Elephant War History: Elephant Course
Homeland of war elephants
The inhabitants of Hindustan were the first to tame elephants - and the first to send them to war. According to Indian sculptures and drawings, historians recreate the evolution of tactics: if the most ancient Indian commanders simply set dozens of elephants against the enemy, then from the middle of the XNUMXst millennium BC. e. there is a tradition to use these animals as a central combat unit, which needs reinforcements and a convoy - like aircraft carriers or tanks in modern wars. In India, they began to protect elephants with armor - first with woven blankets, and by the XNUMXth – XNUMXth centuries and full armor.
The Persians in the strategy of using elephantiary were, perhaps, even more inventive than the Indians, but they were most unlucky with their opponents: history remembers two famous battles involving war elephants, and after both the corresponding Persian states ceased to exist. In the battle of Gavgamelah, the elephants of King Darius could not repel the attack of the hoplites of Alexander the Great, and the defeat was the end of the Achaemenid state. A thousand years later, while fighting with Qadisia with Persians from the Sassanid dynasty, the Arabs guessed to cut the leather cinch by which the towers were fastened to the elephant's backs. Structures fell and broke, and the next day the Persians were left without elefantria. So they lost the decisive battle, and the territory of the kingdom came under the control of the Arabs.
Fire and sword
In medieval China, elephants were sometimes used in hostilities, but only as long as the forests where wild elephants were caught did not give way to cities and arable lands. The inhabitants of the ancient Chinese kingdoms did not seem to differ in their special talent for training, therefore they used rude tactics: in the chronicle of the Chu kingdom of the era of the Fighting Kingdoms, for example, it is told how soldiers tied burning sticks to elephant tails. In a panic, the elephants rushed forward and trampled on the army of the kingdom U.
Elephant - friend, ally and brother
The peoples living in the territory of modern Thailand (formerly the kingdom of Siam), with elephants have a special relationship. Elephants participated in all military conflicts in Siam from antiquity to the middle of the XIX century. If in the countries where these animals were exotic, they were usually thrown on infantry and cavalry, in Southeast Asia, where elephantery was part of every self-respecting army, a special type of battle arose - a duel riding elephants. Especially for them, in Niao, a curved blade on a long wooden handle was invented in Siam. Crocheted, ngao in the intervals between fierce bouts served as a driver's cane.
Apart from Rome saved by geese, Thailand is the only country in the world that owes its independence to animals: on the backs of war elephants, Siamese soldiers at the end of the 16th century expelled the Burmese invaders from the country. The strategy was as follows: elephants with drovers and an infantry corps protecting the soft elephant underbelly during the battle were hidden in the jungle, and small cavalry or foot troops lured the enemy directly to the edge.
According to legend, in one of the battles of that war, the Siamese Jeanne d'Arc, Queen Suryotai, died: she accompanied her husband to the war and saved his life by sending her elephant to the elephant of the Burmese commander. The enemy pierced the queen with sharp ngao, but the king was saved.
The feat of Queen Suriotai did not affect the course of the war; the confrontation between the kingdoms of Siam and Burma lasted another three hundred years and ended only after Burma became an English colony. Siam, who never knew the power of the colonial administration, stopped the war, and all the elephants from the fighting turned into peace. Now, armed Ngao people riding elephants are lovers of historical reconstruction: in Thailand there are several historical clubs whose members understand the intricacies of military action involving elephantery.
- Anastasia Shartogasheva
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