History – Battles & Wars


Battle of Hydaspes (Vitasta, modern Jhelum) 326 BC—Alexander the Great, defeated Porus, the Paurava king.

Battle of Kalinga 261 BC—Ashoka defeated the king of Kalinga. This battle killed the ‘soldier’ in Ashoka and he embraced and preached Buddhism during the rest of his life.

First Battle of Tarain or Thaneswar AD 1191—Prithvi Raj Chohan defeated Mohammed Ghori.

Second Battle of Tarain AD 1192—Mohammed Ghori defeated Prithvi Raj Chohan. This battle gave an irreparable blow to Rajput power.

First Battle of Panipat 1526—Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi. This laid the foundation of the Mughal rule in India.

Battle of Kanwah 1527—Babar defeated Rana Sanga of Mewar. This battle resulted in the defeat of the powerful Rajput confederacy.

Second Battle of Panipat 1556—Bairam Khan (Akbar’s General) defeated Hemu (the Hindu General and right-hand man of Mohd. Adil Shah). The defeat of Hemu frustrated all hopes of the Hindus to establish their own Rule in India. It also ended the Afghan Rule and Mughal Rule began instead.

Battle of Talikota 1564-65—United alliance between Bijapur, Bidar, Ahmednagar and Golkonda under Hussain Nizam Shah defeated Ram Raja of Vijayanagar. It destroyed the Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar.

Battle of Haldighat 1576—Akbar’s forces headed by Raja Man Singh and Asaf Khan II defeated Rana Pratap, the brave Rajput king who had refused to acknowledge Akbar’s suzerainty. Rana Pratap took refuge in remote fortresses.

Battle of Plassey 1757—The English under Lord Clive defeated Sirajud-Daulah supported by the French forces. It brought Muslim Rule in Bengal to an end and laid foundations of the British Rule in India.

Importance of the Battle of Plassey in the modern history of India:

(1) The Battle of Plassey paved the way for the conquest of Northern India; (2) Mir Jaffar, who became Nawab of Bengal, assigned to the East India Company, a tract of country near Calcutta (24 Parganas) in addition to paying a crore of rupees; (3) With the Bengal gold and silver which the Battle of Plassey had placed at their disposal, the English could defeat the French in the south; (4) The British merchants fully utilized the newly acquired power in Bengal for their own interest and they reduced the reigning Nawabs like Mir Jaffar and Mir Kasim to impotence and removed them from power whenever it suited them.

Battle of Wandiawash 1760—The English defeated the French. The battle sealed the fate of the French in India.

Third Battle of Panipat 1761—Ahmed Shah Abdali defeated Marhattas. It gave a terrible blow to the Marhatta power. This battle also sealed the destiny of the Mughal Empire. It made the field clear for the English.

Causes of the defeat of the Marhattas at the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1761: The Marhattas suffered a defeat at the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1761 for the following reasons: (1) The Marhatta General Sadasheo Rao committed the fatal blunder of giving up the guerilla methods of warfare and of engaging his army in a pitched battle against Ahmed Shah Abdali; (2) The desertion of Holkar at the critical moment hastened the defeat of the Marhattas; (3) The Rajputs and the Sikhs remained neutral; (4) Fearing the growth of Marhatta power, all the Mohammedan powers made common cause with Abdali in ousting the Marhattas from the Punjab; (5) The Marhatta army had by this time become denationalised; (6) The Forward Policy of the Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao was not wisely carried out; the idea of a Hindu sovereignty with all the Hindu chiefs under one flag was neglected; (7) The Peshwa tried to further his own interests at the cost of Marhatta Confederacy.

Battle of Buxar 1764—Fought in 1764 between the forces of the English under Major Munro and the combined forces of Mir Kasim, Shuja-ud-Daulah (Nawab of Oudh) and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam; the battle of Buxar is described as the biggest battle yet fought by the Company in India. The English victory at Buxar finally riveted the shackles of the Company’s rule upon Bengal. It not only completed the work of Plassey but also did something more. Besides Bengal, it made Oudh completely prostrate at the feet of the English.

