Q.1 (a) The battle of Plassey was “not a great battle but a great betrayal.” Comment.
The Battle of Plassey was a decisive victory of the British East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal, Sirajudaullah on 23 June 1757.
Before the battle, British, worried about being outnumbered and also French help to Nawab, formed a conspiracy mainly with Siraj-ud-Daulah’s demoted army chief Mir Jafar, along with others such as Yar Lutuf Khan, Jagat Seths, Omichund and Rai Durlabh.
Popular discontent against the Nawab flourished in his own court. The Seths, the traders of Bengal, were in perpetual fear for their wealth under the reign of Siraj, contrary to the situation under Alivardi’s reign.
William Watts, the Company representative at the court of Siraj, informed Clive about a conspiracy at the court to overthrow the ruler. The conspirators included Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh, Yar Lutuf Khan Jagat Seths and Omichund, a merchant and several officers in the army.
When communicated in this regard by Mir Jafar, Clive referred it to the select committee in Calcutta. The committee passed a resolution in support of the alliance. A treaty was drawn between the British and Mir Jafar to raise him to the throne of the Nawab in return for support to the British in the field of battle and the bestowal of large sums of money upon them as compensation for the attack on Calcutta.
On 23rd June 1757 was the Battle of Plassey fought between the armies of Siraj-ud-daula and Clive. The Nawab’s army contained 50,000 infantry, 28,000 Cavalry and Clive’s army consisted only 3,000 men including English Soldiers. Out of three division of Nawab, One division was commanded by Mir Jafar. From the beginning of the battle, Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh and Yar Lutuf Khan assembled their troops near the battlefield but made no move to actually join the battle.
Siraj, who distrusted his generals and had already been warned of impending defeat by his astrologer (who had possibly been bribed), lost his nerve when Mir Jafar advised retreat. Siraj fled on a fast camel. His demoralized army followed suit. He was killed by Miran, the son of Mirzafar.
The battle of Plassey was not important from the military view-point. It was a mere skirmish. No military superiority was shown by the English army. The Nawab’s camp was deserted that lead to victory of Lord Clive. Lord Clive’s diplomacy excelled which assured win even before the real battle. He won the battle almost without fighting. The battle was not won by military might but deceit. According to some historians: it was a transaction in which the bankers of Bengal and Mir Jafar sold out Nawab to the English.”
Hence, the battle was Plassey was not a great battle but a great betrayal.