Primary sources: North China Campaign of 1860

Chapter 9

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Chinese Committee of Supply — Looting — Encampment at Ho-see-woo — Negotiations — Conference at Tung-chow — Baiting a Trap — Chinese Deserters — Mandarin Spy — An ominous Expedition — A Llama’s Grave — Chinese Fox-Hunt — The “Black Prince” — The Noise of Battle — Engagement near Matow — Reconnaissance to Tung-chow — Gallantly of Colonel Walker — Mr. Parkes’ Account.

 

Ho-SEE-woo, as you ride through its main thoroughfare, presents no very attractive appearance. The houses are mostly of brick, and perhaps rather better built than those already passed, but their doors are closed and barred within, and the larger part of the inhabitants have fled.

 

The men deputed by the Committee of Supply at Tien-tsin to provision the army on the march, here fell short of their engagements, and attempted to make ofi^. The consequence was that the most responsible of them was kept close prisoner, while the others were sent to hunt up caterers for the riat. The supplies provided were not equal [p. 215] to the demand; hence the houses had to be broken open to search for grain, the commissariat undertaking that nothing but the necessaries of life should be abstracted from them. Grain was found in abundance, but labourers to grind it into flour scarce. The few villagers left in the place did not care to exert themselves to pulverise their own stafi^ of life, though it were under the condition that the rest of their property should be preserved. Soldiers were sent to bear a hand, and looting followed as a consequence. The pawnbrokers’ shops were soon discovered by their conspicuous sign-boards, generally dragons’ heads, carved of wood, and painted with green and gold, protruding over the doorway, and the mischief once commenced, not the utmost vigilance and frequent use of the rod on the part of the provost-marshal could put a stop to it.

 

The town of Ho-see-woo is walled, and has rather a decent little gate under a quaint old tower porch at each end; but the road the carts had to pursue led up a sandy hill, through a small suburb on the right, on the bank of the river, and toilsome work it was for the carts to drag their slow lengths up this undulation, with axle half embedded in the sand. But on opening the farther side of the village, the eyes are greeted with quite a picturesque view; low green hills, with a pretty pagoda, a gaudily painted [p. 216] Confucian temple, and a square-walled monastery, besides other tasteful-looking buildings, groups of handsome trees, and groves and woods speckling the country away in the distance on both sides of the river. Lord Elgin took up his abode in the monastery, and, as I remarked in a previous chapter, the Head-quarters’ Staff dwelt in and about the Confucian temple, while the army was encamped in the plain, and among the groveg in front of us. On the following day the French arrived and pitched their camp beyond ours. Ho-see-woo, without doubt, is the finest village on the road to Tung-chow, and in a military point of view, the undulating ground in its neighbourhood would have enabled the enemy to have considerably impeded our progress. They might have originally had such intention, for a large store of bows and arrows and other munitions of war were discovered in an old hall; but there were no other signs of defence. We learned that a “Seun-cheen,” or small magistrate, of the ninth gilt button, had a residence there, as also another civilian, the Tungchee of Tung-loo, of the fifth rank crystal button.

 

On the day of our arrival, Messrs. Parkes and Wade pushed on with a small escort to Matow, where the commissioners had reported themselves waiting for Lord Elgin’s reply to their letter which had reached his lordship at Nan-tsai. A letter had been [p. 217] received from the same parties at Yang-tsun coached in rather defiant terms, and expressing astonishment at his Excellency’s moving forward from Tien-tsin. The first letter having deservedly met no other reply than that expressed hy a continuation of the march, another despatch, in milder terms, met the Ambassador at Nan-tsai, in which the commissioners calmly suggested, “If, therefore, the British Minister will withdraw his forces to Tien-tsin, the prince and his colleague will have it in their power to repair at once to Tien-tsin for a conference for the consideration and despatch of business. But if his Excellency be apprehensive that time will be wasted by their movements to and fro, there would bo no objection whatever to his halting his force at Yang-tsun, and selecting some place midway between that town and Matow, near enough to suit his convenience, at which business might *be discussed and disposed of. Let his Excellency decide whether it shall be Ho-see-woo or Nganping,” &c.

