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The policy and general conduct of our expedition was entrusted to two Plenipotentiaries. One of these officials soon broke down in health and disappeared from the scene; the other, who was credited with some knowledge of the Chinese character, proved to be amiable and well-intentioned, but vacillating, credulous, and incompetent to meet the wiles of Eastern diplomacy. His gullibility and want of backbone cruelly hampered the movements of the sailors and soldiers until, many months after the beginning of the war, he was replaced by Sir Henry Pottinger, an Indian officer of large experience in dealing with Oriental races.

After assembling at Singapore, the point fixed for the general rendezvous, the fleet sailed for China, and, contrary to the universal expectation, did not stop at the mouth of the Canton river, but followed the coast upwards to the island of Chusan.[122] From its position near the mouth of the Yang-Tse-Kiang[123] river this island was of great strategic importance, and was required as a base of operations. Tinghae, its principal town, was weakly held, but when the Mandarins were summoned to surrender they replied that, though they had no hope of making a successful resistance, they were in honour bound to defend their post. After a short bombardment by the men-of-war on July 5, 1840, the troops were landed, the XVIIIth leading the attack, and the place fell into our hands. Our casualties were very few; the Chinese, on the contrary, lost very heavily, but the climate quickly avenged them. For several months the troops were kept inactive in Chusan, which proved to be a hot-bed of disease. In the hope of conciliating the inhabitants the soldiers at first were ordered to live under canvas, though there were hundreds of houses in which they could have been quartered. The camping grounds were selected without reference to the doctors, who protested in vain when they saw the “tents pitched on low paddy-fields, surrounded by stagnant water, putrid and stinking from quantities of dead animal and vegetable matter. Under a sun hotter than was ever experienced in India,” wrote a Madras army surgeon, “the men on duty were buckled up to the throat in their full-dress coatees, and in consequence of there being so few camp followers, fatigue-parties of Europeans were daily detailed to carry provisions and stores from the ships to the tents, and to perform all menial employments, which experience has long taught us they cannot stand in a tropical climate.”[123] The troops were fed on rations not only unsuited to the climate but of bad quality; much of the biscuit was bad, and the meat salted in India proved uneatable. Small wonder that in such circumstances intermittent fever, diarrhœa, and dysentery raged among all ranks; and though after a time the troops were moved into the houses of the natives, disease had taken such hold upon all ranks that in November there were not more than five hundred effectives at Chusan. The Royal Irish fared better than the other regiments, as the ships from which they drew most of their supplies were laden with stores prepared not in India, but in England; but still they suffered severely—two officers, Major R. Hammill and Lieutenant H. F. Vavasour, and about fifty of the other ranks died between July 5th and the end of the year.[124] Yet these losses were insignificant compared to those of the 26th, which from nine hundred was reduced to a strength, all told, of two hundred and ninety-one.

