Antiqua Print Gallery Bombardment of Shimonoseki
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The Bombardment of Shimonoseki (Japanese: Shimonoseki Sensō/Bakan Sensō) refers to a series of military engagements fought in 1863-64 , by joint naval forces from Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States, against the Japanese feudal domain of Chōshū, which took place along the banks of Kanmon Straits off the coast of Shimonoseki, Japan.
On August 17, 1864, a squadron consisting of nine British, five Dutch and three French warships (Tancrède, Sémiramis and Dupleix) together with 2,000 soldiers, all under the command of Admiral Sir Augustus Leopold Kuper RN, steamed out of Yokohama to open Shimonoseki Strait. The U.S. chartered steamer Takiang accompanied the operation in a token show of support. The two-day battle that followed on September 5 and 6 did what the previous operations could not: it destroyed the Prince of Nagato's ability to wage war.
Unable to match the firepower of the international fleet, and amid mounting casualties, the rebel Chōshū forces finally surrendered two days later on September 8, 1864. Allied casualties included seventy-two killed or wounded and two severely damaged British ships.
The stringent accord drawn up in the wake of the ceasefire, and negotiated by U.S. Minister Pruyn, included an indemnity of $3,000,000 from the Japanese (an amount equivalent to the purchase of about 30 steamships at that time). The Bakufu proved unable to pay such an amount, and this failure became the basis of further foreign pressure to have the Treaties ratified by the Emperor, the harbor of Hyōgo opened to foreign trade, and the customs tarifs lowered uniformly to 5%.
A full and interesting account is contained in Sir Ernest Satow's A Diplomat in Japan. Satow was present as a young interpreter for the British admiral, Sir Augustus Kuper on the British flagship HMS Euryalus. It was also the action at which Duncan Gordon Boyes won his Victoria Cross at the age of seventeen. Satow described Boyes as receiving the award "for conduct very plucky in one so young." Another VC winner at Shimonoseki was Thomas Pride, and the third was the first American to win the medal, William Seeley. De Casembroot wrote his account of the events in De Medusa in de wateren van Japan, in 1863 en 1864.
In 1883, twenty years after the first battle to reopen the strait, the United States quietly returned $750,000 to Japan, which represented its share of the reparation payment extracted under the rain of multi-national shells.
Several life-size replicas of the guns used by Chōshū (the ones in the image above, shown under French control) are now to be found at Shimonoseki in the spot where they were captured. They were put there by the Shimonoseki city government in 2004, in recognition of the importance of the bombardment in Japanese history. (The replicas are made of hollow steel and include coin-operated sound effects and smoke from the barrels.)

(Source Wikipedia)