Battle of the Bogue

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For the 1856 battle, see Battle of the Bogue (1856).
Battle of the Bogue
Part of First Opium War
Bogue forts.jpg
The Bogue forts (published 1844)
Date 23–26 February 1841
Location Bocca Tigris, Kwangtung, China
Coordinates: 22°47′54.82″N 113°37′15.65″E / 22.7985611°N 113.6210139°E / 22.7985611; 113.6210139
Result British victory
Belligerents

United Kingdom United Kingdom

Qing dynasty
Commanders and leaders
James Bremer,
Thomas Pratt,
Humphrey Senhouse,
Thomas Herbert
Kuan Tien-pei (KIA),
Mai Ting-chang[1] (KIA)
Strength
23 Feb:
5 ships
26 Feb:
1,037 troops1
23 Feb:
30 junks
26 Feb:
2,000 troops1
Casualties and losses
23 Feb:
No casualties
26 Feb:
5 wounded
23 Feb:
20–30 killed,
80 guns captured
26 Feb:
500 killed or wounded,
339 ordnances captured
1 In North Wangtong only.
Map showing Anunghoy and the Wangtong Islands in the Pearl River
A Chinese drawing of the Anunghoy forts, found in the house of Kuan, representing the expected attack of the British
Another drawing from the house of Kuan

The Battle of the Bogue was fought between British and Chinese forces at the Bocca Tigris, China, on 23–26 February 1841 during the First Opium War. As a result, the British captured the forts on the islands of Anunghoy and North Wangtong.

Background[edit]

After the Second Battle of Chuenpee on 7 January 1841, British Plenipotentiary Charles Elliot and Chinese Imperial Commissioner Qishan negotiated the Convention of Chuenpee on 20 January;[2] a condition of which was that the port of Canton was to be opened for trade on 2 February. However, no proclamation for the opening of the port appeared. On 11–12 February, Elliot and Qishan met again at Bocca Tigris on the Pearl River. Elliot acceded to a further delay (not to exceed 10 days) for the treaty to be fairly prepared.[3][4] Commodore James Bremer, commander-in-chief of the British forces, wrote in his dispatch:

I must confess that from this moment my faith in the sincerity of the Chinese Commissioner was completely destroyed, my doubts were also strengthened by the reports of the Officers I sent up to the place of meeting, who stated that military works on a great scale were in progress, troops collected on the heights, and camps protected by entrenchments, arising on both sides of the river, and that the island of North Wangtong had become a mass of cannon.[4]

Suspecting warlike intentions on the part of the Chinese, Bremer sailed to the Macao Roads on 13 February to confer with Elliot where he found that the convention between Elliot and Qishan was en route to Canton aboard the Nemesis, which had orders to wait until the night of 18 February for an answer. On the morning of 19 February, the Nemesis returned without a reply, and all doubt regarding the hostile intentions of the Chinese ended when the ship came under fire from North Wangtong. Bremer detached the Calliope, Samarang, Herald, Alligator, Modeste, and Sulphur under Captain Thomas Herbert to prevent further defensive preparations.[4][5] In response, a proclamation from the Lieutenant-Governor of Canton, Eleang, announced a $30,000 reward for the heads of Bremer or Elliot, and $50,000 for anyone who could seize them alive, among other rewards.[4][6]

Battle[edit]

23 February[edit]

On 23 February, Captain Thomas Herbert, accompanied by Charles Elliot, sailed to the rear passage of Anunghoy Island aboard the Nemesis, with the Calliope, Samarang, Herald, and Alligator in flotilla. They unexpectedly reached a masked battery, which immediately opened fire on the British ships. Herbert reported that 30 small Chinese junks and boats were "making off in the greatest confusion; our return fire was rapid and so energetically followed up by landing and pushing on to the attack, that the fort ... was immediately in our possession."[7] The Chinese fled after a slight resistance whereupon their magazines, a few junks, and some boats were burned. The British captured 60 unmounted guns and 20 mounted guns, which they disabled by breaking the trunnions.[7] There were no British casualties during the operation.[8] Herbert reported 20 to 30 Chinese dead.[9]

