17 SEPTEMBER 1859, Page 2


The telegraph brought the sad news early in tle week that 464 officers and seamen had been killed and wounded in an engagement at the mouth of the Pei-ho river. Treachery was by implication imputed to the Chinese, and the fuller accounts which arrived on Wednesday confirmed the painful story. The Eneish and French squadron forming an escort to the Plenipo- tentiaries, Mr. Bruce and M. Bourboulon arrived off the Pei-ho on the 17th of June, the English under Admiral Hope. They found that the forts had been rebuilt upon improved principles and that strong booms composed of iron stakes were thrown across the river. " These booms are raked by the fire of newly-constructed forts on either bank of the river, occupying nearly the same ground as those of last year, only much improved in strength and workmanship. There are altogether five forts, mounting 90 or 100 guns, or, more properly speaking, having embrasures for that number. Each opening was studiously covered by a mat, so that any deficiency in the armament could not be noticed. The principal fort is on the south side, and contains fifty embrasures. It is com- posed of three high bastions about thirty-five feet, raised about the ground, with three guns on each. These bastions are connected by a battlemented wall, upwards of twenty feet high, through which the remaining guns fixe. • The whole fort is about 600 yards long, and is protected in front by a ditch full of water. Opposite the upper end of this fort, and consequently on the north side, is a large fort, also threatening the passage. Higher up are two more, one on either side, and the fifth is quite to the south, and retired some way back from the river's bank. Each fort appeared to have a similar mound in it like the bastions described above, though the arrangement of the outer wall varied according to circumstances. The distance between the extreme forte might be about a mile and a half."

The forts seemed to be unoccupied. There were neither guns nor soldiers visible, and no flag flew above the ramparts. The Pleni- potentiaries arrived on the 20th, and soon after the American war ship Powhattan bearing Mr. Ward, accompanied by a tender ship, also arrived. No preparations had been made to receive the Ministers. There were no mandarins at Taku with whom they could communicate. The persons with whom the officers sent ashore had some intercourse represented that they were acting on their own authority, remarking that the booms had been built to protect the river from the incursions of pirates, and that they should be removed in a few days. They were not so removed. On the 24th, an attempt was made to blow up the outer boom, and the Pow- hattan, crossing the bar, endeavoured 'to proceed up the river, but not finding sufficient water came to an anchor. The Plenipotentiaries then directed the Admiral to force a passage on the 25th. On that morning Mr. Bruce received a letter from some official whose quarters were in another river, but its contents were not known at Hongkong. it is also stated that during the period of detention—

"A message was sent to the jetty leading up to the postern gate, to in- quire if any preparation had been made to meet the United States Minister. The party was met by three men dressed as militia, and attended by a guard armed with spears and swords,. which remained in the rear, while these three came to the end of the jetty to see what was wanted. To the in- quiries made, they said that they were militia-men, who had been appointed

to defend the river, that orders had been issued from from to meet and conduct the foreign Ministers to the capital, and that the Governor-General and Provincial treasurer had that day gone to the upper branch of the Pei-ho to make arrangements to receive them, and that if the American vessel went there she would see them pointing out the place to the party by some juiiks' masts seen across the land. No foreign vessels could pass this way, and if they attempted to remove the stakes they would be fired into. At the other entrance every arrangement for the journey would be made."

Whether this statement be true or not it seems certain that the Ameri- cans did try the other passage, but found the water too shallow for their ship, and the troops hostile to their boat-party. At daylight on the morning of the 25th, the gunboats, thirteen in number, one carrying six, or four, and the rest two guns, accompanied by a French boat carrying one gun, steamed up towards the booms. The deep channel of the river is narrow, and much time was occupied in placing the vessels so that they could fire without injuring each other. The signal for action was not given until half-past one. We abridge the story of the disastrous engagement that ensued from the North China Herald.

