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Sikhs and the British

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At the close of the First Sikh War in 1846 it was decided to conciliate the men of the defeated "Khalsa Army" and to enlist Sikhs in the Honourable East India Company's service. In April orders were issued to raise a Sikh irregular battalion, the Regiment of Ferozepore, for service with the Bengal Army of the East India Company.

A British officer, Ensign J. Brasyer, was lent to Sir Henry Laurence, Civil Commissioner of the Punjab, to assist in fostering friendship with the Sikhs and in obtaining Sikh recruits. Ensign Brasyer was thirty-six years old. He had enlisted as a private in the artillery of the East India Company and later was promoted to quartermaster-sergeant of the 26th Bengal Native Infantry. He fought with this regiment throughout the First Afghan War and First Sikh War and had been promoted to commissioned rank for gallantry and distinguished service in the field. He understood Indians, knew their customs and spoke Punjabi. It was for this reason that his services were placed at the disposal of the civil authorities in the Punjab.

On arriving in Lahore, Ensign Brasyer was immediately sent to tour the villages south of the Sutlej river in the districts known as the Malwa country. He visited many villages, where he harangued the Sikhs in their own language and, collected all able men who were willing to serve as soldiers in the Company's service. In less than two months Ensign Brasyer had collected four hundred men, many of whom had recently been fighting against the British. He brought them all to Ferozepore, where he handed them over to Captain Watt, who had been appointed to raise the Regiment of Ferozepore.



Ensign Brasyer claims to be the first to have collected Sikhs for the British forces and in his memoirs he writes:

"Thus I had the honour of being myself the first to form the nucleus of that invaluable Seikh element of the Bengal Army, that has since served the British Government with so, much credit in every campaign since 1857."

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