In January, 1841, there were combined naval and military operations against the forts at the mouth of the Canton river, in which the Royal Irish took no part as they had been left to garrison Chusan; a few of the regiment, however, were present, probably invalids serving on board ship for change of air. After several batteries had been dismantled and many heavy guns[124] spiked or otherwise disabled, the Mandarins made a treaty with the Plenipotentiary, by which they agreed to cede to us the island of Hong Kong, to pay a considerable indemnity, and to allow trade to be reopened at Canton, while on our side we undertook to restore Chusan to the Chinese. No time was lost in occupying Hong Kong, of which formal possession was taken on February 26, 1841, two days after the Royal Irish arrived there. Colonel Burrell, XVIIIth, had been the senior military officer throughout the occupation of Chusan, and very thankful must he have been when, after seeing the last of the garrison safely on board ship, he turned his back on the island which proved fatal to such numbers of his men.[125] Very soon after the expedition had been concentrated at Hong Kong it became evident that the treaty was not worth the paper it was written upon. Far from being anxious for peace, the Chinese had only sought to gain time to prepare for war. An army of labourers was strengthening the defences of Canton; an army of soldiers was being collected in the interior of China to man them; large rewards were offered for the capture of British ships and British fighting men; for a battleship a hundred thousand dollars were promised; the Admiral and the Plenipotentiary were worth fifty thousand dollars each; the other officers were rated on a descending scale, while the price of a Madras Sepoy was only fifty dollars. On the 24th of February the fleet bombarded the celebrated Bogue forts in the Canton river; five hundred guns were taken, and everyone hoped that the ships would now be allowed to push up the river and capture Canton, when all movements were temporarily arrested by the announcement that the Plenipotentiary had entered into a truce. As, however, the Chinese did not fulfil its terms, the men-of-war engaged, silenced and destroyed such of the batteries as they had not yet attacked; made their way up the reaches of the river, and anchored close to Canton. The city lay almost defenceless under their guns, when the Plenipotentiary agreed to a suspension of hostilities on condition that the port should be reopened to British trade. This arrangement suited the Chinese admirably: the civil population would be enriched by the money paid by the merchants for the tea crop, then ready for delivery; while the military Mandarins gained time to cast new ordnance, to rebuild their ruined forts, and to reinforce the garrison before again defying the “Barbarians.”[126] The troops were ordered back to the harbour of Hong Kong, where Major-General Sir Hugh Gough, who had recently arrived from Madras to take command of the land forces, reorganised his little army, and attempted, though with small success, to infuse his own spirit of determination into the weak-kneed Plenipotentiary, whom Gough in a private letter described as “whimsical as a shuttle-cock.”
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It was not long before the position of affairs at Canton once more became most serious. The gun factories had been working night and day; the forts had been repaired and re-armed; large numbers of soldiers had arrived; and in May the extermination was decreed of the European merchants, who on the faith of the truce had now returned to their counting-houses. This roused the Plenipotentiary into temporary activity; he arranged with Gough and the senior naval officer for a combined assault on Canton, and warned all Europeans to leave the place forthwith. By the evening of the 23rd of May the navy, after hard work in bombarding the river forts by day and warding off the approach of fire-rafts by night, had prepared the way for the execution of Sir Hugh Gough’s plan for the capture of Canton. This city of a million inhabitants was surrounded by walls of great thickness, and from twenty-five to twenty-eight feet in height; its ramparts, bristling with guns, were manned by forty-five thousand regular soldiers and an equal number of militia. To the west, south, and east of the town were large and prosperous suburbs, but on the north this expansion had been checked by a range of heights which, running parallel with the northern wall, completely dominated Canton and its defences. The Chinese had realised that if these heights passed into the hands of the British the town would become untenable: not only had they defended them with four strong forts, armed with forty-two heavy guns, but they had formed a large entrenched camp outside the north-eastern corner of the city, in order further to secure the safety of the heights which they rightly anticipated would be the point of our attack. Such was the position against which Gough, with less than 2800 soldiers, sailors, and marines, was about to try his strength. He divided his little force into two columns of very unequal size.[127] The right, or smaller detachment, was to[126] force its way through the western suburb as far as the European settlement, or, as it was locally termed, “the factories”; occupy it, and place it in a state of defence. General Gough took personal command of the left or larger column, which consisted of four so-called brigades, the largest of which had in the ranks less than 900 officers and men. When the left column had been transhipped into all kinds of craft, from smart men-of-war’s gigs to lumbering native tea junks, it was towed in a motley procession of about eighty boats for five miles up a creek of the river to Tingpoo, a village about three miles and a half from the western base of the northern heights. Here the fourth brigade landed without opposition, just as the guns of the fleet were thundering out a royal salute in honour of the birthday of Queen Victoria. With the 49th regiment Sir Hugh Gough made a rapid reconnaissance inland, and then, leaving outposts behind him, returned to superintend the disembarkation of the main body.

