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Battle of Plassey: How treachery and trapaulins changed completely changed Indian history…

Wars have always played a very important role in shaping our history. Some lead to setting up of new ruling class ( Battle of Panipat), some lead to defeat of the underdog (Maharana Pratap in haldighati) and some mark the beginning of a new era by changing an emperor’s heart ( Ashok and Kalinga war).

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However, there are some wars whose results are decided not be military superiority but by pure stroke of luck and this turn of events changes the complete flow of history as we know it. Battle of Plassey in India was one such instance. Here is a sequence of events which shows how unlucky the Nawab of Bengal was in the Battle of Plassey.

Nawab for Bengal tries to evict East India Company
Siraj-ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal, did not share his grandfather’s esteem for the English settlements. He tried to evict the East India Company from Bengal on the excuse that they were increasing their fortifications against him and were harbouring political offenders.

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The Black Hole of Calcutta 
The Black Hole of Calcutta was a small dungeon in the old Fort William in Calcutta, India, where troops of the Nawab of Bengal held British prisoners of war after the capture of the fort. It is claimed that following the fall of the fort, British and Anglo-Indian soldiers and civilians were held overnight in conditions so cramped that many died from suffocation, heat exhaustion and crushing. The precise number of deaths have been the subject of controversy but the incident set the stage for a battle between Bengal and British forces.

The mismatched armies of India and East India Company
In battle of Plassey, Clive’s army  comprised 950 European Troops, 2,100 native troops, 60 sailors and 100 artillerymen. At the same time, Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army comprised 40,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry. It was literally the plot of 300 except for the fact that smaller army won due to sheer luck and politics

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No Tarpaulins with Bengal Army and Rain: An unexpected stroke of luck for East India Company
Before the battle, a heavy rainstorm came on, continuing for an hour. The English troops were used to campaigning in a country where the monsoon had such an impact. They produced tarpaulins, and covered the artillery ammunition to keep it dry. Siraj-ud-Daulah’s artillery did not have tarpaulins and much of their powder was ruined by the rain, and rendered unusable.Mir Madan Khan, Siraj-ud-Daulah’s one reliable commander, launched on attack on british army and was mortally wounded.

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The treachery: A whole country lost due to treachery of 3 people
The 3 treacherous generals including Mir Jafar, adviced Siraj-ud- daula to leave and began the withdrawal to the camp, the artillery leading the column. They were constrained in their treachery, in that theirs was a personal contract with the English, while the rest of the army was generally still faithful to their Nawab. Siraj-ud-Daulah however was captured and killed after the battle.

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Following the Battle of Plassey, in accordance with the treaty Mir Jafar became Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It was however largely an empty honour as the real power in Eastern India was now the English East India Company. This paved the way for 200 years of colonial rule in India.
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