HOME
        TheInfoList






Belligerents

Second French Empire French Empire
Spain Kingdom of Spain

Vietnam under Nguyễn dynastyCommanders and leaders Second French EmpireTreaty of SaigonTerritorial
changes Cochinchina (southern Vietnam) becomes a French colony.Belligerents

Second French Empire French Empire
SpainSecond French Empire French Empire
Spain Kingdom of Spain

  • French: Campagne de Cochinchine; Spanish: Expedición franco-española a Cochinchina; Vietnamese: Chiến dịch Nam Kỳ); is the common designation for a series of military operations between 1858 and 1862, launched by a joint naval expedition force on behalf of the French Empire and the Kingdom of Spain against the Nguyễn dynasty of Đại Nam (as Vietnam was known at the time).

    Initially a limited punitive expedition against the persecution and execution of French (and to a lesser extent Spanish) Catholic missionaries in Đại Nam, the ambitious French emperor Napoleon III however, authorized the deployment of increasingly larger contingents, that subdued Đại Nam territory and established French economic and military dominance. The war concluded with the founding of the French colony of Cochinchina and inaugurated nearly a century of French imperialism and protectorate in Vietnam in particular and Indochina in general.[1][2]

    Background

    Map of Cochinchina

    During the mid-nineteenth century, European powers quickly overran and annexed large portions of the world to their colonial empires. France was one such nation, and sought opportunities to expand its influence in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Indochina was an uncolonised and independent nation which became the main focus of French geopolitical and imperial aspirations in Asia. Certain elements of the French establishment argued that the Vietnamese emperor Gia Long owed France greater goodwill for the help French troops had given him in his struggle against his Tây Sơn opponents. However, Gia Long felt neither bound to France nor to the Qing Empire, which had also provided help. Gia Long contended that the French government had failed to honor the Treaty of Versailles and assist him in the civil war, as those who had helped him were volunteers and adventurers, not officials. Nonetheless, he and his successor Minh Mạng wished to continue the very fruitful agreement of cooperation, that had been promoted and introduced by Pierre Pigneau de Behaine as it provided French military and technical assistance and permitted the purchase of military equipment, cannons and rifles.

    Advanced fortification methods and technologies had already been adopted and implemented as trained Vietnamese planners had successfully reproduced the elaborate 18th century Vaubanesque fortress at Saigon built by French engineers.[3][4]

    French missionaries had been active in Vietnam since the 17th century. Although the ultimate goal of a Catholic Vietnamese emperor had yet to be achieved, by the middle of the 19th century a community of 600,000 Roman Catholic converts existed in Annam and Tonkin according to Bishop Pellerin.[5][6] However, most of the bishops and priests were either French or Spanish and many Vietnamese disliked and suspected this sizable Christian congregation and its foreign leaders. The French clerics increasingly felt responsible for the communal safety as tension built up gradually. During the 1840s, persecution or harassment of Catholic missionaries in Vietnam by the Vietnamese emperors Minh Mạng and Thiệu Trị evoked only sporadic and unofficial French response and decisive steps towards military incursions and an eventual establishment of a French colonial empire in Indochina was not taken until 1858.[7]

    In 1857, the Vietnamese emperor Tự Đức approved the execution of two Spanish Catholic missionaries. This was neither the first nor the last such incident and on previous occasions the French government had overlooked such provocations. But this event coincided with France dispatching a military expedition to China during the outbreak of the Second Opium War. France used these forces to subsequently intervene in Indochina. In November 1857, Napoleon III of France. emphasizing the rationale of Mission Civilisatrice authorised Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly to lead a punitive expedition against Vietnam. In September 1858, a joint French and Spanish naval expedition force landed at Tourane (Da Nang) and captured the town.[8][9][10][11]

    Tourane and Saigon

    Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly (1807–1873)
    French capture of Saigon, 17 February 1859

