Battle of Buxar: Significance, Causes and Aftermath

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Battle of Buxar

On 22nd October 1764, the infamous Battle of Buxar took place between the British army led by Henry Munro and a combined alliance of Indian rulers from  Bengal, Awadh, and the Mughal Empire. This historic battle paved the way for the British to rule India for the following 183 years. The British East India Company gradually conquered Indian territories as Europeans arrived in India. After the victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British East India Company had its sights on Bengal. The battle concluded in 1765, with the surrender of the Mughal Emperor and Bengal coming under British rule. Keep reading to know more!

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When was the Battle of Buxar?

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The Battle of Buxar took place on 22nd October 1764 between the English forces and Indian rulers. The English forces battled against a combined army of the Nawab of Oudh, the Nawab of Bengal, and the Mughal Emperor. The war was triggered by the Nawab of Bengal’s misuse of trade privileges, as well as the East India Company’s colonial ambitions.

Background of the Battle of Buxar

Siraj-Ud-Daulah was removed as Nawab of Bengal after the Battle of Plassey, and Mir Jafar (Commander of Siraj’s Army) took his place. The British made Mir Jafar their puppet after he became the new Bengal nawab, but Mir Jafar was involved with the Dutch East India Company. The British supported Mir Qasim (Mir Jafar’s son-in-law) to become the new Nawab, and Mir Jafar quit in favour of Mir Qasim under pressure from the Company. Mir Jafar was given a pension of Rs 1,500 per year but he started revolting against the British eventually.

After consolidating gains made at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British East India Company assembled an army consisting mainly of Indian sepoys and Indian cavalry and sought to assert its control of Bengal against the Mughal Empire. In October 1764, the combined Indian force confronted the British near the town of Buxar. The British, under the command of Sir Hector Munro, were divided into three sections. On the left flank, Major Stibbert commanded regular troops; on the right were the Bengalese troops, commanded by Major Champion. Supporting these in the centre was the Bengal cavalry backed by four companies of sepoys. 

The battle resulted in the 1765 Treaty of Allahabad, in which the Mughal Emperor surrendered the sovereignty of Bengal to the British. Lord Robert Clive, the victor at the Plassey, became the first governor of Bengal.

Also Read: Indian History for Competitive Exams

What led to the Battle of Buxar?

Battle of Buxar
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  • Mir Qasim desired freedom and established his capital from Calcutta to Munger Fort.
  • He also gained the support of foreign experts to train his army, which included some who were in conflict with the British.
  • He treated Indian merchants and English merchants equally, with no special treatment for the latter.
  • For these factors, the English planned to overthrow him, and in 1763, war broke out between Mir Qasim and the Company.

A Closer Look at the Battle of Buxar

Battle of Buxar’s participants and their significance in the battle:

Participants of the Battle of Buxar The role played in the Battle of Buxar
Mir Qasim  He opposed the English’s misuse of “dastak” and “farmans”, consequently he plotted against them by making an alliance with the Nawab of Awadh and Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II.
Shuja-Ud-Daulah (Nawab of Awadh) With Mir Qasim and Shah Alam-II, he formed a confederacy.
Shah Alam II (Mughal Emperor) He desired to remove the English from Bengal.
Hector Munro (British Army Major) From the English side, he led the battle.
Robert Clive After winning the fight, he signed treaties with Shuja-Ud-Daulah and Shah Alam-II.

 Find Out Interesting Historical Facts with our Series on This Day in History!

Events of the Battle of Buxar

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Shockingly it was one of the first biggest defeats of sub-continental India as a combined army of 40,000 belonging to Mughals, Awadh, and Mir Qasim was brutally defeated by the British Army comprising of 10,000 men. One of the primary reasons for this defeat was the lack of coordination among the major three disparate allies. When Mirza Najaf Khan commanded the first flank of the Mughal Army to ambush the British at daybreak, Major Hector was able to form the British lines within twenty minutes and reversed the advance of the Mughals. Consequently, Munro divided the British Army into various columns and particularly pursued the Mughal Grand Vizier Shuja-ud-Daula the Nawab of Awadh who responded by blowing up his boat-bridge after crossing the river This backfired with Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II and his regiment abandoning the war.

battle-of-buxar
Credits: Sir Hector Munro by David Martin at the National Portrait Gallery, London

According to historian John Willaim Fortescue, the casualties from the British side totalled 847 while Indian allies suffered a death of 2000 soldiers. After this, Munro decided to assist the Marathas, who were described as a “warlike race”, well-known for their relentless and unwavering hatred towards the Mughal Empire and its Nawabs.

