THE BATTLE OF BUXAR – 1764
THE BATTLE OF BUXAR – 1764
- The combined army of Mughal Emperor – Shah Alam II, Nawab of Awadh – Shuja-ud-daula and Nawab of Bengal – Mir Qasim faced the British East India Company in a town known as Buxar on the banks of Ganges, on 23rd October, 1764 about 130 km west of Patna.
- The British troops led by Hector Munro won the battle inspite of facing an army multiple times larger than theirs. The primary reason for the loss of Mughals was poor coordination and mutual hostilities.
- Shah Alam ll was not going along with Shujaud-daula while Mir Qasim was reluctant to engage with the British. Shuja-ud-daula left his soldiers and allies on the battlefield. He was pursued by Hector Munro’s forces but he blew a bridge after crossing it.
- Mir basim decamped with Rs 3 million worth of gemstones and later committed suicide. It was Shah Alam ll who remained on the battlefield with some of the abandoned forces of Shuja-ud-daula. Finally, he had to negotiate a settlement with the British. THE BATTLE OF BUXAR – 1764
- Shah Alam II had to sign the treaty of Allahabad with the British in 1765. As per the treaty, the British secured Diwani rights of almost 100 million acres of land (which included present day Bengal, Bihar and Odisha) in return for annual tribute of 2.6 million. This had hitherto been enjoyed by the Nawab of Bengal.
In fact, as the viceroy of Bengal, the Nawab used to discharge two functions namely –
- Nizamat – military power and criminal justice
- Diwani – revenue collection and civil justice
- Thus, the British directly got the power of revenue collection and civil justice while Nawab retained the power of police and criminal justice. They also secured from Shah Alam II a formal grant of northern Circars which the British had wrested from the French.
- This ascended the British reputation and also made them the masters of almost one-eighths of India. The Company became the virtual ruler of Bengal as it had revenue powers and a decisive military power. The Company also secured for him, the districts of Kora and Allahabad.
- The emperor resided in the fort of Allahabad for six years as pensioner of the Company till he was escorted back to Delhi by the Marathas in May 1771 under Mahadji Scindia.
- Nawab of Awadh, Shuja-ud-daula was restored the subah of Awadh in return for agreeing to permanently station a subsidiary British force there. Also the Nawab had to pay for the same and the force was guaranteed to defend the Nawab against any aggression. THE BATTLE OF BUXAR – 1764
- This agreement was later made a standard British political manoeuvre. Warren Hastings, the British Governor-General, employed this tactic to make Indian states perennially dependent on the British whilst gaining the advantage of stationing British troops around the country, free of cost.
- The Mughal authority had already declined in northern India. Moreover, by the treaty of 1752, the Marathas had essentially taken over administration of all the subahs of the Mughal Empire, and had established their right to collect Chauth across these subahs.
- In return, they would protect the north-west frontier of the Mughal Empire from Afghan invasion. This resulted in nine years of Maratha-Afghan struggle to establish control over the Empire, and the subah of Punjab, which was claimed by both. THE BATTLE OF BUXAR – 1764
- But Marathas were not able to consolidate their influence due to internal conflicts. The British took advantage of this and the Battle of Buxar was an important step in that direction.
- It was the second most significant battle after the Battle of Plassey as it consolidated the foothold that the British had gained after their win in Plassey in 1757.