First War with China, and efforts to suppress the Slave-Trade - A.D. 1840.
As the numerous places which had hitherto been taken were at a distance from the capital, the emperor still hoped that he might set the British at defiance. It was determined, therefore, to attack Nankin itself, the second city in the empire, situated about 200 miles up the great river Yang’tse Kiang, or Yellow River. The difficulties of the navigation had hitherto been considered an insuperable obstacle; although the river is of great size, the current runs with prodigious force, and there are numerous shoals and rocks in its course. The river, however, was surveyed by Commanders Kellett and Collinson, and as they reported that water for the largest ships was found right up to Nankin, the admiral undertook to carry the whole of the fleet up to the walls of that city. Woosung and Shanghai, situated on the banks of a river which falls into the sea at the entrance of the Yang’tse Kiang, were first captured, and on the 6th of July, 1842, a fleet of nearly 80 sail, including among them the Cornwallis, of 72 guns, Sir William Parker’s flag-ship, in five divisions, sailed up the mighty stream on their voyage of 200 miles into the very heart of China. Before reaching Nankin they came off the large city of Chin Keang Foo, near which passes the great canal of China. It was captured on the 20th by the troops, aided by a body of seamen and marines under Captain Peter Richards, who scaled the walls on one side while the soldiers got over on another. The Tartars fought with the most determined bravery, holding every house and street, resolved to sell their lives dearly. Frequently, on being defeated, they put an end to themselves, and often destroyed their wives and children. Lieutenant Fitzjames distinguished himself in the attack, having brought up some rockets which, fired among the enemy, threw them into confusion. The gate of the city was just then blown open by powder-bags, when Sir Hugh Gough, who was with the third brigade, accompanied by Sir William Parker, dashed over the ruins. They were met, after fighting their way for some distance, by a sudden fire from a body of Tartars, when Lieutenant Fitzjames and several men were wounded. The British, however, uttering a loud cheer, attacked the Tartars with such fury that they were soon put to flight, when numbers fell by their own hands. The British were speedily in entire possession of the city. Every means was taken to spare life, to prevent plunder, and to restore order. During these operations several vessels of the fleet were employed in blockading the mouths of the great canal, in capturing all the trading junks which came in sight, and in preventing provisions being carried to the city. Still, it was necessary in order to bring the emperor to reason, for the fleet to appear before the walls of Nankin. Having been detained by contrary winds, it was not till the 4th of August that the ships could get up, carrying 4500 troops, besides marines and blue-jackets. The Cornwallis and Blonde then took up their positions within one thousand paces of the Ifung Gate of Nankin, and every arrangement was made for the troops to attack the city. Before the British proceeded to extremities, the emperor having been informed the true state of affairs, authorised his commissioner to treat for peace, and on the 29th of August the treaty for which the British had been so long contending was signed on board the Cornwallis. Among other clauses, China agreed to pay twenty-one millions of dollars; Canton, Amoy, Foo-Chow, Ningpo, and Shanghai, were thrown open to British commerce, Hong-Kong was ceded in perpetuity to Her Britannic Majesty; all British subjects imprisoned in China were to be released, and correspondence was in future to be conducted on terms of perfect equality between the officers of both governments. Thus the war in which the navy of England had played so conspicuous a part was terminated. Its greatest achievement, however, was the passage of the fleet 200 miles up the river, and its return without the loss of a single vessel. This, however, could not have been effected without steamers, which, besides towing the sailing ships, performed important parts in all the operations of the war. Among those who especially distinguished themselves by their activity were Commander Belcher, afterwards Sir Edward Belcher, Mr Hall, of the Nemesis, who was deservedly made a lieutenant and commander, and is now Admiral Sir W.H. Hall, Commanders Kellett, Collinson, and Fitzjames, well known as Arctic explorers, Lieutenant McCleverty, and the bravest among the brave, Captain Loch, who fell in Burmah.
Destruction of Pirates in the Indian and China Seas.