    Events at Tourane

    The Europeans anticipated an easy victory, but the campaign did not go as planned. The Vietnamese Christian community did not rise in support of France, as Bishop Pellerin had confidently predicted they would, and a well organized Vietnamese military resistance was more formidable than expected. The French and Spanish, who had captured the city in a marine assault found themselves in no position to progress further inland and were pinned down in a long siege by a Vietnamese army under the command of Nguyễn Tri Phương. Allied reinforcements only replaced losses leaving a small force, that occasionally attacked sections of the Vietnamese positions, but were unable to break the siege. The Siege of Tourane lasted for nearly three years and despite relative little combat, casualties among the allied troops were high, as diseases took a heavy toll.[12]

    Realising that the French garrison at Tourane was not to achieve a strategic success shortly, Rigault de Genouilly pondered options of operations in either Tonkin or Cochinchina in October 1858. As an expedition to Tonkin would require a rather unlikely large-scale uprising by the Vietnamese Christians to have any chance of success, in January 1859 he proposed to the Ministère de la Marine an expedition against Saigon in Cochinchina. This city was of considerable strategic significance as a source of food for the Vietnamese army.[6]

    Attack on Saigon

    The expedition was approved, and in early February Rigault de Genouilly sailed south for Saigon, leaving command of Tourane to capitaine de vaisseau (captain of the ship) Thoyon with a small French garrison and two gunboats. On 17 February 1859, after breaking the river defences and destroying a series of forts and stockades along the Saigon river, the French and Spanish captured Saigon. French marine infantry stormed the enormous Citadel of Saigon, while Spanish Filipino troops under Spanish command repelled a Vietnamese counterattack. The allies lacked the manpower to hold the citadel and on 8 March 1859 demolished it and set fire to the rice granaries. In April, Rigault de Genouilly returned to Tourane with the bulk of his forces to reinforce Thoyon's hard-pressed garrison, leaving capitaine de frégate Bernard Jauréguiberry with a Franco-Spanish garrison of around 1,000 men at Saigon.[13]

    The Franco-Spanish division struggled to consolidate its position after the capture of Saigon. Jauréguiberry's small detachment suffered substantial losses in a surprise attack on a Vietnamese fortification to the west of Saigon on 21 April 1859 and was forced to remain inside its defence perimeter thereafter. Meanwhile, the outbreak of the Austro-Sardinian War tied down large numbers of French troops in Italy. In November 1859, Rigault de Genouilly was replaced by Admiral François Page, who had been instructed to obtain a treaty with focus on the protection of the Catholic faith in Vietnam and not to seek any territorial gains. In early November Page began negotiations, which, however, proved to be unsatisfactory.

    The Vietnamese, aware of France's distraction in Italy, refused these moderate terms and spun out the negotiations in the hope that the allies would cut their losses and abandon the campaign altogether. On 18 November 1859 Page bombarded and captured the Kien Chan forts at Tourane, but this allied tactical victory failed to change the stance of the Vietnamese negotiators. The war continued into 1860.[14]

    The siege

    During the second half of 1859 and throughout 1860, the French had failed to bring about a decisive breakout or made any territorial gains at Tourane and Saigon. Although the Austro-Sardinian War ended by early 1860 the French were again at war with China and Page had to divert most of his forces to support Admiral Léonard Charner's China expedition. In April 1860, Page left Cochinchina to join Charner at Canton. Meanwhile, in March 1860, a 4,000 strong Vietnamese army began to besiege Saigon. The defence of Saigon was entrusted to capitaine de vaisseau Jules d'Ariès. The 1,000 men strong Franco-Spanish garrison in Saigon had to resist a siege by superior numbers from March 1860 to February 1861. Realising that they could hold only either Saigon or Tourane, the French evacuated the garrison of Tourane in March 1860, bringing the Tourane campaign to an unsuccessful end.[15][16][10][17][6]

