Let’s find out who the battle of Buxar fought between.
The land of Hindustan had seen its fair share of battles and wars. Some were fought over family issues, some over religion, and some over wealth and power. But none of them surpasses the impact of the ‘Battle of Buxar’. This was a battle that changed the history of India, for the worse. This was a battle fought over the difference in intentions. One party was looking to strip everything of this nation while the other was presenting its last line of defence against a foreign parasite.
Buxar is a city in the present-day state of Bihar. The town is very close to the boundary of Uttar Pradesh. Its geo-location is of great importance. The East India Company had its first office in the city of Kolkata. It was their first and largest base. Their expansion was westward. The Mughals had their capital in Agra and at their peak, even Bengal and Bihar were under their rule. They lost Bengal to the East India Company. Battle of Buxar was their last stand against the British expansion.
The Battle of Buxar was a conclusion to a rivalry that was a decade old. The East India Company had displaced the Nawab of Bengal after winning the Battle of Plassey. They had promised Mir Qasim the role of governor of Bengal in return for his alliance with the Company. But Mir Qasim was unaware that he was nothing but a puppet in the hands of the East India Company. He was pressured to pay more and more taxes to the company in exchange for their protection. Soon Qasim realized that the company would run him bankrupt. So he decided to move the capital of Bengal further away from the east coast.
The company saw this action as a rebellion and replaced Qasim with his father-in-law, Mir Jafar. Jafar had always been more loyal to the Company. In search of revenge, Qasim went to the Nawab of Awadh, Shuja-Ud-Daula. Shuja promised Mir Qasim to help him regain his kingdom and drive the Britishers off the land. Both Qasim and Shuja then went to the Mughal king in Delhi, Shah Alam the second. Shah Alam saw this alliance as the opportunity to reclaim the lost power of Islamic dynasties. He too agreed to help.
The alliance of Qasim, Shuja, and Alam now waited for the right time to strike. Robert Clive was the British army commander in the battle of Plassey. He had earned himself quite a reputation for being a strategic mastermind. Robert was awarded a doctorate by Oxford University and was to leave India.
The absence of Robert Clive triggered the alliance to attack. The East India Company had Hector Munro lead the counterattack.
Buxar was chosen as the battlefield. The alliance outnumbered the Company four to one. The battle started on the morning of 22nd October 1764. But it only lasted four hours. Though the alliance looked strong, they were divided and had their agendas. Just after the first counter-attack by the Company, Shuja-Ud-Duala fled from the scene and destroyed the bridge behind, leaving Shah Alam trapped. Mir Qasim fled the scene with a few of his trusted men and his wealth. Shah Alam, who was trapped, negotiated with the Company and agreed to sign a treaty as a gesture of surrendering.
This battle and its result paved the way for the British expansion. As a result of their loss, the Britishers gained a massive chunk of land including present-day Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. Even more significant was the reputation that came with this win. An alliance of three major kingdoms surrendered in just a few hours. This reputation helped the Company negotiate with many smaller kingdoms. And hence the battle became the stepping stone for the British takeover of India.