Friday, January 14, 2011

Battle of the Black Mango Tree - 14 January 1761

Today marks the 250th anniversary of the Third Battle of Panipat. The battle lead to a power vacuum that allowed the British to gain sway over the sub continent, particularly as French attempts at an Indian empire ended the following day at Pondicherry.

Afghan foot by Foundry

The Third Battle, also known as the Battle of the Black Mango Tree (due to the fact that so much blood was spilt it turned the tree and fruit black),  was fought between the Afghan army (75,000) under Ahmad Shah and the Marathas (80,000) under Sadashivrao Bhau. Ahmad Shah won it but with a very heavy casualties on both sides. 30,000 Marathas were killed in the battle and another 20,000 after it. It resulted in Ahmad Shah being incapable of maintaining his presence in north India and the Marathas, although holding sway over the north, a comparatively weak power. 

Illustrative of the fickleness of Indian alliances the Moghul horse, present as an ally of the Marathas, remained uncommitted until seeing how the battle progressed. It promptly charged the Maratha cavalry being lead by Bhau, routing it and killing him.

Articles on this battle appear in Wargames Illustrated 32, Miniature Wargames #117 and Mike Kirby's The Campaigns In India During The Seven Years War.

Persian guard cavalry in Afghan service

Map from Wargames Illustrated

Kipling even wrote  a poem about the battle called With Scindia to Delhi.

More Afghan foot

Next is a video from the (mid 90s?)  Indian  TV series 'The Great Marathas.' It is said to show "heart touching dialog between Maratha commander in chief Shimant sadashiveraobhau and Ibrahimkhan gardi during the Third Battle of Panipat."

Don't bother with watching it past the first minute and two seconds. Other than the artillery fire from wheel to wheel artillery and Bhau on elephant there isn't much to hold your attention unless you speak Hindi. Some may say there isn't that much to grab your attention even with the artillery and elephant!

The First Battle of Panipat was fought on 21 April 1526 between Ibrahim Lodhi, Sultan of Delhi, and the Timurid warlord, Babur. Babur's force defeated Ibrahim's much larger force of over one lakh (one hundred thousand) soldiers.

The Second Battle was fought on 5 November 1556 between the forces of Akbar and Hemu, the Hindu King of North India, who had captured Agra and Delhi. Hemu had won 22 battles against the Afghans between 1553–1556 and had established the Hindu Raj. Hemu appeared to be winning thiis battel when he was struck by an arrow in the eye. His troops fled and he was captured and beheaded.


  1. Good looking stuff - just goes to show you don't need Europeans to have a dust up on the subcontinent.

  2. Sorry I missed this post earlier. The Afghans are superbly painted. The Persian Guard looks great too. Dean