The Second Battle of Panipat marked the beginning of Akbar's rule and also his territorial expansion. It was fought in 1556, between the army of Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (Hemu) and the forces of Akbar. This was during the early phase of dominance of Mughals in India where, their rule was restricted to parts of Punjab, Delhi and Afghan.
It was the victory at the second battle that further consolidation and expansion of Mughal empire took place. Akbar's opponent was Hemu who had large forces as compared to Akbar.
Hemu was the Prime Minister of Adil Shah Suri of the Suri Dynasty. He was also known as Hemachandra Vikramaditya. A month before the second battle of Panipat took place, Hemu attacked Delhi and won over Akbar's forces in the Battle of Delhi 1556. He then crowned himself as Samrat Hemachandra Vikramaditya. However, the following month in November 1556 Akbar counter attacked Hemu at Panipat and took over the rule of Delhi.
Thirty years after Babur had defeated Ibrahim Lodi, the Mughal army assembled once again at Panipat under the leadership of Akbar. Ali Quli Khan Shaibani was sent by Akbar with a strong cavalry unit to destroy the train of Hemu's artillery which was weakly guarded. This proved to be a major handicap for Hemu. Although Hemu had lost his artillery to the Mughals even before the actual battle started, his forces were still numerically superior to those of Mughals.
Hemu's army was composed of 30,000 strong cavalry and a mighty contingent of 500 elephants. Hemu led his army from the front, atop an elephant named Hawai. The Mughal military formation was on the traditional lines with left and right flanks and vanguard assisting the centre. There were at least 10,000 horses in the cavalry of Mughals. Akbar and Bairam Khan stayed in the rear of their forces, 8 miles from the battleground.
Panipat witnessed another fierce battle which echoes the maxim that 'numerical superiority no guarantee to attain victory in wars', rather it is battlefield tactics that matters.
In the battle Hemu was wounded by a stray arrow and captured. Later, Akbar's regent, Bairam Khan beheaded Hemu. After the Second Battle of Panipat, the victors occupied Delhi and Agra and the sovereignty of Akbar over Delhi was confirmed.