Sikh Regt Soldiers Circa 1890
Burnt out Fort Saragarhi
The breached wall at Fort Saragarhi
Gurdwara Saragarhi at Firozpur
MEMORIAL TABLET AT SITE OF BATTLE
Present Day Sikh Regt Soldier
LT Col Haughton signaled his HQ in Punjab about the battle that had transpired. Within a few hours, tales of their bravery were making news across India. The Governor General of India Earl of Eglin wrote a personal telegraph to the Queen Victoria on the bravery of the Sikhs soldiers defending the post till their death.
The news reached the House Of Common, as the tales of sacrifice of the 21 Sikh soldiers were narrated; tears flowed freely in the August house, at the end the Chief Whip speech, the entire parliament gave a rousing standing ovation to the Gallant 21, as their name were called out aloud in a symbolic roll call.
The collective courage of the 21 Sikh soldiers moved Queen Victoria so much that her majesty decreed that due to conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity beyond and above the call of duty displayed by the 21 soldiers, all of them shall be awarded the Indian Order Merit (IOM) posthumously. IOM is the highest award for bravery given to colonial troops and it was equivalent to the British Victoria Cross. This was the only time in history of warfare where each soldier who took part in the same battle was given the highest award. Additionally, Her Majesty decreed that the net of kin of these brave soldiers would be given a stipend of 500 rupees and 50 acres of land.
Finally a memorial cenotaph was to be erected near the place where all these 21 soldiers fell, as a perpetual record to the heroic action of these gallant soldiers who died at their posts in the defense of Fort Saragarhi, on the 12 September 1897. Without the stiff resistance of the 21 Sikh soldiers at Saragarhi both Fort Lockhart and Gulistan would have fallen to the enemy. By defending their position long enough for the relief column to arrive with artillery support, the 21 Sikh soldiers became the crucial factor in turning the tides of battle in favour of the British.
The 21 Sikh soldiers fought on continuously for 7 punishing hours without food and water, completely surrounded and pounded from all flanks. Unwearied by constant charges and mortal danger they stood their ground against daunting odds, they repealed wave after wave of attack and fought till their last bullets. Out of ammunition they did not abandon their post and instead chose to engage in a fatal hand to hand combat, till all made the ultimate sacrifice.
When the relief column arrived a day later, they saw the burnt out bodies of all the 21 Sikh soldiers, together with at least 600 dead bodies of the tribesmen strewn only yards in front of their position. The Sikhs faced 10,000 and vanquished but not before taking 600 tribesmen with them.
12th of September officially became the regimental day of the Sikh Regiment, Gurdwara Saragarhi was built in Firozpur as a remembrance to the 21 brave souls. Their name forever etched within the marbles of the Gurdwara, close to the gurus that they were true till the end.
Read the detailed battle account:
THE GALLANT 21: SAGA OF THE SIKH SOLDIERS AT SARAGARHI 12 September, 1897