Page images
PDF

CHAPTER XI.

CHINA.—Departure of the British squadron from Hong-Kong to

Amoy—Account of the fortifications of Amoy—Attack upon the Cily and successful result—Proclamation by Sir Henry PottingerArrival of the Armament at Chusan–Ting-hae taken by the British —Expedition proceeds to Ningpo-Description of the city of Chinghae—Taking of Chinghae by assault—Taking of Ningpo-Chinese fortify the banks of the Canton river—Sir H. Pottinger returns to Canton—Attempt of the Chinese to retake Ningpo-Rout of the Chinese at Tse-kee—Ningpo evacuated by the British—Capture of Chapoo—Description of the city of Chapoo-Subsequent operations of the British squadron—It enters the Yang-lze river—Elepoo appointed High Commissioner—Arrival of the Armament at Chinkeang foo—Description of the city—Attack upon Chin-keang-fooTaking of it by assault—The Squadron sails to Nankin—Description of Nankin—Suspension of "...o.o. jor peace between

the Chinese Commissioners and Sir Henry Pottinger–Terms of the Treaty—Report from the Chinese Commissioner to the Emperor.

E resume our narrative of the inglorious war in China—in which success could be attended with little honour, and failure would have been disgrace. British skill and valour have perhaps never been engaged in an enterprise where fewer laurels were to be gained than in our quarrel with the Celestial Empire; for whether we regard the origin of the dispute, or the nature of the opposition which our troops had to encounter, we are compelled to admit that little reputation was to be gained by a series of bloodless triumphs over a weak and vainglorious enemy. We are therefore happy to have it in our power to bring to a close in the present volume our history of the war in

China—and the important conse-
quences which may be expected
to flow from a peaceful and more
unrestricted intercourse with the
vast population of that kingdom
will be some compensation for hav-
ing engaged in so questionable a
quarrel.
We stated in our preceding vo-
lume," that in the month of Au-
gust last year, Sir H. Pottinger
and Sir W. Parker had sailed for
Hong-kong, which was the place
of rendezvous for the ships destined
for the expedition to the north-
ward. On the 21st, the ships sailed
from the island and anchored on
the evening of the 25th in the
harbour of Amoy. The population

[ocr errors]

of this city is said to have amounted to 70,000, and the Chinese army garrisoning it was about 10,000 strong. On the next morning a flag of truce came on board the admiral's ship (the Wellesley) to inquire the object of the visit. The following account of the fortifications and defences of Amoy proves how serious would have been the attempt to take it by storm if it had been occupied by a brave and skilful garrison. “From the islands at the entrance of the harbour to Cohunsoo, the island is about four miles, good anchorage all the way up for line-of-battle ships to about 400 or 500 yards from the shore. On all the islands at the entrance are placed batteries. The “long battery' in the straight line contains seventy-six guns, forty feet between each, making it more than half a mile long; this battery is built of solid granite work, being about fifteen feet thick at the bottom, and nine at the top, and about fifteen feet high; excepting at the embrasures for the guns, it is entirely faced with a coating of mud quite two feet thick; above the embrasures is also a coating of the same ; the masonry is beautiful, and quite solid; and all who have seen it declare they have never seen anything so strong or so well built ; indeed, the proof is, that after four hours' hard fighting, not one single breach was made in it by our guns, though placed at point-blank range. On each side of their guns several sand bags were placed, so as to protect them when loading and firing. At the end furthest from the town is built a strong granite wall, about half a mile long, with loop-holes at the top for their matchlocks, but no guns; it is about ten or

fifteen feet high, and was of course intended to protect their flank from our troops. Two semi-circular batteries are in the middle of the wall, and at the end nearest the town one larger one, which is built of granite, covered with chunam ; it is supposed that several of the mandarins occupied it: they continued firing to the very last, when some of their guns were dismounted, the walls nearly knocked down, and long after our troops had landed and hoisted the ensign at the other end of the wall. A high hill runs along the coast and comes abruptly down behind the long battery, and divides the town, or rather its suburbs, into two parts; the walled city, which is not more than a sixth of the whole, is on the other side of the hill.” The whole number of guns amounted to about 500—and the Chinese fancied the place to be impregnable. The attack commenced at noon the following day by the steamer Sesostris passing along the battery of seventy-six guns, and opening her fire of shot and shell upon the battery and town which was situated behind a semi-circular battery at the end of that which we have designated as the long one. She was soon succeeded by the other vessels taking up their positions, and anchoring along the line of batteries on the