First Mysore War (1767-68)—By his skilful diplomacy, Haider Ali broke alliance against him between the English and the Nizam, later joined by the Marathas. He detached the Marathas by a bribe of 35 lakhs and then won the Nizam to his side. His forces with those of the Nizam attacked the English under Col Smith in 1767. But in 1768, he was defeated by the English relinquishing all his rights over Mysore in favour of the English.

Second Mysore War (1780)—A grand alliance between Haider Ali, the Nizam and the Marathas was formed and Haider Ali swooped down on the plains of Carnatic in July 1780, causing death and destruction and in October 1780, he defeated the English and took possession of Arcot and became the undisputed master of the Carnatic.

Third Mysore War 1790-92—Fought between the English and Tipu Sultan. Tipu Sultan had to submit and was compelled to sign the Treaty of Seringapattam which crippled his resources and stripped him of half his territory.

Fourth Mysore War 1799—The British forces under Arthur Wellesley and General Harris, defeated Tipu Sultan. The decisive battle was fought at Malavali and this brought the short Mohammedan dynasty of Mysore to a violent end.

Marhatta War 1803-05—It brought under English protection the States of Hyderabad and Oudh; weakened the Marhatta power and destroyed the French influence. The English annexed Tanjore, Surat and Carnatic.

Fourth Marhatta War 1817-18—The British forces under East India Company defeated Marhattas and this campaign finally extinguished the Marhatta Empire. It also placed the East India Company on the Mughal throne with a more absolute authority than Akbar or Aurangzeb had ever enjoyed.

Battle of Cheelianwala 1849—Forces of the East India Company under Lord Hugh Gough defeated the Sikhs under Sher Singh.

Burmese War 1885—As a result of this War, the whole of Burma was occupied by the English and made a part of India.

Afghan War III 1919—As a result of this War, Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed by which Afghanistan was recognised as an independent State.

India-China War 1962—The cause of the war was a dispute over the sovereignty of the widely separated Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh border regions. Aksai Chin, claimed by India to belong to Kashmir and by China to be part of Xinjiang, contains an important road link that connects the Chinese regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. China’s construction of this road was one of the triggers of the conflict. The Chinese launched simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line on 20 October 1962. Chinese troops advanced over Indian forces in both theatres, capturing Rezang la in Chushul in the western theatre, as well as Tawang in the eastern theatre. The war ended when the Chinese declared a ceasefire on 20 November 1962, and simultaneously announced its withdrawal from the disputed area.

Indo-Pak War 1965—This was Pakistan’s third attack on India. While India had the upper hand, the fighting was brought to a stop by a call for cease-fire issued by the Security Council. Two battles in the conflict, fought at Phillora near Sialkot and Asal Uttar near Khem Karan, were described as the heaviest tank battles since World War II.

Indo-Pak War December 1971—Pakistan started the war attacking India on December 3 with surprise air-raids on a number of Indian airfields. India defeated Pakistan on all fronts. Pakistani occupation forces, numbering about one lakh, in East Bengal (Bangladesh) surrendered. The outstanding achievement was complete liberation of Bangladesh. India emerged victorious, stronger and a united nation.

Kargil War: May-July 1999—It was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan in the Kargil district of Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC). The conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay (Victory in Hindi) which was the name of the Indian operation to clear the Kargil sector. The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC, which serves as the de facto border between the two States. The Indian Army, supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LOC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. With international diplomatic opposition, the Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LOC.


Battle of Marathon 490 BC—The Greeks defeated the Persians at Athens.

Battle of Salamis 480 BC—The Greek fleet defeated the Persians.

Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC—Spartans under Leonidas wiped out by Persians.

Battle of Zama 202 BC—Scipio defeated Hannibal.

Battle of Pharasalus AD 48—Caesar defeated Pompey.

Battle of Hastings AD 1066—William, the Duke of Normandy defeated Harold, the king of England. England came under the control of Normans.

Hundred Year’s War 1338-1453—Fought between France and England. The cause of the war was the succession question to the throne of France which was claimed by Edward III of England. The war was resumed by Henry V and was brought to an end by the heroism of Joan of Arc—“A country girl who overthrew the power of England.” Joan of Arc was burnt alive at the stakes in 1431.

