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8

War Elephants in the west were a military fad that started with Alexander the Great's encounter with them at the battle of Gaugamella. They became popular for a while, but their ineffectiveness for Hannibal at Zama 113 years later spelled the beginning of the end for the fad. The extinction of the Syran and North African species iced it. By the beginning of ...


8

There is some evidence that among the reasons for Alexander's army not wanting to march (and their subsequent widthdrawl) post their victory against King Porus was strong battalion of elephants (6000 as per one Plutarch's records) which Nandas could deploy. See Plutarch for example. Elephants were also an important factor in military conquests of the ...


7

Both of the following accounts are from Polybius. At the Battle of Tunis, Xanthippus used his elephants to charge the Roman line. While some of the Romans avoided the elephants to charge the Carthaginian right and the formation held due to its depth, those at the front were trampled. The Romans were later flanked by cavalry and the elephants also accounted ...


7

One theory from Delbrueck: Hannibal wanted to win the battle with his infantry, which was superior to the Romans, and distract the Roman cavalry. Therefore, he wanted the cavalry clash to happen first, the idea being that his cavalry would be routed, the Roman cavalry would pursue them and be out of the battle, and he could start the infantry battle. ...


6

The battle of Zama was a seesaw fight for much of the battle. The result of a Roman victory resulted largely from the "fortunes of war." The Carthaginians had more infantry, the Romans more cavalry, but the Carthaginians hoped to turn their elephants to their advantage. This didn't work, because the Roman Scipio, suspecting that the elephants could only ...


3

Generally they were used as as shock and awe (read: point and charge) cavalry would have been. Of course, (horse) cavalry is much more versatile but did not have the same fear factor as elephants. They would sit on one flank and move to attack the side of the enemy's phalanx where they would do the most damage. Clearly, this was a dangerous tactic since ...


3

I'm looking at the list of battles involving war elephants The Battle of Ipsus wikip page, a conflict between some of the successor states of Alexander the great, has an interesting passage on elephant-cavalry interactions: "The ancient sources repeatedly emphasise the effect of elephants on horses, which are alarmed by the smell and noise of elephants and ...


3

Elephants had gone extinct in Egypt by about 2600 B.C. or so, plus or minus a few centuries. So for a very long time there was no native elephants for Egyptians to use. It is theoretically possible that the Pharaohs might have imported some for military purposes, but I'm not really seeing any sign of this. Regardless, by the time Ptolemy I established ...


2

Overall, I tend to concur with your estimate that the elephants usually proved to be more of a liability than an asset. However, they did have some successes. Two examples are: the Battle of Ipsus which was decided by a judicious deployment of an elephant reserve and the "Elephant Battle" in which Antiochus I routed the Galatians - I couldn't find a ...


2

It's tempting to think of war elephants as some kind of super cavalry, but in reality they were far from that. War elephants were unpredictable and hard to control. At times they were as dangerous to your own troops as they were to the enemy. They were primarily a psychological weapon and used as such. You line them up and send them running at the enemy ...


1

Both Scipio Africanus: Greater Than Napoleon by Basil Liddell Hart and The Punic Wars by Adrian Goldsworthy are good sources. Alternatively, wikipeadia... In a nut shell: superior tactics and strategy.


1

War elephants were constantly used in south Asia for over 2000 years. the last use was by Thai and Vietnamese forces in the late 1800s. Use of elephants for logistics continued into the 20th century. Some rulers had thousands of war elephants. Either elephants made important contributions to victory for thousands of years or every southern Asian ...



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