Talk:Battle of Buxar

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How is Battle of Buxar part of the seven years war?--Vinay84 (talk) 06:51, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

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An 1899 book is "too outdated" to be a valid source? Since when?[edit]

User: RegentsPark has reverted edits giving casualty figures for the Battle of Buxar on the grounds that the source, Fortescue's A History of the British Army, was originally published in 1899 and is therefore "too outdated" to be used on Wikipedia. User:RegentsPark then replaced the casualty figures given by Fortescue with different casualty figures that were unsourced. I have restored the edits reverted by User:RegentsPark on the following grounds: (a) Fortescue's History is generally regarded as an authoritative work and is still in modern print. (b) The fact that a source is 117 years old does not necessarily mean that it is "outdated". (c) Where in Wikipedia Policy does it say that a source must be below a certain age in order to be usable? Wikipedia articles regularly cite sources that are quite a bit older than Fortescue's History. RobJohn1964 (talk) 11.34 26 October, 2016

@RobJohn1964: Hi. It is a general rule of thumb (and I'm sure that there's a related Wikiproject guideline somewhere) for India-related history articles to avoid colonial-era sources where possible. This is because they are frequently skewed and dated particularly when it comes to topics on ancient India. But, as you say, any (reliable) source is better than no source. And from a cursory look, Fortescue is still cited with some regularity in modern sources. That said, a quick Google reveals that his numbers don't appear to be universally agreed upon; for example, in p.160 of The Cambridge Illustrated Atlas of Warfare (1996), the author states that the EIC casualties amounted to "733 killed, wounded, and missing including 69 Europeans" while "their opponents lost 6,000 men". But this source only provides a brief paragraph on the battle. A better and more authoritative modern source will be preferable. Incidentally, the copy of Fortescue's volume III has the casualty numbers on p.104 and not 102. If you're citing from a different edition, please insert the appropriate details (and ISBNs if available) into the citation. Thanks.--Cpt.a.haddock (talk) (please ping when replying) 08:53, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
@Cpt.a.haddock: Hi. I was quite unaware of the policy of avoiding, wherever possible, colonial-era sources. If I can find more up-to-date sources for casualties for the Battle of Buxar, I will certainly provide them. The version of the Fortescue book that I used was the 2004 publication by The Naval and Military Press Ltd; which has the relevant casualty info on page 102. I have amended the presentation of Fortescue's statement of 2,000 killed for the Mughal army by stating that it was a 'British claim'; since it was clearly based on a British "estimate" rather than a Mughal statement of their own losses. This sort of thing - the British attributing a massive "body count' to their military opponents - would presumably be the sort of thing that colonial-era sources are prone to and why they are distrusted. I hope that I have 'pinged' correctly. Regards RobJohn1964 (talk) 10:06, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
@RobJohn1964: Thank you. I just noticed that the article already cites an 1858 book by Sir Edward Cust :) In fact, the only source of any substance in this article right now is Fortescue and the meat of the article—the section titled "Battle"—is largely citation-less. I also had to remove the "Aftermath" section as, besides being long-winded, it was a copy-and-paste job from a university textbook. If you're so inclined, please consider using Fortescue to flesh out and improve the article. Cheers.--Cpt.a.haddock (talk) (please ping when replying) 13:22, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Hi RobJohn1964. History is always being studied and reimagined and therefore we should try to use only modern sources for historical information. However, I hadn't noticed that the original casualty numbers were unsourced so you're right about that (you might have noticed that I didn't re-revert your edit). Still, I strongly suggest you look for the descriptions used by modern historians rather than relying on Fortescue to flesh out this article because Raj era writers generally used British sources while modern historians try to use both British as well as Indian sources when studying the various 18th and 19th century battles that resulted in British rule over India. We should strive to make our articles reflect modern historiography and, when we cannot, less is probably better than more. --regentspark (comment) 16:06, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
@RegentsPark: Hi. Yes indeed, colonial-era British writers were sometimes guilty of absurdly distorted accounts that do not deserve to be called 'history'. Also, "body counts" of enemy dead are notoriously unreliable in any war, ancient or modern. I recently read an account of the First Sikh War which points up the exaggerated British claims about Sikh casualties. I have added a set of casualty figures for Buxar from a (not particularly good) modern source in order to illustrate the uncertainty regarding Fortescue's figures. A detailed modern account of the Battle, however, still eludes me. Thank you for your patience. RobJohn1964 (talk)