Archive for the ‘gun history’ Tag

Jaivana, world’s largest cannon


The Jaivana cannon is the largest wheeled cannon ever constructed. It is located at the Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur. It was cast in 1720, during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur. The formidable strength of its builder, the scientifically inclined warrior Sawai Jai Singh II, lay in the large number of artillery and copious supply of munitions which he maintained. Jaivan rests on a high 4 wheeled carriage. The front wheels are 2.74 m in diameter and the rear wheels are 1.37 m in diameter.

The length of the barrel of the cannon is 20 feet 2 inches and it weighs 50 tons.

Blast from the Past

Author: Rohit Parihar
Publication: India Today
Date: July 12, 2004

Introduction: Efforts are on to give a facelift to a foundry producing weapons of massive dimensions in Jaipur

Legend has it that when Jaivana, the world’s largest cannon on wheels at the Jaigarh Fort in Amer, Rajasthan, was fired, expectant mothers living nearby suffered miscarriages. But the foundry that made and assembled this massive weapon in 1720-it was then one of the world’s oldest cannon factories-is falling apart and efforts to restore it to its former glory are on.

Its sheer size gives some idea of what a monumental task Jaivana’s manufacture might have been. The 50 tonne cannon rests on six massive wheels, each 9 ft in circumference. The cannon is 31 ft long with a 20 ft barrel that can be raised or lowered by an 8 ft tall elevating screw. Four elephants were used to rotate it. The cannon is believed to have been fired only once- towards Chakshu, 22 km away. About 100 kg of explosives launched a 50 kg iron ball which created a huge depression when it landed. It is a pond now.

Jaigarh Fort was built in the 11th century and developed under Raja Man Singh, a trusted general of Emperor Akbar. Man Singh learned about casting cannons while serving in Afghanistan. He set up the gun foundry complex in 1584. Now, Kunwar Narendra Singh, son-in-law of Jaipur’s erstwhile Maharaja Bhawani Singh, is restoring the factory that produced thousands of cannons for close to three centuries before shutting down owing to lack of demand.

The most prominent features of the cannon complex are the giant wheels with teeth measuring 9 inches for rotating cutters to drill holes in mammoth barrels. Each cutter is 9 ft long. Four pairs of bulls rotated the gear system made from thick wooden crossbars fixed to a central beam. It is these wooden parts that have eroded and need repair. Narendra Singh has hired a master carpenter to work on the missing parts. Delhi’s National Museum too has been approached for help. Since the erstwhile kings used to supervise the making of cannons themselves, the royal pavilion where they were seated is also being renovated. In addition, a support system is being fabricated to ease the burden on the wheels of Jaivana that are wearing out under the cannon’s weight.

With government assistance Narendra Singh believes the factory will once again produce cannons-mini replicas of the original. With its ancient heritage restored, it could also mean a tourist boom for Jaigarh.

Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India.

Guns, Influence, and Power

Reviewed by: Timothy May, Department of History, North Georgia College and State University.
Published by: H-War (August, 2006)

There is no question that the advent of gunpowder weapons permanently changed the course of warfare, but exactly how this happened varies from region to region. Often in the public’s mind, the impact of firearms is relegated to Europe and its origins in China; somehow everything in between is overlooked. Thus, Iqtidar Alam Khan’s volume, Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India will hopefully begin to fill that void.

Khan’s work is important for two reasons. First, it traces the origins and influence of gunpowder weapons in India as a regional history rather than as an ancillary to a larger work. The author critically examines when firearms appeared in India, and then what other influences–whether local or foreign–played in the development of the weapons. Moreover, he discusses their impact, not only on the medieval state, but on society as a whole. Second, Khan’s work serves as a model for other regional studies on firearms as well as the distribution of other forms of technology or goods.

Chapter 1 of Gunpowder and Firearms discusses the diffusion of firearms into the subcontinent by focusing on the role of the Mongols as agents of transmission. Although the author notes that the Chinese had been using gunpowder weapons before the Mongols arrived on the scene, it is not until the end of the thirteenth century that firearms of any sort, particularly rockets, appear in the Sultanate of Delhi or in regional literary references. While he places the greatest emphasis on the Mongols as the agents of technological transmission, Khan does not rule out other sources such as a Himalayan or sea route. Regardless of their origin, knowledge and use of these weapons quickly spread.

Chapters 2 through 4 focus on the use of artillery from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. Although cannons became somewhat common throughout India, the Mughals used them the most effectively, thus giving rise to one of the popularly called Gunpowder Empires (along with the Ottomans and Safavids). Yet, these three chapters emphasize one key point. As in late medieval Europe, the expense of cannons meant that few among the nobility besides the ruler possessed the resources to purchase them. Fortress walls gave little shelter against cannons and the nobility quickly learned to acquiesce to the authority of the ruler.