"At 2p.m. the stations being pretty well obtained with the exceptions of Starling and Banterer, who were on shore—the former on the south and the latter on the north frank—the Plover and Opossum weighed; the latter proceeded to clear away a passage through the iron stakes which composed the first obstruction. Two of these having been drawn, the Plover, followed by Opossum, passed through them, and also the second boom which had been destroyed by the flag captain on the previous night. On arriving at the second she attempted, together with the Opossum, to break through it, but without effect ; almost immediately a single gun was fired at her, and directly all the masks were rolled up, a tremendous fire was opened on the squadron, and the action became general. The Lee, by signal from the Plover, passed through the stakes to the support of the Admiral. The Plo- ver and Opossum were, however, soon obliged to slip, the fire being too heavy for them, and followed by the Lee, dropped clear of the stakes at 3.15. The gunboat .Plower suffered very much in killed and wounded. An officer was sent to the reserve to order up reinforce- ments, but the tide was too strong for the boats to attempt to pull up. The American flag officers very kindly offered to tow the boats up 'to a position to enable them to reach the gunboats. At 4.30 the enemy's fire was slackened considerably, orders were sent down-to the reserve for the marines and naval brigades to prepare to land, and the Forester and Opossum, together with the Toeywan, proceeded and towed them to the Nimrod, the place of rendezvous. At an early period of the action the Ad- miral had been wounded on board the Plover by a splinter in the thigh, and that vessel was almost entirely disabled. He shifted his flag to the Opos- sum ; when there he took his station on the caboose and from thence issued his orders until a round shot cut the mainstay on which he was leaning and caused him to fall to the deck, a height of some eight feet, breaking a rib and severely shaking him. After a short time he left the Opossum in the Du Chayla's gig and proceeded to the Cormorant, where he remained. At 5.45, the boats having assembled alongside, Nimrod pushed for the shore as near to the stakes as possible and opposite to the left bastion, about 600

yards distance from it. [It was then determined to storm the forts, and some 1000 men were sent in boats to a point pronounced practicable by an officer.] The landing here was composed of mud about knee-deep, and the greatest difficulty was experienced in getting up the scaling ladders and bridges. The Marines and Naval Brigade, a small portion of which had only just landed, pushed to the front, under a heavy fire from six guns in flank and in front. The fire from the walls, of gingalla, rifles, and arrows was also very heavy.

" No check had hitherto taken plane, but here a ditch five feet deep and ten bleed occurred; and the men, having no choice, plunged across and thereby wetted their ammunition. A party of some fifty officers and men again pushed on and crossed another wet ditch, which took them within twenty yards of the wall. In the meantime, Captains Shadwell and Van- aittart, as also Colonel Lemon, having been wounded, the command devolved upon Commander Commerell and Major Parke. It was now about nine o'clock, and darkness had set in. The position of the landing party was most precarious, fifty officers and men alone remained in the first ditch, and about 150 in the second. Many had been killed and wounded, and with the exception of a small body one hundred and fifty yards further back, no rein- forcements appeared to be offering, and the men already at the front were perfectly exhausted and without dry ammunition or rifles fit to use. The officers in vain encouraged their men to charge to the wall,—it was ineffectual ; the men were few and done up, and even if they had, they never could have carried them against the thousands that lined the walls. Under these circumstances, the commanding officers despatched an officer to the rear to ask for instructions, and the senior officer sent him bank immediately with orders for the force to withdraw, as no reinforcements could be sent. Directly this order was received the wounded were despatched to the rear by twos and threes, and two hours having been given them to get to the boats the small advanced party retreated in good order from ditch to ditch, examining the ground in their retreat for any wounded that might have been overlooked. Many poor fellows, alas, in the retreat fell to rise no more, but the wounded were saved and brought off." The boats were occupied in this work until one in the morning.

The list of casualties is painful in the extreme. Killed.—Lieutenant Graves, R.N., Assistance, killed on shore; Lieu- tenant Clutterbuck, R.N., Coromandel, ditto; Lieutenant Rason, R.N., Plover, killed on board; Captain M'Kenna, Royal Regiment, ditto, Plover ; Mr. Herbert, midshipman, Chesapeake, killed on shore; Lieutenant Wool- ridge,

