Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roaring Camels of Fire

ESCAPADE CATEGORY: Bizarre Battle Tactics from History

The year was 1398, the 60 year old military commander Tamerlane, or as he like to be called "The Scourge of God" has set his sights on Delhi. Tamerlane during his 35 years of campaigning, terrorized nations and peoples had a habit of leaving piles of skulls behind to warn his enemies. In one charming episode he launched severed heads via catapult at a fleet of ships coming to the rescue as he destroyed the Christian city of Smyrna in Modern Day Turkey. The scene of heads smashing against the ships and the knight's shields convinced them to flee.

One of his more imaginative tactics was at the Battle of Delhi in 1398, a tactic unlikely to be endorsed by PETA.

The Sultan of Delhi had a force of 120 War Elephants, clothed head to toe in Chain-mail armor and having gigantic swords fastened to their tusks. The force backed by infantry looked unbeatable, even to Tamerlane's seasoned army. Tamerlane realized that elephants were easily panicked. When the elephants charged toward his army he had a herd of camels driven in front of his lines. Piles of sticks and straw were fasted to their backs previously. The drivers lit fires on the camels backs and drove them toward the charging elephants. The camels were mad with panic and the pain of their burning flesh. They uttered horrible roars as they approached the oncoming Indian Army, hence the name of this tactic "Roaring Camels of Fire" The elephants freaked out and charged back into their lines and started tossing unlucky Indian infantry around like toys.

In the end Tamerlane sacked Delhi and left it a smoldering ruin, as he was to do to Baghdad 2 years later.

Read a fascinating account of Tamerlane's antics from the book

Turn around and run like hell: amazing stories of unconventional military strategies that worked By Joseph Cummins

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