Animals have been used in warfare for centuries. Sometimes it makes perfect sense -- horses have pulled chariots, and mules have carried equipment. Other times, it's more like Mickey Rourke unleashing a tiger on Jean-Claude Van Damme, as witnessed in the war documentary Double Team.
And sometimes, it's crazier than that. That's how we wound up with ...
The Mongolian chieftain Timur invaded India in 1398, because when you're Mongolian that's just kind of what you do. He marched on Delhi and was met by the army of Sultan Mahmud Khan, who had 120 war elephants at his command, covered in armor and with giant scimitars attached to their tusks.
"That's OK, guys. I don't want to play anymore."
But that's not the insane use of animals we want to talk about here.
Because do you know what Timur used to counter these unstoppable killing machines? Camels. Flammable, flammable camels.
Confident of victory, Khan ordered his army to advance. Timur needed to do something, and fast. His army was starting to panic, and some of his soldiers were running away. Timur had heard elephants were easily startled, and figuring he had nothing to lose, he uttered the Mongolian equivalent of "Fuck it," ordered all his camels to the front lines, then covered them in straw and oil and set them on fire.
They don't give out crowns like that to the guys who don't light hundreds of camels on fire.
The flaming camels charged forward, probably as a result of being set on fire, and scared the shit out of the elephants. Desperate to get away from the camels, the elephants turned and ran, which was unfortunate for the Indian infantry because they were standing right behind the elephants. Unable to control the stampede, Kahn could only watch helplessly as the elephants tore through his infantry, smashing their heads to atoms. The Indian army was routed in minutes.
Good times were had by all.
Timur went on to sack, pillage and rape the shitnoodles out of Delhi, but he wasn't done there. He had all 120 war elephants rounded up and forced to kneel in front of him, a ceremony during which even the elephants wondered what the hell was going on. Confident that nobody else would think to set their own units on fire, he added the elephants to his army and used them to take Ankara.