 

As his lordship, however, was not so easily to be taken off the scent again, he preferred carrying the troops with him to Ho-see-woo, and thence sent on Messrs. Parkes and Wade with his reply. Meanwhile, the prince and his colleague had got wind of the advance of the troops, and with true Chinese caution had retired to Tung-chow, whither the two [p. 218] interpreters followed them after an imooinfixtaMB night passed at the wretched liUage of Matow. In the reply, Lord Elgin signified his determination to continue the march to Tong-chow, and that if the Chinese gave sufficient secoritr £»* their good eondact, he would halt the army ** at a point within an easT stage of that citr, and proceed firom there with an escort of 1,000 men to Tnng-chow for the signature of the conTcntion, and to Pekin for the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty of Tien-tsin.**

 

At noon on the 14th, Messrs. Parkes and Wade arriyed at Tung-chow, in the neighbourhood of which they saw signs of a large force encamped near. Thej took up their abode in the residence of the chief ciyilian, and went at 4 o clock to the temple outside the east gate to meet the commissioners; Mr. Wade describes Tsai, Prince of E, and his colleague in the following words: — ^**The former is A tall, dignified man, with an intelligent countenance, though A somewhat unpleasant eye; Muh-yui, President of the Board of War, softer and more oily in his manner^ but also intelligent. Both were extremely polite, the prince especially, and without condescension or afiectation.”

 

After the prince had engaged to produce authority for his exercise of plenipotentiary powers, a copy of the convention was shown to him, which, with the [p. 219] mendacity for which the Chinese are justly celebrated, he ignored, ” although,” writes Mr. Wade, ” in two of his despatches already written he had promised to sign it.** And when this fact was brought to his memory, ho ventured objections to nearly every stipulation contained in it. A spirit of friendship appears to have pervaded the whole conversation, and from it we learn that the actual government of the country is not vested in the three Tartar princes only — ^to wit, Prince Hwui, Prince of Ching, and Prince of E; but that there are others of Chinese extraction that share with them the control. The Prince of E desired that the army should be encamped one mile and a half to the rear of Chang-chia-wan. This point was ceded to him, and he engaged to meet the ambassadors at Tung-chow in the manner proposed by Lord Elgin, to which we have previously referred, stating distinctly in the letter he returned to his lordship — “To the inquiry made on behalf of tho ambassadors as to what security can be given for the faithful execution of the engagements now entered into, the prince and his colleague have to reply that no comparison can be drawn between the authority vested in them and that held by other ministers who may have been charged with negotiations, and that this fact aflfords a positive assurance of the future observance of good faith on the part of their govern- [p. 220] ment. We shall see, in the course of the narrative, what the words “good faith** are worth in China. With this reply Messrs. Parkes and Wade returned to the camp at Ho-see-woo, having observed ” numerous cavalry videttes ” at Chang-chia-wan, and ” long lines of very wretched cavalry ** at Matow. They were well assured of the good intentions of the Chinese diplomatists, and looked upon the presence of men in arms near our camp merely as evidence of the neighbourhood of San-kolinsin*s peaceful forces. The military officers they conversed with were all inclined for peace, and signified their joy at a settlement of the difficulties that embroiled the two countries. Thus, the way was smoothed, and in a few days our force would advance to its final camp at Ho-see-woo, to provide Lord Elgin with the escort of honour that was to conduct him to Tung-chow, and thence to Pekin.

 