Daylight on the 25th saw the whole column in motion, slowly threading its way, often in single file, over the densely cultivated rice-fields which lay between Tingpoo and their objective. The XVIIIth was ordered to leave an officer and thirty men at the landing-place to keep open the communications and to protect stores; the duty fell to Lieutenant W. P. Cockburn, who distinguished himself by the skill he displayed a few hours later in beating off an attack by a considerable body of the enemy. Until the infantry were within range of the western pair of forts the Chinese remained silent; then a heavy fire from their guns forced Gough to halt until his artillery could be brought into action. By eight A.M. the gunners had succeeded in dragging two 5-in. mortars, two 12-pr. howitzers, two 12-pr. field-pieces, and a rocket battery to within 600 yards of the two western forts. These they bombarded vigorously, while the General reconnoitred and issued his orders for the assault: the Naval brigade was to storm the western forts, while the 1st and 4th brigades were to drive the Chinese from the hills close to the eastern forts. Under cover of our guns the troops advanced, exposed to a heavy but fortunately ill-directed fire: with great dash the sailors wrested the western forts from the enemy, who fought with stubbornness though without skill; the infantry swept over the heights with such vigour that the Chinese deserted the eastern forts before the troops had time to close upon them; and the Marines, who had been detached from Burrell to cope with a demonstration against our right flank and rear, disposed of their antagonists with little trouble. In the charge of the XVIIIth upon the forts the grenadier company led in extended order, accompanied by the General, who in his despatch reported that it had seldom fallen to his lot to “witness a more soldier-like and steady advance, or a more animated attack. Every individual steadily and gallantly did his duty. The XVIIIth and 49th were emulous which should first reach the appointed goals; but under the impulse of this[127] feeling they did not lose sight of that discipline which could alone ensure success.”

Though the ridge had been won with such ease, the day’s work was by no means over. As soon as the Chinese realised that the forts were lost, they opened from the city walls so heavy a fire of guns, gingals, and matchlocks that it became necessary to keep the British troops well under cover, and part of the garrison of the entrenched camp advanced into a village, threatening our left flank. The 49th dislodged them, but later in the day there was such animation in the camp that Gough ordered Burrell to storm it with the Royal Irish, under Lieutenant-Colonel H. Adams, and a company of Marines. Between the foot of the heights held by the British and the enemy’s entrenchments stretched a great expanse of rice-fields deep in water; a narrow causeway bridged this inundation, and along it, under a galling fire, the XVIIIth advanced at the double, scattered the enemy in every direction, set fire to the tents, and blew up the magazines. This success was not a bloodless one—three officers were wounded, and there were some casualties in the other ranks. The assault was led by Captain Grattan, whose “spirited conduct” on this occasion led Gough to select him to carry despatches to the Governor-General of India.[128] With the capture of the village the operations ended, for though Gough was burning to assault the northern wall of the town, his heavy guns were not yet in position, and his infantry, out of training from their long detention on board ship, were completely exhausted by the abnormal heat of the day. To this exhaustion the unsuitable dress of the soldiers doubtless contributed not a little. Notwithstanding the protests of the doctors the men still wore tightly buttoned red coatees or shell jackets, stocks, and blue Nankin trousers; and their headgear was a huge shako or a small forage cap, both useless in an almost tropical climate.
