War elephants were a strong, although also not widespread, war weapon in military history. It concerns primarily Indian elephants, more rarely around African, which were manned and prepared for war purposes.Excluding male animals were trained to war elephants, since this faster and more aggressive than the female animals are. War elephants could to be carried differently equipped soldiers as for example for elbow contactors , lance carriers or Speerwerfer. The war elephants had besides on armies, which could not do them, a deterring anddisconcerting effect. Above all however they represented a weapon by their weight also, by down-trampling the enemy. The latter was in the army Karthagos the only purpose of the war elephants, since these were ridden by only one man, whose task was it, thatAnimal to steer (which does not exclude naturally that these additionally e.g. with Wurfspeeren one equipped). That is probably because of the fact that the Karthager used the comparatively small African forest elephants. The original war elephants in the old India seem to have been ridden however at least by an additional Krieger.For the elephants, which became in the armies of the diadochi, which successors Alexanders of the large one fought, a small “tower” from wood and leather conceived, which were fastened on the back of the animal. This should accept originally two, later up to four fighters.
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first Elefantenzähmungen took place in the early Indus culture before approximately 4000 years. Elephants except for few exceptions do not becomereally domestiziert, but always in free game course caught and gezähmt. This lies particularly in slow growth and the large fodder need justified by elephants. For this reason also no real breed of elephant races took place. First Elefantenzähmungen became for the application in the agriculture inIndia transacted. The first use from elephants to war purposes found approximately around 1100 v. Chr. instead of and becomes for the first time in old Sanskrit - hymns mentions.
From India the elephants were imported into the Perserreich and inserted in several campaigns. It is considered as probable that Europeans for the first timein the battle of Gaugamela at the 1. October 331 v. Chr., in the Alexander the large one against the Perser fought, on war elephants met. It concerned fifteen animals, which were stationed in the center of the Persian lines. The elephants made a so large impressionon the Macedonian troops that Alexander saw itself forced to sacrifice the God of the fear at the night before the battle. The battle became Alexanders largest success, the war elephants however played here no large role. In run away its Perserzugs recognized Alexander however the usefrom war elephants and such integrated also into its army. Alexander already large experience in handling war elephants had five years later in the battle at the Hydaspes and could the battle, even if without own elephants, for itself to decide here.
The knowledge over the militaryUse of war elephants spread fast over the world at that time. The successors Alexanders (diadochus) had in their wars already hundreds of elephants: Seleukos I. locked a contract with the Mauryakönig Chandragupta, that it in response for some disputed territories 500 war elephantsleft. At all the elephants became a popular weapon in the brightistic world. The Ptolemäer in Egypt used African elephants.
The African elephant is larger and stronger than the Indian one, but it is also more difficult to zähmen. They became however in the battle ofRaphia assigned, where Antiochos III. 102 Indian war elephants and Ptolemaios IV. 73 African war elephants used. Possibly it concerned thereby in addition, the smaller African forest elephants. The latters were used also by the army Karthagos in the Puni wars.
In the next centuries war elephants foundalso in the war against the Roman realm use. The first meeting of Rome with war elephants found 280 v. in the battle of Heraclea. Chr. instead of. The most famous field gentleman, who used war elephants against Rome, was the Karthager Hannibal. It could provide thereby crucial advantages. Famousbecame in this connection above all the crossing of the alps Hannibals with the elephants in the year 218 v. Chr.. In Hannibals of last battle, the battle of Zama in the year 202 v. Chr. it became however clear that the elephants of the Karthager before the fanfaresthe Roman war trumpets shrank from. Besides their employment was ineffective, since the Romans lanes for the elephants educated and were down-trampled thus only few soldiers. 156 years later, in the battle with Thapsus to 6. February 46 v. Chr., Julius Caesar armed its Legio VAlaudae with axes and gave instruction to hit the legs of the animals. The Legion was victorious and selected from now on the war elephant to its coat of arms animal. The battle with Thapsus was the last large use of war elephants in Europe.