Meanwhile the natives of the neighbourhood spoke ominously of the success of our advance, and intimated in strong terms to my Chinese attendants’ that San-kolinsin was carefully baiting his trap, and that his soldiers were loud in their brag how they were going to surround us on our march and cut us to pieces: for their Commander-in-Chief had determined that not one of the “Hats’* should return again to Tien-tsin alive. The term “Hats” was [p. 221] very generally applied to the Freijch and English troops, owipg to the strange and conspicuous solar topees pf pith they wore to protect their heads from the sun. Among others who hrought this iatelligenoe were twq deserters from San-kolinsin’^ anoyt whopi we employed to cater for our departmeqt during these times of comparative scarcity of provisions at ^o?^eerWQQ; for the villagers had deserted the place in alarm, and showed none of that readiness to hring supplies into the camp which they had hitherto done at previous stoppages on the march* For some time I was not aware of tho suspiqious character of our caterers, and on one occasion took one of them with me for a shooting ramble, giving him my gun to carry. He seemed quite up to the manceuvres of the fo^vling-piece, and shqwed himself so intelligent that I took quite a liking for the fi^llow. Mv servants at last came to mc in dire alarm, and communicated the news they had picked up from the villagers and from those two n^en; and as I had to go round to the Emhassy’s quarters with a prisoner caught conveying a letter through the camp fron^ a mandarin residing at Ho-see-woo to the commissioners at Tung-chow, I mentioned what I had heard to Messrs. Boiilby and Wade. These gentlemen laughed and said that they were only idle tales sprung up among the rabble, and that they wondered [p. 222] at ipy listening to such nonsense} that they fully helieved in the sincerity of the commissioners, who had hehaved in such a friendly spirit in their lata interviews, ^d that v(e should shortly see }iow smoothly all difficulties would he ^rri^nged. At t^hisi repulse I sent the deserters away, and tried to think no more of the matter. The writer of the letter we h^d intercepted had lately heen taoutai, or chief magistrate, of Shangl^ai, and had had much inter-t course with foreign officials at that port. He was, there^re, selected as a spy on our proceedings, and quietly sent to take up his quarters at Ho-see-woo, He had several times attempted to get an interview with Lord Elgin, hut without success, and was now stating in the letter to the commissioners, after a detailed account of our doings at Ho-see-woo, the amount of the force we ^ad with us, and the intention we had in view of advancing in a few days, apd of encamping nefo^ Chang-chia-^an, whence an escort 1,000 strong would he supplied to Lord Elgin, to accompany him to Tung-chow. In speaking of the troops, the term ” Hats ” was invariahly used. The bearer of this letter was detained, hut the man^i darin managed to make his escape. It was not to he expected that one mandarin writing to another would speak of a hostile force in courteous terms { hut, perhaps, fearing the chance of the document [p. 223] falling into our hands, the writer had avoided making any allusion which might throw light on the uncertain state of our existing relations.

 

Lord Elgin communicated the success of his envoys to the French Ambassador and to the Commander-in-Chief, and it was determined that the army should move forward to the camping ground proposed, five le this side of Chang-chia-wan. Mr. Parkes was then commissioned to proceed in advance of the army to Tung-chow for the purpose of making preparations for the reception of the Embassy a* that place, and also to procure means of transport for the Ambassadors and StaflF. A letter was entrusted to him by Lord Elgin to deliver to Prince Tsai and his colleague on arrival at Tung-chow.

 

The camp broke up at daylight on the 17th, and commenced their march to Matow, the first stage, leaving a regiment, however, at Ho-see-woo, where Lord Elgin had decided for the present to remain. Mr. Parkes started in advance at a very early hour, “accompanied by Colonel Walker, Quartermaster-General of the Cavalry Brigade; Mr. Thompson, of the Commissariat Department; Mr. Loch, private secretary to Lord Elgin; Mr. De Norman, one of Mr. Bruce’s attaches, who volunteered to go with him as assistant; and Mr. Boulby; and escorted by five men of the Kings Dragoon Guards, and twenty [p. 224] of Fane’s Horse, under the command of Lieutenant Anderson.**

 