kil led inRb.310a.t.Brigade, ditto, ditto ; Lieutenant Inglis, R.M., Highflyer,

Wounded—Admiral Hope, severely ; Captain Vansittart, Magicienne, loss of left leg below knee; Captain Shadwell, Highflyer, severe wound of foot ; Captain Willes, Chesapeake, slightly ; Colonel Lemon, R.M. Brigade, severely ; Lieutenant Purvis, R.N., Highflyer, slightly; Lieutenant Buckle, Magicienne, slightly; Mr. Burnisten, Master, _Banterer, slightly ; Mr. Armitage, midshipman, Cruiser, severely; Mr. Pewlett, midshipman, Cam- brian, severely ; Mr. N. B. Smith, mate, Chesapeake, severely ; Mr. Phil- lips, second Master, Plover, slightly ; Lieutenant Longley, R. Eng., Plover, severely ; Reverend H. Huleat, Chaplain, R.M. Brigade, severely ; Captain Masters, Chesapeake ; Captain Slaughter, R.M. Brigade; Lieutenant Williams, R. M. Artillery ; Lieutenant Crawford, R. IL Artillery ; Lieu- tenant Collier, R. M. Brigade; Lieutenant Carrington, R. M. Brigade; ; Lientenat Smith, R. M. Brigade ; Lieutenant Perceval, Fury, slightly. Total killed and wounded.—British, 464; French, 4 killed and 10 wounded, including Captain Tricault (Du Chayla), wounded in the arm. Total of Marine Brigade only—Officers, 1 killed, 15 wounded ; sergeants, 2 killed, 13 wounded; buglers, 2 wounded ; corporals, 1 killed, 8 wounded ; rank and file, 24 killed, 104 wounded ; total killed and wounded, 170.

The actual loss of ships consists of the Cormorant 4 guns, the Plover and the Lee, 2 guns each. Almost all the stores were saved from these vessels. The Kestrel, Starling, and Haughty, were aground under a heavy fire, and much cut up, but they were kept afloat and repaired. " The belief is universal throughout the squadron," says a naval writer, " that Europeans manned the batteries as well as Chinese. Men in grey coats, with closely cropped hair, and with Russian features, were distinctly visible in the batteries, and the whole of the fortifications were evidently of European designing. Some of those who advanced near to the wall even go so far as to declare that they heard men calling for more powder,' in Russian ; and this morning it is reported that two dead bodies floated out of the river, dressed in Chinese clothes, but having incontestably European facea." The same writer adds : " The Americans assisted us considerably by means of a small steamer with which they towed up several of our boats into action from the large ships, and also after the action, by taking out to their respective ships a number of our men, to whom they showed every kindness. They were loud in their praises of the daring our men showed, and have sent large presents of

fresh meats and vegetables for the benefit of our wounded."

An "Eye-witness " writes to the Times- " Were we children of the same mother, we could not have received more sympathy and kindness than we met with from the Americans. Never were men more unwillingly neutral. As we passed in to the assault Flag Officer (Anglice, Admiral) Tutnell was heard to say, 'Blood is thicker than water,' and in 100 different ways he and all his people, to the very cabin boys, acted up to this homely proverb. When he heard thatour Admiral was wounded, at great personal risk he went on board the Cormorant to see him. Many of our men slept in the toeywan (American tenders) on the night of the fight ; cigars, coffee, brandy, everything a man could want was placed before them. The American crew for of themselves, and thought only of the British. A few days after the ht a Chinese junk, with a flag of truce, brought fresh provisions to the owhattan (United States frigate). These were immediately sent to our wounded. The bond of American brother- hood was indeed deeply cemented in our trial at the Pei-ho. I believe there was not a man in the fleet who did not _feel it growing up within him, and I am sure there are thousands, if I may not say millions, at both sides of the Atlantic who will join me in the fervent wish that that feeling of brother- hood may take deeper and deeper root in both lands."

