Combat of Khanua, late February 1527

The combat of Khanua of late February 1527 was one of a series of setbacks that discouraged Babur's army in the period before his great victory over the Rajputs at Khanua in the following month.

Late in 1526 Rana Sangha of Mewar began an advance towards Babur's new capital at Agra. This worried the Afghan governor of Bayana, who had been holding out against Babur, enough to convince him to surrender the town to Babur. A garrison was thrown into the place, and it was soon being besieged by Rana Sangha. This gave Babur time to gather his scattered troops at Agra, and in mid-February Babur's army began to advance west from Agra, eventually camping at Sikri, just over twenty miles from the city.

Babur spent some time in this camp, while his begs took turn to take patrols out to the west to scout for the Rana's men. At some point before 25 February it was 'Abdu'l-'aziz's turn to take command of the scouting party. He was an experienced commander who had fought at Panipat, and who would take part in the battle of Khanua, but on this occasion he was careless. His force of 1,000-1,500 men was detected by Rana Sangha, who sent 4,000-5,000 men to attack it. Despite being outnumbered 'Abdu'l-'aziz attacked, and was quickly overwhelmed. Many of his men were taken prisoner, although 'Abdu'l-'aziz himself must have escaped.

Babur responded by sending a relief force to the aid of the scouting party. This force was led by Kamalu'd-din Muhibb-i-'ali, the son of Nizamu'd-din 'Ali Khalifa Barlas, one of Babur's longest serving counsellors. This force was also defeated. It would appear to have split up during the ride towards Khanua, for Khalifa's maternal uncle Tahir-tibri was overcome because his horses weren't fast enough to keep up with the main force. Muhibb was also defeated, but was saved from falling into captivity by the actions of one of his subordinates. The relief force was then pursued for two miles before reaching the safety of part of the main army.

This defeat, combined with news of setbacks from the siege of Bayana, lowered the morale of Babur's men, forcing him to take drastic measures - first he gave up wine, and then he declared the fight a holy war. Between them these measures improved the morale of his men enough for them to win a decisive victory at Khanua (16 March 1527).

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 May 2010), Combat of Khanua, late February 1527 ,

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