Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/185

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BA TTLE OF PLASSE Y. 1 8 1 have ended thus, if a fresh cause of hostilities had not suddenly arisen. War had just been declared between the English and French in Europe ; and Clive, following the traditions of warfare in the Karndtik, captured the French settlement of Chandarnagar on the Hugli. Sir.ij-ud-daula, enraged by this breach of neu- trality within his dominions, sided with the French. But Clive, again acting upon the policy which he had learned from Dupleix in Southern India, provided himself with a rival candidate (Mfr JaTar) to the throne. Undaunted, he marched out to the grove of Plassey, about 70 miles north of Calcutta, at the head of 1000 Europeans and 2000 sepoys, with 8 pieces of artillery. The Bengal Viceroy's army numbered 35,000 foot and i5 s ooo horse, with 50 cannon. Clive is said to have fought in spite of his council of war. The truth is, he could scarcely avoid a battle. The Nawab attacked with his whole artillery, at 6 a.m. ; but Clive kept his men well under shelter, ' lodged in a large grove, surrounded with good mud-banks.' At noon the enemy drew off into their entrenched camp for dinner. Clive only hoped to make a ' successful attack at night.' Meanwhile, the enemy being probably undressed over their cooking-pots, he sprang upon one of their advanced posts, which had given him trouble, and stormed ' an angle of their camp.' Several of the Nawab' s chief officers fell. The Nawab himself, dismayed by the unex- pected confusion, fled on a camel ; his troops dispersed in a panic; and Clive found he had won a great victory. Mir Jafar' s cavalry, which had hovered undecided during the battle, and had been repeatedly fired on by Clive, ' to make them keep their distance,' now joined our camp ; and the road to Murshi- dabad, the Nawdb's capital, lay open. Mir Jafar, 1757. — The battle of Plassey was fought on June 23, 1757, an anniversary afterwards remembered when the Mutiny of 1857 was at its height. History has agreed to adopt this date as the beginning of the British Empire in the East. But the immediate results of the victory were comparatively small, and several years passed in hard fighting before even the Bengalis would admit the superiority of the British arms. For the moment, however, all opposition was at an end. Clive, again following in the steps of Dupleix, placed his nominee, Mir Jafar,