Although similar situations appeared among some of the regional Indian states, the rise of the Mughals brings this phenomenon into better focus. Chapter 3 continues to deal with centralization of power, but in the context of the arrival of not only the Mughals, but also the Portuguese with their European metallurgical and artillery advances. From the Portuguese, the Mughals and others learned how to make cannons from wrought iron, thus reducing the cost of the weapon, while at the same time improving it. The Mughals, who learned from Ottoman advisors, quickly grasped the importance of light artillery as it became less expensive and more easily manufactured. While magnificent in siege warfare, the lack of maneuverability of heavy cannon left it virtually useless on the battlefield.

Chapter 4 discusses the dominance of the Mughals. By the time of Akbar, heavy mortars and cannons were rarely used in the Mughal military. Light cannons that could be used on the battlefield were the mainstay of the Mughal artillery corps, including the shaturnal, similar to swivel guns, but carried on the backs of camels and even in the howdahs of elephants. As this chapter ties into the arrival of the British East India Company, Khan continues to discuss technological developments, or the lack thereof.

In addition to artillery, handheld firearms also became ubiquitous throughout the Mughal Empire. Chapter 5 examines the nature and development of handguns in the Mughal Empire. In addition to local factors, Khan includes a good discussion of Western influences, which in this instance includes the Ottoman Empire. Western influences included new technologies in firearms manufacture. However, not all of these became widespread. As a result, stagnation occurred particularly in terms of standard weapons. The preferred weapon became the matchlock, even after other technologies surpassed it. Why the matchlock remained the weapon of choice ties into chapter 6, which discusses the role of the matchlock musket in the centralization of Mughal authority.

Mughals also used musketeers to maintain their authority. Babur began his career with a scant musket bearing force of just over a hundred men, but by the time of Akbar, over 35,000 musketeers existed in the Mughal military. One reason for this was that, despite the cost of their weapon, the musketeers were actually less expensive than garrisoning cavalry forces. The expense of feeding the man and his horse grossly exceeded that of a musketeer. Thus, a small but trained force of musket wielding troops allowed the Mughals to assert their authority in even the most remote provinces. This was also possible as, for several decades, the nobility were forbidden to recruit their own forces of musketeers. At the same time, this mass force of troops with firearms undermined the Mughals. As the matchlock became ubiquitous, its cost dropped, but it also was deemed very reliable by those using it. Thus, even when other technologies came into the region, like flintlock muskets, the Mughals failed to adopt them due to economic reasons as well as the matchlock’s popularity.

While firearms aided the process of centralization, it also played a role in undermining the Mughal’s authority. Because of the affordability of matchlocks and the relative simplicity in gaining expertise with them, one did not have to train for years to be a warrior. Ultimately this let to the diffusion of firearms into the general populace and resistance to central authority. Beginning in the late-sixteenth century, not only political rebels, but even peasants opposed to tax collection acquired firearms. As domestic tensions grew, the widespread use and manufacture of matchlock muskets played a role in the breakdown of central authority, and the Mughals, despite several innovative attempts, failed to halt the eventual Balkanization of their empire. Khan’s work is impressive and is the result of twenty years of research that ranged over four hundred years of history. Utilizing Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, and English primary sources and supplemented by a wide array of secondary works, Iqtidar Khan has produced an excellent work. The four appendices are useful supplements dealing with the use of firearms by the Mongols, the analysis of terminology in a couple primary sources, and the origins of the Purbias, who were gunners for a few Indian states in the 1500s. The volume also contains almost thirty illustrations of firearms and their use. These dramatically illustrate Khan’s points as well as show the reader the variances between the weapons.

Yet, the book is not without faults. While Gunpowder and Firearms is an insightful and well-argued work, the author exaggerates the Mongols’ use of gunpowder. While it is true that the Mongols never met a weapon they did not find a use for, there is no concrete evidence that the Mongols used gunpowder weapons on a regular basis outside of China. Indeed, the author recognizes this and notes that his claims are based on Persian terms which could be interpreted as firearms. Unfortunately, while many of these terms such as manjaniq are used to refer to cannons, during the medieval period manjaniq meant a mangonel. It is plausible that in later periods, the Mongols did make more extensive use of gunpowder weapons, but in period of the conquests (1206-60), there is inadequate evidence to support Khan’s assertion.

One other minor criticism is the exclusion of Kenneth Chase’s Firearms: A Global History to 1700 (2003). I suspect that, given their publication dates, Chase’s and Khan’s books crossed paths. Although Chase takes a global perspective, the authors reach similar conclusions. Nonetheless, Gunpowder and Firearms will appeal not only to historians of India, but also anyone interested in the development of weapons and military systems or the creation of states. In summary, not only is Iqtidar Alam Khan’s work an impressive study on the diffusion of firearms in India, it will also serve as a model for others pursuing similar research on the spread of technology or goods on a regional basis.