On the same day, former Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu wrote in his diary: "I hear that two small steamers belonging to the rebel English, with several small boats, sailed straight up to T'ai-p'ing-hsü [behind Anson's Bay] in the Bogue, opened fire and set alight a number of peasants' houses, and also the Customs House."[1]

26 February[edit]

On the morning of 26 February, British forces attacked the forts in the islands of Anunghoy and North Wangtong. In the attack on Anunghoy, Captain Humphrey Fleming Senhouse of the Blenheim, aided by the Melville, Queen steamer, and four rocket boats,[10] approached the south Anunghoy fort, dropped its anchor 600 yards (550 m) away, and fired broadsides from its starboard guns. The Melville approached five minutes later off the portside of the Blenheim, sailed within 400 yards (370 m) of the fort, and fired broadsides in quick succession.[11][12] A British officer wrote, "The firing of these ships was most splendid: nothing could withstand their deadly aim ... One or two shot were sufficient for the 'dragon-hearted' defenders of the north fort, who, 'letting' off their guns, fled up the hills."[12]

After bombarding and silencing the Anunghoy batteries, Senhouse landed on the southern battery with about 300 marines and men carrying small-arms to clear the few remaining defenders. Within two hours, the Anunghoy forts were seized.[10][13] Chinese Admiral Kuan T'ien-p'ei died among the estimated 250 killed or wounded in Anunghoy. After his family identified him the next day, the Blenheim fired a minute-gun salute in his honour as his body was taken away.[14]

In the attack on North Wangtong island, the Wellesley, Calliope, Samarang, Druid, Herald, Alligator, and Modeste targeted the batteries on the south, south-west, and north-west of the island,[15] which was occupied by 2,000 Chinese defenders.[16] In less than an hour, the Wangtong batteries were silenced and under the command of Major Thomas Simson Pratt, 1,037 troops from the 26th and 49th regiments, 37th Madras Native Infantry, Bengal Volunteers, and Royal Marines landed on Wangtong.[15][17] Within minutes, the British captured the island and 1,300 Chinese surrendered.[15] An estimated 250 Chinese were killed or wounded in Wangtong.[14] 339 artillery pieces were captured from both islands.[18] In total, five British were wounded.[10][19]

Lin wrote in his records: "I got home at the Hour of the Monkey [3 p.m.] ... and when night came heard that the Bogue forts and those on Wantung Island were being invested, preparatory to attack, by the English rebels. I at once went with Teng to Ch'i-shan's office and at the Hour of the Rat [11 p.m.] we heard that the Wantung, Yung-an and Kung-ku forts have fallen. All night I could not sleep."[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Waley 1958, pp. 138–139
  2. ^ Bulletins 1841, p. 327
  3. ^ Bulletins 1841, p. 328
  4. ^ a b c d Bulletins 1841, p. 329
  5. ^ Bulletins 1841, p. 330
  6. ^ The Chinese Repository vol. 10, p. 175
  7. ^ a b Bulletins 1841, p. 331
  8. ^ Hall & Bernard 1847, p. 113
  9. ^ Bulletins 1841, p. 332
  10. ^ a b c Bulletins 1841, p. 275
  11. ^ Bingham 1843, p. 58
  12. ^ a b Bingham 1843, p. 59
  13. ^ The United Service Journal 1841, pp. 523–524
  14. ^ a b Bulletins 1841, p. 276
  15. ^ a b c Bulletins 1841, p. 334
  16. ^ Bulletins 1841, p. 338
  17. ^ Bulletins 1841, p. 339
  18. ^ Bulletins 1841, p. 342
  19. ^ Bulletins 1841, p. 340

References[edit]

  • Bulletins and Other State Intelligence (1841).
  • The Chinese Repository (1841). Volume 10.
  • The United Service Journal and Naval and Military Magazine, Part 3 (1841). Henry Colburn.
  • Bingham, John Elliot (1843). Narrative of the Expedition to China from the Commencement of the War to Its Termination in 1842 (2nd ed.). Volume 2. Henry Colburn.
  • Hall, William Hutcheon; Bernard, William Dallas (1847). The Nemesis in China (3rd ed.). Henry Colburn.
  • Waley, Arthur (1958). The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0611-5.