Saturday, November 23, 2013
The war elephant allowed royalty and generals to engage in battle with each other in Homeric fashion. The classic arrangement as described in Thai military manuals was to have the high-status warrior sit in the front where we would normally expect the mahout or elephant driver to be. He would be helped by two soldiers who could be found further back on the elephant. One would sit on a raised dais that functioned as an open howdah where an assortment of pole weapons were kept; the other would be the mahout who directed the elephant's movements from the rear. The difference between this classic arrangement with a 3-man crew and the four-man crew shown in the 1866 photograph in the "Lincoln letter" blog post may be the addition of a hand-gunner (possibly the second man from the right in the photo).
Posted by Wade G. Burck