Battle of Bilgram (1540)

The Battle of Bilgram in 1540 took place between Humayun and Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah defeated Humayun in the Battle of Bilgram.

The army of Sher Shah had already occupied Lucknow and Kanauj and Sher Shah himself reached near Kanauj. in February 1540 Humayun proceeded to meet the enemy and reached Bhojpur near Kanauj, and set up his encampment there. Sher Shah, who had already arrived, pitched his camp on the other side of the Ganga opposite Kanauaj at a distance of about 23 miles from Humayun’s encampment. Humayun’s troops continued to swell; their number reached two lakhs. One month passed, neither side taking the offensive. The only activity displayed by Humayun was to cross the Ganga to the side of the town of Bilgram. He encamped at a distance of 3 miles from the Ganga and near Bilgram.

On May 15 there was heavy shower of rain which swamped the Mughal camp. It was consequently decided to shift the encampment to a higher spot in the neighbourhood. As the Mughals issued out of their camp to make a demonstration on 17th May, 1510, preparatory to the shifting of their camp which was fixed for the following day, Sher Shah ordered his men to take the field and launch an attack on the enemy. Sher Shah cleverly deprived Humayun of the use of his heavy guns. Moreover, the Mughals, who were not yet ready for battle, were taken by surprise. Humayun had already Appointed Mirza Haider his generalissimo under whose direction the Mughal troops were quickly marshalled in battle array. Humayun and Mirza Haider commanded the centre. The left wing, which was near the river, was placed under Hindal, while the right wing was commanded by Yadgar Nasir Mirza. Askari led the advance guard. The front was stiffened by 5,000 matchlock men. There was no reserve and no flanking parties. The effective fighting strength of the Mughals was 40,000.

The heavy Mughal guns could not be drawn to the battle-ground in the hurry of the contest, the Mughal artillery played no part. The artillery was totally useless.The army of Afgan King Sher Shah Suri completely defeated the Mughal army of Humayun. Humayun had to flee to Agra. He crossed the river with difficulty. A vast number of his men were drowned in the Ganga and he had only a small band of followers left.