Battle of Miani
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|Battle of Miani|
|Part of the conquest of Sindh|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland||Talpur Emirs of Sindh|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Charles Napier||Mir Nasir Khan Talpur|
|Casualties and losses|
|39 dead, 231 wounded||~2000 dead|
The Battle of Miani (or Battle of Meeanee) was a battle between British East India company forces under Charles Napier and the Talpur Amirs of Sindh led by Mir Nasir Khan Talpur, of today's Pakistan. The Battle took place on 17 February 1843 at Miani, Sindh in what is now Pakistan. This battle eventually led to the capture of parts of Sindh region, first territorial possession by British East India company in what is the modern-day country of Pakistan.
According to Nadeem Wagan (a Sindh writer), the primary causes of the battle were the British East India company's desire to expand their possession in south Asia and the British General Charles Napier's ambitions. The General had held previous position as Governor of the Greek island of Kefalonia with very limited scope for glory. The Talpur kingdom of Sindh was inefficiently and loosely governed by the Amirs and a relatively easy target as opposed to the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab. Napier moved his army aggressively from the East India Company's Bombay presidency area and entered the Sindh border. Negotiations ensued between the Talpur Amir in Hyderabad and Napier. An agreement was reached after the Amir gave significant concessions. Napier then started to move his army back towards Bombay and the Amir disbanded his army that had been mobilised. However, Napier was firmly determined in conquering Sindh and Hyderabad. Whilst moving towards Bombay and giving the impression of keeping the agreement that had been reached, he suddenly turned back towards Hyderabad on the pretext of hostile intentions by the Amir and marched with great speed towards the capital.
The Baluch were forced to quickly re-mobilise their army but could not do so effectively as the army was mostly raised on a voluntary basis in times of war and most of the Baluchis had returned home. Nevertheless, an army of around 8,000 - mostly cavalry - was raised and assembled at the battle ground of Miani. Disastrously for the Talpur Amirs another 8,000 troops under Mir Sher Muhammad Talpur (later known as Sher-e-Sindh or "Lion of Sindh") failed to reach the battle ground in time. Napier had already successfully isolated the Amir of Khairpur (thereafter known as the great traitor by the Sindhi) by bribery and title. Thus the Baluchi army assembled at Miani represented approximately a ⅓ of the potential military strength in Sindh. Although the East India Company later gave its troops numbered in the battle as around 2,800, contemporary Talpur records indicated the armies were approximately equal in numbers (around 8–10 thousand each) with the British having around 2,500 European officers and soldiers and the balance comprising Indian sepoys.
The difference in military technology and tactics was enormous. The East India Company's army was led by professionally trained British officers and troops and the Indian Sepoys were also well trained and disciplined. They were armed with smoothbore percussion or flintlock muskets which were accurate to 500–7000 yards and supported by modern artillery. In contrast, the Baluchi army comprised mostly cavalry armed with muskets, spears and swords and some old artillery pieces acquired from Persia. The tactic was the favoured cavalry charge. Contemporary records indicate that the Baluchi army's morale was very high with the battle slogan being "we will die but not give up Sindh". Indeed, the Baluchis died in thousands, in 4–5 hours of carnage, the Baluchi horsemen charged in wave after wave and was mostly cut down long before it could reach British lines by rifle and artillery fire. It did eventually reach British lines and, according to Napier himself in his book on the battle (Conquest of Sindh), he had to ride amongst his officers and troops to stop them from falling back in disarray in the face of the ferocity of the Baluch who had reached the British lines. Of the Baluch army of 8,000 at Miani, around 6 thousand Baluch were killed. Reliable sources put the British casualties as 256 as kept by the East India company's paymasters while according to the Baluch, the Company's army suffered 3,000 dead (although Napier gives a much lower casualty figure as he does for his total force).
Later, on March 24, 1843, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur, reached Hyderabad with his private army of around 8,000 and tried to liberate Sindh from the occupation of the British East India Company forces. He sent Napier a message giving the General 48 hours to vacate the Hyderabad Fort. Napier who was firmly entrenched in Hyderabad Fort and had recently been reinforced from Bombay replied by firing his artillery from the Fort walls. Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur was subsequently defeated in the Battle of Dubba and thereafter he went to Punjab to seek help from Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, the Sikh ruler of the Punjab. The Maharaja extended hospitality but declined to become involved. Sher Muhammad Khan then went to the Khan of Kalat to seek assistance, but the Khanate of Kalat had already suffered a defeat by the British in 1838 and was in no position to help. Eventually after 10 years, Mir Sher Muhammad returned to Sindh and surrendered to the British and the East India Company gave him amnesty.
The amirs of Hyderabad suffered great loss, their fort was plundered, and amirs themselves were exiled to Andaman Islands – never to see Sindh again. Napier's post-conquest occupation of Sindh was absolute. Fifteen years later when the Indian Mutiny or 'War of Independence' in 1857 broke out, no shots were fired in Sindh. His manipulations of the history of his interactions with the Talpur dynasty and the history of the battle were likewise absolute and designed to glorify his position. However, debates that took place in the British Parliament for the post-conquest show the degree of concern that existed in UK on the action he had taken in Sindh.
The battle honours of "Meeanee" and "Hyderabad" are shared by the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment and a number of Indian regiments, whereas that of "Scinde" is borne by the Cheshire Regiment alone.
Five thousand Sindhis were killed or wounded while fighting the British. The fallen Amirs of Sindh consisted of Mir Nasir Khan Talpur, his nephews Mir Shadad Khan Talpur, Mir Hussein Ali Khan Talpur, Mir Sher Muhammad Talpur, the Subedar of Hyderabad, Mir Rustam Khan Talpur, Nasir Talpur, Wali Mohammad Khan Talpur of Khairpur. Others such as Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur was taken aboard the sloop HMS Nimrod and exiled to Burma.
A British journal said of the captive Sindhi Amirs: "The Amirs as being the prisoners of the state are maintained in strict seclution; they are described as Broken-Hearted and Miserable men, maintaining much of the dignity of fallen greatness, and without any querulous or angry complainngs at this unalleviable source of sorrow, refusing to be comforted".
- Sir Charles James Napier - Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition
- The History of British India: A Chronology by John F. Riddick
- Miāni - Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 17, p. 315.
- Personal observations on Sindh: the manners and customs of its inhabitants; and its productive capabilities
- "No. 20212". The London Gazette. 11 April 1843. pp. 1193–1195. Dispatches from Major-General Sir Charles Napier, KCB
- "No. 20231". The London Gazette. 6 June 1843. pp. 1893–1895. Dispatches from Major-General Sir Charles Napier, KCB