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The Battle of Plassey

The Battle of Plassey (1757) was a skirmish while the Battle of Buxar (1764) was a real war

The Battle of Plassey was a skirmish in the true sense as most of Nawab’s confidants wanted to oust the Nawab of Bengal, so they joined hands with the East India Company. The result was the then Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-Daula lost against a small army of Robert Clive.

Why did the Battle of Plassey take place?

There were a few prominent reasons that persuaded the Nawab to fight a battle against the East India Company

  • The company misused the trade privileges that were granted by Mughal Emperor (Farrukhsiyar) in 1717. This adversely affected Nawab’s finances.
  • The English fortified Calcutta without the Nawab’s permission
  • The company mislead the Nawab and gave asylum to a political fugitive, Krishna Das, who was the son of Raj Ballabh, who had fled with immense wealth and treasure against the Nawab’s will.
Fort William Calcutta
Fort William Calcutta

The outcome of the Battle of Plassey

The strong force of 50,000 Nawab was defeated by a handful of Robert Clive soldiers. The Nawab was defeated even before the battle began. A secret alliance was forged between Clive and the traitors of Nawab.

  • Mir Jafar
  • Rai Durlabh
  • Jagat Seth
  • Omichand

The Nawab was captured and killed on Miran’s order who was the son of Mir Jafar. After Nawab’s death, Mir Jafar became the new Nawab of Bengal. The battle was lost in 1757. Seven years later that is in 1764 Battle of Buxar took place.

Image Courtesy World History
Image Courtesy World History

The Battle of Buxar 1764

Mir Jafar after becoming the Nawab of Bengal faced similar problems that were faced by Siraj and therefore he tried to resist the malpractices of the East India Company. The company replaced him with his son-in-law Mir Kasim as the new Nawab. Mir Kasim fed up with the meddling of the company in the internal affairs of Bengal decided to fight against the English by allying with the Nawab of Awadh and the Mughal Emperor. The Battle of Buxar took place between the following entities.

Alliance RepresentativesCompany Representatives
Mir Kasim (Nawab of Bengal)Hector Munro (Major, British Army)
Shuja-Ud-Daulah (Nawab of Awadh)Robert Clive aiding Major Hector Munro
Shah Alam II (Mughal Emperor)
Battle of Buxar

The Real War

The combined might (army) of the three forces lost against the British forces in the Battle of Buxar, the battle proved that a disciplined army supplied with superior equipment and trained soldiers can easily defeat a large army of less trained soldiers. The loss of the Mughal Emperor in the Battle established the might of the English in the Indian subcontinent.

The perception in those times in the minds of people and other provinces was that the Mughal Empire was a strong force not to be messed with. This perception was shattered when the Mughal Emperor (Shah Alam II) had to sign the Treaty of Allahabad with Rober Clive. The real war was won with the outcome of a strong foothold in the Indian subcontinent for the Britishers. The war marked the entry of the beginning of a new rule in India.

Treaty of Allahabad
Treaty of Allahabad 1765

Hence we can conclude that the real war was the Battle of Buxar and not the Battle of Plassey.

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Content Source

This question appeared in the UPSC Civil Services 2022 Mains Exam in History Paper 2 with a word limit of 150 words. So to answer this question a gist of the paragraph on real war is sufficient without mentioning in detail the Battle of Plassey.

Kanishka Singh Rathore

Engineer Financial Planner Editor

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