Theoretically all able-bodied citizens of the Empire were soldiers of the imperial army and could be called upon to render military service in times of emergency. Cavalry was the main arm of the Mughal army. Infantry played only a secondary role as it was primarily used during laying siege. On enrolment a chihra or descriptive roll of the appointee was drawn up showing his name, his father’s mane, his tribe or cast and his place of origin followed by details of his personal appearance. The amount of salary was entered at the bottom of the descriptive roll; last of all came the chihrah-i-aspan or the descriptive roll of horses. The horses were branded on right thigh and this process was known as dagh. There were elaborate rules for periodical musters. Ahadis were a body of gentlemen trooper. The pay of an ahadis was higher than that of an ordinary trooper, more than Rs.500 a month. They were the men of good birth who did not come up to the standard of a mansabdar. They could muster up to five horses and their responsibilities were miscellaneous, as they kept on changing under different kings. The infantry was insignificant as a part of the fighting strength of the Empire while matchlock men and archers were comparatively important. The artillery in spite of the efforts of the emperors never rose to great proficiency and failed to develop as it did in Turkey or in European Countries. The artillery became however much more proficient and copious in Alamgir’s reign. Mir Atish was in charge of the artillery, which consisted on heavy and light pieces.
The exact strength of the Mughal army is difficult to determine; yet it is estimated to be around three lacs in the times of Akbar stationed in different parts of the empire.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, Jan 04, 2006