Battle of Panipat, 1526 animated battle map
Babur versus Ibrahim Lodi: An Afghan army under Ibrahim attacks a Mughal army under Babur, which is protected by a line of wagons and two safe flanks. Babur has something Ibrahim does not, namely cannons, but they are just a taste of the Mughal firepower; will Babur’s firepower be enough to defeat Ibrahim? Click on images below to view PowerPoint presentation. | Legend |
Babur’s victory laid the foundations of an empire that would eventually unite most of India. This battle should be significant to Western historians because it makes it abundantly clear that India had a rich culture and military history before any European arrived, that history does not begin when Europeans arrive to record a story.
The use of wagons in battle is always intriguing especially when used successfully. Babur used his wagons offensively, not defensively: “Men do not leave wide gaps in a wall intended to protect them from attack . . . Even as his objective was to provoke combat so his wagon-line was a device to destroy the enemy” (Williams quoted by Sandhu, 2003: 440). Babur’s wagons were just as necessary in actively destroying the enemy as his heavy cavalry, which were combined with his artillery and firepower. Sarkar notes that Babur perfected the art of fire-and-movement 300 years before the general Napoleon and the theorist Jomini (1984: 219).
This battle was requested by someone in the early development of this website all the way back in 2008. When beginning such a project, encouragement is crucial to continuing it, so Sameer, if you’re still following the site: thanks for the support and sorry for the wait.
I anticipate that this will be another animation that stirs controversy over my choice of numbers for each side. I chose to rely upon Sandhu’s A Military History of Medieval India because it provides the most detail regarding the composition of each army. Most sources place the size of the Mughal army at 8-15,000 but they rely upon Babur’s own estimates of having 12,000 cavalry and a few thousand infantry. Babur’s estimate only includes his 12,000 Turkish cavalry which he felt he could rely upon (Sandhu, 2003: 435). As a historian writing centuries later, I cannot set a precedent for counting only forces the commander felt most confident in.
- Jonathan Webb
Babur. Memoirs of Babur. Translated by Annette Susannah Beveridge. Delhi: Low Price, 1989.
Davis, Paul K. 100 Decisive Battles from Ancient Times to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Dupuy, Trevor N. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present, Fourth Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Hasan, Mohibbul. Babur: Founder of the Mughal Empire in India. New Delhi: Manohar, 1985.
Sandhu, Gurcharn Sing. A Military History of Medieval India. New Delhi: Vision, 2003.
Sarkar, Jagadish Narayan. The Art of War in Medieval India. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharal, 1984.
Williams, Rushbrook. An Empire Builder of the Sixteenth Century: A Summary of the Political Career of Zahir-ud-Din Muhammad Surnamed Babur. London: Longmans & Green, 1918.
Afghan cavalry: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_83b_figure_1.htm
Afghan infantry: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_83b_figure_1.htm
Afghan war elephant: http://www.dbaol.com/armies/army_83b_figure_1.htm
Ibrahim Lodi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibrahim_Lodi
Mughal artillery: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=399079&page=6
Mughal cavalry: httphttp://greatestbattles.iblogger.org/MysoreWars/ArmiesOfTheWarsInIndia_byPaulDStevenson.htm
Mughal infantry: http://greatestbattles.iblogger.org/MysoreWars/ArmiesOfTheWarsInIndia_byPaulDStevenson.htm
Tags: 1500s, Afghans, artillery, attack from a defensive position, Babur, cavalry, envelopment of a single flank, envelopment of both flanks, Gunpowder Era, Ibrahim Lodi, infantry, land, modern day India, Mughals, Season 8, Southern Asia, wagon
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