Battle of Buxar

  • Name of the Battle: The Battle of Buxar
  • Venue: Near Buxar. Then within the territory of Bengal, Buxar, presently, is one of the 38 districts of Bihar in India
  • Date and Year: 23rd October, 1764

The Battle of Buxar, a significant battle in the history of India, was fought between British East India Company and the combined forces of Nawabs and the Mughal Emperor. While the East India Company's force was led by Hector Munro, the Indian force was led by the Mughal rulers of three princely states - Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal, Shuja-ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Awadh and Shah Alam II, the Mughal Emperor. Both the Nawabs were governors under the Mughal Emperor. This historic battle was fought on 23rd October, 1764. The battle was fought at a place called Buxar, which was in Bengal during that time and later on it became a part of Bihar, as it was just 130 km west of Patna.

The reasons that led to the Battle

The seeds of the Battle of Buxar were sown after the Battle of Plassey, when Mir Qasim became the Nawab of Bengal. The primary cause was the conflict between the English and Mir Qasim. Mir Qasim was an independent ruler and was the strongest and ablest of all Nawabs. He undertook some reformation, under which there was a reduction in expenditure on administration and palaces; fire locks and guns were manufactured, there was regular payment of salaries, new taxes were imposed and the capital was shifted from Monghyar to Murshidabad, which annoyed the British nobles and officers. The English wanted Mir to remain as a puppet in their hands. But, he always wanted to keep himself away from the British influence. This led to a number of conflicts between him and the English. He was defeated in three successive battles (between June to September 1763) before the Battle of Buxar, which eventually compelled him to flee to Allahabad where he met Shuja-ud-Daulah. In the meantime, after the acquisition of power as the Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II also wanted to combine several states as one physically stronger empire, which included Bengal (Bengal+Bihar+Orissa). But, he also could not overpower the British and was under the shelter of Shuja-ud-Daulah who always wanted to destroy the English supremacy in Bengal. Thus, one of the main causes of hostility between the English and the three rulers was the share of Bengal. Mir Qasim, Shuja-ud-Daulah and Shah Alam II joined hands to fight against the English to establish their sovereignty over the whole of Bengal and reduce the power of the British. They declared war against the English on 23rd October, 1764 at the battleground Katkauli, 6 kilometres from Buxar. This was a war which was fought for just few hours but marked as one of the most significant wars in Indian History.

The Strength of Warring Forces

In the Mughal force, there were 40,000 men in the battle of Buxar, while the English East India Company's Hector Monroe's forces included 10,000 men, out of which 7000 were from British Army (857 European soldiers and 6213 sepoys). The Britishers had formed a stone memorial at Katkauli after the war. In the Battle of Buxar, 847 were killed and wounded from the English forces while on the Indian side, more than 2,000 officers and soldiers were killed.

Aftermath of the battle: Winner and Loser

Winner: Hector Munro
Losers: Combined armies of Nawab Mir Qasim, Nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah & Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II

The historic battle fought between the British and the Indian forces resulted in victory for the British. The three combined army forces of Mir Qasim (Bengal), Shuja-ud-Daulah (Awadh), and Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II met with a crushing defeat under the hands of Major Munro. After the war, Mir Kasim fled to the North-West and died. Shah Alam II left Shuja-ud-Daulah and sought shelter in the British camp. Shuja-ud-Daulah tried to defeat the British till 1765 but was not successful. He later fled to Rohilkhand. According to historical reports and studies, the main cause of defeat of the Mughals was the lack of co-ordination among the various Mughal forces.

The Larger Implications of the Battle

The significant outcomes of this battle were as follows:
  • It led to the signing of the Allahabad Treaty in 1765 by Lord Robert Clive with Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II.
  • With the defeat of Mir Kasim, the rule of Nawabs came to an end.
  • Diwani rights or fiscal rights were secured which meant that the British would administer and manage revenues of large areas which included the present-day West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh, as well as of Bangladesh. The British became the masters of the people of these places.
  • In return of this right, the British would give Rs 26 lakh to the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II.
  • After the Buxar victory, the English armies moved towards Awadh and established their control over Banaras and Allahabad.
  • Shuja-ud-Daulah would pay Rs 50 lakh immediately to the company as expenses of war. He also needed to pay later Rs 25 lakh in instalments.
  • The treaty legalised the East India Company's control over the whole of Bengal. Thus, the British established their control in the eastern part of the country.
  • Ghazipur and its adjacent area were handed over to the East India company.
  • The Allahabad fort became the home of the emperor and he would be protected by few men of the company's army.
  • A vakil of the English would remain in the court of Shah Alam II. But he was not allowed to interfere in the administration of the country.

The overall place and significance of the Battle in the Indian History

The Battle of Buxar paved the way for a more concrete British Empire in India. Though the initial foundation of the British rule in India was laid after the Battle of Plassey by Clive, it became more strengthened after the Battle of Buxar. The East India Company, after the battle of Buxar, gained dominance over entire Bengal. The revenues collected by Shah Alam II from the princely states of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, went into the hands of the company. The Mughal emperor came fully under the control of British. All duties and revenues from the most prosperous Indian province went to the company. It also gained administrative power by controlling the army, finances, and revenues. The responsibility of collecting revenues went to the Nawabs but they had no power while the British East India Company had all the authority to control and also gain benefits from the Nawabs. With the wealth of Bengal, the British could conquer other regions of India. The supremacy of the British was established in the Eastern parts of India. British historian Ramsay Muir had rightly said that Buxar finally riveted the shackles of company's rule upon Bengal.

The battle of Buxar was, indeed, a decisive battle in the Indian history which led to the beginning of the British colonial rule that lasted for almost two centuries, leading to unending exploitation of India. The battle led to the establishment of British sovereignty. It was also served as an eye opener to the political weaknesses and military shortcomings of the Mughal Empire.

Last Updated on : December 9, 2014