CAMEL CAVALRY~MAN on CAMEL with MOUNTED GUN~INDIA~c1915

How Gun Control Laws Contributed To the Mumbai Slaughter

An interesting article, from October, 2005, provided by http://www.gunowners.org:

Gun Control And Self-defense Against Terrorism In India
by Abhijeet Singh
Colonial Roots of Gun-Control

I live in India and I am a proud firearm owner — but I am the exception not the norm, an odd situation in a country with a proud martial heritage and a long history of firearm innovation. This is not because the people of India are averse to gun ownership, but instead due to Draconian anti-gun legislation going back to colonial times.

To trace the roots of India’s anti-gun legislation we need to step back to the latter half of the 19th century. The British had recently fought off a major Indian rebellion (the mutiny of 1857) and were busy putting in place measures to ensure that the events of 1857 were never repeated. These measures included a major restructuring of administration and the colonial British Indian Army along with improvements in communications and transportation. Meanwhile the Indian masses were systematically being disarmed and the means of local firearm production destroyed, to ensure that they (the Indian masses) would never again have the means to rise in rebellion against their colonial masters. Towards this end the colonial government, under Lord Lytton as Viceroy (1874 -1880), brought into existence the Indian Arms Act, 1878 (11 of 1878); an act which, exempted Europeans and ensured that no Indian could possess a weapon of any description unless the British masters considered him a “loyal” subject of the British Empire.

An example of British thinking in colonial times:

“No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion.” –James Burgh (Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses) [London, 1774-1775]

And thoughts (on this subject) of the man who wanted to rule the world:

“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.” — Adolf Hitler (H.R. Trevor-Roper, Hitler’s Table Talks 1941-1944)

The leaders of our freedom struggle recognised this, even Gandhi the foremost practitioner of passive resistance and non-violence had this to say about the British policy of gun-control in India:

“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.” — Mahatma Gandhi (An Autobiography OR The story of my experiments with truth, by M.K. Gandhi, p.238)
Post Independence

India became independent in 1947, but it still took 12 years before this act was finally repealed. In 1959 the British era Indian Arms Act, 1878 (11 of 1878.) was finally consigned to history and a new act, the Arms Act, 1959 was enacted. This was later supplemented by the Arms Rules, 1962. Unfortunately this new legislation was also formulated based on the Indian Government’s innate distrust its own citizens. Though somewhat better than the British act, this legislation gave vast arbitrary powers to the “Licensing Authorities”, in effect ensuring that it is often difficult and sometimes impossible for an ordinary law abiding Indian citizen to procure an arms license.

“A system of licensing and registration is the perfect device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie.” — Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Also the policy of throttling private arms manufacturing was continued even after independence. Limits on the quantity and type of arms that could be produced by private manufacturers were placed — ensuring that the industry could never hope to be globally competitive and was instead consigned to producing cheap shotguns, of mostly indifferent quality, in small quantities. A citizen wishing to purchase a decent firearm depended solely on imports, which were a bit more expensive but vastly superior in quality.
More Recently

This changed towards the mid to late 1980s, when the Government, citing domestic insurgency as the reason, put a complete stop to all small arms imports. The fact that there is no documented evidence of any terrorists ever having used licensed weapons to commit an act of terror on Indian soil seems to be of no consequence to our Government. The prices of (legal & licensed) imported weapons have been on an upward spiral ever since — beating the share market and gold in terms of pure return on investment. Even the shoddy domestically produced guns suddenly seem to have found a market. Also since the Government now had a near monopoly on (even half-way decent) arms & ammunition for the civilian market, they started turning the screws by pricing their crude public sector products (ammunition, rifles, shotguns & small quantities of handguns) at ridiculously high rates — products that frankly, given a choice no one would ever purchase.

“That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.” — George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm and 1984, himself a socialist
Why Citizens Need to be Armed

Curtailing gun ownership, to curb violent crime, through denying licenses or making legal arms & ammunition ridiculously expensive is based on flawed reasoning. The fact is that licensed firearms are found to be used in a statistically insignificant number of violent crimes, motorcycles & cars are far more dangerous. The certainty that a potential victim is unarmed is an encouragement to armed criminals. Less guns, more crime. Most violent crimes involving firearms are committed using untraceable illegal guns. Terrorists or the mafia are not going to be deterred by gun-control laws, they will be willing and able to procure arms of their choice and use them to commit crimes irrespective of any laws. Ironically in India it is cheaper (by several times) to buy the same gun in the black market than it is to buy it legally!

“Gun control? It’s the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. If I’m a bad guy, I’m always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You’ll pull the trigger with a lock on, and I’ll pull the trigger. We’ll see who wins.” — Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, Mafia hit man

“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside…. Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them….” — Thomas Paine, Thoughts on Defensive War in 1775

And from the world’s gentlest human being:

“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” — The Dalai Lama, (May 15, 2001, The Seattle Times) speaking at the “Educating Heart Summit” in Portland, Oregon, when asked by a girl how to react when a shooter takes aim at a classmate

It is, of course, no coincidence that the right to have guns is one of the earlier freedoms outlined in U.S.A.’s Bill of Rights. Without guns in the hands of the people, all the other freedoms are easily negated by the State. If you disagree with that statement, ask yourself if the Nazis could have gassed millions of Jews, had the Jews been armed with rifles and pistols — there weren’t enough SS troops to do the job. Lest we forget, in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1944, a couple of hundred Jews armed with rifles and homemade explosive devices held off two fully-equipped German divisions (actually about 8,000 men) for nearly two months.

