The Elephants in Hindu Armies
Just as the American cavalry used horses in battle, Hindu armies traditionally used elephants known as war elephants. These specially trained elephants were used by Hindu armies to charge enemy ranks in order to disperse them by trampling.
Divisions of war elephants were known as elephantry.
Hindu armies were the first military ever recorded to use elephants in battle, with the commander in chief riding an elephant that was usually decorated and outfitted with heavy armor. Compared with any other animal that could be used in battle, including horses and dogs, armored elephants were the most massive beasts participating in warfare. Due to the fact that these elephants often weighed several tons a piece and towered over the enemy at heights of 10 to 13 feet, it is not surprising that Hindu armies chose them to go into battle.
They were especially effective at terrorizing the opposing enemy forces’ horses. Hindu armies were the first militia to use war elephants as well as the last militia to abandon the practice. When not being used on the battle line, war elephants served a dual purpose to carry materials as well as to move equipment and pull up trees.
The use of war elephants by the Hindu armies made sense when wars were fought without gunpowder or cannons. But after the introduction of both of these elements to battlefields, even the massive elephants were no match to being knocked down or having their rider easily made a target of either a bullet or a cannonball. Ultimately the practice of using war elephants by Hindu armies to fight their battles was no longer a viable option.
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