Our department followed some hours afterwards; as before, Wolseley and myself continuing along the road, and Harrison on the river’s bank. The country was very beautiful, with luxuriant crops of millet and numbers of umbrageous woods roundabout the villages. Two curious tombstones attracted our attention on the road, and afforded a good landmark. They stand off the village of Wa-woo, on a grassy flat surrounded by cultivated fields. The most conspicuous of these monuments is a narrow column of marble about ten feet high, written all over with Thibetan characters, and surmounted by a conical top. We were told that it marks the grave of a Llama priest. At Gnan-ping, the midway village, consisting of a large cluster of mud houses, with here and there a temple, I talked with the proprietors of a few of the shops still open; these men told me that a £orce of a thousand Tartar cavalry was stationed there three days ago, but had since been withdrawn. They said that these .troopers were insubordinate in their bearing to their officers, and, in defiance of their orders, ill-used and plundered the villagers. They were mostly Tartars, and only a few knew a smattering of Chinese. The rest of the road was all but deserted, and many of the houses of the small villages [p. 225] were quite cleared out. We had, therefore, much difficulty in procuring information for our surrey, for as soon as a native spied us, even at a distance, he made off as hst as he could go. In such cases the only plan was to give chase, so I generally had to proceed in advance, accompanied hy a Seikh orderly, and as soon as he saw a native we separated and gave chase to cut him off whichever way he ran. When once caught the quarry was easily tamed by a few words of his familiar lingo, and the information we sought easily procured. But in one instance I was tired, and sent the sowar alone on a chase, and after waiting some time, and the man not returning, I followed his track and discovered him halted in front of a house belabouring the door with the butt end of his spear. He grinned and gave me to understand in a mixed jargon of Hindustani and Patau that the fox had taken earth through that entrance, and as he spoke I descried a native clambering over the housetop to escape. I shouted to him in Chinese not to be alarmed, and he soon became tranquillized, and told me that the grim appearance of the “black prince” with a spear had frightened him.

 

The camp was pitched beyond Matow, in a very sylvan locality, and we erected the tents of our department in a field, in which the millet had been just cut down, close under the shade of a stately [p. 226] willow of gigantic proportions. Matow, or “Landing-place” (literally “Horse’s Head”) is a poor, straggling village on the banks of the narrow stream of the Peiho. Its wretched mud huts were then tenantless. The distance from Hoseewoo to Matow was twelve miles, but we had got over the ground rather quicker than usual, and I was tempted by the brightness of the sky and the loveliness of the scenery round to take a ramble. The millet was cut down in this neighbourhood, but still it was impleasant walking over the fields, as the stalks, a foot and a half high, were left uncleared, hard, and stiflT, and seldom yielding to the pressure of the foot; but the numbers of quails that lurked about the ground induced one to brave the risk of bruising one s shins. A village I passed through, as the sun was setting, presented an enchanting though melancholy sight. Lately, no doubt, the scene of so much alarm and confusion, its inhabitants all hurrying away elsewhere for protection, it now rested in tranquil repose by the side of a brook, with a green lane, through hedges passing from it, to the fields. The branches of the overhanging trees, that threw a pleasant gloom over the inud cottages, rocked about almost noiselessly in the gentle evening breeze. I stood and gazed for some time charmed into a peaceful reverie, when the noisy curs — the only guardians of the deserted huts — spied [p. 227] me out, and, setting up a noisy barking, reminded me of the approaching darkness, and of the necessity of my return to camp.

 

Next morning (the 18th) at daylight, the troops resumed their march to the encamping ground near Chang-chia-wan, and we resolved to do as we had all along done, to let the army get well in advance before we struck tents. It was a bright, clear morning, and we were preparing to take it easy after breakfast, when a King’s Dragoon officer came riding back, and told us that the General had sent orders to the rearguard to move up all the baggage as fast as possible, as there was a large body of Tartar cavalry ahead. He did not know whether the order applied to us, but he thought it was his duty to inform us of it. We thanked him, but, thinking it was a precautionary measure on the part of the General, paid no further attention to it. Shortly after we distinctly heard the noise of distant cannon, and seeing four mounted French riding back along the bank of the river. Colonel Wolseley desired me to have my horse saddled and ride across to them, and inquire what the cannonade was about. They coolly replied that they were on their way back from Tung-chow to Ho-see-woo, and had just passed through the Chinese camp and the French and English lines, with as much safety as if they had strolled through the streets of [p. 228] Paris, and that they had heard no firing. I asked them if they could not hear it now, for while we were speaking together the rumbling noise continued. To my astonishment they replied, “No, not at all. But that if there really was any firing, it must be an engagement between the Allies and the Tartars.”

