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Battle of Karnal

November 1, 2017 0 Comment


It was during the 1730’s Nader Shah had conquered east Afghanistan, invaded through Peshawar and Kabul, he moved towards the Mughal capital, that is, Delhi. At that time Muhammad Shah gathered a large force at Delhi and moved towards the north but his army stopped at Karnal.  Karnal was in the north of Delhi. Many Mughal forces and war elephants went to visit Nader Shah and his army.

The Mughal army was very large in number. Their front exceeded 3.2km in length and it was the same in depth as well. They maintained this number because Nader’s army was very regimented and controlled. The Mughal army could easily match the number of Nader’s forces.

The Persians, that is, Nader’s army waited for the Mughal army to come close to them. After they came close, Nader’s army started attacking them with continuous gunfire. The elephants helped the army to easily target at the Mughal forces. The battle continued fiercely.

The Chief Commander of the Mughal army Khan Dauran and Sa’adat Khan were lost. Dauran died the next day of the battle because he was seriously injured and badly wounded. Meanwhile, Sa’adat Khan became a prisoner to the Persians as he was pulled from his elephant in which he was fighting. The battle was only for three hours. After the battle there was a break in the Mughal line and their soldiers rushed to their camps.

Nader’s army captured Muhammad Shah and then moved to the capital city and looted it. They went back to Persia but took the capital city’s all of the precious metals and jewels.

The throne was still maintained by Muhammad Shah but the consequences which took place because of the battle at Karnal destroyed the Mughal Empire. They lost the prestige they had maintained these years after losing the battle against the Persians.

Entry of Nader Shah’s army and his previous conquests

East Afghanistan was conquered by Nader Shah. His invasion took place through Kabul and Peshawar. After that his army was moving towards the south. The Mughal Capital, Delhi was in the south. Muhammad Shah saw Nader Shah’s army coming towards Delhi.

He already knew that Nader Shah had conquered many areas. His conquests of these areas took place in a series. This worried Muhammad Shah in Delhi. So he gathered a large force to fight against them. Muhammad’s army was moving out of Delhi and going to the north side.

They even asked help from the military forces of the north. Thus, Muhammad Shah’s army was huge in number. He also joined the army. But when they were moving toward the north, the army could not go ahead of Karnal. This was because his army was large in number. Karnal was in the north 120 kilometres from Delhi.

In order to fight against the Persians almost three lakh soldiers went by the order of Muhammad Shah. They had three thousand guns and two thousand war elephants. This should be the size of Muhammad’s army. But the three lakh soldiers, three thousand guns and two thousand war elephants did not help them in the battle. The weapons could not be used properly by the soldiers.

Even though they had all the war material and tactics, they could not fight against the Persians. The guns which Muhammad’s army had were very large and heavy. The guns took a lot of time to reload which delayed to fight in the battle. While, Nader’s army weapons were lighter compared to Muhammad’s army weapons. They were also more manoeuvrable.

His army was better drilled, sorted and organized than Muhammad’s army. This army was twenty thousand in number. The Mughal army, that is, Muhammad’s army had almost fifty thousand cavalry contingent. But their military structure was not right and proper so that they could be used in the battle.

While the Persians had a proper military structure. They were divided into two. One troop was trained in a uniform manner while the other troop was put in the Imperial army.

Nader Shah wanted to gather information by asking questions from the prisoners. This is why he sent his six thousand Kurdish soldiers to get those prisoners back so that he could ask questions from them for various reasons.

These Kurdish soldiers attacked the army who were in the Mughal military and they even brought back many soldiers from there. Nader left the main head of his army and put his son, Morteza Mirza in-charge of it. Then, he took a few of his army and moved on to Azimabad.

It was an old fortress and Karnal was just thirty two kilometres from it. This old fortress was broken down by the guns of the Persian army. Then, he found one leader of Kurds. This leader led the six thousand scouts of Kurds. These scouts were very strong.

From the leader he came to know about the entire geographical location in and around of Karnal. He also got to know in which areas of the Mughal army, the army was strong.

He found out their strengths as well. This is why he chose a place and kept his armies to the east of the place where the Mughal army had their camps. He decided such a place so that it was from their camp and Muhammad Shah comes out to battle against him in the place he wanted.