Battle of Leopanto 1571—The Christians League defeated the Turks.

Battle of England or the defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588—The British fleet under Lord Howard defeated the Spanish Armada. A heavy storm scattered the Spanish fleet. This victory of the British established their supremacy over the seas.

Battle of Gibraltar Bay 1606-07—The Dutch defeated the Spaniards and the Portuguese.

Battle of Preston 1641—Cromwell defeated Charles I and succeeded in establishing the Protectorate.

Battle of Naseby 1645 – Royalists in England defeated.

Battle of Blenheim 1704—England and Austria headed by Marlborough defeated the French and Bavarians.

Seven Years War or Anglo-French War III 1756-63—England and Germany defeated France and Russia.

American War of Independence 1776-83—George Washington defeated the British forces. America became independent.

Battle of the Nile 1798—The British fleet under Lord Nelson defeated the French fleet and established their supremacy over the Mediterranean Sea.

Battle of Trafalgar 1805—The British fleet under Lord Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleet. By this defeat, Napoleon’s scheme of invading England was foiled.

Battle of Austerlitz 1805—Napoleon defeated Austria and Russia.

Battle of Leipzig 1813—The English and the Allies (Russia and Prussia) defeated Napoleon and called this battle as “the Battle of the Nations”.

Battle of Waterloo 1815—the British under Duke of Willington (Sir Arthur Wellesley) defeated the French under Napoleon. Napoleon was captured and exiled to St Helena where he died.

Crimean War 1854-56—The combined forces of the British, French and Turks defeated Russia.

American Civil War 1861-1865—Northern States of America under Abraham Lincoln defeated the Southern States and established a Federal State.

Sino-Japanese War 1894-95—Japan defeated China and occupied Formosa and Korea.

Battle of the Omdurman 1898—The British and Egyptian forces defeated the forces of Khalifa (Mehdists).

Battle of the Sea of Japan (1905) – (i) Battle of Port Authur and (ii) Battle of Yalu—Japanese fleet defeated the Russian fleet. It led the wave of the idea of Asian Resurgence.

Battle of Jutland 1916—Naval battle between England and Germany during World War I; England defeated Germany.

Battle of Verdun 1916—famous battle of World War I fought between France and Germany.

Second Battle of Marne 1918—was fought on 15 July 1918 between the Germans and French in World War I. The Germans were defeated.

World War I 1914-18—Britain and her allies (France, U.S.A. and Belgium) defeated Germany and her associate powers.

World War II (1st September 1939 to 14th August 1945)—The Allies (England, France, USA and USSR) defeated the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan).

Battle of El Alamein 1942—The Allies victory during the Second World War and retreat of General Rommel’s forces.

Suez Crisis 1956—Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt. All the three countries had to withdraw their invasion forces under pressure of the UN.

Arab-Israel War (5-9 June 1967)—Fought between Israel on one side and the UAR, Syria and Jordan on the other. Israel achieved victory within 80 hours before all hostilities ceased on June 10 in response to repeated ceasefire calls by the UN Security Council. Israel, after virtually destroying the air forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, (1) overran the entire Sinai Peninsula; (2) advanced up to the Eastern bank of the Suez Canal, and captured the Gaza strip; (3) gained whole of Jerusalem; (4) captured high ground on Syrian border; (5) overran the whole of Jordan west of the Jordan river.

Vietnam War: The Vietnam War occurred in present-day Vietnam, Southeast Asia. It represented a successful attempt on the part of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam, DRV) and the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam (Viet Cong) to unite and impose a communist system over the entire nation. Opposing the DRV was the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam, RVN), backed by the United States. The war in Vietnam occurred during the Cold War, and is generally viewed as an indirect conflict between the United States and Soviet Union, with each nation and its allies supporting one side. On 27 January 1974, a peace accord was signed in Paris ending the conflict. By March of that year, American combat troops left the country. After a brief period of peace, North Vietnam recommenced hostilities in late 1974. Pushing through ARVN forces with ease, they captured Saigon on 30 April 1975, forcing South Vietnam’s surrender and reuniting the country.