 

On this I turned away from the two mounted officers and their orderlies to return to our tents, where I found Wolseley and Harrison, both on the raised road watching for signs of smoke. We soon saw balls of white smoke in the air, indicating the explosion of shells, and clouds of dust, such as would be raised by the charge of horses. This at once convinced us that hostilities had certainly recommenced, and the danger we were in so long as our white tents afforded a conspicuous mark to the enemy’s eye. We at once struck tents, and assisted in packing the carts. It would have been madness to have pushed on towards the belligerents at once, and to have left our baggage to the mercy of any of the enemy’s stragglers; so we determined to keep by it, and gradually creep on as fast as the carts would let us towards the rear of the British column, which we judged could not be many miles in advance. It was a long, anxious four miles we had of it. At times the mules would pull different ways, and at others the [p. 230] Dragoon Guards, Frobyn’s and Fane’s Seikh Horse, with Sterling’s half battery, Brigadier Pattel commanding; two field batteries under Captain Desborough, and the two brigades under Brigadiers Sutton and Beeves, viz. 2nd Queen’s, 15th Punjaubees, Boyal Marines, and 99th Begiment, with detachments of Boyal Engineers and Military Train. One French regiment (the 2nd Chasseurs de Vincennes) and one field battery followed. The army marched from Matow on the 18th, and had advanced about four miles, when the enemy’s piquets were observed, which, at their approach, leisurely retired to a large camp, distant about a mile farther. While halted, to enable the column to form up, a flag of truce was brought in by a few mounted men, which was soon followed by a mandarin in a green chair wearing the pink button and peacock’s feather of a first-class official, who was recognized as the former Hoppo, at Canton, and late Commissioner sent to Tien-tsin to negotiate with our ambassador. While he was making the usual Chinese excuses, Mr. Loch arrived.”

 

It appears that Messrs. Parkes and Loch, accompanied by Colonel Walker and Commissary Thompson, with a few orderlies, left Tung-chow at an early hour that morning to arrange about the encamping ground for the army; that on the road [p. 232] they met large bodies of Tartar troops, who were drawing guns into position, and apparently preparing for an engagement. The Tartars behaved at first civilly, but were decided in their tone; and Mr. Parkes, finding he could only get evasive answers from their officers in reply to his questions, returned to Tung-chow to remonstrate with the authorities for their breach of faith. Colonel Walker and Commissary Thompson rode on with a Tartar escort to inspect the appointed spot for the camp, while ” Mr. Loch sought the Conunander-in-Chief, to whom he reported the state of affairs, and by whom he was requested to rejoin Mr. Parkes, and to warn him,” with the rest of the gentlemen, to return at once to the main column, and Captain Brabazon, Quartermaster-General of the Royal Artillery, was requested to accompany him. ^^ The mandarin left, after impudently assuring Sir Hope Grant that the Tartar cavalry, whom we now saw assembled in hundreds, were merely collecting the supplies we required.** Large bodies of them were seen moving to the left, who were said by this worthy to be going for provisions for the allied troops; while others that were moving to the right in the direction of the river were going to draw water (on horseback and without buckets !) ” Meanwhile, the troops were formed up in contiguous close columns of corps, and [p. 233] awaited during three hours the return of the party from Tung-chow. While enjoying the shade of a clump of trees, some 500 yards from the camp in which the Tartars were now husily stirring, I was suddenly startled’* (writes this correspondent) *• by hearing a volley of gingals and a round from numerous guns along their entrenchments: a few horsemen enveloped in a cloud of dust galloped up. These proved to be Colonel Walker, Assistant Quartermaster-General of Cavalry, Assistant Commissary-General Thompson, and two dragoons.” I spoke with Colonel Walker on the subject afterwards, and gathered from his account that he and the Commissary were shown to a spot set aside for the camp right in the centre of the Tartar files, whereupon he shook his hand to his guide and tried to make him understand that a place must be chosen nearer the water. His guide, was a low white-buttoned mandarin. While waiting in anxious uncertainty for the army to move up the Chinese soldiers began to increase in numbers, and pressed round himself and companions; they were not openly rude, but rather overbearing in their manner, and betrayed that impertinent curiosity so often shown by Chinese to a foreigner. Some time after a red-buttoned mandarin rode past with a military retinue, who, the guide intimated to him, by raising his thumb, was the chief, probably San-ko- [p. 234] linsin himself. The functionary in passing by turned his head away, as if he did not see the British officers. Presently a man came on one side of the colonel and snatched his sword from the scabbard. The man, however, was reprimanded for his rudeness, and the sword returned to its owner. At last the crowd, who were composed of armed men, all in similar uniform and most of them neatly dressed, began to get excited and rude; and a great commotion seeming to take place at a little distance off Colonel Walker rode up to see what it was, and found that the Tartars were attacking a French officer. The officer was badly cut about the neck, and seemed to have lost all sense. The colonel interposed and tried to ward off the assailants, when they turned upon him; one snatched his sword from its sheath, cutting the colonel’s fingers in his attempt to save it; others attempted to drag his feet out of the stirrups; and another came behind Commissary Thompson and made a liinge at him with a spear, but fortunately his belt warded off the blow and he only received a flesh wound.

