What was the power of the Mughal army?
In this blog, we will discuss the most important weapons of the Mughal army which gave them a winning edge over the opponents. The Mughals come from Central Asia leading a small army which was nowhere in terms of sheer numbers in comparison to their adversaries, still, they won and could manage to rule over almost entire India we will inspect the reasons for the success of Mughal armies in India.
The most important component of the Mughal army was the horse-mounted archers. Worth special mention over here is the bow which was used by these archers.
Since ages these people living in Central Asia excelled in archery. The bow they made was very special not a large one but the way it was made was very different, several plates of wood were glued together and laced with leather and horns of animals. The string was made of catgut; the small bow had excellent elasticity and did not require much strength to bend it to its full draw.
Thus the mughal archers with not much effort could fire multiple arrows on their enemy while riding their horse. You can imagine the situation as a warrior with a modern assault rifle fighting an army of soldiers equipped with bolt action vintage rifles. Simply speaking the Indian armies had no answer for the ferocious and deadly array of archers mounted on the horses. Apart from the bow, they carried a special quiver and a bow case the “quiver” was tied up to the lap of the archer and in one go he was able to rain multiple arrows.
These arrows were small with barbed arrow heads. The arrows were laced with poison often sourced from vipers mixed with human blood and animal dung so the victim if was not going to die from the fatal wound will certainly die of the infection caused by the wound. The saddle of the horse mounted archers was also very special as it allowed them to ride the horse and use their bows and arrows at ease. The most important aspect was the training, these archers were very well trained and sure wreaked havoc on their enemies.
2. Mughal Guns-
The most important aspect of the Mughal army was the use of gun powder. After being invented by the Chinese hundreds of years earlier the artillery was first used by the Mughal King Babur in the first war of Panipat.
The booming guns were seen by the war elephants for the first time and they ran helter-skelter trampling their own armies in the ensuing havoc. The Mughal army of Baburwas led by a master artilleryman from ottoman known as “Ustad Ali Quli Khan”.
The artillery comprised of heavy guns which sure were huge pieces towed by hundreds of oxen and elephants. These massive guns were pride possession and were named with special names like Fateh-I-Lashker (Conqueror of the enemy army) or the Tiger mouth, these guns could fire the cannonballs weighing 225 and 315 pounds. The great gun of Agra also known as Dhun Dhuni was cast during the reign of Shahjahan weighed over 30 tons. It was measuring over fourteen feet in length, the diameter was more than five feet. It was such a massive gun that an 1835 painting shows a man resting in the muzzle of the gun.
Light artillery comprised of the smaller weaponry which could be mounted on the camels or elephants. The elephant carried guns were dismounted first and then fired while the camel mounted were fired while mounted these guns were called as “Zamburak” .
The best place to see all these weapons is the National museum situated in Delhi, You can surely visit the same on your Delhi tour while doing Delhi Agra Jaipur tour.
3. Mughal foot soldiers and their weaponry-
The smallest part of the Mughal army was the standing army probably Babur sourced his standing army from Afghanistan and India and the soldiers were mercenaries with an assurance of a percentage of loot money and a fixed salary. Later a system was coined and payroll and paymaster were involved.
The Mughal army had no regimental structure. The equipment of the standing army of foot soldiers were lances, swords, matchlock guns. The swords were of many kinds like- Khanda- A double-edged straight sword, shamsheer- A curved most commonly used as a sword. Gupti- a concealed weapon often disguised in walking sticks.
The matchlock was not a very trusted and dependable piece of equipment. They were heavy and not very accurate. These matchlock guns took lots of time to recharge and fire. These matchlock guns were known as “Turfangs”. The metal to make these swords were imported from Damishq (Damascus) this steel was low in carbon and thus made excellent blades of swords which never failed during the war.
On your Golden triangle tour when you will visit the City Palace museum in Jaipur,
You can see all these period weapons on display in the museum. The heavy and massive matchlock will surely amaze you and will leave you wondering how these were actually used in a war.