War elephant  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A war elephant was an elephant trained and guided by humans for combat. Their main use was to charge the enemy, trampling them and breaking their ranks and instilling terror. A division of war elephants is known as elephantry. 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 cannon that finally concluded the use of the combat elephant at the end of the 19th century, thereafter restricting their use to engineering and labour roles.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "War elephant" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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