 

Seeing the unpleasant turn affairs had taken, and deeming it no longer safe to remain in such dangerous company, the colonel cried out to his party to charge for their lives through the midst of the enemy. At the word of command the party bent down to their horses* necks and spurred their chargers through the Tartar [p. 235] ranks, which gave way at once hefore them. The enemy discharged every available matchlock at the fugitives, and several guns opened fire upon them, but fortunately the gauntlet was run without any serious casualty; one dragoon receiving merely a flesh wound in his thigh. The British column was soon reached and the General acquainted with the particulars of the affair.

 

The assault was undoubtedly more premature than the Tartar general had intended, for it is plain their intention was to beguile the Allied troops to encamp peacefully in the midst of their numbers, and then to attack them unawares. Their plans were, at all events, foiled; for ” there being no signs of the return of Mr. Parkes and his companions. Sir Hope Grant made arrangements for the immediate advance of the Allied forces. The disposition of the troops was as follows: — the French on the right, with Fane’s Horse and Desborough s and Barry’s batteries, supported by a squadron of King’s Dragoon Guards and 15th Punjaubees in the centre. The Second Queen’s, with the cavalry and Stirling’s battery, on the left; the remaining regiments in reserve. The enemy at once opened a heavy fire, and showed their position to be behind an entrenchment several miles in length crossing the high road, which was defended by a battery of sixteen guns. [p. 236] their left thrown forward and resting upon a village in a grove of trees, their right extended as far as the eye could reach over the millet fields, the crop of which had heen recently cut some two feet from the ground, forming a disagreeable impediment to the troops, especially the cavalry. After a sharp engagement which lasted for two hours, the enemy, who could not stand against the fire of our artillery, gradually advancing to within 500 yards, gave way, and spirited charges were made by our cavalry. Fane’s Horse on the right pursued them through the village; the Eling’s Dragoon Guards and Probyn’s Horse on the left drove them several miles, and were only obliged to desist on finding themselves at a considerable distance from the main column. The Seikhs, headed by their officers, did great execution. One old sowar was heard describing the Chinese army as so many moargee (angUce^ fowl), very difficult to overtake and entirely harmless when caught. Following up the enemy, the 15th Punjaubees and 99th Regiment entered the walled city of Chang-chia-wan. It was estimated that the force opposed to us numbered 30,000 men; the Allied troops were under 3,500 men.”

 

The field of operations extended over so large a space of ground that it is impossible to form a guess of the number of the enemy’s slain. Indeed, as we [p. 287] rode into the batteries, skilfully constructed amidst clumps of trees, and masked with freshly chopped branches, we rarely came across a Tartar corpse. The raised road which strikes off at right angles to the main road and follows the course of the lAttle River formed one long battery and had some fine brass guns in position, a few of which had been dragged on their clumsy carriages half way through the shallow stream and there deserted. Seventy-four pieces of cannon were captured on this occasion and all destroyed. We had very few casualties; but the French lost the colonel commanding their cavalry in a dashing charge on the Tartars, in which they were assisted by a company of Fane’s Horse. Greneral Montauban, in a letter of thanks to Sir Hope Grant for the assistance of the Seikhs, spoke very highly of their behaviour during action, and recommended the lieutenant commanding that company for the Legion of Honour.

