Battle of Taku Forts (1858)

The First Battle of Taku Forts (Chinese: 第一次大沽口之戰) was the first attack of the Anglo-French alliance against the Taku Forts along the Hai River in Tianjin, China, on 20 May 1858, during the Second Opium War.

First Battle of Taku Forts
Part of the Second Opium War
Forts on River Peiho.jpg
Map of the Peiho River forts, showing British and French ships
Date20 May 1858
LocationCoordinates: 38°58′29.50″N 117°42′43.80″E / 38.9748611°N 117.7121667°E / 38.9748611; 117.7121667
Result Anglo-French victory
 United Kingdom
Qing China
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Michael Seymour
Second French Empire Rigault de Genouilly
Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1862-1889).svg Tan Ting-siang
700 (land force)[1]
Casualties and losses
5 killed
16 wounded[1]
6 killed
61 wounded[1]

The British and French sent a squadron of gunboats, under Rear-Admiral Admiral Michael Seymour, to attack China's Taku Forts. The battle ended as an allied success. However, the first phase of the Second Opium War would end with the Treaties of Tianjin and the forts were returned to the hands of the Qing Army, leading to the Second Battle of Taku Forts in 1859.


After the outbreak of the Second Opium War, the Anglo-French alliance captured the significant harbor of Canton (Guangzhou) during the Battle of Canton in 1857. The Xianfeng Emperor received the news that Canton had been occupied on 27 January 1858. The British commander Michael Seymour, hoping to force a settlement (the later Treaty of Tianjin), ordered an attack on the Taku Forts as they were the closer path towards Peking.


  1. ^ a b c d Bulletins and Other State Intelligence for the Year 1858. Part 3. London: Harrison and Sons. 1860. pp. 2869–2874.


  • Bartlett, Beatrice S. Monarchs and Ministers: The Grand Council in Mid-Ch'ing China, 1723–1820. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991.
  • Ebrey, Patricia. Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.
  • Elliott, Mark C. "The Limits of Tartary: Manchuria in Imperial and National Geographies." Journal of Asian Studies 59 (2000): 603-46.
  • Faure, David. Emperor and Ancestor: State and Lineage in South China. 2007.

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