Battles of Panipat
Date: 1556, 1526, 1761
Location: India Panipat
Participants: Delhi Sultanate, Maratha Federation, Mughal Dynasty
Prominent People: Akbar, Babur
First Battle – 21 April 1526 (Babur and Ibrahim Lodi) First Battle of Panipat
Second battle – 5 November 1556 Bairam Khan (Akbar’s commander) and Hemu (Sher Shah Suri’s commander) Second battle of Panipat
Third Battle – 14 January 1761 (Maratha and Ahmad Shah Abdali) Third Battle of Panipat
The Battle of Panipat, (1526, 1556, 1761), three military activities important in the history of northern India, was fought at Panipat, a ground suitable for cavalry, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Delhi.
First Battle of Panipat (1526)
A large number of Mughal forces dominated Panipat. This was due to the cleverness of its general, Babur, who demonstrated an innate sense of the value of his area’s use of fortifications and the firepower of gunpowder. This victory enabled him to lay the foundation of the Indian Mughal Empire.
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These areas belonged to a Muslim kingdom, the Delhi Sultanate, for three centuries. Although its reputation was completely tarnished by Timur’s bloody conquest of 1398, it was still present as a powerful ruler in northern India.. At this time, the Sultanate was under the control of an Afghan elite. A cynical and divisive ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Lodi had alienated many of his nobles. It was actually a local lord in Hindustan who, in 1523, invited Babur to launch a full-scale invasion.
Although he was clearly attracted to the idea of invasion, Babur was in no hurry. His army had only 10,000 men, so he ensured that they were well equipped and excellently trained before attacking Hindustan. He took the time to train them in the use of gunpowder weapons, while ensuring that their skills were not neglected in traditional steppe warfare. Only at the end of 1525 did he begin his invasion.
His army pushed aside the Afghan army that had set out to meet him, so Sultan Ibrahim himself led a second army, taking a position at Panipat, north of Delhi. On 12 April 1526, Babur found himself faced with a huge crowd: 100,000 men and 1,000 elephants. Unconcerned, he began building an impromptu fort in the open field, tying 700 carts together and with earthen ramparts as protection for his cannon in front of him and his matches for his gunners. As the days passed and a hesitant Sultan Ibrahim halted his attack, Babur was able to consolidate his position further. He dug trenches and felled trees, creating barriers to the left and right, leaving gaps through which his cavalry could charge.
On 21 April, Ibrahim finally made his move. His troops advanced, only to be brought down by Babur’s fortifications. the Sultan’s army was effectively surrounded. At this point, Babur’s gunmen opened their bombardment from behind his barrier, firing at point-blank range into this close-knit crowd. Unable to advance or retreat, the Afghan army was brutally cut off.
Babur now emerged as an undisputed ruler of India’s power. Apart from this, he came out as a major contender for the Delhi Sultanate. Based on this victory, he was able to establish a brilliant new ruling line. In honor of its founder’s Timur origin – and in honor of Timur’s Mongol ancestors – it was to be known as the Mughal, or Mughal, dynasty.
Damage: Muggle, unknown; Afghan, 20,000-50,000.
This victory almost ensured the establishment of the Mughal Empire in India.
Assessment of losses in this war : Mughal, unknown; Afghans, about -20,000-50,000.
Second and Third Battle of Panipat (1556, 1761)
After the death of Babur who was the founder of the Mughal Empire in 1530, the expansion of the Mughal Empire almost came to a halt. The expansion of the Mughal Empire started once again and this expansion was led by Akbar’s grandson Akbar. Today, in front of Akbar was the same ground where his grandfather Babur had conquered. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, the young Akbar defeated the mighty Hindu ruler Hemu at Panipat.
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Babur’s son Humayun faced serious setbacks, even losing his kingdom, after being conquered by the Pashtun chieftain Sher Shah Suri in 1540. Rebuilding his army in exile, he eventually withdrew his kingdom after fifteen years, leaving behind his son and successor, Akbar. With a great empire.
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With a great empire. In the east of Akbar’s empire, Sher Shah Suri’s general Hemu had established himself as a powerful ruler; Describing himself as an independent ruler, Hemu had made Bengal the center of his power.. At the age of just thirteen, Akbar seemed completely incapable of dealing with this menace. He did, however, have rare gifts—and the support of his guardian, the skilled General Bairam Khan. Hemu had an unstoppable momentum, it seemed – he captured Delhi in October 1556, having already taken the strategic forts of Agra and Tughlaqabad. It was too late to save the city, Akbar’s army let it go and stopped at Panipat in the plains to the north.
The scene was prepared for the Second Battle of Panipat on 5 November 1556. The repeated allegations of elephants failed to break the resolve of the Mughal soldiers. An inspiring figure, Hemu led from the front, seated high on an elephant, an important amulet for his soldiers. He was also an attractive target for Mughal archers, and initially they fired arrows at him to no avail, so the head-to-toe armor he wore was impenetrable. Eventually, however, an arrow found its way through an eye hole and killed him. Seeing their leader falling, Hindus broke down and fled.
The Third Battle (January 14, 1761) ended the Maratha attempt to succeed the Mughals as rulers of India and marked the virtual end of the Mughal Empire. The Maratha army, led by the Peshwa’s (chief minister’s) uncle, Bhao Sahib, was surrounded and ravaged by the Afghan Sardar Ahmed Shah Durrani..
After the decline of the Mughal Empire following the death of Emperor Aurangzeb, the Maratha confederacy had expanded rapidly, threatening the Afghan Durrani Empire ruled by Ahmad Shah Durrani. Ahmed declared jihad and launched a campaign that captured large parts of Punjab. The Marathas, under the command of Sadashivrao Bhau, responded by raising a large army and captured Delhi. The aim of Ahmed’s campaign was to starve the Maratha army for its supplies. At the same time, he led an army of 40,000 south to trap the Maratha army in Punjab.
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Cut and starving, Bhau decided to break Ahmed’s blockade, leading to a face-off between the two armies at Panipat. The former attempted to crush the latter’s army with massive artillery bombardment and then used their superiority in numbers to break the Durrani blockade and advance south in a defensive posture. However, he was weakened by the rivalry within his ranks and the need to protect many civilians. Durrani attacked suddenly, before the artillery inflicted serious damage and Bhau’s nephew was killed. The Maratha general entered the battle to retrieve his nephew’s body, but his soldiers mistook him for dead and their morale plummeted. The small Durrani army took advantage and drove them away. Bhau survived, to die sometime later, but the Maratha army was destroyed and the unity of the empire was broken.
This started 40 years of chaos in north-western India and later cleared the way for British domination.
Losses: Marathas, 40,000 casualties and 30,000 out of 80,000 captured; Durrani, 40,000-75,000 with 5,000 casualties.