The important Second Burma War Pegu Campaign and Second Opium War Lorca Arrow Affair Canton Destruction of the 23 mandarin war junks and capture of the French Folly Fort November 1856, Battle of Fatshan Creek and First Capture of the Taku Forts triple Mention in Despatches pair awarded to Acting Lieutenant E.H. Stuart, Royal Navy. Having served with the frigate Spartan during the Second Burma War in the Pegu Campaign in 1852, and probably during the subsequent operations in Chinese Wars during anti-piracy operations in the Macao River in late 1854, and when men from the ships' boats carried a battery and destroyed junks in Coulan Bay on 13th November 1854, went on to distinguished himself on three separate occasions during the Second Opium War. Present from the outset with the ship’s launch from the warship Calcutta, he was a part of the naval response at Canton to the Lorca-Arrow Affair which heralded the onset of the Second Opium War, he being one of 7 men to be Mentioned in Despatches for the destruction of the 23 mandarin war junks and capture of the French Folly Fort on 6th November 1856, he went on to be similarly decorated for the destruction of the Fatshan Flotilla of Chinese war junks on 1st June 1857 in what became known as the Battle of Fatshan Creek, and then finally was Mentioned for a third time for his services on shore whilst with the crew of the frigate Pique during the first capture of the Taku Forts on 20th May 1858. Stuart’s promising career however came to an end on 6th December 1858 when he was dismissed the service for ‘gross misconduct’ on 6th December 1858.
India General Service Medal 1854-1895, 1 Clasp: Pegu; (EDMD. H. STUART. MIDN. “SPARTAN”); Second China War Medal 1856-1860, 1 Clasp: Fatshan 1857, unnamed as issued. Both attractively housed in a fitted display case, each individually inset, the lid of the case bearing gilt wording: ‘Lieut. Edmund Stuart, R.N.’
Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.
Edmund Henry Stuart was born circa 1820, the son of Commander Thomas Stuart, Royal Navy, and his wife Lucy Anne Stuart, nee Bland, she being the daughter of Francis Christopher Bland of Derryquin Castle, County Kerry, Ireland. Stuart followed in his father’s footsteps into the Royal Navy, and as a Midshipman was appointed to 26 gun sixth rate frigate Spartan commanded by Captain W.L.G. Hoste, and in vessel he saw service out in the East Indies, and was then present from 5th April to 20th December 1852 in the Second Burma War during the Pegu Campaign. Having then been almost certainly present aboard Spartan in Chinese waters during anti-piracy operations in the Macao River in late 1854, and when men from the ships' boats carried a battery and destroyed junks in Coulan Bay on 13th November 1854, Stuart would then have travelled hone and was then appointed an Acting Mate on 19th August 1855, and joined the 84 gun second rate Calcutta, which vessel departed for the East Indies in May 1856, and arrived at Singapore in August 1856, and then at Hong Kong in early September 1856.
In October 1856, Chinese marines in Canton seized a cargo ship called the Arrow on suspicion of piracy, arresting twelve of its fourteen Chinese crew members. The Arrow had previously been used by pirates, captured by the Chinese government, and subsequently resold. It was then registered as a British ship and still flew the British flag at the time of its detainment, though its registration had expired. Its captain, Thomas Kennedy, who was aboard a nearby vessel at the time, reported seeing Chinese marines pull the British flag down from the ship. The British consul in Canton, Harry Parkes, contacted Ye Mingchen, imperial commissioner and Viceroy of Liangguang, to demand the immediate release of the crew, and an apology for the alleged insult to the flag. Ye released nine of the crew members, but refused to release the last three.
