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Military

Battles Involving War Elephants

Alby Thompson
Updated June 14, 2019 6k views 36 items
Battles in which war elephants were used. Throughout human history, elephants have been employed in combat, typically for offensive use in charging the enemy and breaking their ranks. It is believed that the first war elephant combat unit - or elephantry - was employed in Ancient India and Southeast Asia. (The Indian Vedic texts the Mahabharata and Ramayana, both dating from the 4th Century BC, specifically mention the introduction of elephants in warfare.)

The first elephants were tamed in Ancient Mesopotamia, around 4,500 years ago, for use in farming and agriculture. But the most famous historical case of war elephants crucially making a difference in battle took place during the Second Punic War, when Hannibal of Carthage led an army of war elephants across the Alps to fight the Roman Republic. Because of the brutal weather and terrain in the Alps, and the adjustment of Roman military tactics to compensate for the elephants, Hannibal suffered his final loss at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC.

The use of war elephants in battle waned during the First and Second World Wars. Even at this point, the animals were largely used to aid in transport and for pulling heavy equipment, rather than as actual weapons. The very last recorded use of elephants in war happened in 1987 when the animals were used by the Iraqi military to transport heavy weaponry.
1
Battle of Gaugamela is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Mosul, Iraq
331 BC
2
Battle of the Hydaspes ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Punjab, Pakistan, Pakistan
326 BC
3
Battle of Paraitacene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Paraitacene Isfahan, Iran
317 BC
4
Battle of Gabiene is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Gabiene Gabiene
316 BC
5
Battle of Gaza is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Gaza Gaza City
312 BC
6
Battle of Ipsus is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Ipsus Phrygia
301 BC
7
Battle of Heraclea is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Basilicata, Italy
280 BC
8
Battle of Asculum is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Asculum Asculum
279 BC
9
Battle of Beneventum (27... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Beneventum (275 BC) Benevento, Italy
275 BC
10
Kalinga War is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Kalinga
265-264 BC
11
Battle of Agrigentum is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Agrigento, Italy
262 BC
12
Battle of Tunis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Tunis, Tunisia
255 BC
13
Battle of the Bagradas R... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of the Bagradas River (49 BC) North Africa
239 BC
14
Battle of Utica is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Utica Utica, Tunisia, Tunisia
238 BC
15
Battle of "The Saw&... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of "The Saw" Tunis, Tunisia
238 BC
16
Siege of Saguntum is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Siege of Saguntum Sagunto, Spain
219-218 BC
17
Battle of the Trebia is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of the Trebia Trebbia, Italy
218 BC. Pre-dated by famed "Crossing of the Alps."
18
Battle of Raphia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Raphia Gaza City
217 BC
19
Battle of the Metaurus ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of the Metaurus Marche, Italy
207 BC
20
Battle of Zama is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Zama Zama Minor, Tunisia
202 BC
21
Battle of Magnesia is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Magnesia Lydia
190 BC
22
Maccabean Revolt is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Maccabean Revolt Palestine
167-160 BC
23
Battle of Beth Zur is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Beth-zur
164 BC
24
Siege of Numantia is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Numantia, Spain
153 BC
25
Battle of Carthage is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Battles Involving War Elephants
Battle of Carthage Tunis, Tunisia
149-146 BC