    Ky Hoa and Mỹ Tho

    In early 1861, the war with China ended as the admirals Charner and Page were now free to return to Cochinchina and resume the campaign around Saigon. A naval contingent of 70 ships under Charner (who was now in charge of all land and sea forces) and 3,500 soldiers under the command of General de Vassoigne were transferred from northern China to Saigon. Charner's squadron was the most powerful French naval force in Vietnamese waters prior to the creation of the French Far East Squadron on the eve of the Sino-French War (August 1884 to April 1885). It included the steam frigates Impératrice Eugénie and Renommée (Charner and Page's respective flagships), the corvettes Primauguet, Laplace and Du Chayla, eleven screw-driven despatch vessels, five first-class gunboats, seventeen transports and a hospital ship. The squadron was accompanied by half a dozen armed lorchas purchased in Macao.[18]

    These reinforcements eventually provided the allies with troops for tactical maneuvers at Saigon. On 24 and 25 February 1861, the French and Spanish successfully assaulted the Vietnamese siege lines, defeating marshal Nguyễn Tri Phương in the battle of Ky Hoa. Nonetheless, the Vietnamese forces vehemently and skillfully defended their positions, which resulted in considerable allied casualties.[19] The victory at Ky Hoa allowed the French and Spanish to regain the operational initiative. In April 1861, the city of Mỹ Tho southwest of Saigon fell to the French. An assault force under capitaine de vaisseau Antoine Louis Le Couriault du Quilio, supported by a small flotilla of gunboats, advanced on Mỹ Tho from the north along the Bao Dinh Ha creek, and between 1 and 11 April destroyed several Vietnamese forts and fought its way along the creek to the vicinity of Mỹ Tho. Le Couriault de Quilio gave orders for an assault on the town on 12 April. However, a flotilla of warships under the command of Admiral Page, sent by Charner to approach up the Mekong river to attack Mỹ Tho by sea, appeared off the town on the same day. Mỹ Tho was occupied by the French on 12 April 1861 without a shot being fired.[20]

    In March 1861, shortly before the capture of Mỹ Tho, the French again offered peace terms to Tự Đức, which were considerably harsher than those offered by Page in November 1859. The French demanded the free exercise of Christianity in Vietnam, the cession of Saigon province, an indemnity of 4 million piastres, freedom of commerce and movement inside Vietnam and the establishment of French consulates. Tự Đức was only prepared to concede on the free exercise of religion and rejected all others. The war continued and after the fall of Mỹ Tho the French added Mỹ Tho province to the list of territorial demands.[21]

    Increasingly less able to confront the French and Spanish forces in open combat, Tự Đức was forced to shift to guerrilla warfare and sent his agents into the conquered Vietnamese provinces to organise resistance. Charner responded on 19 May by officially declaring a state of siege in the Saigon and Mỹ Tho provinces. French units roved through the Cochinchinese countryside, fanning popular resistance by the brutality with which they treated suspected insurgents. Although Charner had ordered his forces to restrain from violence against peaceful villagers, his orders were not always obeyed. Occasionally the Vietnamese guerrillas threatened the French troops as on 22 June 1861 the outpost at Gò Công was, although unsuccessfully, attacked by 600 Vietnamese insurgents.[22]

    The Qui Nhơn incident

    punitive expedition against the persecution and execution of French (and to a lesser extent Spanish) Catholic missionaries in Đại Nam, the ambitious French emperor Napoleon III however, authorized the deployment of increasingly larger contingents, that subdued Đại Nam territory and established French economic and military dominance. The war concluded with the founding of the French colony of Cochinchina and inaugurated nearly a century of French imperialism and protectorate in Vietnam in particular and Indochina in general.[1][2]