Immediate Aftermath of the Battle of 1764-65:

  • Mir Qasim took refuge in Oudh.
  • In a final attempt to remove the English from Bengal, he planned a confederacy with Shuja-Ud-Daula and Shah Alam II.
  • In 1764, Mir Qasim’s soldiers battled with Major Munro’s English army.
  • Mir Qasim’s combined army was defeated by the British.
  • Mir Qasim fled the battlefield, while the other two surrendered to the English army.
  • The Treaty of Allahabad, signed in 1765, brought an end to the Battle of Buxar.

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Aftermath of the Battle of Buxar

  • On October 22, 1764, Mir Qasim, Shuja-Ud-Daula, and Shah Alam-II lost the battle.
  • Robert Clive played a key role in Major Hector Munro’s victory in a pivotal battle.
  • In northern India, the English gained a major force.
  • The English were handed the districts of Midnapore, Burdwan, and Chittagong by Mir Jafar (Nawab of Bengal) for the maintenance of their army.
  • Except for a 2% tax on salt, the English were also permitted duty-free trade in Bengal.
  • Mir Jafar’s minor son, Najm Ud-Daula, was declared nawab after his death, but the true power of administration remained with the naib-subahdar, who was appointed or dismissed by the English.

Must Read: Battle of Haldighati

Treaty of Allahabad (1765)

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In Allahabad, Robert Clive, Shuja-Ud-Daulah, and Shah Aam-II signed two important treaties. The following are the main points of the Allahabad Treaty:

Robert Clive and Shuja-Ud-Daulah signed the Allahabad Treaty:

  • Shuja was forced to surrender Allahabad and Kara to Shah Alam II, and he was obliged to pay the Company Rs 50 lakh in war compensation.
  • He was forced to hand over complete control of his property to Balwant Singh (Zamindar of Banaras).

Robert Clive and Shah Alam-II signed the Treaty of Allahabad:

  • Shah Alam was allowed to live in Allahabad, which Shuja-Ud-Daulah had granted him under the Company’s protection.
  • In exchange for a Rs 26 lakh annual payment, the emperor had to issue a Farman granting the East India Company the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa.

Key Points about Battle of Buxar for UPSC Mains

Here are the key points to remember for the Battle of Buxar.

  • The Battle of Buxar took place in 1764 and was fought between the English Forces, and a joint army of the Nawab of Oudh, Nawab of Bengal, and the Mughal Emperor. 
  • Mir Qasim fled to Oudh and planned a confederacy with Shuja-Ud-Daula and Shah Alam II to overthrow the English from Bengal.
  • Mir Qasim’s soldiers met the English army troops and were defeated by the British.
  • Mir Qasim absconded from the battle and the other two surrendered to the English army
  • Shuja-Ud-Daulah became a firm friend of the British and made Awadh as buffer state between English and foreign invasions.
  • The war ended with the Treaty of Allahabad in 1765.

Questions and Answers

The Battle of Buxar took place in _____.

Answer: 1764

In the Battle of Buxar, the English army was commanded by _____.

Answer: Hector Munro

Mir Qasim took refuge in ____.

Answer: Oudh

The combined forces of ____ fought against the British in the Battle of Buxar in 1764.

Answer: Shuja-ud-Daulah, Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, Mir Qasim

The Nawab of Awadh took refuge in ____.

Answer: Rohilakhand

Shuja-Ud-Daulah was the ____.

Answer: Nawab of Awadh

The English gained a major force in ____ India.

Answer: Northern

The English were permitted ____ and ____.

Answer: 2% tax on salt, duty-free trade.

The war ended in ____.

Answer: 1765

____ and Shuja-Ud-Daulah signed the Allahabad Treaty.

Answer: Robert Clive

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