Battle of Canton (March 1841)

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First Battle of Canton
Part of First Opium War
Canton Operations, 18 March 1841.jpg
Map of the naval operations at Canton, 18 March 1841
Date18 March 1841
Coordinates: 23°06′37″N 113°14′38″E / 23.1104°N 113.2438°E / 23.1104; 113.2438
Result British victory

 United Kingdom

Qing China
Commanders and leaders
Charles Elliot
James Bremer
Thomas Herbert
Yang Fang
9 ships[1] 5 forts
Casualties and losses
7 killed[2] 400 casualties[1]
123 guns captured[2]
The official Chinese commander was Yishan, as a substitute for Qishan, but he had not reached Canton even by the time the battle ended.[3]

The First Battle of Canton was fought between British and Chinese forces in Canton, Guangdong Province, China, on 18 March 1841 during the First Opium War. The capture led to the hoisting of the Union Jack on the British factory in Canton and the resumption of trade between the British and the Chinese.[4]


Following the Convention of Chuenpi in January 1841, which among other clauses ceded the island of Hong Kong to Great Britain, the furious Qing Daoguang Emperor fired Imperial Commissioner Qishan. In his place the emperor appointed his nephew Yishan as "General-pacifier of the Rebellious" (jìngnì 靖逆), with Lungwan (Long Wen, 隆文) and Yang Fang as ministerial attaches to assist him.[5][6] On 20 March, British Plenipotentiary Charles Elliot announced the re-opening of trade after negotiations with Yang Fang as Lungwan and Yishan did not arrive in Canton until 14 April.[7]


  1. ^ a b Bulletins 1841, p. 361
  2. ^ a b Bulletins 1841, p. 362
  3. ^ 军事科学院 (1984). "第五节: 广东军民的抗英作战". 《中国近代战争史》. 军事科学院出版社.
  4. ^ Bulletins and Other State Intelligence 1841, p. 357.
  5. ^ Waley 1958, p. 145.
  6. ^ Hall & Bernard 1847, p. 159.
  7. ^ The Chinese Repository 1841, p. 234.