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Elephants of Alexander the Great as Prototype of Modern Tanks - Coursework Example

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The paper «Elephants of Alexander the Great as Prototype of Modern Tanks” traces ingenious Greeks’ warfare technique from the Alexander’s period until the Roman Empire’s rise. Being a terrific tool of death in capable hands, in an unfavorable terms elephants turned their power against their troops…
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Elephants of Alexander the Great as Prototype of Modern Tanks
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Download file to see previous pages When army of Alexander the Great confronted the army of Porus, their elephants had already been outfitted with the additional tactical advantages of body armor and protected cover for armed riders who were free to hurl spears and shoot arrows from the elephant’s backs as they charged their enemies.  The elephants themselves were capable of trampling through enemy ranks, both killing and disorganizing formations while permitting their riders to wreak yet more havoc.  However, they also had the detrimental habit of being difficult to control, particularly in battle, and requiring a great deal of care and provisioning. 
In this first western battle facing elephants, Alexander used stall tactics to avoid meeting the monstrous beasts head-on and thus defeated the opposing army and gained elephants for his own forces, yet records regarding his own use of elephants in warfare remain relatively sketchy at best.  Most scholars suggest Alexander himself never used the elephant in war despite owning several that he had won in battle.  It was because of the use of war elephants on the part of enemy forces that Alexander’s army turned against him when he wanted to press further into the Indian lands, although they were required to fight several more battles against the elephant to gain their way out of India thanks to the route Alexander chose.  Their first battle in India, against a powerful rajah, Porus, at the River Jhelum (also referred to as Hydaspes in other sources) (Homberg, 2000), was waged with 200 elephants on the enemy side and, though the battle was won, Alexander’s army had suffered heavy casualties as a result of the elephant forces.  Rumors that yet more elephants awaited them further in the interior caused many of Alexander’s already tired and battle-weary soldiers to mutiny, insisting that the army turn for home.  Despite their fear of the animal, those generals following Alexander made tremendous use of the elephant in their wars following Alexander’s death and the elephant continued to play a part in warfare well into the Roman period.  The importance of the elephant question thus takes on a great significance. 
To understand the significance of the elephant in ancient warfare, it is necessary to trace what is known about the origins of their use, how they were trained and how they were used.  Transportation issues must have played a role in the feasibility of bringing these animals to war not only in getting them to the army and on the march, but also caring for them while in camp and provisioning them with the battle armor and other accoutrements they might require.  An examination of the nature of the beast, comparing the natures of African to Asian elephants and understanding the effect they had on other animals (and humans) in the military can help to further illustrate the relative merits of keeping the elephant within the militia.  The advantages and disadvantages of using elephants in the military may have had huge repercussions on the decisions of Alexander and those army generals who followed him regarding whether the animal should be employed.  After probing the available literature to determine whether and how Alexander used them himself, the much greater literature regarding how elephants were used in battle by subsequent generals and their effectiveness on the outcome might provide some clue as to whether or why Alexander may have used elephants in his own lifetime. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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