As a result on the 21st October 1856 a Royal Navy force including Calcutta, departed Hong Kong for the Canton River, and on 23rd October, having arrived off the mouth of the river, a smaller force was detached to travel up river and the larger warships could not navigate it. The warships Coromandel, Sampson and Barracouta, and Royal Marines, and the boats crews of the Calcutta, Winchester, Bittern and Sybille, then went up river to capture the various Chinese forts guarding the river, which they achieve that same day. On 25th October a demand was made for the British to be allowed to enter the city. Next day the British started to bombard the city, firing one shot every 10 minutes. Ye Mingchen issued a bounty on every British head taken. On 29th October a hole was blasted in the city walls and troops entered, with a flag of the United States being planted by James Keenan, the U.S. Consul on the walls and residence of Ye Mingchen. Losses were 3 killed and 12 wounded. Negotiations failed and the city was bombarded
Arriving at Canton on 5th November 1856, ship's boats, with the Barracouta, and later the Coromandel, attack 23 mandarin war junks which they destroy, and also capture of the French-folly Fort. There were pauses for talks, with the British bombarding at intervals, fires were caused. On 12th November 1856 there occurs the bombardment and capture of the Bogue Forts and the Anunghoy Forts on the following day. On 4th December 1856 the men of the Calcutta’s boat’s took part in a further attack on and capture of the now repaired French-folly Fort.The Royal Navy then left on 5th January 1857 and returned to Hong Kong.
Stuart was present during the operations at Canton with the Calcutta’s launch, and was Mentioned in Despatches for his gallant and distinguished service in the London Gazette for 6th January 1857 this being for his specific services in the destruction of war junks and the French Folly Fort on 6th November 1856. The incident which became known as the Lorcha Arrow Affair, was the pre-cursor to the outbreak of the Second Opium War which would officially begin till later in 1857, and despite the Second China War Medal covering the years 1856-1860, no campaign medal would in-fact be given for this key action. A read through the gazette would indicate that Stuart was almost certainly in command of the Calcutta’s launch during the operations up the Canton River, and that despite 28 men being Mentioned in Despatches for the Canton operations of 1856, only 7 would be Mentioned in Despatches for the destruction of war junks and the French Folly Fort on 6th November 1856, Stuart being of course of one of those men.
In addition Stuart was promoted to Acting Lieutenant on 9th March 1857 and appointed to the 36 gun 5th rate frigate Pique, however he does not appear to have joined his ship which was then not on station by transporting Lord Elgin to the Golf of Pacheli and was later in Japan, and instead Stuart served as second in command of the Calcutta’s launch, crewed by 24 men under Commander W.R. Rolland, and as such was then present with the forces of Commodore Henry Keppel for the destruction of the Fatshan Flotilla of Chinese war junks at Foshan on 1st June 1857, in what became known as the Battle of Fatshan Creek. Stuart once again distinguished himself on 1st June 1857, being Mentioned in Despatches in the London Gazette for 1st August 1857, this being for the ‘destruction of Fatshan Flotilla of War Junks’.
Stuart finally joined his appointed ship Pique under Captain Sir F. Nicholson, Baronet, and as such was then present as a part of the Naval Brigade forces ashore at the capture of the Taku Forts at the mouth of the Pei Ho River on 20th May 1858, where the shore going men of Pique formed part of the First Division of the force under Rear Admiral Sir Michael Seymour. His old ship, Calcutta, was also in attendance during these operations as a part of the Second Division. The attack on the forts was successful, however the subsequent peace treaty would return to the forts to the Chinese which therefore would necessitate a failed attack on them in 1859 and then their eventual recapture in 1860. For his part, Stuart was Mentioned in Despatches for a remarkable third time during the Second Opium War in the London Gazette for 28th July 1858, this being for his work at the capture of the Taku Forts on 20th May 1858, he being shown as ‘employed on shore’.
However despite all this, sadly for Stuart, he was still serving aboard Pique when he was ordered to be dismissed the service for ‘gross misconduct’ on 6th December 1858, and hence he appears never have claimed his second clasp for Taku Forts 1858 to be added to his Second China War Medal with the Fatshan 1857 clasp. The reasons for Stuart’s dismissal is very much unclear, however for an albeit junior but much decorated officer to have been dismissed so suddenly, his crime must have been of the most serious nature. Stuart appears to have died very soon after this incident, circa 1860.