Handguns in Hindu military – why the slow adoption?

Part of pANDuranga kANe’s criticism of Shivaji – (I paraphrase) – “His daddy bought guns from the foreigners, but he didn’t even think of opening an ammunitions factory!?” The little bit of Indian gun history (article1) I could find online indicates that Babuur used muskets to great effect.

But medieval Hindu armies were mostly : Infantry, cavalry and artillery. The infantry was mostly not equipped with hand-guns and hand-gun tactics. Is this true? If so why? It turns out that this is false – See responses to the Facebook post here.

Effectiveness of a superior infantry

Consider the consequence of this. Battle of Assaye (1803) (where the ~50k Maratha infantry did include a 10k well equipped European trained infantry) shows the consequence of this inferior infantry, as described in the wikipedia:
“The Maratha cannonade punched holes in the British line, but the infantry maintained a steady pace, closing up the gaps in their ranks as they advanced. The 78th Highlanders were the first to reach the enemy in the southern sector next to the River Kailna. They paused 50 yards (46 m) from the Maratha gunners and unleashed a volley of musket fire before launching into a bayonet charge. …The gunners stood by their cannon but were no match for the bayonets of the British and Madras troops who swiftly pressed on towards the Maratha infantry….They were not trained to attack well-formed infantry or heavily armed European cavalry, and did not play a further part in the battle.”

Comparison with East Asians

Wiki says: “In Japan, muskets were introduced in 1543 by Portuguese merchantmen and by the 1560s were being mass-produced locally.” Popular records state that the daimyo Oda Nobunaga revolutionized musket tactics in Japan by inventing the Maurice-style three-line formation at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575 as an effective check on the massed cavalry charges then in use by his Takeda rival. The total victory he won at this battle quickly led other daimyo to acquire muskets in large quantities, which proved highly effective during the Japanese invasion of Korea in the 1590s ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. At the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, nearly 20,000 muskets were used, comparable to if not greater than the numbers employed on contemporary European battlefields.

Similarly, consider Korea (Wiki says: “in the King Sukjongera (1700’s), the 76.4% of the local standing army in Chungcheong region’s army list were musketeers.”).

Related discussion

  • On FB:
    • Jason notes on ShAhAjI – “not certain about Sivājī-but his eldest son commissions a work on firearms and their use in marathi that seems to have been adopted by the army as a reference right away”
  • PS: This post has been edited several times, thanks to corrections in social media.

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