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Gough’s little force bivouacked on the heights they had won, elated at their own success and at that of the right column, which had made good its position in “the factories.” Early on the 26th, before our artillery was ready to open fire, the Chinese sent a messenger to say that they desired peace; Gough replied that before entering into any negotiations he must see the Chinese General, and in waiting for this elusive personage, who never appeared, several hours were wasted; then torrents of rain rendered any movements impossible, and Gough had to content himself with completing his preparations for the storming of the city wall on the 27th. But in his plans he had not reckoned with the Plenipotentiary, who, without[128] consulting the officers commanding the naval and military forces, agreed with the Chinese to accept an indemnity of six millions of dollars, to be paid within six days, when the whole expedition was to retire from the Canton river. Remonstrances were useless, for the Plenipotentiary was supreme, and after several anxious days spent in skirmishing with the local irregular troops, the soldiers re-embarked and the fleet once more returned to Hong Kong, leaving the Chinese more firmly convinced than ever that the English were as easy to hoodwink in diplomacy as they were difficult to fight in battle. These operations cost fourteen killed and ninety-one wounded. The casualties in the Royal Irish were Captain J. J. Sargent, Lieutenants D. Edwardes and G. Hilliard wounded, and five men killed or wounded.[129]

Owing to a combination of adverse circumstances nothing was accomplished by sea or land for some months. The Plenipotentiary, ever engaged in futile negotiations with the Chinese, could not bring himself to accept the active policy pressed upon him by Sir Hugh Gough, who pointed out that the Emperor of China would never respect us until the expedition had forced a passage up the great waterway of the Yang-Tse-Kiang, and struck a vigorous blow at the heart of the Celestial Empire. A great typhoon drove many ships ashore, dismasted others, and blew down part of the settlement at Hong Kong. Malarial fever, caught in the rice grounds around Canton, became so prevalent that at one time two-thirds of the troops were unfit for duty. The Royal Irish did not suffer more than other corps, yet on August 1, six weeks after a draft had raised their strength to 747 all told, 136 of the regiment were in hospital, and three officers died.[130] With the arrival of Sir Henry Pottinger, the new Plenipotentiary, the aspect of affairs changed; and on the 21st of August the regiment formed part of the column embarked for the attack of Amoy—a seaport three hundred miles up the coast towards the mouth of the Yang-Tse-Kiang. The position of Amoy is naturally strong, and since the beginning of the war it had been so greatly fortified that, after it was taken, soldiers and sailors agreed that it would have proved impregnable had it been defended by Europeans. Amoy stands at the head of a bay studded with islands, the most considerable of which, Kulangsu, commands both the city and the strait or channel, only six hundred yards in width, by which the inner harbour is entered. From every island and from every headland guns frowned upon the bay, and, to quote Gough’s biographer—


“immediately in front of the outer town stood a succession of batteries, and from these there extended a solid rampart, facing the sea, about[129] a mile in length. It was, says an eye-witness, ‘well built of granite, faced with earth, extending along the shore nearly up to the suburbs of the city, and designed to command the passage to the harbour. It presented a line of guns, a full mile in length, the embrasures being covered with large slabs of stone protected by earth heaped upon them, and mounting no less than ninety-six guns.’ The end of this rampart was connected by a castellated wall with a range of rocky heights running parallel to the beach and the rampart, which was thus protected from a flanking attack.... On the island of Kulangsu there were several strong batteries, mounting altogether seventy-six guns, and some of these faced the long stone rampart on the opposite side of the strait, thus exposing the assailants to a cross-fire.”[131]

The naval and military commanders decided that the works of Amoy and Kulangsu should be attacked at the same time; the ships were to bombard them in front, while the troops took them in reverse. The morning of the 26th of August saw the plan carried into effect: the batteries at Kulangsu fell easily into our hands: those at Amoy were so strongly built that though two line-of-battle ships poured many thousands of projectiles into them at 400 yards’ range, the masonry was practically uninjured. The cannonade, however, served its purpose in preventing the Chinese gunners from sinking the boats in which the XVIIIth and 49th were carried to their appointed landing-place at the foot of the castellated wall. While the Royal Irish, scaling this wall, turned the flank of the works on the sea front, the 49th rushed along the shore and scrambled over the parapet of the great battery; both regiments swept the work from end to end, driving the Chinese before them, and then joined the Marines, who had occupied the heights. Here they commanded the “outer city”; but the “inner city” was protected by a range of hills occupied by a large number of the enemy. Gough ordered the 49th to turn these hills, and sent the XVIIIth straight at the Chinese, up a steep gorge where a few men could have checked a regiment. The Chinese, however, made a very poor resistance; the troops bivouacked on the heights, and next morning occupied the citadel and “inner city” of Amoy. The total British loss was seventeen killed and wounded; among the latter were two men of the Royal Irish. The Chinese suffered severely, and several of their leaders committed suicide rather than accept defeat.

