CORTLANDT. HENRY CHARLES VAN (1814-1888), son of Colonel Henry Clinton Van Cortlandt of the British army, by an Indian wife, was born at Meerut in 1814, and was educated in England. In 1832, he returned to India and joined Maharaja Ranjit Singh`s army on a monthly salary of Rs 250, subsequently raised to Rs 800, with a monthly stipend of Rs 800 for his wife. Cortlandt participated in various campaigns including the battle of Jamrud in which the famous general, Hari Singh Nalva, was killed.

During the reign of Maharaja Sher Singh, Cortlandt`s command was increased to two regiments and he was posted to Hazara. He was recalled to Lahore upon the murder of Maharaja Sher Singh and his son, Partap Singh. While on leave in India in January 1845, he openly joined the British. During the first Anglo Sikh war, he was sent to Firozpur as political agent in which capacity he witnessed the battles of Ferozeshah and Sabhraori. On the conclusion of the war, he was reinstated in the Sikh army, promoted a general and made governor of Dera Ismail Khan.

In 1846, General Cortlandt accompanied the British, with the Sikh force under his command, to Kashmir to quell the revolt instigated by Wazir Lal Singh. During the Multan uprising (1848), he openly supported Lieut Herbert Edwardes. Similar was his role in the second Anglo Sikh war. After the an nexation of the Punjab, he was transferred to the British service as a civilian. He was made a Companion of the Bath for his services in the 1857 uprising. Cortlandt retired in March 1868 and proceeded to London where he died in 1888.

References :

1. Grey, C., European Adventurers of Northern India, 1785-1849. Patiala, 1970
2. Gulcharan Singh, Ranjit Singh and His Generals. Jalandhar, n.d.
3. Ganda Singh, Private Correspondence Relating to the Anglo-Sikh Wars. Amritsar, 1955