 

Lord Elgin, at Ho-see-wo, had during the day heard the sound of distant artillery, but it was not until after midnight that he was apprised by a letter from Sir Hope Grant of what had taken place. Betimes in the morning his lordship started for the front, and, on arriving at Chang-chia-wan, proceeded with the Commander-in-Chief to the quarters of the French General to confer on the best means of [p. 238] recovering the prisoners; where ” it was agreed that a reconnaissance of British cavaky should proceed forthwith to Tung-chow, and that Mr. Wade should accompany it with a notification to the chief mandarin of that city, to the effect that the Commanders-in-Chief of the Allied armies required all English and French suhjects to return to the head-quarters of their respective armies, and that if any impediment was put in the way of their return, the city of Pekin would forthwith he attacked and taken. It was added that Tung-chow Would not he molested if the inhahitants kept aloof from all resistance to the Allies.” Mr. Wade first attempted to communicate with the Tartar camp on the east of Tung-chow, hut his flag of truce was fired upon; he then tried the city of Tung-chow itself, and managed to get an interview with the mandarin on its walls, who calmly replied, in answer to the questions on the welfare of the prisoners, that ‘^he believed a party of upwards of twenty had left the city some time before the firing on the 18th had commenced.” On the day following, however, Major Probyn, in the course of a further reconnaissance, secured a native, who asserted that he had seen some foreigners being conveyed to Pekin in a cart on the day of the fight.

 

Much disgust was at this time entertained among the officers in the army at the obtuseness shown by [p. 239] the diplomats, in the easy manner in which they had heen heguiled into a trap hy the treacherous Chinese, and many invectives were lamiched forth against Mr. Parkes for having tamely submitted to sue for a pass from San-kolinsin, instead of charing the cowardly crowd that thronged around him with the band of trusty companions in his train. Had they trusted to their weapons and charged, the majority would have escaped, in all probability; whereas, now they were all completely at the mercy of their cruel enemies. At the same time, loud were the praises in favour of Colonel Walker, who had so gallantly, in spite of the great odds against him, ridden through the Tartar ranks, and delivered the whole of his small band with only a trifling casualty. This ill-feeling was chiefly based on conjecture, the true particulars of the capture not having transpired. The public have since been favoured with Mr. Parkes’ own story, from which we gather, that having returned to Tung-chow to remonstrate with the authorities against the warlike preparations he had observed on the road, Mr. Parkes was returning, with the whole of his party, to the British lines, as desired by Sir Hope Grant. ” We had just passed Chang-chiawan,” writes Mr. Parkes, ” and were hoping to be clear in ten minutes of the Chinese lines, when a fire of Chinese artillery opened along their front, and [p. 240] showed that the engagement had begun. As soon as we were observed, a number of Tartar horse moved into the road to intercept us, and, halting the party, I informed an officer who we were, and asked him to allow us to pass on. He desired me not to proceed until orders arrived from a superior officer close at hand; upon which I suggested that time might be saved if I visited that officer myself. He assented; and I therefore rode towards the spot, accompanied by Mr. Loch and one sowar carrying a white flag. The remainder of the party, namely, Major Brabazon, Lieutenant Anderson, Messrs. De Norman and Boulby, one dragoon, and, I believe, eighteen sowars, remained on the road, and were also provided with a white flag.” The interview with this Ted-button^ and then with San-kolinsin, resulted in Messrs. Parkes, Loch, and the sowar being treated as prisoners, and ‘carried off to the Prince of E.

 

The rest of the party anxiously awaited the return of Messrs. Parkes and Loch. “The Chinese,” writes Sir Hope Grant, “crowded round them in great numbers, to disarm them. The position in which they found themselves precluded any attempt to cut their way out with any chance of success, upon which Lieutenant Anderson very properly determined to trust to the protection of the flag of truce, and ordered the sowars to make no resistance. They [p. 241] were accordingly disarmed and taken to the rear, being permitted to retain their horses.” Thus we see how apt men are to hastily prejudge cases before they are fully acquainted with all the points bearing upon them. A perusal of Mr. Parkes’ tale, subsequently published in The Times, must have induced many to change their opinions on the subject of the capture, and to give him, at least, his due, for the noble behaviour he bore towards his captors while completely at their mercy. [p. 242]