    During the mid-nineteenth century, European powers quickly overran and annexed large portions of the world to their colonial empires. France was one such nation, and sought opportunities to expand its influence in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Indochina was an uncolonised and independent nation which became the main focus of French geopolitical and imperial aspirations in Asia. Certain elements of the French establishment argued that the Vietnamese emperor Gia Long owed France greater goodwill for the help French troops had given him in his struggle against his Tây Sơn opponents. However, Gia Long felt neither bound to France nor to the Qing Empire, which had also provided help. Gia Long contended that the French government had failed to honor the Treaty of Versailles and assist him in the civil war, as those who had helped him were volunteers and adventurers, not officials. Nonetheless, he and his successor Minh Mạng wished to continue the very fruitful agreement of cooperation, that had been promoted and introduced by Pierre Pigneau de Behaine as it provided French military and technical assistance and permitted the purchase of military equipment, cannons and rifles.

    Advanced fortification methods and technologies had already been adopted and implemented as trained Vietnamese planners had successfully reproduced the elaborate 18th century Vaubanesque fortress at Saigon built by French engineers.[3][4]

    French missionaries had been active in Vietnam since the 17th century. Although the ultimate goal of a Catholic Vietnamese emperor had yet to be achieved, by the middle of the 19th century a community of 600,000 Roman Catholic converts existed in Annam and Tonkin according to Bishop Pellerin.[5][6] However, most of the bishops and priests were either French or Spanish and many Vietnamese disliked and suspected this sizable Christian congregation and its foreign leaders. The French clerics increasingly felt responsible for the communal safety as tension built up gradually. During the 1840s, persecution or harassment of Catholic missionaries in Vietnam by the Vietnamese emperors Minh Mạng and Thiệu Trị evoked only sporadic and unofficial French response and decisive steps towards military incursions and an eventual establishment of a French colonial empire in Indochina was not taken until 1858.[7]

    In 1857, the Vietnamese emperor Tự Đức approved the execution of two Spanish Catholic missionaries. This was neither the first nor the last such incident and on previous occasions the French government had overlooked such provocations. But this event coincided with France dispatching a military expedition to China during the outbreak of the Second Opium War. France used these forces to subsequently intervene in Indochina. In November 1857, Napoleon III of France. emphasizing the rationale of Mission Civilisatrice authorised Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly to lead a punitive expedition against Vietnam. In September 1858, a joint French and Spanish naval expedition force landed at Tourane (Da Nang) and captured the town.[8][9][10][11]

    Vaubanesque fortress at Saigon built by French engineers.[3][4]

    French missionaries had been active in Vietnam since the 17th century. Although the ultimate goal of a Catholic Vietnamese emperor had yet to be achieved, by the middle of the 19th century a community of 600,000 Roman Catholic converts existed in Annam and Tonkin according to Bishop Pellerin.[5][6] However, most of the bishops and priests were either French or Spanish and many Vietnamese disliked and suspected this sizable Christian congregation and its foreign leaders. The French clerics increasingly felt responsible for the communal safety as tension built up gradually. During the 1840s, persecution or harassment of Catholic missionaries in Vietnam by the Vietnamese emperors Minh Mạng and Thiệu Trị evoked only sporadic and unofficial French response and decisive steps towards military incursions and an eventual establishment of a French colonial empire in Indochina was not taken until 1858.[7]

    In 1857, the Vietnamese emperor Tự Đức approved the execution of two Spanish Catholic missionaries. This was neither the first nor the last such incident and on previous occasions the French government had overlooked such provocations. But this event coincided with France dispatching a military expedition to China during the outbreak of the Second Opium War. France used these forces to subsequently intervene in Indochina. In November 1857, Napoleon III of France. emphasizing the rationale of Mission Civilisatrice authorised Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly to lead a punitive expedition against Vietnam. In September 1858, a joint French and Spanish naval expedition force landed at Tourane (Da Nang) and captured the town.[8][9][10][11]

