1759 - British relief of Patna

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The main campaign took place from February to June 1759

Description of events

During February 1759, major-general Robert Clive received an earnest appeal from Mir Jafar, the nawab of Bengal, for British advice, assistance, and troops.

The prince Ali Gauhar (future Shah Alam II) who had rebelled against his father Azizuddin Alamgir II, the Mughal emperor, succeeded in collecting a numerous army; at the head of which he was marching with the avowed intention of invading the territories of the nawab Mir Jafar. Prince Ali Gauhar had offered Clive large rewards for the countenance and support of the British in his undertaking; but was informed that any attempt to set at defiance the authority of the emperor, or any attack on the territories of Mir Jafar, would be relented by the British government. Copies of this correspondence were forwarded to the nawab Mir Jafar, who was informed that a British force was preparing to march to his assistance.

On February 25, Clive left Calcutta (today Kolkata) with all his available force. He took with him the 5 companies (the so called left wing of the regiment, the 5 coys of the right wing were already participating to the siege of Masulipatam) of the Bengal European Regiment left at Calcutta and Chandernagore (today Chandannagar), 100 European Artillery, and 2,500 Sepoys.

Calcutta and Chandernagore were now garrisoned by the sick and recruits of the Bengal European Regiment, a few gunners, some lately-raised Seppoys levies and the Calcutta Militia and Volunteers.

On March 8, the British force reached Murshidabad where it was joined by the army of the nawab of Bengal under Mir Jafar's eldest son, Miran.

On April 9, the united forces arrived before Patna, to find that prince Ali Gauhar, who had been vigorously assaulting that city, had raised the siege on hearing of the near approach of Clive's army.

Prince Ali Gauhar had been reinforced by M. Law and his Frenchmen; but his army, composed of men of different nationalities and conflicting interests, had become so demoralised, that the prince was forced to take refuge within the territories of the rajah of Bundelkhand.

Clive, having repaired the defences of Patna, injured during the late siege, now cleared the country of the remnants of prince Ali Gauhar's rebel army, and brought into subjection several petty chiefs in arms against the nawab; returning before the end of April to Patna. Here he left a detachment under captain Cochrane, composed of 1 coy of the Bengal European Battalion; a detail of artillery with 2 field-pieces and 5 coys of Sepoys; and, retracing his steps, reached Calcutta with his main force early in June.

In reward for these services Clive received something more than expressions of gratitude; Mir Jafar presenting him with the charge of zamindar (tax collector) of those districts south of Calcutta which had previously been rented to the East India Company, and the income of which was ₤ 30,000 per annum. These rents were afterwards a subject of contention between Clive and the East India Company.

References

This article is essentially a compilation of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Innes, P. R.; The History of the Bengal European Regiment, now the Royal Munster Fusiliers and how it helped to win India, 2nd ed., London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1885, pp. 95-96