Until reading the Second Anglo-Sikh War by Amarpal Singh I had never head of this large force and had been only loosley aware of the siege of Multan which most of the histories I had read tend to gloss over in favour of the large set peice battles of the main British, Indian and Sikh field forces. A shame as it turns out, the Siege of Multan and operations in that region offer some very rewarding scenario material for the wargamer.
Two large battles, Kyneerie and Suddusain, with 25-40,000 native troops that I had not even been aware of and multiple divisional sized actions around the City itself. Brigade sized actions to clear villages and suburbs around the City and the only truly offensive battle by the Sikhs against entrenched British I have read of. Really interesting stuff and for anyone interested I highly recomend the book. The Siege of Multan offers a plethora of scenarios for a range of rule sets.
I was reminded of this when I started considering a force of semi uniformed matchlock men. I was considering how best to use Empress miniatures matchlock armed muslim troops and after test painting two I was considering a couple of units of uniformed troops. I remembered the battles fought by the forces of Bahawalpur and re-read the passage.
To go back a step Multan was the spark that led to the Second Anglo-Sikh War. A force of Sikh troops led by two british officers marched to install a new governer of the City and reduce the Garrison. Unwilling to be made redundant the garrison attacked the British Officers and the new governer with no interference from their Sikh troops who mainly stood back and watched (mainly Sikh Gurkhas it seems) the governer was bullied into leading the garrison in rebellion and eventually large parts of the rest of the Punjab joined in. Initially the local political officer, Leiutenant Herbert Edwardes, raised local Muslim hill tribes and mercenaries to support his Sikh regulars (Initially Sikh regulars were fighting on both sides) and contain the garrison whilst British troops could be sent down when the weather cooled.Eventually columns from both the Bengal and later Bombay presidencies would take part.
The Nawab of Bahawalpur as a British Ally raised his forces to support the British, apparantly around 9,000 foot, 250 horse plus cannon and camel guns. A little research showed he had a bodyguard but most of the troops were Raises and Tumandars, Baluchi tribes in 9 battalions. Haha thought I, A bodyguard of Muslim troops which I can put in semi uniforms and a horde of tribal Baluchis, realising I had a bunch of the Foundry Darkest Africa Baluchis I decided this would be the next project within my Sikh Wars project.
The Bahawalpur contingent with other allied forces eventually seems to have reached around 18,000 in number and fought and defeated elements of the Sikh Garrison which had marched out to face them twice, on the first occasion beating 8,000 Sikhs in entrenchments and the second 12,000 Sikhs. Interesting battles in which the only Europeans present were two British Junior Officers along with the mixed race Sikh army General Van Courtland and the whole allied contingent of 18,000 was led by a leuitenant, Edwardes.
So that is a long way of me justifying two units of uniformed muslim matchlockmen which incidentally can also be used on the Sikh side in both Wars but also for the earlier Lake and Wellington periods and the later Mutiny period. Hurrah! The Foundry Baluchis will of course be perfect but will be supplemented by the Empress Afghan matchlock men from the Mutiny range, I may also throw in a couple of Perry plastic afghans for variety.
The bodyguard will wear red and yellow/buff I will use various shades of both so they dont look too uniform, essentially the standard bearer further up and the matchlock armed Baluchi above gives you an idea. The next unit will be Baluchi matchlockmen in blue grey robes with buff turbans and brighter blue cummerbund, I should also have a further unit with mixed firearms and swords in mixed civilian dress.
The South Western regions of the Punjab were populated by Baluchi and Pathan related tribes, the Baluchi seem to have longer robes and lots of hair which sticks out from their turbans. The pathans of course perfect for the Perry plastic Afghans and the Empress irregular matchlocks. It was only as I was thinking about other figures to use I realised I had two or three Indus Baluchi matchlock men in the bottom of the painted figure box somewhere, I will have the check out these and see which unit they can fit into. They must have been sat there for a couple of years waiting for me to finish a unit they could join.
The Baluchi unit in blue grey do look the part, the buff and red unit will be mainly Pathan I think.
Watch out for more of these, hoping to have the first unit finished over the next few weeks.