    The Europeans anticipated an easy victory, but the campaign did not go as planned. The Vietnamese Christian community did not rise in support of France, as Bishop Pellerin had confidently predicted they would, and a well organized Vietnamese military resistance was more formidable than expected. The French and Spanish, who had captured the city in a marine assault found themselves in no position to progress further inland and were pinned down in a long siege by a Vietnamese army under the command of Nguyễn Tri Phương. Allied reinforcements only replaced losses leaving a small force, that occasionally attacked sections of the Vietnamese positions, but were unable to break the siege. The Siege of Tourane lasted for nearly three years and despite relative little combat, casualties among the allied troops were high, as diseases took a heavy toll.[12]

    Realising that the French garrison at Tourane was not to achieve a strategic success shortly, Rigault de Genouilly pondered options of operations in either Tonkin or Cochinchina in October 1858. As an expedition to Tonkin would require a rather unlikely large-scale uprising by the Vietnamese Christians to have any chance of success, in January 1859 he proposed to the Ministère de la Marine an expedition against Saigon in Cochinchina. This city was of considerable strategic significance as a source of food for the Vietnamese army.[6]

    Attack on Saigon

    The expedition was approved, and in early February Rigault de Genouilly sailed south for Saigon, leaving command of Tourane to capitaine de vaisseau (captain of the ship) Thoyon with a small French garrison and two gunboats. On 17 February 1859, after breaking the river defences and destroying a series of forts and stockades along the Saigon river, the French and Spanish captured Saigon. French marine infantry stormed the enormous Citadel of Saigon, while Spanish Filipino troops under Spanish command repelled a Vietnamese counterattack. The allies lacked the manpower to hold the citadel and on 8 March 1859 demolished it and set fire to the rice granaries. In April, Rigault de Genouilly returned to Tourane with the bulk of his forces to reinforce Thoyon's hard-pressed garrison, leaving capitaine de frégate Bernard Jauréguiberry with a Franco-Spanish garrison of around 1,000 men at Saigon.[13]

    Realising that the French garrison at Tourane was not to achieve a strategic success shortly, Rigault de Genouilly pondered options of operations in either Tonkin or Cochinchina in October 1858. As an expedition to Tonkin would require a rather unlikely large-scale uprising by the Vietnamese Christians to have any chance of success, in January 1859 he proposed to the Ministère de la Marine an expedition against Saigon in Cochinchina. This city was of considerable strategic significance as a source of food for the Vietnamese army.[6]

    The expedition was approved, and in early February Rigault de Genouilly sailed south for Saigon, leaving command of Tourane to capitaine de vaisseau (captain of the ship) Thoyon with a small French garrison and two gunboats. On 17 February 1859, after breaking the river defences and destroying a series of forts and stockades along the Saigon river, the French and Spanish captured Saigon. French marine infantry stormed the enormous Citadel of Saigon, while Spanish Filipino troops under Spanish command repelled a Vietnamese counterattack. The allies lacked the manpower to hold the citadel and on 8 March 1859 demolished it and set fire to the rice granaries. In April, Rigault de Genouilly returned to Tourane with the bulk of his forces to reinforce Thoyon's hard-pressed garrison, leaving capitaine de frégate Bernard Jauréguiberry with a Franco-Spanish garrison of around 1,000 men at Saigon.[13]

    The Franco-Spanish division struggled to consolidate its position after the capture of Saigon. Jauréguiberry's small detachment suffered substantial losses in a surprise attack on a Vietnamese fortification to the west of Saigon on 21 April 1859 and was forced to remain

    The Franco-Spanish division struggled to consolidate its position after the capture of Saigon. Jauréguiberry's small detachment suffered substantial losses in a surprise attack on a Vietnamese fortification to the west of Saigon on 21 April 1859 and was forced to remain inside its defence perimeter thereafter. Meanwhile, the outbreak of the Austro-Sardinian War tied down large numbers of French troops in Italy. In November 1859, Rigault de Genouilly was replaced by Admiral François Page, who had been instructed to obtain a treaty with focus on the protection of the Catholic faith in Vietnam and not to seek any territorial gains. In early November Page began negotiations, which, however, proved to be unsatisfactory.