Closer home take the case of the Godhra carnage and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Would wanton mobs have slaughtered so many innocent people with such disregard to consequences if their potential victims had been armed and ready to defend themselves? A serious consideration should be given to an armed civilian population as a solution to religious and racial riots as well as other crimes. Since all criminals are instinctively driven by self-preservation allowing legal ownership of firearms by law abiding citizens would act as a serious deterrent. This will make sure that if the Govt. fails to do its duty to protect the life and liberty of its citizens (as it has so often done in India’s recent past), citizens will be able to protect themselves. I’ll take some potential objections and try to answer them:
Arguments & Counter-Arguments

Q1. Won’t legal owners of arms use the firearms to kill and murder others?
Ans. When a man holds a rifle, he becomes almost godlike: suddenly, he has the ability to deal death and injury to another over a considerable distance — to send, as it were, a thunderbolt of Zeus. For some men, unquestionably, this power is going to be abused, just as some men will always drive a fast car at reckless speeds. For the vast majority of men, however, this power produces precisely the opposite effect: they are humbled by the power they hold, and they become more responsible in its use. That is why, in a nation like the United States with well over seventy million gun owners, only a tiny fraction, less than half a tenth of one percent, use a gun to commit a crime each year. Also since the firearms would be registered with the Govt. along with the owners address, the type of the firearm, its serial number etc. Those (the criminals) who want to commit crimes will not and DO NOT bother to purchase firearms legally and register them. They can and do buy them from the black market (at a fraction of the cost of a legal firearm, I might add). Legal ownership will allow law abiding citizens to protect their and others life and property.

Q2. Won’t there be a free for all during riots?
Ans. By definition riots ARE free for all. However, very few people will participate in riots knowing that a large number of law abiding citizens own firearms in the area. This will actually prevent riots. Riots are mostly started by miscreants (unscrupulous politicians?) who want to benefit from the chaos of riots. However, the risk (loss of life or limb) for the miscreant in starting and/ or participating in such riots, when a large number of the general civilian population owns legal firearms, is significant. Therefore in most cases miscreants will not dare to start riots in the first place.

Q3.What about domestic violence and firearms?
Ans. Domestic violence has nothing to do with firearm ownership. Firearms are merely a tool — not the cause of violence, to quote a famous NRA slogan “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Women in India face domestic violence even today with very limited legal gun ownership. If anything, legal firearms in the hands of women might help even the odds — by removing the physical weakness of women from the equation.

Q4. What about accidents?
Ans. More people in India get killed in automobile accidents than firearm accidents. In countries where gun ownership rates are high like the United States (which has a firearm to population ratio of approx 96:100, i.e., almost 1 firearm for every man woman & child), Switzerland, New Zealand etc. several times more people die in road accidents than from firearm accidents. Firearm accidents can be further minimised by making a gun-safety course mandatory before a permit is issued — so long as this is not used as another excuse to delay or deny permits.

Q5. What about firearm assisted suicides?
Ans. A suicidal person has many different available ways to end his/ her life. Firearms are just another means for him/ her. Statistically suicide rates have little correlation with firearm ownership patterns. Many countries with strict anti-gun legislation have high suicide rates and vice versa.

Q6. Are there any working systems and what are the results?
Ans. Yes, for example in U.S.A., Switzerland, New Zealand. One must note here that different states in US have different degrees of gun ownership and firearm restrictions. Interestingly the states with more restrictions on gun ownerships have a higher crime rate than those that are less restrictive.

I do not condone violence or a violent solution to problems, but there can be no justification for not letting people be prepared to defend their own and their families’ lives and property. When one is surrounded by mobs bent on setting you on fire and the like, in a country where policing is non-existent, owning firearms by people will have a great deterrent effect on mobs. Of course, if I could sue the police for not giving me complete protection, then I might feel differently (but don’t count on it). But by law the State cannot be at fault for not protecting its citizens — so if the cops take 25 minutes (or several hours) to respond to your call, and in those 25 minutes a criminal kicks open your door, shoots you and your wife, rapes your 11-year-old daughter, and beats your baby to death, that’s just tough luck. What about incidents like 1984 and Godhra, where the local administration and police wilfully neglected their duty to protect the citizens of this country?

Please also read the entertaining Parable of the Sheep for an explanation so simple that even a child can understand it.

