In November 1846, he was promoted major general. In the second Anglo Sikh war, Major General Thackwell commanded the 2nd division of the infantry. On the death of Brigadier Cureton in the battle at Ramnagar, he took over the command of the Cavalry Division. Gough sent a force of eight thousand men under Thackwell to pass the river higher up, and help dislodge the Sikhs from their position by moving on to their left flank and rear. Thackwell crossed the river at Wazlrabad and, on 3 December 1848, encamped near Sadullapur. He was attacked by the Sikhs, and the British pickets were driven out of three villages.
Thackwell also saw action at Chelianvala and Gujrat. At Chelianvala, Thackwell`s cavalry brigade under Pope courted disaster. Pope`s brigade had advanced to protect the flank and movement of the 3rd Infantry Division under Major General Campbell, when some hundred ghorcharhas fell upon them, and by successive onslaughts broke up the British cavalry line and cut down their horsemen. The Sikh horsemen swept the field like lightning and their Khalsa warcries so frightened the entire British cavalry brigade as if they had seen a ghost. They fled, galloping their own horse artillery and leaving behind their comrades at the mercy of the Sikhs.
Dalhouse records the rout of Thackwell`s 2nd cavalry brigade in these words : "The cavalry on the right disgraced their name and the colours they carry.... They galloped on in to the Field Hospital, among the wounded and never stopped till they were brought up by the Chaplain, who was administering to the wounded and who, pistol in hand, declared he would shoot at the first man who passed him." Thackwell wrote Narrative of the Second Sikh War in 1848-49, published in London in 1851. The chronicle is a detailed account of the battles of Ramnagar, Cheliarivala and Gujrat. In 1854, Thackwell was promoted lieutenant general. He died on 8 April 1859.
1. Hasrat, Bikrama Jit, Anglo-Sikh Relations. Hoshiarpur, 1968
2. Gough, C. and A.D. Innes, The Sikhs and the Sikh Wars. London, 1897
3. Ganda Singh, ed., Private Correspondence relating to the Anglo-Sikh Wars. Amritsar, 1955