The Ultimate Battle

It was 23rd February, Nader Shah’s army went to the valley which was present between the Jamna and Alimardan rivers. They camped towards the north of Kanipura village. Then Nader himself went to find out what was his opponent’s position. When he came back he received news from a big army of the Mughals. This army was coming all the way from Panipat. The leader of this army was Sa’adat Khan.

He came there so that they could join the army of Muhammad Shah. Sa’adat Khan had a high rank in the statesman of the Mughal Empire. He was also a close friend of Muhammad Shah. When Nader Shah came to know about the purpose of Sa’adat Khan coming to him, he made a strategy.

This strategy was made so that he could draw in the main army of the Mughal Empire near Alimardan river and towards the valley which came before Kanipura. This was where he wanted to make the battle more fierce. Sa’adat Khan came to the camp of Mughal army. But his entire army was still on the way.

The next day that is on the 24th of February, Nader Shan made his army’s division into three. Morteza Mirza headed the army which was in the centre. This army was place in the north of Kanipura towards the west side. He was helped by some seniors which stayed with him.

Then to the north of Morteza, the army was headed by Tahmasp Khan Jalayer. This was the right side of the army.  In the south two people headed the army. They were Lotf-Ali Khan Afshar and Fath-Ali Kiani. After this, Sa’adat Khan received news that someone had attacked his column. By the time he reached the camp, still his major part of the army had not reached yet.

He did not ask any advice from Muhammad Shah or some other commanders. He took his war elephant and went to that column which was attacked. Soon his army joined him. He occupied the alone Persian army close by. He felt he had upper hand in the battle.

So, he sent reports about it and also for more reinforcements so that he could win. But in the camp it was not sure to send reinforcements or not. Muhammad wanted to join Sa’adat but his advisers asked him not to and warned him. The reinforcements went towards the Alimardan river to join the army.

But the Mughals had already settled there so it was not possible to join all of them together because of the huge number. But the Mughals who were in the front got help from these reinforcements.

Nader Shan realized that Sa’adat Khan was coming towards them. So he decided to send zamburaks so that the enemy could be fired in the starting. Then more high units were place near Kanipura. These units were helped by zamburaks as well.

After this he sent two of his units so that they could divert the Mughal army which was coming towards them. Then he sent the other unit to divert the path of Khan Dowran. This plan worked out as Dowran’s army was led away and Sa’adat’s army went towards the east without getting the reinforcements. Nizam-ul-Mulk started to form his army near the Alimardan river so that he could help the other army.

Nader Shah’s army wait came to an end as Sa’adat’s army came with the  muskets and guns. The Persian army fired at them. But they were able to pressurize the Persian army. Then Nader placed his army at Kanipura. The Mughals were surprised by seeing the Persian army suddenly there. Nader’s army started firing at them and finally they were caught in the hands of the Persian army.

The heavy firing killed many people and even cross the armour of the war elephants. Dowran fell from his elephant at this point of time and was seriously wounded. While the army, which was headed by Jalayer, finished the left army of Sa’adat from the north. Both the armies were continuously fighting.

Suddenly Sa’adat’s war elephant got disheveled and he had to surrender because one of the Persian soldier went towards Sa’adat. Slowly the Mughal army started to become less. Some of them even ran away back to the camp. Nader’s army stopped at a place which was out of Mughal army’s range. Nader again placed his army near the valley in the east. There were Mughal soldiers behind the river could not fight because it became devastating for them.

Nader’s victory could be seen. He sent some of his soldiers near the Mughal army’s camp so that he could block the lines from Muhammad’s camp. The Mughal army lost all hopes when they came to know that Dowran had died and Sa’adat Khan was captured.

Loss and Consequences of the Battle

Both the armies suffered a great loss. But the loss was higher for the Mughal army. There were no exact figures about many people died from Mughal army. But Nader’s army could say approximately how many people they had finished. It was found that there were fewer casualties from the Mughal army.

They had lost most of their leaders and soldiers. This defeat of the Mughal army brought down whatever confidence they had. They did not have the discipline anymore like before. They did not have to fight anymore and they stole their own camp.

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