As the Indian Law stands today a citizen of this country cannot even own a stick without inviting a penalty of 7 years in prison. We live in a country where we have still not cast off the yoke of antiquated laws made by our colonial masters to keep us oppressed and at the mercy of the government, notwithstanding the lofty vision of the first page of our constitution.

Harping on the few who unfortunately misuse firearms unfairly ignores those millions of us spread all over the world who own and use them responsibly. Dreaming romantically about a world where everything has been made perfectly safe “for the children” is just that, dreaming. I’ve tried visualising world peace until I’m about ready to have an out of body experience, but as soon as I open my eyes, they’re bombing civilians in the North East or gunning down innocents in Kashmir. Welcome to the real world.

“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”– George Mason

Gun Control; History

Courtesy: onemanthoughts
http://onemansthoughts.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/a-little-gun-history-lesson/

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million ‘educated’ people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by their own government, a program costing Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars. The first year results are now in:

Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2 percent

Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6 percent

Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent)!

In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent. Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not, and criminals still possess their guns!

It will never happen here? I bet the Aussies said that too!

While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.

There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the ELDERLY.

Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort and expense was expended in successfully ridding Australian society of guns. The Australian experience and the other historical facts above prove it.

You won’t see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information.

Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.

Take note my fellow Americans, before it’s too late!

The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind him of this history lesson.

With Guns…………We Are ‘Citizens’.

Without Them……..We Are ‘Subjects’.

During W.W.II, the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!

Note: Admiral Yamamoto who crafted the attack on Pearl Harbor had attended Harvard U 1919-1921 & was Naval Attaché to the U. S. 1925-28. Most of our Navy was destroyed at Pearl Harbor & our Army had been deprived of funding & was ill prepared to defend the country.

It was reported that when asked why Japan did not follow up the Pearl Harbor attack with an invasion of the U.S. Mainland, his reply was that he had lived in the U. S. & knew that almost all households had guns.

If you value your freedom, please spread this anti-gun control message to all your friends!

CAMEL CAVALRY~MAN on CAMEL with MOUNTED GUN~INDIA~c1915

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Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India.

Guns, Influence, and Power

Reviewed by: Timothy May, Department of History, North Georgia College and State University.
Published by: H-War (August, 2006)

There is no question that the advent of gunpowder weapons permanently changed the course of warfare, but exactly how this happened varies from region to region. Often in the public’s mind, the impact of firearms is relegated to Europe and its origins in China; somehow everything in between is overlooked. Thus, Iqtidar Alam Khan’s volume, Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India will hopefully begin to fill that void.

Khan’s work is important for two reasons. First, it traces the origins and influence of gunpowder weapons in India as a regional history rather than as an ancillary to a larger work. The author critically examines when firearms appeared in India, and then what other influences–whether local or foreign–played in the development of the weapons. Moreover, he discusses their impact, not only on the medieval state, but on society as a whole. Second, Khan’s work serves as a model for other regional studies on firearms as well as the distribution of other forms of technology or goods.

Chapter 1 of Gunpowder and Firearms discusses the diffusion of firearms into the subcontinent by focusing on the role of the Mongols as agents of transmission. Although the author notes that the Chinese had been using gunpowder weapons before the Mongols arrived on the scene, it is not until the end of the thirteenth century that firearms of any sort, particularly rockets, appear in the Sultanate of Delhi or in regional literary references. While he places the greatest emphasis on the Mongols as the agents of technological transmission, Khan does not rule out other sources such as a Himalayan or sea route. Regardless of their origin, knowledge and use of these weapons quickly spread.

Chapters 2 through 4 focus on the use of artillery from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. Although cannons became somewhat common throughout India, the Mughals used them the most effectively, thus giving rise to one of the popularly called Gunpowder Empires (along with the Ottomans and Safavids). Yet, these three chapters emphasize one key point. As in late medieval Europe, the expense of cannons meant that few among the nobility besides the ruler possessed the resources to purchase them. Fortress walls gave little shelter against cannons and the nobility quickly learned to acquiesce to the authority of the ruler.

Although similar situations appeared among some of the regional Indian states, the rise of the Mughals brings this phenomenon into better focus. Chapter 3 continues to deal with centralization of power, but in the context of the arrival of not only the Mughals, but also the Portuguese with their European metallurgical and artillery advances. From the Portuguese, the Mughals and others learned how to make cannons from wrought iron, thus reducing the cost of the weapon, while at the same time improving it. The Mughals, who learned from Ottoman advisors, quickly grasped the importance of light artillery as it became less expensive and more easily manufactured. While magnificent in siege warfare, the lack of maneuverability of heavy cannon left it virtually useless on the battlefield.

Chapter 4 discusses the dominance of the Mughals. By the time of Akbar, heavy mortars and cannons were rarely used in the Mughal military. Light cannons that could be used on the battlefield were the mainstay of the Mughal artillery corps, including the shaturnal, similar to swivel guns, but carried on the backs of camels and even in the howdahs of elephants. As this chapter ties into the arrival of the British East India Company, Khan continues to discuss technological developments, or the lack thereof.

