Wolsely, chapter 1-3
ARRIVAL OF THE EXPEDITIONARY ARMY AT HONG-KONG. FORMATION OF A CAMP AT KOWLOON. — PREPARATIONS FOR THE CAMPAIGN. BRITISH ULTIMATUM TO THE PEKIN GOVERNMENT. THE REPLY FROM THE GREAT COUNCIL OF STATE. DESPATCH OF THE ALLIED FORCE FOR THE OCCUPATION OF CHUSAN.
ARRIVAL OF THE CHUSAN FORCE AT THE RENDEZVOUS OFF THE ISLAND OF KING-TANG. ARRIVAL AT TING-HAI. — CAPITULATION OF THE ISLAND. — DESCRIPTION OF THE PLACE. — DEPARTURE FROM CHUSAN AND ARRIVAL AT POO-TOO. DESCRIPTION OF THE ISLAND AND ITS TEMPLES.
ASPECT OF AFFAIRS AT CANTON. — DISPOSITION OF THE EXPEDITIONARY ARMY. ITS DEPARTURE FROM HONG-KONG. VOTAGE TO SHANGHAI. DESCRIPTION OF THAT CITY. — ARRIVAL AT WEI-HEI-WEI, AND DESCRIPTION OF THE PLACE. — DESCRIPTION OF TALIENWAN BAY AND SURROUNDING COUNTRY. PLAN OF OPERATIONS. DESCRIPTION OF CHE-FOO AND THE FRENCH CAMP THERE. — LANDING OF OUR TROOPS AT TALIENWAN. DEPARTURE OP THE ARMY FROM THENCE AND VOYAGE TO THE RENDEZVOUS OFF THE PEU-TANG-HO.
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… As a place for the organisation of an army, previous to active operations anywhere upon the shores of Pechili, Che-foo is preferable to Talienwan, being situated in a far more productive part of the empire; the province of Shan-tung being famous for its mules and cattle.
During our stay at Talienwan the allied Commanders-in-Chief had several conferences, and complimentary visits were made by the ambassadors, Lord Elgin having arrived at our rendezvous upon the 9th of July. The French navy, having made a careful reconnaissance of the coast near Chi-kiang-ho, on which they had previously fixed as their point of disembarkation, found, they said, that there was not sufficient water for their vessels, and that consequently they must land at Peh-tang with us. This was naturally a great disappointment to us all, and, I suppose, to our allies also.
After several meetings, it was at last finally settled that both forces were to start from their respective stations upon the 26th July, by which time our allies promised to be ready. The two armies were to meet [p. 82] at a point to be indicated by one of our men-of-war, twenty miles south of the Peiho.
Upon Saturday, the 21st July, our transport animals were embarked, and the various corps put their heavy baggage on board ship. Upon Monday, the 23rd, all the cavalry and artillery were embarked, with the exception of Fane’s Horse, which went on board the following morning, when also the remainder of the army did likewise. On the 25th July the ships were employed in getting into the positions assigned for them; and on the 26th, all weighed anchor and started with a fair wind for the general rendezvous off the Peiho.
We left behind at our depot at Odin Bay, four companies of the 99th Regiment, 417 of the 19th Punjab Infantry, and 100 of the Royal Artillery, besides 200 sick and weakly Europeans, and 100 sick native soldiers. Before leaving, we had provided for the accommodation of 440 sick Europeans, and 500 sick natives, with stores of medicines, medical comforts, &c. &c. for that number. During our stay at Talienwan, we had lost by deaths, 2 officers (one by drowning), 28 Europeans and 6 native soldiers, the largest proportion having been in the 1st Royals, the effects of service at Hong-kong telling upon the men.
Our coolie corps had proved itself of great use already, working most cheerfully and well; eighty, however, deserted one night, of whom we heard nothing, until, a few days subsequently, six of the party returned in a most pitiable condition, having, according to their story, been beaten and ill-treated by the inhabitants; some of the party had been [p. 83] beheaded, and all of them imprisoned. The six men had only escaped with great difficulty. Although we lost men by this circumstance, it was of great ultimate benefit, as it showed all the others what they might expect from their northern countrymen if they left us, and made them consequently all the more anxious for our success.
I do not remember having ever witnessed a grander sight than our fleet presented when steering for the Peiho. All ships were under full sail, the breeze being just powerful enough to send them along at about five knots an hour, and yet not more than ripple the sea’s surface, which shone with all the golden hues of a brilliant sunshine. The ships were in long lines, one vessel behind the other, with a man-of-war leading each line — Admiral Jones’s ship, the Imperatrice, keeping on the right flank, and superintending the whole arrangements. The Imperatrice, under topsails only, kept pace easily with the transport fleet, although every vessel of it was crowded with canvas. H.M.S. Cambrian, under Captain Macleverty, led the van, and seemed to carry on a never-ending conversation with the others, one string of signals being no sooner hauled down than it was succeeded by another and another. Looking around upon that brilliant naval spectacle, I could scarcely realise the fact of being some 16,000 miles from England. It was a sight well calculated to impress every one with the greatness of our power, and to awake feelings of pride in the breast of the most stony-hearted Briton. The magnitude of our naval resources was brought forcibly home to the mind of every one who saw such a vast fleet collected in the [p. 84] Gulf of Pechili, without in any way interfering with our commerce elsewhere.
No collection of men-of-war in one spot could impress foreigners with the fact of our power and greatness afloat, nearly so much as that immense display of our mercantile marine in such an out-of-the-way place. Fleets of war exhibit the metal wrought up and finished for immediate use, but in our vast merchant service we have the inexhaustible mine from whence the ore is drawn. Other nations may have the former upon the breaking out of hostilities, but after a couple of years’ war, and the losses consequent thereon, from whence can they recruit? Sailors cannot be made in one voyage, and until other nations can compete with us in their mercantile marine, we may rest assured of having ever our existing preponderance at sea.
Towards evening the French fleet of thirty-three vessels, counting gunboats, &c., came in sight, passing round the Meatow Islands; they were all under steam. As night drew near the wind died away, but freshened again towards morning. The next day we dropped anchor at the appointed rendezvous, which H.M.S. Cruiser indicated, having arrived the day before for that purpose. By the 28th July, all the fleet had arrived. We were anchored in nine fathoms of water, no land being in sight: the 29th being Sunday, nothing was done. Our gunboats, towing a number of Chinese junks with ten days’ provisions for the whole army on board, arrived in the evening. As these junks drew only a few feet of water, it was intended that they should accompany the landing force to the shore, so [p. 85]as to be at hand with supplies. On Monday the whole fleet weighed and bore in for shore anchoring about nine miles from it. The coast-line was then just visible from the mast-heads. A Russian frigate and three gunboats were riding close to us. [p. 86]