First Campaign 1856

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The first phase of the 2nd China War.


Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
2nd China War 1856-60
First Campaign
locations and routes on Google Maps

In the 1850s the Western Powers sought to renegotiate their commercial treaties with China. The British wanted 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 "Arrow" 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.

A combined British and French force under Admiral Sir Michael Seymour was despatched and the British army led by Lord Elgin and the French army led by Baron Gros, attacked and occupied Canton (Guangzhou) in late 1857. The combined force then sailed north to capture 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 but was rejected by the Qing Government. The outbreak of the Indian Mutiny prevented forces being deployed to pursue the campaign.

External Links

Opium Wars Wikipedia
2nd Opium War 1856-60 Wikipedia
Chronology Google Books
Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's Mission to China and Japan Google Books

Historical Books on-line

Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India - Events in China from 1842-60