Today In Fact, 23 June

Today is an extraordinary day for British feats of arms. Today in 1757, just 3,000 British soldiers and their guns fought over 50, 000 Indian and French soldiers to standstill thereby wining the Indian Raj for the British East India Company.

The Battle of Plassey fought against the Nawab of Bengal and his French Allies in retaliation for the Nawab’s attack on British-held Calcutta and the Black Hole incident when the entire British regiment was thrown into the hole and only a few survived.

This battle is recognized as the pivotal conflict for British control over South Asia and it lasted for almost two centuries, making many Brits incredibly wealthy from colonial plunder.

In every way the Nawab and his French allies ought to have crushed the British forces. The Nawab and French artillery for example used over 50 artillery pieces against the British who could only deploy 8. As the battle progressed though, rain fell, and the Brits covered their artillery and gunpowder with tarpaulins. The French artillery failed to take such precautions and their gunpowder was too wet to fire. Other blunders were committed during the battle which saw the Nawab’s overwhelming superiority in numbers dwindle and finally put the Indians and French to flight.

Perhaps the most decisive aspect of the battle was that Lord Clive, the British commander had made a deal with Mir Jafar, a general in the Nawab’s army. It was Mir Jafar’s treachery that won the battle of Plassey and set him up as the new Nawab, a puppet of the British East India Company.

Mir Jafar betrayed his Lord to become the Nawab of Bengal but he found soon enough that his position was as a puppet rather than a sovereign. The thing about temporal and political power is that its pursuit demands treachery and betrayal but it’s possession can merely place one in the power of others more powerful.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (