First Battle of Panipat (1526) | Overview | Background | Consequences

First Battle of Panipat (1526) | Overview | Background | Consequences

 

The First Battle of Panipat was fought between the invading forces of Babur and the Lodi Empire, which took place on 21 April 1526 in North India. It indicated the beginning of the Mughal Empire. This was one of the earliest battles involving gunpowder firearms and field artillery.

Overview (First Battle of Panipat)

In 1526, the Mughal forces of Babur, the Timurid ruler of Kabulistan, defeated the much larger ruling army of Ibrahim Lodi,Sultan of Delhi. The battle was fought on 21 April near the small village of Panipat, in the present day Indian state of Haryana, it is an area that has been the site of a number of decisive battles for the control of Northern India since the twelfth century.

babur

It is calculated that Babur’s forces numbered around 15,000 men and had between 20 to 24 pieces of field artillery. Babur estimated Lodi had around 100,000 men, though that number included camp followers,  the fighting force was around 30,000 to 40,000 men in total, along with at least 1000 war elephants.

Background 

After losing Samarkand (Uzbekistan)  for the second time, Babur gave attention to conquer Hindustan as he reached the banks of the Chenab in 1519. Until 1524, his aim was to only expand his rule to Punjab, mainly to fulfil his ancestor Timur”s legacy, since it used to be part of his empire.

Background  panipat battle

At that time, most of North India was under the rule of Ibrahim Lodhi of the Lodi Dynasty, but the empire was falling apart and there were many defectors. He received invitations from Daulat Khan Lodi, Governor of Punjab and Ala-ud-Din, uncle of Ibrahim. He sent an ambassador to Ibrahim, claiming himself the rightful heir to the throne of the country, however the ambassador was detained at Lahore and released months later. 

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Babur started for Lahore, Punjab, in 1524 but found that Daulat Khan Lodi had been driven out by forces sent by Ibrahim Lodi. When Babur arrived at Lahore, the Lodi army marched out and was routed. In response, Babur burned Lahore for two days, then marched to Dipalpur, placing Alam Khan, another rebel uncle of Lodi’s, as governor. 

Alam Khan was quickly overthrown and fled to Kabul. In response, Babur supplied Alam Khan with troops who later joined up with Daulat Khan Lodi and together with about 30,000 troops, they besieged Ibrahim Lodi at Delhi. He defeated them and drove Alam’s army off; and Babur realised Lodi would not allow him to occupy the Punjab.
Battle—

After hearing of the size of Ibrahim’s army, Babur secured his right flank against the city of PANIPAT while digging a trench covered with tree branches to secure his left flanks. In the centre, he placed around 700 carts tied together with ropes.

Between every two carts, there were breastworks for his Matchlock  men. Babur also ensured that there was enough space for his soldiers to rest their guns and fire Babur referred to this method as the “Ottoman device” due to its previous use by the OTTOMANS  during the battle of chaldiran.

When Ibrahim’s army reached , he found the approach to Babur’s army too narrow to attack. While Ibrahim redeployed his forces to allow for the narrower front, Babur quickly took advantage of the situation to flank the Lodi army.  Many of Ibrahim’s troops were unable to get into action, and fled when the battle turned against them. Ibrahim Lodi was killed while trying to retreat and beheaded. 20,000 Lodi soldiers were killed in battle.

Benefit of cannons in the battle

Benefit of cannons in the battle

Babur’s guns proved decisive in battle, firstly because Ibrahim lacked any field artillery, but also because the sound of the cannon frightened Ibrahim’s elephants, causing them to trample his own men. Babur introduced field guns at Panipat, 1526. Strategies used by Babur were the tulguhma and the araba. Tulguhma meant dividing the whole army into various units, viz. the Left, the Right, and the Centre.

The Left and Right divisions were further subdivided into Forward and Rear divisions. Through this, a small army could be used to surround the enemy from all sides. The Centre Forward division was then provided with carts (araba) which were placed in rows facing the enemy and tied to each other with animal hide ropes.

Behind them were placed cannons protected and supported by mantlets  which could be used to easily operation the cannons. These two tactics made Babur’s artillery lethal. The cannons could be fired without any fear of being hit, as they were shielded by the bullock carts held in place by hide ropes. The heavy cannons could also be easily traversed onto new targets, as they could be manoeuvred by the mantlets which were on wheels.

Consequences—

first battle of panipat result

Ibrahim Lodi died on the field of battle along with 20,000 of his troops. The battle of Panipat was militarily a decisive victory for Timurids. Politically it gained Babur new lands, and initiated a new phase of his establishment of the long-lasting mughal Empire in the heart of the Indian subcontinent.

The First Battle of Panipat resulted in the death of Ibrahim Lodi and also the end of Lodi Dynasty and the Delhi Sultanate in India. Also, with the end of the Sultanate, the Mughal rule began in India. Panipat, a part of modern-day Hariyana, has been a land of many important battles in the history of India and also the land that fought the maximum battles for rule over the Northern part of India. The Second and Third battles of PANIPAT were also one among the greatest battles fought in the history of the country.

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