Plinius the older one reports in its respectedBook (VIII 1.27) that pigs are an effective weapon against war elephants, since the elephants let themselves be frightened by the Quieken. A FE storage of the city Megara terminated, as the inhabitants of pigs with oil poured over, this into fire were in such a way and the burning, quiekenden pigs inthe opposing war elephants hunted. The elephants came into panic.
In late ancient times set, then Ammianus Marcellinus partly reports, the Sassaniden to us war elephants. In the Middle Ages however nearly no war elephants were used, since the Europeans also hardly came with troops in this connection equipped into contact. Karlthe large one rode a gift of the Kalifen of Bagdad, in its campaign on a war elephant, Abul Abbas, against the Danes in the year 804. Friedrich II. could seize during the crusades of a war elephant, which remained later in the city Cremona.
The use of war elephants placedagain and again an outstanding memory in history. Thus the birth Mohammeds is measured for example after the year of the elephant - on the Arab peninsula until Mekka to the year, as African (aksumitische ) war elephants pulled.
On the Indian Subkontinent war elephants overcamea particularly long period to the employment. The elephants carried a wooden structure, the Howdah, which protected elbow contactors and Speerwerfer. The rider, Mahout mentioned, steered his elephant directly into the opposing troops. Until far into the early modern times inside Indian war elephants became by armsprotected, with which it often concerned a kind shed tank.
The use of war elephants by Indian sultanates terminated nearly the series of Timur Lenks conquests. In the year 1398 Timur of an army of over one hundred war elephants facedand lost nearly because of the bare fear of his troops. Timur could win only by a trick: it bound burning straw on the backs of its camels, which preschten into the lines of the Indian and whom elephants shifted in panic, which their own gentlemen down-trampled. Later usedTimur steer also extra large crow feet for defense against war elephants. It began in addition, own war elephants into its army to integrate and used these in the war against the Osmani realm .
it gives a whole set of purposes, for which war elephants can be used. By their size and Kraft are them able, heavy loadsto transport. In the battle they often formed the center of the own line, where they could be used effectively just as offensively as also defensively.
An attack by war elephants could reach a speed of 30 km/h, and left themselves - contrary to an attackalso from horses of existing Kavallerie - only very heavily by infantry with lances stop. Even the Macedonian Phalanx could come into large difficulties. Elephant attacks were based on pure force employment: the animals blew up the soldiers into the opposing lines, trampled down and changed with their trunkitself. The men, who did not down-trample or were not thrown to the side, were at least back-pushed, and the battle order of the opponent was sensitively disturbed. Besides the psychological aspect of an elephant starting on humans was not to be underestimated. Often panic among the soldiers broke out. Horses often shrank fromhowever already because of the unusual smell of elephants. The thick skin of the war elephants made it with difficulty hurtable, while the riders were well protected by the mass and height of the animals. Skin wounds, which developed dennoc, heal completely however after the battle more badly. Unfortunately elephants bend howeveralso to panic and Amok ran, if they were hurt or were killed their rider. Then they hurt often also the own rows. Experienced Roman infantry tried to separate often the trunks of the elephants, which caused an immediate panic with the animals. Often became alsoversucht, die Tiere durchGeplänkel im Vorfeld der Schlacht zu töten bzw. to shift in panic.
In the wars of the diadochi the war elephants were armored and carried wood superstructures, the so-called Howdah, on their back. They were occupied, frequent with two to four soldiers elbow contactorsand/or soldiers, who were armed with Sarissen, five to six meters long Piken. The smaller forest elephants of the Karthager were however too weak, in order to carry superstructures.
To the soldiers each elephant of a man became additional by means of a staff provided with a hooksteered. It is to have been responsible however not only for steering the animal, but carried also a Stemmeisen and a hammer with itself. The iron could be struck, if the elephant came into dangerous panic, in back Marks of the animal, around it on theseTo kill way fast.