The same writer thus accounts for the failure of the storming party-

" You are aware that in each spring the water at the mouth of the Pei-ho is much shallower than in June. Prince Sangkohlinsin when the water was so low got circular pits dug in this mud-bank at irregular distances. When we returned to the Pei-ho those pits were invisible, being under, water, while at the same time the water was too shallow to float our boats full of armed men. The result was that the .storming party had to jump out in the very place where the trap was Laid, and you saw on all sides men sud- denly disappearing in those pits, and then struggling out with their rifles covered with mud and useless. Thus three-fourths of even those who reached the front could not fire a shot, and consequently the sharpshooters is the fort knocked over our poor fellows almost with the same impunity as if they were firing into .a battue of game. Despite of all this, between 300 and 400 men reached the firm ground, and would have carried the fort by storm in the face of all opposition, but no scaling ladders were forthcoming. Those same mud-pits had caught the men carrying the ladders. As soon as one of the bearers had got into a pit the ladder, of course, tumbled off on


his side, and either stuck fast in the mud or got broken in dragging it up. To this strategy of the mud-pits we owe our repulse. No human wisdom could have foreseen the snare, and it clearly proves that in this Mongolian Prince we have met with no ordinary foe."

We append some of the latest reports to be found in the columns of our eastern contemporaries. The Honourable F. W. Bruce and M. de Bourboulon, the Ministers of England and France, with their suites, have arrived in Shanghai. The former in the Coromandel, the latter in the Du Chayla. The Magicienne and Assistance are gone to an anchorage off Chinhae, Ningpo, near King- tang Island, where the British squadron will rendezvous, to recruit the sick and wounded. The Reaper arrived yesterday, from the Gulf, on the 8th. The Admiral, in the Chesapeake, was:waiting until the disabled gun-boats were ready to accompany him to the rendezvous. The Highflyer was .to leave on the 8th for Shanghai under sail, where she will take her station again as guardahip. The Cruiser and two gun-boats will remain in the Gulf. We learn that arrangements had been made for a meeting of the American Minister, Mr. Ward, and the Governor-General of Chihli, Hang. The meeting was to take place on the 8th instant, at Peh-tang, the northern entrance to the Pei-ho, about ten miles distant from Taku. The question of going to Pekin, it was expected, would be decided on at that meeting. A supply of provisions had been sent off to the American ships, and it was said that instructions had been issued by the Emperor to his high officers, to receive and escort the Minister and his suite to the capital, for the ex- change of the ratified copies of the treaty. The Russian treaty had already been exchanged.—North China Herald, July 16.

Incredible as it may appear, it is positively asserted in high quarters at Shanghai that the Taoutai has sent a letter to Mr. Bruce, stating that he is commanded to inform his Excellency that the attack of the forts at Taku on her Majesty's ships was a mistake, for which the Emperor expressos sincere regret ; that the Mandarins who committed the outrage had been decapitated, and that the Emperor would be happy to meet Mr. Bruce at Pekin, and ar- range matters amicably. —Daily Press, July 19.

It is stated that some of the wounds inflicted on 'our men at the late at- tack at the Pei-ho were caused by Minie balls. If this be true it is signi- cant—Hongkong Register, Alm 22.

The following excerpts from the China blue-book may prove iaterest- ing to our readers and serve to throw some light on recent events.

Précis of a Letter found at Shek-tsing.

"The writer is apparently a small official, who is sending information to a superior at Canton. The letter appears to have been written about the middle of November last.

" The administration of barbarian affairs, ho says, is in the hands of three Princes (one of whom, at all events, is the Emperor's brother). The four Imperial Commissioners (Kweiliang, and his colleagues) left Pekin with the most positive instructions to annul the whole Treaty of Tien-tsin. At Chang-ehou, however, they were urged not to attempt env such move, by the arguments of Ho Kwei-tsing, Governor-General of the Two Kiang, with whom they had a difference in consequence. His views, however, were supported so strongly by Wang, Treasurer of the Province, that the Com- missioners were induced to join Ho in representing to the Emperor the im- practicability of doing as he desired. He at first rebuked the memorialists, but, subsequently, informed them that there were four points on which he could not give way :-1. Trade at Hankow, and along the Tang-tsze-kiang. 2. (omitted, but, from what follows, evidently access to Pekin.) 3. Circu- lation of foreigners through the empire. 4. The longer occupation of Can- ton.