In addition to artillery, handheld firearms also became ubiquitous throughout the Mughal Empire. Chapter 5 examines the nature and development of handguns in the Mughal Empire. In addition to local factors, Khan includes a good discussion of Western influences, which in this instance includes the Ottoman Empire. Western influences included new technologies in firearms manufacture. However, not all of these became widespread. As a result, stagnation occurred particularly in terms of standard weapons. The preferred weapon became the matchlock, even after other technologies surpassed it. Why the matchlock remained the weapon of choice ties into chapter 6, which discusses the role of the matchlock musket in the centralization of Mughal authority.

Mughals also used musketeers to maintain their authority. Babur began his career with a scant musket bearing force of just over a hundred men, but by the time of Akbar, over 35,000 musketeers existed in the Mughal military. One reason for this was that, despite the cost of their weapon, the musketeers were actually less expensive than garrisoning cavalry forces. The expense of feeding the man and his horse grossly exceeded that of a musketeer. Thus, a small but trained force of musket wielding troops allowed the Mughals to assert their authority in even the most remote provinces. This was also possible as, for several decades, the nobility were forbidden to recruit their own forces of musketeers. At the same time, this mass force of troops with firearms undermined the Mughals. As the matchlock became ubiquitous, its cost dropped, but it also was deemed very reliable by those using it. Thus, even when other technologies came into the region, like flintlock muskets, the Mughals failed to adopt them due to economic reasons as well as the matchlock’s popularity.

While firearms aided the process of centralization, it also played a role in undermining the Mughal’s authority. Because of the affordability of matchlocks and the relative simplicity in gaining expertise with them, one did not have to train for years to be a warrior. Ultimately this let to the diffusion of firearms into the general populace and resistance to central authority. Beginning in the late-sixteenth century, not only political rebels, but even peasants opposed to tax collection acquired firearms. As domestic tensions grew, the widespread use and manufacture of matchlock muskets played a role in the breakdown of central authority, and the Mughals, despite several innovative attempts, failed to halt the eventual Balkanization of their empire. Khan’s work is impressive and is the result of twenty years of research that ranged over four hundred years of history. Utilizing Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, and English primary sources and supplemented by a wide array of secondary works, Iqtidar Khan has produced an excellent work. The four appendices are useful supplements dealing with the use of firearms by the Mongols, the analysis of terminology in a couple primary sources, and the origins of the Purbias, who were gunners for a few Indian states in the 1500s. The volume also contains almost thirty illustrations of firearms and their use. These dramatically illustrate Khan’s points as well as show the reader the variances between the weapons.

Yet, the book is not without faults. While Gunpowder and Firearms is an insightful and well-argued work, the author exaggerates the Mongols’ use of gunpowder. While it is true that the Mongols never met a weapon they did not find a use for, there is no concrete evidence that the Mongols used gunpowder weapons on a regular basis outside of China. Indeed, the author recognizes this and notes that his claims are based on Persian terms which could be interpreted as firearms. Unfortunately, while many of these terms such as manjaniq are used to refer to cannons, during the medieval period manjaniq meant a mangonel. It is plausible that in later periods, the Mongols did make more extensive use of gunpowder weapons, but in period of the conquests (1206-60), there is inadequate evidence to support Khan’s assertion.

One other minor criticism is the exclusion of Kenneth Chase’s Firearms: A Global History to 1700 (2003). I suspect that, given their publication dates, Chase’s and Khan’s books crossed paths. Although Chase takes a global perspective, the authors reach similar conclusions. Nonetheless, Gunpowder and Firearms will appeal not only to historians of India, but also anyone interested in the development of weapons and military systems or the creation of states. In summary, not only is Iqtidar Alam Khan’s work an impressive study on the diffusion of firearms in India, it will also serve as a model for others pursuing similar research on the spread of technology or goods on a regional basis.

Quote on controls by Gandhi

Here are some words from Gandhi:

“Government control gives rise to fraud, suppression of Truth, intensification of the black market and artificial scarcity. Above all, it unmans the people and deprives them of initiative, it undoes the teaching of self-help”

“I look upon an increase in the power of the State with the greatest fear because, although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality which lies at the heart of all progress”

“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest”

“We find the general work of mankind is being carried on from day to day be the mass of people acting as if by instinct”

“If they were instinctively violent the world would end in no time”

“It is when the mass mind is unnaturally influenced by wicked men that the mass of mankind commit violence. But they forget it as they commit it because they return to their peaceful nature immediately the evil influence of the directing mind has been removed”

“A government that is evil has no room for good men and women except in its prisons.”

History Of The Gun In India

Source: Allsands

This is a history the gun in India. It refers to the armors of the Indian Kings and of the British reign including those of the East India Company.