right at point-blank distances, so

that they were enabled to pour in a tremendous fire in a continuous stream. The Chinese guns were soon partially silent; but whenever the firing of the ships at all relaxed, they recommenced. This lasted for about two hours, when the landing of a body of our troops (the Royal Irish, with Sir H. Gough at their head) was effected at that end of the battery furthest

from the city. They were towed in boats close to the shore, and immediately formed upon the heath. At the same time another body, consisting of the 26th regiment, marines, and sailors, attacked and carried the two batteries on the island Cohun-soo, consisting of fifty guns. The Chinese did not await the attack of Sir H. Gough and the troops that landed with him; but, after discharging a few arrows and shots, fled precipitately over the hill to the city. No farther resistance was made to the advance of the British, and before dusk the fortifications were in our possession. The next morning, Sir H. Gough, at the head of the troops, ho into the city, meeting with no opposition. The mandarins and soldiers had all fled, leaving the city occupied by a few coolies. This success was attained without the loss of a single life on our part, the only casualties being a few wounds occasioned by the arrows of the Chinese. The mumber of Chinese killed is supposed not to have exceeded 150. When the British troops landed, the mandarin, who was second in command, rushed into the sea and drowned himself. Another was seen to cut his throat and fall in front of the soldiers as they advanced. On the 30th of August the troops were withdrawn from the city, but the island of Cohun-soo was retained, which is distant about 1200 yards from Amoy. Here 500 men were left as a garrison, and the Druid frigate and Pylades sloop remained also, with orders to shell the town on the first demonstration of hostilities. In the proclamation addressed by Sir H. Pottinger on this occasion to “Her Britannic Majesty's subjects in China,” he says:

“Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary deems it quite superfluous to say one word as to the manner in which this important service has been performed. The facts require no eulogium. The Chinese government vainly imagined that they had rendered Amoy impregnable, but were undeceived in presence of the viceroy of the provinces of Chekeang and Fokien (who, with a number of high officers, witnessed the attacks from the heights above the town), in the short space of four hours from the firing of the first gun; and had the opposition been a hundred times greater than it was, the spirit and bearing of all employed showed that the result must have been the same.”

A continuance of bad weather prevented the expedition from putting to sea and continuing its progress northwards before the 5th of September. On the 21st it reached the Chusan group of islands, and af. terwards reconnoitered the defences of Ting-hae and Chusan harbour, where the Chinese had erected very extensive and formidable works since we quitted that part of the coast in the month of February last year. The troops were disembarked on the 1st of October in two divisions, and supported by the fire of the ships; they quickly drove the Chinese, who, on this occasion, made a more resolute stand than usual, from their works at Ting-hae, although they were at first assailed by a heavy discharge of gingals and matchlocks from the heights. The walls of Ting-hae were escaladed without opposition, and by 2 P.M., the British colours waved over the fortifications. In this engagement the enemy suffered severely, and several mandarins were killed, while on our side only two were killed and twenty-four wounded. The state of the weather was such that no farther proceedings could be taken till the 7th, when the troops were re-embarked, and the expedition proceeded to Ningpo. On the evening of the 9th the whole of the squadron and transports were anchored off Chinghae, of which we extract the §. lowing account from the dispatch of Sir W. Parker. “The city of Chinghae, which is enclosed by a wall thirty-seven feet in thickness, and twenty-two feet high, with an embrasured parapet of four feet high, and nearl two miles in circumference, is situated at the foot of a very commanding peninsular height, which forms the entrance of the Tahee river on its left or north bank, on the summit is the citadel, which, from its strong position, is considered the key to Chinhae, and the large and opulent city of Ningpo, about fifteen miles up the river; and it is so important as a military post, that I trust I may be excused for attempting to describe it. It stands about 250 feet above the sea, and is encircled also by a strong wall with very substantial iron-plated grates at the east and west ends. The north and south sides of the height are exceedingly steep: the former accessible only from the sea by a narrow winding path from the rocks at its base, the south side and eastern end being nearly precipitous. At the east end of the citadel, outside its wall, twenty-one guns were mounted in three batteries of masonry and sand bags to defend the entrance of the river. The only communication between the citadel and city is on the west side by a steep but regular cause