"This led to much negotiation with the barbarians, who gave way on no- thing but the Canton question. Hence auother memorial, proposing that barbarians, on important occasions, should have access to the city in small numbers, though the building of churches there (the French Treaty right ?) should still be forbidden ; and showing that the issue of passports would be well controlled by the circumstance of their requiring the seal of the Clfinese, as well as of barbarian authorities. Trade at Hankow must be ; they could do nothing with that question. "The Emperor rejoined, that he felt sure if they tried hard, they would not tail to succeed.

"The Treaty of fifty-six Articles was finally sealed again by the bar- barian Chiefs and the Commissioners ; and it was agreed that, in the third moon, the State documents should be exchanged at the capital. " On this, Ho left for Soo-chow, and on the 5th of the moon, (10th No- vember,) Wang followed him. "On the 8th November, Lord Elgin started for Hankow, with five ships. He had stated that he should do no harm to the authorities if they treated him properly; and the Commissioners had promised to write to the au- thorities, but had warned him that if he suffered anything at the hands of the rebels, or from the difficulties of the river, the responsibility would be with him. This he accepted. " Lord Elgin soon got aground, and had to lighten his ship-at a great ex- pense, and at Nankin had a collision with the rebels, the results of which were not known.

"All foreign affairs are kept so quiet that the writer has trouble in ob- taining accurate information. The barbarian Chiefs always met the Com- missioners on board steamers, and conversed with them in nooks where the Chinese acquainted with the devil-tongue could not hear what was said.

"These (the British ?) barbarians are very anxious that Canton should pay the largest quota. They bear the Government and people of the place such enmity, that they would like to shut it up as a place of trade alto- gether. They have been actively urging the Commissioners to denounce the Governor-General (Hwang) and the Committee of the Three. Gentry, as a condition of peace. This has not only been the subject of conferences, but of correspondence; copies of which the writer forwards. " In his humble opinion, it is impossible the Commissioners can commit the folly of making so many concessions. They are possibly playing the foreigner off. If they have addressed such a prayer to the Throne, his Ma- jesty will surely not accord it. Still there is every occasion for vigilance, and means may be found for averting such an issue. The writer is a humble i and unworthy individual, who does not presume to anticipate the Emperor's decision.

" It is said that Ho has applied to have the our Kwang-tung ' Imperial Commissionership transferred from Kwang-tung to Kiang-su, and that the Commissioner will support this. After Ho's return to Soo-chow, he twice addressed the Throne in his own name, upon the great difficulty of nego- tiating peace with the barbarians ; they had .got a foot and want an inch more; explaining what trouble he had had to bring things even to their present point ; and adding that, as the question was entirely in the hands of the three Princes, if the Emperor (or they) would not do as he proposed, he begged the three Princes might be sent to manage the business thorn- selves. The Emperor replied. 4 Where there is such obstinacy, of a surety there is no happiness,' and desired that Wang, the Treasurer (Ilo's sub-

ordinate and counsellor), should return at once to Soo-chow, and interfere no more in foreign affairs. It was presently said that Ho had lost his button.

" The French had been absent at Japan during the negotiations with the other Powers, but since their return there had been much discussion about admission into Pekin and the erection of churches there, which led to no satisfactory result.

"The Commissioners entertain, sit for their portraits, or pay visits to the devils,' enjoying themselves as if they had nothing to do. Ngau-king is reported to be retaken by Yang (who was lying before it as Lord Elgin passed up)."

From Conimissioner Ye& " The slave Kiying, upon his knees, presents a supplementary memorial to the throne.

" The particulars of his administration of the business of the barbarian States and management of barbarian envoys, according to circumstances, in his receptions of them, have formed the subject of different memorials from your slave. [After some allusion to the trade arrangements of the treaty, Yoh continues]—The meal which the barbarians eat together they 'all the to tsan (dinner). It is a practice they delight in to assemble a number of people at a great entertainment, at which they eat and drink together. When your slave has conferred favour upon (has given a dinner to) the barbarians at the Bogue or Macao, their chiefs and leaders have come to the number of from ten or twenty or thirty ; and when, in process of time, your slave has chanced to go to barbarian residences or barbarian ships, they have, in their turn, seated themselves round in attendance upon him, striving who should be foremost in offering him meat and drink. To gain their goodwill he could not do otherwise than share their cup and spoon.