Falkland War: The world witnessed a unique war as a result of the surprise invasion of the British-owned Falkland (in South Atlantic) by Argentina on 2 April 1982. The British claimed sovereignty over the islands on the basis of certain agreements reached over 150 years ago. But Argentina has laid claims to at least three dependencies of Falklands and still describes the territory as disputed. To regain control 10,000 strong armada was sent by Britain. Argentina damaged several ships, shot down several planes and thwarted the British forces plan for a quick victory for several days. However, on 16 June, 1985, Argentinian forces surrendered. It cost Britain over 2 billion dollars and loss of several lives to regain its hold on the disputed islands.

Iran-Iraq War: The war between the Gulf countries started when Iraq suddenly invaded Iran on 22 September 1980. Though Iraq gained some initial advantages, but lost them with Iran mobilising its forces effectively. The Iranian-Iraqi frontier has been a trouble-spot for decades, with periodic skirmishes erupting over Iraqi efforts to control Shatt-al-Arab waterway at the head of the Gulf, the key oil gateway to both the nations. On 20 August 1988, the eight-year-old war ended. Iran and Iraq implemented a UN-brokered ceasefire. A de facto truce had come into effect on 8 August 1988, when the UN Secretary-General, Mr Javier Perez de Cuellar, announced a ceasefire.

Gulf War: The foundation stone of the Gulf War was laid when Kuwait was invaded and captured by Iraq on 2 August 1990. On 30 November 1990, the UN Security Council gave an ultimatum to Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January 1991. The deadline was not observed and on 16 January 1991, the Gulf War began. The massive military might of 28 countries seeked to smash Iraq’s impressive array of weapons and bases through almost non-stop bombing raids—about 2000 bombardments daily.

The war ended on 28 February 1991, when President George Bush announced a halt to six-week old war. The cease-fire followed within hours of Mr Saddam Hussein’s acceptance of all UN resolutions on the war.

The war left both Iraq and Kuwait in ruins. 90 per cent of the oil wells in Kuwait caught fire—in allied bombings or were put on fire by retreating Iraqi soldiers.

Gulf War II: After months of threats and a long military build-up, the United States attacked Iraq on 20 March 2003, in an operation codenamed Operation Iraqi Freedom. The attack by coalition forces of USA and Britain came in complete defiance of United Nations which wanted to give Iraq some more time to destroy its weapons of mass destruction.

In the first week of May 2003, following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad, the Gulf War-II ended and Iraq came under direct control of the occupation forces. On 14 December 2003, the coalition forces captured Saddam Hussein.

Afghan War: The War in Afghanistan began on 7 October 2001, as the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and the Afghan United Front (Northern Alliance) launched Operation Enduring Freedom. Following the September 11 attacks, the US administration organized an allied invasion to dismantle the terrorist organization and end its use of Afghanistan as a base. The US also intended to remove the fundamentalist Taliban regime from power and create a viable democratic State.

NATO forces continued to battle the widespread Taliban insurgency, and by 2011 the war expanded into the tribal areas of neighbouring Pakistan. The War in Afghanistan had become the United States’ second-longest war. On 2 May 2011, US forces raided the urban compound of Osama bin Laden and killed him in Abbotabad, Pakistan. On 21 May 2012, the leaders of the NATO-member countries endorsed an exit strategy during the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago.


World War I (1914-18)

Background: After the dismissal of Bismarck, the young Kaiser, William II, of Germany sought to build a supreme Navy to dominate the Atlantic and to push towards the East. This was known as his policy of Drang nach Osten.

Germany’s rival was the Triple Etente, formed between Britain, France and Russia during the period of Armed Peace (1905-13) in Europe.

It was Germany’s ambition to be a world power but she found herself thwarted in every direction. She was determined to have her ‘place in the sun’ and for this purpose, she acquired a dominating influence over Turkey and committed herself to support the Balkan policy of Austria. She looked upon England as her greatest enemy.

