from an earlier circular formation...

 protecting the artillery, with Gouse Khan commanding the artillery. The Afghans took up positions opposite the Sikhs, with a portion of their cavalry under the command of Dost Mohammad Khan
Dost Mohammad Khan
Dost Mohammad Khan was the Emir of Afghanistan between 1826 and 1863. He first ruled from 1826 to 1839 and then from 1843 to 1863. He was the 11th son of Sardar Pāyendah Khan who was killed by Zaman Shah Durrani in 1799...

.

Fateh Khan opened the battle by sending his Ghazis on a cavalry charge which was repulsed by heavy fire from the Sikh artillery. The Afghans rallied under Dost Mohammad Khan, who led the Ghazis on another cavalry charge which threw one wing of the Sikh army into disarray and captured some artillery. When it appeared the Sikhs had lost the battle, Dewan Mokham Chand led a cavalry charge atop a war elephant
War elephant
A war elephant was an elephant trained and guided by humans for combat. Their main use was to charge the enemy, trampling them and breaking their ranks. A division of war elephants is known as elephantry....

 that repulsed the Afghans "at all points", and rout
Rout
A rout is commonly defined as a chaotic and disorderly retreat or withdrawal of troops from a battlefield, resulting in the victory of the opposing party, or following defeat, a collapse of discipline, or poor morale. A routed army often degenerates into a sense of "every man for himself" as the...

ed the remaining Afghan troops. Fateh Khan, fearing his brother, Dost Mohammad Khan, had died, escaped to Kabul and the Sikhs captured the Afghan camp, including the lost artillery pieces.

Aftermath


Amritsar
Amritsar
Amritsar is a city in the northern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering 3,695,077...

, Lahore and other large cities across the Sikh Empire were illuminated for two months afterwards in rejoicing over the victory. After his defeat at Attock, Fateh Khan fought off an attempt by Ali Shah, the ruler of Persia, and his son Ali Mirza to capture the Durrani
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 province of Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, which left their newly captured province of Kashmir open to attack.