In 1761, on this day a coalition army of Afghan (Durrani) and their Indian Muslim allies was defeated by a northern expeditionary force of the Maratha Confederacy equipped with French-supplied artillery and cavalry in an epic battle fought at Panipat (Haryana State, India) sixty miles north of Delhi.
Battle of PanipatAhmad Shah Abdali, the founder of the Durrani Empire had been unwilling to allow the Maratha Confederacy to gain territory from the decline of the Mughal Empire. And further northward expansion would inevitably lead to a clash between the two belligerents. Instead, he decided to pre-empt this future conflict: in 1759, he raised an army from the Pashtun tribes and made several gains against the smaller garrisons.
His chief opponent was Malharrao Holkar who gathered an army of between 70,000-100,000 troops with which the Marathas had ransacked the Mughal capital of Delhi. And crucially, he took the time to supplement this force with allies. There followed a series of skirmishes along the banks of the river Yamuna at Karnal and Kunjpura which eventually turned into a two-month-long siege led by Abdali against the Marathas.
Between 60,000-70,000 soldiers were killed in fighting, while numbers of the injured and prisoners taken vary considerably. The result of the last major battle between indigenous South Asian military powers was a further expansion of the Maratha advances in the North. Because soon enough the Marathas would have to deal with an insidious new enemy, the British Empire.