The Battle of Dagu Forts (1860)
August 12 - August 21, 1860 - Place - Dagu Fortress, Zhili Province, Qing Empire
Result - victory of the Anglo-French troops - Opponents - United Kingdom Great Britain
Qing Empire - Commanders - James Grant - Charles Cousin-Montaban - Sengé Rinchen - Forces of the parties - about 8 thousand British and French people each - unknown
about 60 killed, over 300 wounded and about 2 thousand killed and wounded
Audio, photo, video on Wikimedia Commons
The Second Opium War - Forts of the Pearl River -
Guangzhou - Forts of Dagu (1) - Forts Dagu (2) - Forts of Dagu (3) - Zhangjiavan - Balitsiao - Beijing
The third battle for the forts of Dagu lasted from August 12 to 21, 1860. Those who suffered a shameful defeat last year due to underestimation of the enemy, the British and French this time approached the matter according to all the rules of military art, and defeated the Chinese defense, opening the way for themselves to move deeper into the continent.
2 Planning an operation - 3 Landing - 4 Battle - 5 Results - 6 Literature - Background - The defeat of 1859 made a strong impression on European public opinion. The decline in the prestige of European weapons threatened with the loss of all the achievements of Europeans in China, so the British and French governments decided to send significant naval and land forces to China. In April 1860, the combined forces of the two powers concentrated on the Zhoushan archipelago near Shanghai. In June, troops were transferred to intermediate bases on the shores of the Yellow Sea: the French - to Chifu, the English - to Dalianhuang.
Planning the operation
On June 18, the English commander James Grant and the French commander Charles Cousin-Montaban met in Shanghai to agree on future action. Their opinions turned out to be exactly the opposite: the French commander suggested that the armies land separately (the British - north of the mouth of the Baikhe, the French - south), and at the same time attack the forts on both banks of the river, while the British offered to land both armies in the north, at the mouth of the Beitanghe river, and strike from there take possession of the forts on the left bank of the Baihe. The French insisted on taking their landing plan as the basis, but the British made a reservation that both landing points could be subsequently changed if subsequent reconnaissance found to be unsuitable.
July 14 coast reconnaissance showed that viscous to the Baikhe mouth the ground will not allow to land artillery and carts, so General Cousin-Montaban refused a separate landing and decided to act together with the British commander in chief.
From subsequently captured Chinese documents it became known that the Mongolian prince Sengarinchi, who commanded the defense of the coast, correctly predicted that the European landing would be planted north of the forts, in the area of the village of Beitan. However, he believed that the fortress of Dagu would stand in the event of a land attack, and the Sino-Manchu troops would defeat the Europeans in a land battle.
Beitan abandoned by the Chinese army
(August 1, 1860)
Landing in Beitan allies started on August 1; troop transport and unloading of equipment continued until August 12. On August 3, 1,000 French infantry men marched towards Baikhe forts for reconnaissance, but at the Xinke village they stumbled upon a fortified camp and, together with the British who came to their aid, returned to Beitan, losing about 20 people. In the following days, the British cavalry carried out several separate reconnaissance missions in the same direction.
At dawn on August 12, the allied army moved forward. Having shot down the barrier of the Manchu cavalry, the troops took a fortified camp near the village of Sinke, and settled there for the night; the enemy retreated to Tangu. On August 14, the Allies attacked and captured Tangu; the garrison partially retreated east to the fort, and partially crossed to the right bank of Baikhe on a floating bridge. Thus, forts on the left bank of Baikhe were cut off from land from Tianjin. The allies stopped, waiting for the arrival of siege artillery and military reserves.
In anticipation of a general offensive, General Cousin-Montaban decided to independently carry out his old plan of attack for the right bank of the forts. On August 18, a French sapper company, with the support of 200 sailors, crossed over Baikhe on junks captured from the Chinese, and entered into battle with Chinese troops near the village of Xiaoliang. The French had to send an infantry battalion and several mountain guns to help their reconnaissance detachment, with the arrival of which they managed to drive the Chinese out of Xiaoliang. Having received a stronghold on the right bank, the Allies began to build a floating bridge across the river.
The inner courtyard of the northern fort after capture
(August 21, 1860)
August 21 at 6 am artillery of the Allies (23 guns ) began shelling the left-bank fort, which was located closest to the village of Tangu. By that time, the Chinese had dragged the guns that had previously been facing the sea to the rear of the fort and entered into an artillery duel, while the Chinese batteries fired from the right bank of the river, inflicting heavy losses on the French troops and forcing the French to deploy 6 guns to combat them. To the aid of the ground forces came 4 English and 4 French gunboats, which opened fire from the sea. Around 7 o'clock in the morning, a powder cellar exploded in the attacked fort, but the fort fell silent for only a couple of minutes, and then resumed fire with the same force.
Hearing the explosions, the allies attacked the fort, but on the way they had to overcome two ditches filled with water under Chinese fire . Finally, breaking through to the base of the wall, the Allies managed to break into the fort, a melee ensued. As it turned out later, on this fort was the commander of the defense of the left bank of Baihe, who encouraged the troops by personal example.
Due to heavy losses and fatigue of the troops, the attack of the next fort, located near the sea, was appointed by both commanders the next day, but carried out immediately however, reconnaissance showed that the approaches to the fort were well fortified, and therefore it was decided to move on the attack immediately, hoping for a panic that seized the Chinese troops after the defeat just suffered. The calculation turned out to be correct: as soon as the Allies had time to speak, a white flag was hoisted on a seaside fort. The next day, the governor Zhili agreed to the surrender of the forts and the right bank, as well as to the opening of the Baihe River for passage of the ships of the allied squadron.
Having received freedom of navigation in Baihe, the allies occupied Tianjin without a fight on August 23, making it the base of their further attack on Beijing.
Butakov Alexander Mikhailovich, Baron Tizengauzen Alexander Evgenievich, Opium Wars. Overview of the Europeans' wars against China in 1840–1842, 1856–1858, 1859 and 1860
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