This Day in History: The Battle of Muddy Flat

By Ned Kelly, April 4, 2020

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The Battle of Muddy Flat of April 4, 1854 was more a small skirmish, but of note as it is believed to be the first time British and American forces fought as allies in a land battle.

From Queen Victoria’s Little Wars by Byron Farwell:

“During the Taiping Rebellion in 1854 an Imperial army camped on Soochow Creek near Shanghai and started to molest Europeans as well as Chinese. Rutherford Alcock, the British consul in Shanghai demanded that the Chinese move their army elsewhere.

Although Alcock had practically no force at his disposal, he couched his demand in imperious language: the camp must be moved by 4pm the following day. The Chinese did not reply but moved a fleet of war junks up Soochow Creek to defend the camp.

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Image via QQ

Alcock, with typical Victorian audacity, at once put together a tiny army of European civilians from the International Settlement, a few Royal Navy sailors and about a hundred men from the USS Plymouth. With two field guns and two howitzers, a drum and British and American flags, he marched off for the camp of the Imperial army. 

The war junks fired on them from Soochow Creek but, as Alcock had rightly anticipated, the Chinese soldiers fled when he brought his own guns into play. The battle was short and ludicrous, but 300 Chinese and four Westerners were killed in the conflict."

This article was originally published in April 4, 2016. It has been updated and republished on April 4, 2019.

[Cover image via Weheartit]


For more This Day in History stories, click here.

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