From the Memoirs of Baber (c.1529)

Introduction: Zahir ed-din Baber (1483-1531), a prince of Ferghana (Uzbekistan), was vanquished and expelled by the Uzbeks and then captured Kabul from where he set out to conquer India. He defeated the much larger army of Ibrahim Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi, at Panipat in 1526. His efficient use of field artillery enabled him to establish a „gunpowder empire“ like that of the Ottomans of Turkey and the Safavids of Persia. His grandson, Akbar, extended and consolidated this empire. At the end of his life, Baber wrote fascinating memoirs which provide glimpses of  his methods of warfare.

(see also AHOI, Ch. 5, section: Sticking to his guns: the secret of Baber’s success)
(the battle of Panipat)

.... By the time of early morning prayers, when the light was such that you could distinguish one object from another, notice was brought from the advanced patroles that the enemy were advancing, drawn up in order of battle. We too immediately braced our helmets and our armour, and mounted....

            When the enemy first came in sight, they seemed to bend their force against the right division. I therefore detached Abdal-aziz who was stationed with the reserve, to reinforce the right. Sultan Ibrahim’s army from the time it first appeared in sight, never made a halt, but advanced right upon us, at a quick pace. When they came closer ... they stood for a while, as if considering:“Shall we halt or not? Shall we advance or not?“ They could not halt, and they were unable to advance with the same speed as before. I sent orders to the troops stationed as flankers on the extremes of the right and the left divisions, to wheel around the enemy’s flank with all possible speed, and instantly to attack them in the rear; the right and left divisions were alo ordered to charge the enemy. The flankers accordingly wheeled around the enemy and began to make discharges of arrows on them..... Ustad Ali Kuli also discharged his guns (feringiha) many times in front of the line to good purpose. Mustafa, the cannoneer, on the left of the centre managed his artillery with great effect. The right and left division, the centre and flankers having surrounded the enemy and taken them in the rear, were now engaged in hot conflict, and busy pouring discharges of arrows on them. They made one or two very poor charges on our right and left division. My troops, making use of their bows, plied them with arrows and drove them in upon their centre, being huddled together in one place, such confusion ensued, that the enemy while totally unable to advance, found also no road by which they could flee. The sun had mounted spear-high when the onset of the battle began, and the combat lasted till mid-day, when the enemy were completely broken and routed and my friends victorious and exulting. By the grace and mercy of Almighty God, this arduous undertaking was rendered easy for me, and this mighty army in the space of half a day, laid in the dust. Five or six thousand men were discovered lying slain, in one spot, near Ibrahim.... On reaching Agra, we found, from accounts of the natives of Hindustan, that forty or fifty thousand men had fallen in this field........

(Ustad Alik Kuli’s gun foundry)

I had directed Ustad Ali Kuli to cast a large cannon, for the purpose of battering Biana, and some other places which had not submitted. Having prepared the forges and all the necessary implements, he sent a messenger to give me notice that everything was ready......Around the place where it was to be cast were eight forges, and all the implements in readiness. Below each forge they had formed a channel, which went down to the mould in which the gun was to be cast. On my arrival they opened the holes of all the different forges. The metal flowed down by each channel in a liquid state, and entered the mould. After waiting some time, the flowing of the melted metal from the various forges ceased, one after another before the mould was full. There was some oversight either in regard to the forges or the metal. Ustad Ali Kuli was in terrible distress, he was like to throw himself into the melted metal that was in the mould. Having cheered him up and given him a dress of honour, we contrived to soften his shame. Two days after, when the mould was cool, they opened it. Ustad Ali Kuli, with great delight, sent a person to let me know that the chamber of the gun for the shot was without a flaw, and that it was easy to form the powder chamber. Having raised the bullet-chamber of the gun, he set a party to work to put it to rights, while he betook himself to completing the powder chamber.

(the campaign against Rana Sangha of Mewar)

..... There being a large tank on our left, I encamped there to have the benefit of water. We fortified the guns in front, and connected them by chains. Between every two guns we left a space of seven or eight gez (1 gez= c.15 feet) which was defended by a chain. Mustafa Rumi had disposed the guns according to the Rumi fashion (Rumi= Ottoman). He was extremely active, intelligent and skilful in the management of artillery. As Ustad Ali Kuli was jealous of him, I stationed Mustafa in the right with Humayun. In the places where there were no guns, I caused the Hindustani and Khorasani pioneers to run a ditch. .....In order to reassure my troops, and add to the apparent strength of my position, wherever there were no guns, I directed things like tripods to be made of wood, and the spaces between each of them being seven to eight gez to be connected and strengthened by bull’s hides twisted into ropes. Twenty or  twenty-three days elapsed  before these machines and furniture were finished........
On the day of Nouroz, I advanced my guns, and tripods that move on wheels, with all the apparatus and machines I had prepared, and marched forward with my army, regularly drawn up and divided into right and left wing and centre, in battle order. I sent forward in front the guns and tripods placed on wheel-carriages. Behind them was stationed Ustad Ali Kuli, with a body of his matchlock men, to prevent the communication between the artillery and infantry, who were behind, from being cut off, and to enable them to advance and form into line. After the ranks were formed and every man stationed in his place, I galloped along the line, animating the Begs and troops of the centre, right and left, giving each division special instructions of how they were to act, and to every man orders of how to conduct himself, and in what manner he was to engage, and having made these arrangements, I ordered the army to move on in order of battle for about a kos (1 kos= c. 2.2 miles/3.6 km), when we halted to encamp. .....
Next morning, I marched from that station, with the intention of offering battle, when Kalifeh and some of my advisers represented to me, that as the ground on which we had fixed for halting, was near at hand, it would be proper in the first place to throw up a ditch and to fortify it, after which we might march forward and occupy the position. Khalifeh accordingly mounted to give directions about the ditch, and rejoined us after having set pioneers to work on the different parts of it, and appointed proper persons to superintend their progress.
On Saturday... having dragged forward our guns, and advanced our right, left and centre in battle array for nearly a kos, we reached the ground that had been prepared for us. ..... when news was brought that the enemy’s army was at sight, I immediately mounted .....
            ... and as the combat and battle were drawn out to length and extended in time, the mandate worthy of obedience was issued, when straightway the bold warriors of the imperial household troops and the rending warriors, united in mind, who were standing behind the cannon like lions in chains ... caused many of the heads of the rebels to fly like falling stars...; and the miracle of the time, Ustad Ali Kuli ....discharged  huge bullets of such size, that if one of them were thrown ... against a rooted hill or a lofty mountain, it would drive them from their foundation liked teazed wool.... And at the moment while these events were passing, the fireman worthy to be obeyed, was given to drag forward the guns in the centre....The blackness of the dust spreading over the sky like dark clouds raced back and  forward over all the plain, while the flashing of the gleaming of the sword within exceeded the glancing of lightning, so that the face of the sun, like the back of a mirror, was void of light.

(Memoirs of Zahir ed-din Baber, transl. byJohn Leyden and William Erskine (London,1826) pp. 304-307, 343 f., 353 f., 358, 355)


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