War elephants are often compared with the tanks of the Second World War. Their tactical uses differ however so in principle that this comparison should not have existence.
a disappearing of the war elephants
above all zoo-logically caused disadvantages of the elephants led to it,that they were no longer effectively applicable in more modern wars. To differentiate between own and strange Kriegern they made their inability for battles of the outgoing antique ones and the Middle Ages beginning, in which it more rarely clear Phalanx - orders and more mobile small's groups gave, unsuitable, there oneit no more into a large accumulation of opponents to steer and rave let could not. Also a fast local change is not possible with them, because their perseverance is very many smaller with high activity than those of the horses. An elephant can about only two minutes longrun and is slower thereby than a horse.
In addition elephants are general no aggressive animals and can only by large hecticness and also abusing to destructive behaviors be brought. Elephant cows are not to be induced at all to kill humans too zertrampeln or with the trunkand also elephant bulls calm down after a rage accumulation fast again and stop then the fight, leave the Kampfgewühl or run away.
War elephants bring also logistic disadvantages with itself, because they must be able to spend daily many hours unimpaired with foods, during those them 150 to300 kg sheet work and branches to itself take, in order to cover their power requirement. The food had to be available locally. The use of force fodder such as grain pellet or sugar fruits is, different than with horses, possible with elephants due to its Verdauungsystems adjusted to cellulose only conditionally. Itis therefore heavy to shorten the resting and Fresszeiten with elephants substantially. Also herein a parallel is seen to the tanks of the modern times, because on one combat hour many maintenance hours often come.
Elephants are besides very susceptibly opposite Wundinfektionen, itself after the battle in moderateClimate stop. Schutzumhänge and armoring had therefore increasingly more complex to be manufactured and could not nevertheless not with the development of higher performance long-range weapons to keep up. The use of war elephants became with the use from black powders to military purposes in late 15. Century completely not possibly, there it itself througha shot of a Arkebuse or a cannon simply to defeat left.
As the most substantial point for disappearing the war elephants their small availability can be regarded. Raising and training lasts years and failed animals could, differently than horses, only slightly be replaced. Historical sources suggest thatthe elephants during the composition of the armies in the country of origin were together looked for, their number however in the course of the battles were always reduced. Therefore the fate of the horses remained saved to the elephant, which became millionfold in the wars of the modern times “used up”. It places today a symbolfor Kraft, Intelligenz and above all Friedfertigkeit.
an incomplete list of important battles, in which war elephants were used:
- 331 v. Chr., Battle of Gaugamela
- 326 v. Chr., Battle at the Hydaspes
- 317 v. Chr., Battle of Paraitakene
- 316 v. Chr., Battle of Gabiene
- 312 v. Chr., Battle of Gaza
- 301 v. Chr., Battle of Ipsos
- 280 v. Chr., Battle of Heraclea
- 279 v. Chr., Battle with Asculum
- 275 v. Chr., Battle with Beneventum
- 217 v. Chr., Battle of Raphia
- 202 v. Chr., Battle of Zama
- 190 v. Chr., Battle with magnesia
- 164 v. Chr., Battle with Beth to
- 46 v. Chr., Battle with Thapsus
war elephant in art and culture
- The jungle book of Rudyard Kipling contains equivalent two narrations, in which war elephants emerge, on the one hand of Toomai, the favourite of the elephants and servant of their majesty.
- In the master of the rings of J. R. R. Tolkien seem large war elephants, those to Mûmakil or Olifant there are called.
- Robin Lane Fox: Alexander the Great, Penguin Books, 2004, ISBN 0143035134.
- John Keegan: History OF of throwing acres, Pimlico, 2004, ISBN 184413749X.
- Adrian Goldsworthy: The case OF Carthage. The Punic Wars 265-146 UC., Cassell military, 2003, ISBN 0304366420.
- John Warry: Throwing acres OF the Classical World, University OF Oklahoma press, Paperbacks edition: 1995, ISBN 0-8061-2794-5
Web on the left of
- war elephants in Greek and Roman history (in English language)
- elephants in history and culture Sri Lankas (in EnglishLanguage)
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