Logistics of small wars in British India: 1840s–1913

Journal article

Roy, Kaushik (2022) Logistics of small wars in British India: 1840s–1913, Small Wars & Insurgencies. DOI: 10.1080/09592318.2022.2059304.

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Between circa 1740 and 1849, the British East India Company (EIC) conquered India after conducting several conventional campaigns against the ‘native’ powers. Thereafter, the phase of consolidation started. In this phase, the EIC, and after 1859, the Raj had to conduct innumerable small wars (pacification campaigns) especially against the tribes who inhabited the Indus Frontier, and the region east of Brahmaputra River. Rather than battles and sieges, these campaigns were characterised by ambushes and raids in difficult terrain against the stateless armed communities. This paper, basing itself mostly on the archival documents derived from the various archives of the UK and India, focuses on the logistical aspect of the small wars conducted by the British in the North-West Frontier of India and North-East India. This essay studies four themes related to logistics: non-combatant manpower (especially coolies), roads, rivers, and animals. Each of the themes is dealt with chronologically. This paper starts from 1840s, when the British came in touch with the Indus Frontier after the annexation of Punjab, and ends in 1913, just before the outbreak of the Great War.

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