way, to a barrier gate at the bottom of the hill, where a wooden bridge over a wet ditch connects it with the isthmus and the gates of the city; the whole of which are covered with iron plates and strongly secured. The space on the isthmus between the citadel hill and the city wall is filled up towards the sea with a battery of five guns, having a row of strong piles driven in a little beach in front of it, to prevent a descent in that quarter; and on the river side of the isthmus are two batteries adjoining the suburbs, and mounting twenty-two and nineteen guns, for flanking the entrance ; twenty-eight guns of different sizes and numerous gingals were also planted on the city walls, principally towards the sea.” The next morning (the 10th,) the troops were landed, protected by the ships of war and steamers, which took up such positions as to be able to cannonade the citadel and eastern part of the city walls. The steamers performed excellent service with their guns, and though for a considerable time under a heavy fire from the river batteries, they sustained no damage, “About 11 o'clock,” states Sir W. Parker, the Admiral in command of the fleet, “we had the gratification of seeing the British colours planted by the troops in one of the batteries on the opposite shore; and in a few minutes the others on that side were all carried, and the Chinese observed flying in every direction before our gallant soldiers on the heights. At a quarter past eleven, the wall of the citadel was breached by the fire from the ships, and the defences being reduced to a ruinous state, the Chinese abandoned their guns, which they had hitherto worked with considerable firmness, and a large portion of the garrison retreated precipitately towards the city. Not a moment was lost in making the signal for landing the battalion of seamen and marines, with the detachments of artillery and sappers (the whole under the command of Captain Herbert, of the Blenheim). Before noon the boats were all on shore; every impediment presented by the difficulty of landing on rugged rocks was overcome, and the force gallantly advanced to the assault, with a celerity that excited my warmest admiration. An explosion at this time took place in a battery near the citadel gate; and the remnant of the garrison fled without waiting to close it. The citadel was therefore rapidly entered, and the union jack displayed on the walls. Our people had scarcely passed within them when another explosion occurred, happily without mischief, but whether by accident or design is uncertain. Captain Herbert having secured this post, quickly re-formed his men, and advanced towards the city; the Chinese still occupying in considerable force the walls of it, as well as the two batteries beneath the hill on the river side, against which our troops had already turned some of the guns taken on the right bank. A few volleys of musketry speedily dislodged them from both positions, and the battalion of seamen and marines pushed on in steady and excellent order to attack the city. The wall (twenty-six feet high,) was escaladed in two places, and in a short time complete possession was taken of Chinhae, the Chinese troops having made their escape through the western gate.” It having been determined to

push on with the least possible delay to Ningpo, Sir W. Parker proceeded on the 12th in the Nemesis steamer, to ascertain the practicability of the river, and having returned in the evening, arrangements were made for the attack on the following morning. The troops destined for the service were under the command of Sir Hugh Gough, whose account of our taking possession of Ningpo we transcribe:— “Having left the 55th, with the exception of the light company, 100 of the Royal Marines, with detachments of artillery and sappers in Chinhae, the rest of the force, about 750 bayonets, exclusive of the artillery and sappers, embarked in steamers by eight, A. M., on the 13th, and we reached Ningpo at three o'clock. No enemy appeared, and it was evident that no ambuscade was intended, as the inhabitants densely thronged the bridge of boats, and collected in clusters along both banks. The troops landed on and near the bridge, and advanced to the city gate, which was found barricaded; but the walls were soon escaladed, and the Chinese assisted in removing the obstructions and opening the gate. The little force of soldiers, seamen, and marines, drew up on the ramparts, the band of the 18th playing ‘God save the Queen.” The second city of the province of Che-keang, the walls of which are nearly five miles in circumference, with a population of 300,000 souls, has thus fallen into our hands. The people all appear desirous of throwing themselves under British protection, saying publicly that their mandarins had deserted them, and their own soldiers are unable to protect them. I have assembled some of

« PreviousContinue »