2nd China War

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2nd China War
Chronological list of Wars and Campaigns
[[Image:|250px| ]]
Location: China
East India Company China
Result: British and French victory
2nd China War Medal
Clasps: Fatshan 1857, Canton 1857, Taku Forts 1858, Taku Forts 1860, Pekin 1860
Category: 2nd China War
First Campaign 1856
Second Campaign 1860
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
2nd China War
First Campaign 1856
locations and routes on Google Maps
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
2nd China War
Second Campaign 1860
locations and routes on Google Maps

Also known as the 2nd Opium War, the 2nd Anglo-Chinese War and The Arrow War.



In the 1850s the Western Powers sought to renegotiate their commercial treaties with China. The British wanted the opening of all China to merchants, legalization of the opium trade and exemption of import tariffs. The Qing Government refused and relations deteriorated when a Hong Kong vessel was boarded by the Chinese and there was an attempt to poison Europeans in Hong Kong. The French were drawn in following the execution of a missionary and the Russians and Americans also made representations. In the First Campaign British and French forces captured Canton and then took the Taku Forts outside Tianjin. There was a temporary end to hostilities in June 1858 with the Treaty of Tianjin which gave extensive rights to the Western Powers.

The Qing Government rejected the treaty and this led to a Second Campaign. In June 1859 Anglo-French forces tried unsuccessfully to take the Taku Forts. In the summer of 1860 a larger Anglo-French force from Shanghai landed north of Tianjin which they captured. The Battle of Pa-li-chao in September defeated the Chinese finally and the Summer Palace in Peking was destroyed. The Convention of Peking ratified the Treaty of Tianjin, the opium trade was legalized, China was opened to western merchants and Britain and France were paid a huge indemnity.


Entries in the Dictionary of Indian Biography 1906:
Lord Elgin (1811-1863)
James Hope Grant (1808-1875)
Robert Napier (1810-1890)


Also see Medals and Medal Rolls

  • The Second China War Medal northeastmedals.co.uk
  • Details of the 3 volume China Medal Roll 1856-60 by K.J. Asplin Savannah Publications London 2004 from The Asplin Military History Resources, now archived. Includes Royal Navy including Indian Marine (Volume 1), British Army (Volume 2), and selected despatches of the Royal Navy and British Army during their presence in China during the years 1856-60 (Volume 3).

External links

Historical books online

Volume I (probably 2nd edition), Vol. I, 2nd file, but missing title page (appears to have been author/publishing decision); (Volume II;Volume III) All Archive.org.
Events in China from 1842-60 page 400
Scene of Operations 1860 page 413. Archive.org
The Story of a Soldier's Life by Field Marshal Viscount Wolseley 1903. Volume I, Volume II Archive.org. Includes 2nd China War account from the beginning of Volume II.


  1. Snook, Mike "mewafarosh" Victorian Wars Forum 20 August 2014, now an archived webpage.
  2. Thomas 'China Tom' Adkins, b.1836 Obituary. adkins-family.org.uk