Immediate Cause of the War: Archduke Ferdinand, the Austrian heirapparent to the throne, was murdered in a street of Serajevo, the capital of Bosnia, an annexed territory of Austria, by a Serb national. Austria held Serbia responsible for this act and denounced Serbians as the ‘nation of assassins’. After one month of the incident, Austria delivered an ultimatum and moved for war. This brought Russia into the field as she felt a kinship with Slavic People. Russia’s entry brought Germany to the side of Austria. One by one France and England, both signatories of the Triple Etente, entered the war.

Main Contestants of World War I: There were two camps. One was the Central Powers comprising Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria and the other was the Allied Powers—England, France, Belgium, Serbia, Russia and Japan. Italy and the U.S.A. joined the Allies in 1915 and 1917 respectively.

Results of the War: The Central Powers were completely defeated by the Allied Powers and an Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, followed by a Peace Conference at Paris and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919—the principal treaty, curbing the power of the German Empire.

The Treaty of Versailles: It was signed in June 1919. According to this treaty, boundaries of European countries were re-arranged and many new States viz., Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, etc., were formed.

At the instance of Woodrow Wilson, the American President, the League of Nations was established on 10 January 1920, “to prevent all future wars”.

Wilson’s Fourteen Points: In an address to the Congress in January 1918, American President Wilson outlined the basis of a peace settlement— his famous Fourteen Points—for lasting peace in the world: (1) There was to be no more secret diplomacy; (2) freedom of the seas; (3) removal of economic barriers of international trade; (4) reduction of armaments; (5) impartial adjustment of all colonial claims on the basis of the interests of the subject population; (6) national self-determination; (7) establishment of a League of Nations for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity of great and small States alike.

The remaining points dealt with the formation of new boundaries and new States on the basis of nationality and demanded that Germany must evacuate all lands she had forcibly occupied.

World War II (1939-45)

Background: The Treaty of Versailles itself sowed the seeds of another world conflagration. It was such an unjust Treaty that the Allied Powers sought territorial and economic benefits brushing aside the idealistic war axims. The discontented Germany, during the great slump period of the world economy, when she had been suffering from a terrible economic crisis, brought onto its political stage a person who promised to build a new Germany and free the country of the shackles of the Versailles Treaty.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany and in the following year he became the President of the German Republic after the death of Von Hindenburg. To tear away the Treaty of Versailles, he joined hands with Mussolini, the Fascist leader of Italy, and both began their verbal crusade against the Big Powers who had monopolised whole colonies of the world.

One by one, Hitler broke the terms of the Versailles Treaty by occupying Sarr, Alsace-Loraine, Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia. This onward march of Hitler also alarmed Britain and France. Mussolini attacked Abyssinia and Japan attacked China. This aggressive mood of the Fascist Powers got its fullest expression when they formed an Axis providing for mutual aid in the international sphere.

Immediate Causes of World War II: Encouraged by his threats and blistering, which had brought success in the past, Hitler, demanded from Poland a corridor to establish a direct link with East Prussia. Britain and France guaranteed aid to Poland in the event of any aggression against her and started friendly negotiations with Russia.

Britain’s negotiations with Russia, however, failed and Hitler, taking advantage of this failure, succeeded in signing a Non-Aggression Pact with Russia. Being convinced that Britain would not now fight for Poland, he attacked Poland on 1 September 1939, and this started World War II. Britain and France, who were under treaty obligations to side with Poland in case of aggression against her, declared war against Germany on 3 September 1939.

Main Contestants of World War II: Germany, Italy and Japan, called the Axis Powers, were on one side and Britain, France, Russia, U.S.A., Poland and others, called Allies, were on the other side. The war ended on 14 August 1945.

Result of World War II: The ravages of the war were so complex and widespread that no formal Peace Conference could be held immediately after the surrender of Germany and Japan. The meetings of the Big Three (Russia, U.K. and U.S.A.) at Cairo, Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam formulated general principles, which ultimately led to disagreements betwen the victorious Powers. Germany was divided into four zones, one under occupation of each great power. The country was ultimately divided into two States— East Germany under the Soviet Union and West Germany under the Allies. Another noteworthy sequel to this war was emergence of the U.S.S.R. as one of the biggest powers of the world, while the United Kingdom and France lost much of their past glory.

Nearly all the East European countries embraced Communism and communist rule was established in the Chinese mainland also.