What was “the Black Hole of Calcutta” and how many prisoners died in the cell?

In the year 1756, British and Indian troops were busy warring when Indians managed to capture a British fort in Calcutta.

The troops locked their captives into a 14 by 18 foot room for the night.

A British survivor named John Holwell charged that 123 of 146 men suffocated in the room, which is now called “the Black Hole of Calcutta”.

While convenient for rallying anti-Indian sentiment among the English, the figures are probably historically inaccurate, although it might have seemed that crowded inside the room.

Historians who checked British military records say that the figures tallied by the Indians are probably more accurate: 43 prisoners of war panicked in the dark, killing 15 of their countrymen.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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