    The Vietnamese, aware of France's distraction in Italy, refused these moderate terms and spun out the negotiations in the hope that the allies would cut their losses and abandon the campaign altogether. On 18 November 1859 Page bombarded and captured the Kien Chan forts at Tourane, but this allied tactical victory failed to change the stance of the Vietnamese negotiators. The war continued into 1860.[14]

    During the second half of 1859 and throughout 1860, the French had failed to bring about a decisive breakout or made any territorial gains at Tourane and Saigon. Although the Austro-Sardinian War ended by early 1860 the French were again at war with China and Page had to divert most of his forces to support Admiral Léonard Charner's China expedition. In April 1860, Page left Cochinchina to join Charner at Canton. Meanwhile, in March 1860, a 4,000 strong Vietnamese army began to besiege Saigon. The defence of Saigon was entrusted to capitaine de vaisseau Jules d'Ariès. The 1,000 men strong Franco-Spanish garrison in Saigon had to resist a siege by superior numbers from March 1860 to February 1861. Realising that they could hold only either Saigon or Tourane, the French evacuated the garrison of Tourane in March 1860, bringing the Tourane campaign to an unsuccessful end.[15][16][10][17][6]

    Ky Hoa and Mỹ Tho

    The expedition had turned out to be longer and costlier than initially thought and from a position of strength the French intended to fully enforce their conditions of military and colonial dominance.[31] Tự Đức's minister Phan Thanh Giản signed a treaty with Admiral Bonard and the Spanish representative Colonel Palanca y Gutierrez on 5 June 1862. The [30]

    The expedition had turned out to be longer and costlier than initially thought and from a position of strength the French intended to fully enforce their conditions of military and colonial dominance.[31] Tự Đức's minister Phan Thanh Giản signed a treaty with Admiral Bonard and the Spanish representative Colonel Palanca y Gutierrez on 5 June 1862. The Treaty of Saigon required Vietnam to legalize the free practise of the Catholic faith within its territory, to cede the provinces of Biên Hòa, Gia Định and Định Tường and the islands of Poulo Condore to France, to allow the French to trade and travel freely along the Mekong River, to open the ports of Tourane, Quảng Yên and Ba Lac (at the mouth of the Red River) to trade and to pay an indemnity of one million dollars to France and Spain over a ten-year period. The French placed all acquired territories under the administration of the Marine Ministry, thereby establishing the colony of Cochinchina with its capital Saigon.[32]

    Aftermath

    Pierre de la Grandière forced the Vietnamese to cede the provinces of Châu Đốc, Hà Tiên and Vĩnh Long to France. The Vietnamese emperor Tự Đức initially refused to accept the validity of this cession, but eventually recognized French dominion over the six provinces of Cochinchina in the 1874 Treaty of Saigon, negotiated by Paul-Louis-Félix Philastre after the military intervention of Francis Garnier in Tonkin.[33] The Spanish, who had played a junior role in the Cochinchina campaign, received a share of the indemnity but made no territorial acquisitions in Vietnam. Instead, they were encouraged by the French to seek a sphere of influence in Tonkin. Nothing came of this suggestion, however, and Tonkin ultimately fell under French control also, becoming a French protectorate in 1883.[34] Perhaps the most important factor in Tự Đức's decision to make peace was the threat posed to his authority by a serious uprising in Tonkin led by the Catholic nobleman Le Bao Phung, who claimed descent from the old Lê dynasty. Although the French and Spanish rejected Le's offer of an alliance against Tự Đức, the insurgents in Tonkin were able to inflict several defeats on Vietnamese government forces. The end of the war with France and Spain allowed Tự Đức to overwhelm the insurgents in Tonkin and restore government control there. Le Bao Phung was eventually captured, tortured and put to death.[35]

    References


mysqli_error: