Capture of Woosung

14th June 1842 - 16th June 1842
Part of : First Opium War (1839/03/18 - 1842/08/29)
Previous action : Attack on Canton 21.3.1841
Next action : Occupation of Shanghai 16.6.1842 - 23.6.1842


Allied (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland & United Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Wildfire (74) Peter Richards (1787-1869)
Jupiter (50)  
Blonde (46) Thomas Bourchier (1791-?)
Nemesis (46)  
North Star (8)  
Modeste (18) Rundle Burges Watson (1809-1860)
Columbine (18)  
Clio (18)  
Algerine (10)  
Sesostris (4)  
Tenasserim (4)  
Pluto (1)  

Notes on Action

Woosung lies not only near the mouth of the main Yangtse-kiang, but also near that of another large river, the Woosung, twelve miles further up which is the town of Shanghai. Shanghai, besides being an important naval station, had a great trade with Nanking, the capital; and the Commanders-in-Chief felt that it was most desirable to occupy it. It was, however, necessary first to force the defences at the mouth of the Woosung river. The water in front of these was sounded and buoyed on June 14th and 15th by Commanders Richard Collinson, and Henry Kellett; and, on June 16th, the works on both sides of the river were bombarded by the warships, while the transports, with the troops on board, lay four miles out in the stream. On the north or Woosung bank of the river there was simply a line of armed ramparts, terminating, after an upward course of about three miles, in the small fort of Powshan. There were no flanking defences. On the south side there was an old masonry fort, supplemented by a line of incomplete earthen batteries. Only the first discharge of the enemy's guns, delivered as the ships were anchoring, produced much effect. A Marine officer, and two men in the Blonde were killed by it; and a leadsman in the Phlegethon lost both his legs, while several vessels were hulled. After two hours' firing, towards the close of which the Chinese guns were nearly silent, detachments of seamen and Marines were landed, and all the works, except Powshan, were cleared and occupied ere any of the troops were disembarked. Powshan was soon afterwards evacuated; so that the whole of the success, such as it was, was won by the Navy alone. Few Chinese were killed; and the greater part of the 200 or 250 guns captured were unmounted or useless. The British loss was 3 killed and 20 wounded.

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