The adventures of the XVIIIth on this occasion are amusingly described by Lieutenant A. Murray, the officer in command of the picked shots of the regiment, who throughout the campaign worked together under his orders—


“We got into boats about 12 o’clock, and were taken in tow by the steamer Nemesis,[132] and as we had to go to the different ships[130] to collect the men, we were towed about the harbour for a long time, at the imminent risk of being capsized, as the string of boats increased every minute, and consequently threading our way through the fleet became more dangerous. I cut one boat adrift to prevent her sinking us, as she was twice our size and was pounding us to pieces, the Colours of the regiment being in the boat with me.... The steamer stood pretty closely into the shore, and the boats cast off, the Nemesis covering our landing with her guns and rockets. Our Grenadier and Light companies, and marksmen, under the command of Major Tomlinson, were ordered to move to the front to take the flanking wall of the battery, which was done very easily, and they (i.e., the Chinese) only fired a few shots and a volley of rockets. We got over the wall by stepping on each others’ backs. On seeing us come over the wall the Chinese, who till then had stood to their guns, ... now ran in all directions, throwing their large shields over their backs.”
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After capturing a Mandarin’s flag Murray followed the grenadier and light companies along the rear of the batteries, where a number of the enemy came at them boldly; the Chinese were soon dispersed, however, and fell back to a clump of aloe bushes, from which they were driven by a second charge. Of the bivouac Murray writes—


“It was almost night when we reached the summit of the heights and there were ordered to halt for the night. This was rather a pleasant look-out for tired and hungry men, without anything to eat or a house to sleep in, with a bitter cold wind blowing; however there was nothing for it but to choose the softest possible rock, light a cheroot and fancy yourself comfortable for the night.... There was great picking and choosing among us for soft rocks; but I believe we all came to the conclusion that one rock is as hard a pillow as another.”[133]

After destroying the batteries and securing the five hundred guns captured at Amoy, the expeditionary force put to sea, leaving as garrison of Kulangsu 361 officers and men of the XVIIIth under Major J. Cowper, part of the 26th, and a detachment of artillery—a total of 550 of all ranks. The intention was to attack the towns of Chinhai and Ningpo, and then, in order to efface the bad impression produced by our evacuation of Chusan at the beginning of the year, to re-occupy that island. Bad weather, however, scattered the ships, and, when at length they were reassembled it was decided at once to seize Tinghae, the capital of Chusan, before the Chinese had finished their preparations for its defence. Since we had abandoned it our enemy had fortified the town assiduously. On the sea wall facing the harbour a battery of eighty guns had been thrown up. On the west it ended at the base of an eminence, in our previous occupation known as Pagoda Hill, where cannon were now mounted; to the[131] eastward it stretched almost to the foot of a line of heights, entrenched but not yet armed. Gough decided to land at the foot of these heights, and after carrying them to push some of the troops against the town, while others attacked the long battery from flank and rear. The ships were to avoid the fire of the guns on the sea front by taking up their stations on the outer flanks of Pagoda Hill and the eastern heights. The fleet came into action on October 1, 1841, and covered by their bombardment three hundred of the Royal Irish under Lieutenant-Colonel Adams, the newly arrived 55th regiment, and eight guns of the Madras Artillery disembarked under a heavy though ill-aimed fire of matchlocks and gingals. The 55th won the eastern heights, though not without difficulty, for the garrison of Tinghae were soldiers of a better stamp than the defenders of Amoy. The Royal Irish were sent off to the right, marching in