Battle of Taku Forts (1860)
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The Third Battle of Taku Forts was an engagement of the Second Opium War, part of the British and French 1860 expedition to China. It took place at the Taku Forts (also called Peiho Forts) near Tanggu District (Wade-Giles: Pei Tang-Ho), approximately 60 kilometers (36 mi.) southeast of Tianjin City (Wide-Giles: Tientsin).
The aim of the allied French-British expedition was to compel the Chinese government at Peking to observe the trade treaties signed between their governments at Tiajian (Tientsin) in 1858, which included allowing the British to continue the opium trade in China. Lieutenant General Sir Hope Grant was the British commander with Charles Cousin-Montauban, Comte de Palikao in charge of the French. The force consisted of about 400 men: 200 British and 200 French. Hundreds of Qing Army troops garrisoned the Taku Forts, at least forty-five artillery pieces were among the Chinese defenders.
On July 30, 1860 the Anglo-French army landed at Pei Tang-Ho. A few days later a reconnaissance force moved towards the Taku Forts for close observation, two British soldiers were wounded by bullets from a Chinese jingal. After a few more days, on August 12, the allied force attacked the emplacement. They also built trenches to help protect themselves from a possible Chinese counter attack. Then the major assault took place on the main Chinese forts. Heavy fighting ensued as the attackers crossed several Chinese trenches and spiked bamboo palisades. The Anglo-French force first tried an unsuccessful attack on the main gate of the fortifications.
After that failed, the allied army resorted to climbing over the walls and entering the main fortress that way. The first British officer to enter the fort was Lieutenant Robert Montresor Rogers, who was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery that day. He was closely followed by a private, John McDougall who was also awarded the Victoria Cross. During the fighting, Lieutenant Rogers was severely wounded, fourteen men were killed and one drummer boy and forty-six other men were also wounded. Over 100 Qing defenders were killed, many more wounded and forty-five guns captured. After capturing the main Chinese positions, the force rested for six days then attacked again, resulting in the capture of the remaining Taku forts which were pacified by August 21. The number of French casualties is unknown.
The third battle at the Taku Forts was one of the last major engagements of the Second Opium War. The fighting ended with the allied occupation of Peking on October 13, 1860 and the Chinese acceptance of the trading treaties.
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