Ever since he donned the robes of Peshwa in 1720 at the young age of twenty, Bajirao - I set about creating a force from amongst the simple, cheerful and vigorous marathas around him. His generals came from all classes. One of them was a shepherd; another a low-caste Maratha. Caste was no bar to promotion; he looked for qualities of leadership. After the death of Shivaji, the Maratha army had practically ceased to exist. He brought life into it by leading his troops personally in battle. Bajirao brought about a major change in the psyche of his mounted troops. He made full use of theri mobility to charge enemy infantry and cavalry alike. He was constantly on move with his army. He never spent long periods of inaction at Pune.
His first test as a field commander came at Palkhed when he faced the strong army of the 55 year old Nizam, a veteran of many wars who had not known defeat in battle. he first made the Nizam chase him all over north Maharashtra, and finally , with his eye for ground, successfully separated till then invincible Nizam from his main force, cut off his rations and water supply and thus made him sign submissing treaty. He humbled the Nizam a second time at Bhopal using the similar tactics. With his ability to ride long distances with his troops, he reached Delhi despite the route being barred by the armies of two powerful Mughal sardars and created much fear in the mind of the emperor that latter made preparations to leave Delhi.
His generous behaviour towards his enemies achieved much for spreading and consolidating Maratha influence upto the Yamuna in north. The high-caste Bramhin that he was, he fought as well as the Kshatriyas, if not better.