quarter column and covered by the flank companies and picked marksmen, who ran into the enemy at an encampment near the long battery. Here the Chinese showed fight, and lost considerably in hand-to-hand work. Murray relates that a “white-buttoned” Mandarin,[134] after wounding one of the marksmen in the chest with a spear, “closed with him and got his forage cap off, another man came up and thrust at him with a bayonet, which he wrenched off, but was shot by a third.” While the sharpshooters were thus employed the grenadier company had made its way into the long battery, where there was a sharp skirmish at close quarters round a gun. The Chinese stood bravely, and were not dislodged until another company of the regiment came up at the double, when they fell back, leaving the ground covered with their own wounded and a few of the XVIIIth. In this little fight pistols were used with effect. A Chinaman ran at Murray, sword in hand, but as the hero of the adventure writes, “having no particular confidence in my regulation spit, or perhaps in my own skill as a swordsman, I stuck my sword in the mud beside me, took a steady aim, and shot him.” As soon as the Royal Irish had cleared the long battery of the enemy they climbed Pagoda Hill, to find that its garrison had been driven away by the shot and shell of the men-of-war and the artillery. As the Colours of the XVIIIth were raised on the top of the hill, those of the 55th began to float over the walls of Tinghae, and the capital of Chusan once more passed into our hands at the cost of some thirty killed and wounded. In the XVIIIth the casualties were a sergeant and six rank and file wounded. The loss of Chusan greatly annoyed the Chinese, who complained that we had not fought them fairly. Instead of anchoring our ships right under the cannon of the long battery and making a frontal attack by sea and land, as they expected, we had meanly bombarded the extreme ends of[132] their line of defence, landed where their guns could not play upon us, and taken the battery in flank. Had cricket been one of the national institutions of China, the beaten troops would doubtless have said that we had not played the game!

Leaving an adequate garrison in Chusan General Gough next attacked Chinhai, a seaport at the mouth of the Ningpo river, twelve miles from the important city of Ningpo. Its fortifications, though strong, were easily turned on the 10th of October, when the place was taken with a total loss of four killed and sixteen wounded. One man in the Royal Irish was killed[135] and four wounded. The Chinese suffered very heavily, for here, as elsewhere in the campaign, their arms were as indifferent as their shooting, and after standing well for a time they broke before a charge, and were then mowed down in every direction. The slaughter of the fugitives was a hideous necessity: we were but a handful in an enormous country, and our enemies were so numerous that we should have been overwhelmed by numbers had we not inflicted severe punishment upon them in every engagement. To the bad marksmanship of the Chinese must be attributed the XVIIIth’s good luck on this occasion. As the Royal Irish approached the range of strongly held hills which they were to seize, they found themselves on the bank of an unfordable canal, well under the enemy’s fire. This canal was spanned by a bridge, narrow in itself, and made still narrower by an arch across it; the archway was blocked by a large stone, and even after this obstruction had been removed the passage was so small that the men had to take off their great-coats in order to squeeze through it one by one. “We had one or two very stout fellows,” wrote one of the officers present, “whom we had great difficulty in pushing through, but when we came to the big drum we were in a fix. However, we got a little boat, and put McGiff, the big drummer, and his drum into it, with a pole to shove himself across. The Chinese thought the big drum was some new form of infernal machine, and opened a tremendous fire upon it, much to our amusement, but it was anything but fun for McGiff. He and the drum, however, got over safe and sound, except the drum heads, which were much damaged by bullets.”
