Battle of the Barrier

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Battle of the Barrier
Part of the First Opium War
Barrier wall, Macao.jpg
View of the barrier between Macau and China (published 1844)
Date 19 August 1840
Location Portuguese Macau
Coordinates: 22°12′53″N 113°32′56″E / 22.21472°N 113.54889°E / 22.21472; 113.54889
Result British victory

 United Kingdom

Qing China
Commanders and leaders
Henry Smith Unknown
380 troops[1] 2,000 troops[2]
8 junks[2]
Casualties and losses
4 wounded[1] 50–60 killed[1][3]
100–120 wounded[3]

The Battle of the Barrier was fought between British and Chinese forces at the boundary separating Macau from the Chinese mainland on 19 August 1840 during the First Opium War. Located in modern-day Portas do Cerco, Macau was connected to China by a narrow isthmus about 100 metres (330 ft) wide and 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) long.[4] A wall called the Barrier was built across the isthmus in 1573, and it served as Macau's border.[5]


At about noon on 19 August 1840, British corvettes, accompanied by the Louisa cutter and Enterprise steamer, having seamen and marines of the Druid with Bengal Volunteers on board, attacked the barrier. The vessels opened fire on a battery about 600 yards (550 m) away, which promptly returned fire.[6] A British officer wrote, "The [Chinese] junks, which were aground in the inner harbour, were utterly useless, for none of their guns could be brought to bear, though several of the thirty-two pound shots of the ships found their way over the bank, much to the consternation of the occupants of the junks."[6][7] In less than an hour, the batteries were silenced and the British forces landed. They consisted of a brigade of 380 men comprising 110 Royal Marines, 90 seamen from the Druid, and 180 troops from the Bengal Volunteers.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d Bingham 1843, pp. 400–401
  2. ^ a b Bingham 1843, p. 397
  3. ^ a b Hughes 1841, p. 354
  4. ^ Bingham 1843, p. 395
  5. ^ Garrett 2010, pp. 18–19
  6. ^ a b Bingham 1843, p. 398
  7. ^ Bingham 1843, p. 399