Battle of Whampoa

The Battle of Whampoa was fought between British and Chinese forces at Whampoa Island (modern-day Pazhou Island) on the Pearl River near the city of Canton (Guangzhou), Guangdong, China, on 2 March 1841 during the First Opium War.[1]

Battle of Whampoa
Part of the First Opium War
Whampoa from Dane's Island.jpg
View of Whampoa Island from Dane's Island
Date2 March 1841
LocationCoordinates: 23°5′46″N 113°23′50″E / 23.09611°N 113.39722°E / 23.09611; 113.39722
Result British victory

 United Kingdom

Qing China
Commanders and leaders
James Bremer
Edward Belcher
1 ship of the line
2 corvettes
1 bomb ketch
250 troops
25 guns
Casualties and losses
1 killed 15–20 killed


On 2 March 1841, Commodore James Bremer, commander-in-chief of British forces, sent Capt. Edward Belcher of the Sulphur to reconnoitre the Junk River.[a] The ship was towed by three of the Wellesley's boats under Lt. Richard Symonds. As they approached the northeast end of Whampoa Island, a Chinese battery of about 25 guns, which were masked by thick tree branches, opened fire on the ships.[1][3] Lt. Symonds immediately cut the tow line, the boats sailed towards the shore and the boat crews landed. The battery was defended by 250 Manchu Tartar troops. They fled for shelter in the neighbouring jungle, but were dislodged by artillery from the Sulphur. After the British captured the forts, the guns were destroyed and the works and magazines blown up.[3][4]

Bremer reported 15 or 20 Tartars killed. One British seaman from the Wellesley died from wounds after being shot through the lungs with grapeshot.[3][5][6] Bremer resigned the command of the land forces to Maj. Gen. Hugh Gough, who joined the fleet on board the Cruizer.[3] Former Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu wrote in his diary entry for 2 March: "I hear that the English rebel ships have already forced their way to the fort at Lieh-te. Early in the morning I went to talk things over at the General Office in the Monastery of the Giant Buddha."[7]


  1. ^ Junk River lies between Whampoa and Junk Island, a long narrow strip of land north-east of Whampoa.[2]
  1. ^ a b Ouchterlony 1844, p. 120
  2. ^ Hall & Bernard 1846, pp. 123–124
  3. ^ a b c d Bulletins of State Intelligence 1841, p. 348
  4. ^ Bingham 1842, pp. 73–74
  5. ^ Hall & Bernard 1846, p. 131
  6. ^ Belcher 1843, p. 158
  7. ^ Waley 1958, p. 141


  • Bulletins of State Intelligence. Westminster: F. Watts. 1841.
  • Belcher, Edward (1843). Narrative of a Voyage Round the World. Volume 2. London: Henry Colburn.
  • Bingham, John Elliot (1842). Narrative of the Expedition to China, from the Commencement of the War to Its Termination in 1842 (2nd ed.). Volume 2. London: Henry Colburn.
  • Hall, William Hutcheon; Bernard, William Dallas (1846). The Nemesis in China (3rd ed.). London: Henry Colburn.
  • Ouchterlony, John (1844). The Chinese War. London: Saunders and Otley.
  • Waley, Arthur (1958). The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0611-5.