Medieval Armies DBA Page

Moslem Indian -- DBA 83b

By David Kuijt

Note: all images are thumbnails, and are clickable to see the larger original.

Moslem Indian Army

Composition of DBA Army #83b Moslem Indian (751 AD - 1526 AD)

The DBA options:


Elephants and escorts

Historical opponents listed for the Moslem Indians are Medieval Hindu (army #83a), Moslem Indian (#83b), and Timurid (#159b). Moslem Indian armies were involved in regular warfare against rival Moslem and Hindu kingdoms; the military expeditions of Kaljis into southern India from 1296-1311 are just one of the larger examples.

Timur invaded in 1398 and shattered the power of the Delhi sultanate, the most powerful of the Moslem sultanates in India. In the major battle outside Delhi Timur faced elephants for the first time; his answer was to use a force of camels with brush tied to their backs, set alight to charge into the ranks of the elephants. This ruse was successful. If you wish to recreate this as a variant, I would suggest replacing the Timurid elephant element with one of Stampeding Camels (use the same stats as Stampeding Cattle, i.e. treat it as a Scythed Chariot).

The enemies list for the Moslem Indians should also include the Mongols (#154) and Ilkhanid (#159a). The Mongols (army #154) fought several battles in Northern India in 1241 and 1245. (They dismounted many of their skirmishing cavalry to face elephants, so for such battles the Mongols should take the 4x 4Bw option.) The Mongol Ilkhans (Ilkhanid, #159a) controlling Persia attacked into northern India a number of times from 1292 to 1305, and later in 1322 and 1329. (After 1330 they were embroiled in a number of civil wars, and didn't raid into India again; their Khanate collapsed in 1355).

Speculative Enemies

In addition to the armies mentioned above, where conflicts demonstrably existed, there are a few possibilities for historical conflicts that are not mentioned. These are "reasonable" historical opponents for the Moslem Indians -- warfare could easily have occurred, even if it did not happen historically.

In the first few centuries of Islamic influence in northwestern India, Moslem Indian sultanates existed in Sind (the lower Indus) from around 750 AD, and in the upper Indus valley (Kashmir) by 1030 AD. Sind bordered the Abbasid Empire to their west; Sind and Kashmir both had borders with the successors to the Abbasids in Persia, the the Ghaznavids and Khwarizmians. Further, Kashmir had contact with the Ghuzz Turks in their north across the Hindu Kush. So it seems reasonable to allow speculative-historical battles between the Moslem Indians and Arab Imperial #100 (660 AD - 1090 AD), Ghaznavid #115 (962 AD - 1186 AD), Khwarizmian #146 (1186 AD - 1246 AD), and Ghuzz #94 (550 AD - 1330 AD). I'm not certain if the Turks who conquered Delhi and formed the Delhi sultanate in the first decade of 1200 would be more accurately described as a Ghuzz or Khwarizmian army; certainly one of the two.

On the eastern border, Moslem Indian armies expanded into Bengal (and contact with Burma) around 1200 AD. Although my casual reading of Indian history hasn't made me aware of any large conflicts on that border, conflict with the fragmented Burmese principalities would have been possible. In the three hundred years from the conversion of the Bengal region to Islam around 1200 until the end of the Moslem Indian and Burmese army periods in 1526 with the rise of the Moghuls, it is hard to believe that not a single battle was fought between a Burmese principality and an Indian one. The Burmese army is DBA #98.

The Mongol army of the Yuan chinese invaded Burma in 1293; it is conceivable that warlords of Moslem eastern India could have intervened. The Yuan army is represented by army #154 (Mongols), but should take the 4x 4Sp option to represent the numerous subject foot. This is more speculative, of course.

Although the Moslem Indians share a border with Tibet, that border is the roof of the world, and the slightly lower passes north of Bengal were not converted to Islam until a century or so after the end of the time period of the Tibetan army (list #97).

Moslem Jagir

Historical Notes

The initial expansion of Islam reached the Indus river around 750 AD, the starting period of the Moslem Indian army. Moslem Indian armies from 750 AD to 1030 AD would be from Sind (the lower Indus valley) or other cities along the Indus. Another expansion around 1030 AD brought northwestern India into the Moslem sphere as far as the headwaters of the Ganges and Delhi.

From 1206-1211 an invasion of Turks from across the Hindu Kush (what is now Afghanistan) took Delhi and formed the Delhi sultanate, which became the primary center of Moslem power in India. The Delhi sultanate spread Islam down the Ganges valley and into Bengal (now Bangladesh), creating a band of Moslem states across northern India.

