Reason behind the Plassey Battle – Nawab of Bengal died of extreme old age in April, 1756.
His grandson Siraj-ud-daula succeeded him, a young man timid and suspicious. He was surrounded by foes eager to take his life and throne.
The new Nawab heard that Governor Drake was sheltering one of his enemies at Calcutta, and strengthening the fortifications.
He ordered the British to surrender the refugee and stop further defences.
Governor Drake replied that he knew nothing of any enemies of the Nawab.
Also he was repairing the defences on the river to prevent french surprised attack, as ten years back they surprised Madras.
The Nawab was in a fury at this message, and set off for Calcutta in the heats of June with an army of fifty thousand men.
Battle of Plassey – Siege of Fort William
At noon on Wednesday, the 16th of June, the Nawab’s army poured into the settlement through the unfinished portion of the Maratha ditch.
They set fire to the native bazaar, and, after meeting obstinate resistance, they captured the batteries and breastworks in the avenues.
Plassey Battle – Black Hole of Calcutta Tragedy
He was terribly disappointed at finding very little money and only a poor stock of merchandise.
There were 146 prisoners, and no place of security except the barrack cell, known as the Black Hole. It rarely held more than two or three prisoners, and occupy only eighteen feet square.
In this horrid hole nawab’s soldier drove prisoner into black hole with clubs and swords, and next morning only twenty three came out alive.
Plassey Battle – British Reaction to fall of Calcutta
In June, 1756, Calcutta was lost; the news reached Madras in August. War with France was trembling in the balance.
An army of Europeans and sepoys, under Colonel Clive, was waiting to attack the French in the Deccan.
But the news from Calcutta outweighed all other considerations. Clive arrived to the river Hughly with 900 Europeans and 1,500 sepoys.
Clive Recaptured Calcutta
The expedition reached Calcutta on the 1st of January, 1757.
The Mogul commandant at Fort William fled away in terror, and next morning the British hoisted thier flag over the factory.
The Company’s merchandise, which had been reserved for the Nawab, laid untouched, but Mogul soldiers plundered every house in the town.
Nawab accepts Terms
At this moment, news arrived that war with France had begun. Clive was anxious to make peace with the Nawab in order to fight the French.
Soon Nawab agreed to reinstate the British in all their factories and privileges, and to pay full compensation for all the plunder.
The Nawab, however, never seems to have intended to fulfil his promises. He vacillated, procrastinated, and lied.
Soon his own grandees started plotted against him, and opened up a secret correspondence with Clive.
Eventually, the Nawab sent an army to Plassey, on the route to Calcutta, as if to overawe the British settlement.
The Mir Jafar commanded the Army, however he also the headed the conspiracy for dethroning the Nawab.
Shortly afterwards, the Nawab himself followed Mir Jafar to Plassey. The Nawab army contain 50,000 men and forty pieces of cannon.
Clive advanced from Calcutta to Plassey with 3,000 men and nine pieces of cannon.
The British fought Battle of Plassey on the 23rd of June, 1757, just a year and three days after the Black Hole tragedy.
It was more of a British cannonade than an action between two armies.
Clive expect Mir Jafar to joined him any moment.
The Mir Jafar plotter had sworn to be faithful to both parties, and was mortally afraid of both the Nawab and the British.
He dared not desert the Nawab, and he dared not fight the British. For hours he did nothing.
At last, towards the close of the day, he moved his forces from the field, and made off towards Murshedabad.
Soon Clive advanced to charge the Nawab’s camp, but the Nawab after being deserted and betrayed, and fled in abject terror.
Later he hid himself for a while with a favorite wife and his choicest jewels, but Mir Jafar son took him prisoner and brutally murdered him.
Loot of Bengal
Colonel Clive marched on to Murshedabad, and installed Mir Jafir on the throne as Nawab of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa.
Clive, and Clive alone, was the lord paramount of the hour, the hero of Plassey, the invincible warrior.
The Mir Jafar lavished money and jewels from treasury at Murshidabad on Colonel Clive and his party.
The British officers of the army and fleet received large donations(bribe). A hundred boats loaded with silver went down the river from Murshidabad to Calcutta.