Battle of Buxar, 1764: The defining Battle of India

Circumstances leading to the Battle of Buxar

Battle of Buxar was fought on 22nd Oct 1764 between an Indian alliance comprising Mughal Empire Shah Alam II, Nawab Shuja-Ud-Daula of Awadh & Mir Qasim of Bengal on one side & forces of the English company led by Hector Munro on the other side. This battle was the culmination of a fight that commenced between Mir Qasim & English Company in June 1763.

Battle of Buxar was a war of circumstances rather than intentions because at that time neither company nor Mir Qasim wanted a fight. Mir Qasim set on the throne of Bengal in 1760 by replacing Mir Jafar. He was a capable & ambitious ruler & wanted to revive the fortune of Bengal. To remain away from companies’ influence Mir Qasim shifted his capital from Murshidabad to Munger. He established a gun factory in Munger.

The company had also received everything that he wanted in 1760. He was busy exploiting the resources of Bengal. The difference between Nawab Mir Qasim & English Company emerged over other issues of misuse of Dastak. When the company didn’t take concerns of Nawab seriously, he abolished all duties on internal trade. This attack of Nawab made Dastak meaningless. The company demanded the re-imposition of Dastak to continue to enjoy privileges.

This issue resolved peacefully when the company agreed to check the misuse of Dastak & Nawab to re-impose international duties. When it was appearing as if everything was going in smoothly the high handed behavior of Mr. Ellis. He entered Patna fort and punished some officers of Nawab. This behavior of Mr. Ellis exhausted the patience of Nawab Mir Qasim. He attacked companies established at Patna resulted in the commencement of the fight between two.

In the conflict that followed Mir Qasim got defeated, he lost the throne of Bengal to Mir Jafar & then allied by joining hands with Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II & Shuja-Ud-Daula of Awadh to fight the battle of Buxar against the English Company.

Significance of the Battle of Buxar

battle of buxar was fought on 22nd October 1764, East India Company

The battle of Buxar was considered the most decisive battle ever fought because, in this battle, three out of the most important power (India) got defeated on a single day. The victory of English forces transformed a commercial entity into the biggest political power in India. Theoretically, the entire Mughal Emperor had lost in the battle of Buxar because Mughal emperor Shah Alam II was one of the defeated parties.

The victory of the English Company in this battle proved the military superiority of English. It was a hard-fought battle, both the parties made every possible effort to tam tables in their favor. Till the very end, nobody was sure of the outcome. The superior leadership of Hector Munro resulted in the victory of the Indian Company over the Indian alliance.

The intensity of the battle can be comprehended from fact that 847 soldiers were lost by the English side & casualty on the Indian side was more than 2000. The outcome of the Battle of Buxar conferred the redirect of Plassey. The English victory in this battle proved that the Indian state had degenerated politically and militarily. Indian arms & leadership was no match to English Company. The outcome of the battle of Buxar made the English Company master of Bengal because the company got Diwani rights of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa through provisions of the treaty of Allahabad.

The establishment of companies’ control over Bengal sealed the faith of India because once the company got well established/entrenched in Bengal. It was quite clear that the company was going to prevail over other Indian contenders.

Causes of success of East India Company

Nawab failed to see through English design, fail to understand the attitude & outcome of English Company as a result of which company could spread its wing in Bengal gradually. The degenerated character of nobility (Indian) helped the English Company greatly because it allowed the company to implement a policy of divide & rule. The political-military degeneration of Bengal in particular & entire Mughal Emperor in general unable to English Company to defeat Nawab quite easily.

The scientific & technological backwardness of Indian weaponry also contributed to the failure of Indian forces against Bengal Company. Guns used by English were far more accurate & effective. Most of the Indian soldier carrying traditional weapons. The superior leadership of the English Company made the task of the conquest of Bengal much easier. Company officers like Robert Clive & Hector Munro rose to the occasion to face the challenge. This quality of leadership was the biggest difference between the Indian side & the English Company.

The victory of the English Company in the Battle of Plassey & Battle of Buxar had made it defector power in Bengal. Treaty of Allahabad converted the company into dejure power because through this treaty Mughal Emperor legitimized the company’s control over Bengal.