The legend that the ancient Hindus invented gunpowder can be traced back to the writings of Englishman Nathaniel Halhed in 1776 and a Scotsman Quintin Craufurd in 1790, both of who served in India and became fascinated by the history and religions of this country. Gustav Oppert, a professor of Sanskrit Language at Chennai (previously known as Madras), who translated two ‘ancient Sanskrit manuscripts’, in 1880 to prove to his own satisfaction that “gunpowder and firearms were known in India in the most ancient times.” As many of the statements in his book are palpably absurd like the size of the ‘Aksauhini’ army corps is given as 2,187,000,000 men, and no proper attempts have been made to date his sources. So, Oppert’s theory cannot be accepted. Manuscripts or printed books, which purport to be copies of earlier works, have been particularly tempting to Chinese historians.

In India, King Babar wreaked havoc on the battlefield by using the Muskets in the war for the first time. The most common Muskets found in India are Flintlocks, Brown Bess Muskets and the Percussion Cap. In India, the few flintlocks made by the native gun makers were also close copies of the European type. One often finds a typical Indian stock and barrel equipped with a good quality London-made lock. In the island of Sri Lanka, however, a most unusual fitted to the left-hand side of the stock. The unique scroll-shaped Ceylon form of butt carries the most profuse kind of ornament. The flintlock gun believed to have been made for the last great warrior King of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Raja Sinha, who died in 1687. Both the barrel and wooden stock are overlaid with sheet silver, parcel gilt and embossed with filigree work, and inlaid with rubies. The lock of this gun, however, probably of later date than of the stock, is either of European manufacture or a close copy of one. In East of India the flintlock is rarely found. These at first sight appear to be a three-barreled matchlock revolver. But the jaws of the cock have been turned horizontally to take a flint, and the priming pans, although fitted with the usual side-swinging double pan-cover, are also equipped with pivoted steels with ribbed faces. Joseph Belton, one of the developer of the muskets, pistols and carbines didn’t succeeded in interesting British Ordnance, but some muskets, pistols and carbines made by him were purchased by East India Company.

A gadget not found on European guns is the small pricker for cleaning the touchhole, which is chained to a container, fastened to the stock just below the pan. The Indian methods of making gun barrels are recounted in full by the Lord Egerton of Tatton in his work ‘A Description of Indian and Oriental Armour’. A part from his interesting description of the damascening and graining of the surface of the metal, he reveals that some of the longer barrels consist of four pieces of cylindrical iron joined together.

The shape of the stock of the Indian matchlock gun, or ‘toradar’, as it was called, varies according to the geographical location of its manufacture. In the North and particularly in the state of Sind, the butt has a very pronounced curve and opens out into a large fishtail shape. This is known as the Afghan stock, as it is modeled after the guns of the neighboring hill tribes of Afghanistan. But where as the Afghan gun is usually of crude manufacture the Indian model is often distinguished by a heavy damascened barrel with a muzzle fashioned as a monster’s head and a stock ornamented enameled plaques rivaling the best productions of Persia.

In the central regions the curve of the Butt is less pronounced, but a distinct notch is cut in the top of the Butt just behind the breach. The true Indian stock favored by the Rajputs and the Marathas has a very slim, straight stock of pentagonal section capable of supporting only a light barrel. Iron, brass or silver plates nailed to each side of the lock housing strengthen it. Although its design is severe in line, the decoration can be magnificent. Even on the plainest of guns, the metal sidepieces are of watered steel with restrained chiseling. If silver or brass is used the engraving and embossing can be profuse. The craftsmen used their fine arts to decorate them.

From the beginning, the European settlers and merchants had coveted the luxurious pelts the Indian collected in his native habitat. Among other things, the Indian, in his turn, coveted European firearms and, the laws of economics begin what they are; the two soon began to change hands. And active trade in guns had developed during the seventeenth century, but it was not until the early 1700’s that a special trade gun was devised for barter.

The Indian knew what he wanted in a gun and the trading companies strove to produce it a price that would permit a pleasingly exorbitant profit. Long, heavy guns were completely unacceptable to the aborigines. There were unimportant details the Indians insisted upon because they were used to them: a serpent-shaped side plate opposite the lock, a deep-trigger guard, and even British proof marks. Straight guns made in America or in Belgium frequently had to bear imitations of these marks before the Indians would accept them.

For almost two hundred years it was the preferred gun of the Indian, and it was made for that whole period without significant alteration. The flintlock suited the Indian perfectly and he preferred on even better arms, which used percussion caps or metallic cartridges. He could make his own flint if he wanted to. A flintlock could be loaded more easily. But with a large touchhole, slapping the butt and jarring some of the charge out of the barrel and into the pan could prime a flintlock. It was customary to hunt buffalo, sheep, and deer in most part of India, for instance, by riding alongside the great beasts and firing at close range, loading rapidly and firing again.