The Delhi sultanate was involved in regular defensive warfare against the Mongols and their Persian successors the Ilkhans. There were three major periods of Mongol attacks against the Delhi sultanate and northern India. The first occured from 1241-1245; then again from 1292-1305; and another set 1322-1329.

In addition to defending itself against Mongol and Ilkhanid attacks, the Delhi sultanate attempted to increase its sway over other Moslem and Hindu cities and sultanates. Military invasions south under Kaljis from 1296 to 1311, and other efforts until 1327, brought much of central and eastern India temporarily under the sway of Delhi. Kaljis fought his way to the very southern tip of India, but could not permanently impose the Delhi sultanate so far, against a hostile population.

In spite of its apparent power, in much of India the territory ruled by the Delhi sultanate was a hegemony. Tribal chieftains and petty kings controlled military strongholds, which in turn dominated the countryside and important trade routes. The changing alliances and loyalties of these petty rulers caused the rise and fall of both Moslem and Hindu kingdoms. Warfare was endemic.

In 1398-1399, Timur invaded and shattered the power of the Delhi sultanate, and a number of independent sultanates emerged. India was a hodge-podge of such small kingdoms until the rise of the Moghul Empire in 1526.

Spear Command

Army Notes

The cavalry represents mostly Moslem jagir cavalrymen, with some royal guard mamluks. The cavalry of the Moslem Indian army was the primary offensive arm, unlike the Medieval Hindu army where the Elephants were considered the most important part of the army.

Elephant stands represent groups of elephants and their escorting infantry.

Spear: from my casual reading in the period, it isn't clear to me what the spear unit is supposed to represent. It may be that formed units of spear are part of the armies of Sind and Kashmir that represent the early history of Moslem India, before the formation of the Delhi sultanate.

The blade element represents Hindu swordsmen; the two longbow elements represent large bodies of Hindu archers. Even after the establishment of Islam in most of northern India, the bulk of the population was still Hindu in many areas.

Psiloi in this army could be Hindu javelinmen, Afghan archers, or even firework throwers and grenadiers. I've made the bulk of them Afghan archers, with one element of Hindu javelinmen.

Moslem Indian Cavalry

Notes on Tactics

The Moslem Indian army has a very strong blend of elements. Against historical opponents their single stands of blades and spear are very useful. None of their opponents have any heavy foot, so the blade is a dominant element. The spear is even more use, as it can form a rock of strength against enemy cavalry. In ahistorical matchups a single spear might be awkward. But the Moslem Indian's foes are cavalry, light horse, and bow armies with nary a knight in sight. And against them, the single spear element is very nice. Further, both the blade and spear can gain from psiloi back-rank support against enemy mounted.

The primary problem of the Indians is their variety. They have heavy foot, light foot, elephants, and cavalry. The elephants eat up pips and may slow the whole line down. Without continuing focus on simple objectives, the Indians can drown in a morass of options. Try everything and you will succeed at nothing.

The psiloi are a perfect example of the dilemma of flexibility that the Indians have. Three psiloi is a very convenient, multi-option force. They can march with the main battle line, ready to assist the blade or spear against mounted attacks. They can move forward to screen mounted against missile fire, or elephants from artillery. They can assault enemy elephants. And as a group of three they are strong enough to assault and take rough going against most armies. But if they try to do more than one or two of these things, they will fail.

The Moslem Indians have an army that can do just about anything. Against any one-trick army they will do well. Against mounted they have enough speed and hitting power in their cavalry to fight light-horse armies, and enough strength in their cavalry, longbow, elephant, and psiloi-backed heavy foot to beat cavalry armies or knights. Against foot armies their force mix is likewise good. Even their perennial enemy, the Medieval Hindu (#83a) with three elephant elements, can be answered with psiloi or psiloi-backed spear.

But even though they can do anything they want, they can't do everything they want to. It is important to have a conservative plan with your elephant. You will need to concentrate pips on it to move it; your pips will never be in plentiful supply. If your psiloi are fighting in bad going on one flank, you'll be short pips to move the elephant on the other flank. The danger with the Moslem Indian is not that they lack the tools to succeed in any plan; more that they can fall to an enemy with a simple, clear plan, while they are trying to do too many things.

Essex Elephant and Javelin Grumpy's Spear

Figure Notes

Most of the miniature figures shown are by Essex. The Spear element and one of the Psiloi elements (Afghan bowmen) are composed of Grumpy's figs.

Page created: December 5, 1998

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