" Another point, it is the wont of the barbarians to make much of their women. Whenever their visitor is a person of distinction, the wife is sure to come out to receive him.

" In the case of the American barbarian Parker, and the French bar- barian Sagrae, for instance, both of these have brought their foreign wives with them, and when your slave has gone to their barbarian residences on business, these foreign women have suddenly appeared and saluted him. Your slave was confounded and ill at case, while they, on the contrary, were greatly delighted at the honour done them. The truth is, as this shows, that it is not possible to regulate the customs Of the Western States by the ceremonial of China ; and to break out in rebuke, while it would do nothing to their enlightenment (lit.,to cleave their dulness), might chance to give rise to suspicion and ill-feeling. Again, ever since amicable relations with them commenced, the diflbrent barbarians have been received on something of a footing of equality ; once such intercourse is no longer a novelty, it becomes more than ever a duty to keep them off and to shut them out. " [Yeh intimates that he cannot receive presents.] The barbarian envoys hare had the sense to attend to this ; but in their interviews with him they have sometimes offered your slave foreign wine, perfumery, and other like matter; of very small value. Their intention being more or less good, he could not Well have rejected them altogether and to their face, but he has con- fined himself to bestowing on them snuff-bottles, purses, and such things as are carried on the nerson ; thereby putting in evidence the (Chinese) prin- ciple of giving much, although but little has been received. Again, on the application of the Italians, English, Americans, and French, your slave has presented them with a copy of hie insignificant portrait. " To come to their governments; though every State has one, there are rulers, male or female, holding office permanently, or for the time being. With the English barbarians, for instance, the ruler is a female ; with the Americans and French, a male. The English and French ruler reigns for life : the American is elected by his countrymen, anti is changed once in four years, and, when he retires from his throne, he takes tank with the people (the non-official classes). " Their official designations are also different in the case of each nation. (To represent these,) for the most part, they appropriate (lit. filch) Chinese characters, boastfully affecting a style to which they have no claim, and assuming the airs of a great power. That they should conceive that they thereby do honour to their rulers is no concern of ours, while, if the forms obserVed towards the dependencies (of China) were to be prescribed as the rule in their case, they would certainly not consent, as they neither accept the Chinese computation of time, nor receive your Majesty's patent (of royalty) to fall back to the rank of Cochin China or Lewchew. And with people so uncivilized as they are, blindly unintelligent in styles and modes of address, a tenacity of forms in official correspondence, such as would duly place the superior above and the inferior below, would be the cause of a fierce altercation Qit , a rising of the tongue and a blistering of the lips) ; the only course in that case would be to affect to be deaf to it (lit., to be as though the ear-loppet stopped the ear); personal intercourse would then become impossible, and not only this, but an incompatibility of relations would immediately follow, of anything but advantage, certainly, to the essential question of conciliation. Instead, therefore, of a contest about unsubstantial names which can produce no tangible result (it has been held) better to disregard these minor details, in order to the success of an important policy." . In another despatch, it is said- " It appears that in the country of the five Indies, appropriated by the English barbarians, they have established four tribal divisions ; three along the coast, and one in the interior. One of the coast divisions is Mange la (Bengal), the country in the extreme East ; one is Ma-to-la-sa (Madras), South-West of Bengal ; and one is Mang-mai (Bombay), on the Western limit of India. That in the interior is A-ka-la (Agra), lying midway between East and West. About the end of last summer, it is stated, twelve marts (or ports) in Bengal, which had revolted, were lost. Since the 8th moon the marts in Bombay have been all retaken (i.e., from the English) by (Indian) chiefs ; and since Elgin's return, after his defeat, the leaders of the English barbarians have sustained a succession of serious defeats. The Indian chiefs drove a mine from bank to bank of a river, and by the intro- duction of infernal machines (lit., water thunder) blew up seven large ves- sels of war, killing above 1000 men. On shore they enticed (the English) far into the country, and murdered above 7000 of them, killing a dis- tinguished soldier named Puta-wei-ka-lot, and many more. "Elgin passes day after day at Hong-kong, stamping his foot and sighing, and his anxiety is increased by the non-arrival of despatches from his go- vernment."