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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

The British fleet appeared before Nanking


[Sidenote:

Chinese opium war]

[Sidenote: Fall of Chapoo]

[Sidenote: Shanghai occupied]

[Sidenote: Assault of Chinkiangfoo]

[Sidenote: China brought to terms]

[Sidenote: Treaty ports designated]

[Sidenote: Opium forced upon China]

In August, the Duke of Wellington was reinstated as commander-in-chief of the British army. Among the military reforms undertaken was the general introduction of the percussion-cap musket in the infantry, and the use of the carbine in the artillery. The war in China was brought to a close. The long period of inaction following the occupation of Ningpo had been broken in March by Chinese attempts to recapture Ningpo, Chinhai and Chusan. In all three places the British beat off their assailants. At Ningpo the Chinese succeeded in breaking through the south and west gates, and reached the centre of the city only to be mowed down there by the British artillery. At Tszeki a strong Chinese camp was captured by the British. The Chinese losses on this occasion were over a thousand killed, including many of the Imperial Guards. The British casualties did not exceed forty. A naval expedition next attacked Chapoo, China's port of trade with Japan. The main body of the Chinese was routed, but 300 of their soldiers shut themselves up

in a walled inclosure, and held their ground until three-fourths of their number were slain. As heretofore, the British casualties were small. The important city of Shanghai was captured without appreciable resistance. The most serious affair of the war was the attack on Chinkiangfoo on the southern bank of the Yangtse-Kiang at one of the entrances of the great canal. A part of the Manchu garrison held out there until shot down to the last man. The inner Tartar city was only taken after the Manchus had first killed the women and children and then themselves. The immediate losses of the British were nearly two hundred. Owing to the intense heat, they failed to bury the bodies of the Chinese. Pestilence and cholera broke out, and caused more serious losses than befell the main force sent against Nanking. On August 5, the British fleet appeared before Nanking, the second city of the empire. It was then that Minister Elepoo, the leader of the Chinese peace party, prevailed upon Emperor Taouk-Wang to give in. On August 26, peace was concluded on board the British flagship "Cornwallis." China paid an indemnity of $21,000,000, and confirmed the cession of Hong Kong to England. The English opium factory at Canton was to be reinstalled, and, in addition to this, foreign trading was to be allowed at the ports of Shanghai, Ningpo, Amhoy and Foochow, after a tariff should have been agreed upon and consular officers appointed. The final ceremonies of peace were marred by barbarous injuries inflicted upon the famous porcelain tower of Nanking by a party of British officers and soldiers. In the words of a British historian: "The only weak point in the commercial treaty was that it contained no reference to opium. Sir Henry Pottinger failed to obtain the assent of the Chinese government to its legalization." In reply to Sir Henry Pottinger's final demand for legalization of the opium trade in China, Emperor Taouk-Wang delivered this ultimatum: "True, I cannot prevent the introduction of the poison; but nothing will induce me to raise revenue from the vice and misery of my people." The emperor, himself a reformed opium smoker, had lost three sons by this vice. All this time American, Dutch and Russian trade with China had been continued. President Tyler made it the subject of his message to the American Congress during this year. From the first any American traffic in opium was discouraged.


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