Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Patna massacre, India -German military officer Rheinhardt 'Sombre' massacred colonial British officials

Walter Rheinhardt 'Sombre' massacred the British in colonial Indiaflickr.com
Patna Cemetery, a legacy of struggle between the Nawab of Bengal and the English trading company, East India company in the 18th century is  historically an important European monument in Patna city. It is in a place  which was once a  haveli, now a Patna city hospital right across the Padri-Ki-Haveli - the Catholic church first one in Bihar built in 1713 by Father Joseph  Rovato. The cemetery has  an obelisk on the site - well. It was erected   in memory of 47 Englishmen, who were mercilessly massacred on orders from Nawab Mir Qasim on the 6th and 11th of October,

1763 by Don Samru (Walter Reinhardt Sombre), a German  free booter in the army of Nawab Mir Qasim. The corpses were all thrown into a deep well over which a high minar was erected afterwards. The existing obelisk was built in 1880 in the place of that erected under captain Watson’s supervision in 1765. Among the tombs in the cemetery are those of captain Kinloch, who commanded the expedition to Nepal in 1767. 
Patbna, Bihar cemetery bl.uk/on
 Above image: Patna European cemetery - Watercolor of the European cemetery in Patna from 'Views by Seeta Ram from Patna to Benares Vol. II' produced for Lord Moira, afterwards the Marquess of Hastings, by Sita Ram between 1814-15. Lord Moira, the Governor-General of Bengal and the Commander-in-Chief 
(r. 1813-23), was accompanied by artist Sita Ram (flourished c.1810-22) to illustrate his journey from Calcutta to Delhi between 1814-15.........................................
Disputes between Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal (r.1760-63) and the British company's army resulted in a massacre where about 60 Europeans died in Patna.The cemetery has obelisk-shaped tombs and monuments, and on the right, the  pillar above the grave of the victims has an inscription that reads: 'European Burying ground at Patna.'
Colonial Indiamtholyoke.edu
To get to know how the massacre of British soldiers and civilians  took place, we have to go back on the earliest phases of East India Company's  trading activities in Bengal in 1700s. The English traders had now turned into land-grabbers  as their eyes were glued on the scope of huge revenue from fertile Bengal, After the  dishonest victory at the battle  Plassey in 1757 against Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah's  army, Robert Clive had established  the British rule in Bengal and left for England  with a big booty on 3 Friary 1760. Henry Vansittart (reign:1759 to 1764) became the chief of Ft. William, Calcutta to look after the company operations. Now armed with ruling powers, the council of the Company confirmed Mir Qasim as the new Nawab of Bengal (reign:1760 to 1763) on 20 October 1760 replacing his father-in-law Nawab Mir Jaffer who became a traitor and  helped the English company defeat Nawab Siraj. Not only that he had Siraj killed  in collusion with the British officials.  The British thought they could use Mir Qasim as a puppet Nawab   who could of great service to the company and get as  much trade concessions as possible. Over a period of time Mir Qasim realized his folly and understood what the wily British were up to. His relationship with the company became soured  because there were many private British traders operating  illegally side by side with EIC, not paying duty/tax and the Nawab's treasury incurred heavy loss. of revenue. 

Mir Qasim moved his court to Munger, Bihar  when Gov. Vansittart met the Nawab and assured him to take suitable action on the private traders who did not pay  tax taxes. At Calcutta the Council members protested to the governor regarding payment of taxes, etc. Further, they argued, the Nawab was only a representative of the Mogul ruler and had no authority over them  or the company as they got the permit from the Mogul king. The council sent two members to Munger to warn Qasim who captured them both. Later Qasim seized a boat laden with arms destined for factory and garrison  at Patna. Negotiations having been failed between the Nawab and the EIC, in June 1763 the British army plundered Patna and attacked the citizens. Nawab's army gave no resistance. 

When Mir Qasim  at Munger was informed about the seizure of Patna by the British, he was furious. Just 15 miles away , Nawab Qasim sent his powerful army to recapture Patna. On 1 July 1763 there took place a big battle at Manjihi and subsequently there were many  skirmishes and numerous killings. Again in October when he heard the British capture of fort in Manger, he was in rage and at that time English officials like Fullerton, Hay, Ellis were in Qasim army's custody in the house of one Haji Ahmed. Qasim asked Rienhardt,  a German commander serving him to kill all the English.  Known as Somru, he came to India to serve in the EIC army. He also served the Rajah of Bhartpur and Mogul ruler Shah Alam; the latter gave him a big estate at Sardhana, UP. He married a beautiful slave girl Begum Sombru - Zeb-un-nissa).
Nawab of Bengal. Mir Qasim  en.wikipedia.org/

On the night of 5 October 1763 he came to the house of Haji Ahmed and had all of them killed with musket fire, He neither had remorse nor scruples as to kill all without any reason. The dead included 16 civilians and 35 army men including surgeons, Among the civilian included a lady and children . The only survivor was Fullerton. A pillar was erected in 1880 during the time of Gov. Ashly Eden with inscriptions of 28 names. Before that, EIC got the the house where the massacre of the British had taken place.  
 http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/addorimss/t/019addor0004704u00000000.html