Essex Regiment & Essex Militia History

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44th Regiment Casualties at the Battle of Taku Forts 1860

The Battle for Taku Fort was a fierce engagement as the fort was protected by 42 guns and a large Chinese garrison as it was the key defensive unit in a line of forts.

The British joined forces with the French as both nations were keen on protecting their interests in the far east.

Following the taking of this fort all of the Chinese forts surrendered to the allies and this brought about a peace with the Chines Government signing the disputed treaty and paying a large sum of additional money.

To quote a contemporary account from the English language Chinese mail newspaper

Two companies of the 44th one commanded by Captain Gregory and the other by Lieutenant Rogers had rushed to the ditch to keep down the enemies galling fire of gingalls and matchlocks. There was no cover against the bullets, spears and arrows flying about in every direction, so Captain Gregory placed his men up to their middle in water and commences a fusillade against the Chinese on the parapets, himself seizing a rifle from a wounded soldier and using it with excellent effect for thirty rounds. Man after man of the 44th continued to drop and still there was no bridge.

Lieutenant Rogers rushed through the ditch, pulled out the spikes and succeeded in reaching the berm under the parapet wall.

The scaling party then arrived and started their attempts to scale the wall.

Lieutenant Rogers made an attempt to force his way through an opening but was repulsed but when assistance arrived he was able to enter being the first Englishman to enter the Forts despite being wounded by a matchlock ball.

More troops poured through the opening and the fort was taken.

For their bravery Taku Fort was added to the Regiment battle honours and Lieutenant Rogers and Private McDougall were both awarded the VC.

Casualties

At the start of the battle Regimental strength stood at 22 Officers and 996 other men.

The 44th Regiment suffered 60 casualties of which 8 were slightly wounded, 28 Severely Wounded, 10 dangerously wounded, 4 mortally wounded and 10 killed.

Total British casualties were 200 with French Casualties at 100  with the Chinese losing an estimated 1,500 men.

The below men were killed or died of their wounds in the Battle at Taku Fort

Lance Sergeant John Hassett

Corporal Armille Cottrill

Private John Smith

Private John Biddle

Private Michael Mealy

Private Jonathan Beavis

Private Charles Cash

Private Samuel Clarke

Private Edwin Lenney

Private Hamilton Marshall

Private Jas Steward

Private James Chilvers

Private Jeremiah Easton

Private T Murphy