Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Word of the Day -- War Elephant

A war elephant was an elephant trained and guided by humans for combat. Their main use was to charge the enemy, breaking their ranks and instilling terror. Elephantry are military units with elephant-mounted troops. They were first employed in India, the practice spreading out across south-east Asia and westwards into the Mediterranean. Their most famous use in the West was by the Greek general Pyrrhus of Epirus and in significant numbers by the armies of Carthage, including briefly by Hannibal.

In the Mediterranean, improved tactics reduced the value of the elephant in battle, while their availability in the wild also decreased. In the east, where supplies of animals were greater and the terrain ideal, it was the advent of the cannon that finally concluded the use of the combat elephant at the end of the 19th century, thereafter restricting their use to engineering and labor roles.



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