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Three days later Ningpo fell without a shot being fired, and the little army was played into the town by the band of the XVIIIth. Here Gough was obliged to halt: much as he desired to push on to the banks of the Yang-Tse-Kiang he could not do so without troops, and sickness, casualties, and the drain of the garrisons of Hong Kong, Kulangsu, Tinghae, and Chinhai had left him with only about seven hundred and fifty men in hand. With so slender a force he could do nothing but await reinforcements; and for several months the headquarters of the XVIIIth and 49th remained at Ningpo, occasionally[133] employed in demonstrations to postpone the attack which, as he rightly anticipated, could not be long delayed. Beyond these demonstrations there was little to break the monotony of existence in this Chinese city. The duty was heavy. Nearly five miles of continuous wall, twenty-seven feet high, twenty feet broad, and broken only by six gates, surrounded the town: each of these entrances required a strong guard; the town was patrolled several times during the twenty-four hours; and the field officer and captain of the day, mounted on sure-footed Chinese ponies, rode frequently round the ramparts to visit ground which could not be watched by the sentries on the gates. Once a week the Colours were trooped in the presence of the General, who insisted on the attendance of all officers not otherwise employed. When troops were available there was drill in a large square, to the great delight of a number of little native boys who had attached themselves to the Royal Irish. These children hung about the temple, which had been converted into a barrack, and did odd jobs for the men, helping them to cook and to carry dinners to the guards. In return for these kind offices the soldiers made pets of the boys, and taught them military expressions with such assiduity that in a short time “almost all the young blackguards about the place could swear in very good English.” These youngsters proved their friendship with the XVIIIth by confirming the rumours, already current, that during the absence of Sir Hugh Gough, who had been summoned to a conference at Chusan with Sir Henry Pottinger, a great army was about to attack Ningpo; and after warning their soldier friends that next day there was going to be a great fight, they disappeared. This warning was repeated by the traders in the market, who drew their hands across their throats to give their British customers to understand that all the “Barbarians” would soon be killed. In the night of March 9-10, 1842, large bodies of the enemy simultaneously assaulted the south and west gates. The attack on the former was successful; the Chinese forced it open, routed the guard, and were making their way into the centre of the town when they were met by part of the 49th, who drove them through the gate and back into the suburbs with heavy loss. The west gate was held by Lieutenant A. W. S. F. Armstrong and twenty-eight men of the XVIIIth, carefully picked among the best soldiers of the regiment by the adjutant, Lieutenant Graves, who, like every one of the garrison at Ningpo except the officer in temporary command, had realised that there was trouble in the air. Five minutes after the bugles had sounded the alarm the Royal Irish were on parade, and two companies went off at the double to reinforce Armstrong’s guard, who, owing to the construction of the parapet, were unable to fire down upon the Tartars as they strove to lever the gate off its hinges with crowbars and axes. Suddenly among the defenders appeared a private, Michael Cushin, described as a first-class soldier with[134] only one failing, who seems to have been the hero of the defence. He had been imprisoned for drunkenness at the west gate, and when the attack began, begged to be released. As soon as his cell was opened, he wrenched the bar off the door and began to use it on the Tartars’ heads: next he killed the officer commanding a party of the enemy on the point of clambering over the parapet: then his quick wits solved the problem of the ill-planned rampart. Collecting ten or twelve men, they put their shoulders to the part of it which overhung the gate, and with a few great heaves topped the mass of masonry into the crowd below.[136] Through the gap thus made the guard began to ply their muskets, and when the supports arrived with a light gun, a murderous fire was opened upon the Tartars, who sullenly abandoned the assault and retired, leaving two silk banners as trophies in the hands of the XVIIIth. After the south gate had been re-occupied a handful of British soldiers, among whom were some of the Royal Irish, pushed their way through the town, and near one of the gates found a great number of the enemy drawn up across the street. The infantry reserved their volley until twenty yards from the Tartars, the guns fired canister at fifty yards’ range, and a party of the regiment, under Lieutenant Murray, after breaking through a house and fording a canal, occupied the side streets of the thoroughfare down which the enemy was driven, and by their musketry contributed much to his great losses. For six miles the Tartars were hunted, first through the suburb and then in the open country, but there was no fight left in them, and the civilian inhabitants who crowded the streets and roads gave them no help, and appeared to regard the fighting as a spectacle arranged for their own amusement. The attitude of most of the Chinese throughout the campaign, indeed, was one of complete apathy: they looked upon the war as an annoying but unavoidable interruption to their daily life, and finding that their conquerors treated them well, acquiesced in their presence, and made as much money out of them as possible.
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