The trade guns were cheap, but they were sturdy. They had to withstand the treatment they received. An Indian seldom cleaned his gun or oiled it as a European would. If the stock broke, he wrapped it with rawhide. Usually he removed the butt plate and made a hide scrapper out of it. Frequently he cut the barrel down to carbine length and made a tent peg or another scrapper from the cut-off portion. He studded the stock with brass-headed tacks, decked it with rawhide, copper wire and scalps. Still, many of these sturdy flintlocks gave dependable service for years.

Brown Bess was the affectionate nickname given to this musket by the British soldier. No one knows how the name originated. Some have tried to link it with Queen Elizabeth, but there were more than a hundred years between the death of the one and birth of the other, so that such an association would have been remote indeed. More likely, the ‘Bess’ was simply a pet name such as men have often applied to gun and the ‘Brown’ stemmed from artificial browning of the barrel and the colour of the walnut stock, which was no longer painted black as it frequently had been in the past.

who’s first ?

Source: Russianspaceweb

Circa 850: The Chinese use some form of gunpowder in making fireworks to celebrate religious festivals.

1232: The Chinese successfully withstand the siege of the town of Kai-fung-fu by the Mongols with the help of “arrows of flaming fire.” (Historians speculate that these true rockets became possible after the Chinese discovered how to distill organic saltpetre — an oxygen producing ingredient — to increase the rate of burning.)

1242: Roger Bacon, an English Franciscan monk, records a secret formula for “gunpowder”: saltpetre 41.2; charcoal 29.4; sulphur 29.4. To achieve a faster rate of burning, Bacon distills saltpeter — the oxygen producing ingredient. The original formula apparently came from China.

1280: Al-Hasan al-Rammah, a Syrian military historian, describes rockets (Chinese arrows) and recipes for making gunpowder in “The Book of Fighting on Horseback and With War Engines.”

1288: Arabs use rockets during the seige of Valencia, Spain. (293)

1379: Gunpowder rockets are used in the siege of Chioggia, near Venice, Italy.

1516: The use of rockets near the Ukrainian city of Belgorod is recorded. (2)

1657: Cyrano de Bergerac publishes Histoire Comiquie Contenant les Etats et Empires de la Lune.

1675: The first appearance of rockets in the Russian city of Ustuyg. (2)

1687: Isaac Newton postulates the Laws of Motion, including his third law which states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It becomes the main theoretical principle of jet propulsion.

1680s: The “Rocket Enterprise” (Raketnoe Zavedenie) is founded in Moscow.

1711: Peter the Great founds the Arsenal artillery enterprise in St. Petersburg, which produced rocket devices as early as 1732. (79)

1770: Capt. Thomas Desaguliers examines rockets brought from India in the Royal Laboratory, Woolwich, England, but fails to reproduce reported range or accuracy. (Some would not even lift from their stands)

1780s: Indian ruler Hyder Ali, Prince of Mysore, uses iron-cased rockets with 8-10-feet (2.4 – 3-meters) balancing sticks against troops of the East India Company. The rockets with a weight of 2.7 – 5.4 kilograms have a range of 2.4 kilometers.

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19th century

1804: Colonel William Congreve provides specifications for the manufacturing of large rockets at Woolwich, England. Within a year, he produces a 10.9-kilogram rocket with a 1,830-meter range. Later, he develops a 14.5-kilogram iron-cased rockets (107 centimeters long and 10-centimeters in diameter). To increase the range, Congreve creates a faster-burning powder.

1806 Oct. 8: 18 British rocket-carrying boats bombard Boulogne (France) with Congreve missiles during the Napoleonic War. Most missiles overshoot the French battleships, instead starting fires in the coastal town.

1807 Sept. 2-7: British rocket boats attack Copenhagen, Denmark, initiating big fires in the city.

1813: The British Royal Military Academy in Woolwich publishes “A Treatise on the Motion of Rockets” by William Moore. The work includes a mathematical description of rocket trajectories, including their movement in air and in vacuum.

1814 Sept. 13-14: The British navy fires Congreve rockets against besieged Fort McHenry, Baltimore, during the War of 1812. The events inspire Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner, which became the American national anthem. The song mentions “the rockets’ red glare.”

1828-29: The Russian Army uses Zasyadko rockets during the Russo-Turkish War.

1840: In England, William Hale, develops spin stabilized rockets, by placing three curved metal vanes in the rocket exhaust. The devices were employed during the Mexican War (1846-48), during the Crimean War (1853-56), in Hungary, Italy, Prussia, and during the American Civil War (1861-65).

1853-56: Russian ships are equipped with rockets during the Crimean War.

1865: Jules Verne’s science fiction novel De la Terre à la Lune (“From the Earth to the Moon”) is published, predicting many aspects of space flight.

1881: While waiting to be executed for his part in the plot to assassinate Czar Alexander II, Nikolai Kibalchich sketches and describes a manned flight vehicle propelled by a solid-fuel engine.

1890: In Germany, Hermann Ganswindt proposes a reaction-powered spacecraft propelled by dynamite charges